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ICC’s Best-Ever Test and ODI rankings have attracted more criticism than interest. After reading a few news articles about Sachin and Dravid not making it to the top 10 in Tests, I decided to look at the list and check who those “Best-Ever” players were. A glance at the list and I found it to be meaningless. Or else how would Saurav Ganguly and Ricky Ponting not be featured in top 20 and Saeed Anwar and Inzamam be ranked 38 and 43 respectively.

What I found to be even more stupid is the brief about the rankings which says that no player is allowed to appear on the list more than once. You can find the top 100 cricketers here in the ICC Best-Ever Test and ODI ratings. Sir Bradman and Sir Richards must be lucky enough as the ICC is still considering those legendary cricketers to be the No.1 in Test and ODI cricket respectively.

The list and the criteria are awful, appalling and terrible. My reader friends are free to add more to the list of adjectives.

ponting

Ricky Poning and his men were found wanting in a match that would be remembered for the spectacular batting display by the South Africans. It was rather amazing to watch Grame Smith relax while his team was racing towards a record chase at Perth without much difficulty. A fabulous win this was for the visitors who chased 414 runs quite comfortably leaving the hosts in dismay. Smith’s century provided the much needed start and his partnership with Hashim Amla proved vital. Then on the momentum was carried by DeVilliers who, along with debutant Duminy, guided his team to a record win against Aussie.

Beating the Aussies in their backyard isn’t that easy. But Smith’s team showed it isn’t that difficult too. The Aussie glory is slowly fading away as is their dominance in world cricket.

Personally, I’m loving the Aussie defeat not that I hate them but because the champion team has been outplayed.

Tendulkar

A blistering knock from Sehwag ensured the target of 387 was very much gettable while Tendulkar’s century coupled with Yuvraj’s brilliant comeback innings helped India record the fourth highest run chase in Test cricket. The chennai test between India and England turned out to be a fabulous contest in which the hosts showed a lot of resolve and won comprehensively.

India did not have a say when England dominated the first three days and chasing 387 wasn’t easy on a pitch that produced both turn and bounce. But for India, the batsmen have delivered when it mattered most. The fans witnessed a ‘special hundred’ from (and for) Tendulkar—this is his first fourth-innings century in a Test win for India. All through his innings, Tendulkar looked determined and equally brilliant while Yuvraj ably supported him with an amazing knock. All those critics of Tendulkar better watch out.

A fantastic win this is for Team India. With the momentum going its way, this Indian team is becoming capable of doing anything.

Image Credit: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images

Ponting - The confused Aussie captain

A bewildered Punter

What made this series remarkable is how often Australia played like India and India played like Australia.

Mihir Bose

Indian team has regained the Border-Gavaskar trophy thrashing the Aussies 2-0 in the four test series. The hosts beat the visitors in Mohali and Nagpur drawing the other two matches, to clinch the trophy which they lost to Aussies in 2004. As expected this series has gained a lot of significance right from the beginning. The way this Indian team conquered the Kangaroos in this series is laudable. Throughout the series, barring a few sessions, Australians have been overpowered by the Indians. The fact that Australia lost the series without winning a match would definitely hurt them.

Beating the Australians in their game—aggressive cricket, mind games and not to forget giving back (their sledging)—is something this Indian team has learnt over time and successfully implemented during the last two encounters with them. What has this resulted in—A team that dominated the world of cricket for a decade is left in a quandary over its future. The 2-0 defeat to India is something Ricky Ponting and his team will not able to digest. This series brings to fore interesting points—answers to issues that were left unaddressed for quite sometime, and a few questions that need answers.

The questions unanswered were—when will the Aussie dominance end? Which team has the ability to dethrone them? Indian team is probably the answer for both. Indians have outplayed the Kangaroos throughout the series, in style. Here is a team that has shown the world they can not only challenge but dominate the mighty Australians. Over the last decade, India stood a tough contender to Aussies and the current Indian team finds itself in a better position than them. The only thing that Australians can take pride in is the finding an off-spinner who has successfully troubled Indians on their home turf.

What needs answers is Indian team’s composition? India’s Spin bowling has for long been India’s strength but with Anil Kumble bidding adieu to cricket it will be difficult to fill that space. All these years, India’s hopes rested on the Fab four—Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman. Rahul Dravid, arguably one of test cricket’s all-time greats, finds himself out-of-form while Sourav Ganguly, the most successful Test captain for India, has finally called it quits. Tendulkar and Laxman have come up with good performances but how long they can shoulder the responsibilities is something the selectors have to think about.

Indian team is definitely strong but it is high time the selectors identified the possible replacements (for the Fab four). The team has an able leader in Dhoni—an aggressive cricketer with a fresh thinking and positive approach towards the game—and a right combination of youth and experience. Consistency in winning is what this team needs to dethrone the Australians and become the champions.

Image Courtesy: Cricketnext

Sachin takes a spectacular catch of Katich

Sachin takes a spectacular catch of Katich

It is all over at Mohali. Indians have defeated the Aussies by 320 runs, by far the team’s biggest win in Test cricket (leaving aside innings victories). The celebrations started on the fourth day of the second test with India poised to register a comprehensive win—Aussies were five down and the target was looming large. This morning, Zaheer scalped three quick wickets before Amit Mishra, the debutant leg-spinner, picked up the last two wickets to finish off the formalities. It was indeed spectacular to watch the hosts showing continued aggression throughout the test barring a couple of sessions. Dhoni has been outstanding as a captain and so was his batting in both the innings.

Team India gets a lot of positives from this Test. While the Big three—Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly—coming to form is something to cheer about, the best thing for India in this series comes from the bowling department. It was Amit Mishra who ripped off the Aussie batting line-up with a five-wicket haul in the first innings, and a collective effort from the Indian pace and spin duo finished off the second innings. Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma have complemented each other with their performances—while the former continues his run-up as the lead bowler, Ishant is shaping well as a reliable pace bowler. In a short span, Ishant has become a difficult bowler to face. Ishant is perfect with his pace and line thus not allowing the batsmen to settle down. Even Ricky Ponting finds it difficult to bat against this young speedster. Overall, Indians have come up with an emphatic win to lead the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 1-0. This win should boost the hosts’ strength and confidence to sweep the series in a superb fashion. Congratulations Team India.

The Champion Batsman

The Champion Batsman

Sachin Tendulkar has created yet an other record by surpassing Brian Lara to become the highest run getter in Tests. Sachin has to his credit 81 centuries and over 28,000 runs from 151 Tests and 416 ODIs. Sachin has earned respect and accolades from the entire cricketing fraternity. It has been a long journey for this wonderful sportsman. A great fan of Sachin, I admire his cricketing skills and his highly composed behaviour. Ironically, after dedicating himself to the Indian cricket for around 19 years, Sachin is often questioned about his ability to perform and win matches. Sachin has answered those questions and criticisms with his bat. He did the same at Nagpur after setting the record for highest runs in Test cricket. After batting through the first day patiently, Sachin was on attacking mode and came up with a well-made 88. This is what he had to say to critics after the innings.

I converted stones thrown at me to milestones

It is time for all those critics of Sachin to watch their words. Sachin might be in the last stage of his cricketing career but he’s not lost his class. Time and again, he had done enough on the ground to prove his mettle. Watching Sachin play is always a joy—his shots classic and timing impeccable. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar is a legendary batsman and a true ‘Champion’ of Cricket.

Image Courtesy: The Telegraph

India winning at Perth is great news for the team and fans. Kudos to the Indian team for turning victorious at Perth with a stupendous all-round performance. What is most satisfying for me is that while the Australian pace bowlers struggled to show their mark against a solid Indian batting lineup, their Indian counterparts showed a great resolve in conquering the hosts. Aggression is what was missing one expected from the Australians. Here, I’d like to put my views about a couple of questions I’ve in mind. What does one understand from this match and/or How different was this win for the Indians than previous Test wins? And what should the Indian team take forward from this match?

First of all, it is a fantastic win, emerging strong from being down 0-2 in the series and after the Sydney Test (which will be remembered and talked about for all the wrong reasons) and crashing the Australians on a pitch that was considered to favour their bowlers. Not only fans, but several cricketers opine this is the best test win for India in the last three decades. It was tremendous achievement in the sense that we witnessed an all-round team effort. Anil Kumble has led the team in a truly professional way. The win was different in the sense that Indian team has mostly known for its formidable batting lineup and spin bowlers than the pace bowlers but it is the fast bowlers who turned the match in India’s favour. The young pace trio of Pathan, RP Singh and Ishant Sharma have displayed exceptional bowling and a great resolve to get rid of the opponents twice.

It was different because India won the match within four days on a bouncy pitch against Australia in that country while Australia, has been known to register their win within four days of a Test match. It was also different because Indians have been aggressive while the Australians were not up to their normal behaviour on the field. Bret Lee was highly defensive against Sehwag while Ponting struggled against Ishant and succumbed to pressure example of this. Now what should the team take from Perth, to Adelaide – The passion and commitment to downplay the Aussies and level the series. In the recent past, the Indian team has won several matches away from home but something was missing in those – Consistency. This is what has to be maintained if we are to look at becoming the world champions. We’ve won matches against Australia (2003), England, South Africa but failed to capitalise on those wins and carry the spirit through those series thus losing matches again and again. The Indians have to take a cue from the way Australians have played in the last 8-9 years. They have been the No.1 team not only in the one-day cricket (hatrick of world cups – a huge achievement) but also in the longer version of the game. Indians have proved that the Australians are not invincible but what they should not ignore is the fact that the Australians will comeback strongly (losing a Test after more than four years on the home soil is something which they cannot digest) and that is why they have been the champions of the game for such a long time. This win certainly shows the way forward for the Indian team – Downplay the Australians at Adelaide and level the series.

Common India – Jeet ke Dikhado.