Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hits and Misses - ICC World T20 2012, Team West Indies

West Indies

Hits

1. Marlon Samuels batted like a man possessed. His blade came down on the leather ball like a ball of fire!! He played some superb innings right through the World T20. Three 50's, including the swashbuckling 78 which he made in the Final against the home team Sri Lanka was one of the most precious innings ever to be played in a T20 match.

2. Chris Gayle was expected to destroy bowling attacks and destroy he did, and how!!! He tore into the Aussie's, not once but twice, once during the group match and once again in the all important Semi Final. When he was not taking bowlers apart, he was picking wickets or he was plucking catches out off thin air. When he was not doing any of the above he was showing his dancing skills as he performed the Gangnam dance regularly in which his team mates duly joined him!!!

3. Sunil Narine confounded the batsmen with his vast array of deliveries. He was the reason the match against the New Zealand went in to the Super Over. He also bowled memorable spells in both the Semi Final and the Final against the Australians and the Sri Lankans respectively.

4. Ravi Rampaul was almost unplayable when he bowled with the new ball. He swung the ball and bowled with pace and most importantly almost always got early wickets.

5. Darren Sammy has been criticized so many times and by so many people but he has pulled this team together. He made sure they all played for a single goal. He brought the best out off his players and did his bit too in wining the Final!!!

Misses

1.The bowling against the Australians in the group match was disappointing as they bowled boundary balls at will. The Aussie's raced to 100 in just 9 overs as West Indies lost their opening match on D/L by 17 runs.

2. It was a bad choice to open the innings with Johnson Charles. He slogged across the line and promptly got out in all the innings except one against England. Dwayne Smith, one of the cleanest strikers in the West Indian team sat on the bench.

3. Andre Russel hits the ball long and also bowls decently well but he was totally off color in the World T20 in Sri Lanka. He did get many opportunities to showcase his abundant talent but unfortunately he never made use of them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hits and Misses - ICC World T20 2012, Team Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Hits

1. Sri Lanka depended heavily on their top three of Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara in the batting department. And they all did the job perfectly. One of them almost always played an important innings and that was one of the reasons that Sri Lanka were the team to beat right through the World T20. Mahela's innings in the Semi Finals against Pakistan on a slow and low pitch which made run scoring extremely difficult was a masterclass in batting.

2. The middle order pitched in gamely when the opportunity presented itself and Jeevan Mendis and Angelo Mathews made valuable contributions against England in their last Super Eights match and also in the Semi Final against Pakistan. Lahiru Thirimanne deserves a special mention here for the incredible ramp shot that he played against New Zealand's Tim Southee in the final over to take the game into the Super Over!!!

3. Akila Dananjaya, all of 19 years, was given a game against the Kiwis and he had a memorable debut. He took a wicket in his first over but then copped a serious blow on his face as he failed to latch on to a difficult return catch off Rob Nicol. Playing with a swollen face he picked up another wicket in his last over!!! He bowled an assortment of deliveries... off breaks, leg breaks, carrom balls, googlies, the straighter ones and I loved the way he was not overawed by the situation.

4. The mystery spinner, Ajantha Mendis, made his comeback to the Sri Lankan team memorable; with the performance of this T20 as he had figures of 4-2-8-6 against the Zimbabweans. He almost repeated those stunning figures as he completed the match against the West Indians in the Final with 4-0-12-4!!!

5. Nuwan Kulasekera, Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath all deserve a mention here. While Kulasekera was accurate with the new ball and got early wickets regularly for the Lankan Lions. Malinga bowled superbly as he defended 13 runs in the Super Over against the New Zealanders and gave away just 7 runs. He also grabbed a 5fer against England to kill their chase in another Super Eight game. Herath was called in specially to play against the Pakistan team who have a known weakness against left arm spinners. Herath duly responded with a man of the match performance!!!

Misses

1. Though the match against South Africa was reduced to a 7-7 farce but the Lankans should have won that, especially when South Africa managed only 78 off their 7 overs. To go at 11 an over for a 7 over period with all 10 wickets intact must not be that difficult a task but the Lankans struggled to even lay bat on ball as they lost by a huge margin of 32 runs!!!

2. Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis blew hot and cold as both of them leaked runs. Malinga bowled the most forgetful spell of 4-0-54-0 in the final against the West Indians as Marlon Samuels absolutely laid in to him. Ajantha Mendia had horrible figures 4-0-48-1 and 4-0-40-0 against New Zealand and England respectively.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hits and Misses - ICC World T20 2012, Team Pakistan

Pakistan

Hits

1. Though Nasir Jamshed made 3 single figure scores but he was also responsible for a couple of Pakistan wins. He started with a gem of an innings against New Zealand making 56 off just 35 balls and also made a crucial 55 off 46 balls against Australia in their last Super Eights match which ensured that Pakistan made it to the Semi Finals

2. Mohammad Hafeez made three 40's while batting and also bowled economically in all innings while also picking important wickets. He also led Pakistan team well and seemed in control for most of the times.

3. Raza Hasan, a twenty year old left arm spinner was the surprise package as he bowled with a lovely control and guile. He announced his arrival by bowling a maiden over to Jacques Kallis, one of the most accomplished players of spin going around.

4. Saeed Ajmal was not exceptional and probably underachieved of what would have been expected of him but bowled dream spells against the Australians and the Black Caps.

5. The way the two Umar's - Akmal and Gul, snatched a victory out of the jaws of defeat against South Africa in their first Super Eights match was one of the most remarkable, come from behind, victories. Pakistan were 76/7 chasing 134 but won a thriller as Gul hit the ball like a dream!!

Misses

1. Imran Nazir looked good in all the innings playing a couple of good shots but threw his wicket away most of the time. He played just 1 innings of note in the entire World Twenty20, 72 off 36 balls against Bangladesh.

2. Shahid Afridi went from Boom Boom to Bust Bust as he struggled to lay bat to ball while batting notching a couple of Golden Ducks. One of that came sadly on the 16th anniversary of his fastest ODI Hundred that he had made against Sri Lanka. And we all probably think that Afridi is still just 16!!! His bowling, which has been his stronger suit for quite some time also failed him as he struggled to either pick regular wickets or keep runs down.

3. The entire team looked so flat and so tense against arch rivals India that they seemed to be carrying the weight of the entire world on their shoulders. It turned out to be their most disappointing performances of the World Twenty20, 2012.

See the previous post's in Hits and Misses,

Team South Africa
Team New Zealand
Team England
Team India
Team Australia

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hits and Misses - ICC World T20 2012, Team Australia

Australia

Hits

1. Who else but the Man of the Tournament Shane Watson. He did it all for the Aussie's in this World Twenty20... opened the batting, opened the bowling, took wickets when required, hit sixes at will and fielded brilliantly. He topped every conceivable list for a large part of the World Twenty20. 4 Man of the Match awards meant that there was precious little that he left for other team mates to do or achieve!! He eventually failed in the Semi Final against West Indies and Australia duly folded up without much of a fight.

2. Australia finally found a left arm pace bowler named Mitchell who could bowl with pace and more importantly control. Mitchell Starc bowled incisively at the start of the innings as he swung the ball at pace. He got early wickets and was one of the brightest stars in this ICC World Twenty20.

3. Mike Hussey was brilliant as always and he did the job required of him nonchalantly. His 54* which took Australia into the Semi Final was one of the innings of this World Twenty20. The next best score in that innings was a mere 15 as the whole Aussie line up capitulated against high quality Pakistan spin bowling on a slow and low, turning pitch.

Misses

1. The oldest player of this World T20, Brad Hogg, took just 2 wickets while playing all the games. It deprived Australia wickets in the middle of the innings. One of those wickets was against Ireland which made matters worse in the final analysis.

2. The Aussie middle order was always talked about as their weaker suit but they never got a proper hit in the middle until their final Super Eights match against Pakistan and against the West Indies in the Semi Final when Australia lost Watson and Warner early. They combusted spectacularly on both occasions going down completely without a fight. They were 5-65 and 6-43 against Pakistan and West Indies respectively and the matches were easily lost.

See the previous post's in Hits and Misses,

Team South Africa
Team New Zealand
Team England
Team India

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hits and Misses - ICC World T20 2012, Team India

India

Hits

1. Virat Kohli once again showed why he is called one of the best batsman currently going around. His innings of 78* in the high pressure chase against arch rivals Pakistan was one of the fondest memories of the World Twenty20 for the average Indian fan.

2. The part time, almost innocuous, left arm spin of Yuvraj Singh troubled every opposition that India played against. Yuvraj bagged 8 wickets in the tournament.

3. Balaji made full use of the limited opportunities that he got and picked up 9 wickets to end up as the joint 4th highest wicket taker in this ICC World Twenty20 held in Sri Lanka.

Misses

1. India started their campaign with a scratchy win against a spirited Afghan side. The Afghan team dropped about 5 catches and gave away numerous extras but still lost the game by just 20 odd runs. Showed what might have been if all the catches had been held and exposed India's frailties.

2. The Indian openers, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag, struggled right through the tournament and Sehwag was also dropped for a couple of games. When Sehwag was dropped, the effectiveness of the decision was offset by making Irfan Pathan to open the innings. He scratched around in both the games that he opened and India lost early momentum which they could have had if they had opened with Virat Kohli.

3. Irfan Pathan and Zaheer Khan were largely ineffective and leaked runs far too easily while they were also not able to pick early wickets.

4. India won 4 of the 5 games that they played at the World Twenty20 but one of this was against Afghanistan, another an inconsequential game against England in the group stage and one against South Africa which was won after the place in the semi final was lost!!!

5. India needed to restrict South Africa to under 122 in the last Super Eight game to make it to the Semi Final stage. The field placing was so conservative that India did not look like they were ever looking to defend 122. Fielders were placed on the boundary and singles were gifted on a platter. Ashwin's overs were kept in the bank for reasons best known to MS Dhoni. It was a brilliant showcase in 'How Not to Captain A Cricket Team'.


See the previous post's in Hits and Misses,

Team South Africa
Team New Zealand
Team England

Friday, October 12, 2012

Hits and Misses - ICC World T20 2012, Team England

England

Hits

1. The English started off with a bang as they dominated a spirited Afghan team who had run India close in their earlier encounter. It was a near perfect game for them.

2. Their number three, Luke Wright made a bright comeback to the English T20 team. He was their most spunky batsman with a couple of match winning 50's including a 99*.

3. Samit Patel came in against Sri Lanka and played spin bowling with such ease that it was difficult to imagine what would have been had he played all their games. England struggled against spin bowling right through the ICC World T20.

4. Steve Finn bowled with pace and fire upfront and was impossible to get away. He got early wickets in nearly all the games and troubled all batsmen with his disconcerting bounce and pace.

5. Eoin Morgan always came in after the fall of a couple of wickets and always when the pressure was on England, but he displayed deft touches and played some exquisite innings. His blistering 71* off just 36 balls, one of the highlights of the ICC World T20 2012, was not enough though to take England over the line against West Indies.

Misses

1. The opening pair of Craig Kieswetter and Alex Hales seemed to be participating in a mini competition of their own about who returns first to the dug out. England lost a wicket in the first over with one of the openers departing for a duck in each of their first 3 games. Things only just got better for them in the 4th game when they lost the first wicket in the 4th over. When Kieswetter was finally dropped for the final game, it was too little too late for England as they once again had a wretched start losing their in form batsman and make shift opener Luke Wright in the 3rd over.

2. The young and dynamic middle order consisting of Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow never looked settled and were found groping and prodding most of the time. They could never provide the English innings with the final thrust in the last 5-7 overs. Bairstow's painful innings of 18 off 29 must rank as one of the most disastrous innings of this World T20 as the English lost the game against the West Indies by just 15 runs.

3. The old problem of playing the spinners badly once again surfaced for the English as they played Harbhajan and Chawla in their group match against India like they were facing Murlitharan and Warne at their peak. The complete capitulation against the Indian spinners showed the world that their problems against the spinners were still not sorted out. Interestingly when they did manage to play the spinners better, they surrendered completely against pace. They lost 2 wickets in the first over of Ravi Rampaul against West Indies and then Malinga grabbed a 5fer against them a couple of games later. In both these matches they managed to play spin bowling well.

4. Jade Dernbach who is supposed to have a bag full of deliveries and variations to confound the batsmen was consistently costly. His economy rates tell a sorry tale... 6.86, 11.25, 9.5, 10.50


See the previous post's in Hits and Misses

Team South Africa
Team New Zealand

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hits and Misses - ICC World T20 2012, Team New Zealand

New Zealand

Hits

1. New Zealand started the tournament with self doubts about playing Bangladeshi spinners in their opening game but Brendan Mc Cullum waltzed his way to a sublime 123 and New Zealand were up and running in an ICC tournament once again!!

2. New Zealand were placed in the group of death with Pakistan and Bangladesh but they easily made it through to the Super Eights.

3. They once again punched well above their weight in a big tournament and dragged both the eventual finalists, Sri Lanka and West Indies, into a super over during their super eight clashes. Unfortunately they lost both of them.

4. The bowling of Tim Southee and the batting of their captain Ross Taylor were among the few plus points for the Kiwis.

Misses

1. They fluffed a chance to beat Pakistan in the group match as Ross Taylor came in so late to bat that the game had probably slipped away from their grasp by that time.

2. They did drag Sri Lanka and West Indies to the Super over during their Super eight clashes but failed to win either of them. While they found Malinga too hot to handle against the Lankans, Tim Southee completely lost the plot against Gayle and Samuels.

3. Managed to win just a single game during the World T20 and that was against Bangladesh.

4. Daniel Vettori came out of retirement to play the World Cup and help New Zealand but he was largely ineffective and looked a pale shadow of the best left arm spinner that he once was. He was ruled out with an Achilles Tendon injury in their last game.


See the previous post in Hits and Misses, Team South Africa

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hits and Misses - ICC World T20 2012, Team South Africa

Starting today, I will be reviewing the top 8 teams performances during the ICC World T20 2012 held in Sri Lanka in a series called - "Hits and Misses"

South Africa

Hits

1. The near perfect demolitions of Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka (although it was a 7-7 over lottery) in the group matches were probably the only genuine hits for the South African team in this edition of the World T20 in Sri Lanka.

2. Among the ruins of 3 Super Eight losses, the repeated stellar performances of the quicks Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel was heart warming to witness.

3. Probably knocking out India was one high that they experienced but they lost even that game by one run.

Misses

1. The biggest miss for the South Africans was probably the loss to Pakistan from a seemingly winning position. The bowlers were trashed around by Umar Gul and the South Africans started the Super Eights with a heart shattering loss.

2. The big hitting Richard Levi was in woeful form all through the tournament and he was duly dropped for the last game but it was a decision taken too late as the Africans were already out of the tournament by then.

3. It is said that a teams best batsman must face the maximum number of balls, more so in the shortest form of the game where every ball is a premium. But their best batsman, AB De Villiers often came in too late in the order to make any significant effect on the game.

Friday, October 5, 2012

My Childhood Memories of Cricket

This Guest Post comes from the wonderfully talented writer who prefers to be known as 'The Fool'. He writes at - Lucifer House Inc. In the following post he shares his trysts with cricket during his formative years.

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Bernard Shaw is known for his saying “Cricket is a game played by eleven fools and watched by eleven thousand fools”. When I call myself “The Fool”, obviously I would be one of the eleven fools or eleven thousand fools. Wouldn’t I? If you were to see me hold the bat, you can be sure I wouldn’t be one of the eleven fools even in my wildest dreams. So one of the eleven thousand at least I had to be, right? I started off about where it all began right at the beginning like Oliver Twist – the cricket cards and stuff. If you are collecting cards having pictures of cricket players on the front and their statistics on the back, isn’t it conceivable that you will take interest in the actual players themselves and their statistics? That is exactly how it happened with me.

Having managed to collect most of the cards, my interest began to fade. I found it a better idea to make the cards myself rather than depend on the limited cards that come free with bubble gums. So I began to take interest in collecting pictures of cricket players and the statistics. Obviously how can you not see the matches where the players whose pictures you are collecting are creating the statistics live? The first series I really watched with interest was 1992 World Cup. Some of the memories of the things I distinctly remember are Martin Crowe’s captaincy, Inzamam’s batting and the altercation between Kiran More and Javed Miandad. It was also a series where I saw the fading of the only star I had idolized during my hitherto days of indifference to cricket: Krishnamachari Srikanth.

For the next 4 years there was not a single match I missed. I tried playing cricket too. But it was too late an age to begin. Already many of my peers were batting prodigies while I was a batting comedy. So obviously I would be sent last down and hardly ever get a chance to improve my batting. Bowling or wicket keeping obviously no one wanted to give to a neophyte. They sent me to field at the boundaries. Standing alone at the boundary where nothing happens can be really boring and you tend to get contemplative. And when you are contemplating on finer things in life, can you be blamed for missing the rare catch that comes your way? But the boys thought differently. The net result was I decided playing cricket was not my cup of tea and gladly renounced the game.

So my interest in the game remained confined to hero worship and compilation of statistics. Due to my lack of success in playing the game, I never really got on to the technical aspects of the game. I was happy as long as my favorite players got the half centuries, centuries and the 5 wicket hauls and the scoreboards kept ticking. So following the matches on radio or newspaper worked as well as seeing the matches on television. I followed almost the entire South African tour of India on our ancient family radio that was a year older than me. It was a disappointment in terms of India’s performance. But I found a new hero to worship: Pravin Amre. And there were no cards of him available too. Then there was the England’s tour of India which revived India’s fortunes. Vinod Kambli’s double century delighted the statistician in me.

Very soon I moved from cards to a diary which was more convenient to maintain the photos and statistics. I had a page for every player and religiously maintained the statistics. In fact it was cricket that inculcated the habit of reading the newspaper in me. In those days there was no internet. Nor was there cable television. The newspaper was the only way of following international matches. I used to religiously cut the scorecard of every international match that was played and compile them series wise. For the pictures, I had to depend on sport star as I preferred color photos to black and white photos from the newspapers. But when I did not get color photos of a player I would make do with the black and white photos as well. We were financially not too well off as such. So I could not afford new Sport Stars. So one of the most exciting activities for me during those days was going to the waste paper man with my father and buying old second hand Sports Stars. As soon as I come home I would finish reading all the cricket articles and then get to work with my scissors. I did not limit myself to recent statistics. I also bought and read a few books on cricket history. Hindu used to publish an annual edition of cricket year book. That was a favorite with me.

Every activity has an initial start up phase, then a peak period and then a decline. So it was with my interest in cricket as well. The four years were my peak period from 1992-1996. From then on the decline started. I became busy with academics as I had my board exams and IIT JEE preparations.  Also in 1996, we got cable TV in our house for the first time. That brought a new range of entertainment at my disposal. My new school had a library with a good fiction collection and I began to return to my old love – reading books. So my new love – the cricket diary and cards were neglected. One fine day I gave away the cards to a boy in the neighborhood and my diary to my cousin. I still continued to watch matches. But the old passion was no longer there.

There were still a few highs for me in the years to follow. I went to watch a Ranji trophy match and watched Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath in live action in flesh and blood. I watched India chase down an impossible 300+ target against Pakistan  in a crowded college hostel common room. I watched the emergence of Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman. I discovered a cricket card collection from my father’s childhood days in my grandparents’ home. But there were also the bad moments. The conviction of Azharuddin and Hansie Cronje was one of them. Decline of the English and West Indies teams was another. With the details of the match fixing emerging, all the statistics I had been collecting began to look meaningless. So slowly I began to drift away from cricket. The old passion gave way to new ones: reading, trekking, martial arts. Soon it came to pass that at one stage I totally stopped watching cricket. From following all 5 days of a test match on an old transistor, I have still not seen a complete 20-20 match to date. Then that’s how infatuation is, right? You never know when it comes. You never know when it goes.

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