January 22, 2010

2009 - gone bys & good byes 4th QTR

In the ongoing series of the Quarterly review of 2009, we have finally reached the last of the four quarters. Nevertheless, the cricket has not. In the final quarter the quality and quantity of cricket was taken to a new level.

First, the tests. Sri Lanka visited India for a battle of the spin stars. So, that was Murali+Medis+Herath Vs Bhajji+Mishra+Ojha. Disappointing to say the least, Lankans went down 2-0. Murali was simply attacked, Mendis was even dropped, Herath was a bit of “if - but” throughout. Sehwag continued destructing attacks as a routine thing. Gambhir notched up 4 test centuries in a row, after 2 in kiwi-land. Sachin, Dravid, Laxman got runs and more runs. Sri Lanka were overpowered and a list of injuries to players dint help either. As a result, for the very first time since India began playing test cricket.. they became the #1 test side in the world courtesy some crap rating system (read ICC). West Indies toured Australia, with the players and WICB finally putting down their swords. But, that dint change the course of the test series. Aussies easily winning 2-0. Australia then beat Pakistan 3-0 in tests, winning from losing situations thanks to the generous Pakistanis. The far more interesting test series were played between Pakistan-New Zealand and South Africa-England.

Pakistan toured New Zealand in November, a side which saw a new captain in MoYo and few ICL stars returning to the side along with the i_wanna_be_ShoaibAkhtar Md. Asif. Kiwis too were playing with the return of ICL stars like Tuffey and Bond. The test series was closely fought closer than it seems 1-1 the final result. Players who impressed were Umar Akmal, Md. Asif, Aamer, Bond, Tuffey, Vettori. Not so surprisingly Bond got injured after m.o.m performance winning the first test. This left Kiwis losing the final test and helped Pakistan drawing level in the series. The England-South Africa series up the stakes even higher. England managing to draw the 1st test with just the last wicket remaining, denying Saffers a victory. Upbeat Proteas then lost the 2nd test to the Poms after a batting slump. Proteas fought back hard in the 3rd test, once again England managing a draw, denied victory by one wicket. This confirmed England were now the most annoying side in test cricket. Remember the Ashes – Cardiff test? Saffers somehow did manage to pick 20 english wickets and thus won the 4th and final test leveling the test series 1-1.

ODI’s first saw the Aussies thrash England after losing the Ashes test series.
Australia beat England 6-1 in a 7 match ODI series. The tri-nation series held in Sri Lanka featured India, New Zealand and the hosts. India won the tri-series all geared up for the prestigious Champions Trophy in South Africa. Australia won this major event in the cricketing calendar without pulling a muscle. Shane Watson was impressive, taking his role in the team to a new high. Pakistan for once was very impressive, only losing to the Kiwis in the semi-finals, raised questions about the match being fixed. England surprisingly made it to the semis of an ICC tournament, losing to their friends, defending champs and eventual champs = Australia.
Australia then played another 7 match ODI series this time in India. Beating India at home 4-2. Pakistan lost the ODI series in NZl, but won their area of expertise the T20’s. England beat SAf at home 2-1, becoming only the 2nd nation to beat SAf at home in ODI’s. Sri Lanka – India continued playing cricket as though nothing else was left to do. India won 3-1, with the final ODI at Kotla, New Delhi being abandoned. Ind, Bangladesh and no prize for guessing Sri Lanka played a tri-series, this time Sri Lanka winning the finals.

The Champions League T20, held in India saw some of the top domestic teams fighting it out T20 style. Which means the top 3 teams from the IPL, 2 teams from Aus, SAF, Eng and 1 each from W.I. , S.L., NZl. 12 champion teams and only one possible champion of the champions. The tournament did raise a few questions as the current world T20 champs dint have any representative side i.e. Pakistan were booted out. Nevertheless, the tournament took off to a flier, the current IPL champs i.e. Deccan Chargers were blown out in the very first round. This left Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils in the next round but, in the same group. But, it dint stop there, none of the Indian teams qualified for the semis. Trinidad & Tobago team the surprise package. In fact, they beat the Cape Cobras and met New South Wales who beat Victoria Bushrangers in the finals of the Champions League. New South Wales emerged as the winners of the first champions league T20. Being crowned champion of the champions. Kieron Pollard left an impact with a batting strike rate of 197!

So, in a year action packed with cricket it wasn’t easy summing things up. Major tournaments like the Ashes, ICC Champions Trophy, T20 World cup, Champions league T20 and of course the IPL all featuring in a single calendar year. Hope, you’ve enjoyed reading as much as enjoyed watching the cricket and wishing 2010 takes the competition to the next level. Until then say “Wah”.

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