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Moments That Turned The Tables

The small moments in life provide the biggest joy.

This common saying applies to the IPL and cricket in general as well.

The small moments, running the twos and threes, the catches, diving saves, and the direct hits, these narrow margins tilt the games.

Also Read: Best Fielders of All-Time, Favorite Players From Each Country, Best Commentators of All-Time

Recap

In the first week of IPL 2020, we witnessed several close games, Tewatia’s magic, and the Indian youngsters on the show. Some said this is the closest IPL ever?

What followed in the next couple of weeks was a thoroughly one-sided tournament.

It seemed that Delhi Capitals were running away with from the rest of the table, and Mumbai Indians were back at their best. RCB were playing….consistently well and even an underperforming KKR were snatching victories out of jaws of defeat.

Where are we now? Two days to go in the league stague, and the points table look something like this. Mumbai Indians are the only team to seal qualification, while CSK are the only team officially out…barely.

On the other hand, RCB at #2 can still fail to make it and KKR at #7 are still alive.

Also Read: All-Time XIs RCB, CSK, SRH, MI, RR and KKR, KXIP and RR

How Did We Get Here?

Did you miss the major moments of the day? Do not worry! Here are the moments of the day from our perspective on Twitter – funny run-outs, unusual hit-wickets, Super Over chaos, and much more.

Here are the hashtags we used for each day.

  • #BCDoftheDay: Broken Cricket Dream of the Day
  • #RedemptionoftheDay: Comebacks and Redemptions
  • #SamCurranoftheDay: All-Rounder or the Game Changer of the Day
  • #UniverseBossoftheDay: Chris Gayle is back, so a new # was needed just for him

We have several videos linked in the tweets and the headlines, so feel free to watch the highlights of the moments if you missed out!

What were your favorite moments of the past two weeks or the IPL in general? Comment below, subscribe below for more such articles, and follow us on our Twitter and Facebook pages!

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Defining Moments

Day 25 – Rashid’s Hit Wicket for the Win!
Day 27 – RCB Batting Order or KKR? ABD at 6?
Day 28 – Dinesh Karthik finishes….his captaincy career at KKR
Day 29 Game 1 – Superhuman ABD Crushes Everybody’s Dreams
Day 29 Game 2 – Gabbar is Back Part I and Axar Finishes it Off in Style

Faf-Rabada Collision was scary but the hug was beautiful.

Day 30 Game I – Super Sunday Super Over Part I Feat Lockie Ferguson
Day 30 Game II – Super Sunday Double Super Over Part II Feat Shami
Day 31 – Buttler’s Day Out
Day 32 – Gabbar is Back Part II….But Delhi Capitals Are Not
Day 33 – KKR’s 84 Survives RCB’s 49 Record but Siraj’s Dream Day

(Broken Dreams for KKR fans…cough, cough – me).

Day 34 – Pandey and Shankar Revive SRH

Uthappa was always going to lose the battle against Holder there….

Day 35 – CSK Not Qualifying? Say What? 2020….
Day 36 – Courageous Narine and Architect Varun Bamboozle Declining Delhi
Day 37 – Comeback Weekend Part I Via SRH Collapse
Day 37 Game 1 – Gaikwad Shows the “Spark”
Day 37 Game 2 – The All – Round Show. Stokes Trumps Pandya’s Brilliance
Sources: Twitter, IPLT20.com – Magic Moments (Videos)

Image Courtesy: Eoin MorganNAPARAZZI, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Top Commentary Highlights

What is the first thing that comes in your mind when you think of cricket highlights? Fast bowling wickets compilation? Catches Win Matches? Stylish Cover drives?

How about classic commentary highlights? Well, today we will discuss exactly that!

Last week, we created a Fantasy team of Commentators XI. Harsha Bhogle was our team captain, Gaurav Kapur the opener, and the dynamic duo of Simon Doull and Pommie Mbangwa as the fast bowlers.

So naturally we asked our Twitter audience to respond with #BestCommentary for:

  • Best #IPL2020 Commentary Highlights
  • Most Favorite Iconic Cricket Commentary Memory

Commentators come in all shapes and sizes—a few serious, others insightful, and some extremely hilarious.

Who is your favorite commentator? Bill Lawry, Michael Holding, Tony Greig, Ian Bishop, Richie Benaud, Ravi Shashtri? COMMENT BELOW AND LET US KNOW!

Anyway, here are their twitter responses! So, sit back, relax, and watch some of the best cricket commentary videos!

There are lots of videos. Like a lot. Watch till the end for all the good ones.

The Tweets – Commentary Highlights

Here are the favorite IPL and cricketing memories from the fans in their own words. We have categorized the commentary in categories—The Jaw Drop, The Heartbreak, and The Critical, and then, some more.

The Jaw Drop feat Ravi Shastri

Here are some of the jaw dropping moments in recent cricketing history captured by iconic commentators.

1. Mohd Shamir Ansari (@ShamirMohd)

My Fav. #BestCommentary will be Ravi Shastri commentating on Yuvraj Singh Six sixes in an over to Stuart Broad in first T20 World Cup. And best #IPLT20 will be First time I saw sunny sir doing Hindi Commentary that was really an awesome moment for me

Yes Really It was very nice especially I was watching this match Live… So still remember those exciting sixes and commentary by Ravi Shastri.

What a great day for cricket. One just imagines what would have happened had Flintoff kept his cool to Yuvi that day?

2. Jonny (@Leathernwillow)

IPL comms just wash over me a bit. Sunny Gavaskar is the master of the box as much as he was at the crease, especially when he’s annoyed. KP’s ‘Pingo Pongo’ moments are fun. Best ever is Fazeer Mohammed “Why did he do that?!” to Gabriel’s brainfade against Yasir #BestCommentary

Try #RCBvSRH on 21 September as I checked and mentioned it that day. Also you’ve got to have Richie Benaud from Botham Headingley 1981 – “It went in to the confectionery stall and out again…”

3. Pratyush (@ps26_11)

For me, #BestCommentary All-Time – by Ravi Shastri Sir on India WC 2011 wining moment (Dhoni’s 6) ~ ” Dhoni finishes off in style..A magnificent strike into the crowd…India wins after 28 years…& it’s the Indian capt who’s been absolutely magnificent in the night of the final

Also Read: MS Dhoni and SK Raina Retire: An End of an Era

The Ian Bishop

Ian Bishop recently celebrated his 53rd birthday at the IPL. With Harsha Bhogle, Mark Nicholas, and JP Duminy, the banter among the group was hilarious!

He has had so many iconic moments in recent times, that he deserves a category by himself.

1. JustCricket (@justcricketblog)

My fav in #IPL2020 Bish, Danny M, Mark Nicholas, Sanga . All time Nasser H. Favorite moment :normally love all the 3rd man and Masterclass segments(Nasser and Murali) in sky sports. But generally I think it’s Bishop calling brathwaite and Ravi S in natwest series #bestcommentary

2. Rahul Kumar (@rahulk_1019)

Mine from ipl is AB v steyn(SRH one) 2014.. Simon doull & ramiz raja in comm… All time fav.. Bit biased, will select two: 1) Ravi shastri calling Dhoni’s six, wc 2011 final 2) Bish in manchester 2019 wc “Surely the hopes have been ignited enough for them to be extinguished!”

“Can he? Can he really?” “The dream has diminished for CB, here in manchesterrr..”

Watching late at night.. Was preparing for the exams..but couldn’t take my eyes off.. Even after the fall of 7th wkt.. For some reason didn’t switch it off… Treated with a phenomenal & memorable game.. The heart sank but was a special knock from brathwaitte..

Wow what a memory! The detail is impeccable. What would have happened had Boult dropped the catch?

Which Bish phrase is your favorite? Remember the Name“, ” The Dream is Alive”, or “The Dream is Diminished”?

The Heartbreak feat Ian Smith

1. My Favorite Commentary Highlight (@cricket_broken)
  1. Best #IPL2020 moment – Sanga-Mahela banter
  2. All-Time – “Grant Elliot – Superman! by Ian Smith

Joy for New Zealand, heartbreak for South Africa.

4 years later, heartbreak for New Zealand, joy for England. How the tables turn.

2. Arnob (@Arnobchitchats)

#BestCommentary for me is certainly by Ian Smith from CWC 2019 Final written below:-

“This is the moment – it’s Archer to Guptill. Two to win. Guptill’s got to push for two, they’ve gotta go! The throw’s gotta go to the keeper’s end. He’s got it! England have won the World Cup – by the barest of margins. By the barest of all margins.”#BestCommentary Chilling!

Want more New Zealand? Here is Starc’s 6-28 in that breathtaking finish.

The Critical

Not all commentary is hilarious or heartbreaking. Some commentary moments deal with serious cricketing issues.

  1. Vandit – West Indies T20 League Exodus

2011 Pakistan Vs West Indies ODI. The highlight was Michael Holding exclaiming, “I was told he played in the IPL this morning. I almost fell over. A feather duster could have knocked me over”

2. Here is another serious commentary by Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain on Muhammad Amir’s comeback following the Spot Fixing ban. Do watch the full interview here.

The Best Commentary Highlights

1. Sparsh Telang (@_cricketsparsh)

#BestCommentary Harsha Bhogle: “Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seat belts. We are ready for the take-off.” This was when AB started his innings with a bang in one IPL match.

Did not find the exact Harsha video but here is Harsha Bhogle at his very best.

2. Tony Greig – Sharjah Sachin Tendulkar

3. YouTube – Best Commentary
4. Richie Benaud – BBC Tribute

Here is the BBC Tribute to Richie Benaud’s marvelous career, both as a player and a commentator. Here are some of his other Benaud’s other best moments.

5. My Personal Favorite – That. Is. Very. Good.

Any other videos or memories? Comment below and send us your favorite commentary highlights!

What did you think of the videos, the tweets, and the article? Please let us know by commenting below. Subscribe to our blog for more such articles and follow us on twitter/facebook!

Also Read:

Sources: ICC, YouTube, IPLT20.com

Image Courtesy: Ravi Shastri – Bollywood Hungama, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Fantasy Cricket – Commentators XI

“How is the food in Dubai?” asks Kumar Sangakkara. Mahela responds, “Limited but enjoyable.”

Oh yeah? Because it shows.” (Laughs all around). After a brief pause, Mahela responds, “Well, I thought he was a proper commentator, but obviously he is not…”

I just love this banter between these two legends and friends.

Kumar Sangakkara’s addition in IPL 2020 has been a breath of fresh air in the commentary box, although he replaced an unusually enthusiastic Kevin Pietersen earlier in the tournament.

This gave me an idea. Why not make a Fantasy Cricket team from the commentators in IPL 2020?

We have all played fantasy cricket or picked our All-Time World XI before. Today let us jump out of our comfort zones and do something slightly more creative – IPL 2020 Commentators XI.

Today’s Twist – Fantasy Cricket

Build two teams from IPL 2020 commentators such that (1) is a team made up of any commentators whatsoever, and (2 ) consists of only ex-cricket players.

Here are some additional rules:

  • By IPL rules, each team can field a maximum of 4 foreign players.
  • Pick from the list of commentators stated at the end of the article below.
  • The team should actually be able to field with 1 keeper and 5 bowling options necessary.

The Catch

What do you look for from a commentator? Serious analysis, insightful in-game interviews, or hilarious banter? I like a combination of all of them.

A little bit of analysis, a tinge of entertainment, and of course, a drop of controversy.

Well here are my teams. What about you? Comment below with your FAVORITE COMMENTATORS.

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IPL 2020 Commentators XI

Just Imagine what role these commentators would play on the cricket field. Take creative license with this. Also Note: The 4 foreign players are in bold.

  1. Aakash ChopraDefensive opener, aggressive commentator. Love the phrases. #Aakashvani
  2. Gaurav Kapur Complimentary youthful enthusiasm for the opening partnership. Also BWC.
  3. Alexis Nunes A West Indian at No. 3 is a necessity. Best Mute Me/ PoliteEnquiries host?
  4. Harsha Bhogle (C) Need solidity in the middle order. Moments like these makes Harsha special.
  5. Lisa SthalekarWorld Cup winning captain at #5. Brings experience and analysis to the table.
  6. Gautam Bhimani – Need a transition or a finishing argument? No better than Bhimani, the finisher.
  7. Deep Dasgupta (WK) One of the better analysts at ESPNCricinfo and the keeper in our team.
  8. Ajit Agarkar – Same as above for the analysis but also a Lord’s ton and some wickets too.
  9. Joy Bhattacharjya – The ‘mystery spinner’ in our team. At times, calculative. If the spin does not bamboozle you, Joy Factor definitely will.
  10. Simon Doull – “Field your best XI on the field. Not your most expensive XI.” Cough, cough KXIP.
  11. Pommie Mbangwa Always has a smile. Accurate analysis. A fast bowler in his heyday.

12th Man: Shaun Pollock. – Slowing swinging his way to the commentary box.

Ex-Players XI

  1. Virender Sehwag – “Some CSK batsman thinks it is a government’s job”
  2. Sunil Gavaskar
  3. Kumar Sangakkara (WK)
  4. Kevin Pietersen Here is a day in KP’s life at IPL 2020.
  5. Anjum Chopra (C)
  6. Tom Moody Has some good views about Super Overs.
  7. Ajay Jadeja
  8. Irfan Pathan
  9. L. Sivaramakrishnan
  10. Ian BishopRemember his name? Has the best analysis in world cricket right now in my opinion.
  11. Murali Karthik
Embed from Getty Images

The List

The full list of IPL commentators were as follows:

  • India: Harsha Bhogle, Deep Dasgupta, Rohan Gavaskar, L. Sivaramakrishnan, Murali Karthik, Sunil Gavaskar, Anjum Chopra, Aakash Chopra, Irfan Pathan, Gautam Gambhir, Ashish Nehra, Nikhil Chopra, Sandeep Patil, Sanjay Bangar, Ajit Agarkar, Kiran More
  • New Zealand: Simon Doull, Danny Morrison
  • West Indies: Ian Bishop, Darren Ganga
  • Australia: Michael Slater, Lisa Sthalekar
  • Zimbabwe: Pommie Mbangwa
  • England: Kevin Pietersen, Mark Nicholas
  • Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara
  • South Africa: JP Duminy
  • Cricbuzz Live Panel: Gaurav Kapur, Ajay Jadeja, Gautam Bhimani, Joy Bhattacharjya, Shaun Pollock, Michael Vaughan, Arjun Pandit, Manoj Tiwary, Virender Sehwag
  • Cricinfo Panel: Raunak Kapoor, Tom Moody, Alexis Nunes, Sanjay Manjrekar
  • *Star Sports Dugout: Graeme Swann, Brett Lee, Brian Lara, Scott Styris, Dean Jones

*I did not choose from this list because did not have enough sample size of listening to Star Sports commentary, but you are free to do so.

So from this list, who makes it in YOUR COMMENTATORS XI? COMMENT BELOW AND LET US KNOW! Do check out our other World XI with Twists Articles here, follow our social media pages, and share the article ahead!

Sources: ESPNCricinfo, CricbuzzLive, IPLT20.com, List of Commentators

Image Courtesy: Kevin PietersenTourism Victoria from Australia, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

My Favorite Player from Each Country: Unity In Diversity XI – #5 Will Shock You

“Is there any player you do not like?” asked a friend.

The question stumped me.

I have always remembered loving the game and enjoyed watching cricket on TV, no matter what team or player was playing. One of my fondest childhood cricketing memories was even playing a Bangladesh vs. Zimbabwe Test Series with a friend although we were not from either country. We would memorize every players’ names, imitate each bowling action, and change our batting styles accordingly.

This got me thinking. Why not create A World XI with favorite players from every major cricketing nation?

Today’s Twist – Unity in Diversity:

Create a World XI squad consisting of exactly 1 player from each country. Here are the rules:

  • Pick a player from each of the 12 Test playing nations
  • Pick one more player from an Associate Nation for a total of 13 players.
  • The team should be able to field in an actual match – at least one wicketkeeper and 5 bowling options are necessary

The Catch:

The team should be diverse enough to represent any format – Test, ODI, and T20. Alastair Cook and Shivnarine Chanderpaul are two of my favorite players. Although they would be ideal candidates for an All-Time Test XI, they may struggle in the T20 era.

Who are your favorite players from each country? Comment below with your XI!

The choice for the Associate player would be interesting to see. Maybe it is from a Netherlands team that surprised England in the 2009 T20 World Cup or from the classic Kenya team from 2003? Steve Tikolo, the Obuyas, and Odoyo, remember?

Without further ado, here is my All-Time Favorite XI.

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Unity in Diversity XI

Note, my team only consists of players from the last 20 years.

  1. Rahul Dravid (IND) The Wall—architect of India’s greatest Test victories. My Role-Model.
  2. Tillakaratne Dilshan (SL) Inventor of the Dilscoop. Energetic cricketer, opener, and fielder
  3. Younis Khan (PAK) Tenacious. Beautiful Batting style, conversion rate, and studious?
  4. Ross Taylor (NZ) Does anyone have a better leg side slog? Underrated ODI player.
  5. Nicholas Pooran (WI)WK I think he is the next big talent in West Indies Cricket.
  6. Paul Collingwood (ENG) C Calm captain, good all-rounder, and best fielder of all time.
  7. Shakib Al Hasan (BAN) Bangladesh superstar and one-of the best all rounder of all-time.
  8. Ryan Ten Doeschate (NETH) Averages 67 in ODI cricket after 33 ODIs. A delight to watch.
  9. Rashid Khan (AFG) How much has he achieved already at this age? And the googlies
  10. Brett Lee (AUS) Pace, smooth action, best chainsaw celebration, and great musician
  11. Dale Steyn (SA) Best Test fast bowler? Intensity in the eyes and overseas record
  12. Brendon Taylor (ZIM) Zimbabwe’s best in the current era. Easy on the eye.
  13. Niall O’Brien (IRE) Starred in the upset vs Pakistan in 2007 WC. Love his commentary!

Honorable Mentions

This was a really tough exercise. Maybe even harder than All-Time Test or ODI XIs. Here are just some of the others I considered.

  • INDDinesh Karthik, Mohammad Kaif, Robin Uthappa, and the Golden Generation – Sachin/Sehwag/VVS/Ganguly/Zaheer/Harbhajan/Yuvraj/Raina/MSD
  • SL – Sangakkara-Jayawardene and the M Factor – Mendis, Malinga, Murali
  • Pak – Mohammad Yousuf, Babar Azam, and numerous bowlers including the recently retired Umar Gul
  • NZ: How does one not like every player from New Zealand? Kane Williamson, Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Dan Vettori, and all the rest. Lockie Ferguson – KKR fans?
  • WI – Chanderpaul, Brian Lara, the Universe Boss, and captain Darren Sammy
  • ENG – Marcus Trescothick, Cook, Ian Bell, Jimmy Anderson, Jos Buttler, KP
  • BAN – The Fab Five
  • Associate Nations – Coetzer/Sharif (Scotland)
  • AFG – Mohammad Nabi
  • AUS – Adam Gilchrist
  • SA – Faf Du Plessis, AB De Villiers, Amla, Graeme Smith, Kallis, Morne Morkel, Quinton de Kock
  • ZIM – Tatenda Taibu, Andy Blignaut
  • IRE – Kevin O’Brien, Tim Murtagh, Porterfield, and Eoin Morgan (oops different country now)
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Reflection

I love underdog stories and love discussing cricket at every opportunity.

Whether it is the IPL or a hard fought day of test cricket, The Ashes or the India-Pakistan rivalry, a World Cup Final or the group stage of a qualifying tournament, women’s or men’s cricket, be assured, I will be following.

Diversity is such a beautiful thing. It is completely okay to be a fan of various different players from different countries. As long as the on-field battle is competitive, the game is fair, sportsmanship moments are abundant, and cricket continues to grow, that is all we need.

LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON CRICKET, COMMENT Below on your All-Time Favorites, and SUBSCRIBE!

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

Sources: Vandit (Friend), cricket.com.au, IPLT20.com

Image Courtesy: Getty Images, Sachin Tendulkar – British High Commission, New Delhi, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The Magician With the Yorker – Umar Gul

What is the first image that comes in your mind when you think of a magician? Pulling a rabbit out of the hat? Doing a card trick? Walking on water?

For me, it is a fast in-swinging yorker that dips underneath the bat, surprises the batsman, and castles the stumps.

Let us look back at the magnificent career of someone who did exactly that, Umar Gul – The Magician With the Yorker.

Umar Gul’s retirement evoked an emotional response from all around the world following his final match at the National T20 Cup. Here is our take on Umar Gul’s most memorable moments, his legacy, and what we can learn from him.

COMMENT below on Your favorite Umar Gul memories, SHARE with your friends and family, and SUBSCRIBE below for more such articles.

If you love watching fast bowlers and stumps rattled, stay tuned. Several videos ahead! Watch till the end to listen to Gul in his own words.

The Beginning

Pakistan cricket is known for unearthing fast-bowling talents one after the other, especially left-arm quicks. Pakistan is world cricket’s pace bowling factory. Imran Khan and Sarfaraz Nawaz created a rich legacy.

Over the years, they have produced the intimidating Wasims, Wahabs, and Waqars, the breathtaking Shoaibs and Samis, and the gifted Asifs and Amirs. The list is endless. Recently, with the rise of Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah, it never seems to stop.

Notice something?

Umar Gul, the architect of Pakistan’s 2009 T20 World Cup victory, is not even mentioned. That is exactly how Gul’s career panned—under the radar.

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Debuting in 2003, he burst onto the Test scene later in 2004 against India at Lahore with a brilliant 5-wicket haul and man of the match performance. Unfortunately, injuries kept him out of the squad until he cemented his place later between 2006-2012.

Amidst the artistry from the other end, the numerous controversies and turmoil, and the general ebbs and flows of Pakistan cricket, Umar Gul stayed a constant.

Regardless of whatever happened around him, he just kept swimming.

Pinned his yorkers—day in and day out, consistently took wickets, and bowled at the death.

The Statistics

The Highlights

  • 5th highest wicket-taker in T20I and 2nd highest for a fast-bowler
  • Highest Wicket taker in 2007 and 2009 T20 World Cup
  • Highest Wicket-taker for Pakistan in 2011 ODI World Cup
  • Features twice in top 10 T20I bowling figures – both 5/6 vs New Zealand and South Africa
  • 6th best T20I strike rate among all bowlers

The Stats

Tests: 47 matches, 163 wickets, 34.06 average, Best Innings – 6/135, Best Match – 9/134
ODIs: 130 matches, 179 wickets, 29.34 average, Best 6/42
T20Is: 60 matches, 85 wickets,16.97 average,14.1 strike rate, Best 5/6, 4 4-fors, 2 5-fors
T20s: 167 matches, 222 wickets, 20.16 average, Best 6/24, 9 4-fors, 3 5-fors

The Memory

Umar Gul and the first two T20 World Cups were inseparable. He took 13 wickets in each tournament, ending as the highest wicket-taker in both.

Although Pakistan did not win the 2007 final, his exploits in the world cup were scintillating. One of the moments of the tournament happened earlier when the long and silky haired Gul castled counterpart MS Dhoni.

My favorite memory of Umar Gul though is from the 2009 T20 World Cup. It was just a great World Cup to watch – Netherlands upsetting England courtesy Stuart Broad, the Dilscoop mesmerizing spectators on the international stage, and a clinical Pakistan team.

Gul’s best performance came at a crucial Super 8 stage, when he picked 5 for 6 against New Zealand, reducing them from 73-4 to 99 all out.

Wow.

Due to his death bowling skills, Gul laid a solid platform which led Pakistan to go one step further this time around—winning a World Cup after 27 years.

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The Legacy

The IPL is the flavor of the season right now. Guess what? He even took 4-23 at the IPL with Kolkata Knight Riders in the inaugural season!

Gul was well and truly one of the premier fast bowlers from 2007-2012 across formats. His stellar 6-42 against England was judged as ESPNCricinfo’s Best ODI Bowling Performance of 2010.

He continued his form as Pakistan’s highest wicket-taker in the 2011 ODI World Cup and was a regular member of the international squad till 2013, when injuries began to halt his career. Unfortunately apart from a brief recall in 2016, Gul’s international career was over at the age of 32.

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Gul’s legacy is forever etched in stone with the 2009 World T20 triumph, but his impact in cricket is much more.

He taught the world how to bowl in T20 cricket.

These days, T20 leagues invest in “death-overs specialists” with the likes of Andrew Tye, Jasprit Bumrah, Chris Morris, and Shaheen Afridi, but this would not have been possible without Umar Gul’s contribution. He practically created that spot.

Although death bowling was his focal point, Gul was more than just yorkers.

He had the skills as a proper line and length pace Test bowler but evolved his art with reverse swing, bouncers, and most importantly, change of pace slower deliveries, which was uncommon at that time.

Only Lasith Malinga had a death-overs game to compete with Umar Gul and these two pioneered the art of death bowling in T20 cricket.

What Can We Learn?

Right in the middle of his career, Pakistan cricket entered a tumultuous period. Between 2008-2010, an attack on Sri Lankan cricketers, the 2010 spot-fixing saga, and home games shifting to the U.A.E. jolted Pakistan cricket.

As always, Umar Gul would adapt. New situation, new environment, new teammates. Mentorship has been one of his great characteristics throughout his career.

He partnered with the likes of Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, and Mohammad Irfan to transition to another era. In the dry tracks of UAE, they would find new tricks to the fast bowling trade, bringing life out of these pitches.

Adaptability is what makes Umar Gul great.

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He was not the fastest of the Pakistani bowlers, nor could he swing it like Asif, but he made sure to reinvent himself when the time was required. He was a shrewd and thinking cricketer. Always one step ahead of the batsman. Having a variety of skills is one aspect. Utilizing the skill at the right moment and varying it effectively—now that is what makes him great.

Animated on the field and quiet off the field, he did his duty. He changed cricket and inspired millions of budding cricketers around the world, mentoring youngsters in the domestic team even to the last day.

We can all learn from Umar Gul and apply these traits in our daily life as well. Change is the only constant in life, and we should learn to adjust accordingly. If we focus on the process and continue to improve our skills, there is no reason why we cannot compete with the best in the world.

Life will throw several challenges at you. You may get injured, have a bad day at the office, go through emotional turbulence, but do not worry.

Hang in there and just keep swimming as Umar Gul did.

What will I miss? Personally, I just adored Umar Gul’s action. It was fluent, uncomplicated, had a slight stop, but was straight to the point.

He was truly a magician.

Thank you, Umar Gul. Have a happy and healthy retirement.

Umar Gul in his Own Words

The best way to end this journey is Umar Gul in his own words. A wonderful send-off to a champion bloke. Listen below.

Sources: ESPNCricinfo, ICC, IPLT20.com
Image Courtesy: Getty Images, Umar Gul – the junes, CC 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

IPL Week 3 Recap: Diary

In IPL Week 3, there was Mankading drama, catching brilliance, finally some direct hits, and the brilliance of….none other than AB De Villiers. Oh yeah, and King Kohli is also back.

We recap IPL Week 3 via our Twitter dairy with #BCDoftheDay: Broken Cricket Dream of the Day.

In the first two weeks of IPL 2020, the tournament threw at us Tewatia’s brilliance, Pooran’s save of the century, and the young Indian talent. There were heartbreaks, Super Overs, and even a hit-wicket!

ALSO READ: Unity in Diversity XI and Fantasy Commentators XI

What Was Your Favorite Magic Moment?

We continue our IPL Diary with #BCDoftheDay – Part II – The Halfway Mark. We have several videos linked in the tweet, so you can watch the replay if you missed out.

STAY TILL THE LAST TWEET AND WAIT TILL YOU GET TO DAY 24. WHAT IS YOUR ANSWER TO THE QUESTION?

Comment below your answer as well as your favorite moments of last week. Let us know what you think!

Enjoy the headlines!

Highlights – Week 3

Day 15 – IPL is where you get entertainment, drama, dancing,…,and even comedy!
Day 15 Game 2 – Sharjah is a joke – 227 vs 200 – why be a fast bowler?
Day 16 – Dropped Catches and Redemptions feat Manish Pandey

Day 16 Game 2 – Chris Jordan < Watson + Faf

Day 17 – To Mankad or Not to Mankad, that is the question

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Day 18 – Pollard’s new look trumps Buttler’s brilliance
Day 19 – The worst game of the IPL? Courtesy Choking Chennai Super Kings.

Day 20 – Finally, Finally a DIRECT HIT! It has taken 20 days.

Day 21 – Ashwin vs. Buttler and direct hits galore

Day 22 – King Kohli is back. CSK definitely are not.

Day 23 Game 1 – Tewatia Can Do No Wrong & Riyan Parag Can Dance!

Day 23 Game 2 – Stoinis Out, Delhi Capitals Out

Day 24 – Why AB? Why? WHY DID YOU RETIRE????

Sources: IPLT20.comTwitter

7 REASONS WHY CSK ARE STRUGGLING

CSK has now played 7 games and are ranked 7th with 2 wins and 5 losses in IPL 2020.

A team that has emerged victorious thrice and always qualified for the semi-finals or playoffs are second from the bottom at the half-way mark. Their impeccable record displayed below is in danger.

  • 2010, 2011, 2018 – (Champions), 2008, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2019 (Runners Up), 2009, 2014 (3rd)

From the golden days from 2008-2015 to the Dad’s Old Army comeback win in 2018, CSK have managed to find a way. After the pandemic and subsequent international retirements of MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina, something just does not feel right this time around.

Apart for Faf du Plessis’s acrobatics and consistency at the top of the order and the revelation in Sam Curran, nothing is going right for the Chennai Super Kings. Even Ravindra Jadeja is dropping catches and missing direct hits.

Let us find out why.

After the 7th game, here are 7 Reasons Why CSK Are Struggling.

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1. CSK Prepared for Chennai

Chennai went into the IPL 2020 auction with the MA Chidambaram Stadium (Chepauk) in mind. The pitches at this ground are known to be slow and turning.

At the 2020 IPL auction, CSK acquired Piyush Chawla (leg spinner) and R Sai Kishore (left arm orthodox) to bolster their already strong squad of spinners:

Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Karn Sharma, Harbhajan Singh along with Kedar Jadhav and Suresh Raina

Although Sam Curran and Josh Hazlewood were strong buys, CSK are currently lacking middle order stability and varied fast bowling options on these UAE pitches.

Some of the players they released? Mohit Sharma, Scott Kuggeleijn, David Willey and Sam Billings.

2. Harbhajan and Raina

Before the tournament started, concerns of the bio-secure bubble in CSK’s camp jolted their preparation.

Although 13 players tested positive and later recovered, the casualties were Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh. Both opted out of IPL 2020 for personal reasons.

What are we missing here? Let the stats tell you the story:

Raina: 193 matches, 5368 runs, best of 100*, 1-100/38-50s, and the arguably best IPL inning of all time.
Harbhajan: 160 matches, 150 wickets (5th highest), 7.05 economy, best of 5/18

Suresh Raina has been the best batsman in the IPL and an icon for CSK. CSK are missing a left-right combination at the top, a part-time spinner, and a wonderful fielder.

Without his services, CSK are clearly struggling.

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3. Injuries

Ambati Rayudu had led CSK to victory in the opening game with an unbeaten 71. A hamstring injury ruled him for the next couple of games, which further exposed CSK’s brittle middle order.

Add to that Dwayne Bravo’s knee injury that kept him out of the first five games, CSK really did not have much of a squad to play with.

Without four of their key players for the majority of the first 5 games, it is not difficult to see why CSK are in the current position.

4. Lack of Gametime

In March, the world stopped and so did cricket.

Courtesy England, cricket restarted in the middle of the summer. England, West Indies (international and CPL), Pakistan, Ireland, and Australia had all played some cricket.

Rajasthan Royals have Jos Buttler, Steven Smith, Jofra Archer, Tom Curran, and now Ben Stokes – all having played intense international cricket for the past few months.

CSK is just another story. Sam Curran and Josh Hazlewood (common theme, isn’t it?) are the only two players with decent domestic and international cricket behind them.

Most of the other players have retired from international cricket or domestic cricket. Players like Watson only play IPL and PSL in the entire year.

Dhoni has not played since that run-out. Yes, that one. You know exactly what I am talking about.

  • Dhoni’s previous game before the IPL? 9 July 2019
  • Ambati Rayudu? 17 November 2019
  • Murali Vijay, just a tad better. 9 December 2019
  • Kedar Jadhav – played 2 ODI’s in February 2020 with returns of 26*(15) and a patchy 9 (27) against New Zealand. Before that 25 December 2019.

That was 4 of CSK’s top 6 at one point. Just digest that for a second.

The other one in top 6 being Shane Watson, who except for one innings, has looked out of sorts.

5. Bravo

509 T20 wickets and 6331 runs. What a player.

Dwayne Bravo’s designated role is to be the death overs bowler and lower order finisher for CSK.

He was one of the players expected to be in rhythm with some game time under his belt from the CPL. What actually happened?

He sustained a knee injury in the later stages of the CPL with TKR’s unbeaten run to the top. He was in the team in the final but did not bat or ball.

Hence he missed the first few games for CSK. So apart from having a struggling top 6, CSK were also missing the services of talisman Dwayne Bravo at No. 7.

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6. Lack of Intent and Batting Order

Kedar Jadhav was brutally trolled on Twitter after his lackluster display against KKR a few days ago.

Botched chases have been common for CSK this year. Taking the game deep is no longer an option. Here is CSK’s score at the halfway stage (10 over mark) in each of their games:

  • 70/2 chasing 163 vs. Mumbai Indians (Won)
  • 82/4 chasing 217 vs. Rajasthan Royals (Lost)
  • 47/3 chasing 176 vs. Delhi Capitals (Lost)
  • 44/4 chasing 165 vs. Sunrisers Hyderabad (Lost)
  • 101/0 chasing 179 vs. Kings XI Punjab (Won)
  • 90/1 chasing 168 vs. Kolkata Knight Riders (Lost)
  • 47/2 chasing 170 vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore (Lost)

Two phrases that have come up in every post-match analysis thus far?

Lack of urgency and lack of intent. On air, Kevin Pietersen was extremely critical of Ambati Rayudu’s absence of intensity and energy in running between the wickets in his innings of 42 (40) against RCB.

In each game lost, there has been similar innings’ from the middle order.

  • Dhoni 9(12) (before hitting 3 sixes to get to 29 (17) and the team to 200 vs RR)
  • Vijay’s 10 (15) and Watson’s 14 (16) vs DC
  • Dhoni and Jadeja pushing the required rate up. Needed 78 off 24 before accelerating vs. SRH
  • Kedar Jadhav’s 7 (12) vs. KKR
  • Rayudu’s 40 (42) vs. RCB

The lack of game time is causing each batsman to bide their time, which is hurting the team’s overall performance. Maybe Sam Curran and Ravindra Jadeja should be pushed up the order in the next few games.

You can play for the Net Run Rate as much as you want….but you need the points on the Points Table in the first place for all that to even matter.

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7. Team Management And Aging Squad

CSK is filled with match-winners.

Stephen Fleming and MS Dhoni are known to back people even when they are struggling. The most famous example is the team management persisting with Shane Watson. Watson repaid the faith in 2018 qualifiers/finals and almost took them home in 2019 as well.

Even this year Shane Watson came back with an unbeaten 83*(53) after struggling initially.

The downside of backing match-winners? Players of the quality of Imran Tahir, Lungi Ngidi, Josh Hazlewood, and Mitchell Santner are warming the bench and young Indian talent like Jagadeesan not getting many chances.

And of course, the older the squad, the lower the fielding standards.

Where Can CSK Go From Here?

Is there still hope? Yes. CSK fan’s are recalling the 2010 campaign, when they came back from a similar position to win their maiden IPL trophy.

The Chennai Super Kings can still win, but they need to up their intensity, correct their batting order, put faith in youngsters, utilize the mid-season transfer window wisely, and some magic.

My take? Every great team has its ebbs and flows. Even a once-in-a-generation Spain football (soccer) team of the 2010 FIFA World Cup glory had to bow out in the group stages after an unbeaten run.

Every good thing comes to an end.

Some people are calling Shane Watson to retire. Others have been calling for Dhoni’s. I think it is time that the entire CSK team just retire.

Stephen Fleming and MS Dhoni have led CSK to greatness consistently for over a decade. It is time the Chennai Super Kings start afresh again.

2020 has been a grim year. CSK not qualifying for the playoffs will just set that in stone.

Sources: Cricinfo, IPLT20.com, Cricbuzz
Image Courtesy: Getty Images; Suresh Raina – Image courtesy of Public.Resource.Org via Creative Commons 2.0

Faf du Plessis & AB De Villiers’ Friendship: Broken Dreams of Faf and ABD

In this world, nothing is certain except death, taxes, and South Africa failing to win a World Cup. Faf and ABD know this too well. South African fans know this too well. The 2015 semi-final still hurts (as if the 1999, 1992, 2007, and 2011 World Cups were not bad enough).

Just to rub salt in the wound, even England (and kind of New Zealand) won in 2019 while South Africa endured a dismal campaign.

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This image still resonates. Dale Steyn on his knee, Grant Elliot in a moment of great sportsmanship. On the other side, captain AB de Villiers in tears and Morne Morkel—completely shattered.

Faf and ABD: Tale of Two Heroes

Fast forward to September 2020. The IPL is back. So are Faf and ABD.

Usually it is the West Indians who dominate T20 leagues, but this IPL has been South Africa’s so far. In IPL 2020, Anrich Nortje has been a revelation, while Kagiso Rabada and Quinton de Kock continue to show the world why they are South Africa’s torchbearers to the next generation.

If you saw AB De Villiers’ finishing assault on Bumrah or Faf’s consistency in batting and acrobatic catches, you know that they still have it.

Initially, I was going to write two separate articles about Abraham de Villiers and Francois du Plessis, but that is not possible. You just cannot separate them. They are like brothers from another mothers. If AB is the graceful artist, Faf is the resilient leader. Both are legends of South African cricket.

Today we will talk their careers, their friendship, the heartbreak, what could have been, and what could still be.

While AB De Villiers has retired from international cricket (for the time being), Faf continues on. Can Faf fulfill the broken dream of ABD and win South Africa a trophy?

*as of 19 November 2021, AB De Villiers has retired from all cricket because “the flame no longer burns.” Faf Du Plessis himself was ignored from South Africa’s team for the 2021 T20 World Cup and has retired from Tests.

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*Please subscribe to never miss an article! Comment below on your favorite memories of ABD and Faf, and share ahead!

The Beginning

AB de Villers and Faf Du Plessis have been competing on and off the cricket field since middle school. They both went to the same school and university – Afrikaans High School (Affies) and University of Pretoria respectively. Over the years, their friendship has evolved with AB becoming Faf’s best man in his wedding.

Although their personal lives carried smoothly, their careers took vastly different routes.

The South African team under Graeme Smith was the only team that could challenge Australia at their home and would rise to the No.1 Test rankings. With the great Jacques Kallis, Boucher, Ntini, and Pollock, breaking into this team was not an easy task. AB was recognized early as a prospect and was tracked into the national team in 2004. In a couple of years’ time, he had established himself and by 2008, the Perth special guaranteed his journey into greatness.

On the other hand, Faf had to toil his way through domestic cricket, season after season. He even temporarily played in England with a Kolpak deal. Although Faf was becoming disillusioned, AB encouraged him to keep the hope alive with the imminent retirements of Smith and Kallis.

7 years after AB, finally Faf’s day came. It started with an epic.

Faf du Plessis had to wait for his turn in international cricket. When he did get his turn, he took his chance and followed a first innings 78 with a valiant fourth innings match-saving century against Australia in Adelaide.

The Stats

AB De Villiers

Ab De Villiers will go down as one of the All-Time greatest ODI players. Not only is his statistics out of the world – an average above 50 and strike rate above 100, it is the manner in which he changed the game. He was an innovator with his unconventional shots and created the idea of a “360 degree player.” A versatile cricketer, he could adapt to any format, situation, or challenge at hand. He could score 149*(44) or defend 43(354) in a blockathon. Apart from his batting, he can keep wickets, field in any position, and captain.

Can also play hockey, football, rugby, badminton, swim, win science competitions, sing, and has written an autobiography.

Retired from international cricket in 2018 and is a star at RCB.

Records: Fastest ODI 50/100/150, 78 test innings without a duck (most), South Africa’s 2nd highest ODI run scorer and fourth highest test run scorer.

  • Test: 114 matches, 8765 runs, average 50.66, best of 278*, 22-1 00s/46-50s
  • ODI: 228 matches, 9577 runs, average 53.50, 101.90 strike rate, best of 176, 25-100s/53-50s
  • T20I: 78 matches, 1672 runs, average 26.10, 135.16 strike rate, best of 79*, 10-50s

Faf Du Plessis

Faf is one of the most underrated batsman in the current era. He is known for his strong character through his ability to counter tough situations. Like AB, he easily adapts between formats, from blockathons and saving Test matches to becoming a successful T20 batsman with shots like the scoop. Although he is a dependable batsman, he is known for his captaincy – the ability to guide South Africa through tough rebuilding phases as well as the reformation time. And of course, his fielding.

Records: Centuries in all formats as a captain, first player to score century in a day-night Test

  • Test: 65 matches, 3901 runs, average 39.80, best of 137, 9-100s/21-50s
  • ODI: 143 matches, 5507 runs, average 47.47, 88.60 strike rate, best of 185, 12-100s/35-50s
  • T20I: 47 matches, 1407 runs, average 34.31, 134.12 strike rate, best of 119, 1-100/8-50s

The Match That Broke South Africa

The Match

24 March, 2015. New Zealand vs. South Africa at Auckland. The Proteas were arguably the favorites. Since South Africa were in the semi-finals, there had to be the obligatory rain and net run-rate calculations.

South Africa posted an excellent total with Faf, ABD, and Miller finishing the innings well. In response, McCullum blazed away against Dale Steyn, briefly collapsed, and recovered with the Grant Elliot-Corey Anderson steady partnership. Five needed in two, and Elliot hit Dale Steyn over long on for the victory.

A once-in-a-lifetime special innings from Grant Elliot. Grant Elliot, superman.

The Consequence

The great South African generation broke down, both mentally and physically. It was a slow degeneration over the next four years.

Kyle Abbott picked the Kolpak route as a direct result of being dropped for Vernon Philander on the eve of the match due to political pressure and the quota system. Other talents like Rilee Rossouw, Simon Harmer, and Duanne Olivier would follow.

Vernon Philander himself would wane off in a couple of years. Dale Steyn, a fast bowler who was rarely injured for over a decade began picking up freak injuries. Morne retired from international cricket early for Kolpak while ABD retired early to manage T20 leagues loads, a year before the 2019 World Cup.

2019 was a disaster. Numerous injuries, media reports, and the end of illustrious careers of Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, and Imran Tahir.

Only Faf du Plessis survived. Barely.

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Legacy

Faf symbolizes resilience and commitment. After the crushing 2019 campaign, Faf had the choice to hang up his boots but he decided to give back to South African cricket.

The rest of the golden era had retired. What did Faf do? He remained in the game and stayed as captain to absorb all the pressure and criticism. He worked extremely hard, transitioned towards a new team, and inspired the youngsters around him. All with a smile.

Since Faf had to wait seven more years for a South African cap, he cherished every moment as a South African cricketer and realized the struggle of others that have to wait in the wings or are thinking about going to England.

AB De Villiers was the catalyst to South Africa’s fortunes and changed cricket forever with his inventive batting. His premature retirement and the controversies around picking and choosing gained a lot of traction among critics and fans alike, but he had a point. More than anything, he was a victim of an overkill of cricket—it does take a physical and mental toll on you. He gave 14 years to South Africa, playing all formats continuously, and we should appreciate that.

What Can We Learn?

Cricket is unpredictable, a dropped catch or run-out can change the game. Similarly, life is unpredictable. Sometimes the best do not end up victorious, but how an individual responds to tough situations is important.

Faf just never gave up. Whether saving a test match, dealing with ball-tampering allegations, or managing captaincy issues, he just never gave up. Even if the ball is traveling with speed and is seemingly going for a six, just keep your nerve and hang on. You never know, you may pull off a catch.

What does ABD teaches us? Never stop learning and improving. He was regarded as the future of South Africa pretty early on, and he put in everything for them. He kept wickets despite back injuries, opened the batting, finished innings, and captained tough situations, and learned to evolve with time.

Your only competition is with you. Even when AB was at his best, he continued to reinvent self. Your best can always get better.

They both did it differently, but Faf and AB have been inspirational in their own rights. When they batted together, you realized that South Africa was in good hands. They were just a delight to watch, and we hope the very best to them and South Africa in the future.

Where can the Proteas go from here?

Although domestic talent is continuously drained into the Kolpak system, the quota system has been controversial, and systemic discrimination has to be dealt with, all is not lost.

This IPL has shown that Faf is ever dependable, ABD still has some magic, and de Kock is ready to take more responsibility. With stars in Kagiso Rabada, Nortje, and Chris Morris, who knows, 2021 T20 World Cup is where South Africa bounces back.

For South Africa to succeed in 2021, Faf needs ABD, and ABD needs Faf. South Africa and cricket fans around the world— we want them both together, one final time.

Comment below on your thoughts about the article or your favorite memories of AB De Villiers and Faf Du Plessis.

If you liked this tribute, please check out tributes to Rahul Dravid, Lasith Malinga, and Ellyse Perry along with other such cricketing heroes.

Sources: Cricinfo, IPLT20.com, cricket.com.au, #ProteasFire-Youtube

Image Courtesy: Getty Images

Broken Cricket Dreams of the Day: IPL Edition I

Broken Cricket Dreams of the Day will be a diary of IPL 2020.

Every day, we tweet #BCDoftheDay or #BrokenCricketDreamoftheDay and capture some of the most unfortunate events of the day.

We have already had some interesting ones – David Warner run-out as a non-striker, Hardik Pandya’s hit wicket, Ishan Kishan’s and Mayank Agarwal’s broken dreams to name a few.

Highlight

In any case, the IPL is finally back! We have so much drama already.

A couple of Super Overs, Rahul Tewatia’s magic, Pooran’s effort, CSK’s downfall (too soon?), and my favorite of all – the youngsters on the show.

Devdutt Padikkal, Ravi Bishnoi, Shubman Gill, Mavi and Nagarkoti repaying KKR’s faith, and today Priyam Garg and Abhishek Sharma with SRH. Several like Yashashvi Jaiswal and Tom Banton yet to fire, but we will definitely be watching.

For every match of the IPL, we start with leading question or highlight of the day.

What was YOUR highlight of the day or do you have a response to the question?

COMMENT BELOW On YOUR THOUGHTS AND BROKEN DREAMS from IPL 2020 so far!

Well anyway, here is my take on the first two weeks of the IPL through tweets!

Broken Cricket Dreams of the Day – IPL Edition Week 1

Day 1 – The IPL is back!!! The fitness is not (except for Faf, of course)
Day 2 – Super Over Loss for KXIP. Can Punjab bounce back?
Day 3 – Unfortunate Run-out, injuries to Marsh, Rashid concussion…
Day 4 – Come on CSK…Go for the win not just the net-run rate.
Day 5 – Hit wicket anyone?
Day 6 – Kohli and dropped catches?

But in all reality, a day to mourn for the cricket community to honor Dean Jones—a life well-lived.

Day 7 – Are Delhi Capitals favorites for the tournament?

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Week 2

Day 8 – Saha struggles, Shubman succeeds
Day 9 – Does anyone have worse luck than Mayank Agarwal in Indian Cricket?
Day 10 – Ishan Kishan. Enough said.
Day 11 – Is there a better IPL death bowler than Kagiso Rabada?
Day 12 – Cool Morgan trumps Archer’s pace
Day 13 – Rohit Sharma vs KXIP (aka the new RCB)
Day 14 – CSK’s Dad’s Army vs SRH’s young guns

Sources: IPLT20.com, Twitter

Image Source: KL Rahul – Bhimappa Shivappa Badakannavara / CC BY-SA 4.0