Saturday, April 27, 2013

IPL6: The Middle Overs

The IPL madness is well and truly on. Only after some 30 odd game with some 40 plus (or is that 100) still remaining some fatigue has also started creeping in. So like any ODI its time for the boring middle overs. A phase which is not interesting by itself to watch but has quite a big impact going forward. The mind maybe getting a bit IPL-numb but there are still moments thrown up which will be remembered for, if not years, at least one week going forward.

Sir Jadeja - When the Indian captain knights you, you do have to live up to the reputation by coming up with something which mere mortals cant even think of. And thats what happened when Sir Jadeja was on strike with the team needing 2 runs off the last ball. Yet in dramatic circumstances (some would say very fishy), the bowler RP Singh bowls a (big) no ball which "Sir" top edges to third man who catches it while "Sir" crosses over to other end. Result - both teams found celebrating till they realise the real consequence, that Sir Jadeja ensured his team's victory off the last ball with one ball to spare (Go figure). And he turns up next match to create a (then) record for fantasy league points from a single game. And follows it up the very next game by creating a fantasy league record for the maximum negative points from a single game. Not for nothing is he Sir Jadeja.

The Gayle Storm - How the hell does somebody score 175 runs all by himself in a T20 match. I find scoring at such a rate difficult in Stick Cricket.also. Records tumbled in the Gayle storm - Highest individual & team T20 scores, fastest senior level century in any form of the game, most sixes in a T20 innings and what not. Whichever side you support the Gayle storm would have left you stunned and you would have been left applauding at the brutality of it all. Special mention for Bhuvaneswar Kumar who went at an economy rate of under 6 in the face of Gayle storm.

Kohli Gambhir faceoff - Some things should not happen on a cricket pitch. Even though cricket is no longer a Gentleman's game, the Kohli-Gambhir faceoff was ugly. And such things SHOULD NOT happen.

Sunrisers bowling attack - A team with the weakest batting lineup is sitting pretty near the top of the table just because of its sheer bowling prowess. Steyn, Ishant, Mishra & Perera have combined together to successfully defend even the undefendable

Missing Million Dollar Baby - Still no sign of Glenn Maxwell. The team should be getting some return on investment.

The Foreign Captain Conundrum - The teams need Indian captains. A non-performing foreign captain is the biggest liability for any team, given the restriction on number of foreign players (and a very justified one also as it is an "Indian Premier League". Hence we have seen a number of captaining casualties already - Sangakkara, Ponting, Angelo Matthews, Ross Taylor are all sitting out of games. Even Cameron White is not a certainty while Adam Gilchrist is the biggest liability in Kings XI side. Only Jayawardene is justifying his own place in the playing eleven. While RCB had rightly replace Daniel Vettori with Virat Kohli prior to the start of the season

The Jumping Jepang Award for the Biggest Riser -  Aaron Finch - not picked in the original auction, then a late substitute for the injured Michael Clarke, now finds himself leading the Pune Warriors.

Team Tidbits

  • The perennial underdogs Rajasthan Royals have made another impressive start to their campaign. Hoping  that unlike last year they don't fizzle out by the end of the season.
  • Delhi Daredevils will play a key role in knocking out one of the play-off contestants during mid-May.
And hoping for more intense and proper contests as the race for the play-offs hots up.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Arbit Statistics 21 - Chris Gayle

In an IPL T20 match Chris Gayle scored 175 not out. Yes, one hundred and seventy five runs scored by one person in a single T20 innings.

End of Arbit Stat.

Amongst the many records (fastest century, highest T20 score etc) he broke during the Gayle storm, the most qualified for an Arbit Stat is
Chris Gayle has broken Hamilton Masakazda's record for most T20 career runs scored in a single ground.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The IPL Expendables XI

The Expendables - a lovely movie with a starcast comprising of veteran action stars. They may have grown old but the spirits are still young. And these veterans packed enough punch to create a movie good enough to go on to become a series on its own right.

Was watching Expendables (again) the other day and found it similar to the Indian Premier League in some respects. The IPL can be considered to be a haven for recently and should-be retired stars who are past their prime but still playing on - some successfully, some not-so-successfully. So thought of making an Expendables XI for this year's IPL. And have followed the IPL policy of limiting the number of foreign players to four.
  1. Sachin Tendulkar - How old is he? He has been going on and on since 1989 when half of the players in the IPL were not even born. And one of them (Sachin Baby) is even named after him.
  2. Ricky Ponting - Recently retired from all international cricket. And then goes on to be the top scorer of the Australian domestic first class season. Though finding it difficult to sustain in the slam bang IPL mode
  3. Rahul Dravid (C) - captain of the expendables. Leads Rajasthan Royals, a side which has a battalion of veterans (Hogg, Hodge, Tambe) and a squadron of babies (Sachin Baby, Sanju Samson)
  4. S Badrinath - not retired yet but chances of playing further international cricket is now very limited. Will take over from the likes of Wasim Jaffer & Amol Mazumdar as the next Ranji legend.
  5. Saurav Ganguly - all right, he is not in any of the squads as on date, but like Chuck Norris in Expendables 2 he might return out of nowhere and be leading one of the side. With Dada you never know.
  6. Adam Gilchrist (wk) - The wicket-keeping slot simply can not go anywhere else.
  7. Laxmi Ratan Shukla - He made his debut for India in 1999 and hasn't played since. And neither has he been close to national selection since. IPL considers him to be an uncapped player (?). But Shukla continues to toil on in Ranji trophy and IPL.
  8. Ajit Agarkar - Sir Aggie hasn't played for India for more than 5 years. One of the enigmas of cricket. His Test career highlights are (a) scored a century at Lords and (b) a six-wicket haul which lead to India winning in Adelaide. And he has been one of the best one-day bowlers for India of all time yet one of the most unsung in that regard. Still toiling on in domestic cricket.
  9. Brad Hogg - He was happily retired from all forms of cricket. Then the Big Bash happened and at the age of 42 Hogg was making his T20 international debut for Australia.
  10. Muttiah Muralitharan - Another legend who is still clinging on. His Test records are unlikely to be broken.
  11. Pravin Tambe - The most off-field inclusion in the Expendables XI. At the age of 42, Tambe gets selected for the first time to the Mumbai team. And then gets picked up by the Rajasthan Royals. Yet to make an appearance though.
This was my Expendables XI for IPL. One thing I can safely bet, they won't be pushovers in the competition.

P.S. Wondering how many of these warriors survive into IPL7.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

IPL6: Opening Shots

The IPL madness has begun. All the teams have played their opening encounters and some initial trends have begun to emerge (Now I am sounding like those election time psephologists :P). Presenting the opening shots after the first week of matches.

One of the joys of IPL is watching the recently and soon-to-be-retired stars in action. The highest wicket taker bowling to the two highest run-scorers provided one such instance. As were opening over blitz by Gilchrist and Dravid's opening game performance.

Have seriously begun to wonder about the Mumbai Indians' strategy. Now that they have got Ponting and have appointed him captain, they have to play him in every game thus also occupying a foreign player slot.  There are other questions as well.Why are they wasting Pollard by playing him so low? Why only one game for Jasprit Bumrah after a good opening performance? Why no Maxwell thus far? And is the Tendulkar-Ponting opening partnership worth any more than nostalgia value? In fact the earlier these two get out the better it seems for the teams' prospects.

Some of the Million dollar babies have seemingly gone into hiding. There has been no sign thus far of this year's big purchases - Glen Maxwell (MI), Chris Morris (CSK), Sachitra Senanayake (KKR), Kane Richardson (PWI)? Where is the 1.6 million dollar retention Saurabh Tiwary? Why do the teams make such big purchases and do not even play them?

Pune & Delhi have had bad starts while Rajasthan have been to their usual good start. But its a long tournament. And many, many more games still to be played. So not much needs to be read into this.

It was interesting to see Rajasthan Royals play 5 seamers in their home encounter. And the strategy worked to perfection. Although there was a minor issue of Dravid getting fined for the slow over rate.

There was one Super Over played. It may add to the drama but otherwise is it of no real use. Whats wrong with having a tied game in the League stage? Teams do split points when some games are abandoned due to rains so why not in case of tied games as well.

Every IPL has a tendency of throwing up an unknown name as a star for a day. Kamran Khan, Paul Valthaty, Manish Pandey immediately come to mind. And continuing this trend is Jasprit Bumrah. 3 wickets in the opening game followed by getting dropped for the next two games.

And off-the-field Dhoni has been trolling Sir Jadeja on twitter. Far better than the other non-cricketing controversies which had been going on thus far.

Now to sit back and enjoy the further episodes of the best show on prime-time TV.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

IPL6 Intro: Let the Controversies Abound

April 2, 2013 - The 2nd anniversary of the India's World Cup victory.
Also the day before the entire nation goes jumping japang, as the Sony marketing people would like us to believe. It might sound totally ridiculous but it is a bit catchy.

A new edition of IPL is here. And where there is IPL controversies can't be too far away. And this year has already had more than its fair share.

First, the non-participation of the Sri Lankan players in games in Chennai. Personally I don't believe that sports should be mixed up with politics but then that would be living in an utopian world. The politicians would like to try taking advantage of any issue. But barring the Sri Lankan players from playing in Chennai just doesn't make any sense. Previously when the IPL faced some city/association specific issue they moved out from the place e.g. shifting of games out of Hyderabad during the Telengana agitation or even shifting the entire tournament to South Africa during national elections. But somehow any issue related to CSK seems to be handled differently. This ban actually increases the home advantage for CSK. They don't have to face Malinga or Murali or Mahela or Matthews or Sanga now. Totally unfair to the other teams.

Then there is the ever-growing Facebook activism about 60,000 litres of water being wasted(?) per day on maintaining the stadiums when most of Maharastra is facing a drought situation. I agree the drought is severe and relief measures should be undertaken to counter the calamity but is IPL the problem here? In that case why just IPL, all sporting activities can be considered "wasteful" in nature. 

Now coming to the owners. There seems to be some jinx on IPL team ownership. Deccan Chronicle group has gone bankrupt and sold off the team. Vijay Mallya and Subroto Roy are both in financial and legal troubles. And Shahrukh Khan continues to remain banned from Wankhede stadium.

The opening ceremony is being conducted by one of the team owners. And there has been much-publicised publicity stunt involving Jennife Lopez's presence/absence from the opening ceremony.

Participation of English players continues to be a bone of contention between the players, the counties and ECB. After all the brouhaha last year and the re-integration talk, there can't be anything more ironic than Kevin Pietersen picking an injury while playing for England which would lead him to missing the IPL.

And all this before even the first ball has been bowled. Enough of the off-field controversies. Now lets get the on-field drama going. What am I most looking forward to? In pure cricketing terms, the performance of the Indian fast bowlers and the Jharkhand players.

But what am I most eagerly awaiting for? To find out what will be the replacement for the DLF Maximums. And whether the "marvel of technology" that was the MRF blimp will make an appearance or not?

Emjoy the IPL madness.