Showing posts from August, 2011

Mussoorie Days - column for GQ India, August 2011 issue

A shellacking, a hammering, call it what you want. It wasn't pretty, and India have much soul-searching to do. But instead of going crazy and hammer and tongs at the team, we need to accept that that India were just poor, and were beaten by a very good team. England won session after session, leaving India with very little to clutch at. They came in at them and didn't allow much room to breath or flex their muscles.

Their lower order was far superior to India's, which in the first two Tests was rolled over. On day one at Trent Bridge, England lifted themselves from 85 for 5 to 221 with the last two wickets adding 97 runs. Conversely, India capitulated from 267 for 4 to 288 in a matter of six overs. In their first three innings, India lost their last five wickets for 46, 36, and 15 runs. It was heartening to see MS Dhoni and Praveen Kumar offer some fight in both innings at Old Trafford, and for India's sake lets hope this inspires the batsmen.

Crucially, E…
Links to latest pieces for GQ India: on Dravid's ODI recall and what India can learn from the Test series. More to follow.
There are some cricketers who manage to endear themselves to individuals for various reasons. I'm not talking of superstars or legends of the game, but of those smaller figures who, for one innings or shot or spell or catch or celebration or series, left an impression. For me, one such cricketer is Robert Croft.

Croft played only 50 one-dayers and 21 Tests for England, and will probably be remembered as an international cricketer more for his gritty unbeaten 37 scored in over three hours - and which made up for three wicketless Tests- to help seal a famous draw against South Africa in 1998 and for his decision not to tour India in 2001 because of security concerns more than for his prowess as an offspinner. For me, however, Croft will always be a cherubic fighter. 

I never saw him bowl live in a first-class game, but through telecasts of Benson & Hedges matches and clippings in newspapers and Sportstar when in school in the Himalayas, found myself drawn to his pudgy offsp…

Dravid's recall: a knee-jerk reaction

Once again, youth has been jettisoned, the system has been done away with, journalist's Saturdays have been ruined and, quite amazingly, Rahul Dravid is back in the one-day team. The same Dravid who was dumped twice over the last four years and overlooked for the World Cup, a chance he silently pined for. WTF?

The decision, we are told, is a pragmatic, immediate one: the team is marred by injury and needs Dravid's vault of international experience - he is the seventh-highest run-scorer of all time, with 10,765 runs in 339 matches - and his innate ability to scrap and hold together an innings. 

But the man in question is 38 years and 207 days and hasn't played an ODI since September 2009, after being recalled two years from being dropped. The scenario then? India's young hopefuls had failed to cope in testing conditions in the lead-up to the Champions Trophy in 2009. The scenario now? Injury to Yuvraj Singh, Cheteshwar Pujara's absence through injury, the apparent n…
Two bad losses in a row. Bad bole toh ... BAD. Defeats by 196 and 319 runs is massive. The better side has won, and the poorer side has much to reflect on. But you win some, you lose some. India haven't looked a No. 1 side all tour, and they've been guilty of letting England off the hook several times during the past two Tests. They've got only themselves to blame because they had chances to shut England out on all of the first three days.
You have a team on the mat at 124 for 8, and then allow them to score 221. Then you get a lead of 40 with six wickets in hand and end up with a lead of 67. And on the third day, India's generosity in the field - what was Dhoni doing with his fielders? - meant they went from chasing 275 to over 478. That is poor cricket and you aren't doing yourselves any favors by ending up in such situations. Not the cricket of a No. 1 side, and the way India are shaping up means they will have to play extremely good cricket to ret…