IPL Bangalore vs. Chennai: aka Dravid vs. Dhoni

April 28, 2008

Dravid’s Bangalore Royal Challengers are up for a stiff one today against Dhoni’s Super Kings with the likes of Hayden, Hussey and Muralitharan in their ranks. Judging by Bangalore’s previous effort, they need to raise the level of their game by several levels.

First and foremost, they need to function as a team. In the match against Rajasthan Royals, captain Dravid looked rather forlorn and his team seemed to have given up even before the second over of Rajasthan’s innings. Even if one were to give the quiet Dravid the benefit of the doubt on not acting perky (seriously, not all perky people are worth their salt), there was no real reason for not including Misbah ul-Haq or for persisting with the largely useless Sunil Joshi.

Secondly, Bangalore need to pace their innings well, keep wickets in hand for the first 5 overs and then think things through from there. Dravid needs to focus on what he does best: the elegant drives. Though that is easier said that done, the average well-wisher’s words of wisdom would be thus: “Captain Dravid, don’t slog! It ain’t working for you!”

As for me, I see this as a senior vs. junior clash and would like to see Dravid get the better of it. A couple of morale boosting victories are bound to help his form-crisis.

Good luck Bangalore and Dravid!

Advertisement

IPL Saturday: Chennai vs. Kolkata, Bangalore vs. Jaipur

April 26, 2008

A double-humdinger is about to play out today with a two pairs of evenly matched teams ready to challenge each other. The Chennai Super Kings vs. Kolkata Knight Riders, touted mainly as the Ganguly vs. Dhoni match will feature a few interesting duels including Ishant vs. Dhoni. I will be interested in the field that Ganguly sets for Dhoni, Parthiv Patel, and Kaif – all three being cricketers brought to limelight under Ganguly’s captaincy.

I expect the Bangalore Royal Challegers vs. Rajasthan Royals to be a cracker of a match with two deep strategists Dravid and Warne facing off. Bangalore will be boosted by the inclusion of Pakistan’s Misbah ul-haq but continue to be plagued by Sunil Joshi in the absense of Kumble. The most interesting contests here will be  Warne the bowler vs. Dravid the batsman. For once, I will be hoping that Misbah doesn’t land himself in trouble with the (largely unforgivable) scoop shot.

Cheers Kolkata and Bangalore! 🙂


IPL Drama: Harbhajan slaps Sreesanth

April 26, 2008

On Friday night, after a rather irritating inter-city commute, I turned on the TV to catch the score from Yuvraj’s Punjab XI vs. Mumbai match. I was explaining to an elderly member of the family about how this match is being played between two losers. Shortly after checking the score (and the one-sided balance of the match at that point), I switched off the TV and put an end to the crazy day that was, wondering in the back of my mind if others shared my view on this being the clash between the sore losers. This morning, when I checked Hindustan Times (online), the front page had a picture of Sreesanth crying with Preity Zinta and teammate consoling him, which made me to think that Punjab has lost another one; but that was only until I read the caption under the picture.

Harbhajan, Mumbai captain, apparently lost his cool after Sreesant had said ‘hard luck’ and responded by hitting him beneath the eye. While I have not yet seen that footage, the media is aglow with images of a teary eyed, inconsolable Sreesanth.

My initial reaction to Bhajji hitting Sree and the drama that ensued was embarrassment – on behalf of Harbhajan. Bhajji has ruined it and has made Team India, the BCCI, and us (bloggers/viewers/fellow India supporters) and look like clowns after having supporting him in the controversial row with Symonds. The next reaction was – what self respecting 25 year old man cries on field when the entire world is watching? That might be harsh, but honestly, he also gets a bit of sympathy from me. While the media reports that Harbhajan threatened to complain about Sree to Tendulkar et all, if the latter sledges his batsman, perhaps something nastier was said and Sree, shocked that his career might be on the line, reacted the way he did.

All this leads me back to the question I had asked before the start of the IPL. Is IPL good for Indian cricket or will the league rivalries get ugly? After all, Harbhajan and Sreesanth are members of the Indian lineup first and such rows, however downplayed are bound to leave feelings of embitterment.

What shall we now think of Harbhajan? Should we now be more wary when we support him? With such behavioral problems, doesn’t he become a bit of a liability when touring? After this, teams like Australia and South Africa are bound to play up any little thing out of proportion. What about Sreesanth? The aggressor now becomes the cry baby. He is sure to be taunted with this for a good part of his career. Let’s not even think about what could happen when he tours Australia next. 😦

Shame on you, Harbhajan. You have now breached our trust; you have also added fuel to the embers of the burning controversy stirred up in the recent tour of Australia. Shame on you too, Sreesanth, though to a lesser degree, as it seems like you were the victim of senior-chauvinism so rampant in Indian cricket. We want to see Sreesanth the aggressive wicket-taker, not the Sreesanth the clown or Sreesanth the cry baby!


Happy Birthday Tendulkar

April 23, 2008

Sachin, Indian cricket’s God and living legend turns 35 today. Wishing him several centuries and many more succesful years!


Bangalore Royal Challengers Stun Mumbai

April 22, 2008

Have you heard the Mumbai crowd cheering for Jayasuriya chanting “Su-ri-ya Su-ri-ya”? Have you seen an Indian cricketer (Kohli) pull a catch from thin air? Have you ever seen Zaheer Khan field like a 19 year old?  If you haven’t seen any of this before, and you missed the Bangalore vs. Mumbai match from last Sunday, you have certainly missed something in your armchair cricketing (aka avid viewing) career.

After a crushing defeat at home, in a contest where Bangalore was written off even before a single ball was bowled, the Royal Challengers, shall I say “pulled an India”? If you are wondering what I meant by “pulled an India”, maybe I should qualify that by adding Dravid-ian India. Just like Team India came back to life in their away tours after a devastating ODI World Cup, the Bangalore team came back in a way no one (avid supporter vmminervaincluded) could have imagined. At the Wankhede, where they only had a countable minority of supporters, they stunned the locals to silence.

The Mumbai Indians were no pansies. They had a super hyped batting line up with the likes of Sanath Jayasuriya, Robin Uthappaand pinch-hitting all rounder Shaun Pollock; not to forget a star studded bowling attack in Harbhajan, part-timer Jayasuriya, and former India-cap Nehra. Jayasuriya thrilled for one over and perished. Uthappa entertained with a 38 ball 48, but impressive bowling and fielding from the Banglore side restricted the hosts to a respectable albeit cautiously chase-able 168.

Many things went right for the Bangalore side, most importantly the gritty spirit and fielding. They looked seriously threatened when Jayasuriya mauled the bowling with the crowd madly behind the Lankan bombshell. But the Mumbaikars felt ominously quiet when Zaheer effected a spine-tingling run out to get rid of Sanath. Zaheer seemed almost possessed on the day; I blinked several times to check if the catch or the save was indeed effected by Zaheer. With 20 overs of unbelievable fielding and a tidy bowling spell, he inspired the others to fielding standards that was distinctly un-Indian. Apart from Zaheer, Praveen Kumar did quite well; so did Balachandra Akhil, who, although ended up wicketless with an econ of over ten, did bowl exceptionally well. Like they say, the figures on the scorecard don’t tell the whole story.

The Bangalore innings started rather sedately. Chanderpaul faced the first few deliveries bring Wall-Dravid on strike. Jaffer thankfully sat out this game. For one very inspired Pollock over, Dravid looked desperately Wall-ish and in a good amount of anguish. But it changed after he hit one of the most beautiful textbook on-drives and Chanderpaul lashed away in his own characteristic way. Then some drama intervened; if Mumbai’s Thornley spilt blood on the pitch, Bangalore’s Chanderpaul pulled one onto his knee (with bat speed of 95 kmph) and rolled with pain before asking for a runner. But he almost needn’t have; shortly after Kohli’s arrival, Chanderpaul hit one over the top, right into Kulkarni’s hands. For a short while Dravid (yes, this the Wall I am talking of) steadied the ship with classic shots for four, before being c&b-ed by captain Bhajji. Following that, Taylor and Kohli put on some runs, but in the end it was the South African duo of Kallis and Boucher who took Bangalore home. All this to a very quiet Mumbai crowd and with the Bangalore sit-out cheering a wide “like they had won the World Cup” (quoting commentators).

Bangalore made a charecteristically Dravid-ian statement with their victory over Mumbai on Sunday. There is certainly long way to go, but this has given us Bangalore supporters some hope. Go Bangalore! Show ’em you can!