Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Freedom Series 2018: Battle of the Broadcasters

One of the most awaited series for India is now just minutes away. After a comprehensive victory over all-comers in the home campaign, the Indian Team heads on a long overseas campaign with the first stop being South Africa.

The cricketing relations between the two nations have been interesting. India boycotted South Africa on apartheid grounds for a long time. A justified call, as South Africa was banned from all sports for quite a long time. And then at the end of the regime, India was the first nation to host as well as tour South Africa. And in the entire course of 25 years, India have never managed to beat the Proteas in a series in their home.

So while we wait for the series to commence, here is a look at the promotional campaigns run by the broadcasters.

First by Sony in India who have focused their campaign on ending the 25-year wait and seeking revenge! Jingoism at its best!


And now from South Africa, who have focused on the shared history of the two nations, linked by two of the greatest personalities of modern times – Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, and the cricketing history of the two nations!


What a beautiful promo!

Wish the Indian broadcasters also grew up and used sports as more than just a war and propaganda tool in their campaigns!

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

Cricket in "The Big Bang Theory"


I am a big fan of the Sitcom "The Big Bang Theory". However, found a very weird line in one of the recent episodes

Our favorite desi astrophysicist, Dr. Rajesh Koothrapalli, takes his friend Howard Wolowitz to a sports bar, where a cricket match is being telecast live. And while explaining the game to a bored Howard, comes up with this line."That's Ravichandran Ashwin, he is amazing. He makes Bhuvaneswar Kumar seem like Hardik Pandya!" A confused Howard replies with "thats too many syllables", while a confused me pauses the episode, rewinds and is clearly bamboozled by what the meaning of that line could be. A couple of attempts makes it clear that the statement has no meaning in the cricketing sense. 

However, the show goes on. And on the scene arrives Ruchi, who is equally cricket-crazy. And they get into a discussion on India's chances in World Cup (which one?) which solely rests on Kohli's form. (Now that is completely true). 

Ruchi meanwhile wants the bowler to break the batsmen's (who isn't mentioned) leg. I assume the over must have changed in the interim otherwise hollering Ashwin to bowl yorkers? And the duo discuss being present at the ground to witness Shoaib Akhtar's two consecutive yorkers in Eden Gardens to Dravid & Tendulkar (last few details assumed by me).

So three random names, Kohli's form being key to India's World Cup chances, yorkers, and their deadly use by Shoaib Akhtar in Eden Gardens (Video). Thats a whole lot of cricket in the Big Bang!

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

The Twenty17 LineUp

2018 has dawned upon us and the cricketing action continues in full swing with New Zealand completing a demolition of the West Indies and Vidarbha winning the Ranji Trophy for the first time ever. Before the action hots up further, time to take a look back at the Cricketing XI of 2017 (compiled by yours truly).

1. Afghanistan & Ireland get Test Status
After resisting for years, ICC decided to expand the Test arena. And thus we have two new Full members on-board – Afghanistan and Ireland (although both are yet to play a Test). Well-deserved reward for the yeoman service done to the Associate cause. Ireland by consistently upsetting the big teams at the major events and Afghanistan by providing a sporting fairy-tale even the best of Hollywood writers will not be able to script! Now they just need to play a Test each!

2. Women’s World Cup
2017 was the year in which women’s cricket became just cricket! The massive success of the Women’s World Cup provided the ultimate fillip. It also helped that India performed well and finished runners-up in a closely contested Lord’s final. But surprisingly after all the goodwill generated, BCCI hasn’t really cashed in and the Indian team hasn’t played a single game after the World Cup Final!

3. Pakistan 
If there is a team which can be trusted to do the inexplicable, it has to be Pakistan. It was another roller-coaster year (no surprises there!). They won the Champions Trophy in England and managed to lose a Test series to Sri Lanka in their adopted home! But the highlight would be the return of International cricket to Pakistan with a T20 series against an International XI (which inexplicably was given international status) and a one off game against Sri Lanka. Which brings us to…

4. The Sri Lankan Captaincy Revolving Door
Angelo Matthews, Dinesh Chandimal, Upul Tharanga, Thisara Perera, Rangana Herath, Chamara Kapugedera, Lasith Malinga – Seven different men captained the Sri Lankan team across different formats this year. Also showed in the overall results where they were hammered by all and sundry, including a series loss to Zimbabwe, who themselves were coming off from losses to Scotland and Netherlands!

5. Performance of the Year 
Will pick two this year. Marcus Stoinis’s incredible assault against New Zealand, which nearly won Australia the game. And Harmanpreet Kaur’s blistering 171* against Australia in the World Cup semi-finals, probably the defining innings for the women’s game in India.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Farewell Nehraji!

T20I #630: India vs New Zealand, Feroz Shah Kotla, New Delhi

It wasn’t just another game. This one had context - the increasingly elusive factor in the modern sport!. After all it was the farewell match for Ashish Nehra, more popularly known as Nehraji. 

He hasn’t had the greatest career of them. Over the course of his stop-start 18-year international career he missed more matches than he played (17 Tests in 18 years - thats a telling statistic!). Injuries being the prime reason for keeping him away especially from the longest format. His career was in phases. A sudden start with a one-off Test appearance. Followed by becoming a regular for a few years in both formats. Then a gap, followed by a regular limited overs spot. And then when it seemed all over, a T20 international career at the very fag end! The returns may not have been outstanding but they were rewarding. A World Cup Winners and runners-up medals. Not many players can lay claim to that! And he got a grand farewell at his home ground – something which has eluded many a cricketing great in India!

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.