Monday, 26 March 2007

Bangladesh in, and India Out

The group stages of the Cricket World Cup 2007 are all done now. And what weekend it has been again for the this tournament.

On Friday Sri Lanka defeated India. Sri Lanka out into bat first lost early wickets for little runs. And it started to look like a disaster. But Upul Tharanga made a good knock and the lower middle, and lower order put together some partnerships to post a respectable score of 254/6 (50 overs). The Indian innings fell short by 69 runs as Sri Lanka took all their wickets in 43.3 overs.

The interesting point to observe here is how and who accumulated the runs for Sri Lanka. Only around 35% of the runs were scored through boundaries (22 fours, and 1 six). The vast majority of the remainder were by running between the wicket - over 60%. It is a widely talked about point about Sri Lanka is that if Sanath Jayasuria doesn't fire at the top then the rest of the team struggle a bit. Certainly if 3 out of the first 4 in the line up fail to do much its going to be a problem. And this is for most cricket teams around the world. So then to see Chamara Silva and Thillakaratne Dhilshan stay in and score 59 and 38 respectively, and Russel Arnold and Chaminda Vass see the rest of the overs through was very very encouraging. Chamara Silva's form and consistency batting at number 5 carrying through out the tournament is going to be one of the keys to Sri Lanka winning tight matches.

By now India were virtually out. Indian hopes were pinned on the unlikely scenario of Bermuda beating Bangladesh. There have been a couple shakeups already so it wasn't as silly as it sounds. However, as expected Bangladesh beat Bermuda yesterday. I wouldn't say it was a convincing win or a walk in the park. But to be fair there were 4 or 5 interruptions due to rain and the match was reduced to 21 overs.

The most exciting game this weekend had to be Australia Vs. South Africa. It was all about the batting. Australia batting first scored an incredible 377/6. In the process Matthew Hayden broke Ricky Ponting's record for the fastest 100 at a World Cup by getting there in 66 balls. There were 40 fours and 11 six that help get to 377. Australia are looking consistent and brutal as always. It's going to take clever cricket to get past them.

Friday, 23 March 2007

What are these cricket commentators on?!

Since this Cricket World Cup start I've been following most of the matches and more so reading and listening to what the commentators have been saying. There have been 2 things I've noticed so far.

First, some or most have been saying the same thing about the bigger teams during their respective matches. So yesterday on sky they were going on about how Sri Lanka were well balances bla bla sure to get to the semi finals etc. They are the best team consisting of the best batting lineup and bowling attack. Then today they say pretty much the same about New Zealand. I'm sure I've heard this about at least one of the other teams (Australia or South Africa if not both). Fair enough this may have been different people saying these things on these occasions but it's the same people sitting at home watching and listening to this. It gets boring and devalues all the comment.

The second point is some articles written and comment on TV saying things like convincing win or emphatic win when a big gun has just beat a minnow is fine if this is truly the case. Here are some examples of matches so far where I believe this type of comment is fit.

Pak Vs Zim: Pakistan won by 93 runs (D/L method). Pakistan 349 (49.5 ov); Zimbabwe 99 (19.1/20 ov)

SL Vs. Berm: Sri Lanka won by 243 runs. Sri Lanka 321/6 (50 ov); Bermuda 78 (24.4 ov)

SL Vs. Ban: Sri Lanka won by 198 runs (D/L method). Sri Lanka 318/4 (50 ov); Bangladesh 112 (37/46 ov)

Ind Vs. Berm: India won by 257 runs. India 413/5 (50 ov); Bermuda 156 (43.1 ov)

Aus Vs. Neth: Australia won by 229 runs. Australia 358/5 (50 ov); Netherlands 129 (26.5 ov)

Note how these have all been won buy a margin of 200ish runs or more, the oppositions not scoring more than 150 runs and finished off way before the allocated 50 overs. As opposed to the following which have not been won with such a large margin or overs to spare. And the main point here is that the opposition are a minnow team (apart from Bangladesh).

NZ Vs Can: New Zealand won by 114 runs. New Zealand 363/5 (50 ov); Canada 249 (49.2 ov)

Eng Vs. Can: England won by 51 runs. England 279/6 (50 ov); Canada 228/7 (50 ov)

How can somebody justify saying that the above 2 matches were convincing wins and that End and NZ looked good out there when they have allowed a team like Canada to pretty much see through the 50 overs and score 200+. In my book it does not matter how many runs NZ and Eng scored here and what the margin is letting a minnow score 200+ is just not good.

The following paragraph which is referring to Tendulkar says this very nicely.

He must not think of the delectable half-century he made in the last match
against Bermuda. "Has the day come when we're seriously talking about Sachin
batting well against Bermuda?" one intelligent former Indian cricketer responded
when it was mentioned in passing that the little man looked sharp in the last
match. "When an elephant stamps on a fly, do we say 'well done, that's a great

I wish some of these sites didn't keep changing the headings of stories otherwise I would put some evidence up.

scores from CricInfo.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Who's the Amateur now: Ireland Vs. Pakistan

What a day it was yesterday for the cricketing world. First India loosing to Bangladesh unexpected but reminds everybody that Bangladesh are not to be taken for granted. But then there was the Ireland Vs. Pakistan, what a shocker. Now this match was supposed to be a give, a formality, a walk in the park for Pakistan. The 1992 World Cup Champions and currently 4th in the ICC ODI Rankings loosing against a team that doesn't even qualify to be ranked and made is up of a bunch of part-time cricketers is just shameful. Further, loosing this match means they are out of the World Cup. This has never ever happened in a Cricket World Cup before.

One may say Pakistan were having an off day and the luck of the Irish was in full flavour on St Patrick's day but Ireland must have done somethings right and well. In my opinion they deserved this win over Pakistan more than the draw against Zimbabwe. They did a much better job and you could see that they had learned and improved from the experience of the previous match by fielding tighter and batting with more patients. If Pakistan the ranked professionals with cricketing heritage could not adapt and control this situation unfortunately back on a plane home it is.

I believe it was after the 1996 World Cup where Pakistan lost to India in the quarter finals that Wasim Akram received death threats and his house in Lahore was stoned - India of course going through to the semi finals and loosing to Sri Lanka whom went on to be crowned champions. There is potential for scenes a lot worse than that when the player land back home in Pakistan, but I hope it is not the case. May be the Paskistan team should just hang around the Caribbean for a few more weeks.

Pakistan out of World Cup after Ireland loss
ICC World Cup Scorecard - 9th Match, Group D, Ireland v Pakistan

Saturday, 17 March 2007

So its Bangladesh Vs India in a Bit

This should be and interesting match. For some weird reason i've been looking forward to this match more than the one Sri Lanka played the other day. OK there was the England Vs New Zealand match yesterday but that did not deliver the excitement that was predicted and England lost - boo hoo.

I don't know why i have had this liking (rating) of Bangladesh recently. Usually Beyond Sri Lanka, England and some of the world class players like Brian Lara I can't be asked. May be it is because Bangladesh now is like Sri Lanka back in the early 90's (in a cricketing sense ofcourse). I do think they are the true underdogs of the 2007 Cricket World Cup. I'll be secretly backing them in todays match. Let's see what I think afterwards.

Post Game:

Well well well.. what a game. So its all good, my gutt came true. The amazing thing about Bangladesh's win is how they batted. The patients and control they displayed when required was just mind blowing. They played shots, some very entertaining shots, when it was there but then just slowed down when required. This is a quality I believe a lot of the top teams (other top teams) lack under these conditions. So it might be Sri Lanka and Bangladesh going through. Lets see what the week brings.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Sri Lanka Vs Bermuda

Sri Lanka won against Bermuda by 243 runs which is the second highest margin of defeat at a Cricket World cup. So at least according to the final figure we one with ease which is no surprise to anybody and was expected. However I don't think the way we played was convincing enough. For starters Upul Tharanga and Sanath Jayasuriya should not have got out for less than 50 a piece. Moving on neither Kumar Sangakkara or Mahel Jayawardene should have got out for before their 100s. Even allowing this Chamara Silva and Thilakaratne Dhilshan should have seen the remaining overs through. But no there were further wicket loses. This would be all OK (actually a very good score card and play) if we were playing one of the other teams in the top 8. But we weren't, we were playing Bermuda who are not even on the radar for the big teams. It is positive to see Mahela get a good knock in - has he managed to break back into form ?! And its great to see Chamara play solid till the end. I'm hoping Sri Lanka were playing with the same attitude as we do in the streets or beach back in Sri Lanka - although they say they were taking it seriously, yeah right.

Now some of the things I say above may seem like I'm putting down Bermuda (and the rest of the minnows) but I'm not. Bermuda put some serious effort in and some of the catches they took were pretty impressive. The fact is that most of the ICC ranking teams play cricket full-time, have been playing cricket for a lot lot longer, have a lot more experienced and talented players, and have a lot more resources in terms of money, time, training, personnel etc. The minnows themselves would be the first to admit that they are not expected to win a match against a ranking team and hope to win if they happen to play exceptionally well, get all the lucky breaks and the oppositions have a seriously bad day. But I don't think this gives anybody the right to put them down and talk about them like dirt or say that these minnow teams don't have a place in the World Cup. Let's remember that everybody has to start somewhere and not all the countries that hold a ranking started as such. In the early days of the World Cup I'm sure Sri Lanka were looked at similar to how Bermuda are looked at today. In fact not until we one the World Cup in 1996 were we really taken seriously. Today's minnows could be tomorrows number one. I glad some of our players have not forgotten this.

"Personally, I think it is good for more teams to be involved, but as a team it is not for us to question whether or not the smaller developing nations should be playing. Our job is to concentrate on our cricket." - Kumar Sangakkara

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Cricket World Cup 2007

So the cricket world cup has officially opened. I'm really looking forward to this one. Sri Lanka are looking the strongest and the most balanced since 1996. If Lanka can't win it this time it's going to be a while before we are in a position like this. It is unlikely that the talents of Jayasuriya, Murali and Vaas will be about next time around.

One thing we all know and love about cricket is the unpredictability - anything can go down. The underdog can jump up and bite when you least expect it. New Zealand have already lost to Bangladesh in their warm up match. I feel Bangladesh are the next team to give the top countries a serious run for their money. Let hope it's not at Sri Lanka's expense.