Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Farewell Virender Sehwag

Image result for sehwagBy now, many things would have been written about the man who revolutionized the art of batting by keeping things simple. The ball was meant to be hit. And gaps in the field were not only along the ground but also over the fielders' heads. These were some of the Sehwag basics which made him the endearing success that he was.

And he liked to keep things honest. Whether calling Bangladesh an ordinary side or saying, everyone except Sreesanth had a good game (World Cup 2011), he would always call a spade a spade.

The greatest tribute to Sehwag, the batsman. Everyone used to say that a pitch should be judged only after Sehwag gets out. The true nature of the pitch would come up only after the next batsmen who came to the crease. And given that  it was the maestro duo of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar who came in next, makes this even more special. After all Sehwag would play his own way regardless of the surface and the bowling attack.  And his sheer presence in the line-up often prevented opposition captains from setting aggressive 4th innings targets for India.

My favorite Sehwag memory: Well, there are lots to choose from but my favorite one is his refusing to take a single while batting on 199 in order to protect the number eleven and extend the score further (Match score). What a refreshing change in a milestones obsessed sport.

After all as he said in farewell note"I also want to thank everyone for all the cricketing advice given to me over the years and apologise for not accepting most of it! I had a reason for not following it; I did it my way!"

Farewell Virender Sehwag! You certainly did it your way.

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

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Farewell Zaheer Khan

"The toughest call in a cricketing career is when one has to walk away from the game itself. You almost 'will' yourself and want to push that few, extra miles but then the body, after nearly two decades, decides not to respond."

These were the opening words of the farewell statement by Zaheer Khan, without doubt one of India's greatest fast bowlers and cetainly the best left-hand pacer the country has produced.

The numbers first - 610 wickets in 92 Tests, 200 ODIs, 17 T20Is in a career spanning 14 years. These are numbers to be proud of. And to this add being a member of a World Cup winning XI. But sheer numbers cannot define his contribution. He was the leader of India's pace attack and its de facto bowling captain over a large part of his career. And he left quite a few memories to cherish for the Indian fan. Here are my favorite ones.
  1. The yorker to knock out Steve Waugh's stumps in the ICC Knockout event in Kenya in 2000. What a wonderful sight it was to see a yorker delivered by an Indian fast bowler.
  2. 4 consecutive sixes off Henry Olonga to end the innings against Zimbabwe. Yet India contrived to lose that game.
  3. The jellybean incident against England which riled him up so much that he proceeded to destroy the English batting and take India to a rare away series victory.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Law of Appreciations

Cricket is a funny game. Famous quote that ‘the game is a great leveller’ isn’t an understatement. Statistics play a vital role in the game, probably more than they do in any other sport. Sooner or later, the perennial ‘law of averages’ catches up with the best of the best in the sport. No one is spared, ironically, not even the greatest of them all, Sir Don Bradman. And along with these averages, the age of a player also catches up with him. The skills don’t leave a sportsperson, but his reflexes, agility and physical and mental strength definitely become weaker with time. It is unrealistic and foolhardy not to expect that. The case of Mahendra Singh Dhoni is also not any different.

After the T20I series loss to South Africa, all the pressure was on Team India, even more on its already burdened captain. His bat has not fired in recent times the way we are used to it. The team’s performance has also been not too good in the limited overs format under him since the World Cup. On top of that, the historic series win in Sri Lanka under young gun Kohli has put Dhoni under more scrutiny, which is kind of implausible rather than sardonic, given the simple fact that we are talking about arguably one of India’s greatest captain, at least statistically (given that I am also a die hard dada fan). The point is not to compare Sourav’s and MSD’s captaincy records or any other captain’s for that matter, it is about the incredible and often improbable set of expectations that we have from our players. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Chauka : A Cricket Based Startup to Help Amateur Cricketers

Chauka has developed mobile apps along with web version which allows amateur cricketers for the first time to record their matches using smartphones ball by ball and keep it online. It gives each player detailed statistics from the tournament, similar to Cricinfo which lets them analyze their performance over time such as how they are getting out, which bowler is taking his wicket most etc. It is based out of Bangalore, India with the team size of 10 including developers and marketing guys. It’s a way for amateur cricketers to find other players more easily, to play more and get socialize with other cricketers.

Chauka was found in 2012, by Manoj Iragavarapu after he observed most of the tournaments used paper based method to score the matches. Their aim is to have every cricketer(school, college, club or corporate) on a single platform and score every match and every tournament. The app and the platform is free to use and the revenue stream comes from offering customized solutions to cricket clubs, academies and event organizers. Going forward, Chauka also offers each player detailed statistics and chart his or her entire cricketing path.

Currently more than 20,000 cricketers are using our mobile apps to record their matches and many of the cricket tournament organizers are also using Chauka as official scoring tool. Some of the organizers are Dr.D Y Patil Sports Academy of  Mumbai, Houston Cricket League of Texas and Dallas Leather Ball Cricket League. And Chauka has 30,000+ followers on Facebook. In spite of the competitors from other countries, Chauka distinguishes itself with the robust technology backing it’s platform, and the audience has also responded well so far. 

Apps: Android | IOS

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The English Turnaround

The matches going on over the past few weeks have provided really interesting and unexpected results. Pakistan securing a seemingly unlikely win over Sri Lanka in Galle; that too after being in a precarious situation on day 4 and more than a day’s play was washed away. Bangladesh finally achieving that elusive series win over their ‘Big Brothers’ India and threatening to white wash the series by winning the dead rubber. But for me, the most fascinating and captivating series on display was England, or rather “New” England defeating the World Cup runners-up New Zealand 3-2 in the recently concluded ODI series at home.

Before the start of the series, no one would have given a chance to the English team. Although they had managed to level the test series at a match a piece, New Zealand in ODI format are a really formidable side, in any conditions. The English team had many new faces, in a possible bid to form a team for the next world cup, after a horrendous performance in this year’s quadrennial event. The plague faced by the English team was known by all; there was a light year’s gap between their approach to the ODI game and other top teams. This mindset had not changed for the English side which in recent years had become more focused on its approach in the test matches. The fact that they became the top test team in the world even furthered their perception that the same approach will prove to be successful in the shorter formats as well. A grave mistake, as they all would now agree in hindsight.

After their dismal exit from the world cup league stage and sacking of coach Peter Moores, English team had became the butt of many jokes. Voices supporting the reinstating of flamboyant Kevin Pietersen were gaining strength. After all, he had also in many public and social platforms voiced his keen desire to don the English colours again. In a bid to earn his place back, Pietersen even let go of his lucrative IPL contract with the Sunrisers Hydrabad and went back to county circuit. As luck would have it, Andrew Strauss was appointed the new Director of Cricket for ECB. The same Strauss, about whom Pietersen had forwarded insulting remarks to the visiting South African team players. Since then, there was no love lost between the two.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ashes Promo - "We Didn't Start the Fire"

The Ashes maybe nearly a month away. And both England and Australia have to complete other tours before they take on each other in the latest edition of one of the oldest rivalries in international sport. While we wait, Sky Sports has come up with this promo. 

They have reworded Billy Joel’s lyrics of “We didn’t start the fire” and giving voice are the likely series commentators Holding, Atherton, Hussain, Warne, Lloyd. The whole montage is brimming with Ashes history. 

Here are the lyrics 

Donald Bradman, Peter May, At The Oval, Final Day,
Little Urn, Bob's perm, W G Grace
Walter Hammond, Mitchell Johnson, At The Gabba, Big Decision
Chris Broad, Ponsford, Riiiiiiiiiichie Benaud
Larwood's Bodyline, Athers slips on 99
Laker, Jones' dive, Gower flying in the sky
Baggy Greens, swing/seam, Warnie's ball in '93
Ricky Ponting, Pratty gets him, Freddie makes the bails fly!
We didn't start the fire... 
10, 11 whitewash, Nasser and that toss
Tubby Taylor, Sher-minator, Brigadier-block
Swansongs, follow-ons, Headingley '81
Mark Waugh, Steve Waugh, Harmy's shocking first ball
Brett Lee, on his knees, Aussies got a winning team
Davy Warner, third man, Andy Flower's England
John Snow, final Test, Manchester, yes, Chef!
Thommo, Lillee, fierce pace, Bumble smacked in that place...
We didn't start the fire... 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Benaud - The Voice of Cricket

10th April 2015 was possibly the saddest day for the world of Cricket in my memory with the passing away of Richie Benaud- a cricketer par excellence, a commentator in a class of his own , a true gentleman and a superb human being. He was the Bob Hope of cricket - loved and adored by all, no one had a bad word to say about him. He loved cricket and having been involved with the game for over six decades, was able to adjust himself almost nonchalantly to the changes and ups and downs of the game.

Although his main recognition came as a broadcaster, he also stands out as an exceptional cricketer in the record books being the first cricketer to score 2000 runs and take 200 wickets. He was an extremely useful all-rounder, bringing wrist style leg spin bowling into fashion. He excelled as a captain never having lost a series and winning the Ashes three times bringing a distinctive style of aggression into the game not hitherto heard of. However, he came into his own behind the microphone and created a style of commentary which could not be imitated. His tremendous knowledge, deep insight into the game and choice of words made his commentary a unique experience and an enjoyment for the listeners which was so abstract it could not be put into words.Even his silence spoke volumes. He certainly knew when to speak and when not to. He never had to use words like 'you know', 'I mean' , 'tragedy'  and 'disaster' and so on. We never heard him describe a shot by a batsman as a 'great cricket shot' so frequently mentioned by other commentators. After all it is cricket and not football !! When one of his fellow commentators described a dropped catch as a

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Indian Cricket Fan-base is perhaps the single largest sporting entity in the world that outnumbers the total fan-base of all the opposing teams put together. Yes, including the associate teams.

Today, the BCCI and the Indian Fans are called arrogant by the Aussies and even Bangladesh. The Aussies conveniently forget that they, along with England held the veto powers and made rules for well over a century. It lasted till Jagmohan Dalmia shifted the base of Cricket for good and changed the way Cricket as a spectator sport was sold.

From an Indian perspective, I see India sitting in the position Uncle Sam sits in the world politics. Everyone needs India but everyone hates India; for the same reason: Money !

Now let us turn to Bangladesh. It is a country as big as West Bengal and has a team that can be beaten by the Karnataka Ranji team most of the times. They have won just 3 matches against India in all these years. And one wrong decision and there is a huge outcry and Anti-BCCI and Anti-India noise in our neighborhood with even their Prime Minister going berserk.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

World Cup 2015 - Quarter-Final Predictions

The battle-lines are drawn. The Quarter-finalists identified. 7 games remaining, 7 teams to be knocked out. 1 winner. On the eve of the first of the 4 Quarter-finals, its Divination time – the time to predict the teams still left standing after four days of hopefully intense battle.

Quarter-Final 1 – South Africa vs Sri Lanka

The foremost question - Will South Africa choke again? AB de Villiers has said they won’t. History suggests otherwise.

It’s an intriguing clash between two teams with very evenly matched records against each other. Both are coming in with 4 wins each. South Africa have a suspect record while chasing and a tendency to not make through to the knock-outs. Sri Lanka on the other hand have regularly been reaching the last stages of ICC events. They also have been losing players through the tournament and have a question mark on their bowling.

The toss will be crucial. Both would want to bat first and avoid the scoreboard pressure while chasing.

Prediction – Sri Lanka to win toss, bat first, put up a fairly decent total. South Africa would begin the chase in earnest, then falter, and asphyxiate, resulting in a Sri Lankan victory.

Monday, March 16, 2015

9 Interesting Facts About Pakistan Cricket

A few deduced facts about #Pakistan #Cricket...
Total population of Pakistan is 183 million.
Male population of Pakistan is about 93 million.
There are about 92.9999 million fast bowlers or ex- fast bowlers or future fast bowlers in Pakistan.
Of the 92.9999 million fast bowlers, almost 57 million are left arm fast bowlers.
There are about 10 or 11 batsmen in Pakistan. Half of them play in or for England or South Africa.
There are about a dozen spinners in Pakistan. Almost all are alleged to have suspect action. Those with clean action play for South Africa or England.
There are approximately one and three quarters of wicketkeepers in Pakistan and all belong to same family. The 'One' ran away to England. The 'half one' has dropped more catches than he has ever held on to. The 'quarter one' is confused if he's a batsman - wicketkeeper or wicketkeeper batsman.
Yet, Pakistan is a fantastic team because they're not English and they don't speak English.

Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Five Alternative Professions for Dhoni !

Captain of the reigning CWC Champions and one of the finest players of the death game, Mahendra Singh Dhoni will go down as a modern day legend.

For all his failures in Test Cricket, his ODI records as Captain as well as player are beyond compare.

He's made a life out of chasing down targets from absolutely hopeless situations. But if he weren't a Cricketer, what profession would have suited him best ?

Here are the 5 professions that Dhoni would have done equally well, if he weren't a Cricketer.

1. A Marathon runner: He's that kind of guy. Looks as if he's taking a stroll in the park. As if he doesn't exist. As if nothing is happening there. And then before anyone could realize, he'll be there at the winning line before anyone could blink.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

4 Reasons Why India Won't Win this World Cup

India's performance so far in this World Cup has been beyond everybody's expectations. No one would have imagined that India will win the opening matches by such huge margins. Some fans are secretly fearing that the team has peaked too early in the tournament. In the last edition which India won, they raised their game to the next level in the knockout stages. It will be hard for them to do that this time around or to maintain the form they have shown thus far.

Death Bowling has been India's nemesis for as long as ODI cricket has been played. It didn't play a part in the matches so far as the oppositions faltered before reaching that stage to exploit this weakness. It would be impossible to escape in the later matches and that is when the real test would be for the Indian bowlers.

Batting at the Death. It has been a worry for India for some time now. Other teams, having players like Maxwell n AB De Villiers, have redefined the rules of batting at the death. Double the score at the end of 30 overs rule is a passe. New rule is triple the score at the end of 25 overs. With a fragile lower middle and lower order, it would be very difficult for India to catch up. 

Last and the most important factor. Ravi Shastri is not commentating this World Cup. Do you remember any glorious moment in the Indian cricket history in the past 2-3 decades when he was not up in the commentary box? Yuvraj's 6 sixes, WT20 triumph, WC triumph !

Monday, March 2, 2015

World Cup 2015 - Aus vs NZ, Match of the Tournament?

Forget the famous India vs Pakistan rivalry for a moment.

Forget the Ashes, England have descended back into the 90s and don't look like coming out.

If we are talking cricketing rivalries, surely Australia vs New Zealand is now the most anticipated match up in world cricket.  This match was no exception.


  • Both teams are co-hosts and equally red hot favorites to win
  • It was 23 years ago at this very venue when Martin Crowe's men stunned Australia
  • The Trans-Tasman rivalry has been shelved in favor of the "big three" playing each other endlessly, we are deprived of Chappell-Hadlee battles.
The entire nation was humming, four million cricket nuts pumped and ready to dream big, boo David Warner and outplay the Aussies back over the ditch. For once we actually had eleven players capable of the feat, but even so it was an incredibly tough game to pick as both sides are extremely similar. Madness at the top, class in the middle, terrific bowling & fielding and a bloody mindedness to win at all costs.

Have we become a warm friendly version of the win hungry-Aussies, is little brother now an identical twin?

The match was arguably the most extraordinary world cup game of all time (top three at least). It was one of those rare surreal experiences in sport where the contest is so much more than just a bunch of guys on TV bashing a ball around with sticks. The history, the context, the emotion were all brewed in a perfect cocktail of cricket.

Like any truly memorable game the match swung like Wasim Akram in-swingers on grass:

1. Southee Nails Finch - Those first few overs were Zaheer Khan 2003 territory, a nervous wreck spraying the ball everywhere and runs leaking like a sieve. Was Australia going to repeat the 359-2?  Southee cleaning out Finch squashed that theory quick fast and got a nation of 4 million sighing with relief.

2. The Old Pro - The bespectacled king finally has the luxury of an actual bowling attack to work his magic around. His spell changed everything as no Aussie managed to make anything of his seemingly innocuous but unplayable balls. They tried to hit him out and that's when the rot began.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

World Cup 2015 - India Have Arrived

India's lead up into the World Cup was atrocious.

The defending champions couldn't win a single game in Australia with key batsmen misfiring, their bowling & fielding were both the absolute pits, and captain Dhoni looked as bored as ever. An easy team to write off as title favorites given this form, particularly when up against the trio of Australia-New Zealand-South Africa who seemed to have all facets of the game under control.

But in the wise words of Bill Lawry "... all of a sudden it's all happening!"

Thrashing Pakistan was no surprise...
If there is one match India will always get up for, it's the opportunity to add to the 5-0 World Cup tally of beating Pakistan every time. At times it has been regarded as more important than winning the cup itself!

The surprising element was just how calmly they went about it.  There was no Sehwag whacking Gul half volleys, Tendulkar carving Shoaib Akhtar for dinner, or Prasad destroying Sohail's stumps. This time it was all patience and precision, patiently building a foundation until the 35th over and smoothly accelerating towards the psychological 300 benchmark.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

England Will Fail In The Short Formats If They Don’t Embrace The IPL

The Indian Premier League holds the key to success for England’s T20 and ODI teams. Whether the ECB like it or not, they have to encourage more of their players to enter the IPL auction. The scheduling clash between international games and the IPL has always been a problem. Although England games must come first for all English players, there’s certainly room for maneuver in certain scenarios. Warm up matches and dead rubber games surely don’t need the full squad’s participation. If the chairman of the ECB, Giles Clarke, and head coach, Peter Moores, were to allow those players who have achieved an IPL contract to spend time with their Indian team, it will be beneficial to everyone in the long run.
Kevin Pieterson has shown the way for his fellow English players. It was a brave move for KP as many, myself included, argued that he should put England first and dismissed his claims that the scheduling was too hectic. Now, however, I can understand the benefits of the IPL and the need for the ECB to allow players rest on an individual basis.
The IPL, above everything, is a collection of many of the world’s best cricketers playing outstanding T20 cricket. Why wouldn’t the ECB want their players to take part in this event? It’s the perfect arena to improve their players. IPL participants face cricket as tough as international cricket, helping to hone their skills. They get to tap into the brilliant cricket minds they play alongside, oppose and are coached by. They get to experience playing in Indian conditions and feel what it’s like to play on a huge stage in front of thousands of fans.  And, most importantly, they get to play more T20 cricket. Surely the ECB can find space to allow their players to participate.
For the 2015 tournament, only two current England players have been bought, Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan. They will be joining the likes of Dale Steyn, David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan at Sunrises Hyderabad. Alex Hales, and Michael Carberry did enter the auction, but weren’t bought. Kevin Pieterson was also bought by the Sunrisers and, along with Ravi, was fairly happy about it.
With the timing of the IPL coinciding with the start of the English summer, it’s difficult for certain players to commit to an IPL contract. England start a Test series against the West Indies not long after the start of the IPL. Also the domestic season starts to get underway and, with many players feeling that they owe allegiance to their counties, they disregard the IPL.
Due to the awkward scheduling, it seems only a select group of English players can commit to playing in the IPL. Those available are players who don’t play Tests but play enough international ODI and T20 cricket to have a weak relationship with their county . Morgan and Bopara fit into this category but there’s a whole bunch of players who also fit the mould. Franchise cricket is ideal for players on the fringe of the England limited over squads and are unlikely to make the Test team. Players such as James Tredwell, Harry Gurney, Jason Roy, Jade Dernbach, Stephen Parry, Tymal Mills, Tim Bresnan and so on, should have had a go at getting an IPL contract. It might not have worked out (like it didn’t with Hales and Carberry) which must be a bit of a confidence blow, but as my Nan said, you’ve got to be in it to win it.
With the rest of the world continually improving their skills in the shorter formats, England are falling behind. Yes, we have our own limited over competitions, but they’re nowhere near the standard of franchise cricket and although arguments are being put forward to improve our domestic competitions, it won’t happen anytime soon. The onus is on the ECB to encourage players to join the IPL because sometimes, if you can’t beat them, you have to join them.
Adam Lewis for DieHard Cricket Fans 
Follow Adam on twitter @Adam_Lewis_

World Cup 2015: Short Notes - 17th Feb

6 down.43 to go. This World Cup is going on its own leisurely pace, which gives the followers time to (a) over-analyse the events, (b) get on with their lives or (c) simply forget that the tournament is still going on. So before I forget, here is me recording my thoughts.
  • The scheduling is weird. 1 day game each day, that too held in New Zealand. So most likely by the time you get up the games are already over. Why couldn't we have had two games each day. Would have easily dropped one week off the schedule. Also the Kiwis have played their second game while most others are yet to play their first.
  • In cricketing news, Ireland beat West Indies. Ireland have been focused on breaking into the big league and want to play Test Cricket. Also they have been beaten 3 Test nations in the last two World Cups. While West Indies is focused on infighting between the players and the Board. So given the context, Ireland's win was certainly no upset.
  • Mixed emotions for Simmons family. Lendl scored a heroic back to the wall century, but Uncle Phil who is coaching the Irish had the last laugh.
  • There was a certain calmness about the Irish chase which was in total contrast to the Kiwi's chase against the Scots. It was an odd sort of game. New Zealand chased down the small Scottish total with 25 overs to spare, yet somehow losing 7 wickets also and giving their net run rate a healthy boost. They never looked in any danger of losing, though the final victory margin may suggest otherwise.
  • Early thoughts on the World Cup so far. 300+ scores are becoming monotonous. And the bowlers are being slaughtered. This 4-fielder rule is killing the bowling sides, specially with boundaries pushed back.
  • 6 games gone and not a single real close one so far. There have been intriguing ones and some nervous moments here and there, but no down-to-the-wire, all-three-results-are-possible kind of finish.
  • Prediction Time - Afghanistan to upset Bangladesh with the help of their pace attack, while Zimbabwe to easily beat UAE.
And closing today's episode with this video featuring Sri Lanka and The Lion King :)

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

Monday, February 16, 2015

World Cup 2015: Short Notes - 15th Feb

Today was the big one. The clash of the neighboring continental giants and fierce rivals. After a spirited show, Zimbabwe came up short against their more fancied rivals. 
  • Zimbabwe have already surpassed expectations. And are now looking a strong contender for a knock-out berth.
  • South Africa stuttered initially but their depth in batting rescued them from a precarious situation into an unbeatable one.
  • David Miller & Jean Paul Duminy are now the proud owners of the record for the highest 5th wicket partnership in ODI history. A record which went by almost unnoticed because all eyes were on the other game going on in Adelaide.
Which brings me to the real game of the day.
  • It was supposed to be the biggest game of the World Cup, yet inspite of the few nervous moments, India walked away with their biggest ever World Cup victory against Pakistan. 
  • 6-Nil. इस बार भी नहीं आया मौका।
  • India still not managing to make full utilization of the end overs. This was something of a bugbear for India last time around as well.
  • DRS controversy made another appearance. Again its not the system, its the people handling it and their awareness/ignorance of the rules regarding its usage which is creating all the trouble.
  • Sohail Khan appealed for LBW on his very first delivery to Shikhar Dhawan. The umpire signalled not out and Sohail immediately called for DRS while Misbah rushed to recall the DRS review. Fortunately the umpire listened to Misbah as the replay showed the ball hitting Dhawan bang in the middle of his bat. 
  • Yasir Shah can easily pass off as Lionel Messi.
  • This Indian habit off slowing down when approaching a century (e.g. Kohli today) could land us in major trouble in the future. 
  • Sir Jadeja's legend got enhanced further when he strolled for run and Pakistan had ample time to run him out, not once but twice and both times they missed.
  • Misbah left last man standing. A scene oft-repeated in the past few years, specially against India.
  • A for Akmal, B for Ball, C for Catch, D for Drop, An Akmal putting down a catch, another recurring theme for Pakistan
  • And finally a joke to sum up Pakistan's misery

Friday, February 13, 2015

World Cup Preview - Group B

Today's post presents short preview of the Group B Teams. A group with the more likelihood of upsets and 6 teams in contention for the 4 knock-out berths.

Image result for group b cwc 2015India
India are the defending champions and have a marketing campaign running on the line "Won't Give It Back". They have also been in Australia for nearly 3 months now in the course of which they have won a grand total of 1 game, a warm-up against Afghanistan. Recent form shows an explosive but misfiring batting lineup combined with a pop-gun bowling attack and some not so good fielding. The schedule has the tougher games first and the easier (on paper) games later. Difficult to see them go far in the tournament.
World Cup Aim - Wont Give It Back. 

South Africa
A fantastic batting lineup backed up a deadly bowling attack. On paper and form, they should be the favorites to win the World Cup. But then this is South Africa we are talking about. They should have won the World Cup at least twice and made it to the finals at least 4 times. But in reality they have been finding new ways of losing out in the first opportunity. Form suggests a first World Cup victory. History suggests they will be knocked out in the quarters. 
World Cup Aim - Get rid off the Chokers tag

World Cup Preview - Group A

The World Cup is almost there on us. And like the teams, the fans are also slowly but surely warming up to the event. Now, while we wait for the real event to start, Slipstream Cricket presents short previews of each of the participating teams. 

Image result for group A cwc 2015
Covered in today's post are the teams in Group A.


Australia are the hosts, have the best knowledge of the local conditions, a good attack, an in-form batting line-up. But they also have to resolve their captaincy conundrum. Their is a good chance the captaincy might be passing between an unfit Clarke, the less in-form Bailey and the heir apparent Steve Smith. The Aussie selectors may have over-gambled on this matter. Also there will be shadow of the tragic events earlier in the season.
Prediction - Should make the quarters easily and their going all the way won't be too much of a surprise.

New Zealand
They are the co-hosts, have the best local knowledge, a super pace attack for the conditions with good spin support and a batting line-up in the form of their life, and they are the masters in sledging (refer last World Cup Quarter-finals against South Africa).
Prediction - Should make the Quarters easily. My pick for lifting the Cup.

It's World Cup Time!

Just a matter of hours until the 2015 Cricket World Cup kicks off !!

And this time I won't be battling petty annoyances like time differences. This is without doubt the pinnacle event of cricket, the one tournament that demands undivided attention among all cricket fans.

I was 7 years old when the 1992 edition was hosted in Australia and New Zealand. Forget calling that a distant memory, it isn't a memory at all... and that makes this edition even more special with cricket's showcase event right here in our humble back yard.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Beginners Guide To England At The ICC Cricket World Cup

WC groupsThere has been a downbeat attitude to England’s hopes in this tournament. Over the past year the England side has encountered much criticism regarding the sacking of Kevin Pieterson and the ongoing debate as to whether Alistair Cook should retain his place and captaincy. However, going into the World Cup, England look to have a settled side. Eoin Morgan has taken over the captaincy and looks to have thrived in his new role. England will be confident that they can reach the quarter finals and beyond.

The 50 over Cricket World Cup starts on Saturday with England taking on Australia in Melbourne.
Starting at 3:30am British time, England will face the toughest opponents in their group on day one of the tournament. With the top four from each group going through to the knockout stages, this game isn’t an essential win for England, but Peter Moore’s side will certainly want to get off to a good start to give themselves a chance to win their first ODI World Cup.
The form guide shows mixed results. In the recent tri-series against India and Australia, England beat India comprehensively on both occasions, however, every time they came up against the Aussies, the English failed to threaten. Australia though, are clear favourites for the tournament with many saying that it will be a domination.
New Zealand and South Africa have also been marked as potential winners. Meanwhile the Asian sides have been given little chance. India having been obliterated in the tri-series, Pakistan with their numerous injury troubles and Sri-lanka who have doubts over Malinga’s fitness, will do well to make the final or even the semis. The so called associate teams will, as usual, struggle to string wins together, especially against the test playing nations. Ireland might have a chance, but after losing heavily to Scotland in the warm up matches, their form is questionable. Zimbabwe and the UAE will struggle to get a win, with their only chance in the game with each other. The same can be said for Afghanistan and Scotland in group A.

Friday, February 6, 2015

My Greatest World Cup XI

The World Cup fever is now finally getting on. While we wait for the real thing to start on February the 14th, its time to reminisce about the World Cups gone by. And here is me indulging in some typical fanboy hobby of picking a Fantasy XI. Following is my selection of the Greatest XI from the ICC Cricket World Cups. 

The selections have been made on the following criterion.
  • World Cup performances - multiple World Cups count more.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My IPL Diary# Niqueline

Which IPL team were you cheering for? 

My first team was Deccan Chargers (2011). My last team was the Mumbai Indians (and that year they won 2013 :) )

What were your expectations before coming for the IPL?

I heard a lot of stories about India and what to expect in India, some good some bad. But once I arrived I fell in love with India and its people.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Test Cricket Chronicles: MS Dhoni

"I don’t think anyone knew Mahendra Singh Dhoni. I don’t think anyone was meant to."
Harsha Bhogle was as right as rain in kicking around the Gordian knot.

Picture  Courtesy:
On December 30th, when Indians all across were not ready to throw over their fleeces, a certain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had stopped the ticking clock.

“The Indian Captain calls it a day!” my phone lit up, and face fell down. In a jiffy, I was leafing through the link that followed. MS Dhoni won’t be seen anymore in India whites. The Skipper retires from Test Cricket with immediate effect. A gob in the gullet made an immediate manifestation. The vision befogged with potbellied globules of brackish water.

And then it hit me! The much harrowed day had most assuredly egressed. His retirement was inevitable, everyone’s is. But who knew the game’s best finisher would call it a close in a manner so devil-may-care kind. With no farewell test match, no guard of honour, and no victory lap.

Monday, January 5, 2015

India's Probable World Cup Squad

2015 has arrived. And with it is coming the World Cup Down Under. There are a few weeks to go but the selection deadline is now imminent. January 7th is the deadline for the submission of the final teams. There may still be some changes on account of injuries and other issues though. India's selectors have already picked a 30 man probable squad and this is going to be pruned down to the final 15 on January 6th. While waiting for the date to arrive, Slipstream Cricket has decided to make its own selections from the probables squad.

This was the squad picked by the selection panel.
Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Manoj

Saturday, January 3, 2015

My Love Affair With Cricket

It all began with a trip to Goa, India, in early December 2007. I didn't realize beforehand I was going to a cricket-mad country smack in the middle of a Test series against Pakistan. It turned out to be a vacation that changed my life. Literally.

PictureI became curious about cricket when I saw that the Indian newspapers were full of reports of the Kolkata Test – and found that I didn't understand anything of what had happened during the previous day’s play despite being fluent in English. Despite, in fact, being a translator. Returning home to Finland, I decided to learn enough cricket-speak to understand what was going on. Then I meant forget all about it.

But one thing led to another. As I read cricket reports online, I blessed Wikipedia daily. It has taught me pretty much everything I know about the Laws of Cricket. But it took more than a year of intermittent study, as understanding one term just presented me with more new words. Or, often enough, old words that proved to have entirely new meanings. There are the classics, like duck and beehive, but I was stumped (yes, stumped) by words like crease (clearly not a reference to ironing gone wrong) and beat (as in beating the batsman). And so many cricketing expressions leave big chunks of the action unsaid. Leg before, of course. But also It was going to hit the middle of middle and off. Imagine for a moment that English is your second language (or third, as it is for me) and you are faced with middle of middle and off. Trust me, you start looking for the word you missed on your first reading.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Crown of Thorns !

Indian Cricket Captaincy is a Crown of Thorns that rests uneasy on the heads of those that have dared to take it on. Very few have understood it and enjoyed it for long. From Sunny ‪#‎Gavaskar‬ and ‪#‎Kapildev‬ musical chairs to the taint that demolished the stylish Azaruddin; it has gutted people of great substance. Saurav ‪#‎Ganguly‬ relished it initially but was later hunted out of Captaincy.‪#‎SRT‬ was the most miserable Captain we saw in his era. Rahul the Gentleman ‪#‎Dravid‬ resigned after winning a test series in England. Nobody knows why. ‪#‎Kumble‬ was almost driven out by the Indian fans keen to see the Messiah of those days take over the reigns. Thus‪#‎Dhoni‬ ruled, enjoyed and had huge success that culminated in 2011 World Cup win. But before the next world cup could begin, the thorns had grown too long and were pricking and hurting all over. Even his place in the side was being questioned. His defensive style was criticised by all and sundries, including myself. But I must admit, ‪#‎MSD‬ could have done precious little with a bowling unit that could not defend 450+ fourth innings targets and could take 20 wickets in an overseas test just once in a blue moon.
The Crown now is on the volatile head of the hyper talented and hyper aggressive Virat.
Will he buckle under pressure like SRT and RD ?
Will he go the ‪#‎Dada‬ way ?
Will he get Dhonied by the pressure ?
Or will he just show his middle finger and carry on being ‪#‎Virat‬ ?
Let's wait and watch. But for now, let's pledge all our goodwill and support to the Champion as he starts a new chapter in Indian Cricket 

Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans