Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dhoni scored 33 on comeback

MS Dhoni played a cameo of 30 odd on the second day of the Brisbane test match and guided India to the score of over 400. It was his first game for India in more than 4 weeks and he showed no signs of being out of nick. He hit boundaries through covers and also straight down the round with the trademark short back-lift of his. The Indian captain, surprisingly, pulled out reverse sweep too on one occasion. However, he would think that he, perhaps, got out at an inappropriate time for his team.

The ball moved a bit in the morning today and Australia had the new ball which they had taken last evening. They only had to find the right channel which they did.  The two overnight Indian batsmen nicked off early, but, Dhoni came and counter attacked and threatened to take away the game. The wicketkeeper batsman was courageous enough to walk towards the bowlers bowling 90 miles per hour. He took a couple of short pitched ball on his body too. Despite that, his approach was the same. The way he went down the pitch to slam Mitchell Starc straight, it was outrageous.

Against the spinners too, Dhoni was confident. Although, he did not get to face that much of spin, but, whatever little he faced, he looked good. Nathan Lyon, the off spinner, bowled around the wicket with three fielders back on the boundary. His attempt was to buy the wicket there, but, Dhoni was too smart to fall in his trap. He reverse swept the ball in the open spaces on the off side to get a four.

The 33-year old was in for another half century, but, unfortunately, he was dismissed while trying to leave one alone. The ball jagged back ever so slightly and before he could take his bat out of the away, the ball kissed the inside edge and the catch was held behind the wickets.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

MS Dhoni back, Ashwin might play too

The Indian captain MS Dhoni is back in the thick of things. He will be leading his side in the Brisbane test match that is starting tomorrow. He attended the press conference earlier today and confirmed that he would replace Wriddhiman Saha in the Indian playing XI. Dhoni also dropped hints that his CSK mate and the off spinning all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin would get another game in whites. Ashwin had played the last couple of matches on the England tour and although he had not done much with the ball, he had batted superbly lower down the order and Dhoni talked about the significance of having a handy bat at 8. So, it is being assumed that Karn Sharma might have to leave his place for Ashwin.

Karn would consider himself unlucky if he is dropped. The leg spinner did not have the best of conditions to bowl there in Adelaide. India lost the toss and he had to bowl on the first day pitch which was a belter. The ball was coming at an easy pace and the bounce was also just perfect for the Aussies to play their shots. Then, in the second innings, there were roughs on the wicket, but, they were in the awkward areas for Karn and of course, the Australian players, David Warner in particular, with their use of feet made life tough for him.

The first test match is not easy for any player. There is always some nervous energy in there. Everyone deserves at least a couple of chances, if not more, to prove himself, but, in this case, MS Dhoni is clearly in a mood to drift towards his favourite spinner which is Ashwin. However, if Ashwin doesn’t go well in Brisbane, then, Karn’s name will again pop up for the reckoning in Melbourne.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tempers flied high in Adelaide on 4th day

Things got heated up a little bit yesterday in the first test match between India and Australia as the players from both sides looked to get involved in the war of words. It all started when David Warner was clean bowled off the bowling of Varun Aaron and the Indian team gave him a send off by screaming ‘come on’, ‘come on’ in almost his ears as he walked back to the pavilion. Unfortunately for India, that turned out to be an illegal delivery as the TV umpire found out that Aaron had no part of his feet behind the popping crease as he bowled the ball. So, Warner was called up and as he came back, he started mocking Aaron which prompted some of the Indian close in fielders to have an animated chat with the Aussie left hander.

The second incident took place in the final session of play when Rohit Sharma was bowling. Steven Smith came down the wicket against him and tried to pad a delivery away. Rohit appealed viciously, but, the umpire, obviously, could not give that wicket as Smith was a long way down the wicket. It was almost impossible for the umpire to judge from there if the ball was going to hit the stumps. The altercation arose when Smith tried to gesture to Rohit that he should not have appealed for that. Rohit, who was already frustrated after not having got that wicket, got furious to see Smith gesturing towards him and he screamed loudly ‘what’ ‘what’.

Smith did not respond to that though, to his credit, and got ready into his stance to face another ball, but, that’s when Virat Kohli decided to take it a bit too far. He went to Smith and asked him to stay in his limits and not try to say anything unnecessarily to the bowlers or the fielders. Smith reverted back to him angrily, but, then, the umpires took charge and got it all sorted. It did not look too good on television, but, many experts reckon that it’s actually good that such a thing happened as it would set the series up nicely now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Australia ended first day with upper hand in Adelaide

On a day on which the Aussie players did whatever they could to make their little mate Phillip Hughes smile in the heaven, the Indians were able to  make their presence felt as well right at the end of the day’s play as they got three back to back wickets with the second new ball to make things almost even-Stevens. Winning the toss, the hosts batted first and David Warner was in an absolute hurry. He got some wide half volley which he gladly accepted and peppered the off side fence quite a few times before the Indian stand-in captain woke up and made the first bowling change which controlled things a little bit.

The boundaries still flew though, but, not at the same rate at which they were flowing in the first half an hour. The only spinner that India picked i.e. Karn Sharma was on debut and his nervousness could easily have been felt as he bowled a handful of full-tosses to start with, some of which got dispatched, some didn’t, but, the Aussies absolutely coasted along. Warner was so influential from one end that the fall of two cheap wickets at the other end did not let the scorecard look bad for Australia at any point of time.

Later, Michael Clarke and Steven Smith clobbered their way to fifties too. Clarke had to retire hurt as trying to sway away from the line of a leg side bouncer, he hurt his back and the pain was so much that he was immediately off. The resigned look on his face was not good to see for the Australian fans. It remains to be seen if he comes back tomorrow and resumes his innings or not. Presently, Smith is unbeaten out there and the remaining players who have to bat apart from Clarke are the tail-enders i.e. Johnson, Harris and Siddle.

Monday, December 8, 2014

No Dhoni in Adelaide, Kohli to be the captain

Finally, the suspense has cleared and it has been officially stated by the Indian team management that the regular captain MS Dhoni would not play in the Adelaide test match. With Dhoni reaching Australia on 6th and then, having a couple of training sessions with the team, a few people were starting to believe that he might opt to walk out for the toss on the morning of the 9th. There were even talks about India playing him as a specialist batsman for his fingers to be protected.

But, Virat Kohli, who will lead the team in Adelaide, told the media that there was never a plan to play Dhoni as a batsman. Whenever he plays, he would play as a wicketkeeper. As per Kohli, Dhoni is fit to bat, but, he is not fit to keep wickets as of now and that’s why, he has been kept out. It’s just a matter of few days for him to be able to start the wicket-keeping drills again and most probably, he would be playing the second test match which is starting from 17th in Brisbane.

This is the first time that Kohli is going to lead India in whites. This is a big thing, butterfly-in-the-stomach type of thing, but, the Delhi batsman is not even close to being nervous or at least he tried to suggest so. Kohli is not planning anything. He says he would act spontaneously on the field on the demand of the situation.  But, one thing that he has promised is the aggression and the ruthlessness.

If India wins the Adelaide test under Kohli, there would be a strong case for him to be retained as skipper in Brisbane even if Dhoni gets fit as he is supposed to be.