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February - March 2005

India Sport Scene

Hockey & Cricket

by Ramesh Seedhar

India beats Spain at hockey

India salvaged some pride by beating Spain 3-2 in the second match of the two test series. They were playing Spain before beginning their Champions trophy campaign in December.
India led at half time. The first goal was scored by Ignace Tirkey in the 10th minute. This was followed by a penalty corner conversion by Sandeep Singh in the 23rd minute. Spain came much determined in the second half and the Indian goal remained under constant attack with Spain eventually scoring. Spain’s second goal came only after India was awarded a penalty stroke in the second half that Arjun Halppa converted. Despite further attacks Spain could not level the score. India’s win meant that the test series was drawn 1-1.
In the Champions trophy they came fourth. They were beaten by Pakistan 2-3 in the bronze medal play off. Spain provided the twist in the tail by finishing surprise winners. They upset defending champion Holland to clinch their first Champions trophy title 4-2.

Taufel’s umpiring has been ordinary.
Simon Taufel has truly impressed with the consistency of his bad umpiring. In the South Africa India series. He refused to give the batsman out when the delivering were hitting the pads within the stumps, yet he gave leg before wicket to one that pitched well outside the leg stump. If the theory of the benefit of doubt was applied and the issue of where the ball was pitched was not considered, even then the doubt that the ball struck the Indian captain on or just outside the leg stump was enough to declare him not out. The poor umpiring of late makes one wonder if subconsciously the umpires react adversely to the media criticism. The standard of umpiring from the International panel of umpires in India has been poor. Billy Bowden was completely out of sorts in India. However, poor umpiring was compensated for by the players, who walked backed to the pavilion even before the umpire declared them out.

The new rule regarding the bowling action is very puzzling and will be difficult to implement. The rule permits a bend in the elbow by a percentage. The umpire can hardly be standing there with an elbow angle detector. The ICC has only two options, either to go back to the old rulebook or allow chucking to be part of the game. Similarly the ICC will need to view the introduction and use of technology in cricket umpiring. Having started to use the third umpire and his access to television, where does one stop or should one stop at all? Would it not be better just to go the full distance and allow the third umpire to decide on each and every decision.

The introduction of the third umpire and decisions through television further compromises the laws of cricket by allowing a chucker to gain entry into a very noble and pure sport. It has already destroyed the romance and spirit of the game. It is not the fault of the laws that large sums of money have come into the sport. It should be used to protect the players that have large sponsorships by helping them to perform better through the aid of technology. To many the game is still pure and to compromise it with half-baked laws would be very sad and would kill the true spirit of cricket. The ICC should go either one way or another. Going back to the old laws would be welcomed by all lovers of the sport.

According to Shaharryar Khan the Pakistan team coach Bob Woolmer may well be getting the highest salary among all international coaches. He is paid £80,000 per annum plus bonuses depending upon the success rate he brings for the nation.

India South Africa Series

Harbhajan Singh and the unpredictable Eden Gardens wicket combined lethally to make India win the match and the series.

The ball of the test was that one that got Kallis out. It was a tossed up delivery bowled right up to the bat, with a huge amount of spin that made it dip and curl at the very end thereby tricking Kallis into a cover drive. Bright players would know that once they have made a mistake and then try to correct the error, it can often lead to fatal results. Two wrongs do not make a right. Well done Harbhajan Singh. The day the off-spinner realises his immense potential and the use of flight and line to deceive, he will be a complete bowler. Sachin Tendulkar was having problems with the delivery that was coming in and knew that he had to correct this defect before it got out of hand.

Any shuffling batsman has a natural weakness to the coming delivery. The moment Sachin realised that the wicket may also play uneven it took him only a short time to understand that maybe it was his shuffle that was getting him in trouble, and he stopped all initial movement in his stance. He played each ball on his merits and looked as solid as ever.

Two of the nicest and most talented cricketers in India share the honour of taking the highest number of wickets in the country. The true gentleman Anil Kumble, the perfect aristocrat cricketer, joins the legendary Kapil Dev as the highest wicket taker. If one was to choose a cricketer who would truly epitomise the game in its truest spirit it would have to be the Anil Kumble. It is such a pleasure to see him perform with the same zest and gusto that he had when he played his first test. The curator of Eden Garden bowled a highly deceptive wrong one when, prior to the game, he said that the track would carry but would be slow. However the bowl was bouncing like a yo-yo with such sharp turns and uneven bounce that it soon became a frustrating ordeal for the inexperienced South Africans. Except for Kallis and Smith it was obvious that the players were not technically equipped to handle such tracks. South Africa lost because India had players of the calibre of Shewag, Kumble and Harbhajan who, given the smallest of opportunity on a tricky wicket, have the ability to annihilate the opposition. It is impossible to stop Shewag when he is on a roll. Similarly, it is impossible to play the two Indian spinners when the wicket starts to crumble. The visitors should not be too unhappy with the final results knowing the South Africans. People here were expecting them to be demolished two nil. Had the track at Eden Garden had not deteriorated so sharply when the South Africans were batting, they might have even drawn the series.

After the victory Sourav Ganguly was a relieved man. This test was hugely important to him as a Captain. He had missed the last two tests against Australia owing to injuries. Coming into this series there was also the threat of a two-match ban that was revoked later.
.It is always important to have a win under your belt. Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh played an immense role in scripting the dramatic revival of India’s recent dismal fortunes. Kumble became India’s highest joint wicket taker by equalling Kapil Dev’s record of 434 test wickets.
India’s team captain Sourav Ganguly could thank the Indian High Commissioner in Georgetown for saving him from the two-match ban. A fax message from the Georgetown-based Indian High Commissioner quoted that the ICC match referee Clive Lloyd had also breached the ICC code of conduct. It was well received by BCCI chief Ranbir Singh. It was put forward by the lawyer at the tele-conference which may have prompted the appeals Commissioner Castle to be soft on Ganguly. Lloyd was harsh when he said that Sourav Ganguly had to play by the rules and had taken into account that the ground was wet. He alleged that four times the ball was changed and time was wasted on Pakistan batsman Butt’s and Rahul Dravid’s injury. Lloyd was wrong. The bowlers were finding it difficult to bowl and they had to clean the ball. Lloyd never considered the reason and the circumstances. Clive Lloyd had made up his mind to punish Ganguly because during Australia - India series Ganguly had reported to match referee of bad umpiring of Steve Buckner, the West Indian umpire.

India vs. Bangladesh 1st Test
India completed the formalities of thrashing Bangladesh by an innings and 140 runs in a one-sided contest to take 1-0 lead in the two test series. It was a commanding performance with a huge first innings total of 526 built around a career best 248 by Sachin Tendulkar. Pathan claimed his first 11 wickets, and a record breaking half century by Zaheer Khan who became the world’s top scorer for a number 11 batsman. Zaheer also capped his successful come back from a period of injuries and low form.

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