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Main Hoon Na, says Raina

May 3rd, 2010 by Riteish Deshmukh No comments »

http://im.rediff.com/cricket/2010/may/03raina.jpg‘Main Hoon Na’….that is what Suresh Raina might have been telling his team after scoring a match-winning century.
 
He set the IPL alight and now Suresh Raina made the world notice of his batting prowess with a sparkling century against South Africa in the Twenty20 World Cup.
 
The left-hander made 101 from 60 balls to power India to a comfortable 14-run victory for their second victory in a row in the tournament.
 
As expected, Raina was peppered with a few short deliveries at the start of his innings by the South African pacer. But he showed great application and slowly repaired the Indian innings after a couple of early wickets.
 
Once the foundation had been laid, he set about taking the bowling apart in the final overs.
 
Rory Kleinveldt was hit for three boundaries in a row followed by a six in his final over by Raina. The youngster then sent Albie Morkel into the stands over midwicket for another maximum to bring up his century, the first by an Indian in Twenty20 Internationals.
 
Raina’s assault saw India hammer 75 runs in the final five overs to post an imposing 186 for five in their 20 overs.
 
South Africa’s task was always going to be difficult but they didn’t help their cause with some mindless batting against the Indian spinners.
 
India used as many as four spinners and South Africa were struggling to find the boundaries against the slow bowlers. Jacques Kallis hit a steady half-century before unleashing a barrage of sixes, but by then it was too late and India were firmly in control of the match.
 
Fresh from their exploits in their IPL and after two crushing victories in a row, the Team India certainly starts as the favourites for the Twenty20 World Cup.
 

Its Sachin v/s Dhoni in IPL 3 final!

April 23rd, 2010 by Riteish Deshmukh No comments »

http://im.rediff.com/cricket/2010/apr/22slide6.jpgThe clash of two titans looms ahead, in the final of the IPL, on Sunday.
Sachin Tendulkar is the best cricketer the world has seen, while Indian cricket has scaled to new height under Mahendra Singh Dhoni's astute leadership.

It is hard to differentiate between the two teams as both registered similar victories in their semi-finals.

Tendulkar's Mumbai Indians outplayed Royal Challengers Bangalore by 35 runs in the first semi-final on Wednesday, while Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings registered a comprehensive 38-run victory over Deccan Chargers in the second semis, on Thursday.

But Tendulkar's availability is a big question after he injured his right hand, while attempting to take a catch against Bangalore. He split his webbing and had to get five stitches and his availability is a big question mark as of now.

He has scored over 500 runs in the tournament and his absence would reduce Mumbai's chances by half. But then it would not be fair to expect him to play with such an injury, which would not even allow him to hold the bat with his right hand, let alone play shots.

Big-hitter Kieron Pollard also seemed to be struggling with hamstring during that semis and it remains to be seen whether he make it to the playing eleven for the title clash.

With the pitches getting slower with every game, Chennai must be happy that their spinners are peaking at the right moment. R Ashwin has proved to be deadly, bowling with the new ball, while Muttiah Muralitharan showed glimpses of his magical form in the semi-final match.

Overall, it may turn out to be a battle between Mumbai's aggressive batting line-up and Chennai's gritty bowling attack.

But Mumbai have come up trumps against every challenge thrown at them in this tournament and there is no reason why they cannot get over this one final obstacle.

Let's us all pray that Mumbai's biggest Khiladi Tendulkar can recover in time and take the field on Sunday for cricket has never seen a bigger match winner than him.

Go Sachin Go!!

Mumbai’s Bhais ready for Royal Challenge

April 20th, 2010 by Riteish Deshmukh No comments »

So, finally the league matches in the Indian Premier League are over and we now head down to the business end of the tournament.

Kolkata Knight Riders ended their campaign with a consolation nine-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians, who fielded a nearly second-string side.

It was an obvious calls for the league leaders wanted to prevent their top stars from picking up an injury ahead of their semi-final match against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

On the other hand, Kolkata must be ruing having lost a place in the semis only because of the run rate after four teams were locked at 14 points each.

Mumbai will no doubt start as the favourites against Bangalore, who managed to make it to the final four in the last round.

Mumbai also boast of the tournament’s top run scorer in Sachin Tendulkar, while Bangalore’s Jacques Kallis is second, the South African has not been able to lift the tempo in the recent few matches.

Mumbai’s bowling is also far superior and more than varied than Bangalore. Mumbai boast of three genuine match winning bowlers in Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Lasith Malinga. On the other hand, Bangalore’s reliant would be on Anil Kumble and pace ace Dale Steyn.

Also playing into Mumbai’s hands is that the matches would be played in front of their home fans at the DY Patil stadium, giving them that extra edge.

So far, Mumbai has looked the superior of all teams in the league and are certainly the top favourites for the title. But they must be careful, for Bangalore has already beaten them at home this season.

Except for a miracle, I can’t see how the Bangalore boys can get the better of the Bhais from Mumbai!

Dhoni Dhamaal takes Chennai to semis

April 19th, 2010 by Riteish Deshmukh 2 comments »

http://im.rediff.com/cricket/2010/apr/18slide1.jpgWhat a Super Sunday it turned out to be!

Who would have guessed the two teams who were written off around a week or so could bounce back in style and say “Picture abhi baki hai Mere Doston” to the other teams.

And that is exactly what happened as Chennai Super Kings and Deccan Chargers outclassed their opponents to make it to the semi-finals of the Indian Premier League.

And well there is some good news for the Mumbai fans, with the two semi-finals being shifted to the DY Patil stadium and I am quite sure they will both be HOUSEFUL, sounds similar to a movie releasing in two weeks :)

First, it was Mahendra Singh Dhoni at his belligerent best as he single-handedly took Chennai Super Kings into the semi-finals with a cracking knock of 54 from 29 balls.

With 44 needed from the last three overs, many tipped Kings XI Punjab as the winner, but then Dhoni showed his class and his batting prowess.

He ended it in some style by smashing Irfan Pathan for two sixes in a row to take his team home with just two deliveries to spare as the visitors chased down a mammoth 194 for victory.

In the second match of the day, Deccan Chargers got the better of Delhi Daredevils by 11 runs to progress to the last four.

Andrew Symonds turned out to be the saviour with a blazing 54 from 30 balls in an otherwise disappointing batting performance by the defending champions.

But the Deccan bowlers once again turned up the heat, helped by a brilliant display of catching from Rohit Sharma, who took three brilliant catches to account for the three of the first four wickets to fall.

Pragyan Ojha may have been ignored by the Indian selectors for the World Twenty20 tournament but he continues to make them rue their decision. He took two for 16 in his four overs to take his tournament tally to 20 wickets and set up Deccan’s 11-run victory after they were defending a modest 145.

Amazingly, Deccan won five matches in a row to progress to the semis, but Delhi slipped in the latter part of the tournament, winning just one of their last five games.

Mumbai Indians play Kolkata Knight Riders in their last match and unless the Sourav Ganguly can spring a miracle and beat Mumbai by a record margin they can’t stop Royal Challengers Bangalore from making it to the last four.

Gambhir gets down to serious business

April 16th, 2010 by Riteish Deshmukh 1 comment »

http://im.rediff.com/cricket/2010/apr/15gambhir.jpgWell, the Indian Premier League has been in the news lately for the wrong reasons, but the excitement on the field transcends everything else.
 
It was another thrilling encounter in Chennai on Thursday when Delhi Daredevils held their nerves to register an important six-wicket victory over Chennai Super Kings.
 
It was Gautam Gambhir who returned back to much needed form to guide his team home with an unbeaten century in a low-scoring match.
 
Captain Gambhir showed great composure on a pitch offering a great deal of help to the spinners to score 57 not out. Mithun Manhas showed his knowledge of Indian conditions as he gave his skipper good support for 25 from 32 balls.
 
The desperation in Gambhir’s eyes was clear as he toiled hard in the middle overs by running a lot of singles. The weather was quite cruel on the players as the weather exceeded 40 degrees celcius coupled with a high percentage of humidity, but Gambhir never flustered.
 
Electing to bat first, Chennai’s top batsmen failed as the hosts finished on a paltry 112 for nine in their 20 overs.
 
Ashish Nehra did the most of the damage as he took three for 26, while part-time off-spinner Virender Sehwag claimed two for 18.
 
But Delhi’s top order once again let their down.
 
David Warner and Virender Sehwag fell to reckless shots, while Tillakaratne Dilshan was beaten by Doug Bollinger and was bowled.
 
And if not for Gambhir’s half-century, Chennai could have well romped home to a win after that fantastic start with the ball.
 
Delhi have now taken a step closer to the semi-finals, while Chennai’s hopes received a blow.
 
Mumbai have already made it to the last four, but the hunt for the other three semi-finals still goes on. With just six league matches left, it is still not clear who would make it to the last four, but every team is in with a chance.
 

Kings having a party time!!!

April 10th, 2010 by Riteish Deshmukh 5 comments »

http://im.rediff.com/cricket/2010/apr/09kumar.jpgAs Preity Zinta rightly said at the end, “We are not here to spoil anyone’s party, we are here to have our own party!”

And Kings XI Punjab certainly had a party time as they outclassed Mumbai Indians by six wickets to finish off their home campaign with a morale boosting victory.

It was encouraging to see Preity back her team to the hilt despite a series of losses and it seems some of her energy has rubbed off on the team.

It was a fearless and a confident Punjab that took on Mumbai in their final match at their home ground in Mohali.

Piyush Chawla did the star turn with the ball for Punjab as he claimed three for 23, including the big wicket of Sachin Tendulkar, who was bowled for 29. Irfan Pathan showed glimpses that he might regaining his form with the ball during his vital spell of three for 29 in four overs.

Mumbai Indians never got going throughout their innings and finished on 154 for nine in their 20 overs.

With the ball, Mumbai were hoping for a few early wickets, but it was Punjab who steamed away with a rollicking start.

Mahela Jayawardene started off with a barrage of boundaries against the pacers, hitting 31 from 18 balls, to give his team a flying start. Adrian Barath also chipped with a vital knock of 33 from 27 balls to put Punjab in charge after the good start.

Sangakkara ensured that the innings never lost momentum in the middle overs as he hit boundaries at regular intervals. The Punjab captain made it a point to target Mumbai’s best bowlers as he went after Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh.

Despite Yuvraj Singh looking off colour during his 15 from 21 balls before being dismissed by Kieron Pollard, Sangakkara never let Mumbai make a comeback.

He made 56 from 42 balls, with the help of six boundaries and a six, but towards the end he lost his wicket. He chipped compatriot Lasith Malinga straight to Shikhar Dhawan and was naturally quite annoyed at himself to be dismissed close to the end.

Irfan Pathan saw his team home as he hit 15 runs, including the match winning boundary.

Mumbai’s loss has once again thrown the IPL wide open with as many seven teams, except for Punjab, in contention for the semi-finals!!

Sourav’s Dadagiri knocks out Delhi

April 8th, 2010 by Riteish Deshmukh No comments »

http://im.rediff.com/cricket/2010/apr/07ganguly.jpgYou can knock him down, but you can’t knock him out.

That seems to apply so perfectly for Sourav Ganguly in the Indian Premier League this season.

After a patchy performance last year, Ganguly has answered his critics in style, not only as the batsman but also as the captain.

And once again, Ganguly’s leadership skills came to the fore to follow up on a valuable half-century (56 from 46 balls) with the bat helping Kolkata Knight Riders stun fancied Delhi Daredevils by 14 runs.

Kolkata have now won five out of their ten matches and are firmly in contention for a semi-final berth.

Having posted 181 for three in their 20 overs, Kolkata knew they had a tough task with the ball against Delhi’s power packed batting order comprising of David Warner, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.

But Ganguly marshalled his troops really well and made some effective bowling changes which never really let the Delhi batsmen settle down.

Infact, he turned the match while on the field when he produced a direct hit to run out Gambhir, who made 47 from 29 balls.

Sehwag threatened briefly with his 64 from 40 balls but once again Ajit Agarkar shattered his stumps, Kolkata had an easy task against the lower order.

One is sure that wherever Shah Rukh Khan is today, he surely might be humming ‘Karbo Ladbo Jeetbo Re’

In the first match of the day, it was Michael Lumb, who smashed 83 from 43 balls to power Rajasthan Royals to a crushing nine-wicket victory over Kings XI Punjab with five overs to spare.

Rajasthan’s seamers showed great discipline to restrict Punjab to 153 for six in their 20 overs with Siddharth Trivedi taking two for 22 in four overs.

With the bat, once Lumb started to attack, there was no stopping Rajasthan.

Lumb’s opening partnership with Naman Ojha saw Rajasthan race to 109 within ten overs before the former was caught on the square leg off Ravi Bopara.

Rajasthan have proved to be unbeatable at the Sawai Mansingh stadium where they have won eight out of eight games. They are joint second in the points table with 12 points from 11 games and are one of the favourites to make it to the last four.

A Royal show by the Sheikh of Tweak

April 6th, 2010 by Riteish Deshmukh 5 comments »

http://im.rediff.com/cricket/2010/apr/05slide9.jpgIt seems the real Shane Warne has finally stood up!!!
 
Warne, also known as the Sheikh of Tweak, seems to have finally found his golden touch. The Rajasthan Royals captain bowled a brilliant spell, claiming four for 21, to lead his team to a narrow two-run victory over Deccan Chargers in a thrilling finish.
 
One of the best spinners to have graced the game, Warne was back in his elements and the Deccan lower order capitulated against his genius. After an indifferent start to the IPL, the maestro seemed to have found his range with his line and length and it was not surprising when he had a slip and a fielder at silly point during the closing stages of this tight encounter.
 
Shane Watson hit his second half-century in a row (58 from 36 balls) before Rajasthan self-destructed at the end. The visitors lost their last six wickets for a mere 29 runs in the space of 27 deliveries to be bowled out for 159 with RP Singh grabbing three for 17 in his comeback.
 
The Deccan Chargers also struggled with the bat and except for Rohit Sharma’s composed innings of 73 from 44 balls, the rest of the batsmen threw away their wickets with reckless shots.
 
Among them the few, who looked to survive, were outdone by Warne’s genius with the ball.
 
But Deccan have only themselves to blame for his defeat. With six needed off the last over with three wickets in hand including that of Rohit, the match was firmly in their grasp.
 
Siddharth Trivedi showed nerves of steel as he bowled a splendid last over, taking two wickets, while Harmeet Singh was run out.
 
Rohit’s inexperience showed up when he chipped one straight to the fielder on the cover boundary to end Deccan’s challenge.
 
As the age old adage in cricket goes, “Form is temporary, class is permanent” and how true it stands for Warne tonight.
 

Jai Ho Jayawardene!

April 5th, 2010 by Riteish Deshmukh 6 comments »

http://im.rediff.com/cricket/2010/apr/04slide8.jpgJai Ho Jayawardene! The Kings XI Punjab were singing out loud at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, on Sunday.

After all, it was Mahela Jayawardene’s splendid century that ended the losing streak of Kings XI Punjab as they registered a convincing eight-wicket victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders.

It was only destiny that Jayawardene played in the match. He was not a part of the final eleven till minutes before the start of the match but as luck would have it regular opener Shaun Marsh injured his back during the warm-up and the Sri Lankan was drafted in his place.

And as he himself revealed at the end of the match, he asked the captain and coach at the innings that he wanted to open the innings and his braveheart approach certainly worked wonders.

Chris Gayle’s blistering 42-ball 88 had taken the hosts to 200 for three in their 20 overs, the highest total posted in the IPL at the Eden Gardens.

However, Punjab, reeling with just one victory from eight games, didn’t lose heart.

Set a huge 201 for victory, Punjab, riding on Jayawardene’s cracking innings of 110 from 59 balls, chased down Kolkata’s huge score with ten balls to spare.

It was Jaywardene at his fluent best as he found gaps at will to score boundaries at regular intervals and the Punjab innings appeared to be a cruise at times.

Jayawardene also became the second Sri Lankan after Sanath Jayasuriya to score a century in the Indian Premier League and also second centurion for Kings XI Punjab team after Shaun Marsh.

In the second match of the day, it was Paul Collingwood, who stole the limelight with a match-winning half-century for Delhi Daredevils.

Collingwood’s power-packed 75 from 46 balls and three wicket hauls from Pradeep Sangwan and Amit Mishra helped Delhi Daredevils script an impressive 37-run win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Collingwood played sensibly in the middle overs before cutting loose in the end to take Delhi to 184 for five in their 20 overs.

Bangalore never got off the blocks and despite Jacques Kallis’s fifth half-century of the tournament, they slumped to a 37-run victory.

The victory saw Delhi jump to second in the table, while Bangalore slipped a place to third.

Balle Balle Bangalore

April 3rd, 2010 by Riteish Deshmukh 6 comments »

http://im.rediff.com/cricket/2010/apr/02slide1.jpgIt has been a strange tournament for Kings XI Punjab, one where nothing has gone right for them.

The bowlers and fielders had a horrible outing and failed to hold their nerves when it really mattered. One’s heart goes out to Preity for the way she has backed her team after every loss, but their losing never seems to cease. They have now lost seven out of their eight matches and are nearly out of the running for a place in the semi-finals and we are over halfway in the tournament.

 

What is even more disappointing that Punjab lost even after posting a mammoth 181 for five in their 20 overs. But this time their sloppy fielding was also to blame as they dropped as many as four catches at the stage when the match was evenly poised.

 

Royal Challengers Bangalore rode on Kevin Pietersen’s maiden half-century, who hit 66 from 44 deliveries, with the help of seven boundaries and a six, for a convincing six-wicket victory.

 

Virat Kohli made an important contribution of 42 from 26 balls, but the most important and perhaps the match-turning innings came from Robin Uthappa.

 

Punjab were still in the hunt with Bangalore needing to score 48 from the last four overs. But Uthappa changed the script as he hit Brett Lee for two big sixes and a boundary for 25 runs in the 16th over to turn the match in Bangalore’s favour.

 

The only positive for Punjab was the return to form for their two top batsmen. Kumar Sangakkara stroked a quick 45 from 27 balls, while Yuvraj Singh hit a couple of big sixes in his 20-ball 36.

 

So it was Bangalore who did the Balle Balle, while Punjab keep going Thalle Thalle
 

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