Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ganguly's double century in Bangalore: All about evolution!

By John Cheeran
Yes, it is tough to swallow one’s pride, tougher still to admit defeat when your well stated position is proved wrong by your pet hate.
Sourav Ganguly has proved his critics, including me, wrong with his well-crafted double century in the third and final Test against Pakistan in Bangalore.
When facts change, I change my opinion. Sir,what do you do?
Ganguly has reinvented himself not just as a batsman but as a man too. Not only he chooses his shots carefully, he pause and prod while he chooses his words too.
His comeback has been splendid and this home series against Pakistan has been significant in terms of the number of runs the Bengal left-hander has scored. In the autumn of his career Ganguly has dug deep to carve out his first Test double century. Earlier Ganguly scored his first Test century in front of the partisan crowd at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Till this series unfolded, I had doubted whether Ganguly has it in to score a century in one-dayers, leave alone in Tests.
None can deny that Ganguly has batted without care, except when he scented the century on Saturday. Ganguly’s and Yuvraj Singh’s tons came when India was gasping for breath, after losing Wasim Jaffer, Gautam Gambhir, Dravid and VVS Laxman, well below the 100 mark on the scoreboard.
But the pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium held no terrors after the morning meltdown and a dispirited Pakistan attack (Shoaib Ahtar lying in hospital) will help to put batsmen’s achievements in perspective.
Has the change in Indian captaincy has contributed to Ganguly’s refulgent batting? It has to be noted that Ganguly’s ascent has been marked by the decline in the lofty standards of Rahul Dravid.
A century in front of his friends and family, a double century at the home ground of his biggest rival in life. Ganguly, in his third coming, has surprised himself the most and surpassed a few boundaries in the process.
Certainly, the trip the chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar made to Bangalore has been worth it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Interview with Sony Cheruvathur, Kerala's new Ranji Trophy team captain

By John Cheeran
I was calling Sony Cheruvathur on the same evening (27-10-2007) when Kerala Cricket Association selected the state Ranji squad to take on Vidharba in Nagpur on November 3.
Let me quickly share this with you all. In Kerala’s cricket history, Sony is the first Ranji Captain who hails from Kunnamkulam, a provincial town imbued with rare survival instinct. Sony, though lives in Chengannoor, with his parents, is a true blue Kunnamkulam Nasrani.
Kunnamkulam is known for its printing presses and areca nuts and basketball players.
I have over the years talked to various cricketers including Sir Gary Sobers, Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev for professional reasons. Never ever had I thought I would be talking to a cricketer from Kunnamkulam. Not even the Ranji variety!
Being Kerala Ranji team captain is not an insignificant honour, when you consider that the state has produced two Test cricketers – Tinu Yohannan and S Sreesanth – in recent times. Who knows Sony could be the next fast bowler in line.
I’m a realist. At 29 years young, Kerala’s newest cricket captain (Sony is making his debut as captain on November 3 against Vidharba, though he has led the side in pre-Ranji season tournaments this year. The odds are stacked heavily against Sony as far as forcing is way into the Indian national team.
Though he has been with Kerala Ranji squad for the last six years, Sony has got only a fair trial only in the last season. Sony played three matches and took 13 wickets including a best performance of 5/42 against Goa last season. As Sony says he has played only eight Ranji Trophy matches.
Kerala Cricket Association, it seems, has given Sony the leader’s role for his cool approach to the game as well as recognition for his all-round skills. Sony’s bold batting had landed him a place in the South Zone side for the Deodhar Trophy one day tournament. Sony had hit a quick fire 82 against Tamil Nadu in the Subbaiah Pillay Trophy to merit the list.
Skipper Sony is confident that Kerala, without the crutches of professionals, should do well in the Plate Division. KCA has abandoned the practice of hiring players, a policy that ran for the last six years, from outside. Last year, Kerala’s opening batsmen were imported from Tamil Nadu – S Suresh and Sadagopan Ramesh.
Kerala’s strength is their pace attack, points out skipper Sony, who himself is a crafty swing bowler. “There is Tinu but definitely we will miss Sreesanth.”
Sreesanth’s assignments with the national side have given other youngsters rare opportunities to show their arsenal. Sony makes an interesting observation when he points out that Kerala’s athletic tradition should be the reason why the state has produced a string of pacers. “Bowling is more similar to athletics. There is no requirement for refinement. Batting requires a lot more fine tuning in that sense. We have very few turf wickets available and this makes it difficult for the state to produce quality batsmen.”
Vellayani, CRL and Palace Oval are Kerala’s major turf wickets. These are not simply enough for a state that has a huge craze for cricket.

The Hindu editorial on Dhoni

editorial in the hindu, september 20
The right choice
The appointment of M.S. Dhoni as captain of the Indian one-day cricket team for the home series against Australia and Pakistan is commendable. While the selectors had few other choices - apparent from chairman Dilip Vengsarkar's statement that the decision took all of five minutes - Dhoni staked his claim on merit. Already, in his three years as an international cricketer, the 26-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman has shown the ability to adapt quickly without divorcing his instincts. Former coach Greg Chappell identified very early Dhoni's cricket intelligence, both intuitive and conscious. That Dhoni has captivated the masses with his mix of rustic unorthodoxy and native shrewdness, and won the confidence of his team-mates with his preternatural calm under pressure, illustrates why he is such an attractive option. He has kept clear of the lapses in discipline that have compromised the captaincy aspirations of other young Indian cricketers. Dhoni of course needs time to grow. Former Indian captains have alluded to how dealing with the game's capricious administrators, handling the intrusive media, and coping with the fickle public can take their toll. For all his success with the bat (a Test average of over 36 and an ODI average of over 44) and his mental strength in keeping effectively despite struggling, Dhoni isn't yet a world-class wicketkeeper. Rather than rush him into Test captaincy, the selectors must give themselves time for assessment. The highly respected Anil Kumble, who deserves more than filling a vacancy, is our editorial choice for leading India in the significant Test series against Pakistan and Australia. In judging Dhoni, the selectors would do well to consider why his elevation from Twenty20 captaincy was necessary. The decision of Rahul Dravid, not one ever to shrink from a challenge, to step down is an indication of both the attendant pressures of the job and his honesty. Dravid said captains had shelf lives; the demands of modern-day cricket, he noted ruefully, were shrinking these shelf lives. Further, the strains of captaincy had just begun to affect his excellence with the bat. Dravid timed his exit well, even if he denied himself a chance to be celebrated as a great captain by leading the side successfully in Australia. The upstanding Bangalorean will be remembered as a sound, intelligent, and intense captain. Contrary to popular perception, he was tactically more aggressive than Sourav Ganguly; however, for a variety of reasons, he wasn't as successful in managing the system. Yet under Dravid the team transitioned from one that won Tests abroad into a side that won series abroad. He remains one of only two Indian captains - Ajit Wadekar is the other - to have won Test series in the West Indies and England.

Times edit on Dhoni, the new captain

Thankless job (the times of india
19 Sep 2007

The selectors have done the right thing by appointing Mahendra Singh Dhoni as India's ODI captain. After Rahul Dravid's sudden resignation from the captaincy last week, there was no obvious choice to fill his shoes. Sachin Tendulkar was the front runner for the job, but he is reported to have said that one-dayers were taking a toll on his body. In such a situation, appointing a younger player as captain of the ODI team is a positive move. Dhoni, who is at present leading India's Twenty20 team, will now have to come to terms with the incredible pressure that accompanies the job. Soon after quitting as skipper, Dravid said that there is a "shelf life" to the Indian captaincy, which he felt could be getting shorter with every passing year. Both Dravid and his predecessor, Sourav Ganguly, suffered a loss of form at some stage of their captaincy. Moreover, the captaincy takes a toll not only on the cricket field but also off it. The expectations of Indian fans are huge, often unreasonably so. In that sense, Dravid probably had taken as much as he could. More importantly, he quit when the going was good -- after a memorable series' win against England -- and not when people were calling for his head. There are a few lessons for both BCCI and Indian cricketers. The cricket board must try and help make the job easier for captains. Separate captains for the shorter and longer versions of the game -- which is now a distinct possibility -- is one way to do that. A fixed tenure for the skipper is another way to ease some of the pressure. This will allow a captain to tide over a temporary loss of form. A full-time coach as well as a carefully selected manager must always accompany the team. Under Dravid, India toured England without a coach; the manager was a former cricketer who last played international cricket in the 1960s. BCCI can definitely do much better in terms of giving back-up support to captains. All this will only go a little way in helping to ease the burden of Team India's skipper. He would himself have to find ways to deal with a job that possibly comes with more stress than that of the prime minister. The trick, as Dravid told reporters of this newspaper, is to be completely focused at the right time and to switch off at other times. The trick is finding the switch.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

D for Dhoni!

By John Cheeran
So Indian cricket has a new captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Reasons for Rahul Dravid’s resignation are still debatable, but is Dhoni the right choice?
Yes, the more serious business of finding a captain for Tests have been put aside in typical BCCI fashion, but does the 26-year-old from Ranchi command an automatic place in the Indian side?
Dhoni has batted reasonably well in the recent times and his effort to save Indian in the first Test at Lord’s was praiseworthy indeed. He is still not emerged as a dependable bat for India, thereby cementing his place in the side. Well, I do know that he keeps wickets in the side.
But that soon will change, if the last Twenty 20 match was any indication, and the one guy who will benefit from Dhoni’s elevation to the captaincy is Dinesh Karthick, whose dodgy form with bat giving many a heartbreak or two.
As in the case with Sonia Gandhi’s choice with Manmohan Singh, the BCCI and the chairman of selectors Dileep Vengsarkar wanted a malleable fellow to be captain. Dhoni, hitherto carefree in approach, may not be as stubborn as Dravid proved when he believed in something or someone. Comparisons can be made to Mohammad Azharuddin, who at the time of being anointed as captain looked a virgin.
Will selectors go the full distance and give Dhoni the honour of leading India in the Tests too? Vengsrakar can happily hold the remote control and be the oracle of Indian cricket for one more season.
But one thing is sure, captain Dhoni’s sexy mane will soon be a thing of the past. The cares of captaincy will take care of it.
Meanwhile, Dhoni gets a perfect opportunity in today’s Twenty20 World Cup semifinal against Australia to prove his captaincy credentials.
Who knows what tomorrow brings?
Dhoni is just two matches away from matching Kapil Dev’s feat of winning a World Cup. The title triumph in the Twenty20 World Cup will force Vengsarkar to give Dhoni the reins of the Test team, ignoring the original candidate, Sachin Tendulkar.
Chak De Dhoni, Chak De India.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Why did Dravid throw away the cares of captaincy?

By John Cheeran
Why did Rahul Dravid quit the Indian team’s captaincy?
Obviously this was the story of the recent times, and a much speculative Indian media, did not get a whiff of it till Dravid made it clear to the BCCI supremo Sharad Pawar that enough is enough.
I’m not a mind reader, but Dravid must have thought a lot about the leading job. That Dravid has not discussed the subject with individuals such as Chandu Borde, who accompanied the team as a mascot to England, fits in with the Bangalore man’s character. But Dravid would have discussed the matter with his closest pal in Indian cricket, Anil Kumble, the man who should have led India instead of Sourav Ganguly.
Dravid’s critics say that his timing of the decision to step down as the captain is puzzling.
Some of them even have dared to insinuate that Dravid has scared away from the forthcoming series against Australia and Pakistan.
I have only contempt for them. The man who led India to series wins in West Indies and most recently in England should not worry about assignments similar in nature. And if you can recall it was Dravid who captained India’s first Test wins not just in Pakistan but also in South Africa.
It would be silly to point out that Dravid’s batting has suffered during the last Test series against England. How could anyone argue with those who judge form only on the basis of scoreboard?
There was never a shadow of doubt regarding Dravid’s batting during the England series. It is true that he was a victinmg of a series of poor decisions should be taken for what they are instead of linking with the so called pressures of the captaincy.
And one should admit that the intrigue that botched India’s World Cup campaign in the West Indies is still at work in the dressing room. And chief villain is none other than Sourav Ganguly. It is with Ganguly’s tacit support that Indian pacer Zaheer Khan told a television crew that he was not at all tired after the Oval Test.
Zaheer’s statement was out of sync with Dravid’s argument that he knew his bowlers were a tired lot and hence he preferred not to to enforce the follow on against Michael Vaughan’s England. No captain likes a situation such as this.
And I can directly link Dravid’s decision to throw away the cares of captaincy to the fourth day of the third and final Test against England this summer, when Indian skipper had to play an ultra defensive innings of 22 off 92 balls to ensure that India did not lose the match, and forego the opportunity to win the series.
An earnest captain such as Dravid is justified if he nursed doubts regrading the commitment of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, who played a cavalier second innings at the Brit Oval. Such sudden outbreaks of loss of batting form among his senior colleagues should have concerned Dravid, who gave his best for India, under the leaderships of Tendulkar and Ganguly.
And to add to the situation the BCCI has not helped the matters either. It is six months after the World Cup, still Indian team does not have a coach. Dravid who believes in a studied approach to the game would not have enjoyed the ad-hocism of the BCCI.
Is there a better time to let it go when you have emerged from the ashheap of the World Cup fiasco with a refulgent Test series win in England and after rallying the side to thrilling finish (3-4) in the one-day series?There are few things left for Dravid to prove as a modern-day batsman. He has, unlike Tendulkars and Gangulys, played his defining innings much, much earlier.
Even if Dravid quits playing for India with in the coming season, there will be another shock for Indian cricket. And I’m sure those days are fast approaching when Dravid will say enough is enough at the end of the series Down Under. It is for Tendulkars and Ganguly’s to go on and on.
It is for men to stop when they see the writing on the wall.

India outsmart Pakistan in Twenty20 shootout

From Durban, South Africa
India outsmarted Pakistan in a bowl-out after the arch-rivals played a heart-stopping tie during the Twenty20 world championships here on Friday.
With Pakistan needing one run to overtake India's 141-9, Misbah-ul Haq was run out off the last ball of the innings to leave his team on 141-7.
In the bowl-out, Pakistan's Yasir Arafat, Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi failed to hit the stumps at the other end.
Indian bowlers Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Robin Uthappa hit the wicket each time to give their team a 3-0 win.
Both Pakistan and India qualified for the Super Eights round after ousting Scotland from the race.
A sell-out crowd at the Kingsmead watched a slug fest between the two teams that swung from one corner to the other before the match ended with the scores level.
Pakistan appeared on course to victory when they restricted India to 141-9 after captain Shoaib Malik had won the toss and elected to field in overcast conditions.
But India hit back to reduce Pakistan to 103-6 in the 18th over, leaving the batting side needing a challenging 39 to win off the remaining 14 balls in the low-scoring match.
The seventh-wicket pair of Yasir Arafat and Misbah swung the game Pakistan's way by adding 38 off the next 13 balls, but failed to complete the crucial winning run.
Misbah, who made 53 off 35 balls, patted the last ball from Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and ran but failed to beat the throw from the infield to the bowler, who broke the wickets.
Left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan, returning to the Indian team after nine months, took 2-20 in his four overs.
For Pakistan, seamer Mohammad Asif returned the second-best figures in Twenty20 cricket to restrict India to 141-9 in the first session.
Asif used the overcast conditions to wreck India's top order with 4-18, second behind New Zealander Mark Gillespie's 4-7 against Kenya earlier in the week.
India were reduced to 36-4 before Uthappa retreived the innings with 50 off 39 balls.
Indian skipper Mahendra Dhoni hit 33 and Irfan Pathan made 20 to boost the total amid three frustrating stoppages as light showers swept the ground.
Asif struck with his third delivery when he put out his right hand and grasped a return catch as Gautam Gambhir drove uppishly.
In his next over, Asif bowled Sehwag, who made five on his return to international cricket after being dropped for the recent England tour.
Yuvraj Singh holed out in the deep in Asif's third over and the seamer met another success in his fourth and final over when he forced Dinesh Karthick to edge a rising ball on to his stumps.
Uthappa fell soon after reaching his half-century when he was caught behind to give debutant left-arm seamer Sohail Tanvir his first international wicket.
Afridi clean bowled Pathan and Harbhajan Singh towards the end to restrict India's total.
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Gambhir), 2-9 (Sehwag), 3-19 (Yuvraj), 4-36 (Karthick), 5-82 (Uthappa), 6-116 (Pathan), 7-123 (Harbhajan), 8-139 (Dhoni), 9-141 (Agarkar).
Overs: 20
Fall of wickets: 1-12 (Nazir), 2-44 (Butt), 3-47 (Akmal), 4-47 (Younis), 5-87 (Malik), 6-103 (Afridi), 7-141 (Misbah)
Overs: 20
Match tied
India won bowl-out 3-0
(India's Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Robin Uthappa hit. Pakistan's Yasir Arafat, Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi missed.)
Toss: Pakistan
Umpire: Billy Doctrove (WIS) and Simon Taufel (AUS)
TV umpire: Steve Davis (AUS)
Match referee: Mike Procter (RSA)

Indian cricketers react to Dravid's resignation

Jolted by Rahul Dravid's out-of-the blue decision to relinquish Team India captaincy, the cricket fraternity today reacted with shock and wondered what made him quit the job.
Former India opener Chetan Chauhan had no doubt in his mind that, for once, Dravid got his timing wrong.
"This would definitely affect the team. He's leaving at a time when the side was gradually settling under him," Chauhan told PTI.
"He was a decent captain who was improving with every game. He did well in the series against England and leading India to a Test series triumph after a 21-year gap is no mean achievement," he pointed out. Chetan, however, still clings on to the faint hope that Dravid may still give it a second thought.
"I would request the selectors first to persuade Dravid to continue and in case he does not relent, only then you should explore other options."
And in case Dravid is adamant, Chetan said, it would leave the selectors with no other options but to fall back on either Sachin Tendulkar or Sourav Ganguly.
"For the time being, I guess may be another two years, you have no other options but go back and appoint either Sachin Tendulkar or Ganguly. Personally I would prefer Tendulkar, he was the vice captain in the Test series in England."
Former captain MAK Pataudi, however, believes the Board should not pressurise Dravid to revert his decision. "If someone doesn't want to continue, he should be allowed to do that. India has done exceptionally well this year in England under his leadership.
But if he does not want to continue as captain and wants to be there only as a player, we should respect that," he said.
Member of India's 1983 World Cup winning team Madan Lal was also shocked by the news. "It must have been a hard decision. It surprised me because he was having a good run as captain. He has won so many matches for the team," Madan said.
The former player felt public pressure and constant criticism could have played some part in influencing Dravid's decision and said, "The trouble is the public pressure is such that it doesn't allow you to settle down. Coaches and captains are always targeted when we lose."
Two other former players, K Srikkanth and Kiran More, who served as chief selector when Dravid was captain, were also baffled by Dravid's decision. "More than surprising, it was shocking," Srikkanth said. More said he too could not foresee it coming and said, "It's his personal decision, maybe he was not liking the weight of captaincy on his shoulder."
Former player and India's manager in the recent UK tour Chandu Borde was equally shocked. "The decision has come as a complete surprise to me, a bolt from the blue. He never discussed this even once when we were on the long tour. I don't know why he has taken this decision," he said. "He must have given it a lot of consideration. We have to respect his decision," the former Test middle order mainstay said in Pune.
Asked if the criticism for not enforcing follow-on in the final Test at the Oval could have anything to do with Dravid's decision, Borde said, "No, I don't think so. It was a collective decision."

Dravid abdicates Indian captain's throne

Rahul Dravid has stepped down as India captain just a month after leading his team to a rare Test series victory in England, the country's cricket board said.
Dravid, who took over the captaincy from Sourav Ganguly in 2005, said he would continue playing for India, but wanted to concentrate on his batting.
"Rahul met (Indian cricket chief) Sharad Pawar on Thursday and expressed his desire to step down as captain of the Indian team," board secretary Niranjan Shah said in a statement on Friday.
"He requested that he should not be considered for the job for the ensuing Australia series.
He further assured that he would extend his full co-operation to his successor and contribute as a batsman and a senior player. "Rahul wanted to concentrate on his game."
Australia will arrive in India for seven one-day internationals later this month.
Dravid, 34, is the second Indian after Sachin Tendulkar to quit captaincy for batting in the last seven years. Tendulkar stepped down after a two-Test home series against South Africa in 2000 and was replaced with Ganguly. India won eight Tests under Dravid, including series victories in the West Indies, Pakistan, Bangladesh and England.
The success in the Caribbean in 2006 was India's first in 35 years, and last month they won their first Test series in England in two decades. Nicknamed "The Wall" for his solid defence, Dravid has scored 9,492 runs in 112 Tests with 24 centuries and 10,534 runs in 327 one-day internationals with 12 hundreds.
He is only the third Indian after Tendulkar and Ganguly to score more than 10,000 runs in the shorter version of the game.
"He has discussed the issue with me twice. I think we need to respect his decision," said Pawar. "He has recently told me that captaincy was affecting his game. He has said he would like to continue playing and improve upon his performance."
The Board of Control for Cricket in India was expected to discuss Dravid's resignation at a meeting next Tuesday.
"I think the reasons are personal. Every captain has his prerogatives. I think he was feeling the burden (of captaincy)," said Indian board vice-president Rajiv Shukla.
Dravid's most disappointing moment as one-day captain came in the World Cup in the Caribbean early this year when his team were knocked out in the first round after a shock defeat against Bangladesh in the opening match.
He opted out of the ongoing Twenty20 World Championships in South Africa and was replaced with wicketkeeper-batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

BCCI's bouncers to ZEE: IPL and Champions League

Indian cricket board has made its move. In a step that will effectively take the sting out of the Indian Cricket League, the BCCI has launched its own Indian Premier League (IPL) and an international Champions Twenty20 League.
The leagues will start from next year.
Matches are scheduled for 5pm or 8pm, for your convenience.
The board lined up Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, snatched Warne and Glenn McGrath from the ICL's grasp, and paraded ICC honchos and the cricket bosses of seven nations in a show of money and political muscle.
The IPL, which starts next April, will have eight city teams vying over 44 days for a prize money of $3 million (Rs 12.13 crore).
The top two teams join the top two clubs from the Australian, South African and English T20 leagues for an eight-team Champion's League in October. The prize money for the nine-day, 15-match event equals that of the 2007 World Cup - $5 million or Rs 202 crore - which is nearly three times the current T20 World Cup's $1.9-million purse. The cash award announced by the ICL is $1 million.
"I hope this will be successful, if the people on the dais cannot make it work, then it's just not going to work," Dravid said. McGrath and Warne chose the known devil after being terribly tempted by the ICL's alleged offers of $700,000 (Rs 2.88 crore), sources said.
New Zealander Fleming apparently turned down $500,000. Sachin, Sourav, Dravid and Anil Kumble are said to have been made even bigger offers. None has signed up yet, but the BCCI showcased them to reassure potential bidders that they were "available".
Board vice-president Lalit Modi said, "This (the IPL) is towards the end of the season. Cricketers are mostly free at that time."
The league's most revolutionary aspect is a franchise system under which the eight teams will be owned by companies, which can list them on the bourses. The franchisees must pay the BCCI a fee but will get to share revenues. Modi said the model was inspired by the US basketball and baseball leagues. "The franchisees will get marketing rights... will be entitled to local revenues like ticket sales." There will also be a draft allowing the buying and selling of players. "The concept of franchise is mind-blowing," McGrath told the news conference.
Warne said from London: "I am pretty much excited to join." Modi said over 30 companies and individuals had approached the board for IPL sponsorships.
"IMG will be the event manager," senior board official Ratnakar Shetty said. Both Sony and SET said they were confident about bagging the telecast rights. Nimbus was undecided but CMD Harish Thawani said, "As the current domestic telecast rights holder for the BCCI, we have the first right to the board's new domestic property."
The advertising industry was happy. "The player pool will expand and more opportunities will be available to more cricketers. With localised teams playing, it can throw up local stars," McCann Erickson India's Prasoon Joshi said. Each team must have at least four local players and not more than three foreign players.
The rest of the squad of 16 will be non-local Indians. Four players must be under 21. Each IPL team plays seven home games and seven away.
The 56 league games are followed by two semi-finals and the final.
The Champion's League divides teams into two groups of four. The 12 group matches are followed by the semi-finals and the final. Sunil Gavaskar, whose son Rohan has joined the ICL, will be in the IPL's governing council with fellow ex-skippers Ravi Shastri and M.A.K. Pataudi.
ICL head Kapil Dev was reluctant to comment. "I don't want to say much," he said.
Modi, who had a lot to say, slipped up once, requesting board chief Sharad Pawar to unveil the logo of the "Indian Cricket League". He quickly realised the mistake, smiled and sat down.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

No Twenty20: Zimbabwe take it all from Australia

An outraged Ricky Ponting blasted his team after Australia were stunned by Zimbabwe in their opening match of the Twenty20 World Cup on Wednesday.
The skipper held nothing back in his summation of the shock five-wicket loss, even heaping plenty of the blame on himself as Australia's top order failed miserably in Cape Town.
After restricting Australia to 9-138 from their 20 overs, Zimbabwe - needing 12 runs from the final over - claimed an amazing victory when they scored four leg byes from the penultimate delivery.
Opener Brendon Taylor was the star for the Africans, picking up the man-of-the-match award after a superb 60 not out. Zimbabwe celebrated as if they had won the World Cup, rushing onto the field in jubilation before doing a lap of honour while Australia licked their wounds in the dressing room.
The humiliating defeat leaves the one-day world champions in danger of crashing out of the tournament at the first hurdle, with their only hope of advancing past the group stage and into the Super Eights lying with a victory over England on Friday.
Asked if he felt embarrassed by the loss, Ponting forthrightly replied: "Yeah of course, and we should. We rightly should. "There might be a lot of Australians back home who feel the same way as well. "It's not been that often that I've walked off the cricket field feeling that way, but I think if you went into our rooms and asked every other player in there they'll say the same thing.'' Ponting admitted his team was outplayed and needed to show more respect for the game.
"It is a mental thing for us, we have to start respecting the game a bit more and thinking what we have to do,'' he said. "We have been outplayed today no doubt about that.''
While they did have two warm-up games at the weekend, the match was Australia's first international fixture since winning the World Cup in April, and the rustiness of that four-month break showed.
Ponting, who told his side after the match "if that's not a wake up call to all of us, then nothing ever will be'', was particularly scathing of the top order. After winning the toss and batting, Australia were 3-19 in just the fourth over after Matthew Hayden (4), Adam Gilchrist (4) and Ponting (8) all fell cheaply. "If we look at the way that we played, our batting at the top just wasn't good enough,'' Ponting said.
"No doubt today, being 3-19, that's probably where the game was lost. "So particularly the top three batters have got to have a bit more respect for their own games and make sure they get some more time in the middle and some more runs.''
Brad Hodge (35 not out off 22) and Andrew Symonds (33 from 25) ensured Australia set a competitive target. But they were well held by a disciplined Zimbabwe bowling attack - led by Elton Chigumbura (3-20) and Gary Brent (2-19) - which in turn was well backed by some at-times brilliant fielding.
That discipline seeped through to the run chase, with Taylor keeping a steady hand despite the disruption of a 30-minute rain delay in the 12th over. Needing 12 from the final over, Taylor hit Bracken for four from the first ball before whittling the equation down to four runs from two balls.
Bracken fired his penultimate delivery at Taylor's legs, with the ball flicking the pad and racing to the fine-leg boundary - just evading the fingertips of a diving Stuart Clark.

When India Dar (Aleem) gaya at Lord’s !

By John Cheeran
India lost the one-day series in England, but no one is perturbed. Rahul Dravid’s men fought hard indeed to make the seventh match at Lord’s meaningful. But Pakistani (yes, I’m not forgetting the fact he should be seen as ICC’s choice) umpire Aleem Dar’s two rotten decisions against Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar (both off the bowling of Andrew Flintoff) made it a no contest.
India lost the one-day series 3-4 and the pulsating run chase that culminated in a thrilling win in the penultimate match at the Brit Oval washed off many of their sins – including patchy bowling and atrocious fielding.
India should thank Sachin Tendulkar for the series of splendid scores he has logged at this age and stage of his career. India should also be proud of youngsters such as Robin Uthappa who converted a crisis situation into an opportunity to establish himself as a pro. It was the first match for Uthappa after the Sri Lanka encounter in the West Indies during the World Cup.
The match at the Brit Oval was one of the most dramatic ones in recent times. India had lost all hopes of winning the match once England tail ender Dimitri Mascarenhas smashed all the six balls off Yuvraj Singh, who bowled the last (50) over of the England innings.
It was another of captain Dravid’s decisions that came under fire. When you are forced to carry a bowler such as Ajit Agarkar as your opening bowler, any captain may get exasperated. And a hitter such as Dimitri will exploit the chances that come his way.
And for Aleem Dar, he is not the first umpire to give rotten decisions. It is time the International Cricket Council got its act together to root out the kind of subjectivity on umpire’s part that ruins the game.
Clearly, the way out is to give more powers to the third umpire and rely on the advantages of television replays. There is no doubt that such a move will make the on field umpires mere scarecrows.
But if it adds to quality of cricket, so be it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ganguly's grit tells a story

By John Cheeran
Having heaped scorn Sourav Ganguly, I should recognize and admire his gritty efforts with the Indian cricket team on his comeback trail.
A set of factors paved the way for Ganguly’s comeback. I will not discuss those now. What’s important is that Ganguly, when faced with challenging situations has performed for the team, overcoming his limitations. With huge slice of luck and an equal dose of pluck Ganguly has come up a string of half-centuries and that last one was at Leeds against England in the one-day series.
I must grant that Ganguly has a sense of occasion. Playing in his 300th ODI, Ganguly scored runs (59) and took two wickets that helped India beat England by 38 runs to cut their rivals lead to 3-2.
Let me quote India’s leader Rahul Dravid on Ganguly. “ Playing 300 matches is not as important as performance. He has performed for more than a decade – that is really a big thing.”
Anyway, you have been picked to perform only.
In Ganguly’s case, in the past, many had overlooked that aspect and had treated him as a talisman. Tragedy was that Ganguly himself believed in that fiction.It gladdens me and the rest of the Indian cricket fans that Ganguly has seen the light, or to be more precise, the twilight.
But it also saddens me that Ganguly has not improved an inch from an embarrassing fielder. One cannot overlook that Ganguly dropped Ian Bell in the slips off the first ball the English batsman faced at Leeds.
That’s a measure of the commitment and attitude of an average Indian cricketer.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Zee's Indian Cricket League (ICL): It's all about dollars!

By John Cheeran
What is the Indian Cricket League, floated by the Zee Group, is all about?
Is it about strengthening the Indian cricket? Or is it a long-term business venture to win telecast advertising?
No doubt there is excitement in the air. I become cagey when Kapil Dev talks about values and strengthening the Indian cricket. Kapil is after for a bigger slice of the money cake in the Indian cricket. He could not realize his grand designs with in the BCCI, whether it is Ranbir Singh Mahendra or Sharad Pawar.
Let me tell you, all these worthies including Zee’s Subash Chandra, and our illustrious veterans such as Kapil, Sandeep Patil, Bawinder Singh Sandhu and Kiran More are chasing dollars. And they are free to do that. Just as you and me are chasing dollars.
The only point is that you cannot expect to cry over and win the game. You cannot expect the Board of Cricket in Control for India to make things easier for the ICL. The BCCI will, and they have the right, fight to protect their turf. For them things are easy since the nature of cricket is such that it arouses patriotism in its followers more than the boundaries of scoreboard.
Organised sport is half reality, and half fantasy. That’s why the BCCI when questioned with another moral crisis of sorts told the Indian supreme court a few years ago that they are selecting not the Indian team but only the BCCI team. At that stage, unfortunately, India’s sport editors, hollow men all of them, looked elsewhere.
Do you have any stake in the BCCI? I don’t have. Do you have any stake Indian cricket team? I do have, and therefore I watch Rahul Dravid and company. Not because they are Jagmohan Dalmiya’s boys are Pawar’s henchmen.
Can anyone challenge the rights of the BCCI to run the cricket in India? Can Subash Chandra do it? The ICC will deal with the BCCI only. Malcolm Speed has made that explicit. And in a year’s time Sharad Pawar will be the ICC supreme. I cannot see the ICC offering a helping hand to the ICL. And without the veneer of nationalism, none is going to watch the Indian Cricket League. As it is there is hardly any free day without official cricket. Subash Chandra will have to wait a long time. No doubt, Chandra is a canny tycoon. He has the resources to play a Test match in this battle of Twenty20s. The ICL will be in limbo despite the odd international has beens such as Brian Lara, Damien Martyn and assorted Pakistani cricketers.
For the ICL to take off, Chandra has to shake up the ICC. To conquer the ICC, the easiest route is to conquer the BCCI. Well, all said and done, the BCCI holds annual elections, and Subash Chandra can contest the elections. For that he has to become the candidate of any affiliated unit. May be Dalmiya could help him. But even Dalmiya is searching for a foothold in the Cricket Association of Bengal.
One thing is sure. ICL’s emergence will force the BCCI to shed its flab. One should not fear competition, on the field and off the field. But floating parallel bodies with a heap of currency notes is not the way to boost Indian cricket.
Everyone is busy comparing the Zee’s ICL to Kerry Packer’s World Series. But what those pundits in their hurry are forgetting to point out is that Packer dismantled his circus tent soon he reached an agreement on telecast rights with the Australian Cricket Board.
Tell me how long did Packer series last? Where is the Packer Series now?Much in the same fashion, the ICL too shall pass. Pawars may come and go, but the BCCI and the ICC and so-called official cricket will go on and on. Till India discovers its Maradonas and Peles.

Chak De Dravid: Thicken the One-day plot by winning at Headingley

By John Cheeran
After living through the harrowing experience of a botched World Cup campaign, this Indian team, led by Rahul Dravid, should be able to take abuse and adulation with a touch of indifference. I do not presume they would be an enervated lot as they step on to the field at Headingley for the fifth one-dayer against England.
The point is that Paul Collingwood’s England enjoy a huge lead of 3-1. India must win the remaining three games to clinch the seven-match one-day series.
Again, those who are watching the Indian team are naturally losing patience, especially after Indians let go the Manchester match out of their hands after holding England by the scruff of their neck.
India have been good in parts like the curate’s egg during the one-day series. Sachin Tendulkar and skipper Rahul Dravid have been among the runs; Piyush Chawla has found his rhythm. But India’s fielding has been slack at its best. Where is fielding coach Robin Singh hiding? Indians were not able to convert their dominance into victory in the last two matches. And I must say that Dinesh Karthick’s, whom I consider India’s best batting bet for the future, failure with the bat cost India the last two matches.
Indian bowling tends to be licentious once again, giving away runs when the batsmen should be exposed and sent back to the pavilion.
And look at in wonder the refreshing approach the young Stuart Broad carries on his shoulders. Four wickets and a 40-odd run effort from this youngster upended the match in England’s favour.
Where are India’s Stuart Broads and Ravi Boparas?
Have they all gone to Subash Chandra’s Indian Cricket League?
It’s time the BCCI and Dilip Vengsarkar came up with a nice rehabilitation package for Ajit Agarkar, the veteran of three World Cups, so that India can plug the gaping chinks in their bowling armour and start winning a few more One-dayers. It is important to have patience with the tried ones, but it is also important to test some – guys such as Robin Uthappa and Ranadeb Bose deserve a chance in these one-dayers.
Aren’t they in the one-day squad?

NP Pradeep: From pauper to Prince of Indian football

By P I Rajeev / Indian Express
KOCHI, AUGUST 30: A bit dazed by all the back-thumping and adulation ever since he landed at the airport here this morning from New Delhi, Naduparambil Pappachen Pradeep is still to come to terms with his overnight stardom in this soccer-crazy state.
It’s been a long journey for Indian soccer’s best defender in recent years, whose one blistering long ranger fetched India the Nehru Cup last night: from a frail school kid who learnt to go without food on occasions when his labourer-parents could find no work, to the tearful 16-year-old who nearly abandoned his soccer dreams because he didn’t have the money to buy a pair of football shoes.
Even his passport application fee had to be paid for by his village football club in Thodupuzha before he put on the India Under-19 colours in 2001. And this ex-captain of India’s under-23 team lives in an unfinished little hut that he had begun constructing with the Rs 28,000 that the local Moolamattom panchayat had given him.
“It was tough, very tough. I really had to struggle to remain with football until the State Bank of Travancore team took me in,” said Pradeep, who now plays for Mahindra United.
“Football is what the poor play, the rich have cricket, and the difference shows” says I M Vijayan, former Indian soccer ace who himself had come up from as poor a background.
Pradeep had played with him for Kerala once in the National Football Championship, before Vijayan retired.
“Take my word, this boy is a great player, a total footballer, probably the best among the country’s younger crop. There aren’t many who can shoot as good as him with both the left and the right,” says Vijayan.
Ironically, Pradeep could not make it to even his college football team while he did his pre-degree at the Kerala Varma College in Thrissur, where Vijayan was his senior. “I dithered. I wasn’t sure if I could really afford to get into football then,” says Pradeep. But things changed after someone spotted the youngster at a youth camp that the Kerala Football Association held in Thodupuzha, and his friends pitched in to help.
As he prepares to fly off to Mumbai tomorrow to join his team, Pradeep has only one regret — that his father, who toiled hard in the village farms to let him chase his dream, is not around.
He died a week before Pradeep was asked to join the national squad’s conditioning camp for the Nehru Cup.
Pradeep says he dedicated his goal last night to his father.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

For the record: India beat Syria to win Nehru Cup (football)

NEW DELHI, August 29, 2007
Hosts India won the five-nation Nehru Cup football tournament with a 1-0 victory over favourites Syria in the final here on Wednesday.
Pappachan Pradeep scored the winner a minute before half-time with a powerful right-footer from the top of the box that caught a diving Syrian goalkeeper Musab Balhous on the wrong foot.
Some 10,000 home fans at the overflowing Ambedkar stadium cheered loudly when the final whistle blew to signal a rare moment of triumph for Indian football.
It was the first defeat in the tournament for Syria, ranked 122 in the world against India's 151, after they had won all four round-robin matches.
"The boys deserved to win because they worked very hard for the tournament," said India's English coach Bob Houghton.
"The atmosphere in the team is excellent and we just loved the support we got from the crowd. It's a great night for Indian football."
Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh were the other teams in the tournament.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Salem Division: Kerala MPs tilting at wind mills

By John Cheeran
Last week MPs from Kerala created a ruckus in Parliament peeved at the creation Salem Railway Division. Their protest centered on the fact that large chunks of Palakkad Division were lopped off to create the Salem Division for the neighbouring state Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu, who are demanding the new division, had their arguments based on the geographical reality that the existing Palakkad division largely runs through that state. A fair argument, indeed.
So why were Kerala’s MPs going wild when there was hardly anything to cry about?
In a federal structure what happens if a new Railway Division has been created? Are these MPs are championing the cause of some of the bureaucrats in the existing Palakkad Division? There no job losses, no trouble to passengers, so what’s the big fuss about?
As far as I know not a single Kerala railway passenger will be adversely affected by the creation of the new Salem Division. All trains that come to Kerala will still come, observing the same schedule, carrying the same passengers. There are no changes at the boarding and alighting points.
The quality of the service will be the same. So why Kerala’s MPs, mainly belonging to the CPI (M) fold, were hopping mad at the Parliament Hall?
And mind you Palakkad Division is the route through which millions of Malayalis pass through to earn their bread in such far away places as New Delhi, Dispur and Shillong. And Chennai too.
Did anyone ask these railway commuters what’s their opinion on the Salem Division issue?
No. Not the MPs or the television channels and the newspapers in Kerala.Long live these divisions, long live India.

Dravid inspires Indian revival at Bristol

By John Cheeran
There is never a dull moment in Indian cricket.
On the field, Indian cricketers have regrouped after the World Cup fiasco and won Test series in Bangladesh and England. The team remains more or less the same.
The loss in the first one-dayer against England was a shocker. It rattled at least skipper Rahul Dravid and it was no surprise that the Indian captain played an exquisite innings to help post a winning total at Bristol. For those critics who were carping that Dravid has been struggling to get runs during the Tests should be taking notes.
Yes, Sachin Tendulkar was simply superb.
But he still remains a self-conscious teenager, worried about his centuries. The more you worry about such milestones, the more you will be denied. And I’m aware that many viewers thanked the umpire for packing Tendulkar off at 99, for that ensured an Indian victory!
As always fielding remains India’s weak spot. Certain catches were dropped during the England chase and that stretched an already exasperated Indian bowling to its limits.
There are five more games to be played out in England and excitement will not be in short supply.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Confessions of skipper Dravid after the Southampton drubbing

Handed a comprehensive 104-run defeat in the series opener, India captain Rahul Dravid admitted his side had been thoroughly outplayed in all departments of the game and the players need to make amends if they are to win the ODI series against England.
"No excuses. We were outplayed today," Dravid said after the match in Southamption's Rose Bowl.
"We didn't come to the party at all - we were outbatted, outbowled and outfielded and we've got to play a lot better if we want to stay in the series," he said. It was clearly not the best way to kick off the seven-match ODI series and while shoddy batting, flat bowling and sloppy fielding did hurt, three reckless run-outs might have been the last straw for the side. "We need to go on improving. Fielding isn't our strong area and we're not going to develop strong arms and athletic legs overnight. But we need to constantly work on it and make small improvements.
"What we must to is not make stupid mistakes while running between the wickets. That's something we can definitely avoid," said an upset Dravid. He also defended his decision to bowl first, only to see England batsmen rack up 288 for 2. "In hindsight, I might do something different, but it was overcast, there had been a lot of rain in the air and the wicket looked a bit tacky," said Dravid.
"But it didn't do as much as we expected, we couldn't get wickets early on and Cook and Bell batted beautifully. The way they played the middle overs was really special and took the game away from us. And losing four wickets early always puts you under pressure."

Hockey will not be cricket, despite Chak De India!

By John Cheeran
I enjoyed Chak De India, the Shah Rukh Khan movie.
Rarely do Indian screens have sport movies and this one is an out and out effort and a good one at that.
The only romance in the screen is the romance with hockey, once a sport that enjoyed wide fan following in north India, but now reduced to a federation’s game.
I have watched and reported quite a few hockey matches at the National Stadium in New Delhi and at the Shivaji Stadium, again in New Delhi. Chak De India takes off from the camp SRK (Kabir Khan) organizes and when camera lingered over the Dhyan Chand’s swarthy statue
for a second I wondered how many would have recalled the all-time hockey great.
The 20-year-old Sagaraika Ghatge, who plays the role of center forward Preeti Sabharwal, provides the vital glue of sex appeal that holds the viewers’ attention while SRK thrashes out the values of team effort and tackles the menace of sub-nationalism in the quest for world championship gold.
By this time everyone would have known that the script was based loosely on former Indian men’s team goalkeeper Mir Ranjan Negi, who suffered the most when Pakistan raped India 8-1 at the National Stadium, during the 1982 Asian Games final. When you rummage through the Indian hockey folklore, you will be reminded that just before that stick rape, Pakistani players entered the turf paying a floral tribute to the spectators.
Blaming cricket is an easy way to promote hockey’s cause. Unfortunately Chak De India does it.
Despite Shah Rukh Khan and his bevy of skirt-toting girls, hockey lacks the appeal that would have forced the nation to swoon over the game and its stars.
But yes, definitely, people would be more familiar with hockey stick thanks to Chak De India than in the past.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dravid and Co Conquer England: A 60th Independence Day Gift for the Nation

By John Cheeran
Finally the Test series win. After the disappointments in Cape Town and in the World Cup held in the West Indies, skipper Rahul Dravid and Indian cricket can celebrate with pride.
At this juncture you cannot but point out the lack of a fulltime professional coach. May be Indian cricket board would do well now not to look for a coach at all.
The most notable aspect of India’s Test triumph over England is the collective effort – both in bowling and in batting. India’s Fab Four – Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and VVS Laxman made some runs but more than that significant knocks came from guys such as Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Dinesh Kaarthik and Wasim Jaffer.
If not for Dhoni’s gutsy batting in the second innings at Lord’s Test where would India be?
Zaheer Khan’s bowling delivered the Trent Bridge Test into Indian hands and an outstanding batting performance from Anil Kumble and Dhoni put India on an unbeatable perch.
For Indian cricket team the series win in England is a bold statement that given the right context, they could fulfill their potential.
Take note, Greg Chappell.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Twelve runs, Dravid and leading from the front

By John Cheeran
How sensible was Indian skipper Rahul Dravid’s decision to not to enforce the follow on England?
If I were the Indian captain I would have weighed the team’s options and still would have asked England to follow on.
That would have forced Michael Vaughan to sort out the pace of the last two days of the Test. That would have been quite a nervy task even for a cool head such as Vaughan.
To make sense out of the last two days England had to score quick runs first to overcome the 300-plus deficit and set India at least 175 runs as a second innings target in the last three sessions of the Test.
But Dravid has taken the onus on himself to dictate the pace of the Test and given an opportunity for England to win.
And Dravid already has paid the price for the decision to not to enforce the follow on. His struggle at the crease in the second innings after the loss three quick wickets was not for himself but for the Indian cause.
Having said that, I’m sure a well-defined assignment should convert England batsmen to suicide bombers, and make no mistake, they will hurl their bats at Indians with all their might.

Oval Test: Some Stray Thoughts

By John Cheeran
First comes Anil Kumble.
India are on the brink of a famous series win at the Brit Oval today, with England requiring 444 more runs in 90 overs, for a series-levelling win.
Things can go wrong sometimes terribly. Skipper Rahul Dravid knows that much and his classic 12 in the second innings when he shut out all risk and there by all scoring shots (scoreboard says Dravid did not score for 96 balls at a stretch) is evidence enough of a new determination not to mess up things.
India’s second innings travails at the Oval are not new. What worries us today is that will Indian bowlers suffer a panic attack if Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen up the ante?
In this context, Kumble’s first Test century attains greater importance. India’s dominance in the Oval Test stems from the fact that lower order batted much more doggedly, and with élan, than their illustrious predecessors.
Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman did not do justice to the pitch at the Oval and they had left the task of consolidating the gains to the likes of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. None had expected Kumble to score more than 20s and 30s. But suddenly Kumble found how easy was scoring runs. He just threw his bat round and ball just rolled to the boundary.
As India are determined to stop England from logging 444 from 90 overs focus will be firmly on Kumble, this time to do wonders with the ball.
Skipper Dravid will find none more trustworthy and committed than this veteran leg spinner to apply breaks to England second innings and if possible, ambush their ambitious run chase.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

M A Baby, majority and minority in Kerala

By John Cheeran
A few weeks ago Kerala’s current cultural czar and education minister M A Baby had made a brilliant statement on the minorities. Let me state that I belong to a minority community (Orthodox Christian) at first.
M A Baby said that minorities should not demand any benefits that are not enjoyed by the majority.
All right, Mr Baby. I agree.
But will you let the minorities in Kerala enjoy the benefits that are enjoyed by the majority in Kerala? I challenge Baby and his ignorant army of SFI, DYFI and CITUs to prove me wrong.
Does Mr Baby know that the Majority in Kerala are Hindus?
Does he know that the majority among the majority are OBCs and SCs and STs?
And the Ezhava community, the backbone of CPI (M) and the CPI in Kerala , belong to the Other Backward Commmunity and enjoy the fruits of reservation in educational institutions and public sector jobs? Are Ezhavas are worse off than Christians and Muslims in Kerala?
In India and Kerala, it’s the majority community (read aloud Hindus) who enjoy the state patronage.
And everyone knows that the OBCs and SCs and STs in the majority community are given the state patronage to ensure that they remain in the Hindu fold and do not embrace other religions.
It has been written that those who convert are not to be given the state reservation patronage.What benefits are Christians in Kerala, and in India, enjoying?
No jobs are reserved for them in government sector in India.
Kerala’s Muslims, as far as I know, come under the OBC category. So what’s comrade Baby talking about?
I’m surprised that Kerala’s media and even the Catholic Bishops did not take up the point with the Education Minister instead of raising the bogey of liberation struggle.
God save us from these Marxist babies.

Sreesanth: Crime and Punishment

By John Cheeran
Shantakumaran Sreesanth is out of the Indian squad for the seven one-day international against England in England. What it means is that he can come back home early, once the Test series ends.
Is this omission a punishment? Possible.
Especially after Sreesanth’s frustration getting the better of him during the second Test at Trent Bridge where he shoulder charged Michael Vaughan and felled Kevin Pietersen at the crease.
But all the same keep this point in mind. More than his antics, it was Sreesanth’s his inability to take wickets that let him down. As long as a bowler takes wickets he will have his place in the side.
It is when you struggle for wickets other factors such as good behaviour creeps in.
Sreesanth has been found guilty of not living up to the standards of gentlemanly conduct, by match referee and opinion makers.
Yes, Sreesanth would do well for himself by controlling his aggression. Also Sreesanth should remember that a bowler should restrict his anger between the wickets.
Sreesanth should not be disheartened by the fact he is out of one-day action. He might still get a chance to bowl in the third and final Test at the Oval.
Who knows what can Sree come up with there?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Looking at Indian cricket in wonder

By John Cheeran
Have you seen Woody Allen’s Matchpoint? If not, you should. It tells us how great a role luck plays in one’s fortunes. The movie begins with a shot of tennis ball caught in flight at the net chord, and it could go into rival’s court or bounce into yours. It all depends on which way the wind blows then.
May be you would tell me that it does not require a Woody Allen to tell this. Your own life might illustrate the point of luck much more harrowingly.
Or in case you need more proof, look at Rahul Dravid’s India. If only light and rain held out a little more, England could have hammered the final nail in India’s Test coffin by removing S Sreesanth from the crease. At nine for whatever, India stood no chance of saving the Test but for the rain intervention.
As Rahul Dravid made his famous statement “We broke out of the jail” everyone understood the meaning of cricket and may be to some sense that of life too.
Then came Trent Bridge.
India scored a creditable win over England at Trent Bridge. The victory in the second Test was no surprise, especially after India dominated the action throughout the five days.
What was surprising was the reaction to India’s Test win. It has been now taken that this bunch of players is capable of producing surprises such as this quite often. The celebrations were tempered by the terrible performance in World Cup and as what happened in South Africa, after India’s famous Sreesanth-inspired triumph in Durban Test.
India deserved to win at Trent Bridge. No wonder then it was a collective performance and a bit of luck. Winning the toss was important but the fact that for once Indians exploited the conditions to put Michael Vaughan’s England on the back foot. India put up an imposing first innings score though none scored a century. Many excelled with the bat starting from openers Dinesh Karthik and Wasim Jaffer. It was nothing but poetic justice that the record-hungry Sachin Tendulkar was denied another century and in the process India won. Take a look at the scoreboard. Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Dravid made some runs. Only MS Dhoni lost out. He might have been bloody tired after his gallant effort in the second innings to keep India alive on the ventilator.
What matters now is that India cannot lose the Test series from this position with only one Test remaining. And it shall matter if India just could play out a draw and win the series at the Oval in a week’s time.
And what does it all mean? Who is our coach? Where is he? And where is Greg Chappell.
The BCCI has showed that it anyone can be a coach, yes including Chandu Borde, and results – victories-- would still come home. It’s all about karma, mate.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Clippings: India beat England in Trent Bridge Test

India eased to a seven-wicket win over England in the second test at Trent Bridge on Tuesday to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
The tourists, resuming on 10 without loss, reached their victory target of 73 for the loss of Dinesh Karthik, Wasim Jaffer and Sachin Tendulkar in the morning session on the fifth and final day.
England paceman Chris Tremlett took all three wickets to fall but Michael Vaughan's side slipped to their first home defeat in 13 months.
Jaffer top-edged a pull shot and was caught by Kevin Pietersen at gully, Karthik edged a short ball to wicketkeeper Matt Prior and Tendulkar was caught at backward short leg as Tremlett finished with three for 12 from 7.1 overs.
Skipper Rahul Dravid (11 not out) and Saurav Ganguly (two) steered India to victory as the winning runs came with four byes.
It was India's second test win in England since 1986. The final test starts at The Oval on August 9.
The first test at Lord's was drawn when England were prevented from taking a match-winning 20th wicket on the final day because of rain.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Kapil on Tendulkar

Sachin has not performed under pressure: Kapil New Delhi, July 24 (PTI): Former captain Kapil Dev today trained his gun on Sachin Tendulkar after his failure in the first cricket Test against England, saying he has not delivered in crunch situations which will remain a "blot" in his career. "Every time people hope big things from Sachin Tendulkar but often it is only disappointment that we are left with. He is thought to be the backbone of the Indian team but many times he has not stood up to the ocassion," he said. "Figures say that Sachin has not been able to perform under pressure. This will remain a blot in his career," Kapil Dev told 'Aaj Tak'. "There are many players who play well but they face difficulties against good bowling attack, like Sourav Ganguly faces. These kind of questions will be raised in case of Sachin as well and it will continue to remain a blot in his career till he wins matches for India under difficult circumstances," he said. When asked whether Tendulkar deserved a place in the side, Kapil said, "Whether it is Sachin or anyone, one who does not perform does not have any place in the team." Tendulkar was out for 16 in the second innings while India were chasing a stiff total of 380 to win the Test match.

Clippings: Escape from the Lord's jail

LONDON (Agencies)
England were agonisingly denied a win over India on the fifth and final day of the first test at Lord's on Monday after bad light and then rain prevented any play after tea and the match was drawn. India, set 380 to win, were teetering on 282 for nine and still 98 away from victory when the weather that had been forecast eventually arrived to save them. Top scorer Mahendra Singh Dhoni defied his natural attacking urges to play a resilient innings of 76 from 159 balls. Last man Shanthakumaran Sreesanth was four not out after surviving an lbw scare against Monty Panesar. "We got out of jail, I think, truly, we got saved by the weather today," India captain Rahul Dravid told reporters, before adding that he had hoped the umpires would have stepped in to offer the light sooner. "As a batting team in those conditions we would have wanted them to have stepped in a little earlier as we could have lost a wicket but if I was the fielding side I would have been doing the same so I have no problems with how it was handled." England, who scored 298 in their first innings and then bowled India out for 201, compiled a big lead with a second innings 282 largely thanks to Kevin Pietersen's 134, which he described as the best of his nine test centuries. The teams meet again at Trent Bridge on Friday, with India buoyed by their close escape which denied England a fourth successive test win. "That's just the English weather for you," England captain Michael Vaughan said, before praising his inexperienced bowling attack after a spate of injuries kept out Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard. "We batted well to set the game up, especially Kevin Pietersen and I thought our young bowlers put the ball in the right areas and put an experienced Indian batting line-up under pressure. It's probably the best we've bowled since 2005. "But in 2005 (when England beat Australia) we put that kind of performance in game after game so we will have to do the same at Nottingham..." HARD FIGHT India resumed on 137 for three and lost overnight batsmen Saurav Ganguly (40) and Dinesh Karthik (60) within the first half hour before VVS Laxman and Dhoni fought hard with a stand of 86. Ganguly, who scored 136 on test debut at Lord's 11 years ago, departed first when he played down the wrong line and was lbw to left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom. Opener Karthik was soon tempted into edging James Anderson to Paul Collingwood at second slip for 60. His three and a half hour innings did not receive any applause from his team mates on the balcony. Dhoni lived dangerously early on, edging spinner Panesar in between slip and wicketkeeper when on 14. Collingwood was unable to react quickly enough to take a difficult chance diving to his left. Dhoni was also fortunate on 21 when umpire Steve Bucknor rejected Panesar's lbw appeal, with the batsman on the back foot. Television replays suggested he was out. He also survived a convincing caught behind appeal off James Anderson on 28. Laxman perished after the lunch break when he went back to a delivery from Chris Tremlett only to be bowled for 39 after the ball kept low. That was 231 for six. Anil Kumble was the 14th lbw victim of the match (the record is 17), beaten by a Sidebottom in-swinger and Zaheer Khan was caught down the leg side off debutant Tremlett for a duck. Rudra Pratap Singh played an ill-judged attacking shot and was bowled by Panesar for two. That was 263 for nine. Anderson, playing his first home test for three years, took seven wickets in the match and claimed a career best five for 42 in the first innings. India's Sachin Tendulkar became the third-most prolific batsman in test history in the match by overtaking Steve Waugh's tally of 10,927 runs.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

India escape defeat at Lord's

By John Cheeran
How unexpected defeats strike us. Argentina entered the Copa America finals without a loss yet they were outclassed by Brazil. Even after losing their World Cup campaigns, Brazil and Argentina are still held in high regard in world football.
Argentina, despite their loss in the Copa final, are most attractive plotters of the ball movements on the field. Every time they step out on the field they command respect; the lineage of Alfred Di Stefano, Mario Kempes and Maradona are kept alive by Lionel Messi.
And just two days ago, Argentina won the world youth championship, a tournament that is considered as one of the finest platform for emerging talent, defeating Czech Republic in the final.
Let’s come back to Argentina’s trait of living in dignity despite setbacks.
India, and England, too failed in their World Cup cricket campaigns. But can India command respect from their rivals as well as from television watchers despite their poor show in World Cup?
India have floundered again in the first serious Test that they faced since the World Cup. I guess, the level of expectations from the fans are so low, there are hardly any heartbreaks.
Skipper Rahul Dravid had a disastrous outing as batsman at Lord's Test against England.
VVS Laxman, finally given his chance, struggled to do himself and his team much good. Only Sourav Ganguly showed he could still play within his limitations to ensure his own survival.
And do you think that rain would have helped India if Greg Chappell was still around as coach?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Messi: Emerging from the shadows

Maracaibo, Venezuela (Reuters)
Sweltering Puerto Ordaz, lying halfway between the Caribbean coast and the Amazon jungle in the heart of Venezuela's savannah, is not noted for being one of international soccer's great venues.
On Wednesday, however, the remote, riverside town witnessed a rare moment of football magic when Lionel Messi stamped his indelible mark on the Copa America with a sublime goal.Picking up a short pass from Carlos Tevez on the right, Messi spotted Mexico goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez off his line and chipped the ball delicately over him from the edge of the area.
The goal, the second in Argentina's 3-0 semi-final win over Mexico, was arguably the best goal of the tournament and one of the best scored this year anywhere.
It signalled a great transformation for Messi, who only a year ago sat forlornly on the bench as Argentina lost to Germany on penalties in the World Cup quarter-final in Berlin.It was also a fitting reward for the Venezuelan organisers who have invested in state-of-the-art stadiums for an event where, in recent editions, facilities have often been basic.The Venezuelan government has spent an estimated $1 billion, building three stadiums from scratch and refurbishing another six beyond recognition, to bring the Copa to what is primarily baseball territory.The Cachamay stadium where Messi scored his goal was, until recently, a humble arena with no terraces behind the goal, where the tropical sun beat down on hapless fans.It is now an impressive, covered 41,000-capacity stadium.
When Brazilian pair Ronaldinho and Kaka announced earlier this year that they would not take part because they were too tired, it was feared that other top players would follow suit and the tournament would become a damp squib.Their decision seemed typical of an era in which top players ply their trade almost exclusively in Europe, leaving regions such as Latin America and Africa to act as nothing more than providers of raw material.So, the decision of Argentina to bring a full complement of players was greeted with great enthusiasm by the Venezuelan public.
Messi, in particular, has been greeted rapturously every time he appears on the pitch.Wednesday's goal, almost inevitably, sparked a war of superlatives among the media and led to comparisons with Diego Maradona.
"The Maradona of the 21st century scored an anthological goal," said the Argentine sports daily Ole.La Nacion described it as "a magic touch" and wrote: "On Sunday, Argentina will have to show against Brazil (in the final) that they are the best team in the Copa America."Argentina coach Alfio Basile quickly played down comparisons with Maradona, who never won the Copa America as a player.
"His career has just got off the ground and you can never compare Diego's career with a boy who is starting out," he said.
"The only thing the coaches should do is not inhibit him in the slightest, we have to let him fly."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Nine all out in 10 overs : An Arabian Tale

By John Cheeran
Cricket's unlikely headquarters is at Dubai in the UAE.
And what's the status of cricket there?
The UAE women's cricket team suffered an embarassing 10-wicket defeat to Bangladesh, in the opening fixture of the ACC Women's Tournament in Malaysia.
After being put into bat the UAE, a team comprising expatriate players, were bowled out for only nine runs in 10 overs.
Bangladesh seamer Panna Ghosh (five for 6), did most of the damage as she ripped through the UAE line-up before the batswomen cleaned up in just 8 balls.
The UAE are captained by 13-year-old schoolgirl Natasha Michaels, while Bangladesh are led by 29-year-old Tajkia Akhtar who has been playing cricket since childhood.
UAE team spokesperson Sheila Razdan took the defeat in her stride saying, "We are building for the future."
Ghosh, who had the UAE batswomen in trouble from the start, said " I can bowl a lot faster, but I assessed the situation and decided not to bowl as quick as normal.'
"We're delighted to have won so well and so easily" said Tajkia Akhtar afterwards. "We feel we have a good chance to beat anybody in this tournament."
Brief scores: Bangladesh beat UAE by 10 wickets. UAE: 9 off 10 overs (P. Ghosh 5-6, S. Akter 3-2) Bangladesh: 10 for 0 off 1.2. overs

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Chandra Sekhar, former Indian Prime Minister: An Obituary

By John Cheeran
One of the main privileges that an Indian Prime Minister gets is a final resting place at prime real estate in New Delhi. Chandra Sekhar ensured that in the nervous 1990s, by discarding the political position he had taken hitherto, to become India’s 11th Prime Minister, using the crutches offered by Rajiv Gandhi and L K Advani.
Chandra Sekhar is no more with us.
The one time Young Turk lost his fight to cancer and has embarked on his final journey.
Tradition is that one must not speak ill about those who have left us. But truth is that Chandra Sekhar’s political career was, in the end, an irredeemable tragedy. No pill could cure his loneliness; no pill could restore his thwarted ambitions.
Chandra Sekhar’s tragedy is that though he realized his lifelong ambition by becoming Prime Minister of India, none recalls him as such a man. History did not forgive him so easily.
Chandra Sekhar scored a pyrrhic victory when he became the PM at the fall of Vishwnath Pratap Singh’s government. He never won a mandate to become India’s Prime Minister.
What happened to the Young Turk’s secular credentials when LK Advani’s BJP withdrew their support when VP Singh stopped the Rath Yatra?
It is a travesty that obituaries that churned out by agencies and newspapers today extol the departed leader’s secular credentials and ideals. Like most of the Indian politicians, what acted as the soul force for Chandra Sekhar too, was the maddening allure of power.
Chandra Sekhar became what he sought all along his political pilgrimage. To his credit, it must be said that he displayed the nous to reinvent himself at the crisis points of Indian parliamentary history. As a Congressman, he was in a hurry to break free from Indira Gandhi’s fold but was too young to become Prime Minister (with stalwarts such as Morarji Desai calling the shots) when Janata party swept to power in the post-emergency elections held in 1979.
With in the next 10 years, in 1989, Chandra Sekhar reached the end of his political tether when VP Singh stole the thunder as the Congress dissident, a role Chandra Sekhar played without enough success during Indira’s time. Chandra Sekhar was pushed to the sidelines as the intrigue for Prime Minister’s seat was played out between Devi Lal, Chandra Sekhar and VP Singh. Though the electoral victory of the anti-Congress front was shaped by VP Singh, Chandra Sekhar believed that he had an inalienable right to lead the country.
Chandra Sekhar was forced to wait, and his day did come.

Zee.. ing is believing: Chandra's letter to the BCCI

New Delhi
If Mahatama Gandhi conducted experminets with truth and told the world about it, Zee TV mogul Subhash Chandra has revealed that he too is following in the footsteps of Mahatma.
Chandra has revealed his intent to hold experiments with Indian cricket.
Chandra, in his own words, wants to use India as 'the laboratory to innovate new methods of cricket' through his Indian Cricket League (ICL) - a copycat attempt of what Australian media merchant Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket (WSC) that shook the cricket world in the late 1970s.
In a letter to Sharad Pawar, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Chandra said the ICL, to be launched in October, would be based on a new "vision-cum-action model", which was actually a "3-D approach - diligence, discovery and display.
Let's hear out Chandra.
"The idea is also to develop India, a leading cricketing nation, as the laboratory to innovate new models of cricket so that we set the agenda for innovation for others to follow," Chandra wrote in a three-page letter to Pawar faxed April 3, the day he announced the formation of ICL under the Essel group banner.
"The Essel initiative on cricket involves a 3-D approach that integrates the vision and action on diligence, discovery and display," Chandra wrote in the letter, a copy of which is with IANS.Chandra said he plans to innovate, unearth talent and transform "midgets" into mature, mentally strong and confident players. Since the announcement, ICL has roped in former India captain Kapil Dev, former players Kiran More and Sandeep Patil, former England skipper Tony Greig and ex-Australia batsman Dean Jones to either conduct the tournament or coach some of the six teams. The matches will be 20 overs per side.
The winner in the first tournament will receive $1 million. The matches will be telecast on Zee's in-house Zee Sports channel. Each team will have two players from India and four from abroad.The only step that the BCCI has apparently taken so far is to write to its affiliated units to warn their players and umpires not to associate themselves with ICL and not to lend their infrastructure.
Zee is, however, going ahead with its preparations. Outlining the aims of ICL, Chandra said he would go for "meticulous and out-of-the-box approach to the game to raise its standards, which involves creation of international standard infrastructure".
He plans to tap talent "with the aid of modern technological and communication tools" and provide them financial assistance.Besides, providing "encouragement to the deprived but deserving" players, Chandra wants to "build a transparent national directory of cricketing talent which cricket lovers can view by clicking on the network."This will also include a certain element of character-building through meditation and yoga models that will enable them to withstand and digest the pressures of popularity and prosperity that overawe the young cricketers before they mature into greats," he wrote.
The Zee boss admitted that the "establishment-directed approach to cricket" is "best suited" and that the national board "is the only way to make cricket competition between national teams work". But at the same time, the history of modern cricket shows that innovations have taken place mostly outside the establishment approach, he held. "In my understanding, their constraints rob the cricket establishments of the flexibility needed to adopt a new vision-cum-action model like the 3-D approach."
Chandra also said ICL would "build a national pool of cricket talent that is transparently captured on a national cricketing talent register" from which BCCI and state teams could pick players for their teams. "I assure you that Essel group conceives this as a genuine effort to fill gaps in the present establishment-directed and establishment-managed approach to cricket and will be wholly supportive of the BCCI...," he wrote.

A deserving break for Indian cricket's trinity!

By John Cheeran
National selectors have wisely left skipper Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, and Sourav Ganguly out of the probables list for the Twenty20 World Championship to be held in South Africa in September.
The likes of Virender Sehwag, Mohammad Kaif, who was also named captain of the India 'A' team for the tours of Zimbabwe and Kenya, and Irfan Pathan are there in the list for the Sep 10-24 tournament that will be held in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.
Squads: For Zimbabwe/Kenya tours: Mohammad Kaif (captain/Uttar Pradesh), Parthiv Patel (vice-captain/wicket-keeper/Gujarat), Robin Uthappa (Karnataka), Cheteshwar Pujara (Saurashtra), S. Badrinath (Tamil Nadu), Rohit Sharma (Mumbai), Rajesh Pawar (Baroda), Mahesh Rawat (wicket keeper/Haryana), Piyush Chawla (Uttar Pradesh), Arjun Yadav (Hyderabad), Pragyan Ojha (Hyderabad), Irfan Pathan (Baroda), Vikram Raj Vir Singh (Punjab), Yo Mahesh (Tamil Nadu), Pankaj Singh (Rajasthan) and Niraj Patel (Gujarat) Support staff: Chandrakant Pandit (Coach), T.C. Mathew (manager), Vaibhav Daga (Physiotherapist)
Probables for Twenty20 World Championship: Virender Sehwag (Delhi), Robin Uthappa (Karnataka), Yuvraj Singh (Punjab), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Jharkhand), Mohammad Kaif (Uttar Pradesh), Dinesh Karthik (Tamil Nadu), Rohit Sharma (Mumbai), Gautam Gambhir (Delhi), Yusuf Pathan (Baroda), Suresh Raina (Uttar Pradesh), Manoj Tiwari (Bengal), Neeraj Patel (Gujarat), Karan Goel (Punjab), Cheteshwar Pujara (Saurashtra), Abhishek Jhunjhunwala (Bengal), Rudra Pratap Singh (Uttar Pradesh), Ishant Sharma (Delhi), Zaheer Khan (Mumbai), Irfan Pathan (Baroda), Ajit Agarkar (Mumbai), S. Sreesanth (Kerala), Munaf Patel (Maharashtra), Joginder Sharma (Haryana), Piyush Chawla (Uttar Pradesh), Harbhajan Singh (Punjab), Ramesh Powar (Mumbai), Rajesh Pawar (Baroda), Niranjan Behara (Orissa), Anirudh Srikant (Tamil Nadu), Praveen Kumar (Uttar Pradesh).

Magic figures and Indian Icons

By John Cheeran
Life’s obscure parallel is death.
That’s from poetess Madhavikutty (Kamala Das.)
May be scoreboard’s obscure parallel is stock exchange. A few days after Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar crossed 15,000 run mark in One-day internationals, the top-30 Sensex hit 15,000 mark.
Parallels do not end there. Just as Sachin Tendulkar’s 15,000 runs have not fetched India World Cup, the Sensex’s 15,000 crossing has not brought cheers to vast majority of the nation.
Yet we celebrate. Bulls and Bears, Ups and Downs.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Yuvraj Singh? Best Finisher?

By John Cheeran
No contest is meaningless.
Still two half-centuries by Yuvraj Singh against South Africa that helped India win those two games have come in for much praise.
Very well. Suddenly Yuvraj Singh is hailed as the best finisher in the game. Best finisher in the game? After two innings in what could be termed as neither there nor here contest in Ireland?
The best are those who could overcome adversity. The best are not those who make runs when they make runs. The best are those who make the runs when their team needs it desperately.
I watched Yuvraj’s knock in the second One-Dayer against South Africa. Yes, Yuvraj outscored Dinesh Kaarthick in the end, but the gutsy Punjabi was all at sea except for the last two overs of the Indian innings.We often forget that batsmen are supposed to score runs. That’s simply their job.
None is doing a great favour for the BCCI or Indian Republic if they simply do their job.
And Indian cricket writers would do well to temper their thoughts and words with a sense of history.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

PTI's Dream Indian Team: Dravid out; Azhar In

By John Cheeran
Press Trust of India has done a wonderful thing.
To mark India's 75th year of Test cricket, they have chosen a dream team.
Dream team: Sunil Gavaskar (captain), Vinoo Mankad, Vijay Hazare (vice-captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammed Azharuddin, G R Vishwanath, Kapil Dev, Syed Kirmani (wk), Javagal Srinath, EAS Prasanna, Subash Gupte. 12th Man: Vijay Manjrekar.Reserves: Mohammed Nissar, B S Chandrasekhar, Rahul Dravid.
The team was chosen by a panel consisting of Prasanna, PTI editors and veteran journalist Rajan Bala from a list submitted by eight former Indian captains G R Vishwanath, Dilip Vengsarkar, S Venkataraghavan, K Srikkanth, Ajit Wadekar, Nari Contractor, Syed Kirmani and Abbas Ali Baig.
Isn't it ironic that the Indian with the highest batting average (57.46) Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble the highest number of Test wicket taker (552) are not included in the eleven?
What do you think?

Monday, July 02, 2007

India's triumph in Ireland: Freedom from the tyranny of coach?

By John Cheeran
It would be foolish to assume that not having a coach has worked wonders for the Indian cricket team. They have beaten Bangladesh in their own den, and now have clinched the three match series over South Africa, the No 2 One-day side, away from India, in the face of a fever and common cold outbreak.
And there was no Greg Chappell in Ireland and Bangladesh to put Rahul Dravid and company through their paces. No thinking hats, no rope way danglings.
Is not having a coach such a morale booster for this side?
Or was it the fact that there were certain changes in the team composition, notable among them the dumping of Virender Sehwag?
Absence of Sehwag has ensured that Dinesh Karthick gets his opportunity purely as a batsman. The Tamil Nadu man is capable of thinking on his feet and someone who thrives in crisis and these two attributes come to the fore in a tantalizing scoreboard chase.
In India’s Future Cup victory over South Africa, the imprint left by Sachin Tendulkar’s bat is far too obvious not to be seen. Tendulkar is back to his preferred opener’s slot. Though Tendulkar lost opportunities to score centuries he has grabbed the chance to disprove a theory by giving India a solid platform for victory.
Here it would not be amiss to quote my driver when he commented in the wake of India’s first-match loss to South Africa, after Tendulkar ran himself out at 99. “How could India win this match? Whenever Tendulkar scores heavily (read century), India loses the match.”
It is not the statistics that should worry one, and even Tendulkar.
It is the sentiment.
And Tendulkar has done his best to reverse that sentiment sacrificing his centuries and in the process playing with a sense of urgency in Ireland. Let’s us note that opening the innings in One-dayers, indeed, is a vantage point for a batsman, and especially so for someone of the caliber of Tendulkar.
It is no secret that India’s last coach Chappell looked at things rather differently. Chappell had convinced skipper Dravid that India’s problem in one-dayers is our inability to handle the last 15 overs well. Chappell believed that failure to consolidate the scoring in the last 15 overs took the match away from India’s grip. Chappell wanted Tendulkar to ‘fix’ this condition and the Chinese whisper had it that the Mumbai hero was not at all amused with his downgrading to the middle order.
I’m not too jumpy at these turns and twists in Indian cricket. Greater challenges are ahead of Dravid and his men. The immediate one is the clashes against Pakistan. And, then, there are the Test and one-day series against England. India, like any other team in the fray, are bound to taste success as well as defeats.
To form an opinion at this stage of the ‘freedom from the tyranny of coach’ should wait till the series against England is played out fully.
For the BCCI, they can point out to their trenchant critics to the infinite wisdom the 72-year-old Chandu Borde has brought into the Indian dressing room.
May be Sharad Pawar has known it all along. All things come to pass.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Is Mathrubhumi a yellow journal?

By John Cheeran
Is Mathrubhumi a yellow journal?
P Jayarajan, prominent leader of the ruling CPI(M) general manager of Deshabhimani has reiterated the charges he made in the Kerala Assembly against the widely respected newspaper. It is interesting to note that the controlling stakes of the Mathrubhumi are with an ally of the LDF government, MP Veerendrakumar, himself a wily politician, now leading a rump of Janata Dal.
CPI (M)’s chief minister V S Achuthanandan, who has been behaving like a factional leader, had quickly clarified in the Assembly on Thursday itself that Mathrubhumi is a respected national daily. It is to be noted that Mathrubhumi has been relentless in carrying stories that hurt the interests of the Pinarayi Vijayan group in particular and the CPI (M) in general.
Jayarajan, himself at the helm of Deshabhimani, has quoted Britannica encyclopedia and NBS Nighandu, to reiterate that Mathrubhumi is a yellow journal. Jayarajan says sensationalism is the hallmark of yellow journalism and Mathrubhumi, by reporting that Deshabhimani has taken Rs 2 crores from a tainted lottery king Santiago Martin in the form of bonds, has invited the charges against it.
Yes, sensationalism is yellow journalism. But who defines what’s sensationalism?
Is telling the truth amounts to sensationalism?
If, then, let’s embrace such journalism. When the Hindu and Indian Express raked up the Bofors scandal was it yellow journalism or a crusade against corruption?
A newspaper’s success should not be measured only in the profit margin column. As long as a newspaper is able to provoke the establishment into rage, as Mathrubhumi has done in Kerala, they should be considered as traveling on the right track.CPI (M), it appears, is afraid of criticism. Of course CPI (M) in Kerala are stung by Mathrubhumi’s criticism.
Having said that I admit that journalists in Kerala often get their stories wrong, much as elsewhere. Just because something has appeared in newspapers such as Mathrubhumi and Malayala Manorama should not be considered as facts.
Take the ISRO spy saga and even the Rajani Anand suicide. Kerala’s newspapers, including CPI (M)’s Deshabhimani had indulged in mindless sensationalism in such cases. But to tar them with the tag of yellow journalism would be missing the wood for the trees.
I thought CPI (M) took pride in claiming that they stood for the people.
Indian Communists had brand-positioned the CPI (M) as People’s Party in the parliamentary shopping shelf .
Why should a people’s party fear a newspaper?
I do not consider Mathrubhumi as a yellow journal. They have a legacy that has been respected by generation of readers. But I also believe that despite two of the strongest newspapers adopting anti-Marxist line for decades, Kerala’s electorate has brought Communists into power, albeit honouring the five-year interregnums.
Readers, after all, are smarter than editors.
John Cheeran at Blogged