Monthly Archives: April 2008

Daredevils taste first loss, Mumbai dig deeper into oblivion!

Another disappointing day for the Mumbai Indians amidst a whirlwind called Gilchrist. Tendulkar called into work sick again, Harbhajan spent the day looking for DNA evidence to prove that he was indeed Sreesanth’s “brother” and Jayasuriya and Uthappa saw their stock take a tumble for the next auction. Tendulkar’s supposed involvement in the selection of the Mumbai Indians raises strong questions about his strategy. Is he out of touch as far as T20s go?

Sanath Jayasuriya is ready for retirement, period! the $900,000 odd investment is turning out to be an Enron like fiasco (Reliance should have known better!). I am willing to bet that Jayasuriya is unlikely to turn things around the way Gilchrist did. Robin Uthappa is an exciting player but to consider him as “the middle order man” was a big mistake. Mumbai should have fought for someone like Rohit Sharma (the localite) as well. Who is Luke Ronchi? He seems marginally better than a fourth division player in the Chennai leagues. How could Mumbai make such a blunder? Having done so, after having watched the Aussie play a game they should have asked Uthappa to keep and strengthen their batting order. Shaun Pollock is a great allrounder, no doubt, but past his prime to lead the bowling lineup. Ashish Nehra has hardly played cricket in the last three years or so and looks very rough. Even though Delhi invested in Mcgrath, they did go in for Mohd. Asif, Farvez Mahroof and Yo Mahesh as backup fast men. Dwayne Bravo has been a saving grace for the team, but he was not meant to be there in the first place. He came in as a replacement for the injured Lasith Malinga. The only positive I have seen so far has been the performance of Abhishek Nayar.

Why am I harping so much on the performance of Mumbai Indians? It is simple. It is extremely difficult to see “GOD’s” team losing badly. It is even more difficult to digest the fact he did not get it right as far as picking the team was concerned. Their only hope is that he comes back and comes back like the champion that he is and sets an example for the team. It is only good for the IPL that Mumbai pick up and give it fight hereon!

Punjab Kings X1 are on a winning spree. They are going to lose Brett Lee, James Hopes and Simon Katich however. Will they have the firepower in their bowling line up moving forward? They certainly have a strong batting reserve to back themselves. I am most impressed with Sehwag’s captaincy, his temperament and acceptance of defeat alongwith an amazing lineup should see Delhi remain in the top for a while.

With Adam Gilchrist setting things right for the Chargers and with the arrival of Herschelle Gibbs for the overpaid and overrated Andrew Symonds, that team certainly looks strong enough to climb further up.

All in all, an amazing weekend of cricket comes to an end with the “SuperKings” right on top and deservedly so! Looking forward to another great week of tamasha!!



Mumbai Indians – Are they down and out?

A pathetic performance from the Mumbai Indians has put them in a terrible position after the 3 games. Are they being done in by too much star power or the lack thereof? They have been unfortunately hampered by the absence of Sachin Tendulkar (it is a convenient way to earn a million dollars by the way!). I am sure Sachin Tendulkar must be feeling terribly hurt and disappointed by the goings on. Sanath Jayasuriya has not turned on the screws. Harbhajan Singh’s captaincy has not been too impressive and add to that, he has been reported to have hit Sreesanth on the face leaving the fast bowler from Kerala in tears.

The team with what seems to be Shiv Sainik support staff (an all marathi support cast!) lacks a winning instinct. Can Tendulkar return soon and turn things around? The sunday game against another surprisingly disappointing team, Deccan Chargers, will be an extremely important game. I, personally, have mixed feelings about Mumbai. While it has GOD in its team, the line-up looks very weak on paper. It certainly does not carry enough ammunition especially being the most expensive side.

My loyalty undoubtedly continues to lie with Mr. Dhoni and his men. They have played very professionally and tomorrow’s game against the leaders, Kolkata Knight Riders should be a humdinger.

Play on…

– Srikanth

A question of money???

Initial reactions in India towards the IPL has always centred around how much money each one is getting. This is probably the frist time when main stream celebrities are having their personal finances dicusdiscussedublic. Yes we have heard reports in the past of Chiranjeevi or Rajanikanth getting paid so much. We have read about the deals Sachin signed when he had just arrived on the scene. But financial arrangements have never attracted as much publicity and media attention as did the player auctions of the IPL. For people outside India flipping through magazines or watching news channels always threw up reports of financial deals struck by a motley assortment of celebrities like sportspersons, film stars, tv stars, musicians signing with record labels, models, fashion designers etc. any successful human being will immediately have his financial deals discussed in public.

But the situation has never been like this in India. So when the IPL auctions created a huge media hype about the money being doled out. A lot of people found the whole process disgusting! After the first round of matches were played the questions came back to money. What did Symonds do after the first 2 games? Look at the money they paid him? Of course Symonds is a hard nosed professional and he came back to form in true style with a fine hundred last night only to be confronted by Ian Bishop with question “That’s why they paid big bucks for you.” Is it just the money that you can see? Is it not professionalism, pride, skill, and a host of other things that make a player perform???

Look at the way the international stars have performed. People who have watched county cricket in England know what I am talking about. These players can join any team and do their job just as well as they did it for their country. Of course playing for their own country is not the same thing but when playing as a professional, they do not in any way underperform. Let us enjoy the matches and celebrate the performance of the players and stop cribbing about the bucks!

— Sanjay

The first week – 8 matches @ 8 venues

The first set of matches have been completed and all the 8 venues have had a taste of the IPL. The initial figures coming show that there is a lot of excitement in all the cities and crowds have been pouring in. Except for Mohali, which had a slighty smaller turnout, the rest of the venues had fantastic crowds. Yesterday was witness to arguably the best match played so far and the tournament promises more. The lottery that 20-20 can be was quite evident where a match almost given up was suddenly revitalised and finished in a thrilling manner.

The wickets have been batting heavy with Kolkata being the exception. That is what makes cricket so fascinating when a factor not related to the players themselves can change they way the game is played. With the ball turning around and a low score the Kolkata match was thrilling in its own way.

City based support for the players and teams will take a little time to sink in. But the signs are already there. Rahul Dravid mentioned today that he was surprised no one clapped when he hit a boundary in Mumbai! One could also see Veeru signalling to the crowd to clap after he scored his fifty in the Hyderabad game.

The professionalism of the players is really great. Each cricketer is so involved in his team and trying to give his best. The presence of the international stars is making the game a superb spectacle. At the same time a number of youngsters are coming to the party and performing so well. Old reputations are slowly taking a beating whilst new ones are being made. A friend commented about the failure of Symonds while The Hindu clearly sees Laxman as the weakest captain in the League. Some of the older stars like McGrath, Warne, Pollock have been excellent.

I like 20-20. The number of days when we sat down for close to 8 hours and had a horrible night after India lost in Sharjah are a thing of the past. This is quick and fast. It is a batsman’s game but the bowlers will learn fast. Hayden said yesterday that the bowlers are adapting very quickly and will have a crucial role soon. Like someone said the ‘bits and pieces’ cricketers of the ODI variety may not shine as much as the specialists. The exceptions being the genuine all rounders like Pollock, Watson and Hopes.

Get the Englishmen in quickly, find some Zimbabweans and Bangladeshis and let us get this International Indian Premier League rocking! Just a word of caution. The coming week is important as the next round of matches begin at the different venues. Will the crowds continue to come in? Especially as some International cricketers leave for fulfilling their country’s commitments? Let’s wait and see.

— Sanjay

Deep Thoughts on IPL…..

It is early days in the DLF-IPL innaugural tournament. However, I figured there were some interesting observations that I could share. Here goes..

1. Deccan Chargers must be seriously contemplating on their million dollar investment, Mr. Andrew Symonds. He has been pretty ordinary in the two games so far.

2. The owners of Mumbai Indians would seriously hope and pray that they are the most expensive franchise for a very strong reason, Sachin Tendulkar. He did not play in the first outing and seems unlikely to figure in tomorrow’s game against the Chennai supermacchis. Their bowling lineup has more of a kanga league look and less of an international offering.

3. Mike Hussey surely has strong reasons to feel disappointed for being cheaper than his brother, his innings against Punjab was truly special and very professional. Assuming he will be auctioned again next year, his stakes will a lot higher.

4. In general, the big money winners have not recorded anything out of the ordinary yet barring possibly McCullum and Ishant Sharma. On the contrary, some of the icons have been more of an embarrassment to their respective teams. Captains of Royal Challengers and Deccan Chargers come to mind.

5. Delhi Daredevils certainly look like the team to beat. It seems they do not require more than three batsmen in the side, the first three seem to finish off totals. It is a fantastic outfit and I was way out of mark when I predicted early that they would make it to the last four.

6. I am quite impressed with a few of the youngsters. Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma certainly have a bright and guaranteed future ahead. Rajat Bhatia, Siddharth Trivedi, Pazhani Amarnath, Shikar Dhiwan, Virat Kohli, and Badrinath are quite exciting to watch.

7. As I said it is early days, but the fun has certainly begun. Fortunately, thanks to a repeat telecast in addition to the live broadcast here I am able to watch all the games in total when I get home from work.



Super Kings super

Kings vs Super Kings

The first game of the night saw two teams with similar sounding names compete – The Chennai “Super Kings” took on the “Kings” XI Punjab. One was lead by the captain of the World cup winning T20 team, and the other was lead by the vice-captain. After the inaugural game between Bangalore and Kolkata, it seemed 222 in twenty overs was going to be hard to beat, and yet Chennai managed to score 240 without breaking a sweat. Punjab stayed in the game a lot longer than the what the final score shows – ending up with a score of 207.

Daredevils vs Royals

Finally a low scoring game. But it was only because Jaipur failed with the bat. The Jaipur Royals look like one of the weakest teams in the tournament at the moment.  The match saw the return of Shane Warne and Glen McGrath – one of the deadliest bowling combinations in the world. But this time, they bowled for opposing teams.

The game ended up being one sided with Delhi easily overhauling the score with about 5 overs to spare.

The Aussies

There were 9 Aussies playing last night and some of their performances stood out – Hussey was brilliant and McGrath looked as if he never stopped playing. Hopes was outstanding with the bat, but took a stick while bowling. Some of the others weren’t bad either – Hayden chipped in with a quick fire 25 and Shane Watson scored 21 before he was run out.

Hussey outdoes McCullum

McCullum’s innings in the first match was a one-off innings. A hundred in 53 balls would be hard to beat. Or so we thought. Hussey outdid that with a hundred of just 50 balls! And if he had come in to bat any earlier, he would have even beaten McCullum’s score. The main difference between Kolkatta’s innings and Chennai’s innings was that, the partnerships weren’t one sided. Raina and Badrinath in particular looked impressive with scores of 32 and 31* scoring a tad faster than Hussey.


Go Superkings! Opening match today against Punjab

Chennai takes on Punjab in its opening game today. Am all keyed up. The previews highlight the fact that Chennai is batting heavy while Punjab is the bowling team to watch. Am not comfortable with 2 wicketkeepers playing but if Dhoni is not fit enough to keep what the heck! Watch out for a couple of overs of tight off spin from Badrinath. If Hayden clicks early then we should canter home.


IPL lives up to the hype

The Hype

If anyone believed that the IPL and the “Cricket ka Karmayudh” was all hype and nothing else, then all they had to do was watch the inaugural game between the Kolkatta Knight Riders and the Bangalore Royal Challengers to see how wrong they were. And why wouldn’t it be a big success? Throw in a lot of money, bring in the best players, and play the most entertaining format of the game in front of a cricket crazy crowd and you just can’t go wrong.

The Inaugural game

Granted, the names of some of the teams in the IPL sound a bit corny and the inaugural game itself was one sided, but what a game it was.

In just the first game, McCullum broke the record for the highest individual score in the game’s short history with a score of 158*.  And when Ishant Sharma, the new Indian bowling sensation took out Rahul Dravid’s stump with his first ball, any “challenge” the Royal Challengers had left wilted away.

Cricket set for  change

IMHO, the tournament itself is going to change the way cricket is played across the world. Test cricket may not be under threat from T20 cricket, but I feel that One Day cricket is under serious threat. Why would you want to play 50 over a side game, when you can get much better entertainment value playing just 20 overs a side? I asked the same question after the success of the T20 World cup and I am asking the question again – Why would you want to continue playing One day cricket? It is only a matter of time, when the 50 over game is relegated to just 1 or 2 matches in a series.

Team affinities

It is still early days for the tournament and I am sure people across India are still trying to chose their favourite stars and teams. I for one, am still undecided. I naturally gravitate towards the Chennai Superstars, as Chennai is where I grew up. But sometimes, where you live may not decide which team you root for. Have any of you decided which team you are going to support?


India win to even series

India won the match and managed to even the series. And, Dhoni won his first game as captain.

After the game, I tried to look back at the turning point of the game. Was it Ganguly’s 87 in the first innings, the 46 runs India added for the last wicket or even Sehwag’s double strike of Kallis and Smith? I think what contributed to India’s win was all of them put together – combined with the return of Ishant Sharma and India’s overall bowling effort. Even the part time bowlers chipped in with five wickets.

It hasn’t been a great series, though. I didn’t quite enjoy it the way I enjoyed the series played in England and Australia. I wonder if anyone else feels the same way. In any case the series is finished and IPL is scheduled to begin shortly. Can’t wait for that to happen…hopefully it won’t disappoint.


India vs RSA :: 3rd Test :: 1st Day

This was a must win test for India and when South Africa raced to 52 for no loss at the first drink break, it didn’t look good for India. First, they lost the captain to a groin injury, then Dhoni in his first test as captain lost the toss which could yet prove crucial in this game. Then the fast bowlers failed to impress. It definitely wasn’t going India’s way.

Then something happened. Yuvraj Singh, came on to bowl and claimed the wicket of Smith. With in no time two more wickets fell. Chawla had earlier claimed the wicket of McKenzie and suddenly the score read 161 for 4. For the first time in this series, the pressure appeared to be on the South African batsmen. Wickets started falling at regular intervals and they were finally dismissed for 265.

India will definitely take that. The bowlers have done their job, and it is now up to the batsmen to do theirs. India will be at a definite disadvantage batting fourth in this wicket. The batsmen will have to give India a good lead to be able to beat South Africa. The South Africans will again be aiming to beat India with pace but spin may hold the key to this game and that may come in handy for India.

The SBS score card for the day would probably read India 2, RSA 1. The SBS score card for tomorrow is most likely to determine who wins this game, but it all depends on how well India start in the morning.