Today when Pune Warriors lost to Mumbai by 21 runs, they became the first team in this season to crash out with Delhi, Deccan and Kochi at their heels. After the loss today, they have 5 remaining matches and they need to win all 5 to have any chance. 5 wins from here will take them to 14 points which will see them short of qualifying any ways. Mumbai are already on 14 followed by Kolkota and Chennai on 12 and Rajasthan on 11.
All Pune can do is to make IPL more interesting. They will play Deccan (twice), Kolkota, Punjab and Delhi in their last 5 matches and their wins and Punjab and Kolkata can make the race to top 2 positions very interesting.
Kochi and Delhi have their matches tomorrow – KTK vs. KKR and DD vs. DC. Tomorrow will decide who is the 2nd team to crash out or maybe two of them. Delhi and Deccan have 5 to play and have 3 wins. They need all 5 wins to reach 16 which gives them a fighting chance. The one to loose tomorrow will join Pune in the position where the maximum points they can get is 14 which is not good enough.
But for KKR it is a big day – if they loose they will relinquish their 2nd spot to CSK and loose that prime position with Playoff Qualifier 1.
Starting March 23, it is going to be a very interesting stage and world-cup at this time is up for grabs. If I believe history repeats itself, then there are only 4 countries who can win this cup – Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand or West Indies. Wonder why – read why others are doomed because of the history of world cup.
Tomorrow is the last day of the group stages that has two matches which do not have any bearing on the qualifications on Quater-finals. However, the tussel between India and West Indies, will decide who plays who. The combinations:
India beats WI: they end up 2nd in the group and go onto play Australia
WI beats India: This will lead to a situation on where India ends up with their NRR and they could either be playing Sri Lanka or Pakistan
All those are very good sides and India will have to play very well to advance into the semi-finals. In last couple of weeks, I have heard many people saying, we should find the weakest of the opponents to play in the quarter. But, it is important for India to win tomorrow against the WI and get that confidence and momentum with them. In the entire group stages, India has not won even one match against the better teams and WI is still a formidable force that will give us the hope and confidence we have been looking for since the first day when we played against Bangladesh.
Lets focus a little bit on how the various teams fared and if I do look upto one such team as a winner at this stage. There is none. The group toppers – Pakistan and South Africa have also lost matched to big guns and in a very dis-heartening manner. Every team has just managed to qualify (more so in the Group B). No one team who is going to be playing in the quarterfinal, has looked formidable and un-penetrable. Looking back since 1996; we had certain candidates early in the world cup that had some indications to who may win the cup that year:
1996: Sri Lanka came up very strong and were followed very closely by Australia and India. Sri Lanka eventually won beating India in semis and Australia in the finals
1999: In England, Australia was followed closely by South Africa and Pakistan. Australia eventually won it
2003: Australia and India were going all guns blazing. They met in the finals with Australia winning all their matches, and India only loosing one against Australia. Eventually, the final as predicted was between Australia and India, with India winning
2007: Australia were closely chased by Sri Lanka and New Zealand. They went on to beating South Africa in semis and Sri Lanka in the finals.
But, this year there is no clear one side leading the groups and no clear winner for me. If you ask me south Africa and Paksitan have a great chance. However, South Africa has never won a single match in elimination stages – yeah NEVER – we will find out if their luck has changed when they play New Zealand in quarter-finals. And, no host country has ever won the world-cup; so it rules out India and Sri Lanka. This time ICC’s decision of not allowing Pakistan to host the world cup may just turn out to be lucky for them.
Today finally Dhoni decided to reveal to the world what is happening in the India camp and giving rest to any speculations. Read the complete article here.
A few highlights and my take on those:
“We are still supposed to give Ashwin a chance, he deserves a place, so he will feature in one of the teams [that will play in the group stages].”
So we know now that Ashwin will get a chance and he is considered deserving. But, the question is is it being too late already? and will he be giving couple of chances just like Chawla has been given
“basically you have to see which was the player that needed this game most, rather than the team needing the player. I felt it was Piyush, who needed this game much more than Ashwin. You want your bowlers to be in a very good mental state in the second half of the tournament, where you play against the best teams and you will be participating in the knock-out stages – that was one of the main reasons why we picked Piyush ahead of Ashwin.”
Now this is a Googly I am talking about and everyone is thinking. Now this is where I see a leader is speaking up. Kudos to Dhoni, but the problem I see here is that he has already taken a huge risk by not giving Ashwin a chance to get valuable match practice. If I look at where India is in Group B, India is most certain to Qualify for Quarter Finals so Dhoni still has two games to try it with Chawla and Ashwin and he can see what works best for the team. The question is should he be experimenting in a tournament such as World Cup? What is all this experiemtn leads to team loosing the momentum or is Dhoni sure that we can get ourselves in the groove for last 3 vital games in knockout stages even with all this shuffling and experimentation?
He is the captain – Lets hope he knows what he is doing there.
Last 2 weeks, India got thrashed by England, and we were barely able to fetch a draw which was followed by a fight against Ireland. These two matches could have been easy for India, but they were not because of some decisions that M.S.Dhoni made with his captaincy; a few to name:
Continue to persist with Piyush Chawla
His assessment of Pitch in Bengaluru against Ireland
His defensive field placements against England and Ireland
But, we all understand there are times when they are going to get it wrong. But a third time – now that is a statement. Another match that should been a steeping stone for India to get some momentum behind them before big matches was against Netherlands and this time again Dhoni did many things that one can’t explain.
He played Piyush Chawla once again
Sourav Ganguly and some other commentators suggest it is good to see a captain behind young Piyush. But, are we here to groom people or win a World Cup. Piyush Chawla once again was the most expensive bowler in the squad. He was all over the place with his bowling. This also meant was that Ashwin still was on bench. If he gets a go in the match against South Africa, it will be after a break of over a month. That is something we do not want; we wanted some good match practice for him.
Tactics wanting to win the match in 20 overs
Sehwag, Tendulkar and Pathan were batting in a fashion as if India team has to be somewhere in a hurry. from 69/0 to 82/3 happened because they all played shots which were not required. A match that India could have won with 9 wickets and with 25 overs to spare went to 37th over with 5 wickets down and many Indians feeling we may loose. By promoting Pathan, it meant that Gambhir who has been a touch out of form did not get batting practice which was required. He came in when there with 2 wickets down and was under lot of pressure.
Raina still sits on bench
We have a genuine all rounder in Suresh Raina and this was the chance to see if he is in a good nick. Yuvraj is back in form but Pathan is scoring only 20s and 30s. Even if they are like a super sonic jet, they are not what we would need if we end up needing a consolidation in middle order. This match was a chance where we could have rested someone (Sehwag or Sachin a touch decision) and get a chance to Gambhir and Raina to get a knock in the middle.
I am not sure what India think tank is thinking, but it seems there are strategies that will lead us to winning the final. From here on, if India has to win they have to win at least 3 of their final 5 matches. The next matches will be against solid teams – South Africa and West Indies. And once we are in Quarter Finals, we need to be at the top of our game every single match day. One bad day in the office and they are fired and there goes the dream for so many of us.
The only silver lining is that no other team looks in solid form; Pakistan and South Africa lost matches in a dismissal fashion. Australia has not been tested and their test in pre-WC matches they crumbled under pressure too.
The team that can be focused from here will be the one to take it through, but for me there is no one ahead in this race.
He was lying in his bed and thinking what went wrong over the years. He had a good job that provided for his family; he had a a loving family and they all met often, had enjoyed their time together. Somehow, over the years fate had taken a u-turn and for the first time he was facing problems providing so well for his family. Only today He had to ask his wife not to bring any more desserts after dinner and he saw tears coming through her eyes. A sudden realization filled his eyes with tears and his heart with remorse.
He lived in a small town with his family and he was living a very fulfilling life. His job was at the Cricket stadium where he officiated as the umpire in matches between his and a neighboring town. All was well until the day his son decided to join the rival team. Over a period of time, he started to cheat to help his son; not giving those LBW decisions. And, because there was no technology available then he was able to get away with it. What he did not realize that, this was not going to help anyone in the long run. What really happened slowly was that the other team started to loose the edge that they had and the matches started to become more one sided. Talented plays did not want to join the loosing team and the team grew weak every season. And because the matches were so one sided, people did not want to come and watch these games. The towns started to loose their revenues, the number of matches reduced and eventually his own income was also reduced. It also started to hurt his son because now he was not playing any quality bowlers and his game started to become weak and he lost his deft touch.
But the damage was now done, but he was determined to fix it. However, to bring the balance back to both towns it took him many years. He had to be careful not to be biased towards either of the town.
I see my life through the eyes of the umpire. The two teams being – my personal life and my careers. I have got to be careful that I do not cheat for either of the side and risk the mistake of ruining both. I just pray I have not messed it up already.