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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Two Double Hundreds in a Test Innings: Rare Record

When VVS Laxman completed his double century in the ongoing 3rd Test against Australia in Delhi, a little after Gambhir had completed his, the duo joined a rare club of 'twin double centurions in a single Test Innings'. Here is a compilation of the other instances of this record - I have manually compiling this list, and is not yet complete. Should be a finished product in a day or two.

1. Pakistan vs West Indies, Venue: Jamaica, 26 Feb - 4 Mar 1958 ( 6 day test )

Chasing Pakistan's 1st innings total of 328, West Indies piled up a score of 790. Opener Conrad Hunte scored 260 and Gary Sobers scored his famous 365 not out.

2. Sri Lanka vs South Africa, Venue: Colombo, 27 - 31 July 2005

After dismissing the tourists for a sub 200 score, Sri Lanka went on to make 756/5 declared. This included a triple hundred from captain Mahela Jayawardene who fell 1 short of Lara's mark of 375. Kumar Sangakkara narrowly missed his triple hundred falling for 287, else a record of two triple hundreds in an innings would have been one massive one, and unlikely to be ever overtaken.

3. Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe, Venue: Bulawayo, 14 - 17 May 2004

Sri Lanka's 1st Innings total of 713 for 3 included two double centuries, one each by Kumar Sangakkara and Marvan Attapattu. Both double hundreds came at good pace - Sangakkara's 270 came at a strike rate of 74 while Attapattu's knock of 249 was even better at 76.85

4. Australia vs England, Venue: Kennington Oval, 18,20,21, 22 Aug 1934 (Timeless Test Match)

Australia lost a quick 1st wicket when opener Brown fell with the total at 21. His opening partner Ponsford was joined by the Don and by the time the second wicket fell, the score card read 472. Bradman got out for 244 - if Sangakkara and Attapattu were quick, this was a lightning knock. Comprising 32 boundaries and 1 six, Bradman's 244 came at a strike rate of over 90. Ponsford's 266 was more sedate at 63.33

5. Australia vs England, 13-19 December 1946 (six day test), Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground

Both Sid Barnes and Don Bradman compiled identical scores of 234 in the 1st Innings of this Ashes Tes. What were not identical were the scoring rates - the Don himself scored a slow double by his standards, at a strike rate of 59.09 but it was Barnes' knock which was a specially laborious one. In his 649 minutes vigil at the crease, he faced no fewer than 667 balls - the innings was spread over 3 days!

6. England vs India, 13-18 January 1985, Venue: Chepauk, Chennai

Opener Fowler and Mike Gatting, both got double centuries for England in the 1st Innings of the test. While Fowler scored 201, Gatting got 207.

7. Australia vs West Indies, 5 - 11 May 1965 (6 day test), Venue: Bridgetown Barbados

Both the Australian openers, Bill Lawry and Bob Simpson scored double hundreds as Australia declared their 1st Innings at 650/6. Simpson's brave second innings declaration made it a very interesting test but he was fortunate in being saved from the blushes as time ran out on West Indies when they were just 11 short of the target, with 5 wickets remaining.

Narrow Misses:
India vs Pakistan Multan Test: Rahul Dravid declared when Tendulkar was on 194. Sehwag had scored a triple hundred in the same innings.

In the 1984 Faisalabad Test against India, Qasim Umar got a double hundred in the 1st Innings but the record was missed by the narrowest margin when Mudassar Nazar was unlucky to be dismissed on 199.

In Independent India's 1st test series against Australia in January 1948, Don Bradman scored a double hundred in the 1st Innings of the Adelaide Test. But this unique rare test record of two hundreds in an innings was missed as Allan Hasset was left stranded on 194 when the last Aussie wicket fell.

During the 1st Test of the 1981 New Zealand - Sri Lanka series a most unique record was narrowly missed - 'twin double hundreds in the second innings of a test match'. Andrew Jones missed his double hundred by 14 runs. The one who did go on to get his double hundred was more unfortunate though - Martin Crowe got out for 299.

Another chance to get this unique record came India's way in the famous Kolkata Test against Australia. That opportunity was lost in a very similar way as in the above Test - while one batsman (VVS Laxman) narrowly missed his triple hundred, his partner Dravid was unfortunately run out when his score was 180.

First Left Hand Double Century against Australia

Did you know that Gautam Gambhir just became the first left-hand opening batsman in history to score a double century against Australia?

(Australia played its first test a hundred and thirty four years before, and the Delhi Test is their 699th)

info source: Ian Chappell, informing ex-Australia captain and left-hand batsman Allan Border, on Neo Cricket.

Laxman vs Australia

Just 13 hundreds and a little over 6000 runs at an average below 45 are not the statistics that can assure VVS Laxman a place amongst the all time greats of the game. That do not even place him against India's best. Tendulkar has twice the number of runs and thrice the number of centuries. Ganguly, surely an inferior test batsman has more runs to show than the stylish Hyderabadi. Gavaskar, Dravid, Vengsarkar, Azharuddin and Vishwanath would all be ahead of Laxman in any list of India's all time test greats. But what make him special are his sublime touch and his record against the World Champions.

Earlier today, he completed his 6th ton against Australia. That's about half of his total number of centuries. Against an overall career average of 45, his average against Australia is over 50, and by the time the current India-Australia series comes to a close, he should have finished with a career batting average of about 55 against Australia. Of his 6000 runs, one-third of them have been aggregated against the Aussies. What makes his record against the world's leading test team even more special is the fact that he has been more successful against them in their own backyard. Laxman has 4 hundreds and over 1000 runs against Australia in Australia.

While almost every other leading batter in the world has used the matches against the minnows to prop up their batting averages, Laxman's career average against Zimbabwe is below his career average and against Bangladesh about 20. He seems to relish the challenge of playing against the world's best, and it's fitting that he will be playing his 100th test against his favourite opposition. The Nagpur test will be a very, very special one indeed!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Will the real ICC please stand up?

Sometimes one can almost sympathize with the ICC - that Cricket's governing body has to find time to investigate 'possible murders' is strange. Last year it was Bob Woolmer's death under mysterious circumstances during the Word Cup in the West Indies. Now it is a Fiji cricketer found in a pool of blood during the recently concluded Division 4 World Cricket League.

But shouldn't the ICC hand over the investigation to the police and instead focus its attention on managing cricket, and try and do a good job of it? Strange are the range of activities which keep the ICC officials busy. President Morgan has ensured that the controversial 2006 Oval Test between Pakistan and England is back in news. Umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove had adjudicated the match in favour of England, after the Pakistan players didn't show up on the field for the post-tea session on the 4th day of the test, protesting against the umpires accusing them of ball-tampering during the match. Subsequently, the ICC had reversed this result and now Morgan wants this decision to be reversed.

Lalit ModiThat match is well overs 2 years into the past, and the ICC would have been best left getting over with and getting on along with the current set of problems, which aren't exactly minor in nature. At the rate at which Modi, Stanford and the rest of the T20 band are growing, on either side of the equator, Test Cricket may be dead sooner rather than later. In cricket crazy India, an India-Australia test last week was played in front of a largely empty stadium. England, who were reluctant playing too many ODIs until a few years back now don't mind flying all the way to Antigua to face Middlesex for the Stanford T20 Super Series. IPL has already strained relations between the India and Sri Lanka Cricket Boards. The other T20 major, Indian Cricket League (ICL) has weaned away a large chunk of the Bangladesh Cricket team. New Zealand players are already threatening to go the Bangladesh way - and if they haven't already it's not for the charm of playing Test Cricket, but the lure of the the IPL T20 lucre.

Cricket, as we have known and loved it, is under threat from inside - from another game, which is trying to pass itself off as cricket. It is time Morgan and his men wake up to this danger and direct all their resources and energies in the right direction, and save cricket from extinction.

Monday, October 27, 2008

India vs Australia : Delhi Test - Will Bhajji make way for Kumble?

The BCCI is already ready with an ornate scroll to be presented to commemorate VVS Laxman's 100th test match appearance when India take on Australia in the 4th and final test match of the series at Nagpur. That match can't be Laxman's 100th should he not play in Kotla. Anil Kumble has already announced in his newspaper column that he is fit and ready to take on the field in the 3rd Test. Will the spin-maestro be able to reclaim his deserved place in the team? If he indeed does, as he should, the winning combination will have to be disturbed. But the question remains - who will be the chosen scapegoat?

Gambhir can't be dropped on form, Tendulkar, Dravid and Sehwag on form and more and Ganguly definetely cannot be - it's the penultimate test of an illustrious career and with a series average of 66.73 at the end of the 2nd Test, he is a potential contender for the Man-of-the-series. No one can dare think of sitting out Dhoni, even if he had not been averaging over 80 yet. That leaves us with the bowlers - Zaheer, Ishant, Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra. So which one of these four will be sacrificed to accomodate Kumble?

We can safely rule out the first two - dropping even one will imbalance the team and both are currently posing enough questions to the Australian batters with reverse swing. Ideally, it is Mishra who should sit out because he came in to replace an injured Kumble. Now that the captain is fit, Mishra must bide his team before he earns a regular spot in the India test XI. But it was Mishra's 1st innings demolition of the Aussie batting that sealed India's victory. Against a lesser opposition, the selectors might have still overlooked that match wining figures of 7/106. Remember Arun Lal? Even after scoring fifities in either innings of the test, didn't he have to make way for Gavaskar who had opted out of the Kolkata Test against Pakistan in the 1987 series. Mishra may not be comparable to Gavaskar in stature yet the selectors wouldn't want to make a wrong move that can jeopardise India's chances of grabbing back the Border-Gavaskar trophy from the cricket World Champions. India are 1-0 ahead and Mishra was instrumental in that solitary win. If he even comes close to his Bangalore performance in either of the remaining 2 tests, it will be sufficient to finish with a memorable win. That leaves us with just one name.

Indian Spinners - Kumble, Mishra and HarbhajanOver two days still remain before the Delhi match goes live, and the preparation for dropping the Turbanator seems to have already begun. During net practise at the Feroze Shah Kotla yesterday, Harbhajan Singh left the field after bowling just a couple of overs. Later in the day, while answering questions from the media, Dravid said it was because Bhajji had 'slight pain in the toe but nothing serious'. I fear that is just the first episode of a 3-act play which will ultimately result in Bhajji's omission from the Indian cricket team for the Delhi Test.

If Mishra has tormented Australia once, Bhajji has done it many a times before - once through a whole series, and not just with the ball. It is not easy to explain dropping Harbhajan Singh - the spinner is in fine form and the Aussies would be happy not seeing him in the final India XI. That necessitates this 3-act play. First let the media watch Bhajji bowling just 2 overs in the net and then dismiss the first round of questioning, as if to portray that he is fine and will play. In the second act, let the 'injury problem' escalate though still sounding hopeful of a 'recovery in time'. In the final act, make a last moment announcement of his having to sit out so that the on-field action will ensure that the off-field acts don't grab as much media and public attention.

But then, do they have an alternative? Truth causes too many problems, too many questions. A lie will keep everyone happy - Kumble is back as captain, Shashank Manohar gets to present the ornate scroll to Laxman for playing 100 tests, Laxman gets to play his 100th test and the team balance is retained. If India wins as it is likely to, we will all forget this little episode but should things go awry and Kumble fails with the ball, then there might be a 4th act to this play. Again unless Kumble has already been talked to about his retirment plans!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Huge disappointment for Bangladesh

One player from Newzealand finally came in between Bangladesh and its surge towards a first test victory over a major test playing nation. It was a spirited performance from Bangladesh in the 1st test of the 3-match series being played at Chittagong, but in the end captain Vettori's splendid all-round performance claiming 9 wickets and half-centuries in either innings ensured that Newzealand managed to reach home with 3 wickets remaining and in the process breaking a million Bangla hearts.

Compare Vettori's performance with the other test captain who finished with the man-of-the-match award on the same day and you will realize what a grand effort it was. In India's annihilation of Australia, Dhoni's twin fifties were enough to bag him the MOM award. Vettori, besides doing that, also bagged 9 wickets. Unlike India who outplayed Australia on each of the 5 days of the test, captain Vettori had to maintain his composure in a test, where Bangladesh were on top for the first 3 and a half days. (not for nothing is he amongst my favourite cricket players in the world - see pic on right column, top)

Two more tests still remain in each of the two test series being played in the subcontinent, and both teams from down under seem to be under huge pressure, though of different kinds. Whatever the final outcomes, the next couple of weeks surely promise the most exciting cricket action, and for a change, not of the quicker variety and neither off-the-field.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

When should India declare? (India vs Australia, 2nd Test)

India vs Australia, 2nd Test, Mohali
Scorecard at stumps on Day 3

India 1st Innings: 469 all out, Australia 1st Innings: 268 all out
India 2nd Innings: 100 without loss

With Stowage and Gambhir having already added 100 runs at just over 4 rpo and both still at the crease, India are already 301 runs ahead of Australia and well poised to go to Kotla with an important lead of 1-0. But the important decision tomorrow for captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni would be - when should India declare?

Arguments are flying thick and fast that India shouldn't get defensive and go for an aggressive declaration, Australia style. But is that required? I was following the post-match discussion on Neo-Cricket, where Arun Lal was trying to make a very pertinent point which unfortunately no one on the panel or in the audience was bothering to understand. Why Lal was against the idea of declaring at lunch was very logical - that would leave Australia with 150 overs and a little over 400 to get. If Australia bat out 150 overs, they would reach 400; in fact they would reach 400 in about 140 overs. That means '10 overs are wasted' - neither India needs them, nor Australia. What that means that India must bundle out Australia in under 140 overs. So wouldn't it be more sensible to bat for another 10 overs, get about 50 more runs and put the match completely out of Australia's reach? That may sound like a typical Indian defensive stance but it's not - it only allows Dhoni to give Mishra and Harbhajan that much more chance of taking a wicket by employing a more attacking field. Surely you do not want a situation where India has to go on the defensive by the end of day 4, were Australia to reach a score of 180 for the loss of 2 or 3 wickets.

Here's a table I have created which clearly illustrates that '5 overs after lunch' or 35 overs into tomorrow is when the ideal declaration time would be. Of course, Dhoni could employ someone to create a more dynamic 'excel sheet' to help him decide, factoring in a few more situations, mainly pertaining to the run-rate scenario.

Assuming India's Expected Run Rate on Day 4 is 4.5 rpo No. of overs Left Lead Target for Australia Assuming Australia chases at 3 rpo

Overs reqd to achieve target
Start of Day 180 301 302 101
At Lunch 150 436 437 146
5 overs more 145 458.5 460 153

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ganguly overtakes Bradman

Sir Don Bradman: 6996 Test Runs, retired.
Saurav Ganguly: 7000+ Test Runs, Unbeaten in current match against Australia, going strong!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Umpire Appeals in next India Pakistan test series

The ICC has approved an extension of the Umpire Review System first used in the recently concluded India-Sri Lanka test series. Four future series including the forthcoming India-Pakistan test series have been earmarked for further testing of the review system. Although Indian captain Kumble didn't appreciate the experiment much, that can largely be attributed to the atrocious results that India got in the review system. A total of 48 appeals for a review of the on-field umpire's decisions were made in that series out of which 25% were upheld by the television umpire. Of these 12 successful decisions, 11 went in favour of Sri Lanka with India getting only the solitary decision in their favour. That obviously irked the Indians, but then technically the ICC and not IPL is still in charge of world cricket.
The next bilateral series where the review system will be employed is the Newzealand vs West Indies test series in December. The appeals system wherein each team is allowed 3 unsuccessful appeals per innings, from what we saw of it in its maiden appearance in Sri Lanka is a great move forward - bringing in technology to improve the percentage of correct decisions will help decrease the stress on the two umpires in the middle and reduce tension between players that often take root in doubtful decisions, a lot of which we saw in the Sydney Test between India and Australia.
A smart, thinking captain like Vettori should be able to use the review system to his team's advantage against the West Indies, much like Jayawardene did for his team against India. I personally hold Anil Kumble in the highest esteem and was quite surprised that he failed to get a review strategy in place. The review system should have actually fitted in very well with Kumble's stump-to-stump accurate bowling style, and he could have got a numer of decisions reversed in his favour. Indeed if the system had been in place in the Bangalaore test against Australia, Kumble would have definitely not gone wicketless. I guess he realizes that now, but then again the IPL is still technically not in charge of world cricket!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Vinod Kambli in Ek Khiladi Ek Hasina

So have you caught the off-field action on the new TV Channel Colours? I am talking about the new dance show "Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena" in which you can catch cricketers paired with glamorous TV actresses gyrating to Bollywood Numbers. These are the four Cricketer-Actress pairs currently in action:

1. India's 1st back to back test double centurion Vinod Kambli with Shama Sikander
2. Sreesanth with Surveen Chawla
3. Harbhajan Singh - Mona Singh (of Jassi fame)
4. Dinesh Karthik - Nigar Khan (of Lakme India Fashion week wardrobe malfunction fame)
5. Nikhil Chopra - Barkha Bisht
6. Irfan Pathan - Ashima Bhalla

Since the start of the show, the last pair of Irfan Pathan and Ashima Bhalla have withdrawn from the programme but there are rumours that they may make a re-entry.

Find below a video of Vinod Kambli looking very funny in some Chinese make-up dancing with his partner Shama Sikander on Ek Khiladi Ek Hasina's 4th October episode.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Tail saves Australia from follow-on in practise game

When the umpire lifted the finger for the fifth time in the day, it seemed all over for Australia. The Yuvraj Singh led Board President's XI was just a wicket away from shaming a full-strength Australian team into following on. Alas! That was not to be.

Hussey finally found support - at the fag end of the tail. Batsman no.XI, Stuart Clark gave Hussey ample company, toiling for over a hundred balls for a dogged 44. Hussey himself faced 302 balls for his score of 126. The duo added 96 runs for the last wicket ensuring safe passage for Australia, and but for a mircale session or two, the match looks headed for a draw.

What was worth noting were the contrasting rates at which the two teams piled up their runs. While the Indians scored at an Australian pace of 4.18, the tourists struggled with a run rate of just over 2. It is these run-rates which may become crucial tomorrow.

In their second essay, the Board's XI have already notched up 110 for the loss of Badrinath and Chopra. The two men at the crease, Jaffer and Yuvraj are both capable of scoring quickly - they are already 251 runs ahead and if they can add a quick 70 or 80 in the morning session and declare a couple of overs before lunch, things can get really interesting at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Live Streaming Cricket: India vs Australia: PC, Mobile

The Australian team is already in India, and already facing some uncomfortable time in their practice game against the Indian Board President's XI. As I write this at the end of Day 2, Australia are over 250 runs behind with 4 top wickets including Hayden and Ponting already back in the pavilion. I was catching the cricket action live on TV - Neo Sports. Besides India, NeoSports may be reachable upto the Middle-East (UAE, Dubai, Sharjah) .Hope you too are in a place where you can watch the India - Australia series live on TV. In many a countries you can watch the four India-Australia tests live on Sky Sports. For cricket fans in the US, the channel to watch out for is Zee Sports America. In Malaysia and Singapore, the cable TV operators Star Hub arrange for you to watch Neo Sports. However if you are not fortunate enough to be able to watch it live on TV, read on - about how you can watch live streaming cricket through the internet on your PC or may be even live cricket on your mobile.

Firs the bad news - Willow.tv is amongst the better options to watch live streaming cricket on the internet but they don't seem to be covering the India-Australia 2008 series.

Action8Cricket is another website you can check out for live stuff.

One new website I ran into - Imvite - provides you with an option of watching hundreds of Indian channels live on your computer. I saw ESPN-Star amongst the options but you may check out for other cricket channels. On Tariksworld Dot Com, you can download a Sopcast player and a TVU Player. There is a clear mention of the India-Australia series Live Streaming Facility.

You may also check out Indiapad, Desikotha or Daruchini for more info on live streaming cricket for the india vs australia 2008 series.

A lot of these places aren't legal and look pretty dicey. I don't know why the ICC or the BCCI don't make an official arrangement for live webcast of cricket on the internet - there was something during the IPL T20 but since then, I don't know.

A couple of times I have been stuck in places where it was not possible to watch live cricket matches on TV and so i know how it can feel. I haven't provided a direct link to any of these sites as I can myself not be too sure about any one of them but this should be handy references for you to start searching for more. You may have to do lot of searching on the internet - click on lots of different ads and search more before you find the right place. Good Luck!