Posts Tagged ‘Harbhajan Singh’

Andrew Symonds back in nets

September 13, 2008

Andrew Symonds has joined his good friend Matthew Hayden for a net session in Queensland in what is believed to be his first hit-out since being banished from Australia’s squad. Symonds took the opportunity for some practice on Friday, the same day he was left out of Australia’s 15-man touring party to visit India.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Queensland were hopeful the allrounder would be training with the state squad within a couple of weeks. He has reportedly already spoken to Phil Jauncey, the sports psychologist who will help Symonds through his rehabilitation program organised by Cricket Australia.

However, Cricket Australia stood firm on Symonds’ situation and told the selectors he was not ready to be considered for the India trip. Aside from a brief statement that shed little light on his situation, Symonds has not spoken publicly since being sent home from Darwin for going fishing when he should have been at a team meeting.

Symonds’ general attitude has been a concern for Australia over the past 12 months, a period during which he was subjected to monkey chants during an ODI series in India and was then at the centre of a racism controversy with India’s Harbhajan Singh. The incident resulted in Harbhajan being initially banned for three Tests but then cleared on appeal.

Adam Gilchrist, Symonds’ former team-mate, believes the batsman remains upset about the racism episodes. “I think it is fair to say that Andrew Symonds is heavily affected by the last year’s incidents,” Gilchrist told CNN-IBN.

“I can’t speak for him as in what he was thinking but it is difficult to explain things. It is a common problem or issue and it is only going to be increased with pressures and intensity and the scrutiny that these players go through.”

The loss of Symonds, who has averaged 77.70 in Tests in the past year, is a big blow to Australia’s middle order ahead of the four-Test tour. Harbhajan, who will play in the series, is keen to put last season’s controversy behind him.

“I would prefer to look forward,” Harbhajan told the Sydney Morning Herald. “He is obviously a great player and there is no doubt about his ability to change a match. He has done a lot for Australian cricket. I hope he is well, and that he is getting better.”

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Ganguly possibly out for Australia Series

September 8, 2008

Irani Trophy 2008-09

Mohammad Kaif is the likely candidate to replace Sourav Ganguly in the Rest of the India middle order

Sourav Ganguly has been left out of the Rest of India squad for the Irani Trophy match in which I think is a signal from the national selectors that it is time to start phasing out India’s veteran middle-order. Other notable exclusions for the season-opener are Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma and S Badrinath – but Mohammad Kaif has returned to the reckoning after his 94 for India A against Australia A.

The Rest team for the match against Delhi, which starts in Vadodara on September 24, is meant to feature probables for the Australia Test series in October. Ganguly’s exclusion raises once again a question mark over his international future – he is already out of the ODI picture.

A national selector and a senior BCCI official said the selectors consulted Anil Kumble, the India Test captain, and Gary Kirsten, the national coach, before dropping Ganguly. Both Kumble and Kirsten were completely on board with the decision, they said.

One of the selectors also spoke to Ganguly about the decision and the former India captain has “accepted it”, the selector said.

I think it is a signal to the team, he’s 36-37 and it was getting increasingly tough for him to cope with the fielding and fitness levels expected from him at the international level. I think it’s time to start the process of bringing in the next set of players.

While the decision to drop Ganguly was based on a dip in form and his diminishing fielding skills, selectors said, the selectors were not convinced that Yuvraj was completely fit.

However, both insisted that Ganguly’s Test future could still be revived by the new national selection committee, which will pick the Test team for the four-Test series against Australia starting on October 9.

Apparently, the selectors are hoping that Mohammad Kaif, who impressed them with a well-made 94 in the India A vs Australia A match in Bangalore last week, will fill Ganguly’s slot in the middle. “There is also a good chance for Badrinath (the India A skipper),” the selector said. “Badrinath came up with a convincing display in Sri Lanka last month and he is a fantastic fielder too. But again, it is up to the new selection panel.”

He said that Yuvraj’s fitness was the main reason why he was dropped – the left-hander has been dogged by a knee injury, and is also believed to be nursing a shoulder injury.

Meanwhile, Ashok Dinda, the Bengal medium-pacer, got a surprise call-up to the squad while Sachin Tendulkar, who declared himself fit for the match has made it along with Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. Parthiv Patel, the other promotion from the India A side, is likely to open the batting with Wasim Jaffer.

Badrinath, meanwhile, will continue leading India A side, in the limited-overs tri-series, involving Australia A and New Zealand A, starting on September 15. His deputy will be Suresh Raina, fresh from impressive showings in the Asia Cup and in Sri Lanka. Dinesh Karthik, who lost out on the Irani Trophy slot to Parthiv, will be India A’s keeper in the tri-series.

There were rewards for those who did well in the inaugural IPL: Swapnil Asnodkar, Abhishek Nayar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Yusuf Pathan and Wriddhiman Saha found themselves in the 15-member squad. Hyderabad opener DB Ravi Teja was included, as was Saurashtra’s Jaydev Shah. Irfan Pathan and Praveen Kumar, India’s ODI regulars, will also play in the series, while Piyush Chawla and Robin Uthappa, dropped recently, get another chance to impress the selectors.

Rest of India squad: Anil Kumble (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Wasim Jaffer, Mohammad Kaif, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Parthiv Patel, RP Singh, Ashok Dinda, Harbhajan Singh

India A squad for tri-series: S Badrinath(capt), Suresh Raina, Robin Uthappa, Swapnil Asnodkar, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Abhishek Nayar, Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Piyush Chawla, Ravi Teja, Yusuf Pathan, Jaydev Shah, Wriddhiman Saha

– About Cricket –

Sandesh Kumar

Yuvraj ton steers Indians to big win

August 16, 2008

Scorecard

Powered by Yuvraj Singh’s brutal century, the Indians cruised to a pre-ODI series 92-run win against a Sri Lankan XI at the P Saravanamuttu Stadium in Colombo. Yuvraj hit 13 sixes in a 121-ball 172, taking the Indians to 342 for 5, and in reply the opposition – comprising ten internationals – produced a sloppy chase, managing 250 in their 50 overs. It was a good way for the Indians to celebrate the 61st anniversary of their country’s independence.

The last time Yuvraj had scored a hundred in a limited-overs game had been on October 5 2007, against Australia. He dismissed that drought, albeit against a weaker attack, with a two-paced innings that lifted the Indians to a massive total. Yuvraj came in at No. 4 in the 13th over and struggled initially, often going hard at the ball, which resulted in mistimed drives and dragged cuts. An otherwise erratic Dilhara Fernando – his no-ball problem continued and he bowled too short – beat Yuvraj repeatedly off the upright seam, forcing him to hold back on his expansive strokeplay for a while.

But with Suresh Raina in good nick, the singles came easily. Raina broke free from a tense start by backing away and slamming Fernando over cover for four. He also had his share of mistimed shots, but came back well to blast a big six over midwicket off Jehan Mubarak. Like Gautam Gambhir, he too fell while trying an aggressive shot too many, giving Malinga Bandara his first wicket.

In the mean time, Yuvraj had settled in. Crucially, he was confident against spin – he hit Malinda Warnapura for a six in his solitary over – and his flicks across the line were all power and precision. He stood tall to punch the shorter deliveries through the in-field and his bent-knee while driving down the ground was pleasing.

Yuvraj blasted sixes off the first two balls of Thilan Thushara’s comeback over, the 36th, moving past fifty with the first. A whip over mid-on followed, and Yuvraj then trained his ire towards Bandara, striking his fourth six. His century came off 95 balls, after which he decided to have some fun. In 16 balls, he raced past 150, pasting Mubarak for three more sixes and a four in his final over and hitting his ninth and tenth sixes, both effortless swings over long-on, off a beleaguered Chanaka Welegedara.

Yuvraj’s final six was the pick of the lot, a stunning shot over long-off which nearly took out the press cordon. His 13 sixes were the second-most for a 50-overs innings in this decade, after Namibia’s Gary Snyman, who hit 17 during his 196 against UAE last November.

Yuvraj’s partners went unnoticed during his blitz, but they played their part in India putting up a mammoth total. Rohit Sharma scored a 42-ball 24 in an 85-run fourth-wicket stand, while Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s contribution to a 99-run stand, which came in just 6.4 overs, was a mere 16.

In reply, Upul Tharanga gave his team as robust a start as the Indians had got. He threw the bat at anything marginally over-pitched and wide, tucking into some indifferent new-ball bowling from Munaf Patel and RP Singh. While the two bowlers produced three good lbw shouts in consecutive overs they also gave too much width; Tharanga cashed in with an upper cut over third man and into the ivy-covered scorecard.

But the aggression was short-lived. Through a mixture of edges, top-edges and poor footwork it all started to go downhill. Mahela Udawatte had a fortuitous top-edge over point, followed it up with a perfectly-placed cut for four, only to then spoon a catch to mid-off. Warnapura fell to a very good catch from Gambhir at first slip, taken diving to his left. In the next over, after going past an electrifying half-century, Tharanga tried to pull RP but top-edged to the wicketkeeper, leaving the required rate at just under eight. In fewer than five overs the Sri Lankan XI had combusted.

Harbhajan Singh’s introduction tightened the Indians’ grip. His accurate offspin, backed by balanced and energetic field placing, kept runs at a minimum. A trigger-happy Chamara Kapugedera tried to sweep him out of the park but found deep midwicket instead. With the asking rate burgeoning to nearly ten an over, the sprightly Chamara Silva cut and swept Pragyan Ojha’s left-arm spin for boundaries. After 32 overs the Sri Lankan XI needed 191, and Ojha came back well to force a faint nick from Silva to Dhoni for 38. Mubarak remained in the hunt for a place in the national team with 60 from 74 balls but when he departed the side needed 118 from 15 balls, and the result was never in doubt.

India and Sri Lanka meet in Dambulla for the first ODI on August 18.

About Cricket

Sandesh Kumar Jaggi

India’s Fielding; never learning from past mistakes

August 10, 2008

Robin Singh, India’s fielding coach, sent a report to the BCCI assessing the players’ fielding skills after a five one-day international series against Pakistan in November last year. It praised a couple players’ throwing arms, spoke of others’ poor agility, and lamented the concentration and commitment of a few, but there was almost one strand tying Robin’s observations together: the need to improve anticipation and technique.

After another poor day in the field, you have to wonder what has happened since November 2007. At the SSC, where India lost by an innings and 239 runs, Mahela Jayawardene was dropped by wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik on 55 and 93 and Thilan Samaraweera was dropped by Gautam Gambhir at short leg on 53. Matters weren’t much better in Galle, where Karthik and Gambhir were the culprits again.

Today India refused to learn from their mistakes. Close-in fielders repeatedly reacted too late or too early, flat-footed rookies and veterans tripped over balls and failed to reach down in time, Harbhajan Singh kicked a ball away in frustration only to allow a single, and Parthiv Patel missed a stumping.

Sri Lanka meanwhile struck the first blow with a sharp catch off Virender Sehwag by Thilan Samaraweera at gully; then they hammered in the final nail when Sachin Tendulkar, perhaps wary of three lurking close catchers, padded up to Ajantha Mendis late in the day. It was in stark contrast with India’s attempt to apply pressure.

Anil Kumble began the day with three short legs in, one behind the wicket and two in front. In the third over of the day Gambhir stood up too early instead of crouching in anticipation and saw the ball fly past. Then Karthik reacted too soon and couldn’t dive to reach a catch in time. India cannot expect to win consistently unless half chances are regularly converted.

Throughout the first session, Prasanna Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara worked singles past three short legs, especially between the first of the forward short legs and backward short leg fielder. And when Kumble called his fielders in to try and prevent the single off the last ball of the 98th over, they were slow to react. Four balls later Pragyan Ojha, one of three substitutes, made a mess of a stop at backward point and allowed three, much to Kumble’s fury.

India also missed two run-out chances: Sangakkara turned down a single to sell Prasanna down the river, but Rohit Sharma returned a wayward throw to Parthiv. Run-outs don’t come easier than that. In the 129th over Mendis pushed the ball towards Sourav Ganguly at mid-on, Parthiv screamed for the return to the non-striker’s end, but Ganguly missed the stumps with Dammika Prasad out of the frame. Rohit later mis-fielded and allowed two runs and received a nasty glare from Kumble. To cap it off, Parthiv missed a regulation stumping down the leg side off Kumble.

To makes things worse the fielders weren’t helped by their bowlers. With six men on the off side, Harbhajan bowled far too many deliveries on the pads. And kicking the ball, only to concede an overthrow, is unacceptable behaviour. Zaheer Khan did the same during a one-day match in England last summer after a catch had gone down off Matt Prior. At mid-off Kumble could only shake his head.

For the most part of this series Sri Lanka have been disciplined, sharp and athletic; Tillakaratne Dilshan and Prasanna have epitomised this. Dilshan has been outstanding, diving around at forward short leg, leg slip, backward square leg. Even late in the day, three wickets down, he wasn’t complacent, flinging a hand out to stop a single off the pads. In comparison Gambhir and Karthik, who repeatedly stood up near the bat instead of crouching low, allowed easy singles.

Karthik and Parthiv have fumbled regulation takes. Rated India’s best wicketkeeper and one of the better in-fielders, Karthik’s display this series has been substandard. Parthiv has improved marginally since 2004.

Sri Lanka’s infielders dove around and cut off singles while India’s struggled. While Mendis and Chaminda Vaas, newbie and old hand alike, returned throws into the wicketkeeper’s gloves, Ojha and Ganguly had a hard time getting it in on one bounce from the outfield. There was no discipline or ruthlessness from India, who seemed wilted to the extent that they hardly ever touched the stumps.

Reflexes and anticipation are key elements of a good close-in fielder and India haven’t had one since Aakash Chopra’s vigil at the position. Memories of Chopra’s batting may not evoke a smile, but his fielding was top notch. Among his better ones are, his catch off Anil Kumble’s bowling to get Adam Gilchrist in Mumbai in 2001, his brilliant one-handed effort to get Abdul Razzaq at Multan in 2004, when Pakistan trailed by 162 runs, and his catch at forward short leg off a Justin Langer pull in the Australian series of 2003-04, which was unfortunately a no-ball.

Chopra created half-chances, and in Tests that counts for a lot. India soon need to find another such fielder, for they have struggled to create half-chances and take the ones that were there to held. Instead of reports, the BCCI should asses the ground realities.

– About Cricket –

Sandesh Kumar Jaggi