Third SL-INDIA ODI: Dhoni Strikes

Boy, what an explosive knock! It is terrific to see India send Dhoni at number 3 when most needed. After keeping for 50 overs and then returning to slam 183 not out, Dhoni played virtually for the entire day. This speaks highly of Dhoni’s stamina (he has the energy to whack 10 sixes!) apart from his impressive abilities as a batsman. Dinesh Karthick should be really worried about his Test slot. He hasn’t done much in the domestic matches either.

With a hat-trick of victories, Rahul Dravid’s team India seems to be on a roll. Two of SL’s four key players seem to have really regained their form with this ODI. But with a decent total in this ODI, SL might be on its way to finding its form.

Dropping Sreesanth makes no sense

The Indian team under Dravid-Chappell appears to have decided on an experimentation strategy. ie., try out the talent at hand and eventually pick the best for the world cup. In theory, this is most welcome and admirable. But how do you explain the continued mysterious use of Agarkar in the team while Sreesanth a hot recent talent is relegated to the bench after one match? We all know what Agarkar is capable off. The Indian batting is currently at its best. So India doesn’t really depend on Agarkar’s batting skills. Then why bother with him?

Experiment with Sreesanth instead. Dropping him after 5 overs in the first ODI makes no sense whatsoever. I guess we have another product of the infamous quota system (e.g., Tinu Yohanan) in the making?

Ganguly dumped for now

It was good to see that the selectors retained the same team for the next three ODIs. There was really no need to bring Ganguly back in a hurry. The decision to not recall Ganguly does however imply that Greg Chappell has a strong hold over the team, the selection and the overall process. So chances of Ganguly returning in the near term for ODIs is looking pretty bleak at this point.

Kiran More (selection committee chairman) said, “We have enough options at the moment and are looking to have a pool of 22 players from whom we can pick the final World Cup squad.” (Chappell had said earlier that he had identified about 18 players to represent India, I can’t recall the exact interview). Notice that Chappell issued a statement prior to the first ODI that Sreesanth would open the bowling and he sure did. This is quite in contrast to his earlier statements that the “captain is the boss” once the match starts. Its just a sign of Chappell’s growing influence and control.

There is a clear sign of change. So far its working well (thanks to the return of Sachin of course) and hopefully it will continue.

p.s: Coach Greg Chappell, captain Rahul Dravid and physio John Gloster attended the selection meeting.

Second ODI: India thrash SL

The India team seems to be on a roll. Sachin is back with a vengence. His stroke play is simply superb. The paddle shot to Vaas is simply out of this world. He played this delightful shot in both matches so far. He certainly seems to have a plan (similar to the one against Warne when he came to India in 2002) to attack Muralitharan from the start. It should be an interesting tussle in the matches ahead. Hope he can continue his good form.

For once, JP Yadav got his full quota of overs. If he can firm up the all rounder spot, one of India’s main issues with the team composition will be solved. I thought it was crazy to drop Sreesanth after one match especially on a pitch like Mohali.

The Middle East just got messier

Iraq has been in a perennial crisis ever since the US set foot there a few years back. The US Govt insists on staying the course (where have I heard this before?) With the UN report on the Hariri killing, Syria is on the verge of sanctions (another crisis).

And now Iran’s Ahmadinejad just confirmed that Iran could go to any lengths. I think he is completely crazy to make an open statement about Israel like he did. This is bound to accelerate tensions. Ahmadinejad and our Neocons in Washington are bound to make this concoction of crises into a global nightmare.

Harriet Miers withdrawal of candidacy

Well, well….finally a wicket falls for the Bush team. Its time for Bush to call in his super-sub. 🙂

He has two options: make peace with his Democratic opposition and pick a moderate candidate (and piss off his conservative base) or pacify his base by picking a right wing activist as the next nominee (and piss of the opposition). Either path is wrought with its own perils.

Meanwhile, the umpire’s decision is due on Rove and Libby. Finally, the boring speeches about spreading freedom will come to a stop at least temporarily as Bush and co. are forced on to the backfoot.

Richard Clarke is back with a new novel!

Remember Richard Clarke, the guy from the National Security Council who came out with a book that accused the Bush administration of negligence that resulted in 9-11? He is now into fiction writing! Check out his new book.

Sounds like he is putting his retirement to good use. It was not very long back (last year?) that his previous book was released and generated a lot of press (given its controversial nature). A second book in such a short time is quite an accomplishment (or he has a team of full time ghost writers!) .

First ODI: Ind vs SL

Apart from the fact that India won in style, here are a few aspects of the Indian approach that were interesting, impressive and bode well for the future.

1. Pathan at number 3: Its a move that worked. I just hope they don’t send him in at number 3 in every match. Remember India did the same with Agarkar a while back?

2. Yuvraj coming in ahead of Dravid: This was a very good sign of Dravid’s flexibility (or Chappell’s control).

3. Sreesanth’s return at the end: He wrapped up the tail and ended up with two wickets on debut. Great move to encourage the youngster. Hope he doesn’t become another Tinu Yohanan.

4. Dhoni as the finisher: This guy is the perfect fit for the last 10-15 overs. He has the ability to provide the momentum at the end. I am glad they have not made him a permanent number 3 after his performance against the Pak.

5. Last but not the least, Sachin is back in full form!

Overall, its great to see India experimenting with the talent at hand. I hope Venu and JP Yadav are given some good exposure to prove themselves as well.

I suspect that if Viru fails to get a big innings soon, he will be tried in the middle order.