Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Gautam Gambhir is not only learning from his mate, Virender Sehwag... he is going beyond it! In January, Sehwag described Bangladesh as an 'ordinary' Test side... and it created a controversy!

Today, after Delhi Daredevils crushed Rajasthan Royals at the Ferozeshah Kotla in New Delhi, Gautam Gambhir, in the post-match presentation cermony, told Ravi Shastri: "Rajasthan was never a threat! We never considered Rajasthan a big threat, except for Yusuf Pathan. We were only worried about Yusuf Pathan. Everyone else, we were not that bothered about!"

That is revolting... to say the least! One can still understand Sehwag's statement about Bangladesh, but Gambhir was talking about a team that had won four consecutive matches before arriving at Kotla. He was talking about a team that has won the IPL, something that DD has not managed yet.

If this was Gambhir's honest opinion, I am surprised. I'd be interested to see Shane Warne's reaction to this statement. Warne is a proud man... and proud of the team that he has created and moulded at the Rajasthan Royals camp. The fact that Gambhir so outrageously derided his boys will certainly not go down well with him.

Frankly, even I never consider RR a big team. But I never say it aloud because I know that Warne has the ability to inspire them to do the unthinkable. So Gambhir's statement seemed even bigger, coming from the captain!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Talk of Twenty20 being an unpredictable game... and the IPL is proving it! Harbhajan Singh, in an inspired display of his cricketing abilities over 4 consecutive overs (3 while batting and 1 while bowling), completely turned the game between Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians on it head.

The crowd at Dr. D.Y. Patil Sports Academy Stadium seemed almost indignant at the fact that they were hosting an 'away' game for Mumbai Indians... so they made their feelings clear at the top of their voices by showing clearly who they were out to support.

However, when I say that IPL is proving the unpredictability of Twenty20 format, I have a few numbers here to prove it. Out of the 26 games played (till yesterday's DD v KKR), 13 have been won by teams winning the toss. If winning the toss can guarantee you a win on half the occasions only, that is an ideal ratio!

Compare it with the ODIs: In the year 2010, 35 ODIs have given a result (matches between Kenya, Netherlands, Afghanistan and Canada excluded from analysis). Out of the 35 matches, 21 have been won by the side winning the toss. That is 60% of the ODI matches are decided at the toss.

In the subcontinent (especially in day-night matches), this percentage rises even higher. Matches are decided at the time of toss itself due to the 'dew factor'. In Twenty20s, since the conditions to both the teams are relatively same, the 'dew factor' does not have a lot of say.

An IPL Twenty20 match gets over in 3.5 hours (an International T20 takes lesser time). That's the time one innings in an ODI takes. So the conditions faced by both the teams remain similar throughout the match.

One captain who is usually extremely lucky with his coin tosses, though not so much in this IPL, is Kumar Sangakkara. However, his luck is not getting transformed into luck for his team. He will be desperately hoping for some luck as KXIP take on the table-toppers MI this evening.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


When Irfan Pathan came to bowl the last over of KKR's innings against KXIP at Mohali, his figures read 1 for 21 in 3 overs. And in that one over, he managed to replicate those figures, 1 for 21, and thereby finish with 2 for 42.

I think that KXIP need a good leader. With due respect to Kumar Sangakkara (who is a wonderful batsman and keeper), I believe that he is not inspirational enough to solve the current problems of KXIP.

We saw last year, when Royal Challengers Bangalore team was suffering from problems similar to that of the Kings XI Punjab this time, a new leader in the form of Anil Kumble spelled a reversal in their fortunes. Shane Warne has always had the ability to inspire his Rajasthan Royals side to comeback when the odds have been stacked against them. In IPL 2008, Sachin Tendulkar missed the first 7 matches of Mumbai Indians. But he returned to inspire a turnaround in the performance, which saw them miss out on the semi-final spot marginally by 1 point.

KXIP's troubles this year are similar to those of KKR's cricket-related problems last year (KKR had too many non-cricket problems as well). Despite having a good enough team, there is a lack of confidence that is hindering them in their efforts to land the killer blow. Even in today's match, when KKR was struggling to find momentum in the slog overs, KXIP should have chipped away at a couple of wickets and finished KKR. Instead, they conceded 53 runs in the last 4 overs. In the end, 183 always seemed daunting.

I do not know who is the vice-captain of KXIP. Sanga has already been fined twice due to slow over rates, and there might be a ban looming round the corner.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Kings XI Punjab will be hosting the Kolkata Knight Riders this evening at Mohali, in a clash that might see an overdose of Bollywood with Preity Zinta, Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla associated with the two franchisees and many others in the film industry pledging their support for one team or the other.

This is the second consecutive Kings XI Punjab match that can be termed as a-bottom-of-the-table clash. In their last game, KXIP (then 7th) lost to Rajasthan Royals (then 8th) at Ahmedabad. Now, RR has climbed to the 3rd position and the 8th-placed KXIP will be hoping that a similar journey begins for them today against the KKR, who themselves are desperately seeking winning ways.

But this post is about something else. I have just discovered the secret behind the success of Mumbai Indians this season. It's lying in my wardrobe - my Black 'Sachin' t-shirt! That is what has been making MI win all this time!

I have discovered that whenever I wear my Black Sachin t-shirt during MI's match, they go on to win. It's Black Magic at work! If I wear the other White MI jersey, they end up losing, like it happenned on 20th March against the Royal Challengers Bangalore team. But despite MI's loss, that match was a wonderful experience due to two reasons. First, RCB is my second favourite team after MI. Second, it was my first experience of watching a cricket match in a movie theatre.

At about 7.30 that evening, a friend of mine and I decided that we will watch the MI v RCB match at the BIG Cinema multiplex (which is located at the other end of Pune from where I live). So by the time we got hurriedly ready, drove in high traffic to the other end, got our tickets and took our seats, MI had already lost Sanath Jaisuriya.

The best part about watching the match in there was - NO ADVERTISEMENTS! Actually, there were commercials during the strategic time-outs, but the fact that there were no commercials in between overs was refreshing to watch. All the fans in the hall were also distributed with whistles and banners indicating '4' and '6'. So it was fun!

I wouldn't go as far as calling it a 'stadium' experience, but it's the closest I have come to a stadium experience in a long long time. I could shout my support for Sachin at the top of my voice without worrying about the neighbours getting disturbed! By the end of it, my throat was tired and aching! All this when MI lost! I am wondering what would have happenned had MI won...

I wish that BIG Cinema's association with sports continues. I would like to see the upcoming FIFA World Cup in there as well. I know that it is not financially feasible to show each match live, but if it's possible, they could broadcast live the finals atleast. That would be enormous fun!


Rajasthan Royals have just beaten the defending champions Deccan Chargers comfortably to throw open the league table completely. Yusuf Pathan blasted 8 sixes in his Man-of-the-Match performance, but for me, it still does not erase a question mark over him because of his inconsistency, especially when he plays for India. If anything, this innings highlights it even more.

But that's enough of IPL. Amidst all the frenzy, most Indian cricket lovers seem to have forgotten that New Zealand and Australia are currently battling in a Test series in New Zealand (who are trailing 0-1, expectedly!).

Later today, when Daniel Vettori tosses the coin at his home ground (Seddon Park, Hamilton), he will be playing his 100th Test (99th for NZ and 1 six-day Test for World XI in the ill-fated Super Series in 2005). In the process, he will become just the second Kiwi to achieve this landmark after his captaincy predecessor, Stephen Fleming.

When Sachin Tendulkar reached 200 against South Africa at Gwalior in 24th February 2010, Ravi Shastri called him 'Superman from India' on air during commentary. If I am asked who is the first cricketer who comes to my mind when I hear someone say 'Superman', my answer will be Daniel Vettori.

Daniel Luca Vettori made his Test debut as a slow left arm spinner in February 1997. Today, 13 years later, 31 years of age, on the eve of his 100th Test, he has been the captain, coach, selector, strike bowler, most consistent batsman and one of the most inspirational Kiwi cricketer ever. It wouldn't be surprising if he runs for the Prime Ministership next!

On a more serious note, Daniel Vettori has done almost everything he could have for cricket in New Zealand... and he's just 31. He can easily play for 5 more years. And 5 years means that I have a wish for him...

Just like I want to see Sachin Tendulkar win the 2011 World Cup for India at home, I would also like to see Daniel Vettori lead his team to their maiden World Cup win in 2015 when Australia and New Zealand are going to jointly host the spectacle. New Zealand have for long been a competitive limited-over outfit without getting enough silverware to show for it. Not only are they due for a big win, Daniel Vettori also deserves such an honour.

I know that I am thinking too far ahead right now. That World Cup is half a decade away. Some might even be wondering if One Day cricket will survive till then. But that will not stop me! I will continue hoping for worthy reward for a champion cricketer... a true Superman!

Friday, March 26, 2010


Be it a Twenty20 IPL match or a Bangladesh - England Test match, whenever the score stands at 111 or any of its multiples, I think of one of the jolliest figures I have seen on a cricket field - David Shepherd.

One of the most popular umpires in cricket, David Shepherd expired on 27th October 2009 - exactly 150 days ago.

Shep's umpiring records:
Tests: 92
ODIs: 172 (including 3 World Cup Finals)

David Frith, a founding editor of the Wisden Cricket Monthly, in his tribute to the great ump, said:
"His geniality sometimes got the better of him. At Lord's, when Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy scooped up a low edge and fairly quickly shook his head to indicate that it wasn't a catch, umpire Shepherd gave him a burst of appreciative applause. Yet while he was not beyond offering the odd pleasantry to a player, it was never in an ingratiating way. He never sought the limelight. He didn't need to. His rotund shape and florid face stamped him as a favourite character, and he had an outstanding talent for calming incipient frenzy out in the middle."

Simon Taufel, the 5-time ICC Umpire of the Year, said:
"Shep's umpiring style convinced me that in order to be a good umpire, you needed to be a good person first."
"I could never fault Shep's fairness, integrity or desire to umpire well. He took enormous pride in his work and in his performance - if he ever made an error, he took it personally, which showed me that he truly cared about what he was doing. Shep's umpiring record speaks for itself, but my fondest memories of Shep will be of the man - a true gentleman, a kind spirit and a great bloke."

As his retirement loomed, Shepherd was lauded wherever he went. He was given a guard of honour by the New Zealand and Australian teams during the series between the two countries in March 2005. After his last Test, that between West Indies and Pakistan at Kingston, Jamaica in early June 2005, he was presented with a bat by West Indian captain Brian Lara. He was in fact given special dispensation by the ICC to umpire in an England Test at Lords as his final Test, but turned down the opportunity to maintain the ICC's neutral umpiring policy for Test matches.

That was his biggest virtue. Which human being would not want a chance to sign off in style? He could have easily taken the offer from ICC and still be remembered fondly. Yet, he chose not to. He was an umpire - and umpires follow all the rules.

To one of the most respected officials ever in cricket, we miss you!


Here is the Indian squad for the World Twenty20 Championship: MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Vinay Kumar, Rohit Sharma.

I'll again do the analysis that I had done when the list of 30 probables had been announced.

Pure Batsman (1): Gautam Gambhir

Batsmen who can bowl (5): Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Rohit Sharma

Wicketkeepers (2): MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik

Bowlers who can bat (5): Ravindra Jadeja, Praveen Kumar, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, R Vinay Kumar

Pure Bowlers (2): Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra

As can be seen from the list above, a lot of emphasis has been laid on players who have the ability with both the bat and the ball. Therefore, it should not be surprising that Piyush Chawla has edged out Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha to grab the second spinner's slot in the team.

But in the first eleven, the second spinner's slot will go to Ravindra Jadeja, and rightly so. He faced a lot of flak in the previous edition of this Championship in England when he was sent higher up in the order to bat and could not get the runs at a fair clip. It was not his fault. It was a bad piece of captaincy, because Jadeja is a bowler who bats - he is not a genuine all-rounder.

The surprise omission was Virat Kohli, who has shown good form in the international cricket over the past few months. It is good to see that Gautam Gambhir and Ashish Nehra have been selected - it indicates that they are well on course for a recovery. And their quick recovery is absolutely necessary if India is to have a decent chance at the tournament.

There is a good chance that in the next 30 days (during the IPL), someone listed above might get injured (or injured again, as the case may be). So, I was thinking about the replacements. Here is my list of replacements:

Batsmen: Virat Kohli, Manish Pandey
Wicketkeeper: Naman Ojha
Spinners: Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha
Seamers: S Sreesanth, RP Singh (no Ishant Sharma for me)

Well, I do hope that there will be no need to seek any replacements. IPL has already seen the injury list swell and I do not want to see it affect the national team. Any national team, actually.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Exactly one month from today, two teams will walk out on 25th April at Dr. D.Y. Patil Sports Academy Stadium in the finals of the Indian Premier League 2010. And there is a big chance that both those teams are amongst the ones playing today.

The Royal Challengers Bangalore are currently struggling in their chase of Delhi Daredevils' 183. However, there is no doubt in most people's minds that they are one of the two strongest teams in this tounament - the other one being Mumbai Indians.

Mumbai Indians will take on Chennai Super Kings in about an hour from now, hoping to get another win and take another step towards the semi-finals.

Both these teams, RCB and MI, have certain similarities - which might well be called the keys to their success thus far in this tournament.

1. Both these teams have relied on strong solid starts consistently, with two batsmen in the top-5 runs scorers list (Kallis and Tendulkar).
2. Both have a strong opening bowling combination (Zaheer + Malinga and Praveen + Steyn).
3. Both these teams have bowlers who bowl to pick up wickets in the middle overs as well, not just for containing the batsmen (R Vinay Kumar and Dwayne Bravo).

The fact that these teams have concentrated on strengthening their bowling department (an often neglected affair in this format) is paying dividends now. Lets hope we get to see India's highest run-scorer captain his side against the side of India's highest wicket-taker - that would truly be a final of the Indian Premier League.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I am back. I could not blog over the last few days due to a problem with my internet connection, but that's over now. The bottom-of-the-table clash between Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals has begun. Since I am not interested in any of these teams, I am not interested in this match either.

So when I was thinking of what I should blog about, I realised that it's 24th March 2010 today. Its exactly one month since Sachin Tendulkar scored his Double Century at Gwalior against South Africa. So I am back to my favourite topic... anything and absolutely anything related to SRT.

Sachin has carried his brilliant form into the IPL and is currently standing 3rd on the 'Orange Cap' List. He has 2 fifties already and is looking ready for more. Some of you might have noticed that his 176 runs have all been scored without a single 6. On the list of highest run scorers thus far in this IPL, he is the only one amongst the top-23 to have not hit a single stroke for half-a-dozen runs. The 24th batsman on the list, Mithun Manhas (with 83 runs), is the next one without a 6 in this IPL. It seems that SRT wants to pioneer a way of playing risk-free-yet-effective-cricket in Twenty20 format, something he has successfully managed in the ODIs.

Even without a single 6, SRT's strike rate reads 155.75, that's 9.35 runs per over from his bat. So if he faces 120 balls (entire 20 overs), he will score 187 runs. With that score, his team is bound to win 9 out of 10 games. So considering that SRT nowadays plays the role of a sheet anchor, around whom the others in the team blast their shots, his team should consistently score 200+ scores (which Mumbai Indians have done, to their credit).

Due to these numbers and the obvious influence that SRT has on any team that he is a part of, there have been calls by many cricket experts that Sachin should be a part of the team that tours West Indies for the World Twenty20 Championship starting from April 30. On various news channels, I have listened to the views of Navjot Singh Sidhu, Boria Majumdar, Vinod Kambli, Charu Sharma and more already.

One of the news channels claimed that they had received a text message from SRT saying that he is not going to be a part of the said squad and that he sees no reason to review the decision he made in 2007 (of quitting international Twenty20 cricket). There have been mixed reactions to such a claim. While some experts have agreed to his decision believing that a mature person like him must have had a solid reason to take such a decision, the others have not been so lenient and gone to the extent of saying that Sachin is putting money and club cricket above country.

I really do not have an opinion on this matter. I would obviously love to see SRT play T20 for India and hopefully, win us the World Cup in West Indies. However, if there is even the slightest chance that doing so might hinder his preparation for the ODI World Cup 2011, I would not mind him skipping such matches.

On one hand, Charu Sharma said that it's okay is SRT skips the T20 WC because his presence in the squad does not guarantee you a World Cup. On the other hand, Navjot Singh Sidhu said that if T20 WC is going to hinder his preparations for 2011 ODI World Cup and risk him an injury, even the IPL is no different.

None of these views are incorrect. So I think that this debate can be settled only if SRT himself states his exact reasons for skipping the World Twenty20 Championship. One thing's for sure: if I were to be Krishnamachari Shrikanth, and learn that Sachin Tendulkar is willing to make himself available for the T20 World Cup, he would be the first name on my squad - even before the captain.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Delhi Daredevils were beaten by 5 wickets with 5 balls to spare, resulting in their 2nd consecutive home loss. And Deccan Chargers finally got their first 'home' win in IPL at their 'adopted home' (Cuttack) against the only team they had not beaten yet in IPL - Kings XI Punjab.


DD: Virendra Sehwag went beserk, and DD looked untouchable. He got out, DD looked controllable. Hayden attacked DD's bowling, they looked beatable. Raina played the role of a finisher, the DD team was beaten. This team seems to be going the way Deccan Chargers went in the first IPL in 2008. Both teams are extremely strong on paper, but just as DC did not click at all in the inaugural edition, DD do not seem to be clicking now. They will soon need to get their act back together.

CSK: Despite the win, CSK will know that all questions have not been answered in their camp yet. Their bowling looks extremely susceptible to a good onslaught. But what was visible yesterday was the fact that if Matthew Hayden gives them a good start, their batting looks far more secure and capable (even if Dhoni is absent).

DC: They had a wobble in the middle overs while batting, but overcame it to win in the end. As I have mentioned last time as well, the Indians in the DC squad need to click soon. They have been depending too much on their foreign players, and I doubt such dependence wil be healthy for them in the long run.

KXIP: Three consecutive losses! The change of captaincy does not seem to be working. Infact, little seems to be working for them. Their star batsman, Yuvraj Singh, has flopped in all outings so far. Irfan Pathan led a late fightback against DC yesterday, but late fightbacks usually don't win you the game (ask Irfan's brother - Yusuf). Adrian Barath would do better at the top of the order rather than in the middle order.


RR v KKR: In the first edition, Shane Warne was unimpressed when Sourav Ganguly questioned a catch claimed by Greame Smith to dismiss him. It created a controversy. In the last season, Ganguly hit 13 runs of 1 ball from Munaf Patel (a six of a no-ball followed by a six of the free hit) to ensure a tie and then Yusuf smashed Mendis to finish the game. With Chris Gayle available, another cracking performance by the KKR can be expected. I am not sure that RR has the ability or the composure to match them.

MI v RCB: RCB's first ever win in IPL was against MI in Mumbai. This time, both teams are coming off two consecutive wins. Mumbai have a very strong bowling attack. For RCB, Kallis is yet to be dismissed. This one is going one cracking contest. I am really looking forward to this one. Sachin Tendulkar v Anil Kumble. Awesome!

Friday, March 19, 2010


Finally, the Mongoose came out of the kit! And what a way to use it... Matthew Hayden used the loooong handle in a brilliant manner and completely negated the effect of Virendra Sehwag's typically smashing innings earlier in the game.

In the end, Chennai Super Kings were comfortable winners (5 balls to spare is indeed comfortable in this format). So Raina's capatincy debut in IPL got off to a dream start... he even hit the winning six (over the off side, for a change)! MS Dhoni was missed in his captaincy... he might have had a trick up his sleeve to halt Viru's assault (I doubt it!). But eventually CSK was happy in the end.

Dinesh Karthik should not be too disappointed... one can't do a lot when Hayden lets his bat talk (Mongoose or otherwise)! What DK might be worried about is his recent captaincy record while defending strong targets. Not too long back, he was the captain when Yusuf Pathan hit a quick double century to help West Zone defeat DK's South Zone chasing a 500+ target in the Duleep Trophy final. Maybe next time he wins the toss, he should opt to chase rather than set the target!

A word on the current match in progress: DC v KXIP. I noticed the name of Adrian Barath on the team sheet of Kings XI Punjab. I wanted to see both Adrian Barath and Kemar Roach in today's game... I like the Caribbean flair (all the more a reason to support Mumbai Indians)! Well, atleast half my wish is fulfilled!


Just as expected, the match of the Royals turned out to be a completely one - sided encounter. Praveen Kumar took a hat-trick, Kumble chipped in with 3 wickets, Kallis with 2 and 40-odd unbeaten runs and Pandey scored another 40-odd unbeaten runs. Kallis has not yet been dismissed in the tournament.


RCB: On a day when Kumble released his book, it was a picturesque performance by his team. Jacques Kallis is on his way to owning both the caps - orange as well as purple. But a 10-wicket win has its drawback: their middle order has not yet been tested properly. Rahul Dravid has not even had a bat yet in the tournament.

RR: As expected, these Royals were no match for the other Royals. RR look weaker and weaker by the day. Yusuf is being targeted with short balls and he is looking genuinely uncomfortable. I wonder who will be signed up as replacement players for Greame Smith and Dimitri Mascarenhas. Whoever they are, they need to be really good to turn things around in the RR camp.


DD v CSK: Both teams are without their regular captains. It's an irony that Karthik will lead DD against a Tamil Nadu-based outfit and Raina will lead CSK against a Northern outfit. Without Dhoni, CSK looks shaky. Hayden will need to click to help Raina have a successful start in his captaincy stint with CSK. DD looks strong, despite the absence of Gautam Gambhir. Who replaces him will be an interesting decision... if Warner comes in, Dilshan is most likely to sit out.

DC v KXIP: Another stadium will be making its IPL debut today - the Barabati Stadium, Cuttack. Sangakkara will be looking to start winning. Their batting clicked against Bangalore, but the bowling allowed a successful chase of a 200+ score. On the other hand, Gilchrist will be looking for his boys to fire in another 'home' fixture. Despite being the defending champions, DC does not look a threatening outfit.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I am not an expert on colours... so I have absolutely know idea how will a combination of orange and purple will look. Jacques Kallis from Royal Challengers Bangalore might be the one to find out soon.

Kallis is already holding the Orange cap in IPL 2010, having scored 154 runs (before the ongoing match against RR) without being dismissed. He has also taken 3 wickets (including his 2 in the ongoing game against RR). The current purple cap holder, Chaminda Vaas, has 5 (just 2 more).

I wonder what will happen if he is on top of both the tables. He can't be wearing 2 caps!

Nevertheless, Kallis is having a great run in this season so far - a testimony to the fact that truly great players of the game can play any form of the game.


Here's a list of all the injuries that I know of, thus far in this IPL:

1. Ashish Nehra - Delhi Daredevils - Rib Injury (sustained before IPL)
2. Greame Smith - Rajasthan Royals - Finger Injury (v DD)
3. Dimitri Mascarenhas - Rajasthan Royals - Ankle Injury (v DD)
4. Yusuf Pathan - Rajasthan Royals - Shoulder Injury (v DD)
5. MS Dhoni - Chennai Super Kings - Elbow Injury (v KKR)
6. Gautam Gambhir - Delhi Daredevils - Torn Hamstring (v MI)
(Please let me know if I have missed any)

What's interesting to note is that all of the above players (not sure about Dimi) would feature in their country's squad for the World Twenty20 Championship in the Caribbean islands after the IPL. Heck, two of them are captains.

Last year, India missed the services of Virendra Sehwag in the World Twenty20 Championship in England due to the injury he sustained during the IPL. So when one hears Lalit Modi say that despite a huge increase in the number of matches next year, IPL will be played out over 51 days only... it's something to worry about. He may turn a blind eye to all these assertions, but the fact remains that the injuries sustained during IPL are not helping the  players when they wear their national colours.


Just one match yesterday - but a big one! And a big win for the Mumbai Indians. The only thing that went right for Delhi Daredevils in the game was the toss. After that, it was all downhill for them.


DD: Completely and thoroughly outplayed! One does not usually get to see a side as strong as DD beaten so brutally. Gambhir's injury is a big loss. But if anyone has to suffer from an injury, it's best to get it out of the way early in the tournament. Nannes started with a big wide outside leg, but was the only bowler to go for less than 10 an over.

MI: Such a big win was completely unexpected! The performance was clinical, and Sachin's captaincy was admirable. He is a great thinker of the game - everyone knows that. But somehow, his captaincy record never suggested that. But yesterday, it was fun to watch all his moves pay off. And to watch the two openers with a combined age of more than 77 running for almost everything between the wickets made you love cricket a whole lot more!


RCB v RR: If RCB play to their potential, this should be an easy win. The RR side just does not look good enough. Shane Warne does not seem as inspirational as he was in 2008, Yusuf has consistency issues (as well as a dodgy shoulder), and Ravindra Jadeja has been banned. On the other side, Kallis looks threatening every time he holds a bat, Morgan and Pandey are brilliant talents, and their squad looks a lot more healthier than that of RR. Had this match come later in the tournament, I'd even havee said that RCB should test its bench and give a chance to the likes of Dillon du Preez, who  bowled well in South Africa last year in the game against Mumbai Indians. RCB have a chance of winnings their 2nd consecutive 'home' match (they won only 1 at home in 2008).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


First came the news about Rajasthan Royals losing out the services of their two key overseas players - Greame Smith and Dmitri Mascarenhas - due to different injuries. And now comes the big news that MS Dhoni could be sidelined for 10 days due to an elbow injury.

Both Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings (despite their win last night) have had a rusty start to the tournament. RR, now without its openers (Smith - batting and Mascarenhas - bowling), look dead and buried. They will need to find some decent replacements... and find them early. They might well be thinking now that they should not have bought out the contract of Mohammed Kaif.

Chennai Super Kings, after their first victory of this year's IPL last night, looked good to get their campaign back on track after a defeat in the first game to the defending champions. However, if their captain is ruled out, it could set them back a long way. Early reports are suggesting that Suresh Raina will be given the mantle of captaincy for the 4 games that MSD is supposed to be ruled out for:
  1. v Delhi Daredevils at Ferozeshah Kotla, New Delhi on March 19
  2. v Kings XI Punjab at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai on March 21
  3. v Royal Challengers Bangalore at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore on March 23
  4. v Mumbai Indians at Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai on March 25
The injuries to two international captains (Smith and Dhoni) will surely raise concerns in these two camps, especially with the World Twenty20 Championship scheduled to start in the opposite part of the world just 5 days after the IPL ends.


Hayden, please get back into form. I really want to see the Mongoose bat in action, but Haydos has said that he will be using it only in the death overs. If he continues scoring single digit scores, we may never see the 'Mongoose' in this IPL.


RCB: Their bowling left a lot to be desired. No initial breakthroughs meant that KXIP raced to a big score and on any other day, this score would have been enough for RCB to lose the game. Uthappa's innings was completely unexpected - and I don't expect a repeat any time in the near future. However, Kallis' form bodes well for the red outfit.

KXIP: The batting looked good... but it was helped by some shoddy bowling by the RCB bowlers. But the real worry is the fact that despite the pressure of a big target, the bowlers could do nothing to disrupt the calmness of Kallis. Despite the bulk, I think that Ramesh Powar is an intelligent bowler and should not be kept out of the squad.

KKR: The dream run has finally ended... at the hands of the Super Kings. KKR started off well, but just could not sustain the momentum for the entire duration of the match. I could not watch their batting, but it certainly can't have been good.

CSK: Hayden needs to strike... and quickly. Dhoni and Badrinath did the clean up act yesterday, but I doubt CSK as enough arsenal to last them through the tournament if their best striking device 'Haydos' fails. Their bowling continues to be a worry despite bundling KKR out.


DD v MI: This will be Ferozeshah Kotla's first prominent fixture since the fiasco that occurred in the India - Sri Lanka ODI a few months back. The early indications are that the pitch will be a flatbed. This is a highly anticipated contest... not only because of the domestic rivalry between Mumbaii and Delhi, but also because the MI team has never been better prepared to counter a strong DD side. It will be a cracker of a contest if Zaheer, Malinga and Harbhajan from MI and Sehwag, Gambhir, Dilshan and De Villiers from DD - all play upto their potential. And if Pollard manages to shrug off his jetlag and prove his worth, then it will be a greatly entertaining match.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Greame Swann has become the first English off-spinner since the great Jim Laker to take a 10-wicket haul in a Test match against Bangladesh today.

Incidentally, Laker's last 10-for was his famous 19 for 90 in the Ashes Test at Old Trafford, Manchester in 1956. It has taken almost 54 years since then and a sub - continental pitch at Chittagong for another English off-spinner to come along and grab a 10-for.

England's troubles at producing quality spinners have been well documented through history. Many have regarded this inability as also one of the reasons why their batsmen are inept at playing quality spin bowling. So it was hardly surprising that the wait for the next genuinely good English off-spinner lasted more than 4 decades.


A big blow for the Rajasthan Royals... as if Shane Warne didn't have any problems in the first place. The latest news is that Greame Smith injured his right hand middle finger while taking the catch to dismiss Virendra Sehwag in their match against Delhi Daredevils at Ahmedabad, the adopted hime ground for the Royals.

The above video shows how Sehwag and Smith almost made a mess of each other's catches. Both held on in the end... but Viru had the last laugh... for more reasons than one.

Smith might be cursing Sehwag at the moment. He might want to show Sehwag his injured finger. Well, he won't be the last one to do so.


The ides of March came and went... it wasn't as much of a graveyard day for bowlers as I had earlier predicted. It might have been had DD batted first and Sehwag continued for little longer. But the bottomline is that RR team was completely outplayed. And had it not been for Yusuf Pathan at Mumbai, one could have said that they have been outplayed in their second consecutive match.


DD: Professionally done by DD. Their bowlers did not allow RR to get away at any time... and then their batsmen, led by Viru, chased down the modest target without any fuss whatsoever. The team looks intimidating, but will they have enough left in their tanks by the time they reach the semis (which I know they will)?

RR: Yusuf did not click today... and RR ended up looking like a club side taking on arguably the strongest side in the IPL. This side looks too dependent on one man and if he doesn't perform, they do not seem to have a backup plan. Shane Warne's bowling looks tired, Munaf is bowling lollies, Tait is confused whether than batsman is right-handed or left-handed, and barring a couple of performances by Jhunjhunwala and Dogra, no lesser known player has performed so far. I know the tournament has just started, but this team does not inspire any confidence in me.


RCB v KXIP: Both teams will be looking to open their points tally today at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. If told to do so at gunpoint, I'd place my money on RCB, but it could be a close call. I want to see two southpaws click today - one on either side. Yuvraj Singh and Eoin Morgan. Both are beautiful to watch when on song. It would be interesting to see if Morgan is ready to employ the reverse sweep again.

KKR v CSK: The 8th-placed outfit last year, Kolkata Knight Riders, have taken off quickly this year. CSK has looked ordinary (especially their bowling). So it is the perfect opportunity for KKR to get another win and get themselves comfortably placed on the points table. Two senior southpaws hold the key here - Dada and Haydos. It would be interesting to see if Shane Bond is picked or rested. If picked, then will Charl Langveldt play or be dropped? The only positive for CSK might be the fact that Ashwin and Murali might enjoy the Eden Gardens strip slightly more than the one they had at home. And yes, will we see the Mongoose in action this time... what say?

Monday, March 15, 2010


Two teams began their campaign in IPL 2010 yesterday... both on a losing note. For a change, the result of the matches was decided long before the final over. So I didn't have any regrets about watching Alonso and Massa make in a Ferrari 1-2 at the season - opening Bahrain Grand Prix over KKR's easy chase.


KKR: Sourav 'Dada' Ganguly disappointed many Eden Gardens visitors when he chose to field first after winning the toss. He said that he expected the pitch to be slow earlier and pace up in the evening. Take a bow, Dada! Not only did he get it absolutely correct, he also ensured that his bowling changes did not allow RCB to fly to an ungettable total and ensure an easy victory for KKR.

RCB: A disappointing start! I think Vijay Mallaya will soon be pleading with Lalit Modi that RCB should not open its campaign in any future IPL versions against KKR (even if McCullum is unavailable). RCB was playing full strength, yet it was a convincing defeat. May be, they need the boss around them at all times. Vijay Mallaya, who was at Bahrain watching Force India gain some points in the season opener, will have to fly back to India soon to see RCB gain a few points.

CSK: Their play hardly resembled their name 'Super Kings'. I always felt that CSK's bowling would be their weak link... and it showed! MS Dhoni might be thinking why is it that death bowling is a concern in whichever team he captains! And what a sore - after all the 'Mongoose' talk, it never came out of the kit bag.

DC: The defending champions bounced back from their earlier defeat to KKR in a convincing manner. Gilchrist, Symonds, Gibbs and Vaas - the four foreign players all did their bit. They will need more contributions from their Indian players though (no one other than Ojha contributed in the win). They would be desperately hoping that Rohit Sharma regains his last year's form - with bat and ball.


RR v DD: The last time when AB De Villiers was at Ahmedabad, he scored an unbeaten 102 in 59 balls. The last Test at Ahmedabad witnessed 6 centuries and 1 double century. So you know what to expect - runs, runs and more runs! Like De Villiers, even Yusuf will be enjoying the prospect of playing on such a flatbed. Both these men have scored centuries in the IPL - will we see another one today? There's only one thing I can say to the bowlers: Beware the ides of March!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


A super high scoring thriller followed by another thriller, not that high scoring. If one had the hard hitting performance of Yusuf Pathan going in vain, the other had a sublime performance by a captain called Gauti.


MI: The Brabourne stadium erupted when Shane Warne called it wrong at the toss... Sachin Tendulkar had won the first battle... The rest of it did not happen! The recruitment of former ICL stars has strengthened MI's lineup in a big way. And it showed!

RR: For RR, the big issue is that no one apart from Yusuf Pathan seems to be a threat while batting. Greame Smith may get it right some time, but that time needs to come soon.

KXIP: The batting was below par. Mistakes in the field arguably cost them the match. Sanga made an impressive captaincy debut in the IPL though. Atleast he managed to get Dilshan for 0.

DD: Gauti's innings was a throwback to the previous era. Its very rare to see such innings in this form of the game. It included cuts, late cuts, jabs and nudges - a very well compiled knock. With the skipper doing well and other big names due for a big score, DD is a strong strong team.


KKR v RCB: RCB will be hoping to kick off its 2010 campaign in a different manner than 2008, when against this very team - they were smashed. The silver lining for them - McCullum is far away in New Zealand right now.

CSK v DC: MS Dhoni's men in yellow will be starting out at home against the defending champions, who would want to fight back from their loss in the first game. Bowling is a worry for both the teams. Hayden's mongoose will be interesting to watch.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Going into the first match of the Indian Premier League 2010, there were talks about the two teams not being full-strength. So it wasn't quite surprising that the quality of cricket on display at Navi Mumbai yesterday was sub-standard.

KKR was useless in the first halves of both innings, but had the last laugh as DC threw it all away in the respective second halves.


DC: The team looked almost sleepy on the field. I think they took the first match as defending champs against the wooden spoon holders too lightly. Gilly would want his boys to tighten their belt soon.

KKR: Soon to face a selection dillema... Gayle, Bond and McCullum will soon join the squad. Owais Shah, Angelo Matthews and Charl Langveldt gave evidence yesterday that they should not be dropped. Will reputations count over performance and form? We will soon know...


MI v RR: Wow! Sachin Tendulkar v Shane Warne... A rivalry renewed (even though it is from a past era)! If the match gets over before the last over, then my money is on MI to win it. If the match goes to the last over, then my money is on MI to lose it.

KXIP v DD: Two new captains leading their squads... DD are the overwhelming favourites going by their current form. I will not be able to watch this match because I'll be travelling, but I'd be interested to see Sanga's plans to counter TM Dilshan.

Lets hope that today's matches will match the quality of the names that will be taking the field. Close matches are not good enough, we want good cricket too.

Friday, March 12, 2010


So after all the controversies, worries, tantrums and myriad other issues that occupied the media bytes, Indian Premier League 2010 is set to commence this evening.

The non-bidding of Pakistani cricketers at the auction in January, the security issues, the threats of foreign players pulling out, the boycott by the News Broadcaters' Association, threats of Deccan Chargers pulling out, warnings by political parties to Australian players - all of this is now the past. As the defending champions Deccan Chargers meet the last year's wooden spoon holders Kolkata Knight Riders at their 'home' match in Navi Mumbai, all attention will centre on the cricket aspect of this multi-million dollar tournament.

There will obviously be glamour, glitz, razzmatazz and traces of Bollywood, but finally, after a year, IPL will have news relating to cricket! The captains: Sourav Ganguly, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Kumar Sangakkara, Gautam Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni will all be keen to hold the glittering trophy in their hands on April 25 at the same D.Y. Patil Stadium where the action kickstarts today.

Out of these 8 captains, the first 5 might be playing their last IPL along with the likes of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. That is the biggest reason compelling me to follow this IPL, because the heroes of my childhood days do not have much left in the tank for the shortest version of the game.

Though the teams will not be at their full strength due to the absence of players on international duty, it will still be a worthwhile contest. And once these players are back, it will be a mouthwatering contest. After two years, all the franchisees (except Deccan Chargers) will be looking forward to genuine 'home' support across 12 venues.

Let the festivities begin...


Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Media Manager Shahzad Malik released a press note yesterday stating that the entire 18-man hockey squad that played in the World Cup at New Delhi has offered to resign after finishing 12th (last place) by losing to Canada in the 11th-12th place play-off.

That's the last thing Pakistan needs! Its cricket team (as well as the Board) is in disarray. And now problems in hockey as well... The two most popular sports in Pakistan are going through, arguably, their worst crisis for quite some time in history.

Pakistan, as a nation, is already suffering due to various reasons like poor governance and administration, presence of too many powerful extremist forces in the country, lack of security and many other problems. It is in times of such gloom that a sport can spark a change. It needs just one magical performance to lift an entire nation's mood. To make it forget about the daily miseries of life. To revel in that moment of pride and happiness.

It has the ability to ignite hope and belief in the darkest of spaces. And Pakistan, with all its problems in cricket and hockey, is being robbed off that chance of redressal. It's a pitiable situation and one feels sad to see the negative growth path that they are trodding on.

It's time that someone in Pakistan wakes up to the reality of the situation and sets the alarm bells so that the others may see it as well. The cricketers had their chance in Australia and the hockey team had it in India. Both the teams lost it, and ended up making the matters worse. Someone else now needs to grab the bull by the horns!


I just heard that IPL and UN have struck a deal - something related to environment preservation. UN has declared 2010 as the 'Year of Bio - Diversity' and is apparently 'impressed by IPL's commitment to the cause of betterment of the environment'.

Lalit Modi announced that by next year, IPL will become a completely 'Carbon Neutral' tournament. I did a quick check on Wikipedia. Here's the meaning of Carbon Neutrality: "Carbon neutrality, or having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference."

Trust Lalit Modi to come up with jargons that even he will barely understand. If he is truly committed to make IPL 'Carbon Neutral', he might have to completely let go off the fireworks display that have become a regularity in IPL's opening and closing ceremonies. In fact, the whole concept of opening and closing ceremonies is very much stacked against 'Carbon Neutrality'. Is he ready to let go of the laser shows, stage performances and all the hoopla?

He does not have to stop giving his speeches (something he seemingly loves). He can always use Twitter for that.


In a few hours time, the mega event will begin. IPL 3 - Back in India. Lalit Modi, given his standards, must have organised a gala opening ceremony at the D.Y. Patil Stadium.

However, I have never had a lot of patience for ceremonies. I'd much rather watch the 2nd Practice Round of the Bahrain Grand Prix tomorrow (with Schumi back, I am just as excited about the first Grand Prix of the 2010 Calender).

The bad news for me is that Mumbai Indians play their first match on Saturday - at the same time as Schumi, Vettel, Massa and the rest will line up for their Qualifying Session at Bahrain. I don't want to miss either one of these events. I have no clue how I will be managing both. Lets see what unfolds...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Disbelief. That was the feeling when I read reports saying that Mohammed Yousuf and Younis Khan have been handed out life bans by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Yousuf and Younis, the senior most players for Pakistan, in the international circuit, will surely still harbour hopes of playing for Pakistan, especially given PCB's history of overturning bans imposed after appeals (Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammed Asif, etc). But the question to be asked is: WHY WAS THIS BAN IMPOSED IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Was Pakistan so badly hurt by the three whitewashes away to Australia that banning their two most experienced players seemed a reasonable step? Seniors need to play an important role in their side, especially when you hear about youngsters like Umar Akmal who like to punch above their weight. It was reported that Umar Akmal threatened to sit out of the Third Test against Australia if his elder brother Kamran Akmal was dropped from the eleven.

What on earth was Umar thinking? Just 5 Tests old, what gave Umar the self-confidence to pull off such a coup? For all we know, he might next say that he will stop playing cricket unless he is given the captaincy!

In addition to these life bans, Shoaib Malik and Rana Naved have been banned for one year each. Heavy fines have been imposed on Umar Akmal, Kamran Akmal and Shahid Afridi. Pakistan cricket, in a perpetual crisis, is plunging deeper and deeper into a blackhole - and PCB is aiding the freefall, rather than curing it.

Pakistan is a country that has always managed to produce wonderful cricketing talents. Youngsters in the team have usually made a favourable impression on the field. But PCB lacks the facility to groom such talents and guide them to become a force. Individualism has often taken its toll and as a result, Pakistan cricket has always been the sufferer.

I think the time has come for PCB to go the CSA way. Cricket South Africa is in the process of completely restructuring itself in order to govern the sport better in the country. Maybe that is the solution for PCB as well. Someone needs to make them see it.

This is the time for ICC to step in. But ICC, as usual, is going to say: Sorry, it's an internal matter of the Board - we can do nothing about it.

Oh my, what anarchy! PCB, wake up - it's time to rise! The alarms are ringing...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


For all the SRT fans like me out there, here is a Cricinfo article you ought to read. It's brilliant in content, it's brilliant in character.

The article mentions that Sachin scored a 33-ball 78 in a Mumbai Indians practice match at the Bombay Gymkhana ground. A 33-ball 78! What's wrong with this man! He hit 5 sixes and 10 fours - that's 70 of his 78. Isn't he just a month and a half away from 37? And all of this must have been without a sightscreen behind the bowler's arm!

Looking at the way Sachin is blazing away, are we looking at a Mumbai Indians' year this IPL? After all, Twenty20 is one form of cricket that allows individual brilliance to rule game over a team performance. And we all do know about the brilliance of this man. It's almost unparalleled!

I am certainly keeping my fingers crossed for MI triumph in what could possibly be the Little Master's last shot at Twenty20 cricket.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Come March 12, the third edition of the Indian Premier League will kick off in Mumbai. But in this blog, I'll be attempting to look beyond it. I am placing my eyes on the fourth edition - the IPL 2011 - the first IPL with 10 teams.
As per initial reports, IPL will allow each of the existing franchisees to keep 6 players from their original squads with them (4 Indians and 2 overseas players). All the others will compulsarily have to be auctioned in order to be a part of the next Indian Premier League. Before waiting for this year's IPL, the World Twenty20 Championship to follow, and next year's ODI World Cup (which will be the last major event before the IPL 2011), I am kicking into some previews and strategising.


Players sure to be retained (Indians) - M.S. Dhoni, S. Raina
Players sure to be retained (Overseas) - M. Hayden (assuming he does not retire), A. Morkel (atleast I would have retained him)
Other players in with a chance of being retained - M. Vijay, S. Jakati (he was good last year), P. Patel

The bowling of this team does not inspire a lot of confidence this year. I am sure the owners will be keenly following the best bowlers in this year's tournament and the World Cup before the July auctions.


Players sure to be retained (Indians) - R. Sharma, P. Ojha
Players sure to be retained (Overseas) - A. Gilchrist (if he continues playing), A. Symonds
Other players in with a chance of being retained - H. Gibbs, VVS Laxman (possibly because of the Hyderabad factor), K. Roach, D. Smith, V. Rao

This team looked the strongest on paper in 2008, but took a year to prove itself. If Gilly decides to retire, the performances of Dwayne Smith and Kemar Roach will matter a lot to decide who will be retained for next year.


Players sure to be retained (Indians) - G. Gambhir, V. Sehwag, D. Karthik
Players sure to be retained (Overseas) - None (its a problem of plenty)! It will be a tough choice between AB De Villiers, T. Dilshan, D. Nannes, D. Warner and possibly even W. Parnell
Other players in with a chance of being retained - A. Mishra, A. Nehra, P. Sangwan

This is one team that will surely want Lalit Modi to allow more players from the existing team to be retained by each franchisee. On form, DD should not be beaten this year. Will this rich streak of form of the key components of the team continue till next year? Or will it fizzle out sometime soon? This one is surely a team to watch out for - during this year's IPL and after it as well.


Players sure to be retained (Indians) - Y. Singh, I. Pathan
Players sure to be retained (Overseas) - K. Sangakkara
Other players in with a chance of being retained - B. Lee (if he does continue playing cricket), Y. Abdulla, M. Jayawardene, S. Marsh, R. Bopara, P. Chawla, R. Powar, S. Sreesanth

One thing's for sure - this team next year will still include Yuvraj Singh and Kumar Sangakkara. There are very few cleaner strikers of a cricket ball. Preity Zinta might want to bid for a regular opener in the July auctions if they do not retain Shaun Marsh, their star performer in 2008.


Players sure to be retained (Indians) - L. Shukla, M. Tiwary (I doubt Ganguly will continue playing next year)
Players sure to be retained (Overseas) - B. McCullum, C. Gayle
Other players in with a chance of being retained - A. Dinda, M. Karthik, C. Pujara, I. Sharma, W. Saha

Shah Rukh Khan will want to invest wisely in July. His team's selection strategies have been the centre of many jokes - be it Ishant Sharma's US$ 0.9 million contract in the 1st year, Mortaza's US$ 0.6 million contract in the 2nd year or the investment in injury-ridden Shane Bond for this year. But I pity their team selection strategists. For all of their foolish investments, there always were fools from other franchisees as well who were willing to go almost as far. SRK will surely not want any blogger in his team.


Players sure to be retained (Indians) - Z. Khan, H. Singh, A. Nayar (I am sure SRT will make himself unavailable next year)
Players sure to be retained (Overseas) - K. Pollard
Other players in with a chance of being retained - JP Duminy, L. Malinga, D. Bravo (amongst the overseas players) and S. Dhawan, D. Kulkarni, A. Rayudu and R. Satish (amongst the Indians)

Mrs. Nita Ambani might want to invest in some cool finishers. In both the IPLs thus far, Mumbai Indians have often displayed the case of 'So Near Yet So Far'. They need players who will be able to hold their nerve in the end and pull off some wins. The talent in the team is ample - especially with the inclusion of some ICL comebacks like Rayudu and Satish. I guess that all will agree this is the last time Sachin Tendulkar will be seen playing for an IPL franchisee.


Players sure to be retained (Indians) - Y. Pathan
Players sure to be retained (Overseas) - G. Smith, S. Tait (given his current form)
Other players in with a chance of being retained - M. Patel, N. Ojha, D. Mascarenhas

Shane Warne is already 40. So I am expecting him to hold on to his post of the Coach of RR and maybe even the Chief Recruitment Officer. Given his modus operandi of using lesser known players to get big results, their strategy for the auction in July will be the most unpredictable one.


Players sure to be retained (Indians) - V. Kohli, M. Pandey
Players sure to be retained (Overseas) - K. Pietersen (Dr. Mallaya seems to be fond of him)
Other players in with a chance of being retained - P. Kumar, A. Mithun, R. Uthappa (Dr. Mallaya seems to be fond of him too), E. Morgn, D. Steyn, R. Taylor, R. van der Merwe

This will certainly be the last IPL of Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid. So Dr. Mallaya will have to manage without their services next year. He will also be reluctant to let go of some of the best domestic talent on scene from his squad. I think Eoin Morgan's performance this year can help him unearth a young and brilliant overseas talent that can be a part of his team for a long term period. He will not want his team to be ever referred to as a 'Test Team' in the future.

In addition to the above eight, two more teams will feature in IPL-4. The initial reports are suggesting that Ahmedabad and Pune are the favourites to have an IPL team of their own in the next edition. We will know for sure by 21st March. These two teams will have to build their team and brand right from the scratch. But they will not mind it. Even the Rajasthan Royals were not expected to win in 2008. They will know that they are always in with a chance.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


New Zealand 43 / 3 in 8.4 overs. The heavens open up. Mr. Duckworth and Mr. Lewis are invited to use their mathematics.

Before rain: 231 runs required from 248 balls at 5.59 runs per over.
After rain: 223 runs required from 218 balls at 6.14 runs per over.

The required run rate went up by 0.55 runs per over AND the Kiwis were denied the use of 12 Powerplay balls. Why? Just because the Aussies had managed to grab 3 wickets before the heavens opened up.

Vettori aptly said it: "There are a lot of things I don't understand about cricket, and that (D/L Method) is one of them. To lose two Powerplay overs and only have eight runs taken off, I don't know how that works. It makes things incredibly tough. It would have been better had the game gone the full 50 overs, it would have been a lot better for us."

So I decided to do a bit of research about this D/L Method. Using the official D/L Website, and the tables provided there, I found that I manually calculated the revised target at 265, which was 1 less than the actual target for the Kiwis today. So I made assumed that my calculations are sufficiently accurate, and I can proceed with my research. Here are my computations.

After 8.4 overs, having scored 43, had New Zealand lost fewer wickets, they would have had the following targets:
2 wickets down - Target 262.
1 wicket down - Target 259.
0 wickets down - Target 256.

So, here you go. Even if New Zealand had lost no wicket at the time of interruption, the target would have reduced by just 18 runs in 30 balls. The logic behind putting the 2nd Batting team in a numerically disadvantageous position is sound. In simple terms, the team batting 2nd has a target ahead and can pace the innings accordingly. The team batting 1st did not have any idea that there might be interruption in play later and therefore, their lack of such knowledge need to be compensated numerically.

However, such a reduction in target did not compensate New Zealand for their loss of 2 Powerplay overs. And that is where Daniel Vettori has a problem.

There are many issues that Duckworth Lewis method fails to consider:

1. In some cases, both the teams are aware that there might be an interruption in play later in the game, given the overhead conditions. In such a case, is there a need to compensate the team batting 1st?

There might be a case for using the weather forecasts and percentage chances of rain as numerical variables in calculations.

2. The method of dealing with the Powerplay overs also remains a concern, especially now when there is a Batting Powerplay and a Bowling Powerplay. There is also an added factor of only 2 fielders allowed outside the circle in the first 10 overs and 3 allowed in the other 2 Powerplays. As if this was not enough, we also have a rule of 2 compulsary catchers required in the first 10 overs.

If we assume that the catchers are used to take wickets (in normal cricket, they are!), then we might have to consider the number of wickets that could have gone down in the overs lost from the compulsary first 10-overs Powerplay.

There are various other factors that cannot be stated numerically, so I'll just count them: Pitch, Slower outfield after rain, Length of boundaries, Ball change after 34 overs, et cetera. You can help me with more of such shortcomings of the D/L Method.

I agree that all factors cannot be considered in setting revised targets. There will always be shortcomings, be it in the Duckworth-Lewis Method or the Jayadevan's Method (adopted by ICL in their competition). However, some of these concerns can be addressed because they can be quantified. And once we have some numbers, mathematicians simply love playing with them.

I do not have the intelligence of Mr. Frank Duckworth or Mr. Tony Lewis, both mathematicians par excellence. But I do believe that with their brains, they can address the concerns faced by a lot of cricket followers like me and indeed, captains like Dan.