Friday, February 27, 2015

World Cup 2015: Short Notes - 27th Feb

Its the World Cup. And there ought to be some madness. But even the madness has its own patterns.
  • There seems to be a grand conspiracy by all parties to put egg on the ICC's face. The Associates are putting on a tough fight on the field. The Full time nations are hammering each other in one one-sided game after the other. Meanwhile ICC is still looking at taking the World out of the World Cup by restricting the entries to ten.
  • Ireland nearly choked and then managed to sneak through against UAE in a close encounter. Afghanistan were down for the count but showed some amazing resilience to win an even closer encounter.
  • After the India defeat, AB de Villiers wanted to go to his room and feel sad. Then he decided to take out his sadness on the West Indies. And what followed was countless records getting broken one after the other.
  • Jason Holder - 1st 5 overs - 9 runs, next 5 overs - 95 runs. So he comes back and scores a 50 in a losing affair.
  • The luck of the Irish - Ed Joyce and the dancing bail. (Video)
  • In other news - Pakistan are behaving exactly like Pakistan - losing heavily, rumours of rift against the fielding coach and the chief selector has been sent back for being found in a casino.
  • Australia haven't had a game in two weeks now. Almost forgotten that they are still playing.
  • The Indian fans are already walking about like World Champions. Well the real World Cup begins only after the group stages.
  • Prediction time - Pakistan-Ireland and England-Bangladesh to be the deciding games for this World Cup.
  • Side Note - As if a World Cup game is not enough incentive, Australia and New Zealand will also be playing for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.
P.S. In case you want to feel like doing something about the World Cup size for the next tournament and haven't done it yet, feel free to sign this petition here. [Current Count - 13960]

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

World Cup 2015: Short Notes - 24th Feb

In today's episode, Chris Gayle, Chris Gayle's stat attack, and more Chris Gayle.
  • But first things first, England duly won the Battle of Britain or the Cricketing equivalent of the Calcutta Cup in a pretty un-English manner. Batted first, put on a big opening stand, failed to capitalize on it, yet reached a big score, then easily chipped away at the Scottish batting and won handsomely. Should have a calming effect on the jitters going on in the English camp. Bangladesh-England is going to be the game to watch out for.
  • India have created a template for winning matches - bat first, preserve wickets, create a big platform and then launch/implode at death ending in a score of 300 odd. Then keep chipping away, the rising required run rate creating its own pressures and you have registered a huge win in the process.
  • Now to the Chris Gayle show. He could have been given out first ball and even a review won't have saved him. But he wasn't and even the review couldn't get him out. One of the key issues with DRS - this umpire's call business.
  • And then Chris Gayle consolidated to reach his fifty, then consolidated some more to reach his hundred, then went berserk to reach 150 and finally exploded to his double century.
  • Stat Attack - 
    • Highest individual score in World Cups
    • Highest individual by a non-Indian batsman in ODIs
    • Biggest ODI partnership going past Dravid's two second wicket efforts with Ganguly & Sachin in the year 1999.
    • Samuels & Gayle partnership was worth 100% of the West Indies runs
    • Equal most sixes in an innings record
  • February 24 - a day for ODI double centuries. Off the 5 till date, 2 have been scored on this very day of the year.
  • Zimbabwe showed heart in their chase but it was way beyond them. Quite similar to the happenings against South Africa.
  • West Indies lost to Kenya in 1996 and then went on to beat Australia and South Africa. This time around the loss against Ireland seems to have spurred them on.
  • Shocking Stat - Devon Smith has played 100+ games as a batsman with an average of 18+. 
  • The DRS issues again jumped into the limelight. Did not really affect today's outcome but might become critical in the end.
  • We also had our first appearance of Duckworth-Lewis. An algorithm which absolutely no one understands but still used.
  • Prediction Time - Ireland to beat UAE.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

World Cup 2015: Short Notes - 22nd Feb

The second mauka. have to say its been a pretty good promotional campaign by Star Sports.
  • After today's performance one wonders, is this the same Indian team which had gone winless for nearly three months in Australia?
  • South Africa have been handed their biggest ever thrashing in World Cup games and suddenly not looking so invincible after all.
  • India out-batted, out-bowled and even out-fielded South Africa. Something has suddenly changed and for the good.
  • There was a deja vu feeling about today's game. Like last Sunday, India played a team in green, won the toss, batted first, lost Rohit Sharma early, Dhawan-Kohli got a big partnership, the No. 4 batsman scored a faster than run a ball 70 odd, India failed to capitalize at death and crawled to a 300 odd total and then eased on to a big victory. Only today's victory margin was mch bigger than last Sunday's.
  • India's area of concern - the collapse at death and failure to caitalize on the first 40 overs.
  • India's population has its benefits. We manage to reach out to every corner of the world and fill their stadiums.
  • Afghanistan and Sri Lanka played the first really close game of the tournament. Sri Lanka did get a mighty scare while Afghanistan just ran out of steam in the end with both bat and ball. 
  • Play of the day - Jayawardene's bat breaking in two.
  • Tomorrow - The battle of Britain. England should win but...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

World Cup 2015: Short Notes - Feb 21st

Another round of one-sided hammerings. These matches are still watchable for their sheer sadistic quality.
  • Today's notes begin with an after-thought from yesterday's Kiwi-English game. The shambolic English performance could be summed up by New Zealan'd winning "shot" - an over the head wide running down to the boundary.
  • And now for today's game of the upredictables. I had predicted a Pakistani win but given that these are the two most unpredictable teams around the result couldn't have been any more opposite. West Indies recorded their biggest ever victory against Pakistan.
  • 1 for 4. Thats the score most of India woke up to. And we were celebrating out big victory against this team.
  • Arbit Stat#41: 1 run - the lowest combined score made by the top four batsmen in an ODI innings
  • West Indies have come back from losing against Ireland to hammering Pakistan throwing Group B wide open. The inconsistency of the teams in the mix just adds to the unpredictability although the long drawn format was designed to maintain status quo.
  • Bangladesh must be really happy to get away with a point from a washed out game against the Aussies. This one point might well crucial in the end.
  • Its still early days but funny to see England and Pakistan bang at the bottom of their respective groups after 2 games each.
  • Tomorrow the big boys come to play. Will India finally manage to open their account against South Africa in the World Cups. Or will this mauka mauka game continue.

Friday, February 20, 2015

World Cup 2015: Short Notes - 20th Feb

The World Cup is rolling along at its own slow pace. Two games have happened since the last shorties were posted.
  • Is the entire country of New Zealand one gigantic Lord of the Rings set? Certainly that is the impression one gets from watching the cricket.
  • Zimbabwe and UAE produced the first competitive game of the tournament with Zimbabwe winning with 2 overs to spare. The chase was tighter than expected but UAE basically ran out of steam.
  • Meanwhile the Kiwis have taken full flight (cliche). 3 wins in 3 games including Sri Lanka and England. The Kiwis have bowled well and batted with the sole aim of improving their net run rate as much as possible which may come into picture for deciding the group placings.
  • Also a time to compare the relative performances of Scotland and England against New Zealand. Who are the minnows now?

  • Breaking off for lunch with 12 runs required, ICC where is your common sense. Obviously commercial interests (increasing TV time as much as possible) have taken over practical action. What if it had rained during and after the break. New Zealand would have been robbed given that 20 overs had not been completed?
  • England have lost 2 out of 2. They still should qualify but the game against Bangladesh assumes crucial status. If the weather forecast stays true, Bangladesh may get away with a point against Australia which will be more trouble for the English.
  • Stats - UAE get their highest ODI Total, Tim Southee - best ever ODI bowling figures for New Zealand, Brendon McCullum scores the fastest World Cup 50.
  • Prediction Time - Pakistan to prevail in the game of unpredictables against the West Indies, while Australia should win weather permitting.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

World Cup 2015: Short Notes - 18th Feb

7 Down, 42 to Go.
One game a day, that too involving an Associate country. The World Cup seems to have been scheduled along the lines of television - daily soaps for the weekdays and blockbusters for the prime time weekends (which must have been the intent all along).

  • Afghanistan made their World Cup debut. Lots have been said about their fairy-tale journey over the last couple of years. Yet, Afghanistan competing in the top level of any sport still seems straight out of a Disney movie.
  • The only bit of the game I actually saw was the national anthems. And it was a fairly remarkable sight. Also probably the first time ever that I have heard the Afghan national anthem.
  • This was a big banana skin of a match for Bangladesh who had everything to lose. Yet they managed to avoid it with a few hiccups.
  • Shakib-al-Hassan and Mushfiqur Rahim bailed Bangladesh out of a potentially tricky situation. Although it was a welcome relief from the string of 300+ scores being recorded.
  • Afghanistan lost the plot at the start of the chase and were never in contention then.
  • Arbit Stat - Shakib is now the first Bangldeshi batsman to score 4000 runs in ODI cricket.
  • Still awaiting the first close game of the tournament.
  • Prediction Time - Zimbabwe to comfortably beat UAE tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

World Cup 2015: Short Notes - 17th Feb

6 down.43 to go. This World Cup is going on its own leisurely pace, which gives the followers time to (a) over-analyse the events, (b) get on with their lives or (c) simply forget that the tournament is still going on. So before I forget, here is me recording my thoughts.
  • The scheduling is weird. 1 day game each day, that too held in New Zealand. So most likely by the time you get up the games are already over. Why couldn't we have had two games each day. Would have easily dropped one week off the schedule. Also the Kiwis have played their second game while most others are yet to play their first.
  • In cricketing news, Ireland beat West Indies. Ireland have been focused on breaking into the big league and want to play Test Cricket. Also they have been beaten 3 Test nations in the last two World Cups. While West Indies is focused on infighting between the players and the Board. So given the context, Ireland's win was certainly no upset.
  • Mixed emotions for Simmons family. Lendl scored a heroic back to the wall century, but Uncle Phil who is coaching the Irish had the last laugh.
  • There was a certain calmness about the Irish chase which was in total contrast to the Kiwi's chase against the Scots. It was an odd sort of game. New Zealand chased down the small Scottish total with 25 overs to spare, yet somehow losing 7 wickets also and giving their net run rate a healthy boost. They never looked in any danger of losing, though the final victory margin may suggest otherwise.
  • Early thoughts on the World Cup so far. 300+ scores are becoming monotonous. And the bowlers are being slaughtered. This 4-fielder rule is killing the bowling sides, specially with boundaries pushed back.
  • 6 games gone and not a single real close one so far. There have been intriguing ones and some nervous moments here and there, but no down-to-the-wire, all-three-results-are-possible kind of finish.
  • Prediction Time - Afghanistan to upset Bangladesh with the help of their pace attack, while Zimbabwe to easily beat UAE.
And closing today's episode with this video featuring Sri Lanka and The Lion King :)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

World Cup 2015: Short Notes - 15th Feb

Today was the big one. The clash of the neighboring continental giants and fierce rivals. After a spirited show, Zimbabwe came up short against their more fancied rivals. 
  • Zimbabwe have already surpassed expectations. And are now looking a strong contender for a knock-out berth.
  • South Africa stuttered initially but their depth in batting rescued them from a precarious situation into an unbeatable one.
  • David Miller & Jean Paul Duminy are now the proud owners of the record for the highest 5th wicket partnership in ODI history. A record which went by almost unnoticed because all eyes were on the other game going on in Adelaide.
Which brings me to the real game of the day.
  • It was supposed to be the biggest game of the World Cup, yet inspite of the few nervous moments, India walked away with their biggest ever World Cup victory against Pakistan. 
  • 6-Nil. इस बार भी नहीं आया मौका।
  • India still not managing to make full utilization of the end overs. This was something of a bugbear for India last time around as well.
  • DRS controversy made another appearance. Again its not the system, its the people handling it and their awareness/ignorance of the rules regarding its usage which is creating all the trouble.
  • Sohail Khan appealed for LBW on his very first delivery to Shikhar Dhawan. The umpire signalled not out and Sohail immediately called for DRS while Misbah rushed to recall the DRS review. Fortunately the umpire listened to Misbah as the replay showed the ball hitting Dhawan bang in the middle of his bat. 
  • Yasir Shah can easily pass off as Lionel Messi.
  • This Indian habit off slowing down when approaching a century (e.g. Kohli today) could land us in major trouble in the future. 
  • Sir Jadeja's legend got enhanced further when he strolled for run and Pakistan had ample time to run him out, not once but twice and both times they missed.
  • Misbah left last man standing. A scene oft-repeated in the past few years, specially against India.
  • A for Akmal, B for Ball, C for Catch, D for Drop, An Akmal putting down a catch, another recurring theme for Pakistan
  • And finally a joke to sum up Pakistan's misery

What does Feb 16 have in store for us?
  • The crucial West Indies - Ireland encounter
  • IPL Player Auctions

Saturday, February 14, 2015

World Cup 2015: Short Notes - 14th Feb

After seemingly endless rounds of warm-up games (results of which were taken seriously by everyone except the teams concerned), during the course of which they even held the Opening Ceremony, the actual World Cup tournament has finally begun. And like the previous edition Slispstream Cricket is going to present the "Short Notes" featuring random notes on the games gone by and the occasional prediction. 
  • The hosts have started their respective campaigns on similar emphatic notes. Bat first, score big and then knock-out the opponent.
  • If England-Australia and Sri Lanka-New Zealand games are this one-sided, wonder what kind of massacre the games involving the minnows Associates will be.
  • New Zealand have emphatically shown why they should be considered the tournament favourites - a solid top order combined with an explosive middle, and a made for conditions pace bowling attack with Vettori providing the spin variety. They are looking good to go all the way.
  • Australia had small scares but their win was as emphatic as could be in an opener. Now only question remaining is how do they fit in Michael Clarke into the line-up? The potential names for the chop - Finch, Bailey & March all came in good, making them pretty much undroppable for the next game.
  • Its a good idea to play the national anthems before the game, But it might not be such a good idea for the camera to pan in on the England's Irish captain Eoin Morgan during the rendition of "God Save the Queen".
  • DRS issues came into the play sooner than expected. James Anderson being given run-out after referral on an LBW during which the ball had technically been dead. Again issue here was not DRS per se but the men using it. Cricket always teaches you new things. 
  • Steve Finn gets tournament's first hat-trick and the first Michelle while Aaron Finch is the first centurion.
And now for tomorrow's games. Two sets of neighboring countries taking on each other. South Africa to win against Zimbabwe while as for the other one, watch this pre-game and lets say no more

Thursday, February 12, 2015

World Cup Preview - Group B

Today's post presents short preview of the Group B Teams. A group with the more likelihood of upsets and 6 teams in contention for the 4 knock-out berths.

India are the defending champions and have a marketing campaign running on the line "Won't Give It Back". They have also been in Australia for nearly 3 months now in the course of which they have won a grand total of 1 game, a warm-up against Afghanistan. Recent form shows an explosive but misfiring batting lineup combined with a pop-gun bowling attack and some not so good fielding. The schedule has the tougher games first and the easier (on paper) games later. Difficult to see them go far in the tournament.
World Cup Aim - Wont Give It Back. 

South Africa
A fantastic batting lineup backed up a deadly bowling attack. On paper and form, they should be the favorites to win the World Cup. But then this is South Africa we are talking about. They should have won the World Cup at least twice and made it to the finals at least 4 times. But in reality they have been finding new ways of losing out in the first opportunity. Form suggests a first World Cup victory. History suggests they will be knocked out in the quarters. 
World Cup Aim - Get rid off the Chokers tag

They are the very definition of unpredictability. Also they have been hit hard by the recent ICC crackdown on chucking. Yet they have managed to unearth replacements in no time. One thing which can be predicted about Pakistan with certainty is that the bowling talent pipeline never dries. How much they progress will depend more on which Pakistan turns up to play.
World Cup Aim - Beat India for once and get that monkey off the back.

West Indies
Just a shadow of the once great team. Also riddled by too many player-board disputes and team selection issues. Yet they can still pack a punch on their day. But they cannot take the quarter-final spot for granted. Both Ireland & Zimbabwe will be gunning for their head in the race to the knock-outs.
World Cup Aim - Don't abandon the campaign midway like that India tour.

Zimbabwe would have been a good cricketing nation if not for all the political troubles over the last decade and a half. They have been slowly rebuilding but are lacking the necessary resources. The warm-up performances have been heartening and given the West Indies's troubles they would certainly be in the running for a knock-out spot.
World Cup Target - Carry on rebuilding

The Irish have been the success story of the last two World Cups. Yet they have been the victims of all the wrong-doings of the big boys of the cricketing world. They hardly get to play the big nations. And the Irish national team is becoming a sort of a recruitment center for England. However this time around they have a good chance of making it to the knock-outs. But will they be able to remains the questions.
World Cup Target - At least one if not more big boy scalp to their name (Pakistan/South Africa/India better watch out)

The UAE are back playing in the World Cup after a gap of 19 years. But not expecting much from them.
World Cup Target - Avoid getting hammered in every game and try to beat the Irish.

Key Games 
  • India vs Pakistan
  • Zimbabwe vs West Indies
  • Zimbabwe vs Ireland
  • Ireland vs West Indes
South Africa, India and Pakistan should make it to the Quarters. The 4th place will be tough fight between West Indies, Zimbabwe and Ireland. This is certainly the more intriguing group.

Now let the games begin.