Monday, September 16, 2019

Steven Smith and the Extraordinary Story of Ordinary Batting (Around Him)


As Australia wobbled to lunch on what could be last day of Ashes 2019, here is the batting statistics of Australian batting unit. Some stunning facts.


No photo description available.Steven Smith has more 4s and 6s (91 + 5 = 96) in the series than the total runs scored by David Warner (95 from 10 innings), his partner in crime during Sandpaper scandal.

Labuschagne, the Concussion Replacement for Smith is the only other Australian batsman to have 50+ average and 300 plus runs.

Australian Openers scored a total of 197 runs from 20 innings. Warner and Harris ended at the bottom of batting averages with 9.5 (10 innings) and 9.66 (6 innings) respectively, while Bancroft ended up with 11 from 4 innings.

Apart from Smith and Labuschagne, no other Australian batsman has managed to average even 30, third best being 27 by Travis Head.

Mathew Wade has an innings of 110 and then 120 from remaining 9 innings, with a one last chance to improve.

With 769 and still the current innings remaining, Smith overtook Alistair Cook (766) for 5th highest runs in an Ashes series with only Bradman (twice), Hammond and Taylor above him.

Going into the last innings of the series, Smith is yet to be dismissed for a score less than 80 in the series, that in itself another incredible record.

In short, England lost the Ashes to Steven Smith, who exhibited the greatest batting performance in a single series in the new millennium. The humongous performance attains a Cult status when we realise the second highest run getter scored less than half of Smith.

Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Tribe of Indian Fast Bowlers



“Jasprit Bumrah you beauty”, “Mohammad Shami is ripping apart the middle order”, Ishant Sharma is making early breakthroughs”, these are some statements acknowledged by great players sitting in the commentary box and rejoicing to see the Indian Fast bowling hunting in the ground.

From the past two years, there has been a dramatic shift in the overall building of the Indian cricket team. The heavy Indian batting order has always been in talks but that has been overshadowed by the tribe of Indian pace bowlers in recent times. Indian fast bowlers have emerged in the International arena and are making inroads to the world dominance. The biggest addition to this pace attack has been undoubtedly Jasprit Bumrah along with Mohammad Shami & Ishant Sharma in the test format.

In 2018, the Indian pace attack combined took around 172 wickets with 133 wickets accomplished by the trio of Shami-Sharma-Bumrah. They have been phenomenal with their accuracy and have been consistently hitting the 140kmph mark and above. The Indian pace bowlers had the average of 23.72 better than their counterparts like NewZealand, England & Australia.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Boom: Once in a Lifetime Phenomenon !

India have played 550 plus tests till now. We've had history of flickers of good to fabulous bowling overshadowed by humongous runs piled by run machines like Hazare, Merchant, Tiger Pataudi, Vishwanath, Gavaskar, Mohindar, Azharuddin, Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag and Kohli.

Except for a perfect 10 by Kumble, a couple of test hat-tricks and the legendary spin quartet of the yore, Indian Cricket is an enduring story of batsmen lording over barren brown patches and capitulating like greenhorns on greener surfaces. We always lionised our batsmen or condemned them because we never really had a bowling unit that could claim 20 wickets in overseas tests. Ajit Wadeker and Kapil Dev achieved some success in West Indies and England. But consistent success abroad was a mirage for the Indian fans.

Though Ganguly was the first ever captain to dream big and aim for overseas test wins, he never got the bowlers to work as a unit. It was mostly one of them bowling well with others misfiring. That consistent hostility of the West Indies of 1970s and 80s, Pakistan in the Imran Khan to Wasim - Waqar era, Australia in the first decade of new millennium had always remained an elusive dream for Indian Cricket fans.

MSD was a revolutionary Captain in ODI Cricket. But he somehow became a passive spectator in overseas tests as Indian bowlers practically threw in the towel when faced with flat decks. When it comes to Test Cricket, Kohli is a different Captain. He might err with team selection, he may not be quite imaginative in his handling of spinners but he has brought in a hitherto unknown element into Indian Cricket. The consistently aggressive fast bowling unit that can claim 20 wickets in most tests. We aren't talking about the 130kmph variety but those who can keep it above 140 to 150 kmph even in the third session of the day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

World Beyond the Cup - Tete-a-tete with Cricket Bermuda

DHCF: The national team is nicknamed Gombey Warriors. What does it stand for?

BCB:  It is a tradition that began when blacks were first brought from Africa and the Caribbean. “Gombey” is derived from an African word meaning rhythm. They were originally intended to perform only on Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year’s Day – the two days of the year when they were given a rest from their labours. Its a tribute to them. The reference to ‘Warriors’ is the competitive spirit of the national teams, as we are always competing against countries with a much larger population. Read more on it here

DHCF: Bermuda is hosting the ICC WT20 Americas Qualifiers finals. How are preparations going both as a host and as a participant?

BCB: The preparations are going as planned. Our national Senior’ Men’s Coach Mr. Herbie Bascome is having a pool of 30+ players to select from.

DHCF: What is the target of the team with respect to WT20?

BCB: Our target is to qualify as one of the top 2 teams in this competition and advance to the final qualifying round later this year.

DHCF: We noticed Bermuda is still un-ranked in T20I. It must be due to less number of matches played. Does Bermuda plan to play more matches?

BCB:  The challenges all of our national sports groups face is the playing of regular and internationally ranked matches. Due to our geographical location, we are faced with the cost of travel and VISA requirements by visiting teams, via the USA or Canada. Due to the new ICC competition (World Cup Challenge League) structure we will have more frequent matches on a regular basis.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Grandson's Question: A Short Story

14 July 2059, Dublin, Ireland: It's festive atmosphere at Morgan's Cottage in quaint downtown Dublin. Well dressed men and gorgeous women of varying ages walking in with flowers, bouquets and antique gifts. The ambience is calm yet cheerful. Senior Mr. Morgan is receiving people with Mrs. Tara, his long time companion accompanying him.

Suddenly five year old grandson rushes in with his toy-gun and starts shooting his grandpa. Jovial grandpa fakes the act of taking bullets and falls back on the sofa. Grandson comes near Mr. Morgan and asks, "Grandpa, are you dead or alive ?" Grandpa opens his eyes, hugs the grandson and says, "I'm alive my boy, I'm alive, as alive as I was forty years ago !"

Grandson is curious at the festivities and asks, "But Grandpa, is it your birthday today? Why so many people are here congratulating you?" Grandpa replies, "Oh, it isn't my birthday Dear Trent, it is much bigger. Much more bigger than any birthday." The curious little Trent is even more curious now. "Really?" He asks, "Much bigger than birthday? What could be bigger than that Grandpa?"

Mr. Morgan replies proudly, "Oh, exactly forty years ago, we won the Cricket World Cup on this day and you know what? I was the Captain of the winning team !" The grandson is a sharp kid, "Come on Grandpa don't bluff. Ireland has never won the Cricket World Cup !"

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Rule of Rules

OK. So I am not able to understand the furore over the result of the final..Cricket is losing out over other sports (even in England)...So much so that they had to broadcast it free to air today...Today's game is a great example to promote our game in Latin America and countries who don't play cricket, as they would correlate with the tie breaker rule...Yes, I know, it is tough...It's more like a heart breaker 😞 to see Guptil today, crying and broken, was a tough sight... A BIG SALUTE TO THE GUY, WHO CARRIES ON, EVEN WITH JUST TWO TOES IN HIS ONE FOOT! A LEGEND! A MOTIVATION!
But so is Roger Federer, who faced another heart wrenching tie-breaker defeat todayπŸ˜– why no one saying that he should have been declared joint winner? Same is in football - one clear winner!
The thing is, cricket is a complex sport, with lots of nuances and intricate details...The game is being evolved each day, but also this is game which cannot keep on going on and on...The result has to be decided at some stage, and as today showed, in future also, there will be flaws with those new rules..

I Would have been most happy if trophy was shared today! NZ so deserved to win! Hats off! But luck favoured England, and they played well too... Commiseration to NZ and congratulations to England!

But I feel many people are just not happy coz they personally dislike England, for whatever reason! This has nothing to do with the brand of cricket shown by England in past 4 years, the way they totally revamped their style, culture and strategy! And they were no.1 side in the world before the tournament started.

Hare and Tortoise: Version 2019

It was decided to hold the much discussed Hare and Tortoise race once again. The hare felt it was cheated on earlier occasions. It believed it deserved to win the trophy because racing was invented by Harekind. All the supporters of hare said, "Give the trophy to the hare." Thus the race began.
Old habits die hard. Hare continued to hop and pop in fits and bursts. Tortoise continued with single minded dedication. After an eight and a half hour marathon, Tortoise crossed the finish line. But wait, by hopping and sliding through some lucky slopes, the hare too had crossed the line, exactly at the same time. It was a photo finish.
It was decided to hold a tie breaker. A shorter 10 minutes super race was conducted. Once again, Tortoise went ahead with same calm and composure and hare strutted toward finish line. Once again, the hare and tortoise finished over the line in an exact photo finish. After close to 9 hours of running, there was no difference between the hare and the tortoise. They had run the same distance twice over, finishing exactly in same time in both races.
"Enough is enough," said the International Clowns Council (ICC in short) that conducted the race and formulated the rules, "We've had enough evidence to say the hare is the winner." The agonised supporters of the tortoise asked, "But how ? Both of them ran same distance and covered it in same time twice over. Then how can one be declared a winner ? That is unfair! "

Friday, July 12, 2019

45 Minutes of Bad Play

“45 minutes of bad play and we are out of the tournament. Such is the knockout format of the World
Cup”. As Virat Kohli said this, 1.25 billion fans cried. Dhoni's run-out in the pen-ultimate over was a heart breaking moment. We knew it was all over once he was no longer there to take the team over the finishing line.

Such has been the tournament for the Indian team - the top order clicked in every match and we managed to grab the top spot in the group stage. Rohit, Shikhar, Kohli and even KL Rahul in the end played exceptional cricket to get the team through semis. But, at the back of the mind, there was always this the fear of middle order not being tested. It came back to haunt us. When it mattered the most, they failed. There was one straight-forward strategy which every team planned against India. Get the top 3 out early and you are in the game. No other team could do it but New Zealand played well to enter the finals at Lords.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Imran Tahir: The Runaway (Success) Story

Cricket World Cup Match 48: Australia Vs South Africa, 6 July 2019: Imran Tahir got Aaron Finch caught at short covers and started running. "Don't stop Imran Tahir, let him run !" said a Commentator. That was perhaps the last time he was replicating his most ridiculed, his most famed and most memed run in a ODI match. Imran Tahir's story can easily go down as a modern day Urban Myth. Or it can be called a "Runaway Success Story".

Mohammed Imran Tahir was born in Lahore, Pakistan on 27 March, 1979. Eldest born in a huge family, Tahir's running began pretty early in life at 16, when he began working for a pittance at Pace Shopping Mall in Pakistan. He wasn't able to make ends meet and thus kept running.

In between, he bowled leg spin and googly and played for Pakistan Under 19 and Pakistan A team. In an era dominated by Mushtaq Ahmed, Saqlain Mushtaq and other spinners, Imran Tahir just couldn't make it to the next level. He ran away to English County.

At 23, he was so desperate for more chances and a better living, he ran away to South Africa. As starved for a class spinner as India were for a genuine fast bowler in those days, South Africa embraced Imran Tahir with both hands and ever since, he has done most of his running for them.

Imran Tahir and his young wife survived on meagre income in early days in South Africa. He even drove cabs and worked in factories. But the attitude and passion of the man kept him going. Finally he made debut for South Africa on 24 February 2011, almost 32 by that time. He made his test debut in November the same year.

Imran Tahir holds some excellent and some dubious records.

  • He was ranked No. 1 bowler in both ODI Cricket and T20 Cricket in 2017, at the age of 38.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Bits and Pieces About Jadeja and Manjrekar

Scroll.in (who else can ?) has come out in defence of Sanjay Manjrekar and published an article with veiled criticism of Ravindra Jadeja. The article written by one Vinayakk Mohanarangan tries to portray Jadeja's attack on Manjrekar as an outcome of CSK Vs Mumbai Indians rivalry. It says Jadeja's Tweet could be motivated by his franchise.

Without going into merits or demerits of the article, I have a few simple bits and pieces of statistics to point out. 30 year old Jadeja has played 151 ODI matches before the world cup. He has scored over 2000 runs at an average of 29.9 and strike rate of 84. Jadeja also has taken 174 wickets with an average of 35.6 and economy rate of 4.88. Jadeja has 10 half centuries from 101 ODI innings and he is the best fielder in India if not in the world.
These are mind blowing statistics for a bowling Allrounder in limited overs Cricket. This is the player Manjrekar has branded as "Bits and Pieces Player". If that is not gross, Manjrekar goes a step ahead with, "Jadeja is purely a bowler in tests." Jadeja has a century and 10 fifties with over 1400 runs from 60 test innings and averages 32 in tests. Purely a bowler averages 32 in tests and has a 50 plus score every 6 innings, right ?

Manjrekar was wrong when he called Jadeja a "Bits and Pieces Player" and he was wrong when he called Jadeja "Purely a bowler in tests." Any article that tries to justify such utterly ridiculous opinion begins on the wrong foot and the only way it can end up is LBW (Low Brow Writing).

Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Some History and Some World Cup Misery

15th January, 1894: It was Western Australia playing against Victoria in an Australian First Class match. There was a tree just inside the boundary. According to rules prevailing in those days, batsmen can run "any number of runs" before the ball crosses the boundary.

A ball hit by one of the batsmen got stuck between two tiny branches on that really huge tree. Since the ball was within the boundary, the batsmen started running. They kept running as the fielding team tried routine methods like throwing stones to retrieve the ball. The ball was not going to budge, like Rahul Gandhi refusing to take back his resignation.

Some tried climbing the tree with futility. It was like defeating Modi in an election, impossible. Finally they called the fire engine ladder to reclaim the ball. Over an hour had lapsed by this time and the batsmen had completed 286 runs. Batsmen too were on the verge of exhaustion, having run close to three and a three quarter miles between those 22 yards. That is the highest runs scored of a single ball in the history of Cricket.

Now, what has this tiny bit of history got to do with the ongoing World Cup ? Well, big brother Pakistan play little brother Bangladesh on "Friday" the 5th July, hoping to qualify for the CWC 2019 Semifinals. They have pretty simple equations before them.

For Pakistan to qualify, they must beat Bangladesh by...
311 runs after scoring 350 Runs
316 runs after scoring 400 Runs
321 runs after scoring 450 Runs

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

A Tribute To Bumrah: 30 Years Before He Was Born

A confident Saifuddin gestured to Rubel to play out the last 2 balls of Bumrah's last over, the 5th and 6th balls of 48th over of Bangladesh innings. Saif believed he had his chances to get those 29 runs of the remaining 2 overs of Shami and Bhuvan, especially Shami being his target. It was a reasonable hope but Bumrah had other plans and we know what he did to Rubel and Mustafizur of exactly those 2 balls. He left Saif deflated at the non-striker's end and that was the end !
When Bumrah bowls at death, he must be played out. Don't try to hit him. Just stay there because these are balls of fire. These are not my words. These were beautifully expressed in a song from the 1964 Hindi movie "Dooj Ka Chand". Manna Dey made this fervent request to lower order batsmen in lyrics written by Sahir Ludhianvi. Music was composed by Roshan.
Manna Dey repeatedly tells tail end batters "Don't hit, don't hit - Na Maaro Na Maaro". The song goes thus.
Full Gendwa Na Maaro, Na Maaro,
Lagat Karejwa me Chot
It pleads, "Please don't hit the full ball. It will hurt inside the chest." Sahir clearly expresses the desperation of Coaches and well settled batsmen like Saifuddin at the non striker's end. As the ball demolishes the heart of the timber behind the batsman, hit hurts the hearts of the Coach, partner and all the supporters.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

World Cup 2019: Warming Up

Getty Images
The league phase of the World Cup is well and truly underway with a few marquee matches done and dusted. After the opening salvos, the teams are gradually getting into their grooves and a clearer picture of the likely Top 4 is emerging. It is still early days, but we have had many permutations & combinations thrown haywire not on account of any surprise results but with the rain pouring down! Here are the highlights.

Player of the tournament – On current form, it is the English weather which has played a major part in turning the points table topsy-turvy. West Indies & Bangladesh would certainly feel robbed of a point each against South Africa & Sri Lanka respectively. Sri Lanka meanwhile have clambered to 5th spot based on two rained-off encounters! Also rain put in a dampener at the end of the India-Pakistan clash but didn’t do enough as the teams were forced to take the field for five more overs!

7-Nil: India-Pakistan was the marquee match of the tournament, with some over-zealous reporters hyping it up further on account of recent tensions between the countries. But the gulf in class between the teams is just too wide as India extended their dominance over Pakistan in the World Cups! There is more hype than substance in the rivalry now as it was another emphatic win for India.

Something is rotten - After South Africa, it was now Afghanistan’s turn for some team chaos. Mohammed Shahzad was declared unfit and replaced. However, he claims otherwise and now wishes to quit the game altogether. The first signs of tensions in the Afghan fairytale!

The injured brigade – The list keeps going bigger and bigger with every passing game. Some players replaced (Steyn, Shahzad), others have their replacements in place but are not officially out yet (Dhawan, Stoinis).

Monday, June 17, 2019

India Pakistan CWC 2019 Match: Lessons Learned !

Pakistan PM Imran Khan wrote a long and passionate message on Twitter to motivate Pakistan team. He exhorted them to try and give their best in the India-Pakistan match and fight till the last ball. He categorically asked Sarfaraz Ahmed to bat first if he won the toss.
Sarfaraz Ahmed won the toss. He promptly chose to bowl. He was yawning widely while keeping and fell asleep while batting as the asking run rate crashed through the roof. Forget the last ball, Pakistan were out of the game after Amir finished his 4th over.
Even with Duckworth Lewis looming large, they were never in the hunt after the 20th over while batting and each over widened the gulf between DL target and Pakistan score. And then it was all over in the 35th over. There was no fight left.
A disinterested looking India went through the motions when play resumed for those farcical 5 overs with Pakistan needing over 25 runs every over. Even if Dhoni, Kohli, Rahul, Rohit and some Indian fan from the crowd had bowled those 5 overs, India still would have won handsomely. It was a total non-contest, quite like the crowd; India all the way.
So what are the lessons learned for Pakistan ?
1. Sarfraz Ahmed doesn't care for CWC history
2. Damn, Imran Khan's message was in English

Saturday, June 15, 2019

World Beyond the Cup - Tete-a-tete with Federazione Cricket Italiana

First of all we would like to thank Mr. Kelum Asanka Perera, Member of the Italian Olympic Committee, Director of Cricket - Federazione Cricket Italiana and also the head coach of the Italian national team, for taking time out to answer our questions.

DHCF: Italy is usually associated with Football but what people don’t know is that cricket has a rich history in Italy. Even the famous clubs like AC Milan were initially cricket and football clubs. With Italy now been granted T20I status and International cricket action on the horizon, what does it mean for the future ?

Kelum: T20I status obviously means a lot, as all the matches played against other countries will have an impact on our global ranking. It is definitely a positive move taken by the ICC.

DHCF: Italy’s recent performances in the previous WC and WT20 qualifiers had been exceptional and beyond expectations for a few. Italy is now regarded as one of the strongest teams in mainland Europe after the Dutch. How is Italy planning to build on it? What is the next target for Italy?

Kelum: The performances have been good so far, but we have not achieved our final target. We want to create a professional and healthy environment around the team. The target is far ahead and we keep taking one step at a time..

DHCF: What is the domestic cricket structure like in Italy?

Kelum: There are many different competitions.
The first division, called SERIE A is the 50 over competition, played by 6 teams.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Emerging Cricket : Home of Cricket's New World

Cricket is one of the most watched and popular sports in the world after football. With ICC opening the gates for its member nations by giving them the T20I status, the interest levels have risen in the non traditional cricketing countries.

Who would have thought a couple of years back that we will witness Germany and Belgium play an international cricket match !

The multi-level league structure to determine the participants at the ICC marque events, the WT20 and the CWC, will ensure that there are a plenty of international cricket matches played by the new teams and they improve over time. We already see players from associate nations making their mark in the various T20 leagues.

But where do I get know about the exciting upcoming talent from the associate world? 
With so many teams, where do I get to know who is playing who and when? 
...
...
...
Where do I get all the news and insights on this cricket's new world? 
The answer is Emerging Cricket

Quoting EC - "By providing meaningful content from those at the coalface; players, coaches, administrators and fans  – where every corner of cricket’s new world is represented and celebrated – our mission is to be the trusted voice of the emerging cricket world, the go-to place for cricket fans to be engaged and inspired by stories from the Associates and beyond."
Let's spread the word and engage with Emerging Cricket to help it grow and make it an even more vibrant community. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Yuvi: The Rajnikanth Of Cricket

Rajnikanth is that eternal hero who beats the villains and defies death to emerge victorious in the end, in movie after movie after movie. Rajni cannot die, Rajni won't die. He might get battered, bruised, tortured and killed but he won't die. Bleading, soiled and tottering, he will stand up one more time, toss his hair off his forehead and declare, "Kanna Panninka Thaan Koottama Varum. Singam Singallaa Thaan Varum." Kid, the pigs come in a herd, the Lion comes alone !
Yuvraj Singh fondly known as Yuvi was the Rajnikanth of Cricket. He won the Under 15 World Cup, Under 19 World Cup, the T20 World Cup and the 2011 CWC. He carried a tumour in his chest and batted in pain to see India home to glory in 2011, rightfully named the Man of the Tournament.
Yuvi was the epitome of style. He was the Style Icon. When he drove through the covers, it was like Rajni's cigarette flick. It set the stadiums ablaze. When he pulled over midwicket, it contained the punch. When he played those gigantic lofted shots, they were statements like those famous Rajni one-liners.
Yuvi dived and plucked catches from thin air, pretty much like Rajni snatched guns from the hands of villains. Yuvi was dismissed as pie-chucker when he bowled but he would catch the big fish with the same stealth and felicity as shown Rajni when he misleads villains with his wits.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

World Cup Cricket : India vs Australia


Matches against the Aussies are never easy specially when there is a burden of history to be overcome. India vs Australia has been one of the most celebrated cricket rivalries in recent times. In pure cricketing terms, it has surpassed the India vs Pakistan matches.

Australians have won 8 of the 11 World Cup matches between the two nations. There have been some very close encounters - Chennai (1987) and Brisbane (1992). Australia won both by one solitary run.

Who can forget the match in 1996 when the Indians snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Indian batting collapsed after Sachin Tendulkar was stumped off a wide ball and left the Indian fans in

Friday, June 7, 2019

World Cup 2019: Opening Salvos

Image result for cwcFinally, everyone has got a game in the World Cup. Even India! Fans were worried for a while that Team India might not have been a part of tournament. But worry not we are still there! 

So what can we take away from the opening salvos of the tournament? 
  • India let everyone have a go before turning up and showing they are in the game. For the first time in history, have a more exciting bowling options than the batting ones. 
  • New Zealand have been resilient and winning. They are still very likeable but also getting a tad boring. 
  • Pakistan have shown they are the unpredictable (how predictable is that statement). Blown away against the West Indies and then smashing almost 350 against England 
  • England have settled on the formula that they perfected over the last 4 years. Keep smashing the ball. Strong batting with a not so strong bowling. Can deliver most games but you can’t account for the maverick factor, that is Pakistan. 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

World Beyond the Cup - Tete-a-tete with Cricket Namibia

DHCF: Namibia caught the eye of the cricketing world when they qualified for the 2003 WC. With a solid showing in the WCL Div 2, how confident is Namibia going forward and of making it to the 2023 edition. How is it planning to conquer the challenge?

CN: It is still a long way to go to the 2023 World Cup. It is however the ultimate goal over the next 4 years and we will look to build step by step. We need to consistently play good cricket, under a strong culture with emphasis on our training. We can't just be a one-tournament-wonder kind of team to make it up the rankings and compete at ODI level with the full members.

DHCF: Finally winning an ODI must have been really satisfying. It shows that Namibia is on the right path. How is Namibia planning to build on it ?

CN: We’ll have to improve our skill sets, improve our professionalism even more. With a good structure and culture in place we’ll continue to try and do these things over the next few months.


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The World of Cricket World Cups - Part 6 - 1996 Knockouts

A picture containing person, baseball, grass, fence

Description automatically generatedThe first of the quarter finals was played in Faisalabad between Sri Lanka and England. It was almost a one-sided affair with Sri Lanka dominating the proceedings. England managed to reach a score of 235/8 with no real contribution from any of the main batsman. In reply, the English were blown away in the storm of Sanath Jayasuriya, who scored 82 off 44 balls.
Such consistently explosive batting at the top of the order was unseen till that time. In those days when 50-60 runs in first 15 overs was considered a good score, Sri Lanka was scoring above 100 runs, which laid a solid platform for the middle order to come in and capitalise on. Sri Lanka won the match easily by 5 wickets with more than 9 overs to spare, thus ending the embarrassing run of English team in the tournament.
A group of baseball players on a field

Description automatically generatedThe second quarter-final on the same day was the most anticipated clash of the tournament, between the arch-rivals India and Pakistan in Bangalore. Pakistan were dealt a huge blow with the absence of captain Wasim Akram, nursing an injury. Batting first, India got to a good start with Sachin and Navjot Sidhu before Sachin got out for 31 runs. Sidhu continued in the company of Sanjay Manjrekar and Azharuddin and got for 93 runs, missing out on a well-deserved century. Pakistan had control of the match with India having scored 230 runs in 46 overs. This is when Ajay Jadeja came to party and played one the cameos which is vivid in the minds of Indian cricket lovers till today. He scored a brisk 45 off 25 balls, and belted Waqar Younis all over the ground, who gave away 18 and 22 runs respectively in his final 2 overs. India finished at a formidable score of 287/8, with the tail-enders Srinath and Kumble also scoring useful boundaries.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Virat - The Making of a Champion - Review

What is the first word that comes to mind while discussing about Virat Kohli?
Most people would say 'passion'!

"Virat - The Making of a Champion" by sports journalists Neeraj Jha and Vidhanshu Kumar chronicles Kohli's journey - from cricket camp to becoming the world's best batsman across formats, shouldering the hope of more than a billion people, and be the champion that he is.

The book talks about each and every aspect of Virat's life:

Personal - his equation with his parents, his rapport with his coach, influence of his life partner, his dynamics with the fans and the sacrifices he made to reach where he is.

Professional - His hunger for runs, his passion for the game, becoming the biggest celebrity brand, fitness icon, an influencer, transforming himself and the Indian team's culture, his records and achievements, and of course the controversies.

The World of Cricket World Cups - Part 5 - 1996 Group Stage

The 1996 Cricket World Cup was also known as ‘Wills World Cup’, after the brand of it’s official sponsor, ITC. The world cup was being hosted in the Indian subcontinent again after 1987 edition, and the craze and frenzy was unmatched. India and Pakistan had been performing well for the past few years, and they were one of the prime favourites to win the cup on home soil. Pakistan were the defending champions, with an excellent combination of youth and experience. India had found a superstar of their own in Sachin Tendulkar, who success had become paramount for India’s win in any match. It was believed that India’s chances to win a match take a major downward dip if he gets out early, which was proven by the fact that most of Indian households used to switch off their tv sets once Sachin got out. Sri Lanka on the other hand, were on a rise with some very good players rising in the ranks, but still, they weren’t considered to be a favourite to go the distance.
The format of this world cup was changed again, with teams divided in two groups. Three new Associate teams were included this time: Kenya, Netherlands and United Arab Emirates. Group A comprised of India and Sri Lanka, along with Australia, West Indies, Zimbabwe and Kenya. Group B comprised of Pakistan, New Zealand, England, South Africa, Netherlands and United Arab Emirates. Top 4 teams from each group would qualify for the quarter finals. India hosted 17 matches at as many venues, Pakistan hosted 16 matches at 6 venues and Sri Lanka 4 matches at 3 venues.
Controversy: There were bomb blasts in Colombo in January 1996, as Sri Lanka was still struggling with militancy by Tamil Tigers. This worried the touring teams Australia and West Indies about their security, and they refused to go to Sri Lanka to play their matches, even after safety assurances by ICC. As a result, Sri Lanka was declared winner by walkover and awarded 2 points each for these matches, which meant that they virtually qualified for the quarter finals even before playing a match.
Group A
India started off their campaign on a good note against Kenya in Cuttack, chasing a target of 200 with 7 wickets and 8 overs to spare. Sachin Tendulkar played a fine knock of 127 not out. They continued their good show against West Indies in Gwalior, in a match which was dubbed as a

Thursday, May 30, 2019

A Tale of Two Pictures

Pic 1 – Captains lounging around
When the teacher is not around, the boys lounge around, one of them even has the audacity to sit with feet on the sofa. The picture of the cool relaxed T20 atmosphere.

Pic 2 – All in formals, meeting the Queen. The new Queensguard!
Looks like a formal class photo with everyone looking prim and proper. The very picture of the Gentleman’s Game i.e. Test cricket, embodying the “game’s spirit” as well.

Andrew Flintoff predicts the fate of all 10 teams in the World Cup

Here’s the video of Flintoff’s bold predictions:

The Indian World Cup Moments

The biggest cricketing show on the planet is about to start. The players and viewers have warmed up with two games each amongst them, sorting out their lineups, giving finishing touches to their strategies, using DRS, even getting a taste of the fickle English weather with games getting washed off. Only M/s Duckworth-Lewis didn't make an appearance.

While we wait for the actual tournament to start, its time for a nostalgia trip. So here we go presenting Slipstream Cricket’s favourite memories of the Indian World Cup campaigns starting from 1992 onwards (I have barely any recollection of 1983 & 1987 editions and wasn’t around for the first two). Instead of whole games, I have selected passages of play. So here we go Slipstream Cricket’s favourite Indian World Cup Moments (in no particular order).

1. The Toss (2011) – Kumara Sangakkara forgetting (or pretending to) what he called in the Toss in the 2011 Final!. Referee didn’t/couldn’t hear the call over the crowds and they had to do the toss again leaving a bemused Dhoni! (Somehow, seems very fishy in hindsight).
2. The Winning Moment (2011) – Dhoni smashing Kulasekara for 6 as India lifted the World Cup for a second time ending a 28-year wait. Will we see an encore? Hope so. 

3. The Response (1996) – Venkatesh Prasad to Aamer Sohail. Hit for a boundary, sledged by the batsman and then sends his stumps cart-wheeling the very next ball. The perfect response.

4. The Opening Salvo (2003) – Tendulkar upper-cutting Akhtar for 6 as India set to chase down Pakistan’s 274 run target.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

World Beyond the Cup - Tete-a-Tete with Brian Mantle, CEO, Cricket Germany

Image result for german cricket teamThis interview is our second one with Brian. The first one https://www.diehardcricketfans.in/2013/06/in-conversation-with-brian-mantle.html was 6 years back.
We wanted to do a follow up interview go gauge the progress made by German Cricket in these years.

DHCF : What is the difference you see in German Cricket since the time of our last conversation back in 2013? How much has changed in terms of both numbers and structure?

BM: German cricket is completely different to 2013. The numbers have gone through the roof and we now have about 6000 people playing competitive hard ball cricket in Germany. We have an established women's structure with more and more teams and the amount of refugees from cricket playing countries, particularly Afghanistan, has seem men's cricket teams sprouting up all over the country. We have established performance pathways and are currently in the middle of the fifth season of the DCB Super Series which is our performance competition. This didn't exist way back in 2013 and it has seen an improvement in high level cricket.

DHCF: It is so refreshing to see Germany playing against Belgium/Italy not in a football match but a cricket match. What do you think has been the impact of T20I status been given to Associate nations? With official international matches on the horizon, what does it translate into in terms of support and growth?

BM: It intensifies everything we do. These games being T20Is adds meaning to all the games. There is also a clear and simple structure to ICC T20 tournaments and every country now knows what they have to do in order to reach the next stage of World Cup qualification and even to get to the biggest stage of all. In T20 cricket at least the glass ceilings have been taken out.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The World of Cricket World Cups - Part 4 - 1992

The 5th edition of the World Cup was hosted by Australia and New Zealand, officially known as ‘Benson & Hedges World Cup’. It was a ‘first’ in many respects:

  • Coloured clothing and day-night matches in floodlights with white balls and black sight-screens.
  • The format of the tournament was ‘round-robin’, which meant that each team would play the rest 8 teams once and the top four teams would proceed to semi-final stage.
  • The World Cup was being held in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time
  • There was also a logo commemorating the World Cup for the first time.

The teams were the same from previous edition, with the addition of South Africa, making it 9 teams in total. South Africa was included as a full member nation for the first time, after ending their ban of 22 years due to ‘apartheid’ – a system of institutionalised racial segmentation in South Africa which oppressed the Black, coloured and Asian South Africans.
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India started off poorly, losing the opening  match against England, game against Sri Lanka getting
washed out and losing to Australia (incidentally again by the margin of 1 run, as in World Cup 1987). Indian team returned to winning ways in the high voltage match against arch-rivals Pakistan. This was the first time these 2 teams were meeting at a World Cup and the match had its moments of skill and emotions on the field. The most noteworthy effort was of a young Sachin Tendulkar, scoring 54 not out and then taking the crucial wicket of Aamer Sohail, who was playing well and looking set to take Pakistan across India’s total of 216. Sachin was adjudged ‘Man of the Match’ for the 5th time in his career. Little did anyone know at the time that he would go on to win the award for a record 62 times in ODIs! The match is also remembered for the Javed Miandad - Kiran More verbal spat, which resulted in Javed hilariously jumping up and down, visibly irritated by the constant enthusiastic appealing by Kiran More. This match started India’s domination and winning streak over Pakistan in the World Cups, which continues till date. It can only be guessed how India managed to upstage Pakistan in these pressure matches in World Cups, especially during 90’s, when the Pakistan team used to dominate the Indian team comprehensively.
India continued its winning habit by defeating Zimbabwe in next game but crashed out of the contention of a semi final berth by losing its remaining matches to West Indies, New Zealand and South Africa. India finally finished at 7th spot, only above Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
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Pakistan, on the other hand, had exactly opposite journey. After 5 matches, they were almost out of the tournament with just one win and a match washed out against England (which they would have mostly lost being bowled out for a paltry  score of 74). West Indies had already defeated them by 10 wickets in their first match chasing 221. Pakistan had just lost 2 wickets in 50 overs and still just scored 220 and their bowlers didn’t take a single wicket. The situation was completely hopeless. That is when Imran Khan stepped up in his role of leading from the front and motivated his team. He came out for the toss wearing a t-shirt sporting a tiger and gave his now famous ‘cornered tigers’ speech. His motivation bore fruits and Pakistan won their last three matches, including defeating the undefeated New Zealand. Pakistan were helped when Australia defeated West Indies in the last match before knock-out stages, which made Pakistan finish at number four and make a place in semi-final.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The World of Cricket World Cups - Part 3 - 1987

A group of people posing for the camera

Description automatically generatedIndia’s win in 1983 created a huge market for the game in the Indian subcontinent, resulting in the showpiece event coming to India and Pakistan, sponsored by Reliance. The teams and format were same, but the number of overs were reduced to 50 per innings from 60 overs, as the daylight in Indian subcontinent doesn’t last as long as it does in England. India was drawn in Group A with Australia, New Zealand and Zimbabwe. India lost its opening match to Australia by an agonising margin of 1 run but won all the remaining 5 matches after that to top the Group. India unearthed a new hero in Navjot Singh Sidhu, who became famous as ‘sixer Sidhu’  for hitting sixes at will. Pakistan were the toppers in Group B. This resulted in the following semi-final line up- India facing England in Mumbai and Pakistan facing Australia in Lahore. The stage was set for a mouth-watering Indo-Pak clash in a World Cup final in Kolkata.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The World of Cricket World Cups - Part 2 - 1983

A person standing in front of a crowd of people watching a baseball game

Description automatically generatedThe third edition of the World Cup was again sponsored by Prudential, known as ‘Prudential Cup ‘83’. India was drawn in Group B with West Indies, Australia and Zimbabwe, the newest entrant at World Cup. The team was being led by Kapil Dev, who would go on to be declared the ‘Indian player of the century’ by Wisden in 2002. There was a change in the format this year, with each team playing other teams twice in the group. The top 2 teams from each group would then advance to the semi-final. Given the dismal performance of team India in previous two editions, no one really gave them any chance.
India started off unbelievably well this time, defeating West Indies in their first match and handing the two-time world champions their first ever loss at the tournament. They followed it up with a win against Zimbabwe. Just when things seemed to be going on track, India suffered back-to-back defeats against Australia and West Indies. With 2 wins in 4 matches, India could not afford to lose another match as other teams were also in the hunt for the semi final berth. Then came the match against Zimbabwe at Turnbridge Wells on June 18. India were in all sorts of trouble at 17/5. In came Kapil Dev, who not only played a captain’s innings, but one that is still considered as one of the best ODI innings ever. He scored 175 not out in just 138 balls, hitting 16 fours and 6 towering sixes, to take India to 266/8.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The World of Cricket World Cups - Part 1

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Description automatically generated“It’s that time of the year again, when all of India will be glued to the TV sets for more than a month.” No, this is not a delayed post, I am not referring to IPL. Maybe I should correct myself – “So it’s that time of ‘once in 4 years’ again, when all of India and millions around the world will be glued to the TV sets for more than a month.” Yes, you guessed it right! It’s Cricket World Cup 2019!!! With less than 2 weeks remaining till the start of the tournament, the excitement should be reaching high levels. But the usual frenzy, the mania doesn’t seem to be the same as seen in earlier editions. Maybe the people are still recovering from the nail-biter of an IPL final few days ago.
However, it provides me an opportunity to express my love for the game and rewind and relive the rich history of the World Cup Cricket. Who would have guessed that the very first One Day International match played on 5th January 1971 to compensate for the three days of a test match being washed away, will become one of the most popular formats of the game? Even with the advent of 20-20 cricket in the last decade or so, the charm and the significance of the 50 over World Cup is paramount.

In the first part of this journey of reliving the World Cups, I will share some of the important and historical facts and events, some interesting anecdotes and trivia for the uninitiated from the World Cups of 1975 and 1979.


World Cup 1975
England
Officially known as ‘Prudential Cup ‘75’, this was the first of the showcase events of cricket. It had only 8 teams – the test playing nations England, Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand as well as 2 associate nations in Sri Lanka and East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania & Zambia). India was drawn in Group A with England, New Zealand and East Africa. The interesting fact was – each innings was 60 overs, which continued till 1987, when the 50 over format was introduced.