Thursday, February 5, 2015

Bowling of Ajmal and Hafeez would be missed in World Cup

If any team has suffered the most by ICC’s recent crackdown on the bowlers having suspect actions, its Pakistan. First Saeed Ajmal was banned and then, it was Mohammad Hafeez and neither of these two bowlers got their action cleared ahead of the World Cup. Ajmal was not even named in the final squad of Pakistan for the tournament. Hafeez got in, but, as a batsman only. The bowling of these two gentlemen would have made Pakistan a serious threat in the World Cup. They are still a good team, Pakistan, but, they do not look to have as dangerous an attack as they used to have in most of the past World Cups.

One would say that the ball does not spin in Australia and New Zealand and thus, Ajmal-Hafeez would not have been as effective as they are in subcontinent. That’s not true at all. These are the two bowlers who never depended on turn that much to beat the batsman or get him dismissed. Their bowling was more about their speed variations, the use of the crease and of course the presence of mind. Somebody like Hafeez would never let you come down the pitch easily to him and play the lofted shot. He was such an expert at shortening the length of the ball at the last second and getting the batsman to play a false shot.

Ajmal was a master at using the crease. He would change the angle, would go over the wicket, around the wicket citing the strengths and weaknesses of the batsman and he would also bowl from the corner of the crease at times. Of course, he had that gift of ability to turn the ball both ways, but, even in non turning conditions, he would fetch wickets for his captain.

Had Ajmal and Hafeez been there, people would have seen some class off spin bowling in the World Cup 2015.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sanjay Patel, Rajeev Shukla in frame for BCCI presidency

The Srinivasan group in the BCCI seems to have started to come to terms that their main man would not be able to grab the prestigious post of the president for the second successive time. They are mulling over the name of other people who can be suitable candidates from their side for the elections. Sanjay Patel’s name is being talked about. He is the current secretary of the board and has been overseeing everything for the past one year since that spot fixing matter popped up and he has run the affairs pretty well.

The other candidate that might be there for the consideration is Jagmohan Dalmiya. He is an ex president. But, he is too old now. BCCI presidency is not easy to handle. You have got to travel to different places to attend meetings. So, it’s quite difficult for a person who is over 70 already. Experience is a good thing, but, still, you have to be active enough to run such a big board. So, Dalmiya might not get too much of support.

Rajeev Shukla also has healthy relationships within the board especially within the ruling faction. But, he is from congress which is an opposition party in the central government and most of the people ruling the state boards at the moment are from BJP. But, Shukla is a very powerful political personality and his rapport with Arun Jaitley, the man whose words carry a lot of weight in the board, is good.

This time the presidential candidate has to be nominated by the East Zone. At least, two East Zone state boards must be in favour for a person to stand for the elections. Otherwise, the candidature can’t be valid. Patel and Shukla would easily get the support of two boards from the East Zone.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Indian players enjoying the short break before the World Cup

The Indian Cricketers, who are there in Australia, have been given a short break by the board. They have been freed to explore Down Under for a few days before they get all their attention back to Cricket again and try and win the biggest prize in the game i.e. the World Cup.

The Indians have been in Australia for about 10 weeks. They had landed there back in November. Since then, they have played a couple of warm up first class matches, a full test series of 4 games and then, almost the same team played the Carlton Mid Triangular ODI series as well. So, they must be mentally drained and you don’t want to be playing a World Cup in a drained mental condition.

This break period has been nicely timed by the BCCI. There are seven days to go for India’s first practice game against Australia. A couple of training sessions before that would be fine. So, if the players get back to the team camp on Friday i.e. 6th February, they would be ready for that game. The sources say some of the Indian players actually wanted to meet their families and they had even requested the board to give them the permission to take the flight back home. But, Australia is not a nearby country. Returning from there and then going again within 3-4 days, it would take its toll. So, the board did not allow anyone to return, but, is planning to arrange for the families of some players to travel to Australia to meet them.

India’s second practice game before the World Cup is against the Associate team Afghanistan on 10th. And, then, the big game, the much awaited India Vs Pakistan fixture, would come along on 15th.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

South Africa the strongest contender in the World Cup

The South African public is quite excited about the World Cup this year as they feel that their team is strongest in the One Day International format right now and if their players don’t choke at a crucial stage as they have been doing for the last 22 years, the team can bring the trophy home this time.

Ahead of almost every World Cup, South Africa happens to be one of the most spoken about teams, but, rarely do they make it big when the actual show time comes. They would obviously say that luck has played tricks with them a couple of times and that’s true, but, they have lost opportunities by themselves as well. The last time around when the World Cup took place in the subcontinent, they beat India in the group stages, but, then, in the quarter finals, they lost to New Zealand which was a shock for everyone.

The South African players seem to get into the occasion a bit too much. They should learn from some of the other teams, India for example. India would fall far behind South Africa in terms of talent, but, when it comes to big nights, the Indian players just don’t get flustered and believe themselves to beat any team that they come across. South Africa needs the same sort of belief because if all the departments click for them, they can be bullish, absolutely bullish.

When the World Cup had happened Down Under in 1992, South Africa had made the final 4 and could have made the final too, but, the untimely rain and the strange setting of the revised target denied them that opportunity. They needed 22 runs in 13 balls to beat England in the semis and then, after rain, their revised target was set to 22 off 1 ball. It was heart breaking for them to lose that way.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dhoni looking to play two left arm spinners

It seems India are planning to play two similar sort of spin bowlers come the World Cup. MS Dhoni always likes to challenge the conventions of the game. He had done something similar in the last World Cup too when he had gone with two right arm off spinners Harbhajan Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin. This time around, he has two left arm spinners in the squad i.e. Ravindra Jadeja and Akshar Patel and he is looking to use both of them in tandem.

It’s not that Dhoni doesn’t have options. He has an off spinner in the squad too currently, but, because of the fact that Jadeja and Akshar give him more control in those middle overs and they both can bat a bit too, the Indian captain is in favour of having both of them together in the XI.

This move can be costly against those teams that have got a lot of left handers because the deliveries of Jadeja and Akshar would fall right into the hitting arc of the left handers. But, Dhoni is blessed to have a part timer like Suresh Raina whom he can always bring in as a bit of a variety. Raina has, over the years, turned into a very handy One Day off spinner.

With Jadeja and Akshar batting at 7 and 8 respectively, Dhoni feels a little secured and goes for his big hits a little earlier thinking that even if he gets out, there are guys behind him who can take the attack to the opposition. But, when Jadeja doesn’t play and it’s only Akshar to follow after him, he plays circumspect cricket and playing that way, he does not quite bring the best out of himself and that hurts India too. That’s another reason why he wants the combo of Jadeja and Akshar. It makes India’s batting line deeper.