Australia

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Will this be Mahi’s last World T20?


India take on Australia in a virtual quarter-final this evening at Mohali.

The other three semi-final places have already been booked.
West Indies, New Zealand and England are through to the business end of the World T20.

India are favourites having thrashed the Kangaroos 3-0 Down Under but not before losing the ODI series 1-4.

No team has won the World T20 more than once.

Every edition has been unpredictable.

India, Pakistan, England, West Indies and Sri Lanka have all been crowned victors in this topsy-turvy format.
With no time for recovery from any mistakes, the team which turns up wins.
A stellar performance with the bat or ball is more than enough to decide a game.
If past trends hold, we ought to have a new champion.
Should Australia win tonight and the trend continue, it could be either New Zealand or Australia lifting the trophy, with the prospect of a mouth-watering repeat of last year’s ODI World Cup final.
Indian fans will be disappointed though.


This is probably MS Dhoni’s last T20 World Cup.
Dhoni does not see himself participating in the 2019 ODI World Cup.
Don’t be surprised if Mahi pulls out yet another rabbit from his hat and calls it a day—win or lose.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni bowlingat Adelaide Oval

Mahendra Singh Dhoni bowlingat Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tigers at home, pussycats overseas


Team India have lost yet another ODI series to the Aussies away from home. The tag ‘tigers at home, lambs abroad’ would seem apt, except that the Indians have batted well in all three games. It’s their bowling that has let them down.
You may dominate your opponents at home but if you can’t win overseas in alien and hostile conditions, you can never be considered a  great side.
Indian fans wouldn’t mind so much if their side lost a few games at home as long as they clinched a few more matches and series overseas. The only way to ensure that happens is to have conditions and  pitches much like the ones found in England, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Indian side doled out taste of their own medicine


Two Rohit Sharma centuries, two 300 plus scores, yet the Indians couldn’t keep the rampaging Aussies at bay.

One could go with the excuses trotted out by Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni that his bowlers lacked bite and are incapable of bundling out the opposition. But one could say the same about the Aussies as well.

The Indian batting failed to accelerate in the final 10 overs of their innings.

As for the bowling, it’s time Dhoni reassessed his options and picked bowlers who can  bag wickets given their current form and the conditions.

The Indians are simply tasting their own medicine when they regularly chase down imposing totals in docile home conditions to their opponents’ chagrin.

Weighing in on Decision Review System (DRS)


I didn’t catch the first ODI between India and Australia and am not watching the second either.

Hence, I was unwilling to weigh in on the fresh Decision Review System (DRS) controversy featuring George Bailey.

But Ayaz Memon put it very succinctly in his LiveMint column:

“…it is bizarre that a sport has different yardsticks for different teams. Imagine Grand Slam tennis tournaments where Hawk-Eye is deployed when Roger Federer plays Rafael Nadal, but not when he plays Novak Djokovic, who refuses to accept the technology.

The issue of efficacy of technology then becomes subservient to the principle of fairness and equality: If the DRS technology in cricket is not good enough, then it should not be used in any match.”

That sums it up for me.

 

Sanju Samson is allegedly the Abominable Salivator


Sanju Samson has allegedly behaved badly.

The India ‘A’ keeper has been accused of salivating spitefully at his Australian opponents’ feet.

The incident occurred in the tri-series final between the home side and the visitors.

India ‘A’ clinched the title, registering their first victory in the series against their counterparts from Down Under.

The Kerala player claimed a catch that the Australians felt was illegal.

This led to an exchange of words when the 20-year-old came out to bat.

Usman Khawaja, the Aussie skipper, said:

“Obviously the guys in our team were disappointed that he claimed he had taken the catch.

Today he spit in front of our player’s foot three times. If you do that the boys are going to get worked up and the umpires were not understanding it. We did try to calm the boys, but they just went on and on.

I am happy if the batsman happens to talk back but spitting is not on. He spit on one of our players when he came onto the field.

If one of our players said something to him, he can say something back but not spitting.”

Khawaja added:

“I do not want to make a big deal about things that happened on the field. I do not want to take away any credit from India. They really played well today and were the better team to have won.

Unfortunately, incidents like that happen. Some incident happened the other day with one of your bowler (Sandeep Sharma). He was coming back and it was fine. I was happy with that. I have seen it all, it is another game, it does not affect me too much.

It is always tough to defend a total of 220 runs. We had our chance when the fifth wicket fell but we have to take wickets to win the game. India just batted sensibly. The wicket was up and down and it was not turning massive. If we had few more runs we could strangle them on that kind of wicket.”

The match umpires and other officials should be filing their report with the BCCI.

An investigation into this kind of unwarranted behaviour and its antecedents should be launched to prevent any such recurrence.

Players behaving badly—spittle-less or not—can only lead to more bad blood in the future and should be nipped in the bud.

It is a gentleman’s game after all.

Michael Clarke bites the Ashes dust


“Another one bites the dust

Another one bites the dust

And another one gone, and another one gone

Another one bites the dust

Hey, I’m gonna get you too

Another one bites the dust

How do you think I’m going to get along, 

Without you, when you’re gone

You took me for everything that I had, 

And kicked me out on my own

Are you happy, are you satisfied

How long can you stand the heat

Out of the doorway the bullets rip

To the sound of the beat”

The above lines are the chorus to Queen’s famed song, “Another One Bites The Dust.”

How much must it mimic the state of Michael Clarke’s mind as he bid adieu to international cricket on the back of yet another Ashes loss in England?

Clarke would have loved to win in England as skipper and would certainly have believed that the urn would be his at the outset. They had just won the World Cup and were on a high.

Steve Waugh never conquered the Final Frontier that was India. He never captained the Aussies to a series win on the sub-continent.

A cricket shot from Privatemusings, taken at t...

A cricket shot from Privatemusings, taken at the third day of the SCG Test between Australia and South Africa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Similarly, the Ashes remained Clarke’s bugbear, his Waterloo.

A bad back, a sore hamstring, an injured then retired Harris, a missing Haddin and a lackadaisical Johnson all added to his woes.

The cup overflows and not with Ashes.

The skipper’s out, stumped.

Clarke leaves behind a great legacy as a batsman and skipper. Many believed that he did a wonderful job of rebuilding the side after the departure of Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and later Ricky Ponting.

But the replacements were not quite bunnies and thus the task of rebuilding anew falls on the young shoulders of Steve Smith.

The Pup is an old dog.

Clarke will always be remembered for his tact and sensitivity in tackling the shocking demise of Philip Hughes. He was the epitome of a gentleman and statesmanlike in his demeanour. His emotional oration moved his listeners to tears.

He will be missed on the cricket field.

He will always be welcome everywhere else.

Australia versus England: Who shall have the Ashes?


I really didn’t want to write this article; I haven’t been catching the Ashes—the war of the English roses  and the Australian wattles—a tradition itself within a traditional game.

It’s not that I don’t like cricket or that I’m overly patriotic and catch mostly India games (which I do) but I simply cannot bring up any passion for watching this series.

The Ashes—on television—are a visual treat; the commentating is excellent and there’s everything very attractive about the packaging of a historic rivalry that evokes memories of battles past.

I wish Indian television were able to come up with a better presentation of the  Indo-Pak rivalry but aside from the jingoism it revisits, there’s little to recommend for couch aesthetes.

The five-match series began with the Aussies favoured by one and all. After all, they were the ODI world champs and had thrashed their Trans-Atlantic foes comprehensively in the series Down Under. The pundits predicted that Alistair’s goose was Cooked.

England surprised one and all by winning the first Test. But the Aussies were out for blood in the second and prevailed in a somewhat one-sided encounter.

Steve Harmison in action at the Oval for Engla...

Steve Harmison in action at the Oval for England’s One Day International side against Bangladesh on 16 June 2005 Image created by the author with Nikon D70 + 70-300mm Nikkor G lens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To everyone’s surprise, the third Test ran along similar lines. Except this time, it was the home side that dominated from Day One. The return of Steve Finn implied that England now had three wicket-taking pacers; the weakness of this side has been that the support pacers are  there simply to make up the numbers; they never were strike options.

Can Finn be the Steve Harmison of this side? Remember Stevie, from the 2005 Ashes in tandem with Freddie Flintoff pushing the Aussies on the backfoot in the absence of Glenn McGrath and the first signs of what was to come once  Warne and he exited the greats.

England , not too long ago, were number one; they ascended to that pole position when they beat India at home in 2011. It is a number they have since ceded to South Africa.

Can they lay the foundation for another push at that supreme figure?

The next two Tests are crucial. Has the momentum shifted in England’s favour?

Will the Aussies bite back with venom?

The urn beckons.

 

Voges and Chanderpaul: A matter of timing


Much has been made about Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s unceremonious ouster from the West Indian side. The veteran left-hander was left out from the Caribbean outfit for the series against Australia following a poor run of scores against England recently.

Was it the right thing to do? The southpaw is 40+ and is not getting any younger. Age should never be a criteria and rightly so. Form and class play an important role. Australia are a top side and playing an out-of-sorts Chanderpaul, however, would not have been fair to the rest of the side.

Sachin Tendulkar was given a farewell Test series by the BCCI against a weak West Indian side at Mumbai; he was able to go out on a relative high. Many would have preferred if the great had called it quits after the 2011 World Cup. The Master Blaster lingered on. It is a human failing fans have witnessed in so many wonderful sports persons. They do not know when to bid the game goodbye.

Ironically, the first Test saw the resurgence of a wonderfully talented Australian batsman Adam Voges making his Test debut at 35. Australian selectors are ruthless when cutting out-of-form or aging players to make room for younger champions.

Little credit is given to them for their bravery in choosing older players who would be considered journeymen in countries in India or Pakistan.

Thus, Matthew Hayden made a comeback at 32. Look where he finished!

Michael Hussey made the best of the chances that came his way the second time around.  Adam Voges is probably another of this breed. Team coach Darren Lehmann himself was a beneficiary of the selectors’ long memories.

Should Chanderpaul have played and contributed a ton à la Voges, he would have been lauded by one and all. But, alas, that is wishful thinking reflected upon by the mawkish.

Sports, like business, has no room for sentiment. Winning is serious business; so is modern sport.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ICC World Cup 2015: Australia are champions of the world


To tell you the truth, I did not really watch much of this World Cup’s final featuring Australia and New Zealand.

Switching on the telly after returning from morning Mass, with Brendon McCullum gone cheaply, it would be an uphill task for the Kiwis to compile a formidable total. Two more quick wickets followed and I switched off the set-top box.

For a partisan Indian supporter like me, the final held no thrills or attraction. Most World Cup finals have been one-sided affairs and there was no reason for me to believe otherwise.

Catching up with the morning news, Michael Clarke’s farewell announcing the final would be his ODI swansong caught my eyes.

“A World Cup victory would be a great way to sign off,” were my immediate thoughts. And I dwelled again on  the emotional eulogy he delivered at Philip Hughes’ funeral. Clarke will always have his share of detractors but that was the day he displayed how far he has travelled from being ‘Pup’ and the ‘Bad Boy’ of Australian cricket.

Noon and the Kiwis had folded up for 183. Despite Sunil Gavaskar’s vain attempts at drawing comparisons between the ’83 final and Sunday’s mismatch to keep viewer interest in the game alive, it was evident that barring a miracle the Australians were well on their way to being crowned five-time champions.

It was so, with Clark crafting a well-made 74.

Australians were world-beaters yet again.

ICC World Cup 2015: It’s Australia versus New Zealand


Stephen Rodger Waugh, former professional cric...

Stephen Rodger Waugh, former professional cricketer and captain of the Australian national team, photographed at the Sydney Cricket Ground at the start of the Test match against South Africa in January 2002 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s final.

The home sides will face-off in another Transmanic match-up on Sunday the 29th of March 2015 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

The Australians clinically demolished Team India’s cup hopes with an all-round display of aggression and intent with the bat and ball. They backed it up with tight fielding barring a few hiccups,

Who will it be?

New Zealand can take comfort from the fact that this is probably their best side ever and that they have beaten the Aussies in the league phases.


http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/148860901

Now the crucial encounter is in their arch-foes’ backyard.

Do they have the gumption to seal off their World Cup campaign with a zealous kiss of victory?

The demeanor of their gum-chewing skipper Brendon Mcullum in the field against South Africa suggests so. He reminded me of tough-as-nails Steve Waugh. Will Australia drop the cup that cheers?

Michael Clark rebuilt the crumbling edifice of Oz following the exit of the best and brightest of their 3-Cup wizards.

Can Clark win his first World Cup as skipper?

Fortune favors the brave and the brave are not easily felled at home.

My pick: Australia. Can McCullum and his chums spell otherwise?

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