Tag Archives: Asia Cup

Deserving the Asia Cup

It was a deserving day of cricket. But only Bangladesh deserved to win the finals. Even before players could wake up. Everybody in the world was sure that Bangladesh will win the Asia Cup, because, well, they deserved it, making the whole point of playing the game an utter waste of time. But ah well, some ICC Rule number 137897.124.124.124.623.5.32.5.2 section a. said that it deserves to be played.

So, if Holy Fans of The Holy Game were to have it, the Holy Finals would…errr…should have panned out, deserving-ly, like this –

Toss – The match referee flips the coin, Misbah calls “heads”, and the referee catches the coin, puts it in the pocket and shrugs to Misbah, “Hey, Bangladesh deserves to win the toss, mate.”

So, Bangladesh wins the toss and they opt to bowl. They deserve to.

Hafeez and Jamshed walk out to open, and Athar Ali Khan already has uttered “My Word” 47 times. That’s alright. He deserves to do that.

Mashrafe Mortaza will open the bowling for Bangladesh. Wonderful bowler. Destroys India, does nothing more than that. Has more injuries than wickets. And Bangladeshi crowd goes berserk when he gets dropped for non-performance or even injury. That candidate always deserves a spot in the team.

So, here he comes, bustling like a train, and it’s a wide to start the innings. Wide down the leg side, and Mushfiq had to jump like a toad to pouch that one. But don’t worry, the umpire doesn’t signal a wide. Mashrafe has been through a lot. He deserves a good first ball.

A few overs go by, in which the other fast bowler, whose name I don’t remember now, and as I deserve for that, I get flak for forgetting, gets two wickets. One because the umpire gave an lbw when the ball seemed away and comfortably went  to the keeper’s hands. But, well, that ball deserved an LBW to its credit. And the other wicket was because Hafeez thought the bowler should deserve another wicket for being a fast bowler on the Bangladeshi cricket team. So, he shoulders arms and lets the ball come and hit his stumps. Bangladeshi Polka Dots dressed fans are ecstatic. Hafeez tells them that they deserve to be happy, just like Sacramento Kings’ fans must be.

Also, Mr My Word and Mr Safety are replaced by Mr Running The First One Hard (imagine saying hard in #huan tone) and Mr Just 65 Runs To Go For The Century.

Pakistan are 143/3 after 32 overs. They now decide that the Bangladeshi bowlers deserve to have done better. so, Pakistan’s score is revised to 123/4. Shakib is a wonderful bowler. My word. Also, Mahudullah, Suhrawadi Shuvo, Abdur Razzak and the other 17 spinners in the side. So, they all deserve to see a better score on that big screen.

Pakistan will not get their batting powerplay. Come on… Why should they? They don’t deserve to hit more runs.

And Afridi deserves to be out. So, the bowler bowls the ball, keeper collects it, returns it to the bowler and the bowler dismantles the bails. And appeals. All batsmen are inside their respective creases. But, Bangladesh deserve to get rid of Afridi early. So, Afridi is out. Striker standing inside the batting crease is run out at the non-striker end. Bangladesh deserve to make history.

Shakib al Hasan finishes with figures of 10-1-42-2. Wonderful bowling. He deserves some more overs. So, he gets to bowl 4 more overs. Gets 2 more wickets at the expense of just 8 runs. My Word.

Pakistan end their innings at 254/8, after some rocking and rolling smashing hits from Misbah and Umar Gul. Fans did not expect this, so they weren’t sure if they deserved it or not. So, they were granted the permission to score freely.

Oxford dictionary meanwhile announce that they decided to award the word “Myword” to Athar Ali Khan. Their press release said “He deserves to have a word of his own, so he doesn’t abuse other words.”

Tournament organizers decide that Bangladesh deserve another win in the tournament. So, they toggle the result of the tournament opener and award Bangladesh with the win over Pakistan in the opener. The organizer said “Nasir Jamshed did not deserve to play that kind of innings.” So, Bangladesh have topped the league table.

There is no rain, but the D/L method score will be applied on the Pakistani Score. D/L – Deserve to Lose. So, the target for Bangladesh is not a paltry 132 runs in the whole 50 overs.

Umar Gul will open the attack. And sends in a toe crushing yorker at Tamim Iqbal, who totally misses the ball trying to play it across the line, and the middle and leg stump for the same angle that Afridi forms with his arms while celebrating a wicket. The umpire then goes to Gul and says, “Hey, Tamim deserves a second change.” And, Tamim can stay.

But Gul manages to remove Tamim Iqbal three more times in the same over, and Tamim had to leave. Even some Bangladeshi fans were irritated and said that Tamim doesn’t deserve another chance. Pakistan have made a breakthrough. They had to go back and close the flood gates thrice in the same over, but they can finally leave it open.

Afridi comes in to bowl along with Ajmal. Afridi has been removed off the attack because of moral policing. People complained that he is only 18 years of age and has been faking an increase in age for the last 13 years. So, he doesn’t deserve to bowl. And yes, as is the general opinion amongst everybody, Ajmal doesn’t deserve to bowl at all.

So, Pakistan are reduced to bowling out the overs with Gul, Hafeez, Cheema, Younis Khan and Hammad Azam. In spite of Bangladesh losing wickets now and then, they get some runs on the board through Shakib al Hasan’s bat. He deserves to be the number one all-rounder in the whole universe. Martians deserve to immortalize Shakib by planting a statue of his when they visit Saturn next.

It all comes down to the last over. Cheema has to bowl to Shakib and Shahadat Hossain. Bangladesh need 9 off the last over, only 2 wickets remain. How it came this close is anybody’s guess. You deserve to make a guess, you have a beautiful mind. It’s alright if you didn’t make it to IIT and then into IIM and earned $$$$$$$$$$$ in business. But you deserve to make a guess.

Cheema runs in, the 33-year-old coach bustling in with enthusiasm….and suddenly, the umpire stops Cheema on his tracks, asks for the ball, pockets the ball, tips the bail off the stump and declares “Bangladesh, we all know you deserve to win this. you win.”

And Yes. Bangladesh have won the Asia Cup. Congratulations, Bangladesh. Shakib deserved and got the Man Of The Final Over, Man Of  The Match, (and while Shakib goes to collect his man Of The Series Award, LSK exclaims “He is running the first one haaaard”), Man Of The Series, and also in advance, the man Of The World Cup and The Best All Rounder Award for the years 2012 to 2018.

Also, congratulations Sri Lanka on winning last year’s World Cup. You deserved it. We were just trolling you by winning it for ourselves. We are selfish like that – winning World Cups and all.

– Bagrat

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Carrom bowler blows India…

The Asia Cup final was dominated by two Sri Lankan performers: One who has been around for a long time (Sanath Jayasuriya) and another who has potential to be around for a long time (Ajanta Mendis). It also marked an interesting moment when one heralded Sri Lankan freak-genius bowler (Muthiah Muralidharan) can start to think about stepping aside as another potential Sri Lankan freak-genius (Ajanta Mendis) steps up to the mark.

As a Team India fan, I was disappointed to see India surrender meekly. But as a fan of world cricket, I was certainly excited to see this 23-year old freak bowler, Ajanta Mendis, zip, zoot, scoot, shoot, flick and slap the ball at and mesmerize the Indian batsmen! None of them had much of an idea of what he was actually doing with the ball. Several of them caught the rabbits-in-headlights disease and a few more caught the brain-fry disease. The end result was that Sri Lanka won the Asia Cup by 100 runs with about 15 overs still left in the game!

At the start, I felt that M. S. Dhoni had made two mistakes — going in with only 4 bowlers and electing to bowl first. Soon enough, I felt that Sri Lanka had blown a perfect opportunity by being 66-4 before anyone could say “Jack Robinson”! Ishant Sharma was bowling well, but not that stunningly on a flat pitch to suggest a 66-4 scoreline! Then we were treated to the Sanath Jayasuriya show! It was a spectacular show with shots all around the park. Although Irfan Pathan bowled in a manner that suggested that he was, once again, losing his grip on his pace as well as his rhythm, and although one felt that R. P. Singh was bowling like a rich man who had suddenly become much richer through an unexpected inheritance, one felt that Sri Lanka were about 30 runs light.

We then had the awesome Virender Sehwag show that got India off to a screamer. He had 60 runs off an India total of 76 in the 9th over. Mahela Jayawardane, the Sri Lankan captain, was desperate at that point in time it seemed. It was a dice-throw, one felt. But then he perhaps knew a thing or two that the rest of us did not know! He had rested Ajanta Mendis from India’s last game against Sri Lanka! India did not get to “see” this freak bowler.

And so, he came on in the 10th over inside the first power play and changed the structure, nature and complexion of the game. He induced a brain fuse in Virender Sehwag (stumped) and clean bowled Yuvraj Singh who did not have a clue. Instead of defending a straight ball spat out from the front of the young magician’s hands, Yuvraj Singh tried an ugly hoik, only to be embarrassingly bowled! Suresh Raina said he could better Yuvraj Singh’s effort! He too was bowled! And thus the procession commenced. M. S. Dhoni hung on, but it was more grit than capability that kept him there! None of the India bats were able to pick Ajanta Mendis.

A future star was born!

Ajanta Mendis runs straight and bowls from close to the stumps. His bounding run up is similar to a Stuart McGill run up. From close to the stumps, he brings his right arm straight up by his right ear and then performs his “Carrom Board” magic.

It appears as if his ring-finger tucked in behind the ball. His index finger and middle-finger grip the ball in the usual manner of a split-finger leg-spin bowler a la Anil Kumble. This allows him to bowl the leg-spinner and also a “carrom board flick-spit ball” (the best way I can decribe it) with the same action! The “carrom board” flick-spit ball arrives more rapidly and skids on after pitching in the time-honoured traditions of tennis-ball bowlers in the maidans of the sub-continent. However, with the same action, he is also able to bowl the googly-spit ball too!

It will be interesting to see how Ajanta Mendis will travel. As Osman Samiuddin says, the video analysts will have gathered gigabytes of video data to analyse. I am sure he will be analysed to death. But suffice to say that, despite India’s loss, it warmed the cockles of my heart to realise that I had witnessed the potential birth of a future star bowler.

— Mohan

It is an India Vs Sri Lanka Final…

India beat Sri Lanka in another high-scoring encounter at Karachi to storm into the Asia Cup Finals. The hosts, Pakistan, will be left with much to ponder and dissect. Already there is talk of Pakistan sacking Geoff Lawson as coach!

This tournament has been a bowlers’ nightmare. Scores of 300 are being regularly hacked down with several overs to spare. So also in last nights’ game. Despite the early loss of the in-form and dangerous Kumar Sangakkara and despite Sanath Jayasuriya’s departure before much serious damage could be inflicted, Sri Lanka got to a score of 308-8 in their 50 overs. Like India had the day before, the Sri Lankan innings never quite took off. Everytime the batsmen threatened to go into orbit speed, India would take a wicket and peg those ambitions down. Not that the bowling or fielding was good, mind you! It is just that the Sri Lankan batsmen could not quite take off. Just when Jayasuriya seemed set, he departed. Similarly Mahela Jayawardena, Kapugedera, Chamara Silva and Tilakaratne Dilshan. They never quite got going. In the end, 308 was, one felt, about 20 runs short.

The Indian fielding effort was lazy. Pragyan Ojha let one go through his legs although he did dive smartly in the middle overs to convert a sure boundary into a two. Ishant Sharma messed up a few on the boundary ropes! R. P. Singh had a wild throw that resulted in over-throws. Sehwag was late in getting a dive in. Even Suresh Raina messed up a few dives and a few throws. Yuvraj Singh, however, remains a serious concern on the field. It is not as if he has become slower in the field. He has. It seems as though his dodgy knee prevents him from being totally alive in the field. This condition enabled him to make an absolute dogs’ breakfast of a Sanath Jayasuria chance at mid-on early in the piece! This must be a concern for the team management. A fit-and-fighting Yuvraj Singh is an asset to the team.

When batting, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir started as though they were either at a hit-and-giggle cricket-camp or, at best, the nets! They laughed and joked their way to 92 off 11 overs before Sehwag tried a cute paddle-scoop, only to flush the ball down Dilhara Fernando’s throat! They batted in a cavalier manner with gay abandon. Gautam Gambhir has grown in confidence as an impact player. And with Sehwag, he is a more complete player, one feels. They have a very good understanding between themselves and this shows in the way they play their cricket. Although Suresh Raina looked a bit shaky early on, he too settled down to play smart cricket. Against the run of play, it seemed, Gambhir got out to Muthiah Muralidharan’s second over.

Dhoni then made a bold move. He promoted himself at 2-down! I thought this was a smart move. Both he and Suresh Raina had played the dangerous Muralidharan in the nets in the IPL — all three played for Chennai SuperKings. Moreover, Yuvraj Singh is not that comfortable, one feels, taking guard against an in-form and ticking Muralidharan. So the decision to elevate himself in the batting order showed both courage as well as flexibility on the part of Dhoni.

Nearly 100 runs later, when the match was almost sealed and in the bag, both Raina and Dhoni got out. But Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Shrama carried India home with 3 overs to spare! The 30 runs that Sri Lanka could not score mattered in the end.

The final is between the two best teams in the tournament.

India took Pragyan Ojha instead of Piyush Chawla. This move paid off. Ojha bowled better than Chawla, in my view. India also played R. P. Singh instead of Yusuf Pathan. They would be tempted to stick with the same team for the final.

– Mohan

Team India for Asia Cup game against Pakistan

After a mid-innings sputter, India cruised home to record a facile victory over Hong Kong in its Asia Cup opener. The business end commences today with a game againts hosts Pakistan.

Gambhir, Sehwag, Raina, Dhoni, Chawla, Praveen Kumar and R. P. Singh had good outings against Hong Kong. Yusuf Pathan and Robin Uthappa did not get an opportunity to do much! Irfan Pathan will probably get back into the side provided his side-strain is no longer restricting his bowling.

Rohit Sharma had an ordinary game against Hong Kong and apparently looked listless in his 29-ball-11-run essay.

The India side is likely to be:

Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Robin Uthappa (or Yusuf Pathan), Irfan Pathan, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, RP Singh, Ishant Sharma

— Mohan

Team for Asia Cup Hong Kong game

With a view to the long season of relentless cricket ahead, it would be nice if the team could rest some key players for the game against Hong Kong today (Wed 25 June) in India’s opener in the Asia Cup 2008. Irfan Pathan will be rested because he appears to be carrying a side-strain into the tournament. However, I do believe that a few other players ought to be rested including captain M. S. Dhoni! Radical, I know, but with Dhoni playing in both Tests as well as ODIs and Twenty20’s, his body has been taking a fair pounding in recent months. So much so that in several of Chennai’s T20 games in the IPL, he played but did not keep wickets!

With the amount of cricket that is being played these days, the main workload impact would be on the pace bowlers. Fortunately, India does have a bench strength in this department and it would be a good idea to test this out in games against the likes of Hong Kong!

Unfortunately, the team only has M. S. Dhoni as wicketkeeper. It would be interesting to throw Robin Unthappa in as ‘keeper and see how he goes — after all, he did start his career as a useful ‘keeper.

In the Kitply Cup finals against Pakistan, I thought Dhoni got his knickers in an awful twist through his obsession with left-right combinations. This made him switch batting positions of players with not much thought other than the left-right design. This policy ought to be junked in preference for a batting order that is dictated by the match-situation. All pre-match indications are that that would indeed be the case.

My team for the Hong Kong match would, therefore, be:

V Sehwag
G Gambhir
SK Raina
RG Sharma
Yuvraj Singh (captain)
RV Uthappa (‘keeper)
YK Pathan
PP Chawla
P Kumar
M Gony
RP Singh
12th man: PP Ojha

This will give Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma and M. S. Dhoni a rest.

However, this may be a bridge too far for the Indians who may, I think, go with M. S. Dhoni as ‘keeper for the game.

— Mohan