Venkat Ananth

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Blog Posts by Venkat Ananth

  • Sri Lanka after Murali needs fresh approach

    After play ended on day four of the recently concluded second Test between India and Sri Lanka at the Sinhalese Sports Club, Lankan coach Trevor Bayliss delivered the most scathing indictment of the wicket in use, saying "Even Murali would have struggled to get wickets on this strip."


    Fair assessment, and the game provided Sri Lanka with an early, unnerving insight into what its future holds in the wake of Muttiah Muralitharan's retirement and for that matter even the exit of Chaminda Vaas. Equally, that statement points to the need, at some point in the immediate future, for Sri Lanka has to introspect and come up with a complete overhaul of a home strategy that has in the past contributed more wins than losses.


    At one level, wickets like the one we saw at the Sinhalese Sports Club are killing Test cricket, especially in a country where the format is not exactly the most popular - but that said, you can see where the urge to produce such wickets is coming from. For the Sri

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  • Dude, where are the bowlers?

    India's bowling performances in the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka have made for  depressing viewing - and it gets worse when you consider the pedestrian stuff is being trotted out by a side that parades itself as the number one Test side in the world.


    Injuries to Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth aside, the current lot of bowlers look anything but a world-class attack; bereft of skill, lacking in confidence, abdicating on intent, the bowling 'attack' has consistently looked incapable of taking 20 wickets. It is easy enough to blame the conditions, and it is not my argument that the conditions have been uniformly helpful - but that said, the attack led by Ishant Sharma has mentally surrendered  mentally surrendered not to the conditions, but to their own self-doubts, their own lack of confidence in their abilities as pace bowlers.


    On the spin side, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha look like human bowling machines - their bowling is mechanical, their intent is non-existent, and

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  • The last of the Gunasekaras

    I vividly remember that rainy day in Colombo, sometime around the second week of May of 2007, when I walked past my hotel in Bambalapittiya, turned left on Dickman Road (now Lester James Peiris Mawatha) and arrived at - if I remember correctly - house number 85.


    An old Maruti 800 car was parked right outside the steps; a man in whites came out and opened the gates for me. He was Conroy Ievers Gunasekara, then 87 and possibly one of Ceylon's, and Sri Lanka', best batsmen of all time, alongside his colleague Mahadevan Sathasivam and modern-day greats like Aravinda de Silva, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.


    Gunasekara, like most 'Ceylon' cricketers, represented an era which saw the island nation's cricketing foundations only getting stronger. The Gunasekara I met was reclusive, after the death of his wife six months earlier, and was living in conditions unimaginable for someone who had served Ceylon cricket passionately and tirelessly. His diet: a LKR 50-60 worth of a 'lunch

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  • Au Revoir, Murali – thanks for the memories

    In a way, the first Test between India and Sri Lanka at Galle put Muttiah Muralitharan's epic career into much-needed perspective even as it slotted nicely into a template that has held true through the off spinner's storied career: A typical first-innings breeze through the Indian batting order, including one moment of genius that winkled out MS Dhoni and then, as coda, a second essay that was more about the relentless toil, patience and odd moments of frustration, all capped by the eventual glory of snagging his 800th wicket with the final ball he will ever bowl in Test cricket.


    Murali's 800th wicket wasn't just a statistical milestone as is perceived by many, but the ultimate testimony for a career that typified a triumph of cricketing greatness and a fitting tribute to a man whose career symbolized an incredible triumph of character against often insurmountable, occasionally repugnant odds.


    This career or, as I see it, this story is not so much about the numbers as it is about

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