I think it’s been ages since I blogged about my first love although I do keep having great discussions with my cric buddies (PK and Tugga) of years off-line. I need to put these conversations up on the blog as they will make up for an interesting read for all cricket lovers! Either ways that is for some other day for another blog post.
For those who thought I was off cricket, tough luck! If you think you can survive without water, good for you, it’s not gonna work for me without cricket!
People who know me well, know my love for test and detestation for ODIs and T20. I loathed T20 when it came into force but India’s win in the WC, the scintillating matches against Pak & Aus in the first WC and later the IPL changed it all for me. I’ve not switched loyalties, test cricket remains my first love, the pure and true form of the game.
Test cricket is like your mom’s homemade food, the taste stays on your tongue for years, it takes time to be prepared but beats any hotel food any day! T20 is more like a KFC or McDonald’s burger, tasty as long as it lasts as it helps beat the hunger in few minutes!
I’ve enjoyed every match of the IPL this year, changing loyalties from MI to BRC to DC, and hoping that the underdogs would win as they did last year! Not many gave RR a chance last year and I bet no one would have put their money on DC(last year’s bottom team) to win this one!
I admire and hate Lalit Modi, he has made IPL bigger than any ICC cricket event but at the same time he has drowned in commercialization of the game. It worries me that the charm of IPL will be lost soon.
So DC won and had a fair fight from BRC whose comeback was the talk of the tournament. You know the tournament is serving its purpose where one cannot predict a clear winner unlike the international scene where Aussies seemed to dominate for a long time now! Fortunately, that’s changing.
All eyes are turned to the T20 WC in England. I’m glad that the bowlers will have a chance to shine. The conditions are conducive to seam bowlers and all that the bowlers need to do is stick to the basics and bowl a good line and length. South Africa showed us some close matches in IPL and not all were high scoring games.
I rarely, very rarely vouch for India as favorites because we have been an unpredictable bunch for long. I always prefer that India goes in as tournament underdogs rather than favorites, we somehow tend to play better without the weight of the expectations. But, Dhoni’s Dudes are proving me wrong and seem to fare much better when there are more expectations. They have been winning consistently in all forms of the game for the last 2 years, occasional hiccups forgiven:-)
Before I review our competitors, I feel we stand a good chance to defend the title again. We bat right down to no 9 if we field the following team:
Sehwag, Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj, Raina, Dhoni, Yousuf, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Ishant, RP Singh
If Dhoni opts for 5 regular bowlers keeping in mind the England conditions, he will drop either Sehwag/Gambhir based on form and field Praveen Kumar who has bowled extremely well for BRC in IPL. Rohit and Yousuf are in excellent form along with Raina. Yuvraj/Dhoni have been out of sorts a bit but then they are experienced warriors who cannot be left out. And even if anyone goes out form, Ravindra Jadeja is raring to go. A couple of shots he played today reminded me of his namesake’s innings against Pak in ’96 WC and the thrashing dealt out to Waqar Younis.
As for the bowling department, RP Singh is in tremendous form carrying from his IPL success. Ishant is a worry but he seemed fine today in the warm-up game. If Zaheer opts out due to his injury we have Praveen Kumar, while Pragyan Ojha is a fitting replacement for Bhajji. As MDH told me today after seeing Ojha bowl in the warm up game, ‘Who the hell said spinners will be murdered in T20, see this bloke and see how Warne, Vettori and Kumble bowled in the IPL.’ If you got the skill you will excel in any form of the game. Though I felt Nehra was a tad unlucky to miss out, he was bowling as well as he did in the 2003 WC.
The serious competition will be from NZ, we are yet to beat them in a T20 game. Even today we lost. This team is indeed our boogeyman. Ryder, McCullum and Taylor are dangerous blokes who can turn the game single-handedly and Vettori can do the same with the ball. The worst part about this format is that it takes one innings or one over to turn the match and all 4 have the ability to do so. By far it is a team that deserves some serious attention and is definitely in the race for final four.
Australia is the only other team to have beaten us so far but as a team we are far better off. I would place the South Africans with Duminy,Smith, Steyn, Morke, Kallis and Boucher way higher than the Australians. Even Sri Lanka and Pakistan stand a better chance, Pakistan because they are terribly unpredictable and Sri Lanka because they have the seasoned campaigners Sangakarra, Dilshan, Jayasurya, Malinga and good old Murali. I’m not so sure England will get that far, they have decent players but I’m not so sure they’ve mastered the art of playing T20 yet.
Although there is a high possibility of Bangladesh or Windies pulling off an upset, I still feel that the best teams should make it to the final four – India, SA, NZ, AUS/Pak.
Your votes are welcome for the top four but currently India is leading with 66% on cricinfo.com’s poll!
It should be an exciting game to watch.
P.S: I’m moving houses on the auspicious day when the WC commences. I hope the new house brings in much luck to MDH and me as much as the day brings in luck to the Indian Team’s WC campaign.
There is a high probability of me not being able to blog about the game till we get the internet connection done in the new house, so I don’t know when I’ll join in again on this space.
Till then enjoy the cup and keep me posted as well!