And here it starts.. World Cup 2011

19th February 2011 and its the first match of the World Cup of Cricket 2011 being hosted in India, Sri Lanka and Bangaldesh.

There is enough material about the world cup on the internet, television, radio and wherever you go. So no point mentioning the details like who’s playing whom and when and who is the favorite and who is the underdog.  We all Indians want our country to win like most other cricket fans from their nation.

This is my 8th World Cup beginning from 1983 when I was 9 years old, so technically I was a toddler during the first one and a bumbling 5 year old during the 2nd. I remember the 3rd world cup, known as Prudential World Cup. I remember watching the Finals LIVE on Doordarshan, interrupted by ‘Batmya’ at 7.30 pm and ‘Samachar’ at 9.00 pm but it was a memorable night when India lifted the cup, although honestly I now have a very vague memory of that night but enough to feel proud of witnessing history.

1987 was a heart breaker when India lost to England in the semis and i remember the pin-drop silence walking out of the Wankhede at the end of that match. I was there and do not want to remember it. 1992 was the best format where every team played every other. I remember breaking my home window grill when India lost to Australia and our batsman did not take the match tieing run when it was available. I remember running home from my final board exams to watch the semifinals and i remember the 2 deadly in-swingers Wasim Akram bowled in the finals.

1996 was watched with friends either at a different freinds house every match and India Australia match in Wankhede is memorable, not only because it was an electrifying atmosphere but also because the manner in which all our freinds procured the tickets withstanding lathicharge from police. I had my arm swollen for a week. The semifinal loss was the worst though and I stopped watching after stone-pelting started.

1999 world cup has mixed emories with superb victory over Sri Lanka and Pakistan followed by ugly losses against Zimbabwe only to lose badly against South Africa and Australia

2003 was of course the best so far with India doing really well, Nehra’s 6 wickets in Durban and Sachin’s 98 against Pakistan are 2 of the favorite matches. The loss in Finals made me hate Australia and Ricky Ponting even more and I continue to dislike them.

2007 was blink and miss and literally I missed it as I was travelling during both of India’s losses against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Both times I was in the train, night journey with matches being in Caribbean I was checking scores through cell phone and SMS’s only to discover that India was losing and the world cup was over before it started.

Now its 2011. This one is huge. Its at home and as mentioned above all of us have high hopes for India to win it. This also is Sachin’s  ( hopefully not) realistically last world cup. He is the guy who has defined ODI cricket and it would be a Billion people’s dream come true if he were to lift the world cup on his home ground on 2nd April, 2011.

My elder son is about the same age I was in 1983. Maybe the history would repeat itself. Fingers Crossed.

IPL 4 – Status Update

IPL 4 is set to be played 6 days after the conclusion of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. The tournament is now about 4 months away, however due to the various controversies neither the no. of teams, the players, no. of matches, format anything is known to the public and not even to the players and team owners. It was supposed to be a 10 Team event when 2 new teams Pune and Kochi were added last year in much publicized team auction.

Later due to the ownership issues and various non-cricketing reasons Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab were suspended from the IPL and the Kochi team was always on the brink of suspension due to its various ownership issues. At one stage it looked there would be just 7 teams and an eighth team would be added after a fresh round of auction. However as things stand today Kochi is back in the fold and so is Rajasthan Royals based on the court order. Punjab team is likely to be there as well as their case is similar to the Royals. Thus it would be a 10 team affair.

Player auction which was supposed to be held in November had been postponed to January and now it seems may further gets postponed to March, i.e. during the ICC World Cup. As the BCCI is yet to clear off the court cases.

No one is sure about the format, the no. of matches either and would a round robin home-away format will be followed or a changed format of 2 groups would be followed is yet to be decided. The teams are not sure about the exact playing dates as well. The Player retention rules are even more controversial with teams having a choice of up to 4 players to retain from their existing team, but then they lose half their auction limit of 9 Million $. It seems not all teams are in favor of retention however Mumbai Indians and Chennai Superkings are quite keen on it.

As of now it seems Mumbai have decided to retain Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga  and either of Keiron Pollard and J P Duminy. Chennai have decided to retain Dhoni, Raina, Murali Vijay and Albie Morkel while Bangalore are keen only on Virat Kohli and Kolkata are keen only on Chris Gayle and not even their very own Ganguly. Delhi are sure to keep Sehwag with them and possibly Ashish Nehra, Dirk Nannes and maybe Gautam Gambhir too. Rajasthan have opted for Shane Warne, Watson and possibly Yusuf Pathan. Deccan Chargers have decided not to retain anybody while Kings XI Punjab are still awaiting for court ruling to decide anything. There are clearly no takers for veteran players such as Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman, Kumble and so on. The teams also do not have a fixed strategy and things are quite muddled at the moment.

Unless and until clarity comes from the court regarding status of various teams and BCCI decided upon the format of the game and auction dates and rules nothing can be sure.

Although one thing is sure, BCCI is hell bent on hosting the IPL 4 by hook or crook.