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Monday 30 May 2016

IPL 2016 Warners Davids Ambush Virats Goliaths SRH Wins IPL Crown

#IPL2016 Final
M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru

With all Odds stacked against them, (underdogs tag, lesser firepower than their fancied opponents, etc) the Sunrisers Hyderbad #SRH ambushed Royal Challengers Bangalore #RCB in a thrilling IPL final at the latter's den (another remarkable feat) to lift the IPL 2016 Cup and honors.

It all began with a bold decision at the toss that took everyone (experts were baffled and there were mixed reactions about it) when David Warner won the toss and elected to bat first. Huge move. His explanation? he would play to his strength of bowling second and defending a score in a big final. Since RCB was trouncing every team along the way by chasing down targets easily, experts felt this decision could backfire but their conviction seemed in place.

Dhawan and Warner got off to a slowish start scoring 21 in 3 overs but then Warner began to open his arms and soon they were 60 in 6 overs, an ideal start to the final. The fall of Dhawan's wicket followed shortly by Henriques evened things up and RCB started garnering hopes of restricting the SRH total.

In walked Yuvraj and unleashed a barrage of hits. Warner on the other end was blitzing his way as well. The two added a quickfire half-century stand before Warner fell to Aravind, a sliced edge to short third man. Deepak Hooda never looked in and holed out to long on. Once Yuvraj holed out to long off as well, the SRH were in serious trouble of being restricted to under 175. 

This is when Ben Cutting took centrestage. He first steadied the innings and then unleashed his fury in the last over on Shane Watson. He smashed 3 sixes and 1 four in the over (one of the sixes being a massive 117 metre hit that went out of the stadium) to not only cross the 200 run mark but lending a very good buffer to their initial goal of around 175-180 as par score.

But, was 208 enough to defend against the firebrand RCB line up of Gayle, Kohli, AB, Watson, Rahul? Not enough surely, especially considering their batting form in the second leg of the tournament.

Gayle and Kohli started in same fashion as SRH, but exploded in the same fashion too. Gayle looked  to hit the groove first and smashed a couple of sixes off Sran to increase their momentum. Kohli was happy to play second fiddle. Gayle then thrashed Henriques, Cutting and Bipul to post his fifty off 28 deliveries. Kohli then joined the party and the 100 came up in 10 overs! Perfectly on course ...

It was Cutting again who turned it around for SRH but inducing a top-edge from Gayle down to third man. In walked whom? AB ... it was like the storm was gone but fire would break in soon. Sran then prized out the other opener, Kohli, for a superb 54 and the game began to veer. 

AB holed out to extra cover off Bipul, Rahul was castled by Cutting and Watson holed one again to covers off Mustafizur to tilt the game in SRH favour. Chris Jordan was runt soon after. Stuart Binny played some lusty blows but was run out owing to silly basic mistake of looking at the ball when running between wickets.

With Bhuvi and Mustafizur to ball the last 4 overs, with 47 needed and SachinBaby and Abdulla at the crease, the task was almost impossible. From 114 for no loss in 11 overs, they had slumped to 162 for 7 in 16 overs. The writing was on the wall and with all their efforts, they finally ended on 200 for 7 in 20 overs. SRH had won by 8 runs. History was made. SRH champions for the first time. RCB three final losses would be gut-wrenching for them (earlier losses in 2009 and 2011 will hurt too). 

A terrific tournament was capped by a terrific final.
Warner's Davids had conquered the Royal Goliaths.

Man of the Match: Ben Cutting for his all-round performance
Player of the Tournament: Virat Kohli

Orange Cap: Virat Kohli
Purple Cap: Bhivaneshwar Kumar

Fairplay Award: Sunrisers Hyderabad (it has been observed since beginning of the IPL that teams that conduct themselves well on the ground are ones that do well in the tournament. This year was no exception)

Emerging Player of Tournament: Mustafizur Rehman
All round Player: A B Devilliers

Almost all top honors shared by SRH and RCB players clearing showing they were the two best teams in the tournament.

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Sunday 29 May 2016

IPL2016 Final: And Then There Were Two ... RCB vs SRH

Bengaluru, M. Chinnaswamy Stadium

After a two months of heavy action and hustle-bustle between 8 teams, the two best performing teams have reached the finals. I wont say they are the best teams of the tournament though.

#RCB had a horrible start and they were precariously placed until the #Virat-AB show saved them the blushes. Their biggest weaklink, their bowling came good at the right moment too and they are now the team to beat on current form.

#SRH on the other hand, started brilliantly. Their bowling, arguably the best bowling side of the tournament, pushed them top of table early in the tourney but reversals down the line meant they had to huff-puff their way to the qualifiers. Its only in the Eliminator and Qualifier2 that they seem to build an intensity to win the title.


RCB have a clear edge here. Virat, AB, Gayle, Watson, KL Rahul, Baby, Binny are better than their SRH counterparts head to head. Virat beats Dhawan, AB negates Warner, Gayle negates Yuvraj, Watson beats Henriques on experience, Rahul, Baby and Binny seem better off than Dwivedi, Ojha and Hooda. Mind you SRH batting can explode anytime. Yuvi is due and has shown he can take the bowlers to the cleaners. Bipul Sharma's cameos in both previous games tilted victory towards SRH from tricky situations. Look out for him and Dwivedi. Dhawan is over due.

RCB will expect the law of averages has hit Virat just in that Qualifier1 game. If he scores his first 10 runs with confidence today, he will close the game. So will AB or Gayle. Thats why they are a more formidable batting lineup than SRH.

The scenario changes by 180 degrees here. SRH has been the bowling side of the tournament and that too without too many spinners! Bhuvaneshwar and Mustafizur have led that attack brilliantly. Henriques, Boult, Sran and Cutting have played their support role very well too.

RCB on the other hand, have some issues with their bowling. Although Watson with all his experience and Jordan with his wily death over bowling skills, can do damage they have shown propensity to go for a lot of runs too. An off day would be mean chasing 20-25 runs extra with added pressure. Chahal has been their trump of the season though.His leggies have baffled teams and in rush of scoring against him, they have perished to his guile. Aaron, Richardson haven't done much to instill confidence of their skipper. Abdulla is a good spinning option alongside Chahal.

Experience of IPL Finals?
#RCB have experienced IPL finals before in 2009 and 2011 but lost both of them while #SRH are straddling unknown territory. Who will feel better? Guess, SRH because they have nothing to lose, they will treat it as a new fresh game but RCB with those two losses in their bag will carry bad memories with them.

Home ground Advantage?
Yes, very much with RCB. They will have the home crowd rooting for them big time and put pressure on visiting SRH. Also, Eliminator and Qualifier1 were played in New Delhi. The conditions, pitch were dramatically different than Chinnaswamy.

For RCB, it would be undoubtedly Chahal's bowling alongside #Virat-AB batting combination.

For SRH, it would be their key bowlers - Bhuvi, Mustafizur (if fit) and #Warner's batting.

Rain is forecast for match day and this will make things interesting especially at the toss. Monday is reserve day for the finals though.

RCB qualified for the final on Tuesday (4 days ago) and already camped in Bengaluru since. They will have rested their players well, tackled niggling injuries and adjusted to the conditions better. 
SRH on the other hand had to sweat it out in Eliminator on Wed, Qualifier1 on Friday and then fly down from NewDelhi to Begaluru late last evening (owing to a flight delay). This has given them very less, if at all, time to recuperate and prepare for this game at the venue.

All in all looks like a SRH Bowling vs RCB Batting contest this.
Can't wait for the game to get started.
Let the best team win!!!

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Wednesday 25 May 2016

IPL2016 AB Devilliers Houdini Act Pushes RCB To Finals v GL

#RCB vs #GL
Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru

What a game!!

Roller coaster fortunes - one side on top for a while, the other gets on top for a while, then the first one and so on.... The game twisted and turned dramatically to give us our first #Finalist at #IPL2016.

Playing at home and in serious form, #RCB were firm favorites in this match although #GLions were ahead of them in the points table. Their weakness, bowling, is coming full circle and delivering on the back of some extraordinary batting performances from their top order.

#ViratKohli won the toss and expectedly put the #Lions into bat. Knowing very well that #Finch and #Baz #McCullum were going to come strong at them, he employed a surprise move to counter them. #Abdulla, the left arm spinner was employed in 2nd over. 

Voila ... immediate results. Baz misread the flight and smashed one down #AB's throat and three balls later #Finch edged one to slips where Gayle's bucket hands sunk the ball in. In walked skipper #SureshRaina under a lot of pressure. Two overs later, Watson employed Raina's bete noire, the rising bouncer, and induced a miscued pull to #Fineleg where #Aravind took a good low catch.

9 for 3 in 4 overs.
Round 1 to RCB. 
Huge advantage with all biggies back in the hut.

However, experienced heads in #DineshKarthik and #DRSmith got together to start the repair act. Smith was aggressive while Karthik circumspect. Together they added 85 runs 10 overs to balance things out. Smith was really aggressive against Watson, Chahal and Abdulla.

94 for 3 in 13.4 overs
Round 2 to GL
Parity restored.

After the customary #StrategicTimeOut, #ChrisJordan struck for RCB castling Karthik. 
#Jadeja and #DRSmith didn't last long either both perishing to Watson's experience.

115 fo 6 in 16.3 overs
Round 3 to RCB
GL slumped from a good platform to survival yet again.

The final push depended on #Bravo. He was joined by #Dwivedi who played a refreshing quickfire knock to boost the GL score. He smashed two sixes off Watson before holing it out to long on. Bravo followed him rightaway but some swinging by #DhawalKulkarni ensured GL managed to garner 158 from their allotted 20 overs. Neither below nor above par. These totals make games interesting.

158 all out in 20 overs. DR Smith - lnychpin of that innings.
Advantage RCB with their long batting lineup.
Don't count the GL just yet though. They have topped the league stages and know how to handle these situations.

The sight of #Gayle and #Kohli coming out to bat can send jitters down opposition bowlers' spines.
With 159 to get, they were in no hurry to blast away. 
But, #DhawalKulkarni had different ideas.

He steamed in to induce a false shot from #KillerKohli back onto his stumps for naught! The unthinkable had happened. Virat's first duck in 51 innings and what a time to get it? Qualifier1 of the IPL? He had not added anything to his season total of 919.

In his very next over, #Dhawal inflicted more damage. First he castled Gayle with a beautiful yorker on off stump and the very next ball foxed #KLRahul to edge behind to slips. 25 fo 3. 

Raina smartly got #Jadeja against #Watson and was rewarded immediately. Watto smashed hit one down DR Smiths throat while in the next over, Dhawal account for #SachinBaby too. 

29 for 5 in 5.3 overs.
Round 4 to GLions
RCB in complete disarray and looking down the barrel.

#AB their only hope now was joined by #StuartBinny. Binnuy swung his bat a bit to add some quick runs to get the momentum going, but was out soon after when #Jadeja trapped him leg-before right after a #StrategicTimeOut. 

68 for 6 in 9.4 overs.
Round 5 to GL
All but over for RCB unless AB delivers a magical innings.

And he set out doing just that with help of #Abdulla.
With rain looming large, he choose to attack the bowling while Abdulla got his eye in.

Together they crossed, 75, 100, 125 and 150. 
AB the ravage boundary hitter while Abdulla the touch master.
Raina tried every trick in the book to outsmart #AB but Dhawal's spell was already over, Jakati was disappointing while Bravo and Kumar were also taken for runs. 

When Abdulla hit the winning runs, the RCB conttingent poured out on the field congratulating AB and Abdulla on their Houdini act. What looked like a dead and buried game 10 overs ago, beacame theirs. RCB had qualified for the IPL finals! 

Raina looked dejected but admitted they lost to better team while Kohli looked relieved considering the horrendous position they were in.

Man of the Match: A B Devilliers

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Sunday 22 May 2016

IPL 2016 RCB And DD Battle In Knockout Epic

#DD v #RCB

This is the last match of the league stage.
This is the match that will give us the 4th entrant into the Qualifiers.
All calculations, permutations and combinations have been rested now.
Simple. Winner takes all.

The edge?
Surely with #RCB considering how they have comeback in this tournament. #ViratKohli and #ABDeviliers have masterminded that comeback with some scintillating batting performances. More so by Virat with his 4 classy hundreds and amassing 865 runs so far. Will he (or rather when will he reach 1000 runs in this IPL season is anyone's guess). Bowling which has been their biggest pain point seems to be falling in place aided by a big bank of runs by #AB-VK safe vaults.

If they win today, they go to 2nd position on that table giving them two chances to qualify for the final (a huge incentive).

#DD on the other hand have been silent achievers, much so like the eternal #RahulDravid career. Silent but gigantic achievements, that's it. No fuss. No hoopla... They have combined well to deliver the goods. Had it not been for their too-much chop-n-change policy, they could have easily qualified by now. Their bowling is very balanced and their batting seems to have the depth to take on any attack.

All in all a mouth watering clash at Raipur.

May the best team win.
Who will win?

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IPL 2016 - Yusuf Powers KKR To Playoffs Thumping SRH


#KKR needing a MUST WIN match to progress toward #IPL2016 playoffs, played out of their skin to defeat (an already qualified) #SRH by 22 runs at #EdenGardens. On a tacky wicket that offered spin and bounce, they first posted a very competitive 171 (20 runs above par) and then their spinners strangled the SRH batsmen restricting them to 149 for 8.

Yusuf Pathan was undoubtedly the star of the show with his stoic innings. His role (as explained by #Gambhir in the match presentation) has been changed from brisk finisher to cool finisher. He takes his time, builds his innings and then explodes towards the end to guide his team through. He has done that a few times this season and this augurs well for #KKR as they head to the playoffs.

For #SRH, there are warning bells at the business end of the season. Their bowling (undoubtedly their better strength) looked jaded throughout, although they pulled it back in the last five overs. #Mustafizir is looking good, #Bhuvaneshwar and co. looked just OK and that's the area they need to watch out for. Batting remains a worry. Too much dependence on #Warner although #Dhawan did play a good knock today. Consistency seems to be lacking. #KaneWilliamson cannot explode but plays the holding game well. #Yuvraj has been on-off .. so bit of worry for #SRH and they need to really tighten up.

For #KKR, their #Spinners are coming good especially #SunilNarine who finished a fine spell today (3 for 26, his best this season so far). Others in #Piyush, #Yusuf playing their part well. Big loss in #Russell having to retire due to injury but all in all, they look in shape as they move to the qualifiers.

Man of the Match:
Yusuf Pathan

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IPL 2016 - Gujarat Lions Dim Mumbai Indians Chances To Qualify

#GL vs #MI
#Kanpur, #GreenPark

Going into the last game of their respective campaigns, both teams had different agenda.
While #GujaratLions were seeking to top the table and go into Qualifier 1 (which gives them two shots at the Final), #MumbaiIndians were in a Must-Win situation to scrape through to the qualifiers by winning and hoping some results go their way. High stakes for both sides.

On a friendly deck at the #GreenPark, MI took first strike and suddenly found themselves in a hole.
After a brisk 30, captain #RohitSharma perished (huge blow in context of the game). He was soon followed by #Guptill and #KrunalPandya leaving Mumbai tottering at 45 for 3. #DhavalKulkarni and #DRSmith doing the damage for #GL.

Youngster #NitishRana and England batting mainstay #JosButtler then set about resurrecting the #MI innings. Rana was the aggressor surprisingly and his clean hitting was a pleasure to witness. Refreshing energy and audacious strokeplay made his innings very interesting but of priceless value for MI.

When Buttler fell for 33 off a brilliant c&b by #DJBravo, the scoreboard read 120 for 4, 13.4 overs.
An ideal launch pad for #Pollard to come in and take the game away from #GL. The well set Rana was going great guns as he smashed the Gujarat bowlers all over the place.

Rana was eventually out for a brilliant 70 (36 balls, 7 fours, 4 sixes). This eventually turned out to be the turning point in the game. Mumbai lost steam after that and last 3 overs only saw 19 runs accumulated. Pollard fell, Hardik Pandya couldn't hit a ball from the middle of the bat and Harbhajan's wild swings could only reach safe hands of long on. 

From a brilliant 153 for 5 in 17 overs, MI capitulated to 172 for 7 in 20 overs. 20 runs short. Massive in a #T20 game. Brilliant spells from Bravo and #PravinKumar minimized damage in the end overs.

It was upto Gujarat to lose the game since the target was well below par.
And their start was abysmal. #AaronFinch was out second ball trapped plumb in front by #VinayKumar. Captain #SureshRaina coming in 1-drop looked shaky upfront trying to move around the crease but unable to connect. The Big #Baz #McCullum wasn't looking comfortable either. However, #McClenaghan's over changed all that.  Raina smashed him for 3 fours and a six to change the momentum #GL way.

No looking back after that as Baz and Raina completed demoralized the MI bowlers, smashing them all over the park before McCullum was out with score on 96 in the 10th over. Comfortably placed.

#DineshKarthik got a rough caught behind decision while Raina's pyrotechnics to finish the game lobbed a straight one to the keeper made the game interesting. MI had a sniff. Or did they? Dr. Smith razed all their hopes biffing boundaries and sixes galore. #Jadeja finished the game with a heave over extra cover that eluded Guptill's outstretched hands for the winning single. Gujarat had won the match by 6 wickets.

Raina's blitzkrieg innings earned him the man of the match award.
Some really ordinary fielding from MI contributed to their loss as well.

Gujarat now top of the league assured of  1 or 2 finish (depending of how #SRH finish after their match against #KKR). #SRH confirmed of qualification though. #MI will have to wait for #KKR v #SRH and #DD v #RCB game' results and hope to scrape through.

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IPL 2016 - Dhoni Proves He Is Still Force To Reckon With vs KXIP

#RisingPuneSupergiants vs #KXIP
21st May 2016, Vizag

Billed as the "Battle for the Bottom Of Table" clash, this was an inconsequential rubber between two sides that struggled throughout the season (especially KXIP who couldn't raise the bar when needed while RPS couldn't deliver knockout punches in those closing moments).

#MuraliVijay has done wonders for his own form since promotion to captaincy (at the expense of David Miller) halfway through the season. He is playing like a dream and continued his brilliant run with yet another fluent half century. With the classy #Amla for company he gave #KXIP a great start adding 60 in 7 overs before Amla fell.

After #Saha fell cheaply, he got together with #Gurkeerat to push their team with another 58 run stand. Unfortunately, he was bowled by #RAshwin and that put brakes on their scoring too. A flurry of wickets for Ashwin (his best bowling performance after a long, long time and his poor form has led to RPS failing to qualify for the Qualifiers/Eliminator) meant the score read 172 for 7 in 20 overs. 15 runs short.

However, as they always say "Runs On the Board" always plays a vital role in crunch games when pressure is on. #Rahane and #Khawaja started well but #Sandeep snapped Rahane while #AxarPatel foxed #Bailey to pull things back. #SaurabhTiwary and Khawaja smashed a few but 3 wickets in 2 overs for addition of just 8 runs pushed Pune completely on the backfoot. From 78 for 2 they slumped to 85 for 5 in a blink of an eye.

Situation perfectly positioned for the "Greatest Finisher Of All Time" - #MSDhoni. He first steadied the landslide with #ThisaraPerera to get the game within his striking zone. His usual tactic of taking the game deep and building up pressure on the other side.

The equation 2 overs - 30 runs to win. Steep but right in the MS Zone...

The make things worse, Perera was out first ball of the 19th over caught behind off Mohit. A big blow since Perera;s lusty hits were crucial for RPS cause. R Ashwin joined him. Again he steadied himself that over with just 7 runs taking the game to the last over. Last overs are MS Dynasty.

Still 23 from 6 was a bit too much for Dhoni, who has not been in great form off-late in close matches.

Ball 1 - DOT BALL - Gold dust! Axar fires this one into #Dhoni who mistimes it mid-wicket.

Ball 2 - WIDE ... Pressure of bowling to #Dhoni!! Axar fires this down leg and Saha does well to gather that wide.

Ball 2 - CRASSSSH .... SIX over long on. #MS powers this with brute force.

Ball 3 - CRACK ... BUT WHAT A SAVE !!! ... Dhoni smashes this over cover and wants to enjoy that boundary. In flies superman #Amla and makes an unbelievable stop on the boundary. Big chance to snap two missed by Dhoni. Is this the moment?

Ball 4 - VHOOM .... Dhoni corrects his shot making line and smashes this one  over long off for a one bounce boundary. Well done. #Axar under tremendous pressure now to defend 12 from 2 balls.

Ball 5- SMASSSSH - Cows corner is beckoning and MS pulverizes that short delivery to deep midwicket. What calmness and power under pressure! #Axar the opposite - cringy and sweaty.

6  needed to win. 4 wont do. Has to be the maximum.

Ball 6 - HELICOPTER SHOT ! - Flicks this one in his inimitable style over mid-wicket once again! Better delivery from #Axar but #Dhoni is right upto it, clears his front leg and launches this one to finish an incredible game in the coolest way possible.

No expressions of joy on his face. Usual self. Coolly walks to his partner Ashwin and hugs him. No bellowing, hand gestures, angry face or relief. That's #CaptainCool #MSDhoni for you.

KXIP shouldn't be disappointed. They ran into the Finishing Machine who just turned it on tonight.

RPS ending their campaign in 7th place, KXIP in 8th on the points table. Both teams eliminated from the championship. But, owing to Dhoni ... RPS won the battle of honour.

Man of the Match: M S Dhoni

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Monday 2 May 2016

IPL 2016 - Weak Bowling Teams Paying Heavy Price In Points Table

What is common between Rising Pune Super Giants led by MS Dhoni, Royal Challengers Bangalore led by Virat Kohli and Kings XI Punjab led by Murali Vijay (David Miller was dropped off his captaincy last week)?

They are lurking at the bottom of the IPL points table.


Pretty simple. Ordinary bowling lineups.
All teams seem to be powerpacked with batting geniuses but their bowling has let them down so badly, they are already on their way out at the half way stage of the competition itself. T20 is funny and anything can happen ... but from the looks of it, none of these 3 teams deserve to make it to the top 4 on current form.

RCB - A batting warehouse this - Kohli, AB Devilliers, Gayle, Watson have been putting up scores in excess of 180 in almost every game. Yet their bowlers have not been able to defend them putting them at risk of early elimination.

RPS - Again batting heavy - Rahane, DuPlessis, Steve Smith, KP, Dhoni. They have been hurt with injuries to top batsmen but again, their bowlers have let them down each time. Mediocre really. Very surprising that MS Dhoni is captaining this side without having a say in the selection? With all due respect to Dinda, Ashwin twins, Perera ... they are looking jaded and almost done with the IPL already.

KXIP - Batting strong again - Vijay, Maxwell, Miller, Shaun Marsh. And although they have collectively failed, the bowling is the bigger weaklink for them too.

Teams will good bowling units are performing really well. Gujarat Lions, Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad have all combined both arts to stay in the hunt. Looks like these 5 teams will battle it out for the four qualification spots (apart from a miracle when one of the lower teams stages a massive comeback).

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