Each Indian batsman is a match-winner!

Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara are bubbling with confidence and self-belief.

Pujara's technique and composure will be tested by Steyn and co. in South Africa. (IANS)

Pujara’s technique and composure will be tested by Steyn and co. in South Africa. (IANS)

The young and dynamic Indian team is embarking shortly on a tour to South Africa.

This is an exciting prospect, as it will be a good indicator about the true potential of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side.

Unfortunately, the tour includes just two Test matches. A true test would have been a series of at least four Tests as it would have brought out the ability, consistency, sustainability, fitness and strategies of both sides.

The mentality for the longest version of the game is entirely different and therefore, most recent Test matches have been finishing well before the last day.

The other disadvantage is that the team does not get the opportunity to change the playing eleven as in a two-match series it would be unfair to drop any player on account of a single failure. This at times can be very frustrating for the reserve players as their only contribution starts and ends with carrying liquid supplements.

India has selected a very in-form batting side. Each one of them looks a match-winner.

Virat Kohli, Shikhar DhawanRohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara are bubbling with confidence and self-belief. They have all established themselves creditably in their home conditions and for any sportsman the challenge of replicating it in unfamiliar ones is the true test.

They are bold and brash and one hopes they remain positive even when balls are whizzing past their faces or deviating appreciably off the wicket.

Due to the Indian Premier League, players are now quite familiar with each other and so one will see a bit of banter, stares and sledging which I feel does add to the drama and excitement.

India have strengthened their bowling by selecting Zaheer Khan, who I feel will bring experience and the left-arm variety to the pace attack. Both he and Yuvraj Singh have shown the importance of fitness in today’s game and the quicker Umesh Yadav or an Ishant Sharma imbibe it the better it will be for the future of Indian cricket.

Pakistan has shown that spin is an essential weapon to trouble the South Africans and therefore R. Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha will need to play a vital part in curbing their strong batting line-up.

The crucial aspect will be how the Indian batsmen handle the fast short-pitched bowling, as watching some of them playing the hook and pull shot off the front foot does not give me immense confidence.

Great players change their technique to overcome such situations and one hopes that the present Indian batting line-up is ready to do so.

The South African side must be itching to play a Test series at home. They seem very keen to establish their superiority and number one status and have now a mix of experience and youth in both their batting and bowling. It will be interesting to see whether they will prepare green tops for their bowlers. Their sole Test-class spinner Imran Tahir could also benefit from the extra nip as he is not a bowler who rips and turns it appreciably across a batsman.

Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly have both stressed on the importance of India winning away from home as a true indicator to progress.


Debutants to the fore, records galore

India registered five Test wins in a row for the first time.

India registered five Test wins in a row for the first time.

India posted a clinical win against West Indies in the first Test at Eden Gardens, Kolkata to take a 1-0 lead in the two match series. During the process, the Indian team as well as a few players also achieved several records. Here are a few of them: 

# This win was India’s fifth Test victory in a row, which is their best ever streak. This is also the first time they achieved it – the four Tests that they won in a row against Australia earlier this year and the four times they won in 1993 and in 2009-10 were their previous best. 

# This was India’s third win by an innings at Eden Gardens – the most such wins at an Indian venue. They have won thrice by an innings at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, M Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai and The Green Park, Nagpur. 

# Rohit Sharma and R Ashwin were involved in a 280-run stand for the seventh wicket. This is the best seventh wicket stand as the Rohit-Ashwin pair surpassed the 259-run partnership between VVS Laxman and MS Dhoni against South Africa in 2010. 

# The Rohit-Ashwin partnership is overall the third best seventh-wicket stand in Test cricket, after the 347-run stand between Denis Atkinson and Clairmonte Depeiaza for West Indies against Australia in 1955 and the 308-run partnership between Imtiaz Ahmed and Waqar Hasan for Pakistan against New Zealand in 1955. 

# This is the third best partnership for India at Eden Gardens, after Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman’s 376-run stand against Australia in 2001 and the 344-run partnership between Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar against West Indies in 1978. This is also the best 7th wicket stand at Eden Gardens. 

# Rohit Sharma scored a superb 177 on Test debut, which is the second best by an Indian. Shikhar Dhawan’s 187 earlier this year against Australia is the best. 

# R Ashwin, who scored a fine 124, registered his second Test century against West Indies. In doing so, Ashwin joined Mark Boucher as the player with most hundreds against West Indies while batting at Number 8. 

# R Ashwin is now jointly on top with Kapil Dev, MS Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh on the list of Indians with most centuries while batting at Number 8. 

# Mohammed Shami had a superb debut Test as he picked up 9 wickets in the match, including a five-wicket haul in the second innings. His match figures of 9/118 is the second best by an Indian on debut. Narendra Hirwani’s 16/136 against West Indies in 1988 is the best. 

# Shami also registered the best figures by a Indian pace bowler on debut. He went past Munaf Patel and Abid Ali, who had picked up 7/97 against England in 2006 and 7/116 against Australia in 1967 respectively. 

# Shami, who picked up 5/47 in the second innings, registered the second best bowling figures in an innings by an Indian pace bowler on debut. Abid Ali’s 6/55 against Australia in 1967 is the best. 

Five sixes in an over, MS Dhoni hits fastest CLT20 fifty

Five sixes in an over, Dhoni hits fastest CLT20 fifty

Ranchi: Chennai Super Kings’ captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni added another feather to his hat on Thursday as he raced to the fastest fifty in the history of Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) in just 16 balls. The Indian skipper achieved the milestone against Sunrisers Hyderabad, largely at the expense of Thisara Perera, before his home crowd in Ranchi to give his side enough runs to script a 12-run win.

Dhoni’s belligerent fifty beat the previous CLT20 record of 18-ball fifty scored by Mumbai Indians’ Kieron Pollard. The West Indian set the record in the 2009 edition while playing for Trinidad and Tobago against the New South Wales.

Ranchi witnessed a typical Dhoni, who also slammed 34 runs off Perera’s over, the highest number of runs scored in an over in the tournament.

Dhoni beat Kieron Pollard’s record by scoring fifty in 16 balls, hitting Hyderabad’s Thisara Perera for 34 runs in an over.

Dhoni finished on 63 off 19 balls, punctuated with one four and eight big sixes, which helped Chennai post 202 against the Hyderabad. Hyderabad made a match of it but could only reach 190 in the end to concede a narrow defeat. CSK middle-order batsman Suresh Raina also starred with the bat, scoring 84 off 57 balls.

Here are a couple of other records Dhoni created with his whirlwind knock on Thursday:

– Dhoni’s strike rate of 331.57 is the highest in the history of the CLT20, taking into account innings of minimum 25 runs.

– Dhoni is the first batsman from Chennai Super Kings to hit eight sixes in an innings in the CLT20.

Source: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/cricketnext/five-sixes-in-an-over-ms-dhoni-hits-fastest-clt20-fifty/424827-78.html


Kohli’s captaincy in focus against favourite opposition

MS Dhoni appeals for an lbw, India v Sri Lanka, Champions Trophy, 2nd semi-final, Cardiff, June 20, 2013

MS Dhoni appeals for an lbw, India v Sri Lanka, Champions Trophy, 2nd semi-final, Cardiff, June 20, 2013

Match facts

Tuesday, July 2
Start time 09:30 (1430 GMT)

Big Picture

Triangular tournaments can be hard on the ego of the team that leaves the competition first. Unlike a bigger multi-team tournament, there is no consolatory semi-final finish, or a bronze medal. There is only a lonely last place. This series has just started, but with West Indies nine points clear of both India and Sri Lanka, that last-place tag, for now, has gravitated towards the two subcontinent sides. The familiar foes, who have played each other in five different countries in the last couple of years, both need a win in the last match of the series at Sabina Park to ensure some breathing space before the entourage moves to Port of Spain.

That these two teams know each other inside out is common knowledge. While the familiarity has worked in India’s favour as their batsmen have decoded the unconventionality of Sri Lanka’s attack, the same can’t be said about the latter. They have repeatedly wilted against India’s simple game plan – ‘whatever you score, we’ll do better’. The result is that when the two meet, it is almost like India’s XI is up against Sri Lanka’s IX, with the threat posed by Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis to other teams reduced to a dud against India batsmen.

In cricket, however, most of the times, it is not a test of man-to-man strength. A special innings, an outstanding spell or even an exceptional instance of fielding is all that is required to overcome an opposition. On Friday, it was Chris Gayle who did that; on Sunday, it was Johnson Charles who blazed away. Sri Lanka have players who can do that as well – Kumar Sangakkara showed it against England in a tall chase at The Oval during the Champions Trophy – but the question is, can they do it against India?

India’s juggernaut was brought to a halt on Sunday by West Indies, but only just. West Indies’ bowlers set a template on how to stifle India’s stroke-makers on a slow pitch, and their batsmen then rolled along comfortably as the surface eased out. In the absence of MS Dhoni, who didn’t take the field after injuring his hamstring while batting, India fought hard, but were tripped by a resolute last-wicket stand. Virat Kohli, the stand-in captain, admitted the team missed Dhoni’s calmness during that frantic ending.

Sri Lanka haven’t been in their best form, but as West Indies proved, this young Indian side is beatable. With Dhoni ruled out of the rest of this series, the balance between the two sides has slightly been redressed.

Form guide

India LWWWW (Most recent first, last five completed matches)
Sri Lanka LLWWL

In the spotlight

Virat Kohli‘s reputation in world cricket received a huge boost the day he hammered the Sri Lanka bowling for a breathtaking century in Hobart in February 2012 . He scored two more against Sri Lanka in his next two matches, then another one three matches later. Since then, he has gone through a lean phase against other attacks. But when India met Sri Lanka in the Champions Trophy semi-final, Kohli helped himself to an unbeaten 58, dispelling any doubts about which team is his favourite opposition. In Kingston, Kohli will be burdened with captaincy, too, and it remains to be seen if he can flourish this time.

There is no doubt that Lasith Malinga has been one of the leading limited-overs bowlers in world cricket in recent times but what has been hard to fathom is why a top bowler has been unable to come up with a counter-strategy against Indian batsmen. He has ample skill, pace and variations in his armoury, but still he has failed to find the right combination that would work against the India batsmen. Players evolve during their careers but can Malinga do it?

Team news

While Ambati Rayudu was named as the replacement for Dhoni, the only reserve India batsman at the moment in the Caribbean is M Vijay, the opener. If he is included, the batting order will need a careful rejig. It is hard to see the team disturbing Rohit Sharma or Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order.

India (probable) 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 M Vijay, 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Suresh Raina, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Umesh Yadav

Sri Lanka’s move to open with Mahela Jayawardene and Upul Tharanga paid dividends, but the rest of their batting slowed the innings down on Friday. But they do not have much room to wiggle in their batting order. However, one move they might consider given the slow nature of the Kingston pitch could be to include Sachithra Senanayake.

Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Mahela Jayawardene, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Angelo Mathews (capt), 6 Lahiru Thirimanne, 7 & 8 two of Ajantha Mendis/Sachithra Senanayake/Jeevan Mendis, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Rangana Herath, 11 Lasith Malinga

Pitch and conditions

The conditions at Sabina Park have meant batsmen have struggled for fluency in the first half of the match and they are likely to stay the same. It is a slow pitch with some lateral movement early on, but it eases out during the second half. Just like West Indies did both times, the team that wins the toss will prefer to field.

Stats and trivia

  • India and Sri Lanka have played 41 ODIs against each other in the last five years – that is 15 more than the next most-prolific match-up of Bangladesh-Zimbabwe. Overall, the two teams have met each other 140 times in ODIs, also a record. Australia-West Indies have played against each other 135 times.
  • It’s not a surprise then that three Sri Lankans and four Indians have scored more than 1000 runs in such contests in the last five years, the top-seven batting efforts against a particular team. Shane Watson, with 930 runs against England, is the eighth batsman in this list.
  • The India and Sri Lanka bowlers haven’t done quite as well as their batting counterparts. It’s understandable since most of these matches are played on flat wickets. For wickets taken against a particular opposition in the last five years, three Sri Lanka bowlers are in the top 10 for doing it against India. Lasith Malinga is there, too, but the opposition in his case is Australia. Only one India bowler – Zaheer Khan v Sri Lanka – makes it to the list.


“There were times when you are under pressure and you miss him (Dhoni) because he remains calm under pressure.”
Stand-in India captain Virat Kohli on the narrow loss to West Indies