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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Not payback. But we'll take it.

Yesterday after Dhoni took that catch to dismiss Steven Finn, I had tears rolling down my eyes and remember vividly screaming at the top of my lungs, "Whitewash! Whitewash!  This is payback!."  I was mad with joy and the prospect of seeing the blood of the English cricket team.

It was the most memorable day since April 2nd 2011 and I was ecstatic after the win.  India had clinched the series 5-nil and given our old colonizers richly what they deserve!  Revenge was ours!  I remember crying tears of joy and finally crying myself to sleep dreaming Mahatma Gandhi looking down and smiling at MS Dhoni.  It was all so beautiful.  So very beautiful!    

In the morning when my head felt a little heavy thanks to the kid next door who had woken up at 5 AM on a holiday and started to burst fireworks [Happy Diwali to all the readers!], I realized the truth.  It dawned on me like the rising of the sun and the images of yesterday was still vivid in my head.  Jadeja getting man of the match, Dhoni the man of the series award and the Indian skipper taking his players in a victory lap around the Eden Gardens in the city of joy!  And the dejected faces of Cook and the rest of his team watching the jubilant Indian players.  Oh yes!  It did happen!  It all wasn't a dream.  I sat down and cried more tears.   I was sure that even Hamlet would have been proud of this Indian team.  It was finally done!  Vengeance was ours!  Finally I can sleep at ease.

Maybe that wasn't exactly what happened.  And maybe the 5-nil victory in the ODI series isn't exactly payback that will erase the unpleasant happenings in England earlier this summer, but whatever the case, we'll take the 5-nil whitewash!

Monday, October 24, 2011

A look at India's youngistan

There is no greater sight in cricket than watching a young player making a mark in the highest level and plotting his steady rise.  Infusing new blood into any organization is a thrilling process and specially in sports, the blooding of youngsters is a truly wonderful spectacle.

India having suffered one of its most humiliating defeats in the last decade this summer in England, took on the same team at home, in a series dubbed as the 'revenge series'.  With four matches done, the scoreline is 4-nil with India winning.  This is against the same team that a couple of months ago handed the same result to India, complete destroying the Indians in England.  Shows just how big home advantage is in cricket and how the failure of the visiting team to adapt to the conditions can result in a very one sided affair.

This series from India's point of view has been not so much as avenging their loss in England this summer as the press play it out to be but rather prove a point that they are truly a great ODI team that deserved to win the World Cup earlier in the year.  However winning in your own backyard against a team that has completely failed to understand the subcontinent condition hardly proves a point.  But the fact that this Indian team lacking most of its key players and is a largely young experimental squad does goes some way proving a point.

This Indian team consists of many youngsters and some of them have made the most of this opportunity and have managed to put their names as bright future prospects.  Some of them include Mumbai's Ajinkya Rahane, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Ravindra Jadeja and Vinay Kumar.  Also some established players such as Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin have showcased to the world just how influential they can be.

This series has brought out so many new faces in Indian cricket and for once I actually am positive about India's bench strength.  This is just the start and most of these players have a very long road to travel still, but they have taken their first couple of steps in that direction and that is definitely something to be happy about.

One of the players who has caught my attention throughout this summer and now has been young Rahane.  The small opener from Mumbai has some major talent and I'm sure that he's one who will have a very very successful career representing India if he is willing to be committed to that cause.  He is technically strong and has a wide repertoire of shots.  He has a very calm head and comes across as a very smart player who has the yearning to learn more about the game.  He is very busy player and mixes the old fashioned grace with modern day aggression.  As a very stylish player, watching him bat is a treat for the eyes and must say that it would be a crying shame if he doesn't represent India in whites one day.

Varun Aaron is another player who has been in the limelight for sometime and he finally got his chance yesterday as he made his debut.  The youngster has speed and a spark in his eyes - something that has been missing in most Indian seamers.  As someone who can clock regularly above 140 Ks, Aaron does get me exited but its still very early days for him and it is to be seen how his career goes.  Whether it's the Irfan Pathan story or something more like Zaheer Khan.

Ravindra Jadeja has slowly established himself as an all-rounder.  India in dire need of one such player might as well start to bank on this fine young talent in the near future for a permanent solution. In the recent series, he has shown his abilities with the bat and a very calm head as he finished a game for India along with Dhoni.  With his already short career full of ups and downs, Jadeja sure is making most of this opportunity and I'm sure that if he improves his bowling, he'd manage to find a more permanent place and also perhaps a test cap.  I'm impressed big time by Jadeja, but still am not sure if he is an extraordinary player cut out for the top level.  He's a good player and one to watch out for.  Thats definite.

Ashwin also falls in this same category.  Like Jadeja the talent and potential is not in doubt, but I still have some question marks.  Ashwin has so far gone about doing his job with no big fuss, but still hasn't really caught my eyes and like Jadeja I feel has a couple of points to prove.

One of the young stars of Indian cricket is Virat Kohli and his rise to fame has been a quick story.  When I first saw Kohli play in 2007 when he represented the under-19 Indian team, I was sure I'd seen a bright prospect.  And in the next four years, he has gone from strength to strength proving that small hunch I had.  With an oozing confidence and some proud arrogance combined with an iron sense of self-belief, Kohli represents the youngsters of India, and this is perhaps why the marketing people and youngsters adore him.  I adore him.  I think he's the greatest find in the last decade (I must confess that once I said the same about a certain young pace bowler who could make the ball bend in shapes I've never seen before and that certain leftie named Irfan Pathan left a great deal to be desired in the end) and have no doubts about his future.  This series so far has only strengthened that belief.

Right now the future looks a little bright with the blooding of these young new players, but this series can be very deceiving.  The real test is yet to begin and only will when these youngsters come across a stumbling block where their technique, talent, temperament and their very being will be cast under a shadow of doubt.  However every journey starts with the first step out into the open and that step has been taken by these youngsters.  The aging stalwarts - Tendulkar, Dravid, and Laxman won't be here forever and soon it will be the time for some of these players to try to fill those big shoes and it is to be seen if those shoes can indeed be filled.  Whatever the case, we have some very interesting times to look forward to in Indian cricket.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Is this revenge?

India's win yesterday in Delhi helped them wrap up the ODI series and in some ways restore the sense of pride that was lost in England this summer.  However with the 3 wins so far in the series, I ask the question is this revenge?

I don't think so.  The four test matches that we lost this summer can never ever be avenged unless India go about doing the same.  Plus winning an ODI series against England in India is not a big achievement to brag about.  We all know just how bad the English team is when it comes to the limited overs format and it is no surprise that they lost the series already.  I did expect a better show from them, but the English as usual disappoint me.  Also the fact that the English are lions only at home is well known.  When touring, specially the sub-continent they become a pale shadow of that and turn into adorable poodles.  So is winning against a team that is made up of adorable poodles give a sense of relief and feel the rush of justification of vengeance?  I don't think so.

So what would complete the revenge you ask.  Will a 5-nil whitewash help the cause?  That certainly won't hurt the cause but I don't think that even that will matter in the grand scale.  A 5-nil win in the ODIs and the lone T20 match will help the confidence of the Indians and the rankings but nothing more.  Thats still very good.

However Rajiv Shukla, the IPL commissioner has attained the perfect revenge.  How did he do that?  Just look at what he said,
"We're absolutely happy [England beat India] because we want cricket to grow in England."
 - Rajiv Shukla, the new IPL commissioner, says England have lost a lot at cricket and football over the last 10 years and needed to win something.

Now is there any need for further blood after that statement? 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

'Back from the Dead' - Afridi's autobiography leaked

Shahid Afridi keeping with the age old traditions of Pakistani cricket has come back from the dead retirement.  Now that was a totally expected move, wasn't it?  No surprises there.

Afridi who had earlier announced his retirement protesting the PCB headed by Ijaz Butt.  However with Ijaz Butt being no longer the head and coach Waqar Yunis' tenure over, Afridi has made himself available for selection and withdrawn his retirement.  He however does appear delusional as now says that he never did retire in the first place!  In the earlier saga with Ijaz Butt, Afridi was stripped of his captaincy and fined 4.5 million Rupees.

So with Afridi available to play T20 and ODIs, it would be interesting to see how the new board goes about and whether they do select the former skipper.  So with another chapter added to the 31 year old's life, only time will tell what twists and surprises and further retirements and comebacks has in store for Afridi.

Afridi's autobiography!

Sources close to Poshin's World tell us that Afridi is writing his autobiography in Urdu.  In it he calls Ijaz Butt a spineless bastard who can't even dance on the pitch.  He also has equally harsh words for former coach Waqar Yunis whom he says is a coward to even lick the red cherry, let alone take a small bite from it.

He backs Akthar and bowls a googly saying that Tendulkar's legs shake when he is at the crease but however confesses that what he wants most in life to see is team mate, Shoaib Malik's wife - Sania Mizra shake her legs.  He also calls himself a stunning, handsome devil who will never ever give up!  He claims to have power to resurrect the dead and come back from retirements.  We certainly don't doubt that last bit, do we?

And guess what his autobiography is called?  'Back from the Dead!'

Episode 10 - India, England and the CLT20

The much awaited 10th episode is finally out and it is one cracker of an episode!

Recorded on 14th October 2011; Duration 36 minutes.

Description: In this episode David Siddall of World Cricket Watch joins Michael and me where we look at the ongoing India vs. England ODI series and give our predictions on that. We also talk on the recently concluded CLT20 and discuss on the KP saga, and India's spin worries with Harbhajan. Michael as usual presents us with some very interesting stats in his 'Statics Class' segment.

Panelists - David Sidall, Michael Wagener, and Christopher David

 If you wish to download the podcast click here. You can also subscribe to it via iTunesor any other podcatchers.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Match 29 - Mumbai are the Champions

Mumbai won the finals in front of a very knowledgeable Chennai crowd bring to end my dream of seeing RCB win a tournament. It was heart wrenching watching the match, but I guess I can be consoled by the fact that we were the second best team in the tournament.

Match 29 - The Grand Finals - Mumbai Indians vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore
Result - Mumbai Indians (139) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore (108) beat by 31 runs [SCORECARD]

The choke! - RCB is a team known to choke in critical moments of the game and the same thing happened in the finals.  Chasing a moderate 140, RCB were cruising when Gayle departed at the end of the 6th over.  Still with the run rate being just a tad over 6, the target was achievable but some senseless batting and the art of choking got hold of RCB's batsmen and the match was taken away from them.

Mumbai are the champions - Congrats!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Match 28 - Mumbai go through!

The Mumbai Indians defeated a spirited Somerset side to set up an all - IPL team final.  Now they will take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore for the ultimate crown.

Match 28 - Mumbai Indians vs. Somerset
Result - Mumbai Indians (160 for 5) beat Somerset (150 for 7) by 10 runs [SCORECARD]

Slinga Malinga - If you can find a better bowler at death than Malinga at the moment, then I'll change my name!  Thats how good this guy with the weird hairdo and the outrageous tattoos and piercings is, and yesterday we got a glimpse of that as he ended up with figures of 4 for 20 in his 4 overs and seeing his team through!

An IPL team will win the finals! - Now that is a sure fact with both the teams being Indian.  I'll be watching the finals live and it should be a cracker of a match, with the winner being Royal Challengers Bangalore, of course!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Match 27 - RCB reach the finals

Royal Challengers Bangalore chased down yet another 200+ target, and booked a place in finals.  Now they will await the result of the Mumbai Indians vs. Somerset match tonight, to see whom they will face in he finals.

Match 27 - Royal Challengers Bangalore vs. New South Wales
Result - Royal Challengers Bangalore (204 for 4) beat New South Wales (203 for 2)  by six wickets [SCORECARD]

Graveyard for bowlers - With more than 800 runs scored in 80 overs in the span of two days, one can call the Bangalore pitch as a graveyard for bowlers.  200+ totals weren't safe and almost every single bowler went over 8 runs easily.  If this is the future of cricket, then I fear that we might not have many bowlers in the future.

Into the finals - RCB are into the finals and I can't be more happier!  I get to watch my team play in its first CLT20 finals and hopefully go onto lift the cup live in the stadium.  Can a guy ask for anything more?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Nearing the end of CLT20

We are almost done with this years Champions League and what a tournament it has been till now! I have never seen so many thrillers in my life and we just have 3 more matches left!  The tournament concludes this Sunday and here's a final reminder of the Nokia Asli Champions Contest.

Nokia, the title sponsors of CLT20 have come up with with an interesting contest.  All you have to do is upload your videos, photos and audio commentary clips and you could very well be Priyanka Chopra's date for the finals. Sounds like something fun? So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and check it out!

[Sponsored Post]

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Match 26 - The greatest chase in T20?

The last place for the semis was fought by two teams turning this match into a virtual quarterfinal with the winner going through and the loser going home.  So high were the stakes that the match was watched with much interests.  With no IPL team having defeated an Australian team in the CLT20 tournament, things looked bad for RCB, and it only got worse after the Red Backs scored a mammoth 214 runs in their 20 overs, but a calm and level headed chase saw the team through with a six off the very last ball!

Match 26 - Royal Challengers Bangalore vs. South Australia Redbacks
Result - Royal Challengers Bangalore (215 for 8) beat South Australia Redbacks (214 for 2) by two wickets [SCORECARD]

A century, a Fiver and the many 50s - Dr. Dan Harris scored a brilliant century of just 61 balls and it looked at one stage that he had single handedly placed the Australian team in the semis, and along with Ferguson who scored 70 of just 43 helped South Australia reach a certain position of victory with 214 for 2 in their 20 overs.  I thought the match was all but over then, but RCB found their own heroes in Dilshan and Kohli who both scored 50s.  Dilshan played the anchor role with 74 of 47, while Kohli the aggressor role scoring 70 of just 36 balls.  However even this wasn't enough for the Challengers as they eventually ended up requiring 6 of the final delivery.  Tait bowled brilliantly at death and ended up with a 5 wicket haul.

The winning moment - I honestly thought that RCB had fluffed their chance and that the game was well and truly over with 6 runs needed of the last ball, but man was I in for a surprise, when Arun Karthik smashed the six to take RCB to a memorable victory.  Here's the winning moment.  Looking at the joy on the players face, I was certain that I had just witnessed something very magical!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Match 25 - Somerset progress as Warriors choke

South African team Warriors managed to choke and lose a match which they seemed to have well under control for the major part.  Somerset who so far have shown amazing team spirit and character now progress into the semi-finals and I must say that it is good to the English county there.

Match 25 - Somerset vs. Warriors
Result - Somerset (146 for 4) beat Warriors (134 for 8) by 12 runs [SCORECARD]

The anchor - Every innings needs a player who bats through the innings or at least for the major part anchoring the innings and Craig Kiewswetter did just that.  Opening the innings he carried his bat scoring a slow but very vital 56* of 52 balls.  It was this innings that saw Somerset to 146 and gave them a chance against the Warriors.  The warriors lost because they didn't have an anchor and had Smuts or Ingram had carried on, I'm sure they would have won.

The stranglehold - In T20 cricket, picking up wickets is vital, but stopping the flow of runs is just as important.  And what better when a bowler can do the same!  Alfonso Thomas did just that as he choked the Warriors finishing with figures 2 for 16 from 4 overs.

With Somerset winning this match, the next match is a qualifier with the winner joining Somerset.

Match 24 - Warner ousts CSK

David Warner played one of the best T20 innings of all times as he scored a mammoth 135 runs taking NSW to 201 in their 20 overs.  CSK needing to chase down the target in 17 overs to stay alive capitulated to 155.

Match 23 - New South Wales vs. Chennai Super Kings
Result - New South Wales (201 for 2) beat Chennai Super Kings (155 all out)  by 46 runs [SCORECARD]

Magnificent David Warner! -  In a ground where 135 was being considered a good score, David Warner alone scored 135 runs and that too in just 69 balls!  He hit 8 huge sixes - most of them over 90 meters and 11 hits to the fence.  I never seen anyone reverse sweep so many balls before.  He even managed to reverse slog sweep one out of the ground!  Watching his innings was like watching a butcher slaughter a lamb and I must say that it felt good!

The result - The writing was on the wall as NSW hit 201 runs, but CSK would still have believed the target to be achievable and with the fates of three teams resting on CSK's shoulder's it was huge responsibility.  T&T's fate, NSW's fate and their own fate depended on how they chased down this target and unfortunately for T&T and CSK, it never did happen their way.

With this win the two semi-finalists have been decided and we got one IPL team and one Aussie team in Mumbai Indians and NSW respectively.    

Match 23 - Cooper sees T&T through

Trinidad and Tobago managed to win over Cape Cobras after the West Indian team looked to be out of the hunt.  A brilliant cameo from Kevon Cooper sealed the match for them keeping their hopes of a semi-final berth alive.

Match 23 - Trinidad and Tobago vs. Cape Cobras
Result -Trinidad and Tobago (138 for 8) beat Cape Cobras (137 for 4) by 2 wickets [SCORECARD]

Cooperman! - He can bowl, he can bat, he's Cooperman!  Or at least that's what a poster in the crowd said.  Watching Cooper bat is an interesting thing to do, as he plays from the most unorthodox positions and angles.  His quickfire 25 of 11 balls yesterday was one such innings where he scored a boundary and 2 sixes!  Cooper also bowled 4 overs for just 25 runs and managed to dismiss Duminy.  I'm sure Ganga is happy to have a man such as Cooperman in his ranks who can always rescue his team if in trouble.  Barvo was also in sublime touch as he scored a compiled 29.

Cheering CSK! - Having won this match, T&T require CSK to win their next match to stay alive.  At the same time if CSK breeze through to a win, then T&T will be out so T&T find themselves in an unenviable position.  However as Ganga said, we'll just wear our yellow jerseys and cheer for Chennai seems to be the simplest thing to do.  It's the only thing to do.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Match 22 - Gayle Storm seals RCB's first win

Royal Challengers with their backs against the wall after two loses and requiring a win to stay alive in the tournament managed to bring their best performance to the table helping them record their first win.

Match 22 - Royal Challengers Bangalore vs. Somerset
Result - Royal Challengers Bangalore (206 for 6) beat Somerset (155 for 6) by 51 runs [SCORECARD]

Gayle Storm - Chris Gayle who was the star for RCB in the IPL, finally came to the party as he scored a brilliant half century helping RCB breach the 200 mark and setting Somerset a very difficult target.  He scored 86 of just 46 balls with 4 boundaries and 8 sixes.  All of a typical Gayle innings characteristic was seen as he launched into the Somerset left arm spinners sending them all over the ropes.  It will be interesting to see if he can keep it up for RCB's next match.

Raining sixes - In a format like T20 where sixes are considered their weight in gold, but it does get a little monotonous when it starts raining sixes or gold for that matter.  People won't complain but it starts losing the flavor.  Maybe not, but in a match where 20 shots went over the boundary, you can understand just how frequent it was.  That means every 2 overs there was a six and after a moment it got monotonous.  But I'm not complaining as the high scoring match not only provided RCB their first win but managed to keep them alive.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Match 21 - T&T stun Chennai

Trinidad and Tobago caused a major upset as they defeated the home team and defending champions, Chennai Super Kings completely opening up the points table.

Match 21 - Trinidad and Tobago vs. Chennai Super Kings
Result - Trinidad & Tobago (123 for 8) beat Chennai Super Kings (111 for 6) by 12 runs [SCORECARD]

The cameo - In T20s its normally the small entertaining cameos that make the big difference and that is the case if the match is a low scoring one.  Kevon Cooper of T&T did just that as he scored 28 runs of just 10 balls taking T&T to 123 in their 20 overs.  In the end it was this small cameo that made all the difference.

Wonder Spin - Sunil Narine, the young T&T spinner strangled the Chennai batsmen and finished with figures of 4-0-8-3.  He picked up Vijay, Raina and Dhoni - all three Indian players who are exceptional players of spin.  Narine gave nothing away as he bowled a tight line and kept tossing the ball in what was a demon wicket.  Narine shows some promise and it is to be seen if he'll one day represent the West Indies.

With champions CSK going down, the table is wide open, leaving plenty to speculate in the next few days.

Match 20 - Mumbai give NSW a Scare

Mumbai Indians almost managed to pull off an upset win after managing only 100 runs in their 20 overs.  They had NSW on the mat at 28 for 5, but the Aussie team held their nerve and eventually saw their way home.

Match 20 - Mumbai Indians vs. New South Wales
Result - New South Wales (101 for 5) beat Mumbai Indians (100 for 7) by five wickets [SCORECARD]

Low scores - I've written about this before and I'm writing about it yet again, there is just something romantic about low scoring affairs.  On a low and slow pitch in Chennai, all Mumbai could manage was 100 and they weren't even bowled out!  Such a low target looked to be easy even if the pitch wasn't very conducive for batting, but with NSW at 28 for 5, the game was truly on.  Must say Steve Smith and Rohrer applied themselves very well to see their team through on that demonic pitch.  No Australian team has lost to an IPL team in the CLT20 tournament and it looks like that trend is continuing.

Abu Nechim - Promising prospect -  Abu Nechim picked up 3 of the 5 wickets to fall and he was brilliant.  Nechim's bowling figure 3 for 23, showed much promise and from what I've seen of the youngster he looks to be a bright prospect.  He has pace and I'm sure in the course of his career will learn much more and indeed be force to reckon with.

The NSW win has opened up the table and it should be an interesting couple of days as we see who gets to be in the last four.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Nokia Asli Champions Contest

We are a little more than half way done with this years Champions League and what a tournament it has been till now!  I have never seen so many thrillers in my life and despite by team - Royal Challengers Bangalore not doing so great, I have enjoyed this tournament thoroughly.  You can find the latest standings here.

So now with just a week of cricket to go, here's another reminder of the brilliant contest that the title sponsors of CLT20 have come up with.  Do you want to watch the finals with Priyanka Chopra as your date?  Then here's your chance!  All you have to do is upload your videos, photos and audio commentary clips and you could very well be Priyank's XI.

Sounds like something fun?  So what are you waiting for?  Go ahead and check it out! 
[Sponsored post]   

Match 19 - KKR win in a rain curtailed encounter

KKR managed a win over the Warriors thanks to the Duckworth and Lewis method after rain started to fall heavily on a Saturday night Bangalore.

Match 19 - Kolkata Knight Riders vs. Warriors
Result - Kolkata Knight Riders (83 for 1 in 9 overs) beat Warriors (155 for 4) by 22 runs (D/L method) [SCORECARD]

Kallis and Gambhir again! - Kallis and Gambhir once again were involved in a big partnership and they put KKR on track as they were chasing a modest 156 for victory.  The duo put on 48 runs in just 33 balls and were largely responsible for being on top the D&L.  Both played some spectacular shots and pushed and ran hard between the wickets.  I think finally KKR have found stability at the top of the order with Kallis and Gambhir.

D&L Method - I'm not sure if the D&L method is the best method in a T20 match.  20 overs is short enough already and further reducing it for results leaves one team highly disadvantaged which shouldn't happen.  I'm sure the Warriors feel hard done and despite being behind the game, I'm sure they still believed that a win could be possible if they fought hard.  Pity we never saw that as the match ended with just 9 overs into the KKR innings.

KKR finally look good and their batting and bowling is finally peaking at the right time and with this win stay alive in the tournament.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Match 18 - Another washout!

There's nothing much to say about this match other than that it was washed out without a single ball being bowled and that Somerset and South Australia both shared the points.  One of the easier posts to write.

Match 18 - Somerset vs. South Australia
Result - Match abandoned

Match 17 - Rain halts Mumbai

The match between Mumbai Indians and the Cape Cobras ended without a result and here's my small take on the half a match that did take place.

Match 17 - Mumbai Indians vs. Cape Cobras
Result - Match abandoned Mumbai Indians (176 for 5) v Cape Cobras [SCORECARD]

New kid on the block - Sarul Kanwar opened the innings for Mumbai and on his debut showed some blistering shots as he scored 45 runs off just 21 balls.  He hit 5 sixes and 3 fours - a total of 42 runs in mere boundaries and gave Mumbai the ideal platform to launch.  It is always interesting to see a new player perform and watching Kanwar bat was a treat.  This is what CLT20 is all about, bring talent to the fore and I'm looking forward to seeing Kanwar bat in the future.

Points shared - With rain falling down heavily, the match was cancelled and the points were eventually shared between the two teams.

This is the first CLT20 match this season to be called off due to rain and hope that it won't happen again.