Category Archives: Cricket League

A glittering career comes to an end

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It was 1991 and the game was India vs. Pakistan at Sharjah. I had never watched a cricket game before and I thought that Sachin was this young boy who just appeared with Kapil Dev in the Boost advertisement. Pakistan had batted first and score 257 in 50 overs and India was chasing a difficult score against a great bowling lineup. India had a great start but lost their way in the middle when this young boy walks in and plays a beautiful innings getting India close to the target. I still remember Sachin hammering Mushtaq Ahmed for two consecutive sixes and getting out trying to go for the third.

That was the day I got glued to the game of cricket and the reason for the same was the little master. Everyone knew that this young boy is going to be a great player then but even his strongest supporter would not have imagined what this great player went on to achieve in his 24 year career. Sachin Tendulkar gave the Indian fans lots to cheer in a particularly poor decade for Indian cricket. This was the phase where the Indian hopes in every game lay on just his wicket. The opposition knew that and so did every Indian fan. There were lots of fans who would just turn off their televisions as soon as their idol got out.

We need to understand that Sachin was still just a young man and to handle that amount of pressure was truly remarkable. I remember he was the only batsman who always looked at home even on the overseas tours when all his fellow team mates struggled to put bat on ball. The brilliant hundred in Perth and the fantastic innings in Johannesburg as a 19 year old were able testimony to the fact. Sachin had amazing composure for a young man and his balance at the crease was phenomenal. He did not have any noticeable weakness and even if he had he had the ability to iron them out before he stepped out to bat again.

 His child like enthusiasm for the game and his great dedication made him a stand out player of his generation. His achievements are there for everyone to see. In spite of enjoying a god like status in India, he still remains a humble human being. He has achieved everything a cricketer could dream of. The 2011 world cup win for sure completed his cricketing resume and for sure will give him utmost satisfaction. Sachin was also part of the world number 1 test team and his IPL team Mumbai Indians gave him a fitting send off with a CLT20 win.

It will be sad to see Sachin go. I have watched Sachin Tendulkar throughout his career and he has been part of my growing up years. As a cricket fan in the 90’s Sachin has given me lots of fond memories which I would always cherish. The brilliant hundred in Benoni, the desert storm innings, his brilliant performance in the 1996 world cup and many more such performances will forever be etched in my memory. Sachin Tendulkar will be sorely missed by every Indian cricket fan. It will be hard to imagine an Indian cricket team without the little master in the lineup. I hope that he has a great farewell in the final two tests he will be part of later next month.

I wish Sachin remains attached to the sport in some vicinity, imparting the vast cricketing knowledge he has. Thank You Sachin for all the great memories and as a diehard fan of yours I will for sure miss watching you don the Indian colors again.

Technology will never be perfect

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UDRS (Umpire Decision Review System) was introduced by ICC in 2009 as a measure to improve the umpiring decisions at the international level. There has been call for the use of technology for ages in cricket and the ICC haven’t done anything for ages since “Third Umpire” came in to play for run outs and stumping’s. That was way back in early 90’s. The ICC has been always reluctant to introduce new technology for the most part of last 2 decades.

The UDRS primarily consists of 3 major technologies combined into one, the Hot Spot, the Snickometer and the Hawk-eye. Of all the three technologies Hawk-eye is the most debated and the most controversial one. There are various theories on the same and obviously like all technologies Hawk-eye isn’t perfect. The ICC needs to make sure that there is research constantly going on and they don’t get fixated on these three technologies for ever. Things need to evolve and improve and I hope that is taken into account as well.

But I am not going to talk about that at the moment. The BCCI has constantly opposed the use to UDRS since its inception but the problem is that the rest of the cricketing world has no problems with it. The fact is that no technology is going to be perfect and if we are looking for 100% stable technology we may never have one. The Hawk-eye isn’t a perfect technology and needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. The bottom line is that it will for sure bring down certain howlers in cricket at the moment. The Hawk-eye should at least be used to check if the ball pitched within the stumps or if the impact was outside off-stump for LBW decisions.

The Snickometer and hotspot aren’t that controversial but the recent test between SA and Pakistan has raised a few questions about Hot Spot too. The other concern for the BCCI has been the cost involved in implementing UDRS. The ICC doesn’t take care of the same which is the reason for the technology not being made mandatory. The ICC obviously needs to step in and possibly cover a part of the cost. This is probably a valid concern from the BCCI.

Even though there are some valid concerns over the technology, the use of it should be made mandatory. The ICC needs to step in to achieve the same even if it means that they cover part of the cost. No technology has ever been perfect and it will be very hard to implement one which will please everyone. The BCCI should bite the bullet and try the technology out for a while before opposing it completely.

Can Umesh and Aaron break the trend?

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Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron will have their tasks cut off when the grueling Indian season begins in a month’s time

Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron were like a breath of fresh air when they took the new ball against the touring West Indies side at home. Both bowled with extreme pace troubling the West Indies batters on pretty flat wickets in India. Both bowlers capable of bowling in the excess of 150 will now have to concentrate on cementing their place in the Indian squad. The Indian fast bowling cupboard has not been fuller than the last decade or so. We had fast bowlers appearing left right and center only to disappear after a year.

We have had bowlers with enormous talent making their debuts, only to lose their way within a year. The reason to the same has never been analyzed. Talented bowlers like Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, and RP Singh etc… All had a great beginning to their career only to lose their way and finally disappear from the radar. When Umesh Yadav came on to the scene, I was little skeptic. India plays a lot of cricket throughout the year including the IPL and champions League. For a bowler to remain fit through this grueling schedule requires meticulous planning from the team management as well the bowler himself. It is not an easy task.

But after almost a year, Umesh has done quite well to withstand the pressure and has still maintained his speed. This shows that the boy has great work ethic and tremendous fitness. Aaron though wasn’t that lucky, he missed the Australia tour due to injury but made a good comeback bowling at 150 k’s even after his return in the IPL. These two have for sure have for now broken the trend of Indian bowlers losing their pace.

The next hurdle to cross will be to pass the grade from promising to good. This will be something which will separate them from the rest of the pack. Umesh Yadav had a great start to his test career and was very impressive in Australia. Aaron too had a decent debut test against the West Indies. Fast bowlers need to be looked after. There are only a hand full currently in international cricket who can bowl 90+ mph consistently. The Indian think tank needs to understand that. Aaron and Umesh are the future of Indian bowling and I hope the rigorous schedule of the Indian team does not consume them too.

It will be interesting to see how these to shape up in the coming year or two. It will be interesting to see if the Indian think tank has the courage to play both these players together in the test team. India has finally found genuine pace bowlers and my hope is that we don’t lose them to mismanagement and greed once again.

The A tour raises more questions about the Indian batting reserves

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The India A tour to West Indies started off with lots of promise. The series was supposed to showcase the best of Indian talent. With the retirement of Rahul Dravid, his replacement in the test team was of paramount importance. The selectors will be happy that Pujara gave a good account of himself throughout the series to emerge as the prime contender for the number 3 spot in the test team. The major disappointment though was the performance of Rohit Sharma.

Since his debut in 2008 Rohit has been considered as a player with enormous talent. He has represented India in the shorter format for about 4 years now and it does not seem like he is ready to make the step up. He started off the tour with a great 94 in the first innings of the first unofficial test but that was about it. He continued to struggle with his control in the longer format. He continues to throw his wicket away with ridiculous shots after getting set. More importantly he continues to disappoint his fans. It seems like Rohit has to work very hard in order to stake the claim for the test spot.The other person to disappoint this series was Ajinkya Rahane. Another player with brilliant technique and great domestic record who failed to impress on this A tour. Rahane struggled to get of the blocks most of the times in this series and seems to have the same issue as Rohit.

Pujara though was the only success of this test leg of the tour. The man once again proved the gulf between himself and the rest of the pack who are vying for a test spot. He played a brilliant innings in the first test to single handedly win the game for his team and scored runs consistently throughout. The batting was the big issue for the Indians in this A tour and the struggle of these youngsters against West Indies A team is not a good sign for the future. The West Indies gained more from this series than India. The other batsman to impress a bit was Tiwary who looked good in couple of innings. Saha did well with the bat in couple of knocks but none of them were consistent. Mukund was another player who disappointed throughout the series.

It seems like once the shorter format started the youngsters are back in their elements. Rahane and Rohit looked their part in the two T20’s which followed the test series. Does this mean that these players are just good enough for the shorter format? We will not know for sure unless we test them out longer. Is the IPL making these players lose their technique? This can only be answered by the players themselves. It will be interesting to see how these youngsters bounce back from this debacle. All these players are talented but to be able to succeed in test cricket talent alone isn’t enough. The will to fight it out in the middle when the chips are down is something these youngsters need to learn. For now though a test spot seems to be long way away for these youngsters.

Mid-Table scrum makes IPL V interesting

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The IPL V is nearing the Play-offs and we are yet to determine the 4 semi-finalists. The competition this year has been extremely close and we are still unsure of the two teams who will join Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Delhi Daredevils (DD). KKR and DD are without doubt the two strongest teams in the competition. They have won most of their games and have qualified for the play-offs. Both the teams have been excellently led by their respective captains and have a very good bowling attack. The rest of the teams though have been involved in an absolute fight for the final two spots. Let us look at the teams with a chance to make it to the play-offs.

Mumbai Indians - Mumbai Indians are the other strong team who has had a mixed IPL. They have managed to win 3 of their last 4 games and are probably closest to the play-offs with 5 games in hand. Mumbai Indians have struggled with their batting. They have heavily relied on Rohit Sharma and Sachin Tendulkar to get them over the line on most of the occasions which has been their undoing. Probably the induction of Dwayne Smith in the middle order might give them the required spark.

Rajasthan Royals - Rajasthan Royals are the other team who have risen above their underdog status and have posted a serious challenge to the play-offs spot. Shane Watson and Shaun Tait in the playing X1 have given them the required balance and are currently looking like a strong squad.

Royal Challengers Bangalore – The major issue for RCB this season has been their bowling attack. In spite of having Murali in their squad they have been unable to play him due to the squad composition. They have often conceded 170+ totals this season which has greatly affected their batting performance. Their batting too has been highly inconsistent. The heavy reliance on Chris Gayle and AB De Villiers has been striking this season but with Dilshan stepping up to the plate in the recent games things might finally look up for the 2011 finalists. It will be interesting to see if they manage to play Murali in the squad who in spite of taking 8 wickets in 4 games finds himself in the sidelines.

Chennai Super Kings – The defending champions probably have had their worst season by a distance. The team has struggled to find the right combination throughout. Their batting has failed to find consistency and their inability to finish off close games has been the bane for the team from the south. They still have 4 games in hand and are currently looking at winning all the games if at all they want to make it to the play-offs. Things aren’t looking that rosy for the two time champions.

Kings X1 Punjab – They are yet another team who started as an underdog but have far surpassed the pre-tournament expectations. They are currently place 5th on the table with a very good chance of qualifying for the play-offs. In the absence of their captain Adam Gilchrist, David Hussey has led the team admirably well and with the addition of Azhar Mahmood they look a good squad capable of defeating anyone on their day. They have a good bowling attack and are looking good to challenge the top teams this season. It will be interesting to see what their combination would be when Gilchrist returns.

This has probably been the first season where the competition has been so close. There are just few games to go and we are still not sure of the semi-final line up. All the teams mentioned above have a great chance of making it to the play-offs. The teams cannot afford a slip up anymore and the captains would be aware of that. The next few days will be extremely interesting and could decide the fate of most of the teams.

IPL V – Youngsters watch

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The IPL every year gets exciting not for the matches but for the young talent on display. Last couple of years we have had talents like Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, Ravi Ashwin, who have already made the transition to the senior side. Let us look at my top 5 young players of the IPL so far. I have only considered players who have gotten limited opportunity at the national level and players who aren’t known that well before this season of IPL.

AM Rahane (Rajasthan Royals)
(Runs: 332, Ave: 47.42, SR: 140.67)

AM Rahane has already represented India at the senior level. He has already played a handful of T20 and ODI games for India and has been fighting for that elusive spot in the Indian middle order. Rahane has been a rare case in Indian cricket in recent times who has not thrown into the limelight due to his IPL exploits. Much like Pujara who made the team on the basis of consistency in domestic cricket he too has forced the selectors to take a look at him with some brilliant batting in Domestic cricket. Rahane representing Rajasthan Royals has begun this season brilliantly becoming the highest run getter so far this year. His batting has been a treat to watch with his silken drives and orthodox cricketing shots. You hardly see him slogging yet he has scored at an amazing strike rate of 140.67. The more I look at him the more I am convinced that he should make the Indian squad soon. Rahane is the only batsmen in the list and he is been brilliant and it shows that there is clearly a day light between him and the rest of youngsters in India at the moment.

Nadeem S (Delhi Daredevils)
(Wkts: 6, Ave: 21.16, SR: 21.0, Econ: 6.04)

A young left-arm spinner from Jharkhand is another player who has impressed this season. Playing for arguably the strongest team this season Delhi Daredevils Nadeem has been able to exert control in the middle overs and PP overs chocking batsmen for runs. S Nadeem has been an integral part of DD squad this season as he has been extremely economical and has picked up crucial wickets for his side. Nadeem for sure has time one his side and probably needs to be looked at more closely. His economy rate at this year’s IPL is an amazing 6.04 and seems like he is more suited to the shorter format of the game.

P Awana (Kings X1 Punjab)
(Wkts: 9, Ave: 12.67, SR: 10.67, Econ: 7.25)

Awana is yet another Indian pacer who has impressed with his pace and wicket taking ability this season. He has already become an integral member of Kings X1 set up and has done exceedingly well for them. With 9 wickets already this season he is one of the top wicket takers in initial part of IPL V. Awana is a bowler who can consistently bowl over 140 K and maintain decent line and length. His wicket taking ability is a great asset and hopefully he can last the entire season without injuries. Awana is from Delhi and has a decent first class record with a good strike rate. He is another good addition to the Indian pace bowling list and with good performances in domestic scene might come into the radar of the selector. He is another Indian pace bowler to keep an eye on for the fans.

AB Dinda (Pune Warriors)
(Wkts: 8, Ave: 13.37, SR: 13.5, Econ: 5.94)

Dinda is not a new name for the Indian fans. He has been in radar for few years now but has hardly received consistent chances at the highest level. He has been performing brilliantly for his state side Bengal over the years and has been one of the best bowlers this season in the IPL. He did receive his chance in the Asia cup earlier this year but had two contrasting performances. He has been excellent for Pune Warriors so far and has carried their attack this season without much support. His economy rate proves that he hasn’t been easy to get away in the power play overs and he has also picked up wickets regularly. He has been very good with the old ball too as he proved against Pakistan in the high scoring encounter earlier this year in Bangladesh. He has been a vital member in the Pune Warriors squad and hopefully will continue to churn in good performances this season. A good season here might earn him a call back to the Indian squad.

S Dhawan (Deccan Chargers)
(Runs: 208, Ave: 41.60, SR: 126.82)

S Dhawan is probably someone who seems to be around for ages but yet he is only 26 years old. He has been a solid performer for Delhi and has had some good performances in the IPL over the years. Playing for Deccan Chargers this season he has been very good at the top of the order. He did play for India in few games and the one noticeable aspect of his game was his inability to convert good starts. In this IPL season too he has had similar issues kicking on after a start. He has had some good starts for Deccan but has failed to convert them into big scores. Dhawan again is a good young player who could not get into the Indian squad due to the embarrassment of riches at the top of the order. He has once again had a great start to this season of IPL and would want to keep performing to get the selection committee to notice.

Honorable mention:

KP Appana (Royal Challengers Bangalore)

The rest of the young brigade has been largely disappointing. Sourabh Tiwary (RCB), Mayank Agarwal (RCB), Ashok Maneria (RR) Manish Pandey (PWI), Rahul Sharma (PWI) and Ambati Rayudu (MI) all have been extremely inconsistent. All of them have made some crucial contributions to their sides but have not been consistent enough to make the list. Ambati Rayudu and Sourabh Tiwary have been the biggest disappointments. After a great season in the IPL in 2010 both the players had a forgettable 2011 and it seems like they have carried the bad form again to 2012 season. Even though Rayudu just played a blinder against Kings X1 to take his side home, he has been largely inconsistent. Hopefully this innings will help him to get back to form and stake his claim for the national side once again. The tournament has just begun and any of the above mentioned players can turn it around for their respective sides.

Even though T20 isn’t the right format to judge the capability of a player, these guys have put in their best efforts to get noticed. You can only perform in the stage given to you. These players have not only done well in T20 but have very good first class record to go with it. This means that they have only further emphasized their stature with some good performances in IPL. Performing well in the IPL means that you get noticed instantly and it for sure enhances your chances of getting picked for the national side.

There are no cracks on this wall

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It was 1996 and India was touring England. This was the first time I got to see “The Wall” Dravid bat for India. The media coverage those days wasn’t so great for domestic cricket so knowing a player before debut was not that easy. The series did not start well for India as they lost the first test in Edgbaston and as with the case in the 90’s Sachin was the standout performer with a hundred. India decided to go with 2 debutants for the Lord’s test. The 90’s wasn’t a great decade for debutants for India until that point and considering the criticism vented on Ganguly at the start of the tour I wasn’t hoping too much from either Dravid or Ganguly on their debut. How wrong was I?

After dismissing England for 344 in the first Innings, India found themselves in early trouble as usual at 59/2. After few partnerships and brilliant innings by the debutant in the match Sourav Ganguly, India were 202/5 still 142 runs behind the English total. Rahul Dravid the other debutant for India walked in to join Sourav in the middle. It was a great moment for Rahul and like Sourav he did not want to let this opportunity slip. Rahul Dravid even in his first innings at the international level showed great composure and calmness at the wicket. He was a perfect foil for the flamboyant Sourav Ganguly who went on to make a brilliant hundred on debut at Lord’s. Rahul though missed the mark by 5 runs.

In spite of missing the mark he had done enough and a legend was born. For the next 15 years along with Sachin, Sourav and Laxman he has been the vital cog in the Indian middle order. Coming in at number three he has been the India’s most important player overseas and has played quite a few memorable match winning knocks. A player par excellence was named the “The Wall” for his amazing appetite for runs and his extraordinary patience at the crease. He has been a perfect team man often doing what is required of him in the team. He has been pushed around in the batting order even though he has been India’s best number 3 by a distance. He has batted in all positions in the batting order and has also opened when required for his team. He also donned the keeping gloves for a while when India were looking to balance the ODI squad.

There is no question that Rahul has been a perfect role model off the pitch too. He is a soft spoken individual who always says the right thing in the media. It is unfortunate that in spite of all his achievements his position in the team is still questioned. Rahul though has now made an inspired comeback to form. The brilliant hundred in West Indies was followed by two more in England and is our key player once again on overseas tours. He announced his retirement from the shorter forms of the game after the ODI series in England. His performances in the ODI were amazing considering that he was written off as a test player in earlier part of his career.

The West Indies tour and the subsequent England tour have proven that the youngsters are not ready to replace the legends, so Rahul’s decision augurs well for the team. Rahul has been a great role model and a brilliant player over the years for India and I hope that he has a wonderful last few years in the Indian test side. He has given us wonderful memories through his batting and it will be sad when he eventually decides to hang up his boots. I wish that he has wonderful end to his career and hopefully will have few more great years in international cricket for team India.

India’s bowling conundrum

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A demoralizing and humiliating 4-0 whitewash, India’s first such loss overseas since their 3-0 loss to Australia in 1999. The team which had made a huge headway over the past couple of years collectively came down crashing against a team which was much more organized. The Indian bowling has always been a cause for concern.

The bowling attack sans Zaheer has always struggled and this series was another example for the same. The failure of the batsmen did not help their cause either.

The spinners are struggling; the fast men are not consistent enough. Everyone knew that if India had to stay at the top of the rankings they need to develop a good bowling attack. India has failed to do the same and it showed in the current series.

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Emerging Talent makes IPL special

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I call myself as a cricket fanatic. Give me any cricket game and I will watch it. It may be a International game or a domestic game or even a club level game, if it’s on TV then I will give it a go. It’s just the love for the game which drives me and not the level at which it is played. So IPL is something which I cannot let pass. Who wouldn’t want to see legends of the game all under the same roof? Even though I don’t agree with the elaborate and boring format of the tournament overall but watching young Indian players locking horns with International stars is something which makes IPL special.

Franchise based sport is new in India and it will take a little time to catch on. The American style will not work in India as the country has a national team which is playing throughout the year. So the Indian fans will be mostly loyal to the Indian team rather than Chennai or Mumbai or Kolkata. The fact that the teams are shuffled every three years also makes it hard for the fans to relate to their teams. You suddenly have Rohit Sharma playing for Mumbai Indians while he was playing for Deccan Chargers in the previous editions.

For me watching IPL is an avenue to have a look at future Indian prospects. It’s an opportunity for the youngsters to get noticed. This year has thrown some interesting names too. There were some known names that reaffirmed their status and there were some new names too. The biggest impact this year was made by two cricketers, one was Paul Valthathy and the other was Rahul Sharma.

Paul Valthathy did an excellent as an opener for Kings X1 Punjab this season. He was explosive and impressed one and all with his stroke play. He even held the orange cap for the while during the course of the tournament. Now we have to wait and see if he is a one tournament wonder (Asnodkar, anyone?) or if he would back up these performances in the domestic arena. The other standout performer was Pune Warriors Rahul Sharma. The young leggie who fought a career threatening injury to stage an inspiring comeback to competitive cricket was absolute joy to watch this season. A bowler of Anil Kumble mould was brilliant and one of the most economical bowlers of the season. He was the only shining light in an otherwise disappointing season for Pune Warriors. The other bowler to impress was Varun Aaron of Delhi Daredevils. Varun bowled with extreme pace and troubled the batsmen with bounce. It was unfortunate that we did not get to see more him in this IPL. I just hope that he keeps working on his bowling and hopefully will get selected for team India sooner than later if he maintains his consistency.

Ajinkya Rahane and Manoj Tiwary were others who impressed with the bat. Both these youngsters are rated highly by the experts and we got to see why during the course of the IPL. The others such as Iqbal Abdulla of KKR, S Aravind of RCB and Abu Nechim of Mumbai Indians impressed in the IPL 4.

There were few comeback stories too. RP Singh and Ishant Sharma made a great comeback after being out of radar for the Indian team selection. Ishant was brilliant with his bowling and it seems like he has regained his pace and control which he had lost about a year back. He has been rewarded with an Indian call up for the upcoming West Indies tour. RP Singh too was brilliant for Kochi Tuskers. He bowled with pace and troubled the batsmen with movement of the pitch. I hope that he continues on this trail and makes a comeback to the national side in the near future. The others who were consistent among bowlers were Ashwin, Mishra, Bajji and Munaf, all of whom will be travelling to West Indies earlier next month.

In the batting front, Subramaniam Badrinath was rewarded for having a brilliant domestic season and for performing brilliantly for CSK in the current IPL. His selection for the West Indies tour was a great reward for his consistency. Rohit Sharma also continued his great form in IPL and we have to wait and see if he can translate that form to International cricket. The biggest disappointment of the season was Irfan Pathan, who albeit returning from an injury was way off color with both bat and ball. He did bowl some good spells but lacked consistency with the ball. Ambati Rayudu was brilliant once again for Mumbai but Saurabh Tiwari was unable to replicate his success from last year for Royal Challengers Bangalore.

All in all IPL 4 was great as it threw some new names into the mix of youngsters. Even though these names add lots of spice for the future we have to keep in mind that IPL performances cannot be considered as a yardstick for national team selection. I guess this just gives the selectors a list of names whose progress needs to be followed in domestic cricket. All these players are extremely talented but performance in domestic cricket and “A” tours need to be given more importance for the Indian team selection. IPL 4 has been great for the new talent but I am still disappointed with the franchises reluctance to try out young players. A tournament which began as platform for young talent has just become a money making exercise. The teams are mostly interested in playing established International stars. Players like Varun Aaron did not get enough opportunities due to the same reason. Even though long, IPL 4 has been good viewing this year and if the organizers can cut the tournament little shorter we might actually have more people interested in the same.

World Cup 2011 team preview – Australia

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With just few days to go for the cricket world cup 2011 to begin, I have decided to take a look at the top contenders. In the first part I am going to take a look at Australia. Australia has won the cup 4 times and is the defending champion. That’s precisely the reason I decided to write a separate preview on them.

You can never count Australia out of any major sporting event. The team is still the best in the world in the 50 over format and has just had a crushing 6-1 victory over England in the ODI series. The current Australian team does not have the aura of the past 3 world cup teams and has only one great player in Ricky Ponting. The batting has been a struggle for the defending champions over the past year or so but their fighting spirit has kept them afloat in the shorter format. The Australian batting will be lead by the inform Shane Watson. Watson who has been brilliant for the Aussies over the past couple of years in all formats and will be a key member at the top of the order.

Ricky Ponting off course will be vital to their chances and the middle order comprising of David Hussey, Cameroon White and Michael Clarke need to step up to the occasion. Michael Hussey’s sudden removal from the squad due to injury is a major blow to the Australian chances as that has put enormous pressure on an inexperienced Australian middle order. The bowling though does not have such issues as Brett Lee’s return has given a definite edge to the pace department. Jason Krezja did a good job in the warm up game and will definitely be a good addition in the sub continental condition.

Even though Australia have struggled in the longer format in the recent years, their ODI form hasn’t dipped that much. They are still the best team in the world by a wide margin according to the rankings and would have to be considered as one of the favorites. I would place them as the top contender to win the world cup as they know how to raise their game for a major event. I am sure they will be one of the semifinalists this time and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are one of the two teams competing for the title on the 2nd of April at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai.