Saturday, January 7, 2017

End of an Era - Mahi steps down as India captain in ODI's & T20I's

Mahendra Singh Dhoni dropped a bombshell on the cricketing fraternity by announcing that he was stepping down as India captain from the shorter formats of the game with immediate effect. It was a typical Dhoni decision; which catches everyone on the outside off their guard but one which he probably has taken time to think over in his head numerous times. He has taken the decision at an opportune time giving Kohli ample time to ready the troops for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup to be held in England.

The rise of Indian test team under Virat Kohli means that Indian cricket team will not be thrown in turmoil following this decision while it will also allow Virat to captain while he has MSD on the field to help him out during periods when the going gets tough. Dhoni was also not the same free flowing batsman in the last couple of years as his performances in front of the wicket dipped and he struggled to kill games off as he did earlier with aplomb. With the burden of captaincy off him, we might be lucky enough to witness the most destructive of phase Dhoni yet. He is still the quickest behind the wickets and his speed is something that I am amazed at so that is not a problem at all.

He gave this Indian team it's spine and belief, brought glory to the country's shores and played in a way that was the best for the team. It was under him that the Indian cricketers shed the mentality of going for personal glory rather then putting India first. He has been a pioneer with his captaincy and out of the box decisions which left most cricket pundits scratching their heads in disbelief. He never shied to take tough decisions but was also considerate and understanding so as to give full backing to a player he thought deserved more.

He is, without any doubt the greatest captain India has ever produced and India were lucky to have a guy with such temperament and tactical nous to lead them at a time when stalwarts like Sachin, Ganguly, Kumble, Dravid and Laxman bid good-bye to Indian cricket. I hope that he shines brighter then he has ever shone just like the candle which spreads the most light when on it's last breath!!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

India England 5 Match Test Series Billed Up As #ScoreToSettle; Can They Live Up?

The last time England toured India (in 2012) for a Test series it was billed as a revenge series after India had plummeted to lowly depths of a 0-4 loss in England just months prior to the beginning of that series. England, then, grounded India into dust at their home with Cook, Trott and Pietersen playing the key roles in negating India's spin threat. England came unscathed with a 2-1 victory against a strong Indian side in their own backyard. India visited England again in 2014 and were bashed comprehensively once again with Kohli having a horrid tour as India capitulated against both the swing of Anderson and the guile of an unsuspecting Moeen Ali. England were victorious again by a 3-1 margin.

So much for a brief history between these two sides and more look ahead to what promises to be a mouth watering clash of 5 tests between India and England. While India are coming off a convincing win over the Kiwi's in which Ashwin and Jadeja played key roles, the English are coming off a loss to Bangladesh where they had a tough time negotiating the Bangla spinners.

This series is definitely going to be defined by how the English batsmen can cope with the dual threat posed by Ashwin and Jadeja and in Cook, Root, Bairstow and Stokes they do possess the batsmen who can take it to the Indian spinners. I also feel that England would be better served by dropping Gary Ballance and playing the dynamic Jos Buttler as Buttler is a much better player of spin bowling having played in the IPL in India. A left field choice can also be Sam Billings, who in my opinion uses his feet brilliantly and can slot in the crucial number 4 position.

Coming to the English bowling combination; with Anderson out at least for the first test, England can go in with Woakes, Broad, Stokes, Moeen and Adil Rashid. Root will also have to roll his arm over on a regular basis if the main bowlers fail to make an impact. The cooler conditions that will prevail in India in November and December should certainly help their fast bowlers in the morning session and also to stay fresher for longer periods of time. They also exploited reverse swing brilliantly in Bangladesh and will be looking forward to getting some of that in India as well.

India on the other hand looks quite a settled side apart from the opening position where quite a few of their first choice openers are injured but in Vijay and Gambhir, India has two brilliant openers with excellent records behind them. Indian bowling should feature two spinners and two fast bowlers but they might go in with three spinners if the conditions demand the same. Hardik Pandya might get a debut as he has improved greatly since he first began and he will hope that he can bag his chances and create an impact straightaway.

This will be series that will certainly show where these two teams are placed right now and there are a lot of questions that will probably be answered by the time dust settles on this long 5 match series. Will India retain its number 1 position in Test Cricket? Can Cook and co plot India's downfall in India for a second time running? Is Ashwin really as good as his figures up until now suggest? I am really looking forward to this series but not with a tag line of #ScoreToSettle; just sit back and relax and enjoy good cricket between 2 good and improving young sides!!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Rangana Herath all set for a Captaincy Debut!!

Rangana Herath to Captain Sri Lanka for the first Time against Zimbabwe in Tests

Rangana Herath, the amiable slow left spinner will captain Sri Lanka for 1st time at an age of almost 39 and it could not have happened to a nicer guy! I wish him all the very best as he leads the Lankans against the Zimbabweans in a two match test series starting today!!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

New Zealand and India to begin the ODI series Fight at Dharamsala

India blanked the Kiwi's comfortably in the three match test series; riding high on stellar performances by R Ashwin, Virat Kohli and Pujara; among others who also made notable contributions at important junctures. Now the focus shifts to the shorter formats of the game and the excitement starts at the picturesque locale of Dharamsala which is all set to host the first ODI of the five match ODI series between India and New Zealand.

MS Dhoni returns to lead a side high on confidence but also a side which will have plenty of new faces from the one which we saw in the test matches. Ashwin, Jadeja, Pujara are all missing while Raina will miss the first ODI with viral fever. The injuries to Dhawan and KL Rahul has opened up a slot at the top of the order and Ajinkya Rahane might well get an opportunity at the top of the order.

The spin department might not miss Ashwin and Jadeja much as Amit Mishra and Axar Patel are there to give cover and will be eager to perform and show that they are quality too. The fast bowling will be bolstered by Jasprit Bumrah who will be aiming to get his pin point yorkers working in the death overs.

Over all, this Indian outfit might be missing some regular players from the squad but still bears a very strong appearance and the Kiwi's will have to play out of their skins to emerge victorious in the ODI series. They will need Williamson and Taylor to fire in the batting department and hope that the returning Corey Anderson along with Neesham and Ronchi will do the job in the middle order.

The Kiwi's have plenty slow bowling options as they showcased at the World T20 earlier this year and I feel that the ODI's will be a keenly contested series. If the tracks are batting friendly than I don't see India beating New Zealand with this squad as the Black Caps have an explosive batting line up but if the tracks assist the slower bowlers and are sporting enough then it will be a fun series which will see various mouth watering battles over the course of the next month or so.

Who do you think has an upper hand in this ODI series? Any scoreline predictions?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

DilScoopExit - Dilshan Announces His ODI & T20I Retirement

Tillakaratne Dilshan, one of the most flamboyant cricketers of recent times has announced his retirement from ODI and T20I cricket at a ripe age of 39. He was a gifted stroke-maker and did all that was asked of him on the field. He is the inventor of the famed 'Dilscoop' and his booming cover drives were a treat to watch. Despite his age, he remains one of the best fielders in the Lankan side. With Sangakkara and Jayawardena already hanging their boots in the recent past, Dilshan's exit will surely leave a big hole in the Sri Lankan side.

He will play his last ODI against Australia on the 28th of August in Dambulla and will finally bow out after playing the two T20I's scheduled for early next month against the same opposition.

He was a brilliant batsman, a canny off spinner and combined with his panther-like reflexes anywhere in the field, he was every captains dream - Dilshan you will be sorely missed! Thank you for all the memories, All the Best for your future!!

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