Wednesday, June 19, 2019

World Cup 2019: Warming Up

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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