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!