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Showing posts from 2015

Avoidable Magnification of Home Advantage?

‘No undue home advantage’ is how Virat Kohli shrugged off criticism with regard to the track at Nagpur in a match which India wrapped in under 3 days. South Africa’s 9-year, 15-test series long unbeaten streak was broken and it also marked a wonderful start to Kohli’s stint as the test team captain on home soil with a series win against the top-ranked test side. Ashwin who ended up match figures of 46-13-98-12 backed his skipper asking, ‘what's the problem with spin and bounce?..It is about skill for batsmen to play it and counter it’. Team director Ravi Shastri added, ‘Nothing wrong with the pitches..I have no qualms about it’. When a cricket match is over and players are questioned more about something other than individual/team accomplishments, you know the events through the course of the match have entered a contentious territory.
In an era of sheer batting domination the success of bowlers from either camp should have been a cause of joy for a cricket fan but instead has comm…

Satisfactory Grades In A Tough Examination!

The googly from Amit Mishra on the last delivery of the 85th over of Sri Lanka’s second innings overwhelmed the number 11 batsman Nuwan Pradeep and sealed a famous, rare series win for India in the island nation. Celebrations, accolades followed and a sense of satisfaction settled on the contemplation of India’s away tours’ log-book for the last two seasons (Oct 2013-Sep 2015). India travelled to 6 test-playing nations within ~21 months, played 17 matches, won only 3 but ticked a lot of boxes affirmatively.
Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli, Rohit, Rahane, Dhoni were India’s top 7 in the first test against South Africa in Johannesburg in December 2013; Rahul, Pujara, Rahane, Kohli, Rohit, Binny, Naman Ojha formed the top 7 in the latest test at Colombo versus Sri Lanka. Ashwin, Zaheer, Ishant, Shami were the frontline bowlers then and Ashwin, Mishra, Ishant, Umesh in the recently concluded test. Dhoni retired (from tests) in that phase, likes of Gambhir & more recently Harbhajan were g…

Turning Fortunes On Away Soil!

The day started with the prospect of a famous away win on Independence Day but ended with the team imploding to its 6th test loss since the win at Lord’s last year, something which could well feature in the list of India’s most disappointing losses. With 153 needed at the beginning of day 4, the morning session was to decide the fate of either side and it appeared it to be India’s game to lose despite having to chase that in-between total. By the time the teams broke for lunch India had lost 6 wickets for 55 runs; the win was nothing but sealed for Sri Lanka and India was left to ponder over an alternate approach in the run-chase. The formalities were completed within an hour from lunch with Sri Lanka securing a 63-run win.
As anticipated, Sri Lanka entrusted its spinners in the quest to defend a modest target of 176. The duo of Herath & Kaushal delivered with combined figures of 38.5-7-95-10 out of the overall figures of 49.5-12-112-10. While the reviews of this match would hail C…

Challenges for Virat Kohli-The Test Team Captain!

A loss & a draw marked Virat Kohli’s first two tests as the captain of the Indian team. Characteristic attributes of India’s leadership on foreign soil like reactive decision-making, defensive field placements, safety-first approach didn’t quite find an association with Kohli’s captaincy in that brief phase. The debut test in this regard included an hundred from him in both the innings, while the following test as the designated captain of the test team featured a magnificent ton in the first innings and a significant rearguard knock to salvage a draw. A win wasn’t achieved but the brand was refreshing as much as effective, and there was something more than just the difference in the exuberance of a 26-year & 33-test old against the wisdom of a 33-year & 90-test old experienced player.
The absence of captaincy baggage permitted him to flaunt his free spirited mind by picking Karn Sharma ahead of Ashwin at Adelaide, and chancing a run-chase on day 5 of the test when most vis…

5 Possible Add-Ons To The Indian Premier League!

Another fresh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is underway and like always it has quietly occupied the viewership space. The format and its timing clicks, so does quality of cricket and the concoction keeps onlookers engaged through the course of the tournament. The audience is always looking forward to the innovation in terms of organization, broadcast & sponsor features, which keeps respective entities busy with R&D. Here are 5 things which the IPL can live with and probably help it grow further!

Time For Parity Between Bat & Ball!

The success of World Cup 2015 has fostered the resurgence of the 50-overs format in addition to the World Cup of 2011 and the Champions Trophy in 2013 in the recent years. The tournament was decorated with sparkling batting knocks, dominative bowling spells, low-scoring thrillers, a tantalising semi-final and the top teams showcasing their A-game, albeit in patches. The quadrennial event often signifies different things to different players and teams, and the performances therein provide basis to project the progress of the format till the succeeding edition. Likewise, the big talking point rendered during this edition of the marquee competition is the growing clout of bat in a contest between wood and leather!
Many expected the bloom of T20 cricket to drastically alter the way 50-over cricket would be played, if not make it redundant completely. While it would be an interesting analytical breakdown in understanding the contribution of shortest format of the game in recent years, the d…

Eventful Beginning for the CWC 2015!

An individual double hundred, a 7-for, a 400+ team total, associate teams rising on the big stage and passionately followed rivalries; the first fortnight of the World Cup of 2015 has probably had it all, and quite emphatically! New Zealand (expectedly) and India have maintained a clean slate, South Africa is getting into its groove gradually, Australia’s engine has had a cold start but assuring a better second half,  West Indies has been characteristically mercurial and although Sri Lanka appeared wobbly at the beginning, expect them to smoothen given their big tournament reputation. Pakistan is yet to open its account and alongwith England they are placed gingerly in respective tables owing to lower ranked teams pushing hard for a quarter-final berth. The obvious quarter-final line-ups of the WC previews don’t seem all that straightforward any longer!
Cricket is supposed to be a batsmen’s game and in the limited-overs formats even more, yet we have had 12 spells claiming 4(or more) w…

The Pre-Tournament Dream Team!

The buzz around the quadrennial carnival is quietly building-up. Teams are busy figuring out respective preferred elevens, legends of the past are sharing their success mantra, analysts are forecasting possible winners and fans are engaging in all such peripheral activities. One such routine exercise is evoking memories from the past to form an all-time great World Cup XI side; and after an edition concludes, the best players are drafted into a dream team of performers from the particular world cup. How about enlisting a pre-tournament set of players who have stood out after the conclusion of the World Cup of 2011 as a crude summary of the names to watch out for over the next couple of months?

Time To Perform Before Its Too Late!

The current edition of the Border-Gavaskar trophy has associated adjectives like lively, newsy and enthralling more comfortably than its preceding one. For academic purposes the tussle has been settled before the final round and yet there is keenness in the build-up to the Sydney test. Two tests have gone down to the last session, there are physically spent bowlers with 100+ overs in 6 innings and skippers at either end have led respective batting units with vigilant, consistent knocks. Sparks have flown, tense confrontations have occupied match day reviews but on-field performances have managed to adhere onto memory chords, in the manner they should. Quietly certain players with under-performing report cards have slipped under the radar amid the noticeable concoction surrounding them.
Surprisingly a certain Cheteshwar Pujara features among those who haven’t lived up to their repute. He is fidgety at the crease, slightly unsure about his off-stump, the ball is striking the bat ill-time…