Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Cricket World Cup - Classic Matches…..10 : Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s forthcoming book ‘Indian Spring’


England v India  •  Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
27 February 2011

This was a key contest in India’s bid to wrest the title on home turf. Sachin Tendulkar and the belligerent Virender Sehwag provided a-run-a-ball start. After a charmed early life, the Delhi blaster fell for 35 off 24 deliveries with 6 boundaries, the total four short of 50. Gautam Gambhir helped the little master carry the team to a seemingly unassailable position. Tendulkar gradually assumed the role of aggressor. He tonked Paul Collingwood for 2 sixes, and then blasted Graeme Swann for two more off successive deliveries. James Anderson too came in for special treatment as the duo carved three boundaries in an over.

Just when they seemed to have seized control, with Gambhir bringing up his half-century, the canny Swann knocked back his stumps. The second wicket had realized 134 runs in 21.5 overs. Another left-hander Yuvraj Singh filled the breach, and India continued to cruise. Tendulkar raised his fifth hundred in the World Cup, flicking the ball off his hips to the boundary. He had faced 103 deliveries. In the next over he rocketed Swann for his 5th six. Now looking to score off every ball, Tendulkar fell for 120 off 115 balls, having cracked 10 boundaries besides his five delightful shots over the ropes. The stand was worth 56 in 8.4 overs. Skipper Mahendra Dhoni joined in the fun, helping Yuvraj add another 69 runs in just 7.4 overs. The latter brought up his fifty but the two strokeplayers fell off successive deliveries. At 305 for five, with 23 balls left, India were poised for a huge total. But the later batsmen floundered and the innings folded up in the penultimate ball for 338. Tim Bresnan, varied his deliveries cleverly, and bagged a five-wicket haul, conceding 48 runs.

England looked undaunted as the aggressive Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss logged up 68 runs off nine-and-a-half overs. But it was when Ian Bell allied with his captain that India were pushed against the ropes. Strauss reached his century in 99 balls. The accomplished Bell too stroked on at around a-run-per-ball. The left-hander ushered in the hundred partnership with a six off Yuvraj over long-on. Bell celebrated by lofting leg-spinner Piyush Chawla for a similar six, thereby recording his own fifty. A hush fell over the packed Chinnaswamy Stadium as the pair progressed steadily. Powerplay and cramps had Bell attempting a big hit, only to hole out off the persistent Zaheer Khan. It was a 170-run partnership in 26 overs that seemed to have settled the issue for England. And then, coincidentally, Strauss was trapped leg-before-wicket off the next delivery, as Zaheer swung in his yorker. His 158 came off 145 balls with 18 boundaries and a six. Was the English innings replicating the Indian as Zaheer bent Collingwood’s off-stick, and Matt Prior too perished soon?

With 50 required off 28 balls and just four wickets left, the pendulum appeared to have swung back towards the hosts. But the euphoria was short-lived as the lower order swung their bats merrily. With seven wickets down, 29 were needed from the last two overs. Swann and Bresnan swept Chawla for sixes, and then the latter was bowled but 15 runs came off the over. Munaf Patel came on and Ajmal Shahzad crashed a straight six off the third ball. Five runs were needed in three deliveries, then two in one. Patel bowled full and straight, Swann drove to mid-off and scrambled a single. The scores were level. It was the fourth tie in the World Cup. The crowd was satiated. Strauss summed up the issue aptly: “We’re happy and devastated at the same time but privileged to play in a game like this.”               

India 338 all out (49.5 overs), 
England 338 for eight wickets (50 overs)

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email

Indian Spring will be released later this year.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Cricket World Cup - Classic Matches…..9 : Excerpt from ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011’ by Indra Vikram Singh


South Africa v Sri Lanka  •  Providence Stadium,
28 March 2007

The first international match in the Providence Stadium, just outside Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, produced one of the most exciting matches in World Cup history. With the weather uncertain as well, Mahela Jayawardene took a brave call by electing to bat.

Sri Lanka lost wickets regularly with Charl Langeveldt forcing Sanath Jayasuriya and Jayawardene to hole out. Then Herschelle Gibbs flew into the stumps Jonty Rhodes-style to run out Chamara Silva. At 98 for five in the 25th over, South Africa were on top. Tillakaratne Dilshan and Russel Arnold put together a fighting 97-run stand off 130 deliveries. Dilshan (58) fell at 195 off the penultimate delivery of the 46th over, and then followed a veritable procession. In their bid to rev up the scoring rate, the Sri Lankans swung their bats, only to hit steepling catches. The beneficiary on three occasions was Langeveldt who returned with neat figures of five for 39 off his 10 overs. The last five Sri Lankan wickets fell for 14 runs in the space of 17 balls.

Chaminda Vaas struck back immediately, bringing in the last delivery of his first over sharply to castle Abraham de Villiers for a duck. Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis settled into a long partnership. The skipper looked in ominous form, raising a-run-a-ball fifty. Muttiah Muralitharan had him caught behind but by then he had cracked 7 fours besides a six off Chaminda Vaas over long-off. Gibbs helped Kallis put on 65 runs. Magical Murali took a smart return catch to send back Gibbs, and then trapped Mark Boucher leg-before first ball. Justin Kemp scratched around for a while before perishing but Shaun Pollock helped Kallis take the Proteas to the doorstep of victory.

Four runs were required off 32 deliveries with five wickets in hand when Lasith Malinga’s pin-point yorker crashed into Pollock’s stumps. Next ball, Andrew Hall lobbed another slower one into the hands of Upul Tharanga in the covers. That was the end of ‘Slinger’ Malinga’s over. Just one run was scored off the next over but that ensured that Kallis would face Malinga’s hat-trick ball. The perky little paceman steamed in, his mop of ringlets bouncing up and down, and with his low round arm put the ball in just the right place. Kallis edged it into the gloves of Kumar Sangakkara. There was frenzy all around as Daryl Harper pointed his finger skywards. It was the fifth hat-trick in the World Cup following the feats of Chetan Sharma, Saqlain Mushtaq, Chaminda Vaas and Brett Lee.

Malinga was now a man possessed. He produced another yorker that whistled into Makhaya Ntini’s stumps, achieving a feat that no other bowler had done before in international cricket – four wickets in four balls. It was now 207 for nine. The next 11 deliveries produced just a single. With two runs required for a win, Robin Peterson edged Malinga to the third-man boundary. The tension released, Peterson went delirious as he sprinted towards the pavilion, knocking the stumps at the non-striker’s end with a wave of his bat. There was just a tinge of regret as Malinga relived those pulsating moments: “The old ball was reverse-swinging and I got the wickets. I tried to get five-in-a-row, but unfortunately couldn’t. I think we didn’t have enough runs.” Even so, he nearly achieved the impossible.   

Sri Lanka       : 209 all out (49.3 overs)
South Africa : 212 for 9 wickets (48.2 overs)

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011

ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Phones + 91 11 23417175, 23412567

Available in leading bookshops, and online on several websites.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Cricket World Cup - Classic Matches…..8 : Excerpt from ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011’ by Indra Vikram Singh


Australia v England  •  St. George’s Park,
Port Elizabeth, 2 March 2003

Even given that an Australia-England face-off invariably has the adrenalin pumping, this match had enough excitement to make a whole tournament memorable. An old hand and a new star – albeit not-so-young – eked out an improbable victory for the defending champions just when they seemed vulnerable. It was indeed a classic contest, reminiscent of the thrilling Pakistan-West Indies encounter at Edgbaston in 1975.

England openers Nick Knight and Marcus Trescothick raced to 50 off 7.1 overs. A 160.1 kph (99.4 mph) thunderbolt from Brett Lee to Knight, the fastest of the event thus far, made no impact. The tide turned as Andy Bichel came on in the 10th over. At 66, he had Knight caught in the gully by Damien Martyn. In his next over, Bichel had Michael Vaughan caught behind, and spread-eagled Nasser Hussain’s stumps. Glenn McGrath removed Trescothick. Bichel had Paul Collingwood nicking to Adam Gilchrist. In eight overs England lost five wickets for 19 runs. Bichel had four for 12 from a six-over spell.

Alec Stewart and Andrew Flintoff effected another twist. They battled for nearly 25 overs to put on 90. The irrepressible Bichel again broke through. He had Flintoff snapped up by Gilchrist, and castled Stewart too. He added Giles to his bag, finishing with seven for 20, second-best in the World Cup after McGrath’s effort against Namibia three days earlier.

Any Australian complacency was ripped away by Andy Caddick. He picked up Matthew Hayden early, and though Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting tried to dominate, he dismissed the wicketkeeper. He trapped Martyn for a duck and sent back the skipper too. Australia reeled at 48 for four. Darren Lehmann and Michael Bevan staged a rearguard before another spate of wickets. At 114 for seven, Australia seemed to be faltering at last. Soon it was 135 for eight as Lee was run out.

Bevan and Bichel dug themselves in. Could ‘Terminator’ Bevan do it again? Would he get necessary support? Bichel was a man inspired. He had come through the ranks. A perpetual reserve, he was in only due to Jason Gillespie’s Achilles tendon injury. He bowled with abandon in this match, as always. Now he batted with determination.

The pair stood firm but the overs were running out. With 14 runs to get off two overs, Bichel chanced his arm against James Anderson. He clouted a slower ball over mid-wicket for six, and on-drove a boundary. Eleven runs came off the over. Finally, Bevan hit Flintoff’s fourth ball to the mid-wicket fence to raise an amazing victory. The stand was worth 73 runs off 74 balls. It was a stupendous turnaround. Bichel would no longer be an aspirant relegated to the bench. There was glee on his face: “To get seven wickets, then be there when the winning runs are scored and walk off having scored 34 not out from no.10. It’s hard to even dream about those days.” Ponting offered another perspective, “England allowed a lot of doubt to creep into their minds and asked themselves: Is this going to be another day when the Australians get up and steal the game away from us just like before.” Actually, for Australia defeat was never an option. 

England          : 204 for 8 wickets (50 overs)
New Zealand : 208 for 8 wickets (49.4 overs)

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011

ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Phones + 91 11 23417175, 23412567

Available in leading bookshops, and online on several websites.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Feature on my book 'A Maharaja's Turf' in Majesty magazine, UK, June 2014

My book ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’ is about the triumph of my grandfather Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla's horse Windsor Lad in the Epsom Derby of England in 1934, still the only Indian owner to achieve this coveted feat.

Eighty years ago King George V and Queen Mary saw my grandfather's Irish-bred colt Windsor Lad win The Derby. On 7th June their grand-daughter Queen Elizabeth II was at Epsom to witness this year's Derby.

Just after my grandfather led Windsor Lad to the unsaddling area, King George V invited him to the royal box and raised a toast to this popular win, amid cheers of “Good Old Pip” (as my grandfather was referred to by race-goers) from the crowd, estimated to be between a quarter and a half million.

Incidentally, Windsor Lad was trained by Marcus Marsh, son of Richard Marsh who trained Derby winners for King George V and his father King Edward VII.

Windsor Lad was ridden by Charlie Smirke. In 1952, the same combination of Marcus Marsh and Charlie Smirke won the Derby for my grandfather’s friend the Aga Khan whose horse Tulyar finished at the head of the field.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email and

A Maharaja’s Turf

ISBN 978-81-901668-3-6

Published by Sporting Links, India.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Cricket World Cup - Classic Matches…..7 : Excerpt from ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011’ by Indra Vikram Singh


Australia v South Africa (Semi-Final)  •  
Edgbaston, Birmingham, 17 June 1999

Just four days earlier the two teams had fought a high-scoring cliffhanger. Australia had advanced to the semi-final with just two balls to spare. It was clear that not much separated these sides. Excitement was running high as they clashed again at Edgbaston. Yet none could have imagined that the match would end the way it did. 

Pacemen Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald were in devastating form. Pollock made a delivery jump, and Mark Waugh gloved it to Mark Boucher. Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting put on 51 but South Africa struck back. Three wickets fell for 14 runs, and at 68 for four in the 17th over, Australia were looking down the barrel.

That man Steve Waugh fought another valiant battle. He put on 90 for the fifth wicket with Michael Bevan. Waugh was caught by Boucher, trying to glide the ball to third-man. He scored 56 off 76 balls with a six and 6 fours. Thereafter only Shane Warne offered resistance. Bevan was last out in the final over for 65. Pollock took five for 36 off 9.2 overs, while Donald bagged four for 32 off 10 overs. They shot out Australia for 213.

Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs put on 48 before an inspired Warne struck. He beat Gibbs in the air and bowled him. Kirsten tried to heave him and was also bowled. Warne beat Hansie Cronje second ball with a vicious turner. David Shepherd declared him caught at slip by Mark Waugh. The ball had apparently missed the bat. Misfortune struck again as Daryll Cullinan was run out. South Africa were 61 for four off 21.2 overs.

Jacques Kallis and Jonty Rhodes put on 84 for the fifth wicket. Kallis scored a resilient half-century before falling to Warne. Pollock hit 20 off 14 deliveries. But wickets kept falling while the irrepressible Lance Klusener blazed away at the other end. Boucher and Steve Elworthy departed in quick succession. The score then was 198 for nine after 48.4 overs, with 16 runs required off 8 balls. Klusener swung Glenn McGrath high towards long-on. Paul Reiffel on the boundary jumped to catch the ball, but palmed it over the ropes. Klusener then scrambled a single to retain the strike for the final over.

There were now 9 runs needed. Klusener smashed Damien Fleming for boundaries off the first two balls. Just one run was required off 4 deliveries with Klusener still on strike. Steve Waugh brought in all his fielders. Donald at the other end seemed jittery. He was nearly run out off the third ball. Klusener played the next ball towards Mark Waugh in the covers and ran. Donald was confused. He stayed put, then ran, dropping his bat in the process. Mark Waugh back-handed the ball towards the stumps at the bowler's end where both the batsmen were standed. Fleming then rolled the ball to Ian Healy, and Donald was beaten by yards.

It was a tie, the first in the World Cup. Australia advanced to the final, having beaten South Africa by a whisker in the previous match. A relieved Shane Warne exclaimed: "We just got out of jail at the end. I don't know how we did it. It was just a great game of cricket." Sometimes the difference between triumph and tragedy can be very slender indeed.

Australia        : 213 all out (49.2 overs)
South Africa : 213 all out (49.4 overs)

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011

ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Phones + 91 11 23417175, 23412567

Available in leading bookshops, and online on several websites.