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Between Two Cups: A 4-Year Journey

 

Yuvraj Singh was Man of the Series in the last World Cup, but 4 years have led to India not selecting him for the squad this year. Image from galleryhip.com

Yuvraj Singh was Man of the Series in the last World Cup, but 4 years have led to India not selecting him for the squad this year.
Image from galleryhip.com

In 2011, during the World Cup, I was in 7th Grade. I had very little homework, and a lot of fun. Sreesanth was still playing cricket, CSK was hardly a controversial franchise, and guys like Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Zaheer and Harbhajan were all still in the Indian side.

It’s been four years. Four long years. Four years since Dhoni thumped Nuwan Kulasekara for the six that won India their first World Cup since 1983. Now, at the dawn of the 2015 World Cup, it feels like a whole age has passed. There’s been so much change in the world that it’s almost hard to believe that the 2011 World Cup wasn’t played during World War II. I’m in 11th grade, and my workload is the cricket equivalent of facing Sunil Narine in Eden Gardens right after a rainstorm: squishy, fatiguing, and all in all agonizing. Sreesanth, along with a whole army of other players involved in spot-fixing, is now out of commision. Even Kevin Pietersen, one of England’s “immortal players” in my opinion, is no longer playing international cricket. Sachin Tendulkar retired. Phil Hughes passed away. Dhoni retired from Test cricket. And of course, this website now celebrates it’s four-year anniversary this coming Friday.

This World Cup features teams that people – if brought from 2011 on a time machine – would be very surprised at. Where’s Sehwag? When did Afghanistan get so good? Who the heck is Glenn Maxwell? It just goes to show that it’s been a dynamic four years. Teams have suckled the sweet nectar of success, and tasted the bitterness medicine of defeat. Some teams have risen resurgent from the ashes, like New Zealand; but for other teams – like India and Sri Lanka – the sun just seems to be setting a little. Regardless, we must remind ourselves that as in history, this is just but a phase in the ever-dynamic world of cricket, and everyone will experience both the roses and their thorns. This World Cup (or any World Cup for that matter) is nothing more than a test to show us who’s enjoying the high tide now, and who isn’t. Nonetheless, it will be a fun contest to watch.

 

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India’s Missing Cog

Image from static.ibnlive.in.com

Imagine you’re a high schooler, like me. You’re going to write your SAT tomorrow, but you’re pretty darn well prepared. Just to savour the victory ahead of time, you decide to try out a practice test. However, you finish the test with a score of 1200 (which is a 22nd percentile, and enough to make your parents mad at you). Has that ever happened to you? Well, that’s exactly what’s happening to the Indian cricketing team right now. They’ve been in Australia for just about 2 months now, and they’ve still not tasted victory. With the World Cup just weeks away (which is by the way being played in Australia and New Zealand), no doubt both Indian fan and player alike would be feeling the heat.
The defending champs have shown on more than one occasion on this tour that they are fighters, but regrettably they have no win to show for their efforts. They’ve has some stars, such as the mature, peerless Ajinkya Rahane and the resurgent, vengeful Virat Kohli, but all in all their performance as a team has been average.
What is wrong with them you may ask? Well I personally feel that their issue is not batting quality (although that has been rather on-and-off as well), but their bowling. To be more specific, their fast bowling. Their quicks simply have not been able to step up, and therefore have not been able to make the dents that people like Mitchell Starc and Steven Finn have been making. Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav have been fast but too wayward, gifting too many runs to the opposition but not keeping up the pressure. Mohammed Shami has had relatively more success, but has still not quite been able to hold on his discipline when bowling long spells. Ishant Sharma was also good on some occasions, but again, he just didn’t have the “oomph” factor that men like Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris had. Even Bhuvneshwar Kumar, once India’s go-to fast bowler, made a very lackadaisical comeback from injury, barely troubling Australia’s batsmen. Now, if there’s something Indian need more than ever, especially with the World Cup looming over, it’s a top grade fast bowler. Not just a guy who can hit the 150’s, but a guy who you can rely on to hit the new ball hard and draw early blood, and then come back in the death and land the final kill. There are going to be plenty of these types of players coming into the World Cup, such as Dale Steyn, Mitchell Starc and Lasith Malinga. If India want to be able to hold on to their trophy, they will need such a bowler. It’s probably too late to call up a new face, so for now India will have to trust Shami, Umesh, Ishant and Bhuvi, and just hope for the best. However, in the long run, it is imperative that India look for a pacer who they can rely on.
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IPL 2015: The Released XI

by iplgeek 0 Comments

Amongst the released players is Yuvraj Singh, the most expensive player of the 2014 Auctions (image from sportskeeda.com).

In the last few days, we’ve seen a lot of players being released prior to the 2015 IPL. In past seasons, this releasing window has been a usually uneventful time, where franchises release a few random low-price players to free their roster a bit. However, this time we’ve seen a massive movement, with some really big names hitting the released list. I made a playing XI out of these released players, fitting in the biggest names.

1. Murali Vijay (DD): Vijay had a pretty lean run for Delhi in the 2014 season, with a paltry 207 runs at an average of 18.81. That, and his massive price tag of 5 crore rupees, is what probably led to the franchise letting him go. However, his scores of 53 and 99 in the first test Down Under indicates that the Daredevils might have missed a trick by letting him go.

2. Aaron Finch (SRH): Finchy had a lukewarm run this IPL, with 309 runs at an average of 28.09. Nonetheless, he was never quite the impact player that the Sunrisers wanted, as they ended up slipping to 6th place.

3. Jacques Kallis (KKR): Well, to be completely honest, we cannot say that we didn’t see this one coming. KKR pretty much gave up on Kallis 8 matches into the tournament, and preferred to run in with Ryan Ten Doeschate as the fourth overseas player along with Morne Morkel, Sunil Narine and Shakib Al Hassan. Injuries to other players meant that he got a few games in the Champions League, where he played a memorable knock against the Hobart Hurricanes to take KKR into the final, but I think that the Golden Era of Jacques Kallis in IPL is pretty much over.

4. Kevin Pietersen (DD): Cricket is a lovely game, but can have a terrible twist. Kevin Pietersen’s fate is just another example of that. Prior to IPL 7, he had been dropped by the English side, but offered a massive Rs. 9 crore deal from the Delhi Daredevils, and made their skipper shortly after. It was the perfect chance for Kevin Pietersen to lash the whip at the ECB. However, this story turned out to have a rather naturalistic twist to it, as his side finished at the bottom of the table, and Pietersen himself scored only 294 runs. And now, come the reformation era, he’s been released, and will most likely be up for grabs in the IPL Auctions 2015 (where the Daredevils may seek to buy him back at a cheaper price).

5. Yuvraj Singh (RCB): In the ICC World Cup 2011, Yuvraj Singh was India’s hero, as he seemed to be able to score runs and take wickets by the sheer power of his will. Now, with the 2015 World Cup just a few months away, things are very different for the Prince of India. He’s was not included in the Indian World Cup Probables’ list, and has now been dropped from the RCB roster. Despite starting off the 2014 IPL with a blazing half century, he had a lean period that stretched through most of the tournament, before he finally brought out some fireworks that brought some light to what was otherwise was a dismal exit for the Royal Challengers. I’m guessing that it was not poor performance that caused the RCB management to make their decision as much as the fact that he consumed 14 crores of their auction money, which means that they may well try and buy him back in the auction.

6. Brad Hodge (RR): Since his acquisition in IPL 2012, Brad Hodge has undoubtedly been one of Rajasthan’s most valuable players. Nonetheless, last season Steve Smith showed much more potency that he did, and that is why I think they dropped him. Still, I think it’s a queer option, as Shane Watson’s dastardly form last year showed that RR would be well advised to have a backup batsman on the side. He is still one of the best T20 batsmen in the world today, and I’m sure that some team will be willing to pay big bucks for him, even if it isn’t the Royals.

7. Dinesh Karthik (DD): I think that Dinesh Karthik’s sacking was probably the saddest decision of the lot, along with Yuvraj. This is perhaps because of the fact that he was one of the few batsmen who did something for Delhi. He was the only batsman to cross 300 runs apart from JP Duminy, and while he was understandably not his 100%, he did more than most of the other batsmen. Like in the case of Yuvraj, I think that this is more related to the fact that he cost the franchise 12.5 crores to hire that led them to their harsh decision, and I’m sure they will try and get him back ahead of IPL 2015.

8. Darren Sammy (SRH): In 2013, it was Sammy’s two sixes that pulled the Sunrisers into a semifinal berth in their debut season. In IPL 2014, he managed to hit just six more sixes than that in the 108 runs he scored. He was dismal in this season, and failed to make the impact that inspired the Sunrisers to fight to buy him back in the 2014 Auctions. It was probably just the fact that Shikhar Dhawan was a lousy captain and Moises Henriques’ indifferent form that kept him in the playing XI for most of the tournament. Overall, Sammy will need to buck up and try to redeem himself with his new franchise in 2015.

9. Irfan Pathan (SRH): Yusuf had a bit of a blast towards the end of IPL 2015, but it was rather lean for the other Pathan. Irfan barely managed to make an impact with the bat, and was barely trusted with the ball. This is undoubtedly the awakening period in IPL, and the fate of Irfan confirms it. Franchises are no longer willing to express sympathy to a player because they’re Indian; if you don’t perform, you’re out. Hopefully this is a wakeup call for Irfan, and a reminder to some other players.

10. Amit Mishra (SRH): I must admit that I never saw this one coming. Amit Mishra had a terrible season last year (7 wickets from 10 games with an E/R of 9.06), not to mention this hilarious incident. Again, I think it’s a wake up call for players who’ve been coasting on IPL contracts just because they’re capped Indian players. It’s a blunt reminder that talent, not nationality is what matters in the world of cricket.

11. Pragyan Ojha (MI): The irony of MI releasing Pragyan Ojha is just so sweet that I cannot help but post it. MI picked Ojha with their RTM card, which they could have used on Glenn Maxwell or Dwayne Smith (who finished first and second on the MVP list respectively). Then, he ends up bowling so terribly (4 wickets in 12 matches, E/R 8.26) that they throw him out. It’s just so sad for MI (more for their fans). Nonetheless, Ojha was pretty bad, so we must say that MI were justified in throwing him out.

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The IPL Trading Window – MI

Vinay Kumar is one of MI’s 3 new imports for the year. (Image from gocricket.com)

The IPL Trading window has been going very well so far. I’m personally very happy to see that teams are actually using it this time (as opposed to last year), and I’m also glad that I can actually understand why the teams made the decisions they did.

The Mumbai Indians have been the most active, dropping 2 of their players and acquiring 3. The two players they dropped were Praveen Kumar and Michael Hussey.

With PK, I can see why they did what they did. The seamer was, after all, only a replacement for Zaheer Khan, and while he did not underperform, he did not do enough to give MI enough reason to retain him. Still, I personally would have thought that MI would have done well to retain PK, owing to the fact that Zak is injury prone.

With Hussey, however, I was more surprised. Although he had a poor showing in the UAE, he made a strong comeback in the India leg of the tournament, and brought experience to the playing 11 that would have been much missed after Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement. This again shows the fickle nature of the Mumbai Indians unit in terms of their player choices. Players such as Richard Levi, Davy Jacobs, and Corey Anderson were all players who delivered momentary bursts of brilliance, and were immediately snapped up by the franchise. However, when they failed to show, they were discarded almost as quickly as they were purchased. Jacobs and Levi were dropped following the 2012 IPL, and Corey was not a part of the playing XI for any of MI’s games in their forgettable CLT20 run this year. Same thing has happened to Hussey here. I’m guessing that it’s because of the unexpected rise of Lendl Simmons as an opener. His revolutionary rise to the occasion when Mumbai were all but out of the IPL is probably what inspired them to give him their slot for overseas opener.

Now on to their purchases. With Unmukt Chand and Parthiv Patel, I believe that it is yet again a part of Mumbai’s black hole desire for opening batsmen. Since Tendulkar’s retirement and Dwayne Smiths’ leaving MI, they have been searching for that suitable pair to open the innings. Hence, players like Hussey, CM Gautham and Ben Dunk were tried, but in vain. This, I assume, is just a continuation of that need to fill the void. Parthiv Patel was scintillating for RCB in the first few games of the tournament, but he quickly sizzled out, and failed to make much more of an impact. Nonetheless, he has shown on numerous occasions that he can be a stable opener, and could well be the answer to MI’s opening issue. As with Chand, he received well below his due playing time in IPL 2014, which I assume is due to Karun Nair’s extraordinary form. However, he can be a forceful opener for the MI squadron, and I feel that spending some time under greats like Tendulkar, Johnty Rhodes, Shaun Pollock and Anil Kumble would give the youngster an excellent chance to hone not only his cricketing skill, but his leadership skills as well. This experience could be one that would prepare him to be a future leader of India.

As for Vinay Kumar, the only reason I can find for their picking him is Zak’s injury situation. Although he is by no means a very economic bowler, Vinay is an aggressive wicket taker, who can choke oppositions at the right times. The Karnataka skipper also brings some experience with him, which can be useful for nurturing some of the other young bowlers in the MI squad.

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What Happened to India?

Along with the rest of the Indian lineup, Cheteshwar Pujara had a below-par time in England. (Image from espncricinfo.com)

Along with the rest of the Indian lineup, Cheteshwar Pujara had a below-par time in England. (Image from espncricinfo.com)

July 21st, 2014: Indian won in Lord’s for the first time in 28 years. It was a day to rejoice, and Indian fan and cricketer alike were all happy. However, the cloud of jubilation proved to be but a mask of what would come next. The English batsmen began the third test with an attack of renewed vigour to register a massive total of 569 before James Anderson and Moeen Ali cleaned up the dazed Indian lineup to register a mighty 266 run victory; their first since beating Australia in the Ashes during the summer of 2013. The Indian side never quite looked the same again, as they were routed for 152 and 161 within 3 days during the 4th test, registering one of the meekest surrenders in cricket history. At the start of the 4th test, Independence Day luck failed India as they collapsed yet again to register only 148. Now down 2-1 in the series (with 1 draw), it is hard to see how this young Indian side, which had looked so authoritative back in Lord’s, managed to bring themselves down to such a lowly fate.

 

The biggest problem in the last 2 tests was undoubtedly the Indian batting lineup’s failure to click. Virat Kohli in particular has failed to give India those strong partnerships and 100-ball innings you see from guys like Kumar Sangakkara. Even Ajinkya Rahane – who looked set to be India’s Mr. Dependable in the making after his mature Lord’s century – stuttered and spluttered in the last few innings. Only a few “rescue operations” (literally) innings from MS Dhoni and R Ashwin saved the Indians from sub-100 scores in the last few innings.

 

This may lead you to the conclusion that it is easy to blame the losses entirely on India’s batting, but don’t cast your judgement just yet. We must also take into accord England’s bowling. After the Lord’s test, England took a bit of a gamble bringing in 4 specialist fast-bowlers and leaving only 1 part-time spinner. However, it paid off dramatically well. James Anderson and Stuart Broad were the key figures, as they demolished the Indian batting as clinically as German U-Boats sunk Allied shipment during WWII. Don’t forget Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes though. While they may not have done the damage done by the Broad-Anderson duo, they definitely made an impact, silencing a few batsmen and allowing the pressure to creep on them. Now the bottom line question arises: why couldn’t India do the same? Why couldn’t India’s bowlers dive bomb the British batsmen as efficiently as their English counterparts had done to theirs?

 

There are quite a few reasons for this. The first is poor selection. Where England played 4 full-time seamers, India played just 3, of whom 1 was debuting and 1 was not known for his pace (in the 3rd test). Hence while they were not terrible, they did not do as much as Anderson and Broad had. Their problem was that their selection did not have the pace needed to repeat what Ishant Sharma did back in Lord’s. Varun Aaron had more success in the 4th test, as he picked up 3 wickets, including a lovely inswinger to knock over Moeen Ali. He was probably bowling slower than he would during a T20 to preserve his fragile fitness, but was still fast enough to trouble the English batsmen. This is where it might have been handy to use someone like Umesh Yadav (not selected for the tour) or Mohammed Shami ahead of Stuart Binny or Pankaj Singh, as those guys are probably the fastest bowlers we have in India today and might have had a strong impact.

 

The second issue is inexperience. India’s complete revamp of the side in the past 3 years has stripped them drastically of hardened international experience. In fact, Ishant Sharma is the only Indian pacer who’s played the tour to debut before 2013. In England, on the other hand, James Anderson and Stuart Broad are hardened veterans, and Woakes and Jordan have a good level of experience with English tracks, even if not much at the international level. Therefore the English side was able to outplay the Indians on experience alone (the inexperienced Indian lineup did not help). Even though guys like Mohammed Shami possessed the pace to dent England, their lack of experience barred the way. Persisting with Zaheer Khan might help. Even though he is injury prone and possesses only flashes of the potent that made him such a lethal bowler a few years ago, he would help smooth the transition into the new generation for India’s quicks.

 

This tour has been a bittersweet one for India (maybe more bitter than sweet though). They lost two crushing defeats, true, but it’s not everyday that you win a test at Lord’s. I personally feel it will be a tour of comprehension for India. It is time for them to find some way to either bring an experience equilibrium to the squad, or get their youngsters accustomed to foreign conditions (through domestic leagues in different countries). Even if India lose the series, I feel it will be a good wake-up call for them, and will hopefully spark some degree of reform and change, so we have a better, classier Indian side too watch in the near future.

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Plants vs. Zombies 2: Intro for Dummies

Image from www.droid-life.com

Plants vs. Zombies 2 is a tower defence game that is one of my mobile gaming apps. The goal of the game is to place plants on your lawn to prevent Zombies from getting to the other side and eating your brains. There are currently five different worlds, each with different types of Zombies and Plants.

Another reason this app is so good is that it provides an excellent “play without paying” experience. Unlike other games where you can only enjoy a severely restricted portion without paying, PvZ 2 lets you enjoy the entire game for free. The only things you pay for are extra plant types, upgrades, gems, and coins. However, you do not need to buy any of these in order to complete the game. The only thing you need to be able to complete Plants vs. Zombies 2 is a smartphone, internet access (to download the app), and a thirst for strategy and fun.

I’m not going to give you too many details on the specifics of the game itself. Those things are more enjoyable if you find out yourself while playing, and begin to know the game as a hardened sailor knows the seas. However, I will write some strategy posts for the game in addition to my cricket posts. Hope you enjoy! The app is available both on the Apple App Store and the Android Play Store.

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The Match Beyond Cricket: A Psychological War

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More than just the statistical advantage, cricketers are always looking to gain a psychological advantage wherever possible (image from cricketmademecrazy.blogspot.kr)

A cricket match is seen, in essence, as a duel between two sides with the bat and ball. While that is the textbook definition of what’s going on, there is often another duel that takes place on the cricket pitch. The battle of minds. This battle is, as I like to put it, “the match beyond the cricket.” It is not something that can be shown in numbers, but can be felt in the atmosphere of the match. When the bowler fires in an attacking short ball and gives you a death stare, or when the keeper is taunting your batting average, you’ve got psychological war going on.

This battle is of such importance not because of any value it has to the statistical aspect of the game (the ump isn’t gonna give you five runs for bullying the keeper) but because it can affect the rhythm of a player, and lead to profound consequences.

This is why it is so important for players to play for the psychological absence as well as the statistical one. Batsmen need to make sure the bowler never gains the format foot over them, and vice versa. This is why I feel that (in limited overs cricket) the first 3 balls of an over are the equivalent of the center of the board in chess. The one who makes the most of those three balls puts himself in a great position to gain a psychological advantage over his opponent. For example, if a batsman smashes 3 boundaries in the first 3 balls, he leaves the bowler a little uncomfortable: why aren’t his methods working? He then is forced to try something new, often beyond his comfort zone, to try and dislodge the batsman. In other words, he’s left playing “catch up”.

At this stage, the batsman can relax a bit more, and simply take what can be taken. Even if it’s three singles, the damage has been done. What also happens is that the bowler has a higher tendency to make errors, which can cost him runs. Same thing applies the other way around as well. If the bowler bowls three good deliveries that the batsman is unable to play, he may resort to something beyond his comfort zone, most commonly the exotic reverse sweep, which would lead to his wicket falling (which in most cases is more severe than leaking runs).

However, beyond this we must also consider the fundamental reason a player ventures outside his comfort zone to try and regain a lost advantage: pressure. All players feel pressure, especially when they’re up against the wall, trying to hold together a delicate situation. True, it is this pressure is often what brings the best out of players, and makes cricket that much more exciting. However, it can also do terrible things to players. It can turn absolute gentlemen into cussing ruffians. It can get a batsman bowled attempting a paddle scoop of a delivery he would have thwacked straight down for six another day. It can make a bowler bowl wide full tosses even if he’d got his yorker right 60 times in a row the night before. It can even make fielders drop catches they would have held on to single-handedly another day. In short, pressure can bring out the demons of any player, and is in short, the “atom bomb” of this psychological war. If a player succumbs to pressure and loses his nerve, he will be crushed by the boulder of the game and it’s demands. Luckily, the more experienced cricketers usually never go that low, as the power of personal experience keeps them resilient. However, for younger players, with little experience and high expectations for themselves, this pressure can be like a death blow. How often have we seen young batsmen fall playing rash shots when the going got tough? How often have we seen young bowlers completely fall apart to assaults from batsmen? Again, it just goes to show that cricket is as much a mind game as it is a physical one.

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Cricket On The Scorecard – A Visualising Experience

Cricket is undoubtedly one of the most exciting sports there is. Both for the polished analyst as well as that guy who lives for exciting moments, cricket has plenty to offer. While the best experience undoubtedly comes from watching from the stadium itself, television has evolved so much that now watching from your HD TV with surround speakers and a box of pizza with ice cream for dessert provides an experience just as enthralling. However, this experience is often a tad harder to get for us cricket fans who live in countries where cricket is not quite the hot sport. Stadium watching is completely out of the question (unless you have a lot of money and passion), and getting high quality streams is sometimes very tedious. I know that starsports streams a majority of the big matches, but probably because I live in Korea, this starsports gives me this message of death instead of cricket more often than not:cons of cricket in koreaRacism….pfft (just kidding).

The only other streams available to me are ones that have such low quality and so much buffering that I usually just prefer to go watch IPL highlights.

To add to all of this, ICC clearly didn’t plan the timing of the matches to suit to the Korean time zone, so I often found myself rolled up in my bed, laptop on low volume, watching Yuvraj Singh pulverising Australia, or the West Indies outplaying Bangladesh at 2 AM. It is nonetheless fun, but it does cut in with my sleep, and sleep is good.

After watching this guy at 1 AM, I'm surprised I didn't get nightmares. Image credits: @AltCricket

After watching this guy at 1 AM, I’m surprised I didn’t get nightmares.
Image credits: @AltCricket

 

So in the end, my most reliable form of cricket viewing has been my cricket apps on my iPod. My favourite one used to be Yahoo Cricket’s app, which I found was neat and gave me all the info I needed. However, for some reason it lost its sense of time, and began to show scores with a delay. That’s when I switched to the espncricinfo app, which after updates, has proven to be one of the best apps I’ve ever used.

Now, I use these apps not just for the score, but for the commentary. The commentary is what helps you relive the match, and imagine what may have happened. They say good authors allow you to “live their books”. While the commentary provided on cricinfo may not be a literary work of art, but it helps me visualise nonetheless. While I may not be able to actually watch the match, I can still live the gameplay in my head. For example, if the commentary says Wriddhiman Saha is pulling Sunil Narine for sixes, I try and envision how that may work. Sometimes I may see him sitting on one knee and pulling him, or taking a step back to pull a shorter one. While the commentary does sometimes provide details that specify which one it actually is, the process of imagining it itself is quite incredible. This way, you can create your own image of cricket inside your head, which I feel is something every cricketist needs to be able to do.

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What have RCB Done Wrong?

 

Image Credits: BCCI

Chris Gayle. Virat Kohli. Yuvraj Singh. AB de Villiers. Albie Morkel. Mitchell Starc. Each and every one of these players is a game-changer in T20 cricket, and has a great reputation of absolutely decimiating oppositions to clinch victories. Inarguably, most IPL franchises would pay big money for any one of these players. But all of them in one team? That’s a “fantasy team legend”…. and the side RCB has this year. When they walked out of the auction with a squad like this most people were convinced that they were favorites for the cup. After all, with that many match winners, someone would get them over the line. However, it has been far from that for the Royal Challengers this year. With 6 losses and 3 wins from 9 games, they now stand at 7th place, just ahead of the Delhi Daredevils. One may ask, how did this happen? Quite understandably too. After all, the chances of Virat Kohli (the man who came out of the T20 World Cup with an average exceeding 100), AB de Villiers (Mr. Awesome), Yuvraj Singh (Stuart Broad’s nightmare), and Chris Gayle (Chris Gayle), fail to make it large? Well, here’s what seems to have happened. Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli have looked very scratchy, and have often given their wickets away cheaply. This is why we have often seen the RCB batting card with 2 in the wickets column well before they would have liked. Also, a scratchy Yuvraj Singh (barring his gallant shows of marvel against RR and DD) has stuck the wheels on RCB, and not allowed them to gain momentum. AB de Villiers has carried too much of the weight, and even he was in indifferent form back in the UAE leg of the tournament, and it took a show against his old buddy Dale Steyn to get him back in color. The other batsmen have done precious little as well, as Parthiv Patel, Rilee Rossuow, Nic Maddinson, Yogesh Takawale, and Sachin Rana all have fallen flat, and not done justice to their selections. Albie Morkel has not looked like the genuine all-rounder he has been known for, as his bowling has not been economic, and his shot selection has been simply terrible, especially considering the situations he often walked into. Mitchell Starc has actually often been smarter as a batsman than he has, and as a result lasted longer at the crease. Their bowling was stellar for the first part, with Yuzvendra Chahal, Starc, and Varun Aaron high in the wickets column. However, in the last two games against KXIP and RR, their fast bowlers received a mauling at the hands of David Miller, James Faulkner, and Steve Smith, and ultimately conceded extremely high totals.

Some potential remedies:

The batting needs to begin to settle. They need to find a combination at the top which can play a calm, composed game to build partnerships, and set a strong foundation for the finishers. Parthiv Patel looked good for this, but effort to try and go big too often in the last few games has sucked him in. Vijay Zol played some very good shots against Rajasthan before he fell, and would not be a bad opening partner for PP, if Gayle is unfit.

The Bangalore track has offered good purchase to spinners. However, the RCB attack – with only one pro spinner – has been unable to take advantage of this. With the poor form of Ashok Dinda, they may want to consider using Shadab Jakati, the experienced left-arm spinner from Goa. He had a good stint with Chennai from the 2008-12 era, and will have plenty to offer for RCB.

If they can do this, RCB might achieve a turnaround, and achieve the already-improbable semifinal berth.

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A Long Weekend of IPL

Yuvzendra Chahal has been one of the finds of the tournament. (Image from iplt20.com)

 

IPL is here. The most awaited event in the cricketing world barring World Cups, the IPL brings in a new essence of fickleness and thrill to cricket. In fact, we’ve already seen a 200-run chase, even though its been only 4 days since the start of the tournament. We’ve also seen how unpredictable it can be, as Mumbai Indians cartwheeled from a well-poised 60-2 in 9 overs to a paltry 115-9 in their 20 overs. Overall, its been a fabulous tournament already, and I can’t wait to see what the next month and half will bring!

The start of the IPL has was awaited event for me. Of course, watching it from South Korea is rather hard, owing to the fact that the 8 PM game begins at midnight, but being a hardcore cricket fan, I’ve managed to fight that obstacle and stay awake to see my favorite players rock the stage. I failed to catch the essence of the first game, owing to my over reliance on starsports.com (which apparently only streams in the subcontinent), and ended up with a terrible quality stream, to which I preferred simply catching the highlights next day during lunch break. For the rest of the games, however, I managed to find the correct YouTube streaming channel, and have managed to catch each and every match. And boy, did my dedication pay off. As mentioned in the intro paragraph, I’ve already been treated to Glenn Maxwell’s reverse sweeps, Yuvzendra Chahal’s googlies, Sunil Narine’s mystery, and Lasith Malinga’s yorkers, to name a few. There’s been some lovely contests, as Glenn Maxwell out shined Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith as KXIP successfully chased CSK’s 205-run total, and Virat Kohli combining with Yuvraj Singh to barrage the hapless Delhi Daredevils for sixes to successfully chase 145 with 20 balls to spare.

So far, I feel that two players who have impressed greatly are Parthiv Patel and Yuvzendra Singh Chahal. Since the moment Richard Madlee’s hammer hit the deck (and SRH declined to use ther RTM), Parthiv was doomed to be the minnow in the shadow of Gayle, Kohli and de Villiers. After all, what could be expected from a little man with an average barely over 20 and a strike rate barely over 100? However, Parthiv has been the not hid in the shadow, but cast his own. So far, he has epitomized the ideal opening partner for Chris Gayle. He’s played with beautiful temperament, and has taken the pressure off the rest of RCB’s batting lineup. Versus Delhi, he lead the charge with some aggressive batting to allow Virat Kohli to settle in, and against Mumbai he played a steadying innings to help RCB get off the hook after they were at 17-3. His good form also covered for Nic Maddinson’s lapses, and I am sure he will be incredible when Chris Gayle returns. Chahal was, I admit, a surprise choice as first spinner ahead of the much more experienced Shadab Jakati. However, it was nothing to the incredibility of his performance. He has taken 3 wickets across 2 games, with economy rates under 5 in each game. He is also yet to concede a boundary this tournament. However, his true beauty lies in his variations. For example, he bowled a beautiful legbreak to bowl over Murali Vijay on the very first ball of the season he bowled, and then bowled some beautiful wrong-uns vs MI to remove Kieron Pollard and Rohit Sharma. All the more impressive, considering he has played only 1 IPL match before this. Overall, Chahal looks like a promising talent, and RCB can rest their spin responsibilities on him.

 

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