Monday, October 11, 2004

The Takeaways

Clarke is really taking the elevator up.He is wasting no time in developing into a world-class batsman,the potential for which he possesses in abundance.

Glenn Mcgrath is at his very best.We need him to fire on all cylinders,especially against this Indian team.The loss of an early wicket or two really puts them on the backfoot and we can attack more freely.Glenn is not the kind of bowler to get hassled by a few streaky shots.He might show his anger at the batsman with an occasional word or two,but his deliveries are always spot on.This is what makes him different from the others.His work ethic has always held him in good stead.Another notable thing in his second innings has been his strength. Before the injury,Glenn had been slowing down gradually.What the break did for him was give him ample time to take rest and build his upper body.One can notice the difference in his shoulders and build.This has meant that he is bowling fast enough and can maintain his consistency for longer periods.The body is not tiring that easily.

Kasper was under utilised but has shown readiness to bowl long spells.He might be required to do the duty if and when Dravid,Laxman and Sachin score,hopefully very late in the series.

Gilchrist's batting was immaculate but some of his bowling changes left me wondering if he is carrying too much baggage from the 2001 series.He has to be a trifle more attacking.One should respect the opposition but not to the extent of letting someone like Harbhajan and Pathan get away with those horrendous shots on the fifth day.He should have pressed for more short balls from Gillespie and Mcgrath.

Warne tried too many things.Probably the World Record and his own record in India has a lot to do with this.But,he is far too mature a bowler to get such things get to him.He has to concentrate on the job at hand.

The batsmen have to pull their act together - Martyn,Hayden and Lehmann all flattered to decieve.

Indian team
Sehwag - All you need to do is get him worked up and let Mcgrath bowl line and length to him.

Chopra - He has been a pale shadow of the solid opener we saw back home,last year.Pigeon and Dizzy are good enough to take care of these two.I would be very surprised to see any big partnerships from these two,especially if they bat second.

Dravid - Seemed like regaining some of his old form. The old bogey of Indian batsmen - running betwen the wickets,helped us again.Wonder how frustrated John, Wright that is, must be getting.As long as he is getting in,in the first five overs,we have the upper hand.

Ganguly - He keeps making schoolboy errors.Would have never made it to the Queensland second XI.What is the point of having a good hand-eye combination if you cannot use it well,consistently.Warne has to bowl a tighter line to him.No short balls to cut,no flight.He is not Sachin - he will gift his wicket on a platter.Keep talking to him.He does fall for the bait.

Yuvraj - Bowl a good length ball,just outside off stump and get ready for slip catching practice.Jokes apart,he has been batting under pressue because of the lack of runs at the top.This is showing in his game.He hasn't been in good form lately and as always the Indian team has been making all the wrong selections - I had noticed that Kaif has been in great form in the last month or two.We were surprised to see him out of the team.
We shall not complain.

VVS - We have been lucky.Warne has bowled few genuine wicket taking deliveries in the match and got VVS in both the innings.As Gilli mentioned,we are fine with Warne taking eight wickets in the series - all VVS.

Irfan Pathan - He is a very good player.His bowling has been restrictive and as long as he doesn't change his length,I am sure the Aussies can live with him.There are lot of runs at the other end.All we need to do is leave Pathan's balls and the non-striker can applaud the movement in the delivery.It will not do any harm to us as long as it's that short.I just hope he realises this after the fourth Test. His batting has been a revelation.He is still untested as far as quality short pitch bowling is concerned.The tapes from the India - Pakistan series do suggest a weakness against short pitched bowling.I don't think Glenn or Dizzy should try to blast him out though.That can be done by Brett Lee.

Harbhajan - The batsmen have coped well with him.Though he doesn't look as dangerous as in 2001,he has managed another ten wicket haul in this match.He needs to be tackled better.

Kumble - DO NOT be tentative against him.the only way he takes wickets is when the batsmen start thinking about the demons in the pitch - the bounce,the rough etc.Move your feet decisively when you are playing him and you should be fine.

Sachin - The News reports says that he might not play the second test too.The injury must be really serious.We all know he has always saved his best for us and he has played through injury before (the WC 2003).After the last series,I was expecting him to be make amends against the team which brings out the best in him.
It is a shame that the game has not seen the best batsmen in the world in action - both out due to injury.We just hope that Punter can resume his duties in the third test and hope to see Sachin back as well,preferably after this series.

The Umpiring
A lot has been said about the Umpirng decisions.I wonder why all the noise is made only when a team loses.As far as umpiring decisions go,it always evens up.You win some,you lose some.We have been guilty in the past of showing some dissent in public and the players in question have admitted that they got carried away.Now,as long as the emotions are directed towards the players,it's fine.When Brett Lee is bowling at 100 mph or when Sehwag is taking guard against Warne,you cannot expect thm to do so,with feelings of love for each other.But,what's important is that the players respect the umpire's decisions and do not continue with the enmity with the players outside the ground.The umpires have to be respected for what they are.You can as well have a law of the jungle on the field if you don't accept their decision.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Third day's play - JB's thoughts

Gillespie and Mcgrath bowled for too long in the morning.Kasprowicz and Warne should have ben brought in earlier against Patel and Pathan,who are decent batsmen.The maidens bowled by Warne and Kasprowicz put the pressure on the batsmen.Every Indian batsman thinks he is Sachin Tendulkar - bowl a few maiden overs and they will throw away their wicket,the heckling by the crowd does help matters.
It was good to see Gillespie among the wickets,finally.
The Indians managed to score 46 more than what I could afford to let them.The 200 barrier is a psychological one and the Indians would think they did manage some respectability to the score.It's always psychological with the Indians.They should not be allowed to think that they are,in any way,on the way up.I have to go only as far as the First test in the last series back home - our batting had a mini collapse and their skipper played just one innings and it was enough for them to get on the ascendancy and we all know what happened in that series,without Sachin going full blast.An Indian team which believes in itself, is very dangerous.When they are down,keep them there.

The Pitch Factor
It was only natural that we don't enforce the follow-on on this dust bowl.Even the Indians would find it difficult to handle the fifth day wicket here.It is disgusting to see such pitches in India. Though the Sri Lankan bowling is more dependent on spin than the Indian attack,they do have sporting pitches - atleast the wickets there are playable till lunch on the fifth day.The Indians have either been dishing out dust bowls or flat tracks.This means the toss becomes the deciding factor - if you bat first and post a big score - you are in the driver's seat.We are not complaining,for the time being.

Our batting
It did not go according to script - we shouldn't have lost four wickets.Langer has been susceptible to this particular delivery - pitching on off stump and coming in.Ajit Agarkar did this repeatedly in the last series and we will have to sort this out,soon.Hayden's run-out shows that the Indian team has been putting in some effort into their fielding drills and we can see how others are concentraing on areas which have been our traditional areas of strength.We have to look at how we can continuously innovate - we cannot sit back on our haunches and bask in the glory - others are catching up,and catching up fast.
Katich should not have got out the way he did - it was a soft dismissal by all means and these are the ones which we have to guard against.
Lehmann - we are expecting better performances by him and there is no question of panicking - he is a class act and it's just a matter of time before he gets it BIG.
Martyn and Clarke are playing well.Clarke has the confidence of the first innings behind him.A debut century is always sweet and gives you tonnes of confidence.We are looking for more of such performances from him.
The build-up to this series has been tremendous,especially with some of the Indian press asking us if the Border Gavaskar series is bigger than Ashes.Well, we don't think it is that big.But,the boys are definitely looking forward to winning this one - there hasn't been any country where we haven't won for so long.I have a feeling that our performance in India has got to do with the mind than with anything else.It happens in all sports and to teams and individuals.If you fail repeatedly when you know you are better than what the results show,you try harder and get conscious about it.It's just a question of playing your natural game and not worrying about the result.
Tomorrow would be one such instance when we just have to play our natural game and not worry about the result.
The batsmen have to put up a good show - am looking forward to another good display by Clark and we should be able to declare after half an hour's play in the second session.A target of 500 should ideally put us in an unbeatable position.Personally,I think a lead of 400 on this track is enough but we are not going to take any chances. (Now,am I putting too much pressure on myself,thinking about the result?)

The opening bowlers will have to provide the initial breakthroughs again.We cannot afford to let the batsmen settle in.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

2nd Day's Play - JW's notes

* We are a bowler short - only 3 for Zaheer is in no form, neither being able to contain, nor take wickets. Harbhajan came back strongly in the latter half, but Kumble was erratic. Pathan needs more support at the other end.

* We didn't have a proper plan to counter Gilchrist. But it must be said both Clarke & he played brilliantly, and sometimes you can't do anything about that. +ve was that we wrapped up the tail which is known to wag.

* Chopra, Dravid fell to bad misjudgments. Ganguly & VVS fell to really good balls, not much they could do. Yuvraj & Sehwag leave me fuming. Sehwag played a similar uppish stroke over midwicket a few overs before he got out. Yuvraj once again fishes, and he's been gone that way in all forms of cricket.

* Our attack-prone batsmen need to learn from Gilchrist's tactics while batting - play yourself in early. currently our best defensive batsmen are Rahul & Sachin, so the loss of Sachin is hurting us in that aspect. I though the captain played well.

* McGrath was disciplined as ever, and sadly none of our batsmen had the main weapon to counter him - sheer mental strength to see him off. Esp. given that Gillespie was not doing well, and we were able to play Warne well (who apart from his magic ball wasn't that threatening). Kasprowicz is one of the danger men.

* Next day's plan: Pathan & Patel will put a price on their wickets, so we'll see how far they get. Will the aussies enforce a follow-on? Probably not since there's so much time left in the match. This will mean their batting order will reshuffle, can't see Gilly coming in at 7! Will have to try and work him out early. The aussies have been trying to get us to play shots early at the opp end to McGrath, but Gilly has been cautious - so we may not be able to do that to him. We need a bowler to bowl a tight defensive spell.

* Inspite of what people say, some of our batsmen are getting there - VVS & Rahul will fight back soon. Ganguly has to stay at 4 (a decent move on the 2nd day as he is in better form and had to assert his leadership), but should we try Yuvi as the opener this time as we always threatened? Think of 2001 (for whatever it's worth).

* Try not to think of the S-word & the R-word!

Second Day's Play

Damn! India reached 150 ! Glen Mcgrath has exceeded my expectations.With the kind of start Glenn Mcgrath gave the visitors,the Indians should have been sent packing.The way he got Chopra and Dravid showed that he was geared up for the battle and has been planning for this series for some time now.The confidence of a 450+ score was what was driving the visitors and the Indians were under pressure right from the word go.

In the morning,Gilchrist went about taking the game away from the Indians in his typical fashion - scoring at a fast clip and was threatening to overtake the debutant centuy maker Clarke.Irfan Pathan's bowling,though restrictive was not exactly penetrating - reason being he was bowling an inch short.He has been prone to bowl at this just short of good length and I wonder how much has Bruce Reid got to do with it.Aussie bowlers have traditionally relied on some movement and more on bounce and the lenth they bowl is perfectly suited to the hard bouncy Aussie wickets.But,Irfan Pathan has got more movement off the pitch and is more in the Wasim Akram mould.That's the reason why his deliveries have been consistently beating the bat but not resulting in the nick.He has to pitch it up (just an inch more).Too many ODIs could also be a reason for this length.This is not too big a concern for worry and some experience and talks with greats like Wasim should take care of this.

The way the Aussie tail capitulated in the face of some average spin bowling must have worried the team management.The absence of Brett Lee must have been felt.Warne is not a bunny with the bat and he has to do better with the bat.after a good display by most of the batsmen,such meek batting would be overlooked but this is what did them in,in the Kolkata Test in 2001.

Selection woes
The success of Katich and Clarke means that it's going to be difficult to drop either of them when it is time to accomodate Ponting.Lehmann and Martyn will have to do better in the next innings.They are class players,especially against spin and should not take too long to get going.

Adam Gilchrist made a mistake in under bowling Kasprowicz.His bowling is suited to the Indian conditions and can keep toiling to no end.He should have replaced Gillespie earlier and the bowling should have been shared between Mcgrath,Warne and Kasprowicz.

Already,there is speculation if we have the guts to enforce the follow-on?
I don't think we should be considering enforcing it unless if we manage to bowl out the Indians for less than 175.The reason is not because we have had a nightmarish experience last time round.But the simple cricketing logic that a lead of 275 is not big enough - not on such a flat track.There are some factors which would be in favour of enforcing it - we haven't bowled for long,lot of cricket left to be played in the match and the fact that we are not too tired and are bowling well.
But,a lead of 275 is just not enough for the strong Indian line-up.there is no reason why we should let them come back into this match and get the psychological edge.Even if they don't win the match,if they avoid defeat from here,it will be a shot in their arm - which we need to avoid - both the teams are rhythm teams and have shown in the past that they can turn the course of the series based on confidence derived out of one innings.

POA for the Third day's play : Bowl them out as soon as possible and play out the third day.

22 Yards - Toss up

To record collective thoughts on the game!