16 February 2010

One all!

Unless god intervenes, either by reincarnating himself in the form of one or more of the South African batsmen, or more simply, be letting torrents of rain wash away Indian dreams, the result of the second test between India and South Africa is a foregone conclusion at the end of day 3.

Yet again, the epic battle for world domination between these two great warriors, fought on grounds that conjure Mahabharat like visions of thunderbolts flying through the air and dust rising high from the stomping of brave foot soldiers, ends with a whimper, rather than a bang. The senseless mandarins of the BCCI and the puppets of Zuma that allowed this travesty (of a two test series between the top two sides) to pass, should be lined up and tortured by being made to watch videos of the 3 test series between India and Sri Lanka for atleast 8 consecutive days.

Why 8? Because in revenge too, there must be justice. And since 8 days of riveting test match cricket is what they gave us (game over tomorrow?), it is our responsibility, nay our moral duty, to give these power mongering, public hating monsters, 8 days of watching Indian batsmen ground the Sri Lankan tigers to dust (as a complete aside, would it not have been great fun if the Dhoni saving 1,411 tigers ad was aired at the same time as the Indian batsmen were pummelling the Sri Lankan tigers? Also, how does one arrive at this exact number of 1,411 - is there a roll call every morning, a prediction from a forest official who fancies himself to be somewhat of a nostradamus, or some other form of the great Indian rope trick???)

And despite previous predictions going horribly wrong, I yet again dare a prediction - this game will be over by the end of the day tomorrow, with the Indian spinners ripping through South Africa after Khan has finished de-energizing his bunny Smith.

08 February 2010

The Fast and the Furious

As expected, Pakistan, through a combination of ineptitude, infighting and ball biting madness, connived to leave Australian shores without a single win in a tour spread over the three formats of the game. In three tests, 5 one dayers and 1 t-20 game, Pakistan were consistently competitive for exactly two days (during the second test) and mostly abysmal for the rest of the tour. Well and truly, a tour DOWN UNDER.

On Friday, despite the superheroic acts of the bowling unit and some very un-Pakistan like fielding, the supporting cast that has become the batting unit, put in performances that could, in a parallel universe where more than movies were taken into account, have provided for the nomination of a fair few of the Pakistani batsman for the Razzies this year.

For batsmen that play the likes of Shoaib Akhtar, Aamer and Gul regularly and presumably comfortably, the inability to play the pace of Tait, Nannes and Johnson was inexplicable. But for Kamran's fearless attack, the world champions of T20 were likely to be humbled by margins that would truly have been a reflection of the difference in quality between the two sides.

A special mention for Tait's bowling on Friday is in order. His slowest ball was clocked at well over 150 KMPH and his fastest at 162 KMPH. For the mathematically challenged, that gives the batsman, standing about 19 yards away, approximately 0.4 seconds to spot the ball, judge where it is going to land, get his foot in position and get the bat swinging in time! And they say that this is a batsman's game...

Misery loves company goes the famous saying and how that was true of Friday. With Shaun Tait making life miserable at one end through raw pace, agression and remarkable accuracy, Pakistan was forced to take on the slower offerings from Nannes and Johnson, both of whom were bowling well into the high 140's throughout their spells... the pressure told and Pakistan crumbled like a biscuit held too long in a cup of tea. Pakistan needs to introspect long and hard about what went wrong on the tour if they hope to remain competitive on the international scene - the time for giving delusional media bytes about being competitive, trying hard and improving every day is over, as hopefully is Yousuf's captaincy.

01 February 2010

The Whitewash

Well, as expected, Australia did go on to duly complete the whitewash and claimed the series 5-0.

Despite the predictable result, there were enough interesting events that transpired during the game yesterday, and strangely enough, each and every one that comes to my mind relates to the Pakistan team. The first of the lot is ofcourse Shahid Afridi's captaincy and the manner in which the rest of the Pakistani team reacts to his leadership. For the first time this series, Pakistan looked like a side that was switched on - their energy and chirpiness while fielding was not that of a side that had not won a game in 2 months, but of one that had not lost for as long as they could remember. In complete contrast to their reputations, they ran well between the wickets while they batted and their was intent in every run (a lot of the strokes still left a lot to be desired, but perhaps those too can be put down to the injection of Afridinile) and more importantly, unlike their performance this entire tour, they fielded remarkably well (and to my recollection, did not drop a catch!). Like all great leaders, Afridi leads by example and the rest of the Pakistani team seems to draw from his intensity and fire. The PCB could do worse than ask Yousuf to step down and make Afridi the captain in ODI's in addition to the T-20's.

Which brings me to the second point. If news reports are to be believed, the PCB and its minions did get Yousuf to step down from captaincy yesterday so that Afridi could be given an opportunity. If that is indeed the case (and the sore knee is nothing but a shabby excuse), then I must congratulate the PCB for their imagination. Yousuf, on the other hand, deserves a spanking on his back-side if he refused to play because he was not captain. It is high time Yousuf accepts that he is not a great leader (or even if he is, he is not the type of leader that the Pakistani cricket team needs) and instead concentrates on his role as the best batsman in the side, atleast for the few years that he has left.

The third interesting development was ofcourse Afridi's ball tampering. For someone who has been playing internationl cricket for a decade, it was the silliest stupidest thing to do on a cricket field, where get this, 26 cameras were focussed on the action. Now, if its someone like Younis khan attempting this, there is a miniscule chance that no camera would be focussed on him at that point in time - but the chances of no camera being focussed at the captain of the defending team during a tense run chase are about as good as Rohit Sharma's chances of learning to deal with the short ball. And then he goes out and says that he was in fact ball tampering - not that he was cleaning the ball, but that he was ball tampering... sigh....

Punishment has been swift and Afridi has been banned for 2 T-20's, including the one against Australia. With Pakistan's most potent T-20 weapon defused, it now seems extremely unlikely that the world cahmpions of T-20 will be able to put one across Australia before leaving those shores.