Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ireland Vs Sri Lanka, Super Eights

Was anybody surprised with the result of this game? We were so sure this result was in the offing that we did not see a single delivery of this game. We don't have anything to say about this game. Can we get the other useless games done and over with and move on to the business end of the tournament? Please?

Wait, NZ plays Australia this Friday. If NZ beats Australia, we will most probably die of shock. Other than that, all the other games are crap. Wait, how could we forget? the very important game between West Indies and England is coming up. That will be an entertaining game. If we were a betting man, we would put some money on Michael Vaughan scoring some runs in this game. How many runs, you ask? Let's not talk about unimportant things like that instead let's talk about:
", and ships, and sealing wax-
Of cabbages and Kings,
And why the sea is boiling hot,
And whether pigs have wings."

As Akira Kurosawa once said (talking about his movies in general and RAN in particular): "If I wanted to deliver a message, I'd write a letter" and then he promptly spoiled this great response by saying: "What I wanted to say in the last scene was that humanity must face life without relying on God or Buddha.."

Why are we talking about Kurosawa in a cricket blog? That is a good question. We are going to watch a movie now. Our favorite movie of all time. Great movies are like that - timeless and good for the soul. Great games are also like that. Unfortunately, there haven't been that many great games in this world cup.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

England Vs South Africa, Super Eights

South Africa ignored our dire warnings and went ahead and included Andre Nel in the team. They will pay for this. Soon. Maybe as soon as the semi-final. Despite the presence of Andre Nel in the bowling line-up, England, taking a leaf out of India's playbook, imploded spectacularly. They made a mind boggling score of 154 and South Africa knocked it off without breaking a sweat.

England's first wicket fell when the score was 9 runs in the 8th over. That's right, 8th over. Whatever one might say about the English performance on the cricket field, one has to admire their stubbornness with sticking to their "plan". What was the "plan"? To bat sedately for 20 overs without losing wickets ("back to the basics" approach) and then accelerate like hell in the last 15 overs.

They got the "bat sedately" part right but the "not losing wickets" and "accelerate in the last 15 overs" parts - not so much. It was a disgrace that Ravi Bopara, who has looked much better then at least 5 of their star players, batted at number 7. Mind you, that was a promotion. He batted at number 8 in the earlier matches. Stupid and highly moronic.

England was one of the dark horses of this tournament back when the world cup started last century. They were coming to the Windies after beating Australia and having won the VB Championship. The team has a good bowling attack, some in-form batsmen (Bell, KP, and Colly), Monty, and Flintoff. It's sad that they couldn't all play well in the same match. Forget about the 'all' part, even if three of their players played well, they would have done well.

Today's performance was truly depressing. We were pumped up for a great tussle between England and SA. What with this game being a virtual quarter-final and on top of that there was this whole sideshow of KP and Smith. This could have been a great match. Unfortunately, only one team showed up for this match and that team was not England.

On the bright side(?), England will play more matches in this world cup than India and Pakistan combined. Furthermore, all cricket lovers have a great cricket match with nothing at stake to look forward to:

England Vs West Indies.

That game is going to rock! Everybody will score centuries and then all the bowlers will take hat-tricks. Mark your calenders. It's the must see match of the tournament. You heard it here first.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Australia Vs Sri Lanka, Super Eights

SL did the unexpected by "resting" Murali, Vaas, and Malinga. This decision tells us that they realistically did not expect to win this match. Then, SL's game plan boiled down to how they planned on losing the match.

It is true that SL could have had a chance of winning the match if Jayasuriya played one of his patented explosive knocks followed by the top order consolidating and ending up with a HUGE total (around 300-325). That did not happen. Mainly due to Nathan Bracken's brilliant bowling. We haven't talked much about Bracken because we were hoping that he would just go away if we ignored him long enough. Now that is not going to happen, we might as well heap praise on Bracken.

Nathan Bracken is the kind of bowler all cricket sides drool over - left arm fast-medium. The last great left arm fast-medium bowler Australia had was Bruce Reid ( A brilliant bowler with injury problems). Left arm fast bowlers are prized because their natural delivery veers away from the right-handers and if the said left arm bowler has the ability to bring the ball in or to straighten the ball after it pitches, so much better.

Bracken can do all of the above and on top of it, he is very accurate and has McGrath like ability in keeping to his line and length. Bracken not being in the Australian test side is a joke. Anyway, Bracken bowled phenomenally well and had SL reeling at 29/3.

Mahela Jayawardene and Chamara Silva did the rebuilding work for SL but after they were gone, the Aussies quickly rolled over the other batsmen and SL ended up with 226 runs. Jayawardene looked very good out in the middle. He batted very fluently and seems to be in really good form. Mahela's batting form must please the Lankans a lot. His short-arm pull off Tait for a 6 was the best shot he played all tournament.

SL's total was never going to trouble the Aussies and sure enough, it did not. They cantered to victory in the 43rd over losing just 3 wickets and on top of that they were able to give Symonds some quality time in the middle.

So, What did this game prove? Aussies are the best team in the world and SL don't have to feel depressed because they left out their best bowlers from the team. It is a win-win situation for both teams. But, here's the catch: SL batting line-up was their A-team and they did not cover themselves with glory today. If SL play Australia again and post a similar score, they are going to lose even if they have Vaas, Malinga, and Murali in the line-up.

A lot will depend on SL's batting if they are to win the world cup. That means, a lot will depend on how well Jayasuriya bats. Since we are talking about Sanath, what is the deal with Tharanga? He has been plodding at the other end and puts undue pressure on Jayasuriya. If SL want Jayasuriya to bat freely they need Tharanga to bat a little bit more aggressively at the other end.

The Aussie Juggernaut rolls on.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bangladesh Vs Ireland, Super Eights

ICC had a grand vision. On a sunny April Sunday, India and Pakistan would play in front of packed houses and bring the world cup to life. If ICC was lucky, this game would be a crucial game with the loser getting thrown out of the world cup. Unfortunately for ICC, this scenario did not come to pass. Instead, Bangladesh was playing Ireland in a match which would determine who among them would occupy the last spot.

Bangladesh for all the giant-killing it has done in this world cup, has a very sub-continent trait of being inconsistent. This inconsistency led them to a defeat in a game where they were, for once, the favorites. Ireland won the toss, elected to bat and went to post a very competitive total after a sedate start. KJ O'Brien and Trent Johnston provided the much needed impetus with some lusty hitting. Chasing 243 would not have been a problem for Bangladesh if they had gotten off to a good start.

Bangladesh lost wickets regularly and were never in the chase. The bane of bad batting (lack of partnerships) was their biggest problem. It did not help Bd that Habitual Bashar is in a batting slump. We would have liked to see Bashar play well. He has a reputation of being a fierce puller and is very well known for his addiction to the hook shot. Sadly, he was nowhere near his best.

Despite doing a lot of commendable things in this world cup, this loss must be a real downer for Bangladesh. On the other hand, Ireland played exceedingly well and were captained brilliantly. Trent Johnston did a great job captaining the side and played very good cricket too. For our money, Trent Johnston was the man of the match.

Ireland has done a commendable job in this world cup. We really hope that they don't go the way Kenya did after the last world cup. Ireland needs a lot of love. Money will help too. But the most important thing Ireland needs is: matches with other test playing countries. ICC should not drop the ball with Ireland. They can be a test playing country pretty soon if they are given the needed encouragement.

New Zealand Vs South Africa, Super Eights

We predicted this. Well...not in so many words but we did say this:
"...Andre Nel was not dropped despite our recommendation. South Africa is going to pay for that. Soon."
SA did not drop Andre Nel for this match and paid the price. Serves them right. They really should have dropped Nel for Langeveldt. Langeveldt is a much better swing bowler and would have liked to bowl on the green top in Grenada.

The thing about NZ is that they use the limited resources they have very efficiently. Shane Bond is the best fast bowler on the planet right now. This guy is awesome. BCCI should use the money it has to make Shane Bond a citizen of India. India can use him. What we like about Bond is not that he is a great fast bowler but the fact that he is such a nice guy. After beating Kallis every ball in an over, he stood and smiled at Kallis after each ball. The best part was that it was not a mocking smile. It was a smile of a man who felt the batsman's pain. It was a very sympathetic smile. How can one dislike a guy like that?

Anyway, after Bond smiled for 10 overs, he finished with figures of 10 overs 1 maiden, 26 runs and 2 wickets. Great bowling from Bond. NZ bowled very well and contained SA to 193 runs. This total would never trouble the Kiwis. All they had to do was stay at the wicket and they would get the required runs.

Fleming and Styris did just that for the most part and then McMillan took them home. With this win, NZ is in the semi-finals. Not a big deal since they have been in a lot of semi-finals. This world cup, they have a very good chance of making it to the finals. We are rooting for them.

SA on the other hand, now have to play a 'quarter-final' match against England to get to the semi-finals. England have a pretty good chance at winning that game. That would be fantastic. Bad Karma is a bitch.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Australia Vs Ireland, Super Eights


Australia completely demolished Ireland. Talk about kicking arse. Australia kicked some serious arse. The match was over before lunch. Brilliant.

Can anybody beat Australia? They are playing brilliant cricket.

New Zealand Vs Sri Lanka, Super Eights

The question is: How will SL play when their freak of nature (who has truly come of age) is not available to perform his miracles?

Answer: The other freak of nature (Muralitharan) and the old war horses (Vaas and Jayasuriya) will lift their game as needed.

Great win for SL. They deserve the semi-final spot. Next stop for SL: Australia. Go SL.