Beer, Chips and Cricket

This is a site about drinking beer, eating chips and thinking cricket. I am not a former player, a television commentaror or a journalist; my qualification to being worthy of hearing is that I drink a lot of beer, eat a lot of chips and think a lot about cricket. The thoughts need not be politically correct and often include colourful language but there will be no deliberate bias towards any player, community or state. I don't care about popular opinion or perceptions and I speak it as I see it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Montiero wins the toss

and the chance to run the new Jordan machine at the Italian grand prix. For those wondering what this is about, there is only one new Jordan available for the Italian Grand Prix and the guy to run it was to be chosen by the toss of a coin ... and Montiero wins it ... so Karthikeyan will run the same Jordan he has been running this season. Next race, both drivers will have the new Jordan, from all reports.

Sania Mirza into the semi-finals of the Forest Hills tournament. Here she meets a hot shot 15 year old American kid ranked somewhere in the 400s ... who came into this tournament as a wild card ... and who has a wild card entry for the US Open too. Hope Mirza puts her in her place.

In the US open, Mirza will meet Malvai Washington's sister in the first round ... don't remember her first name but "Washington" is her second name ... ;-) ... while Mirza is currently ranked 50, Washington is ranked 6 places or so below her.

Did u read about the Indians reaching Bulayawo less than 24 hours before the match starts ... heh heh ... Ganguly says they couldn't do anything about it as they were just following the iternary handed to them by the Board. Following Indian cricket is so much fun and so much .... pissing off.

Anyway, here is to a great match .... Telegraph has changed its story and as of the latest report, JP Yadav is in the 11 while RP, Venu and Raina r out of the 12 ... Murali Karthik to be super-sub. Here is the link -


The Chuckster

Cricket team goes to Zimby

The great Indian circus continues in Zimbabwe .... with NZ having already killed them in their own series (as well as the first ODI of the tri-series), all it needs is for someone to fill in the grave ... hopefully the Indians would be upto the task.

There were plenty of debate-worthy stories in the past few days ... the World XI for the super series was annnounced ... and the Indian team left for Zimbabwe with its usual drama and hungama, this time accentuated by one very angry coach who reportedly couldn't understand why none of the players saw anything wrong in coming to the hotel at night when clearly instructed to assemble in the morning itself. Lol @ that one ... seriously ... I can imagine the bewilderment on Chappell's face as he realizes the only people he could have meetings and discussions with were his support team ... the players were nowhere to be seen. Funnier still is the BCCI line on this - we will ask the players the reason for their coming late ... it is ok if they had genuine reasons but not if it was just casual attitude. Lol @ that too. I can just imagine Harbhajan and Nehra telling Nair about the last minute emergencies that came up coz which they were delayed - "Really Mr. Nair ... my dog ate my cricket bat and I had to immediately go buy a new one ... that is why I got late" and Nair saying - "yes, beta ... hota hai ... next time be more careful ... don't let that dog come near when u r packing ur bat". Sheesh!

Chappell is just finding out the way Indian cricket works and my advise to him would be to take no shit ... no one is going to respect him unless he lays down the law ... he has already shown himself ready to be tough with people he feels don't give their all ... and he has to continue that ... if he slacks even a bit or tries to be their elder brother or father figure or something, these guys will walk all over him. By themselves they have nothing called discipline or shame or anything like that ... they r playing for the money ... and if Chappell wants to earn his money, he has to make sure the players "earn" their money.

Tomorrow is the match and Telegraph reports that Agarkar is certain to be in while RP / Murali Karthik would fight among themselves to be the super sub ... and the guy who might be substituted is Y Venugopal ... which indicates Venu would be part of the first eleven.

One of the guys who comes to this blog, my friend "S on Cricket" mentioned that I was being too optimistic about India's performance in SL .... I am not enthusiastic about India's performance ... I am enthusiastic about the coach's performance ... he has started to examine the raw material in front of him and that is the first step, really. Unless he finds out who is RP and who is Kaif and what they can do and not do, no point in making up battle plans. I was enthused by the fact that players played roles that were different from what they always play ... experiments were done ... that is what I wanted from Greg Chappell .... and it will become even more interesting once Tendulkar joins the team. Man, thinking of possibilities is giving me the thrills ... Tendulkar might still play like the crap he has been for the past few years ... but hey, we just might see the Tendulkar of old ... even if not the same shots coz of physical limitations, at least the same mentality as of old ... when he was King.

Anyway, what I want to see is plenty of experiments and the players to really play their guts out. The way Zimbabwe is playing, I am sure there would be a fight in the pavillion among the batsmen yet to come in as to who goes in next ... If Lou Vincent can his 170 odd, anyone can.

The WORLD XI expectely had Tendulkar in its ranks ... lol ... that probably was Gavaskar's big contribution to the selection process. In a previous post discussing coaches and their mindsets, I had said that I don't have a problem with an Indian coach, just with his mentality ... I had said at that time that it would be very tough to find an ex-player who is actually intelligent ... Gavaskar and Shastri being a couple of exceptions ... and tougher (maybe u can say impossible) to find someone who didn't have his or her own bias. Tendulkar could have an arm and leg broken ... he would still be in the WORLD XI as long as Gavaskar was on the panel. I can very well understand Imzamam being pissed off at not making the teams ... when one selects teams, more than anything else one looks at a person's current form ... and Imzamam is very much among the top. I would never pick Tendulkar in my WORLD XI either for the ODI or for the test ... five years back he would have been the first name on both lists ... not today. Again, when it is the Indian XI, I probably would have him in the teams ... not coz he is exceptional ... but coz even as crappy as he is, he is still better than many around.

Sehwag is in the ODI team ... I really wonder when people will understand that while Sehwag is special in tests coz he does things which other people do not do ... he is just plain ordinary in ODIs coz he does what everyone tries to do.

I won't discuss the WORLD XI too much coz analysing team selections is really argumentative ... and pointless. However I am glad Flintoff is in both teams ... today he probably might be one of the first names on most lists. Being in Japan, I am really regretting missing the Ashes ... I never thought I would say this but I am actually looking forward to see the English team ... and with their fast bowlers suddenly resembling the Windies quatret of old (just kidding), it must be exciting as hell to watch. Fast bowlers r always good to watch ... there is this special thrill in a fast bowler's good performance which I never get in a spinner's.

Greame Smith as captain ... well, as long as Ganguly is not the captain of the WORLD test XI, I have no complaints.

Sania Mirza probably has the best chance to win her second title this week .... at Forest Hills, the field is of 16 players and she is the third seed ... by winning the first round, she is already into the quarter finals and the first two seeds have been bounced out. Now that she has reached the top 50, her real test begins .... she will find it much harder to jump ranks from here and her talent would be really tested ... coz she is no longer playing the so-so players .... but the toppers. She has the game to match them too ... just lacks the consistency ... I saw some of her matches with the Serenas and the Kutzensovas ... she hits some brilliant shots but also muffs many simple ones. Anyway good luck to her. As of yesterday, three more Indian girls were in line for a berth in the US Open ... Shikha Oberoi, Neha Oberoi and one other girl (forget her name) moved into the second round of qualifiers. Neha Oberoi got a wild card into the qualifiers which some dumb site (TOI, I think) trumpeted as "Neha gets wild card into US open" ... lol.

Karthikeyan got a decent 14th position at Turkey and next up is the Italian Grand Prix where the new Jordan is expected to make its debut ... really, the new Jordan is very much like Ajit Agarkar's potential ... keeps threatening to show up but never does. News is that this time it is definitely it .... since they only have one car of the new model, Karthikeyan and Montiero would toss a coin to decide who drives it. These two drivers have not been on the best of terms ... if u listen to their post race comments, it is always "I was faster than Karthikeyan" or "I overtook Montiero ... " ... and even while it was being discussed who would drive the new model, both went to the press with their comments of "I was more consistent ... so I should get it" from Montiero and "I have always been faster than him ... so I should get it" from Karthikeyan.

There was news of the Arjuna awards and the Khel Ratna ... Khel Ratna goes to Rajyavardhan Rathore and no one could really dispute that. For the Arjuna awards, it seems the BCCI had nominated Kaif and Yuveraj and u know what ... double LOL @ that. Arjuna was supposed to be a master of his art ... the awards r named thus to celeberate those sportsperson who can be said to have achieved mastery of their own arts. Yuveraj Singh is a master of what ... unless he secretly teaches in some school, he really cannot be called a master of anything .... neither can Kaif. They r holding onto their spots coz no one else is there to challenge them and coz they have talent which might see them become masters some day ... certainly not today. Thankfully the committee rejected their names. I will not comment on other sportsperson who got the awards coz apart from cricket, hockey, tennis etc, I do not follow a lot of sports so closely as to be aware of a sportsperson's talent or achievement ... I do know JJ Shobha won hearts at the Olympics with her performance coz she got injured badly ... but again she did not really do that well to earn an Arjuna ... else one can say "hey, Arjuna can't have been such a hot shot".

When u talk about a SRT or a Dravid in tests and Gangs in ODIs being nominated for or winning Arjuna awards, there is a certain amount of respect in it ... they are (or were in some cases) masters of their art. Not Yuveraj Singh and Mohd. Kaif and all this riff-raff.

Another point is - If I open up a club called "Chuck's Cricket Club" and I have an outstanding batsman in my team, can I nominate him for an Arjuna award? Forget whether he wins it or not ... will the committee accept his nomination ... is this person eligible to be nominated? Didn't the BCCI tell the court that it has nothing to do with being "India"'s representative cricket body but is a private body ... and all that legal jargon. How can they really nominate anyone for an Arjuna??? Or if someone tells me "Chuck's Cricket Club" can nominate too and that person can actually win the Arjuna, then it is ok ... the BCCI can do it too. Anyone have an idea on this one?

Ok guys, it is 10:30 PM in Tokyo and I am outta here. It would be fun to follow the match tomorrow.


The Chuckster

Monday, August 15, 2005

Sehwag down the order?

Read a couple of reports that the team management is worried with Sehwag's contribution in ODIs and is considering moving him down the order since he seems to fritter away his starts most of the times.

Well, this theory has been part of the Chuckster's blog for a long time now ... take Sehwag down the order, said the Chuckster so many times, didn't he? Seriously guys, Sehwag and Dhoni down the order could give India a devastating punch down the order which probably could only be matched by Klusener in the Cronje era. I am not advocating this shift for Sehwag just till the time he gets his touch back or whatever they think is wrong with him ... I am advocating this as a standard practice ... specially with the new rules coming into the picture from the next tournament onward, a Sehwag down the order with the field in could wreck havoc ... the simple point being the bowlers won't be so fresh and neither will be the ball.

Of course that opens up the question as to who should open ... as long as Ganguly is playing, I am under no doubt that he takes one spot ... once SRT comes back, I guess he will take the other ... as for now, hey ... have fun ... send Dravid up and see what happens. The opposition is only gonna be zimbabwe, for chris sakes. Even send in Yuveraj or JP ... whoever goes, I am certain in my mind that once SRT comes back, they would be out of the opening slot ... so just have fun while it lasts.

I just hope they don't send Dhoni to open. In addition to smashing my Sehwag / Dhoni combination down below, it would really be no better than Sehwag as far as any consistency goes.

Rumblings in the Indian team, indeed! Kumble going so far as to remark - "it seems it is always the Laxmans and the Anils who r dropped .... " or words to that effect. With Sehwag piping his "Ganguly is the best choice" chant, seems like the famed Team India is not so closely knit after all. Greg Chappell better take a hand in this pretty soon else things will get ugly.

Finally one thought to end this post with. Though I have had great admiration for Ganguly's abilility in picking and backing "his" players, I also thought he sometimes went too far in playing God ... a Yuveraj can get a 100 chances but a Ramesh cannot ... a Murali Karthik or Debashis Mohanty don't get a look in but a Zaheer and Nehra can always pop back whenever they want. A Yuveraj can be shoved into the test team but a Laxman cannot be accomodated in the ODI team.

Backing players is good ... blocking those he feels r not good enough is another thing altogether ... and I have felt that Gangs has been guilty of doing that ... once everyone starts talking about Ganguly's boys and Ganguly's team, maybe he started to believe the hype. Now with Chappell as coach, I expect Ganguly's boys to pull their weight or get chucked out on their ear without the "mai baap" to protect their ass ... and that includes Ganguly himself ... before Chappell became coach, there was only one boss where Indian cricket was concerned ... that was Ganguly .... even Wright was just a second in command with no right to demand anything the captain didn't want. Now, in my own mind, I am sure the equations have changed. The boss is not Ganguly but Chappell ... and that is good ... coz in the end, Ganguly becomes accountable after around 4 years of having no one to answer to. The other ten players were always accountable ... Ganguly as captain could just survive without performance ... no longer. No clearer evidence to this than his getting appointed for only the next series.

With Chappell in charge it is clear ... the results have to show him in a good light ... he has too much of a reputation to defend. Yes, SL has not given sparling results but then when one has a long term vision, these things happen. People curse the results of the day ... they don't realize the base which is being built ... something that will become evident only after some time. When the RP Singhs and the Venugopals and the Suresh Rainas have all be evaluated and the Yuverajs and Zaheers been sifted inside out.

Many people r despondent after the SL series ... me, I am looking forward to the next one just coz SL has let me know things will never be the same with Indian cricket. It is bound to be interesting.


The Chuckster

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Gangs the captain ... hmmm

The drama over the captaincy issue ends ... for now. The BCCI is bound to create controversy in whatever it does; seems a forgone conclusion.

Everyone talks of Ganguly losing the captaincy only coz of a ban on his playing. Hence by all rights, the captaincy should come back to him once the ban is over. I have heard the argument that keeping Dravid as captain would set a bad precedent as tomorrow if Dravid were indisposed and Sehwag made captain and he manages to win a couple, then the same case would apply for retaining Sehwag as captain even when Dravid is back. This is one argument I have heard on a cricket forum I visit regularly and really, that is what is wrong with the cricket analytics of India. They concentrate not on what is required but who is involved.

Firstly, Dravid became the captain only coz Ganguly was facing a ban. WRONG. Ganguly was facing a ban and hence the issue never came up whether Ganguly should continue captaining the side or not. The issue should have come up coz captaincy is not a short term affair but then this is the BCCI and they choose to cover their asses by ignoring the larger issue of whether Ganguly would have become captain even if there had been no ban. If indeed Ganguly was the undisputed captain, it could have been made clear in very simple terms at the time of choosing Dravid for the SL series. But the selectors and the BCCI r too smart for that. They made Dravid captain without mentioning anything about it being a temporary or permanent assignment. Then they just sat back and looked at the results of the tournament. Dravid didn't do his cause any good by losing three matches to SL. What would have been interesting is if India had won the tournament under Dravid. That would have put the selectors in a bind and I am sorry not to be able to see them squirm. This way Ganguly becomes captain without anything to support his cause except past results ... and by past I am talking two years back. Dravid loses captaincy without anything to support this cause either ... except defeat to SL three times in one tournament. Yep, a bad result but something on which the captaincy of a side is decided??? Wierd, man!!!

Anyway, the BCCI has appointed Ganguly only for the Zimbabwe tournament and that shows that all is not smooth sailing for the Bengal Tiger. Lucky for him the opponents would be Zimbabwe in tests and Zim and NZ in a ODI series. India shouls roll over Zimbabwe without any problems at all and while NZ would be tricky, I think India has the firepower to go past them. What will now take centerstage is Ganguly's own performance. He has held onto his captaincy by the skin of his teeth and he will know that he needs to produce results with the bat in order to hang onto it.

I was a bit surprised at the attitude of Greg Chappell towards the whole matter. The guy simply wasn't part of the process for selecting the captain ... I don't remember if John Wright was ever part of the process that selected / retained Ganguly as captain but his totally washing his hands off the affair was strange. In one way, it defuses controversy ... also since he has experienced Dravid as captain and NOT experienced Ganguly as captain, probably he might not be the best person to say which guy he prefers. On the other hand, Dravid might feel hard done by not having his coach back him ... left to Dravid alone, there might not have been so many experimentations in the SL tournament as there were ... it was coz Chappell wanted to take a look at a lot of people that so many players got a look in. Now that India has lost, the least the coach should be doing is back the captain ... even if Ganguly is given back the captaincy, it wouldn't hurt for Chappel to give an pat on the back for Dravid.

People talk about Sehwag being captaincy material but it doesn't always show when he opens his mouth. Some months back, he was on record talking about preferring Akash Chopra to open with him as against someone like Yuveraj ... simply put, it isn't his job to be talking about who should be in the team and who should not be in the team. Yesterday, he came up with the statement of "Ganguly is the better choice" or words to the effect. Whatever his personal sentiments on the matter, if every player in the team starts giving his opinion in public on who should be captain, it would create for a very dirty atmosphere. A couple saying "We think Dravid would have been a better choice" and another couple saying "Dada is the best" ... and when they all come together in the dressing room or the field to play together, it is too much to expect that people will not remember. Dravid will remember next time that the day after he got bounced from the captaincy job, Sehwag gave the decision his Thumbs up. That is the problem with these ignorant louts like Sehwag and others who have no idea of what to say and what not to say in public ... kaheen bhi mooh khol dete hain ... kuch bhi bol dete hain.

As for the SL tri-series, SL seems to have the wood on India pretty good. I doubt whether Ganguly being the captain or Dravid being the captain really is as important as is made out to be. If one team gets another to 95 for 6 while chasing more than 200 and then loses from there, it sucks. India has done things like this under Dravid's captaincy here and under Ganguly's captaincy earlier ... just goes to show the players r not tough enough to close out the match.

BTW, for those who didn't read it, one day before the captain was chosen, Telegraph's Lokendra Pratap sahi (who definitely is somehow related to Ganguly and Dalmiya coz his reports are usually dead on ... some very good sources or leaks whatever term u prefer) wrote an article stating that barring a midnight coup, Ganguly had been finalized as India's captain for Zimbabwe. Also, in another article that there was a big dispute between the East zone selector and the South zone selector on the captaincy issue and since 2 more selectors supported the east zone selector, Kiran More, the chief selector, decided not to put the issue to vote but gave his blessing to Ganguly as captain.

The teams for the ODI tri-series in Zimbabwe and the test series following it also were released. Will someone explain to me this thing about Zaheer Khan's attitude which keeps cropping up now and then? There was one S. Ramesh not so long back who reportedly lost his place in the team due to "attitude" ... of course, not being one of Ganguly's boys, he never really got as many chances to come back. Zaheer is lucky on that score.

Agarkar makes a comeback which really makes one feel that the more things change in Indian cricket, the more they remain the same. On the positive front, RP Singh from Uttar Pradesh gets a look in ... the more players we see, the more options we have for the world cup and it is good that RP has a look in. I would have liked to see Sreesanth of Kerala get a look in ... I saw him in a couple of matches an year or two back and he impressed me a lot. I don't know his current form but from what I read, he was part of the pace bowlers camp that was held before the SL tour.

As usual, VVS and Kumble get the boot ... VVS will go back to feeling aggrieved and I am sure Deccan Chronicle will pen an article or ten about the discrimination against its favorite son. He will never learn really ... all he can really do is moan and blame his luck. He had a couple of chances to make his bat do the talking and he let them go. As for Kumble, I guess getting dropped regularly will someday get to him. Maybe he will get the message and pull himself out of contention for ODIs ... or maybe he just wont' get it either.

Ok guys ... congrats to Sania Mirza for breaking into the top 50. If injury hadn't laid her low, she might have done better than a first round loss at the JP Morgan Chase tournament last week and not had to drop out of this week's tournament. Hopefully she will be ok by the time the US open starts and we can hope for a couple of good wins from her.

Neelam J Singh tested positive at the World Athletics championships at Helsinki ... well, at least she could have qualified for the finals of the competition ... then at least her taking drugs makes a bit of sense. Take drugs and not be good enough for even a qualifying spot ... that sucks. Anyway, this lady obviously has good contacts at the Athletics Federation in India coz at every leading event, they send a couple of athletes and she is always there ... she has never won anything of note ... and yes I am ignoring the Asian games. Probably, this is the first time she is being recognized at some big tournament, even if for wrong reasons.

Karthikeyan will be racing the new Jordan from the next race onwards ... lets see if that gives him better luck.

Cheers all

The Chuckster

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

SL series - 2 matches down

It is a fun world out there in Sri Lanka right now with Ganguly having joined the team. He isn't captain; he isn't sure of getting back the captaincy once this series is over; he isn't even sure of making the final eleven.

Many believe that Ganguly would be a relieved man now that his ban has been reduced and he is back in action. However, firstly the Sach judgement was nothing but a compromise and everyone knows that. Ganguly's stand that his ban was unjustified has been rejected and getting an unjust ban (according to him and the BCCI) reduced is no victory. Anyway what is done is done and he is back but the ban has really left him the leader of an army of one.

The media is always sensitive to headline stories whether they exist or not and the game has already started. Pass ur peepers over these two samples -

Lines quoted from the above article - "In the afternoon in the team hotel Dravid was with the coach Greg Chappell at one end of the table discussing team strategy, while Ganguly sat at the other alone with the Indian think tank refusing to get him into the discussion."

And one from the Indian Express -

And yet another from the Telegraph India -

I am sure much of this would be masala but one thing is certain; there would be tremendous confusion in the ranks right now as to how Ganguly should be treated. If the BCCI had made t clear (and they haven't irrespective of what u may read as quotes from realiable sources) that Ganguly would be captain once the series is over, then Gangs has to be part of the think tank here. Now that the BCCI has just left it open, it is an awkward situation for Dravid more than Ganguly. For Ganguly, it is a simple matter of nothing being in his hands and just to go out there and play the best he can. For Dravid, the situation is different. His treatment of Ganguly in this tournament would come back to haunt him if Ganguly becomes skipper in the next tournament.

I squarely blame the BCCI for this situation. Either the selectors (Read BCCI) should have made up their mind that Dravid was a stand in captain and made it clear to everyone. Or they should have made up their mind that Dravid was the permanent captain and made that clear too. They have sought to take the safe way out of a sticky situation by simply not saying anything. This gives them the advantage of acting with the knowledge of both Ganguly and Dravid's performance in this series. Good move by the selectors where their own advantage is concerned ... but a bad move where Ganguly and Dravid are concerned.

I look forward to many more stories of how Ganguly was snubbled by the team management or how he was treated deferentially by them. How the players break up into pro-Dravid and pro-Ganguly camps. Etc etc etc. Some people think the media is irresponsible in the way it covers these situations. For me, personally, forming an opinion has less about the headline and more about reading between the words of a hundred different articles. Usually that gives a pretty accurate picture, not to speak of the immense amusement at some of the articles based purely on the writer's imaginations than on anything remotely resembling facts.

If Ganguly plays (and I believe he will play), he should play as opener. Simply put, he was our best ODI bat before he gave up the slot for the Sehwag / Tendulkar combination. The idea there was to try out an idea - Greg Chappell seemingly has a radical approach in trying out ideas but the Gangs / Wright duo tried out a few of their own and due credit should be given irrespective of the result - and now we know that the idea doesn't work, it is time to go back to the old style which did work. Yes, Ganguly of today is two years older than when he gave up his slot and cricket changes a lot over two years but simply, you cannot go beyond without trying him out. I am not saying he will succeed coz over the two years the bowlers might have become better and he might have lost some of his skills BUT ... u cannot look beyond Ganguly without seeing what he can still do. It would be foolhardy to push a Raina or a Rao into a slot just for the heck sakes of trying ... if a 32 year old can do the job better than a 23 or 19 year old, then so be it. Everyone is talking of the world cup and if Ganguly was 35 now I would also call for fresh blood; he is 32 and not too old for the next world cup.

Frankly, the idea of Sehwag as an opener in ODI has never appealed to me. As a test opener, yes ... as a ODI opener, no. Simply put he hasn't yet mastered the art of the ODI game ... it is just slam bang cricket for him ... and that is not working. His batting average is pathetic for someone with his ability; someone who has proven himself in tests. Someday Sehwag might be a great opener in ODIs but that day is not today. If we have to get the maximum out of Sehwag today, we have to find a slot for him. And it is not opening.

My thoughts on the other opener slot is clear ... VVS Laxman. Otherwise if he has to play, it has to be at 3 and even there if the openers do a good job (and the objective, even if not achieved, has to be a great opening partnership) and Laxman comes in only after the 20th over or so, his usefulness is really curtailed.

Personally I want Sehwag and Dhoni down the order at 5, 6 or 7. India has never had an explosive lower middle order and these guys have the potential to absolutely demolish all opposition in the end overs. Even while chasing, a Sehwag / Dhoni blitzkreig for five overs might just make the difference between losing and winning. From some of Dravid's recent comments, the team management has already started thinking of Dhoni at number 6 or 7 but whether they transition Sehwag is another matter. Hope they do. Also interesting would be Ganguly's take on this if he does indeed take back the captaincy in the next series. Ganguly never has been a fan of Laxman in the ODI scene and he also sees Dhoni being more useful somewhere up top. Lets wait and watch.

From reports in the Telegraph (a site that more often than not turns out accurate), Yuveraj and Zaheer would sit out the match coz of fever and injury respectively and Kumble would make his return, with Bhajji retaining his spot. That leaves one of Raina and Rao to take up the final slot (from Telegraph reports, JP Yadav is not in the fray for the upcoming match) and Raina's bowling might just give him the edge.

Another item of interest was Ganguly not making the squad for the Asia vs Africa series where some of the selectors (Ravi Shastri, Majid Khan among others) reportedly threatened to walk out if pressure was brought upon them to include Ganguly's name in the list. Dravid and Sehwag make the list ... and really, Ganguly is not in the greatest of form but Sehwag ahead of him in an ODI team???? Wierd people, these selectors.

Anyway guys, Sania Mirza qualifies for the main round of yet another good tournament, the Acura Classic where she has the clearest path yet to get a good result. Uptil now her luck has been such that she has run into a Venus, Serena or a Kutzensova in the second round ... this time from what I can see of the draw, she doesn't run into a big name till at least quarter finals or so (didn't look so close ... even could be semi finals). Anyway she has moved to world no 59 and hopefully by the time the US Open gets over, she will be in the 40-50 ranking range. Good going, girl. BTW, just saw that she has cleared the first round at the Acura Classic. Three cheers!!!

Anyway if I think of something worth sharing, I will make a post. Really missing being at home with interesting cricket going on ... the internet can really satisfy one so much.

Chalo cheers

The Chuckster