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Cricket World Cup 2011 : Curfew in Pak & Bandh in India on 30-Mar

The D-day is getting close. The clash of the titans, India with Pak, is slated for 30-Mar. Its been more than 8 years since India beat Pak in a world cup encounter. Hence, the build up to this match is huge; almost unimaginable.

On the day of the QF, the streets were empty by 6pm before India began their batting. All eyes were glued to the tv screen or the mobile screen for regular updates. If India can come to a semi-stand-still when playing against Aus, wonder what will happen during SF. Its quite obvious that in this part of the world, in cricket frenzy nations like India & Pak; both countries will come to a total stand-still. Even the elected heads of the two nations would be watching the match, its been such a kind of atmosphere.

Coming back to the game, both teams have fought well and come to this stage which is being termed as ‘mother of all matches’. Pressure is on both teams but more on Pak, although Pak is claiming that pressure is on India to win in their home ground. So, why is the pressure more on Pak?

For the simple reason that, Pak has never beaten India in a world cup match. In the last 4 encounters, India has won all 4 against Pak handsomely; last of it being in 2003. Pak has lost while chasing as well as while defending a total. This gives India the confidence that they don’t have to worry about batting first or bowling first. Lets go over some of the wins that we have had on them in world cup, as well as compare the 2 teams in all those matches.

2003 was a great year for India at the WC. We made it to the finals but lost, and yet some think that beating Pak in itself was like winning the cup. Rhetoric aside, Pak was a strong team in 2003. They had the bowling strength of Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar & Waqar Younis; and the batting strength of Inzamam & Youhana; but the current Pak team is young and inexperienced. Anyways, Pak won the toss and batted first. 273 was a great total, especially in a high pressure match. Akram was grinning ear to ear when Pak completed their innings as the bowlers had a sizeable total to defend. But the smiles soon faded as the Tendulkar and Sehwag assaulted the bowlers and hit them all round the park. Tendulkar’s brilliant 98 and a fine finish by Yuvraj in the end saw India beat the Pakis. That was a great win.

Much before this match, when India played Pak in 1996 WC match, it was a different situation. India batted first and were heading for a mediocre total of 220+, but the lusty blows of Ajay Jadeja lifted the score to a decent 287. Aamir Sohail and Saeed Anwar provided them a fine start and Pak were very much in the hunt and had reached a good steady position in their chase. But a hot headed Sohail exchanged some words with medium pacer Venkatesh Prasad. What followed next changed the match and tilted the balance in India’s favour. Prasad bowled a slower one and fooled Sohail into pushing at the ball, which he missed totally and his stumps were scattered. Pak has still not forgiven Sohail for that, as the batting collapsed.

Similarly in 1992, India batted first and setup a paltry total of 216 backed by Tendulkar’s fifty. Pak did not go about the chase well and crumbled for 173. It was the same match where Javded Miandad made a fool of himself when he jumped up and down, trying to tease Kiran More.

In 1999 too, Pak were chasing a small total of 227 and they were all out for 180. Pak does not have a world cup temperament. All teams of Pak were led by capable captains, be it Imran or Akram or Haq; all of them lost to India. So, what chance does an erratic Shahid Afridi have?

Of course in a world cup match, all statistics become irrelevant as its the performance on that particular day is what matters. But history is on our side. We have done it in the past and we can go into this match trying to repeat history. The hstory will give us the confidence and a positive attitude to play well and dominate Pak.

This Pak team is the weakest one in years. They have a captain who performs with the ball but not the bat, loses his cool on players and he was not even the first choice for captain a few months ago. Moreover, Pak’s batting has been disastrous. The only thing going in Pak’s favor is bowling of Umar Gul. But I am not sure if Gul has the fire power to demolish India. It will take more than a few good balls to get the likes of Tendulkars and Yuvrajs.

India, on the other hand, have a cool captain who has been doing good captaincy and keeping the wickets well. He hasn’t performed with the bat yet, but this may just be the occasion that he was waiting for. India’s bowling mess has been sorted out, Zaheer has been in tremendous form and Ashwin has been accurate as well as wicket taking. India’s strength has been batting and they have displayed that well. In the last match against Australia, everyoe chipped in with the bat. In the top 5 batsmen of the tournament, we have 2 Indians Sachin and Sehwag; while Yuvraj has been MoM on 4 occasions, hitting fifties and taking wickets.

Having said the above, I do think Pak have an outside chance if they perform with the bat. Even if we consider for a moment that they get India all out for 220+, will their batsmen manage to chase the score?

Past performance aside, even on current form, India scores against Pak on every factor. India has the strength to beat Pak and I am sure we will do it. Having beaten the defending champions Aus, this should not be a big task. Without wasting more time, we should go for the kill. If we bat first, bat Pak out of the match by making 300+. If we ball first, try and get them out within 250. Forget the pitch, this match will be won or lost in the minds of the players. Those who soak in pressure will win it, and India seems to be the team who does that best. Come on India, make us proud!

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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in cricket, sports


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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.

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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.

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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in cricket, sports


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Cricket World Cup 2011 : Dwindling Fortunes of India & England

England became the first team of Group-B to finish with all 6 of their matches and now they have to wait and watch the results of India’s encounter with West Indies and Bangladesh’s play-off with South Africa. England would be hoping that India beat WI and SA beat B’desh; so that would assure their chances in QF.

But as we have seen before, nothing can be said with surety. England have lived dangerously and survived the worst scares with calm & composure. They were on the verge of losing to SA and WI, but they pulled off victories in both the matches and shocked the opposition. On the other hand, they squandered away their chances of beating minnow teams. They lost to B’desh and Ireland, which was so unexpected. They beat the tough teams and were in turn beaten by smaller teams.

England managed to draw the match against India, and this is where the fate of both team hangs. At the end of the group matches, both teams will sit and reflect upon this tied match. Had the match resulted in a win, we would have had a clear QF qualifier. But cricket is a funny game.

While England has survived living on the edge, India has done just the opposite due to complacency. India has been laid back in their approach, they have not won any match convincingly. They were not able to defend a huge total of 297 against SA, while England defended lesser totals like 171 against SA & 243 against WI.

India has 3 wins, and all 3 against smaller teams. They haven’t kept their nerves in the big matches. They lost to SA and could not win against England. And both matches went down to the last ball of the game. Two good overs could have won us both the games, but we just weren’t upto the task. That’s where captaincy comes in, and Dhoni has looked out of control. He hasn’t been able to inspire the bowlers and while batting he has not been able to motivate himself, let alone inspiring fellow batsmen. Sachin, Gambhir, Sehwag and Zaheer have been the only consistent performers. Rest of the players haven’t done anything of consequence yet.

England can cool their heels and watch the remaining group matches, but India have to be on their toes against WI and win to stay in the tournament. Now that WI has lost a close match to England, they will probably comeback hard on us. This match will be more like an elimination for WI. If they lose the match, they would be out of the tournament. If India loses then they will have to hope that SA beat B’desh, which seems quite probable. But again, there is no surety in this game. Only if India wins against WI and SA beats B’desh, can India breathe easy.

On the other side of the fence, B’desh would be hoping that India beat WI. But apart from pinning their hopes on India, B’desh would also have to beat SA to keep their chances alive. If this happens then WI would be eliminated and B’desh would be in top 4 of Group-B table.

All in all, we have an exciting weekend ahead in which fortunes of all 4 teams, India, England, WI & B’desh, will be decided. But India and England will be most worried, thanks to the tied match. Lets see whose fortune dwindles.

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Posted by on March 19, 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.

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Posted by on March 17, 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.

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Posted by on March 10, 2011 in cricket, sports


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A Strange “64th Independence Day”

It has been a strange 64th Independence Day, like many others before. Even as our PM, Manmohan Singh, was making a speech at the Red Fort, a 14 year old boy who had scored 97% in his board exams and was a bright student of ITI, was accidentally electrocuted by the naked hanging electrical wires of the MCD. And even as people were out, wining and dining, Ram Sene struck a pub in Mysore for “immoral” activities. The place was ransacked and people were injured due to the violent attack. What freedom was this where a moral brigade, an extra-constitutional body was violating the very tenets of the constitution; and ironically on Independence day.

 While our PM was making an appeal for peace and prosperity, a CISF jawan was beheaded by a maoist in bright daylight; he was pulled out of a bus and done to death. And if that was not enough, a shoe was hurled at the CM of J&K, Omar Abdullah, who was also giving out a message for calm in the valley during his flag hoisting ceremony.

 While malls and shopping arcades were giving away discount sales, the farmers of Vidharbha were busy burning effigies of Aamir Khan to protest against the casual attitude with which farmers have been portrayed and their issue of farmer-suicide is being made a mockery. They accused Aamir of playing with their emotions and at the same time making money out of their misery.

 All this happened on 15th Aug, sigh! What kind of freedom is this where we are always under siege from someone or the other. It just reminds me of a quote by Jean Jacques Rousseau that goes “Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains”. 

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Posted by on August 18, 2010 in general, lifestyle, personal


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Ind-SA 2nd Test : India Wins, Series Is Drawn

It took some great batting from Sehwag, Tendulkar, Laxman and Dhoni to post the imposing total which finally got us the innings win. But Amla, the one man whose committment almost thwarted India’s chances of victory, almost achieved the impossible. Winning a test match in the last two overs was nothing short of a one-day experience. Harbhajan held his nerves to bowl that delivery.

India won the match, drew the test-series and retained the No.1 ranking in tests with that last wicket of Morkel. Great win!

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Posted by on February 18, 2010 in cricket


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Ind-SA 1st Test : Tendulkar’s Century In Vain India lost the first test to SA, that too on home soil in Nagpur, the only thing to cheer about was Sachin’s century. Sachin has scored 34 centuries in 1st innings and 12 in the 2nd innings. Of these 12, India have drawn 5 matches, lost 4 and won only 3 of them. Which means, more often than not, his century has been in a losing cause.


Tendulkar’s 2nd Innings 100s in Indian wins

Score Match Innings Opposition Venue Date
104* 3 Sri Lanka Colombo (SSC) 27-Jul-93
155* 3 Australia Chennai 06-Mar-98
103* 4 England Chennai 11-Dec-08

Tendulkar’s 2nd Innings 100s in Indian defeats

Score Match Innings Opposition Venue Date
122 3 England Birmingham 06-Jun-96
113 3 New Zealand Wellington 26-Dec-98
136 4 Pakistan Chennai 28-Jan-99
100 3 South Africa Nagpur 06-Feb-10

Tendulkar’s 2nd Innings 100s in drawn matches

Score Match Innings Opposition Venue Date
119* 4 England Manchester 09-Aug-90
124* 3 Sri Lanka Colombo (SSC) 24-Feb-99
126* 3 New Zealand Mohali 10-Oct-99
176 3 West Indies Kolkata 30-Oct-02
100* 3 Sri Lanka Ahmedabad 16-Nov-09
But Sachin is not to blame for the loss because we have always been defeated due to a weak bowling attack. To win a test match, its imperative that you get the opposition out in both innings, 20 wickets to be claimed. We could not even get 10, hence proving that the bowlers were neither effective in taking wickets nor in curtailing the runs. Even Sachin had stayed long enough he would have run out of partners because we had one more day of play left; too much to ask.
Hopefully we will do better in other matches and at least try to draw the series.
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Posted by on February 9, 2010 in cricket


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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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