Thursday, November 23, 2006
Do Ponting and Lara represent two peaks with Tendulkar the valley in between, age and hunger-wise? Or is Tendulkar at a point just as high as the other two? The three Tests that India play in December will tell us a lot about it.
What do I think? After watching the Aussies beat his bat repeatedly in the Champions Trophy I had my doubts. But after watching the tiny adjustments he made on the bouncy track at Kingsmead and the ease with which he handled the pace attack, I think the man is ready. His cover drives were of the top-shelf, vintage Tendulkar category.
Ponting will eventually be the leader, but he has a lot more work to do than he probably thinks he has to. Hopefully, Tendulkar will see Lara's productivity at 37 and continue to keep playing as long as he can.
We are in for a treat in the coming months. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride as the three of the batting titans of the game today launch an assault on the record-books.
Check out the scorecard and notice the irony in light of yesterday's meltdown. 22 batsmen came to bat in this match, and only one recognized batsman scored a 50. (The other 50 was from de Villiers, who in his entire career scored just 4 first-class 50's and was just throwing his bat around in this innings). With India tottering at 91 for 5 in the second innings, VVS Laxman shepherded the tail in his debut Test match, eventually being 8th out at 180. The margin of victory? 64 runs.
Once again, when an early Indian wicket falls in an ODI, and the bowlers are breathing fire and lightning, would you rather see Laxman or Kaif/Rainia/Mongia? I hope we don't need a 0-4 drubbing from SA to drive home my point.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
I have seen all the Bond movies (except the original Casino Rayale) and, for now, all I will say is this - the last 15 seconds of this movie leave an indelible mark.
Best ending for a Bond movie...ever!
Monday, November 13, 2006
Like all good writers, he drives home his point (pun intended) with his last paragraph. 'Nuff said.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
INDIA NEEDS LAXMAN!
Consider the alternatives who are being tried out because they supposedly have other skills (in most cases - fielding abilities) that are markedly better. Here are Laxman's career stats:
Laxman: 82 innings, 2338 runs, 31.17 average, 6 centuries, 10 fifties
Compared to other incumbents (also filtered to their last 85 innings where applicable):
Sehwag: 156 innings, 4727 runs, 31.72 average, 7 centuries, 24 fifties
Sehwag (filtered): 85 innings, 2441 runs, 29.76 average, 2 centuries, 13 fifties
Yuvraj: 159 innings, 4286 runs, 34.84 average, 7 centuries, 25 fifties
Yuvraj (filtered): 85 inings, 2613 runs, 37.32 average, 6 centuries, 13 fifties
Kaif: 122 innings, 2725 runs, 32.83 average, 2 centuries, 17 fifties
Kaif (filtered): 85 innings, 2008 runs, 32.91 average, 1 century, 14 fifties
Raina: 33 innings, 585 runs, 27.85 average, 0 centuries, 3 fifties
Mongia: 53 innings, 1154 runs, 28.85 average, 1 century, 4 fifties
The others being tried are not really that superior to him in terms of statistics, but the middle order lacks that crucial ingredient - a #3 unafraid of big moments and menacing attacks. Of ALL the players that have donned India colours over the years ONLY Laxman has multiple centuries IN Australia. And this against arguably the greatest ODI team ever.
Hmmm, what about comparing him to "superior" contemporaries?
Dravid: 82 innings, 2939 runs, 40.81 average, 4 centuries, 26 fifties
Tendulkar: 85 innings, 3387 runs, 45.16 average, 9 centuries, 18 fifties
Ganguly: 85 innings, 2465 runs, 32.86 average, 4 centuries, 14 fifties
Well, he pales in comparison with the first two, and rightfully so, while he is fairly comparable to the third. The above-mentioned trio are among the greatest ever in ODI history and his record compared to everyone but the top duo is comparable, if not much better.
When one of the openers gets out quickly, which of these names do you think is most likely to comfortably fend off the fast bowler breathing fire and sending down thunderbolts - Mongia, Kaif, Yuvraj, Raina or Laxman? Hmm, deep down even you know the answer to this one.
Take a look at this snap.
That is Laxman in ODI gear, playing a short-pitched ball with minimum fuss. The man can do it and do it better than any of the players taking up his spot in the team.
If Laxman is not in the World Cup squad India will not win the World Cup. More crucially (for me, at least) I shall not watch the games.
And I am not the only person who feels this way about Laxman, here is a noted columnist who shares my view. To add insult to injury, Yuvraj Singh failed a fitness test and in his stead the wise selectors have sent a back-up keeper! Grrrr.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Three hours go by in a blur of movement. Most of the songs are, by now, totally unknown to me but the beat, the rhythm, and the sensation are still the same. Everyone's feet and hands move on their own accord. Each of us dances to a different drummer, and semi-organized pandemonium of the best kind follows.
Once in a while, I stop the car and walk by a lake. Leaves of all sizes, shapes, and colours peek back at me. Where will they finally end up, I wonder?
In the evening, as the sun goes down and the world begins to settle in for the night, everything becomes calm. The sheet-like surface of the lake, transparent and unrippled, invites me to go back in time and become a child once more. Much joy is achieved by simply counting the number of times a stone skips off the surface.
As BD will no doubt attest, Simmons writes so well that you feel you know almost as much about Red as you would by reading a complete biography of his.
His cousins did not do too badly for themselves on the cricket field either.