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The second day of first test match between India and Sri Lanka ended with India leading by 192 runs before the end of their first innings. As the second inning started, Sri Lanka did not play very well at the start and it lost its openers very soon.

Sri Lankan cricket team
By the end of second day Sri Lanka was at 5 for the loss of two wickets. As soon as the third day started Indian bowlers continued to bowl impressively. Ishant Sharma and Aaron continued to bowl well.

However, Mathews retained his aggressive approach despite the loss of three wickets. Sangakara too appeared to be in a positive frame of mind. Mathews and Sangakara contributed a lot for the fourth wicket in order to realize that Sri Lankans have the potential to build a strong total against the opponents.
As soon as the Sri Lankan batsmen were making score aggressively, the Indian bowlers especially the spinners retained their passion to target them and finally they threw the top batsmen Sangakara and Mathews by their superb bowling skills. India restricted Sri Lanka to 108 for five in their second innings at lunch on the third day of the first Test at Galle.

Jehan Mubarak joined Chandimal as Sri Lanka added another 82 runs for the seventh wicket to give Sri Lanka a realistic chance to stay in the game. In case if India won this match it would be the first time a team chasing a target of 100 plus successfully in the fourth innings at Galle. Sri Lanka with 99 for the loss of three wickets had defeated Pakistan while chasing in the fourth innings in 2014.

Third day of the match proved to be lucky for both Indian and Sri Lankan players individual performances. In India's case, Ajinkya Rahane made a record by taking eight superb catches, he took three wickets in the first innings of this test match. Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal became his victims. And in the 2nd innings Dhammika Prasad, Kumar Sangakkara the most desirable catch indeed for the Indians, Thirimanne, Jehan Mubarak and Rangana Herath were dismissed by some great catching by Rahane . In short India has been stunning in its performance throughout the innings played yet.

 By the end of the third day India was chasing 176 runs to win the first Test match against Sri Lanka, And they were 23 for the loss of only one wicket on the third day at Galle. Shikhar Dhawan was unbeaten on 13 and Ishant Sharma was on five. Although India is inching towards the win steadily day by day but there is a hope for Sri Lanka as well and that hope was rekindled by Dinesh Chandimal, as he put his effort by making a healthy target of 176 against India. Tomorrow will be the most important day for both the teams, Sri Lanka must prepare its bowlers to hit a target cleverly by knowing the weaknesses of the opponent. If Sri Lanka stopped India by not making them above 200 or more, then there will be hopes for them.

Article contributed by: Muhammad Zahid

“I always felt cricket was special, because of its gladiatorial nature. Much as I love the team framework of the game, I also love the one to one, the face-off, the head to head of Dennis Lillee trying to knock my block off, and I used to try and knock Alan Border’s block off and do the same to him.

Ian Botham
I love it that Viv Richards took on the world as if he were fighting for his life in the Coliseum and I love it that any emperor in the history of the Roman Empire would have held his thumb horizontal, waiting till the crowd went quiet, and then slowly raise it skywards to the roar of all the people who came to see Viv play.

If any one man personified all that I believe is good about cricket, it is Viv – strength of body, mind and character, a bright personality, a unique talent, brilliantly applied to a successful career and, best of all, an honorable way of playing the game, respecting it dearly, treating his opponents as he would want to be treated himself.”
- Sir Ian Botham, MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture 2014

Cricket – a multifaceted sport

Cricket is such a multifaceted sport that it gives different people across the globe different reasons to love it.

The "traditional-followers" of the game love cricket for it being a gentleman’s game. The thrill of watching the drama unfold on the fifth day of an engrossing Test is the best adrenaline rush for some fans.The prospect of a win on the dying embers of a fifth-day pitch is one that everyone looks forward to.The vast legacy of the purest format of the game is something that any cricket fan can be proud of.

For kids of my generation growing up in the 90s, it was all about following the One Day International (ODI) version of the game. Running back to home from school to the sight of Sachin Tendulkar on-driving the best bowlers of the world is a quintessential memory for all the kids of my age.
And now with the advent of the T20 format and its box-office success, we get to experience cricket at an express pace. In a manner of speaking, T20 is like the "Theatre of Cricket". It has all the glitz and glam of the game. The pyrotechnics, the loud music, and the cheerleaders have all been incorporated to rope in the audience to live the three-hour thrilling experience of the slam-bang version. T20 cricket seems to be the preferred format by the crowd. It is the format to be introduced in the newer countries to help popularise the game and make it global.

What makes the game unique

With all the above points being made, the reason I find the game of cricket so unique is because of its geographical aspect. For example, a cricket game played at the WACA, Perth, will be so different from the one played at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Even with the same set of players, technicians and coaching staff involved, the venue is such a contributing factor to the outcome of the game.
Every time a cricket team travels overseas, the players have to make many adjustments to their game according to the surface they will be playing on. The vast grounds of Australia, the dustbowls of India, the swinging atmosphere in England, the fast and bouncy pitches of South Africa are some of the examples that spring to mind right away. The ability to adjust to the varying demands is truly the litmus test of any cricketer.
Standardising cricket grounds

One game, one size

However, I still feel that there has to be some set standards for the game. The one I advocate most strongly is standardising the dimensions of cricket grounds. Whether you want to keep the boundary size at 60 meters or 75 meters is, of course, up for debate. It can also be argued that one would want to keep different boundary sizes for the different versions of the game. It has become a common sight to see boundaries being pulled in for a T20 game.

I feel it to be a great disparity when even a mis-hit sails over the ropes for a six on Indian grounds and at the same time a well-timed shot can still result in a fielder gulping the ball with certain ease at the boundary on Australian grounds. Most games have pre-defined fielding standards, and cricket could certainly learn from it.

The sight of batsmen running a four on sub-continental pitches is a rarity. Even 3s are hard to come by on Indian grounds. Sunil Gavaskar has said that the boundary he enjoys the most is the one where the ball travels at an agonizing pace and the fielder doesn't have the option to give up the chase.

This situation can only occur in Australia where even if a fielder manages to keep the ball within the boundary, the batsmen can still run a comfortable four. On sub-continental pitches, the batsmen are even lethargic to run a brisk three; with the shorter grounds, they prefer to conserve their energy for the big hits. The new breed of spinners are afraid to flight the ball and instead prefer to just dart it in fear that even a mistimed one can damage their figures.

It has also become a common sight to see batsmen just looking to play out bowlers from one end and go absolutely berserk on the bowlers from the opposite end because of the shorter/irregular boundary sizes. Mostly, it results in batsmen getting down on one knee and slogging good deliveries for boundaries. This greatly dents a bowler's self-confidence, which, in turn, has an effect on the team too.

Also, standardizing the boundary size is very much under human control. It will bring uniformity to the game. It will enable us to equally appreciate a six, irrespective of the venue. No bowler will be able to get away easily by citing the smaller boundaries as the reason for his bowling figures. It will also give us a common tool to measure the hitting ability of all batsmen.

The nature of the pitch, the speed of the outfields and the weather conditions at the venue are things that either make sense in being unique or impossible to regulate.

Let us hope that this thought reaches the various governing bodies of cricket worldwide, and we could come to a common consensus about standardized cricket ground dimensions.

Article contributed by: Pomil Bachan Proch

Twitter: @PomilProch

Former Pakistan bowler Shoaib Akhtar has blasted the Pakistan Cricket team over their performance in the ICC World Cup 2015 so far. He also took this opportunity to criticize the Pakistani captain Misbah-ul-Haq and called him too selfish and a coward. He also made fun of Misbah’s broken English during his post-match interviews.

Shoaib Akhtar during the debate
According to the 'Rawalpindi Express', Misbah has been too selfish and is only concerned about scoring some 60 runs off 90 balls for himself. He also accused Misbah of fooling the public for the last four years.

Akhtar, who is regarded as one of the fastest bowlers in modern cricket, was a part of a debate on a national television channel Geo News. The debate also included former players Mohammad Yousuf and Azhar Mahmood.

Akhtar also made a statement on present coach Waqar Younis asking him to resign after such performances of the team. Akhtar said that Waqar Younis has been the coach three times and he does not understand why, as he has not been able to give results a single time.

The Pakistani pacer also called Misbah-ul-Haq a coward and Younis Khan an imposter.

He also asked everyone not to compare Misbah with the captain of the 1992 World cup winning side, Imran Khan as there is no match between the two.


WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:




William Porterfield will lead Ireland in the ICC World Cup 2015
Jan 5,2015

Ireland today announced their 15 man squad for the ICC World Cup 2015 to be held in Australia and NEw Zealand.

William Porterfield will lead the team. The team also consists of the 2011 World cup hero Kevin O'Brien, who played a majestic innings of 120 which was the fastest hundred in World cup history. They are joined by former England batsman Ed Joyce, talented spinner George Dockrell and Niall O'Brien.


                                                                      Kevin O'Brien


Ireland Squad : William Porterfield (c),Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase,Alex Cusack,George Dockrell,Ed Joyce,Andrew McBrine,John Mooney,Tim Murtagh,Kevin O’Brien,Niall O’Brien(wk),Paul Stirling,Stuart Thompson,Gary Wilson,Craig Young.

Dec 20, 2014
England have become the first team to announce their 15 member squad for the ICC World cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand in 2015.

Eoin Morgan to Captain England in World Cup 2015 [Image from flickr by ASHISH1987]
The biggest omissions from the squad are that of Test captain Alastair Cook, allrounder Ben Stokes and fast bowler Harry Gurney. Middle order batsman Gary Ballance makes his return to the side after being dropped for the Sri Lanka ODI series.

The bowling becomes more potent with the inclusion of Stuart Broad and James Anderson, both who were injured from their respective knee injuries.

Ben Stokes paid for poor form in recent series vs Sri Lanka [Image taken from Flickr]


Ben Stokes, the only man to come out with some respect from the dreaded Ashes tour in Australia, was not in any sort of form in international cricket, sending down 8 overs for 85 runs in the three matches he played in the recently concluded ODI series against Sri Lanka.

National Selector James Whitaker congratulated all the players who made it to the squad for the World cup and wished them success in the elite competition.

England Squad:
Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Board, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Joe Root, James Taylor, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes

South Africa managed to end close day on an impressive 340/3. South Africa started like a house on fire and set the tone with a maximizing Power play as they rushed to 50/0. As they seemed to gaining further momentum the West Indies managed to pull three wickets back in fifteen balls. Dean Elgar (28), under fire Alviro Petersen (27) and Far du Plessis (0) all fell with the score at 57 with Roach being in inspired form with two brilliant deliveries.



When it seemed the West Indies had kicked on and were about to turn the screw on the Proteas entered the majestic duo of Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers who not just steadied the ship but managed to direct it to an island of paradise. An unbeaten double century partnership, a new record and a display of the strokes in their arsenal all but ended any hope of the West Indies revival. An injury to Kemar Roach (2/52) all but ended any hope of a revival as they lost their best performer with ball in hand. Inexperience and youth brought about the exuberance and energy this West Indies side had but it could not match the experience, calm and class that the Proteas managed to display. In charge and looking set to posting a massive score the underdogs will have a mountain to climb as they look to have an early breakthrough before tea tomorrow. Amla on his first day as Proteas Test captain at home ended on 133 not out, while ODI captain Abraham de Villiers ended on 141 not out.

AB de villiers [Image by Deon Maritz]
What we learnt:

  • Despite a top order collapse the Proteas have a strong batting line up as de Villiers and Amla managed to steady ship. Alviro Petersen is on borrowed time and will look turn his form around in the second Innings or face the axe. 
  • Young and still raw, the West Indies are in a building phase showing glimpses of what they are capable of. This side could reach the heights of the great West Indies sides of the past. How long could Kemar Roach lead their attack? Could he be consistent?
  • The visitors must improve their bowling accuracy significantly or face the punishment. The South Africans look in good form and at this rate could be well over 450 by tea.


Article contributed by: Benedict Chanakira

Twitter: @bchanakira2

The champions will go into the Cricket World Cup with the ability to obliterate any side in the tournament. With a side completely different from the 2011 event, India have only four survivors left in the form of Ravichandran Ashwin, MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina. Never short of talent, India have the perfect balance between bowling attack and their batting department. The side has recovered since the loss of coach Gary Kirsten who led them to World Cup glory.

Virat Kohli posing after winning the Man [Image from flickr by himanisdas]
Over the last four years inconsistent displays, injuries and player form has hampered their continued domination. In 2013 glory at the ICC Champions signaled the return of the Indian team They have found the right balance as they look to be a force in 2015. They go into next years' World Cup as credible contenders and will be wise for opponents to take them serious. Could the Asians win their third World Cup title? Winning the last two major 50-over events highlights their abilities to master knock out cricket. Who will be in the final squad to take on the world? Yuvraj Singh, who beat cancer and was the star of the World Cup (362 runs and 15 wickets) and Gautam Gambhir are among the notable absentees.

India 2015 World Cup probable squad

MS Dhoni (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Robin Uthappa, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Manoj Tiwary, Manish Pandey, Wriddhiman Saha, Sanju Samson, Ravichandran Ashwin, Parvez Rasool, Karan Sharma, Amit Mishra, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma, Bhubaneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Dhawal Kulkarni, Stuart Binny, Mohit Sharma, Ashok Dinda, Kuldeep Yadav, Murali Vijay

Key Players:

MS Dhoni is the heart of the Indian cricket since the retirement of their greatest cricketer of all time. A man of the match performance in the 2011 World Cup, great captaincy, leadership and a hero for the side: A winner and has the ability to win games with the bat or the glove: A beacon in 2011.


Virat Kohli has assumed the Test match captain while MS Dhoni was injured. The role came naturally as the young star could assume the role of captaincy post world cup. The player has just peaked as a batsman in the last seven ODI innings and has an impressive average of 74, mastering two centuries and three half centuries. The thought of his combination with Rohit Sharma (famous 264) could be enough to drive them towards the title.

Article contributed by: Benedict Chanakira

Twitter: @bchanakira2

The most controversial cricket board this year, the English have been riddled with controversy from their Ashes drubbing to their sacking of Kevin Pietersen. Explosive autobiographies, public outbursts, matches lost and friendships broken.

Alastair Cook
England are looking hapless against Sri Lanka and the captain Alastair Cook is showing signs of no confidence. Will he lead the English in Australasia? The English have been beaten comprehensively and will now look to find a formulae that with bring team chemistry and allow the side to be competitive. England have made the Cricket World Cup three times and lost on all occasions. Their displays at the show piece have been poor as finishing sixth in 2007 was their highest since the 1992 event. Can the trend end as poor showings are set to continue? The disharmony and controversies don't help the sides cause for redemption.

Key players:

Joseph Roots is the young Yorkshire bred all rounder I feel can inspire change in this England side. His runs have steadily risen in the last few innings and could serve to be a good omen entering the final phase of the World Cup. England need him to be inspired to avoid another disastrous showing.


Alastair Cook needs to find his form quickly. The captain has been less than inspiring for this side and would be a surprise if he was to retain the captaincy going into the World Cup. Will he be able to discover it? All to be seen as England head into yet another disastrous World Cup.

Article contributed by: Benedict Chanakira

Twitter: @bchanakira2

Australia: The most successful side in the history of the tournament. The Australians were struck with sad news recently as a teammate, brother and friend was to pass on playing the game he loved. Phil Hughes got struck with the ball, and later passed away in hospital; news that shook the world. Now Australia are taking on the Indians in an exciting series.

Australian Cricket Team
The first Test match went down to the wire. David Warner, Michael Clarke and Steve Smith were the chief contributors and the players to watch for Aussie. They are jointly hosting the competition with New Zealand and will look to claim the spoils. On their day the Aussies can be both brilliant and horrible. A game comes to mind, against Zimbabwe a few months ago as the side failed to win that match in the Tri-series in Harare. There is no side more at home than the Australians as they seem to know how to handle the pressure of a global showpiece. They have won it a record four times, but not since 2007 when they completed the famous hat trick tournament.

The new generation is upon us and is well capable of world domination. A comprehensive 4-1 thrashing of the South Africans asserted a mental reminder that they indeed are there to reclaim what they believe was made for them: The Cricket World Cup.

Key players:

Michael Clarke the captain is a key player in this team. His leadership, decisions and attitude have contributed in the turnaround and rebuild process of this side. Australians will hope that the hamstring tear was not the end of what has been a great career.

Steve Smith and David Warner are explosive batsmen who can change the game with their introduction. The two are among the best big hitters in the game and will play a key role should Australia win the World Cup. The all rounder Smith has had the armband thrust upon him after Clarke got injured. We await the World Cup.

Australia are my favorites to win the World Cup.

Article contributed by: Benedict Chanakira

Twitter: @bchanakira2

IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore have released their priced catch of the last IPL auction Yuvraj Singh. He was bought fr a big price of 14 crore rupees.

Yuvraj Singh
In a similar news, Delhi Daredevil have released the second highest pick of the last IPL auction Dinesh Kartik. He was bought at the price of Rs. 12.5 crore.

Kings XI Punjab also released Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Kartik and L.Balaji. They have gained Rs.4.67 crores which they can use in the upcoming IPL 2015 auction.

December 12 was the last date for the IPL franchisees to send their list of players who they wished to release. The date was also the last date for transfers.

Below are the list of players who were transferred from different teams:

Royal Challengers Bangalore acquired Iqbal Abdulla from Rajasthan Royals and Manvinder Bisla from Kolkata Knight Riders.

Mumbai Indians released Michael Hussey and Praveen Kumar. They acquired Unmukt Chand from Rajasthan Royals and R.Vinay Kumar from KKR.

IPL 2016 will be played between April 8 and May 29.

Article contributed by: Jatin Sharma

Twitter: @jatinnsharma

One hundred days before the Cricket World Cup and the preparations are starting to slow down for most countries. The show piece will be held in Australia and New Zealand. The showpiece has been dominated by Australia and this could yet another star for them. We look at the teams, and we start with South Africa: The Proteas, Labeled chokers, world beaters and the inconsistent team.
South Africa:

South African ODI captain AB de Villiers
The Proteas are ranked top of the ICC rankings and have been the most consistent side this year. Unfortunately they suffered an embarrassing 1-4 defeat in Australia and this taught them valuable lessons ahead of the World Cup. Time zones, pitch adaptation will be factors atop their list as they look to prepare for the show piece. They are the best side at adapting in world cricket and they must master the time zone factor which will see them move not just between states but countries. Their best performances have been in the 1992, 1999 and 2007 were they crushed out in the semi-finals stage. The Proteas need to find their mental breakthrough as they always seem to come short. This could be the last chance for several stalwarts in the side to win the tournament. Can they finally break the duck? They play the West Indies and after that it will be the World Cup.

Key performers:

AB de Villiers is the captain of this side, taking over from legend Graeme Smith. The batsman has put in some eye catching, game changing, and game defining moments. The batsman who managed to use the ball recently against Australia, always used to compete with Kumar Sangakkara for the number 1 spot. If South Africa are to win their maiden trophy a consistent display is needed.

Dale Steyn is the best bowler in the world: Aggressive, fast and a weapon of mass destruction. Can the bowler be rattling the bales as the Proteas look to glory? Steyn has the ability to hit a ball as well when desperate times call for a tail end fight. Could this legend further cement his name in Protea fans folklore by winning it for them. At 31, Dale is no more a spring chicken.

Article contributed by: Benedict Chanakira

Twitter: @bchanakira2

Coming into the first test match, many fans rejoiced at the thought of Virat Kohli leading out the team in place of MS Dhoni, who has been heavily criticized over the past few years for his patient captaincy in the test side. However, I, on the other hand, was terrified. I thought that our team's inexperience will definitely be exposed by the captain, and my thoughts were reaffirmed with the team selection. Although there were many positives to this test match, I feel as though ultimately the team selection was the key area where we, the fans, were terribly let down. Here are a few players who deserved to be in the team for this test match:

Naman Ojha

Naman Ojha
Yes, Naman Ojha. You might think that this is a terrible call, however, the facts prove otherwise. Wriddhiman Saha has been on the peripheries of the Indian team for a long while now, however, I feel as though there are many other rising keepers in India who maybe deserve the spot more than him. One of these keepers is definitely Naman Ojha. A prolific spin player, Ojha has a steady temperament as well as the capability to bombard the opposition with muscled sixes. This was something we needed in this match, particularly, as Saha showed how poor his decision making was with that dismissal of his. Being a fan of the SunRisers, I watched Ojha bat throughout the IPL, and what impressed me the most was his ability to read spin and become a nightmare for spinners. In a test match where India were dominated by Nathan Lyon, perhaps this would have been a decision worth making, and a gamble which would have likely paid off. Ojha also impressed in the matches where he featured for India A, however it seems like his efforts have gone unheard to a bullish group of selectors.

Lokesh Rahul

Lokesh Rahul
Perhaps this young Indian was more worthy of a call up than Karn Sharma. Although it would have certainly been very weird to have seen him being picked over Rohit Sharma, I can see why many people were asking for this to happen. [Again] having watched him over the course of the IPL, I can say that he is definitely going to be an important part of the future Indian test side. Many might think that IPL is all about bashing and slogging, however, Rahul was the anchor of the SRH batting line up. Similar to Cheteshwar Pujara, Rahul seemed juxtaposition amongst a slog fest around him. Known for his temperament, Rahul's cool headedness impressed me the most about him, especially considering the world class bowlers he faced, including Mitchell Johnson. His technique is also quite sound, and in many ways he can be seen as someone who just needs a chance to rise up to the occasion. Prior to the IPL, Rahul also had a decent Ranji Trophy season, further justifying his claim for a spot in the team.

Ravindra Jadeja

Ravindra Jadeja
Jadeja was a mainstay under Dhoni's captaincy; however, as soon as Dhoni becomes absent, he is removed from the team. Could it possibly be that only Dhoni is the cricketer who truly understands the importance of Jadeja?! Jadeja's spin impressed me against England, and time and time again Dhoni defended his selection ahead of Ashwin because his accuracy and ability to land the deliveries "on the rough". Now that is something Lyon does very well, and just imagine if India actually chose the cricketer who could have exploited the worn pitch similar to Nathan Lyon. Moreover, Jadeja also brings some batting to the fray, similar to Mitchell Marsh, whose runs proved invaluable in this test match. Hopefully the selectors learn from this mistake, and don't repeat it anytime soon.

Umesh Yadav

Umesh Yadav
An Indian fast bowler who actually has discipline, it boggles my mind as to why Varun Aaron keeps getting selected over Yadav. Yadav can actually swing the ball, and has way more discipline than Aaron. Also, he's a quickie. After watching Aaron's performance, need I say more? It was a bad decision to keep him on the sidelines again as India's bowling department drew blanks once again. Last time he played against Australia, he took 14 wickets in a 4-match series, something I doubt Aaron can pull off now.

Suresh Raina

Suresh Raina
Raina has had a fantastic year: A great IPL, followed by great displays for India's ODI side. A year or so ago, even suggesting that Raina could have a shot in the test side would have been ridiculed. However, it seems like the tables have turned now. With the help of Ganguly, Raina seems to have conquered the short ball, something he was tortured within the IPL and the ODIs in which he had played in. Seeing that Rohit Sharma, also known to be a much better limited overs specialist, could make the team, I think it would be fair to give Raina a chance too. The position at which Sharma batted is Raina's natural, and he would easily slip into the team, as he also offers spin, similar to Sharma.

Players Who Need Serious Improvements

Shikar Dhawan - Outside of home, Dhawan has been so poor it cannot be described. The only thing that is keeping his place in the side is his performances in the long gone Champions Trophy, and his century in New Zealand. I think it is about time Rahane or someone like Rahul got a chance to open, and Vijay got the chance to play with someone he can trust to form a partnership with.

Rohit Sharma - Similar to Dhawan, he is very poor outside the subcontinent. Swing exposes his lazy and careless footwork, and Lyon's spin seemed to have shown his poor decision making too. It is about time he started showing why he even deserves a place in the Test team, and cannot be labelled as a One Day and T20 Specialist.

Article contributed by: Mayank Tiwary

Twitter: @VanPerseing

MS Dhoni [Image from Flickr by: lensmate]
The ICC announced its Test and ODI Teams of the Year on Wednesday, which was chosen by a selection panel chaired by Anil Kumble, the ICC’s Cricket Committee chairman and former India captain.

Here are teams for both  Test and ODI:

ICC Test Team of the Year 2014 (in batting order):

David Warner (Aus)
Kane Williamson (NZ)
Kumar Sangakkara (SL)
AB de Villiers (SA)
Joe Root (Eng)
Angelo Mathews (SL) (captain)
Mitchell Johnson (Aus)
Stuart Broad (Eng)
Dale Steyn (SA)
Rangana Herath (SL)
Tim Southee (NZ)
Ross Taylor (NZ) (12th man)


ICC ODI Team of the Year 2014 (in batting order):

Mohammad Hafeez (Pak)
Quinton de Kock (SA)
Virat Kohli (Ind)
George Bailey (Aus)
AB de Villiers (SA)
MS Dhoni (wicketkeeper) (captain)
Dwayne Bravo (WI)
James Faulkner (Aus)
Dale Steyn (SA)
Mohammad Shami (Ind)
Ajantha Mendis (SL)
Rohit Sharma (Ind) (12th man)

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been selected in the ICC ODI Team of the Year for the eight time and for the seventh year in a row. He was also chosen as the captain of ICC ODI Team of the Year.

Angelo Mathews was chosen as the captain of ICC Test Team of the Year.

They say history repeats itself. Well, it did repeat the 2011 ordeal for India again. Saving the Lord's test win, India lost the 5 test series 1-0 up, loosing the last 3 tests by big margins.

Now India are set to play England in  another 5 ODI series. Last time they lost the series 3-0 to the English. Even in the ODI series then, Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane played a big role along with MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli. But still India lost the series and the lone T20 match.

Now India has a lot to avenge after the humiliating loss in the test series. They would be helped by the return of ODI specialist Suresh Raina, who brings an attacking brand of cricket, electric fielding and a general sense of enthusiasm in the team. Also inclusion of Mohit Sharma will give the tired legs of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar a chance to rest. His tiredness was visible in the final 2 tests of the series.

The famed Indian batting lineup, failed in the final 3 tests of the series but in ODI format, it is a different matter altogether. India are ranked number 2 in the ODI list. Indian team won the Champions trophy last year which was held in England, beating England in the final.

India also defeated Middlesex in the only practice game they got to play. The main stars of the match were Virat Kohli, who scored a century and leg spinner Karn Sharma, who picked up 3 wickets.

It would be interesting to see what lineup Dhoni selects. With the form of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma's problem against swing at high pace as seen in South Africa and New Zealand, Dhoni might want to open with Ajinkya Rahane along with Shikhar Dhawan.

It would also be interesting to see the pace and spin combination he decides to go with. With Mohd.Shami, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron,Dhawal Kulkarni,Mohit Sharma at his disposal and the addition of Karn Sharma, it would be really interesting to see the team combination.
                                                                                                                                                                            


As with England, they have a settled ODI lineup and with the inclusion of the explosive Alex Hales, they are more than ready to take on the Indian team.

The series is sure poised to be a cracker and India is expected to perform more credibly than they did in the test series.

The first ODI will be played in Bristol and live telecast will start at 3.00 pm IST.

Squads:
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin, Stuart Binny, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhawal Kulkarni, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Sanju Samson, Karn Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav.

England: Alastair Cook, (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Eoin Morgan, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes.

India's middle order collapsed twice as England comfortably beat the visitors by an innings and 54 runs, giving the hosts a 2-1 lead in the series with only one match left.

Team India had renewed hope coming into this match, with the selectors making a positive decision to leave out Shikar Dhawan and bringing in the experienced Gautam Gambhir. Ravichandaran Ashwin and Varun Aaron had also been selected, as Mohammed Shami and Rohit Sharma made way.

However, the false sense of security following those decisions did not last long. After winning the toss, captain MS Dhoni strangely decided to have a bat first on a decent bowling track with overcast conditions. As expected, the wrong decision proved very costly, as India were bowled out for merely 152 runs.

In reply, England made 367 runs, and gained a gigantic lead of over 200 runs, giving themselves the initiative in the match. Although spells from Bhuvuneshwar Kumar and Varun Aaron helped India get rid of the middle order top and middle order fairly quickly, once again India were unable to get rid of either Joe Root or Jos Buttler before the damage had been done, as the pair excelled at the crease together, forming a formidable partnership rescuing England as well as ensuring they got a noteworthy lead.

England lost in form seamer Stuart Broad when a Varun Aaron bouncer snuck through his helmet and hit him right in the nose, meaning Cook would have to continue without one of his premier fast bowlers. Keeping this in mind, along with the decent batting conditions, it looked as though India could set a good score in the 3rd innings, but that never happened.

Team India's opening stance was once again a small one, with Murali Vijay getting out to a Chris Woakes delivery. Although Pujara and Gambhir seemed to have weathered the storm after his dismissal, as the two played 91 deliveries combined, both got out on fairly cheap scores. Pujara might have been deemed unlucky to have been given out leg before on a delivery which was definitely missing leg stump, however he once again underestimated Moeen Ali, as did most of the other batsman.

Following the dismissals of Gambhir and Pujara, Kohli and Rahane walked in. Kohli, who had been in a torrid form of late, would have been hoping for a big score as always. Rahane, on the other end, had shown great maturity throughout this series, but his one downfall had been Moeen Ali, who once again dismissed him. Kohli edged to slip off a Jimmy Anderson ball once again, and both bastman were dismissed very quickly. Jadeja was also found guilty of playing a bad shot to a Moeen Ali ball. After that, it was just a matter of time and the Indian batting order were sent back as quickly as they came in.

Now, with a do-or-die situation in their hands, Duncan Fletcher and his coaching staff will need to work very hard to ensure that the middle order does not collapse again. The collapse has been happening throughout the series, but so far innings like Vijay's or Rahane's in the previous tests have covered this up.

Fletcher and the selectors did make some encouraging changes in the side, as the inclusions of Gambhir, Ashwin and Aaron all reaped rewards in some way. Gambhir spent more time on the pitch than Dhawan ever could, Aaron showcased his brilliance and Ashwin shined with the bat, getting scores of 40 and 46* in 2 innings. The team must take the positives from this match, no matter how hard it might be, and move on. With the team needing a win to draw the series in the final clash, Fletcher has a lot of work to do, especially with the middle order (Kohli especially) and the fielding in the slip cordons.

Written by Mayank Tiwary.

Fresh off a valiant victory at Lord's, Team India were favourites coming into the match, as the pressure on England captain Alastair Cook seemed to have reached a new high. Cook, who was in wretched form coming into this match, had been an even worse captain than he had been a batsman in the last couple of months. Dhoni, on the other hand, had proven to be a mastermind in India's win at Lord's, and undoubtedly his confidence was running high.

There was huge pressure on the home side, with the media heavily criticizing their coach, captain and players before the start of the match. There was also, a massive question mark over Cook's future as the English captain, as he had been the biggest scapegoat for the defeat suffered at Lord's. To cause even more disarray in the English dressing room, ex-English international Kevin Pietersen had publicly come out and said, alongside Piers Morgan, that Cook is not the right man to lead the English side. And finally, to put the icing on the cake, experienced wicket keeper Matt Prior, who had a dreadful two matches, suddenly announced that he needed time off from cricket, similar to Jonathan Trott, forcing England to play with the inexperienced Jos Buttler in a make-or-break encounter. It all seemed to be falling apart for England, right in the middle of the series. Surely India would easily capitalize and firmly secure their grips on the series? 

However, things did not go smoothly for India at all in this match. Throughout the course of five days, there was not a single session in which Dhoni could say that his team dominated their opponent. Truth be told, England had managed to outplay India in every department, whether it be bowling, batting or even fielding. But where did it all go wrong for India?
Disappointment: Rohit Sharma failed to grasp the opportunity provided to him

It all went wrong before the match had even started. Firstly, the selectors got it all wrong. Once again, they decided to show blind faith in Shikhar Dhawan, who had nothing to show for the faith that had been placed in him. A long opening stance is very crucial for any team, and with Dhawan opening for India it was ensured that the Indian opening partnership would not last for long. Although he is a good player, his technique becomes his own enemy when playing outside the sub-continent, and so he shouldn't have been playing in this series at all. When a team has other options like the experienced Gambhir or Ajinkya Rahane, it seems ridiculous how the selectors keep insisting on playing Dhawan every match.

Not only did they get the selection of Dhawan wrong, they also surprisingly opted to include Rohit Sharma. At the time, I must admit that the prospect of having an extra batsman seemed the right choice, but pretty soon it became pretty evident that is was definitely the wrong choice. Sharma merely made 34 runs in two innings, and like the rest of the bowlers, did not impress with the ball. The omission of Ravi Ashwin now seems a foolish decision, as he could have made the same amount of runs and also contribute with the bat.

Despite the selection errors, India had a strong team which should have easily been able to challenge the English side. But the most disappointing factor about the performance was the shocking batting. The decision making by the Indian batsmen were absolutely atrocious, as some poked at balls which they shouldn't be messing with, while others got out trying to slog.

The batsmen made Moeen Ali look like a lethal spinner. Hailing from the sub-continent, Indians are known to be excellent players of spin, and so I expected them to make a meal out of the part time off spinner, Moeen Ali. Instead, all of them got too cocky, took him too lightly and paid the price. If you just watch Rohit Sharma's dismissal in the first innings, it will sum up the attitude of the Indian batsman towards Ali's bowling. Alas, India paid the price for not showing Ali any respect, as the player who Sourav Ganguly refused to label as an all-rounder picked up 6 wickets in India's second innings alone.

Along with Ali, a half fit Stuart Broad and James Anderson once again terrorized the Indians. Broad and Anderson put on quite a display of where to pitch the ball during test matches on supposedly a 'flat pitch', something the Indian bowlers could take note of. The pair kept creating chances and kept swinging it past the outside edge, making the fall of wickets inevitable. The tremendous bowling effort by England showed that the pitch was certainly not flat, meaning the Indian bowlers have only themselves to blame for conceding over 500 runs in the first innings.

Furthermore, the little chances that the bowlers did create were dropped. An example would Jadeja's drop at slip in the first innings, after which the English batsmen went on to punish their opposition. The concerning thing about this is that it is becoming a regular habit for Team India at slips now. Gone are the days when Dhoni had the safe hands of Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman next to him at slips, and the dropped chances just give us another reason to remember badly we miss them.

Overall, the display put in by India was dismal to say the least. The opening pair, which might I remind you needs to be changed in the next match, put on another short display, while the middle order once again collapsed. Players like Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli need to step up their games now, and convert their starts into the big scores that India desperately needed. Rahane was once again the lone warrior in the troublesome middle order of India, showing maturity and composure while wickets kept falling at the other end. Dhoni will need to rethink his strategy and have a long discussion with the selectors before the next match, as Ravi Ashwin needs to be given a chance after both Binny and Rohit have failed to grasp the opportunities provided to them. Shami was once again a shadow of the talented bowler he is, while Bhuvi failed to spark some magic with his seam bowling. It was a disastrous debut for Pankaj Singh, and I don't think that he should be retained in the team for the next match, especially with talented bowlers like Ishwar Pandey and Varun Aaron waiting in the horizon.

Article written by Mayank Tiwary. Twitter: @VanPerseing

Kolkata reach finals of IPL 7 after defeating Punjab (The Nation)

Kolkata Knight Riders books a place in IPL 7 final after they defeated Kings XI Punjab by 28 runs in Qualifier 1 at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday.

Robin Uthappa, Umesh Yadav and Morne Morkel get most of the credit for their spectacular performances as 2012 champions won comfortably by a big margin.

Defending 164 on a slow surface that remained under cover for three days, Yadav (3 for 13) and Morkel (2 for 23) shared five wickets between them, while Piyush Chawla also bowled smartly to restrict Punjab to 135 for 8 in 20 overs and hand KKR a record eighth victory on the trot.

Virender Sehwag was the first man to fall for KXIP as his crips shot found Shakib at point. Vohra and Wriddhiman Saha then scored some quick runs and kept up with the par score according to the Duckworth-Lewis (D/L) method. But KKR bounced back to dismiss Vohra when Morkel had the opener in the next over to make the D/L equation in the home team's favour.

Cricket Legend, master blaster Sachin Tendulkar showed his support for struggling Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh on Facebook after people were heavily criticizing the left hander's performance during the World Cup T20 finals against Sri Lanka.

Sachin Tendulkar backs Yuvraj Singh on Facebook after social media outburst against Yuvraj

Yuvraj Singh scored just 11 off 21 balls, that too during the final overs of the Indian innings.

Sachin also mentioned about Yuvraj's heroics during the T20 World Cup 2007 and ODI World Cup 2011.

Sachin's post on Facebook

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