The Indian IPL XI for World Cup

The IPL is going to be followed by the T20 World Cup in West Indies. As per some “hard to understand” ICC rules, all countries had to announce their teams one month before the tournament starts. As a result, many players who are out of form in the ongoing IPL have been selected and many in-form players have been left out. Kris Srikanth, chairman of selectors, has also remarked recently that it is unfortunate that some of the players in good form in IPL have to miss out of the World Cup T20. I am trying to list below a team “Indian IPL XI“, which will include only those Indian players from the IPL who have not been considered for the World Cup. My contention is that if this team enters the World Cup, they would perform as well as the national Indian team.

The team follows –

1.   Murali Vijay* – Opener
2.   Naman Ojha – Opener / wk
3.   Robin Uthappa – Batsman / Captain
4.   Saurabh Tiwary – Batsman
5.   Virat Kohli – Batsman
6.   S. Badrinath – Batsman
7.   Irfan Pathan – All Rounder
8.   Pragyan Ojha – Spin Bowler
9.   RP Singh – Pace Bowler
10.  Sidharth Trivedi – Pace Bowler
11.  Ishant Sharma – Pace Bowler
12.  Amit Mishra – Spin Bowler
13.  Ashok Dinda – Pace Bowler
14.  T. Suman – Batsman

*Murali Vijay was later included in the side as Sehwag got injured.

P.S. – I have not included Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble and Tendulkar as they have retired / refused to play in the World Cup.

7 Innovations which make IPL fun to watch

Business, Bollywood and Cricket

Business, Bollywood and Cricket

The IPL has taken the country by storm for the third year in the running. But more so, it has taken cricket by storm. If you ask somebody what is IPL and he replies – “It is India’s domestic T20 cricket tournament”, you can’t be more wrong. IPL is the perfect mixture of glamour, fun and entertainment making it a complete package for cricket and bollywood crazy Indians. No doubt it is such a success in a country like ours, where cricket, apart from being a sport, also unites Indians like nothing else. T20s will continue after the IPL too (for the rest of the year), but an IPL match will only come back next year.

Here are the list of 7 top innovations which make an IPL match stand out from (normal) T20 matches –

1. Cheerleaders – Cheerleading is basically an US phenomena that include elements of tumbling, dance, cheers, jumps and stunting to direct spectators of events to cheer. The cheerleaders in IPL have also been imported from US, and dressed in “attractive” dressing, are as much an attraction in the stadium, as the match itself. As expected, some self-righteous Indians have made a controversy out of their clothing and moves, but that is for another post. (You can read about an earlier controversy surrounding the IPL here..)

2. Time Outs – Year 2009 saw the IPL moving to South Africa, and to compensate for lost revenues, Lalit Modi introduced the timeout of seven and a half minutes after 10 overs of each innings to show more ads in the limited time that T20 has for advertisers. Obviously, he called it the strategy break for teams to restrategise… In 2010, IPL modified the concept to introduce two timeouts in each innings of total five minutes duration. And the timing was left to batting and fielding sides to chose. So, more unpredictability and more eyeballs for advertisers. And the time-out itself was sponsored by a Mobile Handset company.

3. Sponsored Commentary – Commentary was once a boring job, just reporting on the events of the match. But IPL made it compulsory for commentators to brand a six as a “DLF Maximum“, a catch as a “Karbonn Kamaal Catch“, any interesting moment as a “Citi Moment of Success“, and so on. In the future there could also be an “XYZ Special Wicket” or a “ABC Amazing run-out”. It can stretch as far as the imagination goes. Looks like it is never enough when it comes to advertising.

4. Microphones – Interesting placement of cameras and microphones have added a new dimension to cricket. IPL has, for the first time, involved the umpires in the game. Umpires, at the start of the match, are wired up with the DJ at the stadium, and hence, instead of just calling a dull “play“, he starts the match with asking “Are you ready batsman? Are you ready bowler? Are you ready Bangalore?” which is heard and cheered by the whole stadium and TV viewers.

Apart from this, during the match, umpires and players are wired up with the commentators and there is an interactive chat with the commentators during the match, which can be about serious cricket matters or it can be funny. Like the commentators teasing the fielder about the 40 degree temperature on the stadium or about the last ball where they misfielded. Or the commentators asking the umpires how did he manage to take his head out of that straight shot hit by Gilly. ICC might mean serious cricket, but IPL means fun (and a lot of it) !!

5. Cameras – Interesting placement of cameras like the overhead rolling camera view in 2009 and the cameras on the “MRF” blimp in 2010 have given interesting angles for viewers to see their favorite players on TV and on multiple large screens on the stadium itself.

6. IPL Nights – As you have seen and read in newspapers, IPL matches are often followed by IPL Nights, which are big parties which happen after the match. These parties include everything from fashion shows to music to booze and continue till early in the morning. There are cricketers, team owners, businessmen, models and bollywood celebrities all enjoying and relaxing after the match. There are Rs 40,000/- tickets which allow you an exclusive entry to these parties, apart from watching the match from the best location in the stadium.

7. Youtube’s Fun Feed – This is one thing which I think most of you must have missed. IPL is streaming its matches live (well… almost live) on youtube, and apart from the usual television feed, there is another feed called the “Fun Feed“. This is basically live telecast of the match but from a totally entertainment point of view. IPL has a former Miss Universe hosting this feed, and it includes interviews of Team Owners, Celebrities, the cheerleaders, players, and of spectators about the match. Even the match is shown from different interesting camera angles. In short, the focus is more on the happenings in the stadium (entertainment) apart from the cricket itself.

If you have noticed some other interesting stuff going on in IPL matches which I have missed, make sure to drop in as comments below…

Best Match I have ever seen

Australia had their best team ever in 2001 under Steve Waugh. They had won the previous 16 test matches on a trot, including the 1st test against India at Mumbai. The 2nd test match was to begin on 11 Mar at the Eden Park, Kolkata and Steve Waugh was finally going to conquer the final frontier. Australia batted first and started in trademark fashion, reaching 193/1 at tea in 53 overs. But a very young Harbhajan Singh had other plans. After tea, his deliveries were like bombs for the Australians. Ponting, Gilchrist and Warne fell in successive balls, giving Bhajji a hat-trick and Australia slid to 291/8 at the end of play.

India would have thought (and wanted) to get them out early 2nd way, but Steve Waugh, the captain was still batting with Jason Gillespie. India’s hopes faded out soon, as Waugh got to his century and Australia to 400. He kept full confidence in Gillespie and McGrath and rotated strike with them, unlike other players who try to take full strike with tail enders. The partnership of 133 for the 9th wicket and 43 runs for the last wicket showed the world his confidence in his men. Australia finally finished at 445 with Bhajji taking 7.

India started in trademark fashion, losing their first wicket with no run on the scorecard. Those days Dravid was an opener who did not open in most of the matches he played. The conquering Australians had McGrath, Gillespie and Warne and India’s score of 128/8 at the end of day 2’s play was no surprise. Australia were looking at their 17th straight win and a test series win in India after some three decades. On day 3, India folded out of 171, and as expected, Australia imposed the follow on, unaware of what awaited them. India finished day 3 at 254/4, still 20 runs behind Australia’s first innings total and their last recognized pair at the crease.

Walking off after batting the whole of Day 4

Walking off after batting the whole of Day 4

March 14, 2001 would be the longest day in test cricket for Australia. For, India finished day 4 at 589/4. 90 overs, 0 wickets, 335 runs. Well, the last recognized pair of India have batted the whole day. Laxman made the highest individual score by an Indian going past Gavaskar’s 236. Dravid gave him able company at the other end. Both played some exquisite shots all round the park that day, and even McGrath and Warne were seen helpless. Laxman’s wristy strokes and Dravid’s class eroded Australia’s pride in that one day like a desert storm. Atleast India would get a draw now, the whole country was hoping.

On day 5, Ganguly declared India’s second innings at 657/7, giving Australia a target of 384 runs. Whole India and the cricket experts thought why did not he just bat till draw was the only outcome possible. But the south paw had other plans, he was thinking of winning the test match after following-on. Only 2 times have that happened before in the history of test cricket, and guess what, Australia have lost against England both the times. Some 75,000 people have turned up at the Eden Gardens on the final day to watch history being made. At tea, Australia were 161/3 in 43 overs, will all 3 results still possible. After tea, Harbhajan removed Waugh and Ponting in quick succession. The score read 166/5. Enter Tendulkar, with his off breaks, leg breaks and the occasional seam delivery. Gilchrist, Hayden and Warne just could not figure out what was happening, with all three falling lbw to Tendulkar. The score now read 174/8. Bhajji completed the formalities and Australia folded out of 212, handing India a victory by 171 runs.

Bhajji’s 13 wickets in the match (including a hat-trick), Laxman’s 281 and Dravid’s 180 in a partnership of 376 runs for the 5th wicket, and Tendulkar’s 3 wickets in the final session, all played their part in triggering the Australian collapse when they lost 7 wickets for 46 runs. Whole of Kolkata and India was celebrating like they have won the world cup. And Steve Waugh was given a high voltage shock by the Indian Team led by Ganguly. They went on to lost the final match in Chennai and the final frontier remained unconquered for Australia and Steve Waugh.