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Mumbai Indians: Season Preview

First up, watch my podcast to know my general views of the team as it came fresh out of the auction:

In the last 4 years, the Mumbai Indians have been one of the most consistent franchises in the tournament. They’ve fought hard to make it into the semifinals, and finally in 2013, they managed to pick up their first ever title. They followed that with an astounding show to win the Champions League as well, making them the most valuable franchise today. Hence, they will walk into IPL 2014 with their heads held higher than most teams. The big difference from MI’s previous years in the tournament, however, will be that Sachin Tendulkar will not be playing for them anymore. The veteran called it a day after his side won the tournament, and his absence will leave a large void in their lineup. However, they’ve done a decent job to fill it up, pulling in star players like Michael Hussey, Ben Dunk, and Corey Anderson. Therefore, it will be exciting to see how the defending champions fare in the 2014 IPL.

Author’s Choice XI (Based on more recent times):

Michael Hussey

Aditya Tare

Rohit Sharma (c)

Ambati Rayudu

Kieron Pollard

Corey Anderson

Shreyas Gopal

Harbhajan Singh

Zaheer Khan

Pragyan Ojha

Jasprit Bumrah


Royal Challengers Bangalore: Season Preview

First check out my podcast for my general views of the team as it came fresh out of the auction:


The Royal Challengers have been very similar to South Africa when it comes to playing tournaments: they cruise along gently in the beginning, before choking towards the end and failing to go for gold. They would definitely look to do better this season. They did the right thing by retaining the core of their batting lineup in Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, and made some great buys in Albie Morkel, Mitchell Starc, Yuvraj Singh, and Parthiv Patel. Their only key concern for the upcoming IPL would be that the majority of their squad (barring Kohli of course) looked slightly off-color. Yuvraj Singh, who played what could be called a “match losing” knock in the final vs Sri Lanka, will definitely be a subject of concern for RCB, particularly as they spent nearly half of their auction purse on him. However, on paper, their team looks fairly strong. The batting is self-explanatory, and the fast-bowling is well looked after in the hands of Starc and Morkel. However, their spin will be a bit of a question mark, as they have but two specialist Indian spinners, neither of whom is capped. This may go unnoticed, seeing that one of those spinners is the experienced Shadab Jakati, but it will mean that Yuvraj will have a fair bit of responsibility with the ball as well. While Muttiah Muralitharan is indeed an option, it will mean that they will have to drop either Starc or Morkel, both of whom are clutch players in the side.

Author’s Choice XI (Based on more recent times):

Chris Gayle

Parthiv Patel (wk)

Virat Kohli (c)

AB de Villiers

Yuvraj Singh

Vijay Zol

Albie Morkel

Mitchell Starc

Shadab Jakati

Ashok Dinda

Yuzvendra Chahal


Kings XI Punjab: Season Preview

The T20 world cup is over, with Sri Lanka thwarting India by 6 wickets to clinch the title that barely evaded them last year. Now, we have about 1 and a half weeks to calm down before the next big event in the cricketing world: the Pepsi IPL 2014.

Therefore, I’m going to start putting in season previews for the various franchises, starting with the Kings XI Punjab. Hope you enjoy 🙂

First up, watch this video for my insights on their team as it came fresh out of the auction:


Kings XI Punjab have been a team very similar to New Zealand on the International Cricket scene: they’ve had legends in their ranks, and played some truly fantastic cricket at times, but still fail to make it large in the big tournament. This has been shown clearly as they are the only team to have started in 2008, but not yet qualified for two semifinals. They only managed to make it in the inaugral season, under Yuvraj Singh’s leadership. Since then, however, it’s been a rather disheartening 5 years for Kings XI fans. Finishing 5th, 8th, 5th, 6th, and 6th across seasons 2 and 6. However, this season might just be different. After beefing up their lineup by pulling in the cool-headed George Bailey, the devastating Mitchell Johnson, the explosive Glenn Maxwell, and the aggressive Virender Sehwag, they brought in other class players, such as Cheteshwar Pujara, Thisara Perera, Beuran Hendricks, and Wriddhiman Saha. Combined with the already retained David Miller and Manan Vohra, their squad looks like a formidable one, and KXIP seem fit to claim their first ever IPL title.

Author’s Choice XI (Based on more recent times):

Virender Sehwag

Cheteshwar Pujara

George Bailey (c)

Glenn Maxwell

Wriddhiman Saha (wk)

David Miller

Mandeep Singh

Rishi Dhawan

Mitchell Johnson

Murali Karthik

Laxmipathy Balaji


India vs Sri Lanka: Familiar Foes in a Fiery Final

Apart from just being a World Cup Final, this will be the last time we see these two men playing a T20 for Sri Lanka (Image credits:  Troll Cricket)

Apart from just being a World Cup Final, this will be the last time we see these two men playing a T20 for Sri Lanka
(Image credits: Troll Cricket)

There is a time in all sports where none but the best are left in the contest. When all are judged unworthy for success but the top guns, who have played their very best game. This is that time. India and Sri Lanka, the top two teams in this year’s world cup T20, take each other on in an epic final tomorrow night. Both teams have been in sublime touch throughout the tournament. India barely ever looked troubled for the first few games, and in fact it was even said that they were simply not “tested enough”. However, in their previous game against South Africa, they were under the hammer as Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy mercilessly took the attack to the Indian bowlers, with even Amit Mishra, India’s trump card so far in this world cup, going for plenty. However, Virat Kohli’s inspired 72* in just 44 took India over the line quiet comfortably. For Sri Lanka, it has been a series of dominance as well, even if not as one-sided as most of India’s games. They pulled off a clinical victory over South Africa to start their campaign, before absolutely decimating the Netherlands. Although they ended up on the wrong end of the stick in their high-scoring affair against England, they came back with vengeance to defend a paltry 119 as the hapless New Zealand lineup was bowled out for 60. Their semifinal encounter against the West Indies was a close one, as Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels’ decision to take it slow and steady at the start of the innings despite the possibility of rain proved to be their own death rite as they ended up losing by 27 runs according to the D/L method. Sri Lanka might have to have gone through a considerably higher amount of strain had the entire match been played out, but it was not to be.

The key thing to notice in both sides’ extreme success has been the strong presence of one particular element: spin. Both India and Sri Lanka docked up on heir spin resources, and on the spin-friendly tracks in Bangladesh, this has proven to be a brilliant move. For India, it has been Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, and Ravindra Jadeja who have done their magic, while it has been Sachithra Senanayake, Rangana Herath, and Ajantha Mendis (though not all at once), who have done it for Sri Lanka. This has been what set these two sides ahead of other brilliant T20 teams, such as South Africa and Australia, who insisted on going in with just the one spinner per game. Therefore, I feel that apart from being just a clash between India and Sri Lanka, it’s going to be a battle between the two teams’ spinners. What strategy will Sri Lanka have for playing Ravi Ashwin’s carrom ball (which produced an absolute gem of a wicket in the game vs RSA)? Will India be tenacious in their approach towards Rangana Herath? These are some of the questions one must ask for this “spin to win” encounter.

Setting the Stage: 

It’s going to be an emotional game for most cricket fans as it will be the last time we ever see Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jaywardene walk out onto the field for a T20 in Sri Lankan colors. Although both have been far from remarkable so far, it would be lovely to see them do well in this final T20I for them. On other news, it’s interesting that this final should be exactly 3 years and 3 days since the 2011 World Cup Final, which India pulled off quiet a heist to win, courtesy of MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir (you can read my emotional facebook post about it here). While India would use that as inspiration for them, Sri Lanka would want to put the past in the past and look to make a fresh start here. Also, Sri Lanka have often be teased for being a team that only makes it to the finals of tournaments, but never wins. Of course, Sri Lanka broke this tradition by winning the Asia Cup finals against Pakistan, but will want to try and finish that here as well.

Player Contests:

Virat Kohli vs Lasith Malinga: Virat Kohli is currently in the form of his life. With 242 runs at an average of 121, he has single handedly taken the reigns of India’s batting in this tournament. Lasith Malinga, on the other hand, has had a slightly more quiet tournament, as his 5 wickets from 14 overs leaves him lower down down the wicket takers chart than he would be used to. However, that does not nullify the effect he can have one bit. Those slinging yorkers he produces, especially at death, are not by any means easy to pick. Although Malinga has painful recollections of bowling to Virat Kohli, he would still take it upon himself to run one past VK, and if he can get the in-form batsman out early, it would put India in all sorts of trouble.

Ravichandran Ashwin vs Mahela Jaywardene: Ravi Ashwin has had a brilliant tournament so far. His stash of 10 wickets from 19.2 overs at an economy rate of just 4.91 (just as a reminder, this is a T20 tournament) speaks for itself, and there is nothing more that is needed to be mentioned about his impact for India this tournament. Mahela, on the other hand, has had quiet a struggle, having scored just 45 runs across his 4 innings, barring that 89 he made against England. Despite that, Mahela is a known expert against spin, and he would want to do everything in his power to neutralize Ashwin before he can have an effect. On the other hand, Ashwin would want to try and make the veteran batsmen look like Hashim Amla did, and give him a good “send off” in his final ever T20 game.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar vs Kushal Perera: In almost all of Lanka’s games so far in the tournament, they’ve been able to rely on Kushal Perera for a strong start at the head of the innings that would set the tone for the later part. Bhuvneshwar, on the other hand, has been silently baffling batsmen with his sharp swing bowling at the start of the innings, and setting the stage for the spinners to come in for the kill. Both of them would look to dismantle each other in this epic final clash.


While there is really nothing much you would want to change in either of the teams, my only change would be to see Sri Lanka bring back Ajantha Mendis into the side, as particularly against a side with a batting lineup as reputed as India’s they would want to keep as many bowling cards in hand as they can. Although this would leave them with an extended tail, Nuwan Kulasekara and Senanayake are decent batsmen, and can give SL sufficient insurance for that spot.

India (Potential XI):

Ajinkya Rahane

Rohit Sharma

Virat Kohli

Yuvraj Singh

Suresh Raina

MS Dhoni (c & wk)

Ravindra Jadeja

Ravichandran Ashwin

Amit Mishra

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Mohit Sharma

Sri Lanka (Potential XI):

Kushal Perera

Tillakaratne Dilshan

Mahela Jaywardene

Kumar Sangakkara (wk)

Lahiru Thirimanne

Angelo Matthews

Nuwan Kulasekara

Sachithra Senanayake

Rangana Herath

Ajantha Mendis

Lasith Malinga (c)



T20 World Cup – Who Stands Where


Sri Lanka showed the power of their bowling attack as they bowled out Netherlands for just 39, which is the lowest ever T20I score.

This T20 world cup has been very enjoyable so far. With an even contest between both bowler and batsman, we have been able to see some very good cricket being played by the different nations. We have had high-scoring thrillers, such as Australia’s all-but-successful chase against Pakistan’s massive 191, and down-the-wire encounters, such as South Africa’s jailbreak 2-run win against New Zealand. We have been treated to magic from the fingers of the bowlers, as well as brute hitting from the batsmen. Overall, it’s been a league you’d put down your textbook to watch.

How They Stand

So far, the teams stand at fairly even positions. The exceptions would be from Bangladesh and the Netherlands, who are at the bottom of their groups, courtesy of some terrible cricket and tremendous defeats. Some other exceptions would be India and Sri Lanka, who are at the top of their groups having not lost a single game so far in the tournament. Sri Lanka’s first game involved a close but clinical triumph over South Africa, and the second a monstrous thrashing of the Netherlands, in which the latter was bowled out for a mere 39 (which is the lowest total in T20Is ever). The impact of that defeat on Netherlands is very evident as their Net Run Rate currently sits at -6.05. India, on the other hand, overcame both Pakistan and the West Indies courtesy of some marvelous bowling (from Amit Mishra in particular), which gave their batsmen only 130-odd totals to chase. Of course 130 is not necessarily a terrible score, but when your opposition has an Virat Kohli in the form he is in, it is really infinitesimal. All the other teams that have played 2 games stand with one win and one loss.

Who Needs to Buck Up

While India and Sri Lanka stand in paradise for the time being, the other teams need to pick themselves up and push hard if they want a place in the semifinals. At the moment, the West Indies and New Zealand are much better placed than the others, and hence will just need to look to try and keep their spots by winning. However, teams like South Africa, England, Australia and Pakistan suffer from low net run rates, and will need to not only push for wins, but big ones. At the back of the table, Bangladesh and the Netherlands will need to push extremely hard and win huge victories to seize the already improbable chance they have of qualifying.

Net Run Rate Factor

As we have seen so often in so many different T20 tournaments, net run rate can often be the difference between whether a side qualifies or not. This tournament is no different. Net run rate has a crucial role to play, particularly with the small, 5-team groups. In group 1 (Sri Lanka, New Zealand, South Africa, Netherlands and England), Sri Lanka dominate in this aspect as well. Following their colossal thrashing of Netherlands, they stand with a net run rate of +3.23, which is unmatched by any other side (second highest is New Zealand with +0.28). Hence, it is unlikely that any other team would be able to undermine Sri Lanka that way. They will all need to fight for the second spot, and try to bypass New Zealand. In group 2 (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia and West Indies), however, the competition is much wider. Toppers India have a net run rate of just +0.36, and the highest net run rate is +1.75 with the West Indies. This gives all the other teams a chance to pull through if they can get that one big win, which would boost their NRRs.

Who Needs To Do What?

In the case of India and Sri Lanka, I feel that all they need to do would be to play safe and just go for the wins, as that would keep them on top by points, irrespective of NRR. Same case with New Zealand and the West Indies. South Africa and Pakistan have got the groove, but need that one 40-run/3 overs to spare victory to push themselves ahead of the rest. Australia and England have a low NRR due to large defeats, but have the edge of having played only 1 match so far. This gives them more opportunities, but they will still need at least two 40-run wins to push their NRR ahead of the others.


IPL Auctions 2014 – A Look Back

Hey guys,

Firstly, I’m really sorry I couldn’t do any pre-auctions reviews this year. I had an unfortunately high amount of work and also fell sick, so I really had no time to do them.

However, because of that, I’m going to make this post-auction review the best it can possibly be. I’m not going to go in depth on each team, but I’m going to touch on the highlights, and talk about a few things. Hope you enjoy 🙂

At ₹14 crore, Yuvraj Singh was this year’s most expensive player.

This IPL auction was something different for several reasons. Of course, it was the quarterly team revamp auction, but it also featured many different twists to it. For instance, it was done in Indian Rupees, included the Right to Match cards (which you can read about here), and also included uncapped players. While the other two definitely have their own effects, the latter is probably the most crucial, because it meant that teams would have to look to literally build their entire squads in this auction, and would not simply be able to buy some stalwarts in the auction and look to pick up the uncapped players later. Hence, it required a whole new scope of planning from the franchises as they made their purchases in this auction.

There were plenty of highlights of course; most of all was Yuvraj Singh going to the Royal Challengers Bangalore for a hefty sum of 14 crore rupees – which is roughly $2.26 million – making him the second most expensive player in IPL history. His inclusion into the RCB side, along with Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, and AB de Villiers, means that they have what is arguably the most devastating batting unit in the tournament. Next to Yuvraj was Dinesh Karthik, who was snapped up by his first franchise the Delhi Daredevils for an explosive sum of ₹12.5 crore which is around $2.02 million. It was also exciting to see Virender Sehwag  (I do not speak for Delhi fans when I say this) purchased by the Kings XI Punjab, even if it was for a relatively small sum for someone of his stature. Some of the other interesting purchases included the little-known New Zealand quick Matt Henry (CSK), the Zimbabwe wicket-keeper batsman Brendan Taylor (SRH), and the young Australian T20 opener Nic Maddinson (RCB). Another player who earned a surprisingly high sum was the uncapped Indian all-rounder Karan Sharma. Although he was eventually bought back by his former franchise the Sunrisers Hyderabad, it was not before his price had shot up from a mere ₹30 lakh to a mammoth 3.75 crores (about $600,000), which was more than what capped stars like Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, and Brad Hodge got.

The best post-auction squads, in my opinion, are those of the Sunrisers, Kings XI, and Royal Challengers. Kings XI probably made some of the best bargains of the auction, picking up players like Mitchell Johnson, George Bailey, Sehwag, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Thisara Perera; none of whom cost them more than 7 crores. The Sunrisers were probably one of the happiest franchises after the auction, after they walked out with guys like Aaron Finch, David Warner, and Naman Ojha combining with the already-retained Shikhar Dhawan to make up the SRH batting. In addition to this, their overall bowling attack now consists of Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Parveez Rasool, Amit Mishra, and Darren Sammy (which is already enough to make any batsmen pee in his pants), not even including their bench strength. The best part? None of their prices exceeded ₹5.5 crore. With RCB, it is easy to see why their side appears so intimidating. Not many look at a batting order containing Gayle, Kohli, de Villiers, Yuvraj, and Albie Morkel and say “that’s not good enough.” To add to their batting power, they pulled in former Sunrisers keeper batsman Parthiv Patel – who struck some crucial blows at the top of the order for SRH in both IPL 2013 and CLT20 2013 – India’s U19 World Cup hero Vijay Zol, and the talented Kenyan batsman Tanmay Mishra. Their bowling will be spearheaded by the Ozzie new-ball gun Mitchell Starc, ably assisted by Albie, Varun Aaron – one of India’s fastest bowlers today – Ashok Dinda, and Shadab Jakati. Hence, this RCB side resembles the one  the Delhi Daredevils had in 2012, with the beefed up batting and the pace-reliant attack.

Another thing that surprised most was that not many Sri Lankan players were picked at all. In fact, only two – Muttiah Muralitharan and Thisara Perera – were picked in the entire auction. While there are many factors that could possibly have lead to the franchises turning their back on them – most prominent of which is their tour of England that would lead them to miss a large portion of the tournament. Despite that, I find it very surprising that no franchise was willing to make a long-term investment in a T20 specialist like Mahela Jaywardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, or Ajantha Mendis. Of course the franchises may show more interest when they appear in next year’s auctions, but the unconventional shortage of Sri Lankan stars will be something new to the league this year.


IPL Auctions 2014: Ten Stick-Outs in the Lot

Its the new year 2014, and the IPL Auctions 2014 are dawning upon us already. With less than 30 days to go for the first phase of what is arguably the best domestic league in the world, teams are beginning to stir, waking from their long slumber. The list of retained players has already been announced, and if you so desire you can view them here. This auction plans to be much more interesting than the ones before, not only because it is the quarterly-arriving time where the entire teams are reformed, but also because of several new concepts introduced in this auction. The introduction of the “Right to Match” cards are amongst these interesting reforms, in addition to the retention limit going from 4 players to 5. I will do a thorough post that explains what the rights to match card does in another post, as I plan to do a lot of pre-auction posts anyways. In this particular post, I’m going to talk about 10 players who will definitely be on the buying lists of many franchises, and what will make them so valuable. Just so you know, the order they’re listed in has no statistical significance; its just the order I thought of them in. Here we go:


1. Cameron White (Australia)

The hard hitting Victorian has been known for inconsistency in the past, but in the on-going Big Bash League he has made himself heard, leading from the front with 201 runs at an average of 33.83, reinforced with a strike rate of 138.62. He also holds the reigns of captaincy for the Melbourne Stars, and is yet to lose a game this season. Such stats will definitely make White someone the IPL franchises will be looking for. For teams looking for new leaders and complete reform – namely the Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils – this experienced campaigner would be a good option.

Cameron White

2. Luke Wright (England)

While his fellow countrymen were being deep-fried Down Under in the Ashes, Luke Wright was having quiet a ball for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League. Opening the innings with White, he has amassed 275 runs at a strike rate of 151.93 and an average of 34.37, and is the highest scorer for the Stars this year. He is no fool with the ball either, and in fact had an economy rate of 6.5 during Chris Gayle’s memorable assault on the Pune Warriors India during IPL 2013. He is a flexible batsman, and can bat anywhere from opening down to number 6 or 7. I feel that all the teams would love to have him on their side, but with the ECB being touchy about IPL, availability might be an issue for Wright. Still, franchises like RCB and MI would gladly take the risk, as combinations like Gayle and Wright would be beyond deadly.

Luke Wright

Luke Wright

3. Pragyan Ojha (India)

Pragyan Ojha is arguably India’s best test spinner today, but unfortunately he has been overlooked in the limited overs formats, where India’s bowling has taken a severe berating off late. His peak of form in terms of IPL cricket was in the years 2009 and 10, where he played a crucial role in Deccan Chargers’ unexpected title win in 2009, and semifinal place in 2010. He also won the Purple cap in 2010. In 2013, he played an instrumental role in Mumbai’s victory, as he claimed 16 wickets with an economy rate of 7.28, including the crucial wicket of Albie Morkel in the final. It is likely that he will be up for fair auction, as MI chose not to retain him, and are more likely to use their right to match card on Mitchell Johnson. This means that all the franchises will be after him, including MI. The Royal Challengers Bangalore might be willing to invest a lot in him as well, owing to the fact that bowling has been a concern for them in the last few years and Ojha would be able to remedy that well.

Pragyan Ojha

Pragyan Ojha

4. Dwayne Smith (West Indies)

The West Indian all-rounder is known for packing quiet a punch, and I doubt that there will be anyone to doubt that theory. He was devastating from the moment he set foot in the Mumbai Indians camp in 2012, and is remembered for smashing a six and two boundaries off Ben Hilfenhaus’s last three deliveries in the 20th over to snatch MI an improbable victory against the Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2012. However, he struggled in the middle-order from then on. His promotion to opener saw hell break loose, as he absolutely mauled the opposition bowlers and played an instrumental role in Mumbai’s victory of IPL 2013, scoring 418 runs at a strike rate of 122.58. He – like Ojha – will most likely be up for fair auction, as Mumbai did not retain him either, and as I said before, are more likely to use their right to match card on Mitchell Johnson, who was in red-hot form for the Ashes. While his former franchise will undoubtedly do everything they can to snap him up again, teams like CSK and Sunrisers Hyderabad –  who are looking for in-form batsmen to open their batting – will have their eyes on him as well.

Dwayne Smith

5. Aaron Finch (Australia)

Aaron Finch was in utterly decimating form this Big Bash League season. With 262 runs at a strike rate of 148.02 and an average of 52.40, he currently tops the run charts, he has truly been an example of “leading form the front” as he also captained the Melbourne Renegades. Unfortunately, international duty made him unavailable for their last 2 games, and that was only a catalyst that sped up the downfall of the Renegades, as they finished 6th in the league. Nonetheless, his performance is still enough to catch the eyes of any selector. He also scored a whoop-de-do 156 of just 63 against England in August last year, a score which stands as the highest individual T20I score ever. Finch led the now-defunct Pune Warriors India in 2013, and his 456 runs at a strike rate of 135.71 was the most for any batsman from his team, and gave a silver lining to PWI’s otherwise miserable season. The fact that his franchise cannot use a right to match card on him (because they don’t exist anymore) will make him up for fair auction, meaning that he will be under heavy bidding from about every franchise. Teams like Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Daredevils, who are seeking batting reforms, will be particularly interested in him.

Aaron Finch

6. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (India)

Just about a year ago, Bhuvneshwar Kumar made his international debut, and he steamed through batsmen like a hot knife through butter. It has been more than evident that he lacks pace, and has been expensive at the death because of that. However, he is able to swing the new ball both ways, and is capable of wrecking havoc to top-order batsmen, and has even quelled Chris Gayle on many occasions with typical outswingers that caught edges. Although his form has deteriorated slightly over the last couple of months, which led to his dropping from the Test side in favor of Shami Ahmed, he is undoubtedly one of the best of the new-ball bowlers India’s got today, and it’ll be very strange if no IPL franchise decides to go for him. Teams that are looking to reform their teams altogether – such as Delhi or Kings XI Punjab – or teams that have struggled with bowling in the past – such as the Royal Challengers Bangalore – will definitely put a lot of money in him.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

7. Ryan McLaren (South Africa)

This South-African all-rounder has been an integral part of South Africa’s limited overs side, and has guided them to multiple close wins. As a bowler, he has worked with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel to good effect, and was a part of the 5-man pace attack that South Africa used to barrage the Indian visitors on their recent tour. As a batsman, he has not fired quiet as much, but has played quiet a few crucial knocks for RSA, as well as his IPL franchises. Most notable of these knocks was during Kings XI Punjab’s first game of the 2011 IPL, where he came in at 36-5, and made a crucial 43-ball 51, which saved his team many blushes, although they went on to lose the game. Considering also that the IPL may take place in South Africa, McLaren would be a handy player for any team to have on their side. After James Faulkner profited on their home pitch, Rajasthan might want to give McLaren a go as well, to add to their international flavor in their attack.

Ryan McLaren

8. James Neesham (New Zealand)

The New Zealand all-rounder made a large impact in the T20 world after his exploits for the Otago Volts in the CLT20 of 2013. Although his team just missed their semifinal berth, his highlights gave a silver lining for the Volts to remember. He made 92 in 54 balls across his 3 matches, and got out only once. He was able with the ball as well, taking 3 wickets across his 10 overs while keeping his economy rate to a mere 7.00. His best highlight of the league was probably during the super over between Otago Volts and the Highveld Lions, where he managed to defend his total of 13 runs despite giving 10 in the first 2 balls. Neesham’s abilities will be valued by about every team, but teams like RCB – who have been looking desperately looking for one of those all rounders who can be equally brilliant with both bat and ball – should be willing to shell out a large amount for him.

James Neesham

9. Jackson Bird (Australia)

Jackson Bird has been one of the key standout performers in the Big Bash league season this year. Amassing 13 wickets across 7 games with a miserly economy of 6.71 and a stunning average of 14.46, he has been an integral part of the unbeaten Melbourne Stars’ success so far. He currently stands second on the highest wicket takers table, with Cameron Gannon of Brisbane Heat ahead of him. Teaming up with Lasith Malinga, Bird has been Cameron White’s weapon of choice against opposing batsmen throughout this league. The teams that will probably go hardest for him are teams that have lacked the genuine spearhead bowler, such as Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore. However, it would also be just as wonderful to see him in Mumbai Indians or Sunrisers Hyderabad, bowling in tangent with Malinga or Dale Steyn.

Jackson Bird

10. Corey Anderson (New Zealand)

Corey Anderson has been the sensation of the year 2014 so far. After his world-record 36-ball ton against a hapless West Indies attack got everyone to look at him, he’s begun to show some more of his real class. In India’s tour of New Zealand, he whipped up a barrage with the bat, which included a 17-ball 44 that was just a six short of beating the record for fastest ODI fifty as well. He’s no amateur with the ball either. His left arm fast is probably not the most economic source of bowling, with his economy ranging well around the 6-an-over-mark, but he’s picked up nearly 20 wickets in just 12 games, and has already collected a 5-wicket haul. This shows that Corey may well be the vintage T20 all-rounder who gets the top bid for this year’s auction. Although about every team will look to go for him, it will be nice to see him in RCB, since the batting-friendly Chinnaswami Stadium track would definitely be able to bring out the best of Corey.

Corey Anderson


Cricket Attax: Some long lost treasures

Howzit guys, I was looking through the views feed on my admin page, and found that the posts I did with cricket attax pics sometime in 2011 were still getting a fair number of views. Hence, I decided that it would be well worth my time to post some more cricket attax pics, with my commentary on them. So while digging through some of my old stuff, I found these “treasures” that I’ve had for at least two years now. Forgive me for being rather behind time with my cards, since I’ve not purchased any since my last trip to India in December 2012. I’ll do my best to get some 2013 cards to post soon 🙂 So here are some of my more prized cards. Follow along with the slideshow, and the captions represent which card my commentary is about. Hope you enjoy 🙂

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  1. This is my Brendon McCullum Gold. He’s from 2011, and was one of the more rare gold cards around. With a batting of 93, Brendon McC was the strongest wicket-keeper of the 2011 set, and one of the cards I had to really look around to find.
  2. This is my Ravichandran Ashwin Gold. He’s also is from 2011, and although not the rarest card around, he was still a useful one to have around, with a bowling of 92 an batting of 40. He was one of the last golds I got in the 2011 set 🙂
  3. This is my Praveen Kumar Gold. He’s my only gold card from 2012. Although this one was not nearly as valuable as the PK gold from 2011, his bowling score of 87 makes him a fairly helpful card to start your set with.
  4. This is my Sreenath Aravind normal card. He’s from the 2012 set, and my most valuable normal card. One of the many young prodigies who rose in 2011, Aravind’s brilliant show brought him a bowling score of 88, along with an over-rated batting score of 53. Despite the fact that the real Aravind ended up having match economy rates that went up to 17.25, his card is still a very good one to have, particularly since he doesn’t count against your gold/silver count.
  5. This is my Jacques Kallis Silver. He too is from the 2012 set. Although the 2011 one is definitely better, a batting of 84 and a bowling of 71 coupled with 35 runs makes Kallis one of the more valuable silvers, even for 2012.
  6. This is my Iqbal Abdulla Silver. He’s been given the title of “Rising Star Player” because the real Iqqi won the actual award in the 2011 IPL, thwarting other candidates such as Paul Valthaty and Sreenath Aravind. This card is my best bowling card from 2012, with a score of 91. I’m not exactly sure how rare or otherwise this card was, but is still a very powerful one to have nonetheless.
  7. This is my Murali Vijay Gold. He is from the 2011 set. His batting score of 97 made him the fourth-best batsman of the 2011 set, behind only Jacques Kallis gold, Sachin Tendulkar Orange Cap, and Sachin Tendulkar Player of the Tournament. I managed to get him in an extraordinary deal, and he’s one of my best cards.
  8. Last but by no means not least, we have Virender Sehwag normal. He’s from the 2012 set, and one of the few cards who had almost the same score as he did in the previous year. However, with a score of 88 and 35 runs, he is still a devastating card. This could also be said to be one of my tributes to Viru, and one of the many memento of his ruthless run of fine form during the 2011 season.

In case you want to download them:

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Team Australia – Golden Era Over?

End of the road for the Ozzies?

Team Australia. Once the bullies of the cricketing world, home to legends like Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, and Micheal Hussey. Three-time World Cup winners, and arguably the best team of their time. In fact, such was their dominance that playing Australia at home is still referred to as playing “Down Under” because you are literally “Down Under the Heat” when you play there. Even though a most of their legends were gone, they still made South Africa – the number one Test team in the world – really sweat when they toured the Ozzies in the dying months 2012. Even though the visitors eventually edged through to clinch the 3-match series 1-0, the amount of effort it took showed how much it takes to beat the Ozzies. However, this was merely a step towards Australia’s sudden downfall. Despite being stripped of their title of World Champions by India, the 5-0 Whitewash win against the latter, and the tri-series win against India and Sri Lanka helped the Ozzies cover up for the World Cup failure. Nothing wrong here. The true fall began in March, 2013. The Ozzies were coming off a 3-0 win against Sri Lanka, despite not having Ricky Ponting at the time. However, now Micheal Hussey too was gone, and their test side was slightly weaker. They walked right into the wide-opened arms of the Indian side, who re-payed some debts by taking the series 5-0 as the visitors watched helplessly. Only Micheal Clarke and James Pattinson put up some sort of a fight, but it was too little. The next drop came when the Ozzies were stripped of their title of Champions Trophy Champions (true champions huh?) as they exited the tournament without a single league match victory – by India (again). Things didn’t get better by David Warner punching Joe Root. After all this came the Ashes. Although their bowling put up a reasonable fight, the batting failed miserably, as England have treated themselves to a 2-0 lead in the 5-match series. Even Micheal Clarke – who had proven to be their saving grace in Test cricket – failed to get the runs. Couple that with poor use of the DRS, and we got some performances so comically poor, that even Cricket Germany couldn’t resist having a little go at them:

It’s really a shame to see this being the standard of the team that once won three consecutive World Cups, and beat England in England to start the concept of “The Ashes”. Is it the end of the road for the Ozzies? Has the “Golden Era” for the men from Down Under ended? Whatever it is, it is high time for the Australian side to pull up their socks, and get back up to face the heat.


Update: Great Cricket Around Us

Hey guys,

I haven’t been able to update my site much in these past few weeks since I’ve been rather busy. Still, the cricket has still been going along pretty well! Despite the few hiccups which were the spot-fixing cases of several players, the entertainment provided by the game hasn’t been disturbed much. Right from the IPL, where the Mumbai Indians won their first ever IPL title – one that has narrowly been eluding them for six years. Then we have the Champions Trophy, which has been just as exciting. India’s men have been extraordinary, and are showing flashes of brilliance that resemble those of the side that won the 2011 World Cup. Also, luck (and the D/L method) finally went South Africa’s way as they edged past Dwayne Bravo’s West Indian side to get into the semifinals by virtue of a better net run rate after the rain-soaked affair that ended in a tie. Still, M.S Dhoni and AB de Villiers are the only two teams to have assured semifinal spots so far, as everyone in Group A still has a chance of qualifying (yes Australia, you too). Still, I feel that New Zealand – spearheaded by the efforts of Martin Guptill and Mitchell McClenaghan – look favorites to qualify. England, being the home side, would generally start as favorites, but I would say otherwise, after their dismal loss to Sri Lanka. Australia, though, require an enormous slice of luck to get through, and are really stuck in the mud here (David Warner punching Joe Root didn’t help, either). Still, the biggest shockers of this tournament (apart from the men from Down Under) are the Pakistan side. They were rated as favorites to win this season, and have responded by being the first to be knocked out, thanks to some scrappy, below-average batting which lost them both of their league matches. To give you an idea of how dismal they’ve been, only Misbah-Ul-Haq and Nasir Jamshed managed to post double digits in both matches, and are also the only two men from their country to score above 20 in this tournament so far. Even more embarrassing : the Pak side is yet to score 200 runs in a single innings. This – even for a bowling attack consisting of Junaid Khan, Mohammed Irfan, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammed Hafeez and Wahab Riaz – is a little too little to defend. They will look to go out on a high this season with a win over their all-time arch-rivals India today. Other than that, there’s no other game today. Hope you enjoy the match!

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