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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Deccan Chargers - Preview

Hi folks !! Good to see you after about a week. This is the penultimate piece in this series. We will be previewing the Deccan Chargers from Hyderabad. They were languishing in last place in the first season, but , they turned the tables splendidly in the second season to finish as champions.

The team is owned by news group Deccan Chronicle. The Group M India also has a 20% stake in this team. The team is captained by Adam Gilchrist ( one of the most sincere and dedicated cricketers I known - one who walks when he's out, irrespective of the position the team is in ). They also have a couple of new faces in the form of Kemar Roach of WI and Mitchell Marsh of Aus. Both are two young and bright prospects.

Let us now have a look at the Indians in this team : -

Ammana Ashish Reddy
Anirudh Singh
Arjun Yadav
Azhar Anjum Bilakhia
Bodapati Sumanth
Dwaraka Ravi Teja
Harmeet Singh
Laxman VVS
Mohnish Dinesh Mishra
Pragyan Ojha
Rahul Sharma
Rohit Sharma
Venugopal Rao
Tirumalasetti Suman
Rudra Pratap Singh

The team is full of youngsters from the catchment area. Bilakhia , Yadav , Suman and Ravi Teja are exciting prospects who have prospered in the domestic circuit. Rohit , VVS , Venu and Ojha bring in their experience having played at the highest level. RP and Ojha are two of the best bowlers at the national scene currently.

Let us now move on to the Foreign signings : -

Adam Gilchrist ( Captain )
Andrew Symonds
Chaminda Vaas
Dwayne Smith
Herschelle Gibbs
Kemar Roach
Mitchell Ross Marsh
Ryan Harris

The captain is the man to watch out for. He is a wily customer and might use tactics that will make an interesting case-study. Symmo and Gibbs are explosive players who can change the course of a match single-handedly. Roach is being touted as the next big speed gun. Marsh has had a good outing in the U-19 WC. Harris also has had a remarkable first few games vs Pak with two 5 fors.

On the whole , it is a team minus a few giants like Afridi and Styris but yet , it has the necessary arms to retain their well deserved title.

Coming this week , watch out for the concluding article of the series - CSK Preview.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Awkward incidents....

We all have awkward moments and here are two such moments in cricket.
Ever felt foolish after saying something, and the exact opposite happens the very next second?  Well Ranil Abeynayake has, and here's a video of him and Ganguly:

I think this is what you call a commentator's curse.

Have you ever had the awkward feeling after you said something by mistake?  Have you made your friends roll on the ground laughing to tears after some words slipped out accidentally and innocently?  Well we all have done that but probably not in front of cameras and the world audience.  George Bush was a master at it, but now he's got big time competition from Australian coach Tim Nielsen.  Take a look at his verbal goof-ups.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Simply Sachin

24th February 2010 will be a day etched in every cricket fan's memory.  It was the day when a certain 36 year old man, who stands just 5 feet 5 inches rewrote the record books yet again as he became the first man to score a double century in One Day Internationals [SCORECARD].

Sachin's double ton knocked the living day lights of the South African team.  South Africa needing 402 runs to stay alive in the series fell fast as they scored 248 runs before being bundled out handing India a 153 run victory and also an unassailable 2-0 lead in the ongoing Micromax ODI series.

There can be no adjectives to describe this work of genius, people call Sachin Tendulkar.  He is the leading run scorer in test and ODI, and has 93 centuries to his name.  He has played the game for 20 years, and still the same fire and commitment rages within him, as it did when he just entered International cricket.  If anything, yesterday's knock just reinforced the idea, that Sachin is simply the greatest man to have ever lifted the willow.

Sachin scored 200 (not out) runs in just 147 balls with 25 fours and 3 big hits over the rope at an astounding strike rate of 136.05.  That's one hell of a strike rate!  In other words, it's Sachin's second fastest ODI century.  It was a chanceless innings where Sachin was given no respite.  That's not all that makes this knock so special.  This innings was not an innings against an average team like Bangladesh, but rather against South Africa- a team that has alway been in the top three ranks as far as One Day Cricket is concerned.  The South African bowling is perhaps the world's best bowling at the moment.  Even with the absence of a quality spinner in their ranks, South Africa have a strong bowling line-up with the likes of Steyn, Langeveldt, and Parnell.

Tendulkar's pitch map

Sachin at the age of 36 when most sports people (except in golf) call it a day, came out wearing his helmet, gloves, and his leather strap pads on a sunny evening in Gawlior.  Tendulkar stayed at the crease from the very first ball till the very last ball of the innings.  That's 300 balls or 226 minutes, when he weaved magic in front of a spellbound audience in Gawlior and around the world.  And considering that it is an ODI, there is no respite or break, and Tendulkar had to scamper about at the age of 36 (He's almost 37).  Talk about high levels of fitness!  Sachin, after his mammoth innings came onto the field to field against the South Africans.  Age has no effect on this man, does it?

Tendulkar's innings in 25-ball intervals
Ball 1-2526-5051-7576-100101-125126-147
Runs scored333424264340

Sachin's innings was so well paced that if anyone wrote a book on 'How to pace your innings', they got a perfect example to cite.  Sachin was in an aggressive mood and he plundered his way to his fifty in quick time, but after that Sachin slowed down (he still scored at a run a ball though) and made steady progress towards his century.  Once Sachin had his ton under his belt, it was back to haunting the South African bowling as he sent the South African team on an hapless leather hunt.

Sachin's innings consisted of 25 hits to the fence.  The most in an ODI by a single player.  He also had 3 big sixes against his name.  Tendulkar scored 59% percentage of runs in boundaries!  The boundaries might have been small and the out field lightening fast, but still the ball must be put there, and put there he did.

Sachin is like wine.  The older it becomes, the more precious it is.  Let's all hope that this is just a start and that the legend of Sachin Tendulkar will climb many more Mount Everests in the world.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Congrats Sachin

History was made at Gwalior today when Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar became the first person to break the 200 barrier in One Day International as he scored 200* runs in just 147 balls.

I'm spellbound and speechless after watching Sachin's scintillating knock.   I am at a loss for words, and cannot possibly describe the innings by Sachin in words.  So I conclude this epic post by saying there is nothing left to say but,

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hanging up the whites

Australian pace supremo, Brett Lee has finally made the much speculated announcement and thereby hanging up his whites.  Brett Lee who is Australia's fourth highest wicket taker had suffered from a left fractured leg, which required two surgeries and a side strain that kept him sidelined for most part of 2009 announced that his body couldn't cope up with international test cricket and announced his retirememnt today. He told Channel Seven "I'm not 21, I'm 33; Trying to bowl at 150kph for five days is very hard on the body." This brings an end to the test career of one of Australia's most reputed pace bowler who rejuvenated the art of fast bowling in the modern era.

Brett 'Binga' Lee was a promising youngster from NSW who made a dashing entry into test cricket at the age of 23 when he took a five wicket haul in the first innings against the touring Indian team.   Lee ended the match with 7 wickets and helped Australia to a 180 run victory.  Brett Lee was a typical pace bowler, who had tons of pace, the perfect out-swinger, the vicious yorker, well disguised slower ball and plenty of raw energy combined with the will to succeed.  As his career progressed, Lee will add to his armoury a wicked off-cutter, a deadly bouncer and a nagging off-stump line (that he learned well from McGrath).  Added to this the young pacer from Wollongong, had a dashing smile, a perfect jump for joy celebration and a variety of hair styles, making him one of the most charismatic and sought after bowler.  He was the perfect pin up poster boy who never backed away from the lens.  He was also an ideal ambassador of the game, who played the game in the true spirit and was a gentleman who never found his shirt dirty with controversies.  He has also acted in a Bollywood movie and plays bass guitar for the band, 'Six and Out'.  Lee is a rock star cult figure, and a fast and furious quick bowler who made the world love and adore him.

Lee spent much of his days wearing the baggy green under the shadows of Glenn McGrath and Jason Gilespie, but still Lee managed to carve an image for himself and asserted himself as one of the best fast bowlers the world has seen.  Brett Lee has 310 test scalps in 76 matches.  He has an incredible bowling average of just over thirty (30.81) with ten five wicket hauls to his name.

Lee was a bowler that every captain would love to have.  A player who gave hundred percent in anything he did, he was more than a skipper could ask for.  He was extremely fit could bowl long spells and still sustain his high pace.  He ran in hard every time and was always sniffing around like a hunter near his prey's home.  He made the best of batsmen look very ordinary and was ruthless in cleaning the tail.  Lee was also a dynamite in the field who will dash some fifty meters and put in a dive just to save a single run - that too after just completing a long spell under hot and humid conditions.  Lee was that kind of bloke whose commitment to his team can never be questioned.  He was simple, modest and also very down to Earth kind of person who made plenty of friends all over the globe.  He was a highly respected player in the Aussie team who would voice his thoughts in team meetings without faltering and an equally respected opponent by those whom he played against.

Lee, took over the role of Australia's senior most bowler and also the role of their strike bowler after McGrath retired.  He was true mentor and lead the Aussie pace attack sans Mcgrath and Warne with great grit.  He made a mediocre Australian bowling bear some teeth and as the Australian dominance in test cricket started to wane, Lee showed that Australia was still a side that was to reckon with.  I feel that one of the reasons of Australia's loss of the Ashes last year was due to the absence of Lee.  After the retirements of many Australian greats, the team looked week, but nevertheless with Lee in the side, Australia were almost the same invincible group in the late nineties and early twenty first century, but without him, they were a very average side.  The current Aussie team has plenty of youngsters in the bowling line up and Lee was instrumental in bringing them and grooming them.

Sadly, this roaring warrior couldn't finish what would have been an outstanding career due to injuries, but having said that Lee will look back at his career and his journey with the baggy green as an highly satisfying one.  Shane Lee's brother will be missed sorely not only by the Australians but also by every cricket fan around the globe.

Note - I would like to thank Sarah Ansell for letting me use her photos.  All the above pictures were clicked by her.  You can find more pictures at SarahCanterbury.
Notes about the photos -
England Lions v Australia, Canterbury, 16 August 2009 © Sarah Ansell

Monday, February 22, 2010

What happened to the chokers tag?

Any cricket fan asked to describe South Africa will describe it in one single word - Chokers.  But in the recent past South Africa finally seem to have lived down the tag and have exorcised the ghost that has haunted them for so long.

True, South Africa drew the test series against India, when they should have easily have won it, but they didn't choke and give India the test crown.  Rather a team that was in turbulent waters with their coach leaving and their selection panel getting the boot, have done marvelously well.  They traveled to India, to play the top ranked test team in their own backyard and stretched them to every possible inch.  I've never seen a team perform such as South Africa did in the test against India in India in recent times.  They came so close to winning and will look back at this series with just enough satisfaction to say that the test series was a missed opportunity.

In the first ODI [SCORECARD], yesterday in Jaipur India did all the right things and had South Africa down on the rug with the visitors sitting at 180 for 7 still needing 119 runs at about 7 an over.  All their batsman sans Kallis were back in the hut and things looked like a easy win for India.  Fate had other things planned and in the end, India scrapped through to a win by a meager run.

After the top order sans Kallis (89) chocked chasing the Indian target of 299 runs, South Africa found able batsmen in Wayne Parnell and Dale Steyn (and help from Sreesanth - who finished the match giving 74 runs in just 9 overs).  The duo added 50 runs in just 32 balls as they brought their team just a whisker away from victory.  I think, gone are the days when South Africa lost by choking.  Now, South Africa are losing without even choking.  Finally they started playing cricket.

From an Indian perspective, India did well despite the absence of major players.  Jadeja played magnificently and Rajasthan Royals will dearly miss his services (He was banned by the IPL governing body).  Shane Warne  agrees with me on this issue.  Also Raina seems to have come of age and it's clear that he has worked on his weakness against the short deliveries.  It was great to see him pull and uppercut the bumpers thrown at him by the Saffers.

Indian fielding has finally improved and the dive from Sachin in the last over saving a boundary was what turned things in India's favor.  Though still not any where near the quality and level of South African fielding, it is making strides in the Indian side.

If the test series was anything but intense rivalry and close competition, then the ODI series has just magnified the intensity.  But isn't it queer that even under such intense pressure and competition, no player has crossed the line.  Truly, this is how cricket was meant to be played, when it was called as the gentleman's game.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Royal Challengers - Preview

Hi again friends.  Nice to meet you all so soon.  This week, we'll be previewing the Royal Challengers from Bangalore (Or Bengaluru - whichever you like  - A team which did brilliantly well in the second season to finish as runners-up after a dismal show in the first season. The team was branded by many as a team fit for only 'test matches' as it had players like Jaffer who are not the fastest of scorers. But, they proved all their critics wrong, not by words , but through their stupendous performance.

The team is owned by the charismatic Dr.Vijay Mallya , Chairman of the United Breweries group and Kingfisher Airlines.The team has seen three captains in all, Rahul 'The Wall' Dravid, Kevin Pietersen , and the current captain Anil 'Jumbo' Kumble. The team made two purchases in this year's IPL auction, Eoin Morgan ( England ) and Ashok Menaria , the current Indian U-19 captain. ( Dr.Mallya does have a liking for U-19 captains I guess- first Virat, now Ashok ). Morgan, termed by many as a T20 specialist , will surely be an asset to the team, considering the paltry sum at which Dr.Mallya has picked him up.

Let us now have a look at the members of this team. Firstly, the Indian members :

Anil Kumble ( Captain )
Rahul Dravid
Manish Pandey
Pankaj Singh
Balachandra Akhil
Wasim Jaffer
Ishank Jaggi
Jagadeesh Arunkumar
Saurabh Sushant Bandekar
Sridharan Sriram
Karan Vinod Sharma
Jitendra Patil
Praveen Kumar
Vinay Kumar
Virat Kohli
Sreevats Goswami
Bhuvanesh Kumar
Abhimanyu Mithun
K P Appanna
Robin Uthappa
Rajesh Bishnoi
Sunil Joshi
Udit Patel
Ashok Menaria
Bharat Chipli
C Muralidharen Gautam
Devraj Thyagaraj Patil
Rangaraj Suthesh

Long list isn't it ? Well, long or not - its a perfectly balanced side with loads of experience ( read Kumble, Dravid , Joshi ) and lots of Former and Current Indian National Team players like Uthappa , Sriram ( ICL Recruit ) , Kohli , Jaffer and Praveen , not to forget other talented youngsters like Manish , Mithun , Appanna etc. The bowling line-up is very formidable, made up of Vinay, Praveen , Akhil , Appanna and Mithun. The team also has many keeper options - Goswami , Uthappa and even Rahul can keep.

Lets now move on to the foreign players :

Jacques Kallis
Mark Boucher
Roelof van der Merwe
Dale Steyn
Cameron White
Steven Smith
Jessie Ryder
Ross Taylor
Kevin Pietersen
Eoin Morgan
Dillon du Preez

Almost all the foreign signings are players who can clear the boundaries with consummate ease. Ross , KP , Ryder ,Eoin , White can all hit the ball out of the park. Kallis and Merwe are useful all-rounders. Boucher can be handy when it comes to accelerating at the death. Steyn is a lethal weapon needing no introduction. Steven Smith - signed as a replacement for the injured Ryder and touted by the Aussie Media as the next Warnie will be a surprise weapon as not many of the opponent players would have played him before.

Overall, this is a fantastic team which will be determined to win the title this season - something they very nearly did last year.

Next week , the Deccan Chargers.

I must add this note here. While , collecting information to write this series of articles on the 8 teams, I had the privilege of visiting the sites of all the teams and I must mention that the RCB site is the one that is up-to-date. It also has many competions for its fans - something I didn't find so prominently in the sites of the other teams. Kudos to the Web Team of RCB!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

World Champions!

India went into the Kolkata test [SCORECARD] with plenty of problems.  They were thoroughly outplayed in Nagpur and looked hardly like the number one ranked test team.  The team battling with injuries to key batsmen and some uneventful selection decision left India in a must win; back against the wall situation.   A scenario where they had to win the Kolkata test if they were to remain the World Champions.  The start was uneventful even before a ball was bowled as lots of discussion went into the type of pitch prepared at the Eden Gardens.   Nature conspired against India and so did time, injuries and an unrelenting South African team lead by Hashim Amla.

The match started with South Africa winning the toss and elected to bat first on a beautiful track and replaying the Nagpur nightmare as they went into tea sitting pretty at 228 for just the loss of two wickets.  Things looked ominous.  But after tea, India struck back as Ishant, Zaheer and Harbhajan found themselves among the wickets.  The next day South Africa was dismissed for 296 runs and India piled on the runs on the backs of Sehwag and Tendulkar who carved themselves a well deserved century.  Day 3 was another Indian day as M.S. Dhoni and Kolkata's favorite son - V.V.S. Laxman pushed India forward and declared at a summit of 643 runs, leading the visitors by 347 runs.  Day four was a day when the rain God's played havoc on India and let only 35 odd overs to be bowled.  Nevertheless India chipped away three important wickets, leaving South Africa with seven wickets and 98 overs to survive on the final day.  Zaheer Khan was ruled out and India entered day three with just one pacer and two spinners.  The day slowly progressed as India found themselves into the South African tail just after lunch, but then Amla came up with a masterly rear-guard play with the tail and bought his team within striking distance of salvaging a draw, when another son of Eden Gardens picked the last South African wicket to complete one of India's hardest fought victories.

The pitch was just outstanding and encouraged a dual between the bat and ball.  It had good bounce, and didn't crumble like many pitches tend to do in India as the play progressed.  It had a slight grass cover and aided the seamers as well as the spinners.  All in all the curator produced one of the best test wickets seen in India in recent times.  Where else would you have gotten a result after scoring seven centuries?

India being so thoroughly outplayed in Nagpur made a comeback that was hampered by injuries and nature that is characteristic of a champion team.    The team showed great determination and grit and always had the self assurance that they were the best.  The confidence and the steely resolve was seen in the third session on the first day when India reduced a menacing looking South Africa from 228 for 2 to 266 for 9.

The Indian batting which crumbled like a pack of cards in Nagpur, came up with one of it's stellar performance.  Sachin and Sehwag set the match up well but it was Dhoni and Laxman who pushed home the advantage.

The Indian bowling also looks in great shape.  Zaheer has been on top form and is bowling better than he ever did.  Ishant looks to be making a comeback.  He is looking more focused and fired up and is ready to go at the batsman.  His spell on the first day was just amazing.  I feel Ishant will go a long way if he works on being consistent with his line and length.  Harbhajan's love affair with Eden Gardens continued as he showed his ability and talent to the world.  In the absence of Kumble, Harbhajan has gone off the radar, but if todays performance is anything to go by, then he's back in business.  Bhajji flighted the ball more this innings and used plenty of variations.  He spun the ball and looked to vary his pace.  The drifter into the left handers that got Duminy and Prince in the first innings is a perfect example of this.  Also Harbhajan now looks like a more relaxed bowler.  He is patient and takes his time setting a batsman up for his downfall.  Amit Mishra is a youngster who showed great heart in the match.  He picked up the wickets when India needed them and kept things bottled down well at one end.  Mishra looks to be a more compact bowler and I see him as the future leggie of Indian cricket.

South Africa had their moments, but none was bigger than Amla.  Hashim Amla batted for more than 1000 minutes in the series and scored 490 runs being dismissed only once in three innings.  He single handedly almost saw South Africa home.  Amla is a picture of concentration and focus.  He understands his game and knows very well his weakness and strengths and plays accordingly.  He is watchful and alert but at the same time isn't afraid to throw his bat at the bad deliveries.  Amla is South Africa's biggest gain from the series.  Averaging at 490 runs with three centuries in as many innings show that he is batting as well as ever has.  He also seems to be one of the few batsman who has settled well in Indian conditions.  Smith, Prince and Duminy have all failed miserably and this only elevates the value of Amla's runs.  He was in for a barge of short pitched deliveries, and some of the best spin in the world, and he braved them all and looked like a man who would be unsettled at nothing.  Amla, like Harbhajan raised his hand when his team needed some major contribution and did an extraordinary job.   This man is destined for greatness and belongs to the same league as Rahul Dravid, Steve Waugh, and Brian Lara.  It was a pity he couldn't take his team across the finishing line but after 494 runs, 1033 balls, 42 fours and 1 six later - Hashim can be incredibly proud, as he almost single-handedly took his team to the number one rank this series.

In the end the hungrier team won, and the mantle for test dominance rests with India, again.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Delhi Daredevils

Hi again Folks..!! We're meeting faster than usual this time round. :) I'll be previewing the Delhi Daredevils this week. They made it till the Semis first time. Cudn't reach the semis though. They'll be going great guns to set that record straight this time round i guess....

The team Delhi Daredevils, is owned by GMR group of Companies, very famous in our capital city for all the infrastructural work they've taken care of. The current captain of DD is Gautam Gambhir, the flamboyant Indian opener.They made a significant purchase in the form of young Wayne Parnell of South Africa. They also made exchanges during the tranfer window. They swapped Owais Shah for Moises Henriques.

Let us now have a look at the Indian players in this team -

Virender Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir ( Captain )
Amit Mishra
Dinesh Karthik
Aashish Nehra
Aaviskar Salvi
Rajat Bhatia
Mithun Manhas
Pradeep Sangwan
Umesh Yadav
Tejashwi Yadav
Yogesh Nagar

Do I actually have to talk about this opening pair.? ? ... No.. I don't think so.... No words can describe what Mr.Sehwag is capable of on his day. Probably the most feared batsman on earth at the moment. As for the others, 4 of them have played a lot for India and 2 others ( Rajat and Mithun ) are legends in the Delhi Ranji Team. Sangwan is another guy who is emerging now.

Let us now have a look at the foreign players contracted to this team -

Paul Collingwood
David Warner
Wayne Parnell
Tilakaratne Dilshan
Dirk Nannes
Andrew McDonald
Ferveez Maharoof
AB de Villiers
Daniel Vettori
Moises Henriques

Paul is one of the most dedicated team players around currently. Nannes is capable of bowling a nagging line. Dilshan and warner can be equally devastating as Viru and Dilshan is a good bowler as well. de Villiers has a century to his credit. And Parnell is another emerging prospect.

On the whole , it is a great team with ballistic players in its ranks. Sadly, Mcgrath is no more in this team. Still, they have the capacity to go the distance and come back victorius :)

Next week, I'll be previewing last year's runners- up RCB .

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Interblogactic IPL Battle

You Tube isn't the only new revolutionary idea in the IPL this year.  From the makers of many revolutionary ideas - Paddle Sweep comes the Interblogactic IPL Battle.  "What is it?", you ask.  It's a contest by eight bloggers, where we cover the IPL from each team's perspective, non stop.

It's a contest, more like a war, because as the teams fight it out on the field, we will be fighting it out here.  I am writing for Royal Challengers Bangalore and Club RCB has been kind enough to back me in this venture.  I'm fighting for my favorite team and can't wait to get the party on the road.  The other competitors are,

The rules are simple; really really simple.  The rules along with the points system can be found at PaddleSweep - Interblogatic IPL battle - Everything you need to know.

So from March 12th, there will no non-stop IPL action coverage on Poshin's World and also on the Royal Challengers Bangalore's official website, by yours truly.  So sit back and watch the battle as it plays out in front of you.

For any more information regarding the contest, see Paddle Sweep.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mumbai Indians - Preview

Hello again friends. This week , I'll be previewing the Mumbai Indians- the costliest team of the Indian Premier League. The team, as I'm sure we all know, is owned by the second richest man in India- Mr.Mukesh Ambani and his Reliance Industries Limited.

The team has had a decent run so far, but, I'm sure they'll agree with me if I state that they are yet to come out and deliver with full potential.The team is captained by our favorite Batting Maestro Sachin Tendulkar ( yes , I can hear you cheering ). In the auctions this year, they snapped up Kieron Pollard, the hottest buy of this season. They have also contracted quite a few players from the ICL.

Let us now have a look at the Indian players in this line up : -

Sachin Tendulkar ( Captain )
Harbhajan Singh
Zaheer Khan
Saurabh Tiwary
Rohan Raje
Ajinkya Rahane
Pinal Shah
Abhishek Nayar
Dhawal Kulkarni
Yogesh Takawale
Stuart Binny
Ibrahim Khaleel
TP Singh
Ambati Rayudu
Rajgopalan Satish
Jaydev Shah
Shikar Dhawan
Chetnya Nanda
Harshal Patel

This team has the world's best batsman, a man with 91 International centuries under his belt. Two of India's frontline bowlers are with this team. Abishek Nayar, Rahane, Kulkarni and Dhawan are all exciting young prospects who have done exceedingly well in the domestic circuit. In short, it was a power-packed team with enough firepower.

Let us now move on to the foreign players : -

Sanath Jayasuriya
Dilhara Fernando
Dwayne Bravo
Luke Ronchi
Lasith Malinga
Jean-Paul Duminy
Kyle Mills
Mohammad Ashraful
Graham Napier
Ryan McLaren
Kieron Pollard

Not a single name in this 11 here is an unknown name. Every single player is a well accomplished International or Domestic player. it just goes on to show the class present in this lineup. But, sadly, the team's performance, barring 4 or 5 matches, has been bad. The Sachin-Sanath combo at the top can be really dangerous when in form, but, unluckily for the team ( and luckily for the opponents ) it hasn't happened so far.

Overall, expectations are really sky high on this team. we only have to wait and watch if the fans are given their due or if it is the same story all over again.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Steyn Gun stains India

The world's number one test team trailing South Africa by 533 runs with ten wickets in hand at the start of day three found themselves in a spot of bother as they were 56 for 3 with the men in form, Sachin and Gambhir back in the hut, but thanks to a century partnership between Sehwag and debutant Badrinath. India managed a respectable 192 for 4 [SCORECARD] before Dale Steyn entered.  In the post tea session, South Africa unleashed their Steyn Gun, who took  5 wickets for just 3 runs in his spell after chai and bowled out India for 233 still trailing by 325.

Morale of the story?  That's some pretty good Tea!  Steyn finished with career best figures of 7-51 as India folded like a pack of cards and showed the world that without Dravid or Laxman, India is just a very average team.

Following on, India find themselves 66 for two and trailing by 259 runs.  An uphill task await for India, but there are a few things to be optimistic about.  Even though Cricinfo has written India off by giving it a 1.1% chance of winning this test and 16.1% of drawing it, I say things look brighter.

India is a team that believes that it is invincible at home, and will fight till the very last breath.  Also India is currently ranked number uno and know only too well that if they lose this series, it will be highly impossible to regain that place this year and in a two match series, there is not much time to play catch up.  Considering that South Africa got 9 of their 10 wickets with pacers, India will be banking on the plan that if they play and don't lose wickets to the pacers, then they can take a toll on the South African spinners.  Also India  is one of the few teams that play better under pressure and when they find themselves with their back to the wall.  It happened in March 2001 and why shouldn't it happen again?  India find themselves in a similar position,  and will be hoping to repeat the epic saga that unfolded in Calcutta.  The only set back is that the stars of the 2001 are missing, and how badly was Dravid and Laxman missed today!  But with Sachin, Murali Vijay, and Dhoni, India have the players for the job.  India have everything to lose if they lose this match and primarily it is their pride, and the number one spot.

Just like Aakash Chopra tweeted, it's "time to show character and prove that we are number one for nothing...we have it in us to fight and surprise..".  Here's hoping for a revitalizing contest.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Art of Losing

People say that winning is an art, but no one ever says anything about losing.  Well, losing is an art too - an art that Pakistan cricket team excel in.  They lost the test series and was the losing side in a 5-0 whitewash in the ODI's.  Pakistan's tour of Australia has been full of 'what ifs' and missed opportunities.  The test match at SCG was one of the many instances where Pakistan were clearly on top of the game throughout, but managed to falter at the last stage due to some unexplainable tactics that can be described in no other way than stupid, and batting and fielding that was utter rubbish and pathetic.  The team played good cricket in patches and looked like a Pakistan A team.  So why should the T20 match [SCORECARD] be any different?

Pakistan bowling as usual was good, and thanks to some tight fielding (surprising that Pakistan fielded well, considering their recent performances) restricted Australia to a miserly 127 thanks to Umar Gul's 3 strikes.  Umar once again showed just why he's the best in T20 and what a performance he came up with to restrict Australia to their third lowest score in T20's.  David Hussey was the lone fighter in the Australian team and his small partnership with the captain, Micheal Clarke helped Australia reach a plus 100 score.  The younger Hussey looks to walk in the footsteps of his brother and is a wonderful find for Australia.  The Pakistani fielding finally came good and effected three run outs.

Australia being bowled out cheaply needed to strike early, and this they did through Shaun Tait.  Tait bowled with fire and looked to spill blood on the pitch.  He was fast and furious and rushed the batsmen.  The Pakistani batsmen were pushed onto the back-foot and looked afraid to face his deliveries.  It was some of the best hostile fast bowling I've seen in recent times.  It must come as no surprise that the tormentor clocked the fastest ball on Australian soil - bowling at 160.7kph.  In his first spell he never bowled below 150 Km, and made Johnson look terribly slow.  Tait who always had the talent to succeed at the highest level, finally seems to have come out of the many injuries that hampered his career so far.  Ever since I saw him in 2006, I knew that I had seen a sensation and was bitterly disappointed at the way his international career had progressed so far.  But if today's are anything to go by, Tait is on the comeback trail, and it won't be long before he becomes a regular for Australia in the shorter formats.  With the absence of Brett Lee, Tait will be eying his spot, but so will Nannes.  But Nannes, can always turn up in orange colours if Australia reject him.  I believe it's Tait's time now.

Pakistan's batting was woeful yet again and melted under the pace of Tait.  Only three players of the Pakistani team reached double figures, and one of them was a bowler - Umar Gul (10).  Pakistan has a lot to think about, but one of their worries over Kamran Akmal is over.  Kamran looked in perfect touch and was unaffected by the pace assault his team was targeted at.  Kamran looked like he could do it for his team, but sadly he didn't, and his amazing 64 runs from 33 balls became just another good knock in the valley of despair.  But Kamran will be a happy man even though he ended on the losing side, because he finished what was a miserable tour for him and Pakistan on a personal high.  He showed and world his worth and just why he is in the team and hopefully proved his critics wrong.

Pakistan must do a study on their disastrous tour and forget the art of losing.

Rajasthan Royals - Preview

So, Rajasthan Royals it is this time..... They were the surprise champions of the inaugural edition of the IPL. Sadly though, they could not repeat that feat last year, infact, they did not even reach the semis.

The team is jointly owned by Ranjit Bharthakur ( Co-Founder of Singapore based Globally Managed Services ) , Manoj Badale and the now popular Shilpa Shetty ( who can afford to forget her now after the Big Brother Episode and the Gere Scandal ). Sean Morris is the Chief Executive Officer of the team. They made two great purchases , that of Australians Damien Martyn ( Yup, he's back too after his ICL stint ) and Adam Voges. Mohammed Kaif was bought out well before the auction itself.

Let us now have a look at the Indian Players in this Team :-

Abishek Raut
Amit Singh
Anup Revandkar
Ashraf Makda
Dinesh Salunkhe
Kamran Khan
Mahesh Rawat
Munaf Patel
Naman Ojha
Niraj Patel
Paras Dogra
Paul Valthaty
Raiphi Gomez
Ravindra Jadeja
Siddharth Trivedi
Srideep Mangela
Swapnil Asnodkar
Yusuf Pathan

One look at this team and you may think its made of just a bunch of underdogs who were all bought very cheaply by the team. But, Shane Warne showed us all what a magical group of people they are. They have no great reputation and this probably is the reason behind their success. They have not buckled under loads of expectation. Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja along with Munaf Patel , have all played for India and can win games single-handedly.

Let us now move on to the foreign players : -

Shane Warne (Captain)
Graeme Smith
Shane Watson
Damien Martyn
Dmitri Mascarenhas
Morne Morkel
Shaun Tait
Johan Botha
Adam Voges

Every single one of these foreign players in special in some way or the other. Interestingly, 5 of these players are captains of various teams and hence can understand the game better than the rest. Mascarenhas can massacre any bowling attack (we haven't forgotten that 30 off Yuvi's over, have we ? ) and Tait can crush a few toes. But the absence of Pakistani players like Sohail Tanvir and Kamran Akmal have dented their team.

So, overall it is a power-packed side having the potential to become the champions as they showed us two years ago. It'll be interesting to see what new tactics Warne comes up with this year.

Next week , the Mumbai Indians.