Invincible Aussies vs the Unpredictable Windies

India fizzled out once again despite a very achievable target of 213. The Indian batting has struggled throughout this tournament. Viru is woefully out of form (bowled in three successive innings is a sign of serious loss of form) and needs a rest. It was very heartening to see that Dravid dropped down the order after the series of failures in the opening slot. (One can easily speculate that in same situation Ganguly would have continued to open the innings :-). Also, dropping Yuvraj was a fine move. He is another player badly in need of a rest. It was great to see Mongia seize the opportunity. It just goes to show that there is plenty of talent outside of the current bunch provided the selectors are willing to give others a chance.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the lower order batsman practicing their batting. Given this it is shameful that Bhajji, Agarkar, Munaf and RP combined could barely make 5 runs! This an area the Aussies always excel. After having lost the top half, the rest fought back to take the score to 213. Haddin is slowly being groomed to take over from Gilchrist. Clarke and Watson had to sit out this match. This just shows that the Aussie bench strength is simply unparalleled. On paper (and most often on the field), the Aussies are far ahead of all other teams. India for sure does not have what it take to beat the Aussies. At best, India can pull off an odd ODI victory or two.

The only thing that can stop the Aussies is some superlative on the field performance. At the present moment I think the only team that is likely to come up with of such a superlative on the field performance are the “hit and miss” WI. They are capable of such extremes that most teams are incapable off. The final tonight will be another test of the WI unpredictability as much as it is a test of the Aussie invincibility.

Cricket: Challenge for Team India

This is a great opportunity for the Indian cricket team to gain a huge psychological advantage before the start of the Champions trophy. The Indian batting has yet to fire. It might make sense to play five bowlers and perhaps bring in Mongia in place of the struggling Yuvraj and maybe Kaif in place of Raina. After a decent tour of WI, Kaif suddenly finds himself out of the playing 11! The other possible change might be to drop RP Singh and bring in Powar. Given that Bhajji has been able to get some assistance from the pitch this might not be a bad bet.

Thailand: What after the Coup?

Now that there is a coup in Thailand what happens to Thaksin? Does he return or hang out here in the US or go to some other country. I would think that his assets back home are already frozen and he’d probably be arrested if he returned.

It is interesting that the guy is actually quite popular especially among the poor in Thailand. From press reports, it appears as though the “elite” in Thailand, the king and the army got together to boot him out. Return to democracy of any kind in the short term does not seem likely. Wonder where Thailand goes from here. Hopefully not another mess in the making. On second thoughts…they don’t have freedom or democracy, do they have oil in Thailand, btw? 🙂

Cricket: India’s “Seaming Pains”

Pathan is clearly struggling. His pace is dropping by the minute! He bowls at 120s these days! At this pace, Indiajust can’t open the bowling with him anymore. To make matters worse at second change he was belted all around the park! He managed just two overs in the previous match and 4 in the most recent. I suspect he will be dropped for the next match against WI despite his good knock in the first ODI. Without 10 decent overs from Pathan in the Champions trophy, India’s bowling reserves are going to be stressed. Viru, Sachin and Yuvra will have to be regular bowlers and not just backups. Might certainly prove to be better than relying on Pathan based on his current form.

Sreesanth must be having nightmares thinking of his World Cup chances, as this series progresses. He has been dumped for the Champions trophy and is unsure of a place in the team for the next two games! Is he another Tinu Yohanan in the making?

Cowboy vs. Combat boots!

Caught a bit of the Senate race debate on NBC last night. Republican Senator George Allen (wears Cowbow boots!) came across as a very seasoned politician (despite his macaca slip) unlike his opponent, James Webb (wears Combat boots!) who seems to be banking primarily on his anti-war stance. The Senator on the other hand seems to swear by anything the Bush administration does. (Wonder how he would react when Jeb Bush announces his Presidential bid!). It is surprising that the polls show that the race is competitive despite the campaign styles, the cash reserves of the incumbent etc. Sounds like opposition to the war in Iraq is finally worth a few extra votes!