Thursday, March 31, 2011

India's "M" factor


Come Saturday, a billion people will be hoping and praying for Team India to have the last laugh in the 2011 edition.

We are a more confident lot compared to the Lankan's who have not been really tested.
Amidst all the saga that unfolded over the past 40 days, there is one sentiment associated with team India.

We have heard about "X" factor what is "M" factor ? Here we go !!!!

Mirpur
M Chinnaswamy Stadium
M A Chidambaram Stadium
Mottera
Mohali
Mumbai

India played in all the above venues and have won to a nicety.

Will venue luck continue to be with Team India? Time will decide !!!


M Krishnan
If Cricket were to be my Religion, Sachin will be my God

PS: Here is a sentiment from another friend. Saturday 2nd April 1983 India won the World cup. The Day is coming again. Saturday 2nd April 2011. 1983 & 2011 calendar are same. Check it. Much like 1983, INDIA will win the World Cup again.

World Cup Glory.... Hours Away!!!

The journey has been fascinating. The dream is about to come true. To be precise, it is only a game away. With billions of prayers & support, an astute captain with the brigade of warriors, not to mention the least the God of Cricket himself playing the fiddle, the reality is only hours apart.
The sheer joy of imagining how it feels when my country lifts the World Cup get the adrenaline pumping so much that I could feel every ounce of blood flowing in my veins. I’m sure every Indian cricketer must be living in this emotion to keep the energy up and high when they take on the Lankans on Saturday.
I knew even before the start that this World Cup is ours without an element of doubt. All along I was only focusing hard to get the screenplay right as a fortune teller. The choice of finalist did not come per my screenplay, but there is no change in the conclusion of tale.
For the purist and pundits who need more data to validate the conclusion than just passionate words, here you go.
Two teams have reached the finals. How they reached here do matters on concluding who will lift the trophy.
Much like India, Sri Lanka too played most of its games at their home. The point is Sri Lanka played the games to the weakness of opposition. The wickets prepared were doctored to appear devil for the guests while an angel for the home team. A weak and fragile Lankan middle order was made to appear par with any opposition middle order due to conditions. The doctored pitches strategy failed to save them when they played Pakistan, who is equally good in this environment. However there were passages when a team like New Zealand exposed the weakness of Lanka at their own backyard.
On the other hand, Indian wickets were fair to the opposition. It was a feather bed batting track most of the time. England demonstrated that by chasing the target of 338 close to perfection. South Africa eclipsed India by chasing a total of 296. India could have laid a square turner to beat any of these teams squarely. However, India chose to play to its strength than opposition weakness.
I’m sure the wicket in Mumbai will be neutral to both the teams and India will play to it strength and beat the Lankans comfortably on their weakness.
When India is clearly a batting team with the bowlers slowly coming to party, Lanka is neither a batting team nor a bowling side. After top 4, except for Mathews its only tail all the way. Except for Murali and Malinga there is not much of depth in bowling front. India will sure cook the half baked Lankans for Paneer Jalfrezi. I’m not being arrogant with this statement. I’m only sharing the truth which is tough pill to swallow.

Bottom Line: This Indian team is about to bring a lots of joy and happiness to our homes that we shall cherish down the memory lane to our children and grandchildren.

Dinesh
Crazy Cricket Lover

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dhoni's Interview

Crazy cricket lover had the opportunity to interview Dhoni after India’s match against Pakistan. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

Glad India is into Finals now. But, you had everyone gasping when you decided to field both Nehra and Patel in the same game?
Well… that was a part of our strategy. Not just to surprise the opponents, but everyone in the cricket world. It was one of those cunning strategies where the opposition batsmen get excited seeing Nehra and Munaf, and the crowd starting to boo us. That way the pressure is actually transferred to the Pakistani batsmen to score runs against these bowlers with the crowd behind them. Finally you saw how it worked in our favor.

Brilliant Dhoni!!! Will it be the same ploy in the Finals too?
In the finals we would like to improve upon the strategy. We will be playing Chawla along with Nehra and Patel.

How is Saeed Ajmal getting so much purchase from the wicket, while Bhajji did not?
Ajmal applied brain to his skills. You can’t expect that from a Sardar.

Then why do you play Bhajji?
You see I’m a Sardar too.

Sachin missing out the century even after four lives, Is that part of your cunning strategy?
Yeah. That is right. We specifically sent instruction to Sachin to throw away his wicket before the century. His centuries have been a bad omen for us. And in the end it proved to be the master stroke.

So you mean to say Sachin won’t be scoring a century from here on? There are billions of fans who are counting on this 100th century.
No. We understand the sentiments of India. We won’t be that cruel. Infact we are in talking terms to schedule a series against Kenya. That way you can expect India to win games despite Sachin’s century.

Why Sreeshanth is constantly ignored?
It has been a tough decision to leave him out all the time. Again there is a reason behind it. Sreeshanth look good on TV only when he is angry. So when we drop him, he will be angry and look good on TV. In a way it gives a feel to the audience that our team is fighting hard to win the game.

What is the case of Yousuf Pathan? Why is he still in the sidelines?
There is only one spot available. It has to be Suresh Raina or Yousuf Pathan. In a week from now IPL is starting. I think it will make more sense for my CSK team mate to get more practice ahead of Yousuf Pathan.

What are your plans for the Finals?
Obviously I can’t reveal it here. You can wait to watch it on Saturday.

Thanks Dhoni. Wishing you all the good luck to win the Finals.

Dinesh
Crazy Cricket Lover

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What to expect when you are expecting

I'm definitely not talking about the pregnancy bible here. Let us try to forecast the possible surprises that we can expect while we are expecting.

From the Pakistani Camp...
1. For a change Pakistan will open the bowling with fast bowlers at both end. We might see the combination of Akthar and Gul for the first time this world cup.
2. On the batting front, one of the big hitting lower order batsman might fancy their chances at no.3. Umar Akmal would be a good choice. But Pakistan might play it safe by sending Afridi at no.3. After all Pakistan team is used to failures of Afridi as a batsman and whatever comes from his blade at no.3 will all be bonus.
3. If one of the Pakistani openers fall immediately, Younis Khan could come at the fall of first wicket.

From the Indian think tank...
1. India could open the bowling with fast bowlers at both end.
2. If India decides to open the bowling with a spinner at one end, chances are good that we might see Yuvi in action as early as 2nd over if not first over.
3. India might play this game with 8 batsman too, considering Yousuf Pathan does not have to face the likes of Tait, Lee and Johnson.
4. On the batting front, Indian skipper could surprise Pakistan and the world by coming at no.3. If for some reasons, India want to unsettle the opposition with left right combination, Suresh Raina might take guard at no.3
5. For the first time we might see the offies of Sehwag.

Bottom line: All in all, expect the unexpected from both the camps

Dinesh
Cricket Lover

Sri Lanka storms to the Finals of the World Cup

Nobody counted NZ to play Semi Finals in the first place. So, whatever they do from here is only considered bonus. After all they would have forced some introspection to the format had they qualified for the Finals. I’m only continuing from where I left off in my earlier post.
Leaving no stones unturned Sri Lanka march into the Finals to take on the winner of India – Pakistan encounter.
Having said lowly about Kiwis, they definitely had to be appreciated for making a match out of the total they put on the board. However they will be cursing themselves for faltering towards the end of their batting innings. Had they applied themselves they would have added another 30 runs on the board and in the end they might have had the last laugh.
Some of their plays were more like playing into the hands of Lanka. The ploy of opening the bowling with spin at both ends might have worked well against South Africa. To the likes of subcontinent batsman playing spin from the beginning is like a stroll in the park.  All subcontinent batsman are circumspect to pace, bounce and movement than to spin.
It was also surprising to see Ryder bowling during those crucial moments. It was sure surprise for the audience, for Lankan batsman it was a blessing in disguise.
Sri Lanka looks like a team with tail right after no.4. India and Pakistan are bound to put pressure without a doubt. If it is Pakistan, they have a brilliant bowling attack to crack the top order and penetrate the middle order. If it were to be India, their batsman will put so much runs on the board, which will lead to top order of Sri Lanka cracking.
Bottom line: Sri Lanka does not look like a team that will win the Finals of 2011. I only wish they put a good fight to the opposition.

Dinesh
Cricket Lover

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kiwis?

Who would have expected in their wildest imagination that New Zealand would be playing the Semi Finals of the World Cup 2011? Not even their countrymen would have counted.
Few months back, this Kiwi side was trashed by a Bangladeshi Team 4-0. Then a second string Indian team beat them 5-0. Last but not the least, a controversy wrecked Pakistani Team beat them at their backyard 3-2.
All in all, Black Caps came into the World Cup as the Undermost Dogs. I’m really running out of words to say how bad this team entered campaign. 
They played their first match against Kenya. Even the skipper was sweetly surprised when his team trashed a hapless Kenyan team.
But that joy was short lived when Australia brought them to earth beating the comprehensively by 7 wickets and 96 balls to spare.
However Kiwis went on to crucify Zimbabwe in the league game. Again, Zimbabwe is hardly a team.
They went to play their third game against Pakistan. On paper Kiwis were expected to lose considering Pakistan bowling attack is one of the strongest in the World cup. To top it all Pakistan came into the game after beating Sri Lanka and Canada.  When a mismatch was on prospect, Kiwis surprised Pakistan and the world by taking the Pakistan bowlers for cleaners. The last 6 overs of Pakistan bowling produced almost 110 runs. Birthday Boy Rossy had a field day. That was the first time Kiwis raised the eye balls crushing Pakistan by 110 runs.
With the same momentum they went on to win their next game against Canada.
Some section of followers believed that Kiwis might challenge Sri Lanka in their final league game. Sadly their batting performance gave the impression that it was only a one match wonder against Pakistan.
All in all, NZ performed the league stage much to the expectation. Crucified minnows, won the odd game against Pakistan, lost the other two marquee games to finish last in the group.
A picture perfect script for the Group B topper to crucify Kiwis and storm into Semis. However NZ stunned the world by beating South Africa to enter Semi Finals of the grand event. The scorecard give the picture that NZ won the game convincingly. In reality it was a scratchy performance from their batsman that resulted in a moderate total on the board. The choking policy of South Africa made Kiwis the winner.
Despite making to the Semi Finals, their performance is still wanting at the big stage. By any stroke of luck (mind you, I used the word LUCK), if Kiwis go onto beat Sri Lanka in the Semi Finals, I’m sure ICC, the cricket gods and followers will start dissecting the format, more than appreciating NZ cricket.
Finally, I still don’t know how they made it to the Semi Finals. I wish they only get inspired from themselves and pick the bat to whack the opponents out of the world cup.

Dinesh

Cricket Lover

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spine Chilling World Cup Moments - India Vs Pakistan





Cancer cells multiply in large numbers to decay the human body at an arbitrary rate. But the interest around India Pakistan semifinal seems to be rising exponentially.

This match is the perfect icing on the cake for the tournament which has been already declared a "Block Buster".

No movie release this week for sure and no one would dare to think anything other than cricket until Wednesday.

Tickets can only be bought if new ones are printed or we have an expansion in the stadium limit. Mohali will be packed to the rafters with fans from both nations cheering and what a spectacle this is going to be.

India seeks political diplomacy in this match and hope we share peace and prosperity atleast on the cricketing front.

With the build up running haywire, lets unwind and look back at some of those intriguing moments which make this clash special.

#1:- Is this Monkey or Bun key Jump

Kiran More and Javed Miandad ran into a tussle in 1992 World Cup match in Australia.
For a change, actions took center stage as Javed Miandad unleashed his desire to jump up and down portraying a Kiran More stunt. Unfortunately his efforts could have been channelized towards running up and down for singles which would have helped his team win. India thrashed Pakistan to advance in the world cup. But this match is more remembered for Javed's acrobatism than for his cricket.

#2:- Oops !! where is the off Stump ?

Generally people go for walk, Have you seen stumps go for a walk, Yes it did happen in Bangalore in 1996. during the quarterfinal. Aamir Sohail unleashed a ferocious square drive to a Venkatesh Prasad delivery. His adrenaline was pumping and pointed his finger to the bowler. Then came a typical fast bowler reply. Aamir tried doing the same next ball and discovered he had three stumps before facing the ball and thereafter only two. But this in cricketing terms means "Bowled" and he had to walk back to the pavilion. Yet another act of foolishness by Pakistani batters which cost them a semifinal birth.

#3:- Oh No !!!! Not again

We have "Ball of the century ", do we have "Shot of the century", Yes there is one which came about during the India Pakistan match in 2003. Shoaib Akthar did not know that faster we bowl, the faster ball goes along the ground or sometime even over it. He ran into "The God" and realized bowling is not the same as flirting with gals. "Bang Bang Bang" was the sound in India when the delivery was deposited to the point boundary and we could hear the death rattle in Pakistan.Guess they lost the match to one boomerang from the Champion. Sachin, don't do these to bowlers, at the end of the day there are only humans not God like you.

My hair stands in unison whenever I watch that rocket to third man and to me that was the final nail in the coffin for the men in Green across the border.

Can Pakistan script a different story this time to beat India or will it be business as usual for the Men in Blue, time will decide.

Whatever happens, the legacy of India - Pakistan cricket will continue......


M Krishnan
If Cricket were to be my Religion, Sachin will be my God

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Agony & Ecstasy of India-Pakistan Clash - Moment #1


Come the 30th of March the whole nation would be rising to the big occasion and in earnest anticipation of the second semi final.

The cricketing animosities between the two nations go back a long way in history and they are sometimes used as a tool to bridge the gap on the political front.

The cricketing diplomacy between the two nations is beyond bat & ball and most encounters are a testimony to this fact.

Is this clash bigger than "The Ashes" or an "England Germany football match"?
The answer certainly is "Yes". A hundred thousand people from both nations and across the world pray for the success of there team and the on field cricket just rips the heart out of every individual.

Unfortunately, Pakistan had a rough run against India in the world cup encounters loosing all matches they have played from 92 to 2003.Even the test matches and 20/20 competitions have given the people some mouth watering contest .

The build cup continues and I will run through some of the memorable instances that are etched in the minds of people.....

#1 Agony and Pain :- Test match, 1999, Chennai

What a match this was? India were set a challenging score in the second innings to win the test match and the great man played an innings of his lifetime.

A star studded bowling line up of Akram, Younis, Saqlain came hard at the Indians but one man stood apart . No guesses it was the little champion "Sachin Tendulkar". He defied all odds to make a brilliant hundred before going down to Saqlain. What happened there after is history as India went down fighting by 12 runs.

Then came the moment, the Pakistan team rallied around the ground and the 40,000 people inside the ground saluted them for there victory but not without tears in our eyes. The great man battled severe pain in the back and almost single handedly took India home.

Most of the Pakistani players cherish this incident and for me a truly agonizing memory from the past.


M Krishnan
If Cricket were to be my Religion, Sachin will be my God

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Lady Luck - India Aussie experience


A comprehensive performance saw the men in Blue roll over the mighty Aussies at Motera.
The match was played in great spirit and make no mistake about it , India had to earn each and every run . When the going gets tough , the tough gets going and Ponting was testimony to this.

Out of form and when most people wrote him out , he made a hundred which has a lot of substance than flair.
Not all hundreds come on a green platter, we might have to grind and toil hard to make runs and believe me a century of this kind stands apart .

But I always had a gut feel that the India would win considering the Aussies were playing with an amateur spin attack.
India played out of there skin to win this match and most importantly was a team effort.Batters contributed to a nicety whilst the bowlers were backed by some athletic fielding which is alien to Indian team.

Fielding was crucial and to me we won because of our fielding , Saving 20 odd runs is gold dust and is almost equivalent to scoring 50 more runs and we managed to cross the line.

Not without moments , I was watching the match in my friend home, Aravind along with wife Srimathi and we had enough nails to bite.

Not without a share of sentiments engulfing this match, Srimathi was asked to sit in the same place with a plate filled with rice and continue to eat slowly and lady luck prevailed.

Believe me when she had no meal in her plate Dhoni did get out. I immediately asked her to do a refill and also requested to eat the same thing which she did before. But owing to non availability she had to switch to a different flavour and lady luck prevailed again.

My friend Aravind was asked not to move from his place and also not to change posture and he did oblige and boy did it not pay off.

And finally no Indian win is short of celebrations and myself , Aravind and Srimathi went to Hotel Saravana Bhavan and had Masala milk to savor the moment around 11 in the night.

Money takes a back seat when it comes to Cricket and such moments will be etched in our memories for a long time to come.

Certainly cricket is a religion and I am devotee , so are most Indians I reckon.

I am hoping to mimic the same setting for the Indo Pak clash on Wednesday and some notable ones are written below for reference.

1) Wear the same attire that we did for this match
2) Cook the same meal and hopefully having the same taste !!!
3) Sit in same position and eat meal at the same time as we did for the oz match.

Finally , there was small wedding invite next to my seat, That's a luck factor too . Boy this is now kept safe for the next match and will be placed besides me and hope luck prevails against the Pakistan encounter.

All in all a great match and hope we beat Pak in the Semifinals.
Jai Hind

M Krishnan
If Cricket were to by Religion, Sachin will be my God

Humdinger: India - Pak

No World Cup is complete without an India-Pakistan match.

Lets keep it straight. This match is beyond cricket, it is war minus shooting, mother of all matches, call it whichever way you want it to be.

What a cracker this is gonna be and the team which crosses the border will play the finals on 2nd Apr 2011. A date with destiny!!!

The build up has started in India and all roads are now leading to Mohali. News channels are sweeping hotel rooms, stadiums, anywhere and everywhere trying to get hold of players.

Mind games have started!!! Rest assured the build up is only going to get bigger and bigger everyday. I promise it will be deserted roads come Wednesday, everyone praying for their team to win. Pressure, home crowd, scintillating teams what else can this humdinger offer?

Keep the emergency numbers ready. It will be nerves and people might find wanting at the hospital on cardiac arrest.

It will be Indian batting vs Pakistan bowling.
The countdown has begun and we will track it all the way to the Titan clash. Watch out for my updates as I pump your adrenaline for the big game !!!

M Krishnan
If Cricket were to by Religion, Sachin will be my God

Journey and Prayers of a Cricket Lover

I’m a cricket lover. I’ve been brought up this way. I remember my uncles boasting how the great Indian Team won the World Cup in 1983. I was too young to understand it. I enjoyed the happiness in their faces whenever they talk about it. As I started growing, my love for cricket started growing too. Sadly my country was not doing great in cricket. Every time my country was getting beaten by England, Australia, West Indies, Pakistan it hurt me very much. I envied those teams. Since then I started praying God that my team should become a super power and win a world cup for me to celebrate.
Every four years a world cup came. Every time I was hopeful that my country will win the world cup. After that win, I too will start talking about the victory like my uncles. Sadly for me India never won a World Cup after 1983. I lost faith. But I was happy with one thing. We had Sachin Tendulkar. No team had anybody like Sachin. No player in the world has any records like Sachin. No batsman play more beautiful than Sachin. I started telling to myself that “Sachin Tendulkar” is happier to watch than dreaming about the the cup.
Year 2011:
Today, the people on the TV started telling that Sachin Tendulkar also wants to win the World Cup. I think he too must have uncles like me.
I’ve started praying again now. This time I’m not praying for me. I’m praying for the man who is more cricket lover than me. He is not like me, just praying and do nothing. He is fighting. He is fighting in the middle for millions of fans like me. This time I wish God be kind and grant the wish of India to win.
When India wins the cup, my journey and prayers would be over. But I promise that I will start someone’s journey.
- Journey and Prayers of a Cricket Lover

Thursday, March 24, 2011

India knocks out Australia

That was a cracker of a game. And you needed that giant effort to knock out a champion side. Whole hearted thanks to the Indian Team for bringing lots of joy and happiness in our homes.
When Dhoni announced the team after the toss, I felt a lump on my throat. Is it a right decision to leave out Yusuf Pathan?
I quickly got convinced that Suresh Raina is a better choice to bat Tait, Lee and Johnson. However the selection of Munaf Patel definitely baffled me. Both Sreeshanth and Chawla had good game against Australia in the warm up. It only makes sense atleast one of them is included in the playing 11. In all probabiliy it should have been Sreeshanth for the right balance. 

Much to the expectation, the mediocrity of Patel was completely exposed by the Australian batsmen. The sorrow did not end there. There was a time when India should be attacking as Haddin, Clarke, White and M Hussey departed at regular intervals, Dhoni was busy getting out the quota of Patel. Another day, India would have applied pressure at both ends to dismiss Australia at a cheaper total.

Dhoni might have total hatred for Sreeshanth, but I feel country takes precedence over personal likings. Mind you, it is Dhoni's name that is about to enter Hall of Fame as the World Cup winning Captain. Despite all this, if Dhoni is still not inclined on picking Sreeshanth, it is high time the think tank field 8 batsman.

All in good spirits, I only wish India dont repeat the same mistakes in Semi Finals. After all there is no time machine to rewrite history.

On the postive note, Indian fielding was awesome. Bowlers were brilliant. Once again Zaheer was the pick of the bowlers. The much criticised middle order came to party. Big Kudos. Excellent batting by Tendulkar, Gambir, Yuvi and Raina. Big thanks to Yuvi for leading the show. His performance would have shut those minds that doubted his credentials.

From Australia, It was heartening to see the champion making statement with a century.

Come Wednesday is another festive occassion. India takes on Pakistan at Mohali in the Semi Final clash. I would not be surprised if that day is declared public holiday in both these countries. At the end of the day only one country would celebrate while the other would grief.

Bottomline: When Tendulkar's century goes on a losing cause, it is critics pick. Does Ponting ton carry the same fate?

Dinesh
Cricket Lover

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Downfall of West Indian cricket

Its a bit hard to digest the slump of West Indian Cricket . From Heroes to Zeros is what I would describe them and the current team just can't find a way to shine and beat top notch teams. In an era where they dominated world cricket, we now find them in a deep dark hole seeking inspiration from all corners.

Why did this happen? Were they complacent and took it for granted that WI will always produce quality cricketers?

As an ardent cricket fan, I am gutted with the current teams performance. They carry a legacy of producing some great players and some that hits my mind are mentioned below

Greenidge
Haynes
Richards
Clive Lloyd
Kalicharan
Lara
Hooper
Marshall
Gomes
Holding
Garner

and lot more..

I guess a current world eleven would still struggle to beat them.

What's the way forward for this great team from yester year is something to ponder over.

Will they climb up and steal the show in the near future would be something that time can judge...

I am lost for words and let the best happen !!

M Krishnan, Chennai
If Cricket is my religion, Sachin will be my God

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The War of Dark Horses: Pakistan Vs West Indies

This is the War of Dark Horses. Thankfully it is scripted this way; otherwise it would have been sleepless nights for those who tag themselves as favorites to face either of them in Quarter Finals.
Honestly, WI has not lived up to the expectation of the dark horse tag. They have not beaten any of the big sides in this tournament so far. Pakistan would be the first team if that happens. There are some interesting problems for WI ahead of the big match. Ravi Rampaul waiting in the wings for the first 5 proved with the 5 wicket haul that he is too hot to be warming the bench. Guess he made it count for every game he sat out.
Russell filled the shoes of Dwayne Bravo quiet admirably.  The new kid Bishoo surprised the world with his leg breaks. While Pollard good with his variations and the Big Benny boy has been consistent with the new ball. With the pace guru Roach leading the pack, it is only Sammy The Captain spot is under fire as a bowler. To top it all Gayle has under bowled in this tournament.  It will be interesting to see who they drop out for this big game.
It is the WI batting that has let the team down in most occasions. Gayle, Bravo, Sarwan, Pollard have not been in the same page since game one. However it is Dwayne Smith who has been consistent with the bat for WI. 
The problems for Pakistan are their openers and wicket keeper. With Kamran replacing Shezad as opener and Asad Shafiq coming at no.3 extended more solidity to the batting. And Younis, Misbah, Umar, Afridi and Razzaq to follow, Pakistan line up definitely look much stable on paper.
On the bowling front, despite Abdur Rehman very effective with his left arm spin, Pakistan would be tempted to play Saeed Ajmal the off spinner to open the bowling against the likes of Chris Gayle. Mind you, when CHRIST Gayle was firing in all cylinders, it was the pair of offies Tredwell and Swann brought him down to earth for heaven’s sake. Again with mercurial Afridi and Umar Gul, Pakistan bowling can defend any low target their batsman give.
Having said that, this will be my line up for the game
WI: Chris Gayle, D Smith, D Bravo, Sarwan/Chanderpaul, Pollard, Thomas, Russell, Sammy, Roach, Benn, Rampaul.
Pak: Hafeez, Kamran, Shafiq, Younis Khan, Misbah, Umar Akmal, Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz
Bottom Line: It is the bowling unit that is likely to triumph the game for Pakistan or West Indies in this War of Dark Horses.
My favourites: Pakistan despite the Gayle Show.

Curtain Raiser - India vs Australia

What a tournament this has been and at the fag end of the qualifiers we have the top 8 teams make it to the quarter finals. Amidst all the competitive encounters the one which steals the limelight is the India-Australia encounter. Odds heavily stacked against India but will punter pull it off or can Dhoni's men seek revenge for the 2003 loss !! Lets dig n

Oz are no longer the same team as before. The so called Invincible are without their ace players and have entered the tournament for a change "Not Favourites". Its gonna be an interesting tussle between bat and ball but India edge out Australia in most departments. Australia fielding are a force to reckon with but then they lack teeth in bowling and batting.

Viru & Sach Vs Wason & Haddin

Tons of experience and class beckons the Indians and they take the initial advantage here. The opening pair have been destructive and most importantly in form. Sachin's favourite opponents and is due for a big innings and most probably the motera staidum will witness a big one from the champion. 45 more runs for 18k runs in ODI, 100 for 100 international tons and two short of hundred fifties, which one will he opt this time? Hey Oz's which one do you want !!! the choice is yours !!!

Captaincy Factor :- Ponting vs Dhoni
Odds heavily stacked against punter. Crunch time now, he will have a lot in his plate to ponder over and might not find time to break any more LCD's. Meanwhile the ever reliable, cool and calm Dhoni goes through regime to a nicety and will be playing mind games againt punter. Dhoni has a lot of variety in terms of bowling and batting and would back them to call on all the shots to break the Oz jinx.

Middle order
The Indian middle order is as strong as ever. Kohli, Pathan, Yuvi will have a lot to offer against their peers of White, Hussey, Smith. Barring Pathan everyone has had a decent hit in the middle and there confidence will be lot better compared to the Oz. Again consistency is not the folklore for Pathan.

How to play spin is something which runs through the veins of the Aussies?
I guess the answer they know themselves is "I dont know".

Turbonator :- Tasted success against Oz more often than not. Will not take a back step against the Aussies one bit. Punter vs bhajji a mouth watering encounter for the viewers but punter will have more tears in his eyes than water in his mouth.

Carrom Ball : How to play any idea Aussie?
N no of footage will help to solve this. Our Ashwin is a cricketer from streets and we know how tough it is to pick this in a tennis ball cricket.

Oz tips on how this carrom ball works:- IN Chennai we play street cricket called "Chucking". Bowlers stand and throw the ball at 100 miles an hour cutting the ball in both directions. This is not swing, it is turning the ball both ways, in better terms undercutting the ball. Same action the ball spin two ways and we still manage to hit sixes in street cricket. This bowling is popularly called "Sodakku Bowling" in Chennai. But Aussies, I guess before you could even hold your bat to take a swing the ball will spin and swing and eat the stumps. So don't waste time in trying to figure out how to play.

The Pacers: Here we have a strong tussle between left arm pacers from both teams. Zaks has matured as a bowler. Lee is back from hibernation with a bang. I feel he might get the same treatment as what Shoaib and Waqar got from Sach and Viru in 2003. Tait needs to be more tight, I meant in line and length :) Still our batters will flay you through point and covers. Guess your strategy might be to have two third mans which could be the first in the history of the game.

All in all a great content in hand and India should make it to Mohali.

C u soon !!!!

M Krishnan, Chennai
If Cricket is my religion, Sachin will be my God

Ricky Ponting


As the calls for Ricky Ponting’s head get louder, I would like to present my views on Ricky Ponting. Ricky Ponting is undoubtedly one of the best batsmen of our times. I have had the pleasure (Honestly speaking, as an Indian supporter, it wasn’t a pleasant experience at the time!) of watching him play at close quarters in 2003 and 2007 when India toured Australia. His records speak for themselves. He is Australia’s leading batsman in Tests and ODIs with more than 25,000 international runs at an average of 40-50. I distinctly remember his memorable knock of 96 on debut against Sri Lanka. Two innings that stand out in my mind are his performance against India in the 2003 World Cup (where he almost single handedly took the Cup away) and his innings of 240+ against India in the Melbourne Test of 2003! His captaincy record is extremely good and he is arguably one of Australia’s most successful captains.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, his sportsman spirit leaves a lot to be desired. He is a ruthless batsman and captain who plays to win at all costs! He does not believe in walking. I have no problem with this as it is an individual’s decision. But I have a problem with his philosophy that a batsman must take the word of a fielder for close catches! Remember the Sydney Test of 2008! Remember the times he has berated International players for not accepting the word of a fielder on a close catch. That, in my opinion, is hypocrisy. Is it easier for a batsman to know that he has nicked a ball or for a fielder to know that he has taken a catch cleanly when he is diving and rolling?

His on-field and off-field tantrums are far too many to be listed here. Ponting’s on-field dissent against on field umpires and opposing captains are legendary (Sydney Test 2008, Melbourne Test 2010 to quote a few). I read somewhere that Ponting has presided over more team offences during his captaincy reign than his predecessors Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor. Apparently, Ponting has been forced to pay more than $25,000 in fines since the behavioural measures were introduced in 1992. Of his eight breaches (an Australian record), five are related to umpire dissent.

It is looking likely that Australia will lose the upcoming Quarter Finals to India and Ponting dumped as the Captain of Australia. I think it is high time Ponting is sacked a Captain and is asked to continue as a specialist batsman.

I may be forced to eat my words in the event that Ponting scores a century and wins the game (and possibly the World Cup) for Australia and continues on!

Sai Mahesh
Sydney, Australia

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Stadium Experience: India Vs West Indies


The Stadium is full. It is an awesome feel to be here. I think this is the first time I’m singing the National Anthem with so much passion. Even on Independence Day or Republic Day, I don’t care to watch the Anthem, even on TV.

Not today. With so much passion, I'm singing the anthem with 40,000 people. What an amazing feeling?

Actually, I did not have tickets until Sunday morning. I was desperate. I made calls to people and also posted request for tickets ad in the internet too. Finally got a call from Somasundaram ground, T Nagar, Chennai saying they have 3 tickets.
I and Jimmy went there to purchase 1000 Rs ticket for 3000. Who bothers? Next month I will be getting a variable pay. I can compensate it there. If I miss this World Cup game, what is the point in earning? I went ahead and bought my tickets. Went to the around 12.30 noon and found a nice view to watch the game.

From here on it was real fun. I must admit that the Chennai crowd was biased towards one guy amidst 30 odd players.

You guessed it right. “The Great Man". He came in last to practice and had a few hits in the nets. Boy does his bat come so straight even in Nets? He went away after India won the toss and came back for Anthem. He departed soon after he got into the crease. Stunned silence as he got out, but then we all knew he will score in quarter finals.

When he came to field a funny incident happened. He was fielding near that squatting stand (B erstwhile) and all of sudden Dhoni wanted Kohli on the fence and Sachin inside the circle. The angry crowd got so tensed they started shouting "We want Sachin we want Sachin". Kohli was a dead duck. Finally Dhoni sent back Sachin and that section made more noise of joy than before. Poor Kholi!!! But guess he knew this would happen.

It is a kind of hutch advertisement. Wherever he goes his legacy follows


Also here I’m taking an opportunity to recall another interesting incident. One of my friend told me this. Long back, a German reporter was visiting Mumbai. At that time Sachin was batting and the reporter was travelling in a train. The train stopped at a station and all people including TTR came out to watch the cricket match on the TV sets at the station. The reporter went back to write " In India even time stops when one man bats "


Krishnan, Chennai
If Cricket were to be my religion, Sachin will be my God

Sunday, March 20, 2011

To Walk or not to Walk

Now that the first round has come to an end, I would like stir up the debate that has been raging for a long time. The question “Should batsmen walk back to the pavilion if they know that they are out?” Well, there has been contrasting approaches taken by today’s cricketers.

Ricky Ponting during Australia’s clash with Pakistan during the current world cup, knew very well that he was caught behind off Hafeez, yet stood his ground, till he was shown the exit when Pakistan opted to review. He even acknowledged that he was out the game, and yet wanted the umpire to give his decision. Quite the contrary was what Adam Gilchrist did in South Africa in a crucial semi finals against Sri Lanka in the 2003 edition. Glichrist headed back to the pavilion when umpire Rudi Koertzen essentially judged him not out as the Sri Lankans vociferously appealed that the batsman was caught behind. Gilli actually waited till Koertzen gave a no decision and then to the surprise of everyone including the fielding team, exhibited sportsmanship unknown in the Aussie cricketing world, by walking back to the stands. It’s a pity that the current Aussie captain failed to take a leaf out of his former teammate and deputy’s book.

Another bizarre incident was when Mahela Jayawardene stood his ground on a clean catch by Nathan McCullum. The funny part of this is that the review when referred upstairs came back in favor of Jayawarene to the amazement of everyone who has been blessed by God with the gift of eyesight. Apparently the umpire upstairs cannot see with naked eye as well as the technology eye. A real shame since Mahela went to add almost another 50 runs after that and was involved in a decisive third wicket stand with his captain Sangakaara that all but pocketed the game for Sri Lanka. Not sure if the batsman can be faulted but the umpire sure should be sacked.

And finally, the most classy and respected player in the game, just raised the bar on sportsmanship today, when the greatest cricketer of all time, Sachin Tendulkar headed back to the dressing room, while the umpire was standing there, shaking his head to a loud appeal from the Caribbeans. One cannot but look at him in awe for preserving the gentleman’s code of the game in today’s world of selfish players. He could easily have stayed put, waited for the review, which by the way in all likelihood would have gone in his favor, and he probably could have gone on to score his 100th international century. But he chose to play in the spirit of the game which all other top cricketers today don’t seem to hold on to. Gilchrist’s actions were called by some as accidental walking and so on, but I really condemn their comments. It was a commendable act by a great cricketer and I really wish others follow suit.

The game of cricket has always been dubbed as a gentleman’s game, yet you can count the gentlemen with your fingers today.

Arvind

Fortune Teller: World Cup 2011

After all the drama, the big 8 made it to the knock out as expected. It is truly the time now to go crazy about cricket.

For once, I want to be a fortune teller in this post. Actually there is a fortune teller living in every man in himself. Today I would like to bring mine in public.

There would be no complicated theories. No brain picking analysis. All straight answers based on stats and few hunches.

The Quarter Finals line up are as follows.

Pak Vs WI
SL Vs Eng
Aus Vs Ind
NZ Vs SA

Many might see 7 good games from here and one good team will prevail 3 games to win the title. I donot wish to leave this to randomness. For I see a pattern to these battles. In my opinion it is the clash of Group A Vs Group B.

The Result?
Group B had more competitive games and every team had to play out of their skin to qualify for the knockout compared to Group A. So it is clearly advantage Group B. Having said that there is one game which can be called as the War of Dark Horses. You got it right. I meant the Pakistan Vs WI clash. It is very much impossible to say who will triumph. Being a fortune teller, i'm giving you an answer. It is Pakistan. Pakistan has the advantage over WI despite the due for Gayle show. The reason being Pakistan turned better opposition in the marquee games compared to WI.

Having said that here is my Semi Finals line up.

Pakistan Vs India
England Vs South Africa

The Pakistan Vs India Semi finals is to be played in India. The advantage is defintely with Pakistan. After all, a subcontinent host, never won the Semi Finals while hosting. However there is also another stat that says Pakistan never beat India in a World Cup match. I wish to go with the stat that has majority. India won more World Cup games against Pakistan than India failed in the Semi Finals hosted by them.

In the other Semi Finals, England will beat South Africa. This conclusion is based on
1. South Africa chokes in crunch games.
2. England already beat South Africa in the league game.
3. England never lost in the Semi Finals of the World Cup match whenever they qualified.

Finally the finals, India Vs England. I would like to say pl refer to the article "Who will the win the World Cup 2011".

Never mind. I've decided to save your time. If we consider 1992 World Cup for reference, which would suit this scenario the most, this should be anybody's title. Having said that, England failed in 3 finals and also in the finals held in India before. This is too compelling stat to predict I N D I A will be the winner of the World Cup 2011.

The fortune teller in me could go entirely wrong. After all, you get a chance to laugh at yourself for believing a fortune teller. Else, you give me  "The Fortune Teller of the Decade" award.

Feel free to ping me in private to know how much of fortune I made on betting in favor of the above results?

Dinesh
Cricket Lover

PS: I would be glad if you could leave your predictions in the comment sections. After all its fun right?
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