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Session-dashboard - Tracking Test Matches as they progress.
Tracking T20 run-chases in an innovative manner - See here.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Eventful week - Shoaib Akhtar, Twenty20, IPL and Rahul Dravid

The week that went by has been really eventful both for news on the field as well as off it. The most controversial (and humorous) would have to be Shoaib Akhtar's recall from South Africa. The pace bowler seems to be discovering newer ways to get himself into trouble. His colleagues have asked for him to be banned from international cricket. Though, Shoaib has vowed to fight back, it is very difficult what the dressing room environment will be, with the strained relationship between the players involved. The captain and coach are relatively new to their positions and this was one headache they wouldnt have liked to start off with. The only way for Shoaib seems to be, is the ICL - though the ICL organizers must be having their own hesitations to pick him.

Chris Gayle's whirlwind century thrust the Twenty20 World Cup to the cricketing public. This was a fantastic knock by Gayle, though the target was easily achieved thanks to the bad fielding and catching of the Windies. Is the Twenty20 good for the game? Definitely. It will improve the ODI and test matches by a further notch - especially the running, fielding, catching skills. Another important contribution from the Twenty20 arena to the ODIs would be the confidence chasing teams have, even if they have a required run-rate of more than 10, in the last 5-10 overs. Teams successfully chasing 50 runs in 5 overs is commonplace here and this will mean that the teams will take the same confidence when they play ODIs later on. The bowlers will have to resort to bringing in variety in their bowling to escape from the hiding that they will otherwise get, from the batsmen. The batsmen themselves will have to come up with a new range of shots, to increase their chances of getting the boundary.

The India-Pakistan game was a fantastic exhibition for those who think that Twenty20 games are meant only for batsmen. The bowlers did well to take wickets, thus restricting the target. Some lusty hitting by Robin Uthappa, MS Dhoni and tailenders ensured that the Indians gave a fighting total to the bowlers. The way the Indian bowlers came back to tie the match was indeed remarkable. The Indian team gave a glimpse of what its fans can expect to see, in the near future - without the presence of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly. The team-spirit seems to be quite high, the players were enjoying themselves on the field, the performances backed the spirit, the fielding was much better than seen in recent times. Barring for one dropped catch, the team was overall good on the field. The bowl-out!!! This match was not all that significant, once both the teams had qualified for the second stage. What happens, if such a tie occurs in a semi-final of the tournament. If this is not a good idea, what other ways are present to get a definite result in the game? Maybe, have the teams play for 5 overs each (with no fielding restrictions at all) and try to get a result - like the extra-time concept in soccer - this way the pressure is on the entire team rather than just the bowlers.

Other highlights in the Twenty20 included the wonderful performances of Sri Lanka - now, they have the highest totals in tests, ODIs, Twenty20s. The Windies, through their inconsistency, crashed out of the tournament. The teams that seem to be having a good chance for getting to the semi-finals are Sri Lanka, South Africa, Australia, England. After that, it is very difficult to choose the finalists.

Rahul Dravid's resignation was another news-item that was grabbing the attention back home in India, when the team was slogging it out in South Africa. Now, the Indian team doesnt have a coach, neither a captain - a very pathetic situation to be in. Obviously, Rahul Dravid's captaincy was affecting his test batting. And one thing is very clear - India would rather have the batsman rather than the captain. It would be a good idea to give it to his predecessor - Sourav Ganguly - but looks like the selection is tilted towards Sachin Tendulkar.

The launch of the IPL by the BCCI rounded off an eventful week - they paraded players like Sachin, Rahul, Kumble, Fleming, McGrath - again, players who are not currently involved in the ongoing Twenty20 World Cup. But, it has got the backing of the country Boards, which is not the case with ICL. They are going to start after the launch of the ICL, thereby enjoying the luxury of seeing the mistakes and rectifying it. The fact that each of the teams will be franchised to corporates, mean that this is also a money-spinning venture (something that was of no doubt at all). One can only hope that Indian cricket will get to the next level of performance by all these ventures.
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