April 26, 2011

Post the World Cup, we are once again in the middle of hectic cricket. While the Indian Premier League is keeping many of us on our toes, many countries like Pakistan and Australia are keeping their commitments as per the ICC calendar.

It’s also a time for change as the old guard paves way for the new. New coaches, new captains and fresh ideas, cricket nowadays is like a rolling stone. Pakistan ‘s cricket is also moving in the right direction.

Saturday’s emphatic eight-wicket win against the West Indies in the first ODI at St Lucia will be a shot in the arm for the Pakistan team. Asad Shafiq, who proved himself during the World Cup, scored an unbeaten 61 and featured in a match-winning stand with Misbah-ul-Haq. Folks like Shafiq are the future of Pakistan cricket.

I think the national selectors are making the right moves. They are thinking of long-term success and if a veteran stalwart like Younus Khan has been dropped, I thing it is a good move. Younus is no longer in the selectors’ scheme of things as far as limited overs cricket is concerned. The selectors seem to have started the rebuilding process keeping in mind the World T20 in Sri Lanka next year.

Pakistan ‘s cricket fans and the administration should be lauded for the way they accepted the World Cup semifinal defeat against India . It was a mature act and fortunately, emotions did not get the better of any party. Nobody expected Pakistan to qualify for the World Cup semifinal. Yes, Pakistan lost to India but Dhoni and team were better on the day. Pakistani fans, for the first time, accepted that cricket is just a game.

Cricket has always been a great medium to thaw the relationship between both the countries and hence India and Pakistan should play regularly. The fact that we may have a bilateral series soon is good news. I have read in newspapers that a hockey series is also being planned. I have always said sporting ties should always be maintained, irrespective of the prevailing political climate.

Coming back to IPL, the recent controversy over Sri Lankan players being asked to return home early to prepare for the England series was totally unnecessary. Weren’t the Sri Lankan authorities aware of the IPL itinerary? I am sure if cricket administration is left to pragmatic and sporty people, such issues will never surface. Anyway, playing in the league will serve the Sri Lankan players better ahead of the England tour. It’s a lot better than practising in the nets. I am happy that the whole thing has been sorted out.

IPL is slowly picking up momentum. After such a fantastic World Cup, it was expected the first couple of weeks of IPL will be rather tepid. But the intensity is rising as the new teams are playing well and no one can be a favourite in this brand of cricket. Chris Gayle’s 55-ball century against Kolkata, Harbhajan’s five-wicket haul versus Chennai and Sehwag’s 35-ball 77 against Punjab is nothing but pure entertainment. The IPL is all about this. Take it, or leave it!

Courtesy: www.espnstar.com

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