The Irani Trophy beckons!

September 23, 2008

Well almost – it’s tomorrow and I can’t wait. This Delhi vs. Rest of India clash, touted as the the dress rehearsal to the Australia series, has everything in it to be a cracker. Everybody will have everything to play for. Weather permitting and pitch (and cable operator) willing we should see a good contest. I’m not a Delhi-ite but I think they have the psychological edge with the “we can afford to mess this up” factor helping them; at least they will be the lesser of the stressed. It is the Kumble lead Rest-of-India who will need to prove points. Every single middle order batsmen in their line up – Dravid and Laxman in particular – have everything at stake here. Actually, apart from Badri/Kaif, depending on who will play, and the aforementioned India seniors, there isn’t too much of interesting batting in the Rest of India line up. When I read the name Wasim Jaffer, I tend to to mentally skip it and am not too excited about Parthiv Patel either – he has no technique whatsoever. Delhi, on the other hand seems to have a more interesting batting line up. I use the word interesting for it is the kind of batting that could swing to either of the extremes. They could thrill us all, with attacking stroke play or have us screaming and lamenting about the future depending upon how things go for them. Delhi batsmen to watch out for will be Aakash Chopra, in-form Virat Kohli and Shikar Dhawan, though I feel the latter might turn out to be just a bit of hype. And that’s aside of perennial surprise package that is Virender Sehwag and “purple patch” Gambhir.

Two contests I will eagerly look forward to are Ishant vs. Dravid and Ishant vs. Laxman. While Ishant got Dravid in the IPL opener at Bangalore, it is his nagging off-stump line that is likely to bother Dravid in particular as he has been dismissed by such deliveries thrice (as far as I can remember) in the last year to Sohail Tanvir, Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma. Laxman who has a similar approach, though not identical, might fare a little better against such stuff. My predictions on Ishant – he will get the top four of Rest of India with Jaffer and Parthiv being the bunnies. I’m not familiar with the rest of the Delhi bowlers and will leave that discussion to the expert opinion of my Delhi-ite blogging friends.

Another contest to look to is Sehwag against Zaheer; the other Rest of India pacers, R P Singh and Munaf may get it from Sehwag big time! I would also like to see the look on Harbhajan’s face when Sehwag hits him over the top for six 🙂 ! Also interesting would be to see how the young Delhi middle order cope with the spin duo of Kumble and Harbhajan.

For Delhi, top order will be key, and middle for Rest of India. I already feel that this is an India vs. somebody else match with scale titled in favor of the “somebody else”. Rest of India, prove me wrong!


Rain gods! Show your might – Ind in SL 2008

August 10, 2008

The situation on Day 3 of the final Test at Colombo is dire indeed and the crow pepper fry that Scorpy promised to eat a very far cry. At 161-5 and leading only by 14 runs, the script is almost already written.

The very fine ray of hope lies in this and this. Allow me to magnify the hope. As for rain, the weather men have got it wrong as far as the past 3 days have gone, but it’s not without reason that we say that weather is unpredictable. With all the bad luck that India have been having with the referrals and injuries, the partisan in me thinks we deserve a shot of luck. Rain gods, show your might! As far as an 2001 Eden Gardens encore is concerned, while I don’t expect a double from Laxman who has been foxed by Mendis 5 out of 5 times this series or Dravid to make a 180, the hope lies in the fact that Dravid has seemed very positive this innings, from the very first over. Yes, there have been some circumspect moments, but the clouds seem to be lifting to reveal our good-old Dravid. Laxman doesn’t look very sure but there are no devils in the pitch.

For the folk who think much of the youngsters – Parthiv lasted two balls. Take that! Sehwag is by no means a youngster and Gambhir has been the best of the lot as far as playing spin is concerned. We’ve seen the Indian middle order (and that of the Delhi Daredevils) collapse after these two fall.

Join me in sending positive thoughts and invoking the Rain gods. Rain, rain come again!


IPL Saturday: Rajasthan vs. Chennai, Mumbai vs. Delhi

May 25, 2008

Two darn good games made my Saturday! It felt really good to watch two matches without exactly supporting one side. That both went down to the wire added to the pleasure. Competitive cricket (albeit the T20 variety) was played and entertained well.

The first came with a lot of hype, and lived up to it for the most part. While the first half was all Rajasthan, the second half was the more exciting one to watch. Chasing 200-odd in T20 is not an easy task and I though the Chennai team game the Rajasthan a run for their money. Credit to the Chennai Super Kings for that. While Dhoni reminded us once again never to depend on him too much, Parthiv played a good cricketing innings: almost no crap shots and a fairly cool head on those shoulders. I was also impressed with India-reject Raina. The other part that was really commendable was the Chennai crowds – who not only braved the sweltering heat, but also seemed great sports. When it comes to crowd sportsman spirit – we Chennai-ites kick partisan Mumbai’s butt!

I almost didn’t watch the Mumbai Indians and the Delhi Daredevils fight it out, but somehow they kept my attention. Sachin flopped yet again, as I had expected. Uthappa came good with the bat but made up the sloppiness while fielding. Sehwag ramped up by attacking Pollock like very few batsmen can. You cannot help but ebb with pride when sehwag bats like this. Was disappointed to see him fall shortly after, but that was to be expected. Gambhir turned it on, though cautiously. Dhawan and Tiwary batted T20 style – irritatingly T20, but entertaining nonetheless. Karthik, was the pick of the batsmen – played classly, pulling it off well, especially when it was required of him and almost not expected of him. Way to go Karthik!

It will now be interesting to see Mumbai fight it out. They will most probably lose to the Rajasthan Royals and though it may seem absurd to wish, I would like to see Bangalore trounce them once again. 🙂


Bangalore win a low scoring thriller: Bangalore vs. Chennai

May 22, 2008

Finally, luck favored Dravid’s Bangalore. With much of the batting being the same, Dravid being the lychpin holding it togather with some vintage shots, the Royal Challengers’s team spirit clicked yesturday. I think that was certainly one reason behind the win, apart from some brilliant fielding from in the team, esp Kallis, Kumble’s double wicket over, and some sensational stuff from Styen.

Of the Chennai team, Ajay Jadeja and cheerleaderish Kris Srikanth said they weren’t even going to consider Chennai losing and debated on how many over they would take to win. Chennai on the other hand buckled under pressure after their opening pair, Fleming and Patel, gave them a very good start of 60. Dhoni, coming in at #3, threw away his wicket (and no, I’m not complaining about it), and some poor shot selection saw an end to their brashness, as Dhoni rightly called it.

In the post match presentation, what was most stark was Dravid’s humility on being congratulated and Dhoni’s admission of brashness. As an BRC supporter, being up till midnight was totally worth it. End of the day, it was nice to see a smile on dear Dravid’s face, and pulling one over Dhoni.


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! 🙂