Saturday, October 15, 2016

New Zealand and India to begin the ODI series Fight at Dharamsala

India blanked the Kiwi's comfortably in the three match test series; riding high on stellar performances by R Ashwin, Virat Kohli and Pujara; among others who also made notable contributions at important junctures. Now the focus shifts to the shorter formats of the game and the excitement starts at the picturesque locale of Dharamsala which is all set to host the first ODI of the five match ODI series between India and New Zealand.

MS Dhoni returns to lead a side high on confidence but also a side which will have plenty of new faces from the one which we saw in the test matches. Ashwin, Jadeja, Pujara are all missing while Raina will miss the first ODI with viral fever. The injuries to Dhawan and KL Rahul has opened up a slot at the top of the order and Ajinkya Rahane might well get an opportunity at the top of the order.

The spin department might not miss Ashwin and Jadeja much as Amit Mishra and Axar Patel are there to give cover and will be eager to perform and show that they are quality too. The fast bowling will be bolstered by Jasprit Bumrah who will be aiming to get his pin point yorkers working in the death overs.

Over all, this Indian outfit might be missing some regular players from the squad but still bears a very strong appearance and the Kiwi's will have to play out of their skins to emerge victorious in the ODI series. They will need Williamson and Taylor to fire in the batting department and hope that the returning Corey Anderson along with Neesham and Ronchi will do the job in the middle order.

The Kiwi's have plenty slow bowling options as they showcased at the World T20 earlier this year and I feel that the ODI's will be a keenly contested series. If the tracks are batting friendly than I don't see India beating New Zealand with this squad as the Black Caps have an explosive batting line up but if the tracks assist the slower bowlers and are sporting enough then it will be a fun series which will see various mouth watering battles over the course of the next month or so.

Who do you think has an upper hand in this ODI series? Any scoreline predictions?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

DilScoopExit - Dilshan Announces His ODI & T20I Retirement

Tillakaratne Dilshan, one of the most flamboyant cricketers of recent times has announced his retirement from ODI and T20I cricket at a ripe age of 39. He was a gifted stroke-maker and did all that was asked of him on the field. He is the inventor of the famed 'Dilscoop' and his booming cover drives were a treat to watch. Despite his age, he remains one of the best fielders in the Lankan side. With Sangakkara and Jayawardena already hanging their boots in the recent past, Dilshan's exit will surely leave a big hole in the Sri Lankan side.

He will play his last ODI against Australia on the 28th of August in Dambulla and will finally bow out after playing the two T20I's scheduled for early next month against the same opposition.

He was a brilliant batsman, a canny off spinner and combined with his panther-like reflexes anywhere in the field, he was every captains dream - Dilshan you will be sorely missed! Thank you for all the memories, All the Best for your future!!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Kusal Mendis - The Rising Superstar of Cricket

I first saw Kusal Mendis play when he made his debut against the West Indies late last year. He did not have a special debut but from whatever little I had seen about this young man convinced me that he would go on to represent Sri Lanka for a long time in all the three formats of the game. Crisp straight drives, steely flicks, venomous cut and a free flowing youthful technique made him a joy to watch.

He occupied the vital number 3 spot left vacant by one of the all time test greats, Kumar Sangakkara and has left his own indelible mark by first playing a couple of attractive innings on the recently concluded tour of England. Lahiru Thirimanne, another young man with oodles of talent but one who has failed to make the cut at the highest level made way for the young Kusal and he has grabbed his opportunity with both hands.

On a treacherous Pallekele pitch which afforded assistance to both the spinners and the quick bowlers, playing against the number one ranked team in test cricket and facing bowlers like Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon, this 21 year old batsman played the innings of a lifetime as he lifted Sri Lanka from a precarious position to power them to a huge score. Considering that the Lankan first innings ended at a meagre 117 followed by 203 by Australia in their first dig and Lanka managed 177 (without Mendis's contribution of 176) and finally Australia in the last innings who were bowled out for just 161 - Kusal's 176 stands out like a beacon amidst havoc all around. He showed tremendous self confidence and assurance during his stay and got his runs at a fair clip. Yes, there was some luck involved here and there but on a pitch such as the one that the match was being panned out on, that is expected.

He reached his hundred with a slog swept six off the Aussie number one spinner, Nathan Lyon and did not celebrate like he had brought the house down. Measured and focused, he held his arms aloft and got back to doing his job again. The numerous post match interviews that followed displayed the same calm demeanour, and that was, for me, the hallmark of a great in the making. We see young men today celebrate like there is no tomorrow even after reaching a small milestone and here was this 21 year old kid having just led his team to a monumental victory displaying extreme maturity after having played one of the best test innings ever.

I hope that he can carry on from here and go strength to strength and delight cricket fans all over with his fluid technique and crisp strokes. At a time when Sri Lanka are struggling to find their feet as they cope with a slew of retirements of their all time greats, young men like Mendis and Sandakan must bring a smile to the Lankan supporters on whom the onus now lies to carry forward the legacy of the tiny island!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Anil Kumble - The New Head Coach of Team India

Anil Kumble - The New Head Coach of Team India will look to impart all his knowledge and expertise and hopefully will form a strong bond with the aggressive Kohli!!

Here's wishing Jumbo all the best in his new role!!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Sunil Narine takes 6-27 on his Return, Helps WI beat SA by 4 Wickets!!

Sunil Narine mesmerised the South African batting line up as he snared up a Career Best 6-27 and helped West Indies beat South Africa by 4 wickets in the first match of the Tri Series also involving Australia!!

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