India won, barely. What next?

India played Sri Lanka in their 2nd match in the tri-series. India did win with 20 balls to spare, but it was anything but an easy win. India initially did well to restrict Sri Lanka to a score of 233 (in 50 overs compared to a 216 in 32 by Australia in first match). Indian bowling attack was very effective and Dhoni did not need a 6th bowler (does not happen a lot with Indian bowling). The most expensive was Vinay Kumar only at an economy rate of 5.60.

Well, after the first innings job was only half done and we needed at least 2 half-centuries to get close and 3-half centuries and a couple cameos to get across the line. Eventually, those did come – some expected and others not. Gambhir was not playing (even though he did well in the T20 win for India). Sehwag was brought back after being rested and he failed yet again (out on 10). Sachin and Kohli provided a much needed partnership. However, there was a twist in store when Sachin was out on 48, we Rohit, Raina and Dhoni scored 38 runs between them leaving Kohli to do the job. And when Kohli cramped up and got run out, India were reeling 181/6 needing 50+ runs with just 4 wickets and R. Jadeja and Ashwin playing.

I personally had lost all hope, but it seemed Sri Lanka is more screwed up then India and they let India slip away and Ashwin was the unseen Hero who took India to victory scoring 30 off 44 ball in a very serene manner – no riski shots, just common sense (all that was needed). Rohit and Dhoni were out playing needless risky shots and getting out. From test matches to one dayers, we see Kohli doing the best, Sachin trying to keep up and Ashwin being the surprise batsmen. Gambhir has had one odd good knock – rest everyone has been simply worthless. I wonder, how long will this team keep Sri Lanka at bay.

With Rohit, Raina making no impact in 4 matches they have played – we do need to ask ourselves if they are the best players to play on Australian bouncy pitches and if not not, then who else do we have? A quick look at the squad shows us that we do have Parthiv Patel, Manoj Tiwary, Irfan Pathan and Umesh Yadav on bench. to top it all, Dhoni said that because of rotation policy, he might rest Sachin / Sehwag to play Gambhir in next match.

Okay, we are struggling, but do we have to wait until all hell breaks loose to find a team that works for us. Or we start trying now and start loosing by making changes. And, if we have to make changes we have to make though full (intelligent or not will be decided if they work or not) ones like:

  • Bring in Manoj to replace Raina or Rohit
  • Pathn for Vinay Kumar
  • Parthiv to open with Sachin

These changes may not work, but will do two things a) make other players realize that they can be dropped to try new players if they do not play and b) allow new player a chance to perform. We just have to make sure we give enough some time for new players to perform (consider that Sehwag continues to play after no performance for god knows how many matches) and if they dont preform lets go back and find new players to beef up the competition and not revert back to players who are not playing. Having said all that, we should also consider to bring back old players in case they are ready to work hard and perform (fear of getting dropped for ever may do wonders).

Lets see what Dhoni does when India Plays Australia next on Feb 12.

Where does it end for Indian Team?

India cricket crest

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In December last year, as India was starting its tourĀ of Australia, we all had high hopes – India had not done so well against England, but we knew Australia was also struggling and for some reason we all hoped that England was a bad dream.

Yet, the dream continued and Clark & Co. made sure that they do not let Indian team even a droplet of respite. They came time and again inning after inning and made sure that India was kept on back foot. Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and finally Adelade – Indian Team hardly had any chance. All of India went through the pain of seeing their team loose 8 test matches on the trot on foreign soil. And I do not see the end anywhere near.

Last 2 series we have been saying that it is the “Speed” of the pitches that we are not prepared for. Less that 6 months, and India will be playing in the sub-continent against their neighbors. This will really let us what is wrong with the Indian Team – the pitches or something more fundamental. Unlike West Indies who we played in 2011, Sri Lanka themselves are looking for wins and will not make it easy for Team India.

To top it all, there have been rumors of the Trinity resigning, where the players have not been saying anything about the topic. It is just so frustrating not to see what the Indian think tank is thinking. Or are they waiting for another train wreck to happen. Many have said, retiring the seniors as they are not moving their best is the way to fix the team; while some are saying we need an overhaul of the India Cricket. While all this happen, the players themselves have come out and spoken like they do not care (or at least that is how I feel). When I feel embarrassed, the way my team played, how can Ashwin not feel the same way. I guess that is what leads to these losses. It was Ashwin, only who did say (paraphrase and not quote) “We have lost the series and hence we have nothing to loose”.

If this is the attitude of the Indian Team, then this downfall will never end. We first need to a way to motivate ourselves into winning, they need to decide what the benchmark is. They set it too low, and we will never be the best team in World. And, same goes for the legends too. I love Sachin, Dravid, Sehwag – they have done things for this team that I can not say less. But, they need to either step up or step down.

Sehwag – has a test average of 50+ which is awesome, but since 2010 when he played New Zealand where his match score was 150 (96 & 54), he has had only one 100+ match score in 13 matches he has played. Until that test match Sehwag has been consistent in scoring centuries say one in every 5 matches (on average). So that average would work because then there were others who would score around him and provide India a solid start.

Dravid – has a test average of 52 which again is awesome. And he has been doing better scoring 7 centuries since 2010. Yet, he has failed to perform in the other inning of the match. None of the match scores are over 200 since playing Sri Lanka in Nov 2009.

Sachin - with a test average of 55+ no matter what I say about him is going to be less. He has always come back and proven people wrong. Whenever someone said – he is done; he would come and show why he is God of Cricket. Yet, he has also now scored a match score of 200+ since October 2010, where he scored a double century against Australia in Bangalore.

No one wants to let go of their legends, but a time comes when we have to let go. Not when they are in their prime, certainly not when they are at their worst – we need to find a time when they can add value to the team and get a player ready to replace them. This time I think we have missed our opportunity and it will come to haunt us very bad and we as fans will have to live with many more losses after we have seen the rise of India Cricket.

The worst is that I do not see an End in sight.

Goodbye to India’s batting greats | Opinion | Cricinfo Magazine | ESPN Cricinfo

That dream now lies in the dust and with no Test series in sight for the next eight months, there seems to be nothing more to achieve for a generation of players who began their journey in the ’90s – the ’80s in Tendullkar’s case – and have formed the most luminous collection of batsmen in the last three decades. It’s cruel that their journey should end on such a low, but when they are gone, they will be remembered for their peaks.

Everything points to them turning up together in Adelaide. But the result and the performances won’t, and shouldn’t, matter. Indian cricket has sunk to the lowest of lows: in another time these very men, as did they so single-mindedly at the beginning of the last decade, would have been relied on to forge a revival. But their time has gone now. Indian cricket has no option but to embrace the future, however uncertain it may seem.

Not all of them will go at once. In fact, there is merit in graduating the next generation under the watch of a master or two. But a line must be drawn in Adelaide. Every player who retains his place for the next Test series must have a clear role to play in creating the future.

But for the moment, push the gloom aside and keep your eyes peeled. Viru, Rahul, Sachin and VVS you might never watch together again, and not in that order. They might or might not stroke a couple of hundreds between them, or put together one of those monster partnerships, but if you care enough to watch, there will still be moments of magic: a murderous scythe through the covers, a picture-perfect drive down the ground, a cover drive that paints the most ornate arc, or a gentle swish that charms the ball to the ropes. It’s the team, and the results, that ultimately count. But invariably it is individual players who leave the fondest memories.

via Goodbye to India’s batting greats | Opinion | Cricinfo Magazine | ESPN Cricinfo.

Cricket WC2011 – Mid-term assessment

Today in World Cup cricket the 24th match was played, that takes us to just past mid-way of the group matches (total being 42). There are 14 teams which have 10 test playing nations and 4 from the associations and at this stage there are only two teams who look somewhat formidable in this stage. Let us start with Group A.

 

Group A

Pakistan looks quite good sitting at the top of the table winning all the three matches and two of them against the minnows, but their performance against the Sub-continent side Sri Lanka was impressive – and that was not expected. However, Australia who lost one against India in the pre-cup games, is doing quite well winning 2 out of 2 but not against top sides. Their first test of the cup was against Sri Lanka, but then it was washed out. So their only next test before they get into Quarter finals will be against Pakistan late in the schedule. Until that happens no one knows where Australia will be. New Zealand seems to be doing average and most probably will qualify given Zimbabwe, Canada or Kenya wont be able to win against the Kiwis.

 

Group B

This is a more interesting group. Let me start in a very interesting way. India beat Ireland, Ireland beat England, England beat South Africa and South Africa beat West Indies. This does not mean that India is doing best. It simply means that this is a very open group at this point. Ireland is a surprise package, only if they would have beaten Bangladesh they had a good chance of qualify into Quarterfinals. South Africa was doing very well until they ran into spinners from England on a turning pitch. That showed how can they not play spin well. England lost to Ireland and was a surprise win over South Africa; but overall their bowling have been dis-appointing where they gave more than 290 runs in more than 2 occasions and two times it was against Ireland and Netherlands; India was the third occasion. India has not been doing very well either. Their decision to include Piyush Chawla over Pragyan Ojha or Ashwin came back to haunt them against England where he gave away 3 sixesin the penultimate over and India ended up with a draw where they could have won. And then against Ireland he was most expensive giving a boundary in every over he bowled. But, India’s consolation is their batting looks like holding up very well , they are not cracking under pressure. Yuvraj is back in form and so is Sehwag and Tendulkar and Kohli. India’s next big test will be in last 2 group matches against West Indies and South Africa.

 

For me from Group A, Pakistan, Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand will qualify. And from Group B it will be India, South Africa, England and West Indies. However, I do not have a prediction of who will move to the semi-finals yet. Maybe after another 2 weeks when some of the giants have faced each other is when I can make up my mind.