India play Pakistan in a high intensity dead rubber


Cricket Exclusive

CT13 India vs. PakistanHow is this for a dead rubber, India vs. Pakistan in an ICC tournament. Dead rubber? You kidding me! Whatever be the stage or situation, this is mother of all clashes.

It really doesn’t matter if one team has qualified for the semis and the other is already out of the tournament. This one is not about qualification or otherwise, they play for pride and all is at stake.

For starters, India has been at their best throughout till now and Pakistan’s batting has failed miserably. Clearly the odds favour Indians but you never know which Pakistan side turns up on Saturday and then odds suddenly look so lame. Primarily it’s going to be Indian batting against the Pakistan bowling and whichever triumphs will emerge match winner.

The most exiting part of any India-Pakistan game is the energy that is on display from each of the 22 players. Everyone brings on their A-game and the atmosphere is all charged up. And trust me it would be full team this time around as well, no team will test their bench strength, not at least in a ‘dead rubber’ :)

Shikhar Dhawan and Dinesh Karthik have done particularly well in this tournament and so have some of the other guys. The Pakistan bowlers, both fast and spin also have bowled pretty well, just that their batsmen have let them down and thus it is going to be a good contest.

Also probably for the first time in this tournament there would be a balance in the crowd in terms of fans cheering for their sides. Till now whenever India or Pakistan played against other teams their fans have always outnumbered the others. So much so that in the Pakistan’s game against South Africa at Oval, London 95% of the spectators were Pakistan fans. Also at Edgbaston particularly, Pakistan always have had a huge no. of fans come in to support their team and that’s unlikely to change.

So let’s set ourselves for a high intensity ODI where one of the best sporting rivalry would be on showcase. Its going to be a treat. Its no dead rubber. But let’s just pray to the rain gods that it doesn’t come down on the ‘Super Saturday’.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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Champions Trophy 2013 Tickets – Selling like ‘Hot Cakes’


Champions Trophy TicketsIt’s 3 more days to go before the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 commences in England & Wales and the stage looks set just right for a super exciting tournament. The warm-up games plus the ongoing NatWest Series between England and New Zealand are those little teasers that make one sigh and think – ah! what an atmosphere for good three weeks of ODI cricket. It suddenly brings back memories of those nail biting finishes that we all have witnessed sometime, from the greatest matches played on the world stage.

Yes, now we have all these fast paced T20 games, both domestic and international, that bring so much in terms of thrill, but we all know how beautiful is a nicely poised, well fought 50 over game. Such delight!

TV networks are also doing a great job reviving ODI cricket and are pre-selling the tournament splendidly. In case you have seen the new ‘Champions Trophy on HD’ promo on ESPN-Star, you know what I mean. Take a bow creative team for this promo, and particularly for that last shot which shows the cricket ball with dust particles around it…in HD. You guys have taken the visual experience of sports telecast on television to an entirely new level and I must tell you, its just great for the game.

And if this gets you thinking that all the cricket lovers are glued to their television sets and stadiums aren’t attracting as many spectators. Well, think again. Its crazy out there and tickets for ICC Champions Trophy 2013 are selling like hot cakes.

Champions Trophy is being played in England for the second time, and the interest it is drawing is more than ever. The Oval, Edgbaston and The Cardiff Wales Stadium, three venues for this tournament are expecting full-house for most of the matches. For records, as it would happen anywhere in the world, the June 15 India vs. Pakistan encounter at Edgbaston is already ‘SOLD OUT’.

Multiple vendors and various ticketing partners like TicketMaster, LiveNation Entertainment and others are offering tickets both online and over the counter. Ticket prices are ranging from £20 for group games (family stand) to £60 (Gold) for the big final at Edgbaston. Whatever row, whichever stand you get, go grab your tickets and don’t miss out upon a chance to cheer your favorite team right from the buzzing stadium. Some tournaments are special, and being the last Champions trophy edition this one is special for sure.

I have my ticket for the finals. And if you happen to get yours, then see you in Edgbaston. I’ll be there with my face painted in my team’s color, dancing and jumping in hope that some cameraman notices me and I show up on the big screen :) !

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

‘Champions Trophy 2013’ aka ‘ICC Knock-Out’ aka ‘Mini World Cup’ – Last but not the least!


ICC Champions Trophy 2013IPL jerseys have gone for laundry service and it’s time for the players to put on their nation’s colour. 6th of June is when the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 commences in immensely cold conditions of England and Wales which is going to be in stark contrast to hot and humid Indian weather that some of the players witnessed during the IPL 6.

Champions Trophy the name that this tournament got in 2002, is probably the most popular and reputed ODI tournament in the world, only next to the ICC World Cup. It started as ICC Knock-Out Tournament in 1998 and had always drawn huge interest and audience. This time around, because of the fact that it’s going to be last edition of the tournament there is huge excitement around it and the teams are absolutely keen to do well and end on a high.

This 2013 edition has Australia, England, Sri Lanka and New Zealand placed in Group A, while in Group B, India, Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies would fight it out against each other during the round-robin stage. Every one of these teams is capable of winning the title, but given the conditions, teams which have bowlers who can bowl fast and swing it, and have batsmen who can counter swing are more likely to make an impact. Due to home advantage, England are slight favorites but we just cannot rule out anyone. India has a super strong batting order as always, Australians are ready with their game plan and strategies all the time, West Indies have some big match winners and Pakistan are unpredictable as ever. And so, the thrilling contests are guaranteed.

All the matches of the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 will be played at three venuesSophia Gardens (Cardiff), Edgbaston (Birmingham) and Kennington Oval (London), with the final to take place in Edgbaston on the June 23rd.

We at Cricket Exclusive will keep sharing all the updates relating to results, standings and match analysis, all through this three-week tournament. So stay tuned and enjoy!

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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

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

Duckworth-Lewis, What a relief !


Taken by myself, this morning, at the Sydney C...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ICC World Cup 1992, 2nd Semi-final – England vs. South Africa, Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). SCG was buzzing with capacity crowd. It was March 22 and when rain stopped play for the last time during this match, 22 (off 13 balls) were precisely the runs required for South Africa to make it to the World Cup final. South Africans didn’t know then, that, when play resumes they would be faced with their worst moment after a long 21 years exile from international cricket. When the play resumed, they did know. The large screen at SCG displayed, 22 REQUIRED OFF 1 BALL.

Cricket is primarily an outdoor sport and like any other outdoor sport, a possibility of it being interrupted by rain or bad weather is always on cards. For years, various rules have been applied to calculate targets in curtailed games. South Africans, at SCG, found themselves at receiving end of one such rule. The rule applied during this game was the “best scoring overs” rule. As per this rule, for the amount of time lost due to interruption, no. of overs that the side chasing gets to bat are reduced proportionately. And, the achievable target is arrived at by adding up runs scored in the ‘best scoring’ overs of the previous innings. So, let’s consider an over lasts for approximately four minutes, if 20 minutes are lost due to interruption, a team gets to bat five overs less and they would be chasing a target by including runs from five ‘best scoring’ overs of the first innings. Thus, in such a situation, if five maidens are bowled in the first innings, target for the team chasing remains unchanged, though they lose five overs. At SCG around 10 minutes were lost in that fateful semi-final. Well, some rule, but not quite.

Two English statisticians, Duckworth and Lewis, addressed this problem and provided a beautiful solution that is now being used in all modern day limited over cricket formats. It is scientific, mathematical, logical and thus widely acceptable. The core concept on which Duckworth-Lewis (D/L) method has its foundation is ‘available resources’. Resources in this context means remaining overs and wickets in hand. As per this rule, these two resources, more or less define a team’s chances of chasing down a target. Thus, at a given point of time, if a match has to be abandoned due to rain or any other reason, a potential victory or defeat is assumed to be based on wickets standing and overs remaining. D/L have nicely derived a table in which, if you input remaining overs and wickets in hand, you know how much is a team looking at.

For D/L to apply, a minimum of 20 overs in an ODI game and at least five overs in a T20 game should have been completed. A major criticism of D/L is, that via this rule, result of a game is driven more by wickets standing than by overs remaining, and thus that ‘balance’ between the ‘resources’ is missing. But isn’t it so much better than what we saw at SCG, ahh, such a relief !!! WW6PXY4QQTKV

Pakistan needs a genuine all-rounder!!!


Shahid Afridi

(Photo credit: R@VITH)

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Against all odds, in the last two ODI’s against the Sri Lankans, Pakistan somehow managed to make their way through winning moments and achieved – Loss. After their success in the Asia Cup, fans expected them to put up a decent show against Sri Lanka given the fact that most top Lankan players have been playing back to back cricket series including a long IPL which saps a lot of energy, as opposed to the Pakistanis who were relatively fresh. However, that was not to be.

Till the last game of the series Pakistan were searching for that ‘Right’ combination, imagine they played three quicks in the last game. Three quicks, really, on a Premadassa pitch, huh, you’re kidding me. But that’s how they operated for last 15 days or so. They looked like winning in patches but never commanded the opposition. Nothing to take away from the Lankans, but, Pakistan played in their own hands.

Biggest of all, they missed a genuine all-rounder. Someone who is more of a batting all-rounder. At times they played an extra bowler, and they felt they are a batsman short. Then they played an extra batsman and their fifth bowler was taken for plenty. They clearly need someone like an Abdur Razzaq to balance it all. Shoaib Malik won’t be a bad choice either; neither would be a Hammad Azam. But for that to happen, the management, coach and captain must understand the value that a genuine all-rounder brings. At this point, not sure they do.

Afridi and Hafeez are the ones in current squad who qualify as all-rounder’s on paper but none of them kept up to the reputation. Hafeez failed with the bat repeatedly and Afridi, well, however big a match-winner he is, his consistency would always remain an area of concern and he has fired rarely of late.

Pakistan also needs to address their batting otherwise. Yonouis Khan as an ODI choice doesn’t seem too good, he has consistently failed to pace his innings. Top-order has no spine and is a very defensive lot. Umar Akmal is unnecessarily aggressive and overall there is no balance. The way to go – bring back Kamran Akmal, he may be an average wicket keeper but a fine batsmen, get Imran Nazir if he gets out fine, but if it’s his day, he wins the match for you, bring Abdur Razzaq, he is a must play man, I cannot fathom the reasons that he isn’t and if possible Hammad Azam too, he requires grooming but this is the phase when that should be done.

They are a bunch of talented cricketers but they need more order and some able guidance.

Dave – Are you listening!!!

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 !!!