Saturday, April 26, 2014

IPL Expendables XI: 2014 Edition

During the last edition of IPL, I had prepared a team of grizzled, battle-hardened veterans. And inspired by the movie franchisee had named it as the IPL Expendables XI. And having started it have decided to compile a similar list this year.

The list had to undergo a major revamp as lots of the Expendables cast have finally hung up their boots. Though some of them are have taken non-combat roles in different teams (like the Mickey Rourke character in the first Expendables movie). With fresh auctions held this year, only 3 of last year's XI have survived. Sachin, Ponting, Dravid, Gilchrist & Agarkar have all retired. Hogg & Badrinath have not been picked while Sourav Ganguly is now showing signs of permanent retirement. Only Tambe, Murali and Shukla have survived into this edition.

This year's list was tougher to make and so I had to make a few concessions defining a veteran (but then Jason Statham is a key cast member of the Expendables and he is still in his prime). Sticking to the IPLpolicy of maximum 4 foreign players in the Eleven made it just that bit more difficult. 

  1. Michael Hussey - Mr. Cricket is the perfect person to open the batting for this veteran's lineup. This year has been picked by Mumbai Indians who do like having seniors playing and opening for them.
  2. Virender Sehwag - The man who destroyed many a bowling attack but now is a pale shadow of his former self. Coming off a very poor Ranji season but got a century for MCC. Lets see if any of the fire is still left.
  3. Jacques Kallis - Statistically the greatest all-rounder of all time. Recently retired from test cricket but is available for selection in the limited overs setup where South Africa do not pick him. Has been the goto man for his all round skills  for all Fantasy Leaguers.
  4. Brad Hodge - After years of being ignored he has made a comeback into the Australian national T20 squad. Also has scored the most runs ever in the T20 format.
  5. MS Dhoni (c & wk) - With Gilchrist having retired and Sangakkara not being picked, the choice of a veteran wicket keeper for the Expendables was very difficult. But given how much Dhoni has greyed over the years, he looks perfect for this team.
  6. Laxmi Ratan Shukla - Retains his spot from last year. Still plays Ranji and still plays the occasional IPL game though hasn't played for India this millenium.
  7. Muttiah Muralitharan - he retired from international cricket around the time IPL started. And in the seventh edition, he is still around. Though this might turn out to be one season to many for the highest wicket-taker in test cricket.
  8. Murali Kartik - One of the mysteries of Indian team selection has been the way they have handled left-arm spinners. Last time he played for India picked up a 6-wicket haul against Australia but never got picked again. English counties though love him and he is the only Indian to have played for a non-IPL team in the Champions League.
  9. Ashish Nehra - Last act in international cricket was getting a finger broken while attempting a diving catch in the World Cup semi-finals against Pakistan. Still hanging around the domestic circuit. Outscored Sehwag during the last Ranji season.
  10. Laxmipathy Balaji - The smiling assassin. Destroyed and bowler over Pakistan but injuries ruined a potentially great Indian career. However IPL has helped him make a couple of comebacks into the national team.
  11. Pravin Tambe - Made his first appearance in senior cricket in last year's IPL at the young age of 42. A decent IPL followed by a great Champions League and Tambe was made his first clss debut for Mumbai as well. A story of never giving up on the dreams.
There were a few other contenders (likes of Ryan ten Doeschate, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan etc.) but they may have to wait a season or two to make an appearance in the Expendables starcast. Not as populated with big names as last year but this team certainly won't be pushovers.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

India's 1st Test on film

Found a video claiming to be from India's first Test Match on video, dating 1951. Footage has shots of players walking into the ground, players meeting President Dr. Rajendra Prasad with photo sessions, crowds sitting right at the edge of the boundary, negligible security, hawkers selling their products, Newspapers transformed as hats, players in all whites, and no commentary
India XI vs MCC XI played at Ferozeshah Kotla, Delhi (Scorecard)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

IPL7: Notes #1

The 7th edition of the Indian Premier League has commenced outside India, in an area which is
  • known for being the hub of many fixing activities
  • and the global headquarters of ICC
  • and the current "home-ground" for a country whose players are not picked for playing in the tournament.
1st round of games have taken place. Nothing much to read on the cricketing front given the very narrow sample size currently available. Hence not making any comments on any of the team performances, yet. However special mentions for 
  • Glenn Maxwell, living upto the million dollar hype
  • Yuvraj Singh, for shrugging off those cricket fans idiots who threw stones at his house after the World T20 final, and
  • little Parthiv Patel, for dispatching the ball into orbit
Now for the main agenda items. Something very weird is going on with the coverage here. The rights are with Sony who earlier used to telecast it on Max. Then they launched a dedicated sports channel Sony Six. Also someone realized that having Hindi commentary would reach out to a far bigger audience. So till last year Max had English commentary and newly launched Six had Hindi. This time they have inter-changed it. Any particular reason? Can't be just to increase viewership for Six because that would definitely happen come June-July with the Football World Cup. 

Also Star Sports has well and truly ambushed the telecast. Paid live telecast and free "5 minute delayed" telecast are available online on . Also includes lots of marketing for the Star group. This has to be the heights of ambush marketing. Sony having to telecast Star Sports logo.

However the weirdest coverage is by cricinfo. They have stopped calling it the IPL all together. All coverage is of the Indian T20 league with the teams beings referred not by their name but as Jaipur T20 or Bangalore T20 etc. Now BCCI and online text commentary sites have been at loggerheads for quite sometime but this is weird. Also does it have anything to do with the Star Sports  and ESPN split? After all cricinfo is owned by ESPN.

Random Notes
  • Where did these cheerleaders arrive from? Weren't they supposed to be banned or is the ban applicable only in matches held in India?
  • There is now a camera on the cap of the umpire? How much more scrutiny are we going to subject the poor umpires to?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


16th April, 2014 Marks the start of another edition of the IPL. An edition where the actual on-field cricketing action has gotten more and more overshadowed.

Firstly, like in 2009, the IPL dates are clashing with the General elections. So the "Indian" Premier League will hold some of its opening games outside India. Unlike 2009, however most of the matches will be held in India  this time. But it does raise questions about the so called "strength" and "aspiring superpower" status of a country which cannot hold a cricket tournament during election time. 

Secondly, the continuing shadow of last year's fixing scandals. Agree, some players have been punished (quite heavily also). But what about the rest? Many other names have been dragged into the controversy. Couple of team owners are accused of betting. Some are suspected of match fixing. Current players may or may not have been named as those involved in the Mudgal Committee report. So many clouds of fixing hanging around and of all places IPL moves to UAE, the so called hub of all such activities. But then ICC itself is headquartered in Dubai. So no further comments.

Thirdly, the entire matter is subjudice. The Board president has been asked to step off by none other than the Supreme Court (a decision which is beyond my understanding - Can Courts interfere in running of private bodies without having come to any conclusion?). And to add to the irony quotient, the Court hearing and IPL launch happen on the same day.

Amidst all this, the actual cricket finally commences. Lots of legends have finally retired. In fact, I will have to create an almost all new Expendables XI this time around. Many team changes have happened. Its back to an 8 team format. And I am still looking for a team to support.

Will I follow the tournament? Of course, I am an Indian and even our Honorable Supreme Court thinks the IPL should go on. After all as they say cricket is a religion in India and matters of faith are even higher than the court of law. 

So all set to follow the cricketing part of the IPL. Hoping that no new controversies (off-field come about). And the guilty from the past don't go unpunished.

Let the Games (both on and off the field) begin.