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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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10 reasons why Tendulkar refuses to retire..

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sachin with Anjali Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, India’s most favorite son, has been a subject of huge controversy and debate, lately. The legendary cricketer, who dispatched every bowler in his hey day is now despised bitterly by even the most fanatic of a cricket fan and a seasoned cricket journalist as well.

What makes him the most hated player, even after playing masterly cricket for 23 long years? What turns a hero into villain all of a sudden? What else should he do to satisfy his critics? Well, People first blamed it on his age and his poor reflexes, brought about by advancing age. However, nobody could unearth the real facts. It is in this light, Cricketbash, the blog, did some soul-searching and came up with highly qualified and startling facts on why Tendulkar refuses to retire. After all, you deserve the right to know the insider story.

So, here we go..

1. He sits before Anjali(his wife) all the time and keeps shouting “Aila” every 15 minutes. A doctor that she is, Anjali, felt that Sachin is better off on field than in their living room and asked him to postpone his plans of retirement indefinitely.

2. His daughter, Sara suffered convulsions and is currently undergoing treatment for trauma, for her dad wakes up in the middle of a night and flashes his shiny white teeth. Yet another reason why Anjali is concerned.

3. Aussies gave an advance notice that they will stop calling him as God, if he retired anytime soon.

sara Tendulkar 4.Gavaskar and Boycott think that Test cricket will die if Sachin retired. A highly courteous man, Sachin could not disregard their perspective.

5. He also fears that the title “Bonzer’ will be taken back and given to Steve Bucknor.

6.Neetu Ambani isn’t exactly inclined to play an ex-cricketer in Mumbai Indians.

8.Rahul Baba will pester him to join Congress Working Committee and run against Rabri Devi or Mayawati, in 2014 general elections.

9.He gets a chance to phase out MS Dhoni, if he stays until 2016.

10. He has an unfinished agenda to hit six sixers in a Dale Steyn’s over.

So, there you go, why should Sachin Tendulkar retire, when he has so many obligations to fulfill? The public are urged to observe restraint and continue to support him in his endeavor for excellence. Peace to all!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are definitely mine and have not been sponsored by Rahul baba Gandhi, Sonia Aunty or Yes Madam Singh.

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CSK does it in style

Arguably, the favourites, to win any edition of IPL, the men in yellow on Wednesday night dominated the Paajis from the Punjab in all the departments. Put in to bat first, Kings XI Punjab only managed to lose their first two wickets early, putting themselves under pressure. Brilliant catch from Man of the Match Michael Hussey saw that his former team mate Gilly returned to pavilion without scoring a great deal of runs. It also meant Kings XI had a slow and shaky start.

csk bowlingDavid Hussey along with Gurkeerat Singh looked to steady the ship after the loss of  Vohra’s wicket  and largely succeeded in doing so. Vohra perished in the deep, caught by Bravo off Ashwin.

When Gurkeerat mistimed a slower delivery and lost his wicket, Punjab lost half of their side. The tail enders could only do as much that gave a semblance of a chance for the Kings to defend. The pitch was totally conducive to  batting. A very disciplined and clever bowling attack from Chennai saw that Punjab lost wickets at regular intervals. Dirk Nannes conceded just one boundary in two matches he played for CSK so far. He bowled a maiden last over, a premium in T20 cricket. The Australian speedster who is currently the highest wicket taker in the T20 arena took 2 wickets while Bravo was rewarded with 3 wickets for his subtle variations in pace. No wonder MSD applauded their effort in the post match ceremony. 

Then it was Michael Hussey and Murali Vijay who assumed the centre stage for CSK, playing delightful strokes all over the park. They made history when they finished the game without losing a wicket. This is only the first time ever, a team won a game with all 10 wickets to spare in the IPL, since its inception in 2008. Murali Vijay coming with loads of confidence from the recently concluded Border-Gavaskar trophy showed what a class player he is in this format of the game. With run-a-delivery, he ably assisted the Mr. Cricket, Mike Hussey in their run chase. The duo paced their innings so well that they did not have to take any undue risks. Their running between the wickets was a standout.

Unbeaten DuoMichael Hussey who retired from playing international cricket for the Oz was clinical in his shot making and was the dominating player of the two openers. Hussey was dropped once and was also lucky when Gilchrist missed out on a stumping chance. Gurkeerat Singh took a stunner in their first battle against Pune Warriors but in this game, Punjab was totally out of sorts in their bowling, batting and fielding. Punjab will have to put this performance behind and come out fresh, if they’re to put up a good show against an in-form Rajasthan Royals. Chennai Super Kings on the other hand will look to continue their good form and improve their position in the teams table. 

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IPL is on

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The IPL 2013 is back in actionIPL is back and the ever loyal Indian fan is cheering again. The biggest cricketing fest in sub-continent comes back with a few additions, deletions and a few revisions to its format but retains its charisma. The mega event kicked off in hot summer as usual but the steamy performances of Bollywood Glamour dolls made the temperatures sore further.. Katrina and Padukone stole the show while king Khan unleashed himself in his inimitable style in front of his home audience (KKR)..

This time, the Indian Premier League has started off with Bret Lee uprooting the off stump of the young Unmukt Chand, the right hander playing inside the line of the away going delivery. KKR though has started off with a win continuing their domination from the last IPL, could not find partnerships going while chasing a modest 144 against the Royals who have not kept a foot wrong so far in this season. KKR hope that senior Pathan will perform to standards set by him.

The Gayle storm has already struck once giving the Royal Challengers their first win, but it was Virat Kohli who stole the lime light in their second encounter with the Sunrisers. An aggressive Kohli batted belligerently and his knock meant RCB scripted the highest run chase so far in IPL 2013. With the return of ABD in their ranks and with Virat and Gayle striking the ball well, the Challengers are looking good at the moment with their batting, but one can argue that their bowling looks inexperienced barring Muralidharan.

With the world's leading fast bowler Dale Steyn, Indian speedster Ishanth Sharma and a disciplined Amit Mishra in their bowling ranks, the Sunrisers have a very good bowling attack. But their batters are still battling to get in to form. Except for Cameron White who made a fifty, no one else has really fired for their team. Even with Akshanth Reddy getting some starts and Perera hitting some mighty blows, the Sunrisers need to fire with their bats if they are hoping to be there in the first four of the table.

Ricky Ponting took a brilliant catch inStunning Catch by Ponting short covers. Rohit Sharma is back to form with few mighty blows. But it is Dinesh Karthik who is the man in form for Mumbai Indians. DK almost got them through in their first game in Bangalore, nevertheless he has played some phenomenal shots against the Delhi Daredevils in their home game that saw this season's first 200 plus score. Thanks to Rohit, Pollard and Rayudu, the Mumbai Indian's middle order looks fine. But they need their Opening pair of the legends to come to party in the coming games. There has been much talk about them being the best opening pair and so on. It is only time they will get back to what they are best doing at; getting their best out in pressure. With Malinga back to the squad, Harbhajan, Jhonson, Ojha and Pollard bowling well in tandem, the MI bowling attack is formidable.

Rajasthan Royals are striking a good balance in all the departments of batting, bowling and fielding. They are really charged up under the stable captaincy of Rahul Dravid and is a team to watch out in IPL6. Kings XI Punjab played lone game and thumped the Pune Warriors who look completely out of sorts in all the three departments. They wish come back man Yuvi recovers and plays a vital role in their battling line up. Pune requires some resolution and they have to put up better display of their skills in the coming games, otherwise, the chances are that they end up in bottom lot.

Delhi Daredevils call for Virender Sehwag to change their fortunes. The Daredevils team is one of the IPL teams that performed consistently over the seasons. But the fact that they never reached finals anytime reminds that this team does not peak its performance when it mattered the most. Another team that still needs to open their account is the Chennai Super Kings. Under the able leadership of MS Dhoni, this team from the south is the only team to appear in 4 finals of the Indian Premier League and winning twice. As is the case in the previous years, CSK always remains as one of the favourites to win the trophy even if they lost their opening encounter to Mumbai in a close counter in which MSD played gem of a knock almost pulling the game in favour of the home team.

Another season of IPL is back for the fans, for the cricket's shortest version lovers, for the T20 cricket haters, for those cricketers who figure in only this form of game, for those innovative advertisements: Vodafone starting with the crazy feet and then the Zoo Zoos are back. IPL is back for the younger guns from various franchises to showcase their talent and to impress the Indian selectors for a place in the national squad. Long gone are the DLF Maximums, and it is time for OH YEAH!! ABHI the Pepsi Indian Premier League that has kicked off in style with a new tune to it, Jumping Japang Jampak Jampak. Gili gili yeah.. watch out for all the fun and action from your favourite players and franchises.

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