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ICC Champions Trophy 2017

India vs Pakistan FINAL

Sunday 18 June 17 @ The Oval
Match scheduled to begin at 10:30 local time (09:30 GMT)


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The Race for Individual Glories in Ranji Trophy 2004/05

The Premier Domestic Tournament in India - the most prestigious Ranji Trophy for this season has been on for the last two months. It's now just three more games to decide the fate of the championship. Fifteen teams in all have figured in the Elite Group and four teams Mumbai, Railways, Punjab and Hyderabad have made it to the Semi Finals and it's now going to be some break before the knock out stage of the Ranji Trophy commences. As of now we have had 49 matches played in the Elite Group. There have been some great wins, there have been some upsets, and there have been cases of some players calling it quits. But we also had some players putting their heart and soul for their teams and bringing out some stunning performances, may be for a Test Cap or an opportunity to don the blue colours for India? And I am going to talk about those players who have topped the batting and the bowling charts so far in the Elite league games. Here we go. A big big surprise is up, we have Niraj Patel as the leading run getter with 735 runs @ 56.53 in his 14 innings. Niraj has scored two 100s and four 50s. Now the question would be asked who is Niraj Patel? Flash your memories back to the Under 19 World Cup in Sri Lanka, 2000. There was this tiny left-handed middle order batsman for India looking at the heavens and praying seriously to the Gods. Cuts and flicks and drives and sweeps all were coming out from this left hander's blade, but most important was the steel within shown by this youngster in that tournament which ultimately saw India as the champs. That young man was the same Niraj Patel who after four years has grown to the stature of being the leading run getter in the country's Premier First Class Tournament. Well it's unfortunate that Niraj's state Gujarat haven't made it to the semis, nevertheless Niraj Patel's efforts this season and his journey to this level of cricket has to be appreciated wholeheartedly. Niraj may be or may not end up as the highest run scorer this season as there is one Wasim Jaffer, who has notched up 590 runs in the 10 innings he has played @ an average of 59.00. Jaffer has already hit three 100s and a 50. One thing to be noted here is that Jaffer has a possibility of playing 4 more innings as Mumbai still have the Semi Finals to play and may be also the Finals. Jaffer could well be the topper in the batting charts this season as it seems likely for his caliber to score at least 135 more runs in a minimum of 2 innings and a maximum of 4 innings. Down South and we have a batsman who copies Rahul Dravid right from the stance to the backlift to the strokes. And that's Rowland Barrington. Barry as he's called has been the real backbone of Karnataka's batting for some time now with Rahul busy most of the time in rescuing India. I happened to talk with Barry in August and indirectly asked him a question - When we could see your name in the Indian team or the India A team? And here is what he had to say - "Ahhh (smiles) good question. Let's see how this season goes. I am working hard to make it into the national team. I'll work on my mistakes which I committed in the last season and make sure that I don't repeat them." He surely has worked hard on his batting as Barry notched up the highest individual score this season, by smashing 283 against Madhya Pradesh. This 24 year old right hand opening batsman could well end up playing for India A this season if not the Indian team. For the record, Barry has piled up 601 runs in the 13 innings he got to play @ 46.23 and with a 100 and two 50s. This season has seen some match winning spells from the bowlers, infact I did find that the bowlers dictated most of the matches and that is a rare phenomenon in the Ranji Trophy. There is no doubt in my mind as we have seen totals of 68 and a lot of totals under 200 and the full credit goes to the curators who have given supporting wickets to the bowlers as well. Top of the bowling chart is Rudra Pratap Singh (R.P), a left arm new bowler from Uttar Pradesh and the India U19. This lad did get a wonderful opportunity against the touring Kiwis in 2003; unfortunately R.P got an ankle injury and couldn't prove his mettle. But today with 34 wickets in 6 games with four 5-wicket hauls and a 10-wicket haul, he has definitely shown what he is capable of. He's not express but he does move the ball in both the directions off the wicket and in the air. Number 2 in the list with 34 scalps is Bengal's new ball bowler Ranadeb Ranjit Bose, who has scalped four 5-wicket hauls and a 10-wicket haul. Ranadeb has been in the domestic circuit for about 6 years and has taken 95 wickets with eight 5-wicket hauls and two 10-wickets hauls, clearly indicating that this medium pacer is a match winner on his day. Ramkumar, the left arm spinner from Tamil Nadu has worried the batsmen with the bounce he extracts thanks to his height and this young man has accounted for 32 wickets with three 5-wicket hauls and a 10-wicket haul. There have been couple of hattricks this season and interestingly both of them have been from Baroda. First it was the little left arm spinner, Rajesh Pawar who took 3 in 3 against Hyderabad at the Gymkhana Grounds, Hyderabad. Second it was Baroda's new ball bowler Rakesh Patel who did the same against Tamil Nadu, Rakesh has ended up with 30 wickets. He's an interesting prospect as well with a nippy pace, Patel did come close on making a Test Debut for India on the tour of Zimbabwe, but this unlucky chap missed out and has been out of reckoning since. Don't count the chickens before they hatch!!! Watch out for Punjab's Gagandeep Singh, Hyderabad's N.P. Singh, Mumbai's Ramesh Powar and Railways Kulamani Parida. All these four have the semi finals to play and possibly the finals also. So we could have any of these guys topping the bowling charts. Well Punjab's Gagandeep Singh with his strong wrists and forearms has troubled many batsmen with the movement he extracts off the wicket. He did get into the Indian squad on the tour of Bangladesh but missed out the boat in making the final XI. One of the most unsung heroes in Indian Domestic Cricket has been Narender Pal Singh. This 32 year old is a veteran of 92 1st class games as of date with 306 wickets. A bowler who could win matches all on his own, N.P. does it with his skill rather than pace. Give him the ball on a receptive pitch and this man can easily rip through batting orders. I have been fortunate to watch him take wickets in a heap at the lively Gymkhana. I for one would pick N.P.Singh instead of the much-hyped sprayer Zaheer Khan. For the people interested in stats, N.P.Singh has taken 33 wickets in 6 matches @ 17.06 with three 5-wicket hauls and a 10-wicket haul. It would be unfair on my part if I don't mention the names of two off spinners Ramesh Powar and Kulamani Parida of Railways. Powar did get opportunities in the Indian team and the India A team and this all rounder has made the Nation proud with his fighting abilities. Parida on the other hand did get noticed last year when Harbhajan Singh was ruled out against Pakistan, but the offie couldn't make it to the squad. Powar has taken 31 and Parida has taken 29, but Powar has taken those wickets in one match lesser than Parida. The race is still on with both the off spinners in action in the Knock Out stage of the Championship. There have been some names, which have made headlines in many newspapers and websites. One of them is Reetinder Singh Sodhi who came up with 251* opening the batting against Maharashtra. Another name is Maharashtra's new opener Kunal Marathe who scored a century on debut against Baroda. Dheeraj Jadhav who got to play only 5 matches has piled up 475 runs @ 59.37 with two 100s and a 50. Jadhav did get his due when he was selected for the Test Squad for the Mumbai test against the Aussies, although this man had to give way to Gautham Gambhir. Amol Muzumdar has been among the runs as he always is, this season he has scored 497 runs @ 55.22 with three 100s and a 50. Likewise Amit Pagnis of Railways has 538 runs and he does have a chance of scoring more and more runs. Among the youngsters, Venugopal Rao of Andhra, Vinit Indulkar from Mumbai and Suresh Raina from UP have done exceedingly well. Venugopal Rao looks in stupendous touch with 585 runs @ 58.5 with two 100s and two 50s. Last but not the least if Kuna Marathe was with the bat, we have Rajamani Jesuraj, a medium pacer from Tamil Nadu, who on Ranji Trophy Debut took 7 wickets against Baroda. All the names I have written have been lion hearted performers and a Ranji Trophy Match does mean a lot to them. But don't be surprised if Hyderabad's star V.V.S.Laxman ends up at the top of the batting charts, he has just played 3 innings and has scored 274 runs @ 91.33 with a 100 and two 50s. It's a known fact that Laxman is a man who is capable of piling up big scores like the 281 against Australia, so fingers crossed. Laxman at his real best may be the one at the top!

B.V.Swagath writes from Hyderabad, India. He contributes regularly for major online Cricket publications including Cricketfundas.com. eMail BVS.


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Reverse Swing, My Way!

It was a usual hot sultry day and I was trying my best to outsmart the batsmen, but with my limitations in skill and in pace I was getting hit almost every ball I bowled. I was trying my best , but my best was not sufficient enough to have any impact on the batsmen. Then suddenly, I just thought why not try to wet (put sweat and saliva) the ball as I have seen International players do on TV. I seemed to have got some extra and rather late movement in the air. This continued and I gained some new confidence and most importantly, batsmen were not taking my bowling lightly anymore !!! I was keenly observing Javagal Srinath's bowling in the tests at home , especially the Ahmedabad Test against South Africa where he had picked up 6 wickets in the 2nd innings . I kept on experimenting with the ball, changing the sides of the ball and observing the directions in which the ball was moving. The more I started to bowl like this, the more I understood what "reverse swing" is. I found immediate results by bowling many a batsmen with the reverse swinging yorkers, it was so fascinating to watch the ball swirl in the air .The basic idea about reverse swing that a bowler has to understand is that the ball moves in the direction of the shiny side or the heavier side (wet side), the other side of the ball being considerably rough. This is the only thing a bowler has to realize and not the ball mechanics involved in reverse swing.. So as stated above, the ball moves in the direction of the shine , irrespective of whether the bowler is gripping the ball for an outswinger or an inswinger .
Different variations that can be used with reverse swing (unless stated, the following is looked at a right arm bowler bowling to a right handed batsman.
(1) Holding the ball for an outswinger , with the shiny/wet side on the right side.
Result : Ball initially moves out in the air and comes back into the batsman sharply .
Usually, a batsman can be out leg before as he tends to play along the wrong line . Even a half volley with this kind of ball may not be as easy as it appears for the batsman , with a gate opening between bat and pad (the batsman attempting a cover drive) as he tends to play for the outswinger.
(2) Holding the ball for an inswinger, with the shiny/wet side on the left side.
Result : Ball initially moves towards the batsman and at the last moment darts away from the batsman.
A batsman can be caught behind the wickets and sometimes bowled . One best way to ball this type of delivery is to go wide off the crease and with this angle, a batsman is forced to play the ball . Outside offstump line may only result in the batsman being beaten, so the more effective line would be on offstump, the length should be around the good length - forcing the batsman to play a forward defensive shot .
(3) Holding the ball for an outswinger, with the shiny/wet side on the left side.
Result : It is very obvious that the ball moves more and more away from the batsman.
So the line of the delivery should be more on the middle stump . This kind of delivery results more in getting the batsman to nick the ball to the wicket keeper and the slips . It is important to know that by holding the ball in this fashion , a bowler cannot afford to pitch it outside off stump, atleast in limited overs matches as it would be called a 'wide' .
(4) Holding the ball for an inswinger, with the shiny/wet side on the right side.
Result : The ball moves in very sharply almost like a double inswinger/banana inswinger .
This kind of delivery must be pitched outside offstump so that the Umpire thinks it would hit the legstump atleast .Great delivery for the big inswinging yorkers or the 'toe crunchers' as they are called . Batsman can be out either by getting bowled or leg before . Left Handers , hmmmmmm I always liked bowling round the wicket to them . You can create more angles for a left hander than a right hander, thus making bowling to lefties a lot more fascinating .

There is a myth that reverse swing is only effective for the real quick bowlers , which isn't true at all. Best example that comes to my mind is that of Nathan Astle ,of New Zealand, in a Test Series in India . Nathan Astle bowled many overs in that series, the pitches were not quick but Astle was successful in keeping one end tight with his millitary medium pace. All he did was to just keep on persisting with an offstump line backed up with some good reverse swing . Of course, the faster you bowl, more are the chances of a batsman being bowled by those fast toe crunchers . Medium pacers have a great chance of getting leg before decisions and caught behinds if not the 'bowleds' .

B.V.Swagath writes from Hyderabad, India. He contributes regularly for major online Cricket publications including Cricketfundas.com. eMail BVS.


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Three Very Very Special Days at the Gymkhana

This was a match I was waiting for personally. Just the evening prior to the game, I got a mail from from Mr.Blessington Thomas, Scorer from the Hyderabad Cricket Association giving the line ups for the game. I was wondering who was named as the skipper of Hyderabad with Venkatapathy Raju just retiring from the game. And the mail loaded and surprise surprise, top of all the names in the Hyderabad line up was V.V.S. Laxman and he was also the captain. Isn't he amazing? The same Laxman was on the field at Chittagong for India on the 20th and on the 22nd he is on the field for Hyderabad. Does he have a point to prove to his critics, the selectors or is this just his commitment towards Hyderabad? We have no clues whatsoever! I was up and ready to go to the Gymkhana and was really surprised to see a big crowd who were just waiting and hoping outside the locked gates, just to have a glimpse of their hero V.V.S.Laxman. I just overheard the Hyderabad's coach Rajesh Yadav quoting in his usual style "Laxman aaya.bas hey (with his body language clearly suggesting that he was a very very relieved person). I was just speculating whether Intikhab Alam, Former Pakistani all rounder was thinking in lines of "Yuve aur Dinesh Mongia gaye". There was a typical Hyderabadi roar when V.V.S and Pankaj Dharmani walked upto the pitch for the toss. (Oh yeah he did play an ODI in the Titan Cup and did tour South Africa in 1997. I must say here is one really unlucky bloke who couldn't have a long career at the International level. For a wicket keeper to have a highest score of 305*, 19-100s and 32-50s and an impressive 18-50s in the List A matches is just an icing on the cake for any team. And I am pretty sure that the Indian selectors then did a lot bad to the Indian public by not giving a fair trial to this man!). Back to the toss, Dharmani won the toss and choose to bowl and had plans of his pace battery to rip through the hometeam's batting on a green top at the Gymkhana. And I forgot to talk about one Gagandeep Singh (who was part of the test squad) who came along with V.V.S all the way from Chittagong. Here is a strong lad with strong forearms; I hope he does bowl quick. But it wasn't the Sahara T-Shirt clad Gagandeep Singh who was making the Hyderabad batsmen jump, but it was the little known Vikram Singh (who was being referred by the Hyderabad team as "lambu"). Tell you what this guy is quick and was looking a hard customer to handle on this kind of wicket. Vikram Singh quickly sent the two openers Anirudh Singh and Daniel Manohar in quick time. And the contest was just about to begin, V.V.S.Laxman Vs the Punjab Pace Battery. I am sure the Punjab's pace attack on this wicket was far better than the bowling attack of Bangladesh. Skipper V.V.S.Laxman was upto the task as he should be with the amount of experience he has. Coming into bat with a stickerless bat, V.V.S hit most of the balls from the middle of the bat and one could see his "straight elbow" always coming into his drives. He was a perfect model to be watched for batting. Coming back to Gagandeep, he didn't look quick by any means, he was more of a bowler who uses his wrist to good effect to nip the ball off the wicket. With Laxman settling in, all the bowlers took a peppering from him, I do remember one pull shot he played off left arm medium pacer Amit Uniyal. That was just dismissed from his presence in a fraction of a second to the mid wicket boundary. Brett Lee at his pace couldn't bounce out V.V.S on the fast wickets in Australia, what was Amit Uniyal thinking?? Boundaries kept rolling and Hyderabad were back on the track with Vinay Kumar giving the ideal support to the Star in the middle. Vinay was though sent back by Vikram Singh and it was back to repair work for Hyderabad, this time it was Ambatti Rayudu with Laxman. The very 1st ball Rayudu faced was a quick bouncer from Vikram and Rayudu had no clue at all (Raayudu ko tare dikhe with that) as he fended it feebly and luckily the ball fell short of the wicket keeper. Had Navjot Singh Sidhu been here he would have simply told his NDTV friend Sonia Verma "it opened him up like a can of beans". There was a short lesson from V.V.S to Rayudu and things settled down. Rayudu was at his best whenever the ball was pitched up and he played a couple of majestic on drives. (Venkatapathy Raju, who was sitting next to me was all the time talking that Rayudu got to play freely and once he plays his ondrives, the bowling attack would be softened). Shot raa Rayudu shot. were the shouts from the "Muscles" man. If there was a Sachin and Azhar for India once, today was a pair of Rayudu and Laxman for Hyderabad. Ok time for me to take a break and I was going out of the ground when Reetinder Singh Sodhi (he's not wearing a Turban???) disturbed the furniture of Rayudu. There you go words from our expert, the watchman at the gate, Afzal was quick to add, "he should have played forward, this guy always does this." tell you what this was not told in the most polite manner. Next to go was V.V.S himself who was not upto the low bounce as Sodhi's ball shooted onto his stumps. Laxman gone for 79 and so were some of the crowd. Hyderabad made 233 (again an innings which didn't even last a full day's play) and the wrecker-in-chief was Vikram Singh with 7/75 in his 17 overs. Hyderabad then reduced the visitors at 25/3 and next morning, it was all over quickly as they got all out for just 105. The damage was done by the all pace attack of Hyderabad led by N.P.Singh, left armer Vishnuvardhan, debutant right armer Kaushik Reddy and medium pacer Daniel Manohar. Hyderabad found themselves in trouble by the end of the 2nd Day's play tottering at 147/6, but two factors were still in their advantage. One was that of the lead being 273 and two that of V.V.S.Laxman being not out on 59. The crowds gathered around the Hyderabad's dressing room, they were there for Laxman, but Laxman was somewhere behind. To the left was a part of the crowd content with the autograph of Reetinder Singh Sodhi. The crowd suddenly shouted "Rayudu Rayudu." as they had Rayudu infront of them talking with other players. Rayudu didn't respond in the beginning but suddenly there was a voice "aah vastuna." (yes.I am coming " and the crowd erupted in laughter). That was Rayudu showing his hand to the crowd and that was for sure the funniest moment of this game. Then came an official who suggested to Rayudu "Rayudu nuvu itla encourage cheyadu" (don't encourage the crowd, it's getting difficult to handle them). I thought for myself "it's all because of the fans, players are there". Most of the people in the ground knew that the match would get over on the 3rd day itself and why not! Most of them wanted to be off the field on a Christmas holiday. V.V.S warmed himself pretty decently as he had a knocking session in the nets. Play was about to begin but for a couple of minutes all the players gathered and mourned for the demise of P.V.Narasimha Rao. Laxman was on strike and it was Vikram Singh bowling to him. And.V.V.S.Laxman is bowled with just a run in addition to his overnight score of 59. Now it was only matter of few balls and few runs as the remaining Hyderabadi batsmen fell apart and finally it was Hyderabad all out for 149. Vikram Singh went onto pick another 6 wickets in this match. A target of 278, this match reminded me so much about the Hyderabad Vs Baroda game. That game was won by Baroda thanks to heroics from Rishikesh Parab and Rajesh Pawar. The Hyderabad medium pacers stuck to their task as Punjab was struggling to come in terms of the wicket. The scoreboard read 96 and half of the Punjab side was already back in the pavilion. A good partnership got going between Gaurav Gupta and Muneesh Sharma. Laxman brought back Hyderabad's best bowler N.P.Singh and he answered to his skipper's call by giving a nice send back to Muneesh who got plumb in front as N.P.'s inswinger kept low. Time for me to go out and eat Bhel Puri and when I was coming back to the ground, there was a Sumo coming. And guess who was in the Sumo? None other than the Punjab's coach Intikab Alam and his team. For once there was no smile on his chubby face. It was bye.bye.goodbye to the Punjab team who were the unlikely losers thanks to V.V.S.Laxman who stood tall for Hyderabad with his crucial knocks.

B.V.Swagath writes from Hyderabad, India. He contributes regularly for major online Cricket publications including Cricketfundas.com. eMail BVS.


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Venkatapathy Raju : Muscles of Might

It was a Wednesday afternoon and I cut some time off from my office and decided to catch up with some players at the Gymkhana. Hyderabad and Uttar Pradesh were battling in the heat, Hyderabad's skipper Venkatapathy Raju walked in to bat at No. 10 and there was a camera man taking a snap of his, I asked myself is today anything special with Raju? Few minutes later, No.11 N.P.Singh got bowled by young left armer Shalabh Srivastava and that marked the end of the day's play. All the Hyderabad players got down onto the ground immediately and were clapping their hands for their skipper Venkatapathy Raju. Finally, I got my answer and yes it was that of Venkatapathy Raju's retirement from First Class Cricket. A Hyderabad side without Raju? Hmmm.that's what we would be seeing from the next round when Hyderabad takes on Punjab at the Gymkhana. Let's go back to the start of Venkatapathy Raju's early days into Cricket and yes I am going back to 1985/86. A sixteen-year-old left arm spinner was making debut for Hyderabad against Andhra at Kagaznagar. From that season to this season, the name Venkatapathy Raju had been attached to the Hyderabad Ranji Trophy Team and it only speaks volumes about his consistent performances all these years. A well-deserved International break came to Raju in the India's tour of New Zealand in 1990. There was a big announcement in my school, All Saints High School that time and that was the news of our ex student Venkatapathy Raju getting selected for the Indian team. That was indeed overwhelming for all of us; five years back there was an announcement and a party as one of our ex students Md.Azharuddin made it into the Indian team (I knew this from the photographs only as I was a 4 yr old Kid when Azzu bhai got picked). I was and I am proud to have studied from the same school that had the names of Abid Ali, M.L.Jaisimha, Syed Kirmani, Md.Azharuddin and Venkatapathy Raju. Getting back to the Indian tour of New Zealand in 1990, Atul Wassan and Raju were the two debutants at Christchurch, which was the venue for the 1st test. The Kiwis posted 459 and the Indian bowlers were at the receiving end but one man was impressive to say the least and that was our very own Raju. Raju had figures to be proud of - 3/86 in 35 overs and that included wickets of Martin Crowe, John Wright and Ian Smith. Raju's Test Career got a move ahead when he bamboozled the Sri Lankans for a match winning 8 wicket haul. You would be shocked to know that Raju had these awesome figures of 17.5-13-12-6 and 36-25-25-2! For the record, this game at the Sector 16 Stadium in Chandigarh was the debut test for the present Sri Lankan Captain Marvan Atapattu. Venkatapathy Raju recalls the 3-0 whitewash given to the Graham Gooch's England in 1993 as his most memorable moment in Tests. He was also the part of the victorious Hyderabad team that won the coveted Ranji Trophy in 1986-87. Raju played all the games except the finals (interestingly this was only the 2nd time that Hyderabad had won the Ranji Trophy and the team was led by M.V.Narasimha Rao; the 1st time was in 1937-38 under the late Eddie Aibara). Anyway getting back to Raju's career, his records show that he had a tremendous liking to the Sri Lankan team. He has 26 wickets@an average of 14.84 in the 5 Tests he had played. And that includes 3 five wicket hauls and 1 ten-wicket haul. Along with wickets, this man also got a nickname "Muscles" presented by "Buckets" Brian McMillan. His ODI career has been decent enough with 63 victims at an economy of 4.36 and two 4-wicket hauls. Nineteen years he has been on the field and he has done his best for Hyderabad with over 100 appearances, Kanwaljit Singh was the only other Hyderabad player to play in 100+ Ranji Trophy games. All good things have to come to an end one day and so is the case with Sagi Venkatapathy Raju's career. On behalf of Cricketfundas.com I wish him all the best for his future endeavors and many thanks for all his memorable performances, which have helped Hyderabad and India.

B.V.Swagath writes from Hyderabad, India. He contributes regularly for major online Cricket publications including Cricketfundas.com. eMail BVS.


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An Interview with Tinu Yohannan

Tinu Yohannan is one of the rare natural athletes to play for India. With a solid training in MRF under the guidance of Pace Guru Dennis Lillee, Tinu has impressed everyone in whatever little opportunity he has had in playing for the country. He is tall, he is nippy and he gets the ball to move both sides. Tinu Yohanan is currently playing for Kerala in the Ranji Trophy.
Cricketfundas.com's B.V.Swagath caught up with Tinu Youhanan to bring out this interview : Q. Tinu Yohannan - the first player from Kerala to make it to the Indian Cricket Team. How does it feel and tell us about your success story.     Kerala, the name or the place doesn't make any difference. Because, if you have the talent in you and you have to make it to the team, then you can make it to the team from any where. With a lot of hard work any body can enter the Indian team. But yes, being the first person from Kerala is a privilege for me. I felt great playing for the country, then was dropped and I am waiting for another chance now. Q. Tinu, Your father has been a prolific long-jumper, You were a high jumper, but now you are into cricket. What are the reasons for that shift?     The basic reason was my love for this game. I used to play a lot of cricket in school. Once I came to Chennai, I started playing a lot of cricket. Q. Ok, talk us through your test match debut at Mohali. You were one of the 5 debutants on that day. ( Bangar, Siddiqui, Dawson and Foster were the other four )     My debut was a very memorable one for me. Getting a wicket of my very first over really boosted up my confidence. I was very anxious before the match, just like any other player on his debut. During the warm-up, practice sessions before the debut match, you tend to be very anxious and same was the case with me. Q. Any magic balls that you bowled in that test match and you still remember.     I don't remember any magic balls in that match (laughs). Obviously, I was giving my best in the 1st spell. It came out well as I got a wicket of the 1st over of the match. Q. What was your plan seeing the wicket? I mean what was your game plan after looking at the pitch?     Strategy mainly was to make the batsman play at every delivery as the wicket was helpful. Making the batsman play at every ball that too at a time when the pitch was assisting the bowlers, always created chances for a wicket to fall. Q. You were sharing the new ball with Iqbal Siddiqui and both of you were making debut. So was there any pressure on both of you as it was a big Test Match against England?     There was sought of an expectancy from us but within us we had no pressure at all. We had decided to give our 100%, and take whatever wickets we get. Before the match also, we thought about it and even during the team meeting they decided that both of us would open the bowling. We won the match in the end and I think that's what matters. Q. Who inspired you a lot and which fast bowlers fascinated you?     There wasn't any body as such who inspired me, but I should say that the fast bowling talent was already in me. So I picked up fast bowling, and once I came to Chennai, Dennis Lilee was coaching me. He trained me for around 3 years, and the time that I spent with him at the MRF pace foundation has been very crucial for me. Q. What did Dennis Lilee have to say when he saw your bowling for the first time?     He told me that I am pretty raw and I required to put in a lot of hard work in to my bowling. He told that with good practice, fast bowling would come naturally in a pretty good time. He asked me to work hard and have patience. Q. How hard do you work on your bowling action?     Bowling action.. I still work on my bowling action. My action is not an easy action to work on. I always try to keep improving my action. It has always given me dividends. I have been injury free and have been fit thanks to MRF pace foundation for that. Q. So does being a natural athlete, help you in Cricket?     Definitely, that helped a lot. I used to do a lot of training at school. So my muscles were used to that sought of conditions. Fast bowling as you know requires lot of fitness. So being an athlete added to my good fitness. Q. We have been talking about fast bowling till now, how seriously does Tinu Yohannan take up his batting?     At this stage I think that batting is important for any cricketer playing at the International level. Even if it's a bowler or a wicket-keeper, you need to take up your batting very seriously nowadays. The runs scored by the tail-ender in the last 2-3 overs can turn out to be so crucial. So, I have taken up batting very seriously now and I am working on it. Q. Tell us about your ODI career. You had a dream spell of 3/33 against West Indies at Barbados. Anything interesting you remember about that tour of West Indies regarding the crowd and the islands.     That was a really good start for me. I took 3 wickets against West Indies, but the next immediate game wasn't that good. It got washed out and got reduced to 25 overs per side. A 25-over game is anyone's game actually. You can just do the basic and that's what I was trying to do. Personally speaking, West Indies is a beautiful place. The people are really good and have great knowledge about the game. They are always behind you if you do well and always behind your back if you don't do well (laughs). I could learn a lot of things from the West Indian fast bowling greats like Michael Holding and Walsh. Q. What was the advice given to you by the West Indian greats?     The advice that I got was to stick to my natural line and length. They told me not to try anything extra. They asked me not to come under the influence of too many people saying "do this...do that". "You know what you are capable of and continue performing according to your capability. Q. You were also in the Indian Team during the confidence shattering tour of New Zealand. You played the Test Match at Hamilton. What was the mood in the camp during such a difficult period?     Actually, the mood in the camp was quite good. If you noticed, all the matches played in that series were low scoring games basically. Actually they were anyone's games to be frank. If we dismissed them for a low score, then they also could do the same. The conditions were as such. We always had the confidence that we could come back, but unfortunately the wickets were really damp. So you couldn't really blame the batsmen. So, I don't feel it was a confidence shattering tour. The morale of the team was still high. Q. You are just 24 years old, so do you think you have ample amount of time to get back into the Indian team?     Definitely, time is in my court. Its upto me how I make good use of that time. So I am trying to make a comeback soon into the Indian side. Q. Tinu, what is going to be your strategy 1. It's a seaming wicket and 2. if it's a flat track? There aren't any special strategies that I decide. The main thing that I make sure is make the batsman play at every single ball. So a seaming wicket or a flat wicket is the same for me. You just need to maintain a specific line and length. Q. What is your message to the budding fast bowlers or the club level fast bowlers?     I would say that fast bowling is not an easy job. It requires lot of hard work and persistence. I would just advise to keep practicing all the time. Improve your technique if you feel that something is wrong with your action or your line or length. Q. How to sustain one's fast bowling rhythm?     Its very important to keep on bowling, even in your off season. You need to keep the rhythm going. Keep working on your bowling all the time. Keep thinking on ways with which you can improve your bowling.

B.V.Swagath writes from Hyderabad, India. He contributes regularly for major online Cricket publications including Cricketfundas.com. eMail BVS.


Editor: Nishanth Gopinathan.