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Bowler Banzai: What Happened to Malinga and Narine?

by iplgeek 0 Comments
Lasith Malinga and Sunil Narine (image from ibnlive.in)

Lasith Malinga and Sunil Narine (image from ibnlive.in)

IPL 2015 is 32 matches in, and is thrilling as ever. We’ve seen some excellent cricket from some of the best. However, there have been some shockers so far as well. Most of all, Sunil Narine and Lasith Malinga. Malinga, despite his 10 wickets – four of which came in his last game against the Sunrisers – has been quite expensive, going at 7.96 runs to the over, an economy rate which – for someone of Malinga’s calibre – is just not up to par. Narine, on the other hand, has played 5 matches thus far, and taken 2 wickets – something he made double of in his very first match in the 2014 IPL (and Brad Hogg equalled in his first over against CSK last night).

Now Malinga and Narine are two of those bowlers who’s good form we just seem to take for granted, and to see them fail is something of an “end of the world” scenario. Malinga, with 129 wickets, is by far the highest wicket-taker of the tournament, outstripping his nearest competitor (Amit Mishra; 109 wickets) by 20 wickets. Narine, in his 4-year IPL career, has achieved nearly everything a bowler could hope to achieve in the IPL (except the elusive Purple Cap award) – a hat-trick, a 5-er, Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket, you name it. So what could be causing these greats to look so mediocre so far in this tournament?

For Narine, I think we could probably accredit that to his bowling action change. Last October, he was suspended following reports of an illegal bowling action, and this subsequently led to his not being selected for the 2015 World Cup – where he was missed dearly by the West Indies lineup. He was cleared in time for the IPL, but the first delivery he served up in the tournament was a juicy full-toss just outside off, which an in-form Rohit Sharma gladly crashed through the covers for a boundary. He was good, but couldn’t quite bring out that magical bowling that we associate with Sunil Narine. Malinga, on the other hand, looked quite off-color even in the World Cup, where he managed only 12 wickets in his 63.4 overs, and at a rather expensive 5.56 runs to the over. Some have said that his age of brilliance is coming to it’s end, but the thing is that he has still shown some brilliance. A maiden to Chris Gayle whilst defending 209. A wonderful spell of 4/23 to puncture the Sunrisers Hyderabad. These things have shown that he isn’t completely dead just yet, and has still got some juice in him.

Now what has happened to Narine and Malinga? Is it something technical, or is it just the law of averages catching up with them? Either way, we must acknowledge that every cricket player goes through bad patches in his or her career, and it’s how you’re able to pick yourself up and rise from those bad patches that truly defines who you are as a cricket player. And knowing Malinga and Narine, I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before they’re back in their usual legendary composures.

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KKR vs. RCB: The Poor Little Rich Attack

by iplgeek 0 Comments

Chris Gayle made his first IPL fifty in 2 years to give RCB their first win in IPL 2015 (Image from iplt20.com)

On Saturday night, the Kolkata Knight Riders slumped to their first defeat since May 5th, 2014. They played good cricket, but there is little you can do once Chris Gayle has gotten rolling. Even KKR’s famed spin attack – that has been stifling opponents since 2012 – seemed insufficient to take on the Big Jamaican.

I definitely feel that Chris played a major role in RCB’s success, but not in the obvious way. You see, RCB was able to gain momentum and keep the run rate from escalating too high due to the fact that KKR had long gaps of overs where they didn’t have any of their potent bowlers running through overs. And the reason for this can be directly attributed to Chris Gayle. See, Gayle – if you didn’t know – is a left-handed batsman. And most left-handed batsmen, especially those of Chris’ calibre, are known for being able to take on slow orthodox and leg spinners well, because their natural stock deliveries turn into the left-hander. Hence, Gambhir had lost access to two of his main bowlers – Shakib al Hassan and Piyush Chawla – as soon as Gayle had walked out onto the pitch. 8 overs of quality spin down the drain right there. To unlock them, needed to get Gayle out early. This is why I feel he bowled Sunil Narine as early as the second over of the match. If Gayle had fallen to Narine, Shakib and Piyush would be able bowl, and RCB would’ve had a tough path ahead.

However, Gayle survived Narine’s first 2 overs and Morne Morkel’s 3. Now Gambhir was under the pump. Morkel had removed Virat Kohli (who had decided to open the innings), but didn’t have the important wicket of Gayle yet. However, to give Narine another over would leave his death bowling reserves precariously low. Now this situation I think is the result of something that happened before the match even began: the dropping of Umesh Yadav. Dropping their only other specialist quick denied Gambhir another option to bowl the death, and more importantly, another speedster he could throw at Gayle early on. In fact, it was Yadav that removed Gayle the last time these two teams met. Leaving him out for KC Cariappa left Gambhir one less bowler who he could bring in later on. This raises questions as to whether Cariappa should have been brought in ahead of Piyush Chawla instead of Yadav. As shown, Gambhir trusted Cariappa to bowl to Gayle, something that he clearly did not trust Chawla with. If this had been done, Gambhir would have had four extra overs he could gamble with, and would not have been choked for resources as he was.

After Narine and Morkel were removed from the attack, Cariappa and Andre Russell came in to bowl. Neither could make make any impact against Gayle. Then, no one else to turn to, Yusuf Pathan – the part-time off-break bowler – was handed the ball. He produced immediate success, crashing into the stumps of Dinesh Karthik and Mandeep Singh. However, neither was Chris Gayle, so the objective had not been completed. Yusuf was handed an additional 3 overs, with the same purpose in mind, but this turned out to be more of a blessing for RCB than anything else, as both Gayle and AB de Villiers took Pathan apart, ending his spell at 4-0-40-2. This ensured that RCB’s required run rate never creeped above 11, and hence they were at relative ease, which might have made all the difference.

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Kolkata Knight Riders: Season Preview

As done with the last several posts, watch my podcast for my ideas on the squad as it came fresh out of the auction:

Following their purchases in the 2014 IPL Auction, the Kolkata Knight Riders received much criticism from people for picking a squad of either out-of-form or rejected players. While that is true, one cannot forget that the players in their lineup are match-winners, and have made a great impact in the IPL. For instance, Robin Uthappa has not played an international match since 2012, but we all know what he has done on the IPL platform in the past. Vinay Kumar had what was probably the worst night of his life during the final India Australia ODI in Bangalore, where he went for 102 in 9 overs, but his death bowling for RCB is still something to remember. Piyush Chawla also came into their ranks, and while he is not the most reliable spinner in the world, he may be a wicket taking partner for Sunil Narine. Nonetheless, this IPL will need to be a wake-up call for Yusuf Pathan, who despite being brought back by KKR, received only Rs. 3.25 crores (roughly $540,000), which is a 75% paycut from his original $2.1 million in 2011. On paper, the KKR squad looks fairly strong, with other quality overseas recruits like Jacques Kallis, Shakib Al Hasan, Morne Morkel, and Chris Lynn. Although the rustiness of their armor might turn on them, KKR still have the potential to pull off something spectacular.

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

Manish Pandey

Jacques Kallis

Gautam Gambhir (c)

Robin Uthappa (wk)

Shakib Al Hasan

Ryan Ten Doeschate

Yusuf Pathan

Vinay Kumar

Piyush Chawla

Sunil Narine

Umesh Yadav

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IPL and KKR

Hey everyone, sorry I’ve not been kind of busy off-late. Well here’s a post now. The IPL has been going on extremely well, with so many close clashes, including one super over, a 200+ score, and two 90+ scores already. The Orange and Purple Caps have been fought for and switched repeatedly, and we’ve been treated to some first class entertainment by our brilliant teams and players – Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, and Dinesh Karthik in particular. So now I wanted to talk about one team in particular: The Kolkata Knight Riders. Other than their first game, their combinations went horrible wrong, as they lost to Rajasthan and Bangalore in 2 consecutive games. However, they found their IPL 5 form against the Sunrisers, as their batting lineup fired well for the first time, and their bowling worked like it had last year. Sachithra Senanayake has taken Shakib Al Hasan’s place as a second spinner, and Eoin Morgan’s good form has ensured that he and Manvinder Bisla stayed ahead of Brendon McCullum or Brad Haddin. Their biggest worry should be Yusuf Pathan’s mediocre form. He has scored 48 runs at a strike rate of 126.31, which is not to bad, but for the $2.1 million he was purchased for, he may want to get some runs quickly. If their players can regain some of their form, then they can definitely be the “next CSK” as they plan to be. Well, thats all for now. Adios 🙂

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KKR vs DD – A post-match review

Well, the IPL has started with another banger. The Kolkata Knight Riders managed to snatch a 6 – wicket win from their opponents the Delhi Daredevils. Gautam Gambhir won the toss for the Knights and chose to field first on the Eden Gardens track. The defending champs sent out a very clear message of what their intentions were this season as Brett Lee took out Unmukt Chand’s off stump in the very first ball of IPL 2013. Newly appointed skipper Mahela Jaywardene reminded KKR why he was worth the $1.4 million he was brought for, and responded by flicking the second ball for four. He then combined with David Warner in a 43-run stand which was going along comfortably at 7 an over. Then it happened. Narine. He bowled a dream delivery to have Warner caught at slip for 21, which was the turning point of the game. Mahela watched in horror as one by one, his partners fell at the other end. No one other than Warner and Mahela scored a double digit. Manpreet Juneja, Naman Ojha, Johan Botha, Andre Russell and Irfan Pathan all scored a total of 32 runs. So poor Mahela – not for the first time – had to shoulder more than he could, and eventually perished for 66 in the 19th over. After him, the hosts quickly cleaned up the tail to end DD’s innings at 128. Narine was thick among the wickets, as he snared not only Warner but Pathan, Russell, and Ashish Nehra. The T&T spinner ended with figures of 4 – 0 – 13 – 4. DD started well, with Nehra removing the dangerous Manvinder Bisla in the second over of the innings. However, Gambhir then unleashed himself on the Daredevils, and made 40+ run stands with Kallis and Manoj Tiwari before departing for 42 in the 13th over. Tiwari fell a few balls later, but Eoin Morgan and Yusuf Pathan ensured that the Knights won their first game of the season. Interestingly, this is the 4th time KKR are featuring in the opening game of an IPL, and this is the third time they have won. Sunil Narine was Man Of The Match, as he was literally playing with the batsmen, and taking wickets for fun. Well, that’s it for today. The second game, between the Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers Bangalore, will take place at the same time. Come back in a few hours for the match preview. See you then!

Mahela Jaywardene’s 66 was not enough to take the Daredevils to a win.

 

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DD vs KKR – A Preview

Well, IPL 2013 has finally arrived. Less than 3 hours away is the first match of the season. Yaaaayyyyyy!!!! Anyway, this preview is something I have been itching to write for a long time, and now here it is. So let’s look the two teams: The Delhi Daredevils and the Kolkata Knight Riders. Both were relatively quiet, finishing with 3 and 2 players respectively. KKR brought in Sachithra Senanayake and Ryan McLaren, whereas DD roped Jesse Ryder, Jeevan Mendis, and Johan Botha.

Now let’s look at the teams. Delhi have had something to worry about in the form of their inexperienced middle order. Now without Ross Taylor, spots 4, 5, and 6 are quiet vulnerable, should the opposition bowling have the required quality. Also, Virender Sehwag is injured. So what I think should be done is this: plug in David Warner and Unmukt Chand to open the innings; and allow Mahela to drop to number 4. This should work, at least till Kevin Pietersen and Jesse Ryder get back. For their bowling, Morne Morkel will not play the opening game either. Hence, there is one more overseas spot up for grabs. This will most likely go to Roelof van der Merwe, who will form a good trio with Johan Botha and Pawan Negi to slow the ball down. Also, van der Merwe has exhibited excellent quality batting at number 3, which would really be of help to the Daredevils today. The pace bowling shouldn’t be too much of a worry, considering that DD now have Ashish Nehra, who will join hands with Umesh Yadav and Irfan Pathan to spearhead the visitors’ attack.

DD Potential XI:

Unmukt Chand

David Warner

Roelof van der Merwe

Mahela Jaywardene (c)

Venugopal Rao 

Naman Ojha (wk) 

Irfan Pathan

Johan Botha 

Pawan Negi

Ashish Nehra

Umesh Yadav

Umesh Yadav

KKR are considering becoming the “second CSK” this year as they try and defend their title. To do that, they will need a balanced and backed-up side like the one the two-times champions have got. However, for this first game at least, they will miss Brendon McCullum and James Pattinson, in addition to Shakib Al Hasan, who is away playing on national duty and will not return till May. It is most likely that Manvinder Bisla will keep wickets, and open with skipper Gautam Gambhir. This means that there are still two overseas slots left. One of these should go to Sachithra Senanayake, who was brought by the Knights at a massive $625,000. Senanayake will form a good spin duo with Sunil Narine. The other will most probably be Ryan McLaren, who had moderately good outings in South Africa’s recent clashes with Pakistan and New Zealand. Jacques Kallis – despite having just recovered from injury – should stand tall at number 3, while the middle order is filled by Manoj Tiwari, Debatra Das, and Yusuf Pathan – who is in desparate need of some form .

KKR Potential XI:

Gautam Gambhir (c)

Manvinder Bisla (wk)

Jacques Kallis

Manoj Tiwari

Yusuf Pathan

Debatra Das

Ryan McLaren

Rajat Bhatia

Sachithra Senanayake

Sunil Narine

L Balaji

CLASHES TO WATCH:

Irfan Pathan vs Gautam Gambhir: Irfan has wrecked the top order of many sides in the past, and will try to do the same today. However, if Gauti latches on to him, game on.

Sunil Narine vs Mahela Jaywardene: Narine is KKR’s most succesful spinner, and Mahela is easily DD’s best player of spin. It will be crucial that Mahela take on Narine, lest let his other inexperienced batsmen suffer his wrath. Although Narine has breached Mahela’s defences before, the latter can still take on spinners very well. Let’s see what happens today.

David Warner vs L Balaji: David Warner is one of those batsmen who likes to latch onto bowlers from ball one. However, if Balaji can repeat his heroics from last year and defuse Warner early on, nothing like it.

Yusuf Pathan vs Johan Botha: Yusuf Pathan is now in a really desperate need of some form. Now with Shakib’s absence, Yusuf is the platform for KKR’s middle-order fight backs. Botha is easily DD’s best spinner at the moment, and if he comes down hard on the KKR line up, it will be Pathan’s duty to take him on.

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KKR- A Pre-Auction review

by iplgeek 0 Comments

The Kolkata Knight Riders team is commonly described as “a boy who buys expensive books, but doesn’t study.” And I think this decision stood up pretty well for the first 3 IPLs. Not for the 4th and 5th ones, however. KKR have been a strong team in the last 2 IPLs, and their efforts paid off as the won IPL 5. The people behind KKR’s victory were mainly Gautam Gambhir’s dream form up the order, L Balaji’s accuracy, combined with Shakib Al Hassan and Sunil Narine’s miserly spells. Put together, they helped KKR put up a dominating show. Interestingly, KKR have released only Jaidev Unadkat and 3 other uncapped players. This gives them a lot of flexibility, with players like Brett Lee, and Marchant de Lange in their ranks. However, Jacques Kallis suffered from an injury in Australia, and hopefully it won’t interfere with his IPL show. To be honest, there is really no one KKR need to buy. Their only worry would be Yusuf Pathan’s form, and that’s really something an auction can’t help you get over, because Pathan is a class player, and will perform, sometime or the other. So the only people KKR will have the faintest interest in will probably be Thisara Perera, in case Kallis gets injured, RP Singh, in case Balaji’s performances are below average, and probably Matt Prior, in case McCullum is not in form. Still, even these are really not needed by the Knights. So expect a quiet auction from their side.

Potential Squad:

  • Gautam Gambhir (c)
  • Brendon McCullum (wk)
  • Jacques Kallis
  • Manoj Tiwari
  • Yusuf Pathan
  • Shakib Al Hasaan
  • Rajat Bhatia
  • Iqbal Abdulla
  • Manpreet Gony
  • Sunil Narine
  • L Balaji

Notes:

  • If Kallis is injured, Perera comes in for him, and Debatra Das comes in for Bhatia
  • If extra pacer is needed, Pradeep Sangwan comes in for Iqbal Abdulla (if Lee, the he comes in for Shakib, and Das comes in for Bhatia)
  • If extra spinner is needed, Sabarjit Ladda comes in for Gony

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CLT20 so far

So far, the Champions League has been rather rocky. With rain washing out every fourth game, and half the teams knocked out before playing 4 games, and the highest score being 188, things haven’t been as good as expected. The Sydney Sixers have been dominant so far, as the only team to win all their games so far. However, from the IPL side, things haven’t been as smooth. The Delhi Daredevils have been the Indian fans’ only source of motivation, as they have all but qualified for the semis. All the other big teams have flopped. CSK got two consolation wins, and KKR exited in style with a 99-run win against the Titans, but Mumbai have really been a flop show. Despite coming in with a beefed up side with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Dwayne Smith, Mitchell Johnson, and Kieron Pollard, you would have expected them to put up a better fight. Only Dinesh Karthik was consistent with the bat, and Malinga’s fiver versus CSK was MI’s only good show with the ball. In CSK’s case, Dwayne Bravo’s injury really hurt them, and they were struggling with the out-of-form Albie Morkel and Ravindra Jadeja. For KKR, excluding their performance versus the Titans, they simply weren’t able to be threatening enough, like I said in my previous post. Delhi, have tasted success. Their ploy of playing 4 seamers has really paid off, and their new captain Mahela Jaywardene has really been impressive in his decisions. Their batting was a bit off-color against the Scorchers, but Sehwag showed maturity as he carried his side to the brink of victory. Another team I wanted to discuss about is the Titans. They had like the strongest side, but both the Morkels and Faf du Plessis, went to play for their IPL sides. And AB de Villiers was out with an injury. So they weren’t left with much. Despite that they are still almost in the semis, but if they had a full strength side, things would have been completely different. So today’s games are Delhi versus the Titans at 8:30, winner gets an assured spot in the semis, and Aukland versus the Scorchers at 4:30. For them to qualify, Aukland have to win big, and hope that either Delhi or the Titans do the same. So see you then! 😀

Sehwag played well against the Scorchers. Can he do so again?
cricket @ iplgeek

Azher Mahmood holds the cards for the Aces.

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KKR crash out of CLT20

After a rainwashed game against the Perth Scorchers, the IPL champions KKR crashed out of the CLT20 for 2012. After losing their first two game to the Delhi Daredevils and the Aukland Aces respectively, the Knights needed a win to stay in contention. Unfortunately nature played a cruel trick and KKR were denied their two points. Sensing rain, Gautam Gambhir won the toss and decided to bowl first. KKR did a very good job to pin down the Scorchers; Nobody gave away much, including Yusuf Pathan, who ran through 4 overs and finished with 0-29. The Scorchers’ resistance came in the form of Simon Katich, who struck a good 32-ball 43. He was assisted by an uncomfortable-looking Shaun Marsh, who struggled for his 40-ball innings of 38. Early on Brett Lee had induced pressure as he snapped up Herschelle Gibbs in the very first over, leaving the Scorchers at 3-1. Then Marsh and Katich put on 70 runs before Kallis trapped Marsh in front. Katich remained unbeaten, and was joined by Mitchell Marsh who played 10 balls for his 5, before the rain interrupted, leaving the Scorchers at 91-2, in 14 overs. A very sad end to KKR’s campaign. The differences between KKR’s IPL show and their CLT20 show was that their batting was decent, lead by Gautam Gambhir from the front, and bowling was exceptionally good. So even if they could get to about 130, they could defend it. Now, their bowling has not been as threatening, and despite their batting lineup, which boasts of big names such as Brendon McCullum, Gambhir, and Jacques Kallis, they have been woefully out of form. And Yusuf Pathan’s batting form has dipped, and at the price of his place in India’s T20I squad. And unless they get some form, KKR won’t be going anywhere. So that’s all for tonight, see you next time 🙂  cricket @ iplgeek

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Cricket so far

Sorry about the lateness of this article…haven’t had much time to blog lately. So anyway, let me give you a brief preview of what’s happened in the world of cricket so far. The Sri Lankans failed yet again to win a final as the West Indies ‘gangnam styled’ home and took the cup with them. In the CLT20, the Delhi Daredevils are currently the only unbeaten IPL team in the competition, as they beat the Kolkata Knight Riders by a massive 52 runs, and Chennai and Mumbai suffered defeats in the hands of the Sydney Sixers and the Highveld Lions respectively. Also, the Naushua Titans, a new team in CLT20 history, beat the Perth Scorchers by a comprehensive 6 wickets in the opener. Another piece of news is that after several long days of debate and court trials, BCCI has terminated the Deccan Chargers franchise, and has opened bids for a new franchise. And this will definitely have an impact on the next IPL auctions, which should take place sometime in February or March. So now I’m going to conclude with some upcoming cricket. So until next time, adios. 😉

Aukland Aces vs Kolkata Knight Riders (Today, 8:00 PM IST) 

Sydney Sixers vs Yorkshire (Tomorrow, 4:00 PM IST) 

Chennai Super Kings vs Highveld Lions (Tomorrow, 8:00 PM IST) 

The West Indies ‘Gangnam Styled’ home

Unmukt Chand’s 27-ball 40 took DD to a competitive total

Moises Henriques’ fiesty 23-ball 49 helped The Sixers overcome CSK

Neil McKenzie’s 41-ball 64 carried the Highveld Lions home safely against MI

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