Pakistan Enter the T20 World cup finals!

This was truly a thrilling win for Pakistan in more ways than one. Not only they have come out against all odds, they have done it with the flair that we associate Pakistan cricket with: unpredictability.

When you see Afridi most of the times, getting out in first few balls, you would think why this guy was ever considered a batsman? And then he comes up with an innings like that one. Sheer brilliance! Luckily, his bowling in ODIs and T20s has been consistent to earn him a place in the side.

This win can do wonderful things for Pakistan cricket and I am hoping they will continue their great form in the finals.

I am hoping for a Srilanka vs. Pakistan final. Lankans have done a great job in the tournament so far and they look like they won’t go down without a fight. WI on their bad day can look very dismal. Malinga vs. Afridi would be a great battle to watch for. I have no particular favorite between the two as India is already out.  Whoever the winner is, the final will be more likely than not be a grand entertainment affair.

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Do not hang Dhoni!

The Indian Media has a chance to get their revenge! How can a cricket captain be so direct (and truthful I might add) and call them irresponsible and get away with it? India’s ouster from world cup has given them the opportunity and they are not going to let go easily. TV and Print media have gone into “Demolish Dhoni” overdrive – an apology from him to the Indian fans notwithstanding.

While I agree that most of the decisions against England and his own lackluster batting were responsible for India’s exit for the most part, I refuse to jump the gun and overlook his excellent record for the past year and half. Captaining the cricket team in India, though rewarding in many aspects, is one of the toughest sports job there is. Even greats like SRT could not keep up with the burden of expectations. MS Dhoni, in the past two years at the helm, has inevitably, made a few mistakes (That delayed declaration against NZ comes to mind immediately) just like any other captain. But overall, his record is very good. IMO, his cricketing brain is better than most of his counterparts.

Back to cricketing front, it would be nice to see how these guys counter the short pitch stuff they are invariably going to get from Saffers in today’s match. It would speak a volume about their attitude towards the game, if nothing else.

The defending champions are on their way out!

I accept it. The team that can not defend 150 or chase 150 against oppositions like West Indies and England should not really be in the race.

There will be plenty of analysis of what was done wrong and what could have been done in the days to come.

However,  the image of MSD taking singles and getting Yusuf back on strike when 60 runs were required from 30 balls will be in my memory for a long time. Such a sensible batting this.

India lose the first game of super 8 round to West Indies

And I am going to stick my neck out and say it, I expected it. India did not look very convincing in either of the two games with Bangladesh and Ireland. It was apparent that any fairly good side will be competitive for them. In spite of having the famed batting line up and good spinners, Indians have not looked as good as South Africans or Srilankans apart from that one practice match against Pakistan. It has been mostly individual performances saving grace for them.

Dhoni’s insistence to play at #3 in earlier games did not give Suresh Raina essential time in the middle. It is does not take much for an in form batsman to slip out of it. Not that Dhoni has gained anything by it.  India’s bowling in death overs still looks patchy. RP Singh deserves a chance in the next match instead of Ishant Sharma. He can’t be worse than Ishant and can bowl a few Yorkers and lower full tosses in the death overs – something that Ishant is lacking. In the batting order, Gambhir still isn’t at his best, Dhoni is struggling. Ground fielding has not been upto the mark either.

Having said that, nothing can be taken away from WI the way they went about chasing the score. To use that beaten to death term ‘momentum’, WI has the momentum with them now. Even when Gayle went early, Simmons and Bravo kept attacking. They smartly attacked Ojha who has been instrumental in getting wickets for India.  While bowling they worked out Yusuf by not giving him anything pitched up. I know figures of 31 from 23 still look good, but we all know Yusuf can do a lot more damage than that.

I hope India gets a few things right, mainly their Batting order, Ground fielding and bowling in death overs in the next two games. As the situation stands right now, even England on their good day (read: Peterson scores) can beat India.

And the downward slide continues for the Aussies…

And the downwards slide continues for the Aussies. Probably they were taught in cricket academies in the past decade that the sun of Australian Cricket team never sets. But now, they find themselves in the deep darkness and no way out. The world ODI champions knocked out in the first round of t20 WC.

Usually a team in this situation may have questions like – Why are we not finding a quality spinner? Or why are we still playing the type of cricket that won us one day matches 10 years back? What is Ricky Ponting doing in a t20 game? What is Michael Clarke’s role in the team? What are our selectors’ really doing? However, the previous years experience suggests that what instead they might actually be working on is the new “mental disintegration” technique for the opposing teams because obviously, the existing ones have failed them miserably off late.

Such is the mental disintegration really! Chris Gayle slammed them all across the park and then the spinner from Srilanka baffled them to no end with his bag full of spin tricks. Sigh…. Where are the friendly umpires and the match referees? We have a chucker in here.

Commentating about Commentators

Just like a few of you, I have grown up watching cricket matches in the early 90s on DoorDarshan. There was a 30 minutes news break at the scheduled time regardless of the state of the match. Once the commercialization crept in, I kind of gave up trying to watch first and last ball of an over because just as the bowler delivered the ball and before the batsman went forward with the shot, There was an ad about a detergent power with saree clad models and you were only returned to live broadcast after the shot has been played on the first ball of the next over. (Though, Neo Sports is around to remind me those days).

And then, you had Sushil Doshi and Maninder Singh’s  Hindi commentary to keep you the company.

In the years, I have come to grow fond of some cricket commentators and associate some memorable cricketing moments with those voices. The one that comes to mind immediately is SRT dancing down the track and lofting Steve Waugh straight over the top and Tony Greig’s high decibel voice screaming “Owww What A Shot!” in Sharjah 1997/98 series.

All commentators have their own flair, style or habit. At times, exaggerating or downright annoying. Like when you hear Arun Lal in the box with some other commentator, you would feel like this is the most amiable person around. Anything the fellow commentators say, at times even before the sentence is complete, “Indeed” Lal would say. The “Indeed” word is beaten to death in an hour Lal is in commentary box. Then there is Dean Jones – as soon as batsman hits the ball and takes off for a run – Deano would shoot “Looking for two” even when the batsman is struggling for one.  Ravi Shashtri’s love with superlative adjectives is well known. To generalize, anything hit in the middle and flying to boundary is a “Terrific” shot. Anything flying over the ropes is nothing less then a “Tremendous” shot.  A good catch is not just a good catch but is a “magnificent” one. Nothing is short of Immense, Monstrous, Huge, Sensational, Fabulous!  When you hear Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, you may notice his random emphasizing of random words in a sentence at random times.  Ramiz Raja’s extreme usage of word “away” comes to mind immediately. It is never an “Out swinger” in his book – it is an “Away swinger which beats the batsman because he was playing away from the body” Tony Greig’s high decibel voice and Sir Geoff’s “Tough Wikkit to bat on” spring to mind as well.  

This is not to say however, that I do not love to hear them. Most of these guys are wealth of knowledge on cricket and know what they are doing. But I do think that we need more people like Harsha Bhogale along with these wizards.

Look! Its Mr. Lalit Modi On TV!

Just to add this to my previous post about my dislike of seeing Mr. Lalit Modi on TV every now and then – Samir Chopra scribbled that perfectly here – much earlier.  It  just caught my attention.

He sums it up: “Modi is a zamindar incarnate. If he didn’t have to wear a suit, and be bound by law, he’d be running around flogging peasants and repossessing their homes. He doesn’t give a rat’s arse about test cricket. He doesn’t give a rat’s arse about developing cricket at the grassroots level in India.” – Couldn’t agree with him more there!

PCB is at it again…

If you are looking for some fun factor in world cricket, you gotta keep up with Pakistan Cricket Board’s movements, official press releases and announcements. It is such a clear case of foot in mouth disease that at times it is sad and funny in the equal measures.

Their very recent and very graphic announcement is just another example. Showing the great transparency that it is not often applauded for – PCB declared that Shoiab could not be part of t20 squad as he had genital warts. Talk about confidential information and rights of privacy.

PCB is not making any friends by their stance on WC 2011 either. They have decided to legally challenge the ICC’s decision to exclude Pakistan from hosting the WC matches. Their point – if you cant grant Pakistan their share of matches – move the WC to another country and let it come back to Asian sub-continent in 2015. Great logic this – if I can’t have it, I won’t let you have it either. The sensible option of hosting the 14 matches at a neutral venue does not seem to be catching PCB’s eye.

It is quite funny when they point to security conditions in India and Srilanka to justify their arguments. What the learned people at PCB do not seem to understand is the seriousness of a terror attack where an entire cricket team was targeted and the established fact that they failed to provide the necessary security arrangements to the only team that willingly took the risk. Instead, they are pointing fingers at the security conditions in Srilanka along with India. What a return favor!

And the entertainment never ends, PCB’s handling of Mohammad Yousuf and his taking refuge to ICL, trying to move back to mainstream to get an IPL contract, unable to do so, going back to the ICL fold is a hilarious episode.  Another funny move was to ban Pakistani cricketers from taking part in IPL 2 in India. Note the twisted logic here – we are too cash-strapped but we wont let our players make a good living by taking part in cash rich tournament either. 

It is not surprising that Javed Miandad finds it very disappointing – when Pakistan’s domestic t20 team is not invited to the Champions league. Yes, the same Mr. Miandad who thought IPL was a joke, and India was very unsafe for cricketers. He doesn’t want to miss this joke, obviously 😉

What I would like to see in IPL 2010

 

More of….

  • Full capacity crowds enjoying themselves, trumpets, drums and little barbeques on the ground, the overall carnival atmosphere. Port Elizabeth Rocks.
  • Indian support staff and coaches. We should not forget that 7 out of 11 members in the playing squad are going to be Indians and quite a few of them with very little / no international experience at all. Indian coaches and support staff certainly cant be worse than say for example Buchanan and his army of coaches for bowling, batting, fielding, and probably dressing room etiquettes.
  • More Indian commentators – Do we really need more?, you may ask – Yes, and why, because the Arun lals, Shivas and may be Siddhus can do equally effective amount of jumping up and down in front of cheerleaders stage, shoving the mics up the players noses in the dugout and stating the obvious as Coneys and Morrisons do.
  • More innovative shots from the batsmen.. the thwacks, the hoicks, the heaves and the scoops are not enough…we need more.
  • Dare I say it? More Fake IPL Players! We need the imaginary/not so imaginary inside scoops from more dressing rooms! Lets hope next year there will be more such online blogs giving insights on Dressing rooms of other IPL teams too. After all, if KKR decide to turn the tables and make people talk about their performances on the field than off the field next year, we surely do not want to left without the entertainment.

Less of….

  • Lalit Modi. Yes, the guy invented a great idea, a genius, but do we need to be reminded that every hour during the match? Lalit Modi, checking msgs on his cellphone. Lalit Modi, entertaining some VIP guests in the VIP area. Mr. Modi, smiling and chatting with the guest sitting next to him – Whoa.. exclusive – never seen before stuff!  We already know Mr. Modi is the man and the brain behind the IPL success story; how could we ever forget when the commentators keep remind us that every 30 mins? Imagine a filmmaker thinking of an innovative concept, making a great movie based on it, and then appearing on screen every 5 mins just in case we forget it is he who has created this wonder.
  • Well, this one is very established now, the strategic time outs! Now, I know the TV broadcasters have to squeeze in as many ads as they can, but I can not remember a single time out that does not make me switch the channel even at the risk of missing an over after the time out. As it goes, it does not seem to have done any good to any one but may be the broadcasters. The players lose the momentum, the viewers go channel hopping. 
  • All the buffoonery of commentators reporting live from the field and player dug outs, shoving the mics up the players noses and asking stupid questions, stating the obvious the 100th time. Can we have some sanity back in the commentating please? Beware Harsha, they will get you too!

And that’s how it begins….

So, finally, here it is.

After couple of abandoned blogging attempts starting from 2002, I believe I have finally managed to create the blog I am going  to keep up.

Yeah big deal.. so what should one expect here? you may ask – Well…you may see everything ranging from Cricket, Politics, Movies,Technical tidbits to random thoughts that hit my mind rather, um.. randomly. :-). You have been warned.