Champions League begins!

September 10, 2010

Amid the match fixing spot fixing scandal, we have tournament. It would be nice to see some good cricket.

Mumbai play the Lions today. Since Lions are a South African side, this should be a good match. It’ll also be a good test for the Dhawans and the Tiwarys.

Here’s to good cricket!


IPL 3 ends IPLGate begins

April 26, 2010

So the IPL 3 is finally over and CSK have won. But the cat-fight between Lalith Modi and BCCI has just begun. Throw in a few cabinet ministers and a intelligent, good looking, foreign educated ousted one with an attractive friend and you’ve got something that’ll do more to ad revenue than perhaps even the IPL final.

Honestly I’m quite ambivalent about the whole saga surrounding the IPL. Modi is perhaps getting more than his due for the heavy handedness that he’s personified, the BCCI may escape without getting it’s due of rotten tomatoes and worse.

On the other hand, it is sad that India and Indian cricket’s image is taking a hit; its face is now marred again with the soot of corruption and match fixing. Whether people admit it or not (for fear of BCCI’s financial clout), the skepticism surround match-fixing that was almost buried after the Sharjah era is in all fairness back. It is now almost ok to ask if the final was fixed and whether that was part of the reason for sending Pollard in down the order. But it is also baffling. Perhaps that is why I fell asleep half way through Mumbai’s innings maybe it was too lacklustre to be true (but I made up by watching the entire post match ceremony till 2 am).

This time it will take longer to douse the suspicions. But life will go on. With the T20 World Cup only days away, even before the withdrawal syndrome sets in, we’ll be discussing why Dale Steyn isn’t overrated.


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.


IPL 3: Mumbai India vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore

March 20, 2010

This promises to be a cracker. Mumbai have won all that they have played and Bangalore the last two.

I would pip Bangalore here on momentum. But there are weaknesses, esp when batting first. Bowling has been traditionally good, going by last season’s standard; however this is India and the conditions in Mumbai may not be like last match’s Bangalore track. Kallis and Dravid are the staples, one can expect at least 60 from them put togather, if not more. Uthappa is a wild cracker – it may burst big or just fizzle out.

Mumbai have the Jayasuriya factor. Tiwary and Rayudu are also doing well. But the bowling can be suspect at time.

Can’t wait for 8pm.


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!


IPL 2: So it isn’t boring after all

May 4, 2009

I must admit that I’m the one who vowed not to watch the IPL 2, who wore my thoughts on my sleeve about how this season can be nothing short of very boring. I’m now very guilty for I’ve watched more IPL matches this year than the last.

Credit must be given to the pitch masters of South Africa. It isn’t for nothing that the T20 World Cup in 2007 was such a hit. It isn’t just about the Bollywood babes, catchy tunes, and scantily clad cheerleaders. If the cricket’s boring (and the tickets expensive or spectators’ conditions poor), the tournament becomes doomed. By getting the pitches right and the ticket prices right (if the commentators and other tournament-folk are to be believed), cricket South Africa have ensured the success of the tournament.

Perhaps this even balance so produced by quality pitches have ensure that insipid sides like Rajasthan and weekend ones like Punjab don’t seem that great this year. Suddenly the Asnodkars and the Mascarenases don’t seem that valuable. You’ve got to get the cricket right here, which is why the good old folk – Dravid, Tendulkar, Boucher, Kumble – and those among the new who are worth their salt – Badrinath, Duminy, RP Singh – and the like are making merry.

The teams and their fortunes

Royal Challengers Bangalore and Deccan Chargers

The shift away from India has benefited two teams that found themselves at the bottom of the table last year: Bangalore and Deccan.

We all knew Deccan had it, it just wasn’t clicking for them. That RP Singh has had a lot of success in South Africa adds a lot to their attack.

Bangalore’s is the miracle recovery. I think it has more to do with team spirit and Kumble’s captaincy than Ray Jennings’ coaching. Besides they are the side with almost an all South African combination with Indian stars. They lucked out that the tournament moved to their real home. Bangalore doesn’t belong in India! 🙂 On yesturday’s thumping victory over Mumbai that involved chasing a score of over 140, while Uthappa’s innings might be a flash in the pan, Kallis I think has indeed found himself in the T20 version. I cannot end a paragraph about the BRCs without mentioning Dravid. He started the tournament with a sparkling 66 of 40-odd. That he is back in the squad will add the much needed backbone to the Bangalore team. Dillion du Pree, the debutant yesturday seemed like an inspired pick. Four overs might be too early to judge, but he may yet become the star of Bangalore attack, surpassing a certain lackluster Dale Steyn.

Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab

For those who just couldn’t understand how the Royals won the tournament last year, myself included, this year, so far has been a vindication. The team has little value in the young mavericks. Veteran Saffer batsman Smith isn’t exactly setting anything on fire; they are missing Sohail Tanvir the most. Watson might have been another flop here – not a huge fan of him.

Kings XI is kind of neither here nor there. Their bowling department has lucked out with the selection of Abdullah. They are missing Sreesanth, Lee and Shaun Marsh. Jayawardena isn’t in cracking form. For me this is a 50-50 team. Could go either way.

Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils

The two most balanced sides – Mumbai and Delhi – have got fairly good results so far, the latter more than the former. Mumbai’s bowling has expectedly been bolstered by Malinga’s form and Zaheer’s presence. Is it just me or does somebody else also think Zaheer seemed more lethal when he was bowling for Bangalore?

Delhi lost Shikar Dhawan this year, but thankfully for them, he isn’t in form. Viru is yet to blast away that 10+ an over rate for the first 6-8 overs, but it might only be a matter of time.

Chennai Super Kings

Last year’s uber geek team is languishing in the table. Why that is the case is beyond me. Dhoni and Albie aren’t contributing too well. But that apart, you’ve got to believe it’s a matter of a few wins to see them in the top four where they belong.

Kolkata Knight Riders

The most woeful of the teams this year. Given the degree of off-field woe which seems to be propagating on-field, they probably deserve to be where they are. The batting isn’t clicking, McCullum’s batting looks stressed; he’s not the free flowing carefree man from last season. Ganguly is smug, Ishant erratic and unsupported by horrible fielding which reminds of Indian team from the early 90s, Agarkar is well, just plain Agarkar. Buchanan and his army needs to be shown the door and Ganguly or somebody else made sole captain.


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.