Prem Panicker

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Prem has been writing about cricket since 1996 -- and sometimes wishes he hadn't.

Blog Posts by Prem Panicker

  • Live: Pakistan versus West Indies

    Live scorecard, video highlights and all that good stuff.

    Last update:

    Ravi Rampaul, whose inclusion ahead of Andre Russell was largely due to his five-for against India, got another chance with the ball in the 18th over. And Mohammed Hafeez greeted him with a square drive you would have called exquisite -- and regretted it, because the next ball was cover driven with such skill and grace, you'd have had no adjectives left.

    There are times when doing something makes no sense -- and right now, this blog and its five-over updates falls in that category. This game is over; Pakistan is on the verge of sealing one of the most emphatic wins ever in a World Cup competition between full nations, and there is nothing left to 'update'.

    Pakistan's performance has been scarily close to perfection -- a couple of blemishes in the field, a momentary lapse in concentration, are the only 'lapses' you could maybe point at, if you were in a particularly carping mood.

    Against that, the West Indies

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  • Open mike

    So yesterday I was reading this column by one of our legendary former players and it freaked me out.

    Here it is.

    What strikes you about it -- besides the fact that the background music is the sound of an axe being ground -- is how neatly it divides itself into two parts. The first part talks about how stupid the 'so called experts' (having observed the gent's style for the best part of two decades, I'll make an educated guess that his target is someone, or a few someones, who are part of the panel on one of those TV talk shows) are in calling for the inclusion of Ravichandra Ashwin. And the second half of the column is about how Ashwin is a real talent and deserves to be included.


    Putting the signature stamp on this is the throwaway line: "Remember these 'experts' wanted Greg Chappell as India's coach too." Nice. Plays right into the anti-Chappell ethos that is still prevalent even as his successor, having finished a full stint, counts down to departure.

    But in the spirit of

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  • Live Blog: India versus West Indies in Chennai

    West Indies all out 187

    Perhaps it was in the fitness of things that Ashwin got the final wicket -- his bowling was the lone bright spot during the opening exchanges of the chase, and largely responsible for the Windies not being able to break entirely free.

    And with that, it is India versus Australia on Thursday. Thanks for the company, I'm off to do the match report, which should be up on Yahoo in the next few minutes.

    West Indies: Overs 36-40:

    Just once in a while, cricket provides an extraordinary sight -- the sort you can dine out on for decades. This phase provided one such, courtesy Munaf Patel.

    His fielding at fine leg and third man has been a positive embarrassment, but that is nothing compared to his time honored practice of never, ever, backing up when he is bowling. His typical ploy is to stand in mid pitch, gesticulating wildly, contorting his face in disappointment when a fielder's dive fails to live up to his exacting theoretical standards, and generally allowing

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  • Out, damned spots!

    Thanks to England's brinkmanship, Ireland's rare courage, Pakistan's unpredictable traveling circus and suchlike, news that otherwise would have made the front pages has been flying under the radar.

    There was the incident during the India-Netherlands game at the Kotla, when a news channel spotted a certain Pradeep Agarwal in the Indian dressing room -- an area that, per ICC rules, is strictly for players and accredited officials only.

    Agarwal has an unsavory history, laced liberally with words such as 'bookie'. The same channel had, back in 2008 during an IPL fixture between Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals, kicked up a fuss about Agarwal's presence in the Daredevils changing area and had him evicted.

    Now he is back, as the DDCA's media coordinator for the World Cup -- a role that gives him access, however temporary, to the Indian dressing room. The entry of non-accredited persons into the dressing room requires the clearance of the ICC's anti-corruption unit. Post the event RN

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  • That sinking feeling

    In all the ongoing debate about whether the minnows should, or should not, be part of cricket's biggest stage, there is one aspect that gets little or no consideration: the feelings of the minnows themselves.

    Former Test opener Aakash Chopra remedies that, in a column for Yahoo that asks: Do you know what it means to feel inadequate? Aakash has been there, done that:

    Their predicament reminds me of my time in the Dutch league. Ours was the weakest club in the group and despite out best efforts, we couldn't cross the finishing line. We took the first few losses on the chin and increased the number of hours in every practice session. But when the chain of losing matches didn't break for another few weeks, the spirit within the team shattered. The numbers at practice sessions started to dwindle and the matches became a drag. There's nothing worst in sport than the knowledge that you're the second best even before the encounter. Yet, there would be certain individuals in every team who

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  • Live: India versus England

    India: Overs 6-10: 58/1; Tendulkar 19 off 28; Gambhir 3 off 8

    England recalibrated its game plan and settled on a length on the short side and line of off and middle, looking to cramp Sehwag. The batsman though seemed quite happy to work the ball off the hips in front of or behind square.

    Anderson tested his reflexes with a slow bouncer – one of those inventions geared to the shorter form of the game – and Sehwag parked himself on the back foot, waited for an age, and then smashed a forehand drive over the head of the mid on fielder posted midway back to the fence.

    Shehzad’s first spell of 3-0-16-0 had been less than inspirational; Strauss took him off and brought on Tim Bresnan. What followed was fascinating – Bresnan went wide of the crease, bowled the very full length, and angled the ball into the base of off stump; Sehwag responded by moving onto the front foot and playing with some caution. Along came the sucker punch – the shorter ball outside off; Sehwag looked to open the bat

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  • Live: Australia versus New Zealand

    Apologies to our readers -- we are having some issues with the platform; we will be back live tomorrow, and in the interim we will work on resolving these issues so your experience is optimal.

    New Zealand: Overs 16-20: 83/6

    Finally, a ball that deserved a wicket: Shaun Tait, off the last ball of the 17th over, fired a yorker in on perfect length and fast as you like; Ross Taylor, still to recover from the earlier snorter, had no chance to keep that one out of his stumps; it didn't help that he was in a tangle and playing all around the line of the ball anyway (Taylor 7 off 22; NZ 73 for 6).

    At the 20 over mark, Jamie How and Nathan McCullum have been together for three overs and have added 10 runs. In context of all that has gone before, that seems like a miracle in itself.

    No, seriously -- this kind of self-inflicted misery would have seemed shabby in a team classed in the "minnow" category. From a side like New Zealand, even given its recent run of 'form', this is little short of

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  • Live: West Indies versus South Africa


    The rain has gone away and AB has duly completed his 100. This World Cup has already seen a few -- but run for run, AB's knock is up there with the best on view, if only for the sheer scintillating quality of strokeplay on offer.

    The Proteas are at the time of writing this 16 runs away from the target. This game is done, and so am I.

    Back tomorrow, live on the blog, for our first real look at the Aussies as they take on New Zealand. See you then.

    It's raining...

    And the only difference it really makes is to de Villiers, who at the time of writing this, with SA 199/3 in 38, is 3 short of a superlative century. With the Proteas way ahead on the Duckworth-Lewis table, and in actual fact just 24 shy with 12 overs to go, this game is done and dusted.

    There were two moments when it looked like we could have a contest. The first was when Darren Bravo was lighting up the field with his batting; the second, when two Proteas batsmen went back into the hut with startling rapidity.

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  • The good, the bad, and the ugly

    The 2007 World Cup in the West Indies was an unmitigated disaster -- not only because of the murder of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, or because of the impossibly extended nature of a competition that, as my friend Rahul Bhattacharya once put it, is still going on somewhere in the Caribbean, or because the early exit of India and Pakistan robbed fans from those two countries of any desire to endure the rest of the tournament, but because the organizers made the mistake of forgetting that cricket is, finally, all about the fans.

    Stringent measures in the name of "security" meant that the locals couldn't bring their preferred alcohol into the grounds. Musical instruments were banned as well. And cricket in the Caribbean without liquor and music is, well... it's just not cricket, put it that way.

    Realization dawned only midway through the tournament -- and then the organizers made a bad situation (empty stands) worse by giving away tickets for free -- a proceeding that pissed off those who

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  • They the People

    On Cricinfo, Sambit Bal calls this the 'People's Cup'. Every event needs a catchy slogan, and this one is as good as it gets.

    Nowhere does it say slogans need to be accurate, though. On the same site, another story on ticket distribution underlines just how much of a 'People's Cup' this one isn't. Consider this sample clip (Emphasis mine) :

    In Kolkata, the focus at the moment is on accepting the fact that the India v England match has actually been shifted out of the Eden Gardens. Ticket distribution is now focussed on handing out the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB)'s large share of their quota tickets amongst members and affiliate clubs, a practice which is also common in Mumbai. "There is no panic now," said an official in Kolkata, "because there aren't going to be fist-fights at the counter." And Punjab Cricket Association said tickets for matches in Mohali would go on sale from February 21, "including for the semi-final."

    This lopsidedness in ticket sales had been caused, an

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