Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ashes and its hangover

Looking at the English Isle from up above in the sky...one must've thought he's watching a game of ping pong, England and Australia fighting it out and the momentum being the little ball. I can't say, England couldn't lose the series, but I would say, Australia didn't know how to win the series this year.

Wales finally getting a test, Cardiff never knew they were in for a party. After Australia put England back on the mat, replying to England's three fifties with four centuries, Australia just couldn't blow England apart in 4 sessions. The likes of Monty Panesar would never even have dreamt of carrying his bat for 11 overs even in the nets. Something for Australa to cry over the upcoming days... Batting were good from both sides (England forgot a few tricks later on though). English bowling lacked the sting, Australian bowling however didn't know to mop things up for the celebration. The test will be more remembered for Pietersen't artistic ways of getting out. In the first innings, he dragged the ball from Japan to California to spoon a catch to the leg side... it was more embarassing in the second innings, allowing the ball a free-pass to the top of the stumps. Hilfy would've been happier if KP had played and missed it, but KP rather chose the charitable method.

Lord's Lord's Lord's Lord'!!!
I always say, Lord's is a very boring pitch... It never assisted the pacers as much you would want to on an English pitch. I guess the Ashes demanded the change...and the pacers did have a say. Cook and captain Strauss put on a good partnership up the order, without which their batting card looks like uncooked spaghetti fallen on the floor... raw, incomplete and not-good-enough. Andersen and Onions combined to knock off the Australians for a small total and in quick time, just about 60 overs... Only Huss with a gritty 51 could hold his held high. With some quick runs on the board, Australia were set a target of 522 with two days to play. Too big a task for the Australians... If chasing a 400+ is like walking on water, surviving two rain-less days is like swimming in thin air. So, the moment called for a hero, and there he was - Andreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew Flintoff! A five-for gave England the go-ahead in the series and the Australians were left with themselves to blame.

NeWs - KP got injured. Hurt his ankle and hurt it real bad... gonna miss the rest of the series for sure...
A rainy test at Birmingham with Jimmy's five-for and some batting blitz by Freddie and Pup, and some good swing bowling from Hilfenhaus gave the crowd something in exchange for the money they spent on the tickets.

Still 1-0.
Still, an unfinished mission, for Australia...the Ashes was leaving their grips.
Still, an uncomplete task, for England...the Ashes was not grabbed with both hands yet...

Flintoff will miss the fourth match due to sore knee. Harmy will fill in.

Heading to Headingly, with heads up, Australia knocked off the English heads, who sported four ducks in their batting order. Skittled for 103, thanks to five-for by Siddle, Australia galloped on the contributions by watson, Punter, North and Pup to gain a lead of 343 which England failed to erase and hence gift a series levelling victory to the Australians, who did their homework on their bowling. Ben, Mitch and Siddle all came good in the test. Stuart Clark had a decent game with the ball and an electrifying game with the bat.

Its going to be a crunch game at The Oval, England wanting a victory, Australia wanting to book a cupboard for the urn...

This was surely the best game of the series, for both the cricket played and for whatever was at stake...
Freddie was back in the team to play his last (sniff) test, retirement decision owing to his fitness.
SO, here we go...
First the Englishmen put up a total, from which one couldn't predict the victor easily. (PS: this innings saw Jimmy Andersen's dream run with the bat end.. he scored his first duck in tests... He holds the record for most innings without a duck on a trot since debut. ) But once the Englishmen took the ball in their hands, they had fire in their eyes and gave back the Australians a taste of their own medicine and skittled them for a paltry 160 odd... Now, the match seemed to be heading somewhere, if not into Strauss' kitty, still a lot to be played... When someone told the debutant filling in middle order batsman, Johnathan Trott, that he will be playing the game of his life, you bet he was listening...and he delivered the knock out punch that the English side needed to give to the Australians. Nearly 7 sessions to play...you may have the time, but you can't reach the touch line... Its like having a candy in the hand, but having a burnt tongue... you just can't help these situations... praying for rain was useless... I saw an Australian fan put up a big chart beaming 'Only coward pray for rain' when the Australians were pressing England in the first test. I can only guess where that bloke was during the last match... getting back to the match. the Australian top order tried...tried hard...to delay the inevitable... they were out of ammo, and then they fell. Harmy and Swann crafted the victory like tigers hunting their prey...surrounding them and attacking.

England win the series 2-1, and get back the prized possession - the urn! Never in history had a burnt piece of wood ash had so much recognition. Viva la test cricket!

Wait a min... the ODI series...
Oh yeah! the English team were too busy celebrating their test victory that they forgot to play ODI cricket... they huffed and puffed and couldn't blow the Australians down!

they lsot the first game, lost the second game, the same with third, ditto with fourth, and fifth and same in sixth!!!! 6 in a row!!! That got Australia back from fourth position to first in ODI rankings!!! A victory in the last game helped England peg Australia back to second place on that list, but England achieved nothing out of the series.

I hadn't been following the series much, so please visit http://www.cricinfo.com/engvaus2009/engine/series/345967.html vor the details of the seires..

Was also busy with some personal work during the tri series in New Zealand, which India won in some style against SL in the finals, having lost to the same team in a pathetic fashion a couple of days before the finale... New Zealand seemed to be the side looking for help in all departments.
The series saw the return to form of Sachin and Harbhajan for India.
Follow the seires on http://www.cricinfo.com/compaq/content/series/403358.html

Coming up next - Champions Trophy from South Africa.
This is an important series because SA, AUS, IND and SL will be trying to reach the numero uno spot on the ODI table, while England Pakistan will be trying to restore some lost pride. WI will like to see what they are worth and New Zealand will look for some answers out in the open.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Summer in Isles

Bangladeshfor once believed they could finally do it... Get an ODI and test series victory over a much better team than Zimbabwe. They were helped by the fact that the whole of recognized WI team decided to protest against the board contract and hence Bangladesh would be playing a team which may arguably be even worse than Zimbabwe... But who cares??? Ten years down the line when a Bangladeshi kid reads 'Bangladesh beat WI', won't he be excited???

So, that fiasco happens a day before the first test and the whole Caribbean Isles are in a state of surprise... A new look, newest look team is flow in from various Isles. Floyd Reifer was named the captain, and Tino Best with 12 tests to his name was the most experienced of the playing XI which featured 7 debutants.

First test, Bangladesh, captained by Mortaza for an innings (injured in the other) steamrolled past WI, courtesy their tweakers. Second test was very much the same. So, there it was - Bangladesh blank WI 2-0.

Bangladesh's first test victory abroad, B'desh's first test SERIES victory abroad!

the ODI's had some good news - that, the WIPA decided to shake hands with the WICB. But the WICB decided to give them a good return gift by keeping them out of the ODI series! So, you know what to expect in the ODI series! A 3-0 blanking of WI by Bangladesh under Shakib-ul-Hassan's captaincy and all round brilliance.

Some dream series that.

Moving away to the region where Christopher Columbus was supposed to travel to - the subcontinent. Pakistan travel to Sri Lanka for the 3 test and 5 ODI series.

In the first and second test, Pakistan was SO much close to winning that one can just close his eyes and say, the match is over... but then there was Rangana Herath, called in for Murali who was injured. And the orthodox bowler who showed no jet-lag on arrival from his English county stint, just turned the boards around in an hour of the fourth (was it fifth???) morning, which the whole world thought was a day of formality for Pakistan to knock off those runs. Same in the second test. The match swung from one side to the other more frequent than a man eating meals. Sri Lanka had the last laugh after Pakistan failed miserably again after their superb show in the first innings. Third test was more of Sri Lanka's own test to lose... they preferred not to lose and took the series home.

The ODI series was won by Sri Lanka at the end of the third game, and then Pakistan won the other two just to make the final tally look pretty even at 3-2.

So, up next - the all important Ashes, Australia vs England 7 match ODI series, the India-Sri Lanka - New Zealand tri series and the build up to the Champions Trophy