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Cricket World Cup 2011 : SA Chokes, Shame Old Story

Its not everyday that we get a chance to create history, to cross the threshold and write a new future, to take the albatross off our back. Its not everyday that we can erase the misfortunes of the past and tread into a world of possibilities where we truly belong. And in all such moments, which can make heroes out of ordinary individuals, South Africa fumbles.

SA seem to be robbed off the enthusiasm to correct things and the will to change it. It’s like, they are so scared to lose that they end up losing in fear of it. The matches are lost much before they are played, in their minds. The same thing happened to SA against NZ. Chasing a moderate total of 221, they crumbled for 176.

Earlier in the tournament they had choked to England. But they came back well in the next few matches. Like everybody else, I too thought that they were done with choking. Since its already happened before, they would’ve brushed it aside and moved on. But the burden of winning the critical QF got to them. From a strong position of 120 odd for loss of 2 wickets, they were cruising along. And then, something happened. They were faced with the fact that this win would take them to the SF and they choked under pressure.

What’s worse is the fact that this isn’t the first time they have choked. They have had a string of such choking moments, starting from 1992 World Cup. That was the first time SA played in a world cup tournament and they made it till the knock out stage. But they couldn’t deliver the knock out punch. It was a rainy day and the target of 22 runs from 13 balls was suddenly reduced to 22 from 1 ball, and SA lost by 19 runs. It was just unfortunate that they couldn’t make it. Such a talented team was out of the tourney.

Then came 1996, where they lost to WI by 19 runs. They were going well and suddenly someone pressed the panic button and the boat of hope capsized in no time. Again in 1999, luck did not go their way. The match that they should have won with ease, eventually ended up in a tie. Klussner blasted 3 fours in the last over and tied the score. Just 1 run was needed to win and they had 3 balls remaining. Klussner should have gone for a flourishing drive but he tried to take a cheeky single. With the last pair at the crease, Donald, ran his hardest but was run-out. Thus ending their hope for 1999 WC.

In every WC edition, South Africa has been counted among the best teams and potential winners. But these self-effacing matches and not seizing the moment has cost them dearly. The 2003 WC was held in SA with the hope that home team would lift the cup. But again, as fate would have it, another Duckworth-Lewis calculation let them down. Boucher was at the crease and had levelled the score as per D/L method, according to the communication that he received from his coach. And he ended up wasting the remaining 3 balls. Had he taken a single run in those 3 balls, SA would have bee through. But SA were cheated off the WC again, this time owing to miscommunication and misunderstanding of the D/L method.

In all these matches, SA were chasing a score ad they lost. They choked and couldn’t go past the finish line. But before one assumes that SA probably should try defending a score and maybe that would work for them, let me add that in 2007 WC they lost defending a score. SA lost to Australia, who eventually went on to win the cup.

So, what we see is a steady pattern where SA have choked time and again in every important match. Its not like they can’t win. They chased 434 against Aus and won the game, they have beaten the best of teams. But when it comes to WC matches, especially elimination or knock-out matches, they turn off-color. SA needs to introspect why this happens to them. They probably need a pep talk or some kind of psychological help to build their confidence and up their morale. Its high time SA claim their rightful place in world cricket. They are among the best teams of the world that deserves to lift the cup at least once. They play fantastic cricket throughout the year, win matches in home and away, and still when it comes to WC they choke. I just hope they get rid of this choker tag soon. We would like to see SA lift the cup, hopefully next time.

This post was first published on Yahoo Network

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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in cricket, sports


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Cricket World Cup 2011 : Players Who Have Disappointed Us

This World Cup has been a mixed bag of some good performances and some shoddy ones too. The players who have lived upto their reputations are there to be seen. But there are a number of players who have badly disappointed us. Here’s a small list of such players :

a. Ricky Ponting : He has looked out of touch and failed to score even against minnows. Being the captain, he should be leading from the front. But his woeful form has been a dark spot in the otherwise fair performance of the team. He is lucky to be leading a good team, but if a player had to be chosen based on form then he would not have found a place in the team.

b. Yusuf Pathan : He came into the tournament with a huge reputation of hitting big sixes and of pulling the team out of tough situations, thanks to IPL. But that seems to have faded now. He has not been sent down the correct batting order, which could be one of the reasons why he is unable to perform. But I hope he fires in the next few matches else he will lose his place to Suresh Raina.

c. Harbhajan Singh : Where spinners like Dockrell and part-timers like Yuvraj have been able to make an impact in the game, Bhajji has been docile. Forget ‘doosra’, he is not even able to bowl the ‘pehla’, his off-spinners, correctly. Batsmen don’t fear his spin and are actually going after him. If India has to succeed, Bhajji has to pick 3 wickets or at least stem the run-flow in every match.

d. Kamran Akmal : There was a funny tweet/sms going around which read “Behind every successful batsman is Akmal keeping the wickets”. Such has been his form, totally lacklustre. He has missed stumping chances, run-outs and dropped easy catches like hot potatoes. He is in danger of losing his spot in the side, if he doesn’t pull up his socks.

e. Piyush Chawla : The man who took a 4 wikcet haul in the practise match against Australia and shut the mouth of his detractors has actually under-performed. He has not lived upto the expectation that he himself set. On the contrary, he has not been able to bowl a decent spell until now. He has gone for runs and not taken wickets too. I think Ashwin, who is waiting in the wings, ought to be given a chance over Chawla.

f. Mahela Jayawardene : The backbone of Sri Lankan middle-order is turning out spineless. Some bad shot selection and poor form has done him in. More was expected out of this Lankan, but he has not delivered.

g. Chris Gayle : This West Indian opener hasn’t fired yet. If he gets going, the opposition bowlers would seek mercy, but that hasn’t happened yet. More is expected of him in the coming matches.

h. James Anderson : The pace attack of England has proven to be inocuous, reason being that Anderson is not in top form. He looks tired in his run up and is unable to gather pace. England can win only if Anderson runs through the top order of any batting attack or at least wind-up the tail with his quickies. His inability to do so has harmed England.

i. Odoyo & Obuya brothers : In the last edition of the World Cup, Kenya looked like a weak team on the verge of metamorphosis into a strong and resilient team. But the failure of these players, along with Tikolo, has lost matches and respect for the blossoming Kenyan team.

j. Brendon McCullum : The once formidable batting line-up of New Zealand is now looking shaky. The top and middle-order is not playing to its potential. And McCullum, the man who holds the key to binding top and middle-order, seems listless. His strike rotation and lustly blows are being missed this time around.

There are a few more players who have disappointed us, but expectation from the above players was more than from the others. I just hope they get back in form and perform well in future.

This post was first published on Yahoo Network

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Posted by on March 18, 2011 in cricket, sports


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Cricket World Cup 2011 : India’s Inconsistency Can Spoil Their Chances

Just when everyone was convinced that India has a fantastic batting line-up that delivers the goods and only the bowling has to be improved, we came a cropper on a pitch that was a batting paradise. From 267 for 1 wicket, we crumbled in a flash to end with less than 300 runs; and we did not even manage to play the entire 50 overs.

Most people are talking about the last over bowled by Ashish Nehra and think that we lost the match because of that one over. Hindsight is exact science! What if Harbhajan or Zaheer Khan or any other bowler had bowled that over and we had yet lost. We just shift the blame from one shoulder to another. But most people forget that we lost the match much before that. The moment we failed to capitalize on Tendulkar’s and Gambhir’s partnership, we seized to have any control on the match.

At one stage, India were cruising with score of 220+ in 40 overs against South Africa. The very next day Australia managed to make 220+ runs in 40 overs against Kenya; and New Zealand belted 220+ runs in 40 overs against Canada. Tendulkar and Gambhir mauled the South African bowling attack; we smashed Dale Steyn twice out of the attack. What we achieved against a quality bowling line-up, Australia & NZ could do that only against minnow teams; such is our batting prowess.

And yet, 5 overs later, after 45 overs the complexion of the game changed with Tendulkar’s dismissal. No sooner had he gone of the field, unpadded and refreshed himself, the whole team was back in the pavillion. Only 29 runs were scored for the loss of 9 wickets. Every batsman looked like they were in a hurry to finish the match and fly to the next venue. All the hard work done by Gambhir and Tendulkar came undone.

Although our bowlers did well to take the match to the last ball, we assumed that they have done their job. We think that our bowlers came good but our batsmen failed us against SA. But wait. South Africa’s next match was against Ireland and they managed to score just 272 runs. The Irish bowlers were able to restrict them by giving no loose balls and no easy fours and sixes. In the wake of this fact, Indian bowlers actually failed us by not being able to defend even 297.

Ireland beat England, Bangladesh beat England as well, England beat SA. So, most teams have won at least against one tough opposition; but India hasn’t managed that !

India’s performance has been checkered. We have shown some superb batting display and some great bowling spells, but both haven’t delivered in the same match. India beat Bangladesh and Netherlands easily, and struggled against Ireland but eventually beat them. All three minnow teams. We couldn’t beat England and we lost to SA. What does this say? That we haven’t really won against a quality teams. At this rate we can only dream of the cup. Our inconsistency can spoil our chances.

This post was first published on Yahoo Network

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Posted by on March 17, 2011 in cricket, sports


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