Friday, May 11, 2007

Its all in the mind for the great player

I started playing cricket at a very young age but did not have the patience to sit through a entire cricket match on television. The first game I ever watched was a match between India and Pakistan in Sharjah in 1990. India were chasing a total of 250 odd against a strong Pakistani bowling attack and there walked in a young batsman barely 18 years old. He was none other than Sachin Tendulkar. This was my first look at the great player. I did not have too many memories of the game as it was the first game I ever watched. The only thing I remember was that India lost that game and Sachin got out trying to smash Mushtaq Ahmad for the third consecutive time in an over.

Before watching this game I always thought that Sachin Tendulkar was a model who happened to act with Kapil in the Boost ad which was very famous at that time. Sachin played a brand of cricket which was not that prevalent in the early 90's. He was attacking and also very positive in his strokeplay when he was at the crease batting. Since that Innings in Sharjah I have closely followed Sachin's career. I guess Sachin will agree with me that the biggest failure so far in his career has been his captaincy. He has captained India on two separate occasions and both the times it was not that great. He has been a great player and great ambassador for Indian cricket over the years.

In recent times his batting has gone downhill, even though he is still one of the major run getters in this period. Sachin's major problem has been that he has changed his batting style which unfortunately is not his natural one. He has tried to change his batting style according to the team's needs which is the cause for his inconsistent performance in the last few years. Sachin has always drawn parallel to another contemporary great Brian Charles Lara who retired from International cricket just a month ago after the World Cup. Lara's success is based on the fact that he never changed his batting style no matter what his role in the team was.

Sachin on the other hand has been confused with his role in the team and has decided to be more circumspect with his batting being one of the senior members in the team. We all know that Sachin can still be the devastating one-day batsman he was couple of years back. The innings he played against Srilanka just before the World Cup further proves my point. For Sachin to get back to one-day team and make a difference he needs to get back to his strength. I remember him as a fearless young boy standing up to the likes of Waqar, Wasim, Donald, Ambrose and few other great bowlers of this era. He is one of the players who took pinch hitting to a different level, where the shots were not mere slogs but pure cricketing strokes. He has been an inspiration to countless number of youngsters who want to follow his path and become like him.

He deserves to have a send off from Indian cricket just like the way Glenn McGrath had after the World Cup. Being the great player that he is, I guess he owes it to himself. As I was writing this article, Sachin scored his 36th test century against Bangladesh in the first match of the series in chittagong. I hope that Sachin continues this form in to the rest of the season ahead against the English team and the Australians later this year. I hope he also makes a comeback into the Indian one-day team and plays the way we all know he can. For a great player like him it does not take too much to get back to his strength give his fans much more to cheer about in the last few years of his wonderful career. I have been an ardent fan of his and will continue to be the same till the end as he was the one who got me interested in this wonderful game and also inspired me to write about the same.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Seniors Should Spark The Turnaround

After a disappointing exit from the World Cup the Indian team start their season with a series against Bangladesh. This is the start of a long and difficult season for the Indians as they take on both England and Australia later this year. The Indian team start the series on 10th of this month with 3 one dayers followed by couple of test matches. The one day team for India is without the experience of Sachin and Sourav but Dravid has been retained as the captain of the team. Sehwag should consider himself very lucky to be a part of the one-day team as he has not been performing well for a long time now. Even though he scored a hundred against the hapless Bermuda attack, the discipline in his batting is still lacking.

I would have expected India to make more changes to their bowling attack as except for Munaf and Zaheer nobody looked convincing in the WC. As expected Agarkar and Pathan were dropped from the squad to Bangaldesh but recalling RP Singh, I think is a step back. RP Singh was currently playing in English County Cricket and I would have expected him to complete an entire season there to gain some valuable experience as India tour England this summer.

The Indian team to be successful in International cricket needs at least one good fast bowler who is consistent and quick. The batting has been the main concern for the Indian team in the past few months. Rahul Dravid and Dhoni have been the most consistent batsmen in this period and the others in team have been really struggling. Sehwag as I mentioned above has been been the worst of the pack and still finds a place in the squad which is hard to believe. India should be trying out new players in the place of Sehwag and allow him to play in the domestic cricket and fight his way back to the team.

This series is been termed as a "Revenge" series by the media and it brought out a immediate denial from the Indian captain. Even though Dravid says that they are not terming this as the revenge series they will know in their minds that anything less than a white-wash will not convince their fans. There is lots of pressure on the Indian team to get back into their stride after their disappointing World Cup performance and the seniors in the squad like Sachin, Sourav and Dravid should spark the turn around which the team is looking for. They need not be the star performers in this series but their job will be to instill confidence and self belief on to the youngsters in the team.

The senior members in the team have just a few years of International cricket left in them and they should make it count in not only their personal performances but also in leaving behind a strong Indian team when they retire. The Indian team has lots of promising youngsters such as Dhoni, Karthik, Pathan and few others who need proper direction in their careers to become tough and more consistent in their performances. The Indian team has a long and hard international calender ahead of them and they would need to start well by winning both the one-day and test series in Bangladesh. I hope that we would be able to achieve the same in this series without any problems.