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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vacancy: Guru Gary leaving Indian team after World Cup finale.

How will be next coach of Indian Team?

Its time to say bye-bye to the most successful coach of India team, Gary Kirsten. He joined Indian team 3 years back when Indian team was in dire straits because of the Greg Chappell who divided the team for his vested interest. First round exit from 2007 World Cup was the lowest point in Indian cricket. That team had potential but Greg Chappell's policies helped rival teams more than Indian team. I think Chappell knew that if India get the exit then it will be easy for Australia to win its 3rd consecutive title and that happened. Mr.Chappell changed the batting order of maestro Sachin Tendulkar against his likings, ignored the senior players advice and did whatever possible bad for Team India and India cricket gone down and down in Chappell era. 

It was Gary Kirsten who took the place of Greg Chappell and  given new lease of life to the Indian cricket. He joined Indian team and changed its complexion completely. He united this team and worked hard from behind the scenes without anybody's notice unlike Chappell who always hogged the lime-light. Gary's stint with Team India turned into a boon as India first time hit the highest ranking in the test cricket and became No.1 test team in the World leaving teams like Australia and South Africa behind and it is still No.1 ranked team in test cricket for last two years. In ODIs also team never slipped below No.3 and it consistently remain No.2 team and also grabbed the No.1 spot in ODIs for sometime. 

Gary Kirsten is responsible for the best moments of Indian cricket and he definitely followed the ex-coach John Wright's way while coaching this Indian team. Now Team India is in finals of the World Cup 2011 and looking good to win the title as well but I must say credit goes to Guru Gary. Players also like him and respect him very much and want him to stay back but Gary have few personal commitments which he needs to fulfill, so he has already made his mind to leave. 

So its hunt for new coach begins from Sunday for Team India. There are few names which can be considered for the job. First and foremost is Stephen Fleming of New Zealand. He is currently coaching the Chennai Super Kings and his performance is very good with that team. Dhoni also have very good rapport with Fleming. But sometime back Fleming rejected the idea  of coaching the Indian team due to his personal commitments but I think if he can give a thought then he can prove to be a good coach. I think if our captain has very good rapport with Fleming then he is the man for the job.

Next is Dave Whatmore. He was the coach of the Sri Lankan team which won the Cricket World Cup title in 1996. He redefined the cricket completely by sending Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana up the order in that edition of the World Cup and taught the cricket fraternity, how to take advantage of first 15 overs in the ODIs. Under his regime, Sri Lankan cricket scaled new heights and became force in World cricket because before 1996 World Cup Sri Lanka was considered as minnows. He changed the complexion of Sri Lankan cricket. He also coached the Bangladesh team and Bangladesh team also improved tremendously under his coaching. He is more Sri Lankan then Autralian and best man to fill the shoes of Gary Kirsten as a Indian coach. He is currently coach of Kolkata Knightriders in IPL.

Another man who  expressed his interest in coaching Indian team is Justin Langer of Australia. He is working as Australian team's batting coach but I think he is not the man for Indian cricket because we already have very poor experience with Greg Chappell, so Langer is not the man. He showed interest in Indian team's coaching but under his coaching Australian batting has not performed well, so one can easily understand that he will spoil the hard work of Guru Gary, if he become the coach of Team India. Australia lost England in Ashes and knocked out of the ICC World Cup 2011 as well. As a Australian, aggression and domination is in his nature, so strictly no to Mr. Langer because his mindset will not going to match the minset of our players. I believe if Indian team have to move further in World cricket then we have to avoid Australian coaches who are good for nothing. Its pity that 7 out of 10 IPL team have Australian coaches.

Next comes, our very own DADA(Sourav Ganguly). He expressed his interest in coaching Indian team and I believe he is the best man among all to be fit for the job. He knows this team in and out and many players of this current Indian team adore him like anything. He was the one, under whom careers of Sehwag, Dhoni, Zaheer, Nehra, Yuvraj, Gambhir, Harbhajan started and flourished. He lead this Indian team very well under his captaincy and some credit for today's Indian team success goes to him as well because he build this team from the scratch. Most importantly till last year he was playing active first class cricket so he knows Indian domestic circuit very well and will identify new and fresh talent for Indian cricket. Good thing with Sourav Ganguly is that he is having very good eye in spotting talent. He will also gel very well with this team because till recently he was playing with this Indian team. Moreover, he worked with coach John Wright , so he knows how to coach this Indian team. Remember we won T20 World Cup in 2007 when Lalchand Rajput was the coach of Indian team and in short stint he did wonderful job. Till date Sourav Ganguly is the most successful captain in Indian cricket.

So I believe when we have lot of talent in our country then why should we look outside. I think Indian coach will connect better with Indian team except we get some rare  species like Gary Kirsten or John Wright. In the end, hats-off to Mr. Kirsten for giving this Indian team new heights because Mr. Greg Chappell left this Indian team with all kind of problems. So strict no to Australian coaches.

India packed Pakistani bags ahead of finals, Lankans humbled Kiwis

There is a saying 'Catches Win Matches' but yesterday Pakistan invented new saying 'Drop Catches Lose Matches'. As many as 7 catches dropped by Pakistani fielders out of these 7, Sachin Tendulkar alone dropped 5 times. No wonder after dropping so many catches you can't expect to win. Poor Kamran Akmal's woes with the gloves continued in this match as well,  he dropped two catches and after dropping so many catches in past six months, his favourite tagline must be 'Can I drop you somewhere'. It was poor fielding effort by Pakistan which haunted them in this match. 

But I must appreciate the way Pakistan made a comeback after great onslaught from Sehwag. Even after dropping so many catches Pakistan pulled things back nicely and restricted India to the par score of 260 but I must credit pitch also alongwith Pakistani bowling, which had in it for the bowlers. Wahab Riaz was the stand out bowler for the Pakistan who picked 5 crucial Indian wickets and jolted famed Indian batting line-up. It was also a very brave decision from Shahid Afridi to include Riaz ahead of experienced Shoaib Akhtar and Riaz lived upto his team's expectation as he bowled dream spell of his life in a situation where pressure was immense on the players of both the teams. Umar Gul was the big disappointment yesterday for Pakistan as he never recovered from Sehwag's initial onslaught. It was poor fielding, catching and thoughtless batting that played important role in Pakistan's defeat. In batting Pakistan was 102 for 2 at one stage and it looked like Pakistan will register the win here but poor shot selection by Hafeez tilted the match in India's favour and after that thoughtless batting from Misbah Ul Haq and Younis Khan added the pressure on Pakistani batting and in the end Pakistan crumbled like nine-pins. Umar Akmal showed some sign of aggression but it was too late for Pakistan. It was such a tense situation that Afridi forget about the powerplay also while he was batting.

I must appreciate Dhoni's captaincy in last few matches. I think he got his thinking cap own and now looks to attack the opposition batsmen and that gives him the results in his favour. In last 3 matches he has really worked out the strategy which I mentioned in earlier posts. Now he looks in control of the situation. But Dhoni's batting has not clicked yet and that is bit of worry for the Indian camp. Sachin Tendulkar played very scratchy but important innings yesterday for India. He was lucky that he got so many chances from Pakistani fielders and UDRS also came to his rescue.  I think Pakistani fielder were in too much awe of Tendulkar's batting that they kept on dropping him. It was unfortunate that Sachin wouldn't complete his 100th century but nonetheless it was priceless innings. I think Sehwag and Raina also played important role and those 38 and 37 runs from Sehwag and Raina proved crucial in the end. With the innings of 85 Sachin became the highest run-getter in the tournament and he is one player who is now have the distinction of featuring in India's 5 World Cup victories over Pakistan.

It was heartening to see Indian bowling coming good when it mattered the most. When match started it looked like Dhoni mis-read the pitch and dropped Ashwin he admitted also in post match conference that he mis-read the pitch but he was lucky in the sense that Ashish Nehra came good when it mattered. Nehra was economical and picked up wickets as well on a pitch which was not conducive for the fast bowlers. I must mention that Nehra was pick of the fielder yesterday. he fielded very well and raised his game to another level. I think Indian team put in great effort yesterday and everybody contributed in the success of the team. Now India team is in finals of World Cup and they made it there 3rd time. They will play Lankans on Saturday in Sachin's city. I think if Indian team continue with their current from and momentum they stands with great chance to win title and that will be a great tribute to our 'GOD' Sachin. Sachin was also adjudged 'Man of the Match' for his gritty innings in this match.

Lankans humbled Kiwis:

Once again Lankans proved that Premdasa is the fort and they are kings of Premdasa. Kiwis created little panic in Lankan batting but in the end it was brilliance Mathews which helped Lankans to seal the berth for the finals in Mumbai. It was enthralling contest where fortunes fluctuated from one side to another in the end team which held its nerves end with victory under their belt.
Defending a mediocre total after a spirited batting effort had unravelled in a clatter of late wickets, New Zealand's lust for a scrap kicked in with a vengeance just when it seemed the match was finally out of their reach.  With Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara entrenched in a game-breaking partnership of 120. But then Dilshan, cruising on  and seemingly destined for his second hundred in consecutive matches, slapped loosely at Tim Southee and picked out Jesse Ryder at point, whose second catch of the innings was a far less breathtaking affair than his earlier one-handed pluck off Sri Lanka's pace-setter, Upul Tharanga. Three balls later, the new man Mahela Jayawardene was beaten in flight by a beautiful dipping delivery from Daniel VettoriSangakkara's habitually cool head deserted him, as he attempted to steer the lively Andy McKay over the keeper for four, but ended up dollying a simple chance to Scott Styris at third man.
Sri Lanka had lost three wickets for eight runs in 22 deliveries, and just as had been the case in the throttling of South Africa, New Zealand's bowlers ramped up the aggro while maintaining supremely disciplined lines and lengths. On the same worn wicket that had been used for the England quarter-final, runs suddenly became excruciatingly hard to come by as Sri Lanka's untested middle order was fully exposed to the limelight.Samaraweera, however, had the experience to see his team home. A short ball from Ryder was fetched over midwicket for four, before a wild throw from Oram gifted him another four as the ball sailed over the keeper's head. Another error lopped five more precious runs off the total as a McKay wide slipped through the keeper's grasp, and though McKay responded with a beauty to Angelo Mathews that was sent to be reviewed for caught-behind, the lack of Hot Spot meant there was no evidence available to reverse the on-field decision.
And with a smoking six off Southee in the next over, the game was finally relieved of its tension - even though it took two winning shots to seal it, after Mathew's initial carve through the covers was called a dead-ball due to a firework exploding right at the moment of delivery. Instead, Samaraweera nudged through third man to wrap up the game with 13 balls to spare. Such a nerve-jangling finale could not have seemed further from the agenda while Sri Lanka's innings was in full flow. From the moment Tharanga launched his third ball, from Nathan McCullum, straight down the ground for six, Sri Lanka were always ahead of the asking-rate. His departure  did change the tempo of the Sri Lankan innings, but neither Dilshan nor Sangakkara had any reason to rush towards a modest victory target.
Sangakkara had an early let-off when he edged Oram at a catchable height through the vacant slip cordon, while Dilshan - who had been so combative against England - took 28 deliveries to score the second boundary of his innings, and his 50th of the World Cup to date. But he went on to pass 400 runs for the tournament, en route to overtaking Jonathan Trott as the leading run-scorer, and as Sangakkara finally began to nail his trademark cover-drives, New Zealand looked to have run out of ideas. In hindsight, the Kiwis will look back on the closing stages of their own innings with regret, for a late collapse  undermined much of the good work they had put into the early part of their innings. The bed-rock was provided by Scott Styris, a centurion against Sri Lanka in the 2007 World Cup, who played responsible innings. But when he was extracted lbw by the final delivery that Muttiah Muralitharan will ever bowl on home soil, Sri Lanka responded euphorically to scythe through the tail and leave seven precious deliveries unused. Whether a 250 target would have made any difference will remain a matter for conjecture. Though they fared better than any other team in the tournament so far in taking 41 runs off Sri Lanka's bowlers in the batting Powerplay, they were ultimately undone by the depth and variety of their attack, with Lasith Malinga's yorkers scalping three key wickets at critical moments.
Too many of New Zealand's batsmen made starts without going on. Martin Guptill flicked Malinga's fifth delivery through midwicket, only for Malinga to york him superbly when he returned for his second spell, while Brendon McCullum slog-swept Rangana Herath for six, only to be bowled for 13 playing the exact same stroke. Taylor, whose ferocious hitting could have been so valuable at the death, launched a Mendis long-hop straight to deep midwicket just when he looked ready to build  his innings further.But as Vettori takes his leave of the New Zealand captaincy, he can reflect on yet another campaign in which his team rose to the challenge of the big event in precisely the manner that too many of their supposed betters - namely England and South Africa - consistently fail to do. Sangakkara and his men, meanwhile, march on to their second final in consecutive World Cups, where Muralitharan - his broken body notwithstanding - will attempt to complete his career on the highest high imaginable.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Clash of the neighbours: Preview:-2nd Semi-Final India vs Pakistan

The sub-continent will come to an halt on Wednesday when most mercurial team of the world will take on most confident team in the semi-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 at Mohali. The battle between Pakistan and India cannot be termed as an ordinary game as it is considered as battle of nerves and prestige. It is a battle which is keenly watched by everybody including the Presidents and Prime Ministers and every minute of this game provides excitement in plenty. This is the game which set the pulse racing of its spectators because of the quality and intense cricket played in this contest. 

Every player try to give more than 100% in this game and for the spectators of both the country, victory in this game is everything. To watch this game, people try to take leave from their offices on the account of false excuses, students avoid going to schools and whoever is not interested in cricket, also watch this game. That is the kind of importance this game between India and Pakistan  holds in the hearts of the people across the borders. The Indian and Pakistani cricket teams have been long-time arch rivals and their rivalry is considered one of the most intense sports rivalries in the world. An India-Pakistan cricket match has been estimated to attract up to one hundred million television viewers according to well respected TV ratings firm Initiative, and defeat is usually unacceptable to fans of both teams. In the World Cup matches, India has a 4-0 record over Pakistan. Whichever team lose the battle in this contest, goes through lot of trauma and  winning team get all the laurels and applause in the world. It is not a simple cricket match. It is Lord of all the battles, it is India vs Pakistan. This battle hold so much importance due to volatile relations between these two South Asian countries since last 63 years. Cricket also failed to remain unaffected due to volatile political  relationship between these two countries and thats why since 1952, when Indo-Pak cricketing relationship started, these two neighboring countries have played only 59 test matches and 119 ODIs due to on and off cricketing relationship.

Now its time for another Indo-Pak battle and this battle is fought for reaching the finals of the 10th edition of  ICC Cricket World Cup. Although finals will be on 2nd April, Saturday but for the fans across the borders, this match is the final. If we look at history, then we will find that Pakistan always had upper hand in Indo Pak ties. Especially in 80s and 90s Pakistan dominated India in ODIs especially in Sharjah. Pakistan won battles in Sharjah because it was home away from home for the Pakistanis. Umpires also favoured Pakistan during those battles, hence India lost the matches on a regular basis at Sharjah and thats why India's record against Pakistan looks poor. But it started to change from mid-90s and India and Pakistan always remained even, after mid-90s. In last 10 ODIs its 5-5 for each country. No matter how poor Pakistan perform against any country but when they play against India, they raise their performance one notch higher than their performance against other countries and same goes with India.

Coming to the semi-final game, India is considered as favourite among the cricket pundits but I believe Pakistan will have upper hand in this game because of their under-dog tag. They don't feel much pressure because they will be playing away from the home and India will be playing in front of their home crowd and that will definitely add the pressure on India. It is a battle between Indian batting vs Pakistani bowling. India possess one of the best batting line-up in the World and Pakistan possess the most lethal bowling attack. If India have Sehwag and Tendulkar then Pakistan have Gul and Razzak with Akhtar in doubt for Wednesday's encounter. India have Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir then Pakistan have Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal. So its going to be a even contest.

India certainly have little edge in terms of experience. Dhoni, as a captain is also termed  better than Afridi by cricket pundits. Afridi is considered as instinctive captain while Dhoni is cool and calm customer.  But both are out of form as far as batting is concerned. Afridi is doing wonders with the ball while Dhoni is excellent behind the wickets. Dhoni have lot of experienced people around him to advice while Afridi have only Misbah Ul Haq and Younis Khan. Indian batting order is now more or less settled while Pakistani batting line-up still looks unsettled and there will be changes seen during the match against India. It will not be a surprise if Younis Khan and Misbah Ul Haq will be promoted up the order to sieze the initiative. Pakistan also possess pocket dynamo in Umar Akmal whose talent has been not utilised properly so far. I think Afridi have to move him up the order, if he wants good contribution from this talented batsmen. Pakistani openers Hafeez and Kamran Akmal showed talent with the bat in the match against West Indies but it will be interesting to see how they will perform in a pressure match.

Kamran Akmal's keeping is also under scanner because he has dropped too many catches in the tournament and he has to improve his catching in this game because Pakistan can't afford to drop any catch in this pressure match. Asad Shafiq has done well for them up the order but I think it will be better if he bats down the order in the game against India because of his inexperience. As far as Pakistani fielding is concerned, it remained up and down throughout the tournament and they have to work hard on it, ahead this crunch game. Afridi and Razzak have to shoulder some responsibility in this match with the bat because their care-free attitude will not going to help Pakistan in this match, so both have to take their batting seriously. Pakistan batting is weak compared to India but they are very unpredictable species.

As far as India is concerned they are coming in this match after playing pressure game against Australia and they know how to handle the pressure situation but looking at the unpredictability of the Pakistani side they have to be extra careful. Indian batting is in good form and every batsmen have runs under their belt except captain Dhoni. Tendulkar and Sehwag pair is the third best opening pair of this World Cup and much of India's success will rely on the performance of these two stalwarts. It is do or die game and these two have to give India,  best possible start and if they fail to do then it will not going to be easy for India to win this game. To, India's liking Yuvraj Singh is in tremendous form with the bat and ball and he is the one player whose performance will definitely have the impact on outcome of this game. Gambhir, Kohli and Raina have to contribute nicely in the match against Pakistan, if India wants to go into finals. 

If Pakistani batting is weak then India bowling is also not very strong. Except Zaheer and Ashwin, all other bowlers struggled to take wickets including star spinner Harbhajan. Harbhajan remained economical but failed to pick many wickets, which is expected from him. I think Harbhajan have to go for kill rather than containing the batsmen. It is good that Yuvraj is bowling well otherwise India would have struggled in this tournament because two bowlers can't win matches. I think Munaf Patel have to be persisted with, in this match because he has played all the games in the tournament. Cricket pundits are favouring Sreesanth and no doubt Sreesanth is very good bowler but he has not played active cricket since 20th February so it will be risky to field him in the important match like this, without any match practice. 

Mohali pitch will going to assist fast bowlers because of its bouncy nature and if there will be a grass  on the pitch then it will certainly favour Pakistani bowlers but at the same time it will suit Indian pacers as well and will definitely test the weak Pakistani batting which often crumble on the seaming and bouncy pitches due to their faulty batting technique. Dew will be a factor and I believe the team which won the toss definitely field first to take advantage of moisture in the wicket and negate the dew factor by batting second. It will going to be cliffhanger and whichever team holds the nerve in this fight-to- finish contest will emerge as winner. India are favourites and Pakistan is under-dog and as far as record is concerned it is even. We have seen lot of upsets in this World Cup, so it will will be interesting to see will Pakistan pull out the upset or India move to the finals. Whatever, both the teams done in league stages will not going to matter much in this match as this will going to be different game altogether. So if we say, Pakistan performed well in league stage or India's performance was up and down, will not have much impact on this game. Whichever team display better cricketing skills and mental strength on the ground will going to win. 

Sledging will also going to be an important part of this match and we will see lot of verbal duel between the players which will add extra spice to this contest.

Preview:1st Semi-Final - Sri Lanka favourites against jubilant Kiwis

Beating lion in his own den is not a easy task. Sri Lanka is lion and very difficult team to beat at home. England lost convincingly other night. Will Kiwis beat the  the mighty Lankans in Colombo today? Majority of the people will find the answer simple and that is 'No'. Kiwis can't beat Lankans in Colombo because they never won in Sri Lanka since 2003. But Kiwis are the same team which knocked out tournament favourites from the tournament other night at Mirpur and based on that performance Kiwis cannot be written-off easily. Also cricket is great game of uncertainties and nobody can predict its outcome.

I believe this Kiwi team has found the much needed momentum in last match against South Africa and now this team has certainly become dangerous. They are playing as a unit and their bowling has been improved tremendously under the supervision of legendary  South African fast bowler Allan Donald. Taylor, Guptill, Ryder, Williamson, McCullum, all are among the runs and batting looks far more formidable, thanks to the efforts put in by ex-India coach John Wright who is their current coach. Wright has just put in oxygen in this down and out Kiwi team and awakened the hunger to excel. Southee is their most successful bowler in this tournament with 15 wickets from 7 games and lot of Kiwi hopes depends on his bowling.
I think Kiwis are putting emphasis on basics and keeping things simple. They have simple plan which was visible against Proteas and that was just to keep attacking and piling up the pressure and they going in with the same plan against Lankans as well. I think if Kiwis beat Lankans then that won't be a surprise, however, road to the finals for Kiwis is difficult but not impossible. Daniel Vettori and his men are upbeat and confident after their victory over Proteas. But they have to play Lankan spinners well and have to attack them from the very beginning. If Muraltharan don't play due to injury than that will make Kiwi job bit easy but yet they have to face Malinga, Mendis, Herath alongwith Angelo Mathews. I believe, Kiwis play to their potential and put in little more effort than they can easily beat Lanka and make it to the finals.

As far as Lankans are concerned, they are tournament favourites and have all the ingredients to go into the finals. Conditions. pitch and home crowd are all in their favour and Premdasa Stadium is their fort where Lankans can't be defeated easily. Lankans have the team which suits to the conditions and they are heavily loaded with the spin which is the weakness of their opposition. Lankan opening pair is leading the charts in terms of opening stand in the tournament. Both Tharanga and Dilshan are in superb from and batsmen following them in Sangakkara and Jayawardene are deadly customers. They have superb allrounder in Angelo Mathews who can turn the match with the bat as well. 
Lanka bowling is by far the best in the tournament. They possess lethal weapon in Lasith Malinga who is dangerous with new as well as old ball. His toe crushers are nightmare for the batsmen. He has the great variation in his bowling and his unique action itself pose lot of problems to the batsmen. Although Lankans will suffer little bit if their master spinner Muralitharan miss this game due to injury. Lankans although have the fire power to dismiss the opposition and if Lankans beat Kiwis, then they will reach the World Cup finals for the 3rd time.

Good contest in prospect as Kiwis found some momentum and looking keen to reach finals this time after missing it for 5 times and Lankans will be determine to reach finals for the 3rd time.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Diplomacy and Cricket are not synonym.

There is no other cricket contest like it. When India plays Pakistan, more than a billion people in the sub-continent and the South Asian diaspora put their lives on hold. Not only because it is a rivalry rooted in our hearts and minds but also because India and Pakistan don't play each other enough. The compulsions of politics have ensured that cricket between the two countries has become a diplomatic bargaining chip. 

Although it is a semi-final of cricket tournament but as I mentioned it has become pitch of diplomatic discussions as well. Honorable Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh has invited his counterparts to witness this match with him at Mohali. Mr. Singh sent invitation to Pakistani Prime Minister Mr. Yusuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari to join him at Mohali to watch the high-voltage semi-final game between India and Pakistan.Although Pakistani President Mr. Asif Ali Zardari will not come but Pakistani Prime Minster Mr. Yusuf Raza Gilani has accepted the invitation after lot of discussion with their Army Chief General Mr. Kayani and President Asif Ali Zardari. We all know Pakistani government is dominated by its army, so I think  Mr. Manmohan Singh made a mistake by sending invitation to only Pakistani President and Prime Minister. This will not going to serve any purpose. I think it would have been better had Mr. Singh also invited the Army Chief of  Pakistan alongwith two honorable guests. Then this invitation would have served some purpose.

In the past also, cricket used for the diplomatic reasons but nothing concrete came out of it. Late. Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India, invited Pakistani President and Army Chief Zia Ul Haq of that time to watch the Indo-Pak test match at Jaipur and Mr. Haq came to  Jaipur upon invitation. He watched the game, gifts exchanged but issues remained pending and nothing sorted out from that visit. In 2005, Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh invited Pakistani President and  Army Chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf to watch the Kotla test match. Mr. Musharraf came in enjoyed the match, enjoyed the hospitality but core issues were not resolved. So in short whats the need of diplomacy through cricket when it is not serving any purpose. It will never going to help any of  the country. I think cricket has to be played between the two countries regularly at any cost but it should not be used as a stage for diplomatic negotiations. This will not going to serve the purpose. Moreover, it increases the pressure on the players of both the teams because senior politicians of both the countries watching the match and a simple game of cricket turned out to be a war as nobody wants to lose in front of their country heads.

We all are wounded with many blasts that happened in  the country in last few years. Be it Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Varansi, Delhi and the list continues, so its not the right time to rejuvenate the diplomatic relations with the country whose politicians and army, sponsors the terrorism against our country. We have to keep playing with Pakistan as we all know general public has nothing to do with terrorism. In fact public of the both the countries wants peace but our politicians don't want peace because this help them in increasing their vote bank. Pakistani population is also suffering because of their politicians and they are also victims of terrorism. I think Mr. Singh has made the mistake by inviting Pakistani President and Prime Minister. They also accepted the invitation  only to watch the game and not for any political or diplomatic discussion and this will not going to serve the purpose of the invitation and Pakistani President and Prime Minister are not empowered enough to take any decision without the permission of their Army Chief. So if Mr. Singh is thinking that by sending invitation for watching cricket match will resolve all the issues than I think he don't understand the volatile nature of all the issues pending between the two neighbours and those cannot be resolved through cricket match. 

Please keep cricket out of politics. I think cricket should not suffer because of the politics.

Thumping victory in QF over England put Sri Lanka in semis

It was one of the days which Sri Lankan cricket lovers will never forget as their team made it to the semi-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 with dominating performance. Lankan giants dominated Englishmen completely on the field and achieved easy victory which gave them much required momentum needed for semi-finals and finals. Sri Lanka will play New Zealand in semi-finals and Kiwis failed to win the match in Sri Lanka since 2003, so semis will again become easy transit for the finals as far as Lankans are concerned.

Sri Lanka did make few mistake in the field where they dropped as many as four catches of Eoin Morgan. This was  the only flaw in their performance in that game against England. Dropped catches helped England reaching partly competitive total of 229 and cricket lovers thought that this total will be enough looking at the condition of the pitch in the second innings. Moreover, other night collapse of South African batting against New Zealand confirmed that chase will not going to be easy for the Lankans. But Dilshan and Tharanga had other ideas and both these openers stamped their authority on the match by playing freely and both scored centuries which helped Lanka winning this match by 10 wickets. This clearly showed that how comfortable Sri Lanka is in their home conditions. South Africa lost the match by 49 runs while chasing New Zealand score of 221 shows the difference between the two teams and their adaptability to the pitches and conditions.

As far as England is concerned, they made it to the quarter-finals after topsy-turvy performance in the league round and everybody expected that if England is in   quarter-finals after up-down in the league stage then this time something is waiting for them but quarter-finals turned out to be a sorry state of affairs for the England. They came into the World Cup with lot of cricket behind them, so the fatigue factor also played its role in their performance. The looked tired and didn't put fight-back. They got the golden chances from Lankans yet they couldn't capitalise on those chances and got out for the  par total. Once Dilshan and Tharanga started attacking, English bowlers looked completely out of sorts and it looked like they lost all the hopes of winning the game. They were monotonous on the field and didn't look energetic enough to convert even the half-chances. English batting also failed to dominate,  they started defensively against the part-time spinner like Dilshan. There was no intent in their batting in the beginning and they also lost wickets quite quickly and also to the part-timer. Trott played well for his 80 odd but he consumed too many balls. Only Morgan showed some intent but he was also lucky because he was dropped four times by the Lankans. Such poor performance was not expected from the team which defeated Australia just two months back. I think England have to do lot of soul searching about their performance in this World Cup.

As far as Lankan bowling is concern, Muralitharan once again showed his class. He was struggling with hamstring injury, yet he bowled like a champion, no wonder why he is so precious to the Sri Lankan cricket. Malinga, Mendis, Mathews and Herath bowled brilliantly and given red alert to the Kiwis. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wonderful Indian Moments from Indo-Pak ties.

India will be meeting Pakistan in the ICC World Cup 2011 semi-finals at Mohali. Ahead of that epic encoounter, let’s revisit great Indian moments in Indo-Pak ties.
In 1984, the Indian team led by Kapil Dev was bowled out for 125 in Sharjah. In the dressing room, Kapil asked his bowlers to just go and make things difficult for Pakistan, since they had nothing to lose. In reply, India bowled out Imran Khan's Pakistan team for a paltry 87. Catches win matches, and it was a cliche come true at Sharjah. This was one of those rare matches in the sub-continent a low-scoring game that was a thriller all the way. With Imran Khan firing on all cylinders, India were shot out for a miserable 125 and it seemed all over bar the shouting. It was India's fielding that won the day and leading the way was veteran opening batsman Sunil Gavaskar. Pakistan were all out for 87. Gavaskar's four brilliant catches at slip would stand as a world record till it was broken by Jonty Rhodes in 1993.
In 1992 World Cup Kiran More, the Indian wicket-keeper harassed Miandad from behind the wickets by chatting constantly. Miandad got angry because of this constant chat and jumped in air 3 times just to tease Kiran More.Although India went onto win that game but that incident is still fresh in the memories of the cricket lovers who watched that game. 
During 1996 World Cup Quarter Final, in Bangalore, Aamir Sohail smashed a delivery from Indian seamer Venkatesh Prasad through the covers for a four. After this, he pointed his bat towards the Prasad and boundary where the ball had gone. In the very next delivery, Prasad bowled out Sohail and pointed his finger towards the pavilion. 

In the same match, Ajay Jadeja had hit Waqar Younis for 18 and 22 in 48th and 50th over. Though numerically insignificant, Ajay Jadeja smashing 45 swung the match away from Pak in this tension-packed knockout match. Coming in for the slog, Jadeja was particularly severe on Waqar whose first eight overs had cost 47 runs. The next two went for 18 and 22 with Jadeja smashing four 4s and two 6s off a mere 26 balls. That took India to a formidable 287 for 8 which proved too much for Pakistan.
In Sahara Friendship series, Toronto, 1997 Sourav Ganguly dominated a series with both bat and ball like no cricketer has before or since. He almost single-handedly guided India to a 4-1 rout of Pakistan. A total of 222 runs, 15 wickets and three catches in the six games (the third was abandoned after 31.5 overs) was a dazzling performance and earned Ganguly the Man of the Series award. Ganguly started quietly with two wickets and 17 runs in the first game. In the second he again took two wickets and scored 32. He took two of three wickets to fall in the washed out third game and then routed Pakistan in the fourth with figures of 5 for 16 to make it three wins in a row. The fifth saw him shine with the bat 75 not out plus two wickets and then in the sixth and final the only defeat for India-he top scored with 96 and picked up another two wickets. It was virtually Ganguly vs Pakistan.
In the final of the Independence Cup at the national stadium Dhaka, India pulled off a sensational three-wicket win with one ball to spare against Pakistan when Hrishikesh Kanitkar's hit Saqlain Mushtaq for a crucial boundary off the second-last ball of the match in India's memorable victory over Pakistan. In this match Sourav Ganguly played a wonderful knock of 124, and this was the India's first such a big chase. Sourav was adjudged man of the match for the breath-taking knock that he played.
It was a golden moment when Anil Kumble took 10 wickets in an innings against Pakistan to become one of the two bowlers in Test cricket history to achieve the feat. On 8 February 1999, History was created at the Feorzeshah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi when One of India's Greatest Spinners Anil Kumble became only the Second Bowler ever (the other being Jim Laker(England)) to have taken all 10 wickets in a Test innings. Anil Kumble achieved this feat against Pakistan in the second Test played at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi and leading India to Victory by very huge margin of 212 runs.
In a group game of the 2003 Cricket World Cup, at Centurion, India were chasing 273 against a legendary Pakistani attack (Wasim, Waqar, Akhtar, Razzaq, Afridi) on a lively pitch. In response,Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag got of to a stunning flyer scoring 53 in 5 overs by demoralizing Pakistan's bowlers hitting heavily with sixes and fours to Shoaib Akhtar. India eventually won the game with 4 overs to spare. Thus, India maintained always a "winning consistency" or "never loose" against Pakistan in world cup cricket history. Sachin Tendulkar scored 98 in that Centurion, World Cup, 2003 match.
India won a stunning game in a thrilling finish- 1st ODI Karachi 2004 India tour of Pakistan, as Pakistan failed to hit the nine runs needed off the final over. Ashish Nehra held his nerve brilliantly, conceding just three runs and ending with the wicket of Moin Khan needing a six off the very last ball to win the match.

Sachin Tendulkar scored 141 in Rawalpindi, 2004. It was the first ODI century on Pakistan soil by an Indian batsman in 26 years of trying. But just as his fantastic 123 failed to prevent victory for Pakistan in the fourth ODI at Ahmedabad the other day, it was a similar story a year back at Rawalpindi. Having narrowly won the first match at Karachi after topping 300, it was now the turn of India to fail in the chase while going after Pakistan's 329 for 6. It was Tendulkar's highest ODI score against Pakistan at more than a run a ball and was full of glorious shots which brought him 17 fours and a six. India fell short by 12 runs but the Man of the Match award went to Tendulkar. It was his 37th ODI hundred and during the innings he crossed 13,000 runs.
Virender Sehwag's blazing knock of 309 (375 balls, 531 minutes, 39 fours, 6 sixes) had come against Pakistan in 1st Test match-India's tour of Pakistan-2004 played at Multan Cricket Stadium, Pakistan. Virender Sehwag became the first Indian to hit a Test triple century. This test match was memorable because India clinched an historic win i.e India's first-ever Test victory in Pakistan. At the stroke of 1 Six, Sehwag launched Saqlain Mushtaq into the stands over midwicket to become the first Indian to reach 300 in style with a fearless six. In this match Anil Kumble (6/30 in the second innings) and Sachin Tendulkar (194 not out in the first inning) played sterling roles in the win.
India's 2004 tour to Pakistan was a huge success, with both Test and one-day series victories. For the first time ever India won a series in Pakistan. India won the Test series by 2-1 and ODI series by 3-2 in Pakistan in the tour. The Indian cricket team went for a complete tour to Pakistan after a long gap of 15 years in 2004 and hence, the tour was considered as historical even before it started. And it ended in India`s First Test Series Win in Pakistan, 2004 with the powerful performance of complete Indian team specially Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and the strong emergence of Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, Lakshmipathy Balaji.
At the Vishakhapatnam Ground in 2005, Mahendra Singh Dhoni celebrated his maiden ODI century against Pakistan with a cracking 148, the highest score by an Indian against Pakistan, off just 123 balls, with 15 bounadries and four sixes, batting at number three, Dhoni hit a breezy ton of 148 as India posted their highest total against Pakistan i.e. 356 for 9. Thus Dhoni arrived to international cricket by this marvellous inning and he was always remembered for this killing innings that destroyed Pakistan bowling attack completely. There were two magic moments in course of Dhoni's innings, and neither had anything to do with the free-flowing player's shot-making. The first was when he completed his century; the second, when he was finally out. On both occasions, the cameras panned to the team dressing room -- and there, up on his feet, a smile as wide as all outdoors, stood Virender Sehwag, furiously applauding. Virender Sehwag clapped right through as Dhoni walked into the pavilion. And as the young wicket-keeper walked up to him, Viru grabbed his hand and slapped him on the back, his smile getting even wider. The signal was clear: Sehwag, who increasingly has become the go-to guy every time India needs quick runs, was recognizing the emergence of a kindred spirit, a young lad without a shadow of fear in his heart or doubt in his mind.
India won the 5 match ODI series 4–1 in India's 2005 tour to Pakistan in which Indian batsmen demonstrated a pressure handling run chase through out the series by Yuvraj Singh (who scored 344 runs in 5 matches) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni(who scored 219 runs in four innings at a strike rate of 137). Dhoni's performance in that tour of Pakistan propelled him to number three in ICC 2005 ranking among ODI batsmen.
Irfan Pathan claimed a first over hat-trick against Pakistan, becoming the second person , after Nuwan Zoysa, to achieve this feat in a test match in the first over. In a sensational start to the third Test of India's tour to Pakistan Jan 2006 played at National Stadium Karachi, Irfan Pathan took the wickets of Pakistan's top order batsmen - Salman Butt (caught by Rahul Dravid at slip), Younis Khan (LBW) and Mohammand Yousuf (bowled) of the last three deliveries of the first over. This feat made Pathan the second Indian to achieve a test hat trick (the other being Harbhajan Singh).
The First T20 World cup was played in South Africa, 2007 and the First T20 match between India & Pakistan ended in Tie and then the bowl-out took place, India won the bowl-out by 3-0. Twenty20 doesn’t allow a result to end in a tie and now it was time for the ‘Bowl Out’ as scores are levelled. Each team has to nominate five bowlers to bowl a ball each with both sides alternating. The team that hits the stumps most times would be the winners with overstepping the crease not counted. Shoaib Malik won the toss and he asked India to have first go. The crowd didn’t leave the stadium at all, they were praying for their respective teams to prevail in this unique contest on a cricket ground. India’s five bowlers were Virender Sehwag, Robin Uthappa, Harbhajan Singh, Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan while Pakistan’s were Asif, Umar Gul, Afridi, Arafat and Tanvir. Sehwag started the Bowl Out and bang he was on the target and in response Yasir Arafat nervously bowled it oustide the offstump! Next Harbhajan bowled an off break that went straight onto the stumps and in reply, Umar Gul bowled with cross seam which nicely swung away outside the offstump. Pakistan under all sorts of pressure, they now needed to fire in three out of three to just tie the Bowl Out and start it all over. Robin Uthappa came in next, hit the stumps and took a bow. His competitor Shahid Afridi drifted his leg break down the legstump leaving India victorious with a score of 3-0.
In the grand final of ICC T20 world cup 2007 between IND vs PAK, that held in South Africa, both the teams reached the finals and Pakistan needed 6 runs in 4 balls with 1 wicket remaining, Misbah Ul-Haq batting on 53 was on strike and got out to Joginder Sharma on the 4th ball and India won the match by 5 runs. India triumphed emphatically in the inaugural edition of the World Cup T20. This was also a golden moment for Indian Cricket team because India under captaincy of M.S.Dhoni beat their arch-rival Pakistan in the World Twenty20 final by five runs to clinch their first major trophy since 1983 World Cup.
In Asia Cup 2008, Karachi Sehwag's 119 and Raina's 84 seal thumping win against Pakistan. The 198-run stand between Virender Sehwag and Suresh Raina shut Pakistan out of the game. India 301 for 4 (Sehwag 119, Raina 84) beat Pakistan 299 for 4 (Malik 125 retd, Younis 59) by six wickets. Raina did most of the early scoring with free-flowing cover drives when offered width outside off stump by Sohail Tanvir and Anjum. Raina scored his maiden hundred against Hong Kong during the first match of 2008 Asia Cup played in Pakistan. Bristling with confidence after his century against Hong Kong, He scored 84 of 69 against Pakistan and 116 of 107 against Bangladesh, in next two matches. Hence, Raina won man of the match award successively for three times in that 2008 Asia Cup played in Pakistan. This led to the emergence of Suresh Raina. Since then, Raina has been a member of India's full-strength ODI and T20 team.
India and Pakistan's eagerly anticipated clash at The Oval in a warm up match of second ICC T20 World Cup June, 2009 had been designated as a "Catch the Spirit" match by the ICC, a fundraiser to help support families of the victims of the attack on the Sri Lanka team and officials in Lahore in March. India thrashed Pakistan in that T20 warm-up match making it a one-sided Twenty20 game.Rohit Sharma with a 80-run blitzkrieg and Gautam Gambhir 52 not out continued to give India a combination dilemma and made the chase seem like an afternoon walk in a London park. Rohit Sharma tore apart Pakistan's bowling attack as India bulldozed their arch-rivals by nine wickets with three overs to spare in their final warm-up match of the ICC World Twenty20 on Wednesday night.
In response to the Sharma-Miandad classic, in the 4th game of the Asia Cup 2010, India were chasing 268 to win against Pakistan. With 9 needed off the last over, Harbhajan Singh hit a six in the penultimate ball sealing the victory for India, followed by a loud roar towards Shoaib Akhtar. That reaction was sparked by an altercation with Akhtar in the previous over. In response, Akhtar hand-gestured Singh with a 'V' sign.