Sunday, November 29, 2009

TOP TEN : India's Best Test Victories

Indian team's comprehensive win over Sri Lanka at Green Park a couple of days ago was its 100th in Test Cricket. It took 20 years for India to register its first win. But in last 20 years, Indian team has been fairly consistent ( being ranked at top of ICC rankings is the testimony). Here is an attempt to enlist top ten victories registered by Indian team. Havin been an avid follower of Indian Cricket for over 35 years, most of these wins (barring first two) are itched in the memory. So, in a way, this is a trip down the memory lane. Readers can choose to differ with my selection. They are welcome to express their choice here. Here's my pick:

1. Vs England at Chepauk, Madras 6-11 Feb 1952
India’s first test victory. Spearheaded by vinoo Mankad’s 12 wickets in the match and centuries by Pankaj Roy and Polly Umrigar. Vijay Hazare was India’s first winning captain.
England 266 (Robertson 77, V.mankad 8/55) and 183 ( Robertson 56, V Mankad 4/53) lost to India 457 (P.Roy 111, P.Umrigar 130*) by Innings and 8 runs.

2. Vs new Zealand at Dunedin 15-21 Feb 1968
India’s first victory on foreign soil. Marked the beginning of era of spin quartet. Superb batting by Ajit Wadekar in both innings and Erapalli Prasanna’s 6/94 were the highlights of the match. Captain MAK Pataudi
NZ 350 ( Dowling 143, Abid ali 4/26) and 204 (Murray 54, Prasanna 6/94) lost to India 359 (Wadekar 80, Motz 5/80) and 5/200 (Wadekar 71, alabaster 6/48) by 5 wickets.

3. Vs West Indies at Port Of Spain Trinidad March 1971
An upset victory by underdogs India over mighty West Indian team led by Gary Sobers. India’s emerging hero Sunil Gavaskar guided the team to emphatic 7 wicket victory aided by veteran Dilip Sardesai’s century in first innings and Off Spin duo of Prasanna and Venkatraghavan. Captain Ajit Wadekar
WI 214 ( David 71, Prasanna 4/54) and 261 (R.Fredrics 80, S.Venkat 5/95) lost to India 352 (D.Sardesai 112, s.Gavaskar 65, J Noreiga 9/95) and 125/3 (S.Gavaskar 67*) by 7 wickets

4. Vs West Indies at Eden Gardens Calcutta 27-31 Jan 1975
India, down 0-2 in the series staged a dramatic comeback with the help of heroics by G.R.Vishvanath who scored a match winning hundred in the second Inninings. S.Madan Lal made an impressive debut as all rounder. Bedi and Chandra were stars with the ball in demolition of WI. Captain MAK PAtaudi
India 233 (G Vishvanath 52, Andy Roberts 5/50) and 316 (G.Vishvanath 139, Roberts 3/88) beat WI 240 (r.Fredricks 100, Madanlal 4/22) and 224 (Kalicharan 57,B.S.Bedi 4/52) by 85 runs.

5 Vs West Indies at Port of Spain 7-12 Apr 1975
This is one of the golden moments in the history of Indian test cricket. Chasing a mammoth total of 404 in the fourth innings, was achieved only once before. But a soild beginning by Sunil Gavaskar followed by scintillating century by another little master Vishvanath helped India achieve the world record. Captain BS Bedi
WI 359 (Richards 177, Chandra 6/120) and 271/6 (Kallicharan 103*, Venkat 3/65) lost to India 228 (Vishvanath 41, M.Holding 6/65) and 406/4 (S.Gavaskar 102, G.Vishvanath 112) by 6 wickets.

6. Vs Pakistan at Chennai 16-20 Jan 1980
Captain Sunil Gavaskar’s masterly century and Kapil Dev’s superb all round show helped India register a decisive win over the arch rivals Pakistan which was a strong side under Asif Iqbal. Kapil Dev’s incisive bowling (4/90 and7/56) and boisterous 84 in the first innings was the highlight of this match.
Pakistan 272 (Majid Khan 56, Kapil Dev 4/90) and 233 (Wasim Raja 57, Kapil Dev 7/56) lost to India 430 (S.Gavaskar 166, Imran khan 5/114) and 78/0 (C.chauhan 46*) by 10 wickets.

7. Vs Aus at Eden Gardens Calcutta 11-15 Jan 2001
In one of the most extraordinary turnarounds in the history of test Cricket, India, following on after a first inning deficit of 274 runs, staged a remarkable recovery through VVS Laxman (281) and Rahul Dravid (180). Off spinner Harbhajan Singh’s performance of 13 wickets in the match (including first ever hat-trick by an Indian) was instrumental in breaking Australia’s world record winning streak. Captain S.Ganguly
Australia 445 (s.Waugh 110, Harbhajan singh 7/123) and 212 (M.Hayden 67, Harbhajan singh 6/73) lost to India 171 (VVS Laxman 59, g.McGrath 4/18) and 657/7 (VVS Laxman 281, R.Dravid 180) by 171 runs.

8. Vs Pakistan at Multan 28-31 March 2004
This win has a special place in every Indian’s heart. It was India’s first win in Pakistan. Virender Sehwag scored first triple hundred for India. A minor controversy following acting captain Dravid’s declaration in spite of Tendulkar batting at 194 was quickly forgotten as Anil Kumble wrapped Pakistan’s second innings well short of Innigs defeat. Captain R.Dravid
India 675/6 (v.Sehwag, S.Tendulkar 194*) beat Pakistan 407 (Y.Hameed 91, I.Pathan 4/100) and 216 ( Y.Youhana 112, a.Kumble 6/72)

9. Vs. South Africa at Johannesburg 15-18 Dec 2006
One of the best away victories of Indian team. On a seamer friendly pitch, India beat the South Africans at their own game. S.Shreesanth, the eccentric medium pacer from Kerala took 8 wickets in the low scoring match in which the hosts were bundled out on a platry 84. Captain R.Dravid
India 249 (VVS Laxman 51, SM Pollock 4/39) and 236 (VVS Laxman 73, SM Pollock 3/33) beat South Africa 84 ( A.Prince 24, S.ShreeSanth 5/40) and 278 (A.Prince 97, A. Kumble 3/54) by 123 runs.

10. Vs. Australia at Perth 16-19 Jan 2008
This victory was remarkable for more than one reasons. Firstly, an unprecedented controversy that erupted during the previous match at Sydney where Harbhajan was accused of racial abuse and un-sportsmanlike behaviour by Ponting’s men. Secondly, Australia had never lost at Perth since 1996.And India once again broke Aussie winning streak. Captain Anil Kumble.
India 330 (R.Dravid 93, M.Johnson 4/86) and 294 (VVS Laxman 79, S.Clark 4/61) beat Australia 212 (A.Symonds 66, RP Singh 4/68) and 340 (M.Clarke 81, I.Pathan 3/54)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cricket and Congress!

Cricket in India enjoys tremendous popularity. Cricket and Cricket administrators are often accused of thwarting the growth of other sports in India. While this is far from the truth, I find popularity of Cricket in India is strikingly similar to support Congress party gets in India. Both are thriving in this country primarily because there competitors aren’t faring any better. Let us analyse the situation in little more depth.

Congress of course is the first political party formed in India. With the stalwarts like Tilak, Gandhi and Nehru as its leaders, it naturally enjoyed huge support from the citizen which led to independence. After independence though, many national and regional parties came into existence. But, barring few years, Congress has been the party which has been in power for most of the period. So, even after nearly 60 years, Congress has a nation wide appeal.

Cricket too, has been immensely popular right from the days of Pentangular tournaments. Other sports did have patches have dominance. Like Hockey enjoyed its golden age in Fifties and Sixties. Tennis too had reached its peak in late Sixties when India reached Davis Cup final twice. Indian football was in its prime in 1962 Asiad and 1960 Olympics. But leave apart these aberrations and you find Cricket ruling the hearts of Indian fans continuously.

So what is it in Cricket as also Congress that keeps people interested? Does the Congress have better leaders than opposition? Are the policies of Congress more pro-people than the opposition? Are Cricketers more talented than other sportspersons? Is BCCI more transparent than other sporting bodies?

The fact is that both are thriving by default. The people of India every now and then throw the mandate towards Congress more out of disgust towards opposition than as an endorsement of policies and programs of Congress. Similarly, Cricket catches people’s imagination primarily because of anarchy that prevails in conduct of other sports.

Congress too is a divided house like the opposition. Similarly BCCI also has a long history of bitter power struggle. But it all boils down to choosing a lesser evil. It is not that the chances didn’t come to the counterpart. In politics, people of India gave chance to non-congress formations for at least three times only to be disillusioned. Similarly, in sports too, glory in non-cricketing sports did come a couple of times. India won Hockey World Cup in 1975. But rather than captalising on it the Indian Hockey Federation killed itself by the infighting. Indian football team reached semi finals of Olympics in 1956, but then the interests of club owners overpowered the national interests. So the people of India had to put their faith and backing to Indian Cricketers who won the world cup in 1983. The shrewd marketers like Dalmiya and now Lalit Modi have since seen to it that Cricket become an enterprise and the global nerve centre of Cricket.

In politics, they say that there are no permanent enemies. Politicians are known to protect mutual interests of friends even in opposition. Same here in BCCI where we find an Arun Jaitley of BJP siding with NCP supreme Sharad Pawar and Congress spokesman Rajeev Shukla and National Conference leader Farooq Abdulla all belonging to different parties. So what is the real truth? Is the politics like a game of Cricket OR Is Cricket is the political Akhada?

This article also appeared on

Monday, November 9, 2009

Are Medals More Important Than Morals?

The demon of doping is omnipresent all over the sporting world. Cheating the competitors and spectators is so prevalent, even today, WADA monitoring notwithstanding. But the revelation of the large scale 'state administered doping' by the former East Germany (GDR) and the sordid tale of Heidi Kreiger is shocking to say the least.

Heidi was one of the superstar athletes from former GDR. She was crowned European Shot Put champion in 1986. But soon she started feeling the after effects of testosterone hormone abuse, which had left all the traits of a man. She started feeling 'increasingly foreign' within her on body and ultimately had to go for sex change operation. Heidi died and Andreas was born in 1997.

From 1968 to 1988, East Germany , a tiny communist country, participated in 11 Olympics, Summer and Winter, and won a whopping 519 medals including 192 Gold medals. All these years, the athletes were subjected to state organized doping program - known as State Plan 14.25 - that made GDR to second spot in medals tally of Olympics (Seoul 1988). But the glory that nation achieved was on the unethical and inhuman torture of citizens of own country.

The chilling after effects of the drug abuse are now increasingly coming to the fore in athletes of that time as they are now nearing age of 50 and can no more withstand the drug induced anomalies in their bodies. It is estimated that nearly 10,000 athletes were the part of the 'state plan' and stories of sufferings will come up more and more. Andreas, who now runs a clothes shop, alleges that the unified Germany is still using the knowledge of former GDR coaches to manufacture champions although the practice can not be as blatant with stricter anti-doping policies now in place.

The virus of doping has penetrated Indian sports too. Indian weightlifters, especially women have been notorious in this regard and recently served out ban for Indian women weightlifters being found guilty at Athens Olympics, Indians obviously fare poorly in sports at international level. But to use such unethical means for fame is not acceptable by people with clear conscience. Obviously morals are more important than medals.

This article first appeared on