February 20, 2011

World Cup 2011-India Vs Bangladesh Update - Match -1

   What a way to start the World Cup....Can't ask for a better treat , ain't it ? The first match of the Over Hyped tournament surely lived up to its expectations. The Mirpur crowd surely got their money worth for the second time after the Maha-Opening Ceremony. Indians were on a tremendous high after acing through both their warm-up matches. Bangladeshis, on the other hand had the home advantage though, all sub-continent pitches are alike.

   No surprises in the Mirpur pitch, as always it was on the slower side . India made a couple of surprising changes. Dhoni played Virat over Raina and plugged off Fuze and played 2.5 pacers (No, Munaf is not a complete pacer). As expected, Dhoni lost the toss. Bangladesh let India bat first (Maybe , they were trying to get lucky the II time after 2007 WC). Little did the poor Shakib know what was in store. So the Revenge match went underway. Viru and Sachin took strike. They started off like a dream until Viru suddenly woke up and ran Sachin out. Then came his Jodi, Gauti who looked set and solid, but eventually crashed out. On the other hand, Sehwag was playing a very Un-Sehwag innings, ducked for bouncers and played the ball at its merit. C'mon, people don't pay to watch him like that. In came another Delhi'ite, Kohli and their partnership blossomed beautifully. They were cautious,yet attacking and kept the rate ticking. There was never a moment that Bangladesh were on top. Viru and Kohli  hit tons.

   With a Himalayan (say Alps over  Himalayas) target of 371, Tamim and Imrul took strike for B'desh. Sreesanth swung the ball all over the pitch and paid heavy price for it. Imrul pounced on him like a hungry lion does for its prey .Sree din't budge, he continued the same. Bangla were off to a flyer till Munaf drew first blood. From then on, it was boiler plate stuff. Spinners pegged back the scoring rate assisted by Zaks and Munaf in the later stages. B'desh ended up scoring 283/9 in their quota, which meant India won by a good margin of 87 runs, which would boost their NRR .Finally,India had the last laugh and took revenge in style.

Match Summary

India  : 370/4
Sehwag  175
Kohli      100*                                            Shakib 1/61

Bangladesh : 283/9
Tamim  70
Shakib  55                                                Munaf 4/48

No prizes for guessing the Man of the Match.
P.S-Another match just got over , NZ humiliated Kenya badly at Chennai.As expected the crowd meter was almost zilch.Expecting a similar result against Lanka and Canada.

February 13, 2011

India Vs Australia - POST MORTEM REPORT #1 Warm up match

  Funny thing about warm ups is that it doesn't boil enough. The players don't seem to care enough when the going is tough, the spectators who pay for their tickets are made to look like douche bags all along. Coming to this particular match, it was pre-decided the full squad will be given a chance and the brittle ones in both camps will have a day off. For a warm up match the settings were all wrong. Or so it seemed at first. The pitch at Chinnaswamy stadium, Bangalore looked like the ones we were witnessing not so long back in South Africa. Only this was not South Africa playing India at home.

   It seemed like a waste of practice game, Australia went in with Krejza in their spin armory on a track that offered a lot of bounce and his bowling was aided plenty. But most damage was done by the seamers early on. Lee, Johnson, Bollinger never made it easy for the Indians except for a certain Mr. Virender Sehwag. He seemed to batting on a typical Bengaluru wicket at the other end. Pre-match he had announced his desire to bat out 50 overs in a match to get the maximum benefit of his stroke making abilities. Almost half way into the innings it seemed Sehwag was serious. But, in the 23rd over Viru got out to Krejza after hitting a 6! No surprises. His 54(56) was the contrast in the Indian batting card. John Hastings, David Hussey picked up 2 wickets each and that should summarize how hopeless the Indians had performed. There were no demons in the pitch, neither was the bowling attack fiery. The mental block of the batsmen kept them on the back foot even when they were at the non-strikers end. Patient innings by Yusuf and contributions from no.10, 11 Ashwin & Nehra helped post a score of 214.

  The score of 215 was never going to challenge Australia in a 50 overs game. The only hope was to pick 10 wickets and do that convincingly. MSD dint have Zaheer's services to help him do that. Nehra, Munaf, Sreesanth led the pace attack on the same track where Lee and co. picked up 7. Watto and Paine went about their duty from the word go. The Indian attack had no sting, no discipline what so ever. Nehra bowled 2 overs and was then replaced by Munaf, who then bowled 2 and was later taken off. Sree at the other end picked up Watson who was going all bazookas after the Indians. Sree then, played his wild card i.e. he got into the  'Are you smarter than a 5th grader?' mode. Needless to say MSD had to rely on his spin attack for the rest of the game. The Aussies dint mind, they just steam-rolled their way to 100/1.

   This is when the Bengaluru track kind of transformed from Perth to Patna as if the aliens wanted to see a fair game. Fuze Chawla was turning the ball in every way possible, like he was playing with his XBOX game pad. From 118/1 the mighty Aussies had a windfall. When Chawla had White and Hussey in consecutive deliveries it was game on!!! Ponting was set at one end and the finish line was visible. Then capt. Dhoni brought on Bhajji, shortly then the well set Ponting was well settled in the dressing room. Punter Vs Bhajji lasted 14 balls in which 4 runs were scored and a wicket. Bhajji had his man! So, Valentine's day came early for the two love birds err.. Ricky n Bhajji. Now, the tail were facing Bhajji who had his tail up. In the 38th over the final wicket fell and Aussies were short by 38 runs.

   Australia have lots to ponder upon with their spin tackling abilities, as there will be lot more coming their way. India on the other hand escaped from the knife's edge, but their inconsistent batting form and glass like seam attack will be giving a few sleepless nights to the coach and captain to choose their world cup eleven.

Oz  lose their Fuze!
© Getty Images

February 4, 2011

ICC World Cup 2011 - SWOT Analysis : NEW ZEALAND

Who will stand-up and deliver for the Black Caps?

   Kiwis are going to the world cup, with the worst possible form imaginable. Like your date never turned up to pick you up for the "Prom", the night you've dreamt about all your life. But, just then the door bell rings and the rest is interesting if you are a girl and totally lost. So, coming back to the cricket.. which is why you and I are here right? Something's gone horribly wrong for New Zealand in the last 12 months, they've lost the ODI series against Bangladesh(0-4), India(0-5), Pakistan(1-3*) which includes a 11 match losing streak, which brings us to having new coaches, management and even Dan the man Vettori giving up test captaincy. Vettori has announced he will give up his ODI captaincy after the WC so, where do the Kiwis go from here?
   On the team selection front most notable names feature as expected with a few youngsters making a back-door entry. Selectors have opted not to take Gareth Hopkins or any back-up wicket keeper so, Baz is the only man for the job. Grant Elliot too misses the team bus where as Jacob Injury-free Oram is chosen. Considering the world cup fiesta is taking place in the sub-continent, the selectors have given Vettori a helping hand and opted for Nathan McCullum and a certain Mr. Woodcock. No kidding! Kyle Mills, Tim Southee, James Franklin the team is nicely beefed up with bowlers who can bat and vice versa.

Daniel Vettori (c), Hamish Bennett, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Jamie How, Brendon McCullum (wk), Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Luke Woodcock.

  • Dictator Dan. Vettori is the key to this team, forget the current form and start afresh.
  • Ross Taylor & Brendon McCullum. If the team needs a new lease of life. They need it ASAP from their senior players. Rosco, Baz are hard hitting batsmen and they need to deliver more often.
  • All round abilities of several players will be extremely useful.

  • Kiwis opening batsmen have struggled. They've tried so many opening pairs of late that we can go on and on. Ryder and Guptill seemed to have been given the responsibility to get them good starts in batting friendly conditions.
  • Middle order has been very inconsistent and failed more often than not. Taylor, McCullum, How, Styris will need to show some gutsy performance.
  • This edition of the world cup favors out of form sides like West Indies & New Zealand or even the underdogs. Once, they pass the league stage it is a knock out tournament. Kiwis should be able to get through to the quarters, from there onits just backing yourselves to win.
  • They did very well in the 2009 champions trophy which is a knock-out tournament. For the record, they lost in the finals to Australia or should I say Shane Watson!
  • Comeback man Big Jake, has taken time out from his injuries and is most likely to participate in the world cup. His batting, bowling abilities will be key to the Kiwis. In his absence James Franklin has made quite a reputation for himself. If both play along with Dictator Dan, Nathan, Mills, Southee the Kiwis tail looks more consistent than the top-order.

  • The team is at a low right now any injury to their top performers will spell "doomsday" quicker than Andrew Symonds giving a radio interview.
  • Current set of Black Caps are brittle against quality spin attacks as we have seen recently. They face Pakistan, Sri Lanka in the league stage that wont paint a beautiful picture for them. They could try and avoid India in the Quarters.
   To keep the plot short, no one is expecting much out of the Kiwis. They are the underdogs, which is reason enough to cheer them. They haven't really put on a show in big tournaments and have won just one champions trophy back in the days of Roger Twose! A decade later their cupboard is empty and talent is starting to fizzle out.

February 2, 2011

ICC World Cup 2011 - SWOT Analysis : SRI LANKA

Will the Lions roar again at home?

   The last team from the sub-continent to win the world cup. The last team to be in a world cup finals (and losing). The last team to beat the no.1 ODI team, Australia in Australia. The team that won the last world cup played in the sub-continent. It is easy to say, the emerald islanders know how to go about their job. They keep it simple yet, are one of the most competitive teams that has consistently done well home and away. Any team that boasts of talent in the category of Dilshan, Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Murali, Malinga cannot be made overnight. Add to that youngsters such as Tharanga, Mathews, Herath, Mendis and experienced players in Samaraweera, Fernando, Kulasekara this team has it all.
   The selectors have gone all out and as expected stars of the past such as Jayasurya, Vaas have been left out keeping the team composition in mind and providing the strongest squad to win the world cup at home as it is being played in their own back yard. Although, surely they would liked to win another world cup for their fans. Only notable absentee would be Suraj Randiv who is unlucky to miss out since, Murali is playing his last world cup and with that he will retire from the ODIs as well. With Perera in, Mirando misses out and the dangerous(for kids under 6) Isuru Udana. Maybe, a back up wicket keeper could have been included but, at who's cost?

Sri Lanka squad: Kumar Sangakkara (capt & wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath

  • This team looks like  no holes barred, depth in batting, variety in bowling, experience, youth et al.
  • Dilshan at his no-non-sense best will be tough to handle once he gets going.
  • Slinga-Malinga will be a handful for even the most experienced and aggressive batsmen.
  • King Kumar's captaincy has been a sinusoidal curve at best. Lots of highs and some earth shattering lows. 
  • Like most modern day captains, Sangakkara goes to the defensive quickly. He has a potent bowling attack and needs to back his boys completely.
  • We might have called the Paki spin attack the best in cricket at present but, with Murali back in the scheme of things, check out the Lankan spin trio "Murali + Mendis + Herath" Geez! Dilshan will be happy to get a break from bowling.
  • Murali will want to gift the perfect farewell present to his fans with the big one.
  • Upul Tharanga will want to make a strong case for his place in the ODI team and maybe push his way into the test team as well.
  • Angelo Mathews, has impressed one and all along with Thisara Perera will want to provide the depth in batting and back Murali-Malinga in the bowling and keep King Kumar happy.
  • Possibly the only threat is that they are great starters in major tournaments and have the expected off-day when the team should be at its peak. Since the '96 WC they have been consistent in reaching semis and finals but failed to win, which will haunt them.
  • The bowling has enough variety in Kulasekara, Mathews, Mendis, Fernando, Perera and they need to be aware that Murali, Malinga will be their strike bowlers but, their hands need to get dirty as well. They cannot depend heavily on star power.
   Ranatunga's men were like a breath of fresh air, they changed the way limited overs cricket is played. Pinch-hitters, using the field restrictions to their advantage they had a plan to defeat different opponents in different styles. Given the Power-Plays and UDRS debut during the 2011 world cup it is obvious to say that if they remain injury free, and play to their potential we can see some top-notch cricket from the islanders and most certainly Sri Lanka can win the world cup once again in the sub-continent.

February 1, 2011

ICC World Cup 2011 - SWOT Analysis : AUSTRALIA

Can he get his hat-trick?

   The period between 1998-2007, this team just could not do anything wrong. You could term that to be the 'GOLDEN ERA', undisputed champions of the world not just once but three consecutive world cup wins! add to that the '87 win courtesy Allan Border and his team. Well, times have changed, so have the men. The golden bunch have retired and made way to the young brigade who, have been struggling to continue the legacy. They aren't the feared opponents anymore like they were previously. They got beaten by Sri Lanka at home, burnt to Ashes by the Poms at home(Also!!). They have somehow clinched the 7 match ODI series and have avoided more humiliation. This series win might give them a moral boost as they leave to the sub-continent in a few days.
   "Cometh the hour, cometh the man" in this case men, umm.. Aussies if you don't call them men. They become a totally different side during the WC tournament. Take this for example: they have been undefeated for the last 29 WC games now and its just unbelievable!! Their squad is a mixed bag really, they have taken a back-up wicket keeper unlike most teams. But, Tim Paine sitting out for Brad Haddin is a shame really. Shaun Marsh, where is he? He's in the form of his life, still a genuine opening batsman cannot make it to a world cup, is a question the selectors haven't answered. Lee + Tait = handful, expect anyone to break down or fly home. And who the hell is John Hastings, anyways???

The 15 member squad looks like this: Shane Watson, Brad Haddin (wk), Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, David Hussey, Cameron White, Tim Paine (wk), Steven Smith, John Hastings, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Brett Lee, Shaun Tait, Doug Bollinger. 

  • Shane Watson has been the pillar of strength for the team for quite some time now. His aggressive, yet cautious batting at the top combined with his wicket taking abilities with the ball has made him of the best all rounders in the world at present. As a result, the Australian team has looked more like Shane Watson + 10 other men on the field.
  • Ponting's comeback from injury should steady the wobbly middle order. If Mike Huss gets fit and makes it to the XI, it will be a totally different team then. 
  • #1 team in the world, they might have lost the top-spot in tests but, they are very much rule the roost in the ODI's. Add to  that the World Cup stage, they know how to run about their business.
  • Where is the spinner in the side ?? Hauritz? Smith? Hell NO! When other teams are stacking their squads with at least a couple of front-line spinners, Cricket Australia does a reversal. The seamers such as the revived Mitch hell Johnson, Doug ginger Bollinger, Shane can do it all Watson, Brett come back from the dead Lee, Shaun has still got it Tait have done the job so far for them. Come the world cup, the team will need them even more.
  • Its been quite some time since the middle order contributed something useful. Clarke seems to be lost in a different world forever now. White and David Hussey haven't stepped up when needed and impressed either.
  • Its a make or break chance for Hauritz. He's another top-casualty in the injury list at the moment. If he doesn't make his captain happy this time, he better start looking for retirement plans PRONTO!
  • Its a huge stage for SPD Smith to perform. He has been sneaking away by scoring 20s and picking up a couple of wickets in the middle overs. This is the time for him to make it big and become a permanent member of the squad for at least a year or two.
  • Off Cricket, its a known fact Tait has had some mysterious psychological problem. Its the perfect place(India) for him to meet an Exorcist and kill the ghosts of his inconsistent past.
  • Injured Mike Huss is a big blow to the brewing problems for the Aussie mid-order. The current problem is that, their batting only 1 or 2 guys firing in a match. Sooner the problem is resolved, better for them.
  • They aren't the same juggernaut now, a few screws loose here & there. The team is highly dependent on the seamers for a while now, and its high time they raised their game as they have to fight it out against the top teams. Back the Aussies to do exactly that, as there is no better stage for the Aussies than the "world cup".
   Never take the yellow fellows lightly. Come the mother of all competitions, they pull up their socks and play the game at their best, as it should be played. In all world cup competitions they have won 51 out of their 69 games. Ricky's side might be a mixed-bag of sorts but, it has potential to be world champs. So, will Ricky get his 3rd world cup title as captain? Something, even Clive Lloyd and the mighty Windies failed to achieve. Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy...