“Victory is not about accepting every little challenge thrown at you. Sometimes you hold back and when it’s needed, you go for it.” – Sachin Tenudlkar
“Victory is not about accepting every little challenge thrown at you. Sometimes you hold back and when it’s needed, you go for it.” – Sachin Tenudlkar
The curtains of IPL 2017 fell this Sunday midnight. Thanks to it, the fans watched some great cricket in the last six weeks. Mumbai Indians won the title for a record third time beating Rising Pune Supergiants in a nail-biting thriller. Rohit Sharma became the only captain to have led his team to the trophy thrice, leaving MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir (2 each) behind.
IPL 2017 appeared as a festival rather than a T20 tournament. It’s more because the way the organizers celebrated the 10th anniversary of this stunning league which brings the best international stars from around the world to team up with young Indian talents. The analysts say that the balanced teams achieve greater success than others in IPL.
Cricket is a team game. But in the shortest format, often a particular player grabs all the attention with monstrous batting efforts or maybe delivering a flurry of well-aimed yorkers. 4 overs of just one mystery spinner give his team an edge over the opponents, whereas a hard-hitting finisher can snatch the match away from ugliest of situations!
I attempted to assemble the best performers of IPL 2017. My ‘IPL XI of the Season’ fulfills every criteria to constitute an IPL playing XI. To maintain the rules of having at least one uncapped cricketer as well as maximum four foreigners, we had to skip some great players with good season statistics in this team unfortunately.
Undoubtedly, he once again emerged as the best batsman of IPL this season. Leading Sunrisers Hyderabad from the front, he and Shikhar Dhawan built the innings of their team almost every game, opening the innings together. Warner ended the season with a whooping 641 runs from 14 matches. Also, he is joint-highest in the list of six-hitters with Glenn Maxwell, hitting the ball 26 times out of the park. With one sublime ton against Kolkata Knight Riders, and 4 fifties, he is perfect to open the innings for ‘IPL XI’.
Amla was unfortunate that he had to return midway this IPL to complete his national duties. But the 10 matches he played for Kings XI Punjab franchise, his performance was laudable. Amla is the only player to have hit two centuries this season. He stunned everyone with his knocks of 104 not out and 104 against Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Lions respectively. He notched up his tally to 420 runs in a striking average of 60.
This IPL was a treat for the opening batsmen, for the way they scored some fine knocks using the field restrictions adequately. Except these two, Shikhar Dhawan, Parthiv Patel, Sanju Samson, Ajinkya Rahane, Chris Lynn and the emerging talent Rahul Tripathi were the ones who impressed.
The second highest run-getter of this season, the Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir once again displayed his exceptional strategies. Everyone was awestruck when he brought the star spinner Sunil Narine along to open the KKR innings versus Kings XI Punjab. Narine scored a quickfire 18-ball-37, followed by the fastest 15-ball-50 versus Royal Challengers Bangalore later on. Gambhir struck a total 61 fours this season to score 498 runs in 16 innings. He led his team to third position, before losing to Mumbai Indians in the second qualifier.
It was a disastrous season for him as a captain. The lack of vision from Gujarat Lions team management during the auction weakened their bowling lineup. The few number of matches that they won, fans should thank their batting. Raina scored 442 runs this season at a strike rate of 143.97 and an average of 40. He also recovered the top spot for highest total IPL runs from Virat Kohli.
In the modern era, a perfect wicket-keeper is one who keeps wicket efficiently and also score runs consistently. The 18-year old Roorkee boy smashed 28 fours and 24 sixes to score 366 runs from 14 innings in a majestic strike rate of 165! The best for him this season was the innings of 97 off just 56 balls he scored chasing 209 versus Gujarat Lions. He missed his maiden IPL ton by a whisker, but made sure Delhi Daredevils win the match with 15 balls to spare. He took 8 catches and did 3 stumping standing behind the wicket.
Some other notable middle-order batsmen who impressed are – Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa, Kieron Pollard, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, Nitish Rana, Rohit Sharma and Manoj Tiwary.
The most valuable player of IPL 2017, Ben Stokes of England had been the star all-rounder of Rising Pune Supergiants this season. He was one of the reasons why RPSG surged a marvelous comeback from a bad start of the season. Making his IPL debut, Stokes scored 316 runs, took 12 wickets and grabbed 5 stupendous catches this season. Thanks to his maiden ton, RPSG saw its first victory over Gujarat Lions in 2 years. Due to international commitments, he missed the playoffs, which was definitely a huge setback for RPSG.
The elder of the Pandya brothers, Krunal scored 243 runs and cracked 10 wickets in 13 games he played for Mumbai Indians. He was brilliant in the field too, specially creating some wonderful ‘caught Krunal bowled Hardik’ moments with his brother. What most mattered was the two brilliant knocks from him under pressure in the Qualifier 2 vs Kolkata Knight Riders and in the low-scoring final against Rising Pune Supergiants. Mumbai was tottering at 79/7, when Krunal started his fight with tail-ender Mitchell Johnson. Krunal ended at 47 runs off 38 balls, and Mumbai eventually won the match by 1 run!
The surprise package in the all-rounders’ list would be Sunil Narine this season. Glenn Maxwell, Axar Patel and Hardik Pandya also showed their worth with vigorous all-round skills.
When Sunrisers Hyderabad was going high for the rookie Afghanistan legbreak spinner Rashid in the bid, everyone was surprised a lot. The 18-year old created more surprise with the ball in hand this summer! He has scalped a total of 17 wickets in 14 matches giving only 6.62 runs per over. The best part of it was how the globally accomplished batsmen like Brendon McCullum, David Miller, Aaron Finch, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir struggled to his googlies. The 5th placeholder in ICC T20I ranking can undoubtedly be termed as ‘find of the season’!
Spinners Imran Tahir, Pawan Negi and Axar Patel were in top form too this summer.
The UP right-arm medium pacer was holding the purple cap for his performance in 2016. He did not let it go this time too. Sublime in form from the start of the season, Kumar was able to scalp as many as 26 wickets in just 14 games. His bowling partners in Sunrisers Hyderabad changed from Ashish Nehra to Siddharth Kaul to Mohammad Siraj, but he went on to perform his duty consistently.
He had a great season for Kolkata Knight Riders long back in 2013. But he was lost after inconsistent performances in the shortest format. Once improved under the coaching of Wasim Akram, Unadkat made a strong comeback this season for the Rising Pune Supergiants. Captain Steve Smith kept belief in him, and Unadkat valued that faith accurately. After sitting in the bench for first four games, Unadkat replaced Ashok Dinda in the playing XI, and took 24 wickets in rest 12 matches. He ended just second to Bhuvneshwar in the best bowlers’ list. He was acrobatic in the field too, having caught some splendid catches.
The current best Indian death bowler bowled a brilliant miser spell picking ferocious finisher MS Dhoni in the close final encounter to help his team Mumbai Indians clinch the trophy, winning the match by just 1 run. He has been dangerous this season in the final overs, pitching the yorkers repeatedly. 3rd in the ‘Purple Cap’ list, Bumrah ended the season with 20 wickets beside his name, and of course, the prestigious IPL 2017 trophy!
Some other pacers who were dynamic with the ball in hand were Mitchell McClenaghan, Sandeep Sharma, Siddharth Kaul, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Woakes and Umesh Yadav.
One of the best batsmen of current generation, Steve Smith was appointed captain of Rising Pune Supergiants early this year. The pressure was heavy on him as he replaced MS Dhoni, the most successful international captain in last 10 years. He took the charge of RPSG after losing a heated Test series versus India 2-1. RPSG did not have a great start this season, but they propelled on later so well that they qualified into playoffs as the second best team. Beating Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier, and restricting the same rivals to a low score in the final, Smith almost took his team to its maiden IPL title. Unfortunately, some brilliant bowling from Mumbai crashed their dreams as his 51-ball-50 also went in vein. Although he ended as the runner-up captain, he was definitely one of the exciting leaders this season!
What changes would you like to do if you were the selector? Share your squads in the comments section below.
“I have my flaws too,
But I’m a PROFESSIONAL
who doesn’t like to miss or lose.”
The Indian Premier League is almost 3 weeks old now, having completed its first 23 games. This season has appeared quite competitive, as every team has delivered some surprises, dismantling the opponents in certain matches. The star players proved again why they got the highest of bids in the auction. Even some expensive cricketers flopped, not being able to cope up with the Indian conditions in front of a large roaring crowd. Among all these incidents, one young Indian boy caught the attention of every IPL fan. The Mumbai Indians rookie Nitish Rana has been splendid this season with the bat in hand.
The 23 year-old middle-order batsman Rana started his career for Delhi, his home team, at the age of 18. The left-hand attacking batsman has developed himself under the coaching of Sanjay Bhardwaj, in the same club with Gautam Gambhir. Gambhir, the present Delhi captain too has backed Rana a lot, before he joined the Mumbai Indians franchise.
Rana made his first-class and List A debut in the 2015-16 domestic season for Delhi. He was immensely successful in the long format as well as in the limited-over ones. After scoring most runs among any Delhi batsmen in the Ranji trophy, he was second to Unmukt Chand in highest run-getters list in the Vijay Hazare 50-overs tournament. When it came to the shortest format, i.e., Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 contest, Rana was the 7th best batsman in the nation with 299 runs in 7 games at a whooping strike rate of 175.88!
His success in domestic cricket hence resulted in his inclusion in the Mumbai Indians 2016 squad. He played just 4 matches that season, though he scored a brilliant 36-ball-70 in a lost affair with Gujarat Lions. But the meeting with coach Ricky Ponting transformed Rana’s mindset completely.
In the 2016-17 domestic season, Rana was controversially dropped from the Delhi squad, which resulted in a feud between Gambhir and the coach, KP Bhaskar. However, he set his target at the glamorous stage of IPL, in which he would be representing the same franchise as of last year.
All his hard work brought him great success, as he went on to score big knocks consistently in 5 out of 6 matches Mumbai Indians played till now. The tally reads:-
Before the game versus Delhi Daredevils tonight, Rana already has 255 runs beside his name this season. He is the second highest run-scorer till now this edition, and is running behind the ‘Orange Cap’ every game! Rana has hit 16 sixes this IPL, joint highest with Brendon McCullum currently.
Given his destructive form and his ability of hitting clean sixes, he may be considered for the national team selections soon. Before that, Rana needs to continue the demolition like what he’s doing these days.
Also, Rana did not forget to credit former Indian cricketer and the current mentor of the Mumbai Indians, Sachin Tendulkar, for his accomplishments.
In India, the game of cricket is considered almost a religion! After an underdog India clinched the World Cup trophy in 1983, this nation has been ruling over this sport since then, in performance and popularity. It is extremely tough to choose any 10 among the hundreds of epic batting innings India have produced ever. Still, I have attempted here to present such a list containing Indian cricketers who represented the national team post-2000 (and some, before that too).
As the dimensions of the cricket ground at the Captain Roop Singh stadium was lower than the natural Indian standards, fans thought Virender Sehwag, the demolishing Indian opener would love to hit a big score here, but it was Little Master, Sachin Tendulkar, who utilized the condition, and went on to score the first ever double century in international limited over format. The scoreboard read 200 not out off 147 balls for Sachin, while India posted a steep target of 402, leading to a big win over South Africa.
After losing two group matches against South Africa and Zimbabwe, India were desperate to win some to qualify for the next round of 1999 World Cup. The opportunity came in the very next match versus Sri Lanka, where the skipper Sourav Ganguly built a record 318 run partnership with Rahul Dravid, with himself scoring a blinder 183 off 158 balls. India won the match by 157 runs, secured their hope of qualification and eventually went on the play final against Australia.
Virender Sehwag’s 309 in Multan test set the notion of a batsman-dominated India-Pakistan Test series in 2004, but Pakistan came back strong and leveled the series 1-1 with the decider left at Rawalpindi. Rahul Dravid, the no. 3 batsman came to the pitch at the very second ball of the innings, and stayed for 740 long minutes to help India reach 593 before his fall as the 9th wicket. He had no problem in smashing the Pak bowlers to score 270 odd runs with 34 boundaries and 1 six. India won the match with an innings and 131 runs to take the trophy home.
It was an India-New Zealand one day match which was bullied by a storm, to be honest, two storms – one, which reduced the overs, and one who stunned the opposition with his power-hitting. Batting first, New Zealand put on 270 off 47 overs, but as rain was hitting frequently, the concerns raised about a hike in the required run rate which India had to chase, due to reduction in overs as per the Duckworth-Lewis rule. Openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir decided to get as much big score as possible until the game is halted by another spell of shower, and the former took the charge, scoring a century off just 60 balls, ending at 125 not out of 74 balls, with 14 fours and 6 sixes. India was at 201/0 in just 23.3 overs, when the game had to be stopped permanently for the day, but as India was ahead of D/L par of 83 runs, they were decided the winner.
India was chasing a mere 216 in the 4th innings, but it’s always hard to score runs in the final innings on a pacer-friendly Mohali wicket. India was tottering at 124/8 one stage, with only VVS remaining at the crease as a specialist batsman. As always, a second innings Laxman had been dangerous for the Aussies, here too he started building a partnership with tail-ender Ishant Sharma. Both kept on rotating singles, and put a partnership of 81 runs off just 130 balls. As Ishant fell for 31 with 11 runs remaining for the victory with last wicket in hand, ‘Very Very Special’ Laxman was facing 4-5 deliveries each over and allowing an inexperienced Pragyan Ojha to face the remaining, so that he can get the strike back next over. Ojha almost created a chance of run out, but Laxman kept his cool and went on the score the winning runs. His unbeaten 73 runs were most crucial in this hard-fought victory.
No one can forget this onslaught by an angry young Punjabi, Yuvraj Singh, on a young Briton pacer, Stuart Broad, who came to bowl after a heated conversation between Yuvi and Andrew Flintoff. A fierce Yuvraj kept on swinging the bat for all the next six balls, and recorded the only ‘6 sixes in an over’ in T20 international cricket! He scored 58 runs in just 14 balls, taking India to 218/4 in 20 overs, before winning the World Cup Group Stage game by 18 runs.
On way of India’s limp to the No. 1 ranking in Test cricket under MS Dhoni’s captaincy, the second Test between India and New Zealand was one of the very significant games, that proved why India deserved that position. Following on with a 314-run trail on head in the second innings, India had no option but to somehow bat through two full days continuously to save the Test. The Delhi left-hander led the troops with scoring a patient, resilient 137 runs off 436 deliveries! Charge of good Kiwi pace bowling display could not dismantle his defense till the final session of the Test match. Later, Laxman and Yuvraj made it sure that India draw this Test.
It was the India-Sri lanka-West Indies tri-nation series final match between India and Sri Lanka, where the bowlers from both the teams were feeling the charm of heaven. Sri lanka were all out for 201, but India could not take advantage of such a low target, and faltered to 182/9 at one stage. Indian skipper MS Dhoni managed to take the game to the last over, in partnership with Ishant Sharma, but the target was 15 runs from it. Dhoni missed to hit the first delivery, but then hit a big six, followed by a four and finally another long six to finish the game for India! It was one the Dhoni’s best finishes ever in One Dayers.
It was another epic India-Pakistan game in the 2012 Asia Cup league stage, where Virat Kohli stole the limelight away, announcing the entry of a new, modified, beast run-machine, who would later carry on Indian batting just like what Sachin Tendulkar had done till 2013. India was 0/1 chasing a high target of 330 against the arch-rivals, when Virat came and played flamboyant shots all around the ground. Pak bowlers could not find an answer to his aggression, and Kohli took advantage of their nervous display to score a tremendous knock of 183 unbeaten in 148 balls, helping his team chase the target successfully with 13 balls to spare.
MS Dhoni was suspended due to slow over rate in previous games, so Virat Kohli led Indian team at Eden Gardens, against a young Sri Lankan team. Before this match, who knew that this Mumbaikar opener would break multiple batting records in this very match? Rohit ‘Hitman’ Sharma started slow, scored 50 in 72 balls, then raised his speed to reach the hundred in 100 balls. Then followed massive destruction of the Lankan bowlers by Rohit’s bat, while he scored next 100 runs in just 50 balls, to reach an ODI double hundred second time as the only batsman in the world! He did not stop there, carried on humiliating the opponents, and reached world record 264 runs, with 33 fours and 9 sixes aside his name. The whole Sri Lanka could manage just 251 runs in reply, and as Twitterattis explained – ‘Sri Lanka lost to Rohit Sharma by 13 runs!’
Yes indeed, our girls nailed it. The likes of PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar made the entire nation proud with their stellar performances. But, with this being the largest ever Indian contingent of 119 athletes at Rio, we were all more than a little disappointed with the way our athletes performed at the grandest stage of world sports, finishing at the 67th spot. And not to mention, we got trolled by the international community too, because to be brutally honest, we screwed up this time too. There it all started, when one is upset over something, it is human tendency to find other people to blame for it. This fuelled the debate over whether it is the authorities at fault or is it the complacency of the athletes that led to this lacklustre performance of Indian athletes at Rio,2016.
First of all, we all do need to agree that the level of awareness about Olympics has gone a few notches higher over the past few decades. The infrastructure has become better and the athletes are given something to work with, but is this really ENOUGH? A country of 1.2 billion and the world’s largest youth population, certainly has the calibre of producing more than two medal winning athletes, given the right kind of grooming. The kind of money spent by India on sporting infrastructure is a fraction of the amount spent by fellow competitors like US ,UK, China. But, what is more shameful is that the money spent by India per Olympic athlete is less than what a much financially weaker Nigeria or Kenya spends on it’s athletes. It is this desire to perform and excel at the highest level that makes them do unexpectedly well at Olympics throughout the years and the lack of this desire is the reason a country like ours has under-performed throughout the history of the Olympics. Our metros have some decent infrastructure, but most of our talent comes from the rural part of India and most of them are unable to make the cut due to financial liabilities. This issue is of utmost importance and needs to be addressed immediately. We also need to ensure that the infrastructure in place is available to athletes at all times and is not used for any other purpose. Just to elucidate on this, a sporting stadium is not a place for conducting political rallies or protest marches, it is the breeding ground for some of the finest athletes in the country. Also, it is extremely disturbing to know that politicians who accompany athletes to ‘cheer’ them get to travel in business class, whereas those very athletes need to suffer having to travel in economy class over such a long duration of flight. This kind of misallocations need to be stopped if we expect any kind if progress in the near future.
Although, it is seemingly unfair to blame the authorities for everything. Indian athletes over the years have made this infamous reputation of crumbling under pressure. They somehow need to hold on to their nerves in these crunch situations and no amount of sporting infrastructure or training will help in this regard. It has to be their sheer determination and will power which will eventually push them over the line. This Olympics has also been witness to many such instances. A veteran shooter like Abhinav Bindra faltered under pressure, thus resulting in him loosing out on an elusive medal. Seasoned campaigners like Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna cannot complain about the lack of facilities, they were expected to clinch gold but faltered twice in a span of less than 24hours against opponents ranked lower than them, thus lndia’s tennis squad had to return empty handed. After having competed so well against Russia in the women’s archery quarter finals, a score of 6(10) from Laxmi Rani Manjhi is unacceptable and thus resulted in India crashing out of this event too.
No matter how much we deny it, sometime it is just about pure LUCK, and this by far was India’s unluckiest Olympics. We could have easily had a handful of medals had luck been on our side, but that was not to be. Nevertheless, the level of enthusiasm shown by Indian’s in this particular Olympics is unprecedented and this is exactly what we need. We need to get behind our athletes just like we root for our cricketers hence winning greater glory for our country. The level of energy that was felt on the streets for Sindhu’s finals was perhaps second only to the World Cup final at Wankhede in 2011.Private organisations like Olympic Gold Quest and Reliance have really pitched in in order to ensure the welfare of the athletes and giving them the best the possibly could.
To sum this article up in a nutshell, we have certainly made strides in the right direction but will need a dedicated and combined effort from the authority, athletes and the people if we want to see the tricolour flying much more frequently at the Olympics podium. Let’s hope that day is not too far away, JAI HIND.:)
After providing some non-stop cricketing entertainment for last two months, the 9th edition of Indian Premier League has come to its end with one of the underrated teams – SunRisers Hyderabad, led by a valiant David Warner, clinching the trophy yesterday midnight.
Let’s have a glimpse on the I.P.L. Season 9 Combined XI based on the best performances in all forms (Batting, Bowling, Fielding, Wicket-keeping, Captaincy) as displayed throughout the tournament:-
While Virat Kohli had been continuing his form of life into IPL as the Royal Challengers Bangalore Opening Batsman-cum-Skipper, David Warner surprised everyone as the captain of the champion team SunRisers Hyderabad, as throughout the season, he pulled his team scorecard through tremendous destructive consistent batting as an opener! The South African class batsman AB de Villiers chased the higher scores with sky-touching strike rate for the RCB. His 129 not out against the Gujarat Lions was the highest individual score this season.
Coming to the middle order, it’s the debutant elder brother of World T20 heartthrob Hardik Pandya – Krunal Pandya, who stole all the praises with his demolishing batting and part-time off-spin for the Mumbai Indians. Dwayne Smith – the Gujarat Lions opener who was pushed to no. 5 in the batting order during the later stage of the tournament, scored many runs at a huge strike rate, as well as, bowled some useful overs, even taking a 4/8 against Kolkata Knight Riders on a green Kanpur pitch! Naman Ojha of Sunrisers Hyderabad led the catching tally, and he had grabbed some spectacular unbelievable catches too. Andre Russell had been an inseparable part of the Kolkata Knight Riders squad, because be it death bowling or be it high required run rate, Russell solved numerous problems for KKR under massive pressure until he got injured.
Among the spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal of Royal Challengers Bangalore bowled good and is rewarded the opportunity to represent the national team soon in Zimbabwe. Dhawal Kulkarni showed his consistency over different surfaces all over India, taking 18 wickets for his team at a decent economy rate. The pacers squad for this IPL invented one and reinvented another as the best duo, that too from the champion team – Bhuvneshwar Kumar (the Purple Cap holder) and Mustafizur Rahman (Best Emerging Player of this season). Bhuvi too played one cameo innings of 21 off 7 balls which helped SRH clinch an important victory. Mustafizur had troubled some good batsmen with his controlled bowling, off-cutters and yorkers and took 17 wickets maintaining an economy of just 6.90.
Though they don’t feature in the best XI, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Shane Watson, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Zampa and Chris Morris had a good IPL this year.