Yes, a bit of it makes the game exciting, but exactly how much is the question.
For 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
As I write this, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni are fighting it out in the pre-lunch session on Day 3 of the final test match between India and England. The duo is battling hard to save the test and thus the series. But with Monty and Swann turning the ball and Jimmy Anderson working some reverse swing, things are not looking too bright for the Indians.
First things first, considering that India lost four early wickets last night, Kohli’s and Dhoni’s foremost task here should be to take India to safety. It is to take themselves as close as possible to England’s first innings total and stay positive during the course of the play. Because, like we know, cricket is a funny game and test cricket is even funnier, so expect anything.
In this series, we have had three results from three games and that sounds exciting. In fact the pitches which were prepared for these three tests were seemingly very home side friendly. And like I said in my post last month, England during initial part of this tour looked as if they would be challenged hard on such pitches. But it has been a dramatic turnaround with England using these pitches better than Indians and scoring two very convincing wins.
Come the final test match at Nagpur and accidentally or otherwise the pitch on offer here doesn’t seem good enough for test match cricket. It is slow, it is low and it is definitely heartbreaking for a cricket fan. Dead pitches suck life out of the game and whatever be the result in the end, the journey to that result isn’t enjoyable and you would agree: that defeats the whole purpose of the actual result, be it a win or a loss.
If test cricket has to stay a form which can pull fans to the stadiums, pitches need to be re-looked at and more than the pitches, what needs to look into is that ‘thing’ which results to such pitches. Is it the soil or something else? Whatever it is, the reality is: dead pitches are horrible for cricket. The hopes of revival are not dead though!
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
At the Heathrow airport, the moment they checked-in to fly to the Indian sub-continent, English side would have known this for sure. They would have known that they have two very tough oppositions to defy in order for them to maintain their reputation of a good all-round test side.
Two oppositions being – ‘the Indian side’ of course and ‘the sub-continent conditions’.
For past many years, England have been on top of their game when it comes to test match cricket. But to prove to the world that they are a good all-round side, the sub-continent challenge must be conquered. And make no mistake; this challenge is their biggest this year.
As I write this, England is falling apart. At lunch on day 3 of the 1st test match, they are 110/7 in response to the huge Indian score of 521/8d and clearly looking at a follow-on. One wonders what has suddenly gone wrong, what is it that a champion side like them as one TV commentator mentioned have ‘a noose tightened around their throat’? The answer, well, as most would agree is that they try too hard when up against good quality spinners on turning tracks… It is all in the mind.
If one watches closely the way English batsmen have got out, it can be noticed that they don’t have a clear approach towards playing spin. There is too much pre-meditation, there is over-complication in the manner the shots are being played and there is absolutely no attempt to simplify the method to go about things. Let me be very clear here, these players are top quality with no dearth of skills but at the moment their mindset is such that everything they do seems to come back and choke them. They are either too defensive to the extent of using just the pads or they (read Bell) want to go after the bowling from ball one. Indians batted on the same pitch with so much ease. Sehwag and Yuvraj looked great but Pujara was just outstanding, playing everything straight and late, just how you play on these tracks.
Amidst English performance (non-), due credit must be given to the Indian spinners who bowled really well. However bad the opposition is batting, you still have to put the ball in the right areas. In fact Dhoni had so much confidence in ability of his spinners that his premier fast bowler Umesh Yadav came into bowl only in the 48th over of English innings.
Well, all is not lost for England and they can still come back into this long four match test series, if not this test match. But for that to happen Alastair Cook and the coach Andy Flower have to do some thinking and get their strategies right, very quickly.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
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…
The Ultimate T20 Player was created by Ladbrokes Cricket
Last but not by any stretch of imagination the least. We so eagerly waited for this day all through the last three weeks and really, what better we could have asked for; it was all worth the wait and here it is – the ICC World Twenty20 final, so beautifully setup.
Yes we can go by the old cliché that the best two teams of the tournament have qualified and in fact that wouldn’t be incorrect to say. But this time we can make one other statement too, that the two most distinct teams have made it to the finals. Look closely and you will see how distinct these two sides are in nature, their approach to the game, body language, stroke-making and attitude. While the Sri Lankans would nudge and slice, West Indies would seek to impose their power on the bowling, while Sri Lankans would be restrained, West Indians would be as flamboyant as it gets and while for celebrations Sri Lankans prefer cheers, high-fives and hugs the West Indians would go the ‘Gangnam’ style.
At the beginning of the tournament Sri Lankans to an extent were favourites to make it to the finals, given the nature of the pitches and overall home advantage. But Windies have definitely surprised some, and what a pleasant surprise; one that goes by as ‘one of the best’ cricket surprises of recent times. One wonders sometimes that if you take sides like West Indies out of the game or for that matter when sides like West Indies aren’t performing, how much charm the game loses. Yes, there still will be cricket but not as good-looking as with the West Indies performing. Of course, professional sports requires professional sportsmen playing in a professional mode, but make no mistake, end of the day these ‘sportsmen’ are humans and the spectators who come out to watch their sport are humans too and that is why the sport requires human element – the one with lot of emotions and little less out rightly ‘professional’. And this make us think, with this particular qualification West Indies has given a major face-lift to the modern day cricket and international cricket for its own sake requires, if fact really requires, West Indies to do well.
Well, if we talk about the contest tonight, it is going to be an excellent one. Both sides have their strengths and shades of weaknesses and its all about rising to the occasion. Chris Gayle we all know would be a big-big factor and he can make or break it. At post match presentation in the Australia game he made a very clear statement, where he said – we love Sri Lanka a lot, but we are sorry, the cup is oursJ. So Sri Lankans – get this man early if you want the crowds at Premadasa to dance tonight, else he and the other big boys around him are going to dance the ‘Gangnam’ style all through the night!
Photo credit: Wikipedia
Eight out of twelve have boarded a flight back home. Few expected and few not as much have made an exit at the super eight stage. And so, as we enter the final leg of the tournament we let ourself free fall, because anyways, anticipating what shall happen from here on is just not possible…let’s sit back and enjoy it.
Aahh, the knockouts, the sudden death and a hell lot of excitement that they promise. We did see some twists and turns all through the tournaments but one can argue that the best four sides have reached the semi-finals. So here is what we looking at – hosts Sri Lanka play a very unpredictable Pakistan in the first semi-final on Thursday and on Friday flamboyant West Indies take on a little shaken Australia. Sri Lankans look the best of these four, better balanced, carrying good momentum and they look like winning this one more than the others; of course they are playing at home so that would be added advantage, make no mistake – crowd will be behind them, absolutely, and do watch out for the numerous brass bands.
Their opponent in the semis, Pakistan, is the only team to make it to the last four in all the editions of ICC World T20 and that to an extent tells that their game is well suited for this format. Last time in St. Lucia, at the same stage in the tournament, they were shocked by a flurry from Mr. Cricket – Mike Hussey. This time they would want to turn it around.
West Indies seem to be going great and are in with a very strong chance. They face the Aussies for the second time in this tournament and would want to finish this one with the beautiful Gangnam dance. They have some big match winners in that side who are quite capable of destroying any attack on their day.
Lastly, let’s talk about the Australians. Well, this is the only championship that they are yet to champion and they would so want to win it. In fact, this time around they look like winning it too, a side that is quite balanced with a good mix of some very big hitter and T20 specialists. They were on a roll with the two Ws, Watson and Warner, blazing all guns but that Pakistan match has disturbed their rhythm a bit. That said, Australia is a very professional side and should be able to put that defeat out of their system when they take field against the Windies on Friday.
Fasten your seat belts folks, because from here, its gonna really launch!!!
What promised to be an intense romantic tale turned out to be a sorry one-sided affair. Of all the times that India and Pakistan have clashed in the recent past, this one stands out as the most lacklustre display by Pakistan. Nerves got better of them yet again and they were spooked enough to throw it away without showing any real resistance. Pakistan were at their “anxious best” and that pretty much describes the day for them. More than anyone else it was the skipper Mohd. Hafeez who went into his shell and never really came out till there were no more Indians left at the Premadasa.
Virat played a beautiful and commanding innings yet again and it is hard to find a better batsman around. All due credit to him for his performance but for Pakistan the match was lost even before Virat took guard. The way Pakistan batsmen batted is hard to explain. They made part-timers look like genuine bowlers who could do no wrong, Yuvraj in particular. Yuvraj bowled a good spell but in between he bowled numerous half-trackers which were punched to extra-cover or third-man for singles. On another day these were six hitting deliveries, right over mid-wicket, at least 85 meters; ask Shane Watson and he would know.
Afridi’s promotion didn’t make sense at all given the fact that he is seriously out of form and has turned into a bowler who can (read may), bat a bit. Also, with him coming at 3, the overall batting order gets skewed and someone like an Umar Akmal then has to walk in at 7, well, you don’t want your class A batsman bat that low, do you. In T20 you cannot have people who chew up deliveries at the top; that puts tremendous pressure on the middle and lower order.
Another strategic error that Pakistan management has made in this tournament is leaving out a match winner of the class of Abdur Razzaq. He, in matter of few overs can turn a match on its head. Also, with his experience he can bring some calm to this highly effervescent Pakistan side that can so easily fall apart in crunch matches. They are one side who really need someone to ease out the things a little. Razzaq can be the man for this job.
India held their nerves and thus emerged winner. There is something special about this Indian side; with skills they have the temperament to conquer big matches. Both India and Pakistan have one game each to go in the Super-eights and these are must win games for them. India seems to be on a roll after this win and looks like beating South Africa. Pakistan however have to be back with their A game to be able to fight a tough Australian side on the Super-Tuesday.
Day 1 of the Super Eights at ICC World Twenty20, and all of a sudden one feels how beautifully and fittingly written are these lines from Urdu poetry – “Aghaz aisa hai to Anjaam kaisa hoga” (if such is the inception, well, what to expect in the end). ICC World Twenty20 2012 has started to come into its own; super eights on day 1 itself has announced a cricket bonanza, which is ready to unwrap in the next two weeks – big time.
Game 1 of the Super eights between Sri Lanka and New Zealand went to super over after the scores ended in a tie. At one stage when Sri Lanka was chasing, around the 17th over, they were looking like chasing the target easily but some really good seam bowling by the Kiwis lead by Tim Southee made a match of it. Eventually however, a brilliant catch from Dilshan turned the fortunes in Sri Lanka’s favour and made sure they got the first two points.
In game 2, the West Indies showed why they are a big contender to win this edition. All through the 40 overs, what stood out was the West Indian spirit. There was no pressure on them whatsoever. They are one side who truly enjoy their game; the dance moves and the run out warnings from the very special Chris Gayle were titillating enough to make you dance along as well.
England looked a bit out of sorts. Though a late burst from Eoin Morgan who went at a strike rate of almost 200 did bring some hope to the Englishmen but his lone effort wasn’t enough. The surprising thing about the English chase was that they only lost four wickets, which means that they had set batsmen at the crease during their chase, and this to an extent raises some doubts on Alex Hales’s ability to pace his innings. Hales scored 68 from 51 balls and that, for an opener, as per the modern standards is somewhat on the slower side, given the fact that he stayed at the crease for almost the whole course of English innings and that too on the Pallekele batting paradise.
Overall, day 1 was full of excitement with two sides who did their basics better than the other two ending up on the winning side. Day 2 brings us two other very big and important group 2 games from Premadasa, Colombo. South Africa takes on Pakistan in the first of these, so be ready for the all greens battle and the battle of South African pace and Pakistan’s spin. Then late evening, India plays Australia which is a big-big game; the war of words have already begun and the sides are raring to go. The coming week promises a lot and it can only get better from here.
Alright…So all of you thought till ‘Super Eights’ things would be nice, calm and easy, teams can sing lullabies to each other, try different combinations in order to identify their best eleven and that there won’t be too many twists in the tale. Well, for some teams these imaginations did realize, but fairly tales aren’t told in the ‘group of death’ and here we are ready to witness this face-off tonight; which is all but comfortable for the two sides involved.
Bangladesh would take on Pakistan in last of the Group ‘D’ games (it also happens to be the last game in the ‘Group Stage’), that the ‘Bangla Tigers’ must win and win handsomely to be able to advance into the ‘Super Eights’. Here is the magnitude of this handsomeness – Bangladesh, in case they bat first, must win this game by a margin of at least 36 runs to better Pakistan on net run-rate. If they win by exact 36 runs they would still advance because they’ll be one up head-to-head. If however they happen to chase, number of overs that they’ll get to chase and advance would depend upon how much can Pakistan put on the board. For instance, if Pakistan sets them a target of 150, they must chase it down in 15.4 overs or less. Looks really tough given the way both sides have gone till now in this tournament, but who knows; one good innings or a deadly spell from someone.
If we briefly look at the teams, both sides have match winners on them. For Bangladesh Shakib-Al-Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim can spring a surprise with the bat plus they have some good spinners, their fielding is also very good. Pakistan on the other hand looks better balanced, with their bowling arguably the best of the lot; Saeed Ajmal – the magician, Umal Gul and Shahid Afridi can trouble any batting line-up; and their batting is also coming good of late. Nasir Jamshed in particular is a very good addition to the side. He is a guy to watch out for; his lofted sixes over extra-cover against the Kiwis were spectacular.
For records, of the 44 times these two sides have met, Bangladesh has won only once; that was in the 1999 ICC World Cup. So, Pakistan start as clear favorites but for sure they’ll be under lot of pressure; we know what sort of situation that infamous 1999 loss resulted in; and what we also know is – there is no reason it won’t repeat if they lose tonight.