" Cricket Etcetera was voted as the Best Cricket Blog by Google during the World Cup 2007 "

Saturday, March 31, 2007

An Empty Feeling

The most worrying facet of this World Cup has been the empty stadiums. Even for matches involving the home country, a full house has been a far cry. As I write this, England plays Ireland in a ground, more empty than full. With the sub-continental powerhouses already packed and gone, and now West Indies on the way out, there is a very real danger of the emptiness increasing. It won’t be a pretty sight for Cricket, were the semi-finals and final to be played in less than fully filled-up stadiums. Remember NKP Salve? If the story is to be believed, the denial of an extra pass for the 1983 final, to the then BCCI President is what firmed up his resolve to work towards shifting the base of Cricket from England to India. The rest, as you know, is history.

That in just 24 years, things should have come to such a pass – I don’t think even the P.A of the Dutch Cricket Board’s secretary will be denied an extra admit for the final this year, were he to bother asking for one. For all the hungama about the globalization of cricket, this is indeed a sad state of affairs.

If the ICC President were to be quizzed on this, his only likely defense would be – “That was England, this is the West Indies. There is a difference.” There is a difference indeed, but in circa 2007, at least the more important of the Cricket World Cup matches should see a full house, shouldn’t they? The second and probably more valid argument would be based on the pricing of the tickets. The ticket prices start from no less than 25$, which may be on the higher side for the local fans, and the pricing has been devised by the local organizing committees and not the ICC. But it’s called the ICC World Cup, ain’t it?

When the shop floors churn out defective products which somehow manage to reach the retail floors, the CEO of a company doesn’t blame the foreman or the distribution manager – he accepts it as his failure. That’s what the second of the 2 C’s in ICC all about. The word “committee” means - a person or group of persons elected or appointed to perform some service or function, as to investigate, report on, or act upon a particular matter. That particular matter, in general, is Cricket, and in particular, right now, is the World Cup. This Committee has been an abject failure on both counts – this one is just a new addition to their long list of failures.
As a fan, the empty seats hurt. When you are awake at 3 in the night watching a West-Indies match, you can't help wondering if there are not even 10,000 West Indians interested in following the fortunes of thier team. This has rankled Lara himself, who has been left wondering where the fans are. If it's the price thingey, someone needs to look into it, and soon.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

(: Team India :)

Indian News Channels (especially the Hindi ones), the Men in Blue, Indian cricket fans and the Board of Control for Cricket in India together make for one heady combination. Together, they have currently produced the world's most interesting and active rumour mill !! Rumours, especially when they come very cleverly mixed with facts sell like nothing else - and we are all buying them, big time now.

- "Dravid and Chappell will be sacked": unconfirmed BCCI sources. This easiest of the guesses has been mentioned in various media, some also going further mentioning the names of Yuvraj or Sachin, depending on whom they fancy.

- "Chappell bids adieu to Team India. He had an emotional good-bye chat with the guys in Trinidad." ( Aaj Tak)
- Sharad Pawar says strong action will be taken, and strong decision too.
- Sharad Pawar says everyone is over-reacting. It's just a match lost, nothign more. Do the English fans react like this after their team loses? "Media responsible for the team's loss." ( This one I heard myself, again on Aaj Tak)

- Just saw it on the telly: An Aaj Tak reporter on the Mumbai streets provoking fans. Guess what he asked? " Aap log cricket team ka kaise swagat karenge?" (How do you plan to welcome the Indian cricket team?)
- Suddenly today I noticed unusual interest in my blog on the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy. Apparently Pawar mentioned on TV about the Indian cricket board thinking of the idea of 2 cricket teams - India Seniors and India Blues. So there were quite a few people looking for the composition of the India Blues and that's how they reached the section on the India Blues team in the Challenger।
- On India TV, a footage from somewhere in central India showed a cricket fan frantically beating his chest, mourning the death of Indian cricket। Also the expected calls for boycotting products endorsed by cricket celebrities.
- Lots more. Just tune in to India TV / Aaj Taj / Star News or any other hindi news channel that you get. If not, try the world wide web.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Australia through to the Semis....

With Bangladesh and Ireland through into the Super Eight, the World Cup Cricket 2007 may have lost more sheen than it's obvious.
- For one, 11 out of the 24 matches in the Super Eight will feature either Bangladesh or Ireland. These teams may have qualified for the next stage, but are not expected to give any serious competition to the big 6. Except for another surprising day in case there is an upset, you can expect lots of non-matches.
- Under most likely scenarios, it's likely that at least one team will go into the semi-finals carrying 8 points and one more may carry just 10 points. What this means is that Newzealand and Australia, which carry forward 2 points and are expected to defeat Bangladesh and Ireland may get to the semis by winning just one of their big games. Effectively, you could almost be sure that Newzealand and Australia are as good as through to the semis.
So that leaves England, West Indies, South Africa and Sri Lanka to fight out for the remaining 2 slots. So much so for the Super-eight! - Just one victory against SA and England for Australia and NZ respectively have as good as guaranteed them a passage to the semis. The ICC needs to look into the format yet again, I think! May be a super-ten now so that commercial favourites India can somehow make it to the second round at least!!

An outside chance?

Bangladesh have lost 3 quick wickets, the score 37/3 and the batters are looking real shaky। Can India sneak in through the back door?
Abhi and Vinod - just the other day we were talking about upward revision of totals following the employment of Duckworth-Lewis. And it's happened today - Bermuda scored 94, but Bangladesh need 96 to win. (For Net Run Rate calculations, Bermuda's score will be treated as 95 now.)

World Cup Cricket: Super Eight Matches Schedule

In brackets, find the names of the TV Channels which will telecast the match live in India. While you can tune in to Sony Max for English and SAB TV for Hindi Commentary. While the pre-match programme, Extra Innings starts off at 5 pm India time ( 1130 am GMT), matches start at either 7 pm or 8 pm depending on the location.

March 27: West Indies vs. Australia (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
March 28: South Africa vs. Sri Lanka (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
March 29: West Indies vs. New Zealand (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
March 30: Ireland vs. England (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
March 31: Australia vs. Bangladesh (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 1: West Indies vs. Sri Lanka (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 2: Bangladesh vs. New Zealand (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 3: Ireland vs. South Africa (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 4: England vs. Sri Lanka (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 7: Bangladesh vs. South Africa (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 8: Australia vs. England (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 9: Ireland vs. New Zealand (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 10: West Indies vs. S Africa (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 11: England vs. Bangladesh (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 12: Sri Lanka vs. New Zealand (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 13: Australia vs. Ireland (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 14: S Africa vs. New Zealand (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 15: Bangladesh vs. Ireland (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 16: Australia vs. Sri Lanka (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 17: South Africa vs. England (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 18: Ireland vs. Sri Lanka (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 19: West Indies vs. Bangladesh (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 20: Australia vs. New Zealand (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)
April 21: West Indies vs. England (Live on Set Max and SAB TV)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Poor Little Billu

Little Billu was at school yesterday morning and the teacher asked all the children what their father did for a living. All the typical answers came out - doctor, govt servant, engineer, businessman, teacher, salesman, armyman. Everyone answered except Billu, but when he was repeatedly gauded by the teacher and the rest of the class he finally blurted out, " My father is an exotic dancer in a gay club and takes off all his clothes in front of other men. Sometimes if the offer is really good, he'll rent a cheap hotel and let a man sleep with him." The teacher quickly set the other children some work and took Billu aside to ask him if that was really true.

"No", said Billu. "He plays cricket for India, but I was just too embarassed to say."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Its all over

Friday, March 23, 2007

इंडिया need 255 to stay afloat (Match Fixing Contd..)

In case that headline looks latin to a few of you, let me clarify - that's India in Hindi and I've not done it deliberately. Thrice i tried writing India in the Roman script, but to no avail. Blogger translated that to Hindi each time, so I finally gave up.

Tony Greig has just disappointed Mandira Bedi with this bit of info - "Only twice before on this ground (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad) has a score in excess of 250 been successfully chased." From the look of things, there ain't much reason to disagree with Tony. Sri Lanka were in a spot of bother early on, and they recovered well to attain that score of 254. At one point, 240 looked the highest possible score they would reach and John Wright, commentating on Set Max had even sounded the possibility of 200. What John also said was that 240 was a 50-50 score which only suggests that anything over that should definitely provide the Lankans with an edge.

I just checked out William Hill - one of the top betting sites on the Internet. (no, no I didn't place any bets - that's illegal in India) What surprised me is that Will Hill is offering 1.66 for every buck placed on India but 2.10 for Sri Lanka. So, the bookies think that India are favourites to win. In the current muddled atmosphere, that leaves me with more than some food for thought.

Uthappa has failed twice in two attempts but if he could come good today, all will be forgiven. Sehwag is a defending centurion, Ganguly, Yuvraj and Sachin are in good nick. Dravid hasn't done much yet but he looks alright. What will be required is for 3 of the 7 batters to come good - that ways it doesn't sound a bad prospect. My feeling is it's going to be either Tendulkar or Ganguly who will put their hands up for India this night, though I don't mind anyone else joining in in the fun. There's a case for holding Ganguly back so that he could tackle the spinners in the middle overs but it's unlikely that Dravid will experiment today - after all his captaincy is at stake today.

If India wins today, they carry 2 points to the Super Eight plus they have at least one easy match against Ireland. All that they will need to do then is to win two of the remaining 5 matches and I'd fancy India's chances against England, Newzealand and West Indies. That's if we can first cross the Palk Strait successfully.

Match-fixing is driving me crazy

Have you ever wondered why the TV cameras never zoom in onto the coin after it completes its quick two-way journey and comes to a rest on the ground?

Dawood Ibrahim may be involved in Woolmer Murder

source: Sahara Samay
Giving a new turn to Bob Woolmer's death under mysterious circumstances, underworld don Babloo Srivastava has said that D-company head Dawood Ibrahim might have been involved in the suspected murder of Pakistan cricket coach, Sahara Samay sources said.
Talking to Sahara Samay, he said that Dawood is the biggest fixer of international matches. He further said that Dawood might have put on stake huge sum of money ranging between Rs 400 to 500 crore.The channel's correspondent told from Lucknow that even earlier Babloo had told that all unimportant matches of the world have been fixed.Babloo also told that this was the biggest reason why Pakistani players played under immense pressure and lost to minnows Ireland.
It is also speculated that Woolmer's book was in the last stage and match-fixers might have got some air that the Pakistani coach may reveal more about the betting blot in the game after Pakistan's shameful defeat at the hands of Ireland.
(Had never in my wildest dreams thought Babloo Srivastava's name would figure on my cricket blog. Shucks.)

Cricket's First Murder?

(This post is based on various thoughts building up in my mind, which are getting further support from recent media news related to Bob Woolmer's death. I may be stepping into factually incorrect territories at times. For the sake of cricket, I hope my fears are misplaced.)
The worst possibility is getting confirmed (see excerpts from various media below) - Bob Woolmer's death was not natural, but in all likelihood a murder. The intent too seems to be very clear - Bob was in the know of the various elements involved in the sordid match-fixing deeds. The bookies and other involved parties feared Bob would say it all - he was also in the midst of writing a book, which could have included enough details of cricket's ugliest faces.
According to various souces, the number of people who sold their souls for money may be far more than ever anticipated, and it may not be restricted to just active cricketers. Umpires, match referees, other cricket officials and of course, the players themselves - if the rumours (so far) are to believed, they are all involved. Though, no one is yet giving out any names of people involved, but as the police dig deeper into the Bob Woolmer case, the Jamaica Police and Scotland Yard should be able to unearth more than a few ugly facts - we can only hope that the culprits will finally be revealed and punished.
It gives me jitters to even think that the entire World Cup may be fixed. Is that possible? I'm sure you have heard such stories yourself - friends call up and tell me that money has reached the Lankan camp, as there is no way that the various stakeholders in the game of Cricket can afford an India loss - the biggest stakeholders being the bookies!! Previously, I used to dismiss it as a figment of their imagination or a rumour, but now it's different. I'm finding it more and more difficult to shrug them off. The faith has been eroded - for ever, perhaps.
But even if lots and lots of people are involved in match fixing, I refuse to believe that everyone is - and it's a fair conjecture lots of such innocent people who are in close contact with the culprits would have adequate knowledge of the evil. Why don't they come forward and spill the beans? Or do they fear that, they might be silenced just like someone recently was.
(from thisislondon.co.uk )
Medical experts have confirmed that top cricket coach Bob Woolmer was strangled. As Jamaican police launched a full-scale murder investigation, a highly-placed source said: "The only question is whether it was done manually or with some kind of cord."

The sensational development came after it was reported that the 58-year-old Briton, found collapsed in his Kingston hotel room at the weekend, had a broken bone in his neck and gashes and blood on his face.
(source: Guardian)
Sources said Woolmer apparently had a fracture in a neck bone, which could be consistent with being strangled.
The claims emerged as Channel 4 News reported it had been told by a senior Jamaican policeman that Woolmer had been murdered and had a broken neck.
(source: IOL.co.za)
Pakistan cricket player's finger prints taken )
Assistant Police Commissioner Les Green, formerly of Scotland Yard, confirmed that members of the Pakistan cricket team were fingerprinted.
The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper, citing an unnamed high-ranking police officer, reported that authorities found a broken bone in Woolmer's neck and that investigators were treating the case as a homicide.
A former Pakistani player speculated that the coach was killed by gambling interests and a Pakistan team official said there was blood and vomit in the room when Woolmer was found.
(Channel 4)
Senior Jamaican police sources have told Channel 4 News a murder inquiry is imminent into the death of cricket coach Bob Woolmer.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sachin's new Adidas Commercial: A Video

"I'm Sachin Tendulkar. This is my story - My coach used to put this one rupee coin...".
Adidas seem to get it right with Tendulkar each time. As you watch this beautiful commercial, pray that he fires against Lanka on 23rd. Else, the crazy Indian mobs will cite this advertisement as another reason to hang him. Nuts.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Duckworth-Lewis for Cricket Dummies like me

Vinod's Cricket Brain is definitely bigger and bettter than mine. So is Abhigyan's. My apologies to Vinod for giving you a wrong bit of information while replying to your query on my post on net run rate calculations. Thankfully, on Abhi's request, I decided to dig further, and my ignorance got revealed. But what's a blogger who can't make a story out of something - so here's my post on the Duckworth-Lewis System, and I dedicate this post to cricket dummies out there, not excluding myself.

Basic premise on which Cricket's most complex system called Duckworth-Lewis works:

Resource Percentage - when any team starts a fresh innings in any full 50 overs one-day international match, they start with 100% of resources left. As the number of overs reduce and/or wickets fall, the Resource Percentage ( simply referred to as RP from here on) left keeps reducing.

note: for any match less than 50 overs, even from the start, the resource percentage doesn't start at 100, but at a lower number. There's a table which tells you all this.

Case 1: When the match gets interrupted with the second innings in progress, and the number of overs have to be reduced for the second innings only.
Say play got interrupted at 110/3, 30 overs and when restarted it was reduced to a 40 overs match.
RP Lost = RP remaining when 20 overs left - RP remaining when 10 overs are left
Net RP which Team 2 is left with = 100% - RP Lost
New Target = Old Target x Net Resource Percentage left. So if Team 2, chasing 800 runs is left with 70% Net RP, their new target will be = 800 x 70% = 560! One hell of a target na !!

Phew! That was some effort। I just hope i've not bungled on something, else let me know and please forgive. Vinod & Abhigyan raised the query that it was actually possible for the target to be higher than what Team 1 scored, and it's quite possible under Duckworth Lewis. Maybe it has already happened in the past, i don't know, but explaining that would be a far bigger challenge, which I don't feel like accepting right now. Let me know if this was an useless post, and I'm actually the King of the Cricket Dummies.

Preview: India vs Sri Lanka / Match-fixing?

On the 23rd of March, when India faces Sri Lanka in what may well be a knock-out match for India, India are likely to get knocked out - going by pure statistics, that is. In World Cup matches, India's worst percentage success record, barring Australia*, is against Sri Lanka. What we could still bank on though, is a semi-mathematical phrase called "Law of Averages".
Mathematics is going to be important, for sure, with the Net Run Rate factor very likely to come into play. However, for the time being let's leave out maths and analyse the cricket first.
Sehwag's finally come good (unless you are a big fan of Poonam Saxena, my favourite columnist in HT. She writes, "I just saw the picture of a victorious Virendra Sehwag....looking like he had just vanquished Attila the Hun's predatory hordes, instead of a bunch of very fat men") - so what if it's against Bermuda. A century is a century. 400 is 400, and India now has the world records for the highest score and the highest margin of victory in a World Cup match. So, has the ghost of the Banladesh defeat been buried?
Not quite, I'd think. Uthappa has failed twice in a row now, and the Indian bowling has been well below par and the fielding shoddy. Ganguly, in spite of the fact that I'm his greatest fan hasn't impressed me much - his two half-centuries looked patchy and he has been more than a little lucky already. On the contrary, Sri Lanka has been my favourites to lift the Cup for quite some time now and they were close to clinical in their annihilation of Bermuda. The 321 was a team effort and the bowlers finished off the opponents for a meagre 78 in less than 25 overs. Again, the spoils were shared and Murali at 4.2 was actually the most expensive bowler.
Man-to-man, Lankans look better - it's important that you factor in the reality that Tendulkar is not the Tendulkar he was, nor is Ganguly and on Sehwag, Poonam may have half a point, if not more. Look at the other side - the Lanka bowling has the right variety in Vaas, Malinga, Maharoof and Murali. Don't forget Jayasuriya, a wonderful ODI bowler and the person responsible for destroying India's famed batting line-up in the 1996 semis. It's beyond argument that both him and Vaas would better qualify as all-rounders than Tendulkar, Sehwag, Ganguly, Yuvraj or Agarkar. Pathan is the only one who could have been better, but he is not in the best bowling form and is yet to be included in India's team so far on this tour.
Sri Lanka will start as favourites on Friday, the 23rd March. But cricket, lots of them say, is a game of glorious uncertainties and that's why me and a billion other India fans will be sitting glued to their television sets all Friday, hoping and praying for an Indian win. All we will need is - either of the two to deliver, Tendulkar or God.
* also Bangladesh, but there has been just one India-Bangladesh match in the World Cups

Woolmer Death: A murder by the match-fixers??

******** 21st March: 1800 hrs
Just in: Mark Shields, the Jamaica Deputy Commisioner of Police has confirmed that Bob Woolmer's post-mortem report has now arrived. Without going into details, Shields confirmed that Woolmer's autopsy reports had given them enough reason to carry out a full-blow investigation into the causes of Woolmer's death. ( though at no point he used the word murder yet, something which is quite a possibility now).
Story sent by Swapnil, source: DNA
Though the Pakistan Cricket Board insists that team coach Robert Woolmer died of a massive heart attack, it is being speculated in cricketing circles that he could have been killed to cover up match-fixing by the Pakistani team.

Former Pakistani fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz told reporters in Lahore on Monday that certain top players in the team were involved in fixing the matches against the West Indies and Ireland. Apparently certain PCB insiders told Nawaz that at least five leading bookies from Pakistan had reached the West Indies in the first week of March and were in touch with heavyweights in the team.

“The theory going around in West Indies police circles is that Woolmer might have been killed by those who wanted to silence him on the issue of match-fixing,” he claimed. A former PCB official who requested anonymity said Woolmer’s book, Discovering Cricket, which he was writing, could have exposed the cricketer-bookie nexus in Pakistan, India, and South Africa.

The official claimed that Woolmer met Delhi police officers during Pakistan’s 2005 tour of India to gather material for the book. Nawaz said Woolmer had finished more than 50 per cent of the book.

Meanwhile, Pakistan team media manager PJ Mir denied media reports that Woolmer died of a drug overdose.
The other related story doing the rounds is that the Pakistan team will be detained in Jamaica till the investigation is completed, however other sources claim that the Jamaican police denies of any such plans.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Can Ireland bowl out the Windies for 25 again?

On the 23rd of March, when the Ireland cricket team steps onto the field in their final group match of the 2007 World Cup agains the West Indies, they will have at least two matches to draw inspiration from. One of the two is the obvious one - the St. Patrick's day magic when they took on the might of Pakistan and came out trumps. For the other one, we will have to go back into history, some 28 years back.
The setting was Sion Mills, near Londonderry, Northern Ireland, date 2nd July, 1969. ( no connnection to Bryan Adam's Summer of 1969, though this date has a strong connect with Jimmy Hendrix) The West Indies cricket team had just finished a not too memorable tour of England losing the series 0-2. The great West Indian all-rounder Gary Sobers was a part of this team though he didn't join the rest of his team on their short tour to Ireland post the series in England as he was injured. Yet, the Windies team included quite a few big names and were led by none other than Clive Lloyd.
What happened on that fateful Wednesday is still very fondly remembered by Irish cricket fans and why not. The Irish team bowled out the entire West Indies cricket team for a mere 25 !!! Dougie Goodwin and Alec O'Riordan did the most damage taking 5 and 4 wickets respectively. Four West Indian batsmen got out for ducks and no one managed to get into double digits. It's not even that the wicket was a demon or something as the Ireland team scored 125/8 in their reply - actually declaring their innings at that score.
Four days from now, when the Ireland cricket team meets in their dressing room in Jamaica for the pre-match talk, I'm sure someone will talk about that wonderul Wednesday in the summer of 1969 - the greatest day in Irish cricket history. A little inspiration - and then we all know that history has a way of repeating itself. Sláinte!
image source: cricketeurope.net
and thank you Satyabrat for the story
Come to think of it, that's 107 runs less than what Pakistan made last Saturday - while Inzy retired from ODI cricket subsequent to Saturday's disaster, Clive Lloyd went on to captain the West Indies to 2 World Cup victories.


Net Run Rate Calculation Method for World Cup 2007

India has posted the highest total in the history of the Cricket World Cups and suddenly there is a lot of interest and discussion of the Net Run Rate calculations. Surprisingly, everyone seems to be not very sure about the procedure and after getting a couple of queries regarding the same, I thought it would make sense to do a post on the all important NRR.

Step 1:
Calculating net run rate for a single match. Let me use an actual case to explain - India.

India scored 191 against Bangladesh, batting first. (In such cases the team's full quota of overs will be considered and not the actual number of overs and balls they played.)

Bangladesh scored 192 in 48.3 overs

India's Net Run Rate for that match = (191 ÷ 50) - (192 ÷ 48.5) = ( - 0.14 )

Note ( see red above) : 48.3 overs in mathematical terms becomes 48.5 because 3 balls is actually half an over

Step 2:
Calculating net run rate for the entire Round 1 of the World Cup

= (Average runs scored per over in all the 3 matches by India) - (Average runs scored per over by Bangladesh, Bermuda and Sri Lanka against India)

Note: For teams getting bowled out, the entire quota of overs would be counted

Averages of the net run rate of the matches may sometimes give the same answer, but not always.

Click here for an Explanation of the Twenty20 World Cup 2007 format - Super Eight and all

Monday, March 19, 2007

What will be India's XI for today's match against Bermuda?

Virender Sehwag failed yet again, and aginst Bangladesh he got out playing the one shot which he is now left with, the one stroke that has fetched him the most runs in this most miserable phase of his career. His hinded loft shots over the 3rd man boundary have already been effectively controlled by every opposition in the world. Sehwag needs to go back to domestic cricket, to work out his weaknesses against lesser attacks and widen his repertoire to be competitive again - at the international level. Most of all, Rahul Dravid needs to realize that.
There's a thin line between reckless and rational aggression, and Dravid, at this moment looks unsure and is stepping across to the irrational side all too often. Even if he is too keen on Sehwag, he should haven't sent him in at the top, after electing to bat on a wicket that was bound to offer assistance to the seamers in the first hour. In this, lies the root cause of Dravid's failure.
"Form is temporary, Class is important." That's an adage we have all been hearing since we started following this beautiful game in our childhoods. Unfortunately, the Indian captain has taken it all too seriously. How else do you explain Sehwag's inclusion, and Pathan's? Going by form, Karthick deserved a place in the India XI - it was not to be. A 300 scored by Sehwag in a test match more than 2 years back was cited by Dravid in the batsman's defence. Pick up the record books and give me a reason for selecting Harbhajan over Kumble. Only the Indian captain, who is too mesmerised by Bhajji's class could have given the current form of his a overlook. In his last 20 one-day internationals, Harbhajan has picked up 16 wickets at an average of 44.50. Bring that down to 10 matches, and his average increases to 47.80. But, i guess Dravid is going by Bhajji's career average of 32.
In at least two of my earlier posts on this blog, I've made a case for Irfan Pathan. While it may be a bit unfair on my part to advocated an out-of-form Pathan's case, there is more than one reason for that. For one, you may be surprised to note that Pathan's bowling averages in his last 10/20 one-dayers are better than Harbhajan's. If you combine this with the fact that Pathan is a far more accomplished batsman, we have a very logical reason for Pathan's inclusion for today's match against Bermuda. In his last 10 matches, his batting average is a healthy 21. Any international team needs at least one genuine bowling all-rounder in its ranks to provide a balance to the team. It was not for nothing that we won the World Cup in 1983 and then the Benson & Hedges World Championship in Australia two years later. Kapil Dev, Madan Lal and Roger Binny were all bowling all-rounders and Pathan is the only one we have today.
Please Dravid please, for India's sake let go off your idiosyncracies for the time being - experiment all you want on the Bangladesh tour just after the World Cup. Spare us for the duration of the Cup, and give us a team which can propel us out of this darkness.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bob Woolmer passes away

Just got this really sad news..
Bob Woolmer had been found lying unconscious in his hotel room a few hours back and was rushed to the hospital. Unfortunately, the news that has just come in is the worst one - the Pakistan Coach has passed away.
Pakistan cricket is not in the best of health, and only yesterday, they made an early exit from the 2007 World Cup after an upset loss against Ireland. Since then, speculations were being made about the future of captain Inzamam and Bob in Pakistan cricket. Back in Pakistan, there was huge hue and cry over the loss, and the mobs had hit the streets in Inzy's home-town shouting ugly slogans like, "Death to Bob Woolmer, death to Inzamam, death to Nasim Ashraf, the police should arrest them". So, it can be presumed that Bob must have been under a lot of stress since the loss.
We still do not know the exact reasons for the death - but whatever the medical reports may say, one thing is beyond doubt that the reactions of the Pakistani fans back home have always bordered on the insane. Criticisms and sudden irrational reactions are understandable - but only upto a certain limit. When players homes are set to fire or brickbats hurled at their residences, that limit is crossed. It has happened before and it's happening again - in fact, we all knew it and we expected. Whenever Pakistan loses a major tournament outside home, we in India always have a hearty laugh saying the players are unlikely to fly back home direct. But that's where it should stop - Cricket is afterall just a sport, and no more. That fact needs to be realised - and if there are a few hooligans who don't understand that after a warning or two, the Pakistani authorities need to take sterner reactions.
You might just think that I'm overreacting - that this is an emotional outburst - it may be one, but what the hell, I'm making a point, and a right one at that. So that should be okay.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

a pretty Bangladeshi Cricket Fan


Your prayers are working, and how!!

and when:(

India vs Bangladesh: Live Blog

India vs Bangladesh, 17th March 2007
(ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, Port-of-spain, Trinidad : Group B match)

Keep Adding your comments and I will keep inserting them into the main piece, should be good fun

This is what we think the team should be like:

Sehwag, Ganguly, Dravid, Tendulkar, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Pathan, Munaf, Agarkar, Kumble, Zaheer Khan

Pitch report: (David Lloyd on Set Max/SAB) , 1800 hrs India Time, 1230 GMT

- no dew, important factor when it's a 9:30 start (local)
- lots of runs, pitch curator says he is proud of it

India wins toss, Dravid elects to bat
Habibul Bashar asked for Heads, it was Tails and India won the all important toss. That allows Dravid to let his batters get some important practise

India's team for today's match

Sehwag, Ganguly, Uthappa, Dravid, Tendulkar, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Munaf, Agarkar, Harbhajan, Zaheer Khan

Bangladesh XI
Nafees, Aftab Ahmed, Mushfiqur Rahim, Bashar, Rasel, Belim,, Hasan, Abdur Razzak, Hossain, Rafique

That team selection is so very Dravidesque - safe & boring & the kinds which will only take you so far and no more. Pathan holds the key to India's balance - he should have been given a chance today. Instead Sehwag is the one given yet another chance. Don't know why they keep prefering Harbhajan over Kumble all the time - doesn't performance count at all. Will Dravid decide India's future on his gut instincts??!! Where is Vengsarkar?

Match starts:
Ganguly & Sehwag to open - that's one aggressive move by Dravid. The team card showed Sehwag in the middle order

Guess what?? Live blogging of scores is illegal. ICC can sue one for it - just got a couple of mails from blogger friends..don't want a case slapped for this!!!

Ananth adds:
this is neat...dont know if i'll be awake for the Bangladesh innings though. ....and there goes Sehwag. He fails again. Accusing fingers point at Dravid. Not a huge problem though. More firepower to some. Oppurtunity for Uthappa to make a mark..

Sorry Anath...this one has to stop, i guess..actually you are not allowe to live webcast scores without ICC authorization...I always thought those guys at ICC were crazy...here they prove it again. Let's continue it with moderation. Am taking your point..am switching off comment moderation for the time being.

Homer adds:
24/2 in 9... The art of digging a hole and burying oneself in it.We should patent it!!!

This Bangladeshi attack is looking real good. I don't think i would be exaggerating if i say that they are as good an opening attak as any other. And no wonder, India is struggling. Let's not forget that they are fresh from a win over Newzealand, who in turn were fresh from a 3-0 win over Australia.

This match is going to be a tough one..throw that minnow tag out of the air. If Ashraful produces one of those rare gems, anything could happen.

13th over - and the run rate is still under 3!!

Homer is still his optimistic self:
India will in if they post 200 or more. Our bowling is good enuf to deliver ( as usual).

Amit: Ashraful..if he plays well, Indian bowlers can go take a hike. Just that he plays once in a blue moon.

There is one decent appeal happening every over. 200 looks far away at this moment, anywhichways.

Tendulkar Gone..Razzak strikes in his first over..3 down and India down in the dumps

the sad part is - if India wins, a lot of the problems will be papered over - which will come and bite us in the rear later . If India loses, people will get irrationally angry, thus forcing unplanned for course corrections.Either ways India' happiness is !@#$%^.

Finally Ganguly pierces the off-side and raises India's 50.

Dravid perishes leaving India in the doldrums. Yuvraj comes in and this is India's last specialist batting pair. Bangladesh right on top.

Anant adds:

familiar events..aren't these? Lots of expectations and lots of excitement and finally everything comes down..atleast Ganguly is still there. Yuvraj is there too and looking good...lets hope they carry on till the 40th over..then Dhoni could flex some of his milk powered muscles. Man..these lower order players are so damn important..they better come up with something here..

In the other match, the excitement has reached crazy height - against Ireland, Pakistan is reeling at 72/6 . One upset looks likely today!!

Swapnil join in in the fun:

Well a day when the only Indian to take some sort of stand against the Bangladeshi is our Bengali Dada. I think the Bengal curry tasted too spicy for the rest of 'em. Still India will get thought today as we have had a few low scoring (matches) in this cup already, and i still cant believe that Bangladeshis can get both batting and bowling right on the same day. Or was the win against New Zealand not a fluke.... Wat say ?

I think Zahir and Munaf towards the end have already given enough room for Indians to claw in. Take my word India will win.

Well, after recovering from a disastrous position, Ganguly and Yuvraj helped India recover to 157/4 before both perished in quick succession. And then 3 more batters followed their path back to the pavillion leaving India in big trouble at 159/9. 5 wickets gone for the addition of 2 runs. But then Munaf and Zaheer added 32 runs for the last wicket, and I just have a feeling ( and swanpil too) that those 32 might just make the difference. And it's unlikely that Bangladeshi batsmen will do as good a job as their bowlers. Hope!!

And if India is in trouble, can Pakistan be far behind. They are at 116/8 and unlikely to reach anywhere close to India's score - their only consolation and hope will lie that Ireland are minnower than Bangladesh. Anywhichways, one thing is guaranteed - two exciting second halves. So keep pouring in your comments...

The comment of the day so far:

Bhalla remarks: I could plant a kiss each on munaf patel and zaheer khan...32 runs!! invaluable. now for some good bowling boys...but even if we do win this match i dont see india going too deep into this tournament...this performance has convinved me :(




its all over.

Predicting the World Cup Winner: An immature assessment

In spite of the fact that he was talking to Mandira Bedi and Charu Sharma on the sets of Max' s Extraa Innings, Dean Jones made a few very pertinent points:
( immediately after the Newzealand-England match)
1. Initial indications show that pace will rule over spin at this World Cup - 1 for 171 for the spinners today. ( includes Panesar, Vettori and Jeetan Patel)
2. Medium scoring games should be the rule rather than the exception: those old-fashioned 200-250 run games, which i think were far more fun than these 300+ run fests. Of course, we are not talking about those other games, where Gibbs hits six sixes in six balls, and then Boucher hits quite a few more.
3. Middle-order and lower middle order batters will be just as important as the top, if not more. ( ok, this Dino didnt say, i made it up)
I think it's too early to make any generalised assessments, but he may just have a point - and if he has one, it's not the best news for India or Lanka. Even if we pass off our pace attack as decent, surely our late middle-order is no where good enough. SA and NZ - they suddenly look very good. But i just want to wait - there's a difference between Kumble / Harbhajan and Panesar / Vettori. What say? I'm a little worried already.

Just for your viewing pleasure

A wall graffiti of Indian Cricket Stars: somewhere in Kolkata

(source: BBC News)

Friday, March 16, 2007

6 x 6 = 36 : Gibbs does it !!!

It's the ultimate dream of every cricketer, the thing fans often talk about romantically, think of, but had never before happened in over a hundred years of International Cricket history. It has finally happened today - yes, Six Sixes in Six Balls of a single over!!
In South Africa's first outing in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, at Warner Park, St. Kitts, Herschelle Gibbs smashed 36 runs off a single six-ball over from Netherland's Van Bunge. Phew!!
Ravi Shastri (off Baroda bowler Tilak Raj) and Gary Sobers (off Malcolm Nash playing for Glamorgarn, which incidentally is Shastri's county team) have done it before but these were first class matches. Gibbs is the first one to hit six sixes in international cricket.
Even as I write this, it's raining sixes in Warner Park and record tumbling - Gibbs is gone, but Boucher is partying and partying hard..

Ball-by-ball commentary for the over from Cricinfo

van Bunge to Gibbs, SIX, Violence! Gibbs charged down the track and hoicked it over long on.
van Bunge to Gibbs, SIX, Murder! Floated on the leg and middle stump line and Gibbs sends it soaring over long-off.
van Bunge to Gibbs, SIX, Carnage! Flatter one this time but it makes no difference to Gibbs. He just stands there and delivers. This one also has been sucked over long off
van Bunge to Gibbs, SIX, Wah Wah! Low full toss and guess where this went Yep. A slap slog and it went over deep midwicket! He is going to go for 6 sixes in this over!
van Bunge to Gibbs, SIX, Short in length, on the off stump line and Gibbs rocks back and swat-pulls it over wide long off. SImply amazing. What a batsman. This is pure violence!
van Bunge to Gibbs, SIX, He has done it! One-day record. No one has hit six sixes in a row. GIbbs stands alone in that zone. And the minnow bashing continues! Full and outside off and bludgeoned over long off

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Rakhi Sawant's Cricket Bouncers

With Bollywood already in grip of a Cricket Fever, it was only a matter of time before the TV Channels caught on. And what catching on - FILMY, the movie channel from the Sahara Stable has got hold of none other than Rakhi Sawant!!!

In the show titled "Rakhee ke Bouncers", the masala pop-queen along with comedian Suresh Menon will attempt to give cricket-entertainment an entirely new twist. In 3 minute vignettes, which will be telecast throughout the World Cup duration, the duo will discuss cricket terminologies, match reports and other cricket stuff, completely spiced up for your palate.

Rakhee Sawant plays a ‘bindaas bimbette commentator’, who knows all about fashion and films but nothing about cricket Suresh Menon plays her more cricket knowing partner.
Cricket couldn't have got hotter, could it?

Cricket Fever grips Bollywood, yet again

There is one thing about these Mumbai film-wallahs that you got to appreciate – they are not the ones to give up. Ever.

In India, nothing sells like Cricket & Bollywood and it has been every marketer’s dream to marry the two – you can’t blame them for imagining the multiplier effect if they can pull it off successfully. The dream merchants of the Hindi film industry have been no different – the list of Bollywood’s cricketing failures is long and illustrious. Sunil Gavaskar, Ajay Jadeja, Kapil Dev, Sandeep Patil, Vinod Kambli, Navjot Singh Sidhu and Salil Ankola have all burnt their fingers in Bollywood. The failures may have caused these cricket players to give up on Bollywood, but Bollywood hasn't given up on Cricket - it probably, never will.

As the World Cup fever grips the nation, Bollywood is ready to try and cash in again. This time round, the list is more eclectic and interesting – it includes amongst others a player, a commentator and a cricket-doll. While you can catch Mandira Bedi and Anil Kumble in Chandrakant Kulkarni’s Meerabai Not Out, Harsha Bhogle plays himself in Hat-trick.

In Meerabai Not Out, the story revolves around Mandira Bedi and her obsession with India’s ace leg-spinner. That’s some googly, and should be worth a watch! In a similar vein, Rimii Sen plays another obsessed character in Hattrick, which is releasing tomorrow – her object of fondness being Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The next Cricket release would be Say Salaam India. Probably the most serious of them all – this would be documentary film-maker Subhash Kapoor’s movie debut. Says Kapoor, “It’s a film that talks about the emerging trends in cricket. More and more boys from smaller towns are being selected in our cricket team. If you see the World Cup team which has gone to the West Indies, out of 14 there are 9 from smaller towns. So I felt that a film with this tone will work well during the World Cup. And also during this time everyone is interested in cricket so eventually the film will also get a lot of hype”. The starcast for the movie reads Milind Soman, Sandhya Mridul and Sanjay Suri.

If that casting doesn’t impress you, watch out for Shoonya. An Arindam Mitra – Anurag Kashyap work, Shoonya stars Naseeruddin Shah, Kay Kay Menon, Satish Kaushik, Seema Biswas, Tulip Joshi and Ninad Kamat. A modern day interpretation of T S Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, this film uses the impact of cricket on people as a metaphor. This is a must see – if you want further credibility, that’s here: it has already been a selection at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.

The big one – yes, that’s Bombay to Goa. Loosely based on the same story as its earlier namesake, this film stars the entire Indian team. Yes, the Indian Cricket team. With just one difference – they are all look-alikes!!

Did I miss Yuvraj’s Love-Story?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sehwag or Uthappa or Karthick ?

Sehwag / Uthappa / Karthick ?
Sehwag / Uthappa / Karthick ?
Sehwag / Uthappa / Karthick ?
Sehwag / Uthappa / Karthick ?
Sehwag / Uthappa / Karthick ?
There's just an outside chance that I'm getting perturbed over this unnecessarily, probably far more than Rahul Dravid or Greg Chappell or anyone else in the Indian camp. But that's just an outside chance. In all likelihood, this selection conundrum must be causing the Indian captain and coach sleepless nights, or worse.
Let's look at the likely candidates for each position.
1. Ganguly - confirmed
2. Sehwag / Uthappa
3. Dravid / Tendulkar / Sehwag / Uthappa
4. Dravid / Tendulkar / Yuvraj
5. Dravid / Yuvraj
6. Sehwag / Karthick
7. Dhoni
8. Ajit Agarkar
9. Harbhajan / Kumble
10. Zaheer Khan
11. Munaf Patel

Whatever permutation and combination (sensible ones) you do, one situation is very clear - India can play only play 2 of these 3 players against Bangladesh. Going by form, that shouldn't be a very tough decision - Sehwag should sit out - but Vengsarkar knows it, and we all know about Dravid's fondness for Sehwag. No, i'm not subscribing any ulterior motives on Dravid, just that the captain sees enough reason to continue with Virender Sehwag. That's where the twin selections on 17th March will pose a challenge - there will also be that second layer to the challenge, if Sehwag then who to drop - Uthappa or Karthick. Most of the world thinks that's easy - it has to be Uthappa, but I'd have gone with Dinesh Karthick. We need a couple of finishers out there and right now I can't see too many in the India XI.

I'm not very sure about the magnitude of Dravid's love for Irfan Pathan, though if past stories are to go by, Greg Chappell is. Again, on form Pathan doesn't seem to be a candidate and it's unlikely his case will be pushed. Maybe he may get a look in against Bermuda. But against Bangladesh, who are fresh from their upset win** over the Kiwis, the Wall may just want to play safe. And, yet again I agree.

**Bangladesh 230 for 8 (Iqbal 46, Omar 45, Mortaza 30*) beat New Zealand 226 (Oram 88, Mortaza 4-44, Razzaq 4-26) by 2 wickets


Group B: Saturday, 17th March 2007: India vs Bangladesh, Queen's Park Oval, Trinidad

Catch it live in India on Sony Set Max (English), SAB (Hindi) and Doordarshan. Audio Commentary will be available on All India Radio.

Scotching Australia

"It's 11 against 11 - if we can bowl and bat to our plans and put them under pressure we've got a chance of causing a shock."
- Majid Haq, Scotland All-rounder

Way to go, Mr. Haq. Me, a certain Mr. Sunil Gavaskar, at least one reader of this blog and the entire northern hemisphere and most of south too is right behind you. Go get them. Come hard at the Aussies - they are down in the dumps already. Bangladesh has done it before, can't see why Scotland cannot. Ask Glenn to sledge back, if need be - afterall he was born in the homeland of sledging. He should be able to teach Ponting and his mates a thing or two!

ps: I'm just kidding, and still very much a gentleman. And, cricket is our game. Not the sledgers'.

ICC Cricket World Cup 2007: Group A, Scotland vs Australia, March 14th 2007 - Warner Park, St. Kitts.
Glenn Rogers, Scotland bowler was born in Australia.

Pakistan lost to West Indies in Match 1 at Sabina Park, Jamaica - 13th March, MOM: Dwayne Smith, WI won by 54 runs. Tomorrow's second match: Canada vs Kenya, St Lucia (Group C)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Hypocrite - Gavaskar or Ponting?

Reacting to recent comments by former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, Ponting has labeled Gavaskar as a hypocrite. "We all know the way he played his cricket, don't we? What about the way India have played their cricket over the last few years?" Ponting said.

Gavaskar, in an interview to a cricket magazine remarked that while the Australian team were no doubt the best in terms of both batting and bowling for the last decade, the way they have conducted themselves on the field left a lot to be desired. Cricketer turned commentator Gavaskar has never been very fond of the Aussies – he had once famously remarked about how visiting teams often faced 13 Aussies on the field. This quote is from those days when the concept of neutral umpires was yet to be introduced on the cricket field, and Gavaskar found more than a few wrong decisions favouring the Aussies.

In one of his tours down under when given out LBW, when he had clearly edged the ball, Gavaskar had almost decided to leave the field along with his batting partner Chetan Chauhan. This is the incident which Rickey Ponting was referring to while replying to Gavaskar’s comments. Even then, 25 years ago, this is what Gavaskar had said, “It was triggered by personal abuse on Lillee's part."

Much gladdened himself at the recent reversals in the fortunes of the Aussie team, Gavaskar said during the course of the controversial interview, “Australia's come-uppance at the hands of England and New Zealand has gladdened the hearts of not just the other aspirants for the World Cup but also the followers of the game. There is not the slightest doubt that in the last decade or so the Aussies have been awesome in batting, bowling and fielding which has taken them to the top of the cricketing ladder in both Test and limited overs cricket. But they have also been awful in the way they have sometimes behaved on the field much to the chagrin of the traditional fans of the game. Like the West Indian teams of the 1970s and 1980s which dominated world cricket in much the same way as the Australians are doing now, the Australians are not popular."

Losing his cool, Ponting added “How many test matches have they (India) won? Gavaskar has been a big part of that, he has been a selector and has been on the coaching committee.” The Australian captain also thought “it was high and mighty” of Gavaskar to criticize others behaviour when he himself was the not exemplary player on the field, citing the “walking-out” incident of Gavaskar in his defence.

rahul dravid and michael slaterIf one were to go by empirical evidence, Gavaskar has enough reason to say whatever he has. The story of Aussies success on the cricket fields for the past decade or so has been accompanied by innumerable stories of their offensive behaviours, both on and off the field. Only very recently, after winning the ICC Champions Trophy, Ponting and his men completely disgraced themselves during the prize distribution ceremony, when they pushed the BCCI President, Sharad Pawar off the dais. Anyone who has seen the video of that incident will find it difficult to believe that it happened incidentally. Then there is the notorious Rahul Dravid – Michael Slater incident. Has Ponting also forgotten that he had once managed to abuse the gentlest of cricketers, Javagal Srinath? Ponting mistimed a pull off a Srinath bouncer and the ball hit the grill of his helmet. Poor Srinath, who walked upto Ponting enquiring if it had hurt the batsmen got some nasty words in return for his good natured behaviour. Then there is the Healy-Ranatunga spat, and the Warnie-Ranatunga one too.

One could go on and on citing incidents of Aussie misbehaviour on the field. Ponting, like the rest of his team may be a very skilled player, but otherwise a very bad example of a cricketer. And also, a poor student of history, I guess. Or maybe the Aussie captain suffers from a problem called amnesia !!

odds on sun beating aussie cricket team

Preview: Pakistan vs West Indies, 13th March 2007

sabina park, jamaica cricket groundHow rapidly things change in the fickle world of one-day cricket – in less than a month, Australia has been almost completely diminished – at least they now look as beatable as any other good team. What has changed even more rapidly than that are the prospects of the two teams which meet in the inaugural match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.

Pakistan, for whom nothing could have gone right in the past couple of months have suddenly been uplifted out of their morass. Two victories in two matches, including a seven wicket win over top ranked South Africa; Inzamam-ul-haq couldn’t have asked for a better start to his team’s campaign. Don’t even bother telling the Pakistan captain that the two victories had come in just warm-up matches – Inzy’s team badly needed a morale booster and they have got it.

Someone else may though need the “It was just a warm-up match” excuse. Brian Lara’s team were handed a thrashing by India – after dismissing West Indies for all of 85 runs, India reached its target losing just the solitary wicket. It may have been just a practice match alright, but when that match is your last match before your first match in the World Cup, it matters. Don’t forget that Lara’s men had been soundly beaten by the Indians in a one-day series less than a month back. West Indies, which had been on an upswing this past one year, have been suddenly grounded.

Let’s look at another interesting bit of statistic – the hosts have had a terrible record in the inaugural matches of the previous World Cups, and Lara would be the last person to forget that bit. After all, West Indies had beaten hosts South Africa in the 2003 opener and it was Lara himself who had scored a fine century to bag the MOM award. The West Indian captain would be hoping to repeat this performance against Pakistan on Wednesday. What he wouldn’t want is to let the rest-of-history repeat itself too.

Players to look out for:
Chris Gayle, Brian Lara, Dwayne Bravo ( all West Indies)
Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan, Rana Naved ( all Pakistan )
Pakistan vs West Indies, Group D ( 1st match of ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, West Indies)
Venue: Sabina Park, Jamaica
Match scheduled to begin at 14:30 hrs GMT

In India, catch the Windies - Pak match on Set Max from 7 pm. Of course, Mandira Bedi and the rest of Extraa Innings start off much earlier, at 5 pm.
Next match: Scotland vs Australia, Group A at Warner Park, St. Kitts & Nevis

* That picture above is of the Sabina Park, Jamaica - final preparations are on in full swing for the World Cup opener.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

When Dravid lost his cool

A day after the India-West Indies warm-up match where Sehwag was India's only notable failure, the Indian captain lost his customary cool when asked by a scribe why he kept backing the out-of-form Virender Sehwag.
"I'm not backing a Joe Blog or a Ramdin or any non-entity. Viru is someone with proven ability - he's scored a Test 300."
(source: Hindustan Times, New Delhi)
You may also want to read "If I were Rahul Dravid.."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Cricket World Cup Live on Set Max, SAB and PIX

Sony Entertainment Television Network has announced the schedule for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 to be shown on its channels SET MAX, SAB and PIX.
The popular programme "extraaa innings" will kick-start coverage from 5 p.m. India Standard Time every evening. As per the telecast schedule, all group stage matches will be aired live on various channes of the Sony network MAX, SAB and PIX, with the Super Eight matches, semis and finals simulcast on MAX and SAB, in English and Hindi, respectively.

March 13: West Indies vs. Pakistan (Live on MAX)
March 14: Australia vs. Scotland (Live on MAX)
Kenya vs. Canada (Live on SAB)
March 15: Sri Lanka vs. Bermuda (MAX)
Zimbabwe vs. Ireland (SAB)
March 16: England vs. New Zealand (MAX)
South Africa vs. Netherlands (SAB)
March 17: India vs. Bangladesh (MAX & SAB)
Pakistan vs. Ireland (PIX)
March 18: Australia vs. The Netherlands (MAX)
England vs. Canada (SAB)
March 19: India vs. Bermuda (MAX and SAB)
West Indies vs. Zimbabwe (PIX)
March 20: New Zealand vs. Kenya (MAX)
South Africa vs. Scotland (SAB)
March 21: Sri Lanka vs. Bangladesh (MAX)
Zimbabwe vs. Pakistan (SAB)
March 22: New Zealand vs. Canada (MAX)
Scotland vs. The Netherlands (SAB)
March 23: India vs. Sri Lanka (MAX and SAB)
West Indies vs. Ireland (PIX)
March 24: Australia vs. South Africa (MAX)
England vs. Kenya (SAB)
March 25: Bermuda vs. Bangladesh (MAX)

Second stage: Super Eight Schedule
(expected pairings, provided there are no upsets, all matches Live on MAX and SAB): March 27 to April 21
March 27: West Indies vs. Australia
April 10: West Indies vs. S Africa
March 28: South Africa vs. Sri Lanka
April 11: England vs. India
March 29: West Indies vs. New Zealand
April 12: Sri Lanka vs. New Zealand
March 30: Pakistan vs. England
April 13: Australia vs. Pakistan
March 31: Australia vs. India
April 14: S Africa vs. New Zealand
April 1: West Indies vs. Sri Lanka
April 15: India vs. Pakistan
April 2: India vs. New Zealand
April 16: Australia vs. Sri Lanka
April 3: Pakistan vs. South Africa
April 17: South Africa vs. England
April 4: England vs. Sri Lanka
April 18: Pakistan vs. Sri Lanka
April 7: India vs. South Africa
April 19: West Indies vs. India
April 8: Australia vs. England
April 20: Australia vs. New Zealand
April 9: Pakistan vs. New Zealand
April 21: West Indies vs. England

Semifinals (on MAX and SAB): April 24 & 25

Final (on MAX and SAB): April

If I were Rahul Dravid...

If I were Rahul Dravid, I would be a very unhappy man today. You may think that we shot out the West Indies for a mere 85 runs, and then raced to victory losing just a solitary wicket – that should be a reason to celebrate, be happy. Instead, why the hell am I sulking? Actually, I have good reason to.

Yesterday’s match against the West Indies was a warm-up match. Just that and no more. You don’t earn any points for winning it, definitely no bonus points for winning it that easily. If you really want to, you may factor in the psychological advantage nonsense bit for whatever it is worth. However, after what transpired on the cricket field there is reason to sulk – and more than one.

I fought with the entire selection committee to get Veeru included in the team for the World Cup, not because I am fond of him – rather because I believe in his abilities, I know and you know that Sachin is not the Sachin that was. Nor is Saurav. On the top of the innings, Sehwag remains the only one who has the potential to break the back of the opponents, sometimes race away with the match on his own – yes, Uthappa has shown the sparks, but this is the biggest stage in cricket – and I would have preferred someone who has played a couple of hundred matches to someone who has played a couple of great innings. But look, what he has done now. With a total of 19 runs from two warm-up matches, how do I make a case for him now? Even I am beginning to doubt the idea now – continuing with Veeru may be almost insane now. To include Veeru in the team, either of Uthappa or Karthick has to make way – and these are the two guys who scored 100% of the runs yesterday, that too without getting dismissed.

My other bet was Irfan – the only genuine allrounder in the team. Did you watch him bowl yesterday? In spite of the fact that he got Brian Lara and two more top batsmen, he was all over the place. Just too many wides and no balls. On the other hand, Munaf was brilliant. He looked in complete control and his line and length was close to perfect. With Zaheer, Agarkar and Kumble, the other 3 bowlers on display all bowling well, how do I even think of including Pathan. The problem is that Irfan’s inclusion provides the team with a lot of flexibility – both the batting and bowling line-ups look longer and stronger. As a captain, his inclusion allows me that much more freedom in deciding on the rest of team. Alas!

Those twin disasters yesterday, I think overshadow the victory. I’d have happily traded off a good performance from Sehwag and Pathan for a loss – though, not the kind which we handed Lara’s men. That indeed would be a psychological disaster!

See what Cricinfo does for an extra click

"We fear England but can win the World Cup - Lara"
This was the headline of one of the leading stories on today's/yesterday's Cricinfo - obviously intended to get you curious - as to what makes Brian Lara think so higly of England's chances. Obviously, i got interested and clicked on this link to read the whole story. Look, what i got - a page long interview, of which i am reproducing the all-important excerpt.

"Cricinfo:Speaking of England, do they have a chance?
Lara:Yeah, most definitely. The fact they took something away from the Australian tour, even if it wasn't the Ashes themselves... well, it augurs well for the World Cup. They beat Australia in Australia, so they'll go into the World Cup with huge confidence. If Kevin Pietersen can return and Michael Vaughan is back and fully fit, England are capable of competing with and beating the very best in the world. You'd be stupid to ever write them off."

An excerpt from an online interview done by Cricinfo's Nick Harper with Brian Lara - in the interview Lara clearly says that he still considers Australia as favourites for the title, but calling Australia favourites is too boring and unsaleable an idea, so Cricinfo chose to blow-up this England bit well out of proportion. Maybe, this was the idea even before the interview began, and hence the leading question. No point blaming Cricinfo much though, as this kind of misrepresentation of facts has become an acceptable practise in modern day journalism - and this is hardly the worst example.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Pathan: Key to India's Success

In a few hours from now, when India walk out onto the field for the first time during the World Cup 2007, he won't have to worry about one important decision, atleast not today. In the warm-up matches the ICC allows teams to play upto 13 players - so together in the 2 warm-ups, Dravid should be able to give a chance to each of the 15 members of the Indian contingent. However, the big decision that the Indian captain will have to take on the 17th March (India vs Bangladesh) may end up being the key to India's chances.

- Four bowlers or five?
- Who opens? Sehwag or Uthappa. ( I am assuming Ganguly will be the other opener)
- First chance to Uthappa / Karthick / Sehwag ?
- One spinner or two?
- Harbhajan or Kumble, in case the previous question is answered in the solitary
- Tendulkar at 3 or 4? ( Does Tendulkar still want to open?)
- Dravid at 3 or 4?
- Who would be the first choice pacers - Zaheer looks a certainty, Agarkar also does but Dravid seems to have an affinity for the lazy-n-lanky Munaf (in case we go for 2 pacers)
- If Pathan has to come in, who goes out?

Why is Irfan Pathan so important? Why was he chosen although he did nothing of note to merit a recall? Why was he chosen though he could hardly play any matches to even be tested for a recall?

Pathan is the only player in the Indian team who could play the role of a genuine all-rounder - I am sure even Agarkar has himself given up on any such notions now. The Baroda pacer can bat as well, in fact it is his bowling which is the worry right now - and including him in the side suddenly gives the side a strong look - at least on paper. He allows you to actually create an Indian team which has 8 genuine batsmen and 4 genuine bowlers.

1. Sehwag / Uthappa 2. Ganguly 3.Tendulkar 4.Dravid 5.Yuvraj 6.Karthick 7.Dhoni and 8.Pathan

1. Zaheer 2. Agarkar 3. Kumble/Harbhajan & 4.Pathan

The team now has 3 pacers (with a left-right combo as well), one genuine spinner, Ganguly to fall back on in case it's a seaming track or Tendulkar/Sehwag/Yuvraj for slower tracks. 8 batsmen is of course a great luxury which can do no one any harm.

However, 8 batsmen is one too many and I would rather want to bring in an extra bowler at the expense of Karthick. Zaheer, Munaf, Agarkar, Kumble & Pathan will be one solid attack. On slower tracks I would sacrificie Munaf for Harbhajan - maybe even otherwise. Pathan can actually be promoted back to no.3, one of Chappell's move which worked pretty well for India - though which got sidelined later for the wrong reasons.

Look at this line-up - I think this would be the best possible one:
Sehwag, Ganguly, Pathan, Tendulkar, Dravid, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Agarkar, Harbhajan, Kumble & Zaheer Khan. ( that's in order of batting - though Pathan should be used at no.3 occasionally)

Only one small problem - Pathan needs to prove a point with the ball, else we will have to prefer someone else - who is better than Pathan with either bat or ball. But, i hope, for India's sake that he comes good because he gives the Indian captain a lot of flexibility (just what Dravid's keeping did for Ganguly last time round) and the team looks that much better with Pathan inside. Let's hope Pathan comes good in the warm-up today.

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Irfan Pathan, Women & South Africa. Don't bother with the post - scroll down to the comments below, that's where the action is!!