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.
John Cheeran at Blogged