Thursday, April 29, 2010


Zimbabwe defeated Australia by 1 run their warm-up match before the 3rd World Twenty20 Championship, which is set to commence from 30th April. Australia, reportedly, lost momentum at crucial junctures during their chase and lost the match off the last ball.

The first occasion of Zimbabwe beating Australia in a World Cup match occurred way back in 1983. On the very first day of that World Cup (June 9, 1983) at Nottingham, Zimbabwe successfully defended their score of 239 and defeated a rusty Australian side by 13 runs. India went on to win the World Cup.

Since the, Zimbabwe has won many matches (even in World Cup tournaments), but they had to wait for 24 years to defeat Australia in a World Cup match once again. This time, the format was shorter than before. On the 2nd day of the inaugural edition of World Twenty20 Championships (September 12, 2007) at Cape Town, Zimbabwe successfully chased down a target of 139 with 1 ball to spare, getting their winning runs in the form of leg byes. India went on to win the World Cup.

Zimbabwe's win in the warm up match does not really count as a World Cup match win over Australia. It doesn't even count as a Twenty20 match win! The warm up matches are not recorded as official Twenty20 matches. So it would to too presumptuous of me to predict an Indian win in this year's World Twenty20 Championship... yet the omens are good.

There are many question marks over India's team selection policies, form and fitness concerns, and talks about fatigue setting in. But amidst all this, if any team were to choose between an ODI Tournament, a Test series or a World Twenty20, they would definitely go for the last option since it increases their chances of winning against all odds.

I do feel that things could have been better for India going into the World Cup... especially on the form and fitness front as well as the selection front. One really can't do much about the fatigue factor... in any case, everyone concerned knew the scheduling well in advance. But then things weren't that great going into the World Cup 1983 or World Twenty20 Championship 2007 either.

India will be playing their first match against the impressive Afghan side on 1st May... and will look to get to a comfortable (if not a comprehensive) win. I am particularly interested in watching the performance of the promising Afghan pacer Hamid Hassan, who has even said that he would like it if his performances are observed by the IPL team owners. Hassan has been a key figure in the Afghan squad, and has played his part well in helping Afghanistan qualify for this tournament. He now has his chance on a bigger stage.

Though the build up to this tournament has been relatively low key (expectedly so... after the frenetic IPL and its abundance of controversies), but it promises to be an interesting one. Who are my favourites to win this tournament? After a lot of thought and some instinct: 1. Sri Lanka; 2. Australia; 3. West Indies; 4. South Africa.

But that does not mean that these are my four semi-finalists. These are just my bets on the winners of this tournament... a return to international cricket.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


The world has quickly moved on from the result of IPL 2010 finals... it is more interested in the unforeseen result of the IPL Controversy. But I am still a step behind... still thinking about the finals.

Even before the finals, despite my support for MI, I had a strong feeling that CSK could upset the MI bandwagon. I'll tell you why. Lets have a look at the MI players who have played in big finals before this particular match:

Sachin Tendulkar: World Cup 2003 Finals
Zaheer Khan: World Cup 2003 Finals
Harbhajan Singh: World Cup 2003 Finals
Lasith Malinga: World Cup 2007 Finals
Kieron Pollard: Champions League 2009 Finals

In case you haven't noticed, all the five players above played in these finals for the losing team. These men had had no experience of winning a big finale. On the other hand, here is a list of CSK players:

MS Dhoni: World Twenty20 Cup 2007
Matthew Hayden: World Cup 2003, World Cup 2007
Muttiah Muralitharan: World Cup 1996
Doug Bollinger: Champions League 2009

These men have tasted victories in other big matches. They know how to win the crunch moments of such encounters. And in the end, I guess that was the difference between the two sides on the night of 25th April.

Well, I guess this is my last post related to the cricket in this year's Indian Premier League. A lot of other issues surrounding the cricket have come to fore over the past few days... but all of that, for some other day.

Monday, April 26, 2010


So after 60 games, Chennai Super Kings have been crowned the champions of IPL 3. Did they deserve the title? Mixed opinions. But sadly, the record books will show that Mumbai Indians was the most dominant team in the Indian Premier League 2010 for 59 matches, but could not be crowned the champions due to a few mistakes in the 60th one.

Letting off Suresh Raina twice proved costly... but what followed was even more so. Kieron Pollard was sent at when the asking rate was about 15. He may look like a beast, but he is still a human being. Had he been sent just a wicket or two earlier, he would have atleast had the breathing space to pull off the chase. I know I sound like a sore MI supporter... but it can't be denied that by the time Pollard came in to bat, it was already MI for Mumbai... Mission Impossible!

Congratulations to CSK... the silver lining is that finally, after three years, it was an Indian captain who got to lift the heavy trophy (it is pretty heavy... Lalit Modi almost dropped it at the time of presentation).

Now, as the CSK team celebrates, they and the other teams have already diverted their focus to the upcoming World Twenty20 Championship to be held in the West Indies from April 30. They will not only have to fight the opposition, but also fatigue... especially India. Now, Praveen Kumar and R Vinay Kumar will be facing off against Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn, Mark Boucher and van der Merwe, who were their teammates just a few days back.

On the whole, though there was some good cricket in this IPL, I was disappointed by the lack of close finishes. I have already touches upon this point in one of my previous blogs... the fact that as compared to the last edition, this IPL featured a lot fewer close finishes. The tightness of the points table somewhat made up for this... but when the last four matches (2 semis, 3rd place playoff and finals) all turn out to be less-than-exciting finishes, the last flourish does not leave a good taste.

Maybe it was the pitch to blame (win-the-toss-bat-first-win-the-match-pitch), but cricket in the end did not win as comprehensively as it should have!

Friday, April 23, 2010


Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you... Happy Birthday Dear Sachin, Happy Birthday to you!

SRT turns 37 today. Tomorrow, he plays one of the more high-profile matches of his career (hopefully). And win it (again hopefully).

At this age of 37, he is certain to achieve and break a few more records in cricket... nothing satiates him. He will soon become the most-capped Test player in history (he is just 2 short of overtaking Steve Waugh's record). He will add more runs and more runs and more runs. He will score more tons and more tons and more tons. He will end the IPL as the Orange Cap holder. He might possibly show a bit more Twenty20 magic at the Champions League Twenty20.

But most importanly, (again hopefully) he will, at this age of 37, win India just her 2nd One Day International World Cup in front of his home crowd at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. Life would reach a full circle for him then.

I read a report just now that quoted Dhoni as saying: "Sachin was born to play cricket." Indeed!

If I were to meet him today, then what would I give him as a birthday present? I have no clue... but I would certainly want to give him something that expresses heartfelt gratitude for being Sachin!

He might not celebrate a very comfortable birthday with those stitches... he cetainly won't be shaking a lot of hands! But he would definitely love to have some real good reason for a post-birthday celebration. The task will be difficult if he is not fit enough to play on the 25th... but fingers crossed (mine, not his), he will play and win!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Five stitches in the webbing between his fingers... will he be able to play the final? MI had a convincing win over RCB last night, but the elation was subdued due to the news of the injury to Sachin Tendulkar's fingers.

Kieron Pollard limped his way to a 13-ball 33* before limping more to a 3-17 in 4 overs and a contribution to a run-out. By the end of it, he wasn't even limping! Pollard came in when 14 balls remained in the innings... and he faced 13 of them. But he scored just 33 of them! That is slow by his standards. Just last week, he had managed 45. What a bore!

When KP starred with his bowling (finishing with figures of 1-20 in 4 overs), the match was in favour of RCB. And then the new KP, with some help from a lesser-known ST, turned the game around decisively. But any mention of yesterday's win will not be complete without Rayudu's contribution. He steadied the ship early on, got out when MI needed the Pollard thrust, and then capped off a wonderful evening with two low catches and an athletic stumping of the original KP.

Wow, MI in the final. Finally, my investment on the two t-shirts is paying off. Enough about MI now! DC and CSK will be fighting for the other slot in the finals today.

DC is on a high with five consecutive wins. CSK is also on a high with a close nail-biting win in their last match after their meeting with Dalai Lama. Logic would suggest that law of averages is bound to catch up with DC soon. CSK will be wondering how soon!

DC have relied a lot on Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma's contributions. Their captain has not really clicked yet. Some performance from Suman and Vaas have helped. CSK, on the other hand, have relied more on their Indian players - the unexpected ones like Murali Vijay and S Badrinath. They have revolved around Suresh Raina though, with some more contributions from MS Dhoni, Doug Bollinger and sometimes, Albie Morkel and Matthew 'Mongoose' Hayden.

I have already lent my support firmly to CSK for this match. And for a change, I'd like to see a close encounter deciding the finalist, unlike the hordes of one-sided matches that we have had in this tournament so far.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Mumbai Indians have won the toss in the first semi-final and elected to bat first. The moment match referee Javagal Srinath announced that Sachin had won the toss, I started muttering, "Bowl first, bowl first!" And then Sachin announced to the Navi Mumbai crowd, "We'd like to bat first!"

Though I want to see MI bat first, but I am scared of RCB's chasing record. The opening partnership of RCB has been imperious in run chases... and poor in target setting. But then this is the semi-final... the big stage! And two big men... Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble!

I am just keeping my fingers crossed... prayers ready... hopes raised... all for SRT! Anil Kumble, another great cricketer, deserves a title too! So he should lose the match, win the 3rd-place qualifier, and then go on to win the Champions League that will be played in South Africa. After all, his team is a mini - South Africa! He had his shot at the IPL trophy last year, missed it at the final hurdle... so now he should pass over the chance.

The stage is set... the teams ready... SRT is about to walk out... let the battle begin!

Monday, April 19, 2010


The quarterfinal between Delhi Daredevils and Deccan Chargers was also a decider for the 2nd-place finish in the points table. So, it's kind of ironic that the loser does not get to be 3rd or even 4th - the loser was directly knocked out of the tournament.

Delhi Daredevils have been knocked out... one of the favourites before the tournament began are out! Out of my 4 predicted semi-finalists, 3 have managed to get through... but I am still sad about my failed prediction because it shouldn't have failed. DD had the match in their hands... and somehow, they managed to grab defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Deccan Chargers have qualified... and their form looks ominous for the other semi-finalists, especially CSK, who will play them in the 2nd semi-final on the 22nd. DC beat CSK in both their meetings this year... and pretty convincingly so. But they lost both the matches that they have played this year at Dr. D.Y. Patil Sports Academy Stadium... their 'home' ground. Which streak will continue?

Out of the four semi-finalists, three have played in IPL finals before. Definitely, at least one of the finalists will be carrying the experience from their past. But it will all count for nothing on 25th April. Looking forward to see who will lift the trophy - SRT, Jumbo, Gilly or MSD...

Sunday, April 18, 2010


The match between Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings has just concluded, with the two teams providing us exactly the kind of finish that I had mentioned in my previous blog. MS Dhoni finished the game off in style and ensured that CSK enters the semi-finals of IPL for the third consecutive year. In the process, he ended up playing what would now be described by most experts as a 'captain's knock'. They will now be hoping that they are third time lucky.

The supporters of Delhi Daredevils will be hoping the same... but they have to qualify for the semis first. Their quarter-final match against the in-form Deccan Chargers has just begun and the stage is set for Ferozeshah Kotla to host its most important match of the tournament.

Harsha Bhogle just mentioned that the best 4 teams should qualify for the semis, and that DD is amongst those four. He did admit that the DC camp would argue his statement, especially since their performance during the 2nd half of the tournament has been inspiring; but he felt that DD is a better side.

Harsha's words very much echo my thoughts. DD has lost its zip in the last few matches, but they are still the favourites tonight for me. There is an ulterior motive as well for supporting the Daredevils... their qualification in the semis will ensure that an Indian captain will lift the IPL trophy on the 25th April at the Dr. D.Y. Patil Sports Academy Stadium, Navi Mumbai.

The Deccan Chargers do not want to become the second successive defending champions to be knocked out of the tournament before the semis. Given their form coming into this game (4 wins on a trot), one wouldn't put it beyond them. But as long as I am concerned, my support is clear. Go on Delhi... I am looking forward to a DD - CSK second semi-final on the 22nd April at Navi Mumbai.


7 matches remain in the IPL 2010 - 3 in the league stage, 2 semi-finals, 1 3rd-place play-off and the Finals. Despite just 3 matches remaining in the league stage, the semi-final positions are unclear. Mathematically, just 1 team is secure and 2 teams are knocked out. All the rest of the 5 teams still stand a chance to take remaining 3 spots in the semis.

Last year, when IPL had moved to South Africa, there were many close finishes. Out of the 59 matches played, 24 had victory margins of 10 or less runs or 6 or less balls to spare. In this IPL so far, back in India, only 16 matches have had such results.

However, the lack of close finishes has been compensated by the fact that each finish has been complicating the points table more and more. The fact that three spots for the semis are still undecided bear ample testimony to this fact.

By the time the second match of the day ends, the picture will become a lot clearer. The results over the past couple of days have made the equation very easy of CSK - win against KXIP and enter the semis; or lose the match and head back home. DD and CSK are the two teams who have featured in the semis of both the earlier tournaments, but never gone on to win the tournament. CSK did reach the finals in 2008 and DD managed to top the tables in 2009, but neither will be satisfied.

All the teams know very well that once they reach the semi-finals, the past results count for nothing. As a result, the pressure in the semis will be on the table-toppers MI who will have to cap their dominance with two more victories. Otherwise, it will all count for nothing.

It is good that MI is most likely to face RCB in the semis and not CSK. A team like CSK would have been under a lot less pressure, because they were never the favourites to get there. RCB, on the other hand, will be under immense pressure themselves because they were meant to get there, but goofed up their campaign somehow to reach the semis with just inches to spare.

So, for now, lets just hope that the remaining 7 matches all have close finishes for an interesting week ahead.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Hello people, this is my 100th post! It definitely feels good! But then, I do know, there are miles to go... before I sleep!

Now, all good things in life are celebrated by worshipping God! And regular readers and visitors know who God is! I have posted a video below that I had made last year (before SRT completed his 20 years in cricket). I used clips from various other videos on Youtube, cut them, edited them, changed soundtracks, and did some other things to pay my tribute to the great man.

Since this video was made last year, it does not contain his recent heroics like th 200*, the IPL form, or the 4 hundreds in consecutive Tests. But it does contain Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar - and that should suffice.

I have planned to make another video that will contain his latest heroics - especially the 200* (147). Once that is ready, I will post it here as well as on Youtube (where all my other videos on SRT are also located).

I hope that just like SRT's career, my blogging continues and prospers for a long period of time...

Friday, April 16, 2010


Yesterday's match: Chennai Super Kings v Delhi Daredevils
My Prediction: Chennai Super Kings
Actual Winner: Delhi Daredevils

Today's Match: Kings XI Punjab v Deccan Chargers
My Prediction: Kings XI Punjab

My Score: 6 / 12

DD managed to scrap together a win yesterday against a buoyant CSK side to be almost certain of a place in the top-4. Gautam Gambhir must be relieved that none of his batsmen were run out in the match. It must be added here that the skipper Gambhir played a very mature hand after his top order had found new ways to commit hara kiri. I don't think he had ever imagined that he would bat 56 balls in a Twenty20 match and score just 57.

For the first time in this tournament, DD got the chance to go in with their first-choice new ball attack... and the effect was felt straightaway. Ashish Nehra and Dirk Nannes rattled the CSK batsmen and Hayden's mongoose-attack in their last meeting was soon forgotten.

This result does not make any difference to DC, though. They will still need to win both their remaining matches to qualify without getting into the run rate equations. And they would not want to rely on run rates, because their current NRR is -0.438.

I am neither a fan of DC, nor of KXIP. However, I am eagerly looking forward to the match tonight because IPL is moving to a new venue today.

DHARAMSALA. I have heard a lot about this cricket ground. The 21000-capacity HPCA Cricket Stadium is located at a height of 1457 metres above sea level and surrounded by Dhauladhar ranges, leaving the spectators with a breath taking view. The place is of immense religious value to Buddhists. Today, I want to see the scenic beauty for myself.

The high altitude might turn out to be a bit uncomfortable to the DC players who have, by now, become accustomed to the hot climate of places like Nagpur and Navi Mumbai. In fact, the next visitors to Dharamsala will be CSK, another team used to the hot and humid surroundings of Chennai. This should give a small advantage to KXIP, who have become adept at throwing away any advantage or momentum on their side.

So lets wait and watch out as IPL embarks on cricket's new pilgrimage!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Yesterday's match: Rajasthan Royals v Royal Challengers Bangalore
My Prediction: Royal Challengers Bangalore
Actual Winner: Royal Challengers Bangalore

Today's Match: Chennai Super Kings v Delhi Daredevils
My Prediction: Chennai Super Kings

My Score: 6 / 11

Kevin Pietersen smashed his way to a 29-ball 62 and has placed RCB in a very comfortable position in the fight for the semi-final spots. The talks of Kevin Pietersen being out of form when England was touring Bangladesh were things of the past... or atleast became things of past as KP started finding the middle of his bat.

I was a little disappointed with Shane Warne's tactics to KP yesterday. I feel he should have brought in Adam Voges to bowl as soon as Pietersen came in to bat. Some would say that 3rd over would be too early for someone like Voges, but then a target of 131 cannot be defended by conventional means either.

An introduction of left arm spin early in his innings would have put KP on his guard straight away. If Warne didn't have enough confidence in Voges, he could have come on himself... even he takes the ball away from a right-hander. By the time Voges was introduced in yesterday's match, KP had already moved on to a 13-ball 28 and then proceeded to smash 3 fours from the 5 balls that he faced from the slow left armer.

But in any case, even if KP had failed, a target of 131 would still have been too low for RR to successfully defend against a batting lineup as strong as that of RCB.

Today's match promises to be a good one. I like both teams... so I am confused which one to cheer for. DD have been running themselves out of the tournament and CSK is on a high after their thumping win in the last match. Since this is their last home match, CSK would want to round things off on a positive note. But then, Gautam Gambhir also wants to play more away games than home games. So, all in all, I am waiting for the clock to strike eight!


One of my friends asked me about what would happen if MI won the semi-final and ended up with slow over rate. MI has already committed such an offence twice. When KXIP committed this offence for the third time, their captain Kumar Sangakkara was banned for a match. If MI commit the offence for the third time in the semi-finals, will Sachin Tendulkar be banned from the finals? Or will there be an exception made because it is the finals or because he is Sachin Tendulkar?

Well, the answer is that I am not sure. I went to the official website of the IPL and checked out the ‘Code of Conduct for Players and Team Officials’ that is effective from 1st March 2010. Here are the regulations that relate to slow over rate:

Article 2.5: Minimum Over Rate Offences –

Failure by a fielding team participating in a Match to meet the Minimum Over Rate requirements contained in Appendix 2 constitutes an offence under this Code of Conduct by the relevant Team Captain and each of the Players in that fielding team.

Note: Subjective intent on behalf of the Team Captain to waste time is not required. It is sufficient to establish that the Minimum Over Rate was not met. To avoid liability under this offence the Team Captain would need to establish, on the balance of probabilities, that the shortfall was due to factors beyond his control and that the time allowances permitted by the Match officials in calculating the required over rate were not sufficient. The presence or absence of subjective intent and the extent of the shortfall shall be relevant in relation to the issue of penalty.

Note: Where a Minimum Over Rate Offence may have occurred, see Appendix 2 for the reporting process, disciplinary process and sanctions that are to be applied.

Appendix 2:

Article 4.2: For the purpose of Minimum Over Rate Offences only, the table at Article 7.3 of the Code of Conduct shall be replaced with the following:

       4.2.1: for the first offence by the Team in a Season the Captain of the bowling Team will be fined US$20,000;

       4.2.2: for the second offence in a Season by the same Team then the Captain will be fined US$40,000 and each Player the Team involved in the relevant Match will be fined US$10,000;

       4.2.3: for the third and each subsequent offence in a Season by the same Team the Captain will be fined US$50,000 and banned from playing in the Team’s next Match and each Player in the Team involved will be fined US$20,000.

The above extracts (and indeed the entire Code of Conduct document) do not mention anywhere that special considerations will be made in respect of the semi-finals or finals or in respect of Sachin Tendulkar!

So I think it would be safe to assume that if MI commit such an offence in the semi-finals, then Sachin Tendulkar ought to be banned from the finals.

But then that would be ridiculous! The final of the richest cricket tournament just cannot go ahead with the star attractions banned due to issues as trivial as slow over rates. I can understand bans due to misconduct or bringing the game to disrepute. But slow over rates? Give me a break!

At this point, I’ll draw a comparison to football. In a football tournament, if a player receives a yellow card, it is carried forward to the future matches. Another yellow card in the future match results in the player being suspended for the subsequent game. Now I don’t know about all football tournaments… but I do know that in tournaments like UEFA Champions League, the yellow card records of all the players are wiped out clean once the ‘Round Robin Stage’ ends and the tournament moves into the 'Knockout Round'.

This ensures that the best players are always available for the Knockout stages (unless they are injured, of course!) and as a result, the tournament sees better quality of football as well as attracts greater viewership. Given that IPL has picked up a lot of ideas from European Football Leagues, this one would not be a bad one either!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Yesterday's match 1: Mumbai Indians v Delhi Daredevils
My Prediction: Mumbai Indians
Actual Winner: Mumbai Indians

Yesterday's match 2: Chennai Super Kings v Kolkata Knight Riders
My Prediction: Chennai Super Kings
Actual Winner: Chennai Super Kings

Today's Match: Rajasthan Royals v Royal Challengers Bangalore
My Prediction: Royal Challengers Bangalore

My Score: 5 / 10

KKR is out of the tournament... three consecutive unsuccessful attempts to reach the semi-finals... the only team to not reach the semi-finals of IPL even once in three years! A hat-trick that they certainly did not want to achieve!

I feel sad for Sourav Ganguly - I have always liked his character and had a lot of respect for his fighting abilities. But I am happy that KKR is out - because I do not like Shah Rukh Khan! I hope that he buys all the players that I do not like for the next edition of the IPL - then I can dislike KKR without any guilt feelings!

Finally, KP (I mean Kieron Pollard) justified (to a certain extent) his high-profile bidding! His version of the scoop was baffling! I thought he was all about power... but that scoop just shook me up completely!

The Royals' battle today will be virtually the second successive knockout match in this tournament. Where the RR team will be looking forward to a nice home game, the RCB will be buoyed by the fact that the fortress is not looking as strong as it used to be.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Yesterday's match: Deccan Chargers v Royal Challengers Bangalore
My Prediction: Royal Challengers Bangalore
Actual Winner: Deccan Chargers

Today's match 1: Mumbai Indians v Delhi Daredevils
My Prediction: Mumbai Indians

Today's Match 2: Chennai Super Kings v Kolkata Knight Riders
My Prediction: Chennai Super Kings

My Score: 3 / 8

DC scored their third consecutive win in this competition and this one was also their third consecutive win over RCB - winning both their matches this season after the finals last year. Needless to say, this result makes the points table even tighter (if that could be possible) and just as everyone has predicted, teams with better NRR will have a big advantage going ahead.

Dale Steyn bowling was magnificent to watch. He has some kind of a love affair with the VCA Stadium (Jamtha), Nagpur. He got a 10-wicket haul for South Africa at the same stadium in a Test against India in February... and his spell today was a timely reminder to everyone that high-quality fast bowling can still work in this format... it's not all about slower balls and cutters! It was sad that he had to end up on the losing side.

Today's first match will see Virendra Sehwag return to the Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai for the first time after his whirlwind 293 against Sri Lanka. Even Viru has a love affair with venues that have anything to do with 'M'. Mumbai, Multan, Melbourne, Motera, MA Chidambaram Stadium, etc.

With MI already in the semis, it will be interesting to see if they rest any of their key men. DD is in a desperate search of a win and Gambhir has his wish of playing an away game. A win for DD would more or less confirm them in the semis as well - because of their NRR. But MI would not want to lose their momentum.

The second match between CSK and KKR is a virtual knock-out match (even though both teams will still be in with a chance after losing). CSK look a lot better side... and KKR seem to be struggling with their combinations and belief to win.

What a pity that the two matches that deserved a weekend scheduling are going to be played on a Tuesday!

Monday, April 12, 2010


Australians have always been famous for their lip service methods... and Shane Watson showed a small example of it yesterday in the Rajasthan Royals v Mumbai Indians match yesterday.

I had written a blog regarding the unruly behaviour of Australians after the Scott Styris - Mitchell Johnson incident last month. I wouldn't go so far to call Shane Watson's behaviour unruly this time, but it was certainly not sporting.

At some point during the telecast of the match yesterday, the points tally of the Fair Play Award came up. It showed that Rajasthan Royals were languishing at the 7th position. At that time, one of the commentators said that it might be because of Shane Warne and Shane Watson. And he wasn't far off the mark!

Shane Warne is a master at mind games - both subtle as well as brutal. His continuous emphasis on RR's 'home' record and 'fortress' comments have been seen by many as comments to intimidate the opponents before the match begins. Shane Watson, who has been booked even in the past, showed off his aggro once again yesterday. He got the wickets of Ambati Rayudu and Saurabh Tiwary by setting them up - not with his bowling - but with his eyes and lips.

Rayudu played a firm push down the ground. Watson fielded the ball, stared with fire right into the batsman's eyes, turned back, bowled a well-directed bouncer, got the glove and got his man. I have no issues with that. So lets fast forward a bit.

In his next over, Watson, in his follow-through, serves a few words to Saurabh Tiwary, who had looked good in his short stay at the crease. He again dug one in short, Tiwary went for a pull, could not connect well, and ended up sending a simple catch to wide fine leg. Watson then celebrated by pumping his fists right in front of the batsman, who had no choice but to depart. That is where I have problem.

A celebration of that sort is very unfitting of a sportsman, and this is not the first time Watson has done it (ask Chris Gayle for more information). When you have a batsman out, you have won a battle... you don't need to rub it in to prove it. Watson's tendency to rub it in gives me a feeling that he is insecure and uncertain of his own talents... that is why he needs to show the batsman that he has won the battle even after the result is clear. That's not what Shane Warne does! In fact, Warne's most typical method of celebrating is one of the best I have seen in the game.

He srceams with joy, pumps his fists, congratulates himself, and if the battle with the batsman had been a tough one, he smiles at the departing batsman in an acknowledgement of the same. This shows that he is ready for another battle with the batsman, unlike Watson, who gets over the top.

But despite all of Watson's antics, one has to ask Rayudu and Tiwary about what they were thinking in attempting those strokes. Yes, they had been instigated. But did they not realise it then that Watson wanted those very strokes from them? This is what separates boys from men! They don't have to look too far for examples. They must have noticed by now that no bowler tries to work Sachin Tendulkar up even if he is beaten by a 'jaffer'. That is because Sachin responds very positively to such non-cricketing tactics, unlike what Rayudu and Tiwary managed yesterday.

These young men will have more chances to prove that they have learnt from this incident, and they will need to prove a point. In the Chennai Test against England in December 2008, Yuvraj Singh was softened up by Andrew Flintoff using a few choice words. Yuvraj proceeded to throw his wicket away next over by edging straight to slip (yes, it was Freddie in the slips)!

In the next innings, with India chasing 387 for a win, match nicely set up and hanging in balance, and the pitch a little crumbly, it was time to Yuvraj to show his mettle. Freddie was there again with a few words... but Sachin helped Yuvraj distract himself from that battle and concentrate on the game. Eventually, Yuvraj played a crucial role in helping India reach that target and most were very impressed by that performance.

If Rayudu or Tiwary manage something like that, it will be a great confidence booster for them just as it will be great for the Indian team. I really wish to see that happen!


Yesterday's match 1: Delhi Daredevils v Kings XI Punjab
My Prediction: Delhi Daredevils
Actual Winner: Kings XI Punjab

Yesterday's match 2: Rajasthan Royals v Mumbai Indians
My Prediction: Rajasthan Royals
Actual Winner: Mumbai Indians

Today's Match: Deccan Chargers v Royal Challengers Bangalore
My Prediction: Royal Challengers Bangalore

My Score: 3 / 7

Yesterday's matches were very bad for my predictions, but it does not matter one bit. MI is through to the semi-finals and I am delighted! RR have lost for the first time at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur - and its Warne's old pal SRT who inflicted the first crack at the fortress!

Yes, I felt a little bad for DD - a team that I like. But despite this defeat (an embarassing one), they are almost certain to go through. KXIP did them a favour by taking their own sweet time in chasing down a paltry target of 112. It ensured that the Net Run Rate of DD does not take a big dip.

But it was the second match yesterday that stole the show for me! It was a perfect match for a Mumbai Indians supporter! A win at Jaipur against RR, who had not lost a single match there, was special. It was almost like Manchester United beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge!

Another batting masterclass by SRT (he tripled his tally of tournament sixes yesterday) ensured that he wore the Orange Cap in the second half. If orange caps were to be awarded for international runs tally, then that cap would never leave his head! His three boundaries off Warne's over were delightful to watch. The first one over extra cover was the best - his use of the wrists to control the direction showcased the artist at work!

And by the end of his innings, he was reading the bowlers like an open book, especially Shane Watson. Twice in the 19th over by Shane Watson, Sachin was waiting on the backfoot for what he knew was going to be a bouncer - and he was absolutely correct! Aditya Dole, you do not drop Sachin Tendulkar EVER!

The DC v RCB game today would be an interesting one with respect to the race for the semi-final berths. A week ago, I was thinking that 4 teams are fighting over 1 semi-final berth. Then, mid-week, it became a case of 5 teams for 2 berths. And now, with DD's loss yesterday, it has become a case of 6 teams for 3 berths. It couldn't have gotten any better!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Yesterday's match 1: Deccan Chargers v Chennai Super Kings
My Prediction: Deccan Chargers
Actual Winner: Deccan Chargers

Yesterday's match 2: Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kolkata Knight Riders
My Prediction: Royal Challengers Bangalore
Actual Winner: Royal Challengers Bangalore

Today's Match 1: Delhi Daredevils v Kings XI Punjab
My Prediction: Delhi Daredevils

Today's Match 2: Rajasthan Royals v Mumbai Indians
My Prediction: Rajasthan Royals

My Score: 3 / 5.

Yesterday, just before the toss before the 2nd match, Sourav Ganguly was asked what was his side's track record on that ground (M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, Bangalore). He said: "Played one, won one."

So I tried to recall what had happenned in 2008 between RCB and KKR at Bangalore. And then I realised - the first ever IPL match - the Brendon McCullum 150 - the 140 run thrashing of a "Test" team.

The tables have turned completely. RCB is no more a "Test" team. KKR has forgotten what it is like to win comprehensively. And RCB is more likely to finish 2nd from top in the points table - rather than 2nd from bottom.

With his dismissal yesterday, McCullum now has an IPL average at Bangalore - an average of 203. But he could do nothing this time to help KKR win, which puts them in a precarious position in respect of the semi-final qualification spot.

The second match today will be of great importance for the semi-final race. A win for MI will seal their place and virtually oust RR. On the other hand, a win for RR will not only help them take a huge step ahead, but also cause a lot of anxiety in the MI camp.

Even though I am a supporter of MI, I have predicted a RR win today because of the fact that they have never lost a single match in Jaipur. They have a brilliant record on that ground - and seem to be peaking at this moment.

Still, I will keep hoping that by the end of this day, one semi-final spot will be taken up.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Yesterday's match: Kings XI Punjab v Mumbai Indians
My Prediction: Mumbai Indians
Actual Winner: Kings XI Punjab

Today's Match 1: Deccan Chargers v Chennai Super Kings
My Prediction: Deccan Chargers

Today's Match 2: Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kolkata Knight Riders
My Prediction: Royal Challengers Bangalore

MI has gotten into a losing streak (I know it's only two in a row now, but their next match is against RR at Jaipur - and RR has NEVER lost a match at Jaipur). Yesterday's result is not going to affect the table in any way, but KXIP has issued a warning to all their remaining opponents that they are going to try and upset a few parties.

The afternoon match today between DC and CSK will be played at Nagpur. Who the hell plays in the afternoon at Nagpur? Its 41 degree celcius and DRY out there. It is the most dry part of India and the 'hot winds' that blow in the afternoon over there (called 'Loo Winds') can really knock you out. All I can say is best luck to DC and CSK boys!

I hope Lalit Modi sees this match and realises that the attendance is 'very poor' at the neutral-Nagpur. It might be one of the best grounds in the country with great facilities, but it is very poorly located. It is far away from the city of Nagpur and takes a long time to reach there. Add to that the fact that it is hosting home matches for DC, who do not have a single big Indian star in their ranks. I mean, for God's sake, the Nagpur crowd is not going to come out in this kind of heat to watch a neutral game and support the likes of Rohit Sharma and RP Singh.

RCB and KKR will have much better and 'playable' conditions later in the evening at Bangalore. Both teams need wins for varying reasons - RCB to arrest their loss of momentum and KKR to take another step towards the semis. If KKR manage a win, RCB will truly need to worry about their semi-final spot. Kevin Pietersen must be wondering why his presence affects the RCB squad's performance so adversely!

Friday, April 9, 2010


Yesterday's match: Royal Challengers Bangalore v Deccan Chargers
My Prediction: Deccan Chargers
Actual Winner: Deccan Chargers

Today's Match: Kings XI Punjab v Mumbai Indians
My Prediction: Mumbai Indians

So finally, after a long time, my prediction has come true! And I hope that tonight's will come true as well!

I hope Zaheer is fit and well-rested... I am not worried about him missing more matches for MI, but I want him fit for the World Twenty20 Championship. He is India's best pace bowler today by quite a distance... and he's not featured in either of the two World Twenty20 Championships that have been held till date.

Mohali will provide much better playing conditions that Chennai (in respect of weather)... so I am positively hoping for a big performance from SRT today! Incidentally, Sachin has hit just 1 six at Mohali in international matches - way back on 8th November 2007 against Shahid Afridi (Pakistan) in an innings where he was dismissed for 99! I'd love to see a similar performance tonight.

Some people are waiting for the Sachin Tendulkar v Brett Lee contest, but I am actually waiting to see the Sangakkara - Jayawardene v Lasith Malinga contest. Not so long back, another magician from the Emerald Isles - Muttiah Muralitharan - got the better of his countrymen when KXIP played CSK. Will the slinger-Malinga manage the same?

And yes, by the way, RCB's loss yesterday has thrown open the entire IPL table. Whereas just a week ago, 4 teams were fighting for 1 semi-final slot, now it has become 5 teams fighting over 2 slots. RCB's momentum has gone for a toss... and there have been numerous question marks from every quarter over their team selection policies.

They are due to host KKR tomorrow, who have suddenly found a new energy (especially, their skipper Sourav 'Dada' Ganguly). That match, I believe, will be a lot more interesting than tonight's fixture... but then, God's team will be playing tonight!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I know that the table above looks gibberish... but then I like doing gibberish stuff! The top row lists the home teams and the results of their matches against the corresponding away teams are given below their names. A home win is indicated by green colour and an away win by red colour.

And just to make it more colourful, yellow indicates the matches that are due to be played on the given dates, and blue indicates the matches that are not possible (I mean, Mumbai Indians cannot play against Mumbai Indians, come on!).

A few things came to my notice due to the abundance of colour usage. Firstly, I had not realised that KXIP is yet to win a home game (though it's certainly not surprising). Secondly, I was under the impression that only MI has lost just 1 match at home. Now I have realised that even RCB and RR have lost only 1 at home thus far (though they still have 3 and 2 home matches remaining, as compared to  MI's 1 home match).

And another piece of information that is not visible from the above table, but just for fun: both of DC's home wins have been at Cuttack. Nagpur and Navi Mumbai, their other two 'homes', have not yielded positive results. The wins at Cuttack were the first wins that DC have registered in their 'catchment' area. They lost all the 7 matches in IPL 2008 at Hyderabad, and then went on to lost 2 matches in Champions League 2009 at the same venue again. Maybe, they should look to shift their franchise's base.


Yesterday's match: Kolkata Knight Riders v Delhi Daredevils
My Prediction: Delhi Daredevils
Actual Winner: Kolkata Knight Riders

Today's Match: Royal Challengers Bangalore v Deccan Chargers
My Prediction: Deccan Chargers

I hope atleast today my prediction will hold correct. And hopefully, it will be Andrew Symonds who clicks today. He is my trump player in the Cricinfo Fantasy game today.

By the way, if you haven't noticed, this is the first time RCB and DC will take on each other after last year's IPL finals. They haven't met in this IPL yet (this is the only battle that is yet to be played out).

DC have lost 5 in a row, and even RCB have lost a bit of momentum due to their tinkering with the squad. It will be interesting to see which four foreigners feature in both the squads today. I am also hoping for inclusion of Manish Pandey for the simple reason that he deserves the opportunities.

It is an irony that the last time these two teams met, both were in red hot form... and now, they are desperately seeking some momentum. If DC lose today, they will virtually be out of the tournament - and will continue the tradition of defending champs unable to reach the semis.

In the last year's finals, Anil Kumble brought himself on to bowl the first over and got Gilchrist out for a second-ball duck. I am waiting to see this battle again!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Have a look at this - the IPL Points Table. The RR - KXIP clash has just gotten over, with the home side continuing their golden 'home' run at Jaipur - streamrolling KXIP by 9 wickets with 5 overs to spare.

Now, I just thought of stepping into the shoes of Nostradamus and find out who will win this IPL. So, there you go:

Apr 07 - KKR v DD
Apr 08 - RCB v DC
Apr 09 - KXIP v MI
Apr 10 - DC v CSK
Apr 10 - RCB v KKR
Apr 11 - DD v KXIP
Apr 11 - RR v MI
Apr 12 - DC v RCB
Apr 13 - MI v DD
Apr 13 - CSK v KKR
Apr 14 - RR v RCB
Apr 15 - CSK v DD
Apr 16 - KXIP v DC
Apr 17 - RCB v MI
Apr 17 - KKR v RR
Apr 18 - KXIP v CSK
Apr 18 - DD v DC
Apr 19 - KKR v MI

The top-4 will then look like this: 1. MI - 22 points; 2. DD - 18 points; 3. RCB - 16 points; 4. CSK - 16 points. So the semi-final fixtures will be:

Apr 21 - 1st Semi Final - MI v CSK
Apr 22 - 2nd Semi Final - DD v RCB

Apr 24 - 3rd Place Playoff - RCB v CSK
Apr 25 - Finals - Mumbai Indians v Delhi Daredevils

So there you go... Mumbai Indians will win the IPL this year (something I have been saying every year). But c'mon, what a final this would be! The biggest domestic rivalry in India reignited at a bigger stage! Awesome!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Tonight’s encounter at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium promises to be a mouth-watering clash. An in-form Chennai Super Kings side takes on the best team of the tournament so far, Mumbai Indians.

But then, even the last match at Ferozeshah Kotla, New Delhi – between Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers Bangalore – had promised a lot. In the end, it turned out to be pretty easy win for the hosts. I have a feeling that the CSK v MI match will be a better contest because I don’t expect MS Dhoni or Sachin Tendulkar to make any selection error like the one made by Anil Kumble at Kotla.

Last time when these two teams met, Suresh Raina played a brilliant knock, well-supported by S Badrinath. MI’s bowling, after grabbing the 2 early wickets, looked toothless (for once in the tournament). However, MI’s batting, led by the Master, chased down a seemingly daunting target of 181 with consummate ease. Sachin Tendulkar has hit only 1 six in this tournament thus far, and it came in that particular match against Muttiah Muralitharan when he danced down the track and deposited the wily Lankan over long-on boundary.

The hosts have a much better look to their squad now with the addition of Doug Bollinger. His much-talked-about ability to hurry on to the batsmen caused a lot of discomfort to the RR batsmen, and effectively won the match for CSK. I don’t know if MS Dhoni has thought about dropping Matthew Hayden. Apart from that one blistering innings with the Mongoose, he has not contributed a lot at the top. Hayden can be replaced by Mike Hussey, who is also an exceptional fielder – certainly much better than Hayden in the field. Hayden’s absence from the team might even help in dousing the competitive spirit of Harbhajan Singh, who just loves competing against this and few other particular Aussies.

The visitors, on the other hand, have a very settled look to their squad. They have always found someone who raised his hand up during sticky situations and got them out of it. The youngsters have fired well, and the bowling attack is one of the best in this tournament. However, CSK will be buoyed by the fact that MI has looked fallible in the last few matches. That they have managed to come out on top of such situations is a different matter altogether.

Chepauk, the stadium as well as the crowd, has always been kind to Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh. But then, Twenty20 is a completely different cup of tea. The motivation is a lot more for the hosts, who not only want to enter the top-4 once again, but also seek revenge for their defeat at Brabourne Stadium. But then, once SRT has the bat in his hands, he does not need to search anywhere for motivation. It’s there within.


Yesterday's match between the teams led by the retired-Aussie captains was perhaps, by far, the best match of tournament thus far. It's ironic that it came in a 6th place v 7th place clash rather than a top-3 clash.

Both the teams yesterday, RR first and then DC, were dismissed in 19.5 overs. The fact that 20 wickets fell seems to suggest that the pitch must have been a good one for bowling as well. It is obvious that in a Twenty20 match, most wickets fall due to batsmen's errors rather than the bowlers' ability.

But yesterday, the bowlers enjoyed too. There was turn for Warne, the bouncers were used well by the quickies, and yet the average run rate for the match was almost 8 per over. The fact that the game went down to the wire - a victory margin of 2 runs - made it a perfect Twenty20 game for me.

A word on Rohit Sharma now. A lot has been written about the performance of the 40-year old SK Warne. Now, lets spare a thought for the 22-year old RG Sharma.

He played a fantastic innings yesterday - the lone fighting hand with wickets falling continuously at the other end. This boy was under pressure because voices everywhere felt that he did not deserve the chance to represent India in the World Twenty20 Championship coming up. He needed to make his bat prove a point.

He started a little rusty and there was a top-edge that was misjudged by mid-off running backwards. He was again lucky at the end when I was convinced that he was run out, and not Harmeet Singh, in the last over. Despite all this, he got a chance right at the end to see his team through to a win - 3 runs in 2 balls with 1 wicket to spare.

At this stage, a little more maturity or experience would have certainly helped. Rohit played one in the air and was promptly caught. When he had 2 balls, why did he want to finish it in 1? With the situation at 3 runs from 2 balls, I was convinced that he would go for a couple first. Nagpur has a big ground, and scoring 2s there is just as easy as scoring a single. There were plenty of gaps in the field. Infact, there were huge gaps on either side of the fielder who caught him at sweeper cover. If he could have gotten the equation down to 1 from 1, he could have gone for a aerial shot as the field would have been up.

I hope Rohit learns from this... because he has the ability and the talent to become a good finisher for Team India. And finishers finish with a win! He has two more 'home' matches with Deccan Chargers at Nagpur, his birth place. He will not find a better place to prove his worth and to prove that he deserves his ticket to the Caribbean islands.

Monday, April 5, 2010


The pitch at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai intrigues me. A total of 1413 runs have been scored so far in 158.5 overs at 8.90 runs per over. An average innings score at Chepauk, so far in the 4 matches played there, has been 177, but the interesting bit is the fact that it has a standard deviation of 37, giving a coefficient of variaton of 21.20.

The corresponding numbers for other venues are:

Venue - Matches - Average Score - Std. Deviation - Coefficient of Variation

Navi Mumbai - 2 - 153.50 - 15.14 - 9.86
Mumbai - 6 - 168.17 - 25.12 - 14.94
Mohali - 4 - 164.38 - 18.58 - 11.30
Kolkata - 4 - 160.75 - 31.22 - 19.42
Chennai - 4 - 176.63 - 37.44 - 21.20
Ahmedabad - 4 - 152.63 - 13.71 - 8.98
Bangalore - 4 - 155.88 - 41.94 - 26.91
New Delhi - 5 - 166.70 - 31.48 - 18.88
Cuttack - 2 - 166.50 - 4.15 - 2.49

From the above figures, Chennai and Bangalore seem to have the most unpredictable pitches. However, Bangalore's figures are distorted due to the match in which the RCB blew away RR for 92 and chased the target without the fall of any wicket. If I were to remove that match, the numbers for Bangalore become 177.00 - 23.67 - 13.37.

As a result, Chennai becomes the only ground to have a Coefficient of Variation of above 20. It's clear why Chennai shows such numbers. On one hand, a chase of 136 results in a tie; and on the other hand, 469 runs are scored in another match.

So for the next 3 matches that Chennai will play host to, the captains (particularly of teams batting first) will have to be careful in their assessment of a decent first innings total. It might turn out to be a tricky puzzle to crack!


A huge Galye hit the Kings XI Punjab side at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata before Mahela Jayawardene applied a soothing balm to heal the wounds and bruises.

That innings by Jayawardene was not only soothing for the Kings XI side, but also to the eyes of many who, like me, are a little tired of all the slogs and mishits that have been carrying all the way for *** Maximums and being called **** Moments of Success instead of becoming ******* Kamaal Catches.

And thus, IPL III saw another game (two in as many days) where more than 400 runs were scored. This match has given another jolt to KKR in their quest for a semi-final spot. If they do not reach the semi-final this year, they will be the only one amongst the 8 original teams not to have reached the semi-finals ever when they start their campaign next year (I have obviously made a very safe assumption that Mumbai Indians will make it to the final-4 this year).

In the second match, Delhi Daredevils blew away the Royal Challengers Bangalore side. I think that Anil Kumble made a huge mistake by making 3 changes to a winning squad in order to accomodate Ross Taylor. There is no doubt that Ross Taylor is a very good cricketer, but was including him in the squad so important that 3 other players had to be dropped?

By dropping Manish Pandey, Kumble broke a solid opening partnership that has been one of the reasons behind RCB's good performances this summer. By removing Dale Steyn, he not only excluded from his squad the best fast bowler in the world, but also one who has been bowling in the Indian conditions for two months now and has his lengths well-adjusted. If he really wanted to go for Ross Taylor, he should have just dropped Cameron White.

But yes, if you have read my previous blog, you will know that RCB has continued its tradition of losing matches held on Formula One Sundays. Dr. Mallya did all the travelling from Sepang to Kotla in vain.

Today, Nagpur will host its first ever IPL match between Deccan Chargers and Rajasthan Royals, where a loss for the former ('home' team) will almost be curtains for them in the tournament.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


A flight from Kuala Lumpur to New Delhi takes about five and a half hours. Dr. Vijay Mallya said in his interview during the last match that he will reach New Delhi to catch RCB's match against DD.

The Formula One race at Sepang starts at 1330 IST. Considering that the race will take about 2 hours, and another half an hour for Dr. Mallya to take his leave and reach the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (just 10 mins from Sepang race circuit), he will not be able to leave before 1600 hrs. That means he will reach New Delhi only by 2130 hrs IST and reach the Kotla some time after that, maybe when the match is in its finishing stages.

But why am I trying to decipher Dr. Mallya's schedule? A very stupid reason, actually! The only other time that RCB played a match this season on a Formula One weekend (their first match against KKR), they lost it. When, they won the next few matches on a trot, I thought at that time that maybe, Dr. Mallaya is the lucky charm for the RCB side. His presence in the stadium inspired an RCB win.

Yes, RCB has lost two other matches after that, which were not held on Formula One weekends! But after 2008 season, RCB has not won a single match that was played on a Formula One Sunday. They lost 3 matches in South Africa 2009 that were held on the same Sundays as the Bahrain, Spanish and Monaco Grand Prix (the last one was the IPL 2009 Finals). They have already lost the match held on the day of this year's Bahrain Grand Prix.

So I have my prediction ready for the result of today's DD v RCB match to be held on the Malaysian Grand Prix Sunday: a win for Delhi Daredevils.

Apart from the very stupid reason stated above, I also feel that Viru is going to click today. Somehow, I also feel that RCB's bowling attack will be exactly what Viru will want in his search for a good form. Praveen Kumar and R Vinay Kumar, though extremely intelligent bowlers, might just provide Viru with the pace and length he would like to feed on. And apart from the bouncers from Steyn and Kallis, I do not feel much else will be a problem for him. He should be able to manage Anil Kumble as long as he keeps his cool.

Lets wait and see... we'll know by 11.30 pm tonight if Dr. Vijay Mallya is indeed RCB's lucky mascot!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


The chef in the Chennai Super Kings team has been adding a secret ingredient in Murali Vijay's dosas over the past few days. How else do you explain 11 sixes from his blade, 5 of them against the Aussie trio of Tait, Warne and Watson? If not the dosa, it must have been the sambhar then!

A 56-ball 127 from Vijay - the only bowler to go for less than 12 an over against him was Shane Warne. 469 runs in 40 overs bowled at Chepauk - and the irony is that I thought that it would be a slightly slow pitch. I couldn't have read it any worse!

Morkel was good... long time since we saw him playing the way he did today. His sixes are very pleasing to the eyes - they are clean and he is a leftie. And spare a thought for Naman Ojha. He has been performing consistently, was a part of the list of 30 probables squad of India for World Twenty20 Championship, and has been quietly strengthening his CV. He really deserved a century today... but its good he did not get it. I really want youngsters like him to get their milestones like 1st century or 1st 5-wicket haul in a winning cause.

But the star of the day, other than Vijay obviously, was Doug Bollinger. Flying in from the southern hemisphere just 24 hours ago, he was up and running on the field, conceding just 3.75 runs per over in a match where the average run rate was 11.725 runs per over (more than 3 times Dougie's rate). Add to that the catch-hop-skip-jump-catch-again catch he took of Yusuf Pathan, and he virtually sealed the deal for his new yellow jersey.

And the final note on the next match: Mumbai Indians v Deccan Chargers at Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai. MI is batting first after winning the toss. I hope SRT gets his 50-odd runs for the orange cap... so that atleast we will get to see him wearing the orange while playing, and not just during the presentation ceremony.


The third edition of IPL is remarkably similar to the first two. By the midway stage, the most likely wooden spooners have been discovered. And guess what, there are controversies in these squads.

2008 - Deccan Chargers, arguably the strongest side on paper, was in shambles at the midway stage in the inaugural IPL. Their performances on the field were just not coming good... and to top it all, there were problems with VVS Laxman's captaincy. Eventually, Adam Gilchrist took over the captaincy as Laxman sat out due to an injury.

2009 - Kolkata Knight Riders was the team in the news everytime... for all the wrong reasons. John Buchanan and his multiple-captain-theory, handing over the captaincy to Brendon McCullum (who isn't even a regular international captain), Fake IPL Player blogging controversy, a coaching squad almost as large as the actual playing staff, and then losing a One Over Eliminator... oh well, one could write an entire book on KKR's African odyssey.

2010 - And this year, with another captain versus star local player controversy, the bottom-placed team is Kings XI Punjab. 1 win in 8 games - that too by way of a One Over Eliminator - is a sorry state of affair. The news floating about rifts within the team, Yuvraj's mother coming out to defend her son, Sangakkara banned for slow over rates... and the dimples have vanished from Preity's face!

KXIP just seem to be lacking the confidence to finish off a game. Just when they hold a slight edge, somehow someone contrives just enough to lose the plot. A 25-run over, a wide down the legside running to the fence, a dropped catch kicked away for a four, a fumble in the deep... the team just seems to be lacking the ability to deliver the killer punch. It seems amazing now that they managed to win that Super Over! May be, Chennai Super Kings did manage to lose it!

Its very clear now - all that KXIP can play for now is to avoid the wooden spoon. Even that seems extremely unlikely in the given scenario!

Friday, April 2, 2010


The 'revenge' matches have begun. All teams have played each other once in the season... and its now time for the visitors to play hosts and for the losers to seek revenge.

MI are topping the table comforrtably... if they continue this way, the question to be asked is - will they be like the RR of 2008 or DD of 2009? In 2008, RR were the comfortable table-toppers and went on to win the inaugural IPL. In 2009, DD topped the tables, but could not even manage a place in the finals.

Maybe MI will set a new precedent by topping the table, reaching the finals, and then losing it. No way! It would only be fitting that the first Indian to lift the IPL aloft as a winning captain be Sachin Tendulkar.

I am not talking in terms of captaincy record (Ganguly will deserve it more, if that's the case). I am talking about the man that SRT is in Indian cricket... or the God! His captaincy has been so very refreshing to watch this season. It's almost as if he wants to ensure that he ties all the loose ends up before he retires from cricket.

That is why, over the last 2 years, we have seen from SRT those very things that his critics claimed he was incapable of doing. In early 2008, he scored 208 runs (including 1 unbeaten century in a chase) against Australia in the 2 finals of the CB Series. Later that year, he scored an unbeaten century in a successful fourth innings chase (5th highest ever then) on a 5th day Chennai track against England in a match that was much more than just about the 22 players on the field. In 2009, he played his role in helping India reach the No. 1 spot in ICC ODI Rankings, which could not be maintained. So he made up for it by playing his part in making India reach the No. 1 spot in ICC Test Rankings, and continue holding it till date. Then on 24th February this year, he scored an ODI 200 - the first in 2962 ODIs played by men.

And now... using the platform of IPL, he is seeking to erase the question marks that have always been see over his captaincy record. That he is an astute thinker of the game, no one can deny! However, in his captaincy stints, he was unable to inspire his team to reach dizzying heights or do the unthinkable. So after resigning as an international captain, and a decade more in cricket, he has certainly learnt something... and he is putting it to good use.

Harsha Bhogle talks at Cricinfo in his article about how he has trusted his youngsters over the international stars. He talks about how he has infused confidence in the likes of Saurabh Tiwary, Ambati Rayudu and Rajagopal Satish. He talks about how SRT himself has led from he front. He talks about the selection of Ryan McLaren, which has given him a great number of bowling options.

However, he misses out on the fact that he has taken a very hard decision this summer - dropping Sanath Jaisuriya. Even when not in the best form, SRT has always trusted the skills and abilities of the man from Matara, but he has dropped him for the balance of this side. And it's paying dividends already - in the form of Shikhar Dhawan.

So well, there you go... this is SRT! The man (sorry, God!) just wants to keep on rewriting the history again and again and again.