Cricket is evolving. And not a day too soon.
Archive for the ‘Sri Lanka’ Category
The Asia Cup final is going on right now and Mendis has turned the game on its head. India were coasting at 76/1 after 9 overs. Now, it is 98/5 from 16. Currently, Mendis’ figures read 4-0-8-4. That’s 4 overs, 8 runs, 4 wickets. I’d heard a lot about this 23-year-old gem that Sri Lanka discovered, and finally I got to see him in action today. It seems it was also the first time for the Indian batsmen. Frankly, I’m quite disappointed the way they handled him (it seems they hadn’t done their research on him), but this post is not about India. It’s about Mendis. And what he can do for cricket.
Cricket will be that much more interesting because of him. I can’t wait to see Tendulkar play Mendis. India has some of the finest players of spin (Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman), and Mendis playing a Test against them is a mouth-watering aspect. Or even the Aussies. I am anxiously looking forward to these contests. They should be thrilling. Looking at the cricket schedule, India is touring Sri Lanka at the end of this month. What good timing. What might have been a drab series, at least to me, now has become very interesting. Let’s hope Tendulkar is fit and back in the Indian team by that time.
For those that haven’t seen Mendis, here’s a short video of the buzz he created when he first joined the Sri Lankan national team to play against the West Indies.
Bracken was hugely lauded for his performance in the CB series and even given the Player of the Series award. He took the most number of wickets, 21, at a miserly average of 16.52. But nobody seems to have noticed that he played exceedingly well against Sri Lanka, but not India. Here’s a breakdown of his stats.
Against Sri Lanka : Conceded 110 runs for 13 wickets at an average of 8.5 in 4 games
Against India : Conceded 237 runs for 8 wickets at an average of nearly 30 in 6 games
Everybody knows of New Zealand’s shameless run out of Muralitharan. Charlie Austin picked it as his worst moment of 2006. I won’t elaborate on that anymore. Here’s the video for those that did not see it.
My question is this: isn’t there a rule saying a batsman can only be run out when he’s attempting a run? If Murali clearly wasn’t attempting another run, shouldn’t he have been adjudged not out?
I couldn’t help but burst into laughter when I read how the Barmy Army sledged Murali back in 2003.
Throw, throw, throw the ball, gently down the seam
Murali, Murali, Murali, Murali, chucks it like a dream
Bowl, bowl, bowl the ball, gently through the air
Murali, Murali, Murali, Murali, here comes Darrell Hair … No Ball!
Even the great man himself must’ve chuckled when he first heard this. Bloody brilliant. Here are Cricinfo’s best quotes from 2003.
The Indian team has been rejuvenated and is on the cusp of a golden era. It seems to be stepping out from under a gloomy cloud into bright sunshine. Chappell and Dravid, in the midst of euphoric reactions from fans (such as my last post), insist on guarding against complacency and over-confidence, and for good reason. Sterner tests lie ahead. For the team as well as the fair-weather fans. While the Indians have bowled very well in helpful conditions, the Sri Lankans have also been of guilty of throwing their wickets away from time to time. The Indian batting has been hardly tested in half the games. South Africa won’t fold as easily. India not only needs to do very well against the South Africans, but also in other countries to prove that this meteoric rise is not a flash in the pan.
The Sri Lankans, who excel in home conditions unlike any other team, were in a similar position not too long ago. And how they have fallen in the blink of an eye. While their abysmal batting display is the obvious cause of the fiasco, I think there’s one more reason. Atapattu’s captaincy has been uninspiring and, to be blunt, simply horrific. While I can’t comment on his leadership skills, it’s very lucid to me that he lacks the mental aptitude (cricketing acumen, if you will) to make wise decisions on the field. In the 6th ODI, with India chasing 197, the only way he could have won was if he bowled them out. Why then did he decide to take the two optional powerplays within the first 25 overs? He’s done this time and again: exercise powerplays at inopportune times. What’s more, he committed a major faux pas and bowled 6 overs instead of 5 for the 3rd powerplay. While that was, in the end, irrelevant in this game, it could cost them a game in tighter circumstances. His field placings have been reactive rather than proactive, he’s been guilty of taking pressure off the Indians when he should have been capitalizing on it, he has shown that he can’t read a pitch if it were a book written in Sinhala (although he probably had some help in coming to that decision), and his ineptness has been exposed in face of the new ODI rules. The Sri Lankan selectors need to take note of this.
The Indians, meanwhile, are motoring along like a Hummer, featuring a plethora of riches and going right over anything in their path. Most players have put their hand up one time or another during this series, and shown that they deserve their spot in the team. Only the places of Kartik, Yadav and Sreesanth seem under question at this point. India is quickly finding its core nucleus of players and has its eyes firmly set on the prize: the 2007 World Cup. The bowling has been impressive, the batting line has a lot of depth, the fielding standard has gone up considerably, the bench strength is promising, and team spirits are high. Expectations from this team continue to rise, and all signs suggest they are not misplaced.
It’s lunch during Game 6. Sri Lankans have been dismissed before the 50 overs for the fourth time in this series. Impeccable keeping from Dhoni (two catches, one stumping, one run out, zero byes), a good display of bowling on what is a decent batting track (just 3 extras, all out for less than 200 within 43 overs), superb fielding (condoning a few misfields, the fielders were on the ball and hitting the stumps all the time), emergence of youth (add RP Singh to the list), and an ebullient and synergetic team performance have left me wondering what superlatives to lavish on this unit. All I can manage for now is “mind-boggling.” The upcoming series against S. Africa is all the more appealing.
Who could have predicted such a stark turn-around from the sorry state of things less than a month ago? Much credit goes to Chappell, and Dravid as well. The much maligned selection panel is ringing in the right changes, and its significance needs to be acknowledged. Now, if only the BCCI could mimic this improvement in the administrative world. I suppose that would require, akin to the coaching position, bringing in Rod Marsh to replace the incompetent Ranbir Singh Mahendra.
Sri Lankan fans must have been hoping for a Red Sox-like comeback from their national cricket team. It was not to be, and now both South Africa and India have clean-swept their higher-ranked opponents. South Africa, in fact, has won their last 12 ODIs. The two teams meet next in a 5-ODI series and it should be exciting.
I wonder what was the thinking behind having Virender Sehwag as Dravid’s deputy? Sehwag is a wonderful cricketer and not one phased by opponents’ reputations. However, he doesn’t come across as a thinker or a particularly good strategist. He can’t be termed disciplined, nor is he a good media person. Was he appointed vice-captain simply because of the lack of a better option?
In one of my recent posts, I spoke about the English media panning BCCI for picking relatively unknown venues. Mike Selvey now joins the castigation with some more accusations. What stands out for me from his piece is that England had agreed to 4 tests and 5 ODIs and the Indian board dropped a test in favour of 2 more ODIs. Grrr. This board is doing a disservice to Indian cricket in so many ways (this case just being one of them) that it ought to be torn apart and rebuilt from scratch.
Duncan Fletcher makes an asinine excuse for dropping Thorpe from the Ashes in this article. If he felt Pietersen was indisposable, Bell should have made way for Thorpe; but he dismisses that option saying he wasn’t comfortable with him playing at number four. Thorpe had the most stand-out performance the previous season, has contributed so much to English cricket and he was meted out such shoddy treatment from the board and the team management (he complained, not of being dropped, but of no communication from the management to that end). I know that’s in the past and England managed to win the Ashes despite Bell’s inexperience and incompetency, but I just had to vent my anger at the decision that was made. Thorpe deserved a better farewell.
I think the Indian masses are ready for Twenty20. In fact, they yearn for it so much that the Indian cricket management is compelled to serve pancakes for pitches match after match. I just saw India score 350 against Sri Lanka, and what’s more, Sri Lanka might still be fancying its chances (remember when Pakistan nearly chased down a similar total against India in Spring 2004?). A lot of people complain about the ludicrous number of records being set in games involving Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, yet this circus goes uncriticized.
Tendulkar’s return to international cricket was eagerly watched by many, and you can expect scrolls and scrolls of reports about his “brilliant” innings. The fact of the matter is, unlike Pathan’s innings, Tendulkar’s was far from fluent. There were plenty of mistimed shots, missed run out chances, heaves that failed to connect, and a dropped catch too. He was far from his best, and that was partly expected. What was pleasing, however, was his attacking style of play. He frequently danced down the track (even to Vaas), and that’s something he hasn’t been willing to do of late. If this is a sign of things to come, we can expect some terrific entertainment in the last few years of his career.
What’s with the BCCI scheduling 7-ODI series against visiting sides? Is the money all that they’re interested in? Are ODIs not monotonous enough? What about the fact that India played an ODI series in Sri Lanka not too long ago?
As with such series on the subcontinent in the past, we can expect to find totals in the vicinity of 300 far from safe. I sincerely hope that I am proven wrong and that the wickets are much more sporting this time around.