Archive for August, 2008
The ODI series starts tomorrow with conditions looking pretty good for cricket. The pitch is said to be firm in good shape and these types of conditions can suit any team. So far the Sri Lankan pitches have played pretty well. The usual definition of a good pitch is one which does not get worn out easily and offers something for batsmen, pacers and spinners too. It appears the pitches in this series have been made to facilitate pace bowling early on- this is seen commonly now in international cricket but Sri Lankans would have definitely planned for the pitch to produce some spin because of the M&M effect.
Currently Sri Lanka are no 7 in the world rankings in ODI’s, although in Test cricket they are placed at no 4, just below India. However it is interesting to see that Sri Lanka have the same rating as 6th placed England, but in terms of points they are about 100 points behind. The past couple of years have not been great for Sri Lanka in ODI cricket. Like India, they have also seen a sustained improvement in the longer version of the game but in ODI’s they are also inconsistent and unpredictable. This alone makes predicting who will win this series, very difficult as both sides are mercurial. The Indians are ranked 4th in ODI’s whereas Pakistan ranked 5th, are only 2 rating points behind India (Pakistan, having benefited from beating minnow sides over the past year).
Going into the first match, Sehwag appears doubtful to play because of his twisted ankle, although this affliction is only expected to prevent him from playing the first match. This is a considerable blow to the Indian camp as Sehwag has been a consistent performer this year for India along with Gambhir. This year Sehwag has averaged 45 in ODI’s along with a strike rate of 125. In terms of batting average and strike rate, so far 2008 has been the best year in his illustrious career.
Gambhir, though, has been in splendid form and will most certainly be playing. India will heavily rely on the pair of Sehwag and Gambhir if they are to win this series convincingly. India will be hoping Gambhir gets going tomorrow so that Sehwag’s presence is not felt. The key middle order batsmen are Dhoni and Yuvraj. Whereas consistency is expected from Dhoni, Yuvraj’s haphazard form will make the Indian fans somewhat anxious. Yuvraj did, however, score a commanding 172 in 121 balls in the recent practice match which India won by a decent margin. Suresh Raina deserves a mention too as someone who can turn the tide in favour of India as he was imperious in the recent Asia Cup, being the second highest run getter.
From the bowling side, the Indian think tank is doing the right thing by advocating 5 specialist bowlers to play in the XI (it somewhat helps India that Irfan Pathan can bat lower down the order). Harbhajan will look to carry on his recent admirable form, and Zaheer Khan also looked consistent with line and length recently. In the pace department India appear to have the edge with the experienced Pathan and Zaheer. Sri Lanka are going with one experienced and renowned pacer, Vaas, but what Sri Lanka have which India lack, are Murali and Mendis.
Mendis was the Man of the Series in the Test series and although the Indians have studied him extensively, there still appears to be a gap in their knowledge about his doosra and his flipper. It goes without saying Sri Lanka’s main bowlers in this series and Murali and Mendis although Vaas as always will contribute to an extent. Most commentators have already predicted that the result of this series will depend on how well (or badly) the Indians play Mendis and Murali.
Hence an interesting series looms ahead, with both sides being quite evenly matched it seems. Whereas India have been in good form overall in the past two years, they did look underconfident in the Test series against Mendis and Murali. Sri Lanka do carry the psychological advantage at the moment because of this M&M effect. Nevertheless, the Indian team has a chance to make amends for what happened in the Test series and Dhoni and his men will look to convince their fans that India is still a formidable side in world cricket.
The ICC is satisfied with the level of security in place for next month’s Champions Trophy in Pakistan. But, there are certain elements who are continuing to be rogue and remain less than convinced. Their motive is only to sway the Champions Trophy away to some other country where there is glitz, glamour, girls and booze.
A few days ago, the ICC recruited Pakistani coach Geoff Lawson in a bid to convince the best players of Australia, NZ, England and SA to play at the Champions Trophy in Pakistan. Haroon Logart the ICC CEO, hailed the decision of appointing him as the ambassador or the coordinator with these countries as Lawson being an Australian lives in Lahore and assured their countrymen that the players have never been targeted or they are at risk.
Lorgat also said that the task force would visit Australia, New Zealand and England in an attempt to convince the players to tour Pakistan. One group, which will be led by the ICC’s David Richardson, will meet with Cricket Australia on Friday, with Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke representing the team. Following the ICC board’s decision last month to go ahead with the tournament in Pakistan, the players’ associations in Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa had raised concerns over the security situation, even warning of a possible boycott. Similar doubts were echoed by the international captains Graeme Smith, Kevin Pietersen and Ricky Ponting.
Its a shame that Graeme Smith and his big old boys were in Pakistan last year and they’ve won the test and ODI series and were very happy with that. In fact after their arrival in Pakistan and prior to the matches they complained about too much security and now they have expressed concerns over security.
Some Aussies have written on other blogs that bombings are an everyday affair in Pakistan and the players’ lives are at risk, it is only a game of cricket so why should they take chances? First of all it is not an every day affair in the major cities, secondly the disturbances are at the border with Afghanistan and that is hundreds if not thousand miles away from Karachi and Lahore. Thirdly they are only a handful of people who are doing this against the government and their motive, agenda or aim is not against cricket players and cricket is watched in Pakistan by everyone.
In China right after the commencement of the Olympics several bombs went off in Xin Jiang, did they call off the Olympics? The response was, it is thousands of miles away from Beijing and some Islamists have done that.
In London during the time Ashes were being played at Lords just a couple of miles from the Lords cricket ground, the whole underground came to a halt in the wake of July 7 bombings and the match continued. Because, some Islamists have done that.
All people remember that 11 years ago when New Zealand were touring Pakistan a bomb blasted in the nearby hotel and they took the next flight to Wellington.
During the IPL at Rajhastan when several bombs shook the city of Jaipur the match that was scheduled to be played at Jaipur was in jeopardy because some of the Sissy Australian players wanted the venue to be shifted from Jaipur to Bangalore but that did not happen the venue was not shifted and they played. Because, they knew that the money was at stake and they kept quiet and played the match in Jaipur as per the schedule.
Why is that the Australians, NZ, England and South African players are always reluctant to play in Pakistan? Prior to this so-called terrorist threat, which always existed in the UK by the IRA bombers, these teams used to complain about a dull and boring tour to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Now they find a lot of booze, glitz, glamour and money in India they don’t complain against India but they have their reservation about Pakistan and airing a fear from terrorism is the easiest thing they can do.
If these players are not willing to visit Pakistan for the Champions Trophy their respective cricket boards must be asked to send a national team irrespective of who the players are and if they boycott the tournament then they should be penalized heavily.
In any case this dual standard, biases, prejudices must be removed and that is only possible when the ICC put their foot down and say NO just like Lalit Modi did in case of shifting the venue from Jaipur to Bangalore. It is only then these countries will behave. Spare the rod and spoil the child, these BIG BOYZ are already rotten and spoiled and they don’t need spanking on their Butts but they need to be punished differently i.e., by imposing bans on their playing international cricket. How many of you agree with this is something we need to discuss here on this blog.