Thursday, March 31, 2011

World Cup - Semifinal Thoughts

Probably the Biggest match of my cricket-watching career. Nervous anticipation in the morning. Even office had given an unprecedented half day leave "to cheer the Indian team to victory" (as per the wordings of the mail). After all, team aise hi nahi jeeti hai, jeetani parti hai (My contribution - wore blue to work & FB display pic is now the Bleed Blue logo). And for the match it did live upto the expectations of a hyped up India-Pakistan game. Now that the entire thing is done and dusted, some thoughts about the game.
  • First up, Shahid Afridi. "I am sorry to my nation". With that one line, he certainly did win the hearts of most people watching the post match presentations.
  • The calm confidence of Suresh Raina when he said, "I am there" on being asked if India would miss the off-spin of Ashwin.
  • Dhoni admitting that he misread the pitch. Yet Ashwin could hardly have done any better than his replacement Nehra (10 overs, 2/33).
  • Do not judge the quality of the pitch as long as Sehwag is batting. Till Sehwag was there, pitch was called a batting paradise and immediately turned bowler friendly on his departure.
  • Sachin Tendulkar's innings was ugly to say the least. Yet he got the runs.
  • "You just dropped the world cup, son". The iconic Steve Waugh line for Gibbs could have been used for the entire Pakistani team as they gave SRT one chance after the other. Nice to see a fielding unit which is worse than ours.
  • Shoaib Akhtar quietly faded into the background. Was Crazy, controversial and really FAST. Would be missed.
  • Funniest moment of the day. The Akmal brothers holding on to their Shahid bhai when he had finally taken Tendulkar's catch.
  • India vs Pakistan in World Cups: 5-0 India (make it 7-0 if we include T20 WCs)
Now its to the finals
Prediction - India to win (As for my blue shirt, I hope I get the shade correct)

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Semi-Final Preview

The World Cup is at a stage where it is now beyond Prediction Time. As for the quarter-finals predictions, 3 out of 4 successes for me with only the South Africa-New Zealand game going the other way (there I had put in the disclaimer about the South African choke). Now to semi-finals. Or rather THE SEMI-FINAL.
India vs Pakistan at Mohali. The game has already been hyped up beyond just a match. The Prime Ministers are attending (Aside, last time PM Manmohan Singh attended a big match, India lost 8-0 to Australia in the CWG Hockey finals, So I am worried, very worried). People are talking about a national holiday on Wednesday. The whole country is likely to come to a standstill. There is a general sense of nervousness  and anticipation in the air. No one is even thinking beyond this game. So while I try to calm my nerves for the big match, I present here a small compilation of India-Pakistan World Cup highlights as a preview for the match. (All India favoring as we have an AWESOME record in World Cups)

1. The Kiran More - Javed Miandad altercation in 1992

2. Ajay Jadeja's slog overs bash in 1996

3. The Prasad-Sohail encounter in 1996

4. Sachin blasting Shoaib & Waqar in 2003

5. Joginder Sharma bowling the last over to Misbah in the 2007 T20 WC final (Ok it was not an ODI but still a World  Cup only)

6. The bowl out in the weirdest ending ever (from the same T20 WC)

7. The Kanitkar moment in Bangldesh indepence cup (Ok, not a World Cup moment but a great victory moment for Indian fans). This was an example of an entire international career being defined by one memorable shot)

Given the history of the rivalry, God Only Knows what 2011 will provide. But something will linger on definitely.

P.S. In case the match ends in a tie, it will an OOPSE moment for all (Explained in detail here)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Arbit Statistics - 5 & World Cup Thoughts - March 25th

Arbit Stats of the Day

  • First time in 10 World Cups both India and New Zealand have made it to the semi-finals. So far it had been either New Zealand (1975, 1979, 1992, 1999, 2007) or India (1983, 1987, 1996, 2003) but never both together.
  • The result also continues the trend of India & South Africa reaching alternate semi-finals since 1992 (South Africa's readmission year). 1992 (SA), 1996 (India), 1999 (SA), 2003 (India), 2007 (SA) and now 2011 (India).
  • South Africa yet to win a World Cup knockout match while New Zealand win their first in 6 attempts.
Now for the World Cup Thoughts
  • Choke is an overused word when describing South Africa's performance. Asphyxiation is a nice alternate term (though sounds quite technical)
  • First prediction which came unstuck. Though the disclaimer had been put (about the choking business).
  • The old saying "Catches win matches" never seemed truer than today. Oram's catch to dismiss Kallis was strangely reminiscent of Kapil Dev's catch to dismiss Richards in the 1983 final. (Aside, Have seen the highlights of that game so often that the events of the game have become a part of memories).

World Cup - 2nd Quarter-Final: The Victory Moment

Sometimes a picture says it all.
A bit of photoshopping and an image which sums it all up.

P.S. India and Yuvraj won. Australia lost but Ponting certainly had not been beaten.

World Cup Thoughts - March 24th

Its been a couple of hours since the match ended but the sense of euphoria is still preventing any sleep. Was a nervous day but I successfully stayed in front of the TV throughout the Indian chase, thus proving that I can handle some pressure (:P). At work, it was a tense few hours waiting for the match itself to begin. And office itself was caught up in cricket fever. Even the daily "Thought for the Day" mail carried SRT's picture. Now on to the game itself.
  • Ricky Ponting has been facing some tough times as a player. Today he played the perfect innings to build the Aussie innings almost single handedly. The perfect World  Cup swansong for Ricky Ponting, the batsman. Didn't like seeing him booed by the crowd though.
  • Yuvraj Singh has had his place questioned in the team before the Cup began. Now after his 4th man of the Match winning performance, can anybody raise such a question? Seems to have already booked the Player of the Tournament award for his all round display (no pun intended).
  • Watching Raina play the pull shot to Tait & Lee felt real  good. An inspired selection to say the least. Played his part in a calm finish after the madness of Gambhir's runout and Kohli's dismissal.
  • Is there anything that Zaheer can't do with the ball now? Mike Hussey is the  latest victim of a Zaheer return spell special.
  • We are still one bowler short. And well of course, what has happened to Dhoni's batting?
  • And finally to Brett Lee for all the commitment on the field. Can't even imgaine our bowlers dive around in the field like that. Was this the las time we have seen Lee in action on the international stage?
Now, awaiting the semi-final clash in Mohali against Pakistan. Wondering (and hoping) if the government will just declare a national holiday on Wednesday. 

P.S. The first 2 games turned out as per my predictions.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

World Cup Quarter-final Predictions

Its Prediction Time

The quarter-final line-up has been finally settled. The matches in the league did not exactly fit into any pattern. But they did show that the unpredictable can happen in a matter of overs. New Zealand's 92 run blast in 4 overs against Pakistan, India's 29/9 collapse against South Africa or West Indies fading away against England. All showed that games can turn around in a matter of few balls. There are enough players who can take the game away from any opposition at any time. Someone like Zaheer Khan can turn it in just one magical ball (Andrew Strauss & Devon Smith will certainly vouch for this). All this just shows that predicting the winners on a given day isn't an easy task. So here are my predictions for the 4 Quarter-Finals.

QF1 - Pakistan vs West Indies
Predicting a Pakistan game is like predicting the unpredictable. On the plus side, they have a well rounded bowling attack with all kinds of bowlers available to them and a deep batting lineup with Razzaq coming in at No. 8. On the minus, they have Kamran Akmal behind the stumps (enough said). Add general pathetic fielding and a top order which does not provide any confidence. Against them are the West Indies, who have collapsed from eminently winnable positions against England & India. Roach and Gayle can change the game on their own though.
Prediction - Pakistan should win. (or Kamran Akmal drops a catch of Gayle who the unleashes mayhem,  then any result can happen)

QF2 - India vs Australia
Australia are the enemy No. 1 in the eyes of the Indian cricket fan. They have a real FAST bowling attack and Shane Watson. Apart from that they have Ponting's tantrums and a hopeless spin attack. India on the other hand have a much vaunted batting lineup, which tends to collapse after the 40th over, and Zaheer Khan.  India have done every thing they could to make sure that they are not considered as favorites by anyone. But they are still the bookies favored ones to win the Cup. 
Prediction - India to win. (I am an Indian, what else would I say?)

QF3 - New Zealand vs South Africa
Seemingly the easiest of the lot to predict. South Africa to stroll to a win. They have better batsman, better fast bowlers, and surprisingly even better spinners than New Zealand. But this is a knock out stage and they have a tendency to, umm... choke (:P) (On the other hand they might have taken care of that choke against England). And if something like 92 runs in 4 overs happens, then who knows.
Prediction - South Africa

QF4 - Sri Lanka vs England
Sri Lanka playing in Sri Lanka. They should win.  But they are up against England who have proved to be the real jokers of the tournament. Had 6 close games when quite a few others barely had 1. The teams they lost to did not qualify for the knock-out while having an unbeaten record against those which did. And they have provided 6 entertaining games on the trot. 
Prediction - Sri Lanka (though want England to win for the sheer entertainment they have provided)

Disclaimer: I am no octopus, just a mere mortal human being. So I could be wrong :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

World Cup Thoughts - March 20th

Finally the league matches come to an end. But in the end it can be said that they were not as bad as had been expected. Coming to today's matches.
  • Wondering if this is the last time we are seeing Kenya on the big stage. They certainly look on the decline. And the worst of all the Associates which have turned up. Not a single performance can be said to be memorable. Sad state of affairs really.
  • Goodbye to Steve Tikolo. One of the greatest batsman from an Associate country. This was a World cup too many for him. But he had a long and good innings.
  • Unlike Kenya, Zimbabwe seem to be back on track. They are returning to Tests later this year. Won comfortably against Canada & Kenya and lost easily to the big boys.
  • A Test series between Zimbabwe and Ireland would be an interesting idea. Would give Ireland test status and help Zimbabwe ease back into playing Test cricket. But I am sure ICC would have none of such "progressive thinking".
  • Zaheer Khan after the West Indies game said: "As a bowling unit, I think I am doing well". Was probably unintentional but said the truth about the state of the Indian bowling. A one man bowling attack, with support in the form of Yuvraj Singh. And this team might go on to win the World Cup.
  • India collapsed again at the end (though as Dhoni said 51/7 is certainly an improvement from 29/9). But West Indies out-collapsed them.
  • Darren Bravo definitely reminds of a certain Brian Charles Lara. Should achieve great things.
  • Sachin Tendulkar walked off today though the umpire had signaled not out (Aside, Should that be considered as dissent?). Ricky Ponting yesterday did not walk off though he knew he had nicked it and waited for the review. Both right in their own regard. But nothing can stop us Indians gloating and taking the moral high ground.
  • West Indies have a selection headache in picking between in-form Roach and Rampaul. On the other hand, India have to pick between out-of-form Nehra and Munaf. Unfair.
  • All Quater-finals lined up. Now over to the business end of the tournament. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

World Cup Thoughts - March 19th

The penultimate day of the league stage action.
  • Goodbye Bangladesh. To be honest you were a disappointment. You surprised everyone by winning against England (but that can be easily attributed to England being England). But the 2 crucial matches in which victory could have secured a quarter final berth, the batsmen simply froze. 58 against West Indies and 78 against South Africa were a collapse too many. Home support ultimately counted for nothing.
  • South Africa beats Bangladesh and India, England, West Indies qualify for the quarter-finals. Pretty good example of the Butterfly effect.
  • Finally it ends. Australia lose a world cup match after some 4139 days. Thats a long time. Last defeat also coming against Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup.
  • Ponting and the Aussies are becoming grumpier by every passing game. Haddin involved in some unsavory incidents today.
  • So its going to be a New Zealand-South Africa quarter-final. This is certainly going to break the sequence going on since 1992. Both South Africa and New Zealand have reached the semi-finals in the same world cup and lost there, or not qualified for the semis.
  • Tomorrow's games lined up. Farewells to Zimbabwe and Kenya, and a QF slot finalising game for India and West Indies.
And wishing all readers a very Happy & Colourful Holi :)

World Cup Thoughts - March 18th Goodbye Ireland

Farewell Ireland & Netherlands. If the ICC sticks to its crazy idea of a 10 team cup in 2015, we might not see you in the next World Cup. But you certainly entertained.

  • Ireland for the second consecutive World Cup put up a spirited show. Beat England and Netherlands, were in command at various stages against Bangladesh and West Indies, and certainly had India and South Africa in a bit of bother. Ireland became my second favorite team through the course of the cup.
  • Farewell to Trent Johnston and his chicken dance. Don't think there have been more innovative ways to celebrate a wicket in cricket.
  • Hoping to see a couple of Irish players in the IPL. The O'Brien brothers (Niall & Kevin), Paul Stirling, George Dockrell have serious talent. It would be sad though if they turn up in the next World Cup playing for England.
  • Netherlands scared England but could not really fight it out with the other big boys. They did resemble a One-man army at most times. Ryan ten Doeschate (tendo in short, provided me quite a few points in the cricinfo fantasy league) came in with the highest batting average amongst all players. And certainly did not do those numbers any harm even playing against the big boys. Will certainly follow his performances in the IPL with interest.
  • The other game of the day between Sri Lanka & New Zealand continued the trend of one sided matches in Group A with New Zealand beaten easily. 
  • The tables are still a mess though with no idea of who is going to face who in the quarters.
  • For tomorrow, Bangladesh have a chance to script their own destiny. They have beaten South Africa in the last World Cup and might as well do so again tomorrow.

Friday, March 18, 2011

World Cup Thoughts - March 17th

Straight into the bullet points today
  • England are at it again. How do they manage to make every game exciting regardless of the opposition?
  • After 6 games, all of which they could have won or lost, England are somewhere in the middle of the table. Not yet qualified but not yet out though.
  • Most of the England players seem to have hair issues. Going by the number of nerve sapping games that they are having, no wonder.
  • Moment of the Day - Trott's catch off Russel. England's Hope seemingly depended on if Trott's shirt was on the rope. I thought it was not. Simon Taufel seeing the same replays thought it was and gave it a six. He umpires in top level cricket, I do not. 
  • Andre Russel did everything with the ball, on the field and with the bat, yet could not win it for West Indies.
  • For sheer entertainment, England deserve some award not the cup itself.
  • And for tomorrow, a battle for honor between Ireland & Netherlands and a placing match between Sri Lanka & New Zealand.
  • Wondering why Sri Lanka is playing a game in Mumbai when they are co-hosting the Cup?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

World Cup Thoughts - March 16th

After many many days of play we finally bid goodbye to our first team. While one more team dropped out of the race for the World Cup. 
  • Ireland had the South Africans in trouble at one stage. But South Africa got away thanks to JP Duminy's 99 (who as per Sunil Gavaskar in the commentary missed out by 1 run on a well deserved century). 
  • We bid farewell to Canada. Nothing was expected of them. But hey had a decent outing here. Beat Kenya and had Pakistan in trouble for a long time before letting them off the hook. Nothing else to write about in their performances.
  • Also goodbye to John Davison, the oldest player in this tournament. A man who will always be remembered for that blistering century against the West Indies in the 2003 edition. And taking the catch to dismiss Ponting was a nice way to leave the world stage. The 40 year old also was part of the oddest opening combination with a 16 year old Nitish Kumar.
  • Tomorrow is a "Do or Die" for England at least against the West Indies. Hopefully, if nothing else they will entertain.

10 Years of a Very Very Special Test

March 15th 2011 marks the 10th occasion of the greatest Indian Test victory of all time. Some other matches might have been landmarks in their own right, but none of them can compare to the 171 run victory over Australia in the Eden Gardens Test in 2001. Probably one of the greatest come from behind victories in all sport. India overturning  a near certain innings defeat against the seemingly invicble Aussies into a huge victory. Harbhajan's Singh's 13 wickets including the first ever Indian hat-trick, Rahul Dravid's magnificent 180 and over them both VVS Laxman's 281, the first and the most special of the many Very Very Special innings that he has come to conjure over the next decade. But above all that the Laxman-Dravid partnership has ensured that however grim the situation may look like, the Indian fan can still dare to hope. And for that the match will always remain VERY VERY SPECIAL.

Monday, March 14, 2011

World Cup Thoughts - March 14th

4 consecutive one-sided matches in a row. Someone somewhere has really goofed up with the scheduling. Here are some thoughts after that.
  • Group A situation is clear. The minnows (Kenya, Canada & Zimbabwe) are out. The Big boys are through to the quarters. Only relative positioning to be decided. But given the murky situation in Group B, its still pure luck whom they draw in the Quarters.
  • In Group B, Netherlands are out of contention, while all the other 6 are in line for a quarter final place as well as losing out on a berth. Almost every game will have a bearing. And England are the first ones to face a Do or Die situation against the West Indies. The permutations and combinations are covered pretty well here)
  • Nothing much to write on about the cricketing action which went on.
  • Collins Obuya's missed century reminded me of the century missed by Kennedy Otieno against the Aussies in the 1996 World Cup.
  • Zimbabwe have a good fielding side, a good wicketkeeper batsman, a handy group of spinners. Batting and pace bowling still dodgy though.
Now to round off with a Kamran Akmal joke (his keeping was decent today though) 
A for Akmal, B for Ball, Ca for Catch, D for Drop (via a comment on cricinfo)

P.S. In other news, there is Jharkhand Premier League going on and it is being telecast live on Ten Cricket (Is the Indian viewers' appetite for cricket insatiable?)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

World Cup Thoughts - March 12th

Writing in Anger and Disappointment. Certainly not a good thing to do. But here goes.
  • Today was March 12. Seems to be the day the South Africans do not choke. 5 years ago they beat Australia in THAT game in Johannesburg.
  • First 40 overs with the bat, India were AWESOME.
  • Sebwag's 4Play. 5th game in a row, he hits the 1st ball for boundary.
  • Another SRT 100 in vain.
  • The Batting powerplay is the game changer and usually messing up the batsmen more than the bowlers.
  • Losing 9 wickets for 29 runs. Thats a collapse to be envious of. A freakish display nonetheless and hopefully not going to happen repeatedly.
  • The powerpacked batting line up failed miserably at the end today and still scored nearly 300 runs. And we failed to defend these many runs. Bowling is Worrying.
  • Should still qualify through but after that what happens is anybody's guess.
  • Somehow can't be enthused about either of tomorrow's matches (New Zealand vs Kenya and Australia vs Canada)
P.S. I am not picking any more calls during the last over of the game. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

World Cup Thoughts - March 11th

Before I begin today's post, some thoughts on the Earthqauke and tsunami in Japan. Nature putting on a "Shock and Awe" show to make everything else seem so insignificant.

England were playing today. Match had to be exciting. Here are the thoughts after today's matches.
  • Who is fixing all the England matches. Loses to Ireland and Bangladesh. Still not out of the QF race because they beat South Africa and stole a point from India. 
  • The match winning 9th wicket partnership reminded me of the Kumble-Srinath heist on Australia in the Titan Cup match in 1996.
  • Eoin Morgan must have been now wanting to play more and more for the Irish rather than the English.
  • Ireland are certainly not a minnow. haven't really been outplayed by anyone and actually have been favorite to win at some point in all the matches so far.
  • Yesterday, Zimbabwe did take 6 Sri Lankan wickets for some 20 odd runs but the those 282 scored before really hurt them. 
  • There was another screw-up with the UDRS system. Gary Wilson was given out at a very critical stage in lets say "dubious" circumstances post review. Did not see this happen directly. But thanks to Sridhar for pointing this out. (More details in his post here)
Tomorrow is a big game. India taking on South Africa to decide the top of the table.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

World Cup Thoughts - March 9th

It was an India match day, so a post has to come. Missed most of the game due to being at work. Only saw the end bits. Here are the thoughts for the day.
  • First, Piyush Chawla - From the reactions on the internet, he is fast replacing Ravindra Jadeja as the most abused Indian cricketer.
  • It seems to be a new strategy. Zaheer opens the innings, the other pacer opens from the other and after one over Yusuf starts over. Not a bad move given that except Praveen Kumar (and he is not playing), the other Indian pacers seem to prefer bowling with the older ball.
  • 4 in 4 for Sehwag. 4th innings in the World Cup and he starts with a boundary of the first ball. Thats a nice little habit to have. Had read somewhere that Sir Jack Hobbs (the greatest run accumulator in 1st Class cricket) liked to take a single off the first ball he faced. So Sehwag should be doing well.
  • Yuvraj Singh had another good day in the office. But the rest of the team seemed to be taking it easy. Still the Seven Samurai managed to get the job done in the end.
  • I thought India had made it to the Quarters by now. But it seems I was wrong. There is an odd chance that we have not. If WI beat Eng, Eng beat Ban, WI beat Ind, Ire beat WI, SA beat Ind, Ire beat SA, SA beat Ban & Ire beat Neth, Ind could still miss out. (Source - @espncricinfo)
  • And to end with some new titles for Kamran Akmal - Here is what he has been described as by the master of Awesome cricket writing Andy Zaltzman -  the Maharajah of Missed Chances, the Don Corleone of Dropped Catches, the Earl of Err, the Pharaoh of Fumble, Lance Corporal Granite Hands

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

World Cup Thoughts - March 8th

Wasn't really sure of posting a blog today. But there was one hell of an innings by Luteru Ross Poutua Lote Taylor which forced me to.
  • Apparently Kenya & Canada played a World Cup match yesterday. Who won? And it was a waste of electricity playing the game under lights.
  • New Zealand - Pakistan was interesting for a total of 13 overs. The last 6 from the Kiwi innings and the first 7 of Pakistan's. A picture of the Kiwi Manhattan tells all the story. (Picture from Cricinfo)
  • How does Kamran Akmal get to keep wickets for a Test playing country? Today was even lower than his normally pathetic levels of keeping. The Pakistanis must be really wishing that ICC had prevented him from being selected in the squad.
  • Ross Taylor was given a birthday gift by Kamran Akmal on 0. A catch let go for 4, and then another one dropped two balls later. Taylor went on to hammer the bowlers in the end. 
  • I don't think I have seen a faster team 100 than those scored at the end of the New Zealand innings.
  • Conspiracy theorists might like to believe this match to be fixed. But to me this was just a case of Pakistan being Pakistan, at their inconsistent best. And all of a sudden, they are not looking the favorites anymore.
  • New Zealand, I had almost written off. But the way that they demolished Zimbabwe and now beaten Pakistan, it must have done them a world of good. Vettori's injury would be a concern though.
  • Kenya have become the first team to be officially out of running for the cup. Now the World Cup 2011 is a 13 horse race.
  • In other news, its become more and more difficult keeping track of the injured list. Broad & Pietersen are also out of the World Cup for now (some of the injured have come back, so can't say that they will not return)
India takes on the Dutch tomorrow. Should be an easy win for us. But funny things have been happening here.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

World Cup Thoughts - March 6th

Not posted here in a while. Contrary to what might seem given the frequency of posts here, I actually have a regular job, with a 6 day work week at that, which sometimes makes me earn my salary. So since my last posting, where both my predictions went horribly wrong, 5 matches have taken place. Here are the World Cup thoughts as of date.
  • New Zealand are now in a neither here nor there kind of situation. They get thrashed by the big teams and indulge in some heavy-duty minnow bashing when they get the chance.
  • Whatever happened to Bangladesh. All out for 58, certainly wasn't expected and that too against West Indies. This was followed by the shameful incident of stone throwing at the West Indies team bus. Even more ridiculous was the explanation provided by the police, that the fans thought it to be the Bangladesh team bus. As if throwing stones at your own players is acceptable behavior.
  • If their was an award for the "Most Entertaining Team of the World Cup" it has to go to England. Another close match. 
  • Don't like to use the word, but South Africa choked today. When AB de Villiers and du Plessis were crawling towards the target, I wondered if the South Africans were planning to choke. And thats what they did. A flurry of wickets and England out of nowhere found themselves at the top of the Group table.
  • It seems all captains have found the way to get Kevin Pietersen out. Just put any left arm spinner against him. Today it was Robin Peterson's turn to get KP.
  • I believe the Irish are going to become the most loved team of the World Cup. Another fighting display this time against India. They were BRILLIANT in the field. Trent Johnston's chicken dance routine was funny. And George Dockrell is an impressive young spinner. Certainly looks like getting into the England team soon.
  • Yusuf Pathan showed how to best deal with a small target in a nervous run chase. 5 balls faced from a bowler who had just taken out Dhoni. 2 straight huge sixes and a four. Can't be more confidence destroying than that.
  • Never visit the barber's shop while an India game is on. My neck was literally on line with a raazor blade uncomfortably close while everyone debated the DRS review. One unnerving experience to say the least.
So tomorrow we have the game between Canad and Kenya. Not even worth predicting.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

World Cup Thoughts - March 3rd

After the grand Irish victory, yesternight, 2 seemingly boring matches were lined up. Here are today's World Cup thoughts.
  • South Africa hammered Netherlands by 232 run margin. The batting machine was efficient with Amla & de Villiers getting centuries while no one really clicked for the Dutch.
  • The 2nd game between Canada and Pakistan turned out to be much closer than expected. Pakistan certainly in quite a bit of bother till Afridi came up with a 5-wicket haul.
  • Canada looked liked an immigrant XI more than anything else.
  • They might have been beaten on the field but the Canadians certainly did not fall behind on thee verbal front. It was certainly funny seeing all the talk going on.
  • ICC seemed to be using this game to popularise the concept of the UDRS. Daryll Harper made one mistake after another and then kept on getting corrected by the Decision Review System. 
  • Tomorrow 2 critical matches from the Quarter-final perspective are lined up. Zimbabwe against new Zealand and Bangladesh against West Indies. My predictions - Zimababwe and Bangladesh to win.
Cricketing Joke of the Day
Q. What do you say when the "Laughing Buddha" becomes serious?
A. Gautam Gambhir [Gautam being the name of Buddha and Gambhir meaning "serious"]

Can We Cricket? Yes We Can!

The picture which sums it all up for Irish Cricket.

World Cup Thoughts - March 2nd

Here are the thoughts after one of the best games in the World Cup history. 
  • The English have taken upon themselves the task of making the World Cup worth watching. A struggling win against the Dutch, a crazy tie against India and now a high scoring defeat against the Irish. The winter Ashes thrashing of the Australians already seems like a lifetime away.
  • You always tend to support the underdog (except when the underdog is thrashing up your team). But the Irish really dug a big hole (it was more like a crater after a meteorite impact) for themselves, letting the English score 327, then got 5 down for 113 before going for victory.
  • Kevin O'Brien was AWESOME. Pure and near chanceless slogging. And he had great support from Alex Cusack and John Mooney.
  • The Irish today showed how to use the Batting Powerplay, unlike most teams. They used it as a shock value, did not wait till the end or even the change of ball. And it changed the momentum of game.
  • Unfortunately, the best Irish player in the world was not playing for either side today. Wonder how Eoin Morgan must be feeling today.
  • Funniest Comment - From the BBC text commentary "Could this match also be seen as a recruitment opportunity for England? Is it considered bad form to steal the other team's best players during a tournament? Or a match?". The ICC qualification rules are weird but it seems England can actually pick an Irish player as a replacement in case of injuries but the Irish will have to wait 4 years to take him back. 
  • ICC still planning to allow only 10 teams in the 2015 Cup?
  • Ireland/ICC should immediately take steps for Test status. Nobody really wants anymore cases like Ed Joyce. (A really nice of Ed Joyce is here)
  • Group B has been thrown wide open by this result. Some team is going to miss out big time. England face off against South Africa, West Indies & Bangladesh. Certainly not going to be easy.
  • India need to be very worried about Ireland now.
Now for some other thoughts.
  • Post the spot fixing scandal, anything even remotely out of ordinary is being treated as a suspect. ICC investigating into slow Australian start against Zimbabwe, while some Sri Lankan TV channel has accused Jayawardene & Samaraweera of deliberately losing against Pakistan. Some are also questioning Shane Warne's tweet about India-England match getting tied. Cloud of suspicion is never good. And the ICC/Boards must act if anything untoward is found.
  • And finally to Lasith Malinga. Does not play when I make him my trump player, but on getting dropped from my team, makes a comeback and taakes a hat-trick.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jharkhand - Vijay Hazare Trophy Champions 2010-11

With the World Cup going on, there was hardly any focus on the Vijay Hazare Trophy (the dometic one-day championship) going on. Jharkhand beat Gujarat by a massive margin of 159 runs to lift the trophy, the first ever domestic title win for the state. This has been a truly magnificent performance by Sarabh Tiwary and company. They had won all 4 preliminary matches, then beat Mumbai in the Quarter-finals, Vidarbha in the semis and now Gujarat in the finals. This performance shows that cricket has truly spread across India.
Some of the credit for this win does go to MS Dhoni, the first star cricketer from Jharkhand. His India duties may have prevented him from playing for the state now but he has been the real inspiration for this team. Saurabh Tiwary has already made his India debut. Ishank Jaggi is fast becoming one of the more consistent batsmen on the domestic circuit. A few others like Varun Aaron have got IPL contracts. The best part of this team is that the cricketers are entirely home grown and not hired professionals from other states.
Hoping this is the first of the many, many trophies to come.

World Cup Thoughts - Feb 28th

After the fantastic tied match between India and England, the World Cup went back to sleep on Monday with 2 low profile one-sided matches taking place. The only good thing was that in the hangover of the India-England game these two went almost unnoticed. Here are the thoughts for the day.
  • Zimbabwe indulged in some minnow bashing. Played a whole army of spinners and thrashed Canada. Tatenda Taibu (who yours truly had selected as the Trump player in his cricinfo league) picked up the Man of the Match while Ray Price (another slection :D) destroyed the Canadian top order.
  • Netherlands just could not sustain the momentum from the previous game against England and were destroyed by the West Indies. My players (RTD & Bravo) did not have that good a game. 
  • A world cup hattrick does deserv special mention for Kemar Roach.
  • I have said it before, spin will rule the Cup. And that is why I have a feeling that Zimbabwe might sneak into the Quarters ahead of the Kiwis. Even West Indies are opening the bowling with Benn.
  • The Associates are better off batting first, given most of the games are day-nighters. Score big and then funny things can happen while chasing under the lights.
  •  Today's prediction - Sri Lanka (the biggest of the minnow bashers) will roll over Kenya.