It’s difficult to imagine India enjoying the dominance of Test cricket that the West Indies, and more recently Australia, have – partly because of how little Test cricket India play at the moment, and partly because of their mixed record away from home – but the masterplan seems to be working so far.
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It’s a cliche to say that you can’t judge a pitch until both sides have batted on it, but it certainly seems that India have made better use of the Kanpur pitch than Sri Lanka managed.
Sreesanth marked his comeback by tearing through the latter’s batting line-up, taking 5-75 as the tourists were bowled out 413 runs short of India’s first innings total, and then dismissing Dilshan in the second innings as Sri Lanka ended Day 3 on 57/4 following on, still 356 behind. He found movement off the seam in the morning session, reverse swing in the afternoon, and – perhaps most tellingly – consistency more or less throughout the day.
Given Sreesanth’s past temperament, it’s worth noting that, by and large, his trademark theatrics seem to have been absent today – perhaps Indian cricket’s prodigal son is ready to live up to his potential.
It may be an innocuous pitch, the bowling may not have been great, but 417 runs for two wickets in one day is still pretty special. Virender Sehwag‘s 131 from 122 balls was spectacular enough, but Gambhir (167 – his seventh century in nine Tests) and Dravid (85 not out) got in on the act as well as India scored the most runs they have ever scored in a day of Test cricket.
Hopefully, this isn’t just the first day of another run-filled bore draw – the pitch is expected to prove helpful to the spinners in the coming days. It didn’t seem to help Sri Lanka much today, as Muralitharan and Herath both went for more than 5 an over.
The build-up to India’s Test series with Sri Lanka has been somewhat overshadowed by the continuing coverage of Sachin Tendulkar’s 20th year in international cricket, but with top spot in the ICC Test Rankings up for grabs, the contest has much to offer.
Sri Lanka’s record in India suggests that the tourists will face a tough task. The bulk of responsibility for scoring runs is likely to fall on the usual suspects, who have in the past made huge scores on benign pitches but struggled in difficult conditions. As for the bowlers, only Murali has a strong track record in India, so the others will need to step up if the side are to succeed. Herath should edge out Mendis for the second spin slot, although the latter’s magical showing against the same opposition last year may inspire his inclusion at some stage.
For the hosts, Zaheer Khan’s return (along with Sreesanth) should revitalise the pace attack, whilst a chief concern could be adjusting back to Test cricket after more than six months of limited-overs matches. The lack of Test matches has been picked up on by the man of the hour, and many of the players in the side may take some time to realign their approaches.
This is a key series for India in their mission to become the best side in the world, and a series victory for the home side will be widely expected.
Posted in australia, india, tagged ashes, australia, brett lee, champions league, champions trophy, harbhajan singh, india, ipl, michael clarke, munaf patel, new south wales, virender sehwag, yuvraj singh on October 24, 2009| Leave a Comment »
India are hosting Australia for a seven-match ODI series, which normally would have been hyped for weeks (if not months) in advance, but the Ashes (and its attendent ODIs) blurred into the Champions Trophy which blurred into the Twenty20 Champions League which only finished yesterday, so it’s almost as if the series has crept up on both sides.
For India, the headline news is the return of Virender Sehwag and the injury worries over Yuvraj, but it’s the bowling attack which is arguably under pressure after a poor run of late. Munaf Patel returns to give the seam bowling a little more control, whilst the pressure is mounting on Harbhajan to shrug off his recent slump and return to the form he showed before the Champions Trophy.
For Australia, there are fewer concerns, although the absence of Michael Clarke will probably necessitate some tinkering with the batting order. Most of the side will be familiar with Indian conditions through IPL and more recently Champions League experience, although the fatigue factor after exertions in the latter may come into play with regard to the likes of Brett Lee.
Although those Aussies who played for NSW in the Champions League will be a little on the tired side, I would expect Australia to have the upper hand in the series unless India significantly up their game. The hosts’ poor showing at the Champions Trophy has cast doubt on their ambitions to be the worlds’ best.
Posted in australia, england, india, west indies, tagged ajantha mendis, australia, bangalore royal challengers, bryce mcgain, champions league, craig kieswetter, dale steyn, dave mohammed, dinesh ramdin, dwayne bravo, ed joyce, england, ipl, jacques kallis, james kirtley, justin langer, kevin pietersen, luke wright, mahela jayawardene, marcus trescothick, mark boucher, michael yardy, rahul dravid, somerset, sri lanka, stanford 20/20, sussex, trinidad and tobago, twenty20 cup, victoria, wayamba, yasir arafat on October 7, 2009| Leave a Comment »
Part two of the Twenty20 Champions League Preview:
- The Bangalore Royal Challengers have almost as many South Africans in their squad as the sides representing that country (even without the injured Kevin Pietersen). Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Dale Steyn all feature, whilst Rahul Dravid demonstrated in this year’s IPL that there’s a role for him in Twenty20 cricket which doesn’t simply involve driving down the run-rate.
- Somerset‘s preparation has been dominated by Marcus Trescothick’s return to India, with some of the coverage seemingly willing him to suffer a breakdown. Assuming all is well with Trescothick, he and Justin Langer make an experience opening pair, with possible future ‘England’ wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter also capable of making quick runs. It’s difficult to assess how well the English sides will do, but at first glance it seems a mighty task for Somerset to win the tournament.
- Sussex have a reasonably balanced side which was impressive during the English domestic Twenty20 Cup, with the batting of Michael Yardy and Ed Joyce and the bowling of James Kirtley particular highlights, with Luke Wright and to some extent Yasir Arafat capable both of adding runs and taking wickets at crucial moments. The side may struggle against some of the millionaire IPL teams, but perhaps greater experience of Twenty20 cricket will count in their favour.
- Trinidad & Tobago are arguably considerably stronger than the side which is representing the West Indies at the moment, with Dwayne Bravo one of the stars of the (now presumably defunct) Stanford 20/20 competition alongside spinner Dave Mohammed, and with Windies wicketkeeper Dinesh Ramdin also in the side.
- Wayamba have the experience of Mahela Jayawardene and the magic of Mendis. The latter will most likely bamboozle a number of players who are missing international experience, although he didn’t quite live up to his billing for Kolkatta in the IPL. The side look more like dark horses than front-runners, but, as I’ve already said, anything could happen over 20 overs.
- Victoria might suffer for the loss of Dirk Nannes, but David Hussey and Brad Hodge have the class to make an impact with the bat. Bryce McGain has another chance to make an impact outside of Australia following his disappointing Test ‘career’.
Posted in australia, england, india, new zealand, south africa, tagged adam gilchrist, andrew symonds, australia, brendon mccullum, brett lee, cape cobras, chaminda vaas, david warner, deccan chargers, delhi daredevils, dillon du preez, dimitri mascarenhas, dirk nannes, eagles, gautam gambhir, graeme smith, herschelle gibbs, india, ipl, jp duminy, nathan hauritz, nathan mccullum, new south wales, new zealand, otago, paul collingwood, rp singh, ryan mclaren, scott styris, simon katich, south africa, stuart clark, tillakaratne dilshan, virender sehwag, vvs laxman, world twenty20 on October 7, 2009| Leave a Comment »
Club cricket takes a new turn this week with the inaugural Twenty20 Champions League. Here’s a brief run-down of the sides involved:
- The Cape Cobras, although without the injured Graeme Smith, will still have plenty of firepower with JP Duminy and Herschelle Gibbs the main threats. The lack of access to the large pool of overseas talent that the IPL teams will enjoy could be an issue, though, as could a lack of familiarity with subcontinental conditions from the non-internationals amongst the squad.
- The Deccan Chargers boast a wealth of talent, with Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds, Chaminda Vaas and Scott Styris all in the squad alongside Indian players of the quality of Laxman and RP Singh. One of the IPL sides will be expected to win the competition, and the Chargers will certainly fancy their chances.
- The Delhi Daredevils pulled off a coup in securing Dirk Nannes‘ services for the tournament, and some of his fellow Victorians may be cursing that decision on Friday when he could well open the bowling against the Australian side. Meanwhile, Gambhir, Sehwag and Dilshan could be an irresistable top order combination if they all hit form. The loss of Paul Collingwood to injury is unlikely to be felt too deeply (except by Collingwood himself, who has ‘a little niggle in his buttock’, no less).
- The Eagles are on paper the weakest team in the competition, but the likes of Dillon du Preez and Ryan McLaren have overseas experience, and Twenty20 competitions have proved ripe for surprising results in the past, so they shouldn’t be underestimated.
- New South Wales could upset the IPL hegemony, with the likes of Simon Katich and the famously big-hitting David Warner providing the runs, whilst Stuart Clark, Nathan Hauritz and Brett Lee will be a potent attack. If the problems which the Australian national side had in the World Twenty20 can be overcome, then NSW could be heading home with some silverware to go with their international players’ natty new white jackets.
- Otago‘s chief asset, as ever, is the power-hitting of Brendon McCullum, but brother Nathan can also contribute. Dimitri Mascarenhas, available as neither Hampshire nor Rajasthan have qualified, has a strong track record in this format with both bat and ball, and is a strong addition to the squad.