Deep Backward Point

Blog against the machine.

Tag: India

1989: The Year of Tendulkar in Pictures

Some facts, to help you gain an appreciation for just how long Tendulkar has been at this (see also: India Since Tendulkar):

Fall of the Berlin Wall

Fall of the Berlin Wall, years before Dravid's debut

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A Curry-Pizza-Curry-Pizza Diet

King Cricket, on the feast that awaits us:

For the next few weeks, we’re going to get Zaheer Khan one innings and then James Anderson the next. It’s like our metabolism has suddenly allowed us a curry-pizza-curry-pizza diet.

Both sides bat deep, but it’s the bowling that has me salivating as well.

Nine Years Since NatWest

Nine years ago, today. My favorite one-day of them all:

And at 146 for 5 chasing 326 for victory, with Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid all back in the pavilion, the contest was as good as over. But nobody, it seemed, had bothered to inform Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh (combined age 41).

This was the game that made me believe. Believe that a new era had, indeed, begun. That the ’90s were over. That India could chase. That India could bat deep. That India, who had never made a 300+ score until 1996 (after even Zimbabwe), could make it look easy.

That India could win.

The Case For and Against the Abandoned Test

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, accused of the first-degree murder of Test Cricket

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, accused of the first-degree murder of Test Cricket

India took a draw in the third test against West Indies, with less than a run a ball required and seven wickets in hand with 15 overs remaining. All hell broke lose.

For the defense: Kartikeya Date:

The World’s Number 1 Cricket fan did the math.

A 50 over old wicket V A 315 over old wicket,
A heavy outfield V The usual lightning quick ODI outfields,
The lack of any powerplays V The lack of a thirty yard circle,
Very strict interpretation of the wide V A standard Test match interpretation
Free hits for front foot no-balls V No Free hits for front foot no-balls

For the prosecution: Alternative Cricket:

It was cowardly from Dhoni, and showed that his tactical awareness still leaves a lot to be desired. As an aside, it is hard to reconcile this ‘First, Do Not Lose’ attitude from Dhoni with his perceived aura of ‘fearlessness’.

Defense: Subash Jayaraman:

I am not insinuating that the fans shouldn’t question the tactics of their teams but to fundamentally doubt the players’ characters that have brought us wins, trophies and covered us in vicarious glory, is a little extreme.

Prosecution: Samir Chopra:

To be a true champion it is not enough that one sit on top of a numerical ladder of rankings and points; it is necessary the putative champion show the desire and the ability to respond to challenges, to find a way to transcend limitations and rise to the top of the game. [..] As for Test cricket, in such dire times, you need better guardians.

Voice of reason, Homer:

What does dominance achieve anyways? Bragging rights for a few years, an inflated sense of worth, followed by years of scorn and talk of comeuppance. On the other hand, longevity creates a system of sustained excellence. Coupled with the knowledge that the team is fallible, it keeps the team honest. It also allows for constant regeneration – the ambition being simple – win more than you lose.

India’s aim has to be for creating a dynasty, not dominance.

Prosecution: Zaltzmann:

At a time when the five-day format is widely acknowledged to be fighting for its future under sustained assault from various angles, Test cricket has punched itself in the face. Again.

Kartikeya Date, on the attack:

An impulse to make character judgments on the spur of the moment says nothing about any passionate interest in cricket or even in a particular cricket team. It has nothing to do with being a fan. It is simply a lazy, mediocre unwillingness to be a sporting observer. And it will happen again, the next time India suffer a batting collapse or fail to win. We’ll continue to hear the same nonsense about “mindsets” and “attitude” and “courage” (or preening tails that are not between legs!) and “tenacity” and “respect for the fans”. We’ll continue to have armchair coaches and armchair psychotherapists and armchair motivational speakers who will repeatedly turn cricket into some silly testosterone fueled race. Committed peddlers of grievance are a contagious tribe. They peddle only because they care so much. Social networking has merely turbo charged all the concern.

And the last word goes to Jarrod Kimber:

As the Woody Allen of sports [cricket] is far too introspective, manic and more likely to sleep with an adopted daughter than most sports.

Most sports are less likely to declare a major format of theirs dead on a daily basis.

That’s part of cricket’s charm, the worrying mumbling sport in the corner of the room whilst the other sport try and pick up.

It’s not smooth or charming, it’s kind of accidentally vulgar and offensive, but in an intellectual way.

Cricket’s always been like this, the problem is everyone looking back looking for the golden era.

Kimber wins.

In Which We Visualize the Awesomeness of Dravid (and Tendulkar) in a Single Chart

Dravid played a Dravid-esque inning yesterday, and in his honor, I present a single chart to show you his awesomeness.

And Sachin Tendulkar’s even more awesomeness.

# of Centuries in Test Cricket

In which we demonstrate the awesomeness of Dravid, but mostly Tendulkar, in a single chart

Why India Needs a Players Association

Over at Cricinfo today, Osman Samiuddin makes the case for a Pakistan cricket players association:

There has never been a greater need for one than now. Shahid Afridi’s needless legal battle with the board is only the latest in a burgeoning collection. Shoaib Akhtar’s fight with Nasim Ashraf, the former chairman, went to the Lahore High Court in 2008. Pakistan’s ICL players took the PCB to the Sindh High court as well. These will not be the end.

I would argue that India needs one as well. The current Sri Lankan Premier League dispute is a perfect case. The BCCI has barred Indian players from appearing in the SLPL, saying that the players may find themselves in a bad contract with a private organization with no recourse. This is the kind of dispute a players association should handle. Players must get advice from a body that represents the players. Not the sponsors, or the team owners, or politicians, or hidden agendas, but the players.

This is largely a conflict of interest issue. What is the mandate of the BCCI? The BCCI has multiple interests to look out for– players, broadcasters, “cricket”, sponsors, politicians, money, state associations. So what happens when two or more of these interests are in opposition?

So far, the BCCI has walked a tight-rope quite well. It’s especially difficult when you can simultaneously run the risk of angering Maharashtra supremo Sharad Pawar, and god-to-billions Sachin Tendulkar, and some of the richest men in the country in Ambani and Mallya. Keeping all these interests straight is difficult, if not impossible.

And sooner or later, I predict, there will be a breaking point. Already the injuries to Sehwag and Gambhir, aggravated through the IPL, have brought up significant conflict of interest issues. The ICL was another issue where players could have used collective bargaining and better advice.

India has a players association. Or at least had one. It was launched with much fanfare in 2002, Arun Lal was its secretary and Dravid was pushing for its recognition as late as 2008. Anyone know what became of the Indian Professional Cricketers Association?

The Post-Tendulkar Era

UPDATE: As CricSis blogger Shridhar Jaju pointed out in the comments, Jaidev Unadkat beat Abhinav Mukund to this distinction.

A new era has begun. Abhinav Mukund will open the batting today against West Indies.

Why is Abhinav Mukund special? He is the first Indian Test player to have been born after Sachin Tendulkar made his debut. There will be many more, but he is the first.

Abhinav Mukund

Abhinav Mukund, born January 6, 1990. 52 days after Sachin Tendulkar's debut

The Pattern of Indian ODI Chases in 2011

As I watched India (barely) successfully chase 225 with 3 wickets to spare against West Indies on Saturday, it seemed that a pattern had emerged. This match resembled many Indian chases in recent times, where it would appear the batting line-up failed, but it would still be a successful chase because they bat so deep.

So I went over their recent record in seven consecutive successful chases since the World Cup began:

  1. India v. Ireland (World Cup): Ireland scored 207 batting first. India’s chase seemed to falter, wickets fell regularly (100 for 4), but runs kept coming as India won with 4 overs and 5 wickets to spare. (scoreboard)
  2. India v. the Netherlands (World Cup): The Netherlands scored 189 batting first. India’s chase again seemed to falter, wickets fell regularly (139 for 5), but they won by 5 wickets with 13.3. overs to spare. (scoreboard)
  3. India v. Australia (World Cup): In the quarter-finals, Australia scored 260 batting first. India’s lost wickets regularly (167 for 5), but kept the scoring rate up and ultimately chased it down with 5 wickets and 3 overs to spare. (scoreboard)
  4. India v. Sri Lanka (World Cup): In the finals, Sri Lanka scored 274 batting first. India lost their openers cheaply, but kept the scoring rate up to win by 6 wickets with 10 balls to spare. (scoreboard)
  5. India v. West Indies, 1st ODI: West Indies score 214 batting first. India lose wickets regularly, but bat deep to chase it down with 4 wickets and 3 overs to spare. (scoreboard)
  6. India v. West Indies, 2nd ODI: This one doesn’t fit the mold. West Indies score 240, and in a rain-shortened match, Virat Kohli and Parthiv Patel make it look easy, winning with 7 wickets to spare. (scoreboard)
  7. India v. West Indies, 3rd ODI: Chasing 225, India lose wickets in a heap (92 for 6), but Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh and some late hitting by Praveen Kumar rescue them. India wins by 3 wickets with 3.4 overs to spare. (scoreboard)
A few obvious notes to make:
  • None of these chases would have been possible without great bowling upfront to restrict the opposition.
  • India bats very, very deep.
  • The key seems to be that even as wickets fell, the scoring rate didn’t drop in these games. The asking rate was never too imposing for the new batsmen.
  • This style of chasing seems inspired by T20. Many short quick innings, instead of a couple of long, deliberate ones.
  • I started the list after the South Africa series. India chased poorly against South Africa.

The Sports Illustrated Fizzle

On 6th May, 2011, the story broke: Sports Illustrated India had a big match-fixing cover story. More than a month later, turns out what they had was either circumstantial, hearsay or just plain bunk.

Here’s their silly central conceit, in awesome pictorial form:

Sports Illustrated Plays Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, Loses

Go on, and read the rest of the article. Actually, don’t. It is a terrible piece of journalism, as evidenced by the picture above. They either had no story, or had no one to back up the story they had. Either way, the story they ran with was this.

Bad people have been seen with other people who have been heard talking to these other people who may represent cricket players. Or not.

Also, what kind of magazine has no web site? For a brand like Sports Illustrated, with a story as “big” as the one they broke last month, to not have a web site is criminal. I could go on a rant like my epic Willow TV one, but I just don’t care about SI the way I care about Willow. So someone else will have to fight that battle.

I’ll just say that they need to hire a web developer. And real journalists.

The iPad, the World Cup and a Baby: A Story of Cricket-Life Balance

This World Cup was unlike any other. I told part of the story at the end of yesterday’s BoredWaani podcast on experiences watching cricket in the US, but wanted to elaborate below.

Reason #1: The iPad
Willow TV streamed the games to all kinds of Internet-connected devices. I could switch from my iPad, to my iPhone to the Roku-connected TV and the game was on.

Reason #2: The Baby
My wife and I had a baby 5 months before the World Cup began. So the 5am starts weren’t an issue; one of the three of us was bound to be up at that hour.

But if you’ve ever had a baby, you know that you can’t deposit yourself in front of a television for a 7-hour game. You can’t deposit yourself in front of a television for T20. You can’t for more than 5 minutes until the baby is much older. I hear some people have to wait until their kid goes off to college. We’ll see.

So here we were: a cricket-loving couple with a 5-month old that was a higher priority than the World Cup. Sachin Tendulkar may be God, but his smile doesn’t make grown men weep. Just the way it is. His backfoot punch past the bowler, on the other hand…

This is where the iPad came in: we watched more cricket on the iPad than on the television. At 5am, without getting out of bed, we’d reach over to the iPad on the nightstand and flip it on. One ear bud in my wife’s ear, one in mine, drift in and out of sleep, sometimes with the baby sleeping between us.

As the day would begin: the baby’s playing in her room, Tendulkar’s playing on the iPad in a corner. We’re changing the baby, Ponting’s lying on the changing pad next to her. The baby goes to sleep, ear buds to hear Ravi Shastri.

Ubiquitous cricket. There’s nothing like it.

Reason #3: India won

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