One-Day Mataram

Deconstructing the gentleman's game

Go it alone, Rahul!

After looking jaded and out-of-sorts in their DLF Cup campaign, Team India and it's coach are being panned for too much experimentation and too few results and almost no imagination.

Fair enough, I say! Nothing succeeds like success or fails like failure. If Chappell's way had continued to produce results as it did for the first half of his tenure so far (India was winning nearly 76% of its ODI matches during that period), everyone would have been gushing about the very same methods that are being trashed in the media right now. So I won't say too much about Chappell's methods. But I will say this... that Chappell ought to be more receptive of criticism and suggestions than he is. Closed minds rust away to nothingness, however great the ideas inside them!

Having said that, one of things that was noticeable quite prominently during the DLF Cup was the lack on imaginative captaincy on the part of Rahul Dravid. Dressing room strategy is one thing, but a match situation demands continuous thinking on one's feet out there in the middle. Rahul Dravid seemed to have outsourced all the thinking to Chappell and his staff. Precious little of Dravid's cricketing acumen was on display during the DLF Cup matches. As a captain he seemed unable to assert his views on the team he led. This prevented dynamic strategy changes based on on-field situations. The resulting one-dimensional approach was easy pickings for the opposing teams. The win against West Indies was Lara's gift to the Indians, more than anything else.

Now, with Chappell away on a break and the Challenger tournament coming up, it's a golden opportunity for Dravid to lead from the front, in the dressing room and on the field. The Indian Seniors side should go in without a coach. Dravid, Sehwag and Tendulkar should manage the team themselves during the Challenger series and get a grip on details like team composition and players' roles within the team. BCCI has decided to appoint Ian Frazer, Chappell's deputy, to coach the Seniors during this domestic series. That is a joke! Mr. Frazer, with due respect to him, can bring no value to the table in this instance. Instead of the seniors, he may be better off assisting one of the other two sides. The seniors, with individual players having more ODI experience than Chappell, are better off strategizing and playing the 3-4 matches on their own. It will be a great confidence booster for Rahul Dravid as a captain if he can truly 'lead' his team on his own. It will also give Chappell a couple of things to think about when he re-joins Team India before the Champions Trophy.

So go it alone, Rahul!

cross-posted at The Opti Mystic.

DLF Cup, Game 5: India v West Indies

With a do-or-die situation arising, as usual, for India... the fifth match in the DLF cup has started off with India choosing to bat against the West Indies.

The match is being played on the pitch used for the first round of matches. The one that Indians expressed their displeasure about. It seems to have a ridge or a trough running across it which tends to cause unexpected bounce, mostly on the lower side. It was this unusually low bounce that put off the Indians in the first match against the West Indies... according to the Indian team. Yet it's funny how Sachin managed to work around it even after being away from competitive international cricket for so long! Just goes to show the calibre of the individual. On the other hand, it may also be that the others in the team were not on full concentration while batting out there on that pitch. Perhaps this was due to the towering presence of the master at the other end. Who knows!

And predictably, with the fear of a misbehaving pitch playing on their minds, the Indians have got off to a bad start in today's match. At the time of publishing this post, the Indians are at 38/2 in 8.1 overs. Bad because they were 6/2 in 2.1 overs with Dravid and Sehwag back in the hutch.

I haven't been watching the play, so I cannot comment right now if the Sehwag wicket was due to the ball keeping low or owing to Sehwag's frustrating habit of trying to play a straight-batted shot away from the body without moving his feet.

Currently... Sachin and Raina are playing steadily. However it is to be borne in mind that Irfan Pathan, one of the key contributors to the big Indian score against the WI in their last match, is out of the team. Sreesanth takes his place. So while we lose a batsman(?!), we are playing with a bowler who should be very motivated to perform in order to show the selectors that they erred while keeping him out of the Champions Trophy squad.

Update1: Oops! ... Raina is out!! The score is 38/3 off 8.5 overs. Now it's testing times for the wobbly Indian middle order! Let's see how it goes!!

Update 2: Grrrr!! ... there goes Yuvraj to his favourite mode of dismissal... edging a moving ball outside the off-stump, to the wicketkeeper! He really should go back to the drawing board to rectify that!! ... Dhoni is in and he has just smashed three boundaries. Temporary relief? ... Hmmm... perhaps! Lets see!! It's 54/4 in 12.3 overs.

Update 3: Will Greg Chappell's gambit of going in with 5 specialist bowlers pay off?? Or will the lack of runs, due to the sacrifice of a batsman in the team, make Greg Chappell rue his decision?? ... It's 132/8 in the West Indian innings and just 31 runs to win. Lets wait and watch!! My money is on Lara taking his team past the winning post!

Sachin ala re!

Is Sachin Tendulkar back? Or is it too early to call?

Of course, Sachin is back! One may have been right in questioning his comeback in other circumstances. But when a guy coming back to international cricket carries his bat through the innings and in the process manages to show the world what it's been missing for the last 6 months or so, I think questions about comeback should be laid to rest.

Of course, consistency is another thing altogether! But then... consistency can get boring and magic stuns us when it happens when we least expect it to!

The crux of the matter is... Sachin Tendulkar is back... and I hope he continues to generate brilliance at his own pace. Expecting him to force the issue will only lead to mediocrity.

One-Day Mataram revived

Three years ago, well... actually closer to four, I started One-Day Mataram with my good friend Abhijeet. The two of us had been involved in writing about cricket within a group of like-minded friends for a long time before that. In the pre-blogging days, this group, named TEST-ing Times, used to interact over emails. During the 1999 cricket World Cup, we had run a small contest within this group. It was on the lines of ESPN-STAR's Superselector. But the points system was entirely our own and it worked wonderfully well. With the 2003 World Cup coming up, Abhijeet and I wanted to revive the World Cup contest and our cricket related writings. That is how One-Day Mataram was born.

The contest and this blog were quite successful during the 2003 World Cup and the top scoring player in our contest, Sachin Tendulkar, coincided with the ICC's choice for the Player of the Tournament. Also, this blog was featured on Rediff.com for being one of the few cricket blogs around at that time. Blogging was in its infancy in India then, you see!

However, general blogging and a shift to The Opti Mystic meant that this blog was ignored completely.

But I love to write about cricket. This does not arise from any great, in-depth, researched knowledge of the game. It's just that having followed the game for so many years with enthusiasm, I have opinions. And what is blogging if not a way to voice those opinions! ;-)

With the 2007 cricket World Cup approaching and a fairly packed itinerary for the Indian cricket team, I thought I should revive One-Day Mataram. And given that today, i.e. September 7 2006, is significant from the point of view of Vande Mataram and that with so much controversy surrounding it, I thought this would be the perfect time to start singing like a canary on One-Day Mataram! ;-)

One Day Mataram!!