The Rise of Virat Kohli

Cricket has more than a billion fans in India. Right from the childhood we play cricket and enjoy batting the most. Almost everyone loves batsmen and show interest towards them. Sunil Gavaskar, Azharuddin, Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman and the great Sachin Tendulkar have been the best batsmen for India. They have been in our cricket conscience and will continue to do so. Virat Kohli has added a new dimension to that consciousness, he has used his high-levels of fitness to bolster his temperament, talent, and performance and in the process, has changed the way cricket is played in India or in the sub-continent for that matter. He is the perfect batsman with his classic technique and his remarkable fitness which wasn’t stressed upon the players in the previous era. His dedication is on a whole other level. When he first came in, everyone didn’t appreciate him. They called him arrogant and too aggressive. His failure in England was continuously stressed upon. If he scored runs in India then people used to say he cannot score against the swinging ball. This tour shut everyone up. In the first test he scored 200 runs. The third test he again scored 200 runs. People were calling him “Anderson’s Bunny” and yet Anderson hasn’t got him out this series. The failure had taught him many lessons. In the Australian tour he was first handed the test captaincy. From then on there was no looking back for Virat Kohli. He was unstoppable in that 4 match series. For 3 consecutive years he scored more than 1000 runs in ODIs and test matches. He scored 6 double hundreds in two years. Under his captaincy India is number one in tests for 2 years now. He was booed when he first came out to bat at Edgbaston but the English crowd appreciated Kohli’s knocks with a standing ovation. He is that kind of a player who leaves an impact on the field and on you.

People are starting to compare him with Sachin Tendulkar. I think it’s too early for that. Kohli is just 29 and he himself doesn’t like being compared to a man who inspired him to play cricket. Kohli is different than Tendulkar. He is more aggressive and fit than Tendulkar. The amount of cricket that is being played today is more than the previous years. Cricketers are increasingly complaining about tight schedules and excessive workload, which is taking a toll on their desire to performance consistently, but not quite for Virat Kohli: he plays all the three formats for India and does it with equal passion. In addition to that captains and plays IPL for 2 hot summer months. His record of 973 runs in a single IPL season consisted 4 hundreds. One century was scored by him even though he had 7 stitches on his hand. To step on to the field, each and every time with an equal amount of intensity and hunger to perform is what makes Virat Kohli a cut above the rest.

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FIXING IN IPL

Imagine sitting in your bedroom with a group of friends and enjoying an intense encounter between two IPL teams. This could be the best possible way to spend an evening for cricket fans. But just as you are getting in the groove and enjoying the fierce battle on the field, one of your friends enters the room and asks you ‘What’s the score’. And you say X team requires 12 runs of the last over. The friend says, ‘Aah… another last over match huh? I wonder how does it happen every time. It’s all FIXED!’

That unspeakable word is enough to ruin your wonderful evening. The joy of witnessing your team snatch victory from the jaws of defeat holds very less importance, when people around you keep telling that the match was fixed.

Right from the start till the end of IPL, the Indian audience have been criticising it for being more about money and showbiz than cricket. There has been a lot of negativity surrounding the IPL, with people claiming that it’s fixed. I think no one should comment on a topic which is as sensitive as fixing, without having adequate information, or any concrete proof to support their statement. I am not saying that there have been no cases of fixing in cricket (and in the IPL), but why suspect each and every action made by a player. If a catch is dropped then the match is fixed. If a full toss is bowled then the match is fixed. If a star player gets out easily then the match is fixed. Grow up people, even the cricketers are human. They are bound to make mistakes at some point, or the other.

People need to understand that pressure plays a huge role in crunch situations. Some handle it well, some don’t. So if in the final over of a match if a player drops a sitter, it does not mean that the match is fixed, it means that pressure got the better off him. We all need to accept the fact that in an IPL season running over two months with close to 70 odd matches, at least 15-20 are going to go down the wire, and it is not because the match is fixed it is because of the nature of the T20 game. Wasn’t shortening the game time, and getting interesting finishes the purpose of T20 in the first place?

It is high time that the Indian audience change their mindset, and start believing that the IPL is a fair and performance based tournament. There have been a few cases of fixing here and there, but that should not compel us to suspect every match that is played. It is like once you are cheated by your lover, you always keep cursing love and stop believing in it. You hesitate to fall in love again.
So don’t be let down by a few instances of fixing, stay positive and don’t let your love for the game die away. We need to learn a lot from the English fans. The entire BPL season has numerous matches with injury time goals, but none of the matches are labelled “Fixed”. They do not keep whining about close finishes, instead they enjoy the thrill and watch the games with passion.

Fixing has defamed cricketers as well as the game, but we should not be disheartened by a few stray incidents. Many precautions and strict measures have been taken by the ICC in order to prevent fixing. Moreover there is not much that we can do sitting at home. The best we can do is enjoy the game, and stop looking at the negative side of everything. Think positive and watch the game with passion. If you really love the game and watch every match from the start till the end you will know that the matches aren’t fixed. You can see the emotions of the players. The emotions are real. They cry, they laugh and they fight just because they love the game and they respect it.

People who played cricket and who still play cricket would know how pressure works. Even if the match is a friendly, you would want to win it. If you have to score 7 runs in the last over against the best bowler of the opposition then you will be under pressure. If you failed to score the runs then that doesn’t mean the match was fixed. It is just that the bowler was calm and bowled in the right areas and was better than you.
You accept the fact and move on.

This is just the way I see things, I am sure many of you won’t agree with me but just give it a thought.

CRICKET-A gentleman’s game?

March 2018 was full of action packed cricket. The Nidahas Trophy was full of controversies. The Naagin dance, the dressing room which was destroyed and Shakib Al Hasan almost calling off his players, everything was a disaster for the Sri Lankan cricket association. The recent ball tampering issue which involved two of the greatest Australian batsmen was a shock to the whole cricketing world. After they were caught on camera Smith and Bancroft confessed that they tried to tamper the ball to gain advantage. They were already in a bad position. Markram and Ab de Villiers were batting without having any problems. Why cheat? They could have just bowled with more confidence and should have done some more hardwork to get them out. Losing 1 match wouldn’t have made such a difference than cheating and still ending up losing. Smith and Warner were handed a year ban by the Australian cricket board. They got what they deserved. Smith shed tears while apologising to the Australian fans and those who looked upto him as an idol. He failed many budding cricketers as he lost the respect. Whenever you are playing a game you must respect the opponent and the spirit of the game. Many newspapers posted pictures of Smith and the caption of the photo was “CHEAT”. He was escorted to the airport by 8 or 9 policemen and everyone else at the airport were shouting “cheats”.

To all the upcoming cricketers or sportsmen, do not disrespect your opponent and the game. If you have the talent and the potential, use all of it and try to win. Do not go off limits to win. There is nothing wrong in losing. Accept the loss, learn from it and move on. Perform your best in the next game. Great players like Hashim Amla, Ab de Villiers, MS Dhoni, Rahul Dravid etc do not disrespect the game or the opponent. They have very less haters. You just can’t hate them. They stay calm under pressure and even if they are on the losing side, they accept it and move on. Cricket is a beautiful game. Many legends of the game have inspired people. Sometimes your emotions take control of yourself and you lose your mind. Not everyone can control their emotions. Try to control them as far as possible even in daily life. It might save a fight with a close friend or a family member. The main thing which you can learn from these legends is to control yourself no matter what. If these things continue to happen then the haters of the game will increase and the game will no longer be a gentleman’s game.

India Tour of South Africa

The first session of the test match was a shared session between the two teams. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was outstanding with the ball. He took 3 wickets in his first three overs. The top order was decimated by him. He set all 3 of them by bowling out swingers and getting one back into the right hander and leaving the left hander which got Dean Elgar out. It is beautiful to watch him bowl. Shami on the other was not that impressive as he constantly missed his line and length. Jasprit Bumrah played his first test match and was impressive. He was swinging the ball both ways and had some late movement.

AB de Villiers showed his class with the bat scoring a quick half century and building up a partnership with Faf du Plessis. The two best batsmen of the team helped in stabilizing their innings. Ab de Villiers counter attacked Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s outstanding bowling by scoring 4 boundaries in his over. From that over the momentum shifted towards South Africa and the pressure was released. Both the teams proved why they are number 1 and 2 on the rankings.

The HITMAN SHOW

RO-HITMAN SHARMA demolished the Lankan attack. He took his time to settle and once he shifted gears he went into overdrive mode and scored a magnificent double hundred for the 3rd time in ODIs. This was his 2nd double hundred against the Sri Lanka. He reached his 100 in 112 balls and the next hundred came in 36 balls. The Lankans were constantly failing in their lengths as they were trying to bowl yorkers and missed them which resulted in full tosses. He smashed 12 sixes after reaching his ton.

India had a steady start with Shikhar Dhawan scoring a quick 50 and fell shortly after scoring his half century. Shreyas Iyer showed great character and supported Rohit Sharma and stitched a double hundred partnership with the Indian Captain. Shreyas scored his maiden ODI fifty in fifty balls in his 2nd ODI. He missed out on his 1st ever century by 12 runs. He didn’t bat selfish at all. He could have got to his century easily but he went for the shots. He is a promising cricketer.

Sri Lanka lost their confidence as they came out to bat. They didn’t look threatening at all. Angelo Matthews stood tall of all and scored his century. He played patiently and the Indians couldn’t get him out.

The 3rd ODI and decider of this series is scheduled on Sunday 17th Dec at Vishakhapatnam. Both the teams will be hoping to win the series especially Sri Lanka as they are constantly losing every series. India will look to win and go to South Africa with some momentum. Rohit Sharma will be looking to win his first series as captain as well as with a young team.

Lankan Domination

Sri Lanka defeated India in the 1st ODI. India were reduced to 29-7 in 20 overs. Suranga Lakmal bowled a spell of 10 overs which was a dream spell. In his 10 overs he bowled 4 maidens gave 13 runs and picked up 4 wickets. He was also the player of the match. Sri Lanka broke their streak of losing 12 ODI matches in a row. Only 3 Indian players reached the two digit mark. MS Dhoni was once again the lone ranger scoring 65 runs in 87 balls.

The Sri Lankans chased down the target of 113 with 7 wickets in hand. Upul Tharanga was the top scorer falling one short of a half century. Tharanga was given a life by Jasprit Bumrah as he bowled a no ball when he was out caught in slips. Angelo Mathews played with patience and scored the winning runs for the team.

This was a wake-up call for the Indian team. They must not take any opposition for granted. The young team must bounce back in the second ODI in Mohali to keep the series alive. India now cannot go past South Africa to claim the No.1 spot in ODIs. They must defeat South Africa by a fair margin to gain the top spot. The hosts will look forward to win the next match and the Lankans will go ahead with some momentum in their favour.

Sri Lanka Tour of India. 1st ODI

The 1st ODI between India and Sri Lanka starts today. India will be looking forward to win this series 3-0 to claim the No.1 ODI spot. Sri Lanka on the other hand are playing for gaining some respect. Both the teams are playing with new captains. Thisara Perera who captained Sri Lanka earlier against Pakistan in the T20 series. India are playing with the stand in captain Rohit Sharma as Virat Kohli is rested.

The match is held at Dharamshala,one of the most beautiful grounds in India. The pitch looks good. There is no dew at all. India will look to bat first and post a good total on board. There are youngsters in both the teams. Preparations for the 2019 world cup are beginning.