Archive for June, 2009

kapil_dev_world_cup_20070305The T20 World Cup was scheduled at the heels of IPL Season 2 and spectators around the world got an overdose of cricket in its shortest version: fast, furious and full of big hits. T20 gives you absolutely no time ‘to get your eye in’ and that applies not only to the players but also to the viewers. A big hit or a wicket can be expected on almost every ball bowled. That’s the kind of excitement it brings along and is fast becoming a beloved of everyone who follows cricket.

Test cricket, no doubt, remains the pinnacle, just like art in its purest form. Test cricket need not fear from the overwhelming response T20 is getting. In fact, T20 has become a cat among the pigeons called ODIs that will soon be found flying in different directions unless some radical steps are taken. It doesn’t, however, mean that the T20s need to be leashed. Rather, the ODIs need some serious makeover, one that would make them T20’s next of kin.

The experts on pre-match shows of an ODI now discuss more about modifications required in ODIs rather than the game itself. That is a testimony to the fact that the ground below ODIs is slowly slipping. Viewers find 50 overs too long a time to stick to their TV sets and half-full or half-empty grounds have become a norm for ODIs. The current ODI series between India and West Indies has brought this to the fore more than anytime earlier. A 3-hour match (T20) seems more desirable than the 7-hour (ODI) game, considering more action it provides in less time.

Some concrete suggestions have already been made. Among those, the one that has found favor from most is making ODIs a two-inning affair, just like Test cricket, with each inning being 25 overs. In some ways, it will be a limited-over Test to be completed in a single day. That would also serve the purpose of giving ODIs a close resemblance to T20; the only difference being four innings of 25 overs each instead of 20 overs a side. Moreover, there will also be a possibility of match finishing in less than 75 overs, reducing the time even more.  

Having said that, the ICC needs to adopt a very receptive attitude to implement anything like that. Honestly, there should not be much opposition to the viewpoint of overhauling ODIs if it prevents them from becoming an extinct species.

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michael-jacksonLegends never die, they just come and go! 

Michael, you will be remembered as one of the greatest musician, composer, lyricist, dancer to have visited planet earth. You still had lot more to give us but may be God liked you and your work more than us and summoned you up!

We will surely “REMEMBER THE TIME WHEN WE FELL IN LOVE” and cherish it for the rest of our lives.  MJ Rocks!

Dhoni at practiceThere has never been a time in MSD’s stint as the captain of India that tested his mettle both as a skipper and a player. Team was winning and whether Dhoni himself performed or not was never autopsied. The scenario has changed in a matter of weeks after India’s ignominious exit from the T20 World Cup.

Now in the Caribbean to play a 4-match ODI series, Dhoni has his task cut out to lead a relatively depleted Indian team – which is without the likes of Sehwag, Tendulkar and Zaheer – to a much-needed series win. Such would be the pressure on this team that a loss in the first ODI itself would lead many hands onto the hilt of their critical swords and pull it out of the scabbard should India lose the series.

It won’t be easy at the first place. West Indies are already on a high after their semifinal appearance in the T20 World Cup. Although they lost tamely to Sri Lanka, they are slightly better placed than the Indians presently, especially since India is without some of their key players. While it would take some time for Sehwag to return to competitive cricket (shoulder surgery), Sachin had opted out and Zaheer has been rested for the series. The ghost of 2007 World Cup exit would also take some digging to be buried and the Windies would surely try to open up some old wounds.

The scheduling of this series has also been severely criticized given its proximity to the T20 World Cup.  The Indian team had barely 10 days between their last match against South Africa in England and the first match against West Indies in the Caribbean. Shifting gears from T20 to ODIs will certainly present some sort of a challenge but that would be for both the teams.

Whatever be the situation, the Indian team certainly has enough on its platter and frankly speaking, they should gobble it all up.

Deliberations on retirement make way into a cricketer’s mind when the number 3 gets prefixed to his age, though at 30 a player still has a lot to offer. However, it baffles to the limit when a cricketer – who was considered still young at 30 – is labeled as ‘catching up with age’ at 31 or 32, especially if the performance levels dip.  How can 30 be young and 31/32 old?  Isn’t Sanath still around!

afridi3It seems Shahid Afridi has taken a serious note of the above thought process. No matter since how long he is playing, he is still 29. Considering the pivotal role Afridi played in Pak’s recent T20 triumph, he might take some more time to reach 30. All said and done, deep inside we hope he remains 29 for ever with a promise that he will keep entertaining us with his boom-boom!

sehwag with trophyThe abbreviated form of ODIs took its time to sink into the Asian cricket system, so much so that the BCCI adopted a nitpicking attitude towards T20 and termed it as divertissement. BCCI’s dithering continued until India – to everybody’s surprise – won the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 and the board finally had to throw in the towel. While the whole India went into frenzy, somewhere in Rajasthan there was a man called Lalit Modi who was busy scripting a dream story titled ‘IPL’.

The overwhelming response that the IPL received in its first two seasons is before all of us. However, that’s not where the story ends. In fact, India’s T20 triumph in 2007, with Pakistan being the other finalist, laid the foundation for Asia to become the T20 Powerhouse. Any reservations on that have been put to rest in this edition of the T20 World Cup, not by India, but by Pakistan and Sri Lanka. While Pakistan overcame the favorites SA, Sri Lanka routed WI on Friday to set up a title-clash on Sunday.

The plain fact that equation brings to the surface is that the four finalists in the two editions of T20 World Cup have been India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, all Asians. While Pakistan takes an aim at the title for the second time, Sri Lanka stand a better chance to win it considering their present form and unbeaten record. Whatever happens, the trophy will remain in Asia for sure, for the second time in a row.

No doubt England is the architect of T20 format, but it would be safe to say now that Asian giants have mastered it better than any other team. Although this edition of the T20 World Cup was a downer for an Indian fan, one can take heart from the fact that the cup is coming back to our bigger home, Asia.

In addition to that and it means more than anything else, the two countries couldn’t have asked for a better stage to tell the perpetrators of attack on SL cricketers in Pakistan that cricket will always be the winner.

Shahid AfridiDon’t be surprised if a new term – ‘South African Nightmare’ – becomes the latest entrant in the dictionary of idioms. The meaning: ‘losing in the semifinal of a sporting event’.

The South African archive for biggest sporting fiascos got a new entry last night when its much-fancied cricket team lost yet another time in the semifinal of a world event. The script writer of SA’s nightmare turned out to be Pakistan’s long overdue star Shahid Afridi who excelled both with the bat (51) and ball (2/16).

Afridi’s arrival at the bowling crease saw SA losing Gibbs while chasing an iffy target of 150, but it was the wicket of in-form DeVilliers that signaled the nature of things to come. Ajmal and Malik were equally difficult to get away and supported Afridi well. In the end, it was left to Gul whose consistency with bowling yorkers at the death has amazed one and all. Even though he didn’t pick any wicket, his spell (3-0-19-0) ensured South Africa don’t reach the boundary and Morkel, Duminy and Boucher had too much to do in too little a time after Kallis walked back to the pavilion for a well-made 64.

The after-match press conference expectedly focused on South Africa’s consistency in failing just before the final hurdle. While Smith refused to be labeled as ‘chokers’, it’s a tag that gets associated with SA whenever they lose in a major tournament and is fast becoming a truth than a myth. In contrast, Pakistan’s bumpy ride from the loss to India in the warm-ups and to England and Sri Lanka in the group stages is turning into a highway to success. The unpredictable nature – which has always been part of Pakistan cricket – is what makes them one of the most dangerous sides in the world.

Honestly, it’s only the Pakistan bowlers that look like a match to their  Sri Lankan counterparts who play their semifinal today with fellow islanders West Indies, another unpredictable side that has gone from strength to strength in this tournament. Going by form and the likely outcome, be prepared to see two Asian giants, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, fight it out on Sunday to claim the cup.

SA FamEver since their re-induction into the cricketing arena in 1992, the South African (SA) safari has more often than not made serious inroads into all major tournaments, right from making it to the semifinals of the 1992 Benson & Hedges World Cup to their current unbeaten run in the ICC World Twenty20.

Somehow, they find it hard to cross the semifinal hurdle and always choke instead of going for the broke. Every time they are expected to go the distance, they falter. The 1992, 1999 and 2007 editions of the World Cup saw the Proteas bowing out at the semi-final stage. They must be desperate to hold the silverware and certainly deserve the most of all teams on show.

This time around, SA have to guard against the unpredictable nature of a talented Pakistan side that has gained momentum with every match. Their spinners can spell doom for a spin-wary SA batsmen with the exception of AB DeVilliers who has looked a class apart. No doubt SA are buoyed by their unbeaten run but they have to be mindful of the complacency it can lead to.

All said and done, one can feel that SA are more focused and up for it this time around. However, Pakistan is not going to be an easy nut to crack and SA have to pull out all its resources to bell the cat this time around.