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The Border Gavaskar Trophy - T1 D1

by Homer

First things first - David Warner is finally living upto his billing of being the natural heir to Sehwag's legacy.

On the day after Sehwag tonked a double hundred in ODI cricket, 3 years ago, David Warner's boundary laced, emotional 145 set the foundation for what should have been a formidable Australian first innings total - that the day ended up with honors shared has plenty to do with India's bowling. And luck.

Plenty has been written about the bowling lengths - sure they could have been fuller, and straighter, but equally, the rewards might not have materialized. Australia could just as easily have ended the day at 250/2, and if the toss up is between 250/2 and 354/6, I know what I would go with.

Also, cognizance has to be taken of the fact that 3 of the four bowlers India played were playing their first test in Australia, on what is a belter of a wicket. If similar lines and lengths are persisted with on Day 2 of the Third test, then Houston, we have a problem. But on Day 1 of the first test, I would not sweat the short stuff.

And now, luck. Between David Warner's mistimed swipe off Karn Sharma, and Michael Clarke's back giving way, India should have played the lottery, thats how much luck they had.

Both are significant - another session of Warner, in form and riding on his 100, and the game, as a contest, was over, right there and then. And another session of Clarke, continuing on with from his 60, and onto three figures, and the Australian dressing room would have gotten the emotional and adrenaline boost that the past few weeks must have sapped out of them.

And Clarke's injury has a greater bearing on the test, and the series.

For tomorrow, India's best chance would be to take the remaining four wickets quickly, but I dont see how Australia can be restricted to below 400 - Harris, Johnson and Siddle can all bat, and a few aada-patta shots should see them cross 400 easily. What is important from an Indian POV is that number should not grow greater than that.

And while the pitch remains a belter, my Indian game plan would be to play for time, not runs. Here's why -

  • None of the Australian bowlers have bowled a ball in anger for over a month now - 
    • Harris last played in mid November, coming off of his knee surgery
    • Johnson hasnt bowlewd since his toe injury
    • Siddle is under pressure to justify his spot after the debacle in the desert
  • Keep them on the field for sufficiently long periods of time, and fatigue and fitness will become issues. And with back to back to back tests, it becomes critical.
  • Prolonged periods on the field will also test Clarke's fitness.. And a team without its captain is more vulnerable.
  • Finally, Brad Haddin. He hasnt played since he jarred his shoulder in the desert. Add to that the very real possibility that he will have to perform the dual role of keeper and captain for some portion of this test, and maybe this series. Add also to the mix that his lead bowlers are both coming off long injury layoffs. The longer India bats, the greater the pressure. And with a bum shoulder, on a hot day, a dropped catch by the captain, and who knows ....
And then there are the square boundaries, shorter than the straight boundaries at the Adelaide Oval. And the risk/reward with the hook/pull isnt as skewed as say, Perth of Melbourne.


Phil Hughes is yours and Phil Hughes is mine

by Naked Cricket

Your heart’s fallen out and your tears have all but made it to the ground
You can’t make no sense of any of this
This was not supposed to happen on a field of cricket
This was not supposed to happen to one of us
This was not supposed to
It’s just a game, fuck, it’s just a game
Why is the game fucking us so

My best mate’s a gonner
Fell face flat in front of my eyes
Where are the doctors
When will they bring him back to life?

Fuck, what have I done
It was only 135 kmph, son
Fuck, what have I done
You just bowled the ball, son
Fuck, what have I done
He just missed the ball, son
Fuck, what have I done?
It wasn’t a beamer, it didn’t slip from your hand, you bowled as you did, a hundred thousand times before
Fuck, what have I done?
Don’t crucify yourself, son
Help them help you pull the blame and the pain apart, they’re not one and the same, they’re not one and the shame

I know now he’s a country boy from a banana farm and if cricket didn’t happen he’d still be peeling away
I know his smile better than any cricket smile
It’s etched so deep and etched so young
It’s etched so deep makes you wanna weep
The way he talks with a nervous stutter
I wanna protect him when we go back Live
And the cricket plays out
The way it was s’posed to play out

And I hardly knew him
And I hardly saw him play
Yet in spite of those low scores and no scores against spin
How I loved the way he stretched all over the place
And sort of smothered the spin
And I’ve never said that before except in my mind

And there was this bugger called Dennis Freedman
Who went on and on for the last many months on twitter
How he should play for country
Just look at those scores
And he didn’t stop there
He went on and on
And I feel so sad for him.

But we all feel Dennis’ pain
And it’s not because we thought he should play for country
But because we saw cricket die before our eyes
Because we saw a bit of ourselves die

Put out your bats
Hang out your tears to dry
Hang your heart on the line
Phil Hughes is yours and Phil Hughes is mine.


Srini's early promise.

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Virat-Anushka Bedroom Problems

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Greg Chappell Strikes Back

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Poor Viv Richards

by Naked Cricket


No closure for India's openers.

by Naked Cricket

I sat in a seat reserved for women/elderly/handicapped, prepared to vacate on a sighting. Next to me were four guys, with Sharad holding court. He was regaling his mates with tales of an empty room on the 7th floor that had nothing but a TV and fridge in it. And then something about these crackpots who hurled the TV 7 floors down. 

There was also mention of this World Cup India won.

Guessing it wasn’t 1983, I butted in, “this was the 2011 World Cup?”

On 2nd April, 2011, at GN Hostel, Greater Noida, so overcome with madness were the residents of the 7th floor, they crashed the TV down. They tried with the fridge, but it was way too heavy. They also arranged Dhol wallahs. Around 2 am, the cops arrived. And then INA station where I had to get off.

Along with the crashed TV, Gautam Gambhir’s international career also started to gradually nosedive.

He scored his highest World Cup score that day, 97. But Dhoni was man of the match for his 91*.

Since then, from Oct 2011 – Jan 2013 in 33 innings, Gambhir made 2 100s, 9 50s (including 2 90s) ODI average 36.40 in this period (career avg. 39.68). His career strike rate 85.25. Away record: Average 41.55, strike rate 84.85

Gambhir made his ODI debut in 2003, and in close to 10 years he’s played just 147 one dayers. He’s made 11 100s, 34 50s.

(In 18 Tests after the 2011 World Cup, Gambhir averages 25.37 with 5 50s.)

To accommodate as and when SRT played the limited overs’ format, GG was often dropped, down the order or from the team. 

He was a more than able skipper, possibly the only realistic option to Dhoni. He led a dysfunctional franchise like KKR to two IPL trophies.

At his peak, he dared to question MS’ go slow approach in an ODI. All that’s part of joke lore now.

Had Gambhir not embarrassed himself in England, there still may have been an outside chance to make the Australia-bound squad. Should he have had more form-awareness and refused to tour England? Should Sehwag have done the same in 2011? Can players sight poor fitness and prep to duck tours?

Cut to Virender Sehwag, 251 ODIs in 14 years, average 35, strike rate 104.33, 15 100s, 38 50s. Away record: average 34.62, strike rate 103.27, 10 100s, 25 50s.

After the 2011 World Cup, Sehwag played 15 ODIs, averaged 34.2, striking at 108.45, 1 100, 1 50, In his last 12 innings, 219 onwards, he averages 38.91, SR 114.46.

(In 17 Tests since the World Cup, Sehwag averages 29.73, (career avg. 49.34) 1 100, 5 50s.) 

Gauti-Viru, when we was fab

They used to touch and run
Viru used to hum and run
Gauti used to not get run out

Cut to Rohit Sharma: 124 ODIs in 7 years, average 35.86, 4 100s and 23 50s. SR 78.25. Away record: average 29.98, SR 72.63. Rohit has opened in 39 innings, (36 since Jan 2013), averages 43.20, SR 77.80. Scored 141* and 209 opening. Rohit's average (209 onwards) in last 16 innings has been 42.6, SR 83.09.

After his first 2 centuries (in his first 2 Tests), Rohit averages 22.33 (career average 48.90) in the next 5 with 1 50.

In all three cases, Test form has hurt the players’ ODI selection; what, in Rohit’s case, he even injured himself. 

Cut to Shikhar Dhawan, who on his return to ODIs in little over a year (2013-14) has already played 40 matches, scored 5 100s, 8 50s, average 42.14, SR 88.56. Away record:  Average 40.53, SR 84.91, 3 100s. Has had Dhoni’s backing through a rough patch, will open in the World Cup unless he loses his moustache.

Cut to Ajinkya Rahane, who in 3 years (2011-2014) has played 36 ODIs, scored 1 100, 7 50s, average 27.27, SR 75.71. Away Record:  average 29.54, SR 78.60, 1 100. Since Rahane returned to open, in 10 innings he’s made 1 hundred, 3 50s and 2 40s – 8 of these innings have been overseas.

Rahane’s recent Test form in England and Rohit’s subsequent injury made the opening decision a no-brainer.

Cut to Robin Uthappa, 41 ODIs in 8 years, average 26.71, SR 91.34, 6 50s. Away record: average 21.78, SR 74.46, 3 50s. If Dhawan, Rahane and Rohit collectively mess up Down Under, who knows, then KKR could open for India in the World Cup. 

Excess baggage, how about cargo?

Just the other day, Gambhir turned 33, and Sehwag 36.

Uthappa and Dhawan are nearly 29, Rohit 27 and Rahane 26.

But even three years after the World Cup win, the opening puzzle is far from solved. Not such a big deal, as they were far from settled four years’ back.

From 24 Feb, 2010, (when SRT scored 200*) to 15 Jan 2011, He played  and opened thrice, Sehwag and Gambhir opened 19 and 9 times each, while Murali Vijay and Dinesh Karthik opened 11 and 12 times respectively.

Still three months to the first tri series match vs. Australia in Melbourne, four months to the first World Cup game against Pakistan in Adelaide.

And if either Murali Vijay or Che Pujara have an exceptional Test series in Australia, they could be pushed into the tri-series before the World Cup.

Stranger things have happened. Ask Rahul Dravid.


Let's talk about sex.

by Naked Cricket

I love talking about stuff nobody else will, especially on air. On this NDTV show, I started with bummer trips and commentary, go on to the Rohit Sharma vs Virat Kohli bias on air, a few years back - led by two Indian commentators, and the icing on the cake, CSK - and naturally, fixing follows.

You can listen to the whole thing here on NDTV

Also on board are Dean Jones, Venki Prasad, Kishore Bhimani, and best of all these incredible imitations of Tony Greig, Shastri, SRT, Bhogle, you name it. His name's Sabyasachi Tripathy, look out for it. 


Dhoni Rested.

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