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.

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World Champoins

Cricket World Cup media
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On April 2, 2011; after waiting 28 years India was crowned world champions in the game of Cricket. I was watching the match from a friend’s apartment in Plymouth – and seeing Dhoni hit a six to win the match; the most unlikely of the places I thought I would be seeing India win the world cup and not being in India. Something that I had hoped since 1996 and see India fail time and again in 1999, 2003 and 2007. But, this time it was Dhoniunde whose captaincy we won the world cup.

The greatest gift anyone could have given to Sachin. Virat Kohli summarized very well – “Sachin has carried the burden for 21 years, it is time we carried him on our shoulders” and the victory lap saw Virat, Raina and Tusuf carrying Sachin on their shoulders. What a moment it was.

It has already been 3 days since the victory, but it still is a dream. A dream I want to live time and again.

Cricket WC2011 – What is Dhoni doing?

Mahendra Singh Dhoni of India in action during...
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Last 2 weeks, India got thrashed by England, and we were barely able to fetch a draw which was followed by a fight against Ireland. These two matches could have been easy for India, but they were not because of some decisions that M.S.Dhoni made with his captaincy; a few to name:

  • Continue to persist with Piyush Chawla
  • His assessment of Pitch in Bengaluru against Ireland
  • His defensive field placements against England and Ireland

But, we all understand there are times when they are going to get it wrong. But a third time – now that is a statement. Another match that should been a steeping stone for India to get some momentum behind them before big matches was against Netherlands and this time again Dhoni did many things that one can’t explain.

 

He played Piyush Chawla once again

Sourav Ganguly and some other commentators suggest it is good to see a captain behind young Piyush. But, are we here to groom people or win a World Cup. Piyush Chawla once again was the most expensive bowler in the squad. He was all over the place with his bowling. This also meant was that Ashwin still was on bench. If he gets a go in the match against South Africa, it will be after a break of over a month. That is something we do not want; we wanted some good match practice for him.

 

Tactics wanting to win the match in 20 overs

Sehwag, Tendulkar and Pathan were batting in a fashion as if India team has to be somewhere in a hurry. from 69/0 to 82/3 happened because they all played shots which were not required. A match that India could have won with 9 wickets and with 25 overs to spare went to 37th over with 5 wickets down and many Indians feeling we may loose. By promoting Pathan, it meant that Gambhir who has been a touch out of form did not get batting practice which was required. He came in when there with 2 wickets down and was under lot of pressure.

 

Raina still sits on bench

We have a genuine all rounder in Suresh Raina and this was the chance to see if he is in a good nick. Yuvraj is back in form but Pathan is scoring only 20s and 30s. Even if they are like a super sonic jet, they are not what we would need if we end up needing a consolidation in middle order. This match was a chance where we could have rested someone (Sehwag or Sachin a touch decision) and get a chance to Gambhir and Raina to get a knock in the middle.

 

I am not sure what India think tank is thinking, but it seems there are strategies that will lead us to winning the final. From here on, if India has to win they have to win at least 3 of their final 5 matches. The next matches will be against solid teams – South Africa and West Indies. And once we are in Quarter Finals, we need to be at the top of our game every single match day. One bad day in the office and they are fired and there goes the dream for so many of us.

 

The only silver lining is that no other team looks in solid form; Pakistan and South Africa lost matches in a dismissal fashion. Australia has not been tested and their test in pre-WC matches they crumbled under pressure too.

 

The team that can be focused from here will be the one to take it through, but for me there is no one ahead in this race.