Thursday, December 30, 2010

10 From 2010

Twenty Ten is almost gone. Time for an annual list making exercise. So here are 10 cricketing stories from 2010  (A couple of other such selections are here: Arbit & Music).

1. Jai Shri Laxman
VVS Laxman is the man. The rest of the Indian top order can safely not turn up in the 2nd innings as they know Laxman is there. Match winning innings against Sri Lanka, Australia, South Africa, a match saving one against New Zealand. It seems he needs a crisis on a regular basis to perform. The Australians are specially wary of him. After all VVS scored and Australia lost though they weren't even playing against each other.

2. The Non-stop Tragicomedy of Pakistani cricket.
Dont even know where to get started on this. Spot Fixing, Captaincy changes, Players banned/retired, Bans reversed, Afridi biting the ball, Zulqarnain Haider going missing, Ijaz Butt's comments. The Pakistani cricket was in a total mess and it kept getting messier. When at the end of the year Shoaib Akhtar's presence became a calming influence then something is seriously wrong.

3. Sachin Tendulkar - The non-stop record breaking machine
Sachin Tendulkar has already gone past many landmarks in his 21 year international career. But this year was a new high even for him. Won the ICC Player of the Year award for the first time, Became the first man to score an ODI double century in Gwalior,and then went on to become the first player to score 50 Test centuries. A World Cup victory is the only thing left to attain now.

4. The Aghan Fairytale
Afghanistan provided the fairytale story of the year. Rose through the ICC World Cricket Leagues to gain ODI status. Participated in the T20 World Cup and later in the year won the silver medal in the Asian Games. A truly heroic perfomance from the war ravaged country.

5. The Sprinkler Dance
England went to Australia with the hope of becoming the first Englaish team to retain the Ashes in Australia in 24 years. Excellent all round performances led to the target being achieved in the 4th Test in Melbourne itself. And to celebrate the English team performed the Sprinkler Dance (video).

6. Mount Murali
Before the series against India, Muttiah Muralitharan announced that the first Test would be his last (Maybe he was also tired of playing against India). He was on 792 wickets. Duly picked up the 8 Indian wickets and retired from the game becoming the 1st man to take 800 Test Wickets.

7. The No-Ball - Suraj Randiv
Virender Sehwag on 99 with one run to win. Suraj Randiv bowls a BIG no ball which Sehwag dispatches for a six. However due to idiotic rules, Sehwag doesn't get the six as the match ends at the no ball itself. Leads to a fair bit of outcry in the Indian media. It gave me hope that India-Sri Lanka cricketing relations would be spoiled and we wouldn't play against them ever. (Alas, it was not to be).

8. The ever going India-Sri Lanka series
Test Series, 5 match ODI series, Tri-Series, T20 Matches. India and Sri Lanka seemed to be a continuous ongoing series. Somehow both the teams had space in their calendars at the same time. Everyone grew tired of it. A catchy tagline for promoting cricket was suggested - "Cricket - It is beyond India-Sri Lanka matches also"

9. England T20 World Champions
England somehow managed to reach the 2nd stage of the World Cup in West Indies. And then produced a clinical display to win their first ever ICC trophy. In fact it was said that only after winning against Australia in the finals did we realise how good the English were.

10. The Unnoticed One - Rahul Dravid
In the 1st Test against South Africa at Centurion, Rahul Dravid reached 2 big landmarks. However, a national media obsessed with cricket missed both. In the first innings, SRT failed to reach his 50th century by 65 runs (Dravid crossed Lara to become the 3rd highest run-getter ever) and in the 2nd innings SRT reached the 50th (Dravid reached 12000 mark). In the very next test, Dravid became the first non-wicketkeeper to take 200 catches, a feat which was duly recorded. And then almost got lost in frenzy of the win. Some people seem destined to play in the shadows.

The Ball

India vs South Africa, 2nd test Durban
Now this is one image which I dreamt about seeing but never thought was possible. An Indian bowler making the batsman jump up as the bouncer rose into his head, take the glove and lob off to a catch in the gully. And that the batsman was no less than Jacques Kallis was just the icing on the cake. Way to go Sreesanth.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Wall - 200 Catches

India vs South Africa, 2nd Day's Play, Durban
Rahul Dravid dives to his left at 1st slip to take the catch of Dale Steyn off the bowling of Harbhajan Singh to become the 1st non wicketkeeper ever to take 200 catches. A truly awesome achievement to say the least. And his reaction to the catch summed it all up.

In the mean time, the match keeps swinging like pendulum. India can be said to be marginally ahead at the moment though.

End of the Ponting Era ?

Pathetic. Humiliating. A Disgrace
This is how the BBC had started the text commentary for the 2nd day's play in Melbourne. This was to describe the reaction in the Aussie papers about the home team's perfomance on Day 1. But this could easily be used to describe Ricky Ponting's behaviour towards Umires Aleem Dar & Tony Hill today.
Kevin Pietersen given not out. Australia referred it and the 3rd umpire could not see any reason to change the original decsion. But then Ponting started bickering with the umpires as well as KP. Pretty much everything is against Ponting here. On field umpire gave not out. Bowler (Ryan Harris) and slip fielder (Watson) did not even appeal. Australia referred it. And the 3rd umpire upholds the original decision. Still Ponting bickers. If this is not dissent then what is?
Ideally should have been suspended for the next match. Even Ian Chappel called for his suspension. (I remember half the Indian team getting fined while Sehwag was suspended for excessive appealing against South Africa in 2001). But the match referee has given only a 40% fine. (Aside - This decision is deifnetely not going to go down well with the Indian supporters who have always felt that Australians are able to escape with lighter verdicts).
So Ponting is most likely to play the Sydney Test. But would that be his last one? Most probably the last one as captain. Clearly he hasn't been able to handle the decline that the Australians are facing. And today's outburts clearly shows his frustrations coming out. If this is his last series as player (Aussies generally do not prefer ex-captains in the team and they have been pretty ruthless in removing captains who have been deemed to be past their sell-by date) it would not be a good sight. Ricky Ponting has been one of the all time great batsman and does not deserve to go out like this. But given the recent happenings does not deserve any better.
The Barmy Army were singing "You are getting sacked in the morning". If it does happen would be a sad sight.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day Stories

It was an enjoyable Boxing Day for the cricket fan located in India. Action all day in the Southern Hemisphere. Quite a bit of it happened while I was still asleep. The Kiwis won a match after a long long time in the T20 against Pakistan. Pakistan started the innings with a bang and ended with a bang. In the middle Tim Southee took a "Michelle" including a hattrick.
Then to the action in Melbourne. Australia all out for 98 as another allround batting failure with even Hussey & Haddin not saving them. So I woke up to see Cook & Strauss coming in to bat and then put on a 150+ unbeaten partnership. An example of total domination.
It was nice to see the home team in such trouble and the Indian fan in me hoped for the same fate to befall the home team in Durban. Alas, it wasn't to be as Dhoni lost the toss (again) in cloudy conditions on a greenish pitch. I had flashbacks of Durban 1996 when India were shot out for 100 & 66 in the 2 innings. Bad light and rain stopped play early. Given the conditions 6 down for 183 is not too bad. Hoping the conditions remain same when Zaheer comes onto bowl. Highlights of the Day's Play Laxman's 5th career 6 and Tsotsobe's catch to dismiss him.

P.S. Given the number of tosses Dhoni continues to lose and the impact of the toss, it really is a wonder that India are the No. 1 test side. So maybe people might consider this factor before questioning India's numero uno status.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

ICC All time ODI XI

To mark the coming 40th anniversary of One Day International cricket on January 5, 2011, ICC has come up with a shortlist for selecting the greatest ODI XI of all time. As usual picking all time XIs is not exactly an easy task and would involve lota and lots of debate. Here is my lineup for the alltime ODI XI picked from the ICC shortlist.

Openers: Sachin Tendulkar & Saeed Anwar.
Middle Order: Vivian Richards, Aravinda de Silva, Brian Lara
All rounder: Imran Khan
Wicket Keeper: Adam Gilchrist (could have opened as well)
Fast Bowlers: Wasim Akram, Glenn McGrath, Allan Donald
Spinner: Shane Warne

Likely Bating Order
Gilchrist, Sachin, Anwar, Richards, Lara, de Silva, Imran, Akram, Warne, McGrath, Donald.

And for the greatest ODI of all time. My vote goes to the tie between Australia & South Africa in Edgbaston on June 17, 1999.

P.S. The team is being picked via an online poll. Somehow I can see more Indians in the list when the ICC announces the results.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Arbit Statistics - 4

1st Test, India vs South Africa, Centurion
South Africa win by an innings & 25 runs in a match which will forever be remembered for Sachin Tendulkar's 50th Test Century.

Now for the arbit stat of the match. India's score of 459 in the 2nd innings is the highest innings score made by the losing team in an innings loss. Now as an India fan I dont know what to feel about this stat.
  1. India lost by an innings - :(
  2. India scored 459 in 2nd innings - :)
  3. India lost by an innings in spite of scoring 450 odd in 2nd innings - :O
  4. India were hopelessly pathetic in the 1st innings - :'(
  5. Not just batting, India were pretty bad with the ball as well in the 1st innings. - :(
So, basically one stat just sums up the match quite well.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar - 50 Test centuries...

Looking at the reactions, nobody cares that there is still a test match going on.
Nothing else is there to say...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lets Get it Over with

As I write this, SOuth Africa have just declared their 1st innings at 620/4 with a lead of 484 (now thats big). This are the kind of matches which actually don't hurt you as an Indian fan. They are plain embarrassing. Thats all. A massive innings defeat is probably lined up. The top 5 of the Indian batting lineup have enough reputation & experiance to save the match. A draw is possible but not probable. Rains and some resolute batting are the only hope. Otherwise we can simply move on to the next one.
Highlights - Kallis reaching his first ever double century, while debutant Unadkat also got (hit for) a hundred on debut. On first view Unadkat doesn't look like he has it in him as yet to be playing at the international level. Neither pace nor swing. Raina's bowling figures were just a joke. And if he doesnt do something special in the 2nd innings there is a good chance of him getting replaced by Pujara in the next test. And hopefully Zaheer will be fit and come back into the lineup for the next test.
I am not too worried about the innings defeat though. Earlier this year, they beat us by an innings in Nagpur and in the very next match we beat them by an innings in Kolkata.

And over in Perth the English are staring down the barrel. The Australians simply keep coming back. Don't they? Must be the Australianism.

As I type this post, there have been a couple of run-out chances missed already in the first 3 overs, while Sehwag & Gambhir have started blazing away. Lets get it over with. Lets also have some fun while we are on it though.

Friday, December 17, 2010

"Improvement" continues

This is written during the post lunch session of the 3rd Ashes Test at Perth.
After the Day 1 1300% improvement in batting, its the bowling unit which has now started improving. Here it has been far more drastic. Across Brisbane & Adelaide, the Aussies conceded over 1000 runs to pick 5 English wickets. In Perth they took 5 wickets while the English first innings score progressed from 78 to 98. So from a 1000 runs for 5 wickets to 20 runs for 5 wickets. If this is not improvement then I dont know what is?
Yesterday I was actually starting to feel a bit (only a very tiny bit) sorry for Ponting & Co. Not any more. Let the contest continue.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Unadkat, Collingwood & other Dec 16 stories

First of all, congratulations to Jaidev Unadkat for becoming the 267th player to represent India in test match cricket. Interestingly he is the first player to have been born after Sachin Ttendulkar's international debut to play for India. (On a side note what happened to Abhimanyu Mithun?)
So Day 1 of the InSaf series, Indian batsman were knocked out with only the last pair of Dhoni & Unadkat holding fort. Its going to be one uphill climb for the Indian team. Though it was the Indians who were at the receiving end of it, I still loved the sight of the ball bouncing all around and the fast bowlers in full flow. Harbhajan Singh's weird runout was the highlight of the day. Morne Morkel took out Rahul Dravid to claim his 100th test wicket. Rahul Dravid scored just enough to cross Brian Lara as the 3rd highest run getter in Test history.
The day had started with the Aussies in trouble against the English in Perth (another fast bouncy track). The highlight of the day has to be Collingwood's catch to dismiss Ponting. Here is the picture of the day.

Now this is ïmprovement"

Adelaide - Australia 3/2 early on Day 1
Perth - Australia 3/28 early on Day 1

I dont know why some Aussies are cribbing. Haven't they already improved by some 1300% over the course of one game. 

Must say it though, there is a no better early morning mood uplifter than seeing the Aussies in trouble after having seen them as the dominant throughout my 20 year cricket watching career. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

What did he say?

Following excerpt is from a cricinfo article.

"I look back on this one-day tour [of India] as one of the worst tours for me as a New Zealand cricketer," Vettori said in Auckland. "That hurts a lot and it's embarrassing."

What does Dan the Man mean. How can losing 5-0 to India in ODIs be worse than losing 4-0 to Bangladesh?
Or maybe his mind has been numbed by the series of successive defeats that he doesn't know what he is saying.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Indian XV for World Cup - Post Kiwi Whitewash

India whitewashed New Zealand and won the ODI series 5-0. This should not be all that surprising given that New Zealand had just lost 4-0 to Bangladesh. But for an Indian fan it was a rare moment. The Indian team hardly clean sweeps series. They always tend to lose one match in the series, regardless of the opposition. I can recall a 5-1 victory over Sri Lanka (2005), 4-1 win in Pakistan (2006), 6-1 over England (2006), 3-1 in New Zealand (2009) and a few others (there is even a 2-1 victory over Bangladesh (2004)also). There had been a 5-0 victory over England (2008) but it was a 7 match series with the last 2 matches cancelled due to the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.
The margins of victory in the 5 games can lead to either of following conclusions, India are Awesome (they very well might be, remember, this was effectively a second string team) or New Zealand are totally pathetic (more likely). Only in the 4th game was there a semblance of a contest. Otherwise India just stormed over the Kiwis with the last game ending before the mid innings break itself.
The tour was a part of the buildup to the next year's World Cup to be held in the subcontinent. With the seniors resting this was a good chance for some players to seal spots for theWorld Cup. And a couple of them like Kohli & Yusuf definetely have. While some others have strengthened their cases (Ashwin, Munaf, Parthiv).
Though there are 3 months still to go for the World Cup, I pick my XV for the tournament. This could definetely change post the tour of South Africa. Baring injuries this is what the team could look like.
Sachin,Sehwag, Gambhir, Kohli,Yuvraj, Raina, Dhoni, Yusuf, Zaheer, Nehra, Praveen, Harbhajan, Ashwin.
There are 2 more slots left: One fast bowler - one of Munaf, Sreesanth, Ishant & one batsman - Rohit, Saurabh Tiwary or Parthiv Patel (can also act as back up keeper). Right now I would choose the Patels (Munaf & Parthiv) for the 2 slots.

Now over to the South African series

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Only One Team Was "Playing" Cricket

After Australia's humiliating defeat at the hands of the English in the 2nd Ashes Test in Adelaide, the press are certainly having a field day. Here is one sample line picked straight from the Bodyline series which would certainly rankle the Aussies. 

Pic - Courtesy Cricinfo's Facebook Page

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sehwag, Shoaib & Sachin

A little anecdote about the Little Master, by Virender Sehwag. Said during the Sahara Sports Awards 2010.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Greg Chappell is the One to be Blamed

After Day 2 of the 2nd Test Australia are looking more and more unlike Australia. England are looking set for a big score before letting the Aussies try to bat out to save the Test. There is already a joke going around that the Australian performance has improved drastically as they have picked 2 English wickets in a single day's play (:P).
Well, all I have to say is the Australians had it coming. After all they have appointed Greg Chappell as the chief selector. We Indians all know what he happened to the Indian cricket team while he was our coach. We failed to even qualify for the Supe 8 stage of the World Cup 2007. Team not settled, players chopped and changed. Nothing much different from the current Australian setup. Random spinners being picked (Doherty picked because he is a left armer and KP has a tendency to get out to left arm spinners). Hilfenhaus dropped for no particular reason.
Greg Chappell was a great batsman. But so far his stints with the national teams havent been great. So I do some history match, put my neck out and say Greg Chappell is the one to be blamed for the current state of affairs in the Australian cricket team.

Friday, December 3, 2010

3 wickets for 2 runs

Woke up today morning and switched on the TV to watch the score in the 2nd Ashes Test.
Saw it as Aus 3-2. Felt happy before realising that this is a match being played in Australia. So the score was not  2 down for 3 runs as I had read it but was actually 3 down for 2 runs. Felt HAPPIER :D
For some reason the Aussies & Kiwis like to put the score the other way.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


A woman in USA with no idea about cricket kept her twitter handle as @theashes. This was enough for the tweeting cricket-crazy fans to bombard Ms. Ashley Kerekes with questions like "Whats the score?". The lady initially was angry.
"I AM NOT A FREAKING CRICKET MATCH!!!" is what she said, but has now sort of accepted her new found celebrityhood. In fact she has offered a ticket to fly to Australia to watch the ongoing Ashes. Also there is new hasttag campaign on twitter asking the authorities to #gettheashestotheashes. And she is also encashing this by selling her own t-shirts.

Confusion leading to fame & business.

P.S. I am thinking of changing my twitter handle to @iccworldcup2009 or @cricketworldcup2009 or something like that. Lets see if they give me a ticket to the World Cup finals.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Today when I switched on the TV before leaving for work, the score was 503 for 1. And this was not Sri Lanka building a huge score in the first innings of a home test. This was England in the 2nd innings of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, after having conceded a 220 odd run lead in the first innings. 
The Aussies must be a real demoralised lot, after this battering. The end result may have been a draw but the psycholigical points are with England. They survived when nobody expected them to. Hats off to Strauss, Cook & Trott for their magnificent innings.

P.S. The Aussies can take heart from the fact that according to the Ranji Trophy scoring system, the points would have been Australia-3, England-1.

P.P.S. I can recall a similar match from 1999. India were shot out for 83 in the first innings, then scored 500+ for 3 (with 3 centurions) in the 2nd against the Kiwis.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Peter Siddle - the Expression

The Ashes have started. The opening salvos have been fired. Australia have moved into a commanding poesition at the end of Day 3 thanks mainly due the Peter Siddle hattrick spell and the Hussey-Haddin 300+ partnership.

On Day 1, Siddle took a 6 wicket haul including a hattrick (Cook, Prior, Broad). Now, this is one awesome way of celebrating your birthday. It is his look of intense concentration while bowling which stands out. The best comment  -  his face looks as if he is trying to divide 376 by 17 in his head. Here is a pic

Thursday, November 25, 2010

India - New Zealand, 2010 Review

New Zealand are turning out to be one team which India are finding really hard to beat in Tests. In the last 20 years, In India 3 wins & 8 draws, while in New Zealand, 1 win, 4 draws & 3 losses. Even with a Test series victory India lost ranking points. For the Kiwis the result must have been a real morale booster following the pathetic display in Bangladesh (4-0 loss in ODIs). Here are some of the highlights of the series.
Kane Williamson scored a century on Test debut after a couple of ducks in his first 2 ODIs. Jesse Ryder was injured but still was their best batsman by quite a distance. And the Phantom, Chris Martin almost took them to victory singlehandedly with that spell in Ahmedabad. McCullum scored a double in Hyderabad.
Harbhajan Singh's batting provided the biggest cheers for India whlie his bowling was a letdown. (Best Comment after the second Test - Harbhajan the batsman is the reason why India aren't 1-0 down in the series while Harbhajan the bowler is the reason why they aren't 1-0 up). VVS Laxman came up with another in-crisis match saving innings. Dravid & Gambhir worked there way back to form whle Sachin was kept waiting for his 50th century, Sehwag played like Sehwag. Raina contributed more with the ball than with the bat. And people have started questioning his place now. Nothing much to write about in the bowling department though. Zaheer is the best bowler by a mile. Ironically, India took 20 wickets in the Test he did not play in.
So the Kiwis are done and dusted. And India now proceed to South Africa. Nice times for a cricket fan. Start the day with Ashes and then look over to spend the evening with a test series between the top 2 ranked nations. In between there is a 5 ODI series also to take place.

P.S. post was delayed due to following the ongoing Asian Games & the Bihar election results. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Arbit Statistics - 3

South Africa vs Pakistan, Ist Test, Dubai.
It has happened quite a few times that one player may have scored more runs than the entire oppostion playing XI or taken more wickets or catches. But this one takes the cake.
Jacques Kallis has scored more runs, taken more wickets & more catches in Test cricket than the entire Pakistani team combined. Now lets see if any one questions his all round abilities.

Arbit Statistics - 2

India vs New Zealand, 2nd Test Day 2
45.1 Arnel to Tendulkar, 1 run, back of a length delivery angling down the leg, Tendulkar helps it down to fine leg for a single.

Nothing special in it by itself. With this single the Indian playing XI reached a career total of 50,000 Test runs. And they are the first ever team to do that. And it was fitting that the two seniormost batsmen Tendulkar and Dravid were there to reach this milestone (?)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Arbit Statistics

Cricket is a game filled with obscure statistics. Here is one more. But a quite revealing one.

This is from text commentary on MSN
83.6 Harbhajan to McIntosh, 1 run, Dhoni makes no attempt to save the single, Harbhajan gives it a bit of air, much fuller, McIntosh drives it to long on, gets to his 2nd Test ton, take a bow young man, it's been a terrific innings from him, the first ton by a NZ opener away from home after 6 years, Fleming was the last one to do it.

"the first ton by a NZ opener away from home after 6 years".
This single line probably sums up best the state of Kiwi batting in Test cricket. Also why they are where they are in the ICC rankings.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lowest First Class Score in India

Hyderabad were all out for 21 in the first innings of the new Ranji Season against Rajasthan with the debutant Deepak Chahar returning with figures of 7.3-2-10-8. Here is the video highlights of the innings.

Monday, November 1, 2010


South Africa get Razzaqed as they lose to Pakistan (sorry by Abdul Razzaq) by 1 wicket in the 2nd ODI.
What a finish to the game by Razzaq. These is the stuff for which movie climaxes are made. Doesnt really happen in real life. But it happened. Razzaq hit 10 sixes and scored 63 off the last 65 runs to take Pakistan to victory. What an innings. And all this while his partners (Haider, Wahab Riaz, Ajmal) were all busy trying to run themselves out and with Shoaib Akhtar for company. Razzaq reached his 50 with a boundary of the last baal of the 44th over and had scored his century with the 3rd ball of the 50th. And it was chanceless clean hitting. No  mishits, no dropped catches.  Will definitely go down as one of the greatest ODI innings ever. 

P.S. Dont think this will have much off an impact on Pakistani cricket though. They are too unpredictable and have seen too many false dawns.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Masters

Following piece is taken from an article on Sachin Tendulkar published in the Guardian.

Sachin Tendulkar, along with Shane Warne visited the Don on his 90th birthday. Here is what Sachin has to say about the meeting.

"We went to see him on his 90th birthday. We were talking about averages and I said. "Sir Don, if you were playing today, what would you have averaged?" And he said, "70 - probably." I asked, "Why 70 and not your actual actual average of 99?" Bradman said, "Come on, an average of 70 is not bad for a 90 year old man."

Simply awesome.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dont Forget to Pack the Urn

The challenge has been laid down. How will Strauss and Co. respond? Lets wait & watch.
Holographic image of Ponting & Clarke projected on to the Big Ben in London. Have to say this. Pretty unique way of challenging your opponents.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Border-Gavaskar Trophy - 2010

It was short, it was closely fought and in the end it just left you wanting for more.
India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy by winning both the Tests. However the matches were far closer than the final scoreline suggests. Australia had a real chance for victory but India played like the true world number ones. In fact it can be said that India played like the way Australia played in their dominant era. They fought till the last. In the Mohali game, when all seemed lost, Australia's permanent nemesis Laxman alongwith Ishant staged a massive rearguard to take India to victory. In the second test, a score of 206 was simply chased down at a real fast rate (that too without any contibution from Sehwag). Some of the series highlights were.
The most happening ball - when Pragyan Ojha should have been given out LBW by Billy Bowden, but wasn't. Then could have been run out by Steve Smith, who missed by a couple of inches. Instead the ball went for 4 overthrows.
Sachin Tendulkar - The master scaled newer heights and seems set to go on and on.
VVS Laxman - Limping with a bad back, yet he is there to deny Australia victory.
Cheteswar Pujara's debut - This was one debutant who was being followed with keen interest in the domestic circuit. Got out for 4 in the first innings. In the second innings was promoted and hit 72 (incidentally the same score which VVS got in the 1st Test).
Both tests played to a similar pattern. Australia batted first scored big. Then India batted and reached the Aussie total and then collapsed. In the second innings there was an Aussie collapse. And India needed a score of just over 200 to win. In the first they barely reached there. In the second it was a comfortable chase, with the young guns (Vijay & Pujara) laying the foundation for the old masters (Sachin & Dravid) to provide the finsihing touches.
Australia now have dropped to the 5th spot. And seem a bit more unsettled than before with question marks over the places of North & Hauritz.

In the end the series was too short. Should have been longer.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The World Test XI

Cricinfo has decided to pick an all time world test XI from the national all time XIs which have been picked by them. Here is my selection of the all time Test XI.
1. Sir Jack Hobbs - the highest scorer ever in first class cricket
2. Virender Sehwag - batting appears different when he is on the pitch
3. Sir Don Bradman - 99.94 enough said, also the captain of this team
4. Sachin Tendulkar - Sir Don has said & he is God
5. Sir Viv Richards - the destroyer
6. Sir Gary Sobers - the all rounder
7. Adam Gilchrist - redefined the qualities being looked in a wicketkeeper
8. Wasim Akram - the best fast bowler I have seen; toe-crunching reverse swinging yorkers & left armer also
9. Malcolm Marshall - the best from West Indies
10. Shane Warne - the greatest ball ever bowled (ask Mike Gatting)
11. Harold Larwood - the only bowler to have kept the Don under slight control.

And just for the fun of it I pick a second XI to face this team
1. Sunil Gavaskar
2. Gordon Greenidge
3. Brian Lara
4. Zaheer Abbas
5. Wally Hammond
6. Imran Khan (captain)
7. Allan Knott
8. Fred Trueman
9. Michael Holding
10. Dennis Lillee
11. Muttiah Muralidharan

A match between these two would be pretty interesting to say the least.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sir Jogi

Joginder Sharma
Player - India, Haryana, Chennai Super Kings
Winners Medal - T20 World Cup (2007), IPL (2010), Champions League (2010)

Joginder Sharma (or Sir Jogi as he is affectionately referred to) will go down in all Indian cricket fans' memories as the person who was entrusted with the job of bowling the last over in the T20 World Cup final. Misbah-ul-Haq somehow managed to get out on the 4th ball and India became the first T20 world champion. Sadly this was the last time Sir Jogi played for India (so far). He went on to represent Chennai Super Kings in the IPL(Irony - this is a team from which many players went on to represent India but Sir Jogi went out of the nationalsquad). He went on to get the IPL winners medal, though was dropped in the later stages of the tournament. And now has the Champions League winners medal (without playing a single game).
Thus Sir Jogi is now the most decorated Indian T20 player (alongwith Dhoni) with 3 winners medals (Aside - between them Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly & Kumble have none. So now we know whom to select to have a better chance of winning the tournament :P)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Mess Gets Messier

Finally the Pakistani tour of England has come to an end. With the aid of a superb century by Eoin Morgan, England beat Pakistan by 121 runs in the 5th ODI to win the series 3-2. But will anyone remember Morgan's performance. Already ball tampering allegations are coming in. Apparently TV cameras spotted Shoaib Akhtar running his thumb over the seam. It was most likely innocent. But would anyone believe that? This tour reached a series of low lower depths. Spot fixing, Suspicious scoring patterns, the needless fight between Wahab Riaz & Johnathon Trott, Ijaz Butt's allegations and now ball tampering.
Cricket was still played but will be forgotten. In fact, now everything which happens on the cricket field would be looked at with suspicion. Who is to say yesterday's Chennai SuperKings - Warriors game in the Champions League was not fixed? Both teams got the desired result of qualifying for the semis, match was played till the lost ball. I can go on and on. here. I am not saying that this game was fixed. And no reports have come about that either. But who are you going to believe when allegations of fixing come about?

P.S. Waiting for the start of some real cricketing action. The Australian tour of India.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Mess

Pakistan's trip to England started with a "Spirit of Cricket" Test Series. But the events which have taken place, "Spirit of Cricket" is the last thing which will be associated with this tour. Spot Fixing allegations, the Yasir Hameed video sting, the suspicious scoring patterns and now Ijaz Butt's claims.
Ijaz Butt accuses the English players of accepting bribes to lose the match. These claims are made on the basis of what he has heard from bookies. Now the question comes, is he in contact with bookies himself? In one statement he has ensured that ECB would think twice, maybe a million times, before having anything to do with Pakistan. Its a surprise that England havent called off the series as yet.
And what about the Pakistani cricketers. If they lose, they are supposed to deliberately underperforming, if they win, their own chairman says the opposition have been bribed.
Ideally this series which should have been remembered for some of the best fast bowling spells witnessed. (Aamir, Asif, Gul, Shoaib). But all it would be remembered for is match fixing.
There is still one more ODI left. Going by the way events are happening, there is a prety good chance of things becoming gloomier. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dan the Man

New Zealand Cricket announced the winners for the 2009-10 season in various categories. (Full list is here) And Daniel Vettori is once again the Player of the Year. Given the number of roles he performs for New Zealand cricket - Left arm spinner, middle order batsman, captain, selector, maybe even coach, NZC should start a totally new category, "the Daniel Vettori of the Year" award.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Pakistan Mess

After the latest "revelations" about the Pakistani team. (Yasir Hameed's videotape), the only conclusion I can draw is that the whole Pakistani cricket is full of a bunch of morons. What was Hameed doing talking about the match fixing to people who video taped him, just days after the Spot Fixing scandal was revealed. He talks about his own cleanliness and claims other members have fixed matches. And after the video is released, he denies all this. Apparently the entire tape was taken out of context!!! And the reporters just put words in his mouth. Not easy to believe. Add to this the various conspiracy theories suggested by PCB and the Pakistani High Commissioner. Either they take the entire world to be idiots or are a bunch of morons themselves. 
I really feel sorry for the Pakistani fans who have to support this team. This text from the cricinfo commentary for the T20 match played today sums it all.

An early shout from Andrew Miller, who is at the ground: "Just been speaking to some fans. Three Pakistanis in green wigs, and carrying banners. One of them read: "Floods killing people in Pakistan. Pakistan cricket team killing fans," and while we were speaking it was confiscated by a steward. They've been allowed to keep the other one: "We're only here because we bought our tickets two months ago"...
"The three of them paid £55 a head for their tickets. "Never again," adds Younis, the eldest of the trio. "I read in the newspaper, pick the bad apples and throw them out. I say pull the tree up at the roots, and throw the tree out. Pick a new team with a new board, new management, everything new ..."
Also feel bad for MCC and England players. ECB hosted Pakistan with a neutral series against Australia and now have to suffer this. While the England players have to play in such circumstances where the focus is definitely not on the cricket.
Here is the video of the Yasir Hameed sting.

Friday, September 3, 2010

No Balls - The ICC Acts

Post the "Spot Fixing - No Ball" scandal there has been a lot of reactions. Most of them have been on predictable lines.
The concerned players (Butt, Aamer, Asif) have been proclaiming their innocence.
PCB taking no real action.
ECB wanting the trio to be taken out of the ODI leg of the tour.
Pakistani fans protesting.
Ex-players calling for life bans if guilty.
Pakistan government officials claiming it to be a conspiracy to malign Pakistani players. And blaming it on India as well.
The trio withdrawing themselves from the rest of the tour blaming it on the ongoing "mental torture". This in itself was a good sign. At least the heavy scrutiny was gone from the remaining matches.

ICC suspending the trio till further notice. Now this was one development which was not really anticipated. ICC has never shown any inclinclination to take a firm decision on any matter till date (chucking issue,Darrel Hair controversy at Oval, Zimbabwe come immediately to the mind in this regard). However this time they have acted very firmly. Match fixing is really the biggest crime for a sports lover as it takes out the element of uncertainty from the game. ICC has acted tough in this regard. Have to applaud the actio. Hope to see such decisive actions in the future as well.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The No Ball Issue

From the Twitter World on the No Balls controversies going on.

Poor Suraj Randiv - He paid for bowling a No-Ball, while the Pakistanis are getting paid for bowling no-balls.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pakistan in a "Spot"

The roller-coaster of Pakistan cricket has reached another low. Just last week after victory in the 3rd Test against England, there were people commenting about the revival of Pakistani cricket. At Lords with England at 102/7 everything seemed to point in the right direction with the talks of a series equalling win going on. Since then everything changed. Trott & Broad's world record partnership for the 8th wicket, followed by another Pakistani collapse ad England were on top in the match. However it wasn't the match as such which depressing. It was the off-field revelations which caused the more serious damage. Allegations of spot-fixing surfaced with the arrest of a bookie. It was alleged that Asif and Aamer had been bowling no-balls deliberately while the skipper Salman Butt was also involved, as were a few other players. It was also revealed that the players had been questioned by Scotland Yard.
Worse than the loss has been the questions of the integrity and character of the players. Spot fixing is just a way to make quick money without really fixing the overall result. If involved the players are cheating the genuine cricket lovers. It is sad to see hugely talented players like Asif go from one controversy to another. And if an 18 year old like Aamir is involved in these murky underhand dealings then something is terribly wrong with the entire Pakistani setup. The worst part is these allegations surface with too high a frequency in relation to Pakistani cricket. 
When the match-fixing scandal broke out in 2000, many players were found to be involved. And every country took steps to clean up their act. Since then there hasn't been a single allegation against any other team's national squad members. But this isn't the case with Pakistan. Every few months some other scandal breaks out. 
Something is truly rotten with the state of Pakistani cricket. And it needs to be cleaned up. Soon. The cricket playing world is too small to lose Pakistan. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The No-Ball

August 16, 2010, Dambulla
India vs Sri Lanka, Micromax Cup, Game 3
India win comfortably by 6 wickets with almost 15 overs to spare and also earning a Bonus Point in the process. The game would however be remembered for the deliberate no-ball bowled by Suraj Randiv to Virender Sehwag with India needing just one run for victory. Sehwag, who was on 99, hit the ball for a six. But given the current laws of the game, the game was deemed over with the no-ball as India had got the run needed for victory. The runs were not awarded to Sehwag and he finished with 99 denying him a well deserved century.
The no-ball was deliberate. No doubts about that.The runs were not counted. However the ball was counted in Sehwag's tally. Sehwag's career tally is now missing a century, a six and has an extra ball. There was a big hue and cry over the incident, specially in the Indian media. The issue might come up again if the qualifications boil down to net run rates. The 6 runs could make a big difference then.
Now just consider this hypothetical scenario. 1 run is needed off the last ball. The batsman hits it in the air and the fielder takes a catch. However during the time the ball was in the air, the batsman have completed a run. So what happens now? Shouldn't the match be over as soon as the first run is completed. Even if the ball had crossed the boundary the batsman would only have been awarded one run. So would he given out? My opinion he is out. But the law is vague enough to keep lawyers busy for ever.Just goes to show the Law is an Ass.
P.S. It seems Sri Lanka Cricket and Suraj Randiv have apologised for the incident. But this was a golden opportunity missed. Enough outrage has been generated to call for banning cricket ties with Sri Lanka, But alas this does not seem to be happening.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August 14

August 14 is a pretty historic day, specially for Indian cricket fans, though not many may be aware of the signficance of the day. I learnt this via cricketwallah's posts on twitter yesterday only. On August 14, 2010, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar scored his first test century. Who would have thought then that 20 years down the line he is still not finished yet.
Dedicating this post to mark the 20th anniversary of the great event.

Here is the link to the highlights of that innings.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Victory & Twitter Trends

India-Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Colombo
On a 5th day pitch India chased down a tricky target quite comfortably. VVS Laxman added another Very Very Special hundred to his CV (I am considering now putting him in my all time Test XI at the no. 5 slot). Sachin played cautiously to anchor the chase while Raina finished off the match in style with a six. Also in the process cementing the no. 6 slot in the current lineup for himself.
It was a pretty good victory. And the euphoria spilled over to the Twitter world. India was as usual showing its internet population might. Laxman, VVS & Raina were in the top 10 trending topics worldwide. This did create some really funny situations. Especially with regards to Raina. Quite a few foreigners confused Suresh Raina for the Korean singer Raina. And they wondered what she had done to be trending (no birthday, boyfriend issues). And Indians were left explaing it was a cricketer.

P.S. My prayers for Indian victory answered but SRT's hundred replaced by VVS's Hundred. Not that I mind :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Perfect Test Day

Friday, August 5th, 2010
India vs Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Day 4, Colombo
Its days like today that make Test cricket such a beautiful game. And really missed watching it due to being at work. The day was worth using up a CL though (not that I used it). Followed the scores throughout and sometimes listened to the radio commentary on FM (which was pathetic). 
But what a day. The match was evenly poised with India maybe marginally ahead having taken 2 wickets on Day 3. Sri Lanka leading by 34 with 8 2nd innings wickets in hand. Indian spinners struck early and the Lankans were reduced to 87/7. India were looking set to finish off the a series levelling victory today itself. And then started the fightback. Samaraweera alongwith Malinga and Mendis foughgt back. A 50+ partnership for the 8th wicket and then a century partnership for the 9th and India were set a target of 257 to win. Not impossible but pretty difficult. And having lost the first 3 wickets for 53 its become more difficult for the Indians. Sri Lanka who were looking buried in the first session are now back on top. India now we head into 5th day needing 204 more runs with 7 wickets in hand. 
This match has certainly got a result (unless it rains) but at this stage its not easy to predict who will win. Any thing can happen. And it would be an exciting 5th day for sure. I guess we can say the pitch was perfect for a Test match. Lasted for 5 days, was helpful enough for the bowlers but did not destroy the batsmen (unlike whats happening in England).
Praying for an Indian victory tomorrow (and another SRT century as well)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Indian Test XI

Cricinfo has been picking the all time greatest Test XIs for all countries. And after an endless wait today they have started the process for picking the Indian Test XI. Here are my picks for the all time best Indian line-up for test matches.
1. Sunil Gavaskar
2. Virender Sehwag
3. Rahul Dravid
4. Sachin Tendulkar
5. Mohammed Azharuddin
6. Kapil Dev
7. Syed Kirmani
8. Anil Kumble
9. Javagal Srinath
10. Bishan Singh Bedi
11. B Chandrasekhar

This was a pretty easy selection. I guess most would agree with at least 9 spots. The only really debatable ones are Azhar & Bedi's spots.

And for the reserves (or the other shortlisted)
Openers - Vijay Merchant, Gautam Gambhir
Middle Order Batsmen - Gundappa Vishwanath, Saurav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Mohinder Amarnath
Wicketkeeper - MS Dhoni, Farokh Engineer
Allounder - Manoj Prabhakar, Vinoo Mankad, Ravi Shastri
Fast Bowlers - Zaheer Khan, Venkatesh Prasad
Spinners - Harbhajan Singh, Venkatraghavan, Prasanna, Subhash Gupte

Now for the captain.
India's best captains Nawab Pataudi Jr. & Saurav Ganguly have missed out being selected in my lineup. 8 of the 11 have captained India in Test cricket. So just going in for Azharuddin as captain. (Hardly lost in India, hardly won abroad)
Lets see what the experts come up with.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pakistan win: Humble Pie Time

Ok time to eat an humble pie (whatever it is). My prediction for the second test got wrong. Pakistan managed to win by 4 wickets against Australia, though it was far narrower than it sounds. Since the time I made the prediction, the match swung wildly from one team to another. Aamer destroyed the Aussie middle order. Then Paine & Smith consolidated, before Smith went ballistic enhancing my belief in an Australian victory (Aside: Does Steven Smith have the highest batting average for someone making his debut as no. 8 batsman). Pakistan were set a target of 180. Farhat dropped by Watson and then Butt got out. Farhat and Azhar Ali consolidated. And Pakistan seemed to be coasting to victory before Bollinger took out 2 wickets.
When play resumed 4 more Pakistani wickets fell before Gul scored the winning runs. There was acontroversial moment as well wtih Hussey claiming Kamran Akmal's catch. In the end Paksitan just about won.

Ricky Ponting is now ofiicially Australia's worst captain in England.Has lost 2 Ashes series, got knocked out in the 1st round of the T20 World Cup, lost to England in ODI series this year and has now lost a test to Pakistan (first in 15 years). Not that he is a bad player or captain. Its just a statistical anamoly.

P.S. This deserved a 3 test series. They should have dropped those 2 mindless T20s at the start of the tour and made it a 3 test series. But will the ICC listen?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Prediction Time: Pakistan-Australia, Headingley Test

MCC Spirit of Cricket Series
(At stumps Day 2, Aus 88/10, Pak 258/10, Aus 136/2)
As I write this, Australia are trailing by 34 runs at the end of Day 2 with 8 2nd innings wickets in hand. After their terrible performance in the first innings (shot out for 88), not many would have given them a chance to win. But at the end of Day 2, they are the ones who will call the shots. Pakistan are seemingly ahead at the moment. But memories of Sydney earlier this year are too fresh for anyone to make a heavy bet on them winning. After all the team currently down is Australia who have made a habit of making comebacks from seemingly hopeless situations (which is why they are a champion side). And they are facing Pakistan who define unpredictability (And Australia haven't lost a test to Pakistan in a long long time). Given the match situation, Ponting and Clarke looking in good touch and Hussey yet to come and Pakistan's self-destructing batsmen (as evident in all 3 previous innings on this tour, losing wickets in a heaps to Watson & North, Australia's 5th & 6th bowlers), I can safely predict an Australia win for this match.

P.S. I like the name of the series, far better than the other test series going on (Micromax series)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

800 and Gone

India vs Sri Lanka, 2010, 1st Test, Galle.
Muttiah Muralitharan had announced that he would be retiring after this match. The all time highest wicket taker was 8 short of 800 wickets. And as I had predicted in my previous post, he did take those 8 wickets. Pragyan Ojha, whatever he may go on to do in his cricketing career will always be remembered as Murali's 800th and last test victim. The landmark was reached in almost perfect manner possible. Ojha was the last Indian batsman dismissed. India had a very small lead which the Lankan openers reached without any trouble.
Murali's fairytale retirement marks the end of a legendary test career. No other bowler may probably even come close to his tally of wickets. (There was a column in cricinfo which showed how much better he was over other bowlers). He was one of the major reasons in making Sri Lanka the force they are now in world cricket. He had his controversial moments. The chucking allegations never went away since he was no-balled in Australia. He was labelled a chucker though tests proved otherwise. In fact his bowling probably improved after the allegations. But off the field there was never any single controversy. 
Muralitharan will not bowl in Tests ever again. The unorthodox action will not be seen nor will those bulging eyes. Time to bid adieu to a true legend of the game. That there was more interest in whether he would reach the 800 mark than if India could save the match shows the level of respect for him. In fact many Indians (yours truly included) wished for rain to help save India the Test but only after Murali had got the 2 wickets to reach to 800.
Goodbye Muralitharan.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Here We Go Again

After having spent a month watching, mostly unknown footballers in action in the World Cup, its time now to move on to a bit more familiar territory. India - Sri Lanka cricket matches. :P
So its a 3 match series between 2 teams who must be really bored of playing each other.
The first match is also going to be Muttiah Muralitharan's last test for his country. 792 wickets.Will he get to the 800 mark? I think so. Its time to salute one of the greats of the game (forget the controversial action, he is a a true LEGEND).
Series forecast - Given the state of India's bowling line-up, Sri Lanka to win 2-0.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cricket is back

The World Cup football is finally getting over tonight. It was fun while it lasted. And unlike cricket it is a pretty simple game. So simple, in fact that an octopus has been correctly predicting the match results. 
And now for the cricketing action. There is an Australian tour of Pakistan going on in England right now. There is Bangladesh tour of England also going on simultaneously. And India A and West Indies A were also playing there. So England is the place to be if you are a cricket fan. 
Bangladesh finally managed to beat England at senior international level yesterday with a 5 run victory in the 2nd ODI. Now they have victories against all the test playing countries in some format of the game. It was a bit surprising though England should have been the final frontier for them. 
In the World Cricket League Ireland continue to prove that they are currently the best Associate team.
And my team India is going to play again (:)). And they are playing a 3 match test series (:D). They are going to play Sri Lanka (again :( wtf ). Can India-Sri Lanka matches be banned?

P.S. this is the 50th post in this blog. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

June 25th

June 25th: Marks the most anniversary of the most significant event in Indian cricketing history. It was on this day 27 years ago at Lords that India defended a paltry 183 to pull off a surprising win over the (then) mighty West Indies. I was too young to remember anything about that match. And actually learnt about this great happening only in 1992 at the time of the Benson & Hedges Cup (the 5th World Cup). 
This post is to remember the players who won it for India on that day. Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Srikanth, Mohinder Amarnath, Yashpal Sharma, Kirti Azad, Sandeep Patil, Syed Kirmani, Madan Lal, Roger Binny, Balwinder Sandhu. A couple of all time greats of the game, some good & some just average players in this list but everyone will be remembered for what they achieved on that historic day.

P.S. Hoping for another victory in my lifetime soon

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cricket Fatigue

I guess its official now. I am fatigued from the overdose of cricket. And have lost track of the games. There was India-Zimbabwe T20 international going on and I had no idea about its timings. BCCI lean fast or your loyal fans will start deserting you if you overdose them with this mediocre stuff.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Horror in Zimbabwe

It may not have been in the news much but there was a tri-series being played in Zimbabwe. (Actually it still is going on, but India are out). A severely "rested" India, the unknown Zimbabwe & the too-familiar Sri Lanka. India's bunch of youngsters were no match for the other two teams, losing both games to Zimbabwe & one to Sri Lanka.
This was one series which showed that there is too much cricket being played. If there was an international series planned to put Indians off cricket, this was it. The Indian fan is truly fatigued off excessive cricket now. But the players shouldn't have been. Most of them are new and had a great chance to consolidate their future but none really grabbed the opportunity.
First a look at the positives.
Rohit Sharma got his first 2 international centuries. Virat Kohli consolidated his team position with a couple of good knocks Amongst the bowlers, Pragyan Ojha was good and Ashok Dinda was ok. Ravindra Jadeja did a decent job as an all rounder, scored some runs & bowled much better after the T20 World Cup Horror Show.
Now for the negatives
Too many people made their début. Did so many really deserve to play for the country so soon?
Suresh Raina became the first player to captain India without playing a Test match. But his captaincy wasn't up-to scratch. Forgetting to tell the umpires about the bowling powerplay was a real embarrasment. Not taking the batting powerplay when India had a chance to get a bonus point was just poor thinking. And more was expected of his batting.
Fast bowling options are pretty thin. Dinda, Vinay Kumar, Pankaj Singh, Umesh Yadav all made their ODI debuts though none really looked like taking any wickets.
Murali Vijay was found wanting as an opener.
And running between the wickets & fielding were pathetic as usual in spite of a pretty young team.

And the worse part of it is this horror show is not over. There are still 2 T20s to go against an increasingly confident looking Zimbabwe.

P.S. - Asia Cup team has been announced with Yuvraj Singh being dropped. Hope he doesn't end up the Vinod Kambli way. Good chance for Saurabh Tiwary though.
Elsewhere, South Africa whitewashed West Indies 5-0 in the ODIs.
England thrashed Bangladesh 2-0 in the test series. Tamim Iqbal, at the age of 21, can now be safely called the best Bangladeshi batsman ever.

P.P.S. - World Cup Football fever is now fully on. Don't know who will follow the Asia Cup during that.

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. 

Friday, April 30, 2010

T20 World Cup - Preview

The hyped up dust from the IPL has not settled yet. And we have another T20 tournament on our hands. The 3rd T20 World Cup in a span of less than 3 years is here. This time it is being held in the faroff West Indies. Hopefully the tournament would be much better than the ODI World Cup of 2007.
The T20 format is highly unpredictable, and this is especially true in the international context. T20 internationals are not a regular feature. So form etc are difficult to predict and the shorter the format, it becomes a more level playing field. The last two editions threw up quite a few surprises. Bangladesh (2007) & Ireland (2009) qualifying for the Super 8s; Zimbabwe beating Australia (2007); Netherlands beating England (2009); Australia getting knocked out in the first round (2009). Hopefully we'll get to see a few surprises. After all everyone loves an underdog (unless the underdog is beating up India).
Tournament Favourites
In my opinion, NONE. T20 is too unpredictable to even hazard a guess at this stage.
Teams to Watch
Afghanistan - They are living a fairytale. Their story goes beyond cricket. They are playing in the T20 World Cup despite having Affiliate status only. And they are probably every neutral fan's favorite team. India open the campaign against them (a real banana-skin encounter).
Zimbabwe - Not much should be read in the results of the warm-up games. But Zimbabwe have beaten Australia & Pakistan in the last few days. They also won a T20 against West Indies rcently. So the team should be high on confidence. Elton Chigumbura is the player to watch out.
India's Chances
Hopefully should clear group stage. And the result will be known pretty early. They take on Afghanistan on Saturday & South Africa on Sunday. Ideally should win both. After that it becomes more and more unpredictable.
There wont be many big scores. And pitches will be slow. Spinnersto dominate proceedings. Shouldnt expect too many big sixes.
Things to look Forward to
Hopefully the commentary would be saner after the madness called the IPL. No DLF Maximums, Karbonn Kamaal Catches, Cit Moments of Success or the MRF Blimp. Would be nice if the focus stays on the cricketing action.
Now back to cricket filled evenings.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The IPL Moments

The third edition of the Indian Premier League is over. This time around it will be remembered more for the off-field controversies than any on-field event. The off-field issues have left a bitter taste in the mouth and any cricket lover would be hurt by it. It has already lead to the resignation of one union minister and the removal of the IPL commissioner. There have been tax raids all over the country & worst of all there have been allegations of match-fixing as well. Parliament has been disrupted on this issue (not that it takes much for it to be disrupted). The IPL seems to have become an unholy nexus of politicians, business houses, filmstars with the main element of cricket taking a farther back seat. And we are no closer to getting any truth on the matter. Hopefully truth will be out and soon.
But this post is about the cricket. And here are some of the memories which will be associated with this year's IPL.
  • The Final & the 3rd place match - Simply because I was there to watch it.
  • Yousuf Pathan's blistering 37 ball century against MI.
  • Yuvraj Singh's reverse swept boundary to win the super over against CSK.
  • Dhoni hitting consecutive sixes to take CSK through to the semi-finals.
  • David Hussey's catch to dismiss Paul Collingwood.
  • Murali Vijay's century.
  • Praveen Kumar's hat-trick.
  • Hayden's Mongoose bat.
Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis, Suresh Raina, Saurabh Tiwary, Robin Uthappa, MS Dhoni, Pragyan Ojha, Doug Bollinger, Dale Steyn, Anil Kumble.

So this is the last post on IPL (hopefully). Now over to the T20 World Cup from tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vaastu behind Chennai's victory

If this article is to be believed, MS Dhoni's captaincy played no role in Chennai Super Kings victory in the Indian Premier League. It was all down to one Vastu Shastra expert. He decided the playing XI, the batting order , the bowling order. If these are true, then WOW. BCCI should immediately hire him as a permanent consultant to the Indian teams. And then we will become undisputed number 1 in all 3 formats of the game.