Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Lahore Fiasco...

I never thought that post 6 centuries in a match I would be bored to death. Of all the dull draws witnessed this should take cake! Even Virender Sehwag’s blitzkrieg did not pull the match from the depths of boredom it plummeted to. Let me get this right; ever since I started watching this game and understood it; I was told it is supposed to be a fair contest between the bat and the ball. Contest? There was none here! At Lahore, the pitch-curator probably thought that only the batsmen would be in the playing eleven from both sides!

I’m sure the bowlers would have preferred to not play at all after seeing the pitch at Lahore. It simply would not have mattered; be it a Shoaib bowling or Irfan or some local bowler. Even if you called upon the greats like Denis Lillee, Jeff Thompson, Richard Hadlee, Glenn Mcgrath, Brett Lee, Shane Warne, Allan Donald, The Fearsome Foursome of WI, India’s Spin Quartet or Pakistan’s very own Imran, Wasim, Qadir, nothing would have changed! The goddamn pitch was as dead as a dodo! I kept waiting for that one odd ball to speed up, to bounce, to turn, to stop awkwardly at the batsman, to skid, to stay low, to do something! Damn nothing!

How on earth can you prepare such a wicket when you are bragging about your speedsters? And by the way a message to Inzy and all his Pakistani supporters, Shoaib Akhtar makes no difference to India. Every time you hype him, we go ahead and tackle him extremely well. So for a change stop doing that. He is fast, super-fast but he is not accurate and I’ll trade McGrath’s accuracy for Shoaib’s pace. His resilience atleast pays me rich consistent dividends. Shoaib gives me no guarantee, especially against India. Too early to say? Okay. We saw how Sehwag and Dravid handled him (on a dead pitch you might say). I think they are ready to take the bull by the horns and the earlier Pak realizes the better for them.

On a comparative note, India got 7 wickets in 2 days compared to Pakistan’s one wicket in 2 days (I’m accounting for the session’s lost). On a pitch like this, I think it’s worth a mention. The curator sure had great faith in Pakistan’s bowling attack to prepare such a track or rather they were petrified of giving us some advantage.

I’m glad Sehwag and Dravid took full advantage of the lifeless track and made the most of it. I liked every bit of Dravid’s captaincy. Today when they needed just 13 runs to break the 50 year record, he saw to it that he got the Pakistani players out on the field; despite light being worse than yesterday. As soon as Sehwag got out (I wish he had showed a little more patience. Greedy aren’t we! Come on, they were only 4 runs short!), Dravid was offered the light and he took it, adding more irritation to the Pakistanis. Inzy tested his patience during the press conference when the cup was displayed to the press, made him wait for some half-hour. Dravid gave back very well in the match and not only by way of his batting. India pretty much got the psychological advantage in the manner they posted a reply to Pak’s total.

Now for something important, I don’t know how many of you agree but I felt it was huge injustice to Gambhir and Jaffer, two genuine openers in form. Neither is Sehwag an opener nor Dravid or Ganguly or Yuvraj. I don’t want to see Dravid open; it’s neither fair to the two openers waiting in the wings nor to the team and Dravid. There isn’t much to choose between Ganguly and Yuvraj. So take a tough call and drop Yuvraj. Ok stop blasting me for thinking so. Give Ganguly the ultimatum. See how he performs at no.6 in the series throughout. If he comes out with flying colours works well for the team; if not you have legitimate reason to drop him for the next series and have Yuvraj fill in. No point axing openers and shuffling with opening combination. I never agree with middle-order batsman opening the innings. It’s a goddamn specialist position and India should learn to deal with this perennial problem. Not everyday do we get a Sehwag. Who, by the way I think however successful, has his flaws as a test opener. He too will face some music as he matures in his cricket career.

What’s the point in taking both Yuvraj and Ganguly and having Dravid open? It’s silly and it’s pointless. We are doing no one any good. Asking Ganguly to open is unfair and too open a ploy to get him out of the team, so the team management can’t ask him to open however ready he might be. In his heart though, he must be dead scared to go face a racing Shoaib with the shining new red cherry. He would have liked doing that on this dead Lahore pitch, but him being successful here as an opener would have been a false alarm.

Honestly we need to resolve this issue once and for all, come on drop the axe on Yuvraj for once, I’m sure we would not lose much! Get Jaffer or Gambhir to open, it’s simply not fair them. Let Yuvraj supporters shout 'Unfair' for once. Why am I not calling for Ganguly’s head? I think they guy has been treated badly enough, and this after all that he has done for Indian cricket. I think it’s been pretty unfair, so give him one last chance to prove his guts. He deserves at least that!

And to another important issue, can we have a change of commentators please? Rameez Raja gets my goat! He is so damn partial and biased! Nothing India does deserves any praise or are only Pakistanis the Kings of cricket? I thought India batted with more supremacy than Pak did and our bowlers atleast got more wickets in the same time! Somebody protest and get him off! His presence is not good for either teams and we could really do without his biased opinions.

To end, this comment stuck in my head today and unfortunately I can’t remember who said it.

‘Dravid played very well within his limitations’


What limitations? Getting 128 in 223 balls in a test match is playing within one’s limitation? Simply cause Sehwag got 247 of 240 balls at the other end at end of day 4. Do we even understand Dravid and Sehwag? Do we understand what test-cricket is all about? Dravid has limitations?

Dravid is the only batsman after Steve Waugh to have had a century in every country that has test match status. Every time Dravid has got a double century India has never lost! He has been involved in most batting records set by India.
Yes, the man with a 10-year test career, a career test average close to 58, regarded as one of the best players at the No.3 position, the man to step up every time India was in crisis, The impregnable WALL has limitations in test-match cricket! You bet he does.

Thanks for the enlightenment you cricketing expert!

10 comments:

venkyy said...

i totally agree with u on tht one. jaffer and gambhir both made good 50s on the warm up game. y play them against the A team if you;r not gng to pick them? its rediculous!

thankfully tho, sehwag and co realise and have expressed to the effect that dravid is still onli a stop-gap arrangement. i hope they mean it and not make a scape-goat of the best batsman we have (by a loong way) it looks like theyr jst waiting for either yuvi or dada to fail in the next test after which they can draft in the opener.

i wouldve loved to see gavaskar's face. "we should play 3 openers" is what he's said the previous day :))

the next pitch is surely gng to have enough juice for akhtar and co to want to play for pak again...dont think there will b any team changes tho...

venkyy said...

checkout www.pakcricket.org

its hilarious :))

excerpt:

"why the hell does sehwag score against us so heavily????
he was out of form for last 3 months and now playing against pakistan he scores in the 1st match 247*
avg against pakistan ~ 100
he was dropped twice today by the captain inzi and malik sahib
aren t we that creative that we can t get a player out who is playing openly and who gives a lot of chances to the fielding team (in contrast to dravid)

i think the captain has no plans against him.
i can only say-->shabash pakistanio aur banao batting paradise pitches!!!!!!
kiun ke india ke paas world class batsman hai aur hamare paas world class bowlers hai, islie ham batting paradise pitches banate hai????????????????????
waise pakstan ne achi dosti indian ke saath nibhai hai(in making batting pitches)"

:)

Minal said...

@Venkyy: Boy that piece from the pak cricket site was hilarious and so true;-)

I wish though they take some harsh calls and get back one opener! Gavaskar probably intended that Jaffer and Gambhir are better test batsmen than Ganguly and Yuvraj;-)So taking the former two would be a better option!

RPM said...

Could not agree with you more on the opener's slot problem. Why have two 'specialists' sit on the bench while you have two makeshifts (ok, one if you count Sehwag as a specialist now) in the XI?

And even if they wanted this XI, it is strange that Dravid would open when there are other candidates like Sachin, Ganguly (both ODI openers), VVS and Yuvi (both opened at some point in tests).

In any case, I think Ganguly should have been given the nod and regrettably, Yuvi should have been left out of the XI. Of course, that would increase the pressure on Ganguly to perform but that is basically what India needs at this point - competition for spots. No one should be able to take their place for granted. Sehwag's place was questionable not for the lack of runs, but more for the way he was getting out. Well, one huge knock has snoozed that for a bit now.

And as for the wicket itself...gosh, it is quite unbelievable that such a pathetic pitch was made for the first test. I can understand if Pakistan went up 1-0 and the second pitch was made like that to enable a draw at worst. But for the first test? Unbelievable.

Oh btw, I feel I have wasted my money already subscribing to Willow's online coverage of the matches. What a waste of the first test. :-(

Great post, btw.

Minal said...

@rpm: Sachin open in tests? Nah the 4th spot is his and will always be, I don't think anyone will budge him from that.

I agre with you that Sehwag's place was in question for the manner he was getting out. I was not too impressed by his callous way of getting out here as well , 4 runs was all that needed! You tried twice didn't make it, could yoo not have kept calm for the thrid attempt. That's the way he plays, is an excuse I don't like to hear. He has to learn some patience

You know what Pakis are just scared of giving away the advantage to our bowlers, the 2004 defeat still lingers on in their mind! This attitude will kill the game, that's my major worry!

RPM said...

@Minal: I did not mean to say that Sachin should have opened. I was just saying that we had 4 other players who have opened for India in some or the other form of cricket, and yet, we had to have another player open. And can't blame anyone since Dravid volunteered himself. I wonder if it is because of his character (to avoid argument, sacrifice your own good). He seems the
'nice guy' type.

My XI would be:

Sehwag
Gambhir (should not be dropped since he has not been given enough chances to get out of his bad form)
Dravid
Sachin
VVS
Ganguly (Yuvi gets the axe unfortunately)
Dhoni
Pathan
Agarkar
Kumble
Bajji

Truman said...

Minal,
I agree with most of your points here. First, the pitch was a graveyard for bowlers. I doubt McGrath or Donald could have achieved something on it.
Shoaib is hyped, yes, but they (Pakistanis) have no other option because at present he is their best bet. That the Indians have dealt with him well for the past few years is true. But then again, I think it's a *little* too early to arrive at this conclusion that playing Shoaib would be a cakewalk for the Indians this time around too.

Playing with one opener (Sehwag) when the team has gone to Pakistan with three of them is not a long term solution. Neither should Dravid open for India. I think Chappell is a great believer in "specialists" doing the job. So make shift arrangements wont work for long. I prefer to look at Dravid's decision to open in the first test as a way of neutralising Pakistans Pace Battery in the tour opener and probably a way to give out positive signals to the rest of the team that the Pakistanis [and specifically Rawalpindi Express] are not a problem. It was a risk, however, because if Dravid had failed, things could have been different. Because of Sehwag's double, this factor and Dravids innings, are yet again, a part of the backshadows.

Ganguly SHOULD be given a chance. I have no doubt about that.

This was very nicely written, straight from the heart, like most of your posts :) Thank you for this.

Minal said...

@rpm: Of course I got your pt.:-)As for Sachin somehow he seems to have made that no.4 position his and his alone!
Well your XI is pretty much same as mine and I would not mind trying out Jaffer also as he has been in good nick this season

@Truman: Yeah!! Someone who agrees that Ganguly must get that one good last chance!

And thank you, cricket is and will always be my first love and that's why the writing is from the heart and a bit of mind too;-)

venkyy said...

dhoni: balls: 123
runs: 116

woww i couldnt catch tht live. what a pity. all the willow guyz. it was worth it this timee round ah?

paki annihilation! every time i think this guyz cnt b tht consistent, he is! perhaps there is method to his madness.

i dont think any result is possible here or the next test. any1 drooling at the ODIs??

Minal said...

@Venkky:Caught his innings in bits and parts!Awesome stuff! I used to think the same abt him; how long will this madness last? Surprisingly he pulls it off everytime with ease!

Dravid-Chappell's decision to take 5 bowlers and drop ganguly is justified and Pak sucks! The much hyped bolwing attack and the pitches! They are killing test cricket.

ODIs sure where again the batsman will rule for heaven's sake for once I'd like to see the bowlers dominate, some real test for the batsmen!