India Australia 2014-15

Daily and Regular reports

Carlton Tri-series – England, Australia, and India

February 01, 2015. 0901 IST. Australia has been asked to bat on by England in the last big game before their World Cup game at the MCG. When it’s big final, knock out cliffhanger, it’s needless to remind viewers that it will be Australia who are second to none in taking things on the field seriously. With the indomitable legacy of Allan Border, Steve Waugh, McDermott-McGrath-Warne trio, which got nicely fixed in the hands of Ponting and Hussey and the Hayden-Glichrist duo, the sight of ferociousness is the most awaited event. One gets it across on watching some of the thrillers when Australia took the ultimate, in Calcutta (1987 Reliance WC final), in Mohali (1996 Wills WC semi final), in Birmingham (1999 ICC WC semi final). Steve Waugh played in all the three and had his temperament fire on the opposition at regular intervals!

January 30, 2015. 2019 IST. WACA final will be held between Australia and England on Sunday. England did receive a jolt when Indian bowlers lived up to expectations as they removed half of English side for just 66 in 20 overs. The sixth wicket partnership was largely a result of India’s weakness to cash in on early breakthroughs. It’s however foolish to belittle batting depth of batsmen on bouncy tracks as we have luxury of assuming that these are in for some trouble on turning tracks back in India and Srilanka. But that’s how cricket is played. The game always had wise men playing with wisdom of knowing when to beat and when to show back and calm down. England in the year 2012 made mockery of Dhoni and co. on flat curvaceous soils while India did the opposite, chief thanks to its bowling woes aided by batting flip flops. If India has to fancy an out side chance of making appearance at Sydney (24 March) or Auckland(26 March), MS Dhoni should take his old batting habit out and show the way. With the kind of seriousness and variety in bowling the opposition out, it’s very unlikely that they might repeat Wankhede and Mohali special.

January 26, 2015. 0726 IST. A happy Republic Day first of firsts to all Indians across length and breadth of Australasia and, we wish Tasmanians the very best on the Australia Day. Today majority of India celebrates Ratha Sapthami (to mark the birthday of Sun when God of shine is believed to turn His chariot on the seventh day after entry of Makar – the day when sun rays directly touch sanctum sanctorums of Sun deities, notable among them being World Heritage Site Konark of Odisha and Arasavalli of Andhra, which is a rare sight in the world of spectacle beyond comprehension of visible science). Can Indians pick the length from here on? Will Kohli enact another 2012 Adelaide Oval(against Sri Lanka) and 2013 Jaipur special(against Australia)? Can Shikhar Dhawan make a dream comeback with little adjustment to temperament, especially in shot making, which he fondly did in 2013 Champions Trophy in England? Rohit(not playing today) and Dhoni should reassess what’s important for them before the World Cup. As regards the host team, it’s only a practice game for them as they have made it to WACA final with a last over win mauling 300 plus against Jimmy and co. Home ground of McGrath, Warne and Waugh, the SCG, is traditionally known to assist slow medium pacers and support spinners with good turn and bounce. Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble for India suffered a lot when they bowled too quick whereas young guns Pathan and Karthick made decent contests. Brette Lee sealed a last over win here in 2004 Triangular series after India led by VVS Laxman (106 not out) and Yuvraj (139) scored near 300. 0859 IST. The news from the match point is a bit worrying as rain looks to upset plans of both. 0925 IST. Stand in skipper George Bailley sent India into batting on a wet  pitch. Interesting to see approach of batsmen in the middle!

January 23, 2015. 2155 IST. As expected in the morning session Australia did make it to finals with little suffocation in the middle, and though it appeared set for a little cracker of a contest, Smith’s team gained in the end for English fielders and bowlers lacked killer punch despite making 300 plus even with Finn and Anderson in their ranks.  It is not, though, professional to forget how Smith had paced his innings – a captain’s knock. Without losing too many wickets in the span of scoring at a required rate of six runs an over facing Anderson and Finn and Ali is not an easy experience on Aussie pitches, especially under artificial light however modern and sophisticated they might be. Earlier Ian Bell (141) took the opposition party for a stroll with some measure of company from Joe Root (69) and the ruthless Bell’s blade made sure Australia would have to tighten screws to make leakage slow for fancying a competition till the evening when lights take full effect. Now, the onus is on India to take things seriously enough for they cannot afford to slip into tales of disastrous tour to Kiwis in 2002-03 and its insignificance to India’s safari title campaign.

January 23, 2015. 0636 IST. Well, we talk about cricket in numbers almost every second because, of course, they are matter that matter. Have you ever heard of same experiment being repeated multiple number of times and then, sample size itself becoming a phenomenon to overrule errors for the desired result? A mathematician picks up the answer. World of numbers had waited for Gerolamo Cardano’s imagination to be built successfully by Bernoulli. That’s called Law of Large Numbers. Australia and England play today at Bellerive Oval in Hobart and a win for Australia means India should take two straight wins to play hosts on 1 February at WACA without getting caught in NRR and bonus point weightage. Australia sealed a narrow win against Pakistan on this day 15 years ago at MCG in a day and night game. India played positive cricket in the next game at Adelaide Oval on 25 January as Sourav Ganguly stopped Pakistani bowling march on a pitch that was known to deteriorate with match progress. And on Republic Day, India lost to Lee and Waugh brothers. After 15 years, India are playing Australia on the same day at SCG under lights. India then plays England at WACA on 30 January. Indians lost to Australia the same day at the same ground in 2000. Sachin’s catch to send Michael Bevan was perhaps the best fielding moment for demoralized side. History just repeats or is it just a case of numbers that’s doing the trick? Let’s wait as the skill gap is too unpredictable compared to how it was then.

Fourth Test Match, Sydney Cricket Ground, January 06-10, 2015.

January 08, 2015. 1237 IST. My post on KohliBefore going on here readers Post on Kohli can not be Tendulkar on fb timelineare advised to be wary of critical quality the site author prefers only to make the dissemination a reasonable one countering biases. Here’re the snapshots on author’s social marketing profile timeline of facebook. You may be tempted to count the author amongst Sachin’s die-hard fan base, but reality should offer us insights into how we pace our think tank just as batsmen and bowlers pace their strategies for winning. Here, the author only argues. Now, it is for Indian cricket lovers to analyse.

Oh my boy, Kohli! Sydney has given your potential another feather; you have become the second only Indian test cricket batsman after The Wall to score 500 down under. The batting from the young Indian captain looked smoothly paced yet bombarding on yet another batting surface with the lone exception of mistime that had for a moment bogged Indian dressing room at 59. This also gave Kohli the distinction of being the the third touring batsman to score four hundreds on Australian soil. And coming to the point, Rahul scored a well-made hundred on the belter with a good support from the other end. That was a coincidence for Smith to miss two catches from the two. India is still trailing by 230 with Virat at 140, and most likely he might as well repeat Sachin’s 241 in 2004 New Year Test which carved out a wonderful partnership with the magnificent Laxman who loved batting against Australia like none before, particularly on huge grounds with lot of thick greenery.

January 06, 2015. 2120 IST. Before we talk anything, it would be good to see Pigeon writing on his view on twitter. McGrath's prediction of India going 4-0 down and 3-0As things stand as of now, Aussies have taken their job serious enough to make this match a one-sided affair. Particularly with David Warner and Rogers at either ends deciding to play aggressive cricket in memory of their lost member Phil Hughes, Indians appeared set for ‘look, okay, don’t play hard by the way’. Almost set for big strides at 200 in 44.4 overs without losing one, if Warner hadn’t wanted to play across turf, Australia would have certainly ended the day for more than 400 for one. The scenario then could have easily played on Indians who till now didn’t make their winning way overseas, especially down under. For all the talk that you hear of India being tough contender in tests, against might only when harried which isn’t a clever excuse, you only realize that apart from Sri Lanka, the Pakistan and the India touring squads only managed to continue being the opposition for completing formalities with few blinding exceptions at WACA (in 2008 January following Monkey gate episode when Indians lost the match to Michael Clarke’s last over) and at Adelaide (in 2003 December after Laxman-Dravid duo made mockery of Aussies on batting heaven).

Match Preview

January 06, 2015. 0440 IST.

The longer version of the beautiful game of cricket returns to Australia’s business empire Sydney after all the action and dram at Adelaide Oval, The Gabba and MCG. The start of the series with so much to prove and stamp for Indians started off well before host bowlers got their act together to restrict Virat and his men in what might have been Indian game at Bradman’s own ground. The Gabba offered good swing to the new ball bowlers and in the end it was too good for Indian batsmen. MCG did both sides in as for the first time CA seemed to have reversed nature of pitch – high bounce, testing conditions for openers, big boundaries, low scoring thrillers were always on the cards whenever a game was played at the biggest venue of the game. While MS Dhoni’s unexpected resignation from the testing version appeared to belittle Australian celebration and a minor reshuffle in the psychological run up to the New Year Test – the start was deferred as part of reshuffling of tour itinerary, the scene is now back on number 408 and the kind of tribute Steven Smith’s men should be looking for. 

Third Test Match, Melbourne Cricket Ground, December 26-30, 2014.

December 30, 2014. 1242 IST. Australia will take honours and end the year 2014 on a happy note except for the miserable incident at the SCG. That’s where they will head to in a week’s time to play India in the final test. They definitely did the homework which proved sufficient to force visitors land themselves on the stove. And when every time they looked threatening, the hosts went on strictly adhering to basics which again proved a bit high for the visitors who were either unprepared or struggling to find balance between disturbed strings in Pujara and Rohit and mix of inexperience and lackluster to really take things forward. Adelaide did result in an exciting finish, thanks to Kohli and Vijay, while Brisbane was another reflection of how pathetically India continued to rely on one or two individuals against a team that got psychologically disturbed at loss of their member few weeks ago. Now, on a batting heaven at the MCG which is a rarity according to Dean Jones, the story line is too familiar as expectedly India has let themselves down with poor fielding and irresponsible batting to stoop to the level of saving face from a brief position of dominance. ESPN Cricinfo has brought an excellent analysis 17 years ago for the match between Australia and South Africa which ended in a low-scoring draw.

December 29, 2014. 1257 IST. Looking at the scorecard and the way Aussies managed to pull back things quietly from Indian resurgence, gut feel has baggy green caps as favourites, going into the fifth day morning with over 300 run lead to seal 3-0 here itself notwithstanding optimistic counter-attack from Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli for bringing this year to an eventful end. Cheteshwar Pujara will need to stand up like he did in Hyderabad last year and offer support to the striker, and, Rahul and MS Dhoni have also got something to do to add variety in run chase. Shaun Marsh has made batting look like an easy task. Unless openers conjure up, especially Dhawan, who became misery for the seam bowlers in England and Wales last June, win for India is seemingly improbable, while draw is the most sensible response as hosts will try to exert pressure to unsettle them tomorrow again. But batting on and on for over 75 overs with no target in mind will leave batsmen baffled. Indians need to take things positively if they are to remain mentally fit and deny hosts second consecutive white wash. What a tribute to 408! “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” is what applies to both teams. Alas, is the Indian mass media discussing professionalism now for its future generation players or is busy elevating Kohli as Indian Ponting?

December 28, 2014. 2312 IST. There is a small comparison in numbers between Virat Kohli and his mentor Sachin Tendulkar. On this very day in 1999, Sachin faced the finest bowling attack of 1990s – McGrath, Fleming, Warne – and helped his team achieve modest total against a daunting 405. Virat Kohli got a ton at MCG this morning and scored 169 and this number reminds viewers of Sachin’s judgement alongside Azharuddin (who scored a brilliant 115 with SR of 104) facing top quality bowling attack in Donald, Pollock, Klusener, Cronje and Paul Adams at New Lands. Nayan Mongia scored his maiden test hundred at Kotla in the only Border-Gavaskar Trophy held from October 10 to 14. Titan Cup followed.

December 28, 2014. 1040 IST. Top order yet again failed to make any significant change to the odds in favour of Australians this morning too, before Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane brought some energy with their determination to bat through and most importantly provide momentum shift, before bowlers could be expected to run through Smith’s men for an outside chance. At tea, India looked confident of cutting short Aussie dominance and turnabout psychological advantage. Virat Kohli in particular was not in his best of assailing form providing entertainment at a pace only few could match nowadays, but his sheer temperament to bat through this morning at MCG - evident from his 65+ strike rate compared to Rahane’s 85 – definitely would put him on the top edge of the ladder. Coming to Rahane, his batting reminds viewers and critics of Praveen Amre and Sanjay Manjrekar, both having played here before World Cup exit after the game against Kepler Wessels’ men. Sachin and Laxman looted Steve Waugh’s men for a record fourth wicket in 2004. After ten years, the partnership of 262 for fourth wicket becomes the highest for India outside Asia. Current scorecard 430/6 at 1140 IST.

December 27, 2014. 1100 IST. The boxing day test so far has unzipped Indian fragility in cleaning up the lower middle-order. And with the batsmen facing a tough task of having to stick to and score at regular rate to avoid giving Aussies any psychological advantage, it is interesting to see how MS Dhoni rallies around his team and vice-versa. There are two results to predict based on what  we have seen so far in the first two tests and not entirely different test at the sprawling MCG. First – An Indian surrender without any application whatsoever. Second – Australian bad luck in taking the series 3-0 here itself as they had always faced when VVS Laxman made entire Australian eleven and his own team rally around his shot selection. Draw looks most uncertain now even for a staunch optimist from Indian point of view. If you are fan from India you feel that you are being cheated by successive dismal performances that had no taste for playing cricket and winning overseas. This has been the story of Indian weakness when touring Australia and South Africa which never appeared setting straight.

Match Preview

December 25, 2014 0040 IST.

The Christmas has dawned upon followers in yet another eventful year, the new year eve has geared up to bring in promise in yet another year of hope and change institution-wise and individual-wise, and the pitch at game’s favourite venue has everything to offer while the touring sub continental team has its task cut out in living up to expectations of fans back home, and avoid frustration just before dawn of world cup year.  The onus is clearly on appalled batsmen. Just about how their attitude in the middle might change for things to get worse or better in the coming up limited over internationals against England and hosts is what clearly remains to be seen, ardent lovers hope it will also unfold truth in percentage whether the talk of the most open world cup in decades carries emotional strength. The Indian mood must make things work for it to belief in itself to become the serious contender of the cricket’s treasured prize which is still waiting for arrival of new champions in England, South Africa, and New Zealand.

The Australian juggernaut continued this summer down under as Indian elevens under stand-in captain Virat Kohli and regular skipper MS Dhoni appeared unsettled throughout first two tests on batting surface at Adelaide Oval and seamier at The Gabba. The hum in the dressing room after initial surrenders to inexperienced Australian bowling, though much of momentum loss was attributed to practice pitches supplied to Indian batsmen in the run up, appears not quite rhythmic as younger brigade would do well to acknowledge endurance as the key factor not only for Border-Gavaskar test match series but also the ensuing tri-nation series and the game’s biggest competition. It was here at the same MCG in 1992 that Pakistan demoralized English hopes under beaming lights, and the touring heavy name-plate Indian batsman-ship which was still in nappies during Wasim Akram’s magical spell that Friday night looks to turn rug upside down from the third test starting Friday.

All the statistics used here are based on ESPN Cricinfo including current scorecard reports. 

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