" Cricket Etcetera was voted as the Best Cricket Blog by Google during the World Cup 2007 "

Sunday, July 29, 2007

India's Overseas Test Cricket Victories - Part 1

It's sad enough - the scope of this post, the fact that it's possible to discuss every single of India's overseas test wins in a series of a few posts. Did you know that in the 75 years since India played their first cricket test, we have won just 28 tests out of home! And yes, that includes our wins against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Did you know that the current test, the 2nd India-England match being played at Trent Bridge is India's 200th test-match overseas? Fortunately enough, it looks like this 2nd centenary will end on a happy note.
India's overseas Test Cricket Record (until the beginning of the Trent Bridge Test)
Played: 199, Won: 28, Lost: 84, Drawn: 87
Yet, and probably that's why, each one of this wins was special. Here's the 1st part on this series on Indian Cricket's glorious moments abroad.
1. The 1st away win took a decade and a half to come. It was in the 1st test of the1967/68 tour to New Zealand that India recorded its maiden test victory. Nawab of Pataudi Jr., widely believed to be India's best ever captain had been captain for almost 7 years then, when the historic moment came at Carisbrook, Dunedin.

Batting first, New Zealand piled up 350 only to be overtaken by India, though by just 9 runs. It was India's bowling and fielding in the 2nd innings that proved decisive. Prasanna scalped 6 wickets and there were 2 run-outs including that of NZ captain Barry Sinclair, who may not have then realized that his test career was fast drawing to a close. Prasanna's stars on the other hand, were on the ascendancy - he was to return to this country eight years later to record his best bowling figures of 8 for 76. That match, as you will see later, was to be the maiden test victory for yet another Indian captain.

NZ: 350 & 208, India: 359 & 200/5. Ground: Carisbrook, Dunedin. 15-20 Feb 1968

2. Unlike the first win which took 15 years, the second one came quicker - in 15 days. The series was level at 1-1, New Zealand having won the second test. Prasanna came to the party again, taking 9 wickets in the match. He was ably supported by Bapu Nadkarni (of the maiden overs record fame) who dismissed 6 NZ batsmen in the 2nd innings. Ajit Wadekar scored a match winning 143 and India went up 2-1.
NZ: 186 & 199, India: 327 & 59/2. Ground: Basin Reserve, Wellington, 29 Feb - 4 Mar
3. This was to be Rusi Surti's match, whose all-round skills helped India record its first back-to-back test wins outside of home and more importantly it sealed the series in India's favour - India's first test series win overseas. Surti scored a total of 127 runs in the match, with a 99 in the second innings - a score he could never improve upon in his short test career. The all-rounder also took 4 wickets and alongwith Prasanna, Bedi and Nadkarni dismissed NZ for sub-150 scores twice.

India: 252 & 261/5, NZ: 101 & 140. Ground: Eden Park, Auckland. 7-12 Mar 1968

On this tour of Australia & NZ, Rusi Surti scored more runs than anyone else - a total of 967 runs and he also took 42 wickets. Unfortunately for India, Surti didn't play for long for India, prefering instead to provide his services to Queensland.
4. Sunil Manohar Gavaskar made his test debut on 6th March 1971 at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and didn't take long to stamp his class. His pair of fifties in his debut match, a century by Dileep Sardesai and the wizardry of Prasanna, Venkatraghavan and Bedi helped India chalk up a rather easy win - India's first test victory in the West Indies, and 4th overseas.

West Indies: 214 & 261, India: 261 & 125/3. Ground: Queen's Park Oval, Trinidad. 6th Mar - 10th March 1971

5. India's 5th overseas success can also be described as India's first come-from-behind win outside home. Having conceded a 74 run lead, India bounced back led by Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, arguably India's biggest match winner overseas. (42 wickets in 5 tests) The English batters were bamboozled into submission by Chandra who returned with 2nd innings figures of 6-38. England were bowled out for a meagre 101, giving India a chase of 174. Gavaskar got out for a duck, but skipper Ajit Wadekar saw to it that India reach home safely. His unbeaten 45 was supported by Sardesai's 40 and useful innings from Vishy and Engineer.

24 years and 9 days since achieving its freedom from England, India had turned the tables on its masters in the imperialist's favourite sport. It took a long time coming, but it had - and the speed of the rise of India's fortunes and England's decline in the game would only gain momentum in the next couple of decades. The shakcles had been truly broken and what better venue to do it than London.
England: 355 & 101, India: 281 & 174/6. Ground: Kennington Oval, London. 19-24 August 1971
6. Eight years after leading India's efforts at their first overseas win, Prasanna returned to the land of his former exploits. Sunil Gavaskar was now the captain of India, and in the 1st test of this 1976 series debuted 2 men who were to play long and important innings for Indian cricket: Dilip Vengsarkar and Syed Kirmani. Both had rather forgettable debuts; wicket-keeper Kirmani not being a part of even a single dismissal (Only 9 more times would that happen in a career spanning 10 years). It was however the 3rd debutant who made a stronger impact on the immediate proceedings. Surinder Amarnath, coming in first down and Gavaskar compiled a match winning 204 run partnership. Both scored fine centuries and India took a lead of 148 runs.
Prasanna rocked the Kiwi boat in the 2nd innings, taking 8 for 76, his career best. Eight years back, Prasanna's wiles had turned the match decisively in India's favour. Eight years later, the master's wizardry sealed the match for India again. For captain Gavaskar, this success must have been the sweetest - it was his maiden win as captain of India.
Newzealand: 266 & 215, India: 414 & 71/2. Ground: Eden Park, Auckland. 24-28 January 1976

For Part 2 of India's Overseas Test Cricket Victories, click here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Twenty20 Cricket Hots Up: Both ICC & ICL

Even as the Ray Mali, the interim president of ICC officially launched the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup to be held in South Africa later this year, Thursday brought more exciting news for the breakaway Zee group led Indian Cricket League (ICL).
Australian Media reports say that the NewZealand captain, Stephen Fleming could retire from international cricket (the ICC version that is) to take up the captaincy of one of the six teams which will take part in the inaugural tournament of the Indian Cricket League - a Twenty20 tournament to be held in October this year, close to the ICC Twenty20 World Cup. Former West Indies captain Brian Lara and a number of other former and current players have already joined the Indian Cricket League. If you are wondering why Fleming would do such a thing, it is probably a 3 year deal worth US $ 7,35,000 which may be working against ICC, and in favour of ICL!
If Fleming does indeed join the ICL Camp, then that will be the first serious blow dealt by the ICL to the ICC. It may also open the floodgates for a number of other current players to join the Zee bandwagon. Should be exciting anywhichways: I was too young when the Kerry Packer hungama happened. Not this time!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

All about the Indian Cricket League

The Zee sponsored Indian Cricket League has made its biggest acquisition till date - Brian Lara, and will in all likelihood be in the sporting headlines of all major dailies today. Time to take stock of BCCI's newest headache!

Key Players:
Subhash Chandra, Head of Zee

Zee Telefilms / Essel Group

IL & FS ( Infrastrure Group, which makes it all the more interesting )

Himanshu Modi - Business Head, Zee Sports

Reasons for Creation of Indian Cricket League (ICL)

- Zee Telefilms' ambition to create sports content ( Zee Sports)

* Expectation of bagging huge telecast rights from BCCI didn't materialise.

* Zee has bought 50% stake in TEN Sports.

- Cricket is huge in India. Even a 10% share of India's cricket pie runs into hundreds of crores of rupees.
- Capitalise on Indian fans' disappointment with BCCI and the current state of affairs.The early exit from the World Cup created the right platform.

- Subhash Chandra's personal ambition to glory.

- Subhash's grouse against Pawar/BCCI: Chandra backed Pawar against Dalmiya in the BCCI elections, but there was not enough quid pro quo

- Texan Billionaire Allan Stanford's Twenty20 Cup in the Caribbean, a similar venture has been a roaring success.

- Similar leagues are being formed around the world. Twenty20 Cricket has been a huge success even in places like England, where cricket as a sport has been on the slide in the past few years.

Players already roped in by the Indian Cricket League:

Kapil Dev, Brian Lara, Tony Greig, Madan Lal, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Dean Jones, Kiran More, Sandeep Patil,

Other players rumoured/believed to have been approached:

Shane Warne, Glenn Mc Grath, Russel Arnold, Nathan Astle, Rohan Gavaskar, Hemang Badani, Anil Kumble, Shoaib Akhtar

Likely/Possible Other candidates:

Jason Gillespie, Tatenda Taibu, Heath Streak ( and a number of other Zimbabweans), VVS Laxman, Akash Chopra, Deep Das Gupta, Murali Karthik, Marvan Attapatu, Damien Martyn, Stuart Mc Gill, Inzamam-ul-haq, Ajay Jadeja, Nikhil Chopra, Saqlain Mushtaq, Chris Cairns....

Immediate Plan:

First season of ICL begins October 2007. The plan is to have an inaugural Twenty20 League tournament between 6 private teams. The prize money is reportedly US $ 1 million.

The six teams will comprise Indian, overseas and junior players. The plan is to expand this pool of 6 teams to 16 in the next three years.
At a time when the cash-rich BCCI is struggling to find a single coach for the national team, the ICL plans to have a coach, manager, mentor, psychologist and therapist for each team!


Zee, alongwith partner IL&FS to put in Rs.100 crores into ICL.

Set-up / ICL Who's Who?

Kapil Dev - Head, Executive Board, Indian Cricket League

Other ICL Board Members: Dean Jones, Kiran More, Tony Greig

Team Coaches (so far appointed):

Sandeep Patil, Madan Lal, Balwinder Singh Sandhu.

Reactions / Official Stands:

BCCI: As was to be expected, the BCCI is completely against the formation of ICL. So much so that the pensions of ex-players like Kiran More who have joined the ICL have been suspended.
PCB: The Pakistan Cricket Board has said that it cannot stop those players from participating in the ICL who have not been offered a central contract by the board.
NZPA: The New Zealand Players' Association has supported ICL, but is waiting for an official word from ICC.
Watch this space for more.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dhoni is an idiot

One wicket separates India and yet another test defeat on English soil ( their 24th it will be, in 46 tests). For the time being, bad light has stopped play and that may well be the end of the Lord's test - though 3 hours of play still remain, and you can never be sure about the whimsical London weather. What happened before the umpires offered the Indian batsman 'lights' was pathetic...
Zaheer Khan threw away his wicket trying to get an easy boundary round his legs. RP Singh, India's choice of nightwatchman in the first innings tried to get out quite a few times before he finally did. But the biggest idiot of all is the man who may well be described in tomorrow's papers laudingly - "the man who held fort". Mahendra Singh Dhoni may be batting on 76, may be that innings may play its part in saving the first test for India, but if you were watching the match live, you had no option but to be livid with him.
Fearing 'lights', Michael Vaughan had emloyed a twin spin attack - himself and Monty Singh Panesar. India were more than a 100 runs away from victory, and it was a matter of time before bad light came into play. But our man Dhoni was busy playing shot after shot - almost every single delivery from Vaughan he played, he attempted to score a boundary. God knows what he was trying to achieve! That wasn't it; he just didn't know when to get the single so as to protect the no.11 from playing too much and getting out. Either he miserably failed to get the important single - Sreesanth had to negotiate a full over from the dangerous Monty or when he did get the single, it was in an alarmingly risky manner. Once he almost holed out at cover trying to get a single.
Cricket is often not a simple game of 'bat and ball'. I have always felt that cricket is as much a mind game - and that's where I find the cricket and the coach are very important positions. The captain can't bat for Dhoni, but he can do the thinking for him. I'm not doubting Rahul Dravid's cricketing intelligence, but if he ain't employing it or if he can't make his team listen and agree, then he ain't a leader good enough to lead my country.

Chasing Test Glory

1730 hrs IST, 23rd July 2007
Lunch on Day 5, India vs England 1st Test, Lord's
India need another 173 runs with 5 wickets in hand.

I have completed almost about 2 decades of serious cricket-viewing, still waiting for India to turn one of these 5th day chases of 300+ runs into a successful one. Not many will argue with me if I say that there is nothing more fulfiling for a cricket team or cricket fan than to see his team to forge those all important partnerships on the 5th afternoon to see their team home. Afterall, it is a culmination of the previous 4 days efforts, and that's why ( this quantitative factor more important than any qualitative, i think) it hurts that much more to lose a test, and that's why, winning a test brings that much more joy.
As the players walk back to the pavilion for their final lunch this test, chances are slim of India holding out. Mahendra Singh Dhoni and VVS Laxman have sparked a mini come-back after the early lose of Karthik and Ganguly, but Dhoni hasn't really inspired much confidence during the course of his innings. The wicket-keeper has survived dangerously, with too many close shaves for a sub-fifty innings on a relatively placid 5th day wicket. More than anyone else he must also be thanking umpire Simon Tauffel for still being around - a less competent umpire would have definitely raised his finger for an ultra-close miss just before play closed for lunch.
My major grouse is not, and shouldn't be against Mr. Dhoni. It's more correctly against the trio of Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly. One or maybe two of them should have put in a more worthwhile effort - an additional 60 or 70 by one of them, you will most likely find at the end, may have made the all important difference.
The three, alongwith Laxman are now in the twilight of their careers. With plenty of cricket coming up in the next year and half, they will have more chances to realise my big cricket dream ( chances are it's their too, besides a World Cup win i guess) . If they can do it even once, it will be a day to savour. They only need to look up some of the score - cards of Ajit Wadekar's India Team for some motivation. That, a bit of luck and lots of application are all that are needed. Not too much to ask for, once in two decades. What say?
*Fact: It's been 75 years since India played their first test in England.
Total no. of test wins in these 75 years: 4
Played: 45, Won: 4, Lost: 23, Drawn: 26
A small bit of statistics might be the most important one - Indian batters avg. against England, when playing at home is 33.50. This drops to 27.4 in England. In a test match, that translates into 120 runs.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sunny at Lord's

Sunny's sense of humour is going from bad to worse. Look at Gavaskar's imagination when Anderson scalped Zaheer to close India's innings at Lord's a little earlier today.

" He has take a fiver; a Michelle Pfeiffer."

You can forgive the occasional fall in standard, but ever since this test started, I've been hearing the most ridiculous of attempted jokes by our man. Why doesn't close friend Ravi have a quiet word with him ?!

Friday, July 20, 2007

I told you so

Led by the animated Sreesanth, the Indian pacers have turned the first game of the series on its head. Until 20 minutes before close of play on Day 1 of this first test between India and England, the match seemed to be in the firm grip of the hosts. The Indian bowlers seemed to have completely given up, and at 252/2, the match looked already lost. How things have turned around!
RP Singh got the initial breakthrough clean bowling the night watchman, Ryan Sidebottom. That was followed by a brilliant change of bowling by Rahul Dravid. Much to the annoyance of RP Singh, he was removed in the very next over and the bowl tossed to the fiery Sreesanth. The young man delighted the captain with 3 quick wickets, and Zaheer finished off the innings managing to get Ian Bell to play one onto his stumps.
In my last post, I had raised my apprehensions about India's habit of allowing the opposition to recover through their no.7/8/9 . Fortunately, that hasn't happened at Lord's. From now on, it's upto the big 4 - ST, RD and SG will have to ensure that we cross the English score, and by a 150-200 run margin. The pitch still looks good ; if Jaffer and Karthik can somehow manage to hang in for about 18-20 overs, and see the shine off the cherry, I don't much doubt the big 3 succeeding with the bat. It will then be all upto their 4th swansong partner, Anil Kumble to drive the nails into the English coffin.

It's BCCI vs Cricket Australia now

After inspecting the venues for the upcoming 7 match one-day series between India and Australia, the officials of Cricket Australia have raised one of the old bogies. They are not satisfied with at least 3 grounds including Kochi. The team led by Michael Brown, Cricket Australia's General Manager, Operations has raised the obvious issues of poor facilities and ground conditions. The BCCI on the other hand, as is to be expected, is not ready to give in easily to this demand for change of grounds.
Australia is slated to play one-day internationals from September 29 to October 17 at Bangalore, Kochi, Chandigarh, Baroda, Nagpur and Mumbai. Let's see how this latest fracas shapes up.
Off the ground cricket is getting more and more exciting - more content and stronger players compared to the dip in the quality of the other cricket. With both BCCI and the ICC already fighting for the top honours here, Cricket Australia throwing in its hat in the ring can only make the cricket more interesting!!
Some ideas:
- BCCI can raise the issue of the lack of practise matches for the Indian team on their upcomin tour down under. That way, Cricket Australia can be put on the backfoot immediately.
- A super one: BCCI can let Subhash Chandra's India Cricket League (ICL) take care of the on-field cricket nonsense. That way Pawar, Shetty, Shah & Brothers can focus their energies on the actual cricket. Now that the Presidential election is done with, Pawar will have plenty of time again and will need something bigger to keep himself busy with.
- BCCI announces its own World Cup. With bigger prize monies, it can put the ICC one to shame. And we can have one every 6 months. Once in 4 years is too few.
- Sharad Pawar accepts his failure on the coach issue. A guilt-ridden BCCI President then goes on take up the responsibility himself. What's a leader who ain't ready to take some repsonsibilities. ( Of course, the cash rich board announces a whopping billion dollars or so as the coach's salary. Jagmohan Dalmiya goes mad.)
- After India's success with raising the quantity of matches in ODI series to 7 now ( even England is doing that, where the Texaco Trophies used to be a two match affair) , the BCCI can get more ambitious. Continuing on the series of prime numbers - 3, 5, 7...the next one is 11. Pawar invites Ireland or Bangladesh or maybe both for a 11 match ODI series. A leaked e-mail from Pawar to Shetty reveals Pawar's humble ambition: A grand 111 match ODI series between India and Papua New Guinea in 2011.

India look favourites at Lord's - I'm serious.

Of all the English batsmen, the one i fear most, the one i think is capable of being the most damaging for India is undoubtedly Paul Collingwood. So, i was more than relieved to find that our potential nemesis ( he averages 68 against India ) was removed by Kumble for nought. That wicket has also almost undone the good work done by the English top order. Michael Vaughan would surely be disappointed to find the honours shared after the first day of the Lord's test, especially after his team had dominated much of today's proceedings.

When the Indian pacers don't look good, they look really bad. Zaheer and Sreesanth were insipid and wayward, and England got off to a rollicking start. ( they were averaging over 6 at the 10 over mark and even at the 20 over mark they were over 5). So, that's the second thing that would sadden Mr. Vaughan. At the close of play, the run rate has plummeted to 3.68 - not bad, you'd say, but in a match already being marred by rain, that may be crucial. One of the reasons for the Aussies relentless success has been their stress on maintaining a 4+ average, almost always allowing their bowlers plenty of time to bowl out the opposition. What's the point in piling up huge totals, if that doesn't help you win.
India has a way of letting one of the No.7, 8 or 9 pile up a huge score and let the opposition recover. If tomorrow doesn't happen to be one of those days, India are my favourites from this point. A tad optimistic that, but then I am a cricket fan, and that too a India one!*
*Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

India vs England: Preview

The three of us were having yet another animated discussion the day before, on Indian cricket, when 'Citizen Shaker' made an obvious but an apt remark, "There are 2 regular openers in the side and one stand-by, and funnily enough it's only the stand-by who seems to be a certainty."

Dinesh Karthick has been the big find of the last year, impressing everyone, with his versatility of talent, and strength of character. Can you think of any other cricketer who threatened the position of two specialists in the team at the same time - one of the openers and the wicket-keeper. Quite an achievement, that!

It's been almost 2 decades now since Sunil Gavaskar last played for India, and a little under that for his long-standing partner, Krish Srikkanth, yet India's elusive search for 2 quality openers that began in the winter of 1987 continues without success. Barring Navjot Singh Siddhu and to some extent Virender Sehwag, almost none of the many, many openers that we have experimented with have had even a modicum of success. At best you may try and name Ravi Shastri, but he never really had a long run as an opener, and the only great innings i can recall are 2 - one apiece in Australia and the West Indies. Though I have a serious apprehension that BCCI's failure to find a coach for Team India might eclipse this failure very soon!

With India's batters very poor display in the tour games so far, the hope for the team actually comes from the opposite end : Freddy ain't playing, and so is Harmison. And if Hoggard joins them on the sidelines, Rahul Dravid & Co. will be facing a close to second string English attack. They relished a similar opportunity the last time they were Down Under ( Mc Grath and Warnie were both absent), and this challenge can only be easier. England has anyways been a favourite hunting ground for India's top troika. If Zaheer and Sreesanth can manage to get us the early breakthroughs, Kumble might be able to trouble the spinphobic English batsmen just about enough. I can't see Kumble causing considerable and/or quick damage, so the chief onus will lie with the experienced batters. Let's just hope that Ganguly, Dravid and Tendulkar sing for us a collective and beautiful English swan song.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Live Cricket Scores

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Own your own cricket ground for peanuts !!!

lunar cricket field moon location
Can you dream of owning an Eden Gardens or a MCG ? Or if they sound too big, even something like the Mirpur or the Harare ground? ( I am assuming that Richard Branson or Bill Gates are not amongst regular readers of this blog) But here's a truly out-of-the-world offer for you - Own a cricket ground for just 25 $ !!

The moon's first cricket ground - the Dreamcricket Lunar Cricket Field - was registered with the Lunar registry this past week. The Lunar Cricket Field is located on the Near Side of the Moon in the Equatorial region, and is owned by dreamcricket.com, a US based company that is primarily into online gaming and media rights. And the price, all of 25 $ !!! So, if you are not too worried about the legalities of the sale and purchase of lunar real-estate, go ahead and own your piece of the moon, and get ready to jostle for the rights to hold the first cricket match on the moon !!