Saturday, March 31, 2007

Australia and New Zealand sitting pretty

Take one look at the super8 points table and combine what you see with the fact that Australia and New Zealand are still to play Bangladesh and Ireland among their super8 clashes and it becomes clear that the two teams have literally booked a semi-final berth already.

The Australians especially have really outclassed every team they have played against in the World Cup till now. South Africans were a threat to them and they have managed to defeat them quite convincingly. The only other real threat to them seem to be the Kiwis who have been playing delectable and thoroughly professional cricket right through the World Cup and even before that. So, to me, after much talk about an open World Cup, the contenders for the cup are four teams: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka with the probabilities decreasing in the same order. West Indies, whom I had always been backing for a good performance, have sadly failed to come together. Unfortunately only one Brain Lara isn't good enough to beat a team of 11 solid players and no one else in the team has been firing. Now they have to win all four of their remaining super8 games for a semi-final spot. Highly unlikely.

What I want though is a New Zealand-Australia final. The Autralians' biggest strength is their confidence and surety and that part of their game will be a little low when they face the New Zealanders, thanks to the three back-to-back convincing defeats NZ handed out to them before the World Cup. Will be a cracker a contest. There is already a super8 match between the two teams scheduled on the 20th of April. I am looking forward to that game because that contest could well shape the fate of the World Cup.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

The real World Cup begins

What an awesome feat by Lasith Malinga! Four South African wickets in four balls. And what a perfect situation to bring up the amazing achivement. Consider this: South Africa have got 4 to win from 32 balls with 5 wickets in hand. And into the dead game is unleashed a man with a hairdo that can only be described as funky. He puts in four deliveries with a very curious yet deadly round-arm action and suddenly the game turns into a first rate thriller with the equation now being 3 of 22 balls with a lone wicket to protect.

This is how one-day cricket was designed to be (too bad Malinga couldnt finish it off with a victory for his team though). High quality players such as Malinga turning games topsy-turvy and making them totally unpredictable till the last ball is bowled and the last run scored. Not the drab one-sided 400+ and 150 all out scores that we have been getting used to seeing in the past few weeks. Of course the unexpected entry of Ireland into the Super8 will take a bit of the almost violent competition out of the tournament (Bangladesh might effect a few surprises though).

Ah!...if only the the world cup was exclusively for full members of ICC, I can only imagine how fiercely competitive it would have been right from day one. And maybe India would have still been in the tournament. Wishful thinking? Anyway, India or no India, I am going to follow this World Cup closely. Especially the NZ-Aus encounter.

And before the infamous ICC-Youtube tussle ends up in all those cricket videos being permanently removed from youtube let me sneak in one of them. You know which one this is! (Clue - this video features a ball of bleached hair)


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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Alternative jobs for the Indian team after the World Cup

(These funny pics landed in my e-mail today)

Robin Uthappa 


Yuvraj Singh


Zaheer Khan


Sachin Tendulkar


Virender Sehwag


Ajit Agarkar


Saurav Ganguly


Mahendra Singh Dhoni


Rahul Dravid


Anil Kumble

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The jokes surface again...

What did the spectator miss when he went to the toilet?
The entire Indian Innings.

Where do Indian batsmen perform the best?
In Advertisements.

When would Agarkar have 100 runs against his name?
When he is bowling.

What is the most proficient form of footwork displayed by Indian batsmen?
The walk back to the pavilion.

How do you increase the chances of the Indian batsmen playing out the entire 50 overs?
Try giving them two innings to begin with, then try three and so on.

What is the Indian version of a hat-trick?
3 runs in 3 balls

What is the height of optimism ?
Sehwag coming out to bat applying sunscreen on his face.

Phone Call for Sehwag:

Indian Team Manager(over Phone) : "Hello"
Sehwag's Wife :"Can I talk to Sehwag, this is his wife."
Indian Team Manager: "Sorry, he is just gone out to bat"
Sehwag's Wife:"No Problem Manager, I will Hold on"

DIVORCE COURT SCENE :
The Judge (J.) asks the little girl (LG):
Now that your parents are getting divorced do you want to live with your mommy?
LG - No, my mommy beats me.
J. - Well then, I guess you want to live with your daddy.
LG - No, my daddy beats me too.
J. - Well then, who do you want to live with?
LG - I want to live with the Indian Cricket team, they never beat anybody!!!!


SEHWAG's SON: Mummy mummy !! dekho papa six pe six mar rahe hain (Mummy mummy !! Look! Daddy is hitting six after six )

SEHWAG's WIFE: Beta theek se dekho,advertisement hoga ( Come on, son….that must be an advertisement)

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Where to now, team India?

India has lost to Sri Lanka. And Bangladesh have beaten Bermuda. We have been shown the door out of the World Cup by a team regarded as a lowly minnow. We have failed to put up even an enthusiastic fight. Mere losing doesn’t hurt. But two humiliating defeats wherein we even failed to consume all the 50 overs in a game, and that too in a World Cup where the teams are supposed to be lifting their performance by several notches, does hurt. All that talk about a famed batting order looks to be only a load of the cheapest crap meant only to hype up the Indian challenge. The reality is now glaring at us. In the face of pressure and on a pitch that has even a wee bit for the bowlers, the Indian batsmen have been found wanting. It happened in South Africa and now in the Caribbean. All I wanted was an honest fight. But that was not to be.

I could go on and on in my criticism and but what is relevant now is to think in terms of: where to now?

The Ranji scene: One thing that now suddenly seems incredibly obvious is that our batsmen are pampered. The arguments about the flat unsporting tracks on offer in the sub-continent have returned 100x magnified. Gloated egos of batsmen resulting from raw shot making suddenly seems abundant in the Ranji arena. The popular philosophy doing the rounds is: See it, belt it. Some belt it even without seeing it. Efforts made in making Indian tracks a little more bowler friendly are not working and the BCCI needs to bring in some experts to do the job.

Selection: Why didn't Dinesh Kaarthick play? Why was Sehwag not sent down the order? Why wasn't Powar selected? I might be speaking in hindsight and selection is a debatable issue but maybe it is time for the Indian selectors to adopt a more severe approach. Selection should no more be based on reputation but on recent form. Non performers need not be permanently let out of cricket but it should be indicated that Ranji cricket is more suited to regain form than International cricket. And when I say form I mean consistent form over a few weeks. Not just a lone patchy century against a non-descript bowling attack.

Coach and captain: Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid have not shown good results. But the immediate reaction should not be to ask for their heads. Dravid has proved to be a quick learner and can adapt well and must be given a chance to show what he has learned. Chappell has started something and should be allowed to finish it off. Of course if nothing happens in the course a few tournaments then heads will have to roll.  

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Leave of absence

Chennai is beckoning me. A cousin is getting married and I have to go. Back to blogging on Sunday.

On the field:
India won the toss and elected to field first - Dravid has learnt from his Bangladesh mistake.

Sri Lanka 60/2 (15.0 ov) - Our bowlers are doing a decent job. Hope to be blogging about an Indian victory when I return...

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What do Dravid & co. have in store for us today?

Honestly, my excitement has been dampened a little by the Bob Woolmer affair. And about the only thing that could revive it now is a thumping win for India over Sri Lanka today. That means my excitement is going to remain damp forever (just took a little dig at the Indian team. Feeling better now :-) ).

More seriously, the “stars” have to shine today. This is an acid test of their abilities. We need them to atleast put up an honest fight (not a drab 150 allout). I thought Dhoni would light up the World Cup. He has not. Not as yet. Infact no one except Yuvraj has really dazzled. And we don’t want today’s match to be their last chance. I hope we make it. I have to keep in mind though that it’s the Indian team I am talking about. So I am really hoping against hope (that was another dig. ah! now, that feels a lot more better).

Technically, we will still progress to the super8 even if we lose this match provided Bangladesh loses to Bermuda. But practically, we know that won't happen. A loss here will mean joining Pakistan in the return flight. 

Again I hope the Bob Woolmer thing had never happened at all....it feels weird talking about cricket like business as usual when a precious human life has been taken away, the way it was.

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Oh my God! Police say Woolmer was murdered

The full police statement from Cricinfo:

"Consistent with our approach from the time Pakistani cricket coach, Mr Robert Woolmer was found in his hotel room on Sunday, March 18, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has updated the media on all developments concerning our investigations of this case. The Jamaican police are in a position to inform that it is now in possession of the official post-mortem report from the government pathologist who conducted the autopsy on the late Mr Woolmer.

The pathologist report is now available and states that Mr Woolmer's death was due to asphyxia as a result of manual strangulation. In these circumstances, the matter of Mr Robert Woolmer's death is now being treated by the Jamaica Police as a case of murder. Steps are being taken to conclude these investigations, which include collecting statements from all persons who in the opinion of the police can be of assistance to these investigations.

In due course further announcements will be made as to the progress of our investigations of Mr Woolmer's murder. The JCF is making an appeal to anyone who may have information that would help us to identify Bob Woolmer's killer or killers to come forward in order that his wife, Gill, and his family can begin the process of healing.

It is our belief that those associated with or having access to Mr Woolmer may have vital information that would assist this inquiry. We appeal to these individuals to come forward now to assist us with our investigation. Our condolences go out to Gill, Bob's widow, and their sons, friends and members of the Pakistan team."

This is the most unsettling piece of news for me as for any true cricket fan. What was most feared and what every cricket follower wanted to disbelieve has turned out to be true. It was sad enough to know that death had cruelly gotten through to a great man who still had a lot more to offer to cricket and to the world. But to gulp in the fact that he was undone by the cruel and selfish intent of a bloody murderer is truly disorienting. A life has been lost and this is one big indelible scar on the game as well as on the World Cup.  

All I can do though is to hope and pray that the people behind this are brought down to justice for the sake of cricket and for the sake of Bob’s grieving family.

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Decider today. And hopefully this is not what Dravid is thinking....



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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Goodbye Inzi


It is sort of bewildering to suddenly realize that Inzamam will not be available in one-day international cricket any more.

We will never again witness the tall, chubby and bearded Inzi dismissing the red cherry away without the slightest effort or change of expression even in a pressure cooker of a one-day international.

World cricket will miss the towering yet calming influence of the thoroughly cultured and composed fatherly character that is Inzamam-ul-Haq. And Pakistan will sorely miss his services which have proved invaluable for them a lot more than once.

See ya around Inzi! And thank you for all the great moments you have provided us with!

 

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Sri Lankans are through. Its now between India and Bangladesh.

The permutations and combinations in Group B are now getting clearer.

Yet another quickfire century by Sanath Jayasuriya, the evergreen leather whipper, and it had to result in a big victory for Sri Lanka. And with this one they have have taken their NRR so high that they have practically reserved their seat in the Super8s.

Assuming that Bangladesh will win against Bermuda, India, thanks to a foolish loss in the first match, must and should win the game against the Lankans on March 23rd. And it wont be easy. Sri Lanka are on a roll and will badly want to win against India for the two points that they will need in the Super8. And apparently Jayawardene is already talking about it.

Are you listening, team India?

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh - this match is a lot more than what meets the eye

Lots of permutations and combinations are possible in group B that will decide the fate of India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the World Cup and this match will have a huge role. Let me make an attempt to get some possibilities cleared:

- If Bangladesh wins this match they are almost assured of a Super8 ticket. They will only have to beat Bermuda which I suppose they will accomplish quite easily. The fight for the other ticket will then be between Sri Lanka and India.

- However if Sri Lanka wins this match then again the doors would still remain open for all the three teams. However Sri Lanka will have an edge owing to their already high Net Run Rate and will only have to ensure that they do not lose very horribly against the Indians to book a Super8 slot. The competition would then come down to India and Bangladesh.

- Now for the Indian perspective. In other words this is what I want things to be like :-). Sri Lanka should beat Bangladesh by a huge margin so that the Bangladeshi run rate falls so low that if India only ensures a neat enough victory(if not very big) against the Lankans, we will get through. I doubt if Bangladesh has the firepower to defeat Bermuda by as huge a margin as would be required to surpass the Indian NRR(which has risen owing to the belting performance against Bermuda). This would mean that in addition to India crossing over to the Super8, we will also be going in with two points gained by the victory against Sri Lanka, the other Super8 qualifier.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

India clubs Bermuda into submission

The title may sound a little too dramatic but you can't blame me for it. It has become very rare nowadays that I get to blog in praise of the heroics of the Indian team and I had to grab this one. Never mind the opposition. Bermuda, we know, is playing it's first World Cup. Yet the total of 413/5 was a World Cup record and a lot of good things came out of the game. Though the win, if seen alone, is not very exciting some very important consequences have arisen from the match:

- By far the most important consequence of the match is that India's run rate got a crucial shot in the arm and we have now moved ahead of Bangadesh in the points table.

- The next most important thing is that Sehwag scored runs. Of course We still do not know if he has broken the shackles and come out of the bad patch but atleast he has proven something to himself.

- And it was refreshing to see the Indians go about their task with atleast a touch of professionalism. They were not looking to merely rip the leather off the ball right from ball one as they seemed to have tried doing against Bangladesh.

- Yuvraj is doing very well. He is at the top of his game and is striking the ball so well that his bat seems to have no edges. Atleast one Indian batsman who's form is not in doubt.

However, for some reason(maybe the foolish public outrage has shaken him up) Dhoni didnt seem very comfortable. Not that we needed him this time. Also, though Ganguly again got 80+ runs he sure was not timing the ball as well as we would expect him to and Uthappa is suddenly looking very ordinary.

The bowling had to be good given the kind of batsmen they were up against and Kumble's inclusion was, for me, a good thing.

Overall, India's chances of progressing into the super 8 somehow looks a little better. But only time will tell. I am waiting anxiously for the 23rd of March when the we take on the Lankans. We need to beat them and by a good margin too. And hope the Lankans convincingly thrash the Bangladeshis. That would brighten our chances much more.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Bob Woolmer's sad demise

It was shocking and very distressing to read about the Pakistan’s (now late) coach Bob Woolmer’s demise in the papers. Furthermore depressing is the fact that it seems to have been a direct consequence of the ‘stress’ caused by (the reaction to) Pakistan’s loss to Ireland a day before. Poor Woolmer. One can only imagine the hours of hardwork he had put in to do something good to Pakistan cricket. And how do the 'fans’ respond to one loss? By asking for his arrest. By displaying placards that apparently shouted out the words “Death to Woolmer!”.  And this was not even the first time

We know how capable Woolmer is as a coach. He was once attributed the glory of having taken the South Africans to unforeseen heights as their coach. And yet all the blame is put on him for his team having lost one game.

'Stress' doesn't actually describe the emotions he would have felt. 'Agony' and 'Torture' would be more like it. It is we who have lost a great servant of the game. It is our loss and nobody else's. And it is only the over-reactive fans (and the media that hype up the game) that are to be blamed and nobody else. It is only incidents such as these that bring us down to the ground realities. Cricket is no religion. It is just a sport. And a sport cannot be beyond life. It can never be beyond a man's emotions. My heart goes out to Woolmer and such other people who recieve no gratitude by the self-centered common man for the service they render. RIP Robert Andrew Woolmer.

Update: The murder angle

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Beating the minnows

Cricket seems to be an easy game. Pakistan has been playing cricket for a few decades now. So has India. In contrast Ireland is playing it's first World Cup under the tag of minnows and Bangladesh is playing under the same tag too though not in it's first World Cup. We've got decades of experience in the Indian and Pakistan teams and yet Ireland ends up beating Pakistan(after having drawn a game against the Zimbabweans) and Bangladesh literally beats up the Indian team.

These World Cups have traditionally been funny and it is no different this time round. Kenya went up to the semis last time and this time we could have debutant Ireland walking into the super 8.

Maybe our batsmen need to be more professional. Treat the minnow bowlers with respect. Run more ones, twos & threes and post a decent score. Not a huge score but atleast a score of say 240-250. I am sure the minnows do not have the batting depth and discipline to chase such a target. The batting department is where we need to outwit them because batting alone is the true test of skill for an inexperienced team. Surely, producing ten good balls requires far less consistency than scoring 250 clean runs.

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India's inexcusable loss against Bangladesh

An awful, inexcusable, deplorable and totally forgettable display of batting by the 'high and mighty' Indian batsmen really setup the stunning Bangladeshi 5 wicket win over India. I always feared this would happen and now it has happened.

Complacency in the Indian ranks was clear. The big wins in the practice matches did not help after all. None of the batsmen with the exception of Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh tried to first look at the bowling and then go for the shots.

Another factor suggesting complacency on the part of the Indians was the decision to bat first. It was an early morning start and everyone was talking in clear terms about the pitch having something for the bowlers earlier on. Yet Dravid chose to blow away the advantage of winning the toss and elected to bat first. You may call that a bold decision. I call it a clear undermining of the Bangladeshi bowling attack. I am sure in my mind that had we batted second our bowlers would have won the match for us.

Another nonsensical decision was to send Sehwag opening on a moving pitch which was sure to ease off later. When we anyway have another opener in Uthappa in the team it would have made a lot of sense to push Sehwag into the lower order. Lower order hitting is the key in a one-day match and Sehwag could have done the job.

Anyway, congratulations to the Bangladesh cricket team to for putting in such a brave and spirited performance. They wanted to win this match for Manjural Islam and Sajjadul Hasan, two cricketers who sadly died in a road accident very recently. Islam and Hasan will be smiling right now.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Gibbs' six sixes

Everyone is talking about Herschelle Gibbs and so will I. The whole South African team in general and Gibbs in particular literally toyed with the Netherland bowlers. But the highlight of the the match was ofcourse Gibbs grabbing a piece of history when he hit six sixes of six deliveries. It is a first for International cricket and I believe this will happen time and again every four years when the minnows surface.

A lot has been said about the utter needlessness of having the weaker teams playing in such a highly regarded tournament as this but of course the ICC will hear nothing about any of this. They need revenue and more matches will bring just that. I doubt if the real reason in having the minnows play is to improve cricket in their countries. We all know that there are much better ways of doing that.

Anyway, ICC and minnows apart, the six sixes feat is great for Gibbs. He is a powerful man and this feat will do him good for the rest of the series. For those of you who missed the telecast, here is a video from youtube. The fifth one was truly special for the sheer unorthodoxity and brutality of the shot. Match fixing or the quota system or poor form, nothing can stop Gibbs from being the butcher that he is.




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Friday, March 16, 2007

The first good match in a boring World Cup...

...and it had to come from Ireland! Surely the Ireland-Zimbabwe tie has been the most thrilling match in the world cup so far. And considering that this is only the third match in world cup history to end in a tie, it make the game all the more unique. While appreciation to the Irish team for having pulled out this feat is due, one cannot really help feeling sorry for the dismal state of affairs of the Zimbabwean cricket team. Once comprised of some distinguished cricketers such as Heath Streak, Tatenda Taibu and the Flower brothers among others, the team is in shambles now owing to some dirty politics of the land. Henry Olanga's "black banded" appearance before he left his land for England fearing for his life is still fresh in my mind. An emerging crop of young blood in the team was crushed and the team is now only made up of 'fillers'. An improving team was unfortunately nipped in the bud.

On another note, the West Indians are looking more and more like a silent force to me after that victory against Pakistan. I had made a mention before of a possibility of them being dark horses and I re-emphasise on it here.

And at St.Lucia, England seems to be struggling a little against the New Zealand bowling. 91/3 reads the scoreboard in 27 overs. Pietersen is there though at 35 at 62 balls. You can never say when he will start throwing his bat around. And as I type that he takes Patel for a huge six!

And regarding tomorrow, we finally have India taking on to the field against Bangladesh. I feel we need to be a little wary of the Bangladeshi cricketers lest some of my fears come true!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The BIG DAY arrives!

March 13th 2007, the day cricket-maniacs like me have been awaiting for quite some months now has finally arrived. Ushered in by some colourful celebrations (of which cricinfo has a neat account), I guess it couldn't be beginning with a more appropriate match than the West Indies vs Pakistan one scheduled for the opening day. Both teams being as unpredictable as the Indian monsoons, the match really sets the pace for the mega tournament. Anything can happen. The match could be a nail-biter on one side or a horribly one-sided event on the other, as could be the whole World Cup itself and I,rather smartly, am not venturing into any predictions right now.

On the flip side though, rivetting as the tournament would be, it is really sad that there are some matches that are mere formalities. In a tournament where high voltage cricket is generated everytime, such 'filler' matches do tend to take a bit of the sheen away. Only a bit though! I am going to stay stuck to the action no matter what. Eagerly waiting for the 17th March am I, when the Indians clash with the Bangladeshis. The 'men in blue' will be looking to strike the right note and it would be interesting how some of the out-of-form players will fare.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

World Cup trophy damaged in Kolkata

Apparently a gold ring at the bottom of the World Cup trophy somehow came unstuck. Cricinfo says:
A statement from the sponsors claimed the gold ring came unstuck when the trophy was handed over by the ICC earlier this week. "The lower gold ring of the World Cup was detached from the wooden base when the trophy was received from the ICC," the  statement said. "ICC policy does not allow anyone except the official trophy makers to repair/polish the trophy. "Therefore, LG (sponsors) received the trophy with the lower ring detached from the wooden base."
Wonder how this happened. Knowing those politicians at the BCCI for what they are, maybe one of them thought the gold could come of some use! Jus' kidding...

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Friday, March 9, 2007

All in a few weeks time

It was not a while ago when I made this post when Australia was slowly dragging England to a cricketing death. In less than four weeks time however, England, in conjunction with the New Zealand cricket team, have gone on to reverse the tides on the Australians. While you cannot really say for sure that Australian cricket is heading into it's evening, you will probably have noticed that they are not considered the favourites anymore. Talks of a World Cup open to all is abundant and the Australian captain Ricky Ponting is taking pains to tell the world that they are the "team to beat". All this in a few weeks time.

The English cricket team after the Ashes debacle and after the later mauling recieved during the first half of the one-day series in Australia was labelled 'hopeless' (and probably undeserving of test status!). Now even this team is deemed to have a good chance. All this in a few weeks time.

The New Zealand cricket team was not exactly grabbing headlines. They, after the convincing and extremely deserving 3-0 victory over the then favourite Australians, are now regarded as one of the serious frontliners for the title of World champions. All this in a few weeks time.

The Indians were utterly out of form and confidence. Senior players Sachin & Sehwag were not exactly setting the cricket field on fire. Yuvraj was out with an injury and looking improbable for the World Cup. The bowling, with the exception of Zaheer Khan, was not looking dangerous at all. Within a space of 7 matches at home everyone is scoring well. Agarkar & Munaf are among wickets & Yuvraj is back to his best both at point as also with a bat in hand on the 22 yards at the centre. All this in a few weeks time.

Everyone is now even stevens, as the expression goes. The stage is set. And again in a few weeks time(maybe a little more) we will have a (hopefully new) World Champion that will take the title of 'the team to beat'. India, maybe!!!

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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Bangladesh sounds a warning

The Kiwis came to the Carribean riding high on the waves of three consecutive and convincing victories over the Australians. They were the ones responsible for pushing Australia off the throne that is the No.1 ranking in one-day international cricket. And now, they have been defeated by Bangladesh - labelled 'minnows' (Test status doesn't make them 'not minnows').

With all the talk going around questioning the logic about having 'the minnows' in the World Cup, there undoubtedly has been a tendency to underestimate these teams. Bangladesh has been around for some time now and so have the Kenyans. Maybe now is the time to realize that these teams may have enough stuff to atleast effect a surprise win every now and then. I mean New Zealand will not want this repeating in the World Cup.

Makes me think: What if Bangladesh surprises India? Maybe I am being paranoid but thay have done it before. Its only a matter of one good day for them and one bad day for us. And then they defeat Bermuda. India is out with only a solitary win!!! We sure don't want the minnows playing....

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Beautiful Bulgaria

___________________________________


This is a sponsored post...


One of my good friends just returned from a vaction at Bulgaria last week. And guess what! He liked it so much there, he already owns some property there! How, I ask. And he points me to this neat website that deals with property in Bulgaria. And he's impressed so much upon me on great beaches, beautiful resorts and amazing people, I am already thinking of packing my bags!
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Liam Plunkett's sad situation

My heart goes out to Liam Plunkett, the lanky England seam bowler. Apparently his father is not doing very well with a life threatening kidney affliction and the only possible donor identified is Liam himself. But if he goes ahead with the donation he will end up being unfit for cricket. The doctors, it seems, have opined that cricket would be too taxing for a man with a single kidney.

So the choice for him is his father's life on the one side and his career and national duty on the other. Cruel, cruel fate.

 

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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Yuvraj and Sehwag may well hold the key

Ah! Can't wait for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 to begin! Everyone around is talking about it. And everyone says it is a very open competition. And everyone says the West Indian tracks are going to offer a run feast. One thing is for sure: there sure is a lot of excitement to look forward to!

From an Indian perspective, those that could really offer some sizzling shots do make up a decent list: Uthappa, Ganguly, Tendulkar, Sehwag, Dhoni & Yuvraj.

These are days when even a score of 400 in 50 overs cannot be safely labelled 'unchaseable'. And with predictions of a high scoring World Cup being rife it becomes all the more clear that the deciding stages of most matches are going to be the powerplay phase and the slog overs. As such it is imperative for every team to prepare for some hard hitting during these phases especially so during the slog overs.  

Getting 130 odd runs in the 20 powerplay overs shouldn't really be a big thing. But scoring at around 10 an over during the last 7-8 overs could make all the difference to a match especially where a lot of runs are involved. 

Indians, traditionally, have not exactly been reknowned to be very good finishers. But here I guess we better start breaking stereotypes. We've got people who can get us off to a flying start. We've got some real good men who can drop anchor in the middle overs. But as for some real 'slog over butchering', going by recent form, we've got only one man : Mahendra Singh Dhoni. And obviously it would be too much to expect that one man to come good, match after match. That is why, for India to do well, a lot will depend on Yuvraj and Sehwag(if he is played low down the order).

I feel these are the men to watch out for and these are the men on whose fate depends the whole team's fate.

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Sunday, March 4, 2007

Will Dravid's instincts pay off?

Really, the only two selections for the Indian World Cup squad that have been largely doubted are those of Sehwag and Pathan. And with Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of selectors, making it clear that Sehwag is 'in' only due to Dravid's stubborn insistence, a Sehwag failure will have accusing fingers pointing at the Indian captain and his success will ensure the opposite happens.

Personally, I strongly believe(and strongly pray) that Dravid's little gamble will pay off. Sehwag showed flashes of his belligerent self in the last match against the Lankans which goes to show that he is not exactly helpless about his batting form. And with predictions being made that cricket pitches in the Carribean are going to be nothing short of belters, the kind that would make Sehwag smack his lips in anticipation, Viru's chances seem quite bright.

Of course, cricket being the game that it is, any prediction is only a blind shot. Only time will tell whether Virender Sehwag will make his captain proud or have him hide his face in shame. So, the question remains: Will Dravid's instincts pay-off?

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