Thursday, July 21, 2011

England out to challenge India's Test supremacy . | 2000th test match | India vs. England.

India are the No.1 cricketing nation in every respect and England are out to challenge this on the field in a cracker of a four-Test series that gets underway at Lord's Thursday. It'll be the 100th Test between the two nations and the 2,000th of the cricket world.

Hype or no hype, the series should produce enthralling cricket between world's two best teams. India have been the No.1 team for two years now, and they would like to perform worthy of their status.
India have come here straight from 1-0 series win in the Caribbean and they are bolstered by the return of Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir and pace bowling spearhead Zaheer Khan, who all missed the West Indies series.
England have gone through a metamorphosis under captain Andrew Staruss and coach Andy Flower. They are high on form since Ashes triumph last year and firmly believe they have the potential to snatch the No.1 Test ranking.
In the only warm up game against Somerset in which Strauss batted himself into form, India had a difficult time with the bat and ball. They were struggling at 138/8 in the first innings before Suresh Raina's century saved them the blushes.
With that knock, Raina has more or less elbowed out flamboyant Yuvraj Singh for the No.5 spot.

In the absence of Virender Sehwag, who is expected to join the side for the third Test, opener Abhinav Mukund join Gambhir in an all-left-hand opening combination. Despite his impressive knocks in the West Indies, he needs to tighten his game against the rising ball on pitches which can be dicey.
Gambhir, a prolific scorer in the last few season, is coming back after a shoulder injury. A lot will thus depend on the experienced trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, who possibly are here one last time as players.

Tendulkar has rediscovered the carefree exuberance of his youth in the last one year in all formats. In 15 Tests, he slammed eight centuries, including two double hundreds.
Tendulkar has the small task of reaching his 100th international century and he is equally aware of his poor record at Lord's, his highest being a mere 37. The air is thick with expectancy that the the maestro will finally make it to the Lord's honours board with a century at the Mecca of cricket.
Dravid, who scored heavily in the 2002 series but was weighed down by captaincy in the 2007 series that India won 1-0, will be looking to make amends for the missed opportunities on the previous tour.
Laxman is still to savour a century in the English weather. The stylish Hyderabadi has played some remarkable match-winning knocks, including three 50s in the West Indies before coming here.

England's strength is their bowling, which offers plenty of variety. James Anderson has rightfully emerged as the leader of the pack and Chris Tremlett is touted as the one who can trouble the Indian batsmen with his steep rising deliveries and probing line. The 6'8'' tall Tremlett was the top wicket taker in the series (15) against Sri Lanka followed by Graeme Swann (12) and Stuart Broad (8).
It will be a treat to watch offie Swann, considered the best spinner in the world, bowl against the best players of spin.
Pacer Tim Bresnan, who sat out of the Sri Lanka series will add teeth to the English attack, but Broad is likely to get the nod for the third seamer's place.
In batting, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell are in excellent touch and slammed two centuries each against Sri Lanka. Jonathan Trott is equally in good shape. The only man out of form is Strauss, whose knocks in the tour game against India, will give him much needed confidence.
Former India captain Dravid doesn't like to call it a match between the best batting and the best bowling sides.

'I don't like to say that we are the best batting side and they are best bowling side in the world. At the end of the day it is contest between India and England. That is the important thing. Who is the best and who is not the best? At the end of the day, we have got a strong batting line up, the series will be decided may be that contest,' Dravid said.
For India, Zaheer, who played an important role in the 2007 series win here, will lead the attack. Lot will depend on Ishant Sharma, who claimed 22 wickets in the series against West Indies.

The third seamer will be a toss up between Munaf Patel and Praveen Kumar, though Shantakumaran Sreesanth on his day can be devastating and can extract a lot out of the English conditions. Prave'n's swing that fetched him 12 wickets in the West Indies can tilt the scales in his favour, unless Dhoni is looking for Patel to keep one end tight with his nagging line and length.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ton of tons beckons Tendulkar in 2000th Test. | 2000th test match | India vs. England.

Test cricket will celebrate its 2,000th match with a series opener between England and India at Lord's that promises to delight both statisticians and Sachin Tendulkar should the 'Little Master' mark an already landmark occasion with a 100th international hundred.

The match is also the 100th Test between England, who gave birth to cricket, and India, now top of the ICC's Test rankings, the 50-over world champions and the sport's financial powerhouse.
That means it will feature a clash between the 'old world' and the 'new' - as there was, albeit in a different fashion, when England travelled to Melbourne to play Australia in the very first Test in 1877.
Tendulkar arrives at the 'home of cricket', as Lord's likes to call itself, having had to contend with a level of admiration arguably unequalled in both its frenzy and duration in cricket history.

And having scored a record 99 hundreds - 51 in Tests and 48 in one-day internationals in a career that started when he was a 16-year-old in 1989 - that adulation will only intensify should he reach three figures at Lord's, where his previous Test-best is a modest 37.
The ever-modest Tendulkar, his team-mates and opponents have all said the same thing: there is more to this match than Sachin. "I'm not thinking of records," he insisted. "I'm just thinking of enjoying this tour," added Tendulkar, whose four previous Tests at Lord's have yielded a meagre top score of 37.
And he is far from the only star in a powerful top-order featuring the likes of Rahul Dravid, who made 95 at Lord's on his Test debut in 1996 , and Venkatsai Laxman.
"It would be very, very risky to focus all our energies on one player," said England off-spinner Graeme Swann. "Sure, he's the best player of the modern generation, but if we focus on one guy another will sneak in the back door and take it away from us. In MS Dhoni (India's captain) they have possibly the most charismatic player India has ever had, with the sway he holds in that country now. I think he is the most important player in that team now. He leads from the front, is a very dangerous cricketer and if we can get at anyone then he is probably the key man."
India could rue the shoulder injury that has ruled out Virender Sehwag from at least the first two Tests of this four-match contest - a series that if England win by 2-0, 3-1 or better will see them replace the tourists at the top of the ICC's Test table.

Sehwag's fearless strokeplay has confounded the traditional notion of openers merely 'seeing off' the new ball and, however well Gautam Gambhir and Abhinav Mukund, India's new first wicket pair start, they are unlikely to take the match away from England in quite the same style.
England too boast an in-form top order with Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott both in the runs. And yet it remains as true now as it ever did, that the side that can most easily take their opponents 20 wickets will emerge victorious.
That was the case in 2007 when India whose attack, then as now, was led by left-arm fast bowler Zaheer Khan won a Test series in England 1-0. "If we can keep our fast bowlers fit, then we'll be very competitive," said Dravid, whose team will have to contend with an England attack featuring giant fast bowler Chris Tremlett, who impressed against India in his debut series four years ago.
They will also have to acclimatise quickly should the swinging conditions associated with Lord's and Trent Bridge, the venues for the first two Tests of this series, emerge again if the skies in London and Nottingham are overcast.
This tour has seen India, who last week drew against a Somerset side where 'guest' Andrew Strauss, the England captain, managed 78 and 109, play just the one warm-up match hot on the heels of their arrival from a series win in the West Indies.

Duncan Fletcher always used to play-down the importance of warm-up fixtures when he was coach of England. Now the Zimbabwean is in charge of India, time will tell if he regrets a schedule inconceivable at the dawn of Test cricket 134 years ago.

Friday, April 22, 2011

MS Dhoni leads India's five among Time 100. | ms dhoni | times magazine.

Led by India's "Captain Fantastic" Mahendra Singh Dhoni, five Indians have made it to the Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world, whose "ideas spark dialogue and dissent and sometimes even revolution."
Other Indians on the Time 100 list released on Thursday are "Titan of Industry" Mukesh Ambani, "Brain Mapper" VS Ramachandran, "Philanthropist" Azim Premji and "Change Agent" Aruna Roy.

The list is topped by Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who became the "Spokesman for a Revolution" in Egypt.

US President Barack Obama, ranked 86, trails far behind his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (43), Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (6), WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (9) and Pakistani spy master Ahmed Shuja Pasha (17).
Ranked 52nd, Dhoni, under whose leadership India won its first cricket World Cup in 28 years, Timenoted, "is now universally acknowledged as India's best captain ever. He's also its most likable, exuding both cool confidence and down-to-earth humility."

"Dhoni doesn't just lead a cricket team, he's also India's captain of hope. And he didn't just win India the World Cup, he also taught India how to win," it said.
The story of Mukesh Ambani, ranked 61st, "is straight out of the Bollywood movies of his hometown,"Time said noting "he started out in life crammed with six people into a two-bedroom tenement in the most congested part of central Mumbai."

"Ambani, 54, also took the firm his father founded - Reliance Industries - and turned it into India's largest private-sector company, a $45 billion petrochemicals giant," it said describing it as "a new kind of Indian company, built through adroit manipulation of governments and the stock market but also enriching millions of shareholders."
Placed 79th, VS Ramachandran, 59, "once described as the Marco Polo of neuroscience," the Timesaid "has mapped some of the most mysterious regions of the mind."

"With his simple, creative and innovative ideas," Ramachandran, "best known for developing a therapy for phantom-limb pain in which a mirror is used to reflect the intact limb, creating the illusion that the missing one is still there," it said "is changing how our brains think about our minds."
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, who has profiled "philanthropist" Azim Premji for the Time, says, "If anyone personifies India's economic transformation, it is Azim Premji, chairman of the information-technology powerhouse Wipro Ltd."

"A pioneer of India's IT-outsourcing industry, Premji helped unleash a generation of skilled technical professionals who make up India's growing middle class," he wrote.
Bringing up the rear for India on the Time list is "Change Agent" Aruna Roy, who "starting from a tiny village in the deserts of Rajasthan in the 1980s began a long campaign to bring transparency to India's notoriously corrupt bureaucracy."

"Many social activists clamour for India to do more for the dispossessed. A former civil servant, Roy doesn't just condemn a broken system; she changes it," it noted.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Giving Tendulkar Bharat Ratna would require change of rules. | Sachin Tendulkar. | Bharat Ratna.

The calls for bestowing Sachin Tendulkar with the 'Bharat Ratna' may have got louder after India's World Cup triumph but giving the country's highest civillian honour to the batting icon would require tweaking of the criteria that has been laid down for the coveted award.

The 'Bharat Ratna' was started in 1954 and has so far been given to 41 eminent personalities, none of whom are sports-persons, the reason being the criteria for the coveted honour.
Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap says given the current rules "Tendulkar does not qualify for the honour and giving the award to him would require a change in the rules."

According to the criteria at present, the award is given for exceptional contribution in the fields of art, literature, science and social service. The criteria does not have any mention of sports.
Kashyap says the government has to decide whether it wants to include sports in the criteria for the award. The Sports Ministry will have to present such a proposal for cabinet approval.
"Once the cabinet gives its approval, the Home Ministry can bestow this honour on not just Sachin Tendulkar but any other athlete," he said.
Indian cricket team's prominent players such as Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag have all asked for the honour to be bestowed on Tendulkar after the side's World Cup win.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Warne denies India coach talk.

Australian spin legend Shane Warne on Wednesday denied media reports that he was interested in coaching World Cup champions India.

"Just got told on bus - apparently I put my hand up to coach India. Wow - first I have heard of it - Sorry to disappoint but never said that!!!" Warne tweeted.
Leg-spinner Warne, 41, is in the country to take part in the Indian Premier League where he leads the Rajasthan Royals franchise in the lucrative Twenty20 competition, starting on Friday.

Local media reports earlier Wednesday said Warne had shown interest in the job. "It is a very difficult job to be India coach, it is never easy," Warne was quoted.
"But with India doing so well, it is a lot easier to take over right now than it has been in the past. I'll enjoy working with the Indian cricket team for sure."
India are without a coach after former South African batsman Gary Kirsten stepped down following the World Cup victory in Mumbai last week. Warne said Kirsten had set high standards during a successful three-year stint with Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team.

"Kirsten is a quality person and it would be hard to find a replacement for him. Under him, the Indian team has reached the number one spot in Tests and won the World Cup," said Warne. "He is a fantastic coach."
Warne, who quit international cricket in 2007 with 708 wickets in Tests and 293 in One-dayers, excelled in a duel role as captain and coach guiding the Rajasthan Royals to a surprise title in the inaugural IPL edition in 2008.