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.