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Team India stymies formidable Proteas

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Shikhar Dhawan exults after scoring centuryAt last, India broke the jinx! India has beaten a strong South African cricket team, that has been hailed as a strong favorite for the current edition of World cup-2015. Team India batted, bowled and fielded brilliantly on a day, where both teams looked highly intent on asserting their supremacy and emerge as group leaders. The team that won sent out a strong statement to other serious contenders like New Zealand and Australia. Incidentally, India triumphed in an emphatic fashion and laid a strong claim to their title defense. It may be recalled that India happens to be the defending champion.

India won the toss and elected to bat first. Rohit Sharma opened with Shikhar Dhawan, Both have been in good form, but Rohit set off for a non-existent single and AB de Villiers hit the bull’s eye with a direct throw. The ebullience of De Villiers is up to the fore, as he had just one stump to aim at. Rohit Sharma departed without scoring. Kohli joined Dhawan and the two batted sensibly and put on a century partnership. Virat Kohli departed trying to pull a length delivery from Imran Tahir and perished at mid-wicket. He tried this shot many times over with little success over the course of the current OZ tour. The classic example being his dismissal to Nathan Lyon in Adelaide test match, when India tried to force the issue on a 5th day pitch. Virat’s dismissal sealed their fate then.

Don't remember South Africa being outplayed like this in a long, long time!

- Sourav Ganguly

Ajinkya Rahane joined Dhawan next and the duo put on yet another century partnership. Rahane played his shots from the very first ball and looked in rich vein of form. He stepped out to loft Dale steyn for a six over straight fence. His gameplay was a treat to watch. Dhawan, at the other end, completed his hundred with a rasping cut to square leg fence. Both Dhawan and Rahane stepped on the gas and started scoring at a breeze. Dhawan, after scoring his hundred was unstoppable, but he fell to a mistimed hook after a well made and well compiled 137. Rahane hit 79 of just 62 balls, before trapped in front by a Dale Steyn’s special.. It must be said that Indian batsman, handled Steyn exceedingly well. Rest of the Indian batsman perished to indiscrete shots and could not accelerate at death. They failed to add yet another 30 runs for the platform, they were given.

Dale SteynSouth Africa, rather began their chase on a disastrous note, when Quinton De Kock spooned up a simple catch to Virat Kohli at mid-off when the score was just 12. Both Umesh Yadav and Mohd. Shami were right on money, piling it on and offering no freebies whatsoever. This very Indian attack was written off and dubbed as a joke after their total failure in test and tri-series, before the showpiece event began. But they proved that Indians are big match players and on their day, they can take down even the best of the batting line ups and the proteas proved no exception. Hashim Amla returned in the 11th over for just 22 unable to break the shackles. .

I just want to sit in my room and feel sad for a while!
        - A B De Villiers

A B de Villiers who came in next held the innings together with Faf Du Plessis and brought some sense of stability and momentum to South African innings.  He however attempted a non-existent 2nd run taking on Mohit Sharma and could not regain his crease. Dhoni promptly removed the bails. Prior to his ill-judged second run, he faced 4 consecutive deliveries without scoring a run. He was obviously frustrated and tried to up the run rate getting consumed in the process.  Such was the stranglehold exerted by Indians on  a day, when batting didn’t seem to be overtly difficult. He was caught short of the crease by a good foot or two.

However, with ABD’s exit, South Africa’s back was broken as he has been in unbelievable form and is the most prolific run getter for South Africa. His whirlwind 31 ball century against west Indies is still fresh in the memory of Cricket fans, the world over. Other batsmen came and gone. By De Villiers own admission, the match was lost due to the two big run-outs of his and Colin Miller. Those run-outs, however were engineered by Indians’ tight fielding and stellar bowling performance.

Without an iota of doubt, this must go down as one of the best performances by India in recent times. Their batting, bowling and fielding were top class and they made a strong statement to all title contenders that they are no push-overs. India getting into top-form would add a lot of variety to the world cup and truly makes it multi-dimensional. The result of this match was extremely just and magnificent and is a great Philip to the WOW factor in this world cup.

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West Indies beat beleaguered Pakistan

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pakistan Vs West Indies World Cup 2015Pakistan suffered a huge defeat in the hands of West Indies in its second successive match in world cup cricket and severely dented its chances of reaching the next stage. It may be recalled that Pakistan was beaten, neck and crop by arch-rivals India, in its earlier group match. Pakistan lost today’s match with a huge margin of 150 runs and their net run rate is abysmally low at –2.26. They also languish at the bottom of the table in Group-B.

West Indies after having been shocked by minnows Ireland, clawed its way back to upstage Pakistan in a superb show of belligerent batsmanship and accurate bowling. Pakistan obliged Windies with some loose shots, with their top order dancing to Calypso beat. Put into bat by Pakistan, West Indies piled up a huge 310 for 6 with most of the batsmen contributing to the team’s total.

Chris Gayle alone missed out on a good wicket in Christchurch. The wicket encouraged stroke play, but offered enough swing to the bowlers, whenever they bowled the channel. Though, the opening partnership gave in, Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo held the innings together. Bravo in particular played with conviction and dropped anchor. He subsequently retired with a torn hamstring, when he failed to evade a direct throw. His injury however is said to be of a lower grade. For West Indies, Andre Russell shone with bat and ball to be declared man of the match. He scored a cameo of 42 from 13 balls and took 3 wickets with the ball.

Sohaib Maqsood of PakistanIn contrast Pakistan started off on a disastrous note losing as many as 4 wickets for just one run on the board and the 4th over wasn’t even complete. Jerome Taylor and Jason Holder ran through their top order as Pakistan further slipped to 25 for 5. There isn’t even a semblance of fight from Pak batsmen as they kept marching back to pavilion like guinea pigs. Umar Akmal and Sohaib Maqsood registered half-centuries, but they kept losing wickets almost compulsively. They were eventually taken down for 160 in just 39 overs and the whole unit looked jaded and out- of- form en masse.

Pakistan is a cricket mad country and their fans must have pinned high hopes on their world cup team. They may not stand a genuine chance of winning the world cup, but such pathetic performance is least expected from an established side. Misbah-ul-Haq is now regarded as a weak captain and Younis Khan is asked to retire with immediate effect. With Ireland playing, out of their skins and other teams consolidating their position, Pakistan seems set for an early exit from 2015 world cup.

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India humiliate Pakistan again in world cup

Monday, February 16, 2015

Virat Kohli and Shikhar DhawanIndia once again, dashed Pakistan’s hopes of avoiding world cup ignominy in the hands of their arch-rivals, as India once again scored a facile 76-run victory and kicked-off their world cup campaign in style.. Both teams started-off on a poignant note, having been in indifferent form and badly wanted to win in a highly awaited,  nerve-wrenching, high voltage contest on a batting friendly wicket in Adelaide. Whoever won the match, derived an early advantage, momentum and confidence, in seamer-friendly conditions down under. However, Pakistan failed yet again, and went down tamely to India by 76 runs. India now command a 6-0 margin over their bitter rivals in a world cup showdown, in as many world cups.

MS Dhoni, the Indian captain, won the toss on a featherbed of a wicket and elected to bat first. India started steadily, before Rohit mistimed an intended pull to hole out at mid-off. Indian super star, Virat Kohli, arrived at the crease at his favorite no.3 position and looked at ease, right from the word go, timing and defending the ball, brilliantly. He along with another opener, Shikhar Dhawan, batted sensibly, picking up runs at will,  while also smashing boundaries, when Pak erred in line and length. Shikhar did himself a big favor by getting back into form with run-a-ball-innings. He was run out, when he backed up too far and could not beat the direct throw at non-striker’s end.

Virat was unrelenting though and has been the center of attraction. Unfazed by two dropped chances, he crafted a wonderful innings of 107, scoring his 22nd century of his career. Raina, who joined after the fall of Shikhar, played the aggressor and hit 3 towering sixes. He made a whirlwind 74 of just 56 balls.

Younis khan dismissed by ShamiLate order Indian batters failed to accelerate as Pak bowled a few good voers but could not prevent India from reaching 300 in their quota of 50 overs. A definite psychological advantage.

Pakistan began their chase in a disastrous fashion and lost an early wicket when veteran batsman Younis Khan fended-off a Mohd. Shami bouncer, to be caught by Dhoni who ran around to effect the first breakthrough. There was some resistance from the 2nd wicket pair of Ahmed Shehzad and Harris Sohail, who pulled-off some brave shots, but the target was a stiff one. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq made a responsible 76, but Pakistan was battling an uphill task, with the asking rate mounting all the time. Umar Akmal fell to a debatable decision while Shahid Afridi once again played a loose shot in his usual maverick style and perished in the deep on offside. Pakistan folded up for 224 eventually and India pulled off an essential victory that could well boost their morale and arm them with the much required confidence to defend their world champion status away from home.

Mohammad Shami picked up 4 wickets, while Mohit and Umesh took 2 a piece. Spinners bowled some tight overs in the middle. MSD looked in control and the whole team was laughing again. They are in an easy group and face South Africa in their next match, the only tough opponent.

India was partly written-off after their poor showing in the tri-series that preceded the cricket world cup that included England and the hosts Australia. Nevertheless, this victory should do their confidence a world of good and put them in the right frame of mind for a positive campaign.

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Virat Kohli plunders disciplined Proteas

Thursday, December 19, 2013

virat What a day for Indian fans! Indian batsmen lead by Virat Kohli showed admirable determination and a superb application on a Wanderers pitch that bore a settled look yet offering appreciable lateral movement.

The young Indian brigade lead by captain cool Mahendra Singh Dhoni drove the demons out of their minds and displayed great skill and application in keeping the dreaded South African attack at bay. At stumps India are in a good position at 255 for the loss of 5 wickets with both Dhoni and Rahane holding forte.

Indians have been written-off even before they landed in South Africa and they gladly obliged their tormentors by going down 0-2 rather meekly in ODI series, with the third of the series having been washed out. Cricket Pundits predicted that Indians are good in their backyard alone and cannot even hold a cricket bat outside sub-continent.

Perhaps the absence of expectations, helped them concentrate better. They exceeded all expectations and if they can put up another 100 runs for the last 5 wickets, which seems very likely, they will have batted themselves into a position of strength. The 8-0 debacle in England & Australia could be forgotten and forgiven, if Dhoni’s men could even draw the current series against the formidable  pace battery of Dale Steyn & Co.

Wanderers pitch is the quickest in South Africa and the pace twins, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel can swing the ball at 140 kmph and make the batsmen face chin music from just short of length. Steyn began in his usual fiery style and soon consumed Shikhar Dhawan who showed poor conviction by attempting a drag pull to a should-high delivery, outside the off-stump. It was his inability to sway out of the line of the ball that cost him his wicket. Murali Vijay was snared by Morne Morkel, who kept relentless pressure on Indians with an impeccable line.However, the openers played out the first 45 minutes of play and shielded the middle order from the opening burst of Steyn.

Kohli and Pujara then set up a marvelous partnership, which threatened to take the game away from Proteas. Kohli, cut, pulled and drove with consummate ease while Pujara slugged it out. Graeme Smith tried all his bowlers but no one could separate the pair.  Only a moment of discretion ended the brilliant partnership as Kohli called Pujara for a run and turned back to sell a dummy. Pujara returned disappointed but his contribution meant a lot to India as he bottled up his end as Virat Kohli kept pounding the South African bowlers with a strike rate in excess of 90.0

Kohli hit a chanceless 119 with 18 fours and looked at ease, ever since he first arrived at the crease. He fell to an innocuous delivery from Jack Kallis as he drove a wide half-volley into the waiting hands of JP Duminy. It was a clear lapse in concentration and Kohli was crestfallen, taking a while to begin his trudge back to pavilion. His established yet another fruitful partnership with Ajinkya Rahane, who looked solid if not as dominating and is unbeaten on 43. Rohit Sharma perished to a loose shot earlier, trying to drive on the up, while not moving his feet decisively to the pitch of the delivery.

Dhoni and Rahane are the last recognized pair for India, though, Ravichandran Ashwin is no mug with the bat and can play the waiting game as good as a frontline batsman. He also times the ball beautifully. If India can close-in on 350 mark, they have a real chance of giving South Africa a run for their money.

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Ashton Agar rekindles hope for Australia

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ashton Agar Ashton Agar, the teenage sensation from Down Under created history at Old Trafford, Manchester. The modest off spinner from Western Australia, coasted into the record books with a superlative performance coming in at 11. His record partnership with Phil Hughes lifted Australia from a pathetic 117 for 9 to 280 all out, giving a vital lead of 65 runs on a lively wicket.

The much awaited Ashes Test Cricket series got underway in old Trafford, Manchester on Wednesday, June the 10th. England opted to bat first after winning the toss on a sunny morning. In-form captain Cook and Joe Root began on a positive note, until James Pattinson struck early to dismiss Alastair Cook. Root then put on a steady half-century partnership with Jonathan Trott. However, Peter Siddle has other ideas and ran through the English middle order with an inspired spell of fast bowling and dismissed important batsmen in Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Matt Prior. England’s back is broken and they soon folded up for a paltry 215.

Australia, didn’t begin well either and lost top 4 wickets for a mere 53 runs. The first day saw a deluge of wickets and as many 14 wickets tumbled on a lively track. Steve Smith, played aggressor on second day with an impressive half-century before falling to James Anderson. Anderson piled agony on Australia with a rich haul of 5 wickets and was ably supported by Steve Finn and Graeme Swann. The Kangaroos slipped to 117 for 9. England rejoiced and dreamed of a resounding defence of their Ashes campaign.

Ashton Agar with girl friend Madi Hay It was not to be. The drama was yet to unfold. Out came an young man with a glee in his eyes. Affable and modest yet determined to fight it out, Ashton Agar, the lanky off-spinner from Western Australia walked into a high-voltage situation. Both Swann and Anderson are keeping a tight leash on the Aussies. He defended the first ball from Swann solidly that gave the impression of a front line batsman. He soon climbed into an Anderson’s delivery and hit it straight back for a well-timed boundary. No bowler had any impact on this young man, who went from strength to strength. There is nothing streaky about his stroke play. He played shots that would have made a top order batsman proud. Agar forged a record partnership of 163 for the 10th wicket with Phil Hughes, a new world record for the last wicket. He hit 12 fours and 2 sixes in an entertaining knock of 98 and fell agonizingly short of a well deserved hundred. He can however, feel proud of a match-winning performance that put Australia in front. Who would have imagined that Australia would post a lead after being 117 for 9.

It was a indeed a dream debut for Ashton Agar. The unassuming lad born in Victoria brought Australia right back into the game. The match is now wide open and whoever bats well in the 2nd innings will hold sway for the rest of the match.

Agar still has an unfinished job on hand, this time with the ball, as he happens to be the lone spinner for Kangaroos. Swann is turning it a mile and so can Agar. It promises to be a mouth-watering contest and let the best team win!

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The build up to The Ashes - 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ashes-Trophy Yet another edition of Ashes, the oldest and most prestigious, bilateral cricket series gets underway on the 10th of this month. Traditional rivals England and Australia take on each other for one of the most awaited test match cricket series of recent times.

England is currently the No.1 ranked test side in the world and truly remains so. They boast of great balance and composition to their side, both on paper and on form. In addition, they are lead by Alastair Cook, a fantastic batsman and a great leader of men. He’s got a great demeanor and is one of the coolest guys in world cricket, on par with India’s MS Dhoni. Kevin Pietersen returns to the English side after an injury sidelined him for the best part of 2013. KP is a match winner on any day and his return would surely bolster the English batting.

England looked on a different platter, ever since they won the difficult sub-continental tour. Alastair Cook’s men have showed great character and substance in living up to the pressure cooker scenario in dreaded sub-continental conditions. Their batting looks stronger, with Chef and Joe Root opening the batting. The likes of KP, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Bairstow beef up the middle order. Trott, in particular is in the form of his life.

English bowling looks menacing with James Anderson leading the pack. Incisive Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, the lanky pacer and the beefy Tim Bresnan make up the pace department. All seem to come up with and are capable of producing a wicket when their captain demands one. Graeme Swann lends serious balance to the side with a loopy, accurate and deceptive off-spin bowling. Matt Prior is a plucky wicket keeper, batsman who has been pretty consistent with the bat. However, they missed a trick or two in leaving out Nick Compton.

England are certainly the favorites going into the series.

On the other hand, Aussies are listless and are going through uncertain times. Michael Clarke, talks of a side in transition and thus sums up the woes in the side. They just sacked their coach, Micky Arthurs, who was eccentric and clownish in banning 4 of his players for a test match in India.

However, Australia have some experience in their skipper, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin among others. Their pace department too looks strong with James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and the bullish Peter Siddle. They also feature an young prospect in Ashton Agar, an offie.. Australia are without their stars and looks weak on paper. Nevertheless, it would be foolish to write off an Australian side, even before the series gets underway, as they are known for their ferocity and aggressive brand of cricket.

The fans, however,  can sit back and enjoy a high quality test match cricket series, for the next couple of months.

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Its not over till its over

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Last couple of days we have witnessed the IPL in its most entertaining form, the nail biting finishes, super overs, hat tricks; they say it can’t get better than this, but yes it will definitely get better and it will be more exciting and there will be lot more tense moments both for the players and for the fans as the IPL progresses. Because that is what IPL is all about. Except for the last game between the Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians which became a one sided affair, the three matches played before did speed up the heart beat of millions of fans across the cricketing community as the games were fought very closely and keenly that no one could predict who will come on top.

hat trickIt was the 11th hat-trick registered in all the IPL seasons so far and the second one for this year’s. Sunil Narine who continues to head the bowlers table for the most wickets in IPL 2013 is the first one to take a hat-trick of this season, but KKR failed to win that game. The second hat-trick by Amit Mishra saw to that Sunrisers have defended a total that is considered below par in this format of the game. Amit Mishra along with Yuvraj Singh have taken hat-trick wickets twice so far in IPLs. He now surpasses the same and becomes the only one to take 3 hat-tricks in the IPL since it started in 2008. 

In the KKR Vs KXIP match, Punjab scored a competitive total after the late heroics of Manpreet Singh Goni. Where was this guy all these days? Punjab will be more than happy to find a hope in form of Goni if he continues to bat like this as its batsmen not firing except for David Hussey. It looked as though  Kolkata will chase down the target barring an over or two until when a fluent Gautam Gambhir was caught behind off a Jaffa of a delivery from Goni. When Eoin Morgan got out, wickets started falling as their middle order collapsed with out putting up any fight.

Just when Punjab started feeling that they have an upper hand, Rajat Bhatia changed the fortune towards their side, hitting Parvinder Awana for two big sixes and changing the equation. But it lasted only for too little time as he dragged the last delivery of the penultimate over on to his stumps. The totally out of sorts Yusuf Pathan again failed to make an impression and Kolkata finished 4 short of the required 11 runs of the last over bowled well by Praveen Kumar. Later in the post match presentation, Gambhir mentioned that “One can never think that the game is in their control” which is but true looking at the next couple of  matches.

The super overDelhi Daredevils played a confident RCB in the next match that went to super over after the DD wicket keeper fumbled while collecting he last delivery and conceded a bye. RCB requiring 12 runs of the last over bowled by Irfan Pathan found a hero in Ravi Rampaul who not only managed to make it a draw but also bowled well in the super over that restricted Delhi. Umesh Yadav started off the DD super over with 4 good Yorker length deliveries giving away only 3 runs. But he lost his rhythm and bowled 2 length deliveries to ABD who smoked them into the crowds. Delhi came back into the game after picking up the wickets of Virat Kohli and ABD DeViliiers virat-abdwho had a solid partnership which threatened DD to take the game away from them. Surprisingly Virender Sehwag did not come out to bat in the super over for reasons unknown, Delhi needs to fire as a unit in all departments and need to win games consistently from now on to get back into the competition.

Pune warriors are to blame themselves for not being able to win the game chasing a below par total in their own  backyard. Atleast not after Pune reaching a score of 101-4 to get 18 runs from 3 overs with 6 wickets in hand. No one would have expected the Sunrisers Hyderabad to win this game after failing again to put up a decent total on board who were 17-4 at one stage. The Sunrisers have one of the best bowling units in this tournament. They really bowled well in almost all their games. Pune did everything correct until Amit Mishra came either to bat or bowl. First he scored runs and made sure that Hyderabad has got some total on the board to defend, even if it was below par. And then when they came out to defend, Mishra just conceded 19 runs of his allocated 4 overs quota taking the last 4 vital wickets that included a hat-trick.

When Gambhir and Eoin Morgan were batting, when Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers were batting and when Mathews and Mitchell Marsh were batting, in all these games the situation was the same, everyone thought these guys would take their sides to victory. But things change in T-20 matches so drastically. Everyone thought it was all over when these guys were batting the way they did. But its over only when it is actually over. While KKR and Pune saw adverse results, RCB pulled things back in their second chance in the super over. So the IPL is not over till its over, until then lets all have fun and enjoy these close encounters.

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Rohit launches murderous assault

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rohit SharmaRohit Sharma blasted away the feeble bowling attack of Pune Warriors on a lively Mumbai pitch that was of some assistance to speedsters. After failing to hit big in the first two games this season, the Mumbaikar has got two fifties in consecutive matches. He played second fiddle to a prolific Dinesh Karthik in his first knock against Delhi, who exploded with big sixes towards the end. But against the warriors, he launched into their bowling the moment he stepped in.

Sharma came in to bat after a solid start from MI top order batsmen. Sachin TendulkarClass Act: Sachin and the in-form Dinesh Karthik kept the score board ticking at a healthy rate. Then it was Rohit’s show all the way till the last delivery. He smacked the erratic Pune bowlers all over the park and cleared the ropes 8 times with ease out of which he sent the cork sailing over the boundary for Yes bank maxima as many as 5 times. His strike rate of almost 200 in the innings helped the host to post a huge total of 183 which set the stage for Mumbai Indian’s bowlers to rip through the relatively out of form Pune’s batting line up restricting them to 142.

Rohit Sharma who made his debut for India in 2007, failed to capitalise on the opportunities given to him by the national selectors. Praised as a very talented youngster with loads of talent, Rohit Sharma undoubtedly has got the class of one of his kind. It is always treat to watch this youngster play shots with exquisite timing and astounding placement. But one would wonder why a batsman of his calibre often fails to live upto the standards that match his capabilities. Rohit’s temperament was questioned by many critics more than once and he was the topic of many discussions on why he was given so many opportunities in the Indian side even after failing miserably so many times. He was the topic of discussion by cricket analysts more number of times because of his lack of form rather than as a consistent performer in the team.

No one can ever better analyse than Rohit himself on lack of being in form, and he should do some self reflection and come up with some solid performances and many runs under his belt if he likes to get out of his current predicament with the Indian side. But whatever his record as a batsman in the Indian side is, one must agree to the fact that he has been one of the finest young guns who have performed extremely well in the Indian Premier League.

In the first two editions of IPL, when he played for the Deccan Chargers team, he single handedly won many matches for his side. His lofted drive over the straight boundary was one of his best shots. He was instrumental in Deccan Chargers winning the second edition of the IPL. Then he was bought by the mighty Mumbai Indians and Rohit Sharma hopefully would have learnt a lot of lessons from the experienced Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar. For he is in a very good nick at present, scoring big runs by putting price on his wicket and finishing the games in style without throwing his wicket.

As Mumbai will take on a confident Rajasthan Royals who are also with equal points that of the MI on Wednesday evening, MI will again look to its in form players Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik to continue their good run and make valuable contributions in the Royals backyard in Jaipur.

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Meet The Author!

Hi there, I'm Murali Mohan Susarla, an internet researcher & an avid follower of cricket. I hail from India and am a tiny yet proud part of her vibrant cricketing culture. I wish to present you with crisp reviews & in-depth analysis of cricketing events from across the world. Thanks n enjoy my blog!

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