Mumbai Indians the official IPL chokers: Mumbai vs. Rajasthan

May 27, 2008

It’s now official: Mumbai Indians are the official chokers. Fellow blogger SP says quite straightly that they pulled a South Africa.

It was an incredibly entertaining match, going down to the wire – really down to the last ball. I was hoping for a bowl-out, actually, thought I think even if that had happened, Rajasthan would have won it.

How could have Mumbai lost this? Lost their head in the last 2 overs. Fernando messed up in the final over, Sachin blew it big time. With his cautious ODI-opening-overs-style batting and by pressurizing his team. He seemed to have slowed Jayasuriya down too. Yes, the pitch was slow, understood, but there was a sense that Sachin was waiting for something. And that something never came.

I was rather surprised to see that not much has changed in Sachin’s captaincy, after all the years. I also found it baffling that for the last ball, when the Rajasthan Royals needed 2 to win and 1 to tie, Sachin was signalling to spread out the field! Not bringing ’em in. Panic, I guess. Nothing else can explain that. I was also rather shocked to the hear the comments from him the post-match presentation: ‘lacked common sense’, etc, etc, dissing the team. That wasn’t the forum for that!

Meanwhile, thanks to the Rajasthan Royals, the Delhi Daredevils have a place in the semis now. Mumbai will now have to beat Bangalore in tomorrow’s match and hope Chennai lose. The Royal Challengers on the other hand have nothing to lose. After having moved up the table enough so as to not end up last, they might go for the kill. Something tells that Dravid might sign off the BRCs with this match and that despite conflicting media reports on his unhappiness with Mallya’s ways and his own denying rumors of quitting. Thus the extra motivation for the consolation victory.

I’m not cheering though, for my cheering seems to be jinxed. So I’ll shut up, watch, and then write.


Bangalore pull it off: Bangalore Royal Challengers vs. Deccan Chargers

May 25, 2008

For an IPL match that was largely called a battle to avoid the wooden spoon, it entertained quite well.

The entertainment value was not top class, but it felt like standard cricket: not too euphoric, for the most part, and even boring sometimes, but not without fluttering a supporter’s heart.

The Bangalore Royal Challengers seemed to have carried on some momentum from their previous unbelievable win against Chennai. Without Zaheer and Praveen, one would have thought the bowling had chinks, but the local boys and under-19s contributed well to the line up. The team spirit seems to have gotten better over the past couple of games.

Gilchrist won the toss and chose to bat first. Dravid responded by opening the bowling with Kumble, a move that seemd to suggest that he has returned to thinking ways, as opposed to panicking. Risky? Yes. Payed off? Not completely, but the Kumble-Steyn combination stopped the Gilchrist-Gibbs pair get off to a flyer. The move almost payed off with Kumble appealing although unsuccessfully for lbw against Gibbs. It remained just a close one, which umpire Koertzen turned down. Steyn continued some his good work from the the last couple matches. While the Deccan run rate was kept down to 5-odd for the first couple of overs, the bowling change to Kallis brought some change in fortunes. Shortly after taking a pummelling, Kallis retired hurt causing worries for the bating. The local boy Vinay Kumar with U-19 Virat Kohli succeded in keeping the Deccans down as Bangalore regularly picked up wickets. Perhaps the biggest blow for the Deccan was losing the IPL star Rohit Sharma after he hurt himself while batting.

Going by Bangalore’s chasing record, going after 165 seemed tough, but there was some hope with Jaffer on top to lead some stability. However, Jaffer turned out to be the clown of the batting line up for first running himself out and then atrociously running out the injured but belligerent Kallis by some very lazy running. Misbah came settled down, thrilled and went. Dravid also came, threatened to lead the chase, thrilled indeed with a six and three consecutive fours- all priceless beauties (including a Misbah trademark cheeky reverse one), but departed by mis-timing one from Sanjay Bangar. It seemed to be over for Bangalore at that point with the asking rate creeping to over 10. However they weren’t destined for the wooden spoon. Thanks to some hitting from until-now indifferent White and Kohli, but mostly to Akhil for sealing it with 2 sixes towards the end of 18th over. At the end of the day, it was team work that did it for Bangalore: everyone chipped in when it was required.

Mallya! You spilled trash too soon. This team isn’t as bad as your mouth.

Go Bangalore! Go Dravid!


IPL Saturday: Rajasthan vs. Chennai, Mumbai vs. Delhi

May 25, 2008

Two darn good games made my Saturday! It felt really good to watch two matches without exactly supporting one side. That both went down to the wire added to the pleasure. Competitive cricket (albeit the T20 variety) was played and entertained well.

The first came with a lot of hype, and lived up to it for the most part. While the first half was all Rajasthan, the second half was the more exciting one to watch. Chasing 200-odd in T20 is not an easy task and I though the Chennai team game the Rajasthan a run for their money. Credit to the Chennai Super Kings for that. While Dhoni reminded us once again never to depend on him too much, Parthiv played a good cricketing innings: almost no crap shots and a fairly cool head on those shoulders. I was also impressed with India-reject Raina. The other part that was really commendable was the Chennai crowds – who not only braved the sweltering heat, but also seemed great sports. When it comes to crowd sportsman spirit – we Chennai-ites kick partisan Mumbai’s butt!

I almost didn’t watch the Mumbai Indians and the Delhi Daredevils fight it out, but somehow they kept my attention. Sachin flopped yet again, as I had expected. Uthappa came good with the bat but made up the sloppiness while fielding. Sehwag ramped up by attacking Pollock like very few batsmen can. You cannot help but ebb with pride when sehwag bats like this. Was disappointed to see him fall shortly after, but that was to be expected. Gambhir turned it on, though cautiously. Dhawan and Tiwary batted T20 style – irritatingly T20, but entertaining nonetheless. Karthik, was the pick of the batsmen – played classly, pulling it off well, especially when it was required of him and almost not expected of him. Way to go Karthik!

It will now be interesting to see Mumbai fight it out. They will most probably lose to the Rajasthan Royals and though it may seem absurd to wish, I would like to see Bangalore trounce them once again. 🙂


Bangalore win a low scoring thriller: Bangalore vs. Chennai

May 22, 2008

Finally, luck favored Dravid’s Bangalore. With much of the batting being the same, Dravid being the lychpin holding it togather with some vintage shots, the Royal Challengers’s team spirit clicked yesturday. I think that was certainly one reason behind the win, apart from some brilliant fielding from in the team, esp Kallis, Kumble’s double wicket over, and some sensational stuff from Styen.

Of the Chennai team, Ajay Jadeja and cheerleaderish Kris Srikanth said they weren’t even going to consider Chennai losing and debated on how many over they would take to win. Chennai on the other hand buckled under pressure after their opening pair, Fleming and Patel, gave them a very good start of 60. Dhoni, coming in at #3, threw away his wicket (and no, I’m not complaining about it), and some poor shot selection saw an end to their brashness, as Dhoni rightly called it.

In the post match presentation, what was most stark was Dravid’s humility on being congratulated and Dhoni’s admission of brashness. As an BRC supporter, being up till midnight was totally worth it. End of the day, it was nice to see a smile on dear Dravid’s face, and pulling one over Dhoni.


Bangalore Royal Challengers raise hopes, but disappoint: Bangalore vs. Delhi

May 20, 2008

Back at home after a mentally gruelling (viewers included) tour of a couple of cities, Bangalore returned to face the Delhi Daredevils. What started off well, thanks mostly to some big hitting from Kallis, didn’t go too well, as the other opener, Chipli, fell soon. Dravid disappointed; I thought he was up for another blinder. Among the positives were Shreevats Goswami, who came good on debut, Misbah delivering after being long due, and Chipli’s fielding. It was nice to see the young Goswami hit cleanly and fearlessly; he was fairly good behind the stumps too. My heart goes out to the young wicket keeper batsmen of today. With Dhoni as the ODI captain, these kids might just end up playing Ranji for the rest of their career. Apart from the Misbah and Goswami, the other batsmen were just the same with run outs being atrocious. Even run-out-master Misbah seemd to be mouthing ‘are yaar’ on seeing his partners running amock. On the bowling front, other than Steyn and Kumble’s performance, there isn’t much to write about.

Either way, it would have been a tough one to win, given that at a point Delhi needed only 5 per over. They should have gotten Gambhir/Sehwag earlier or bowled really tight and got wickets. On the bowling front, Zaheer and Praveen did them in, big time and Kallis seems to be really out of sorts. One more wicket or better bowling might have seen them edge past. But at the end of the day, the better team won.

It was good to see the BRC’s fight back and some team spirit in their ranks, for whatever it is worth. Like Dravid said, I hope they spoil somebody’s party and end up with at least one more win.