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Monday, January 23, 2012

Ranji Update – Adelaide Expectation and Empty prattle.

With the Indian reverses down under, I thought of following my own State’s fortune in the premier domestic tournament – the Ranji Trophy. 

TN had many favourable factors – it has a mature leader; many star performers, Mukund, Vijay, Badri, Dinesh Karthik, Balaji have all played for the Nation and they were playing at their home turf against an opponents where the notable names were Akash Chopra and Kanitkar – an easy prey of an opposition one thought and a golden opportunity to repeat what was achieved way back in 1987-88 by S. Vasudevan. 

Who calls India poor country ?  There are waiting crowds at Gold shops; people keep buying at malls; airports are busy, share market sees huge volumes of trade  - the prize money for the Ranji Elite winner is a whopping 2 crore – even the losing Semi finalists get 50 lakhs each !!

The whole of the first day, TN could not dislodge a single batsman as Akash Chopra and little known Vineet Saxena grounded to dust – the second day was marginally better – two wickets fell as Rajasthan moved ahead at snail’s pace.  Vineet Saxena remained unconquered for the second successive day  as he completed his double ton.   People started criticizing the approach of Rajasthan telling that their batting lacked stroke play and positivity and that they were hell bent upon simple staying on an unthreatening dead pitch.  It was only patience as only 15 runs were scored in the first hour.  Eventually they were all out for 621. 

It appears that the rule for the Ranji finals is that it the team’s first innings is incomplete, the winner will be decided on the run rate, provided the team batting second had played at least 30 overs – this seemed probable at least in the minds of Tamil Nadu supporters. 

Incidentally, the 1981-82 final between Delhi and Karnataka, played in Delhi, was extended to the sixth day, to enable the hosts to gain a first-innings lead.  GR Viswanath, the Karnataka captain, elected to bat, a decision that proved appropriate as the visitors went on to amass 705. In reply Delhi could not gain the lead even at the end of the final day's play. But in an unprecedented move, play was extended to the sixth day, and a little before tea, Delhi, under Mohinder Amarnath, scored 707 for 8. By virtue of their first-innings lead, Delhi emerged winners on March 29, 1982, the extra day.
All that went up as things were totally different when it was TN’s turn to bat.  On the same day, when Rajasthan scored that massive score, TN lost 3 wickets – those 3 who had played for India in recent past.  Dinesh Karthik offered some resistance but his century was not good enough as the visitors gained a massive 326 run first innings lead.  Hrishikesh Kanitkar did not enforce the follow on and the last day's play is only a formality before the presentation ceremony begins.

Down under the National Team would battle it out at Adelaide Oval tomorrow (Jan 24) trying to save another whitewash threat that is looming large.   It is less than a month since we started our campaign at Melbourne on Boxing day and the circle of ignominy is complete.  Now there are catcalls for dropping the famed middle order.  Tomorrow there will be no Dhoni but stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag whose place itself is other questionable.  The first task would be play the Test to its full 5 days.    Prasanna Wriddhiman Saha is now talked about a quality gloveman – he has got his place in the absence of Dhoni  Ashwin is certain to come back in the place of Vinaykumar who was thrashed all over the park.  Ponting is 81 short of 13000 runs in Test cricket.

There are some reports in newspapers attributed to Gambhir – his calling for  "rank turners" to be prepared in India for visiting teams  - nothing would prevent the host in playing to their strengths and this has happened before.  But that would never be a solace for the poor performances continuously on tours.  More then losing the present bunch has played it so badly that they are not entering the 4th day of the match and we have faltered against the not-so-fearsome attacks.   It is only the frustration that is flowing out.  There was another statement of Gambhir stating that he puts a lot of premium on his side doing well here — more than even the elusive 100th international hundred of Sachin Tendulkar.  This needs not be overstated at all as the National and Team’s interest should any day be a priority that any individual milestones and 100th 100 is in fact no milestone at all – as it combines 2 different forms of cricket, conveniently ignoring the 3rd format, as Sachin played only 1 in that. 

It is time when Indian players make statement only with their performance putting back their dismal displays and vowing to play with dedication.  Runs scored, wickets taken and the result of the match would be the only indicators and no amount of rhetoric by anyone takes us anywhere !!!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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