Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008. An year that was...

Looking back...this year had a lot for me...

Early in the year, I fell ill. Luckily so, because that way, I could stay back home away from college enjoying Indian youngsters romp home the under-19 Cricket World Cup in Malaysia and also India win the CB series down under. Also, Djokovic had his first grand slam at the Rod Laver arena. Some time later, I went for a trip to Kodai, lovely hill station. A lovely trip ruined by stupid seniors. Cometh April, cometh bat swinging ball swatting nuisance of T20 drama named IPL... Utter nuisance extended till May. It was a relief that was over...

Summer! I loved it, for the pure action packed sports that was just jam-packed into the 2 or 3 months. Boy o' boy! I can still remember Turkey's and Russia's splendid outing in the 'England-less' Euro. NBA, Oh My God... I couldn't have asked for a better finale! Old rivalry kindled... After 18 odd years, its gonna be CELTICS up against LAKERS... Lakers faltered at the wrong moment, and the Celtics were champs yet again...and how...after beating their biggest opponent! The Big-3 did it for them! Doc Rivers is one proud man now. Summer in the green cricket pastures of England was just TOO good. Kiwis and then SA had mixed luck in England. Ultimate cricket season. India had tough time, losing in finals yet again. Football. Oh yes... Oh yes yes. EPL has never been that close... Manchester United won the premiership by two points, was almost going to be on goal difference, but for Chelsea's lapse of concentration in the last few moments of the season. Chelsea had a great season in premiership otherwise... It ain't over yet. Lets go over to Moscow for the finals of the UEFA Champions League '08. MANU vs CHELSEA. It cannot get bigger than this. It had to be decided by penalties. And John Terry's unfortunate penaly miss cost Chelsea the title. Tennis this summer? One word for it - NADAL. Wimbledon and Venus go hand in hand, don't they? F1- Hamilton being pursued by Raikkonen,Massa and also Alonso.

Move on Baggie, move on...
Oh yeah... Then the college beckons me back to the den with the sickening mess-food. Some boring subjects, some good ones, a new hostel, a stupid college cricket team captain and my birthday filled my mind for the first few weeks... Then, India was at Lanka, predictable test series (what with Mendis rippin' through any batting line up???), and then a hard fought victory in one dayers for India. Then started EPL, la liga, bundes liga, serie A and etc etc. aaahhhhh.... so MANY changes to teams, managements etc etc. But it all got moving thick and fast from the first whistle... Half way gone, Liverpool leading the table (off the pitch, they sure have some problems), Chelsea losing fort, literally...beaten at Stamford Bridge by Liverpool and Arsenal in quick succession and dropping important points to trail the leaders by three points. Manu looking good as champions of England, Europe and the World and are just on the best form to climb back to the top notch. Arsenal is like a pendulum swinging back and forth from superb form to dismal form. Hull, Everton, Aston Villa, Fulham are all coming good. Hull, just promoted, has been the show stopper.

Olympics. China hosted, China Won! So many records, so many memories.

Federer pulled one back towards the end of the year! But, lost out on rankings.

Hold and Behold... The King of all Kings... NBA starts! Friday and Saturday mornings will be sweet again!

Aaaah... holidays.

Moving one. Cricket had its share soon. Australia were humbled in India, and also back home, when SA treated Aus like bunnies. England were humbeled too, in India.

So many other things happened in this year, which ended in a not so good manner. Mumbai was a target of terror attacks. This was a big thorn. Hope we all will head into the New Year on a happy note and resolve to "live and let peace"!!!

See ya all in 2009! Have a great year ahead!



Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Holiday Season didn't Disappoint

What an end to the year...

India beat England 1-0 in the two test series (that FINALLY happened). India won the match at Madras ( Chennai) after England controlled the match for 3 days 2 sessions to be exact. After that was something no one would've expected... India had to chase down a total of 387, if my memory serves me right. Sehwag tore apart the English pace attack and gave India a big chance to win on last day. Gambhir caressed on. Then came the man and the hour. Sachin guided India to victory in the company of strokeful Yuvraj. Rightfully, Sehwag was the man of the match for literaly taking the match away from England... One up, going to Mohali for the second test, England brought in Broad for Harmison. Panesar was still not at his best. India went in unchanged. The second test saw fog, more of Gambhir, return of Dravid, switch hit of KP, another episode of Flintoff vs Yuvraj, ft. KP, more fog, some more Indian batting, more fog, some more Indian batting, a HUGE target under the circumstances and then the draw... India won the two test series 1-0. With this victory, India moves to number 2 spot on the test charts after displacing South Africa. Australia and South Africa locking horns down under presently.

Australia beat New Zealand 2-0 in the two match home series. New Zealand sent another cold thorn into the stumbling Australian side which was trying to get back its form after being drubbed 2-0 in India. After a poor first innings batting erformances by Australia in the first test, their bowlers put them back on track and there was no looking back. New Zealand continued their search for an opening pair. Jesse Rider and McCullum came good with batting at times, but ran out of help from the other end... In the end, it was an easy series for Australia.

West Indies were in the beautifuls Isles of the Kiwis for a two test series. First test was just a match for the count, nothing much happened in it, as Dunedin was under rain clouds more often then not... The series moved to Napier, and though both teams tried their best, result ws not to come and the series was all square. This series saw brilliant performance from the new face Tim Mcintosh for the Kiwis, who filled in for the dropped Redmond. Chanderpaul tutored Taylor to a century while he was moving along in a style of his own. Gayle was superb with both bat, ball and also with captaincy. Iain O'Brien had some good spells to remember.

WI will be playing a five match ODI series in NZ after a couple of T20s I think. South Africa and Australia are fighting to end the year on a high, testing each other in the 4 match test series prior to the one day series (hey, no more jan-feb tri nation series down under, remember!!!). Sri Lanka are touring Pakistan in January '09 after India pulled out. SL are presently playing test series in Bangladesh.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

No New Year Pak tour!!!

Can't say one didn't foresee this. Indian govt and BCCI have taken the decision to cancel the tour of Pakistan early next year. All the security promises from the PCB fell short of changing the mindset of any offficial, in the wake of the terror events that wrecked havoc in the city of Mumbai in the last week of November. PCB and Pak govt are unhappy about the tour being cancelled, but Indian counterparts saw no other way out of the scenario. The ties between the two boards may weaken due to the current developments.

Sri Lankan Cricket Board headed by ex-captain Arjuna Ranatunga has offered to tour Pakistan if India doesn't. It'll be known in due course if that tour is brought up on the calendar.

Pakistan desperately needs a home series to put itself back on the cricket map. But, constant radical activities in and around the nation in the recent past has kept many nations away from it. Champions trophy had to be postponed to next year. The only good thing that happened in '08, was a good conduct of Asia Cup. Lets see how things go from now on.

Pushing daisies...

The Champions League T20 cricket tournament has been pushed to as far as October '09. That was the best bracket the ICC could find. Now, I think the whole scenario would change. Its a whole new season, and there will be new winners in every domestic competition. In this year's version, the Pakistani Champions, Sialkot were invited over West Indies Stanford champions and New Zealand's domestic table-toppers. This year, it may be different. Middlesex has already complained that they missed out on nearly $ 2m which they could've been richer had they played in the tournament.

The IPL trade window was postponed by a week to begin from Dec 22nd to Jan 22nd. Later on, auction will start. Many players in the fray, and many are showing their best talent in the end of the year series' around the world. The teams will have some thinking this season prior to picking the players. Lets wait and see who gets to wear which jersey this time around

Stamford on back foot

Big sad news for the cricketing world. Sir Allen Stanford is thinking about retreating from investing in cricket. He has incurred losses after the Stanford 20-20 for 20 tournament, as he couldn't make it to a US television deal. He has a big 5 year deal with the ECB who seem to be the most concerned in the change of Stanford's mood. Only time will tell how things are going to build up from here...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why? Why? Why?

Why, I say, Why (do I sound like Forghorn-Loghorn???) can't any televisoin channel telecast West Indies' tour of New Zealand in India???? This is a very good contest between two very talented and capable teams, in one of the best tracks in the world... I'm a die-hard fan of the Kiwi fast pitches, and it hurts to miss more than a month of New Zealand tour. Pls, somebody help... I remember having seen Bangladesh's tour of New Zealand, and England's tour o New Zealand, both in 2008, on SONY television's SAB channel (Indian Subcontinent). But, no channel is telecasting it this time!!!


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cricket buzz

Here's a wrap up of what else is happening around in the near past:-

The Kiwis toured Bangladesh for a 3 match ODI series and 2 match test series. The fresh look Bangladesh team surprised the Kiwis, winning by 7 wickets! The New Zealanders fought back and won the other two matches. The first test was won by NZ, and the second test was drawn, thanks to rain. This is Bangladesh's second drawn test, in their 40+ test history.

South Africa beat Bangladesh in both ODI and Test series. Bangladesh had a very tough tour of South Africa and were beaten in all departments. The exodus of Bangladeshi players to the ICL has had some effect on the current side.

Australia hosted Kiwis for a two-test encounter and won comfortable in both of them. Brett Lee claimed his 300th wicket in the process. Off spinner Nathan Hauritz made a comeback into the Australian side, as Australia continue to look for a permanent spinner in the post-Warne era. Ponting hit back to the winning ways and had a few critics put their pen down. The Kiwis had something missing in them, didn't have enough firepower to capitalize on the momentum that they got in bits and pieces. Now, Australia will be hosting South Africa for a traditional 3 match test series and nontraditional 5 match ODI series, the tri-nation trophy having been scrapped off. Kiwis are hosting West Indies. They'll play 2 tests and 5 ODIs.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka completed a white wash of Zimbabwe in the 5 match ODI series. With little or no resistance from the Zimbabwean batting line up on most occasions, SL had it easy on the slow pitches. Credit must be given to the Zimbabweans, thought, who came very close in the last three matches and the effort was well seen. The lack of experience of playing top level cricket and inability to handle pressure cost them dearly. The spin combo of Murali and Mendis had Zimbabwe in trouble. Mparuwa was the lone bright spot for Zimbabwe's bowling. Sangakkara was the only batsman who showed composure in the series, which assisted bowlers more.

With lots of cricket going on around the New Year time, the cricketing world in the Southern Hemisphere will be busy with high quality action packed cricket. I hope cricket is back in its prime form up North too.

Repairing the track called 'Cricket'

Its been less than a week since the Mumbai massacre, and the whole bandwagon of cricket in India is in ruptures.

England had earlier called off their tour midway through the One Day series, in the wake of the disastrous events, and returning back anytime soon was not on their minds. BCCI has assured the English team utmost safety while urging them to return back for the test series in different venues. After a long discussion, with many ifs and buts, the BCCI has shifted the venues to Chennai and Mohali, instead of Ahmedabad and Mumbai respectively. ECB is happy with the venues, but the report from their security advisor awaits. Former England cricketers have advised Pietersen and co. to continue with the tour of India. This will be a gesture from the cricketing world that no cowardly act can shackle cricket, and the show will go on...(picture abhi baaki hai, mere dost :-) !!!). Captain Pietersen, initially didn't want to return, but now is willing. The close friends, Flintoff and harmison want to stay out, and spend time with their family, for genuine reasons, as is obvious. Anderson, the going-to-be father, wants to be home this holiday season with his wife. ECB has told the team that they can opt out if they want, and will not be penalised, but assured them that they'll be provided good security in India. As of now, ECB is busy getting the team their kits ready in time. The team's original kits were inside hotel The Taj Mahal, which looks like a graveyard now, after the 60 hour long battle in Mumbai attack.

After the attacks, India's tour of Pakistan in January is under some doubt. The team, I believe is willing to tour, but the National security adviser's team and the centre will take a decision on it. Hopefully, a positive one. Pakistan needs cricket to go on in their country. Legendary Pakistani fast bowler, Wasim Akram wants an India-Pakistan test match in Mumbai to show the world that cricket is not afraid of terror, and that India & Pakistan will go hand in hand to prove it. Asia Cup was held excellently well. I feel they will be able to provide good security this time too. But again, due to the incidents happening around nowadays, its not easy to decide.

The Champions League Twenty-20 is postponed indefinitely. Finding a window for this tournament early next year is becoming difficult, with many series involving most of the teams will be underway.

A meeting has been called by the ICC to discuss the World Cup 2011, to be hosted by the Indian Subcontinent. Taking into considerations the recent terror strikes, some felt that it may not be safe for the subcontinent to host the even. I feel that the tournament has a long way to go and there is enough time for the preparation, which will be done in good time. Things will go as slated, and the tournament will be a grand success. Nevertheless, ICC will meet in the coming week and make a conclusion. If not the subcontinent, then, Australia and New Zealand will be hosting the World Cup '11.

Only time will tell.