Month: August 2011

Whitewash in England

India lost the Oval Test by an Innings and eight runs on 22/8/2011 and with that lost four Tests in succession after many years. It was in Oval in 1971 India had bundled out England for 101 in the second Innings and won a Test and series in England for the first time. Last time India lost all four Tests in a series was in 1967-68 in Australia. India, who were No. 1 in Tests before the series began, now rank No. 3 in Tests. How the mighty have fallen!

Rudra Pratap Singh who was not in the reserves and who had not played a Test for two years got a chance to play in the Test at the cost of Munaf Patel who was in the reserves and had played in West Indies. India’s poor bowling was made worse by poor fielding. Gautam Gambhir dropped a catch and got injured. Rahul Dravid carried the bat in the first Innings and in the process surpassed Sunil Gavaskar’s 34 centuries and became the third Indian to carry the bat after Sunil Gavaskar and Virender Sehwag. He was out to a dubious decision under UDRS in the second Innings. If Hot Spot cannot be conclusive the money spent on it is a waste.

For the first time in the series India scored 300 in the first Innings. Too bad they could not repeat it in the second Innings. England had 291 runs lead and enforced follow-on unlike India in 2007 who did not enforce follow-on in spite of having 312 runs lead.

English players were generous to Sachin Tendulkar and dropped catches so that he may score a century but he was LBW on 91. Suresh Raina scored a pair. Amit Misra scored 43 in the first Innings and 84 in the second Innings and compensated for his failure in bowling.

The series was plagued with injuries. Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Virender Sehwag and Ishant Sharma suffered.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni seems secure as captain because many players who could have replaced him are injured. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid are ex-captains. If V. V. S. Laxman had hit a century he could have been a contender.

The series began with euphoria and ended in despondency. There is ODI series ahead to be followed by a T20 match. Expectations are low and there will be no surprise if India lose all matches.

Loss at Edgbaston

India lost the Test, the series and No. 1 ranking at Edgbaston. England beat India by an Innings and 242 runs. India were 224 in the first Innings and 244 in the second Innings. This is the worst defeat since Lord’s 1974. England declared their Innings 710/7. India’s batting was average, bowling was not good enough and dropped catches made it worse. The Test was over within four days. Virender Sehwag returned to Tests to be out to first ball in both Innings, in first Innings after UDRS appeal. Hopes that he can turn things around were dashed. For India, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the top scorer in both Innings, 77 and 74 not out. India’s No. 1 ranking lasted 20 months.

After many years India lost three Tests in a row. With every Test the margin of defeat increased. India lost the first Test at Lord’s by 196 runs, the second at Trent Bridge by 319 runs and the third at Edgbaston by an Innings and 242 runs. However in the second Test bowlers took 20 wickets. The series that was dubbed as the champions versus the challengers proved one-sided.

What went wrong? England were a better side, a young side, they had home advantage, their bowlers were outstanding, but that does not explain the margins of defeat. Some blame IPL. Some blame Test players, especially bowlers, not playing first class matches in India. Some blame lack of preparation for the series. That is not the reason for the loss in third Test. Some say there is too much cricket and cricketers are tired. That is not the reason as cricketers who want rest are given rest. Injury to Zaheer Khan is mentioned as a reason but our bowling should not have been dependent on one bowler. There were other bowlers and sometimes they did well. Our fielding was bad and dropped catches cost matches. In the third Test India were a dejected and demoralised side as England piled up runs, there was no will to fight and players went through motions.

Some feel Gary Kirsten’s absence as coach has made the difference for India and Duncan Fletcher has failed. How much difference a coach makes is difficult to say. Under John Wright India were runners up in World Cup. Under Greg Chappell for sometime India were successful and then it was disaster. Under Gary Kirsten India achieved No. 1 ranking in Tests and won ODI World Cup. Duncan Fletcher was the coach for West Indies series and India won the ODIs 3-2 and Tests 1-0. Players who missed West Indies series did not do well in England.

BCCI is blamed for having its priorities wrong. BCCI is dominated by politicians and businessmen. Cricketers are unable to win elections. If defeats continue for India there will be no sponsors, Test, ODI and T20 matches will be less and Ranji Trophy matches will have importance.

Dethroned and disgraced, heroes to zeroes, were some of the expressions used to describe the loss. Some compared India’s bowling to county side. Some wondered how India became No. 1. India played well and that is why they became No. 1. They played bad and lost it.

There is one Test left. India can win that Test or draw it and avoid 0-4 defeat and salvage some pride.

Relevance of CBFC

The controversy about Aarakshan has raised the question of relevance of CBFC. Once CBFC certifies a film there should be no problem about its release anywhere in India. However many people without seeing the film want the film to be banned. Some want special screening for them. It is bad for anyone to do that but worse when people in power do that. It is unpardonable for the home minister of state to say that films should be shown to certain politicians. It is unpardonable for other ministers to demand special screening and they will decide what should be shown. States should have no power to ban a CBFC certified film and those who create law and order problem should be strictly dealt with.

Many years back Sunil Gavaskar had said “Hindi films are made by asses for masses.”  At that time most Hindi films followed a formula. There was one hero, one heroine, one villain and some supporting characters. Hero loved heroine, villain came in between them and finally hero won. There were half a dozen songs and fights. Such films did not face any controversy. TV was black and white, restricted to a few cities for a few hours during night.

TV turned colour and channels proliferated. People who watched TV came to know about films to be released and those who protested about any song or film got publicity. Many films got into trouble.

P. L. Punia, Chairperson of National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, summoned chairperson and CEO of CBFC and demanded the screening of the film. He asserted his authority under article 338 of the Constitution. The Commission originally did not have powers of a civil court and it got them after 65th amendment in 1990.

The release of Aarakshan was challenged in Bombay High Court which cleared the film. Leela Samson, chairperson of CBFC, said since the High Court has cleared the film she cannot make any changes.

Prakash Jha said Aarakshan is not about reservation, it is not pro-reservation or anti-reservation but about commercialization of education.  In that case he chose the wrong title and wrong promos. He succumbed to pressure and showed the film to some politicians and agreed to cuts. He said he had spent 60 crore rupees on film. Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh banned the film. In Punjab seven members of a committee selected to view the film took their family members and relatives with them.

Amitabh Bachchan questioned whether India is a democracy or a fascist state.  To call India a fascist state is an insult to fascist states. In fascist states people who oppose a film certified by a government body are put behind bars. India is a mobocracy.

The producer has to recover the money in the first week. After that pirated DVDs appear. People in states where the film is banned will be able to get them and watch the film. The ban will cause loss to the producer but people will watch the film anyway.