Friday, February 27, 2015

‘Indian Spring’ - cricket World Cup book and e-book by Indra Vikram Singh

Indian Spring

by Indra Vikram Singh

~ A-4 size    ~ All-colour    ~ 216 pages    ~ 60 photographs

INDIA’S WIN IN THE CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011
A colourful commercial extravaganza
10 Classic Matches
12 Memorable Performances
Hall of Fame featuring 29 stars
Scorecards of all the 49 matches
Batting and bowling averages of all the players
Sidelights
Records and statistics of all World Cup tournaments from 1975 to 2011…..
…..AND A CURTAIN RAISER TO THE CRICKET WORLD CUP 2015



Limited collector’s edition digitally printed


E-book

For queries please email to singh_iv@hotmail.com

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

World Cup debutants revel on the first three riveting days of the 2015 event


Debutants shone in their first appearances in the cricket World Cup as the 2015 event got off to an exciting start. Australian opener Aaron Finch led the way with a brilliant hundred. Glenn Maxwell joined in the run-spree, smashing a 30-ball half-century. Lanky English paceman Steven Finn rounded off the innings with a hat-trick, thereby bagging a five-wicket haul. This was the eighth hat-trick in the World Cup, with Malinga snatching two of them. Paceman Mitchell Marsh grabbed five wickets of his own, even as James Taylor battled it out in vain for England with an unbeaten 98. All this happened on the opening day even as these played soaked in the premier tournament for the first time.

When Mitchell Marsh walked on to the field, he completed the fourth combination of father and son to have played in the World Cup. Geoff Marsh was vice captain of the Aussie 1987 Cup-winning side. For New Zealand, Lance Cairns played in 1975, 1979 and 1983 and offspring Chris Cairns turned out in 1992, 1996, 1999 and 2003. Don Pringle appeared for East Africa in 1975 while his son Derek Pringle represented England in 1987 and 1992. English opener Chris Broad took the field for England in 1987; two decades later Stuart Broad emerged and is now turning out in his third World Cup. If Stuart Binny is selected in the playing eleven for India, he will emulate his father Roger who was leading wicket-taker when India wrested the title in 1983, and went on to play in the 1987 event as well.

Not to be outdone, South Africa’s David Miller hit a superb century of his own, and shared a record fifth-wicket partnership with Jean-Paul Duminy in all One-day Internationals, even as Zimbabwe put up a determined fight. Miller sent the spectators into a frenzy as he blasted 30 runs in an over.

In the needle encounter with Pakistan, as Virat Kohli carved out his second hundred in the World Cup to go with his maiden one on debut in 2011, Sohail Khan captured five Indian wickets. The complete list of bowlers who have had five-wicket returns on World Cup debut is Gary Gilmour, Dennis Lillee, Austin Codrington, Damien Fleming, Ravi Rampaul, Steven Finn, Mitchell Marsh and Sohail Khan. India’s Mohammad Shami had four scalps to show as he bowled for the first time in the showpiece event.

While Ireland were upstaging the West Indies in spectacular fashion, Lendl Simmons put up a sterling show with a fighting century. This completed a full complement of batsmen scoring hundreds on World Cup debut thus far comprising Glenn Turner, Dennis Amiss, Allan Lamb, Trevor Chappell, Geoff Marsh, Andy Flower, Nathan Astle, Gary Kirsten, Craig Wishart, Scott Styris, Andrew Symonds, Jeremy Bray, Virat Kohli, Aaron Finch, David Miller and Lendl Simmons.

World Cup debutants indeed made the first three days of the 2015 tournament memorable with bat as well as ball, leaving fans yearning for more exhilarating fare.

(For more updates on the cricket World Cup 2015 please see my other blog singhiv.wordpress.com too).

Friday, February 13, 2015

Five stalwarts to look out for in the cricket World Cup 2015: 5. Lasith Malinga. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s new book ‘Indian Spring’

Slinging in the lethal yorkers


Balls…..642
Wickets…..31
Average…..17.87
Best…..6/38
Economy-rate…..5.17
Catches…..2

A quaint action somewhere between the underarm and the overarm, facilitating the slipping in of lethal yorkers beneath the willow, putting at risk batsmen’s toes as much as the base of stumps, a thick mop of streaked curly locks bouncing in his spirited run-up, have made the little pace dynamo unique as well as an unforgettable character of the game. Lasith Malinga is as original as one can find, a strike bowler like no other.

The bemused batsmen from Bermuda would have seen nothing like him. Like the other bowlers he enjoyed the easy picking, returning with an analysis of 5-2-10-3. The newcomers collapsed to 78 all out.

Having upset India, Bangladesh could not offer much resistance to the Lankan attack. Malinga had Tamim Iqbal caught behind by Kumar Sangakkara. He then got Aftab Ahmed to top-edge a short ball, for Sanath Jayasuriya to take the skier at square-leg. Mohammad Ashraful used the long handle against him, crashing 2 fours each off two consecutive overs, but in different spells. Malinga, though, had tailender Abdur Razzak snapped up by Sangakkara again as the delivery took off from a length just outside off. Bangladesh were bowled out for 112 in 37 overs. Malinga’s booty this time was three for 27 off 6 overs. 

A desperate India could not mount a challenge and packed up for 185. Malinga picked up a late wicket. Sri Lanka had won all their Group B matches with ease, their bowling outfit having cleaned up all 30 wickets.

It was in the super-eight clash with South Africa that Malinga created a sensation towards the end. After 7 overs he had taken no wicket, having conceded 43 runs. Chasing a target of 210, the Proteas were sailing at 206 for five in the 45th over. Malinga’s fifth delivery was a slower one that foxed Shaun Pollock and hit his leg-stick. Next ball, Andrew Hall spooned a yorker into the hands of Upul Tharanga in the covers. One run came off the next over. Jacques Kallis, batting on 86, tried to finish off the match by square-driving the first delivery of Malinga’s next over, but to his chagrin only edged it into the gloves of Sangakkara. Malinga had grabbed the fifth hat-trick of the World Cup as the nervous South Africans searched for those winning runs. Makhaya Ntini could barely get his bat down before the lethal yorker smashed into his middle stump. Malinga had created a sensation around the Providence Stadium with his four-in-four devastation. He conceded just one run in his last four deliveries as the batsmen fiddled around, barely surviving. A maiden followed, and then Malinga’s first delivery missed the outside edge by a whisker. Amid mounting tension, Robin Peterson edged the next to the boundary, just managing to pull off a win by one wicket. Malinga returned with four wickets for 54, nearly sneaking a highly improbable win. It is drama like this that Malinga is always likely to conjour. He shared the man-of-the-match award with Charl Langeveldt who had a five-wicket haul to his name.              

Once Sri Lanka had posted 303 for five, hosts West Indies were subdued easily. Chris Gayle was sucked into Malinga’s delivery way outside off, hitting a steepler that was taken at long-on, the first wicket to fall at 20. Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, playing a strange kind of innings having scored 17 off 53 balls without a boundary, suddenly decided to alter his plans. He hit an off-side four and then used the long handle against Muttiah Muralitharan, periodically launching the great off-spinner for 4 sixes. As Malinga bowled the first ball of the 42nd over, Chanderpaul sent it sailing over square-leg for his 5th six. Predictably, Malinga yorked him off-stump next ball. Sri Lanka went on to register a 113-run win. This time Malinga bagged two for 34 off 5 overs.

There was another cliff-hanger with England. After Sri Lanka had put up 235, Chaminda Vaas dismissed captain Michael Vaughan for a duck. Malinga then trapped Ed Joyce leg-before, and suddenly England were 11 for two after 5.2 overs. The following batsmen battled hard, but England were in trouble at 133 for six with 33.3 overs having been bowled. Ravi Bopara and wicketkeeper Paul Nixon staged a rearguard act, carrying the score to 220. Off the fifth ball of the penultimate over, Malinga had Nixon holing out in the covers. Bopara drove the last delivery through the covers to the ropes. There were now 12 runs required off the final over and 3 off the very last ball. Dilhara Fernando bowled a beauty that knocked the top of Bopara’s off-stump. Sri Lanka pulled off a two-run victory. Malinga’s share was two wickets for 50 in his quota of 10 overs.

He missed the last three super-eight matches with an ankle injury but was back for the semi-final. With Sri Lanka having piled up 289 for five, Malinga struck straightaway, his third delivery screaming into skipper Stephen Fleming pad in front of the stumps. That was his solitary wicket at an expense of 21 runs with two maidens in 7 overs. New Zealand folded up for 208.  
             
Adam Gilchrist made the final his own with his hurricane hundred but Malinga broke his huge opening stand of 172 with Matthew Hayden. The big left-hander was playing a remarkably subdued supporting role to the marauding wicketkeeper when he tried to loft Malinga over the covers, for Mahela Jayawardene to take a fine catch springing up just at the right moment. Later he castled Shane Watson but Australia hoisted a mammoth 281 for four in the truncated 38-overs-a-side match. Malinga’s two wickets cost 49 runs in 8 overs, and he bowled the only maiden of the innings. Sri Lanka faded along with the light and had to be content with the runners-up prize.

Malinga took wickets in each of the eight matches that he played, logging a tally of 18 at a brilliant average of 15.77, evidence of his striking ability. He bowled with fire right through, an ideal foil to the experienced Vaas.

Once again he had to sit out the first two matches of the 2011 World Cup. Having recuperated, he was back and how! The first ball of his second over was a venomous trademark inswinging yorker that made a mess of the hapless Kenyan opener Seren Waters, and sent him packing leg-before. Another perfect indipping yorker in his second spell disturbed the furniture behind Collins Obuya. The last ball of his seventh over was once again the toe-crusher that found Tanmay Mishra in front of the sticks. He churned out another lethal yorker first up in his next over that crashed into Peter Ongondo’s middle stump. Malinga was once again on a hat-trick as Shem Ngoche took guard. Predictably, it was another of those under-the-bat thunderbolts which was too good for the no. 10 and darted into the stumps. Malinga had become the first to rip out two hat-tricks in the World Cup. After a wide that ran away to the fine-leg boundary and a dot ball, the fourth legitimate delivery of the over was an action replay of his earlier yorkers, which the mesmerized Elijah Otieno could do nothing about and the leg-stick took the brunt. Kenya were all out for 142; Malinga had a bounty of six wickets, having expended 38 runs in 7.4 overs. Sri Lanka took only 18.4 overs to speed to a nine-wicket triumph. Malinga was man-of-the-match.      
unique

The game versus Australia was washed out after less than 33 overs in the Lankan innings. Malinga went wicketless as Zimbabwe were trounced easily. There was one wicket for him at the end as the Kiwis wilted. The thrashing of England in the quarter-final also had him pick up a sole wicket.

After this lean phase, he bowled the first over in the semi-final, and then returned only in the 22nd over. That vicious inswinging yorker, for the umpteenth time, went right through Martin Guptill and crashed into the timber. As Scott Stryis went after Malinga, Kane Williamson too tried to emulate his senior but was another victim of the Malinga patent, the pad in the way right in front. In his next over, Nathan McCullum tried a mighty swing to leg off one that came on slowly and merely nicked it to Sangakkara. Malinga’s haul was three for 55 in 9 overs, with New Zealand being bowled out for 217. The Lankan batsmen ensured a five-wicket win.

Jayawardene gave the side a great opportunity in the final with a magnificent century, and Malinga provided a tremendous opening with two monumental early strikes. Virender Sehwag was rapped on the pad trying to turn the second delivery of the innings and was gone for a duck. He then stunned the boisterous Wankhede Stadium crowd and indeed all of India, moving the first delivery of his fourth over away from a good length. Sachin Tendulkar tried to square-drive, only to get a thickish edge for Sangakkara to fling himself and cling on to the huge prize. Suddenly, India were 31 for two with doubts creeping into the minds of millions of fans. Gradually they extricated themselves from the tangle, built up momentum and brought up victory with a flourish. Sri Lanka were worthy runners-up again, and Malinga finished with two for 42 in 9 overs.

The little powerhouse had played his role, bagging 13 wickets on pitches that were unkind to pacemen for the most part. Once again he had a top-class average of 20.14.       
           
With 31 wickets to his name, Malinga is third for his country behind the peerless Muralitharan and Vaas in the World Cup. His strike-rate of 20.70 is second best among bowlers who have taken at least 15 wickets, as is his average of 17.87 in the list of top wicket-takers in the premier event. This bundle of energy has been an invaluable asset for Sri Lanka. Sadly, injuries prevented the full blooming of his Test career but he has carried on in the shorter formats, electrifying crowds around the world with his stunning strikes.

(From the Hall of Fame section of Indra Vikram Singh’s new book ‘Indian Spring’. The author can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).

Indian Spring

ISBN 978-81-901668-7-4

Friday, February 6, 2015

Five stalwarts to look out for in the cricket World Cup 2015: 4. Shahid Afridi. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s new book ‘Indian Spring’

Slasher who finally spun his true magic


Balls…..762
Wickets…..28
Average…..19.60
Best…..5/16
Economy-rate…..4.32
Catches…..10 

It was in October 1996 that Shahid Afridi burst on the scene with a blazing hundred in his first innings in One-day Internationals, against Sri Lanka at Nairobi. Afridi had made his debut two days earlier against Kenya but did not get to bat as he was penciled in at no. 9, his team triumphing by four wickets. That hundred, batting at no.3, came in all of 37 balls, fastest at this level till Kiwi Corey Anderson pipped it by a delivery on the first day of 2014.

Soon drafted in to open the innings, it was reckoned that he would invariably provide blistering starts to his team. Though he blasted two of the five quickest, and three of the ten quickest, tons in One-dayers, and all his 6 hundreds arrived in well under 100 balls, he was too reckless and indiscreet to be a regular opener. Scintillating hitter though he is, he could not hold his place as a regular batsman alone, as his average of 23.40 suggests. He obviously has another skill, that of a quickish leg-spinner, but the powers-that-be were too slow to realize that his real utility was as a bowling allrounder who could change the game with both bat and ball. For that he needed to be utilised as a frontline bowler and a lower middle-order batsman.

Through three World Cup tournaments Afridi was barely noticed. A highest score of 37 in his 18 World Cup innings is hardly worthy of an international batsman. At the helm in 2011, he took the ball with a vengeance and emerged as the highest wicket-taker along with Zaheer Khan, but at a much better average, economy rate as well as strike-rate. Finally, Afridi came into his own in the World Cup.

He was up and down the order in the early English summer of 1999, in and out of the side, sometimes bowling, at other times not. His only performance of note was a typically swashbuckling 37 in 29 balls with 2 sixes and a four off the Zimbabweans, in the Super-sixes, batting at no. 7. Pakistan were runners-up to Australia.    

It was much the same story in 2003 as the team was bundled out after the first stage. There was one good bowling stint against England. In his first ovcr he castled Alec Stewart, and later had Craig White caught by Younis Khan. Afridi bagged two for 36 in his 8 overs, but England pulled away and registered a huge win.

The 2007 World Cup was a sad one for Pakistan in more ways than one. In the solitary match that he played, Afridi smashed the Zimbabwean bowlers for 16 in 10 balls with a six and a four in a rollicking partnership of 33 in 3 overs with centurion Imran Nazir. As rain intervened in the Zimbabwe innings, Afridi bowled the big-hitting Elton Chigumbura, and rattled the stumps again twice in his next over. He finished with three for 20 in his 4 overs in a big win. But an upset earlier by Ireland was enough to knock Pakistan out of the tournament.

The flamboyant Afridi was in his elements with the ball in 2011. He revelled in his role as captain and confined himself to the lower middle-order. After Pakistan had piled up 317 for seven, Afridi flummoxed the Kenyan batsmen with his wily bowling. Veteran Steve Tikolo stepped out but was beaten in the flight and was bowled. Afridi then trapped Tanmay Mishra leg-before with a googly as Kenya really began to slide now. In his next over, Afridi slipped in a flipper to skipper Jimmy Kamande who was rapped on the pad plumb in front of middle-stump. Another googly, and another lbw, the experienced Thomas Odoyo sent packing for a duck in the subsequent over. Amidst all the ruin, Collins Obuya was playing a fighting, aggressive innings, having struck 3 fours and 3 sixes. With not much hope left, he lofted Afridi in the following over but holed out at long-on. At the end of this 8th over, Afridi had figures of five for 16, having delivered 3 maidens. This was the best analysis by a captain, and for Pakistan, in the World Cup. His team won by 205 runs.

There was a vital fixture against Sri Lanka next. In characteristic fashion Afridi clouted 16 off 12 balls with 3 boundaries to boost the run-rate. With Sri Lanka sailing along at 88 for one in the 18th over, Afridi’s third delivery went straight and fizzed through outside the off-stump. The in-form Tillakaratne Dilshan played on to the stumps trying to cut it. It was a crucial breakthrough. Afridi then beat Thilan Samaraweera on the forward stroke, and stumped by Kamran Akmal. Bowling his second spell, Afridi had Kumar Sangakkara caught for 49, as the captain stepped out, ending an ominous partnership with Chamara Silva. This was Afridi’s 300th wicket in One-day Internationals, and a prized scalp in a significant match. Angelo Matthews too came down the wicket to Afridi and holed out in similar fashion, as the wily bowler shortened the length of the delivery. Afridi finished his quota of 10 overs with a haul of four for 34. Sri Lanka were now 211 for six in 44 overs, requiring another 67. Nuwan Kulasekara made a spirited effort, striking 24 off 14 deliveries with 2 fours and a six, but Sri Lanka fell short by 11 runs. Deservedly, Afridi was man of this pulsating match.

Minnows Canada surprised Pakistan by skittling them for 184 in 43 overs as the ball swung around under a cloudy Colombo sky. Afridi tonked a quickfire 20 off 17 balls, and the last four wickets crashed for 3 runs. Canada lost wickets steadily. Afridi brought himself on first-change in the 11th over. The Canadian batsmen were all at sea against him, and sure enough their captain Ashish Bagai was deemed leg-before-wicket by the review system to a ball that went on straight. The sixth delivery of Afridi’s new spell was a flighted googly, which Rizwan Cheema tried to cart on the on-side and was castled off-stump. In his next over Jimmy Hansra, who had been battling valiantly, was beaten by a flipper that took his off-stump. The next delivery was a quick one that surprised and bowled Harvir Baidwan. Afridi was denied a hat-trick but in his subsequent over Tyson Gordon threw his bat at a googly, only to be taken in the outfield. Afridi returned with a haul of five for 23 in his 10 overs, wresting his second-successive man-of-the-match award, and bagging four or more wickets in three consecutive matches. The Pakistani skipper was on a high.

There was a setback at the hands of New Zealand as Ross Taylor scored a brilliant century on his birthday. Afridi took just one wicket, conceding 55 runs. Coming in at 45 for five in the 15th over, Afridi played another breezy little innings of 17 in 9 balls with 2 fours and a six. Pakistan slumped to a 110-run defeat. Zimbabwe were beaten easily in a rain-shortened game, with Afridi again securing a sole wicket, having given away 33 runs. Pakistan halted the golden unbeaten run of the Australians in the World Cup going back to 1999. They bowled out the thrice-reigning champions for 176 in 46.4 overs, with Afridi once more taking one wicket, conceding 34 runs this time.

Afridi was in his elements in the annihilation of the West Indies by 10 wickets in the quarter-final. Ramnaresh Sarwan had been trying to resurrect the innings along with old mate Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, and he slashed at one from Afridi outside off, only to be caught at point. Afridi made a shambles of the West Indies innings in his next over. Kieron Pollard attempted to cut a delivery angling in and inside-edged it into the gloves of Kamran Akmal.  His subsequent delivery was quick and trapped Devon Thomas leg-before. He finally knocked back Ravi Rampaul’s leg-stump to bowl out the West Indies for 112 in 43.3 overs. This time Afridi walked back with four wickets for 30 in 9.3 overs. The Pakistani openers knocked up the runs in less than 21 overs.

This set up the most electrifying match of the tournament, a semifinal opposite India at Mohali. It was not a battle for the faint hearted. After a belligerent Sehwag, it was a resilient, if lucky, Tendulkar who held centre-stage. Pakistan did not help matters by committing several blunders in the field. Finally, Afridi himself held a catch offered by Tendulkar after the maestro had scored 85. Afridi, though, was wicketless, having expended 45 runs. India’s total of 260 on a wicket of variable bounce in a high-pressure match was a bit too much. India ran away winners by 29 runs, Pakistan still unable to beat them in five encounters in the World Cup.

It was, nevertheless, a superb display of leg-spin bowling by Afridi. His 21 wickets came at a brilliant average of 12.85 and an economy rate of 3.62. He is the only bowler in the World Cup to capture four wickets or more in three consecutive matches, and four in the same tournament. In fact no one has even three four-wicket hauls in the same World Cup. His four four-wicket hauls are level with the giants of spin, Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan in all World Cup tournaments. One wonders why the other side of Shahid Afridi was in the shadows for so long. 

(From the Hall of Fame section of Indra Vikram Singh’s new book ‘Indian Spring’. The author can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).

Indian Spring

ISBN 978-81-901668-7-4

Available shortly in leading bookshops, and online on several websites.

Distributors in India: Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Phones + 91 11 23417175, 23412567.