Tag Archives: Chris Gayle

Rampaging India Continue Their Bull Run!

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By Kartik Kannan

India continued their bull run in England with yet another convincing win in the ICC Champions trophy, trouncing West Indies by 8 wickets and 65 balls to spare. The Indian victory, was largely built around Ravindra Jadeja’s spin bowling and the batting of Shikhar Dhawan, both of whom have hit purple patches in 2013, for extended run of great form. Ravindra Jadeja put the brakes on the Caribbean juggernaut, by choking runs and claiming wickets with his fastish off spinners, while Shikhar Dhawan tore into the very attack that had Pakistan at sixes and sevens last week, that had Kemar Roach interestingly this time taking the brunt, giving away 47 of 6 overs. Shikhar Dhawan’s consecutive hundred, was built without a faux paux, in an aggressive counter attack that was largely built around the squares on both sides, including 10 fours and a six to bring up his hundred.

Put into bat, the West Indies found their mojo early on, with Chris Gayle and Johnson Charles being severe on Bhubhaneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav. With 2 boundaries over deep midwicket, and 2 trademark slaps over the bowler, Chris Gayle was slowly getting into ‘RCB’ mode, just when a short of length delivery from Kumar, crapming Gayle for room, lifted enough for Chris to make a meek cut  at the ball, only to have Ashwin cling on to sharp chance above his head.

Darren Bravo and Johnson Charles, then steadied the innings with a 78 run stand in 89 balls, with the pace being set by Johnson Charles, after an  lull in the early stages of the partnership where he preferred to play of the backfoot watchfully. Johnson exploded with 2 sixes over Long off and Deep Midwicket and managed to work his way around 3 boundaries behind the wicket through glances and late cuts. While he was batting, a stat that was beginning to hang like a Damocles sword over the Indian bowling, was that he had a 100% conversion to scoring a century, whenever he has crossed 50, but Ravindra Jadeja’s introduction changed all of that, when he trapped Johnson Charles, Marlon Samuels and Sarwan, all of whom fell pray to playing for the turn against fast non turning deliveries. While Charles and Samuels were out leg before, Sarwan, in an attempt to glance the ball, was caught down the leg side. 3 wickets in 14 balls, giving away 5 runs, Jadeja had West Indies on the backfoot.

Even as these wickets well, Darren Bravo, struggled to score runs, and his misery soon came to an end, when he came down the track in frustration to clear Ashwin, and tried checking his shot after being done in by the flight, and Dhoni stumped him to leave West Indies at 140/5 in the 34th over. Pollard and Dwayne Bravo steadied the innings by knocking the ball around, but their wickets at crucial junctures in the game, followed by a couple of tailenders falling left West Indies miserably positioned at  182/9 by the 46th over, for a side that was 100/1 in the 19th over.

They say ‘Cometh The Hour, Cometh The Man’ and Darren Sammy came into playing an aggressive cameo that made you wonder, how could the West Indies have possibly believed he wasn’t good enough for the first game. Sammy, who’s played a large part in the renaissance of the Carribean cricket from the nadirs of 2008/09, chose to announce why he belongs to this team, by putting up his hand up, to clean the mess when it mattered. A flat batted six over covers in between a six to Long off and Long On, just made mouths drop as he successfully managed strike with number  11 (Roach) to bludgeon 9 boundary hits(4 sixes) in a 15 ball exhibition, scoring 52 runs, helping West Indies put a respectable 233, which incidentally is how much South Africa set Pakistan the other day.

Given the way, chases have been funnily difficult, one wondered if India were to fall prey to choking while chasing a moderate target, but India came out with all guns blazing and smoked out the Caribbean pace attack. It was a lively chase that saw Indian openers strangely dominate square off the wicket, with no hits in the arc between covers and deep midwicket, with all of the 17 boundaries scored between Dhawan and Sharma. Virat Kohli, was unlucky to have missed out on the run feast, done in by a Narine special, bowled round the wicket, but Dinesh Karthik made merry of an attack that had by then given up to notch up a fifty, while allowing Dhawan to score his ton around the same time, leading India to a domineering 8 wicket victory, that pushed Pakistan out of the tournament.

[Originally Written for ESPNcricinfo]

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IPL 2013 – Dream Eleven

Ganesh Subramanian draws out his dream 11 based on the performances of stars in IPL 2013. Do you agree. 

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1. Mike Hussey: The orange cap winner can walk into any team based on his reputation alone. But as is the quality with great players, they hardly rest on their laurels. Mike Hussey takes the opener’s spot in the playing eleven purely on the basis of his consistency this season. Only in four innings in this year’s IPL does he have scores of less than 20. That should tell us something about this Western Australian’s amazing run of form this year.

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2. Chris Gayle: If we look at consistency, Gayle would have struggled to find a place. But given that he has changed his game a little bit particularly in this year’s IPL where he took his time, saw off the threat of the new ball (atleast for 2 overs. I know threat of new ball in T20 hardly makes sense) and then went about his merry ways and pulverized bowling attacks, makes him even more fearsome. I am sure Pune Warriors would agree with this.

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3. Rahul Dravid: Having batted at this position for India for years, he is no stranger to walking in and trying to repair the innings in case of early loss of wickets. Although Dravid opened in most of the matches for RR, still I slotted him at number three for the stability factor.

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4. Shane Watson: This batting mainstay of Rajasthan also finds a spot easily purely on his allround abilities. Providing crucial breakthroughs with his bowling & batting with a demonic power makes Watson an invaluable asset to any team.

5. A B Devilliers: A brilliant fielder, an excellent wicketkeeper and a freakish batsman, ABD has the ability to turn matches on its head by his sheer genius. His unorthodox batting at the death overs has left many a bowler bewildered.

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6. Dwayne Bravo: The purple cap holder on current form finds a place in the eleven. Despite getting his wickets at a higher economy rate, he has been the go-to man for CSK in the death overs often tilting matches in CSK’s favour in the end overs. Plus with Dwayne around, there would be no need of an entertainer too.

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7. M S Dhoni: Captain of India has also continued his success story well into the IPL. Leader of the most successful and the most consistent franchisee in IPL history, MSD’s finishing capabilities will see him walk into any playing eleven with ease.

8. Azhar Mahmood: This Pakistani born British citizen has often helped Punjab with hi experience this season. Apart from picking wickets regularly for Punjab, his promotion to the No. 3 slot helped him rediscover his batting abilities as well.

9. Sunil Narine: Amongst the top 5 wicket takers in this year’s IPL, Sunil Narine is a definite pick for the spinner’s slot given the mystery he brings with him. Even if he doesn’t pick wickets, he has ensured that the run rate doesn’t increase by bowling economically.

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10. Lasith Malinga: The slinga from Srilanka after a quiet start to the tournament has got his rhythm back in the last few games. He was instrumental in derailing Chennai’s chase in the final by picking up Hussey and Raina with well thought out deliveries. His variety at the death makes him indispensable.

11. Amit Mishra: Again on current form in the IPL, Amit Mishra picks himself. With crucial wickets in the middle overs and a potent googly making his leg break more effective, Amit Mishra has played a major part in Sunrisers getting into the playoffs.

This list aims at picking at the eleven best possible players to form the dream team. Lot of excellent players may have been left out and this list in no way should be considered demeaning them.

5 Times Our Heart Was In Our Mouth During IPL 6

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Action cinema and T20 cricket have many similarities, the most important being the fact that good ones in both do not give you breathing space. You have your heart in your mouth for most of the time as they happen. And though IPL 6 will always be seen from eyes full of doubt, there were moments when we all enjoyed the cricket on the ground. Here are the best 5 of them. 

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1. Gurkeerat Singh Flies: Did you see who was given the best catch of the tournament. The little unknown lad from Punjab, Gurkeerat Singh, took something most of us and even most cricketers would find hard dreaming. The batsman (Ross Taylor) had played one of his favourite shots and must  have added 6 to his tally but our man had better ideas. The celebrations after the catch were as good as the catch itself.

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2. Sanju Samson, the pocket sized dynamite: Rajasthan Royals have a habit of finding stars for IPL. If it was Swapnil Asnodkar once, it was 18-year-old Sanju Samson this time and if you listen to your heart this lad looks like having a longer shelf life than Asnodkar did. His innings against Royal Challengers Bangalore and the shots hit had to make you sit up and take notice. Rahul Dravid speaking highly of him was no-coincidence and if you thought the one innings against Bangalore was one off, the one’s after that broke the notion.

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3. Chris Gayle and his molestation of Pune Warriors: When Chris Gayle gets going the opposition do not stand a chance but when he molests a team, what do you do, that too a team with Allan Donald as bowling coach. Allan Donald admitted the assault left his bowlers ‘scared’. His 30-odd ball hundred and 66-ball 175 left an impression in the cricketing fraternities mind that no total is a good total in this format, provided you have in your ranks, someone who can tame any warrior.

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4. The Gambhir-Kohli Spat: How many occasions would two players from the same city fight with each other in front of the entire ground. Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli did not leave any mother-sister untouched when they took over each other in one of the games between their respective sides. Some event in a tournament which rewards fair play. As they say From among all the mysteries surrounding the Indian Premier League emerges one ever-lasting truth – you can take a Delhi guy to Kolkata or Bangalore, out can’t get Dilli of the said guy. 

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5. Pollard and his All-Round Abilities and Capabilities: We went about charming Shane Watson with all awards we had on Valuable quotient. We forgot though that we had someone called Keiron Pollard in the tournament who could bat like a monster, bowl like a miser, field like a agile leopard and in need sledge someone like Watson out of the match and even out of the dug-out. His catches will be known for more than just one season, his fielding would become education for the next of wannabees, his bowling in need was as awesome as anything and in need his batting was just one word, fabulously devastating (correction two words). Remember the final, it was he who actually made sure Mumbai had a total that was better than average. Sans he and Mumbai would have struggled against a menacing side like Chennai.

 

 

Match Experience at the PEPSI IPL VIP Box

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Kartik Kannan pens down his experiences having watched a game from the Pepsi VIP Box. Some stuff that. Read on and be jealous.

You queue outside in the hot sun, seeing a serpentine kilometer long queue to enter into respective gates, 90 minutes before the game, and you look at the VIP’s entering in a sedan right outside the gate, and walking in with elan.  Your position in the line has probably moved a few millimeters, while a few VIP’s have made their way in to the stadium. So, given this background, who doesn’t want to be a VIP?

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Pepsi as part of its offering to the fans, had made an experience, that’s soothing to the often tensed nerve (more if you happen to be cheering for Dhoni) that the cricket fan nurses in 20 overs of mayhem.

At the Cricket, some of the worries most of us have  are to get a good seat where we can watch the cricket, being able to view the big replay screen, get your hand on food without getting into a queue again, and being able to drink some beverages without paying a ridiculous price. The Pepsi VIP Box solves this and presents you more on the platter to make you feel like a guest, and not a passenger.

The VIP Box is a special unit located on the ground, outside the fenced area, but before the boundary line, usually right next to the dug out.

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It had a fridge stocked with Pepsi, 7 UP, Mirinda,Slice and Aquafina, and for once, there was no competition to beat you to the drinks. The players had a drinks break every 8 overs, during the strategic time out, but you get to sit in an air conditioned room, with a lovely comfortable lounge sofa to rest your back on, and take drinks break every over literally. It also has a shelf stocked with various flavours of Lays and Kurkure, to keep the spices complimented along with what’s happening at the cricket.

From the inside

The air conditioned room, opens up into a small balcony with 4 bar stool chairs, from which you have an restricted view of the cricket, as well as the scenes of what happens in the dug out 2 metres from you.  The cheer leaders are not very far away from you, so the whole combination is lovely at the PEPSI VIP Box, which makes you realize how peaceful it is to watch cricket in such comfort!

At the Cricket, some of the interesting things to watch were

a) Manpreet Goni and Piyush Chawla making Chris Gayle persevere for his runs, until Gayle pulled  a few bownie points at the end with some effortless lusty blows.

b) Gaylestorm was similar to the Indian monsoon. It promised to come, and was pretty relaxed about not coming, willing to tread along, before finally it came pouring down and kept the crowd ticking an item of that little bucketlist that fans have, when they come to the Chinnaswamy stadium during the IPL.

c) Zak’s return!– Watching Zak was a pleasure, and watching him uproot Shaun Marsh’s off stump, was heartening to note.

d) Zak vs Gilly Gilly Yeah! Zak was bowling with gusto to Gilchrist, and even managed to fox a rather scratchy Gilchrist, but Gilchrist came down on Zak with the ferocity of the attack he launched 10 summers ago in the 2003 World Cup semi final.

e) The importance of patience- All the 3 batsmen( Azhar Mahmood, Gilchrist and Gayle), started scratchily, offered a few chances, but managed to hang in there without gifting their wicket away, and reaped rich benefits, and the fans manged a bumper crop in seeing some wonderful batting from the trio.

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Rajasthan Royals And The Art of Remaining Underdogs

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Everyone loves Rajasthan Royals, even the fans of the opposition teams. You know why? Because they are the eternal underdogs. Right from the time they lost their first game in the inaugural edition of IPL, they remained underdogs. Even after winning the tournament and creating a fortress at home from the very first edition, they continued being tagged the underdogs and today after a very successful IPL 6, where they have almost made it to the playoffs, have won all their matches at home, beaten Chennai in their own game, they are still being called the underdogs. 

Why are they underdogs? Simple, they never had huge stars except one or two. They created stars who made their destiny and fielded guys who came from the hinterlands with dreamy eyes of shining on the big stage. They were underdogs because they were the cheapest side to be bought during the auctions in 2008. They were underdogs because they look to be working more hard on their fallacies than anyone else.

They were underdogs because they did not get hyper on the cricket ground. They always smile at the opposition and go about their job methodically rather than aggressively.  They know that aggression cannot work in their favor considering they do not possess the likes of Gayle and Kohli, so they’d rather focus on hardwork and technique to control the outcome.

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The Real Difference Creators

1. Rahul ‘Gentleman’ Dravid: If there was one good example of a great servicemen of the game who always upheld the spirit of the game no matter what, Rahul Dravid’s name would come foremost. Remember what he did when Adam Gilchrist was short of his ground a few days back. He withdrew the appeal, thereby setting an example for his team. Though Dravid might not be as celebrated as a Sachin Tendulkar or a Sourav Ganguly, we all know who was the worker behind all great victories India had in the last decade and a half. This is what RD probably is ingraining in Rajasthan Royals. To win but remain nonchalant about it. Plus, the amount of trust he shows in his youngsters is something that would turn an example for any future captain in IPL. We know Sanju Samson because a Rahul Dravid made him a superstar, picking him up from nowhere. As Harsha Bhogle always says, “It is the process which matters the most, if that’s taken care of, the results take care of itself”. Rahul Dravid seems to embody this thought.

2. Shane ‘Watto’ Watson: As I write this one, am hearing that Watson has overtaken Chris Gayle in the Most Valuable Player in the IPL. With very little to go in the tournament and Watson himself being in great form, I would not be surprised if he actually pulls that off. Now that in itself is some achievement because IPL if anything is known for Gaylestorm and to beat that man in his own arena is a genius’s job. Watson brilliance lies not only in the fact that he is a great player from Australia but also in the manner he plays alongside the juniors around him in the Royals side. Probably playing first under Shane Warne and now under Dravid is helping his attitude immensely. He brings to the table extraordinary skills and am sure playing around him would be an academy for the youngsters of the side. Lastly, if he plays anywhere as good as he did in the last match, only God save the opposition from the harakiri this big guy can bring.

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3. The Bowling Attack: We often talk of how a batting unit has helped RR win the first edition and has helped them this year too to almost reach the playoffs (I am sure they will but am just not taking a risk). What we forget more often than not is that it is the bowling that actually without the presence of any big star pulled off what many teams in IPL could not with big names. Not that RR never had a great bowling attack. In the first season names like Shane Warne, Sohail Tanvir and Munaf Patel (he was a decent enough bowler then) did don their jersey but as time passed, these names went away and in came a fragrance of youth and they did well we must say. Just take yesterday’s match for example. Against CSK who have the most devastating batting line-up, the bowlers were Malik, Faulkner, Watson, Trivedi, Cooper and Binny. What did they do? made Chennai fold up for 141. This is no one-off, its a regular feature now that this bowling attack sans any superstars does to opposition. They are probably taken for granted and from there they show everyone who is the boss. Probably again being underdogs helps challenges them to do their best.

4. The Fortress That Cannot Be Breached: The team has now actually equalled their own record of highest home wins at a trot (8). It is something about the place that aids the home team like no other ground. In the last game against CSK the challenge was stiff. They were pitted against a tough team and Chennai’s record was simple, you give them to bat first and they don’t lose. Knowing this fully well, Dravid still allowed Dhoni and his men first usage of the helpful wicket at Sawai Man Singh Stadium and the result is for all to know. Teams would be thanking their stars that none of the qualifiers or the final is at Jaipur or else only one team would have come out on top.

With their non-violent style of cricket, this team has already made rapid progress. The next task would be to end the league stage on top and make a clear statement that this team can dazzle and well as be consistent. If they win this would be an additional jewel in the crown of The Eternal Gentleman Rahul Dravid. 

Mumbai Indians And The Problem Of Resources Vs Resourcefulness

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Mumbai Indians have a great team but a very poor resource utilization strategy. Venugopal Rajagopalan writes about that and more in this insightful piece.

Resourcefulness is optimal utilization of resources of a resource. From a corporate perspective, it is not cash that fuels the journey to the future, but the emotional and intellectual energy of every employee.

“A firm can sit atop mountains of cash and command legions of talented people, and still lose its preeminent position. Likewise, a firm can sometimes overcome enormous resource handicaps and successfully scale the heights of industry leadership” – Gary Hamel & C.K.Prahlad

Quoting another excerpt from the book Competing for the future – “Too often companies are judged in terms of resources rather than resourcefulness. Resourcefulness stems not from an elegantly structured strategic architecture, but from a deeply felt sense of purpose, a broadly shared dream, a truly seductive view of tomorrow’s opportunity.”

Now, relating this to Mumbai Indians’ case in the IPL, you can draw the same parallels. They have some of the biggest names in the business in the form of both players  and support staff. The likes of Sachin, Ponting, Pollard, Rayudu, Johnson, Oram, Harbhajan, Rohit Sharma etc prove that talent is there in abundance. In the coaching and support staff, we have people like John Wright, Anil Kumble, Robin Singh and even Mike Horn as a motivational speaker.

However, the point here is, you might have the best of resources and money power; however it’s of no use if you do not know how to utilize them. That’s what one can make of the performance of the Mumbai Indians team in all editions of the IPL. What’s the point in having spent so much to buy and retain a player of the pedigree of Kieron Pollard, if he gets to only face an average of 5-10 balls a match? In yesterday’s game against RCB at Bengaluru, he faced only 2 balls and that too at a stage where he hardly had any time to play himself in. You can’t possibly expect a man to come in to bat and hit an imaginary 30 runs in 5 balls and win you a match even he is Sir Vivian Richards.

MI has faltered in the area of strategy since the time IPL started. They lost the finals of the 2010 edition to CSK because of the very reason of not giving enough balls for Kieron Pollard to face and chase down the total. Their team management has not learnt from their mistakes in the previous editions at all. Any cricketing pundit would bat Pollard at #4 if not higher to give your match winner and best T20 player maximum time at the crease. It is not rocket science to understand that just giving him solitary 5-10 balls to face every innings is a waste for a player of his caliber.

Just imagine if Chris Gayle was asked to bat at number 6 by the RCB. Would RCB be the same force? The answer is a clear cut NO! T20 is a different ball game all together and the needs are different from the batsmen. However mouth watering the sight of seeing Sachin and Ponting opening the batting might be, the fact is that both are well past their prime. Either one of them, (ideally Ponting) should be batting at 3 or Rohit Sharma should be opening the batting for their batting order to be more effective. Pollard should be batting no lower than #4 or #5 to be effective in this format. Ideally, he should be coming in to bat not later than the 12th over of the innings to have maximum impact on the outcome of the match. If he fails to deliver or if there is a top order collapse, the Ambati Rayudus and the Dinesh Karthiks can surely resurrect the innings and get MI to a respectable total.

Will MI learn from yet another mistake or not, only time will tell, however it would be interesting to see if any other team would use this failed strategy to their advantage. Having said that, full marks to Vinay Kumar for bowling the perfect Yorker on that last delivery to Pollard under extreme pressure in that final over.

RCB Vs MI at IPL6 in Bengaluru

Bangalore win But IPL Won Big At Chinnaswamy

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Sachin Tendulkar came to bat with Ricky Ponting, Chris Gayle continued his tornado batting in the T20 format and the audiences had a nail-biter, what more could be asked of IPL

After a dud first game in Kolkata (when was the last time Kolkatans, poor Kolkatans saw something that was exciting), T20 cricket was at its best, delivering things only this format and IPL could.

For starters Bangalore for the first time beat Mumbai in Chinnaswamy stadium, breaking a long-standing home ground jinx. There was nothing special though in the way they did it except for one man who almost on all occasions stands between Bangalore and losses. Yes, Chris Gayle again shone and this time on one foot, proving another fact that even on one leg, he is the best T20 batsmen the world will ever see.

It would not do justice to Vinay Kumar and Jaidev Unadkat if we do not give them some credit too. Mumbai had almost completed formalities in the 17th over with Dinesh Karthik spanking Daniel Christian for 24 runs. Mumbai needed 17 off the last two overs which in this format is a walk in the park. Kumar and Unadkat though had other ideas. Unadkat bowled the penultimate one and gave away just 7 runs, allowing Kumar a healthy 10 runs to bowl. It was then that this bowler often criticised for not doing justice to his potential delivered an over, very few could match. Giving away 7 runs, Kumar picked up two wickets and won the game for his side.

All this apart, the real big one was to see Test cricket’s two highest run-getters come out to open. It was certainly dream come true for cricket lovers across the world to see Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting come out to open in a format people thought was alien to them. Not only they came out to bat, they crafted a 50-run partnership. If this was not enough, another visual delight was to see Test cricket’s highest wicket taker bowl to them. Yes, it was Muttiah Muralitharan bowling to Tendulkar and Ponting.

One man though was unperturbed by all this. Christopher Henry Gayle began his party from where he left last season. He looked a little jittery to begin with but as he stayed on, runs began to flow. He got injured in the middle but continued till the end on one leg, only stating one fact, that no one is better than him in this format. Mumbai were in control till he let loose, and once he did, only one winner came out.

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