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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Carlton Mid Tri-Series Cricket: Australia Deserving Champions!

Glenn Maxwell

Australia showed today the difference between a top professional side and a disillusioned listless disgruntled side. Australia were in a similar situation put into bat first in the final of the Carlton Mid Triangular Cricket tournament played in Australia today like India were in the virtual semifinal against England on 30th January. While India starting well engineered the first batting collapse to be reduced 136/5 Australia starting shakily were reduced to 60/4 in the 18th over. While India managing another batting collapse with the tail not wagging enough could give just 200 runs as the target Australia not only recovered from that crisis but succeeded in setting an imposing target of 279 runs for England thanks to their middle order batsmen and the great tail. That target proved to be a match winning one as Australian bowlers responded with spirit and England just crumbled. It is also to be observed that all matches prior to the final had been won by the side chasing, but for top team these things hardly matter as they can win under any eventuality. Toss, pitch conditions and weather are things that bother only teams with no body language and a lot of negativity—at the moment India fit the bill. Australia have done the real positive preparation for the ICC World Cup 2015 to be played in their backyard and neighboring New Zealand.

Australia defeated England by 112 runs to lift the Carlton Mid Tri-Series Cricket Trophy in Perth today. Great inning of 95 off 116 balls by Glenn Maxwell and 60 off 99 balls by Mitchell Marsh leveraged Australia to a commanding position. For the wagging tail pacer Faulkner put the seal of authority by plundering 50 runs off 34 balls with 4 sixes and 4 fours and in 50 overs Australia made 278 for 7 wickets. For England Anderson who struck two lethal blows early on could not come back on his later spells and Finn went wicket-less while Woakes was the most expensive. Broad making a comeback captured 3 wickets, but could not contain the hosts.

England never looked to be in real pursuit even though the target was not unassailable. They kept on losing wickets at regular intervals and at 98/8 it was almost all over. Some tail resistance prolonged the inevitable with England finally bowled out for 166. Now with the ball off spinner Glenn Maxwell was the main damager with 4 wickets for 46 runs and was rightfully adjudged the man of the match. Mitchell Johnson who came back into the team in this match  did the damages early on capturing 3 wickets and Hazelwood joined in with 2 wickets.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Carlton Tri-Series Cricket: India Beaten Out, England-Australia Final On Sunday!

England have entered the final of Carlton Mid Triangular Cricket Series played in Australia beating a listless India by 3 wickets with 19 balls to spare in the 4th ODI of the Series in Perth today. England now face unbeaten Australia in the Final to be played in same city on Sunday, the 1st of February 2015. For a change a better performance by Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan (38) and a half century by Ajinkya Rahane (73) gave India a good start and with Virat Kohli coming at No.3 for the first time in this Series India looked to be in a sound position to push for a formidable total. But, the ‘Calypso’ collapses that seem to have become a part of Team India reduced the team to 136 for 5 from 102 for 1 and then 165 for 9. Mohammed Shami, the last man standing, hit a lusty 25 to make India reach 200 at least; else India would have done exactly the same as they did last time against England. This is despite the presence of two confirmed all-rounders in the team. The famed batting line-up of India could not even utilize full 50 overs. For England all their pace bowlers shared the wickets with Finn capturing 3 scalps.

The total of 200 was never going to be enough. However, a 3-wicket burst by Stuart Binny put England under a lot of pressure at 66 for the loss of 5 wickets. But well known for their inability to apply and go for the kill India let the situation slip out of control and the way Taylor (82) and Butler (67) played it seemed there was never any pressure. The two match-winners finally got out, but then it was too late. England have emerged the deserved winners and they were the only second team that looked to stop the Australians. 

India have finished the tournament winless and before that they have lost the Test Series against Australia. If you talk of the run-up to the ICC World Cup 2015 which will played in Australia and New Zealand India have prepared disastrously with hardly any positive coming out for the team. The Srinivasan factor is also looming large over the scenario and the ‘dirt’ of Indian cricket needs to be finally thrown out. While Srinivasan reportedly wants to exercise the option of giving up IPL franchise CSK so that he could still fight the BCCI elections for President the ICC has so far done nothing to him and in fact announced that the next ICC World Cup T20 would be hosted by India in 2016.  How Team India recoups and regroups from here only time would tell. And, time is really running out.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Carlton Tri-Series Cricket: Virtual Semifinal India Vs England!

If Team India is proven third time lucky tomorrow then they will definitely play Australia in the Carlton Mid Tri-Series Cricket Final on 1st February 2015. India got what they wanted on 23rd January when Australia defeated a resurgent England overcoming a huge 300+ target with three wickets in hand and just a ball to spare. India proved lucky again on India’s Republic Day, 26th January, when they got hold of two precious points through the backdoor as their crucial match against undefeated Australia got washed out due to persistent rains. India did not look to be in a sound position to hope vanquishing a dangerous Australia in that match. Now, with these two points, India just needs to defeat England who have 5 points from the match against India including a bonus point straight and simple without bothering about bonus points or run rate pressures. Their two injured players, Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma, have come back into the team and this could be crucial in the Perth encounter tomorrow. Therefore, if they are lucky and professional enough in tomorrow’s virtual semifinal they will be through to the final. Australia is already through to the final with 15 points.

However, England with their batsmen in form, and pacers Finn and Anderson already proving lethal against the shaky Indian batting line-up would try very hard indeed to ensure a place in the final. England would also be looking for some extra bounce in the Perth pitch to pressurize the Indian batsmen like they did in the last encounter. They have a score to settle with Australia too after two consecutive defeats.

For India the biggest worry continues to be opener Shikhar Dhawan who has a string of failures so far and it is difficult for the captain to drop him because of World Cup prospects and that Rohit Sharma is yet to be declared fit. This crisis of options is set to haunt India in the coming World Cup too and a lot depends on how they would deal with the questions we raised in these pages. Amabati Rayadu is not looking comfortable at No. 3 and only God knows why Virat Kohli is not being played at his customary No. 3 position. If they are to win the match tomorrow, give a good contest in the final and to have positive run-up to the World Cup-2015 they must settle their issues now. Anyway, we are in for a big match tomorrow in Perth.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

IPL Verdict By Supreme Court: Finally N Srinivasan Given Out Caught!

Nine months after forcing BCCI President N Srinivasan to resign the Supreme Court of India has virtually demolished the big-money-powered cricket clout of India in a landmark judgment delivered today on the IPL Spot Fixing Scandal and Conflict of Interest case. The court said that Srinivasan created the conflict of interest himself by bringing in an amendment to the constitution as BCCI Chief. The court struck down this controversial 6.2.4 clause that allows BCCI officials to own IPL teams and have commercial interests. Scrapping of this rule means that Srinivasan cannot contest the BCCI elections which the court ordered to be held within next six weeks. Supreme Court gives Srini one option though—you can fight election if you give up your IPL team Chennai Super Kings. This is not one of the easiest options to make use of because of obvious ‘cricket’ lobbies, players, business and revenues. Furthermore, the court constituted a three-member panel of judges to decide the fate of Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals along with implicated team or franchise officials as per the Mudgal Committee report and recommend changes in the BCCI constitution. The IPL, Season 8, supposed to come up in April this year is now under a cloud and there is no clarity for the IPL auctions that are to start shortly. The panel will give its report in six months.

The historic judgment effectively finishes off the cricket monopoly enjoyed by the BCCI for so long. The court holds that the Indian cricket Board functions are public functions and like all public functions by any organization BCCI is also open for judicial review. The BCCI can longer be the executor and the judge too. It can no longer punish or benefit anybody within the Board. BCCI did not adhere to prescribed procedure too while conducting probe in IPL spot fixing scandal. One must also give full credit to Cricket Association of Bihar for bringing the Conflict of Interest syndrome first time into litigation and the Mudgal Committee for its commitment to clean up Indian Cricket.

All escape routes for the most powerful cricket administrator cum beneficiary of Indian cricket seem to be closed now. He is finally right royally adjudged out ‘caught’ by ‘conflict of interest’ by none other than the apex court of the country. What the International Cricket Council (ICC) does to N Srinivasan next would be his immediate concern. As expected, many cricket ‘experts’ and ‘lovers’ are already crying hoarse for the sake of the IPL in the spirit of the game, India’s prestige and interests of innocent cricketers. But, the IPL must severe its dirty underbelly and stick only to cricket if it wants to continue as a tournament. And, hope is all there. Hail the Supreme Court for this. Hail the Operation Clean-Up Indian Cricket. Jai Ho!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Carlton Tri-Series Cricket: Defending World Champions Almost Thrown Out!

Defending World Cricket Champions India supposedly embarked into the Carlton Tri-Series played in Australia with an overwhelming concern for the bowling department and perhaps finding a solution before the ICC World Cup-2015 begins in Australia and New Zealand. But in the very first two matches against Australia and England respectively India had all the concerns possible for its batting only. In the Melbourne ODI against Australia Indian batsmen failed to capitalize on the Rohit Sharma ton and fell short of another at least 20 runs to hope to put some pressure on the strong home side. In the Brisbane ODI today India recorded its lowest ever all-out ODI total against England and crashed to a humiliating defeat in a horribly one-sided match. On both occasions the Indian tail did not wag at all maybe to welcome MS Dhoni back into captaincy.  

Rather than writing a report about these one day encounters it will be much better to just note down the questions… and questions emerging out for this Team India of World Cup-2015. 

  •       Why captain Dhoni opted to bat first both times winning the toss while Team India has the best win record chasing targets? And also in view of the bouncy pitches and fiery pace of Starc, Faulkner, Anderson and so on.

  •      Why was Virat Kohli brought down to bat at No. 4 instead of the customary No. 3 position in which he climbed to the top spot in the ICC rankings for batsmen?

  •       Why was Sturat Binny not included in the team for the first ODI? Binny was selected for the World Cup-2015 because of his all-round ability and in the present team for the Tri-Series Team India has no all-round presence thanks to the mysterious injuries of the ‘selected’ Ravindra Jadeja.

  •         Today Rohit Sharma had an injury and the whole team was in absolute confusion with Rahane opening with the hopelessly out-of-form and yet selected Shikhar Dhawan and then Rayadu coming in to bat at No. 3. There was hardly any option for a good opener. So why such a situation was not anticipated while selecting Team India for the World Cup? Why Murali Vijay was left out in the cold despite his tremendous show in Australia for the Test series?

  •       Why was Binny, finally included in place of Ashwin , given the new ball to open the attack today against England while better pacers like Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami were available?
  •      When is Ishant Sharma is going to be fit? Such ‘injured’ players are already selected and nobody knows when they will have some practice before the big event.

  •       Is everything okay in the Indian green room after the dichotomous captaincy between long and short format?

Some smart commentators are putting the garb of ‘experimentation’ on this utter display of poor cricket by India. The best experimentation possible at this moment is to cultivate the winning habit and continue that in the World Cup too.

India is almost knocked out of the Carlton Tri-Series after two consecutive defeats. Mitchell Starc got his career best figure of 6 wickets for Australia and today Finn had a haul of 5 wickets for England thanks to ‘generous’ Indian batting. By restoring the full confidence of these genuine fast bowlers the Indians are making it difficult for themselves only in the next matches. India has also given England a bonus point which will make it extremely tough for India to make it to the final. From here on India will have to defeat Australia in Sydney on 26th January and defeat England in Perth on 30th January, better with at least one bonus point, and before that hope Australia beat England again on 23rd January at Hobart, to find a place in the final on 1st February.

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