INDIA- NEWZELAND TEST SERIES 2021

India's Ravichandaran Ashwin, left, share a light moment with Virat Kohli during the day three of their second test cricket match with New Zealand in Mumbai, India, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021.(AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)(AP)

When India’s ace spinner allured the New Zeland’s well settled batter Henry Nicholls with a flighted delivery, who hitherto showed his composure, tentatively charged down to this delivery, only deceived by the flight and India’s diminutive wicket keeper collected the ball in a flash and effected a lightning stumping and the stranded Nicholls walked back to the pavilion and Indian players celebrated the Test win at Wankhade stadium, Mumbai yesterday on the 4th day morning  and it was also a series win for India by 1-0. And Indians kept their record of not losing a Test series against Kiwis in India and the Kiwis elusive test series win in India continues..

The Kiwis batters had no clue to the guiles of Indian spinners on a helping track. India’s spin trio attack spearheaded by Ravichandran Ashwin , who claimed 8 wickets in this Test and was ably supported by the Axar and Jayant Yadav, who was a last minute inclusion.  They were skittled out for 62 & 167 runs in this Test handing India their heaviest margin of victory in terms of runs by 372 runs.  And ironically it was also Kiwis worst defeat in Tests.

The Kiwis escaped from the jaws of defeat at Kanpur by the dour  fighting  by the last wicket pair on an unhelping pitch couldn’t repeat the same feat at Wankhede.  The red soil pitch which offered some bounce and turn was too much for the New Zealand batters though their bowling hero, Ajaz Patel’s 14 wickets haul, an outstanding bowling effort including the all time record of 10 wickets in the first innings had no impact on Indian batting line-up.

The batting hero, India’s opener, Mayank’s Century in the first innings ( 150 runs) and well supported by Gill and Axar Patel in the first innings set up a good total of 325 and the Kiwis spineless batting unit collapsed to 62 runs, their lowest score in the recent past.  Then India went on to set an improbable target of 540 runs thanks to a brilliant half century by Mayank Agarwa ( who was awarded MOM award for his batting effort ) l and useful contributions from Gill and Pujara in the second innings.

Then it was the turn of the Indian spinners to pick up wickets at regular intervals and there was some semblance of fight by Kiwis batters in the second essay with D. Mitchell ( who was included in place of their injured skipper Kane Williamson) and Henry Nicholls .  

Statistical delights

  • India inflicted a massive defeat to the Kiwis by 372 runs.  This is India’s record of biggest victory in terms of runs
  • New Zeland’s Left arm spinner, Ajaz Patyel’s 10  wickets in India’s  first innings is a record for their country
  • Ashwin has achieved 300 wickets in home pitches and his scalp of 8 wickets in this Test also saw him getting the PLAYER OF THE SERIES award for the 9th time and his 66 wickets Versus New Zealand is also highest in Tests.
  • Ashwin also achieved another record of 50+ wickets ( 52) in a calender year (2021) for the 4th time.  Previously he claimed 50 wickets in 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2021.

IND- NEW ZEALAND KANPUR TEST 2021

INDIA -NEW ZEALAND FIRST TEST REVIEW 2021

BATATHON Vs BLOCKATHON

Courtesy: cricinfo.com

When the two on- field Umpires called off the play implying there was not sufficient light to continue the play with a few minutes of the play still left on the 5th and final day yesterday of the First Test between India & New zealand , the Kiwis broke India’s record of 14 consecutive tests win or loss at Home. Their last wicket pair of Rachin Ravindra & Ajay Patel held on for a few overs before the play was called off.

The World’s best two Test teams battled for supremacy and the Kiwis, the WTC Champion showed their competitiveness in this Test. 

Again as in the first innings, the Kiwis top order put up a good show as Tom Latham and nightwatchman Somerville, who came at the fall of the first wicket defied the heavy odds and batted on till the lunch break on the final day without being separated.

After lunch, the New Zealand batters fell like ninepins as the Indian spinning trio led by Ravindra Jadeja, the ace spinner Ashwin ( who is now the 3rd leading wicket-taker in Tests for India) and Axar Patel did the damage though the pitch didn’t offer much purchase for the spinners..

In spite of all the wickets falling at the other end, it was the debutant Rachin Ravindra who held the fort at one end.  He batted like a champion as his BLACKATHON saved the Test as the Kiwis were precariously placed at 126/9 before the Umpires called off play.  

It was nothing unusual a Draw at Green Park stadium, Kanpur as out of the 23 Tests played here, there were as many as 13 Tests ( including yesterday’s test) were drawn, accounting for 56.5 % as drawn tests.  But this was the closest Drawn Test in the recent past around the world.

It was the two debutants in this Test viz., Shreyas Iyer, who hit a maiden century in the first innings and half-century in the second innings, and Rachin Ravindra, who stood like a rock of Gibraltar and spoiled the Indian chances of a win.

Shreyas Iyer, who batted like a true champion in this treacherous pitch top-scoring in both innings helped India to almost a win with his BATATHON and Rachin Ravindra with his BLOCKATHON that saved the Test with his obdurate blocking.

It was curious to observe that out of 36 wickets falling in this Test only 4 catches were held by non-wicket keepers and as many as 10 LBWs were claimed by bowlers especially in the second innings of Kiwis when there were 6 LBW dismissals. 

India took a firm lead of 49 runs in the first innings after Shreyas Iyer’s century and half-centuries from opener Shubman Gill and Ravindra Jadeja as the veteran packer  Tim Southee ran through the Indian batting line up with 5fer and Kiwis replied strongly with their openers put up 196 runs for the first wicket and both missed century dismissed in the 90s.  And the chief wrecker was Axar Patel who claimed 5 wickets and Ashwin took 3 wickets restricting them below India’s score.

In the second essay, India did well again though the rate of scoring was slow and declared in the final hours of the 4th day leaving the Kiwis a target of 284 runs.

And both the teams head for Mumbai for the 2nd Test starting on 3rd December.

IRELAND- NEW CRICKET GROUND

IRELAND- DEDICATED  CRICKET GROUNDMalahide-cricket

Cricket chiefs in Ireland are targeting the development of a permanent venue after the country was named as co-hosts of the 2030 ICC T20 World Cup.

Talks have been held between Cricket Ireland and the authorities for three years with a view to the construction of a dedicated facility at the National Sport Campus in Abbotstown. The National Development Plan 2021-2030 (NDP) published last month by the Government referenced a new velodrome and badminton centre at Abbotstown, but while “other projects” were mentioned there was no confirmation about the possibility of a cricket venue being constructed.

Speaking to the Irish Times, Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom said that the case for the development of a dedicated stadium has only been strengthened by the prospect of co-hosting the 2030 World Cup along with England and Scotland. At present Ireland is a preferred co-host of the event with the ECB and Cricket Scotland, and ICC officials expect progress to be made in terms of venues and training facilities in the coming years.

Deutrom added in a statement: “We appreciate that there are still a number of details to clarify around hosting arrangements, not just for the co-hosts but also to enable our Government partners to move beyond in-principle support, but today’s announcement gives a greenlight for those discussions to begin in earnest.

“We believe the enormous global exposure of one of the world’s major sporting events will provide a huge boost for not just the sport on this island, but also the country through local economic impact and visibility in major tourism and economic markets.”

In 2021, Ireland played home matches at Dublin’s Malahide (pictured), Clontarf and at two venues in Northern Ireland. Malahide has a capacity of 11,500 and received approval from the ICC to host international matches in 2013.

Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers said: “Ultimately, the ambition of constructing an oval at the National Sports Campus remains, but hosting [World Cup] matches is not dependent on that, and Test matches have been hosted here before in Malahide.

“But I would be hopeful we will have substantially advanced the oval by 2030 and laying down the surface, which takes a number of years to settle, would be the first step.”

U.S.A. to Cohost ICC T20 WC 2024

Broward-cricket

Five US venues are set to stage around a third of the games at the ICC T20 World Cup 2024, which will be co-hosted by the West Indies.

The ICC this week announced that the US will host a major international cricket event for the first time when it stages the expanded competition in three years’ time.

Organisers have now confirmed that approximately two-thirds of the 55 matches will be held in the Caribbean. These will be played at 13 established international cricket grounds in the West Indies.

In the US, where the remaining one-third of the matches are likely to be played, there will be up to five venues. A spokesperson for USA Cricket said some of the venues are already ICC-approved for international cricket, some are under construction and some will be repurposed specifically to host World Cup matches.

The Central Broward Regional Park Stadium (pictured) in Lauderhill, Florida is the US’s only ICC-certified stadium and has hosted international matches and Caribbean Premier League T20 games. Other existing facilities include Moosa Stadium in Houston, BPL Cricket Ground in Chicago, Woodley Park in Los Angeles and the Indianapolis World Sports Park.

“All of the venues across both countries will be selected following a competitive tender process to be run over the coming months,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Paraag Marathe, USA Cricket’s chair, said the decision to stage the competition in the US will be a boost for the sport in a targeted emerging market and enhance the hopes of cricket being added to the schedule for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games.

Marathe said: “A major event in 2024 will be the critical catalyst to improve facilities, develop a professional league, grow the fanbase and inspire public and corporate support,” said Marathe, who is president of 49ers Enterprises for the San Francisco 49ers and vice-chairman of Leeds United FC.

“Bringing 20 different nations together for the first time in what will be the biggest T20 World Cup of all time in 2024 is also the ideal showcase for the prospects of including cricket in the Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028 and leaving a legacy of facilities and public enthusiasm for the sport across America ahead of the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.”

Organisers said they aim to deliver an event that will provide match-day experiences that “combine a Caribbean carnival with the best of American sportainment”. The tournament will also blend iconic West Indies grounds with new and developing venues that will leave a lasting cricket legacy in the US.

Iain Higgins, the outgoing chief executive of USA Cricket, said: “The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup will be delivered in a way that has the potential to break attendance and broadcast viewership records and set a new benchmark for commercial success, staging matches in broadcast prime-time to audiences around the world and inviting new public and private partnerships from corporate America for the ICC and its members to develop over the next eight years of ICC event.”

A.B. de Villiers – Mr.360

A.B. de villiers,  Mr. 360  

Courtesy : timeofsports.com

South African star performer A.B. de villiers, announced his retirement from all forms of cricket on November 19, 2021. ABD, widely known as Mr. 360 degree, ended his 17 years cricket career where he played 114 tests, 228 ODIs, and 78 T20Is for South Africa.

In a statement released, De Villiers said: “It has been an incredible journey, but I have decided to retire from all cricket. Ever since the back yard matches with my older brothers, I have played the game with pure enjoyment and unbridled enthusiasm. Now, at the age of 37, that flame no longer burns so brightly,” the South African said.  “That’s the reality I must accept – and, even if it may seem sudden, that is why I am making this announcement today. I’ve had my time. Cricket has been exceptionally kind to me. 

“I’m going to be an RCBian for life. Every single person in the RCB set-up has become family to me. People come & go, but the spirit & the love we have for each other at RCB will always remain. I’ve become half Indian now & I’m proud of that.”

The cricket world watched with awe this sudden bid adieu from all forms of cricket by ABD, a great cricketer.  The bowlers will heave a sigh of relief on this announcement.

The face of innovation in modern cricket that Mr.360, ABD is associated with, either with the scoop over the wicket keeper’s head or inside out stroke, it was a pleasure to watch ABD’s stroke-making, an artistic encore. 

It was a nightmare for the bowlers to bowl to him.  A ubiquitous ABD is used to cart any bowler in any part of the ground.  Some of his shots were breathtaking chutzpah and enterprising.  

In his boyhood days, he was a fine rugby player, golfer and tennis player besides cricket.  Cricket is lucky to have such a fantastic player.

De Villiers made his international debut in the Test at St.George’s Park, Port Elizabeth in 2004 against England as an opener along with Dale Steyn, the speedster.

Then he moved to the middle order position where he batted and treated the bowlers with utter contempt. He has become a household name in the Rainbow country. He was one of the few batsmen who batted from No.1 to No.8 position.

Though runs were drying for him in a couple of years in 2006 & 2007, he blasted his way into reckoning in 2008 with an audacious century knock in Durban against Windies and from there he never looked back.

His exemplary batting in 2008 saw the Proteas topple India, England and Australia in their own backyard.

First, he hit a masterly double century at Ahmedabad and South Africa inflicted an ignominy of Innings defeat and became the first Proteas player to hit a double whammy against India.

Then his scintillating 174 at Leeds against England helped South Africa to a first series win after their readmission.

His never-say-die spirit also helped a first series win against the Aussies after their hibernation with a well crafted century at Perth.

And a whopping 1061 runs to finish the year 2008 with his batting.

His career graph grew high in 2010 also almost a repeat of 2008, when he amassed 996 runs including an unbeaten mammoth 278 runs in Abu Dhabi in the Test against Pakistan.

He was blossoming into a great batsman of all time in the South African team.  

In 2013 he again hit a purple patch in Tests aggregating 933 runs which helped the Proteas to keep the Test mace with them claimed by them in 2012.

His ODI deeds were overwhelming as in a span of spreading over a decade from 2005 to 2018 his sublime performance with the willow blossomed.  

His fastest century ( off just 31 balls) and fastest half-century ( in 17 balls) in ODI were testimony to his batting prowess.

His sublime form in batting continued in ODIs also as in both 2011 WC ( he hit 2 centuries ) 2015 WC reached its peak was evident as 353 & 392 runs respectively and earned him the captaincy in 2015. He led the team admirably in 2015 when they reached the Semi-Final and were outplayed by the Kiwis team.

In T20 cricket his clean hit earned him laurels and accolades and was sought after by the different countries league teams including IPL.

His pyrotechnics in batting in T20 League format was a treat to our eyes.

His fielding was exceptionally good, especially in wicket keeping. 

He has been ranked among the top Test and ODI batsmen in the world and has established a cult-like following in T20 cricket, where his performances in the IPL have earned him a legion of Indian fans.

Unquestionably, with his ability to maneuver the field, his excellent hand-eye coordination, and his ability to cause the illusion that the bowler has bowled a poor ball, makes him a  revelation in the modern game.

His batting career illustrates his supremacy across formats.

Format      Matches   Runs        Hs      100s/50s       average

Test           114          8765           278          22                 50.66

ODI           228          9577           176          25                53.50

T20            340         9424           133            4 ( 50s)       37.24      

T20 WC 2021 FINAL PREVIEW

T20 WC 2021  PREVIEW

Courtesy : cricinfo.com

As the clock is ticking for a grand finale of T20 WC 2021 at Dubai on a Super Sunday ( though it’s Monday for both the Finalists at home) between Trans-Tasman rivals for the elusive T20WC title, let’s take a sneak preview of this summit clash.

44 matches with 16 teams competing before this final was an extraneous task and U.A.E. Cricket Associations have done extremely well in this cramped schedule after the IPL 2021.

This will be the first time in the T20 WC a new champion is going to emerge and that too from a Southern Hemisphere country.

Both the Finalists have upset the apple cart of the tournament’s favourites and entered the Finals in similar Semi-Final matches. 

Newzeland hurt the chances of England in the last four overs when James Neesham unleashed a string of mighty heaves in a cameo and the dour opener Daryl Mitchell gave the finishing touches to overwhelm England juggernaut and the unpredictable Aussies ( who entered the SF only with a better NRR) kicked out the most favourite team Pakistan at the hustings by cameo innings by hitherto unknown slog hitter in M. Wade in the company of another pinch hitter Marcus Stoinis.

This is New Zealand’s 3rd straight ICC Event Final in the recent past, whereas for the Aussies first since the 2015 World Cup.

Both the Finalists have entered into this tournament on a bumpy road as the Aussies were battered by Bangladesh by 4-1 including a humiliating 66 all out and in the Caribbean shores. And the Kiwis had their moments of a scare when they also lost the series in Bangladesh.

Australia depends heavily on their batting as their bowling unit is yet to come to terms in this tournament barring the leggie Adam Zampa  a la Shane Warne. And for the Kiwis, it’s their bowling cohesive unit headed by the pacers Tim Southee, Trent Boult and spinners Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner.  In fact, the Kiwis bowlers are more economical in the tournament.

The players to look for –

David Warner who otherwise had a poor year battling for survival including IPL has a better strike rate of 148 .42 in this tournament only behind Jos Buttler.  So, he has to give a very good start.

Tim Southee, the Kiwi pacer who adapted well; and who took 1 wicket in each of the outings in this tournament is expected to play a major role along with pacer Boult

Adam Zampa, the leggie, who bowled well consistently in this tournament with figures of 2/21, 2/12, 1/37, 5/19, 1/20 AND 1/20 is expected to bamboozle the kiwis.

An interesting contest on the anvil at DUBAI.

T20 WORLD CUP – Aus Vs New Zealand

Matthew Wade helps Australia into the final to face New Zealand in Sunday’s final.

The underdogs have made it to the summit clash of T-20 World cup 2021 to be held on Super Sunday, much to the surprise of the onlookers, on 14th November at DUBAI hosted by India.

The much fancied ,hyped and touted as tournament favourites viz.,Pakistan and England leaders in their Groups to the knockout stage , were shown the door from the tournament and it will be a TRANS-TASMAN title clash.

Both the Semi Final clashes had their moments of anxiety and the unfancied teams crossing the finishing line in an identical scenario much to the chagrin of their opposition teams.

Both the finalists, Newzeland and Australia winning from nowhere and by unsung heroes.  If it was Daryl Mitchell and James Neesham for the Kiwis and for Kangaroos it was Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade.  Their heroics put pale of their experienced team mates’ performance into oblivion.

The Australian team was in complete disarray before the start of the tournament as their previous outings in this shortest format were very dismal losing out to Bangladesh the series including a 66 all out and also against the Windies  and their senior pros both in bowling and batting were in and out of the team and preferred to play IPL or sit out.  Their captain Aaron Finch was an uninspiring leader.

The  Blackcaps too lost their T20 series to Bangladesh before T20 WC as most of their senior players preferred not to go to Bangladesh and only a second rung team headed by Tom Latham represented.

So with this backdrop Newzeland and Australia entered the T20 WC and it was a bolt from the blue that they will play in the T20 WC  2021 Final.

In the first Semi-Final between England and New Zealand, it was Chris Woakes who opened the bowling for England with a brilliant spell including two prized wickets of Guptil and Captain Williamson, was treated with utter contempt by Daryl Mitchell, who opened the batting and stayed till the end to see the finishing line.  His breathtaking assault of 72 runs of 47 balls was well supported by Devon Conway ( 46 runs) and a cameo by the pinch hitter all-rounder James Neesham 27 of 11 balls including 3 mighty heaves over the rope.  The defining 3 overs were bowled by Jordan 23 runs.

In the other Semi-Final between Australia & Pakistan, it was Shaheen Afridi, the tournament’s best bowler, who opened the bowling attack in an incisive opening spell claiming the wicket of Aussies captain Aaron Finch for a golden duck, bore the brunt of massive hits of the Aussies wicket-keeper,M. Wade conceded as many as 22 runs including 3 mighty heaves that sealed the fate of the Pakistani team.  He bowled the penultimate over and the savage hitting by Wade after he got a reprieve from a dropped catch by Hasan Ali in the second ball of the over and Wade went on to hit 3 sixes and the entire stadium went into an eerie silence. And he in the company of Marcus Stoinis (who plummeted the Pakistani bowlers) hit 81 runs in just 40 balls and set up a victory for Aussies.  And Pakistani players were in an inconsolable mood as for the second time they have lost to Aussies in a SF in the T20 WC, the first being in 2010 WC when Mike Hussey dashed the hopes of the Pakistani team to make it to a final. 

Now a mouth-watering summit clash between two Trans-Tasman teams will usher in a new WC Champion as the title is eluding them till now. 

IPL 2021 CHAMPION

IPL 2021 CHAMPION -CSK

Courtesy:- Business-standard.com

“That was a great day. 100th IPL game, special day. I loved my time here at CSK, almost 10 years. No 4 in the IPL trophy cabinet is really good. Rutu is a special talent. Indian cricket is generally very blessed with young talents. Rutu has got a great head on his shoulders. He has got a great future”.

Man-of-the-Match Faf du Plessis (86 off 59 balls)

The former Proteas captain’s assertion is suffice to the CSK’s tinge of success as these two openers were the toast of the tournament as they compete and compliment each other.  In fact they  vied with each other to claim the top position  as they finished the first and second places in the list of highest number of runs of the tournament  viz., 635 and 633 runs as Rutu piped Faf at the post by a margin of just 2 runs.  Of course MVP award was snatched by Harshal Patel ( also Purple cap holder) of RCB with  his sterling performance with the cherry with 32 wickets, including the only HAT TRICK in this edition .

Dad’s Army did it again for the second time.  It was Shane Watson in 2018 and now it’s Faf du Plesis in 2021 for CSK  who held the innings till the end and was out only in the ultimate ball of the Innings. The CSK which was bruising its wound of last year finishing at the bottom of the table, turned the tables on this time and became victorious, lifting the coveted trophy.

The ethereal  Ruturaj Gaikwad ,   who was in sublime form,  with rare gem of beautiful  strokes along with  charm and timing went on to bag the Orange Cap with 635 runs.  And Faf in his own inimitable style hit a magnificent  86 runs and laid the foundation for a big score on the big stage as CSK could post 192/3 at the end.

CSK’s opening batters carved out a niche for themselves and they were ruthless as both Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf, the tournament’s best opening pair, once again put on 61 runs.  Incidentally,  this opening pair scored 53% of CSK’s runs in this tournament setting a new record for openers in IPL.  Then came  the sixers’ carnage from Robin Uthappa ( 3 sixes) and Moeen Ali ( 3 sixes) in the company of Faf , who also helped himself with 3 sixes,  CSK set a tantalisingly high score ( 192/3) for the finals .

MSD’s CSK lifted the coveted glittering IPL trophy 2021 for the fourth time in the IPL history in the Dubai International stadium. There were rambunctious celebrations as the players and support staff from the dugout ran to the centre of the ground. 

Courtesy : BCCI.tv

Dhoni, the epicentre of all this tamasha,  strolls past the centre casually even as the world around goes ecstatic in celebration. 300 T20s old as leader and he remains grounded, calm and composed as ever, and in the twilight of his career, he remains the King of the ring!

It was a reminiscence of the 2012 IPL final between the same opponents .  In 2012 there was  Manvinder Bisla who orchestrated the title win for KKR  chasing 191 runs at M.A.C. Stadium , Chennai.  This time around the opening pair of Venkatesh Iyer and Subhman Gill was threatening to take the game away from CSK as they put on 91 runs in a quickfire session until the “Lord “ Shardul Thakur’s double strike put the brakes and suddenly the adrenalin of CSK players came to the fore.  And from 91/1 became 125/8 as KKR were losing wickets in clusters.  The only vvv2012 KKR’s winning team duos Sunil Naraine and Shakib Al Hasan couldn’t shine with the bat and the other batters wilted under pressure including their Captain.  The KKR captain Eoin Morgan’s batting woes continued in the final also as his powerful pull found a fielder  near the ropes. Only a late cameo from Shivam Mavi delayed the proceedings of CSK’s march to the 4th IPL title.

The KKR which was in the 7th position in the table before the U.A.E. Leg came back strongly and set up a summit clash with the three times champion, CSK. 

KKR’s Openers gave a rousing start as the opening pair put on 90 runs and specially Venkatesh Iyer, the find of the tournament , was cutting loose before Shardul Thakur teased him with a nagging delivery and Iyer trying to dominate the bowlers was allured into slicing a wide delivery and the ball soared so high nearly to hit the spider camera and the athletic ebullient Jaddu running from sweeper cover nearly misjudged it but still managed to hold on the catch.  The No.1 threat was gone as Iyer walking back to the pavilion with a neat half century couldn’t conceal his disappointment. 

Then Nitish Rana, who was in horrible form with the bat and succumbed to a committed stroke, ballooned  a simple catch to Faf at mid-off.  And this double strike of Thakur deflated KKR’s hopes of a revival.  And suddenly the panic button was pressed into KKR’s quest for the 3rd title.  And Sunil Naraine’s extravagant stroke found the ever vigilant near the ropes, Jaddu to take a fantastic catch.  And the reticent opener Gill followed suit.  And though a late burst of sixers by Mavi helped by a wayward bowling of Thakur and Bravo was only delaying in the inevitable,  and couldn’t deny CSK a fourth title.  CSK won the match by 27 runs and lifted the glittering trophy with a purse of Rs.20 crores.

MORNE MORKEL- PROTEAS BLUE EYED BABY

MORNE MORKEL – PROTEAS BLUE EYED BABY

Morne Morkel cut his teeth at Easterns and rose to prominence in the 2006-07 season when he was picked for a Rest of South Africa side against the touring Indians.

A family of cricketers was a very good breeding ground for Morne.  His sibling Albie Morkel also played for South Africa in ODIs, T20 games.  His father Albert Morkel also played grade cricket for South Africa.

He spent 2007 trying to establish himself in international cricket and broke through the ranks of the Proteas team in 2008. Morkel was the joint leading wicket-taker on South Africa’s tour of England and played a key part in their first series win there since readmission. 

He was picked for South Africa’s tour to Australia in December 2008 on the basis of the form he displayed in county cricket, but to everyone’s dismay he flattered to deceive, dishing out some insipid bowling spells.

He was once again drafted into the squad for the World T20 in June 2009 in England, where he had moderate success before being overlooked for the Champions Trophy at home.

Morne honed the skill and returned the next year, after Makhaya Ntini’s retirement, to share the new ball with Dale Steyn, and had great success. He took Test 49 wickets in 2010, his highest in a calendar year. The following year he had ODI success, taking 26 wickets at 17.65 in three series 

Constant monitoring by Allan Donald did him a world of good. His ability to hit the deck hard and generate extra bounce at a searing pace has been amongst the primary reasons for his success. He has had his share of injury worries, but his gifted ability to extract awkward bounce from a length at good pace has meant that he has always been a part of the South African bowling attack.

He was a major cog in the wheel of the Proteas that dethroned England to claim the ICC’s Test mace for the first time and contributed more than he received recognition for. Morkel was the top wicket-taker on the 2012 tour to Australia, where South Africa successfully defended the No. 1 ranking. 

Morkel also enjoyed bragging rights over some of the world’s best batsmen. His bunnies were Michel Hussey and Andrew Strauss whom he has dismissed most times in Tests., viz., 9 times and 8 times respectively.

He was then picked for the home series against England, in which his match-winning spell with the ball on the first morning of the fourth Test at Wanderers proved to be decisive, going a long way in helping South Africa win the Test and level the series, thus preventing a complete humiliation at the hands of England, whom they had convincingly beaten on their previous tour in 2008.

After a lackluster 2009, Morkel had his best year in Tests to date. He went on to form a formidable combo with Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, arguably the best attack in the world for the next 2-3 years. Morkel played his 50th Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.

With regards to the IPL, after having little success with Rajasthan, he was picked up by Delhi in 2011 for USD 475,000. He had a moderate first season, where his team finished at the bottom. However, he went on to become the leading wicket-taker in 2012 with 25 sticks, finishing with the purple cap as well. During the 2014 auction, he was picked up by Kolkata.

Morkel finished as the leading wicket-taker for South Africa in the 2015 ODI World Cup.

In Feb.2018, Morne Morkel made a startling  decision to quit international cricket post Australia’s visit in February-April. He put the decision to retire down to a young family and a demanding international schedule.

Surrey have signed South African fast bowler Morne Morkel on a two-year Kolpak deal, in 2018. He had a very good stint with Surrey including the County side winning the County cup.

And now he’s part of BBL’s Brisbane Heat team of Australia.

Happy birthday Morne Morkel.

CRICKET IN ARABIAN DESERT

CRICKET  IN ARABIAN DESERT

Now, the 2nd phase of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021  is under way in U.A.E. played in 3 grounds, viz., Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah . Let’s trace the history of International cricket in the  Arabian Desert.  

Sharjah stadium  was the brainchild of the Arabian Business tycoon, Abdul Rahman Bukathir, who was the driving force of building an International cricket stadium at Sharjah, U.A.E. In fact Sharjah cricket Association has been one of the founding members of U.A.E. Cricket Association in 1971..

The sudden influx of expats and oil exploring companies in U.A.E.  saw the emergence of  many workers especially from the  Asian sub-continent employed there.  It was a workplace for them.  During the weekends, these expats used to  watch cricket and it continues now also.

The cricket  ground in Sharjah is in the midst of an industrial area and people use to peep in the evening whenever the floodlight is switched on and the cricket is played there. 

In 1976 a Pakistan International Airlines side –  which drew the big names of Pakistan cricket such as Wasim Bari, Majid Khan, and Sarfraz Nawaz – came over to play.  In fact that  was the precursor to the heady days ahead, although first a proper ground was required. Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, who was known as “ the father of cricket” in U.A.E. earmarked a plot of land by the Sharjah Sports Club and, with the advantage of having a construction company as part of his portfolio, set about building one.

INTERNATIONAL  CRICKET

The first ODI was played way back in 1984 in Sharjah, when Pakistan faced Sri Lanka . Pakistan had Zaheer Abbas as captain and Srilankan team was headed by the diminutive Duleep Mendis.  When Srilankan tigers prevailed over Pakistan and coasted to victory with consummate ease by 5 wickets.  Arjuna Ranatunga took 3 for 38 and Roy Dias made a match-winning 57. 

But it was a match in 1981  that marked the beginning of Sharjah’s international days, when a Sunil Gavaskar XI faced a Javed Miandad XI on an astroturf wicket which was won by Javed Miandad XI.  This match generated a lot of heat as so many expats were from India and Pakistan and they acted as the 12th man for the teams. Though not an official international, given what would develop over the next 20 years it was arguably one of the most significant cricket matches. It was played as the Hanif Mohammad and Asif Iqbal benefit match , a theme that would become central to Sharjah cricket through the creation of the Cricketers Benefit Fund Series, for which the driving force was Bukhatir, who wanted to give something back to long-serving players.

Sharjah cricket Stadium. Courtesy : cricinfo.com

“In the initial days it was sometimes scary,” Mazhar remembers. “We had our first match with 8000-10,000 people sitting on the temporary scaffolding.”

MEMORABLE MATCHES AT SHARJAH 

Of all the famous matches here played in a surcharged atmosphere, Sachin Tendulkar’s Desert storm in the hot summer of April 1998 stands out tall at Sharjah.  In the heat gathering storm, the Master blaster hit back to back centuries against the Aussies and helped India to win the Coco-Cola cup title .

Pakistan’s Javed Miandad’s final ball six in the Austral-Asia cup in 1986 when India’s  Chetan Sharma try to bowl a yorker when 4 runs were required in the final ball but the Pakistan’s fox converted that shot and sent the ball into the stadium stands for a 6 and won the final.

In 2002, the invincible Aussies inflicted a humiliating Innings defeat on Pakistan in both Tests played here including a 58 & 59 runs in the 2nd Test. It was Pakistan’s worst performance in Tests at Sharjah as the Test was over inside 2 days.

UNIQUE RECORD AT SHARJAH

Courtesy : cricinfo.com

A board conspicuously displayed at Sharjah International Cricket ground ( in U.A.E.) way back in 2015  it held the record of  hosting most  ODIs (218) which is a world record. And even today in 2021 it holds the record of hosting the most ODIs( 240).

TEST STATUS FOR SHARJAH

 By 2011 the ground was suitable for the return of Full Member sides. When Pakistan,which adopted U.A.E. as a second home, it played host to a Test with Srilanka. The “home” supporters were given a treat, as Shahid Afridi produced a magnificent all-round display, first hitting 75 off 65 balls to lift Pakistan from 97 for 6 and then claimed five wickets after Sri Lanka had been 155 for 3 chasing 201. Sharjah was back.

“The less famous part of the Sharjah story is its role as a Test venue: England became the fifth “visiting” nation to play there when the ground hosted its 8th Test in 2015. However, Sharjah was the original neutral venue in the UAE – before Dubai and Abu Dhabi had international grounds — when Pakistan needed a second home.

Till now Sharjah stadium has hosted 9 Tests for Pakistan out of which Pakistan won 4 tests and lost 4 tests.

Later on, the strife ridden Afghanistan has adopted Sharjah as its home ground and played T20I matches here

DUBAI INTERNATIONAL STADIUM

Photo courtesy : Dubai Sports city

Project details

  • Year 2008
  • Work started in 2006
  • Work finished in 2008
  • Contractor Dubai Sports City
  • Cost approx. € 75 Million
  • Status Completed works
  • Type Sports Centres / Stadiums / Sports Facilities

Photo courtesy : archilovers.com

The Dubai International stadium  is a  multi – purpose stadium, in DUBAI, U.A.E. . It is mainly used for  cricket. It has a capacity of 25,000 spectators, but is expandable to 30,000 spectators. It is a part of the DUBAI SPORTS city .

The Dubai Cricket Stadium was designed by the internationally renowned architects Gerkan, Marg and Partners, based in Germany. -The roof structure was constructed in a cross-vaulted style. Steel trusses were covered with a laminated PTFE membrane. The structure provides cover for all the seats in the arena and offers protection from the sun and wind. – The roof pitch meets today’s ICC standards. – The 82 seats for sports journalists and 7 commentator boxes meet the requirements of today’s media. – ALPINE constructed one of the most modern sports stadiums in the world in just 28 months. 

The Dubai International Stadium is lit by a special system of floodlights named “Ring of Fire”. The 350 floodlights are fixed around the circumference of its round roof, thereby minimizing the shadows of objects in the ground and having no light towers.

So far, 62 T20I matches have been staged at the venue. And Pakistan which has adopted as Home ground played 13 Tests and out of which 7 tests were won by them.  And this ground hosted 34 ODIs including Asia Cup and Tri-nation series in which the local U.A.E.  team participated and won the two games.

The stadium will be one of the dedicated venues for the  2021 ICC Men’s T20 WORLD CUP  and is scheduled to host the Semi Final 2 and the Final of the latter on November 11, 2021 and November 14, 2021 respectively.

Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi

Courtesy : sportstime.com

The Zayed Cricket Stadium was first opened in 2006. It is a picturesque venue and one of the largest stadiums in the world in terms of ground area. The biggest challenge for teams in Abu Dhabi will be the length of the boundary ropes. With most Indian grounds having smaller boundaries, power hitters will play a massive role in matches staged in Abu Dhabi.

There has only been one score of 200 or more made in a T20I in Abu Dhabi in the 45 matches played at the venue. The team batting second has won 25 of the 45 matches played here in international T20s.

Abu Dhabi has practice net facilities with 24 lanes adjacent to each other meaning that there will be no shortage of space for preparations for the teams. There are also two other ovals, all of which are of standards befitting first-class cricket, aside from the Zayed Cricket Stadium.

It has hosted 14 Tests  out of this 12 Tests for Pakistan and 2 Tests for Afghanistan.  It also hosted 52 ODIs and 48 T20Is.

It will also be hosting T20 World cup matches later this year.