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Dhoni had to retire for this blog to un-retire*

August 17, 2020

Glorious CSK Captain Dhoni has gone full emo, releasing a longass Insta video to announce his international retirement in a simple but meaningly cryptic way. I expected him to email it in to the BCCI.

Raina did the most Raina thing ever and followed Dhoni into retirement, even making his own announcement on a repost of Dhoni’s post, a literal social media Raina jumphug. I can imagine the sincere delight with which this schedule must have been planned at the CSK camp, an ode to Baasha, for another figure Dhoni has attached himself to with the whole Thala thing. Or like the ingratiating end of the race in Ford vs Ferrari. 

I hope you’ve counted your likes lads. And copy pasted all your replies, if any. Because it means zilch if CSK doesn’t win the IPL this year. 

Wellofcourse for wizened analysts of CSK whether they like it or not, like myself, their international careers were just waiting to be formally declared over. Most India fans can wax eloquent knowing their watch is over. We still need these creaky vets to crank out what used to be clinical shows. Put the fear of the CSK middle order back in bowlers and fans. 

Your international white ball careers were magnificent, and influenced international cricket. One of your first standard partnerships came in a series clincher in Pune in 2006 against Sri Lanka and that’s a match I still think my folks could have let me go for because it was a holiday and I was home and my hostel friends had just watched that 183 live in Jaipur. I caught the first of Raina’s crucial cameos at Ahmedabad in 2011 and another punchy fifty at the Wankhede later that year but that’s about it. I saw Dhoni’s second ever ODI win as captain, the Murali Kartik heist at Wankhede in 2007, the kind of chases Dhoni made it a mission to finish himself later, including the big one in 2011 at the same ground. It was followed by SA piling up 438 in 2015, WI mowing down 190 in 2016 but I’ll take them with the equanimity of the man.

Dhoni’s inspired a lot of modern players (but is too encouraging of pitch invaders) and put you through an absolute wringer of emotions – and there were so many highs. There was the revelation of his captaincy, unexpectedly fetching trophies in 2007 and there’s the expectations we have now. He acted out on retirement questions, blocked with Dhonitalk, edged life it with Dhoniball, contributed, oversaw and made himself available through the respective transitions like a corporate VP; he went out there and gave it all till his last ball. That hit on the hand would have hurt then but that run out is something that would haunt lesser men for a lifetime. 

Raina’s a finisher I sadly can’t remember if we’ve replaced yet (it’s been so long since we’ve played), top notch fielder, team teddy bear, our first centurion across all formats, and probably an inspiration everywhere to kids who can’t play the short ball so well. 

The two have done more than enough, thrilled and gave me a lot of joy. The heart skipped a beat in that moment when the bowler started the run up and they were on strike or behind the wickets or lighting up the inner circle, or more rarely, even when bowling. Thank you. See you in Thubai.

*maybe, temporarily

The CSK-RCB Qualifier, the CSK-MI IPL 8 final

May 23, 2015

image

Michael Hussey walks off after killing it in Qualifier 2 against RCB

John Arlott wrote about it in 1948 at the end of a successful tour of England by Don Bradman’s men. “”Australianism,” wrote Arlott, “means single-minded determination to win – to win within the laws but, if necessary, to the last limit within them. It means where the ‘impossible’ is within the realm of what the human body can do, there are Australians who believe that they can do it – and who have succeeded often enough to make us wonder if anything is impossible to them. It means they have never lost a match – particularly a Test match – until the last run is scored or their last wicket down.”

It would be too much of a stretch to compare Mike Hussey’s innings at Ranchi last night to his Gros Islet heist against Pakistan in the 2010 World Twenty20 semifinal but its easy to see the kind of belief that drives him to play such knocks even when all else around him is turning to shit.

Watching Hussey in the Qualifier, working the field against a disciplined RCB attack (albeit backed by butterfingered fielding) and then finding the release to change gears when it was time was a masterclass in pacing a chase. Against MI and Mitchell McClenaghan, he felt beaten for pace but he bounced back well enough to play against Mitchell Starc and company, on a dicey pitch that few batsmen from either line up could comfortably get the measure of. Earlier when RCB were batting, he had run in a distance from deep square leg and dived full length to send back Mandeep Singh, RCB’s hero from the previous game. Pushing 40 and still fighting, driven by Australianism of course. Hope he makes amends on Sunday for the final he had against Mumbai in 2013.

**
Sticking to appreciating all that is old, Nehraji is gold. The set up to get Kohli after getting sick of taking stick, the luck against AB and getting Karthik went a long way in deciding an ultimately close game. The goofy jog to attempt a flying Jonty to run out Harshal, deciding midway to throw the ball at the stumps and then completely missing them from so close made it more special. Classic hopeless Nehra temporarily surfacing from under the skillful operator hauling wickets for CSK this season. He couldn’t play the 2011 World Cup final after playing an important role in winning us the semi. Here’s hoping he shines in the biggest final he gets to play in a while.

**
You have to wonder if having played Chennai earlier in the tournament would have helped Chris Gayle. Figuring out the pitch was a task in itself, let alone figuring out the variants of CSK’s bowling attack. Dhoni anyway denied him any chances by holding back Jadeja and Negi. Gayle eventually made 41 off 43b; would having faced Nehra, Ashwin, Mohit, Bravo and Raina earlier have helped him bat quicker and get those 15-20 runs Kohli said RCB fell short by? RCB and Kohli have a whole year to wonder (lesser if the rumoured mini IPL in October goes ahead).

**
RCB will rue the fielding lapses considering how close they came despite them. Gayle nullified his runs by dropping du Plessis and Harshal Patel might have dreams in which he takes that leap to grab Hussey’s chance microseconds earlier, pouching it successfully. The shoddiness undermined yet another good show by an attack in the tournament, the lesser heralded force behind the team’s first playoff finish since 2011.

**
Pollard and Bhajji may be absolute tools but both have done well against CSK and in big games for Mumbai and their records deserve some due preparation. Playing on the Ranchi pitch should help in preparing to face the latter at Eden Gardens while Jadeja and Negi will have to bowl out of their skins to keep the former quiet, there’s no guarantee Dhoni can hide them long enough in the final.

**
Ashwin found a responsive surface at the JSCA and immediately was unplayable, finishing with 1/13. The final, on another spin-friendly pitch at the Eden Gardens will pit him against Harbhajan, with whom he will be bowling in the lone Test against Bangladesh next month. If he needs any motivation, this competition with Harbhajan should help him, on Sunday and beyond.

**

In fantasy cricket, I still suck.

Current ranking with One match to go.

Current ranking with ONE match to go.

Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings, Eliminator Preview, IPL 2012

May 23, 2012

The six that took CSK into the 2010 semi final

Through fate, incompetence (on the parts of others) and some scattered hard work, Chennai Super Kings have reached the playoffs of yet another edition of the Indian Premier League.

I shouldn’t talk about incompetence though, CSK needed massive amounts of luck to make it through including 3 crucial results in a row that involved RR, KXIP and RCB all losing to teams like DC.

CSK meet Mumbai Indians in the Eliminator tonight, a team we’ve never beaten since 2010. We’ve lost 5 games since then to them including one CLT20 fixture. CSK never lost a game when I was watching at the stadium (happened twice) but they lost off the last ball earlier in May when I was in the Wankhede, wondering why Dhoni couldn’t set a straight mid on/long on, why Hilfenhaus couldn’t bowl a short pitch delivery to Dwayne Smith. Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma found form, Harbhajan Singh bowled well and even Smith connected with three consecutive deliveries. Can things get worse?

Yes they can. Mumbai have NEVER lost a game at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, the venue of the Eliminator. Not even when they were 51/5 in 8.5 overs chasing 171. Instead they sealed the chase with 2 balls to spare, hitting 122 off just 65 fucking balls. And this was just over a week ago.

In Plaha, Munaf, RP, Rohit and Dinesh Karthik, MI have players who have their issues with/feel let down by MS Dhoni, by the K Srikkanth led selection panel and even Murali Vijay. That’s a lot of personal motivation to be up against.

Mumbai have experimented with about 10 different opening pairs but all of them have had one great stand. Not the same case with CSK where the questions of playing Hussey ahead of du Plessis, of playing Srikkanth, of where to slot Badrinath/Bravo in the batting order and Jakati’s wildly fluctuating form have added their share of white hairs to MS Dhoni’s head. Add to that his and Suresh Raina’s weakest form in years and you can understand why CSK aren’t the favourites tonight.

However, they weren’t the favourites earlier in 2010. They weren’t favourites for a point in 2011. Heck, they weren’t favourites on Sunday afternoon. But they’re still here. That takes some doing, gives me some hope.

After a very bad campaign I had resigned myself to our first exit without making the playoffs since the IPL began. When we finally put a run that made us look like contenders we got the worst show of the season at Dharamsala. But we still made it through. Every win from here therefore is a bonus and three wins in a row against MI, DD and KKR respectively is a lot to ask for even the most optimistic fans.  But we’re used to asking and used to getting. So good luck, do your best and whistle podu!

Adjust for width

April 30, 2012

CSK vs KXIP, Chepauk, IPL 2012

Ashwin does his Stuart Broad impression in case PK wonders what he's missing.

Chasing 157, CSK were neck deep in shit at 146/8 in 19.4 overs against Kings XI Punjab on Saturday evening. 11 needed off 2 balls but with two bowlers who can hit a bit at the crease, a distant possibility.

The next ball, this happened:

19.5

Azhar Mahmood to Kulasekara, 1 bye, Kulasekara moved right out side his off stump to play behind square, Mahmood bowled a full ball just outside leg stump, the batsman missed and then ran as the ball went to the keeper. It’s not been given wide and rightly so. He had moved so far outside off stump. Ashwin does not like it, and he exchanges words with Praveen Kumar. Chennai have lost this.

Ashwin has become petulant of late but that’s for another post. CI adding a ‘rightly so’, I won’t even go there.

Umpires are humans and they have their inconsistencies but this decision was by no means an objective one. Had this come earlier in the game I’d bet on it being called a wide. Coming off the penultimate ball of a chase, Umpire Tarapore chose to call it a legal delivery and signalled a bye.

Why this particular delivery? What if Mahmood had followed up by firing another one down leg, a fraction wider than the previous one clear enough to be signalled a wide?

Going down leg is generally a good rule of thumb to identify a wide, why not call everything that goes down leg a wide? 11 needed off two balls could’ve easily turned into a still possible 9 off two, instead it became an impossible 10 off 1, ending the game for CSK.

Umpires aren’t there to appreciate skill, they have to make decisions based on what they see. Kissed the leg stump on it’s way to the keeper? Legal, maybe, if you saw it. Missed it? Wide. Hit a stump and disturbed the bails? Bowled, unless you’re Johan Cloete/Anil Chaudhury, the batsman is Sangakkara and you’re up for a scrap with Munaf and Harbhajan.

Didn’t watch the RR vs DD game today but heard about this incident:

18.4 Morkel to Hodge, no run, down the leg-side, was it? And not called a wide! Everyone is smiling there, including the batsman and the fielders…!

A Morne Morkel delivery down the leg-side wasn’t given a wide and DD ultimately won by 1 run. Two opinion calls in two days. I’ll admit CSK was mostly a lost cause before the wide that wasn’t but surely RR aren’t amused.

The leg side wide rule in limited over formats is quite harsh on the bowlers but I’m not sure how inconsistent decisions like this can fix that imbalance. It’s one of the few rules you can could expect umpires to not screw up completely.

Image via Cricinfo

2011 Champions League T20 – The Group Stage

October 6, 2011

It’s been great but this is what I felt two weeks ago.

There is no change in the stance.

Beloved CSK went out in the first round, ending at the bottom of Group A, bucking trends like only N Srinivasan’s team can by screwing up two chases horribly. This was after losing to Mumbai Indians (now with 9.09% less Indians) from a position of certain victory and beating the Cape Cobras after looking down and out. Stephen Fleming attributed it to ‘no gas in the tank’, saying the England tour had drained the big players. It was like hearing Gary Kirsten attribute the lackluster Twenty20 World Championships performances of India in 2009 and 2010 to the IPL seasons that preceded them. True words, and there ain’t nothing you can do about it. This exit doesn’t rankle much, considering it’s the only break MSD and Raina will get in some time.

It could get worse, Mumbuy-lots-of-foreigners-and-play-them-only-as-much-as-possible Indians could still win this tournament.

PS: I have been writing match previews and reports for select games, you can read them here.

Chennai Super Kings sleepwalk past Rajasthan Royals

May 6, 2011

It was mostly a boring match. Rahul Dravid’s T20 innings was the highlight of it. He adapted well but the grace traded for rushed effectiveness only spoilt the memories. Maybe because it was a slogfest the last time these two played on this pitch, no doubt that was on CSK’s mind when they had the ropes at the MAC pushed according to this Scott Styris tweet:

No such excitement this time though. Rahul Dravid’s knock was exactly the kind of innings that used to be written off as a freak innings even if one came every 5-6 ODIs. RR powered through to 86 for no loss in their first 10 overs helped by some very poor fielding by CSK. At which point Shadab Jakati began the fightback by plucking a screamer from Shane Watson right above his head. The Chennai choke was then applied.

The rest of the batsmen didn’t learn from Dravid and kept holing out. Dravid himself got out trying to go over the top when he could’ve easily reaped runs with his conventional shot making. In an amusing strategy #win, Taylor was out caught inches from the long on ropes.

Mid innings, when the Royals looked on course for at least 170, Stephen Fleming was asked how much he would be comfortable chasing, he replied 148. Rajasthan Royals ended their innings without a single six, at 147/6.

Vijay couldn’t repeat the innings that established his T20 cred but the Mike Hussey bot and Raina settled down. The two grafted runs in a busy boring partnership till the eleventh over. The eleventh over thankfully for all the audiences watching across the world saw two sixes as the two took on Nayan Doshi. That over also got the CSK run rate past the asking rate.

With 3 required for a win, Raina tried to win with a big shot and lost his wicket. Morkel walked in at the non striker’s end, watched as Hussey smashed a four, blew his smoking bat and walked off, CSK won by 8 wickets.

Paul Valthaty Update

At the end of the CSK vs RR match, Hussey briefly shared the most runs this IPL tag with Sachin (327 runs) although with a higher average, one lesser not out innings, in fewer innings, two fewer matches, higher strike rate etc. Sachin got it back half an hour later and ended the night 24 runs ahead. Kallis also pushed past Valthaty this afternoon but tonight the cap rests on the bald pate of Sehwag who dropped a mega ton on DC to move up past Sachin and Hussey to the top spot.

Valthaty needs 122 runs just to overtake Sehwag as the leading run scorer. He’s scored that many in a single innings already this season. Encore?

Chennai Super Kings overcome Deccan Chargers

May 4, 2011

Chennai Super Kings fought back after a huge scare from the Deccan Chargers to win their home game by 19 runs on Sunday, May 1st.

I don’t know what it is about DC that brings out the slapstick in CSK, this happened in 2009 and this happened two nights ago. Sample this:

1.6

Bollinger to Dhawan, 1 run, you can’t pack more action in one ball, this one was cut away towards point, non-striker wanted the single and ran all the way to the striker who hadn’t budged much, the throw comes to the striker’s end, and misses, if it had hit both batsmen would have been short of the crease, fielder backs up, not very cleanly, but manages to throw it back to Bollinger, who still had ages to take off the bails, but he missed the stumps on the first attempt, he tried to throw the ball on the stumps on the second attempt, but missed again, all these men collectively wouldn’t have hit a wall from a foot away

That’s not to say DC didn’t have a shtick of their own called Sunny Sohal. The shots he played to the pacers Morkel and Bollinger were ridiculous. He didn’t have a bucket of luck as much as a torrent that he rode to get to his 50. Sohal repeatedly backed off to the leg to make room for hitting on the off, found the ball following him, closed his eyes,  even fell over and swung. Each time he got lucky, edging it AND getting boundaries. Only when he was facing Randiv did he play ‘shots’, slogs over midwicket and long on added to the misery for CSK. Then like most lucky fools who don’t acknowledge the luck they had, he tried one reverse sweep too many and was bowled.

But he left DC at a very comfortable position, requiring just 95 off 13.1 overs to overhaul CSK’s score of 165.

That CSK score didn’t look like it would happen at one point in time. Steyn wasn’t playing but DC’s bowlers did a great job to restrict CSK to a sedate start. Ojha removed Murali Vijay and the part timers were rushing through rather tight overs. Mike Hussey bot was grafting runs at one end when Raina decided to break free. A little success but he got out just when he got CSK to a 18th over par score. Thankfully Morkel the batsman turned up and tonked the ball over the ropes for one medium and two humongous sixes in the 19th over. That last flourish pushed the total from a tricky 140-ish score to a certainly defendable 165/5.

Sohal’s periscope shots studded innings though looked good to push all that aside. It was irritating to watch good bowling from Morkel and Bollinger not just rendered ineffective but costly. 94 from 13.1 should be cakewalk ideally but the rest of the DC batsmen couldn’t do it. Dhawan had been rotating strike earlier but lost his wicket when he tried to take charge. Jakati, already having dismissed the openers, took a brilliant catch to dismiss Chipli, White struggled and that led to Sanga going for the big hits and being bowled. Bollinger and Morkel returned to finish their quota and this time got the rewards they deserved, snagging White, Christian, JPD helped along by tighter fielding.

The margin of victory may not say it but the match was as good as lost for CSK for a long period of time. It seemed for a while that they just waited for Sohal’s luck to run out before thinking out a fresh plan. That luck running out bit didn’t happen against Punjab and we know how that ended. MSD needs to work out his set pieces and contingency plans for his set pieces to avoid being blown away by upstarts again. The table’s pretty even at the moment and these little things will matter if CSK are to make it to the top two.

Paul Valthaty Update:
First Virat Kohli overtook both Paul Valthaty and Master Performer Sachin Tendulkar. Then Sachin overtook them again, then Virender Sehwag overtook  everybody but Sachin and Valthaty overtook just Kohli to get behind Sehwag and Sachin. Paul Valthaty also had a disappointing game at his IRL home ground, scratching his way to 33 off 38 in the same game that Sachin reclaimed the Orange cap with a 51 as MI surged to a 33 run win with the help of some good ole cheating . How many more obstacles must this man face? How many more twists will his story of eventual triumph take?

Chennai Super Kings constrict Pune Warriors India Part II

April 28, 2011

Yes, again.

They’re playing games faster than I can write crappy reviews.

Chennai Super Kings constrict Pune Warriors India

April 26, 2011

Presumably having learnt from Mumbai’s performance in the field last week, the Chennai Super Kings threw themselves on the field with determination against the Pune Warriors India at the Chepauk to convincingly defend a modest total.

CSK brought in Jakati for Joginder while PWI brought in Jerome Taylor, Nathan McCullum and Manish Pandey. Yuvi put CSK in to bat and Murali Vijay immediately played a Tendulkar like innings. By that I specifically mean the WC semi final innings where he survived a lot of chances thanks to poor fielding. Vijay being no Tendulkar didn’t make as many runs before finally being dismissed (short ball, bleddy Indian batsman) in the 10th over with the score on 64. Michael Hussey did his robotic run accumulation routine at the other end.

I missed the match from here until when PWI started batting but here’s how it went: Raina flopped immediately, Dhoni hit a few and got out, Hussey got to 60, tried to hit and got out, Albie Morkel mega flopped (duck!), Badri and Aniruddha scored whatever they could coming in so late. Takes a lot to defend142 and PWI could have easily done it.

If it weren’t for CSK’s excellent fielding.

The experiments on Mohnish Mishra continued and he opened the batting with Jesse Ryder. To the joy of DC fans, all he did was redirect an Albie Morkel delivery on to his stumps. Ryder looked as dangerous as a Talli Tubby can when he hit a straight six beyond the sightscreen off Ashwin. Next delivery an arm ball skidded into his stumps as he made room to cut it square. Manish Pandey was at the other end, settling down in his first game after serving a 4 match ban for seeking a higher pay instead of shutting up and signing on for servitude at RCB. He too was early into a shot trying to guide it down to third man; managing only to guide it as far as his stumps. In walked Captain Yuvraj, who had hit a century at the MAC last month against WI in the World Cup in between cramping up, throwing up and fighting delirium. Uthappa immediately deserted him, attempting a rather gymnastic sweep only to be bowled round his legs, leaving PWI at 40/4 and Ashwin with a wicket maiden over.

The choke applied was rather vintage CSK and it was heart warming to see. Ashwin and Randiv were lovely, flighting the ball, making the batsmen check themselves and spend their energy trying to hit the ball past the inner circle. The fielding made sure that Yuvraj and Manhas didn’t get any boundaries in the first three overs they were in, escalating the RRR. What they did fail at was getting direct hits, giving Yuvraj a reprieve early on.

Their partnership of 38 saw just one four and a six; the pressure piled on and Manhas was out trying to steal runs using the pace of Bollinger. Nathan McCullum came in and rotated the strike waiting for Yuvraj to explode but it never came. Yuvraj looked very tired, turning down easy runs and that he could barely middle anything didn’t help. A tired mistimed slash over cover saw Jakati pull off a brilliant catch mid air in the 19thover and PWI were as good as out. Yuvraj Singh, 34 off 43b, 2×4, 0x6, SR: 79.06 was where the game was won.

The RRR was beyond possible and PWI lost more wickets as CSK’s bowling and fielding remained relentless. Nathan McCullum top edged a bouncer while Jerome Taylor and Rahul Sharma were run out as Morkel and Bollinger returned to finish with brilliant, accurate spells. PWI ended the night on 117/9, CSK winning by 25 runs.

Abhinav Mukund put in a contribution with a direct hit from long on to run out Taylor. I don’t know how he’s done in the domestic T20s but it would be worth to give him a go in place of Aniruddha. Although he will have to bat in the middle order, no accommodations there.

PWI have been screwed badly by Ashish Nehra’s injury, they had can’t take Smith/Paine until the bowling gets more consistent contributions from the local bunch. CSK are closer to their best combination but still too dependent on the spinners and that’s been their bane in away games where the pitches haven’t been as helpful as the MAC one.

We just avoided the wooden spoon thanks to Punjab’s spirited response to Delhi’s 221. This win gives us some breathing space before facing Pune again on Wednesday, this time at the DY Patil Stadium, Pune’s ‘home ground’. Hopefully we overcome the away game jitters, win this one and get on a roll!

Paul Valthaty Update:

His middle name is Chandrashekhar, his complete name is Paul Chandrashekhar Valthaty and his friends probably call him PC. He is no longer the Orange Cap wearer (should be wearer not holder IMO) in IPL 2011 because Sachin is now 8 runs clear of him and will probably widen the gap in his MI’s next match vs Rajasthan against that guy whose nightmares he allegedly appears. Paul Valthaty might have a mountain to climb to win back a ridiculous looking trophy.

Mumbai Indians outclass Chennai Super Kings

April 24, 2011

A week after one Borivali boy slapped them around in Mohali, Chennai got the same treatment from another one, this time in Mumbai. Nohit Rohit Sharma finally got a turn at batting early enough in this IPL and didn’t waste time replicating his international career, he scored runs. Beautifully, I must grudgingly add.

The highly influential MS Dhoni’s say in the selection matters of CSK saw Joginder Sharma make a comeback to the playing XI while Southee made way for Randiv. Mumbai dropped Ali Murtaza, the only MI player in my fantasy team to bring in Harbhajan Singh. The many levels on which this loss hurt me is not funny.

The bowlers began well reducing MI to 13-2 with makeshift opener R Sathish and that other guy Sachin Tendulkar dismissed. Rohit Sharma though played wonderfully right from the start bringing up the scoring rate with Rayudu. After Rayudu’s dismissal he partnered up with DC mate Symonds to keep going. Symonds looked uncomfortable against spin but got on by reading  the ball off the pitch and hacking at them.

There was the odd bit of luck and some decisions from Dhoni which went awry. Joginder and Raina went for runs in their second spells after economical first ones, deliveries repeatedly just missed the leg stump after beating the batsmen, aerial shots landed between men and catches were dropped, comically. Bollinger did well at the end though to restrict Mumbai to 165/4.

Vijay’s promising 12 was cut short by Munaf and Raina was tricked into hitting a lame return catch to Harbhajan reducing Chennai to 38/2. CSK’s tireless worker Badri came in and set about rebuilding with Mike Hussey. The duo built up to a position of strength taking CSK to 98 after the 11th over before Malinga returned and immediately caught Hussey by surprise with a short ball. Kieron Pollard dove and held a brilliant catch at midwicket and MI never let go after that.

MI’s exceptionally tight fielding heaped on the pressure, Sachin sneaked in overs by Pollard and Sathish as the rest of CSK’s batsmen fell to scoreboard pressure. Dhoni mishit a Pollard delivery to third man where Rohit took another stunner. Harbhajan broke the partnership between Badri and Cheeka jr and then virtually sealed the match with 3 wickets in his next over, bagging a 5 wicket haul as Morkel, Ashwin and Joginder tried to go for broke. Badri, having got to 50 by then barely got any strike towards the end but kept Chennai mathematically in the hunt till midway into the last over.  With 25 runs needed off the last over Badri managed to take off 16 runs (with the help of a misfield, finally!) as Mumbai wrapped up a nine run win.

It was beautiful batting from Badrinath but Mumbai were just too good with their fielding and bowlers sticking to their plans. Harbhajan Even a rhythm bowler like Munaf came in to bowl the 20th over after last having bowled in the 6th over and did a decent job for the situation.

Chennai had to face the ignominy of going down to the 10th spot in the points table if Delhi had won their match convincingly enough today against Punjab. They escaped that fate by a close margin though and need to pick themselves up in the next few weeks to keep the campaign alive.

The altered format of the qualifiers this year adds an incentive to teams that try to finish on top instead of finishing in the top four so that is what they need to aim for. They had a worse run last year before rallying to make it to the semis so they know how hard it is. Would be better though if they avoid being in that situation altogether.

The idea of not making it to the semis for the first time itself should be enough of a motivation leave aside the expectations of being the defending champion.

Bet loss obligation

Lost a stupid bet hence must upload this Poonam Pandey + MS Dhoniimage. Copyright belongs to http://www.pakistant20.blogspot.com

Now it’s time for the

Paul Valthaty Update

Paul Valthaty has played two matches for the Kings XI Punjab since the last Paul Valthaty Update, first he slammed 46 off 31 balls with four 4s and three 6s against his former team, the Rajasthan Royals as KXIP surged to a 48 run win at Mohali. Unremarkable you say? Not at all because from being the guy who was tied with Sachin Tendulkar in the run charts he became the guy leaving Sachin behind in his trail in the run charts. Sachin Tendulkar made 35 to go forward from the 201 the both were tied on but Paul Valthaty’s 48 saw him clear the little master by 13 whole runs. Paul Valthaty, Orange Cap IPL 2011 is something we should get used to hearing.

He’d have been on top even if he had got a duck today because Sachin only managed 5 runs in Mumbai’s next match which was definitely because of the stronger opposition they played against. But Paul Valthaty isn’t a man of half measures, when he hits them they stay hit and countless such hard hitting related clichés hold true of this man. He scored 14 today which means he’s an eye popping 22 runs ahead of the old hand.

Next Paul Valthaty update will be up on 1st May, after KXIPs next match which is on 30th April. Must update team.

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