Partab Ramchand

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Blog Posts by Partab Ramchand

  • High on confidence

    It has been hailed as the Miracle at Mohali and quite rightly so. The history of Indian cricket has been punctuated with great or historic victories but the word miracle can only be associated with a handful of triumphs. 

     

    The adjective was perhaps first used to describe India's victory over Australia at Kanpur on Christmas Eve 1959. It came about at a time when Indian cricket was in doldrums, thanks to unseemly happenings off the field while the team itself had lost eleven of the previous 14 Tests.

     

    Miracle can also be used to describe the victory at Melbourne in February 1981 when with one fit bowler and two half-fit bowlers, India bowled out Australia for 83 on their way to a series-leveling 59-run victory. The next such triumph came 20 years later against the same opponents in the famous match at Kolkata when only for the third time in the history of Test cricket a team came back to win after following on.

     

    The victory at Mohali can justifiably take its place among the

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  • The outlook has never been bleaker

    Eternal optimist that I am, I have always maintained that there will never be a shortage of top class spin bowlers in India given the long and rich tradition of such bowling in the country. India has produced the most fascinating variety of spin bowlers and throws them up with the same regularity that West Indies used to come up with fast bowlers.

     

    Even after the line-up of outstanding Caribbean pacemen dried up once Walsh and Ambrose called it a day at the turn of the new millennium, Indian spin interests continued to be in good hands. Anil Kumble was still around as the kingpin of the attack and Harbhajan Singh had announced his arrival on the big stage with his match winning spells against Australia.

     

    Because Indian cricket had the happy knack of discovering one great spin bowler after another for well over half a century it was thought that the spin cupboard in this country would never be empty.

     

    Indeed, when Harbhajan burst upon the scene so dramatically at the turn of the

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  • The ‘First Frontier’

    As is usual with India - Australia contests the mind games have started before the actual games commence. And, again predictably enough, it is the Aussies who have started it. So, we have Nathan Hauritiz saying that even Sachin Tendulkar though great can make mistakes, Mitchell Johnson warning that he is going to target Virender Sehwag who "doesn't like short balls" and Michael Clarke predicting that the best of Ricky Ponting is yet to come.

     

    Well, the Australian captain can certainly do with some morale boosting for his record in India is woeful. In 11 Tests (19 innings) spread over four visits he has just managed to score 411 runs at an average of 21.62 with one hundred. That is well below his overall average of 54.66. What should encourage Ponting though is that the century came during his last visit two years ago, so finally he could be coming to terms with Indian conditions.

     

    It would be tempting to place India in the favourites circle for the two Test series starting October

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  • England fortunes on the upward swing

    Slowly but surely the England team have been making waves in international cricket. However, the squad has not been receiving the hype and the headlines that some other countries get for similar consistent performances. There is a reason for this. English cricket has generally been associated with solidity and textbook cricket.

     

    Very rarely are adjectives like flamboyant and swashbuckling used to describe England's players. Once in a way, cricketers like Ian Botham or Andrew Flintoff might emerge, but overall England's players have been workmanlike rather than spectacular, stronger on substance than on style.

     

    And, yet there is no denying that England under Andrew Strauss in Test cricket and Paul Collingwood in the shorter versions of the game have seen their fortunes on the upward swing.

     

    Suddenly, England seemed to have discovered the right personnel for all formats of the game and while Ricky Ponting might express the view that another 5-0 whitewash in the Ashes series cannot

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  • Pujara has the technique and temperament

    Not unexpectedly, the selection of Cheteshwar Pujara and the axing of Yuvraj Singh are the two talking points about the Indian team to play Australia in the two-Test series next month. To be candid, these twin developments were always on the cards.

     

    Yuvraj has had a troubled year with form and fitness problems and once he lost his place to Suresh Raina during the series in Sri Lanka last month there was always going to be some doubt about his being picked. 

     

    Similarly, Pujara has been knocking very loudly at the door of the selection committee courtesy a series of three figure knocks and the right temperament especially for cricket's traditional format. It was only a matter of time before the switch took place. 

     

    It is another matter that Pujara might not get to play unless there is a fitness problem among the batsmen. The quartet of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Suresh Raina is now well settled following the left hander's dream debut against Sri Lanka and they,

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  • A start and stop career

    The figures against his name are impressive, but somehow one gets a distinct feeling that Andrew Flintoff could have achieved much, much more. He could have been the cricketer of the first decade of the new millennium. Instead, he was perhaps not even the leading England cricketer of his time, a period that lasted from 1998 to 2009.

     

    He certainly was an outsize personality in more ways than one. The hype and hoopla followed him and the media coverage of his doings on and off the field was the kind that one had not seen since the days of Ian Botham, which in a way was apt for 'Freddie' was the closest that England had after the peerless 'Beefy'. 

     

    It was never going to be easy to find a successor to Botham, arguably England's greatest ever all-rounder. After he called it a day in the early 90s, there were many imposters who were hailed as the next Botham. It was of course, too big an act to follow and naturally enough none came anywhere near duplicating Botham's amazing record. When

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  • The Teflon sport

    I have always held the view that if Ronald Reagan was the Teflon President, cricket in India - or perhaps even the sub continent - is the Teflon game. No scandal or controversy ever stuck to the popular 40th president of the United States. Similarly, no scandal or controversy is going to affect cricket's popularity in this part of the world one bit.

     

    The game has been hit by major controversies over the past many years but its popularity has continued undiminished. I really thought when the match fixing controversy erupted in April 2000, the game's popularity would take at least a bit of a dent. After all, who likes being taken for a ride, when matches are already decided even before the ball is bowled, even as the cricket lover follows the game either at the stadium or through TV and radio with the firm belief that he is watching a keenly fought contest in the true spirit of the once noble and gentleman's game.

     

    Oh sure, there was the odd cricket fan who turned his back on the game

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  • Champions League too has its own charm

    "Ab Hoga Asli Muqabla" (now will be the real competition) runs the catch line and with the marketing hype, now all important as far as the conduct of the game is concerned, it is a line that one has already become familiar with. No doubt it will reverberate around the cricketing world for more than a fortnight starting Friday.

     

    The Indian Premier League known more popularly by its abbreviation IPL has caught the public imagination like no other tournament since its inception in 2008. But the Champions League too has its own charm. If anything it is even more important in that the leading T20 teams from six countries take part.

     

    Last year, the inaugural tournament was held in India and 12 teams took part. New South Wales won the title defeating the surprise packet of the tournament Trinidad & Tobago by 41 runs in the final at Hyderabad. As only to be expected there were a number of nail biting finishes, large crowds were present at the stadiums and there was huge following for the

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  • Can Australia repeat the feat?

    For long, winning a Test series in India constituted the 'final frontier' for the Australians. That was finally conquered in 2004, when the visitors won the four-match contest 2-1 their first series victory in India since 1969.

     

    Ostensibly, the squad was led by Ricky Ponting but it was Adam Gilchrist who was in charge when Australia won the two Tests. Ponting, who missed the first three Tests because of injury, led Australia only in the final game which was won by India by 13 runs on a minefield of a turning track at Mumbai the match being virtually over in two days.

     

    India, however, returned to their winning ways when Australia made their next visit four years later winning the four-match series 2-0. This time, the series commencing on October 1 consists of only two Tests, since Australia have the Ashes series at home starting from November. 

     

    But the Aussies are not using the matches against India as a warm-up for the contest against England. They are taking India very seriously

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  • Patience and perseverance

    The Kris Srikkanth led selection committee might be tempted to press panic buttons following the inconsistent showing of the Indian team in the just concluded tri series in Sri Lanka. They would be better of in resisting that temptation.

     

    Successive selection committees headed by Dilip Vengsarkar and Srikkanth have made it clear that a youth policy is the best bet for the future, even as they build a team for the World Cup to be held in the sub continent early next year.

     

    By adopting such a policy the selectors have succeeded in picking players who have excelled while making the India the No 1 Test team and the No 2 ODI team in the ICC rankings. The Indian team at full strength is an ideal blend of youth and experience. 

     

    It is important to put into proper perspective the showing in Sri Lanka for it must be remembered that the Indian side was not at full strength. It is never going to be an easy task to take the field without the services of Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir,

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