Monday, February 28, 2011

World Cup 2011 : West Indies vs Netherlands...

West Indies against Netherlands at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, New Delhi.

Borren won the toss for the Dutch & put the Windies into bat. Devon Smith & Chris Gayle came into open the innings. Gayle was watchful at the beginning, & he took 24 deliveries to find his first boundary, as Smith at the other end started to blaze. 50 runs came in the 10th over & 100 in the 17th over, with a better than run a ball strike rate. Smith left for 53 off 51 deliveries, bringing in new sensation Darren Bravo, who started striking sweetly from the first delivery. he hit two towering sixes, but did not finally make it big, as he got out for 30 off 38. Gayle at the other end had started to hit out along with Sarvan. The score reached 196 in the 37th over, when Gayle holed out for a well made 80 off 110 balls......very unlike Gayle, but today he contributed with a big score. The scoring till now had been decent, as big man Pollard strolled into the middle. Batting powerplay was taken as he came in & Pollard made every delivery count. He was his ruthless best & pounded the Netherlands attack to shreds. His 50 came in just 23 deliveries, with four hits to the boundary & four towering sixes. By the time he got out in the 48th over for a whirlwind 60 off 27 balls, the total score had reached 312 for 7. The final score read 330 for 8, as Sarvan missed out on a half century. For once the Windies had displayed the Calypso flair of batting that the world so loved to see.
The Dutch attack was patchy, & lacked both intent & purpose, that they had displayed against England in their first match.

In their run chase, Netherlands were immediately in trouble, as the wicketkeeper Barresi got out in the 2nd over to Roach, the score reading 2 for 1. The second to go was Kervezee, stumpted for 14 by Benn, with the total at 26 for 2. In came the centurion of the last match, Doeschate, with a grim face. However, this was not his day, as Benn got him plumb LBW in front of the leg stump, & the referral confirmed the same. It was now 34 for 3. Roach claimed the 4th wicket in the very next over, & the Dutch were reeling at 35 for 4. The next to follow was Grooth, & now half the side is back in the pavilion for a mere 36 runs 7 it was only 11 overs. In the 15th over, the score reached 50. The sixth wicket partnership added another 57 runs, which in the final score turned out to be the best partnership. Once Mudassar Bukhari was out in the 30th over, Roach just cleaned the tail with a hat trick & Netherlands was all out at 115 in the 32nd over.
Windies victorious by 215 runs.
A good match for the Windies, with their top order clicking with the bat & then the bowling wrapping off the opposition with almost 18 overs to spare.

Man of the Match : Kemar Roach for his 6 for 27 in 8.3 overs, including a hat trick.  

World Cup 2011 : Zimbabwe vs Canada...

Zimbabwe against Canada at Nagpur, was supposed to be the fight between the minnows.
Zimbabwe won the toss & elected to bat and immediately got into trouble losing both the openers within 4 overs with score reading 7 runs for 2 wickets. However, Tatenda Taibu & Ervine, the next batsmen in dug in to build a partnership. Both batted with authority & thrashed the Canadian attack, putting on 181 runs on board. When Ervine was finally caught behind by Bagai, he had put on 85 invaluable runs for just 81 deliveries. Taibu did not last long after that & holed out to Davison for a brilliant 98 of 99 deliveries, in the 34th over.....he missed, what would have been a well deserved hundred. The late order too contributed with the long handle & the final score was a huge 298 for 9 in 50 overs.

This chase would obviously be extremely steep for Canada & the batsmen just could not take the pressure. It was more of a parade, with batsmen in & the score limped along. Finally it was all over in 43 overs, with the score of 123. The Zimbabwean bowlers enjoyed the cushion of a large total & Price, Cremer, Utseya & Lamb all were amongst wickets.
It was a big win for Zimbabwe by 175 runs.

Man of the Match ; Tatenda Taibu, the wicketkeeper batsman for Zimbabwe for his brilliant 98.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

World Cup 2011 : India vs England...

India against England today at Bangalore - expected to a big match & what a humdinger it turned out to be.

Dhoni won the toss & as expected decided to bat first, with Sachin & Sehwag coming in to start the innings. Sehwag was circumspect today & his timing was not the best. But he batted the way he does & after a quickfire 35of 26 deliveries, he nicked Bresnan behind, with the score reading 46 for 1 in the 8th over. Next man Gambhir, however settled down quickly & looked to hit over the top, with regularity. 50 came up in the 9th over & the drinks, the score was 96 for 1 in 17 overs. Sachin looked sublime, & hit the first six of the match, straight over the bowler's head, into the stands.....100 up for the team at almost a run a ball, with the crowd going wild. The partnership prospered & by the time Gambhir was bowled by Swann in the 30th over, he had made his half century. 200 for India came in 34th over, 250 in the 41st over & 300 in the 46th, as runs just flowed. Sachin went on to register yet another century, which included 5 sixes, timing the ball as sweetly as ever. This was his 5th century in the World Cup, most by any batsmen, & his 47th ODI ton. A vintage performance indeed....
Yuvi too contributed with a half century & Dhoni also hit well. When Yuvi got out in the 46th over, it was 305 for 4 & with Pathan & Virat to come in, we all were looking at some real fireworks. However, Tim Bresnan bowled his heart out & caused a mini collapse, folding the Indian innings for 338 all out, still a very formidable total to chase. India should have got at least 25-30 runs more, but still a big total. While all other bowlers were spanked all over the park, Bresnan ended with 5 for 48 in his 10 overs. Anderson gave 91 runs in his 10 overs, probably the highest ever by an English bowler in the World Cup.

For the chase, Kevin Peiterson strolled in with Captain Andrew Strauss for England, & the first delivery was clipped to the square leg boundary, as Zaheer opened the Indian attack. The pair looked steady & purposeful, as they combined aggression with caution, taking the score to 68 before Munaf Patel took a blinder return catch to dismiss the ever dangerous Peiterson. In came Trott & immediately settled down with his Skipper. Spin introduced in the 11th over, with Chawla & Bhajji at both ends. At drinks, at the end of 16th over, the score read 110 for 1, with Strauss having reached his fifty. The scoring was doing a healthy 6.79 run rate. But just after the drinks, Piyush Chawla got the breakthrough, getting Trott plumb in front of the wicket. The turning point in the game was probably in the 25th over, when Ian Bell survived a LBW appeal to Yuvi. India's review appeal was put down as the impact was more than 2.5 meters from the stumps. A technical error, but the ball was surely hitting the stumps, according to the hawk eye.
This let off probably got England the momentum, & both the batsmen punished the Indian bowling. Straus got his hundred & then his 150, as bell got to his half century. at the end of 40 overs, England were well on course of their target with 272 for 2. They needed another 67 runs off the last 10 overs....very very gettable.
Batting powerplay was taken in the 43rd over, with every Indian on the ground begging for a wicket. Zaheer provided with the much needed breakthrough, getting Bell caught by Kohli for an excellent In the very next delivery Zaheer got Strauss out LBW as well...score 281 for 4. Strauss gone for a magnificent 158 Zaheer had brought India back in the match.  With fielders brought in singles became difficult to get & the pressure was back eith England, as the crowd roared. Zaheer in his next over, bowled Collingwood & the game was slowly drifting away from England. All in the spate of 3 overs.....just 5 runs & three crucial wickets. The Powerplay had got England only 25 runs at the cost of 4 crucial wickets. Yardy was the next to go, caught by Sehwag off Patel. Score 307 for 7. In the 49th over, Bresnan took on to Chawla & hit two sixes, but got bowled in the last delivery. A good cameo of 14 from 9 deliveries.
Last over with 14 runs to win. Shahzad & Swann managed 12 off 5 deliveries & needed 2 runs in the last ball. Finally the score ended at 338 for 8....a tie !!!
A match which India just managed to escape with a tie & the English team managed not to win. The best game of the tournament till now.

Man of the Match : Andrew Strauss for his outstanding 158 runs, which brought England an almost improbable victory.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

World Cup 2011 : Sri Lanka vs Pakistan...

Today's match Sri Lanka against Pakistan - all the materials for a humdinger & so it was.
Afridi won the toss for Pakistan & elected to bat on a sun drenched pitch at Colombo, a track that is anticipated to spin later in the day.
Mohammad Hafeez & Ahmed Shehzad strolled in to open the innings. For Sri Lanka, it was surprising to rest Malinga again, especially for such a crucial match. Lets all hope, the pacer's injury is not any concern!!!
The openers were off to a sedate start, before Shehzad nicked one from Perera behind in the 6th over, with the score reading 28 for 1. In came Kamran Akmal, with clear intentions of hitting. On the other side, Hafeez too looked in good form, hitting Kulasekara for a six & four, as the score started to mount. 50 came in the 9th over, as Akmal drove one to the cover fence, with effortless ease. The partnership was looking good for Pakistan, with score at 65 for 1 at end of 10th over....a healthy run rate.
In the 13th over, with spin introduced, against the run of the play, Hafeez was run out.....needlessly.  100 of the innings came in the 19th over, but with spinners at both ends, scoring came down. Kamran, too needlessly danced down the wicket, missed the flight to Herath, to be stumped out for a well made 39.....a good start wasted. By the end of 25 overs the score read 123 for 3, with Younis Khan & Misbah Ul Haq trying to build. Younis got to his 41st fifty, as the score reached 170 for 3 in the 35th over. A good platform to launch, with big hitters yet to come. Quality cricketing shots by both the batters, took the score past 200 in the 39th over. Finally while Misbah reached his fifty, Younis, in a effort to increase the run rate got out to a well made 72 off 76 deliveries. 213 for 4. Kumal Akmal next in did not do much & holed out Murali to Dilshan in the deep. 238 for 5. Captain Afridi next in, with batting power plays on. This improved the scoring a bit, but Afridi went for 16 off 12 deliveries, caught by Dilshan. The innings finally folded for 277 for 6. Misbah remaining unbeaten for a very well made 83 off 91. Certainly a good total for this kind of a match.
Of the bowlers, Mural was his meagre best with 1 for 35 in his 10 overs.

In such a pressure game, the chase would never be easy. Srilankan openers Dilshan & Tharanga got off to a slow start, reaching just 42 runs in 10 overs. The 12th over went for 16 runs off Umar Gul & the score moved to 64, as Afridi introduced spin into the attack. This produced immediate results, as Tharanga pulled one from Hafeez to be caught at mid off in the 15th over for 33 runs. The first wicket had added 76 runs. Dlishan didnt last long either. Afridi bowled him in the 18th over, as the score read 88 for this stage Pakistan were 92 for 2.... Match on. It was now upto Sangakkara & Mahela Jayawardene to build a partnership in the middle. However, that was not to be. Shoaib Akhtar, who had been bowling consistently over 140 kmph in the match, bowled him, & started his aeroplane run!!!. Match slightly tilted towards Pakistan. Next to go was Samaraweera, stumpted Akmal, bowled Afridi. - 96 for 4. 100 came in the 23rd over, as Sanga looked set for a big score. Batting Powerplay taken in the over brought some momentum to the score with 35 runs added. This was aided by some very poor wicket keeping by Akmal who failed two simple stumping chances & Rahman dropped a sitter in the deep.  However, Sangakkara finally holed out in the deep for a well made 49 runs. It was Afridi's 300th ODI wicket...exceptional performance !!!169 for 5 & required run rate more than 9 at this stage. Angela Mathews did his best to improve the run rate, but he too perished to a Afridi delivery holing out to long off. 208 for 6. Stiil 70 required from 38 deliveries. Thisara Perera joined Chamara Silva in the middle. Afridi ended his bowling with a magnificent 4 for 33 in 10 overs. Silva reached his 50 in 73 deliveries. At the end of 45 overs, the score 223 for 6, with 55 runs required from 30 deliveries. Shoaib Akhtar, back in attack gave runs but managed to bowl out Perera....score 232 for 7. Next over & Silva gets stumpted by Kamran off Rehman. Score 232 for 8 & match slipping out of Sri Lanka. Kulasekara tried his best, but his 24 runs of 14 deliveries were not enough & finally it was Pakistan winning by 11 runs. It was Sri Lanka's first loss at home in the World Cup. This was certainly an upset in the tournament. A match that had lived up to its billing.
Afridi & Akhtar were exceptional in bowling getting wickets at crucial stages of the innings, & restricting Sri Lanka to 266 for 9....11 runs short. This Pakistan side is definitely a dangerous team for ths World Cup.

Man of the Match : Shahid Afridi for his brilliant performance with ball, decent batting & solid captaincy under pressure.  

Friday, February 25, 2011

World Cup 2011 : Bangladesh vs Ireland...

A match between two lowly placed teams in the tournament - host Bangladesh against Ireland.

Bangladesh won the toss & elected to bat. The openers Tamim Iqbal & Imrul Kayes got off to a flying start, getting past 50 runs in the 6th over. It was the fastest fifty for any team in this World Cup up till now. But once Kayes fell with the score at 53, it started a downward spiral for the hosts. They kept losing wickets at regular intervals & never got back the grip in the game. There were brief fight backs by Mushfiqur Rehman, Shakib Hassan, Raqibul Hasan & Naeem Islam, all of whom got a start, but could not build on the same. The innings limped & crawled & finally ended at 205 all out in the last over. Having won the toss & electing to bat, one would have expected the hosts to put up a big total, given the fact that they started off so well. They certainly should have reached a 250 mark, considering, that were playing on home turf & were on top of the game, initially.
The bowling for the Irish team was quite disciplined & Botha, ended up with figures of 3 for 32 runs, while Dockrell was very economic, with 2 for 23 in his full quota of 10 overs.

Ireland in reply, could not capitalise on the low target. Probably the occasion got to them, as the Bangladeshi fielders approached to defend with gusto. By the 10th over the visitors were reduced to 36 for 2, with Captain Porterfield back in the pavillion. The O'Brien brothers, NJ & KJ, along with Botha tried their best to put up a fight & take their Ireland to victory, but, fell short, as wickets kept falling at regular intervals. Just midway through their innings, crossing 100 for 4, Ireland looked in control, but only briefly. With the O'Brien brothers out, the fight went out as well, & the innings finally folded at 178, in the 45th over.
Bangladesh had avenged their defeat to Ireland in the previous World Cup. Shafiul Islam destroyed the Irish batting line up with impressive figures of 4 for 21 in 8 overs. This has been the best figures by a Bangladeshi bowler in the World Cups till now. The bowlers had held their line & nerves to contain the visitors. They actually brought Bangladesh in the match, after the batsmen had lost the initiative early on. The crowd was obviously boisterous & thunderous in applause.

Man of the Match : Tamim Iqbal for his 44 in 43 balls for Bangladesh. Not a good choice, according to me. Tamim got out in the 12th over of the match, with score reading 68 for 3. Not a happy position at all.
I would have chosen Shafiul Islam who destroyed the Irish batting with his 4 for 21, as that's what brought in the victory for the hosts.

World Cup 2011 : Australia vs New Zealand...

This match was billed to be a cracker - Australia against New Zealand, but it finally ended in a whimper. Both had won their first match rather convincingly, & their age old rivalry down under has been a folklore over the years.
Ponting won the toss & put the Kiwis to bat. McCullum started in whirlwind fashion, as always, but again, like in most of the times, he got out trying to up the scoring. 16 runs off 12 deliveries would make a good strike rate, but not enough for the team. Wickets tumbled thereafter quite regularly, & by the 17th over, New Zealand were tottering at a dismal 73 for 6. Nathan McCullum, Vettori & How put up some resistance & managed to take the total to 206 finally. Certainly a below par performance. Its surprising to see such a good one day batting side on paper, crumble so easily. I would say, lack of application & resolve. They have been quite pathetic over the last few months.
For the Aussies, the bowling was sharp & accurate. Lee was right on the target, but had only one wicket to show. However, Johnson picked up 4 & Tait claimed 3 wickets.

In reply, Australia started fluently with both Haddin & Watson getting into the groove. The bowling did not have enough bite & the target was simple. By the end of 10 overs, the Aussies were sitting pretty at 74 for no loss. The batting by these two continued to prosper & both the openers registered their half centuries in even time. First to go was Haddin, against the run of play. He holed out to Franklin off Bennett for a well made 55. The score read 133 for 1. Probably, his dismissal got Watson distracted as well, & two balls later, he was bowled by a slower. The score reading 133 for 2......two big wickets in one over, but maybe too late in the day for the Kiwis. Next on crease were the Captain Ponting & his deputy Clarke. Ponting however didn't last long & was stupidly stumped out for 12. However there were no more rude shocks for the Aussies, & they scampered home to win the match with 7 wickets & 96 balls to spare. It was a resounding win in the end.

Man of the Match : Mitchell Johnson for his figures of 4 wickets for 33 runs.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

World Cup 2011 : South Africa vs West Indies...

First real big match of the tournament at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, New Delhi - firm favourites South Africa against former Champions West Indies.

Greame Smith won the toss & decided to put the Windies into bat. His decision payed off almost immediately, as the flamboyant Gayle got out in the 1st over itself to an innocuous spin of Botha, with score reading 2 for1. However, the Windies did not crumble under this huge setback & Darren Bravo(cousin to legendary Brian Lara) along with Devon Smith started building the innings. Bravo, rated by many as the next big thing in the Calypso batting order, hit out hard at the Proteas bowling attack & got to his half century with a huge six off Imran Tahir in the 16th over. However, once Bravo fell in the 24th over for a brilliant 73, Smith & Sarvan fell in quick succession, leaving the Windies lurching at 120 for 4 in the 27th over. Dwayne Bravo & Chanderpaul took on from there to resurrect the innings. Just when things were getting under control Bravo got run out to an impossible run, with the score at 179 for 5 in the 38th over. He had contributed a well made 40 off 37 deliveries. Chanderpaul was the next to go, trying to force the pace of the innings. At the end of the 42nd over the score read 212 for 6. The Windies had 142 dot balls played till then, which is almost half the total deliveries - not a healthy sign at all.
The innings lost momentum from here & wickets fell in regular intervals. Pollard on whom a lot depended got out to Steyn for a duck & the innings finally ended for a score of 222 in the 48th over, a double Nelson, in cricketing parlance. The last 5 wickets fell for just 13 runs in the space of 6 overs. Barring Darren Bravo, Devon Smith, Chanderpaul & Dwayne Bravo, all of whom got good starts but could not convert into a big score, all others failed. For the Proteas, Steyn & Imran Tahir did the damage with the ball. Tahir, the spin surprise from South Africa on his debut match, did very well to end with figures of 4 for 41.

In reply, South Africa started in cavalier fashion, but soon got into trouble. Amla gone for 14 & Kallis for 4, with the score reading a dismal 20 for 2 in 5 overs. Two top batsmen back in the dressing room & the chokers tag looming large. Greame Smith got into the sheet anchor's role & AB de Villiers took on the attack, moving the score to 73 for 2 at the end of 15 overs, the partnership adding 53 runs in 10 overs. The partnership extended to 119 runs, when Smith was bowled by Pollard for a well made 45 runs.
Next man in was Duminy, & he too got into the groove soon enough. The batting looked easy, with the Windies attack looking dazed  & listless. With Dwayne Bravo leaving the field, after injuring his knee, Darren Sammy as a captain looked completely out of ideas.  A light drizzle stopped the game for a while, with South Africa well ahead in the D/L average.
Anyways, when play resumed, AB strolled into his century in the 39th over. It turned out to be the fastest century by a South African...surprising !!! There seemed to be no tearing hurry as the batsmen preferred to stay at the crease & get in more batting practice.
In the end, it was a comfortable win for the Proteas by 7 wickets with more than 7 overs to spare. AB remained unbeaten with a match winning 107, with Duminy keeping company with a well made 42.
For the Windies, the bowling looks quite ordinary & may be their bane in the competition. Its only their batting which might win them matches, but then Gayle & Pollard will have to come good along with Sarvan & the young rookies.

Man of the Match : AB de Villiers for a brilliant century.

World Cup 2011 : Pakistan vs Kenya...

This match was between the eternal mavericks of the game Pakistan & minnows Kenya. Winning the toss, Afridi wisely chose to bat first, & his batters did not disappoint him. Though the openers fell early, with score reading a dismal 12 for 2 in 7 overs, the middle order took over firmly. The initial nervousness was dealt with & Kamran Akmal along with veteran Younis Khan took centre stage & runs started flowing. after them Misbah along with Umar Akmal, made merry of the Kenyan attack & the run tempo kept climbing. In the end it was a massive 317 for 7 in the full quota of 50 overs. All the four middle order getting half centuries, with Umar Akmal topping with a breezy 71 off just 52 deliveries. Extras played a big role with a total of 46 vital runs. Kenyans had been rather tardy in this.

The reply by the Kenyans was poor as expected. This team lacks a solid player in the middle to calm nerves & build partnerships. The innings never took off, as wickets kept falling intermittently & within 33 overs it was all over. The Kenyans were all out for a paltry 112. the match was over. Afridi, who had a very brief stay during batting ran amok the Kenyan batting order with his fastish spin & claimed 5 wickets for just 16 runs in 8 overs.

Afridi looked cool & in control as a captain. The bowlers bowled well & the batsmen in the middle order look to be in form. This team is capable of surprises for sure.

Man of the Match : Umar Akmal for the match top score of 71 runs.  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

World Cup 2011 : England vs Netherlands...

Today's match between England & minnows Netherlands turned out to be a near nightmare for the Barmy Army. Nagpur, also known as the Orange City, was truly Orange in colour today.
Netherlands won the toss & decided to bat in. The openers were a tad circumspect at the beginning, but as the innings progressed, so did the spirits. After the two openers departed, the centre stage was taken over by Cooper & Doeschate. Cooper departed for a well made 47, with the total at 136 for 3 in the 29th over. It was match on from there. Doeschate dug into the English bowling, & along with Grooth & later with Borren tore apart the attack. Batting Powerplay yielded 50 runs, as Netherlands prospered. Doeschate got a well deserved hundred, which included three towering sixes & the innings finally ended at 292 for 6 in the full quota of 50 overs. The English fielding was dreadful. they leaked runs & missed sitters. Bowling was all over the place, barring Swann, who did get some respect from the batsmen & everyone else was punished. The Dutch did pack a surprise for the English fans.

England in reply started purposefully, with Strauss & Peiterson stroking well. It was good to see them take things positively, & at the end of 10 overs, the score read 54 for no loss. Peiterson perished for 39 in the 18th over & Strauss left in the 30th over for a well made 88, the score reading 166 for 2 at that stage. Trott, Bell & then Colingwood & Bopara ensured that England cruised home with six wickets & 8 deliveries to spare. It was a close run for the English fans. With four overs left, they still had 33 runs to get & it could have been an upset, if the Netherlands had a quality bowler in the death overs. For the Dutch team, Doeschate excelled again with the ball after his batting displays, & claimed 2 for 47 in his quota of 10 overs. A truly splendid all round performance, which had England on the mat for the major part of the match. A close shave for the Barmy Army.

Man of the Match : Ten Doeschate for his scintillating century & all round performance. Truly deserving.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

World Cup 2011 : Australia vs Zimbabwe...

The reigning Champions, Australia got off to a steady start in this World Cup campaign. Against Zimbabwe, Ponting won the toss & elected to bat, wanting his batters to get as much practice as possible. The Zimbabweian attack was rather efficient & it kept the Aussies on a tight lease, & scoring was not easy. Th openers, Watson & Haddin looked solid, but had difficulty in stroking freely. Later even Ponting, though at ease on teh crease could not get a tempo, which has characterised the Aussies over the years.
In fact, till about the 38th over, the scoring rate was hovering around 4.66 mark.....much below the expectations. I the last 12 odd overs, however Clarke, looking in good nick, along with late middle order batsmen, took charge & mounted the score finally to 262 for six wickets. All the batsmen had got a look in & had crossed into double figures. However, from Zimbabwe perspective, they did not allow the Champions off to a flier.

In reply, Zimbabwe, as expected, struggled against the pace battery of Tait, Lee & Johnson. The score read a dismal 96 for six midway through the innings. Barring some stiff resistance from Cremer, top scoring with 37, Williams with 28 & Utseya with 24, there was hardly any menaingful contribution. The inings folded at 171 in the 47th over, with Johnson picking up 4 for just 19 runs.

Overall, a satisfying & a predictable win by 91 runs for the Aussies.

Man of the match : Shane Watson for his 79 runs in 92 deliveries at the top of the order for Aussies.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

World Cup 2011 : Sri Lanka vs Canada...

Sri Lanka started their World Cup campaign today, in cavalier fashion against Canada. Winning the toss & electing to bat, almost all the top order batsmen got a good measure of the wicket & made useful contributions. The Canadian pace attack did bowl spiritedly, but it was too much for them to contain the Lankans.
While Dilshan & Tharanga at the top of the order, batted with ease, putting on 63 for the opening partnership, Sangakkara & Mahela were in a punishing mood. Both ripped apart the Canadian attack in gay abandon. Mahela got to his century of just 81 deliveries & Sanga fell short by eight runs, falling for 92 off 87 deliveries. Mahela, incidentally bettered Sanath Jayasuriya's fastest century in world Cup record, which in itself was very credible. In the end, the hosts had piled up 332 runs for the loss of 7 wickets. Non of the bowlers could make any impact on the Lankan batsmen.

Chasing a total beyond their reach, even in dreams, Canada suffered early as expected, & were down to 3 for 12 runs in the first four overs itself. At the end of 15 overs, the score read a miserable 36 for 3. Captain cum wicketkeeper, Asish Bagai, was the lone man fighting at one end with Jimmy Hansra barely managing to stay at the crease. Wickets kept falling at regular intervals, but it was good to see Canada fighting it out with their limited capabilities.
30th over brought some excitement as well, as Rizwan Cheema hit Murali for a towering six & a four. He kept his pre match promise of hitting out & ended with a little spirited cameo of 37 runs from just 35 deliveries. The innings finally folded for 122 runs in the 37 over & the Lankans had registered their win by a massive 210 runs.
Amongst the bowlers, Perera & Kulasekara picked 3 apiece, while Murali returned with 2, though I would say that the famed spinners, did look quite rusty. Hopefully they would pick up form as the tournament moves.

Man of the match : Mahela Jayawardene for his brilliant 100 off 81 deliveries.

World Cup 2011 : New Zealand vs Kenya

In Ist of the glaringly one sided matches, expected in this tournament, the Kiwis thrashed minnows Kenya by 10 wickets at the Chepauk Stadium, Chennai.
Winning the toss & deciding to bat first, Kenya could not even sustain half of their quota of 50 overs, as they collapsed in a heap for just 69 runs in 23.5 overs. Southee, Bennett & Oram simply steamrolled over the batsmen, & it was all over in less than two hours.
In reply the New Zealand openers, McCullum & Guptill were in no mood to show any mercy & the paltry target was completed in 8 overs.....
In probably their quickest World Cup victories, the match was over in less than 3 hours.

Man of the match : HK Bennett for his 4 wickets in 5 overs for 16 runs.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

World Cup 2011 : India vs Bangladesh...

The World Cup 2011 got going with co hosts India & Bangladesh locking horns on the opening tie.
The Indians were clearly hungry for revenge, carrying the scars of the previous World Cup debacle, when minnows Bangladesh had upset them.

Put into bat, both Sehwag & Tendulkar were off to a flier & looked completely at ease with the bowling attack. Tendulkar got out needlessly run out with total at 69. In came Gambhir & he too settled in nicely, with Sehwag clearly blazing at the other end. Gambhir left in the 24th over with score having just gone beyond 150 mark, & India maintaining a very healthy run rate. Next man in was Virat Kohli, who had earned his place ahead of Raina, with his consistency over the past few months. He showed his class in the middle & along with Sehwag got into a run feast, as the hapless bowlers had no clue to this hurricane partnership. By the time the partnership was broken, they had added more than 200 runs.
Towards the fag end of the innings, Sehwag got out to a rather tired shot missing out on what could have been a possible double century for him....he left for a brilliant 175, laced with 14 fours & 5 sixes. With hardly any deliveries left, Virat managed to scramble to his century.......his fifth of the career, but his first in the World Cup & that too on his debut match....exceptional indeed. Viru had kept his promise of a blitzkrieg & Virat had ably assisted him. All the Indian batsmen looked at ease on the pitch. The total had swelled to a massive 370 runs for India.

Bangladesh in reply started their batting in cavalier fashion, with nothing to lose, as Tamim & Kayes got going. It was a flier, that took even the mighty Indians by surprise. Srishant was erratic as usual, 24 runs off his 3rd over. Before anyone realised, the minnows had put up 50 runs in just 4.5overs, with the crowd roaring in frenzy at every shot. The shots were erratic, but found boundaries, & the score kept piling up. Munaf finally got Imrul Kayes out, played on for a well made 34, in the 7th over.
Dhoni brought in Bhajji for spin in the 12th over, with the score at 77, as the pacers had little impact on the batsmen. Only Zaheer, sporting a new streaked hair style, looked in control. Bhajji troubled the batsmen with his fastish spin & runs for a while looked hard to come by. At the end of 15 overs, Bangladesh were 93 for 1, not bad, when you consider the huge run chase they had to ordeal. 100 came in the 17th over, but boundaries started to dry out & runs came in a trickle. The first 50 runs had come in 30 deliveries, but the 2nd 50 took 69 deliveries, as the required run rate kept mounting with every dot balls. A splendid stumping by Dhoni of Bhajji, got Junaid out for 35, with the score at 129, bringing in the skipper, Shakib Hassan. At the halfway mark, with spin at both ends, the score read 137 for 2, with asking rate almost touching 10...... a near impossible task. 50 for Tamim came in 70 odd deliveries...too slow for his kind of flamboyance & the task at hand.
Against the run of play, as usual, Munaf claimed his 2nd wicket as Tamim, in an attempt to hoick, ended up with a simple catch to Yuvi, as the players broke for the much needed drinks. 188 for 3 in the 33rd over. The skipper, Shakib finally fell for a wonderful 55 off just 50 deliveries, as the score read 234 for 4 in the 39th over.....the asking more than 13.....Finally Munaf ended with 4 wickets & Zaheer with 2.
The innings lasted the whole of 50 overs for a score of 283 for 9, which in itself was commendable, considering that you had such a mammoth total to chase. Six of the top batsmen got into double figures, & they never gave up the fight. I personally reckon, if they had batted first & put up a score in access of 300, which they looked good to do, it would have been a better contest. They sorely missed Ashraful in batting & Mortaza in bowling for sure. I believe, if the Bangladeshis can carry this spirit, they may surprise quite a few & make it to the last eight, which in itself would be more then commendable. They should bat first & put up a formidable total, after which pry open the opponents.

Man of the match : Virender Sehwag for his scintillating 175. As he said in the post match reveiw, revenge taken.

For India, a win by 87 runs in the opening tie is encouraging, with batsmen & bowlers, both coming good. With six days to rest before the next match, hopefully the niggles in the camp would be sorted out. Clearly the favourites enroute to the last eight.

Monday, February 14, 2011

India vs Australia - Warm up Match, Blore 13th Feb'11

ICC World Cup Cricket, 2011 is just round the corner, & I am here to assure you all that, I shall evaluate & assimilate my critical it or not !!

Today was the warm up match at Bangalore....the big one between India & Australia. One the defending Champions, & the other, the strongest contender, this time around.

India won the toss & predictably elected to bat, resting Sachin & Zaheer....a good move. Dhoni ensuring that there are no freak injuries for his mainstays in batting & bowling.
However, while Sehwag looked good in patches, & scored a sedate 54, hitting the first six of the match, but got out immediately after. The much vaunted, formidable Indian batting was rather vulnerable & brittle, limping on to 150 in the 33rd over,.......eight players back in the dressing room. For the ninth wicket partnership, Ashwin & Pathan were watchful & managed to put up a decent fight, adding  49 invaluable runs. For the last wicket, even Nehra put up a brave front, contributing 19 runs. Ashwin was particularly impressive with his intent to fight, scoring an unbeaten 25 runs. India struggled past 200 in the 42nd over & eventually ended with 214. Gambhir, Kohli, Yuvi, Raina, Dhoni, all big names failing miserably. Pathan survived two simple catches behind, & made the Aussies count briefly. He hit Hussey for two mighty sixes before holing out in the deep for a well made 32. However, by any standards, it was a disappointing display of batting in front of a boisterous crowd. Brett Lee was surprisingly fast & accurate, ably assisted by John Hastings, Bolinger & Kreiza. Ponting could not have asked for more. However the innings had 29 extras of which 21 wides, something Ponting can ill afford in the thick of the tournament.

Aussies in their reply started very confidently against the pace attack of Nehra, Srishant & Patel, with Watson & Paine stroking with ease. When Watson perished for a quickfire 33, it was already 51 runs in the 8th over. Ponting & Paine then took the score to 118, in just 21 overs, & it seemed like the match done & dusted for the Indians. Its at this stage, that Yuvi broke the partnership. The ball was spinning & turning & the Aussie line up just inexplicably panicked. Rash strokes became the norm, as Piyush & Bhajji ran amok amongst the wickets & Ponting could only watch in dismay at the other end. When he too was smartly stumpted by Dhoni for a well made 57, the Aussies were staring at the barrel, with 7 down for 166 in the 35th over. In the space of another 19 deliveries it was all over. Aussies were shot out for a paltry 176 & India had won the contest by a healthy 38 runs. Piyush had scalped 4 wickets, while Bhajji had chipped in with another 3. The bowlers had yet again bailed India out from a tight situation.

While this was a warm up match, both teams would be worried with their batting performance. In a serious game, this could well turn out to be a spoiler of sorts.

It looks like an interesting contest ahead, as the Championship gets started on coming Saturday, with India taking on Bangladesh.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Love still aches within.....

Sunday afternoons I normally spend lazying over some movie on TV & today ZStudio was showing "Love Story", an epic written by Eric has been one of my favourites, over so many years. She had presented me with the book, a year before she left us. A poignant tale of two young souls in love & their journey through the roughs of life....the boy, Oliver Barrett, from an excessively wealthy family & the girl, Jennifer Calligiari, from a struggling background. Oliver & his father, the rich baron would never see eye to eye, with huge egos coming into play. Oliver walks out of his riches to marry Jennifer, willing to rough it out with the world. The differences in culture, the challenges of settling down, the conflicts, the girl working for an earning, while the boy studied Law....but Love prevailing.
The story however has a very heart wrenching ending, with Jenny being detected with Cancer(those days it had virtually no cure), & slowly drifting to death, as Oliver watches & endures with frustration. To manage medical expenses, he even pushes himself to go to his father & ask for 5000 USD, much that he hated himself to do so. And finally Jenny his arms, secured & loved....but life snuffed out !! A story worth reading for anyone in deep, so poignant.

The movie took me back in times....memories came flashing by.....painful memories. A story that was so strikingly similar & dreadfully painful.
We were so much in many much to look forward to, and then she left me....or rather Leukemia took her away. I could only watch helplessly, as she endured pain,..... fought bravely for two months...... eventually the dark death slowly but surely engulfed her into oblivion. Her going away had made me silent....for a very long time(even today, I drift into inexplicable silence). Those were dark days.....hollow days......bottomless days. I left home...drifted from one place to another, over years....& honestly, I guess, am still drifting.
I have got into work, travelled to newer locations, met newer people, got into relationships, but somewhere, the pain remained, the void retained. The ache very much there, within the deepest recesses of my heart......alive & throbbing. Nothing has been able to remove the ache...people have come & gone..... relations in & out......situations good & bad.....but the pain has remained like a dull throb.
We were so committed, so much full, flowery & musical in Love...hardly a dull moment. Maybe too colourful & charming to be true !!!! A fairy Love story nipped in the bud.
"I miss you......& I miss you so much that it really Sorry, I could not stop the inevitable. Today there is cure & I can afford it, but you are gone....why????? I do feel sorry...I do feel let down !!!"....& I can hear you saying, "Love means never having to say you're Sorry........"(famous lines from the book)

Your Love still makes me Live & never say no to Life......, the moist eyes promise you a smile..through long as I breathe.....

The forest, dark & deep, but I still have promises to keep.....& miles to go before I sleep (Robert Frost)!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mubarak Ho....Egypt celebrates Liberation, as Hosni steps down !!

In a historic moment, just a while ago, Human wave swept Tahrir Square & the celebrations broke all over Egypt, as the 30 years of ruling finally ended.....President Mubarak Hosni stepped down after staving off protesters for almost three weeks. News channels all over the world were glued on to the event, as jubilant Egyptians are celebrating in unison, the end of 30 years of tyranny & probably the first steps of a democracy. The military has taken over the controls of the Govt, immediately after the announcements were made by the Vice President, to ensure that law & order is under control. It is believed that General Elections would take place in September !!!

Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the protests over the last few days, erupted in jubilations, with people shouting "Egypt is free".
For 30 years, Hosni Mubarak had ruled the country, which has been considered to the most powerful in the Arab world. He had taken control of the Govt in 1981, & had held onto the supreme powers till today....30 years of tyranny. On Oct 6th 1981, ( I was just out of school then !!!!), Egypt was stunned into silence, as the then President, Anwar Sadat was brutally assassinated by a daring right wing Arab Group, during a military parade, in front of everyone. Hosni Mubarak, then the Vice President, who was injured in the attack, but had survived, was the immediate & an automatic successor.
To his credit, he ruled well & throughout the 1980s, he ensured affordable housing, clothing & medicine for the masses. He was also straight & hard with wrong doing officials & ministers, & ensured proper discipline. He allied well with US & was instrumental in bringing some sense of sstability in the Middle East. During Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, he helped US with military alliance & as a reward, got debts to the tune of 14 Billion USD written off. It was a massive achievement.
However, he became more & more authoritarian & curbed freedom of expression, leading to general people going against him. He survived assassination attempts six times, as people started showing hatred against him.
Over the last seven eight years, things started going out of hand & people movements against Mubarak gained momentum. Mubarak was no more welcome in Egypt. He gradually was losing the mass support. People were demanding an immediate change. From a popular President he had become a hated dictator !!!!

Over the last month or so the writing was on the wall. Protesters gathered & swelled in size & zeal. Mass demonstrations at Tahrir Square in Cairo was symbolic & crowd started displaying placards depicting him as Hitler, as Mubarak refused to give in.
The Leaders of various countries have welcomed this move, as Mubarak finally stepped down today, giving in to the nation wide uprising against him. Thankfully he made an exit before bloodbath broke out....
Mubarak Ho(sni).....Time to Go.......

Egypt will wake up to a liberated Good Morning tomorrow. Lets welcome the ushering of Democracy ahead.....