Monday, March 12, 2012

A year on, Tendulkar still on 99 tons

Exactly a year ago, on March 11, 2011, Sachin Tendulkar scored his 99th international century against South Africa in Nagpur during the World Cup. It wasn’t enough to set up an Indian victory, but it showed viewers the world over that aged 37 and 323 days, he was still a master batsman showing few signs of slowing down.

A year on, and Tendulkar is still on 99 international centuries, while so much has changed for the Indian cricket team. In the last 12 months they have won the World Cup, slipped form their No. 1 perch in the ICC’s Test rankings, been whitewashed in consecutive overseas Test tours, failed to make the finals of a tri-series, and have seen Rahul Dravid make his exit from the international scene.

In these 12 months, Tendulkar’s batting returns have also diminished. In 11 Tests he has scored 778 runs at an average of 37.04, with a best of 94. He came close to scoring that unprecedented 100th hundred a couple other times too; at The Oval he made 91 and in Sydney he reached 80. That innings of 94 was the best chance he had of getting to three figures – Tendulkar came out on the fourth morning in Mumbai in robust mood – but an unwarranted dab to third man ended up in the slips.

His batting hasn’t been poor, but he has endured patches where he has shut shop – such as in Sydney, where he fell to Michael Clarke – and others when he has timed the ball perfectly only to lose focus (London, Delhi, Mumbai, Melbourne) with aggressive shot selection. Plenty has been written, spoken and surmised of whether the 100th hundred has played on Tendulkar’s mind, and not without reason. It is a long time for Tendulkar to go without a century. Along the way, India were blanked 4-0 in England and Australia, adding to the overall sense of failure.

Tendulkar did not play an ODI since the World Cup final on April 2, 2011 until he was named in India’s squad for the CB Series after the Test debacle in Australia. That period included four ODI contests, against West Indies and England home and away. Injury played its part, with Tendulkar being ruled out of the ODI leg in England. In 11 ODIs since that century in Nagpur, Tendulkar has made 301 runs at 27.36, with his best shot at the 100th hundred being his chancy 85 against Pakistan in the World Cup semi-final. He has not crossed 48 since then.

Tendulkar’s inclusion for the ongoing Asia Cup – India play Sri Lanka on Tuesday – gives him another opportunity to reach that landmark century. After a bad CB Series, there is thought that Tendulkar will score No. 100 on much friendlier tracks in Bangladesh. If he does, India will rise to cheer a legend. If he doesn’t, the calls for Tendulkar to take a firm call on his ODI career will get much louder.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Sachin shouldn't wait long to decide

Former Australian fast bowler Geoff Lawson feels Sachin Tendulkar has got the right to decide when to quit one-day cricket, but says he should not wait too long, as otherwise, the criticism will grow.

"In Tests (in Australia), I thought he played the second best after (Virat) Kohli, who probably played the best. Looked to me he (Tendulkar) was in pretty good form in the Tests," Lawson said.

"But I wonder whether he is playing the one-dayers for the right reason? Was his heart and mind in it? Is he playing for the 100th hundred or for India? That's what he will have to ask himself."

"He is one of the greatest players of all-time and he has gained the respect that he can take his own decision, but if he waits too long, someone (like Kapil Dev) would not like it," said Lawson, when asked for his reaction to the former India captain's view that Tendulkar should have quit one-day cricket after India's triumph in the World Cup last year.

The veteran of 180 Test wickets conceded he was surprised by the dismal Indian show in the Test series Down Under.

"Yes, I was surprised. First Test was very close, India were a bit unlucky. Umesh Yadav bowled well. Ishant was a bit unlucky. After that the bowling fell away. I thought the bowling was getting better but Zaheer got injured again."

The former Pakistan national coach felt that Sharma was bowling a little bit on the shorter side.

"Ishant was bowling the wrong length, an Indian length on Australian wickets. All the Australian bowlers were getting wickets when they pitched (the ball) up. He was bowling with lot of heart, he was making the effort, but to me, the length was a bit wrong in the Tests," Lawson said.

The 54-year-old New South Welshman was full of praise for Kohli's display and his on-field attitude Down Under, but could not say much about his leadership skills.

"I like him as a batsman. He has got talent, got quick hands, good feet (movement). He stood up to the Australians and did well on those bouncy pitches. He played well on front foot and back foot."

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cricketers must put the country above themselves

What has been a matter of speculation till now is finally out in the open. The Indian cricket team is having to deal with a serious rift between captain M. S. Dhoni and vice-captain Virender Sehwag.

Whether this rift is behind the lacklustre showing of the Indians in Australia, or questions raised over the team's dismal performance have caused things to boil over, is unclear so far. What is certain is that ego tussles between two senior players threaten to mar further the fortunes of the under-performing team.

The potshots that Dhoni and Sehwag have taken at each other at recent press conferences over the rotation policy being followed for senior players were clearly uncalled for. Such issues are best settled within the confines of the dressing room, and the fact that the captain and his deputy chose to wash the dirty linen in public indicates that all is not well with the channels of communication within the team.

Dhoni and Sehwag seem to consider their personal tussle more important than the interests of the team, and the expectations of millions of Indians. It need not be stressed here that their importance stems only because they represent India in the international arena. Realising that they are not larger than the team would help them lend a perspective to the issue bedeviling their ties.

While there is no denying that it is Dhoni's prerogative as captain to choose the eleven that he wants to field, this should not lead to autocratic functioning on his part, especially as regards senior players who have served Indian cricket for long.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sri Lanka sets India 237 to win

Sachin Tendulkar will continue his pursuit of a 100th international century as India chases a victory target of 237 against Sri Lanka in a tri-series limited-overs international.

Sri Lanka recovered from two early setbacks to reach 236-9 in Tuesday’s tri-series match, with No. 4 Dinesh Chandimal run out for 81 after sharing important partnerships of 51 for the third wicket with Kumar Sangakkara (31) and 94 for the fourth with skipper Mahela Jayawardene (43).

Vinay Kumar took a wicket in the last over and returned the best bowling figures of 3-46 for India. Ravichandran Ashwin took 2-30.

Tendulkar was recalled after being rested for Sunday’s four-wicket win over Australia. The leading batsman in cricket hasn’t posted a century since March.

Sri Lanka hasn’t won a match yet in the series and, after winning the toss and electing to bat, didn’t get away to a positive start.

Vinay Kumar had Upul Tharanga caught behind off the second ball and recalled paceman Irfan Pathan had Tillekeratne Dilshan (16) also caught by Mahendra Singh Dhoni as Sri Lanka struggled to 28-2 in the eight over.

Chandimal and Sangakkara set about slowly recovering the innings and took the total to 79 before Sangakkara got a leading edge as he charged at Ashwin in the 20th over and was caught at point.

Chandimal and Jayawardene both made important contributions before falling within seven deliveries as Sri Lanka lost three wickets for 11 runs. Kumar broke the partnership when he trapped Jayawardene lbw as he returned to the attack in the 37th over. The 22-year-old Chandimal stroked six fours and a six before he was run out to make the total 178-5.

Two overs and only six runs later, Ashwin had Thisara Perera (5) caught at deep mid-off attempting to hit out.

Angelo Mathews (17), whose attempted quick single resulted in Chandimal’s dismissal, was run out himself after guiding Sri Lanka to 210—7 in the 47th over. Sachithra Senanayake scored 22 from 14 balls and was unbeaten at the end of the innings.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Ind vs SL: Angelo Mathews strikes as Sachin Tendulkar misses ton again

Sachin Tendulkar, who was playing well and looked destine for 100th ton, was bowled by Angelo Mathews for 48 in the second ODI of the tri-series against Sri Lanka at the WACA in Perth.

The master blaster played a sensible knock of 48 off 63 balls, which included five hits to the fence, before Mathews got better of him in the 19th over.

Tendulkar added valuable 75-run for the second wicket with Virat Kohli to revive India run chase after they lost Virender Sehwag (10) early.

Chasing a modest 234-run target, India lost opener Sehwag in the third over to be reduced to 14/1 in 2.3 overs.

Sehwag started in a typical aggressive style as he hit two fours in his short 8-ball stay on the crease before Kulasekara took a running catch at the third man area off the bowling of Lasith Malinga.

Asked to field first, Ravichandran Ashwin (3-32) and Zaheer Khan (2-44) led a fine bowling display by India as they restricted Sri Lanka to 233/8 on Wednesday.

Ashwin dismissed three crucial Sri Lankan middle-order batsmen as the Islanders failed to increase their tempo in the entire match and set a modest 234-run target for the Indians. Ashwin finished his ten overs spell with impressive figure of 3 for 32 runs.

Zaheer started Indian attack on the right note as he took two early wickets after Sri Lanka decided to bat at the bouncy WACA pitch.


Sunday, February 05, 2012

Yuvraj Singh will receive help from government

Yuvraj Singh, who is undergoing cancer treatment in the United States, has received wishes from Indian Sports Minister Ajay Maken on Sunday.

Maken said the government will help Yuvraj, as the nation prays for his speedy recovery. "Wish Yuvraj a speedy recovery! Asking officials to find the quantum and nature of help required. Government shld & will help him," Maken tweeted last night.

Yuvraj, who played a stellar role in India's ODI World Cup triumph last year, has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy in the US. (Read)

The 30-year-old left-hander has been in US since last month being treated for what was earlier claimed to be a tumour in the lungs by his family. But it has now been diagnosed as malignant and Yuvraj is currently undergoing chemotherapy in the Cancer Research Institute in Boston.

His physiotherapist Dr Jatin Chaudhary, however, assured that the ailment is curable and the batsman would be fit to resume cricket in May.

"It is a rare tumour and is cancerous but it has been detected in stage one itself. Doctors had to decide whether to continue medication or go for chemotherapy but since parts of the tumour are just above the artery of his heart, there was a danger that while running it could burst. But it is 100 per cent curable," Chaudhary said.

"The doctors decided that he would have to undergo chemotherapy and he travelled to the US on January 26. End of March, he would undergo a CT scan and should recover by then. After that it is just some rehabilitation in April before he is fit to be back on the field in May," he added.

"Thankfully no surgery is required, he is already a lot better than what he was and can't wait to be back on the cricket field," he said.

Chaudhary said the detection of cancer was delayed by wrong diagnosis by an Indian hospital.

"His first biopsy report was stolen from his car and the second from a hospital, I don't want to name, did not give the correct diagnosis. It was a Russian doctor who detected the cancer and after consultations with doctors in US, it was decided that Yuvraj would undergo chemotherapy," he said.

"Once he is done with chemo in March, his rehabilitation would be complete by April end and he would be perfectly fit to play in May," he added.

Yuvraj has played 37 Tests, scoring 1775 runs at an average of 34.80.

He has 8051 runs at an average of 37.62 from his 274-match ODI career, the highlight of which was his stellar role in India's World Cup triumph last year.

In 23 Twenty20s, Yuvraj has scored 567 runs at 31.50.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tendulkar, Dravid & Laxman must retire, feels Reid

Former Australian pacer Bruce Reid has opined that India’s legendary batting trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman should retire in the interest of Indian cricket.

Reid was quoted in MiD Day as saying, “India definitely need to blood some new batsmen. There's no doubt that Sachin, Laxman and Dravid have been champion players. But they need to realise that you can't play forever.

“There comes a time, when you reach a certain age, you starting losing your reflexes, eye sight, and so on -- especially if the opposition is bowling as well as the Australians are. I have the utmost respect for the trio -- but they should go out before Indian cricket plunges even further -- not that you can plunge further than the rock bottom it has already hit.

Reid, India’s former bowling coach feels India’s downfall can be attributed to the emphatic bowling performance by the new-look Australian pace-attack.

He said, "I am not saying India didn't bat appallingly (in the just-concluded Test series), but this has been one of the best bowling performances by Australia. They pitched the ball up, swung it and bowled fast. I think after England and South Africa, Australia now has the best up-and-coming attack."

Reid feels he has been disappointed with the way Indian team management have treated talented left-handed pacer Irfan Pathan.

He said, "When I first met Irfan (Pathan) in 2003, I was so impressed with what he had to offer. But I was a bit amazed that he was put up in the batting order.