INDIA vs SOUTH AFRICA – TWO TEST SERIES, an EPILOGUE

By Sunil Sarpal

Match Winners: Bumrah, Siraj and Shami

It was a very short series to judge who the real winner is. Generally when Team India visits Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England, they take some time to acclimatize and take a stock of the pitch behaviour, weather conditions etc. etc. And in the process the first encounter is won by the host country, taking early advantage in the series.

Generally, in India for fast bowlers the rise of the ball is knee high, whereas, in Australia it is waist high. It therefore becomes a different ball game in India viz-a-viz Australia. In England and New Zealand, the swing imparted by fast bowlers is alarming in proportion. Life for a batsman becomes very difficult in such conditions. That is the reason, life for Indian batters becomes very difficult early on.

Every other batter is not Sachin Tendulkar who used to get adjusted with any condition quickly, be it swing, pace, spin, height imparted by the bowlers.

In South Africa, India had to face the ignominous defeat in the first test in trying conditions. Only KL Rahul could post a century from Indian side.

In the second test, India got the early advantage when SA captain after winning the toss elected to bat first. In a situation when Indian batters were low in confidence after facing first test defeat, they were somewhat relieved off SA fast bowling attack.

Indian pace attack, in particular, Mohd. Siraj bowled magnificently and took 6 SA wickets and India resultantly cleaned up SA with a paltry score of 55 runs on the board. The die had been cast by Mohd. Siraj in the second test and the pendulum shifted in favour of India. India took a lead of 100 odd runs in the first innings.

Bumrah did a Siraj in the second innings when he too scalped six SA wickets and India tasted SA defeat on their own soil.

Three Indian pacers from time to time have created havoc in the opposition camp, namely Bumrah, Siraj and Shami.

India is fortunate to have the services of veterans; Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in it’s ranks. The other batters viz Gill, Iyer and Rahul take full advantage of their benign presence.

In a team where there is no room for the recuperating Rishab Pant, his replacement, KL Rahul, is doing a yoeman’s job for the team with both bat and gloves behind the stumps.

Team India at the moment is hard to challenge and put aside or be dislodged in most conditions.




INDIAN CRICKET LEGACY – KAPIL DEV HANDING OVER BATON TO HARDIK PANDYA

By Sunil Sarpal

Hardik Pandya Kapil Dev

When cricket is discussed on any forum, it is impossible to overlook the name of Kapil Dev, such is his indelible aura and standing in Indian cricket. He was the original captain cool to have lifted one-dayer trophy in 1983 at Lords, England. On way to winning the trophy, a number of players contributed significantly but Kapil’s 175 against Zimbabwe was the stand out performance.

Kapil Dev in his hey days was supremely fit and athletically built all-rounder. He was known for his banana out-swing for right hand batsman. It foxed the batsman by the curve it generated. Kapil could also generate height from the wicket to unsettle the batsman. He was India’s wrecker-in-chief and the lone hope in fast bowling. Apart from bowling, he was a reliable batsman too. He was in the mold of a genuine all-rounder for India. Being supremely fit, he never missed a match due to injury in his entire career. In his illustrious career, he played some of the memorable innings with bat to bail out India from the difficult and ignominous situations.

On the other hand, Hardik Pandya is a present day all-rounder in the making. Will he fit into the bill of Kapil Dev is a million dollar question ? India’s hopes do not rest on Pandya’s shoulders, as was the case with Kapil.

Pandya is an attacking batsman with the ability to hit sixes at will. Pandya is a modern-day batsman, unlike Kapil whose aggression was restraint in nature. Pandya’s medium pace bowling is not as lethal as was the case with Kapil. India could rely upon Kapil as a front line bowler whereas Pandya always comes in the slot as fifth bowler in one-dayers variety. In case of Pandya, he carries the reputation of being tagged as injury prone. First, he had back injury which kept him away from active cricket and now he twisted his ankle in ICC trophy.

If an assessment is made between Kapil and Pandya in terms of physicality, Kapil was streets ahead in comparison with Pandya. At times, some kind of fatigue was visible on his face when bowling long spells or in humid conditions.

Both Kapil and Pandya played the game of cricket in different eras. Pandya is the all-rounder in the making in modern cricket. His slam bang batting is more suited to T-20 format.

Pandya should not show much athletic skills on the field which results in his succumbing to injury frequently.. He needs to preserve his energy so that whenever is called upon to bowl, he is able to deliver the goods.

In batting too, Pandya relies heavily on airy-fairy shots. He need not indulge in high-risk shots. He needs to curb his instincts to hit every ball over the ropes. Pandya should evolve his batting in such a manner so that more often he plays cricketing ground shots and lift the ball when it falls in his zone. Pandya’s intent is to slog and not to bat in restrained manner.

Pandya is still to establish himself as a reliable and genuine all-rounder. A long way forward but he should guard against his fragile frame much more seriously.

In a recent development, Hardik Pandya has been bestowed with the responsibility to lead Mumbai Indians IPL franchise.  He will replace Rohit Sharma under whose leadership the Mumbai Indians have won the IPL five times.  Rohit’s form with the bat has gone down a few notches, hence, this change in leadership.  Hardik led  the newly formed Gujarat Titans in the last IPL and won a  trophy for them.  Hardik’s rise in stature will open new avenues for him to become India captain in the future.  




Gavaskar’s picks of all time great cricketers

By Sunil Sarpal

Sunil Manohar Gavaskar the last word in cricket

India is a cricket crazy country and cricket is considered a religion here. The cricket stars are idolized and worshipped in India. Stadia chant the names of Sachin, Mahi and Virat whenever they appear on the ground. People just go crazy to witness the exploits of their stars. The followers derive some kind of energy to live their lives watching their idols.

Recently, in an interview, Sunil Gavaskar was asked to name three players who impressed him the most in life. Gavaskar named the following players :-

Sir Garfield Sobers

1) According to Gavaskar, first comes Sir Garfield Sobers. A SouthPaw, he could bowl spin and pace in equal measure. He could don the gloves behind the stumps too. Sobers was exceptionally athletic hence a smart fielder. He was a treat to watch with the bat.

2) Gavaskar rated GR Vishwanath as second in ranking. Vishu during his playing days scored centuries on difficult wickets. Gavaskar rates Vishu a much better batsman than him.

Kapil Dev and GR Vishwanath

3) Third in the ranking is Kapil Dev. Gavaskar opines that Kapil was a genuine swing bowler and could win matches of his own single handedly. He was a talented batsman too in attacking mode. He could win matches as a batsman too. Kapil was an extraordinary athlete and his fielding was of a very high class. In his illustrious career, he never missed a match due to injury. He was the India captain in 1983 when India lifted the One- day-cup.

Sunil Manohar Gavaskar has been a street smart cricketer, commentator and expert. His views are unbiased and should not be taken in a lighter vein. His cricketing assessment and class is unparalleled. He is an astute student of the game of cricket and a cricketing school unto himself.

This interview suggests that these three past cricketers need be given more responsibility either to run the cricket academies or impart their valuable knowledge to budding cricketers thru lectures etc.

One can take a cue from the Dennis Lillee run MRF Pace Academy. This academy trains fast bowlers under the watchful eye of Aussie legend Dennis Lillee. MRF has produced a record number of International bowlers.

Recently, Afghanistan has performed exceptionally well in the just concluded ICC Trophy. Afghanistan has been able to do so because India’s ex cricketer Ajay Jadeja is their coach.

The above three players were Gavaskar’s picks. What are yours? Post your picks in the comment box below.




Hapless India lost to the Aussie assault in the World Cup ’23 Finale

By Sunil Sarpal

Indian PM Narendra Modi and Australian Deputy PM, Richard Marles Congratulate Australian Captain Pat Cummins

It is not digestible that India lost to Aussies in the CWC ’23 finals while winning all 10 matches played  on the trot.  Even in the build up to the final, India  beat Aussie comprehensively.  But India’s performance in the final is not worth taking note of.  Number of blemishes on the part of India are the cause of concern.

A paltry score of 240 runs was not a difficult target for opposition and that too Aussies.  

The Ahmedabad pitch where the ball was not coming on to bat at rapid pace was not an easy pitch to bat on.   The pitch too assisted spinners, as well.  The life was not a cake walk for batters.  In a situation like this, application was the key which Aussie’s Travis Head did to perfection.  It was not easy for Head in the middle but he stood his ground after being beaten invariably.  He posted a resolute century for Aussie cause.  Head turned out to be the difference between India’s victory or defeat.  

Travis Head – Match Winner

Team India definitely is a top class team but in key matches they are in total disarray.  

Shubham Gill’s shot was not on, playing an airy fairy shot at a crucial juncture was the first turning point of the match.  That turned the tide in Australia’s favour.  Gill is the most important cog in indian line up.  Aussies took full advantage with early in-roads and put a break on the run-rate.  

Iyer too was undone by Cummins’s special and India’s ship was dismantled by these two important scalps.  

Rohit, Kohli and Rahul were in good nick but could not extend their innings to centuries.  

Surya looked the most vulnerable of the lot because his game is stylized in T-20 mode.  But this happens to be a situation when wickets were tumbling in regular intervals and Surya’s stay in the middle became absolutely inevitable.  He was always found in two-minds whether to go for his shots or play a restrained knock.  Surya never looks at ease when in defensive mode.  

Three players were primarily responsible for India’s dismal game – GILL, IYER AND SURYA.  

Heads Roll as AUSSIES Celebrate

Among Indian pacers, in particular, Bumrah was unlucky not to have gotten the edges of the bat.  He was swinging the ball enormously but of not much avail.  

Another disappointing factor  was KL Rahul ‘s show behind the stumps.  

There is a saying that the captain should not tinker with the winning ways.  Rohit did this mistake by opting to open the attack with Bumrah and Shami and not with  Bumrah and Siraj.  Shami comes in as a first change.  Pundits will not comment on this change because Shami is the  highest wicket taker in the tournament.  

To conclude, Aussies is a team well equipped to play key matches in style which they did to perfection and lifted the ICC Trophy.




Indian Juggernaut beats New Zealand, thunders into ICC World Cup’23 finale against Australia

By Sunil Sarpal

How can you describe VIRAT KOHLI?  He considers Sachin Tendulkar as his hero although he has surpassed Sachin’s record of 49 ODI tons.  Virat Kohli stands tall with 50 ODI tons and is supremely fit at the age of 35 yrs.  Virat’s approach to batting is monumental.  He plays his game studded with sublime shots along the ground.  He takes full measure of the proceedings which include pitch behaviour, movement or spin imparted by bowlers before launching for his shots.  He brings in some kind of stability to the proceedings so that from the other end  batters can bloom and maintain a healthy run rate.  In other words,  Virat is the backbone of Indian Cricket whose presence in the middle gives lot of confidence to other batters to express themselves.  

Virat Kohli – Sky is not the limit for his sixers

In the on-going ICC tournament,  India has knocked down all the teams so as to pave a berth in the finals.  

In the semis,  India was pitted against New Zealand considered to be one of the favourates to lift the trophy.  

After winning the all-crucial toss,  Rohit chose to bat first on a wicket where there was not much on offer for the bowlers.  

Rohit, as an opener, launched a blistering attack on Kiwi bowlers and set the tone of the match with his trademark shots.  Rohit’s ability to see the ball early enables him to pull and hook the ball disdainly.  Right from the word go, he puts the opposition on backfoot, such is his class to command the proceedings.  His brutal attack up-front leaves the bowlers a demoralized unit.  

All Indian batters are in prime form, be it Gill, Iyer, Rahul or Jadeja.  

The highlights of the match was contributions from two centurians –  KOHLI and IYER,  80 by Gill and 47 by Rohit.  

Iyer’s 6-hitting ability enabled India to put up a mammoth total of 397 runs on  board.  A target such as this is in itself a daunting task for Kiwi batters.  

in this tournament, India’s basket of pace bowlers is over flowing.  In Bumrah, Shami and Siraj,  India cannot expect a better pace attack.  Shami, in particular, makes in-roads when there is a sign of partnership build up.  In this tournament, Shami has bagged 5 and above wicket haul three times.  5 wickets are considered equivalent to a century. In the semifinal he took an astounding 7 wicket haul.

Mohammad Shami who mesmerizes the batsmen with his bowling

From Kiwi’s side, Mitchel and Williamson put up some kind of resistance to the proceedings and steadied the drowning Kiwi ship.  (Mitchel 139 and Williamson 69).  But this was not enough and Kiwis lost the match by a margin of 70 runs.  

India has entered the finals and shall face Aussies for they beat Protos by three wickets in the second semis to get a berth in the finals.  The ICC Trophy is just a match away from the hot favourates – INDIA.  




Farewell Bishan Singh Bedi, your left-arm spin had left the batters mesmerised

By Sunil Sarpal

At one point in time, India’s cup for fast bowling was empty. At that time, the lone fast bowler representing India was Kapil Dev. During that time India introduced a 3-pronged spin quartet of Bedi, Prasanna and Chandrasekhar.

India also produced spin-friendly pitches so that they can thrive on the advantage against opposition.

During the same period, simultaneously Clive Lloyd of West Indies introduced a 4-pronged pace attack to ridicule the world. Those bowlers were all charged and raring-to-go in order to break the opposition into pieces. They were Malcolm Marshal, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts and Machiel Holding, with the bench strength of Colin Croft.

With the kind of attack India had at its disposal, they could not pose much of problems to opposition, especially West Indies.

But Bishan Singh Bedi’s left-arm spin left the batters mesmerised with subtle variations. He was one cog in the Indian armoury who never diminished.

Bedi is no more. At the age of 77 yrs, recently he passed away. Bedi was an out-spoken character. He single-handedly fought for the cause of players. He also imparted his art of spin bowling to budding cricketers. In fact Bedi was considered leader among three spinners.

After his playing days, Bedi also held the position of Manager for Team India. But his stint as Manager did not prove result oriented.

Now India’s cup of bowling is brimming with quality batsmen, spinners and seamers alike. India no more relies on spin-friendly pitches. Even quality players do not find a place in the side and have to cool their heels on the bench.

On the contrary, West Indies is no longer a team to reckon with. They even could not qualify to play for the ICC World Cup. West indies athletes are not much interested in playing cricket and switched alliance towards basketball which is a comparatively much more lucrative sport.

It is heartening to note that India’s graph in cricket is on the up-swing whereas West Indies is left far behind in the race.




In a nail biting finish, India beats New Zealand at ICC Worldcup ’23

By Sunil Sarpal

It was a much awaited encounter because New Zealand is hailed as a well knit solid one day side. For this encounter, both India and New Zealand came with all wins under their belt.

Let me put it in explicit manner, Pandya is injury prone even though his skills as a batsman and bowler are admirable . He is no-where near Kapil Dev who played through out his career without any injury. Pandya had a long lay- off because of his back problem and now twisted his ankle. Pandya’s body does not permit him to go over board which he often does and gets injured.

Watching Kohli bat, it looks as if he has descended from a different planet to enthrall cricket lovers. He is rock solid and mostly plays his shots along the ground to minimise the risk factor. He is always calm and composed and never unruffled by the seam movement and spin. The one time he erred as he lofted the ball to score his century and bring India victory, he got out at 95. It was left to Jadeja, the versatile player, to hit the winning boundary for India.

Both Bumrah and Siraj bowled a disciplined line and length with the new ball and never went berserk.

It was a nerve-wracking contest. From both sides, bowling, whether spin or pace, was spot on. However, it was a docile wicket and did not give any assistance to bowlers.

From New Zealand side, Ravinderan and Mitchel batted in tandem and New Zealand posted a score of 273 runs on the board.

A neck and neck battle

In the second essay, Rohit Sharma hit 48 runs in his usual manner. India’s ship was steadied by Kohli with 95 runs and Jadeja with 45 runs. Shami in particular bowled with a 5-wicket haul.

It was a see-saw battle and the match could drift towards any side but for unflappable Kohli, India won the match after a scare from New Zealand.




INDIA PRESENTS A FORMIDABLE COMBO AT ICC WORLD CUP 2023

By Sunil Sarpal

India takes on Bangladesh today. The on-going ICC World Cup, so far, has one and only hot favourate team i.e. INDIA.  Others look pale and out of sorts when facing INDIA.  At the moment, India is table toppers with 6 points from three wins.  The teams which  India beat were not minnos of the tournament but mighty stake holders for the trophy.  It was Australia first  then Afghanistan and recently Pakistan.  

India is basking under the glory of their batters’ performance.  All the batters on view seem to leave their impression that they deserve their spots and are indispensable for the side,  be it Rohit, Kohli, Rahul, Gill or Iyer.  They look so confidant that the bowling looks mediocre, leaving the bowlers hapless and vulnerable.    

Against Pakistan, Rohit single-handedly tore apart the attack, raining fours and sixes at will.  He meted out the same treatment to Afghanistan too.  His pull shot of fast bowlers is his swan song.  

Kohli plays his game in his inimical fashion.  His is the prized wicket that opposition looks forward to.  

KL Rahul too making his presence felt with his all-round authoritative stroke play.  

The batting line up is world class and in-form and presents a valid case to lift the trophy.  

In Bumrah and Siraj, India has the luxury of  the most lethal new ball attack, followed by equally versatile Pandya.  

In spin deptt.  both Kuldeep and Jadeja create in-roads during the middle overs.  

India surely is fortunate to have two of the best all rounders in the world –  Jadeja and Pandya.  

Astonishingly, India has the bench strength of Shami, Ashwin and Surya Kr Yadav.  But due to competition, they are not able to showcase  their skills which are world class.  

Since India ticks all the boxes, there is no room for opposition to sneak in.  Opposition is often found scratching their head in disbelief.  




ASIA CUP FINAL – India vs Sri Lanka – Believe it or go Nuts!!

By Sunil Sarpal

It was a bizarre match –  the Asia Cup Final held at Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 17th September, 2023.  The super-duper star of the match was none other than our own pacer Mohd.  Siraj.  He single-handedly demolished Sri Lanka with a haul of 6 wickets.  He set the tone of the match, scalping 4 Sri Lankan wickets in a single over.  His incisive spell brought about the downfall of Sri Lankan innings and wickets started tumbling like nine pins.  There was some juice on offer in the wicket and the need of the hour for the Sri Lankan batsmen to apply themselves, which they did not.  

The first salvo was engineered by Ravinder Jadeja when he, driving to his right, produced a stunning  diving  catch inches from the ground, at point.  

Mohd. Siraj was so charged up that he scalped four wickets in a single over, leaving Sri Lanka   completely shattered.  From the other end,  Bumrah too bowled beautifully and created pressure on batters in equal measure.  

Sri Lanka could post only 50 runs on the board and folded their innings.  

In the post match analysis, Indian veteran, Gautam Gambhir rightly pointed out that when the ball starts swinging viciously, it is imperative on the part of batsman to give due respect to bowlers and play defensively.  But the batsmen were not found to be disciplined and went for their shots.  

The contest between bat and ball never took off and it turned out to be a one sided affair, which, unbelievably, India won by 10 wickets.  From Indian side, both Gill and Ishan Kishan were equal to the task and won the match for India. In a lighter vein, this match qualifies to be in Ripley’s Believe it or Not

Mohd. Siraj was rightly declared Man of the Match because of his unimaginable heroics.

  




WHEN KAPIL’s DEVILS DETHRONED THE MIGHTY WEST INDIES

By Sunil Sarpal

It was 1983, the no-hopers or you may say the ‘under-dogs’ gave the all-crucial blow to West Indies cricket by beating them in one-dayers at Lords, England.

Before embarking upon the tournament at England, Indian Team did not expect any positive results from the World Cup. Their confidence level went a few notches up as the matches start unfolding. Early wins gave them the necessary confidence that they could also reach the play-offs. The confidence was given necessary boost by the captain Kapil Dev in a match against Zimbabwe when India was tottering with five top batsman having returned to the pavilion empty handed.

From then onwards, the pendlum shifted India’s way when Kapil Dev arrived on the crease. He scored 175 runs, which was considered to be the best ever innings played in a one dayer. It was a difficult wicket to bat on, but Kapil being a genuine all-rounder in the world shone with the bat and changed the course of the match. His was the inning which brighten up India’s stake to lift the trophy. Sunil Gavaskar admitted that in his life time he had not seen such an outstanding inning in one dayers, such was the master class of Kapil Dev as an explosive batsman. 4s and 6s rained from his blade in a magical show of batsmanship.
Unfortunately, the match could not be telecast on air due to technical hitches.

This inning was the turn-around of India’s fortune in the world cup. People still remember this inning with a sigh of relief. With this inning, Kapil Dev became an overnight hero in the tournament. Kapil leading from the front and his exploits percolated on his team mates and gave them unbelievable self-belief.

Interestingly, Indian Team had in their ranks the luxury of multi-skilled players.

MOHINDER AMARNATH : A top order batsman and a military medium swing bowler.
KAPIL DEV : A genuine all-rounder
BALVINDER SINGH SANDHU : A genuine swing bowler who could bat a bit also.
ROGER BINNY : A medium pacer who could chip in with some runs too.
MADAN LAL : A fine medium pacer who could bat as well.

In fact, India succeeded in reaching the final on the basis of these all round performers because English conditions suited their bowling the most.

The final between the mighty West Indies and the underdogs India was scheduled to be played in the Mecca of Cricket ie. Lords at England. But West Indies became over-confidant to lift upon being seeing that they are pitted up against the minnows India.

Batting first, India put up a paltry score of 180 odd runs on the board with Kris Srikant top scoring with 38 runs.

The first turning point of the match happened when Balvinder Singh Sandhu’s delivery pitching outside off stump swung in viciously, leaving Gordan Greenidge bowled and bamboozled. With this wicket in pocket, Indian Team looked pumped up. The drama started to unfold when a rampaging Viv Richards hit a skyer of a Madan Lal delivery and Kapil Dev took a catch of the match running backwards. This was perhaps the second turning point of the match. These two dismissals turned the tide in India’s favour.

Mohinder Amarnath’s military medium did most of the damage and wisely declared Man of the Match.

The no-hopers turned heros and World Champs under the captain cool Kapil Dev. Kapil Dev’s contribution was of immense value to the Team India. It was a herculean task for no-hopers but luck played a vital role for Team India. 1983 Indian Cricket Team members are written in golden letters in the history books.