Tag Archives: India

England save the World Cup

At least, it seems like they’re doing this on their own.  No match involving Group Captain Strauss and co. has ended up being a damp squib, not even the matches with the cricketing minnows.

So what if that’s meant they managed to lose to Ireland when defending 300+, limited over cricket’s meant to be about these nerve-jangling affairs, not teams fielding seven batsmen and batting away the contest before the other team begins their chase.


South Africa – India: table topping clash of titans

With all the Ashes fever making everyone a bit giddy, it’s quite easy to forget that South Africa are hosting a series against India at the same time.  None of those daft Gladiator style adverts for this series, which can only be a good thing.  It’s a meeting of the #1 and #2 ranked Test nations, so it should hopefully provide us with an interesting contest, as opposed to the Ashes where one side is doing a fair bit of soul searching while the other is coming to terms with actually being quite alright.

South Africa can’t overtake India if they win the series, so they’ll simply have to go about showing why they should be top of the rankings.  India meanwhile, will have to use this series to prove what the #1 side in Test cricket should be able to do, win abroad consistently.

Or is it just a bit unfair to expect that, given how good former #1 team Australia used to be?

T’Ashes Heroes #7 – K.S. Ranjitsinhji

Since it was to be some thirty years before India would play their first Test match, this Indian prince qualified to play for England following impressive showings which earned him a Blue at Cambridge and in county cricket at Sussex.

Described by Neville Cardus as “the Midsummer night’s dream of cricket”, Ranji is widely regarded as the batsman who introduced a revolutionary style of batting to the game.

Playing back to deliveries, he combined good hand-eye co-ordination with an unorthodox technique, leading to him being credited with the invention of the late cut and glancing the ball off of one’s pads.

He’s regarded as one of the best batsmen of all time, which is quite remarkable given that he had never played in an organised match before he’d travelled to England, and he’s honoured in India by their domestic first-class competition being named the Ranji Trophy after him.  Also, he’s probably the only one who could actually be described as ‘princely’ (take that Ganguly).

T’Ashes Hero Moment

Scoring a 154 not out on debut against the Aussies at Old Trafford in 1896, followed by 175 against them in his first overseas Test a year later.

A few words of gratitude from Mental Disintegration

I would like to thank the other Test cricketing nation’s boards for managing to have three other Test series arranged to take place just before the 2010-11 Ashes series started.

With matches like India – New Zealand, Sri Lanka – West Indies and Pakistan – South Africa all going on during the early hours, I was able to formulate a mock conditioning program for Ashes viewing.  By sitting through infuriatingly painful moments such as Harbhajan Singh’s centuries, it’s going to take something extraordinary to send me to sleep now.

Nice going, lads.

India remember that they’re ranked #1 in Tests

Having remembered this, they decided to start playing like it.

New Zealand meanwhile, having briefly discarded the form book, must have accidentally stumbled upon it again, as they batted on the first day like the dicks (in Mark Greatbatch’s words) that got battered by Bangladesh in an ODI series before they came to India.  The bulk of their paltry total of 193 came from two cripples in Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder, before Tim Southee’s lusty blows off a Harbhajan Singh over in the first session of the second day.

Remarkably, India managed this without talismanic seamer Zaheer Khan, who has sat out this Test with a groin injury.  Ishant Sharma came in for Zaheer, and looked significantly better than in recent efforts for his figures of 4/43.

In reply, by the time I’d blinked once, Virender Sehwag had battered his way through and over the New Zealand fielders to chomp away at their minute lead, before yet again getting out to Daniel Vettori, chipping the ball back to the Kiwi skipper when a century looked to be calling.  His opening partner Gautam Gambhir played with growing fluency, before chasing a Southee delivery outside off-stump and out caught behind.

This brought Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar together in the middle.  Between the two of them, they have over 25,000 runs in Test cricket, just the men for the job when you want your team batting into a dominant position.  Telling these two that they have plenty of time to score runs is like showing a red rag to a bull, only much more sedate, as they compiled their 17th century stand (the most between any batsmen).

With Tendulkar looking set, Vettori and co. might just need a minor miracle to deny Tendulkar his 50th Test century on the third day, let alone avoid falling at the last hurdle in a series where they’d worked so hard to silence doubters.

Harbhajan Singh, Test batsman?

For a fielding side, there’s nothing quite as demoralising as a tailender carting your weary bowling attack around the ground after more than enough toiling in the field as the opposition’s top order flattened whatever hopes you had of taking something from the innings.

Well actually, there is, as New Zealand discovered.

Daniel Vettori must be getting tired of Harbhajan in this series.  On two occasions now, he has managed to almost single handedly undo all the work put in by the Kiwi bowlers and shift momentum India’s way.  In Motera, India were left reeling after Chris Martin’s brilliant spell had them on the ropes at 65/6, only for the spinner to put on a stand of 163 with V.V.S. Laxman, leading to his maiden ton (having scored 69 in the first innings) and India’s safety.

In Hyderabad, New Zealand’s fielding unit had put in a dogged performance to restrict India’s top order batsmen.  When Pragyan Ojha was dismissed, India were 367/9, leading by 17 runs.  By the time the final wicket fell, Harbhajan was unbeaten on 111, and India had 472 on the scoreboard, a lead of 122.  Once again, his batting had taken the momentum from New Zealand’s bowlers like he’d pulled the rug from underneath them.

Yes, there have been occasions when tailenders have scored centuries, but scoring two in back to back matches?  It boggles the mind.  Harbhajan Singh’s gone from being a jobbing offbreak bowler to one of the most in-form batsmen in Test cricket.  To think that the build up to the Hyderabad Test had been all about Tendulkar’s 50th century, that didn’t even happen!

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