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.

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Is IPL killing cricket?

May 17, 2008

I read this illuminating article about ‘ripping’ the textbook by Cricinfo’s Sriram Veera. Yes, the textbook is Test cricket. I was rather shocked to read that some of these cricketers have had to unlearn the things they spent their entire life on. Any guesses on who the ‘playing within the V’ cricketer is?

Moving on, this begs many questions. First of all, as Ajay Jadeja had alluded to during the T20 World cup, is this even cricket? Cricket has been a complex game: about strategy, declarations, field positions, “temperment”, and much more, not merely about hitting the ball out of the park thereby making the bowler feel like a “extra” in a dance-number. Secondly, given the changes required of batsman, shouldn’t we have two seperate teams – one for Tests and another for T20, which don’t mix. Test cricket and T20 have only the letter T in common. One is for men, the other for adrenaline-pumping-boys. True, there is a fearlessness associated with T20, which can rarely be seen in a Test match, but the latter builds charecter and does more to the development of person than many other things in life. So much for the well know adage that cricket is a metaphor for life. If we do deciede that T20 is cricket, and if that be our metaphor of life, India is likely to be filled with a lot of arrogant youngsters, who will have nothing but thier arrogance to flaunt.

There is yet another alarming prospect – this is a bit of a stretch. Consider the case where the Utthappas, the Gambhirs and other fly-by-night hitters of the upcomming generation make it to Test cricket, with their new found batting techniques, thereby polluting it with their vulgar slogging. Assuming that international standards also drop a notch, thanks to the IPL, then, Test cricket won’t be Test cricket anymore.

Granted, with time, games like language, are bound undergo change, but not at the cost of the very foundation. For once, I’m with the ICC on their pompous-sounding, yet mostly toothless declaration in support of Test Cricket. There is just some noise, not even a semblense of a game-plan to see it through.

While this is the case, the BCCI selectors have proudly announced that they are watching the IPL with an eye on selection for ODIs. This declaration the biggest embarrasement for Indian cricket, perhaps on par the Harbhajan episode.

If Test cricket dies and takes with it, the Dravids, Tendulkars, Kallis-es and Chanderpauls, damn you, BCCI. The Aussies might turn out as the care takers of the purest form of the game. Then, as a fan of Test cricket, I will then have to throw way my pride and turn into an Aussie fan, through and through.


Bangalore Royal Challengers face the heat – sacking begins

May 7, 2008

With the sacking of Charu Sharma as CEO of the enterprise, Vijay Mallya’s Royal Challengers seems to be facing an off-the-field crisis in addition to losing woes. Apparently, bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad is on his way out too. I suspect Dravid will be next. I don’t know what the sacking of the CEO can do, when the problems are on the field. The BRCs don’t seem to have any team spirit going for them. Seven games into the tournament, they don’t have an opening combination. The international players in the team seem indifferent to say the least.

As fellow blogger Apurv notes, there seems to be very little sympathy for Dravid, and that after a desperate yet scintillating, classical-cricket knock against Kings XI Punjab (which is btw, the most uninspired name). After seeing all the nothing-shots and slogs going for four and getting applause, it was a goose-bump moment to see Dravid almost effortlessly cut and drive so beautifully. That 66 off 50-odd balls was a treat to watch and would have been worth its weight in gold if only the other batsmen chipped in. So dismal was the showing of the Bangalore team against Mohali, that apart from Dravid’s 66 and Kohli’s 30-odd, the 10 extras conceded was the next highest and the third double-digit score. They were in soup – duck soup (pun intended).

Most bloggers and media folk seem to be baying for Dravid’s blood with every loss. Granted, he got some of team selection wrong and is not the most inspired captains; but he would have expected a bit more support from the Test greats. Kallis has been a flop with the bat and ball and Boucher as unpredictable as the weather. Of the entire lot, Praveen Kumar and Zaheer Khan have given most bang for the buck.

In hindsight, it is fairly easy to speculate on the droopy-shouldered Bangalore team. Perhaps the knife had hanging at their throats for sometime now. One could almost sense that from Dravid and Zaheer’s desperate efforts. When the chips are down, nothing inspires more that trust and nothing deflates more that threats: a simple management principle that most people learn only when it’s too late.

Maybe this just goes to prove that people should stick to what they know best. Like I had mentioned before Cricket run by business men is like Tech companies run by those who don’t know more than a few buzzwords (and look for returns just as team is formed).

With such being the state of affairs, one can only feel sorry for the never-say-die man Rahul Dravid. 😦


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!


Bangalore Royally Challenged!

April 19, 2008

Poor dear, Dravid! You’re luck of late has been worse than mine! 😦

Like many 20-20 crazy folk would have expected, the Test-squad-ish Bangalore, got royally hit on the head, mattai adi as the Chennai folk would call it.

However, all is not lost, if you are Bangalore fan, that is. It was one match, and there was clearly only one star – Brenden McCullum. As Dravid said at the presentation, if you take away McCullum’s score, you get 70-odd. Though I don’t fully agree with that statement – had McCullum not scored as much, maybe someone else would have played responsibly – there is some truth to it. Given that bouncy wicket, the scorecard will have looked different. But having said that, I must say that it was heartening to see Sourav’s captaincy still rocking!

Problems areas for Bangalore include Jaffer: the out-of-form, short-of-runs-in-the-recent-season, mostly Test-only batsman, Sunil Joshi, Zaheer to some extent, and the lack of a quality spinner (in Kumble’s absense). Adding to the woes are trying-to-return-to-form Dravid and currently-lacklustre Kallis. (Gosh! I’m having a serious adjective-block)

If you are down in the dumps after last night’s thrashing, fellow blogger Scorpicity has some food for the wounded soul. If Bangalore continues to get sloshed, I might join Scorpy in throwing expletives and rotten tomatoes at the IPL.


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!