R Mohan

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Blog Posts by R Mohan

  • Pietersen gets into the hot seat

    What is it about captaincy that provokes virtually irrational behaviour on the part of cricketers? On the one hand, they all die to be captain, but once they have had a taste of the job and have had it for a few years, they want to throw it away.

    Not all of them do it as dramatically as Michael Vaughan of England did, with tears in his eyes that brought back memories of 1984 when Kimberley John Hughes surrendered to his own inadequacies and got lachrymose while giving up the job. In Hughes' case, the tears were, perhaps, understandable because he led Australia at a most difficult time in its cricket history.

    The Packer players, who were the obvious big starts of cricket, came back into the national team in 1980 and Hughes would have felt the pressure the most, especially in times when the West Indies were almost unbeatable in any form of the game. In Vaughan's case, it is more difficult to fathom this big, teary farewell.

    As England's most successful Test captain, the soft-spoken

    Read More »from Pietersen gets into the hot seat
  • SSC debacle: Is this the beginning of the fall?

    To be felled by Murali and Mendis can be compared to computer security wizards having their identities stolen by hackers. As Test defeats go, the one in the first Test was heavy, which could, however, be explained away.

     

    Even such a vaunted batting lineup, most famous for taking on spinners and dismantling their reputation hour by hour, could be forgiven its lapses when confronted by Murali and a mystery spinner in his first Test.

     

    The greater problem is the latest defeat points to the fact that India’s batsmen are ageing troubadours. They are quite capable of delivering when the conditions are true or flat but if there is so much as a bit of deviation from perfect behaviour on the part of the pitch, they are as lost as babes in the woods.

     

    It’s not easy to accept that a set of batsmen who performed out of their skin in Australia at the beginning of the year could have lost it all by the time the South Africans got at them in early April in Ahmedabad in lively seaming conditions.

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  • Dhoni’s decision to opt out was remarkably brave

    The Indian team is in Sri Lanka. The ODI skipper, Test wicket-keeper and explosive middle-order batsman is not in the party. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is said to be resting at home in Ranchi. It is a brave decision that Mahi has taken, perhaps a foolish one too.

     

    As wicket-keeper batsman, Dhoni bears a workload greater than any others, except perhaps the fast bowlers. To keep wicket in Asia is probably a more demanding task because the ball is, on the average, gathered at much lower heights.

     

    To don the gloves for session after session on some merciless Asian wickets is the closest to bringing out ant tendencies to masochism. Poor Dhoni must be suffering from an overdose of cricket as otherwise he would not have taken such a decision. The timing of his pullout is what makes it strange, even unpalatable to the Establishment.

     

    Dhoni keeps off the Test team at a time that is too close to the IPL. Players can expect no public sympathy with regard to overcrowding of match fixtures when they

    Read More »from Dhoni’s decision to opt out was remarkably brave
  • Shielding Mendis before final paid off

    As strategists, the Sri Lankans were outstanding and they excelled in executing their plans, Also, they recovered from a shocking start to run out comprehensive winners of the Asia Cup, leaving us in no doubt as to who were the superior side in the competition.

     

    To have held back Ajantha Mendis for the final rather than expose him to the Indians in the preliminary league was a masterstroke even if such a move is par for the course when it comes to mystery spinners or very young fast bowlers.

     

    Where India failed was in homework. Not enough may have been done in analysing the mystery spinner's bowling. I am certain the Indians would have had a video session to view the way Mendis bowls. But to play him in the middle is a different proposition altogether.

     

    What the Indians could not gauge quickly enough was the pace at which the spinner bowls. He is almost slow medium, perhaps much like Anil Kumble. While the Lankans always prided themselves on playing Kumble like they would a slow

    Read More »from Shielding Mendis before final paid off
  • Back-to-back matches waste

    A considerable fuss has been made over the international fixtures list ever since M.S. Dhoni opened fire on the crowded scheduling. The Establishment ranged itself against the Indian ODI captain, pooh poohing his objections much like a stentorian schoolteacher.

     

    Before dismissing his objections offhand did they so much as spare a thought to the one reason why players are objecting so much now? Dhoni made a rather simple point about back-to back matches that actually have no place in a civilised cricket calendar.

     

    Players whose feelings against excessive cricket may have received sympathy for their plight in the past may have been surprised by the severity of the reaction from the board, the ICC and the public this time.

     

    But that is because not a whimper was heard when the ICL schedule was drawn up and adhered to in six hectic summer weeks in April and May.

     

    The problem is the Establishment is not seeing the wood for the tress. While the cricketers’ objections to the schedule

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  • June 25, 1983: The day India changed history

    They were so snooty at Lord's in those days. It was a different world then. There was a luncheon invitation for me with the MCC official who also gave me my media pass - a medallion with the MCC crest. Only, that lunch, a banquet before sending the teams on their way to various venues at the start of the World Cup in 1983, was over several hours earlier.

     

    If the miscommunication was a minor hitch, consider being told that the medallion would not be valid for the final unless India qualified. Writing then as I was for a broadsheet that would expect to get invited even to the Buckingham Palace, I couldn't possibly not be at the final, regardless of who was playing.

     

    The venerable sage, John Woodcock, cricket correspondent of the Times, had promised me that I would be welcome in the press box, which I could access with his messenger's pass. As it transpired, we held our heads aloft as we got our medallions validated for the final by right.

     

    June 25, 1983 - It did not seem a

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  • India stuck in T20 mode

    Team India were in Twenty-20 mode whereas Pakistan played the almost old-fashioned ODI cricket to emerge triumphant in Dhaka. The difference between the two sides in the final was simply that of styles even if the toss did play a role in loading the match in favour of the team setting the target.

     

    M.S. Dhoni was quick to own up his tactical mistakes, which he said had to do with his batting order, specifically that of promoting Suresh Raina rather than stepping in himself. The batting order error may, however, have had less to do with the verdict. The reason why India failed was the bowlers were still in the T-20 mood, happy to escape punishment.

     

    In assessing the conditions, Pakistan proved clever and quick. They analysed the situation early and decided a safe start was more important and that wickets in hand at the end would mean runs. In playing the ODI as teams would 10 years ago, they made the first half pretty dull.

     

    It was when the batsmen opened up to accelerate that India's

    Read More »from India stuck in T20 mode
  • Best and worst of Indian Premier League

    The Indian Premier League had a dream finish that Hollywood scriptwriters may not have dared put in their scenarios. Form a start in Bengaluru to a spectacular show to a finish serenaded by Bollywood stars, the six cricket-crazed weeks had everything fans could have asked for. Here are some Three-three moments from the grand spectacle:

    Three great moments:

    Elation: The hug Warne gave in his latest incarnation as captain-coach of Rajasthan Royals to a young Pakistani in a new stadium in Mumbai captured the great unifying power of sport.

    Effort: It's a bird, no it's Yuvraj: The Punjab XI skipper's run out off the last ball, Jonty Rhodes style, captured the essence of effort in Twenty-20 cricket with its accentuated do-or-die situations.

    Fireworks: More than 60 per cent of the nearly 18,000 IPL runs came in boundaries. Spectators could not have asked for more by way of instant entertainment.

    Three worst moments:

    Misplaced elation: Shah Rukh Khan's jigs were so overdone they became an

    Read More »from Best and worst of Indian Premier League
  • T20 has fired up Gambhir

    Was the usual frisson missing from an IndiaPakistan encounter or did we simply think so because India won so easily at Dhaka on Tuesday night? With reports suggesting the rain clouds kept people away, the National Stadium was far from full and the ambience was somehow not the same, or so it seemed from television images.

     

    In such circumstances that are not overtly inspirational, the Indian team are usually the first to succumb.

     

    Remember the World Cup of 2007 where the team simply slumped at the Queen's Park Oval? There is, however, a new zing to the cricket of Team India now and we have to thank the IPL for it.

     

    By forcing players to focus their talents in a narrower range and perform against very sharp deadlines, the condensed format has opened up new vistas for Indian cricket. And yet, in Dhaka, it was the supercool head of a man who has been seen frequently to lose his bearings in the shorter forms of the game who kickstarted the Indian innings.

     

    One season down the road they

    Read More »from T20 has fired up Gambhir
  • IPL honchos get most things right

    To say the IPL was a success is to gild the lily. All the indices said so — a television audience well in excess of 100 million over 44 days, four million spectators at the grounds, TV viewership ratings in excess of 8 TRPs and record rates for 10-second spots at the final to rival US networks at primetime.

    Where the IPL goes from here is what will define world cricket. Will the ICC wake up to the reality of a player-centric popular tournament and create a window so that all, including the English players, can get into the IPL and enjoy the competition and the monetary benefit?

    If they choose to block it, it is the member countries of the ICC who will be left facing a rebellion. To stifle market forces would be to invite consequences the administration is not qualified to handle as we saw in the Packer case 30 years ago when Justice Slade came down on ICC like a ton of bricks.

     

    Can there ever be two IPLs in one season? That is too fanciful, perhaps a typical instance of chasing

    Read More »from IPL honchos get most things right

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