India Vs. West Indies

There was a time when India Vs. West Indies was a keenly awaited series especially in India. When West Indies team was a champion team and India was just about rising. There was Lara Vs. Tendulkar and West Indian pace attack Vs. Indian spinners.

Sadly this time around there is hardly any hype about the tour. India play 5 ODIs, 3 Tests and 1 T20 in the tour with no other tour matches.

The schedule is tight nd the interest is quite low with many of the Indian tops stars giving this tour a miss. Suresh Raina captains the young Indian ODI and T20 side and most of the youngsters in the team are pushing for their place in the regular side and for them this series is a great opportunity to do that.  New coach Duncan Fletcher will have his task cut-out. Test side would be more regular with stalwarts Dravid and Laxman along with Dhoni and Zaheer returning to the side. Tendulkar will be missed and this will be the 2nd West Indies tour he would be missing after the first one in 2006. Regular opening pair of Sehwag and Gambhir will also be missed and Murali Vijay and perhaps Abhinav Mukund can make a strong claim as a backup opener for future tours. Indian pace attack will have a chance to bowl on different pitches than sub-continent to prepare for bigger series ahead. There is plenty to look forward to for the die-hard cricket lovers.

As far as my prediction goes India should win the lone T20 and should win the ODI series at least 4-1, anything less should be considered as a failure. As far as tests goes anything less than 3-0 should not be acceptable to the Indian fans.

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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.