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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Attention Shifts To Roland Garros - Nadal Vying For 10th Title

#French #Open #Tennis
#Grand #Slam 2
From Paris

#Rafa #Nadal is vying to become the only player to win a grand slam tournament for an unprecedented 10th time. No one has come close. #Pete #Sampras and #Roger #Federer have won #Wimbledon crown 7 times each and thats the second best effort. 

Such has been his dominance on this famed #clay #court of #Roland #Garros, he has lost just one match here in the last 10 years! Isnt that an extraordinary record in an era where technology, skills, fitness standards, lifestyles are rapidly changing making it difficult for athletes to sustain playing any game, let alone dominate it?

Fondly called the #KingOfClay, #Rafa has defeated all top names in tennis including #Federer, #Djokovic, #Murray from the current generation while #Agassi, #Sampras, #Muster from the previous gen to lift this crown year after year. The only time he lost was in a semifinal clash against Djokovic in 2011. Incidentally, Federer went on to win that tournament (his only success at this slam ever)

Plagued with injuries, a string of surgeries, short on match-practice and consecutive losses coming into this tournament, #Rafa was in danger of missing the competition out completely. But, this is his den. He can come and win matches here half-asleep against anyone. That's been his prowess and this could just mark his revival of fortunes!

We hope #Rafa makes is a perfect 10 at #RolandGarros on June 7th 2015!
All eyes on him.

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Monday, 25 May 2015

MI Are New IPL Champs - Decimate CSK To Lift The Cup

#CSK vs #MI

#EdenGardens #Kolkata
24th May 2015

In an amazing display of determination and courage throughout the season, #MI completed a fairytale ending to this year's IPL season defeating a lacklustre #CSK by 41 runs to lift the cup for a second time.

Asked to bat first (first of the multiple blunders committed by CSK), they put on a strong 202 for 5 in 20 overs thanks to a stunning blitzkrieg by Lendl Simmons, Rohit Sharma. Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu played the end game to perfection to smash the hapless and hopeless CSK bowling all over the park. At one stage they even looked to get 220-230 but were pulled back a bit.

Chasing this massive score, the one team that had potential to do it was CSK with their batting lineup. But, it looked as if they had surrendered already and their batsman crawled in the initial overs. That was remarkable batting to play steadily when chasing that big a target. No one stood counted and they capitulated to 161 for 8 in 20 overs.

Big celebrations for Mumbai and they will come next year to defend their crown.
For CSK, this was their 6th final. They have won it twice as well but this was abject surrender to some really disciplined and determined Mumbai heroes.

MI - 202 for 5
CSK - 161 for 8

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Sunday, 24 May 2015

CSK vs MI - Who Will Win IPL Final

#CSK vs #MI
#EdenGardens #Kolkata
24th May 2015

After 6 weeks of absolute "dhamaal (fun)" on the field and some scorching cricketing action, its all come down to this day! The day of the #IPL Final...

Two teams, certainly not at their best, have made it there (owing to some poor performances from other teams) and will vie for the coveted trophy at the #Eden #Gardens in #Kolkata tonight.

On the one hand, "Team Consistent" #CSK will be gunning for a hat trick of trophies (they won in 2010, 2011 and finished runner-up in 3 other finals) while on the other #MI will be looking to emulate their 2013 success (they had won defeating CSK)

On a head to head comparison, there is pretty much nothing to choose.
Games played between the two teams: 21
MI Wins - 11, CSK Wins - 10
Its that close...

And while MI have been at best mercurial and topsy-turvy in this tournament, they have gained momentum at the perfect moment to go all the way. What also goes in their favour is they are the only side to trouble and lead CSK on head-to-head contest wins. Something brings out the best in them against the most balanced and consistent team of IPL over 8 seasons!

Having said that, do not discount #WhistlePodu boys. They have been there, done that on many occasions and can change gear very quickly. Skipper #Dhoni has had a silent IPL and these moments brings out the best in him. If that happens, he can turn games around from any situation and inspire his boys to do the same. Such is his aura and capability.

Man to Man comparison is a very interesting read as well

1. Lendl Simmons/Parthiv Patel  vs Mike Hussey/Dwayne Smith
MI hold the edge here. Their opening pair has been instrumental in getting MI to the finals with some amazing consistent performances off-late. Steady starts to lay foundation for the big boys down the order has been MI's recipe for success. Don't discount Hussey and Smith though. Hussey's super innings against RCB in Qualifier2 was a lesson for youngsters. In McCullum's big absence, Smith can "tee-off" from ball 1 as well.

2. Rohit Sharma vs Faf Du Plessis
Evenly matched on form. Rohit more classical but Faf more all round with his fielding abilities.

3. Kieron Pollard vs Suresh Raina
Again, MI hold the edge here on form and all round ability. Raina hasn't played a blinder of a knock this season .. just yet. Could it be his day. If it is, MI will suffer badly.

4. Ambati Rayudu vs MS Dhoni
Surprise, surprise ... MI slightly ahead here too. Rayudu has finished games, MS hasn't but we all know what he can do? and this is his business end. He gets dangerously professional here.

5. Hardik Pandya vs Pavan Negi
Two terrific youngsters vying for the best new comer award, looking to outdo the other. Both have played match winning knocks. Can they withstand pressure of a #IPL Final?

6. Jagdeesh Suchith vs Dwayne Bravo
The calyso guru is at the height of his game. Bravo edges out the youngster by some distance.

7. Vinay Kumar vs Mohit Sharma
Both have struggled really and need to pull up a gear

8. Harbhajan Singh vs Ravi Ashwin
This is going one heck of a contest! Both are in sublime form. Bhajji is the eternal effervescent himself and Ashwin the disciplined tactician. Wow.. this is definitely a contest within a contest

9. Mitch McClaneghan/ Lasith Malinga vs Ashish Nehra/Ravindra Jadeja
Jadeja is the odd one out in this comparison but he seems to be the "odd" one out in the CSK outfit too. Woefully out of form, he has been a liability for that team. The other three have been in super form off late. Malinga has caught up well after a poor start but Nehra and McClenaghan (since he was brought in half way through the tournament) have been good right through.  

Its that close with MI holding slight edge on form and momentum.
Its all to play for today. May the best team win. All the best

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Saturday, 23 May 2015

Did Dhoni Cross The Line With Horrible Decision Comment?

"Smith got a horrible decision really...." spoke #MSDhoni (Mr. Cool himself) in the post-match interview after losing to #MI comfortably in #Qualifier1.

The media went berserk ... The public was stunned ... and everyone was talking about the #horrible #decision comment over the last few days. It culminated in a penalty for King Cool by the #ICC.

Will the ‪#‎horrible‬ ‪#‎decision‬ comment by MS Dhoni take away the sheen from Chennai Super Kings' ‪#‎fair‬ ‪#‎play‬ award? ‪#‎CSK‬ have always been the best behaved team in all seasons till date and ‪#‎MSD‬ has been instrumental in keeping that team behavior in check and taken it to a new level.

But, that "comment" in an interview after ‪#‎Qualifier1‬ game againstMumbai Indians (CSK lost that game) about a decision to give Dwayne Smith out lbw by umpire Richard Illingworth has everyone raising eyebrows on his surprising aggressive remark. This led to wild spread speculations about Mr. Cool and his composure to lead CSK to the title again.

For a captain of his stature, the comment did look rough (as was the lbw decision to begin with). I think the media took it too seriously and the #horrible #decision comment spread like widlfire. 

Just looked like it was not his day on that fateful night against MI.
1. He was first seen arguing with umpire Dharmasena over a couple of iffy wide ball decisions when MI was batting. Those two extra deliveries cost Chennai 10 extra runs which seemed to have peeved MS.
2. When he came out to bat, match was in the balance and his innings was going to be decisive. What happened? He moved across his crease to sweep Harbhajan and was trapped plumb leg-before. Golden duck! Dear O Dear!!!   
3. Then the #horrible #decision comment made it worse for him.

Am sure #MSD will take note and make amends as CSK prepare for the mega #IPLFinal on Sunday vs?? you guessed it right ... its MI again!!!

By the way, CSK have won the #Fair #Play award at this years IPL season by a long distance from the other teams. Just goes to show you can behave well and win all at the same time!!

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Thursday, 21 May 2015

RCB Annihilate Hopeless Royals - Breeze Into Qualifier 2

#RCB vs #RR
#MCA Stadium, Pune
20th May 2015

A much anticipated duel between the two "Royal" teams Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals ended in a damp squib at the MCA stadium in Pune.

#RCB outclassed a clueless and planless #RR team in all departments to secure a Qualifier 2 entry to meet #CSK. The winner there will compete with #MI for the #IPL crown on Sunday in Kolkata.

Today's game was rightly called the Eliminator, since losers would pack bags.
Hence it was expected both teams to compete really fiercely but only one team landed up and played this match. Royals were nowhere after first 9 overs of their bowling innings. It all went horribly wrong for them there on.

At 47 for 2 in 9 overs, RCB were under serious pressure and looked out of sorts. That's when #ABDevilliers and #MandeepSingh got together and delivered a stunning 113 run partnership off just 70 balls to set tone for a massive first innings total of 180 for 4.

The wicket wasn't easy to bat on, hence it was important to score decent and put the bowlers in action. Not only did RCB score brilliantly but when they came out to bowl, they delivered a perfectly clinical bowling performance too.

None of the RR batsman got going or carried on after a start.
Rahane top score with 42 but never got going.

Watson was out in the 2nd over followed closely by Samson and Smith (a hugely disappointing IPL for him after the glory of CWC15). Every batsman came in, tried to hang in and then got out. Karun Nair, Deepak Hooda, James Faulkner, Stuart Binny completed a procession of wickets to complete a royal misery.

What was surprising that head coach Rahul Dravid didn't plan this well at all? This was abject, not poor. Not that RCB didn't do very well but the manner in which RR cracked indicated poor intensity, application and skill.

RCB are not complaining. They are flying to Ranchi to take on CSK, a bogey team for them.
They need to much better in all departments to beat that MS Dhoni led super side.

RCB - 180 for 4, 20 overs
RR - 109 all out, 19 overs

Man of the Match: A B Devilliers

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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Devilliers Stunner Mandeep Special Sets Up RCB Innings Vs RR

#RCB vs #RR
#MCA Stadium, Pune
20th May 2015

Explosive innings by both #ABDevilliers and #MandeepSingh have ensured RCB score 180 for 4 in their stipulated 20 overs.

Struggling at 47 for 2 in 9 overs, these two got together and transcended the game to a completely new level. Mandeep Singh started the charge with some bold shots to infuse life in this RCB struggle. Even AB was struggling to score quickly then.

Once he got in, AB got into his groove and smashed the Royals' bowlers all over the park in his inimitable style. Mandeep joined the party with his style of hitting to smash runs at will. The Royals didn't know what hit them really. All bowlers went for many including Chris Morris, their best bowler.

Now its over to the Royals' batsmen to chase 181 to win this game against Starc and company. Wow... we have great game on here! 

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Mandeep and DeVilliers On The Charge

#RCB vs #RR
#MCA Stadium, Pune
20th May 2015

After struggling for the first 9 overs, RCB are on the charge...
#Mandeep Singh has decided to take charge ahead of the top three who have struggled to time the ball. Gayle and Kohli were claimed by Kulkarni early to leave RCB in trouble but Mandeep and Devilliers are opening up to provide much needed impetus.

Royals have bowled well and to a plan.
Their bowlers have put the bowl outside the off stump to prevent RCB batsmen from playing freely.

RCB innings poised for an interesting finish, since this pitch seems a bit difficult to bat on. Game ON...

RCB -  113 for 2, 15 overs.

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Royals Get Rid Of Gayle At Stroke Of First Timeout

#RCB vs #RR
#MCA Stadium, Pune
20th May 2015

#RCB have won the toss and elected to bat first in this #Eliminator contest vs #Royals. Smasher #Gayle and Basher #Kohli starting their innings.

Its a cautious start for them and that would hearten the Royals.
Gayle trying punch the ball at every opportunity, Kohli playing second fiddle.
RR have shuffled around with their bowling to keep them guessing.

Both teams feeling each other and at the stroke of #timeout, #DhawalKulkarni has clean bowled the dangerous #Gayle for 27. Huge blow. Royals will feel relieved after that missed run out earlier. 

Game ON as AB Devilliers will walk in to join Virat.

RCB: 41 For 1, 6 Overs

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Eliminator Battle Royale - RCB vs RR

#RCB vs #RR
#MCA Stadium, Pune
20th May 2015

After a stunning performance by #MI yesterday to beat #CSK and qualify for the IPL final on Sunday, the attention now moves to #Eliminator where two "Royal" teams face each other to move ahead in the competition. Winners of this contest will meet #CSK in Qualifier 2 at Ranchi on 22nd May 2015.

So, how does it look for both teams?

Their road to the finals have been like the "hare" who rushed ahead in the race only to stumble, crawl and just make it over the line at the last minute. After a glorious start to their campaign this year (5 straight wins), they ran into KXIP and a super over (in a game they should have won easily in regulation time). The Super over lottery was won by KXIP and it marked a remarkable turn of fortunes for RR where they started looking scrappy, scratchy and disjoint that point onwards. Perhaps that loss took a lot of their momentum and motivation out. A couple of washed out games made it difficult for them to gain full points in some games but in the end, it must be said, their opening dash helped them cross the line to qualify from 4th place in the points table.

A batting heavy side - Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, Sanju Samson, Deepak Hooda have scored well throughout and will challenge the RCB bowling lineup. Bowling seems to be their weakest link and that will be thoroughly tested by Gayle, Virat, Devilliers and Co. Chris Morris has been their best bowler but James Faulkner, Watson, spinners haven't been able to really tie opposition teams down or get wickets regularly. This will remain their biggest concern and Rahul Dravid (chief coach) will have to plan their strategy accordingly.

They have been up and down too. Not known to be good starters, this season hasnt been different either. But, they have bounced back very well in spite of bad weather causing their last three games to be curtailed or abandoned. They have just done enough to scrape through to third position in the points table. The top three's indifferent form earlier in the league made it difficult to set or chase targets but that seems to be sorted out now and that's what makes them deadly dangerous.

Bowling is brilliantly led by Mitchell Starc but he needs good support from Arvind, Chahal, Patel and others to stop the RR top order from running away with a big total. Batting will rely heavily on the top three - Gayle-Virat-ABD but others need to step up to plate and score well if any of these three were to fail. 

Interestingly, both sides are languishing at the bottom (#6 RCB and #7 RR) of the fairplay award table. This indicates both sides are volatile and a moment away from behavioral madness. Watson can get under anyone's skin with his Aussie sledging while Virat ka gussa is well documented all over!

All in all, looks like a spicy contest on our hands.
Remember loser of this game packs its bags. No second chances. Its all to play for.

Who will win?
Time will tell.
All the best to both teams.

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MI Crush CSK To Enter IPL Final

#CSK vs #MI
#Qualifier 1
#Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
19th May 2015

A superb all round performance from Mumbai Indians​ ensured they qualified for the IPL - Indian Premier League​ final beating Chennai Super Kings​ by 26 runs at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. 

Watched by a sea of blue MI fans, they batted and bowled CSK out of the game easily. Their openers put another sterling show by setting up 90 for the opening stand to lay foundation for #Pollard to play his usual cameos to end with a flourish and set a challenging 188 run target for CSK to win.

After a lucky horror decision against Dwayne Smith and accounting for Mike Hussey, Faf Du Plessis and Suresh Raina momentarily steadied the ship and looked threatening. It all ended in one dramatic and special Harbhajan Singh​ over. He claimed wickets of Suresh Raina​ and MS Dhoni​ off consecutive deliveries firmly turned tide in their favor.

The middle and late order batsmen tried hard but the target was beyind them.

MI will head to Kolkata for the IPL final (24th May 2015) and await winner of Qualifier 2, scheduled for 22nd May 2015 in Ranchi. CSK will now play that game against winners of the Eliminator (#RCB or #RR).

MI - 187 for 6, 20 overs
CSK - 162 all out, 19 overs 

Man of the Match: #Kieron #Pollard

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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Harbhajan Double Strike Puts Mumbai Firmly Ahead

#CSK vs #MI
#Qualifier 1 
#Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
19th May 2015

#MI slightly ahead of the game after the first strategic timeout in CSK innings.

A horror lbw decision against #DwayneSmith by umpire Illingworth in the first over, set them on the backfoot rightaway. The aging #MikeHussey was unable to push things through really fast and eventually was caught behind off #VinayKumar. 

#FafduPlessis and #SureshRainia have stepped up the gas, especially Plessis to infuse life in this CSK innings. 

But, Harbhajan's 11th over of the innings turned things on its head.
He had #SureshRaina caught and bowled off the second ball. Big wicket.
The bigger wicket awaited next delivery when he trapped #MSDhoni plumb in front. The celebrations from the MI team and crowd were amazing.

He almost had DwayneBravo on the last ball of the same over but he missed a simple caught and bowled chance. However, this over has put MI firmly ahead in this game and the IPL final beckons!

MI - 187
CSK - 95 for 4 in 12 overs

Game ON>>>

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Pollard Cameo Helps MI Set 189 Target For CSK

#CSK vs #MI
#Qualifier 1 
#Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
19th May 2015

A stunning 17 ball 41 by #KieronPollard has helped #MI set a formidable target of 188 against #CSK. After 17 overs, CSK had pulled back the MI innings wonderfully through #Bravo and #Nehra.

But the last three overs belonged to Pollard.
He ripped into the CSK seamers - Bravo and Mohit to leapfrog their total to 188.
46 runs came off the last 3 overs.

Over 18 - 15 runs
Over 19 - 15 runs
Over 20 - 16 runs.

Massive damage done.
A couple of iffy decisions on wides cost CSK a bit, though.
MS Dhoni seemed disappointed and talked to umpire Dharmasena about it.

So, how does this pan out now?
188 in 20 overs. Can CSK pull this off? or will MI restrict them?
Game on... 

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CSK Claw Back Through Bravo and Nehra

#CSK vs #MI
#Qualifier 1 
#Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
19th May 2015

Looking straight down the barrel (staring at chasing 200), #CSK have clawed back brilliantly through #Bravo and #Nehra.

Overs 16 and 17 have been game changers for CSK.
Just 8 runs came off these two overs and two key wickets lost.
#RohitSharma and Hardik Pandya both fell trying to hit long shots, pegging MI back.

MI's hopes to reach 200 now rest on #Pollard and #Rayudu.
3 overs to go. Game on...

MI - 156 for 4, 18 overs 

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First TimeOut - MI 48 For No Loss In 6 Overs

#CSK vs #MI
#Qualifier 1 
#Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
19th May 2015

First #Strategic #Timeout of the game.
#MI started cautiously in the first 4 overs.
#Nehra and #Ashwin troubled them with swing and spin.
But, they've covered up brilliantly in the next 2 overs
#Simmons and #Parthiv have opened up and smashed Ashwin and Nehra for 14 runs each to even things out.

The battle looking exciting already.

Dhoni has utilized 3 overs each from his top 2 bowlers.
So, its going to be interesting how he's going to go from here?

For MI, they need to carry on the momentum..

MI - 48 for 0 in 6 overs

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Toss Time - MI Win Toss, Elect To Bat

#CSK vs #MI
#Qualifier 1 
#Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
19th May 2015

We're close to start of Qualifier 1.
Its toss time.
#MSDhoni and #RohitSharma in the centre.
Coin tossed ... and it comes a tail, correctly called by Rohit.

MI have won the toss and elected to bat first.
Massive game this and batting first would be a huge advantage with pressure all around.

Is it going to be the first opportunity or a last min dash performance that would decide the fate of this game? Amazing crowd, great atmosphere and big clash. What else can you ask for.

Let the battle explode.
The big #IPL final is calling....

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What Can MI, RCB and RR Learn From CSK About Fair Play?

As the top two teams at #IPL8 face each other in Qualifier 1 match today, there is an interesting statistic that needs a look in.

On the #Fair #Play Points table, #CSK are as usual on the top (its pretty remarkable, how they do well on both the tables - points and fair play - season after season) and #MI? .. you guessed it right ... at the bottom (this is big pain point in their inconsistent performances over the years).

Is the Fair Play points table is a good indicator of team's consistency, form and winability?
Its an interesting question to answer.

Teams that generally stay on top of this fair play table, either do very well or do very poorly. 

The 2015 Fair Play table looks like this
1. CSK
2. KKR
4. DD
5. SRH
6. RR
7. RCB
8. MI

Barring CSK that is on top, teams from positions 2 to 5 have been knocked out while teams 6,7 and 8 have qualified for the playoffs. This is an amazing stat. 

Does playing fair mean compromising on winning? or should teams shouldn't care about fair play and focus only on the points table?

This is why CSK is the best team in IPL ever.
And they have been consistent on both tables year after year.

Just goes to show how #MSDhoni has built this team to play fair and yet keep winning. Win at all cost ... may not work all the time .

RR, RCB and MI can really learn from the CSK about this fair play habit!
No doubt they have some outstanding performers and entertainers, but champs with humility are always looked up to by the public!

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Clinical CSK Vs Mercurial MI - Qualifier 1 - Stakes Are High

This is it .. after grueling six weeks of non stop action, drama and amazing performance .. it has come down to the top 4 teams making the playoffs at #IPL - Indian Premier League​. Cant get better and bigger than this!

Qualifier 1 - #MSDhoni​ led table-toppers Chennai Super Kings​, the indomitable force in all seasons of the IPL will take on the mercurial and in-form Mumbai Indians​ led by #RohitSharma​ at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai today. Promises to be a cracker of a game. Remember, winner goes straight to the #IPL final - a massive incentive to win. The loser gets another crack by playing qualifier 2. That's a bonus too!

Team #MI - will be selected from below
Rohit Sharma
Corey Anderson
AC Blizzard
Jaspreet Bumrah, 
Unmukt Chand, 
M de Lange, 
S Gopal, 
Alex Hales, 
Harbhajan Singh, 
Ben Hilfenhaus, 
SD Lad, 
Mitchell McClenaghan, 
Lasith Malinga, 
Abhimanyu Mithun, 
C Munro, 
Pragyan Ojha, 
Harsh Pandya, 
Parthiv Patel, 
Kieron Pollard, 
Navin Rana, 
Ambati Rayudu
Lendl Simmons, 
J Suchith, 
P Suyal, 
Aditya Tare, 
Vinay Kumar, 
AA Wakhare

Team #CSK  - will be selected from below
MS Dhoni,
Kyle Abbott,
Baba Aparajith,
Ravichandran Ashwin, 
Shrinivas Badree, 
AK Bains, 
Dwayne Bravo, 
Faf du Plessis, 
ER Dwivedi, 
Mike Henry, 
Mike Hussey, 
Ravindra Jadeja, 
Brendon McCullum, 
Mithun Manhas, 
RG More, 
Pawan Negi, 
Ashish Nehra, 
Ishwar Pandey, 
Irfan Pathan, 
Pratyush Singh, 
Suresh Raina, 
Mohit Sharma, 
R Sharma, 
Dwayne Smith, 
AJ Tye

Both teams look solid both with the bat and ball.
CSK looks stronger with the bat slightly whereas Mumbai look a shade better on the bowling front.

MS' boys can turn around games on their sheer relentlessness while Rohit can inspire his MI team to produce an incredible batting or bowling innings. Thats how it is pioised? 

So, who will win? who will prevail? who can handle pressure better?
The clinical #CSK or the red-hot #MI? Time will tell.
May the best team win!

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Monday, 18 May 2015

Picture is Clear - CSK v MI and RCB vs RR In The Playoffs

The IPL Points table picture is finally clear on a #Super #Sunday.
After weeks of speculation, tricks and turns, rain god interruptions and some amazing cricket performances ... the final 4 teams have been decided.

1. Chennai Super Kings
2. Mumbai Indians
3. Royal Challengers Bangalore
4. Rajasthan Royals

The battle for these positions was so tight and complex, #MI, #RCB and #RR actually finished on 16 points each. Mumbai pipped Bangalore on higher number of wins while RCB edged RR due to better net run rate. It was that close...

Fair to say, the best four teams qualified although KKR will feel they missed out inspite of being pretty consistent and  strong throughout while SRH will feel hard done by that heart-crushing loss vs RCB in the previous game.

Today's games held big significance for all teams

In the first one, RCB faced DD. A huge game for RCB to win and keep their qualifying hopes alive. Alarmingly for them, DD posted a strong 188 in 20 overs to send scare waves in that RCB #dugout. However, as with their two previous games - rain - affected this game too. And this time, it was kind to them. The game washed off. RCB taking a vital one point to ensure they end up on 16 points and secured a qualifying berth. It was kind of out-of-jail situation for them really because the target was indeed stiff.

The other game, it was a knockout between SRH and MI.
Hyderabad had the home advantage but were blown away by a terrific spell of fast bowling from Malinga and McClenaghan upfront to be bowled out for a paltry 113 in 20 overs. MI openers Simmons and Parthiv chased the target easily to hand over 2 points and most importantly second spot in that points table. How wheels of fortune turned for them .. after five straight defeats at the beginning of the season, to hit that #2 spot was nothing short of amazing. It must be said though that other teams floundering at wrong moments helped their cause big time.

So its all set for the play-offs stage at #IPL8

19th May 2015 - Qualifier 1 - CSK vs MI at Mumbai (MI will have big home advantage plus loser of this game gets another crack at the final)
20th May 2015 - Eliminator - RCB vs RR at Pune (Winner needs to play loser of Qualifier 1 to progress to final, Loser eliminated)
22nd May 2015- Qualifier 2 - Loser of Qualifier 1 vs Winner of Eliminator
24th May 2015 - Big final at Kolkata

Mouth watering prospect this!

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Sunday, 17 May 2015

RR Qualify But KKR On The Edge

In a pulsating high scoring, must win game for both sides, #RajasthanRoyals prevailed over #KolkataKnightRiders by 10 runs to ensure qualification into the knockout stage of this year's #IPL.

#ShaneWatson and #AjinkyaRahane set tone for RR innings right upfront with a brisk 80 run partnership in 7 overs. After Rahane's dismissal to a silly run-out, their innings wandered a bit but #Watto took responsibility to hold fort and carried his bat through with a brilliant hundred to setup a massive 199 in 20 overs. 

Although the target looked high, there was one team that could overhaul it and that was KKR. With top guns #Gambhir, #Utthappa, #Yusuf and #Russell you wouldn't bet against them chasing it down, especially with thin RR bowling attack.

Gambhir departed early off a mistimed pull off #Morris. #Dhawal struck in his first over to get rid of Utthappa to send KKR reeling. This is when the two #powerhitters #YusufPathan and #AndreRussell came together. They stitched a wonderful partnership and took the attack to RR through some lusty hitting. 

With all RR bowlers under the hammer, #SteveSmith threw the ball to #Morris in desperation. And He turned the game around for RR with a magnificent spell of seam bowling. First he induced a mistimed shot off Russell (who was looking extremely dangerous with his powerpacked shot making). In the same over, he had Suryakumar Yadav caught behind for nought. This is where the game changed big time.

With 5 wickets down, it was left to Yusuf to rescue KKR. He fought on gainly but Watto got his scoop one to long on and the game virtually ended there. Shakib tried some fancy shots but it was Umesh Yadav who kept KKR in the chase with his lusty hitting.

Morris bowled a wonderfully tight last over to deny KKR a win. RR bowlers somehow managed to wriggle out of this situation today. Had it not been for Watto's century and Morris' matchwinning bowling performance, RR would be back on their way.

With this win, RR qualify (althoigh their exact position will be determined only after the last two league games #RCB v #DD and #SRH v #MI.

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Friday, 15 May 2015

Three Results - Million Possibilities Open Up For Top 4

Who will make it to the top 4 at this year's IPL? 

With just a game or two remaining for most teams, the picture is very unclear! The last three results have made it even more interesting and puzzling!  

As if last week's action wasn't intriguing enough, this week is proving to provide greater suspense and drama than a Sherlock Holmes' mystery.

Take a look
 - 6 teams out of 8 have a chance to qualify for the knockout stages of this tournament.
 - Positions 1 to 4 are completely hazy and no one can pin-point their standing with just a game or two remaining per team
 - The two ousted teams #DD and #KXIP won their latest games throwing the field wide open yet again

#DD steamrolls #CSK
With CSK really looking to close out its pole position in the points table, facing DD was their easiest game. This considering DD have been hot-cold all the way through and their inconsistency in batting has let them down badly. CSK, although not red hot, were expected to breeze through this one. What happened was nothing short of amazing.

First CSK was shot out for 120 on a pretty good wicket owing to some solid bowling and fielding from DD. Then their batsman took center-stage (Yuvraj and Nayyar) and annihilated a rusty CSK bowling attack and easily chased the set target, It was as if DD had nothing to loose and played with gay abandon. Result a thumping win for DD, a big dent for CSK on two counts. No points and their #NRR took a solid beating (which seems to be extremely critical for position qualification considering state of the points table)

#KXIP hurts #RCB badly
The other ousted team, KXIP had nothing to lose either.
What made matters worse for #RCB was #rain curtailed the game to 10 over a side. A clear lottery. In such cases the minnows clearly have an edge because the pressure to win solely lies with the stronger team! And it turned out exactly that way.  

Edgy RCB bowlers leaked out too many runs upfront. Saha smashing Starc, Aravind to take away the initiative. Some poor batting at the end meant they scored 112 in 10 overs. OK but not a great total to challenge Gayle, Kohli and Devilliers? Well, as it panned out, KXIP broke through the batting order with good bowling and fielding getting the Big 3 out cheaply and then choking the innings wonderfully by 20 runs! Big margin. No points to RCB and dent in their #NRR just like CSK.

#MI surprise #KKR
Needing to win badly, MI went out with purpose while KKR needing one win to assure a top two positioning on the points table went cautiously. Result? even after a poor start and early wickets, MI's Pandya and Pollard managed to pile on 171 in 20 overs. Pandya was brilliant while Pollard, for a change, played second fiddle but ensured he stayed there to avoid any further damage.

KKR never looked ready for that run chase and ran out of steam. Yusuf Pathan did try to pull a rabbit out of the hat but a brilliant final over by Pollard ensured MI defended and won by 5 runs (12 runs were needed for last over with Pathan at the crease)

So, where is all this heading? 
Looks like the last game will decide the top 4.
And boy will that not be interesting? and DD/KXIP playing spoilsport means its anyone's guess to choose a winner....

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Monday, 11 May 2015

Latest Results Turn Points Table Topsy Turvy

What an extra ordinary last week at #IPL8!!

From a 4 four war battle for 2 spots, its come down to 5 way battle for 3 spots and everything is so uncertain!

#RRs under big threat of not qualifying in top 4
From a seemingly safe Top-2 spot a week ago, RR have slid considerably and look on the brink of finishing outside the top 4. Thats an amazing turnaround of fortunes for this team that looked absolutely dominant at the beginning of the tournament. Just goes to show its about momentum. The day they lost that super over to KXIP, their fortunes and momentum have turned for worse! They're losing game after game and stand on verge of elimination from the #playoffs. With just one game to go, a victory doesnt guarantee them that spot unless one the lower teams flounders badly. Watson as captain or Steve Smith, is not making any difference to their performance at the moment. 

#CSK just about holding onto its lead 
An off color CSK has just about managed to win sufficient games to stay top of the points table. This is courtesy #MSDhoni captaincy and overall balance of their team. Their home record in enviable and that has helped them too. The playoffs however are outside #Chennai and that will worry them no ends. They need to pull up their socks to maintain their reputation as the best side in the IPL over the years. Reversal to Mumbai at Chidambaram Stadium due to miscalculated gamble by Dhoni had gotten them into a tight spot, but a typical hard fought victory against RR ensured they stay top. With two games to go, they seem all set to play in the #knockouts.

#KKR marching on their overall ability and attitude to win
Led wonderfully by Gautam Gambhir, the defending champions rose to the top for a short while. However, its their overall ability both with bat but more so with the bowl thats helping them stay in hunt for Qualifier 1 (a game where loser gets another crack to make it to the final). Andre Russell has been a revelation for them while Yusuf and the spin trio of Piyush, Hogg and Narine have pushed KKR along wonderfully well.

#RCB on the charge after #ABdevillers, #Gayle and #ViratKohli strike rich form 
The batting, that seemed to be their bane in the first half of the tournament has started clicking and how? First it was the Killer "Gayle" show with a stunning 117 vs KXIP. This was followed by an even more entertaining 133* by AB deVilliers and solid 82* by Virat Kohli to demolish MI. Mitchell Starc and Co are bowling oppositions out consistently to ensure they get much need wins to get into the knockouts.

#SRH could be the dark horse 
While the top teams have been hogging all limelight, SRH has quietly sneaked into 3rd place after their win against KXIP. avid Warner, Shikhar Dhawan, Moses Henriques are winning games with the bat and surprisingly their bowling lineup is bowling other teams inspite of resting both their bigwigs - Steyn and Boult. Watch for this team, if they reach playoffs.

#MI, once again from behind... 
first 5 games lost, then 5 games won. This is how it has been for MI this season. Backs to wall on one day and outright dominant the other. Inconsistency has been their biggest threat and worry all through. Bowlers need to pull up their socks. Batsmen seem to coming into their own but a collective effort will be critical to put them into the playoffs

#DD and #KXIP - Could they play spoilsport for the top 6?
DD and KXIP are out of the reckoning but can they beat one the top 6 and upset all equations. Dont count that out and thats what the excitement of IPL is all about!!

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Friday, 8 May 2015

RR Slipping, RCB, KKR, MI, SRH On The Charge In IPL8 Points Table

#IPL - Points Table Standings 

The end race has begun...

As all 8 teams play out their last few games in the league stage of this tournament, its one hell of a battle to grab the top four positions in the points table at #IPL8.

Just a few games ago, CSK and RR seemed to have consolidated those top 2 positions in the table. It has changed a bit and more drama seems to be in store.

RR slipping big time!
That #superover defeat to KXIP turned it around for worse for this team.
Since that game, they have never looked an invincible side as they did in the first five unbeaten games to soar to the top. After that, they have shared points twice (and should be thankful), won one game and lost three more! Things are going wrong for Watson's men at the wrong time. They need to be at their best at this business end of the IPL and they are slipping.

12 games 14 points. 2 more games to go. Perhaps a win will ensure a top 4 berth for them but unless they win both their next games, they cannot guarantee a top 2 finish (and ensure entry into  Qualifier 1  - a game that provides opportunity to the loser to play another game - Qualifier 2 against winner of the Eliminator game (played between 3rd and 4th placed teams))

KKR looking solid
The spinners have turned things around for this team, especially in the home games at #EdenGardens, a traditional spin powerhouse. Brad Hogg has been a revelation at 44 years of age! His bowling has left opponent teams in tatters and they dont seem to have answers to his #chinamen and legbreaks!

He is wonderfully supported by Piyush Chawla and Sunil Narine's entry into the fray lately has boosted KKR no ends. They seem to defend low totals easily. Their batting remains steady but chasing totals will be their biggest test as the tournament goes on,

11 games, 13 points

MI, RCB SRH on the charge
Three teams are making a charge for the fourth position in points table. And each team seems to be on the mission. MI, after the most dismal start to this IPL, has bounced back tremendously and hit peak form at the right time. RCB is making a big charge too with their batsmen flourishing while SRH is slowly sneaking up too. They could be the dark horse moving forward.

RCB: 10 games, 11  points
SRH: 10 games, 10 points
MI: 10 games, 10 points

CSK - undisputed leaders of the pack yet again!
Without a doubt they are the team to beat at this and every IPL season. 
They just seem to make it to the top 2 positions in the table at will. Their balance, quality and captaincy abilities make them the perfect IPL team. 

10 games, 14 points

DD and KXIP - Could they play party-crashers for other teams?
With both teams virtually out of running for knockout stages in this tournament, the best they can now do is disturb the table standing above them by surprising some of the other top teams and upsetting their equations.

All in all, things heating up at the business end of the #IPL8.
Lets hope the best 4 teams make it to the knockouts!

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Thursday, 7 May 2015

Killer "Gayle" Wakes Up - Thrashes KXIP Into Oblivion

#ChrisGayle vs #KXIP

The sleep whale, #ChrisGayle, woke up today and covered up for that poor form he was carrying all throughout this #IPL8. He's just that kind of a player. On his day, he can literally decimate any bowling attack in the world. Neither big names in bowling matter, nor where they pitch the ball does! That's why he is an impact player and this innings will have impacted #RCB no ends and they will look to soar ahead in the points table from now on, clearly knowing other teams will be vary of a Gayle storm possibility every game.

Today he was simply unstoppable right from the word go!
Mitchell Johnson was selected to start his run feast and he carried that along to all other bowlers including Axar Patel, Karn Singh, Glenn Maxwell and Sandeep Sharma. Anureet Singh was the only bowler to hold his head high with a brilliant spell for 0 for 25 in 4 overs when there was carnage at the other end.

Gayle's innings included 7 fours and 12 massive sixes i.e. exactly 100 runs came in boundaries. He was so dominant that his other superstar colleagues Virat Kohli and AB Devilliers were rendered mere spectators in that onslaught. Not that they were complaining but they are brisk scorers in their own right and to see them as bystanders in an innings indicates the complete domination shown by Christopher Gayle! 

This is only the second century at this year's IPL (next to Brendon McCullum's 100 against KXIP as well). No wonder the two most explosive batsmen in world cricket have centuries to their name. On their day, no bowler is great enough to take them out.

In response, the jolted and shocked KXIP team capitulated poorly for 88 all out in 13 overs. Aravind and Starc grabbed 4 wickets each. The impact by Gayle was so much that no batsmen looked settled or focused. 

There are Thunderstorms forecasted for many venues in coming days. We witnessed a Gayle storm yet again today! Thank you very much maannn!!

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