Lessons Learnt From Indian Cricket This Week

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Lesson 1: 49th over. Opposition has 13 runs to win. You as captain have two choices for who will bowl the last over

Choice 1:  Has not been part of the side regularly. Very iffy form coming into the tournament and not played in most games. Has so far given 49 runs in 8 overs without getting a wicket. Last bowled in the 36th over where he was taken off after an expensive 10-run battering. Having bowled about 13 overs ago, the man would be slightly stiff and hence might need perhaps one or two balls to get into rhythm.

Choice 2: On paper, definitely a frontline bowler for the team. Moody and temperamental, he has been largely disinterested throughout the tournament. One thing everyone acknowledges about the man, when he gets a wicket he becomes another bowler. Today he has taken three, affected a runout and, in general, been growling around the field like a tiger. Has bowled the 46th over where he gave away just 5 runs, is in bowling rhythm and pumped up.

Captain should take Choice 1.

Lesson 2: The World Cup is the ideal venue for indulging in the Dr. Phil-Oprah side of you, wherein you let a colleague find his lost groove and exorcise his internal demons on the largest cricketing stage possible. In other words, it is good cricketing acumen to persist with a man under a lot of pressure who “the whole world, including the media, has ridiculed” (we wonder why) because he “needs the confidence” (a confidence he ultimately did not get because he was really bowling poorly) while keeping a “tough character who can handle pressure” on the bench, depriving the latter of match practice and confidence going into the business end of the tournament. [Link]

We had thought that the team that wins the World Cup is often not the one which is the most talented but that which is mentally the toughest and brings their A-game  consistently under pressure. Which is why the mentally strong should always be preferred over the one with the self doubt in matters of selection with those who are lost being asked to solve their problems on the shrink’s couch and in first class games. Obviously we were wrong.

Lesson 3: In game A, you get a solid start and take a disastrous batting powerplay which leads to a sub-optimal score and a consequent tie. In game B, you get an even more solid start and rather than experiment with taking the batting powerplay at a different time (like when the spinners are on, forcing the South African captain to bring his pacers on at a time he was planning to use spinners) just to see if that works (and considering we have had identical batting powerplay screwups in the 40th over vicinity before the Cup began also), you should take the exact same decision that you took in game A. You get identical consequences. Actually even worse. But hey….the official drink of the “phir se galti se mistake ho gya” shot and all that.

Lesson 4: The problem so far, we have been told, is that the Indian top order (one, two and three) has not batted as long as they should have. (Link). [Psst….one and two are the top two run-makers so far in the tournament]. The middle order (four, five, six and seven), in contrast, are doing just fine—scoring scratchy fifties, whirlwind centuries in practice matches against New Zealand and collapsing hush-a-hush-a-we-all-fall-down with pocket full of poses against the big boys.

Lesson 5: It’s all Sachin’s fault. Since we lost today, we can say “Selfish Sachin once again. He should have batted the full fifty overs. Look how he gave away his wicket once he got his century.” Which we know is rank Sachinistic unlike the other selfless players who gave their wickets away after getting five runs. If we had won and Sachin had batted through, it still would have been Sachin’s fault. “Selfish Sachin once again. See how he scores in the non-crucial matches (which we really do not care about winning), hogs all the bowling and refuses to let the middle order have a hit and get their rhythm for the vital games ahead.”

Lesson 6: Finally this is the THE BEST pump-up World Cup song ever. No not even Bappi-da comes close. (even though honestly Bappida might bowl better than Piyush Chawla and move more quickly in the field than Munaf). And I have been listening to it in a loop.

While I am sure Indian players will be singing “I am the bast bowler of the cup. I am the bast hitter of the cup. I am the bast keeper of the cup.” (at least for the IPL), as a fan when I ask myself “Who will win the Cup? Cricket Cup, World Cup?” I cannot, having seen the Indians perform in the last few games, believe “We will win the Cup. Cricket Cup, World Cup.”

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123 thoughts on “Lessons Learnt From Indian Cricket This Week

  1. Lesson 7,(if I may add):-
    If you want to hide your one of the worst fielders on the field, make him bowl. Even of it is the last over, with the opposition itching to shed that C-tag

  2. I agree with almost everything except the first one. What if the inside edge (49.1) that went for the boundary would have hit the stumps….I am so very sure that we all would be praising his decision and would continue to envy him for being always right!!

  3. Anonymous,

    We can argue the what-ifs till the cows come home. Nehra’s second ball too could have been the kind of yorker he could bowl once upon a time and not gone for six. Yusuf Pathan’s cover drive could have been a foot over and it could have been a four….

    The fact remains that I find no cricketing reason why Nehra was preferred over Bhajji.

  4. @greatbong #49.1
    My point is simply that in crunch situations we all have 50-50 chances of winning or losing. Be it Sanjay bangar, Joginder Sharma or Sreesanth in the past we had our better half of the 50!

  5. I don’t believe that the last over cost us the match though. We lost it during half time itself when Abhishek Bachchan and Bipasha came on to the field to promote their movie.
    Sad day !

  6. WE should have a “like” button button for some comments that are good. Many a times lots of real witty comments in this blog are lost out in “where is my Ipod?”
    Of course with me being no exception.

  7. I think Nehra is unfairly criticized.what about the batsmen like kohli,pathan,Y singh.India were when sachin got out the score was 267/2 in 39.2 over.And in 48th over we were all out for 296.who will explain this?
    and please harbhajan singh would have got the same hitting as nehra got as it was matter of do or die situation for SA.
    Thank you Men in Blue for ruining my day

  8. Yes. agree with anon…Last over is more of a lottery…we lost it in first innings, like the match against England.

  9. One narrow loss against a strong opponent and so much hot air! As for the powerplay decision, if taking powerplay causes Indian wickets to fall, then all that the opposition captains need to do is to bring in the fielders inside the circle, whether India opts for PP or not. Are they such fools to not realise it is that easy to dismiss India?

  10. awesome bro…
    i was shocked when nehra was preferred over singh
    any bowler even sachin could be better choice
    may be dhoni thought spinner is more prone to get hit for big shots
    i just hope he doesnt screw up like this in next round

  11. Dhoni’s hatred towards South Indians is baffling. He tries his best not to include South Indians in the team. Sreesanth is the only bowler other than Zaheer who has pace, but he is not selected after th first match whereas he persisted with Piyush. Ashwin is ideally suited for indian conditions and he has good variations, but Dhonis is not even thinking about including him in the team. No South Indian batsman in the team. They can replace Kohli and Pathan with T. Suman and Uthappa. If Dhoni persists with 11 north indians, we won’t even qualify for quarters. Loss would of India’s, not South India’s. At least South Indian can wash off their hands for this dismal performance of the team.

  12. @Kishor – i love your thinking on this. Which “South Indian” city are you from? In today’s time you can even come up with this thought is amazing.

    Yes, Dhoni made 2 mistakes (or more) in the day. It’s not the end of the day. Pick on the other players as well, who made mistakes in the game. Our Bowling is below par, we all know that. The only way we will win the cup is by out batting the opposition. And our batting will falter – every once in a while.

  13. India’n batting line-up is hailed as very good, because people wouldn’t believe if the same were said about some of other departments. Anyway India’n batting line up has the body of a slender snake: the head and then the rest, practically you cannot make out the difference with the tail.

    Goti-Baba dropped a catch, Seeghra-Pathan could hit sixes only in the IPL, his younger brother is waaaaaay better, 4 ducks and 2 (barely) double figures.

    Interesting thing though, is that the only performers in the team are only the ones who are more than 30 years old . Somebody in the commentary box must be wondering …

  14. This Indian team is giving birth to 2 new cricketing theories:
    1) Having wickets in hand in the last 10 overs is a disastrous thing.
    2) Tail-enders will hit sixes in the last over and win matches.

  15. Look at the plus.
    We got to win just 3 games one after the other for the cup!
    This did not happen in one of those games, which we will still play.

    Atleast in those crunch games, juhi chawla and nehra bhai wont get to finish the game in stayilll.
    Much better to learn the lessons early. No comebacks in knockout stage!
    Also complacence is best avoided with a few shocks. Atleast Bhajji got the roar back and is peaking on time.

  16. I completely agree with you GB. Am sick of hearing its Sachin’s fault, selfish century etc etc.

    Sachin is SELFISH.. He WANTS to win the WC badly.

    Unfortunately he’s in a team where some of the players think the World Cup is a warm-up tournament for the IPL.

  17. Below is excerpt I came across some cricketing forum a year ago.Dont recall where.But i had copied it into a wordpad.
    I always read this comment whenever india looses so that i can overcome that pain

    Re: Wrong talk !!
    by vijay bhoir on Oct 04, 2009 08:41 PM
    i dont understand if indian bowler bowl badly..then indian gone to loose..but u dot think why indian batsmen not play to chase good score..Dhoni just playing his captain innings…he is just playing slow….if bowler give more score…then wht batsmen indian batsmen doing…every match Dhoni want to low score & chasing….. thats bad…Dhoni just blaming all one….just look at yourself…you arenot play fast ….you are changing all batsmen batting order..when Dhoni want to come he coming….i dont understand why he changing raina batting order…when someone is not playing that order then it will ok 2 change batting order……..all time changing batting order.. Dhoni your self-fish…………………

  18. When the Indian team loses in the quarters when they play Sri Lanka / Pakistan / Australia, as they are expected to…… I hope Indian fans show some self-respect and boycott the thing that really matters to our cricketers – the IPL.

  19. And talking of Sachin, while it is true he is obsessed with records and 100s, it is also true he cares more than anybody in our team about India winning.

    And while we are at it, can anyone here remember the last match winning innings played by our Captain Marvel ? I tried hard, but I cant. He just seems to block, push the ball around for singles, and hit a very rare boundary before gifting his wicket away. He is a totally ineffective batsman in whichever fortmat of the game he plays, test / ODI / 20-20. He has become a shot-less wonder. He used to be good when he first came into the side, but now I would say even Nayan Mongia was a better batsman. That is how pathetic he has become.

    How come nobody talks about that ?

    And as for the rest, apart from Zaheer and to an extent Sehwag, they are all as equally useless as Dhoni. Only good for acting in ads.

  20. I talked of the good – Sachin. Bad – Dhoni. Now I have to say something about the ugly.

    Did anybody fail to notice that idiot Abhishek Bachan and the bimbo Bipasha pimping their movie while shouting themselves hoarse, dancing and jumping aeond acting as cheerleaders for India ? That was ugly. Dont these showbiz people have any shame ?

    And whats with these Siddharth Mallya dude ? Can he not do anything at all without being accompanied by his girlfriend , the fake looking actress ? Yeah dude, I know you got a Bollywood starlet girlfriend. But have you ever done anything productive in your life ? Try get a real job. Build a business. Do something productive with your dad’s money. You come across as a total loser.

  21. While I agree with most of the other points, not sure if Nehra vs Bhajji choice was so obvious
    1) Even though Nehra went for many runs, he did bowl well especially at the start of the innings.
    2) The fast pace, its assumed, should make the tail-handers diffuclt to handle
    3) Bhajji even though he got wickets, wasnt very economical. Plus the risk of someone getting under him and lofting out of the park.
    Since 13 runs were required, Dhoni must have wanted to negate the possibility of a ‘six’ beig hit by taking the spinner out of the equation.

    In my view, he made the right decision. Bowling a spinner in the last over would have been risky. Ofcourse it dint change much with Nehra bowling.

  22. Man. U right like a true indian cricket fans.. This is my first comment on your blog.. Bt I always like whatever you write abt indian cricket.. that Comes from true Indian cricket lovers heart…

  23. Nitin,

    1. Actually no. It was he who gave away the most runs and it was Zaheer who bowled well. The ball was stopping and coming onto the bat much more pre-dew and batting was not easy at that stage. At 49th over, Nehra was still more expensive than Bhajj as far as I can remember.

    2.For South African tail-enders, honestly, do you think it will be spin or pace that would be more uncomfortable? And when I say pace, I dont mean a Lasith Malinga or Shaun Tait kind of pace. It would be far more difficult for a tail-ender to spot the doosra than any variation in Nehra’s military medium.

    3. Guess who got lofted out of the park? Unless you are someone like Malinga, the risk of batsman getting underneath is always there. Thats why you go with the best bowler on the day who is in rhythm. And on that day, Bhajji was the best bowler save Zaheer.

  24. been folloin ya for a few years. i hv noticed that these days, ya dnt write when india does well, but u go all out when these guys dont do so well….any specific reasons?

  25. wow.ya did write 4 yesrs back. and not your fault if they have not won anything other than toothless oppositions after that. have they not won anything against a decent opponent in these 4 years? i am not much of a cricket follower as most are. so plis enlighten me. will ya?

  26. Read famous leadership case tudies of all times by the guru himself – MS Dhoni…”Art of Losing”…in a bookstore near you….

    My favourite excerpt from the book – MSD definiing leadership –

    “….Leadership is generally defined as the capacity to make things happen that would otherwise not happen…” like loosing the match when eveything is going your way!….and many more intelligent insights

  27. When asked to clarify his comments on “crowd” vs “country”, MSD responded, “If I were playing for the crowd, I would have got 126 runs in 21 balls, but since I was playing for country, I got a mere 12 runs in 21 balls. The country never expects much from us, unlike the crowd. It is no contest.. It is for this same reason (Country First!) that I stick with Piyush Chawla. I might bring him back in our next match as a confidence building measure. Piyush’s confidence, not the crowd’s, mind you..”

  28. Debjani,

    If you notice I dont write about a lot of things–like the meltdown in Japan for instance or the advent of spring in Maryland. I write things that I feel I have something to say about. My not writing about India winning does not stem from any sinister well of anti-nationalism or desire to be fiendishly acerbic, which is what you are hinting. It would also help if India won things other than meaningless bi-laterals against Sri Lanka. If you also notice, since the first T20 World Cups India had played two other World Cups where they did not win a single game against a Test playing team except Bangladesh. I did not write about these also.

  29. hi,
    great article.

    bowling ashish nehra just bcoz he’s apparently been your best death bowler in the past is highly stupid. shouldn’t one go by recent form and performance in that match ?! bhajji firing it flat and fast would be something saffers would not be used to. a stiff nehra bowling at that pace would be akin to a net bowler for them.

    i was a huge fan of dhoni and still admire his temperament but this move along with many others dhoni’s made in the past few seasons just indicate that he’s lost his mojo and is surving and winning on pure luck and having people like sehwag,zak and srt in the form of their life. he’s no more the attacking captain that helped him when he first burst on the scene and in fact is one of the most defensive captains around. he’s also obstinate as proven with chawla and sreesanth. just bcoz he doesnt like sree doesnt mean he keeps out an attacking bowler. this is not a neighborhood club that entry is allowed on basis of how u get alongwith the manager. sree wouldnt be my automatic choice in odi’s coz he can be expensive but he’s a better option than munaf & nehra who are frail (physically & temperamentally). munaf may have won u a match is sa but even the last 2 wickets he took in that last over of that match were 2 full blooded shots that just luckily went uppish and into the hands of the fielder.

    plus as a batsman i cannot recall the last time he’s played even a supporting innings let alone a match winning one. if he wasnt the lucky captain he was he would’ve been dropped ages ago. cutting his hair seems to have robbed him of his powers.

    also in this match gautam gambhir has to cop part of the blame. even though in the end he reached a decent strike rate in the initial period he was too slow and india lost the momentum when he arrived. they scored just 42 in 10 overs and thats when sa got their foot in the door and started to breathe easier. singles and 2’s at that stage wld have ensure against that. and when the powerplay was taken and srt got out he was the set batsman and should’ve take on the mantle of staying there till the end and leave the slogging to the others. plus there’s the dropped catch.

    mr. style yuvraj tried to impress deepika by hitting a few sixes so the crowd would go bezerk and she’d realise what she missed out on.

    can only imagine poor ashwin’s plight. with the whole nation and the entire media calling for his inclusion for so long if he has anything less than a stellar day (5/20 perhaps?) dhoni can quickly turn around and say “see i told you so”

  30. ok ok. whay ya gettign defensive? btw, india has become #1 in tests i have heard. but may be ya dont feel about things like these. its okay.

  31. Hahhaha. Tremendous comments to a tremendous post. I would like to thank Kisor first for pointing out the absence of Southies in the team. had not really noticed that. 🙂 Dhoni probably got sick and tired of the Chennai rasam and sambhar.

    Now coming to the Bhajji- Nehra decision, the size of the Nagpur ground should have been taken into consideration. A spinner would have been difficult to hit. Remember Sachin in the Hero Cup semis in 1993?

    I am a bit concerned about M.S. Dhoni. For the first time, I feel that he has lost it a bit. Of course, the WC pressure is too much for any Indian captain. But he has been issuing rather strange statements recently, like of Chawla having a dark past, and Nehra being our best bowler for the past 12 months. And we still do not have good fielders. So nothing has changed since 1996. Still you expect SRT to score hundreds. There were a couple of great fielders back then too- Azz and Jaddu.

    MSD is Ashwin’s captain in Chennai. I think Ashwin is an asset in a powerplays as the third seamer has been useless. Only once did Ashwin lose it- when Davey Jacobs took 24 off him in the T20 champions trophy as Dhoni watched behind the stumps. Looks like they expected Piyush Chawla to be a surprise weapon. He was even called a capable bat. The problem with him is that he is a bit nervous. Nervous leggies inevitably bowl long hops. It is proved that against big teams, big bats and easy tracks, India can only win if they score 350 batting first. If they bat second, they will be chasing a WC 2003 final type score and will lose. If they score 300, they can only pray. On slightly slower wickets though, their bowling can look better than what it is. Like the matches vs Ireland and Holland. Smaller grounds will also help the batters and even out the fielding deficiencies. Maybe they can give Raina a chance too. And Sreesanth too at some stage, if they play 3 seamers.

  32. @yourfan2…nehra’s average speed in the match was 119kph. i am sure sachin must have bowled faster than that in 1993. anyone can bowl faster than that

  33. Why are we gettin lost in Nehra v/s Bhajji debate? Its irrelevant. Its only an assumption that Bhajji would have bowled better. Who knows? Dont you guys remember Balaji’s six against Shoaib? Its a matter of chance.

    The match was lost when Pathan was sent at No 4 in 36th over instead of Kohli. Did we require 100 off 60 balls? Or were we in 46th over..requirin ‘just-hit-dont-look’ kinda attitude? No. Then why fiddle wit the batting order? Kohli has been amazin at No 4 … askin him to suddenly bat deep down the order – makes no sense.

  34. @mayank…completely with u. why fiddle around with batting order so much?
    stick to sehwag, sachin, gauthi, kohli and then the rest. more often than not, you will be 180+ for 3 in 35th over. real problem is fixation with YP that he can hit a 6 every ball he faces. he has his limitations,he cannot.

  35. This is all a conspiracy by Aby’s baby and Tipasha, they didn’t want their stupid new movie being overshadowed by India’s win, so to completely demoralise the team, they took the field and the baby began howling like a mad bison, frightening the crowd and the team as well. Pichhu Chawla became the most frightened and lost his length, and even more terrifying was muscular Tipasha (who has more muscles than the baby) scaring the daylights out of the team with her yellow-toothed smile and bulging biceps!! This has all been masterminded by pink-turbaned Chiddu and hair-today-gone-tomorrow-back-day after Bharsha Chogle!!!

  36. You cannot exactly blame Dhoni for the Pathan at 4 strategy. Pathan was amazing in his last 2 odis in South Africa. Hence the decision, to play on the minds. 2 wickets at 267 and then Pathan started the slide though. And Zaheer Khan should have bowled the 50th over, unless he had a preferred other end. Henceforth, that should be the case. Bowling the 50th over of a chase is not not only death bowling, but a horror movie type death bowling. You need your best bowler.

  37. all i can say is, a team needs support whn the chips r down…and we hardly ever do so.
    if they win, we say – its against easy opponents or at home or they r expected to win..blah blah
    when they lose, we want them hanged.
    and all is not lost yet, pak was in terrible shape in WC92 but they went on to win the cup.
    in 2003, everybody wrote India off but we reached the finals.
    so u never know…

  38. If BD defeated NL and Eng def WI and then BD def SA then we need to win against WI otherwise we are out. So it was not that non crucial match.

  39. @Ved

    Grim scenario yes … I doubt BD beatin SAF though. All other results are 50-50. Considering though India beat WI.. we will end up 2nd in grp – prospect of facin NZ or Pak in QFs.

  40. @ Sabalil (not Sabolil, you mean?)

    IF the fault is “imaginary”, why are you and your guru, GB, getting so excited about it? 🙂

  41. @Sabalil -> point taken. may be comment space is only for ipod mad rush and people like that. a different POV is not appreciated at all. we all love psychophancy don’t we? good bye in succha case.

  42. A really strange thing on this blog is that anyone who doesn’t pander to GB’s line of thought are trashed and stomped on- its the cyber equivalent of a crazy cult following that is a closed circle and anyone who thinks differently are wrong- in real world its like thrashing the person black and blue! Perhaps we need to be more open, guys, and be able to understand different points of view. How is this different from shiv sainiks beating up lovers on V-day, albeit in the cyber world???? For the record, I like GB’s writing, but am not a crazy fan, I try and be reasonable and discerning, important to appreciate others’ POVs, I think, especially for a generation (I’m 30, btw) that prides itself on being ‘cool’ and ‘liberal’, huh!!

  43. I agree with Debjani and Sayan.

    Greatbong and his chelas are getting increasingly right-wing and intolerant of other people’s views. If you look at the comments segments of a few of his recent posts you will realize this yourself.
    And that will gradually erode his fan base.
    Which is a pity because GB CAN write brilliantly occassionally.

  44. I couldn’t agree more with the writer, it beats me WHY Nehra was chosen for the last over and WHY Gambhir couldn’t have slowed down after we lost Sachin’s wicket. Agreed, that the main purpose of choosing the power play was to get more runs but in which rule book is it written that power play = RUTHLESS shots and one MUST HIT or GET THE HELL OUT? And I do not know what to think of Nehra being chosen for the last over, over Bhajji – did Bhajji refuse to bowl the last over (he is famous for his mood swings after all), did Nehra plead Dhoni to give him a ‘chance’? Did Dhoni feel adventurous all of a sudden and decided to tempt the fate just for the kick of it? Or did he think that miracles and Nehra go hand in hand like it happened in the World Cup 2003 match against England? Or am I blind to be not able to see the ‘genius’ behind Dhoni’s decision and his ADAMANCE to NOT learn from old mistakes? Come on now Dhoni & Co., we don’t even expect you guys to win, at least make new mistakes, it is boring to see the same mistakes being repeated over and over, some new blunders and innovative disasters would be a breath of fresh air, what say? At the end of the day, we will still buy all the products you endorse to show our loyalty, can you not offer us SOME novelty in return?

  45. Much as I admire sambit_***@***.com’s (email hidden) attempt to hunt right-wingers, a word of advice. This being my blog and all. Please do not comment from same IP and same email but under different monikers—even though I know, as the blog admin, that its you people might think that Rajat and Choncol are different people. I am sure “left wingers” would not like to be part of this bit of misapprehension?

  46. I dont comment often on this blog, but would like to make an observation. Constantly attempts are made by leftist loonies commenting on this blog to shame Arnab into submission by repeatedly calling him a right-wing fascist and what not. They praise his comedic writing and in the same breathe want him to stick to comedy, and desist from taking on serious issues. Because often Arnab takes a stand which goes against their world view, they try to harass him, criticize him and even mock him. I have nothing but contempt for them. They dont just do this to Arnab, but do it to anyone with a point of view that differs from their’s… any Indian nationalist who wants Kashmir to remain a part of India or referring to their beloved “Gandhian with guns” the maoists as terrorists who kill innocent people or worst of all anybody daring to criticise their goddess Arundhati Roy becomes a nasty filthy blood- sucking child-killing pregant-woman’s- belly-ripping hindutwa fascist….

    I hope the other folks here treat these people as they are worth.

  47. @Chonchol/Rajat
    hope there are some good shrinks wherever you live and they can fix your split personality.

    @debjani
    good bye. please close the door on your way out.

  48. ROFL!!!well done sabalil. BTW, is that you GB? if same people can comment here with different names, you can also do the same.
    more than anything else, Sabalil’s strong wit and “shut your mouth” comments can only be matched by you. If’s it not you, I would love to read Sabalil’s blog.

  49. It was just a game.
    Dhone experimented, and it didnt work.
    This was not the Quarterfinals, so Bharat is still in the run.

    lets hope his decisions are sounder, and India’s bowling shows some bite.
    We really cannot win this worldcup with this kind of bowling.

  50. GB .. beware! Your blog comments will soon resemble rediff comment page .. Hindu, muslim, indian, paki etc …

    As for the WC .. look how Aus struggled against Kenya or Pak struggling against zimbabwe rght nw … WC hai yar. One bad match is allowed. We’ll peak at the right time… esp now after Sachin’s verbal thrashing of the team.

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/Tendulkar-lost-his-cool-after-the-batting-harakiri-in-Nagpur/Article1-673128.aspx

  51. Captain Cool’s swagger is beginning to wear off.

    He gave the appearance of Ganguly’s shrewdness (without being brattish), Afridi’s canniness (without stomping the crease or chomping the ball). Not the chutzpah of a martini sipping Bond but the street-smartedness of a milk-guzzling kid. Respect!

    Or so I believed. With the batting powerplays and UDRS thrown into the mix of ODIs, I thought the pragmatic Indian captain would make its best use. Sadly, the reason I think Dhoni is not fond of the UDRS has nothing to do with technology, but the fact that this brings in the element of making judicious on-field choices. It is another tool to be strategically used (NOT the strategic time-outs of IPL). Captain Cool does not like rolling the dice anymore. Given a choice, he would hope that the ICC does away with batting powerplays too. Basically, anything that needs poses more choices and decisions.

    The last time England were in India for ODIs, Yuvraj alone defeated them 5-0 by simply battering them out of the game. It is the same plot that Dhoni is rehashing for the WC and unfortunately, nobody is falling for the red herrings this time.

    In Dhoni’s defence, even Andy Flower could not wear all three hats at the same time. And thankfully, Dhoni does not have to trade his hats for a defiant black armband.

  52. GB, whats surprising to me is there was no any ‘Discussion’ between amongst all players , especially seniors Sachin and all after 49 th over about who should bowl 50th Over.

    It was better if Dhoni could have consulted at least once .
    I think yuvraj and Sehwag was also better option in this crunching time .
    Thanks …

  53. seeing this performance, i am not sure that we are that good a team as we are cracked to be (not even close).. the fact is that cricket-obsessed country of a billion can afford to keep the team rich for its fun and entertainment.. talk about a serious competition and the reality shows up.. the team is similar to the local kabaddi match (IPL) where the people of the locality are happy to have some timepass entertainment and throw pennies on these guys (multiply by a billion and that is still a big number).. now get this team at the regional level with serious folks and see the fun.. of course, there are jewels like Sachin but my rant is for the team as a whole..

  54. While no one can guarantee that Bhajji wouldn’t have been hit in the last over, it was a bad decision to give Nehra the ball based on the match performance of the two bowlers in consideration.

    As for the powerplay decision, I think it wasn’t a bad idea to have the batting powerplay when they did, but they could’ve slowed things down as soon as Sachin got out.

    Also, in the last over, when they needed 3 runs from 4 balls, Dhoni kept the field spread out. I am unable to see the wisdom in that.

    @GB: Your comment section is getting troll-infested regularly. I am for free speech and all, but this is nuts!

  55. Sometimes we put in a lot more thought than probably what is required, we all do. Bhajji was in good form (for a change) and Nehra was struggling, obvious choice was Bhajji for the last over.
    But a good cricketing brain might give it some more thought and and think that a medium pacer is a better bet for the last over, spinner would be a little too risky. So I don’t blame Dhoni for that, and Dhoni just went with his gut feeling.

    And as always, in the end,
    had it worked – Dhoni has an excellent instinct, he goes by his gut feeling etc etc…
    and since it did not – Was Dhoni out of his mind?

    Sorry, but if we score less than 350, given our bowling, there is a pretty good chance that we are not going to win, which is what happened here.

    And yeah definitely the best world cup song ever, thank Mr Asif, that was great and we are left craving for more…

  56. whoa. where did right-wing politics slip in here? why are people after your life, GB?
    wanted to tell you that you remind me so much of my roommate-best buddy from engineering, another bong, and loved your stuff for years. you almost feel like a buddy.
    my senti quota for the week over.

  57. Ya Dhoni had a bad game and a moronic last two post match interviews. Hw he could blame the top order and how he could defend giving Nehra the final over beats every sense of logic. It was a No Brainer, but still he handed it to Nehra. And yes, the second ball of the over should have been a yorker, yet our lad bowls a la srinath length ball to get whacked for a six.

    I dont write the team off for the cup yet but Dhoni should get his act together and his own batting form. May be give Raina a go in the last game if things look pretty safe.

    Yuvi is yet to his best form, only scratchy 50s here and there, we need him, hez our most effective ODI batsmen in crunch situations..

  58. @Shashaank ..hehe. no one criticized that move in 2007 because it succeeded but now…woofff!!!!
    hope ppl do not put me in troll category for my comment.
    I LOVE RTDM.

  59. No anon,

    In 2007, the final over from Joginder Sharma had sound cricketing reasons. Bhajji too had one over left even then. But he had given 36 runs in 3 overs and had been the most expensive bowler that day. Everyone else had been bowled out. Joginder Sharma had been one of the most economical in that game and had taken 2 wickets before. Is the difference between that decision and this one apparent now?

  60. dude…trust me, had mibah’s hit crossed sreesanth and gone for 4, you would have written a book on calling it a bad decision – how can you allow a par timer to bowl last over in a WC final when you have a specialist spinner inthe side.
    dhoni had his luck going for him so he succeeded. and what is the guarantee that bhajji couldnt ahve been hit??? it does become a lottery sometimes, even best of bowlers have got hit in last over or bowler being completely off the mark on a given day has turned it around in his last over – henry olonga, 1999 world cup, 3 wickets in an over???? remember??

    while your analytical skills are good, being an expert in hindsight doenst need any skills.
    our biggest failure in that match was losing 29/9. match would not have gone to last over stage had we not created that harakiri.
    and, its not over yet. we are not out yet.
    lets hope for the best…

  61. Anon,

    I am old and mature enough to understand that even the best of bowlers get hit often by the most mediocre of batsmen (e.g. Jadeja against Waqar). Bhajji could have been hit too but there is (and I have said it before) no sound cricketing reason behind Dhoni’s decision. Your logic is like “Healthy people who have never smoked die from cancer, so why should I not smoke?” Losing isnt the problem. Not exercising due cricketing diligence is.

  62. 1. let me appreciate your acceptance of being old :).
    2. Jadeja was not someone you can put in category of “most mediocre of batsmen”
    3. coming to point, there could have been reasons you and I do not know. Who knows, bhajji showed his reluctacne to bowl the last over (he didnt look very confident in doing so in t20WC or Kapil did not look very confident in bowlin last over in hero cup semi final in 1993 – that is what i have read). Our problem is not who did or did not bowl the last over. problem lies in letting the advantage get away – both against england and africa while batting. I do not think, with the kind of bowlers we have, bowling did all that bad job in stretching the match that much.
    4. There is no point discussing on that last over. At the end of the day, captain goes by his hunch – driven by multiple factors e.g. confidence in bowler etc and not just only due cricketing diligence
    5. do not write India off till we are actually out. such is the format of the tournament taht you cannot write off anyone.

  63. “Nehra has bowled the final over for India four times in his career, the two now forgotten instances being Karachi, the first ODI of the electric 2004 India-Pakistan series and against West Indies in a 2005 tri-series in Colombo, which took India to the final. Nagpur was the first time India lost. Before the World Cup he has taken 73 wickets (62 in ODIs and 13 in Twenty20s) since his comeback into the Indian team in June 2009.”
    – Sharda Ugra, cricinfo.com

    Do you still feel there was no sound cricketing reason for the final over given to Nehra, GB?

  64. @nirvana demon
    to add to your point, Nehra had bowled perfect yorkers. But what he did not know was that earth had shifted its axis of rotation a day before the match. so his calculations went wrong and yorkers turned into lenght balls. was it his fault that nobody informed him? what is kirsten kaku doing???

  65. Nirvana Demon,

    Manoj Prabhakar once bowled three perfect yorkers in Pakistan in one over, two of which accounted for spectacular bowled outs. Do you feel there is a cricketing reason for why he should not have been selected this time?

    Four times in his career, of which two are in 2004 and 2005. Seriously? And that distant history (even 2009 is distant history in today’s cricket world…in 2009 Yuvi was at the height of his powers) overrides the fact that Nehra had been in that match bowled badly and was “cold” having last bowled in the 36th over whereas a far better bowler ON THAT DAY (as attested to by 5 runs in last over and 3 wickets) who was warmed up was not given the final over. Seriously? That’s all you can come up with?

    Anon,

    I never wrote India off. Yes India can still win three matches. By the way when you dont think Jadeja was a mediocre batsman in comparison to Waqar and then go off on wildly speculative theories as to how Bhajji didnt want to bowl (which is easier for you to believe than to accept that Dhoni’s captaincy is screwed up) I detect zombie-istic fanboyism for Mr. Youngistan. Please be having Pepsi.

  66. “By the way when you dont think Jadeja was a mediocre batsman in comparison to Waqar”
    so quality of a batsman is decided by the bowler he is facing – if one over he is facing waqar, he is mediocre. next over he faces aamir sohail, he becomes excellent. Wow…

    SMG never average more than 30 whenever windies had their complete attack. was he mediocre?
    by that yardstick, ganguly will be one of the most mediocre batsmen…you can check your stats if you wish to.

    tell me, when did you last see bhajji bowling a last over for India? may be t20 world cup in England, where he started with 5 wides. and that was 1st innings.

    what you will chose..someone who has done it before but has not been at his best in that match or someone who is bolwing decently but has never done it before….both have equal chances of success and failure?

    biggest reason for loss is 29/9. last over is an unnecessarily hyped up issue. you are hellbent on this becasue you want to prove a point – captaincy is screwed up hence dhoni should be sacked and fired.

  67. Dudes, chill! This is GB’s blog and he can/may write whatever he wishes. Subscribing to his views are not compulsory for the readers. How does it matter if we think differently? We don’t need to prove whose dick is bigger. So, guys, like I said, cool down and continue reading my blog. 😀

    P.S: Btw, there has actually been a spike in my blog hits over the last couple of days.

  68. anon,

    i agree 29/9 is the biggest reason.but it could have been avoided had bhajji bowled.he,munaf and zaheer bowled overs 40 to 49 and were with the ‘flow’ and then suddenly nehra came from nowhere.IMO a big big mistake

  69. What I like about this blog is the “bong” part. Though havent read much except this post Im guessing this blog stays true to its central theme which Im guessing is bongness.

    From a Captain who has lead a bunch of losers (for the last 20 years) to the number one ranking in tests, won them their worst real tournament win in 25 years, an IPL championship, one Champions trophy and currently playing his first world cup as captain, what a bong would learn is to make a quick judgement call on a few bad decisions (assuming it was one) made in a close match. Unfortunately there is no way for a bong to know that even for the greatest of leaders even 7/10 judgement calls being correct is enough.

    It must be remembered a bong always moves to the wrong decision doing heavy thinking. Bengal had hardly to do anything from 1947 to be among the richest states in India but they thought real hard and did some high fundae mathematics and economics and turned it into amongst the poorest state in India. This ofcourse helps in winning the lifetime oscar award etc. Pretty brilliant.

    Interestingly if a spinner harbhajan would have been chosen and helped finish of the match in fewer balls a bong would quote statistics that 95% of matches won by the bowling team in the last over never used a spinner and continued to masturbate as usual.

    Good luck to the desi readers who quite clearly have found a matching intellect.

  70. @Angrezee,

    of course, it takes a bong to understand a bong 🙂
    let me defend gb by saying that he did not analyze the complete career of dhoni. a mistake is a mistake and it should be analyed as it is. that is what is done in the post. this is just one way to let your frustrations on the defeat get over.
    the relation to bengal is uncalled for. there are enough bongs around the world to disprove your point. and of course there are enought reasons to justify why bongs are little to blame for what happened post-independence. take the partition for an example.


    regards,
    Anupam

  71. Hi GreatBong,

    Like always, great analysis. Kudos.
    I think this “attitude” is not to be crticized today, it’s always been there. We have loved it. Admired it.
    If only Joginder sharma had a not-so-very good day. If only Misbah had that little bit of Allah-luck. We might not even have this chance to analyse in this depth. We all know It happens.
    If you do some cric-info data analysis: Nehra has been our second best successful bowler in slog overs ( Barring Zahir who had Klusener left clueless in last overs…when he had heaviest of bats and surest of shots).
    Most of us were betting for it. Nehra looked right decision.
    In fact most of the decisions didn’t look that bad at the time they were taken….but damn cricket…uncertainty….and proves again that analyst are there only to justify the decisions taken by (successful) leaders at gut level.
    Lot of blood and bath still left in this WC….I look forward for your unique analysis…

  72. Anon,

    Try as hard as you may, you will never get a proper reply from ‘God’. He knows the best. He will never accept his wrongdoing. Just read his preWC analysis. Just read his Sanjay Manjeraker’s article (not that I am fond of SM, but as one comment pointed out the similarity between him and Dada.. and then we had the God’s cpmplete silence’

  73. GreatBong
    I think you’ve never played cricket in your life time. Otherwise, you’ll never come up with such harsh comments on Dhoni and Nehra. You believe or not, it’s Dhoni during whose time, Indian cricket scenario improves. otherwise, there’s a time when tendulkar got out, we used to switched off the Television. But nowadays this doesn’t happen. No doubt, 29/9 is really a blunder by the Indian batsmen, but this is not happening on a regular basis. Sometimes overconfidence digs one’s own grave in cricket and the same thing happened to Indian team also that day. But it does not mean that Dhoni is responsible for all of this. You know we Indians are basically like to give expert comment on everything. So, whenever India loses a match, we forgot everything prior to that and start to give expert comments on that particular defeat.
    one more thing, you told that India had to fight hard to defeat minnows in two games. But haven’t you seen yet that due to those minnows only Group B has no clear Quarter Finalist till now except SA. It’s easy to criticize somebody. But it is not always fair. Just sit down and think for a while.

  74. @afzal

    “everybody should have their own opinion, but it should remain as opinion only, but not decision.”

    Correct. The blog content is GB’s opinion. We may agree with some and disagree with others. Surely, you won’t deride him for expressing his opinion.

  75. anyone who thinks india lost the match because nehra bowled the last over is an idiot. India had already lost the match in the 1st inning with its pathetic middle order batting.

    infact its a good thing india didn’t fluke win this match, bcoz that wud’ve masked the incomptence of the batsmen to a certain extent.

  76. “the official drink of the “phir se galti se mistake ho gya” shot”-Wah GB dil kya post hai..dil garden garden ho gaya..keep writing more on the world cup.

  77. I agree with GB… Jadeja was one hell of a MEDIOCRE batsmen, over rated to the hilt.. got lucky with one Waqar over and became an over night hero. I supported him initially but when he repeatedly failed to the likes of Donald and Schultz against South Africa in test series, i lost hope.. he was a decent hitter and mediocre batting talent given the high indian standards..

    Dhoni sometimes goes overboard with his post match interviews, the reason he gave in that WC final was itself a wee bit dumb, Jogi was a young bowler who has a lot to prove and so i gave him the final over… lol, if hez a young bowler who shows at least 20% talent as a waqar or waseem, and 75% of a srinath, you can take that gamble, all he does is goes there and bowls please hit me balls, it was sheer destiny and justice that misbah’s mind *arted and he tried that shot, and more importantly sree held making a simple catch look so tough..
    You guys ve to understand one thing, MSD got few things correct, doesn’t mean he has to get everything right all the time, so when fingers are pointed, dont defend him defying cricketing logic, if done so, there wouldn’t be much of a difference between we and our not so friendly neighbors..

  78. @Arvind: As far as I remember, I reason Dhoni gave was that Harbhajan didn’t felt very confident of bowling the last over. The reason been that Misbah scroed heavily against him in his previous over i.e. the 18th over. Hence Dhoni gave it to Joginder. Also, Joginder had bowled the last over against Australia nicely and hence dhoni had a confidence in him.

  79. @ Arvind: Had I read this before world cup I would have disagreed. Highly.
    No one is ever correct. But he keeps on trying to correct things, taking risks, experimenting in right ways that has brought results.( I want to forget westindian pitches though)
    But I was shocked during England’s match, he was so unlike Dhoni.
    He should be more criticised for that….but all you bold guys put it off till end…. the MSD is losing his cool….if not on the ground….before press….NOT GOOD….for anyone.
    Let’s hope good.
    GB you listening….you are not just any writer….you have a databse of readers….GB sized database….

  80. @ Eager Reader (Anupam)
    “of course there are enought reasons to justify why bongs are little to blame for what happened post-independence. take the partition for an example.”

    Are you saying that Bengalis are not responsible for partition? Or what happened post-partition?

    Do check out the online book in the web-URL linked to my name (above) and let me know …

  81. @ eager reader
    “….why bongs are little to blame for what happened post-independence. take the partition for an example.”

    The Punjabi Hindu/Sikh and the Bong (Hindu) lost the most in the partition. They lost 2/3rd of their land to Islamic aggressors.

    The Sindhi (Hindus) are the only ones who lost more than these two linguistic groups (Sindhis lost everything to islam).

    How exactly are Bongs responsible for Partition?

  82. hmm… I dint say that was the only reason, but he did weave in the young bowler who has a lot to prove concept to his decision, all fairness he was just making a victory lap of a decision that came good, and now we all see that on some dumb commercial as well..

    MSD should understand that his loyalists like Raina Chawla RP Singh to name a few are struggling to find a place even in the starting 11; he should also realize that he should come at 6 or 7 and not above in batting order as the other 5 are supremely talented and much more superior to him sans the cool head and game finishing ability sometimes;

    and some one much more above, angreez i guess, Indian cricket was not reborn with the T20 WC triumph in 2007, infact it lost the next two additions of the same, the longer the game the better it suits for Team India, these resurrections from the death started way back in the early 2ks with the epic eden win coming to mind and closely followed by the Adelaide triumph in 2003-4 series and the subsequent overseas win against pak..

    Men in blue were always a formidable team at home, but the emergence and evolution of the fab 4 and sometimes 5 is what took team India to the summit, and it was helped by no nonsense leaders like MSD and before him Anil Kumble..

  83. Well the comments section here has evolved on to some rather unnecessary mud slinging towards bongs. Well, let me try my best to change the topic and perhaps get a solution to a dilemma I have been facing for the past couple of weeks.

    Dr. Ray, I have been following this blog for the past 3 years or so and your professional work for the past 2 years. I have been admitted to the masters program (CS) at Stony Brook along with some other top schools ( which I can’t afford 😦 ). How good is the program at Suny SB ( I know you received your PhD from there). I would love to work with Dr. Skeina. I realise that you know nothing about me, but still what would you say about the program.

    Some folks on the comments section needs to calm down. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, yes. But stop abusing an entire community. Relax folks.

  84. GradSchoolApplicant,

    There is nothing “absolute” about any grad school program. When you say how good is the grad program, the question is “in comparison to what?” If for instance you have an admit with schol to both Stanford and SUNYSB I would say Stanford definitely ! I left SUNYSB in 2004 and I have heard it has made a lot of positive progress since then. Professor Skiena is a lovely, easy-going person and has varied research interests, from computational biology to finance to hard-core theory and my impressions, based on the limited interactions I had with him, were positive. If you have further questions, please email me. My address is in the Contact Tab. Thank you,

  85. Quarter finals
    ————–
    Pakistan v West Indies – Mirpur
    Australia v India – Ahmedabad (March 24)

    New Zealand v South Africa – Mirpur
    Sri Lanka v England – Colombo (March 26)

    Semi finals
    ————–
    Pakistan v India
    Sri Lanka v South Africa

    Finals
    ——
    India vs South Africa

    Winner
    ——
    Whoever bowls first

  86. I can see GB writing a great piece on Ind vs WI while it is underway now. Hope he doesn’t do that as that would mean that a lot of new lessons would still to be learnt. India so far has not really delivered against the top teams in the group stages. Now in the knock out stages they wouldn’t have a safety net of associate countries. They need to get their acts together and perform in all the aspects of the game,as simple as that. Hope their much criticised bowling and fielding improves in this game as their batting has let them down. Hope they find a much needed motivation with a thumping win against the Windies. Against Australia they would perhaps need that motivation the most.

  87. we are improving .. from 29/9 to 50/7 … from an average of 3.22 per wicket to around 7.14 per wicket… an increase of more than 200 % [:P] .. plus our consistency we have not batted out the entire 50 overs despite the solid foundation laid…. we are definately going the distance and win the cup …:P

  88. I thought that game was ours when Zaheer bowled a superb 49th over and really expected Bhajji to bowl. But Nehra spoilt it and we lost it !

    Past should be forgotten. So leave it aside.

    Talking about today’s match (India v/s WI). At this time India are way too behind in the game. I personally think that India are trying to loose the game ti avoid the inform Aussies(even though they lost their previous game)

  89. @Karthik
    avoid Australia and play Sri Lanka? I really hope they aren’t thinking this. Malinga/Murali and will ensure an Indian collapse (even if the openers give them a decent start) and Sanga will ensure SL reaches the target.
    Here i was hoping India would at least reach the final!

  90. to prove me wrong, they are playing better. At present the control has come back to Indians as the Windies lose their 7th wicket.

    @ sabalil, me too wish them to be in the finals playing rather South Africa or Paakistan

  91. GB will be so desperately hoping that India doesn’t win the cup….because if it does, he will have to eat his words, millions of them…and his chamcha’s (like sabalil’s ) words…billions….

  92. Quarter-final preview please! Mouth-watering matches on offer. The situation now is similar to one between two orgasms, when you relax and relive the joy of cuming and kiss the girl. A bigger orgasm, the knock-out stage, followed by mega orgasm semis and maha-orgasm finals awaits. So manya dramas, stories, sub-plots.

  93. am glad I said what I did about Yuvi… he needs a spare from all the bashing he gets, hez won us game we never even have dreamt of winning a decade ago..

    on a naughty note, at least for the fact that he has been Dada’s prodigy, spare him from the bongbash… (strictly lol)

  94. i got the South Africa vs New Zealand wrong. Should have known they’d choke at some point. But got India vs Australia, Pakistan vs WI, India vs Pakistan and the “whoever bowls first” bit right for the final.

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