February 28, 2006

Dry Start to a Crucial Test Series.

India and England start their 3-Test series today in Nagpur. India who are two points behind England in the official ICC rankings, will move up to the second position if they defeat England. Apart from that the interest in the series has dwindled.

Expectations from this contest have fallen pretty sharply. The grand theme, the battle for No. 2, is barely audible. Even the Sourav Ganguly thing seems to have died down for the moment. Numbed followers must spend time on such mundane things as working out what XI India will field, and whether England will field an XI at all.

England are facing a mini crisis with a number of their players leaving before the tour even began. They are missing Ashley Giles, Michael Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick. Their fast bowling strength is impressive, but with the pitch expected to assist spinners, that may not have a significant impact.

Everything you need to know about the state of both the pitch and the condition of the touring party lies in Duncan Fletcher's remark that England have a "very good chance" of playing two spinners.

And their two spinners look awfully unmatched against their Indian counterparts. Piyush Chawla may make his debut along with Kumble and Harbhajan.

Presuming they don't return home this evening, those two should be Ian Blackwell, whom Indian viewers will remember more for a 68-ball 82 against them in the Champions Trophy of 2002, and Shaun Udal, 18 days shy of his 37th birthday. Udal's 690 first-class wickets have come at 32.56 apiece; and Blackwell's 185 at 43.39. They have between them three Test victims. They are up against a pair with over 700, and the surface is expected to assist them.

All in all, England seem to be a massive underdog. May be they are. But Indians will do well to remember that this England team (OK, may be not exactly this one) showed remarkable resilience by coming from behind and defeating Australia less than a year ago. Any complacence on the part of Indians will be misplaced.

February 27, 2006


This is a damn funny imitation of Bush. Found it here.

Search for Fast Bowlers.

According to this article in The Hindu, (via Willow and Leather) there is a conscious effort on the part of the selectors to find fast bowlers who bowl fast. Apparently, the number being targeted is 135 kmph.

The message being sent out by Kiran More and company, with the strong support of Chappell, is clear — India's bowling future lies in speed. "Anyone bowling above 135 kmph is welcome," Bhupinder confessed

The selectors' search has been relentless. From four-day matches to one-day fixtures, they have been concentrating on identifying youngsters who can be developed as fast bowlers. "We want speed," reiterated Bhupinder. The idea is to keep the replacements ready for combat.

While that may seem paltry by many standards, it is a good start. Right now, only Sreesanth comes anywhere near that (Pathan is well below 130).

Obviously, speed does not alone mean quality fast bowling. But speed is an important factor and it is time we tried to groom a pacy bowler.

February 26, 2006

Miracle Workers.

You just bought a car. You are lazy and want to employ a driver. How do you find one?

You will talk to some friends and generally institute enquiries. If necessary, you will also put an ad or two in local news papers. When someone shows up you will want to ascertain if he can drive well, if he has a licence, and if he is responsible.

Driving is no rocket science. Still, you look for some personal qualifications and skills.

Now think of governing a country. As most people think of governance, it is rocket science.

Just think what your job consists of.

You need to make people safe. You need to make them healthy. You need to make them learned. You need to make them busy. You need to make them happy. You need to make them good. You need to solve yesterday's problems. You need to solve today's problems. You need to solve tomorrow's problems. And so on.

In short, you need to work miracles.

And what personal qualifications do we require of these miracle workers? None.

What personal skills do we demand of them? None.

Two things stand out on contemplation.
  1. It is meaningless to fault our politicians. The process which put them there is simply not designed to ensure desirable results. If any occasional good does come out, it is only by chance.

  2. It is irresponsible to demand much from these miracle workers. In other words, they should not be asked, or indeed allowed, to work miracles.

February 25, 2006

29 January, 1948.

29 January, 1948 was a particularly tiring day for Mahatma Gandhi. He worked hard and late on a draft constitution for the Congress party.

Bapu was very tired but finished the draft of the Congress constitution. He got up to wash his feet at 9:15 P.M. and then made ready to go to bed. He was so exhausted that he forgot to take his exercises till I reminded him.

These were the words of Manu, Gandhi's grand-niece.

And what did the draft say about the Congress party?

Though split into two, India having attained political independence through means devised by the Indian National Congress, the congress in its present shape and form i.e. as a propaganda vehicle and parliamentary machine, has outlived its use.

India has still to attain social, moral and economic independence in terms of its 700,000 villages as distinguished from its cities and towns. The struggle for the ascendancy of civil over military power is bound to take place in India’s progress towards its democratic goal. The Congress must be kept out of unhealthy competition with political parties and communal bodies. For these and other similar reasons, the All-India Congress Committee resolves to disband the existing Congress organization and flower into a Lok Sevak Sangh...

On 30 January he was assassinated. This document, however, was given to the Secretary of the Indian National Congress that day. It was unheeded.

The rest, as they say, is history.

February 23, 2006

Not the End of the Road for Sourav Ganguly.

Indian team for the first test against England is announced and Sourav Ganguly does not find a place. It must have been a difficult decision but I believe it is a good decision. Is it the end of the road for him? Definitely not.

Teams should be chosen on the basis of a player's ability and with an eye on the future. Ganguly, talented as he is, simply does not have a place in the team if Yuvraj is available. Now that he is not, it is very natural and probably tempting to fill the vacancy with Ganguly. But it stands to reason that this temporary place in the playing eleven is given to those who are likely to be the future of India.

Believe it or not, the time has come to think about future. With Tendulkar and Dravid both around 33 and Laxman at 31, in a few years there will be a gaping hole in our batting. For a smooth change of guard steps need to be taken from now. Kaif and Raina are sure to be at thick of things in a future Indian set up and they need to be nurtured. I especially believe Raina is a special talent. Chappell commented that Raina has the potential to become on of the game's greats. At 19, he is a great prospect for India.

A major decision this time is the inclusion of 17-year old Piyush Chawla. He appears to be a very talented leg spinner and will hopefully fill the shoes of great Anil Kumble, who is 35. Inclusion of Vikram Singh and Sreesanth is also a good decision. Munaf Patel is a bit unlucky to miss out, but I am sure he can claim a spot in future.

Coming back to Ganguly, he is only 33 and there is a good chance that he can play some more cricket for India. For that he needs to regain his touch, which frankly deserted him. He has ample opportunity on the domestic circuit to do that.

This is a very good analysis of the team.

Ideas Matter!

Here is an amazing article on the importance of ideas by Atanu.

Ideas matter. Over human history, some humans have had ideas on how to do things based on discoveries they or their forbearers made. As the stock of ideas grew, so did the ability of humans to create stuff out of available raw materials increased. Ideas have the peculiar characteristic in that their stock does not diminish from use. Economists call this property “non-rival in consumption.” Ideas multiply the ability of humans to achieve whatever it is that humans desire. The world we live in is one constructed by human will using raw materials—and ideas. What human will can achieve is only limited by the ideas that are available to humans at any point in time. Since there can be no conceivable limit to how large the stock of ideas can become, there is no conceivable limit to what human will can achieve.

February 22, 2006

Limits to Freedom of Expression?

I believe that freedom of speech is essential to the basic nature of human beings. A desire for free expression is an innate impulse. Not many will dispute that (I hope!).

Dispute ensues when a society attempts a systematic indulgence of this innate impulse. For, it then is necessary to prescribe limits. The word "limit" is misleading. Our consciousness is shaped by a million historical instances of coercive limits to innate human impulses and that plays tricks with our concepts too. Hence different people view different extents of limits as justifiable.

On the other hand, there is only one logical limit that must be placed on this or any other basic human freedom: exercising my freedom should not impede you from exercising your freedom. Indeed, by definition I am not free to restrict your freedom. (It is another matter that such clarity of thought or language is rare today.)

I am not implying that said limits are easy to prescribe. Far from it.

What I am implying is that debate must happen within the framework of the above mentioned logical constraint. Moreover, because no group of people, however major, can properly claim to represent a common psyche the endeavor should be for a minimalist approach confined to bare bones.

As this article in the Economist points out:

...the fewer constraints that are placed on free speech the better. Limits designed to protect people (from libel and murder, for example) are easier to justify than those that aim in some way to control thinking (such as laws on blasphemy, obscenity and Holocaust-denial) .

Exactly. The purpose of limits is to protect. Not to fashion thinking.

Newspapers are free to publish cartoons of the Prophet. M F Hussain is free to paint Hindu gods or Bharat Mata nude. David Irving is free to say that holocaust did not happen.

Muslims are free to resent cartoons of the Prophet. Hindus or Indians are free to disapprove of Hussain's paintings. Western European governments are free to ridicule Irving.

Muslims are not free to burn Danish embassies. Hindus or Indians are not free to ransack Hussain's home. Austria is not free to imprison Irving.

But two of the above three did happen. And they happened not just in the illiberal melting pots of the world, but also on a leading stage of the era of enlightenment which led to liberalism.

Question arises: who is to take up the mantle of safeguarding truth or morality or piety?

History shouts the answer: No one.

Making Sense of Sachin.

This is a brilliant article by Rohit Brijnath on BBC.

Tendulkar was always a reluctant God and perhaps it is just that we have become impatient worshippers. His decline may eventually be more revealing about us than about him.

Perhaps we have spent a lifetime perceiving Tendulkar as a batting superman and are unsure how to deal with him as a man, a human batsman who fails, who makes mistakes.

But after 17 years even the machine, and so many saw him as one, has to wear down, its mechanics occasionally faulty, and for some this is a revelation. What did we expect, that he would never grow up, that he be 16 forever? Are we?

February 19, 2006

India Complete A Memorable Series Win Against Pakistan.

India chased successfully again in the last game of the 5-match series against Pakistan to win the series 4-1. This is our thirteenth consecutive successful chase and we are now only one short of the record set by West Indies in the mid-1980s. We also move into joint third position (with New Zealand) in the official ICC One-Day rankings. More importantly than these statistics, this victory represents a sea change in the attitude of the Indian team and a willingness to work hard and show lot of discipline. Naturally there are a number of positives that we can take home from this series.

Firstly, we showed remarkable resilience after a depressing defeat in the final test in Karachi and truly out-classed Pakistan. After a close defeat in the first match, we bounced back with much improved bowling performance. Indeed, that is one of the biggest gains for us. Our bowlers performed lot better than anyone expected, and easily bettered their Pakistani counterparts. For instance, we got 43 Pakistani wickets to the 25 wickets we conceded to Pakistani bowlers. We scored 1335 runs in 219.3 overs (a run rate of 6.08) to Pakistan's 1311 in 238.1 overs (a run rate of 5.51).

Perhaps the most satisfactory development for the Indian fans is the emergence of Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the new stars of Indian cricket. Yuvraj was always considered a special talent, but this series marks a turning point in his career. The ability and temperament he showed (particularly in the third and final matches, when he shifted into an anchoring mode after Dhoni arrived) are exemplary. No words can adequately describe the influence of Dhoni on this Indian team. An average of 53.95 at a strike rate of of 108.73 (not to mention a Test average of 46.85) attest to the fact that he is a player of highest class. With his keeping also making rapid improvements, he is set to go down as the greatest wicket-keeper/batsman to represent India. At 24, these two players are the future of Indian cricket and one can see them forming the backbone of the team in years to come.

Another heartening feature about these two guys is the great camaraderie that is apparent between them. They are already showing a great partnership on the field (in the third and final games, their match-winning partnerships amounted to 248 runs in 177 balls). In addition to that there is an almost kiddish-exuberance to their regard for each other. Dhoni, when complimented on his innings, remarked that all credit must go to Yuvi [Yuvraj], and he turned to him and said "Thank you, Yuvi, thank you for the great win". And Yuvraj, on receiving the highly deserved Man of the Match and Man of the Series awards, duly gave all the credit to Dhoni. "When Dhoni comes to bat, I just decide to give the strike to him. For me, he is the Man of the Series and he is the Man of the Match."

A word must also be said about the role of Sachin Tendulkar in this victory. His tally of 237 (100, 42, 95 and 0) showed that he still can contribute a lot to Indian cricket. His 95 in the third game at Lahore was a gem and was the foundation for the eventual win. It was sad to see many irresponsible comments in the media after the test series, but he answered his critics emphatically with his batting. He is showing signs of his best, and many sides will feel his force yet. It was a memorable incident in the dying moments of final game when Sachin came up to Yuvraj and Dhoni with drinks and gloves and gave them some instructions. As Waqar Younis commented, he must be the most experienced twelfth man in cricket. That scene symbolized the smooth transformation that is taking place in this Indian team.

Much as the Indians played well, they were helped considerably by the ineptitude of the Pakistanis. Their batting never really took off, their bowling disappointing to say the least. But, as Inzamam said, it was the outrageous fielding which was the crucial difference between the teams. Indeed, their fielding was hardly fitting at this level, failing to stop even routine balls near the boundary on a number of occasions. Pakistan have a lot to ponder about, and need to considerably improve their spirits to compete well in Sri Lanka. They can take a leaf out of their Under-19 team who defeated India in the world cup final in Colombo.

As for India, they now go back home to play three Tests and seven One-Days against England, and they must be raring to go.

February 13, 2006

A Picture is Worth Thousand Words...

Yuvraj and Dhoni return triumphantly after guiding India to a memorable win.

India Win a Thrilling Match.

India remained calm when it mattered to win a thrilling third one-day against Pakistan. They now take a 2-1 lead in the 5-match with two to go. This victory represents the smooth transformation of guard that is taking place in this Indian team. The old guard of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid consolidated after a shaky start and then the future core of the team, Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, played swashbuckling innings to finish the match in a hurry. This is India's eleventh consecutive victory chasing. This is refreshing, given that a few years ago we were considered poor chasers.

India won the toss and duly inserted Pakistan in. Bowlers did a good job initially on a helpful pitch and then kept things under control. Shoaib Malik and Abdul Razzaq played very well to take Pakistan to a respectable 288. They made 89 off last ten overs. Still, one had the feeling that on a good batting pitch and with the strong Indian batting lineup, it would not be enough. And so it proved.

Pakistan started very well and got two quick wickets. Then it was upto Dravid and Tendulkar to steady the innings. And they did that beautifully. Ball was doing a bit and Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul were bowling very well. But Sachin and Rahul played very responsibly. They concentrated on not losing any wickets and were slow initially. The fifty came in 12.3 overs and we were 63/2 in 15 overs. A few years ago that start would have been considered very bad chasing 289. But such is the nature of one-day game these days that a score of 289 looked eminently achievable even when the score was only 63 after first 15. We needed only Tendulkar and Dravid to stay there. Dravid got out to direct hit and India were again in trouble at 84/3. Then the fresh blood of Yuvraj changed the course of the match. He started his free-flowing innings and soon our run rate started climbing. Tendulkar also started playing confidently and there was a flurry of boundaries. After a crucial partnership of 105 runs in 15.4 overs Sachin got out to a tired shot at a brilliant 95.

But that innings set the scene for the heroics of Dhoni. He walked in with India in a precarious condition at 190/5 after Kaif got out for a duck. Match was delicately balanced then and could have gone either way. After a cautious beginning he simply toyed with Pakistan bowling and hammered them to all parts of the ground. He deservedly got the Man of the Match award for his match-winning 72 of 46 balls. Yuvraj also played extremely well to end on 76 not out.

This victory somehow gave more happiness than any other win of recent times. We really needed to work hard and the satisfying thing was that the youngsters kept their cool under pressure and finished the job. Certainly this augurs well for the Indian team.

February 12, 2006

End the Talk of "Endulkar".

I have been meaning to ridicule the talk of "Endulkar" by a well-reasoned post, but was rather busy in the past week. Then I came across this beautiful post. I do not think I can do a better job than this. This post does a very objective job of analysing Sachin's recent record to justify the position that he can still give a lot to Indian cricket.

Let’s view Tendulkar’s performances objectively. Since January 2004, he has figured in 38 ODIs and scored three hundreds. But what has got tongues waging is the fact that, in these 38 innings, he has failed to get past the teens in as many as 20 innings. Though he has averaged over 36.77 in this phase, it’s the downswing from his own high standards that’s caused heartburn among a section of the people. Virender Sehwag suffers in comparison, but he has not invited the kind of criticism the “Little Champion” has. In the last 31 ODIs, Sehwag has scored 795 runs at 25.64 with no hundreds and two fifties. But he has escaped censure because of his excellence in the Test matches. But the fact remains that though both masters have been under-performing, they have not looked lost as batsmen tend to in the midst of inevitable poor patches in their careers.

Tendulkar went through a lean trot 2002-03 against New Zealand and Australia when a stretch of 12 innings yielded just 209 runs. But he silenced his critics with successive innings (of 44, 241*, 60* against Australia and 194* vs Pakistan at Multan). Then came another run-famine in which he could score just 136 from 10 innings. Tendulkar came out of that spell with an unbeaten double hundred against Bangladesh and followed it with consecutive scores of 94, 52, 52 and 41 against Pakistan. There’s absolutely no doubt that the old consistency and authority are missing, but there is no need for us to become prophets of doom. Is there anybody remotely close - even with his diminished abilities - to replace him? His highest Test average was 59.17 (in his 93rd match), it’s now 56.14 after 129 outings. His top average in ODIs was 45.35 (324th game); after 35 more ODIs, his average now stands at 44.19.

Let’s compare Tendulkar’s position with Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist. Hayden’s Test average had plummeted from 58.97 in 2004 to 51.31 by the end of the fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge last year. But Australia kept faith with Hayden for the final Test. The burly opener, who drew comparisons with Sir Don Bradman not long back, began another hot streak with scores of 138, 0*, 111, 77, 37, 118, 110, 46, 47, 87*. Gilchrist’s Test average plummeted from a 61.48 in 2004 to sub-50 last year. The Australian selectors, who do not hesitate in asking their greats to leave when they feel it’s time to leave, have persisted with Gilchrist. Players like Tendulkar, Hayden and Gilchrist are a class apart and deserve special treatment. Remember: Form is temporary, class is permanent.

I would like to believe that Tendulkar will not stay a minute longer if he doubts his own abilities. Let us treat a man who has given so much for the country with the reverence he deserves. If there is one thing common between Viv Ricahrds and Tendulkar it is their abilities to answer in a manner few can hope to. Somebody is going to pay for the humiliation heaped on Tendulkar. If I were Michael Vaughan, I would be a worried man.

February 10, 2006


The International Cricket Council (ICC) introduced the concept of a supersub into One-Day cricket last July. The plan was that a team can name a 12th player and replace a member of the starting eleven by the 12th player at any point of the match. The wanted to try this out for a year and see how it works out.

It was a good innovation and definitely gave teams more options. But there was a catch. The teams were required to announce the supersub before the toss. Now clearly that is disadvantageous to the team losing the toss: if you go with a bowler (batsman) as the supersub and are forced to bowl (bat) first then you are effectively not using the option of a 12th player, and the team winning the toss has potentially twelve players against your eleven. This is a brilliant analysis of how the supersub rule favored the team winning the toss.

It is clear that the ICC can not continue with this rule as it stands right now. They either have to scrap it altogether, or at least allow teams to choose the supersub after the toss is decided.

February 4, 2006

India Votes Against Iran.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations (UN) nuclear watchdog, has voted in favor of a resolution that reports Iran's case to the UN Security Council, paving the way for possible sanctions. The resolution was passed with twenty seven countries voting in favor, and three against (Syria, Venezuela and Cuba) . Five countries abstained (Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya and South Africa).

India voted in favor of the resolution. This is a most unfortunate decision by the Indian government. It is a good example of how regard for immediate range of the moment benefits trumped the long term considerations. It is perfectly clear that India decided to vote against Iran purely to ingratiate itself with the US.

It has been said before that Iran acquiring nuclear weapons under the leadership of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an eventuality that should be prevented at any cost. But I am not sure if this is the way to achieve that objective. Very likely sanctions will be imposed and innocent civilians will suffer the consequences. Iran is years away from acquiring nuclear weapons even if it wanted to, and this precipitate action is totally uncalled for and only reflects arrogance of the United States.

Double standards of the US have long been clear. They were reaffirmed during the deliberation on this resolution. The US vehemently opposed the inclusion of the clause "A solution to the Iranian issue would contribute to global nonproliferation efforts and to realizing the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including their means of delivery", promoted by Egypt. Obviously the US did not want its ally in the region, Israel, to halt its secret nuclear weapons program. They gave in only after intense backing of the clause by the European countries, Russia and China.

India toeing the line of the US is sad. The US ran nothing short of a blackmail campaign through its ambassador David Mulford, threatening to withdraw its offer of help with nuclear technology. Slowly but surely, India is losing its global ability to stand up on its own and shaping up to be another US stooge. We forgot so quickly that sanctions were slapped on us just a few years ago. And even the US admits that we are a democratic, responsible state, and an ally. If that did not illustrate the US hypocrisy, I do not know what will.

Update: Posted on Desicritics. Go there for some interesting comments.
Update: Posted on Shoutwire. There too lot of interesting comments.

February 2, 2006

Sachin Tendulkar, the Match-Winner.

These days it is fashionable to dismiss the great career of Sachin Tendulkar by saying that he never won matches (or that he did not win many matches) for India. It is another matter to say that he is not at his best anymore. But to say that he was not that great a player is outrageous.

Here is a nice article Sachin Tendulkar - A steady decline or a just a temporary glitch, at Desicritics by The Comic Project. He very correctly depicted the current situation. The article generated an interesting discussion between Satya and me. I thought that it was interesting and informative enough to be posted here. It is important because it deals with the most common fictitious aspersions cast at Sachin.

Satya: I thought Glitch is the term used when someone is not in form or one or two seasons and not for more than five years or so.

He has never played for his team and only for records. If Karachi would have been the turn for 35th Century then you would have seen him making some runs.

I don't know why people don't think from the brain rather than emotions. He is a white elephant and eating space of one geninue cricket player.

(Now blast me .....)

Me: Nice article, Comic Project. I also feel the same way.

Satya, I do not understand what you mean by He has never played for his team and only for records. Have you followed cricket for last 17 years? Have you seen Sachin in England and Australia in early 90s, in all the home series wins under Azhar and Wadekar in mid 90s, 96 world cup, great one-day form in late 90s (particularly 98), in world cup 2003?, all those matches against Australia?

It is another matter that his form deteriorated recently. One can have comments about that. But to discredit his whole career is very misleading and does injustice, not only to Sachin, but Indian cricket as a whole.

Satya: Krishna, form is one thing and winning matches is other thing. Can you list down 10 match winning innings from him, the ones where all have fallen but he won it for India. I remember Azhar doing that, I remember Kapildev doing that, I remember Robin singh doing that, I remember Jadeja doing that.

With Tendulkar it was always when everyone else was making 100 he would make as well. He has been put on pedestal and only a hype !

Don't equal Tendulkar to Indian cricket, this will be gross injustice.

Me: Satya, you surprise me. I am happy that you remember Kapil, Azhar, Robin Singh, Jadeja winning matches for India. But not Sachin? Very strange.

OK, let us see now. First tests. (Obviously, the last two of your match-winners are only ODI players.) Let us what Sachin, Kapil and Azhar did in tests that India won.

Azhar: Here is the list of matches that India won and Azhar made more than 50 runs in either innings.

Kapil: Here is the list of matches that India won and Kapil was just in the team. As you have to consider both his bowling and batting, I am not putting any condition here. Just matches won.

Sachin: And here is the list of matches that India won and Sachin made more than 50 in at least one innings.

First off, let me say that Azhar and Kapil were great players.

But you make your own conclusions, my friend. Azhar was involved in only 9 matches (out of 22) where we won and he made more than 50. Sachin was involved in 23 (out of 40). Just look at the figures. There were many matches his innings was the crucial difference. Also look at Kapil's record. He was a great player and the best all-rounder for India ever. But I can also say he got more than six wickets only 5 times (all before 1982) in matches India won. And he made only one hundred when India won. But he also broke lot of record. Does that give me a right to say he played only for record. Of course, not. That will be irresponsible. He was an important member of the team and his greatness was built in a career of 15 years of priceless contributions, not always reflecting in victory. Winning matches for India is not a black and white thing, not a matter of runs alone. It is a continuous thing. If you followed cricket decently in 90s, you would have seen that Tendulkar was often the only thing between the opposition and victory. I am not talking about what people said about him, or newspapers wrote about him; I am talking about the situation on the ground.

ODIs: Here you have got to be kidding me. Look at his record on Cricinfo. Look at the matches that India won and he scored more than 50. I mean in ODIs, Sachin was huge in terms of India winning. Remember Sharjah, World Cup 96, World Cup 2003 against Pakistan, the whole year of 1998??

Just go over the list on Cricinfo and you will see many matches where he score more than everybody else. He was man of the series 6 times. Do you think he would get that just like that, without any relation to the team's winning. India was a decent ODI team in 90s and Sachin was the most important reason for that (often the only reason).

Surely, Jadeja and Robin Singh won matches for us. No doubt. But do you seriously think that Sachin never did?

Dude, I did not equal Sachin to India. I only said criticizing his whole career is injustice to Indian cricket, just as criticizing any Indian player's career of more than 10 years is. I mean these people play for our country for many many years, and the least you can do is not nullify all of it by saying that they played just for records. The only proof you gave me that Sachin was playing for records is that he got many records.

Sathya, I am not asking you to agree with me that Sachin was the greatest India cricketer ever. All I am asking you is to recognize him and give him his due. Don't throw unfair aspersions, is all I am saying.

Satya: Krishna, I can see the test matches where Sachin scored more than 50 and India won, but those records does not say how much other players score.

This is what I am saying, show me the matches where all other were out under 50 and Tendulkar alone scored more than 50 or even 100 and won the match. That one is known as match winning innings, not when everyone else is making 100, he comes and makes 50.

If you say Tendulkar was the only thing between opposition and victory, I can't say anything.

In ODIs the number of matches won by Jadeja and Robin Singh will far outnumber those won by Tendulkar.

I am not saying he is a bad player but he is over hyped and for the past few years costing a genuinue player. He has now passed his cricket life, the only reason he plays is to get records now.

I doubt how many times he got out at 99 or 98?

Me: Satya, thanks for another interesting comment.

the matches where all other were out under 50 and Tendulkar alone scored more than 50 or even 100 and won the match. That one is known as match winning innings

In ODIs the number of matches won by Jadeja and Robin Singh will far outnumber those won by Tendulkar.

What can I say?! It simply amazes me how you can make such a statement! Anyway, thanks for giving me a definition of a match-winner.

Let us take your definition:

Definition: If A scores more than 50 in a match and everyone else scores less than 50, the A is said to be winner of that match, or A's innings is called a match-winning innings.

A brief study on cricinfo tells me (or you if you care to do the study) the following:

Number of Sachin's match-winning innings: 17
Number of Jadeja's match-winning innings: 3
Number of Robin Singh's match-winning innings: 0

(I will at some point actually list these matches here. It is a bit painful to write here, but if you want to see all this, just go to cricinfo and use the advanced filters. Still I will try to post the list here in future.)

Let us have some fun, and modify your definition a bit: Let us call A a match-winner if A scores more than 60 and everyone else scores less than 60. According to this definition we have (not counting the innings already accounted for above):

Number of Sachin's match-winning innings: 11
Number of Jadeja's match-winning innings: 0
Number of Robin Singh's match-winning innings: 0

Let us have some more fun, and call A a match-winner if A scores more than 70 and everyone else scores less than 70. According to this definition we have (and again, not counting the innings already accounted for above):

Number of Sachin's match-winning innings: 6
Number of Jadeja's match-winning innings: 3
Number of Robin Singh's match-winning innings: 0

You get the idea. How can one say that matches won by Jadeja or Robin Singh will far outnumber Sachin's, I don't have the remotest clue.

On second thoughts, I think I can see how one possibly arrives at such conclusions. Jadeja and Robin Singh played at the end of the innings and their contribution seems important to those who do not understand the game. For people who do understand, it is clear that solid foundations at the top of the innings are equally important. Also, memory tends to do tricks on us. I mean, most of Sachin's innings quoted above are in the 90s (there are a sizable number of them after 2000 too) and one quite easily forgets that Sachin played simply amazing innings in 1994 against WI, or against Aus in 1994, or SA in 1996 etc.

I do see how one can think like that. But before making a statement in public, I would have thought it is good to check the actual record.

Satya, I can not say anything if you continue to blindly stick to your assumptions. Hopefully, these "facts" will make you think. Also, what was that about 98s and 99s! Do you mean to say, if one does not get out much in 90s, then he is selfish? What kind of logic is that? For the record, Sachin got out 9 times between 90-99, his highest in this range being 98 (of 75 balls) -- do you remember that match against Pakistan in world cup 2003? Incidentally that was a match-winning innings according to your definition, the next best score being 50 (by Yuvraj).

I have the greatest resect for Jadeja and Robin Singh. For the duration they played for India they were extremely important players.

For the record, Jadeja played 10 innings when he was the hightest scorer and India won, his greatest inning coming against SA in 99 when we successfully chased 302, through his efforts alone (he scored 92 and the next best was 42).

Robin Singh made 10 50+ scores in ODIs (9 50s and 1 hundred). India won only one of them. That was his greatest innings: 82 against Pakistan in Dhaka in 98, when we successfully chased 315 (at that time highest score ever chased). In that match Ganguly made 124 and Sachin gave the perfect start by scoring 41 in 26 balls.

All the numbers in this comment are only for ODIs. When I have time I will write a similar review of his test scores.

February 1, 2006

India Lose the Test Series.

India succumbed spectacularly on the fourth day to an irresistible Pakistan, losing the match and with it, the series. Indians will look back at the first one hour of the match, where they got six wickets for 39, which included a first over hat-trick, and wonder how in the world they ended up losing by 341 runs in four days, our second-heaviest ever.

Incredulous as it may seem, it did happen. And for good reason. Many of them, in fact. The most important one was our bowling in the second innings. In spite of the batsmen faltering in the first innings, the second innings of Pakistan started with match in fine balance. And then incredibly Pakistan amassed 599 runs in 140.1 overs (at a run rate of 4.27) losing only 7 wickets. Every Pakistani batsman except Kamran Akmal who played only one ball got half-centuries. And the pitch, though much easier when Pakistan batted for the second time, was by no means a placid one. There was always something in it for bowlers, as was evident when India batted again. It seems to me that a callosal failure of the our bowlers is the only plausible reason one can arrive at.

Before the series began Indian bowlers were written off completely and the might of Pakistani bowling was hyped a little too much. Particularly the menace of Shoaib Akhtar was played out a lot. As the series progressed these exaggerations proved to be unfounded. Actually, the first two matches were played on pitches where a lower division team from Bangladesh could dig in and last for a couple of days against any Test bowling attack. So it was pointless to conclude anything about the relative merits of the two bowling attacks. Nevertheless, it was observed that Indian bowling was not a total wash-out compared to Pakistani bowling. Another feature of the first two tests was that Indian batsmen were shown in a more competent light. Indeed, in both tests Indians chased mammoth totals with aplomb. All these conclusions crashed against reality in Karachi.

On a helpful pitch, Pakistani bowlers performed way better than their Indian counterparts. The only time we looked like taking any wickets was in the first one hour of the match. And then, in the rest of that innings and in all of second innings they never even appeared as if they could get a wicket. I mean, do not just look at the score-board which was damaging enough: if had seen Pakistan bat you would understand how depressing it was. They were simply butchered. In this light, the only conclusion about the remarkable first hour could be that the pitch was extremely helpful (and also Pakistanis could not adjust immediately to the seaming conditions).

I do not for a moment suggest that it is all India's incompetence. For, Pakistan played beautifully and fully deserved to win. Kamran Akmal's innings in the first innings was a gem, and all of them batted very well in the second innings. Above all, Pakistan bowled very very well. I must say that Shoaib was not that effective (he got only 3 wickets out of 20). But Mohammad Asif and Abdul Razaq (7 wickets each) bowled very well. Some balls that got Asif his wickets were simply superb: wicket of Laxman in both the innings, wicket of Dravid in the first. Razaq, though not spectacular like Asif, bowled at a probing line and length and with great discipline.

After Pakistan posted that huge total, one can not read too much into India's second innings effort. It was pretty much a lost cause and really there was not much they could have hoped to achieve. Still, a word must said about Yuvraj's brilliant hundred. He came a long way from being overlooked for tests. One hopes that he builds a solid place in the team now. Soon enough, he will be one of the mainstay of the Indian batting line-up.

This is a series with massive implications. For one thing, India lost its second place in the official test ranking to England. They now are in the third position with 111 points (losing 4 points). Ironically, this means that India would get more points if they beat England at home in March. Pakistan are unchanged in the fourth position, but they gained a healthy 5 points.

More importantly, this series reversed the trend of recent series between the two teams. India have not lost a mutual test series to Pakistan since 1987, when they lost 1-0 at home. This sounds misleadingly dramatic, since we played only four series (not including most recent one) in these 19 years. Still, the fact remains. So Pakistan could be really happy that they defeated India after all these years.

As for the immediate implications, of course, Pakistan will start the One-Day series on a more confident note. I am not too sure if this is going to have a major impact on the series, though. Pakistan may be favorites, but not by much. We fell short of Pakistan in the test series, but the differences were all peculiar to the nature of test match cricket, and not many conclusions can be drawn on possible one-day performances. Indians will do well to keep that in mind.

Also posted (slightly differently) on Desicritics.

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