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Friday, January 23, 2015

Cuppa Mania

Citizen reviews last four years of Indian cricket between world cups

Three years, Nine months and twenty odd days have gone by since that April evening in 2011.Here comes Kulasekara and bowls to captain cool and it's a six. Nation erupts. I still remember we 30 odd friends in a resort enjoying drinking dancing to glory. Journey back home even two hrs after the final presentation on star sports was amazing. There were people all over. Nation of 120 crore cricket maniacs happily slept late in the night.  It was a fairy tale ending for that  guy who was born same year as me and who had scored many hundreds and tons of runs in both the forms of game. Moreover he had seen glory of that lords evening in 83, disappointment of Graham Gooch's sweeps at Wankhede in 87 as ball boy when another legend had declared his sunset. He carried nation's hope after that long tour in Australia in 92 same like this time. He had seen disaster at Eden, crowd frustration and his best mate crying. He had seen father passing away in 99 and that loss to Zimbabwe in his absence hurt our semi entry though further road could not have been guaranteed but then who knows as even clinical SA ran themselves out comically.  He did not sleep week before centurion match vs. arch rivals in 03 but to be deflated at the final hurdle thanks to superlative innings by then Aussie captain. And he had forgotten the ambush of our Asian neighbours in 2007 in Greg Chapell era.  It was the moment. Still those moments give cricket fanatics like me goose bumps. somehow 2011 was special personally professionally and from cricketing sense.
Come valentine's day another mania will rock India after all hoopla about Obama visit and Delhi elections will be over. So who will lift world cup 2015. It's tough to predict but either SA or Australia and to some extent NZ have it in them. And fight for last  semi final slot will be between stronger Asian neighbours and England. But then once we reach semis , we will be different team. Most worry is bowling especially death bowling in Australia and NZ. But we won champion trophy in difficult conditions in England in 13 which is my only hope as cometh the moment cometh the man. And this Indian team especially batting has that X factor. Hope we reach semis and on a given day few people need to play out of their skins and innings of their lives to advance may to who knows even the cup. But if someone ask me to pick only one team it will be the Australia.
Just to comment on the days which has passed by mentioned at the start, it's been nightmarish time for Indian cricket. Especially on the test side we are heading to point of no return. Does that mean we as a country have lost interest in test. Answer is yes, everyone wants ready to eat food and no patience to see ebbs and tides of opera as they unfold. And there is commercial angle too, who wants to hard labour for five days to get same money be as a player, broadcaster, host association or other stakeholders for just 3 hrs or just 8 hours .  Yes i will stick my head out and say test cricket need innovation. Though well fought draws at MCG and SCG were entertaining so was failed chase at Adelaide. I don't know solution but maybe i can ideate by the time we take up white clothing maybe against minnows or SA this year in more friendly conditions.
But also admit that it's still transition phase to be fair on team India. Big 5 have retired and Sehwag is now history thanks to selectors. i would rather have a failed Sehwag in my side instead of someone say like Dhawan. How we miss Kumble, Zaheer , Bhajji and for that matter even inconsistent but incisive bowlers like Agarkar, Ishant, Shreeshant who have given us good memories of adelaide03 , Nottingham 07, Durban 10, Johannesburg 06, Perth 08 and so on. Its bowlers who win matches. Though fielding has improved in India esp after better grounds started coming up.
let me tell you it's least preferred choice for a person to be a bowler or fielder amidst all cricketing avenues. for eg last weekend we went to trip at a resort where we had reunion of 25 odd boys of my batch . idea was to win the toss, bat and run away to the bar .
Now how well we have managed transition. We now have troika of Rahane, Kohli and Vijay who seem to have it in them. Need an opener, no 6 and now wicketkeeper batsman  . After many years  our search of genuine all rounder still revolves around Pathan brothers. Our spinners have struggled even in home conditions as we saw another frontier broken by England in Mumbai and Eden. How we will miss Kumble. Fast bowling cupboard is bare and there is no quick fix. Till we get that solved winning tests will be a dream but can we produce good test bowlers  willing to grind of bowling 20-25 overs in a day? 4-0 losses in England Australia ended the golden generation of Indian cricket who made India a good visiting team as compared to earlier decades despite few individual brilliances by spinners, Gavaskar , Kapil , Vengsarkar and few gutsy batsmen. Then came last two overseas seasons on the road. We fought hard be it Jo'burg where we were denied by SA batters . We  had one bad session dictated by Steyn at Durban. In NZ we fought but had no answer to McCullum. In England we did miracle at Lords and then lost steam to play remaining three tests in five match series. Who wants test cricket? In Australia 1-1 score line would have done justice to Indian batting superlative performance. But for few rash shots at Adelaide.  But again you don't expect to win with this bowling. Only bright spot was 4-0 drubbing of Aussies in Indian in 13  which gave us bragging rights that we do same thing in our backyard as you do. And then there was that speech in wankhede when we all wept in Nov 13.
On ODI front, we had success of Champions trophy, we did well in England 14 , home series and in 12 tri series despite odds. We seemed to be well oiled ODI team but very recent ODIs down under makes one feel unsure. On t20 we did again well in one WC to reach final . Yuvi in 11 and in 14 were in different zones.   His personal health fight remains exemplary. Few good players like Gambhir, Pujara, bhajji, ishant have faded. In short search for bowlers and bowling allrounders continue if we really mean business in tests especially. in Limited overs we have a future.
Main gossip issue is why did MSD retire? If one removes conspiracy theorists suggesting IPL scam or fixing angle, he had made clear his priorities. so be it and that's my sense throughout this musing.  IPL phase 2 came and went by creating furor, scandals, litigations, politics, underworld, films etc.  Finally Mumbai Indians won giving comfort to disappointed diehard fans in phase 1 and to HIM. My own city failed to get as team on and off the field. But then one idiot film star has two trophies in his showcase. it's all happening as Bill Lawry used to say while we woke up at 5am in Australia to see coloured clothing white balls since 80s. No one blamed Kerry Packer then so why blame IPL.  But from plain consumerist point of view , i enjoy those May evenings when there is a match going on compared to silly soaps with bitches and Arnab's screaming. Only solace is good old Hindi music in absence of any  sporting  or personal agenda. World cricket remain focused on minting money without solid reforms or expansion plans. T20 is only way we can build 20-30 good international teams which can then really constitute real world cup.
But then till then lest this cup come in and mania begin. We are ready....
author runs blog nayakgiri.blogspot.com

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