Archive for April, 2010

The cricket carnival moves from the trumpet celebrations in sticky Chennai to the hip-shakers in the Caribbean. The international camaraderie of the IPL is about to wear the gown of animosity as the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 kicks off in the West Indies in less than an hour from now.

The IPL is no doubt the second biggest T20 tournament after the World Cup and it’s only ironical that the highest run-getter of this year’s IPL – Sachin Tendulkar – will be sitting in his living room watching his comrades vie for top honors. It may be a boon for India’s opponents but is surely not a loss for India, as the team triumphed without Sachin in 2007. That the master opted not to play – despite constant coaxing – and give youngsters a chance only adds to his iconic stature.

The bookmakers rank India as the second favorite after Australia who are desperate to add the elusive trophy to Cricket Australia’s shimmering cabinet. West Indies are dangerous at home but much rests on Gayle alone, which makes them a very risky bet. Sri Lanka looks like having horses for courses, though New Zealand too is not short of pedigree if they can bring consistency to their batting. South Africa always had it in them but it’s the final hurdle that proves a bit too high to jump for the Proteas.

The English side is spruced up with power hitters like Lumb, Pietersen and Morgan which gives them a formidable look. Pakistan is dangerous as ever but it’s hard to tell how they would pan out, both on and off the field. Bangladesh is exciting as always but continues to be more a party-spoiler than anything else.

Must admit that the world is looking forward to see Afghanistan competing at the world level. If I am not wrong, it’s the first team event of this stature for them in any sport. So that does make them the ‘team of the minnows’ that also include Ireland and Zimbabwe.

After the unhappy climax of the IPL, I hope the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 puts up a show to remember.

Advertisements

It’s no longer a mystery that Twitter is the birthplace of latest IPL controversy. It was on Twitter that the suspended IPL Commissioner delivered, or you can say, “Twitter is the midwife that helped Modi deliver; it’s just that the cramps developed after delivery rather than before or during it.”

While there are many who can comment on IPL, Modi, Tharoor, Pushkar, Rendezvous, Kochi, etc., let’s leave that to them and talk about something else. Let’s talk about the latest vogue in cricket these days. And that’s watching cricket with Twitter!

Gone is the time when microblogging sites, especially Twitter, were used as an exit-gate to vent out anger, to express what one hesitated uttering, to break the monotony of working on a PC or a laptop and to go beyond just making and receiving calls from cell phones. It is now being used more as a productive and innovative tool to introduce yourself and make your presence felt, among those who you want to connect with.

In the context of cricket fanatics, the rage these days is to tweet on cricketing matters while you watch them unfold and exchange opinions with fans and experts alike. Most of the cricket fraternity has its presence on Twitter, be it present and former players, administrators or the cricket media. What more, these people are extremely active here and never hesitate to echo their comments about events on and off the field. In fact, their presence and a chance to swap views with them is what brings cricket fans to Twitter.

Even while a match is on, Twitter is flooded with tweets on the match proceedings, with fans supporting or differing with each other on a move made by MS Dhoni or a reckless shot played by Yuvraj Singh. It almost enthralls you when a Harsha Bhogle or an Ayaz Memon or a David Lloyd replies to your tweet. That, for me, is the drive behind so many fans logging in while a match is in progress and commenting on it. To cite an example, a reply from bigwigs spurs on an aspirant sports journalist like me, adding strength to the belief that I can.

Though I have no doubt that Lalit Modi would repent moving his fingers back and forth while punching those ‘infamous’140 characters, the cricket fan knows the laws of the game.

It’s down to the Round of 16 in the IPL – of course, that’s not the number of teams but the number of games left before the semifinals. All but PZ’s Kings are in with a chance. Some about to lose the grip but still hanging in there and some waiting for that one elusive win to move from waitlist to confirmed status.

Beyond the mathematics of points and run-rates, there are some clear, yet subliminal, strengths and/or weaknesses of teams that may have the final say at the conclusion of league stage. I have analytically tried to eye that for the teams still in fray. Take a look!

Mumbai Indians (MI)

The away ghost: As I pointed out in my last post, MI’s real test starts after Game 8 when they play 5 of their remaining 6 matches away and it turned out as suspected. They lost to Chennai and now have to face Punjab in Mohali and Rajasthan in Jaipur before touching base for their last home game. If MI loses these two as well, then all their hopes will be pinned on the game against Delhi Daredevils at home because after that their last two league encounters are also away games. MI may prove me wrong today itself by beating Punjab but if they don’t, then it remains to be seen if they can bury the ‘away ghost’ or are only ‘Lions at Home’.

Delhi Daredevils (DD)

Bowling quandary: Delhi’s problem lies in stringing together a winning combination that is consistent, more so in bowling than batting. Yes, the injuries to Nannes and Nehra haven’t helped matters but the replacements don’t look promising, as was visible in the runs they bled in the death overs against Kolkata. This may prove fatal for DD who still need to win at least two of their remaining 4 matches.

Rajasthan Royals (RR)

Shane Warne: Wonder what that man does to lift the team’s spirit but whatever that is, it’s nothing less than magic and only within the realms of a mentor like Warnie. The possibility that this may be his last hurrah as a player makes him doubly dangerous.

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)

Who to play and who not: Their issue is team selection due to a large number of quality expats (10 in total). This has compounded Kumble and Jennnings’ problems. The ‘who to play and who not’ question needs to be answered quickly or else the team may miss the bus.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK)

Just-in-time arrivals: We have already seen what effect Bollinger has had on CSK’s bowling and with Michael Hussey too in ranks now, watch out for Chennai. The welcome surprise has been Murali Vijay turning into a ‘technically correct butcher’. Vijay and then Hussey, Raina and Dhoni lower down will allow Hayden to play his natural game, which makes it intimidating for bowlers.

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)

Tough assignment: The concluding games for KKR are against RCB, CSK, RR and MI respectively. So it means Kolkata cannot blink with four taxing games in a row. The only solace is that their last two matches are at home where they play well with a huge fan base.

Deccan Chargers (DC)

Living on the edge: Of the seven teams in fray, they have the bleakest of chances to make it. With four games left for them, DC has to win each one of those because of the poorest run-rate. That is the only way they can harbor any hopes of finishing in top four. Looking at their mixed performance in the season, it looks highly unlikely.