Kevin Pietersen Twitter Parody: @kevinpp24 or @KevPietersen24?!

It’s been over a week after Kevin Pietersen released his autobiography. The book is a bold and direct accusation of the internal politics and rifts in the English dressing room. KP has blamed some of the senior players for his ouster from the national team. Soon after the book release, a new parody KP account was created under the name of “KP Genius” on the popular social networking site, twitter. The account has ridiculed every bit of KP’s autobiography. Here are some of the tickling tweets!

“It’s tough being KP genius on twitter. People love to see my tweets. Might defect to Facebook though…” tweeted the parody account. The actual tweet by KP was “It’s tough being me playing for England. For me, the saddest part about all this is that the spectators just love watching me play and I love playing for England.”

The other tweets that followed by the parody account were:

“All these gold medals makes me wish Cricket was in the Olympics. If it was, in 4 years I’ll be South African again so we would have a shout.”

“People who say Test Cricket is the pinnacle haven’t played IPL in front 80,000, slapping Indian medium pacers about at a 141% strike rate.”

“We’ve lost 5 Tests this year and to be honest, KP doesn’t want to be associated with a team full of losers. Read into that what you will.”

“Not sure about retirement yet. Been advised by my great mate at Chelsea Eden Hazard to keep you guessing so you all hang on KP’s every word.”

“Could see Rudolph shaking like a leaf when KP was at the top of my mark. Intimidated by the wizardry that was about to head his way.”

“@markbutcher72 we’re just watching the 98 highlights. Is it true that KP inspired your 1st ton after you watched me bat for Natal?”

“KP going to start a petition to increase prices of Test tickets. You should have to pay at least 3 figures to watch genius’ like KP.”

“Note to ex-pros. Make sure you’re better than KP before you have a pop. Which means unless you’re Don Bradman, keep your mouth shut.”

“Kids, if you want to be a decent spinner like KP then you need 5 things: flight, guile, grip, rip and genius.”

“Got asked who’s had more clubs: KP, Luke Wright or Peter Stringfellow? Dont care. KP plays where the £££s are. Giving the World his genius.”

While Kevin Pietersen is still doubtful about who this mysterious person could be, the reactions from others are worth noticing. KP believes that it some of his ex-team mates who are playing dirty tricks on him. Ironically, players like Eoin Morgan and Matt Prior are actually following the fake twitter account of KP.

Well, that’s all for the entertainment! You can catch up the real Kevin Pietersen by following @kevinpp24 and the fake account by following @KevPietersen24 !

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The Favorites Humbled by the Knights!

The stage was set, the atmosphere was jam packed, and the teams were ready to battle it out to be the first team to qualify for the finals. Yes, it was the first Qualifier of the ongoing Indian Premier League. The two teams gunning for glory were the hard hitting Kings XI Punjab and the clinical Kolkata Knight Riders. The match venue was Eden Gardens which made t all the way more enthralling with the audiences cheering to their loudest possible shrills. Coming in to the first qualifier, Kings were tipped as the favorites and rightly so. They had been in scintillating form, winning 11 of their 14 league games. They lost on just two occasions, even in which two of the defeats came against the Mumbai Indians. Incidentally, their third defeat was again the Kolkata Knight Riders. So were the Knights destined to knock the Kings again? Kolkata, on the other hand, had a stuttering start to the season but clicked well at the business end of it. They won their previous seven encounters and were certainly on a winning spree. This is how the match unfolded.

The Kolkata Knight Riders were put into bat at the toss. Captain Gambhir said he wished to chase but it was against his wills and wishes. The in form pair of Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir stepped in the middle. But much to the disappointment of the crowd, skipper Gambhir was dismissed cheaply in the second over by Mitchell Johnson.  Manish Pandey was the new man in. Uthappa continued his brilliant form and was looking in good touch for another good performance. The orange cap holder was dismissed in the 9th over by young left arm spinner Akshar Patel. Uthappa scored a 30 ball 42 hitting 2 towering sixes and four boundaries. In the very same over, Patel managed to get through the defenses of another set batsman Manish Pandey who scored a 20 ball 21. It was a double jolt for the Knights. Shakib Al Hasan and the hero of the previous game Yusuf Pathan were the new batsmen at the crease trying to rebuild the innings. They put on 41 runs in 33 balls for the fourth wicket before Shakib was dismissed by Karnveer Singh. Yet again a double jolt awaited the knights. Yusuf Pathan was dismissed on the very next delivery in similar fashion. Both batsmen were dismissed by Karnveer Singh and caught by David Miller. Ryan ten Doeschate clobbered two sixes before getting out on a 10 ball 17. Suryakumar Yadav and Piyush Chawla chipped in with 20 and 17 respectively to take the total to 163-8 in the stipulated 20 overs.

Chasing 163 didn’t look big for a side that had chased down 190+ three times in the tournament. But Kings had a jittery start as Sehwag fell cheaply on Umesh Yadav’s first delivery. Vohra and Saha put on 41 in 28 deliveries for the second wicket. Vohra, who scored 26 0f 19 balls, was dismissed by Morkel. In walked the star of the season, Glenn Maxwell. But he was caught plumb infront of his wicket by Umesh Yadav and all he could manage was a 9 ball 6. Saha was joined by Miller but neither of them looked comfortable at the crease. Saha made 35 of 31 balls before getting out on Morkel’s delivery and Miller followed soon as he fell in Chawla’s spin trap. A miscommunication saw Akshar Patel get runout in the very next over and it was all as good as over for the KXIP. Skipper Bailey was at the crease with Rishi Dhawan. Dhawan struggled for his 15 ball 14 and got out in the 18th over. Mitchell Johnson walked in but simply could not read Sunil Narine who gave just 4 runs in the penultimate over. Bailey perished in the last over and scored a 17 ball 26. The game ended with KXIP reeling on 135-8.

 

It was a thumping victory for Knight Riders who made it to the finals.  “The support we have got in all our home games has been fantastic. We can’t thank the crowd enough. At the toss I wanted to chase but now I would take batting first. We were always thinking of the first 5 overs as you can’t really know how the weather will play in Kolkata. I was thinking about today’s game and was not thinking about the Indian team selection”, quoted Gambhir in the post match presentation. Umesh Yadav was adjudged the Man of the Match. The KKR registered their 8th win on a trot and are favorites for the finals now. Winning is a good habit, isn’t it?

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Smiling Assassin: George Bailey

The seventh edition of the IPL has reached the business end and the tournament has been known for some spectacular hitting and immaculate spells of bowling. There have been eye grabbing catches taken and some scintillating fielding by the blend of youth and senior professionals. The teams of Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Superkings and Kings XI Punjab have been dominating forces this season. But it has been Kings XI Punjab who have made giant strides and surprised one and all by topping the points table. So what has been the key to their success? The batting, the bowling…but foremost the able leadership of George Bailey makes KXIP a different team altogether.

George Bailey, who played for Chennai Superkings in the previous editions, was bought by the Kings XI Punjab for Rs 3.25 crores at this year’s auction. The KXIP think tank, especially the coach Sanjay Bangar, wanted a solid head to lead the team. They found the most suitable person in the form of George Bailey. Both the owners and the Coach of the team have accredited the team’s grand success this season to the epigrammatic leadership of Bailey. Bailey is no rookie when it comes to captaincy. He has led his Australian domestic side to win on quite a few occasions. The most striking feather in Bailey’s hat is the fact that he captained his national side on his t20 debut for Australia! It was only on the second occasion that a debutant captained the national team after Dave Gregory (Australia) in 1877!

Bailey didn’t get much of success in the previous editions of IPL; rather he didn’t get many chances for that matter. But coming into IPL 2014 and leading the KXIP squad, he had a steady mind and has been very successful with his decisions. KXIP have won 10 of their 13 games so far kudos to brilliant batting by Maxwell and Miller and economical bowling by Sandeep Sharma, Mitchell Johnson and Akshar Patel. But most importantly, it has been captain cool Bailey’s crucial cameos and bold decisions which have put the side over the line on most occasions. On the personal front, Bailey has done reasonably well with his batting. The KXIP top order has been a dominant force and as a result, Bailey hasn’t really got much of the chance to bat; but he has cashed in whenever his team needed him. In their second game against CSK, they wanted to finish on a high. Bailey stepped in the 17th over and finished with a 13 ball 40 taking his tam past 200. A few low scores came at the fag end of the matches that followed for this Tasmanian right handed batsman. But when the team needed him again, he was right there. George Bailey and David Miller put together a 52 run stand ensuring a successful run chase for their team. Bailey being the major contributor with an unbeaten 35. KXIP chased down a target of over 200 for the second time this season! Playing against the Rajasthan Royals at Mohali, Bailey and Miller put on an unbeaten 60 run partnership for the 5th wicket to take the team to a winning total of 179. Bailey has been one such contributor to the team who has made his presence felt.

George Bailey is certainly not the most fancied player nor is he known for his six hitting capabilities. But he is a man who is prominent because of his escapades as a team leader. He has trusted his bowlers and crafted new talents like Shivam Sharma, Akshar Patel and Sandeep Sharma. He backed his batsmen when needed. In a game against SRH, when Dhawan and co were clobbering young paceman Sandeep Sharma, it was Bailey who ensured that the young man felt no pressure and supported the lad. A team succeeds when the players have a belief in their leader and they trust him. This is what has been the success mantra for KXIP this year.

20-year-old Patel attributes his success to his captain George Bailey

An ever smiling face of George Bailey exudes positive energy in his team members and this smiling face is the symbol of danger for the opposition. George Bailey, the unsung hero of KXIP, continues to be the smiling assassin for all the teams.

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Delhi Daredevils: The Heartbreak Saga

Ever since the 7th edition of Indian Premier League started, everyone has been talking about the successes of various teams and the big guns who have performed exceedingly well. Some teams have pleased everyone with their scintillating and clinical performances, while some have had an average IPL season. But there is one team that has been total out of sorts and has failed to put up the right combinations on the field and have thus been underperforming throughout this edition of IPL. This team of Delhi Daredevils has been the biggest disappointment of 2014 IPL season.

“The frustrating thing is that we get so close but don’t get over the finish line. It’s really unfortunate but we’ve to try to win the next game on Sunday and then see what we can do next season. For the kind of effort Gary and the other staff put in behind the scenes, it’s hard to believe that we’ve won only 2 games. We’ve to get the combinations right next season”, a disappointed Kevin Pietersen quoted after their recent defeat against Mumbai Indians.

The auction of 2014 was a good one for the Delhi franchisee. They retained the dazzling South Africa born Englishman Kevin Pietersen. They roped in the Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik, making him the one of the costliest players at this year’s auction. They managed to get the talismanic and classy opener Murali Vijay and aggressive Bangalore opener Mayank Agarwal. The big match players like JP Duminy and Ross Taylor were pocketed by the Delhi team at the auctions. The services of South African wicket keeper Quinton de Kock were also fetched by the team. On the bowling front, they had Wayne Parnell, Nathan Coulter Nile and Mohammed Shami to about and were later joined in by Imran Tahir. The team management put forth the name of Kevin Pietersen as the captain and the squad left for the UAE leg of the tournament.

Delhi played their first game against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Kevin Pietersen was down with an injured finger and it was Dinesh Karthik who led the side. RCB thumped Delhi by 8 wickets in the game. In the next game they played, which was against Kolkata Knight Riders, it was a close finish but the DD managed to be on the winning side and registered a 4 wicket win. But a couple of defeats right after that put the Delhi Daredevils on the back seat. Ross Taylor and Jimmy Neesham were dropped from the playing eleven and the New Zealanders have not made it to the playing eleven since then, albeit Taylor making one more appearance. Nathan Coulter-Nile looked solid with both bat and the ball but was forced to fly back to Australia due to an injury. South African leggie Imran Tahir joined the squad as his replacement. Delhi registered their second win against Mumbai Indians in the 5th game that they played. But since then, they have not tasted a victory. The Delhi Daredevils lost 8 games on a trot which has left them reeling at the bottommost position on the points table. The Kotla crowd has been supportive and has turned up in large numbers to support the home team despite of the team’s poor run. Skipper Kevin Pietersen has got starts but has failed to get big scores. JP Duminy has been the lone ranger with the bat but could not take his team to a victory on most occasions. Similarly, Imran Tahir has been bowling well and Kedar Jadhav has come up with his cameos but all in losing cause. The bowling unit has been dismal. DD have picked up an average of only 3 wickets a game which is the worst among all the teams this season. Dinesh Karthik and Murali Vijay have also come up good in bits and pieces but showed no consistency.

It has not only been poor performance but also the fact that DD have run out of luck this season. They looked set to win the game against Sunrisers Hyderabad scoring a par score of 150+ but rain gods intervened which turned the tables for Delhi. In the game against KXIP, they played well and KXIP needed 9 runs of the last over. But Parnell messed it up big time. Against Mumbai Indians, they were cruising along chasing the target with Duminy and Tiwary scoring 40s but wickets tumbled in the penultimate Marchant De Lange over and they lost by 15 runs.

Delhi’s journey in 2014 has been a heartbreak saga. The team needs to figure out what went wrong especially when they have Gary Kirsten and Eric Simmons in their core group. A modest Delhi Daredevils owner quoted “It was not a good outing by the team. We are looking forward to the next edition.”

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Yuvraj Clicks At The Right Time

Whether he is in good form or struggling with his form, if there is someone who is always in the news headlines is the prince of Punjab, Yuvraj Singh. This edition of IPL has been a tipsy turvy experience for this left handed batsman. Coming in to the tournament, taking the blame of being the spoilsport of India’s quest to their second world t20 win, Yuvraj Singh had a lot to prove to his critics. Yuvraj made his comeback in the Indian team during the world cup played in Bangladesh. A few cameos in the tournament was overshadowed by his excruciatingly slow knock of 10 runs of 21 balls was the talk of the town then. This slow knock came at a time when India needed to accelerate in the last 5 overs.

Jokes on Yuvraj Singh went viral on the social media and there were only a few who stood by him in these trying times. With such a backdrop, came the IPL 2014. It was the Royal Challengers Bangalore who bid the highest for this southpaw. Yuvraj Singh became the most expensive player at the auction with a handsome price tag of 14 crores. With great power, come great expectations. Yuvraj now had more than just a point to prove. He had to be back in his sublime best to shut the mouths of all his critics who thought that such huge amount was really uncalled for.

Yuvraj Singh, who had started his IPL career as the captain of the Mohali franchisee, KXIP, shifted to Pune Warriors during the next auctions. A battle from cancer and the world cup hero returned in Pune colors to come up with decent performances. This year, his first IPL with the RCB franchisee has been a mixed bag for Yuvraj Singh. In his first game against Delhi Daredevils, Yuvraj scored 52 runs and announced his comeback in flamboyant style and played a key role in his team’s victory. But in the very next game, he found himself plumb right infront of his stumps on a swinging delivery of Zaheer Khan only to ensure a golden duck for himself. Playing against the Kolkata Knight Riders, he could manage 31 runs but his stay at the crease didn’t look very elegant. The next few games weren’t great either as he could just manage scores of just 3, 35 and 14 against the Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively. His position in the team was being questioned by everyone and there were speculations about the end of career and charisma of this stylish left hander. Taking the field against Mumbai, Yuvraj knew he had to score and score big. But yet another failure waited for him as he could score just 6 runs. His captain Virat Kohli showed great faith in him and gave him another go against the Kings XI Punjab only to see him get dismissed for a single digit score again. Royal Challengers Bangalore themselves were struggling to put points on the board. Neither did Gayle click, nor was the magic of Virat Kohli working. Nothing seemed to go their way and the whole team was hoping for a miraculous performance from someone who could lift the spirits of all other team members.

It was 11 may 2014 and it was the Royal Rumble on the cards. Rajasthan Royals took on Royal Challengers Bangalore. RCB batted first and what followed was a blast from the past. Yuvraj Singh looked in ominous touch and whacked the bowlers all around the ground. Pairing up with AB de Villiers, he ensured that his team scored 191 runs in the stipulated 20 overs. Yuvraj Singh scored a belligerent 83 of 38 balls. Rajasthan Royals had a stiff task on board and it was again the man with the golden arm that did the trick. Yuvraj ended with the bowling figures of 4-0-35-4. But much to the dismay of RCB fans, it was Faulkner and Smith who stunned RCB and guided their team to a 5 wicket win. But the good news was that Yuvraj was back in form. In the next game he played, he continued from where he stopped the other day and made a quickfire unbeaten 68 to take his team to a victory against Delhi Daredevils.

With 26 towering sixes to his name in this IPL season; Yuvraj has clicked at the right time for his team. For a team that was looking out of sorts is now looking like rebuilding unit kudos to Yuvraj Singh’s comeback. His brutal batting and return in form in the business end of the tournament makes him the player to watch out for in this edition of Pepsi IPL!

 

 

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The Royal Touch

Sitting pretty comfortable at the number 3 spot in the points table, Rajasthan Royals have impressed one and all with their gritty performances and a thoroughly clinical all round show of sheer talents this year! Rajasthan Royals have had a mixed bag of experience at the IPL. The IPL started 6 years ago and the franchisee of Rajasthan Royals was then the only team to have an overseas leader. Led by Australian legend Shane Warne, the team lifted the inaugural IPL golden ware. The team, since then did not put any noticeable performances up until last year when the team managed to qualify for playoffs and also made it to the finals of Champions League t20 2013. And this year the team is again looking all set to qualify for the playoffs. Don’t be startled if you the men in blue lift the IPL golden ware for the second time.

Rajasthan Royals have never been short of talent and have been famous for honing the young brigade of Indian and overseas players like Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan, Ajinkya Rahane, James Faulkner and many more. It would be an understatement to say that it was this team of Rajasthan Royals that re-launched the career of Shane Watson. And this year, the team led by Shane Watson, has already highlighted the talents of Karun Nair, Sanju Samson and PravinTambe. Unlike other teams the Rajasthan Royals do not boast of big names and superstars but are certainly not short of talent. The team had a low budget coming in to the auctions due to unfathomable reasons, but they did manage to get a good mix of youth and experience. Having retained a young player like Samson, showed how bold the decision making in the camp was.

The team started of IPL 2014 with a win over the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the UAE. A rather comprehensive win by 4 wickets. In the next two that followed, the weaknesses of Rajasthan Royals were exposed and the team lost those games to Chennai Superkings and Kings XI Punjab. The bowling looked a bit odd. Neither did the last season’s performer Faulkner seemed in a good touch nor did the golden wicket taker at the CLt20 2013, Pravin Tambe trouble the batsmen. But the team did really well to bounce back and registered a 6 wicket win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Their next encounter was an epic one. Rajasthan Royals won on the boundary count against the Kolkata Knight Riders. On this very rare occasion the world of cricket witnessed a tied super over! Te team extended its winning streak and went on to beat Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the next four games they played. A spectacular run chase was on display against RCB, when the team chased down 190; kudos to the heroics of James Faulkner and Steve Smith. The team tried to experiment quite a lot in the last game against CSK and it did not prove be a successful trick. The team suffered a 5 wicket defeat against the two time champion Chennai Superkings.

Having played 10 games this season, Rajasthan Royals sit pretty comfortable at number three spot with 6 wins in their bag. The opening duo of Ajinkya Rahane and Karun Nair has been consistent performers for the team. Ajinkya Rahane is the leading run scorer of the side with 248 runs. Skipper Shane Watson has led from the front whenever needed and been a key with both bat and bowl. The team holds the distinction of getting 6 wickets in 8 balls against KKR. A downfall of KKR that was initiated by Watson and carried forward by the hattrick of Pravin Tambe. Pravin Tambe has been a key player and has been among the wickets. Tambe along with Bhatia have choked the opposition during the middle overs and have been by and large the reason for team’s success. Young talents like Sanju Samson have impressed in bits and pieces. No one can forget a straight six right over the bowler’s head; Samson sent the world’s best Steyn right out of the boundary.

With such blend of experience and youth and also a clinical display in most of the games they played, Rajasthan Royals are surely a team to watch out for in this edition of IPL.

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Age is just a number!

Pravin Tambe took the first hattrick of IPL 2014. The Rajasthan Royals spinner scripted his team’s win against Kolkata Knight Riders.

The 42 year old Pravin Tambe has been the talk to the town since his arrival at the big stage. Making his IPL debut last year at the age of 41, Tambe has been proving that age is merely a number in the sporting arena. What matters is one’s zeal and enthusiasm when it comes to the performance. The leg spinner Pravin Tambe had not even played a top-level game for a first-class team when he was picked from the vast meadows of Mumbai’s cricket gymkhanas at the age of 41, by Rajasthan Royals for IPL 2013. Pravin Tambe has been working day in and day out, managing his game and his job in Mumbai for the last 20 years. His wait came to an end when the Wall of Indian cricket spotted this sturdy and 5’5” wily leg spinner. Before getting a call for the IPL, the closest that Pravin had been to be known in the top level cricket was when his named featured in the Ranji probables list in the year 2000 for Mumbai.

The Mumbai-born Tambe is now a Rajasthan Royals veteran. The bowler has been the go to man for his skipper this season. Tambe, along with the economical customer Rajat Bhatia, has been the key to Rajasthan’s success in this edition of IPL. The duo have played their part to the optimum best and have choked the opposition during the middle overs and thereby ensuring their team’s victory. Last week, when the Kolkata Knight Riders were cruising along chasing the target of 171, riding on the knocks of Gambhir and Uthappa, it was Tambe who put the brakes on the run chase. He picked up the first hattrick of the season by dismissing three batsmen of just two legal deliveries. He managed to get Manish Pandey stumped of a wide delivery, castled Yusuf Pathan and finally dismissed Ryan ten Doeschate to grab the season’s first hattrick! Although the downfall was initiated by skipper Watson, it was Tambe who ripped apart the KKR middle order. Claiming the hattrick of just two deliveries is not something we witness every now and then. It was just second time in the history of game that such a feat was accomplished; Isuru Udana’s hattrick in Champions league t20 2010 was the first occasion of the rare sight.

Earlier in the tournament, he went wicketless in the first two games that he played. But he did play a containing role. Picking just one wicket in the third game against Chennai Superkings, Tambe announced himself in the game against Royal Challengers Bangalore by picking up 4 wickets for 20 runs. Since then, he has been among the wickets. Picking up couple of wickets against KKR and then replicating the same against Delhi, he got his hattrick in the team’s second game against KKR on May 5, 2014.

Tambe, the oldest player to make an IPL debut, has looked in sublime form in this season. He has continued his form from the previous year’s Champions League where he received the Golden Wicket (for taking most number of Wicket in the tournament). Despite of being highly successful at the shortest format of the game, Tambe failed to make a mark at the Ranji level. Making his debut at the age of 41, it was his dream to represent Mumbai in Ranji trophy. Tambe, who worked as a coordinator for the matches at DY Patil Stadium in the earlier editions of IPL, toiled hard in the vast Kanga Leagues of Mumbai before finally making his debut in Ranji trophy against Odisha last year.

Tambe got the Golden Wicket in CL T20 2013

But coming back to IPL, he has performed and performed well this season. The stocky leg spinner has hit the purple patch and is also a leading contender for the purple cap this season. The ever inspiring fairy tale story of Pravin Tambe fascinates every aspiring cricketer and this story of this man from Mumbai makes him the player to watch out for in this IPL season!

 

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The Defending Champions…

Five defeats in a row and now, two consecutive wins. What to expect from the defending champs?

“Sachin…Sachin…” was the roar in IPL 2013 and the Mumbai Indians emerged victorious in the sporting festival as the audience or “the sea of blue” erupted in the all joyous scenes for the men in blue. The team went on to win the Champions League T20 as well and it was a fitting farewell for their hitherto batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar. This year, the team without the services of the batting legend, had a big task in front of them during the auctions.

The Auction of 2014 brought a lot of surprises for the Mumbai Indians supporters. To everybody’s amazement, the team decided not to retain their previous edition’s hero Mitchell Johnson and the dynamic batsman Glenn Maxwell. A chance went begging when Mumbai Indians refused to use their right to match cards for the two Australian gentlemen. And the other team grabbed the opportunity with both hands and got the two Aussies, Kings XI Punjab were the beneficiary. They also felt it was time that Dwayne Smith should be moving to some other team now. Young leggie Yuzvendra Chahal was left out and so was veteran wicket keeper Dinesh Karthik. Talking about their “buys” this season, the Mumbai Indians spent big time to rope in the fastest ODI centurion, Corey Anderson. They also cashed in to get the services of Mr.Cricket, Mike Hussey. It was a mix bag for the management this season and they looked happy with the squad until the tournament began. Both Maxwell and Smith top the highest run getters chart this season and the Mumbai Indians management is certainly scratching their head. However, the team retained their core group of players: Malinga, Pollard, Harbhajan, Rayudu and the captain Rohit Sharma.

The team retained their “all time” stars.

The cricket carnival moved to UAE for its first leg of matches this season, and the Mumbai Indians stepped in the arena as the defending champions. Playing the opening encounter of IPL 2014 against Kolkata Knight Riders, the Mumbai franchisee disappointed their fans as they bundled out for a score less than 120. In the game that followed, they yet again failed to register a score of 120 against Royal Challengers Bangalore. From UAE, the team moved to Dubai searching for some sort of luck. But it again turned out to be a disheartening encounter for the men in blue as they lost to Chennai Superkings. CSK bowler Mohit Sharma ripped apart the Mumbai batting order. Mumbai Indians looked for answers, but just could not find the right combination. They started their campaign with openers Tare-Hussey. They tried every combination possible. In their fourth game against Delhi Daredevils, Skipper Rohit Sharma opened the innings but in vain. The team lost their fourth game. Playing their last game in UAE, they succumbed to pressure again and lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad, being the only team who failed to get a win in the UAE league. Fifth defeat in a row for the defending champions!

The tournament moved to India and the lady luck gave the Mumbai fans something to cheer about. Playing against the unbeaten side of KXIP, all odds were against the Mumbai Indians. But the sea of blue at Wankhede stadium erupted again. CM Gautam, the record holder for most dismissals (45) as a wicket keeper in Ranji trophy, came out good for Mumbai and looked an emerging star! In the next game, Rohit Sharma’s nonchalant batting and Pollard’s brutal force propelled their score to 187 against RCB. The heated argument between Starc and Pollard was the highlight of the game but more importantly it was Mumbai’s second win at their fortress.

Skipper Sharma returns in form

Despite a rather forgettable start, the Mumbai Indians are looking back in form. A team which boasts of a support staff with Jonty Rhodes, Tendulkar, Ponting, Kumble and John Wright, is bound a make a mark especially when they know that the skipper in back in ominous touch. Slowly climbing up the ladder in the points table, the defending champions Mumbai Indians, although a little inconsistent, are surely a team a team to watch out for!

A jubilant Mumbai Team hoping for a twist of fate!

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Brendon McCullum: Power Personified!

The biggest modern day cricket extravaganza, IPL has reached its metaphase and returned back to India. The initial bit of the renowned sporting festival was played in the UAE and the matches stood up to the expectations. Journey in UAE was a bag full of emotions; for some like the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), it was a dream run; while for some like the Mumbai Indians, it was a forgettable journey!

Among the teams to beat, KXIP lead the charge but a notable mention is the team of Chennai Superkings (CSK) who are placed at the second position in the points table. CSK did not have the best of the starts but the men in yellow have excelled after the initial defeat by registering 5 consecutive victories! Everyone is talking about their success mantra. Some say it’s the immaculate pace attack, some say it’s the economical spin attack and others say it’s the leadership. But the real major contributing factor has been their batting, their opening. It has been the story of the CSK opening duo Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum in the CSK winning saga.

Dwayne Smith, for some unfathomable reason, has overshadowed his equally capable partner and has become the centre of discussion. But one must not undermine the role played by the “unsung hero” of team Brendon McCullum. No one can keep this man away from IPL after all years ago, it was Brendon McCullum who lit up the inaugural IPL campaign with 158 in 73 balls for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in 2008. But this year, coming into the tournament with just 85 runs in four innings in the recently concluded t20 world cup, McCullum had a point to prove. It was never going to be an easy task as he was in a totally new atmosphere, a new team.

McCullum, who has previously been a part of Kolkata Knight Riders and Kochi Tuskers, kicked off his CSK outing with a blitzkrieg 67 against KXIP propelling his side to a score past 200! Although it was for a losing cause, his intentions were loud and clear. McCullum used the pull shot to devastating effect. In the match that followed, he managed just 9 runs against the Delhi Daredevils. Another failure awaited him in the game against Rajasthan Royals where he managed just 6 runs. But the man from Dunedin was back in ominous touch against the Mumbai Indians and scored a scintillating unbeaten innings of 71. In the next game, he cracked 40 of 33 balls as the M.S. Dhoni led Chennai Superkings chased down Sunrisers Hyderabad’s 145 to win by 5 wickets with 3 balls to spare at Sharjah. IPL moved to India, but his form showed no dip. The right handed New Zealander slammed a 40 ball 56 to help CSK register a win against KKR at Ranchi and gave CSK their 5th consecutive win this season!

The ICC t20 International Performance of the year (2010) winner, Brendon McCullum has by and large played in the shadow of his burly West Indian opening partner Dwayne Smith. But by the look of things, it seems the brash and brutal blackcap has taken the baton from last year’s CSK wonder opener Mike Hussey. McCullum, a blend of power and elegance, is power personified and certainly the trump card for the Chennai Superkings this summer. Undoubtedly he is the player to watch out for in IPL 2014.

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McCullum, Smith guide CSK to fourth consecutive win!

Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith smashed the Sunrisers bowling attack all around the park to ensure a victory for the Chennai Superkings. The victory was Chennai’s fourth on the trot while Sunrisers, with just one victory in their account in the tournament, slumped to their third defeat in the 2014 IPL. What looked like a very comfortable run chase in the first half of CSK innings, turned into a humdinger in the next few overs. But Chennai Super Kings overcame some anxious moments before huffing and puffing to a five-wicket win over a fighting Sunrisers Hyderabad in a nail biting encounter at the Sharjah.

Batting first, the Sunrisers did find it difficult to middle the balls. Skipper Dhawan fell to Hilfenhaus scoring only 9 runs. Warner was unlucky to get out as he was adjudged LBW by the umpire on a delivery that was pitched clearly outside the leg stump. It was Australian batsman Aaron Finch’s fighting 44-run knock and a splendid rearguard action that propelled Hyderabad to a competitive 145 for five. The Australian batsman held the one end when wickets fell consistently from the other before departing in the fag end.

Finch added 52 runs for the third wicket with Lokesh Rahul (25). Finch was dismissed for 44 of 45 deliveries and was castled by Mohit Sharma. Venugopal Rao departed soon after. Darren Sammy (23 not out) and Karan Sharma (17 not out) slogged and slogged well to help their side get to the score of 145. They scored 32 runs in the last two overs. Sharma hammered paceman Ben Hilfenhaus for two sixes in the penultimate over and Sammy also succeeded in hitting a maximum off Mohit Sharma in the final over. For the Superkings, Mohit Sharma and Ben Hilfenhaus picked two wickets each. Ashwin continued to bowl miserly, conceding just 17 runs in his quota of overs, albeit without a wicket.

Chasing 146 for their fourth win in a row, Chennai achieved the target with three balls to spare as openers Dwayne Smith (66) and Brendon McCullum (40) laid a solid foundation with their 85-run partnership in 10.5 overs.

CSK openers started the innings in the most flamboyant manner. Despite losing his partner, Smith went about his business calmly and completed his third half-century of this season with a single off paceman Ishant Sharma. The West Indian clobbered Amit Mishra for a six to raise 100 of the CSK innings. But then a quick flurry of wickets gave CSK a scare and a glimmer of hope for the Sunrisers dugout. Brendon McCullum was dismissed by Karn Sharma on 40. Soon to follow was Suresh Raina who added just 14 runs to the team total. Chennai were cruising at one stage, needing just 22 runs from the last five overs with eight wickets in hand but young Indian paceman Bhuvaneshwar Kumar changed the complexion of the game by dismissing Smith and Faf du Plessis in the same over. Du Plessis got a golden duck as he edged one of Kumar’s bowling. In the 19th over, Ravindra Jadeja followed him by adding just 6 runs.

CSK needed six runs off the last over, bowled by Amit Mishra, and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni finished it off in style, dismissing a full toss to square leg boundary. To everybody’s amazement, skipper Dhawan decide to hand the ball to the leggie. Notably, Darren Sammy didn’t get to bowl a single over in this game.

A smiling Dhoni welcomed the fourth victory for his side and was totally satisfied with his team’s effort. Smith, who anchored the CSK chase with his 46-ball knock that was embedded with five sixes and four shots to the fence and was adjudged the Man of the Match.

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