Posts Tagged ‘tendulkar’

A Busy Week In Test Cricket Lies Ahead

It might be cold and dark here in the UK but in warmer climes, we have a busy week in the world of cricket ahead as three Test matches get underway.

In Adelaide, Australia take on India as they bid to seal a 4-0 series clean sweep although on a pitch expected to take turn, could this offer India a chance at reacquanting themselves with a winning feeling and will Sachin Tendulkar score his 100th international century?

Then in Abu Dhabi, Pakistan take on England in high spirits following their ten-wicket win in the opener in Dubai. England must improve on their performance if they are to stay in the series and must play especially well to overcome a well-discplined and well-drilled unit.

Finally, New Zealand meet Zimbabwe in Napier. Having almost produced an upset win in Zimbabwe when these two teams met last year, this match could well be worth watching. New Zealand have named uncapped players Kruger van Wyk and Sam Wells in their squad and they will not be taking Zimbabwe lightly.

Tillakaratne Dilshan

Tillakaratne Dilshan - captain no more

New Zealand’s last outing was a memorable win against Australia and they will hope that victory can be the springboard to further success.

Going one step further than New Zealand with their team selection is Australia. They have named an uncapped player – George Bailey – as their new Twenty20 International captain.

They play India in two T20s on 1st and 3rd February and have also recalled 40-year-old left-arm spinner Brad Hogg. Uncapped James Faulkner also makes the squad as erstwhile captain Cameron White and ‘Mr Cricket’ Michael Hussey miss out.

White is not the only player to become an ex-captain this week after Tillakaratne Dilshan resigned as Sri Lanka skipper to be replaced by Mahela Jayawardene.

For Australia, the road to the ICC World Twenty20 later this year starts here. But what are you most looking forward to watching this week?

How Will India Replace The Dravid-Tendulkar-Laxman Axis?

Watching the final day of the opening Test between India and the West Indies, we saw Sachin Tendulkar miss out in his latest quest for his hundredth international century and VVS Laxman guide his side to an impressive victory.

Both players were in supreme form and their 71-run partnership ensured there was no way back for the West Indies, who fought gamely, but came up short, despite having played exceptionally well over the first two days.

It was a tale of the two number fives – Shivnarine Chanderpaul scoring a century and then 47 to lead West Indies’ charge and his opposite number Laxman making up for a first innings failure with a consummate unbeaten 58 in 105 balls including some typically wristy leg-side strokes.

VVS Laxman - Irreplaceable?

VVS Laxman - Irreplaceable? Image: REUTERS / Action Images

India are undoubtedly going to face a slight dip when they have to replace Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid but do they have anybody ready to play Laxman’s role waiting in the wings?

His performances in his side’s second innings are exemplary – if not quite as good as Dravid or Tendulkar. It was he who carried India to unlikely wins over Australia in both Kolkata in 2001 and Mohali in 2008. He averages more than 55 against Australia – who during his career have more often than not been the best side in the world which is a testament to his being a man for the big match.

The three players complement each other perfectly, of course – Dravid as the solid, traditional number three bat allowing Tendulkar and Laxman’s free-flowing style to come through.

While the former style of player is rapidly going out of fashion – you would hardly call Darren Bravo or Shaun Marsh a blocker – there remains plenty of room in the game, and eventually India’s middle-order for prolific strokemakers.

Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina, Subramaniam Badrinath, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif are some of the players who have been tried but which of them, if any, have what it takes to nail down a spot in the middle order when India’s talented triumvarate decide to call it a day?

India have been blessed to have had so many talented cricketers at their disposal at the same time during the last ten years. There is talent coming through the ranks but whether they have the longevity and class of their predecessors will dictate India’s future on the field – particularly in Tests.

In the meantime, it’s going to be fascinating for the rest of us to see who gets picked and then how they do. Who would you pick and how long do you think Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman can play on for?

Will Tendulkar Score His 100th Century Against The West Indies?

Let us leave the spot-fixing trial to one side for a moment to focus on on-field matters as there is some good quality Test cricket both underway and coming up.

Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar - due to score his 100th international century? Picture: REUTERS / Action Images

The Pakistan-Sri Lanka battle has been fascinating while Zimbabwe are on the back foot against New Zealand but I want to turn your attention to India playing the West Indies, in which the first Test begins on Sunday in Delhi.

On the face of it, India should be plenty strong enough to win the three-match series and there is a strong chance that sometime in the next month Sachin Tendulkar will score an unprecedented 100th international century.

Yet, if you look at current form this is a meeting between a side that has lost its last four matches (India) against a team on a high, fresh from winning an overseas series for the first time in eight years and with an exciting young leg-spinner in their ranks (Devendra Bishoo).

India, meanwile, have rung the changes – out go Harbhajan Singh and Suresh Raina, in come Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Ravi Ashwin. One wonders whether probable Test debuts, Rahane and Kohli doubtless being touted as the next Tendulkars/Dravids/Sehwags and Tendulkar’s impending landmark could just distract the Indian side.

Make no doubt about it, in Kirk Edwards, Kraigg Brathwaite and Kieran Powell, the West Indies have unearthed some fine batsmen who appear to have the temparement to match their skills and they will be stronger for including Adrian Barath in their side.

The perfect result for the neutrals is probably a 2-1 series win for either side with Tendulkar scoring his 100th century – probably earlier rather than later – but as both sides look to rebuild their sides it could offer several pointers for the future.

India-England Series Reflections – Do England Need A New Strategy?

By the time England slumped to a galling 5-0 defeat to India as they lost the final One-Day International in Kolkata by 95 runs, a sense of inevitability had been lingering for much of the tour.

Nobody was particularly surprised when they lost, or that they failed to bat through 50 overs for the fourth time in five games. Missing star players Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, they looked nothing like the team that looked so good when beating India 3-0 on home soil all of two months ago.

England’s record in India is abysmal and they have long struggled to deal with conditions in the subcontinent but what might the management have learned from this series and are big changes required ahead of the series against Pakistan?

Undoubtedly the return of those four players will boost England but is a change of strategy required, as has been mooted by former captain Michael Vaughan, or should England just accept that in this series, they were outplayed by the world champions who showed that while their strength in depth in Test cricket is somewhat lacking, in ODIs, their bench strength is unparalleled.

For India, there was no Sehwag, no Tendulkar, no Yuvraj, no Harbhajan Singh, no Zaheer Khan yet no real problem with defeating England.

India Too Strong For England

India celebrate, England go back to the drawing board - REUTERS / Action Images

Yuvraj Inspires India – Now For Clash With Pakistan

India answered a lot of searching questions during the course of their five-wicket win over Australia in their World Cup quarter-final in Ahmedabad. The majority of the 42,000 fans in the stadium went away happy with what they had seen and for the first time in 15 years, an Australian captain will not be lifting the World Cup trophy.

Going into the match, many questioned India’s temperament – did they have what it takes to beat Australia in a match that really mattered in the latter stages of a competition? They proved they did thanks to an outstanding bowling, fielding and batting display.

Led by Yuvraj Singh’s unbeaten 57 and brace of wickets, the only blemish was the mix-up which saw Gautam Gambhir run out; but Yuvraj made sure that he was there at the end to see the game through.

We also questioned whether India’s batsmen could cope with the extreme pace offered by Australia’s bowling attack – Shaun Tait, Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson – but they dealt with the challenge admirably. And Sachin Tendulkar shone through once again, his half-century taking him past the mark of 18,000 One-Day International runs. It is surely inconceivable that anyone will ever score that many again.

A word for Ricky Ponting, who came into the game in no sort of form and under intense pressure – not something he has become unused to following the recent dip in his side’s performances – only to produce a fine century.

Although he was able to deliver when his country needed it most, few of his colleagues, with the honourable exceptions of Brad Haddin and David Hussey, were also able to weigh in, resulting in Australia setting India a target that they always knew, provided they didn’t lose wickets in the way they have been throughout the tournament, would be attainable.

Yuvraj, on the other hand, in and out of the side in the last 12 months, has come into form at just the right moment. He has now scored 341 runs in the tournament, with a century and four half-centuries to his name. He averages the small matter of 113.66 and has also taken 11 wickets at 24.63 including a maiden five-wicket haul against Ireland.

What we now have in store is the match-up that many cricket fans will have been dreaming of as India and Pakistan meet in what promises to be an unmissable semi-final in Mohali on 30th March.

Yuvraj has an excellent record against Pakistan and India have never lost a 50-over match in a World Cup against their arch-rivals. However, Pakistan showed how strong they were with a ruthless demolition job against the West Indies in the opening quarter-final having finished on top of a competitive Group A.

They do have recent history of beating India in Mohali and have already gone way further in the tournament than they did in both 2003 and 2007. Aiming for a repeat of 1992, when they won, and 1999 when they reached the final, they will need their own talisman – Shahid Afridi – to inspire them as Yuvray has been inspiring India thus far.

As far as predictions go – as Chetan Narula says during his latest Cricket World @ The World Cup podcast, it will come down to who handles the pressure and the situation the best on the day.

One thing is for sure – it is a game nobody can afford to miss.