What he said:
“We have got players who have scored 200s and 300s, you know, in their CVs.”
Duncan Fletcher that his Indian side has the players to pull off a miracle in the third Test at Edgbaston.The Indians were routed for 224 on the first day and it’s been a leather chase ever since in the field.
What he really meant:
“Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Gautam Gambhir. Can you count them out?”
What he definitely didn’t:
“I wish those 200s and 300s could be added to the Indian score—at the start of each innings. Why do they have to start from zero all over?”
Mahendra Singh Dhoni had this to say about the first Test loss at Lords: “What could go wrong, went wrong.”
The Indian skipper attributed the defeat to three factors: Zaheer Khan’s injury, the lack (consequently) of a third seamer (the Jharkhand native rolled his arm over) and misfortunes (Gautam Gambhir’s elbow blow and Sachin Tendulkar’s viral flu) that forced the reshuffling of the batting order in the final innings.
What he said:
"From being a master blaster, he is now a mistake-proof batsman."
Rahul Dravid describes the changes in Sachin Tendulkar’s approach to batting over the years.
What he really meant:
“Sachin is impossible to get out until he gets out.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Mistake-proof—that’s a fantastic new term. Is it patented?”
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The debate rages on.
Have the Indian selectors chosen the best possible side for the ODI World Cup?
The argument centres on whether there ought to have been a back-up keeper. MS Dhoni—as captain and stumper—shoulders a heavy responsibility.
To his credit, he has borne the burden well and there is no reason to believe that he will not do the same in February-March—should he remain fit.
As for the pessimists, they will wonder who will keep wickets if Dhoni is forced to miss a match.
The second Test at Durban ended with India triumphant, levelling the series 1-1.
A few takeaways from a thrilling encounter:
VVS Laxman is Very, Very Special. He has proved that before and did so anew. What can be said about the Hyderabadi maestro that has not been said before? Dealing in mere superlatives seems trite given the backdrop of his recent achievements. Suffice to say, that he was man-of-the-match (MOM), top-scoring in both innings, the only player to score over 50 from both sides.
Image via Wikipedia
He’s called Mr. Dependable, Mr. Reliable, Jammy and simply The Wall.
If Raymond—the famed suitings and shirtings brand— has the Complete Man, then Team India retains the Complete Team Man.
His name is Rahul Sharad Dravid and he has just compiled his 31st ton for India in the third Test at Jamta against New Zealand.
For a man who has over 10,000 Test runs— only the third Indian ever in the select club—Dravid is amazingly low profile.
It is the skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni who is sceptical of the system’s merits. Dhoni believes that the system has had mixed results. Sehwag, in a recent interview, strongly supported adoption of UDRS. Rahul Dravid too has thrown his weight behind the review arrangement.
But the man whose word carries the most weight Sachin Tendulkar has not backed off from his opposition to the technology. Tendulkar prefers the competing technology —Hot Spot— that uses infra-red cameras to decide whether the ball has struck bat, pad or the batsman.
The basic UDRS system, currently in use, uses only the Hawk-Eye technology besides super slow-motion cameras and an audio feed from the stump microphone.
The Hawk-Eye is the same technology used in tennis to decide if the ball has struck the line.
Hot Spot is an improvement that is seldom used.
The ICC hope to make the UDRS mandatory for all Test series in the near future.
The Proteas wish to use the system during the upcoming tour by India but are being pressurised by the BCCI to stick to the tried-and-tested arbitration via manual umpiring.
When the top two cricketing heroes in the team put their foot down, the BCCI is bound to follow their lead.
Herschelle Gibbs has crawled out of the woodwork and into the limelight — albeit a controversial and notorious one with the release of his autobiography ‘To The Point’.
The opener has made some stunning revelations about his tenure with the South African team , rambled on about sex orgies, his relationship with his former captain Hansie Cronje, and threats from the Delhi police when cross-questioned by them about the match-fixing scandal. Though the sex-laced chapter has hit the headlines more often than not, Gibbs has been hugely critical of the cliquish South African team and current captain Graeme Smith in the remainder of the book.
To put it succinctly: India won a match they should have lost. Australia lost a game they should have won.
Neither team deserved to lose and it was a great advertisement for Test cricket. That’s what Test cricket is all about. It’s not over until it’s truly over!
The difference was that man VVS Laxman, who reserves his best for the kangaroos.
The Aussies kept digging into their marsupial pockets for ways to counter the Hyderabadi’s merry march to victory but there were just no tricks up their sleeves.
Ricky Ponting, unlike his predecessor, Steve Waugh, seems to ,more often than not, let the game drift and that was to be the case once more when the Aussies, by rights, should have gone in for the kayo.
No discredit to the fighting qualities exhibited by Laxman, Sharma and Ojha but Ponting needs a new thinking cap and soon!
In the end, it was yet another famous victory for the No. 1 Test team and Dhoni must thank his stars that he can call upon players of the calibre of Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman to do yeoman service without throwing any starry tantrums.
With the Indian Test team now at the summit , (we are now No.1 ) , let’s take a pause from celebrating , and ask a pertinent question, where’s the next generation of players, who will keep India at the top?
The Big 3, namely Tendulkar, Laxman and Dravid will soon be retiring within the next 2 years. Sehwag will then be the elder statesman of the team; I wonder if that will have an impact on his batting style. Will he still be as care-free? I have a feeling he will. He’s more in the Viv Richards/Srikkanth mold in terms of his persona; as long as he can score he’ll play else he might even retire early. The last 2 batsmen to retire early i.e. in their early 30s, were Sanjay Manjrekar and Ravi Shastri. Shastri probably has no regrets ; he made his debut for India at 19. For a man of his limited talents, he was an overachiever. To start as No. 11 and end as the opener must be a record of sorts.
So who do we have to replace Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar?
Murali Vijay has made the most of the limited opportunities he has been given. With an eye on the future , he can be the No.3 bat for a long time if he plays to potential. The top 3 slots can then rotate amongst Gambhir, Sehwag and Vijay.
Wasim Jaffer , though already in his early 30s, might be another one who deserves a second or third chance. Remember even Australia, when phasing out their No.1 side, opted for players in their 30s before making a clean break over the past 1 year. So Jaffer cannot be ruled out.
So who’ll take Tendulkar’s place? On the weight of sheer talent itself, Rohit Sharma comes to mind. He has impressed one and all when he has put his mind to it. If he can be a bit more consistent , he can cement his place in the Indian side.
As for the contenders for Laxman’s place, there’s Uthappa, maybe a comeback from Kaif, though unlikely, Dinesh karthik perhaps, and in all likelihood, Suresh Raina but no other batsman springs to mind. None of the other T20 and ODI players selected seem like good bets for Test cricket. So there is a possibility that this Indian side can go the Australia way, (i.e. from world beaters to struggling to remain the best) , if we do not unearth gems who can adorn Indian cricket’s showcase over the next decade and a half!
Your thoughts and comments are welcome!