Sunday, February 28, 2010

The first ODI Double Century

Ok, I am pretty late in posting this. In fact 4 days late. In between India (or rather some arbit players claiming to represent India) lost the 3rd ODI vs South Africa. And today Cricket lost its post as the No. 1 game in the Indian mindset (temporarily) after India's 4-1 thrashing of Pakistan in the Hockey World Cup (more of that in another forum). But I had to write about this. Other I would have started questioning my own status as a Cricket Fanatic.
February 24, 2010 A.D. (Gwalior) A day to remember for all cricket fans. Sachin Tendulkar (who else) became the first man to score a double century in One Day International cricket (a woman has done it before, Belinda Clarke). Now this is one record which has gone to a man who deserves it the most. His ODI records (runs, centuries, matches) are such that no one would ever reach them (I am ready to bet anything on that). His genius needs no introduction (I have already written twice about him, here & here). And in his 21st year of international cricket, he is showing no signs of stopping.
It was no ordinary innings and its impact can be already seen in public space. There is already a group on Facebook named "I was alive when Sachin Tendulkar made 200". The question would be answered "What were you doing when Sachin got the double century?" (I was in Gadimoga and I had my first helicopter ride that day). I truly regret missing this innings.
And to end this post, a quote I read "I do not know if God exists, but Sachin does, and that is enough"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Afghanistan: The fairytale continues

Today Afghanistan beat USA to register their 3rd consecutive victory in the T20 World Cup qualifiers being held in Dubai & Abu Dhabi. With this they have reached the super 4s stage and are probably just one win away from playing with the big boys. Its been a tremendous journey for Hamid Hassan's team over the last couple of year. From World Cricket League 5th Division to ODI status and now this, its been truly a fairy tale. And its been a journey far away from the arc-lights. There is nothing like sporting achievement to boost a country's morale. Its truly wonderful to have Afghanistan in he news for reasons other than terrorism and war. 
My full support is with the Afghanistan cricket team. May they qualify for the T20 World Cup. And then only the world will be aware of what this team has achieved.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Another great Finale

Indians seem to have rediscovered their love for the longer version of the game. And why not? The national team became the top ranked Test team. To ensure continued command on this position, the board changed the schedule to play more tests. And to top this even the domestic matches are turning out to be more and more exciting. Barely 3 weeks after the fantastic Ranji final we have had another awesome finale to the Duleep Trophy
West Zone took on South Zone in Hyderabad in a game which was initially closed to the public to avoid the Telengana agitation. Both teams were depleted due to key players playing for the national squad and the Board President's XI. However both teams still had a fair share of fringe players in their ranks. South Zone batted first and score 400 thanks to Dinesh Karthik's 183 while Irfan Pathan took 5 wickets. West conceded a lead of almost 150 runs with only Yousuf Pathan scoring a hundred while the rest of the batting collapsed as Ganapathy picked 5 wickets. Karthik got another 150 in the second innings as South declared setting West a victory target of 536 runs. Chirag Pathak, Harshad Khadiwale & Wasim Jaffer gave West a good start. But South were still on top when the 5th wicket fell at 293. But Yousuf had other ideas. He went for the bowling in a manner only he can. He got good support from his brother Irfan, Pinal Shah and Romesh Powar as he hammered his way to an unbeaten double century and finishing the game with a six. Yousuf was dropped 5 times during the innings as he led West Zone to the highest successful fourth innings chase in first class cricket history. 
A great match to be remembered for twin centuries by Karthik & Yousuf and the highest run chase ever. It was a memorable game. But there are still points to ponder upon. It could have been better if the BCCI had not diluted its importance by selecting some key players for the Board President's XI squad. That team should have been picked entirely from the other 3 zones. This would have added to the star value of the match. If spectators were not to be allowed in the ground then shouldn't the game have been shifted elsewhere.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The World Championship of Test Cricket - Is It?

Tomorrow begins the series which would decide who amongst India and South Africa gets to keep the mace as the ICC top ranked Test team. The series has already been billed as the "World Championship of Test Cricket" by the broadcasters. Is it really? 
It should be exciting to watch. South Africa have the most favourable record amongst all visiting teams in India. India have the best opening batsmen in world cricket and the better spinners. While South Africa have the best new ball bowlers and a solid batting lineup. Still some key ingredients are missing. 
Firstly its just a 2 match series where one bad session can easily affect the series outcome. Two match series between the top ranked teams are meaningless to say the least.
Secondly India is missing its key batsmen. Dravid & Yuvraj are not there. And there are doubts over the availability of Laxman also. A weakened  batting lineup is not ideal. It just increases the pressure on the openers & Tendulkar.
Then South Africa are also in a state of turmoil. Coach and the entire selection panel have been fired. The Transformation issue keeps rearing its head every now and then. How much effect this has on the team is to be seen.
Ideally it should have been a 4-5 test series with both teams at full strength and in the best mental framework. That would have made it the true "World Championship of Test Cricket"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Ball-Biting Finish

Wonder what Shahid Afridi was upto? Caught on the cameras biting the ball with his teeth (a really disgusting thing by itself). And has been suspended on charges of ball tampering for two games.
The charges are pretty serious but the event itself is really, really comical. And Afridi's explanations for his actions were, well, truly out of this world. (He claimed to have been sniffing the ball initially). But with cameras all around (27 of them, from what I have heard) there was going to be no escape. He admitted trying to tamper the ball in a desperate attempt to help Pakistan win the 5th ODI against Australia(phew). One must say that his attempts were innovative. Though it left everyone dazed and searching for explanations.
Afridi's actions did provide good fodder for headline makers & tweeple. A few sample ones follow
"Why will Mike Tyson lose to Shahid Afridi ? Coz Mike Tyson bites ears Shahid Afridi bites BALLS"
"Shahid Afridi has been signed up for Vicco Vajradanti Ads"
"what starwars character are you? Ans : Chewbacca"
"Oh well, after all those one-sided matches, Pakistan finally managed a ball-biting finish"
"Q: "Who bit this cricket ball? " A: "Shayad Afridi"
"The Pakistan team continues to struggle from teething troubles"

Cricket really is a funny game. Something bizzare and unseen can always happen.