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Posts Tagged ‘vvs laxman’

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.

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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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Sachin Tendulkar’s 40th Test century helped India to 311-5 at the close of the first day’s play in the decisive 4th Test at Nagpur. VVS Laxman, playing in his 100th Test, made 64, whilst Sehwag rattled off a quickfire 66 off merely 69 balls before becoming Jason Krejza’s second Test wicket.

India have the edge, but five wickets is a good first-day haul for Australia’s reshuffled bowling attack. You can see highlights of the first day’s play here.

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Gambhir and Laxman both scored double tons for India against Australia, and both were special: Gambhir’s effort showed real maturity from the new Sehwag, whilst Very Very Special‘s was very, very special.

Meanwhile, Australia toiled in the field until India declared, with Brett Lee finishing the innings with figures of 1-119 and even Ponting bowling a couple of overs himself.

Things do not bode well for the tourists.

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India are going through a bit of a rough patch. They’ve just been convincingly beaten by Sri Lanka, their middle order is failing badly (despite decent scores from Dravid and Laxman today), and their next Test series is against Australia. Do the selectors need to ring the changes, or keep the faith and hope that the experienced players will come good against the Aussies?

At least some radical changes to the batting line-up seem unavoidable. Laxman‘s place doesn’t seem under threat, and the openers had a good series, but the rest are struggling. The likes of Ganguly, Dravid and even Tendulkar are not justifying their place in the team with series averages in the teens and early twenties, but at least one (I would say Tendulkar, but I’m biased) should probably be retained for the sake of experience.

As for the bowlers, Anil Kumble has the most explaining to do. Whether there’s anyone to replace him (assuming India want to keep two spinners) is another question entirely, as is the fate of the captaincy if he is dropped.

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Sri Lanka are very much in control of the decisive Third Test at Colombo, with India only 14 runs ahead, and with only 5 wickets left standing in their second innings.

Perhaps surprisingly given his recent form, the top scorer of the innings so far has been Rahul Dravid, who closed the third day on 46 not out. Given that there are still two full days of play available, it will take something special from Dravid and Laxman (17 not out as I write) if India are to save the match and the series.

If Dravid does go on to make a big score, it might be enough to ensure his place in the side, but Sourav Ganguly‘s 18 runs will do little to silence those who have been critical of The Prince of Calcutta‘s continued selection.

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Following the capitulation of every Indian batsmen that wasn’t Sehwag or Gambhir in the first innings, the two openers continued to impress in India’s second innings against Sri Lanka.

There has been a notable although incremental improvement since the First Test in how India’s batsmen have coped with the bowling of Mendis and Muralitharan, which puts pressure on Sri Lanka’s weakened pace attack (which more or less means Vaas) to take wickets if the match is to be saved. How many runs Ganguly and Laxman make will be crucial, as only 14 runs were made by India’s bottom four in the first innings.

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The old and the new in Sri Lankan spin bowling combined to devastating effect, to earn their side victory over India in the First Test by a whopping innings and 239 runs. (Various youtube highlights of Mendis and Murali’s wickets can be found here, here and here).

In all the fuss over Mendis, the original Sri Lankan spinning sensation may have been feeling a little left out, but his 11 wickets in this Test will be a reminder that there is a long way for Ajantha Mendis to go before he can be compared to a player of Muralitharan‘s stature.

As for India, where do they go from here? Questions will be asked of the batsmen, with only Laxman making 50 in either innings, but the bowlers who only took 6 wickets for the loss of 600 runs will also come under some pressure.

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Way back in January, I wrote about whether it was time for Dravid and Ganguly to be dropped from the One Day side.

Both have been left out of India’s 30-man preliminary squad for the Champions Trophy, as has Laxman. This is, or at least I hope it is, indicative of a strong desire within Indian cricket to blood young players rather than relying on old hands to score the all runs.

Yuvraj Singh, meanwhile, has been dropped from the Test side, which seems to suggest that Test cricket is becoming an old man’s game. Indeed, some of the younger players seem to regard the oldest form of the game as a low priority. Perhaps the current cricketing climate will see even more of a split between the various forms of the game, at least on the subcontinent.

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The Indian Premier League‘s first season is mere hours away, and it’s decision time. But which team should the discerning cricket fan lend his affections to? The Chennai Super Kings sound a little too much like a brand of tobacco, the Knight Riders are ‘biting’ the Hoff‘s style, and the Deccan Chargers have a logo that looks too much like it belongs in the NFL (or worse, the MLS), even if they do have Laxman on their books.

What does that leave? The Mumbai Indians? ‘Kings XI’ Punjab? No, blind patriotism is the only way forward, so I must pick Danger Anus‘s team, the Rajasthan Royals. Plus, a former Neighbours star is involved.

I’d like to point out that this level of ‘support’ is entirely whimsical, and liable to complete reversal as and when I choose.

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