Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Top 5 Wicket Takers in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

Let us see who the Top 5 Bowlers are from ICC Cricket World Cup 2015!!

Mitchell Starc, Australia

Starc bowled with pace and fire and with a difficult left arm angle proved to be nemesis for many a batsmen. He almost made a match defending 150 against the Kiwis by picking 6 wickets in the nail biter at Auckland. He consistently troubled the batsmen with his deadly accurate yorkers and the inswing that he generated at the beginning of the innings. He grabbed 22 wickets in 8 matches at an average of 10.1 at an astonishing economy rate of 3.5!!

Trent Boult, New Zealand

He bowled almost as well as Starc and troubled all the teams in all the matches. He took wickets upfront as he swung the ball prodigiously with an eerie accuracy. The ball danced and hooped as per his wishes and he the ball talk as he wanted to. His most memorable spell was remarkable figures of 5-3-3-5 against the Australians at Auckland. He finished with 22 wickets in 9 matches with an average of 17 and with an economy rate of 4.3!

Umesh Yadav, India

Umesh Yadav was always known to possess pace but he would generally serve a lot of loose balls which meant that he could never maintain the pressure on the batsmen. But in this World Cup he was remarkably consistent and troubled almost every batsman that came up against him. He also bowled accurate yorkers at the death which got him a lot of wickets and meant that India always did well. He took 4 wickets in the Semi Final against the Australians at SCG. He took 18 wickets in 8 matches at an average of almost 18 and an economy rate of almost 5.

Mohammad Shami, India

Mohammad Shami was a revelation in the World Cup as he generated pace and was very accurate. He also managed to swing the ball in the early overs and hit his yorkers at the death. He was instrumental in dismissing Gayle in the match against the West Indies at Perth and how he bamboozled the big Jamaican was a treat to every Indian fans eye! He took 17 wickets in 7 matches at an average of 17.3 and an economy rate of almost 5.

Morne Morkel, South Africa

With Dale Steyn having an unusually quiet World Cup and Vernon Philander injured it was Morne Morkel along with Kyle Abbot who provided South Africa with the wickets. Morkel got the batsmen hopping with his extra bounce and pace. He bowled his heart out throughout but unfortunately his image of crying inconsolably after losing the Semi Final to New Zealand will be the one that will remain imprinted in our hearts. He took 17 wickets in 8 matches at an average of almost 17 with a splendid economy rate of just 4.3!

Jerome Taylor, West Indies

Jerome Taylor was the backbone of West Indian bowling and he provided them with early wickets in almost all the matches. He bowled the teasing line just outside off and swung the ball enough to get the batsmen groping outside his stumps. He also took 17 wickets in 7 matches at an average of almost 19 and an economy rate of almost touching 6.

These were the 5 Top Wicket Takers of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Which of these bowler surprised you the most, I was definitely surprised to see two Indian fast bowlers in the top 5!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Top 5 Run Scorers in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

Let us see who the Top 5 Run Getters are from ICC Cricket World Cup 2015!!

Martin Guptill, New Zealand

He was not the most in form batsmen leading up to the World Cup and he started off with a string of low scores before cranking it up with a composed century in the last pool game against Bangladesh during a tricky chase. He then smashed the first double century by a Kiwi as he made 237* against the West Indies in the Quarter Final. He finished with 547 runs in 9 matches at an average of 68.37 and a strike rate of almost 105.

Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka

The man who reeled off centuries after century like he was plucking fruits off his backyard tree! He started with a superb century against Bangladesh, then traumatized England in a run chase before making one off the eventual World Champions Australia at SCG in a high run chase and capped off with another one against Scotland. He made a staggering 541 runs in just 7 matches at an average of 108.2 and a strike rate of over 105.

AB De Villiers, South Africa

He was expected to take the batting at this World Cup by storm and he did exactly that. He played an audacious innings against the Irish and the West Indians hitting the ball to the parts of the ground we did not know exist! The fact that he fielded brilliantly and even bowled for the Proteas in addition to leading them just makes his whole effort even more stupendous! He made 482 runs in 8 matches at an average of over 96 and a mind boggling strike rate of almost 150!!

Brendon Taylor, Zimbabwe

He was the lynch pin of the Zimbabwean batting along with Sean Williams. They both held their middle order together and gave a scare to Pakistan and South Africa along with Ireland. Taylor made a sparkling 138 in his last match for the Zimbabweans against the Indians where he smashed them to all parts of the ground! He made 433 runs in just 6 matches at an average of 72.2 and a strike rate of 107!

Shikhar Dhawan, India

Shikhar Dhawan hit a century against the South Africans at the MCG and then also hit one against the Irish. Although he was not in form leading up to the World Cup but he found his mojo and made some important contributions for India at the top of the order. He made 412 runs in 8 matches at an average of almost 52 and a strike rate of almost 92!

In this list, I guess Shikhar is the one who made the least impact of all the batsmen. Steven Smith lies in the 6th spot with 402 runs in 8 matches at an average of 67 and a strike rate of 92 but he made telling contributions in the Aussie victory as he made a fifty against the Pakistanis in the Quarter Final, a century in the Semi Final against the Indians and an unbeaten half century in the Final against the Kiwis!!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Australia Crowned World Champions for the 5th Time!

ICC Cricket World Cup Final 2015: Australia vs New Zealand at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne on 29th March 2015 - Match Review

Australia beat New Zealand by 7 wickets at MCG to win the 2015 World Cup.

The D day had finally arrived. After 6 weeks of some pretty riveting cricket the two best teams had reached the final. It was to be played at one of the most iconic cricket grounds in the world – the MCG. Some 90,000 spectators were expected to fill the huge stands and fill they did, those stands were all a vast sea of green and yellow spattered with black and beige!

Kiwi skipper Brendon McCullum won the toss and decided to bat first. That gave them a chance to put pressure on the Australians by putting a decent score on the board and then let their in-form bowlers and pressure do the rest. Brendon McCullum faced up to Starc after Guptill took a single off the second ball and that was when the first big face off of the day took place. McCullum swung and missed at the first ball which just missed his off stump. He charged the second time around but still could not lay bat to ball as it swung a tad on its way to Brad Haddin. It was third time lucky for the Australians and Starc who rattled the stumps with a deadly yorker that McCullum missed again and the Aussies were off on a celebratory run!!

It was all nervy stuff after that for Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill as Starc bowled with fire and looked like taking a wicket with every delivery. Guptill top edged a pull for 6 off Hazlewood that gave the Kiwis some momentary relief and Kane played a lovely straight drive. Just when things seemed to be easing up with Clarke introducing Maxwell, Guptill played back to see his off peg being rattled. Williamson chipped a tame return catch to Johnson 2 overs later as New Zealand slumped to 39-3 in the 13th over and starring down the barrel.

But Ross Taylor and the hero of the semi final for the black caps, Grant Elliott steadied the rocking ship with some cool and calm batting as they collected the singles and twos regularly and kept the score ticking over. Elliott was the more comfortable partner of the two and he looked in ominous form almost carrying off from that six he hit off Steyn the other day.

New Zealand had reached 150-3 when the powerplay was taken at the end of the 35th over. They seemed to have recovered sufficiently to lay a charge on the Australians in the last 15 and a score of around 300 looked on the cards. All that changed in a matter of a few balls as Faulkner first induced a nick off Taylor the first ball of the powerplay. Corey Anderson was the cleaned up the very next ball, a fast yorker pinging his off stump. When Ronchi was caught off Clarke at first slip off Starc in the next over, the match had turned on its head. New Zealand were now 151-6 and looked down and out.

Grant Elliott tried to take a few risks as he ran out of partners and he was the 8th wicket to fall with the score on 171, he made a superb 83 off just 82 balls. The Kiwi innings ended with a brilliance of flash in the field by Glenn Maxwell who fielded the ball at short mid-wicket and hurled it at the non strikers end to catch Tim Southee short of his ground. New Zealand could only make 183. They had slipped from 150-3 to 183 all out losing their last 7 wickets for just 33 runs.

New Zealand still could make a match out of this as they had the bowlers and an aggressive captain who backed them to a hilt. Boult swung the ball in to Aaron Finch in the second over and he just inside edged it on to his pads which lobbed up for a simple caught and bowled. Australia 2-1. In walked Steven Smith, the man who had made a half century in the quarter final and a century in the semi final and he looked in fine touch once again. David Warner was a bit nervy and edgy but he too was soon hitting the ball right of the middle of his big, heavy bat.

Australia were cruising but Warner pulled one straight down mid-wickets throat off Matt Henry as Australia were 63-2 in the 13th over. That brought their captain to the crease for the final time in yellow cloths for Australia and he looked nervous. Short balls have troubled him lately and McCullum attacked him with plenty of short bowling. He placed ultra attacking fields too; 3 slips, a gully, a short cover and a short point for Clarke. But Clarke battled through and was soon hitting the ball as sweetly as he has ever hit. As the target got within sight Clarke decided to up the ante. He hit Southee for 4 consecutive boundaries in an over and then Smith got to his 5th consecutive fifty in the next over. But Clarke could not witness either Smith’s 50 from the other end neither could he hit the winning runs as he chopped one onto his stumps from the impressive Henry.

He walked off to a rapturous applause from the 93,000 strong fans voicing their support for him. The chase was sealed by Smith as he pulled a short Southee delivery to mid-wicket for a 4. The World Cup had been wrested back from India and Australia had won the World Cup for the 5th time!

All smiles for the Australian team as they lift the World Cup after
beating New Zealand by 7 wickets at the MCG

James Faulkner won the man of the match award for his game changing spell and Mitchell Starc won the man of the series as he ended up as the joint leading wicket taker along with Trent Boult. Both the awards were handed by the master blaster, Sachin Tendulkar. Michael Clarke made a reference to Phil Hughes when he emotionally and with a lump in his throat mentioned, ‘We dedicate this World Cup win to our little brother Phil Hughes’. A big pat on the back to him for that and respect too!!

And so, it ended. The cricket carnival has come to an end with Australia being crowned the World Champions for a staggering 5th time! Congratulations to them!

As for me I will do a few more posts on the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 before bringing down curtains on what has been the most prolific period for me and my blog.

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Trans Tasman Rivals to Clash for the Prestigious World Champions Crown!

Final: Australia vs New Zealand at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne on 29th March 2015 - Match Preview

It has come down to this, finally. The two host nations, Australia and New Zealand will battle it out for the ODI World Cup 2015 in Melbourne at the iconic MCG in front of expected 90,000 screaming fans. Both the have taken similar routes to the Final, Australia beaten only once throughout their campaign (New Zealand defeated them by a solitary wicket at Auckland) while New Zealand have been unbeaten and have an unblemished record. Let us look at how the two teams stack up for this mother of all matches.

The Australian opening pair have had a few good games but they have generally thrown away their wickets at the top of the order. Aaron Finch started with a blistering ton against ashes rivals England and then contributed in the semi final against India where he made a slow 81. Warner has started brightly but has failed to carry on to make a substantial score except when he made 170 odd against the Afghans at Perth.

Steven Smith was the man in form for the Australians and he has prospered at number 3. He made a vital half century in the Quarter Final against Pakistan and then followed that up with a stunning century against India in the Semi Final at SCG. His wicket will probably be the most sought after by the Kiwi bowlers. Michael Clarke has not looked comfortable in the middle against the short ball and is sure to be targeted by the New Zealand quicks.

Glenn Maxwell has also been making runs quite consistently and will hold the key in the later overs along with Shane Watson and James Faulkner.

The Kiwi bowling is spearheaded by their left arm quick Trent Boult (it was he who decimated Australia in Auckland with a spell of 5-3-3-5) who has managed to extract swing in New Zealand conditions and right arm Tim Southee who is quick through the air and is also capable of moving the ball both ways. How these two fare against the Aussie top order, whether they will be able to swing the ball, will hold the key to how much Australia can score in the early overs.

Matt Henry was superb as he was thrown in the mix after Adam Milne was injured and was ruled out with an injury. He bowled with pace and accuracy and made run making extremely difficult for the South Africans in their epic Semi Final clash. He is a good foil as a first change to Boult and Southee.

Michael Clarke will be playing in his last ODI and Brendon McCullum plays every ODI like it is his last! Who will hold that trophy aloft tomorrow at the hallowed MCG?

Daniel Vettori will be probably playing his final international match and what a dream script the bespectacled man is writing for himself. He has been stingy with his bowling, getting wickets and tying down the batsmen where generally the batsmen have run amok. He also made a vital little contribution with the bat at the end of their Semi Final win against the Proteas. He will be looking to go out on a high and the big MCG boundaries will help him no doubt.

Brendon McCullum has not defended a single ball probably and he will attack from ball one in the final as well. He is capable of clearing any ground in the world and his assault on Johnson and Starc in Auckland will be fresh in the Aussie minds. Martin Guptill is also in form as he made that blistering 237* against the West Indies in the Quarter Final.

Kane Williamson was the batsmen who I had thought would take the batting of New Zealand by storm and lead the run scoring charts but his blade has been silent up until now. He will be hoping to have the final say in this important match. Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson and last match hero Grant Elliot will shore up the middle order for the Kiwis and they are all in decent form having made runs recently and under pressure as well. There is also Luke Ronchi who will play against the team he has formerly played for and will add some extra spice to the whole affair.

The Aussie bowling is also led by a left arm bowler who has taken the World Cup by storm. Mitchell Starc, with his swing, pace and toe crushing yorkers has been impossible to get away and he was the one who nearly snatched victory for the Australians by claiming 6 wickets in Auckland earlier in the World Cup. Josh Hazlewood is a good foil for Starc as he generally bowls line and length stuff and forces the batsmen to make mistakes.

Any team that has Mitchell Johnson come in as first change has a seriously good bowling line up and the Australians certainly have that. Johnson was taken apart by McCullum in the game at Auckland and he will be itching top get one back against him. James Faulkner and Shane Watson will provide the medium pace options and both will be stump to stump and with a lot of variations thrown in. Maxwell will be the provider of part time spin for the Aussie's.

Key Battles: Australia vs New Zealand

Trent Boult and Tim Southee vs David Warner, Aaron Finch and Steven Smith

Mitchell Starc vs Brendon McCullum

Mitchell Johnson vs Ross Taylor

Matt Henry vs Michael Clarke

Daniel Vettori vs Glenn Maxwell

James Faulkner and Shane Watson vs Grant Elliot and Corey Anderson

These two teams have certainly provided us with some exceptional cricket over the past 50 days and will go toe to toe to claim victory. They have not played each other outside the ICC tournaments since 5-6 years which adds further intrigue to this battle. McCullum and Clarke are both known to be aggressive captains and it will certainly be a spectacle to see them go head to head. Man to man, Australia look stronger but really there is very little to choose from between these two neighbors. I hope that we get to see an exceptionally close and well played final, one that will remain in our minds for a long long time to come.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Road to the 2015 Cricket World Cup Finals - Australia

Hosts Australia have made it to yet another World Cup Final where they will meet New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the 29th March to decide who is the ODI champion. Their campaign was marked by a whitewash against the Bangladeshi's and a narrow loss against co-hosts New Zealand at Auckland. Let us look at how their World Cup has been thus far and how they reached the finals.

The Australian team has performed exceptionally and find themselves 
in yet another World Cup Title Race!

  • Australia v England at Melbourne - Feb 14, 2015

Australia won by 111 runs

  • Australia v Bangladesh at Brisbane - Feb 21, 2015

Match abandoned without a ball bowled

New Zealand won by 1 wicket (with 161 balls remaining)

  • Australia v Afghanistan at Perth - Mar 4, 2015

Australia won by 275 runs

  • Australia v Sri Lanka at Sydney - Mar 8, 2015

Australia won by 64 runs

  • Australia v Scotland at Hobart - Mar 14, 2015

Australia won by 7 wickets (with 208 balls remaining)

Australia won by 6 wickets (with 97 balls remaining)

Australia won by 95 runs

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

Road to the 2015 Cricket World Cup Finals - New Zealand

New Zealand have been unbeaten thus far in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and they have played very well indeed, deserving finalists they are too. Led by an aggressive captain and a bunch of players willing to give it their all and backed by a vociferous crowd, New Zealand have not only won matches but also won the hearts of numerous cricket fans and warmed their hearts. Let us look at their campaign so far.

Eye Catching! This has been a constant feature of McCullum's hyper aggressive captaincy, 
4 slips and a gully at the start of the innings!!

  • New Zealand v Sri Lanka at Christchurch - Feb 14, 2015

New Zealand won by 98 runs

  • New Zealand v Scotland at Dunedin - Feb 17, 2015

New Zealand won by 3 wickets (with 151 balls remaining)

New Zealand won by 8 wickets (with 226 balls remaining)

New Zealand won by 1 wicket (with 161 balls remaining)

  • New Zealand v Afghanistan at Napier - Mar 8, 2015

New Zealand won by 6 wickets (with 83 balls remaining)

  • New Zealand v Bangladesh at Hamilton - Mar 13, 2015

New Zealand won by 3 wickets (with 7 balls remaining)

New Zealand won by 143 runs

New Zealand won by 4 wickets (with 1 ball remaining) (D/L method)

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Smith Ton Flattens India, Sets Up Final Clash With The Black Caps

Semi Final 2: Australia vs India at SCG, Sydney on 26th March - Match Review

Australia beat India by 95 Runs

A sea of blue greeted both the teams as they arrived at the famous Sydney Cricket Ground for this important Semi Final clash and the right to play New Zealand at the MCG on the 29th March 2015 in the Final match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Australia won the toss and decided that they will bat first, the pitch looked like a belter and it was the same pitch on which Sri Lanka had nearly chased down Australia’s 370 odd just 2 weeks ago. Both the teams were unchanged for this fight.

Warner hit a six off Umesh Yadav but then lobbed a simple catch off the leading edge to Virat Kohli stationed at mid off. Mohammad Shami was getting the new ball to swing and he was all over Aaron Finch in his opening spell. Steven Smith, the man who had tormented India right through their recently concluded test series just started off from where he had left. He started in grand fashion and was middling the ball right from the word go. Umesh Yadav was hit straight down the ground for a 4 and was then pulled disdainfully three times in the same over, that over cost him 16 runs.

Finch meanwhile continued to struggle at the other end but he fought on. Australia brought their 100 in the 19th over and Smith completed his 50 off just 53 balls. Finch also eventually got to his half century but took 82 balls. Australia opted for the powerplay in the 33rd over as they looked to up the tempo of their innings and with wickets in hand they were headed towards a massive score.

Smith and Finch both attacked the Indian bowlers in the powerplay and Smith completed a well deserved century off just 89 balls. But he could not carry on to a bigger score as he pulled a ball from Yadav straight to Rohit in the deep. Maxwell came in and smashed 23 runs in no time when the introduction of R Ashwin got him a bit too greedy and he was out for 23 off 14 balls. Finch departed in the next over as he tried to pull Yadav but got the toe end of his bat, the ball lobbing to Shikhar Dhawan at short mid widwicket. He made a laborious 81 off 116 balls.

Steve Smith was all over India with the bat and in the field in their Semi Final Clash at the SCG!

At this point of time, India were just starting to claw their way back in to the game as a flurry of wickets had slowed the Aussie charge. The wicket of Michael Clarke further boosted the Indian confidence but first Faulkner who made a vital 21 off just 12 balls and then Watson who steadied the wobble a bit with a 30 ball 28 dented India’s charge. Mitchell Johnson then smashed a game changing 27 off just 9 balls right at the end as Australia posted an imposing score of 328 in their 50 overs.

India needed to bat with caution early on in a bid to preserve wickets for a late assault and that is exactly what they did. Rohit was caught by Watson off Starc in the first over but was reprieved as the replays were inconclusive if the ball had carried to him or not. Haddin then clanged a catch off Dhawan off Hazlewood and everyone felt that maybe it would be an Indian night after all. Dhawan started charging the bowlers and took on Faulkner who was smashed for 30 runs in his first two overs. At the other end Rohit hooked Johnson in the crowd for a six and the crowd roared. India were going along nicely when Dhawan had a brain freeze and he sliced a wide ball straight to Maxwell off Hazlewood.

The whole complexion of the game changed with that one error. Australia were right on top and the bowlers started charging in again. Virat made a solitary run before top edging a pull off Johnson; he took 13 balls to score that one run. Rohit pulled Johnson for another six but was bowled the very next ball as the ball just swung in a bit leaving India at 91 for 3 after 18 overs. Raina was the next in the firing line and he copped a few from Starc before edging one off Faulkner to Haddin. Dhoni and Rahane tried to forge a partnership but just when they were starting to get going in the powerplay, Rahane fell tickling a faint edge to Haddin off Starc which was originally given not out by the umpire but was reversed after Smith convinced Clarke that he had heard something!!

Dhoni dawdled around to complete an utterly meaningless half century but the script had been written and the film had been over long before he was eventually out. The Indian tail did not offer any resistance and India were bowled out for 233 as they whimpered to a loss against Australia one final time this Australian summer.

So, after 48 games and nearly 6 weeks; we now have the two Finalists of the World Cup. It will be the two co-hosts who will collide for the prestigious title once again just like India and Sri Lanka had in 2011. Australia and New Zealand have already given us a thriller earlier in the tournament, can they give us one more at the MCG?

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Can India Exorcise their Australian Demon, Reach Finals?

Semi Final 2: Australia vs India at SCG, Sydney on 26th March - Match Preview

These two sides met in the Quarter Final 4 years ago in a highly charged game of cricket and India went on to beat Australia on their way to winning the 2011 World Cup at the Wankhede. The protagonists have changed for both the sides though; Ricky Ponting who scored a superb century and Yuvraj Singh who sealed the chase for the Indians are not there. But there are new heroes waiting to be made and new folktales waiting to be told.

The Australian openers have not had the best of the times in the middle, although both of them have hit a ton each. Finch made a century against the English more than a month ago and Warner pulverized a hapless Afghanistan at Perth. Steven Smith has been a calming figure at the important number 3 position and it was him who made batting seem so easy while Watson struggled against the fire of Wahab in their Quarter Final game against Pakistan.

Michael Clarke has not had an easy initiation back to top flight cricket and Shane Watson has weathered a storm. Glenn Maxwell has been exceptionally consistent with the kind of high risk cricket that he is playing. He seems to be pulling it off with ridiculous ease at the moment. Brad Haddin has made a couple of lively contributions and James Faulkner might get a chance to showcase what he is made of, in the knockout match.

The Indian openers have had a similar tournament to that of their counterparts, Dhawan made a century against the Proteas and the Irish but has looked tentative at the beginning of his innings. Rohit did not do anything up until the Quarter Finals where he made a crucial century that saw India post a big total against the Bangladeshis. Virat Kohli too has cooled off since his century against arch rivals Pakistan in the opening game.

Rahane struggled in the last game but he has the technique and the temperament to fight it out. Raina and Dhoni will have to cope up with the high pace of Starc and Johnson and I am sure that both of these batsmen will be peppered with short balls. How they handle the short ball barrage can well hold the key to deciding the course of this match.

Can Duncan Fletcher and MS Dhoni plot the fall of the 
mighty Australians in the Semi Finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015?

Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc will certainly test the middle of the pitch against then Indian batsmen and they will hope that the Indian batsmen will fall in the trap. They also have the full ball and the batsmen will have to be careful about Starc's deadly yorker.

Josh Hazlewood replaced Cummins in the last game and he showed what good line and length bowling can achieve. He went on to pick 4 wickets that broke the back of the Pakistani batting. James Faulkner and Shane Watson can prove to be very effective on the slow Sydney pitch as they have the variations and an array of slower balls to flummox the batsmen. Glenn Maxwell is the spin bowler along with Clarke who provides a left arm spin option.

Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav have bowled their hearts out thus far in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 but they will have their task cut out against the Australian top order. Finch and Warner are certain to attack them from ball one and how they react to the challenge will be interesting to see. Mohit Sharma has used the short ball against the other teams but it will be cannon and fodder for the Australian batsmen who have been born and bred on these pitches as he does not have the pace to trouble them He must just try to bowl in the channel and force the mistakes from the opposition.

R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have been superb in the middle overs and their control has been something that has allowed Dhoni to attack in these middle overs. That has also given the leverage to the fast bowlers as the batsmen have always felt that they are under pressure. How they go about on the Sydney pitch which traditionally favors spin can have a big say on the final outcome of this match.

Key Battles: Australia vs India

Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma vs Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood

R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja vs Steven Smith and Michael Clarke

Virat Kohli vs Mitchell Johnson

David Warner and Aaron Finch vs Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav

India arrived in Australia in November but they are yet to win anything against the hosts in any format, Australia have had the wood on the Indian team but this is the game that matters the most. If India wins this big Semi Final, then all those losses will almost count for nothing and Australia will feel that they have let the thing slip.

My heart says that India has the arsenal to defeat the Australians but my mind disagrees vehemently saying that the Australians are just too good and strong for the Men in Blue. I hope that I am proved wrong and I wish Team India all the best but more than anything I pray that it is a close, intense and a worthy Semi Final. The Kiwis, after winning their Semi Final against South Africa, await the winners of this clash at the MCG!

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New Zealand Pip South Africa to Reach the 2015 World Cup Finals!

Semi Final 1: New Zealand vs South Africa at Eden Park, Auckland on 24th March 2015 – Match Review

New Zealand beat South Africa by 4 Wickets (D/L Method)

It was cloudy and a bit blustery at the toss which AB De Villiers won and decided that South Africa will bat first. That was a big plus for South Africa as the pressure of chasing in a big knockout game had been avoided. In a debatable team selection the stellar Kyle Abbot was replaced by Vernon Philander who had had an ordinary tournament up until today. New Zealand threw in Matt Henry for the injured Adam Milne.

Nervousness was writ large on the faces of the Protea openers Hashim Amla and Quinton De Kock as Tim Southee and Trent Boult swung the ball just like every day morning routine. De Kock edged one wide of the 3rd slip for a streaky boundary off Boult before being put down by Luke Ronchi in the same over. In the very next over Boult could not reach a miscued pull shot from Amla! But Amla was bowled off Boult in the 4th over chasing a wide one and dragging it back on to his stumps. South Africa were 21 for 1 in the 4th over which soon became 31 for 2 in the 8th as De Kock swung wildly and gave a catch to third man, Boult picking up his second.

Faf Du Plessis, the man who was at the center in 2011, was battling against Boult and Matt Henry. He was having a tough time but he soaked up all that was being thrown at him. Giving him company was the young Rilee Rossouw who, after a slow start was starting to open up a bit. Rossouw hit some beautiful shots straight down the ground. South Africa reached 100 in the 25th over, slow going as the conditions were tough and the Kiwis were throwing themselves in the field. Rossouw was held brilliantly by the hero of their Quarter Final clash Martin Guptill, he flew to his right to grab the ball with just two fingers!!

That brought AB De Villiers to the middle and it was Faf and De Villiers again that had to do the job for the South Africans. Faf was starting to blossom as the sun made an appearance and AB was off the blocks in typical busy manner. AB was dropped by Kane Williamson and Faf hit a big six as the powerplay was taken in the 35th over. Rain arrived with South Africa at 216 for 3 in 38 overs. As the delay got longer with the persisting rain, overs started to get reduced and D/L came in to picture.

The match was reduced to 43 overs a side when play finally began again. Faf Du Plessis was out caught behind, strangled down the leg side soon upon resumption. David Miller, the next man in though got straight in to the act as he started slamming fours and sixes off Anderson and Southee. De Villiers was going about business at the other end as usual. The 50 partnership between these two took just 23 balls and David Miller was out in the last over, he made a vital 49 off just 19 deliveries. Duminy played out the last 4 balls for 8 runs as South Africa made an imposing 281 for 5 off their 43 overs which was propped up give New Zealand a target of 298 to win in their 43 overs!

Brendon McCullum had dismantled the English attack and tore the Australian attack to shreds and he was at work again. He blasted Vernon Philander, his first over costing 18 runs. Dale Steyn was his next target, the South African ace was smacked straight back for a six before being pulled in to the crowd. He was also driven and tucked down to the fine leg, the over going for 25! McCullum brought up his fifty off just 22 balls and New Zealand raced to their fifty in just the 5th over. Martin Guptill, a man fresh from a double ton, was a spectator at the other end!

South Africa needed McCullum fast as the game was quickly slipping away from them and Morne provided a double breakthrough as the Kiwi skipper chipped a catch to Steyn at mid on and then bowled Kane Williamson off a short lifting delivery as New Zealand slipped from 0-71 to 2-81. That brought Taylor to the crease and he along with Guptill went about resurrecting the innings. They were just about getting in a safe zone when a huge mix up saw Martin Guptill being run out. Ross Taylor was guilty of ball watching and New Zealand lost the in form player to a silly run out. Taylor tried to make up for his blemish but was caught by De Kock off the part time spin of Duminy down the leg side.

New Zealand was 149-4 in the 22nd over, still 150 runs adrift from their target. The big hitting Corey Anderson joined forces with Grant Elliot as they slowly but surely kept chipping away at the target. South Africa had a chance to run Anderson out when he was on 33 but a combination of a bad throw and the over excitement of AB meant that South Africa had missed their chance. Both the players completed their respective half centuries and the 100 partnership came up between the two as well. It was their game to lose at that point. But Morkel returned to snaffle Anderson after he had bowled a superb over to him, Du Plessis holding on to a skier. Luke Ronchi came and went as New Zealand were at 269 for six after 40.1 overs.

The old man, Daniel Vettori, no mug with the bat and who has been in the pressure situations for New Zealand since the past 15 years was at the crease now. 29 were needed off 17 balls at this point in time. Pressure, pressure!! Grant Elliot was dropped off the last ball of the 42nd over, JP Duminy flying in to the way of Farhaan Behardien at fine leg. 12 needed of the last over. Vettori on strike. Dale Steyn with the ball in his hand. A bye was stolen off the first ball and a single off the second meant that Vettori was on strike for the 3rd ball. Steyn went down with a calf/ hamstring injury and was tended to by the physio. Vettori squeezed a boundary wide of third man and another bye of the next ball meant that the equation was now 5 from 2 balls. New Zealand needed to tie this game to advance but Elliot, just as Kane Williamson had done against Australia at this very ground, calmly hit Steyn for a six to spark wild scenes at the Eden Park.

Grant Elliot lets his emotions out after dispatching the penultimate ball of the match
for a six off Dale Steyn that sealed the match

Elliot let out a guttural roar but was the first to give Steyn a hand as he lay slump on the pitch after conceding that six. Faf fell to his knees at short mid wicket and De Villiers could not believe it. The Kiwi players were hugging each other and rushing out on the outfield. Morne Morkel was a picture of despair as he cried inconsolably. David Miller and AB De Villiers had red eyes too. Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum sported huge smiles. Daniel Vettori was emotionless as always. The fireworks lit up the Eden Park and the rest of New Zealand but the spark and the fire that the match had provided would remain lit in the hearts of the cricket fans for years to come. South Africa had not chocked this time around and they can hold their heads high as they gave everything they had to win this game. It was just that New Zealand were better on the given day.

This was a match that had everything, brilliant swing bowling, batting under pressure, dazzling fielding, sloppy fielding, clean ball striking, menacing bowling, calmness under pressure, joy and pain, sadness and anguish and a gut wrenching and a stomach churning finish. The atmosphere at the ground was electric; I wish I could one day witness such a game live at the stadium. New Zealand awaits the winners of the Australia-India clash as they pack their bags for Melbourne!

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

Naashta With Guptaji's Family! Who's coming along?

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last,
"What's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.”

Well, I am someone who just loves to have a good breakfast; I can safely say that they are my unsurpassed choice of meals. Breakfasts are more or less like a morning ritual for me. A good breakfast means that I start my day on a high and that leaves me energized and makes me feel excellent about the whole day. My mood tends to be scrawny and sometimes awful if I do not eat well in the morning! I especially love my breakfasts on the weekends, they give me a chance to sit with my family as we laugh and talk about the week gone by and discuss about the upcoming week. Talking with your family over a good breakfast, well what better way to start your day!!

But sometimes these breakfasts can get a bit dull and boring. I mean what new can one have for a breakfast each day? Eating the same thing over and over again, each day, that too in the morning can get monotonous. This search for something new and delicious often pushes one towards unhealthy breakfast, breakfast that may taste just fine but does a lot more harm to your body than any real good. It is necessary to have a healthy breakfast in the morning, a breakfast that will fill your tummy and also your mind and soul. The food should be such that you should feel energized and nourished which get you up and about for a tough day ahead, not heavy and fast food which will leave you drowsy and sick.

Being such a huge foodie, when I heard of the large array of breakfasts that the Gupta Ji Family has in the offing, I just could not resist myself! You have to visit this facebook and youtube of theirs - https://www.facebook.com/anaajkanashta / https://www.youtube.com/user/kelloggindia to know what I am going on about!

I found many great recipes there which got my taste buds all excited. I love fruits and I found breakfast that uses some of my favorites, Strawberries, Bananas, Kelloggs and Sitaphals! Who would not be tempted to visit their house when they are ready to offer Strawberry Strawberry Banana Cornflakes, Sitaphal Cornflakes, and Walnut Cornflakes Chocolate Balls in breakfast? I am just waiting for the upcoming Sunday when I will be visiting their home to try these out and also a lot more of the good stuff!! It will be surely an epic nashta and one that I will remember for a long time, which I am sure of!

So all those who have never loved the concept of starting their day with a nice quick bite, do start this morning ritual and you will never be the same again. Start your mornings with a joyful laugh, a hearty breakfast with your near and dear ones and watch your whole day go well!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

New Zealand and South Africa to Clash for a Place in the 2015 World Cup Final

Semi Final 1: New Zealand vs South Africa at Eden Park, Auckland on 24th March 2015 – Match Preview

This is the battle between two teams that are itching to play in their first Finals of the ODI World Cup, ever! This will to be an epic between two sides that are the best fielding sides in this tournament, two teams which have lacked the killer instinct and the mental toughness to get past this stage. One of them will certainly go a step further and the other will be, once again, left to lick their wounds and think of what could have been and then endure a long wait of another 4 years to get a shot at redemption!

New Zealand have been bolstered by the return to form of Martin Guptill who scored a magnificent 237* in the Quarter Final against a hapless West Indies. Brendon McCullum made it amply clear at the end of the last match that he had the license to go for the kill from ball one. Kane Williamson has been the most consistent batsman for the Kiwis since the past 2 years but he has not yet made a mark in the World Cup yet, so I believe that he is due a big score soon.

Ross Taylor has not been at his fluent best but he has fought out manly in the middle. He made a fighting 50 against Bangladesh and was in the middle for around 60 balls against the Windies. Grant Elliot has made vital contributions down the order with the bat and Corey Anderson remains the single biggest threat in the slog overs. Luke Ronchi has not had much to do as the top order has done the job on most occasions but the Proteas will be vary of the destructive powers that the Kiwi wicketkeeper possesses.

The New Zealand Team seem to be enjoying every bit of their cricket right now! 
They play against the South Africans in teh first Semi Final at Auckland

The South African top order was also given a boost when the under performing Quinton De Kock made a rapid half century in the low chase against the Sri Lankans in the Quarter Finals at SCG. With Faf Du Plessis fit and in form coming in at number 3 and Hashim Amla also in decent form at the top, the top 3 of the South Africans form a formidable trio. If the bowlers get past them as Zimbabwe did, then you will encounter the superman AB De Villiers, currently in the fourth place of the highest run scorers of the World Cup but he has made runs at an astonishing strike rate of almost 150!

David Miller and JP Duminy are also lurking down the order ready to pounce on any opportunity and pose a viable threat to potentially undo any good work that the opposition bowlers may have done up until that point.

The Kiwi new bowling pair is probably the best in the world at the moment with Trent Boult doing as he pleases with the ball and Tim Southee also capable of making the ball talk and the batsmen dance to his tunes. The left-right hand combination is a deadly one and batsmen have found it almost impossible to cope with the offerings of this duo.

The old man Daniel Vettori has mesmerized batsmen with variations in his flight, subtle changes in his pace and the little hint of spin. He has choked the batsmen in the mid overs while also picking up wickets as the batsmen have felt suffocated and tried to hit out. Adam Milne will provide the extra speed as he is capable of touching the 150 kmph mark regularly and McCullum generally uses him in short bursts to ruffle the batsmen. Corey Anderson and Grant Elliot with complete the 5th bowlers quota and the South Africans can target these two as they are definitely easier to get runs off!

The Proteas also have a potent fast bowling concoction and the emergence of the young Kyle Abbot has provided great support to Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel who comes in as first change. Steyn got the fire back in the last match and Morne was disconcerting with his extra bounce. Kyle Abbot did not afford the luxury of width to the Lankans and will be useful against a rampaging MCCullum!

South Africa were always lacking when it came to spin but Imran Tahir has provided them with an attacking option in the middle overs. His variations have been hard to decipher and he has largely been disciplined and not bowled too short or the rank full tosses that he generally used to. The fifth bowler is something that the opposition teams look at but JP Duminy took a hat trick against the Sri Lankans although I do not think that the Eden Park pitch will be to his liking at all!

Key Battles - Semi Final 1: New Zealand vs South Africa

Trent Boult and Tim Southee vs Hashim Amla and Faf Du Plessis

Dale Steyn vs Brendon McCullum

Daniel Vettori vs AB De Villiers

Kane Williamson vs Imran Tahir

Corey Anderson vs David Miller

These two played a cracker of a match 4 years ago in Bangladesh during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. All that could go wrong for the South Africans went wrong for them. A young Faf ran out AB De Villiers and then got in to a slug fight with the New Zealanders. The Kiwi spinners had on that occasion strangulated the Protea chase and their fielders appeared to have wings! That match remains one of the best knockout match that I have witnessed in ODI World Cup history. I just hope that the Semi Final will provide us all with a match that will make us forget that match!! I am hoping for a high octane, adrenaline pumping match, a match laced with pressure and nerves and apprehensions. A match that is worthy of being called a Semi Final!! Game On!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Semi Final Line Ups and Final Predictions

So all the 4 Quarter Final matches of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 have been played and the Semi Finalists have been short-listed. The Predictions that I had made regarding who will make the Semi Finals has proven to be almost correct! I had predicted – 

Semi Final 1: Sri Lanka vs New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland on 24th March 2015

Semi Final 2: India vs Australia at SCG, Sydney on 26th March 2015

It is just Sri Lanka that has missed out and South Africa has taken their place.

Here is a small post looking ahead to the Semi Finals and my predictions for the Finals.

Semi Final Predictions:

Semi Final 1: South Africa vs New Zealand at Eden park, Auckland on 24th March 2015

South Africa broke their knockout hoodoo in their last match against Sri Lanka. New Zealand are a team that has never been in the Finals either, they have bowed out at the Semi Final stage on a number of occasions! Their epic Quarter Final clash in Bangladesh during the 2011 World Cup is still fresh in my mind and I look forward to another blockbuster!

Semi Final 2: India vs Australia at SCG, Sydney on 26th March 2015

India has gathered steam in this World Cup and their machinery is chugging along quite nicely. Their bowling has stood up and the fielding has improved. Batting was never a problem and that has blossomed too. Australia is a special team with a pretty daunting line up and they will have the home support at SCG. It will be the clash of the titans as India go head to head with the Australians.

Final Predictions:

ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Final: India vs New Zealand at MCG, Melbourne on 29th March 2015

I so want to see India in the Final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 but I do not think that India has the fire power or the artillery to win against the Australians. I will want India to win the World Cup in Melbourne but if they do not make it, then my second favorite team is New Zealand!!

This post is just a teaser. I will do the full Previews/ Reviews of both the Semi Finals/ Finals so stay tuned!!

What are your predictions on the big matches coming up?

Little Things that Make Me Happy!

I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, 
a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else - 
Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

Happiness is indeed a very personal thing, something that depends utterly on our own selves. We are the masters of our own joys and what may provide us with happiness may be the transmitter of sadness for someone else. We may possess all the riches of this world, we may have name and fame that is spread far and wide but if we are not happy, and I do not mean an exterior show of happiness, then all the money, the name and the fame are pretty much futile.

If I had to modify the above quote tailored for me it would be something like this:

I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: witnessing a stunning sunrise, 
a day spent with friends, a bit of gardening, watching a cricket match lazing on the couch and then blogging about it, spending time with the family, the sound of the sea. Nothing else – DS

Some things that make me happy are:

Watching a Sunrise!!

I am a huge lover of nature and I will do anything to watch a dazzling sunrise. I have woken up at 5 and been on the terrace waiting for the sunrise in the chilly December months. Oh! What joy it is to see the mist slowly rise up and the sun break through the clouds amidst crazy colors that are spread across the huge canvas by God! I also love watching the stars in the night and have spent hours staring at the dark black sky just lost watching them twinkle in the sky.

Watching a Cricket Match!

I am a huge Cricket buff and will do anything to watch a match. I have missed college exams just to sit in the hostel mess and enjoy the match with a bunch of friends, I have taken holidays from my job to watch cricket and like many cricket fans I always have a cricket website open in office or while I am blogging at home.


My love for Cricket, when combined for my love for blogging is pretty much unparalleled! It gives me immense joy and happiness to first do the analysis of an upcoming match and then see how it all unfolds and finally blog about the whole affair. With the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 going on, I have already written almost 70 comprehensive articles on cricket in 45 days and am still going strong!

Reading a Book!

How nice it would be to just spend your day cuddled up in a warm blanket and read your favorite book? I love reading and the characters come alive when I read, I usually become so engrossed in the book that the boundaries between reality and fiction often dissipate into thin air!

Spending Quality Time with Family and Friends!!

I love it when I am at home, spending time with my parents and my sister. Family is something that stands by you in all situations, they are the pillar of strength and the source of inspiration in most of the things that we do and their happiness is the single biggest source of happiness for me. I did my engineering living in a hostel and made some great friends, they are like a second family to me. I love talking to them or going out with them, we talk about anything and everything, share things with each other and seek opinions from each other. Those hostel memories mean a lot to me and bring a smile to my face even on a tough day!

There are so many little things that give us happiness, that bring a smile to our lips, that brighten our day and which give us the strength and vigor to face the world. It is we who must seek our own happiness because it is we who control that and no one else. So, go find your happiness, find what makes you tick and do tell me what makes you smile!!

This post is written for Coca-Cola

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Top 5 Run Scorers and Wicket Takers Till The Quarter Finals - ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

Let us see who are the Top 5 Batsmen who have plundered the most Runs and the Top 5 Bowlers who have snared the most Wickets up until the Quarter Final Matches:
Matches Played
Runs Scored
Strike Rate
100’s/ 50’s
Kumar Sangakkara
Sri Lanka
4/ 0
Martin Guptill
New Zealand
2/ 1
Brendan Taylor
2/ 1
AB De Villiers
South Africa
1/ 2
Tillakaratne Dilshan
Sri Lanka
2/ 1
Matches Played
Wickets Taken
Economy Rate
5 Fers
Trent Boult
New Zealand
Mitchell Starc
Mohammad Shami
Jerome Taylor
West Indies
Wahab Riaz