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Showing posts from July, 2011
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Better days of Test cricket are hard to come by. This is what we live for, the kind of battle we flock to the grounds to, put aside work and other daily activities and chores for, skip work for, the reason some of us become sports writers. Those of you who happened to be at Trent Bridge to day, I envy you.

The first session, to India. Dravid and Laxman, Indian cricket's third best partners of all time, but who had
never batted together in the first over of an innings before yesterday, once again seeing their side out of tricky spot. From the rigor and caution of the first evening, to the confidence and panache of the second morning. Laxman, the aggressor, cutting and driving and pulling, supple of wrist and keen of eye. Dravid, the indefatigable, pushing and leaving and tucking and dabbing and steering. Laxman, seeing the ball and judging the length early, playing late and punching through the line and on the rise. Dravid, quick to come forward and then deflect the ball with soft …
Trent Bridge, the scene of a famous draw in 2002 and an epic win in 2007. India return to the venue having lost the first Test, and look in some trouble. Virender Sehwag is still not available and Zaheer Khan is a doubtful starter. They appear shaken, though not by any means down and out. With or without Zaheer, they will have to shape up and play a lot better than they did at Lord's.

Lets back the truck up a bit. Should we be surprised India lost the first Test? Taking nothing away from what India have achieved over the past few years, they had little time to acclimatize, had rusty players returning from injuries, and were without Sehwag. They lost, but weren't steamrolled. It wasn't a crushing loss. They will pick themselves up. That's what good teams do.

India have been No. 1 in Test cricket for some time. They've beaten Australia, England, Sri Lanka at home. They drew with South Africa home and away. They won in New Zealand, drew in Sri Lanka. There have been …

The Chemistry Brothers

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A mesmerizing fifth day at Lord's awaits. England need nine wickets, India need to bat three sessions to escape. Gambhir in some doubt following a blow to the elbow, Tendulkar unable to bat until half an hour after lunch or till five wickets are down. Dravid, yet to be dismissed in this Test, and Laxman, the man for a crisis, at the crease together, both having made it to the thirties before stumps on day four. The 2000th Test is set up amazingly.

Today, Dravid and Laxman will walk out for India as they have done so creditably and so often. Both at the end of their illustrious careers; Dravid, the second-highest run-scorer in Tests ever, a legend of the modern game and indeed of all times, and India's most dependable batsman and best No 3. Laxman, who summons his inner legend when the chips are down. The pair will be up against Anderson, Tremlett, Broad and Swann, England's best attack since the summer of 2005. Yet again, a Test to be saved, a precarious situation to be t…

Rain, rain, rain ...

So, a damp squib of an opening day at Lord's. A sedate start from England's openers after Dhoni won a good toss and opted to field, and I reckon India will feel a bit let down by their performance. Zaheer aside - he really is the most important player on either side - the bowling lacked bite.

Praveen, playing for the first time in England, got the new ball to move about significantly in a nine-over first spell, but was guilty of pitching a tad short on occasion. Seeing Dhoni stand up to the stumps on the first day of a Test was a bit odd, but then Praveen has little pace to speak of. With his style of bowling - a quintessential county bowler, though he's never played in England - Praveen should have been pitching the ball up more to the batsmen. He drew thick edges off Pietersen's bat, with the batsman defending both times. Neither time did the ball carry to a fielder, and Praveen thus should have been getting them driving, so that the harder the shot, the further the …

Here's to a summer of cricket ...

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Tomorrow England will host India at Lord's, the 100th time the two countries will go at it in whites, and it will mark the occasion of the 2000th Test overall. That the match is being played at Lord's, the home of cricket - yes, that is what it is and will always remain, no matter what other countries will have you believe in this day and age - only adds to the significance of the moment. India's Lord's history is shaky, and that adds to the intrigue of this first Test of four. 

For one member of the current Indian squad, a return to Lord's is a very, very special occasion. And rightfully so. Fifteen years ago, at Lord's, began a very, very special cricket's very, very special journey. Today Rahul Dravid is 49 runs short of surpassing Ricky Ponting's Test tally and moving into second place behind Sachin Tendulkar, the only other current Indian player to have been at Lord's in 1996.

Tendulkar himself arrives in England with plenty of buzz around him…

Mussoorie in the monsoon

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This place is home. Its been home for years, but over the past ten I've hardly been here for more than a couple weeks at a time. A couple Christmases, the odd weekend or four-day trip from Bangalore, one 36-hour visit and another 48-hour visit earlier this year from Bombay. Thus, after a busy few months (the World Cup and IPL, mainly) I decided to take off six weeks or so and come up to Mussoorie, to Oakville, and do some writing and running and bicycling. It was long overdue.

The writing is going along well, the running not so well, due largely to the rain, and the bicycling ... well, that's not happening. But I do get in a good five to six kilometers of walking a day, and twice did more than that with walks into the bazaar and back, up Mullingar and on to Char Dukan, then back around the chakkar and to Oakville. Here are a few pictures from early morning walks and late afternoon/evening strolls.


Its something else to be able to walk alone through the oaks and pines and deod…

Oakville - our field of dreams

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We each have our field of dreams. The space where we first really took to cricket, where we played the game because we just loved the sound of ball (rubber, tennis, cork, whatever) on ball, where we could square-drive like our heroes (Dravid, for me) and mimic bowling actions and try our hands at legspin or left-arm pace and try to intimidate and flourish, and where we could - for an hour, a day - escape the drudgery of school and chores. Maybe it was a parking lot or a sandlot, a maidaan, an open field, a side street, a gulli, a stadium, an terrace. You know what I'm talking about.

For me, that field was a beaten up, run down former tennis court tucked away between the magnificent deodar and handsome Indian Chestnut tree and sturdy Himalayan Oak and serene maple trees. A little piece of heaven where in days of yore British, American and Canadian missionaries spent sunny summer afternoons playing tennis and rounders but which by the time my buddies and I took over had withered int…