Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Zaheer & Sehwag Deliver



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If one makes enough predictions, he is likely to be right. I think I met that threshold. Ashwin and Yadav were key to India finishing Australia quickly. Both bowled much better than their test ages. Ashwin, especially, has been a wise bowler who is an ideal replacement for Kumble. He may or may not end up with as many wickets, but he certainly brings that cerebral element to the game.

Umesh Yadav is all heart. It was nice to see him let it rip. He did get pasted on a few occasions, but it was a blast watching him go. India's bowling has come to this game well prepared. For this, we must compliment Duncan Fletcher. Ishant has been bowling extremely well, although he's been somewhat unlucky not to get wickets.


The story of India's bowling though is Zaheer Khan. He has returned from injury and how! His bowling keeps batsmen guessing and he has now got an Akram-esque feature to this bowling. He can produce unplayable ones from nowhere. He doesn't have Akram's pace or raw class, but he's definitely a very dangerous player. Great news for India, if he continues to bowl the way he is and stays healthy.


From a batting stand-point, it was important for Sehwag to show up and he did in more ways than one. He got into it with Pattinson. Although, the latter had the last laugh by bowling him, Sehwag got a measure of the Australian attack. He played with purpose and took the attack to the Aussies as he normally would. He didn't let the early loss of Gambhir affect him. The Australians now must fear him more than any other Indian batsman barring Laxman.

Dravid and Tendulkar played with the predictability and assurance that test cricket demands. Both were cultured knocks worthy of their stature and ability. Tendulkar was a tad unlucky to be out in the last over, but he is now a notch lower than his immortal form and self of before. He probably has to try a little bit harder for the game to come to him than he used to. That doesn't diminish him at all.

India need to eye a big first innings lead and continue to bowl with purpose. My guess is that Ashwin will play a big hand in India's second innings. Prior to that though, Kohli should take his chance to cement his place in the side.

Pattinson is bowling extremely well and he's certainly a huge find for Australia. But the rest of the bowling has been just about test class. This includes Hilfenhaus, who was extremely good with the new ball. Pattinson's got the potential to be as good as Steyn in my view. He's aggressive, has raw pace and a potent out-swinger. Maybe he needs to develop the one has comes in to be up there, but he looks ready and able.

India have the upper hand and barring an extraordinary turnaround in the bowling ability of Australians, they should string together enough to earn a 100 run lead.

10 comments:

Vivek said...

Great, Sachin is the highest scorer so far for this innings and he was looking in great touch, while he was there and was the most fluent as well(even better than Sehwag at one point), but if he doesn't make hundred he's no good..I don't know why you have issues with Sachin.. It is looking as if whatever he does, you can't be satisfied..

I agree Sehwag, Dravid also played well.. though Dravid has been a bit streaky this time, but I really wonder why this blog is so intent on criticizing only Sachin..

What about Gambhir, nobody seems to bother about HIS recent form(or lack thereof)?

Vidooshak said...

Vivek -

What part of this is critical of Sachin - "Dravid and Tendulkar played with the predictability and assurance that test cricket demands. Both were cultured knocks worthy of their stature and ability. Tendulkar was a tad unlucky to be out in the last over, but he is now a notch lower than his immortal form and self of before. He probably has to try a little bit harder for the game to come to him than he used to. That doesn't diminish him at all."

If you point that out, then next time, I'll blog per your opinion and not ours.

Golandaaz said...

Vivek,

This series and Indian cricket in general is not about Sachin. Let him do his thing and let him retire. The sooner the better.

This must be the greatest Test batting lineup to consistently score middling 200+ scores for an entire year and all people are bothered about is Sachin. Sachin Tendulkar is yesterday's news. Give him the Bharat Ratna and let go of him.

We can easily score 200+ scores without him if that is the benchmark he and VVS and Dravid has set for the next generation.

Whether it is England, or WI or a mediocre Australia, the consistency with which our middle order musters up 200 odd scores is mind boggling and yet there is support for these 3 across the board.

Their time is up. Any more Tests we give these guys is robbing the youngsters precious time to mature.

Sachin Tendulkar in my books is the geatest batsman ever to play cricket. Irrespective of whether he scores runs or not, the time for him to go is now for the good of India. There are at least half a dozen replacements who can average 35 odd that he has averaged in 2011. Everyone knows that if he plays on for 2-3 years more that average will improve but I would rather invest that time in Sharma Pujara, etc

Vivek said...

To Vidooshak:

The critical part about Sachin:" but he is now a notch lower than his immortal form and self of before. He probably has to try a little bit harder for the game to come to him than he used to."

Well, he never looked like "having to trying hard" to me. He was easily and freely playing most of his best shots. It is not about printing my opinion on your blog, but it is about justifying what you are opining about on a public blog. And it seems you just want Sachin to retire no matter what.

Just check the scorecard, how your so-called reliable "youngsters" performed in batting? Gambhir, Kohli both failed miserably. Kohli is still a new comer so he must be given chances, but can we afford Gambhir's failings, especially at the top of the order? It has been 30 innings since he scored a ton. He has been hidden from scrutiny mostly due to good performances from Sehwag and the "oh-so-old" middle order you crib about.

And to Golandaaz,

I never made the series about Sachin or his ton. I care about the team's victory more than his ton. But you and your blog specifically mention in your every post about all seniors retiring and put special emphasis on Sachin regardless of any logic or their performances, which annoys me since he and Dravid have been one of the top performers even recently. In test cricket, experience is valuable and the youngsters can learn a lot playing aside these greats rather than play by themselves. Besides, I still don't see the quality in youngsters to succeed overseas except may be Pujara(but can't be sure based on 2 innings). Practically all have problems with moving ball or short pitch stuff. Kohli is the most experienced and promising youngster we have at least in domestic conditions and he has still not clicked.

Imagine we start playing Rohit,Kohli and Raina together, I don't think we can reach over 150 in Aus/Eng.

And 200+ scores this year can't be attributed only to the middle order. The openers are to blame as well. Sehwag was not playing for a better part of the year and that made a huge difference with new openers and Gambhir handling the opening stands. We never really got solid starts/platforms in most matches in Eng/WI and that will affect any team regardless of who is playing in the middle order. To add to that, Dhoni has also been not contributing much in tests.

Youngster's "maturing" has to happen before joining the test team. There is no room for experiments in tests except in certain areas like fast bowling, where we normally don't have enough quality. People have to come ready with their A game here. And we are giving them chances as well for the 6th position(Rohit may come in for Kohli next match) and I suspect next match we may try Gambhir's spot too.

Vivek said...

And Golandaaz even resorts to skewing the stats to support his point.

For e.x. In 2011, Sachin is averaging 48.5 and he conveniently mentions it as 35 in his last comment.

Vidooshak said...

Vivek -

I would suggest you get a life.

I have seen Sachin bat for his entire career and I stand by my statement that he has slowed down just a bit. During his "immortal days" he would have scored a century very easily the way he was batting to get to 73. I followed up by saying that doesn't diminish him much.

Let's hope our batting stands up tomorrow to deliver the match. I hope you agree that the bowlers have done their part.

Vivek said...

Hehe, so I did manage to end the argument then, as apparently you are out of answers!

Nobody argued whether Sachin slowed down or not. It doesn't matter how he gets runs as long as he gets them and what matters is he is still scoring and still helping the team amass respectable scores and win/draw matches. Find me a batsman with his, or for that matter Dravid's consistency for such a long period, and I will stop arguing.

You and I expect a lot from them, since we know they can deliver it most of the times, so it hurts when they don't but that doesn't mean they need to retire as soon as they fail. Can we expect same level of performance from the new guys? Talent is there but I am not sure they have the commitment/focus to last the long period. Gambhir/Yuvraj are examples, I just hope Kohli and company prove me wrong.

Of course, am very happy about our bowling in this test. Although, they did allow the aus tail to wag a bit, overall they have looked lot more intense and hungry for wkts, than in Eng. Yeah hoping for an Indian win tomorrow itself.

Vidooshak said...

Vivek -

There are two separate topics. You are hell bent on mixing them. Your wish.

1. Seniors time is up.
2. India's best chance in Australia with the lineup they have.

On the first topic it's increasingly clear to me that you just feel that as long as someone is scoring runs, they should stay in the team. And if they have some failures, then past performances only should count, not age. Your argument is ok. I don't have a quibble with it. I just can't agree. Very simply, if you go back to 1999, when India's famed middle order was younger, they didn't cross 200 in 3 of the six innings they played and didn't cross 300 even once. So if we were to replace our trio to veterans with a trio of untested but promising guys (just like we did in 1999 - Azhar was already dropped - not due to performance), is it worth taking the risk that they will not be able to muster up 300+ today but in four years time will deliver? You seem to have a crystal ball that tells you that they will not. I have one that tells me they will.

So long.

Golandaaz said...

Vivek,

forgot to mention 'away' while mentioning SRT's average.

Why should it annoy you if we hold a different opinion than yours. And its not like we are being completely illogical.

Here is the logic in a nutshel. The scoreline of 0-4 in England means India are out of depth when competing against top teams. This means something needs to change. The top 3 are ageing and their collective performances have dipped. No point in investing any more time in them because they all have no more than 1-2 years in them.

The logic is there...you just don't see it that way. You are free to use the same facts and form your own opinion. No issues.

And please lets not add to the excuses of openers for the non-performance of the top 3. They have scored 1000s of runs with people like Sadagopan Ramesh, Deep Das Gupta, Sanjay Bangar, Dinseh Karthik, Jaffer, etc etc as openers.

The famed batting lineups of the world of which VVS, SRT and RD are the best ever never need openers or tailenders to score runs. It is only now, since they are past their prime that these things are becoming visible

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