Saturday, May 14, 2011

How to solve a problem like Gayle? - threat looms for Knights

BANGALORE: How to solve a problem like Gayle? Well, captains of opposing teams might well be singing this old number and its sounds wouldn’t be music to their ears. Eden Gardens witnessed a Gayle force transform into a Gayle storm in a dramatic change of ‘playing weather’ conditions.
The lanky, long-haired Chris Gayle, playing in his first IPL IV match, breezed through his innings to wreck havoc on the Kolkata Knight Riders and lead Royal challengers to en emphatic victory.
Gayle had struck an unbeaten 102 off a mere 55 balls with 10 fiery fours and seven soaring, searing sixers.
Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman Chris Gayle acknowledges on reaching his fifty runs during an IPL cricket match. (AP Photo)
Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman Chris Gayle acknowledges on reaching
his fifty runs during an IPL cricket match. (AP Photo)
A stiff target of 171 for victory was achieved with ridiculous ease.The lanky West Indian has been on fire and no attack has managed to keep him quiet and no opponent has been able to defeat the Bangalore side since his arrival. After that century against Knight Riders, Gayle has had scores of 26 (Delhi), 49 (Pune), 107 (Punjab), 44 (Kochi) and 70 (Rajasthan) with the Challengers more than living up to their name.
The Kolkata, also doing appreciably well under skipper Gautam Gambhir, also have their tails up. Gambhir’s confidence levels too must have zoomed on an upward graph after being appointed as the Indian team’s skipper for the ODI series against the West Indies. Gambhir had led the team in their 5-0 victory over New Zealand last year. The selectors are believed to have been impressed by his leadership qualities.
Gambhir’s biggest challenge now will be to devise ways to conquer the rampaging Gayle, his India teammate and stand-in skipper Virat Kohli who has also been doing wonderfully well in Gayle’s company and the fleet-footed AB de Villiers.
Challengers have built their challenge around the knocks of these three in the main this season and, more importantly, to victorious effect.
Both teams are almost through to the play-offs as the teams in contention have little chance of overhauling their points tally. As such, the pressure to perform will be much less and make for a free-flowing contest. Something the likes of Gayle would enjoy immensely.
The Kolkata team’s big hitter Yusuf Pathan is yet to explode, troubled as he has been by injuries. Should he celebrate his inclusion for the Windies tour with a big one.
An even contest with some more lusty hitting is in the offing, should the weather Gods decide not to enter the fray in this match which gets underway at 4.00 p.m.
Challengers have 15 points from 11 games while Kolkata has 14 from 11 outings and occupy the third and fourth spots respectively.

'West indies are tough at home' says Dravid

Mumbai: The ongoing crisis in West Indies cricket may give Gautam Gambhir's India an edge in the five-match ODI series starting June 6, but winning in the Caribbean is far from easy. Ask Rahul Dravid, who apart from leading India to a Test series win in 2006, was part of the Indian team on the 1996-97 and 2001-02.

While India didn't extract any series-winning joy on the 1996-97 and 2001-02 tours, the Dravid-led team won the 2005-06 Test series for the first time since 1970-71. It was India's first significant series win outside the sub-continent (barring the win against Zimbabwe in 2005) since 1986.

"It is going to be a big challenge for Gauti. West Indies do play good cricket at home. We need to see what kind of team they put on the park. If they field all their top players, they are going to be a very, very competitive team. There is no doubt about it. It should be an interesting series for India," Dravid told MiD DAY on the sidelines of a promotional event at the Puma store in Bandra yesterday.

Dravid stressed on the adaptability factor. "Conditions can vary from island to island so we need a bit of adaptability. Wickets are very different in Barbados, St Lucia and Kingston. The weather changes from one island to another. Adaptability is going to be important when you play there," said the former India skipper, who went on to win a Test series in England in 2007 after his Caribbean high.

A lot of young faces from the IPL were expected to make the cut, especially after senior players like MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan were rested. But the selectors yesterday preferred players with some level of international experience. "The team has a good mix of players. A lot of them have played over 60 ODIs, so many of them are quite experienced. I see no reason why they shouldn't do well," he said.

Will the differences between the West Indies Board and its top players have a bearing on the series' outcome? "It is hard to comment on something that you are not a part of," replied Dravid. "I don't know the internal politics of the players and WICB. From the WI fans' point of view, they would obviously love to see their top players playing."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dhoni was thinking of 2nd honeymoon, Board said rest first!

Chennai: The national selection committee took a last-minute decision to rest captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the five-match ODI series in the West Indies. It is learnt that Dhoni had not requested for a break, and was eying a second honeymoon of sorts with wife Sakshi, in the Caribbean. It is learnt that Dhoni was keen on playing three ODIs, before handing the gloves to Parthiv Patel.

"None of the senior players wrote to us or requested for leave. We realised that there are seven tough Tests (against West Indies and England) in the next three months. It's important for all our senior players to be in top fitness," chairman of selectors, Krishnamachari Srikkanth told MiD DAY.

"Zaheer, Tendulkar and Dhoni will be available for the Tests. Sehwag's availability is subject to fitness," he said, before adding: "The rest of the squad picked itself. Don't forget, this is a World Champion side."

As expected, Subramaniam Badrinath and Rohit Sharma came into the side for Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag; Ishant Sharma for S Sreesanth, while Amit Mishra was recalled to the ODI squad. Vinay Kumar and Praveen Kumar were also named in the squad for one-off T20 and five ODIs.

It's unlikely that Saha will get a game with Parthiv expected to open the batting alongside Gautam Gambhir. The decision to leave out Murali Vijay mainly came after his poor performance in South Africa.
"He was found wanting in South Africa (during the ODIs). We felt it's a better option to have Parthiv since he's an opener," said a selector. Sreesanth and Piyush Chawla were dropped for a poor World Cup showing.