Tuesday, July 29, 2008

India need to regroup after the humiliating loss

Murali and Mendis combination bowled the Indian team out inside two days on a pitch where the home team had piled up 600 runs for the loss of just 6 wickets. The Indians showed no application or patience on a pitch which was not that threatening. Murali and Mendis accounted for 19 of the 20 Indian wickets to fall where as the Indian spinners just managed 2 between them. I would agree to Manjrekar’s comments that Indians are no longer masters of spin which they used to be few years ago.

Mendis had a perfect debut as he captured 8 wickets in the match and Srilanka won by an innings and 239 runs. He was largely helped by the excellent perfromance by the great Murali, who got the ball rolling for the lankans in the first innings. The Indians put themselves under pressure as none of the top 5 converted the starts they got. Sehwag played a reckless hook shot to get himself caught at the square leg boundary to gift his wicket to the home team. It looked like the Indians were still in the Twenty20 mood while at the crease.

VVS laxman tried to save his team from further blushes by getting the score over 200 with the help of the tail in their first innings. Anil kumble will be very dissapointed with this performance as this has become some sort of a habit for the Indian team. The consistancy is something which the team lacks and both the captain and coach would be aware of the same. During the recent test series against the South Africans after matching blow for blow in the first test the team crumbled to a heavy defeat in the second test.

This will really be a hard loss to bounce back from. Srilanka are a very hard team to defeat at home and now with Murali with his tail up the Indians need to do some serious planning to tackle him. The Indians should take heart from the way they bounced back in Australia after a similar performance in Melbourne. Anil Kumble though would realise that things can only get better from here. The coach and captain should work with the players to come up with a plan to deal with the Srilankan spin twins.

Even though all the focus is on Murali and Mendis the Indian think tank should not forget Vaas who might have few surprises up his sleeve for the second test. All in all this is the moment of realization for Kumble’s men and we will know how much this defeat has hurt the team when they take the field at Galle.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thalaivar’s Kuselan on Aug 1st

The news of Superstar’s Kuselan releasing on 1st of August is sure to attract lots of media attention. This is the first time in the last decade that two Rajnikanth movies are releasing in a span of 1 year. The trailers are already out and is sure send Thalaivar’s fans to absolute frenzy. I watched the trailer and was really impressed about the packaging of the same.

It had everything in the right mix. You could get a jist of the movie and also a glimpse of the thalaivar in his various stylish outfits. The movie has lots of other stars too like Pasupathy (Who actually plays the title role), Meena (Back in Rajni movies after a long time), Sneha, Mamta Mohandas, Santanam, Vadivelu to name a few.I am so happy that this movie is releasing in Bloomington IL and I will be able to watch it on the 2nd of August. I am really looking forward to the same. There may be better actors than Rajni but there cannot be a better entertainer than him in the movie industry.

You know that if you are watching a Rajni movie you will be entertained for sure. I am sure that Kuselan will go on to become a huge hit for P.Vasu as I think he knows how to make a movie with Superstar in it. There is lots of expectations on P.Vasu as his movie is following Sivaji, a blockbuster in 2007. I hope that he would be able to do justice to the original Malayalam version. I am going to watch the movie for sure and there will be many others who will in the first few days. Watching the Superstar movie in theaters always gives you goosebumps. I am sure this one will be no different.
Vazhga Thalaivar!

Day 2 - Srilankan batsmen dominate

Three hundreds from Srilankan top order put them in comand on the second day of the first test against India. Warnapura, Jayawardane and Samaraweera scored hundreds for the host as the home team piled on 337 runs on the second day. The Indian bowlers were just able to take two wickets on the day when the batsmen dominated. The Srilankan skipper would be pleased with the position his team is in right now.

Srilanka finished on a healthy 422/4 at the end of second day with Tilan Samaraweera still at the crease on 111. The Srilankan team would want to press on the advantage and score around 600 runs before asking India to bat. A score of 600 will give the Srilankan captain to attack the Indians with Murali and Mendis with enough men around the bat. The hosts at the start of the test would have exactly hoped for this senario after first innings with two good spinners in the team.

The Indians though would be dissapointed with their efforts on the field as only Ishant and Harbajan managed to get a wicket each. The Indians would be hoping that the pitch stays good for batting in the coming days as they are looking at a huge Srilankan first innings total. India would need all their experiance to counter this situation. The pace at which the lankan batsmen scored their runs also gives them enough time to bowl the Indians out twice.

The second day performance of the home team has made sure that there are only two results possible in this test match. It can either be a Srilankan win or a draw. The Indians would surely be hoping for the latter. yesterday I said that the key to Indian success was removing Mahela early which they were unable to do and the Srilankan captain scored yet another century on his favorite ground to guide his team to a position of strength.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 1 - Rain curtails an interesting contest

Srilanka finished on 85/2 on a rain curtailed first day at SSC. The Indian new ball pair of Zaheer and Ishant took one wicket each for their efforts. The pitch was dead and is supposed to help the spinners on the last couple of days and Srilanka would just want to bat once on this track. The Indians will be really happy that one of the two wickets was of Sangakkara considering the form he is in. The days play was too short to determine which team has the upper hand but I would say that the visitors would feel satisfied with their display.

The Indian new ball bowlers bowled impressively on a slow pitch and were rewarded with two wickets. The second days play is very important for both the teams and if India manage to remove Mahela early then Srilanka’s inexperianced middle order will have their task cut out. Removing the Srilankan captain will be really crucial for the visitors as he averages around 80 on this ground.

Hopefully the second days play will take place without any further interruptions. India would like keep chipping away at the wickets and Srilanka would want to put up a huge total. All in all an interesting day ahead.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Everything to Play for - II

Indians have already had a pretty hectic 7 months and things are not going to get any better for Kumble’s team. The good thing for India is that the core of the Indian test team has been well rested and will be fresh. The Indian team have played two very tough test series this year and the one against Srilanka is not going to be any different. India has everything to play for and Sachin’s world record will add more flavour to the series.

The Mendis factor also gives this series a definite edge. Even though the seniors have denied that they are worried about the sensational spinner from the island, I am sure that there will be plans discussed to counter him in the test series. The Srilankans though would be confident as they have the definite home advantage. They have a great bowling lineup with Mendis and Murali in the spin department and Vaas leading the pace attack.

Srilanka has not lost to India in a test series at home since the 1993 series. The last time India toured Srilanka they lost 2-1 to the host. The Indian bowling though would be bolstered by the return of Zaheer Khan who had a good warm up game ahead of the series. The rest of the bowling also looks pretty good with Ishant, Munaf, Anil and Harbajan with Ojha completing the lineup. The Indian batting though looks very solid on papers with the seniors returning to the squad.

The Indian batting would again be relying heavily on the middle order comprising of the famous quartet to help them put up decent scores. The opening combination of Sehwag and Ghambir will be expected to carry their one day success to the test arena.

All in all the series looks really interesting as both the teams are evenly matched with lots of experiance on both sides. The series will be watched closely for couple of reasons,
1. To see wthether Sachin breaks the world record
2. To see how the Indians counter Murali-Mendis combination.

We just have to wait and see what happens in couple of days. I am just hoping that the series lives up to the hype. I am going for India winning 2-1.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Absolutely Ridiculous

Everyone knows BCCI’s stand on ICL contracted players but today they have taken it to a completely different level. The current diktat issued by the BCCI is absolutely ridiculous. BCCI has barred the Indian players from signing with any English counties who have ICL players in them. This is absolute nonsense. BCCI is a cricket governing body of India but they behave as if they are governing world cricket.

BCCI has no rights to say what the ECB should be doing with their domestic tournament. Piyush chawla who is currently not a part of the Indian test squad to Srilanka was supposed to join Hampshire in the current season. Now BCCI has denied Piyush the opportunity as Hampshire has ICL linked players in their team. There are only three counties which dont have any ICL links and they are Middlesex, Somerset and Essex. This means that Laxman who was supposed to join Northamptonshire after the test series would not be able to do so either.

BCCI’s ongoing tussle with Subhash Chandra (Essel Group, Founder of ICL) is causing a major divide in world cricket. Already some good international players have been lost due to this ongoing battle. BCCI has already started their own league successfully and I dont think that ICL is causing any harm to them in terms of revenue. If BCCI open their eyes to the fact that ICL and IPL can coexist then it will be better for world cricket.

I dont understand why other cricketing nations should suffer due to this stand from BCCI. Already Newzealand has lost one of their premier strike bowler Shane Bond and Pakistan has lost players like Azhar Mahmood and Razzak. Playing in county cricket might have given young Piyush with a great opportunity early in his career. BCCI tried to stop the counties from signing up the players from ICL, when they did not adhere to their threats now they are stopping Indians from participating in county cricket.

ECB has nothing to lose if Piyush decides not to join Hampshire. Its sad to see that now Indian cricketers are also suffering due this ridiculous fight between BCCI and the ICL. BCCI have made the point with IPL and have made lots of money and I guess thats where this fight should end. The problem is BCCI has lots of ego and unfourtunately unless the ICC takes some stand on this issue the problem will never end. Being an Indian supporter I just feel ashamed of this behaviour from BCCI and I am sure that they are not earning too many fans accross the world with this latest stunt.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A bold move from the ODI captain

Dhoni is one of the few cricketers in the Indian team to feature regularly in all 3 formats of the game. He has been playing non-stop cricket over the last 12 months and was sure in need of a break, a sentiment shared even by the coach of the Indian team. In the last 18 months Dhoni has been involved in 14 test matches, 56 ODI’s, 8 Twenty20 International games and 16 IPL games. Dhoni recently had mentioned during the Asia cup that back to back matches are causing player fatigue.

Even though Dhoni found support in Anil Kumble and Gary Kirsten, the BCCI was not that happy with his comments. Over the last few years players from different countries have complained about player burnout and India is the country who play most cricket every year. Australia’s famous rotation policy evolved due to this very reason.

Dhoni has now decided to pull out of the Srilankan test series a decision which is being scrutinized in the media over the past few days. Former players are providing their opinions, the seniors in the team are being approached for comments on this subject. Personally I feel that the comments by Sourav Ganguly on this subject was unnecessary. Seriously I dont see a reason for such a reaction, its Dhoni’s decision to take a break and everyone knows that he needed one. The one-day captain might have thought that taking a break from test matches where he is more dispensable might be the appropriate thing to do.

The media is after this decision because of the fact that Dhoni has decided to take the test series off instead of the one-day series which is to follow. They are also complaining that IPL is one of the major reasons for the player burnout and fatigue. Frankly for me I would rather see Dhoni take a break in tests rather than in ODI’s and Twenty20 where his presence is more important. I am sure that Dhoni has put enough thought into this decision and needs to be left alone.

Everyone agrees that he needs a break and as far as I am concerned Dhoni’s decision is spot on.
India is playing a lots of one day matches in the coming 12 months and would require a fit and rested Dhoni leading them. Parthiv and Karthik are good test players and I am sure that team would not be missing Dhoni’s services that much in the test series. Dhoni has made a bold statement by skipping this series knowing the after effects of his decision. Now we have to wait and see if this precedence set by the skipper is followed by rest of the members in the future.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuition Teachers Vs School teachers

Over the weekend I was watching Star Vijay channel and on Sunday I stumbled upon an interesting debate show called “Neeya?Naana?” (You? Me?). To give you all a background on this show, its basically a debate show between two sets of people on a particular topic. This week the topic was kind of interesting as it was Tuition Teachers against School Teachers. This is an ongoing debate in India as most of the parents think that sending their kids to private tuitions is the way to go. The school teachers on the other hand say that the lack of attention from the students in the classroom is due to the fact that they go to tuition after the school.

The topic was kind of interesting but the one thing that bothered me was the absence of a student angle to the debate. The base of this discussion were the students and not involving them was kind of a dampner on the show. As I was watching the show there were so many questions that came to my mind as a viewer. Being educated in a system which puts so much emphasis on your marks rather than the knowledge aquired by the students, it was hard for me to agree with the School teachers defence on the topic.

The argument from both sides went something like this, the School teachers said that going to tuition is affecting the student’s concentration in the class and the Tuition teachers hit back saying that its due to inefficient teachers in the schools the students come to them. Personally for me I dont have any fond memories of a classroom in India. In India education is a major business and with it comes lots of competition. In schools the teachers want instant results. Not many teachers want to spend enough time with a kid having trouble with studies.

Teachers in India dont want to listen to criticizm of any kind from anyone. They have lots of ego and it was kind of funny that in the talk show they teachers said that the students are in their control. There is so much emphasis on the marks scored by the students the parents think that their only option is to put the kids in private tuitions. Few private schools in India have decided to fight the competition by only admitting students who are toppers already. I was also shocked to hear from the teachers in the debate saying that they admit kids only if their parents are educated.

These are new developments in an already outdated education system in India. The reason for the parents to trust private tuitions is because there are very few teachers in schools who concentrate on making students understand the concepts. The aim of the teachers is to just complete the syllabus assigned for a particular class for that year. The tuition teachers are not any different either as their main aim is to get the kid over the line to get money. All in all members of both the groups dont impart any knowledge to the kids but yes they tell them how to pass in an exam.

Teachers escape from their duties by complaining to the parents about the kid. When the parents hear the complaints from the teachers in the school they think the ultimate solution is to approach a private tuition teacher. If the teachers can also provide a solution for the problem faced by the kid along with the complaints then probably parents will not think about tuition teachers. The problem is that none of the teachers have a clue about the issues faced by the kid. The problem is that most of the school teachers themselves are part time tuition teachers which made me laugh when they were arguing with each other on the show.

The Indian education system already puts lots of pressure on the kids to perform as marks they score funnily enough determines how intelligent they are. Their fate most of the time is decided in the 3 hours they spend in the examination hall. To top it all there is always constant comparisons between different induviduals by the parents and the others around them.

I was one of the so called average student during my school days and faced my share of humiliations and beatings. I was also the victim of the after school tuition torture. My father was also called by my teacher for complaints and you can only imagine what happened to me after I came home that day. Inspite of all that I am currently a Masters degree holder in US with great scores and work in a big software firm.

Kids in India are not to be blamed here ,its just the system and the non availability of enough good teachers are responsible for this situation. Teachers should understand that hitting and humiliating the kids in front of their mates isnt going to help their confidence either. I may be coming accross as another complaining student but the fact is that I really respected my professors during my masters here in US and understood how students should be actually treated.

Well I dont think the situation in India is going to improve a great deal in the future. So finally my verdict on the debate is that both the School Teachers and the tuition teachers are not doing any favours for the kids. India has one of the best tried and trusted curriculam but the system surrounding it isnt that great. Teachers are not hand picked and there are hardly any good ones around. Schools and Private tuitions are a way of making money and they are equally not that worried about the students to be honest. Both are worried about getting 100% results to get their names popular with the people to get more money.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A greatly underrated cricketer

The earliest memory I have of Shiv Chandrapaul is during the India’s tour to the Caribbean in 96/97 season. Brian Lara and Carl Hooper were the major stars in the team then and I had not heard too much about Shiv at that moment. It was the third test of the series after the first two had ended in dull draws. The game was in Bridgetown Barbados (Kensington Oval) with both teams yet to win a game. The wicket at Kensington oval promised a result and both teams were keen to go one up. India won the toss and invited WI to bat first and at 10/1, Shiv Chanderpaul walked in to Join Stuart Williams.

That was my first look at Shiv. He was not a very attractive batsmen to look at and was very limited in his stroke play. He did not have the style and flamboyance of a Brian Lara. When WI were finally dismissed for 298 in their first innings the batsmen unbeaten with 137 against his name was the 22 year old Shivnarine Chanderpaul. That innings proved very decisive for the West Indians as the Indians crashed to a 40 run defeat chasing a paltry 121 in their fourth innings. WI at one stage in their first innings were 193/7 but finished on 298 due to a brilliant innings from Shiv.

Since then Shiv has been one of the most consistant player for the WI. The unfortunate thing for Shiv is that he has been under the shadow of the great Lara for most of his career. The problem for Shiv is that he has hardly been a part of a successful WI team. Shiv’s career is in a way similar to the one of India’s Rahul Dravid. When Chanderpaul started his career he mostly played one side of the wicket and was mostly an accumulater of runs.

Over the years his game has evolved and I would call him as one of leading players in the world in all forms of cricket. May be if he had played for a more fancied team such as Australia, England, India etc, he would have been termed as a great already. After the retirement of Brian Lara the entire responsibilty of carrying and inspiring a inexperianced batting line up has fallen upon Chanderpaul. The problem for Shiv is that he is not getting enough support from the more experianced Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels.

Shiv has been in tremendrous form over the last couple of years, especially in the last 12 months he has amassed 1635 in all forms of cricket at an amazing average of 86. The runs also has not come against weak sides, it has been scored against the Aussies at home and against England and South Africa away. The problem for Chanderpaul is that inspite of his great run of form WI have lost all those test series.

Its a pity that such a great player has never got the recognition he deserves. Shivnarine Chanderpaul averages 49.08 in tests and 40.49 in ODI’s, which I would say puts him in the category of great players. He has 19 test centuries and 8 ODI hundreds to his name. He would have ended up with more test hundreds if only he had some support from rest of his team mates. I guess Shiv will never graduate from a good player to a great player in the eyes of the critics but I would say that he is already there as far as I am concerned.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

No Surprises in the test squad

The Indian team for the upcoming Srilankan tour was selected couple of days ago and predictably the seniors were back in the side. Gautham Gambhir made it back to the test team due to his great showing in the ODI’s and Twenty20 and Pragyan Ojha was also drafted in the 16. Gambhir’s inclusion in the side was expected as he has been our most consistant player over the last 8 months or so and deserved a chance at the top of the order in tests. Rohit Sharma also made it to the test squad owing to his great performances in the one dayers but I doubt that he will make it to the final X1.

The notable absentees in the test squad were Yuraj Singh and Irfan Pathan and Harbajan Singh made it back into the team after serving a ban for slapping Sreesanth in the IPL. Quite frankly I am not that surprised or puzzled on the omission of Yuvraj as he was given a long run in the middle order after his hundred against pakistan. Yuvraj has always produced that one special innings time to time but lacks the consistancy at the test level. Irfan’s was more of a shock as he had performed creditably in the test series in Australia bagging man of the match award in the perth test match.

But overall the selectors have done a great job. The batting looks solid and the bowling attack seems decent. India possess a great top six and I would go to an extent of calling them the best in the world when it comes of. Sehwag and Gambhir will open in the first test for sure, followed by Dravid, Sachin, Ganguly and Laxman. Parthiv or Karthik will occupy the number 7 spot. The advantage for the Indians with Karthik and Parthiv is that they can also open the batting if we decide to go with 5 bowlers. Pathan’s absence might leave a long tail for India but I guess thats the risk we have to take in the absence of a genuine allrounder in the squad.

The bowling will depend on the pitch conditions and I would prefer Ojha in the place of Harbajan if we go with two spinners. Ojha was very impressive in the Asia cup as he was able to get wickets in the middle overs, a department India struggle a lot in ODI. India will go with Zaheer and Ishant if playing only two pace bowlers. Overall the test series will be a great watch as everyone will be eager to see how the seniors handle mendis after his stupendous showing in the Asia Cup. Dhoni openly admitted in the media that the Indian batsmen were clueless against the genial spinner from Srilanka after the Asia Cup final.

Dhoni will not be playing in this series giving an opportunity to either Karthik or Parthiv to showcase their talent. All in all an interesting battle is on the cards when the two team meet on the 23rd of July at the SSC.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Choking Hazard

Yet another finals and yet another loss. Its been a common sight in recent times to see the Indian team come to the final of a tournament and lose heavily in the same. When India won the Twenty20 world cup and the CB series in Australia all of us thought that the trend has reversed and the young Indian team has found a way to win the finals too. As seen in the last to finals it was not to be the case. The Indians after great performances in the round robin stages in both the Asia Cup and Kitply cup lost in finals to hand the trophy to Srilanka and Pakistan respectively.

This has been a problem for the men in blue for a long time now since the days when Ganguly was in charge (Azhar had more luck in the finals). Before the Twenty20 world cup India hardly won any tournament comprising of more than 2 teams since the 1999 World Cup. The only tournament India won was the Natwest Series due to the brilliance of Yuvraj and Kaif. Even in that final we were well on the way to another defeat before the great partnership happened. If we discount the Champions Trophy (2002) and the TVS Cup (2003) which we shared with srilanka and South Africa respectively, India hardly won any finals.

Well when we dwell into the reasons of those failures we can immediately zero in on the inconsistancy of the Indian top order in crunch games. The reason India was able to win the CB series against the Australia was because of the top order performances. Sachin and Uthappa gave India bright starts and the middle order capitalised on the same to seal victory. The Indian bowling also seemed to raise to the challenge in both the finals.Twenty20 win was due to the heroics of another top order batsmen, this time it was Gambhir. The Indian bowling also seem to choke in crucial games and lack the consistancey required for a tournament final, who can forget the nervous opening over from Zaheer in 2003 worldcup finals to hand the initiative to Australia. Zaheer also had trouble in the 2000 edition of ICC Knockout trophy against the Kiwis.

India would probably figure in the top 5 for the teams played in most finals but in bottom 3 for the teams winning tournament. Its seems like we have taken over the “Chokers” tag which was famously associated with the South African team. The Indian one day captain Dhoni would want to reverse this trend as soon as possible as this might become a habit for teams.