Monday 14 April 2008

Well Played South Africa, Welcome IPL

“Wait till you come to the West Indies maan. Our pitches will be too hot to handle.”

That was the gist of what, a justifiably furious Viv Richards said to the Indian team, as India leveled the 4 test series, one all, at Madras in 1988. West Indies were already one up in the series, by the virtue of their win in Delhi, where they skittled out the Indian team for paltry 75 runs. To compound the woes for India, the captain and easily their best batsman, Dilip Vengsarkar, was ruled out of the final test due to an injury.

If the plot bears an uncanny similarity to the one played at Kanpur, then India’s response was even more identical. Throw an under prepared track, make the ball turn from day one, finish the match in three days and level the series one all!

I have no inkling if the South African skipper Graeme Smith has issued any veiled threat to the Indians on the type of pitches they would encounter on their next tour, but he must be ruing his team’s failure, for, chasing a series win in India is a bit like chasing mirage in Thar desert. Ask the West Indies who are still looking for one, twenty years on.

Having played great cricket all through the series, as also in the lead up to it, I thought the South African camp should have seen it coming. Sometimes it helps to have a better sense of history, a lesson they will not forget in hurry.

No such worries for the India captain though. He intelligently opened the bowling with Harbhajan in SA’s second innings. Again, I am not aware if Dhoni is a keen follower of Indian cricket’s history, but if he were to be one, he would find another instance when an off-break bowler opened the bowling for India. The year was 1967 and Gary Sobers was leading the West Indian team that included the likes of Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith. Making a complete mockery of fast bowling was the Indian opening pair of Ajit Wadekar and ML Jaisimha who bowled all of three overs between them at Bombay, only to let the more celebrated spinners in Chandra, Venkat, Durrani and Bapu Nadkarni to take over.

To conclude, India has leveled the series despite South Africa playing better cricket. For me, more than the fact that India has retained its number two ranking in the ICC test championship, it is the reinforcement of MS Dhoni as a future test captain and the sight of Ishant Sharma consistently rattling the opposition timber that holds so much promise for the future.

This series was played in the afterglow of India’s successful tour in Australia and also under the shadow of forthcoming Indian Premier League. A combination of other factors like injuries to key players, quality of pitches, an empty stadium and absence of live telecast in many parts of India added to the general lack of enthusiasm.

Cometh 18th April and all that will be a thing of past…..

17 comments:

Ottayan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ottayan said...

Dhoni is a bold Captain. Will he continue in the same vein after a couple of defeats?

Straight Point said...

could not agree more on dhoni and ishant...CG

but somehow i worry that how quickly ishant is seen as india's pace spear head...(though no problem with ishant he deserve every bit of it)...

but it says a lot about our current pace bowlers? what say?

Som said...

Guru, you think the the turn on offer at Green Park did more damage than the uneven bounce there? I think SAfrica played spin pretty okay, but it was the uneven bounce that did them in. They are not dud against spin. I think it was those deliveries that kicked off like an ill-tempered mule that sowed the seed of doubt in the batsmen's mind, irrespective of which side you belong to.

Cricket Guru said...

Can't see why he won't, Otty.

In fact couple of defeats early on would stand him in good stead i future.

He backs his instincts, like by bowling Joginder Singh in T20 WC. But he is not stupid to the point of including the bowler in the ODI team!

SP,

That's the thing about genuine fast bowlers. Like a fluent left handed batsman they make an immediate impression.

As for our current crop of fast bowlers, I think they all were taking a much needed rest to be fit for the lucrative IPL! ;)

Cricket Guru said...

Welcome Som,

Frankly, I did not watch any of the test matches live, due to non availability of feed. That probably explains why my posts throughout this series were not player/innings specific.

The Proteas have a better track record in India and they are at par with Australia in the number of test wins (4 each) in last 12 years.

There might be some merit in your arguement.

The point I am/was trying to make is that this pitch was underprepared to ensure an Indian victory. It behaved contrary to Kanpur track that we know.

Many would debate whether this is indeed the bad part of it, though.

scorpicity said...

The only annoying part was when dhoni presented the curator 10 grand and congratulated him with harby also joining the act praising him for a "sporting pitch".

Soulberry said...

Nice CG, you have an eye for repetition of history.

SA played good cricket upto 152-1 in this series.

I felt they made the mistake of thinking too much about the pitch like the Indian players did at Motera. That made them negative in their approach here and the dropped catches were an evidence of that state.

Those four wickets on day one were for me the turning point. Kallis and Prince, the backbone of SA's subcontinental success didn't fire in this series.

I couldn't watch this series live in a cohesive manner either and relied on highlights. My impressions of it are therefore clipped.

There was also so much of cricket in the past few months, it has become cacophonous. This series was over before it began to settle in.

I don't know what IPL will be like, there is a limit to how much T20 action one can watch, which is not saying it shouldn't be there for there will be someone or the other watching somewhere, but I felt ICL was able to project the sincerity of its purpose.

I'd be curious to see if the same exists in IPL which is essentially a retort to a reaction. I hope the film stars will eventually move on from the field after they've had their share of limelight and sit in the stands to watch some cricket with all of us.

Live Eyes said...
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Live Eyes said...

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Q said...

Dhoni had a few defeats in the ODI series against Australia last Sept / Oct. It didn't worry him..he got bolder in fact.

I think Indian cricket had a great future ahead of them. Esp in the ODI / 20-20 form.

Naked Cricket said...

a recent tehelka piece reveals msd has no interest in cricket history. and barely watches live games.

Cricket Guru said...

Scorpi,

It appears this is quote a common practice on the part of skippers. Anil Kumble gave a smal part of players' kitty to the curator at Ahmedabad too.

SB,

Thanks.

Well, I did not watch ICL matches in detail. But they did put up a good show in the inaugural year.

As for the IPL, the only thing I am worried is the 42 day long schedule. As you rightly said, how much of T20 can one watch afterall?

Welcome, Live eyes.

Q,

Exactly my words.

Gaurav,

One would have guessed so. Atleast he won't go as far as Sehwag's famous Vinoo Mankad? Who? remark!

Anonymous said...

How can you call a pitch underprepared when the first innings score was 265 and 325 ?????

The devil was not in the pitch; the doubts about the devil were in the minds of the SA batsmen whenthey crashed for 121 in the second innings....

Every home team has the right to play as per their strength. Australia in Perth, India in Kanpur....There is nothing wrong.

VG from London

Anonymous said...

Why no updates on the blog since ages ?

Anonymous said...

bonus

if the plot bears an uncanny similarity to the one played at Kanpur, then India’s response was even more identical. Throw an under prepared track, make the ball turn from day one, finish the match in three days and level the series one all!

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