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DC’s first game against KXIP despite their win followed a similar pattern to the 2019 season. Their top order collapsed leaving too much to do for the middle order. DC’s inconsistencies throughout 2019 was due to the fact that their batters did not put in cohesive performances through the season. Shikhar Dhawan at the top had a brilliant season with over 500 runs but his partner Prithvi Shaw had a shocker. Colin Ingram, Sherfane Rutherford and Colin Munro struggled in the chances they received.

The pressure on Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant was enormous and both came out with a decent 400+ runs last season. Even though Iyer and Pant tried their best their batting collapses were too often for them to make a difference. Despite having 3 batters in 400+ list DC failed to make an impact. In the first game of the season Delhi Capitals once again found themselves in the familiar territory. The top order failed leaving again captain Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant to perform the rescue act. Delhi almost faltered but a freak innings from all-rounder Marcus Stoinis rescued them from being bowled out within their allotted 20 overs.

The personnel have changed but the problem remains. Shikhar Dhawan can have a few failures and he is not the problem, Prithvi Shaw is. The Indian Test opener had a average season last year with an average of only 22. DC will benefit from good starts in few games at the top which was few and far between last season. DC will also want more from Shimron Hetmyer at number 3 and will be hoping that the West Indian will come into some sort of form for them in the rest of the season. Marcus Stoinis looks in tremendous form with the bat but innings like the one he played in the first game does not occur regularly.

Delhi Capitals still have Alex Carey in their squad who was in amazing form in the recently concluded ODI series in England. Ajinkya Rahane is in their squad as well but I am not sure he is the right fit for DC at the moment. I don’t think there is a need to panic for DC just yet after just one game but again they will be keeping an eye out on the batters. Making the right calls at the right time is crucial in the tournament like IPL as a downward spiral can make the tournament feel really long.

Delhi Capitals have a very strong squad and with right personnel in the playing XI, they will be strong contenders for the title.

Kings XI Punjab had a heartbreaking loss in their first game again Delhi Capitals. They were in control of the game for most of their bowling innings before Marcus Stoinis broke loose. While batting as well they started well but the middle order crumbled before Mayank Agarwal played a stellar knock to almost get them to a win.

KXIP went in to the first game without Chris Gayle. Gayle who calls himself the “Universe Boss” is obviously a legend in this format. An opener who could destroy any bowling attack on his day. The problem for KXIP though is that Gayle is always a hit or miss type of player. To be fair to the West Indian, he has had two back to back good seasons in IPL. He was second highest run getter behind KL Rahul in 2019 and his average of 40 was at a very high SR of 153. Gayle though hasn’t played any competitive cricket for a while and isn’t one of the quickest movers on the field either. Gayle is someone who hits big but again he also has a tendency to get stuck if things aren’t going good for him. He isn’t the greatest of fielders and I don’t think he prefers to bowl anymore. This means that KXIP by including him will be taking a huge chance.

Their choice of Nicholas Pooran for the first game did not go according to plan which might make them speculate for sure ahead of their clash against Royal Challengers Bangalore. It would be unfair on Nicholas Pooran though as he is no mug with the bat either in this format. He did have a poor game but again he does deserve another chance. KXIP also will be mulling over the inclusion of Mujeeb ur Rahman after Chris Jordan went for 30 runs in the last over of their game against DC. Sheldon Cottrell had a very good game with the ball thereby retaining his spot in the XI.

Karun Nair is another batter who will be under the scanner. He played a poor shot to the first ball he faced of Ravi Ashwin and kind of caused a mini collapse after KL Rahul had just gotten out. There is an option of Deepak Hooda or Mandeep Singh who are waiting in the wings for that middle order spot. KXIP also have the all-round option of Jimmy Neesham who provides them with a seam bowling option along with his batting ability off course.

While there is a lot for KXIP to ponder the primary discussion will be around the inclusion of Chris Gayle in the XI. The first game wasn’t as terrible as it seems. They could have gotten over the line if few things went their way and if their lower order did not panic. So possibly the franchise might still go ahead with the same XI giving all the players another opportunity to succeed. It makes sense as well as you don’t want to drop players based on one performance considering most of them haven’t played any cricket for months.

It will be interesting though to see if KXIP will avoid the temptation of tinkering with the XI. RCB are a very confident team with a great squad this season and it will not be easy to defeat them. The team from Punjab though boast of a very good bowling attack and they will be hoping for the batters to step up. Today will be a great game and all the eyes will be on the Kings XI team management as to what decision they would take in terms of the final playing XI.

When Suresh Raina decided to leave at the start of this season everyone expected CSK’s gameplan to take a hit. They were carrying two out of form openers and a bunch of rusty middle order bats. Raina who adds a great dimension to the CSK batting order has left a huge hole which I don’t think the team management were prepared for.

For some weird reason in the last years auction CSK went after bowlers but did not invest much on the batting front. The opening combination especially is pretty dicey for CSK. Murali Vijay who was once an explosive and consistent opener for CSK is just a shadow of the batsman he once was. His confidence seems to be non existent and that showed even during his fielding in the first game against Mumbai Indians. Shane Watson who was CSK’s star in their win in 2018 hasn’t been playing competitive cricket for a while now and that has shown in his form over the last couple of seasons.

This puts enormous pressure on Ambati Rayudu and Faf Du Plessis as the starts haven’t been what they would need for a T20 game. When Rayudu missed the game against RR due to injury CSK’s batting woes came into view for everyone to see. Ruturaj Gaikwad got a chance but we cannot be hard on the youngster after just one game. CSK would need to think about Murali Vijay’s role in the team. He has been poor in the field and has struggled to get going with the bat which means they would have to take a quick call once Rayudu comes back.

The problem for the men in yellow is that they do not have too many options in the squad. This leaves pretty less room for experimentation for the team management. The lack of batting options mean that CSK need to try and promote Ruturaj Gaikwad to open the batting alongside Shane Watson. This would also mean that Rayudu and Faf can play in their respective positions. Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni need to improve fast and soon in the middle order and they need to hope that Sam Curran continues to be excellent like he has been so far for the franchise.

The other major change CSK will be looking at is replacing Lungi Ngidi. The big South African made a great comeback in the first game but hasn’t been consistent enough. Josh Hazlewood can be given a chance in the upcoming games or even Shardul Thakur can get a look in which can allow CSK to play Dwayne Bravo or Imran Tahir based on the wicket for the upcoming games. Lots of things for the Stephen Fleming and co to think about ahead of their next game. The lack of batting options is something which might come back to bite them later in the season. For now moving around a few players is all they can do hoping that will be enough to get through this season.

Steven Smith led Rajasthan Royals have been the perennial underdogs of the Indian Premier League. This tag has stuck with them despite their title win in 2008 against all odds with a team which had no superstars besides their inspirational captain Shane Warne. The team which Shane Warne took to victory had Indian cricket’s future and players from around the world who were trying to make a mark or comeback. RR was the home for Shane Watson, Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja, who went to become great international success.

The situation though is different now with RR as they boast of some influential international superstars. Steven Smith, their captain is considered one of the best players in the world. Jos Buttler is one of the most feared bat in the limited overs format and they also boast of arguably the best all-rounder in the world Ben Stokes in their ranks. Jofra Archer who is one of the most exciting talents in the world also lifts their bowling attack. Despite having such international superstars in their mix, the one thing the RR camp lacks is the presence of an Indian superstar.

They do have some excellent Indian players this season though. Sanju Samson has been their main stay but again Robin Uthappa’s inclusion means they don’t have to worry about opening problems. They also have the brilliant Shreyas Gopal who has been brilliant for them over the last couple of seasons. It does seem like the team management had put in lots of thought in assembling a good squad this season. Even though Rajasthan Royals never come in discussions when favourites for winning the title are discussed, they may well be the team to look out for this season.

They did struggle after their internationals disappeared last year but with the possibility of everyone being available for the full tournament they are a team who need to be considered as true contenders. They have a squad this time which for sure can rise above the underdogs tag and can give the more popular teams run for the money. They have good balance of youth and experience in the squad and a good mix of Indian and foreign players

My RR XI for tonight:

Robin Uthappa, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson (WK), Steven Smith (C) (O), Mahipal Lormor, David Miller (O), Manan Vohra, Riyan Parag, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer (O), Varun Aaron, Jaydev Unadkat, Tom Curran

The above XI gives a good balanced look. In the absence of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler for the first game Rajasthan Royals need to be little creative. David Miller comes into the middle order and they would need to pick between Tom Curran and Oshane Thomas in the pace bowling department. They have some good Indian pacers like Ankit Rajpoot and Kartik Tyagi who can come into the mix as well. Young Yashasvi Jaiswal will be a exciting player to watch this season. He was brilliant in the U19 WC and it will be interesting to see how he copes with the pressures of the IPL. So quite a lot of options for Steven Smith to choose from and it is a happy headache to have for a captain. RR will be looking to start well in a tough tournament. There aren’t any weak teams this time and all squads look well balanced. We have already have 3 close games to start the season and tonight promises to be yet another cracker.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are one of the best teams in the history of IPL. They are the only team who have reached the play-offs in every IPL they have been part of. They have won the title 3 times and are always one of the favourites going into an IPL season. The biggest constant for the franchise has been their two legends in batting, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni. Suresh Raina at number 3 has been a regular for CSK and him pulling out leaves a huge hole in the top order.

Raina also is an IPL legend with 5368 runs in the tournament in 193 games. In the absence of the southpaw, CSK will be forced to reshuffle their batting order. While Shane Watson is a fix at the top, the opening role might go to Murali Vijay who has been struggling in this format over the past few seasons. Ruturaj Gaikwad is another option CSK might mull over considering his T20 record at the domestic level. In the absence of Raina, Ambati Rayudu is most likely to take over the number 3 spot.

The number 4 spot will most likely go to the Faf Du Plessis to spruce up the top order in the absence of Suresh Raina. This would mean that there will be space for only two more foreign players in the X1. Kedar Jadhav at 5 and MS Dhoni at 6 will complete the top 6 of CSK.

Dwayne Bravo will mostly grab the pace bowling all-rounder spot followed by Ravindra Jadeja as the lead spinner. Here is where things get exciting for CSK. For the first time they have a good group of fast bowlers especially the international group with Josh Hazlewood, Lungi Ngidi and Sam Curran. Hazlewood and Curran are coming in match fit. Both of them have been in good form for their respective sides in limited overs games. CSK though would be in dilemma as all three fast bowlers are fantastic. If the CSK camp are to be believed, Lungi Ngidi has been bowling with serious pace in the practice games. Sam Curran on the other hand gives CSK with lower order batting along with his left arm swing. Josh Hazlewood gives them with control with the new ball.

This for sure will be a hard choice as there is space for only one foreign pace bowler in the X1. Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar will also be in the mix as one of them has to play in the X1. The other selection trouble for CSK is the spin bowling department. They have Imran Tahir in the squad as well but again Piyush Chawla who was snapped up for a fortune in the auction last year will take the second spinner spot in the X1. Only one of Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur will find space in the X1.

The pace bowling combination is something which CSK will have a lot to think about. To decide between 3 world class bowlers will not be easy at all considering they might be able to play only one of them at most times.

CSK have a great squad this time with the right amount of experience and talent. The biggest challenge for them this season would be to get the right combination on the field. The team management will have lots of thinking to do ahead of their clash against last years champions Mumbai Indians in the first game of the season. It will be interesting to see what Stephen Fleming and MS Dhoni have in mind regarding the team combination.

My CSK XI for the first game:

Murali Vijay, Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Faf Du Plessis, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (WK & Capt), Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla, Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar

 

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Mumbai Indians will start as the favourites tonight in their crucial encounter against Chennai Super Kings

So after 56 games with 8 teams battling out for 4 spots in the play-offs, we are finally in the business end of the IPL 2019. Chennai Super Kings will take on Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier later today in the MA Chidambaram Stadium,Chennai. Mumbai Indians have been the team to beat this year. They have qualified at the top of the points table after the league stage and possibly have the best balanced side of the competition this year.

Their bowling has been brilliant throughout with Lasith Malinga and Jasprith Bumrah leading the attack and the batting has come to its own at the latter half of the tournament. Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav batted well and look in good form going into the play-off. They have beaten Chennai Super Kings in both the games this season and will start as favourites for tonight’s encounter. For CSK though the sailing hasn’t been as smooth. Despite being one of the top sides of the season, they haven’t quite performed as a team this season. Their batting has been a suspect and MS Dhoni has been the talisman who has dragged them to victories in some crucial games in the league stage.

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CSK will be hoping that their batters finally click in the all important game against MI tonight

Shane Watson except for the one innings has struggled and the rest have been inconsistent which makes their task much harder in the play-offs. The bowling though has done well especially at home with Imran Tahir being their chief wrecker. The biggest advantage though for CSK is that they are playing at home where they have been brilliant again this season. Their only loss though has come against Mumbai Indian whom they will be facing off in the play-offs tonight.

Key Players:

MS Dhoni (CSK) – There is no bigger player in the CSK camp at the moment than the captain himself. CSK have struggled in games when the captain has been absent and his performance on the field and the bat will be crucial for the success of the team. He so far has been brilliant and has scored 368 runs at an average of 122 with a brilliant SR of 139.92. He will for sure be the key player for the home side.

Imran Tahir (CSK) – Tahir has been the go to bowler for MS Dhoni throughout this season. He has been brilliant at home and in away games for CSK. He has been economical and has also picked up wickets at crucial moments for his side this season. He is currently second in the list of highest wicket takers this season with 21 wickets with a brilliant economy rate of just 6.5. On a slow Chennai pitch, he will be crucial in the middle overs.

Hardik Pandya (MI) – For MI this season, even though Quinton De Kock and Keiron Pollard have played some brilliant knocks, it has been Pandya who has been the X-Factor for them this season. He has scored 380 runs at a SR of 198 so far and will be crucial for them once again in the play-offs.

Lasith Malinga & Jasprith Bumrah (MI) – These two have been so brilliant this season with the ball that it is hard to separate them. Both Bumrah and Malinga have been hard to get away this season and they have also picked wickets at crucial stages through out. They have taken 32 wickets between them and have been fantastic at the death.

This game will be a cracker and both the teams playing tonight have won the IPL three times each. The advantage of finishing in the top 2 means, both these teams will get another crack at making the finals even if they lose tonight but that will be the last thing on their minds at the moment. Even though Mumbai Indians start as the favourites for this game, MS Dhoni & CSK cannot be written off in an important game like this. Don’t see many changes in the XI’s of both sides but due to injury, CSK have to look for replacement for Kedar Jadhav. For MI though they have been unlucky with the pace bowling stocks but for Chennai, they might need an additional spinner. They might bring back Mayank Markande in the XI for today.

 

Yesterday’s game between KKR and RCB was interrupted by rain. The game was on hold till the rain stopped and the ground was ready for play. The game stopped when RCB were 100/3 in 14.1 overs. After the match resumed, the bowling team just bowled 5 balls and the umpire called for strategic break. Are you kidding me? Why would either team want to strategize when they had just spent about an hour in the dressing room with the coaching staff.

What is there to strategize after just 5 balls when nothing much had changed? If BCCI wants to give an advertising break, why not just call it that? It is funny that BCCI dictates and forces teams to take a break when they don’t want to and thereby cause unnecessary break in play. If BCCI wants to sell airtime to make money they should call the break as advertisement break. If they really want to give the teams a strategic break, it should only be taken when the teams want to take it.

It was extremely funny when teams had just come in after a 45 minute break and within 5 deliveries had to go back in to strategize nothing.

India tour Australia for a 5 ODI and 3 T20 series in January 2016 and the team for the same was announced last week. There were lots of surprises in both the squads and the biggest of them was return of Yuvraj Singh in the T20 squad. Yuvraj Singh who has been in brilliant form for Punjab in the Vijay Hazare trophy has been recalled into the Indian squad for the T20 games in Australia. Yuvraj who found himself out of favor after a disappointing performance in the World T20 in Sri Lanka in 2014 has made it back with good performances in the shorter format. Harbhajan Singh retains his spot as the second spinner in the T20 squad and Ravindra Jadeja returns to the team in both the formats.

The other surprising inclusion was of Ashish Nehra who makes a comeback into the T20 squad. The most surprising exclusion from the ODI squad is Suresh Raina who finds himself out of favor after some inconsistent performances this year. There were also lots of good selections in both the squads and few youngsters have been rewarded for their excellent performances in domestic cricket. Mohd Shami as expected makes a comeback. Since we already know a lot about the players already discussed let’s look at the young players who made the squad and learn about them in little bit more in detail. Let’s first look at the T20 squad.

T20I squad: MS Dhoni (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Harbhajan Singh, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra

Hardik Pandya (T20 Squad) (All-Rounder): (Age: 22, T20 Games: 28, Runs: 503, Wkts: 17)

Hardik Pandya had impressed one and all when representing Mumbai Indians in the IPL. Pandya has pace and is a decent bat lower down the order. He is the only all-rounder picked for the T20 games and we can understand the thought process on the same. We surely needed a pace bowling all-rounder for Australia and Pandya fits the bill perfectly. The only thing I am worried about Pandya is that he hasn’t bowled that much in domestic cricket for an all-rounder. He does average about 3 overs out of possible 4 in T20 games and 9 overs in OD cricket. So I guess he bowls good number of overs for Punjab/Mumbai in shorter formats. He does have the talent but lacks experience with the ball. It will be interesting to see how he goes on the bouncy tracks of Australia.

ODI squad: MS Dhoni (capt), R Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh, Rishi Dhawan, Barinder Sran

The ODI squad has few more youngsters compared to the T20 one but we are only looking at the 3 who haven’t played for India at this level. Manish Pandey already represented India in ODI’s in Zimbabwe.

Gurkeerat Singh (All-Rounder): (Age: 25, LA Games: 46, Runs: 1555, Wkts: 11)

Gurkeerat Singh is probably the most expected of all selections in the ODI Squad. He has been in brilliant form with both bat and ball in the recent times. He impressed one and all with his performances against “A” teams of Australia and South Africa few months ago. He has excellent records in first class and list A and would be an excellent fit in the Indian middle order in ODI. He is also in line for the test middle order spot in the future.

Rishi Dhawan (All-Rounder): (Age: 25, LA Games: 53, Runs: 1070, Wkts: 70)

Considering India’s struggles to find a good pace bowling all-rounder in shorter formats the selection of Rishi Dhawan is going cause a lots of interest. If you look at his FC records people would think why this guy is not already playing for the country. He has an excellent batting average of 41 in FC and a brilliant bowling average of 25. If that is not enough his ODI record of 39.62 with the bat and 31.6 with the ball is equally fantastic. He has been in line for a debut for a long time. He has repeatedly done well in the “A” games for India. His performances will be closely watched and everyone will be hoping that he succeeds and if he does India’s prayers for a pace bowling all-rounder will be answered.

Barinder Sran (Bowler): (Age: 23, LA Games: 7, Wkts: 15)

He is the least know of the new faces in the Indian squad. His selection is the direct reflection of India’s desperation to find a good left-arm pacer after Zaheer’s retirement. Barinder has the talent and is a bit raw as he hasn’t played too many games for Punjab yet. He does come in with high praise so a lot of expectation has been placed on his young shoulders. It will be interesting to see how he does if he gets picked in the X1. I wish him best and I hope he comes out with flying colors. India could do with some variation in the pace bowling department.

Considering that we are playing Australia in their home these probably are some bold selections. The selectors have made it clear that they want to move on and they are looking at young players in the shorter formats. This also sends out and SOS for established players like Suresh Raina to get their act together and they cannot take things for granted. The tour will begin on January 12th and I hope the cricket is at the highest level. Even though it is very hard to beat Australia in Australia, the Indian young players have the capability to put up a good fight. The series will also cause lots of interest in terms of the personnel’s selected for both the squads. So I wish the youngsters all the best and hopefully each one of them will have a great series and help India win the series.

Injury to Mohd Shami is a blessing in disguise as the Indian spearhead gets a well deserved rest after a grueling world cup.

Injury to Mohd Shami is a blessing in disguise as the Indian spearhead gets a well deserved rest after a grueling world cup.

Since 2000, India has had embarrassment of riches as far as fast bowling talent is concerned. From no good fast bowling option in the previous two decades, India ended up with too many in the last 15 years or so. Even though we had lots of bowlers except for Javagal Srinath and Zaheer khan, none of the Indian fast bowlers managed to go past 200 test wickets in the last 20 years. India has always found it difficult to manage fast men, in spite of the overseas bowling coaches, the ability of the bowlers after a promising starts dwindles away after a year or so.

The fitness is an issue, they drop pace and in some cases they lose their swing too. The list is endless, Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Nehra, RP Singh, Ishant Sharma etc. all fall under the same category. The recent interview of former Indian bowling coach Joe Dawes was interesting. He mentioned that the Indian bowlers bowl too much. The format they bowl in is also pertinent information. The 2 months of grueling IPL season followed by endless ODI games and then the CLT20 at the end of this year saps whatever energy the bowlers might have to be available for test cricket. Till the 90’s fast men used county cricket as their learning ground and were fairly successful at that.

India’s best two fast bowlers of the last 20 years Srinath and Zaheer owe their turnaround to county cricket. Srinath who was a one dimensional bowler until mid-90’s played a full season for Gloucestershire in 1995 and came back as a different bowler. Zaheer Khan who had lots of fitness and consistency issues came back a changed bowler after a full season of county cricket with Worcestershire in 2006. That trend has come to a halt now. Except for couple of short stints by Sreesanth and Agarkar, Indian players haven’t been allowed to play in county cricket by BCCI.

The Indian fast bowlers play in IPL instead which doesn’t help their development as test bowlers in any way. The jam packed international calendar means that the Indian bowlers don’t get to play in domestic first class games either. No wonder the Indian pacemen find it difficult to make an impact in the longer format as they have no experience bowling for that long. India’s current spearhead Mohd Shami who made his first class debut in 2010 has played a grand total of 30 first class games out of which 12 are tests for India. Varun Aaron whose first class debut was way back in 2008 has played a grand total of 30 first class games out of which 5 are tests. Mohit Sharma has 24 first class games to his credit, Ishant Sharma has 88 (61 of them are tests for India), Bhuvneshwar Kumar has 58 (First Class debut in 2007, 12 of 58 are tests) and Umesh Yadav has 40 (First class debut in 2008 and 12 of them are tests). So we see a pattern here.

Indian bowlers are over bowled in meaningless T20 games and ODI games which leave them no time to work on their chinks. The bowlers get paid hefty sum to get hit around the park in IPL, so they hardly have any motivation to work on their bowling at the test level. If India has any hopes of unearthing at least one good fast bowler, they need to keep these bowlers from playing in too many meaningless tournaments. After a long time India has finally found 3 bowlers who can bowl in upwards of 140 KMPH regularly with Aaron able to touch 150 KMPH. This is the right time for BCCI to invest in these bowlers and make sure they don’t fall by the wayside. India also has some young exciting fast bowlers like Sandeep Sharma and Anureet Singh who need to be nurtured.

It will be helpful for these bowlers to play in county cricket on helpful pitches to learn their trade rather than getting hammered around in the meaningless T20 leagues on flat pitches. These are exciting times for an Indian fan as for the first time we have bowlers who can bowl really fast but unless they are taken care properly we might lose them quicker than we realize. India’s international season starts right after the IPL and hopefully we will have the fast bowlers fit and available to be picked for India. The board and the coaches need to step up and work on keeping these bowlers fresh for international games. IPL is a good launch pad for young and upcoming players from domestic arena and it should stay that way. BCCI has enough finances to keep these young bowlers away from the T20 leagues and allow them to play more first class games which is the only way these bowlers are going to improve their skills. Let’s hope that things will change and the current crop can actually achieve what they set out to do and don’t become another Irfan or RP Singh.

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It was 1991 and the game was India vs. Pakistan at Sharjah. I had never watched a cricket game before and I thought that Sachin was this young boy who just appeared with Kapil Dev in the Boost advertisement. Pakistan had batted first and score 257 in 50 overs and India was chasing a difficult score against a great bowling lineup. India had a great start but lost their way in the middle when this young boy walks in and plays a beautiful innings getting India close to the target. I still remember Sachin hammering Mushtaq Ahmed for two consecutive sixes and getting out trying to go for the third.

That was the day I got glued to the game of cricket and the reason for the same was the little master. Everyone knew that this young boy is going to be a great player then but even his strongest supporter would not have imagined what this great player went on to achieve in his 24 year career. Sachin Tendulkar gave the Indian fans lots to cheer in a particularly poor decade for Indian cricket. This was the phase where the Indian hopes in every game lay on just his wicket. The opposition knew that and so did every Indian fan. There were lots of fans who would just turn off their televisions as soon as their idol got out.

We need to understand that Sachin was still just a young man and to handle that amount of pressure was truly remarkable. I remember he was the only batsman who always looked at home even on the overseas tours when all his fellow team mates struggled to put bat on ball. The brilliant hundred in Perth and the fantastic innings in Johannesburg as a 19 year old were able testimony to the fact. Sachin had amazing composure for a young man and his balance at the crease was phenomenal. He did not have any noticeable weakness and even if he had he had the ability to iron them out before he stepped out to bat again.

 His child like enthusiasm for the game and his great dedication made him a stand out player of his generation. His achievements are there for everyone to see. In spite of enjoying a god like status in India, he still remains a humble human being. He has achieved everything a cricketer could dream of. The 2011 world cup win for sure completed his cricketing resume and for sure will give him utmost satisfaction. Sachin was also part of the world number 1 test team and his IPL team Mumbai Indians gave him a fitting send off with a CLT20 win.

It will be sad to see Sachin go. I have watched Sachin Tendulkar throughout his career and he has been part of my growing up years. As a cricket fan in the 90’s Sachin has given me lots of fond memories which I would always cherish. The brilliant hundred in Benoni, the desert storm innings, his brilliant performance in the 1996 world cup and many more such performances will forever be etched in my memory. Sachin Tendulkar will be sorely missed by every Indian cricket fan. It will be hard to imagine an Indian cricket team without the little master in the lineup. I hope that he has a great farewell in the final two tests he will be part of later next month.

I wish Sachin remains attached to the sport in some vicinity, imparting the vast cricketing knowledge he has. Thank You Sachin for all the great memories and as a diehard fan of yours I will for sure miss watching you don the Indian colors again.


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