Saturday, November 7, 2009

Live? Live? Am I live? I sure hope so.

Okay. Let me try a hand at this baby.

So, match ten minutes away from the start and India has already performed a miracle:

It has won the toss and elected to bat.

And, uh, unchanged team. Hm... fair enough, I guess. I'd still like to see Sudip Tyagi sometime in the future, but fair enough.

Johnson replacing Hilfenhaus for Australia. Um, okay?

Oh, and Guwahati. Last time we played there, Yuvraj and Dhoni totally pwned Pakistan, so, yay.

8:30 AM: Viru and Sachin opening, Johnson bowling, and Viru does not smack the first ball for four. Will miracles never cease.

Oh wait: he hits the second ball for six. Awesome.

Oh, and he gets bowled off the fourth ball of the over. Viru, you have been Disappointing. In fact, I believe you have regressed to the pre-2008 version of Viru Sehwag. Le sigh.

India: 7/1 after 4 balls of the first over, Gambhir, I think, next in to bat.

Holy shit, the second half of the Delhi duo now goes - Gambhir bowled off the last ball! Johnson, wow.

Dhoni, who ya gonna call?

The Ghostbusters, I mean, Yuvraj Singh.

India 7/2 after 1.


After 5 overs: India 23/2.

WAIT. Even as I type, Sachin is OUT off the first ball of the 6 over!


I need to see that again.

So, so, so, Bollinger is bowling, Sachin hits it back, and what the hell he CATCHES it!! Whaaat???

I dunno whether to be glad or to tear my hair out. For one we won't be defined by Sachin again.

For two, we are waist-deep in some serious shit.

Dhoni in, appeal for caught-behind off the very second ball he faces, not upheld, thank god.

DhoninYuvi, please. *cries*

Wow, in the words of Slater, the Aussies are "pumped"!

Oh, and Dhoni, I guess, is not the all-occasions Walker everybody thought he is. Worthy successor to Gilchrist, indeed. :)

After 8 overs: WHAT?

India 24/4, Yuvraj gone, lbw to Dougie Bollinger.

I reiterate: WHAT.

We are nose-deep in shit now. How long before we drown in it?

Raina in to bat.


Raina out.


I give up. Even the Aussies can't believe it.

... *sobs*

After 11 overs: 33/5. Ravi Jadeja's first runs come off an outside edge that falls just short of slip and runs for four. You people want to kill me, right?

After 15 overs: 36/5. Things still looking very dire, but Dhoni and Jaddu hanging on.

Ditzy Ritzy's bowling well. So is McKay.

So would any bowler worth his salt in a similar situation.

After 20 0vers: 50/5.

Dhoni and Jaddu hanging there, and that's the most we can expect at this stage, I guess.

And Dhoni's finished 1000 ODI runs for the year, the first Indian to do so, and as far as I know, the only one to do it for three years in a row.

After 26 overs: 65/5.

It's tough for DhoninJaddu, but they have to get out of this rut. They're scoring at just above 2 runs an over and while this might be an acceptable recovery in Test cricket, in ODIs? Not so much.

Tough, 'cause the Aussies are over the Indians like chickenpox, but what's gotta be done... gotta be done.

After 30 overs: 75/5.

Well, I've lost all my will to keep watching this travesty. First ball of the 31st over, Dhoni lbw to Bollinger.

So make that 75/6.

Poor Mahi. All that work for nothing. Bhajji in to bat.

... And Bhajji out, second ball duck. This's gonna end reeeeaaal fast.

75/7 after 30.3, PK in.

... and PK starts with a four. And I smile. Although I suspect it would look like a rictus.

After 36 overs: 97/7.

Keep at it, Jaddu and PK!

After 40 overs: 117/7.

PK and Jaddu beginning to look good. For one, they're going at 4+ an over, which is more than the previous partnerships managed to do.

I vote this the ideal time to take the batting Powerplay and unleash the Pee-Kay.

... and yeah. Dhoni listens (for once) and takes the Powerplay: overs 41-45. Lessee.

After 41 overs: Jaddu has completed his 50! *claps* Great job (although, you know, you were just dropped by Bollinger, ha ha, two drops in two matches for Dougie). Now just keep going, keep scoring. Also, you happen to have a uber-important job with the ball later, so.

After 44 overs: 149/7.

Praveen Kumar just tore apart Super!Debutant (TM) McKay for 14 runs, which included a fantastic six off the very first ball.

PK, marry me.

... I mean, uh, you're finally living up to your all-rounder billing. Yeah, good on you. *laughs nervously and slinks away*

... Uh oh. Jaddu just got out. 149/8. Oh well.

Okay, I must leave, for I still happen to have a life. Will miss the end of the innings and most likely the start of the Aussie chase, but hopefully not much.

Oh, and a five-for for Doug Bollinger! Congrats, mate!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This is... this is... I don't know WHAT this is.

'Tragedy' seems too light a word to cover it.

Despite one of the greatest one day innings you will ever freakin' see, we lost.

Despite having just 19 runs to get off the last three overs, Tendulkar and a settled Jadeja at the crease, we lost.

What a chase. What a match - shuuure.

But we still lost by 3 runs.

Three. Freakin'. Runs.

PK was in tears after his run-out - inches, centimetres, bring out the smallest measurement you have - signalled the end of the match. I kind of am, too.

'Tis a great pity, Tendulkar carried the entire innings on his back, beginning to end, 175 glorious runs, and yes, I doubted his ability, but I still held out for a century from him today, and I was proved right. Once past 17,000, he soared. Raina joined him after a middle-order collapse and they were perfect.

Then Raina went. Okay, no problem. Jadeja came in and Jadeja was looking good.

Then --

There is this "turning point" question they keep flashing every now and then, right? Listing events from the match and asking us the so-called "turning point"? I figured all that stuff was moot as long as Sachin was there. At whichever stage of the match, Tendulkar's wicket would be the turning point.

And it was, even with 19 runs to get from 18 balls, it was.

Fallout will be interesting: Dhoni's powerplay strategy, his (ridiculous, imo) decision to send in Harbhajan Singh before Jadeja and Nehra before Munaf, will be questioned, among other things.

For now, everybody will just... roil.

A hat-trick of sixers and other such non-depressing things

... In case it isn't clear, depressing things include mentions of this, Shane Watson, Shaun Marsh, India and fielding.

Thank you.

So there's another ODI that concluded today, right? In the relatively ignored but still entertaining Bangladesh v Zimbabwe series? A dead-rubber, as Bangladesh had already won the series, leading 3-1. To take my mind off the afore-mentioned depressing things, I decided to check the score.

At 47 overs, chasing 222 to win, Bangladesh was 198/9, 24 runs from victory. I figured Bangladesh had just pulled an India and was coming to pieces in the dead-rubber after having won the series. Definitely heard that story before.

Turns out this awesome dude called Naeem Islam never got the memo.

He proceeded to hit three sixes in a row in the next over, and the match was very nicely sealed up for Bangladesh in the 49th, complete with shiny bow. Of course, that doesn't talk about the tension until the last winning run had been scored, 'cause one mistake, one, and poof, all the hard work would've been for nothing.

Amazing, innit?

Kinda makes you wonder what it would've been like if Misbah had scored the winning runs in THAT game, the T20 WC '07 final, if he had successfully pulled Pak from the precipice like Islam did Bangladesh here. Whoa.

Exciting stuff.

And, uh, definitely non-depressing (damn you, Men in Blue - VirunGauti better open the innings today).

EDIT: Holy shit, we need 351 runs to win. Have the Cricketing Gods finished the day's quota for miracles with the Bangla win or is there still reason for India to hope?

Oh my god.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Anniversary thingamajig

So it was when I was reading this post by Leela that I realised something very startling: it has actually been over a year since I started writing this blog (from Oct 5 '08, to be precise).

Not that I've blogged a whole lot, but still, it's been fun, y'know?

Discovered the cricketing blogosphere only July last year, where knowledgeable and entertaining perspectives were given on the game without creaking and tottering in the narrow grip of professional diplomacy.

I figured that since I had a compulsion to write about anything and everything that interested me (leading to quite a few embarrassing moments as my careless scribblings would be invariably be discovered by somebody else in the household) I might as well start one of my own. Let the snark and the fangirling flow. Being a lurker myself, I didn't expect anybody else to read this, let alone make like-minded friends, but I'm glad to have been proved wrong. :D

So... yeah. Yay me.

Addendum: Apparently the BCCI has banned the Services team from the rest of the Ranji tournament as they refused to appear for a match against J&K in Srinagar owing to 'security reasons'.

Am I the only one who burst out laughing at the irony in that one? If I'm right, 'Services' is supposed to represent the army.

Oh well.

Addendum 2: Oh, and today's the fifth ODI between Ind and Aus, in Hyderabad, if I remember right. It's been pouring cats and dogs in Chennai over the past week, let's hope the weather is kinder there.

Also also, Peter Siddle has gone home with injury, and Henriques is down too. Why oh why couldn't it have been Doug Bollinger?

Also hoping to see Tyagi instead of Ishant today. It won't happen, but I can hope.

Addendum 3:
Also apparently, in the newest "Let's beautify the Marina!" wave, cricket on the Marina has been banned.

Now, I've never actually played cricket there, but I know a lot of my cousins and friends do, so I express my Obligatory Incredulous Outrage on their behalf.

Thank you.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The night of the Run-Out and myriad annoyances

... not the least among them being the fact that India lost despite turning in their best bowling/fielding performance in over a year and a half.

I'll get there soon.

So, okay, I haven't blogged in a while, right? I've got several totally valid (seriously) reasons for that:

a. I'm lazy.

b. I haven't watched a cricket match in its entirety since India toured West Indies in July.

c. Apparently, studying to become a doctor is about as tough as it sounds.

d. I'm lazy.

e. India didn't play for a long time and the Ashes were yawn-worthy.

f. ... did I mention I'm lazy?

But really, the thing that had me cringing away from cricket for a while there? The overdose of Twenty20. Look, I'm about as big an advocate for the shortest format of the game as they come, and there has been nothing that has annoyed me more than players and administrators alike ridiculing and belittling a format of the game they are supposed to represent ("We lost the tournament because we didn't take it seriously" smacks of so much unprofessionalism, it's pathetic, it's holding yourself above the sport when you let your performances make obvious what you'd rather be playing), but the recent overload and gimmickry is just as harmful. IPL 2009 followed immediately by the T20 WC was exhausting enough, but also the Champions League? No. No WAY. E-N-O-U-G-H.

It was not until yesterday morning that I even found out who won the damn thing. The tournament format by itself was interesting enough, but I vote we have actual Indian domestic teams playing in the League, instead of the IPL teams representing India because the "Indian" teams are about as Indian as I am Polish. I am glad none of the IPL teams made the semis, and Mr. Roebuck puts things into perspective rather nicely here. We do have annual domestic T20 tournaments here, right? If I remember right, the winner of the inaugural one was Tamil Nadu (and I was seriously pissed that not a single member of the victorious team was considered for the squad that was sent for the WC in '07), and it'd be interesting to throw our domestic teams into the fray and see how they match up. DISCONNECT IT FROM THE IPL. PLEASE.

Anyway, coming to the on-going series. Despite everything, I'm actually rather happy with our performance. I was driven into the heights of ecstasy with Dhoni's century at Nagpur (LONG overdue, yo) and India's successful salvage operation at Delhi. This is an excellent ODI team, there is absolutely no doubt about that. I wasn't even annoyed with the disappointment in the Champions Trophy (aside from the fact that we lost to Pakistan), I still feel we were desperately unlucky at South Africa. Apart from fielding what was far from our best XI, I don't think we got a chance to make up for the Pakistan loss, given that the game against Australia was washed out. It doesn't seem fair to really judge India's performance there, unlike the T20 WC '09, where we were pathetic and deserved to be booted early.

However, once people start acknowledging their potential, this team has an unfortunate habit of coming to pieces.

Yesterday's game was preceded by endless by-lines of "India'll become no. 1 when they win this game" and "Sachin just 47 runs away from 17,000 ODI runs" to the extent that I was deeply tempted to throw something at the television. Take the spotlight off the Aussies, underestimate them, distract the Indians... yeah, thanks a lot, guys.

Coming to the game itself, India's performance on the field up-first was a pleasant surprise (with the obvious exception of Ishant Sharma), wickets, direct hits, slick stops galore! I could hardly believe I was watching the same team that had been playing for the past one year. When Australia folded for 250 and the camera showed a delicious close-up of Ponting's face shrivelling when the last few Australian wickets fell in an ungainly heap, I allowed myself to Hope - to hope that this Indian team had found itself capable of going for the jugular of the opposition no matter the expectations placed on them, no matter the milestone waiting to be achieved. The way we started our chase only heightened the feeling.

If India's fielding was a sweet burst of endorphins through the system, Sehwag bludgeoning Mitch Johnson in the beginning of the chase was a hypodermic of adrenalin straight to the heart. No way we can lose this, I thought, as the 5th over finished with the scoreboard reading 40/0.

Of course we all know how things turned out after that.

Apart from Johnson's excesses in the first few overs (if I were a conspiracy theorist, I might say they were a cunning ploy to get Sehwag to cut loose and play similar shots against good bowling and get himself out - which is eventually what happened. Ha ha, I SEE WHAT YOU DID THAR.), the Aussie bowling was commendable. Bollinger seemed damn near unplayable and even Henriques, who looked lacklustre in Delhi, seemed challenging. The real turning point that pushed the match toward Aus was of course, Sachin's dismissal, and later, Yuvi's unfortunate run-out.

Sachin was frustrating last night, and I fancy that he was frustrated, too. Every run he scores takes him closer to that 17,000, he knows it, the opposition knows it, the crowd knows it, MILLIONS OF PEOPLE KNOW IT. That big scoreboard was also kind enough to display some sort of perverse "countdown" wherein every time Sachin took the crease, it'd display "Sachin needs xx runs to get to 17,000 career ODI runs" or whatever. That there? Is mighty annoying. Priorities, people! And what's the point anyway? Every run that Sachin scores now is a world record. Even though Sachin leaving at 40 to what can only be called a dubious leg-before decision (to be fair, it's probably the first dubious decision of the series) hurt India, I was sort of perversely glad.

And Yuvi's run-out. No, Australia, you still haven't found out how to break the power of the YuvinDhoni. Run-outs by centimetres don't count.

There followed a predictable middle-order collapse (yawn). And voila, Aussies victors by 24 runs.

Dhoni, hailed as captain extraordinaire just two days ago, bombarded with doubts: Was Kohli coming at three the right thing? (If you ask me, I'd've preferred Raina or Dhoni there, but that's just me) Was it right to elect to chase? Where did the pacing go wonky? And what is with Ishant Sharma?

Thing is, it was a riveting ODI in a riveting ODI series that's now tied 2-2, advantages, momentum negated. Both sides go into a three-match series with empty slates. Who said ODIs are dying?

Lessee the Indians picking themselves up and givin it back to the Aussies.