Thursday, 16 August 2012

Pakistan vs India U19 CWC 2012 Quarter Final Preview

Pakistan under-19s will lock horns with India earlier than both teams would have expected and hoped for at the quarter final stage on Monday at the Tony Ireland stadium. It will be televised. India failed to win their group whereas Pakistan won all 3 matches with comfortable ease. The most awaited game of the tournament should be a cracking contest. Both of these two teams were strong contenders for the title and they would have wanted to avoid each other before the semis, but the sad reality is that one of them will be knocked out and fail to reach the semis on Monday. Between them they have featured in 5 finals at the U19 CWC since 2004, winning 3 of them. Both teams come with a strong history and reputation at this level and they will want to protect and strengthen that here.

The last 3 times they have met Pakistan haven’t lost a single encounter, but all encounters have gone down to the wire and been close fought games. The margins of victory are as follows:-

- 2 wicket win in a rain reduced game with 3 balls to spare at 2010 U19 CWC QF
- 1 run win in U-19 Asia Cup on 24th June
- Last ball tie in U-19 Asia Cup Final on 1st July

Just like in 2010 they will be meeting at the quarter final stage at the Under 19 World Cup. Will India be knocked out again or will they get their revenge?

India’s Strengths

Exposure of playing on television in front of the cameras
Exposure of playing at the wicket here at the Tony Ireland Stadium
The ’Unmukt Chand’ factor
Defensive play of their batsmen who all have sound techniques
Playing Spin

India’s Weaknesses

Attacking the short ball, a clear area of vulnerability
Lack of depth and explosiveness in the batting
Hesitancy in the running between the wickets
Heavy over reliance on Chand

Pakistan’s Strengths

Opening combination
Late order hitting

Pakistan’s Weaknesses

Seam attack
Lack of television exposure
Lack of a 6th bowling option
One dimensional spin attack

Potential MOMs

Chand – big match player, in form captain, most prized Indian wicket

Baba – made a significant score with the bat against Pakistan in the last match and bowls off spinners which will be useful against the many Pakistani left handed batsmen and all-rounders

Sharma – experienced customer with ball in hand

Babar Azam – already has 2 MOMs in the tournament, in form captain

Sami Aslam – player of the tournament in SA triangular series and U19 Asia Cup 2012

Ehsan Adil – bowled heroically in the tied encounter, taking 3 wickets and holding his nerve in the final over


As Pakistan topped their group and have the winning momentum behind them, they will be bitterly disappointed to lose, perhaps even more so than India. They have the edge over India at this level in recent times. I am backing them to win, but they’ll have to play well and it won’t come easily. Runs on the board will be important; the pressure of chasing in a knockout game can easily get to the chasing side and it will be no different here.

How well Pakistan adapts to the conditions at this particular stadium and the pressures of playing under the cameras which will be a new experience for several of these players will be a decisive factor.

Both teams have a consistent and established opening pair. Whoever puts on a higher opening stand and goes on to make a bigger score will probably determine the outcome of the game. It’s the As (Aslam, Azam) vs. the Cs (Chand, Chopra). Both have scored 3 50+ scores between them for both sides in the pool matches. Both have put on a stand of over 100 for the 1st wicket during the pool matches. Both bat well in partnership and a have a sound understanding of each other’s games.

Key Battles

Sharma vs. Azam – Sharma nips the ball about both ways with not a great amount of pace. He has been likened to Praveen Kumar. With 2 new balls, mirroring international cricket, he could cause the right hander a few problems. Azam has been dismissed by Sharma in the previous U19 CWC quarter final in New Zealand when he was bowled through the gate by an inswing delivery. Azam will need to be cautious and try to see him off.

Adil vs. Chopra – Another opening bowler vs. opening batsmen battle where games are decided so often, but particularly relevant here with two gifted opening combinations for both sides. Chopra looks extremely susceptible to the short pitched delivery from the 2 games we have seen India play live in this tournament. With Adil’s height one would think he’ll bowl back of a length and try to bounce him out.

Pakistan spinners vs. Indian batsmen – Pakistan play 3 front line spinners, 2 left arm spinners and one right arm leg spinner. They are a spin dominated attack, bowling around 30 overs in the innings combined more often than not. India will need to play them well to get a decent total. It’s a big part of the game.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Robin Van Persie: A statement of intent from Manchester United

The signing of Robin Van Persie has been agreed by Manchester United and Arsenal for a fee of £24m. The deal is still dependent on the formalities of a successful medical and agreeing personal contract details. This has brought to an end one of this summers biggest transfer rambling. Van Persie, or RVP as he is called, had openly stated he was not willing to sign a new contract and that left him open to a move away from the north London club.

Over the last few years, Manchester United have lost out to some of their bigger transfer targets as rival clubs came through with bigger financial packages. Even this year, Sir Alex's biggest target was Lucas Moura. The deal took an age and with everything agreed in came PSG and signed the 19 year old Brazilian up for, what is reported, an astronomical amount of money. With Kagawa and Nick Powell already in, some thought that was it for this window by United, but no Fergie wanted to make a statement.

A statement of intent was needed, not just to strengthen the personnel within the squad but to send out a message to the competitors; a statement to the rest of the squad that this is United and we will stay at the top.

In a space of 24 hours, a deal has been struck with Arsenal to go with Danny Welbeck signing a new deal; add that to the signing of Chilean 18 year old, Anjelo Henriquez also signing on the dotted line. That makes it three strikers signing up in this time.

Now the question is how United will play, and the answer no-one but Fergie knows. I for one see it as a diamond with Carrick, Scholes, Anderson, Fletcher and Jones able to play at the base with Kagawa or Welbeck playing at the tip. Either way, United now have a strike duo who scored 71 goals combined last season and finished player and runner-up of the season. The statement has been made, now over to you City; let's see what you are made off.