Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Time to Join The Virat Kohli Bandwagon

I'll admit it, I hated this kid.

This young upstart appeared and quickly established himself as one of the many flat track wonders, plundering usually lesser teams to all corners of sub-continent grounds and being hailed for his incredible maturity (?) while earning himself the rather unfortunate title of 'The Future of Indian Cricket'.

Despite contributing little but good fielding and a foul mouth, he was soon a World Cup champion. I was utterly convinced that all we had here is another Suresh Raina, and the overseas tours will sort this young brat out.

It did, but not quite in the way I expected.

He was a pillar in the Test Series, the only Indian batsman who batted with any level of skill and assurance including the only one to cross three figures. He completely outclassed the best batting line-up there is.

But even that doesn't compare to yesterday.

Dear critics, this one is for you. © AFP

Last nights century truly was something to behold. The thought of chasing 320 inside 40 overs was laughable, ludicrous, nothing short of a joke. The match unfolded and ridicule descended into vague possibility, probability, and then a scarcely believable certainty.

Yes it was a dead pitch, yes the bowling and fielding absolutely dire and the ridiculous concept of powerplays almost made it feel like cheating. But regardless, to turn in a performance like that, to find that level of sudden confidence after a tour marked down as a complete disaster, that takes a certain mindset and ability and it has to be admired.

The incredible innings placed him as the only Indian centurion in the one-day series as well. We mustn't forget that this has been a wretched tour for Indian batsman. With Sehwag aiming for another 200, Sachin making the prettiest 20's, Gambhir establishing himself as the run out king, Raina playing bouncers like a little child and of course Dr. Dhoni single handedly killing three run chases. At least with Kohli, the Indian cricket team in the years to come will have one quality player who can handle himself away from home.

India are still most likely going to leave this tour early, but finally they have one thing to cheer about and one person worth remembering. I would have laughed if somebody believed he truly was the future of Indian cricket. Now Kohli is the one doing the laughing.

Its the Virat Kohli bandwagon folks, and The Cricket Musings has just leaped aboard.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why Gambhir Hates Dhoni

Once upon a time, there was a World Cup final.



G Gambhir b Perera 97 (187m 122b 9x4 0x6) SR: 79.50
MS Dhoni 91* (79b 8x4 2x6)


Then there was a match in Australia.

© Getty


G Gambhir lbw b McKay 92 (139m 111b 7x4 0x6) SR: 82.88
MS Dhoni 44* (58b 1x6)

And then they faced the mighty Sri Lankans.

© Getty


G Gambhir run out 91 (168m 106b 6x4 0x6) SR: 85.84
MS Dhoni 55* (68b 3x4 1x6)

© Associated Press

The bottom line
MS Dhoni will not be high on the invite list at Gautam's birthday party.

Related Reading:
The Sehwag problem
How to save Indian cricket.

Monday, February 13, 2012

MS Dhoni - Ice Cool or Massive Fool?

And so India have something to sing about. Sharp bowling, another impressive fielding performance and an Indian top order that finally looks comfortable. It was a slick run chase that was more or less sealed in the 35th over.

Until Dhoni lost the match... and then won it again for himself.

Message boards everywhere are flooded with Dhoni praise, hailing Captain Cool and showering him with love and worship. This match will be solely remembered for that last over six and will probably feature in many a highlights reel to come.

But the truth is, it was staged. It was thunder stealing drama that was created from nothing, it was a match winning shot that never should have been. Dhoni manufactured a false situation from which he could become the hero.

Consider the events on the night:

  1. Gambhir more or less wins the match with an easy controlled innings and able support from Kohli and Sharma. 
  2. Dhoni comes out and slows the match to a grinding halt. He refuses to attempt any risk taking shot, chewing up balls nonsensically and dumping the entire load on Suresh Raina, whose crucial boundaries are the only thing that keeps India in the game.
  3. Raina and Jadeja lose their wickets picking up the slack of Captain Freeze. The Australian fielders are suddenly in South Africa mode and are fumbling all over the place, missing run-outs and conceding valuable overthrows.
  4. Thirteen off the last over required when the last over should never have come. Dhoni after inching along in a boundary free innings  hits that six, then receives a gift of a waist high no-ball (off which he was out caught!) and the rest is history. 
I'll Take That!  © AFP

Dear reader, this is exactly how Dhoni has managed to maintain an ODI average of over fifty and earned his title of 'the finisher'.  He doesn't do the real work, letting all of his pawns fall around him while ensuring he remains not out in the last over before having a hit-or-miss swing at victory. The truth is he is no Michael Bevan, who had the ability to resurrect a dead innings rather than kill an innings first.

This time it paid off and he successfully stole every shred of credit, while earlier in the tour he single-handedly ruined what should have been a possible Twenty20 victory using this same method. And of course it doesn't work at all in test matches.

Its incredibly shrewd and wily, its earned him a world number one ranking in ODI cricket, and at the same time its unbelievably selfish and built on sheer dumb luck. Who here even remembers Gambhir's top scoring effort in the World Cup final? He was forgotten then and he will be forgotten now.

Opinion is wildly divided on this man but my stance is perfectly clear. Dhoni is simply a pretty coat of paint on an otherwise perfectly working machine.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Sehwag Formula

A typical cricketer regardless of nation will grow and mature in their skills and abilities. Tendulkar put away his broken cover drive in 2003 and mastered the grind, Daniel Vettori forged a batting technique from oblivion, even Ganguly reinvented himself. One guy on the other hand bats exactly the same way since day one, and he doesn't care.

Too cool to care.  © Getty

The Sehwag technique that comprises of cement based shoes and swinging madly regardless of pace, bounce or swing. While it works and its forged a decent career, one wonders if this cuts the mustard now that the old reflexes are going. Not a single decent innings on this Australia tour, it does make one wonder what the future bodes.

So here it is, forecast for Sehwag 2012:

Jan: Uppercuts 2nd ball straight to 3rd man.
Feb: Bowled 4th ball.
Mar: Uppercuts 4th ball straight to 3rd man.
Apr: Uppercuts 2nd ball straight to 3rd man.
May: Out with shoulder injury caused by uppercutting one too many times.
Jun: Back from injury and fresh. Uppercuts first ball straight to 3rd man.
Jul: Bowled 2nd ball.
Aug: Change of tactics by Captain Fool. Demoted down the order, Bowled 4th ball.
Sep: Shoulder injury returns. But, now also has groin injury due to loosing middle stump one too many times.
Oct: Not fully fit, but opens innings with Gauti. Bowled 1st ball. Captain Fool blames it on injury. (Gauti out edged to 2nd slip 3rd ball)
Nov: Sehwag attends press conference and says no plans for retirement for next 10 years. Also says he will not change the way he plays one bit no matter what, citing his recent double hundred.
Dec: Sehwag again attends press conference and promises next year will be balle balle, because his mom has increased his milk intake. Desi-janta is very pleased to hear Sehwag's promise and his robust health. Everybody glued to TV sets in anticipation.

for i=2013:1:2023

if i= 2016 or 2019

   Play only Kenya, Ireland, Zimbabwe, Afghanisthan and home matches. Have the BCCI rig this.


   Repeat 2012 in random order.


Special thanks to Hemanth Porumamilla