Partab Ramchand

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Blog Posts by Partab Ramchand

  • Taking stock at the halfway mark

    On the eve of the World Cup the bookies installed India
    as the favourites followed by Sri Lanka, Australia, South Africa, England and
    Pakistan. With just over half the matches having been played in the group stage
    one can say with some certainty that based on what we have seen there must be
    changes in that order.

     

    Though India are perched on top of pool B their showing
    has not been in keeping with the favourites tag. The two weak links - the
    bowling and the fielding - continue to be a cause for worry. There is a lot of
    speculation about the composition of the team before every match - should it be
    three seamers and one spinner or two seamers and two spinners, should the second
    spinner be Piyush Chawla or Ravichandran Ashwin, should India go in with five
    bowlers. The manner in which the Indian think tank has been planning it is
    unlikely that they will shift from the seven batsman policy. After all a team
    should always play to its strength and the batting has generally never let the

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  • Interesting few days ahead in the World Cup

    The conduct of the World Cup has taken a beating over the last few editions thanks to various factors ranging from the unsavoury (going on for too long in 2007), to the controversial (the political boycotts of certain venues by a couple of teams in 2003, the mishandling of the final in 2007) to the tragic (the death of Bob Woolmer in 2007). The downslide perhaps started with the desultory opening ceremony in England in 1999 but two weeks into the tenth edition of the biggest competition the game has to offer we are tempted to say that "all is well".

    Well, perhaps not all for the insipid fare provided by hopelessly lopsided matches involving the fancied teams and the minnows has stuck out like a sore thumb. But Ireland's sensational victory over England has given the World Cup a lot to look ahead to. Even as Haroon Lorgat came out with a suggestion that the 2015 World Cup be restricted to the ten top teams in world cricket the Netherlands notched up a point for the associate members by

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  • A discomforting thought

    How can a team listed as favourites to win the World Cup concede 621 runs in their first two matches? That is the worrying thought as the Indian campaign continues on its roller coaster ride, the ups being provided by the batting and the downs by the bowling and fielding.

     

    The words Shahid Afridi has used in lambasting his own team could well be used for the Indians too. "If we field like this we will return home long before we have planned" said the Pakistan captain mincing no words in describing the abysmal fielding standards. But going what we have seen so far the Indian cricketers are no better. For at least a couple of players it is a throwback to the bad old days when the fielders used to "escort the ball to the boundary."

     

    How can a team hope to win the World Cup with thin bowling resources and sub-standard fielding and faulty catching one wonders. The latter has always been a sadly neglected aspect of Indian cricket and while there has been some improvement in recent years

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  • Early trends in the 2011 World Cup

    These are early days yet in the World Cup but a few contours of what to expect in the coming weeks have already emerged.

    The statement of Haroon Lorgat the CEO of the ICC that the next World Cup in 2015 would be restricted to the ten Test playing nations has led to opinion being sharply divided on the issue. Past greats and present players have expressed view on the pros and cons of such a move and while there is no doubt that the minnows must be encouraged so that the ICC can achieve its goal of making the sport truly global it is also a fact that thanks to the presence of teams that do not really belong in biggest stage cricket can offer some of the matches become embarrassingly one sided.

    Predictably enough the associate members have reacted strongly but to be candid they have not done their case much good by going down meekly to the fancied teams. Kenya's no-show has come as a most disagreeable surprise coming as it does from a team that first attracted considerable attention with

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  • An encouraging start for India

    Based on facts India acquired the reputation of being slow starters in World Cup campaigns. In six out of nine editions from 1975 to 2007 Indian teams lost their opening encounters. Interestingly enough in the three remaining competitions when they won their first match they went on to emerge triumphant (1983), entered the semifinals (1996) and were finalists (2003). A happy augury indeed for MS Dhoni and his men! 

    But then there are other factors to feel encouraged about following the victory at Mirpur. It will be easy for the cynics to shrug off the result and say "oh, it was only
    against Bangladesh". For one thing it must be remained that Bangladesh are doughty opponents at home. Only recently they swept aside the challenge from New Zealand 4-0 and a few years ago they stunned India for the first of their two victories over the Asian giants the other of course being the famous triumph at the World Cup in 2007.

    There were more positives then negatives in the Indians' showing on

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  • Let the action begin!

    Cricket's summit meeting gets underway on Saturday and for the next six weeks there will be little work done in offices while discussions at homes and clubs, bus stops and railway stations will centre round the teams and their prospects as well as particular matches and players. Wherever one goes the talk will only be about the World Cup as people from eight to 80 analyze where which team went wrong and how the match was won and lost even as they discuss with considerable passion the merits and demerits of the players.

     

    The World Cup in the Indian sub-continent has the sort of effect on the population that nothing else can have. Triumphs and setbacks in other seemingly more important global events are shrugged aside and what matters is only what happens on the field of play. And the frenzied following and the post mortems will go on for an extended period for there are as many as 48 matches before the final at Mumbai on April 2.

     

    Some of us have a feeling of deja vu having traversed

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  • A pretty open World Cup

     

    Despite performing well below their reputation now and then India's record in the World Cup is not one to be scoffed at. Champions once, runners up on another occasion and twice semi-finalists India are behind only Australia, West Indies and Pakistan when it comes to overall standings. They have maintained their reputation as one of the leading teams in the game and currently enjoy the No.2 spot in the ICC ODI rankings.

     

    Based on this impressive record and enjoying home advantage is there any surprise that India are being installed as favourites even in what should be a hotly contested World Cup? Actually playing in your own backyard could be both an advantage and a disadvantage as the Indian team has discovered. Twice before in 1987 and 1996 playing before frenzied fan following and in familiar surroundings has not exactly helped as they were knocked out at the semi-final stage. Can the Indians go two better and lift the trophy this time? They also have a jinx to beat as only once

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  • Metamorphosis of the World Cup

     

    The World Cup has certainly evolved over the years and in many ways is indistinguishable from the first few editions. When one sees the rather hazy images of matches in the first two World Cup tournaments on television it is hard to imagine how things have changed over the last 30-odd years.

     

    Geoff Boycott and Mike Brearley opening the batting for England, Anshuman Gaekwad and Sunil Gavaskar going in first for India. These pairs would be nobody's choice of even figuring in an ODI today. Today's young generation born after 1980 would not be able to comprehend some of the strike rates notched up by batsmen in those early days symbolized of course by one of the most infamous knocks in limited overs cricket – Gavaskar's 36 not out off 174 balls against England at Lord's in 1975.

     

    One day cricket was supposed to speed up things but by today's standards most of the teams batted at a snail's pace. There is no better example of this than the opening partnership between Boycott and

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  • Fortune favours the brave

    Innovation is the name of the game not only in batting and bowling but also in thinking and planning. A surprise tactic can throw the opposing team out of gear and can constitute a sort of guerilla warfare. Any unexpected strategy that can throw the opponents off guard could be just the kind of stuff that can turn the game around perhaps decisively.

     

    While these aspects are perhaps more applicable in the shorter versions of the game considering the limited time involved it could work wonders in Test cricket too. I well remember in this regard the Cape Town Test between India and South Africa four years ago. It was the decider with the teams being 1-1 and after four enthralling days the game was wide open going into the final day. South Africa required 211 runs for victory and off the last ball of the penultimate day they lost Hashim Amla which made them 55 for two. In overnight discussions the Indian think tank must have had the dismissal of Jacques Kallis - scheduled to come in at no

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  • Will 1983 finally be repeated?

    From also-rans to a cricketing powerhouse. That's the
    path India has taken in the World Cup. As one who has been witness to one day
    cricket’s earliest days when the Indian team were plainly uncomfortable in the
    sport's new format I sometimes marvel at how they have progressed over the last
    three decades. Not only have the Indians won the World Cup and added the World
    Championship of Cricket title in Australia a couple of years later they are
    recognized as one of the leading combinations in the limited overs game with a
    record to match and their present ICC ranking of No 2 is well deserved.

     

    And yet as I said it wasn't always like this. India were
    slow to embrace the one day game and in the 70s the team was one of the
    whipping boys in international cricket. The fact that in the first two World
    Cup competitions they won just one game - and that against lowly East Africa -
    best illustrates this. Test cricket was still very much the name of the game
    and was well patronized in this

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