Archive for May, 2006

Anybody got a clue?

May 29, 2006

So, there’s been a lot of confusion among some people that I know about the World Cup 2007 tickets. My understanding was that India could end up being B1 or B2 at the end of the first round (depending on their ranking in the first round). But looking at the Follow-A-Path for India, it looks like India will be given the B2 position if it makes it through to the Super Eight stage, regardless of whether or not they did better than Sri Lanka. That doesn’t make much sense to me. Does any of you know what’s going on?

I thought India was likely to be B1 and bought tickets accordingly. Did I miss something?

No room for Powar (Part II)

May 28, 2006
Name O M Runs W Avg. Econ.
Powar 29 1 153 4 38.25 5.27
Harbhajan 49 4 192 3 64.00 3.91
Yuvraj 6 0 27 1 27.00 4.50
Sehwag 13 0 61 1 61.00 4.69

Clearly, Powar hasn’t done anything great. His economy rate is the worst and his average is not that great either. We can easily have the part-time spinners fill in for him with little ill-effect, if any.

While he can bat a bit (ave. 6.50 from 3 innings in this series), he hasn’t done anything to show he can contribute big hits at the end. His fielding, on the other hand, is a huge liability. Simply awful. As is his fitness. If Ganguly can be dropped for his poor fielding (it wasn’t the only reason, but an important one nonetheless), then so can Powar. Hell, Kumble would be a much better pick than Powar. He would certainly bowl better, and can bat just as well.

My initial thinking was that Kaif would make way for Tendulkar when he comes back, but now I am certain it has to be Powar.

Here is Part I.

Lessons to be learnt

May 28, 2006

India’s hot-air balloon, rising dramatically over the last few months, has been popped by none other than the Windies. As we come crashing down to the ground, it’s time to reflect on what went wrong. I think we’ve basically forgotten the lessons that turned our ODI performances around in the first place. It’s time to get back to the basics.

1) Fielding: When Chappell first came on, that was one of the biggest improvements you noticed on the field rightaway. Players were making great stops, return throws were spot on and they were hitting the stumps 4 times out of 5 when they had a shy at the stumps. All of them, not just one or two players. Compare that to the dismal display in this series. Today, from 30 feet away with all stumps visible, Raina tried to knock down the stumps and missed. That’s fine. What was not was that he bounced the ball, and it went right over the stumps. When you bounce the ball, it has to travel more distance, and is slowed down quite a bit when it bounces. A non-professional like me knows that, so I’m surprised that Raina, one of the better fielders in the team, did that. What I am afraid of though is that nobody might have caught it, and they’ll keep on continuing to do that. Another aspect of fielding is fitness. After the initial efforts when Chappell came on board, it seems not much has been done in this area. Players need to be pushed beyond their current fitness levels.

2) Extras: We need to get them under control. Spinners bowling wides is not acceptable. Same thing for no balls. We have to try and minimize them. We did that against other teams earlier in the season. Bowlers need to regain that control.

3) Run-outs: Losing crucial wickets to run outs, especially when the player is just not alert, or being lazy, or trying to avoid being hit by the ball, is inexcusable. Get it right.

4) Tactics: Innovation, like in the real world, can go a long way in the sport. We certainly have the room to play, what with all the new rules. Experimentation shouldn’t end at playing with batting order. When defending a small target, try not taking the last powerplay until the 45th over. This could also be very effective when defending huge totals. In a game that’s obviously being won, send in Agarkar or Harbhajan to practice some biffing. Signalling to the wicket-keeper if you’re about to bowl a slower ball or down leg-side (suggested by Dean Jones) is a great idea. Make the tail-enders take their batting seriously, and have them practice slogging. During the early overs, it’s okay to go over the top. In fact, you want to. That’s the whole bloody point. Forget about trying to thread the needle. Sehwag is especially culpable because he understands this concept, and likes to hit in the air, but he hits it at a slightly above-head height. That’s catchable, and he’s often gotten out that way. Also, if you’re hitting it in the air, put a little extra effort into it. Convert those fours that land within two feet of the rope to sixes. Those runs addup. Sehwag can easily do this if only he gives it a little more loft.

If we can do these things, and pick the best team (that means no Powar), there’s nothing in the world that can stop us.

Did I miss any problems?

Cardinal Sin?

May 24, 2006

I’ve heard several people, including Rahul Dravid, my hero (yes, he has become the first person in my life to be conferred with that sobriquet), that not batting the full 50 overs in an ODI is “cardinal sin.” I beg to differ. For if you bat the 50 overs and don’t score any runs, that’s much worse. Of course, that’s an extreme example. The point is, being aggressive and getting all out in the 45th over is better than playing 50 overs but scoring fewer runs. In the last game, India couldn’t quite figure out the runs-wickets equation. With 9 overs to go and 4 wickets in hand, you’d have expected some aggression. But the Indians were so preoccupied with saving wickets that they forgot to score runs. In Rao, Harbhajan, Powar and Agarkar you had a specialist batsman and three players capable of a good biff. Yet, they just managed 24 runs from those 9 overs. 41 runs from 15 overs after scoring 211/3 from the first thirty-five is so far below pathetic, we’ll have to invent a new word for it.

What does this mean? India’s trailing to a side that recently struggled to distinguish itself from a third-grade Zimbabwean team. I’ve mentioned several times in the past that India’s real test will come abroad. Now that we’re abroad we’re struggling against a team in the bottom rung? Does this mean we haven’t improved nearly as much as we thought we did? Does it mean we can forget about winning the Test series? About being the best in the world? I am glad to say that the answer is no. Call it optimism or foolhardiness, but I predict two much easier wins for the Indians in the next two games.

Quiz No. 3

May 23, 2006

Saw this great pic on Zainub’s blog.

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Looks like nobody knows much about this pic, so I decided to turn this into a quiz.

When and where was this game played, and who’s the bowler?

What a game!

May 20, 2006

Quite frankly, it was a snooze-fest until we got into the last 15 overs. A brilliant knock from Yuvraj, but he faltered on the last hurdle. Windies win by a run. The problem was that Yuvraj didn’t get any support. We needed just a little bit from the tail, not much. But Agarkar and Bhajji departed tamely without helping any. Oh well. Yuvraj will be disappointed, but that doesn’t take any sheen off his wonderful, well-paced innings. Considering what happened in the penultimate over, he came back strongly in the last one. Only to…

There’s no need to panic, of course. We were bound to fail chasing sooner or later. It happens to everybody, including the Aussies. Just think of it as a blip on the radar that was enjoyable nonetheless.

Who’s more popular?

May 18, 2006

Flintoff or Dravid? Google Trends has something to say about that.

They’re no match for me, of course. 😉

India’s Kallis

May 18, 2006

In ODIs, Kaif is India’s Kallis, without the consistency of scoring runs of course. I’ve written about how he’s not suited for the ODI game before, so there’s no need to elaborate. I didn’t watch today’s game, but a look at the scorecard clearly tells you that he single-handedly put tremendous pressure on the rest of the line-up. The game shouldn’t have been nearly as close as it was.

Dravid involved in another run-out. Boy, that surely has to be his Achilles Heel.

Just as edging is Yuvraj’s. Has anybody else noticed how often he edges through the slips area? I don’t think I’ve seen a game in the past year where he hasn’t done that. Luckily for him, he won’t get four slips in ODIs. Tests are a different story though, so he’ll have to fix this problem if he hopes to do well in the longer version of the game.

PS The Sabina Park ground must be small: the scorecard says Dravid hit two sixes.

Line & Length gets a facelift

May 18, 2006

Just for fun.

Which theme do you like better?

Slips galore

May 18, 2006

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