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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!

This post was first published on Yahoo Network

 
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Posted by on March 28, 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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breaking news : sania calls off wedding with pak cricketer shoaib

https://i0.wp.com/im.rediff.com/sports/2007/nov/07sania.jpgOwing to enormous pressure from fans and other eminent personalities, Sania Mirza has decided to call off her wedding with Pak cricketer Shoaib Malik. In fact, reports also say that right-wing activists who protested outside her residence, on the day her marriage news broke-out, have issued a threat and called her anti-national. Not just right-wingers, but Islamic fundamentalists who had earlier issued a fatwa on her for playing tennis in skimpy skirts, have renewed the threat on her for breaking an arranged marriage with her previous fiance Sohrab and finding love elsewhere in Shoaib Malik. Sania was depressed by such fierce reaction from all quarters, and she made this decision. And I hope I have been successful in fooling you because its 1st April today. Happy Fool’s Day.

Now that I have got the fool’s day out of my bag and drawn your interest, let me discuss the issue in a more serious manner. Sania’s announcement came as a surprise/shock to many of us. And I find it rather unfortunate that she has decided to tie a knot with a Pakistani. No, its not like cross-country marriages don’t happen. Reena Roy married Pak cricketer Mohsin Khan, Neena Gupta bore Viv Richards’ daughter, Jemima married Imran Khan, Rajiv Gandhi brought home Sonia; but this marriage is different.

I have always believed that although all of us are patriots, the true patriots are the ones who represent India elsewhere. So, a true patriot for me would be the defence guys, the armed forces, the navy men and air-force people who guard our country. Next come the sport-stars who represent the country, like Leander Paes, Sachin Tendulkar, Geet Sethi and then of course the gifted people from arts and crafts like Meenakshi Sheshadri and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan etc. Coming from this viewpoint, Sania’s decision to marry a Pak player is disappointing. She has represented India and played for the country, and all of a sudden she compromises on her patriotism to find love in a terror-stricken land of Pakistan. We must not forget that Kasab is still under trial for waging a war against India.

Then how could she consider marrying a Pakistani, I am surprised! I think she and Shoaib realize what they are getting into, and have already decided to shift base to Dubai because Pak is not a safe country to live in; this in itself is such an irony.

https://i0.wp.com/farm3.static.flickr.com/2178/2493836093_6bf77a9ed5_o.jpgComing to their sporting career, neither Sania nor Shoaib are relevant in their sports. Shoaib was a copy-cat of Saqlain Mushtaq to begin with and he seemed to have no prospects until his bat started doing the talking; but that was a thing of the past. As of today, he has been issued a ban for a year, lost his captaincy and will be seen playing inconsequential matches to keep the kitchen stove burning. But this is the least of my grouses. What I detest about Shoaib is his unabashed Islamic behavior at the presentation ceremony of  T20 World Cup final when Pak lost to India. Shoaib went on to apologize to all “muslims of the world” for not having won the cup. How dare this unholy b@$tard try to make Pak the whole-and-sole representative of “all muslims”. He does not even know that India has more muslim population than Pakistan. He does not know that muslims in India have achieved greatness in all fields, be it science & technology [APJ Kalam], be it business[Azim Premji], be it movies [all Khans], be it music [Zakir Hussain, AR Rahman], be it sports [Azhar, Sania herself], be it politics or any other field. I was actually amazed that not many people took exception to this statement from Shoaib. This reflects not only Pak’s insecurities but also their narrow-mindedness.

Coming to Sania, she is a spent-force in Indian tennis and has done nothing after reaching top-30 ranking which was 5 or more years ago; she has not made it to QF or SF of any Grand Slam Singles title. Her many injuries have only reduced her career longevity.

By the way, I just forgot to bring up their past which is again mired in controversy. Shoaib is supposed to have been married to a Hyderabadi girl Ayesha Siddiqui. There is still a case pending against Shoaib and he has not been cleared off the charges yet. In fact, Sania was invited by Siddiquis and she was there in Ayesha’s house and so were the entire Pak cricket team when Shoaib was hosted by his then in-laws in 2005. And yet, now we see her in engagement with Shoaib, such are the works of destiny. Sania too was engaged to her childhood friend Sohrab for more than 6 months, but the engagement was broken. So, we have two people with a thorny past trying to make a rosy future. I wish them all the very best, god bless.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2010 in cricket, general, lifestyle, sports, tennis

 

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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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