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Saturday, 12 March 2016

Dhoni denied at the death

It was a pretty simple equation. India needed 60 runs from the final five overs. Shikhar Dhawanand Suresh Raina had already shared an 89-run partnership. There was no doubt in South Africa's mind that the Indians were going to go for shots.
Faf du Plessis, the South Africa captain, walked with his second lead fast bowler Kyle Abbott, who counted his steps and marked his run-up. Abbott had got rid of Rohit Sharma, the match-winner two days back at Eden Gardens against West Indies. His first spell read 2-0-14-1.
But now it was crunch time. India were looking for the one big over. Dhawan faced the first ball. He was ready to swing hard but he had to change his plans, surprised by the slower delivery from Abbott that dipped on to his feet. Dot ball. Next ball Dhawan swung uninhibitedly, but JP Duminy fluffed what was a tough but manageable catch. Abbott looked down and walked back without emotion.
Raina wanted to clear the square boundary on the off side, but had to be content with a single as Abbott bowled a yorker length delivery on the off stump. Next ball Abbott delivered a perfect yorker that Dhawan could do nothing but respect and dig out. Another dot ball. Abbott unleashed a bouncer the following delivery, which had Dhawan hop and skip, but the umpire gave it a wide. Abbott once again looked down and walked back to the mark. Bowling at death, you can't be emotional. Both batsmen took a single apiece to finish the over.
It was the Abbott over that swayed the match firmly in favour of South Africa. Suddenly, there was another surprise. Just as the South Africans and the umpires were moving to their positions for the new over, the pair of MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh rushed out to replace Dhawan and Raina, who retired.
The match till that final five overs had swayed both ways. South Africa had raised a formidable target courtesy of half-centuries from JP Duminy and Quinton de Kock against an Indian bowling line-up which had rested their strike bowling pair of Ashish Nehra and R Ashwin. In reply Dhawan and Raina had constructed the platform for big hitters in Dhoni, Yuvraj and Hardik Pandya to finish the job.
India's best two finishers were at the crease. The target was 55 runs from the final four overs. The dew was troubling the bowlers. The chants of "Dhoni, Dhoni, Dhoni" swirled around Wankhede, which was 80% full. Dhoni slashed at Chris Morris ruthlessly for consecutive boundaries to only make the din louder. Du Plessis then asked Dale Steyn to deliver the next over. The chants carried on. Steyn steamed in. Steyn faltered, bowled his first ball short on the leg side. Dhoni pirouetted into position and swung the ball for the highest six of the day: into the top-most tier of Garware Pavilion behind square. Steyn would end up leaking 15 runs.
Abbott was back. Dhoni managed a single off the first ball. Yuvraj tried to cross-bat a fast, short angling away delivery, but missed. Another heavy, slower ball resulted in just a single. The equation was simple again: India needed 22 runs from eight balls. Dhoni was back on strike. Abbott dared to bowl a slower-ball bouncer on off stump. It was the perfect length, the right speed. His only fault - it was an inch outside the tram line and the umpire declared it as a wide. Abbott made amends, cutting a ball into Dhoni's body. It was now the last ball of his spell. He went for the slower bouncer. This time Yuvraj did not hurry. He waited and swatted it over long-on for a six.
Simple equation: six balls, 14 runs. Morris started with a curling off stump yorker that Dhoni tried to cut but missed. He looked at the umpire in vain to signal a wide. Another wild swing, aiming to hit over the leg side, only resulted in a single. Yuvraj ran hard for two runs as Morris continued to be accurate, bowling as full as possible. A superb low full toss nearly resulted in a lbw, but an inside edge saved Yuvraj. Ten from 2 balls now. The ball slipped from Morris' hands, ended up being a rank full toss and Dhoni picked an easy four.
One ball, six runs. The restless, excited crowd was behind Dhoni. Du Plessis cleaned the ball with the white cloth to keep it dry. Morris rubbed the sweat with both shoulders. He took one heavy breath and ran forward. He delivered an off-stump yorker, but it ended up being a wide. Cameras flashed across the ground, ready to capture that moment. Morris won the battle as Dhoni could only hit the final ball, a low full toss, straight to deep square leg. He did not even finish the run, which was uncharacteristic of Dhoni. India lost by four runs. source -espncricinfo.com

Sunday, 6 March 2016

World T20 - Ticketing fiasco is a leap backwards

It was just over 12 months ago that The Bharat Army, India's famous band of merry supporters who travel the world supporting Team India, returned from the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Within a week of their return planning had already started for the next big tour abroad - ICC T20 World Cup at home in India.
With the experience and emotion of the 2011 World Cup still very much a fresh in most Indian Cricket fans minds, this was a dream tournament to see the T20 World Cup on home soil for the first time and another opportunity to see Mahendra Singh Dhoni lift a World Cup trophy at home!
It's fair to say the latest edition of the T20 World Cup in India has already had its fair few challenges even before a ball has been bowled. Unlike the marquee tournament 12 months ago in Australia-New Zealand that delivered on its promise of offering fans the ultimate cricketing experience, this skinny latest T20 version in India would do well to learn from those who put on a fantastic show down under.
With less than a week to go before the tournament starts The Bharat Army are still waiting for confirmation on tickets for India's Group games - this despite already committing to a cost of circa GBP 250,000 on booking flights, hotels and transfers for its 120 members travelling to India.
Following Team India around the world for over 15 years, travelling to every major ICC event, The Bharat Army have almost become the team's 12th man on the pitch, so can we really envisage a tournament without the famous Bharat Army supporting the boys in blue in the stands?
The reality is, 120 hardcore members of this loyal band of supporters might well end up watching their beloved Team India in a hotel bar rather than in the stadium. 
Unfortunately the current administration have failed to live up to their peers at Cricket Australia who went out of their way to create the ultimate fan experience - from fan zones outside and inside the stadiums to group bookings and catering for fans from around the world, we find ourselves having to take a ticket in the lottery in the hope of a win limited to two tickets per applicant, with still the added uncertainty if the money spent on hotels and flights to the marquee game (India vs Pakistan) in the tournament in Dharamshala will even be utilised.
So the question is where are all these tickets going? What percentage of tickets are really getting into the hands of true cricket loving fans that invest time, effort and money following their team around the world rather than those who invest time and effort in making money out of the sport we love?
Over time administrators should be improving how they manage these tournaments - if they took a step forward in 2011 they have taken a huge leap backwards in 2016.
As a fan of cricket, how you judge your enjoyment of a tournament is based on the experience you have - well let's just say after 15 years attending ICC events, this tournament has a lot to be desired and the tournament hasn't even started yet!
Hope to see you in the stadiums!
Rakesh Patel
Bharat Army Founder


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