Argh… CSK pull it off against KKR

April 14, 2010

One must feel for Sourav Ganguly. First there was the outburst after the loss to RCB, then this is the response. As a die-hard Sourav fan, I honestly felt for this loss of KKR, and switched off the TV midway thru the match, knowing its direction. It was like going down the memory lane thru the many defeats India suffered to a world class Australian team in the late 90s under Ganguly, the difference being that was Aus and this was merely Chennai (further, they were 50 over matches, which offers more hope for even in hopeless situations, but I will not go there now). So much for city-support, I live in Chennai and I don’t recall myself ever having supported them :), and proudly so. For more on the city support phenomenon, fellow blogger SP has a full fledged post here.

Feelings apart, KKR need to perform a lot better than this to deserve a place in the semis.  The  top order almost never fire;  if they  do, the middle order flops. Despite all odds, if they happen to put up a decent total, the bowlers find a way to mess it up royally. The team management seriously need to think about Ajit Agarkar’s place in team. It was shocking that he managed to get several games.

It will be interesting to see who all will qualify for the semis. Only Mumbai have a confirmed spot. KKR will now have to beat Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai with a very good run rate and hope the other results go their way.


BCCI’s bars Indian criketers from English counties with ICL links

July 17, 2008

No, I’m not kidding, the BCCI has got a serious case of ICL-cooties. Check out the story here. There has got to be some limit to this.

First, they call ICL a rogue league, then they ban them from ever representing India. After that, they ban counties with ICL players to play in the recently announced Champions League. Now they are barring Indian cricketers from signing contracts with English counties who have ICL players/staff. It is noteworthy here to point out that only Middlesex, Somerset and Essex have teams without any ICL players (source Cricinfo).

This will deny opportunities for Piyush Chawla, VVS Laxman and Ajit Agarkar, who are about to sign contracts with English counties.

How far can the BCCI take this? Here are some thoughts:

1. Retroactively ban Indian cricketers Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble and Zaheer for having associated themselves with counties that now have ICL players. (As an aside, this will be Dhoni’s dream come true – a nice way to get rid of the seniors once and for all)

2. Get ICC to revoke international-status for cricket grounds belonging to counties with ICL staff. Further revoke such privileges from all grounds worldwide where an ICL player has set foot (again retroactively also). This will date back to ICL player’s pre-ICL days.

3. Stop buying any gear from all brands sported by ICL players

4. Ban all Test playing and affiliate nations from using colors used by ICL-bearing English counties, ICL teams, and ICL players (including their off-time)

5. Ban any future talent from playing matches in any form of cricket world who have had any association with ICL players, again retroactively applied. This includes friends and neighbors of ICL players, people who visit or own grocery stores, movie theatres, shopping malls, or any other public place graced by any ICL member.

I think I could go on, but you get the idea.

While I’m not surprised that the ECB hasn’t done anything about this yet, I would expect some kind of backlash, at least to save face. England should pull out of their tour of India in protest and suspend hosting any future tours of India until the issue is resolved.

This whole BCCI vs. ICL issue has been ridiculous. Kapil Dev’s ICL after all was started with good intent: to groom young Indian talent by providing them opportunites to play against international quality opposition. The BCCI have successfully thwarted them. Fellow blogger Q has suggested that they are left no other option but to take their cricket elsewhere, like the UAE. Perhaps that is the only alternative they have now to survive.


The IPL Opener: Bangalore vs. Kolkata

April 17, 2008

As a new day dawns on  a brand new form of cricket, I am reminded of some memorable moments from my high school days. I remember the times when I used to play book cricket with a friend in the last bench when the Physics teacher was explaining Bernoulli’s theorm. My friend and I had several different teams pitted against each other: India against Australia, India against Pakistan, India against World Dream Team XI, India World (lead by Ganguly) vs. India A (lead by Azharuddin). While we did this, we wondered how interesting it would be to watch some of our folks playing against one another. This dream has now come true, with Sourav’s Kolkata facing-off against Dravid’s Bangalore.

Though, “officially” I’m a Bangalore supporter – not Chennai, to know why check this out – this will be a hard one, since the opposition is Ganguly’s Team.

This Ganguly vs. Dravid match will be interesting for many reasons. First being, neither have played much T20. Secondly, these two are perhaps the best you can get if you are looking for opposite ends of the captaincy style spectrum. The biggest question is whether Dravid’s strategy and technique will trounce Ganguly’s adrenaline powered leadership.

Other things to look forward to:
– Ganguly’s down-the-track 6
– Dravid’s stylish drives (form permitting)
– Ishant Sharma vs. Dravid
– Ricky Ponting’s attitude
– Virat Kohli’s game
– Bangalore fans cheering as Ajit Agarkar gifts run to the opposition 🙂

Technically, I think Bangalore has batting stability but lack variety in bowling. With Dravid, Kallis, Kohli and Boucher, the batting line up seems secure though it will be interesting to see how the former two Test stars adapt to the abridged form of the game. Kolkata seems a smidgen more balanced in the team (excluding Agarkar of course), perhaps due to strike bowler Ishant Sharma and spinner Murali Karthik.

I was very sceptic about the T20 format, before the T20 World Cup in Sept of last year, but this time I’m not sceptic. I’m dying in anticipation of the match, and hope that there will be some highlights on Sony MAX! (I wait so long for a dream face-off, hoped to watch it at the stadium, but can’t even watch it live on TV; but that’s life, I guess).

Cheers, Bangalore Royal Challengers rock ’em. Good luck Ganguly and Dravid, we love you!


The T20 World Champions prevail: India beat Australia by 7 wickets

October 21, 2007

The Bradbourne stadium came alive as India, the T-2o World Champions took on Australia in the much anticipated 20-20 clash between the teams. The South African atmosphere was replicated here with the hip music and dancing girls which added spice to the already curry-hot up series. If one needed more, yes there was: starting from cricket veterans like Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavasakar, and living legend Sachin Tendulkar, to Bollywood’s best and “lucky-charm” Shah Rukh Khan who came with Deepika Padukone in tow (if media reports are to be believed, she was the captain Dhoni’s guest).

With Australia winning the toss and batting first, I was wary: the only match in the T20 World Cup that India lost (against New Zealand) was one in which they chased. Although that match included Ajit Agarkar, the run gift-giver, and this one did not, anything could happen in a 20-20 match. However, that was not to be. The first over was full of excitement, with Gilchrist slamming 3 fours and R P Singh bagging his wicket with a beauty of a yorker. More Aussie action followed with in form Ponting flourishing and runs flowing, but Harbhajan pulled some back when he struck early to send Mathew Hayden back to the dug-out. The manner in which MS Dhoni handled the bowlers here must be lauded; that, and some good fielding restricted the Aussies to 166-5. Although the Indian fielding did not live up to the high standards that they set from themselves in the South Africa during the T20 World cup, some brilliant efforts like that of Yuvraj/Harbhajan running out Andrew Symonds and a few saves from Uthappa and Yuvaraj made the difference. Everybody did their part: the bowlers bowled well, the fielders for the most part did well, and the batsmen mauled the Aussie bowling.

There are many good things for India to take from this victory. Most importantly, it proves, as captain Dhoni said in the presentation, “… that World Cup victory (in South Africa) was not a fluke”. There was energy in the field, the fielders were pumped up applauding each others’ efforts, the batsmen belligerent, and the captain bravely innovative. Secondly, they played as a team and beat the opposition comprehensively; I’m tempted to say that they pulled an Australia (although this is 20-20 and India are ruling at the moment): when Sehwag failed, Gambhir and Uthappa shone, when Sreesanth struggled, Pathan, RP Singh and the spinners compensated. Attitude was key. In the batting, although Gambhir set the foundation and Yuvraj helped see India to through, for me, Uthappa was the pick of the batsmen; the way he danced down the track to hit out speaks volumes of the confidence that he and this Indian outfit share. When Dhoni hit the winning stroke for six, I felt a rush of happiness, pride, and awe. In Mahendra Singh Dhoni, I think, India have found a great captain: he is not fearful of the unconventional yet is capable of pulling out some almost boringly traditional stuff (like his innings from the Lord’s Test earlier this year) and most importantly, his game strategy is as fearless as his words. With some patience from the selectors, the media and the fans, this man could turn out to be one of the most successful Indian cricket captains.

Here’s to the new victorious India and to many more victories!