Saturday, March 31, 2007

Deja Vu

Banglas created the biggest upset in the history of ODIs when they defeated the World Champions in 2005.

If they do it again, it will be the cream on top of the thrilling world cup cake we have had so far!

Of course, Australians had played meekly in that game with Gilchrist falling for a duck and Ponting scoring only 1 off 16 balls he faced(Can you believe it?) - Aussie attack was led by Kasprowitz and Gillespie and admittedly, it was not the best team they could have played. Symonds was punished and dropped for drinking a lot earlier night and Lee was injured. Still, Aussies managed a 249 which was tough for any opposition considering Aussie defense.
Mohd Ashraful, will he ever forget that match in his whole life??? Who will?
He scored a maiden century to take his team to unbelievable victory!!!

If there was a time that I liked Ponting, it was here when he said after the match "This is probably one of the biggest upsets in the history of cricket, and my worst defeat as captain."

If only Indians were so open in admitting their own failures as players and captains, we would have respected them more.

Go Bangladesh, Go!!! Feel the "Deja Vu!"

Friday, March 30, 2007

England vs Ireland!

(Updates below)
While the Aussies dominated the West Indies team, SL and SA fought tooth and nail in the first matches of Super 8.

We now come to a low-key England vurses a highly motivated Ireland match what promises to be a No-Pushover match.

The Irish O'Brians will fight it out against the Collingwoods and Pietersons.

England don't look too good in their batting or bowling, and to call them inconsistent will be an understatement.

Are we in for another upset??? Or will the English team get its act together?

Update 1: England managed a slightly worrying victory over a determined Ireland. Things do NOT look for England and it looks like we will have a new European Champion soon. Go Ireland!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Malinga Almost Pulls It Off!

Oh Man, what a match !!!! It was a match of nerves towards the end!!!

Not many heart patients would have survived this one. The best match of the tournament so far !!!

At one point in time, only 4 runs were required by SA with 8 overs & 5 wickets in hand and all of a sudden Lasith Malinga takes 4 wickets in 4 balls!!!
Simply unbelievable stuff!!!
Malinga was 4 -0-37-0 at one time, then 7.4-0-49-0 and suddenly his figures looked as 8.2 -0-49-4!

SA were under tremendous pressure all of a sudden with only 1 wicket remaining and 3 runs required in 3 more overs !!! And Lasith Malinga and Chaminda Vaas were bowling nothing but poison at the speed of 140+ at the batsmen!!!

Misses, appeals and more misses and more appeals followed.

A scrappy and chancy maiden by Vaas and it was all getting too close to breathe.

And then Malinga comes in to bowl the 49th over and an edge past second slip secures the victory for SA....

phew... the 'Chokers' managed not to choke this time, but what a hum-dinger of a match!!!!!

Hats off to the fighting spirit of the Lankans and to the stoic and resolute effort by Kallis! He was a villain against the Aussies, but a true hero here! Malinga almost stole the thunder under Kallis's feet, but it was not to be.

The blame for defeat should be taken by Mahela for bringing Murali late and then for replacing him with other bowlers mid-way through his magical spells.

But Sri Lankans can only hold their heads high after the defeat for their amazing and unbelievable fight!!!

MoM was the unlikely Charl Langeveldt who wonderfully bowled in the morning to take 5 SL wickets. It could very well have been Lasith Malinga had he taken one more wicket today...
But ifs and buts have no meaning in the life, do they?

The point to ponder over is that with stalwarts like Pollock, Ntini, Murali, Vaas, Jayasuriya, Sangakarra, Kallis, Smith, Gibbs etc., who would have thought that a Malinga / Langeveldt could have been the possible man of the match candidate???

Take a bow, spirit of the game!

Is Mahela Jayawardhane Deaf?

(Updates below)

No really, is he?

South Africa have raced away to 76/1 from just 14 overs attempting to win over a score of measly 209 runs.

Everyone knows that Murali's magic alone can save SL from a certain loss.

I am asking him to bowl Muralidharan.
Commentrators are asking him to bowl Muralidharan.
The whole stadium is asking him to bowl Muralidharan.
The whole Sri Lanka is asking him to bowl Muralidharan.

But Mahela persists with Malinga for 15th over and gets punished for 11 runs more. 87/1 in 15!!!

Mahela cannot hear or what? Or is he afraid that his most potent weapon will be hit for sixes in the first 15 overs???

C'mon! Give the great man some respect he deserves, Mahela.

OK, don't give him respect, just give him the damn ball, will ya?

Update 1: On second ball of his second over Murali gets marauding Smith out for 59 off 65 balls! Vindication comes often accompanied by joy! :-)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What A Day at the WC

Wow! Australia playing West Indies and South Africa playing Sri Lanka today!!!! It is going to be one hell of a day for cricket fans.

By the looks of it, going by the current progress, World no.1 and 2 are clearly dominating their opponents and the opponents are not putting up the expected fight.

But still, with 3 wickets of SL and WI gone, the fight is now left to Sangakarra/Silva and Lara/Sarwan against SA and Aussies respectively !

In my view, the only man who can stop South Africans from beating Sri Lanka is going to be Murali. And by the looks of it , Aussies will win this one without much of a fight from WI.
But as they say, "it's not all over, till it's all over!"

Let us see whether results are as predicted, or the game springs another surprise on us!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Matthew Hayden

What a Fantabulllastistic Player!

He surely is lighting up the World Cup 2007 like Sachin Tendulkar did in 2003!

Already 2 back-to-back record breaking tremendous centuries in this world cup -the one which promises to be the last one - for the 35 years old.

He debuted for Australia in 1993-94, but was not on a major cricketing radar till the path-breaking tour of India where he amassed a record-breaking 549 runs in 3 match series! (Indian bowlers have always had this knack of getting the other sides' batsmen into form, but that topic will be dealt separately) - And he went on and on breaking all kinds of records, proving that it was not a flash in the pan!

He broke Lara's record of maximum runs in test cricket by hitting 380, for a while, till the great Lara took it back again! He held the maximum runs scored by Australian in a year, till Ponting took it over from him.

But here is a man, who has 20 test centuries from just 55 matches!

A big man, who plays big innings and in big matches!

Raising a toast to this Big Man of Cricket - Will he be the World Cup Player of 2007?

India: What Next?

What next????

The Heads Must Roll!

For last 4 years, every failure faced by Indian team was justified in the name of World Cup 2007. They said "Don't worry about these losses, these are experiments, our only aim is victory in WC 2007!" And we, quintessential fools that we are, believed in it!

Now that the ultimate aim has gone down the Caribbean drains, it is time to roll some heads!

Time for these to go is NOW:
Greg Chapell (Resign as coach)
Rahul Dravid (Resign as captain, stay in Test Team)
Sachin Tendulkar (Resign from the game)
Sourav Ganguly (Resign from the game)
Anil Kumble (Resign from ODIs)
Mahendra Singh Dhoni(Keep him out for some time and get Kartik in)
Harbhajan Singh (Sack him!)
Virender Sehwag (Keep him on the fence, keep a sword hanging over his head)

Let us take some harsh decisions today, let us not sit on legacy of these one-time great players, that legacy doesn't help us anymore in the games that we play next!

Let us not think who can fill in Sachin Tendulkar's shoes? Give someone a chance at least!

Big gains come with big risks!

Let us re-build our cricket, our system, our selections - let us make Indian cricket the competitive one . The one that Aussies would like to compete with!
(Image Source: Cricinfo)


All right, the Super 8 league starts on 27th March with hosts WI taking on Champions Australia.

A preview of any match involving Australia will always have one question: Does the other team have any chance of beating the Aussies?

Aussies are the eternal favourites for last decade or so and are dominating the game as much as the hosts did in 1970's. While the former have a formidable and awe-inspiring batting attack, the latter had a fearsome bowling attack back then.

The questions that trouble all the coaches worldwide must be :

  • What is it with the Aussies that keeps them ticking without any visible end in sight?
  • Why do we always see Aussies winning and winning and winning despite 1-2 losses mid way?
  • Why does their confidence never go below the danger mark?
  • What do they do so differently?
Sometimes I wish I could just go and sit in their locker room, quietly in a corner, just before a match, and listen to what inspires them most!

I had the fortune of attending a speech of John Buchanan one day and he simply had one answer - talent (skill) +hard work+discipline+self-belief!

"What!!! No magic? No no Sir, there must be some hidden formula that you use for these Gauls, you must tell us, you Getafix!" I remember saying to myself!

Just a simple formula to listen to / read. But I guess an extremely difficult one to implement!!!

One of the many answers to these questions, I have come to believe, is that the Australians know the tact of playing fearlessly. They do not know fear. No fear of being hit, no fear of being bowled a bouncer, no fear of physical hurt and most importantly, no fear of failure!

These guys are simply not afraid of anything! To make matters worse, their confidence in the field has touched the sky and so has their arrogance and cockiness - and still they get away with it!!! The reason is, well, they perform on the field!

They BELIEVE that they are the best, and despite losing to SA after making 434, their belief and confidence has not been dented by an inch!

Just when I had hopes of seeing Aussies as human as other teams just after Steve Waugh retired, the 'bad boy' of cricket has taken them one notch up!

Thank you Australia, for giving us the cricket that fans deserve to watch! Thank you!
(Image Source: Google Images)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Bangladesh Makes It to Super 8!

Well done, Bravo, congrats !

I am glad that Bangladesh finally make the cut that everybody expected them to - they are probably as happy as Indians were in 1983!

Indians are reacting in different ways - some are despondent, some are angry and some are simply not believing it still! However, it is heartening to see that people have not lost their sense of humour! There are some nice sms / mails doing the round. One which I liked the best was "Blame it all on Indira Gandhi! Had she not created Bangladesh in the first place, we would have been in Super 8 by now!"


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Kenya Don't Make It This Time!

Last WC, kenya surprised everyone by reaching the semi finals! This time, it is the chance of Ireland or Bangladesh(?)!

Kenya were beaten comfortably by England and hence Kenya this year are out of the World Cup!

Unfortunately, as in other countries, Kenya's cricket has been politicized too and we end up only with the extremely talented Steve Tikolo and reasonably good Thomas Odoyo as the only 2 deserving players in the whole team- I never thought of Ravendru Shah as anything but ordinary.

I wish they had some good players and Tikolo would have had a team which could easily beat England, but that was not so and England have on a clinical performance this time, reached the Super 8!

The Super 7 teams for SUpper 8 stage are ready and only one is still awaited - pending the match of Bangladesh vs Bermuda. I sincerely hope that Bangladesh makes it today! I do not want the undeserving Indians to make it to the Super 8!

Aussies Remain Favourites!

The way they batted SA out of the match really underlines the aggressive nature of Australian Cricket.

Matthew Hayden created the world cup record for the fastest century, Ponting missed another century, Clarke showed why he is good in both forms of the match, Gilly provided the momentum and Symonds did not need to do anything at all!

Look at the solidity in the team.

When people like Waughs, Bevan, Warne left the scene, we thought that these Aussies will now no longer be the invincibles and that we had some kind of justice in the cricketing world finally!

But look at them! While their bowling remains a cause of concern (McGrath is an old shadow of himself), it is supported by some amazing fielding and they simply bat everybody out of the game!

They are supremely confident of their abilities and their status in world cricket.
This confidence rubs on the newcomers like Shaun Tait, Watson etc and you have a world beating team once again - the credit for this, must go to Ricky Ponting, who has led from the front by batting like he was on song for almost 2 years now !!! Not my favourite player, but he always looks like the one who will break Tendulkar's records for maximum centuries in ODI's today.

And what a match it was yesterday!

Smith led from front to overcome Aussies once again and at one stage they were unbelievably 160 from 21 overs !!!! However, pressure soon got to them as wickets started falling one after other and as Kallis batted infuriatingly slowly (a-la-Dravid), and Gibbs (sent down the order for some stupid reason) perished trying to hit the Aussies and pressure out of the grounds. Eventually the result went where it deserved - to the Aussies! But the viewers enjoyed the game of cricket!!!

I may not be a great fan of their humility, but let me salute their One Day Cricket Winning Spirit!!!

(Image Courtesy: Cricinfo)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Indian Batting against SL: Post Mortem

I do not do post mortems of imaginary things.

Indian batting did not exist today.

"Spineless" is the only word.

Sachin Tendulkar, pack up.

Pack up now or else be ready to lose whatever little respect I still have for you.
(Image Source: Cricinfo)

It's All Over!

India Are Out of The World Cup! :-(

Sri Lanka beat India by 69 runs!

When it mattered most, the highly acclaimed Indian batting stuttered, faltered and failed miserably!

A post-mortem of this (yet another) humiliating batting display by Indians will be posted on this blog soon, immediately after the emotions dry out!

Indian Bolwing : A Post Mortem

I think India bowled reasonable well today, and the credit does go to bowlers and to the captain for some good and imaginative bowling changes (well done, Dravid!)

Here is what I will give the bowlers on a scale of 1-10 (1-worst, 10 best)

Zaheer Khan:
Bowling Figures: 10-0-49-2
My Marks: 7.5/10
My Remarks: Was very good in patches, clearly the best Indian seamer for this tour, more was expected from him.

Ajit Agarkar:
Bowling Figures: 8-1-33-1
My Marks: 8.5/10
My Remarks: Clearly the best bowler on the day. Almost got Jayasuriya the first ball he bowled and then onwards kept a great strangle hold on the Lankans. And it is a real rarity in Indian cricket that after the end of 50 overs, the man who gave the least RPO is Ajit Agarkar!

Munaf Patel:
Bowling Figures: 10-1-46-1
My Marks: 7.25/10
My Remarks: Great talent, less experience. Good Job overall.

Harbhajan Singh:
Bowling Figures: 10-0-53-0
My Marks: 2/10
My Remarks: Was the worst bowler for India by far. The only bowler to go wicketless and almost highest RPO. At least now he should be dropped for future games (WC or no WC!)

Sourav Ganguly:
Bowling Figures: 4-0-22-1
My Marks: 8.5/10
My Remarks: Did more than expected, took out the dangerous Sangakarra.Well done.

Sachin Tendulkar:
Bowling Figures: 8-0-40-1
My Marks: 8.5/10
My Remarks: Was very good and bowled almost all varieties. Kept the pressure on and took out Tharanga whom no one else could get out! Well done.

Friday, March 23, 2007

India Team Composition for SL Match

Here is my India team for all-important SL Match:

Sauav Ganguly

Robin Uthappa

Virendrer Sehwag

Sachin Tendulkar

Rahul Dravid

Yuvraj Singh

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Irfan Pathan

Zaheer Khan

Munaf Patel

Anil Kumble

I am giving another chance to Uthappa and to Sehwag.

No more chances to Bhajji and no Agarkar. All they get on my blog is pictures.

And yes, my dear Rahul, if Jayasuriya is on fire, please immediately hand the ball over to Tendulkar. And this is the must-win match, no more defensive stuff , OK? Go for the kill, man!

All the best!!!

India vs Sri Lanka - A Perspective!

Friday, March 23rd 2007 - It is going to be a Big Day as it will host one of the most awaited matches in recent times - a Do-Or-Die match for India against the in-form Lankans in the World Cup!

Predictions are easy to make and do not serve much purpose except entertainment. So let us keep them aside (for a while) and talk about some ground realities.

Sri Lankans suddenly appear very solid after their brilliant all round performance against Bangladesh.

Jayasuriya is in form, Tharanga is a awaiting a big innings, Jayawardhane is leading from front, Sangakkara is one of the best keepers in the world today, Silva reminds people of Aravinda, Russel Arnold is a live wire while batting and fielding, Mahroof and Malinga are swinging it well, Vaas and Murali are the potent weapons against Indians at all times. And there is no place for Marvan Atapattu!

Whew.....sounds tough to beat them after being beaten by Bangladesh, doesn't it?

Coming to Indian side, the team lacks a leader who binds them together and leads from front. The team must be low on confidence after the Bangla beating. Sehwag has been in the worst slumps of his career, Tendulkar, ditto. Uthappa has not crossed double figures in the world cup, Dravid has not done anything spectacular in this world cup. Kumble is a great bowler but he has not been able to take a single SL wicket in last 4 matches they played! Agarkar is the 'hit me' boy against Jayasuriya and other left handers, Ganguly, Yuvraj and Dhoni are the only saving graces for this Indian team which suddenly looks so fragile! But none of these three have been match winners in recent past!

Damn! It sounds like it will be tougher and tougher as we read through these passages, doesn't it?

If Bangladesh would have thought the same way before the match against India, they would have been despondent even before the match!

So, let us not forget that this is the One Day International in the game of cricket, where you can take nothing for certain!

Yesterdays don't matter and no one knows about tomorrow. It is only today that matters - The day of match when every prediction can go topsy-turvy, every wise man can look like a fool - such are the glorious uncertainties of this wonderful game!

So, the simple formula, as everyone knows is - the team which plays better on the day will win. Both the teams have talent, experience, skills to win against any other country.

It can be one performance which can turn the fortunes of a nation around! Whose performance will it be?

(Image Source: Google Images)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Best Thing About World Cup

The best thing about World Cup is that practically everyday you have the game going on!

The heat is always ON.

I am loving it! :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Maximum Number of Sixes In An Innings!

This is one record which has come so close to be broken in this world cup - The maximum number of sixes in an innings!
The record was, till now, held by Ricky Ponting for 8 sixes in the last world cup.

It is now jointly held by a 25 years old promising Pakistan opener Imran Nazir! Nazir hit 8 sixes today in a brilliant batting display against Zimbabwe. That would have brought something to smile about for Pakistan fans.

And so far there are already 4 instances of 7 sixes in an innings:
Jayasuriya against Bangladesh (today)
Yuvraj against Bermuda
Hodge against Netherlands
Gibbs against Netherlands

This record is so close to be broken, yet so far!

I am hoping it will be broken soon and keeping my (six) fingers crossed! :-)

(Image Courtesy : Channel 4)

I Hope Not...

(source of Image: E mail forward)

Woolmer, Inzy and Pakistan

When we thought it could not get any worse, suddenly there are suspicions about Bob Woolmer's deaths. This is nadir of fanaticism in cricket, if at all it is proved to be a foul-play. And this happening for a good person like Bob, it just makes the situation much more sad.

In another interesting piece we are enlightened by the way cricket is politicized in Pakistan!

And all along, we thought Inzy was "The Nice Guy" of Pakistan cricket!

Pakistan cricket never stops to amaze me!

And now, please let this not happen! We dont want Pakistan cricket to go further drown the drain by giving it in hands of such power hungry radical politicians!

I just hope that they get their act together soon. It will serve the nation, the game, and its future much better if they stop all the politics around cricket in Pakistan.

Such abundance of talent and then, such radical and corrupt politicization of the beautiful game!


Jayasurya's Not Old Yet!

While I thought Sanath was old now, he has proved me wrong, and I am glad about it.

He flayed the same Bangladesh attack which cramped the Indians, and he hit 109 of raced to 87 balls with 7 sixes !

These are the times when I miss being at the stadium so much!

What Is It With The Poms?

Can someone please remind the England players and coaches that it was their country which has invented this glorious game?

Can someone please remind them of the fact that cricket is NOT football and it is not about drinking beer in the pub with mates, and having fun while enjoying the Premier League?


Or is it too late?
(Image Source: Google Images)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

India - What Next?

India have beaten Bermuda and won with the biggest margin of victory ever!

However, the Bermudians sweated it out and it took India almost 44 overs to get them all out.

Ajit Agarkar has always been an elusive enigma and although he picked up 3 late wickets, I do not see any match winner in him and he needs to go before the next match against SL - Pathan should be brought in in his place. Especially against the left handers like Jayasuriya, we need Pathan and we definitely do not not need Hit-Me Agarkar.

Kumble has to play, he is the only spinner India needs to go in playing 11 with. No Harbhajan Singh please.

With Sehwag hitting a wonderful century, winning the MoM and gaining in confidence, it is now difficult to sack him. Also, another interesting fact is that Sehwag has always done well against Sri Lankans and it may play on their minds. So I might actually make a U turn and say that we can keep Sehwag! I think we can bat him down the order as well.

I would recommend replacing Agarkar with Pathan and no other changes in the team.

This group has been an amazing group and things are getting more and more interesting. With three more matches to go, nothing can be taken for granted. One nation's future will depend on how the other 2 nations play against each other. Such a shame! When One Day cricket started, no one would have thought of this term 'NRR'! But now, it is a term which will decide the destiny of an entire nation!

Monday, March 19, 2007

India Posts a Mountain!

In an exhilarating batting display, almost all Indian batsmen murdered the bowling attack of Bermuda to post a mammoth 413 / 5.

The highlights:

1) India have now scored the highest total in the World Cup history. A WC record!
2) Indian batsmen equalled the sixes record of SA by scoring 18 sixes in the innings
3) More importantly than anything else, Viru was back! A magnificient 114 of just 87 delieveries! Was this just a flash in the pan? Let us wait, watch and hope not.
4) Yuvraj, for the last 1 and 1/2 years has been the only talking point of India's ODI batting and today he showed why. He launched in an all out outstanding attack on the hapless bowlers clamouring 7 sixes and 4 fours.
5) SRT is not finished, and all fans must heave a sigh of relief and break into a genuine smile.
6) Hold on, it is still not over yet, Indians must get Bermuda all out sooner, let us see if the Indian bowlers can match what the batsmen did today.

Virender Sehwag

The team for India's all important match against Bermuda is announced and Virender Sehwag has managed to keep his place in the side - yet again!!! What confidence Rahul Dravid must have in him! I will be the very happy if this chance given by Dravid clicks and Viru is back in form.

Let us analyze this curious case of a man who is no where near his form.

There are 3 possibilities with this selection now.
Possibility 1) Sehwag flops and is out for under 10.
Possibility 2) Sehwag starts nervously, bats fluently at times, but gets out in his 30s.
Possibility 3) Sehwag goes on and hits a wonderful century with fluent shots all around the wicket.

IMHO, none of the above possibilities can still instill the confidence one requires for the next most critical match against the likes of Vaas and Malinga. With the 3rd possibility, it can make him think that he is back in form, but another duck/low score in the next important match against SL and we are back to square one and worse off as a team.

Admittedly, pressure must be immense on Sehwag, and very few people have the capability to bat out of the rut they find themselves in.

Keeping my fingers crossed! I just thank my stars that I am not Virender Sehwag.

Another dramatic day at the World Cup!

In a day of reactions and pressures that come with shock defeats:

1) Bob Woolmer collapsed and died in his hotel room hours after Pakistan's shocking elimination from the World Cup! Sad news since Woolmer was the one who brough professionalism in this game.

2) Inzamam has resigned from One Day Internationals and will play his last ODI against Zimbabwe on 21st March!

3) Some people in Kolkatta did what they do best in such circumstances!

4) All former players in Pakistan are ashamed of this defeat. It is always easy to point a finger at others after you retire, isnt it? No one is bothered about how they played in those days.

However, for some people, apparently, a world cup defeat doesnt matter much:

Adrew Flintoff was ripped off his vice-captaincy after partying all night with his team mates and almost drowning after this incident.

In other news, Australia expectedly trounced Netherlands in a Hogg and Hodge show. Hodge hit 7 sixes in the match while Hogg took 4 last wickets. In my opinion, when SYmonds returns to the squad, it is Clarke who should make way for him and not Hodge. Looks like Australia are goingto win this world cup with the awesome talent and current form in their line ups. Gilchrist firing away, Ponting in form, Hayden being Hayden, followed by Clarke / Symonds, Hodge, Hussey....what gets better than this? And everyone is getting runs! Out of the 5 highest run getters this WC so far, 3 are Australians!! They are sure stronger to win this cup now than they were when it started!

England finally managed a scrappy win against Canada, and their Man Friday Collingwood came good once again.

Let us wait tomorrow to see whether India can do what is needed and whether Zimbabwe gives any scare to West Indies.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pakistan Crash Out!

(Updates below)
Can you believe it?

While the Bangla tigers slaughtered Indian mice, the hitherto unknown Irish team, on St Patrick's day, simply eliminated Pakistan from the World Cup 2007!!!

On this given day, if Bermuda were to play against Australia, who knows what might have happened?

Whew....What a day!

Hats off to the Irish and Bangla teams for throwing this world cup wide open!!!

Update 1: Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room hours after the shocking elimination of Pakistan. A sad day indeed for Pakistan.

(Image Source: Cricinfo)

Take-aways for India

Yes, we all know that we all can have a bad day at office. So did the Indian team.

However, after the Bangladesh loss, there are certain definitive take-aways for India which cannot be ignored anymore. They are as follows:

1) Drop Sehwag - He can't be given any more chances. And he is not a bowler. Please.

2) Drop Agarkar - He is not going to win any match for you.

3) Learn to be aggressive in batting - Every batsman should realize that he is there to score the runs, to hit the ball coming his way, not to linger around, increasing confidence and accuracy of bowlers. - Almost all batsmen, barring Yuvraj, failed in doing this.

4) Learn to be aggressive when you are fielding, especially when you are defending a very small total. I was appalled to see that chasing 191, when Bangladesh were at 115/3 after 27 overs when Tendulkar was bowling, Dravid was employing a defensive field with no slips, no forward short leg, no one near the basman!!! How can u pressurize a batsman into committing a mistake? I think Dravid needs to learn that as a captain, you have to be aggressive , try 1000 new things to make batsman commit a mistake, especially when you don't have any match winning bowlers. OK, you may still lose, but you have to at least make an attempt to try and do something different! Dravid always disappoints me with this attitude. Dravid must either step down or learn from Graeme Smith how to be a Captain.

5) Chappell is another big disappointment, if you cannot instill these qualities in the captain and the team, you are a failure, Greg.

6) Drop Bhajji - I always prefer Kumble to Bhajji just for the sheer commitment and experience he has, and he can win a match for you without turning a ball.

7) Ask Sachin to shape up or sit out. My one time biggest Idol, has been my biggest bggest disappointment for last 2 +years.

8) Catches win matches. Dropped catches lose matches! Bermuda knows this, India doesn't?

C'mon guys, this is the World Cup! You can not be given any more chances - you have to play to Win. Nothing else will do.

(Image Courtesy: Google Images)

A Bangladesh Victory in the WC !!

Yes, the fat lady has sung.

Bangladesh have defeated India by 5 wickets in a clinical performance.

It is a wonderful victory for Bangladesh.

The win seems wonderful because it is unexpected and it brings joy to a nation starved of 'victories' for years.

And it makes heroes out of ordinary lives led otherwise.

Just like it did for India in 1983.

This day belongs to Bangladesh players.

Take a bow!
(Image Courtesy: Rediff)

What a Day !!!

Bangladesh got India all out for 191!!!

And if this is not enough, Ireland got Pakistan all out for a paltry 132!!!

What a day for World Cricket, I am loving it!

Extremely pathetic batting display by India and Pakistan, but at the same time, some amazing bowling by Mortaza for B'desh (4 wickets) and Botha for Ireland. Botha, in particular had outstanding figures of 8-4-5-2!!!

And these performances will go some length the way cricket is played worldwide.

To top this all, Bangladesh are sitting pretty against India by being 109/3 (thanks to a wonderful battind display by 17 years old Tamim Iqbal who hit a 51 ball 50), while Pakistan are fighting it out and have already taken 2 wickets for 26 runs so far. If Pakistan lose this one, they will most certainly be eliminated from the WC!!!

Let us wait for the results as it is never really over till the fat lady sings!

Mogambo Khush Hua!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bagladesh Are On a Roll!

They are having a dream run, aren't they?

It is 17 overs into India's batting and they have removed Sehwag, Uthappa and Tendulkar already. India are at 51/3!!!

And this is apart from the fact that there were numerous other appeals which were turned down and so many times the bowl beat the ball!

Awesome stuff from Bangladeshis and Horrific display by Indians!!!

I, for one, refuse to believe / blame pitch for everything. I believe that often, a bowler bowls as good as the batsman allows him to be.

In this case, we started off with some lovely deliveries from Mortaza and then Ganguly gave another maiden. All these slow runs and wickets falling at other end will eventually tighten the noose around batting line up - is something that an ordinary cricket fan like me understands - wonder why this thought doesnt cross the great cricketing brains that Indians have!

Of those who are remaining, Ganguly is batting slower than Dravid ever batted and Dravid is batting like Dravid does in Test Cricket.

My god, and this is the batting display against Bangladesh, you can imagine what happens to Indians when Ntini runs in to bowl or when they face McGrath and Bond!

Wonderful performance by new ball bowlers of Bangladesh, hats off to them!!!

Unless someone shows guts to hold the bull by horns by hitting them out of boundary, this will end up being another pathetic display by Indians.

A Preview: India vs Bangladesh

While logic, statistics and history suggest that India will streamroll Bangladesh, Cricket, the glorious game, is a game played beyond these factors.

It is a game played also in the minds - the minds of Indian players will be weighed down by a billion expectations and their bodies will be tested by 11 determined Bangla cricketers.

Bangladesh, being the underdogs, have nothing to lose. In India, on the other hand, hell will break loose if they lose against Bangladesh.

Banglas will be on a high confidence cloud after defeating New Zealand just 10 days ago. They have been the most improved side from the minnows. Habibul Bashar, Mohd Ashraful, Mohd Rafique and Mortaza are extremely capable and talented bunch of players - and well experienced by now. Their openers batted well against the Kiwis too.

They have beaten India before, and they can do it again!

India has apparently decided the playing 11 but Dravid refused to divulge the names.

Here is whom I would have played in my list of 11 tomorrow, if I were Dravid:
Robin Uthappa, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Anil Kumble, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Ajit Agarkar.

But I am not Dravid and I think they might choose Sehwag over Uthappa and Bhajji over Kumble. I disapprove of both these moves strongly, if they take place.

Whatever it is, 1 billion and many more sets of eyes will be glued tomorrow to witness India and Bangladesh's first matches in this World Cup.

May the team that plays better cricket tomorrow, win!!!

South Africans Have A Ball With The Bat!!!

If you thought you saw it all when Gibbs smashed the Dutch all around, think again!

Kallis and Boucher together continued and worsened the barbarbarbarbarbarian savage attack on the Dutch in such a way that :

1) South Africa showered the maximum number of sixes in an ODI - 18 sixes (beating Sri Lanka's 14 against Kenya)
2) Boucher hit the fastest fifty in the World Cup (21 balls) beating that of Lara (23 balls against Canada)
3) Herschelle Gibbs became the first batsman to hit 6 sixes in an over in a ODI.
4) South Africa became the team with highest run rate in one completed first innings by scoring 353/3 off 40 overs! (8.82) Disclaimer- this one might be debatable.

Some day at the World Cup!!! Wow!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Gibbs Smashes Six Sixes in an over!!!

Herschelle Gibbs has done it!!!
He has hit six sixes in one over of DLS van Bunge of Netherlands!!!

Gibbs was 32 from 30 balls before the over and 68 from 36 balls after the over!!! Wow!

He is the only person to hit 6 sixes in one over in an ODI!!!

What an amazing feat - and to achieve it in the World Cup - that's the icing on the cake!

Take a Bow, Herschelle Gibbs!
(Image Courtesy: Google Images)

England vs NZ

(Updates below)
England have been, for long, a side which plays cricket, um...with a stiff upper lip.
This image has changed now with Flintoffs, Pietersons and Collingwoods - (3 lions on the logo shown beside) Yes, these lions do play to win and what a win it is when they win against the Australians.

New Zealand, on the other hand, are always seen as a fighting team, which, sadly, hasn't reached the finals of world cup yet. They too, are fresh from their victory over Australia and loss against Bangladesh( can it get any more ironic?)

So it will be a treat to watch NZ vs England.

Latest: England 34/2 (11.4 ov) with Vaughan and Pieterson still at crease. Kiwi bowlers have bowled beautifully with Franklin and Oram picking wickets and Bond giving away only 10 runs from his 6 overs.

My money in a match involving England, is always on the other side. Not because I dislike the English team or anything but I think they do not have in them enough talent and an agressive spirit to win a match - Go ahead and prove me wrong, mates!

Update 1: England were 209 /7 in 50 overs. However, the Queen's men are unexpectedly showing a fighting spirit and the kiwis have lost their 4th wicket in 16th over when the score is at 75! And guess what? Monty had been introduced to break the 50+ partnership and got the wicket of ever-dangerous McMilan on his only second ball.

Update 2: NZ won comfortably and clinically despite losing 3 wickets under 20. Well done, Kiwis! I like it when I am proved right. :-)

The Joke Is No More On The Irish!

Ireland have provided the impetus this world cup needed!

And so, I am not going to laugh at any Irish jokes cracked by Mihir anymore.

What a thriller it was - a third tie in the history of WC and that too featuring Ireland!

I wish I was in India watching the thrillers with all of you - Unfortunately, I am in the US for a couple of months and cannot watch matches on the net from office!!! So I heavily rely on the websites to be updated on a continuous basis.
I was travelling yesterday and missed most of the action in this match! :-(

But I am sure it would have thrilled all those who were lucky and persistent to watch it till the end.

The match has certainly buoyed spirits of the Irish and the Irish Captain Johnston even went on to say " Who knows what might happen against Pakistan!" No comments on that one, Johnston - for if there is one team in world cricket, about which no one ever knows what might happen against them, it is Pakistan.

But this post is about Ireland and about the way they played. Well done, Mates!

For me, World Cup is a cup of Joy.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Player of the Tournament

So far, the player of the tournament for me has been :

Dwayne Smith (WI) for a wonderful all round performance - 32 off 15 balls and then taking 3 for 36 - against Pakistan.

Running close: Ricky Ponting (Aus) for his first century of this world cup.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lankans have the opportunity to stamp their authority on the world cup and so far (20 overs 116/2 vs Bermuda), they are probably on their way, but nothing spectacular that one would expect from Tharanga and Jayasuriya.

And this is precisely why SL have very little chances of winning the world cup this time.

The only time Lankans won it was when Jayasuriya and the little Kaluwitharna re-wrote the rules of batting of opening batsmen in ODI's.

This time around, there is no Kalu, and Jayasuriya is an old man.
Unless the dynamic duo of fighter Sangakarra and clinical Jayawardhane turn up some magic, it looks like the Golden Lanka will have to wait some longer for their second World Cup.
Update: SL crushed Bermuda as expected. But the better plus for them was Jayawardhane coming back into form.

My WC Dream Team

Here is my dream team for the current world cup given in the order of batting line up:

Chris Gayle
Shahid Afridi
Sachin Tendulkar
Ricky Ponting (VC)
Mike Hussey
Graeme Smith (C)
Andrew Symonds
M S Dhoni / Kumar Sangakara (WK)
Shane Bond
Glenn McGrath
Shaun Pollock

Update: Replace Shaun Pollock by Mkhaya Ntini

Normal Service Resumes.

Well, it is business as usual at the WC 07.

Aussies have crushed the scots and Kenya proved that they are still the best among the minnows (apart from Bangladesh)!

Results as expected. No surprises / upsets here. That is so boring.

We need some excitement!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

We Have A Start!

(Updates below)

And how?
WI are playing Pakistan in the opener today.

It is difficult to predict the winner at the onset- basically because Shoaib and Asif are not around, and neither is Sahid Afridi, which is why the teams look balanced now!

The match is underway and WI are 63/2 in 20 overs !

Mohammad Gul got the first wicket of this world cup, that of Chris Gayle.

The Gayle storm was a non-starter this time, gone for 2 runs, but that is how it always is with the likes of Gayles, Afridis and Sehwags.

Chanderpaul was a disaster and managed to get out for a mere 19 from 63 balls !!! I stand vindicated.

Sarawan is playing as good as he does with a 51 ball 42 and surprisingly Lara has not come in to bat at 2-down and Marlon Samuels is in playing now with Sarawan.

After first 20 overs, my money is on Pakistan!

Update 1: Finally WI managed to reach to 241/9 against a second string Paki attack. To me, this batting display of WI is a sad surprise especially since they are playing at home. I first thought that their poor batting against India was only a bad day for them, but here, they almost repeated their performance. The credit of course, should also go to the Pakistan bowlers.

If at all WI can win matches in this era, it is through their batting and not through their bowling. No Sir. So my 2 cents are still on Pakistan for this match.

However, this is only the first match of the tournament and it takes a single batting / bowling / fielding performance to turn the fortunes of a team and of a nation around.

Can someone pass me some ketchup please?

Update 2: Yawn! It is getting to be an increasingly boring match. Pakistan are 82/3 after 25 overs and in the last 15 overs, this partnership has yielded only 44 runs. OK, at least they are back in the game as of now thanks to this partnership. West Indian bowlers had started well surprisingly by taking 3 quick wickets including that of Younis Khan. But Inzy is at what he does best. Bat.
However, my gut feeling tells me that as usual, Inzy and Mohd Yousuf will take the scores up to 150/3 or something and then Inzy will run out Mohd Yousuf against the run of play (whatever that means, but the guys in the commentary box keep using this phrase). And then the magnanimous Inzy bhai will run himself out as well. And while Pakistan will be in a spot of bother, the talented Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik will take them home.
Or will they?
I am off to an official tour (4 hours drive) and by the time I reach there, you will already know the results before I do.

Update 3: I Am just about to leave and the Pakistani batsmen have done beautifully what definitely is the core competence of Asian teams - Harakiri - Inzy did not get a chance to run anyone out and the talented Akram went the first ball he faced, and now looks like I am going to lose my money if I continue to keep it on Pakistan. Whew.

Update 4: The first match of the world cup is over and WI beat Pak by 54 runs!!! Luckily my money is safe in my pockets and I am all excited by the results. Well done WI, on the way to the semis, are we?

Nice Article

Sambit Bal comes out with a lovely informative and nostalgic piece about the evolution of One Day Cricket here.

Sunny and Ricky

Ah, the swords are out already!

Reuters informs us that Sunny and Ricky have picked up a fight.

Sunny says "They are awesome, but bad-behaved on the field"

Ricky says "Look who is talking? You and your team better get your own act right first"

Both are right, of course.

Both have a right to express their views.

And, we have a right to be entertained! :-)

So we don't mind this little spark that is already ignited - will it turn into a wildfire and go on to inspire some performances (like it did here) or will it die down with a whimper?

Let us get on the sofa, get some pop corn, and watch!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Let the games begin!

Let the World Cup begin!

Let the greens and blues and reds and browns and yellows line this rainbow called the World Cup!

Let the wood hit the leather crisply!

Let the balls crash into the stumps and sail over the boundaries!

Let us all witness the human endurance, grit, talent, intellect and gamesmanship!

Let the best team win!

Let the stumps be carried in hands on victory!

Let the victory be celebrated in pure joy!

Let the defeat be taken in stride!

Let all those playing the glorious game give it their 200%!

Let newer heroes be born and older bow down gracefully!

Let us all watch in awe and acknowledge and applaud the brilliance on the field!

Let us choose our moments and savour them for our lives!

Let us all be a part of this World Cup 2007!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Why is Chanderpaul openeing?

The third strongest link to WI team in ODIs after Lara and Sarwan is Shivnaraine Chanderpaul.

He can stick around the wicket and make the opposition try and try to get him out, but he won't budge.

He needs to come one, two or three down - whatever - but he should not open.

In the world where scores of 350 are not defendable anymore, openers have to be the ones who will give flying start. Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, with all due respect to his talent and abilities, is no Shahid Afridi or Chris Gayle. he is the glue that gets stuck to the wicket. He is Rahul Dravid of WI, not Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

West Indies have to look at someone who can smash the bowlers all around the park just like Chris Gayle does.

I feel that while it is essential to have players throughout the batting line up who can smash their way around, it is all the more critical for the opener's slot.

WI cannot and should not depend only on Gayle for big starts.

Look at India - they have so many openers in the team (all of whom can whack the ball) that they have another problem (of plenty), but essentially they are OK in their basics as they have openers to give them the big and fast starts.

IMHO, Shiv has got to go down the order.

C'mon guys - this is the big one - The World Cup - you don't want to be conservative and traditional - just go there and smash your way to the victory!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Heat is On!

The drama has begun, and how!

" Pakistani and South African players have been evacuated from their hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad, following what is believed to be a fire scare"

While we thought that Pakistanis must have put all the controversies and drama behind them (will it ever happen?) and that the South Africans must have put the Irish scare behind them by now, they were made to run helter skelter by the fire alarm.

This little gem from Cricinfo takes the cake:

The evacuees were all moved away to a safer location, but their plans to head to the beach were disrupted, as Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan all rounder revealed: "We were planning to go to the beach but we left our shorts in the room." Ouch!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Did Someone say "The Minnows"?

While we have been busy criticizing the senior teams for their performance (or for the lack of it), we should also take a moment and acknowledge and admire players like :

- RN ten Doeschate -Netherlands for his five wicket haul against India
- Leverock whose figures of 10-0-32-2 against England stood out for Bermuda
- Dave Langford-Smith and Trent Johnston of Ireland for almost bringing the World No 1's to their knees.

Go on guys, play - play as you have nothing to just for the love of the game

We will sit back, take a note, enjoy your performances and applaud too...

Update (6 March 2007) Bangladesh beat a full strength side of NZ by 2 wickets!!! Bravo !

Eating my own words - Yummy

Eating one's own words has never felt so tasty before!

But this world cup, I will be the happiest if all my predictions go haywire and I am forced to eat, nibble, crunch, munch and swallow my own words. And they sure will be tasty to eat.

The reason I will be happy is that it will bring out newer heroes in world cricket, there will be golden goodbyes to others, and stupidest controversies, nail biting finishes, upsets will be the order of the day add to that the immense interest which will flow from all sides of the world.

Today, Ireland almost got the second most favourite team of almost anybody following cricket, on the mat. The match ain't over yet. Last checked, SA were all out for a scratchy 192 and Ireland were 60/2 - Match on, as experts say.

But this interesting match is an eye opener to all the teams in the world cup - and that none can be taken for granted and it is not going to be an easy task for any team.

Bring on the popcorn and the kerchiefs, I say, the drama is about to unfold!

Update: SA barely managed to scrape past Ireland, thanks to all round efforts of Andrew Hall - I still cannot fathom the reasons as to why the one time test match opener for SA comes 6-7 down in their ODI team.

Update 2 (6 March 07): Pakistan 190/6 against Canada in 40 overs!!! India 259 / 7 against netherlands!!!
Amazing - and these are just the warm up matches! It is not only the low scores but also the number of wickets that each of the 'senior' teams has managed to lose against the 'junior' teams that amazes me.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Teams that will NOT win the World Cup 07

Yes, I know it is easier to pick on the Irelands, the Scotlands, the Canadas, the Kenyas and Bangladeshs etc. as teams which will NOT win the world cup - but here I wish to talk about the senior teams - all of whom have the potential to win the cup.

Based on the current forms of the teams, I stick my neck out to declare that following teams will NOT win this world cup:

Sri Lanka: Woefully out of form, Sanath's last hurrah and Sangakarra's brilliance alone can take them to semi finals at the most, that too is unlikely.

Pakistan: The most talented, most scandalous and most in-consistent performing team in the cricketing world simply doesn't have it in them this time around to the world cup.

England: Quite ordinary as a team with notable exceptions of Barmy Army, Flintoff, Pieterson and Collingwood - but that ain't good enough for them to win a world cup- No mates, it just ain't your cup.

New Zealand: Amazing team, the only team to have an outside chance the beat the Aussies apart from South Africans. But they don't play enough cricket elsewhere in the world to really test themselves. They don't look world beaters.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Shoaib and Asif

Finally the cat is out of the bag! The 'Will they? - wont they? ' question is now answered!

Mercurial Shoaib Akhtar and warhorse Mohd Asif are NOT going to play in the World Cup!

Cricinfo informs us that "Asif is down with an elbow injury while Shoaib is nursing a crocked knee."

What wonderful and thoughtful reasons PCB can come out with!

Damn it!

Sometimes, sadly, it is just not a gentleman's game!

Pepsi's Blue Billion

I was checking my yahoo mails and suddenly a big blue worm started emerging in the middle of my page.

Slowly it took shape of The ICC World Cup - but it sure looked like a blue worm all the same.

Yucks! One of the worst advertisements of Pepsi for sure! It is called "Blue Billion"

Traditionally, for me, Coke ads have always been better than Pepsi ads, and Pepsi tastes better than Coke - but what the heck, I should not forget, this is a cricket blog!

But this post is just awarning to you (all of you billions of blue, green and red readers of this blog - ok that makes it the 2 of us) that next time a worm appears in your page, dont worry - its just one silly little innocent (!!!) Pespsi advertisement!