Sunday, May 11, 2014

Nostalgia - India Vs Australia, Adelaide 2003

My mind often rewinds back to that day about 11 years back. The year is 2003, month December. It is bitterly cold and I am having a slug-fight as my 1st semester engineering exams are going on. At the very same time, the Indian Cricket team is also undergoing a severe examination of endurance, concentration, physical stamina and mental strength in the middle of a glorious Australian summer Down Under.

I followed the series by waking up at about 4.30 am (talk about cricket fans happily sacrificing sleep) and running to the terrace of my hostel (read walking like zombie's at unearthly hours!!) to listen to the commentary on All India Radio (AIR). My friend Amit would always be by my side as he too was a crazy cricket fan, just like me. Wrapped in jackets and fighting cold winds we would perch ourselves on the hostel parapet and carefully hoist the transistor up at one side near the water pipeline (we had a theory that keeping it near metal bars would result in better reception). We would have a feeling of being in paradise for we would experience heavy fog during the early morning and coupled with the commentary from an Australian tour would only make things better for us. It may sound incredible but in those days our hostel campus did not have a single TV set where we could watch live cricket action. During the college hours my friend would always activate the GPRS on his mobile phone and we would happily follow cricket, on the move and would follow the match by checking the scores on StarSports (I think it was called espnstar.com at that time) by continuously and maniacally refreshing the 'live-commentary' page. If we were lucky enough to get the signal we would catch some commentary by sharing the ear-phone, one each. As we were perennial back-benchers we were never caught.

After India had drawn the first test (which in itself was a rarity and felt almost like a win to us win-depraved-average-die-hard Indian Cricket Fan), we were eagerly looking forward to the battle of the second test. Australia batted first and with Ricky Ponting in imperious form, made an imposing 556. Punter contributed 242 of those. With India at 85/4, a large defeat loomed on the horizon. But we still had hope as the Kolkata-Miracle pair of Dravid and Laxman joined hands. When Laxman finally departed, about 300 runs later, they had performed the miracle once again - this time in Adelaide!!! India had replied with 523.

Australia were bundled out for a meager 196 in the second innings, the highlight being Sachin's twin strikes as Dravid held two marvelous reflex catches at slip to send back Damien Martyn and Aussie captain Steve Waugh. India required 230 to win with about 200 required on the final day, certainly not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.

That day, with India poised for a famous win against Australia, we had our Applied Science Exam. The fifth morning of the tantalizingly poised match, we were up earlier than usual and quickly settled on the terrace of our hostel as was our routine during match days. We used to have 4-5 days break in between exams and we would slog after match hours to put in about 10 hours of studies and we believed that we had prepared well enough to at least scrape the exam!! Dravid held fort as wickets fell at regular intervals. Amit and I were lamenting the fact that we would not be able to witness what should be a dream-come-true-moment for every Indian cricket fan. We checked the scores until the final bell rang before the exam when we were required to switch off and submit the mobile phone to the invigilator and occupy our allotted seats. India still needed about 50 runs with 6 wickets standing, more importantly, with Dravid and Laxman at the crease!!!

With heavy hearts, we parted with our cell phone and took our respective exam seats. Generally during exam days, I have always perceived the clock as a villain with its hands zooming ahead but that day even they seemed to move rather slowly almost defying the laws of physics. My attention was divided and every passing minute seemed like hours. Finally, about 130 minutes passed by and we had already scribbled quite a bit. I and Amit exchanged a few quick glances and decided that we can wait no longer. Another 5-10 minutes were spent going through the examination paper and checking our scribbled answers. I gazed around me. Most of the students were busy writing, some were lost in their own world as they had nothing to contribute while some tried to sneak passing looks at the paper of the student seated ahead!!! But we had made up our mind. We got up from our seats and handed over the examination paper to the invigilator. Many students shot curious glances in our direction. Its tough enough to complete an engineering paper in the stipulated 180 minutes and we were submitting our papers well before time (And since it was our 1st year, it was a real struggle to come to terms with engineering papers. It is quite a leap when compared to the 12th or the 10th standard board examinations. Hence the surprise and shock of fellow classmates.)!!

Next thing we knew, we were out of the classroom and excitedly fiddling with Amit's mobile phone! Amit switched on the mobile and it slowly flickered to life almost teasing us. Starsports was then duly opened and with a gleam and a hint of a tear in his eyes, Amit let out a loud scream – We Won!! Yes, Mate.. We Won Down Under! The entire hallway resonated with his voice and a few teachers came running out. Returning back to our senses at what he had just done, we ran for our lives and hi-fied each other while jumping in the air! That incident was real fun!! Engineering hostel life, all of 4 years were filled with many incidents which are deeply ingrained in my mind.

I was reminded of this story as BlogAdda, in collaboration with starsports.com has come up with a dream contest for all cricket crazy fans like me where we are required to Share the things that we have done to make sure that we don't miss a shot!

This incident often brings me up to date with the frailties and the single minded dedication of an average Indian Cricket Fan - the lengths that he can traverse to support his team. With meager resources he is willing to put at stake his health, his career and almost everything that he possesses just so that he can derive that joy of watching his team play which may seem insignificant to the world but means the world to him.

Ten years ago we did not have a TV set at our college campus and starsports came to our rescue. Today, the flat that I live in, in my work city does not have a TV set either. But starsports still continues to be my life-saver, after all those years, still providing me with everything that I need this IPL season. The new sleek look of the website provides a soothing experience surfing the various features which include Fastest Scorecard - A scoreboard that delivers faster than anyone else, Zip Clips - Quick videos that capture key match points in real time, Action Recap - Catch up with the match quickly and completely, no matter when you come in, Infographix - Informative snippets with a visual twist, for your entertainment and Deferred Live - FREE video stream of the match with 5 minutes delay.

Though all the features come in handy at various times but the one feature that I am in love with is the Fastest Scorecard! I mean what does a cricket fan need the most when a match is on? The obvious answer is the live score! Like water relieves a person when he is extremely thirsty, the thirst of a cricket fan is satiated only by the live scores!! And the Fastest Scorecard Feature does exactly that plus it's super quick, it's reliable and it's easy to access! Thank you Starsports for making life a little easy for us cricket crazy fans and thanks blogadda for hosting this fabulous contest giving me a chance to reminisce an incident which is close to my heart!!

This post is a part of Cricket just got better! Activity by starsports.com in association with BlogAdda.com.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Top 5 Bowlers to watch out for in the World T20 2014, Bangladesh

My list for top 5 Bowlers to watch out for in the World T20 2014, Bangladesh

Saeed Ajmal

He is the master of the doosra and uses it sparingly. He makes the batsmen dance to his tunes and entangles them in his web. Using the crease well and the angles coupled with his subtle variations make him a deadly bowler. In conditions which aid him slightly, which I guess will be the case, he will be nigh unplayable!

Ajantha Mendis

The mystery spinner; his mystery was supposed to have been cracked a few years ago but continuous to prove a handy bowler. With the number of variations that he possesses I guess the batsmen will never be able to play him comfortably unless he bowls badly himself. Sri Lanka is pitted against England, New Zealand and South Africa in the group stage; all relatively weak players of spin and Mendis will be licking his fingers to bowl at those clueless batsmen!

Sunil Narine

Another mystery spinner, this time from the West Indies!! Quite similar to Mendis in many ways but also quite different, he probably bowls at a much quicker pace than the former. Befuddling and confounding the batsmen with his bag of tricks, he has been a success story in the shorter format.

Dale Steyn

For quite some time he did not do well in the shorter formats of the game as well as he did in the test match arena but recently all that has changed. His pace and disconcerting bounce make him a difficult proposition for the opposing batsmen and the fact that he is used in short one/two over spells means that he gives it his all in those overs.

Lasith Malinga

His awkward action and the low slinging action make it a challenge for any batsman facing him for the first time. But even when you get used to his unusual action his deadly accurate yorker’s make life difficult; it only gets worse when he starts getting the ball to curl in and then swing away from the right handed batsmen and then if you get past all that then a small matter of a barrage of fast and slow bouncers remains to be negotiated!!

Which bowlers will have the most impact in this WT20 according to you and why do you think so? Voice your opinions in the comments section below!!


Read My List of the top 5 Batsmen to Watch Out for in the World T20 2014, Bangladesh

Read the Review of the England and New Zealand Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Read the Review of the South Africa and Sri Lanka Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Read the Review of the Australia and India Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Read the Review of the West Indies and Pakistan Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Top 5 Batsmen to Watch Out for in the World T20 2014, Bangladesh

My list of the top 5 Batsmen to Watch Out for in the World T20 2014, Bangladesh

David Warner

He has come a long way since he was sent home for disciplinary reasons during the Champions Trophy last year. He looks like he means business when he strides out to the crease these days, reeling hundreds galore during the Ashes series and also against the South Africans. He packs a punch and bowlers will look to snare him early or else he will run away with the game in a short period of time.

Corey Anderson

Having slammed a hundred in just 36 balls against the West Indies recently in an ODI made him a household name. What is most fearful about him is that he has followed that innings with several similar cameos against the Indians recently showing that the hundred was not a fluke. He makes hitting look very simple and effortlessly slams the ball over the ropes. He is also a handy bowler which makes him any captain’s delight.

Chris Gayle

Any list of the most feared batsmen in twenty-twenty cricket is incomplete without the mention of this man. He is a tornado, a gale waiting to unleashed. There is a method to his batting as he takes his time to get his eye in and then suddenly takes off. No ground in this world is big enough once he gets going, no bowler good enough to stop him. Adding to his batting is his uber cool persona; who can forget his Gangnam Style celebrations during the WT20 2012!!

AB de Villiers

He is a batsman who makes batting look simple. He hits his straps from ball one and as he is a fantastic runner between the wickets keeps the scoreboard ticking. A brilliant manipulator of the field; he finds those gaps in the field which never seemed to exist. Silky cover drives and whips off his pads are his favorite shots. He is also a brilliant fielder to boot!

Kusal Janith Perera

He is my dark horse for this tournament and I am backing him to be one of the most explosive batsmen in this WT20. He has modeled his batting on Sanath Jayasuriya and he has not done a bad job of it at all. He possesses those wrists of steel just as his hero and those flicks of his legs invariably land in the crowds invoking memories of Jayasuriya. The cuts, pulls and the lofted shots down the ground will all make you sit up and watch in awe as he will remind you of the man he imitates!!

Which batsman are you looking forward the most this WT20? Who do you think will be the most difficult batsmen for the opposing captain’s to contain?


Read My Top 5 Bowlers to watch out for in the World T20 2014, Bangladesh

Read the Review of the England and New Zealand Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Read the Review of the South Africa and Sri Lanka Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Read the Review of the Australia and India Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Read the Review of the West Indies and Pakistan Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review of Group 2 for WT20 2014 – Part 2, Pakistan and West Indies

The teams that make up the Group 2 – Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Qualifier A1
  • Pakistan

They will make you cry, they will make you laugh, they will enthrall you, they will disappoint you, they will combust, they will seem unconquerable but most certainly they will make sure that you will not have any nails left to chew on once the WT20 gets over in 3 weeks time! Pakistan is one team that can be banked upon to provide all the masala that can make a Hollywood blockbuster!! There will be passion, emotion and drama when they play. Can they lift the trophy they won in 2009?

The batting will revolve around the dependable Mohammad Hafeez. He will be expected to be the anchor man around whom more carefree players like Ahmed Shehzad, Umer Akmal and Shahid ‘Boom Boom’ Afridi can be more adventurous. The old hands of Shoaib Mailk will be there to guide the ship in case of a storm and he will have the raw blood in Sharjeel Khan and Sohaib Maqsood supporting him.

It is the bowling though that can cause headaches to any other team in this WT20. They have the experienced Umar Gul who can swing and reverse swing (yes even in T20!), then they have the young Junaid Khan who can be a handful be his pace and the left arm angle. Then there is the king of spin, Saeed Ajmal who can bamboozle the batsmen with his plethora of tricks. Supporting him in the spin department will be the captain Hafeez and enigmatic Afridi.

Pakistan certainly has a team which can demolish any opponent on a good day. But they are so unpredictable that they can demolish themselves too!! It will be quite fascinating to see which Pakistan turns up against India on the 21st March which might well give us an indication of the things to come later!

Team Rating – 6.5/10
  • West Indies

If there is any other team that can provide a viewer with the ups and downs as Pakistan can, then its West Indies. They are the one team that endears the neutral fan; they provide you with the simplistic joys of watching the game, the uninhibited and exaggerated style of their shot making, their fancy celebrations or their animated passion! They have a slew of players who are just made for this slam bang T20 version. As defending champions they will have fine memories of the last tournament and they will want nothing less than equal that performance.

The giant Chris Gayle will look to blow away opposing teams with his bat scything away like a sledge hammer. Dwayne Smith is a pretty clean striker himself and he will, in all probability, open the batting with Gayle. Then there is the hero of the WT20 2012 final Marlon Samuels. The Bravo brothers, Lendll Simmons, Andre Russel and the captain Darren Sammy will provide the slog over sparklers. Darren Sammy is in all probability, the captain who has the most number of critics in the world but he deserves place in this side. He almost always provides a strong finish while batting and is a brilliant fielder, sneaks in a few quiet overs in nearly each game and is a passionate leader.

The bowling will be led by Sunil Narine who will like bowling on the pitches in Bangladesh. He will be well supported by Samuel Badree just like the last time. The new fast bowlers Krishmar Santokie and Sheldon Cottrell both looked promising young lads during the recently concluded T 20’s against England.

I will back the West Indies team to make it through to the knock out stages. They have some pretty exceptional talent; players who can single-handedly deliver a win from hopeless situations. Can they become the first team to win consecutive WT20 tournaments?

Team Rating – 8/10

Are you supporting Pakistan? What are your views on them? Or are you a Caribbean Calypso fan? Do you think they will make it to the finals this time around? Share your views in the comments section below!!


Also read the Review of Group 1 for WT20 2014 – Part 1, England and New Zealand

Also read the Review of Group 1 for WT20 2014 – Part 2, South Africa and Sri Lanka

Also read the Review of Group 2 for WT20 2014 – Part 1, Australia and India

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review of Group 2 for WT20 2014 – Part 1, Australia and India

The teams that make up the Group 2 – Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Qualifier A1
  • Australia

The team that ruled world cricket for nearly two decades but slumped with a slew of retirements of its greats is now once again slowly finding its mojo back. Darren Lehmann has instilled the killer instinct in his wards once again. With the Ashes being regained in a manner not many expected and the recent wins over the current number one test team SA have made this Aussie team deadly as it carries with it a momentum that will be hard to stop.

The batting starts with the pocket rocket David Warner and the destructive Aaron Finch and continues all the way down with Shane Watson, Cameron White, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner and Brad Haddin completing what can be called a pretty strong and enviable line up. And if this was not enough Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc can thwack a few themselves! It will be a daunting task for any team to be able to contain that batting line up.

The bowling suffered a blow as Mitchell Johnson is ruled out due to an infection to his toe but it is still pretty decent as there is the other Mitchell 'Starc'. Then there is the evergreen Brad Hogg who still has the guile to baffle the batsmen with his googlies. The young spinner James Muirhead also looks like a man with a potential and can be called upon to fill the spinner’s shoe. And then there is Shane Watson and Glenn Maxwell along with James Faulkner who are all handy bowlers in the shortest format of the game.

The Australians have the arsenal to go all the way but they will have to adapt to these conditions pretty quickly after having played most of their recent cricket on the fast and bouncy pitches in their own backyard and in South Africa. Will they be able to claim the one major ICC trophy that is missing in their vast riches?

Team Rating – 8.5/10
  • India

The Indians can’t seem to win a game while playing abroad these days. They have endured some pretty horror tours in the recent times but more eerily the personnel have remained vastly the same. How much longer a rope can be given to players such as Rohit Sharma, or for R Ashwin for that matter? Does Yuvraj still have it in him to make a difference? Has MS Dhoni lost his magical charm? Will the Indian bowlers stand up please? Will Virat Kohli find an ally to save the sinking Indian ship or will he have to battle alone? These are some of the questions that the Indian team grapples with as it dreams of winning the tournament it won in its inaugural edition.

The openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma generally start slowly but they are both capable of picking up the pace once in. Virat Kohli will be the key for India once again and India will hope that he finds someone to support him in each game. There are serious question marks over the form of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina so it remains to be seen if they can blow the horn or not. MS Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane, along with Kohli will be the three men that the Indian batting will rely on to post moderate scores.

Posting moderate scores is one thing but defending them is quite another. Indian bowlers have been hammered and battered into dust on all the recent tours. They have been unable to either pick up wickets or keep the runs down. R Ashwin is looking confused by the day; recently he even resorted to changing his bowling action but without any success. Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja have looked the pick of the bowlers but even they are inconsistent and prone to leaking runs.

At this point the odds are firmly stacked against India. But then Twenty 20 is one format where fortunes can turn faster than a spinning wheel. They will do incredibly well to reach the knock out stage. Once there though, it’s anybody’s game!!

Team Rating – 5/10

Do you think that I have given low ratings to India? What ratings would you give them? And how do you think will the Aussie’s fare this time around? Share your views in the comments section below!!

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