My Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘World Cup

India had a rather comfortable win over the giant killers Ireland yesterday. Yuvraj’s great all-round performance was the highlight of yesterday’s game for the Indians. Dhoni won the toss and elected the bowl first and Zaheer struck right away. Zaheer bowled a brilliant line and had the Irish 2 down in quick time and it seemed like Dhoni’s decision to bowl first was vindicated. But when NJ O’Brien joined Porterfield in the middle the balance started to shift. The pair played sensibly to launch a brilliant counterattack. At this point India’s weakness in the bowling department raised its ugly head again.

Pathan, Bajji and Chawla were rather ineffective against the Irish pair as they looked geared up for a big total. Chawla was once again disappointing as he erred on the shorter side time and again to get cut and pulled by the batsmen. Bajji was steady without being threatening and same with Yusuf Pathan. When the proceedings seemed to be running out of control for the Indians, Dhoni introduced Yuvraj into the attack and suddenly everything kind of fell back in place for the men in blue. Yuvi broke the threatening partnership and the wickets started falling in regular intervals for the Irish. They were finally bowled out for 207 with Yuvi finishing with career best 5-31, his first five wickets haul. What a brilliant and timely spell that was for the Indians. After his introduction the luck changed for the Indians so much so that they even had couple of reviews going their way.

India had to chase 208 in 50 overs under lights and this was the first time Dhoni’s team was batting second in the world cup 2011. The top order stuttered a bit during the chase and was struggling at 100/4 when the captain joined India’s bowling hero of the day Yuvraj. Both of them played sensibly picking up ones and twos and hitting occasional boundaries. When Dhoni got out to Dockrell, the game was almost over. Yusuf Pathan came in and calmed the nerves of the fans by hitting couple of sixes. India won the game by 5 wickets with Yuvraj getting to 50 not out. It was a great game for the left hander as he took 5 wickets and a fifty in the same game.

It was a good win for the Indians as this got them back to the top of group B. India play Netherlands on Wednesday and that would be the best time to look at some options in the bowling ahead of the more important games. Chawla for sure needs to be rested as he has looked completely out of depth in the two games. Ashwin can be tried in his place. Munaf has been steady but can be rested for one game to see how Nehra has shaped up after the injury. India needs to try these options to make sure that all the bowlers are match fit. The game against Netherlands could be the last chance for India to try out some new combinations in the bowling department. The bowling and fielding except for the spells from Zaheer and Yuvraj looked rather flat again.

This would for sure be a big worry for the Indian think tank. So I hope that there would be few changes in the squad for the next game.

Dhoni and Kirsten will have serious headache when sitting down to decide on India’s bowling combination for the next game against Ireland. After watching the Irish win against England, the Indians would have known that this is anything but an easy game. The Indians tried 3 pace/1 spin option in the first game and then tried 2 pace/2 spin in the second but both combination met with limited success. The failure of the Indian bowling attack to defend an imposing 338 runs against England at home will be a bitter pill to swallow.

The problem for the Indian team right now is that except for Bajji and Zaheer there is no sure starter in the bowling department. Munaf Patel has been steady without being threatening and Chawla was treated with disdain by the English batting who are traditionally suspect against legspin. So there lies a problem for the Indians. The team does not have too many options either. There is Ashish Nehra in the pace department who hasn’t been tried and there is Ashwin who is yet to get a chance. Sreesanth was poor in one game he played and so was Chawla. One thing which is certain is that we will see a change in the bowling for the Sunday’s game.

The confusion though would be whether to go with the tried and tested formula of 3 pacers or give the 2 spin option another try? This will be something for the Indian think tank to ponder over the next 48 hours. The Indian team would know that Nehra is prone to injuries and should be played only if he is 100% fit. The other option they would want to look at is Ravichandran Ashwin, but that would make too many offspin options in the team. As far as I am concerned, even though Chawla had one bad game he still gives the team an attacking option. The Irish struggled against Swann, so spin I feel is the best way to contain them as the pitches aren’t pace friendly.

The batting of the Indians again will be the most important factor in Sunday’s game. The Indian batting order needs to make another huge score as we know that any team can chase over 300 runs. The pitches are so flat that it does not matter if you are playing Ireland, Netherlands or England, the result could be the same. India doesn’t have the firepower of the Aussies in pace nor the variety of a Pakistan or South Africa so they need to play on their strength. As Dhoni said it seems like the batsmen need to score 350 every time they step on the field. It’s daunting but that’s how it is right now. Whatever may be the combination India goes with, a good solid performance in the field will go a long way in resurrecting India’s campaign. Dhoni and India will for sure know that.

Phew!! What a game it was? A tie, only 4th in the world cup and it was an exciting game. Dhoni won the toss and as expected decided to bat first on a flat track. India got off to a flier with Sachin and Sehwag. The Indian top order looked in great touch again as India scored runs at a fair clip without losing wickets. Sachin Tendulkar scored yet another hundred, his 47th in ODI’s to guide India to a mammoth 338.

Sachin received ample support from Sehwag and Ghambir. It was a brilliant innings by the master. He paced his innings to perfection and made sure that the scoring rate never dropped. Initially he took a back seat while allowing Sehwag to take the charge. When Sehwag was dismissed Sachin upped his scoring rate to make sure the run rate was never compromised. Yuvi and Dhoni took India past 300 but once they were dismissed, India lost wickets at a heap to be bowled out for 338.

England began their chase in the right earnest as they kept their rate above 7 an over till a brilliant catch from Munaf ended Pieterson’s innings. Strauss though continued to dominate the Indian bowling; the introduction of spin had no impact on the English captain. Chawla dismissed Trott for 16 leaving England on 111/2. Ian Bell joined Strauss and kept the run rate going with sensible batting. They picked their gaps effectively as Dhoni was running out of options. The biggest turning point of the match came when Yuvi struck Bell right in front and the appeal was turned down. Dhoni after insistence from the bowler decided to refer the decision.

The replays showed that the ball was hitting in line and was crashing on to middle stump. Everyone including Bell knew that it was out but since the batsman was more than 2.5 meters forward from the stumps, the umpire in the middle (Billy Bowden) reinstated his decision. This shocked everyone including the English players in the middle. The rule did not make sense as the ball was hitting the stumps half way up and probably cost the game for India in the long run. Bell though continued his batting along with Strauss and almost batted India out of the game until Dhoni brought back Zaheer for one final time.

Zaheer though bowled brilliantly answering his captain’s call by nipping out 3 wickets in quick time, leaving England reeling. The 3 wickets included Andrew Strauss who played one of the best innings in a world cup scoring 158, his highest. Strauss never allowed the Indian bowlers to dictate to him and was very cool and collected in accumulating the runs. Bajji too joined the party as a wild slog from Prior found Raina at mid on. The Indian team now looked poised to win the game. With England needing 29 from two overs and Bresnan and Swann in the middle, Dhoni tossed the ball to Chawla. The English lower order weren’t going to give up easily as they crashed the Indian leggie for 15 runs in the over leaving 14 more to get in the last. Chawla though dismissed Bresnan with the final ball of his over.

Shahzad joined Swan in the middle and hammered a 6 of the 3rd ball of the Munaf over to help England tie the game. It was a great game of cricket but I would say that in the end Strauss would have been disappointed and Dhoni relieved. The Indian captain though did not hide his frustration at the end of the game as he said that the bowling needs to improve. He also added that the batting cannot score 350 in all the games. It was a brilliant game with two great hundreds and I felt that neither of them deserved to be on the losing side. So a tie was probably a fair result. The Indian think tank needs to figure out the ideal bowling combination for their next game against the Dutch which can be a potential banana skin game for the hosts.

Ricky Ponting in his recent interview said that minnows have no place in the world cup. I feel that that was pretty harsh statement and I feel sorry for the associate nations. The associate nations hardly play any major games and their only opportunity to showcase their talent is the world cup. ICC (International Cricket Council) is to be blamed for this situation. The associate nations have not always been a push over. They have given us some amazing games in the past and have helped throw the tournament wide open.

Who can forget the brilliant Kenya defeating WI in the 1996 world cup, Bangladesh defeating Pak in 1999, Kenya making the semis in 2003 and also Ireland defeating Pak in 2007 world cup? So it’s not as though these teams are here to just make up numbers, they have played some great cricket in the past. Yes I agree that these teams also are part of some pretty one sided affairs, so what? There are 19/20 years olds of these nations, whose dream is to play for their country and represent them at the world stage. World cup is their chance; no one knows when these teams would graduate from being an associate nation. The frustrating part is that ICC doesn’t seem to care about the same.

Kenya a very competitive team few years back has gone south rapidly. Lack of matches at the major level can be a reason. Kenya went back to wilderness after their stunning world cup exploit. They should have at least been a full member ODI side playing regularly against top International teams. The ICC faltered big time there. The sub-continent power helped Bangladesh to graduate to a full member very soon, even though they were not ready for such a giant leap at that time. The Associate nations qualify for the world cup and then no one knows what they play and what sort of practice they have ahead of such major tournament. You cannot expect a team which plays a test side once in 4 years to suddenly transform into world beaters.

The Dutch proved yesterday that these teams need to be given a chance. Netherlands team almost pulled off an upset against the English yesterday. The Canadian team also had their moment in the warm up games. This shows that these teams might lose most of the times but they have it in them to perform at this level. The enthusiasm and the passion with which these teams play in spite of being thrashed is a fantastic example. The ICC needs to make sure these teams are prepared to participate at this level in a major event. The drastic leap in standard between Associate level and International level can be very difficult for the teams to bridge.

The ICC should at least let the qualified teams to participate in domestic leagues of full member nations to get a glimpse of competitive cricket. The ICC can sure make some sort of arrangement with the respective boards. I don’t think we should just dismiss these teams but need to find a way to get these teams to be more prepared and ready for such an event. If we ignore these teams completely then the world will never know the Tikolo’s, the Ryan ten Doeschate’s of the world. These talents need to be showcased and what better than a world cup for them to do that? Every young player has a dream of playing in the world cup and we should not take away that dream in haste.

India began their 2011 campaign yesterday with a convincing win against the Bangladesh. With the memories of the 2007 game still fresh in the mind of players and fans alike, the Indian team needed to get to a good start against Bangladesh. Sakib putting India in after winning the toss was a blessing in disguise for the nervous Indian team. All the talks of revenge before the game by the players only showed how much the team was hurt by that loss in 2007. So the last thing the team needed was a chase under lights against the host.

So when Sachin and Sehwag went into bat the intent was pretty clear. They wanted to attack the new ball and they did that with style. Sachin’s run out brought Ghambir to the crease with whom Sehwag shared another 83 runs. When Ghambir was dismissed for 39 India was placed pretty well with Sehwag already blazing way. This was the perfect time for world cup debutant Virat Kohli to make an entrance. With the game excellently setup, he just had to play and second fiddle to a rampant Sehwag. Sehwag and Kohli plundered the tigers attack, to share a brilliant 203 run partnership and by the time Sehwag exited for a brilliant 175 the match was already beyond Bangladesh. India finished with a mammoth 370/4 with hundreds from Sehwag and Kohli and for sure would have been a great relief for the Indian camp.

Bangladesh began their improbable chase in the right earnest. Kayes and Tamim started in a blazing fashion hammering Sreesanth for 24 runs in one over. After Kayes was dismissed by Munaf, Bangladesh even though did not lose too many wickets, seemed to be in no hurry. Tamim and captain Sakib shared a good partnership without being overly aggressive and the pressure finally got to the host. The final 5 wickets fell in a jiffy and they finished with 283/9 in 50 overs losing by 87 runs to India. India though would have been extremely happy with the performance of the top order as everyone looked in great touch.

Sehwag was brilliant throughout as he attacked the Bangladesh bowlers mercilessly on his way to his highest ODI score. Virat Kohli too justified his inclusion in the team ahead of Suresh Raina with a measured hundred. It was not all smooth sailing for the Indians though, the bowling and fielding surely needs a lots of improvement ahead of the important game against the English. India would surely want to revisit the bowling combination ahead of the next game. Sreesanth looked terribly out of form and was all over the place. Considering how well Munaf and Zaheer bowled, it was surely a bad performance by the Kerala speedster.

I am thinking India should seriously consider going with 2 spin/2 pace attack against all the teams. India’s strength is spin and I think no matter whom the opposition is India should play two spinners. The other aspect India should improve a lot is the fielding as the captain himself suggested after the game. The fielders barring a few in the game looked pretty lethargic and there were lots of misfields in the outfield. This might come to haunt us in the big and crucial games. So even though there is some scope for improvement for the Indian team ahead of their next game this was a very good performance. The batting which is India’s strength seems to be in excellent form which bodes well for the rest of the tournament.

Bangladesh has been taken care of and the early jitters seem to have been passed. India now would be playing England in their next game who is a much tougher opposition. The game will be played in Bangalore where the Indian spinners troubled the Aussies a lot in the warm up game. So Chawla might be included in the place of Sreesanth for that game. All in all this was a good beginning for the Indians to kick off their campaign. Dhoni will be extremely thrilled to have gotten the first game out of the way.

Historic Eden Garderns will not host an Indian game this world cup

Another major event in India and we have yet another controversy. This time it is the cricket world cup. ICC recently conducted their review of the stadiums hosting world cup games and found that Eden Gardens, Kolkata was not up to the mark. They snatched the India-England game which was scheduled to take place there on the 27th of this month and are contemplating taking away the other games too. This is really a shame on the part of both the CAB (Cricket Association of Bengal) and BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India).

All the stadiums had ample time to prepare for the world cup. It’s not as if the venues were decided at the last minute. The tier 1 test grounds in India hardly get international games, so there is no reason for them to fall behind the schedule. Apart from the IPL, the only International game I can think of last year was the test match between India and South Africa in Feb 2010. Surely money cannot be the issue either considering the wealth the BCCI has at their disposal. So what can be the reason for this debacle? It’s for sure the mismanagement of the Indian administrators. I am not sure when the administrators will realize that such mismanagement affects the pride of the country overall.

When ICC (International Cricket Council) said that Eden was not up to scratch, BCCI was immediate in washing their hands of the matter. The BCCI said that they should not be blamed for this scenario. It’s very strange that the cricket board of a country in which a mega event is about to take place make such a statement. But BCCI for sure had the guts to ask ICC to provide an extension, why would they do so? The World Cup was about to begin in 2 weeks and if the stadium wasn’t ready, it deserved to be pulled out.

Bangalore was finally announced as the venue for the India-England game and the decision is still pending on the rest of the games. I just feel sad for the cricket fans of Bengal as they would be really disappointed to miss out on a high profile clash. The cricket fans of Bengal are one of the most passionate followers of the game. Eden Gardens might not be the best stadium in India but is a very historic and high profile venue and it is a shame that they would not be hosting the games if the ICC decides to pull out the rest of the games too. The CAB and the BCCI are to be blamed collectively for this oversight. Even though the games will go on and the ICC or the BCCI would not lose their sleep over the change of venue, the only loss will be of the fans. I don’t think the BCCI or the CAB cares about them anyways.

It’s great for Bangalore though as they have gotten another big game in their kitty but again, the only people to suffer as always are the fans.

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.


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