Saturday, May 17, 2008

Turning the Tables

A 2 day gap in something new on Well Pitched is a rarity, especially when the IPL is going on but it was a hectic weekend. I didn't miss any cricket though.

A few days ago I talked about the RACE to the Final Four and mentioned that the 4 matches between Thursday and Saturday were going to be ever so crucial.

Well, the results of those matches have turned the tables, but the RACE is still very much on.

The Daredevils' victory over the Chargers on Thursday left the table unchanged with DDD lingering in 5th place, between MI and KKR.

But it was Mumbai Indian's victory over the Knight Riders that has caused a worry in the DDD and KKR camp.

MI had the chance to level with DDD and KKR on 10 points by beating KKR on Friday. They did exactly that, but it wasn't only a victory.

It was a thumping victory!

It was a decimation of the Knight Riders who were bowled out for 67, the lowest score of the tournament.

With Jayasuriya in the form of 1996, MI chased that down in a mere 5 and half overs.

That not only put MI on equal points with DDD and KKR, it put them above the 2 teams on 4th place on the basis of Net Run Rate.

Had it been a close match, MI would have remained at 6th place but their total dominance over KKR means that now MI lie comfortably at number 4 with an advantage of having played fewer matches than DDD and KKR.

DDD's loss to Kings XI last night has further strengthened MI's position.

MI's fortunes have taken a drastic change and now they should be confidently eyeing the Final Four.

There was nothing new in the match between the 2 teams sponsored by Vijay Mallya. (How ironic is it that the team owned by Dr. Mallya is sitting at the bottom of the table, while the team he sponsors is right at the top)

However, there was some new entertaining stuff in the other 3 matches over the weekend.
  • Glenn McGrath and Mohammad Asif opened the DDD bowling against Adam Gilchrist and Shahid Afridi. Who does one support in times like these?
  • While McGrath snared his Aussie team mate, Afridi hit his Paki team mate for a 4 and a 6.
  • RP Singh found something to be amused by when his India team mate, Gambhir hit him for consecutive sixes and a few boundaries.
  • Ab De Villiers in the covers stopped a few thumping drives from Gibbs' bat. The latter let out a wry smile everytime that happened.
  • 15 runs required of the last over. Sehwag had been there before. Luckily for him, Shoaib Malik was only on the field as a substitute.
  • Amit Mishra bagging the 2nd hatrick of the IPL. The bowlers have definitely come into their own.
  • Shoaib Akhtar's first 4 overs in the IPL looked like this: 4-0-17-5. That's before he came across Jayasuriya. Shoaib's 5th over went for 23! To be fair, Jayasuriya was also dropped of Shoaib's 1st ball.
  • The IPL witnessed its 2nd rain reduced match last night. DDD faced 6 out of their 11 overs in powerplay mode, while KXI faced only 3 - fair?
  • It was a battle between India's best pacers in the IPL - Sreesanth & Pathan, and India's best batsmen in the IPL - Sehwag & Gambhir. The batmen won hands down.
  • KXI boasts of 2 of the leading wicket takers in the IPL, yet they both went wicketless. The 4 DDD wickets went to the unlikeliest of bowlers - Ramesh Powar and James Hopes. It never fails to surprise you does it?
  • Jayawardene was going great guns to lead the chase. What did Sehwag do? Turned to Maharoof.
Expect more entertainment tonight as the RACE continues in 2 cracking games.

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Chennai Super Kings & Deccan Chargers vs Mumbai Indians.

KKR can turn the tables once more tonight if they beat CSK and MI lose to the Chargers. It looks like it will be one hell of a RACE for the 4th place from hereon.

These last 10 days before the knock outs are going to be the most interesting.

Make your pitch on this post...



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16 Pitched:

  1. Anonymous said...
     

    Well, see. The major problem with the IPL is the poor fielding. Dolly catches have been dropped, misfields have culminated in fours(and in some cases as sixes) and batsmen have been given lives they do not deserve.

    Improve the fielding and I am dead sure the scores would definitely fall and bowler figures look much better than they are currently.

    I also think most bowlers are frustrated with the poor fielding. I doubt anyone in the IPL remembers that fielding also helps win games.


    Also on a complete side note, did anyone else enjoy Salman Butt's inning and beautiful improvisation?

    Also, does Shoaib Akhtar look more fit than he has in recent times? Or is it just me?

  2. Q said...
     

    There have been teams like Mumbai and Rajhastan that have been outstanding in the field.

    Plus did u c the Daredevils' catching last night? It was brilliant.

    But I agree that the overall level of fielding has been poor.

    I thought Salman Butt looked every good during KKR's 67. Did u see that 6 over cover of Pollock? And the dance down the track to hit Pollock over the head? He was following that from his 48 in the previous game.

    Geoff Lawson spoke to Buchanan before Shoaib left Pakistan and he said to him: "Shoaib has never been fitter".

  3. Anonymous said...
     

    Yeah.

    Your right Q. I just wish Shoaib could find a way back to our team. As much as people love/hate him he is an asset for the team he plays with.

    Salman Butt. He is a real enigma in my opinion. Always had the talent to be a good solid opener if given time, but after a bad patch PCB just decides to drop him. Our cricket board has lots to think about given the current state of affairs of Pakistan cricket.

    Thoughts on Afridi in the IPL just out of curiosity?

    And that drop catch right now, off Agarkar is just the sort of misfielding I am upset about. If you give batsmen an extra life in this version of the game, expect to be punished heavily.

  4. Q said...
     

    If u notice Salman Butt's int'l career, when he's failed he has got a number of low scores in succession, but when he's fired he's got good scores continuously. He was wretched against Zimbabwe earlier in the year, but he mauled the Bengalis.

    He started of the IPL badly, but now has 2 good scores in the last 3 games.

    Pak need to stick with him. Remember his 102* that led the chase against India? I think that was his 2nd ODI. And his 108 in the Sydeny test? Outstanding.

    I hope PCB don' treat him like Farhat or Taufeeq.

    Afridi has been misused. It took Pakistan 10 years to finally realise that the man is not a batsman. now they play him as a bowlerand he bats at 7-8 or anytime during the last 5 overs.

    Deccan have erred by using him at number 5 and as an opener. He did well scoring 33 the other night but it hav been better for Deccan had he gotten those in the last 3 overs rather the first 3.

    Teams need to tell him that he is a bowler and whatever he does with the bat is a bonus. U can only expect him to fire with the bat in 1 game out of 10.

    With the ball he will deliver everytime. Almost.

  5. Q said...
     

    S Rajesh tells us why this RACE is even more interesting than I've mentioned:

    http://content-gulf.cricinfo.com/ipl/content/current/story/351448.html

  6. Anonymous said...
     

    Q,

    You echo my sentiments on Afridi. I have not seen him yet fail with the ball in the past few years and I hope he does not for many years to come. His batting down the order has saved Pakistan on many occasions, blasting big scores in very few deliveries to make unattainable totals easily reachable.

    Salman Butt is one who is just as you have said. He can well be one of our more talented openers and PCB should just persist with him. With the spirit he has for the game and a penchant for improvising coupled with good stroke play,he can become a strong opener. Now Pakistan needs one more and we can just hope that our opening woes may be cured.

    I just hope Afridi can show us some versatility in the Deccan Chargers game, because it would be nice to see him destroy a side with his bat or with the ball.

  7. Q said...
     

    He did it again with the ball today Anon. 2 wickets in 3 balls including Sachin.

    And wat a good catch at the boundary.

    Deccan effed up again by opening with him.

    I also realised something today, some very good catches are taken when Afridi hits it in the air. Thornley took an exceptional one today.

    Did u see Gilly sky one in the 1st over and get dropped? If that was Afridi hitting it, he would have been caught. Same goes for Yuvraj dropping Sehwag yesterday. If it was Afridi, Yuvi would have held on...

    :-)

  8. Wasim said...
     

    Q Afridi is like an exciting preview of a dud movie he promises a lot of excitement and delivers none,and the funny thing is that his fans are always in denial, when he was performing poorly down the order everybody was saying he needs to bat up the order he is not being used properly, now he has failed at top also playing his tulla brand of cricket.
    People call Shoaib Akhtar as Show Actor but the biggest showman on Pak team is Afridi who only plays for the crowd never has any match awareness and never plays for the team. I would always prefer consistency over excitement.Its a professional game and the guy has no professionalism.

    I think out of all the Pakistani players playing in IPL he got the most matches and got a chance to bat in the most with plenty of overs remaining and failed to deliver each time, his bowling has also declined an econ rate of 5 has gone upto 8.

    I think its time that we should let go of him.

    And give chance to players like Fawad Alam or any other youngster.

  9. Q said...
     

    Strongly strongly strongly disagree Wasim.

    Afridi is not a batsman. Afridi was never a batsman.

    I have always maintained that he is a bowler who can bat a bit and thats what Pakistan and his fans should view him as.

    I never wanted him to bat up the order.

    Afridi is the biggest team man u wud find in Pakistan. Shoaib Malik, the skipper will vouch for that.

    Watch him captain Karachi in the domestic games and u'll c what he does with the players. He's brilliant in the field.

    He captained Sindh to the Pentnagular Trophy earlier this year.

    To see his ability with the ball, just see what he did today. And he was man of the series in the T20 world cup cos of the ball not the bat.

    Pakistan have finally realised that he is a bowler, and the Chargers should too.

    Search Shahid Afridi in the labels on this blog and see all that i've written about him - never have i talked abt him as a batsman.

    And Read this:

    http://www.wellpitched.com/2007/11/shahid-afridi-pakistans-mvp.html

  10. Wasim said...
     

    Q we all have different opinions and I strongly back my earlier statement.

    Afridi's role in the team is of an all rounder and not as a specialist bowler, he failed to fullfill his role as an Allrounder he was played as a pinch hitter or as an enforcer in the lower middle order he failed in that role, his bowling before todays match was also not like his usual self.

    I never said that you were advocating for him to bat higher it was generally referred to Afridi fans and for that matter you can read comments on Pakspin and other blogs.
    He was promoted up the order and failed again.

    Yes his performance as a bowler in T20 cup was great but again his performance as an all rouder was pathetic, if he had batted sensibly in finals we could have won the match.

    His performance against SA and India was also poor and since T20 WC his strike rate as a bowler and his Econ rate both have come down.

    When a player fails to fulfill his role in a team he disrupts the balance and the winning combination of that team and I am sure his value in IPL and the reason why DC picked him up was determined by the fact that he can score quick runs.

    And don't take me wrong he can, its just that his unprofessional attitude doesn't allow him to change his game, he never plays his shots according to the match situation. There are very few players in the world who can hit a ball so cleanly he has the reflexes, the bat speed and a quick eye to be a good batsman but he doesn't have a stable head on his shoulders.

    His abilities have been decieving the selectors and his fans for almost 10 years, I can't find any other player who had such a long career filled with so many failures.

    I don't dislike him for the sake of it, its just the frustration and I think its time that we call a spade a spade.

  11. Anonymous said...
     

    Q,

    Afridi did do it again. He came clean for Deccan Chargers when they needed him.

    Playing him as an opener was not what they expected of him. Afridi's role is to score quick runs toward the end of the innings. Afridi as a bowler has tremendous accolades and if you view his history as a bowler you can see that he has destroyed Tendulkar and Ponting on various Pakistan tours.

    He can shorten the deficit for the team and on many occasions has saved Pakistan.

    Wasim, I think you are being overly harsh on Afridi. He has saved Pakistan on numerous occasions. If you look at his track record, he gets the breakthroughs when big partnerships start to develop or bashes bowlers to all ends of the fields. He has even single handedly led Pakistan with the bat. Afridi should however not be used as a batsman. We have enough batting talent that can hold its own, but mostly fail. If you are looking at team dynamics, many other players should come under the microscope before Afridi, and that can and will be judged at the Asia Cup.

  12. Q said...
     

    And for me the spade is a bowler who can bat a bit.

    Afridi was always a bowler.

    If you read the blog I gave the link to, you would know what my arguement is.

    I believe it was Pakistan's team management that spoilt him and us.

    If you look at the Pakistan side today, Afridi bats at 8, and that number is usually occupied by a bowler who bats a bit and not an allrounder.

    Afridi used to bat at number 9 for the U19 team from which he was picked as a replacement for Mushtaq Ahmed in 1996. It was a chance that Saeed Anwar took that paid off. You cant expect that to happen everyday.

    If Gillespie scored a double hundred in a test, does that mean he deserves to bat at 3 or 4 for the rest of his career? Definitely not.

    Afridi will give u a match winning innings once every 10 games. U cant expect one every game, thats how he is.

    He will give you a match winning bowling performance every other game.

    Before today, remember his 3 wickets against Delhi?

    He was the 3rd or 4th highest wicket taker after Q1 of the IPL, when i did the posts. He didn't do well in the next 2-3 games but did to today.

    I have urged people for a long time to consider Afridi as a bowler.

    Remember Wasim Akram's batting? I think he has 6 50s in 400 odd ODIs. He used to bat at 7 or 8. Thats where Afridi bats and should have batted for the last 10 years as well.

  13. Q said...
     

    Spot on about the breathroughs Anon. He has always done it.

  14. khansahab said...
     

    Q,

    I thoroughly agree with the notion that Afridi is now a bowler first, fielder second and batsman third. If he scores a few runs that is a bonus and if he does not, you expected that anyway. That is the approach we must take towards Afridi for he is an experienced campaigner who is captaincy material and the deserved leader of the team.

    It is a wonder how well he has captained Karachi for so long, yet the PCB does not want to give him the captaincy for the Pakistani team. He has much more captaincy experience than Malik at domestic level. Plus ever since Malik has been captain, his form with the bat has declined and he was never captaincy material anyway.

  15. Anonymous said...
     

    wasim

    are you the selector, coach, manager or captain of the team in which afridi plays? 'coz the way you have been touting in a brazen way that his role is of an all-rounder first and not as a specialist bowler, it appears that you have some kinda vendetta against him.

    in T20 format they all say that his selection is purely on the basis of his bowling and fielding, so you better keep your afridi bashing for no reason at least he and gul are taking wickets if not like tanvir but better than others.

    Also about shoaib aktar we all know how bad an actor he is. btw, he is injured again and did not play in a crucial match for his franchisee, no wonder ganguly did not acknowledge his absence when asked, he said Umar Gul bowled well. actor took 4 wickets in one match and thats it, one good performance and he brags about it for one year.

    talking of pakistani players and their performance it is only tanvir who is consistent the rest are all mediocre players especially the likes of Hafeez, Asif, Akmal, even Butt and not to mention our great captain shoaib malik. you seems to have deliberately avoided commenting on the poor performance of shoaib malik. so where are you from?

  16. Q said...
     

    Welcome to Well Pitched Khan Sahab. U have stated my thoughts exactly.

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