Dec 132017
 

Rohit Sharma hit his third double hundred in one-day international cricket after smashing 208 not out from 153 balls against Sri Lanka in Mohali. The 30-year-old's knock, which featured 13 sixes and 12 fours followed his world record 264 against the same opposition in Kolkata in 2014 and his 209 …

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Apr 182014
 
A battle of the big-hitters

Match facts

Bangalore v Mumbai, Dubai, April 19, 2014
Start time 1430 (1030 GMT, 1600 IST)

Varun Aaron celebrates Manoj Tiwary's wicket, Bangalore v Delhi, Indian T20 League, Sharjah, April 17, 2014

Varun Aaron has no intention of cutting down on his pace © BCCI
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As two of the most glamorous sides in the Indian T20 league, the focus of the match between Mumbai and Bangalore will invariably be on the middle-order axis in both sides – Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and Corey Anderson, and Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.

Mumbai, though, have a unique problem on their hands of deciding where they want their big batsmen to bat. Michael Hussey’s innings could be an aberration, but there will be some debate on whether Pollard’s position in the batting order needs to be more flexible, especially in a tall chase. If they do that, it will leave Corey Anderson as a buffer between the batting and the tail. The manner in which the top-order struggled to get the innings moving along after Hussey’s scratchy innings would leave Bangalore’s pacers believing they can choke the side.

There are kinks for Bangalore, too. Ashok Dinda’s T20 league has started from where it ended last year and as impressive as the bowling was in restricting Delhi to a below-par score, their profligacy with wides was a glaring problem. Chris Gayle’s availability is also in doubt.

The match will also be the first of the tournament to be held in Dubai. The last T20 match at the ground saw Sri Lanka smash 211 and Pakistan responded with 187. Given the firepower in both line-ups, even without the prospect of Gayle, the Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer.

Players to watch

One of the things Varun Aaron is certain of is that he is unlikely to cut down on his pace anytime soon to prevent injuries. His statement to that effect came after the match against Delhi where he finished with 1 for 9 and troubled the batsmen with sharp speed. His pace, and more importantly, a more disciplined line, will help Bangalore rein in Mumbai’s flamboyant top-order.

Just when he looked like he was settling at the crease, Rohit Sharma tried to clear the boundary and was out caught in the deep. At the start of the over in which he was out, Mumbai needed 69 off 30 and his presence at the crease would no doubt have helped the chase along. He quickly needs to find his feet in a role not unlike the one Virat Kohli essayed for Bangalore in their first game

Stats and trivia

  • Mumbai have had the better of Bangalore in seven times in 13 encounters.
  • Ambati Rayudu is the leading run-getter for Mumbai against Bangalore. In 11 games he has 298 runs with two fifties. Chris Gayle has 292 runs against Mumbai in six games at an average of 73 and a strike rate of 143.13.

Apr 132014
 
IPL 2014: Top 30 most dangerous and destructive batsmen!

A quick look at batting firepower across the eight squads, men could single handedly take the game away from opposition

There is seldom anything slow or articulate about the cricket in IPL, or T20 in general. Sure, there is room for Ajinkya Rahane or Mahela Jayawardene’s pure strokeplay, or an occasional display of high class spin by the likes of Amit Mishra or Sunil Narine. But generally, it is all about full throttle slam-bang shot-making and in-your-face bowling. Yet, as we have seen over the last six seasons – when the pressure is on, wild sloggers fall away like boys and men with strength of body and mind rise. 

Armed with a piece of willow (which is almost entirely a ‘sweet spot’), favored by shorter boundaries and flat decks, and gifted with terrific hand-eye coordination, raw strength or simply immense self-belief – here are the 30 men who could turn ‘powerful’ into ‘overpowering’!

  1. Sunrisers HyderabadAaron Finch, David Warner, Daren Sammy – The team from Hyderabad impressed with their debut run last season, finishing in the top four. Their strategy yet again would rely on their impressive bowling attack (Steyn, Bhuvneshwar, Ishant, Amit Mishra, Karn Sharma) to restrict opposition within 120-140 ish. But their batting has decidedly more oomph this season with an all-Australian powerhouse at top. Finch and Warner can give the ball a serious battering. They also have the dangerous Darren Sammy lurking lower down the order, who can finish a match in a flurry of big hits. All this, with the confident Shikhar Dhawan also in the mix, promises a much better balance in the squad.
  2. Chennai Super Kings – M S Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum – Never mind their off-field issues, CSK still boast of a terrific record and an imposing batting roster. Raina, one of the most prolific IPL batsmen, combines an average of 35 with strike-rate of 141+ over nearly hundred IPL matches. If anything, Dhoni‘s finishing goes one better, with similar strike-rate and an even higher average (38). Dwayne Smith can burn a few trails of his own at the top, Mumbai Indian followers would know. Then there’s McCullum, the first IPL centurion and a dangerous man on his own. Add to it, the flair of Dwayne Bravo and spark of Faf duPlessis, opposition bowlers would know they are up against it.
  3. Delhi Daredevils – Kevin Pietersen, Dinesh Karthick, Quinton de Kock – Following a disastrous season, Delhi Daredevils have let go of some of their big name hitters in favor of a new squad. KP, free from international cricket commitments, is back in Delhi colors as the biggest threat for bowlers. 42+ average, 141+ S/R, and a big match player, Delhi would look to him as the leader of the pack. Dinesh Karthick stole the thunder from right under the nose of MI’s box office pair of Ponting and Tendulkar last season. Flavor of the season, de Kock adds serious spunk to the mix. Ross Taylor, Parnell and Duminy – each capable of some meaty blows, might play depending on four overseas players cap. They also have Saurabh Tiwary and Kedar Jadhav, two men known for big hits in the Indian domestic circuit. 
  4. Kings XI Punjab Glenn Maxwell, Virender Sehwag, David Miller, Thisira Perera – Surprise, surprise! For years, the ‘also rans’ in IPL sprang to life in the auction this season with some bargain buys and some of the smartest purchases. The result: a squad packed with enough batting firepower to boost their chances. Sehwag has the highest strike rate (160.32) in IPL history. David ‘in the arc, out of the park’ Miller is already part of IPL folklore. And Thisira Perera‘s big hits down the order need no introduction. Punjab however splurged on Glenn Maxwell, making him an IPL millionaire for the second consecutive season, and with reason. Maxwell’s 74(33) vs Pakistan, which included an 18-ball half century, and 45(22) vs West Indies in World T20 this year certainly is a good indicator of his striking prowess. The surprise weapon could be George Bailey, who has topped ODI run charts for much of last season. Serious quality, this!
  5. Kolkata Knight Riders Yusuf Pathan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Andre Russell – Kolkata relied on picking the horses for courses – spinners and medium pacers specializing in taking the pace off the ball, to score their IPL title in 2012. It also meant they had very few explosive batsmen in the squad. That plan  might backfire this season with a bunch of the matches being held in the flatter decks of UAE. Yusuf Pathan is a match-winner on his day, but his days have dwindled alarmingly since he left Rajasthan Royals. ten Doeschate rarely gets few matches on trot as Kolkata try to accommodate two other foreigners after Kallis and Narine. With McCullum gone, that might change. Russell is explosive with the bat, but also expensive with the ball. It remains to be seen if Bisla, Gambhir, Shakib or Manish Pandey can step up.
  6. Mumbai Indians Michael Hussey, Keiron Pollard, Rohit Sharma, Corey Anderson –  Defending champions Mumbai have retained two of their best bats, and bought two others who can prove to be solid backups. Pollard and Rohit Sharma are fearsome opponents, both adept at smashing spin and pace. While Pollard does it with raw power, Sharma relies on gifts of timing – but the result is usually the same: the ball in the second tier beyond the ropes. Nobody quite combines the worlds of cool accumulation, classy strokeplay and percentage hits like Mr.Cricket. Hussey‘s consistency could be the perfect antidote for Mumbai’s big ticket purchase Corey Anderson. The Kiwi shot to fame following his record-breaking ODI ton to eclipse Afridi’s long standing record. Remains to be seen if he can reproduce the form in IPL.
  7. Rajasthan Royals – Brad Hodge, Shane Watson, James Faulkner, Stuart Binny –  One of the two squads (SRH being another) who rely heavily on domestic talent to punch above their weight, the Royals yet again bought a promising line-up of international players who could be the difference. In Stuart Binny, Dishant Yagnik and Abhishek Nayar – they have Indian players who can hit it hard and fast, complementing the relatively risk-free strokeplay of Ajinkya Rahane and Unmukt Chand. Watson at top and Hodge as a finisher give them high quality power hitting options to set or challenge any total. What truly lends flexibility to this Royals line-up, are the options of international class all-rounders in Faulkner and Steven Smith, both capable of hitting it long, and adding handsome value with the ball. Now all they need to worry about, is the combination of four foreigners in playing eleven.
  8. Royal Challengers Bangalore – Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB DeVilliers, Albie Morkel, Yuvraj Singh –  The squad to make opposition bowlers quake in their boots! RCB splurged generously on acquiring Albie Morkel and Yuvraj Singh, both capable of fearsome assault on bowlers. Yuvraj’s recent form notwithstanding, there wouldn’t be too many bowlers fancying facing the man with the fastest T20I half-century and one of the highest international T20 strike-rates. To think that they are only additional gloss, on a line-up which is led by Kohli, perhaps the most consistent run-scorer across all forms of cricket right now and deVilliers, whose unconventional brilliance is capable of tearing even Dale Steyn to shreds. And then there is Gayle – most IPL tons, fastest IPL innings, 2nd highest S/R (160.2), highest average (52.33), 3rd on career run tally (including two of the top three IPL high scores) and gangnam! Enough said.

Let the fireworks begin! 

Image Credit: Fox Australia, Royal Challengers Bangalore

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