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Ishant Sharma: An English Nightmare

by Naked Cricket


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The Great Ballance Striptease

by Naked Cricket

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What does Murali Vijay know

by Naked Cricket

Murali Vijay now has four Test centuries. His first was in October, 2010. He made his Test debut way before that in 2008. Gambhir was unavailable for the 4th Test vs. Australia. (after scoring 206 in the 3rd )

Since then in over close to six years, Vijay has played 23 Tests. He was on call whenever Gambhir or his sis were getting married or Sehwag had hair raising duties.

Then the wins dried up, as did the runs off the Delhi Brothers’ bats, Vijay returned. This time though he scored two big back-to-back hundreds, 167 and 153. By the third Test, Sehwag exited too.

Vijay added 221 for the first wicket with Dhawan. It’s been over a year now since that series, and Vijay hasn’t left the opener’s slot. What he has done though is leave the ball rather well.

In spite of that, in the last 14 innings, he had not scored a century, just 2 50s. His three centuries were scored at home.

By then anyone watching Vijay knew he had enough patience to watch paint dry and by virtue of that stick it out as an opener.

But could he also score bigs runs overseas, or just Aakash Chopra one end – 6(42) vs South Africa was very Chopra-school. 39(94) in the same Test, somewhat  better, but the score continued to tease.  

97(227) in over five hours, India’s new old-style grinding machine opener had arrived.

And today, 122 (294) in over six and a half hours. Vijay has arrived in England.

His baggage though is a lot less than it was a year back.

It’s exactly a year back that Vijay played his last ODI. He did not open, Rohit and Dhawan did. Vijay didn’t even bat. Kohli, Raina and Karthik did before him.

And though Vijay made the Champions Trophy squad, he didn’t play a game. Nowadays he doesn’t even make the one day squad.

It must be such a relief for Vijay. To know he’s not in the reckoning for the World Cup. And he doesn’t have to do a thing to change that.

He can get back to what he does best, leave ball after ball after ball. They don’t call him Monk for nothing. 

As for Gambhir, suspect he'll only return if Vijay decides to marry.

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The Curious Case of Umesh Yadav

by Aditya

The last time India won a Test match against a ‘good opposition’ was back in November 2012.

To clear all doubts let me define a “good opposition” first. It depends on various factors like the quality of the Indian team, conditions they play in and the quality of the opposition amongst other things. 

For example when India played New Zealand in New Zealand earlier this year it was against a good opposition, but New Zealand weren’t a good opposition when they played in India a couple of years ago.

To give another example of ‘good opposition’: The Australian team which toured India in 2010 was a good opposition but the one which toured in 2013 was definitely not one.

The match India won in question is the Test against England in Ahmedabad  Umesh Yadav was very effective in that match and got Ian Bell and Samit Patel in successive deliveries to ensure England couldn’t built on a decent platform laid by their top order. Throughout the Test he was effective and got the ball to reverse as well. After that he missed out on the remaining tests in the series as well as on Australia’s tour to India owing to a back injury.

Prior to this series he had an OK series vs New Zealand at home, picking up 5 wickets in a series where 31 out of the 39 wickets to fall were taken by Ashwin & Ojha. He was one of the few positives on that disastrous tour of Australia, picking up a 5 for and taking 15 wickets at a strike rate of 50.5 while Ishant Sharma took 4 wickets at a Strike rate of 150.6.

All in all he played 9 Tests (5 of them on non responsive pitches in India) and took 32 wickets at a good average of 32.5 while touching 140 kmph regularly. You would think he could walk into the Indian team given the lack of genuinely quick bowlers India produce.

After recovering from his back injury, he was promptly called back into the Test Squad for Sachin’s Farewell Series in which he warmed the benches with Ishant Sharma. Picked for the South Africa tour, he again warmed  benches and saw Zaheer, Ishant and Shami play ahead of him in tests. Rinse repeat for New Zealand Tour where got a solitary chance in the warm up game, returned with figures of 18-4-70-1  and then warmed the benches for the tests - Zaheer, Ishant and Shami played both the games ahead of him.

The selectors kept picking him in the squad but MS Dhoni & Fletcher didn’t pick him in the playing XI. The selectors picked a pace heavy squad for the England tour, even dropping Zaheer Khan in a sign that they were looking towards the future and investing in younger bowlers. You would assume that they would pick Umesh Yadav in the squad for England as well. But they picked Varun Aaron ( has played 1 test till now. Gets injured often , whether he lasts 5 tests is a big question ), Pankaj Singh ( He deserved his chances 2-3 years ago when he was doing extremely well for Rajasthan, now it seems like a Token Pick to show that BCCI isn't against Rajasthan players even after Lalit Modi  is RCA President ), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishwar Pandey ( Hasn't made his Test Debut yet ), Mohd. Shami and Ishant Sharma ("Leader" of the attack ). That’s 6 specialist pace bowlers and no Umesh Yadav. Is Umesh Yadav not even in the top 6 pace bowlers in India ?

Joe Dawes has been Team India's bowling coach from February 2012, it seems as if he is on Auto-Pilot. You don't see innovative measures from India's fast bowlers. Its highly likely that his views were considered selectors before they decided to pick the 6 pace bowlers, which is very inexperienced ( Excluding Ishant, the other 5 have played 13 tests in total and only Mohd. Shami has played a test outside India ). Umesh Yadav has played in Australia and has played 9 tests as well.

I can see 2 reasons why Umesh Yadav wasn’t picked for the England tour.

  • Indian Team think tank ( MS Dhoni, Duncan Fletcher and Joe Dawes) have communicated to the selectors that they don’t see Umesh in their scheme of things.
                                                                              or
  • Selectors realized that in spite of picking Umesh Yadav time and again in the test squads he isn’t getting a game (3 test series and 6 tests) and hence decided to give Indian Team think tank newer options to chose from.

It is really disappointing to see Umesh Yadav missing out. He could have learned a lot on the long tour of England. Indian Team think tank , haven’t handled Umesh Yadav well at all. He is a rare Indian quick bowler, he surely deserved better treatment from the team management. It must be tough for Umesh Yadav to watch the team playing in England from his home. Hopefully that inspires him to do well in the domestic season ahead and he makes a comeback to the Test team for the Australia Tour later this year.

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Dhoni's Photo Finish

by Naked Cricket

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cartoon based on @ProudDilliwala's tweet

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If “cricket is a religion” what does that make N Srinivasan?

by Naked Cricket

After winning the Best Sports Blog at WIN14, BlogAdda.com interviewed me, they asked me amongst other stuff -

Q: In India, cricket is a religion. Share your thoughts about this with us.
A: “Religion divides us, cricket brings us together” was something I read and it’s always stayed with me. Now if you say “cricket is a religion” you must also answer what does that make N Srinivasan?

Q: Honestly, tell us how did you react when you realized Sachin is taking retirement from the game?
A: On  February 22nd, 2013, on air, I congratulated Bhajji on his 100th Test and Sachin on his 200th.  I expected Sachin to retire before the South Africa series, at Wankhede, vs. Bangladesh or West Indies or maybe even an Associate playing their first Test.

Still, when Sachin announced his retirement, which was still about a month before the 200th Test, I was numb. It’s like all of us know we’re going to die but suddenly finding out you’re terminally ill. Hollow feeling, like being cheated by life.

They also asked me to share my favourite cartoon, I asked them if I could share three instead? Here's one, again -

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The other two cartoons are here with the interview at BlogAdda 

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Football Umpires Cricket

by Naked Cricket

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Ganguly joins IPL Probe Panel

by Naked Cricket

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Piyush Chawla's Secret Revealed

by Naked Cricket

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h/t Aditya @forwardshortleg for photo play. 

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Studious about Sachin

by Naked Cricket

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