Tables Turned: Australia Choke, South African Win

Today South Africa won a Test against Australia. South Africa won by a handsome 8 wickets. But the drama and mayhem from the day before was truly stuff of Cricket legend.

The first day ended with Australia on 214/8 with Micheal Clarke not out on 107. On day two, Clarke went on to score 151, while Australia scored 284.

South Africa was then blown away by Australia for a paltry 96.

Australia started the 3rd innings with a commanding lead of 188 runs. Australia was all set for a victory and guess what? They choked. Bowled out for only 47 runs it left South Africa to get 236 to win. The second day had started with the 1st innings and ended with the 4th innings resuming.

No more drama unfolded and the match was won with only 2 wickets being lost in the 4th innings.

Both teams in one innings managed so score over 200 while in another could not manage to reach 100.

Usually South Africa known to be chokers, especially against Australia ended up winning from a difficult position. Australia on the other hand did something they never do, which is choke when victory is in sight.

Both these teams are not ranked #1 and it is now over 2 years that Australia has been ranked behind India in Tests. Also England is the worlds #1 team. The world of cricket has truly turn around. ūüėÄ

(post inspired via @mani0993)

Link: Score Card

5 Reasons India got White Washed – Slip to #3 rank in Test Cricket

Way back in 1993 in January/February – England toured India. They were considered to be the better test side but ended up losing the 3 test series 3-0. Today with a 4-0 victory over India, England has avenged its defeat. They have also moved to the top of the ICC Test Rankings, while India which went to England as #1 has not slipped to #3.

 

Image Source

Here are five reasons India lost the series 4-0

  1. Batting Flopped: India’s best batsman in this series was Rahul Dravid who scored 3 centuries. No one else scored a hundred and the Indian team scored 300 runs only once.
  2. Bowling Flopped: The bowling derailed from the first day onwards. Zaheer Khan was out of the first Test with an injury, Harbhajan Singh was similarly gone after the second. Amit Mishra did not impress with the ball. Praveen Kumar was probably the most impressive and was leading India’s bowling attack. Considering he has made his test debut only a month ago, leaves a lot to desire about India’s bench strength.
  3. Bad Selections: Rohit Sharma, arguably India’s best batsman from the younger lot, was not picked to play Test matches. Munaf Patel was left stranded while a late addition into the team like RP. Singh was immediately picked for a match.
  4. Too Much Cricket and Injuries: India did not play a single test match without injury problems. The first test saw Zaheer Khan injured, second test saw Harbhajan Singh injured. Third Test started without many more injuries but it ended with Praveen Kumar being injured. After the fourth Test Sehwag and Ishant Sharma are returning to India after injuries. The number of players being injured probably resembles a rugby team and not a cricket team. This is probably because of way too much Cricket being played over the past couple of years.
  5. BCCI: The BCCI seems hardly interested in Test cricket. There is no explanation possible for a tour of England with only a single practice game. Guess what India is touring Australia in December this year, and according to schedule, India has only one club level practice game before the Test series.
What are your views? Take a poll on what was responsible of India’s debacle here. Do drop in your comments.

What makes Laxman very very special?

Way back in 1998 Laxman was still making his way into the Indian team. He was in the ODI squad in Sharjah. The opponents at Sharjah were the mighty Australians led by Steve Waugh. Sachin Tendulkar was playing the innings of his life and on the other side watching him was VVS Laxman.

Laxman was completely out of depth in that match and had a few nervous moments.

It is ironic that VVS Laxman has chosen to make Australia his favourite opponents and pressure something that he thrives under.

Just that today’s (5th Oct 2010) match into account. He managed to come out with an injured back, hang around and put together an impossible win taking India to victory by just 1 wicket.

So what makes VVS Laxman very very special?

VVS Laxman has scored 7490 runs at an average of 47.40 in Test cricket. This is a healthy no for any test cricketer but what makes him special are his match winning innings. We must have lost count of the times Laxman scores run when India truly need those runs.
In the table below are the runs scored and averages of Ponting, Tendulkar and Laxman in the 3rd or 4th innings of a test match. These numbers are usually much less flattering than career stats as all these innings are played under pressure and on a 4th or 5th day pitch.

Runs Average
VVS Laxman 2877 50.47
Tendulkar 3939 43.28
Ponting 3487 43.85

The table above shows that Laxman average while chasing or setting victorious scores is higher than his career average. No wonder VVS Laxman is India’s go to man.

5 Lessons to learn from IPL for Test matches being watched by empty stadiums

There are many who think IPL is far too commercial and I have even heard comments that it is more about money than sports. Those are debates which will keep on being discussed but I went to see an IPL match in Mumbai Stadium recently and I was pleasantly surprised at how good the experience is for someone spending a lot of money to view a game from the stands.

Last time I visited a Test match I had a pretty rough time and spectator comfort was something I was pretty sure the organizers had never even considered. Worse part was I felt like a fool who went to watch a Test match in a near empty stadium.

#1. Buying Tickets

For buying tickets to a Test match you have to go through a great deal of trouble. Most times you have to know someone inside the Cricket Association to get decent seats or take a chance and by tickets. Compare the IPL scenario. Almost a month before the tournament started they put out advertisements and took the help of the internet to make booking tickets extremely accessible.

#2. Food and Beverage facilities

Food and beverages were readily available during an IPL match whereas during Test matches it if very difficult to manage to get decent drinking water. With a ban on carrying water inside the stadium watching a Test match for 6 hours without even water being available at times can be too much for a spectator.

#3. Public Announcements and Interactions

There were many public announcement and a lot of interaction by the security guards and ushers which made things very good for people especially older people. IPL organizers had music being played between overs and also during the breaks. Ofcourse it is fancy to criticize the use of cheerleaders during IPL matches but fact not many cover that interaction of the organizers with the crowd is at a great level.

#4. Selective Venues

IPL matches are played at selective venues only which allows the stadiums to spruce up without worrying if they will host another match. This would be the same if a venue like Brabourne in Mumbai and Kolkatta’s Eden Gardens were assured of a Test match every year. This would allow the local state association to plan for better facilities.

#5. Importance

IPL matches are given importance by various board dignitaries and officials. But when have we see the top honchos of the Board watch a full Test match or watch atleast a full day. If the board give’s a Test Match importance it will automatically take care of the four points I have written above.

So do you agree with me or not? Do let me know by dropping in your comments.

Fascinating Test cricket battles in the week ahead

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The week that lies ahead will see some fascinating Test cricket action. It is quite a unique time as all Test playing nations except Bangladesh are involved in a test series. England is touring South Africa, West Indies are touring Austrialia, Pakistan are playing in New Zealand and closer home Sri Lanka will play the final Test of the three match series tomorrow against India.

India play Srilanka at the historic Brabourne…

India takes of Sri Lanka tomorrow at the Brabourne Stadium. It is a stadium that has been known to be the bastion of culture and legacy when it comes to cricket in India. The association which runs the stadium (CCI) had a falling out with the Mumbai Cricket Association back in the early 70s. This led MCA to construct a new stadium called the Wankhede. The two associations have gotten closer now a days and with the Wankhede stadium undergoing a major re-building exercise Brabourne gets its chance to host one more Test match after 36 long years. Last time Test cricket was played at the Brabourne, Sachin Tendulkar was not even born!

India will be keen to win this Test match as it will haul it upwards to being the No 1 ranked Test team in the ICC rankings. This will be quite an achievement for the Indian team who are not particularly hailed for their ability in Test cricket.

New Zealand host Pakistan…

Not sure if New Zealand will have their confidence high after last weeks win over Pakistan. The Pakistan team came very close to an unlikely win over the Kiwis. But I still feel Pakistan have some inherent technically challenged opening batsmen along with some sparkling yet not reliable batting lineup. They have a great bowling line up too but I still feel it would not be able to match up to New Zealand’s usual dose of resoluteness and professionalism. The Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan begins on 3rd December 2009. If you are in India you should be able to catch the action on Ten Sports in early morning around 430 am.

Australia host West Indies in Adelaide…

In the first Test Match Australia declared their innings at 480/8 and bowled out West Indies twice in less than 2 days. The match was over on the 3rd day itself and was one sided more of less from the first day’s first session. This sort of a defeat does not speak very highly of West Indies’ chances in the second Test at Adelaide. This match starts on Friday morning at 5.30 in the morning. Indian viewers should be able to catch the game on Star Cricket.

India destroys Sri Lanka in Kanpur Test

india_win_kanpur

Last time a Test match was played at Green Park in Kanpur, India won the test against South Africa but because the match was over in 3 days the Kanpur pitch came up for a lot of flak. This match which was being played against Sri Lanka got over in 4 days but no one can really complained about a bad pitch. Not after India amassed a massive 642 runs with their top 6 batsmen scoring 3 centuries and 2 fifties amongst them. The surprise was not really the Indian batting coming good but the changes made to the bowling. These changes did go along way to get India its 100th test victory.

Changes that work for India…

India dropped Amit Mishra and Ishant Sharma and included controversy’s favourite child S. Sreesanth along with Pragyan Ojha. Ojha picked up 4 wickets in the whole match which was decent and S.Sreesanth ripped across the Sri Lankan batting line up in the first innings to pick up a five wicket haul. It was a welcome sight to see an Indian fast bowler take five wickets in India condition which is a rarity.

Sri Lanka had one too many spinners…

Kanpur might have had a spinning wicket but Srilanka lost the plot with picking 3 spinners and only one seamer. Two spinners are more than enough. You only pick three spinners at the cost of a seamer if the pitch has been recently ploughed by a tractor. India won the toss and with no real seam attack to trouble the openers it was not a surprise that India amassed 642.

Brabourne awaits Test Match cricket…

brabourne_1The Brabourne Stadium will be hosting the final Test match in the series and Srilanka will be looking to win in India a test match for the first time ever and level the series. The Brabourne will be hosting a Test match after 36 years. The last match played there was India v England and it ended in a draw.

So who do you think will take win in Brabourne? Let me know through your comments.

Image Credits: Cricinfo

Who is killing Test cricket? T20 or the curators

With the rise of IPL and T20 cricket in general a lot of voices have showed concern that Test cricket might die out because the entertainment of T20 simply cannot be replicated by Test cricket. Some people are taking the middle path that Test cricket, ODIs and T20 all have their place. A lot of people watching cricket are younger people and hence they choose T20 over Test cricket.

test_vs_odis1

Is T20 really hurting Test Cricket?

Some might argue T20 cricket is making Test matches look boring and might even finish of the game. But I do not think Test cricket is losing it’s charm in India because of T20. I think it is because of the pitches Test matches are being played on.

Over the last 2 years India hosted 13 Test matches. 7 were drawn, 5 won by India and 1 lost. This includes 4 test series out of which India has won two and tied one. The 4th series is still continuing against Sri Lanka and guess what the first match is was drawn.

Now compare Test matches being played in Australia in the last two years. There were 9 Test matches held, 5 won by Australia while they lost 3. One match ended in a draw.

The stark comparison is there for everyone to see. When you play on sporting pitches of Australia there is a result 8 out of 9 times, where as in India there is a result 6 out of 13 times. Take for instance the Test match that just got over against Sri Lanka. 1598 runs were scored and only 21 wickets fell over 5 days. The worlds highest wicket-taker was bowling on a fifth day pitch leave alone taking wickets, he could hardly even trouble the batsmen. T20 is not the villain here, the pitch curator is the villain for making such feather beds.

Importance of Test Cricket

If you kill Test Cricket, you kill cricket. This will happen because the art of bowling is really polished and unrestricted only in Test matches. If a bowler picked up 2 wickets in 4 overs for 40 runs in a Test match, the bowler has bowled well. The scenario in T20 becomes different as 40 runs are too many. The focus is on runs rather than wickets for a bowler.

Test cricket is pure cricket. The batsman have to score runs, the bowlers have to take wickets. The simplicity of this concept brings about the skills in a cricketer out in its purest form. What do you think? Let me know with your comments.

IPL to be held twice in a year?

In an interview to Daily Telegraph, the IPL commissioner – Lalit Modi has dropped a hint that the IPL could be held twice a year.

In Modi’s own words:

“The IPL will be based in India, but the second season (of a year) that we are planning gives us the chance to see if a market exists and we are seriously looking at what we can do with it”

The response that IPL-2 got from cricket fans in South Africa has definitely encouraged Modi to think bigger now and he is looking at various possible opportunities.

imageNow the big question that arises is whether or not there is any scope for another IPL within the same year? We already have the World Cup T20 happening every alternate year, annual Champions League starting this year, other ODI series and Test matches that happen all the year around… wow, isn’t¬† that a lot of cricket?

Do you think it could end up being too much of T20 to handle? How will it impact the audience of test matches and ODIs, I wonder…?

Gilli stunned Delhi and played as if playing in a Gully!

Deccan Charged UpPradip Sangwan’s body language was showing every fear of a rookie bowler bowling against a gifted player. Viru did a costly mistake to introduce him when Nannes was punished for five consecutive fours in the very first over.

Full credit goes to Gilli. He put all his experience of playing finals and winning them. He not only scored runs but killed opponents attitude to play the game to win from the very first over. Even Viru seemed confused when Gilli was in full flow. Only Nehra was looking confident and positive.

With the record of fastest fifty in IPL in just 17 balls, he is also having height strike rate and score (85). This player is unstoppable in full flow. This style of hammering down the ball was introduced by West Indians in early 70s. Richards, Lloyd, Sobers played with the hammer in hand. Recently, Lara had that magic in his bat. In late 80s and early 90s, Aussie era started and won three world cups. Gilli was integral part of the team and Aussies success.

Now, morals are charged up and opponents must be thinking of tightening the screws against him. Another Aussie making his mark with quick 24 in 15 balls was Symonds. A player out of Gibbs, Symonds, Rohit, Gilli and others with quick fire 40-50 runs can make 250+ runs possible. And yeah, this total seems very very difficult for any team in finals.

It’s all ifs and buts but, with such a stunning performance, Deccan Chargers has become strong contender for holding the shining IPL trophy.