AR Hemant

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Somewhat of a contrarian.

Blog Posts by AR Hemant

  • Why Nehra bowled the last over

    When was the last time MS Dhoni trusted a spinner to finish off a tight ODI or T20I? There's a simple, one-word answer to that: never.

     

    Ever since he became India's captain in the 2007 World T20, Dhoni has always turned to a seamer to do the job. Most times, he has got it right.

     

    From Joginder Sharma's over in the T20 final against Pakistan, to Irfan Pathan's cup-winning bowling in Brisbane, to all the times when Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra have been called to do the job, there are enough instances to show why Dhoni trusts his seamers.

     

    The last two instances, however, have backfired.

     

    Munaf Patel conceded a six to Ajmal Shahzad in the Bangalore ODI which ended in a tie. Similarly, Nehra conceded the six to Robin Peterson, showing their inability to produce yorkers when it matters.

     

    The following lists show instances in ODIs and T20Is when India have gone into the final over with the mathematical possibility of all three results.

     

    You could exclude the Ravindra Jadeja instance

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  • Why Cricket Will Never Have Fool-proof Technology

    In 2009, Rafael Nadal was at his wits' end in a match against Mikhail Youzhny. The Spaniard had seen a shot from the Russian go out. Hawk-eye was used and the replay showed the ball touching the line, ruling the point in Youzhny's favour.

     

    Nadal reacted in disgust. "The mark of the ball was still on court and it was outside. But in the challenge it was in, so that's unbelievable," he said. "The Hawk Eye system is not perfect. I told the chair umpire: 'Look, the ball is out' and he said: 'I know'."

     

    Two years later, cricket players and fans are still arguing over the usefulness of technology, UDRS (in one of those humorous asides, the 'U' has been dropped by the ICC in order not to hurt the ego of the umpires) and the enforcement of laws. The fire has been further fanned by the different application of LBW laws in three similar cases where Ian Bell was ruled not out, and Elton Chigumbura and Alex Cusack out.

     

    An aside: Nadal and Federer have gotten away with calling the ATP and its

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  • Bangalore Diary

    The World Cup has made cricket fans do some strange things, but this is something else.

    Strolling down the road from the Chinnaswamy Stadium towards Hard Rock Café, you can spot an oddity — a large scoreboard that is not inside a cricket stadium but at a junction on the city's busiest street.

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  • Eye on weather, India play England

    As Bangalore gets ready for Sunday's India-England match, there are doubts if the rain clouds will stay away. Saturday remained overcast for the best part; several parts of the city saw drizzles and there's a thunderstorm forecast for tonight. Friday had seen heavy rains but the playing area at the Chinnaswamy Stadium had recovered sufficiently from it today.

     

    A sunny Sunday has been forecast, but there's only one thing to be said about Bangalore's weather with certainty: it is fickle. After the transfer of this game from Kolkata and the uproar over availability of tickets, a weather disruption would upset the fans severely. From a cricket point of view, India captain MS Dhoni said it's not a situation he can prepare for.

     

    "There were times (during the recent tour) in South Africa where there was an 80 percent chance of rain, and it didn't rain at all," Dhoni said today. "But it did on days when there was a 20 percent chance predicted."

     

    "We will see the forecast for tomorrow and

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  • ‘Cricket is a sport which is detrimental for the Nation’

    What began with a tirade against cricket on an extreme-right Hindu website has now become a laugh-fest of epic proportions.

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  • How India Can Win the World Cup

    Is there such a thing as a template for good results in a World Cup? West Indies had exceptionally strong batting and vicious pace. In 1983, India batted deep and had many swing and seam bowlers. Australia in 1987 didn't lose a single tight match with their deceptive slow bowlers. Pakistan peaked late in 1992, but did it with steady build-ups and explosive finishes. Between 1999 and 2007, Australia were — well — Australia.

     

    Since Sri Lanka won the last Cup in the sub-continent, it is important to analyse how they did it. They had explosive openers, a middle order that didn't let the momentum slip and an army of slow bowlers. Compare that with India in 2011. After the two warm-up games, it seems MS Dhoni has finally found the template for World Cup success — dominating the middle overs.

     

    In ODIs, all teams look to make the most of the first and last 10 overs. But this World Cup will be won by the team that controls the middle overs and Powerplays the best. A month back in South

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  • Praveen out, but who is in?

    It’s official now. Praveen Kumar won’t play the 2011 World Cup. The swing bowler has failed to recover from the elbow injury he’d suffered in South Africa.

    He is expected to be replaced by Sreesanth, but more details are awaited. Sreesanth has undergone a fitness test at the National Cricket Academy.

    Praveen had been recuperating at Bangalore’s NCA and had also been sent to England for treatment. But the injury turned out to be more serious than thought earlier.

    The World Cup tournament rules allow the BCCI to request for a substitution. This request is referred to the event technical committee which includes Ratnakar Shetty, Anil Kumble, Sanjay Manjrekar, David Lloyd, etc and is headed by ICC’s general manager Dave Richardson.

    Sreesanth was brilliant in patches in the Tests against South Africa. He had also taken seven wickets in two ODIs against New Zealand. In recent outings, he’s shown a higher degree of control.

    Then, there’s Ishant Sharma who’d been a disappointment in the

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  • Is India’s glass half-full or empty?

     

     

    With the World Cup less than a month away, there could be two ways to look at India's disastrous batting in the ODIs series against South Africa. One, look at it in absolute terms - in which case, India's top order without Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gambhir was a train-wreck.

     

    Murali Vijay made 18 runs in three innings, and in five innings each Rohit Sharma 49 runs, Yuvraj Singh 91, Suresh Raina 111 and captain MS Dhoni 75. There were bright spots in Yusuf Pathan and Virat Kohli, but this isn't enough.

     

    With that unbelievable hundred in Centurion, Yusuf looks like the man whose time has come.And if that is so, he should no longer be pushed down to No. 7 while an off-colour Yuvraj continues to bat higher up. The lessons of the 2007 World Cup have been forgotten; India still judge players by their reputation rather than form.

     

    Let's not kid ourselves with Yuvraj's bowling, or even Harbhajan Singh's batting. Yuvraj needs to score runs, Harbhajan needs to strike out batsmen. Anything

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  • The strange story of Rajasthan

     

    Aakash Chopra was one in the motley group of cricketers who moved to Rajasthan this season. The former Delhi opener can't pin-point the exact moment when this bunch from different states and cultures came together — he calls it the "McDonald's moment", a la Chak De India — but one incident stands out in his memory.

     

    "We were playing in the Buchi Babu Tournament against Tamil Nadu," Chopra says. "The light had faded away, and it was a really tight game. Suddenly, Deepak Chahar decided he wanted to bowl. He grabbed the ball, wiped out the Tamil Nadu tail, and we won by five runs."

     

    It was one of the many incidents that united this motley bunch, which had cricketers who'd left their home states and their comfort zones, coming to a politically volatile cricketing set-up in Rajasthan. The turmoil may not have been incidental to the fact that Rajasthan took the wooden spoon in the Ranji Trophy Plate Division in the previous season.

     

    From being one of the lowest ranked domestic teams

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  • Who will be the new IPL captains?

    As the IPL auctions for 2011 come to an end, we cast a glance on the new line-ups, possible captaincy options, team spend and players retained.

    Some quick thoughts:

    Defending champs Chennai have retained an astonishing number of players, 10 11. The next best are Mumbai and Rajasthan with four.

    There's lots of noise about fans boycotting KKR at the Eden. They've got to realise Ganguly wasn't a KKR problem; the other nine teams didn't consider him either. It's clear there's a non-cricketing reason behind Ganguly's removal. He was the fourth highest run-maker in IPL 2010.

    On a whole, it is sad Ganguly waited to be shown the door. It's a lesson for Dravid and Laxman. Kumble played it smarter, withdrawing at the last minute from the auctions.

    Lara's exclusion wasn't surprising either. He's in no fitness for this level of cricket and seemed like he was only in it for the money. The ten teams showed him place, and rightly so.

    Delhi, one of the most consistent teams in the IPL, will have a

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