Monday, November 14, 2011

The Carlos Tevez saga continues

John Carlin, a New York Times writer said he was “shocked” at Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez’s refusal to come onto the football pitch against Bayern Munich in their Champions league match at the Allianz Arena, Munich. Tevez has been unhappy with life in Manchester had publicly stated in the summer that he wanted to leave Manchester City to be closer to his family.
Manchester City was trailing Bayern Munich 0-2 when manager Roberto Mancini asked the Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez to warm-up to get onto the pitch around the 59th minute of the match. Tevez refused to obey the manager’s orders. “He will never play for me again.” said a disgusted Mancini in the post-match conference. “He is finished.” Tevez followed that by saying he was not in the “right frame of mind” to play.
“Footballers get paid such a ridiculous amount of money.” said British football journalist Sean Mullan. “That compounds the problem.” Tevez earns an estimated £250,000 a week.
Two days after the incident, Tevez said that there was a gap in communication and he had “refused to warm up, but not refused to play.”
“I don’t know if Tevez is right and there was a misunderstanding.” said Carlin. “I doubt it. Mancini was so angry that he seemed genuine”. Mullan said that Tevez’s refusal was a spontaneous decision and not something he planned.

After enquiry and trial, Tevez was found guilty of five serious breaches of contract. He was suspended for a fortnight and fined two weeks' wages. He was ordered to train by himself and then with the reserves. Tevez’s problems compounded in November when he left for Argentina and failed to appear at the training sessions.

Dario Weitz called the 27-year old Tevez as the “player of the people” because he “never forgot where he came from.” Weitz, who lives in Rosario, Argentina and is a fan of Boca Juniors said Tevez was “born in the slums” in the “dangerous” neighborhood of Fort Apache. “His life, like other people in Apache, should go in misery, except for football.” said Weitz.
Mullan said that the Brazilian club Corinthians had made an offer of €40 million but Manchester City wanted €56 million and €16.5 million in a first installment to release Tevez from his contract. “Corinthians wanted to wait till 2012 when they get their new television rights and hence the deal did not go through.” he said.

“Can the Corinthians pay £250,000 a week?” said Carlin. “How many teams can pay even two-thirds of his salary? He bought himself out of the market.”

“I read an article by an Argentine journalist who called Tevez his ‘own worst enemy’. His own national coach does not want him.” said Carlin, who recently co-authored with Raphael Nadal on “Rafa: My Story” and spent over two years covering football and politics in Argentina. “I sometimes feel sorry for him. He has made a mess of his life. Some players come from extreme poverty and violence in childhood. But then so do players from Africa, some of whom are so well-behaved.”

Both Carlin and Mullan wanted a salary-cap to be enforced in football but could not see it happening.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Did Serena get away?

“It is a joke” said tennis referee Charles Granville referring to the $2000 fine imposed on Serena Williams for lashing out at a chair umpire in the recently concluded US Open. Mr. Granville, father of American professional tennis player Laura Granville, said that suspending players rather than fining them would make the tennis players behave themselves on court. French newspaper journalist, Cecile Soler said that unless a player goes physical or swears at the officials, he or she should not be suspended. Soler said: “Taking the point away is the biggest thing and that was what the umpire did.”

Williams was down 30-40 in the first game of the second set against Australian Sam Stosur in the final match of the US Open. She then hit a crunching forehand and yelled “come on” before the ninth–seeded Stosur dived at the shot. Chair umpire Eva Asderaki assessed Williams a code violation and a point penalty that gave the game to Stosur. During the changeover, Williams called Asderaki a “hater”, a “loser” and “unattractive inside” saying: “you’re giving me a code violation because I expressed who I am? We’re in America, last I checked.”

Armand Diab, another tennis referee based in Chicago, said that suspension is the ideal punishment. However, he also said that suspension would not be a practical solution as that would mean incurring “lot of revenue loss” for the tournament. Diab said: “It (the fine) is not right or wrong, it’s business”. Diab then said that he had seen cases where men said a lot worse things and have got away with it.
Williams earned $900,000 for her runner-up finish in New York and $500,000 for winning the summer's Olympus US Open Series. Armand Diab described the $2000 fine as a “slap on the wrist” for Williams. Williams was on probation after she had threatened a line judge saying she was going to “shove a ball down her throat” in a semi-final match at the US Open in 2009. ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said “I don't think [suspending Williams] would make much sense because it would penalize the people handing out the punishment."

“What has happened in cricket has not happened in Tennis.” said Granville. Cricket, another British-originated sport, gives the ultimate authority to the on-field umpire. Cricketers are suspended if they don’t respect the officials. Granville then compared the incident to the “two-year ban on first violation” imposed on players who are tested positive for using illegal substances. Granville then likened the incident it to the time taken by players between points. “Do Nadal and Djokovic follow the 20-second rule between points? The importance of players has had a corrupting effect (on the tennis authority).”

Soler, who has been writing on Tennis for Le Figaro for 20 years, called the umpires to be “brave and make the right calls”. Diab, on the other hand, said: “I read the recent article on New York Times which said how poorly the umpires are paid at the US Open”. He said that the tennis officiating profession could be under threat.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Arsenal 0 -2 Liverpool. But there is still hope!

After a summer of unrest, Cesc finally leaving for Barca, Nasri on the verge of going to Man City, the Gunners had a lot of questions to answer. Over the summer, the struggling Denilson and the effervescent, versatile Eboue had also departed. Wilshere, Rosicky, Gibbs were out injured. Song and new signing, Gervinho were serving suspensions. As if that was not enough, the improved Koscielny injured his back 10 minutes in the game. There was no lack of effort from Arsenal. Theo Walcott, Arshavin tried to make runs, but could not quite penetrate. Nasri starting the game was surprising to me. But, Wenger did say that "Samir has been 100% committed ever since he joined the club". I don't think the fans should berate players looking for a transfer. Would you not go to another employer if he offered you twice of what you are earning? "Part of our job" is how Wenger described the Nasri situation. Can Wenger convince Samir to stay just like the United gaffer did last year with Rooney? Unlikely, but possible.

Happy times ahead?

Back to the game. Frimpong came in for Song and had a decent game considering that it was his debut and he is not even 20 yet. Carl Jenkisnon and Ignasi Miquel, another couple of teenagers had impressive games and would definitely be good backups to Kosh and Gibbs (although Jenkinson is a right-back). Arsenal competed well with a really depleted team for 70 minutes before they lost Frimpong, who got a deserved red card. (another red card on debut for a gunner after Gervinho and Kosh). With 10 tired men on the pitch, Arsenal finally went down to a freak own goal from Ramsey. 'Rambo' certainly did not have a good game and the own goal summed up a bad day for him. Looking for an equalizer the Gunners committed men forward and were punished by Suarez. The gunners lost 2-0.

Arsenal's best player on the pitch was Vermaelen. The Belgian was a ROCK and kept Carrol ( and the Liverpool attack) quiet for the most part. Along with Sagna and a fit Gibbs, and an improving Kosh, Arsenal seem to have a solid back four. Schzeny has been stable. With Wilshere coming in, I believe there is still light at the end of this tunnel. With the current squad of players (assuming everyone is fit and Nasri and Bendtner leave), our starting eleven would be:
Arshavin/ Walcott
Van Persie

on the bench:
Arshavin/ Walcott
Ryo Miyachi

I think this is definitely a top 4 team. If Wenger can pull out a creative midfielder or convince Nasri to stay, we will be right in the mix for a push for the title.

I would still urge all the gunners to get behind our team. Wenger said before the game. "You can question my decisions for the club, but not my loyalty towards the club"

With some caution I say, "Bring on Udinese"

Monday, June 6, 2011

French Open Final 2011: Federer poetic, but Nadal is the unstoppable warhorse

It was another amazing match between two athletes who have brought out the best in each other and played some unbelievable matches over the last 5 years. It is not for no reason that Nadal is considered to be the best on clay. His record is 40-1. (Won 40, lost 1). If ever there was anything that was going to stop this unrelenting Mallorca man, it was Federer. The last time these two met at the French Open final was in 2008, when Nadal won 6-1,6-3,6-0, one of the most lopsided games in the history of French open finals. Several had written Federer off. But the Swiss king came back to life. He hired Paul Annacone as his coach, tweaked his game a little and indeed, came back to win the French Open the next year, in 2009. If ever there was anything missing from the Federer resume, it was to beat Nadal on clay at a Slam.

So, Nadal started slowly and Federer broke the Spaniard in his first service game and raced to a 3-0 lead. He was well and truly in control of the first set and got a set point at 5-2. His audacious drop shot missed the line by inches and Nadal fought back to 5-3, still a break down. Federer then seemed to hit one of the troughs and lost his confidence completely as Nadal took the first set 7-5, winning 5 consecutive games. 1st set Nadal, but what a confidence-breaker for Federer, having had a set point.

Nadal continued his strong momentum. Most players would have mentally been disintegrated against the inspired world number 1. But, Federer continued to fight and just managed to stay in the set. There were some unbelievable exchanges. Shots that would have been "sliced" or "floated" in by others were turned into offensive shots by these two. Federer, with his amazing athleticism and smoothness. Nadal, with his whippy, loopy top-spin into the Federer backhand. Despite Federer's fightback, Nadal got to set point serving at 5-4. He lost the set point and to add to the drama, the skies opened up and there was a 9-minute delay. Nadal had said before the game that he would not want it to rain and have the conditions dry for that would favor his top-spin game better. The players came back with Nadal serving at 5-4, 40-40. Inevitably his first serve was a top-spun serve high into the Federer back-hand and he earned himself another set point. Tribute to Federer, he fought back, broke back and the 2nd set went to a tie-break. Fortunes continued to swing. After the path the first set took, where Federer lost a set point, you could not help but get a feeling that this would go Federer's way (with Nadal having dropped set points). But, that indeed, was not the case. Nadal took the tie-breaker. Potentially, another huge blow to the Federer psyche.

Only one-time has Nadal lost a game having won the first two sets. That was way back in 2005 in Miami. The opponent? Surpise surprise - ROGER FEDERER. But that was when Nadal was a 17-yr old and Fed was on top pf the world. A totally different cup of tea now!

Nadal again raced to a 4-2 lead in the 3rd and just when you thought "that was it", Federer played some unbelievable drop shots and made some volleys out-of-this world. He made more unforced errors but came up with more winners and took the 3rd set 7-5.

Nadal was consistent. After the first 2 games of the match, he played the whole match at an (80/100) level. Federer, on the other hand, played some points at (50/100) and some at a godly level, more like 150/100. Nadal would run-down every ball. It was upto Federer to come up with the drops, the volleys, the approaches, the slice and all the variations.

Nadal came out in the 4th set and was under the pump and 0-40 on his serve. From there on, he managed to rise and what a rise. He came back to win the game and took the 4th set 6-1 and won the match 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1.

An unbelievable match. Some rallies and exchanges were out of this world. The final score may be a bit flattering for Nadal for he knew he was in a dog-fight for the best part of 3 hrs and 50 minutes.

The Federer-Nadal rivalry may be reaching its twilight. But if the history is anything to go by, we are in for another final between these two. For every time they have made it to the French open final, they have also made it to the Wimbledon finals!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

French Open, IPL and AF bans a journalist

Interesting news at the French open?

Disappointment for the fans as Ana Ivanovic lost to unknown Swede Larsson, 7-6, 0-6, 6-2. Bizzare score that. More disappointment as Somdev Devvarman lost to Ivan Ljubicic in straight sets. Finally some good news as Sania Mirza won her 1st round singles and doubles match. She is paired up with Ukraine-born Russian Vesnina. Nadal survived a major scare from the 7-foot American, John Isner as he had to dig deep to come back from 2 sets to 1 down to win in 5 sets. The others have gone through fairly comfortably, including Federer, Soderling, Djokovic and Murray. Roddick has withdrawn from the FO and no one seems to care! :(..... Can he do a Goran'01 in 2011?!

The best match of IPL - qualifier 1. Why? Most of my favorites were on show - Dhoni, Zaheer, Gayle, Vettori, Bravo, Ashwin! And what a game it turned out to be. Terrific performance by all these guys. Gayle 4-0-19-0 with the ball. Dhoni 29 off 19. Zaheer got Hussey and Vijay and finished with 4-0-31-2 and Ashwin got Gayle cheaply, so it does not matter what he did after that. Vettori was the only one who had an off day :( Dont care too much for the result, oh ya Chennai won in the last over. For some reason it is always fun to see the owner of the losing team's faces (especially Shilpa Shetty), this time it was Vijay Mallaya. So, probably I did support Chennai, coz their owner does not try to come to the limelight. Who is their owner btw?

Alex Fergusson banned one of the journalist's from attending the pre-match conference. The journalist had asked about the absence of Ryan Giggs from training despite being told before the conference to not talk about it. HEres the full story:

Some pictures from today's game:

Going down! Kohli and a nasty collision

Albie, its the pitch not your pool!......Morkel Dives to the crease without a bat!

Calypso joy!.......Bravo celebrates with team mates

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

India - Pakistan World cup history

Pakistan's overall ODI record is superior to India in the head-to-heads. However, in the last 8 years or so, since that blitzkreig 98 off 75 balls from Sachin in World Cup'03. India and Pakistan have played 35 ODIs, 17 India has won, Pak has won 17 and 1 abandoned.

In world cups, India have a hundred percent 4-0 over Pakistan!

1) 1992 - India was all but out of the world cup by the time they faced Pakistan. Pakistan on the other hand were clutching on by the finger nails. Famously bowled out for 74 by England before rain came to their rescue to keep their world cup hopes alive! India won the toss and put up a fighting 216 on the board. The top scorer? .......surprise surprise......SACHN TENDULKAR! Amazing that, I randomly pick out a match some 20 years back, look for the top scorer......and there he is again! Unbelievable......Pakistan were bowled out for 173.....this being the highlight

......yeh dil maange (monkey?) more (kiran?)

2) 1996 - A high-voltage encounter. India won the toss and decided to bat at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Banglore. There was already some controversy to this game even before it started. Akram declaring himself "unfit". India rode on Sidhu's 93, and Jadeja's blitzkrieg 45 off 25 to lift India to 288, last 3 overs yielding almost 50 runs. Pakistani openers was looking to make lightwork of the target. Anwar and Sohail were unstoppable. The highlight?

3) 1999
The circumstances were similar to the 1992. Pakistan was almost through to the semis and India was all but out. But the stakes were high. Edgbaston was full off people waving the tri-color and indeed the Paki flag. India made 227. Pakistan was bowled out for 170 odd, Prasad picking five wickets again. The highlight - Sachin's pull off Shoaib(prabably at his fastest at that time) through mid-wicket for a boundary!

4) 2003
India was through to the super 6 this time and Pakistan had to beat India to stay alive. They made 274, India's nemesis Anwar scoring another century. The atmosphere at Centurion was electric and Pakistan were charged. But so was another certain Tendulkar for India. (who admitted later he had some sleepless nights preparing for this game). Sachin cut Shoaib for 6, then clipped him through square leg for 4 and then played his signature on-drive for 4 to remove Shoaib from the attack after just one over. This set the tone for India's innings and reached the target with ease in the end. Sachin scored 98 off 75 balls......

5) 2011?

Got this forward.......

AFRIDI :- Hum Sachin ko kisi bhi haal me century ki century nahi banane denge.
SHOAIB :- Magar hum use rokenge kaise..?? Wo to Gajab ki form main hai....

AFRIDI :- Hum 100 ke andar All Out ho jayenge....!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Almost the perfect recipe

250-260 pitch
2 spinners
Ashwin in
Raina in
......that was almost the perfect recipe for India. It is our home ground. So, it is not, by any means, illegal or unsporting to make pitches that suit us. Featherbeds donot suit us, neither do green tops. I am not saying we cant win on those pitches. But the Mortera wicket was ideal for us against Australia. It is the ideal wicket for us to play against most teams except for may be SriLanka. Should we meet the islanders in Mumbai, a green top may be the order of the day for us.

Indian bowling is badly exposed on featherbeds and this was brilliant from the Indian thinktank (if indeed they asked the curator to prepare this kind of wicket). Playing 2 spinners, playing Raina for Yusuf(as we were not able to bat 50 overs in previous games) were again good decisions. The only worry now for India is Munaf Patel. Did we really need him? I guess, the answer was no today.

But looking ahead to the Pak game, the Mohali pitch has traditionally has had something in it for the quicks and we will need Munaf there (though there is still some doubt if he qualifies as a 'quick'!!) Quite ironic, if you think that a few years back he was India's fastest bowler!! (
The reason Munaf is playing is that he is more economical than Sreesanth and Nehra. He was our 4 bowler today, bowled 7 overs for 44 runs without picking up a wicket. In the Windies game he was our fifth bowler, and bowled 5 overs. Now I would assume that the logic behind not playing Sreesanth is that we can't rely on him completing his 10 overs, given his erratic nature (of bowling!). But between these, Sreesanth is definitely more of a wicket taker. He is more likely to produce the 'magic ball' to give us the break through. So, if Munaf is only bowling 5 over spells, why not play Sreesanth?? That is something for Kirsten, Dhoni and co to think about.

Everything else looks good for us. I cannot see Pakistan defeating us. I know the "" but Paki batting is too weak.

Kamran Akmal, Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Misbah, Umar Akmal, Afridi, Razzaq. I really cant see this batting line-up score more than 250 consistently. Umar Gul is their only bowler that will really concern India. I cannot see Afridi picking easy wickets against our batting the way he has against the likes of WIndies, Canada and Kenya.

Unless something dramatic happens, India should beat Pakistan pretty comfortably........

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When Wallace was the menace

The last time Pakistan and West Indies played in a major trophy in Bangladesh was way back in 1998, in the champions trophy quarter final.

Pakistan were the favorites. But there was a West Indian batsman who had some plans of his own. Nope, it was not Lara. It was the burly West Indies opener Philo Wallace. The Barbadian went barbaric and smashed the likes of Wasim Akram, Azhar Mahmood and Saqlain all over the park after Lara won the toss and elected to bat. By the time he was run out, he had scored 79 off 58 balls and West Indies' run-rate was over 7 after 20 overs. Despite a mini-collapse, Shiv (the only member from that game in the current squad) made sure that West Indies reach a more than respectable 289. A total which could have been much more, given the start. Pakistan were never in the hunt even though the margin of victory was only 30 runs for the Windies.

Philo Wallace then smashed India in the semi-final for a quickfire 50 starting with a first-ball six of Srinath. In the final, he hit South Africa for a 103 off 102 balls. Quite ironic that he just disappeared from the international scene after that and hence not many remember him.

West Indies will want Gayle to do a Wallace and pray to Shiv to provide the calming influence he did some 13 years back!

Monday, March 14, 2011

CRicket World Cup 2011 and India

Well, the India-South Africa match a classic for a neutral, but for an Indian fan it was a horrible memory which needs to be erased with a good performance against WI.

One of the best things about the match from the Indian perspective was the message from the skipper to his team at the post-match conference. He said it twice.

We should play for the country and not for the crowds

Which is why Dhoni's 12 off 21 balls may have received a lot of flak from a lot of crowd, but that was what was required at the time. To not bat 50 overs was criminal. And had India won the game from there, it would have put paper on lot of cracks. So, even though there is a slight chance of India being knocked out before the qrtrs, I think this is a good kick on the backside of this Indian team and I am hopeful they will revive their performance against the West Indies.

1) One HUGE question is when the batting powerplay needs to be taken? and more importantly how we approach it?
a) Take it from overs 16-20, especially in the situation that we were in the SA match. Sehwag and Sachin were butchering the SA attack. So why not
b) Second option is take it from overs 46-50. So even if we commit hara-kiri like the SA match it would not ahve as drastic as effect as it did when we took at around the 38 over mark.

But most importantly, its not when you take it, but how you bat in the PP.
It does not matter when you take it, 5 overs 29 for 4 is not something we can afford in any 5-over period of a 50 over game.

2) 2nd seamer and 3rd bowler
India would be better off preparing spin-friendly pitches and going in with 2 seamer + 2 spinner combo. (Nehra + Munaf) is a very weak combination. We cannot play both in the same match. Both are decent bowlers, who have performed reasonably well over the last few months. But both are ordinary fielders a can barely hold the bat. We do not have the bowling attack which can restrict batsmen on featherbeds like the one in Nagpur. So why dont we take the home advantage? Lets prepare 250-260 wickets and get our spinners into action.

The WIndies are loaded with lefties (Gayle, Devon Smith, Chanderpaul and the "Lara-clone" Dwayne Bravo). I am almost certain that Aswhin will play this game, which would mean either Nehra or Munaf will make way.

While India are top of the pool and almost assured of a place in the qrters, there is still a chance that they can go out.

These are the games that remain in our pool:

1) West Indies vs England
2) Ire VS SA
3) Ban vs SA
4) India vs West Indies

Ind are on 7 points from 5 games (1 to play)
WI are on 6 points from 4 games (2 to play)
SA are on 6 points from 4 games (2 to play)
Ban are on 6 points from 5 games(1 to play)
Eng are on 5 points from 54 games(1 to play)

For India to go out, the following has to happen

WI loses to Eng
SA beats Ireland (which is a given)
Ban beats SA
India loses to WI

Point to note is that when SA plays Ban they would have already qualified (assuming they would have beaten Ireland by then). So there is a good chance they will give the likes of Kallis and Steyn a break. That gives Ban all the more opportunity to cause an upset with the crowd behind them.

By the time, India plays WI, all the other matches would have been played.
Either way, they must have all bases covered, "Be Men" and "Do the right things"!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Arspective: Why Arsenal will beat Barcelona

Biggest game of the season for us. It is an absolutely mouth-watering contest. Compared to the last time,

1) We have a better goal keeper. Yes, Almunia almost single-handedly kept us in the first half with some amazing saves. But goal keeping is not only about shot-stopping. It is about being able to collect balls of corners and free-kicks, about distribution, about leadership, about communicating with your defenders. For all the criticism the Spaniard receives, I do believe Almunia is a good shot-stopper. But, Wojicech ticks more boxes than the Spaniard when it comes to all the aspects of goalkeeping I just mentioned.

2) Better central defenders. Last time we had to play Sol Campbell and Sylvestre over the course of the two games. Gallas got injured in the first game. And then Song had to drop back, which in turn disturbed our midfield, since we had to get Denilson in there.

3) Better mid field.
Like I said, we will have Song in the midfield.

Fabregas missed the second leg last time and hopefully he will be there for us over both legs.
If Nasri plays (latest news, that he has been passed fit), then again we will have hugely improved Nasri in the midfield compared to the last season.
This time we will have the quick-feet'ed wonder boy, Wilshere compared to the sometimes-laboring Abou Diaby. The Frenchman, no doubt, is a talented player. But the English prodigy is that- a prodigy.

4) A much improve Theo Walcott. He always had the pace. He setup that Adebayor goal in the champions league 2 years back against Liverpoool. He tormented Barcelona last year.But he was not a great finisher. He has added that aspect of the game, and the English winger looks a more complete player now.

5) Van Persie for Bendtner. The Big Dane has his critics. But he is not as bad as he looks sometimes. But Rockin' Robin is again a class above rest, never mind the Nick.

Overall, we are more mature, a more solid looking unit. I know its a cliche for those who listen to Arsene's press conferences, but I think that is true. We will have Arshavin, Diaby, Rosicky, Squilacci, Denilson, Nick and Chamakh on the bench.

Last time was a 2-2 draw. With all the improvements, mathematically, it should be a 3-1 to Arsenal!!

So there you go.........

Come on Arsenal!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

World Cups and Champions Trophies

World Cup
England, 1975
In the first edition of the ICC cricket World Cup, the 'Black Cat' and his men were unstoppable. In fact, it was Clive Lloyd, whose counter-attacking 102 off 85 balls set West Indies on the way in the final to 291 in 60 overs. A young Viv Richards scored three run-outs to derail the Australian retort and the West Indies won by seventeen runs to win the first World Cup.

World Cup
England, 1979
It was the West Indies again, who clinched the second edition of World Cup. The unstoppable Vivan Richards hit an unbeaten 138 as the West Indies posted 286. Geoff Boycott and Bearley took almost 40 overs for their opening wicket partnership of 129. Joel 'Big Bird' Garner took five as England folded out for 194.

World Cup
England, 1983
One of the upsets of cricketing history, if not the sporting history. Rank outsiders, India were bowled out for 183 in the final by a West Indian bowling line-up, which consisted of Andy Roberts, Malcom Marshall, Joel Garner and Michael Holding. Looking at the pace quartet, Kapil and India would have taken 183. In a 'nothing to lose' situation, Kapil's Devils bowled the West Indies out for 140 to put India on the cricketing map.

World Cup
India, 1987
For the first time, the World cup moved outside England and the number of overs were reduced from 60 to 50. World champions, World Series champions, hosts and hot favorites, India, went out in the semis to England. Chasing Australia's 253 in the final , Mike Gatting's infamous reverse sweep triggered a collapse as they lost to the Kangaross by seven runs.

World Cup
Australia/New Zealand, 1992
The tournament saw colored clothing and day-night games for the first time. Pakistan would have gone out had rain not intervened in the 13th match of the tournament against England. As history has it, they went on to beat England in the final by 22 runs. Young Wasim Akram came round the wicket to pick two in two to seal England's fate to another defeat in a World Cup Final.

World Cup
India, 1996
Sri Lanka shocked the world, first with their '15-over tactics' and then going on to win the world cup. Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharna set the tone and typified Sri Lanka's apprach in the world cup- fearless, aggresive and nothing-to-lose. Ashanka Gurusinha, Aravinda De Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga, Hashan Tillakratne and Roshan Mahanama gave the middle order more than just a solid look. If Jayasuriya and Kalu failed, as they did in the semi-final against India, Aravinda would counter-attack and the rest would play around him. Vaas, Wickramasinghe, Murali and Dharmasena, supported by the likes of Jayasuriya and Aravinda formed pretty much the ideal bowling line-up for the sub-continent conditions. They went on to beat Australia in the final by seven wickets, the first time a team batting second won the final of a world cup.

Champions Trophy
Bangladesh, 1998
In the first "non-world-cup" ICC tournament, Jacques Kallis inspired South Africa to a five-wicket win over the West Indies in the final. The young all-rounder from Cape town took five for 30 and then scored 37 to set the Proteas on the way to victory after Philo Wallace had scored a blazing 103 off 102 balls. Earlier, in South Africa's semi-final encounter against Sri Lanka, Kallis smashed 113 (5x4, 5x6) off 100 balls. Murali was hit for 48 runs in six overs.

World Cup
England, 1999
Lance Klusener was unstopabble for South Africa. With three genuine all-rounders (Klusener, Pollock and Kallis), the Proteas were ideally suited to the English conditions. They seemed to be cruising in the tournament, but a Steve Waugh-inspired Australia had other plans. Pakistan, another team with three quality all-rounders (Abdur Razzaq, Azhar Mahmood and Wasim Akram), also had a wily spinner in Saqlain and an express tearaway in Shoaib Akhtar. But Mcgrath, Warne, Waugh and Co. proved to too hot to handle for the men in green. The final turned out to be an anti-climax as Australia steam-rolled Pakistan, winning by eight wickets.

Champions Trophy
Kenya, 2000
A young Indian team, led by a new captain, Saurav Ganguly, comprised of little known, but fearless players like Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan. India was the team to watch with an ideal blend of young and experienced players (Sachin, Saurav and Kumble). They shocked Australia and then humbled South Africa in the semi-final. They were running away with the game in the final before they were hit by this thing called Chris Cairns. The burly, curly-haired all-rounder first bowled a frugal spell of 10-2-40-0 when the Indian openers were running away with the game. He then walked in at the fall of the third wicket and scored a belligerent unbeaten 102 to take the Black Caps to an unlikely victory.

Champions Trophy
Sri Lanka, 2002
Shoaib Malik became the first player to be give out LBW by the third umpire in the inaugural game against Sri Lanka.
By this time, India were on a roll. An aggressive skipper (Ganguly), a stable yet explosive batting line-up (Sachin, Saurav, Sehwag, Dravid) at the top,a young middle-order(Yuvraj, Kaif), quality spinners (Harbhajan, Kumble) and a good attack led by Zaheer. They had most things of what a good team should have. They were on the back of an amazing Natwest series win in England, where they beat the hosts by two wickets chasing 326. They were well and truly on the way to victory in the final after restricting Sri Lanka to under 250. Rain gods smiled on the hosts and saved their day. Ironically, the exact same thing happened the next day in the replay and India had to share the series with Sri Lanka.

World Cup
South Africa, 2003
The World cup moved to the African continent for the first time. Only two teams could have stopped the Aussie juggernaut in the eight edition of the World cup. One was Pakistan (because they are Pakistan!) and the other was India, with its wealthy batting line-up. Pakistan, being Pakistan, were knocked out in the first round! The impressive Indian sprint was halted by the Aussies in the final. Ponting and Martyn made the most of a nervous Indian bowling line-up to post a mammoth 359 after India put Australia in to bat! Even desperate Indian prayers for rain, which was their last hope, were not answered and India was bowled out for 234.

Champions Trophy
England, 2004
When Ian Bradshaw strode out to the center in the final, England had reduced West Indies to 147-8. By the time he came out, he and wicket-keeper Browne had put on 70 runs and West Indies surpassed Englands' 217. An amazing victory, which unfortunately, turned out to be a flash in the pan rather than a West Indies revival.

Champions Trophy
India, 2006
Contrary to expectation, this tournament was marked by low totals (forerunner to this world cup?). Teams defended scores of around 200 successfully. In one of the preliminary games, Jerome Taylor took a hat-trick, when the Aussies were chasing 225 for victory, to bowl West Indies to victory. Unfortunately for them, there was no such drama in the final. Australia bowled West Indies out for 116 and chased it down. The final will also be remembered for Ponting pushing the Indian chief guest off the stage during the presentation ceremony.

World Cup
West Indies, 2007
The first World cup in the Carribean will, unfortunately, be remembered for the death of Bob Woolmer. India's exit from the World cup in the first round meant that the viewership reduced drastically. None of this affected the Australians. They went on to hammer Sri Lanka in the final, thanks to a whirlwind 149 off 104 balls from Gilchrist. Ponting, Gilchrist and McGrath completed a hat-trick of World cups.

T20 World Cup
South Africa, 2007
India and Pakistan had a chance to revive themselves after first round exits in the World cup earlier that year. Revive themselves, they certainly did. In the first round encounter between the two teams, India won in a bowl-out after the two teams had tied. The final seemed to be heading to a similar result. Chasing 157 to win, Pakistan needed 12 to win off the last over. When the equation got down to six off four, Misbah attempted a 'Marillier' over short-fine-leg. He forgot that there is a Mallu in every corner of the world. Sreesanth took the catch and India won by five runs to send the nation into delirium.

T20 World Cup
England, 2009
Pakistan was surrounded by all sorts of off-field controversies. Change of captains, players being threatened, match-fixing allegations, terrorist attacks on touring teams. It was typical of them to go on to win the second edition of the T20 World cup in such circumstances. Afridi was the hero for Pakistan, both with bat and the ball. The all-rounder hit an unbeaten half-century in the final to take them to an easy eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka.

Champions Trophy
South Africa, 2009
Ponting and Watson inspired Australia to yet another major trophy. Australia made a mockery of England's 258 in the semi-final, winning by nine wickets. Watson and Ponting scored centuries to take their team home after England recovered through Tim Bresnan's 80 to take them to 258. In the other semi-final, New Zealand beat Pakistan. Watson scored another century in the final to guide them to a six-wicket victory.

T20 World Cup
West Indies, 2009
Mike Hussey reminded everyone of the 'Australianism' to pull off an amazing come-from-behind victory in the semi-final over Pakistan. He hit Saeed Ajmal for 19 in the last over of the match to take the Aussies home. But, it was Collingwood's England who had the last laugh, winning their first major trophy after beating Australia in the final. Man of the Series, Kevin Pieterson was in fine form. His 47 off 31 balls in the final helped England overhaul Australia's 147.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

OZ open and Wozniacki

This Wozniacki press conference was quite interesting. The 20-yr old world number 1's press conferences were termed "boring" by the south american media. So she comes out and starts talking. She does not give the journalists any chance to ask questions for about 6 or 7 minutes. Was quite funny.......

Some excerpts:
(No questions asked)
They say I am boring and I answer the same things. But, if the journalists ask the same questions, I will obviously answer the same answers.....
my Racquet feels good......
I deserve to be number 1......I feel I am playing great
(she is number 1 and not won any slams)

How was your cricket yday?
2) I had a good time playing cricket yesterday with Flinch and Peter Siddle!

What do you think about Kelly Danlglish, the new Liverpool manager?
3) Hope it changes things and the lads play well

What will you say to Andy Murray if you meet him
4) Talk to him about football, as he is an Arsenal fan (now I think Murray is my favorite tennis player!!) and I am a Liverpool fan, so will have a few things to talk about.

Here it is.......

In some other(maybe old) news,

Roddick was blown away by wawrinka in straight sets, who in turn was given a tennis lesson by compatriot, Federer

Kuznetsova and Schiavonne played the longest (4 hr and 43 mins) women's tennis match in a slam. The 30-yr old Italian prevailed in the 3rd set, winning by 16-14.
Schiavonne then played Wozniacki, who spent half the time as much as her on the courts.Surprisingly, the Italian won the first set 6-3. Playing against the Dane who was 10 years younger to her, she was looking good in the 2nd set. Many long ralleys were played, and the Dane eventually prevailed in the set and in the match.

Djokovic blew away Berdych in straight sets and he will face Federer.

Winner of Nadal/Ferrer will most probably face Andy Murray who is on the way beating the unorthodox Dolgopolov from Ukraine, who has been the surprise package this tournament. The Ukrainian had earlier beaten Soderling in the round of 16.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

India's World cup squad and the Australian open- Fighting Sania loses to Henin

So, here is the world cup squad for the world cup for India

MS Dhoni (capt & wk) -
Icy Cold Captain. I like the way he does not celebrate after we pick up a crucial wicket, or even after victories. Accused of trying to include CSK players, though I think that's rubbish. With a weakish bowling line-up, his captaincy will be tested again.

Sachin Tendulkar - His last World cup and surely there is a world cup written in his fate........Surely that is why the final is in Wankhede and (not in Kolkata).....An unbeaten century from the little master in the final to take India to a victory........
Man of the series of 2003 WC. Was asked to retire by many, (most famously by Ian Chappel and his 'mirror mirror on the wall' statement). Quite amazingly, has enjoyed his best years of cricket since then.
Is definitely going to retire from ODIs after the world cup

Virender Sehwag - Not much to say. There is only one way he plays.

Gautam Gambhir - He gives us that extra bit of steel. Not one to back off or hold back with the bat and also with his mouth. Plays the short ball well (unlike a few others in our line-up), got a good temperament in big chases.

Yuvraj Singh - Some question marks about his selection. But, I do feel we need him. Has the art of Pacing the innings. Will be an integral part coming in at 4/5 as India will try to maintain the lefty/righty combinations. His bowling could be more than a bonus.

Suresh Raina - Ideally he should come in after the 30th over, as then it will be like a T20 game for him! I don't think he should be as automatic a selection as he is since his ability to play long innings is yet to be proven.

Virat Kohli - Another one who can pace his innings. So that makes it Sachin, Dhoni, Gambhir, Yuvraj and him who can pace their innings in chases.
With a weak bowling line-up and flat pitches, bowling first could well be our mantra for the world cup.

Yusuf Pathan - He will battle for a place in the team with Raina. To be fair to him, Raina is as inconsistent as him. His bowling is better than Raina's. But, overall a tough call between the two. I do prefer Baroda man as he gives us the X-Factor.

Harbhajan Singh -

Praveen Kumar - Can swing the ball both ways. The last significant ODI trophy we won was the VB series in Australia 2007-08. He was instrumental in us winning the two VB series finals. His batting comes handy down the order. If fit, will be an automatic selection

Zaheer Khan - His form will be one of the keys for us. Except for the 2003 World Cup, the world cup winner has had the highest wicket taker. I dont think any of our bowlers will end up with the highest wickets (I hope I am wrong), but his form will be vital.

Ashish Nehra & Munaf Patel
Dont inspire a great deal of confidence, both Nehra and Patel. Both are sloppy fielders, and both cant really hold a bat. Since they are very similar, only one of them should have been in the squad. Which one? I dont know.

Piyush Chawla - Is he our wild card? I would think so. I do like his attitude. Has also been the stand out performer for Kings XI Punjab. But he has not played for 2 and a half years. Maybe, that might work in our favour. Will he be in the XI, a lot depends on the wicket we will play on. Interesting selection, and one that I am in favor of.

R Ashwin - Another interesting selection. Might play if the opposition is stacked with lefties. Could also be used by Dhoni in the opening overs since our fast bowlers leak too many runs in the first fifteen. Another selection that I do approve, since he has a lot of variations in his pace and flight.

Australian Open' 11

The raw power of Sania Mirza lost to the efficiency, deft touch, one-handed back hand and the fitness of Henin in the first round of the first grand slam of 2011. The 141st ranked India, who was the most googled-for tennis player last year (after her marriage with Shoaib Malik), won the first set 7-5. It was pretty neck and neck in the second before she lost 6-3. She ran out of steam completely in the third to lose 6-1. She has, unluckily, been pitted against the top players in a lot of these slams. I remember the 2005 Wimbledon when she lost to Kuznetsova.

Elsewhere the top seeds went through easily- including Federer, Berdych, Roddick, Del Potro, Nadal and Murray. Soderling is also on his way to a win.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Arsenal vs Ipswich, SA vs India, Rahul Dravid, Arsene -the best coach of the decade

So, Arsenal go to Ipswich to play the first of the Carling Cup semi-final ties (2nd one will be at home after 2 weeks). They got a real kick up their arse, drawing 1-1 at home to Leeds.

On Vermaelen, Wenger says
Vermaelen is out for another setback, which could keep him out for another month

On Squilacci,
Squilacci is out for minimum two weeks and maximum three weeks

He has mentioned that he is on the look out for a defender. It is not often that Wenger comes out in public and says he is looking for someone. So, if he has said it, then rest assured, he really does mean it.

On Ignasi Miquel, the young Spanish center back, Wenger said
He will be, at minimum, on the bench

Young Gunner- Ignasi Miquel

So, we can expect a mix of the our "first" and "second" teams, a mix of the team we played against Wigan and the one that played Chelsea/Birmingham. Ipswich were hammered by Chelsea 7-0. But that is hardly any good news for us. We had hammered Newcastle in their home in Carling cup only to lose to them at home in the premier league game. So, nothing is done till it is done. We have a great chance to get home a trophy and we can not relax till we put it in the cabinet.

India take on South Africa in one of the more "meaningful" ODIs of the recent times. Like Vettori said recently, there are far too many non-meaningful ODIs. This one is important for both teams as they prepare for the world cup. I know the conditions over there will be totally different to the one that will be there in the world cup. But, for India it will be a test of character. Nothing better than a win against a strong team, as far as building the confidence in concerned. With injuries to Sehwag and Gambhir, the team almost picks itself. At least the batting order.

I would play Sachin, Kohli, Yuvraj, Rohit Sharma, Dhoni, Raina, Y Pathan, Zaheer, Ishant/ Munaf, Harbhajan and Nehra

The reason I will not play Vijay (despite him being a natural opener) is that with Gambhir and Sehwag returning to the squad, I do not see Vijay making it into the team for the world cup. It will also give Kohli the opportunity to play the new ball, which he might have to if he comes in at the fall of two early wickets (batting at four in the world cup). We still need a second spinner for the world cup and the tussle is between Ashwin, Ojha and Chawla. From what we have seen in the IPL, Ashwin seems to have the variations needed for the limited-over format. However, with the likes of Yuvraj, Pathan, Raina, Rohit in the side, I do not see a need for a second spinner, unless he is a top notch one. So, maybe he might be replaced by Harbhajan. I also think that we need to keep faith in Yusuf Pathan. As inconsistent as he maybe, he gives us the X factor, as we saw in the 4th ODI against NZ. Especially in the sub-continent, he can turn the game on its head in the space of five overs. For South Africa, there is talk that they might play two spinners (World cup in mind again!!!), Plessis and Pakistani born Imran Tahir. I do think that only one of them will play. If Tahir does make his debut, he will be the second Pakistani born to play for another country in the space of 10 days (Usman Khawaja, the other). Stein-Tendulkar contest promises to be another cracker! As does the Zaheer- Smith contest, this one only for the Indians! Praveen Kumar's injury must be a concern for the Indians. Not only can he swing the ball both ways, he is very handy with the bat down the order and a safe fielder. Munaf/Ishant do not really inspire too much confidence in most Indian supporters.

Talking about confidence, on 11th Jan Dravid celebrated his 38th birthday. Just like his batting, this one went unnoticed. Here's a toast to the one-and-only Jammy!

Oh, and to those who doubt our gaffer's credentials, here is something for you:

Arsene Wenger has been named the best coach of the decade, beating Alex Ferguson and the rusty little twat coach of Real Madrid.

Overall, I believe Wenger is the best!!

Ryan Babel has been fined/reproached by the FA for putting this picture up on his twitter:

The ref gave soft penalty to Man U and sent off Gerard in the FA cup game between Liverpool and Man U.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Top 10 of 2010

January 3-6, 2010
Pakistan's spectacular loss to Australia

It was the 2nd test in Sydney. Mohd Asif destroyed Australia's top order as the hosts crumbled for 127. Pakistan replied with 333. They took, what looked like, a match-winning lead of 206 runs. Australians were 257 for 8 in reply. Mohd. Yusuf then put all men on the boundary for a struggling Hussey and let the Aussies back into the game as Australia recovered to 381. Chasing 176, the men in green were rolled over for 139 in the fourth innings. That is why I said, Pakistan's spectacular loss to Australia, not Australia's win over Pakistan!

2-6 February, 2010
Yusuf Pathan's 210 against South Zone. Click here for video

Yusuf Pathan smashed an unbeaten match-winning 210 to secure a record-breaking chase in first-class cricket. In the Duleep Trophy Final, West Zone were chasing an improbable 541 for victory. West Zone were 239/3 when the elder of the Pathan brothers strode in. He smashed 19 fours and 10 sixes to complete the record-breaking chase.

27th Feb, 2010
Arsenal's 3-1 wins against Stoke
When Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross rammed into Aaron Ramsey's ankles to give him a double-fracture, many of us feared a repeat of Eduardo-Birmingham episode a couple of years ago. The Gunners came back instead to complete a 3-1 victory of Stoke at the Brittania Stadium. It was a sign of how the young gunners had grown. Come on Arsenal!.

28th Feb, 2010
2nd T20
Australia had blitzed New Zealand in the first T20. The Kiwis needed something special in the second game. Boy did McCullum deliver something special. His 116 off 56 balls set them on the way to huge total, which they eventually won in the super over.

14th May 2010
Michael Hussey strode in with Australia at 105/5 in the 13th over. Chasing 192 to win for a place in the T20 World cup final, Hussey smashed six 6's to complete an amazing win. There was, after all, still some Australianism left in the current lot.

Sachin Tendulkar
If Australianism was back alive, Sachinism continued from where it left and kept going.
  • First man to score 200 in ODI,
  • Match-winning 214 against Australia in the Bangalore test, and
  • the 50th test century in the second innings of the first test, which began India's fightback in the series
are three of many Sachinist moments for the year 2010.

VVS Laxman
Someone on Cricinfo commented:
"Though Tendulkar is the god, it is Laxman who answers our prayers"
While it is easy to overlook Sachin's contribution sometimes because of the number of times he gets us out of trouble, there is no doubting that Laxman's knocks were timely and came under intense pressure.
His match-winning knocks of:
  • 103 not out against SL, chasing 267 in the fourth innings
  • 73 not out against Australia at Mohali, chasing 216,again in the fourth innings
  • 96 against SA in the recent test at Durban
were all amazing rescue acts.
Many of us get so intrigued by his wristy stroke play, that we forget the steely resolve that this man posses underneath. We all got to see the 'other side' of Laxman when he gave young Ojha a piece of his mind, when the young left-arm spinner was "wandering" during their last wicket partnership.

Keep going VVS!!

Sept 11, 2010
Djokovic's comeback win against Federer

The Serb staved off two match points to complete an amazing comeback in the semi-final of the US Open 2010. He won 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 against the Swiss Ace. Later in December, in the Davis cup final, he inspired Serbia to a 3-2 win over France.

October 3-14, 2010
Commonwealth Games
Before the games, there were a multitude of concerns including:
likelihood of floods in Delhi due to heavy monsoon rains,
poor living conditions at the Commonwealth Games Village,
delays in construction of the main Games' venues,
possibility of a terrorist attack by militants.
But all this was put to bed as Delhi/India recovered to stage the games in a grand fashion. Not only were the games a huge success, but also this was the best performance by host nation. They finished with 101 medals, second only to Australia. Lord Sebastian Coe, former Olympic Champion and chairman of the 2012 London Olympics Organising Committee, described it as "potentially the moment that could change the course of athletics in Asia, the moment that could inspire thousands of people who'd never even seen an athletics track before to get involved."
It also prompted an article in New York, whose headline was
"A technology called Jugaad"

November 14, 2010
Amazing last day victory by Sebastian Vettel
Going into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the 23-yr old German had only an outside chance to win the championship. Going into the final day of the season, Ferrari's Alonso was leading the charts, closely followed by team mate Webber. Vettel's chances of winning the Championship were very slim. As history has it, Alonso finished seventh and Webber eighth. Vettel finished first to win help Red Bull to their first Championship.

Nov 29, 2010
Barcelona's annihilation of Maurinho

With the La Liga increasingly becoming a two-horse race, the El Classico was going a long way to determine the Spanish championship. Earlier in the season, when Real Madrid went for their champions league tie with AC Milan, he churlishly pointed three fingers to the crowd (for three Scudettos). When Barcelona rubbed in five goals on the Real Madrid, the Portugese's face was a sight to see.
No finger pointing this time!

Dec 27, 2010
Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea
Arsenal's young men were being questioned with their ability to win "Big Games". They answered the critics with a thumping win over Chelsea. Carlo Ancelotti's men were thumped and dumped to a 3-1 loss. Admittedly, the men in Blue were on a bad run of form, but the character and spirit shown by the Gunners was there to be seen. Now, are they ready to take the next step? Come on you Gunners!