Friday, December 28, 2007

Reality Bites for India

I can safely say that I'm not speaking purely with the benefit of hindsight. A few things to consider.

  1. Yuvraj Singh I don't think has ever even scored more than 30 other than on flat tracks at home and in Pakistan. He may yet go on to do great things, but his 169 against Pakistan was not the great knock that many said it was. It came in amongst first innings scores of 630 and 530, both scored at around four runs per over, which tells you about the track in Bangalore!
  2. Therefore, to sacrifice your best batsman by making him open, to accomodate Yuvraj, was a ridiculous move. Even more so when you consider Dravid's history as an opener. Eight Tests prior to this one, and India have lost five of them, drawn two, and won one. Apart from two centuries in run-fests in Pakistan, I don't think he's ever topped 20 as an opener. Therefore, the think-tank sends him in to open. Go figure.
  3. Sourav Ganguly - as someone who is far from a fan, I have to hand it to him for these two knocks. Arguably his best stuff since his comeback, in which his contribution has not been as outstanding as the statistics might lead you to believe. He's showing some guts, and while it can be argued that he managed to spend most of his time facing Hogg and Symonds, the fact remains that he was at least able to get off strike when facing the pace trio, which is more than any of the other batsmen can claim for themselves.
  4. The Pitch - what many people forget is that Australia beat India in India not so long ago. This match was played on a very Indian sort of wicket, and the Aussies are expert at bowling a suffocating line and length on those wickets. They did just that here at the MCG.
Sydney and Adelaide likely represent the two chances India have of salvaging some pride in this series.

I'll be at the Perth Test, which at this rate is likely to be a three day affair, and I hope to be at the Adelaide Oval as well, though the series may be a dead rubber at that point.

There aren't a lot of options available to India. I think they'll have to consider bringing Sehwag back in for Yuvraj, and possibly Irfan Pathan in for RP Singh to add depth to the batting line up. If we could get Parthiv Patel in for Dhoni, that would be the icing on the cake, but it isn't likely to happen.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Time Travel and other recent reads

A few of my better recent reads:

  • Anne Fadiman - The spirit catches you and you fall down
    • Wasn't sure what I was going to get here, but it turned out to be a touching story and I was riveted. First of all, it was a specific story of a culture and people that I knew nothing about, and was therefore happy to get an introduction to. It was also a harrowing tale of a poor young girl suffering from epilepsy. But more than both of those, it was a surprisingly insightful revelation of an experience that could be transposed onto any diasporic community. It just goes to show that for all our differences, things are so much the same for all of us on a fundamental level. There's so many levels on which to read this book - all of them valuable and enjoyable.
  • Michael Chabon - Kavalier and Clay
    • An excellent read. Everytime I felt it was dragging on, it shifted, which said to me that the author paced it just right. There were definitely points at which I worried that it would be descending into political propaganda, but it never quite did. I look forward to reading more about a Yiddish policeman.
  • Audrey Niffenegger - The Time Traveller's Wife
    • So I'm a sucker for time travel, so much so that I'm the person that thinks Journeyman is the only show on TV worth watching, apart from Heroes. I really couldn't lose with a book like this. And I didn't. Right at the top of my list, for the time being, at least. What really blew me away was how effectively Niffenegger managed to develop the plot and the central characters, despite operating in a chronologically challenged environment. We may have jumped back 30 years from chapter to chapter, but the individuals always progressed in our minds.
  • Mark Haddon - A Spot of Bother
    • Curious Incident was superb. I really felt like I was inside the mind of an autistic child, not that I have any idea what that would actually feel like. Haddon's follow up, "A Spot of Bother," is not perhaps on that level, but he has given us another wonderfully quirky, amusing and yet profound glimpse into a dysfunctional world. I hope I don't have to wait too long for the next one. He's on my must-read list now.
  • Harry Thompson - Penguins Stopped Play
    • Superb. If you play cricket at all, and know how to read, pick up a copy of this one! One of those that really resonated with me - I could pick out characters in my own cricketing experiences that matched up with every member of the Captain Scott squad. If you don't know who Thompson is - he's one of the creators of Ali G, and as such instrumental in the discovery of Sacha Baron Cohen. He also helped put guys like Ricky Gervais and Harry Enfield on the map - a real comedy legend!