My Thoughts

Archive for the ‘ICL’ Category

Chennai Super Kings win the IPL III defeating Mumbai Indians

Two semi-finals and one final appearance later Chennai Super Kings lead by Dhoni won the IPL title defeating Mumbai at D Y Patil stadium in Mumbai. It was a brilliant win by CSK as they were almost down and out half way through the tournament. Credit has to be given to the captain and the support staff along with the players who showed tremendous mental fortitude to script this turnaround.

For Mumbai though this was a day of mistakes as dropped catches and poor decisions with batting order punctuated their performance in the finals. Sachin Tendulkar will be really disappointed as Mumbai Indians were the best side in this IPL. Even though I was happy to see Chennai Super Kings win, I was really sad to see Sachin in the losing side. But in the end Dhoni’s captaincy and Chennai’s superior fielding was the difference between the two sides.

When Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat everyone knew that Chennai had the upper hand as teams chasing at the D Y Patil stadium had struggled in the past. The Chennai batsmen started cautiously with Hayden’s continued struggle at the top of the order and with Vijay having to do the bulk of the scoring. But the real push for the Chennai innings came when Dhoni joined Raina at the middle as they both hammered the Mumbai bowlers to set up a competitive total. Mumbai Indians did not help themselves as they fluffed two chances both of Suresh Raina and the Chennai batsman made them pay with an unbeaten 57 of 35 balls.
When Mumbai began their chase in the pursuit of 169 to win the IPL III crown Doug Bollinger and Ravichandran Ashwin choked them for runs. Bollinger sent Dhawan early and Sachin along with Nayyar forged a decent partnership but the run rate was well within control for the CSK. Murali, Ashwin and Jakati were difficult to get away and the Chennai fielders put lots of pressure on the Mumbai batsmen. Even though Keiron Pollard’s late flourish gave some hopes to MI chances, Chennai Super Kings won the game comfortably by 22 runs in the end.

It was a brilliant display by the Chennai team which was brilliantly led by their cool captain Dhoni. Stephen Fleming the coach of Chennai Super Kings also deserves a special mention along with the other support staff. Chennai was helped by the arrival of the Aussie Doug Bollinger as his presence in the team provided the much needed potency to the bowling attack. Dhoni’s decision to open the bowling with Ashwin turned out to be the masterstroke as the youngster responded brilliantly to finish as the most economical bowler of the IPL III. Suresh Raina as usual was brilliant and the turnaround of Vijay from a correct player to a swashbuckling opener was amazing. Badri was consistent and Anirudha Srikkanth played couple of crucial knocks in the end. Murali and Morkel should not be forgotten as they both contributed handsomely towards the CSK progress throughout the tournament.

Dhoni was brilliant with the bat and was very shrewd with his captaincy. Even though Chennai was not the best team in IPL III but they were the most consistent team across the three IPL’s. They were for sure the most deserving champions in IPL.

India's Fielding was a concern to the Indian captain in spite of a comfortable win

In the post-match presentation after India beat Sri Lanka convincingly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni said that it was “Fishy” the way both the teams fielded in the second T20 game at Mohali.

“I have never seen a team dropping so many catches. But there was something funny going around, something fishy. Sri Lanka also missed so many run-outs. We have to improve our bowling, apart from fielding. Not only in T20s, but also in ODIs,” Dhoni had said after the Mohali tie.

He said that top sides don’t make so many mistakes in the same game and he felt something was not right.

This comment was made as both teams fielded awfully in the game as India dropped as many as 6 catches and Sri Lanka missed a bunch of run outs adding to couple of catches they dropped as well.

Even though Dhoni’s statement above might have been an innocuous one, I hope that it does not stir up any controversies. Dhoni later said that it might have to be something with the ground or lights which may have caused such appalling fielding by both the teams, but his choice of words were really interesting. Hopefully, this won’t cause more reading between the lines and turn this into another match-fixing saga.

MPL (Mumbai Premier League) is the latest addition to the ever growing T20 leagues in India. This one is being launched by the Mumbai cricket association (MCA) to cash in on the popularity of the T20 format and the success of IPL. The worst part is that this league is supposed to follow the IPL next year and Sachin Tendulkar is expected to play in this league. Since this league is organized by the MCA even Rohit and Zaheer would be expected to play in the league as well.

We already have IPL, CLT20 and a corporate T20 league which hogs our calendar and most of the Indian national cricketers play in them. We all know what excessive cricket can do to a player … Ishant is a fine example. We are just a year and a half away from the 2011 WC and India does not even have a settled pool of players decided yet.

If every other state decides to have such a league then the players would not have time to play for the country. India is trying to become the best side in the world and unfortunately the biggest hindrance for that is coming from the home board. It seems like BCCI does not care how the team performs; instead they are more worried about the players being available for the IPL.

It seems very funny when the players complain about overdose of cricket as they are the ones signing up to play in the various leagues around the world. Including the Australian T20 league, which is already in place, there are going to be at least three leagues every year where international players will be participating apart from the International games which absolutely doesn’t leave them with any rest.

If the Indian team aspires to be the best in the world, the players have to stop appearing in every league they are invited to play in. The players have to pick and choose the leagues they would be representing so that they are fit and available when the National team requires them. MCA has set yet another bad precedent in India and I hope that the rest of the state boards don’t follow suit.

Dhoni - During his hundred against the Aussies
Recently there have been calls in the media to scrap the 50 over format to accommodate the rising number of T20’s played around the world. There have been various theories like reducing the number of overs to 40, playing ODI in a two inning format etc. ODI cricket has been around for a long time now and definitely needs an overhaul but I guess it still has a place in the hearts of a cricket lover.

ECB recently scrapped their domestic 50 over tournament and replaced the same with a 40 over version. We did see in the media recently where the ECB has suggested the same to the ICC. We cannot fault the ECB for doing so as their National team has been pretty poor in the 50 over version. I hope that the ICC dont follow that route.

One thing I have to agree is that there is too much of ODI cricket played these days adding up to the numerous T20 leagues going around. This is where ICC needs to step up and do something about the ever growing T20 leagues. Having IPLT20 and CLT20 in the same year is ridiculous. Now since Australia is starting their own T20 league which might leave players no time to play International cricket, it’s the right time for ICC to step in. They should bring some sort of a regulation which would reduce the number of ODI’s and T20’s played in a year to sustain interest among the fans. I am not sure why the Test championship is not taking wings as it is an interesting concept. It will for sure induct lots of interest among the viewers for the oldest format of the game.

The 50 over format provides a great variation to the fans from the bang bash T20 format. The teams are allowed to strategize, plan and execute over a 50 over format. Even though IPL and CLT20 have become so successful in India, people still love the ODI’s. ODI matches in India still play to packed houses. The major problem though which needs to be addressed immediately is the player burnout.

Too many ODI’s are played these days and most of them are meaningless. A 7 match ODI series is a tad too long I feel. I guess a bilateral ODI series should be limited to no more than 5 games. The champions Trophy and ODI world cup need to be the premier multinational events. Limit the amount of other tri series which are played around the world other than the above two major events.

ICC also has to work towards reducing the number of T20 leagues which are going around these days. The ODI cricket format itself needs an overhaul to make it more interesting and reducing the number of overs isn’t the way to go. The 2 innings format is something which the ICC can look into. They have tried couple of innovations in the past which haven’t worked like the “Super-sub”. More thought needs to be put in towards that line.

ODI cricket has a rich history and has been around for a long time. ODI World Cup still remains a special event for every cricketer around the world. Test cricket as every International player would agree is the pinnacle of cricket and will remain for a long time to come. The format which needs preservation is the ODI. Players still prefer this format over T20 any day. The advent of T20 has cast some doubts over the future of this format but with some innovations, the 50 over format can hang on. Reduce the number of games played around at the moment and make some changes to the existing format and we might have a winning formula. The short and sweet Champions Trophy breathed some life into ODI’s and we hope that the ICC can learn something from this. I am a fan of 50 over format and would not want to see it die.

Captains of the ICL teams posing with the Trophy

Captains of the ICL teams posing with the Trophy

BCCI have achieved what they set out to do couple of years back when the ICL was launched. ICL was launched in 2007 by Zee Enterprises as their bid to telecast couple of International tournaments was denied by the BCCI. When the ICL was launched lots of International players were excited and expressed interest in the same. Big names such as Shane Bond, Abdul Razzak and few other retired players joined the league.

BCCI obviously was not thrilled and called it a “Rebel” league. The BCCI also said that any player joining the league will not be allowed to play for India. BCCI’s power in International cricket is now a known fact and this caused all the other nations to follow suit and ban their players joining the so called “Rebel” league. BCCI did not stop there, they came up with their own T20 league and launched the IPL in 2007 and signed up all the big stars in the International arena.

Once the BCCI did that everyone knew that ICL would stand no chance against the financial powerhouse of the World cricket. The IPL season 1 was a big hit and the combination of International superstars and Bollywood superstars made the league a super duper hit in 2008. Even though ICL has been fighting for their rights against the BCCI and the ICC for recognition over the past two years, there was no doubt in everyone’s mind that this league will not survive for long.

There were lots of talks between the two parties but were unable to reach an amicable solution. In 2009 the recession had caught up with the ICL and they were unable to have their league which put lots of doubts on their players and slowly they started to part their ways with the league. Players like Shane Bond, Abdul Razzak and Mohd. Yousuf are already in their National sides and the BCCI have also given a second chance to the Indian youngsters to sever their contracts with the ICL.

It seems like the end is nearing for the ICL. Even though Kapil Dev (Chairman) had repeatedly told the media that both leagues can survive together, the possibility of that happening looks bleak right now. Even though I am not a avid supporter of the BCCI’s methods, I am happy for the International players who can now play test cricket and advance their careers. Shane Bond especially is a brilliant bowler and would be a great boost for a struggling New Zealand team. Mohd Yousuf coming back to Pakistan test team also will give them a huge boost.

BCCI have been arrogant and they said that the Indian players parting with the ICL cannot be considered for India for a year at least. The players though will be happy that they will at least get an opportunity to represent India in the future. Most of them are pretty young and 1 year would not be a big deal. The ICL might still go on as there are some retired stars still in the league but will lose its charm. BCCI have achieved what they wanted and ICL might eventually die down.

Even though it’s unfortunate for the ICL, I am just happy that some great players will again get a chance to play for their countries. The youngsters who were caught in the cross fire would be happy that in the future they can play for their country. ICL was good but was started for a wrong reason. Even though BCCI is no saint, I am just happy that this fight which was dividing world cricket is nearing its end. International teams have got back their stars and India has got back their youngsters.

We have seen so many articles in past couple of years about ICL but there have been very few based on the actual action on the field. The so called “Rebel” league enjoys very less space on the media due to its status. Well keeping the political standpoint aside lets for once concentrate on the actual cricket. I have watched two editions of ICL and the inaugural edition of IPL earlier this year.
While IPL is all glamour and glitz, ICL is more about cricket. Even though I loved watchin IPL’s first edition earlier this year I would rate ICL higher in terms of action on the field. ICL provides more close contests than what I saw in IPL earlier this year. We might put that down to IPL being in its first season and ICL has already completed 2 editions. IPL was enjoyable but there was a overdose of bollywood stars in the first edition. It was exciting in the beginning but later in the tournament it became little bit irritating and annoying.
Every four or a six from the Kolkata Knightriders was followed by the camera focussing on Sharukh khan dancing on the stands with his esteemed bollywood friends. The purpose of the league was lost on the same. The cricket was good but it was unable to sustain the hype for too long. ICL on the other hand does not have the burden that IPL has, its sans hype and media attention. Not many high profile bollywood stars are involved which shifts the focus on cricket. I have seen few bollywood stars here and there but none dancing in the stands regularly for all the games.
The franchise system is a good attempt in cricket and it was highly successful in the first edition of IPL. But the organizers need to be careful as the focus can easily shift from cricket and the league can become one big budget bollywood movie. The stars are fine as they own some of the teams but while there is a cricket match going on, the focus should remain on the ground rather than on the stars in the stands. IPL was good as an overall entertainment package but as Kapil put it ICL is definitely better in terms of quality of cricket.
ICL provides more closely fought games than IPL

ICL provides more closely fought games than IPL

We have seen so many articles in past couple of years about ICL but there have been very few based on the actual action on the field. The so called “Rebel” league enjoys very less space on the media due to its status. Well keeping the political standpoint aside lets for once concentrate on the actual cricket. I have watched two editions of ICL and the inaugural edition of IPL earlier this year.

While IPL is all glamour and glitz, ICL is more about cricket. Even though I loved watchin IPL’s first edition earlier this year I would rate ICL higher in terms of action on the field. ICL provides more close contests than what I saw in IPL earlier this year. We might put that down to IPL being in its first season and ICL has already completed 2 editions. IPL was enjoyable but there was a overdose of bollywood stars in the first edition. It was exciting in the beginning but later in the tournament it became little bit irritating and annoying.

Every four or a six from the Kolkata Knightriders was followed by the camera focussing on Sharukh khan dancing on the stands with his esteemed bollywood friends. The purpose of the league was lost on the same. The cricket was good but it was unable to sustain the hype for too long. ICL on the other hand does not have the burden that IPL has, its sans hype and media attention. Not many high profile bollywood stars are involved which shifts the focus on cricket. I have seen few bollywood stars here and there but none dancing in the stands regularly for all the games.

The franchise system is a good attempt in cricket and it was highly successful in the first edition of IPL. But the organizers need to be careful as the focus can easily shift from cricket and the league can become one big budget bollywood movie. The stars are fine as they own some of the teams but while there is a cricket match going on, the focus should remain on the ground rather than on the stars in the stands. IPL was good as an overall entertainment package but as Kapil put it ICL is definitely better in terms of quality of cricket.

Five years ago when India won the Natwest finals against England, we had unearthed two batting stars in Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif. All of us thought that those two along with Virender Sehwag would form the crux of Indian batting line up in the future. Almost six years after the Natwest final, Kaif is no longer part of the Indian team, Yuvraj is still inconsistant and Sehwag’s one day average keeps diminishing with every innings he plays.

The Indian team though have found few batsmen for the future in Gambhir, Uthappa, Rohit and the captain himself Dhoni. India’s future after Sachin, Dravid, Sourav and Laxman looks really uncertain. Sachin who is still a part of the one day scheme of things is trying his best to help the youngsters in the team with his valuable inputs and that should do them a world of good. Yuvraj and Sehwag being the two most experianced members in the batting line up after Sachin, should take more responsibilty in guiding these youngsters and making sure that they dont fall out like a few have in the past few years.

When Kaif played that wonderful innings against England in the Natwest trophy he was considered to be a captaincy material and was expected to be a part of the team for a long time. Currently he is not even in the reckoning. The youngsters need to realise to be on the top, the performances need to be consistant over a period of time. I still remember Vijay Bharadwaj, who was man of the match in a series in kenya few years ago and suddenly dissapeared from the scene. We can see so many such instances in Indian cricket over the past few years.

Now that IPL has made sure that these youngsters have become overnight heroes. There is lots of money involved in the game these days and its easy to lose focus of the job in hand. When you consider Ishant Sharma who has had just few matches under his belt being auctioned at $950,000 at IPL, you cant help but wonder is this good for these youngsters. When you have players come into international cricket and have few successful games the hype in India is so much that they become overnight stars and dont know how to handle the same. The reason why Sachin, Dravid and Laxman have been so successful over a period of time is due to the fact that they have both their feet firmly grounded inspite of all the hype and hapoola surrounding the game these days.

With so much money involed in cricket these days its easy for these youngsters to lose focus on the game itself. Thats what we saw with Irfan, Sehwag, Yuvraj and few others who had to be dropped from the team to make them realise that you cant be in the team if you are not performing. I guess India has great talent coming through in both batting and bowling and we need to make sure that the IPL’s and the ICL’s dont ruin it for us. The players are currently made to believe that they are greater than what they are and it will be better for them to realise that what matters the most the their performances on the cricket field.

Ten years down, no one is going to remember how much you were auctioned for in IPL. The reason we kept getting great batsmen over a period of time was due to the fact that, playing cricket was their main focus. Now a days, you just need to be a part of one series win and you dont have to play cricket anymore. I will be very interested in seeing in couple years time, which of these youngsters make it through to become the next Sachin or Laxman or Dravid of Indian cricket.

I have been a fan of Indian cricket and I am very excited looking at these youngsters performing so well in Australia. I just hope that this continues and these youngsters go from strength to Strength rather than being weighed down by this recent media frenzy and the money involved. I want India to be a cricket team which is respected throughout the world for their performances on the cricket field rathen than being the financial powerhouse which they are right now. Cricket is India has become more of a business than a sport which was the case 10-15 years back. Hopefully the game survives and will be still be remembered for your exploits on the cricket ground.


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