Clash of the Titan-Wannabes

by

Die Proteas*
The South Africans’ loss-less streak of 19 games is known to most cricket followers by now. The prospect of seeing two fast-rising teams go head-to-head is mouth-watering. Given that the Proteas are missing some first-choice players and are playing in foreign conditions, my money would be on India to win this series.
*Commentary will be available in Afrikaans somewhere, I presume. Confused? Look up “die” in Afrikaans.

Guilty until proven innocent
The innocent have nothing to fear. We’ve all head this before. If Gibbs and Boje are truly innocent, why then are they afraid to tour India? Their guilt is clear to my eye. Peter Roebuck (another one of my favorite cricket writers) dissects the issue in this fine article. UCB, by siding with these frauds, is debasing itself.

Promising, not proven
The rising, young Indian stars are promising, but not yet proven. There’s a lot of inexperience at the international level among Raina, Gambhir, Dhoni, RP Singh, Sreesanth, Kartik and Yadav. Playing in home conditions, however, will be helpful. They’re used to these conditions. The real test will come when they head overseas.

Dew diligence
Nothing like dew to dampen the prospects (except rain). It is a widely-held opinion that the evening dew aids batting and hampers fielding. That’s a shame given that 4 of the 5 games are day-night affairs. Can anybody shed some light on this issue? Is dew a problem at all grounds in India? Is it just during this season or throughout the year? I am just wondering what could be done to mitigate its effect (other than not holding D/N games).

After-thoughts
Looking at the tour itinerary (Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai), it seems the Poms had a point when they were complaining of being assigned remote venues.

A couple of years back, pitches at a lot of the Indian grounds were relaid, with the assistance of some New Zealanders, in the hope of making them faster. From what we’ve seen in the previous series against Sri Lanka, that hasn’t materialized (assuming a few of the venues used in that series were the ones that received the newer pitches). Most of them were slow with low or uneven bounce. Does anybody have an (official) status update on this? Are we still waiting for the pitches to get faster?

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10 Responses to “Clash of the Titan-Wannabes”

  1. Amar Says:

    As far as the dew goes, it’s a problem in the winter season in almost all grounds in India (at least that’s what I heard one of the commentators say in the series against SL). One way to minimize the dew effect is by not watering the ground for 2-3 days (maybe more) before the match, which is what the curator did in A’bad. But, it was still quite tough for the spinners to grip the bowl and the field was pretty wet and slick.
    Pratik, your take on the Gibbs-Boje situation is spot-on. The mere fact that they are unwilling to tour India following the match fixing allegations says a lot about their involvement.
    On a separate note, why is JP Yadav being persisted on by the selectors? If looking forward to WC 2007 is the main object, it makes little sense having him in the team. He is neither experienced (only 12 ODI’s) nor young (almost 32) and brings very little to the table.

  2. Kartik Says:

    Yup, India start as my favorite to win the series. The fact that everybody is contributing and the home turf advantage makes it even harder for the Proteas to win. However as we know anything is possible in cricket (though i believe india will win 4-1). Dew will be one of the factor in the series as the side batting second will have some advantage but it wont be the key reason for the defeat. I dont think there is any real effective way to mitigate its effect.

    Regarding youth of Indian cricket, I agree that they have a lot to prove but there are no questions about their talent. Dhoni and RP singh have been really impressive and look forward to see them perform well outside India as well. Dont have much information about the new pitches from new zealand except, if i remember correctly, that there was one was laid in Rajkot couple of years ago.

  3. Pratik Says:

    I had no idea Yadav was 32. But we can’t hold inexperience against him. That’s why he’s on the team: to get more experience. India’s looking for somebody who can do a decent job at both batting and bowling, and it seems right now he’s the closest we have to an all-rounder (sans Pathan and Agarkar). I agree that he’s been lack-lustre so far. Chances are he’ll be waylaid before the 2007 WC. But you’ll never know what he brings to the table until you’ve given him enough chances to show what he’s capable of.

  4. Pratik Says:

    Came across this article, which pretty much elaborates on my theme here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/4433604.stm

  5. Amar Says:

    Interesting article, especially coming from an English writer. It’s going to be a fantastic series between the two in-form but contrasting sides. One’s more of a batting team while the other’s strength is bowling. Both sides have a nice mixture of youth and experience.
    If Dhoni punched his validation ticket in the last series, it could be a coming-out party for the lanky medium-pacer R.P.Singh in this series. In the three matches I have seen him, I have been highly impressed by the young lad from UP, something that I cannot say about the much hyped Sree Santh.
    If I were to pick one guy who could be the key factor in the series, it would be Ajit Agarkar. Not the fastest or the most talented, he has the knack of picking up wickets. On the other hand, he gives away runs as often as Mr. Claus gives away christmas presents. If he is successful, it would be rejoice time from India. If he is not, it could be a long series for the host country.

  6. Pratik Says:

    Agarkar’s economy rate might not be a problem anymore either. Ian Frazer’s been helping him out. Check out this interview:
    http://cricket.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-1295187,curpg-1.cms
    Plus, he’s supremely effective when bowling at the death. If he can get the ball to reverse swing consistently, he’ll be tough to score off towards the end.

  7. Amar Says:

    Yeah, I’ve already read that article in TOI. Hopefully, he has taken the necessary steps to curb down that economy rate.

  8. Amar Says:

    I found an interesting article in the TOI on the dew factor:
    http://cricket.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1296489.cms

  9. Pratik Says:

    The one good thing is that both teams will most likely hedge their bets when it comes to naming the supersub. So, at least the supersub will work out well for the side batting first.

  10. Pratik Says:

    Kartik, your comments were blocked by the WordPress software since it thought that it was spam. I’ve recovered your comments.

    I have been really impressed with RP Singh. He has the ability to move the ball both ways and it seems we’ve finally found a really good pace bowler, instead of one who’s promising but ordinary a lot of the times. Of course, there have been a lot of red herrings recently. So, we’ll have to see how he does at the international level for a while. I hope he gets picked up for the Test series. Will blog about this later.

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