Impressive win against Australia..Self-Confidence hanging high in the minds of the players..Inclusion of stalwarts like Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid in the team..Domicile conditions..Favorable pitch..One billion supporters..Decent performance in the 1st Test match against South Africa..Sehwag scoring his second ‘triple hundred’ and that too fastest in the world..Dravid becomes a member of the 10,000-RUN club..Now what do you expect in the second test match at Ahmedabad..I guess a thumping victory against South Africa..But instead, we witnessed the debacle of Team India at its worst of recent times..

First day, a pitch, which shows a hint of a grass on it, was surely going to favour seam bowlers early on and still our own captain Mr. Kumble, after winning the toss, opted for a batting ..And the next is a history..India was bowled out for tiny ‘76′..Four batmen even did not trouble the scorer..Only two batsmen crossing the double digit mark(Another luxury for scorers!!)..Six batsmen gazed at their stumps and bails going for a morning-walk..When south Africa came to bat, they were not at all troubled by the pitch or by the Indian bowlers..Suddenly that grass from the pitch vanished!!!..Harbhajan did bowl some magical deliveries early in his spell but then he too surrendered to the conditions..South Africa scored a mammoth 494/7(declare) and when India came to bat, again the history repeated, and they were bowled out with a defeat of an Innings and 90 runs..I went to Ahmedabad in the weekends to watch the match but it got over on Saturday only..I was the sufferer of watching Indian wickets falling down like cycles in the cycle-stand one after another..Dismal performance..Team India disappointed so many fans who came out in large numbers at the stadium to support them..It surely was a humiliating and embarrassing defeat..

I hope we at least win the third test match at Kanpur and level the series..Keeping my fingers crossed..

By the way, who do you think was the culprit for this debacle?
1. IPL Hype and the campaigns to promote the teams and players [In the practice session organised just before the day of the test-match, only 4 players came to attend it. Others were busy promoting their IPL teams.] OR
2. Kumble’s Decision to bat first OR
3. Pitch OR
4. Indian Batsmen OR
5. South Africa’s preparations for the match and before the match.

My vote goes to Kumble’s decision to bat first on a green pitch…

[Image Source: www.cricinfo.com]

Soham

There was an era of lethal and deadly super-fast bowling and this guy was always considered as ‘the king’ of that regime…He became an instant Hero with his 5 wickets haul for 43 runs in Pakistan’s first Test win in South Africa…but it was just a trailer…Lot more to arrive…Soon he became a superstar with those two magical deliveries he bowled to Dravid and Sachin…First ball was a high-speed furious yorker which sent Dravid’s leg stump on a morning-walk…The following ball, the best batsman in the world on the crease and he delivered the identical delivery and sent the middle-stump of Sachin cartwheeling to give him his maiden golden duck…The whole India was stunned…they were speechless, thunderstruck, astounded…Many hearts missed a beat including mine…This is ‘The Rawalpindi Express’ Shoaib Akhtar for you…He has been banned for five years by a disciplinary committee of the PCB(Pakistan Cricket Board)…He is accused of violating the players’ code of conduct as he publically criticised PCB officials, their functioning and their offering of retainership instead of a contract.

The statistics does not depict the true picture of his international career…It indeed was full of controversies, bans, injuries, furious-yorkers, wickets and the pleasing sound of Timbas & bails flying all over the place…Controversies were his close companions…he has got this uncanny knack of producing controversies from nowhere…Whether it was an accuse of poor attitude in the filed & his misbehavior with junior players, or a charge of ball-tampering, or a fine for sledging rival players, or an instance of failing of the Drug-test, or a case of dressing-room tiff with Mohammed Asif, or a blame of fake injuries – he really walked his way to fame and also to dimness with all these misdeeds lying on his shoulders every now and then. He was the first bowler to cross the 100 mph barrier, but his attitude took its toll on his reputation as well as his fitness…He really screwed it up..PERIOD

Cricinfo rightly said in one of their articles : “What does Shoaib leave behind? Nothing really. No legacy; only a blighted, wasted career and a warning to future players on what not to become, and to future administrations on how not to deal with a player.” … How true !! …

Shoaib has said that he is very disappointed by this decision and he will fight it in court. He also stated that he has been ‘victimised’ and ‘pinpoint targeted’…But because of the increasing pressure from other senior cricketers, coach, captain and also from newly formed Pakistani government to the PCB officials, Shoaib might very well have his ban overturned soon enough. It happens in Pakistan. It has happened with him before…So there will be no surprises if this ban is tipped over…

But I will surely miss Shoaib on the field…He was a great fighter and one of my favourite ones…And yeah, he is allowed to play in IPL…so at least I can see him playing in India…Some donuts for me, I guess…

Hats off to the Genious !!!

[Image Source: image.google.com]

Soham

Being an ardent cricket fan, I was never-ever keen on watching the star players and the legends getting retired and bidding adieu to the cricket world…I want them to play for lifetime,all-time and at infinite level…But that is never true…Every good thing has to end whether it is life, success or a grand career….In short, the point that I want to convey is, I have never liked that sight when someone is getting out in his last innings or someone is bowling his last ball of his last over of his career…

But if you call it my fortune or misfortune,somehow since last year’ s cricket world cup, I have got this uncanny knack of watching several STAR players getting retired and their ‘last walk’ back to the players-room having wet eyes and tears rolling down on their cheek…what a pity sight that is and I have been victim of that sight several times since last year…But at least I got to see my favourite players last time and got to bid them farewell so I find myself lucky enough..When the world cup 2007 began in March, I was in US…The timings of the matches were morning 6 to 3 in the noon…But because of my job and in the preliminary round most of the matches were meaningless(useless!!), I had to compromise and hence I was not able to watch all the matches…One day, somehow I woke up early and I just switched on the TV…the moment I tuned to the Sports channel, InzamamulHaq of Pakistan got out…That was his last one-day international and his last innings as he resigned from the captaincy and opted to retire from the international cricket because of the dismal performance of the Pakistan cricket team in the world cup,its subsequent exit from the preliminary round and not qualifying for the super-six stages…Whether it was a coincidence or whatever, but the very moment I started watching the match, he got out…he was walking back to the pavilion with tears in his eyes…Players from his own team, the rival team and all the spectators(very negligible though!) present in the ground gave him a standing ovation which this guy rightly deserved…I too felt some kind of uneasiness and I also applauded for the master…The man who laid the foundation for the Pakistan’s only world cup win in 1992 has to depart in a very bitter manner amid Pakistan’s poor performance in the world cup and mysterious death of coach Bob Woolmer…But what a servant he was for Pakistan cricket team as well as world cricket…Few days later, when I switched on TV, I saw Brian Lara getting run out…it was his last match and his last international inning…What a shitty sight that was..Lara is considered as one of the best batsmen the world has ever produced…flamboyant, graceful and a true legend…Perfection personified…he too was awarded a standing ovation with some wet eyes and tears as it was his home ground…Bowing my head down in the appreciation for this living legend…Then in the world cup final, we saw the departure of two more legends of Australia – Glenn Mcgrath and Shane WarneMcgrath was the highest wicket taker of the world cup 2007 and was awarded Man-of-the-tournament trophy…What a farewell that was for him…Record of highest wicket in a world-cup,man-of-the-tournament trophy and, third straight World cup win for Australia…Cant ask for a better moment to bid adieu to the cricket world…For Shane Warne, it was also a great send-off…Taking my Hat off in the appreciation for these two legends!!!…(I have not written much about Mcgrath and Shane Warne because on the personal front, I really don’t like them much because of their mean attitude,their harsh behaviour to fellow players and their malicious tactics to mentally harass the rival players so that they get distressed psychologically and cant perform up to their potential level..But I cant deny that they were just amazing bowlers and can definitely be put in a living legend category)…

Then it was Justin Langer(of Australia) who retired…Russel Arnold(of Sri Lanka) retired…My all time favourite Sanath Jayasurya retired from test cricket…He was the one who changed the game of cricket by his own innovation and by his own hitting style in the beginning overs…It is always an immense and a massive compliment to someone to say they changed the game and was the pioneer of something new…Mcgrath said the same thing about him and he also says in addition to that his storming innings in the 1996 World Cup changed every one’s thinking about how to start innings…He is the only player in the world to score over 12,000 runs and capture over 300 wickets in ODIs…He is also regarded by many critics and supporters as one of the best ODI players to ever play the game…I hope he continues to play one-day cricket at least till the next world cup…

And Today when I switched on the TV in the morning which I usually avoid because I am always late for the office and hence I neither have time to watch TV in the morning nor I have time to read newspaper…but today somehow I got ready early and tuned to sports channel and what I saw…Stephen Flaming getting out in his last test and in his last innings…Aaahhh what a shitty sight in the morning once again…Fleming was never considered a leading batsman in the world but will always be remembered for his marvellous leadership skills and his proficiency in the controlling and managing the resources(Players!!!)…He was a born leader…Has gave New Zealand some real prominent victories just by his innovative leadership tactics and by handling the pressure in the nail-biting situations…But he retired today hence the era of a great leader ends…

The thought that I wont be able to see all these legends in the cricket field, always terrifies me a great deal..Looking back at all these players and their performances will surely make my day and will surely make me smile & the thought that they all have left the cricket field forever will surely fill my eyes with tears…

I salute all these legends for their services to the cricket world and for making us all smile and happy over the period of years!!!

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