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.
John Cheeran at Blogged