Monday, August 30, 2010

The allure of spot-fixing

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Same ol', same ol'

Pakistan. Match-fixing allegations. Bans. Appeals. Overturn.

Add cover-ups, stir.



Saturday, August 28, 2010

Shades of early Bangladesh in Pakistan again

Pakistan's capitulation(s) at Lord's must rank as some of the worst test batting seen in recent times - it was truly early-Bangla in its awfulness. 74 all out, follow-on, and then 41-4. This is beyond amateur.

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Opportunities for redemption

Yet another ODI tournament final featuring India (and thus, yet another chance to redeem a gloomy record in finals). Yet another India-Sri Lanka game. And most importantly, yet another chance for India's batsmen to redeem themselves, especially the young ones, and even more so when Sehwag has gone early. Of course, it's not just the young guns that need to come good, even an oldie like Yuvraj Singh needs a moment of redemption.

Early days, but so far, Kohli looks very good. He's definitely started to look more organized and compact in recent times.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stuart Broad ain't no John McEnroe

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mohammed Aamer you beauty

Friday, August 20, 2010

Nice turnaround

Well, well, well. I left home with England at 100-odd for 2, and have returned (after a nice game of tennis on this hot morning) to find England at 210-7 (which has just become 210-8 thanks to Aamer dismissing Prior with a peach of a delivery - jeez, this kid is so good, it's unbelievable). Pakistan are now in a very good position, but they must get these last two wickets quickly if they are to have any chance. If the lead goes past 175, they'll be in Panic Territory (yes, Yousuf is there, but he was at Sydney too).

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Pakistani batsmen don't come to the party

Pakistan might have missed the bus, the boat, the train, the whole kit-n-caboodle at the Oval. A lead of 75 sounds good but it is not nearly good enough on a pitch like the Oval's. As usual, no one made a hundred (leave alone a big one), and despite Yousuf's fifty on return and Azhar Ali's brave 92, no one else came to the party (and for the fifth successive innings, Salman Butt failed to play a captain's innings). To make matters worse for Pakistan Alistair Cook has belatedly discovered some form (he is on 74 as I write) and is going to eager to remember and implement a sage bit of advice given to him by his erstwhile Essex mentor, Graham Gooch: when you score, make them big and make them count. And in doing so, he could make things easier for a batting line-up that is collectively looking to get its act together.

Still, when you have a bowling attack like Pakistan's, all is possible. But their batsmen haven't made the bowler's task any easier.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When the going gets easy

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Broady you silly boy

Over at Different Strokes, I join the party in having a go at Stuart Broad (via having a go at Duncan Fletcher's lame defense of him in the Guardian).

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A treasure trove of classic cricket video

Courtesy the Guardian's Spin blog, here is more classic cricket video - this one being a long documentary on the history of English cricket. Check the links on the same page for a virtual treasure trove of classic cricket videos.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jack Hobbs on video

Courtesy John Sutton, aka Kenelmdigby, an old video of Jack Hobbs batting (not in a match, unfortunately). Comments welcome.

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Sunday, August 08, 2010

Go Haider!

Pakistan are putting on a fantastic fightback at Birmingham, and this partnership between Saeed Ajmal and Zulqarnain Haider has had a lot to do with it. Haider is heading for a ton, and Ajmal has just compeleted a fifty (and has just been dismissed by Swann). Those that have read about Haider's long road to the top will know that he had harbored ambitions of making a century in his debut test. With only two wickets left for England to get, it will take some doing, but I'll be cheering him on.

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Saturday, August 07, 2010

A classic test in all the right ways

My intention, (a couple of posts ago), in highlighting the rate at which wickets fell in the third test between India and Sri Lanka, was to point to how even a contest the test was and concomitantly what a classic test it was turning into (and did). Think about this:

On the first day, Sri Lanka make 293-4 (almost 300 runs with almost half the side gone). The next day, a fighting ton made with the assistance of the tail takes them to 425. India reply in style, rattling up 180-2 in 35 overs. This means, they are almost half-way to the SL score, and have done it quickly, leaving them (and the Sri Lankans) a little time in the bank. The Sri Lankans fight back on the third by getting rid of all the recognized batsmen, but the Indian tail gets a small, but important lead (numerically and psychologically). India take two wickets by close of the third day to edge just a little bit ahead. On the fourth day, Sri Lanka collapse, but thanks to tail-enders (and some depressingly familiar, unimaginative captaincy by Dhoni) they put up a decent target. By day's end, they've decimated the Indian top-order, including the most dangerous man of all, Sehwag. On the fifth day, after the nightwatchman is dismissed, Tendulkar and Laxman weather the storm (and are again aided by defensive captaincy), and then after a little twist, when Tendulkar is dismissed, VVS and Raina take them through.

There you have it. This was a five-day battle, and it needed all that time to develop. There were shifts of momentum on every single day and the side batting second had to fight hard to keep wresting the initiative from the one batting first. When making the case for test cricket, this game should find pride of place in the evidence dossier.

Both sides had weakened bowling attacks; both worked manfully to overcome their limitations. (Sadly, both captains revealed their tactical shortcomings). And then finally, it needed some batting greatness to tilt the game India's way: Sehwag's first-innings brilliance, and then the Tendulkar-Raina-Laxman combine in the second. Tendulkar's dismissal occurred at a very awkward time; it is to Raina's credit that he turned it into a minor hiccup.

So Team India does it again: it disappoints, infuriates, and then comes through. There are too many inconsistencies things still wrong with it for any fan to relax. But their performance is strangely reassuring in another way: for when they screw up again, as they will, most assuredly, sometime in the near-future, one's teeth-gnashing should be attenuated by the knowledge that they are capable of getting up off the floor.

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Very Very Special Indeed

There is plenty to be said about India's series-leveling win over at the P Sara Oval in Colombo, but for the time being, a quick quote from a post yesterday:
For my money, the key man tomorrow is Laxman. His natural style is to continue go for his strokes and as he showed back in Chennai 2001, while everyone else is panicking around him, he makes runs.
I tried and I tried, but I couldn't stay awake past 1:45 AM this morning. I then scrambled out of bed at 5:40 AM to find the game over and done with. It will have to be the highlights for me, but I'm still glad that I managed to stay awake till VVS started playing in familiar fashion: a refusal to block, a willingness to send the bad ball to the boundary, and the ability to conjure up a sublime stroke or two when needed.

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Friday, August 06, 2010

Reunification of Pakistan called for?

OK, so 80 all out was bad. Now we have 72. Should West Pakistan and East Pakistan kiss and make-up and start fielding a combined team again? Or would the Bangladeshis object to such a weakening? They'd like the bowling attack, I'm sure? And surely the Pakistanis could do with Tamim? C'mon boys, swallow a little pride, and lets get some backbone out there.

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And then there were 3(3)

And just like that, 33 were down. Vijay is gone. Ishant aka The New Dizzy is out there, and the stage is set for a great fifth day. Those three Indian wickets have swung the Sri Lankan's way and they will back themselves to win this, especially if the Indian batsmen play Randiv as tentatively as they have done in the final session. At least one of the Indian bats needs to play an attacking innings, otherwise, the spinning pair plus the inevitable cluster of fielders will do the trick.

For my money, the key man tomorrow is Laxman. His natural style is to continue go for his strokes and as he showed back in Chennai 2001, while everyone else is panicking around him, he makes runs.

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A fine balance

Numerical symmetry demands that eight wickets fall per day in a test match in order to get a result (actual test matches have their own way of securing those forty dismissals of course). As an Indian fan, one hopes that the third India-SL test doesn't need all of them for a result, just, say, a few less. For as far as averages go, we are on track. 32 wickets are down.

As Sri Lanka staggered to 8-125 in their second innings, Sehwag's thoughts might have turned to his opening duties, and whatever Mendis' capabilities with the cherry, Viru wouldn't have thought that the young spinner would have been the one holding up the Indian charge on the fourth day. That ninth-wicket stand is looking better and better now as Sehwag went for a duck, and Dravid, continuing his miserable run of form, has played on. Randiv has done all the damage, and in the annals of inspired captaincy moves, his early introduction by Sangakkara must count as a particularly distinguished entry. It robbed Sehwag of the chance to go hard at eager quicks and instead put him into a fatally tentative frame of mind. Dravid's dismissal spoke, too, of a similar mental frame.

As far as classic test tussles go, this one has cooked up nicely; the game couldn't be better set-up for a tense final day. What a pleasant change from the second test - and what a pleasant contrast now, from the potential no-contest developing in Birmingham. How the pendulum has swung.

Oh, and a chance for glory for both Vijay and Raina: early days in test cricket, and they have the opportunity to show whether they are capable of holding their nerves in tight situations.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Some parity at last

It says a great deal about modern cricket, and about Virender Sehwag, that a first-innings score of 425 in a test is no guarantee of safety. As is now increasingly common in test cricket, an average of 300 runs a day has been maintained in a test, and thanks to 12 wickets having fallen, we can contemplate (with some optimism) the possibility of a result in the third India-Sri Lanka test at the P Sara Oval. Any chance of an Indian win, depends almost entirely, of course, on Sehwag. Only he can ensure (with the right support, of course) a score big enough (and made quickly enough) to put any pressure on the Sri Lankans in the second innings.

If India merely achieve parity in the first innings, they will almost certainly be chasing an awkward target on the fifth day (yes, I do not have faith that the Indian bowlers can put sufficient pressure on the Sri Lankan batting line-up without a big lead to back them up).

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