Partab Ramchand

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Blog Posts by Partab Ramchand

  • Onus is on the star studded batting line-up

    As a staunch believer in India's batting might I admit I am baffled by the defeat at Galle. What is even more perplexing is that Sri Lanka won by ten wickets with a day to spare following the second day's washout.

     

    I am well aware that Sri Lanka at home are a difficult side to beat and I also know that India has won three Tests to Sri Lanka's five in matches played in the island nation and that India has lost the last two contests away in 2001 and 2008. But then, India were not the No 1 Test playing nation.

     

    I always trace India's climb to the top which they attained last year following a series of fine performances to the memorable victory over Australia at Kolkata in 2001. For me that match underlined India's batting strength, for after following on they scored 657 for seven declared, thanks mainly to the record 376-run fifth wicket partnership between Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.

     

    Since then, Indian batting has frequently touched dizzy heights and going into the Galle Test we

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  • Captain is supposed to lead by example

    "He is a nice lad but someone should tell him that he can't hit every ball" was Geoff Boycott's sagely advice to Shahid Afridi a few years ago. Obviously, the charismatic, swashbuckling Afridi did not agree. He felt he could hit a six or a four every ball. That was his approach to batting anyway, but while this may be good for Twenty20 or ODIs, you cannot get away with such tactics in cricket's traditional format. 

     

    Michael Holding on TV described Afridi's four ball two runs at Lord's in the first Test against Australia the other day as "four balls of foolishness". It's difficult not to agree with Holding. Test cricket cries out for the age old qualities of dedication, determination and concentration especially when your side is in a grim situation.

     

    Just consider the scenario at Lord's when Afridi walked in. Pakistan were chasing an unlikely victory target of 440 - the highest fourth innings chase in Test history - when Afridi entered at 227 for five.

     

    The cricketing world knows

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  • Team India has the batting to combat any situation

    The most lustrous batting line up in the world must rise up to its lofty stature in the first Test at Galle starting on Sunday. Time and again, the super quintet (or sometimes a round half a dozen) has pulled off the most amazing of feats to over up for the weaker aspect of Indian cricket – the bowling.

     

    In recent times, however, with the bowling rising to the occasion and batting living up to its reputation the Indian team has touched dizzy heights with the result that it is perched at the No.1 spot in the ICC Test rankings.

     

    How many times in the history of Test cricket could a team have had the first four boasting of an average of fifty plus and a fifth who has an average in the mid 40s? The class, skill and experience of this Indian batting line up is hard to beat, and even after conceding that the Sri Lankan batting line up too has notched up many notable feats, particularly in recent years and at home, there is no denying that the Indian batting is without peer in the game

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  • Murali is nothing short of a magician

    Will he be remembered as a contender for the title of greatest spinner of all time or for being the most controversial cricketer of the modern age, thanks to his weird bent arm bowling action? I suppose it will be a matter of opinion for followers of the game worldwide which is not surprising, considering the fact that Muthiah Muralidaran divided the cricketing world for almost two decades.

     

    One thing, however, must immediately be said in his favour. Even as he takes his bow he is supremely confident for he has announced that he will play only one more Test and he still requires eight scalps to be the first bowler to scale the 800-wicket mark. It was always on the cards that Murali's career was never going to be controversy free, a fact he readily accepted. His action was never going to satisfy the purists and his detractors were legion.

     

    I admit that I wince at the moment the ball leaves his hand but then I am fascinated by the things that ball does once it has left Murali's

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  • Pathan is still the best bet

    For a long while now, we have bemoaning the lack of a genuine all-rounder in the Indian team. Manoj Prabhakar was probably the last of the ubiquitous breed and he played his last international game in 1996. Since then, Ajit Agarkar and Sunil Joshi briefly dropped hints that they could be the utility men Indian cricket was desperately searching for. But they only flattered to deceive.

     

    Then, in the new millennium, burst upon the scene Irfan Pathan and after showing his bowling prowess he developed his batting and starting emerging as the answer to our prayers for a genuine all rounder. Going in lower down the order the aggressive left hander played a number of valuable knocks besides being a swing bowler who could make the ball talk.

     

    The accolades came thick and fast. The brightest among the new gems unearthed by India. The most promising all-round prospect since Kapil Dev. The most hostile left arm pace bowler in the history of Indian cricket. He has it in him to become another

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  • The record is against the tourists

    It is obvious that a good deal of thinking and planning has gone into the selection of the Indian Test squad for the tour of Sri Lanka. If you look closely, Kris Srikkanth and his team has chosen what is expected to be the first eleven and then has added one player for each of five specialist slots – opening batsman, middle order batsman, wicket keeper, pace bowler and spinner.

     

    Murali Vijay is the third opener in the side which will under normal circumstances have Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir opening the batting. In the middle order the first choices are Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh so Suresh Raina gets in as a substitute to cover up for any injury.

     

    MS Dhoni has Wriddhiman Saha as his deputy, while S Sreesanth will be on stand by duty in case of injury (or lack of form) to Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma. Harbhajan Singh is the spin bowling certainty and will have the support of either Amit Mishra or Pragyan Ojha. Viewed like this, it can be

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  • It was a pretty laudable feat

    It is never easy to beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka. This is akin to getting the better of India in their own backyard for both these teams have formidable records at home. The very fact that before the just concluded tournament, every time the Asia Cup has been held in Sri Lanka, the hosts have won bears testimony to the fact that they are almost unbeatable in familiar conditions.

     

    Under the circumstances, it was a pretty laudable feat for the Indians to defeat Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup final and in the process end a 15-year-old drought. India have now won the Asia Cup five times to Sri Lanka's four, while Pakistan have emerged triumphant once.

     

    The most heartening aspect of the victory in the title clash was that the bowlers largely shaped it. India's strength lies in its batting and quite often the bowlers have let the side down after a huge total has been put up on the board.

     

    A target of 269 under the lights at Dambulla was never going to be easy but few would have expected such

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  • Will the magic be re-created?

    Will the magic of June 25, 1983 be re-created in Indian cricket? The lustre over India's only ODI World Cup victory glows more and more with the passing of each year.

     

    Six editions have since gone by and the closest the Indian team has come repeating the feat of 'Kapil Dev's team was in South Africa in 2003, when Sourav Ganguly and his men made it to the title round.

     

    But as the saying goes, second best is still a loser, and to be candid the Indians were so badly outplayed by Ricky Ponting and his all conquering squad that there was never any chance of winning.

     

    Since it continues to be an only triumph, there is a tendency to dismiss the 1983 World Cup victory as a fluke but that will be unfair to Kapil's Devils as they were christened by a suitably impressed British media. After all, the Indians defeated the two-time champion West Indies not once but twice and added the in form England's scalp for good measure.

     

    There's no doubt there was something positive about that triumph.

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  • Indo-Pak encounter retains its special aura

    There has always been hype about encounters involving India and Pakistan. "Arch rivals", "old foes" and other such cliches give the games an edge over matches played by other teams - even when these are against India or Pakistan - as far as publicity is concerned.

     

    All the same, I must say that on numerous occasions the games have matched the hype and build up and the one at Dambulla on Saturday was the latest in a long line of memorable finishes.

     

    Whether it is Tests, ODIs or Twenty20 India vs Pakistan is the marquee clash, the one match-up in world cricket that can draw a crowd anytime and anywhere, can attract the attention of sponsors to an unimaginable extent and can generate the kind of TV viewership that probably nothing in the sport can.

     

    Wisden has noted that besides a crammed stadium, a TV audience implausibly guesstimated at a billion followed the India - Pakistan match in the 2003 World Cup. It was not unexpectedly the tournament's most feverishly talked-up match and

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  • Jaidev Unadkat has it in him

    As one who has witnessed at close quarters the farce that was the Indian opening bowling in the sixties and early seventies, I marvel at the strength and variety of the pace attack these days. There is virtually an embarrassment of riches and some forty years ago, one would never have thought that the day would come when that phrase could be used to describe the Indian fast bowling scenario.

     

    There are any number of worthy contenders for the slots in all formats of the game - Test, one day or Twenty20. At the moment Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra are the front runners but able support is ready in the form of Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, RP Singh, Irfan Pathan, S Sreesanth and Munaf Patel.

     

    Then there are the younger claimants in Ashok Dinda, Vinay Kumar, Abimanyu Mithan and others to make the happy picture complete. Ajit Agarkar has surely played his last match for India while the likes of VRV Singh and Laxmipathy Balaji who played for India till not too long ago are now virtually

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