Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lankan Tigers Look to Hunt Down England

Sri Lanka vs England, Westpac Stadium in Wellington on 1st March 2015 - Match Preview

The Sri Lankans are on an upward curve after beating Afghanistan in a tough chase and then dismantling Bangladesh to shreds at the MCG. England, on the other hand have had a nice little confidence booster against Scotland which they won convincingly after they were were trashed by the Kiwi team in Wellington.

The Sri Lankan batting got a big boost as both Dilshan and Sangakkara slammed quick centuries and shared an unbroken 200 run partnership against Bangladesh. The classy Mahela Jayawardene had already announced his hunger as he guided the Lankans to a win against Afghanistan with a calm century of his own. Dilshan will be partnered by Lahiru Thirimanne who has also made two half centuries in the three games although he was very very lucky against Bangladesh who missed several chances to get him out. Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera are also in good form and can hit the big sixes in the final ten overs.

Kumar Sangakkara will look to repeat his last match performance against England

Lasith Malinga is slowly getting in to his rhythm and he bowled reasonably well against Bangladesh. The ball that got Tamim out was an absolute ripper and the yorkers that he known for were finding their target. Suranga Lakmal has been a revelation and he has bowled superbly in all of the Sri Lankan games thus far. Rangana Herath provides a steady and calming influence in the middle overs with his stifling left arm spin. I think that Sri Lanka must drop Karunaratne for this game and go in with Senanayake as he has a very record against the England and is a brilliant fielder and can wield the long handle too if required. Mathews, Perera and Dilshan provide the part time option.

The England batting got a bit their self confidence and pride back as Moeen Ali and Bell first put on a steady opening partnership and then Morgan also getting some runs down the order. Though James Taylor has not fired since his opening blast against the Australians and Joe Root has also looked a bit rusty. Jos Buttler also needs to come to the party in the late overs and he is a very capable hitter down in the slog overs.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad were expected by many to be a force to be reckoned with on the pitches down under and in the swinging and seaming pitches in New Zealand. But they have largely disappointed as they have appeared to be rudderless and have extracted no significant swing or seam movement. Steve Finn took a hat trick against the Australians but was ineffective and was carted to all parts of the ground by McCullum, he bounced back against the Scots and took 4 wickets. Woakes has been the only one who has bowled with some sort of a control and he has got the rewards to show for his hard work. Mooen Ali and Joe Root will shoulder the spin bowling responsibility but how effective they will be against the nifty footwork of the Lankan tigers remains to be seen.

Key Battles: Sri Lanka Vs England

Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara vs James Anderson and Stuart Broad

Mahela Jayawardene vs Chris Woakes

Rangana Herath vs Joe Root and Eoin Morgan

This match promises to be a cracker as the loser will have to face either India or South Africa in the Quarter Finals. The jostling for positions will make the match very important and in the larger scheme of things, the outcome of this clash will play a significant part on how far the teams will progress in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

Kiwis Edge Out Australia in a Nail Biter in Auckland!

Australia vs New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland: Feb 28, 2015 - Match Review

New Zealand beat Australia by 1 wicket.

Who says low scoring matches are boring, who says that more 4's and 6's means more fun? I have for long believed that low scoring matches are much more interesting than when a team rakes up 400 and the pressure of that high score leaves the chasing side crumbling under pressure. Australia and New Zealand provided a match that ebbed and flowed and rose and fell like waves of a churning and turbulent sea. This match was always billed to be a classic and both the teams gave us a match to remember for a very long time!

The match started with both the teams a bit nervous as Tim Southee sprayed it around trying to locate his radar and Australia raced to 30 in the third over. Finch had just deposited Southee for a six straight over his head but was bowled the very next delivery trying to repeat the shot. Watson joined Warner and he struggled early on. Southee continued to leak runs up front but Boult was economical and found his line and length. McCullum turned to the experience of Daniel Vettori to put a cap on the scoring rate and he responded beautifully by controlling his pace and with subtle variations of flight. Watson would soon succumb to the pressure and hole out and when Southee, changing ends pinged back Warner to win an lbw decision the Australians had lost two in two and were 80-3 in the 13th over.

Michael Clarke and Steven Smith were entrusted with the job of resurrecting the Aussie innings but Smith departed soon to the guile's of Vettori again. Brendon McCullum, the most aggressive captain of the modern day then brought back his ace spearhead Trent Boult and he responded to the call by a brilliantly blinding display of bowling. If Tim Southee had ripped apart the English a few days ago, today was the turn of Boult who left the Aussie batsmen confounded. Boult cleaned up Maxwell and Marsh in the same over, both playing on to their stumps as uncertain foot movements led to their downfall. Clarke soon followed as he gave a simple catch to short cover off the rampaging Boult. He would soon dispatch the two left armers in the Australian team, Johnson to a brilliant catch by Williamson and Starc to an absolute peach that bowled him neck and crop. Haddin put on a fighting 45 for the last wicket with pat Cummins to lend some respectability to their total but the Australians had finished with a subpar score of 151. Boult finished his second spell with magical figures of 5-3-3-5

New Zealand again came out to bat before the lunch break and Brendon again went in to an overdrive against the pace of Starc and Johnson. He carved pitched up deliveries over mid-off, cover and point regions. The Aussie bowlers pitched it up to find some swing but the only swing that was found was off the bat of McCullum as he flayed them to all parts of the ground reminiscent off his innings against the English last week. Clarke soon switched to plan B and instructed Johnson to bowl short at the rampaging McCullum. The field was set for that and the first ball hit the Kiwi skipper flush in his arm. Ouch!! That was a painful blow and though he hit some more fours but he was quite ginger in his movements after that blow. McCullum departed in the 8th over after hitting 50 off just 24 balls and his pyrotechnics ensured that they were almost 80 by that time.

But if New Zealand believed that they could have it easy against their hardnosed neighbors then they were in for a shock and a little collapse of their own. Starc clean bowled Ross Taylor and Grant Elliot either side of the lunch break to set hearts fluttering in the packed stands of the Eden Park and giving a glimmer of hope to the Australian fans. Corey Anderson and Kane Williamson took the score to 131 but Corey was tentative throughout his stay. He gave a catch off Maxwell looking for a release and then Starc had Ronchi caught by Haddin. When Vettori went for a duck the match was still in control of the Kiwis as they needed only 7 runs with 3 wickets in the bank. Johnson bowled a maiden and then Clarke tossed the ball to Starc once again. Williamson took a single off the second ball and left Milne with 4 balls to survive. Starc produced two high class yorkers to dismiss Milne and Southee off successive deliveries and New Zealand were suddenly 146 for 9 with 6 still needed for a victory. Out walked Boult, the hero with the ball for New Zealand and he somehow kept out the two deliveries. Williamson nonchalantly picked up the first ball off the next over by Pat Cummins back over his head to seal the game by a wicket.

The Kiwi players pose with the Chappel-Hadlee trophy after beating 
Australia by a solitary wicket in Auckland

With this win, barring a stunning reversal in fortunes, New Zealand are almost sure to top the Pool A. Australia, well they still have a lot to do as they have already dropped a point against Bangladesh, a game which was washed out. This was a match, which everyone expected the batsmen to dominate because of the short straight boundaries but classic swing bowling from both sides brought the batsmen to ground. Boult and Starc were the stand out performers though Vettori, McCullum and Williamson all had their say in the final result as well!

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

Get a Better Car with Quikr Nxt

I recently wanted to replace my existing Zen car with something better. That car had served me for over seven years, and although it was still in a good condition, I just wanted to change and upgrade to a better and newer car. A friend of mine suggested to me to use Quikr as I can put my Zen car on sale and can at the same time look out for a car of my choice there as well.

I immediately put up an ad on Quikr regarding my car where I posted the description and all the necessary details of the car. I also put up my telephone number and e-mail id so that the prospective buyers could contact me. But over the next few days I complained to my pal that most of the calls were prank calls and that I was often disturbed by calls in office or late at night. I also told him that I was finding it very difficult to keep a track of all the talks that I was having with various people. I also told me that I had tried reaching out to a few sellers of the car that I was intending to buy but was facing similar difficulties.

He then asked me to use the Quikr Nxt feature which he told me was a latest feature to be initiated by Quikr. He explained to me that the feature aims at reducing the prank calls and the calls received at inconvenient times and also allows keeping a record of all the conversations that one has with different buyers and sellers. The feature allows one to keep the phone number and e-mail id in private mode and Quikr Nxt can be used to chat with prospective buyers and sellers at times that are mutually convenient to both parties. It can be used either on the desktop or on a smart phone by downloading the app.

The Quikr Nxt feature also keeps a track of all the chats that you have thus reducing the headache of what you said to whom and you can access the log history at any time for a handy reference. The real time chatting is also a quick (in keeping with the name Quikr!!) way when compared to the long drawn process of sending e-mails too and forth.

I notified my friend that I found the feature very good as I could request the sellers to show the car from a certain angle or to upload a small video of the car from the inside so that I can gauge the condition of the car and not regret later. It also made my job of selling the old car easier as I had shown the uploaded pictures of my car and that way had found many interested parties.

Within a week of using the Quikr feature I had succeeded in getting a second hand car which looked as good as a new one and at the same time had got a very good price on my old car as well. I was very happy and was now suggesting others to try the Quikr Nxt feature as well.

This post is written for Indiblogger Happy Hours.

Friday, February 27, 2015

India Meets UAE in a Low Key Clash

India vs United Arab Emirates at WACA in Perth: Feb 28, 2015 - Match Preview

The Indian team is on a high after securing victories over Pakistan and South Africa in their opening two games and will look to consolidate their position at the top of the rankings in Pool B as they take on UAE on the fast and bouncy WACA in Perth.

The Indian batting was short of confidence and runs were hard to come by in the tri series against Australia and England just before the World Cup got underway. That series seems to have happened in another day and age as almost every part of the Indian batting machine is falling in to place, every lever and nut and bolt working in perfect synchronization. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have scored tons recently and Kohli has started to hit his straps too with that splendid century against Pakistan, Rahane has been a revelation and Raina seems to be enjoying his finisher role. The form of Dhoni is a concern but he has not had any reasonable time to spend in the middle in the two games.

The pace troika of Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami and Mohit Sharma look menacing and have bowled with fire and hunger against much stronger opponents in the opening two games. Shami will not be available for this game due to a niggle and Stuart Binny or Bhuvi might get a game in his place. They should do well on the WACA pitch against an opposition that might struggle with the extra pace and carry. R Ashwin and Jadeja have been crucial to India's success as they have squeezed the runs in the middle overs thus forcing the batsmen to take undue risks.

The UAE players share a light moment ahead of their clash with India at WACA in Perth


UAE were spirited in their games against Zimbabwe and Ireland and they will be looking to enjoy themselves on the big stage with the big boys of cricket. There will be huge crowd as well which will certainly be a first for them as well. They do have a couple of very impressive players, none in much better form than Shaiman Anwar who has smashed a 50 against the Zimbabweans before topping his effort with a splendid 100 against the Irish. They also have steady bowlers in Amjad Javed and Mohammad Tauqir who are very tight with their lines and can prove to be very frugal.

Key Battles: India vs UAE

Shaiman Anwar vs R Ashwin

Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma vs Amjad Ali and Khurram Khan

This should be an easy game for India but they must not let the intensity down and should look to win the game as comprehensively as possible. They also have the chance to try some reserve players like Akshar Patel and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar (if he is fit). The WACA pitch will provide its own trials and tribulations and this will be good game to watch.

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

Trans Tasman Rivalry to set the World Cup 2015 Alight!

Australia vs New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland: Feb 28, 2015 - Match Preview

The co-hosts of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and unanimous favorites go head to head in the most anticipated clash of Pool A at Eden Park in Auckland. These two proud sides have, in a strange co-incidence, not met each other in ODI cricket since 2011 when Australia beat New Zealand in Nagpur. While Australia demolished England and then saw their game against Bangladesh washed out, New Zealand has dismissed Sri Lanka, huffed and puffed to a win against Scotland and swatted away the English.

The Australian opening batsmen of David Warner and Aaron Finch are in form and are capable of hitting the ball fiercely. They will have the reliable Steven Smith to come in at number four who will be followed by the Aussie skipper Michael Clarke who is returning to top flight cricket after his rehab. Shane Watson at number three is a position that they do not seem to have covered at the moment and Watson will be under pressure to perform well else he might be replaced by James Faulkner when he is fit. Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson lurk in the shadows ready to pounce on the opposition in the slog overs.

Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson are two left arm bowlers who are capable of wreaking havoc if the pitch offers a bit of assistance but they are known to lose the plot if things start to go a bit awry. In the game against England, the third Mitchell got in the act as the English batsmen gifted their wickets away to the military medium pace of Marsh. Watson remains a key bowler as he keeps tight lines thus slowing scoring rate. The Australians do not have any decent spinner as Glenn Maxwell is only a part time bowler and that may prove to be a key point upon which the game may hinge.

New Zealand has the explosive and extremely confident Brendon McCullum firing at the top of the order. Martin Guptill is not in particularly splendid form but he has been making vital contributions to be still there opening with the skipper. Kane Williamson occupies the number 3 spot and he is the most versatile batsmen in this line up, he is also in the middle of a purple patch. Ross Taylor is experienced and can hit the long ball as well as dig in if the need arises. The big hitting all rounder Corey Anderson and the wicket-keeper bat Luke Ronchi have contributed to New Zealand’s pyrotechnics lately in the slog overs. They also have Grant Elliot who is extremely competent with both bat and the ball in his hand.

Can Brendon McCullum replicate his sparkling form against Australia?

Many might say that the Australians have the best new ball opening pair but I believe that New Zealand is in firm possession of that. Tim Southee and Trent Boult are a dream new ball bowlers for any captain. One is right handed, the other left handed. Both swing the ball, both swing it late. Both can bowl with pace, both are accurate. Then they have the raw pace of Adam Milne and the experience in the form of Daniel Vettori. Add to that Corey Anderson, Grant Elliot and Kane Williamson and you would have the most potent bowling line up in the world.

Key Battles: Australia vs New Zealand

Tim Southee and Trent Boult vs David Warner and Aaron Finch

Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson vs Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson

Daniel Vettori vs Steven Smith and Michael Clarke

I have been waiting for this game for a long time and am pretty excited by what these two teams can do. The aggressive captaincy of both McCullum and Clarke will be on display, they both have an array of explosive batsmen, a pace battery to dream of and both are athletic fielding sides. These two sides will not give an inch to the opposition and whoever wins this game will go a long way in the tournament because of the amount of confidence and self belief that such high pressure games can instill in you is immense. Just hoping that it is a close game, I am sure it will be a spectacle!

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Red Hot Windies take on Hurting South Africa

West Indies vs South Africa at Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney: Feb 27, 2015 - Match Preview

West Indies have put their loss to Ireland behind them with two strong performances, against Pakistan and Zimbabwe. South Africa on the other hand was expected to breeze through this group but hit a roadblock when they lost to India and were also pushed by Zimbabwe. Now, these two teams take on each other at the famous Sydney Cricket Ground.

The South African batting has been shaky and their dependence on Amla and AB De Villiers seems to be weighing down heavily on them. De Kock, a fine young batsman with oodles of talent seems to have lost his mojo at the top of the order. With Amla and Faf Du Plessis also struggling, they seem to rely on the lower order of Miller, Duminy and Philander. On the Sydney pitch, which is generally a very good pitch to bat on, the South African batsmen will be hoping to turn their fortunes around. AB De Villiers will also line up against West Indies, the team which he smashed to all parts during his record breaking fastest century in ODI cricket just a few weeks ago.

The South African bowlers too have not hit their strides and leaked runs in both their games so far. Steyn was charged for the game against India but even he found it difficult to contain the Indian onslaught. With Philander missing due to tightness in his hamstring and Wayne Parnell going for plenty in the last game, there are a few headaches in the South African camp. Kyle Abbot might be in line to face the West Indies and bowling to Gayle and co will be a daunting initiation to the World Cup if he plays. Imran Tahir will definitely play a key role at the Sydney cricket ground with the pitch traditionally aiding spin.

The West Indian top order failed in the first two games, first against the Irish team and then against the Pakistanis but were bailed out on both occasions by strong lower order responses. Lendl Simmons, Darren Sammy, Denesh Ramdin and Andre Russel were in great form and with the big Jamaican Chris Gayle and the consistent Marlon Samuels also finding their radar against Zimbabwe; the West Indies batting order looks frightening. The only blip for them has been the continued poor form of Dwayne Smith who I believe does not merit a place in the playing 11 with a career average of sub 20 in over 100 games.

Will Chris Gayle fire again or will South Africa manage to keep him down?

Their bowling was run ragged in the humiliating loss against Ireland but they came back well against Pakistan reducing them to 1-4 with both Jerome Taylor and the skipper Jason Holder picking up wickets. The spin department is well stacked up with Benn and also part timers in Samuels and Gayle. They have all rounders in Sammy and Russel who are reliable and capable of bowling tight line and lengths.

Key Battles: West Indies Vs South Africa

Dale Steyn vs Chris Gayle

South African Fielding vs West Indian Running between the Wickets

Imran Tahir vs Darren Sammy and Andre Russel

This match is a very important fixture for both West Indies and South Africa. If the West Indian team manages to beat the South Africans then they will gain a huge boost and might even top Pool B. South Africa, on the other hand, might miss the bus to the Quarter Finals or might finish in the 4th spot if they lose hence drawing either New Zealand or Australia in the Quarter Finals! A huge game, this one is not to be missed. Chris Gayle, fresh from making the first ever double hundred in World Cup history taking on a charged up Dale Steyn and AB De Villiers taking on the West Indian part timers in the middle of the innings is definitely something that might decide the fate of the game.

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Menace of the Bendy Arm Brigade

LeggieLefty (Ajesh) is a natural right hander taught to bat left handed with disastrous results in his amateur cricket career. He is an unabashed fan of the art of legspin. It is easy to see why his blog LeggieLefty has a the tagline "From Right to Left". Ajesh blogs about cricket at LeggieLefty.wordpress.com

In this post Ajesh looks at the history and the menace of chucking and the ICC's latest crackdown on the suspect actions.
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Way back in time, at the turn of the last century, Jim Phillips single handedly started the first crusade against the Bendy Arm Brigade. This group of bowlers was breaking the rules by bending their arms at the elbow when bowling. Phillips, himself a medium-pacer with 355 First Class wickets at an average of 20, definitely knew a thing or two about bowling. As a fearless umpire, though, he is credited with stamping out a rash of chuckers at the time. He called Ernie Jones in a Test Match in 1897/8, thus earning for Ernie the dubious distinction of being the first bowler to be called in a Test (Remember this the next time you’re in a cricket quiz, folks!).

Chucking, thus, has always existed in cricket. There are bowlers who have been called for throwing from almost every country. It would be interesting to study this, I thought, to work out what types of bowlers are more likely to throw and is there an area of the cricket world that is more conducive to throwing than others. 

First, what is throwing? Law 24, Clause 3 defines a fair delivery with respect to the arm:
A ball is fairly delivered in respect of the arm if, once the bowler's arm has reached the level of the shoulder in the delivery swing, the elbow joint is not straightened partially or completely from that point until the ball has left the hand. This definition shall not debar a bowler from flexing or rotating the wrist in the delivery swing. 

Further studies and extensive lab testing ended up with the result that all bowlers extend their elbows to some extent and a 15 degree limit is currently the rule. Of course, as with everything the ICC does, it is impossible for umpires on the field to check this and so life goes on as do many of the world’s chuckers. I will admit to not being one of Mutthiah Muralitharan’s fans and there is a voice inside me that insists that the 15 degree rule came about primarily to protect his record.

Recently, the ICC decided to crack down on suspect actions and a number of bowlers, some of them very crucial to their teams, are now sitting out the World Cup. Will the tournament be poorer for them? I think not. I hate watching bowlers with awkward and suspect actions. Aesthetically and from a purely cricket standpoint they are an abomination. I won’t even talk about the cheating aspect of it. 

Now what kind of bowlers are most likely to chuck? I did some research and found two basic varieties of chuckers. Fast bowlers and finger spinners. Fast bowlers are easy enough to understand. They’re trying to bowl it quick and they’re bending their body and  it is easy to figure out that the arm would snap out much more easily.

I believe that off break bowlers are the most boring type of bowlers. In the modern game they became run-rate stoppers, not wicket takers and it is no surprise then that they feature heavily amongst the chuckers. Even they want to take a wicket or two sometimes. I include left arm orthodox spinners in this category, for in essence they do exactly the same thing but with the other arm. Strangely, Jim Higgs was once called for chucking, it appears but he is the only wrist spinner in the list. Clearly something of an aberration. 

Where in the world do they come from? In a recent list of 12 to be officially sanctioned here is the breakdown by country

Pakistan: 3 ( But Shoaib Akhtar’s sanction was overturned)
Bangladesh: 2
West Indies: 2 ( Not counting Sunil Narine, and counting 2 episodes of Shillingford as 1)
England: 1
South Africa: 1
New Zealand: 1
Zimbabwe: 1
Sri Lanka: 1

Of the spinners still in the tournament, I have my doubts about the bowling of one or two of them. Suleiman Benn, for instance, seems to have a bend (and a pause) as his arm comes over and I’d like to have that measured in a lab. Marlon Samuels has been cleared, but I’d watch him closely. Senanayake, is another I’d peer at through a microscope, as indeed I would Prosper Utseya. Actually, I’m not sure how he is in the squad, for I thought he was banned.

The other aspect of this, which is tied to the bendy arms is the pause before delivery. This was invented, again, by finger spinners and perfected by Saeed Ajmal. Not cricket, I’m afraid, and the ICC needs to look at this soon.

These so called offspinners need to learn from Nathan Lyon and Graeme Swann that it is not necessary to have a doosra and a dodgy action to take wickets. 

Yes, even in today’s environment.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cricket World Cup 2015 hit by Gayle Storm!

West Indies vs Zimbabwe at Manuka Oval, Canberra: Feb 23, 2015 - Match Review

West Indies beat Zimbabwe by 73 runs.

Jason Holder, the West Indies skipper when asked after West Indies had won their last game against Pakistan if he was concerned about the form of his top order replied that he was not too concerned as they had plundered 300 in both their opening games and that they would get 400 if the top order fired. Well, Gayle did fire today and how!! West Indies scored a mammoth 372 runs as Gayle and Samuels broke record after record against a hapless Zimbabwe side.

West Indies won the toss and decided to bat first. Panyangara removed Dwayne Smith in the first over for a duck and they could have had Gayle for a golden duck too as they reviewed a close lbw shout against him. Unfortunately, for them though it was a 50-50 decision and since the umpire had originally given it not out, the decision stayed. Zimbabwe were steady and Gayle and Samuels struggled to score. West Indies reached their 100 only in the 24th over but Gayle was beginning to flourish and Samuels was batting with a steely determination. Zimbabwe needed a wicket but it never came. They tried as many as 7 bowlers and each one tried honestly but they simply could not breach the defenses of Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels.

Gayle reached his hundred in 105 balls and Samuels labored to his 50 off 95 balls. West Indies reached 200 in the 39th over. What followed was carnage. Gayle launched into the Zimbabwean bowlers and he peppered the straight and the mid-wicket fence repeatedly. He smashed his way to a double hundred off just 138 balls. Samuels also reached his ton in 143 balls. Gayle was out on the last ball but by then he had hit a record 16 sixes in his epic 215. West Indies had reached 372 off their 50 overs. The partnership was the highest ever in ODI cricket for any wicket, Gayle's 215 the highest score in all World Cup's.

Chris Gayle is all smiles after a satisfying, record breaking innings of 
215 off 147 balls against Zimbabwe at the Manuka Oval in Canberra

Zimbabwe lost Chakabva in the first over to a review from West Indies and the rain soon arrived. When play resumed 2 overs were removed from Zimbabwe's innings and they had to score 363 in 48 overs. Raza played a cameo of 26 runs from 20 balls but Zimbabwe were 46-3 in the 8th over, they had lost Hamilton Masakadza earlier. Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams launched a mini recovery and scored runs freely up until the DRS made an entry again. West Indies reviewed a decision when they thought that Taylor had edged one to Ramdin off Samuels. The replays did not show anything that warranted a reversal of the decision but reversed it was. Zimbabwe were earnest in their chase and were in the hunt right through. Sean Williams and Craig Ervine both hit spirited half centuries but 363 was little too much for Zimbabwe. They made 289 and lost by 73 runs.

The skies were dark and there was rain in the air when the match started and right through the West Indies's innings. A storm was about to hit the Manuka Oval in the Australian capital of Canberra. It rained sixes and and records were shattered. Chris Gayle made his first century since 2013 and it was a breathtaking one. West Indies, after losing to Ireland in their opening game have now won 2 and with almost all their batsmen firing, they will surely cause headaches to South Africa and India.

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

The Opening Week of the ICC World Cup 2015 in Pictures!!

The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 has seen loads of action and some breathtaking cricket over the past one week or so. Let us take a look at some of the best pictures from the first 10 days of this World Cup!


Virat Kohli is ecstatic after scoring a century against Pakistan in India's opening encounter - Virat Kohli stuck a superb century against nemesis Pakistan as India defeated them comfortably to kickstart their World Cup 2015 campaign in style!


Niall O Brien and John Mooney walk off after hitting the winning runs against West Indies - Ireland defeated an abject West Indies side and made a strong case against the ICC's decision to reduce the 2019 World Cup to 10 teams.


David Miller and JP Duminy walk off after a record breaking unbroken 256 run partnership off 178 balls for the 5th wicket against Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe had South Africa in huge trouble as they were reduced to 80 odd for 4 in 20 overs. But then David Miller and JP Duminy resurrected the innings taking their time and launching an assault in the last 10 overs as South Africa ended with 330 runs.


Tim Southee exults after picking another English batsman as Joe Root watches the carnage from the non strikers end - Southee produced a high class display of swing bowling, producing unplayable balls taking 7-33, the registered the 3rd best figures by a bowler in a World Cup. New Zealand cantered home by 8 wickets with 226 balls to spare!!


Afghanistan's Hamid Hassan does a somersault after bowling Kumar Sangakkara neck and crop - The so called minnow nations continued a strong performance as Afghanistani quicks reduced Sri Lanka to 50 odd for 4 and had a realistic chance of causing an upset before being thwarted by a silky century by Mahela Jayawardena.


South African skipper AB De Villiers walks off after being run out by an accurate throw from Mohit Sharma in Melbourne - South Africa were in trouble chasing India's 307 and as the run rate soared to over seven the pressure started to mount on Faf Du Plessis and AB De Villiers. Going for a tight run AB De Villiers found himself well short of the crease and the man had got a taste of his own medicine after being run out courtesy a splendid fielding effort! The Proteas lost the match easily.

PS - The images were taken from www.espncricinfo.com but I have edited them myself.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Can England Stop the Rot against Scotland?

England vs Scotland, 23rd February 2015 at Hagley Oval, Christchurch - Match Preview

This was not a match that i had intended to review when I had looked at the schedule of the Cricket World Cup 2015. But England's campaign has been rocked by two morale sapping defeats to both the co-hosts, they lost to Australia at the MCG before capitulating to Tim Southee's 7-33 at Wellington against New Zealand.

England lose this and they will almost be sure to miss the bus to the Quarter Finals. And the way they are playing at the moment, Scotland will be licking their lips at the prospect of playing England. Scotland has never beaten any top side but they do have a lot of very good players who play county cricket in England. The fact that they gave New Zealand a hard time will also fill the Scots with confidence.

England have all to play for in this clash and they will be looking to come out unscathed. What they will also be looking for is to win convincingly, that can put their campaign back on track. In long tournaments like the World Cup, building confidence is the main ingredient and fortunes are known to change overnight (ask the Indian team who seemed incapable of winning anything just two weeks ago but have now defeated both Pakistan and South Africa in their opening two games).

England will have to fix their batting and as I have a number of times they have to slot James Taylor back at number 3 as he is their most dynamic batsman at the moment along with Joe Root who can come in at number 4. Morgan also seemed to find just a bit of form against New Zealand in that disastrous 8 wicket rout. Ian Bell seemed to be in decent nick in the tri series in Australia that preceded the World Cup and Moeen Ali must look to spend some time in the middle before trying out expansive shots. England can also try to create a place for the hard hitting Alex Hales in place of the out of sorts Gary Ballance.

Peter Moores will need to inject some confidence in the English squad 
ahead of their clash against Scotland in the World Cup 2015

The bowling is something that will be the biggest worry for the England management after their last game against the Kiwis. There was no swing to be found for the supposed master of swing, James Anderson even though Tim Southee had got the ball to talk. Stuart Broad has looked good only in patches but needs to improve significantly if he is to make any impact. Steve Finn is another one who has leaked runs and looks a pale shadow of what he once was. Chris Woakes is the only one who has bowled with a lot of heart and accuracy. He has been relatively accurate and has also swung the ball marginally. The whole bowling unit needs to introspect after having two horrendous games and a third might mean that the end will be near for England in this tourney.

India humble pre tournament favorites South Africa by 130 runs in Melbourne

India vs South Africa at Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne: Feb 22, 2015 - Match Review

India Beat South Africa by 130 runs.

The much anticipated clash between India and South Africa took place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground which was packed by a large and enthusiastic crowd of around 87,000 people. Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the all important toss and decided that India will bat first in this day-night encounter. South Africa had made one change to their team from the last match, bringing in Wayne Parnell in place of Farhaan Behardien.

Steyn and Philander started well with both of them giving nothing away and swinging the ball just enough to keep the batsmen honest. The brilliance of AB De Villiers brought South Africa the first wicket as the in form Rohit Sharma departed without scoring, run out by a direct hit. Kohli then joined Shikhar Dhawan and both of them began the resseraction work. Yes, the progress was slow but both of them looked assured in their footwork. There were odd moments of luck but by en large both were looking comfortable. Dhawan and Kohli added 127 runs in 24.2 overs and laid the platform for a big total. Dhawan was given a life when Amla put down a simple chance at point, Dhawan was on 53 then. Kohli pulled a rank long hop from Tahir straight in the hands of Faf Du Plessis which brought Rahane to the crease.

Rahane started churning over the strike and hit his straps straight away. With growing pressure, errors started creeping in the South African fielding, easy runs were given and fumbles happened all too often. Dhawan reached his century and one could hear the whole of India heave a huge sigh of relief. All of India's batsmen had hit form now. Rahane dispatched Steyn and Parnell for glorious sixes and runs were flowing and a big total loomed. When Dhawan departed after making 137 runs the damage was already done. Rahane followed soon after cracking a superb 79 off just 60 balls. South Africa pulled things back just a touch in the last 10 overs as India scored just around 80 runs in that period.

Indian bowlers came charging out after the lunch break and gave nothing away. They bowled tight lines and the ball seemed to be flying in to Dhoni's gloves. The pressure became too much for De Kock and he lobbed a simple catch to Kohli who accepted the offer gleefully diving forward from mid off. Raina then missed a simple run out chance of Amla after Rahane had made a tremendous diving save in the covers. But it was a night when all the Indian bowlers bowled with fire in their eyes and the fielders prowled like panthers. No easy runs were available and with the required run rate creeping up with every dot ball, Amla pulled one to Shami who took a fantastic back peddling catch at deep fine leg. AB De Villiers joined Faf Du Plessis and they put on a steady partnership of 68 runs for the third wicket when De Villiers was run out attempting a difficult 2nd run, the throw from Mohit Sharma proved deadly for the Protea skipper.

A disappointed AB De Villiers walks off after being run out 
by Mohit Sharma at MCG against India

The fall of AB coincided with Ashwin and Jadeja turning the screws even further on the batsmen. Faf departed after reaching a painful 50. JP Duminy and Miller tried to repeat their feat from the last game but the Indians were on top of their game having smelt blood. The South Africans capitulated from 133-3 to 177 all out. The Indian bowling and their fielding seemed like it had turned a huge corner. The unit to which not many gave any chance (including yours truly) played like champions. India won by a whopping 130 runs.

With this huge win, India is likely to finish at the top of the table in Pool B. They have started their campaign with two convincing triumphs over Pakistan and then winning this against the much fancied South Africans. I do not think that the most ardent of Indian fan would have believed if anyone would have told him that these would be the results of India's two opening games after seeing their performance in the tri series where they lost every single game. More than the win, it is the manner in which they have won which must warm the heart of every fan of the Men in Blue.

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

Saturday, February 21, 2015

India seek to continue the Winning Momentum against South Africa in Melbourne

India Vs South Africa at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne 22nd February 2015 – Match Preview

India and South Africa will both play their second games as they go head to head in this Pool B match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground tomorrow. The team who wins this match might well decide who will top this Pool and hence get the right to play either England or Bangladesh (who knows they might just sneak in if their match against the Australians is washed out today due to cyclone Marcia).

South African batting was a bit nervy at the start of the innings in their first game against Zimbabwe but players like De Kock, Amla and Faf Du Plessis have a superb record against the Indians. AB De Villiers is probably the best batsman going around today and his battle with the Indian spinners will be crucial in the middle overs. Then there are the heroes of the last match, the big hitting David Miller and JP Duminy who will be looking to repeat their epic partnership against a weak Indian bowling line up. Farhaan Behardien and Vernon Philander can be considered as all rounders but I feel that the Indian spinners will be a bit too much for them.

The South African bowling will be led by the world class Dale Steyn. He was off color in their opening match against the Zimbabweans and leaked runs. The Steyn anger and fire was also missing in that encounter but the Indians might bear the brunt of Steyn’s fire at the bouncy MCG. The Proteas might also consider going in for an all pace attack at the fast and bouncy Melbourne Cricket Ground against an Indian batting line up susceptible to short bowling. Kyle Abbot might get a look in ahead of Imran Tahir or Farhaan Behardien. Morne Morkel will trouble with his extra bounce and Philander will nibble the ball in the channel thus making life difficult for Dhoni and company.

The Indian batting finally clicked in Australia in their opening win against Pakistan when Shikhar Dhawan also found some form with a well compiled half century. Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane will be the key Indian batsmen for me in this match as they seem to be the best equipped to handle the quality South African attack. Suresh Raina is also in good form so he must capitalize on that. Dhoni and Jadeja might come in handy if India does not loose early wickets and the lower order is not under pressure else not much can be expected from them. India must make sure that they do not loose wickets up front so that life becomes easier in the middle overs.

Ajinkya Rahane will have a key role to perform if 
India are to get past the line against South Africa 
at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the 22nd of February 2015

The Indian bowling too looked like a well oiled unit in the last game and they must take that confidence in this important clash. The South Africans were shaky at the top of the order and the Indians must make sure that they do not offer freebies to Amla and De Kock. I believe that how the Indian spinners bowl in the middle overs might well decide the course of the game. If R Ashwin and Ravindra jadeja can exercise some control on the South African middle order then the confidence will rub on to the seamers as well and Yadav and Shami will suddenly start to look a lot more threatening.

Key Battles: India Vs South Africa

Dale Steyn vs Virat Kohli

South African Fielding vs Indian Running between the Wickets

R Ashwin vs AB De Villiers

India have never beaten South Africa in 3 previous World Cup encounters and this time too South Africa go in the game as clear favorites but the Men in Blue have shown several times under Dhoni that you can never count them out. The South Africans were tentative against Zimbabwe and the Indians will surely be looking to exploit that fact. Indians were superb in all departments against Pakistan but can they continue the good run against a strong Protea line up. It promises to be a very good battle in front of 90,000 screaming fans and a battle which in all probability should decide who ends at the top spot in Pool B!

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

A Look Back at Tim Southee's 7-33 against England at Wellington

Tim Southee put on a high class exhibition of swing bowling as he had the ball talking and none of the English batsmen were able to decipher what was being thrown at them. Let us look back at how he got those 7 wickets one by one.

Wicket number 1 - Ian Bell, clean bowled

The ball came in sharply and as Bell moved to the leg side to hit the ball on the off side it left him just a tad bit to strike the top of the off stump.

Tim Southee is mobbed by his teammates after he castled Ian Bell 
en route to taking career best 7-33 against England at Wellington

Wicket number 2 - Moeen Ali, clean bowled

Moeen was given a short ball first up and then came the deadly inswinging yorker. He was camping on the backfoot, deep in his crease and the ball snuck underneath his lame attempt to strike the base of off stump,

Wicket number 3 - James Taylor, clean bowled

A wide out swinger is followed by one that starts at around the middle and leg stump. Taylor misses it completely and the off pole is pegged back!

Wicket number 4 - Jos Buttler, caught behind by Ronchi

It is an out swinger in the perfect channel and Buttler duly nicks it behind and Luke Ronchi takes an easy catch.

Wicket number 5 - Chris Woakes, clean bowled

Southee goes wide of the crease and angles the ball in. It comes in and then swerves away at the last moment as the off stump is knocked over once again.

Wicket number 6 - Chris Broad, caught at mid off by Daniel Vettori

Broad seemed to be expecting a bouncer as he moves away to the leg side and has a tame waft at the ball. It takes the bottom edge and lobs up to Daniel Vettori at mid off who completes a simple chance.

Wicket number 7 - Steven Finn, caught at first slip by Ross Taylor

It is another away swinging delivery and Finn just hangs his bat out which gets an edge and Ross Taylor grabs the catch.

Tim Southee's 7/33 was the best ever by a Kiwi bowler in ODI cricket and it was the 3rd best in Cricket World Cup tournaments. It was a treat to watch the this spell by Tim Southee as the English were clueless against him. Those who have not yet watched, go look it up on youtube and enjoy the show!! England were all out for just 123 and New Zealand won the match by 8 wickets and 226 balls to spare.

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

Friday, February 20, 2015

Tim Southee Rips Apart England in a Crushing Kiwi Win

New Zealand Vs England at Wellington, 20th February 2015 - Match Review

England won the toss and the English skipper Eoin Morgan had no hesitation in batting first on a beautiful day in Christchurch. The pitch looked a belter and the Westpac was supposed to witness a sell-out for the first time. The stage was perfectly set for the England-New Zealand clash as I had mentioned in my match preview.

The English openers, Bell and Moeen Ali, began with caution as they negated the early threat of Southee and Boult with relative ease until Southee straightened one past Bell to clip the top of his off stump. Moeen counter attacked as he hit Southee for 3 boundaries in his next over but Southee worked him over in the next over. Balance struggled before chipping one straight to short cover off Boult and Eoin Morgan was given a tough time as he labored to 20 odd before finally being dismissed by Daniel Vettori. The rest was a blur. Batsmen came and went. From 104-3 England managed to get all out for 123. Tim Southee had them on the ropes; the ball was talking in his hands. It was just an exhibition of high class swing bowling from one of the best. He finished with 7-33, the best figures ever by a Kiwi bowler and the 3rd best ever in a World Cup tournament after Glenn McGrath and Andy Bichel.

Tim Southee put on an a swing show as he destroyed England 
with career best figures of 7-33 at Westpac, Wellington

From there, it was a cakewalk for the Kiwi batsmen but what followed was massacre. Brendon McCullum seemed like a man on a mission. The fastest fifty, and the much talked about fastest hundred which AB De Villiers smashed just a few months back were in serious threat. McCullum smashed the fastest 50 of the World Cup to beat his own record and ended up with 77 off just 35 balls. Finn was taken for 49 off 2 overs and Broad went for 27 in 2 overs. New Zealand won the match comfortably by 8 wickets with a whopping 226 balls to spare. England was well and truly embarrassed by a world class, well oiled and hungry unit.

The New Zealand team is just going from strength to strength and they are looking unstoppable at the moment. As for the England how they will rise from a battering such as this remains to be seen though it seems highly improbable at this moment.

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

Cricket World Cup 2015 Match Preview - Pakistan Vs West Indies

Pakistan Vs West Indies - Christchurch, 21st February 2015

Pakistan and West Indies will take on each other in this very important clash of Pool B. Both the sides have lost their opening games, Pakistan to their arch rivals India and West Indies to a plucky Irish team. The team which loses this contest will find it very difficult to progress to the Quarter Finals stage and hence this clash will be a keenly contested one between these two highly talented but temperamental teams.

Pakistan batting must pick themselves up after a shocking display against India. None of their batsmen played well in that game except Misbah and to a certain extent Haris Sohail. Pakistan must also decide how long are they going to persist with the out of form but highly experienced Younis Khan. They have the option of bringing in either Sarfaraz Ahmed or an all rounder like Bilawal Bhatti in place of the old war horse. Shahid Afridi must play sensibly until the last 7-10 overs when he can let loose.

The Pakistani bowling did quite well at the start with both Irfan and Sohail Khan keeping the Indian batsmen tied down but it was the middle and late overs which caused them headaches that day. Shahid Afridi and Yasir Shah were completely incompetent against the Indians and on the small Christchurch ground against the big hitting West Indians they might again find themselves under the hammer.

The West Indies batting collapsed like a pack of cards in the wake of a storm against a disciplined Ireland bowling attack. Gayle and Dwayne Smith started slowly but just could not get going. Marlon Samuels must regain his touch that he has shown during the past year as he is one who can play Pakistani spin very well. Sammy, Ramdin, Andre Russel and Lendl Simmons remain highly dangerous hitters if summoned after the 35th over and can clear any ground with ease.

Chris Gayles battle against the towering Irfan promises to be a mouth watering one!!

The West Indies bowling was such a disappointing sight against Ireland. The team whose pace bowlers induced fear in the eyes of the opposition batsmen for such a long time was being carted all around by a big-hearted Ireland. The likes of Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor can crank it up and bowl with pace but can they be accurate is the big question. Holder must also bowl well as he is the captain and how he goes must affect the performance of the whole team. They must also decide if Benn is fit else they must rely on the part time spin of Gayle and Samuels.

Key Battles: Pakistan Vs West Indies

Chris Gayle vs Mohammed Irfan

Marlon Samuels and Darren Sammy vs Shahid Afridi and Yasir Shah

Pakistani Top order vs Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor

As I said above this contest promises a lot as there is so much riding on the result of this for both Pakistan and West Indies and these two will certainly give it their everything to come out on top. This is the battle between two of the highly unpredictable sides and this will add another dimension to this mouth watering clash!!

PS - The image is courtesy http://www.espncricinfo.com/

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cricket World Cup 2015 Match Preview - New Zealand Vs England

New Zealand Vs England - Wellington, 20th February 2015

Hosts New Zealand will play their 3rd game in the space of a week as they will take on England tomorrow at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington. While New Zealand are on a high after winning both their previous games the English is coming after being hammered by the rampaging Australian team.

The New Zealand batting looks well settled and every one of them seems to be in good nick. They understand their roles well and the Kiwis have all the bases covered with dashers at the top in McCullum and Guptill, steady hands in Kane Williamson and grant Elliot and explosive firepower at the bottom with Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi. Though they struggled a bit against Scotland but I guess that was just due to complacency.

The bowling of New Zealand is probably the strongest in this World Cup. The opening pair of Southee and Boult are dangerous with the new ball, both of them swinging the ball both ways. The return of Vettori has not been good news for the opposition batsmen either as his stifling accuracy and canny changes of pace have led to the downfall of many. Then there is the raw pace of Adam Milne and they are backed up by medium pacers Corey Anderson and Grant Elliot.

How England handle the swing of Trent Boult 
might well decide which way the match will swing!

The English batting needs a revival if they are to survive against the excellent pair of New Zealand opening bowlers. Moeen Ali has the talent but he must reign himself in just a bit at the beginning and then look to unfurl those wristy cover drives and flicks. They must also bring James Taylor at number 3 where he can settle down and play the whole 50 overs. Joe Root must also first get his eye in and then start playing the innovative shots. If these batsmen can lay a platform so that Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler come in around the 35th over then I think the English can plunder the best bowling attacks.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad must bowl tight lines to the Kiwi openers especially Brendon McCullum as he can take the game away from them in the blink of an eye. Finn and Woakes must also bowl tight lines and I feel that Finn must bowl aggressively with some short balls and then throw in the yorkers as a surprise. Root and Ali will provide the spin options but they are flimsy to say the least.

Key Battles: New Zealand Vs England

Brendon McCullum vs James Anderson

Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi vs Stuart Broad and Steven Finn

Tim Southee and Trent Boult vs The English top order

This is a very important match because if New Zealand will win this one then they will put their foot in the Quarter Final but they will also gain confidence ahead of their most important clash against the co-hosts Australia. And if England lose this one then their campaign will be in shambles already after just one week into the tournament. All in all this will be a mouth-watering clash.

PS - The image is courtesy http://www.espncricinfo.com/

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