Monthly Archives: February 2015

Mid Tournament Musings-1

A random selection of my thoughts, observations and expectations on the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup.

  • Could the timings be any more frustrating for the vast majority of us who don’t live down under? Bah. #cricketinausornzproblems #suddenlybigonhashtagsfornoapparentreason
  • McCullum and his side both are spouting menace and intent, left, right and centre. Case in point- their absolute mauling of England.Has there ever been a NZ side this thorough and dangerous? I definitely don’t think so. Could this be New Zealand’s best shot at making the title theirs? YES YES YES. Home advantage-check. Competent captaincy-check. team balance- double check. Add to this generic list of pre-requisites, the searing form the kiwis have been in in the lead up to and in the first games of this tournament and the great touch McCullum is in, and you’ve got a threatening side that is definitely one of the favourites. Their hotly anticipated tie with the aussies is sure to be a match to watch out for. It’s definitely going to be a game of high passions, considering it marks the long awaited return of Clarke and Lehmann’s comments on radio (http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc-cricket-world-cup-2015/content/story/835999.html) are sure to cause a ripple-effect one way or the other. Probably the definitive game in this rather lacklustre group. Australia Nets Session???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
  • India vs South Africa is set to start in a couple of hours, as I write this. As an Indian fan, this is the contest I, and indeed fans all over, have been waiting for. While it’s well understood that this isn’t a “make or break” contest, by any means, for either of the hosts, it’s importance need not be stressed. These are quality teams that will try to one up each other at any cost, to establish their status quo within a more or less sorted (in terms of who’s going ahead) group. (seriously, don’t even get me started on the sheer inefficiency of this tournament format; long live the bloody sponsors). Twitter is awash with the hashtag #IndvsSA. I must say I really enjoy this sort of uber-hype leading up to an important and competitive (i hope) game of cricket. It really confers a degree of legitimacy and real “feels” to the supposedly meaningless and end-less pursuit that watching sports is widely held to be. I would love to talk about whom to watch out for and conditions and all that but I don’t think I can add anything to what’s already been discussed at length on many other forums before. I’m just wildly excited at the prospect of a humdinger and am licking my lips even as I try to stay awake all night (damn you australia!) Personally, I am really keen on seeing how India deal with Amla, de Villiers and the pace battery. Some sort of a premonition tells me it’s going to be a special innings from Rohit (Wouldn’t read too much into that kind of nonsense though). MS Dhoni’s return to prime batting form is something Indian fans the world over are waiting for with severely bated breath. Would it be greedy/wishful to want to see something like the CLT20 2013 mauling of Steyn? Sigh.

CRICKET-WC-2015-IND

  • As I write this, Afghanistan have posted a total of 232 against Sri Lanka. I hate myself for repeating what has become a cliche by now in cricketing circles, but is anything being done by the ICC to promote/encourage the talent/interest in these regions?. Surely, their potential/performances merit investment- both monetary and otherwise. Ireland too, in the same breath.
  • For those of you who don’t know yet, ICC has launched a pretty cool fantasy league at fantasy.icc-cricket.com. Super fun and pretty cool prizes too (although, if you haven’t started by now, it’s gotta be mostly for the fun).
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Reflections from the big game

Much has been said about the importance, psychological and “political” (well, apparently) of today’s game. Pontifications galore, today’s match was one that was hyped up beyond proportion and assumed a sort of “centrepiece” status in this world cup. Here are my 6 penny’s worth:

  • Reassuringly, India have clicked. It would be generous hyperbole to claim they have arrived in ominous fashion, all guns blazing. However, they have overcome the massive shadow of doubt that has been perpetually lingering over them for the last few weeks and announced themselves as able contenders and as the rightful defending champions, if not as tournament favourites.
  • Keeping in mind Rohit Sharma’s twin centuries (tri series and warm up), India’s top order finally looks the well oiled machine that manages to be more than the sum of it’s parts.
  • How good was that Dhoni six over mid on? Nevertheless, the skipper will be conscious, no doubt, of his rather indifferent batting form recently and will have loved the knocking-in he got today.  Not quite the MS of lore, but he’s getting there (hopefully)
  • The Indian batting line up is the stuff of mythicised common knowledge. So, no gaping jaws on it coming good finally (more, like relieved sighs). However, the much and often derided bowling attack really put up a strong and disciplined, if not menacingly incisive performance. Shami looked every bit like a man who really dug into his all for the big game, on the biggest stage of them all. MS got away with his two spinner ploy today. Knowing how comfortable he is fielding that combination and considering the pace-friendly conditions down under, a few eye brows are bound to be raised, issuing words of caution. Stuart Binny is probably going to be given a look in for games in New Zealand, one would presume, but otherwise, I feel MSD is making his intentions clear by choosing to operate with an attack he is incredibly adept at manoeuvring and milking.
  • Pakistan looked out of ideas and out of sorts, almost throughout the game. Their bowlers maintained commendable lengths and lines through the opening half of the indian innings but hardly looked to trouble the Indian top order, which as has been pointed out from far and wide, was not nearly at it’s best recently.
  • Mohammad Irfan’s inclusion, though his obvious lack of fitness, reeks of the typically pakistani brand of “strategising”, or lack of quality, therein. The giant huffed and puffed his way through his 10 and did not look like he belonged one bit. Pakistan’s apparent “trump card” fizzled away to be nothing more than a foiled parlour trick.
  • Pakistan’s sloppiness in the field cost them dear. Absolutely awful. India needs to be cautious enough to up their game against foes who surely won’t give them as much leeway, with either their fielding or their execution.
  • Kohli is back and and it’s all there- intent, aggression, control and timing. This could well be his tournament.