Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Best IPL Knock I have seen !

Some Factistics [Factual Statistics]
Pitch playing a ripper and Sreesanth bowling almost underground.
4 down for 2 in the second over and later 35 for 3 in the seventh.
7 team-mates scored 61 runs of 75 balls with 3 fours and 2 sixes.
Take out 33 from 20 by Pathan and Britt during slog and it becomes 28 from 55 balls.
The ball managed to cross the ropes only twice from the other end when he batted.
All other batsmen together managed 9 fours and 5 sixes of 188 balls scoring 173 runs.
He got out at his team score of 132 but not before making 80 runs of 47 balls.
5 scintillating sixes and 8 fabulous fours at a strike rate of 170 [10 RPO].
People might say a lot of things. They might talk about Valthaty and Gayle.
Kohli holds the orange cap. Sachin the most consistent. Many have fired.
Rohit has played well too and David Hussey hit the longest six so far.
He was honest and accepted his team was suffering because he had failed to fire.
And in spite of a bad shoulder and a worse pitch, he needed to fire !
Delhi languishing at the bottom of the table needed the Captain for resurrection.
Harsha Bhogle tweeted Yuveraj and Sehwag are better India players than IPL players.
He was right. Well, mostly. Somehow Sehwag prefers the bigger stage to ignite.
The partisan crowd at Kochi didn’t realize how fortunate they were today.
They have witnessed one of the rarest of the rare Gems today on a tough pitch.
In conditions like this where their own team has lost 20 wickets for a total of 187 runs.
Resurrection Man !
And the de facto Fact – QED:
Virendar Sehwag’s 80 today is easily ‘The Best‘ IPL knock I have seen so far !
I rest my case !
Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans

Friday, April 29, 2011

Legends Of Cricket !

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to make fun of or disrespect any of the players. Their contributions to cricket have been immense. Please take the post in the right spirit. 

When we talk about the legends of Indian cricket, names like Sachin, Sehwag, Zaheer instantly flash in our minds. No doubt they are great cricketers who have played the game better than their counter-parts, but this article concerns those special ones who were far more talented, skilled and innovative than those mentioned above but never got the due credit or respect they deserved. These were the players who changed cricket from a game to an art. Not only India but the whole cricketing world should be thankful to these masters of the game. This is a small tribute to these unsung heroes or whom I call the living legends of Indian cricket.

Venkatesh Prasad : One of the best fast bowlers of all times. He was the only fast bowler who had a ‘faster one’ instead of a slower one. After playing out Prasad at 120, if the batsman faces someone bowling at 140, he would feel it as 160. This way he helped the team get wickets at the other end by effectively implementing the ‘inter-over change in pace’ theory. Infact this was the prime reason why bowlers like Srinath and Agarkar were considered pretty quick at that time. And the best part was, at that pace also, he dared to ball slower ones- ‘lion hearted’. Sources confirm that once, when he bowled at 130; ‘Discovery Channel’ decided to make a show on him named ‘Crossing Human Limits’. However, the show was never on AIR as some dispute arose between both parties during the making. Apparently Prasad did not like his introduction in the show as a ‘medium-fast’ bowler instead of a fast bowler. He took it as an insult and filed a case against the channel which is still in the court.
He also had an incredible talent of getting smashed all over the park regardless of the pitch and weather conditions. Many experts criticized Indian fast bowlers of bowling well only in seaming conditions and helpful pitches. He proved them wrong by getting thrashed even on the fast and bouncy pitches. Now they had no option but to STFU. He also helped other Indian bowlers to become better and a respectful name in the cricketing world. When Srinath and Kumble started their career, they were quite mediocre. But it was so enticing to thrash Prasad, that invariably the strategy of the opposition team was to attack Prasad and see off the other end. No surprise that Kumble dedicated his his 500th wicket to Prasad.
He has contributed immensely not only to the Indian cricket but world wide. He has the legal copyright on slow balls i.e. Prior to bowling slow or attempting a slower-one, the bowler has to take permission from Prasad in written. But for the betterment of the game, he made it open-source which resulted in innovations like ‘knuckle ball’ or ‘ back of the hand slower ball’. Also it was his slowness only that induced the possibility of playing a reverse sweep or a scoop on fast bowlers.

Robin Singh : The ‘on-side god’. To say he was a predominantly an on-side player is an understatement. He showed the cricketing world what real dominance is; by hitting every ball to the on-side irrespective of the line of the delivery- it was he who decided where the ball was going, not the bowler. Infact, sources confirm that Robin was the guy who advocated for the ‘max 5 fielders on the on-side rule’ and went on a hunger strike until ICC succumbed to the pressure and accepted it. There was no facebook at that time, thats why we never knew about that incident.
The story of how he became a one-dimensional (rather say one-directional) player is quite an emotional one. For this we have to go back to his childhood days when he started playing cricket in his colony. On the off-side of their pitch, there was a house of one of the typical ‘khadoos uncles’ who never returned the ball when it landed in their compound (+ 2 slaps as bonus). So the rule was- batsman gets out when he hits the bowl there. The childhood memories kept haunting Robin Singh and was afraid to play in the off side throughout his cricketing career.
He was also a very hard working bowler and always gave his 110% to the game. Thats why after bowling only a couples of balls, he looked out of breath and completely de-energized as if he had just completed a marathon. Instead of soft drinks or fruit juice, oxygen cylinders and Glucon-D were sent for him during the breaks. Infact after watching his condition only, Sachin realized how much this game can take out of you. So he started drinking ‘boost’ since that time, a big reason why he is still playing at the age of 38.

Romesh Powar : Arguably the best off spinner in the world. Most spinners use their fingers or wrists to turn the ball but he is the only one who uses his ‘family-pack abs’ to do so. He is one of the fittest players around and has got an excellent ‘spherical-shaped’ body. Infact he rolls down instead of diving in the field to utilize the fact that- “Rolling is faster than Sliding”; just shows if you combine skill with science, you can take the game to an altogether different level. Rumors are that after watching Powar only, the great Murlitharan decided to be an offie – “if he can ball off-spinners with a completely deformed body, I have only a defective hand”.
If you think you will LMAO just watching him ball, then hold on. The best part comes when he wears those weird colored ‘plastic sunglasses’. This completes the comedy package and batsmen have no option but admire this hilarious-blunder of nature instead concentrating on their batting. Statistics confirm this as only half of his LBW dismissals are recorded as ‘Leg before wicket’ and rest as ‘Laughed before wicket’. A true genius, no wonder Murli has a photo of Powar in his living room.

Navjot Singh Siddhu : The Indian Jonty Rhodes, man who completely changed the attitude of Indians towards fielding and a big reason for the improved show Indians put in the field now a days. His ground fielding was so pathetic (the only player who had the ability to mis-field the same ball in 3 different ways), that rest of players started considering themselves descent and confidence grew inside them. It reflected in the field. He also showed that fielding can be a lot of fun (atleast for those watching him). Infact using his fielding clips in laughter therapy sessions is quite common now a days.
Also, he considered diving and sliding against his principles. Fair enough- you cant loose your dignity or self-respect just to stop a ball from going to the boundary, after all its just a game. Siddhu continued his services towards Indian cricket even after his retirement (as a commentator). He irritates so much while talking that people forget about the dissimal show of players on the field and the focus of their anger shifts on to Siddhu. This has made it possible for players to play their natural game without any pressure. The level of irritation doubles when he mixes his laughter with his talking; a deadly combo. Siddhu was also a significant factor in the Indian WC victory. Siddhu had announced that he would go topless in front of the team if they don’t win the tournament. So it was the fear of ‘topless Siddhu’ rather than the motivation of ‘nude Poonam Pandey’ that did the trick.
Siddhu is a ‘charismatic’ person off the field too. He was nominated for the 2010 ‘Noble Peace Prize’ for his work on ‘kashmir Issue’ between India and Pak. India had offered Pakistan to have Kashmir if they take Siddhu with it. Pakistan immediately replied that they have no interest in Kashmir and the issue was resolved. Such is his effect that WHO has put him into the list of 10 most hazardous living beings and even launched an ‘anti-Siddhu’ vaccine. Many people have even offered huge amounts to him just to shut-up, but he rejected them saying that ‘talking bullshit’ is his passion; he doesn’t do it for money. His effect is not confined to our planet only; there are rumors about his super-loud laughter that aliens have also heard it and even replied back with their own version of Siddhu. Not a confirm news though, research is still going on.

Ravindra Jadeja : The best all-rounder India has ever produced. He changed the definition of an all-rounder from ‘who can both bat and bowl’ to ‘who can neither bat nor ball’. His sheer presence can uplift the moral of the opposition even if its a minnow team. Infact, Ireland coach has revealed that Jadeja was the main reason behind their wonderful show in the world cup. Irish felt that “if a player like Jadeja is the part of a top team, there is every reason to believe we have got some world-class players and a descent team”. This brought self-belief and confidence in them and ended up doing well in the WC. Such is his effect that, Yuvraj even sued a news channel when they compared him with Jadeja on some show.
Along with all these, Jadeja also has an incredible talent of being in the team without doing anything. It actually became a national issue when he was constantly played despite performing ‘anti-brilliantly’ in both departments of the game. Finally when Anna Hazzare went on a hunger strike and questions were raised in the parliament, he was dropped. But they were not able to keep him away for long; he changed his name to ‘Piyush Chawala’ and got into the WC squad. He has emerged as a glimmer of hope for all those who don’t know how to play but still want to make it to the Indian cricket team. A true super-talent – no wonder he is called the future of Indian cricket.

Abey Kuruvilla : Indian reply to the dreaded West Indian fast bowlers- only in terms of look, not in bowling skills. Had got such a charming face that his name rhyming with ‘Gorilla’ doesn’t seem to be a mere coincidence. Statistics also confirms that 70% of his dismissals were falsely given by umpire because they were too sacred to say no to his appeals. But bowling was a side business, there were 2 more important reasons to keep him in the team. The first was to control the notorious section of the crowd and stop them from doing any mischief like throwing things in the filed etc. Whenever there was some complain from a certain section of the crowd, he was immediately positioned there. Nobody dared to do anything in his presence.
The second reason was even more important. Once there was a strong lobby against cricket about children watching the match till late night which in turn hindering their physical as well as their academic growth. The movement was so strong that banning cricket in the country was not out of cards. But when Kuruvilla arrived, everything changed. It is said that once a child sees Kuruvilla at night (even on the TV), he never dares to watch the game again. Even the mothers changed their pet dialogue of making their child sleep from “So ja beta nahi to Gabbar aa jayega!” to “So ja beta nahi to Kuruvilla aa jayega!”
Kuruvilla was a class act with the bat. Throughout his career there was a stiff competition between his wickets and runs; and most of the times wickets were ahead. A interesting fact about his batting was that irrespective of the bowler bowling an in-swinger or an out-swinger, the ball always moved away from Kuruvilla. Whether it was afraid of him or was too ashamed to be hit by Kuruvilaa is still a matter of debate. Reports are that ‘MRF Pace Foundation’ has hired him for 2 years as to help its bowler develop out-swingers. Like his batting, his fielding was also world class; but as its discussion in public is a punishable act under Indian law, I won’t discuss it here.

Sreesanth : Angry young man of Indian cricket. His behaviour is so weird on the field that sometimes you think that he got in the team through some ‘mentally-challenged’ quota. Kerala is land of coconuts; apparently a big one fell on Sreesanth when he was 12 resulting in a permanent loss of self-control. Sreesanth realized the importance of aggression in today’s cricketing world in the very beginning of his career. Being an expert on it, he took the responsibility to induce the ‘aggressive-instinct’ in his team-mates also. His efforts showed some positive results straight away when Harbhajan slapped him. Sreesanth was so happy that he started crying (tears of joy); and why not – his hard work had paid off.
Nevertheless he is a wonderful bowler who adds a lot of variety to the attack….how??…can sing, can dance, can give stares to the batsmen,can abuse them; what more you want from a bowler! And the best part is that he is amazingly consistent with his noobness. Irrespective of weather he beats a batsman, gets thrashed for a boundary, bowls a wasted bouncer, balls wide outside leg….he will always say something and give those ‘how-dare-you’ looks to the batsman. Even Dhoni has accepted that it is very difficult to control Sreesanth. This just shows that if you are passionate about your job (in his case- sledging, staring and abusing without any reason) then even a WC winner captain cannot stop you.

Rahul Dravid : One of the most devastating batsman around. What Prasad was to bowling, Dravid is to batting. As a child he wasn’t allowed to go out and play, so he spent most of his initial cricketing days playing on his terrace with a ’1 tip 1 hand’ rule. This reflects in his batting even today when he is not able to hit ariel shots despite trying desperately for it. Only batsman who is seen working singles even in the highlights. He can leave the ball in more no. of ways than any one else in the world and even holds the record for the maximum no. of deliveries left.
Dravid has always been criticized for his slow batting- making the game dull and boring but what people don’t realize that Dravid is the reason why Indian batsman are doing so well lately. To counter the strike-rate of Dravid, selectors had to bring some real dashers in the team. This way people like Sehwag and Yuvraj got in and are doing wonders for India. Even Sachin batting so aggresively in the late 90s corresponds to the same reason. Moreover, imagine a fast bowler running in hard from a long run-up – giving his everything in the delivery – bowling it at 150- and then Dravid lefts it and remains in the same pose for 5 seconds. The bowler is shattered and suffers some mental trauma which makes it easy for the batsman at the other end.
Dravid has contributed a lot to the world cricket also. Infact he was the driving force behind the evolution of 20-20 cricket. The story is that once many bowlers complained to ICC about the mental trauma they suffered while bowling to Dravid. ‘Human Rights’ people also joined in arguing that it is inhuman to make someone watch Dravid bat for 50 overs. ICC came with the idea of shorter version of the game. But few protested it saying that this format will be very harsh on the bowlers and their confidence will be teared apart after being thrashed all over the park; they wont be the same anymore. Here, Venkatesh Prasad came to the rescue with the argument that “I went for 8-9 per over for most part of my career, but have you ever seen any signs of disappointment or tension on my face. You just have to make it a habit and all will be fine after that”. The point was accepted and T20 evolved.

Md. Azharuddin : One of the best captains that ever lead India. Always had his thinking-cap (collar in his case) on and took some extra-ordinary and historical decisions during his regime; best one being batting second in the 96 WC semis on Eden-garden which was known to turn significantly in the second innings. Many people criticized his decision but in my opinion it was a master-stroke. Indians are excellent players of spin and the turning track will entice the lankans to bowl spinners. Moreover when the ball turns, there is no confusion where to play it but when it doesn’t turn, the batsman is always in a dilemma whether to play it in the on-side or off….Still not sure how that sound strategy backfired!
Such was his dedication towards the game that he even did a crash course on some ‘weird-accent-english’. It helped him win most of the tosses because the referee never understood what he had called. Many people consider Dhoni as a good captain because he remains calm and cool in every situation. But this is actually a drawback because when the opposition see him this way, they become tense and start focusing on the game with more intensity. On the other hand, Azhar had always a ‘confused cum fukd-up’ look on his face regardless of the situation which lead other sides to misread the situation and be complacent.
India has produced some wonderful and great cricketers over the years but none greater than those mentioned above. Each of them were a match winner on their day (although for the opposition) and have proved it countless no. of times. If any one deserves ‘Bharat-Ratna’ its them. Great ambassadors of the game, completely revolutionized it and made it the game it is – Hats Off !!!

Amit Ranjan for DieHard Cricket Fans

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Brendon Barrie McCullum

BB McCullum = Volcanic eruption
BB McCullum when blasts,
wins the match for Kochi really fast.
No tricks,
when he hits them big.
Leaves Opposition with No desire,
when BB McCullum is on fire.
Kochi innings does’nt last,
when BB McCullum sits in the dugout doing podcast.
When he hits sixes off any of the bowlers,
He makes the Kochi owners count every dollar.
His old team KKR feels bad,
And as soon as possible they want him back.

Gokul Garg & Anmol Lorenz for DieHard Cricket Fans

Monday, April 25, 2011

IPL (From A South African Perspective)

IPL may as well be known to cricket-lovers throughout the world as the most lucrative and most popular T20 tournament of the year, but here in SA, I have noticed that there are different ideologies circling this event…
It’s important to understand that there are many opinions based on the IPL today and how it’s influenced international cricket. Many referring to the way it has persuaded cricketers to leave their national duties, much like the West Indian case; or the fact that money plays such a powerful role in the purpose of this tournament and I quote, from an ad I watched on TV recently,”Who says money can’t buy talent?”, to support this notion. Apart from these two negatives, there’s nothing quite wrong with the Indian Premier League, in fact, in my opinion it’s very much entertaining, following up the CWC and all. It’s beneficial to the future of South African Cricket by show-casing young domestic talent on the international stage, add that to the skillful knacks that form part of the national team and you’ve got yourself one cracker of a show. And to date the Proteas haven’t disappointed either, boasting match-winning performances, most notably Johan Botha’s all-round successes. Another South African taking center stage is A.B de Villiers who has the ability to make it rain sixes. The rest of the boys continue to represent their country with pride.
The tournament got even more interesting after the addition of two new franchises – The Pune Warriors (which features the likes of former S.A captain Graeme Smith and Wayne Parnell) and the Kochi Tuskers Kerala (Currently no South African players). To have a tournament like this about six days after the World Cup has seen us evolve from rivalry to unity, A place where all fans and players of the sport can get together and give off their best, despite nationality or homeland. A combination of experience and talent is always helpful in boosting the skills of tommorow’s cricket playing generation, this tournament has seemed to open new doors and opportunities for them to do so. Take Valthaty for instance, not long ago he was a nobody but after those brilliant last few innings for the Kings XI, I won’t be surprised if they include him in India’s national T20 squad!
Cricketers leaving their call of duty to pursue bigger prospects in their career, no matter how wrong, should be their affair. Bottom line, the IPL isn’t all that bad. Some may agree, some may disagree with my views but at the end of the day irrespective of whether you’re a serious cricket fan or not, it’s not easy to deny that the IPL is here to stay! And that being said, let it continue to unearth tomorrows heroes and pave the way to a new era of world cricket!
Surekha Bhugeloo for DieHard Cricket Fans

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Money Land over Mother Land

IPL has seen some amazing performances so far, but as always there have been a few controversies also. The 1st being where the Sri Lankan Cricket Board has called its players to report back by 5th May so that they can prepare for the England tour. BCCI would do everything to influence their decision. I somehow have a feeling that national duty should be given preference over the IPL duties, but some players like Kieron Pollard, chris Gayle have a different point of view who refused to be part of the West Indies team for Pakistan series at home. They have chosen money land over mother land which I feel is poor decision by them. National duty should always be given priority over IPL commitment; nevertheless it’s their personal point of view.
Gayle had refused the WICB’s central contract to leave him free for the IPL but ironically was not bought at the player auction in January because the franchises feared he would be unavailable because of international
commitments. Then after the World Cup Gayle informed the board that he was recovering from injury following the World Cup and was undergoing rehabilitation work and about to resume training while he had been making arrangements to play cricket in IPL.
Then there are players in this IPL who are not ready to lead their National Team or who have given up National captaincy but are very happy to lead an IPL team. This seems to confuse me with no end. Like Kumar Sangakkara has given up Sri Lankan captaincy after the world cup loss due to some reasons but then he is very happy to lead the IPL side. I wonder why the reason for quitting national captaincy does not apply when you are leading an IPL side. Players like Kumar Sangakkara, and Daniel Vettori have all given up their national team’s captaincy but are happy leading an IPL side. The reason for Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene for quitting national captaincy was they didn’t see them self playing for long, but these reason don’t apply when captaining the IPL side The Sri Lankan players are going to go back to Sri Lanka by 5th of May, that would mean they won’t captain their respective sides during the most important leg of the tournament so since they won’t be there for the entire tournament why don’t they allow someone else to lead the side, who will be there for the entire tournament. When they leave for national duty then their respective teams would again have to start from scratch, they should actually help the young players to get into the role of a captain with help them gain captaincy experience. But in IPL all the reasons and problems go for a toss. Till now we had players who retired from international cricket but continued to play in the IPL; in this edition we even have the umpire doing the same. Rudi Koertzen has retired from International Cricket but is happy umpiring in IPL. I won’t be surprised to see in future if players decide only to play in the IPL.
Nevertheless this IPL has been brilliant so far. We have seen some very exciting matches. For me IPL is all about Divided by teams but United by Cricket.
Ricky Singh for DieHard Cricket Fans

Time to Test the Bench in the Caribbean !

IPL has thrown up some surprises. Some players whom I have disliked all along have done well. Some whom I have hyped up haven’t. And some whom I have waited for have done well too. And thankfully, the new teams aren’t door mats. Let us take a look at Indian players @ IPL 2011 chapter.
Of the lesser known faces, Abu Nechim looked good when he got a chance. Ambati Rayudu has been fantastic. Paul Valthaty is Revelation and Revolution put together. He is the ‘Item Number‘ of IPL-4. Harmeet Singh Bansal got slower but also got Sehwag. Vinay Kumar has never looked better.
Bharat Chipli is another surprise package. Venugopal Rao is a blooming, but perhaps a tad too late for a total recall. Dinesh Karthik is not the same Boss DK he was a year ago. Abhishek Nayar too has slipped down the ladder.
Murali Vijay and Badrinath have played well, but nothing exceptional. Shikar Dhawan has been a total disaster. Naman Ojha is missing Warne. Che Pujara hasn’t got the chances to bat higher. Saurabh Tiwari has been too tame. Anirudha Srikkanth has shown more maturity than his father.
Dravid and Laxman have batted well, but ! Mohammed Kaif hasn’t got a look in. Akash Chopra is a very good blogger today. Wridhiman Saha is in a team whose Captain’s name is M. S. Dhoni. Ajit Agarkar will retire after this season.
Dinda has bowled no-balls and bad balls and wants to believe he is India’s answer to Malinga. That he is NOT. Irfan Pathan has done precious little. Jakati is not the same bowler he was in IPL-2010. Gony is more of agony and Sreesanth is Freesanth.
Murali Karthik is toiling gamely, but selectors are not looking back. Sidharth Trivedi has blown hot and blown cold. Abhimanyu Mithun has been blown away. Umesh yadav wants to play tests. But where is he ? Why aren’t Rajastan trying Deepak Chahar ? And where is Kamran Khan ?
Sarabjit Ladda looks good and then looks bad. What is Asad Pathan ? A Bowler who can bat or a Batsman who can bowl ? Too many Pathans, too little Pathaning !
Rohit Sharma is maintaining the Legend of Rohit Sharma. I watched live, Ravindra Jadeja slam two huge sixes against CSK. Robin Uthappa has played his customary big shots. Balaji looks fabulous with slower ones but perhaps Vinay Kumar is a better package.
Yusuf Pathan has bowled better and flattered to deceive with the bat. Thankfully Piyush Chawla will not be in contention; Jadeja demolished him. Pragyan Ojha looks pale and Amit Mishra just about hale.
Manoj Tiwari has missed out on scaling the next level twice this time. Good, yet not as good as say, Rayudu, Valthaty or Uthappa. Everyone is busy talking about Poonam Pandey. Does anyone remember the first Indian to score an IPL century ?
Manish Pandey
Sehwag should have had shoulder surgery NOW. He is MESSING up the IPL and will be MISSING the West Indies and England tours. Too bad. Sachin is Sachin, Thank You Sachin.
Yuvi the Captain isn’t as great as Yuvi the match winner. Bhajji is looking as ordinary as he has been for past 3 years. Zaheer needs rest. Gambhir can make an ordinary team with Kallis, Lee, Morgan, Shakib, Yusuf and Gambhir.
It is believed Dhoni, Sachin, Sehwag, Bhajji and Zaheer would like to be rested. Nehra is yet to recover from injury. Will he be ready for the West Indies ?
Though Dhoni has maintained that IPL should not be the criteria for India selection, we can’t altogether ignore the greatest Glicket show on earth.
So here is my ODI Team for the West Indies Tour ! This is open for updating as the IPL progresses.
1] Gautam Gambhir [Captain - He should OPEN or should not play]
2] Paul Valthaty [Why not ? It is time to see if he is good at the next level]
3] Virat Kohli [Obvious choice. There isn't a better No. 3 right now]
4] Yuvraj Singh [Rested enough and rusted enough. He needs to be playing]
5] Suresh Raina [He too has to be there too]
6] Robin Uthappa [He deserves a chance. Second Wicket Keeper]
7] Yusuf Pathan [Poor IPL batting form. But he deserves at least 1 full series]
8] Parthiv Patel [The Wicket Keeper. Has batted usefully]
9] Ishant Sharma [He has been good so far. He is Future !]
10] Munaf Patel [In spite of my dislike, he is in because he is IN]
11] Ravindra Jadeja [Well, he has come back in a BIG way]
12] R. Ashwin [He is our strongest Spinner in shorter formats]
13] R. P. Singh [Scratchy. But a little support and he can be R. P. Swing !]
14] Vinay Kumar [Absolute guts and hard work. Deserves to be there]
15] Ashish Nehra / Praveen Kumar [One of them needed for the experience]
Unless someone from this list plays really badly or someone else plays really exceptionally, this could be the team. Rayudu, Rohit, Balaji  and Vijay can consider themselves unlucky to miss the flight. But then we have a pretty good Bench Strength.We can afford to waste a few talents. Even Greg Chappell believes so !
Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

DHCF Contest #2

Announcing our 2nd Contest:-
Send in articles (related to cricket ofcourse) to us at diehardcricketfans@gmail.com .
We will publish them on the DHCF website. The person whose articles get maximum response ( likes & reactions & comments) will be declared the winner. The Aggregate will be taken per person. So say if your 3 articles get published then the total of all 3 will be considered. The contest will end after the IPL final & the winner will get a copy of “The Gamechangers” , a bestseller (Based on Fake IPL player).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Meet The New West Indies

Otis Gibson wasn’t kidding around when he said it was time to clean out the attic. The latest news is that the three big names of West Indies cricket have got the chop in the upcoming series against Pakistan. Thats right, no Gayle, no Sarwan, no Chanderpaul. Interesting move, bold move. Ripping out the West Indian spine will do one of two things, either form a new backbone, or collapse into a mush.  Is it fair to blame these three for the woes of the 00′s and the sorry world cup run?
No Gayle
Easily the most influential and dynamic player of the team for such a long time. He is the big name, the draw card, the one who captains talk up the toss. He had a poor world cup, but find me a West Indian batsman who didn’t. Of the three, I find this the most bitter pill to swallow, the man looks lazy, but he most certainly isn’t. It was him to told Suliemann Benn to get lostwhen he refused to listen to him remember?
No Sarwan
This I agree with. The man looked as scratchy as ever and is completely stuck in the mud. A real shame given that he was promised to succeed Lara as the next big thing, he might well have too if he steered clear of injuries and politics. But for now, he is a dead anchor in the team and there may be a chance we’ll never see him again.
No Chanderpaul
This is sad but probably correct move. He has been a barnacle in the side, clutching on and fighting manfully against the waves of mediocrity around him. I for one was a big fan of the Gayle-Chanderpaul opening combination, but nobody else was it seems. Now it has become a bit of an identity crisis, is he a Gilchrist? a Mark Richardson? a Michael Bevan? He had shades of all, but at the moment he is neither, and with another world cup looking pretty unlikely, the walls are closing in on one of the real street fighters of the game.
The end of the road? © Associated Press
Adding to this….
No Pollard
The man has Mumbai Indians commitments folks. Get this quote: ”It was mutually determined that Pollard would be best served by being allowed to hone his T20 skills in the Indian Premier League, which will bring future benefit to West Indies cricket…” . What a load of trash. Michael Holding once said he doesn’t regard Pollard as a cricketer. I will correct him, he is not a West Indian cricketer. Sadly it won’t be long before others follow his lead and play his selfish card, to send the West Indies into further decline.
The only thing being "honed" here is the Pollard bank balance.
Marlon Samuels!
On the positive side, after copping a ban for involvement with bookmakers, the man who once bashed Warne around and earned Steve Waugh’s respect is back in the fame. If their upcoming opponents had to deal with corruption bans, it would be an empty plane flying into the Carribean.
It was Pakistan who embarrassed the West Indies in a ridiculous defeat in the quarter final. Who will prevail in what can be termed a revenge match? Depends if Pakistan turn up, and thats a whole different story altogether.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Take Home from Cricket

No doubt we love cricket, we are crazy for the sport. Our World Cup victory followed by some good IPL has made the picture even cozy and cricket more interesting. We give cricket a lot of priority, we miss outings, for day matches we are constantly on cricinfo in office, for people like me in US we wake up at nights; this is all addiction to the game.
Why do we do this?
Because we love the game, we love those great shots, that sharp bowling and that athletic fielding, we love to support and cheer for our teams even from our homes.
What makes me ponder is if this over addiction to cricket GOOD? Though it entertains us a lot, but what do we take away from the game?
In this stressful and fast world, we all need some entertainment and cricket provides us that perfect respite from all the worldly chores, just immerse yourself in a cricket match and forget the world.
But other than entertainment what else do we gain from cricket, if Sachin hits a T20 hundred, we are so proud of him, so proud of ourselves being an Indian. If Paul Valthaty hits a hundred and enables Kings XI Punjab beat CSK, he is doing his job; what do we take out of it!?
What i feel is that we should take lessons from the greatness of the game rather than normal time pass. When you see Sachin caressing the ball through the covers or playing that exquisite straight drive; take a lesson about the passion and his dedication to the game even at such an age; make him a source of inspiration and help youself do best in your personal goals as well. When you see Paul hitting a century, think you can also fare well in your profession though you can be a new comer.
So, all i want to say is that we should use the game and the performances as a motivating tool, a source of inspiration in our personal lives; coz at the end of the day they are doing their jobs and we have to do our own.
@All the fans: Enjoy the cricket and fare well in life :)
Ankit Chaudhary for DieHard Cricket Fans

2 April 2011; A Victory Constructed & Deconstructed !

Attention Please: I am not responsible for the length of this post; the 28 years wait is. That is exactly 70% of the time I have spent on this planet. So those who wish to embark upon this journey are advised to exercise enormous patience. I sincerely believe it is a journey worth and would love it if some of you think so too. Kindly express your reaction. Like it or not, let me know it. Thanks for taking the plunge !
Most of us Indians, especially those who have seen and lived 25 June 1983 have been living to see, savor and attain salvation with an encore ! I can’t talk about those who have only heard of this day. Because 2 April 2011 must be a ‘This is it’ for them like 25 June 1983 was for us.
And then it happened !
DLF-IPL has come too soon for the ‘Real Thing’ to sink in. But it has finally sunk in. Having been negative throughout Team India’s campaign, I am the happiest earthling today. So happy, I have even decided to spend my hard-earned money to watch Sreesanth play for Kochi Tuskers. Why, I have decided to tolerate Sidhu and forgive Dean Jones. Winners have Responsibility !
Looking back at the victory celebrations and the players reactions, I caught hold of a small piece of statement by Viru Sehwag. He said, “We have been planning about how to play the final ever since we played a final in Sri Lanka about a year ago”.
Perhaps the journey started a lot earlier in 2008. Perhaps it was the Sydney Test that gave us the momentum and then this moment. But like Viru said, the actual preparation began in Sri Lanka.
Let me deconstruct the journey in a lazy manner. Chronology is not one of my strengths. So if it looks haphazard, it should be forgiven. Because this is one journey and one destination we will savor all our breathing moments.
The Road to Victory; How was it Constructed !
Summer of 2010: Yuvraj Singh loses Punjab Captaincy to Sangakkara and goes into sulking. His runs recede but the waist-line doesn’t.
July 2010: Suresh Raina makes a fabulous Test Debut and nudges Yuvraj Singh out of the Test Team.
November 2010: Yuvraj’s place in ODI Team too is jeopardized. Yuvraj Singh written off !
All through 2010: Virat Kohli almost seals the No. 3 / 4 position with very mature performances and centuries during one chase after another.
Throughout 2010: Gautam Gambhir struggles with niggles and then wriggles out at the fag end with a Captain’s show against Kiwis.
Most Important: Selectors finally decide to ‘rest’ His Highness Ravindra Jadeja and bring in Yusuf Pathan. We will know why the story would not have been so big without the big man !
Second half of 2010: Sachin Tendulkar, Virendar Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Ashish Nehra take turns to get injured and be rested.
November 2010: Dhoni has taken enough battering in his hands and decides to rest and lets Gambhir make a come-back.
December 2010: Yusuf Pathan wins a match that was almost lost before the rains intervened. His hitting was so sensational, the seventh batsman theory was refurbished and buttressed.
January 2011: Suresh Raina progressively develops feet of clay and an acute shortness against short balls. He loses his Test spot to Che and ODI spot to Virat / Yusuf.
January 2011: Yuvraj struggles but does better than Raina and Gambhir’s Test form saves him for the big show.
January 2011: Munaf Patel snatches 4 wickets and a Man of the Match award from nowhere and elbows Sreesanth from contention.
January 2011: Rohit Sharma and Murali Vijay disqualify themselves from World Cup berths even as Yusuf comes into the BIG picture.
17 January 2011: Indian Team declared. Sreesanth out and Piyush Chawla in. I was vociferous in criticizing this. Sachin, Sehwag, Gambhir, Zaheer, Bhajji, Praveen Kumar, Yuvraj and Nehra selected but still in different wards in different hospitals.
23 January 2011: Yusuf Pathan blasts a match winning 60 and then an incredible Century against South Africa even though India fail to win the ODI series. He then goes on to declare, “I can win matches from any position”.
February 2011: Noise worth 2389 Billion GB created over the World Wide Web debating the Raina vs Yusuf vs Gambhir vs Virat. My contribution: 3.4 GB.
February 2011: Everyone is fit for the Cup except ‘Pehelwan’. Praveen Kumar calls Dhoni the ‘Obama of Cricket’ [How Prophetic !] and then picks up what turned out to be the costliest injury in the history of Cricket. Hence Sreesanth makes a back door entry. Dhoni declares Sreesanth has to irritate opponents and not his own team-mates.
13 February 2011: Piyush Chawla replaces Jadeja as the ‘Latest Blue Eyed Boy’ of Indian Cricket. Dhoni roots for ‘The Leg Spinner’ who brings in the variety. He has quite a lot of variety. The full toss, the long hop, the short one, the sitting duck and the dead duck balls. Chawla ambushes Australia in a low scoring match on a lower bouncing pitch at Bengaluru during warm up game.
16 February 2011: India warm up further and thrash New Zealand at Chennai as Dhoni cuts loose.
17 February 2011: Sehwag declares ‘War’ and wants to draw first blood against Bangladesh. He also wants to bat all 50 overs.
19 February 2011Tiger Tamed: Sehwagging continues till the 48th over as India manage to extract revenge. Sreesanth slaughtered for pace and Munaf cons with his lack of that.
27 February 2011Poms Tied: After loitering around for over a week, India cross the Poms. Each team plays worse than the other and they are tied ! Chawla goes for plenty and Dhoni defends him. Sachin fires and Munaf misfires. Zaheer Khan unveils the knuckle ball.
6 March 2011Irish Delight: India play like MINNOWS against minnows and beat Ireland without hurting them. Chawla again goes for runs in his last spell. Yuvraj Singh gaining in confidence.
9 March 2011Go Dutch with Dignity: Netherlands too treated with extreme respect as India first create mayhem and then a mini panic and then allow Yuvraj Singh to regain form, fitness and faith. Pathan promoted by Dhoni and demoted by himself.
12 March 2011Spring of the Springboks: India blast Saffers for the 40 overs then Smith uses Steyn remover to wipe the rest of the batting. Sachin fires again and this time, Nehra misfires. Saffers canter home by 3 wickets.
20 March 2011Yuvi Revival in Caribbean Carnival: Ravi Rampaul gets Sachin early but the rejuvenation of Yuvraj Singh is complete. Zaheer knuckles another left-hander and the West Indies tail outdoes Indian tail in the business of collapsing. India through to knock outs and the mighty Bangladesh knocked out.
Throughout March 2011: From Dean Jones to sundries to Spun Doctor have written Team India off. Everyone has their reasons and Munaf Patel, Ashish Nehra and Piyush Chawla were in everyone’s lest.
Knock Outs and the 3 M Connection !
One of my superstitious friends had told me ‘B’ for Bengaluru wasn’t all that lucky for India. ‘N’ for Nagpur too was not. But ‘M’ was going to be the lucky letter. Starting the journey at Mirpur, he predicted Motera, Mohali and Mumbai would win India the Cup. I scoffed at this. This was one more addition to many of those coincidence based predictions of fellow Blogger Shridhar Jaju.
24 March 2011Motera Matters: Yuvi again showed he means business with the ball. In front of an appreciative Narendra Modi, Sachin began the chase well. Gambhir cemented and then ran out of ideas. Yuvi and Raina proved their mettle in a tense chase and Raina exorcised the ‘Short Ball Ghost’ with a massive one of Lee. Lee injured himself and Yuvi celebrated the most pent up celebration witnessed in our lifetime. And Ponting still being Ponting, walked into World Cup Sunset with a Century !
30 March 2011Diwali in Mohali: Viru began with fireworks on Gul and won the first round of nerves. Sachin has never been dropped as many times in a 5 Test Series. He showed how the ‘Ghost of Saqlain Mushtaq’ still haunts him with his vulnerability against ‘Doosra’. India started as if they’d score 400. Then looked as if they’d not even reach 250 and then Raina plays another cameo to take them to 260.
Hafeez thought they could overhaul it. Umar Akmal wanted to finish it before 40 overs. But Bhajji accounted for him and Afridi’s last wicket in this Cup was that of Afridi himself. Munaf Patel bowled his best ball of the Cup to Razack and Ashish Nehra salvaged himself with his last spell of 2-0-3-2. India cantered home in spite of late assault by Misbah which turned out to be too late !
1 April 20116 World Cup winning Captains together; What an Idea Sirji: Lloyd believed Dhoni the Captain was too good. Kapil Dev said the team that played well would win, so did Ranatunga; Politically correct chaps. Border believed India will be easy meat for Lankan Lions. Waugh too felt Lanka would win. Imran Khan thought with the win against Australia and Pakistan, India would be the team to beat. All fools day, who would be a fool and who would be cool the next evening ? Suspense !
2 April 2011Mumbai Meri Jaan: Sreesanth playing ahead of Ashwin left every Indian dumb. Sanga won a cunning toss and was smarter only till the first ball bowled by Zaheer Khan. The first spell by Zaheer was one of the finest and was ably supported by Munaf. Indian fielding was at its best as even Sreesanth hurled himself in the deep to save 2 runs. Sri Lanka scored big in the slog and left India with the highest total to be chased in a World Cup Final.
Slinga was point blank with Viru and Sachin was snared in no time and a lot of TV sets in India were switched off and there was a late rush for movie tickets. Gambhir and Virat played some of the most sensible Cricket seen in this cup. Virat fell for a Dilshan blinder. Stage set for Yuvraj, the man of the season for India to come and save India. As India waited with bated breath in walked the hitherto out of form Captain.
What happened from here is part of modern day Folklore and Legend. We don’t have to repeat it here. It will be visited, revisited, collected, recollected, lived and relived millions of times in our life time !
This ends the Story: The Road to Victory; How was it Constructed ! Everyone knows this. It ain’t big deal telling what happened only 2 weeks ago. That wasn’t my endeavor. The story had to be told because our job is to deconstruct the story. And that is what we are going to unfurl from here.
Everything was planned; Road to Victory Deconstructed !
When Viru said the planning began one year ago in Sri Lanka, they had expected the Lankans to be there in the finals. And thus the planning began there.
Even as every Arm-chair Critic, self-proclaimed expert and International Stars went on denouncing Team India and their chances, Dhoni and his men went about their business as if they had heard nothing. There was something almost obstinate about them. It only unfolds now: Everything was planned, EVERYTHING !
They played so much Cricket with the Lions, almost everyone got sick of it, including the Lankans. This exactly is what they wanted.
India gave wickets to Suraj Randiv and shared the ODI series Finals with the Lions. India wanted him in Mumbai / Mohali / Motera ahead of Mendes.
Yuvi dropped and humiliated. India knew well, after what he did to England after Flintoff in 2007 T-20 World Cup; no opposition would dare to arouse the sleep-walking Giant. To get him fired and pumped up, we had to do the due !
Raina short-listed and then short-charged. It was all a ploy again. A ploy to confuse opposition bowlers. They fell hook, line and length to bowl short at him when it mattered. In the interim, he had ‘pulled’ new trick out of the hat.
Sehwag threatened to bat all 50 overs and almost did against Bangladesh. Every opponent concentrated on Viru and actually allowed Virat, Gautam and Yuvi to relax.
Sachin could not be planned unless you have a genuine ‘Doosra’. He played along merrily.
India gave so much respect to the minnows, everyone believed this team can be beaten easily. Fool them all !
India shared honors with England just to keep the Poms happy. And also to introduce the ‘knuckle ball’. Zaheer created the fear in the minds of left hand batters.
Indian middle order collapsed and collapsed and the tail never wagged. Get Viru and Sachin and they will collapse is what the opponents thought. Again misleading. Virat batted as if he never existed. Gambhir batted without anyone noticing till he ran himself out. Yuvi made chasing under pressure his forte.
Pathan wasn’t winning matches from any positions. He bowled more during slog overs than bat. He was then dropped to bring in Raina during knock outs. It worked like dream for India.
Bhajji looked so tame all through first round and Munaf Patel never once threatened to take an important wicket. Against Pakistan, as they concentrated on Zaheer, Bhajji knocked Uakmal with a beauty and Munaf unleashed a beast to snare Razack.
Sreesanth and Chawla made Indian bowling look so ordinary that even Boycott’s mother wanted to play for England. At the rate their players were getting injured, she had some realistic chances.
Somehow history shows us that India have to lose once to an Opponent to win a Final against them. If you win a group match, you get knocked out in knock outs. Else you have to tie to win. So they tied against Poms and lost to Saffers, their realistic Semi Final or Final opponents from their own group. Very smart. But we only know it now.
Ashish Nehra created enormous over-confidence in the minds of Pakistan batsmen with his last over against South Africa. This too was planned. 2 birds with one over. Saffers sorted out and Pakistan lulled into complacency. We now know how he did them in at Mohali.
Ashwin is the only player who has 100% win record in this team. He was kept for West Indies and Australia. India didn’t waste him against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Both teams had their own “Doosras”. So India preferred to play the ‘Pehla’ and he did it with his ‘Teesra’ !
India then fooled Sri Lanka with their orchestrated ineptness against Saeed Ajmal and Hafeez. They played well against Afridi denying him any wicket in the Semi-final. This turned out to be a master stroke as the Lankans kept Mendes out and played with 2 Off spinners.
One move after another had left opponents dumb. But still they fell for more. All though the cup, India fielded ordinary. Dhoni kept telling there is very little we can do about our fielding. Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka believed this and we know how they suffered when it mattered.
All the while Dhoni kept himself out of form. He preferred to face flak for everything he did and didn’t than face bowlers at the crease. All the opponents were gleefully anticipating to bowl at him, a Captain under duress and a batsman out of form.
With India 2 down for 31 in the Final, he fooled Lankans again. Expecting Yuvi to come in and crowd him with spin, Lankans lost the plot when Dhoni walked in and kept walking singles without any fuss. Before they realized it, he had shifted gears in spite of the mandatory harakiri committed by Gambhir. But even this was planned. India wanted 2 of the most important players of this generation to be around to win it.
Sachin and Viru did the early guiding. Virat chipped in frequently. Raina rained when it got too hot. Yuvi marshaled through troubled waters and Dhoni finished with flourish !
Another important thing had happened during all this. They had even coached players to come out with quotable quotes. So Virat said, “He has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years. The least we could do was to carry him”.
We have said, everything was planned. Yusuf Pathan was selected, designated, trained and ordained to carry ‘the burden of the man who carried the burden of the nation’ through the Victory Lap ! Who else but the strongest man in India ? Fittingly, the young tyros Raina and Virat were assigned to assist the mighty Pathan !
The Atlas !
And the Assistants !
I thank profusely, all those who have completed this journey. I also thank those who left halfway like many of those Indian fans who left early through Indian chase in the Final. Because this is ‘Our Victory’. The Victory of a nation starved of ODI World Cup Glory for too long. So let me be magnanimous too.
If you liked the post, well and good. Even if you didn’t like this, I am sure you are rejoicing the Indian win like me. And if anyone other than Indians is reading this by chance, “Come, join us. We deserved to win this. Sachin deserved to win. Dhoni deserved to win. Yuvraj deserved to win and all of India deserved to win. So come join us !”
Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans