Tag: India (Page 1 of 2)

Vintage Yuvraj puts Pakistan in the shade

Yuvraj Singh

It was a Yuvraj special that made the difference in Birmingham

Yuvraj Singh announced his arrival in international cricket in a tournament then known as the International Cricket Council KnockOut in Nairobi. Exactly 295 One-Day Internationals later, he was difference between a decent score and a matchwinning one in the ICC Champions Trophy, a solid 17 years later.

The stage changed from sunny Nairobi to wet Birmingham, the tournament renamed itself, the opposition was not Steve Waugh’s Australia but Sarfaraz Ahmed’s Pakistan. One thing remained endearingly the same: Yuvraj dug out a Glenn McGrath full ball with ferocious intent then, and Hasan Ali suffered the same fate, the followthrough that once reminded the late great Hanif Mohammad of Garry Sobers, being shortened to an economical punch.

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All-round India too good for Pakistan

India v Pakistan

Predictable Pakistan are mercurial no more

It was not so long ago that Indian fans went into a World Cup honestly thinking that the final result was irrelevant. Reaching the final was good, winning would be a bonus, but beating Pakistan on the way there was non-negotiable. In Birmingham at the 2017 Champions Trophy there was a mildly anti-climactic feel toIndia’s comfortable 124-run win.

Here was a Pakistan team that neither mercurial nor unpredicatable. Here was an Indian team on top of its game in almost every respect. For once, India even had a fast-bowling attack far superior to the one it was facing. There was no Imran, no Wasim, no Waqar, no Shoaib, and only in Mohammad Amir’s first spell, especially the testing maiden over to Rohit Sharma first up did the match feel like a contest.

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Cricket in the time of terror

India v Pakistan

The on-field action was largely calm and quiet

It was not quite Nero fiddling while Rome burned, but there was an eerie sense of calm at leafy Edgbaston where India and Pakistan played cricket in the backdrop of the atrocities of London. Not one full sleep after a van mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge, that most English of landmarks, and knife-wielding men slashed and stabbed people at a restaurant in Borough Market, cricket provided a soothing oasis of normalcy.

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What next for inventive Birmingham?

Birmingham

The world has much to thank Birmingham for

Maternity, it is often said, is a certainty, while paternity is a myth. And so it bears that necessity may be the mother of invention, but Birmingham never got credit for being the father.

Anyone reading these words, with acceptable and understandable skepticism should know they would not be doing so, if not for the good folk of the City of a Thousand Trades.

After all, it was Conway Berners-Lee, Birmingham bred, who brought the world the first computer, the Ferranti Mark 1, in 1951, and whose son Tim put forward the first proposal for something that we now know as the World Wide Web, in 1989. But before solving the transmission conundrum, there was the small matter of listening to the players, and Birmingham’s Michael Gerzon invented the microphone, in 1975. Go back further to 1822 and you can thank John Mitchell, who pioneered the technology of mass producing steel-nib pens when the quill was still mightier than the sword.

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It’s all backwards at the Champions Trophy

Economic Times

It’s the other way around, silly.

Where heroes become champions. The International Cricket Council greets fans and players alike with this slogan at the 2017 Champions Trophy. Entering the Oval where India were taking on Bangladesh in a practice match, several punters were scratching their heads. Shouldn’t it be the other way around, they asked, hoping that their heroes might win the tournament and become champions.

The slogan, no doubt coined by some creative genius in an office, works brilliantly, if not in the way literally intended. After all, there is so much about this tournament that seems to be backwards. 

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Off the field, this Rahul is still silken

KL Rahul nurses his injured shoulder

KL Rahul nurses his injured shoulder

On a warm summer’s afternoon an unremarkable scene plays out in a coffee shop just out of range of a long Chinnaswamy Stadium drive from Chris Gayle. Four young men are huddled around a table, dressed fashionably casually, beards, sassy spiked hair, flip-flops and tee-shirts of varying hues, sipping exotic teas. But there is something remarkable about one of those young men, KL Rahul, who has enjoyed one of the best years of his fledgling cricket career. Recovering from a shoulder injury that needed surgical intervention, Rahul is forced to cool his heels, missing the very tournament that provided the breakthrough in his career.

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Day 2: Dharamsala decider evenly poised

Economic Times, March 27

At the end of the second day the match was poised on knife’s edge
© Economic Times

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. The Australian cricket team might have met the Dalai Lama on the eve of the Dharamsala Test, but it was these words, Matthew 7:7, from the King James Bible that typified their effort on a second day’s play that left the game poised on the proverbial knife’s edge.

Josh Hazlewood asked questions with the dexterity and tact of an interrogator wearing down a stubborn suspect, marrying nagging accuracy and monstrous movement off the cracks in the pitch, and the wicket of M Vijay was given to him, the batsman playing at a ball that was short enough to leave after being given a torrid time.

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How Hirwani sharpened Jadeja’s arrows

A long home season beckoned India, and Ravindra Jadeja was less than pleased when he had to leave his beloved horses behind and make the trip to the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. But there was work to be done. Even Jadeja did not know just how much.

Ravindra Jadeja

Ravindra Jadeja has grown from great bad-wicket bowler to all-round steady hand.
© The Scroll

While he has always been accurate, Jadeja was slowly acquiring a reputation of being a great bad-wicket bowler who was merely steady on other surfaces. Jadeja, it was felt, was truly effective only when bowling straight on rank turners. This, of course, was not true, but as the high and mighty like to put it, perception matters as much as reality.

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Saha’s time has come

Wriddhiman Saha

Wriddhiman Saha waited long, but when he got the chance he made it count
© Man’s World

Soon after making his Ranji Trophy debut for Bengal back in 2007, Saha established himself as the premier glovesman in Indian first class cricket. Moving naturally on his feet, anticipating well, at ease standing back to the quick men and at his best close to the stumps against the spinners, Saha was the most skilled and agile wicketkeeper since perhaps Nayan Mongia. And yet, despite making his Test debut in 2010, Saha would rack up just three Test matches in four years, when Mahendra Singh Dhoni announced his retirement from the longest format in Melbourne.

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Chinnaswamy Stadium

India wins, Indians live and love

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Chinnaswamy Stadium

To be in the stands and watch the Indian team give back the love they get each day was priceless.
© Anand Vasu

“It’s a great day for singin’ a song and it’s a great day for movin’ along. And it’s a great day from morning to night. And it’s a great day for everybody’s plight.”

The immortal Lt. Col. Frank Slade, played by the peerless Al Pacino in the timeless movie, Scent of a Woman, goes from being the grumpiest sourpuss on the planet to the happiest man in the world in a classic scene that anyone who has watched the movie will remember as long as they live. To be at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, a nameless face among a throbbing sea of humanity in the stands of a great cricket ground on a day when the home team overcame a determined and worthy adversary was perhaps the closest one could come to feeling the euphoria that Pacino so expertly encapsulated.

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