We gave about 20 runs too many: Rahul Sharma

Outplayed by Chennai Super Kings at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium, the Pune Warriors India are now at the bottom of the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013’s points table. Although they claimed a couple of early wickets after MS Dhoni opted to bat, they could not contain the CSK line-up as Suresh Raina and S Badrinath milked the attack before MS Dhoni smashed the ball around the park in a late onslaught. While bowling in the death, which continues to be an area of concern, PWI top and middle order succumbed to the visitors. Chasing 165 they fell 37 runs short of the target on Tuesday evening.

Leg-spinner Rahul Sharma who opened the bowling for the hosts and finished with one for 27 spoke to iplt20.com after the loss and reflected on the game.

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Pune Warriors pull of coup on Kings territory

Pune Warriors India put an end to Chennai Super Kings winning streak at home with a 24 run win at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Monday. Having posted 159 on the back of Aaron Finch and Steven Smith’s contributions, PWI pegged back CSK’s run chase with regular wickets to finish on top.

Chasing 160, CSK were jolted early as Bhuvneshwar Kumar trapped Srikkanth Anirudha (0) leg before and bowled a fantastic first over maiden. Murali Vijay was given a reprieve on 1 as Tirumalasetti Suman dropped a sitter. Suman however redeemed himself by pouching Suresh Raina (8) off Kumar. Abhishek Nayar then had Vijay (24) caught by Ross Taylor to leave CSK at 40 for 3.

Subramaniam Badrinath (34) along with Ravindra Jadeja consolidated for CSK putting on 46 runs for the fourth wicket before Mitchell Marsh had the former caught by Smith at long-off. PWI continued to chip away at the wickets as Marsh struck again dismissing Jadeja (27). With CSK needing 61 off 30 balls, Rahul Sharma got rid of Dwayne Bravo (1) to leave the hosts six wickets down in the 16th over. Ashok Dinda picked up the important wicket of MS Dhoni (10) leaving CSK needing a miracle for a win. CSK eventually finished 24 runs short.

Earlier PWI elected to bat after winning the toss and they started positively as Finch hit three boundaries in the first over off Dirk Nannes. He continued to dominate the CSK bowling smashing two boundaries off Jadeja and then two more off Nannes’ 5th. PWI raced to 48 for 0 in their power play.

Jadeja provided CSK their first breakthrough having Finch (67) stumped by Dhoni after the Australian had launched him for a six the previous delivery. Chris Morris then struck, dismissing Robin Uthappa (26) caught at long off to bring CSK back into the game. Steve Smith playing his first game of the season put Bravo away for consecutive boundaries to get a move on. Morris struck again dismissing Taylor (8) and Bravo then had Marsh (2) walk back. Smith (39*) provided a late flourish with a six and a boundary off Nannes before reverse flicking Bravo for a six. PWI finished their 20th over at 159 for 5.

Man-of-the-match: Steve Smith

Brief Scores: Pune Warriors India 159 for 5 (Aaron Finch 67, Chris Morris 2-25) defeated Chennai Super Kings 135 for 8 (Subramaniam Badrinath 34, Bhuvneshwar Kumar) by 24 runs.

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Big Names Out

Michael Clarke’s unavailability for the entire duration of the tournament is a big blow for Warriors.

Ross Taylor is likely to miss the latter half of the tournament due to New Zealand’s tour to England. And Tamim Iqbal, who injured himself during an ODI in Sri Lanka last week, is unlikely to be available for at least the first half of the tournament due to Bangladesh’s tour of Zimbabwe.

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Warriors look for revival at home

In a long tournament such as the IPL, one would be wise not to draw large conclusions from some early signs teams might display in their first few games. Pune Warriors would know that well. Last year, they began brightly, winning their first two matches, including one at the superb new stadium on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway in front of a capacity home crowd. Things were looking up, but only temporarily, as Warriors’ fortunes slid rapidly. They won just two of their next 14 games.

This season, their campaign has begun with a defeat, in a game they should have won, and Warriors will be hoping for a reversal that’s as stark as the one they experienced in 2012. They were tied down in a small chase by some excellent bowling by Sunrisers Hyderabad, and their batting needs to come good against the Kings XI Punjab attack that can be a tricky opponent.

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Pepsi IPL 2013 begins with a starry, starry night

A grand and glittering opening ceremony heralded the start of the Pepsi IPL 2013 in style at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium. The venue resembled a star-studded galaxy with embellished lightings, the world’s cricket stars and performing entertainers.

Renowned artists from the entertainment industry, the likes of international rapper Pitbull and Bollywood actor and co-owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders, Shah Rukh Khan, along with Katrina Kaif and Deepika Padukone owned the stage and held sway over the packed audience. Besides the celebrities performing, the stage was also set on fire by flying drummers, Chinese percussionists and breathtaking fireworks.

Amid all the glitz and glamour cricket held its limelight in a suave and dignified way. The captains of the nine teams participating in IPL 2013 took centre stage when they joined hands to pledge adherence to the belief, ‘Play hard, Play fair’ by signing on the MCC Spirit of Cricket board. Former India cricketer and current commentator, Ravi Shastri administered the oath.

The moment that surprised and stunned close to 45,000 people present at the stadium came just before the captains signed the MCC Spirit of Cricket oath. A girl clad in white appeared over the arena, swinging a bunch of colourful balloons, carrying the Pepsi IPL 2013 Trophy. She stopped at the centre and handed over the trophy to the captain of the current holders, Gautam Gambhir.

Salt Lake Stadium, one of the biggest football arenas in Asia, was packed and alive with the noise of passionate fans. The people of Kolkata reserved the loudest cheers for their adopted son and captain of KKR, Gautam Gambhir and team owner, SRK.

The Bollywood superstar began his performance by thanking the West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Bannerjee, BCCI President, N Srinivasan, IPL Chairman, Rajeev Shukla and IPL COO, Sundar Raman for their presence at the event.

He then set the arena on a foot-tapping mode by dancing to a few hit numbers from his movies. He also displayed some of his moves to the tune of well known Bengal musicians, Bappi Lahiri and Usha Uthup.

The last performance of the day was from Pitbull, who engaged the crowd and started a party. The Pitbull show lasted well into the evening after the Opening Nite was over.

Those who attended the event, it was an evening that culminated with tired feet, sore throats and memories of an unforgettable time at Salt Lake Stadium!

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Tournament opener hit by injuries

For much of IPL 2012, Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils were the form teams favoured to make it to the summit clash. Knight Riders got there and won it, putting the horrors of seasons past behind them. Daredevils always promised so much, but in 2012 they inexplicably left out top wicket-taker Morne Morkel from the knockout against Chennai Super Kings, a decision that contributed to their heavy defeat.
The pre-season build-up has been bad news for Daredevils, who have had to suffer high-profile pullouts. Kevin Pietersen will miss the entire tournament due to a knee injury sustained in New Zealand, while Jesse Ryder was set to fly to India before being assaulted in Christchurch. The franchise has just replaced him with the Australian batsman Ben Rohrer, but their troubles do not end there.

Virender Sehwag, who captained Daredevils last year, is also doubtful for the opening game on Wednesday with a back spasm. Morkel will miss at least the first game because he is in South Africa representing Titans in the final stages of their domestic T20 competition. Mahela Jayawardene, who took over as full-time captain, will have to deal with a depleted batting line-up.

Knight Riders don’t have a fully fit squad at their disposal either. Brendon McCullum is yet to join the squad in India, as he is recovering from a hamstring injury sustained during the England Tests. James Pattinson, the Australia fast bowler, is resting at home, as advised by Cricket Australia following the Test tour of India. Jacques Kallis is only just returning from injury and Gautam Gambhir, the captain, has just recovered from jaundice and insists he is fit to play from game one. On paper, Knight Riders look the stronger side and playing at home will give them an edge.

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Finch to replace Clarke for Pune Warriors

Aaron Finch will replace Michael Clarke in the Pune Warriors squad for the sixth IPL season after Clarke was ruled out of the entire season with a back injury. Finch, another top-order batsman, tweeted the development and is expected to leave for India on Saturday.

Finch will be joining his third IPL franchise after playing for Rajasthan Royals in 2010 and Delhi Daredevils in 2011 and 2012. He was released by Delhi in November 2012 and went unsold in the auction on February 3 at a base price of $200,000.

He represents Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League and averaged 66.40 in eight matches last season, scoring 332 runs with a highest score of 111 not out. However, he scored only 4, 7 and 1 for Australia in the three T20Is in January against Sri Lanka and West Indies.

Overall, he has scored 1699 runs in 58 domestic T20 matches at 36.14 with a strike-rate of 130.49.

The Warriors will be captained by Angelo Mathews this season.

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Angelo Mathews named Pune Warriors’ captain

Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lanka allrounder, will lead Pune Warriors in IPL 2013. Mathews takes over Warriors’ captaincy from Sourav Ganguly, who will not play in this year’s IPL.

The decision to appoint Mathews would mean Warriors will be without their regular captain when playing their away game against Chennai Super Kings, following the IPL governing council’s decision to exclude Sri Lankan players from matches in Chennai.

He wasn’t the first choice captain for Warriors. However, once Australia captain Michael Clarke, their preferred choice, was ruled out of this edition of the tournament due to a back injury – one that also forced him to miss the last Test in India – it was clear that Sri Lanka’s Test and ODI leader would take over.

Mathews thus becomes the fourth captain to lead Warriors, who open their third IPL campaign with an away game against Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 5. While Yuvraj Singh led the team in their inaugural season in 2011, Sourav Ganguly and Steven Smith shared the responsibility in Yuvraj’s absence last year due to illness. This year, despite Yuvraj having recovered from his rare germ cell cancer, it was known even before the auction on February 3 that the possibility of him leading the team was remote. “Both him and the owners were reluctant to have him as the skipper since Yuvi the allrounder is so much more important to the balance of the team than Yuvi the captain,” an insider said.

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IPL2013 rescheduled.

The match-schedule of the Pepsi IPL 2013 has undergone revisions, as a result of the state assembly elections in Karnataka, in May 2013.

The following changes have been made to the schedule:

1. KXIP vs DD – shifted from 23/4 (8:00 pm, Mohali) to 16/5 (8:00 pm, Dharamshala)

2. SH vs DD – stays on 4/5 – moves from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm – Hyderabad

3. RCB vs KXIP – shifted from 4/5 (8:00 pm, Bengaluru) to 14/5 (4:00 pm, Bengaluru)

4. RCB vs SH – shifted from 6/5 (8:00 pm, Bengaluru) to 9/4 (4:00 pm, Bengaluru)

5. DD vs KXIP – shifted from 13/5 (4:00 pm, Delhi) to 23/4 (8:00 pm, Delhi)

6. KKR vs PWI – shifted from 14/5 (8:00 pm, Ranchi) to 15/5 (4:00 pm, Ranchi)

7. KXIP vs RCB – shifted from 16/5 (4:00 pm, Dharamshala) to 6/5 (8:00 pm, Mohali)

8. CSK vs DD – shifted from 16/5 (8:00 pm, Dharamshala) to 14/5 (8:00 pm, Dharamshala)

9. RCB vs CSK – shifted from 19/5 (4:00 pm, Bengaluru) to 18/5 (8:00 pm, Bengaluru)

10. PWI vs DD – shifted from 18/5 (8:00 pm, Pune) to 19/5 (4:00 pm, Pune)

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The Spin in the tale of Valley

Heaven on earth. A beautiful land withering under the impact of political unrest. A gorgeous holiday destination. These are some of the phrases that come to mind when people hear the name Jammu & Kashmir. But there’s one man in the valley whose dream is to add to the list, ‘the home of an India national cricketer’.

Parvez Rasool, the 24-year-old all-rounder from J&K is determined to put his state on the map of Indian cricket. And while he has a long, long way to go, Rasool is taking the steps in the right direction.

He topped the runs (594) and wickets (33) chart for J&K in the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy, went to the Team India nets and bowled to the likes of MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina and others, picked 7 for 45 against the touring Australians and bagged an IPL contract with the Pune Warriors.

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