Fourth Test: WI Vs India

Man, I’m relieved this boring series is coming to an end! In the midst of all the world cup soccer excitement, the current series in WI is such a bore!

The Indian team simply lacks the kind of professional approach that is need to win consistently. This effort is identical to India’s failed run chase against England. Once again, India blew it!. Having a talented team isn’t simply good enough. Unless the team can come together and work towards a common goal of winning, the talent is simply wasted.

  • Missing Dada? I must admit that purely from an attitude and approach point of view the team does miss the hey days of Ganguly. (please, I am not advocating his return!). It will nice to witness the passion and aggression that he brought to the team (without his actual presence in the team!)
  • Sunny Days? Rahul Dravid shows shades of Sunny Gavaskar’s captaincy style. “Make sure you don’t loose before attempting to win” seems to be his mantra in Tests. Way too much time and effort is spent in trying to ensure that India does not lose, that there simply isn’t enough time to win! Perhaps this has a lot to do with recent Test defeats against England and Pakistan. Unlike the current team, Gavaskar had relatively less talent to work with. So one could partly justify his approach to captaincy. In Dravid’s case, the team has plenty of talent (esp. in the batting Dept.).

For the second time in the recent past he has failed to inspire these talented blokes to swing a victory for India on the last day. The decision to send Dhoni in late was unimanginative and outright “gutless”. Dhoni should have walked in at the fall of the first or second wicket, followed by Yuvraj. If all these folks had failed Dravid and the rest could have easily parked their backsides on that dead wicket to draw the Test. If they couldn’t do that they deserve to lose. Oh well…

Third Test: WI vs. India

The third Test as it stands today is probably headed for a draw or a washout. But you never know, the Indians are fully capable of gifting the Windies a victory with two rounds of batting failures. Barring this, the next two days are likely to be boring as ever. VVS and Yuvraj have plenty to play for. VVS 28 from 97 balls is ample proof of the pressure he finds himself in.

After a poor show at the start Bhajji did well to wrap up the tail. Perhaps this ability of his might have proved useful in the first and second Tests? Kumble’s form is alarming. 40+ overs and not a single wicket to show for it (discounting umpire Brian Jerling’s dislike for lbw decisions)!

Unfortunately, for India when the batting strikes the bowling fails and vice-versa. India had the spin trio in the 70s but poor batting to backup (barring Vishy and Gavaskar), in the 80s it was Kapil Dev fighting a lone battle, the 90s saw the emergence of Sachin and later Dravid and Kumble, the 2000s unfortunately has been a see saw between batting and bowling failures. The most glaring deficiency appears to be a complete lack of consistent strike bowler. At present, if Kumble fails, India’s bowling is completely worthless. Though Munaf certainly appears to be a quality bowler.

SL has Murali, England has Flintoff, Aus has Warne and McGrath, NZ has Bond, Pak has Shoaib and Asif, all capable of running through the opposition with 5+ wickets. India on the other hand relies almost entirely on the aging and fast fading Kumble. Perhaps its time Chappell and co made a serious attempt to fix this. Wonder why Piyush Chawla was dumped after just one Test? Giving him an overseas tour while Kumble was still around might certainly have helped him and India’s fortunes if not now, at least in future.

Cities and Rudeness

Check out this article that raves about how kind the people of Chennai are. It also refers to a survey that found that Mumbai is the rudest city in the world.

Having spent many years in Chennai in the past I can quite believe the stories about how kind the people of Chennai are. In fact, I have heard similar stories from others about the city!

The biggest complaint about Chennai from non-Chennai-ites are firstly the unbearable heat in summer and secondly the language problems (if you ignore the perrenial water shortage). “If you can’t speak Tamil you are in trouble” seems to be the common complaint. Not sure how it is these days. My personal view is that Chennai is a lot more cosmopolitan than it was in the past. But can you get by easily in the city without knowing Tamil? Will the autorickshaw guy take you for a spin around the city (when the shortest route to your destination is just a couple of Kms away!) even if he understands that you are an outsider with no knowledge of Tamil?

Third Test: Five bowlers or not, please win or lose!

Four ya Five? There is widespread speculation that India might opt for five bowlers at the expense of a batsman. This means that based on current form, Yuvraj Singh or VVS will face the chopping block. The last time India was faced with a similar dilemma, VVS was the victim. India eventually went on to lose the Test. VVS is definitely the safer bet in my opinion. Even if India decides to stay with a four bowler combination I suspect the Indian team management might opt to play Bhajji in place of one of the seamers Irfan or VRV.

Result, please: On the eve of the third Test I just hope we are not faced with another draw no matter how exciting it turns out to be! The whole idea of a game played over five days yet not producing any result just doesn’t go with the times. On the one hand the ICC is trying its best to spread 20-20 masala cricket. Unfortunately, on the other hand there is no talk whatsoever about ensuring a result in Test matches.

Smart move by Sachin

Sachin Tendulkar has slowly started his return by playing some charity matches. I think its a great way for him to stay out of the limelight and pressure situations and slowly get back to cricket. India’s lack of consistency ensures his spot in the both forms of the game, at least for now. So his fitness from now through the World Cup season next year is crucial for him and India.

WI vs India: Second Test

Another Test. Similar result. India struggled once again to beat the WI resulting in a frustrating draw. Clearly, the current Indian bowling combination is incapable of bowling the opposition out twice in a Test match.

Pathan badly needs a longer rest. He has lost pace and appears to be struggling. VRV lacks penetration and appears to be too green to be at the Test level. Thankfully, Munaf had a good Test. That leaves only Kumble. Though one can argue that the burden is way too much on Kumble, one can’t help get the feeling that he appears to have lost his edge. He no longer seems to have the ability to run through a side. Viru certainly stepped up to the plate and put up a fine show. But it just proves how weak the Indian bowling side is. Dropping a batsman might be a luxury India can ill-afford at this stage. I suspect the the team management might bring in Powar/Bhajji for Pathan and Sreesanth for VRV in Test 3.

Another seamer or an all rounder in place of D. Karthick in the 15 might have certainly given the team management more options. Given the way the seamers have performed in this series it makes sense to play three spinners. But unfortunately India does not have a true all rounder in its ranks to accommodate this strategy. A daring gamble might be to drop a batsman (Yuvraj or Laxman) and play Pathan as an all rounder and play three spinners. The team management is certainly capable of taking this drastic step under more favorable circumstances. Having lost the last Test to England because of a batting failure (and the same in Pak), I suspect it would take some serious “guts” on the part of the Team management. In any case, India certainly holds the psychological advantage at this stage of the series for whatever it is worth, no matter what Lara says!