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Posts Tagged ‘rahul dravid’

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.

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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’.

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India versus Pakistan often fails to live up to the hype, usually because there is so much of that hype, but this had twists and turns enough to satisfy even the most jaded 50-over cynic.

Shoaib Malik’s 128 from 126 balls, much of which came in partnership with Mohammad Yousuf (who himself made 87), helped Pakistan recover from 65/3 to post 302 – more than has ever been succesfully chased at Centurion.

Malik now averges more than 52 against India, compared with his overall average of around 35, and this was his fourth ODI century against them. After flirting with an opening role, he seems to have found his rightful place in the upper-middle order. Whether or not Pakistan’s selectors will agree, however, remains to be seen.

Malik did let himself down a bit with the ball, though, getting smashed for 14 in a single over by Suresh Raina as India raced along at a pace even quicker than Pakistan’s. Gambhir made a quickfire fifty to set things off, and then Dravid played the anchor role as only he can, remaining steady as wicket after wicket fell at the other end. Once ‘the Wall‘ had fallen, though, victory was out of India’s reach, and they eventually fell 54 runs short.

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Rahul Dravid is set to return to One Day International cricket after being included in India’s squad for the upcoming tri-series in Sri Lanka and the autumn’s Champions Trophy. Although Dravid hasn’t played an ODI since 2007, his performances in this year’s IPL and the relative weakness of India’s middle order in the World Twenty20 have encouraged the selectors to bring back ‘The Wall’ in place of Rohit Sharma.

Sachin Tendulkar also returns to the side after sitting out the ODI series against the West Indies, but Virender Sehwag is still out with the shoulder injury that caused him to miss out on the World Twenty20.

The squad in full is: MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh,Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra, RP Singh, Amit Mishra, Dinesh Karthik, and Abhishek Nayar.

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The second season of the IPL (or the first season of the SAPL, if you prefer) gets underway this weekend, so here’s the lowdown on the teams taking part:

Bangalore Royal Challengers
Bangalore’s main pre-season activity was the purchase of Kevin Pietersen and KP will join a host of his fellow countrymen in Kallis, Steyn and Boucher. Last year the Royal Challengers finished seventh of eight teams, with only 4 wins, and Rahul Dravid didn’t look much of a Twenty20 batsman last time out, so it is to be hoped that the signing of Pietersen and the availability of Nathan Bracken following injury last year will improve things.

Zaheer Khan has departed to the Mumbai Indians in a swap deal for Robin Uthappa, but Steyn and Bracken – when available – should be enough to keep the bowling up to standard. Nevertheless, the Royal Challengers are unlikely to be amongst the favourites for the competition this year (although as Rajasthan showed last year, the odds may not be a fair indicator of each team’s relative chances).

Chennai Super Kings
Initial indications are that Chennai look strong again this year. Matthew Hayden’s retirement from international cricket means he is available for the whole competition, and new signing Andrew Flintoff, if fit, could potentially be the archetypal IPL all-rounder. In addition, MS Dhoni remains a potent threat.

Last season, the Super Kings lost out to Rajasthan in the final on the last ball, and the squad looks good enough to go one better this time around if fortune (and fitness) favours the Super Kings.

Delhi Daredevils
Dehli have been hit by the loss of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Asif, but have added Australian master blaster David Warner and English duo Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah. Perhaps most important of their new additions is ‘Dirty’ Dirk Nannes, a Twenty20 specialist who has been part of successful Middlesex and Victoria teams in the shortest form of the game.

Dehli also have the likes of Sehwag, Gambhir, Vettori, de Villiers and McGrath at their disposal, so if the Daredevils can get the make-up of their side right, they have a strong chance of success. The fact that most of their overseas stars will be available throughout may lead to the odd selection problem, but they will be problems of the sort that other franchises would like to have.

Deccan Chargers
Last year’s wooden-spoon winners in dead last place, the Chargers suffered heavily in the batting department as Shahid Afridi, Scott Styris and even Herschelle Gibbs failed to live up to expectations. he has been recalled, and they have a preponderance of all-rounders having also added Dwayne Smith and Ryan Harris.

RP Singh is also under pressure after a disappointing season last year, as is Chaminda Vaas, and Fidel Edwards’s arrival should improve the effectiveness of the bowling unit. In all, there is some hope for a better performance this year, although it would be hard for the Chargers to do any worse.

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India’s Test record in New Zealand is surprisingly poor. They haven’t won a series away to the Black Caps since 1968. However, the tourists recently recorded their first ever ODI series win in New Zealand, so hopes will be high that they can deliver a long-overdue success.

Crucial to those hopes will be Test squad additions VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid, both of whom have been adjusting to conditions by playing in New Zealand’s State Championship (with Dravid making a ton for Canterbury). India haven’t lost a Test since their series defeat to Sri Lanka last August, so will certainly be the form team in the five-day format.

In contrast, the hosts haven’t won a Test since October, and couldn’t beat anyone apart from Bangladesh in the whole of 2008. The Black Caps’ Test squad is markedly different from the limited overs side, with Arnel, Franklin, Flynn, McIntosh and (somewhat controversially)Martin all coming in to the side for the longer format. History may be on New Zealand’s side, but it’s difficult to see their team of relative novices putting up any sustained resistance to India’s potential world-beaters.

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In Matthew Hayden’s last 16 test innings, he averages 23. Whereas other batsmen who have been under pressure to retire, such as Rahul Dravid, have had that pressure lifted by making decent scores, the pressure on Hayden shows little sign of easing off unless he makes a massive score in the second innings in Sydney.

Many, of course – especially outside Australia – won’t be too disappointed to see the back of Hayden (with his odd pronouncements, third-person nonsense and radical definitions of Third World countries) if he does retire. Despite, or perhaps because of this, there can be little doubt that he has contributed massively over the last few years to the extraordinary Australian dominance of Test cricket which is only now coming to an end. In Australia, though, some people do actually like him.

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On a day in which just 72 overs were bowled owing to bad light, only one wicket was taken (that of Sehwag, in the 2nd over) and a mere 179 runs were scored, the main area of interest for observers of the first day of the Second Test between India and England was the slow and steady rebuilding of ‘The Wall’, Rahul Dravid.

Dravid’s form has of late been dire, and as he played “an innings of sweat, composure and immense character” to end the day on 65 not out from 205 balls, it seemed there was some light at the end of the tunnel.

If he stays there tomorrow and makes a century in a match that many predicted he wouldn’t be playing in, then the chances are that Dravid will be around for a little while yet.

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Dravid: Nostalgia

The pressure is mounting on Rahul Dravid to retire. Of course, there have been calls for his departure from the Indian side for some time now, but the recent increase in the frequency and obstreperousness of these calls now means that, barring something special in the second innings of the Chennai test, Dravid’s place is in real jeopardy ahead of the match in Mohali.

Many are expressing concern that such a distinguished international career as Dravid’s’ should come to an end in failure. With that in mind, why not enjoy some youtube highlights of his career:

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Graeme (not Graham) Swann announced himself to the Test cricketing world in some style by taking two wickets in his first over. They were mighty impressive scalps, too – those of Gambhir and Dravid. The latter’s poor form continued, leading to further calls for his retirement.

Whether Swann can continue this sort of form is open to question, but it’s nice to see an English spinner giving Indian batsmen trouble. The Second Test is turning out to be a great example of Test cricket at its best.

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After the recent events in Mumbai, and the subsequent ‘will they/won’t they’ deliberation by the tourists over whether it was safe to travel, both England and India will doubtless be relieved to get back to playing cricket when the Test series gets underway in Chennai.

For the hosts, the tour is an opportunity to cement their status as
challengers to Australia’s dominance of Test cricket (a 1-0 or 2-0 win
would see them overtake South Africa as the second-highest ranked team), as well as the first series since the retirement of Sourav Ganguly. Yuvraj Singh, who many feel has so far failed to do himself justice in the longer form of the game, steps into Ganguly’s shoes. If he can replicate the form he showed in the One Day series, England’s bowlers are in trouble. Also in need of a big score is Rahul Dravid – ‘the Wall’ has looked a little less than solid of late, and calls for his retirement are starting to be voiced more vociferously.

For England, ‘spin twins’ headlines await for Graeme Swann and Monty
Panesar
after the former (“a lovely confident boy”, according to his
captain) was confirmed as the replacement for the injured Stuart Broad
. Also added to the side for the tourists is Matt Prior, who returns in place of Tim Ambrose as part of England’s revolving door approach to wicketkeeper selection. Although it has been suggested that England’s very decision to tour means that they ‘cannot lose’ in terms of prestige, they can certainly lose the series.

You can follow the First Test here, or here.

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Yesterday, I wrote that Australia might find it hard to dismiss India cheaply. It turns out I wasn’t too far wrong on that front, but “the experience of their top order” didn’t have as much to do with it as I predicted. Dravid made 51 (youtube here), and there were notable contributions from Sehwag and Ganguly, but it was – of all people – Harbhajan Singh who steadied the ship, making 54 thrilling runs (youtube here) after Mitchell Johnson had taken a number of key wickets.

Australia will have been frustrated by the lower order’s resistance, and need to mop up the tail early tomorrow. Zaheer Khan is still there on 35 not out, and Anil Kumble has five test 50s and an unbeaten century to his name, so this won’t necessarily be a simple task.

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