Team India: Pressing the Panic Button?

Dada: Another Chance to Sign-off?

Its official. Dada is back. Its a joke to say there wasn’t any political pressure. Given Dada’s track record in recent years its unlikely that he will be able to pull of some good scores and if he does he fully deserves to be back. Else its best if he treats this as another opportunity to sign-off in style.

VVS: Talk About Changing Fortunes!

The other change in the team is the return of VVS Laxman. What a dramatic change of fortunes! He has been in and out of the team, even dropped from the Test 11 in favor of Yuvraj Singh, and virtually written off from the ODI team and now the man is a heart beat way from the captaincy! Given that Dravid might not be fit for the first Test, he could now be captaining the side! Wonder what his astrologers had predicted! This was not a bad move considering Viru’s dismal show in recent years(!). If the selectors were looking for a short term change it might have been a safe bet to appoint Kumble the Vice-Captain instead. The guy is still doing well, is close to the end of his career, has nothing really to prove as a player and is a sure member of Test 11. But now VVS now has a golden chance to cement his place for good and possibly gain the Test captaincy at some point!

Youth vs. Experience

There is no question that India’s batting has failed consistently in the recent past. But the “preference for youth over experience” direction that Chappell had set for India was the right one for the ODIs. Relying on the experienced players for the Tess is a welcome strategy. Nevertheless Dada’s place in the playing 11 is bound to bring back a host of new discussions! (hopefully not on the boundary line a la Pak tour)

Its best to treat ODI team selection with a different mindset. If experience works for Australia it does not mean that it will work for India. An experienced Aussie batsman or bowler automatically comes with a certain standard of fielding ability which is not true for Indian players. All of India’s experienced players are not the best fielders. Kumble, Ganguly, VVS, Dravid are all experienced but far from good fielders. In a team of 11, four such players plus an out of shape Viru, an ageing Sachin and a 124-year old Munaf leaves just 4 slots to make up for the fielding. ODIs are as much about fielding as they are about batting and bowling. It will serve India best to focus on tweaking the current Chappell strategy by fundamentally relying on youth but reinforcing the batting with some class. For starters, this could mean dumping Viru (whose slump in form has been at the forefront of the teams failures), bringing in VVS and Yuvraj and perhaps pushing Dhoni to open. The rest can stay as is for the ODIs. Trying to change the ODI team composition drastically will be huge mistake.

Movie Review: KANK

Movie: Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna
Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Rani, Abhishek, Amitabh and Preity.

My top 10 complaints about this film:

01. Shah Rukh Khan is back to his overacting self. Too bad Yash Chopra wasn’t in charge to keep him under control like he did in Veer Zaara.

09. The story could very well have been set in India. The NY setting was a blatant attempt to target the NRI market. It had no relevance to the story whatsoever.

08. It sounds like the Director took the title too seriously and never wanted to end the movie. 🙂

07. Abhishek and Preeti Zinta were running into each other everyday in NY and suddenly they lost contact and never bumped into each other until three years later.

06. The songs were so formula-like –very much like earlier Karan Johar movies. Makes me wonder if they have automated the music composition process!

05. Amitabh’s character was so unreal and not not to mention so “un-desi”. What were the movie makers thinking?

04. The Director appears to have forgotten that the movie is set in NY. Amitabh gives a speech in Hindi to a predominantly white audience!

03. At least the the small kid (growing up in NY) could have had an American accent.

02. What was Abhishek’s job? He has a fancy house in NY, bums around in the coolest cars and is always at fancy parties!

01. Way to many holes in the story/script starting with the chance meeting of two strangers who right away delve into deeply personal issues.

This movie seems to have produced extreme reactions. Many seem to have loved it, while others hated it. One friend went to the extent of saying, “Its not even worth watching on DVD let alone going to the theater”

The DVD rental approach was what actually worked for us. We saw the movie in parts spread over three days! There was no time to get bored since you watch it in focused parts (!!), you also overcome the length problem, and to some extent overlook the flaws in the script. The theme of the movie as such has merit, but the rest is where it falls apart. If you like the typical Karan Johar gloss (pretty faces, great locales, hip dresses etc.) you won’t be disappointed, else it can be a drag.

Pawar Meets Selectors!

There is nothing more blatant than the BCCI chief, a sitting MP and Minister meeting the selectors on the eve of the team selection. There is plenty of reaction and discussion in the parliament. The CPI(M) party whose support is critical to the ruling Congress party has obviously made a case for their “Prince” Saurav Ganguly. In anticipation of his selection, he has already relinquished his W.Bengal captaincy!

There is no question that the team performance stinks. But this does not mean that all and sundry tamper with the selection process. Maybe its time the selection committee is scrapped and a parliamentary committee (of sitting MPs) is setup instead to select the national team?

Dalmiya Steps Up, Pawar on the Backfoot!

The India cricket “circus” is in full cry. On the field the team is being routed without mercy by the South Africans. Off the field, the politicians back in India have stepped firmly into the ring to join the discussion. The most recent entrant being Jaggu (Dalmiya) himself. Sensing that his nemesis Sharad Pawar was on the backfoot (given India’s performance, the recent ruckus in Parliament both prior and after Chappell’s comments etc.), Dalmiya has demanded the return of Ganguly. Its interesting to note that Dada himself had fallen out with Dalmiya earlier and had openly campaigned for Dalmiya’s openent in the CAB elections.

The bad news for Team India of course is that its mainstay Dravid is ruled out of the next two ODIs and the out of form Viru has been asked to lead. VVS , meanwhile, gets a last chance to stake his for a World Cup slot.

Cricket: India Struggle Against SA

Its an understatement to say that India is struggling. The first ODI was a complete disaster. The second ODI was a shade better but a disaster nevertheless. After having reduced SA to 6 down for under 80 runs, SA recovered to 274. Despite this failure to restrict SA to a low score India’s bigger issue at present appears to be its batting. Barring Dravid and a struggling Tendulkar and to some extent Dhoni the rest of the batting appears to be in shambles. Sreesanth’s absence from the 11 is debatable. Otherwise, the team for the second ODI was perhaps the best possible from the 14 on the tour.

Viru’s woeful performance continues. If he fails this series the selectors will do well to send him packing for good. He has been around for too long and done too little to justify his presence in the team.There has been a lot of criticism from the likes of Shastri for not opening the innings with Viru on a permanent basis. But, the dire state of affairs calls for some desperate measures. Viru’s continued failure might leave the captain with no alternative but to shunt him down the order. An out of form Viru in the middle order is still a safer option than Raina or Mongia!

A strategy of saving Viru for the last 15-20 overs might not be a bad experiment. In other words, Viru and Dhoni could swap places in the batting order. i.e., Sachin, Dhoni, Dravid, Kaif, Viru, Karthik, Pathan, Bhajji, Kumble, Zaheer, Sreesanth. Bhajji appears to be struggling and considering India’s continued batting failure it might be worthwhile bringing in Mongia in place of Bhajji. Between Sachin, Viru and Mongia, India should be able to cover for Bhajji’s absence.