All it took was just one match and here we are folks, the last ball thrillers are back! Royal Challengers Bangalore vs. Mumbai Indians last night, with many a twist in the tail, eventually ended with a breath taking last over from the T20 specialist Vinay Kumar. When Vinay Kumar ran into bowl the final ball of the match, the result still hung in that very famous uncertainty which IPL brings to millions of fans this time of the year, each summer. I don’t know precisely what percentage of spectators were thinking that either side could win, but 99.99 % wouldn’t be a bad guess at all, when you know it was the big boy Pollard facing on the other end.
This is what makes this league so exciting to watch and this is what moves cricket lovers around the world. Moreover the booming ticket sales is a good indicator of the fact that fans are also keen to come to stadiums to watch the action and although IPL still remains a big television phenomenon, people are storming in to the witness it all, LIVE.
IPL6 has arrived and the excitement has just begun. The rare spectacle with Sachin and Ponting opening an innings together is sufficient enough to set the expectations sky high and one has to cut deep to find reasons as to why this edition won’t live up to it. Stay Tuned, we are just about fastening our seat belts!
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!
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.
They are a tough team, look balanced, have multiple match winners and are a strong contender to win this edition of ICC World Twenty20. Yet, amidst all this, a loss tonight and they could be boarding a flight back to the Caribbean. After losing to the Aussies last Saturday on Duckworth-Lewis, when it rained heavily at Premedasa, West Indies face a must win situation against Ireland. No doubt they’ll come hard at the Irish but in T20 cricket you never know, remember, no underdogs!
If we look at the other groups, they all are more or less decided. So we know which teams from those groups are going to be in the super eights, except may be a potential upset if Pakistan loses heavily to Bangladesh, though that seems highly unlikely; Pakistan has looked good. In group B however we are looking at this do or die game. The question to be asked is – Can West Indies handle these two tonight: ‘pressure of a must-win game’ and ‘the Irish zeal for glory’.
Well, if we compare the two sides and their current form, Windies are a clear winner. The way they batted against Australia was superb and if they can repeat that against Ireland they definitely are a huge challenge for the Iris. They have the big power players in the likes of Gayle, Smith, and Pollard along with the T20 specialist Bravo. Their bowling probably needs a bit of attention as against the Aussies their bowlers gave away too many easy runs. They have to mark their areas to ball; experimenting too much can be risky. They may also consider playing an extra bowler that can bring some balance to their bowling attack; currently they bank extremely heavily on Sunil Narine.
Irish on the other hand have nothing to lose. Though they too are aiming for a super eight spot, the amount of pressure on them in not as much. Even if they put up just about decent performance they should be happy on their way back home. But mind you, they are capable of more; England and Pakistan can tell you that from their past experiences :). Kevin O’Brien is one guy in their ranks who can really turn it on.
Overall if West Indies can do the basics right, not take too much pressure and play their top game they should win, else we are looking at something very exciting in Colombo tonight.
Pune play today’s and reminder of their games this IPL without Dada. There is also the news that this may well be Ganguly’s last IPL. Pune have nothing to lose but they can definitely spoil someone’s party. Steven Smith would be leading the side in Dada’s absence and that gives some of the new guys an opportunity to get off the bench and on to the field. Ganguly hasn’t scored too badly as a batsman this season; however, together as a group, except first few matches they never got going.
Bangalore look clear favorites here. The way Gayle played in the last innings makes it so difficult for oppositions. Because NOW, he is just not looking to hit, he wants to stay there and wait for his opportunities to score. That make him so much more dangerous because then he tends to play longer innings. Kohli also seem to be getting back in touch with is good news for Royal Challenger.
Overall, on current form, it looks like Vijay Mallya can keep smiling and Dada can keep his shirt on :)!!!