Friday, December 26, 2008

Domestic Cricket Returns to the Screen

Posted by Soulberry
Bengal vs Tamil Nadu


Yesterday, I had a bit of time since noon and I took a chance with Neo Television. Running the risk of being straddled with the umpteenth replay of some past match for the effort, one was pleasantly surprised to see the "Live" tag in the right top corner of the screen. "Hold on there" one thought, "India can't be playing unless one has missed something!"

Sure enough, one was rewarded within the minute for the patience and risk; the band appeared at the bottom of the screen proclaiming the title of the match - Bengal v Tamil Nadu - and Manoj Tiwary (I haven't given up on him like the selectors) at the crease with Wriddhiman Saha. Live Ranji action was back on television! Thanks had given up hope and something's surely better than nothing.

Keeping Riches

India is not limited to Mahendra Singh Dhoni for a wicketkeeper batsman. It has every possible combination available for the wicketkeeper-batsman's slot. If Dhoni is now a combination of passable 'keeper, improving test batsman and divine skipper, then there is KD Karthik who is a much better test batsman and a determined keeper. Then there is the evergreen Parthiv Patel, perhaps as good a batsman as KD Karthik, comparable with Dhoni in the shorter game, unfortunately perhaps a stagnated gloveman.

Shreevats Goswami is a combination of youth and promise. An attacking age-group opener and an agile keeper, this lad will be on the radar in the times ahead.

But the man who has really forced himself into public consciousness with his self-belief is Wriddhiman Saha of Bengal. Here is a batsman who is probably the best of the lot. Well, KD Karthik could be a nose ahead in the longer game stakes, but is probably the best gloveman in the country at the moment.

He comes one-down for Bengal which not only is good for the lad and must continue, but also reveals the esteem in which his team holds his batsmanship. And Bengal is no mean team in the Ranji circuit.

I settled back to watch him and one of my favorite young players, Manoj Tiwary, play.

Saha disappointed me with just a fifty even though it was in the manner I have come to expect of him. A short treat yesterday and hopefully it shall be a full course meal tomorrow to push the boys around a bit. Maybe more if he can plough through the unfortunate times for Indian 'keepers who must wait fo Dhoni to hang up his gloves.

The Forgotten Debutant

Manoj Tiwary played a gem. In fact he is still playing it. He hasn't had a great time of it since his shoulder injury did him in on the brink of a test debut in the India nets back in 2007.

Following his surgery, it has been a gradual process of recovery.

Ever since I saw him play two seasons ago (before Pujara) I felt this man must play for India in future. Perhaps as a replacement for Dravid when that time comes. He had his opportunity much sooner; in fact, soon after India's disastrous World Cup 2007. His enthusiasm during the fielding drills resulted in a fall which upset his shoulder and the rest, as they say, is history. Manoj Tiwary became history as well.

The current domestic season hasn't been too kind to him either; the requisite volume of runs were simply not there even if the averages were reasonably good. And he had just two hundreds with a top score of 109 in a season where multiple triple centuries aren't enough to get you a national call-up ( Cheteshwar Pujara). So it is in this background that the forgotten miss-debutant played this innings against the raging fashion of this season's Ranji - Tamil Nadu.

Anyone who saw him play yesterday would have been delighted - by the way he stepped forward and leaned over the ball and clipped it neatly off his toes to the mid-wicket boundary. Or with the languid precision with which he leaned back just enough, on his toes, to square cut the rising ball which perforated the space between two fielders and ended up at the point boundary. And did you see that forward defence? So correct that you could take a photograph of it if you could and post it as an example for learners and regulars alike. You mind told you he should be playing with the big boys, your head shook side-to-side suggesting that'll probably not happen anytime soon, and your heart screamed out for the lad, raging against the bad luck which dogged him at the threshold.

Yesterday's innings bore the hallmark of Manoj Tiwary - it was unmistakably his - watch out for more today as the man wants to make it a really big one this time. He had that look in his eyes and his body spoke such a language.

134 not out is where he will begin today. Pleasing as his game was yesterday, I urge connosuiers to watch him play today if they missed yesterday. Let's not forget this young man - he and Pujara are the two who must be the first replacements/inductees in the senior team.


He still swings the ball both ways. India could use that. The pace is a bit off though and he has no wickets to show yet. Tamil Nadu would be hoping he can address that situation today.

There is plenty to look forward to in this match. The in-form TN batsmen are yet to play. And can one forget D Chakrabarty's innings yesterday? makes you wonder if the batsmen are really getting better at the domestic level or are the bowlers becoming poorer?

Bengal are still in strife - someone will have to stay long enough with Manoj Tiwary to set up a challenge to the Tamil Nadu cavaliers.


N.Balajhi said...

TN is in the dumps SB. It's now in DK's hands. If he could wring up another century with some support then TN might just make a game of it. Even then first innings lead is very difficult from this stage. It's annoying to note that it is a 4 day game.

Tiwary was unlucky I guess. Hope he cashes in whatever opportunity that comes his way to reclaim his position as the bright prospect. The brightest prospect has slowed down a bit. Pujara hasn't scored much in the last 2 or 3 games. In fact he has 3 big centuries and 4 below 50 scores. Today again he was out for 1. Hope it's only a temporary blip.

Balaji has a long way to go before he can imagine India recall. He has to up his pace bit more, at least to early 130's.

I am also impressed with Saha's batting slot. But with Dhoni at the helm it will be bleak times for Indian wicket keepers. They can at best hope to be travellers. Dhoni won't give up gloves.

Soulberry said...

TN muffed it at the end. DK was picked up by a diving Tiwary behind the wicket for 46.

I don't know why everyone was going for shots when maybe some grafting was needed in a tight session of play.

Mukund looks first sighter of him.

Do you want to write about the second day's play?

N.Balajhi said...

There still is some hope for TN. I read DK was undone by a poor decision in cricinfo. Is that true?

I also read Tiwary was fielding like a panther. Cricinfo mentioned that he's like a eletrical fence in the covers. Good to read something like that about an Indian's fielding ability. Hope he makes it sooner to the India side. Good luck for him.

I was also surprised by some hitting TN batsmen after they lost initial wickets. But SB given the fact that TN is so much behind, and it is a 4 day game, their best chance is an outright win. Instead of grinding down till tomorrow second session and failing to take a lead, they may be better off reducing the lead in quick time and have more than 2 sessions tomorrow to try their luck with the ball. That may give them a target of 300+ on the final day if their gambit works.

No Neo for me SB. Whatever I can, I can do it only from other reports. I think you should do it, also I am looking forward to your verdict of TN's display today, especially their batting, Balaji's bowling this morning and Tiwary's fielding.

N.Balajhi said...

It looks like UP and Mumbai have already registered their semi-final spots. Karnataka is more likely to do it tomorrow, save for a combination of Jadeja-Pujara miracle.

Bengal has an upper hand against TN and are currently favourites to book a semi-final berth from this match. It would take a lot for TN to take a first innings lead from their current position. I think they should reduce the lead to below 100 in good time and bowl really, really well as if it would save their lives and go for the runs on the last day. It's a steep hill climb for TN. Bengal just need some disciplined performance to seal the match.

Soulberry said...

Please check your E-mail Bala. I sent you a useful link to end your viewing woes. :) Have to rush right now. be back in a little while.

N.Balajhi said...

Wow what a script for the final day, SB.

TN is almost home thanks to Balaji, Vijay, Mukund and Badri. DK is helping Badri to get a hundred here. As I type Bengal denied Badri the century by bowling wides. Obviously Tiwary wouldn't like to see one of his competitors score a century here. But then it is a famous and inspired victory for TN. Hats off to the guys. Hope they give it their best against Mumbai or which other team they meet in the semi's.

Saurashtra's come back is brilliant. They now need 104 runs in the last session with 32 overs to go and 6 in hand. More importantly Pujara is batting with 70+ and Jadeja with 30+. Jadeja also came good with ball. So this is the Jadeja - Pujara magic coming good for Saurashtra. No miracle required as I thought, with Karnataka folded out cheaply in the second essay. These two youngsters promise a lot for India. We may unearth the all rounder we are longing for in Jadeja. Good luck to the duo.

Soulberry said...

Congratulations Bala! Your namesake did it for TN!

And that Pujara boy...draft him into the team I say!


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