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    March 22, 2006

    Century in the 100th test

    India have managed to make 100 runs while chasing the target of 313.

    Dravid was out in the 34th over. The innings ended in the 49th over.

    Shaun Udal, that mesmerising off-spinner took 4/14 in 9.2 overs.

    The series is drawn 1-1.
    Thus spake Jagadish @ 1:55 PM |
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    19 sledge(s):

    Series averages for Andrew Flintoff, England captain:
    Batting: 264 runs at 52.79 with a high score of 70, strike rate of 49.81
    Bowling: 11 wickets at 30.54, going at 3.20 runs per over with a strike rate of 57.2

    He hasn't been explosive, but he has been superb. England would have accepted this result even in the post-Ashes euphoria, assuming a full-strength side.

    I do question the Indian tactics, though - and this isn't just a response to criticism of Flintoff and Fletcher's work earlier. Putting Kumble and Pathan at the top of the order, nightwatchman and Sehwag's injury notwithstanding, left the end of the batting order showing Yuvraj, Sehwag, Dhoni, Harbhajan, Sreesanth, and Patel. Not one of those players is the type to play an irritating innings that does nothing more than eat up time. They all like to go for their shots, and they will all give the fielding side chances.

    At least one of Pathan and Kumble would have been better left to the end, to come in if necessary and calm down the situation.

    By Anonymous Geoff (22-Mar-2006, 2:13:00 PM)  

    Again there was a situation where if Dravid didn't get runs then India capitulate. Some of the senior batsmen need to show as much determination as him, Sehwag was injured in this innings but in previous innings he has fallen into the trap set for him as has Yuvraj. I don't think that England were that good, Flintoff apart. The batting issues need to be adressed quickly in the team so that India can put up a legitimate challenge to Australia.

    I think there needs to be more competition in the team to force Sehwag, Jaffer, Yuvraj, Laxman and Dhoni to play well in each innings, similar to what Australia do.

    By Anonymous Anonymous (22-Mar-2006, 4:34:00 PM)  

    we have not lost the series but drawn it. But somehow it feels like we lost it.

    By Anonymous Prashanth (22-Mar-2006, 5:28:00 PM)  

    Maybe India should take a leaf out of Kevin Pietersen's book and not let the spinners bowl to them. I did find it funny that Giles's replacement had figures similar to his.

    I hope India win the one-dayers with good performances that reflect the quality of players that India have.

    By Blogger Libero (22-Mar-2006, 7:11:00 PM)  

    I'm quite confident India will win the one-day series. And when you refer to the 'quality' of India's players, is this talent or mentality?

    By Anonymous Geoff (22-Mar-2006, 7:49:00 PM)  

    india may win the odis - but, india in tests is awful - is greg not concentrating on tests. they have shown a marked improvement in the odis ever since greg took over, but they have gone down in tests, to say the least - especially, the batting has been pathetic and its COMPLETELY dependant on dravid. he failed in 2 tests out of his last 6 - lahore & mumbai and india lost both

    but, for this mumbai debacle - dravid has the major share by opting to bowl first. i have heard from some dravid fans (even i am one, of course) that he is not the only one responsible for that as it wud be the team mgmt's decision. i disagree, as all of us still laugh at nasser and ponting for brisbane and edgbaston respectively and no one talks abt team mgmts for those 2 matches - why only when it comes to dravid?

    it was he who spoilt his 100th test. now, i just hope that the team does well atleast in his 100th test for india and salvage some pride.

    By Blogger Ganesh (22-Mar-2006, 8:24:00 PM)  

    Geoff: Flintoff was magnificient. As for the batting order, we didn't have a choice. The tactic of using Dravid as opener had failed miserably at Karachi. Kumble would have been better used in the lower order. But I suspect that given the way the rest of the batting crumbled today after Dravid got out, he would merely have been at the other end.

    Anonymous: Partly a fair call. But it wasn't as though he walked in to bat and then came out immediately. He did use up time at the wicket and his partnership with Tendulkar had setup a situation where around 240 runs were needed at four an over and seven wickets in hand. I think it is perhaps a matter of pride in performance as well. Becoming 100 all out from 75/3 with Udal picking up 4 is, in my opinion, inexcusably lame and irresponsible cricket. You underestimate England's bowling. I said it before the series - England's batting is what got affected by the withdrawals, their quality bowling lineup [better now without Giles! Can't resist having a poke!] was still intact. Imagine Laxman and Kaif thinking "I can bat better than these morons out there".

    Prashanth: That is because we were expected to win it, especially after the personnel losses suffered by England.

    Libero: I don't think the issue was our handling of England's spinners. Today was more of an abberation. It was the likes of Hoggard, Flintoff, Harmison & Anderson who inflicted the damage. The problem with the one-dayers is that the test series performance will be forgotten, just as it was in Pakistan. The cracks were on display there, yet the one-day series win papered over them.

    Geoff: Good question. I think he meant talent. India are a better one-day side than test side, and England are a better test side than one-day side, which probably explains why the general perception is that India will win the one-dayers. Then again, that will do nothing to assuage my disappointment.

    Ganesh: Perhaps the focus is too much on WC2007? He did mention after the series win in Zimbabwe that selection from that point onwards would factor in the 2007 World Cup. Good point about how Dravid should be held responsible. I maintain that it would definitely have been a team [management] decision. This also means that Trescothick, Nasser and Azhar weren't the only ones responsible for putting Pakistan (2005/06), Australia (2002/03), Sri Lanka (1996 @ Calcutta) & England (1990 @ Lord's) in after winning the toss. His 100th test for India will be in the West Indies. I keenly look forward to a horrible tour yet again. In 2002 when we toured there, it was a lovely opportunity to win and a couple of hours of brainless batting at Barbados and one hour in the final test cost us the series! Seems a recurring theme, doesn't it?!

    By Blogger Jagadish (22-Mar-2006, 9:49:00 PM)  

    I agree India have lokked much better in one-dayers than tests. Surely if Greg has benn concentrating on the one-dayers it must have been included in his job description when he started. Most people in India would rather India win the world cup than challenge Australia.

    However, players like Dhoni, Pathan, Yuvraj, Kaif, RP Singh and Sreesanth have all shown that the one day team can be a stepping stone into the test team. What this means for the likes of Laxman I don't yet know.

    So, if India improve in the one-dayers maybe they'll become a better test team slowly. If not then I can't see any easy decisions being made on the future of some of the batsmen.

    By Blogger Libero (22-Mar-2006, 9:54:00 PM)  

    Jagadish: England were missing Simon Jones for the whole series, and Harmison for the last Test. Whatever you think about Giles, the bowling was definitely weakened - but Jimmy Anderson put in a superb all-round performance in the last Test, almost eradicating the meories of his travails in South Africa.

    The person I thought would open would be Yuvraj, with Pathan as nightwatchman if need be. Surely he could have been sent out under strict instructions not to have a go outside off until an hour into the second morning?

    As for Tests and one-dayers, well, Indian fans seem to prefer the latter and England fans the former. So (most) of both sets should be happy.

    Ganesh: you're right, of course. Whoever else was involved the decision, it will be remembered as Dravid's. As the captain, it's his responsibility.

    By Anonymous Geoff (22-Mar-2006, 10:58:00 PM)  

    libero: That is a problem. You can't win a one-day World Cup if you keep getting morale shattering losses in tests ... or can you, given the two forms of the game are different? Perhaps if the personnel involved are markedly different. But increasingly I don't think that is going to happen. Aside from 2-3 specialist one-day players, the test and one-day teams will look almost identical. I think Laxman will definitely be back for the WI tour, since public memory is short. No one will bother about the rest of the batsmen who failed.

    geoff: I've seen Simon Jones in only one series, the Ashes. I reckoned that Flintoff, Harmison & Hoggard were more likely to cause problems for India's batsmen purely because Jones is an unknown quantity as far as I'm concerned. Yuvraj may not have been a bad choice as an opener, but perhaps the management reckoned that if there was a need for a quick dash in the post-tea session, he'd be more useful there. Pathan as an opener had worked against Sri Lanka, a far inferior attack admittedly! But the problem is that his batting ability is a) quite useful lower down the order and b) hiding his lack of success with the ball. He can keep claiming that he isn't an all-rounder. Right now, despite his batting improving by leaps and bounds, he's nowhere near an all-rounder. 89 wickets from 24 tests isn't exactly world class. But 4 of them were against the might of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh where he took 39 wickets. Now we're left with 50 wickets from 20 tests. I know he's barely 22 and it probably isn't fair to expect a 22 year old to be the spearhead of the fast bowling part of the attack. But life isn't fair. It isn't as though he lacks the ability.

    By Blogger Jagadish (23-Mar-2006, 8:32:00 AM)  

    for the first time in my life, i hear that nasser wasnt the only one responsible for putting australia in at brisbane, especially from jagadish. i know jagadish and the fanatic he is for dravid (i am also one) and only now he places others too in the culprit list along with nasser - can be for only one reason - to shield dravid. there is actually no need for such things, as its dravid's foolish decision to field first which caused all the damage. i agree the batters let the team down badly and also the eng seamers were splendid.

    india, in whites, is a very very poor team - and if the focus is ONLY on wc2007, there cant be a stupider focus on earth. as a supporter, i want my team to be winning in all forms, including ridiculous twenty20 games.

    if wc2007 was the only focus of greg's job description, i wud be stunned - more shock if greg accepted that.

    By Blogger Ganesh (23-Mar-2006, 11:33:00 AM)  

    Simon Jones had bowled well against India on the tour of England a few years ago, taken a five-for in the West Indies, as well as being superb in South Africa in the (effective) absence of Harmison. Besides, an unknown quntity is often very effective: Munaf and Sreesanth were, although Chawla and Blackwell obviously weren't.

    By Anonymous Geoff (23-Mar-2006, 11:37:00 AM)  

    ganesh: True, I'm just being conveniently defensive :) Would things have been different had India lost the toss and fielded? I suspect not.

    geoff: I think he only played one test in that series. I remember him more for the irritating hitting he ventured into when England were on the verge of being all out!

    By Blogger Jagadish (23-Mar-2006, 12:11:00 PM)  

    He did, and he only played one Test on the last tour of Australia - where he took the only wicket to fall before his injury as Nasser won the toss and fielded, which brings both discussions together nicely.

    By Anonymous Geoff (23-Mar-2006, 1:43:00 PM)  

    geoff: You're cunning! :) I definitely remember watching him twist his knee. I didn't watch it live. I'm not _that_ insane to wake up at 5.30 am to watch an England-Australia test :) But I may have watched it for a while post lunch. It was a horrific sight, especially considering he'd got Langer out (ct behind?)

    By Blogger Jagadish (23-Mar-2006, 3:04:00 PM)  

    How can India improve their batting displays in the future? Will they persist with the same players and try to improve them or bring in specialist test players?

    As far as I can see if players like Dhoni prove themselves in ODIs then they get rewarded with a spot in the test team. If this continues will we see players like Laxman coming through less and less.

    By Blogger Libero (23-Mar-2006, 7:07:00 PM)  

    libero: Exactly what is a specialist test player? Someone like Laxman, Kumble etc.? I suspect VVS will be back in WI. Actually he better do well if he's back!

    By Blogger Jagadish (24-Mar-2006, 3:06:00 PM)  

    vvs gets a lucky escape - with sachin doubtful for the wi tour, am fairly sure the slectors wud go in with vvs for some experience, which is actually not needed, especially in the form of laxman.

    By Blogger Ganesh (26-Mar-2006, 12:23:00 PM)  

    ganesh: I think he'd have been in the squad regardless. Unlike other sides, we've struggled to beat WI!

    By Blogger Jagadish (27-Mar-2006, 10:53:00 AM)  

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