Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Post T20 World Cup Post

Its been a week since England won the T20 World Cup. Should have posted this sooner but got tied up with work. 
England's performance was thoroughly professional throughout the tournament and the only hiccups caused were  due to Duckworth-Lewis rather than any of their opponents. They won all their completed games with ease. In fact as someone rightly said we didn't really know how good England were until they outplayed the Australians in the finals. It was a comprehensive win to say the least. Paul Collingwood and company were truly deserving winners of the tournament. And finally after 9 World Cups, 6 Knockouts/Champions Trophy & 3 T20 World Cups, England finally managed to win a global cricketing event.
Some random comments
Ricky Ponting's calls for having Best of 3 finals smacked off being bad losers. And was roundly smashed across all reader forums.
England successfully followed the IPL model by having 4 foreign players in their line-up (Lumb, Kieswetter, Pietersen, Morgan)

Post T20 World Cup
The cricketing action has resumed. South Africa have beaten West Indies in 2 T20s and an ODI in the week after the World Cup. International cricket has reached the USA with New Zealand beating Sri Lanka in the first T20 match.
Coming up is the Bangladesh-England Test Series and the India-Sri Lanka-Zimbabwe tri-series in Zimbabwe.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Australianism means single minded determination to win - to win within the laws but, if necessary, to the last limits within them. It means where the "impossible" is within the realm of what the human body can do, there are Australians who believe that they can do it - and who have succeeded often enough to make us wonder if anything is impossible to them. It means they have never lost a match - particularly a Test match - until the last run is scored or their last wicket is down.
John Arlott, 1948 (Description of the Invincibles).

Michael Hussey's performance in the 2nd semi-final showed that 62 years down the line these words still ring true. In recent times it has been on display in the Sydney test against Pakistan (Hussey was the lead player there too) & the Hyderabad ODI against India (Sachin's 175 in a lost cause), where the Australians have won from seemingly lost situations.

Salute to the Australianism

Thursday, May 13, 2010

World T20 - India Review

This post is related only to the performance of the Men in Blue. The Women in Blue have performed along expected lines. Tonight they take on Australia in the semi-finals. Australia would seem to be the favourites here but it won't be very surprising if India wins tonight.
Now for the Men's team.
One week back everyone was going ga-ga over the team. They had demolished Afghanistan and beaten South Africa in a clinical manner to top the group. India was indeed touted as amongst the favourite for the tournament. However once the Super 8s started, everything went horribly wrong and India lost all 3 games. The same experts are now out baying for the players' and BCCI's blood. And everyone has found their favorite whipping boy in the IPL, blaming the debacle on the parties, the travelling, Lalit Modi etc for the fiasco in the Caribbean. Being an armchair critic I can also blame the IPL. But I don't really think that is the main reason for the poor performance. Everyone should remember that India performed fairly well at the start of the tournament. And the bad performances began only after the team had had a 5 day gap between the matches.
We should simply admit that Indian team was simply just not good enough. And the others were better on the day. Here are some reasons for the poor performance
Poor Fielding : The dropped catches hurt. We dropped Gayle a couple of times early and he nearly hit a hundred which turned out to be the key difference against the West Indies.
Inability to play Short Pitched Bowling: Too much has been written about it and unfortunately its true. Our batsmen can't handle the short pitched stuff. This was exposed very early in the IPL also (specially by RCB). And given that the fast bowlers bowl only 4 overs, they can come in and hit the deck real hard. And here all batsmen are to blame.
Fast Bowling: India just does not have any decent pace bowlers. The best ones were taken to West Indies. And Praveen & Zaheer picked injuries there. But do we have any real options here. During the IPL, everyone got hit and badly. Ishant, Irfan, Balaji, Sreesanth, Munaf, Tyagi. Only Umesh Yadav was fast. Apart from that our fast bowling stocks are pretty weak.
Team Selection: Going by the performances in the IPL, Uthappa, Ojha, Mishra, Kohli should have been in the team. (Sachin & Kumble ideally should also have been there, but their case is different). The highest run-getter, the person with the most sixes (who also can be back-up keeper), the top 2 wicket takers in the IPL, all were missing. And we played only 2 seam bowlers in fast bouncy Barbados.
Ravindra Jadeja: Poor Guy. Banned from IPL, so cant blame fatigue. Did'nt want to go on about this guy. But if one person's performance is being blamed for losing in 2 consecutive World Cups, something is wrong. He was termed as an example of an all-round failure (very harsh, but unfortunately true).
So that was the World T20 from the Indian perspective. There were some good performances. Raina showed willingness to stick there and fight it out. Vinay Kumar impressed on debut. Nehra was good in patches as was Rohit. But again nothing much to really talk about in positive light.

And all this after we Indian fans were still hoping for miracles. And working out ways and means to somehow reach the semi-finals. The loss hurts. And everyone will blame something or the other, starting with the players. But don't worry Team India. You have people like me who will definetely watch next time you play.

Looking Forward to
Indian Women's Team semi-final match. You have already performed much better than the men for the 2nd time in a a row. Take it a few steps ahead this time around.
As for the men, India's tour of Zimbabwe under Raina's captaincy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

T20 World Cup - Super 8s Review

The Super 8s is over and we have our semi-finals lineup ready
England vs Sri Lanka
Australia vs Pakistan
So only 2 of my predicted semi-finalists made it through (one from each group). And as for my ultimate final lineup, it failed on the first hurdle itself.
Here are the highlights of the Super 8s (although I watched only one match a day)
  • England's awesome performances (something which is hardly expected from the Brits). Kevin Pietersen was their star.
  • Australia getting a hang of the T20. Superb displays from the entire batting order. Highlight was the six blitz against India.
  • India's meek surrender in bouncy Barbados.
  • Pakistan sneaking in to the semis, with help from England.
  • South Africa somehowing losing the plot. AGAIN.
Ok form now on no more predictions. I hope England win the tournament though.

In the women'd section, the lineup is
New Zealand vs West Indies & India vs Australia.
England's early exit was shocking.
Hope the Indian women do better.

Other Sports
Vishwanathan Anand is the World Champion (clap, clap, clap)
Indian teams have reached the quarter-finals in both the Thomas & Uber Cups

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Potentially Ultimate Final Line-Up

Lets consider the following scenario for the remaining 4 games before the T20 World Cup Final.
Game 1: India beats Sri Lanka by more than 20 runs (or in less than 17 overs)
Game 2: Australia beats West Indies
Semi-finals lineup: India vs England; Pakistan vs Australia
Pakistan beats Australia
India beats England
And there we have it. The ultimate final showdown.
INDIA vs PAKISTAN in the T20 World Cup final.

Ok, I know for this scenario to come true, the Inverse of Murphy's Law has to happen. Everything that can go right should go right. But why not be an optimist. And T20 is an unpredictable format.
Given the form India has displayed in the Super 8s, they don't deserve to be qualify ahead. But then neither did Pakistan who have managed to sneak into the semis.

P.S. Indian Women's Team has made it into the semi-finals for the second year in a row.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

T20 World Cup - Mid-Review 2

The first round of the T20 World Cup is over. Surprisingly this time there has not been a single upset of any kind. In fact the only excitements have been caused more because of the rain & Duckworth-Lewis than anything during the actual game. All the big teams are though to the Super 8s, while Afghanistan, Ireland, Bangladesh & Zimbabwe pack their bags.  Here are the highlights of the last 6 games.
  • Mahela Jayawardene's century. Probably the most elegant T20 knocks ever.
  • Eoin Morgan's batting.
  • Duckworth-Lewis troubling England.
So now we move to the busines end of the tournament. Here are my semi-final predictions - India, Sri Lanka, England, South Africa.

P.S. The Women's T20 has also started and West Indies's Deandra Dottin became the first women to score a T20I century. England, New Zealand, Australia & India to make the semi-finals in this edition.

Monday, May 3, 2010

T20 World Cup - Mid-Review 1

We are now exactly halfway through the first round stage of the T20 World Cup. 6 matches gone, 6 to go. India have confirmed their C2 berth in the Super 8 stage, while England & Zimbabwe are yet to start their campaign. So far all banana-skins negotiated safely (West Indies against Ireland, India against Afghanistan & Pakistan against Bangladesh). Only one close match (Sri Lanka vs New Zealand) so far. Others have been fairly one-sided. Highlights of the first six games.
  • Nathan McCullum's winning six vs Sri Lanka.
  • Afghanistan playing on the big stage.
  • Suresh Raina's century.
  • Mohammed Aamer's 5-wicket maiden over (included 2 run-outs)

Slow outfield, long boundaries & pitches on the slower side have tended to even out the contest between bat and ball. Batsman are being made to work for their runs. Somehow though the games are not getting the proper atmosphere. Maybe its because of the absence of floodlights, to take care of the time zone differences. And the commentary is ad-free and telecast doesn't get interrupted by ads.
Technically no team has been knocked out of the tournamnet as yet. Though Sri Lanka are in a spot of bother. Zimbabwe & Bangladesh can still hope to steal the berths in the Super 8s. Lets just wait and watch.