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Wednesday, March 23, 2011


LOW SCORER! - A highly anticipated clash between the two big forces of cricket turned out to be astoundingly low scoring as the Englishmen were bowled out for 171. The Proteas must have been hoping for a cakewalk in the dressing room but the Englishmen had different ideas! Bowling out the Proteas for just 165 meant England won by 6 runs and managed to keep themselves alive in the tournament. Imran Tahir emerged to be the surprise package as he cleaned the English tail cheaply and claimed 4 wickets for just 38 runs.

UNLIKELY BUT TRUE! - Most cricket fans would have expected the Pakistanis to give a real hard time to the Kiwis in the 24th clash of the tournament, especially considering the conditions in which the match was being played. But Pakistan, known for its inconsistent performances, was at its illusionist best as Kiwis won the match comprehensively by a huge margin of 110 runs in what turned out to be a completely one sided affair. Ross Taylor was the main protagonist who engineered this thrashing as he played an amazing and incredible knock of 131 in just 124 deliveries, studded with 8 boundaries and 7 sixes to push NZ beyond 300 and bat Pakistan out of the game.

THE SLEEPING LION! - Perhaps the weakest team in the tournament, Netherlands would have hardly expected to give Indians some jitters down their spine! But that's what happened in their fixture as India once again decided to just step over the line instead of racing towards it. Whether it was a plan to keep themselves subdued in the initial phases of the tournament to shed off the limelight or were the Indians actually struggling to make an impact is anybody's guess. Having bowled out Netherlands for a meager 189, India struggled to cross the target loosing 5 wickets in the process.The only positive sign for them was that it was Yuvraj Singh who spent some valuable time in the middle and saw them through.

CHECKMATE AT START! - In a complete reversal to the India-Netherlands game, Sri Lanka crushed Zimbabweans as they romped home with a 139 runs victory. Openers Tharanga and Dishan were involved in a mammoth opening partnership of 282 runs as they made short work of the Zimbabwean bowling attack, imposing a century each. Even though the Zimbabwean openers lead the fightback with a century opening stand, it was scripted to be Dilshan's day as he bagged incredulous bowling figures of - 3-1-4-4 !

POLLARD ANNOUNCES HIMSELF! - One of the better matches of tournament's league stages saw Pollard discovering his best. In a stunning, dazzling and devastating batting performance, he brushed off Ireland by scoring a 55 ball 94, hitting five sparkling sixes. Another positive for the Windies was that Devon Smith found some form as he paved his way to a sensible century. Ed Joyce and GC Wilson lead the Irish reply and kept their team in the hunt before the lower order crumbled and the Windies won by 44 runs.

BUNNY OF THE LESSER KNOWN! - In an unexpected turnaround of events in the 28th league match of the tournament, England lost to Bangladesh in what came to be their second loss to the so called minnows! After the shameful defeat against Ireland, England pounced back to defeat South Africa in a low scoring match only to follow it up by a "minnowic" performance against the co-hosts. Having lost their batting talisman, Kevin Peterson to an injury before the match, England failed to defend 225 (a low total by their standards) as Bangladesh hauled the target in 49 overs.

29 FOR 9!! -  In a pathetic and grim batting display, after having lost 7 wickets for just 33 runs against England, India lost their last 9 wickets for a meager 29 runs against the Proteas. In a complete failure to capitalize on the solid platform laid down by the master and the Delhi-ites (Sehwag and Gambhir), the Indian middle and lower order ran through the motions to the utter bewilderment of the fans as India once again failed to play 50 overs and were restricted under 300 by the all fired up Dale Steyn.

Much was to follow as Dhoni had already decided to keep things interesting by selecting three seamers and a spinner instead of two each.Illogical bowling changes along with some nonsensical thinking on the part of the captain meant South Africans were always in the hunt. The brave efforts of Zaheer Khan, the go-to-man, and Harbhajan Singh were dusted by the Proteas spin pair of Botha and Peterson as they saw their team through by scoring at more than ten an over in the last three.

The only consolidation for the Indian fans was the masterful and artistic batting display by their beloved maestro, who cracked his 99th international century!

THE SAVIOR! - Avoiding another upset in the Group B, JP Duminy rescued the Proteas with a brilliantly crafted innings of 99. Duminy pulled his team out of the shambles after the Proteas were in a real soup at 117 for 5 at one stage. In a delightful lesson of how to anchor an innings, Duminy took Proteas to a respectful 272 while falling one short of his hundred. The bowlers, led by Morne Morkel ensured no further hiccups as South Africa cruised to a 131 runs victory.

OPENERS SHINE! - In what would come as a relief for their fans, the Aussie openers finally found some form as they made short work of the Canadian total of 212. The duo of Watson and Haddin, who came under severe scrutiny for their ultra slow start against Zimbabwe in the earlier league match,stringed together a 182 run partnership to bat Canada out of the game. The very fact the a team like Canada was able to bat out nearly 46 overs and cross the 200 run mark would have pricked R.Ponting right in his heart. Australia also have a lot to worry in the batting department as Ponting hardly seems to be a batsman these days!

OUT WITH A BANG! - Whatever the result of the tournament, the team that has impressed the maximum with its vast strides in improving the quality of cricket is none other then the "associate" nation, Ireland. The very belief that they could pull off a surprise and perform, the passion they reserve for the game, the commitment and sense of enjoyment in the field and the very attitude towards the game is what has come to define these free spirits on the cricket field.

Chasing a highly competitive 306 posted by Netherlands, Ireland overhauled the target in a "Stirling" performance! The very desire to perform and win in such a manner even though knowing that the result of this battle is not going to have an effect on the outcome of the war is quite appreciable.Ireland bow out of the tournament in style with every true cricket fan bowing to them.

RJ PETERSON - This cricketer from South Africa has been a revelation, both with the bat and the ball. Few would have expected Peterson to make such an impact as he has done in this tournament. Scoring quickly lower down the order and following it up with useful spells of miserly bowling along with grabbing wickets has meant that he has turned out to be an integral part of his team and one of the best bowlers in the tournament with 14 wickets in his kitty. In his last league match of the tournament, Peterson scored a quickfire 22 off 9 balls before blowing away the co-hosts Bangladesh by returning with figures of - 7-3-12-4 handing his team a huge and dominating 206 runs victory.

UV IS BACK AND THE TREND CONTINUES! - Three half centuries and a century in six matches. Add to it the 9 wickets in match winning bowling performances. Yuvraj Singh has certainly proved his worth in the Indian side. Whether he is subdued because of the criticism or has he actually started to curb his instincts and play according to situation and team demands is anybody's guess but no one can take from him the vital role he has played in deciding India's fortunes in this tournament so far.

Whereas the other Indian batsman continued their shoddy and inconsistent performance, Yuvraj came up with an uncharacteristically well crafted and a mature innings of 113 off 123 balls that saw India post a competitive total of 268 on the board.As if he just needed a shake to set things in order, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was at his captaincy best after his unimaginable outing in the previous match. Coupled with the amazing and never ending efforts of Zaheer Khan, the go-to-man for the Indians as far as the bowling is concerned, India managed to skittle out West Indies for 188 and clinch victory in their last league match.

However, th co-host have a lot to worry about a new trend they seem to be developing! 33 for 7, 29 for 9 and now 51 for 7! These are the batting performances of the Indian team after a solid platform was laid down by the top order.If the Indian team has to live up to the dream of a billion people, they have to apply themselves and execute their plans in a far better way as now, there is no way other than winning as the tournament enters the knockout stage.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


World Cup is almost half way through the league stages and cricket world has already been treated to some amazing and memorable play! Here are some of the highlights, the highs and lows of this World Cup so far.One wishes the tournament performance charts extrapolate and that the fans are left spell bound by some more memorable moments :-

THE MARAUDER - First century of the tournament came off the flashing blade of Virender Sehwag as Bangladeshies were left ball watching! A fabulous mix of unbelievably subtle aggression and pleasing application saw Sehwag creating an epic as he smacked 175 off 140 deliveries flecked with 14 boundaries and 5 sixes.Once he got India off to a flier, he settled down with Kohli, dealing in singles in the middle of the innings.There was no stopping him once India took the batting powerplay and even as he fought cramps, he batted Bangladesh out of the game.


TWO TEN WICKET WINS! - The black caps completely dogged the fixtures against the minnows, Kenya and Zimbabwe, as they handsomely chased the meagre totals of 70 and 163 respectively. Cricket is a funny game and even though one expects the team batting second to win such games comfortably, its not always with such ease that the toal is overhauled. Yet, with NZ, one can never be sure of such a performance and they shall do well to continue this good work against better oppositions instead of playing against them like minnows themselves.

UNNATURAL! - 29 off 66 balls! By any means, this is an exceedingly slow start for a batsman in one day cricket, especially if the batsman is an Australian. Add to that the weak opposition in Zimbabwe that Australia faced, many eye brows were raised on this extra sedate start from Brad Haddin.Though ICC anti corruption unit is looking into the matter, from the cricketing point of view, such a start hardly made any logic. Given the fact that the tournament is being held in the sub continent, where runs can be as easy to find as sipping through a cup of coffee, this slow start appeared to be nonsensical.

RN TEN DOESCHATE - Not many cricket fans would have known this Dutch player before he struck a welcome century against England. Even as his teammates spooned catches, many of which were spilled by the buttery hands of Englishmen, Doeschate made a name for himself with a chanceless and impressive 119 0ff 110, smacking 9 fours and 3 sixes.

BATSMAN TURNED BOWLER -         8-3-16-5  against Kenya
                                                                   10-0-34-4 against Sri Lanka
                                                                   10-0-23-5 against Canada

A look at these bowling figures is bound to leave most cricket fans bewitched. Considering the fact that the last two of them came in tight situations, handing his team the victory, the significances of these achievements is increased manifold. Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan captain for the World Cup, has already contributed much to the consistent run of his team so far in the tournament. Known to hit the ball a mile when on song, a win by 11 runs against Sri Lanka and an embarassment saving victory against Canada by 46 runs were largely a result of Afridi's exploits with the ball.

THE MAESTRO, THE LONER AND A TIE! - Grace, elegance, subtlety, commitment and application personified! In one word, a masterful batting display by Sachin Tendulkar saw India post a commanding total of 338 against England.A brilliant mix of aggression and the longing to stay till the end is what has come to characterize the legend off late and he paved his way to his first century of this tournament as he scored 120 off 115 balls, thwacking 10 fours and 5 sixes.

The game was far from over as Andrew Strauss and the Indian bowlers decided to give the fans their money's worth! Even though others fell around him (except Ian Bell), Andrew Strauss engineered a lone battle, proving to be the only and the most prickly thorn in India's quest of a second victory in as many matches. A well grafted and a mammoth 158 off 145 deliveries, sparkled with 18 fours and a six meant England were always in the hunt and infact, were voyaging comfortably before a marvelous bowling burst from Zaheer.

A fantastic chase against the home side in alien conditions would certainly have boosted the morale of every Englishmen.The match ended in a tie even though England would consider themselves the psychological winners.

A DOUBLE BOMBARDMENT! - Not many hit the ball as effortlessly and cleanly as this Giant from West Indies does! In almost a reversal show to that of Brad Haddin's against Zimbabwe, Keiron Pollard decided to bombard Netherlands as he breezed his way to 60 off just 27 deliveries in a stunning display of merciless batting. Off late, West Indies has put up a miserable show in all the forms of cricket. But thanks to players like Pollard and Gayle, the legacy of the 1980's is atleast breathing if not rocking the cricket world!

Later, Kemar Roach decided to come into his own as he captured the first hat-trick of the tournament, increasing the misery of the Dustch manifold. 8.3-0-27-6 were the bowling figures Roach ended with after his annihilation of the Netherlands.

FAST BOWLERS CUP?? - In a complete turnaround of what everyone expected of the tournament played in the subcontinent, Lasith Malinga grabbed the second hat-trick the very next day after Kemar Roach's exploits in a ravishing and dazzling display of fast bowling. Producing yorkers at will, Malinga destroyed the Kenyan batting, ending up with figures reading 7.4-0-38-6! After Zaheer almost won the game for India against England and Roach teared through the Dutsch batting line up, this performance from Malinga would have lead everyone into believing this to be Bowlers Cup!

PURE MAGIC! - In what shall be remembered as one of the greatest matches in the world cup history ever, Ireland beat England much to the rejoice of the cricket world adding some flair and interest to the initial stages of the tournament. In a completely unbelievable turnaround, Ireland scaled up the huge total put up by England to create history by chasing down the highest ever total in World Cup history.

KJ O'Brien was the soul of this chase as he hit a thoroughly sensational, scintillating and captivating century, the fastest of the World cup history, to give his team a dream victory.Even as the lower order rallied, almost nervelessly, around the big man, Brien smacked the Enlgish bowlers all around the park in an excellent show of  his range of shots.113 off 63 balls, studded with 13 fours and 6 sixes meant that Irish team won even though being 5 down for 111 at one stage, chasing a mamoth 328.One hopes that teams like Ireland continue to entertain and perform in a similar manner in future as well. They might well have set an example and opened the lock on the door to the recognition of the hidden talents for other teams considered minnows as well.50 over cricket was provided a new life!

POWERPLAY! - Netherlands were once again at the recieving end as South Africa cruised to a massive victory in their limited overs fixture. JP Duminy found his best as he blasted a 15 ball 40 studded with 2 fours and 4 sixes propelling the Proteas score to just over 350, giving them that added advantage of 20-30 runs (as if they needed any!)

OUT OF ORDER! - Co-hosts Bangladesh surprised one and all with their dismal all round play against the West Indies in th 19th match of the tournament.West Indies cake walked through the Bangladeshi batting lineup as the latter were bundled out for a meagre 58, a target West Indies overhauled without much fuss.
Such was the effect of this saddening show that the discipline barriers of the Bangladeshi fans were breached and enraged, they stones the team buses of both the teams and also threw placards and their own players.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Though homo sapiens cannot predict the future, following are some of the players who have been at the heart of cricket world, have amazed and enchanted us with their talent and skill, have created their own space in cricket history, have served their countries as national players to the best of their abilities (well, the above applies to most of them! :P) and may be playing their last world cup, all the more reason not to miss this world cup!

SACHIN TENDULKAR - What more can be said of this living legend! What more may i write that has already not been documented! Undoubtedly, the best cricketer to have set his feet on the cricket field ever, Sachin Tendulkar has been a symbol of excellence, passion, dedication, commitment and never say die attitude for over 21 years! His constant desire to keep on learning the art of cricket is amazing and his ever increasing thirst to play for India is unbelievable. Hugely popular in every part of the globe and highly respected among his contemporaries, Sachin has found a very special place in the hearts of millions of cricket fans.

No cricketer has ever brought so much to the game as the Maestro. To name a few, the paddle sweep, the upper cut to fast bowlers like Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson, the glorious and spell bounding extra cover drives, teaching Harbhajan "the doosra", teaching Sreesanth how to control swing and teaching Yuvraj how to play Mendis! This might be his last world cup. Cricket shall never be the same and no ball shall ever be played in the same manner. A reason good enough to follow this world cup.

JACQUES KALLIS - The best all rounder in the modern era, Kallis has seen it all in his long and amazing career. Few bring to the cricket field the grace, elegance and calm that he does. A team man to the core, Kallis has always put team ahead of personal goals and thats the only way he knows to play cricket.Great hands in slips, a rock solid technique backed up by the ability to smash the bowlers all around the park and the ability to provide crucial breakthroughs with the ball by pace, swing and bounce make him an invaluable asset to the team. At 35, he would surely be trying to win the tournament for South Africa as this world cup might be his last and he might as well be the last cricketer in the classical mould!

SHIVNARINE CHANDERPAUL - An unsual but original stance at the crease is what has come to represent this little cricketer off late, overshadowing many of the priceless qualities, envy of every budding cricketer. Playing his fifth and probably the last world cup, Shivnarine Chanderpaul has an unending supply of concentration and is impervious to distractions. In the times when the West Indian cricket has hit an all time low, he is one man who takes pride in representing his country, a thing he does with ample grace and discipline.When it comes to batting, few wickets are more highly prized than his.

MARK BOUCHER - Even though he has not been selected to play this world cup, this article shall be incomplete without mentioning about this machine! Nerves of steel and an uncanny ability to perform under pressure situations with the bat is what distinguished this wicketkeeper from his contemporaries. Unlike the dashing strokeplay of Adam Gilchrist or the raw power of Dhoni, Boucher's batting was characterized by patience and an ability to rally the troops even in the worst of situations. The responsibility to finsih the innings with a flair or to provide the finishing touches to a huge chase resided with him, a duty he fulfilled to the best of his abilities.

BRETT LEE - Pace, charisma and athleticism are few of the characteristics that define this genuine fast bowler from Australia. Hugely popular in India, Brett Lee has given nightmares to the best of batsmen of his era. A will to constantly improve resulted in bowling consistent lines and lengths at neck-break speeds! Rarely have fast bowlers been able to wean the long handle when required; Brett Lee brings a lot to the lower order and has rescued his team more often than not. Back in the Australian side after suffering from a few injuries as well as being ignored by the selectors and his captain, Brett Lee is a treat to watch.

- A left arm medium pacer, Zaheer has been the linchpin of India's pace attack for almost a decade. Known for his aggressive bowling in his early days, Zaheer has made a name for himself by mastering the art of swinging the cricket ball both ways. His bowling is as much of an art as it is economical. Shouldering the pace attack for his country almost single handily has resulted in the burden of huge expectations and a recurring bout of injuries. Probably playing his last world cup, Zaheer forms an integral part of the Indian team.

CHRIS GAYLE - No one treats the bowlers with more disdain than this giant from West Indies! One of the hardest hitters of the cricket ball, Chris Gayle spells doom for the opposition when on song.Probably playing his last world cup, he, in his own words, would not like to wait for another four years to win the world cup! If Gayle fires, the world cup shall certainly be lit up by the spectacle of his fireworks!

SCOTT STYRIS - Another of the long list of all rounders from New Zeland, Scott styris is the mainstay of the Kiwis middle order and rallies the bowling attack in the middle overs. He provides stability to the Kiwi line up and add to that his immense experience, he is a valuable asset in their team. At 35, he is probably participating in his last world cup.

RICKY PONTING - Cricket, the Gentleman's game, shall be relieved the day Ponting hangs his boots! A selfish cricketer to the core, Ponting pretends to be oblivious to the strength of the opposition and has always failed to accept defeat gracefully. Three time Ashes loosing captain is a feat never achieved before by an Australian captain! Marked by over optimistic and mostly foolish attitude, Ponting is someone to watch out for if you hate him as much as he might be adding another feather in his cap by loosing the world cup as the captain.

MUTTIAH MURALITHARAN - Controversy and obliviousness are the two words that first strike the mind on thinking about the record holder of the most number of test wickets. Hardly a cricketer who has been a record holder has had such a lack of knowledge about the game or such a fear for the cricket ball as he displays on the field. Shouting at every instance of ball hitting the pad and running as if a bull dog was coming his way when thrown the ball to, Muralitharan is known for spinning the ball at any surface.

A deformed elbow is only a part of the story. Murali has exceptionally supple wrists and a shoulder that rotates as rapidly as a fast bowler's at the time of delivery. A combination of all these factors enables him to turn the ball far more than most orthodox finger-spinners!
On a the other side, Murali has displayed great grit and determination in facing all the controversies and not for once does the smile fades from his face, giving him the name of the smiling assasin! Somewhere, somehow, he is certainly able to represent cricket in terms of being a gentleman.

The best Zimbabwean spinner since Paul Strang, Ray Price offers a lot to Zimbabwe with his willy left arm spinners. An economical one day bowler, Price is bound to play a major role in Zimbabwe's campaign. Though he may be suffering from partial deafness due to meningitis in his early years, Zimbabwean cricket shall never be dumb when speaking about their prolific cricketer.