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Sight Screen

Monday, October 31, 2005

Playing with the master(-worma)

Did someone point out this particular interview of Irfan Pathan in the Telegraph? Because Prem's in such Dhoni-esqe form today, that I, for one, am unable to keep pace with his postings :-)

In that interview, what caught my eye was the mention of how Sachin guided him during that Nagpur innings...that what it means to play with the master(emphasis mine).
I did, thanks to Sachin’s presence at the other end... He guided me on the strengths of the bowlers and the shots I should go for... He made me feel so comfortable.

Also, good to see that his head is still screwed on right (I got this level-headedness in all his interviews till date)
I'’ll be inviting pressure if I keep thinking about it... Today, I don'’t see myself as an allrounder. My primary job is to get wickets and most of the effort is going to go towards bowling. To become an allrounder, I guess one needs five-six years of international experience. I haven'’t even completed two years... I need to have my feet on the ground and get over my limitations. I don'’t look at the mirror and tell myself that I've already become an allrounder.

And we wonder...

...why we have zonal bias in selection? How could we not, given this kind of expectation, this kind of pressure?
Pranab Roy, the national cricket selector representing East Zone, appears to have emerged the villain responsible for deposed skipper Sourav Ganguly's exclusion from the Indian team.
From receiving bad press to Ganguly's fans burning his effigy, Roy, the son of former India Test player Pankaj Roy, is being criticised for "doing nothing" for Kolkata's favourite cricketer.

PS: Later, guys. Got to work.

R Mohan on Dhoni

...in the Asian Age, just now.
Granted that innings was enthralling; and I am hugely kicked by the way the team has played these last three games; and the fact that a youngster found himself with a job to do and stayed on to complete it is worth more than those fours and sixes he hit. But it is still just three games -- at best an indication of the path the team is taking, rather than a satisfied sigh at destination attained. Surely, thus, a touch too early for this conclusion?
Dhoni’s success caps a hat-trick of happy wins for India. There is something about this Indian team which suggests amazing capabilities. Adaptability is to be seen in the way the team responded after Sachin fell so early.
In the years straddling the new millennium, the team would collapse the moment the master got out. It is showing a steely resolve to mend its ways that it is fast becoming the master of making its own fortunes. It is no more a matter of simply turning a corner. You can read in their keenness the message — bring on the World Cup.

Calling Sehwag... and others

A story, and example, that might be worth emulating?
There was another big hurrah in the march towards steely professionalism yesterday when sports administrators in Australia made history by suspending a 21-year-old player’s contract because he had put on too much weight.
South Australia’s Mark Cosgove, the sports-mad country’s current Young Cricketer of the Year, was told not to show up for work for a month and prepare himself for a crucial date with the scales in November. He has gained 4kg in the past six months.

Wrong address

Shoaib Akthar wants India to put politics aside, and provide more aid to the quake victims of Pakistan.
I think India should step forward more bravely. It's not easy for India to just come and help us out because there are still a few issues to sort out, but I think we just put it aside.

Nicely put, Shoaib -- now could you give President Musharraf a call, please? As it happens, just last Friday, I was editing, for India Abroad, a copy filed by my colleague Sheela Bhatt from New Delhi; a story that had me (I told you it's a great day for being incensed) incensed.
Not a single Indian, except separatist Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik, has been granted a visa to visit PoK. We are ready with assistance, it is up to Pakistan whether to accept it or not'

That is from the MEA.
"If Pakistan can let us know the most affected areas where relief supplies, and teams of medical personnel are required, they could be mobilized and sent across the border. Pakistan however is yet to respond to the offer"

That is foreign secretary Shyam Saran, the MEA's number two man after Natwar Singh.
President Pervez Musharraf has made no secret of his feelings -- on the day of the quake, he indicated that he was reluctant to accept India's help because of 'sensitivities'.

As of date, India has sent one aircraft and two trainloads of relief supplies, besides pledging $25 million to the UN fund to help Pakistan.

Incidentally, since Indian doctors were not allowed into PoK, India offered to set up camps along the LoC, where patients from PoK could be brought for treatment. Again, Pakistan is yet to respond.
As you say, Shoaib -- the quake is bigger than all of us; we should just put aside these 'sensitivities' Musharraf is so concerned about, no?

Modi blues

Lalit Modi is apparently incensed -- by way of aside, I need a good thesaurus; way too many people incensed today and after a sleepless night, dreaming up synonyms is beyond me -- by some slurs on the RCA.
Some fun stuff here, but what really had me chuckling was this last bit:
The Income Tax people had come snooping. “This is a non-profit organization. They only came to find the sales figures of tickets. We showed them around and they were happy.

Ah, indeed -- officials came by and went away happy, did they? *laughing still* Don't say it out loud, Modi-saab.

More on insults

I missed this one when Worma posted it -- but it's worth putting up here as a main post (thanks, Maher, for throwing it up in comments). A list of the last 20 Tests played in India, which should indicate whether or no some decent form of rotation is happening:

Eng 1st Test in Ind 2001/02 at Chandigarh
Eng 2nd Test in Ind 2001/02 at Ahmedabad
Eng 3rd Test in Ind 2001/02 at Bangalore
Zim 1st Test in Ind 2001/02 at Nagpur
Zim 2nd Test in Ind 2001/02 at Delhi
WI 1st Test in Ind 2002/03 at Mumbai
WI 2nd Test in Ind 2002/03 at Chennai
WI 3rd Test in Ind 2002/03 at Kolkata
NZ 1st Test in Ind 2003/04 at Ahmedabad
NZ 2nd Test in Ind 2003/04 at Chandigarh
Aus 1st Test in Ind 2004/05 at Bangalore
Aus 2nd Test in Ind 2004/05 at Chennai
Aus 3rd Test in Ind 2004/05 at Nagpur
Aus 4th Test in Ind 2004/05 at Mumbai
SA 1st Test in Ind 2004/05 at Kanpur
SA 2nd Test in Ind 2004/05 at Kolkata
Pak 1st Test in Ind 2004/05 at Chandigarh
Pak 2nd Test in Ind 2004/05 at Kolkata (refused to play in Ahmedabad)
Pak 3rd Test in Ind 2004/05 at Bangalore (Delhi stadium wasn't ready)

To come: SL three tests at Delhi, Kanpur, Chennai; England three tests at Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Mumbai.

Of insults and injuries...

Scyld Berry, in the Telegraph, is all fussed about the itinerary for England's Test tour. The allocations are not, he believes, on the basis of rotation policy.
If there is any cricketing intent behind the selection of Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Mumbai, it must be that the board want three grounds that can provide slow, big-turning pitches. That would play into the hands of India's spinners and make life correspondingly hard for England's quartet of pace bowlers.

Not sure how much research Berry did before writing this, or whether he has followed Indian cricket at all lately. For instance, Nagpur: the last time a Test was played there, McGrath was 3/27 in the first innings, Gillespie 5/56; in the second innings, McGrath 2/79; Gillespie 4/24, Kasprowicz 2/39. The quicker bowlers took 23 out of 35 wickets to fall in the game; the side with the better pace attack won by the small matter of 342 runs.
Would England have preferred Chennai, say -- where the last Test played saw 24 out of 30 wickets falling to spin; I mean, even Shane Warne took 6 in an innings on Indian soil there for christ's sake (not denigrating Warne -- but face it, five-fors have not been thick on the ground for the leggie on Indian soil).
Or maybe Kolkatta? Where, in the last Test played, Kumble and Bajji spun India to a win against Pakistan (which arguably plays spin better than England)? Again, had Kolkatta and Chennai been picked as venues, would the writer have said the intent is clearly to mess with England by preparing spinning tracks?
Christopher Martin-Jenkins is if anything even more incensed.
The official explanation is that these cities have been chosen on a rotational basis. The cynical guess might be that it is a plan to destabilise the successful England team, sending them to grounds that will suit India’s spinners and where there may not be the luxurious hotels to which they have become accustomed. Economically, the places make no sense.

*Sigh!* Someone needs to tell CMJ that India has progressed a little, teensy little bit since the Brits gave our country back to us -- England won't get the hotels they are accustomed to? Not likely, if they've lived all their playing lives in Buck Palace -- but we do a fair job of putting visiting teams up, mate. As to the 'cynical guess' about destabilising England with spin -- what's the matter, I thought this team had conquered its biggest spin bogey in Warne; is there already the belief in England that this was an aberration?
Again, CMJ:
At worst, it is evidence of a calculated insult to English cricket.

A couple of scoreboards for your consideration, Messers Berry and CMJ: Number one. Number two.
Which beg a few questions:
1. Why would it be more insulting to be offered this venue now, than when you were last there?
2. When last your team was there, did they have to stay in tents on the roadside? I mean, were the hotel facilities adequate? Did anyone check? In the interim, the country has progressed, surely, not regressed -- or is there evidence to the contrary?
3. And finally, this -- never mind our Machiavellian designs; if you had to pick three venues where the guess, cynical or otherwise, was that your team would *not* be subjected to spin, which would those be? Take your time, no rush... we have over 35 to chose from.
I mean, sure, the ECB is within its rights to discuss, object to, turn down, any and all proposed venues -- but I hope like heck the ECB comes up with better reasons than 'insulting'; 'spin-friendly' and such. Be a bit like if we were to object to Lord's because making our bowlers run up slopes is a deliberate ploy to destroy their rhythm.

Three down

First Boeta Dippenaar; now Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje are, we are told, pulling out of the India tour.
From SACA chief ex Tony Irish, this:
Despite this, however, we are still not able to determine the intentions of the police and whether or not the safety and freedom of these players can be guaranteed.
"It is extremely unfortunate because it's very clear to me that Nicky has never done anything wrong and the Indian police won't tell us what they think he may have done wrong.
"He also cooperated with all requirements given to us by the police prior to last year's tour and it is difficult to understand what else he can possibly do now".

And from later in the story, this:
Indian police still want to question Gibbs and Boje about their role in the 2000 match-fixing saga that saw now deceased captain Hansie Cronje banned for life.
Gibbs was reported to have agreed to a match-fixing proposal but reneged on the field. He served a six-month suspension after a disciplinary hearing at home.
Boje is wanted because his name crops up in tapes that Indian police found during their investigations.

Hullo, hang on a sec -- Gibbs confessed to being party to match-fixing discussions; Boje's name appears on a tape that is part of an official investigation; the police want to ask the players some questions (which, if I understand police procedure, is that they do when they are investigating a case).
Even if Boje, like Gibbs, was party to some fixing shenanigans, it is not actionable under Indian law -- so why won't the two players simply meet with the police, answer their questions, provide what information they have, and move on? The whole thing could easily have done -- perhaps even under the aegis of the ICC's anti-corruption committee, at some neutral venue -- any time these last 5 years, instead of this perennial hide and seek the players are indulging in.
What's with this stuff about the safety and freedom of the players, anyway? On what grounds do Gibbs and Boje, or their Indian lawyers, presume the police here are likely to threaten either their safety, or their freedom?

RCA news

Lalit Modi has been a long time proponent of the corporatisation of domestic cricket; his plans to create an alternate structure, with corporate teams 'owning' grounds and replacing the existing Ranji Trophy structure, has been made consistently these last several years, and as consistently ignored.
Judging by this story, he's figured he'll make a start in Rajasthan, where he now controls the association. Merely naming teams after animals wild or tame is not necessarily going to lift the standard of the cricket -- but if it is an indication that after four decades of inertia under the Rungta regime, someone is actually interested in doing *some* thinking on the game at the grassroots level in the state, it's worth noting.

The axeman cometh?

In the first two games of this series, the tendency was to blame the Lankan batsmen for not being able to deliver (what escaped notice, thanks to the batting collapses, that the bowling on both occasions never threatened, even briefly, to make a fight of it -- in contrast to how the Indians in Sri Lanka failed to put up big scores, but kept hitting back at least for sizeable chunks of the game with the ball); finally, attention has swung to the bowling, where Marvan Atapattu and Tom Moody are facing a piquant problem.
The part-time bowlers -- Sri Lanka's patented weapons, since the days of Arjuna Ranatunga's WC-winning squad -- in the current lot are effective only at home. And the two mainstays, whose cutting edge provides cover for the part-timers and allows them to operate under the shadow of the pressures created by Vaas and Murali, have on this tour been meticulously decimated.
You know the Lankans are in trouble not when they fail to defend 300 -- but when you hear a call for Murali, no less, to be dropped from the side; ever known that to happen before?
Trevor Chesterfield makes that call -- and figures that to do the thing right, Jayasuriya needs to go as well:
It is being referred to in some quarters as the right shoulder syndrome. And is not the polite topic of conversations either, today around the capital’s pavilions.
It is a touchy subject but someone should tell the team management it’s time to rest Sanath Jayasuriya for the next two or three games of what is becoming Sri Lanka’s chaotic limited overs tour. To play Jayasuriya, who can’t bowl or even field effectively, is hiding a passenger and no matter the status of the Matara Mauler, the right shoulder injury is creating a major team composition problem.
And while they are about it, perhaps Muttiah Muralitharan should be given a break as well.

Here's his prescription:
What is needed is a top-order restructuring and a shifting of players around the order. Jayasuriya should be moved back to six, the captain — also struggling for form — at four of five. It will give the top-order stability with Samaraweera at three while Tharanga opens with Kumar Sangakkara.

Dhoni's cartwheels

Sidhartha Vaidyanathan on Cricinfo makes an early call for the elevation of Dhoni into the Test ranks (the call could gain momentum after today, on the lines of the chorus for Kevin Pietersen's inclusion in the England side for the Ashes, following his ODI heroics in South Africa -- and what is more, it could make sense for the same reason).
With his dashing hundred against Pakistan at Vishakapatnam earlier this year, Dhoni showed the zing he can add to this batting line-up. This sizzler at Jaipur, when he showed he was willing to pick and choose the deliveries and yet score just as quick, should go a long way in pitchforking him into the Test line-up as well. He has shown he can tear open first-class attacks and he has shown he can replicate that in the one-dayers. His wicketkeeping too has improved considerably. Either he will fail or turn into a spectacular success at the Test level. It's a gamble India may have to take in the near future.

Dhoni's 183 equals Saurav Ganguly's unforgettable demolition of the Lankans at Taunton in the 1999 World Cup; significantly, he accomplished this knock without the sort of sustained support Rahul Dravid provided at Taunton (oh hey, that is not knocking SG, by the way! These days, you have to stick these statutory notices where necessary, seems like) -- but the really scary thought, a friend who called shortly after the game (and just when I was trying to grab an hour's cat-nap, btw) is that he looked capable, even batting on one leg, of finally breaking that 200-run glass ceiling.
Anand Vasu, also on Cricinfo, does an appreciation of Dhoni:
To play such an innings when chasing requires not just talent, but temperament and nerves of steel. It's never easy chase a target of close to 300, scoring at a run-a-ball over 50 overs. The outfield may be quick, the pitch perfect for batting, and the boundaries short. But you still have to play one ball at a time, concentrating from the time the bowler gets to the top of his mark till the time bat makes contact with the ball. Doing that over after over, 145 times in all, battling cramp and heat, and allowing his natural instincts to do the rest was Dhoni's greatest victory.

That really has been the central point about this innings -- the phenomenal concentration on display. Batsmen of the berserk type tend to overdo it after passing the 100 and, in the process often perish; Dhoni almost literally took fresh guard, wiped the first 100 off the map, started fresh -- and when his captain went, realized it was his job to do and showed the nous to do it.
Here's Dravid on Dhoni:
"I have been privileged to see some great one-day innings by Sachin, Veeru and Sourav. But possibly in a chase, this is pretty close to the hundred Sachin made against Australia in Sharjah. I watched that game on television because I wasn't part of the team, and this has to be one of the best knocks in a game that I have been part of."

And here's a little something that might interest you: In his 148 (123 balls) against Pakistan earlier this year, Dhoni scored at pretty much the same pace -- but in that game, his go-to area for the big ones was through midwicket, repeatedly rocking back to pull, scoop, cart bowlers through and over the field on that side (46 off 148 came in that direction). (Here's his wagonwheel from that game).
Here, it was the same murderous batting -- only the area changed. Once the ball got soft, Dhoni figured his percentage was to stay back and wait, or step forward and flay -- through the covers, which accounted for 83 of the 183 runs he scored on the day. (Wagonwheel).
If you are into such deconstruction, the two wheels juxtaposed (against each other, and even -- if you want to go that far -- against the bowlers in the two games) make interesting viewing.


... and so, will settle back, enjoy the rest of the game, snooze for a bit, get to work, and see you guys later in my day. Meanwhile -- enjoy a 3-0 lead, guys... been a long time coming, this kind of emphatic performance

Halfway mark

Defending 299, you want, by the halfway mark, to have pushed the asking rate over 7 -- as it turns out, it is the S/R that is over that mark, the ask rate is under 5.
29 runs in the five-over phase between 20-25; no wickets lost; Dhoni having gotten the 100 out of the way -- and Marvan Atapattu with one problematical power play yet to take, and no bowling to make it work; at this point, the game is firmly India's, and all thanks to a second successful experimentation with the floating number three option.
Dhoni's 100 meanwhile deserves mention not for the strike rate (7.06 per over); not for the fours (10) or huge sixes (5), but for the fact that a batsman so reliant on the big hits still has the wits around him to knock around 20 singles and 5 twos, besides running like heck for those of his partner (RD: 10 singles, 2 twos, 12 dot balls).

The Murali factor

In this series thus far, Muralitharan is averaging 58 runs per wicket. He has an economy rate of 4.97, and a strike rate of a wicket every 70 deliveries -- and that is the *best* performance by any Lankan bowler thus far.
Chaminda Vaas is averaging 58.5; he has a wicket every 90 deliveries, and an economy rate of 7.31.
Those sets of figures pretty much underline -- repeatedly, in hard to miss red ink -- the problem Marvan Atapattu has on this tour; his bowling, till date, is toothless.

20 over mark

48 runs in the period between 16-20 -- that's a 5-over phase that went India's way by a long way. It hasn't been pretty, some of it; the normally classical Dravid heaving away was an occasionally perplexing sight (though given the match position, it figures -- putting pressure on MA during the power play is creating a huge dilemma for the fielding side, since there is still one more block to go).
Dhoni's sixes and fours are getting notice -- what should, is his intelligence. He is picking the ball to slam, and thus far he's picked them almost unerringly. And, what is more, he is proving a fine judge of the quick run.
Meanwhile -- when a bowler gets under pressure, his action tends to go a touch; Murali's is, unfortunately, going a bit more than a touch here. The ICC has mandated 15 degrees or so as the allowable limit; I'm judging this off a comp screen - okay, it's a big screen lcd, what the hell -- but if the bend on some of these deliveries is under the limit, then I need to go back and do geometry 101.
In the meantime, at the 20 over mark, India has taken the game over; sensible play here on will finish it for them.

The Sehwag dismissal

Some questions being asked whether it was fair. It was. Floated up, hit leg and middle, straightened on middle, Sehwag on his knee missing on the sweep and the ball hitting thigh; very little margin there for doubt if any.

15 over mark

Actually, a ball shy of 15 overs, but it's drinks. The Sehwag dismissal prevented that from being India's clutch of 5 overs; with the field spread and the best two of the Lankan bowlers operating, 24 runs in 4.4 overs was very good going, spoilt in the end by VS missing an extravagant sweep off Murali.
You would wish the VS innings was more substantial, but he's done his bit in a 92-run stand that has brought the ask down to 5.69. Lanka, after 15 overs, was 66/1 -- by pulling away at this point, India is cutting itself some slack for the tight over or three.
On balance, at this point chasing with a big batting line up, on this track, with SL still having to make two power plays, you've got to say this is still India's game to lose.

KS standing up to Vaas

Shams said... KS standing up to Vaas again!! cannot understand this tactic !! any ideas Prem ?

After disappearing faster than he could bowl, Vaas has been trying to slow things down; he's cut a good 8-10 yards off his pace to try and see that the ball doesn't come on to Dhoni. Trouble is, standing up telegraphs that the bowler is looking to cut down pace -- that shot, where Dhoni took a couple of paces down the track, waited, let it pitch and smashes it off his forehand to the straight fence, a typical down the line smash, is as good an example as any of the problem with that tactic.

The odd slower ball is a useful ploy. Not sure Vaas is going to get lucky though if he decides to bowl slow as a method.

Rather strange meanwhile that Atapattu is using two premier bowlers -- without the power play; what does he expect to do if this partnership keeps on for another 5 overs, bring in powerplay with Chandana and such bowling?

India-SL 2nd Thread

Here you go, if refresh rates are an issue, move over any time you need to

India at 10 overs

You've got to give this block of five overs to India -- 50 runs in it, taking the score from 25/1 to 75/1; thanks largely to Dhoni's stand and deliver tactics. No finesse, no science -- just good, old-fashioned see-ball, hit-ball-out-of-sight tactics.
Dhoni's 44/33 has been so entertaining, that Sehwag's very 'sedate' 28 off 23 is going totally unnoticed at the other end; as is the fact that Vaas has, yet again, been hit out of the attack early -- a potential problem area for SL, if their main seam striker is treated this cavalierly. The mayhem, meanwhile, has reduced the ask to just 5.65 now -- and given the Indians some breathing space to play relatively safe as Murali comes on to bowl

Well settled

Fierysinews said...
Is Prem around to settle this?

*LOL* Which, that SRT is never around "when we need him"? I wish there was some way of letting him now when. For instance, could have told him he could afford to get out 0 in the first game of this series; why bother scoring runs in a game where we obviously didn't need him to? In other words, mate, I'll pass... the game is fun to watch; this other stuff, well, you just need to go to the threads of games one and two to see what was said then.

First 5 overs

25/1 -- with Sachin the casualty, chasing a wide one from Vaas for a good take by Kumar Sangakkara (on a slightly amused note -- when I posted that this chase would be about Indians holding their nerve, I forgot to include the fans; the uproar on the blog reminds me of that omission).
Early days yet to comment on run of play -- but judging by events thus far, this game is far from over. SL have one big chance here -- take Dhoni out early, which is the only way to take him; right now, he is setting himself for the wide ones outside off and Vaas is hoping he will mishit; a better option would be bowling full on the stumps. If this guy gets set, against this bowling attack on a shortish ground, the target will shrink in a hurry.


Dhoni at 3 -- just right. As the pitch slows down, he'll find it harder to make the play. His best chance of firing seems now, when the ball is new, and coming on; if he can stay two, three overs and get a sighter, he's placed just right to play a vital role. Be interesting to see how he shapes -- I think though the choice of pinch hitter is spot on

Close of Lankan innings

To go from 101/2 at the end of 25 -- and, worse, just 117/2 at the end of 30 -- to 298/4 after 50 (an amazing 104 runs in the overs 41-50) constitutes brilliant recovery by Lanka; Kumar Sangakarra playing the innings of the series, thus far. Patient when he neeeded to be; prepared to play second fiddle when he saw Mahela motoring; taking on the onus once things came down to the wire. Class act right through, this.
This is the first time in this series that things haven't gone to plan for the Indians, and a bit of shoddiness evident; that problem is yet to be ironed out. Another noticeable aspect is that RD has been content to bowl his main bowlers -- thus far they have done the job for him, but today, when they haven't, he's shown a certain reluctance to use the part-timers judiciously, to get through a few overs. Not sure yet -- since this is the first game this series where things haven't gone to plan -- whether this is a defect, or an aberration, but it's certainly a point worth considering; using the part-timers is going to be crucial in any ODI (for instance, a few overs squeezed in by Yuvraj, SRT and VS in the middle would have meant that had Pathan been taken big time at the death, as he was, there would have been cover in the form of other bowlers with overs to spare).
299 to win is not un-doable on this track -- I think the game is still on, and a great start will probably make this an easier ask than it looks; I didn't really see signs that this was going to turn inordinately or otherwise offer help to the bowlers; plus, India has depth thanks to its batting supersub. Thing though is, when chasing in excess of 260 on any sort of pitch, it is nerves more than the conditions you have to battle -- it's going to be interesting to see if this new-found confidence is strong enough to weather this.

45 over mark

Despite a wicket -- Jayawardene, finally delivering an innings of calibre before holing out off a slash to a good catch by Sehwag at deep backward point -- Lanka managing 43 runs in this five over phase is good news for the batting side; helped, to a considerable extent, by some ragged work in the field. Yuvraj letting a single go, Sehwag letting four go when there should have been just one, being examples. That four made the difference between Pathan's comeback over going for a possible 5, which would have been very good, and 8, which is what he ended up conceeding.
Some loss of focus evident by the Indians in the field -- they've been used to things going their way in the first two games; at this sign of resistance, losing the plot here a bit, and Lanka taking toll. 237/3 at 45 going at 5.27 is very good work by the batting side, judging where they were

Running between wickets

Despite the tight set field, these two have shown good quality in their basic cricket: KS is now going 62 dot balls, 41 singles and 6 twos in an innings of 96 off 120; Jayawardene has gone 29 dots to 26 singles and 1 two; this rotation has kept the board ticking, kept the bowlers from settling to any one line, and now placed Lanka where it can look to really accelerate.

40 over mark

A second five-over clutch going SL's way: From 154/2 at 35 overs at 4.4, the Lankans have gone 4, 11, 8, 7, 10 (SRT bowling the 40th, and spoiling his obvious intent of choking runs down by pitching one too short and letting KS get under it and haul it over the midwicket fence).
A few missed bets here -- MK being brought back for an over when he was clearly getting nothing going here; RD grassing a catch that at this level, with his skills, should have been taken adding to India's problems; but the real key has been, MJ and KS are playing some high quality cricket. Not losing their heads, but they haven't missed a single bet.


worma said...

hmm...Prem, point taken about the lack of spin in the track.

What about using SRT instead of VS?..since we know SRT is more likely to get the turn...basically my thinking is VS is used more to choke and SRT to attack.

Was why at the start of the innings I said I expected SRT to bowl today. Hasn't happened -- but it's likely a missed ploy here. Another error of sorts is bringing MK back just now -- the ball is not doing much for him, and these guys are now set and reading him well; no percentage to it.


worma said... Prem..India waiting for too long for things to happen? Not just with bowling changes...but also using MK and even Bhajji to some extent in a defensive role?...Given the situation they came to bowl in...no reason why they didnt go for further wickets?

Worma: I suspect it was not about not trying for wickets, so much as there really is no t much help thus far for the spinners on this deck, forcing them to sit on the splice and wear the batsmen down, as opposed to toss them up and turn them out

35 over mark

Jayawardene finally coming good here -- and SL getting back into the game in this phase. From 117/2 at the end of 30 (run rate 3.9), Lanka have gone 8, 8, 9, 3 (the aberrant over coming from JPY), 10. That's a hefty 38 runs in the five over grouping, taking SL's overall run rate to 4.43, which is way more healthy. Also, this phase giving the batting side a bit of momentum, heading into the closing phase of the innings. India for the first time facing a few puzzles -- Karthik getting tap, and Bajji and Yadav have just two overs apiece left.
If the part-timers don't come in now, it just could be a bit too late; once the Lankans get into the 40th over mark, they will feel confident about going for the bowling -- part timers more so than the regulars. At this point, India needs 5, 6 overs where no more than 4 runs or so per over are being scored.

Part time options?

A rather curious omission has been the part-timers -- RD just switched JPY back on; this plus the field setting clearly indicates the Indian intent to slow the game down and force the Lankans to make the play.
Given that, there's a case to be made, really, for getting Viru Sehwag and possibly Yuvraj to bowl quick two, three over spells here; both bowl tight and full and slow, in keeping with this gameplan; five, six overs from them at this point could help India keep overs of frontline bowlers spare, in case any one of them gets tonked in a late assault in the slog phase.

30 over mark

India keeping its good work going in the field: overs 26-30 going 6, 1 (the 27th, when MK came on), 2, 5, 1. That's 15 runs in this five over phase at just 3, for a cumulative run rate at this point of 3.9.
The field remains tight -- six in the ring for the most part, a slip for Bajji as well. But the two bowlers, more than the field itself, bowling with tremendous sense. With a wicket that doesn't offer real purchase, they've been slowing the bowling down, not letting the ball come on, forcing the batsman to make the play. Karthik bowling in the late 80s, Bajji a tad faster in the mid 90s, but compensating with more variety, and a very very tight line. Thus far, full marks India -- SL *opted* to bat first, remember; to do that, and to go at under 4 at the 30-over mark, is not by any yardstick good going. The only silver lining is, SL has wickets in hand for a late assault -- trick though is in using that advantage.

Half way mark

The five overs between 21 and 25 have gone 7, 3, 8, 2, 3. Which, despite those two good overs, is still averaging out to just a tick over 4 -- a function, largely, of disciplined bowling a nice tight off cordon, with point, cover and mid off all well inside the ring, denying singles in any of those areas. India basically playing the game of choking the Lankan batting, and letting the batsmen frustrate themselves -- there is so far neither inordinate seam or undue turn to really attack with, so it is the fielders now applying the pressure, the bowlers sticking to the basics. The first half of this innings, you've got to believe, has gone to the Indians -- be interesting to see if KS can, having got set, motor along here on, and if MJ can for once translate talent into runs

What total is enough?

Deepak said... Prem,
Could it be that the SL team has figured that the wicket is going to turn later, and that a total of 240 or so will be enough, and thats why they are going slow right now, as opposed to going for the shots and getting out for less than 200 like in Mohali?

Deepak: They seem intent on keeping wickets till the end, judging by the way they are playing. IMHO, even with spin, 240 wont do it here. There's been turn on the other two tracks as well, yet India hasn't really looked troubled. They need 270 to feel good, about 20 at least more to be safe --and this is no way to get there.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

20 Overs

These last six overs have been all India's -- starting with a maiden in the 14th, the overs have gone for 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1; not at all what you want to be doing on this track, with just one wicket gone. And that pressure tells -- with a wicket off the first ball of the 21st.

Shut down and restart

Ruchir Joshi said... Prem:
Some bloggers have said that if you are locked out, shut down your PC, restart it again. That should take care of the problem. Did you try that?

Ruchir: Why not just chill, chief? I mean, guys who do this, or troll, want you to get all worked up and try all sorts of things. If I shut down and restart, it's another IP address, I get to post a few, till the hacker figures out the new IP and blocks that. Why would I want to hassle myself that way -- and play into his hands? I'm watching, it's fun, I can see what you guys have to say, when I have something to say I can post -- and I am damned if I get all sweaty over this adolescent stunt.

Why the block

Yacrik said... blocking Prem:
I don't think anyone is doing it;
it could be some security mechanism by blogspot; after so many words/letters don't let any more posts.

Chief, the same blogspot has no problems with you guys posting 2000-plus posts, but it gets antsy when *I* post on my own blog? *L* No, actually, Google knows about this problem -- trouble is, when it happens is late night, when customer service is not up and about to monitor live, and see who is doing it. Anyways.

15 overs

Just 4.38 by way of run rate -- and one obvious problem with SL here is, no singles. 24 dot balls against 9 singles for KS thus far; 26 dots and six singles MA. This, at 65/1 in 15 -- strange how, when a team is performing badly, it is in the singles that it first begins to show.

Supersubbing batsman

worma said: Prem...are you sure that supersubbing can be done mid-way through a batsman's inning?

Yes you can. You can, basically, substitute anyone at any time, with the proviso that the sub gets to fill any part of the quota, with bat or ball, of the player he replaces, that is left to the original player.

Moving running comments

worma said: Prem...do you want to try moving to Discussion Group?..or leave it for later

Let's do it for the next game, W... for now, leave things as is.

The sub-rule

Samir: You can super sub anyone at anytime. The mpire is upposed to give a time out signal. My understanding is that if Raina replaces MK after MK has finished his spell, Raina can still bowl 10 overs.

Actually, no, Samir, that can't happen. A sub can bowl any part of the quota *remaining * of the bowler he substitutes -- for instance, if MK is subbed after bowling 5 overs, the sub can bowl the other five. Alternately, if he subs say a batsman -- let's say he subs VR. He can bowl the full quota available to VR. BUt he cannot sub a bowler who has finished his quota, and still bowl. Nor can he sub a batsman who has *finished* batting, and still bat -- he can, though, sub a batsman mid innings, in case of form or injury or anything else at all.

Am out of comments field

Apparently there is this bloke who doesn't particular care for my comments on the game -- he doesn't care so much, he's taken the trouble to block me out.
Cool -- will monitor what you guys are saying, and when I have something to say, will do so as fresh posts here. Enjoy the game, guys -- not worth letting one random idiot get to you.

The incredible lightness of being Sachin...

Every other week I get a packet of newspapers from India, kindly couriered over by my colleagues in Rediff -- it's my strongest connection with home; my preferred way of staying in touch with all that is going on there.
This latest packet brought, among other things, a copy of the Times of India dated October 24, which features on the sports pages an interview of Greg Chappell, by Vinay Nayudu on the eve of the first ODI against Sri Lanka.
What I found of most interest was his response to a question on whether Sachin Tendulkar can come back from injury, and how long he will last. The full response:
To be honest, I don't think he is far away. The danger for any player is that as you grow older, you think older. If we can create the enthusiasm and the excitement for Scahin, give him challenges that he enjoys, he can be a fine player for some time to come. Once the enthusiasm is gone, once the youthful exuberance is gone, its very hard to play at this level consistently.
I can still see that youthful exuberance in Sachin. I saw it in the camp in Bangalore. When you give him something he enjoys, when he is engaged, you can see that youthful exuberance that the boy within him is still in there, and we need to see more of it.

There's other stuff in this interview worth throwing up, as a litmus of what is happening, and more importantly as something to keep in mind as the next few months unfold -- it will be interesting to see if these theories actually work. But for this post, will stay with Sachin. Elsewhere in this piece, there is a box, with Chappell's takes on Sachin, Rahul, and Saurav. Here's the bit on SRT:
Statistics don't tell the whole story. Just because somebody makes runs or takes wickets doesn't mean he is the most important member of the team. You got to look at what else people bring to the group. Some people add to it, some people take away from it. Sachin is one of thsoe guys who adds to the group. Whatever he does with the bat and the ball or in the field is multiplied by the factor of X, because of the sort of player, the personality that he is. He commands respect not just because he has made a lot of runs, but he commands respect because he is a very quality individual. As long as he can stand up, and as long as he can make runs, Sachin will be worth his place in the side because he is a quality human being.

End of quote. Chappell was also asked whether the team had redefined Sachin's role; the response was, yes, but he did not feel it necessary to tell the world about it. "It's part of a plan," was the response.
More, on his takes on Rahul, Saurav, and selection, later.

The bias(-worma)

While much of mud-slinging that BCCI faces these days has been self-inflicted, there are also enough cases of kick-them-while-they're-down. A recent allegation from Scyld Berry in Telegraph saying that the tour venues have nothing to do with policy of rotation.
The Indian board justified the venues by saying that they had a policy of rotation and that various associations take it in turns to stage home Test matches. The reality is that the board are overwhelmed by political squabbles and lawsuits. Such is their incompetence that the venues for Sri Lanka's three Tests in India in December have yet to be announced

Here's a list of last 20 test matches played in India. Do decide for yourself if you see a more-or-less fair rotation of venues or not.

Eng 1st Test in Ind 2001/02 at Chandigarh
Eng 2nd Test in Ind 2001/02 at Ahmedabad
Eng 3rd Test in Ind 2001/02 at Bangalore
Zim 1st Test in Ind 2001/02 at Nagpur
Zim 2nd Test in Ind 2001/02 at Delhi
WI 1st Test in Ind 2002/03 at Mumbai
WI 2nd Test in Ind 2002/03 at Chennai
WI 3rd Test in Ind 2002/03 at Kolkata
NZ 1st Test in Ind 2003/04 at Ahmedabad
NZ 2nd Test in Ind 2003/04 at Chandigarh
Aus 1st Test in Ind 2004/05 at Bangalore
Aus 2nd Test in Ind 2004/05 at Chennai
Aus 3rd Test in Ind 2004/05 at Nagpur
Aus 4th Test in Ind 2004/05 at Mumbai
SA 1st Test in Ind 2004/05 at Kanpur
SA 2nd Test in Ind 2004/05 at Kolkata
Pak 1st Test in Ind 2004/05 at Chandigarh
Pak 2nd Test in Ind 2004/05 at Kolkata (refused to play in Ahmedabad)
Pak 3rd Test in Ind 2004/05 at Bangalore (Delhi stadium wasn't ready)

SL three tests at Delhi, Kanpur, Chennai

Eng three tests at Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Mumbai

What I do feel is that the Kanpur test given to SL could have been swapped with the Ahmedabad test of Eng. And who knows what would be done once Eng raises the safety bogey for Ahmedabad.

My own observation on the so called 'bias' is:

1)Kanpur seems to be missing in early stages, and I think there was some question mark about Kanpur's test status for a while....can't seem to remember exact details.

2)Rotation policy seems to be applied for choosing the venue for a series as a whole. And within the series, the distribution of the matches, to me, doesn't seem to follow the rotation policy as strictly.

But Berry goes on further, in his self-created logic
If there is any cricketing intent behind the selection of Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Mumbai, it must be that the board want three grounds that can provide slow, big-turning pitches. That would play into the hands of India's spinners and make life correspondingly hard for England's quartet of pace bowlers
So, he thinks Chennai and Kolkatta are not big turners? Where we defeated the mighty Aus team in 'that' series, and more recently Pak in Kolkatta, while having a good run against Aus again in Chennai? And does he even know the history of the last test played in Nagpur?

And then there's Arjuna's allegation of giving 'second class' status to SL ODI venues!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The POMS have landed(-worma)

And they are off to the goodwill generation activities for the tour. Vaughan and some others visited the earthquake affected areas.

Meanwhile Pak have announced their 16 man squad, with no surprises to spring. The eminently readable Osman Samiuddin, in this cricinfo piece, is not very pleased.
The headline-grabbing decision will be the inclusion of five spinners; three specialist and two part-timers. Much has been made - too much perhaps? - of the part spin is likely to play in this series; Mushtaq Ahmed's recall two years after his last, depressingly flat appearance, has been and will continue to be the focal point of the argument.
and also
But another less immediately apparent, and eminently more bizarre decision, also merits remark only because it poses a greater and longer-term concern. Not very often are 16-man squads chosen with only one man who can be deemed a specialist opener. And over six Tests, Salman Butt has only twice hinted at being special.

Gradually, over the course of ten Tests, nine different opening combinations and six different players, panic has attached itself to the openers' dilemma. Partnerships that could have been developed - and even the most failed surely deserve more than two Tests together - have been shunted out. The solution, on the evidence of this squad, suggests that openers, as an entity, have ceased to exist in Pakistan; that Imran Farhat, Taufeeq Umar, Yasir Hameed are not in fact, as we have come to regard them, openers.
Nine combinations and six players in ten tests!!...and we complain about our selectors not being consistent enough ;-)

And did you know that Alex Loudon, the young English offspinner selected for his debut tour to Pak, learnt to bowl the doosra from an Indian!
"I had a friend at school called Gurikk Maan who showed me how to bowl the ball," he said. "His father was a famous Punjabi pop star, apparently on the same level as Robbie Williams in England.
I presume the singer in question here is Gurdas Maan? Anyone?

And meanwhile, the BCCI has 'promptly' announced the itinerary for the Eng series after much pushing and prodding from ECB. Must've come as a relief for the tourists. Ohh..O..hang on....I see a test match proposed for Ahmedabad. Hmm...more fireworks coming up for Diwali season I guess :-)

What can they do(-worma)

I mean the WI in Australia...what's it going to be? Holding is already clear on a 3-0 whitewash. No..not of the Collingwood 3-0 Eng against Pak variety :-). And Holding's rants are along the same lines we've been reading quite often recently. Attitude problems.
"People don't like to hear the truth but this group does not possess the right attitude to win Test matches," Holding said. "I'm concerned about their general focus. They aren't focused on their game enough, they aren't focused on representing the Windies enough."

I'm sure most of you would have read WI batsmen did pretty well against Queensland attack that had Kasper, Watson(16 ovrs for 84, no wkts) and Symond in it. Samuels, on his way to 257, broke few records...and a car. He's definitely exciting to watch, impressive right from his early days. Lara batted at number 8 because of a finger injury. He's terribly short of match practice as we saw in super series, and apparently not in good shape either.
His form after a lengthy lay-off, that had seen his 36-year-old frame pad out to the point former Test quick Jeff Thomson labeled him "fatter than Fat Albert", will be a major concern for the Windies.
But then, as we all know, this is Brian Lara we are talking about. Didn't he make a recent 'comeback' against Pak with a few runs right away ;-)

Talking of injuries, Justin Langer has a cracked rib, playing against Victoria. But no problem, he's up for the first test. Just a minor matter of handling this pain thing
"I'll definitely be playing on Thursday," he said. "I have a cracked rib, which will worry me. The thing I will have to get used to is the pain. "There's nothing I can do about it, but it won't keep me out of the team."
To me, frankly, Langer with his fighter (literally) approach and all sounds really scary! Thankfully he's not terribly gifted with the bat ;-)

In passing, Lara has a 'bat problem'...is getting more from India (yeah, as a confirmation of that story which Prem posted few days back.

The Book(-worma)

As I described sometime earlier in anticipation, the Waugh autobiography seemed like the definitive cricket book of my generation (so far :-). Even while I wait to lay my hands on a copy, one of our regulars here, Rupak Das, has already plunged into one. He has kindly agreed to share some snippets, impressions etc.

I will therefore, from time to time, keep bringing the topic back here. But I do promise not to reveal the ending and spoil the fun for you all :-))

At this stage I would also add my declaration that I have no links and/or agreements, financial or otherwise, whatsoever with the publishers of the book ;-)

First up...one of the forewards is by Rahul Dravid..who can surely be defined as one of the disciples of the Waugh School of Gritting It Out. Here's what he says on Waugh in the book.
Steve's legacy is hard to define, but I will remember him because he gave grit a good name. He proved that it is not only the pretty player who can capture the imagination, but also the tough and determined. Suddenly these qualities became as vital, as spoken about, as silken grace and sublime timing.
and another
I will remember the pain of not beating him in that last Test of his, in Sydney in January 2004, but also recall fondly his final innings in cricket against us, for it was a typical Steve Waugh innings: mind over matter, a man not in form but soldiering on, taking his team to safety.

And from the introduction section of the book, Waugh describes his early days thus...when he was very insecure as a player, unsure whether his future belonged in the sport.
Nestled among the sun-stealing skyscrapers of Hong Kong lies a small cricket ground. In 1988, this speck of greenery was the venue for a friendly match between the Australian touring team, en route back to Oz after a disastrous tour of Pakistan, and a Hong Kong XI. It was here, on perhaps cricket's most expensive piece of real estate, where I reached a point where something had to give. .... Well, I was experiencing what every sportsperson goes through at least once in his or her career - that deep, disturbing inner voice of negativity, the one that says, You aren't good enough, stop wasting your time, no more torture, take the easy option. Just fade away and be happy to lead a normal, controlled and relaxed life.

Then..going into the book...a funny story of Steve and Mark's first brush with the sport they would later grow up to conquer
Our very first official game of cricket was in many ways a disaster, and over before we realised what had happened. Not having a coach wasn't a promising start, and it was left to a group of mothers to guide the debutants of Panania-East Hills Under 10s. Not only did we
collapse to be all out for the grand total of four, which included three wides, but the Waugh boys lasted a meagre three deliveries. Mark had his stumps knocked over first ball, while I was fortunate that a full toss landed on my bat first up before I lost my stumps to the very next delivery. But it wasn't the pair of ducks or the
pitiful total that hurt us the most - it was the embarrassment of wearing our only pad on the wrong leg and the placement (by our parents) of our protectors on our kneecaps.

That's all for today...I'll keep coming back on this until the day you guys grow sick of it and cry out in pain ;-) And Rupak, thanks once again mate for the effort.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Sauce for the goose...

The Women's Cricket Association of India is yet to merge with the BCCI ('That is under consideration', said secretary SK Nair long, long ago, so long ago, no one knows how long ago) -- but it appears to have learnt some of the BCCI's good habits.
Thus, Mitali Raj has been appointed captain for the solo Test against the England women's team, and for two ODIs.
Who will lead for the other three ODIs, time will tell.
Why pick Raj for just two ODIs, no one will tell.
PostScript: Been fun, peoples, but must leave now. IA work remains -- and then a weekend of pure, complete, utter rest and relaxation. See you guys Monday, take care meanwhile.

Observed of all observers

A little exemplar of the way the BCCI goes about its business, folks. For your amusement.
He introduced himself as the Board-appointed observer for the second One-dayer between India and Sri Lanka. Still, there was no reaction.
The PCA refused to accept his appointment because it was not done by the Programmes and Fixtures Committee (PFC) - the panel authorised to nominate the observers. The committee never met and PCA believed someone sitting at the Eden Gardens did the appointments.

A balanced diet...

...is a slice of pizza in each hand. No, seriously -- check this story out, full of detail on where the team will stay, what it will eat, and much more of such, when in Pune for ODI4.
Interestingly, Taj has been told of a mandatory requirement of pizzas with tonnes of cheese that has to be delivered to the team immediately after every match — in the dressing room. ‘‘It’s a requirement sent to us officially by the BCCI — maybe it’s an instant energy provider,’’ adds Kumar.

Roebuck on Rahul

Peter Roebuck, in the Hindu, on the man who is a part of, yet apart from, the national team -- and about his successor.
First stint as captain? Previously Dravid has merely been a temporary replacement for the incumbent. As a loyalist, he has not wanted to impose his own viewpoints on the team. Rather he tried to maintain the approach instilled by Sourav.
Nothing is more unsettling for a team than a vice-captain trying to outshine his leader. Supportive senior players reinforce a captain's strengths and cover up his weaknesses. With destructive senior men it is the other way around.
As his conduct confirmed a hundred times, Dravid is not the jealous type hankering after power. Rather he is a determined but modest man happy to lead but willing to serve. In any case, his respect for his captain reflected the mood of the team and the performance of the side.
Ganguly has been a highly successful skipper. Never forget that the Bengali played his part in transforming a team that had fallen into bad habits. He turned a fractured side into a fighting unit. Ganguly's weakness has not been vanity but laziness.
Now Dravid's situation is different. Now he has the captaincy in his own right. Although nothing official has emerged from wherever Indian cricket is being run this week, or from whichever officials are currently in charge, it's clear that Dravid has become the true captain of his country.

Pawar play

Like we didn't know? IS Bindra confirms that Sharad Pawar will contest the BCCI elections, whenever. Per the story, all talk that some compromise had been worked out between the two groups is nonsensical.
Tell us the other one, mate; it's as simple as 1.2.3. Thus: 1. The elections are scheduled, and by all mathematical computation, Pawar appears to have his nose well ahead of IS Mahindra. 2. The elections are torpedoed via a salvo of cases and counter cases, walk outs, walk ins, and finally an adjournment sine die -- proposed by Dalmiya, quickly seconded by Mahindra. 3. Two days later, IS Bindra and Sharad Pawar are inducted into the BCCI's marketing committee, the most influential arm of the board (and TNCA's N Srinivasan, who once headed the committee and was summarily axed for questioning Dalmiya over the television rights, is brought back).
No compromise, of course -- just belated recognition that Bindra, Pawar and Srini are marketing whizzes. Something, though, seems to have triggered a fall out -- a week later, Pawar quit, claiming he was busy with, hold your breath, earthquake relief work; Bindra then complained that he had been left in the dark about the committee's meeting (he has also since complained that the BCCI lost Rs 44 crore on the television deal with Prasar Bharti).
Ah well -- why did I in my enfeebled state type out so many words, when three would have done the job as well: business as usual.

They also serve...

Who is Kashiram Tole, that the likes of Sunny Gavaskar and Ajay Jadeja thanked him after playing seminal knocks? Here is the story.

Fingers on your lips!

Ah, now I know why an armyman has been pressed into service as the team's media manager -- here comes the edict from the board: Shut the heck up. Or, in the more diplomatic phrasing of press releases:
The management of the Indian cricket team has decided that none of the players will undertake any media commitments for the moment.
That however excludes the captain who has to do a mandatory press conference.
"It's a collective decision of the team management and it has been taken so that the players can concentrate on the game," said Wing Commander Baladitya, Media Manager, Indian team.

Actually, not inclined to complain. Knowing how the media works, this scenario is very probable:
Eager reporter: Bajji... or Irfi... or Yuvi... what do you think of Saurav Ganguly not being picked for the next three ODIs?
Bajji... or Irfi... or Yuvi...: Pata nahin, yaar, it's the selectors' business, who knows.
ER: But do you think Saurav was a good captain?
Bajji... or Irfi... or Yuvi...: Arre haan, yaar, tha woh achcha.
Next day's report: Headline: Bajji shocked at Ganguly's exclusion
Story: Ace Indian off spinner Harbhajan Singh today said he could not understand why the selectors had refrained from picking former captain Saurav Ganguly in the team for the third, fourth and fifth ODIs against Sri Lanka.
He was a great captain, Bajji said in an exclusive conversation with this reporter. It will be recalled that it was under Ganguly that Bajji had his greatest triumph, when he emerged from obscurity thanks to his captain's strong recommendation, and repaid that faithy by spinning India to an improbable series win against Steve Waugh's unconquerables, on the threshold of the Last Frontier.
'Who knows?', Bajji sighed wistfully, when asked what he thought was the reason for the omission. It is clear that within the team, the former captain has strong support...
Ah never mind, you guys can write this sort of thing yourself. So, like I said, the gag just might be a good idea after all, huh?

Sambit on Saurav

On Cricinfo, Sambit Bal reprises a question asked often in recent times: Is this the end of the road for Saurav?
The broad picture:
It's tough not to feel for Ganguly, who has the right to feel short-changed and aggrieved, but in all fairness, it must be said that the interests of Indian cricket has not been jeopardised by his exclusion. Viewed dispassionately, it can even be described as a right step forward. For far too long, Indian cricket has remained obsessed with, and shackled by, the cult of the individual. Ganguly helped build a team that can be counted among the most competitive in India's cricket history, but a cycle has been completed and India need to build again. They need fresh talent, fresh legs and hunger. Some of the older players have to make way for the young.

The personnell equation:
At the moment, India's batting order picks itself. Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid (with the option of promoting Irfan Pathan/Dhoni/Yadav if the need arose), Yuvraj Singh, Kaif when he returns, Dhoni, and Yadav. Ganguly can only be accommodated at the expense of Yadav, but apart from affecting the balance of the team, it will also affect the batting order because it will force Kaif a slot behind. Since Kaif has been ruled out for another week, the selectors could have brought in Ganguly at the expense of either Venugopal Rao, Suresh Raina or Gautam Gambhir, neither of whom have got to bat so far, but that would have been a short-sighted approach because Kaif's return is inevitable.

And finally, what we journalists call the 'forward spin' -- the conclusion that looks forward, to tomorrow:
If India continue to win, it's difficult to see Ganguly returning to the one-day side in the near future. And the longer he stays away from the national side the harder it will be for him to find his way back.
It's difficult to imagine what Ganguly will do now. Ever since returning from Zimbabwe, he has kept his own counsel and steeled himself to regain his honour. As he showed in the Duleep Trophy match last week, he is willing to fight for his place. He is a strong-willed and passionate man and these qualities reflect in his game. But how long will he allow himself to linger in the sidelines? If India manage to beat both Sri Lanka and South Africa, will the selectors still pick him as captain in the Tests, a form in which his record has been even more indifferent than in one-day cricket?

Selectors retain same squad

This just in -- the national selectors have decided to go with the same squad for the next three ODIs. No change, which effectively means Saurav Ganguly remains, for now, out in the cold.
Intriguing -- but will refrain from comment, and keep an eye out for the first news reports, and sound bytes, to emerge.

India-SL 2nd ODI, thread 2

Here you go, guys -- should make refresh easier, for now

Slowlee, softlee, catchee monkee

John Stern, on Cricinfo, is all hot and bothered. Whyfor? Because, he says, the itinerary for the India-England series hasn't been finalized yet.
So? I mean, what's the beef -- there's 6 more ODIs against Sri Lanka to go. Then five against South Africa. Then we play Pakistan. And then we'll deal with England -- can't these guys wait their turn?
I mean, check out Stern's complaint -- shocking, I tell you:
For the first time, England supporters, in their thousands rather than their hundreds, are queuing up to go to India. Or at least they would be if they had any clue about where and when the matches would take place. India is now a hugely desirable - and exotic - destination for Brits whether they follow cricket or not.
This is not just about inconvenience and frustration for superannuated England fans wanting to spend their pensions on an exotic subcontinental holiday. Every day that passes without news is another potential holiday sale lost. British travel companies are the ones who lose out initially but what of the local economies in India that will reap the rewards of having the English cricket circus in town for a few days: the luxury hotels, restaurants, bars, shops.
Brits are a conservative lot and we like to plan ahead. Cricket supporters more so than anyone. People live by fixture calendars. "Yorkshire at Lord's? I'll take a week off." "Scarborough festival. I might call in sick that day."
Trips are already being sold to the World Cup in March-April 2007 and the Ashes in Australia. Thousands of England supporters will cash in their savings and make the trip.
There could be thousands in India but that likelihood is decreasing by the day which is a shame: for the England team and the local communities.

You know, chap, you really need to get a life? I mean, look at us: Do we have an official, duly elected board? No. Do we have an official, properly nominated selection committee? No. Do we know who our long term captain is? No. Do we know who is going to telecast the series after this? No. Do we know when we will get any of these things? No. And you think you have problems because you don't know which Indian city to book tickets to in, what, February of next year?!
Look at us -- do we worry? At the risk of repeating myself, No. We are nice and chilled out, mate -- you see, we have a culture 1000s of years old, that teaches us to take a deep breath, preferably while mimicking a lotus, and letting it all out with a whoosh. There you go, tension gone, stress gone, we are all calm and composed and reconciled to our karma. You might want to recommend it to those thousands of potential tourists waiting in line outside their friendly neighborhood travel agent's.

India vs SL - 2nd ODI - Open Thread

Seems like not many people are up for this one?...or maybe the alarms are set to go off anytime now ;-)

Chalo...see you all's sleepy faces in the thread...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

*LOL* @ Freddy

An autobiography, I was told, is the life story of a person, written by the person himself. Here's an interesting 'autobiography', now -- where the person concerned not only didn't write it, but apparently is yet to read it himself.
No, but seriously, this new phenomenon of instant books to take advantage of some player being 'hot' is in danger of producing a chronic aversion to cricket literature.

Cow jumps over the moon

Or, at least, ticket prices do. Apparently the Rajasthan Cricket Association has priced premium seats for the third ODI at Rs 1.25 lakh -- and they are all gone, says Lalit Modi.
Check out some of the other ticket rates referenced in this article -- then think on this; with this kind of money to be made (and ticket sales are the very small tip of an enormous iceberg), why be surprised that everybody and his uncle wants to be BCCI president -- and the incumbent group doesn't want to budge?

Bindra's dream

In many ways, Mohali is -- to borrow from movie terminoloty -- Inderjit Singh Bindra's showreel; it is what he showcases as an examplar of what he can do as a cricket administrator.
And it's a fairly good showreel at that: Mohali has to rank as the best managed stadium in the country, with arguably the best infrastructure for teams, the media and, most importantly, the fans who are so shamefully neglected at other venues (tried taking a loo break during a game? You'll probably return to your seat in time for the presentation ceremony.)
Now comes news that Bindra is dreaming even bigger dreams -- to wit, a retractable roof over Mohali. Worth pointing out, too, that the PCA is the only state association that feels the need to plan ahead, to encapsulate those plans in periodic vision staments -- and to actually deliver on what it sets out to do.
Oh, and by the way, divorce seems to follow on the heels of a brief honeymoon. Baby steps towards rapprochment were seemingly taken when Dalmiya heaped praise on Bindra's administrative skills and roped him into the marketing committee; that ended with Bindra alleging the committee had bypassed him in its meeting, and suggesting that Rs 44 crore had been lost thanks to the handing over of telecast rights to Prasar Bharti. Another battle being fought was over the Challenger Trophy accounts; the BCCI asked for it the other day, and now Bindra responds.

Harsha, Shoaib and a few others

Harsha screams Yaahooo in his write-up after India demolished the Lankans at Nagpur. Of course, most of it was on Tendulkar's resurgence as a batting bully. He suggests that the maestro's problems were in his mind.

It happens to the best. The mind is made up and instinct is buried. We seek to become conformists, from making the rules we bow to them. Sometimes we grow weary with battle, the next conquest becomes daunting. We start looking at obstacles rather than opportunities, worry about getting out rather than think of scoring runs; once again we see the fielders not the gaps between them.

I for one think that it was Tendulkar's physical problems which made him prolong his cautious approach to batting. The injury so obviously hampered his ability to play some of his best shots and reluctant as he might have been, Sachin was forced to curtail his agressive approach.
Something I like about Harsha's columns is his optimism and I thought this was lacking in recent times. Hopefully, the coming days will continue to provide him (and us ) with more joy.

Elsewhere, Shoaib continues his life in normal fashion. His latest grievance is against someone who remarked on his unchanging attitude to discipline, using the analogy of a dog's tail that never straightens.

"This TV channel aired derogatory remarks against me without any rhyme and reason and tomorrow they can also do so against my country. I will fully pursue litigation against this TV channel instead of accepting an apology from them."

It is funny how people resort to grandiose arguments when they have nothing else to put forward. Shoaib in this case seems to think that Pakistan as a country is under threat from unsuspecting ESPN. I say, Pakistan will be well served if he is engrossed with the litigation processes and misses the England series as a result.

WI suffered their first casuality when Wavell Hinds fractured his little finger. Devon Smith will now accompany Gayle at the top. The team desperately needs Lara to fire on all cylinders and the rest to provide able support if they are to pose any kind of challenge to the Australians.

Finally, in the Guardian, Mike Selvey writes on the Englishmen touring Pakistan. The article is a day old but Inzi's fitness and training methods under Miandad's able tutelage are particularly interesting.

It all bypassed Inzy, who had yet to leave the airconditioning of the dressing room. Fielding drills followed, during which he emerged, tracksuited and padded up. He wandered across to a large wicker chair by the nets and slumped down to observe the efforts of his team-mates.
Then came a net session that he also viewed nonchalantly for a while before deciding it was time for a spot of batting. So he unzipped his top, removed it, placed his green Pakistan helmet on his head, and strolled into the nearest net, where for 20 minutes he proceeded to bat like a prince, before deciding enough was enough. Out he came, collecting his extraneous gear on the way, and disappeared back to the dressing room, not to be seen again. Next day, of course, he made a century.

I wonder if Inzi is given the same kind of treatment with Woolmer in charge.

Lankan experiments

Sri Lanka, it says here, could up Kumar Sangakarra to the top of the batting lineup. Interesting option actually -- KS is a freewheeling player, his pairing with Sanath Jayasuriya could give tremendous momentum at the top of the order (and reprise the SJ-Kaluwitharana opening pair of earlier); it also permits Marvan Atapattu to bat down the order and, rather than look for quick runs at the top, play the anchor role.
Elsewhere, Mohammad Kaif has been asked to sit out the next three ODIs as well; which among other things could make a Saurav Ganguly return almost certain IMHO.
Meanwhile Dravid, here, seems to suggest that the experimentation, with short term and long term goals in mind, is set to continue.

More links

In the International Herald Trib, this piece by the former Hindu frontman, on the charms of Test cricket pegged on the upcoming contest between Pakistan and Australia.
Elsewhere, police apparently have presented the PCA with a tab for providing security; Rs 7.3 million being the figure mentioned. New one on me, I thought the police provided security for international fixtures as a matter of course. Sets an interesting precedent, this -- how about the police, when next national political leaders go campaigning, presenting them with bills for guarding their skin?
Business Standard has an editorial on the decision to force private broadcasters to share feeds with DD; bad economics and bad in principle, is the verdict.
And in passing, Victoria is being investigated for ball tampering

Arjuna's latest column

The former Lankan skipper, in his latest column, is a bit scathing about Lanka's tactics in the Nagpur ODI, especially the use of leg spinners to a left hander. Like many others who have commented on the game, Arjuna seems quite taken by Dravid's captaincy.
His captaincy too conveyed a man who had come well prepared to the middle. He brought on his spinners at the precise moment and his field placements were thoughtful. It also appeared to me that the team backed him to the hilt. He made a great statement of intent and India seem ready to leap into the arms of future.
Elsewhere, he raises a question about his own team:
The old bogey of being poor travellers would raise its head again. In recent times, we have truly believed in the intrinsic value of this side which is not subject to the conditions in which they are playing.
They have risen to number two in world rankings on merit and better things looked in store. Now the old doubts will resurface again.

Meanwhile, a mixup appears to have caused the Lankans to be tagged as poor losers; not our fault, says the touring side's manager.

Magnetic poles

One thing the recent fuss about captaincy and related issues has done, seemingly, is to polarise large chunks of the media into pro- and anti- camps. Arun Sivasankaran, in the Hindustan Times, wears his heart on his sleeve; it's pretty hard to miss his inclinations and preference in this piece.
It is just one match of a long series, and so much can happen before the series is played out, but Indian cricket seems to have hit upon the right man. Dravid is never going to let the world know how much hair he has on his chest, and one can safely assume that he will play within the rules, both the mental games as well as the real ones on the field, but he lacks nothing by way of passion. Don't go by the soft looks.
It is not usual for a bowler to be taken off after he had taken an important wicket in his last over, but that is just what Dravid did with Sehwag who had lured Sangakkara into hitting a return catch. With a right-hander coming into the middle, it made sense to deny him the opportunity to hit with the spin. In an age when captaincy by rote is the rule; here was a leader actually dictating play in the middle, knowing just when to press hard and when to wait for things to happen. Surely, the selectors are not going to bring back Sourav as captain, not after watching such an assured and mature display.

The RD-GC factor

Ram Mahesh, in the Hindu, is reasonably ecstatic about the thought processes underlying India's success at Nagpur.
While captaincy can be made to look better (or worse) in hindsight, all these moves combined cricketing principles and refreshing thought. They were the consequences of an accurate reading of the track, the understanding of the possibilities of the change of pace, and the ability to abstain from too much of a good thing.
Disparate elements congeal under the binding unity of success. And success is a house of cards — properly built, it can resist concrete blocks, but one card askew can bring it all down. The victory under Dravid and Chappell has promising signs. Nothing more, however, should be read into it than just a good beginning. A different spin of the coin would have set tongues wagging.

I agree with that cautionary note -- what I am in fact looking forward to is a bit of adversity, a phase of play where the match threatens to go the other way. In the way the captain and coach responds at such a point will, perhaps, lie a better indication of how this combination is shaping.

For your shopping list...

...a book worth considering: My Way, the Jaisimha biography. Given the nature of the man, and of the era he played in, this could be well worth a read; am asking friends in India to send me a copy, more on it once I get hold of the book itself. Oh, btw, there is also a reference here to yet another book on Sachin.

Dew diligence

While I get myself breakfasts and things, a couple of links to be going on with: One, a preview by Anand Vasu of the second game versus Lanka at Mohali; the other a take by Rahul Dravid on the nature of experimentation, and Sehwag's batting form among other issues. From the preview, this:
With temperatures dropping markedly after sunset, dew will play a big factor. The average daily high has been approaching 30 degrees, while the low has gone down to 14 degrees. This means there is sure to be a generous coating of dew by the time the second innings begins. This will make it extremely difficult for the spinners to grip the ball, and could also result in frequent ball changes, which means the fast bowlers have to adjust to spheres of varying hardness and age. Add to this the fact that the lights in Mohali are different from the ones conventionally used in cricket stadia and you have a sizeable challenge on your hands fielding second. The pylons that house the lights are much shorter than the regular ones since Mohali is close to an airforce base, and strict regulations govern the height of constructions. This makes it difficult to pick up the ball in the case of a high catch as it heads over the line of the lights before it descends.

The lights in Mohali have always been an issue, no surprises there. The dew is the other factor being spoken of; they say it will be 'heavy' -- question being, how heavy? If we are looking at the regular Indian evenings-type dew, much of this will be academic. But if it is really heavy, the one other factor not spoken of here is what it could do to the pitch: on a hardtop, which is what curator Daljit Singh seems to be speaking about, it could provide just that extra juice, slickness, making the ball skid through; am wondering if any of you who watched the Challengers spotted anything of the kind?

The West Indies tour of Australia

The West Indies tour of Australia may not be as exciting as Ashes(that's not saying much, is it :-) or even the England tour of Pakistan....but still it may not be another steam-rolling assignment for Australia as it used to be.

The reason for my 'optimism'? Well...WI has had pretty good batsmen for a while...and now, to me, their bowling lineup also looks exciting, going by their last few series performances. Powell and Bravo did well in the tour match against Queensland which had Hayden, Love, Symond, Maher, Watson in the lineup. And they have Lawson waiting in the wings. So...an attack low in experience, but quite high in sheer pace, talent and capability to rattle the batsmen.

Another reason being that Aus batting, despite their show of recovery in the Super Test, is still looking a bit shaky...and the new strategy of playing Watson instead of a specialist batsman has also weakened the lineup. Speaking of which, Aus have almost finalised their playing XI by declaring Bracken as the twelth man instead of Hodge. It would be a toss-up between McGill and Bracken for the final spot..and IMO its gonna be McGill since its highly unlikely of Aus to play five bowlers(including Watson) with 4 seamers.

Ofcourse, we need to see how much, and how soon, can the West Indies players come together as a team after their despute settlement. And then, there's this minor matter of the form of this gentleman called Lara :-)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Lankan reaction

Trevor Chesterfield, in the Express, has the view from the Lankan side of the fence on the first ODI.
If you take a clinical look at the way India went about the decimation act, it was impressive. Tendulkar, relaxed and smiling, ripping into the Lankan bowling that honestly had no way of defending itself against such an onslaught, was impressive enough.
How do you curb such tactics? Certainly not by extending the powerplay option. This is where Atapattu made a calculated error. Dravid was quick to spot how to shut down the Sri Lanka run-rate when he brought on the spinners, Harbhajan and Murali Kartik.
That was smart thinking all right. Atapattu persisted with the medium-fast bowlers for far too long. It was asking for trouble as well, and waiting, it seemed, for the batsmen to lose patience. Sachin knows how to set targets, so does Dravid. But instead of shutting down Pathan, runs were fed to him.

Add to this, Lanka has been extremely reluctant to shed its patented gameplan of using a succession of slow-slower-slowest bowlers, in the mid overs, who bowl to fields set with a predominant bias one side or the other and choke the opposition. Works beautifully on Lankan pitches prepared so that the ball rarely comes above the knee roll, but it's a recipe for trouble on more conducive batting tracks -- and thus far, I've seen no sign of a Plan B.

Pitch news

In Indian Express, a story on the conditions in Mohali; actually, those of you who watched the Challenger series should have some insight into what awaits the teams.

Sunny daze

Sunny Gavaskar the batsman is someone worth venerating (though a Michael Holding or two have contrary opinions). Gavaskar the former star, now 'player' in a different game, is frankly execrable.
His latest column is perfect Sunny; the writing of a guy who talks of the need for team unity, yet does his bit towards factionalism; a guy who, judging by the fine balance of this piece, is testing the prevailing winds and preparing to shift allegiances with it.
Sorry, but what annoys me about the guy is his desire to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. Thus, he will strenuously, in public, defend Saurav Ganguly's batting skills; in private, as he did at Nagpur when the Aussies came visiting, he will joke (to, among others, touring selector on that occasion Allan Border) that Ganguly was sitting out of the Nagpur Test because of a bad attack of 'greenwicketitis' (his phrase, mind, as told to Allan Border, and two other members of the Aussie camp).
Ah well -- I guess when you are a 'legend', you can get away with anything.
PS: This is not a cue for more pro and anti Ganguly stuff, do note. Ganguly is merely tangential to the story. Here, to reinforce the point, is another one. When Abey Kuruvilla was dropped, Sunny G wrote a blistering column criticising the selectors; very well argued it was, too. A few days later, he was at the ICC, and someone asked him about Abey, and told him good job, good that you told the selectors off, Abey is a good bowler... to which SG chipped in with 'Yes, he is a good bowler -- for opposing batsmen to get runs against.'

Viru the one-dayer

Sreeram Vira, on Cricinfo, has a take on Viru Sehwag's one day blues.
Michael Slater, the aggressive former Australian Test opener, had an impressive Test record averaging 42.83 but would spontaneously combust at the crease in ODIs, managing a dismal 24.07 in 42 matches.
Likewise, Sehwag's ODI average of 31.86 from 128 matches pales in comparison against the figure of 55.32 in Tests. And it's not as if one could shrug off the failure as an aberration, or even attribute it to the pressures of international cricket. Even at the domestic level, the story is repeated. In 188 limited-overs matches, Sehwag averages 31.69 as opposed to 53.95 in the first-class arena. Slater's statistics were similarly skewed.
This strange dichotomy is rather fascinating. Why does a natural striker like Sehwag flounder in an environment where he should thrive? Sehwag offered an explanation for it, saying that he had more success in Tests because he could afford to take his time, but in one day cricket he felt that he could not do the same.

Duly noted, Irfan Pathan

S Dinakar, in the Hindu, has a take on Pathan's all-round utility, and consequently his value to the Indian lineup.
It's way, way too early to start mentioning him in the same breath as Kapil Dev -- but I must confess I'm personally glad of the innings at the VCA. In fact, glad of Pathan, period. Faisal and I had on Rediff argued Pathan's case a good year or more before he actually broke through; we felt then that he had the bowling to become an integral member of the squad.
Then there was the Pak tour of India, last year -- when his bowling seemed to fall apart. What was noticeable then, though, was his approach at the batting crease -- there was none of the awkwardness of the tailender. Take say Jason Gillespie, who has the knack of playing obdurate innings and keeping his end up. For all that, he looks the part of the tailender, standing indeterminate while the ball is in the air, then awkwardly jabbing his bat down at the last moment to keep the ball out of the stumps. You see none of that with Irfan -- the lad addresses the ball like a batsman would, with a confident move onto front foot or back; the back lift, address and follow through are all out of the batting, as opposed to tail-end, manuals.
Which is when I began arguing a case for pushing this lad to maximise his batting potential; it's good (inevitable, too, I guess) that the likes of Sachin, Rahul and Greg Chappell seem to be pushing him in that direction.
A friend, discussing the game on phone yesterday, pointed out that his promotion working was a 'fluke', that you can't expect that to happen all the time. Of course you can't -- but then, on another day, Sachin's edge when he charged Vaas would have gone to the keeper, not past him; one of Dravid's freewheeling slaps into the long off region will go to the fielder, not over his head and over the ropes...
So, sure, another day Pathan might not make runs; goes for everybody, though. The thing to focus on though is that he has the potential to play a role with the bat; hopefully, the thing tank will push him in that direction even more in course of this series.


With Ruchir, as always, weighing in with a comprehensive roundup, I can afford to take time off for house cleaning (and also factoring in the visit, here, of our CEO).
I need to check out the discussion group, which a friend, Arjun Swarup, kindly added on to the blog platform as a means of extending its utility -- will do that, today.
In the interim, wanted to point to two links I have added to the sidebar, both to blogs.
The first is H Natrajan, Natty, a long time friend from Mumbai days. He's been in the cricket space for so long, 'introducing him would be presumptuous.
The other is John Cook, a blogger from Brisbane; his intro is best done in his own words:
I've had a long and proud cricket career, opening the bat for the Alexandra Hills Under 12's and Under 14's. My career highlight was winning the club's "Most Improved" award two years running. Unfortunately, at that point, I stopped improving and made the prudent decision to retire at 17 (when the bowlers started getting fast).
Since then, I've been a keen and passionate follower of the Australian cricket team. I religiously stayed up all night to watch the 2005 Ashes series (apart from the times when I got tired and fell asleep). For a while now, I've been dying for somewhere or someone to vent my cricket obsession to. Whenever I start a conversation with my wife with something like "You'll never guess what Warnie just did...", her eyes glaze over. So here are my thoughts, comments and links to cool websites and articles I happen to bump into.
Note - as an avid Aussie cricket fan, I don't claim in anyway to be impartial, informed or even rational. On the contrary, I'll take every opportunity to go the sledge in true Aussie tradition (and reserve the right to sink the boot into my own team when they're not up to scratch).

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Eng in Pak: some updates(-worma)

With most of the discussion around the Indian match already done(and likely to continue) I thought maybe its a good idea to change focus a bit..

So Vaughan has this to say about their prospects of facing spin attack in Pak(emphasis mine):
"I would be very surprised if we go to Pakistan and it doesn't spin. But we have become decent players of spin over the last few years," said Vaughan. "Look at the World XI team (in the recent ICC Super Test in Australia) and the success Stuart MacGill and Shane Warne (both leg spinners) had against the best players in the world. That shows what success we had against Warne. He managed to take 40 wickets but we took him for a few an over."
Can someone please update me what's he talking about?...I must've been dream-watching another Ashes in a parallel universe! Read the full article here.

And other update..Akhtar's chances seem to have brightened after he did a reasonably impressive workout in the nets, showing a couple of days late for training (so what...didn't he still grace the occasion?..some people never appreciate small mercies ;-)

Akhtar's slated to play the practice game against the visitors. With Mushtaq Ahmed also lined up for that game, the balance of Pak attack, and therefore its strategy, may be hanging on that show...although IMO they are not considering Mushtaq seriously since Woolmer has already announced Malik as the opener, and Afridi would most likely play, since his performance in last two test series has been pretty impressive.

Sri Lanka innings thread

Here you go, guys, for the second half of the game. Will monitor this thread, and when I have something to say, put it up as a separate post.

Picture perfect

Dravid couldn't have found a better time to return to form; that knock was reminiscent of one he played (against vastly superior pace bowling, admittedly) in SA on India's debut tour there.
But for me, singles have been the single barometer of the team's health; the fours and sixes we hit anyways. Judged by that yardstick, this is the best I've seen in a long while.
SRT 37 singles and 4 twos to 43 dot balls; Pathan 29 singles to 28 dots; Dravid 28 singles to 16 dots; Yuvraj eight of each plus a two; Dhoni 12 singles to 10 dots; Yadav 3 singles, no dot balls.
When the team does that, it invariably piles up a huge score -- the singles provide the skin, the fours and sixes come as the stuffing (and you can tell Thanksgiving is approaching).
350 should do it easy; more so with an extra spinner in Karthik. What will be interesting is the kind of fields that are set, the way India plays the game on the field -- and, frankly, the bowling of Sreeshant.
Someone asked for a new thread -- will start one here for the Lankan innings.
PS: An addendum. A recent problem has been the way the team has mismanaged the last ten overs. Check this out -- India after 40, 250/4 at 6.25. In the overs following, rpo has been 7, 11, 8, 7, 6, 5, 16, 12, 10, 18; the result, the innings ends with the scoring rate a perfect 7.