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.

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Mumbai Indians the official IPL chokers: Mumbai vs. Rajasthan

May 27, 2008

It’s now official: Mumbai Indians are the official chokers. Fellow blogger SP says quite straightly that they pulled a South Africa.

It was an incredibly entertaining match, going down to the wire – really down to the last ball. I was hoping for a bowl-out, actually, thought I think even if that had happened, Rajasthan would have won it.

How could have Mumbai lost this? Lost their head in the last 2 overs. Fernando messed up in the final over, Sachin blew it big time. With his cautious ODI-opening-overs-style batting and by pressurizing his team. He seemed to have slowed Jayasuriya down too. Yes, the pitch was slow, understood, but there was a sense that Sachin was waiting for something. And that something never came.

I was rather surprised to see that not much has changed in Sachin’s captaincy, after all the years. I also found it baffling that for the last ball, when the Rajasthan Royals needed 2 to win and 1 to tie, Sachin was signalling to spread out the field! Not bringing ’em in. Panic, I guess. Nothing else can explain that. I was also rather shocked to the hear the comments from him the post-match presentation: ‘lacked common sense’, etc, etc, dissing the team. That wasn’t the forum for that!

Meanwhile, thanks to the Rajasthan Royals, the Delhi Daredevils have a place in the semis now. Mumbai will now have to beat Bangalore in tomorrow’s match and hope Chennai lose. The Royal Challengers on the other hand have nothing to lose. After having moved up the table enough so as to not end up last, they might go for the kill. Something tells that Dravid might sign off the BRCs with this match and that despite conflicting media reports on his unhappiness with Mallya’s ways and his own denying rumors of quitting. Thus the extra motivation for the consolation victory.

I’m not cheering though, for my cheering seems to be jinxed. So I’ll shut up, watch, and then write.


Assorted IPL Ramblings: of the Fab Four of Indian cricket

May 15, 2008

Tendulkar flops and Jayasuriya rocks. Sachin’s most awaited IPL debut came and went without much noise. On a day that was supposed to be Tendulkar’s, it was the Sri Lankan opener’s fireworks that enlivened the Mumbai crowd. I did not watch most of the Chennai Super Kings’s innings, so I cannot comment on that. But Jayasuriya turned it on big time so much to make Sachin look like a high-school boy, except for one four. Sachin looked a bit out of place, to say the least – it might be too early to say this, but for now he looks no better than Laxman or Dravid in the batting department. In fact the latter might end up with more runs (after factoring in the number of matches played).  From the CSK’s end, for a change it was nice to see Dhoni – and no, he is not part of my fab four, for whatever it is worth – on the receiving end of batting heroics. Even lucky-charm Joginder Sharma couldn’t stop Jayasuriya. It was just Sanath all the way.

While Royal Challengers’ Dravid is being lambasted from several sides, support has come from a like minded team India colleague and Deccan Chargers’ captain VVS Laxman, and this coming from someone in relatively similar position. Laxman has come be known for good gestures, this must be added to the top half of his list. In the match against Kings XI Punjab, Dravs seemed more stressed that ever seen before. When asked about Mallya’s salvo, he refused to comment citing reasons for want of a proper forum. I’m wondering what Dravid will do now – quit IPL or wait to be traded? Judging by the anti-auction mindedness of him, I guessing he will probably resign; might be just a matter of time. While that would seem fitting to many, I think he might do a little better in someone else’s team, batting at 5 or 7, playing the role of the innings finisher – a role he successfully played for India in some ODIs during his reign as India captain.

Ganguly seems to be on cloud nine after Shoaib’s dream IPL debut. Way to make a statement, Shoaib! And it was nice to see the latter on Ganguly side, rather than on the opposing. I had my doubts about Akthar – he is like a wild pendulum – might swing either way. Perhaps with the fitness problems that Akthar has had of later, T20 might be the game for him – all it takes is four overs of concentration.


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!


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!