Chennai Super Kings is most Entertaining Team in IPL 8

There have been a lot of entertaining teams in the Indian Premier League, but, the Chennai Super Kings is different from all the others.

They are such a ruthless team and they are probably the only ones who are not afraid of losing at all.

The way they play their Cricket, it makes everybody like them. You might not be from Chennai, but, still, you would praise those guys when you see them go about their business.

It all starts right from the very top, the Smith and McCullum pair, the two devastators and they both fire simultaneously.

It’s not as if one is firing and the other is trying to play the waiting game. It’s the double attack and it not only gives Chennai a good start, it demoralizes the opposition teams to an extent that they lose all the hope.

Chennai’s management is very stable actually. They have the same captain for the last 8 seasons, same coach as well and they make all the decisions. There is no interference from the franchise board.

If you see during the auctions, it’s Stephen Fleming who bid for the players and that’s how it should be. The coach and the captain should have all the powers.

In many franchises we have seen, the owners interfere a lot and that does not benefit the team.

Also, Chennai has maintained the core group of the players. There are quite a few players whom they retain before every auction and then, the new players that they sign, they make those signings keeping the form in mind, not the reputation.

Dwayne Smith is not somebody who is very highly reputed, but, he has effective skills as a T20 batsman and that’s why, they picked him.

So, Chennai’s street smartness makes them the best franchise in the IPL.

BATTING SHUFFLE COSTS ENGLAND

Graeme Swann believes England has suffered in the ongoing World Cup because of their decision to reshuffle the batting line up.

According to Swann, when you change the batting positions of the players so close to the tournament, they get a little confused how they have to go.

What has baffled Swann is the fact that England demoted somebody like James Taylor who had been in the most fluent form for them. Taylor had been batting at 3 in the games of the tri series and also in the Warm up games, but, just before the World Cup kicked off, suddenly, the people in the England thinktank felt that he should bat at 6.

Such a move could have been understood if Taylor had been a big hitter. But, as titanbet pointed out in their infographic that went viral, it’s not the case. He is a touch player and he barely crosses the strike rate of 90. He can only set the game for you and such guys bat one down or two down, but, not below that at any cost.

Taylor might have scored 98 in the Australia game batting at 6, but, the situation was different in that game. Because of the loss of early wickets, he could take his time, but, generally batting at that position, he will have to get on with his job straightaway and that will make him feel the heat. He can’t smack the ball from get go.

Also, to get Ballance batting at 3 is not an ideal option in Australia because he plays mostly on back foot and that isn’t advisable if the pitch is bouncy.

The new order that England has gone with has flopped completely so far in the World Cup, but, they might not change it in the game against Scotland. Ballance might get one more go at 3 before getting dropped.

A touch of pessimism can do the trick

World Cup, frantic build-up and then an anti-climax. That seems to be the way things work when it comes to English sporting endeavours, yet we never learn from our mistakes. We allow ourselves to naïvely become drawn into an unfounded sense of optimism ahead of major tournaments.

Who could forget the national football team’s efforts (if that’s what you call it) in Brazil last summer? Or England’s exit following defeat to France at the quarter-final stage of the 2011 rugby World Cup? In fact, it seems to me that England tend to perform at their best when the pressure is off.

There is a twofold problem, though. Firstly, as a nation, England are a pretty proud bunch, so it’d be staggering for any World Cup of any particular significance to arrive without a noticeable level of furore surrounding it.

Secondly, the media simply wouldn’t allow it to happen. It’s a journalist’s job to whip their audience (and, ideally, that’s everyone) up into a heightened sense that ‘this could be our year’. That’s what sells papers and gets people to click online. Unfortunately, these two elements feed off each other and perpetuate the situation.

So, it was refreshing to see that most media outlets weren’t jumping on the victory bandwagon this time around, as the England team went through a tumultuous period prior to and during their preparation for the 2015 ICC cricket World Cup.

The Telegraph, for example, produced an article titled ‘Ten Reasons Why England Can Defy The Odds And Win The Cricket World Cup In 2015’ – notice the choice wording of ‘defy the odds’ there. And the BBC were also being realistic with their statistical look into ‘Why England (Probably) Won’t Win’ this year’s tournament.

Just as well, really, because what happened next? Well, it was almost inevitable. It was a heavy defeat by the joint-hosts Australia in their first Pool A match.

Of course, there’s still plenty of time to recover from that 111-wicket mauling (thrashing, humiliation or battering, even, depending on your choice of news outlet) in Melbourne but, as starts go, this was far from ideal.

The only thing that could have made that defeat feel any more sickening would have been if it was handed out on home soil, although knowing that Australia enjoyed such a sweet victory in their own back garden only compounded matters really, as far as I’m concerned.

Not that the media back home were in any mood to let the team off the hook (despite this result being widely predicted ahead of the game), selecting stinging adjectives such as those already mentioned to deepen the sense of woe.
What that tells me is that there is simply no escaping criticism if you’re playing for England in a sport that receives anything more than a single column’s width of attention from the national press, unless you end the tournament with your hands on the trophy.

Unfortunately for most cricketers, they’ll finish their playing days without a World Cup haul to their name, regardless of how otherwise glittering their careers were.

Kevin Pietersen is a man who’s undoubtedly accustomed with the media spotlight and, despite arguably being given a rough ride by the England team in recent times, he believes that the current crop need to play with confidence and freedom if they are going to achieve something unlikely by going all the way in the competition.

Now marshalled by Eoin Morgan, KP is of the belief that the side are showing signs of newfound confidence since Alastair Cook’s departure as captain and have enough match winners within the ranks to make a real dent on this tournament.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan’s views were in sync with Pietersen’s ahead of the World Cup, too. Pointing to the recent run that took England to the Tri-series Final in Australia and the nine-wicket demolishing of West Indies in a warm-up match, Vaughan believed that the team were building up a head of steam going into their opening match.

With such unusual levels of low-expectancy and calls from those within the sport for England to simply enjoy their cricket and let loose, it’s a real shame that the opener ended in the manner it did. It doesn’t get any easier for Morgan’s side, either, with their next encounter seeing them take on Australia’s fellow co-hosts, New Zealand, in Wellington.

But, if you, like Vaughan and Pietersen, reckon England still have a chance of bringing home the ICC Trophy, there’s some interesting markets to be checked out across the betting sphere, no less so than with betfair who have myriad options to choose from.

And however down Morgan and co. might be feeling following the Australia game, they’ll know that there can’t be anymore similar slip ups if they’re going to stand any chance of progressing from Pool A. After all, following the tie against NZ comes a crunch match against Scotland – an encounter England can ill afford to lose on any occasion, never mind a World Cup. No offence to our Scottish readers, but a defeat in that game would certainly send alarm bells ringing around the ECB and signal one of England’s glummest starts to an ICC World Cup in living memory.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the contingent over on the other side of the world right now, though. Ireland, so often the makers of wonderful headlines in recent years, took another major scalp in their first match in Pool B, beating West Indies by four runs with 25 balls to spare.

This achievement is just the latest in a string of upsets that has seen Ireland defeat Pakistan and Bangladesh in 2007, England four years later and now West Indies.
Graeme Swann – playing for England on that day in 2011 – believes that this year’s scalp is their best yet.

Four years ago, Kevin O’Brien almost single-handedly took the game to England, smashing the fastest century at an ICC World Cup to help his side chase down the 328 target. This time, the entire Ireland squad stepped up to the plate, putting in a performance that perhaps shouldn’t be seen as out of the ordinary anymore.

That’s certainly how Ireland’s captain, Will Porterfield, feels about it.

Talking after the game, he questioned why Ireland are still considered as an ‘associate’, rather than ‘full’ member nation in international cricket, seeing as they’ve proven their worth time and time again at the very top level.
There’s no suggestion that his team now see their job as being anywhere near complete, either, as Porterfield confidently stated that they’ll be going out for two points in every remaining Pool B game.

If Ireland were to achieve such a feat it certainly would be impressive, as they’ve still got the likes of South Africa, Pakistan and current holders, India, to play.
As is so often the case with Irish teams on the grand stage, there’s very little pressure – externally, at least – but there is a huge amount of passion and that quality shines through time after time.

You have to wonder how teams dealing with greater levels of presumptions would fare if they were allowed to compete free from the shackles of expectancy?

It’d be slightly out of order for this article to be completed without a mention of Scotland’s current condition after their inaugural match of the tournament. There was, after all, certainly plenty to cover following a spirited performance.

Scots themselves probably set even fewer demands upon the shoulders of Preston Mommsen and his men ahead of the competition, and although they lost to New Zealand on match-day one it wasn’t due to a lack of commitment.

Things have changed quite considerably within the Scottish national set-up since their last appearance at the ICC World Cup, not least for the fact that the entire squad can now boast to be full-time professional cricketers. That is something only two players could have claimed at both the 1999 and 2007 tournaments.

It was surely, then, partly down to this increased quality within the ranks that saw the team enjoy a reasonably fruitful preparation ahead of this tournament – beating Afghanistan by 150 runs and Ireland by a staggering 179 before going down by just three runs to the West Indies. Whether they will finish this campaign with a shock victory reminiscent of one enjoyed by Ireland in the past is yet to be seen but teams would be wise to be wary of complacency against this side.

So, how does the rest of the group stage shape up?
As already mentioned, England next travel to the Wellington Regional Stadium to take on New Zealand in an encounter that’s previously seen three English victories compared to four for their hosts. England and Scotland then face up to each other in Christchurch on the 23rd in what will be the first ICC World Cup match-up between the two.

Following that, Ireland take on the United Arab Emirates in Brisbane on the 25th and then Scotland make their way to Dunedin for a match against Afghanistan on the 26th. England’s next match after Scotland sees them face Sri Lanka back in Wellington on the 1st of March in what could prove to be another tricky tie for Morgan and his team.

And then Ireland have a huge task in front of them as they line up against South Africa in Canberra on the 3rd – a match we’re predicting to be one to keep your eye on. Scotland nip over to Nelson for a match against Bangladesh on the 5th of March and then Ireland will be hoping a victory against South Africa can be backed up by taking a couple of points from Zimbabwe on the 7th.

England square up against Bangladesh in Adelaide on the 9th and then Ireland take on India in Hamilton the very next day, while Scotland prepare for their match against Sri Lanka in Hobart that will take place on the 11th. Then it’s the last round of pool matches, with England travelling to Sydney for the game against Afghanistan on March 13th – they’ll no doubt be hoping that victory isn’t necessary for qualification at this point.

Scotland have a huge task in front of them as they finish off with a match against Australia in Hobart on the 14th, and then Ireland feature in the final tie of this stage as Pakistan are greeted in Adelaide.

Simply writing those fixtures down can leave you with a sense of anticipation and excitement. There are some sure-fire classics just waiting to be written by the contingent in the coming weeks, let’s just hope they’re not on the receiving end of such a tale.

We will certainly enjoy whatever is in store beforehand but, come Sunday 29th March, the Melbourne Cricket Ground will play host to this year’s final. Could England surprise us all and finally break their World Cup hoodoo by taking the title in a fourth final?

Might Scotland improve on their recent performances and follow in the footsteps of Ireland with some major scalps? Or might Ireland themselves surprise us all and find their way into the last two? Enjoy finding out, everyone. We know we will.

Brian Lara has played against World’s Best Bowlers

Brian Lara played against quite a few lethal bowlers during his career, but, he reckons the one who troubled him the most was the Pakistani legend Wasim Akram.

According to Lara, Akram had a lot of things in his repertoire. He could swing the ball if the conditions were overcast and there was a bit of zip in the wicket, but, at the same time, he also knew how to bowl on flat and slow surfaces.

He would bowl his cutters and use the angles by going close to the wicket and sometimes a little wide off the wicket. He could get the players out on any pitch and the best thing about him was that he was very patient. Even if the wickets were not coming, he would keep bowing in good areas. There were no freebies to latch on when he was at the bowling crease.

Lara was recently in South Africa to promote some sort of campaign. He was asked quite a few questions about his playing days there.

When asked which bowler of his generation he rates the highest, Lara said, “It has got to be Wasim. He was a nightmare for any batsman. He could bowl equally well to the right-handers as well to the left-handers. He was just so skilled. No matter which kind of surface he was bowling on, he was at you all the time with his pace and swing and if it’s a flat deck, he would be bowling his cutters. He would never let you relax as a batsman.”

“Wasim had that unpredictability factor about him. You never knew what he would come up with. He had so many options. I would always be on my toes while facing him and I am sure that would have been the case with many other batsmen too.”

Bhuvneshwar Kumar played for International Cricket for India

Bhuvneshwar Kumar appeared in international cricket after a while today as he was included in the playing XI of India for the Sydney test match.

He bowled quite a few overs, but, the lack of match practice was clear there. He was not being able to run in hard and make the ball zip through and that made people question if it was the right decision to pick him.

Bhuvi was seen spending a bit of time with the team doctor as well on the sidelines. He was holding his ankle.

The speed of his deliveries was very low too. He is not an express bowler anyway, but, he bowls with a decent pace. He clicks in the early one-thirties. But, today, it was down to one-twenties.

His fitness should perhaps have been tested in a warm up game first. But, the new Indian test captain Virat Kohli did not consider it necessary. He went with the swing bowler straightaway.

And, picking Bhuvi was not the only strange decision that Kohli made in the morning today. He actually made a couple of more strange decisions.

The strangest of them all was to drop Cheteshwar Pujara in favour of Rohit Sharma. That was totally out of the blue. Nobody would have seen that coming.

KL Rahul was given another chance which was perhaps fair enough as a new player, especially somebody who is so young, needs confidence to succeed at this level.

Rahul, however, would like to make sure that he doesn’t play the same sort of shots again that he had played in Melbourne.

He would be opening in Sydney as Shikhar Dhawan is not there. So, there would be more responsibility on him. Facing the new ball against the Australian attack is no joke.

Ricky Pointing Praised Late Hughes Performance

Ricky Ponting has said that Phillip Hughes was all set to make big strides in international cricket, but, unfortunately, the world will now not be able to see what he was capable of as a batsman.

Ponting compared Hughes to Graeme Smith, the previous captain of the South Africa test team.

According to Ponting, Graeme Smith also did not have the technique that was ideally needed for a guy to become a good test player, but, he still achieved a lot of success because he knew making runs with his limitations. Hughes was quite similar.

In one of his articles for a newspaper yesterday, the former Australian captain wrote, “I had not much idea about Phil’s game before I played with him against South Africa 5 years back. He was a young man and I was the captain of the side. So, I had a chat with him and he impressed me straightaway. He had something about him. You had to like that bloke. He was so humble.”

“You don’t expect somebody who is just 20 and is playing his first international game to loft those ferocious South African bowlers straight down the ground, but, that’s what he was doing and with ease. It’s not that they did not try. They put their all to send him back to the hut. They even sledged a little bit. But, Phil was smiling and was regularly getting better of them. Seeing that inning from the other end was an absolute delight.”

“Those cut shots there reminded me of Adam Gilchrist. That was some batting by the kid.”

“The worst thing about this tragedy is that the Cricket World has been denied of the opportunity of seeing an immensely talented batsman going from strength to strength in test cricket.”

Australia and England prepare to ring changes

With less than a year to go before Australia prepare to set off for England in the hope of retaining the Ashes, both sides are beginning to plan for next year’s intriguing series.

2015 is set to be a big year, and betting companies such as Betfair, bet365 and the other big ones should expect to be busy with so many sporting events on next year’s calendar.

The Background
After surrendering the famous urn without so much as a fight at the end of 2013, that England team was all but dismantled in the wake of some embarrassing in-fighting and poor results.

Australia, meanwhile, have been able to build on their impressive destruction of England by putting together of run of series wins and climbed back up to second in the ICC Test Rankings, albeit with a number of players who might not still be in the team come next summer.

While we’re sure to be in for an interesting series between the two old enemies, there could be a host of new players making their first appearance in an Ashes series.

It’s almost guaranteed that Australia next year will have a much different spine from the team that played in the two Ashes series of 2013. While the young players stole many of the headlines as Australia whitewashed England Down Under last year, it was three players in their mid-thirties that at-times held them together – Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin and Ryan Harris – all of whom face a tough battle to maintain their place in the side in 2015 due to their age.

While it would be foolish to write either player out at this early point, Australia will be looking at younger alternatives.

It’s been all change for England, however, most notably with the very public falling out between Kevin Pietersen and the England management and playing staff. Pietersen hasn’t been the only high profile England player now out of the picture will be Graeme Swann. The spin bowler has been a huge thorn in Australian batsmen’s sides over the past five years, and his disappointing performance in Australia last year played a big role in England’s dismal display.

The Preperation
Australia will kick off their new season with a one-day tri-series in Zimbabwe along with South Africa. On the back of that series, the Aussies head to the UAE to take on Pakistan over two Tests and another ODI series before flying back to Australia to welcome South Africa for a one-day series.

Following the ODI series against the Proteas, Australia will return to the five-day game after a triangular series against India and England to take on Indian over Christmas in a four-Test series. With the World Cup coming up quickly at the start of the year, Australia will then have a couple of months to rest up before heading to England.

One main difference by the next Ashes series is that England will be knackered, whereas Australia will be refreshed. The Australians will be schedule will reach its climax of the World Cup in late March and the squad will then have two months off – except those heading to the IPL, as very few will. England, while the Australians rest, will be playing Tests in the West Indies and at home to New Zealand.

While Australia will feel they have the perfect run-up to next year’s Ashes, England will be rightly aggrieved to have seen their schedule over the next 10 months. Alastair Cook and his men are currently preparing to jet out to the sub-continent for a remarkable and unnecessary seven-game ODI series against Sri Lanka before the triangular series against Australia and India.

Right after the World Cup, England then have to set off for the West Indies for three Tests before kicking off the English summer with a pair of Tests and seven one-day games against New Zealand. A tired England squad will then only have a matter of weeks to get ready for the arrival of Australia and the first Ashes Test of the summer in early July in Cardiff.

The Changes
While England have been forced to make a host of changes in the wake of their humiliating Ashes defeat last year, the Aussies are only just coming round to the idea of losing some of those experienced players that have been so crucial to the team’s return to form over the past couple of years.

Rodgers, Haddin and Harris were all thought to have seen their best days before returning to the international stage in recent years and playing instrumental roles in Australia coming back from a string of embarrassing series defeats to reclaim the Ashes in such drastic fashion. All three will be hoping to experience one more home Ashes series, but there are still doubts over whether the trio will be in the mix next year.

Opening batsman Rogers is coming the back off another steady season for Middlesex in which he averaged over 50, and the veteran should be a guaranteed part of the side that heads to the Gulf to take on Pakistan before Christmas.

Australia will also be keen on keeping Rogers at the top of the order for the series against India, knowing the batsman could score some serious runs against the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Pankaj Singh. Rogers proved many doubters wrong in the 2013 Ashes series by finishing as Australia’s leading run-scorer, but the batsman will turn 38-years old next year and some feel too old to open the batting for his country.

David Warner could have a different opening partner next year, with Phil Hughes tipped to replace Rogers in time for next summer’s Ashes. While the left-hander struggled in England early in his international career, Hughes has slowly worked his way back into the mix courtesy of some impressive performances, not least a magnificent innings of 243 against South Africa A.

While other veterans have walked away from ODI cricket in order to extend their career, Brad Haddin is still a key member of Australia’s 50-over team. But while Haddin has insisted he is ready to handle a World Cup and then an Ashes series, the likes of Matthew Wade and Peter Nevill have both been mentioned in regards the wicket-keeping position in the Test side, with the 37-year old Haddin facing a battle on his hands to convince the Aussie management to give him the chance to end his international career with one last appearance in the Ashes. But while Wade and Nevill have both done enough to show they could be important players in the future, the fact is that neither player brings what Haddin brings to a team.

One of the most surprising stars of Australia’s 5-0 series win against England was Ryan Harris. Struggling with injuries before each series, Harris ended the series whitewash patched together with tape, bandages and anti-inflammatories – not to mention with 22 wickets to his name.

Harris hasn’t bowled a competitive ball since the 2-1 series victory over South Africa earlier this year, however, and the 36-year old’s continued injury problems is giving Australia plenty of cause for concern with the Ashes now arriving on the horizon. While Mitchell Johnson is the undoubted leader of this Australia bowling attack, Ryan Harris has been the perfect foil for the left-armer and his absence would be sorely missed by the tourists.

If Harris does not come back to England due to his fitness problems, Johnson, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Pat Cummins can provide the same sort of pace at both ends which has bothered English batsman in recent years, but Harris brings more than just pace to a bowling attack and his presence would be a massive boost to Australia in England next year.

Much of Australia’s recent success has been down to their pace department, and the Aussie fans will know keeping as much of this unit together for the next Ashes series could be integral to ensuring their hold on the Ashes urn isn’t a fleeting one.

While Australia are yet to make decisions regarding three key players, England have already made changes to three very important parts of their team. Despite finishing as his side’s leading run-scorer in the last Ashes series, it didn’t take long for Kevin Pietersen to find himself being made something of a scapegoat for England’s dismal showing Down Under. A string of accusations and counter-accusations soon followed, including a book detailing the batsman’s side of the story and a leak from inside the England dressing room revealing a list of reasons as to why Pietersen had to go.

Pietersen’s departure has opened the likes of Gary Ballance to establish himself in this England batting line-up. The Zimbabwe-born batsman had been one of the County Championship’s biggest run scorers for Yorkshire and Pietersen’s departure resulted in Ballance being given the chance to prove his England credentials.

With 729 runs to his name in just eight Test appearances, including a sensational 156 against India in the summer, Ballance has already gone some way to helping England move on from Pietersen. But despite his impressive start to life in the England team, there’s little doubt Ballance doesn’t install anything like the same level of fear into this Australian side as Pietersen did.

Pietersen wasn’t the only England player to come out of the last Ashes series without much of an international career left. Wicket-keeper Matt Prior, whose name came up a number of times in relation to players having issues with Pietersen, has also seen his chances of playing a part of next summer’s Ashes all but killed off.

While Prior remains popular with many of the senior players in the England team, his dismal form with the bat and increasingly questionable displays with the gloves resulted in exciting youngster Jos Buttler being given the chance to step into Prior’s shoes.

Just three games into his Test career, Buttler has already looked more than at home on the game’s biggest stage and someone who could be a guaranteed part of next summer’s Ashes team. While his glovework still needs working on, Buttler’s batting make him a valuable part of this team and a player who will be given the time he needs to become a world-class wicket-keeper. At just 24-years old, Buttler looks as though he could be in this England team for a long time and the selectors will be keen for him to experience an Ashes series as soon as possible to see how he handles the pressure.

If the departures of Pietersen and Prior might have been a surprise to Australia, they have had longer to get used to the prospect of facing an England side without Graeme Swann. The spinner’s decision to leave the last Ashes tour mid-series had been taken by Swann in the hope of giving England a chance to get back into the series, but seeing one of the tourists main weapons leave halfway through an Ashes tour only gave the Aussies more momentum to go on and whitewash the English. Swann had caused the Australian batsman untold problems during his Ashes career and it was always going to take England a while to replace a spin bowler with 255 Test wickets to his name.

While Moeen Ali might not yet be the spin bowler Swann was, the 27-year old all-rounder has taken to international cricket like the proverbial duck to water. With 22 wickets to his name in just seven Test appearances, the future looks pretty bright for England in terms of spin bowling. And when you take into consideration that Ali is predominantly a batsman – already with a Test 100 to his name – Swann’s retirement may well be a blessing in disguise for England as they prepare for Australia’s arrival.

If England can keep Moeen fit up until next summer, they have a player who could well be the secret weapon that sees the hosts reclaim the Ashes urn and some credibility back from their fans.

ODI Under Threat From Rain

There is a very high possibility of the first match of the One Day International series between India and England getting called off due to rain. The weather department of UK has forecasted that there will be persistent rain in Bristol on the match day.
That’s not good news especially for the Indian Cricket fans who were hoping to see some good cricket from their team in the shorter formats.
However, it’s a 5-match series and after that, there’s a T20 game scheduled too. So, the Indian fans should not get too disappointed as they will get enough white-ball action to see in the next two weeks.
The men in blue actually have a 100% win record in Bristol. So, they would certainly hope that the rain stays away on Monday.
India has had a horror of a time in England so far. They won the Lord’s test to surprise everybody, even themselves, but, after that, they have just been tormented by the hosts. The last two matches of the test series finished in just three days with India getting beaten in both of them by an inning.
The wounds of the test-series defeat would not be completely healed even if the Indians put up a good show in the One day Internationals, but, there will be some relief in the camp for sure. Currently, every player in that team including the captain MS Dhoni is under pressure.
India can take some heart from the fact that the last 5 ODIs that they have played in England, they have won all of them. Those were Champions Trophy matches of course last year.
The pitches used in that tournament though had not that much juice, but, in this series, the Indian would be dished out only green surfaces. So, the challenge will be slightly tougher for them one would imagine.

Tendulkar Spirit Still Remains

Sachin Tendulkar might have announced his retirement from all kind of cricket, but, that touch in his batting still seems to be there. Playing for the MCC against the Rest of the World XI a few days back, he played a wonderful knock.

During that knock, he hit almost all the shots that he is known for. The straight drive off the fast bowler, the cover drive, the late cut off the spinner and then, the inside out drive through extra cover, every shot was there in that innings. It was a fantastic exhibition of batting by the master blaster.

Sachin was actually the captain of the MCC XI. His team bowled first and at one point of time, they were looking like running through the opposition. Half of the ROW team was in the pavilion inside the score of 70.

But, Yuvraj Singh scored 132 runs in his typical flamboyant manner and small contributions from Paul Collingwood and Peter Siddle later on made sure that ROW, which was being captained by Shane Warne, got to a decent score.
294 was the target for MCC which was not too difficult considering the flat pitch and easy batting conditions.
Aaron Finch and Sachin were the openers for them and both of them were in attacking mood.

The boundaries never stopped coming for MCC. Both their openers were displaying different sort of cricket though. While, Sachin was playing more of a touch game, Finch’s game was all about power and force.

A 100-partnership between the two set the platform for the MCC. Sachin got out later on at the score of 44, but, Finch kept batting and remained not out on 181.

MCC ended up winning by 7 wickets with Finch being named player of the match.

Bopara Puts Up Another Great Performance

Ravi Bopara has put up another great performance for his county Essex in the ongoing Natwest T20 blast competition. He played a brilliant inning of 66 against Gloucestershire in a South Division match yesterday and guided his team to an easy victory.

Winning the toss, the Essex captain, Ryan Ten Doeschate, elected to field first as most captains like to do these days in the shortest form.

Doeschate’s decision was backed by his bowlers who showed exit door to the three opposition players inside the first seven overs.

A couple of decent partnerships got built after that though, first between Hamish Marshall and Benny Howell for the 4th wicket and then, between Marshall and Cameron Herring for the 6th wicket which gave some respectability to the Gloucestershire’s score.

The Eagles had to chase down 163 and their start was pretty decent. Mark Pettini and Jesse Ryder got boundaries early on. However, both of them got out in a short time span which helped Gloucestershire pull things back a little bit, but, the third wicket partnership between Tom Westley and Bopara just took the match completely away from them.

Bopara thumped the Gloucestershire bowlers brutally. He faced just 39 balls during his inning and hit 6 sixes to go with his 2 fours.

This was Bopara’s second consecutive big performance for Essex. He had played a wonderful knock in the previous game as well for them.

The way Bopara is performing at no. 4 for Essex, the England team management might give him a promotion in the batting order in the next series of limited-over matches. Currently, the 29-year old right handed batsman plays in the lower middle order for his national side and does the job of a finisher.

It’s actually because of his capability of hitting big sixes that he is used so low in the order by England.