One-Day Mataram

Deconstructing the gentleman's game

The Top20 'Most Valuable Players' of the World Cup

As per our own points system, here is a list of the top 20 performers of this World Cup

Sachin Tendulkar - 604
Adam Gilchrist - 595
Chaminda Vaas - 518
Andy Bichel - 501
Virender Sehwag - 453
Glenn McGrath - 438
Ricky Ponting - 425
Sourav Ganguly - 424
Muttiah Muralitharan - 392
Brett Lee - 392
Darren Lehmann - 384
Aravinda De Silva - 375
John Davison - 369
Zaheer Khan - 366
Sanath Jayasuriya - 360
Shane Bond - 356
Andrew Symonds - 355
Rahul Dravid - 355
MO Odumbe - 346
Yuvraj Singh - 339

Contest Results

Our contest was a very close affair and was decided literally by a couple of balls. When the Australian innings ended Faizan had moved around 50 points ahead of Dipali (team - 'Invincible') because of Ricky Ponting. But by the end of the match, Dipali had covered the points up with Sehwag, McGrath and Yuvraj picking up vital points for her and in the end she won by a paltry 13 points.

On hindsight, if Yuvraj had played one more ball, his effective runs would have been less than 20 and he wouldn't have got his 30 points which would have made Faizan our winner. Even if Nehra had not hit Brett Lee for a couple of boundaries, Faizan could have been benefited with some more points, but as a Sidhuism goes, 'If ifs and buts were pots and pans, there wouldn't be any tinkers'
Congrats to our Champion Dipali Kanwadkar !!!
Here's the entire list ...

Name Team NamePoints
DipaliInvincible 4556
FaizanFaizan XI 4543
Deepak Jain india_is_winner4507
Chandra Babu Dare Devils 4449
Sandeep Ace4443
satish mane Har Har Mahadev4397
Sachin BDum Hai Kya4348
Pawan Ambardekar Mavericks 4311
Abhijeet PatilBlitzKrieg4301
Sushant KumarSushant's XI 4286
Sameer PadhiMaster Blasters4268
Nikhil YadavBig B's4231
Amit SomanZapper4165
Dhananjay RedkarRedDevils4140
Ketan ChikhalikarSuper Power4125
Ankur Bagda Jhakas Dhamaka4094
James KitchingThe Clowns4083
Arun IyerBakwaas-134072
Organized NomadWaltzingMatilda4071
abhay limayeterminator4061
R KrishnamurthyR2D23991
Vinit JainFormula One3961
Madan Chakradeomadan113921
V A ShivramDO DEVILS 3921
Manish BorkarMera No.13896
Mandar ChakradeoThe Winners3835
dyinghappy heroes3640
Sameer GharatBunch of Losers3600
Souvik Souvik XI3372

Well played Everybody !!!

Pulverizing Punter Ponting pips Proud Prince

First of all hats off to the Aussies, they batted like true champions.

I think the decision by Ganguly to field first was the correct one but the opening bowlers had an awful day. They pitched the ball a bit too short early on, exactly where Gilchrist likes them. Damien Martyn played wonderfully and set the stage up for a wonderful finish by Ricky Ponting. Ponting had Lady Luck smiling all along as many of his airy-fairy shots found vacant spots between converging fielders. But after the 42nd over all the shots he hit stayed that way and the eight sixes off his bat were simply breathtaking. Finally the Aussies set the Indians an imposing target of 360 for the World Cup.

The Indians came out to bat positively but McGrath and Lee did not give them the room to free their arms and that is what accounted for Sachin. Even though Sachin, their most prolific scorer, went in the first over itself, this Indian team still believed that the game was on. Sehwag played his best innings for this tournament and it was only after his dismissal that the Aussies could breathe easy. Rain created a lot of drama and there was a 25 minute break but the weather cleared up fast and the game continued but with a threat that Duckworth and Lewis could decide the fate of the Cup, and really speaking that would have been India's best chance.

As luck would have it, it was not to be and the game was played till the Indians were bowled out losing by a margin of 125, but credit goes to the batsmen for fighting it out in the face of an insurrmountable looking total and the spirit shown bythe team augurs well for the future of Indian cricket. Ganguly was right in pointing out that his team had given it's all throughout the tournament and there is no shame in losing to a champion team.

All of us Indians should be proud of our team. Sadly, we have had to settle for second place this time around, maybe in West Indies we can do one better !!!

One-Day Mataram !!!

Australians are World Champions!

The Aussie "Shock and Awe" blitzkrieg knocks off the Men In Blue.

The final match is just under a couple of hours away, but the butterflies in the tummy just refuse to subside. Can only imagine what our players must be feeling now.

Each person I meet has a different opinion about how the Indians need to go about it today. The passion shared amongst everyone here is to be seen to be believed. While some feel, our openers should go hammer-and-tongs as they did against Pakistan, others opine that keeping wickets in hand would be crucial and we should take things steady in the opening overs. Some feel Ganguly should drop lower down the order to avoid Brett Lee and should be there to take on Lehmann. It's a good thing that the none of us has access to the team dressing room, else the number of ideas presented would have made all the players crazy.

Most of our players have confessed to taking up cricket after the '83 victory, especially the seniors in the side, Parthiv wasn't even born then ;-) A victory today would most definitely see the emergence of the next generation of cricketers.

Have to go now and get ready for the game, there are snacks and drinks to buy, the Indian colours to wear and plenty of faces to paint. Just hope by the end of it all, it has all been worth it and we get a good game of cricket. I hope the Indian team will play like we all know they can. We just have to take the bull by the horns at the "Bull-Ring".

One-Day Mataram !!!


Team India

Sachin Tendulkar is Man of the Tournament at ICC Cricket World Cup 2003
Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar has secured the prestigious Man of the Tournament award at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003.

Tendulkar's two points from the semi final with Kenya, where he scored 83 and took two wickets, were enough to establish an unassailable lead of four points over Indian captain Sourav Ganguly. He has now scored 669 runs at an average of 66.90 during the tournament, a new record aggregate, with one century and six 50s. Tendulkar is now also the heaviest scoring batsman in World Cup history, having passed Javed Miandad's previous career record.

Dr Ali Bacher, Executive Director of CWC 2003, said: "We wanted this to be the best World Cup ever, and Sachin's brilliant batting has helped the tournament captivate many millions of people around the cricketing world. He thoroughly deserves this accolade "
[Read more]

It started out with fourteen teams. Over the last month and half, we've seen these teams slug it out amongst themselves. First round followed by the Super Sixes and then the semi-finals. All the stages have seen some great matches and some surprising results. Things have not often gone according to the script as some of the mighty giants of international cricket have fallen by the wayside. There have been some teams which have had Lady Luck smiling on them. But now on the eve of the final match as we look back, clearly, two of the best teams in the tournament have managed to reach the final. And these two teams shall do battle at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

India shall challenge world champions, Australia in the final match tomorrow.

I'm not going to do a match preview as I usually do. Since I am completely biased towards India, I shall look at it from an Indian perspective and analyse the Australian team and see if I can find the weaknesses in the "invincible" Aussie side.

So, here goes... (first the batting)

Adam Gilchrist: Danger man! Likes anything short and wide or just simply short. Does not like fullish balls that come into him from just outside the off-stump. Has a propensity to drag balls onto the stumps.
Matthew Hayden: Stands outside the crease by a long way. When he hits the ball, it stays hit. Loves to flick balls off the pads and his blocked straight drives are deadly. Sweeps spinners. Has a tendency to flick short of length balls off the hips into the hands of the mid-wicket fielder.
Ricky Ponting: Anything short to him is deposited over the square-leg fence. Very aggressive in intent. Goes hard at the ball when he is new at the crease. This gives a chance to bowlers who can vary the pace and bowl a driveable slower ball. Also gets across the stumps far too much at times.
Darren Lehmann: Loves the spinners. Sweeps the spinners. Pacemen can cause problems to him. Also, has a tendency to manufacture ridiculous shots far too early in his innings.
Andrew Symonds: Danger man! Is every bit of an ideal one-day batsman. Has all the shots in the book. Sound defense and a tremendously strong offense. Excellent runner between the wickets. Can get too excited against a spinner.
Michael Bevan: It's a clich�ed expression, but its the truth. Bevan is "The Finisher". Has an uncanny knack of staying on till the end. Can play defensivey when rebuilding the innings. Can also explode out of nowhere when the situation so demands. Superb runner between the wickets. Get him early (can't really say how!) or else he's in for the long haul.
Ian Harvey: "The Freak". Thus known because he can do everything... equally well. Is an explosive lower middle order batsman. But can he deliver the goods against a bowling attack that has brought much better batsmen to their knees? It remains to be seen.
Andy Bichel: Has been the biggest Australian success story in the World Cup. Has been batting extremely well lower down the order. But again... the fact remains that he is a lower order bat.
Brad Hogg: Nothing to write home about him. Failed miserably with the bat so far in the World Cup.
Brett Lee: Is good for coming in and hitting a few lusty blows. Nothing more than that!
Glenn McGrath: Lesser said about his batting, the better.

Now the bowlers... here we go!

Glenn McGrath: The best bowler that Australia has. But is visibly on the decline. Has shifted focus from being the strike bowler to being a steady economical bowler. But batsmen invariably make mistakes against his disciplined bowling and get themselves out. Can be safely played out without going overboard in attacking him.
Brett Lee: Breathes fire. His pace is too hot to handle for most of the batsmen. But has the tendency to get wickets only in the initial overs of his spell. First two overs of any of his spells are the most dangerous. After that the speed tapers off slightly and the line goes slightly off the mark. Then his pace can be used to find the boundaries.
Andy Bichel: Bowls fast medium and straight with a bowling action that promises much more pace. I often compare him to a faster version of Manoj Prabhakar. But then, after all, he wasn't the first choice inclusion in the team. Came in to replace Jason Gillespie. Should be treated accordingly. Not too much respect needs to be given to his bowling.
Andrew Symonds: Support bowler. Steady mostly. Not too much pace. Giving him wickets is a crime.
Ian Harvey: Australia's "death bowler". Specializes in bowling in the end-overs. Has many variations of pace. Can bowl yorkers almost at will.
Brad Hogg: Left arm wrist spinner. Imparts huge spin on the ball. But a spinner against India on a fair wicket is no cause for concern. Wonder how Ganguly would treat him! ;-)
Darren Lehmann: Over-rated spin bowler.

So you see... even I can pick so many weak links in the Aussie line-up. They play aggressive cricket which sometimes hides some of the shortcomings that they have. Another quality of the Australians is their resilience. Apart from that, they are only human. And definitely not invincible!

Go India!!

What should India's strategy be for the finals.

Should India play Kumble instead of Mongia, given that the wicket has a bit of bounce and that the Australians haven't really been comfortable against quality spin bowling ? In case India wins the toss, do you think batting first would be the right thing to do ? Should the Indian openers go all out and attack the Aussies in the first 15 or should they concentrate on preserving wickets ?

Hi all,

On the eve of the biggest day in the cricketing calender, here's a view of how the Tigers match up with the Kangaroos as per the points secured in our own unique little contest ...

Team Australia has 3881 points in all, while Team India has secured 3707 points in all, just a measly 174 points between the two giants.

Man for Man now (considering the XI most likely to play tommorrow) .. Let's compare the top 7 for the points earned with the willow

1. Adam Gilchrist - 315 vs Sachin Tendulkar - 510
2. Matthew Hayden - 240 vs Virendra Sehwag - 195
3. Ricky Ponting - 195 vs Saurav Ganguly - 300
4. Darren Lehmann - 210 vs Mohd. Kaif - 90
5. Andrew Symonds - 255 vs Rahul Dravid - 165
6. Michael Bevan - 75 vs Yuvraj Singh - 195
7. Ian Harvey - 60 vs Dinesh Mongia - 30

As you can see it is fairly evenly matched, with the Indians holding the slight edge, but one must not forget that Bichel and Hogg are no mugs with the bat and also Mongia has not got too much time in the middle to improve his score in our contest !!!

As for the four specialist bowlers either side,

1. Glenn McGrath - 396 vs Javagal Srinath - 320
2. Brett Lee - 262 vs Zaheer Khan - 266
3. Andy Bichel - 360 vs Ashish Nehra - 276
4. Brad Hogg - 174 vs Harbhajan Singh - 174

Couldn't get any closer I suppose .. with the fifth bowler being a cause of concern for both the sides !!!

With the batting and the bowling firing quite evenly for both the sides, all I can say is this is no David vs Goliath ... it is definitely the World Champion vs the Number 1 Contender !!!

Best of Luck India !!!

"Captain Clueless" played "Master Tactician" as he clinically plotted Kenya's downfall in the second semi-final of the ICC World Cup 2003 at Kingsmead, Durban. It was the most thoroughly professional performance by the Indian team in this World Cup. There have been victories over Pakistan, England and New Zealand which have evoked more passion among the Indian fans, but if ever there was a Indian win that was looked clinical and professional, it was this one... over the hapless Kenyans. The Indian team looked ruthless and did their job almost to perfection.

Things went right for Ganguly right from the moment he called right at the toss and elected to bat first. He was always going to bat first on the Kingsmead pitch, rain or no rain. And as the openers, Sachin and Sehwag began briskly, it seemed like mission over for Kenya. But suddenly, the Kenyan bowlers found the length and line required for the slightly moist and slow Durban pitch. The openers, realising this change in tide, immediately went into wicket-saving mode and played out the first fifteen overs without losing a wicket and getting a solid and steady start in the process.

It has been Sehwag's misfortune that he has looked in good touch right throughout the tournament, but has failed to capitalize on his good form. Once again he fell in the thirties, unable to keep his cool after having been tied down for some time. His wicket brought Saurav Ganguly to the crease. At the other end, Sachin looked to have set his sights on a biggie as he took pains to refrain from driving on the up on a pitch that was offering some assistance to seam bowlers. To their credit, the Kenyan bowlers, Odoyo and Ongondo stuck to their task and gave nothing away for Tendulkar to drive. But since the drives were not coming, Tendulkar changed his tactics. He was content in defending the pitched-up balls while waiting for an inevitable short delivery to play the horizintal bat shots.

After Sehwag's departure, Tendulkar and Ganguly slowed down considerably and the score looked like going nowhere at one stage. Then, the threat of rain alerted Ganguly, who realised that they needed to get a move on. Slowly, the tide turned and the ball started finding the middle of Ganguly's bat. Collins Obuya found, much to his dismay, that Ganguly hits huge sixes. Two of them came off one Obuya over. Both went over the mid-wicket boundary by a long way... the second of those sailing away into the Durban streets.

Then, Sachin Tendulkar once again failed to reach a three-figure mark as he was dismissed for 83. It was his fourth dismissal near a century. That bought Kaif to bat. He scored a quickfire 15 in which he helped Ganguly get many runs by scurrying between the wickets like a hare with its tail on fire. Unfortunately, he was run-out trying an impossible run.

Ganguly then went on to get his third ton in this World Cup by swatting a short ball over the long-on boundary for a six. It was his second against Kenya in this tournament. Finally, India finished with 270 on the board... a good score by any standards and more so on the Durban wicket. I think Saurav would have been satisfied with his team's batting performance... and so too his own!

Chasing anything above 200 under lights at Kingsmead is a tough ask for any team. For Kenya it was a task beyond their meagre means. And with the Indian pace attack firing on all cylinders, it would have taken a miracle from the almighty to pull it off, for the Kenyans.

With Zaheer and Srinath bowling at their best, the Kenyans looked clueless. They had no clue as to where the runs would come from. Zaheer was at his usual fiery best. But it was most heartening to see Srinath bowl fast and accurate. To illustrate my point, let me explain. Last few years, Srinath has been bowling at an average pace in the high 120s (Kmph) with an occasional visit to the 130s. Yesterday, his first ball (which is usually just a gentle loosener) clocked 136 Kmph on the speed gun. And it was right on the money too! With bowling like this Kenya looked hapless. Zaheer's fervent plea for a LBW finally turned umpire Harper's mind as Ravindu Shah was caught plumb in front. Kenya then sent in Ongondo to do some pinch-hitting. But the tall bowler could not cope up with the Indian pace and went down to Nehra. By the fifteen overs mark, Kenya were hopelessly behind the asking rate.

But now, the rain clouds were threatening and thunder and lightning were to be seen in the background. And with 10 overs to go for Duckworth-Lewis to come into effect, the Indians looked slightly worried. Ganguly brought Harbhajan and Yuvraj to bowl the overs quickly. He did not care how many runs they gave since it was impossible that with 5 wickets down, the Kenyans would surpass the D/L total by the 25 over mark. The move to get the overs in quickly was yet another example of Ganguly's astute captaincy. He gave further evidence of this when he brought on Tendulkar to bowl. It was nice to see Tendulkar tweaking his leg-spinners effectively, especially just before the big game on Sunday. He also picked up two wickets for his efforts.

Finally, the Kenyan innings capitulated on the score of 179, well short of the Indian total. In fact, the Kenyans got about 50-60 runs more than they deserved as Gaunguly steeped off the gas in an effort to prvent any injuries to his fast bowlers. Srinath and Nehra could've finished it off pretty early. But Srinath isn't a spring-chicken any more and needs his rest. Nehra, who has been suffering from a bad ankle throughout the tournament was also given a breather. One more instance of Ganguly, the Man of the Match, being a shrewd captain.

All in all... it was a foregone conclusion that India would beat the Kenyans comfortably. The only real threat was if the elements and D/L rules conspired against them. But that was not to be as they cruised to victory with consummate ease.

Kenya's amazing run in this world cup was brought to an end as they ran into an opposition that was too strong for them. But the fun-loving Kenyans would take away fond memories of their memorable giant-killing run in this tournament. Hats off to them!

Now, India will travel to Jo'burg and hope to upset the Australian applecart. On form, they look superior to the Aussies at the moment. We will just have to wait and watch. But mind you, the Aussies are going to have sleepless nights for the next couple of days. That's for sure!

80 percent chances of rain in Durban Local weathermen predict that there will be constant showers at Kingsmead in Durban, today. But they also predict that the rain gods will relent by tomorrow morning. So, all is not lost yet. Even if the match is washed off today without 25 overs being bowled on each side, it'll be replayed tomorrow.

But if 25 overs are completed in each innings, then it'll once gain be upto Messrs. Duckworth and Lewis to intervene with their outlandish computations!

I just hope the rain stays away!!

Hi all,

Another point for discussion ...

We all know Adam Gilchrist 'walked' even though he was given NOT OUT by the umpire. Someone in the Set Max team of commentators mentioned that he was so disappointed by the result of his attempted sweep that he did not even look at the umpire and hence missed the fact that the umpire actually negated the appeal. Arjuna Ranatunga went upto the extent of claiming that this is the first time he has seen an Aussie do this, but we all know the history between 'Captain Cool' and the Kangaroos, to believe him fully.

The point for discussion is, when the stakes are as high as they are these days, is it 'professional' to follow your own heart which might result in the team-cause being let down. Secondly, if not 'walking' is as bad a gesture as it is made out, what about 'excessive appealing', especially (say) when one knows the batsman has not knicked it, isn't that an attempt to force the umpire to give a wrong decision ?

Would be nice to know what each one of you feels about these issues, so post your comments soon ...

Match Report: Australia Vs. Sri Lanka (Semi-Final 1, Port Elizabeth)

In the end, it was a no contest, really. Sri Lanka can only blame themselves for the situation that they found themselves in when the rain came at Port Elizabeth. They played good solid cricket for the first half of the match in which they had the Aussies under the cosh. But, when they came out to bat, they looked every bit of the side that lost to a team like Kenya in the preliminary rounds.

It began well for Ricky Ponting when he won the important toss and promptly elected to bat on a pitch that was better but still slower than any of the pitches in this World Cup. Sri Lanka had gone in with an amazing eight specialist batsmen and only two seamers. The Lankan side was packed with spinners who would take advantage of the slow pitch. Pulasthi Gunaratne, one of the two seamers went for plenty as Gilchrist took special liking to him. As Jayasuriya turned to DeSilva to stem the flow of runs, the oldest member of the Lankan team immediately struck by removing the dangerous Gilchrist. Adam Gilchrist, today, did something that is as common in modern cricket as finding a live dodo. He "walked" after the umpire had pronounced him "not-out". Hats off to Gilchrist! But his wicket seemed to turn the tap off. Ricky Ponting is known to push very hard at the ball, especially when he is new at the crease. That had proved to be his undoing in India against Harbhajan, and that is what turned out to be his undoing today, as he pushed at a slower ball but only found the fielder at short cover. Hayden followed soon after and the "invincible" Aussies suddenly looked fragile. The runs had slowed down to a trickle as a clueless Hogg got out next. Then came the partnership that put Australia back in contention in the match. Darren Lehmann and Andrew Symonds played sensible cricket and resurrected the crumbling edifice of the Aussie batting. Symonds looked completely self-assured and went on, eventually, to score an unbeaten 91. When Lehmann and Symonds were batting, it seemed that a score of at least 230 was possible. But two quick strikes by Jayasuriya sent Lehmann and Bevan back off consecutive deliveries and the Aussies slumped again. It was only due to the increasingly dependable Bichel and the clinical Symonds that Australia just about managed to cross the 200 run mark and finish up with 212 on board.

212 runs to chase on a wicket that looked very much like the ones in Colombo and eight specialist batsmen to do that job. Sri Lanka had many things going for them when they stepped out to chase the target. They got off to a brilliant start as Atapattu played the role of the aggressor, striking the ball cleanly. Jayasuriya joined in too with an amazing six off a casual flick of his pads. Then came a fast, furious and straight-as-a-dart delivery from Brett Lee, clocking 160.1 Kmph which went through Atapattu's defences knocking the off-stump clean out of the ground. The procession had begun. Sanath Jayasuriya looked decidedly uncomfortable against the pace of Lee. Finally, he spooned a simple catch off a slower delivery. The next two wickets, those of Gunawardane and Tillekaratne, were results of horrendous shots. Tillekaratne played a booming cover drive far away from his body only to find Gilchrist pouching a regulation catch. Gunawardane played probably the worst shot of the entire match as he veritably guided a ball to the second slip. Then came a moment of brilliance by Bichel when he ran towards mid-wicket after his delivery and picked up the ball dropped there by the batsman, turned and threw the stumps down at the striker's end. Aravinda DeSilva running in an international match for probably the last time was more than a metre short of the crease. He did not need the third umpire's decision as he kept running towards the dressing room. That brought Mahela Jayawardane to the crease. Mahela's form has been so dismal in this tournament that perhaps only Inzamam can stake claim to the worst form award if ever there is one. He however got a bad decision when the ball that he got out to had hit his elbow rather than his bat. But as they say, when you are having a bad run, things invariably go wrong at every opposrtunity. Next in was Russel Arnold. Arnold is considered as the Sri Lankan 'finisher'. But he has had a bad World Cup and this fact was evident as he could hardly get the ball off the square. Finally he could not keep quiet any longer and swept the ball to the deep square leg boundary where Brett Lee pouched him comfortably. All the advantage of having eight batsmen in the side was erased completely when the Sri Lankan score read 76 for 7. Then Chaminda Vaas and Kumar Sangakkara played some sedate but solid cricket to take Sri Lanka to 123/7 in 38.1 overs when heavy rains suddenly lashed Port Elizabeth and the players left the field, never to return. The giant scoreboard showed the Duckworth-Lewis computation for Sri Lanka to win. It indicated that Sri Lanka needed to be at 172 in 38.1 overs to beat Australia. Sri Lanka were miles behind.

And thus, the mighty Australians escaped a scare yet again in their bid to defend their World Championship. It was Sri Lanka's golden chance to sneak in a victory. But they could only do their job half-way. The second half belonged to the Australians as they underscored their champions tag once more. But, come to think of it, apart from the two flashes of brilliance by the Aussies (Lee clean bowling Atapattu and Bichel running out DeSilva), it was the Sri Lankan disaster with the bat that really became their undoing.

Thus, Australia will await, at the Wanderers, the winner of the India-Kenya match on Thursday. Exactly as I had predicted in my preview!

Match Preview: Australia Vs. Sri Lanka (Semi-Final 1, Port Elizabeth)

After all the action on and off the field in the past month since the innaguration of the ICC World Cup 2003, it has finally come down to the last three matches... the only real knock-out phase of the tournament. It is all down to Australia, Sri Lanka, Kenya and India to slug it out in the next few days to decide who will be crowned the World Champions. And in the first of these three exciting matches, Australia take on Sri Lanka in the first semi-final at Port Elizabeth.

Let us first take a look at Australia. Undoubtedly the strongest team in the competition, Australia have lived upto its billing by winning all its matches in the tournament. It brushed aside all the competition that the tournament threw at them. But, are they invincible?
I say not! While Australia started the tournament very strongly beating Pakistan and India in its first two matches, it has since then slid a notch or two down as far as their performance goes. Its just that they were so high above any of the other teams that they have been able to knock off the challenges inspite of not playing at their best. A reason for this dip in performance is the fact that the Australians have progressively lost some of its key performers as the tournament has gone on. It lost Shane Warne even before the first match was played. Then it lost the services of Jason Gillespie. Two of its frontline wicket taking bowlers gone. And now, when it is about to play the semi-final clash, news is that solid middle-order bat, Damien Martyn will not play due to injury. And, while the Aussies have a bench-strength of a calibre better than the first-choice teams of many countries, it shall find it difficult to cope against a determined and top-class side. And in semi-finals, you do get determined sides.
There are very few problems on the batting front. Though Hayden has not clicked and Gilchrist has not been consistent, they are two openers who can come into their own on any given day and tear the opposition attack to shreds. Ponting is in reasonably good form too. Symonds, the hero of the first match against Pakistan hasn't quite lived upto the expectations generated by his brilliant performance in that match. Michael Bevan, the best one-day batsman that Australia posses, has been in and out of the team in this tournament itself, sometimes due to injuries and sometimes due to the rotation policies. The biggest surprise and find of the tournament for the Aussies has been the batting of Andy Bichel down the order. On more than one occasion, he has pulled his side out of trouble in the World Cup. So, batting is not the main worry. Though, it begs to be pointed out that Australian batting has almost crumbled against Pakistan, England, New Zealand and, believe it or not, Kenya.

The bowling is the main cause of worry for the Aussies. Strictly speaking, they have only two world class bowlers in their attack. Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee. The rest of the bowling (sans Gillespie and Warne) looks less-than-threatening. While Bichel has been among wickets, I won't consider him a threat, if I am Dav Whatmore. He bowls straight and wicket to wicket with some swing... but nothing more than that. I compare him to Manoj Prabhakar. Bradd Hogg, even though a prodigious turner, cannot be termed to be in the same league as his contemporary spinners. Symonds is't much better. And Darren Lehman is perhaps the most over-rated cricketer in the current Australian side. So, Sri Lankan strategy should be to play out the initial burst by Lee and McGrath and then cash in on the Aussie inexperience.

Patchy! ... that's the only word that comes to the mind when I think of Sri Lanka in this World Cup. There is none of the flair that was so apparent when the Lankans went on to win the World Cup in 1996. It has sneaked into the Super Sixes on its wins against the weaker sides and due to some unknowing help from other teams. Moreover, they have been at the receiving end of one of the biggest upsets in the World Cup... i.e. their loss to Kenya. In most of their matches, either their batting has looked frail (eg. against India, Kenya, Australia) while in other matches its their bowling which has looked ineffective. The only bright spot for Sri Lanka has been the form of their main bowler, Chaminda Vaas who has threatened the very best. But the absence of a good opening bowler to partner him has been the sad tale of the Lankan campaign. Though looking ahead to this semi-final, I would think that the best way to go at the Aussies would be to open the attack with Vaas and Gunaratne. They should also try out Murali within the first 15 overs because then he gets the chance to get wickets when the batsmen aer on the lookout for quick runs. After 15 overs are bowled, the batsmen try to knowck Murali around rather than get big runs from him. Also, Sri Lankans have so much bowling in their team that they really don't have to worry about one or two bowlers getting clobbered. It should be the Lankan spin against the Aussie aggression that should be the decisive factor in the match.
The Lankan batting looks quite unsettled. Jayasuriya is looking confused these days. He tries to play a game unnatural to him and in the process gets out having consumed too many balls. Jayawardena looks to emulate Inzamam by letting his talent go waste. In any case, Mahela should play in the match and should bat lower down the order, pushing DeSilva and Sangakkara one place higher up the order. Atapattu has looked assured as has Sangakkara. Apart from these two, none of the batsmen have scored consistently and hence do not inspire too much confidence. Unless Jayasuriya takes charge and uses the pace of Lee to get some quick runs up the order, the Lankan batting will always look under pressure. DeSilva too has to come out firing on all cylinders, for it could well be his last match for Sri Lanka.

The pitch at Port Elizabeth has been the subject of so much debate recently. The Aussies, in the playing team as well as the commentating team, have been the most vocal about the slowness of the pitch. This is pure crap!! If you cannot play on all kinds of conditions, you certainly don't deserve to be crowned World Champions. The Aussies are shifting nervously in their pants since the slow and low nature of the pitch would provide assistance to the Sri Lankans who are filled with spinners itching to utilise the favourable conditions. Even if they get a better pitch, the Aussies would find that it would be only marginally so and unless they bat first and post a huge score, it would be tough for them to get past the Lankans. So, the toss, once again, assumes a lot of significance. Whoever wins the toss will most certainly elect to bat first. So, if the weather does not intervene, we should have a cracker of a match. There is no clear favourite among the two teams and this is primarily due to the conditions. On pure cricketing form, Aussies will walk away with the match.

My prediction: Australia will await the winner, of the India-Kenya match, at Johannesburg on Sunday! :-)

Brett Lee has promised to unleash a special delivery called the 'spit rock' against Tendulkar, should Australia and India meet in the finals of the World Cup on Sunday.

He said that his brother and former Australian all-rounder Shane Lee taught him how to bowl the 'spit rock'.

Apparently, 'spit rock' is nothing but a reverse swinging delivery... like the one that has been perfected by the likes of Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram.

Read more about Lee's plans for Tendulkar here.

Brett Lee joins the long list of bowlers who have challenged Tendulkar publicly before facing him in a match. All the bowlers before him on that list have found out, much to their dismay, that Tendulkar like to reply back... with his bat. Lets see what happens to Lee.

Some other interesting pieces of news are...

Graeme Smith has been chosen as the new South African captain after Shaun Pollock was unceremoniously sacked from that job.
While Kepler Wessels feels that Pollock has been made a scapegoat, there are others like Peter Kirsten who feel that the decision to replace Shaun with Smith is the right one. Most of Smith's supporters feel that he would be the next Hansie Cronje, given the similarities in the personalities of the two.

Shaun Pollock, however, has made it clear, publicly, that he never wanted to quit and that he was forced step down.

In a sad end to a fledgling international career, Henry Olonga quietly slipped out of Zimbabwe and made his way to a safe house in South Africa. He managed to evade the "escort" sent for him by the Zimabwean dictator, Robert Mugabe. Had he been caught by the "escort", it would have meant prosecution for treason and an almost certain death.

Glenn McGrath's column makes interesting reading. On one hand, he says "It's now up to India to stave off Kenya and make it to the final. As far as I am concerned, that would be the best possible climax -- with India wanting revenge and the Cup, and Australia wanting to prove that they're simply unbeatable." and on the other hand, he hopes for a better pitch for the semi-final against the Sri Lankans. I say that it makes interesting reading because, I did not know that an "unbeatable" team needs favourable conditions to win! ;-)

Just a check on how various teams are doing in our contest.

The top spot is claimed by Dipali Kanwadkar's seemingly aptly named team - 'Invincible', which has a substantial lead of 93 points over its nearest rival in Chandra Babu's team - 'Dare Devils' . The rest of the group seems tightly packed with Faizan Choudhary and Parag Acharya, whose teams, 'Faizan XI' and 'Winners' respectively, separated by a single point. Sandeep Nemade's 'Ace' comes next just ahead of Pawan Ambardekar's 'Mavericks' and Satish Mane's war cry 'Har Har Mahadev' .

Deepak Jain's proclamation 'india_is_winner' comes next and I truly hope it comes true as well. While Sameer Padhi's 'Master Blasters' try to blast it out at #9, Sushant Kumar's - 'Sushant XI' , comes in at number 10 with Sachin's (not Tendulkar, but Bapat) challenge 'Dum Hai Kya' sees itself at number 11.

Yours truly's 'Blitzkrieg' , now more of 'Blitz-creak' , is at 12 and is forcing me to think what made me not select Sachin Tendulkar in my team ... sob sob !!!

The game is on guys - just three more matches to go and we shall soon see the winners of the World Cup and more importantly of our own little contest ... stay with us as the suspense unfolds !!!

Cheers all !!!

Hi all,

With the group stages done and dusted and the knock-out stage beckoning, it is time I suppose we take a look at the top performers in this Cup so far (as per our own little points system).

Sachin Tendulkar - 524
Adam Gilchrist - 475
Chaminda Vaas - 466
Andy Bichel - 435
Glenn McGrath - 378
Muttiah Muralitharan - 374
John Davison - 369
Shane Bond - 356
Aravinda De Silva - 343
Herschelle Gibbs - 335
Virender Sehwag - 331
Sanath Jayasuriya - 330
Andy Flintoff - 319
Brett Lee - 316
Darren Lehmann - 308
MO Odumbe - 306
Sourav Ganguly - 304
Scott Styris - 300
Javagal Srinath - 298
Ricky Ponting - 295
Rahul Dravid - 295

Gilchrist has taken over the second spot from Vaas but the Master still seems comfortably placed at the top. With each innings of Sachin, the 'Golden Bat' award seems to be an absolute certainty. The race for the 'Golden Ball' award is a much closer affair, with Vaas leading the pack with 20 dismissals. He has equalled Warne and Allott for the most wickets in a World Cup Tournament, and looks certain to beat it. McGrath, Lee, Murali and Bond with 17 wickets each come next, followed by Vasbert Drakes with 16 and the come Srinath, Zaheer and Bichel with 15 wickets each.

If there was an award for the best keeper it has to go to Gilchrist who has been responsible for 19 dismissals, no less, including 6 in the game against Namibia. He is followed by Dravid and Sangakkara who have been a part of 13 dismissals each. Amongst the non-wicketkeepers, Ricky Ponting proves his class as a fielder as he has had a role to play in as many as 10 dismissls.

The presense of Virendra Sehwag in the top 20 may surprise a few, but the guy seems to have got a start in almost all the matches, and considering the rate at which he scores his runs it hasn't been too difficult for him to be amongst the points in our contest. He's also taken 7 catches and has a run-out to his credit. Moreover, he's bowled quite well whenever he's been gven the opportunity. But we still haven't seen his best with the willow and certainly look for one biggie from him, hopefully it will come in the finals.

It feels good to see the ever-smiling Maurice Odumbe in the top charts. He has certainly deserved his place there as have Kenya, I suppose. They now have this wonderful self-belief amongst them and given the opportunity to play more frequently against the top teams, they look certain to give the 'bigger boys' of world cricket a good run for their money. For India's sake I hope they don't continue their giant-killing run on Thursday.

Cheers all !!!

Hi all,

I am writing this post after the Kenyan innings, I must say that they have done well in not getting bowled out and showing ample resolve and steel to post 174 against this Aussie line-up. McGrath had commented prior to the World Cup that the Aussies would want to win it unbeaten, well, this being the last game before the knock-out stage, they would have done exactly that if they win the Cup, assuming of course they beat Kenya today. Brett Lee's form should please Ponting as he seems back amongst the wickets, with a fine second spell against the Kiwis and a hat-trick today.

India have been very impressive in the Super Six stage, showing plenty of guts to fight it out (with the bat) during difficult situations against Kenya and New Zealand. All the top 6 batsmen now have runs behind them and going into the knock-out stages. They take on Kenya in the semis, and going by the Kenyans performance in this Cup it is not going to be as easy as people think it might be. The fear of failure against the underdogs is pressure enough I suppose. Although Sachin has had a few hiccups recently against New Zealand and Kenya, it would take a brave man to bet that the Master wouldn't get his 35th ton in this Cup !!!

Much to the disappointment of the Kiwis, the Lankans have defeated Zimbabwe and now take on the Aussies in the other semi-final. The Aussies are already worried about the pitch at Port Elizabeth as it is on the slower side, and has seen sides struggling a bit with the bat. Sri Lanka could use this as an advantage as they have a host of slow bowlers to exploit such conditions, and could repeat the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final victory over the Aussies.

But if I have to put my money it has to be on an Australia-India final at the batting beauty of the Wanderers !!!

Cheers !!!

Now that the first round of Super Six matches has tken place, let us take stock of the situation. Let us see how the teams have performed in their matches.

Australia: Australia played Sri Lanka in their first match and looked every bit the champion team that they are. They showed why they have performed so well over the last few years. Racking up a huge total of 319 against the Sri Lankan bowling comprising of Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Murilatharan is no mean feat. The Aussie batsmen are looking in prime form. Except for Hayden, almost all the Australian batsmen have performed consistently in this tournament. The batting always looked formidable and now looks even more menacing with Michael 'the Finisher' Bevan coming back into form with a beautifully compiled match-winning innings against England. The bowling is looking sharp and deadly too. Even though they are missing the services of two of their leading bowlers, Warne and Gillespie, due to various reasons, Hogg and Bichel have stepped into their shoes with elan. The only Achilles heel is that, against a quality batting line-up, Bichel, Hogg, Symonds and Lehman will struggle and Australia might have to pay for losing Warne and Gillespie. But McGrath and Lee break the back of the opposition thus easing the pressure on their second line of attack. So, teams which recognize this will look to play it safe against the opening burst by McGrath and Lee, and then look to attack the backup bowling. Only thus can the Aussie juggernaut be stopped in its tracks. But then, that is easier said than doen.

India: Perhaps the most enigmatic team in the Super Six is the Indian team. You can never tell how the Indian team will play on a given day. It will soar to uncharted heights on one particular day while scrape the absolute bottom on another. Right now, the Indian team is on a roll, having won the last five matches it has played, defeating teams like Zimbabwe, England and Pakistan on its way to the Super Six stage. So emphatic was its victory over Pakistan, thet is was almost impossible to believe that it was the same team that was doddering at 24/3 against lowly Kenyans in their first Super Six match. But then thats how the Indians play their cricket. The Indian batting is slowly getting back on track after the nightmare in New Zealand. Almost all batsmen have played at least one meaty inning in this World cup. Virender Sehwag is cause for concern. His starts in almost all matches have promised much but he has delivered so little. But one hopes that the law of averages catch up with him and he plays a blinder when the team most needs it. Another chink in the Indian batting armour is Dinesh Mongia. But the awesome form of Tendulkar more than offsets these concerns. Ganguly, the "out-of-form" Indian captain has two unbeaten tons to his credit in this tournament. Kaif has adjusted wel to his new position. The revelation is the emergence of Yuvraj Singh as the Indian "Finisher". So, there are not many problems batting wise. The bowling which was the weak side of this Indian team has proved to be its strength on more than one occasion inthe World Cup. Srinath, Zaheer and Nehra have excelled with the white ball. Bhajji bowled well against the Kenyans after being dropped against the Pakistanis. So, overall, the Indian team is in such a form that only its unpredictable nature can be its downfall rather than pure cricketing reasons.

New Zealand: The Kiwi team has looked the most self-assured team in this tournament, after perhaps Australia. Before coming to this tournament, "experts" in New Zealand, notably the out-spoken Martin Crowe, had lamented the fact that the Kiwis have only four proper batsmen. But the Kiwi team, full of bits and pieces players has looked supremely confident. The batting is looking settled, especially after the return to form of Fleming. Styris and Cairns form the backbone of the line-up and both of them have already played some match-winning innings with Styris looking unusually aggressive. The revelation, at least for me, was the batting of Astle against Zimbabwe in their Super Six match. He played the sheet-anchor role while the other batsmen played aggressively. We have known Astle to be the "slam-bam-thank-you-maam" kind of opener. But this self-assured and chance-less innings (well chanceless apart from a few run-out chances) augurs well for the Kiwis. The bowling is not the best in the world. In Bond, they have a world class bowler to open the attack. But I somehow can't imagine Andr� Adams as an opening bowler The rest of the bowling is, again, just above average... nothing to shout about. But the Kiwis have worked out a strategy. They bowl first and try to use the best conditions for bowling in the morning (since most of their bowlers are swing bowlers) and then their strong attacking batting backs itself to get the runs while chasing. Teams will look to bat first and put the Kiwi bowling under pressure. But a great news for the New Zealand team is the return of Chris Cairns in the bowling line up.

Sri Lanka: Sri Lankans managed to scrape through to the Super Six. The 1996 World Champions are not in the best of forms. Their batting looks brittle, their bowling is lopsided and their whole approach is heavily dependent on the ageing heroes of the 1996 triumph. The batting has not clicked consistently in this tournament and it has had to suffer the ignominy of being skittled out by the Kenyans. Jayasuriya and Atapattu have played well at the top... as has Aravinda DeSilva. But the rest haven't inspired much confidence among their fans. The bowling, however, is the weapon that has worked for the Lankans. But even then, it has been the performances of Chaminda Vaas that have propelled the team. The veteran left arm bowler has been outstanding, eclipsing even his much illustrious team mate, Muralitharan. Now, having lost to the Australians, Sri Lanka have to necessarily win their remaining matches. Their biggest challenge is coming up next. They will face India in a match that will decide if they stay in the tournament or are knocked out right away. Sanath Jayasuriya who was injured seriously (chipped bone in the thumb abd a badly bruised forearm) in the match against Australia has expressed his desire to play against India, showing how desperate the Sri Lankans are about winning.

Zimbabwe: The Zimbabwean team finds itself in the Super Six thanks to the favour done to them by the English team and the rained off match against Pakistan. They have qualified with the least number of points and have already lost their match against New Zealand. This means that, come what may, they will not qualify for the semi finals... even if they convincingly win the next two matches. So, it is really not worth sending too many words talking about them. But it remains to be seen if they will do a favour to their co-hosts, Kenya, and help them ensure a place in the semis. I know that this is improbable, but who knows!... stranger things have happened in the past and not all of them have rational explanations. Lets hope we get teams that fight their way into the semis, rather than arrive there on crutches.

Kenya: Kenya is the David that has defied expecttions and logic by defeating Goliath. They are the minnows who would have been content with winning a game or two in the first round. But now (through a mixture of chance and performance), they find themselves in the Super Six and in serious contention for a spot in the semi finals. Sandeep Patil has worked wonders with this African team and has instilled confidence in them to compete with the best teams in the world. The batting line up does not have any stars as does the bowling line-up. But the grit of Odumbe and the flair of Tikolo and Shah more than make up for that lacuna. The disciplined bowling by Odoyo and Suji brothers is steady at best and does not hold any dangers for the opposition. But the Indians will refuse to accept that statement as they found the Kenyan opening bowling too hot to handle! The leg-spin of Collins Obuya had mesmerised a few quality batsmen as he took five wickets against Sri Lanka and had bamboozled even Rahul Dravid in the match against India. With the next two games coming up against Zimbabwe and Australia, Kenyans need just one win to assure of a place in the semis.

Thus is the situation of the World Cup, at the end of four weeks after the tournament started. And, I daresay, the best is yet to come!

A point for discussion!

Faizan has asked a pertinent question
Are we seeing the end of English cricket with Nasser Hussain's exit from
the helm. Was the fan right in calling Nasser as disgraceful. Who will
succeed Nasser?
Let the discussions begin!

Analysis of the Super-Six stage :

The points carried by various teams from the group stage.

Australia - 12 points
Kenya - 10 points
India - 8 points
Sri Lanka - 7.5 points
New Zealand - 4 points
Zimbabwe - 3.5 points

Assuming the two relative minnows, Kenya and Zimbabwe, cause no real upsets ... what we have is Australia, India and Sri Lanka through to the semis while the fourth spot would be fought between New Zealand and Kenya.

For New Zealand to come to the semis, they require to beat two teams. Assuming one is Zimbabwe, it is imperative that they beat either India or Australia.

I guess the last time NZ played the Aussies, it was in the VB Series and they beat them in 3 of the 4 matches played. I therefore feel that although the Aussies would be wary of them, they would also be keen to get one back. Shane Bond's form would be the key as far as the NZ are concerned.

Given their recent record against India, NZ should be very confident but on batting-friendlier pitches it could be a totally different story. India, I am sure would be looking to avenge their recent losses to NZ and march into the Semis in emphatic style.

In case NZ lose to both Aus and Ind and rain doesn't interrupt any of the games, the points should look like

Australia - 24 (beats all) or Australia - 20 (loses to SL)
India - 20 (beats all)
Sri Lanka - 11.5 (loses to Aus and Ind) or Sri Lanka - 15.5 (loses only to Ind)
Kenya - 10 (loses to all)
New Zealand - 8 (loses to Aus and Ind)
Zimbabwe - 7.5 (loses to SL and NZ)


Australia - 24 (beats all) or Australia - 20 (loses to SL)
India - 16 (loses only to SL)
Sri Lanka - 15.5 (loses only to Aus) or Sri Lanka - 19.5 (beats all)
Kenya - 10 (loses to all)
New Zealand - 8 (loses to Aus and Ind)
Zimbabwe - 7.5 (loses to SL and NZ)

i.e. there is a distinct possibility that Kenya enter the Semi Final (even though they lose all their Super Six games) ...

Anybody bold enough to bet on this scenario ??? The chances are quite good, I suppose.

The rivalry between Sri Lanka and Australia is intense as well, but the result of that game would not have any significant impact on New Zealand's chances. Sri Lanka beat the Aussies in the semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy, but that was in the sub-continent. Australia would definitely start the favourites in the game on the 7th.

India had to share the ICC Champions trophy with the Lankans even though India looked well placed to win both the 'finals'. In all probablity, India and Sri Lanka would meet twice, once in Super Six and once again in the Semi Finals, while Australia would take on either Kenya or New Zealand. Zimbabwe, unfortunately, look completely out of it for now.

Stranger things have happened though, just hope the weather doesn't play any further part in this World Cup !!!

Cheers !!!

Hi all,

The group stage is all done and dusted now. Here's a look at the Top20 performers so far.

1. Sachin Tendulkar* - 418 Highest number of runs scored
2. Chaminda Vaas* - 404 Has taken the highest number of wickets + contributed with the bat lower down the order
3. John Davison - 369 Formed half the Canadian team on his own and had a dream world cup
4. Herschelle Gibbs - 335 Was in very good form. Could have carried SA further if only they had qualified !!
5. Andy Bichel* - 320 One of the most under-rated of players. Could have been a permanent member of any other team in the competition.
6. Andy Flintoff - 319 Individually he had a fantastic world cup. Realised his abilities with both bat and ball.
7. Wasim Akram - 290 Got to 500 wickets in ODIs. He is still the best Pak bowler on view.
8. Glenn McGrath* - 288 Took wickets by the bagfull against Namibia, but has not really shone against other opposition.
9. Sanath Jayasuriya* - 274 Has captained SL well so far. With Atapattu and D'Silva back in form, we could see him really go after the bowling in the Super Six stage
10. Darren Lehmann* - 270 Has got a lot of bowling to do this World Cup and he has done it well. Has been in tremendous form with the bat as well.
11. Shaun Pollock - 269 Was getting back his rhythm as a bowler. Contributed with the bat as well in the last game against SL.
12. Muttiah Muralitharan* - 268 Contributes consistently with the ball. Comes in to bowl in the middle overs when other teams are looking to consolidate.
13. Scott Styris* - 268 In good form with the bat. Especially his hard-hitting has been useful to NZ this world cup
14. Virender Sehwag* - 254 Has not really taken off but has been getting nearly 25 every game. Lots of catches pouched as well. One gets a feeling that a big one from his bat is just around the corner.
15. Vasbert Drakes - 250 Joins Vaas on the top of the wicket-takers pile with 16 wickets to his name. Who can forget the last over he bowled against SA ?
16. Adam Gilchrist* - 245 Pouched plenty of catches against Namibia. Has shown signs of his devastating batting but has not really got going so far.
17. Makhaya Ntini - 238 Another lion-hearted performance from this man. Has taken over the 'Stirke-bowlers' role from Donald.
18. Shoaib Akhtar - 230 Match against India has given him the nightmares but he had a good tourney until then. Surprised many with his ability with the bat.
19. Rashid Latif - 230 A consistent performance lower down the order. Got plenty of opportunities with the bat as the top order failed too often.
20. Brian Lara - 230 Had a great start to the tournament but fizzled out towards the end, very much like the WI campaign.

* => players who can still win points.

Cheers all !!!

Hi all,

Unfortunately, rain has decided the supersix spots in both the groups. Obviously the main host, South Africa would feel heartbroken while both the smaller co-hosts Kenya and Zimbabwe find places in the top 6 teams of this World Cup.

What does this result mean to our contest ?
Well, South Africa not qualifying has meant many of us would miss the services of 3 players. Team Super Power had selected RD Shah and Kenya has made it through, Ketan should be pleased by this selection ;-).

Here's a look at how many players each team still has as potential point winners. It should give you an idea of which team to watch out for.

1. india_is_winner, Super Power, sajith_star, Sancho, R2D2, Faizan XI - 9 players each
2. Big B's, Dare Devils, Invincible, Har Har Mahadev, Dum Hai Kya, Ace, WaltzingMatilda - 8 players each
3. Sushant's XI, SOUVIK-XI, madan11, The Clowns, DO DEVILS, Master Blasters, Terminator, BlitzKrieg, Jhakas Dhamaka, heroes, Mavericks, Winners, Bakwaas-13, Bunch of Losers - 7 players each
4. RedDevils, Zapper, The Winners, UnderDogs, Mera No. 1 - 6 players each
5. Formula one - 5 players

Best of Luck all !!!

Now, this is taking a turn for the comical! On the eve of a crucial Pool A match against Zimbabwe, the Pakistani players are at blows among themselves instead of sitting down to chalk out a strategy for the do-or-die match.

The incident, which occurred during a football match, was witnessed by reporters and photographers.

Tempers flared when Younis Khan challenged Inzamam-ul-Haq for the ball. The pair squared up and when team mate Saeed Anwar tried to defuse the situation he was pushed to the ground by Inzamam.

Skipper Waqar Younis said: "It's nothing new. We always have this problem when we play soccer."

Take a hint mate!... Stick to cricket!! ;-)

It may be noted that the short-tempered Inzamam-ul-Haq is known to throw his weight around at the slightest provocation. In a India-Pak match, for the Sahara Cup, at Toronto, a few years back, he jumped over the advertising boards on the boundary and attacked a heckling spectator with a cricket bat.

It's me again, with the top 20 performers (from all the players) at the end of Week no 3. (includes all the points for the first 36 matches - upto the Indo-Pak game)

1. Sachin Tendulkar - 418
2. Chaminda Vaas - 392
3. Wasim Akram - 290
4. Herschelle Gibbs - 290
5. John Davison - 282
6. Glenn McGrath - 272
7. Andrew Flintoff - 271
8. Virendra Sehwag - 254
9. Sanath Jayasuriya - 254
10. Muttiah Muralitharan - 252
11. Shoaib Akhtar - 230
12. Rashid Latif - 230
13. Darren Lehmann - 224
14. Andrew Symonds - 223
15. Makhaya Ntini - 222
16. Brian Lara - 220
17. Lance Klusener - 217
18. Rahul Dravid - 215
19. Shaun Pollock - 213
20. Yuvraj Singh - 212

Cheers all !!!

Exorcism Complete !!!

The ghosts of the New Zealand tour which seemed to have plagued the Indian batting have finally been laid to rest. Bishen Singh Bedi had said after our victory in the Natwest Trophy and the good display in the ICC Champions Trophy that, this team was peaking at the wrong moment. His words seemed to be coming true after watching the disappointing loss to West Indies at home, followed by the tour of New Zealand and then the first two games of the World Cup. Just when people had seriously started doubting the ability of our players in realising their potential, our bowlers showed some semblance of fight and bailed the team to victory against Zimbabwe and England. All the while the batsmen seemed to be recuperating. Well after the splendid performance against arch-rivals Pakistan, I am sure the world has seen this batting lineup, match and even better the heady heights we've been used to experiencing in the recent past.

Mark Nicholas (am I quoting him too often ??) had said after our victory over England, and I agree completely, that this Indian team represents Modern India in its makeup with Yuvraj, Kaif, Sehwag, Bhajji, Zaheer and Nehra providing the spunk that is required to be successful in the game these days, well supported by the genious of Sachin and Saurav, the solidity of Dravid and the experience of Srinath and Kumble. The mix of youth and experience, caution and aggression seems just perfectly balanced in this team and if they can conistently play as they have played today, the sky is the limit for their achievements.

What I liked most about today's win was the manner in which the Pakistani's were caught off-guard by the explosive start to the innnings. The sheer brilliance of the master and his erst-while clone lay their plans in tatters as 50 runs were scored of just 5 overs, and mind you the 5 overs included 3 from Akram and one each from Shoaib and Waqar. I am sure nobody, not least the Pakistanis, expected such an intense fight back. It was in-your-face aggression from the openers and Sachin looked very much like the free-stroking, awe-inspiring, bowler-dominating Sachin we have all come to love. It was like paying Pakistan back in their own coin, meeting fire with more fire, and I am sure Pakistan suffered most because of the surprising nature of the assault.

After Sehwag perished while trying to drive uppishly through the offside, Waqar used all his experience and guile to out-fox his counterpart by employing 3 slips and bowling a ball that came in to the left-hander and hit him high on the pads. Waqar appealed successfully but I think Ganguly can consider himself a touch unlucky as the ball might have sailed over the stumps. The promotion of Kaif up the order saw the desired result being met as he ran well between the wickets and the in-form Sachin kept getting the strike back, much to the agony of the Paki camp.

The Pakistani shoulders were down even when Kaif, quite against the run of play, inside edged an Afridi delivery onto his stumps. The Pakis got a slight whiff of victory, if any, when Shoaib bowled a brute of a delivery which just spat off the pitch and the severely-cramping Master was out for 98 runs in just 75 balls. The game seemed to have opened up suddenly and the Pakistanis were in the hunt for a couple of wickets which would have exposed the Indian tailenders, but they suffered due to the unimaginative and unattacking field placings employed by Waqar as Dravid and Yuvraj mustered together another match-winning partnership.

When Dravid pulled Waqar to the square fence for four, the whole of India burst into cheers. People were on the streets celebrating and it was carnival time. Moreover when Sachin rubbed it into the Pakistanis by reminding them that their no-win record against India in World Cup games was kept intact, the roar from the crowd was deafening and the joy (although sadistic to some extent) unparalleled.

For many in India and Pakistan, the World Cup started and ended today. We in India are bathing in national pride, courtesy the performance of our heroes on the (battle) field and hence I have no hestitaion in proclaiming that ...

We are the champions,my friends
And we'll keep on fighting till the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions
Of the world ...

Cheers All !!!

Vande Mataram