India vs WI: Lara Rules

The third ODI was another experiment from both teams. WI and India tried their various team combinations and at the end WI came out on top thanks to a fine show by Lara. This victory underscored the value of Lara’s mere presence to the WI team. Samuels who hasn’t been in the best of form, scored a brilliant innings in the company of his captain. Lara was at his very best. He literally toyed with the Indian bowling. He mastery over spin was commendable. The late cuts, the placements and the big hits were all at display. Lara never looked in trouble and India never looked like pulling off a win except at the very end by which time it was too late.

India’s lack of bowling resources made matters worse. Harbhajan’s absence was strongly felt. Even if he didn’t take wickets his ability to curtail the runs has been a great asset to the team. After the initial mayhem, neither Kumble nor Powar were able to restrict the flow of runs. And with Tendulkar as the fifth bowler India never really resources to put up a fighting bowling performance. It is becoming increasingly clear that Sreesanth is too much of a “loose canon” to be used in ODIs. He is best saved for Test matches and simply lacks the experience to be successful in the shorter version of the game. This match was virtually lost in his first over. Agarkar on the other hand seems to be the best bet to spear head India’s bowling attack. He generates a fair amount of pace even with short seemingly less menacing run up. Most importantly, he appears to use his head while bowling unlike most of his fellow seamers.

Apart from Lara’s brilliance and Samuels fine knock, the other highlight of this match was the batting of Robin Uthappa. Once again, Uthappa showed signs that he has what it takes to open India’s innings at the higest level. The dashing start that was Viru’s trademark is no longer his alone. Uthappa showed that he is capable of similar razzle-dazzle. His performance here is hard to ignore. The fact that he is a right hander and with Ganguly having virtually sealed the other opening spot, Uthappa certainly has the edge over Gambhir for the World Cup team. To make matters worse, Gambhir blew another chance to impress.

With the series in 2-1 state, the final ODI should now be of special interest. Both teams are likely to field their best combinations. With Tendulkar struggling in the middle order, it might be time to return to the famed GangulyTendulkar opening combination. Pathan is virtually certain to return for this match, while Dhoni, Zaheer and Ganguly all likely to return to the playing 11. Given the importance of this final game to winning the series, India would be inclined to bring back Harbhajan as well. This means that most likely Powar will be forced to sit this one out? Perhaps Raina will given another chance while Dhoni sits out another match? The team management is going to have a hard time deciding on the final combination.

Top 10 things You Won’t Hear in Tonite’s State of the Union Address

10. Darn it, what’s with the weather, its f…. cold these days!
09. Hey, what’s the lady doin’ behind me?
08. You might not like my Iraq policy, but don’t tell me you like Hillary!
07. I hereby announce that Jeb has just formed a Presidential exploratory committee.
06. Jenna wants a book contract, Anybody?
05. Born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and a Caucasian woman from Kansas, a man who has dedicated his life for American working families, please join me in recognizing, on my far left, America’s first black President, Barack Obama.
04. I have a new Iraq policy. It is called, “No troops left behind”. I am sending all our troops to Iraq.
03. Sorry folks, you are not the first ones to hear my speech. A short while back, one of my body guards uploaded a camera phone recording of my speech on Youtube.
02. My fellow Americans, I screwed up in Iraq. Big time. Yes, BIG BIG time.
01. Goodnight & Good Luck, God bless my Iraq policy.

Sun-Intel Deal

Sun could use “any” good press. So it is not surprising that they went ahead with this announcement. (Remember the joint announcement with Google about a year back. Nothing has come out of it. Has it?)

The loser from this Intel-Sun partnership is obviously AMD. Intel has a chance to poke their chief rival in the eye with this announcement. The actual volume of Intel processor sales to Sun is not going to be huge anytime soon but if and when it picks up it is likely to be at the expense of AMD.

Wonder where this leaves Sun’s Sparc? Eventually Sun will probably have to phase out their home grown processor or at least reduce their investment in it in the short run. The end-users as a whole benefit as hardware and software vendors compete to work with each other.

India vs WI: Team India back, But Not Quite

After a long drought of victories, India managed to pull off a win in a high scoring ODI at Nagpur. While the team deserves credit for the win, the margin of victory should be a reminder that team India is still far from overcoming its seemingly endless troubles.

Without Viru, the opening partnership almost automatically improved. Ganguly returned with a welcome bang. Dada’s hunger was back and the desire to excel was most visible. Gambhir was his usual aggressive self. Sachin continues his poor run of form. In fact, India lost momentum when he was at the crease. So much for the strategy to use his services for the middle overs! In hindsight, India could have sent in Dhoni at number 3 considering the situation. Thankfully India did a fine job of the finish with Dravid at his best and Dhoni finally making a solid contribution. The very fact that Dravid decided to come in for the home stretch as opposed to relying on Dinesh Karthick is a clear indication of the captain’s confidence in his own abilities to accelerate at the death. His big hitting was a revelation and matched Dhoni purely from a run rate perspective.

The bowling clearly benefited from the huge target. Tendulkar did well to fill in the fifth bowler slot. Bhajji brought in the much needed wickets while Zaheer Khan more than justified his return. Sreesanth is very much a Test cricket bowler and his tendency to be expensive (as he was in the WI) might justify trying alternatives like RP Singh, Joginder or VRV.

Chanderpaul deserves credit for his superb knock. He almost single-handedly took WI to victory. It appears that he’ll continue to make big scores against India because he hardly appeared to be in trouble against the Indian attack. In hindsight Lara made at least a couple of errors of judgment. Sending in the opposition on a batting beauty proved to be a mistake and coming in to bat so late in the batting order was adding insult to injury. Perhaps Lara was deliberately using this opportunity to give the younger WI batsmen a chance to prove themselves?

iPhone: Why the fuss?

The buzz about the iPhone is certainly understandable. It has Jobs at his best behind it. There is no denying that Jobs is the ultimate marketing guru of our times.

But that alone does not justify the fuss. The iPhone is sleek and has plenty of cool. But a really high price point, a real product 6 months away, plus a commitment to Cingular — these are BIG drawbacks among others. The next several months will show how far Apple can translate this buzz into real $. Check out Steve Ballmer’s reaction/response to the iPhone.

On another note, Apple’s increasing consumer bent (no longer Apple Computer but just Apple) more than justifies an eventual synergy (or coming together) with Sony. Pixar to Disney and Apple to Sony?

eBay, Skype and Big Bucks

eBay has started to charge Skype users fro the new year. Not in the least surprising. An exodus of early Skype employees continues. What was eBay thinking when they paid billions for Skype?

Build something cool, give it for free, burn cash until the white knight steps forward with a huge check and the investors (and sometimes the founders too) laugh all the way to the bank. One could argue that this kind of madness does drive innovation while making a handful of founders and investors obscenely rich. Not a bad deal if you are not an eBay shareholder or ….

Btw, when is Google gonna start charging for Youtube? 🙂

Arnie Shines

Arnie’s state of the state speech last night was pretty impressive. It was crisp and well-delivered. One can’t help but wonder what Arnie is doing in the Republican party. I guess his idea of bi-partisanship is to be a Republican on paper but be a Democrat otherwise!