I have been wanting to post this post, since the time I have seen the first advertisement on TV. This is probably one of the best ads that have or will come this year and I am sure it is going to win a lot of awards. The ICC Cricket World Cup is on and the first advertisement (in a series of advertisements) was based on the rivalry between India and Pakistan (Pakistan has never beaten India in any of the world cup matches). The ads have proved extremely popular with a lot of spoofs appearing on Youtube. Below are the ads which have been released so far. Unfortunately, I do not have an English version or translation available for the below videos.
1. First ad (India vs. Pakistan)
2. Second ad (South Africa vs. India) – India has never beaten South Africa in any of the world cup matches, before this match.
3. Third ad (India vs. UAE) after India wins against South Africa
4. Fourth Ad (India vs. West Indies) after India beats UAE
5. Fifth Ad (India vs. Ireland) after India beats West Indies and the assumption is Pakistan will lose to South Africa
6. Sixth Ad – after Pakistan beats South Africa which almost qualifies Pakistan for Quarter Finals
7. Seventh ad – Pakistan vs. Ireland (a must win game for Ireland to qualify for Quarter Finals)
Just been extremely disappointed with the current performance of the Indian bowlers. I can’t recollect in any of the recent matches where we have conceded less than 300 runs while bowling first (today being an exception, since NZ only had 280 runs to win), putting tremendous on our batsmen. It seems they cant figure out where to bowl and I am not sure if anyone is even guiding them. If yes, then they dont seem to be implementing that guidance. I cant figure out for the love of God, why is Ishant Sharma still getting selected in the one day team. He really needs to figure out how to bowl, because sometimes it seems that he is absolutely clueless on what to bowl and where to bowl. Only one fast bowler seems like doing a reasonable job and that it seems to Mohd. Shami, however, it seems that he has taken over Ishant’s mantle of bowling wayward in the last couple of games. Bhuvneshwar Kumar does not have the pace without the swing is not a threat at all. On these pitches in the upcoming World Cup, I am not sure how useful he is going to be. What we need is someone who is out and out fast, someone like Mitchell Johnson or a Dale Steyn who even on a bad day are able to scare some batsmen and get wickets. I cant understand why we never have those types of bowlers. I mean we have one of the best pace academies of the world and yet don’t produce a world class genuine fast bowler.
The positives that I see is that we have exactly one year to rectify all these issues. The wickets in Australia and New Zealand don’t have a lot of swing, but have a lot of bounce and carry and we need to have bowlers who are able to use that. I think this defeat should act as an eye opener for the Indian team and hopefully they get their act together. If not, it is going to be a very bad World Cup for us and we will end up losing the title of World Champions.
England suffered yet another humiliating defeat at the hands of Australia in the 2nd Ashes test. Simply don’t understand what’s wrong with this team. Most of the articles that I have read online suggests that the team is fatigued, however, not sure how fatigue only applies to the English players, especially when you are winning. This Australian team has bounced back very well under the new coach, especially after their performances over the last couple of years. While they are nowhere near the Aussies of the old, they appear to be winning by bullying the English players by bowling short and into the body. Such tactics always used to work on teams from sub-continent, however, I am surprised that it has worked against the English players who I believe are used to playing on similar wickets. IMHO, the England team is paying just too much attention to one person and one type of bowling i.e. Mitchell Johnson and short pitch bowling. They need to get over it and stop trying to prove that they can play the pull shot. I think they need to check the video of the match where Sachin Tendulkar where he made 248 not out and the entire innings didn’t include any off drives – because Sachin decided to stop playing that shot altogether as he used to get out playing the shot. Similarly the English batsmen need to curb this habit of jumping around the crease like rabbits and trying to pull every short ball, else they are just going to perish.
The 3rd test is going to be played in Perth and while most people have written England off, I am hoping that they provide a fight. They just need to go back a few years and draw inspiration from team India beat Australia on the same ground after an eventful Sydney test. Lets see how the match turns out. I am hoping to see some amazing fast bowling from Mitchell Johnson and hopefully brilliant batting from KP, else it is good bye Ashes for England.
I happened to catch live action of the Ashes 1st test between Australia and England which is being played at The Gabba, Brisbane, yesterday. For those of you who are wondering, didn’t we just have an Ashes series? Well we did, however, due to scheduling issues this time we have back to back Ashes series within 6 months. Last time, England won the Ashes 3-0. This time, however going by yesterday’s performance, it looks difficult for England to win in Australia. The session between lunch and tea yesterday produced one of the most entertaining and enthralling period of cricket. Mitchell Johnson produced one of the finest exhibition of fast bowling yesterday, esp. when we went around he wicket to the batsmen. He was bowling fast, hostile and straight at the body and it was really awesome to see English batsmen jumping around the crease trying to defend with everything that they got. Also the atmosphere at the stadium was simply awesome. There is no better sight than watching a fast bowler steaming in and unleashing thunderbolts one after another. At the same time, it seemed the Gabba had turned into coliseum and it seemed that the crowd was baying for blood on every ball. There were constant oooh’s when Johnson was bowling. England lost 6 wickets for 8 runs and quite honestly, I feel they have lost the test match, unless they come up with some sort of super human effort in their 2nd innings. Overall, it was good to watch an even contest between bat and ball after a very long time after the games in India which produced run scoring games where the bowlers were reduced to bowling machines and there was simply no contest. I hope that we get to see such displays as the series progresses. Looking forward to the test match at Perth.
All Indian cricket followers are aware of the upcoming tour to South Africa, one of the most difficult places to tour in world cricket, especially if you are the Indian team. There has been a lot of coverage about how BCCI had not agreed to the itinerary and the same was unilaterally announced by the South African cricket board. Then came the real reason that BCCI didn’t get along with Haroon Lorgat because of his actions when he was the chairman of the ICC. There were even reports that the BCCI didn’t want him to be selected for the post of chief executive of South Africa cricket board. That’s what is called interference. However, that’s not the point. What if the Haroon Lorgat is just a scrape goat? What if the real reason is something else? Here is what I feel could have happened..
The original tour itinerary was supposed to have 3 tests, 7 ODIs and I believe 2 T20’s (not sure of the T20’s). The reduced tour itinerary now stands at 2 test matches and 3 ODI’s and no T20’s. Have we heard of any series where we don’t have T20’s? Post which India is supposed to travel to New Zealand to play 5 ODI’s and 2 test matches until end of Feb 2014. There is also World T20 World cup in March 2014. So there was no home test at least for the next 6 months. I am not sure if many people remember, around the time of July/ August that there was speculation in the media that selectors have asked Tendulkar to make up his mind and retire. Obviously, selectors simply denied it. Probably this gave BCCI the idea, to create this entire ruckus around Haroon Lorgat and not agree to the itinerary announced by the South African cricket board (CSA). After all how can they allow Tendulkar to play his last test in a foreign country? They would have probably also asked Tendulkar whether he intended to be around for the next season. I am thinking, Sachin, most likely, said “NO”. Now as a board, you cant have the best player this country has ever produced to retire in some other country and miss out the revenue his retirement would generate? I am guessing not. So what did BCCI do? They started looking out for teams who are free to play during the month of November and when they found out West Indies were available, offered them truck loads of money (we all know how starved of cash the Windies board is) and announced the series – which is now being marketed by Star Sports. Obviously, Sachin retiring is a huge event and BCCI is milking it to the maximum. I would have preferred Sachin retiring while facing the fastest bowler in the world, on the top of his game, in a foreign country with bouncy pitches rather than face a team who will hardly provide any challenge. I am not sure this is the type of send off Sachin would have wanted for himself – for the Lion, even though old, is still the king of the jungle.
So we saw another high scoring game on Wednesday between India and Australia. While India did manage to win, it makes me wonder how the new ODI rules are simply making bowlers irrelevant especially in India where the outfields are superfast, grounds smaller and pitches are a batting paradise. The entire game has been made very lopsided. Earlier, I used to think that the Indian bowlers have lost their mojo, but now I think it is just that they don’t stand a chance against these rules. Reverse swing is a crucial asset for a bowler, especially in dry conditions. But with the two new balls and ball change at 35 overs mark, that advantage has also been taken away. Meanwhile the batsmen have everything going for them. Broader bats, smaller grounds, one less fielder in the outfield – nothing to stop them. If we observe the changes that have been introduced in the game of one day cricket over the last 20 years – most of the changes have been made to make cricket more entertaining – whereby losing the aesthetic value of the game. First came the 15 over rule, which was then extended to 20 overs and has now been reduced to 15 overs again – where in 2 fielders and now 3 can remain outside the circle during this period. Earlier, you could have fielders anywhere and it wouldn’t matter. This gave rise to the batsmen like Jayasuriya, Kaluwitharna from Sri Lanka, Adam Gilchrist, Sachin Tendulkar – the list is endless. Not sure if the bowlers got anything in return. Then the smart men managing cricket decided to come up with a interesting change of allowing 2 bouncers in an over – while this did help bowlers to some extent. Bowling bouncers on Indian pitches is some kind of a joke as the ball sits up nicely to be hit. So the smart men thought.. what else can we do to make it more spicy – right lets now play with 2 new balls at either end and reduce one more fielder from the outfield. So that basically makes bowlers even more handicapped. The truth is – cricket grounds in India have been turned into a slaughter house for bowlers (ours and theirs).
I am not sure how many youngsters out there would really want to take up bowling. What role models do they have? There was Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath, and Zaheer Khan. Who do we have now? I am sure no kid would want to look at Ishant Sharma and be like I want to bowl like him after seeing get whacked for 30 runs in an over. I believe the pitches in this country need to be changed drastically to ensure that our bowlers get a chance to perform, else the rules need to be changed. I completely agree with MSD that in these conditions the bowlers would prefer a bowling machine then them throwing the ball. There is nothing more awesome than seeing a fast bowler run charging in and send thunderbolts at the batsmen who is ducking, weaving, leaving good balls and punishing the bad ones. But when the good ones start going over and above the boundary rope very frequently, something needs to be changed or very soon we would have ODI’s being played as 4 innings T20 game and that would be a serious blow to cricket.
Today we witnessed one of Team India’s biggest victories over Australia in cricket. While winning in such a emphatic manner is a very good sign and it shows everyone why we are the world champions, I was wondering how is a team like Australia who is without most of their star players able to score 359 runs against our bowlers. Obviously, our bowling attack needs to improve drastically to have any impact on conditions which are tailor made for batting. But there is another reason why the team like Australia is able to score so many runs. It is because of the IPL. When I went through their team list, most of their top order batsmen, with exception of George Bailey, have been playing in the IPL for last 2 editions, which is basically 4 months of exposure of playing in the Indian conditions. Earlier, the teams used to take quite some time to get used to the Indian conditions, the full stadiums, the noise etc. and by the time they would get used to conditions, the series would have been over. But now with the IPL, all those shock factors are gone. Now since most countries are allowing their players to participate in the IPL, they are adapting to Indian conditions pretty well and it is showing in the way they are handling our spinners and fast bowlers.
Obviously on the other hand, the quality of Indian team’s batting has also improved drastically. No longer is any target not chase able and most teams know that no target is safe when the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni get going. Somehow I feel that IPL has helped create an aura around the Indian one day team – that this team is unbeatable and any team would have to play out of their skins to beat us.
Finally, the feeling of winning the world cup is sinking in. The way the team played cricket in the knock out stages was absolutely fantastic. First Australia, the team which had crushed the hopes of billion people in 2003 when Ricky Ponting just destroyed our bowling, was contained by our bowling and then the way Yuvraj batted was just phenomenal. There were so many moments in that game when I thought this is it. We are out in the quarter final stage. But Yuvraj and Raina had other plans and the grin on Ponting’s face was just worth watching. It was then I felt we are on to something special. The team has the mental strength to win the final.
Next, the battle against Pakistan was when whole of India stopped whatever they were doing and were following the team. Geeta, my wife, asked me what I felt after India had finished batting and I replied instinctively that we will win. There was no way that Pakistan would have won that evening. With the way, the Indian team was charged up there was no way they would have won. It was once again just amazing the way our bowlers went about their jobs in the most professional manner. Once Pakistan, which arguably was the biggest mental challenge, I was feeling much better about our chances in the finals.
On the day of the finals, my wife had decorated the entire house with Indian colors, was dressed in Indian colors and was very excited and nervous about the same. When Sri Lanka started scoring heavily and faster, I felt that we had lost the grip on the match. My fears further increased when we lost Sehwag and Sachin cheaply. But Gambhir and Kohli batted very well. Once Kohli got out to a superb catch by Dilshan, I knew captain cool, MSD, would come and play a Captain’s Innings. I immediately told my family members MSD will play a knock of his lifetime and what a knock it was. I have never seen Dhoni play better. It was probably his best innings under pressure. Initially he started slow, coming down the wicket and nudging for singles, converting ones to twos and then opened up when it was really needed. Never did he once allow pressure to get to him or to the billion people who were watching the game. As long as he was there, we were there. At the other end, Gambhir played an outstanding innings, though I felt he threw his hundred away. In the end it was left to the Man of the Tournament and MSD to finish the game and finish the game he did in fine style.
The joy which I expressed is something which cant be put in words. We, my brother, wife and myself, decided to take our bikes along with the flag of India and join the party which was going on in the streets. It seemed like everyone who had a car or a bike was out there partying. It would have been really difficult for the cops to patrol the streets but they did whatever best they could, however there were just too many people out honking, blaring loud music from their cars, waving the Indian flags, screaming Indiaaa!! India!!. I have never experienced such unbridled joy amongst so many people together. Everywhere the feeling was just the same — of pride. We all felt as if we were world champions and owned a piece of the world cup. Finally after 28 years, we are the World Champs once again. Lets hope we dont have to wait such a long time for the next one.
So tomorrow’s game between India and Pakistan is being billed as the final before the final. It is not really surprising to see the hype which has been created around tomorrow’s game. It is after almost 2 years India and Pakistan are playing each other and that too in the World Cup semi-final. A lot of offices have already declared a holiday or half day tomorrow so that the employees can go home/ out to watch and enjoy the game. However, the same is not the case in my office. I am however, hoping to leave early tomorrow and atleast catch one half of the game.
It is after a very long time that a game of cricket is taking larger than life stage in this country. We usually have news about the scams, corrupt politicos, crime etc. For once cricket has taken a center stage and it is good to see that. However, I feel too much advice/ analysis is being done by the cricket pundits which is getting to boredom. I feel they are in fact raising the hopes of billion people and giving them a false sense of security that their country is going to win no matter what. Just imagine all these expectations and then the game turns out to be completely different, all the hopes, expectations turn into anger and media turns heroes into villains in a day. Cricket is a simple game and should be kept in the same manner. Within my heart, I know that I want India to win but at the same time it is just a game and should be kept that way.