IPL murmurs: Mumbai smartest thus far?

January 28, 2009

News of IPL swaps have been doing the rounds for a few weeks now. With the Pakistani players doubtful for IPL’s season 2, the franchises seem to be in tizzy to replace them.

Bangalore’s Royal Challengers has Misbah on the roster but seems to have found a replacement in Robin Uthappa, who it was tactlessly swapped for Zaheer Khan. Apparently, sport is something Mallya has trouble understanding, for Zaheer was among the better performers for BRC last year and is in the form of his life at the moment. If that isn’t tactless enough, Mallya apparently is looking to make a captain out of Karnataka boy Uthappa. While that might be a moderately successful marketing ploy to get the local crowds crooning “Uthappa, six bekappa“, it would be a bit strange to have the likes of Kallis and Boucher reporting to the kid who doesn’t feature in India’s ODI line up. Granted, it is not out of the ordinary to expect that Mallya wants current skipper Dravid  replaced, Uthappa might not be the right choice either.

Mumbai have gained Zaheer at the cost of Nehra. They have also “gotten rid of” (if I may use the term) Uthappa, for whom they have a better replacement in the traded Delhi Daredevil batsmen Shikar Dhawan. There is still more to see before one toss the “smart” crown around, but Mumbai seem to be singing the smartest song thus far.

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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!


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.


Dravid sizzles in vain: Bangalore vs. Jaipur

May 18, 2008

The Royal Challengers’ cup of woes is now brimming. After a dismal showing by the Bangalore bowlers and some starkly indifferent fielding, the visitors set themselves a target of 197 runs. The already challenged team, was depleted further by the absence of Boucher and Steyn. The run chase started inauspiciously as opener Arun Kumar fell for a 3-ball duck and #3 bat Misbah ul Haq departed with a golden duck. Kohli, the other opener fell a few balls later. The other batsmen came and went without much ado, all other than dear beleaguered Dravid.

Walking in at #6, Dravid sizzled to score an unbeaten 75 off just 36 balls comprised of  half-a-dozen fours and sixes, with an un-charecteristic strike rate of 208 . His frustration, which he later admitted to, was apparent in the savage way in which he lofted Yousuf Pathan for consecutive 6s. Truly an innings of master class, reminiscent of his blistering 92 off 40-odd in Bristol in the India’s tour of England, last summer. “The lone constant, offering defiance that was as entertaining as it was soothing…”, for he was “brutal and brilliant, determined and dynamic, and ironically, the hunter as well as the hunted”, writes Varun Gupta for Hindustan times.

For the final wicket partnership, he refused to take singles to expose Abdur Razzak to the strike, almost silently saying: I won’t unnecessarily let you do something that isn’t expected of you.

There was a bit of drama when Dravid asked the question on a catch taken off Razzak and that being declared not out. He continued on and clobbered another six. It’s probably not very often that the side with the last ball six loses a game, but such was the case, and never were they going to win with such woeful performance from most of the other members.

By claiming the DLF IPL maximum sixes award, Dravid silently made a statement, in his own way, as if in answer to those who repeatedly and tauntingly questioned the relevance of his batting skills in the T20 game. Perhaps there was a message for the team in the angry innings that he played.

One feels so sad for dear haunted Dravid, that one wants to pray!


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!


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! 🙂


Cricket Ramblings of the week

December 4, 2007

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and I’ve had withdrawal symptoms so I back for a quickie. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks: been doing some things I like and some things I hate and finding out other things that I have yet to do. Anyway, on to cricket.

India-Pakistan 2nd Test- Kolkatta

The 2nd Test at Eden Gardens between Kumble’s India and Younis Khan’s Pakistan was rather boring. The first two and half days threatened an innings victory for India. I personally liked Jaffer, Laxman, Dravid and Ganguly’s innings, although I must say this innings of Ganguly’s was distinctly different from some of his others from the recent past. It was bejewelled with patience, which he seemed to have almost run out of after his captaincy stint. He seemed stubborn almost adamant on getting a century on his home ground. My goose-bump moment for the match was the crowd’s reaction to Dada’s big one here! That must feel really awesome! Go Dada! Way to get a few more tons!

Eden is paradise to Sourav

 

Sourav celebrates his ton.
Pic source: Cricinfo

 

As for the Pakistani batsmen, other than Misbah no one looked to attach too much value for their wicket. It’s primarily temperment/attitude that was required of the more experienced batsmen. Akmal finally came good and Younis and Yousuf notched up a match saving knock to save their pride and keep the series alive, although I think they all survived a couple of definite and vociferous lbw appeals; perhaps Koertzen was having a hangover from what would have been Sangakkara’s match saving innings. And Billy Doctrove owes one to Dravid for that horribly wrong decision he gave in the first innings.

 

Personally, going by statistics and past India-Pak experiences, I would think that Bangalore Test will see the tourists leveling the series with a victory. I would give this 75% chance. But going with their current trend of mediocre bowling, fielding and horrific batting, I am forced to reduce that chance maybe to 30%. The part that will play a major part in Pak’s fortune (apart from the pitch, of course) is the Pak batsmen’s attitude. If Younis, Yousuf and Misbah carry on their positive attitude, the bowlers might perk up and come with a better performance. Averaging those two numbers we arrive at 52.5% chance of Pak winning the Bangalore test. I don’t have much else to say on this except ‘wait and watch’.

Vengsarkar vs. The BCCI

What the fuss about? I say good bye and good riddance. But I doubt if it will be so simple. This issue has seen the see-saw typical of an India-Pak match. Perhaps they want to make up for the lack of on-field see-saw. One day the BCCI says that he is free to leave and the next day they seem to be singing a different tune. There will be more to this drama. What say you?

Murali exceeds Warne! Jayasuriya calls it a day.

Go Murali! Now someone from the subcontinent tops the highest wicket taker list. Yay! Jayasuriya’s retirement announcement seemed a little bit of a surprise. Even though he is 37, he seemed to be in very good knick. Sorry to see him go. Maybe we will see him in the ICL!

Meanwhile, the ICL kicks off with a Brian Lara duck! I’m quite excited about this and would rather watch an ICL match that the boring Aussie county cricket that Star Cricket airs. Btw, a question for Star Cricket: why would you air Aussie county cricket on a channel dedicated to the subcontinent?
Ciao for now!