Sunday, January 31, 2016

Kohli, Rohit and Raina help India Whitewash Australia 3-0 in the T20I Series

India had already won the three match T20I series after winning the first match by 37 runs at the Adelaide Oval and then defeating the Australians by 23 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground but it was Australia who were ringing in the chances to their team in the dead rubber at the Sydney Cricket Ground with as many as 5 changes from the last match.

Shane Watson, debutant captain for Australia in the T20 format won the toss and decided that they will bat first. Cameron Bancroft and Khawaja, debutants both, replaced Wade and the injured Finch respectively while Tait, Boyce and Head came in for Hastings, Lyon and Faulkner.

Khawaja opened the innings with Shane Watson as Marsh was bunted down the order. He hit a couple of good boundaries but got out to Nehra for 14 off 6 balls. Watson was just 1 off 7 balls but he and Australia both were up and running after a couple of ordinary overs from Nehra and Bumrah shifted the momentum. Australia were 57-1 after the power-play overs.

In the eighth over Ashwin got Marsh clean bowled as he went for a wild slog and departed for a scratchy 9 off 12 balls. Maxwell came out and Dhoni handed the ball to Yuvraj, who had got his wicket in the last game as well, and he got him again off the very first ball. Australia were 80-3 after 10 overs and were again losing their way to the spinners like in the first two matches.

Kohli dropped Watson off Pandya when Watson was on 56 and it was going to be a very costly error. Head was getting in his groove as he slammed Yuvi for a six over mid-wicket and then dragged the ball from way outside off to leg to slam a boundary. By this time Watson was in his elements and his high impact batting was making the Indian spinners look ordinary. He completed his hundred off just 60 balls in the 17th over. Australia finished on 197-5 in their 20 overs with Watson remaining unbeaten on 124 off 71 balls. It was the highest score in T20I's by a captain.

India were 18-0 after two overs but it was in the third bowled by Tait that the Indians got the big push towards the huge target. Tait went for 24 as Dhawan laid into him hitting him for a couple of fours and a six. India were up and running and though Watson got Dhawan out caught behind for 26 in the very next over, India were almost 50 in just the 4th over. Kohli joined Rohit and the pair have already tormented the Aussies enough in this tour were at it again. The Fantastico Rohit reached his 50 off just 35 balls but was caught by Watson off Boyce who was in the middle of a good spell. Debutant keeper Bancroft missed the stumping of Raina in the same over while he was still on nought and Raina rubbed in some salt by slogging a six over long on the next ball. Boyce got Kohli in his next over but not before Kohli had reached another 50.

The required run rate was slowly going up and Yuvraj was struggling to lay bat on ball in an innings reminiscent of his 11 off 21 balls in the WT20 final he made against Sri Lanka in 2014. But Raina was still getting the runs at a fair clip and he kept India in the hunt with India requiring 17 off the last over to win the match. Yuvraj was 5 off 9 balls at that point and he would be facing the first ball of the final over. Yuvraj slammed the first ball for a boundary and then going deep in his crease flicked the next for a six to get India right back in it. Raina hit a boundary of the last ball to seal the match in India's favour by 7 wickets.

It was a great comeback by India after going down 1-4 to Australia in the ODI's.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Sri lanka, Pakistan Enter the Quarter Finals of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup

Pakistan and Sri Lanka from Group B cruised through to the Quarter-Finals of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup being played in Bangladesh.

Pakistan U19s defeat Canada U19s by 7 wickets

Canada won the toss and elected to bat first and they had a steady, if not a spectacular start. Their opener Bhavindu Adhihetty added 60 for the second wicket with Amish Taploo and then had a stand of 49 with his skipper Abraash Khan. Things were looking bright for Canada as they were 139-5 in the 39th over but their lower middle order could not keep up and crashed to give two run-outs to the Pakistan side. They were all out in the 49th over for just 178. Left arm spinner Hasan Khan claimed 3 for 36 in his 10 overs while leg break bowler Shadab Khan snaffled two for 44 off his 10.

In reply to Canada's 178, Pakistan started off well with an opening partnership of 51 between Openers Zeeshan Malik and Gauhar Hafeez. Zen had another huge partnership of 108 runs with Saif Badar for the third wicket. Zeeshan remained unbeaten scoring a valuable match winning innings of 89 off 122 balls which included nine boundaries and a six. The win propelled Pakistan to the Quarter Finals after they had also won their opening game against Afghanistan.

Sri Lanka U19s defeat Afghanistan U19s by 33 runs

Sri Lanka U19 faced Afghanistan U19 at Sylhet and their captain Charith Asalanka won the toss and decided to bat first. The Sri Lankan openers provided a steady start and looked to be set before losing their way to go from 48-0 in the ninth over to 96-5 in the twenty seventh. Sri Lanka was given a close shave by the Afghans at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 held in Australia and their U19 team was repeating the dose. But the Lankan skipper, who has been in Fantastico form lately, had other ideas. He batted superbly to score a fighting 71 off 91 balls with 8 boundaries and a six. Sri Lanka again lost their way towards the end to finish with a below par 184 all out in the 48th over. For Afghanistan, off spinner Shamsurrahman picked up 3 wickets in his 10 overs while giving away only 18 runs in the process.

Afghanistan were well placed at 51-1 in the 15th over but like Sri Lanka they lost their way to slump to 91-6 in the 31st over. Lower order batsman Waheedullah Shafaq cracked a run a ball 47 but it was too little too late. Afghanistan were bowled out for 151 in the 45th over. Charith Asalanka chipped in with two wickets in his six overs while Kamindu Mendis picked up three thus making sure that the Sri Lankans booked their ticket to the Quarter Finals of the world event.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

India, Nepal Enter the Quarter Finals of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup

India and Nepal from Group D progressed through to the Quarter-Finals of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2016 being played in Bangladesh.

Nepal U19s defeat Ireland U19s by 8 wickets

Ireland won the toss and elected to bat first but struggled against a disciplined Nepal attack. They lost both their openers by the 18th over with the score on 42. Sandeep Lamichhane, a right arm leg break bowler then proceeded to wreak havoc on the Irish U19 side with his spin bowling.

He first dismissed Gary McClintock in the 23rd over and then returned to claim a hat trick in the 32nd over of the Irish innings when he had Lorcan Tucker caught at mid-wicket off the fourth ball, Adam Dennison caught behind off the fifth ball and then clean bowled Fiachra Tucker to secure his hat-trick and sparked wild celebrations.

Ireland were reeling at 92-8 in the 39th over but a 30 by Harry Tector carried them to 131 in their allocated 50 overs. Lamichhane returned with stunning figures of 5-27 off his 10 overs while all-rounder Dipendra Singh Airee claimed 2-18 in his 7 overs.

Nepal lost their opener Sandeep Sunar off the very first ball of the chase but Yogendra Singh Karki’s unbeaten 61 and his partnerships of 55 with Sunil Dhamala and 77 with Aarif Sheikh sealed the match for Nepal in the 26th over.

India U19s defeat New Zealand U19s by 120 runs

New Zealand won the toss and inexplicably sent in India to bat first on a pitch that was expected to get more difficult bat on. India slipped to 19-2 in the 6th over and the going was slow for India but Rishabh Pant and Sarfaraz Khan stabilised the innings with fluent half centuries. Pant fell for 57 in the 27th over but Sarfaraz carried on with Armaan Jaffer. Sarfaraz made a very good 74 off just 80 balls before he fell playing a cute shot.

India slipped to 165-5 but sensible batting by Armaan Jaffer and Mahipal Lomror took India to 258 off their 50 overs. Armaan and Lomror made 46 and 45 respectively. For the Kiwis Zak Gibson snared three wickets in his 10 overs.

New Zealand had a horrid start to their innings as fast bowler Avesh Khan doomed the Kiwi top order with his high impact bowling as he snared their top 4 to leave New Zealand tottering at 16-4 in the 11th over. There was no way that the Indian team could have lost the match after the dream start and they soon slumped to 88-8. They would get bowled out for just 138 in the 32nd over to crash out of the U19 World Cup. Mahipal Lormor scalped 5 wickets in his 7.3 overs while giving away 47 runs while Avesh took 4 for 32 in his 10 in the process hurtling India through to the Quarter Finals.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

4 Fantastico Battles that could impact the 3rd T20I between India and Australia at SCG

India are 2-0 up against the Australians after winning the first T20I at Adelaide by 37 runs and then handing out a 23 run trashing to them at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the second T20I. We have seen some Fantastico battles in both these games and we will certainly see some more fascinating clashes in the last game in the third and final T20I to be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Let us have a look at 4 Fantastico Battles that might have an impact on the overall game.

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan Vs Shaun Tait

Shaun Tait was recalled for this T20I series after a few good performances in the BBL05 but after getting smacked for 45 runs in the first match, he was dropped. He still retained his pace and was getting some nice away shape on the ball in that match. With Kane Richardson not available for this match Tait might get another chance and how he goes against the in-form Rohit and Dhawan might seal the fate of the match as well as the future of Tait in international cricket.

Virat Kohli Vs James Faulkner and Shane Watson

None of the Aussie bowlers have had any kind of impact on Kohli and the form that he is in at the moment indicates that the trend is set to continue. Australia will look to Faulkner and Watson, perhaps their best bowlers in the absence of several leading players, to provide them with some control in the middle of the innings and take Kohli out of the equation early for Australia to have any chance of winning the dead rubber.

Shaun Marsh Vs Ashish Nehra

In the absence of Warner and Finch, Shaun Marsh will have the added responsibility of being a mentor to other players in addition to providing a quick start. He is well acquainted to the Indian bowlers having been a regular in the IPL and he need to step up against the wily old customer in Ashish Nehra to provide Australia a sound beginning.

Glenn Maxwell and Usman Khawaja Vs Indian Spinners

The Indian spinners have dominated the Australian middle order and their stranglehold in the central part of the innings has meant that the Australians have never flourished. Glenn Maxwell returned in the 2nd T20I after an injury but he fell to the spin of Yuvraj Singh. He is a very good player of spin and his highly unorthodox stroke play has the potential to disrupt the line and length of any spinner in the world. Usman Khawaja, on the other hand, has been banging on the doors of the Australian selectors in the recent past. He has bulldozed his way in to this Aussie team with a weight of runs behind him, his last 8 visits to the batting crease have seen scores of 70, 104*, 62, 144, 56, 109*, 121, 174. He is a very efficient player of spin and he and Maxwell must counter the spin of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja for Australia to have any chance of avoiding a white-wash.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

India Eye Rare Aussie Whitewash at the Sydney Cricket Ground

India Vs Australia - 3rd T20I, Sydney Cricket Ground - Match Preview

Just over a week ago, Australia and India travelled to Sydney for the last match of the 5 match ODI series with the Indian team in complete disarray and the Australians dominating them in all departments. How long a week can be and how a change in the format can affect a team’s fortune is glaring as both the teams have travelled to Sydney again with Australia this time looking to avoid the ignominy of a clean sweep in the T20 format of the game.

Giving more priority to the ODI series against their trans-tasman rivals which is set to begin next week they have already sent several players there for preparation, Warner and Smith being the biggest names. With Finch injuring his hamstring in the 2nd T20I at the MCG and unavailable for the third T20I, Australia are suddenly without three players who would be in their starting line up under normal circumstances.

The captaincy has been handed over to the experienced Shane Watson who himself is just making a comeback to the team. Usman Khawaja has finally been named in the team after making a mountain of runs in all formats in domestic cricket. He might still be unlucky to miss out if Australia decide to play Travis Head instead. Australia might need something special from Maxwell if they have to make an impact in this game.

Wade has also been relieved to prepare for the New Zealand ODI's and Cameron Bancroft might make his T20I debut in his place. Nathan Lyon was expected to audition for the lead spinner’s role for the WT20 2016 but has this far bowled only one over for 15 runs. Tait might again get a look in after being dropped in the last game.

India on the other hand have been as clinical as they could have expected to be after the ODI trashing. Their spinners are controlling the middle overs, something which Dhoni loves and India are suddenly playing well and delivering wins. The fielding is athletic, exceptional at times with blinders being pulled off, run outs being affected. Bumrah has been the most impressive and he is the leading wicket-taker with 5 wickets in the two matches.

Indian batting, their strongest suit, meanwhile is purring with the usual fanfare and efficiency. Rohit has provided attractive starts and Dhawan followed up in the last game with a decent score after failing in the first T20. Kohli is on the top of his game having won back to back man of the match awards for his superlative efforts with the bat. Yuvraj has not been needed with the bat thus far and Dhoni might push him up the order to see how he goes.

All in all, this promises to be a Fantastico battle between these two teams. Australia will look to avoid the white-wash and India will look to head home with a 3-0 series win under their belts as they look to host Sri Lanka next.

4 Fantastico Battles to look forward to:

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan Vs Shaun Tait
Virat Kohli Vs James Faulkner and Shane Watson
Shaun Marsh Vs Ashish Nehra
Glenn Maxwell and Usman Khawaja Vs Indian Spinners

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Impact of West Indies Bowling in the WT20 2016, India

Any international cricket match is often won on the back of a good bowling performance and West Indies have a unique assortment of bowlers with good spinners and a very good fast bowler. They have a spinner who can bowl with the new ball, a mystery spinner who is picked despite being suspended by ICC and a tall left arm spinner in very good form. They also possess all-rounders who are capable of variations in pace which will be a test for the opposition batsmen on the Indian tracks.

Samuel Badree

Samuel Badree is known for his fast leg breaks which usually just skid on to the batsmen off the pitch often hurrying him up to play a stroke. Occasionally slowing the speed down and thus getting some turn, he sows the seeds of doubts in the batsmen’s mind. He specializes in bowling with the new ball and had a very good WT20 in 2014 in Bangladesh. He finished with 11 wickets in just 5 matches at a strike rate of just 10. But what was most remarkable was his Fantastico economy rate which was less than 6 runs to the over. He was the number one bowler in the ICC rankings for T20I’s for quite a while. He picked up 5-22 in his last T20 match in the recently concluded BBL playing for Heats against the Melb Stars.

Impact Rating – 7.5/10

Suleiman Benn

Benn is a slow left arm orthodox spin bowler who gets disconcerting bounce and spin because of his height. Standing at 6’7”, he is probably the tallest spinner in world cricket right now. He has been picked on the back of some very good performances in the Nagico Super50 tournament in the West Indies. He claimed 3 4’fers in the tournament and helped the Barbados team reach the final. His good form means that he can prove to a very sly customer if the Indian pitches offer him some help and if there is uneven bounce then he will become doubly dangerous. I think Benn will play since Narine, who is suspended from bowling in international matches by the ICC, might not be allowed to bowl for the West Indies.

Impact Rating – 7/10

Jerome Taylor

Jerome Taylor is a very talented fast bowler who is currently spearheading the West Indian charge in all the three formats of the game. He can bowl in the range of 140-145 kmph and generally generates good out swing. He is especially effective to the right handers as his stock deliveries leave the batsmen. Although he does not have the same T20 experience as some of his team-mates but he is their best fast bowler at the moment.

Impact Rating – 6/10

West Indies have picked up Sunil Narine in their 15 man squad but I seriously doubt if he will be allowed to bowl. That is why I have not included him in my analysis. Even without him, the West Indians have enough arsenal in their line up to trouble ant batting line up.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Impact of West Indies Middle Order in the WT20 2016, India

The West Indian lower middle order presents a scary proposition to any team that will play against them. There are teams against which if you pick the first two or three wickets cheaply then there are chances that the team might roll over but the real strength of the Windies (I know there is Gayle, but still) lies in the fact that they have 4 very good all-rounders who can win the match for them either with the bat or with the ball on their own.

Dwayne Bravo

Dwayne Bravo is a flamboyant right handed batsman who plays with the typical Caribbean high back lift and flair. He is a cool and calm customer under pressure and can hit the ball long. He has played over 200 T20 matches representing leagues all around the world and has been fairly successful in doing so. He was an integral part of the highly successful Chennai team in the IPL and thus has enough knowledge on the Indian conditions. He bowls handy medium pace and relies on clever variations of pace to fool the batsmen and is an extremely athletic fielder.

Impact Rating – 8/10

Darren Sammy

Darren Sammy is the West Indian captain and it was under his inspirational and stirring captaincy that the Windies the ICC WT20 in 2012 defeating Sri Lanka at a packed Premadasa stadium in Colombo. He can be a very dangerous customer with the bat but usually lacks the consistency that is required of a good player. He can also bowl seam up and like Bravo is a very good exponent of the changes in pace.

Impact Rating – 7/10

Kieron Pollard

Pollard is a strongly built Trinidadian who shot in to limelight by playing eye catching knocks for the Trinidad and Tobago team in the Champions League T20 played in India way back in 2009. He was contracted by the Mumbai Indians shortly after that and he has been a vital cog in the success that the Mumbai team have tasted in the IPL. He has played 299 T20 matches and has scored nearly 6000 runs at an average of 32 and a strike rate of over 150. He also has 214 wickets at a strike rate of 17. Like all Caribbean cricketers he too is naturally athletic and is known for his stunning fielding skills.

Impact Rating – 7.5/10

Andre Russel

A strongly built Jamaican, he is a fast bowling all-rounder with the ability to smash the ball long and hard. He is one of the cleanest strikers of the ball and his most favoured area is straight down the ground. His extra pace will certainly hurry the batsmen up and he has the ability to snatch matches which seem like a lost cause with his batting. He has a mind boggling strike rate of 170 in 178 T20 matches which depicts how dangerous a customer he can be. Like Dwayne and Pollard he is an outstanding fielder anywhere in the field.

Impact Rating – 7.5/10

The West Indian quartet of all-rounders have the ability to single-handedly change the course of any match with their Fantastico skills and I am sure that they will certainly have a huge impact on the West Indian fortunes in the WT20 in India.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Impact of West Indies Opening Batsmen in the WT20 2016, India

West Indies cricket seems to be a pale shadow of what they were in the 1970’s through to 1990’s but in the shortest format of the game they still remain a viable threat and their assortment of strongly built players capable of big hits present a very difficult challenge to any team looking to contain them. They will be especially reliant on their openers who are well versed with the Indian conditions and who will look to set the tone early for the Windies.

Chris Gayle

Christopher Henry Gayle is probably the most destructive batsman of the modern era. He is tall and strongly built and there is no holding back when he hits the ball. He has the ability to hit huge sixes and on the small Indian grounds he will be the biggest threat that any opposition team will face while up against the West Indies team. His familiarity with the Indian grounds and conditions will also keep him in good stead.

Chris has had a stellar run in the IPL, making over 3000 runs in just 80 odd matches. He has murdered every bowling attack in the world and has played in almost every T20 tournament all across the globe. He is vastly experienced campaigner and when on song he is a joy to watch.

Gayle is also a very handy right arm off break bowler though his shoulder injuries allow him to roll his arm over rarely these days. He is a very safe catcher in the slips and a good fielder in the inner circle.

Impact Rating – 9/10

Lendl Simmons

Lendl Simmons might not be as destructive as his opening partner Gayle but he is mighty effective in the shortest format of the game. He first represented the West Indies in the ICC U19 World Cups in 2002 and 2004. Although he has failed to live up to his true potential since then but he was their best batsman in the ICC World Cup 2015.

He has also played for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL since the last two years as an opener and tasted success. He has over 900 runs to his credit in just 21 matches at a Fantastico average of almost 50 and a decent strike rate of 127. Like Gayle his familiarity with the Indian conditions makes him a very important unit of this team. He had a mixed run in the recently concluded BBL where he made 3 ducks but also made some good contributions.

He is also a very good fielder known for his acrobatic catching skills and can also keep wickets if needed.

Impact Rating – 8/10

The West Indian openers are right up there with any other opening combination in world cricket right now as far as T20 cricket is concerned. Having plied their trades in all the T20 leagues across the world, they are a master-class in this format. The 15 man squad also includes Andre Fletcher who can also slot in as an opener if required.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

West Indies 15 Men Strong Squad for ICC WT20 2016 Announced

West Indies have announced a strong 15 men squad who will represent them at the upcoming ICC World T20 event in India in March-April later this year. The squad includes 11 players who were a part of their Fantastico victorious campaign way back in 2012 in Sri Lanka.

The squad will be led by the hard hitting all-rounder Darren Sammy under whom the team won in Sri Lanka as well. The four new comers include the current test and ODI captain Jason Holder, hard hitting opening batsman Andre Fletcher (he can be a backup wicket keeper as well), slow left arm spinner Suleiman Benn and their current pace bowling spearhead Jerome Taylor.

There are no new faces in the squad but there is plenty to talk about regarding this selection. Mystery spinner Sunil Narine has been picked after he was suspended from bowling in international cricket last November after being reported in Sri Lanka during an ODI last year. In case Narine does not play West Indies have Samuel Badree and Suleiman Benn who can be threatening and dangerous spinners, the former with his variations and the later with his height.

Super talented all-rounder’s and impact players Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard have also been picked after they were controversially snubbed by the West Indies for the ICC World Cup 2015 in Australia. They will lend solidity to the lower middle order and along with Sammy provide big hitting options down the order. All three can also bowl medium pace bowling and with their changes of pace and clever variations they can prove handful customers on the Indian tracks.

Lendl Simmons and Chris Gayle have plenty of experience of Indian tracks having excelled in the IPL for Mumbai Indians and Bangalore Royal Challengers respectively. They will be looking to emulate their success for the West Indies.

The hero of their 2012 campaign Marlon Samuels also finds a place in this strong squad despite being going through a horror run of form recently in all forms of the game. Denesh Ramdin will keep wickets and Darren Bravo is also picked after his superlative efforts in Australia.

I believe that the men the West Indian selectors have picked to represent them in the ICC World T20 is a very strong one. They have all the ingredients to set the stage alight and have match winners right through their line-up. They might have slacked off in test match cricket but remain a big threat in T20I’s and if this West Indian team gets on a roll then it will be nigh on impossible to stop their juggernaut.

The West Indies squad is given below:
Darren Sammy (capt), Samuel Badree, Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Jerome Taylor

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Captain Fantastico McCullum Returns for the 3rd ODI against Pakistan

Pakistan Vs New Zealand - 3rd ODI, Eden Park, Auckland - Match Preview

Pakistan will clash with New Zealand in the third and the final ODI of the 3 match series which they lead 1-0. The match will be played at Eden Park, Auckland which is known for its short boundaries. But the short boundaries are often like a mirage and the scores have not been that high at the venue in recent times. Australia was dismissed for just 151 here which the Kiwis chased down only just and won by one wicket in the ICC World Cup 2015 while Pakistan defended 222 successfully against South Africa.

For New Zealand their talismanic and captain Fantastico, Brendon McCullum returns to the side after having missed the T20I and the ODI series till now. He is fit now after he had aggravated a back injury after slamming into the advertising hoardings during one of his superlative dives to save a boundary during the Sri Lanka series.

But on the other hand Martin Guptill might miss out after he rolled over his ankle during training. The Kiwi top order capitulated to 99-6 in the first ODI and they will look to make a more meaningful contribution this time around and leave it to the lower order to salvage the match for them. Kane Williamson, Grant Elliot and Corey Anderson all failed in the first match and will be eager to get a good score under their belt before the tough Australia series begins next week.

Far bowler Mitch McClenaghan will miss out after a short delivery from Anwar Ali had gone in through the grill and stuck him just above the left eye. Fast bowler Adam Milne might replace him in all probability. Trent Boult and Matt Henry will be the other fast bowlers for New Zealand.

Pakistan top order started extremely slowly in the first match and that played a big part in the middle order being under the escalating required run rate pressure all the time. Azhar Ali and Ahmed Shehzad have to ensure that they give a good start by scoring runs quickly and not lose early wickets. Babar Azam played a very mature innings of 62 off 76 balls and played confidently on a quick pitch. Pakistan might consider moving Sarfaraz up the order so that he is not stranded with the bowlers. Shoaib Malik might also return which will definitely provide solidity to the Pakistani middle order.

Irfan, Aamir, Anwar Ali and Wahab Riaz all bowled very well to reduce the Kiwis to 99-6 but they took their foot off the pedal which allowed New Zealand to stage a recovery. The Pakistani fast bowlers will be looking to make amends and their battle with the returning McCullum will especially be a fascinating one to watch.

The match promises to make for compelling viewing as both Pakistan and New Zealand will look to go hard at each other. New Zealand will want to win and continue their stellar unbeaten home record intact. Pakistan will want to leave the country on a high after securing a win and drawing the ODI series.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Friday, January 29, 2016

India Humble Australia by 23 Runs at MCG, Take T20I Series 2-0

A Fantastico result for Team India as they trounce Australia at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground in the second T20I by 23 runs and clinch the three match series 2-0 with one to play.

Australian captain Aaron Finch won the toss and elected to bowl first. Australia handed debut's to as many as three players, Nathan Lyon, Andrew Tye and Scott Boland. Maxwell and Shaun Marsh also came in for Warner and Smith. India were unchanged.

India got off to a steady start by scoring 12 runs off the first three overs but then got into over-drive as 17 and 15 runs were scored in the 4th and 5th over bowled by Hastings and Faulkner respectively. By the 10th over India had raced along to 86 for no loss with both Rohit and Dhawan looking set for a big innings.

Dhawan got out reverse sweeping Maxwell but he had done his job by then. He scored 42 off 32 balls. Kohli came in and continued from where he had left in the last game. He cracked some audacious shots and was motoring along with Rohit. Rohit completed his 50 and was run out for 60 made off 47 balls. Dhoni came in at the fall of the wicket and he too began smashing it from the word go. By the time Dhoni got out in the final over, India were already 181. India would eventually finish on 184 for 3 with Kohli again playing a high impact innings off 60* of just 33 balls.

Australia started the run chase in a hurry as India leaked runs in the early stages. They reached 62-0 after 6 overs when Dhoni decided it was time for some spin.  In the very first over by Jadeja, Dhoni missed a relatively easy stumping chance of Marsh. On the other hand Finch was playing a blinder of an innings as he launched both Jadeja and Ashwin into the stands. He had reached 62 off just 33 balls and Australia were 89-0 off 9 overs.

Marsh got out to Ashwin in the tenth over, Pandya got rid of Lynn in the eleventh and then Yuvraj got the big fish Maxwell in the twelfth. The tide had turned in India's favour. Jadeja took a sensational return catch to dismiss Watson and Finch, who was struggling with a hamstring injury ran himself out in the next over for a well-made 74 off 48 balls. Australia still needed 59 off the last 4 overs and the Indian spinners were not going to let the Aussie lower order score that many. Australia could only muster 157-8 in their allocated 50 overs to hand India the match by 27 runs.

It has been a Fantastico turnaround for the Indian team after they were trounced 1-4 in the ODI series earlier this month. India had earlier won the first T20I by 37 runs at Adelaide. The third match of the series in on Sunday at the Sydney Cricket Ground!

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Bangla Stun Protea, Nepal Sink New Zealand - ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2016

Bangladesh made a winning start to their campaign by defeating South Africa by 43 runs on the opening day of the ICC U19 World Cup. Bangladesh won the toss and elected to bat first on a track that was expected to take turn later on. They rode of a couple of 40's from Pinak Ghosh and Joyraz Shiek while Nazmul Hossain Shanto top scored with 73 off 82 balls and who provided the finishing touches. South African seamer Wiaan Mulder was the pick of the Protea bowler who picked up 3 crucial wickets while giving away only 42 runs in his 9 overs.

South Africa had a disastrous start as they slumped to 60-4 struggling against the spin overdose that the Bangla captain fed them with. Only opener Liam Smith batted with some confidence but he was too slow at the start as South Africa continued losing wickets. Bangla fast bowler Mohammad Saifuddin picked up three wickets while their spinners all strangled South Africa going at less than 4 runs per over. Bangla captain and off break bowler, Mehedi Hasan Miraz was the pick of the Bangladeshi bowling as he picked up 3 wickets in his 9.4 overs. Other Bangladeshi spinners, off break bowler Saeed Sarkar picked up two while slow left arm Saleh Ahmed Shawon picked up two as well. All their spinners went at a run rate of less than 4. The impact that the Bangla spinners had on the South African batting was immeasurable and secured for Bangladesh a famous victory.

On the second day of the ICC U19 World Cup, a peppy Nepal team stunned New Zealand by defeating them at Fatullah by 32 runs. New Zealand won the toss and elected to field first. All the Nepal batsmen made made starts but none of them could carry on to make a big score. Middle order bat Raju Rijul made the highest score of 48. Nepal were propelled towards a relative good score of 238 by an impactful innings by Kushal Bhurtal who smashed a 35 off just 23 balls towards the end of the innings. For the Kiwis Nathan Smith took 3 wickets.

New Zealand team lost regular wickets as medium pace bowler Dipendra Singh Airee snaffled 3 wickets in only 5 overs and off break bowler Prem Tamang took out 2 while giving away just 38 runs in his 10 overs. New Zealand also suffered three run outs which probably proved the most crucial in the final analysis. For them, opener Glenn Phillips top scored with 52 off 68 balls. Dale Phillips made a valiant 41 down the order but could not save New Zealand as they collapsed to 206 all out.

All in all it has been already been Fantastico two days at the ICC Under 19 World Cup which has seen two supposedly weaker teams going on to defeat much stronger nations and I hope to see more in the days to come.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

The Fantastico Indian Cricketer I grew up Adoring - Part III

The Fantastico Indian Cricketer I grew up Adoring - Part III

India has always been blessed with batsmen who were brilliant players of the pads and who possessed supple wrists but the batsman that I'm going to write about in this post was a batting wizard with the bat in hand. Watching him bat was like witnessing a master sculptor create a master-piece from nothing but a slab of stone, it was like watching the Sun rise slowly to dispel the darkness all around with it's brightness, it was like hearing a melody being composed by your favourite composer.

Vangipurapu Venkata Sai Laxman (VVS Laxman)

VVS Laxman was from Hyderabad and just like another man from the same town, former India captain Mohammed Azharuddin, VVS possessed special wrists. Rubbery and extremely supple the work that he put on the ball using those wrists was almost magic. He could put balls pitching miles outside the off stump through the leg side or he could cover drive them or straight drive them as and when he liked. At times it seemed that the impact of ball on bat was happening in extra slow motion while he was batting. It depended on his mood and he could baffle the opposition with his batting.

Laxman made his Test debut in 1996 and was tried as an opener, a position India were desperately looking for someone to fill, but he did nothing spectacular or out of the ordinary. He was dropped around 1999 but he returned to domestic cricket to further home his skills. He returned in 2000 and made a fantastic 167 at Sydney against the Australians. That innings started his long love affair with the men in Baggy Green.

His most memorable performance came in the 2001 test series against the all-conquering Australians who were on a hot winning streak of 16 consecutive test match wins. India, having lost the first test was following on in the second test was staring at yet another defeat but Laxman produced the finest test innings ever played under pressure and combined with Rahul Dravid for an epic partnership of 376 runs. Laxman would score 281 and Dravid 180, India would win the test and the next one as well with Laxman making half centuries in both innings. How he mastered Shane Warne in that series is something is permanently etched in my mind. He would play balls pitching a foot outside leg stump and turning in towards the mid-wicket for boundaries. When Australia placed fielders on the leg side, he would skip down the track and making room slap the ball through through the covers! On a dusty turning track Laxman reduced the best leg spinner the world has ever seen to a mere spectator. After the series, Warne admitted he was clueless as to where to bowl to Laxman.

Laxman would continue to torment the Aussies right throughout his career and seeing the men from down under brought the best out of the soft spoken and humble Indian batsman. He could never cement his place as an ODI batsman though and played only 86 matches.

His end came when India lost 0-4 to England and Australia on consecutive away tours. He could only muster 4 half centuries across those 8 tests. In all he played 134 tests for India and scored over 8700 runs with an average of almost 46. VVS was a very very special player whose fond memories will always continue to find a special place in every fans heart.

The Fantastico Indian Cricketer I grew up Adoring - Part II

The Fantastico Indian Cricketer I grew up adoring - Part II

In this part two of ‘The Fantastico Duo of Indians I grew up adoring’ I will write about a player who with his limited talent and selfless attitude served the Indian cricket for a very long time. It was through his sheer hard work and determination that he found a consistent place in an Indian team that was filled with some big names.

Rahul Dravid

Perhaps the most selfless cricketer to have ever played the game, Rahul Dravid was a thorough gentleman both on and off the field. His debut innings at Lords, where he made a defiant 95 was overshadowed by a more enterprising 131 that Sourav Ganguly (he was also making his debut) hit. The trend would find home on several occasions whence good performances by Rahul went completely unnoticed because some other batsman would have played a better or more scintillating innings then him.

Rahul was known for his classical and simple technique and unending concentration which earned him the nickname ‘The Wall’. Dravid could face any bowler on any wicket and he did not have any glaring weaknesses in his game. If he had, he probably worked hours on it rectifying them. The elegant cover drives and late cuts, the flicks and the straight drives, he was a master of every stroke that a purist hopes to see.

Give a difficult pitch and a difficult situation and Rahul would face it heads on. He produced several impactful test match innings but none greater than his 180 on a difficult Eden Gardens pitch where he forged an epic 376 run partnership with VVS Laxman. India, following on, came back from nowhere and defeated the Australians who were riding high with 16 consecutive test wins. Another memorable knock came at Adelaide in 2003 where he hit a double ton and a half century as India defeated Australia.

He also sacrificed and adjusted himself according to the needs of the Indian cricket team. He donned the gloves during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa to give a better balance to the team. He also opened the batting overseas when India wanted a solid opener. He was often moved around in the batting order so that others could occupy their favoured positions. In his second last tour, when India toured England and failed spectacularly Dravid showed the world just how good he was. He scored over 400 runs in the series which included 3 tons against a very good English attack in helpful conditions.

The fact that he scored over 10000 runs in both test and ODI cricket goes to show what a person who is gritty and honest about his job can achieve. The epitome of hard work, bloody minded determination and selfless attitude – Rahul Dravid is the probably most likable and Fantastico hero that you could come across as a kid.

The Fantastico Indian Cricketer I grew up Adoring - Part I

The Fantastico Indian Cricketer I grew up adoring - Part I

As an Indian several Indian players left a deep impact on me during my growing years. As kids when playing in our neighbourhood, we wanted to play like our famous superstars and imitated their every move. Obviously Sachin was the favourite of everyone but there were a others too who were worth emulating and in this post I will talk about a great leader and a versatile batsman, a man who led India with his heart on his sleeve.

Sourav Ganguly

He made his test debut in 1996 and hit a 100 at Lords to kick start his career. Although he played over 100 tests and scored over 7000 runs his real value came as a captain of the side where, with his dynamic leadership he spurred a team to achieve great feats under him. He was known as Dada (elder brother in Bengali) and he was also known for his off side play which earned him the nickname ‘God of the Off Side’. But he was also known to be very weak against the short rising ball and opposition teams generally used the short ball tactic to silence him.

His greatest feat as a captain came when India faced a rampaging Australian side in 2001 who had won 15 tests on a roll and who defeated India in the first test inside three days. He led India with such energy and vigour that India won the next two tests and stopped the Aussie juggernaut. He also led India with distinction in the ODI’s and was a very aggressive captain. Nobody can forget his shirt swinging while standing on the famed Lords balcony after India chased down a mammoth 325. He led India to the finals of the 2003 World Cup in South Africa where India lost to Australia. He is also credited with mentoring the careers of several young Indian cricketers like Yuvraj, Zaheer and Harbhajan who flowered and flourished during his captaincy.

He is one of the top ODI players in the world having scored over 11000 runs at a very healthy average of over 40. He partnered Sachin Tendulkar at the top and they invariably provided India with a strong start. He could also bowl some handy seam up deliveries and had the knack of picking up wickets at crucial junctures for Team India. His top score of 183 came in the 1999 World Cup in England against Sri Lanka at Taunton.

Later in his career, due poor form and differences with the then coach Greg Chappell led to him being side-lined and eventually being dropped but he made a spectacular comeback to both the test and ODI side. After a disastrous World Cup campaign by India in the West Indies in 2007 his star finally dipped and with the IPL coming in to the picture at around the same time he bade goodbye to international cricket.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Plenty of New Faces in Sri Lanka's Squad for India T20I's

With the ICC World T20 looming on the horizon T20 matches are the flavour of the season for most teams. The Sri Lankan team will play 3 T20I's in India next month as both the teams look to fine tune the loose ends and finalise the final 15 that will represent them in the World Cup.

The Sri Lankan squad for the 3 match series was announced today and it sees some omissions due to injuries and some new faces as well as an old pacer making a comeback.

The Lankan arm spinner and Test captain Angelo Mathews is missing due to a thigh strain, their regular T20 captain misses out due to a knee injury while pacers Kulasekara and Pradeep while ace left arm spinner Rangana Herath also miss out due to injury concerns.

There are plenty of new faces (Dasun Shanaka, Asela Gunaratne, Kasun Rajitha) in the squad for the Lankans who will be hoping to make a big impact and seal a berth for the upcoming global tournament.

Dasun Shanaka is a very big hitter and has scored two centuries in the domestic T20 competition in Sri Lanka this month. He first made 131* in just 48 balls hitting 12 sixes and 10 fours and then followed it up with an equally murderous 123 off just 46 balls hitting 16 sixes along the way which is the joint second highest by any batsman. He has a very impressive strike rate of 172 on T20 matches. He is a very high impact batsman and I am very excited to see how he goes.

Asela Gunaratne is an allrounder who has played 18 T20 matches and has a strike rate of 122. He has been picked on the back of some good performances domestically.

Kasun Rajitha is also a player who has excelled for Sri Lanka at its domestic level recently. He is a peppy right arm medium fast bowler and has a stellar T20 record in which he has played 11 matches and picked up 23 wickets with best figures of 4/20 at an economy rate of under 7 runs per over and a lowly strike rate of 10!!

Danushka Gunathilaka played for the Lankans during their disastrous tour of New Zealand last month and he is an explosive opening batsman who has come in place of Kusal Perera. Gunathilaka played a couple of very good innings in New Zealand and will be a threat on the flat Indian decks.

Comebacks are the flavour of the season, what with Nehra and Tait making a comeback for India and Australia recently for the T20I’s, the Lankan selectors pulled a rabbit out of the hat by recalling the old warhorse Dilhara Fernando. It will be interesting to see if he still has that pace and if his no ball problem still exists.

It will be a very exciting series and I am eagerly looking forward to this series!

The schedule for Sri Lanka’s T20 tour of India is given below:
1st T20I - Pune on February 9
2nd T20I - Delhi on February 12
3rd T20I - Visakhapatnam on February 14

Sri Lanka 15 Man squad for the T20I series in India - Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Seekuge Prasanna, Milinda Siriwardana, Danushka Gunathilaka, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Asela Gunaratne, Chamara Kapugedera, Dushmantha Chameera, Dilhara Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Binura Fernando, Sachithra Senanayake, Jeffrey Vandersay

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

5 Fantastico Battles that could impact the 2nd T20I between India and Australia at MCG

Every big war has some internal smaller battles which decides the way that the whole thing pans out. The second T20I to be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground between India and Australia promises to be a mouth-watering prospect especially after the Indians have gone 1-0 up after defeating Australia at the Adelaide Oval by 37 runs.

Let us have a look at 5 Fantastico Battles that might have an impact on the overall game.

Indian Openers Vs Shaun Tait

Rohit played Tait very well in the first T20I but at the same time he was very lucky to not get out to him as well. Tait looked sharp and his pace was right up there but he missed some of his control. Dhawan will have to support Rohit so that Rohit is not under pressure to go after every delivery. If Rohit and Dhawan can tame Tait again then it will mean that the Indian middle order will have the cushion of runs and wickets in hand to launch a middle over burst.

Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina Vs Shane Watson and James Faulkner

Virat has been in prime form and he handled all the Aussie bowlers quite well during his innings of 90* in the first match. Raina struggled but still managed to make a 40 odd score at better than run a ball. These two will have to handle Watson and Faulkner in the middle overs who are very clever with their changes of pace and variations.

Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni Vs Nathan Lyon

Yuvraj did not bat in the first match and Dhoni came in the last over while Lyon did not play the match. I guess Australia will pick Lyon over Boyce for this match and his battle with Yuvraj and Dhoni will be a fascinating one to watch.

Australian Openers Vs Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah

Warner and Finch started the chase swiftly in the first T20I and the Indian new ball bowlers will need to keep them in check in the initial overs. In the absence of Warner, Watson might open and he is a very powerful batsman as well. They must not bowl short as both these batsmen are strong at the pull and cut. They will have to maintain a good length just around the off stump to keep these aggressive batsmen in check. Bumrah was the pick of the Indian bowlers in the first T20I as he bowled with sharp pace and used his variations cleverly.

Australian Middle Order Vs Indian Spinners

This, in my opinion will be the biggest battle that will have a huge impact on how the game pans out. The Australians will definitely look to attack the Indian spinners and not let them settle into a groove. Maxwell missed the first game due to a hamstring niggle and if he is back then the Indian spinners might face a tougher challenge. Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh are also excellent players of spin bowling and will look to dominate the Indian duo of Jadeja and Ashwin.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

India Vs Australia - Second T20 International, Melbourne Cricket Ground - Match Preview

After a convincing 37 run win over the Australians in the first T20I at Adelaide, the teams will clash again tomorrow in the second of the three match series at the Melbourne cricket ground.

India will be looking to close out the series while Australia will look to keep the series alive going in to the third T20.

Rohit Sharma continued his good ODI form by blasting a quick-fire 30 in the first match. He was the one who took Tait on in the first few overs. Dhawan struggled but we all know how dangerous he can be when in full flow.

Kohli was the lynchpin around whom the whole Indian batting seems to revolve these days and he made an enterprising 90* in the first match. He will be looking to capitalise on his good form down under and continue in the same vein. Australia fielded Boyce over Lyon in the first match and I feel that Lyon will be back in this game for them as Boyce has an average game. Raina struggled for timing and placement but he seemed to be regaining some of his vintage form by the time he got out in the last over.

Dhoni showed glimpses of his old hitting ability when he deposited Faulkner in to the stands off the first ball that he faced. Yuvraj will be looking to get a chance to bat in this ODI as he was not required in the last one.

The Australian openers got Australia off to a quick start and Steve Smith followed it up with a quick innings as well but none of the top three could carry on and make a sizeable total. This hurt them as the new comers Lynn and Head struggled against the Indian spin duo of Ashwin and Jadeja. In the absence of Warner and Smith, who are rested, Shaun Marsh might get a look in.

Watson was playing after a long time in the Aussie shirt and he and Faulkner remain extremely dangerous players down the order. Although chances are there that Watson might shift up the order in the absence of Warner.

Ashish Nehra, making a comeback, started off well and made full use of the chance given to him. Jasprit Bumrah was the bowler who created the most impact as he bowled with good control and hurried the Aussie batsmen even slipping in a couple of deadly yorkers which the Indian bowlers are rarely seen to bowl. Pandya picked up 2 lucky wickets but he lacked control and direction and he will have to improve on his showing.

All in all this promises to be a Fantastico battle between two very good T20 teams. The huge crowd that is expected to fill the MCG will only add to the atmosphere.

Fantastico Battles to Look forward to:

Indian Openers Vs Shaun Tait
Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina Vs James Faulkner
Yuvraj Singh Vs Nathan Lyon
Australian Openers Vs Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah
Australian Middle Order Vs Indian Spinners

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

The Fantastico Duo of Sri Lankans who I grew up Adoring! - Part III

The Fantastico Duo of Sri Lankans who I grew up adoring! - Part III

In this concluding part of ‘The Fantastico Duo of Sri Lankans who I grew up adoring!’ I will enlist a player who is perhaps the best batsman that the island nation has ever produced (though some might have a thing or two to say to that comment) and a batsman who, though very limited in his talent was still a main-stay and a lynchpin of the Lankan middle order right through the 1990’s.

Aravinda De Silva

Aravinda is considered the greatest batsman that the little emerald isle has produced. He produced several savage knocks and left a deep impact on the game, not only in Sri Lanka but across the globe. He was at his very best during the 1996 World Cup and he produced one memorable knock after another. He was known for his cuts and hook shots and he played them with ridiculous ease.

He blazed away to a 47 ball 66 in the Semi Finals against India when Sri Lanka were 1-2 at Eden Gardens before laying in to the Australians to score a match winning innings of 107*. This was after he had a stellar day in the field picking up 3 wickets and 2 catches. He last played for Sri Lanka in the 2003 World Cup and batted with the same verve and audacity that he was known for. Unfortunately he could not produce another match winning innings as Sri Lanka crashed out at the Semi Final stage against Australia.

He was no less of a test player and boasted of several high profile innings both in Sri Lanka and abroad. His highest test score of 267 was scored against New Zealand at Wellington. I also remember that he scored a quick-fire 152 in England that had helped Sri Lanka beat England in England for the first time. He scored a double ton in his last match against Bangladesh. He was also a very reliable fielder and a handy off break bowler who had a golden arm and provided regular breakthroughs whenever required.

Roshan Mahanama

Roshan was an integral part of the Sri Lankan side in the 1990's and though he has only a modest record to show as a batsman he was one of their main strengths in the middle order.

He could stabilise the ship when required and had a good technique. He was also one of the most athletic fielder of that time and I remember seeing him take some great flying catches. He was one of their main pillars during their successful campaign of 1996 World Cup.

Although he averaged less than 30 in both tests and ODI's but I feel that his contribution was much more than what numbers could ever suggest. He was also a great match referee and just retired last year to spend more time with his family.

The Fantastico Duo of Sri Lankans who I grew up adoring! - Part II

The Fantastico Duo of Sri Lankans who I grew up adoring! - Part II

There are cricketers who are naturally gifted and ooze talent from a very young age. Then there are those who are limited in their capability but have that one quality which the gifted players often do not possess. That quality is that of self belief. If you believe in yourself and still be humble then that is a very potent quality. I've always loved the Sri Lankans for their flair and the way that they changed the game was played in the late 1990's. I'll enlist below two cricketers who played a very significant role in the emergence of cricket on the island.

Arjuna Ranatunga

Arjuna started his career in the early 1980's where he played in the first test that Sri Lanka played. He was a decent player who could handle the pressure situations and was unfazed when facing bigger opposition. He could also bowl some handy medium pace which is always an added bonus for any young cricketing nation just trying to find its feet amongst the big boys.

He assumed captaincy as the 1990's approached and his attacking captaincy and innovative ideas led Sri Lanka to their greatest glory when they lifted the 1996 World Cup. It was he who asked his openers to go hammer and tongs in the opening 15 overs while the field was up and it was he who was in the Australian's face not backing down when confronted with sledging. In fact he gave it to them and in his own uncanny way unsettled the Australians with his mastery. Just before the finals he told a jam packed room filled with media that Shane Warne was just an ordinary bowler. That he believed so much in his batsmen and their ability showed the extent to which he could back his players. Shane Warne was overpowered by Aravinda and Arjuna easily add they romped home with a victory.

He was a no nonsense captain and backed his players to the hilt and combined with his cunning mind and nerves made of steel he was almost unmatchable when it came to captaincy skills. The impact that he had on the oppositions psyche even before a ball had been bowled was often the difference between Sri Lanka winning the game and losing it!!

Marvan Atapattu

A player who scores just 1 run in his first 6 test innings can be lost forever but Marvan was someone who did not let pressure affect him. He went on to become the most successful test opening batsman for the Lankans as he raked up 16 test centuries by the time he retired with 6 of them being double tons. He was a very stylish player and had a compact technique.

He also partnered Sanath in the ODI’s for Sri Lanka hitting over 8500 runs and playing over 250 ODI’s. He is the perfect epitome of a cricketer who was not very gifted but with his sheer hard work and determination climbed up the ladders of success.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Fantastico Duo of Sri Lankans who I grew up Adoring! - Part I

The Fantastico Duo of Sri Lankans who I grew up adoring! - Part I

Sri Lanka are a team that endeared me in the late 1990's after I watched them play a special brand of attacking cricket right through the 1996 World Cup. They were also the underdogs which meant that as a kid I was naturally attracted towards them. Watching the small nation script a fairy tale run during that World Cup left a deep impact on my mind and they are still the team that I support vehemently after India. In this part I will speak about two batsmen who are credited with revolutionizing the way that ODI cricket was played with their belligerent batting styles and an all-out attacking mind-set.

Sanath Jayasuriya

He was another attacking batsman, perhaps light years ahead of his time and he is credited having revolutionizing the ODI game along with Kaluwitharana as the duo went after the bowling right from ball one.

Sanath had forearms as strong as an Ox and his hand eye co-ordination was amongst the best. His short arm flicks landed way beyond the boundary over the mid-wicket region and his cuts often went whole way as well. He played several match winning knocks for the Lankans and single-handedly won the game for them on most occasions. He is perhaps the most complete ODI player ever to play the game with over 13000 runs and 300 wickets to his name.

He was also a splendid slow left arm spin bowler who took more than 300 wickets along with being one of the best fielders that the game has seen. He once held the record for the fastest 50, fastest hundred and the fastest 150 in ODI cricket!!

He also excelled in the longest format of the game, his 340 against the Indian side displaying his hunger for runs and supreme powers of concentration. He finished with an average of over 40 in test matches.

Romesh Kaluwitharana

The diminutive Sri Lankan wicket-keeper was the partner in crime with Sanath Jayasuriya and together they went about terrorising about every opposition bowler. He started with a fine 132 on his test debut but failed to live up to the high expectations since then. Fierce cut shots and mighty pulls and hooks were his trademark and he made a name for himself in the ODI setup when he played several glowering innings in Australia just prior to the 1996 World Cup. That made Ranatunga shove him and Sanath into the pinch hitting opening role.

His wicket-keeping skills were also quite exceptional and he was a very acrobatic and fast behind the stumps. He affected 75 stumpings in only 189 ODI matches and also took 132 catches. Known as ‘Little Kalu’, he never did full justice to the immense talent that he had averaging only in the 20’s in both forms of the game.

Modern Superstars who Shone at the ICC U19 World Cup - Part II

In this Part II of my ‘Modern Superstars who Shone at the ICC U19 World Cup’ series I will look at 5 more players who represented their countries at the U19 level before blossoming out and becoming important members of their senior teams. All of these cricketers have had a great impact on the game and continue to enthral us with their talent and verve. Read the Part I of the series here - Modern Superstars who Shone at the ICC U19 World Cup - Part I

Greame Smith

Greame also played in the 2000 edition where he finished as the leading run scorer for the Proteas with 348 runs at an average of 87. Greame would go on to lead the South African side with great distinction after being appointed as the captain at a tender age of just 22. He was an adept opening batsman in both test and ODI formats of the game. He scored over 9000 test runs and almost 7000 ODI runs at averages of 48 and 38 respectively.

Alastair Cook

Cook made his first appearance in the 2004 edition of the ICC U19 World Cup and impressed everybody who saw the young lad. He would make his debut for England at the age of 21 and become the youngest Englishman to reach 1500, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000 test runs. He has already played 126 test matches for the English and is on the verge of 10000 runs at the age of just 31.

Virat Kohli

The young Indian batsman made his appearance at the ICC U19 World Cup at Malaysia played in 2008 and made an immediate impression as a batsman and as a captain. India won that tournament and the world for the first glimpse of his brashness and aggression. He has, since then, come a long way sealing his way in all the formats in the Indian team as a middle order batsman. He also leads India in test match format. He is currently one of the best ODI batsmen going around having already scored an astounding 25 tons and over 7000 runs!!

Tim Southee

Tim Southee was also a part of the 2008 edition of the ICC U19 World Cup that India went on to win. Tim made his debut against England the same year and claimed a 5-fer and scored a whirlwind fifty. He has since then been one of the best exponents of swing bowling and forms a formidable partnership with Trent Boult. His most memorable spell in ODI's came when his 7-33 destroyed England in the World Cup 2015.

Trent Boult

Southee's partner in crime at the senior level, Trent Boult, also played with him at the 2008 edition of the ICC U19 World Cup. Along with Southee, Boult has formed the most potent new ball bowling attack in test cricket in the last few years. He is a master of swing bowling and possesses a dangerous yorker. He has played 37 tests for the Kiwis and already has 142 wickets with 5 5 wicket hauls.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Modern Superstars who Shone at the ICC U19 World Cup - Part I

ICC U19 World Cup is a great platform for young and upcoming players to showcase their talent and make a name for themselves. It also gives the spectators a glimpse in to what the future holds and what to expect from the coming generation of players.

With the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2016 beginning today in Bangladesh let us look back at the players who went on to become stars and who had a great impact on the game at the senior level as well. I will do this in a two part series called 'Modern Superstars who Shone at the ICC U19 World Cup' with each series focusing on 5 players.

Nasser Hossain

Born in India, Nasser played in the inaugural U19 tournament held in Australia in 1988. He went on to become one of England's finest captains having led them in 43 test matches and securing some of their most famous series victories. He played 96 tests in total and scored over 5500 runs with an average of almost 38.

Sanath Jayasuriya

He played for Sri Lanka in the 1988 edition too and went on to become the most valuable ODI cricketer to have ever played the game. He revolutionized the game with his batting in the 1996 World Cup which Sri Lanka won. He played 110 test matches and 445 ODI matches and his name is etched as one of the most destructive batsman that the game has ever seen. He was also a very handy slow left arm bowler who claimed over 300 ODI wickets

Mushtaq Ahmed

The Pakistani leg spinner also played with Nasser and Sanath in the 1988 U19 tournament. He went on to pick 19 wickets at a paltry average of 16 in that tournament and finished as the leading wicket taker. He played 52 test matches and 144 ODI matches for Pakistan and formed a potent partnership with Saqlain Mushtaq.

Chris Gayle

The destructive batsman first represented West Indies at the U19 World Cup held in 1998. He would be the highest scorer in that tournament with 364 runs at an average of almost 73. Gayle is perhaps the best T20 player that there has ever been and his impact on the game is immeasurable. He also has a test triple century and is a handy spin bowler too. He has played over 100 and 250 test and ODI matches respectively for West Indies.

Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj made his first appearance for India at the U19 ICC Cricket World Cup in 2000. He made several telling contributions in that tournament and was given the Man of the Series award as India won under the captaincy of Kaif. Yuvraj would then go on to replicate his early success by being one of India's best middle order batsmen in the ODI and T20 format. He would help India lift the 2011 World Cup at home with his high impact batting and bowling.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

The Fantastico Duo of West Indians I grew up Adoring

The Fantastico Duo of West Indians I grew up adoring

West Indians were always fun to watch with their flashy techniques and likable nature off the field. They seemed fun loving guys and never seemed to sledge or bad mouth the opposition. In this post I will write about a batsman who played with the typical Caribbean flair and another who was the exact opposite of that style. Yet, both were Fantastico players who had a great impact on me while I grew up.

Richie Richardson

Richie Richardson was beginning to come to the end of his glittering career by the time I had started understanding and watching cricket with regularity. But I was instantaneously hooked to Richie’s uncomplicated style of play where his only intention was to attack the opposition bowler.

He was especially good against fast bowling and he feasted against the strong Australian team by scoring 9 test centuries against them in Australia. He also wore the wide brimmed maroon floppy hat instead of the helmet in a show of extreme confidence in his abilities and bravado.

He became the captain of the West Indian side in the early 1990’s and led them to 11 wins in the 24 tests that he captained. His final ODI appearance came in the 1996 World Cup semi-final where the West Indians committed hara-kiri and lost to the Australians despite being in the position to win the game. They had also lost to Kenya in the group stage and he eventually gave up.

He has been conferred with the title of ‘Sir’ and he has served as the manager of the West Indies team and is also on the ICC’s Elite Panel of Match Referees.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul

In a West Indian side that was filled with batsmen who possessed flamboyant techniques and enhanced follow-throughs, Shiv came across as an unique oddity. His crab like stance where he stood almost facing the square leg umpire fooled many a bowler to believe that he could be a walking wicket but he managed to score runs by the bucketful and could stay at the crease for long periods of time.

That he played for over 20 years and finished with a test match average of over 50 while scoring 11867 runs speaks volumes for this under-rated batsman. He showed that there is a world beyond techniques and that if one has the confidence in what he is doing then the success will come automatically. In a West Indies side that became gradually weaker, he was their pillar of strength and the only shining light in their middle order.

He was also a very handy ODI player who scored runs relatively quickly and an ODI century off just 69 balls against the Australians scored in 2003 showed that he could bat aggressively if he wanted.

In the later part of his career he was routinely snubbed by the selectors and he finally announced his retirement from International cricket last week. I still feel that he could have had a much better impact in the weak middle order that West Indies have and he could have played for some more time.