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Archive for June, 2009

India bouncing up with the ‘bounce’..??

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

India managed to survive with a win against the Windies, despite being scared a bit by the Caribbean lower order..thanks to the slamming stroke play of Yuvi and the experience of Ashish Nehra, who bowled wonderfully well in the deaths. Team India had been in the middle of so many troubles since the IPL season. There were so many talks about the ‘failed’ tactics, the form of the skipper and Ishant, poor fielding, lack of motivation, absence of the one and only Sehwag, Ravindra Jadeja’s 25 out of 35 and many more. Their thirst for a win was quenched and it eases away some pressure.

However, if we look at the Indian top order especially Gambhir, Rohit n Raina, their problem with the short pitched deliveries still persist. I mean I don’t know why they are attempting to play the very same shot that repeatedly cost them their wicket. They are just poor ‘hookers’ of the cricket ball thanks to their ‘sub continent’ ancestry. Well may be we can make Sachin and Laxman exceptions from that list.

Gary Kirsten has a lot of work to do now. He needs to make the Indian players adjust with the conditions in West Indies which are more challenging than the Subcontinent conditions. The practice sessions must include the training to use the backfoot properly. The mistake they are making is that for reducing the effect of the swing of the deliveries, front foot often comes into play and they are not moving the backfoot backward while attempting to ‘hook’ and finally perishes at the square leg often. To hook without a ‘top edge’ is a difficult shot to make and needs excessive skill. Team India must tackle with those angling across balls ‘coz the wickets are a bit slow and the Windies pace attack can pepper them with those nasty deliveries.

Lets watch and see India bounce on top!

From dusk to dawn

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Pakistan has always been mercurial since the onset of modern cricket and they will remain like that also because that volatility is their hallmark. Pakistan never lacked talented players but they lacked cohesiveness every time. However, when Imran Khan helmed Pakistan in the 1992 World Cup, which they eventually won, they played as a unit. Pakistan lacked exceptional captains like Imran after that world cup and their ordinary performances were perfect examples for their lackluster leadership. Pakistan cricket was in a real mess when Younus Khan took over the captaincy. They were flooded with different controversies which involved their key players and officials followed by the terror attacks on the Lankan players which resulted in their isolation in the cricketing world. They were never favorites right through the World T20 and their hapless outing against the England in their opening match reinforced the points of critics. After their mesmerizing performance against the South Africans, they were eager to have that silverware, which they lost 2 years back to India by a whisker. Pakistan was clinical right through the final and as Wasim Akram mentioned, they were never authoritative like this in any of their past major battles.

Sloppy beginning

At the onset Pakistan didn’t look as ominous as they were after the first round. Their hapless performance against the England had invited criticism from all corners. Lot of people questioned the attitude of Younis Khan, especially his ‘smile in adversity’. In the next match, they had to battle their heart out to overcome an inspired Ireland. The batting strength of each team who competed in this tournament was more or less same notwithstanding, the depth of Indian batting line up who have Yusuf Pathan at 8. The bowling has been the decider of this edition of T20 WC. If we look at the bowling arsenal of all the semifinalists, we can see the diverse and quality bowling options each teams’ possessed. Pakistan has clear edge over the others in this department and the final is the perfect illustration of that. They have young Aamir and the come back all-rounder Abdul Razzak to embark on the proceedings, then a resurgent Afridi in the middle overs and at the death they have the ruthless Umar Gul with his toe-crushing reverse swing yorkers.

Overwhelming Gul and Afridi

In this edition, every team tried to avoid early hiccups during the power plays. As a result of that runs dried up in the first half and the onslaughts in the final overs got them enough runs to defend. But this strategy backfired against Pakistan as their strike bowlers Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi came in the later half of the match. In the middle overs, Afridi defied width and batsmen were forced to take singles. His quicker balls and other variations were hard to read and as a result runs dried up. When Umar Gul came to ball, the slog remained apparent and the batsmen had thrown their bat at everything. This also proved to be a failure as the batsmen had no answer for his reverse swinging yorkers. Pakistan also featured some smart slow bowlers who had supported this duo. In short, we can say that the bowling was the predominant factor of Pakistan’s World T20 triumph.

Zippy Kamran

Kamran Akmal’s form at the top has been instrumental in the batting success. The Pakistani middle order had not fired all cylinders like the last year and still they managed to get reasonable scores, due to the blitz from Kamran Afridi and Shoaib Malik. The new group of young batsmen have also shown glimpses of talent, which we would see in detail in the coming future. All together the batting efforts have been on par. The fielding was also impressive as we had some breathtaking, acrobatic efforts from Afridi and Co. The only loophole was seen in giving the extra runs which they need to work hard on.

This World Cup triumph would not shed the tag of the mercurial nature of Pakistan but it would definitely heal the many wounds of a nation affected by terrorism and who keep cricket close to their heart. They have to put the same kind of performance to get rid of their volatile nature and to prove to the world that this triumph is not a fluke. That won’t be easy for Pakistan, yet it’s not impossible for the caliber of Pakistan who lost the same trophy last time in the blink of an eye.

Dhoni to be blamed?

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

The T20 World Cup ’09 was a disappointing tournament for the Indian fans. The expectations were at the peak. But the unexpected early knockout of the Indian team really made the fans show off their anger.

Winning and loosing are all parts of the game, like two sides of a coin. When we toss the coin, we can’t predict which side will come up. The same is the case with cricket; especially the T20 version.

But let us take a look at it from media perspective. Media has come up with a discussion on “Who is to be blamed for the failure?”. This kind of discussion, although not necessary, will help to identify the pros and cons of the team.

There are many hot discussions going on. The most common one is, whether the skipper has to be blamed for his poor performance and co-ordination. As we all know, Dhoni is a talented player and very efficient as a skipper. But this time, he had a clash with the media on Sehwag’s much spoken injury. Many senior players have come up with the opinion that Dhoni needs to manage the media with more care. This incident might have indeed made some sparks inside the dressing room, which in turn made the players to deviate from the game.

Another hot discussion is on Sehwag’s absence. Many questions arise on this context. How much did India miss Virender Sehwag, with the kind of opening and the spontaneous start he gives? Did his injury bring down the confidence level in the team? India did not have an alternate option on who could give a sparkling start to the Indian innings together with Gambhir?

The after-effects of IPL matches is yet another important aspect. The players could have been drained and tired after the IPL as matches were played on consecutive days with a total of 59 matches! This can be considered a reason for the world cup failure indeed. But still, a vital question arises. What about the players in the other winning teams, as most of them have also played in IPL? Many players are of the opinion that IPL matches gave them a real opportunity to tune their strengths for the world cup.

Anyway, India’s T20 world cup dreams for the year 2009 has come to an end. Still we can hope(as usual) that they will come back with real energy for the upcoming West Indies tour and the biggy, ICC world cup.

Choices Galore For Andrew Symonds

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

When Andrew Symonds was sent home from the World ICC Twenty20 in June 2009 it was foreseen by all as the end of his international cricketing career. The reason for his exile from the Australian team in the World ICC Twenty20 was for violating a clause in his personal contract with Cricket Australia (CA) that prohibited him from drinking. Cricket Australia had no other choice, but to send him home.

It is speculated that the Australian all-rounder will announce his retirement from international cricket on Wednesday.

His retirement may actually be a blessing in disguise for him. There are a several franchises and teams who would be thrilled to have him in their team.  The Pro20 franchises in South Africa have expressed their interest and if Symonds is interested, he could earn a fortune playing in South Africa.

Deccan Chargers, the champions of IPL2009 had already made it very clear that they would retain the services of Andrew Symonds no matter what.

Queensland Cricket has also expressed their support to Symonds and seeking to have him in their team.

England is also looking forward to having Symonds as part of the English County cricket.

All in all, the statistics suggest that Symonds has nothing to lose, but loads to gain, money-wise.

However, cricket lovers all over the world will definitely love to see Andrew Symonds turn over a new leaf, quit drinking and continue to play for Australia. Let’s wish him the very best!

Hansie Cronje

Monday, June 1st, 2009

It was on this day in 2002, Hansie Cronje, one of the great captains, died on a plane crash. The moment we hear the name Hansie Cronje, we remember the scandal and his plane crash. But there’s something more worth this man has contributed to the game of cricket. He is one of the best captains cricket has ever had. Under his leadership, the South African team has recorded 99 wins out of 138 one-day internationals.

Hansie is still missed in South Africa. He is regarded as one of the greatest player in both forms of cricket. Hansie never compromised on discipline. It is said that he instilled his discipline in the team when he became the captain. The team as we all know, was excellent in all departments of the game during his captaincy. Fielding standards were at unreachable heights. Above all this, there was professionalism in the team.

Hansie was also a great all rounder. His medium pace deliveries has often served to be turning points of the game. As a middle order batsman, he has also earned many ‘man of the match’ awards. An example to quote would be the one with Australia in 1994, when he guided his team to victory. It was a triangular series that included New- Zealand also. He scored 91 runs and remained unbeaten.

Every man commits mistakes. But it requires great guts to confess that mistake to the whole world and it is obvious that Hansie had that guts.

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