Friday, June 12, 2009

Its Srilanka's day out at Lords

Tilekaratne Dilshan once again proved his class that helped Srilanka register their first super eight victory over Pakistan. Later Lasith Malinga and Muttiah Muralidharan ran through the Pakistan batting line up which sealed Lanka's victory by 18 runs.
Electing to bat first the Lanka's had a flying start with Dilshan and Jayasurya on the cockpit. Sohail Thanveer really had a wrong spell with his wrong foot, his first over had as many as 11 run ups which includes 3 wides, two front foot no-balls and three boundries. Srilanka put forth a total of 150 with Dilshan topscoring with 46. The Pakistan innings crumbled in the beginning as their opener’s didn’t waste much time in the crease. Shoaib Malik came in with a handy 28 which includes 3 consecutive boundries against Mathews.Younis Khan(50)and Misbah ul Huq(21) put a partnership of 66 for the fourth wicket , which could have turned the match around.Misbah's departure was followed by an "avalanche effect" and pakistan was bundled out for 131/9.Malinga claimed three wickets and Murali had two in his pocket. Dilshan ,the top scorer in the tournament was the player of the match.


SRILANKA - 150/7 in 20 over’s (T.Dilshan - 46, Jayasurya- 26)
PAKISTAN - 131/9 in 20 over’s (Younis Khan-50,shoaib Malik - 28, Malinga- 3/17)

SRILANKA won by 18 runs

Bravo bravo West Indies...

The West Indies outclassed, outplayed and outwitted India in their crucial super eight encounter. The man who carried West Indies on his shoulders was not Chris Gayle this time. It was Dwayne Bravo, one who belongs to an “elite” class of players who have got a special sort of “liking” for India. Although it was he who led from the front with 4 wickets and a blistering 66 not out off just 36 balls, the victory was the result of some fine team work. West Indies was out there with a clear game plan. They started off applying pressure right from the start with some canny pace bowling cramping the Indian batsman from both ends. This time supported by good efforts in the field too, which was very much unlike them.

The only part of the game which belonged to India was the partnership between Yuvraj Singh and Yusuf Pathan. Yuvraj played (or had to play) the saviour role yet again with a handy 67 off 43 balls when the team was in real trouble. His most beautiful hit was a sweetly timed chip over mid wicket which went for a six! The loss will certainly raise many questions. Dhoni’s batting form (or style) being on top of it. The lack of experienced players in the team is also telling off as the team finds itself difficult to adapt to high pressure situations. It’s time for the team and management to rethink and analyze its tactics, better sooner than later. In the present scenario, team India is in a do or die situation and should come up with solid performances to keep alive their, as well as a billions’, hopes of defending the title.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

South Africa sinks England, Ireland drowned by the New zealand waves

Super eight matches started yesterday and as expected South Africa and New Zealand emerged victorious. South Africa romped past England by 7 wickets while the Kiwis dumped Ireland by 86 runs.

England won the toss and elected to bat first. The top order trumbled in front of the hostile bowling from Dale Steyn and W.D Parnell. Rescue operation by Owais Shah(38) helped them to put a score of 111 on board. Jacques Kallis(57*) and Hershelle Gibbs(30)steadied the innings for South Africa after an initial wobble, and they went past the chequered flag with 10 balls to spare. Jacques Kallis was named the player of the match for his allround performance.

It was demolition work undertaken by New Zealand at Trentbridge when they thrashed Ireland by 86 runs. Ireland won the toss and elected to field, a descision that gifted the match to the Kiwis. Debutant Aaron Raymond showed his class with a well made 63 of 30 balls.He reached his half century in 23 balls.Later fireworks from Martin Guptill and Scott Styris put a massive target of 198 in front of the Ireland. The Irish were bundled out for 111 by some excellent bowling by Nathan Mccullum and Kyle Mills. Aaron Reymond was adjudged as the man of the match for his memorable knock.


Super eight Match 1

ENGLAND - 111 in 19.5 overs (O.Shah- 38, Parnell- 3/14, D.Steyn-2/19)
SOUTH AFRICA - 114/3 in 18.2 overs (J.kallis- 57, gibbs- 30)

Soth africa won by 7 wickets

Super eight match 2

New Zealand - 198/5 in 20 overs (A.Raymond- 63, M.Guptill- 45, S.Styris-42)
Ireland - 111 in 16.4 overs(N.Mccullum- 3/15)
New Zealand won by 86 runs

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

TEAM INDIA - good ,better or the best?

This is a frequently asked question these days. I am not too ambitious or patriotic either to say that this is the best team ever. But I will have to oblige to the fact that this is in fact a very well balanced team, and this balance was something India always lacked. There was a time, not long back, when India was Sachin and Sachin was India. The burden of the whole team’s batting department was on his shoulders. He managed it pretty tidily, but time has taken its toll over him. After all, he too is a human being.

Today India can boast of having the most number of match winners, ones with the capability of turning the match in its head. The team has the classy Gambhir and the blazing Sehwag at the top, followed by talented youngsters Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina, who are in fact stars in the making, and a solid middle order of Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni. What more can u expect from a batting line up? And with the Pathan brothers to follow with their fire woks at the lower middle order , India seems to be something like a giant banyan tree with strong roots which is too hard to topple over. And having a highly inspiring and determined captain in Dhoni India just seems to have finally got that knack of winning, and winning consistently.

Dhoni follows the often said tactic in football that attack is the best form of defense. He never lets the opposition to get over and doesn’t let the momentum go down at any stage of the game. Dhoni, who started off as a dasher in his early days, is being criticized for becoming more of a nudger these days. Now, he relies more on keeping the scoreboard ticking by quick singles and gentle pushes on both sides of the wicket. According to him, and may be rightly so, there should be a person in the team who can play the anchor role, especially when there are too many stroke players around.

The bowling department is also well settled with youngsters Ishant Sharma and Ojha coming up with performances that outshine their senior counterparts. RP Singh, one of the leading wicket-takers of the IPL, having a quiet time in the dug-out itself speaks of the strength of the bowling department.

And what more? Everybody in the team seems to be enjoying their game. Everything is well and fine as long as the team keeps winning. Good luck India!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

ICC T-20 World Cup – Day 5

Pakistan extinguish the orange revolution

In the first match of the fifth day, Pakistan batted and bowled sufficiently well to put an end to the Orange revolution that many Dutch fans and Indian fans had hoped for. Their performance was scratchy despite the win, particularly their fielding. It still remains a throwback to pre-Jonty Rhodes era.

Batting first, Pakistan scored 175 for 5 in 20 overs against a bowling, which was industrious, but not threatening enough. Kamran Akmal, the man of the match, top-scored with 41 (of 30 balls). He was well-supported by Shoaib Malik (30 of 28 balls), Younis Khan (36 of 20 balls), and Misbah-ul-Haq (31 of 20 balls).

The Dutch needed to score 151 runs to get through the super eight by virtue of a better net run rate. However, they catapulted in front of a do or die situations, much like their more famous and illustrious football teams in recent decades. They were all out for 93 runs in 17.3 overs. Shahid Afridi was the star of the Pakistan bowling by taking four wickets for just 11 runs.
The Dutch batsmen gave the impression that it was the first time they see a leg spinner bowling googlies and top spinners and appeared flummoxed by that fact.

Pakistan fielding was similar to what we see in beneficial veterans' tournaments. Pakistan fans knew that luck was on their side when they saw Salman Butt actually holding on to a simple catch, after dropping some similar and easier ones in this match and the previous one.

Score: Pakistan (175 for 5) in 20 overs beat the Netherlands (93 all out) by 82 runs.

South Africa prevails in a photo finish

It's really embarrassing that South Africa hasn’t yet won any form of the world cup, whether it is the traditional 50-50 or the recent 20-20. It’s a team with immense manpower lead by a young and dynamic captain. The Proteas has made their intentions clear with their second consecutive win in the tournament, albeit a narrow one against New Zealand. It was yet another nail-biting last ball finish with South Africa emerging victorious with the slimmest margin possible.

South Africa set a total of 128 in 20 overs with the help of some cautious batting from Graeme Smith (33 of 35 balls), Jack Kallis (34 of 23 balls), and JP Duminy (29 of 23 balls).

In reply, Brendon McCulum (57 of 54 balls) and Ross Taylor (22 of 31 balls) seemed set to take the Kiwis past the target. But some great bowling from Van der Merve sealed the fate of the match in favor of the Proteas. Jacob Oram (24 of 18 balls) made a valiant effort. But South Africa, for once, held their nerve. Van der Merve was adjudged man of the match.

Score: South Africa (128 for 7) beat New Zealand (127 for 5) by one run.

Monday, June 08, 2009

ICC T-20 World Cup – Day 4

A day of upsets and early exits

The fourth day saw the tally of casualties expanding to three, when Bangladesh and Australia joined Scotland in the departure lounge. So far, seven teams have qualified for the super eight: India, South Africa, England, and West Indies in one group, and Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and Ireland in the other group. Either Pakistan or the Netherlands will join the latter. If the Netherlands qualifies, which is very much possible, one group of super eight will have New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Super eight? No way. "Modest four" might be a better label.

Match 1: Ireland hunts Bangladesh

Bangladesh needed to win this match to keep their super-eight hopes alive. However, Ireland proved a tough nut to crack. First, they bowled and fielded with good discipline to restrict Bangladesh to 137 for 8. Had it not for the pyrotechnics of Mushrafe Mortaza (33 in 16 balls) in the last over of innings, which resulted in 20 runs, they would not have reached even this score.

However, the score eventually proved inadequate as Ireland chased down the score handsomely with 10 balls and 6 wickets to spare. The O'brian brothers, Niall (40 of 25 balls) and Kevin (39 not out of 17 balls) – the lesser known brothers in the tournament amidst the Pathans, Husseys, and the McCullums – did the bulk of the scoring. Niall O'brian was chosen as the man of the match.

Scores: Ireland (138 for 4 in 18.2 overs) defeated Bangladesh (137 for 8 in 20 overs) by 6 wickets.

Good bye Australia....

The 8th of January will be considered a black day in two parts of the globe. One was in Kerala where the communist party launched something called "Karidinam" (means black day) protesting against the governor's decision to grant permission for the prosecution of Pinarayi Vijayan, the Ricky Ponting of the communist party in Kerala. The second black day was experienced by "cricket Australia" when Kangaroos were outwitted by the Sri Lankans, thanks to excellent batting displays by Kumar Sangakkara and Dilshan and splendid bowling by Ajanta Mendis that left the Aussies dumbfounded.

If the same thing happened to Australia two years back, it would have brought a bit of embarrassment; but this time it was rather expected from them. One doesn't need an autopsy to find the causes of this fate (rather ill-fate), because things are quite clear as the white skies. The primary reason is that they yet don't have a perfect replacement for the "eternal three", Adam Gilchrist, Mathew Hayden, and Shane Warne. The second is their lack of team coordination. You don't expect someone like Andrew Symmonds to be court-martialed for boozing. Anyways, all eyes are now pointing to Ricky Ponting, "the punter", the king who has lost his crown.

The Australians would be glad they don't have to face their home fans quickly, as they stay in London for the ashes. The Lankans clinched the match with an over to spare, when Kumar Sangakkara played a captain's knock with a well-made 55 supported by Dilshan's 53.

Score: Sri Lanka (160 for 4 in 19 overs) beat Australia (159 for 9 in 20 overs) by 6 wickets.

Tail piece: What will be Ponting saying in the press conference today? It might be something like "ini kaavile paatumalsarathinu kaanam" (Jagathi Sreekumar challenging Mohanlal in Yodha).

ICC T-20 World Cup – Day 3

Minnows will be minnows

The third day' play produced two boring, one-sided games. In the first game, Scotland felt the powerlessness of minnows against the all-round efficiency of South Africa. There is nothing much to write about the match other than the scores.

Score: South Africa 212 for 5 (de Villiers 79 from 34 balls and Kallis 48 of 31 balls) beat Scotland 81 all out, by 130 runs.

England's resurgence

In the second match, Pakistan's performance in the ground mirrored the state of affairs in the country. The only thing worse than the law and order of Pakistan seems to be their cricket team's fielding. England was not complaining though. The return of Kevin Peterson provided the much needed firepower to their middle order.

England, put into bat by Younis Khan, exploited the power-pay overs better than they themselves might have imagined. Luke Wright (34 of 16 balls) provided the early impetus. Peterson (58 from 38 balls) maintained the run-scoring tempo and England finished with a decent total of 185 for 5.

The decent total soon became a formidable one when Pakistan started their innings. Wickets fell at regular intervals and run rate kept on climbing. It appeared that only Younis Khan (46 not out of 31 balls) was interested in actually chasing the total. Pakistan finished with a paltry 137 in their quota of 10 overs.

Score: England (185 for 5) beat Pakistan 137 for 7, by 48 runs.

What this means is that England has virtually ensured their super-eight berth because of their superior net run rate. Now, it is a toss-up between Pakistan and the Netherlands. Pakistan has to beat the Dutch by a big margin to qualify for the super eight. Incidentally, England will be in the same group of India and South Africa.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


The stage is well set for Roger Federer to ascend to the zenith of men’s tennis. If he wins today’s final he will equal Pete Sampras’ record of the most men's singles grand slam titles. He will also become only the sixth man in the history of the game to win all the four majors. The only man who had stood in between his lips and the crown for the last 3 years is not in the picture this time around. It's never easy-pickings in a grand slam final but this man seems to be in a class of his own. Such high are the standards set by himself, that even reaching the French open finals in four consecutive years appears modest or just average. However many tennis fans would really miss the grueling , yet exotic Federer-Nadal tussle that they got used to in the grand slam finals of recent times. The Swiss master has been haunted by the Spanish nightmare for more than enough now, and it seems all he had lacked was this small bit of luck.

Tail piece: The other finalist is Robin Soderling…. Robin who?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

ICC T-20 World Cup – Day 2

Kiwis win the cricketing sevens, Calypsos slaughter Kangaroos, and India kicks away the Bangla banana skin

The second day of the capsule cricket world cup witnessed more sixes and more brutal hitting than in the first day, but no upset of seismic proportions. Scotland failed to emulate the Dutch, though they did manage to give a scare to the Kiwis. West Indies, absurdly ranked 11 in this tournament, produced what one can call an upset, by pulverizing Australia. Finally, an efficient performance from the "rock stars of cricket" ensured that Bangladesh did not repeat their 2007 World Cup performance against India.

Scores in brief

Match 1: New Zealand (90 for 3 in 6 overs) beat Scotland (89 for 4 in seven overs) by 7 wickets
Match 2: West Indies (172 for 3 in 15.5 overs) beat Australia (169 for 7 in 20 overs) by 7 wickets
Match 4: India (180 for 5 in 20 overs) beat Bangladesh (155 for 8 in 20 overs) by 25 runs

Match 1: Kiwis wins the cricketing sevens

The first match of the second day, between Scotland and New Zealand, was reduced to a sevens match – that is, seven overs per side, and not seven players per side as in the football version of the sevens. Scotland were nursing hopes of an upset win similar to the Dutch victory over England on the first day. They raced to a backyard-cricket- or school-ground-cricket-like score of 89 for 4 in 7 overs to raise hopes for yet another upset. Gavin Hamilton is the most familiar face in the Scotland team. But he did not have to bat, as obscure cricketers like Ryan Watson (27 in 10 balls), Navdeep Poonia (27 in 15 balls), and Kyle Coetzer (33 in 15 balls) produced a slog-fest.

In reply, New Zealand were not as generous as England had been. They reached 50 in 2.4 overs, and then went on to score the required 90 runs with one over to spare. Jesse Ryder (31 from 13 balls), Ross Taylor (21 from 10 balls), and Brendon McCullum (18 from 8 balls) were the main destroyers. Despite the heavy hitting all around, the man of the match award went to Ian Butler who took 3 wickets in 2 overs by giving away "only" 19 runs. He gave away just 8 runs in the last over. In fact, the last three balls of the innings resulted in wickets. But the second wicket was a run out, so I think it will not be considered as a hat trick.

Match 2: Calypsos slaughter Kangaroos

The second match of the day, between Australia and West Indies, turned out to be a total mismatch – but not the way one would imagine. It is Australia who looked like the West Indies in recent times. West Indies in fact looked like the fearsome Windies squads of 1970s and 1980s. Jerome Taylor is no Michael Holding or Malcolm Marshal. But yesterday he was good enough to send back Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting in the first over of the match. The score of 3 for 2 soon became 15 for 3, when Fidel Edwards got rid of Michael Clarke. But Australia recovered and scored what appeared then a challenging total of 169 for 7, thanks mainly to a subdued innings from David Warner (61 of 51 balls). He was supported well by Brad Haddin (24 of 19 balls) and the Hussey brothers, David (26 of 16 balls) and Michael (28 of 15 balls).

West Indies started the innings as if they were playing against the newly formed team from Afghanistan. Before Australia knew what hit them, West Indies had reached their 50 (in 4.1 overs). At first, the runs came from an unexpected source – from Andre Fletcher (53 in 32 balls). But soon Chris Gayle (88 in 50 balls) took over. He was in a murderous mood in the fifth over of the innings bowled by Brett Lee – 27 runs including 3 sixes and 2 fours. More than the number of sixes, the manner in which they were hit must have hurt the bowler. Two of the sixes went out of the ground. In fact, Brett Lee's bowling figures resembled that of Ajit Agarkar in the recently concluded IPL: 3 overs no maiden 51 for none. Ricky Ponting tried many things and made several bowling changes. The Windies never lost their momentum and surpassed the "challenging" total with 25 balls to spare. Chris Gayle obviously was the man of the match.

Match 3: India kicks away the Bangla banana skin

The match against Bangladesh was a potential banana skin match for India, similar to the 2007 World Cup match in Port of Spain against the same side. India had lost that match, and eventually made a tragic first round exit from the tournament. Yesterday too, it appeared that they had sighted a banana skin somewhere and were cautious to avoid it. After a streaky knock from Rohit Sharma (36 of 23 balls), who partnered Gautam Gambhir in Sehwag's absence, Gambhir (50 of 46 balls) and MS Dhoni (26 of 21 balls) were too cautious and relied on singles and twos to get the scoreboard moving. Dhoni got out when he tried to accelerate the scoring. In came Yuvraj Singh and he kicked the banana skin, if there was any, emphatically out of the ground with a typically belligerent 41 of 18 balls. Irfan Pathan chipped in with 11 runs in 3 balls and India reached a respectable total of 180.

Bangladesh started the innings with their typical giant-killing ambitions. They took only 32 balls to reach the 50 and looked good for a fight. However, the introduction of Pragyan Ojha changed the course of the match. He took 4 wickets 21 runs in a man-of-the-match-winning performance. Bangladesh eventually managed 155 for 8 in 20 overs. Junaid Siddique (41 from 22 balls) was the top-scorer.

Tail Piece: Seeing the way Gayle and McCullum blazing away yesterday, one finally gets answer for this oft-repeated question: who was responsible for the debacle of Kolkata Knight Riders? Pluto, dear Pluto.

Dutch turns Lords into Waterloo

It was indeed the greatest day of Dutch cricket when they outwitted host England by 4 wickets in a nailbiting last ball finish. The curtain raiser for the second edition of T-20 world cup thus ended with a big-bang. The england fans would never forgive Stuart Broad for his missed run out oppurtunity in the last ball which actually gifted the match to the Dutch.Thus the 6th of Jan would indeed become a dark day in the history of English cricket, something like "the Marackaana disaster".
The sporting world was stunned 7 years back when Senegal defeated France in the opener of the soccer world cup. One wouldn't have heard of El Hadji Diof or Henri Camara untill that day. The same thing has happened here. One could hardly remember a Dutch player, except Nannes who plays for the Delhi DD in the IPL. Stuart Broad wouldn't have expected anything worse than Yuvaraj Singh's six sixes in the previous edition of T-20 World Cup.

England did not start the match all that badly. Ravi Bopara(46) and Luke Wright (71)gave them a good start with a century partnership, which helped them set a target of 163. It was indeed a pretty decent total - or so everybody thought.

Chasing a total with a required 8.1 runs per over, the Dutch stareted briskly reaching 50 in 5 overs and 100 in 11 overs. Thanks to some bold batting from Reekers, Tn de grooth and Borren. Towards the end RN Doescate and Edgar Shiferli held their nerve to take the Dutch's "Noah's Arc" across the sea. The Dutch team burst out in jubilation after scoring, what i suppose, the first in a Cricket world cup. For them, it is no less than clinching the title.
Tn de grooth was the player of the match for his hard fought 49 of 30 balls.
The Dutch have made it clear that they did not come here for the usual "fill the gap" routine. This is all about T-20, you can expect the unexpected, and you can see a high octane action every time. You see the ball dissappearing into the stands , feilders at backward point floating in the air defying Newton's laws of gravity, and some times burst of emotions like the one we saw at Lord's. Anyways there's lot of action to come in the next 2 weeks.