Category: Features

Sea of blue advances cricket colonisation

“You’re at the wrong ground mate.”

These were the words welcoming an Englishman who walked to his seat in the stands at the Vauxhall end of the Oval Cricket Ground. A group of raucous Indians were trying to put this outsider in his place. “At least you should be wearing an India shirt, because we’re playing against Australia, your enemy.”

The irony that the forefathers of this very English gent, sporting his team’s colours, established this ground back in 1845, and that the first Test in the country was played here in 1880 was clearly lost on the men wearing India’s blue. 

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Peerless Bumrah is India’s MVP

Boom. Boom. Boom.

The chants in the stands at Southampton from a sizeable Indian crowd began mutedly, but built up a steady head of steam and exploded in raucous crescendos. They pretty much mirrored the bowling action of Jasprit Bumrah — the man being celebrated — to perfection.

When Bumrah is at the top of his mark he appears to be ready to do anything but bowl fast. His first few steps are baby shuffles, his build up more of a person running to catch a train than an athlete aiming for peak speed but when reaches the bowling crease there is an explosive release of energy. 

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Cricket in the Emirates without Sharjah? But why?

Inside one mall, you can ski down an 85 metre slope — about the height of 25 storeys — perfectly snow-clad, all year round, even if the temperature is pushing 50°C outside. In another, you can get in a protective cage and, wetsuits and breathing gear in place, feed sharks, even as experienced divers draw them to you. In a third location, you can experience the thrill of sky diving, without being anywhere near the sky or even jumping, forget about diving — the wind tunnel doing all the work for you.

This is Dubai, where the premium is on gratification and customer satisfaction, even as authenticity dies quietly in a corner.

That’s why it simply does not feel right that the Asia Cup 2018 is being played in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, cricketing venues that have come up more recently, while Sharjah has got the cool shoulder (There is no such thing as a cold shoulder in this region, air-conditioning notwithstanding).

The Asia Cup reflects this dichotomy perfectly. No cricket would have been played in this desert had it not been for Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, who put Sharjah on the global cricket map.

Actually, that does him little justice. He brought cricket to the region in the early 1980s when most international cricketers could not find the region on a map.

Read the full piece on ThePrint.in READ MORE

And we’re back!

The Asia Cup 2018 has begun in Dubai and it’s time to get into the groove once more. Check out some of the early missives from the cricket ground in the middle of the desert.

India are always favourites, but Pakistan are at home in Dubai and the rest aren’t here to make up the numbers

As simple as the flicking of a switch or the changing of channels with the press of a button on your remote, Indian fans will be transported from the relatively cool heat-wave climes of England, where India lost 1-4, to Dubai, where it will be 40 degrees centigrade in the shade, the cricket balls white and kit blue.

Read the full article at CricketNext.com
India bring their own net bowlers, but they will only play in Dubai

If you are an Indian living in Abu Dhabi, read this and weep. No matter what happens, the Indian cricket team will not play any of its league games at the magnificent Shaikh Zayed Stadium. The 90-minute commute from Dubai to Abu Dhabi is a bit too much for India’s finest and therefore they will play all their matches in Dubai, where they are staying.

Read the full article on CricketNext.com

When India play Pakistan it’s called war minus the shooting, but, is it, really?

It does not have the pedigree of the Ashes or the charm of the trans-Tasman rivalry but India v Pakistan is the kind of cricket fixture that the people of two countries that share a contentious, violent and historically bloody border can never ignore. On September 19, this rivalry will be rejoined and the military jargon will be back: war minus the shooting, aman ki asha, cricket diplomacy … The match is a winner for the organisers of any tournament featuring the two teams.
Read the full article on the Economic Times website

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An Indian Premier League XI to take on the Men in Blue

Gautam Gambhir

Gautam Gambhir is easily the best captain of the latest season of the IPL © Sportskeeda

After dust settled, at least temporarily, in the fracas between the International Cricket Council and the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the three-man selection committee was finally allowed to do its job and pick a team to play in the Champions Trophy. As choices go, this was not a terribly challenging task.

The Indian One-Day International team wears a fairly settled look and with the key characters in the show fit, there was little doubt about what India’s best eleven would be. In the backdrop of the Indian Premier League, however, a certain buzz was created around the selection, with several young Indian cricketers having made a splash in the tournament.

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Off the field, this Rahul is still silken

KL Rahul nurses his injured shoulder

KL Rahul nurses his injured shoulder

On a warm summer’s afternoon an unremarkable scene plays out in a coffee shop just out of range of a long Chinnaswamy Stadium drive from Chris Gayle. Four young men are huddled around a table, dressed fashionably casually, beards, sassy spiked hair, flip-flops and tee-shirts of varying hues, sipping exotic teas. But there is something remarkable about one of those young men, KL Rahul, who has enjoyed one of the best years of his fledgling cricket career. Recovering from a shoulder injury that needed surgical intervention, Rahul is forced to cool his heels, missing the very tournament that provided the breakthrough in his career.

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How Australia ambushed India in Pune

It’s 7.30 in the morning and the Pune sun is yet to become its harsh best.

Steven Smith drives

Steven Smith © Sportstar

There is a lone batsman out at the nets. He’s taking throw-downs from a left-arm spinner who is firing the ball in flat and at pace. The batsman is not wearing a front pad because he wants to develop the habit of feeling the ball on the middle of his bat, ruling out pad play and with it the lbw. The batsman in question is Steven Smith, Australia’s captain, and the man walking him through this extra practice session, while a Test match is on, is S. Sriram. If one image summed up Australia’s mentality as they attempted to tame India and its conditions, it is this.

 

It should come as no surprise that Smith played one of the best innings of his career, a second-innings century on a rank turner that set up his team’s victory. Smith may have been put down more than once in the course of that knock, but the manner in which he approached batting, having a specific plan and the discipline to stick to it while shutting out all else was the single biggest difference between the run-making approaches of the two teams.

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