Sunday, February 27, 2011

Waddaaaa match !!!

The India England tie played on Feb 27 2011 in the 10th ICC 50-50 Cricket World Cup would be remembered for ages by cricket fans. It resembled a see-saw in its prime condition. India ? England ? Yes, no no ,Ooooooo , ahhhhhh, Oh no ,Crap ,Damn, it had everything ! On display was tremendous skill, will power, human emotions, crisis management and plain common sense. It would be a great advertisement case study as part of a management course. I want to highlight top 10 points / observations that I personally feel contributed to this match . Would love your thoughts to be appended to this in the form of comments:

10. Rain rain go away , come again another day - Exactly what happened! Both teams must offer their prayers to the rain gods.

9a. Pieterson - Caught and bold Munaf Patel - Both batsman and bowler flabbergasted ! Flicked it from a TV commentator.

9b. Bresnan - Muscularly built giant came in at the end and mesmerized the Indian batsmen with unplayable deliveries. Ended up with dream figures of 5/48. Well done mate!

8. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar - Its said that even babies begin to understand cricket when Tendulkar beings to bat! SRT at his best , a super duper 100 ,what more could the crowd ask for ?

7. Strauss stressed us out - Strauss played a blinder. Captain's knock. Superbly executed. Completely overshadowed Tendulkar .Its not often that the last one happens but it did today and Strauss deserves complete credit for that magical knock.

6. Caught but not out ! - Hey hello , "Howz that" ! None of that happened. Strauss was so calm that the Indians didn't want to stress even the umpire. Strauss was caught twice but no one could freaking hear the knicks and hence, no one appealed. Good lord, can we please give a repeater that repeats the sounds from the stump microphone so that the wicket keeper can follow sound patterns ??

5. Who belled Bell ? - Yuvi belled Bell. Bell was sure he was belled . Umpire wasn't . Entire India was. The only other exception was the 2.5meter adhering UDRS system that said Bell hadn't been belled. He then belled the indian bowlers till Zaheer finally belled him !

4. Piyush Chawla - I imagine he would say the following about his performance today - I started out well, replaced that Sreesanth, got bowling before Bhajji paaji , got Trott out when he began to look dangerous. I then bowled a lot of rubbish to Strauss saab and Bell sir , oh in my town also we have a big bell by the way. MSD sir then gave me the 49th over. I told him No no i don't want but he still gave and I didn't know where to bowl. I felt my head was turning and turning in circles when I thought the ball had to turn and turn. Somehow over was over. Later when I saw the scoreboard, I realised that English babus hit me for 2 sixes and I got one wicket. Do you know if I got the wicket with a straighter one or with a googly?

3. Power plays are killer plays especially when you have Zaheer - Dhoni was devoid of any more ideas when Strauss called for the Power play. Fielders were forced to come in and ding dong , everything changed!!! England didn't know what to do. Zaheer knew exactly what to do! The entire field setting did the trick!

2. SBS - If you were wondering if this was a brand,then you're wrong. It stands for Swann, Bresnan and Shehzad - who smashed 3 sixes , scored 28 of the 29 runs in the last 2 overs. Indian tailenders were pathetic. More of that in point 1 !

1. 338/9 to 339 all out to 338 all out - 50th over, 5th ball - last 2 batsmen at the crease. What do you do ? Try and steal a couple of singles and/or slog . Zaheer hit the ball to mid wicket, and set off for what looked like a single . But then the madness set in . Insane running followed and Zaheer was out! Beats me why they attempted 2 runs . Wait wait wait! Wasn't over. The shocker followed . The umpire at square leg signaled that the first run was short.The only person who could have done that was Munaf Patel. Patelji , well done!

Anyway, the final result Tie was probably the best result . Thankfully this was not a semi final like the one between South Africa and Australia in the 99' World Cup where one of the teams there had to be eliminated! Kudos to a fan , wait for it , tastic match!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oh the Windies!

I have been a West Indies cricket fan since I remember. In the 90s and even at the beginning of the last decade, I always used to support the Windies even when they played India with the Trinidadian Brian Charles Lara being my favorite player of all time. Crowning glory was when I visited Trinidad and Tobago a couple of years back and even got a small gift there of Lara celebrating after his epic 400 not out.

I have however stopped watching their matches over the last few years (occasionally I do like when Gayle hit Brett Lee out of the park in the 20-20 tournament) coz' of their pathetic performances and absence of any proper team. Another reason being I feel "ontara" hurt to see them lose!

Today though, I was tempted to watch their game because its the world cup and I hadn't seen most of their players . They started out in promising fashion but showed their penchant for collapsing , not once but twice! Then they bowled . Ah, what a pity that was!! A 6'3 inch bowler bowling spin( he was not bad though) and a 6'7 inch bowler bowling lollipops(slow medium bowling!). I think I have seen local bowlers bowl faster than him in the nets! All in all ,the team had 3 batsmen in Gayle, Darren Bravo and Dwayne Bravo and for some reason and they hid Pollard till the last minute . In the bowling department, they had 2 and a half bowlers in Roach, Benn and Bravo ( Bravo got injured mid way and hence the half!). The remaining attack seemed absolutely listless.

I must say a couple of words about Darren Bravo - Today was the first time I saw him bat. He is apparently a blood relative of Brian Lara and you can see the resemblance in the way he bats as well. A few crisp drives were a treat to the eye( The reason I like the highlights package!) Anyway, well played South Africa! AB's square drives were something else today.

All in all, I hope the Windies make the quarter finals somehow for their fans around the world, who are very desperate to see them perform!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day of the underdogs..

Visited the cricinfo website this evening at 5.40pm to see if the match between Eng and Netherlands( a football clash between the same teams would have been something else!) was over but what I saw was this : Netherlands - 228/3 , 45th over with Ryan Doeschate on 98. A pleasant surprise indeed. I imagined the crowd chanting "upset upset upset"! He soon reached 100 with a single and 4 overthrows , that also indicated England's poor fielding. The target for England was a pretty challenging 290+ score, that they acheived after several nervous moments during the chase.Mr Ryan Doeschate was again all over by snapping a couple of wickets. The crowd was firmly behind the underdogs but unfortunately they fell short by a few runs. It was sad to see the century man in orange sit down on the turf after such a fantastic performance with his hands on his head . Well, Doeschate - don't worry , even if the Dutch don't win , am sure you will get paid well in the IPL! ( He will be playing for KKR this season).

While watching the final minutes of the chase, I changed the channel and was surprised to see Roger Federer playing India's only hope on the tennis singles circuit - Somdev Devvarman . He was trailing 6-3,1-2 but I must say, that he played pretty well. A couple of forehands and volleys were excellent but as you saw more and more of the 2nd set, you felt that Federer was toying with Somdev, especially when he let go some of his trademark backhands. Inspite of that, Somdev showed a lot of confidence and fighting spirit in the way he performed against Roger. Liked the fact that he ran around chasing balls during rallies. How often do you see Indians do that on the tennis court against players of Fedex's caliber ?

Recently read that SD wanted to break into the top 50(not 100 - thank my fans - Sid/Gopal for pointing out that its not 100!) this year and going by what I saw today, am sure that ain't too far but if he has to move from the Challenger tournaments to the higher level tournaments, he has to improve a LOT on his overall game . He however won a lot of hearts ( primarily Mallu hearts since this was being played in Dubai!) with his performance!

Great to see people performing against all odds and even though, today they didn't come up trumps , someday they will!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The world cup begins!

The 10th cricket world cup began yesterday amidst as expected, a lot of hype. Nothing sells like cricket in the country and there was enough proof.

Its the time of the year when ex-cricketers make a lot of money by giving their "Expert" comments on various news channels - the path that not-so-well-known cricketers like Atul Wassan and Nikhil Chopra took to their 22 mins of fame(Every 30 mins has approx. 8 mins break on these channels) of fame. This time, as usual, channels are competing to put up the best cricketing panels to "analyse" the game and they try to do their best and cover every topic - right from the time a cricketer was born to what he ate when he was hungry to which school didn't give him admission.

I must say I like the CNN IBN panel the best with the likes of Sir Viv Richards, Imran Khan, Allan Border , Anil Kumble and not to forget, Murali Karthik - who is there to talk about what current Indian players are like - superhuman superheroes, knights in shining blue armors, "mere paas maa hai" type individuals. As a viewer, I would like to hear what they have to say for maybe 15-20 mins but not for endless hours , both before and after the match! As I said, cricket sells like nothing else in this country. Oh I forgot to add that the other channel showed the "legendary" Bappi Lahiri singing "all the best " for the Indian team. For those who don't know Bappida - he is the golden(literally) man who claimed he should have got the Oscar because he came up with Ramba ho ho ho (a couple of decades back) and AR Rahman recently copied that and created Jai ho !

What was the other significant thing in yesterday's match apart from the fact that I just couldn't watch after an hour of coverage as I got really bored, inspite of Veeru bhai going hammer and tongs on the Banglabandhus ? The ads. The ads were all in the next-gen category with most of the them talking about 2G, 3G, 4G, pepsiji, spriteji and zoozooji. Earlier world cups used to be about tooth powders, Vicco Vajradanti, washing powder nirma and Raymond - since 1925. ( I think I got the year wrong).

Brace yourself for non stop cricket and there is every possibility that by the time June comes along(World cup followed by IPL), many channels would boycott cricket. Ofcourse this ain't possible, so enjoy/get irritated by non-stop cricket for the next 100 days.

About the match itself,on a psychological note, opposition teams might start a mind game saying that Sehwag can't run and gets atleast one or two people out during the time he bats. I don't think anyone would complain about that if he hits 175 every game! But if he doesn't, then the team needs to think of a way to get over that.

Finally will we(Indians) watch the world cup ? Ofcourse ! Will I watch the world cup? Yes . Why ? As this might be Sachin Tendulkar's last world cup and personally, ever since I watched cricket, he was around. You see, I started hearing/learning about cricket/watching/playing cricket when I was 5 years old (1989), exactly the time when Tendulkar started playing for we have a unique connection ! And just because of this, I will watch all those pre-match/post-match "analyser" shows,(but not the Nikhil Chopras and Atul Wassans), the "Ji" ads, the men in shining blue armors and king of them all, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.