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    Aaya India

    Saturday, September 30, 2006
    A few movie stars from the Mumbai Tinseltown and a few Indian cricketers feature in this music video, meant to promote the ICC Championship Trophy. It does celebrate the greatness of India, but I couldnt really see where the ICC Trophy fits in.

    The song is composed by Vishal Shekar with Sukhwinder Singh pitching in with the vocals. The stars featured in the song include Shah Rukh Khan, John Abraham, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Harbhajan Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Irfan Pathan (with a clean shaven head).

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    Harsha Bhogle's World Cup 18

    Friday, September 29, 2006
    Courtesy: Express India
    Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Mongia, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Ramesh Powar, Anil Kumble, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, RP Singh, Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra.

    With the World Cup just a few months away, Harsha jots down his list of players. He also analyzes the squads selected for the Challenger Series and comes to the conclusion that of all the challengers (from the three teams vying for the NKP Salve Trophy), only VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly have a realistic chance of pushing for a batting spot in the World Cup line-up.

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    Life Is Beautiful

    Thursday, September 28, 2006
    “Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”
    - Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese Monk, Activist and Writer. b.1926)

    Pix Credit: Tjokgus Kerthyasa

    It is images like these, which remind you of the little joys that you had as a kid when you first started playing the game - the first run that you made, the first boundary that you hit, the first catch that you took, the first run-out that you effected, the first wicket that you took, the first match that you won....


    Ovalgate Verdict

    Cricinfo Report

    On the charges of ball tampering, the jury (Ranjan "The ICC poster boy" Madugalle and Co.) found Mr.Inzamam-ul-Haq not guilty. On the charges of bringing the game into disrepute, the jury found Mr. Haq guilty.

    Inzamam has been banned for 4 ODI matches. He is set to miss the Champions Trophy games. If Pakistan do not name a replacement for him and they do manage to reach the finals, Inzamam would get to play the Mumbai finale on Nov 5th. He should be happy for being let off lightly.

    Hair, on the other hand finds himself out of the Champions Trophy umpiring panel. The verdict that was read out doesn't say this, but it can be indirectly inferred from the text that on the charges of over-reacting and hastily penalising the Pakistan squad for ball-tampering, the jury found Mr. Darrell Bruce Hair guilty as charged.


    Munaf's new bowling partner - Lawson or Gough?

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006
    Maharashtra Cricket Association is looking to rope in a few international stars to play for them this domestic season. The players being discussed include Jermaine Lawson, Darren Gough and Stuart MacGill. The Maharashta bowlers would probably get to learn more from Darren Gough's experience (as opposed to learning from Lawson). If MacGill does sign up, Maharashtra would get to bowl two leg-spinners in tandem (Sairaj Bahutule being the other).

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    Challenger Trophy 2006 - The missing names

    List of players who played in last year's edition and are missing out this year : Shikar Dhawan, Sridharan Sriram, Sunny Singh, Satyajit Parab, Ranadeb Bose, Amit Bhandari, Ravi Kant Shukla, Sreekumar Nair, Neeraj Patel, Dheeraj Jadhav, Shahbaz Nadeem, Manoj Tiwari, J P Yadav, Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan, Yousuf Pathan.

    Around this time last year, Jai Prakash Yadav was part of the Indian dressing room. Less than a year later, he finds himself out of the list of top 39 ODI cricketers in the nation. He is 32 and honestly, I really don't see him being able to make a comeback from here. I feel the same about Sriram too. He is 30 and he has signed up to play for Maharashtra this year, but I doubt the transfer of address from Chennai to Pune would really help his international prospects in any way.

    I feel sorry for Shikar Dhawan. I would have picked him ahead of Jaffer as the reserve opener in the Blue team. Dheeraj Jadhav was not long ago in the list of potential Indian openers and he seems to be slowly falling out of favour. Vidyut opened for the India seniors in one of the games in last year's edition and put on a big score, but I did think he was lucky to get a game then. So, I'm not surprised he is not getting any this year.

    Irfan's brother Yousuf was a last minute addition last year (because Sourav pulled out) and he would be hoping for something like that to happen again. From the family's point of view, he would just be hoping Irfan would get back to some sort of form with the ball. Given the way the likes of Munaf, Sreesanth and RP have performed in the recent months and given that Nehra and Balaji are back to full fitness, Bhandari and Bose stood absolutely no chance of featuring in any of the squads. RaviKanth, Nadeem and Tiwari are still quite young and I'm sure they will get their chances again. I wasn't too thrilled with the inclusion of Sunny Singh, Satyajit Parab, Neeraj Patel and Sreekumar Nair last year and I'm not really surprised to see their names missing this time around.

    SS Paul didn't play in the Challengers last year. But he was named in the list of 30 ICC Trophy probables last month. I wonder what made the selectors select him then and ignore him now.

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    Challenger Trophy 2006 - India Green

    Greens: Mohammad Kaif (capt), Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Hemang Badani, Suresh Raina, Tanmay Srivastav, Piyush Chawla, Parthiv Patel, Ashish Nehra, L Balaji, Praveen Kumar, Reetinder Sodhi, Saurasish Lahiri. Coach: Lalchand Rajput

    Last year's "Kingfisher India B" is this year's India Green. Mohammad Kaif has been given the opportunity to lead the most interesting of all the three squads in the tournament. The team has 6 players who have captained India at various age-levels - 16 year old Tanmaya Srivastava (led the under-19 team which won both the test and ODI series against England in England earlier this year), 17 year old Piyush Chawla (led the under-19 team which recently whitewashed the neighbors across the border in both tests and ODIs), Parthiv Patel (led the under-19 team in the junior world cup 2002), Reetinder Sodhi (led the team which won the under-15 world cup in 1996), Mohammad Kaif (led the team which won the under-19 world cup in 2000) and Sourav Ganguly (the most successful skipper in the history of Indian test cricket). Add VVS Laxman (who has led Hyderabad), Badani (who has led Tamil Nadu) and Raina (who is currently leading UP against Sialkot) to the list and you get a team full of leaders.

    Ganguly would in all likelihood open the innings and it would do his chances no harm if he manages to notch up a couple of big hundreds. It would be interesting to see who would walk into open with him. VVS Laxman could be one option, Parthiv Patel the other. Kaif has sent Praveen Kumar to open the innings for UP before, and I wouldn't be surprised if he does the same here. Tanmay has also opened at the under-19 level and he would definitely like the idea of walking onto the field with Sourav.

    Hemang Badani will be touching 30 in a couple of months and I'm sure he realizes that he is fast running out of chances to get back into the national side. If he fails to keep the selectors interested this season, this could well be his last Challenger Series. Suresh Raina was the most comfortable of all the Indian batsmen seen at the crease in Malaysia and yet he couldn't manage to get a big score. He would be looking to use these games to try and see if he can convert those cameos into meaningful knocks. At 25, the turban-less Reetinder Singh Sodhi is fast becoming a has-been. 10 years after leading the Indian under-15 team to a memorable world cup victory, he is still struggling to make it to the Indian squad. But credit to him, he still somehow manages to remain in the selectors' radar.

    For Ashish Nehra (who still thinks he is the fastest bowler in the country) and Laxmipathy Balaji, the two pacemen returning from injuries, this is a huge tournament. There have been quite a few changes in the Indian pace attack lately and these two would be rearing to do well and get back into the national side in no time. But it is not going to be easy at all given the way Munaf, Sreesanth and RP Singh have performed in the recent past. By selecting Praveen Kumar, the selectors have sent a clear signal to all the domestic players that strong domestic performances will definitely be rewarded. Praveen did well with both ball and bat for UP last season and he would want to continue that rich vein of form into the new season. Bengal off-spinner Sourashish Lahiri and the leggie Piyush Chawla (who scalped Sachin with a beauty in last year's edition) are the main spinners.

    Update 1:
    VVS Laxman is out of the tournament with a hamstring injury and with this the chances of him representing India ever in a World Cup game have been seriously dented. Rajagopal Satish, the Tamil Nadu all-rounder has been slated in as the last minute replacement. Satish's selection seems more like a logistics driven choice as he is a local kid and is readily available.

    Update 2: As per the new reports, it is not R. Satish who is being drafted in as Laxman's replacement. Delhi's Mithun Manhas who had a terrific domestic season with the bat last year is the new substitute. Mithun gets into the Blue team in place of Jaffer and Jaffer moves into the Green team in place of Laxman.

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    Challenger Trophy 2006 - India Red

    Reds: Venugopal Rao (capt), Gautham Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, S Badrinath, Rohit Sharma, Tejinder Pal Singh, Dinesh Karthik (wk), VRV Singh, Sreesanth, Ramesh Powar, Zaheer Khan, Murali Kartik, C Raghu. Coach: Robin Singh

    It was called "Alchemist India A" (the players were all following their dreams, but the name had nothing to do with Paul Coelho's book) last year. The selectors obviously see some real potential in Venugopal Rao's leadership skills, for he has been the India A captain for a while now. He lost the middle order fringe spot in the national squad to Dinesh Mongia and the fact that Mongia did well in Malaysia would be playing on his mind.

    Gambhir and Uthappa are the openers. Rao, Dinesh Karthik, Badrinath, the highly talented Rohit Sharma and the two all-rounders (Tejinder Pal Singh and Chandrasekhar Raghu) form a very solid middle-order pool to choose from. Tej Pal did really well for India A in the Top-End Series, while Raghu notched up a couple of classy hundreds in last season's Ranji ODI tournament. Badrinath has had many chances at this level and it is definitely time he makes these opportunities count. Dinesh Karthik is probably the best keeper in the country and he would probably be keen on showing his prowess with the bat, but I guess he realizes that it would require a super-human effort to displace Dhoni from the Indian team any time soon. Rohit Sharma's performances in the series would be keenly followed by the selectors, as there are serious indications that he might be the real answer to the national team's recent middle-order woes.

    Zaheer Khan is back and he would probably get to share the new-ball with Sreesanth. Sreesanth himself would be keen on proving a point or two after being snubbed for the ICC tournament. VRV Singh is the third seamer and he is a good addition to the healthy competition among the seamers within the team. Ramesh Powar and Murali Karthik are the main spinners while Tej Pal, Raghu, Rao and Gambhir can all bowl some slow stuff.

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    Challenger Trophy 2006 - India Blue

    Blues: Rahul Dravid (capt), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Mongia, Wasim Jaffer, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Munaf Patel, Rudra Pratap Singh, Ravindra Jadeja. Coach: Ian Frazer

    Last year, the team was called the "Airtel India Seniors". Dravid and Sehwag were away playing the farcical Super Series in Australia. Ganguly was supposed to captain, but he pulled out at the last minute and Kaif did the honours.

    The seniors are playing a near-to-full strength squad this year. Sachin is expected to miss the first game and Wasim Jaffer has been selected to be the reserve opener for that game. Jaffer is a really good test opener and can play strokes all round the wicket, but he is not the best of movers in the outfield (and also between the wickets). Greg Chappell has this notion that a good international cricket team is one which has very little difference between its test and ODI squads and that is probably the only reason why Jaffer finds his name in this team. I would have picked someone like Shikar Dhawan instead. It would also be interesting to see if Dravid would open the innings.

    Saurashtra's Ravindra Jadeja (no connection with Ajay), the promising under-19 left-arm spinner has been named as the second spinner and it would be a great experience for the lad (he isn't 18 yet) to share the dressing room with the seniors.

    For Irfan Pathan, the bowler (he doesn't need to bat at No.3 even in this tournament, does he?), this is a good opportunity to get some of that lost confidence back. He wasn't in the team's preferred top 5 bowlers in Malaysia and for someone who had a great season last year with the ball, that is bound to hurt. It wouldn't also hurt if both Viru and Yuvi manage to get a few half-centuries between them before the ICC knock-out tournament.

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    Umpires in the act

    Friday, September 22, 2006
    It was quite an eventful day (DLF Cup - Ind Vs Aus, Game 6) for the umpires today at the Kinrara Oval. There were some very good decisions (and reversions) and also some really ordinary mistakes on display. Here is a brief analysis of all those action sequences.

    Scene 1: Australia 99/5, second ball of the 26th over
    Action: Hussey turns an innocuous Harbhajan delivery to the vacant area on the leg side. Batsmen complete the first run and then attempt a suicidal second. Haddin is well short of the crease when Bhajji whips the bails off. Umpire Benson rules the batsman OUT and Haddin starts walking to the pavilion. But some secondary instinct tells Benson to refer the decision to the third umpire and the replays suggest that Harbhajan might not have whipped the bails cleanly with the ball in hand. Haddin gets a call back and he ends up making the Indians pay dearly.
    Comments: In the context of the match, this was a big moment. If not for Haddin's knock and his partnership with Hogg, Australia would have struggled to reach 170-180. But what Benson did was absolutely the right thing to do. Umpires should not hesitate to doubt their own decisions.

    Scene 2: India 6/0, second ball of the second over
    Action: McGrath bangs one short, Tendulkar goes for the pull, ball hits the batsman's shoulder on its way to the Keeper's gloves. The Keeper and the slip-fielders appeal while the bowler throws in a half-hearted plea. Benson raises his finger. Tendulkar puts on a stunned look and starts walking. Benson consults Asad and then in to everyone's surprise, reverts his decision and calls Sachin back. Ricky Ponting starts losing it and tells the umpire that it is a huge disgrace.
    Comments: It isn't always that Umpires reverse their decisions. But to do it twice in the same match requires a fair bit of courage and a great deal of character. Mark Benson should be commended again for what he did. He looked a bit silly in the end, but what really matters is that he got the decision right. Having said that, he should probably learn to take his time to analyze the appeal first and then raise his finger, instead of first raising the finger and then analyzing the appeal. It would be interesting to see what sort of action is taken on Ponting. He has already gotten into trouble twice this year arguing with the umpires. His next offence guarantees a ban. Luckily for Australia, Tendulkar did not last long, he fell in the very next over.

    Scene 3: India 147/5, last ball of the 34th over
    Action: Mongia tries to sweep a Hogg delivery, ball gets wrapped on the pads and trickles down to the leg side. Mongia goes off balance and finds himself out of the crease for a few brief moments. The Keeper, Haddin is quick to notice the little window of oppurtunity, picks up the ball and flicks it onto the stumps. The third umpire comes into play. The replays suggest that Mongia was clearly home. But the third umpire presses the RED button, says oops and presses the correct button again, causing a few gasps all around the ground.
    Comments: Now how hard is it to press a button?

    Scene 4: India 158/5, second ball of the 37th over
    Action: Brett Lee over-steps by a huge margin, umpire (Asad Rauf) forgets to pay attention to the bowler's crease. Dhoni smacks it spectacularly with both feet off the ground straight down the throat of Damien Martyn, the lone fielder manning the deep extra cover boundary.
    Comments: It costed India the game (and the tournament). This is not the first time that an umpire has failed to notice the over-stepping and this will not be the last. A simple solution is to make the third umpire act as a line-umpire for every delivery that is bowled. If he notices that the bowler has over-stepped and the on-field umpire has not called a no-ball, he should immediately ask the on-field umpire to signal it as a no-ball.

    Scene 5: India 186/7, second ball of the 41st over
    Action: Symonds bowls a fastish ball outside off, Harbhajan Singh tries to push it for a single but misses the ball completely. All the fielders around the bat go up in a vociferous appeal and to Bhajji's dismay the umpire's finger also goes up.
    Comments: Harbhajan batted really well in the previous game and the chances of him guiding India home were looking really good until this unfortunate thing happened. This is another example of what a convincing vociferous appeal can do to a decent umpire like Asad Rauf, who is currently in the running for the ICC Umpire of the Year Award.

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    English 5/100; Maths 8/100; Cricket 100/100

    Thursday, September 21, 2006
    Kid: "Ma, I scored 100 in cricket today"
    Mom: "Great, You could be like Ponting one day. Who were you playing against?"
    Kid: "Playing.. No ma.. I scored 100 out of 100 in the cricket exam"
    Mom: "Oh great.. You could be like that cricket blogger at Willow and Leather one day"

    Amused? Read this.

    Courtesy: The Australian
    Cricket Australia unveiled yesterday a cricket-based educational package that has been offered to every school in the country and aims to improve children's geographical, mathematical, language and history skills. At the same time, it aims to promote the game.

    Test player Michael Hussey is a qualified teacher, but is an exception in a game where many players can boast they have "written" more books than they have read and where one player told his coach, "I don't do books".

    However, almost every player needs to be keenly aware of the mathematical complexities of run rates and averages, the geographical conundrums posed by international competition and the cutting-edge geometry behind setting a field.

    I don't know about the cutting-edge geometry behind setting fields, but I do have a feeling that the most difficult part of the course would be something to do with calculating simulated scores using the Duckworth-Lewis method. I also do have a feeling that I would do really well in that subject. Makes me wonder what the scoring pattern would be like - 6 marks for an exceptional answer, 4 marks for a good answer, single for each objective-type question.

    Kid: "But Ma, that blog exists because that blogger wasn't good at anything else"
    Mom: "Exactly!"


    Sourav and the Challengers

    Sourav Ganguly might no longer be a name to reckon with for the national selectors, but he is still very much a prominent name for the Indian sports media. Not a single day passes by without a new article concerning him making it to the sports section. In the latest one that is doing the rounds (no, not the one where Sania Mirza goes ga-ga over Sourav's presence at the Sunfeast Open) he mentions how keen he is to play in the Challenger Series.

    He was recently named in the list of top 30 cricketers in the country, so I do expect him to play in the tournament. He skipped the Challenger Series that was played around the same time last year, because of a mild tennis elbow symptom. His unavailability for the tournament then made it easy for the selectors to name Dravid as the new skipper. His mere availability for this year's tourney wouldn't really suffice influencing the selectors in any fashion. His real challenge would be to put in some really strong performances at the domestic level and impress the new "Kiran More less" selection committee.

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    "Need to get verbal"

    Sunday, September 17, 2006
    Courtesy: NewKerala/PTI
    MS Dhoni - "I'm not verbal when behind the stumps. My team-mates tell me that I should be a bit more verbal. I do talk but generally, I focus on doing my job."

    Guess, a few lessons from Sangakkara would be of some help in that department.

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    75 and counting...

    Thursday, September 14, 2006
    Chanderpaul mentioned yesterday that we all knew what Sachin can do. But he wouldn't really have expected Sachin to do it so well today. In what was a very neatly paced innings, Sachin ended up with 141 off 148 deliveries. After being dropped on 5 behind the wicket, Sachin toyed with the largely innocuous Carribbean bowling, hammering 13 4s and 5 6s in the process. This was his 40th ODI hundred and the 75th time that he has crossed the three figure mark.

    The most pleasing aspect of the innings was the ease with which he cleared the short boundaries for sixers. That is something which he hasn't been doing for a while now and I'm sure sure even the sharpest of his critics (Sanjay Manjrekar) would have thoroughly enjoyed it .

    Sachin gave a perfect demonstration of what the team really wants him to do these days. Play aggressively during the initial power-plays, rotate the strike in the middle overs and improvise in the later stages - but more importantly, bat through the innings (atleast for 3/4ths of the innings, if not the full 50 overs). From now on till the world cup, Sachin is probably going to be the only one with a fixed position and a fixed role in the Indian batting order.

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    Birthday Stitches...

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006
    Courtesy: BBC
    Shane Warne had to go to hospital for stitches to his forehead after being hit by a bouncer in the Pro40 match at the Rose Bowl against Worcestershire.

    Warne, batting at three for Hampshire, had reached 13 off seven balls when he top-edged an attempted pull between his visor and the grille of his helmet.

    He later re-appeared with a swollen right eye but added just one run to his score before edging Zaheer Khan behind.

    Birthday boy Warne turned 37 today. A swollen eye is probably not the ideal gift that he was hoping for.

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    ASHES '06 - The English Squad

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006
    • Andrew ("I deserved to be the captain") Strauss
    • Marcus ("Will I last till the first test?") Trescothick
    • Alastair ("I'll open.. Don't think Marcus will last long") Cook

    • Kevin ("I own the Ashes") Pietersen
    • Ian ("Forget the last time.. I'm a changed man now") Bell
    • Paul ("Hope Marcus will not last long.. else my place in jeopardy") Collingwood

    • Andrew ("I just want to get drunk and ride on top of a bus again") Flintoff

    Wicket Keepers:
    • Chris ("I swear I'll not duck at a slow yorker") Read
    • Geraint ("Hope Read 'll duck at a slow yorker") Jones

    • Steve ("I can relate to Marcus, hope he will last long enough") Harmison
    • Matthew ("I second my captain, Just wana get drunk") Hoggard
    • Saj ("I've earned my spot.. Don't you all agree?") Mahmood
    • James ("Dunno about Marcus, But would I be fit enough for the first test?") Anderson
    • Liam ("Am I just plain lucky to be in the squad? or is Saj the lucky one?") Plunkett

    • Monty ("I'm the main spinner in the squad") Panesar
    • Ashley ("Monty, easy man.. I'm the real deal") Giles
    Off the 14 who spent time in the Ashes dressing room last year, three (skipper Vaughan, Jones and Tremlett) are out. 5 new names (Cook, Saj, Read, Monty and Plunkett) have been added to the remaining 11.

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    Pidgeon's return

    First Over
    0.1 To Gayle - Beats him outside off
    0.2 To Gayle - Wide down the leg side. McGrath seem just a li'l bit rusty
    0.2 To Gayle - Wide again, McGrath not yet in his elements
    0.2 To Gayle - Outside off - batsman lets it go
    0.3 To Gayle - Taps to leg, takes a quick single
    0.4 To Chanderpaul - Beats him, edge off the thigh is acrobatically taken by the Keeper. Huge appeal turned down - good decision by the umpire
    0.5 To Chanderpaul - Wide outside leg
    0.5 To Chanderpaul - Wide again, that is a good line for a right-handed batsman
    0.5 To Chanderpaul - Well left outside off
    0.6 To Chanderpaul - Well left outside off again..

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    ICC Awards 2006: Umpire of the Year - Nominees

    Monday, September 11, 2006
    3 nominations - Simon Taufel, Aleem Dar and Rudi Koertzen.

    It has to be between Taufel and Dar. I would pick Taufel. It would have been interesting if Hair's name was in the list - there would have been some additional pressure on the Oval-incident hearing committee.

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    ICC Awards 2006: Women's Cricketer of the Year - Initial list of Nominees

    Sunday, September 10, 2006
    Female cricketers don't get to play as many games as the men. So it isn't always easy to figure out the most consistent of them all. Strictly from a numbers point of view, Karen Rolton might win the award. I would pick Anjum Chopra for her splendid ODI performances this year.

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    ICC Awards 2006: Captain of the Year - Initial list of Nominees

    If not for the Ashes, Vaughan's name would have been miles away from the list below. Rahul Dravid had a good first year as a captain. Same with Mahela. But you see, if you are not the captain of the Australian cricket team, come awards night, there is no way your name is going to get announced as the winner in this category. This has Ricky's name written all over it.

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    ICC Awards 2006: Player of the Year - Initial list of Nominees

    Ricky Ponting scored 2700+ international runs while Muralitharan picked up more than 150 international wickets. The winner has to be one of those two. I would pick Ricky.

    How many of you want to pick Monty?

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    ICC Awards 2006: Emerging Player of the Year - Initial list of Nominees

    I do find the criteria for choosing the nominations in this category a bit funny. Malinga Bandara made his test debut way back in 1998. To his credit, he didn't really give up and seens to have finally EMERGED after 8 years.

    Mohammed Asif got to play just 4 tests, but those matches were enough to show his potential. He would be my pick. Monty Panesar is probably the crowd favourite, but I have a feeling that the award might go to Ian Bell.

    Would you pick Bell?

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    ICC Awards 2006: ODI Player of the Year - Initial list of Nominees

    Mahendra Singh Dhoni's name is a glaring ommission from the list below. He scored 1170 runs at an average of 55.71 and also accounted for 40 dismissals as a keeper during this period. Those figures are much better than that of his Australian counterpart, who somehow managed to make it to the list.

    With 58 wickets at just about 22 apiece, Irfan Pathan was the best bowler of the year (It is a pity that he is not the first-choice bowler in the current Indian lineup). Given the number of matches that Sri Lanka got to play, it isn't surprising to see Sangakkara head the batting aggregates column. My ODI player of the year would be Yuvraj Singh for just the sheer number of individual match-winning innings that he played this year.

    Who would be your pick?

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    ICC Awards 2006: Test Player of the Year - Initial list of Nominees

    It is incredible to note that Warne and Murali accounted for more than 200 test wickets between them. As usual there were some really outstanding batting performances - Ponting gets the honours for the highest aggregate while Yousuf leads the pack in the batting averages column.

    My pick would be Ricky Ponting for those nine (yeah, 9 in a year) classy centuries of his. Take your pick.

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    The infamous Chris Read duck

    Saturday, September 09, 2006
    It is unfortunate that no matter what Chris Read has done so far and no matter what he would do for the rest of his career, most cricket fans would always remember him for this (happened in his second test).

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    CSI: Oval

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006
    The controversial ball that was used on the fourth day of the Oval test is likely to be tested by the forensic experts. Wonder if the ball would be sent to the coroner's table..


    RP Singh preferred over Sreesanth

    Monday, September 04, 2006
    The Indian teams for the Malaysian tri-series (15 man squad) and the Champions Trophy (14 man squad) were announced on sunday, with Sreesanth being the lone discard for the second tourney. Sreesanth has been the team management's favourite lately and his ommission did come as a bit of a surprise. There really isn't much to choose between Sreesanth and RP Singh in terms of what they can add to the team's collective performance. The cricinfo report says that RP got the nod because he bowls left-handed and would add some variety to the attack. If that is true, then it sort of indicates that the selectors don't think too much of Irfan as a left-arm strike bowler anymore.

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    Kumar at his sledging best...

    Saturday, September 02, 2006
    Sangakkara is my favourite cricketer from the nation across the Palk Strait. Check this video clip, where he is at his charming best..

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    The Opus

    Friday, September 01, 2006
    Courtesy: Kraken Group (the publishers of the "opus")
    The Opus is more of an event than a book. It is a unique cinematic monument that results from thousands of hours of painstaking work by editors, writers, photographers, designers, printers, binders and finishers. The sheer size of each volume, along with the obsessive quest for quality means that modern production methods cannot be relied upon, and each Opus is hand-stitched, hand-bound and hand-finished to exacting standards. The nature of the production process ensures that each Opus is a one-off, limited edition that can never be repeated.

    Tendulkar's Opus is supposed to get published by the end of next year. Why the end of next year? Wouldn't it be nice to have something like THE Opus compiled after his retirement? I really don't see him retiring (inspite of the elbow thing) next year. Would there be a second opus, covering the last phase of his career? Given the expected pricing, not sure how many fans of his (from the sub-continent) would be able to buy just one (forget two). Diego Maradona's opus which is supposed to get published at the end of this year is currently priced at € 4,250.00 (yeah, right). The Sachin version would probably be priced in the same range.

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    Sourav speaks

    In an interview with CNN IBN's Rajdeep Sardesai, Ganguly spoke about his disappointment about not being a member of the national team, his chances for the world cup and also about the need to get some quality domestic performances behind his name. There were a few bouncer-like questions that he deftly left (as opposed to attempting those ugly hooks of his), but he sure does seem to have enough hunger (or "gas" as he says) left to stage a comeback.

    Here is the full transcript. For the uninitiated, Rajdeep is the son of the illustrious Dilip Sardesai.