Random riffs on the second ODI

#Exclusive: IPL, CL part of BCCI’s plans to torpedo Oz:

Confidential sources, speaking confidentially to Smoke Signals, indicated that the much-maligned franchise/club T20 competitions instituted by the BCCI were actually part of a “Chanakyan strategy” to undermine the dominance of Australian cricket.

“If you recall,” the confidential source said, speaking confidentially, “there was daylight between Australia and the rest of the cricketing world, and that was not a good thing for cricket in general. We realized that it was up to us to do something urgently!”

That something, he said, was the creation of the IPL, closely followed by the institution of the Champions’ League.

“Here’s how it works,” the source said. “As you know, the IPL begins in March, which means that by end February international players, including leading Australian stars, have to be in India to begin their training and preparation. We devised this as a very hectic competition — in fact, we are going to up the ante even further in season four, with more teams and more games planned — very deliberately. The way we see it, by the time the tournament is over in early April, most of the top Australian stars will be exhausted and/or injured, while others will decide it is too tough to play for the country and the league, and opt for the latter because we have more money than the ACB, hehehe!

“The injured Oz players will lose a month or two for recovery and rehab — and we are cleverly scheduling home or away tours with Australia during those months to increase our chances of winning. By the time they recover and regain top form, it will be August, September — just in time for them to return to India for the Champions’ League, which also we are planning to extend by adding more ‘champions’. By the time the CL is over, more Australian players will be exhausted and/or injured.

“You see how it works, now? We bring them here for various leagues, tire them out and send them back, so Australia will never have a fully fit team for its international commitments. And the results of our plan are showing already — Lee and Hopes are injured, Paine is in pain, Nielsen is nonplussed, Ponting is perplexed — and Australia are no more undisputed world champions.”

Okay, I’m kidding. I think.

#From a Sidharth Monga piece in Cricinfo on MS Dhoni’s innings yesterday, this laugh-out-loud clip:

When Dhoni hits big shots in the nets, Virender Sehwag is usually quick to point out, in banter, “MS, yahan to bade-bade lag rahe hain, match mein kya ho jata hai? [Where do these big shots disappear in the matches?]”

There is no disputing that Dhoni, batting in sober make-up, is doing statistically better than when he was in berserk mode. His famed cool was on full display during the 4th wicket stand of 119, at a steady 6.31, during which he contributed 55 to Gambhir’s 53. Between them, the two batsmen had [not all of it during their partnership] 89 singles and 15 twos, despite Ponting’s best fielders staying within the ring to deny them [69 dot balls, a touch over 11 overs, between the pair].

So maybe it is churlish to crib about Dhoni not batting in his earlier flamboyant fashion more often — but every so often you feel a nostalgic longing for that other Dhoni, he of the indiarubber wrists and twirling blade; the only batsman in contemporary cricket who is capable of taking a ball on half volley length on off stump and, by some inexplicable process of cricketing alchemy, convert it into a six over wide midwicket. For a flashback to that other Dhoni, read this. [Link courtesy one time cricket writer turned Open magazine feature writer Rahul Bhatia on Twitter].

#On a wicket with more pace and bounce than we have seen lately, it felt good to watch Ashish Nehra and more particularly, Ishant Sharma bowl. The latter looked so much more at ease on a wicket that responded to his efforts; the run up seemed more relaxed, the length was almost perfect, and the ball repeatedly hit the bat before the batsman was fully into his stroke. It’s a different story altogether that the next game will be played at the Firozeshah Kotla in Delhi, where a bowler who sends one down at 140k will see it get to the batsman at under 120k.

#While on the bowling, just when does the team management intend to begin scrutinizing Harbhajan Singh’s performance, and deciding that picking him as first choice spinner is not part of the Ten Commandments? On the day, he was yet again India’s most expensive, and least effective, bowler; Yuvraj and Jadeja outbowled him by a mile and even Raina, in the one over he got to strut his stuff, looked far more effective. A far more worrying sign for an off spinner, and for those monitoring his performance, must be this: he conceded 6 boundaries in the innings and of these, five were hit in the arc between backward point and cover point — shots that against an off spinner mean making room and hitting against the turn, largely off the back foot.

That one statistic underlines a whole slate of problems: the length is too short, the trajectory is flat, and the ball is not turning sufficiently enough to put an element of risk in forcing square on the off. One other statistic that I noticed while watching the live feed on TV: Of the bowlers who have done duty for India in recent ODIs, the most effective both in terms of runs taken and wickets earned has been Pragyan Ojha, while Bajji ranks high in the list of least effective. The captain said after the first ODI that Bajji is ‘perhaps’ not bowling as well as he can — the question that leaves us with is, why then is he an automatic selection, especially when there are other viable options around?


8 thoughts on “Random riffs on the second ODI

  1. y r the richest boards’ players the most greedy? australia, and england’s players literally on their knees begging for IPL cash is pathetic.

    also, dhoni playing favorites is something i didn’t foresee. but it seems to be the case. jadeja is in the team and rohit sharma is literally black listed.

  2. Bhajji seems to be in the classic ’90s Indian cricket mould. Lots of average performances, then one good one to point out to everyone how good he is (and seldom is even the good performance a great one). His batting is entertaining, and that’s the kind version of it. In test matches in India – sure, pick him as one of two spinners, but for long he has been the automatic choice as an ODI bowler for all the wrong reasons.

    Both Ojha and Mishra are definitely more interesting options (and wicket-taking ones) and especially in an Indian bowling unit shorn of out and out wicket takers, you need the spinner to do that role.

    Can’t understand how he became too big to be dropped, when even Kumble wasn’t given that luxury in ODIs.

    • Exactly. BTW, you know in India a player becomes ‘can’t be dropped’ not because of his skills but because of his connections. You could toss around a Dravid or a Kumble, not Bhajji.

  3. LOL on the chanakya strategy!! Although it does raise the question of why it is that the Aussies seem so physically fragile lately; they aren’t playing more cricket than the Indian team, surely? Of course we’ve had some of our best players injured and sitting out the Champions Trophy and such.

    That Sehwag quote is priceless and so typical, isn’t it? Perhaps this innings is an indication of MSD finding his own balance between his Twin personalities! And maybe his “responsibility” rubs off on some of the other big hitters allowing him some space to bring out his old self from time to time. That should make things more exciting.

    Agree with you on Bhajji, but minor nitpick: some of those offside boundaries he conceded in this game were hit by left-handers (like the three Hussey rolled off in his opening over) so they weren’t exactly “against the turn” – not that there was much turn in any case. His being an automatic choice makes no sense!

  4. Can’t agree with you more on Harbhajan. He has been clinging on to that spot for far too long purely on the basis of 2001 Oz series. Ojha (surprised why he is not in the team) & Mishra are miles ahead of him. I would have loved to see Ojha play this series. Since he has not been picked, Mishra should play the remaining matches. And if you really need an off-spinner, Yusuf Pathan was not doing any worse than Bhaji.

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