Partab Ramchand

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Blog Posts by Partab Ramchand

  • Things sadly have not changed

    In the good old days playing in England presented the biggest challenge for Indian teams. The vast difference in the weather and wicket conditions made it the most difficult assignment and little wonder then till the major turning point in 1971 the record read: Tests played 19, England won 15, Drawn 4.

     

    More than the bowling it was the batting that was the bigger problem and the record books are filled with horror stories like 0 for four at Leeds in 1952, a start of six for five at the Oval on the same tour, being bowled out for 58 and 82 in a single day at Manchester a month earlier and so on. Losing by an innings and plenty was not uncommon, sub-200 totals were par for the course and during one particularly unhappy phase eight successive Tests were lost withy a 5-0 whitewash in 1959 being followed by a 3-0 rout eight years later.

     

    Since 1971 the record has been better and while over the years the Indians have performed creditably in other countries too the new bugbear would appear

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  • A golden opportunity

    For more than one Australian captain in the nineties and in the new millennium, a triumphant series in India was the 'Final Frontier'. The No 1 team in the world had emerged victorious just about everywhere but a similar result in India had eluded the Australians since Bill Lawry's team won the five-match contest in 1969. This objective remained unfulfilled till 2004 when the Australians finally won a Test series.

     

    Similarly, for the Indians a triumphant series in South Africa would appear to be the 'Final Frontier'. Indian squads have emerged victorious in all countries except Australia and South Africa. But in Australia they have at least squared the series on no less than three occasions. In South Africa they have drawn a blank going down in every one of four contests since playing their first Test series there in 1992.

     

    In fact, it was only last time out in 2006 that the Indians finally opened their account winning the first Test only to go down in the next two and lose the

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  • Team India has emerged as early favourites

    For a team that put up such a gritty display in the Test matches the New Zealanders were a sore disappointment in the ODIs. But this only proves that while a side can be up to the mark in one format it can come a cropper in another.

     

    The prime example of this would be England, who for about half a dozen years in the mid and late 80s and early 90s lost one Test series after another. But this was also the period when they were runners-up in two successive ICC Cricket World Cups besides winning two one-day competitions in Australia in 1986-87, both involving West Indies.

     

    Perhaps, one was wrong in expecting a close tussle between a team ranked No 2 and another ranked No 7. But it was much the same in the Tests where India are ranked No 1 and New Zealand No 8. It was just that while they raised the level of their game in the traditional format the Kiwis failed to repeat it in the ODIs.

     

    New Zealand have always been a very competitive side in limited overs cricket and as opponents can

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  • India’s utility man

    He has termed his match-winning hundred at Bangalore as the "turning point" for his life and career and few will disagree with this assessment. After being in and out of the side, after promising much but failing to live up to his potential, Yusuf Pathan it can be stated quite categorically, has finally clinched the No 7 spot in the ODI squad. The one slot that has been the subject of much debate is now filled and the arguments can cease. He will be India's utility man at next year's World Cup.

     

    The cynics might still not be convinced and may take the stance that one hundred against a New Zealand side that is on the brink of losing the series 5-0 - after being blanked by Bangladesh 4-0 - does not give Yusuf the credentials to walk in five down during the World Cup. The counter argument is that this was no ordinary hundred. And, a second argument in his favour is his match winning qualities. This kind of brutal hitting that sends the ball soaring on top of the stands or out of the

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  • Remarkable partnerships

    With the Indian batting machine whirring along smoothly records have been falling left, right and centre. And, while this has been true particularly in the last decade or so, it must not be forgotten that it was Sunil Gavaskar who first showed the cricketing world that India's batsmen were second to none in running up big scores as well as possessing the traditional qualities of dedication, determination and concentration.

     

    Among the plethora of records that have gone overboard the greatest casualties have been the partnerships. Almost every year, it seems, a new partnership record is set and the fact that eight of the ten current Indian partnership records have been set since the Gavaskar era of the 70s bears testimony to the lustrous batting line-up that Indian cricket has boasted of over the last 40 years.  

     

    Under the circumstances, it is quite remarkable that two partnerships have lasted more than a half century. The first is of course Indian cricket's proudest statistical

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  • Neither team came out with much credit

    I have been following Ashes battles closely for half a century now and have never seen the contestants so weak in bowling and fielding. The standards in these two aspects of the game as displayed by the current England and Australian teams have been abysmal, and underlined by the fact that only 12 wickets fell over the last four days of the Brisbane Test.

     

    After an action-packed opening day the match became a showcase for batsmen to run up record after record even as bowlers had a nightmarish time and the fielders blotted their reputation with one dropped catch after another. The inescapable conclusion to be drawn after the opening game of the series is that it is going to be difficult for both the teams to take 20 wickets unless there is considerable help from the wicket and weather.

     

    At the end of the game one had to pinch oneself to believe that Peter Siddle had in fact taken a hat trick on the first day. The rest of the game was drowned in an avalanche of runs and three-figure

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  • Hussey is not an isolated case

    Patience and perseverance are not only essential qualities for those on the field of play but also for selectors. If anything the case of Michael Hussey drives home this point.

     

    Here was a batsman who after a dream start saw the runs dry up. From well over 70 his career average slid steadily to just below 50. Critics, commentators and experts all called for him to be axed. But the Australian selectors were not going to be swayed by Hussey's falling average and the lack of big scores. They were convinced that he had class, that he remained "Mr Cricket" and "Mr Crisis Man" and retained him in the playing eleven.

     

    During this bleak period Hussey seriously considered standing down from the limited over formats and there were calls for him to be dropped from the Fifty50 and Twenty20 squads. But Ricky Ponting stood by him and the selectors who are firm believers in the adage "form is temporary, class is permanent" agreed with the captain and persevered with Hussey. And how he has

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  • Team India needs Harbhajan the bowler

    Both India and New Zealand will have mixed feelings at the conclusion of the just concluded three-match series. For the hosts it can be said that end justifies the means and victory in the contest however narrow is a matter of some satisfaction. 

     

    It's not however a series that will be remembered fondly by cricket fans in this country or the Indian players - not even Harbhajan Singh. He might have been adjudged man of the series and notched up a feat that has been beyond anyone batting at No 8 in Test history, but the celebrations will be tempered by the fact that his bowling continues to be without zing, his career average and strike rate is climbing alarmingly.

     

    With a tough series in South Africa round the corner it is a matter of acute discomfort that the Indian spin spearhead is struggling. What is even more disturbing is that the greater improvement in his batting may see a further fall in his bowling standards. The Indian team needs Harbhajan the bowler much more than

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  • England start as favourites

    The cynics might say that the Ashes series are not the battles they used to be and have been overtaken in quality and intensity by contests between other teams. But nothing can ever take away the special aura that hovers around Tests between England and Australia. If any proof is required one has only to look back on the fascinating contest in 2005 which is a prime contender for the greatest series of all time.

     

    In any case the hype and the mind games have already commenced in real earnest. After all, this is going to be a battle between a resurgent England team and an Australian side plainly on the decline. For the first time in eons, England are ranked higher than Australia on the eve of an Ashes battle. And if the pre-series form is any indication England should start as favourites. They have won two of the three warm-up games and have had the better of a drawn match – all against worthy opposition.

     

    The batsmen have been among the runs, the bowlers have picked up the wickets,

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  • Bowling not up to the mark

    They came to India as no hopers. Having just lost a one day series 4-0 in Bangladesh they could hardly have been in a confident frame of mind when they landed in this country to take on India in a three-Test series. The cynics were talking of a clean sweep and there was talk of the lustrous batting line-up running up all sorts of records against the innocuous bowling. After all, the Indian team had proved too strong for Australia in the two-Test contest, were the No 1 Test team and were particularly formidable at home having lost just one series in the last ten years. New Zealand on the other hand had a forgettable record in India having won just two Tests and lost ten. The odds were heavily stacked in favour of the home side.

     

    And yet, two-thirds of the way into the series the visitors have more than held their own and in fact had India in a precious situation in the first Test. Only once before in their long history have India made a worse start than the 15 for five they were

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