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Cricket World Cup 2011 : Sachin Walks & The World Talks

India’s match against WI on Sunday, 20-Mar, was an important one for India. Other than the fact that Sachin was out in the open in a bid to score hundred 100’s, it was more essential that India beat WI and go up the points table. It was a pressure match for both teams. And in such scenario, although the field umpire turned down the appeal, Sachin walked off the field as his bat faintly nicked the ball.

This was yet aother instance of Sachin not waiting for the umpire’s decision and walking back to the pavillion on his own. I vividly remember that during the famous Sharjah Cup, when India were on an important run chase, then too Damien Fleming appealed for a caught-behind which the umpire did not acknowledge but Sachin walked off the field after having scored a brilliant hundred. Its incidents like these that earns him respect from everybody, even the belligerent opponents stop by to praise him.

Sachin of course listened to his conscience and walked off, but that has stirred off an age old debate: whether to walk-off or not. Basically the decision to walk is based on 2 important things:

a. is cricket still a gentleman’s game where individual honesty and sportsman spirit is necessary?
b. is cricket a game where shrewd thinking and cunningly nature is required?

Lets see point [b] first. The most glaring example of this was the underarm bowling done by Trevor Chappell on instruction from his brother and captain Greg Chappell to prevent the opposition batsman from hitting a six on the last ball of the match. Chappell brothers played a wily card by exploiting a loophole of the game, but it was against spirit of the game. Winning was the most important thing for Greg Chappell and he did just that, win the match but lose respect.

From then on, Australians have been known for using sly ways to keep the winning streak. Be it sledging or standing the ground after having nicked a ball or be it claiming a catch after grassing the ball, they have done it all. Ponting and other Asutralians just continue the tradition of standing until the umpire does not raise the finger. In fact, Ponting and co. believe in grassing the ball and yet claiming the catch, thereby putting the responsibility of judging on the shoulders of the umpires. Gilchrist, on some rare occasions, has walked off immediately. But he too does not have a 100% track record of walking. He has stood his ground or walked off based on team’s situation. When the team needed him at the crease, he stood his ground and waited for umpire’s decision. But when he took a call that Aus is in safe position, he has walked off. Anyhow, one Gilchrist cannot be an example for the entire team.

Lets see point [a] now. Most of the greats have always walked-off without waiting for the umpire’s decision. In the past, Gavaskar, Shastri, Vengsarkar have walked. Even Richards, Greenidge, Gower have walked. But in this day and age, it has become a rarity. That’s why Sachin’s walking off has raised a debate. Honest players like Andy Flower, Jacques Kallis, Dravid etc have also walked; but just that it hasn’t happened so often with them.

Walking-off shows courage, honesty and respect for the game. It shows that individual records don’t matter much, but playing the game in the right spirit does. Its the selfish, cunning and timid people who stand their ground because they want to score more runs for themselves. But they don’t realise that in the process of not walking, they are belittling themselves in the eyes of their fan. With so many cameras and microphones, super slo-mo and snickometer, they cannot escape. They may score a few more runs but they cannot earn respect.

In my opinion, walking-off is sportsman spirit and restores the respect of the game, as well as it instils honesty and brings dignity to the sport. In this tough competitive championship, there should be moments of selfless behaviour too, so that we can keep alive the adage of cricket being a gentleman’s game.

This post was first published on Yahoo Network

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in cricket, sports

 

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Cricket World Cup 2011 : Who Will Make it to Semis?

At the end of the group matches I have no hesitation in saying that South Africa and Sril Lanka have emerged as the strongest teams; and not just because they have topped the table of their respective groups. Both teams have topped the table by playing well consistently, and winning big matches. SA lost to England, but they came back very well in the next match. They have the depth in their batting line-up and their bowlers are doing well. Their fielders of course, have always lifted the morale of the team and made the bowling look even better by diving around and saving runs. Except that one choking moment, against England, they have looked a brilliant side.

SL too have done their best and used the conditions very well. The slow pitches in SL, where the ball grips and slows down, has helped them. But SL haven’t been challenged yet. The match against Aus was washed out and they had it easy against Pak, when Pak was not the dangerous team what they have gone on to become now. SL’s strength lies in batting and Malinga’s bowling spell. If any team can tackle these both factors, they can beat SL.

Having said the above, its still an open tournament and anyone can win it because there hasn’t been a single dominating team. Every team has had its ups and downs, wins and losses, strengths and vulnerabilities. I was about to write a post on Aus and how they have gone on to silently win their matches while people have been watching Group-B clashes, when they suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Pak. The vulnerability of Aus lies in its batting line-up. Ponting hasn’t been in good nick, their top order hasn’t delivered, their bowling looks jaded. But what they have done well is “never say die” attitude. They have won their group matches more due to good positive attitude than due to good stellar performances. If any team can cause a collapse in the top and middle order, and don’t lose wickets in first 10 overs while batting, can beat Aus. Easier said than done, but thats the key; strike at their vulnerability.

India seem to be peaking at the right time, neither too early nor too late. And this is the perfect time to play against Aus. They have come from a bad loss to Pak and things are not looking good for them. India can take heart from the fact that if Pak can beat them, then we can too. India’s bowling woes have been sorted out, thanks to Ashwin’s inclusion. The side is looking more balanced now, with 2 medium pacers and 2 spinners. Only question is, when Sehwag returns from injury, who will sit out. I think Raina will have to sit out because Pathan is a trump card. He has not fired until now, but is a dormant volcano who will blow up anytime soon. If there is a time to come good for him, its now. If India bat first and post anything in excess of 290, we can exert pressure on Aus and bulldoze them. Wishful thinking, but that should be the strategy. We have to even avenge the 2003 WC Final loss, and no better way than to eliminate them from WC2011.

“England is the new Pak”, as per the tweets and sms doing the rounds. Both Pak & England are unpredictable sides and on their day can win a match or on an off-day can lose it. They don’t have an average day or a median on the graph, they fall on extremes. So, either they get whacked out or they whack the opposition out. Pak play WI and Eng play SL.

Coming to SL/Eng match, that will be a close encounter. Remember, England has caused a few upsets and have played well against bigger teams. They may have lost to B’desh and Ireland, but they have beaten WI and SA; and both from difficult situations. They have been able to defend scores and thats their strength. This will be a tough match to call, I am sure that balance of the match with shift every few overs.

NZ and WI are the weakest teams of the QF. WI have lost two matches from winning positions, against Eng and India. If they are to chase a score, its highly probable that they would crumble. Both teams are comfortable batting first and putting up a total. So, the team that bats first and bowls their first 15 overs well, will win this one. As of now, it seems like Pak is definitely through to Semis as WI are not that good a side to beat Pak on its current form. Coming to NZ, they too have an uphill task of beating SA.

As I see it, SA and Pak will sail into the semis without any problems. Eng and SL will be a keen contest, so will India and Aus be. Although Eng have been on a roll after winning ICC T20 championship and followed it up with Ashes victory, I will go with SL because its a sub-continental pitch and SL have the advantage. And finally, head and heart says that India will beat Aus on current form of the two teams.

This post was first published on Yahoo Network

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in cricket, sports

 

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Cricket World Cup 2011 : The Imbalance Of The Two Groups

If we see Group-A and Group-B on paper, it seems like a balanced grouping. Both groups have been created, keeping in mind, that the majors qualify to the next round and the minors stay at the bottom of the table. But in actuality, Group-B has seen more action, more ups and downs, more thrills and chills than Group-A.

Having said the above, its not like Group-A have performed predictably. In fact, yesterday NZ beat Pak which was not supposed to happen as per the cricket gurus. No one gave NZ a chance while Pak looked unstoppable. But the belting that Pak bowlers received in the past 8 overs was enough to prove that Pak is not as strong as they have made themselves out to be. Their bowling was superb till the 41st over where NZ scored only 175 runs. But the last 8-9 overs changed the complexion of the game. The birthday boy Ross Taylor took it as a 20-20 match from then on and thrashed the bowlers around to score a fabulous century. NZ scored 125 runs in last 8 overs, coming back from behind. Pak has a vulnerable batting line-up; if you get first 2-3 wickets quickly then you stand a chance to win. And thats exactly what happened. Even Canada almost beat Pak, but for Afridi’s magical spell that saved the day.

The only other interesting match of Group-A, between Australia and Sri Lanka, was washed out; giving both teams a point each. Other than these two interesting duels, all other matches have gone down a predictable path.

Now, coming to Group-B: Ireland beat England, England beat South Africa, South Africa beat West Indies, West Indies beat Bangaladesh and B’desh beat Ireland. Its been a superb competition where no team has been able to breathe easy; whenever they have done so, they have lost. England took it easy against Ireland and paid for it. SA thought they had England figured out when total staring at them was mere 171; but they had to bite the dust. At one stage they were 120 for 3 and then suddenly they were 124 for 6 and finally the chokers tag came back to haunt them. They pulled defeat from the jaws of victory.

Ireland and England have provided wholesome entertainment and made it a point to take every match down the wire. In such atmosphere, only India have been able to hold onto their reputation; albeit they did look like losing to England. But the true test for India will be against SA and WI. Only if India’s bowling had been good, we could have confidently said that they are the team to beat. But for the moment, its still a 50-50 chance. Ireland have the attitude to pip WI and get a QF berth, but the other 3 teams are pretty much decided.

Group-A has no interesting matches ahead. Zimbabwe and Kenya look out of sorts while Canada’s cricketing skill is still in nascent stages. In all probability, the top four right now will remain so till end of the league matches. We can safely say that the Group-B matches will be more watchable and much more interesting with nail biting finish than Group-A matches.

Although ICC had noble intentions, but the two groups that have been formed, have a definite imbalance. At the end of the day, may the best team win.

This post was first published on Yahoo Network

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2011 in cricket, sports

 

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india still in contention in champions trophy

thanks to the rains, india is still in contention. but the way we have been bowling, we just deserve to lose. its such a toothless bowling attack, and not much batting to boast about. in the absence of sehwag, gambhir and zaheer we are a depleted team who dont deserve to win.

in both matches, we bowled first. i think our best chance would be to bat first and put up a big total so that bowlers can pressurise the opposition when they come down to chase.

anyways, lets see what happens next. pak has to beat australia by a huge margin and india has to beat west indies with a huge margin. it looks unlikely that we will make it. but at the moment, we are still in the contest.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2009 in cricket

 

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