Saturday, February 22, 2020

Poonam and Shafali: Beauty and the Beast

"Poonam has become a favourite adjective in the skippers' dictionary. Whenever a match is in a fix, skippers call Poonam to address it. And, she has always used her weapons with sheer flair and twisted games in favour of her team," said Reema Malhotra, former India leg-spinner and now a commentator about Poonam Yadav the 28 year old Indian Leg Spinner.
Yes, she indeed repeated her act once again today when Alyssa Healey was running away with the match with her team at 67/2, chasing 133 for a win in the India Vs Australia T20WC group match. Beginning with the scalp of Alyssa Healey, Poonam turned the match head over heels in a matter of next 7 overs. Though women's Cricket cannot match the men's game in terms of power, dynamics and skill, the artistry of players like Poonam makes it worth watching. She was giving unbelievable flight to the ball, ball after ball. Some of her leg breaks went up in the air, stood there for some time as if reluctant to come down and then left the batters bamboozled on the descent.
The Googly has become the most dreaded weapon in her armory, especially because she is more consistent with the Googly than her stock leg spinning balls. Poonam now is India's highest wicket taker in T20 Internationals and was decorated with Arjuna Award in 2019. Sidelined by injury for most part of India's preparations for the 2020 T20WC, Poonam had ceded her place to the relentlessly consistent Radha Yadav. But the Team management decided to rope in Poonam for the X-Factor or should we call it Y-Factor ? If not for Keeper Tania Bhatia missing a tough catch, Poonam could have had a Hat trick today. This incidentally is the third time she's missed a Hat trick.

Kohli, the Mortal and Immortal Words of Sahir Ludhianvi

2011 April 2: Somewhere around the delayed dinner time of millions of Indians, Mahendra Singh Dhoni launched that famous six to win the second Cricket World Cup for India. Coming 28 years after the first win, Indian fans were over the Moon.
We had Sehwag, Gambhir, Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Kohli, Dhoni, Raina and our test team boasted of Dravid and Laxman too. But over the next 3 years, Dravid and Laxman retired after back to back 4-0 drubbing in test series in England and Australia. Sehwag and Gambhir fell into bad times. Yuvraj Singh could never be the same force after he came back from cancer and Raina slipped into mediocrity. SRT was given a staged farewell at Mumbai. With only Virat Kohli going from strength to strength, MSD too retired midway through a test series Down Under.
Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane had formed a new top order that fought the loss of an entire generation of greats who dominated the decade between 2000 and 2010. Rohit Sharma's emergence as a superlative top order batsman in limited overs Cricket practically coincided with the decline of Sehwag. Indian Cricket marched into newer heights in spite of lack of big titles.
"I can go on with the same intensity for another two-three years. If you ask me when I am 34 - 35, my priorities and answers might be different..." said India Captain Virat Kohli when asked about the hectic schedule and his unflagging intensity. That pretty much sums up life as well as Cricket. Even Sachin Tendulkar has left and it's almost 6 years and India have only got better.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

10 Years of Resurgent Indian Cricket


2010s decade started with a bang for Indian cricket. The team led by charismatic Mahendra Singh Dhoni, with his uncanny techniques, tasted quite a lot success in the shorter formats. 
2011, the Cricket World Cup returned to Indian sub-continent and there was a likely chance of India winning the cup, knowing home conditions well. April 2, 2011, 120 crore Indians lived the dream after 28 years of wait. A memory for lifetime.


2013, India added another feather in the cap. ICC Champions trophy, aka mini world cup. India won by defeating the tournament favourites England. Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Indian cricket achieved almost everything which was required in the big stage arena. Team was doing well in the shorter formats amid some hiccups in the 2014 & 2016 T-20 World Cup tournaments.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Twenty19 Lineup

As the year 2019 AD comes to a close, time to take a look back and present the Slipstream Cricket XI of 2019 – things to remember the cricketing year going by. 

1. Men’s ODI World Cup cricket 
England are champions or are they? When Super Over seems an unfair way to decide any game, forget a World Cup Final, Boundary count is just downright crueler. If only Martin Guptill’s throw was off-target. 

2. Performance of the Year 
Kusal Perera’s 153* to win Sri Lanka a Test in South Africa. Close competition from Ben Stokes’s twin feats, at the biggest stages – the World Cup Final at Lords and the Ashes Test at Edgbaston. And of course there was Anjali Chand’s 6/0 for Nepal against Maldives. Which brings us to 

3. Debutantes 
There were international debuts galore with ICC giving T20I status to all. So the new entrant list is huge. 
  • Men’s ODI - Oman 
  • Men’s T20I – Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cayman Islands, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Italy, Jersey, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, USA, Vanuatu 
  • Women’s T20I – Argentina, Austria, Belize, Bhutan, Canada, Costa Rica, Fiji, France, Germany, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Jersey, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Mali, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Tanzania, USA, Vanuatu, Zimbabwe. Meanwhile Botswana, Brazil, Chile, China, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Uganda, UAE had made their maiden appearance last year itself. 
This created a nightmare for statisticians (And cricket is a game which loves statistics). There were lopsided results galore with many unwanted international records being set. However, there were some stunning results as well e.g. Singapore beating Zimbabwe in T20I, Thailand qualifying for Women’s ODI World Cup and Japan entering the U-19 World Cup. Certainly good for the global game!