IPL 3: Cometh the monster

March 12, 2010

Today is the day. The Monster returns to India and we can hear the crass jingle. Controversies apart, despite my  ambivalence towards T20 and the IPL itself, I must admit that I am a bit excited.

Teams I will be supporting this year :

Kolkata Knight Riders – KKR – Wishing Dada and SRK some luck
Delhi Daredevils – DD – A team with Sehwag in it deserves to win
Bangalore Royal Challengers – RCB – Gotta like Kumble, Dravid, et all

Indifferent about:

Chennai Super Kings – CSK – Flat track bullies
Mumbai Indians – MI – Really, if they don’t make it to the top 4 this time, there is no excuse
Kings XI Punjab – (what’s their acronym really?) – Snore…

Batsmen I will be watching for:

Virender Sehwag – Viru, show us the Say-Wah!g
Sourav Ganguly – a true Dada fan will not lose an opportunity to scream DA-DA!
Mathew Hayden – Mongoose bat or not, he will be one to watch out for
Adam Gilchrist – Too many blistering innings to not watch this man
Rahul Dravid – A from-the-heart Dravid fan will always be rooting for RD!
Others – Greame Smith, Virat Kohli, Shane Warne, Sangakkara, Jayasuriya, Tendulkar, JP Duminy.. this list will grow!


Cricket Ramblings: On the Gambhir ban and Gilly’s True Colors

November 1, 2008

Alright, am I the only one bored by the Delhi Test? The other stuff seems to be interesting.

The Gambhir ban has been an interesting issue. Fellow blogger ABisht sees it as a half-full-half-empty thing. As always, the subcontinent guy gets hauled up. Perhaps this is the only way the toothless ICC servants can get back at the “new-power-rich” BCCI. While the part of me that wants to be fair, might want to say, maybe this is a good lesson for the folk who indulge in unnecessary drama on the cricket field, the partisan in me is angry that it is the Indian that gets the harsh treatment. Why was Watson, the provoker, let off with a fine, that too, off a token-like 10%? This issue can be beaten to death, but it’s a dead horse. The more striking issue is the arrogance of the Indian youth. As I look at my own generation, there is a sense of disrespect for and cynicism towards almost everything. Granted this might be a generational thing, but the brashness now is too obvious to ignore. This crudeness has crept into cricket as well. Uthappa’s dig on the seniors’ fielding comes to mind. No, it’s not about the whole “respect the senior cricketers” dying horse either. It’s the needless attitude and ego that’s bothersome. Back to Gambhir. Why the “elbowing”, Gambhir? Why the street-side-boy attitude? Perhaps it is this garishness that has reduced the sympathy that Gambhir is getting on this. Perhaps he is also suffering the aftermath of the Bhajji “banned-but-not-but-then-banned-in-IPL”. To be honest, I’m ambivalent on this, but in titling in favor of the fact that the ban might be a bit too hard, but only in small measure.

Adam Gilchrist, who certainly had a lot of Indian fans, may be left with a lot lesser fans now. I didn’t feel the need to write about his comments on Tendulkar, for it seemed like the cheap old publicity trick. But now, he’s roping in Ganguly and Harbhajan. I’m not cutting any slack for Ganguly on the Nagpur 2004 Test Houdini act – a chapter in Indian cricket that will remain shrouded with several questions until someone comes out with the truth – but doesn’t Gilchrist have anything better to talk about. Apparently he wants to befriend his former teammates who don’t return phones calls and emails to the “bloke who used to walk when he was out”. Gilchrist has utterly lost my respect, for whatever that is worth. And he will NOT get my money for his book, which I have decided not to buy, despite whatever else he may have said in it. Now, we know the True Colors, don’t we?


India Draws – Ind vs Aus 2008-09: Day 5, 1st Test, Bangalore

October 13, 2008

After what seemed like an eternity, India has managed not to lose a match batting 4th. I had mentally written them off and that mostly due to the poor show in Sri Lanka. I’m still trying to tweak Cricinfo’s statsguru to spit me the results of India’s draw percent when batting second. I’m pretty sure this must be low (esp in the last 3 years). From memory I recall only 2 from the last 3 years – the one at Lords (which really shouldn’t count) and one against South Africa.

Going by that, this is an achievement. But what that also says is that the Aussies have lost some of their sting without McGrath, Warne and Gilchrist (behind the stumps). Haddin has a long way to go. Watson, Haddin, Cameron White (who also plays for Bangalore Royal Challengers) don’t really strike me as great Test cricketers. Unless they go the Symonds way with their game, we may see some mediocre results from them in the near future.

As for India, NB from Soulberry’s TCWJ puts so succinctly, what seemed so muddled in my mind. To me, here are the worries:

  • Middle order: Granted, we’re getting some stinkers from the umpires from time to time, but the middle order isn’t really on strong footing. There are flashes of brilliance, but only flashes, and that’s causing anxiety. Ganguly seems best of the four at the moment. Doesn’t that tell a story in itself (with due respect to Gangs of course)? Meanwhile at the top order, Gambhir has not had too many answers either.
  • Spin bowling: We all know about Harbhajan’s “I-need-a-wicket-to-start-thinking”. That apart, Kumble has been very worrisome.
  • Fielding: Allright, we’ve never really been a great fielding side, not even when the Fab four where in their prime. Gambhir’s dropped catches were atrocious! So much for the “young-agile-fielding-sides”

Interestingly this time, both teams have seen some decline from previous glory. Can India put a 300 plus total? Can the middle order post 200 runs by themselves? Can India bat better than Australia? Can Australia take 20 wickets? Will they bowl better than the Indian quicks? Strange how it can become isn’t it?

Maybe we will get only 2 results from this series.


Dream Team XI – ODIs

July 5, 2008

While watching the bore-fest Asia Cup in fragments, I have been thinking, what would be the best ODI XI ever? I must add here that “ever” for me would probably go back 10 to 12 years, not more than that. Here is my eleven:

  1. Virender Sehwag
  2. Mathew Hayden
  3. Rahul Dravid
  4. Steve Waugh (c)
  5. Sachin Tendulkar
  6. Adam Gilchrist (w)
  7. Lance Klusner
  8. Wasim Akram
  9. Shane Warne
  10. Glen McGrath
  11. Mutthiah Muralitharan/Anil Kumble

12th man: Allan Donald

Honorable mention: Sourav Ganguly, Waqar Younis

Here is the reasoning behind the selection. The openers must be aggressive run getters. I almost made Sachin the opener, but somehow felt uncomfortable about Hayden and Sachin batting together; nothing serious, it just didn’t seem to fit. Besides, Sehwag as opener, when he doesn’t throw his wicket away can be rather demoralizing to the opposition.

Dravid has always been my dream #3 batsman, one who could steady the batting whether the team is 8-1 or provide spine when on 110-1. I wouldn’t pick anybody else for the part, maybe Ponting (but not on current form) and only if Dravid is unavailable. Waugh at #4 is another dream pick. Besides, Dravid and Waugh batting together would be interesting to watch, that too when the former being an admirer of the latter. I made him captain for his skills and the respect he is likely to get from the team.

It’s hard to pick an ODI side without Tendulkar. Ideally, he should either open or bat at #4. But having picked Waugh, I didn’t think any other position would be apt for him. Yes, Sachin at #5 could prove problematic, given his ordinary stats for #4 in ODIs. But I’m not quite sure what to do here.

Gilchrist plays as wicketkeeper and at #6 is bound to deliver a good amount of punch. Klusner plays as all rounder. The legendary Akram must figure in any dream team for his tact with both the new and old ball. As a better batsman, he bats above Shane Warne, who is another must-pick. I picked Glen McGrath for his impeccable line and length and chose Murali and Kumble to pick from depending upon the kind of variety required. Donald is my 12th man as I assumed we are playing on spinning track. On a green track, I would lose one of the spinners.

Team composition is a bit bat-heavy, especially with Klusner at #7, but these folk to me are legends.


Looking ahead to IPL Season 2: Iconless IPL?

June 1, 2008

Allright, the IPL is almost over. I don’t really feel the intensity for either of the semis. Maybe that is because Rajasthan Royals have clearly been the best T20 side in the IPL. Or maybe because neither of the teams that I was supporting – Bangalore and Kolkata – are in the contest. There was a bit of feeling for Delhi, I would have liked to see them in the finals, but that wasn’t to be. 😦

Much has been said of the performances of the icons, specially the senior ones: Dravid, VVS Laxman, Ganguly and Tendulkar. I will not venture into that discussion just yet. Instead, I will ask this. What will an icon-less IPL be like? Considering some of the owners’ heavy-handed manner and the way things are going for the icons, I would speculate that not all of these folks will feature in the next installment.

Let us assume, for arguments sake, that neither of the above mentioned icons make it to the second season in any form. What would be the reaction of the masses? Especially the partisan ones – Mumbai and Kolkata. The Mumbai folks (or at least most of them) throng the IPL to watch Tendulkar and Kolkata to see their Maharaj. What happens to the other folk who go to these matches to see a Ganguly or a Dravid bat? Will these foks not turn up? Going by the attendance in the Ranji Trophy, an icon-less IPL will be a only a few grades more interesting to the masses. Yes, there will be Gilchrist fans and the McGrath fans, and they will bring some people to the stands, but these folk are the more educated cricket watchers, not the average Indian guy on the street who goes to watch a cricket match.

Even as I type this, I see the counter argument coming. One being that Indian cricket is in a state of flux where the seniors will slowly make way for deserving youngsters; that we need to be practical and one day or the other get used to an Indian team sans Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid; that the fans of the new recruits will take the place of today’s masses. True, all valid arguments. However the issue is that all this takes time. You need several match-winning performances to get a fan following. Good looks will help too :). Consider Rohit Sharma, who gave us some very valuable runs in that T20 world cup match against South Africa. On the other hand you have Ishant Sharma – the find of the Aussie tour, the kid who troubled titan-esque Aussie captain Ponting. I would think Ishant has a bigger fan following than Rohit Sharma. On the other hand, Gautham Gambhir, who has figured in more matches than the Sharmas may have a smaller fan base. All this is of course speculation. The point that I’m trying to make is that, for the icon-less IPL season to succeed, it must be timed right. If not, it will shake the very foundation of the IPL. Lack of crowds will affect TV ratings, ad money, sponsorship, etc, and pinch the owner’s pocket.

The owners may consider the icons as dead weight, but they bring the crowds at least for now. And they might need the icons more than they think, for this is India; we are mostly a crazy lot and cricket is a religion here. The owners, at least for the time being, better not mess with the Gods.


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!


Top 10 reasons to watch the Tri-nation ODI series

February 3, 2008

At the outset, it seems like a fairly boring series. In fact, after the 20-20 World Cup, I’m finding the 50-over version to be a rather predictable and boring affair which takes too much time. Granted there is some entertainment in this form along the lines of batsmen getting centuries and stuff, but other than that, the 50-over version is losing its charm. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t completely bought into the T20 mania; the new ultra-short version is undoubtedly entertaining, but has its drawbacks. I think Test cricket on good pitches still rocks like none other.

Back to the point I was going to make; yes, the Commonwealth Bank Tri-series featuring India, Sri Lanka and Australia. I still feel compelled to watch parts of the series for the following reasons:

10. Bret Lee

9. M S Dhoni – media-handling 😛 after being defeated (I expect this to happen a good number of times with the “thin-as-ice” batting line up)

8. Lasith Malinga – bowling and hairstyle 🙂

7. Mahela Jayawardena – captaincy and batting

6. Murali’s bowling

5. Sanath Jayasuriya

4. Kumar Sangakkara

3. Ishant Sharma bowling to Ponting

2. Adam Gilchrist’s final ODI series

1. Sachin Tendulkar in sublime form

Cheers!