Monthly Archives: April 2008

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?

-Mahesh-

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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.

-Mahesh-

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.

-Mahesh-

Tendulkar in WC2011 and other news trivia!

Tendulkar, in an interview with a TV channel, has hinted at hoping to fulfill a dream of winning the World Cup. WIll he be present at the WC 2011? I would personally like to see him perform on home soil and help raise the cup. In the same interview, Tendulkar has also somewhat surprisingly claimed that Nasser Hussain, in his opinion, has been the most inspiring captain. Nice pat on the back for a great competitor and certainly one of my favorite commentators.

The match fixing saga continues. Thanks to Shoaib’s claim, the ICC is back at it again. Per his allegations, India and South Africa continue to be in the picture, no surprises there! I thought I was joking when I made the comment of match fixing playing a part in the Ahmedabad test. I still think that is the case, however, I am not sure match fixing is a story of the past.

Gavaskar is at it again. He has sharply criticized the Indian team for being terrible catwalkers! It seems that the Ahmedabad test has been a terrible distraction for them from being able to “walk the walk” at the IPL team launches. His accusations of the attitudes of certain players, if true, is certainly appalling. Having said that, Gavaskar is, well Gavaskar!! There has never been a better politician in cricket than the little master himself.

On an absolutely trivial note, Laxmi Ratan Shukla should feel proud with the decision he took to remain a “legal” player. Sometime back, Shukla joined the ICL and pulled out when Bengal offered him the captaincy. Ever since, Shukla has not only lead the team’s revival but played an important part by performing well especially in the one day variety. Shukla, who was once touted as India’s next Kapil Dev, may still hope to make it to the Indian team.  Meanwhile, Saurashtra’s workhorse, Sitanshu Kotak, helped his team through to the final of the Vijay Hazare trophy by beating Vidharba to meet Bengal. Bengal had earlier beaten Mumbai in the other semi-final.

More news trivia as they trickle in and catch my eye,

Srikanth

Bad loss

What a bad loss. Being beaten by an innings and 90 runs – that too at home – It’s gotta hurt. Not just the fans, but it must hurt the team members too.

India needed to bat out of their skins to save the game, but they didn’t. Sehwag started with a couple of sixes, but left in a hurry. When Dravid got out, the writing was already in the wall (pardon the pun). Jaffer went soon after and then it was left to Ganguly and Laxman to stop the slide. They started putting on a partnership and as it happens so frequently, Laxman got out against the run of play with his score in the thirties.

Ganguly and Dhoni tried to prolong the inevitable, but a poor umpiring decision put an end to Ganguly’s innings. Dhoni scored a fighting fifty and Pathan chipped in with some runs, but India was well and truly beaten.

India have made a lot of progress in the last year or so – one big loss shouldn’t take that away from them. But they seem to play better when they are the underdogs. The favourites tag doesn’t sit well with them – every time they are pronounced the favourites in a tournament or match, they seem to put in  a poor performance. I don’t think anyone would consider them to be the favourites in this series anymore…

In the series so far, Kumble hasn’t been his usual self and the fast bowlers have been ineffective. Ishant Sharma’s inclusion should boost the bowling. But it was the batting that let India down. The decision on whether to go with the extra bowler as they did in this game or pick Yuvraj as an additional batsman is going to be tough one. Will have to wait and see how this one unfolds.

But it is time for India to forget this match, regroup and try to level the series in Kanpur. India may be ranked No. 2 in the World, but at the moment they don’t look anything like the second best team – not by a long shot.

-Mahesh-

India vs RSA :: 2nd Test :: 2nd Day

Whenever India plays cricket and there is no TV coverage, I feel disappointed on having missed out. After India’s capitulation under one session yesterday and the beating they have taken on the field since, I am actually a bit glad for once that I am not watching the game.

It is highly unlikely that after conceding 418 runs lead (and counting) that India can save this match. I am sure a lot of Indians are praying for some kind of miracle. Well, we definitely need some divine intervention to save India from an innings defeat. There are still 3 full days left in the match and I can’t see India playing out a draw.

Watching the South African score, it is pretty clear that there were no demons on the pitch. If there were any demons, it must have been on the minds of the Indian players – how else can you explain losing all your wickets in under 20 overs in a test match?

South Africa are sitting pretty at the moment. Their top order has had plenty of batting practice and have scored runs by the truck loads. In their 3 innings so far they have aggregated close to 1300 runs – and we haven’t been able to take 30 wickets in 3 innings so far. Except for Prince, every batsmen in their team has scored runs. Of their bowlers, Dale Steyn has been outstanding taking 9 wickets in the two innings he has bowled.

India on the other hand are a far cry from the team that beat Australia in Perth. The bowling has looked ordinary and the fielding – well, the less said the better. But the most worrying thing is the batting, which is supposed to be its strength. Agreed India scored over 600 runs in the 1st test – but more than half of that came from the bat of Sehwag. You take his score out, and India would have been in big trouble in Chennai too.

There have been some notable failures and we can’t afford any of them in the second innings. Ganguly has to lift his game. He hasn’t scored too many runs since the Sydney test. Dhoni has done well in the shorter form of the game, but is averaging just 17 runs in his last 10 Test innings. He has to lift his game too.

Laxman has been amongst the runs, but he needs to learn how to control the strike when playing with the tail. Sadly, It is probably too late in his career to learn to do that. In Tendulkar’s absence, he was rightfully moved to No.4, but lasted just 7 balls. Hopefully, he can do a lot better in the second innings. 

We need Sehwag and Jaffer to get a good opening partnership and Dravid to hold the middle order together. I am not under any false pretence that India will save this game – all I want them to do is to put up a good fight and play for some pride.

-Mahesh-

Ten tabloid headlines for India’s failure!

1. Match fixing takes over again

2. Prior information on pitch influences Tendulkar pulling out.

3. Dhiraj Parsana’s revenge for not being considered as India’s left arm spinner

4. Gary Kirsten reveals team weaknesses to country men

5. Paddy Upton hypnotizes the Indian batsmen to a depressed state

6. Irfan Pathan is threatened by the hindu fundamentalists in Gujarat, affects Indian team morale. 

7. The IPL bugle sounded, Indians ready for competition

8. Too much infighting within the team – seniors vs. juniors, Harbhajan vs. Sreesanth, Sreesanth vs. Dravid, Sreesanth vs. Sreesanth, Yuvraj vs. Deepika and on and on.

9. India fell short of a good score of around 400 by one innings, no one scored 300 this time.

10. People complained of the Chennai test as slow death, Indians demonstrate instantaneous death!

 – Srikanth