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Saturday, March 31, 2012

IPL 2012 Preview - Kolkata Knight Riders



Kolkata Knight Riders is a team that has always been in the news and generally it’s been for all the bad reasons. However last year they started from scratch as they rebuilt a brand new team and the end result wasn’t much different, but this year they would be looking to do better and put their horror past behind them. Led by the Indian southpaw, KKR have a decent lineup. 


With the likes of Jaques Kallis, Brad Haddin, Brendon McCullum, Eoin Morgan, Manoj Tiwary and the heavy hitting Yusuf Pathan, Manvinder Bisla, the talent is certainly not lacking. Kallis, and Gambhir at the top of the order have a huge role to play and if they get the runs, I’m sure KKR have a very good chance. Pathan though inconsistent can pack a punch and other teams would be wary of him. The likes of Tiwary and McCullum add more firepower to the cannon and KKR’s one worry would be that they do not blow up in their face as they usually have done in the past. Tiwary specially would be keen to make an impact so that he can make it into the International team. The captaincy of Gambhir will be vital in deciding his team’s success.

KKR have some very good T20 all-rounders Shakib al Hasan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Yusuf Pathan, Rajat Bhatia, Jaques Kallis and Laxmi Shukla provide more stability and options for Gambhir.  Last year the team's fielding was atrocious and this year I hope that they learn to hold onto their catches.  That certainly will help them in a big way!



 The bowling for KKR is also strong with good pace battery and a decent crop of spinners. In Brett Lee, Balaji, de Lange, Pattinson, and Unadkat, KKR have some of the best talents out there and it will be interesting to see how they go about it. Spinners would be the key, I feel and Sunil Narine, Iqbal Abdulla, and Lada would have a huge role to play in the middle overs.

KKR is a powerful team on paper and it is difficult to underestimate them, but if past performances are anything to go by, then KKR would be struggling. With a new jersey, and a new logo, Shahrukh Khan and company would be hoping for a fresh start and hopefully Gambhir and his boys can provide that for Kolkata. I’m still not optimistic about their chances and think it will be yet another mediocre season for them. Hope I am proved wrong this time.

The Wicket Post IPL Fantasy League Contest!



It's that time of the year again when the sun shines, summer is in the air, pretty girls are everywhere, and the cricket carnival (or mayhem) called the IPL returns! We at the Wicket Post proudly present the IPL dream team fantasy league contest...



It's time put on your thinking hats and become the selector! Time to show off your cricketing gyan and your tryst with lady luck as you try to find that dream IPL team combination to top the 'The Wicket Post League'!!! So what are you waiting for?  Go ahead and join the TWP League!

The League Invitation Code is 776321.

Here's how to join the TWP League in 3 easy steps.

1.) Head over to Sportal IPL Dream Team Fantasy Competition, (http://ipldreamteam.sportal.com.au/) and register yourself.  If you have an existing account, you can use that and all you need to do is log in.
2.) Click on the 'Leagues' button on the right and click on 'Create/Join'.
3.) Enter the invitation code (776321) and you're in!

OR simply you can drop in comment below with your mail ID and I'll email you the invite.


The scores would be updated weekly on The Wicket Post.
If you have any problems you can always contact me at christopher[at]thewicketpost[dot]com.  For any questions on how this fantasy league works, head over to the Sportal FAQ.  Don't forget to tell your friends and spread the word.

You can catch all the IPL action right here at The Wicket Post.  Check out our latest exclusive IPL 2012 Team Previews.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Episode 16 - IPL 2012 Preview



The big IPL preview is out!

Recorded on 27th March 2012; Duration 28 minutes.




Description: In this episode the lovely Shireen Dastagir (Former commentator at Pitch Invasion,  and ex-podcaster for the Royal Challengers Bangalore) joins us as we take a look at the cricket carnival called Indian Premier League.  We talk about the players whom we think are the ones to watch out for and also discuss the team's chances.  We also give our verdicts on which four teams we think will make it to the top 4.  Also Michael in his 'Stats Class' provides us with some very interesting numbers on batsmen who contribute in their team's victory with scores of 75 plus.  

Panelists - Shireen Dastagir, 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.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

IPL 2012 Preview - Kings XI Punjab



The Punjab team is an interesting team in the sense that it is one of the few teams that have refrained from going out and buying the big names.  It also one of the few IPL teams that has a foreign player as captain.  Kings XI Punjab so far in the short history of the Indian Premier League have failed to live up to their expectations and generally been below par with a semi-final being their best finish in the league.  This year under their inspirational coach-cum-captain, Adam Gilchrist who had led Deccan Chargers to victory in 2009 would be hoping to go the distance.


Punjab's failure last year can be attributed to their failure to put up the runs on the board and the lack of big names in the batting department undid them.  This year I fear the same might be the case unless some of the lesser known players such as Paul Valthaty take charge as he did last year.  Gilchrist is growing older by the day and I feel that this might be his last IPL season and that he surely would be hoping that he clicks at the top of the order and provides those blitzkriegs.  The big overseas names are David Hussey, Shaun Marsh, and David Miller.  The mainstay of the batting would be resting on the shoulders of these players and Hussey's for would be crucial to Punjab's cause.  The Indian batting consists of Tamil Nadu's Satish, Paul Valthaty and Paras Dogra.  Not the biggest strikers of the ball, but they sure can pack a punch if they get going and as always with any IPL team, the performance of the 7 Indian players plays a very important role in deciding the result of a match.


Punjab have pretty good all-rounders in Dimitri Mascarenhas, and Abhisek Nayar providing much needed stability to the Punjab team and also at the same time shortening their long tail.  It also bolsters their batting.  Punjab last year in the field were horrible and looked like they couldn't catch a cold and this year they can't afford to do the same if they intend to go all the way.

Punjab's strong point is their bowling and they have some very good spinners in their ranks.  Piyush Chawla, and Ramesh Powar would be critical in the middle overs.  Praveen Kumar, Stuart Broad, Nathan Rimmington, and Harmeet Singh, all give Gilchrist more options and with a bunch of all-rounders and part-timers in their ranks the bowling options are plenty.


Punjab just don't seem to invoke confidence in me, and I don't rate their chances very high.  Last year they played like a bunch of school kids with Gilchrist acting as the mature adult and I feel we might see a repeat of that.  I'll be happy to be proven wrong and it would be great to have some competition from this team but I just don't see them making it to the last 4.  Let's see how they go and if the do prove me wrong.

Monday, March 26, 2012

IPL 2012 Preview - Delhi Daredevils



Delhi Daredevils is one of the more exiting teams in the IPL. Their captain, Virender Sehwag pretty much personifies the way his team approaches the game and play a match – it’s generally all or nothing and provides some stellar entertainment for us, spectators.
This year Delhi is one of my favorite team to win the trophy and that largely has to do with the new addition to their squad. Delhi’s batting has always been bombastic at the top with Warner and Sehwag, but this year the team has decided to add more fire power and have roped in Ross Taylor from Rajasthan Royals and Kevin Pietersen from Deccan Chargers and the batting just looks more lethal than ever. Added to this are Mahela Jayawardene and Aussie Aaron Finch, and the Delhi top order resembles the great West Indian batting order of the 1980s, when one ‘great’ batsman got out, another one just took his place. All of them are very aggressive batsmen who are suited well for the T20 format and on their day, no boundary is going to be long enough for them. Sure to be some major fireworks if they get going! However with some of these players on International duty, Delhi might be missing a few stars.  The Indian batsmen in the side are not very consistent and other than Naman Ojha and Venugopal Rao, the rest are relative unknowns in the IPL stage. This could very well be the tipping point for Delhi.



The bowling looks pretty good with the likes of Agit Agarkar (someone whom I hold in high regard), Varun Aaron, and Umesh Yadav. Comeback boy Irfan Pathan also is in the team and Delhi have a very good mixture of experience and youth in their Indian pace attack. Roelof Van der Merwe, Andre Russell all provide more options in terms of balance thanks to their all-round ability. The overseas bowlers in Morne Morkel, and Doug Bracewell just adds more fire to the artillery. One place where the Delhi team lacks is in the spin department. Not having a genuine spinner can hurt their cause and Van der Merwe if selected would have a huge role to play in the Indian conditions.


Delhi is one of the more balanced sides in the tournament and on paper look like one hell of a team. They have never gone passed the semi-final stage and this year it might be different due to the amount of artillery power they hold. However it all boils down to how the resources are used and I feel Sehwag’s captaincy would play a very vital role. Captaincy in cricket is very important and a captain plays a huge role in the results of the team and I feel Sehwag might have his work cut out. Whatever the case, I can’t wait to see this team in action!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

IPL 2012 Preview - Deccan Chargers




Deccan Chargers have so far in the IPL have had mixed results.  They have seen the very low and high of the league by finishing last in 2008 and winning the trophy the next year but generally their results have been average.  This year Deccan would be trying to change that and try to get their name once again on the trophy.  The team like their past results is a mixture and consists of some heavy weights and unknown names and it will be interesting to see how they go this season.


The Deccan batting revolves around their skipper, Kumar Sangakara.  They do have International quality batsmen in Darren Bravo, Parthiv Patel, Cameron White, and JP Duminy but these players are not very consistent.  Also the problem arises that only 4 overseas players can play which means that not all these International stars even make it to the 11.  The Indian names other than Chipli, Dhawan, and Ravi Teja are haven’t made much impact in the IPL and even these names like the other International batsmen are highly inconsistent.  The Deccan Chargers is a team that has a very strong bowling unit and if these batsmen manage to get decent amount of runs on the board then the team will do great, but I feel with their weak batting they might struggle in chases if they lose a few early wickets.


The Deccan Chargers as I already said are more dependent on their bowling and hence have some pretty good bowlers in their ranks.  With the likes of Dale Steyn, Rusty Theron, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, and Manpreet Gony, they have a very good attack.  Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma would be playing a key role in providing the early breakthroughs and I feel their success might be Deccan’s success and their failure, Deccan’s failure too.  In the middle overs Dan Christian, Mishra, JP Duminy, and White can all bowl.  In the last season we saw Deccan Chargers lose a lot of match not because of their bowlers but because their batsmen failed to score runs.  I’m sure that this bowling unit has the goods to deliver and can defend a good score on any day.


The team with plenty of young Indian players will be one of the more interesting ones to watch because I really don’t know what to expect from Deccan.  It can be a repeat of 2008 or 2009 or just an average season like the last one.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

IPL 2012 Preview - Chennai Super Kings



Chennai Super Kings are without any doubt the most successful team in the tournament's short history and are also the defending champions. Having won the IPL trophy twice, they would be looking for the lucky third time. Led by the inspirational Indian skipper, CSK are one of the favorites to win the IPL this season.


Chennai has always boasted a very strong batting unit and that batting unit looks all the more stronger this year. With a strong Indian contingent, backed by a band of International stars, the Chennai team is definitely a powerhouse. The batting boasts some of India's brightest talent consisting of Murali Vijay, Srikkanth Anirudha, Subramanium Badrinath, and wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha. Added to this are the Indian International stars in the Indian skipper – MS Dhoni, and the swashbuckling south-paw, Suresh Raina. The overseas batsmen are not many thanks largely to the power of the Indian players and consists of the talented Australian T20 captain George Bailey, and Mr. Cricket Mike Hussey. The batting is one filled with superstars and the fall of one just brings another to the crease. Chennai also bat pretty deep thanks to the number of all-rounders in their side and I won't be surprised if opposition teams find bowling to them difficult. 


Chennai have always had in their ranks some of the finest all-rounders and this year it's no different. With the likes of Albie Morkel, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Scott Styris and India's Ravindra Jadeja. All-rounders give a team a lot of flexibility and they are tailor made for the T20 format. All four are not only decent with the bat but can very easily clear the ropes and also with the ball are no muck. I always thought Chennai have wasted Albie Morkel's T20 batting skills by batting him way down the order and it would be interesting to see how he goes.

The bowling has been Chennai's weakness in the past but they have made sure that it is one of the things that they have strengthened this year. Last season Doug Bollinger played a major role in providing the team with the early breakthroughs and keeping it tight near the death. Ashwin is another player who has been a grand success in the IPL and I feel a large amount of Chennai's fortunes would rest on these two players. Chennai also has a decent crop of Indian bowlers in Jakati, Tyagi, and TN Ranji star Yo Mahesh. So along with the all-rounders, MS Dhoni has plenty of options and in the end it will all come down to how he decides to use those options. Though not strong as their batting, Chennai's bowling attack nevertheless is pretty strong and can on their day bundle out a team quite cheaply.


 Overall Chennai look like a very very good team on paper and I would be disappointed if this team fails to make the sem-finals. They have always managed to do that and I don't think that would be changing this year.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Memes on Bangladesh reaching the Asia Cup Finals



These are various memes I managed to find on the internet after Bangladesh's historic win over Sri Lanka [SCORECARD] helping them reach the finals of the Asia Cup.  Due to the Bangladesh win, India are now out of the tournament and the Asia Cup finals is between Pakistan and Bangladesh.  [Click on the images to enlarge if needed.]

Nooooooo!!!
Sri  Lanka trolling India again!  
MSD - Forever Alone!
Conspiracy!  
Question every Indian is asking....

Sri Lanka's reply to the above question....or maybe they just can't win against Bangladesh.
[None of the images belong to The Wicket Post and are the sole property of the creators]

Monday, March 19, 2012

Episode 15 - Dravid's Retirement and Why Chris Martin should become a Batting Coach




We are finally back after a long break.


Recorded on 16th March 2012; Duration 29 minutes.


Description: In this episode, Michael and I take a look at all the cricket that happened since our previous recording and also the cricket going on right now.  We review the Commonweath Bank Triseries, and the South Africa versus New Zealand series and pay homage to Rahul Dravid.  Michael comes up with a bizarre suggestion during his stats class saying Chris Martin should become a batting coach and as usual backs it up with some very interesting stats.  




Panelists - 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.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Celebrate 100. Remember it follows 99.



Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar has finally become the first man to score hundred 100s.  Hailed as the superman of Indian cricket and a demi-god in his own way, the hundredth ton did take a long while to come.  More than a year to be precise and in that time an entire country waited with bathed breath while the familiar Tendulkar failed repeatedly to cross that 3 digit mark.  Tendulkar for once looked frailly human but yesterday against Bangladesh he put that to rest as he registered his 49th ODI century and his 100th International century.


A lot has been made of Sachin Tendulkar's 100th century and rightly so, because it is no mean achievement.  Perhaps more would have been made had he failed to score his century against a lesser Bangladesh outfit and continued the drought.  100 International centuries is a herculean achievement and one that should be recognized, but in celebrating the 100th century we mustn't lose our focus.

The 100th century is a landmark of significant achievement and it's similar to a batsman reaching the triple digits score in a match, but the fact that to get to that 100th century, the 99 before it play a vital role similar to the 99 runs before reaching 100 and we mustn't forget these contributions as we look at the special 100 alone.
(click to enlarge)
Sachin Tendulkar's feat showcases one thing and that is his longevity in the cricket arena.  Scoring 100 centuries is no easy task that can be done in the matter of few years.  Sachin Tendulkar's longevity is something that is admirable, because it is very rare in sports where a person is able to perform at the very highest level for such a long period and that too consistently.  Sachin Tendulkar might have conquered everything and maybe the only records he does not hold are the ones he is yet to create and surely this 100th ton is the summit and perhaps the final feather in the cap, but still he wants to continue playing cricket and that amount of desire to play and perform even after 20 long years is something to not only marvel but also to appreciate and applaud.  Sachin Tendulkar was playing before I was born and even before my parents met and that tells you a few things.  The best illustration is probably the team photo from the 1992 Benson and Hedges World Cup that features all the players and match officials that took part in the tournament.  In it only Sachin Tendulkar still continues to play cricket at the international level.



I think this 100th century has proven nothing special to the world and that is largely because there is nothing left to prove.  Sachin Tendulkar had proven everything when he had 99 centuries to his name and now with 100 still remains that legendary cricketer who forever will be remembered in the annals of this great game.  If anything the only thing that this 100th century has proved is that how difficult it is to score a century for even a man like Tendulkar, and hence how precious and cherished even one lone century is.  The last year has shown us that as Tendulkar struggled to score this 100th ton and you can understand his joy and relief when it finally happened.

Sachin Tendulkar is also known for getting out regularly in the nineties and I just wonder where he would be had he managed to convert them all to three figure scores.


One of the popular quips from the fans who follow the game is that whenever Sachin scores a century India tend to lose.  My father said the same as he voiced his sentiments of yesterday's match against Bangladesh that India lost.  Describing the match he said,
"the surgery is successful but the patient has died."  
That is the general feeling among the followers of this game, but as my friend Shashank in his article points out, "Yet another century in vain, but no one can take away the fact that 67 percent of his 49 ODI tons have resulted in an Indian victory."  This is what I think rather we should focus on.

So go ahead and celebrate the 100th, but don't forget the 99 that preceded it and remember that is was those 99 centuries that made the 100 possible.

The Centurion of Centuries



Sachin Tendulkar has finally done it and yesterday against Bangladesh, he managed to bring up his 100th International century, ending a year long wait.  So finally Sachin Tendulkar becomes the centurion of centuries and I'm sure this is one feat that probably will never be achieved be anyone else.

India did end up losing the match in shocking manner to the Bangladesh team, and now face a must win situation against Pakistan in their next Asia Cup encounter.  However the limelight still remains on Sachin Tendulkar and his 100th ton which in the end, unfortunately turned out to be all in vain.  Nevertheless here's to the man - Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar!  




Congratulations on yet another century! 

In my last post I had mentioned that Sachin Tendulkar would probably be scoring his 100th century in the match against Bangladesh, and how right I was!  Maybe people should start consulting me regarding their future?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Will it be Sachin's big day tomorrow?



The wait for Sachin Tendulkar's 100th century continues and saying it is overdue would be an understatement. It's been over a year since he scored his last century and in that time India have won the World Cup, Ponting and Dravid have bid adieu, another man has scored a double century in ODIs and the world has got tired expecting the next ton.


 Tomorrow India will be clashing against the 'mighty' minnows - Bangladesh in their Asia Cup fixture and this is probably one of the best opportunities that Sachin Tendulkar would have to score his elusive century. I feel that Tendulkar's time in the limited overs format is fast coming to an end and have a gut feeling that tomorrow might very well be the day when all this talk about him having lost his century scoring skill might be put to rest.

 In the last three months in Australia, India managed to register only 2 centuries but in their first match against Sri Lanka in subcontinent conditions they managed to score 2 centuries in just 3 hours. Just goes to show how big a difference 'home' conditions make. Tendulkar against a Bangladesh team (though not a weak side, they exactly are not Australia) in familiar subcontinental conditions can very well make it his day and there is a voice very similar to the one that Joan of Arc heard telling me that tomorrow is the day.

 Here's hoping that tomorrow is the big day for the 'anxious little master' and that this post is not a jinx.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dravid to Ride into the Sunset?



Rahul Dravid aged 39 has summoned the press tomorrow and is likely to announce his retirement from International cricket bringing to end one of India's most illustrious sports career, leaving behind a legacy worth remembering for generations and a void in the Indian team and the sport that would be hard to fill.


I am not here to eulogize Dravid but rather present him for the simple man that he is and probably that does best as Dravid himself  - a man who personifies modesty would like nothing better.  On a fateful June day at Lord's in 1996 under overcast conditions, a debutant scored a fluent 95 and since then has established himself as one of the greatest players in the modern day cricket and probably India's most accomplished player in the last decade with over 13,000 test runs and 36 centuries, second only to the little master from Mumbai.  He also holds the record for most catches in test cricket.

Rahul Dravid in my opinion is a misfit in the modern day arena and belongs to another era of cricketers all together.  However that little made any difference as Dravid with his traditional approach to the game still managed to hold centre stag. His technical poise, immense powers of concentration and patience and his impeccable judgement in the corridor won him the name 'The Wall' and has for long remained as India's most consistent performer with the bat, standing tall as others fell around him.  In an era where India boasted big names such as Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid often found himself in their shadows and his contributions not fully recognized.  Maybe this went well with Dravid who prefers to keep to himself and shy away from the spot light, but begs the question just how big a name and influence Dravid alone would have had on Indian cricket had he not lived in the shadows of his great fellow team-mates.


With Dravid's retirement, it would be the end of the 'classical test batsmen'.  Last one of his kind, Dravid will be most remembered for spending long hours in the middle, under the toiling sun, facing a barrage of bowling attack and slowly but steadily grinding them to death.  His technique and judgement around the corridor was impeccable and that is probably one of the reasons he remains as one of India's more successful overseas batsmen.  His ability to bat in difficult circumstances and over a prolonged period of time, complimenting well the Indian middle order filled with stroke makers in the likes of Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman won India many matches.   His innings in Eden Gardens in 2001 against the Australians is probably one of the best examples of this.  Dravid's role in the vital first drop is something that will be hard to fill in by another.  Dravid's very presence in the middle brought relief not just to the dressing room but also to countless hearts and finding a person who'll be able to do that will be very difficult if not impossible.

Though not a natural stroke maker like many of his colleagues, or blessed by the Gods by extraordinary talent, Dravid's entire accomplishment and career speak loud of commitment, hard work and humility.


He'll be remembered as a complete team man and someone who always put the team above everything - even himself.  A person who truly loved the game, he did his best to be a good ambassador of the game and a role model and I can't think of anyone in modern sports who not only served the game but also served keeping with the gentleman's spirit that the game is founded on.

The sight of a fast bowler steaming in and delivering the ball, Dravid rocking back, transferring his weight onto his back foot, and presenting his willow straight at the ball and pushing it hard into the ground is something that no longer be seen on the ground or the television and will remain as a burning image of 'the wall'.


I'll definitely miss him and consider one of my greatest privilege as having met the man not once but twice.  So here's to a champion and a hero of the game and hope that retirement treats him well, as he gets time to sit back on his sofa, sipping lemonade on a hot summer day and watch the rewards of his work when the Indian team next take field.