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

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

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

Bowlers are part of the game too, please don’t curate them off


IMGP3445_mitchell_johnson

(Photo credit: RaeAllen)

Lot of criticism goes around that Test cricket isn’t as exciting a format. It is not, but only when bowlers don’t get strips that are meant for good cricket. Cricket is fast becoming a batsmen game. With all these thick blades and small outfields, ‘bowler bashing’ is always on the cards. But whats disheartening to see from a bowler’s and cricketing aspect is – the pitch curators too aren’t helping the cause.

Around the world, pitches are becoming easier to bat and difficult to bowl. However, in the subcontinent, this is happening to an extent of disgust. It’s a shame that talented bowlers, especially fast bowler, burn out and breakdown given the long spells on flat, dusty lifeless tracks. Need of the hour is – PUT SOME JUICE IN THEM.

Cricket is a funny game, we all know that, but if pitches continue to be like they are, the game will become funnier (read ‘bad fun’) where the batsmen will incessantly thrash bowlers and fielders will just fetch the ball from boundary lines, all day long.

It titillates me immensely still whenever I recall the golden days of cricket. The days of the Malcom Marshall and Michael Holding, the days of Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram, the days of Dennis Lellie and Jeff Thomson, well, the days of REAL CRICKET. We were living the game then and not just watching the bowlers being hit out of the ground every delivery.

Someone has to address this before the game loses its charm and before we witness cricket matches with pneumatic bowling machines. Kids of next generation shouldn’t be robbed of the excitement of genuine fast bowling; it will hurt the whole fraternity, big time!!! WW6PXY4QQTKV

A Sri Lankan white-wash on a day when rain threatened to wash out


English: Mohammad Hafeez bowling during a 50-o...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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In Pallekele, it was overcast since morning and when such is the weather, despite a true batting surface to play on, all cricketing captains around the world are faced with the ‘Toss Dilemma’. And on one of these days, its always good to lose the toss. Misbah-ul-Haq was the lucky one on this occasion as Mahela won the toss and elected to bat first.

There were multiple interruptions due to rain, and on more than one occasion it threatened to wash out the game. But it was not to be, though it did result in a curtailed game; 42
overs each side.

It wasn’t Sri Lanka’s day and they never got going. Most of their batsmen got out attempting shots which were too ambitious given the conditions and class of Pakistan’s bowling. Gul, Tanvir, Sami, all three pacemen bowled fast and in right areas and made life really difficult for the Lankans. They were well supported by the spin trio of Ajmal, Afridi and Hafeez. A steady innings from Thirrimanne and a late cameo from Kulasakera took them past 100 but 135 was never going to be enough in a one day game. Other than the early loss of Azhar Ali there were not many hiccups in the Pakistan’s innings (Misbah’s run out was unnecessary though). It was a chase well executed.

As I mentioned in my last post too, its usually Pakistan’s batting that fails them and if their batsmen can manage even the ‘just about right’ batting performance, they are a very tough side to beat.

For second ODI on Saturday, at the same venue, both teams would want to apply themselves more, (even more in terms of batting) as conditions remain testing. Pakistan has all the momentum at the moment but we very well know how quickly it shifts between these two sides !!!