Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The 8 Best English Bowlers of the Last 30 Years

Jimmy Anderson’s amazing bowling at Lord’s saw him smash through previous records by taking four wickets. With this outstanding performance in mind, let’s take a minute to look back at eight of the best bowlers in English cricket over recent years:

Darren Gough

He may never have won the Ashes, but Gough was one of the best bowlers around. As a fast bowler he developed his own unique technique that was often described as ‘skiddy’, but it allowed him to have a late spin on the ball which gave him a huge bowling advantage. In the Ashes alone, Gough claimed 74 wickets and took a total of 229 wickets in his test match career.

Steve Harmison

During the 2003-2004 West Indies tour, Harmy was the highest wicket-taker and continued this success to the 2005 Ashes where his fast bowling helped to secure the victory for England. Part of Harmy’s success was his ability to deliver a bounce from any pitch, largely thanks to his 6’4” stature, while throwing them out at speeds over 90mph.

Andrew Caddick

Despite being born in New Zealand, Caddy, was one of the best English bowlers that has ever been. He was renowned for taking 13 five-wicket hauls in test matches and taking over 230 wickets in his test match career. One of the things that set Caddy apart from the rest was his dedication to Somerset County Cricket Club, where he stayed for his entire career.

Robert Croft

Welsh and proud, Crofty hedged his bets and played for England in international matches and he made a massive impact in doing so. He regularly received the title of player of the year and was even awarded the Weatherall Award for being the leading all-rounder in English first-class games. However, it was his bowling that made him stand out from the rest when he took his 1,000 first-class wickets in 2007.

Ian Botham

Often claiming his centuries, Botham was instrumental in England’s Ashes wins, but it was his outstanding bowling that claimed five for one in 28 balls at Edgbaston that landed him a place in this list. Beefy took 148 Ashes wickets in total thanks to his fast and loose bowling that saw many a batman swing a tad late and go out on an LBW or wickets.

Devon Malcolm

During the 90s, Malcom was probably the only true fast bowler that England had in their arsenal. Despite being one of the fastest bowlers to have ever graced the pitch, Malcom’s short falls in poor catching and short-sighted plays meant that he was often chosen as number eleven. He may not have taken the most wickets or been the best batsman, but Malcom could bowl like no one’s business!

[Image: Cricket Country]

Graeme Swann

Famed for his right-arm off break bowling style, Swanny was one of the best spinners to ever grace the field. In 2009, Swann made history by becoming the first English spinner to take 50 wickets in a single calendar year. A year later, he cemented himself in the list of best English bowlers firmly when he managed to take 10 wickets in a single match.

Stuart Broad

Still regularly playing test match cricket, The Enforcer has already got 238 wickets under his belt and plenty of life left in his arms to see this number grow. Broad has achieved an amazing number 3 in the ICC player rankings and has won Man of the Series awards in 2009 and 2011. In addition to this, he’s already claimed 11 five wicket hauls, two 10 wickets and even two test match hat-tricks.

What do you think? Are these all bowlers that you’d include in your fantasy cricket team or are some astounding players missing from this list? Let us know!

About the Author – Bowcom is an established line marking company with years of experience working within a multitude of professional sports. From international venues all the way to school playing fields, Bowcom have helped to create perfectly marked pitches for all your needs.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Where does Younis Khan fit in Pakistan's ODI plans?

The PCB announced Pakistan's ODI squad for the tour of Sri Lanka over a month and a half before the 1st ODI, which is quite early by PCB's standards. As always the selectors sprung a surprise on everyone by including Younis Khan in the ODI squad, 16 months after Younis played his last ODI game.

The opinion on Younis Khan in Pakistan is quite divided. While some believe that he has past his sell by date in ODIs, others believe that he still has a lot to offer in ODIs, particularly with the World Cup round the corner, and that batsmen chosen to play instead of him have not really impressed during the period Younis has been away from the team.

Considering that he has been selected now, the assumption is that he is on the selector's radar for the upcoming World Cup in Australia. The 15 man squad chosen for the Sri Lanka tour is likely to be Pakistan's squad for the World Cup next year, with the only change being the inclusion of Mohammad Irfan in place of one of the seamers.

Lets try and analyze whether Younis Khan's selection make sense or not. 

1. 11th Best Batsman in Pakistan

If Pakistan selected its playing XI based on batting averages of its players since 1st January 2010, then Younis Khan will just make it to the team as the last name on the team sheet.

2. Better than Reserves?

The statement that batsmen that have replaced Younis Khan in Pakistan's ODI team have not done enough to cement their place in the team is somewhat true.

Batsmen like Asad Shafiq and Umar Amin have failed miserably in ODIs during this period and selecting Younis Khan over these batsmen in Pakistan's ODI squad is justified.

However, there are batsmen like Azhar Ali, Nasir Jamshed, Imran Farhat, and an allrounder like Abdul Razzaq who have all performed better than Younis Khan, yet they find themselves out of favour with the selectors.

It is really a matter of opinion whether Younis Khan is the best reserve ODI batsmen in Pakistan or not, but selecting Younis in the squad and then not playing him in the XI doesn't really make sense.

Is Pakistan really looking to take Younis on tour as a reserve player?

I doubt it.

3. Pakistan's Top 6

Pakistan's recent ODI matches have painted a decent picture regarding their top 6: Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Sohaib Maqsood, Misbah Ul Haq, Fawad Alam, Umar Akmal.

You really cannot drop any of those batsmen and fit Younis Khan into the playing XI.

It will be grossly unfair to drop Sohaib or Fawad and play Younis.

4. Pakistani Batsmen in Australia & New Zealand

Another popular opinion in Pakistan is that with the World Cup being played in Australia and New Zealand next year, Pakistan will benefit from the experience of Younis Khan in their batting line up.

Sure Younis Khan is an experienced batsman, but he has been a mediocre ODI batsman at the very best. A career average of 31 and only 6 ODI centuries in over 250 ODIs does not provide much confidence for a number 3 batsman, the position Younis has played in for majority of his ODI career.

Moreover, his record in Australia and New Zealand over the past 10 years is nothing to write home about either.

Lower order batsmen like Iftikhar Anjum, Sohail Tanvir, Azhar Mahmood, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Akhtar and Naveed ul Hasan average better than Younis does in Australia and New Zealand.

Forget that. Shoaib Malik averages better than Younis does in those countries!

So how does taking Younis to the World Cup really benefit Pakistan?

Forever I have talked and written about Younis Khan as one of the best test batsmen to be produced by Pakistan. I rate him as one of the best test batsmen in the world. If he were born in India, England, or Australia, he would be among the top 5 run scorers in Test Cricket today. It is a real shame that Pakistan does not play as much test cricket as those countries, as they will never get to witness the world-class star that Younis Khan is.

But as an ODI batsman, Younis Khan has always been poor, give or take a couple of match winning innings.

As I built up this case, I completely convinced myself that Younis Khan is not the best choice to include in Pakistan's ODI set up. At the same time, I also realized that Abdul Razzaq makes a strong case for inclusion, particularly for the World Cup.

Other potential replacements for Younis Khan in the 15 man squad are Nasir Jamshed and Azhar Ali. Azhar's strike rate may leave much to be desired, but if Pakistan is looking for someone to hold one end up in Australia, they may not find a better person to do it than him.

Younis Khan should definitely not feature in Pakistan's ODI plans. The selectors were right in discarding him 16 months ago. Selecting him now is looking backwards, while what the PCB should be doing is looking forward to February and March 2015.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Why didn't Jame Faulkner bowl a wide?

In the final league game of the IPL between the Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai needed to pull off an impossible chase to qualify for the qualifiers, and they managed it in some style.

Chasing 190 to win, Mumbai had to get the runs in 14.3 overs to push their net run rate ahead of Rajasthan's and qualify.

An Improbable chase?


But it was made possible by a swashbuckling unbeaten 95 of only 44 deliveries by Corey Andersen, who this year broke Shahid Afridi's record of the fastest century scored in ODIs.

Andersen blasted the Rajasthan bowlers to all corners of the park and always kept Mumbai in the hunt.

With 8 needed to win off 2 deliveries to qualify, Ambati Rayudu smashed the first of those deliveries for a 6 off a Faulkner full toss.

Now 2 were needed to win of 1 delivery.

Rayudu hit the ball into the covers, sprinted for the first run, and then got run out in attempting the second, which would have sent Mumbai into the qualifiers and Rajasthan out of the IPL.

Scores were level.

The calculators went on a frenzy.

And the message came out that Mumbai still had a chance. They needed to hit the next ball for at least a four to win with their net run rate higher than Rajasthan's.

If the ball did not go for a boundary, and Mumbai won by running to get the 1 run required they would end up with a lower run rate and not qualify.

Essentially the match would have been over had Faulkner bowled a wide and Rajasthan would have qualified.

However, he slipped another full toss down the leg side and the new man Tare smashed it for 6 over the square leg boundary resulting in frantic Mumbai celebrations.

It was an impossible chase. The odds were totally stacked against Mumbai. Check betting odds from sources like sportsbettinginfo and you would see that it was all in Rajasthan's favor. But Andersen, with support from Rayudu, Hussey, and Tare managed the impossible!

The question really is why didn't Faulkner bowl one wide on the off side?

Or at least that is what one of the commentators shouted out.

Well if he had bowled a wide then Mumbai would have reached the target of 14.3 overs because the delivery would not have been counted.

Quite simple, isn't it?

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Moore of the same for England or a new start?

After all the speculation and hearsay in the cricket world, the announcement that Peter Moores was the new England coach ended up being a little flat. The Lancashire native threw his name into the hat and a short while later was chosen ahead of Ashley Giles, seemingly the only other man who genuinely wanted the job.

The 51-year-old appears to be relishing taking charge of England for a second time, with 'unfinished business' the phrase on many pundits' lips. Moores' previous spell as England coach lasted less than two years, a fall out with Kevin Pietersen ending his reign in dramatic fashion. With Pietersen's name finally starting to collect dust in the Lord's history books after his enforced international exiling, Moores has been given a second chance.

It is obvious England need some new ideas and to have the slate wiped clean after one of the worst winters in English cricketing history. No one, even the bookmakers, predicted the dramatic fall from grace Alastair Cook and co were forced to endure but it has cleared the way for a new beginning in the national set-up.

There was a time under Andy Flower when the England team used to pick itself. Those days are gone and with the exception of Cook, nobody's place in the squad is guaranteed anymore. It might be some time until England settle on a first choice XI and the experimentation has already begun with the selection of Nottinghamshire paceman Harry Gurney for the ODI clash with Scotland.

Moores has plenty of decisions to make regarding his team selection, with spots open in the batting and bowling department. Sam Robson could be a name we hear a lot of this summer if he is given the chance to impress in the Test arena, the 24-year-old Australian-born batsman having shone on the Performance Programme in the winter.

Fans will have to be patient as Moores is likely to make a few mistakes along the way with his selections but as the overall goal is to find a winning combination he might be forgiven the odd error in judgement if progress is shown.

Moores will also be tasked with changing England's style of play, Cook having been criticised for taking an overly cautious approach to the Ashes series this winter. Cook is still building up his captaincy skills and Moores will need to give him a bit more confidence to set attacking fields and be more aggressive when batting.

The five Test series with India this summer should be fascinating as a result of what Moores has to work with. India are also a team in transition and it will be a good test for Moores' new-look side. Come through that with their heads held high and people might start to believe in English cricket again.

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Why Glenn Maxwell is the Big Show

"I don't think he is worried about his game; he's more worried about golf and practices more golf than cricket"

That is what Virender Sehwag said about Glenn Maxwell, his Kings XI Punjab teammate who has lit up this year's IPL.

You wouldn't think that is someone who has knocked scored of 95, 89, 95, 15, 6, 45, 90, and 22 in his 8 innings at the IPL.

Maxwell's tally of 460 runs is the highest in the IPL so far, and it is over a 100 runs of the next best tally.

He has smashed 29 sixes in those 8 innings, which means that almost 40% of his runs have come in hits over the boundaries.

Add to that the 43 fours he has hit and you get a whopping 346 runs in 8 innings from 4s and 6s - 75% of his total runs!

The record for most runs scored in an IPL season is 733 - Chris Gayle in 2012 and Mike Hussey in 2013. With another 6-8 games left for Maxwell coupled with his current form, that tally seems like a cakewalk for the Big Show.

600 runs or more have been scored only 7 times in an IPL season, and Chris Gayle has managed it thrice! The other 4 times it has been managed by Hussey, Kohli, Tendulkar, and Shaun Marsh.

Glenn Maxwell is well on his way there and he could become the first batsman to score 800 runs in an IPL season.

His impact on this year's IPL has been so significant - Kings XI Punjab have lost only 1 game and find themselves firmly placed at the top of the table.

Maxwell's batting seems so effortless. He clears the boundaries with ease, hits deliveries from outside off over the midwicket fence with minimum effort, and races away with the game every time he bats.

He has been completely unstoppable, as have been the Kings XI who are surely the favorites to win the IPL for the first time this year. Betting guides, such as completebetting.com will tell you that the odds are totally in favor of the Kings XI.

If Maxwell continues to hit them the way he has been, there is going to be no stopping the Kings XI.

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Friday, May 2, 2014

The County Cricket Report

There has been some excellent county cricket action this week with some thrilling matches taking place in England and Wales. While the media often question the validity of county cricket, but the game continues to thrive, with the eighteen first class sides constantly producing matches that keep fans on the edge of their seats. T20 cricket has definitely increased popularity and this year, NatWest will take up the reigns as the 2014 NatWest t20 Blast will replace the Friends Life t20. Those Punters interested in betting on t20 can get the latest cricket betting odds from betfair.com.

The 18 first class counties compete in three summer competitions –

The LV= County Championship
This competition dates back as far as 1889 and is steeped in history. All County Championship matches take place over four days and points are awarded depending on the result with bonus points added for various batting and bowling targets that are hit. Teams receive 16 points for a win, 8 for a tie, 5 for a draw and 0 for a loss. The sides will then collect between 1 and 5 bonus points depending upon their batting performance and between 1 and 3 for bowling successes. There have been two divisions since 2000 with Durham the reigning champions and Lancashire the Division 2 winners which means they are promoted to the top league for the 2014 season.

The NatWest T20 Blast
Beginning on 16 May 2014, the NatWest T20 Blast will replace the long-standing Friends Life t20. The Finals Day will take place at Edgbaston on 23 August. This is arguably the most popular of the three main county competitions, which is largely down to the exciting format that’s utilised. The 18 teams are divided into two equal groups, and a round robin tournament then takes place. This ensures that all sides will face each other at least once, with six playing both home and away. In each of the two groups, the top four sides will progress to a knockout stage. The Finals Day is then held at Edgbaston to crown the T20 champion. In 2013, the Northamptonshire Steelbacks were victorious.

The Royal London One-Day Cup
The Royal London One-Day Cup replaces the ECB 40 as of 2014. The number of overs has been increased from 40 to 50 which will make the competition very similar to one day international cricket. Like the T20, this event has two groups of nine teams and the top four sides in each group go through to the quarter final stage. The first fixtures are due to take place on 26th July with the final on 20th September at Lords.

While county cricket definitely isn’t perfect, 2014 looks like being a very positive year for the sport. Two of the three major tournaments are being revamped and cricket fans look set for a very exciting summer.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

My World T20 Eleven

The World T20 has come to an end after three weeks of thrilling cricket. There is no tournament in this world that provides entertainment and competition like the World T20. Once these tournaments end, there is a sense of withdrawal, an emptiness, that you are unsure of how to fill; and you can't help but reflect about the matches and the players that left an impact on you and the cricket world.

Here are the eleven players that left had the biggest impact on the World T20 in my opinion.

The Openers - Numbers 1 and 2

Several openers did well and ended the tournament among the leading 10 run scorers in the World T20. Rohit Sharma, Hashim Amla, David Finch all gave their teams good starts throughout the World T20 and notched up impressive tallies.

But the two openers that left the greatest impact on the tournament are the two centurions - Alex Hales and Ahmed Shehzad. Both Hales and Shehzad became the first batsmen from their respective countries to knock T20 centuries.

It is interesting to note that England and Pakistan were the only two test playing nations (besides Bangladesh and Zimbabwe) who did not have a T20 centurion among their ranks before the start of this World T20.

Quite fitting that they do now.

The Number 3

This is probably the most easiest choice as it is impossible to ignore the leading run scorer of the tournament and man who ends a tournament with a 100+ average. That too a T20 series / tournament.

Virat Kohli's tally of 319 runs is the also the highest number of runs scored in any World T20 tournament. Kohli was in sublime form throughout the competition and he never looked like getting out. In the final, it seemed like it was only he was out there to play while the rest of the Indian batsmen struggled against a good bowling attack on sluggish pitch.

Virat Kohli is in a league of his own. There is absolutely no comparison.

The Middle Order

The stand out middle order batsmen in this world T20 were Glenn Maxwell, JP Duminy, and Darren Sammy.

In a tournament where Australia refused to turn up, one man definitely turned up. Glenn Maxwell spared no one and smashed all bowlers to all corners of the grounds he played in so effortlessly that it looked like he was playing against school boys. I have not seen anyone deposit balls over midwicket and square leg with the ease that Maxwell did throughout this World T20.

It is difficult to be the best batsman in your team when you have names like Hashim Amla and AB De Villiers in there. But JP Duminy managed just that, despite both Amla and De Villiers being in fine touch.

No one finished games in this World T20 the way Darren Sammydid. No one clubbed sixes the way Sammy did. No one celebrated hitting sixes the way Sammy did. And no one celebrated winning a game the way Sammy and the West Indies did.

You can't keep a man who averaged over a 100 and hit the ball at a strike rate of over 220 out of any team.

What's more is that all three of these batsmen - Maxwell, Duminy, and Sammy - can bowl as well!

The Wicket Keeper

Even though he failed with the bat, Quinton De Kock was by far the best wicket keeper in the World T20. Everyone was raving about Dale Steyn defending 7 runs in that final over against catch of Luke Ronchi, which could have so easily gone for four to third man. Not many wicket keepers in this world would have held on to that.

The Spinners

With the World T20 played in the subcontinent, the spinners were always going to be crucial. It is no surprise that 4 of the leading 5 wicket takers in the World T20 are spinners. Imran Tahir, Samuel Badree, Ravi Ashwin and Amit Mishra scripted many  a victory for their teams.

Imran Tahir ended the World T20 as the leading wicket taker in the tournament, despite playing a game less than both Ashwin and Mishra. Leaving him out of this team will be injustice.

There is very little to choose from between Badree, Ashwin, and Mishra. Badree and Ashwin took 11 wickets each, while Mishra took 10. Badree and Ashwin have slightly better economy rates than Mishra.

I would play both Badree and Ashwin but considering that Maxwell and Duminy can also turn over their arms, it will be too many spinners in the side. And I do think that a team should have at least two genuine pacers, no matter what the conditions.

I'll go with Ashwin purely because of variety. Playing two leg spinners can never be a good strategy.

The Pacers

It is very difficult to ignore Ahsan Malik, the highest wicket taker among the pacers in this World T20. In fact he is the joint highest wicket taker of the tournament. He did play two more games than other pacers, but his average, economy, and strike rate in the tournament were phenomenal.

His 5-19 almost led the Dutch to victory over South Africa. It was the only 5 wicket haul by a pacer in the entire tournament and one of the only two 5 wicket hauls in this World T20.

Dale Steyn took wickets, won South Africa a match, but he was expensive. The pacer who made a greater impact in my opinion was Nuwan Kulasekera. He opened the bowling for the champions and got early wickets for them almost every time. He was also one of the few pacers who finished the World T20 with an economy of less than 7 runs an over.

Now this is a team that can compete against any and all odds will surely be placed against their opposition. Check out the Sports Interaction comprehensive guide to learn more about how to bet on matches and how to read the odds on other games.

This is the World T20 IMPACT Eleven:

1. Alex Hales 2. Ahmed Shehzad 3. Virat Kohli 4. Glenn Maxwell 5. JP Duminy 6. Qinton De Kock (WK) 7. Darren Sammy* (C) 8. Nuwan Kulasekera 9. Ravi Ashwin 10. Ahsan Malik 11. Imran Tahir

12th man: Samuel Badree

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

My First IPL Experience

Six years ago when the IPL was first established, it was like a dream come true. It was the world's best cricketers and the world's biggest stars coming together, it was cricket and bollywood entertainment combined into one extravagant package.

For a fan like me, it didn't get better than that. It was entertainment at its best.

For the first time this year, IPL came to my town. It came to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah, the place I grew up watching India vs Pakistan matches.

Thanks to a friend, I got my hands on two passes for the Super Saturday IPL matches: Rajasthan Royals vs Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders vs Kings XI Punjab.

It was going to be a day where I could watch Virat Kohli, AB De Villiers, Yuvraj Singh, Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, Jacques Kallis, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, and the big show Glenn Maxwell live in action!

And then there was the prospect of Shahrukh Khan, Preity Zinta, and Shilpa Shetty being there.

The cricket itself was quite boring. The Royal Challengers were bowled out for 70 odd and Rajasthan Royals took their sweet time to get there. Punjab were bowled out for 133 and KKR could manage only 109. I saw only half a dozen sixes being hit throughout the day, and the highest score by a batsman was 37 by Sehwag. Maxwell, Kohli, Watson, Kallis... no one got going.

Despite that, there was ample entertainment on display. One can never be bored at an IPL game, that is for sure. Here are some highlights of my first day at the IPL:

1. Vijay Mallya's box was right behind where we were seated, while Shilpa Shetty was seated a few boxes away. Between the two innings, Shilpa Shetty paid Mallya a visit, and the crowd around us went ballistic. They merrily clicked away as the security had a tough time controlling people standing at the edge of Mallya's box.

2. Once the first match ended, the Punjab and KKR teams took to the field for some drills as the presentation was ongoing. At the end of the presentation, Shane Watson walked up to greet his Australian mates who were part of the Punjab XI - Bailey, Maxwell, and Johnson. They chatted for a good 10 minutes; your guess is as good as mine regarding what they chatted about.

3. A representative from KKR came into the crowd and distributed KKR hats and flags to everyone. 15 minutes after he left a rep from the Kings XI came there and announced that whoever gave him the KKR flag or hat would get a Punjab one in return. I made sure I had something from both the teams to keep!

4. Maxwell's practice drill was the most interesting. A member of the Punjab contingent threw some balls at him and he played them straight down. He did that to 3 deliveries and then he proceeded to practice his switch hit / reverse sweep / reverse slog, whatever you want to call it. He must have played two dozen hits, including one that caught the top edge and sailed into the crowd. The crowd started cheering and asking for him to hit them their way, which Maxwell politely obliged. Every single switch hit from then on was hit into the crowd with perfect aim towards a row of people who would catch them. It was probably the most entertaining practice drill I had ever seen. It was also no surprise to see Maxwell hit the same shot off Narine for four as soon as he walked out to bat.

Those bats these days, really do have some power in them. Fordham Sports are specialist stockists of cricket equipment and have some powerful bats in their inventory too!

5. Wasim Akram was the first person to walk up to the pitch once it had been rolled and was ready for the KXIP vs KKR match. He knocked a few punches into the surface and then walked over to Gautam Gambhir to have a chat.

6. Preity Zinta and Juhi Chawla arrived together to the ground and walked into the Royal Box. Juhi took a seat there while Preity asked for where the Punjab box was. Lucky for me, it was right behind us, next to Mallya's box.

7. The security was tighter this time around Preity Zinta's box and walking up to her to take pictures was impossible, but watching her expressions throughout the match from 10 feet away was more than I could ask for. Having seen all the histrionics on TV for the past 7 years, it was a treat to watch it all from up close.

8. Juhi Chawla has the best smile in the business!

9. Shahrukh Khan arrived during the second half of Punjab's innings. He came with Sheikh Nahyan and sat in the royal box. For the next 3 hours, it was a Shahrukh Khan show. Every Punjab wicket, every boundary hit by KKR was followed by SRK standing on his feet, clapping, waving, and asking the crowd to cheer louder. That man cannot stay away from being center stage.

Once again, I ws lucky to be about 10 feet away from him and managed to experience what I have seen all this while on TV in person.

The name "Shahrukh" was probably screamed every second during that time as fans tried to get his attention.

There was more focus on Shahrukh Khan then there was on the match.

It was a sight!

10. At the end of 11 overs, KKR were 50-3 and it seemed that they would reach the target. Just then Preity Zinta got up from her seat and walked to the edge of her box to speak to someone. At that same moment, Chris Lynn was clean bowled. Someone from the Punjab contingent asked Preity to stay there and not move till the end of the game.

While Preity stood there at the edge of her box, KKR lost 6 wickets in the next 7 overs, and with it the match.

The superstition regarding people's positions in the dressing rooms, dugouts, and elsewhere, which is quite common in the Indian dressing room, surely worked for Punjab that day.

The cricket was dull and boring, but the entertainment around the ground was top notch.

Nothing like it!

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

India, Sri Lanka, and the Zip Factor

World Cup 2007, World T20 2009, World Cup 2011, World T20 2012 ...

The winners of these four World Tournament have one thing in common. They all beat Sri Lanka to win the title.

Today, Sri Lanka will play their 5th final in a World Tournament in the past 7 years. That is an unbelievable tournament.

No other team has featured in so many finals in such a short period of time. No other team has a better record than Sri Lanka does in World T20 matches, where their success percentage is second to none.

Yet, they do not have a world title to boast of.

Tonight will be their 5th attempt and probably their best chance to make it right. Sri Lanka have been in stationed in Bangladesh since the end of January. Barring the loss to England (read Alex Hales), Sri Lanka have won everything in Bangladesh over the past 10 weeks: the test series 1-0, ODI series 3-0, T20I series 2-0, Asia Cup title without losing a match, World T20 group games and semi final.

However, all this will count for little when they take the field against India, a team that has been on a roll in this World T20 tournament.

India have dominated this World T20 winning all their games in convincing fashion.

It is no doubt going to be a tough contest as Sri Lanka try to overcome their final syndrome and India aim to become the holders of the all three limited overs ICC titles - World Cup, Champions Trophy, and World T20.

MS Dhoni is the only captain in the world who has held all three titles, and tonight he will want to become the only captain to hold all three titles at the same time.

On the other side, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara will want to ensure that they hang up their boots as at least one time World title holders.

Jayawardene is the leading run scorer in all World T20 matches and the second highest run scorer in World T20 internationals. It is more than likely that he will end his T20I career in those positions as well.

There is absolutely no doubt about the impact that players like Dhoni and Jayawardene have on their respective teams.

Do you know how to measure this impact?

There's a new cool app in town that enables you to measure the impact a player has made in a T20 game. The new app is called 'Zip Factor' and it has been developed by Castrol Activ Scooter.

Harsha Bhogle and Rahul Dravid recently spoke about measuring the impact of a player in a T20 game and introduced the Zip Factor, which takes into account batting, bowling, and fielding efforts of players and determines their overall impact.

The following table illustrates how the Castrol Active Scooter Zip Factor works.

So what are you waiting for?

Start using the Zip Factor and determine the impact that players make.

It will be a cracker of a final tonight... and it will be interesting to find out which player had the largest impact on the final of the ICC World T20.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pakistan slay the ghost of St. Lucia

It was 2010, Pakistan were the defending T20 Champions, and they were up against Australia in the semi final of the 3rd edition of the ICC World T20 in St. Lucia, West Indies.

Pakistan were one of the favorites to win the title and repeat their 2009 win, and they looked well on their way to a third straight final after posting 191-6 in their 20 overs.


That is the exact same score that Pakistan managed in today's world T20 group game against Australia.

In 2010, it was the Akmal brothers, each of whom managed a 50, who set up Pakistan for a big total.

Today, it was also the Akmal brothers who put together a 96 run partnership to bring Pakistan back into the game after they were 25-2 in 4 overs.

In 2010, Pakistan were well on course to make it to their third straight World T20 final when they had Australia reeling at 105-5 after 12 overs.

But then Cameron White and Mike Hussey went on a wild rampage to give Australia an unlikely win, reaching their target with 1 ball to spare after Hussey smashed three sixes of Ajmal in the final over of the chase.

Saeed Ajmal has gone on record to say that he still thinks about that final over. No one has ever treated Ajmal the way Hussey did in that 2010 semi final.

Till Glen Maxwell today.

Australia started on their chase of 192 today in the worst possible manner, losing both Warner and Watson in the first over of the Australian innings to Zulfiqar Babar, who gave Pakistan the ideal start.

From there Glen Maxwell and Aaron Finch proceeded to destroy Pakistan's bowling, including the magician Saeed Ajmal, hitting him for 25 runs off his first two overs.

While Maxwell and Finch continued to score at over 12 an over, the ghosts of St. Lucia came back to haunt the Pakistan team and the fans.

They put on 118 runs in just 10.4 overs as Maxwell smashed every bowler to all corners of the park. His onslaught also included a 30 run over off Bilawal Bhatti.

When Maxwell departed, Australia were left with only 66 runs to get off 50 deliveries with 7 wickets in hand.

From there, it should have been a walk in the park.

In 2010, it was over number 12 that turned the tide in Australia's favor. Today, it was also over number 12 that turned the tide; but this time in Pakistan's favor as they finally slayed the ghosts of St. Lucia.

Those 23 runs that Mike Hussey smashed of Ajmal in the final over in St. Lucia to steal the semi final from Pakistan was exactly the same number of runs that Australia required of the final over in Dhaka.

However this time, Pakistan managed to defend it successfully despite the bowler being Bilawal Bhatti who had earlier bowled only 1 over in the innings, which had gone for 30 runs!

It was a big game for Pakistan, a must win game, and how they delivered under pressure.

Before the match, Mohammad Hafeez mentioned how he had told his players to go out there and express themselves fearlessly.

Express fearlessly is exactly what they did.

Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, and Shahid Afridi, the top 3 leading wicket takers in T20 internationals brought Pakistan back into the game after the initial onslaught by Maxwell and Finch.

It was T20 bowling at its best. They expressed and stood up to be counted.

The one man who surpassed all others in expressing himself fearlessly was Umar Akmal.

Pakistan's best limited overs batsman set the game up for Pakistan with a magnificent knock of 94 off 54 deliveries, his highest score in T20 internationals.

Umar Akmal has faced a lot of criticism from all quarters, which I believe has been quite unfair. He is by far the most talented batsman that Pakistan has and he has been their best batsman in ODIs and T20s for a long time now.

His score of 94 is the second highest T20 score by a Pakistan batsman, just falling short of Ahmed Shehzad's 98* against Zimbabwe last year.

It was Umar Akmal's 6th fifty in T20 internationals, which is the second highest number of T20 50s for Pakistan, behind Hafeez' 7.

Umar Akmal's tally of 1,220 runs in T20 internationals is the second highest number of runs for a Pakistan batsman, only 58 behind that of skipper Hafeez. His T20 average of 29 is also the second best T20 average for a Pakistan batsman, behind Misbah's 37.

Those numbers speak volumes of the contribution that Umar Akmal has made to this Pakistan T20 team. His numbers in ODIs are also quite awesome.

Today he definitely showed why he is the best batsman in Pakistan.

And Pakistan definitely showed that their encounter against India was a minor blip. They are still serious contenders in the World T20.

This victory will give their confidence a huge boost and other teams should watch out for them as Pakistan are at their best when playing fearless aggressive cricket.

Make your pitch on this post...

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