Indian Premier League 2013 – Of glory and temptations


Indian Premier League - Glory and TemptationsSo Mumbai Indians it is, the “IPL 2013 Champions”. In front of a capacity crowd at Eden gardens they played with great zeal to win and were probably against a very indifferent Chennai Super Kings (CSK) side. One would wonder if the CSK which turned up for this big final wasn’t really the celebrated familiar one. In fact, this one arguably stands out as the most ordinary of their performances this season.

That said, credit definitely goes to the Mumbai Indian boys for bringing out their A-game and holding the nerves better. They looked far more settled overall and ensured that CSK never got going. A run chase that deserved far more intensity didn’t see much of it for a large part of 20 overs, and Dhoni perhaps left it for too late even for his standards and reputation of hitting the long ball. The tournament began with some thrilling games but one would agree that the final promised more than it delivered.

Largely this IPL (just like its previous editions), was a great exhibition of power-hitting, superb acrobatic catches, remarkable bowling variations and of course glamour. But it sort of got uneasy for all as the reports of spot-fixing and corruption came out. Taste of an evening cricket extravaganza got sour. And amidst all that, IPL lost its charm and with it was lost the joy that this event brings to the cricket lover each year.

There is this feeling of “Money is bigger than Cricket at IPL” that surrounds it all the time, and as the news about corruption surfaced this feeling sank in deeper. Temptations got bigger and with it sportsmanship and work ethics took a back seat. They say that ’if it is too bright you tend to lose sight’, and with IPL’s pomp-n-show, seems it got too bright for some to see.

For a cricket lover, it is heartbreaking and it is devastating. It is catastrophic for the joyous feelings that we all have deep in our hearts, those feelings which we have nurtured since we got our first exposure to the game of cricket as a kid, feelings which take complete control of our emotions each time we see our favourite batsman take guard and each time that fast bowler we love comes steaming in.

But all is not lost, and there are lessons to be learnt for future. The last time when such a major fixing fiasco happened in late 90s, the cricketing fraternity probably didn’t affirm enough and measure taken were perhaps not enough to cleanse the system. This time around, we have another opportunity to get it right. Stepping down of people at position of authority may not be the solution, but if that can induce faith, facilitate transparent inquiry and proceeding, well that may be a way to go about it. But there are other ways for sure and the love for the game would find those ways. This game has had a glorious past and our hearts know that few aberrations just can’t kill its future.

It won’t be easy, but we live in hope.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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We’ll miss you Sir


Sachin TendulkarFor last two decades Indian cricket has revolved and evolved around this legend and it is a massive moment for the game when a great like him bids adieu to a format that he ruled whenever he walked out to bat during his brilliant and sincere cricket career. Without the master Sachin Tendulkar, Indian cricket won’t be the same and thus it is time for unprecedented transition.

When the little master arrived in late 80s what also arrived with him was a great sense of joy that came from watching him bat. This joy would be missed after him. There were great cricketers before his time and there will be great cricketers after him, but he is undoubtedly the greatest of all and his greatness is irreplaceable. More than anything else, his unmatched passion and love for the game makes him the greatest.

In Tendulkar the world cricket saw a great ambassador for the game and a superb competitor, and with his retirement from ODI cricket, fellow cricketers for a while would definitely feel a void in terms of level of competition, because the master did set some very high standards for himself and his approach did rub-off on others around him and on cricketers around the world.

Through this article, Cricket Exclusive wants to pay a heartfelt tribute to the genius. For more than two decades he ruled the game and hearts of everyone who watched him bat. Tendulkar is holy, and he is right up there. We’ll miss you Sir.

Photo credit: R@VITH

The World T20 Superman


Let us allow our imaginations to lunge big and let us envision something unknown. A cricketer with all the elements of success. One who can do no wrong, someone extremely powerful who hits each ball for a six, a super mystery blower and a lightening fast and safe fieldsman. A dream, someone we can call the World T20 Superman :) !!! Scroll down to see how he looks…

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The Ultimate T20 Player was created by Ladbrokes Cricket

ICC World Twenty20, there aren’t any underdogs anymore!


As I am writing this, the very exciting T20 tournament is barely 23hrs and some minutes away from being underway in this very scenic and beautiful island country located in the Indian Ocean. Folks, get ready for some high voltage cricket, the ICC World Twenty20 is here. If some of you have happened to watch the warm-up games you very well know what exactly are we looking at. The warm-up games, where nothing much was at stake, didn’t really look like warm-ups; we saw some very close games, with teams operating at high intensities, wanting to win to gain early momentum…and let me tell you, this tournament is setup quite nicely.

Twenty20: Lockyear Goes Long
(Photo Credit:pj_in_oz)

Few years ago when T20 Cricket hit the scene, fans and experts around the world wouldn’t have envisioned it to grow to its current stature. As it stands today, it is no less. The 4thedition of ICC World Twenty20 promises to be gem of a tournament and at the inception it looks so very balanced.

Over the years we have grown up watching sides play each other and invariably, before a particular match, we kind of know the stronger of two sides. With T20s, that has changed enormously. There are NO underdogs now. In the modern day T20s the side that plays better on the day has a huge chance of winning. The format is such, that few overs, a little cameo or an individual brilliance can change the course of a match.

No, we are not writing off the good sides, neither are we challenging the conventional wisdom that if one has to choose between two sides he can; of the two sides, one would have an edge over the other. We however are certainly telling this – ‘this format is not just for the elite’.

The reality is, when you have lesser time on hand, or let us say when you are in a format that requires a team to spend relatively smaller amount of time in the middle, which are basically fewer overs, the skills that really matter to win a game are so much different. Not to disparage good batting and bowling, but a lot of ‘other’ elements come into play and thus, its a totally different ball game.

A ‘Dilshan Scoop’, a ‘Warner’s swich-hit’ or an ‘Ajmal’s teesra’ are some of these ‘other’ elements. And these are the elements that make this format so awesomely fascinating to watch. Run-a-ball is a thing of past. If you are not going at a strike rate of over 130-135 you stand a decent chance of getting dropped the next game. Fast good length balls are not good enough; they are ‘meat and wine’. A T20 bowler must have multiple variations. A slower off-cutter, a regular bouncer, a slow bouncer and a reverse swinging yorker makes a decent portfolio and that is why guys who possess them are extremely successful in this format, someone like an Umar Gul or Lasitha Malinga.

This is different folks and for sure it is immensely thrilling; you never know what to expect. It is this format where a 30-ball hundred isn’t really surprising.

The ICC World Twenty20 2012 announces – There aren’t any underdogs anymore!

Take a bow Yuvraj, you are a true champion!


Yuvraj Singh at Adelaide Oval
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He was battling a rare germ cell cancer, the fighter was diagnosed with a tumour between his lungs; for him, it was life threatening and for his fans – shocking and awfully heartbreaking. Having gone through intricate medical procedures, after many long and tough months, Yuvraj Singh, arguably the toughest cricketer of our times has made a comeback to international cricket.

In a sportsperson’s life, nothing is worse than the sinking feeling of not being able to take the field and play due to some fatal injury, adverse health conditions or disability. So while Yuvraj’s body had to fight cancer his mind had to conquer this catastrophic feeling. And much to the belief of all his fans and anyone who knows Yuvi even remotely, he did triumph both. While chemotherapy did its bit on cancer, it was Yuvraj’s character, his passion for the game and longing for the cricket field that made him and the world see this day.

It was July 2002 at Lords in the Natwest Series final when the cricketing world witnessed a 20 year old fearless young man taking on a strong English bowling line-up to combat a mammoth target. This kid was Yuvraj Singh and he was helped in his effort by another very talented young cricketer Mohd. Kaif. That day we saw glimpses of the future of Indian cricket, just the way it would shape in the decade to come – intrepid, strong and very talented; through this exciting young cricketer – Yuvraj Singh.

Since that Lords evening in 2002, Yuvraj has played numerous brilliant innings of highest quality and authority to win matches for India in all forms. However his most memorable knock remains from the ICC T20 World Cup game at Kingsmead, Durban against England (he seems to have a special liking for the English) when he hit Stuart Broad for six consecutive sixes in an over.

He is a big match player and he has testified this in various major tournaments and yet again in the ICC World Cup 2011. Before the World Cup, he wasn’t in best of the form, but he raised his game and came back strongly to win India the World Cup; and himself – Man of the Tournament.

Winning the World Cup was huge. India danced, India roared, India bled blue. Celebrations were unprecedented and the mood across the country was dazzling. It was like whole of the India celebrating one grand festival. But when the news broke that Yuvraj was playing with symptoms of potential cancer, the world was taken aback. The warrior however was stoic as ever, he had a smile on his face and hope in his eyes.

People, he is back. The resilience he has shown during his terrible times says a lot about this man’s character. Take a bow Yuvraj, you are a true champion!

Test Cricket, the game’s most exciting form


(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

It all started with this particular form and it still remains most exciting and intriguing. The game of cricket has gone through immense change and has transformed from being a sport played by a handful of players in equally small number of countries to a universally recognized sport. Not just more countries are involved now but the perception about this sport has seen a significant contrast.

Few decades ago, who would have imagined that there would be such a huge viewership of this sport, who would have thought that the players themselves would pre-sell a tournament on TV, creative people alike will write the ‘Mehman-Nawazi’ campaigns and who would have imagined in their wildest of dreams that cricketers, yes cricketers would draw huge money from ad commercial endorsements…they aren’t footballers…

But all this has happened and so much more. Amidst all this however, test match cricket remains as beautiful and exciting as ever. The very fact that you can win a test match only if you have the capability to take 20 wickets, that means you get the opposition out twice in a match makes this form of the game so challenging. Man…you have all the time in the world but you must get them out twice and thus you must scale the ‘Wall’. Well we all know this, by the time Mr. Dravid retired he had made life of the bowlers around the world difficult not because of his ability to score at the quickest rate but because his unmatched talent of staying at the crease and fighting it out.

Another reason that makes Test match cricket extensively exciting is that it is everybody’s game and its not just about fours and sixes. Let’s not forget there are millions of fans who love bowling and fielding too and I bet they all love it when good bowlers run through batting line-ups. If I ask an average cricket follower about his memories of some famous wins of his favorite side, for sure he will mention some test wins. Who can forget VVS Laxman’s marathon innings of 281 at Kolkata or Harbhajan Singh’s back to back match winning spells in the same series or Anil Kumble’s 10 wicket haul at Ferozshah Kotla against the arch rivals Pakistan, Sehwag’s triple hundred at Multan, Tendulkar’s numerous innings…well the list is endless and mind you these efforts that I’ve listed are particularly from Indian players, there are so many more of such performances from players of various other nations which are equally splendid and tell us never ending tales of glory.

In any cricketer’s career, performing well in test cricket is one huge aspiration and it takes a lot to do well at this level.

The shorter forms of the game have arrived and they promise lot of entertainment, but still, nothing can match the excitement of the real cricket – Test Cricket, all whites and red cherry has its own charm !!!WW6PXY4QQTKV

10 Years On, Pakistan aim for a series win against the Aussies


English: Saeed Ajmal in the field during a 50-...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been 10 years since Pakistan won an ODI series against the Australians. Yes, it was the year 2002 when they last beat the Aussies to win a series. They have a good chance to change these stats when they play at their second home on dry pitches where their spinners can be really dangerous.

Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are scorching hot during this time of the year with temperatures soaring to around 45’C and this can test the fitness of both the sides, especially, Australians’ who aren’t much used to such conditions. More than the heat, its the humidity that really saps a lot out of the players. It is like a sauna in the middle, where the players sweat profusely and with dew cover in the outfield it a two prong battle — outplay the opposition and at the same time fight the dew.

Both sides have won a match each with the decider to be played at Sharjah on Monday-Tuesday night. Australian pacemen ran through the Pakistan batting in the first ODI and after few hiccups in the middle of Aussies innings, the new guns Bailey and Maxwell held their nerve to make sure Australians cross over the line safely. Pakistan’s spinners bowled really well but as the batting again failed to deliver it was little too much of an ask for them.

Pakistan however bounced back in the second ODI, with their spinners, especially the magical off spinner Saeed Ajmal again bowling tremendously well to confine Australians to a modest total of 249. It was followed by a superb almost run-a-ball innings of 97 from Nasir Jamshed who dominated the Aussie attack and Pakistan surpassed the total with more than six overs to spare to set up a comprehensive and convincing victory. For a long time now Pakistan is in search of a genuine opening batsman and it seems with the arrival of Jamshed this wait is over. He just needs to watch out his injuries.

The decider promises to be an exciting contest with both sides looking to end on a high which would give them a psychological advantage ahead of the T20 series. Australia may make a change or two in their line-up by considering playing an additional spinner. For Pakistan, if Afridi recovers from his strain he may come back in place of Rehman whose figures were not too impressive in the last game. Also, with Afridi you have a potential chance of dominating the game if he fires with the bat. Though on that, I rest my case :) !!!WW6PXY4QQTKV

Unmukt Chand – Has he arrived?


(Photo Credit: zimbio.com)

He saved his best for the finals. After an ordinary tournament with the bat, he produced the innings of his life, just when it mattered the most. Unmukt Chand, man of the moment has arrived and this kid is a man for the future.

Indians were looking down the barrel and were under tremendous pressure. But Unmukt has a liking for batting under pressure as he has shown in some of his previous innings too. Much like his name connotes he played with freedom and Aussie had no answers to his shots. Half way into the Indian innings, what looked like a formidable target to chase was surpassed with ease and India won their third ICC U19 Cricket World Cup.

Australians were eyeing their fourth ICC U19 World Cup win and would’ve been disappointed to lose at home. But Unmukt outplayed them, completely. He didn’t take much risk while he was building his innings and nicely did the repair work with Samit Patel and when the game was under their control, man did he cut loose. His sixes were worth watching; especially the one over extra cover that kept going forever.He was the real difference on a day when it was so evenly poised between the two sides.

He is being compared to his Senior Delhi player, Virat Kohli. Well, it is good to appreciate the talent but such comparisons are funny. I mean, why can’t a player be loved for what he is and what he has achieved, why can’t he enjoy this glory and not being subject to some benchmark. I absolutely fail to understand.

He and his team has done the country proud. He and his team deserve all the applause and we can definitely do without unnecessary comparisons.

India loves you Unmukt !!!WW6PXY4QQTKV