Saturday, March 15, 2003

Mugabe is nuts - cricketers WAKE UP!

I thought that England was grandstanding as usual when they refused to play in Zimbabwe. I think the New Zealanders were the worst hypocrites. Actually, I think the latter were worse than hypocrites - they were incompetent hypocrites.

But... but now, after reading this story, I don't think England were grandstanding at all! In fact, I think the ICC should have slapped Mugabe hard and should have taken away all the matches from Zimbabwe.

Patil's conflict of interest

So Sandeep Patil has announced he's going back to India and Dalmiya has a job waiting for him. Hmm... So when Kenya play India in the semi-finals, where will Patil's loyalties lie? With his current team or with his future team?

Friday, March 14, 2003

Funny stories of the World Cup

Here's one: From The Independent.

20 runs saved per fielder per game

This Australian Daily Telegraph story (that I got to from the Wall Street Journal)talks about how the Aussies used to save 10-11 runs per match in the past and are now saving 20 runs per player (I think). I love the statistical focus of these teams.

15 tests and 30 one-days per year

It seems like the ICC has stipulated that no team should play more than 30 ODIs per year and 15 tests. That's about 100 days out of 365... To me, it doesn't sound more stressful than NBA...

Srinath eats meat?

Javagal Srinath was called the fastest vegetarian in the cricketing world. It seems he's been eating meat for the last couple of years on Wasim Akram's advice.

Doubts cleared - bring on the 'Roos

The trio of fast bowlers and a class spinner who concedes not an inch rip out the batting team well before regulation time. Then they methodically milk the bowling - running singles, 'punishing the bad ball' (to use a quaint commentator's term) - and demoralize their opponents, winning easily.

Sounds like Australia, but I'm actually referring to India's clinical win. The game is as good as over now - the Indians have won oh-so-easily. I think there are few doubts about the excellence of this team in the relatively easy conditions of this World Cup. I'd still rate Australia as the team with the better attitude in this World Cup.

Academic question: Are the West Indies or S. Africans any better?

The West Indies haven't been a top-notch side of late and there wasn't any sign of a massive revival (except that Lara was finally showing signs of actually sticking around to score some). The way the S. Africans played Sri Lanka does not inspire much confidence in their game either, considering how Sri Lanka has been thrashed by just about every team except for New Zealand.

Under these conditions, this does seem like the best Indian side ever. Kapil Dev's '83 outfit was pretty good, but my prediction is that this outfit will not fold up against oppositions like that one used to.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

The most important game of the World Cup for India

The India - New Zealand game, to me, is the most important game of the tournament from the Indian point of view. Yeah, the semi-finals will be a knockout game and Kenyans are no pushovers. But the Indians have beaten Kenya - not very elegantly, not very convincingly, but beaten them nevertheless. And the Aussies are the best side in this World Cup. Period.

The New Zealanders are equals - except that they have thrashed India not so long ago. And so this match is so much more significant. Hope it doesn't turn into a one-sided damp squib.

Best streak for India

6 in a row is the best streak in one-day internationals for India. Or so says Chidanand Rajghatta on Times of India.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Bandwidth problems in India

Have you been to India lately? Have you tried to use the Internet there? I know of friends at companies like Infosys who say that they get 2 kbps connexions. If they want to download anything >100K in size, they ask their sys admins to do it (on some separate dedicated lines, one presumes). Dialup is even worse and you can barely use anything more than IM. Mandar pointed me to this amazing thread that explains some of the problems. Summary: the sole culprit is the Government of India (botched policies, unfathomable stupidity).

Should India lose to New Zealand now?

Now that it is certain that India plays Kenya in the semi-finals, should they lose to New Zealand in their last Super Six game? I think it is fair to assume that the unmotivated Zimbabweans will lose to Sri Lanka. The question then is: whom does India want Australia to play in the semi-finals: Sri Lanka or New Zealand? Let's look at both sides of the issue:

Australia vs New Zealand

Australia vs Sri Lanka

Okay, here's looking at it from the Indian angle. Should they lose to New Zealand?

On balance, it seems like the Indians should just go out there and play tough - take some chances maybe - and try to beat New Zealand. Shane Bond notwithstanding, the Indians do look like the better team on paper.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Everyone still has a chance

The league matches were supposed to be boring, but they weren't - thanks to the England/New Zealand boycotts. The Super Sixes have still some life left in them. Even the Zimbabwe vs Kenya game won't help decide matters.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Updated SuperSix spreadsheet

Here is the spreadsheet updated with Australia vs New Zealand scores.

Hansie Cronje: RIP

I know I know this is rather late in the day, but I'd completely forgotten that Hansie Cronje is no more. Cricket writers can't stop talking about him when they mention S. Africa, so I was surprised why he hasn't opined on the World Cup yet, until I realized...

It would have been fantastic for Hansie to be competing in this Cup. He would most certainly have taken S. Africa to the second stage and then we'd have a solid lineup of well-captained fully-manned teams going into the semis (Australia, New Zealand, India and S. Africa). Come to think of it, that would have made it 3 teams from the southern hemisphere vs one from the northern.

Tosses win matches?

I tried to look for correlation between tosses and match outcomes. I took the results of the last 10 or so matches that did not get rained out or end in a tie. The result: 50-50. There's a 50% chance that you would win if you won the toss and 50% chance that you would win if you batted first. There's a slightly better chance of winning if you won the toss and elected to bat first. All in all, it does seem like the better sides (sides with good batting and good pace/seam attack) are winning in this World Cup. There are just two problems: 1. The boycotts, 2. No real purchase for spinners on the S. African pitches.

Best-of-three finals

At this point, it seems like Australia and New Zealand or India will be the finalists. Let's say Australia loses in the finals because of some freak Duckworth-Lewis situation. They will be crying from the rooftops for a best-of-three finals (after everything is finished, of course). They will talk about their own "World Series" and how it is a fairer competition - never mind that it goes on longer than the World Cup even though there are just 3 teams playing usually. So... here is my suggestion: like the Indians petitioned for a non-day/night semifinal game, the Aussies should petition for a best-of-three final. They could even suggest that only 2 games need be played (the third game could be the one that has already been played between the two finalists in the league round or the Super Six).

India vs SL

Oh boy! So this is India's longest winning streak at the World Cup - 6 in a row. It might even be the longest for an Indian team abroad.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Super Six Whatifs

Okay, so here is another spreadsheet to whatif SuperSix scenarios. I will keep it up-to-date over the next week as the matches all come to a boil.

Two key questions to be answered:
1. Who will be in the semifinals?
2. Who will play whom? Remember: the side finishing first plays the side finishing fourth, and the side finishing second plays the side finishing third.

As things stand right now (before the Ind vs SL match), Australia, India, Kenya and New Zealand would make it into the semis: Australia vs NZ and India vs Kenya. Now our man Gilchrist says his team wants to avoid facing NZ in the semis. It's trash talk of course... they have some influence, but not a whole lot, on the final outcome of the Super Six. All they can do right now is... talk trash.

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