Tuesday 4 November, 2008

Jumbo: The silent assassin

B D Narayankar

RENOWNED FOR his ten wicket haul in a Test innings against Pakistan in New Delhi in 1999, becoming only the second bowler to achieve the feat after Englishman Jim Laker; his best one-day performance was six for twelve against West Indies at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata during the Hero Cup tournament in 1993. He is the leading wicket-taker for India and the third highest in the world with 619 wickets from 132 tests and 337 from 271 one dayers.

Yes, we are talking about Anil Kumble, Jumbo as he was known in the cricket world, who hung his boots up on the final day’s play of the third Test of Border - Gavaskar trophy played at Feroz Shah Kotla.

Kumble had been a true ambassador of cricket. He certainly did not spin the ball as prodigiously as the great Aussie leggie Shane Warne did but he was a bowler of his own kind. He was famous for his nagging line and length and the lift he used to get on any pitch. He was more in Bhagwat Chandrashekhar’s mould.

Warne could be a great competitor and most aggressive spinners of all times, but Kumble too was not far behind. What is striking about Kumble is that he is a great ambassador of cricket. It was reflected in his 18-years-long international career when he only once pushed his way into the match referee’s room in the infamous Sydney Test. The one-liner statement which he made after the Test in a press conference defines what Jumbo is all about - he had said only one team was playing in the spirit of the game.

There had been a number of occasions when Warne had overstepped the code of conduct, but Kumble did not slide himself into that orbit. He never even passed banter, leave alone resorting to sledging. This quality of Jumbo certainly makes him bigger in the cricket world than Warne. Patience and perseverance are two of the most important elements for a spinner’s success and present abundantly in Kumble’s character.

His ability to raise the morale of the team especially when the chips are down played a pivotal role in some of the team’s notable performances. Who can forget the 2002 Test against West Indies at Antigua where Kumble came out to bowl with a broken jaw and heavily bandaged around the face or more recently the first Test of the Border - Gavaskar Trophy at Bangalore where after suffering a shoulder injury he came back to bowl just hours later, leaving everyone awe-struck. Further still, he took a catch running back of Mitchell Johnson, caring little for the 11 stitches on his left hand in the third Test at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.

His workaholism was well drafted when he tirelessly bowled 72 overs in a Test innings against Sri Lanka at Premadasa stadium in Colombo, in 1997. In this inning Sri Lanka scored 952 runs in 271 overs in reply to India’s 537 in 167.3 overs and the match ended in a draw.

Kumble has broken numerous records in his nearly two decades long uncelebrated career. In 2001, he became the first Indian spinner to capture 300 wickets in Tests and went on to achieve the landmark in one-day cricket just a year later. Earlier this year, Kumble became the first Indian bowler and only the third in the world behind Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne to take 600 wickets in Test matches. The icing on the cake came at The Oval as he put together a well crafted century, a feat which he later described as one of the most cherished moments of his life.

After Sunil Gavaskar, there came Sachin Tendulkar. After Kumble, there certainly is somebody waiting in the wings of his calibre to fill up the void. But sheer calibre and skills will not make him slide into Kumble’s shoes. The successor can only be so called when he plays cricket the way Jumbo played - a thorough gentleman. Let’s salute for the last time this ’silent assassin’ from Bangalore for laying down his gun.

Source: Meri News

Sunday 2 November, 2008

Kumble's retirement overshadows drawn test

B D Narayankar

As the match headed towards an end, all focus shifted to a giant who carried all the adulations and criticism on his shoulders with right spirits. He always had been a true ambassodor of cricket. We are talking about a player who has been a great competitor and yet never overstepped the line of conduct. Anil Kumble, added a poignont note to the boring drawn match by announcing his retirement from international cricket.

Kumble's sudden announcement overshadowed Australia's brilliant fightback in the test after India thrashed them by 320 runs in the previous game to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

Continuing with his form, VVS Laxman made yet another half-century (59 not out), after making an unbeaten double century in first innings of the third test of Border-Gavaskar series played at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. Saurav Ganguly, alongside Laxman, remained unbeaten on 32 before Kumble declared India's second innings, leaving Australia to chase an improbable 245-runs target.

Early in the morning Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambir provided resistence to the Australian attack which looked on the top after removing Rahul Dravid for 11.

Australian openers Mathew Hayden (16 no) and Simon Katich (14 no) played out eight overs to reach 31 for no loss before the match was called off. Fittingly enough, Kumble opened the bowling for the last time in his 19-years career at his favourite Kotla ground.

Kotla had been an happy hunting ground for Jumbo who picked up 58 wickets in seven Tests played here, and the most memorable performance being a 10-wicket haul against Pakistan.

In his illustrious career, he snapped 619 wickets in 132 tests playing for India. The last ball of his career was a full toss to Hayden who dispatched the ball straight to the fence.

The close of play brought emotional moments to the fore as members of the Indian cricket team - Zaheer Khan, Rahul Dravid and his successor Mahendra Singh Dhoni - carried Jumbo, taking a lap of farewell round Ferz Shah Kotla.

Australian bowlers bowled sharp spells to back skipper Ricky Ponting's field placements against a defensive-minded Indian batsmen as any mild hopes of a result ebbed away after lunch.

Brett Lee (2-48), Stuart Clark (1-22) and Mitchell Johnson (1-23) earlier put in dangerous spells, bending their backs in a last despairing effort to wrench a result from a pitch that did not deteriorate as both captains expected it would. However, Lee showed sparks of his old fire to return two for 48.

Allrounder Cameron White (1-23) was not employed by captain Ricky Ponting until the match had been virtually decided, but he bowled tidily when given the chance and dismissed Tendulkar for the second time in the series with a rare ball that turned.

The teams now travel to Nagpur for Thursday's final Test, with India holding a 1-0 lead.

Saturday 1 November, 2008

Dropped catches melt India's winning chances

B D Narayankar

Until last evening, it was an Indian win all the way when they put a mammoth total of 613 for 7 in their first innings. They were expected to rip apart the Aussies with frontline spin bowlers on a pitch which was turning and bouncing. But, sloppy fielding of the Indians poured water on the chances of pulling off a series win against the visitors.

The butter-fingered hosts dropped Michael Clarke three times. He was first spilled on 31 by Ishant Sharma who failed to bucket a simple catch at mid-on off leggie Amit Mishra. Late in the post-lunch session, Clarke was dropped twice in his 90s with VVS Laxman failing to latch on to a sitter off Virendra Sehwag and Mishra flooring another in the bowler's next over.

Clarke, capitalizing on the floored opportunities, scored an all-important 112, steering Australia out of the hole on the fourth day of the third Border-Gavaskar test series against India being played at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on November 1.

Clarke, who scored 151 on his Test debut against India in Bangalore in 2004, also shared a 73-run stand with all-rounder Shane Watson (36) to frustrate a tiring Indian bowling attack.

Clarke, 27, stroked six fours and a six for his eighth Test hundred and also shared a 106-run stand with Cameron White (44), leaving the tourists just 36 runs behind India's first innings total.

Sehwag, India's only triple-centurion, had something to cheer. He finished with career-best figures of 5-104 after sending down 40 overs on a wicket which started taking prodigious turn from day three, while Anil Kumble, who was criticized for his wicketless showing in Bangalore, had 3-112 against his name.

White hit five fours and a six off leg-spinner Anil Kumble in his cameo 95-ball effort.

India, who were sitting pretty until last evening to clinch the series at the Kotla, now have a huge task cut out to shore the game. They cannot sit on their first-innings laurels. The overnight batsmen Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid, have to see off the morning session with caution.

The Aussies had something more to cheer about when they removed dangerous Sehwag (bold Brett Lee) and night-watchman Ishant Sharma (caught Ricky Ponting bold Stuart Clark) in India's second knock.

With two wickets already down, the Australians would be fancying an outside chance with a flurry of wickets early tomorrow. However, their task too is difficult as the wicket has not deteriorated as much. With only a 36-run lead to cheer about, repeating Mohali fireworks does not look like a possibility. As of now, the test is heading towards an anti-climax end.

India II Innings

India 43-2 (13) Runs Balls 4s 6s SR
G Gambhir not out 21 44 2 0 47.73
V Sehwag b Lee 16 17 2 0 94.12
Ishant Sharma c Ponting b Clark 1 2 0 0 50.00
R Dravid not out 5 15 1 0 33.33
VVS Laxman
S Ganguly
MS Dhoni
*Anil Kumble
Zaheer Khan
S Tendulkar
A Mishra
Extras: 0 ( b:0 lb:0 nb:0 w:0)
Total: 43-2 (13) | Curr. RR: 3.31

FOW: V Sehwag (29-1, 8.2), Ishant Sharma (34-2, 9.1)

Australia O M R W Nb Wd RPO
B Lee 6 1 19 1 0 0 3.17
S Clark 5 2 16 1 0 0 3.20
M Clarke 1 0 3 0 0 0 3.00
S Katich 1 0 5 0 0 0 5.00

Australia I Innings

Australia 577-10 (179.3) Runs Balls 4s 6s SR
M Hayden lbw b Sehwag 83 154 13 1 53.90
S Katich b Mishra 64 116 9 0 55.17
*R Ponting b Sehwag 87 165 13 0 52.73
M Hussey b Sehwag 53 146 7 0 36.30
M Clarke c Khan b Mishra 112 253 6 1 44.27
S Watson b Sehwag 36 62 7 0 58.06
B Haddin st Dhoni b Kumble 17 35 1 1 48.57
C White b Sehwag 44 95 6 1 46.32
B Lee lbw b Kumble 8 47 0 0 17.02
M Johnson c and b Kumble 15 12 2 0 125.00
S Clark not out 1 2 0 0 50.00
Extras: 57 ( b:28 lb:17 nb:10 w:2)
Total: 577-10 (179.3) | Curr. RR: 3.21

FOW: S Katich (123-1, 34.1), M Hayden (202-2, 57.2), *R Ponting (284-3, 85.4), M Hussey (326-4, 102), S Watson (399-5, 122.1), B Haddin (426-6, 131.5), C White (532-7, 162.5), B Lee (555-8, 175.4), M Clarke (567-9, 178.1), M Johnson (577-10, 179.3)

India O M R W Nb Wd RPO
Zaheer Khan 23 5 86 0 2 0 3.74
Ishant Sharma 25 6 84 0 1 2 3.36
*Anil Kumble 43.3 10 112 3 1 1 2.57
A Mishra 47 12 144 2 3 1 3.06
V Sehwag 40 9 104 5 0 0 2.60
S Tendulkar 1 0 2 0 0 0 2.00

Friday 31 October, 2008

Sehwag foils Aussie fight back

B D Narayankar

It was a gripping day of cricket. The Indians bowled their hearts out and there were edges flying all over the places. Skipper Anil Kumble failed to place an attacking field, which otherwise would have fetched some more wickets on the third day of the the third test match of the Border-Gavaskar trophy played at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi on October 31.

The Australians on the other hand, never really dominated the proceedings, but did not give away too many wickets, which led them to script a sort of a fightback from the blades of opener Mathew Hayden and skipper Ricky Ponting.

The good thing for India, however, is that when they come out tommorow to play, their bowlers would find the ball still new and hard. Quickies Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan could think using the morning condition to India's advantage. As far as the spinners are concerned, they can make a huge difference. Leggies Amit Mishra and Kumble and offie Virendra Sehwag are getting a lot of rip. Particulary Sehwag who picked up three vital wickets.

If Kumble gets it right tommorow by placing an attacking field and gets early breakthroughs, it will open the floodgates for India to sniff out the Aussies out of the match.

The tourists were happy with way things went for them in the first session of the fourth day. They scored hundred runs having lost one wicket. Hayden and Simon Katich batted in a gritty manner and looked comfortable.

Zaheer, who started the proceedings, bowled two bouncers at Hayden, but failed to get the much-needed breakthrough for India.

Katich looked in good knick and played some fluent shots, hitting 10 fours and notching up his 10th Test fifty in the process. He smashed Sharma thrice over the ropes and looked relaxed against Jumbo.

After lunch, Katich was undone by Mishra who lured him into playing a flick from outside the off stump and then watched as the ball sneaked through the gap and knocked off the middle stump. He made 64 runs with ten hit to the fence.

Before tea, India tasted another Aussie blood when Sehwag pushed one quicker through the air to trap dangerous-looking Hayden leg before for 83. The innings was studded with 13 boundaries and a huge six. It was Hayden's highest score in the series so far. He also shared 123 runs for the
opening wicket with Katich and another 79 with Ponting to lay the platform for Australia's reply to India's mammoth 613-7 declared.

Ponting hit 14 fours in his fine 163-ball 87-runs knock and shared a vital 82-run stand with the in-form Mike Hussey.

The Australian skipper looked set for his 37th ton following his 123 in the drawn Bangalore opener but was bowled by Sehwag, who gave away just 66 runs picking up three vital wickets off his impressive 22 overs.

Hussey was picked up by Sehwag, giving him his third wicket of the match. The local lad tossed the ball up on the middle and leg of the southpaw who failed to cover his off stop. Hussey made a useful 53 of 146 balls belting seven boundaries.

Michael Clarke was batting on 21 with Shane Watson on four at close after surviving some close chances against the spinners, who managed to extract good turn from the track.

Thursday 30 October, 2008

VVS, Gauti put Aussies out of winning race with their double tons

B D Narayankar

The second day's play of the third Border-Gavaskar Test played at Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla belonged to two double century makers - opener Gautam Gambhir and stylish VVS Laxman. They placed India in a formidable position after stringing a record 278-runs partnership for the fourth wicket.

India declared on 613 for 7 on the second day as soon as Laxman lofted Micheal Clarke to the long on boundary to complete his double ton. They decided to have a crack at Australia for an hour today but that didn't quite go as per plans as the bowlers failed to pick up a single wicket. The ball is turning and that is the biggest concern for Australia. At stumps the visitors were 50 for no loss with openers Mathew Hayden and Simon Katich at the crease.

Today's first session went into India's kitty as the hosts went wicketless into lunch. Gambhir and Laxman started off from where they had left yesterday. They added 97 runs with ease as none of the Aussie bowlers troubled them.

Gambhir, 149 overnight, continued to mix caution with aggression and set his eyes on making his first double hundred. He, however, offered a chance when on 176, but his edge off leg-spinner Cameron White evaded Mathew Hayden in the slips.

Gambhir, who scored 206, tore apart Australian attack to script his second century of the Border-Gavaskar series. He, however, fell apart trying to fend off his betenoire Shane Watson's delivery. He nicked the ball back on to his stumps.

Gambhir had become the first left-handed opener from any country to hit a double-hundred against Australia, and his score equaled the previous record by an Indian opener against the Aussies. Ravi Shastri had made 206 in Sydney against Allan Border's team in 1991-92.

Laxman has a special liking for the Australian attack. It was evident from the fact that he scored his six centuries out of 13 against the No. 1 team in the world. Laxman notched up a double hundred remaining unbeaten on 200 before skipper Anil Kumble declared the innings.

Only Brett Lee gave some initial hiccups to Laxman early on. The bowler was unlucky after the Hyderabadi fended off a rising delivery clumsily. That was the only blemish from the blade of Laxman. He later slipped into his groove and brought his skillful wrists into play - driving and pulling on both sides of the wicket. He was in a sublime form.

The stylish Laxman was stuck for 11 balls on 99 but reached the coveted mark with a cover-driven four off leg-spinner White.

Retiring veteran Sourav Ganguly soon walked back after adding just five runs to his team's score. His outing was cut short by part-time bowler Simon Katich as he holed one to Ponting at short cover.

India vice-captain MS Dhoni's cameo of 27 runs was put to end by Watson. Dhoni edged a delivery that was going outside the offstump and wicketkeeper Haddin took a diving catch.

Kumble was eventually trapped lbw to become Johnson's third victim of the innings, and all that was left was for Laxman to reach 200 before the inevitable declaration came.

Australia 50-0 (15) Runs Balls 4s 6s SR
M Hayden not out 16 35 3 0 45.71
S Katich not out 29 56 5 0 51.79
*R Ponting
M Hussey
M Clarke
S Watson
B Haddin
C White
B Lee
M Johnson
S Clark
Extras: 5 ( b:4 lb:0 nb:1 w:0)
Total: 50-0 (15) | Curr. RR: 3.33


India O M R W Nb Wd RPO
Zaheer Khan 4 2 9 0 0 0 2.25
Ishant Sharma 4 1 9 0 0 0 2.25
*Anil Kumble 4 1 17 0 1 0 4.25
A Mishra 3 0 11 0 0 0 3.67

India 613-7 decl (161) Runs Balls 4s 6s SR
G Gambhir b Watson 206 380 26 1 54.21
V Sehwag lbw b Lee 1 2 0 0 50.00
R Dravid c Hayden b Johnson 11 31 1 0 35.48
S Tendulkar c Haddin b Johnson 68 126 11 0 53.97
VVS Laxman not out 200 301 22 1 66.45
S Ganguly c Ponting b Katich 5 8 1 0 62.50
MS Dhoni c Haddin b Watson 27 29 4 1 93.10
*Anil Kumble lbw b Johnson 45 73 8 0 61.64
Zaheer Khan not out 28 21 3 1 133.33
Ishant Sharma
A Mishra
Extras: 22 ( b:6 lb:8 nb:6 w:2)
Total: 613-7 decl (161) | Curr. RR: 3.81

FOW: V Sehwag (5-1, 2.1), R Dravid (27-2, 10.4), S Tendulkar (157-3, 52), G Gambhir (435-4, 123.5), S Ganguly (444-5, 126.2), Dhoni (481-6133.4, *Anil Kumble (579-7, 155.4)

Australia O M R W Nb Wd RPO
B Lee 30 2 119 1 1 1 3.97
S Clark 33 9 69 0 0 0 2.09
M Johnson 32 4 144 3 0 2 4.50
S Watson 20 4 66 2 3 0 3.30
C White 15 1 73 0 0 0 4.87
M Clarke 14 0 59 0 0 0 4.21
S Katich 15 2 60 1 0 0 4.00
*R Ponting 2 0 11 0 0 0 5.50

Wednesday 29 October, 2008

Huge partnerships sour Aussie hopes

B D Narayankar

After losing Nawab of Najafgarh Virendra Sehwag and formidable Rahul Dravid early in the day, Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar and Delhi lad Gautam Gambhir poured water over the hopes of Aussies building on the early advantage on the first day of the third Border-Gavaskar Test match being played at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi on October 29.

The defining moments of the day were the two wonderful partnerships between Gambhir and Tendulkar (130 runs) and then between Gambhir and VVS Laxman (an unbeaten 139-runs stand). Especially Gambhir's stand with Tendulkar mattered the most as India was precariously placed at 27 for 2 in the 11th over after the Aussies sent back two of India's top guns packing for cheap scores. First, Brett Lee trapped Sehwag plumb when the opener tried to defend from the crease. Next, Dravid edged Mitchell Johnson to Mathew Hayden in the slips, who took a good low catch. Dravid tried reaching a fuller-length ball angling away from him.

Right from the start of the series, the Aussies have had few causes for concern. After the retirement of Glen MacGrath and Shane Warne, their attack looks toothless. It will not be wrong to say here that Lee looks spineless without the support of MacGrath and Warne from the other end. Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark failed to learn a lesson from Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, who picked wickets with swing in Mohali and Bangalore tests.

The other concern of the Aussies includes the absence of an attacking spinner and the dogged concentration of Indian batsmen. It was a very familiar list of troubles.

It was a day of reckoning for Gambhir. This was his back-to-back test centuries against the No. 1 Test team in the world. Gambhir cracked a scintillating unbeaten 149 runs. Gambhir played a waiting game after losing Sehwag and Dravid. The southpaw, in association with Tendulkar, rebuilt the Indian innings by playing a waiting game.

When the platform was safely built, Gambhir changed gears and started striking the ball with exquisite timing and and placement. He began to clip balls through the leg side and cut and drove through the off side. No wonder he brought his classy century with an unexpected six of Shane Watson.

The runs did not stop there. Laxman was almost unnoticed, inasmuch as that can be said of his glorious flicks through leg, in building a valuable half-century that helped stop any momentum Australia might have collected when Tendulkar departed. Laxman and Gambhir's unbeaten 139-run partnership became a major frustration for Aussie captain Ricky Ponting, whose troops performed admirably at times but failed to maintain the pressure.

Post-lunch session

India started the second session at a menacing pace. Both Tendulkar and Gambhir hitting boundaries all over the park. Tendulkar reached his 51st Test half-century with a boundary off Stuart Clark and Gambhir followed suit. Just before tea, Tendulkar was done in by Johnson's persistent line when the maestro played away from his body and nicked an angling delivery into the hands of Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin for a well-made 68. Tendulkar had gone into the shell as he was playing for tea.


At stumps, India is sitting pretty with 296 for 3 on the board. When Gambhir and Laxman will take guard tommorrow, the former would like to build on his unbeaten 149 runs and the latter look forward to end his drought. Will Ponting have a plan up his sleeves? We will find out tomorrow.

Thursday 2 October, 2008

The unnecessary Christian blurt

B D Narayankar

It was unkindest cut of all - Archbishop Barnard Moras of Bangalore berating and shouting at Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa in full public glare. It was a strange and uncivilized behaviour which was unwarranted and unexpected from a Godman.

Compare his behaviour with that of other Hindu leaders, who have not misbehaved with government authorities, inspite of end number of provocations on Hindus in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir, where Hindus suffered huge losses and even made to flee.

Why did Barnard Moras behave in an ungainly manner? What was the necessity to blurt out in front of TV cameras? Was it a political stunt? Probably, he wanted to show the world that Christians were being attacked in BJP-ruled states. He hardly gave a thought that the outburst against Christians was the result of provocation coming from evangelists, who distributed blasphemous literature, deriding Hindu gods.

Christians, instead of leveling charges against BJP-ruled government, should be thankful to Yediyurappa for not allowing law and order situation going out of hand. Other than isolated incidents of localized vandalism in which both Christians and Hindus were involved, there was not a single instance of organized violence in Karnataka. The CM also has shown enough courage to initiate an investigation into conversion activities perpetrated by evangelists, instead of succumbing to the tirades launched by evangelist-owned news channels.

Historically, evangelical churches were the branches of foreign governments that incited colonial wars against Hindus for centuries. Virtually every major European country had justified wars of colonial conquest as a prelude to loot and genocide in the name of Christianity as any moderately well informed observer will acknowledge.

To unmake the ignominy faced by losing direct control over India in 1947, the evangelists are doing everything on this earth to regain control. In fact, they are running the Indian Union with the heinous support of airhead human rights organizations and television channels. The evangelists are on a mission to seek India's political transformation through conversions. Conversion is a means to blunt the possible revolt of Indians on matters such as Hinduism and Hindu culture.

The evangelists are working towards creating a docile native constituency through conversions that will oblige to the wishes of powerful Christian nations - America, UK and Rome among others. There is nothing saintly about it, it simply is demoniac pretensions to subvert Hinduism and subjugate Hindus. That some educated and well-connected Indians support their activities only means that traitors exist and should be treated as such.

India is known for its spiritualism and religiosity, and the evangelists are aiming to sabotage this very facade that has made this country unique and a nation to look up to at times of moral crisis. Unfortunately, the pseudo-secularist parties, instead of curbing these provocative activities, grab any chance coming their way to sympathize with minorities for votes.

Look at the DMK and CPM, who never are tired castigating BJP for not protecting minorities, whereas, comparatively speaking, instances of Christian and their churches being attacked, are more in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In fact, the BJP record in maintaining inter-religious harmony is much better than any other so-called pro-minority parties. Sensible sections of the minorities acknowledge this.

So, in this context what should be the way out to tackle religious subversions? Should the defense of India imitate Joseph Stalin’s ruthless, unforgiving campaign against the Nazi attempt to wipe out Russia and its Slavic people? Stalin had executed dissenters and collaborators without pity and eventually crushed the Nazis in epic struggles without parallel in recorded history. This has to be debated.