Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

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Fight to stay at Top

July 20, 2011

Lot of hype already surrounding the test series between England and India, which will kick off tomorrow, July 21st @ 10 GMT. This is also called as 1st npower Test and will be played at one of the historical and most prestigious venue; a venue which every test cricketer dream to play at, the Lord, London. Stats just adds more fumes to the hype of this test match, it will be 2000th test match, 100th test match played between India & England, chance for Great Little Master to score 100th century and also a chance for 3 greats (Tendulkar, Dravid & Laxman) to tally their 100th combined test century.

Recent records and performance of India and England is doing justice to this hype. Neither team have lost a test series since 2009. India still demanding the respect from its critics as a top test nation. They will fight to retain their No. 1 spot in world cricket. Whereas England will try to justify their exponential growth in recent years against No. 1 Test nation. England are focused and have their goal within their sight. They will fight every inch to climb up the ladder and achieve their goal to be no. 1 in Test ranking.

Considering the favorable seaming wickets, their recent records, their in-form batting and bowling, experts are forced to predict that England will do just good enough to win series 1-0. India coming up from not so impressive test series against West-Indies. Long interval from Test cricket for many players and as they published Somerset happy to “bully” India in the practice match, no one will really argue against the expert’s opinion at the very moment. Also, they will be missing the most fearless & dominating batsmen of Test cricket, Virendra Shewag for at least first 2 test matches.

Everyone talking about the England’s bowling attack, which can be ranked as world’s top seaming attack in this green favorable conditions and India’s batting attack, undoubtedly the most experienced and strong batting line up. But no one talking about the England batting line up which is as good as India’s considering their recent form and amount of runs they scoring. Cook and Trott scoring heavily recently, Strauss trying to gain his forms back through great performance in practice match, Peterson has class in his name itself, Bell is proven resilient character with Morgan & Prior adding that boost with attacking approach. Also no one talking about the India’s bowling attack. This condition will favor India’s style of bowling more than anyone else. Zaheer gaining praises every time he steps on green field, Ishant showing his style in recent series against WI, Munaf/Praveen more controlled characters and Bhaji showing same turns and bounce in his bowling as in his nature.

England batsmen knows the conditions better and have skills to negate the swing. India will try to ask more questions with every delivery they bowl. But personally I believe it will all come down to how India’s strong batting face England’s attack in this seaming conditions ? There will be no Shewag initially to dominate and force bowlers to bowl at his strength. Indian openers will need to be more patient and should try to wear down the bowlers. Opening partnership has been a key for India’s success in test matches and this series cannot be any different.

Factors that can play big role in this series:

From England side

1. Cook’s big starts

2. Jimmy’s spells with new bowls

3. Playing Bhaji well on 4th & 5th day

4. Peterson’s contribution

From India side

1. Zaheer Khan’s dominance over Strauss

2. India’s opening partnership, not run wise but more importantly time wise

3. Sachin & Dravid capitalizing on the start

4. Laxman’s class against Swann

5. Dhoni’s contribution as a captain and more needed as a batsman

6. Raina/Yuvraj whoever plays will be deciding factor if India is better batting lineup among 2 teams

Hey how can I forgot India’s new coach. Fletcher, hopefully have mentally prepared team India for this assignment. He will be key for this long tour and controlling the nerves of India’s young talent at this level.

Really this will be exciting series and very evenly balanced series. This will be rare occasion when England is not clear favorite against a sub-continent team in their own backyard. Hope this series keeps up the hype it has created. Wish Indian Team All the Best and will pray for its success.

Go India Go !!

Thanks for reading.

Regards,

– Ravi

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Hard to sink-in the reality

April 5, 2011

Day – Saturday, April.2nd 2011

Time – Around 10:45 pm IST

INDIA – CRICKET ODI WORLD CHAMPIONS

Yes, it is hard to sink-in the reality of “INDIA-THE CHAMPION”, not because there was a single bit of doubt of achieving this glory but it was the fear of being denied of this success for some unknown reasons. As predicted, the best and the deserving team awarded “THE CHAMP” tag and each Indian fan may be finding difficult to express how proud he/she is feeling to witness this great achievement.

I do not want to praise the great Indian team and also not criticize other teams or for that matter any thing during this journey of World Cup. I believe talking about if’s and but’s should happen before the event occur and not as part to criticize the event after it already happened.

Just thought to scribe this and preserve this as a long lasting wonderful memory. Any time I read this article should help to refresh the memories of this great world cup. Should refresh the great moments like, “Yuvi’s roars hitting the boundary piercing the cover & mid-off to get over defending Champs Australia” or “Munaf’s legcutter to get rid of Razzaq in semi to get pass Pakistan, yet another time in WC” or “Captain cool’s heave over long-on boundary to raise the Golden Globe” or “Young mates lifting the little champ, who is lifting the billion Indian fans expectations since last 2 decades”. These great moments are not possible without the equally small moments like “Zaks beauty to get rid of Hussey” or “Bhaji’s drifter to puzzle Umar Akmal” or “Desperate effort of Kulasekara on boundary, failing to get rid of Gambhir”.

Posting the links to scorecard which reflects the gusty, passionate, determinant and professional display of cricket by Indian team to get pass the past World Champs, “Aussies”, “Pakis” & “Lankans”.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc_cricket_worldcup2011/engine/match/433601.html

http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc_cricket_worldcup2011/engine/match/433605.html

http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc_cricket_worldcup2011/engine/match/433606.html

This victory may not be as exciting as one in 1983 when no one expected India to raise the World Cup, but this is unique achievement in itself. Not just winning the World Cup, but enjoying the Golden time of Indian cricket gives more pleasure and happiness. Indian team, the No. 1 ranked Test Team, the World T20 champs (2007) and the ODI World Champ (2011), can’t be more Golden Time than this.

At the same time can’t restrict myself to think about the future of this team and I can see it as Golden as it is right now. Looking at the 15 members in the squad, can’t think of any other team who played all 15 members in single World Cup, not just for sake of giving the chance but bc their need was felt in that particular match. Other than Sreesanth, every one raised to the occasion and backed the decision of their Captain. Just a unknown link for the great future will be the new coaching and supporting staff. Wish Kirsten could continue with the team, but even he can’t regret a single moment of that farewell party. Just hope the Indian thinking tank get a similar personality as Kirsten and his staff to keep this Indian team on highs for years to come.

Can’t wait to override memories of this WorldCup by events of WorldCup 2015, when yet again the Little Champ is taking a victory lap on shoulder of young guns.

CHAK DE INDIA

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Let the Countdown Begin

March 25, 2011

Watching the Thursday showdown @ Motera to send 4 time World Champs (3 consecutive times since 1999) on the Kangaroo ride was a treat for Indian fans. This show definitely will shut off the loud skeptics who never wants to accept that Indian team has everything (compared to other teams in this WC) to lift that Golden Globe held up by three Silver Columns. More than a criticism this is a fear of acceptance.

Agreed the wicket was slow spinning track and aussies without a decent spin attack was going to have a challenge to control strong Indian batting line up. If you see out of 5 wickets, only Tendulkar’s wicket was due to bowling effort rest all was, as Sidhu describes “Christmas gift in a nicely decorated box”. But don’t forget here we talking about bowling attack with highly praised quick bowlers. This match really displays not only the tremendous talent in deep Indian batting line up but mentally stronger than ever batting line up.

Buckle up your seat belt and get ready for another amazing ride @ Mohali when India will take on none other than its biggest rival Pakistan. A battle between talented Indian batting v/s strong Pakistan bowling attack, a battle between out of form Pakistan batting v/s decent Indian bowling attack, a battle of mental toughness and passion for nation’s glory. Can’t expect any bigger show than this as some describe it as a fantasy land.

Still many will doubt, but India is miles favorite to win this battle. Of course as mentioned in my previous article, ODI win is dependent on many other factors and not just talent of the team. But still I personally have no doubt India will cross the line as winner and have a feeling it will be a comfortable win. India will be playing first time a good caliber sub-continent team in this WC and if the wicket is good for batting I am expecting a huge treat from Shewag & Sachin again.

Can’t wait to predict another finalist which many will disagree, but I think it will be NewZealand, defeating England in semi’s.

Go India !!!!

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Is Winner of Final a Real Champion ?

February 28, 2011

Definitely, a cup winner is a real champion if you talking about UEFA Champions League but I doubt if you talking about Cricket ODI World Cup. Truly a champion can be decided only if two teams are competing under same playing conditions.

How often we hear comments like following as reasons to win or lose a game?

1. Bowling conditions were ideal in the morning when ball was swinging because of moisture. Our bowlers exploited the conditions well and took those early crucial wickets.

2. It was easy batting second. Pitch was playing much easier, no movement or spin to the bowlers and ball was coming nicely on bat.

3. Pitch slowed down in second half and it was difficult to “time” the bowl.

4. It was difficult to grip the ball for spinners due to the dew factor.

5. We lost one wicket and suddenly we were behind as per D/L rules.

Are we talking here about deciding a winner in a even contest? To top that, we deciding a world champion with a tournament in which 99% chances of no elimination of even a single decent team (no chance of upsets at all) over a period of one month. And later it will take only 7 days to decide a champion.

What is your opinion on following?

1. Was India really among top 3 teams in 1983 world cup?

2. Did Pakistan really deserve to win a 1992 world cup? NZ deliberately losing to Pakistan to play with weaker opponent (ironically weakest team to reach semi was Pakistan) in Semi-Finals. South Africa losing to England, a miracle (can possible only in cricket) happened and target of 22 runs in 13 balls changes to 21 runs in 1 ball.

3. How ball suddenly started turning almost a feet during 1996 world cup semi finals between India v/s SriLanka?

4. Was Australia real champion in world cup 1999 ? A semi-final is a tie, but one team progress to the finale on the basis of net run rate.

5. South Africa eliminated before Super Six stage of world cup 2003, because they scored runs just one short to win (not a actual target) as rain interrupted the game as expected.

6. Kenya reaching Semi-Finals of world cup 2003, because few teams had a luxury to avoid playing games because of unsafe venue.

7. Two teams who have always been title contenders in previous 6 world cups were eliminated in the first round of world cup 2007.

How can a certain teams are good in sub-continent and equally bad in other playing conditions & vice-versa? The only answer I can think about, winning in ODI cricket game is beyond the talent and skill level. May be not 50% but certainly 20% contribution in winning a game is from external factors which are beyond control of playing teams.

So don’t jump to criticize a team after a loss or start debating on who is real champion? I believe a real champion needs a very good team (talent & skill), mental strength and luck (which will take care of external factors). As of today, I can confidently say that there are at least 4 teams who cannot be separated as a real champion but will also not be surprised if 5th team is crowned as a Champion.

Guys, so just enjoy this crazy game, have real fun and support your team. At the same time don’t get disappointed if your team do not make to the final. Your team will still be a Champion in spite of not winning World Cup. This can happen only in the game of cricket (ODI).

Go India !!!

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Did India prove to be No. 1?

January 6, 2011

Indian team backed up opinion of every Indian fan to be No.1. Still few critics may doubt them to be undisputed No. 1, but the display of mental toughness and gusty performances to level the lively series 1-1 should convince them, India deserves to be No. 1. This series showed how great test match contest can be, if played between quality opponents. As predicted every session and every phase of match was a deciding factor. Cricket lover love such contest and was proved by amazing crowd in all the test matches in this series.

To be on top in the test match is not easy, specially playing in foreign condition and hostile environment. Apart from the skill & talent, it requires great preparation, 100% efforts when you step on the field, mental toughness and strong character. Skill & talent is a Gift (God gifted), but its our Choice which decides how you utilize the gift.Choosing not to be hardworking, respectful and a team player is a wastage of this Gift. Kudos to coaching staff for making every team member understand the importance of these choices and this is a key to success of every team.

Being down in game 1 and coming back so strong in remaining 2 games showed the self belief and confidence of this team. Many reasons can be pointed out for loss in first test e.g. less time to adapt foreign conditions, lack of practice match, losing the toss, absence of Zaheer, etc… But can’t deny the dominance of South Africa over mentally unprepared opponent. This loss brought best of Indian efforts in remaining matches. They showed how strong they are mentally and how weak they can make their opponent in their own backyard. Perfect favorable conditions for the hosts, but the fearless Zaheer & relentless Laxman tasted South Africa the bitterness of loss. This also silenced the critics and made them accept the fact that this is not the same old Indian team who use to surrender to adverse hostile foreign condition. They showed they can win anywhere and in any conditions. Series poised with 1-1 and a deciding test to follow, some favoring India and some South Africa but pressure was definitely back on hosts. India succeeded to keep that pressure all long the 1st inning until Kallis showed how great he can operate in front of his home crowd under pressure. South Africa managed to maintain the game and series poised by restricting India to equal their 1st inning score. First time witnessed, a fiery cannonball with 90mi/hr can be made dance on a music. Steyn’s spell can be ranked top in all time best, who was moving this fast ball in air, leaving his hands from over the wicket and swinging it to leg stump and after pitching on leg, cut it almost a feet to miss off stump. Again, Sachin showed why he is “The Best” in the world, facing most of these swinging fast deliveries from Steyn who was awarded by only 2 wickets for his great bowling. Sachin’s one of the best century, in tough condition and pressure situation helped India to level the score and gain little edge with 2 wickets by Bhaji to end Day-3. India was in commanding position by lunch of Day-4 and started seeing the glimpses of first ever series victory in South Africa. But the in-pain Kallis turned those glimpses into nightmares with his gusty century stand and made India clueless, who now was trying to be away from shadow of defeat. This inning of Kallis puts him right on top of best players ever played for South Africa. India again showed the mental toughness on final day to flash a headline “Gritty India secure 1-1 draw”.

Many commanding efforts and positive’s for India. Performances from Gambhir, Sachin and Laxman will mark India with a stamp of strong batting in Year-2011. However, lower middle order batting is an issue outside sub-continents. Dhoni needs to back up his captaincy with batting performance and likes of Raina, Pujara, Vijay needs to be groomed under the guidance of most experienced players in world cricket. Bowling showed the same pattern from last few years, exceptional in one session and below par in  another. Fitness is a key to strong and consistent bowling performance. Team should find best 5 speedsters and keep rotating them and very important to groom a leadership in bowling department, one to match Zaheer. Overall Year-2011 looks great for Indian cricket and in very strong position to be on top of ranking table. Next big challenge awaiting in England, Go India !!!

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Quest for No. 1

December 11, 2010

Quest to be a No. 1 Test Cricket Team will start in Centurion, South Africa when India will take on a challenge with South Africa. Every Indian cricket fan and many critics are eagerly waiting for this huge India tour of South Africa. Many will agree that both teams match the potentials, skills and talent to come through as a No. 1 team. But team with more desire, hunger, hard work, consistency and luck will experience the pride of being No. 1.

Coming into the series, I am not sure which team can be called as under-dog or a favorite ? Both team enjoying success (at least not failure) in their recent test series, playing with not so good teams; Pakistan and New-Zealand. They played on sub-continent pitches which  did produce lot of centuries and increased the batting average of many players, but most of those in cause of no results (draw). I wonder if they have statistics which shows the batting average in cause of winning or at least forcing the draw. I am sure Jayawardene will definitely be not in Top 25. Looking at both the sides at least on paper every player matches its counter part, South Africa having little age in bowling with fearsome Steyn and India in batting with resilient Laxman.

No doubt India will be in more pressure than South Africa :

1. To defend the No.1 title and prove its critics, who are not yet ready to award India a title of undisputed No. 1 Test Team.

2. To win a first ever Test series in South Africa, who have managed to win just a single test match since 1992.

3. To handle the expectations of billions of Indian fans.

4. To fight the unfamiliar bouncy wickets and opponent captain making it harder by requesting groundsman to leave healthy grass on wickets. Lack of practice matches and team struggling to handle bouncers with some key first time visiting younger players doesn’t make it any easy.

Keys for success:

1. Practicing hard with dedication and be 200% prepared before entering the ground.

2. Playing each session/phase of match like its a final deciding session of the series. Every session in every match is so important as it will be difficult for either team to come back in a series overcoming bad performance in one session.

3. Taking benefit of each and every opportunity coming on the way. Failing to perform at highest level in any department of game will leave no chance to win the game.

4. Building partnership is key, specially a good start. More than runs, it will be important to spend more time on wicket. In past we have seen importance of defending a wicket in first session of an inning and playing out the new ball. Success in Australia can’t be justified without mentioning the opening performance by Aakash Chopra and Shewag , who did not score many runs but definitely played the new ball making it easier for players to follow.

5. Being smart than being a over-smart. Leave the short balls as much as possible and attempt it only if you can keep it on ground.

6. Performance of No. 6 & 7 (Dhoni & Raina) batsman will be a difference.

7. Its no secret, a team which have a ability to take 20 wickets can only win test matches. India definitely have it with Zaheer & Ishant but without support from Bhaji and forth seamer it will be impossible. Lot depends on Dhoni how he handles the situation and uses his fast bowlers. Key is to keep them fresh and avoid injuries.

8. Luck. Luck with toss, umpire decisions, weather conditions, drop catches, etc… Its been said, luck favors the brave. To be lucky you have to at least try and put an effort. If you do not hit a ball, you will never be lucky to be dropped by fielder or without attempting a shot, you won’t be lucky to get a benefit of doubt from the umpire.

Hope this series keeps up the hipe it has created. Wish Indian Team All the Best and will pray for its success.

Go India Go !!

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One Day International in jeopardy?

October 23, 2010

One Day International in jeopardy?

These days every so called die-hart cricket fan and self proclaimed cricket experts or gurus are talking about greatness of Test cricket and the efforts to survive the Test cricket. Everyone has almost same but differently portrayed suggestions. List of suggestions is big, to list few:
1. Starts with playing test series within competitive teams. I guess this list is too short viz India, South-Africa, Australia, Srilanka, England & Pakistan (doubts after all allegations surrounding the team). Well for Srilanka an extra condition applies, no more test series in srilanka. For rest of teams it is not just waste of time & money, but it will put test cricket future in danger.
2. Prepare result oriented wickets. Agreed to certain extend, but at the same time home team is criticized for preparing wicket to suit the home team and not playing a series with sportsmanship.
3. Play atleast more than 2 test matches in a series. This is when a home team is having edge over a once dominant team, who is struggling to stay in race to be on top.
4. Play test cricket only at selected venues. No one in stands to witness and applaud the heroic moment when Sachin reached 14,000 test runs. Really they expect people to be in stands, tanning under the sizzling sun, for entire 5 days when a player is striking a ball with strike rate of 30.0 or so. Ask these commentators who are in the a/c suite, getting paid to brag about less crowd, will they be in open stands even for more than 30 mins ?
Almost everyone will agree, a cricket lover is following the test cricket, but do you really need to be in stands to follow test match? As a common working man, forget about paying for tickets to watch a test match, he won’t go even if someone offers him some money to be in stands unless it is in VIP section.

Test cricket is dying not because of failure to adhere the above suggestions (may be a small reason), but the major one is evolution of another form of cricket and that is T20 featured by IPL.
Every sport or for that matter every event is driven by the finances/money which is driven by sponsorship, which is linked with the people, the economy. This should also highlight the reason for other sports not being popular in India (no followers, no sponsorship, no quality team)

I am personally a big fan of IPL, not because I love T20 cricket format, but amazed with the strength of people driving this form of cricket. First time ever witnessed and as narrated by Harsha Bhogle, first time could see the actual benefit of huge population in India. It is this population because of whom IPL is a great success and investors from different part of world are on their toes to invest money in India.

But again so called cricket die-hart fans tend to hate this format. Few reasons for their un-liking:
1. This is not real cricket, there is no display of skills in T20 ? Seriously, I guess still they are playing with a cricket ball and a bat to defend the wickets. Isn’t that cricket, for which stands are over flowed to watch the action, for which investors are knocking at doors of BCCI to get them in.
2. Country comes first and they should abide to duties of country and give priority to international schedule. Ask NewZealand or WestIndies players, how much they get paid for their duties and here we talking about 2 months of the year. Ask fast bowlers like Shane Bond, how limited a career of fast bowler can be, should he be playing for country or playing for his family?
3. No window should be allowed for IPL. Why, isn’t it a hatred for IPL that is coming out through such statements? If this can be win-win situation why can’t we go for it?

However, everyone is kind of forgetting about the ODI, which a year back was most popular format of cricket, but now getting sandwiched in the debate of Test & T20 cricket and being overlooked. Good, talented, most experienced players no more playing ODI because they want to preserve themselves for test cricket. ODI series ahead of historic event like Ashes is regarded less valuable than a club cricket. Players playing the domestic cricket as to prepare for ashes or resting because they just played a dramatic successful Test series and backing out from ODI series (Ind v/s Aus). I wonder why Srilanka is visiting Australia and that too for ODI series just few days ahead of Ashes.
I feel pity for the huge crowd who shows up to see the best players playing the best cricket but they are awarded a worthless ODI match played between almost 3rd level teams. Isn’t all these activities and debates between Test & T20 breathing out the ODI ?
Now where are these cricket gurus, blaming crowd not being knowledgeable & apprehensive for cricket. I guess they are busy gossiping about trash talk before the ashes or about India really worth number 1 ranked team in test cricket?

Wish one day this confusion will be resolved and these experts will understand that the event is driven by the people. Try to give them the best they want, worth their money. This is real secret of saving future of cricket and not just saving Test cricket.

Save ODI first, which is still a huge revenue generating machine and then look for Test cricket survival. Do not worry about IPL, it is there to stay for long.