Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review of 3rd and 4th ODI

Hello friends,

So India cannot win or tie the ODI series as well. With one match to go, England have won the series after the tie in the 4th game. The only consolation for us Indian fans is that the ODI series will not be a complete whitewash, like the tests and T20 were, thanks to the tied game. It will give us a little more joy if India can win the last ODI. Lets hope for the best.

Frankly, I dont know what to write these days in my blog. The Indians are looking miserable with the bat, ball and in the field on this tour. At the Oval, on a good batting track, they did not have the patience and skill to see out the first 10 overs and were 25 for 4 before Anderson's first spell ended and had to fight themselves out of a hole yet again. It is to their credit as an ODI team that they were able to get even 234 in the end. It was nice to see Jadeja perform well in the 2 games he played. He was able to provide the vital 5th bowler option and he also seems to have worked on his batting, especially the pacing of his innings. When he used to be part of the Indian team earlier, he would bat very slowly in such situations and cause frustration to everyone. But now, probably thanks to the surplus of T20s, he does not get bogged down at the crease and looks to score constantly. On the evidence of what I have seen from him in this series, I think he is a good candidate to keep in the rotation and can be useful in the future.

It is sad to see Virat Kohli struggle in England as he did in the WI tests. I hope he comes good in the final ODI as I see him as one of the people who will form the nucleus of our batting in the future at least in ODIs, if not in all formats. This is where I regret that cricketers these days have very little down time and are playing constantly through the year. It is obvious looking at Kohli that some time in the nets under the guidance of an able coach will help him, but look at his schedule for the rest of this year. After playing the last ODI on Sept 16th, he dashes back to India to play the first game of the Champions League T20 on 23rd. After the CLT20, he will play in the ODI series against England in October. It is only after this series, that he can go back to the nets at NCA or wherever and correct the faults that have crept into his technique.

Cricket calendars are only going to get more crowded going forward, so it is very important that the boards recognize this and balance player workload in order to see more even contests. Lets hope the BCCI develop a pool of about 20 cricketers and follow the rotation policy that teams like Australia adopted successfully when they were at the top.

I am now waiting for this series to end, and looking forward to watching some tension-free cricket in the CLT20. The last 2 months have been painful from an Indian cricket fan perspective, so I would welcome the CLT20 where I can watch cricket without getting too caught up in the results and performances of particular teams.

I see that you guys are also bored with the England series and have probably already moved on to other things, considering that there was no comment on my previous post :)

I will keep this blog alive with regular posts during the CLT20, so stay tuned and keep adding your comments.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review of first 2 ODIs

Hello friends,

After 2 ODI matches, England lead 1-0. It could have been 1-1 if rain had not played spoilsport in the first game. The second one India lost due to lack of teeth in the bowling department. One positive note about the 2 ODIs so far is, the batsmen have improved and are setting good, competitive totals. Though I am still getting the feeling that they are not performing to full potential and we are giving wickets to England bowlers pretty easily. There is virtually no contribution from numbers 8 to 11 which is putting additional pressure on the top 7 batsmen, particularly Raina and Dhoni as they come at 6 and 7 and must be having it in the back of their head that if they go early, India will fold pretty quickly. In spite of that, it is nice to see Raina back to the muscleman mode that he displays only in limited overs matches.

Another positive and pleasing thing to see is the way Parthiv and Rahane are batting at the top of the order. Parthiv is batting quite well at the moment and is looking to take the attack to the England bowlers which, as I have been saying all tour, is the way to handle them and give them stuff to think about. Rahane has played 3 eye-catching knocks so far and it is nice to see him come good. He looks to be someone to definitely keep in the radar for the future in all formats. His shots, though played in the air at times, have an aesthetic look to them and dont look ugly at all, while being very effective. He appears to know where his field is and looks to attack at every opportunity, which is nice to see. I am sure he does not play in this manner in the longer format and has adopted this approach only for the shorter format. Rahul is also looking to hit more in the air and in the gaps, possibly a positive influence of the IPL on his batting.

It is the bowling which worries me. There is a sameness to the attack as far as speed is concerned with all the pacers operating in the 120-130 kmph range and looking to do the similar things in their bowling, like relying on impeccable length and line and a little wobble to keep the batsmen quiet and thereby, buy wickets. I think this is where someone like Varun Aaron needs to be brought in for the extra speed he provides. We are already down 1 game with only 3 more to come, so it would not hurt at all to try Aaron in the next game and see what he can provide. The England batsmen were always looking to attack the pacers and had no reservations about going down the track and hitting across the line. So it would be nice if Aaron can come in and bowl a few bouncers that whiz past the heads of the England batsmen. Also the lack of a proper fifth bowler is killing us. Lets see what Ravindra Jadeja can provide here. I am not a fan of Jadeja, but if he can contain the batsmen a bit and create some pressure with his bowling and in the field, I will forgive him even if he does not score too many or if he scores slowly as he has done in the past.

Lets hope for a full game in the third and remaining ODIs. I still believe this Indian team can challenge the England team over a full match of 100 overs. Before I end, I want to make a mention of Dhoni's captaincy which has really fallen apart in this tour. Some of his decisions on the field and in the team selection are very baffling to me, like the choice of the 3 pacers and the reluctance to use Ashwin earlier in the previous match. Granted that Ashwin's first over went for 16 runs, but he did bowl 2-3 dot balls even in that over. Dhoni used Kohli for a couple of overs and even tried Raina before Ashwin was brought back. When he came back, he took 2 wickets and gave only 27 from his next 4 overs. I believe he should have come back sooner and could have made a difference. Such simple mistakes are what I am seeing in this Dhoni and that worries me. I think it is time for Dhoni to be forced into a break and some thought needs to be given to his place in the test team. If he has to play the Champions League this month (and I suspect he does, because he is the main box office draw for CSK), then he should not play the ODI series against England that follows. Lets hope the BCCI folks show some sense and force Dhoni to take significant time away from the game.

Now lets see what you guys think. Do you believe India can still win this series or even one game ? Do you agree that the bowling needs to be changed a bit and that Dhoni needs to get away from cricket ? My next post will be after the third ODI, so stay tuned.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Review of T20 and preview of ODI series

Hello friends,

After creating some hope in us fans about a possible turnaround in the limited overs series, India lost again in familiar fashion in the T20 match yesterday. The sad part was the manner of defeat that brought back all the memories of the test series. The defeat was caused once again by inept batting that could not even last 20 overs.

The England bowling attack for the T20 was not as threatening as in the tests. Bresnan and Broad did not bowl well at the start and thanks to Rahane and Dravid, India were sitting pretty at 105 for 1 after 11 overs. Once again, the downfall was not caused by good bowling, but bad batting. It almost seems as if these guys have a mental block against any bowler wearing an England shirt. If that is the case, England are going to thrash us in the ODI series as well because Anderson will be back and they will be fielding almost the same attack as in the tests.

It was so nice to see Rahane doing well in his first game in India colors. He appears to be a batsman in the classic mode, but with the modern mindset that is caused by IPL and a profusion of limited overs cricket that is the norm these days. That means, he does not hesitate to hit over the top, but his classic upbringing means that he will not hit out recklessly. In other words, he appears to be a batsman from the Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir.school of batting. This augurs well for India in the future. He needs to be kept in the rotation. I did not see him field, but since he is only 23 years old, I hope he will be a good, athletic fielder because we need such fielders in the ODI series to prevent England from controlling the middle overs.

Coming to the ODIs, Sachin will obviously walk in to the line-up and that means, Parthiv will have to go. I want to see Rahane open with Sachin as that would be an invaluable experience for the young man and will help him and India enormously in the long run. After that, we have Virat (batting at his favorite number 3 position), Rohit, Raina and Dhoni followed by the bowlers. One cause for concern is that this means we will go in with 4 regular bowlers and have to rely on Raina, Rohit and Virat for completing 10 overs. Coming to that, it was obvious that India were going to struggle with the fifth bowler quota in the T20, so it was baffling to see that Dhoni did not give Raina even 1 over, even after Rohit went for 16 runs in his only over. I dont know if Raina was injured, but if not, it is another mistake by Dhoni the captain.

Anyway, regarding the bowling, I would like to see Aaron or Mishra in the line-up instead of Vinay for the first ODI. If the track is relatively quick, Aaron should play simply to see whether he can rattle the England batsmen a bit with his pace. If it is slow and devoid of grass, then Mishra should be given a go. Mishra is a better bowler than his bowling analysis from the last test indicate. With Ashwin also playing, Mishra could be expected to up his game and challenge Ashwin for the spinner's slot since he is a competitive cricketer who likes to fight. That leaves PK and Munaf as the 2 pace bowling options. Seeing Munaf operate yesterday, especially his last 3 overs, it was another miss by Dhoni to ignore him completely for the test matches instead preferring to give 3 chances to Sreesanth and even playing RP Singh over Munaf at the Oval.

For India to win matches in the ODI series, Sachin has to bat long. When Sachin does that, we look so much better as a batting side and all the others perform above potential as well. Lets hope Sachin gets his 100th century and can win us at least 2 games on his own.

Lets hear it from you guys now. What do you think should India's lineup be for the first ODI and the others ? Do you think India will be more competitive in the shorter format ? For me, it all boils down to how they tackle the 3 England pacers in the mind. If they can throw away the demons of the test series, they will do well, otherwise I see another miserable series with the bat for India. Lets hope for the best.

My next post will be after the first ODI, so stay tuned.