Lament of a sport fan

The nightmare becomes a reality. It was expected though.  Last week, FIFA officially expanded its marquee event, the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams.  More the merrier!

While last year, the ICC (International Cricket Council) contracted its World Cup format. Thus, essentially making it difficult for the Associate Members’ teams to be part of the tournament.

FIFA expanding, ICC contracting. Neither warranted. But that would be for another article.

It is bad times to be a fan of sport. Irrespective of which sport or sports one follows.  It is all about money, sponsorships, broadcast rights, and all about those with vested interest and agendas.

Welcome to the world of Sport. Or rather the world of Sport Cash-cow. It is all about business, you moronic sport fan.

Who cares about a sport fan. They will whinge, crib, throw few curses on social media and then get on with what is presented…oops with life.

Take a look at the world of sport. Take a look at the sporting bodies. Any sport. Any sport organizing body.  They all seem to be following a similar pattern.  Especially those sporting bodies who generate a lot of revenue through broadcasting rights, those who are able to attract a lot of sponsors.

Couple of years back, Ed Cumming wrote this in the Daily Telegraph*:

“Fifa and the IOC will never be properly managed, because fans don’t really care. If England win the Qatar World Cup, nobody will give two hoots whether the tournament was built on slave labour and bungs. Even the possibility of winning will be enough to sweep ethical concerns aside as the tournament draws near, while anything short will be treated, as usual, as a national catastrophe.”

But, wait a minute, does a sport fan have any say where FIFA World Cup or Olympics are held? Do they have a vote in the say?  No, absolutely not. It could take place on Venus or Mars, for all we care, if enough money could be thrown around.  

A sport fan does not have a say, does not have a voice.  I know about cricket stadiums with substandard facilities that are deemed fine for those ordinary fans. They’ll flock the stadium, they’ll cheer their team full of superstars. Nobody would give a damn about these ordinary folks: the struggle to reach the venue and then put up with substandard facilities.

And when they are in the stadium, the match could be delayed even in perfect weather conditions and with perfect knowledge of rain in the forecast.  Remember Florida 2016?Don’t bother to inform those in the stadium about the delay. The match starts after a 40 minute delay, the rain arrives as predicted in the forecast, match abandoned, no result. Two match series decided on the result of one match.  

Ah, and the reason of the delay? Unavoidable and technical problems suffered by the broadcasters. Never mind those live souls sitting and waiting patiently in the stadium.  

Everything is decided by how it fits the broadcasters. A match between India and Pakistan women’s cricket teams in 2016 World Cup T20 was hastily wrapped up and result decided in Pakistan women’s team favor. The reason for the rush? Another big match was about to start – the India versus Pakistan, this time the men’s teams facing each other in the group stages of the 2016 T20 World Cup. (Side note: That India and Pakistan have been playing each other regularly in the last few World Tournaments is not accidental – the draws are allegedly “fixed” – all for the benefit of the fans (and of course, all the additional revenue generated by hyping this already over-hyped rivalry.)

Then there are these issues of doping, cheating, match-fixing etc.  For example, the ongoing Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics doping scandal. The results tested in the labs in Russia. All mess. The doping test results from 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics are shedding new light (or dark light should we say?). Some athletes, who, we as sport fans cheered on the podium with the glittering medals around their necks, it seems were not clean. It is just not fair. Not to their fellow athletes and not to the  fans, both in the stadium and those millions watching on TV. They cheated and now we feel cheated. They robbed us and our genuine appreciation of their efforts now feel wasted.

Allow doping, allow cheating. Allow widespread use of TUEs (Therapeutic Use Exemptions)*. Lenient punishments. Allowing athletes to return to their respective sports. What is the deterrent then? The athletes says this to themselves, “We will carry on like this, and reap the rewards. If we are caught, will pay some fine, serve the suspension and then we will be back. Simple.   

(*Here is the link to more on it: https://www.wada-ama.org/en/what-we-do/science-medical/therapeutic-use-exemptions)

What policies are in place to deal with these issues? That we are still dealing with 2008 doping test results make me believe something is seriously wrong here. But, nah, as sport fans we do not have the right to question it.  It is all about winning, it all about sponsors and broadcasters and it all about that important, “face” of the sport.

In short, who cares about ordinary sport fans? Sport fans do not care enough for all those who lost their lives in constructing those stadiums working in extreme heat, dangerous conditions and living in deplorable residential quarters. But who awarded the event to take place in that location in the first place?

Sport fans were not consulted on that. Repeating what I wrote earlier. Sport fans do not have a voice on the choice of location. (Of course, the bidding cities would show the support of its citizens, if that is attributed as voice of the sport fans).

Sport fans do not have a say which countries/cities would have the facilities to test the results of doping.  They do not have a say how these labs functions.

Sport fans do not decide on the format of the tournament including the number of participating teams. They do not decide on group draws, which could also be manipulated.

But yet, all this is done in the name of sport fans. Larger tournament, shorter tournament, traditional rivalries, more development and growth of the game to make it truly global.

And we all know to read between the lines. Or the hidden message behind such rhetorics.

Adding to our woes, we also live in the world of fake news. Deal with media that claims to be impartial but is more often than not biased, and somehow always-have-an-agenda. So while we are presented ‘facts’, it is not necessary we would the know the whole story behind those facts.

RIP Sport Fans.  Long live the World of Sport Business!

*http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/10713932/Damned-if-they-do-and-damned-if-they-dont-no-wonder-sports-associations-are-so-badly-run.html

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Women’s T20 World Cup

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Was it a good idea to host the Women’s T20WC along with the men’s? From the response it got, yes. To begin with, logistically it made sense. Plus, definitely it did give the exposure the women’s game has been lacking. Though the crowd did not show up in great numbers, though the TV viewership may not have garnered the huge viewership, and though it still was not in the front on cricket pages/web pages, it still did manage to have regular updates.

There was far more buzz in the media about the women’s matches and women’s cricketers profiles, interviews and backstories started doing rounds on cricket websites. And of course, it did help that the official social media sites for most of the countries provided updates for both their men’s and women’s teams.  

And finally, not taking anything away from Australia or any other teams, it did help that West Indies women won the title. It was a double delight because their men’s team also lifted the title. Again the exposure that it got only helped put the women cricketers on the cricketing map. That they are here to stay.    

Apart from the exposure, the most important thing was that the women put on some great cricket. There were some closely fought matches, mainly involving Charlotte Edward led England team, which made for good viewing on TV. With the success of women in the Big Bash League and now the launch of Kia Super League in England, women’s cricket is up and rising. Encouraging signs for IPL and CPL to follow suit next year?  

Hopefully in the next few years, women’s game would get its own viewership and then it may be possible to organize women’s World Cup separately. The only reason it was not a good idea to have it joint with the men’s, was because of course, the men did overshadow the women.  Maybe the comparison with men’s game would have made it less appealing.  Because, unlike tennis or soccer, women’s game still has to find its footing in cricket.

People are talking about how the boundaries are brought in, the lack of sixes in women’s matches, making it less attractive on excitement quotient. Addressing the latter point, we did see some big sixes from players like Ellyse Perry and Haley Mathews. However, time has to be given to women’s cricketers to further develop their hitting powers. The T20 leagues like WBBL, Kia Super League is going to help them hone their six hitting powers. The audacious hitting we see in the men’s game is a result of T20 cricket and the various leagues across the globe which is now a regular fixture for almost a decade now.

Let’s give the girls the time and they’ll also demonstrate their six hitting powers.

Moments from the tournament

  1. Last over wins: England women perfected the art of winning matches in the last over, in fact they won one match on the last ball – against the West Indies women who of course, went on to lift the title.  Sadly this match was not on the TV.  
  2. Wake up call: Southern Stars versus White Ferns. This was a much anticipated match for the women’s tournament. However, it turned out to be one-sided affair.  White Ferns steamrolled Southern Stars and went on to win the match in the 17 over by 6 wickets.  
  3. Tour of India: Full credit to the White Ferns who were made to travel for 12 hours, a day before their match against Southern Stars. Even though they were tired and exhausted, they did not complain, kept posting pics on social media sites and no,we did not see any grumpy faces. In fact, captain Suzie Bates mentioned in her post-match interview that the girls looked at the funny side of it.  No wonder, this attitude did help them win the match comfortably.
  4. No home advantage: India women did not set the tournament on fire. Apart from that huge win against Bangladesh, they lost to Pakistan on D/L method and then lost to England in a closely fought match.They were ultimately beaten comprehensively by title winner West Indies. The team was inconsistent and found it difficult to adapt even on home conditions.
  5. Young star: Hayley Mathews. All of 18. A World Champion. She powered her way to 66 off 45 balls with 6 fours and 3 huge sixes. Basically her opening partnership of 120 with skipper Stafanie Taylor helped West Indies women chase down the total with ease.  And she was the senior partner in that partnership as far as run making was concerned. She was unfazed by the situation, the opposition (reigning World champion Australia gunning for their fourth straight title) or the pressure of the chase.  Power of youth. Power of playing without any fear.  However, it would be interesting to see how her career shapes from hereon.  
  6. The still shining star: Who else but Charlotte Edwards. The England skipper has been around for almost 2 decades now and still does not show any signs of slowing down. Carry on Charlotte, you still have a lot to offer to the game.  
  7. Speed breaker: The White Ferns were on a roll in the group stage. They had a comfortable run in the tournament beating all the teams in a comprehensive manner. Knockout stage. One game. And they are knocked out. By West Indies. It was a closely fought match but New Zealand women hit the speed breaker and were thrown out of the tournament.  

T20 WC 2016 Finals Super 10

 

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West Indies Day!  

Southern Stars march halted

England washed away in shower of 6s

All the pre-tournament talks of favorites or not favorites not does not matter. Not on the day of the finals. While Southern Stars were definitely on the list of favorites, their opponents were not. And definitely the two teams in the men’s finals were not on anybody’s list. In fact, in subcontinental conditions, only one team from the subcontinent reached the knockout stages and that too rather unconvincingly.  

While I didn’t get the opportunity to watch the women’s finals live, I did catch up the highlights. Wish the time difference was not there. Or else would have got to watch the whole match live.  

  • Australia or Southern Stars entered the finals as defending champions. In fact, they had three T20 world titles in a row under their belt. They were going for the fourth title.  
  • West Indies women though had other plans.  
  • Southern Stars had one poor match against NZ’s White Ferns at Nagpur and West Indies women had lost a closely fought game against Charlotte Edwards’ England, losing on the last ball at Dharamsala.  
  • So both teams were going into the finals with overall good performance and form of their players.  
  • Meg Lanning won the toss and elected to bat.  Lanning and Elyse Villani both scored half centuries, in fact identical scores of 52 a piece.
  • Then Ellyse Perry played a cameo innings of 28 hitting two sixes. One was a huge hit of almost 78 meters.  
  • While Lanning and Villani were at the crease, it definitely looked as if the score would be around 160 plus.
  • However, West Indies women pulled back beautifully and the last over by Deandra Dottin yielded only 1 run. Oh, Ben Stokes would have so loved to have bowled this type of over.
  • A score of 149 would have looked a bit daunting considering the scores that we saw so far in the tournament. But West Indies women had other plans.
  • They were on a mission to win their maiden title.  
  • The opening partnership between captain Stafanie Taylor and teenager Haley Mathews got them to a flying start. They put on a 120 run together in 15.4 overs.
  • This partnership more or less sealed the title for West Indies women.  
  • They did lose couple of quick wickets, with both Mathews and Taylor back in the dugout but by then the damage was already done.  
  • Mathews in particular was in a brutal mood. She hit six fours and three sixes in her knock of 66 off 45 balls. And her sixes were huge. One was 82 meters and it landed in the stands.  Just give the girls some time and we will get to see the sixes landing in the stands more often.  
  • Could the Southern Stars have done something differently? They were good in the field, they mostly are. But against the rampaging West Indies attack there was not much their bowlers could have done.  
  • Lanning did accept the fact that they were about 15-20 runs short.  
  • While the Southern Stars were batting the stands were almost empty barring few supporters around. But when the West Indies women were in their chase, people started trickling in.  It did seem as if this people would have walked in early for the men’s finals later in the evening at the same venue.  Whatever it was, it definitely was nice to see more people in the stands, the cheers were a welcome sign. Hopefully, they would have enjoyed what they saw and would come to cheer for the girls in the future.  
  • It was amazing to see the WI’s men’s team come out and celebrate with their women’s counterpart even though they had to play the all important final within couple of hours.  
  • Nobody expected England and West Indies to be in the finals. But here they were.
  • Nobody expected the crowd to turn out because India was not in the finals. But they were there. In a large number.
  • Even though West Indies had more supporters in the crowd, the neutral crowd still was cheering the fours and sixes by English batsmen. They were enjoying and appreciating the batsmanship of Joe Root.  
  • England got off to a nervy start to their innings once they were put into bat by Darren Sammy. They lost Jason Roy on the 2nd ball of the match and quickly lost two more wickets.
  • Jos Buttler and Root started the rebuilding and their partnership gave England some respectable total to defend.
  • And they did defend well. Throughout the 2nd innings. Till that fateful last over. The over that snatched the title away from them.
  • Last over. 19 runs. Most of the time the fielding team would back itself to defend that.
  • But Carlos Brathwaite had other plans. He kept it simple. There was no need to keep the calculator out to count the balls and number of runs.  
  • First three balls he faced went for maximum.  6, 6, 6. 18 runs in 3 balls. Scores leveled. Even if WI does not get a single run in the last three balls we would have got the first super over of the tournament.  
  • But Brathwaite again kept it simple.  Last ball also went for maximum. West Indies once again lift the T20 WC trophy after that win in 2012 in Sri Lanka.  
  • The celebrations that followed were unbelievable or rather more than believable. Throughout the tournament we saw the team celebrating wickets and team wins with the Champion dance.  And this win was no different.  
  • Champion dance by world champions! And this time the women’s team joined them. 
  • It was West Indies day at Eden Gardens!
  • And of course, the great Curtly Ambrose reminded everyone about the three titles in West Indies kitty – under-19, and then senior women’s and men’s title win.
  • Finally the West Indies captain got a chance to speak his mind. Like those Associate team captains who passionately pleaded for more games, Sammy spoke for his players, put forward their views. He had every right to voice his concerns on this platform. After all the players had performed irrespective of all the off field issues..  
  • Player of the match, Marlon Samuels too had few things to say – he did take a dig at Shane Warne and later at Ben Stokes.
  • It appeared that all the pent up feelings the team had, all the negative press that was thrown at them, they let their performance speak. WI men’s team clearly enjoy this format of the game, it suits their style of play and they have embraced it with open arms. And most importantly they are producing the required results.   
  • It was a joy to see them celebrate, their celebrations are infectious. Except not a big fan of that ‘shirt removal’ celebrations.  
  • The DJ did pull out some old numbers. The one I managed to catch was Oye, Oye, Oye, Owa!
  • What was good about the presentation was, the presentation party was small. Well, small compared to what we usually get to see in the subcontinent. Where many egos have to be pampered from politicians, to other public figures and any other folks with self importance. So thus we had medals for match officials, medals for two teams, and three other trophies: player of the match, player of the tournament (Virat Kohli, absent) and the winners’ trophy.   
  • And thus ended the tournament.  With many a reputation build and many shattered. With hopes for the future and with dreams shattered.  With opportunities created and opportunities missed.  
  • See you again in four years time. Yes, now T20 WC is going to be held every four years, just like the 50-overs WC.

T20 WC 2016 Semifinals Super 10

 

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Double delight for West Indies

Double dejection for New Zealand

England women falter, England men fly

Australia women in the finals to defend their title

India no-balled!

Out of the eight teams for the semifinals for both women and men, only Australia (women) and India (men) did not have their respective counterparts. Because for other teams, i.e., England, New Zealand and West Indies both their men and women teams were in the knock round. Couldn’t really catch up on much of the semifinals action (such a pity). Saw a bit of England-Australia women’s semifinal, a bit of England-New Zealand men’s semifinal and a bit of India-West Indies men’s semifinal.

  • New Zealand, on India ‘darshan’ (tour) and adapting so well to the conditions, faltered in Delhi.
  • On the other hand, England hardly toured compared to any other team in the tournament.  
  • The played only at two venues, Mumbai and Delhi. And as luck would have it, they also played their semifinal match at the same venue. It was their third straight match at Kotla.
  • Advantage England? For sure. Not only that they knew the conditions very well, but that they had enough rest too because they were not hopping airports and hotels.  
  • No, this is not to take away anything from the way they played.
  • Jason Roy was again New Zealand’s nemesis just like in that warm-up match in Mumbai.  
  • After being in charge for the first 10 overs of the match, New Zealand lost the plot completely. And they never recovered.
  • England came out to chase with a sense of purpose. And they achieved the target quite comfortably.  
  • In hindsight, either captain Kane Williamson or Colin Munro should have carried on for New Zealand to have that additional 20-25 runs that they fell short of.  
  • Was that shot by Williamson against Moin Ali on considering it was Ali’s first over? 
  • Black Caps would be disappointed with the result having performed so well in the tournament.
  • But then England was just too good. In fact, any score that NZ would have set for them, England would have achieved it, taking into consideration their strong batting line up.  They have stroke-makers who can also steer the innings if needed, prime example being, Joe Root.  
  • Australia women would have thought they were about 10-15 runs short at break time against England women. On the other hand, England women would have thought that the target was within their reach.
  • At the end of the match, Australia was not short and England were unable to chase down the target.  
  • Till Sarah Taylor was at the crease, England would have felt that they were still in the game.
  • However, there came a moment, I like to call it, Sarah Taylor’s Mike Gatting moment (Remember 1987 World Cup finals, Australia versus England, Mike Gatting played that reverse sweep and got out?)
  • Australia women fielded very well to defend the total.
  • Didn’t get a chance to catch on any action between the White Ferns and West Indies women.  
  • Suzie Bates’ and her team would be pretty disappointed with today’s result, considering just like their counterparts, the Black Caps, how well they played throughout the tournament, including enduring a 12 hour, 5 stop journey from Mohali to Nagpur and still turning up next day to beat Australia women comprehensively.  
  • West Indies women after that last ball victory against India women have been playing some quality cricket and no wonder they have reached their maiden World Cup finals. It is going to be an interesting battle between the Southern Stars and West Indies women in Kolkata.
  • And then onto the last semifinal between host India and West Indies at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.
  • So far in the tournament we saw some high scoring games at Wankhede and teams were able to chase down whatever total was set because the dew factor came into play in almost all the matches.
  • Thus, it was no brainer that the captain winning the toss was going to bowl first. And that is exactly what West Indian captain Darren Sammy did. Half the battle won by winning the toss.  
  • India rung in couple of changes, one forced, well, the other too forced one. In place of injured Yuvraj Singh, Manish Pandey came in while in place of out-of-form Shikhar Dhawan, local boy Ajinkya Rahane came in.  
  • For the first time in the tournament India got to bat on a decent surface and they made most of it. Though still it was a sedate start.  
  • Throughout the Indian innings boundaries were hard to come by.
  • Though the Indians did give a good example of running between the wickets.
  • Except for that moment when Kohli could have been run-out, twice (seems like the only way he could be dismissed in his present form) when he had scored only 1.  Both keeper Denesh Ramdin and bowler Dwayne Bravo missed the target by a whisker.
  • Kohli made the most of this life. And from hereon his calling and running between the wicket first with Rahane and then with captain MS Dhoni was a fine example.
  • So even though boundaries were hard to come by, India still managed to reach 192.  
  • They were short by 10-15 runs. But on this wicket, the team chasing the total would have even chased down that additional 10-15 runs.
  • Another person who got two and half lives was Lendl Simmons. And he was just flown in as a replacement.  
  • If jet lag, time difference were factors, his innings didn’t reflect that.  
  • He was caught off a no-ball when on 19 (R Ashwin, the bowler, Jasprit Bumrah the catcher) and second time off a Hardik Panday no-ball (caught by Ashwin).
  • India no-balled!
  • And then the other chance was a catch at the boundary by Kohli who lobbed the ball back to Ravindra Jadeja to catch. However, Kohli was in contact with the rope and it was declared a six.
  • Oh yes, free hit after the no-ball by Ashwin did not cost any extra runs, but one by Pandya did go for a huge six.
  • Well, all the sixes that were hit were huge. In fact one six was so big that even umpire Richard Kettleborough was seen to be enjoying it and was in awe by that big hit.
  • Losing the toss, few runs short batting first, wickets of no-balls, not once but twice, the factor of dew, it was not India’s night. They had to take the chances that were offered to them and they messed up.  
  • India’ unconvincing campaign finally came to end today. They managed to reach the knockout stage scratching their way through some tough matches.
  • India started its journey with a six – Martin Guptill hitting Ashwin for a straight six down the ground to start the tournament, and then Andre Russell hit Kohli for a six to seal the match for the West Indies and end India’s journey.  
  • They were pre-tournament favorites, with Indian fans expecting them to win by just turning up.
  • They were woken up from their reverie on that Nagpur pitch, the tournament opener by that side nobody quite fancied, New Zealand.  
  • Take a moment to spare a thought for Kohli. He was brought on to bowl and he broke the partnership between Simmons and Johnson Charles off the first ball.  Tonight he could do no wrong except see his side through (he was brought to bowl the last over the innings as well).
  • But India really had very little chance to defend the total in the last over.
  • Mumbai, the city that is home to Hindi film industry, hence it was no surprise to see some film stars amongst the set of VIPs.   

T20 WC 2016 Day 21 Super 10

 

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South Africa versus Sri Lanka – Double dose; dissimilar results

It was the last day of first round of Super 10 with two teams from the same countries in action today. Both South Africa and Sri Lanka men and women’s teams, already knocked out of the WC, were involved in matches that meant nothing. A win would only soothe the egos more than anything else.  

  • The women were in action earlier in the day in Bengaluru.   
  • Sri Lanka women won the toss and elected to bat.
  • Captain Chamari Atapattu led from the front with bat and ball.  She scored 52 of 49 with 5 fours and 1 six.
  • Atapattu’s six was a huge hit. The ball cleared the rope and almost landed in the stands.
  • After Atapattu’s run-out, Sri Lankan innings lost a bit of momentum and they ended up with 114 in 20 overs.
  • It did look that that they were about 10-15 runs short, especially the way South Africa women started their chase.  
  • South Africa openers, Dane van Niekerk and Trisha Chetty put on the opening wicket partnership of 50 before van Niekerk was run-out on 24. In her knock, van Niekerk hit one mighty six that went for about 74 meters.
  • This started the slide, with two more wickets falling very quickly, from 50 for no loss, South Africa women were reduced to 52/3.  
  • After this they Sri Lanka women tightened the noose and South Africa women could never come back in the match.  
  • Lizelle Lee provided some fireworks towards the end of the South African innings but that was not enough.
  • For all those who question the hitting power of women, today’s match was worth watching. True, the hits may not be as regular or as big, but they were good enough to land in the stands. And with more women’s cricket, I’m sure this aspect too will change over a period of time.    
  • South Africa women ended with 104 in 20 overs, losing the match by 10 runs.
  • Both teams would have welcomed this opportunity to play some cricket and surely would want to play more to further improve and develop their game.  
  • Just like Associate Nations, women cricket too needs more matches, more exposure for the good of the game.  
  • Next up, the men’s team from the same nations were in action in Delhi in the evening.
  • There was a sizeable crowd for this ‘dead’ match.
  • But then they were there only for one man, AB de Villiers.  
  • Throughout the match, there were chants of ABD, ABD, ABD, with banners and placards with his photos.  
  • It is amazing how popular he is in India.  
  • Both teams made some changes to their XIs, some necessitated by injuries, for example, Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews sitting out with hamstring injury.
  • South Africa won the toss and elected to field.  
  • Sri Lanka led by Dinesh Chandimal, who opened the innings with Tilakratne Dilshan, went on to put a good opening partnership of 45.
  • But once Chandimal got out, the procession started.  
  • Sri Lanka managed to score only 120 and were bowled out in 19.3 overs!
  • South Africa started their chase with in-form batsman Quinton de Kock scoring back-to-back boundaries.
  • But then, wait, what happened? Oh, the same thing as in the last match against West Indies.  
  • It seems de Kock and his opening partner, Hashim Amla have lost each other’s contact numbers.  Someone please go and make sure that both have each other’s numbers. So that they can call! Before they run!  If in the last match it was Hashim who got out, in this match it was Quinton’s turn.
  • After this, it was a steady effort from both Amla and captain Faf du Plessis.
  • But umpire S.Ravi was in a mood to indulge the crowd who had come to see ABD. So what does he do?
  • He gives Faf out, lbw, when there is a huge inside edge from his bat onto his pads. Bowler (Suranga Lakmal) and keeper (Chandimal) go up in unison. And lo and behold, up goes the umpire’s finger! Lakmal was looking up towards the sky, as Shaun Pollock mentioned on air, thanking his lucky stars.  
  • S Ravi, you are going to get minus 10 in the captain’s report for this match!
  • Unfortunately crowd does not get to mark you – or else you would have been compensated with 110 marks! Simply because your decision brought in ABD.
  • The man they had come to watch. Though the target was small and Amla and Faf had steered the ship to safety, ABD still gave the crowd something to cheer about.
  • AB hit two sixes, the second one was match winning stroke.
  • Crowd got to see, even if little, of what they had turn up for in a relatively large number for this dead rubber match.
  • Both teams go back home earlier than they would have liked to, especially South Africa. They came to the tournament just behind India as tournament favorites. And now they return home not only empty handed but also not being able to reach the knock out stage.  
  • One of the sights that has been sort of heartbreaking to watch has been the decline of Dale Steyn. He clearly is not 100%.  
  • What I’ll miss: Mohammad Shehzad, the entertainer, Steve Smith’s expressive/animated face and Quinton de Kock’s zen like face.
  • On to the knockout stage now!

T20 WC 2016 Day 20 Super 10

 

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Afghanistan versus West Indies – Afghanistan on the points table

Australia versus India – Virat swaroop darshanam!

Women’s

India versus West Indies – West Indies in the semis, India knocked out

England versus Pakistan – England’s dominant show

It was busy Sunday at cricket with four matches across the country.  All semifinalists for both men’s and women’s teams are now decided. Could not watch live action of Afghanistan-West Indies match however did catch up on most action of the match between Australia-India. Again missed out on catching action of the women’s matches, though did follow India-West Indies match online.  

  • Not sure how seriously West Indies took this last group stage match against Afghanistan after having already qualified for the semifinals.
  • No, this is not to take away anything from Afghanistan.
  • We all know throughout the tournament they have played exceptionally well. That fearless brand of cricket, which is required in this short format.
  • In a world where opinions are almost divided on everything, there is one opinion where surprisingly we find the cricketing community in agreement. That the Associate Nations need more exposure, more matches and the cricketing world need to show more inclusivity.  
  • This is what is going to benefit Afghanistan and other Associate nations. Making them play another round of qualifying matches was one of the biggest blunders.  
  • Coming back to the match, West Indies won the toss and elected to field.
  • On this Nagpur track which as we have seen throughout the tournament low scores have been a norm.  
  • Afghanistan scored 123 and they were able to defend this score with the help of its spinners.
  • 17-year old leg spinner Rashid Khan once again showcased his skills to the world.  
  • It was fun to watch both teams play as they both have some good entertainers in their teams.  
  • Mohammad Shehzad, Afghanistan keeper and opening batsman was in his elements showing off his dance moves, notably the “Champion” song moves learned from the West Indian players. Even Rashid Khan celebrated one of his wickets with this move. 
  • And yes, Ramiz Raja, it is Mohammad Shehzad and Ahmed Shehzad as you repeated on air.  Okay, slip of the tongue, happens. We know you are a big fan of selfie king, Ahmed Shehzad!
  • It was nice to see Chris Gayle joined the victory celebrations of the Afghanistan team posing for photos at the end of the match.
  • Andre Fletcher retired hurt (ankle injury) and came back later on in the West Indies innings but his movements were still restricted. Hope he recovers before the semifinals against India on March 31.
  • Loved the Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai’s way of trying to catch the attention of his fielders – the good old whistle with the fingers!
  • Australia-India, the almost quarterfinals at Mohali was a high tension match with a full house, comprising of course with supporters of one team. No marks for guessing!
  • Australia got off to a flying start with Powerplay overs fetching 59 runs for one wicket.
  • But once they lost Usman Khawaja, the rate of scoring slowed down which was also a result of losing wickets at regular intervals.
  • Australia ended up with 160, the score that saw a sudden jump in the last two balls of the 20th over,  a four and six by keeper Peter Neville.  
  • India in comparison had a more sedate start with both openers back in the dug out in the Powerplay.    
  • At one point India was struggling at 49/3. And then it was literally struggling with Yuvraj Singh’s injured ankle.
  • He was hobbling around on one leg, unable to run fast between the wickets and convert ones into twos.  All pressure was on Virat Kohli, who remarkably stayed calm throughout.  
  • Australia did India a big favor when Shane Watson caught Singh brilliantly – a one handed diving catch.  
  • Watson, in what turned out to be the last match of his career in Australian colors, had a fantastic match with the ball taking two wickets for 23 in four overs.
  • However, this match was all about one man, Virat Kohli. In the last few hours, a lot has been said and written about his match winning innings. And lot more would be written in years to come. In those times of reflections, one would always recall and recollect this innings most fondly. 
  • He deserves all the accolades coming his way now and even in the history of the game.
  • It was a master class. This innings should be used as a guide for each and every cricketer in art of chasing. Of course, not everyone can follow this to the ‘T’, simply because one also need to have that cricketing talent. But for sure, this has to be the blue print of chase in a high pressure situation.  
  • Coming soon, The Art of Chasing – By Virat Kohli! (And yes, it is about chasing in cricket!)

Book Cover

  • Regarding Singh’s decision to stay put, was it really wise? Was he thinking about the team? India did manage to chase down the total thanks to Kohli, but I wonder what would have happened had India lost this match?
  • So when are the others in the team going to stand up and contribute? Oh, he is only one innings away from being back in form, form is temporary, class is permanent etc, etc. But if that one innings comes once in a blue moon, what is the use of it?
  • The Indian women’s team was also in the stands cheering the men in blue. Earlier in the day they lost of West Indies women at the same venue and are knocked out.
  • They had to win this match to stay in contention (outside chance) to qualify for the semis. But West Indies women were too good for the Indian women.
  • West Indies women were able to defend a score of 114 with all-round performance from Deandra Dottin who scored 45 and took 3 wickets.  
  • West Indies women take on the White Ferns on March 31, in the second semifinals.
  • Meanwhile, England women defeated Pakistan women comprehensively in Chennai.  
  • Charlotte Edwards, England’s captain won the toss and elected to bat. She led the team from the front scoring unbeaten 77 of 61 balls with 10 fours.  England women scored 148 in 20 overs.
  • The total proved too big for Pakistan women who folded for 80 in 17.5 overs.
  • With this loss, Pakistan women too bowed out of the tournament.   

On another note, why is everyone so grudging the success of New Zealand? No, they don’t have the passionate fans of the subcontinent who raid every possible social media sites with their outpouring of emotions/comments; No, they don’t have the powerful setup of Australian or English cricket; No, they don’t have the entertainment quotient of the West Indies cricket; No, they don’t have the star power of South African cricket.  

Everyone is belittling what they have achieved so far in the tournament.  And they are being pulled down.

Law of averages would catch up with New Zealand. They have peaked too early in the tournament. They have some psychic powers to read the conditions. They don’t really have the stars like Joe Root, Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle etc.

For once, can we please acknowledge, applaud and show some respect for what they have achieved in the tournament? Yes, it is all about winning. And they have not yet won the title, but nor have the other teams. So can we please judge them after the tournament but at the same time appreciate their performance so far?

T20 WC 2016 Day 17 Super 10

 

2016_ICC_World_Twenty20_logoWomen’s Day at the WC today!

Australia versus Sri Lanka – Australia come back strongly 

Bangladesh versus Pakistan – Pakistan sail through 

England versus West Indies – Delight for one, dejection for the other

WC T20 celebrated women’s day today! There were three matches out of which two were telecasted live on TV while one missed out. Caught up with the live action on and off for the other two matches.

  • So let’s start with the one that was not on TV. And no, let’s not go in the direction of why three matches on one day, why one was not on TV etc.,. Would they have done the same with any of the men’s matches? Nah.  But be happy with what you have. Or rather what you are given. In alms. Literally.  
  • The England-West Indies match at Dharamsala was the action replay of the men’s match between Bangladesh-India at Bengaluru yesterday. And this was the one that was not telecasted.  Oh boy!
  • One match that would have taken the interest in women’s game a notch up. Would have given the much needed boost to the women’s game.
  • This match from the reports and the live tweets one could gather had all the ingredients to help generate more interest in women cricket.
  • While the match was the action replay, the result was not.
  • England women were chasing and they managed to hold their nerve to score that one run to win the match. The ball had gone to the keeper Merissa Aguilleira, who took aim at the stumps and missed it.  
  • Two back-to-back close matches for the English girls and they came out winners in both encounters.
  • Two ways to look at these close wins for England.  The positive way: they are able to handle pressure better, they hold their nerves in tight situations and emerge victorious. The not so positive way: why do they find themselves in such situations in the first place? Especially when they are cruising smoothly why do they allow to let things get out of hand?
  • Must be tough for the West Indies women to take this loss. Hope they’ll emerge stronger from this experience.  
  • Two matches were played at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, with the first one between Australia and Sri Lanka.
  • The Southern Stars stunned by their heavy defeat against the White Ferns were looking to put that defeat behind them.
  • Sri Lanka women won the toss and elected to bat. They did have a good second wicket partnership of 75 between captain Chamari Atapattu and wicketkeeper Dilani Mandodara after losing the first wicket on zero.  
  • Unfortunately, Sri Lanka women were not able to capitalize on this partnership as the Australian bowlers fought back well to keep the score at 123 for 8 at the end of 20 overs.  
  • Birthday girl, Alyssa Healy had a good outing with two stumpings and an intent making score of 12 that set the tone for the Australian chase.  
  • Australia women led by captain Meg Lanning (56*) and Elyse Villani (53*) achieved the target in the 18th over, a second wicket partnership of 98*.
  • Sri Lanka women after sliding down in the second part of their first innings, slipped further in the field. Their overall fielding was disappointing.  While batting they were not able to convert the ones into twos which the Australian batters were able to do comfortably.
  • The cameras captured some beautiful surroundings of the city with kites flying in sky. Wonder if in northern part of India they fly kites during this time of the year? And that too on the day India was celebrating ‘Holi’, the festival of colors? In western India, January is usually the time of kite flying with the Makar Sankrant or Uttarayan celebrated as kite flying day on 14th January.  
  • Yes, there were few spectators, some in fact visitors from one of the women’s cricket clubs in Australia all drenched in colors sitting in the stands cheering for their team, along with the family members of some of Australian women cricketers.  Always nice to have family supporting from the stands.
  • Next match was between Bangladesh and Pakistan. This too was one sided match where again the team chasing won. The winning margin too was the same – Pakistan women batting second won by 9 wickets.  
  • Bangladesh women scored 113 batting first, their innings marred by some poor running between the wickets with four run-outs. Yes, credit too should be given to Pakistan’s fielders.  
  • These run-outs meant Bangladesh women’s innings never got the momentum.  
  • Just like Australia, Pakistan too lost their first wicket quite early, this time at the score of 15.
  • But after that it was the second wicket unbeaten partnership between Sidra Ameen (53*) and Bismah Maroof (43*) that saw Pakistan home in the 17th over.
  • This allowed Pakistan’s net runrate to improve and could come into play later.
  • Well, for a change we did have an interpreter for the Player of the Match award for Sidra. However, she decided not to use the interpreter.
  • Both groups are still wide open though both Bangladesh and Ireland are knocked out.
  • Wish the England-West Indies match was played on some other day.