Sunday, February 26, 2017

Cricket – A Great Leveller

There is an age old adage: the game of cricket is a great leveller. For anyone not knowing what this exactly means, here are a few examples:
Image result for india vs australia pune1. Ricky Ponting scored 242 in the first innings of Adelaide test against India in 2003, only to be out on 0 in the second innings, with Australia losing the match.
2. India reaching English shores in 2011 as best ranked Test side and on a high after winning the ODI world cup just few months ago, only to be whitewashed and lose their spot at the top.
There are innumerable such instances. One such instance was witnessed today in Pune, after Australia’s monumental win against India.
Decimated. Humiliated. Vanquished. Conquered. These are some of the adjectives that many publications would be itching to use to describe the mauling India received in the first test of the series. A series, whose result most experts and ex-cricketers had already predicted to be a foregone conclusion. Presumably, Australia’s only victory seemed to be if they managed to draw a test match and save the embarrassment of yet another whitewash in Asia. But Steve Smith’s side has turned the tables! And how!
A win by 333 runs in India. India suffered their 2nd largest defeat in terms of runs on their own soil, narrowly avoiding their worst ever loss. And that too, on a rank turner. I am sure everyone would be reminiscing the winter of 2015, when South Africans had arrived here, only to be welcomed by not just turning pitches from day one, but literally dust bowls! India had smothered them and since started their undefeated run at home. New Zealand and England suffered the same fate. An undefeated streak of 19 tests; Team India was almost invincible, especially at home.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Twenty16 Lineup

We are just a few days into 2017. And the cricketing action is already in full gear with South Africa-Sri Lanks Test matches, Big Bash League and Ranji Trophy semi-finals and that most intriguing off-field battle between Supreme Court and BCCI underway But before we move too far ahead, Slipstream Cricket continues its annual tradition of picking the year's cricketing moments to remember.

1. 6, 6, 6, 6 – Carlos Brathwaite – Remember the name
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. And Carlos Brathwaite certainly came big time. With 19 needed off the last over in the World T20 finals, Brathwaite hammers 4 consecutive sixes to win the game with 2 balls to spare. "Remember the name", boomed Ian Bishop from the commentary box.Ben Stokes certainly wouldn't be forgetting this one. 

2. Speech of the Year - Darren Sammy
The West Indies men and women had just won the T20 World Cups. Just weeks after their Under-19 team had also become World Champions. The skipper, Darren Sammy, chose this moment to bare his heart out to the world. It was quite a damning indictment of the West Indies Cricket Board. And this was the last time Sammy has played for the West Indies.

3. Going Out on a High - Brendon McCullum
The much loved Kiwi skipper decided to hang up his boots and give his back a rest from the wear and tear of international cricket. And did he bow out in style by smashing the record for the fastest century in Test cricket. It wasn't enough to prevent a defeat to the Aussies, but it was a fitting farewell to the man who really launched the IPL with his blazing bat.
4. Celebrations of the Year - Misbah-ul-Haq
He is now well past 40.Yet when he gets a century he celebrates by doing push-ups on the ground. We all know the end is nigh, but will Misbah to go on and on. After all he is the senior statesman the world cricket needs.

5. And they all fall down 
Win toss, bat first, score over 400 and still contrive to lose, by an innings. Happened only twice in over 2200 Tests till November 2016. In December, happened thrice, England twice and Pakistan once. The 3rd innings collapse became the new statement.

6. The Run Machine - Virat Kohli
Regardless of the format, Tests, ODI, T20I, IPL, the Virat Kohli run machine just kept chugging on. All tricky chases turned formulaic. India's batting revolved around one single man. And he kept delivering, time and again. The only batsman to have an average of 50+ in all three formats of the international game.

7. The Year of Comebacks
2016 started with Ashish Nehra opening the bowling for India after 4 years, somewhere in the middle Gautam Gambhir opened the batting after 3 years and capping off the year of comebacks, Parthiv Patel was keeping wickets for India in Tests after 8 years. And all of them doing a decent job. At this rate we might get to see Munaf Patel and RP Singh leading the Indian attack soon. 

8. The run-outs
The batsmen trying to sneak a run. The fielding team taking the ball and breaking the stumps just before he makes it to the ground. No better sight in cricket. And this year we had two memorable efforts - Dhoni preventing a last gasp Bangladeshi win and Temba Bavuma acrobatically running out David Warner.

9. Doing it all by yourself - Shania Lee-Swart
You see weird scorecards and then you see one person making 160 runs in a team total of 169. 

Isn't cricket supposed to be a team sport?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Is it a Team Sport?

Just when you think you have seen all the bizarre scorecards, this comes up.
Image Source: ESPN Cricinfo
In an Under-19 Women's Game in South Africa, Mpumalanga's Shania-Lee Swart scored 160 unbeaten runs out of her team's total of 169 runs. All her fellow batters scored a grand total of O (Zero) between them with Extras contributing 9 !!!

This was more than enough to win the game for Mpumalanga as their opponents Easterns could muster only 127 with Swart who also opened the bowling picked up two wickets.

An innings which single-handedly took her team to victory. Must have been some performance.

Nishant Kumar for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Nishant on Twitter @NishantSKumar

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My IPL Diary# Sasha

One day I found myself staring at an email that read IPL Cheerleader and decided to go for the audition. At the time I was still working. My office job which consumed most of my time. I pleaded with my boss if I could go and just try and see what would happen. To be honest I didn't really think I would do well but turned out that I did a good job. So thats how I found myself in India dancing for the IPL.
What brought you to IPL? Cheerleading or the chance to explore a new country?
I believe the answer is both, I absolutely adore dancing, I started dancing from the age of 3 or 4, started out with ballet and now I do almost anything just purely out of love for the art. Then my heart and soul yearn and desire to travel and see the world. I guess this is what made the opportunity so rewarding is that I was granted the opportunity to do both and enjoy it at the same time

Which IPL team were you cheering for?
Kolkata Knight Riders

What were your expectations before coming for the IPL?
Expectations, interesting because I never really had any. I asked a few girls about the basics of how it works etc but no expectations which I believe helped me enjoy my experience that much more.

India: 500 Not Out

India play their 500th Test match at Kanpur against the Kiwis. Could have been just another game but cricket (and its fans) love statistics. So becomes one of the most significant games in India's Test history. To celebrate this milestone, its time to pick up an XI of India's most memorable moments in the Test arena.
Disclaimer - The memories are the ones which happened on my watch. So all are post 1989 or as we cricket tragics mark the event, after Sachin Tendulkar's debut.

1. That Partnership at Eden Gardens, 2001
The greatest turnaround in the history of the game at one of its greatest centers against an all-conquering Australian side who were treating the series as the "Final Frontier". They were well on their way to achieve their goal till they were stopped in their tracks by VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid. The 4th day's play was not just match or series turning, it permanently instilled a belief in all Indian fans that miracles do happen.

2. The Chase in Chennai, 2008
By itself it would be remembered as one of our greatest victories. India chased down 387 with Sachin Tendulkar hitting the winning runs after Sehwag had given a turbo-powered start to the chase. But then it wasn't just any other game, being played in the aftermath of the horrific Mumbai attacks. Sometimes sport can provide just that bit of healing touch to a whole nation.

Rahul Dravid hitting the winning runs on the 5th day. An image firmly etched in the memories of the Indian fan. Australia had scored big, but they ran into a pair of familiar foes. The Dravid-VVS combo ensured that both teams are on equal footing after the first innings. And then the much maligned Ajit Agarkar produced his best spell of Test match bowling to knock out the Australians. And he was there at the other end with Dravid to see it through to the end.
On a green pitch, India chose to bat first and the English team had the absolute privilege of being the only team to witness centuries from Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly in the same innings. And they followed it by slumping to an innings defeat against the spin duo of Kumble & Harbhajan on a green top.