England take on the West Indies tonight in Kolkata in the sixth edition of the T20 World Cup.
Neither team is a stranger to the pressures of a final; both have emerged victors in the shortest format of the game.
Joe Root and Chris Gayle will be the cynosure of all eyes.
They are key players for their respective sides.
But finals have an uncanny knack of producing unlikely heroes.
The biggest stars have to perform to the greatest expectations.
Can they? Will they?
Some simply choke under the weight of expectations. Remember Ronaldo in the World Cup final in France in 1998 and his mysterious illness? It could well have been him and not Zinedine Zidane holding up the trophy. (Ronaldo did make amends in 2002. And it was Zidane who got the boot for his infamously provoked headbutt in 2006.Still not a Suarez.)
That’s not the point of this exercise.
It’s simply that cricket is a team sport and that it takes eleven players to get the side across the line.
The better side is simply the one that can keep it together more consistently and more often than other sides.
Those are the teams that make it through a tournament and emerge victorious.
Will it be Eoin Morgan’s England? Or will it be lovable Darren Sammy’s musketeers?
I really don’t know and I really don’t care.
For once, in this tournament I can be neutral and simply say, “Let the fireworks begin.”
What he said:
“Three months on, it is time to update the batting averages. Ian Bell’s batting average has remained at 45 – the front foot recovery has remained on track. But over the same period, Joe Root’s has risen to 51. Cricket statisticians and financial markets are agreed. While still a close run thing, the statistics now appear to favour the back foot.”
Andrew Haldane, chief economist of the Bank of England, appears to obfuscate while outlining the UK’s monetary policy outlook for the coming year.
“In June, when evaluating the UK’s monetary stance, I used the metaphor of a batsmen in cricket deciding whether to play off the front foot (raise rates) or the back foot (hold rates). And I compared the averages of two English batsmen, one who played from the front foot (Ian Bell), the other from the back (Joe Root), to illustrate the dilemma. At the time, Ian Bell averaged 45 to Joe Root’s 43. In other words, while it was a close run thing, the data narrowly favoured the front foot. Cricketing statistics are not the sole basis for my views on the appropriate stance for UK monetary policy. Nonetheless, on balance, I felt the same front-foot judgement was appropriate for UK interest rates at the time.”
“On balance, my judgement on the macro-economy has shifted the same way. I have tended to view the economy through a bi-modal lens. And recent evidence, in the UK and globally, has shifted my probability distribution towards the lower tail. Put in rather plainer English, I am gloomier. That reflects the mark-down in global growth, heightened geo-political and financial risks and the weak pipeline of inflationary pressures from wages internally and commodity prices externally. Taken together, this implies interest rates could remain lower for longer, certainly than I had expected three months ago, without endangering the inflation target.”
What he really meant:
“I follow cricket and its related statistics with as much interest as the economy. Maybe, it will help enliven my dry speech and perhaps have you wondering what in heavens am I meandering about so much so that you will ignore the gravity of the message conveyed. You see, I’m on the defensive and can only hope (unlike Joe Root) that things will work out for the British economy from here. This way I can backtrack on whatever I say should things turn worse and if things get better, it’ll simply be a case of ‘I told you so, didn’t I?'”
What he definitely didn’t:
“I’ll be catching up on the cricket this winter and next summer. Haven’t you received my memo? My arm-chair coaching should certainly help England regain the Ashes.”
Ishant Sharma at Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ishant Sharma came to the party and how! Since he made his debut in 2008, the lanky pacer has disappointed more often than not. So much so that Indian fans came to believe that his name was not Ishant but “I shan’t”.
But on a Monday afternoon, the Delhi native bent his back with the old ball and destroyed the much-vaunted lower half of an English side in rebuild mode. Joe Root and Moeen Ali may have hoped to lead England to a much needed morale-boosting victory, especially for beleaguered skipper Alistair Cook.
But it was not to be. Once Ishant Sharma started bouncing them, it was all over bar the shouting.
Were the English recalling the pummelling they received at the hands of a venomous Mitchell Johnson in the recent Ashes series down under? Or did they feel they could pull off a Ravindra Jadeja as well? Whatever the reasons, the spectators were bemused to find a procession of English batters making their way back to the pavilion. The English plan to counter-attack merely provided catching practice for the Indian fielders.
“I have seen fewer hookers in Soho on a Saturday night.”
India had its first win at Lords in 28 years.
The similarities between MS Dhoni and Kapil Dev keep piling up eerily.
India go into the next three Tests leading 1-0. They will hope that they can emulate Kapil’s Devils of 1986 and clinch a memorable series win. This Indian side does not look very strong on paper, lacking experience at the highest level. But most members of the squad have put their hands up and performed when needed, unlike the side of 2011.
A captain is only as good as his team and , right now, Dhoni’s boys are making him look so much better than the recent past.