Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kolkata lad wins it for Bangalore

Kolkata lad Shreevats Pratyush Goswami did it for Bangalore. The wicketkeeper batsman of the Bengal team played a huge part in securing for Royal Challengers only their second victory in the tournament.

Ironically, the team to suffer was the one from his very own backyard, the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Goswami had warmed the bench for the best part of IPL 1 and was played in three games. But in his debut game against Delhi Daredevils, Goswami had created a fine impression both in front and behind the wickets. He had struck a superb 52 off just 42 deliveries with 7 fours and a six as well for his miniature frame. Unfortunately for him, Royal Challengers lost the match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. After four straight defeats and just one win from five games, Royal Challengers wrung in a lot of changes to their playing eleven. While Robin Uthappa cooled his heels, Goswami and the other 19-year-old Manish Pandey were out in the middle.

[the article was orginally published at|qo8JJkxA=&MainSectionID=Aw|qo8JJkxA=&SEO=Manish+Pandey,+Shreevats+Pratyush+Goswami&SectionName=||WM0BI9WGM=]

IPL restrains Shilpa Shetty from voting

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan has flown to India from South Africa to cast his vote in the 2009 general elections. Actress Shilpa Shetty regrets that she won't be able to exercise her franchise this time because of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

'I just regret the fact that I won't be in India to cast my vote; I really wanted to this time. Elections have to be taken seriously if you are a responsible citizen. Unfortunately with the unexpected turn of events and the IPL being shifted to SA it's become difficult. I would not miss voting for anything otherwise,' the actress posted on her blog

'But to all those Indian citizens who want the best for our country, now is the time to make the decision, don't waste your democratic right to choose. Vote!' she added.

Shilpa is the co-owner of the Rajasthan Royals team of the IPL.

[the article was originally published at]

Pietersen happy to leave on a high

Durban (PTI): Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Kevin Pietersen, who played his last game of this IPL on Wednesday, said it was a great feeling to sign off with a victory and hoped his side can carry forward the momentum in the remainder of the tournament.

Under Pietersen, Royal Challengers started their IPL campaign on a fairytale note, beating defending champions Rajasthan Royals in the inaugural match of the high-profile event.

Thereafter, the Bangalore outfit lost four successive games only to return to winning ways defeating Kolkata Knight Riders by five wickets.

"Yeah I'm very happy. Came and won the first game, didn't go quite as planned in the middle but to go back now winning the last game feels great. Hopefully, the boys will carry forward from here and use the momentum for the rest of the tournament," said Pietersen, who will return home to join the national team for the Test series against the West Indies starting next week at Lord's.

"But in this form of the game, still there is lot of work to do. We just need to play as well as we can," he added.

[the article was originally published at]

Delhi looks to foil Deccan's charge today

For the past year-and-a half, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have become synonymous with success. However, they have failed to make their presence felt in the IPL so far, which is surprising given how prolific they've been. "We have been doing well for the last one-and-a-half years, so I think we were bound to fail some time," said Sehwag.

Point taken, but they will need to get into the groove as the Delhi Daredevils next face the Deccan Chargers, a team riding high on the back of its openers Adam Gilchrist and Herschelle Gibbs. They have been the most prolific and consistent opening pair in the league so far, keeping the Chargers a notch above the rest. "It's just going well for us. We have brought in quite a few changes in the team, and they seem to be working for us," said Gilchrist.

The amiable Australian, however, didn't agree that Gibbs and he gave the Chargers an edge over Delhi. "We all know how dangerous Sehwag and Gambhir can be. We are wary of them and they have the middle order clicking for them. So we just can't afford to entertain these thoughts," he said.

The middle order, especially AB de Villiers and Tillakaratne Dilshan, have been exceptional, given that they've had to absorb the failure of the openers and then place their team in a winning position. "It's a good sign for the team that every time someone is doing the job for us," Sehwag said, placing his finger on individuals coming good at different times.

The defeat against the Rajasthan Royals would have surely driven home the point that the Daredevils can't afford another flop show from the openers.

The teams don't seem to have worries about their bowling. The Delhi bowlers might have had a few nightmares in the wake of Yusuf Pathan's brutal hitting on Tuesday, but it was clear that no attack could have stopped him, given the way he was middling the ball.

Brace up for what is going to be a cracker of a match.

[the article was oringially published at]

Punjab struggle to 119-8 against Mumbai in IPL

Kumar Sangakkara top-scored with an unbeaten 45 not out as King Kings XI Punjab limped to 119-8 against the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier league on Wednesday.

Lasith Malinga was the pick of the bowlers for Mumbai, taking 2-12 from his four overs.

Sangakkara was the only batsmen to make a real impression against the Mumbai attack, with opener opener Karan Goel the next highest scorer with 12.

Goel was the first wicket to fall, stumped by wicketkeper Pinal Shah after missing a ball from Harbhajan Singh in the fourth over.

Punjab failed to add to its score and were reduced to 2-18 when Ravi Bopara (6) was caught in the slips by Sachin Tendulkar off Dwayne Bravo.

Captain Yuvraj Singh (10) then failed to clear long-on with a low stroke off JP Duminy and was caught by Zaheer Khan.,

Mahela Jayawardene was also caught at long on for seven by Shikhar Dhawan, reducing Punjab to 4-52. Irfan Pathan was the next to fall, suprised by Zaheer Khan's extra bounce, and caught in the deep by Dwayne Bravo for seven.

Malinga got his first wicket when a ferocious inswinger hit Wilkin Mota (5) on the pads and found the stumps.

Two balls later Malinga clean bowled Piyush Chawla with a full delivery for 5.

Ramesh Powar was run out in in the last over by Shah for 10.

[the article was oringially published at]

T20 has nothing to do with age says Tendulkar

DURBAN: Old pros have certainly put up some of the best performances of the IPL so far and Sachin Tendulkar believes that Twenty20 format has nothing to do with age as it is thought to be by many.

Tendulkar has himself led the way for Mumbai Indians along with Sanath Jayasurya while the performance of Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly in the IPL have given further strentgh to the batting maestro's claim.

''I don't know who says that it's a young man's game.

Clearly, he doesn't know much about cricket. It's a cricketers' game so it really doesn't matter whether you are young or old.

It is a cricketer's match,'' Tendulkar told the official IPL website (

Both Tendulkar and Jayasuriya, who is pushing 40, handed out a stern lesson to one and all in Mumbai Indians' win against Kolkata Knight Riders.

Both the batsmen also put up the highest opening partnership of the tournament. Just earlier in the day the other senior pros, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist and Herschelle Gibbs showed just why they are still feared.

Tendulkar showed the way to Mumbai Indians in their last match with a match-winning 68 against Knight Riders which included a lot of power hitting and innovation as well.

The cheeky shot that he played off Chris Gayle certainly showed that age has nothing to do with this format. He scooped the ball from close to the short third man and got himself a boundary.

''That was an innovative stroke. I wouldn't say it is the most innovative one ever that I have played. But it was something different,'' said Tendulkar.

He shared a stand worth 127 with Jayasuriya and was all praise for his old comrade.

''It's fantastic, even last year I enjoyed batting at the other end and it was fantastic. He has got excellent hand-eye co-ordination, very quick feet, very quick hands. Needless to say that he is one of the best strikers in the world.

The rate at which the master blaster was going against the Knight Riders, a century was very much on the cards but the Mumbaikar does not have any regrets.

''I am not playing for 100s, I am playing for the team.

And, if I score a hundred even better for the team. The idea is not to chase a 100. If it comes my way it's fine.
''As long as my contribution is there for the team, that is what matters. If it has helped us to get to a good total, I am a happy person.''

[the article was originally published at]

Steyn out of IPL for another week

Johannesburg: The Royal Challengers, battling in the IPL (Indian Premier League) here with just one win after five games, will be without pacer Dale Steyn until next weekend as he nurses a broken thumb.

The Royal Challengers will take on Kolkata Knight Riders in the first of a double header in the IPL at Sahara Kingsmead Stadium in Durban Wednesday in an attempt to move from the bottom of the log.

But they will continue to be without Steyn, who failed to appear in the last three Challenger games in the series after suffering the injury during the match at Cape Town last Wednesday in which his side succumbed to the Deccan Chargers.

While the injury was kept a secret until now, informed sources within the South African cricket squad said it was "a blessing in disguise" that Steyn was injured, as two weeks recovery time will allow him a much-needed break.

The Challengers though, will want Steyn back as soon as possible as coach Ray Jennings and captain Kevin Pietersen are under pressure to perform.

The encounter with the Kolkata Knight Riders will be the last game for Pietersen in the tournament as he has to return to England for the home series against the West Indies.

South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis is widely being touted to take over the Challengers' captaincy.

[the article was originally published at]

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

English players left lagging as IPL innovators lead the way

"Watch ball, hit ball." This was as profound as Virender Sehwag's masterclass got the other day when he was asked for some advice by Paul Collingwood, his Delhi Daredevils team-mate here in South Africa. For adherents to the G Boycott school of batting, the mantra will come as a disappointment. But for England's players at the Indian Premier League and way, way beyond, it may just be the most useful snippet they will ever hear.

To be an English hack in South Africa these last few days has been - give or take a few breaks for food and sleep - to enter into conversation about the problem with Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen. (Poor old Colly hasn't even made it on to the field; neither have Owais Shah or Graham Napier.) Theories have abounded. So here's another. And it's unlikely to be patented any time soon.

The Slower Ball Theory states that English cricketers are flummoxed by innovation. Flintoff himself admitted his only variation was to bowl a bit quicker and duly flew home for an operation on Friday with IPL figures of 11-0-105-2 after AB de Villiers had taught him a painful lesson about predictability in Durban. Pietersen is less culpable, being England's innovator par excellence, but even he was undone when Kings XI Punjab's Yusuf Abdulla gave him a slower one last week. The result: caught at extra cover second ball for a duck.

This was the tournament that was supposed to show the world how badly the IPL had missed the English in 2008. That was the theory, anyway. But all we've had to show so far is Ravi Bopara's sparkling 84 against Pietersen's Bangalore. When he told this column last night that "I've learned how to open the batting in Twenty20 cricket", the pessimism was briefly stalled. But not for the first time in the history of the limited-overs game, England are being left behind.

Whether or not the Spin would currently be walking around South Africa proudly waving the cross of St George if England's players had been made available for last year's IPL is another matter. The suspicion of otherness, so inherent in English cricket, may have been ingrained decades ago. And it goes hand in hand with the tendency Collingwood picked out when we chatted two nights ago in Port Elizabeth.

"I keep asking Sehwag, 'What's going on technically in your mind when the bowler's running in? Are you saying, I've got to get this right?' And he says: 'No, no, no, watch ball, hit ball.' In England we think about our feet being in the right place, hands going through. We over-complicate it." Hallelujah for the honesty.

But the indoctrination is endemic. In his recently published diary of the 2008 season, Pavilion to Crease ... And Back, the Nottinghamshire batsman Mark Wagh recalls asking his former Warwickshire team-mate Brad Hogg "about his pre-delivery movements". He goes on: "Should I go back and across or press with the front foot?" Hogg, the former Australian left-arm wrist-spinner, replies: "Not a clue, mate, sorry." Wagh's conclusion? "It's funny how aiming to middle every ball causes the rest of your game to fall into place."

Very few possess either the lightning-fast reflexes or eagle eye of Sehwag; even fewer can combine them. But that is no reason for England to play their one-day cricket as if they are knocking it about on a Sunday afternoon at Bath in the John Player League. If Flintoff's latest injury is a worry, then his failure to develop a variation other than quick/quicker is damning. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the only format of the game in which Flintoff is a consistently world-beating bowler is 50-over cricket. In Tests, he lacks penetration; in Twenty20, imagination. Only in ODIs, where batsmen are still allowed a measure of caution, do his back-of-a-length heavy balls pull their weight.

Pietersen's problems here have been less symptomatic. Perhaps he's falling prey to the other English disease of sheer nervous exhaustion. But where was his customary trademark bravado when he was poking and prodding at Pragyan Ojha in Cape Town last week? On Sunday Pietersen insisted he was learning lessons about Twenty20, but England need him to learn them fast. Without him on top form in the World Cup in June, England's chances go from slim to non-existent.

Really though, if they do perform well, they will be bucking a trend. Bopara did it during his 59-ball innings last week, when he provided an object lesson in how time a Twenty20 innings and play the percentages. But can the rest follow? As we've done so many times in the past, it's little more than a case of hoping for the best. Or at least not the worst.

[the article was originally published at]

Google Enhances SMS Search in India

Google India has updated its SMS Search functionality to add more content -- namely IPL related stuff and commodity prices in a bid to attract more users.

Launched back in 2007, the service went through a similar update last year with the SMS number being changed to 9-77-33-00000. The best part of this service is that you do not need to pay premium charges for each SMS sent.

As for the new SMS keywords, SMS 'cri' to 9-77-33-00000 for varied content on cricket in general; send 'cri IPL' for instant IPL scores, 'cri IPL ' (for example 'cri IPL knight riders') for your favorite team score and 'cri ranji' for domestic match updates. SMS 'price gold', 'price oil', or 'price cotton' to know the MCX spot prices for these commodities. To learn more, sms 'help commodity' to 9-77-33-00000.

There is also this nice little time finder service if you want to know what the time is it "now" in a city of your choice. Simply SMS 'time ' to 9-77-33-00000. For example, 'time new york' and you will receive your answer within seconds.

Those looking for train related details of Indian railways, the service has been enhanced to provide seat availability and fare information as well. For example, to check the seat availability for April 24 on train #1018, going from Bangalore to Mumbai, simply SMS 'train avail 1018 Bangalore to Mumbai on 24-04' or if you want to know the fare for sleeper class, SMS 'train fare 1018 Bangalore to Mumbai for SL'. To learn more, SMS 'help train' to 9-77-33-00000.

You might want to visit for more. If SMS is what you prefer, key in 'help' and send it to 9-77-33-00000.

[the article was originally published at]

Super Kings will win IPL : Gony

He took 17 wickets from 16 matches in the inaugural Indian Premier League season. He belongs to the team that missed the IPL crown by a whisker last year. Strong-built, tall and a match-winner, he's none other than - Chennai Super Kings' Manpreet Gony.

The cash-rich twenty20 tournament gave him a platform to show his mettle to the cricket pundits and he finally, made his debut in Tri-Nation Series in Bangladesh in 2008. caught hold of him while he was rushing to the team party in Port Elizabeth and talked about Chennai's chances of winning the title this season and what he thinks of Andrew Flintoff's arrival in the side.

Were you satisfied with your performance in the opening match though Chennai lost it?
Yes, I am quite satisfied and I am feeling good about my performance. Winning and losing is just part of the game.

Last year your team was runner-up. What do you think are your prospects this season?
We will win the title this time.

Does the inclusion of Andrew Flintoff makes any difference to the side?
Definitely. He helps the boys in the fielding and bowling department. And especially, he gives me tips to improve my bowling.

If given a chance, what is that one thing you would want to change in the team so that it could fetch you the 2008 title?
Nothing really, it wasn't really in our destiny I guess but we will win it this time.

Do you think IPL can facilitate your selection for the Twenty20 World Cup squad?
Yes, certainly. I am working very hard for it.

What is team's greatest strength?
Our all-round performance.

[the article was originally published at]

Mumbai Indians beat Knight Riders by 92 runs

Port Elizabeth: Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya turned on their charm and made mockery of Twenty20 cricket being a young man's game as both posted breezy half-centuries to guide Mumbai Indians to a 92-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders in their Indian Premier League match.

The 36-year-old Tendulkar's 45-ball 68 was laced with six boundaries and four sixes, including one that went over the park.

His opening partner, the 39-year-old Jayasuriya scored 52 off 32 balls with four sixes and two boundaries as the Mumbai Indians raced to 187 for six at St George's Park.

Knight Riders opening pair of Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum needed to match the veteran duo but disappointed as the Shah Rukh Khan-owned side capitulated for 95.

Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly and Australian Brad Hodge staged a brief fightback but once their 54-run partnership was brought to an end by Abhishek Nayar, it was one way traffic as Lasith Malinga ripped through the tail.

Ganguly topscored for the Knight Riders, with a 30-ball 34, hitting a six and three fours while Hodge scored 24 off 22 balls with the help of three boundaries.

Earlier, it was the right-left combination of Tendulkar and Jayasuriya that did all the damage.

[the article was originally published at]

Monday, April 27, 2009

Deccan Chargers is the team to beat now

Three matches into the Indian Premier League’s second edition, Deccan Chargers have accomplished what they couldn’t in the whole of last year’s campaign - three wins.

If last year they resembled a cluster of super stars terribly presumptuous of their potential, playing as if the whole concept of team-effort was superfluous, they have displayed considerable efficacy and swagger this time around.

So what exactly catalysed this riposte? Not that the whole side was dispensed off and a bunch of motivated players, humble and unassuming ala Royals’ script, have conjured this turnaround.

The fulcrum had been more or less the same, only that all-rounders Shahid Afridi and Andrew Symonds and Darren Lehman as the coach are missing.

The most noticeable change was their redesigned strip.

Their acquisitions this year - West Indians Fidel Edwards and Dwayne Smith - hardly had any bidders in the transfer market. But both have been quite handy so far. Edwards set the tone for their campaign with his unnerving pace, though errant, against Kolkata Knight Riders. Importantly, he has harmonised canny opening salvos with RP Singh, on whose head rests the Purple Cap with eight wickets.

Though deemed extremely talented, RP couldn’t quite cement his place in the national side. Bursts of waywardness coupled with injury had retarded his progress and he subsequently missed the New Zealand tour.

But in South Africa, RP had been disciplined without compromising on his pace.

While his ability to procure seam movement both ways and hit the deck hard had seldom been scrutinised, his improved yorker makes him an even more effective bowler.

So if Edwards doesn’t get you, RP will. That no opening pair has managed to survive the first two overs against them, underscores their worth.

Equally impressive had been their opening batsmen Adam Gilchrist and Herschelle Gibbs, both marauding match-winners. Maybe, only Delhi Daredevils’ Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir can be termed equals in terms of ability, but not experience. While Gilchrist was amongst the runs last year as well, Gibbs striking form has made a world of difference to DC. Last year, he squeezed only 167 runs in nine innings, a tally he certainly seems to overhaul in IPL 2 (already has 114 runs).

Making a discernible difference to his side’s fortunes is left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who spun them to a 12- run win over Mumbai Indians, considered a pre-tournament favourite. Besides his slight variations in pace, he has been unhesitant to toss the ball, and thereby extracted sufficient turn to trouble batsmen.

While Rohit Sharma seemed to regain silken touch, Dwayne Smith struck a breezy 35 off 22 against Mumbai to underline his value. If VVS Laxman, Ravi Teja and Y Venugopal Rao, can chip in with runs, Chargers can consolidate on their blustery start to the IPL.

[the article was originally published at|qo8JJkxA=&MainSectionID=Aw|qo8JJkxA=&SEO=Fidel+Edwards,+VVS+Laxman,+Dwayne+Smith,+Ravi+Teja&SectionName=||WM0BI9WGM=]

Punjab beats Rajasthan by 27 runs in IPL

Kings XI Punjab produced a fine bowling and fielding performance to beat defending champion the Rajasthan Royals by 27 runs in an Indian Premier League match Sunday at Newlands.

After batting first and scoring 139-6, Punjab's bowlers restricted Rajasthan to 112-7 bowling a full length and swinging the ball sharply.

South African pace bowler Yusuf Abdulla was the pick of the bowlers with 3-21, while allrounder Irfan Pathan and spinner Piyush Chawla both chipped in with two wickets apiece.

Rajasthan were on the backfoot as early as the second over when Swapnil Asnodkar (3) was caught by Ramesh Powar off a delivery from Pathan.

Graeme Smith (2) then edged a swinging Pathan delivery to wickekeeper Kumar Sangakkara to leave Rajasthan on two wickets down with just nine runs on the board.

The only two Rajasthan players to make any real impression with the bat were Ravindra Jadeja, who made 37 off 44 balls before he was bowled by Abdulla, and captain Shane Warne who struck an unbeaten 34.

Warne was clearly unimpressed with his team's effort.

"We haven't found the right combination," Warne said. "the blokes at the top are not doing a good job. We've got to find a solution. The bowlers are not firing."

His opposite number Yuvray Singh praised Sangakkara, who struck 60 _ including seven fours and one six _ and Irfan Pathan, who scored 39 off 33 balls for lifting Punjab to a respectable total.

"We needed a partnership and those two gave us that," he said. "We defended the total nicely too."

Punjab had slumped to 4-48 before Sangakkara and Pathan came to the rescue.

[the article was originally published at]

Shah Rukh takes an IPL break to vote

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan will take a break from following his Kolkata Knight Riders team in the Indian Premier League tournament being played across South Africa to cast his vote in the Indian elections.

Having politely declined earlier offers to join political rallies of any South African parties in the run-up to the elections here last Wednesday, which was overwhelmingly won by the African National Congress (ANC), Khan will head back to India on Wednesday, together with his family, wife Gauri and children Aryan and Suhana.

Khan had reportedly been approached by ANC leaders in Durban prior to the first IPL games there a few days before the elections here. Other IPL team owners Preity Zinta of the Kings XI Punjab and Shilpa Shetty of the Rajasthan Royals had reportedly also declined offers to appear at political rallies.

Zinta said they had to maintain their political neutrality, just as they did in India.

None of the Bollywood stars would comment on the political mantle that has been assumed by one of their ilk, Sanjay Dutt, who is embroiled in a controversy with his participation in the Indian elections. Dutt had been widely publicised as putting in an appearance at an ANC rally in Durban last month, but failed to appear, citing personal problems.

Unlike South African citizens abroad, who this year were allowed to cast their votes at missions there after potential voters won a high court appeal in this regard, Indian citizens abroad cannot vote, except for diplomatic staff.

Mission officials here were also not sure whether the players in the IPL teams would be allowed to cast their ballots here, but the consensus appeared to be that this would not be permitted.

Khan said he had warned his team that if they did well in his absence, he would return; if not, he would be shouting at them from India.

[the article was originally published at]

IPL-II has warmed up nicely

The IPL-II has now warmed up nicely. At least six of the eight teams could have a real shot at the title and this implies suspense which is essential to any good sporting event.

The laggards are Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore and unfortunately, both only have tougher days ahead.

Knight Riders would lose Chris Gayle on his national duty and that means the face of the team’s batting is gone.

Brendon McCullum hasn’t been the same free-spirited batsman since being the captain but then he is always looking over the shoulder to see how many hands are up for the challenge in his absence.
Inspirational leadership

Lightweight batting needs inspirational leadership, such as Shane Warne provides to his team regularly.

In bowling too, a lot has come to rest on Ishant Sharma who hasn’t been his normal self. There are tough days ahead for KKR.

Royal Challengers is licking its own wounds. Kevin Pietersen is criticised for its ills and that is understandable since he is the most expensive buy of the tournament.

Rahul Dravid and Jacques Kallis are alright but they need a Hulk Hogan of a striker in their ranks.

Of the rest, Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Dardevils and Deccan Chargers inspire confidence.

All these four teams have an allround balance and that matters. Names such Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, Harbahjan Singh, Suresh Raina, M.S. Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Pragyan Ojha figure in these teams and that is virtually India’s ODI line-up!

These men are worth their weight in gold.

Even their foreign buys are incredible: Sanath Jayasuriya and Lasith Malinga for Mumbai; Matthew Hayden and Muttiah Muralitharan for Chennai; A.B. de Villiers and Daniel Vettori for Delhi and Adam Gilchrist and Fidel Edwards for Hyderabad have been awesome.

All these teams have solid opening bowlers and batsmen and that tell us something about successful teams in this format.

With Andrew Symonds joining the Chargers ranks soon it will be one team to keep an eye on.
Dark horses

Punjab and Jaipur ought to be the dark horses. Punjab, for it has such incredible batting talent as well as two new ball bowlers who can take the best by surprise.

Yusuf Abdulla has no international reputation but try telling this to his domestic opponents in South Africa and they would vouch he is the best going around in T20 circuit.

Irfan Pathan doesn’t inspire fear but unfailingly picks up important wickets.

As for Jaipur, never write it off. It has this uncanny ability to throw up stars out of nowhere. Kamran Khan can be the fizz of this tournament.

The team will only look up when Graeme Smith starts flexing his muscles.

[the article was originally published at]

Will SRK be forbidden from watching IPL?

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan's
smoking act during an Indian Premier League (IPL) match April 21 has not gone down well with the anti-smoking lobby which is trying to ensure that television footage of celebrities smoking should not be broadcast.

The National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE) said in a statement that its counterpart South African National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) is lobbying with the official broadcasters to ensure that footage of smoking, especially by celebrities, should not be broadcast.

"We have sent the details to Supersport, who are the official broadcasters of the IPL and the NCAS is in the process of soliciting an agreement that they will not show anyone smoking," NCAS's convener Peter Ucko informed NOTE.

NCAS has said that television footage showing icons smoking dangerously increases the chances of children and other non smokers picking up the habit as they try to emulate their heroes.

NCAS, in its letter to NOTE, further said that while smoking in public places is still not banned in South Africa, the department of health there was very active in lobbying for the concept of no smoking in public places.

"If Khan does it again we will ask the management to caution him, or we will seek his removal from the stadium," the press note states.

The NCAS has also assured that they would lobby with the chief executive officer of the Wandereres stadium Alam Kourie to enforce the 'no smoking in enclosed areas' law.

"We have also asked the stadium management to make no smoking announcements through the match and during drinks breaks."

[the article was originally published at]

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fake IPL player blogger vanishes

The mole who created ripples in the Indian Premier League (IPL) by spilling out the juicy dressing room gossip of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) has suddenly stopped posting his missives after his blog made waves in the media.

The last time he had made a posting on was Wednesday, after it was reported that the blogger had been identified as an insider in the KKR camp and could be a former player.

"We had a team meeting but hardly anything of note was discussed. Looks like things are secret until the mole is caught. Most guys in contention have been asked to be prepared. Lordie was there in the meeting, although he didn't speak much," the blogger said in his last posting.

The blog has become hugely popular among fans and players as it provides inside information about KKR and also about the IPL parties.

The writer, who claims to be a fringe player in the KKR team, says: "I am a perennial no-hoper. And have no hopes of getting a match in the IPL."

"The team is full of super stars and all I do is bowl a bit, bat a bit, and field like a maniac. But, there's one thing I do very well. Serve drinks. And that's what I am expecting do in South Africa. And throughout the IPL, I will be bringing to you the 'aankhon dekha haal', right from inside the dressing room, meeting room and players' bedrooms," he had written in his first posting Saturday.

Since the first day of the IPL, the blogger has poured out interesting tidbits, including information about team meetings.

The blogger has also given nicknames to cricketers - Lord Almighty (Sourav Ganguly), Calypso King (Chris Gayle), Sheikh of the Tweak (Shane Warne) and Kaan Moloo (Ajit Agarkar).

The popularity of the blog made the KKR team management start a witch hunt for the mole, to the extent of banning laptops and Internet connections from hotel rooms.

KKR team director Joy Bhattacharya said in a statement: "There is a blog spot which purports to be from a member of the KKR entourage. Poison pen writing of the dirtiest variety, but far too many factual errors."

[the article was originally published at]

IPL boss Lalit Modi, must explain trip abroad

An Indian court has ordered Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi to explain why he has left the country without its permission.

Mr Modi, who is accused of cheating and forgery, is on bail. He is in South Africa for the IPL's second tournament.

He denies charges that he failed to give money to victims of last year's Jaipur bomb blasts as promised.

The IPL was moved to South Africa for security reasons because its timing clashed with India's general elections.

Mr Modi says a large part of the promised $1.18m has already been given to the government and that only a small amount remains to be paid.


Justice SP Pathak of Rajasthan High Court asked Mr Modi why his bail should not be cancelled.

According to the complaint filed by a Rajasthan-based group, Nagrik Morcha, Mr Modi promised the money to then Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje for the victims of last May's Jaipur blasts. The group, which is opposed to Mr Modi, says the entire amount was never deposited.

Mr Modi's lawyer had argued in court that more than $1m had already been deposited with the government.

The court gave bail to Mr Modi on the condition that he would not leave India without prior permission.

Mr Modi is a deeply ambitious, colourful and controversial character who is known for his brashness.

He moved the star-studded, multimillion-dollar IPL's second season to South Africa after concerns over security in India, because of a clash of dates with the general elections.

[the article was originally published at]

The Fake IPL Player blog

It’s an insider’s job — someone who’s not in favour with the current management. It has to be an Indian. But it could or couldn’t be a player. There are many names which come to mind on the basis of the language — Akash Chopra, Murali Kartik or Ajit Agarkar. The person is very good with the language so that’s also an indication.

Fmr India team member & Ranji player

It could be written by someone who is in the thick of things. It could also be someone from the management who isn’t happy with the decisions taken right now. But I guess, a player would not be jeopardizing his career by writing such blogs. The fact that he mentions his brother could also be a distraction — the brother could be an uncle or friend in India. From the lingo, it could be someone who’s been in England as the names used to refer to the players are British. It can also be a player-turned-commentator.

Ashok Malhotra FMR cricketer & national selector
I have no clue about the blog. I am sitting miles away and I’ve no clue about what is going on in the KR camp. I played my cricket on the field and never knew what happened off it. So I’m unable to comment on it. It can also be a marketing ploy, but who knows?

Sambaran Banerjee FMR cricketer & National Selector
People are talking about players who might have done it, but we’ve to keep in mind that even support staff attend team meetings along with the players and interact with team members. Nobody seems to be questioning them.

Sourasish Lahiri
Player, Knight Riders
I was with the team last year. I know the kind of brainstorming that happens during team meeting and the kind of ideas seniors exchange. The entire affair is confidential. I don’t think any player is involved as he knows that once caught, his career will be over. Maybe, some other person, closely associated with the team is doing it deliberately.

Snehasish Ganguly, FMR cricketer & elder brother of Sourav Ganguly
I don’t how this can happen in the presence of the team owner, coach and captains. I don’t think people associated with the team are doing it. Maybe, someone else is at fault. It’s up to the team owners to find who’s responsible..

Ex-Bengal cricketer who is closely associated with Knight Riders
This is nothing but a marketing strategy of Knight Riders. They are doing it in an a well-planned manner. Things are not so easy that a player can write a blog and the team owner, coach and captain will have no clue about it. The team is reaping huge benefits from it.

A FMR Bengal cricketer & columnist
One has to remember that betting is extremely popular in South Africa. Obviously, this kind of blog will help those associated with the betting industry. We might not know now the amount of money generated by this ‘fake player’s blog’ concept. But in future, this might be just another money making model for the team. This is nothing but a well-chalked out marketing strategy.

Utpal Chatterjee Coach, Bengal cricket team
Players are earning big bucks from the IPL. They don’t need to earn extra. And players will never do it without informing the coach, media manager and team owners. It’s a publicity stunt.

PS: A source close to Knight Riders suggests that the media agency and the team owners are behind this.

[the article was originally published at]

IPL cannot afford to be complacent on corruption threat: ICC

Indian Premier League's refusal to take the ICC's help in dealing with the threat of match fixing is not much of a concern for the governing body but it has warned that the cash-rich Twenty20 event remains very vulnerable to corruption.

"The board has consistently said it cannot afford to be complacent (about the risk of corruption in Twenty20 cricket)," ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat told 'Cricinfo'.

"We are mindful that with Twenty20 cricket there is great excitement and money. Put those ingredients into a pot and there is a higher concern," he added.

The IPL has hired private staff to deal with possible wrongdoings at the event underway in South Africa and Lorgat said the ICC doesn't have any issues with it as the home board, the BCCI, is fully responsible for ensuring that the event remains corruption-free.

"It is not dissimilar to county cricket, in that it is a domestic tournament, and the onus for matters such as anti-corruption and doping lie with the home board," he said.

[the article was originally published at]

IPL turns the tables

The going up to now in the IPL has been great. This year the points table seems to be absolutely reversed. Deccan Chargers who were at the bottom of the table last year have climbed up the tables and are heading the list with 4 points. Though these are early days the indications for the Deccan Chargers seem to be good.

Rajathan Royal is finding the going a bit tough as they rely too much on Indian players. These Indian players are not familiar with South African pitches.

The less said about Bangalore’s Royal Challengers the better. Delhi and Chennai are doing well as expected. Kolkata seems to have too many lose ends and their internal fights seem to bring them down.

Mumbai Indians with veterans like Sachin Tendulkar and Jayasurya are tipped to be the surprise favorites. Though nothing can be said with confidence, one thing is for sure, and that is a tough fight is on among the best teams in IPL2.

[the article was originally published at]

Thursday, April 23, 2009

IPL is still not a stunner

The second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is in its first week and if one goes by the TV ratings the Twenty20 showpiece has failed to generate the kind of interest it did last year.

The IPL, which coincides with the general election in India, has opened with lower TV ratings as compared to last year.

A survey conducted by viewership rating agency Television Audience Measurement (TAM), revealed that the TRP ratings of the two matches on the opening day of the IPL II, was at lowly 5.55 and 5.54 percent, respectively, as compared to last year's figure of 8.21.

But what has added to the lower ratings have been boring finishes and the rain.

Unlike last year, matches have hardly been exciting due to low scores on bowler friendly South African pitches and the rain has also proved to be a dampner. Outcome of two matches have had to be decided by the Duckworth-Lewis Method while one match was washed out due to rain.

The only close match in the league so far has been the opener, where Mumbai Indians defeated last year's finalists Chennai Super Kings by just 19 runs.

The highest victory margin was Chennai Super Kings' 92-run win over Bangalore Royal Challengers Wednesday.

[the article was originally published at]

Dada is a dude for Knight Riders says Shah Rukh

Sourav Ganguly may no longer be the captain of Kolkata Knight Riders, but team owner Shah Rukh Khan feels the former Indian skipper is still a "dude" and pivotal in the side's scheme of things in the on-going IPL.

"Dada is fantastic and there is no two ways about it. He does not need to prove it to anyone how great as a player he is. We know it in KKR. He's the main cog of our team. He's the guy the team centres around," Shah Rukh said in praise of Ganguly.

"(Brendon) McCullum, (Chris) Gayle, Brad (Hodge), David (Hussey), Ishant (Sharma), (Ashok) Dinda, Laxmi Ratan (Shukla) all feel the support from him, feel his intelligence, feel his winning ways. Dada is a dude," said the Bollywood superstar.

Shah Rukh also felt that Ganguly's two wickets for 24 runs tilted the match in his team's favour against Kings XI Punjab.

"Against Kings XI Punjab he was amazing with those couple of wickets. When Dada came on and got those two early wickets it changed the match in our favour and after that also he sort of kept them quiet and scared. I think that made a lot of difference," he was quoted as saying by IPL official website.

Shah Rukh said it was too early to start celebrating after his team posted its first win in two games by beating Kings XI Punjab.

"It's good for the team that it has started coming together. Our top-order whether it's Ishant Sharma (in bowling) or Sourav Ganguly, Brendon McCullum and Chris Gayle (batting) all are coming good together. We did not play too hot on the first day. I think the first match would be considered as a practice match and we are working on the mistakes committed on day one. The team is working together and that's what makes me feel a little more firm and good. But there is still a long way to go," he said.

Shah Rukh had a tough choice when asked who he thinks is bigger hitter between Chris Gayle or Brendon McCullum. "It is very difficult to say that. With Gayle we have a bet that he has to send one ball from South Africa to Kolkata and with McCullum we have that he has to send one back to New Zealand. We'll find out who is going to win. "I think both have their different strengths. Gayle has this timing and strength, McCullum has all timing and bliss.

McCullum is more like (Virender) Sehwag who times the ball whereas Gayle has got this strength like Yuvraj Singh. You can't really choose between them, they are both fantastic and when they both get going it is fantastic to watch."

[the article was originally published]

Laxman will play a huge role says Gilchrist

Cape Town: VVS Laxman's bat might not have done the talking so far but Deccan Chargers skipper Adam Gilchrist remains unperturbed and said the Hyderabad would bounce back and play a huge role in the upcoming matches.

Laxman, who was the captain in the first edition of the Indian Premier League, scored just 10 runs against Kolkata Knight Riders and five in yesterday's match against Bangalore Challengers but Gilchrist said he was not at all concerned.

"Look I have got no concern there. His innings today showed plenty of intent. He is as keen as anyone else to make sure that he plays his role in this team. It's early days and I have got no doubt that he can play a huge part in us going forward," Gilchrist said.

The former Australian wicketkeeper also lavished praise on his deputy Rohit Sharma and pacer RP Singh, saying the two have donned the role of senior players in the team very well and are leading by example.

"Look Rohit as he did last year in the IPL what a world class player he is. He has been contributing to India in a very solid manner for a few years now. So too, RP. He has come back well from injury, RP. In the months leading up to a few tours for India he was out injured. He has come back really strongly. His work ethic at the moment is just fantastic."

"In fact, all the boys are just working really hard on extra fitness, extra training. So that's really pleasing. That's what we wanted to do, just to lift our tempo a little bit," Gilchrist said.

"So those two guys as senior players though they are young men. They have senior roles in the team. It's nice to see them leading and the other players following," he said.

Tagged as laggards last year, the Chargers have started off with a flier in the second IPL and Gilchrist said they have worked on certain areas to clear the chinks in their Armour.

"There are a number of things that we identified that we needed to fix. I won't go into great detail into them. We have worked hard in certain areas," he said after the 24-run win against Bangalore Royal Challengers yesterday. We have started with a very impressive performance in the first game. We have backed up again here probably not quite convincing. But certainly positive signs so we will just keep training to replicate those things in the next game," he added.

[the article was originally published at]

Delhi Daredevils opt to bat against Super Kings

DURBAN: Delhi Daredevils captain Virender Sehwag won the toss and opted to bat against Chennai Super Kings in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Kingsmead here Thursday.

This is a crucial tie for both teams, especially for the Chennai Super Kings as they have lost a match to the Mumbai Indians on opening day.

The Daredevils have a win against Kings XI Punjab in their first match, which had been marred by intermittent rain.

[the article was originally published at|qo8JJkxA=&MainSectionID=ngGbWGz5Z14=&SectionName=||WM0BI9WGM=&SEO=Daredevils,%20super%20kings,%20IPL]

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Shah Rukh dreams of victory lap with IPL trophy in Kolkata

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan admitted his team Kolkata Knight Riders is under a lot of pressure to perform due to the multiple-captaincy controversy in the second edition in Indian Premier League (IPL).

Shah Rukh said a fan following in a city like Kolkata also adds to the pressure. He hopes to win the IPL trophy this time around for Kolkata and take out a victory march in the city.

"I know the team is under a lot of pressure after the multiple captains, the choice of captain and all that. At the moment the team is under a bit of disarray, but we will stick together. We have started doing it," Shah Rukh said after KKR logged their first points, beating Kings XI Punjab by 11 runs via D/L method.

"My team is under more pressure because it is owned by a film star and then you have such fan following, the backing of a city that supports you one night and gets angry the next night."

"But I know they understand and they love the team. I am waiting for the day when I will go around Kolkata with the IPL trophy. I am sure the day will come," he said.

KKR coach John Buchanan's multiple-captain theory has brewed up a heated debate as Ganguly was replaced by Brendon McCullum as the new captain.

Shah Rukh hailed Ganguly as the most important member of his side.

"He has been a great player for the country. I hope he emerges as the player of the tournament."

Asked about the difference between cricket and acting, Shah Rukh said there are no 're-takes' on the field.

"The decisions have to be taken in split seconds so lot of time we are hoping that it is right. It is very difficult in the middle."

[the article was originally published at]

Rajasthan Royals look to strike form against a rejuvenated KKR

Defending champions Rajasthan Royals will look for a quick turnaround in their fortunes, while a rejuvenated Kolkata Knight Riders would aim to carry on the winning momentum when the two sides clash in an Indian Premier League match here on Thursday.

Without big stars in their ranks, the Royals have a tough task at hand after the thrashing in their campaign opener and second game against Mumbai Indians being washed out.

Shane Warne's side started its campaign by restricting Bangalore Royal Challengers to just 133 with the legendary spinner leading from the front but that total proved to be a mountain for the Royals as they were bundled out for just 58, the second lowest IPL total.

The Rajasthan youngsters failed to get the measure of another legendary figure in Anil Kumble who throttled them with a five-wicket haul.

In that match, the highest score by any Rajasthan batsman was 11 and they would be itching to leave behind that nightmare by coming good against Knight Riders who have also not done anything exceptional as yet.

Knight Riders, on the other hand, got over their first match disappointment, with a nine-wicket victory over Kings XI Punjab on Tuesday.

West Indian Chris Gayle exhibited his awesome batting prowess while Sourav Ganguly rolled his golden arm to great effect to compensate for his batting failure in the first match.

Warne would expect a better show from his batsmen as their opponents have a strong batting line-up.

"It is pretty disappointing. As champions we wanted to impose ourselves. We were exceptional in bowling and fielding but batsmen could not do well," Warne has said.

"Shot selection was really bad. I think the top 3-4 batsmen could have shown sensibility and played sensible shots. But I promise to come back strong," Warne had said after their first match defeat.

Knight Riders' captain Brendon McCullum, on the other hand, insisted that all was well in KKR camp after the captaincy row.

"It was a nice result after the first match defeat and we bounced back at the right time to gain some momentum. Sourav bowled exceptionally well. In Twenty20 one has to think quickly and I am happy that my decision to bowl him paid rich dividends," he had said.

More than the outcome of the match, it will be an intriguing contest between Warne and Gayle. Warne would also came face to face with old foe Ganguly and the fans could be in for a treat.

[the article was originally published at]

Flying high - Shilpa Shetty

Now that the much awaited IPL has started in full swing, can Bollywood be far behind! Even though the cricket
tournament isn't being held in India this year, it just hasn't failed to dilute the Indian populace into a frenzied sports driven mania. One can only wait and watch the 'resultant' of the marriage of Bollywood and cricket.

One such initial 'resultant' is in the form of the latest issue of Hi Living, which has got Shilpa Miss Long Legs Shetty, on the cover. Keeping up with the extreme pace of the game, Shilpa drapes herself in some exquisite clothing, thus raising the temperatures on field as well as off it! One must say that, the Shetty girl has really gone all out to promote her team Rajasthan Royals, with a music video et al.

Making this month's issue of Hi! Living a must read is Shilpa Shetty and her style quotient that can give the even the most glamorous of the models a run for their moolah!

[the article was originally published at]

I am loving every bit of the IPL - Shilpa Shetty

A lot is happening in Shilpa Shetty's life. After 'looting' UP-Bihar, she is all set to win over South Africa in the second season of the Indian Premier League.

On the personal front, Shilpa has finally made her relationship with Raj Kundra official.

Trans World Features correspondent Sreya Basu caught up with the actress, as she talked cricket.

IPL 2 has just started. Let's not talk about who will win and who won't. Just tell us, what is more difficult -- being a Bollywood actor or the Queen of the Rajasthan Royals?

Queen! Sounds so majestically good (giggles). Believe me, I never thought in this way. I always enjoy multi-tasking and being a part of Rajasthan Royals is a completely new experience for me. I am loving every bit of it.

As for my acting, nowadays I really don't have to grind myself for acting. After all, experience bhi toh koi cheez hoti hai!.

[the article was originally published at]

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chennai Super Kings win by 92 runs against Royal Challengers

After facing defeat in their IPL opener, Chennai Super Kings bounced back in style as they beat Royal Challengers by 92 runs in their IPL T20 match at Port Elizabeth.

Electing to bat first, Chennai Super Kings made 179 at the loss of 5 wickets with the help of quickfire knock of 65 runs from the blade of Matthew Hayden. In reply, Bangalore were bundled for just 87 runs in 15.2 overs with Dravid falling as the last man for 20 runs.

Defending the total, Chennai Super Kings bowler MS Dhoni struck in the first over to dismiss Royal Challengers opener Praveen Kumar for a duck. A slower delivery that followed two bouncers, had the leg-stump uprooted.

Jacques Kallis did some repairing work but his outing did not last long and he fell prey to his compatriot Albie Morkel for 24 runs. He caught him plumb with a delivery that was straight and full.

Ross Taylor, who was struggling to break free, threw away his wicket in frustration as a he lofted a ball from 'Freddie' Flintoff and the all-rounder caught him off his own bowling for just 1 run.

Muttiah Muralitharn struck twice in his same over to get rid of the Bangalore skipper Kevin Pietersen and Robin Uthappa. While he trapped KP in line for a naught, Uthappa was foxed by a beauty and was stumped by keeper Dhoni for 20 runs.

Virat Kohli was looking good when Dhoni's safe bet Joginder Sharma struck to send him back for 11 runs. He was caught by S Badrinath. Two balls later, Murali claimed Rajesh Bishnoi with his 'doosra' as his third victim. A flighted delivery had the debutant play it. He went for the shot but could not execute it properly and was taken by L Balaji at long-on.

Balaji soon rewarded himself with the wicket of Vinay Kumar, with the luck surely swung in his favour. Vinay wasted a fulltoss from Balaji as he chipped it directly to Hayden at midwicket. Balaji also had Dravid as the last Bangalore wicket. Dravid was looking to clear the square leg fence but found Flintoff in the deep.

Muralitharan, who dug the grave for Challengers, claimed Dale Steyn as his fourth wicket and walked away with the 'Man of the Match' trophy.

Earlier, the Chennai openers Hayden and Parthiv Patel gave a flying start to their side and added 106 runs for the first wicket with Patel contributing 30 runs. The duo looked to continue the slaughter, but soon after the strategy break after 10 overs captain Kevin Pietersen introduced himself to break the deadly partnership.

KP bowled a fuller and straighter delivery that crashed into the stumps as Patel failed to get behind the line of the ball. The petite batsman from Gujarat struck two fours and a six.

Hayden went the next delivery as he fell short of his crease while responding to Suresh Raina's call. Dravid collected the ball quickly and uprooted the stumps with a good throw.

The former Australian giant slammed a 22-ball fifty, which was his third of the IPL tournament with the help of nine boundaries and two sixes.

Chennai skipper MS Dhoni then joined Raina in the middle and added 38 runs for the third wicket. He was on 16 runs when a leg-cutter from Praveen Kumar did him in. He failed to connect it correctly as the ball took a thick edge of his bat and R Bishnoi took a simple catch at long-off.

Raina fell as Praveen's second victim as he lofted a slower delivery from his UP teammate and was taken successfully by Kohli at long-on for 28 runs.

Albie Morkel, the fifth Chennai batsman, fell to his compatriot Dale Steyn for just 5 runs off the last ball. Morkel tried to make a room to play a quick and fuller delivery from Steyn was his reaction was slower than the ball as his bat hit ground after the ball crashed into the stumps. Flintoff remained unbeaten on 22 runs.

[the article was originaly published at]

Daredevils, the second IPL team to register 10 wicket win

Delhi Daredevils with their victory over Kings XI Punjab became the second team in the Indian Premier League (IPL) to register a 10-wicket win.

Daredevils Sunday also became the first team to post a 10-wicket win in the second edition of the IPL.

The following are the others stats of the match between Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab:

Vettori (3 for 15) recorded his best bowling figures in the IPL, surpassing the 1/19 against Bangalore on April 30, 2008.

Vettori has been adjudged the MOM for the first time in the IPL.

Delhi Daredevils' victory Sunday is their first in three IPL games against Kings XI Punjab.

With their ten-wicket victory, Delhi Daredevils have won eight out of 15 IPL matches contested.

Gambhir's aggregate of 549 runs in the IPL is exceeded only by Shaun Marsh (616).

Karan Goel (38 off 21 balls) posted his highest innings in the IPL, surpassing the 26 off 21 balls against Rajasthan at Jaipur on April 21, 2008.

Ravi Bopara and Karan Goel were associated in a 67-run stand for the first wicket - Kings XI's best for the first wicket against Delhi. The stand is the best for Kings XI for any wicket against Delhi.

Kings XI (102 sixes) became the first team to register 100 sixes in the IPL.

[credit :]

Kings XI, KKR look to get IPL campaign on track

Thoroughly outplayed in their opening matches, Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab will lock horns on Tuesday hoping to haul their Indian Premier League campaign back on track.

Ravaged by injuries that have denied them the services of star players like Shaun Marsh, Brett Lee and S Sreesanth, the Yuvraj Singh-led Kings XI were handed a 10-wicket drubbing by Delhi Daredevils in their rain-truncated opening match on Sunday.

On the same night, Shah Rukh Khan's Kolkata Knight Riders were beaten by eight wickets by last year's bottom-placed Hyderabad Deccan Chargers.

"I want this nightmare to end," said Shah Rukh after the thrashing.

Kolkata, it seemed, were yet to recover from the pre-tournament furore over captaincy, at the end of which Sourav Ganguly was replaced by New Zealand's Brendon McCullum at the helm.

McCullum couldn't have asked for a worse start to his stint but remained optimistic about the team bouncing back in the coming matches.

"It is a long tournament and we will bounce back," he insisted.

Kings XI, on the other hand, are trying to cope with the injury blows that have left them severely depleted.

Last season's highest scorer Marsh, along with tearaway pacer Lee, were out of contention even before the tournament and adding to their woes is the non-availability of all-rounder James Hopes, who is on national duty.

Sreesanth too has been left with the job of promoting the team from the sidelines as a back injury keeps him out of on-field action.

Against a balanced Delhi, Kings XI's batting struggled to hold up and bowling was such that Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir took just a little over four overs to get past a 54-run target that was set for six overs in the rain-shortened game.

The Mohali-based team's batting relies heavily on skipper Yuvraj and Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara, both of whom didn't contribute much in the lost match.

Yuvraj, however, remained hopeful of a turnaround.

"We are happy with the start, off course we can take some positive out of it and we have enough games coming up, so looking forward to that," he said.

[the article was originally published at]

Durban's sumptuous IPL buffet

While all the glitz, glamour and the razzmatazz may have been reserved for Sahara Park Newlands at the weekend for the official opening of the 2009 edition of the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL), South Africa's version of Mumbai-Durban - is eagerly awaiting its turn as the action switches to Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Tuesday.

It's going to be sizzling and very entertaining (even though rain is forecast) according to Cassim Docrat, chief executive of KwaZulu-Natal Cricket, whose venue is being used by the megabuck-loaded Board of Control for Cricket in India for a competition that has turned the cricket world upside down and inside out.

The purists may be squirming and spewing because Twenty20 cricket has taken over the limelight from what had first been traditionally reserved for Test cricket, then the one-day 50-overs game.

But they were the same people who despised the 50-overs game when it hit the scene, thanks to the Kerry Packer circus in the early days.

Now they will need to take it in their stride because the Twenty20 format is here to stay and the officials of the IPL will be dishing out entertainment that has rarely been seen in the world of cricket.

"It's going to be magic," Docrat said. "While the entertainment side of the circus is a key element - it's important because it creates the hype - the cricket is the main part of the whole exercise. All I can say is that one has to be there to enjoy it and soak up what the IPL stands for."

The Kings XI Punjab meet the Kolkata Knight Riders at 12.30pm followed by the defending champions Rajasthan Royals and the Mumbai Indians at 4.30pm. Yuvraj Singh was the man who blasted England's Stuart Broad for six sixes in one over, while posting an unbeaten 58 off just 14 balls at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in the 2007 ICC World Twenty20.

Also in the Kings XI Punjab are Kumar Sangakkara, an exciting and very polished Twenty20 batsman, Ravi Bopara, the England star who has excelled in the short format lately, and Nashua Dolphins Yusuf Abdulla, who signed a contract just recently and will be a great help in the local conditions for the Punjab outfit

Then there's Sourav Ganguly, who may have retired from the international scene but is still a larger-than-life role player in the Kolkata Knight Riders outfit which also includes Brendon McCullum, bought for $700 000 in the auction in 2008 and who smashed a sizzling 158 not out in the opening game at the 100 000 packed Eden Gardens last year.

West Indian Chris Gale, who on his day can be devastating once he gets into the mood, Australian David Hussey, who excels in this form of the game, and South Africa's "swinging" specialist, Charl Langeveldt.

The Mumbai Indians come along with Sanath Jayasuriya who smashed the most sixes last year - 31 in total and had a strike rate of 121.82 in the inaugural tournament, plus the world's batting legend, Sachin Tendulkar, left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, who returns after being banned last year for slapping Sri Shreeshanth of the Kings XI Punjab - all from the rejuvenated Indian national squad.

The other internationals in their side are the rising star JP Duminy, who was bought for almost $1-million in the 2009 auction, Sri Lanka's Dilhara Fernando, Lasith Malinga, West Indian Dwayne Bravo, Kyle Mills of New Zealand and Bangladesh's Muhammad Ashraful.

The defending champions, Rajasthan Royals, may not have the best outfit of all, but their leader - Shane Warne, the former Australian star - has made the mediocre squad believe in themselves and his way of captaining the team has worked wonders.

The players to look forward to are Yusuf Pathan, an all-rounder of class, Tyron Henderson, who comes into the squad at a hefty R675 000 price tag, Dimitri Mascarenhas of England, India's Munaf Patel, Justin Langer of Australia, South African captain Graeme Smith, and the man who surprised all with his inspirational performances, Siddharth Trivedi.

The Kings XI Punjab v Kolkata Knight Riders and the Rajasthan Royals v Mumbai Indians matches are just for starters, but the Sahara Stadium Kingsmead buffet for the remainder of the week is spectacularly sumptuous.

On Thursday, the Chennai Super Kings, runner-up last year, arrive with South Africa's Albie Morkel, the flavour of the month in limited overs cricket, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Andrew Flintoff, Matthew Hayden, Muttiah Muralitharan, Suresh Raina and Michael Hussey.

Their opponents, Delhi Daredevils move into Durban with the star cast which includes Virender Sehwag, Paul Collingwood and Gautam Gambhir, who reigned supreme in New Zealand for India in the Test and One-Day International arena. And on Friday the man whom everyone in South Africa loves to hate, Kevin Pietersen, arrives with the Bangalore Royal Challenge and will be in toe with the likes of Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn, Mark Boucher, Roelof van der Merwe - all South Africans - and Rahul Dravid, Praveen Kumar and the exciting Virat Kholi.

[The article was published at by Iqbal Khan]

Mandira Bedi's new look for IPL 09

During the last IPL, Mandira Bedi sported a bob cut complete with red streaks.

She had told us then, “This is the first time that I’ve cut my hair so short. I was a little hesitant to get them chopped, for I’m a Sardarni.”

Guess she was really happy with what the mirror told her. For, she’s gone and done it again – and this time too, it is her friend and hairstylist Sapna Bhavnani, who has styled Mandy’s ‘IPL’ look.

Says Sapna, “This time I’ve given her a still shorter cut – but a lot of fringes on the forehead. Since she is going to be away for a month, I thought the cut would be easy to maintain.” But those red streaks will not be there. “Red streaks fade away too quickly and start looking bad,” explains Sapna.

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A weekend of the cricket veterans

The South African pitches and conditions will expose the batsmen's limitations in the 2009 IPL. The four games on the weekend underlined the fact that even in T20 format, there is no substitute besides class and experience. It was the veterans who showed the way and set the trend for the competition.

The best moments over the weekend matches were Dravid's six, Sachin's shot over cover, Vetteori's spell and Warne's guile that mocked at the batsmen. Never mind that Warne's Rajasthan Royals lost, but in those four overs, he provided salvation from the boring sixes and boundaries, the same was for Kumble and Vettori. Of course, there was the slinging Malinga making a statement for the quick bowlers, but frankly this IPL is likely to show a lot of surprises.

The point is that if you take a simplistic perspective of cricket as it being just a sport and there is more to life, then you might enjoy the offerings, though it is only in between the commercials on the television. Most people i know have strong reservations over the break after 10 overs, for it takes away the momentum and continuity. The organizers can justify the gimmick saying they would like to earn as much as they spend.

Watching the likes of Sachin and Dravid was indeed a pleasure. While a big innings from Sachin is always to be expected in any format, Dravid was revelation to those who believed that he is a misfit for T20 cricket.

Dravid was intent on making a strong statement to his detractors as this was so evident in his celebration on reaching 50. It is a pity that Dravid would soon be flying back home to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.

The other two veterans who batted, Kumble could barely hide his blushes after the performance.

All the eight teams were not prepared for the very English conditions in Cape Town with all the rain and the moisture, and hence the pronounced movement off the deck. There was something for the spinners too.

Of the eight teams on the weekend,Royal Challengers, Mumbai Indians and the Deccan Chargers were the most improved lot whereas these same teams were at the receiving end last year.

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Raj targets IPL players

Lying low for several days after his arrest in February, Raj Thackeray - the flamboyant chief of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena is making a comeback - leading his party into their first Lok Sabha election.

At a rally organized for MNS candidate, Ranjit Shirole, in Pune, Raj spoke in his characteristic style.

"They are conducting the IPL matches during elections. Are the Indian players not voters? They have taken away the players' voting right and expect others in the country to vote,” he said.

Raising his voice yet again against north Indian migrants to cities in the state, Raj called upon his supporters to elect a leader with the cause of Maharashtra at heart.

However, NCP chief and Prime Ministerial aspirant Sharad Pawar didn't find favour with the MNS chief.

"If I understand the politics Sharad Pawar plays, I will quit politics. No one understands what he's doing. Why should we support Pawar as Marathi PM? Did he suddenly realise he was Marathi?" he said.

After repeatedly being dismissed as a gimmick politician, Raj Thackeray has finally made an appeal for votes in Maharashtra's cultural capital.

It is believed that though the party may not produce an MP in these elections, Raj's main aim is to get a substantial number of votes and make his presence felt in major cities of Maharashtra.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kings XI set 105 run target for Delhi Daredevils

Karan Goel scored a quickfire 38 as Kings XI Punjab made 104 for 7 wickets in 12 overs against Delhi Daredevils in the third match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Newlands.
Daniel Vettori picked up three for 15 in the match which was shortened to 12 overs per team due to wet field because of rains and drizzle since morning.

Game has now stopped due to rain again.

IPL Miss Bollywood South Africa contest

Cape Town: The hunt for a filmstar during the second edition of the Indian Premier League got underway here in style with Raeesa Goga and Jasmita Chauhan handpicked to represent Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals in the IPL 2009 Miss Bollywood South Africa contest.

Raeesa and Jasmita won the beauty contest from among thousand of fans gathered during the opening matches at Newlands here on Saturday.

The Miss Bollywood SA contest is a search for a South African beauty with star qualities from among the crowds during the matches.

The winner will be offered a role in a Bollywood movie and a free business class trip to India apart from 50,000 rand in cash.

A total of 50 winners will be picked up from the crowd from each of the eight venues.

With every IPL match having a designated home team, the Miss Bollywood SA winner of that game will be associated with its side.

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To win Delhi Daredevils need to score 105. Rain stops play

Kings XI Punjab score 104 runs for 7 wickets.
Delhi Daredevils need to score 105.

Rain stops play temporarily.

Tendulkar - I will not take anything for granted

Cape Town: They might have made a resounding start to their IPL campaign with a convincing win over last year's runners-up Chennai Super Kings, but Mumbai Indians skipper Sachin Tendulkar is not ready to take things for granted and wants to build on the good start.

Tendulkar, who scored an unbeaten 59 to script his team's victory in the opening match of the second edition of the Twenty20 extravaganza, said, "The start is good but it is still a long way to go. I won't take anything for granted."

Tendulkar, who was adjudged Man of the Match, said the initial overs were difficult for batting and lavished praise on Sanath Jayasuriya and Abhishek Nayar for adjusting well.

"When I lost the toss, I realised there was a dampness in the wicket. The first 6-7 overs were difficult and later on Abhishek Nayar came and played a terrific innings and my job basically was to just be there and play till the end and guys on the other end played their strokes," he said.

On being asked what could be a decent total on the South African wickets, Tendulkar said anything around 150 would make a good fight.

"Looking at about 145-150 would be a decent total. Don't look at 180 plus but if you can get into 150-160 then it could be a good total," he said.

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Surprise wins for Bangalore Royal Challengers and Mumbai Indians

Cape Town: Bangalore Royal Challengers crushed defending champions Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians did the same for runners-up Chennai Super Kings to give a astounding start to the Indian Premier League (IPL) here on Saturday.

Mumbai Indians had a disastrous start in the inaugural tournament losing first four matches last year beat Chennai Super Kings by 19 runs in the opening match of the IPL.

The Bangalore Royal Challengers team, led by skipper Kevin Pietersen, annihilated Rajasthan Royals by a massive 75 runs though they had finished last in the inaugural edition.

The 3 Indian veterans of cricket - Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble, led the way for their teams, using their experience of playing on bowler-friendly wickets.

Sachine Tendulkar's 59 off 49 balls was the highlight of Mumbai Indians, whose total was 165 for seven wickets.

The Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga (3-15), and Sanath Jayasuriya (2-34) restricted Chennai Super Kings to 146 for seven wickets.

In the second match, Dravid, who was replaced by Pietersen as Bangalore Royal Challengers captain, struck back, hitting 66 and guiding the team through a difficult phase to reach 133.

Rajasthan Royals, who had a fairytale inaugural season, were all out for the lowest IPL score of 58 runs with Kumble picking five wickets.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's decision to bowl under cloudy skies, after a delayed start appeared spot on as Tendulkar and his opening partner Sanath Jayasuriya (26) had an unconvincing start. Jayasuriya was run out, ending the 39-run opening stand.

It turned out to be a forgettable debut for Andrew Flintoff, who was on the receiving end of Abhishek Nayar's onslaught. Nayar made a quickfire 35 off just 14 balls and hit Flintoff for three sixes in a 22-run over.

While chasing, Chennai Super Kings suffered the first set-back as Malinga got opening batsman Parthiv Patel with the second ball of the innings.

Matthew Hayden (44) played carefully but as the innings progressed he found his touch. The retired Australian opener fell while chasing a wide Jayasuriya delivery to Zaheer Khan.

Flintoff (24) and Dhoni (36) tried their best but could not see their teams through.

Tendulkar was guarded in his assessment of the team's performance.

"I am glad that we have started well, but I don't want to take anything for granted. It's too early in the tournament and it's same for the other teams also." he said.

The second match started on a exciting note with Dimitry Mascarenhas (3-20) dismissing Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor in the first over in successive balls.

Royal Challengers were soon left tottering at 52/4 before Dravid, a master of these conditions, summoned his class to anchor the innings. His 48 balls for 66 had eight fours. Pietersen added 32.

"I am in good touch after the tour on New Zealand. Conditions here are ideal for a player like me. You have to play good cricketing shots when the ball is moving. I played few balls to set myself in the middle and then played strokes," Dravid said.

The Rajasthan Royals were sloppy in their run-chase with the batsmen getting out to poor shots. Praveen Kumar (2-7) swung the ball to create trouble for the batsmen. Ryder soon joined in (2-14) to leave Rajasthan Royals at five for 28 runs. They could never recover from such a disastrous start.

Kumble, who bid farwell to international cricket last year, running through the middle-order and tail in a flash, picking 5-5.

Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Warne said it was an "embarassing" beginning."We are the champions and we should have backed ourselves. Bangalore had a bad last year and they came out firing. Chasing a low score, we should have won with couple of overs left. The shot selections of our batsmen were bad."

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rajasthan’s royal skipper - Shane Warne

As good as he was with the ball in hand in crunch situations, it was as a captain that Shane Warne turned out to be a game-turner. By far, he was the most perspicacious of the eight IPL captains in the league’s inaugural year. He is, arguably, the best captain Australia never had; or, to be precise, the best captain it chose not to have, writes Nirmal Shekar.

After it was all over, after a team that was written off at the start of the tournament had scripted a fairytale finish worthy of blue-blooded cricketing royalty, when you looked back on it all, the irony was inescapable.

Last year’s inaugural Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament was a stage made-to-order for strapping young twenty-somethings with over-sized adrenal glands — men such as Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma, to name only two.

What chance of triumph and glory would the merciless actuarial table of T20 cricket have given an ageing troubadour looking forward to his 39th birthday in a competition as frenzied and skill-flattening as the Indian Premier League?

These questions seem obvious until, of course, you come up with the protagonist’s name. Then, suddenly, the pieces fall in place magically and all illogic disappears like morning dew on a clear summer day.

For, rules that apply to ordinary mortals, even the ones that apply to the good and the great, don’t hold good in the case of Shane Warne.

Aged 38, well past his prime and after having retired from international cricket, you’d have thought Warne might have been an expensive misfit in a T20 championship. Yet, this was the man who turned out to be the single most influential figure in the hugely successful first year of the League.

It was a bit like a reluctant Jose Carreras descending on a Hard Rock concert stage and stealing a march over Kid Rock, Metallica and Oasis.

As good as he was with the ball in hand in crunch situations, it was as a captain that Warne turned out to be a game-turner. He is, arguably, the best captain Australia never had; or, to be precise, the best captain it chose not to have.

By far the most perspicacious of the eight IPL captains in the league’s inaugural year, Warne revelled in his role even as his under-rated team, Rajastan Royals, written off as the weakest side in the competition a week into the event, surprised everyone with a string of high-quality performances leading up to a dramatic last-ball victory over Chennai Super Kings in the final.

At $400,000, Warne was by far the best value-for-money player in the competition. But then, the virtues that the great Aussie brings to the field can hardly be represented purely in dollar terms.

There is no putative algorithm for successful leadership, especially in sport, an area of activity that makes room for a wide array of personalities at the top. However, Warne surely possesses a rare mix of attributes that turned him into a genius as a captain. A natural risk taker who backs his instincts, Warne was a hugely inspirational figure, standing on whose shoulders the Royals scaled regal heights.

As in life, in sport too, the best of leaders make things happen instead of waiting for things to happen. And there was no captain quite as pro-active as Warne in the IPL last year.

“Genius is not replicable. Inspiration, though, is contagious and multi-form,” wrote the late David Foster Wallace in Play.

If indeed genius were contagious, everyday reality would be a much more life-enhancing for a lot of us average blokes. But life does offer, from time to time, the illusion that another man’s genius can rub off on us. This is especially so in a cooperative venture like team sport.

Eons before modern civilisation, hundreds of thousands of years before management gurus came up with their mantras and business schools started flourishing, successful alpha males led hunter-gatherer bands through persuasion rather than coercion with ‘collaborative decision-making’ being the norm.

Even in pre-historic times, surely, there is unlikely to have been one successful brand of leadership. For, human personality differences are not exactly a modern phenomenon.

But goal-directed cooperation in the context of modern professional team sports has made way for a fascinating variety of helmsmen, not the least in cricket where the quality of leadership matters so much more than in a sport such as football or hockey. From the imperious Douglas Jardine down to the Socratically wise Mike Brearley and from an awe-inspiring Don Bradman down to a lovable larrikin such as Warne, the game has been able to fit in a range of personalities in leadership roles.

“Broken marriages, conflicts of loyalty, the problems of everyday life fall away as one faces up to (Jeff) Thomson,” wrote Brearley.

Thommo’s lethal pace apart, an English captain may have had to deal with quite a number of other vexing issues in that era. If this is true of almost all captains at all times then the brash new age of Twenty20 cricket — which has robbed on-field decision makers of valuable time — has come to favour the instinctive leaders.

Then again, apart from the speed and quality of Warne’s on-field decision-making, it was what the Aussie genius brought to the Rajasthan Royals’ dressing room that may have made a huge difference in the end.

“You can divide leadership into two aspects,” Brearley said in an interview to The Times (London) a few years ago. “One is telling, ordering even, having a clear idea of what you want and getting people to do it. You might call those masculine qualities.

“And there are the more feminine qualities you might call receptivity. This is consulting people, finding out what they think, their feelings, whether they have different ideas you can learn from.”

Ask any Rajasthan Royals player and he would be willing to swear that Warne blended those two aspects of leadership wonderfully well.

If a leader, as Napoleon said, “is a dealer in hope” then Warne brought hope in lorry loads to the Royals’ camp.

“Some people had branded us underdogs but we had self-belief,” said the charismatic Australian spinner midway through the 2008 tournament.

It was a rare brand of self-belief — instilled in them by their heroic captain — that saw young players such as Ravindra Jadeja, Siddarth Trivedi and Swapnil Asnodkar come up consistently with nerveless displays on the big stage.

“The best part about the IPL is, as well as having four or five different cultures in your team, unearthing some of the young Indian players,” Warne told BBC Sport after last year’s final.

If Warne enjoyed the process of uncovering new talent, then there is little doubt that every one of those young Indians simply adores the great man and will always cherish the days they played alongside one of the game’s greats.

Looking back, it is a bit of an irony that all this celebration of Warne’s imaginative leadership and his ability to inspire youngsters and help them raise their levels should have come after his retirement from the international game.

For, Warne did lead Australia in 11 One-Day Internationals in the late 1990s when Steve Waugh was injured and his team won 10 of those matches. And he might have gone on to lead his country in many more matches but for what the Australian Cricket Board described as “a catalogue of reckless conduct.”

It is a ‘catalogue’ that the Royals’ management is unlikely to take into account as the great man and his boys set out to defend their title in South Africa. For Warne — flawed, sinning, warts and all — may well be irreplaceable.

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