AR Hemant

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Somewhat of a contrarian.

Blog Posts by AR Hemant

  • Don’t start the party yet

    India’s 2-0 win masks their Test inadequacies. Here are 4 issues they must fix


    Indian cricket had a happy fortnight. The youth team won the World Cup. The senior team crushed New Zealand, thanks to a long-awaited revival of its spin department. Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha combined to take 31 out of the 40 Kiwi wickets in the series. It was a nod to the last decade when Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh would decimate visiting sides.

    Runs for Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara also brought relief. It was also heartening to see them trying to be their own persons, expressing themselves in their own style instead of being pigeon-holed into the roles played by the recently-retired greats. 

    But don’t let the 2-0 score-line fool you into believing that all’s well with the Indian squad. Beating a depleted team on the dry wickets at home is one thing; being ready for tougher challengers like South Africa and Australia quite another.

    The new selection committee will be named in a few days. We have a list of issues we hope they can take head-on instead of the Read More »from Don’t start the party yet
  • Spiritual hogwash

    The spirit of cricket should stop interfering with its laws.

    Kartik's mankading this week raises questions about the relevance of aged notions. Exhibit A

    Pepsi knows a thing or two about the zeitgeist. Their latest television commercial shows youth icon Ranbir Kapoor harassing MS Dhoni. Ranbir instructs the India captain to lose his good manners at the World Twenty20. “Yeh T20 hai, boss*,” he says. “Yeh na tameez se khela jata hai, na tameez se dekha jaata hai.”

    It’s unclear if Pepsi formed this cringeworthy opinion by watching only those games that Munaf Patel has played. But they are probably right in suggesting that the game has changed since the time the old fogies at Marylebone Cricket Club defined the Spirit of Cricket. Which brings us to...

    Exhibit B

    At the U-19 World Cup recently, Bangladesh’s Soumya Sarkar mankaded Australia’s Jimmy Pierson. Australia asked Bangladesh to reconsider their appeal. Bangladesh didn’t budge. They had a quarterfinal to win. Australia's coach Stuart Law showed his progressive outlook by not whinging about cricket’s spirit being violated by the run-out. “It is in the laws of cricket... it is

    Read More »from Spiritual hogwash
  • Surprise, surprise - it's raining in Hyderabad

    Highlights of Day 3 in the Hyderabad Test


    Dark clouds over Uppal.

    SURPRISE, SURPRISE!

    There’s a reason why there had never been a Test match in India in August. It rains in August! Sadly, this didn’t occur to the wise men running cricket in India and New Zealand. After a rain-free first day in Hyderabad, the monsoonal downpours have interrupted proceedings thrice. Day 2 got off to a delayed start and so did Day 3. The day ended prematurely with heavy downpours in the evening session. Showers are expected in Hyderabad the next two days. In Bangalore, the venue of the second Test, has had heavy showers this week too. One hopes the cricket board doesn’t repeat this organisational buffoonery.

    ‘LIKE SHOOTING FISH IN A BARREL’

    It means doing something ridiculously easy. Discovery Channel recently decided to put this idiom to test. They put some fish in a barrel and shot them. They discovered they didn’t even need to hit the fish. The bullets entering the water created shockwaves that made the fish belly-upRead More »from Surprise, surprise - it's raining in Hyderabad
  • Hyderabad Test: An Indian first and opening woes

    Highlights of the first day's play between India and New Zealand

    It's that shot again. Scores | Images | Day 1 Report

    AN 'AUGUST' OCCASION  


    When was the last time a Test match was played in August in India? You’d have to go back to 1933 searching for this elusive fixture and you still won’t find it because the short answer to that question is ‘never’. When it was announced, this series tweening India’s two trips to Sri Lanka seemed odd. After all this is the rainy season.

    The Indian cricket season typically begins with the monsoon waning towards September. The earliest a Test match has been played in India was in 1979 when Australia played in Chennai on September 11. To find the last instance of a September Test series in India, you’d have to go to the tied Test of 1986. But at the moment there’s a drought-like situation in India, and the southern parts of India (which are hosting these fixtures) tend not to receive heavy rains at this time of the year. The clouds may give these games a miss after all.

    THE LOST TOSS

    The toss was a blow to Ross Taylor. He’s playing four

    Read More »from Hyderabad Test: An Indian first and opening woes
  • The other miracle at Lord’s

    10 years later, India’s NatWest Trophy win still gets Indian fans teary-eyed with joy. Here’s why.


    It was late in the evening at Lord’s. The shadows on the field were growing longer. Nasser Hussain’s gang crowded the ring. They had to stop the single. Through the course of the day, Hussain had experienced the whole spectrum of emotions. He had begun the game with doubts over his abilities as England’s one-down batsman. With some luck, he scrapped to his only hundred in one-day cricket – and by god, it was an ugly hundred. It had play-and-misses, hits that fell just short of the grasp of Indian fielders and fortuitous umpiring calls. Hussain celebrated the hundred defiantly. He drew the attention of the press box members to the number on his jersey. It said ‘3’. Little did he know that would also be the number of times he would bat again in that position.

    Hussain must have felt he and Marcus Trescothick had done enough to ensure an England win. His relief grew with India’s swift collapse following a stirring riposte by Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag. But it wasn’t Hussain’s day.

    Read More »from The other miracle at Lord’s
  • The choosy patriot

    How are Tendulkar's selective appearances helping rebuild the Indian team?

    Tendulkar has opted out of another tour, again.

    For a fortnight, players of the Indian team have been arriving at Bangalore’s National Cricket Academy one by one. They’re here to shed holiday flab and get ready for the arduous cricket schedule ahead. One player not expected for the training sessions was Sachin Tendulkar, who, having completed his hundredth hundred and appearing for Mumbai Indians in IPL, was vacationing. This hinted at his possible sitting out of the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.

    On Wednesday, announcing the Indian squad for the tour, chairman of selectors Krishnamachari Srikkanth said, “Sachin is not available (for selection). He must be aiming for the England and Australia series later this season.” Since Srikkanth didn’t mention any health issues, it can be safely assumed Tendulkar is fit, but wants to extend his break. Although he is expected to play New Zealand in a home series in August, a trip to the Emerald Isle, it appears, ranks below IPL duties for the little master.

    Now that he has skipped the tour, let’s

    Read More »from The choosy patriot
  • A warrior awaited

    Harbhajan Singh turned 32 today. Is he relevant to India’s cricketing future?


    “Harbhajan Singh is a fighter.”


    — MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Jonty Rhodes, Ravi Shastri, Suresh Raina, Davinder Arora and many others.

    During the IPL, the running joke was that the BCCI’s cash benefit for ex-players should have been extended to Harbhajan Singh. It’s been nearly a year since he lost his place in the Indian team. Harbhajan had it coming. In the months preceding his ouster, he had let lesser bowlers outshine him. Most notable was Yuvraj Singh, who fronted India’s spin attack at the World Cup beautifully despite the developing symptoms of cancer.

    Keen to overlook his failings, Harbhajan’s supporters had been in the thrall of his reputation. It seemed the feisty sardar himself was beginning to buy into his hype. “I know I am good enough, and that's why I have taken 400 wickets,” he had said last year. With his poor performances, his reputation corroded. On the tour of England, he was axed on the pretext of an injury.

    In the last 12 months, there’s been no shortage of sympathetic

    Read More »from A warrior awaited
  • The Style Evolution of Kevin Pietersen

    After his days of blond bleaches, blue streaks, skunk cuts and tattoos, the English batsman has settled for the sedate close crop. As he celebrates his 32nd birthday today, here's a look at his changing style over the years.

    After his days of blond bleaches, blue streaks, skunk cuts and tattoos, the English batsman has settled for the sedate close crop. As he celebrates his 32nd birthday today, here's a look at his changing style over the years.

  • IPL5 final highlights: The costly no-ball, Bisla's heroics and more

    Scores | Match report | Action in images | IPL5 | Preview | Road to the final

    The teams at the start of the game.

    The Toss


    Chennai Super Kings have been in four IPL finals, and they've batted first each time. The thread connecting the four games is Chennai's solid batting performance — particularly in the 2011 final when they decimated Bangalore on a slow pitch at the Chidambaram Stadium.

    The title holders looked to repeat that template — post a big score, then asphyxiate the opposition with their three front-line spinners. Dhoni said that with the grass in the wicket, it was not expected to turn much. Chennai were unchanged while Kolkata Knight Riders brought in Manvinder Bisla in place of Brendon McCullum who sat out due to L Balaji's hamstring injury.

    Chennai's Strong Start

    Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay know when to turn it on. They had put last year's final beyond Chennai with a hell-raising 159 run stand. Here they had owned Kolkata's bowlers in the six overs of fielding restriction.

    Shakib Al Hasan shared the new ball

    Read More »from IPL5 final highlights: The costly no-ball, Bisla's heroics and more
  • Gayle and Kohli show keeps Bangalore's title hunt alive

    Bangalore beat Delhi by 21 runs; Gayle smashes 13 sixes in his unbeaten 128.

    Scores | Action images | IPL5 | Points table

    Gayle and Kohli added 204 unbeaten runs, a new T20 record.

    Chris Gayle is a man in desperate need of a challenge. Bowlers in T20 competitions around the world have failed to provide him one. Back home in the Caribbean, on the bouncy wickets of Australia or the flat ones in Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, and most of all in the IPL, the big Jamaican has butchered one attack after another. It’s hard to fathom what bowlers have been doing wrong.

    His run-scoring has been formulaic: settle down, see off the new ball, let the weaker bowlers come on, turn off Bruce Banner, turn on Hulk, go smash. That’s exactly what happened today.

    Briefly, Umesh Yadav seemed to have found the magic mantra to keep Gayle quiet. Yadav bowled short of length around off-stump, swinging away from the left-hander. The unthinkable happened: Gayle played a maiden over. It has got to be one of the bowling moments of the tournament.

    Gayle took his time. He moved to 10 off 17 balls. He hit a couple of sixes over long-on, reached 38 in 34.

    Read More »from Gayle and Kohli show keeps Bangalore's title hunt alive

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