Upward and downward curves

Sir, — Sania Mirza's recent upward performance graph shows that her feet are well grounded, and that her recent spurt of glamour assignments has not hampered her game. She seems to be a thorough professional with her eyes fixed firmly on her goals. Her on-court exploits should inspire young Indians to take up tennis as a career.

The same cannot be said about our cricketers. India lost the IndianOil Cup primarily because of the lack of a properly balanced team. Suresh Raina, Yalaka Venugopal Rao and Jai Prakash Yadav were supposed to be all-rounders. While Yadav did not get to play a single match, Raina bowled a few overs without making any impact and Rao was not asked to bowl at all. If the team `think-tank' does not have any faith in them, then why pick them? As for the other all-rounders, Irfan Pathan is threatening to become a second Ajit Agarkar with the bat, failing to deliver when it matters the most. And Mahendra Singh Dhoni is far too inconsistent at the beginning of his career.

Arjun Chaudhuri, Kolkata Flintoff's Ashes

Sir, — It was a sensational victory for England against Australia in the second Ashes Test at Edgbaston. The victory was made possible by the bowling of all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who bowled accurate line and length and mixed his deliveries well causing plenty of problems to the experienced bunch of world-class cricketers. Flintoff's gusty second innings knock of 73 runs, which included many lofted hits, was a great delight for every spectator and television viewer. His stroke selection and phenomenal range of shots over the fence were breathtaking. And come to think of it, he had an injured shoulder when he was despatching Australian bowlers! Though it was a collective team performance that gave Michael Vaughan a historic victory, Flintoff's individual performances stood out. Going by Flintoff's form, more surprises are in store for the Aussies.

Meanwhile, in the IndianOil Cup in Sri Lanka, the batting of young West Indians Runako Morton and Denesh Ramdin in the nail-biting sixth one-dayer against India impressed one and all. Even though their team lost by seven runs, Morton and Ramdin displayed maturity in their shot selection and played sensibly picking ones and twos. They despatched the loose deliveries to the boundary and essayed some splendid cricket shots. Even though they lost, they fought till the end and have set an example for the emerging young lads in the Caribbean islands.

D. Giridhar, Chennai Send 'em to Kargil

Sir, — Being an Indian cricket lover these days is fraught with continued disappointments. A sporadic victory instils a spark of hope, which is dashed quickly by abysmal dives in subsequent matches. While in Test matches India still makes a fight of it, in one dayers it has sunk to the depths reached only by Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

One-day cricket is all about tight bowling, alert fielding, accurate throwing, intelligent batting rotating the strike and having situational awareness.

Indian bowlers have a generous millionaire's attitude — they give away runs through no balls, wides and `hit me' balls. Indian fielders (except for a few) wait for the balls to come to them and then lob them in a parabolic arc to the bowler or wicket keeper giving ample time for even the slowest moving batsmen to cross over. Even when they are chasing a ball, they seem to "escort it to the fence." Their laundry bill must be the lowest among international cricketers.

Indian batsmen (most of them) are loath to running and are determined to score through boundaries however risky these may be. Not for them is pushing into the gaps and running ones and twos! The limited energy they have must be preserved to spend after working hours.

On top of everything, they cave in when facing challenging situations. An express Brett Lee or Akhtar can easily soften up most of the Indian batsmen while a marauding Gilchrist or Jayasuriya or Afridi can instil fear in the bowlers!

I see no hope with the present lot. The overpaid side is unmotivated. Edward Bono is of no use to a bunch that cannot think straight, let alone out of the box. Greg, try something more rigorous such as training with Indian commandos for a month near Kargil. Perhaps, they will develop a spine after becoming aware of the supreme sacrifices made by the jawans for their country.

Dilip Mahanty, Sydney, Australia