Sunday, January 29, 2017

India Look to Keep T20 Series Alive in Nagpur

India vs England, T20I at Nagpur; 29 January 2017 - Match Preview

England, a mediocre side as far as shorter formats of the game were considered till the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015; turned it around in a spectacular fashion as they underwent a total change in personnel and mindset after another disastrous campaign at another global event.

How close they ran a strong Indian side in the ODI's before dismantling them in the opening T20I is a testament to their success.

Jason Roy and Sam Billings gave them a whirlwind start in pursuit of a modest Indian total before a calm Root and aggressive Morgan killed it swiftly. That their best players in this format; Buttler & Stokes, weren't even required shows how much progress they have really made.

But credit must also go to their bowlers who restricted India to a below par total as they displayed variety and finesse. Tymal Mills bowled well over 90 kmph but had enough skill and courage to try slower balls which befuddled the Indians. Moeen Ali kept it tight in the middle overs while Jordan provided short ball therapy to the Indian batting line up.

India must look to get rid of KL Rahul; at least in the short term as he looks woefully short of form and with Rishabh Pant waiting eagerly in the wings this might be the perfect opportunity to blood him in.

Chahal was brilliant in the opening game but Nehra and Bumrah were all over the show in their opening spells giving width and pitching the ball either way too full or short. India might also want to consider bringing in the experience of Amit Mishra in place of Rasool who bowled quite a number of short balls in his debut game.

The second T20 match today in Nagpur is crucial for India as they look to keep the series alive and a loss today will severely dent their confidence going into a tough series against Australia.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Young Sri Lanka Face a Strong South African Side in Port Elizabeth

Sri Lanka vs South Africa, 1st ODI; Port Elizabeth - Match Preview

Sri Lanka were battered and bruised by a strong Protea unit as they slumped 0-3 in the test series but a young Lankan side played manfully in the T20I's that followed to give Sri Lanka their first ever series win in South Africa in any format as they won 2-1.

Now we come to the five match ODI series and with the Champions Trophy looming on the horizon, thus is an ideal opportunity for both sides to get their squads in order.

South Africa again appear far stronger on paper with quality players like Amla, De Kock, De Villiers and Faf du Plessis in their side not to mention Duminy and Rabada as well. Sri Lanka will be led by the veteran Upul Tharanga and he will be keen to showcase his captaincy skills against a tough opposition after he led Sri Lanka to the title in the recently concluded tri-series in Zimbabwe which also included West Indies.

Sri Lanka will hope that Dickwella will continue his stellar run and that the extremely talented duo of Mendis and De Silva convert promise into something substantial. Chandimal was the pick of Lankan batsmen in ODI cricket last year and he would want to continue his good form. South African bowling seems a bit light on paper as compared to their batting unit and Sri Lanka will want their batsmen to concentrate on building a long innings and put them under pressure in the slog overs.

I would also want Sri Lanka to play both Vandersey and Sandakan who can do the dual role of tying the batsmen down as well chip in with wickets in the middle overs.

South Africa will miss the pace of Lungi Ngidi after he was injured in the field in the last T20 so Parnell and Phehlukwayo might both get in along with Morris who returns from injury.

This South African side is a beast and they blanked the Australian's 5-0 recently at home in ODI's so it won't be easy for Sri Lanka but if the Lankans put on show the same grit and determination that they displayed when playing the T20 format then they have the calibre to surprise their much fancied opponents.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

India look to tame England on Republic Day

India vs England, T20I at Kanpur; 26 January 2017 - Match Preview

So after the three match ODI series that saw bowlers from both camps getting murdered; the India England cricket caravan moves on to the most destructive format of the game with Kanpur set to host the first T20 of the three match series. With scores of week over 300 a norm in the recently concluded ODI series, this promises to be a run fest as well with both India and England boasting of some massive strikers of the cricket ball.

England will hope that Jason Roy can continue to provide blistering starts while also silently praying that Jos Buttler gets into his groove as he is their most dynamic player who had the ability to improvise by playing highly unorthodox shots. They will also welcome Joe Root back to the side who missed the last ODI due to a niggle. With players like Stokes, Jordan, Plunkett and Ali in the side they have the personnel who can bat right down till the very end.

India's batting flourished in the ODI series and though it still seems to revolve a lot around Kohli the trend seems to be changing with the recent form of Yuvraj and Dhoni welcoming for team India. With home boy Raina back in the fold and young KL Rahul looking to get runs under his belt after a failed ODI series the Indian batting looks strong on paper.

Amit Mishra gets a look in as both Ashwin and Jadeja have been rested for this series with the Aussie tests looming on the horizon and he must be keen to show that he is good enough to play for India on a regular basis. Pandya is a bowler to look out for as he seems to have gained a yard or two in pace but still lacks in control a wee bit. Bumrah, with his slingy action and accurate yorkers, will be the man for Kohli in the death overs.

England have loads of bits and pieces players who are good enough to destroy the opposition with either bat or ball in hand. Tymal Mills is a quick bowler coming off a decent showing in the BBL and he might get a look in. Adil Rashid might miss out as he has the tendency to leak runs.

With an early start to the T20 match, dew is not likely to be a factor and spectators can sit back and enjoy all the action unfold between two teams that will go toe to toe in a breathless format.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

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

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

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

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

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