Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ganguly : will play in upcoming IPL 2013

Former India captain, Sourav Ganguly has said that he has no intentions of playing in the upcoming Indian Premier League despite holding a contract with the Sahara Pune Warriors for one more season. Ganguly has revealed that he has told his bosses at Pune that he wished to end his playing time and would not be available for selection during the 2013 season of the mega tournament. 

"I had a wonderful time playing in the IPL for five seasons. It gave me a chance to keep playing top-class cricket even after quitting international cricket. But I can't go on forever, and I have requested the franchise owners not to consider me for IPL 6," Sourav told TOI on Sunday. 

Ganguly played the first three seasons of the Indian Premier League for the Kolkata Knight Riders. He led the team as an icon player in the first edition. A poor show meant that 'Dada' as he is fondly called was stripped of his captaincy during a disastrous second edition in South Africa. Ganguly did return to the helm in the subsequent season but failed to take his team to the semi-finals. 

He then had to bear the humiliation of not being considered good enough by any of the 10 franchises during the 2011 auctions but later made a late entry into the Pune team following an injury to Ashish Nehra. He took over as the captain in the fifth edition and led his franchise to a last place finish. 

They were rumors floating along that Ganguly would not be a part of the Pune management's plans for the 6th edition of the tournament and instead would be offered a role in the team as a 'mentor'. 

Sourav Ganguly has also decided to opt out of the Ranji Trophy Team for Bengal for the upcoming season. Ganguly had retired from international cricket in 2008 but had continued to be a part of the domestic set-up. 

In Ganguly's absence, Manoj Tiwary has been named the captain. There were indications given by a senior official in the Bengal Board that 'Dada' could return later in the season. "He would not play the first two matches, but depending on our team's position we may get his services later on," Sujan Mukherjee, the secretary of the Bengal board said. "It's a youthful side but we have players with international experience, looking forward to a positive season," he added. 

Squad: Manoj Tiwary (capt), Parthasarathi Bhattacharjee, Rohan Banerjee, Jayojit Basu, Writam Porel, Anustup Majumdar, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Iresh Saxena, Ashok Dinda, Sourav Sarkar, Arnab Nandy, Veer Pratap Singh, Subhomoy Das and Aritra Chatterjee 

Cook : Challenging with India

England's new Test captain Alastair Cook said that his team was determined to defy history and win a Test series in India for the first time in 27 years. 

England last won a series on Indian soil way back in 1985 when David Gower's men came from behind after losing the first Test to win 2-1, but Cook said the upcoming four-match series will be keenly fought. 

"This is undoubtedly a huge challenge for us," Cook told reporters after the squad arrived in Mumbai for the double-leg tour which also includes two Twenty20 games and five one-day internationals. 

"History suggests it is hard to win in India. After all we have not won a series here in almost 30 years. But we have a great squad determined to do well. We are aware of the challenges and look forward to the series." 

"It is going to be a huge series because it is between two very good sides. Both sides have world-class players and whoever handles the conditions better will win." 

Cook, 27, took over as skipper after Andrew Strauss retired at the end of the last home series against South Africa, which the tourists won 2-0 to take over from England as the top-ranked Test side. 

The Essex opener has previously led England in two Tests in Bangladesh in 2010 when Strauss chose to rest, but the India series will be his first as a full-time captain. 

It was in India in 2006 that Cook made a memorable Test debut, scoring 60 and an unbeaten 104 in Nagpur after being flown in from the 'A' tour of the West Indies to replace Marcus Trescothick. 

"I have some very good memories of India," he said. "It is a great place to play cricket and there is a lot of passion for the game here." 

"I look forward to doing well here but all of us will have to contribute with both bat and ball if we are going to win." 

England will face a home team keen to make amends for the humiliating 4-0 defeat in England last year that dethroned Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men as the number one Test side. 

Cook wanted his team to prepare for the Test series, which opens in Ahmedabad on November 15, by winning the three preceding warm-up matches. 

"There is no better way to prepare than win these matches," he said. "They are not merely warm-up games, they are first-class matches. We need to get used to the conditions as early as possible." 

The first warm-up match against India 'A' starts at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday. This will be followed by another three-day fixture in Mumbai and a four-day game in Ahmedabad. 

The four back-to-back Tests will be held in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kolkata and Nagpur. 

The tourists, who will also play two Twenty20 matches after the Tests, will go home for Christmas before returning in the New Year for a five-match one-day series. 

John Wright : Sachin will bounce back

Former India and New Zealand coach, John Wright, has expressed confidence that Sachin Tendulkar will overcome his technical flaws and come roaring back into form during the forthcoming series against England. 

In an interview to the Hindu newspaper, Wright mentioned that Tendulkar has gone through these phases several times but reckons he is still good enough to come out on top. "If I recollect, Tendulkar underwent a similar period in 2002 when he was getting bowled a lot. During the West Indies series, the left-arm pacer Pedro Collins troubled him a lot. However, I think that this is not a matter of serious concern for I believe he is good enough to overcome the challenge. 

Tendulkar has endured a poor run since scoring his 100th international century in March in the Asia Cup match against Bangladesh. He has hit only one half-century in the IPL and struggled in the recently concluded CLT20. In the Test match series against New Zealand, he was bowled in all three innings when he batted, leading to questions about his technique. 

Wright expressed confidence that Tendulkar might score a century or double century in the series and added that playing against top teams like England and Australia will give him plenty of motivation. Wright's views were echoed by former Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist when he pointed out that periods of loss in form are unavoidable especially when one has a long career like Sachin Tendulkar. 

Wright stated that he was also not concerned about Virender Sehwag's poor form. "He is an exciting player. His record in the first innings of a Test match is ominous and he needs one good knock to turn the corner." 

MS Dhoni : misses first round ranji trophy

The Indian captain, MS Dhoni, will miss the first leg of the upcoming Ranji Trophy due to a cold and cough infection. The opening round of matches are scheduled to be held across various venues in the country from the 2nd to the 5th of November. 

All the marquee Indian players have decided to play for their respective Ranji sides. Not only will it give them some invaluable match practice ahead of the first Test against England starting in Ahmedabad from the 15th of November, but it would also add that extra sheen and kick off the revamped Ranji Trophy in a grand style and give the rest of the players that extra motivation for the rest of the season. 

Dhoni hasn't represented Jharkhand for the last five years. "For the last six or seven years, I have been playing for India regularly and this time the local association asked me whether I was fit or not. I told them that I have cough and cold and not to consider me for selection," Dhoni was quoted as saying at the opening of a fitness training centre in a South Delhi mall. 

Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Ishant Sharma, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina will be playing in the Delhi vs UP game in Ghaziabad. 

Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan will be playing for Mumbai against Railways while Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Pragyan Ojha are set to play in the game between Hyderabad and Punjab. 

Ravichandran Ashwin will be playing for Tamil Nadu in Orissa. Cheteshwar Pujara will represent Saurashtra against Gujarat while Umesh Yadav is supposed to play for Vidarbha against Haryana at Rohtak. 

Ranji Trophy (Opening Round) - Key Players: 

Mumbai vs Railways: Tendulkar, Zaheer, Rohit Sharma, Rahane 

Delhi vs UP: Sehwag, Gambhir, Ishant, Kohli, Raina 

Tamil Nadu vs Orissa: Ashwin, Mukund, Vijay 

Saurashtra vs Gujarat: Pujara 

Punjab vs Hyderabad: Harbhajan, Yuvraj, Ojha, Rahul Sharma 

Vidarbha vs Haryana: Umesh Yadav, Amit Mishra 

Bengal vs Rajasthan: Manoj Tiwary, Ashok Dinda. 

Openers : Virender, Gautam out of form

Hey....! we look back at the history of the game of cricket, any team which has dominated a particular era have had one thing in common - they boasted of a very formidable opening pair. Be it Greenidge and Haynes for the West Indies in the 70s or Hayden and Langer for the Aussies in the first half of the last decade, these redoubtable opening pairs played a major role in the success of their team.

The same is true to a certain extent for the Indian opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, whose contribution was significant in the team attaining the numero uno spot in Tests last year.

After being pummelled in two away series by England and Australia, the Indian team now finds itself at number five in Test rankings. A major reason for their decline is the dismal form of the openers. Gambhir and Sehwag’s failure to perform individually and to provide decent starts to the team is best highlighted by the fact that the last time they shared a century partnership was way back in December 2010.

Indian cricket likes to live in a state of blissful oblivion where discomforting issues are camouflaged by claims of inconsequential success. The BCCI will never address the issue of a series of poor performances on foreign soil but will boast about the success of the IPL and the opportunity it provides to emerging players to compete with the best in the business. Amidst the hullabaloo over the team’s limited success in the shortest and the shorter format of the game, a few very significant issues are escaping the attention of the cricket administrators.

One issue which demands immediate thinking, planning and action is the future of Gambhir and Sehwag as openers in all three formats of the game. The Sehwag-Gambhir opening pair has failed to provide decent starts to the team in recent times. They will in all probability be retained for the home series against England. They may even manage a few decent knocks against the English attack in Indian pitches, but that will not do Indian cricket any good in the long run. Gambhir, although a very good player of spin bowling, looks vulnerable against the quality pace bowlers, especially on foreign soil.

Dhoni did take a step in the right direction by dropping Sehwag in a couple of matches in recent times but public opinion and media scrutiny compelled him to play it safe by including him in the following matches. India will need to win Tests in away series to regain the number one spot in Test cricket, something which they lost to the English team last year. Also since the next World Cup is slated to be played in Australia, it would be wiser to use the upcoming home series against England and Australia to build a team that would have the technical skills to put up a fight in foreign conditions.

The selection committee, the coach and the captain should sit together and discuss the options available and probably try somebody like Ajinkya Rahane in the home series before the tough test waiting in South Africa. Short term solutions like asking Yuvraj Singh to open will not be beneficial for Indian cricket.

Opening is a specialist position and specialists should be deployed to guard the fortress and lead the attack against the opposition. A perfect example would be Aakash Chopra who was brought in to the side to counter the then mighty Aussie attack in 2003-2004. Although he did not manage to score big runs he did the job of seeing off the new ball to perfection. Technical prowess is a must for an opener to survive and succeed especially in foreign conditions. Our very own Sunil Gavaskar would be a perfect example of this characteristic.

Indian batsmen have always been susceptible to short balls in the pacey and bouncy wickets of Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand. However the irritating part is that they have not improved on this aspect of their game and this weakness is exploited by every team even to this day. A champion team needs to compete and triumph in all parts of the world and not just in their own backyard. The Indian team was thrashed 4-0 in their last two series in England and Australia and it is high time that remedial measures be taken to avoid such embarrassments in the future.

There are no shortcuts to success in the Test arena and India would do best to bring about some drastic changes in the way the game is managed in the country. Preparing some fast and bouncy wickets at home would be a better option than primitive methods like practising with a tennis ball. The board could also encourage promising players to participate in foreign domestic leagues rather than asking them to play the IPL which destroys all the characteristics required for success in Tests.