World Twenty20 semi-finals

So, the semis are upon us. I’m hoping to at least catch some of today’s games, either on radio or a pub TV, and I’m gunning for the Pakistanis. As my colleague Osman says, this game really is suited to them. Why? Well, partly due to their experience in the format: tape-ball cricket.

The number of overs isn’t important; matches last from five to 25 overs. There are few rules but the basic ethos of these games, the hustle and the bustle of it, the short, sharp intensity of putting one over the boys from the next lane or mohalla because, well, that’s just what men do, is something Twenty20 comes close to capturing.

Runs are not scored but nicked. A little tap, run; fielder about to throw, steal the second; often the only boundaries are straight because of the narrowness of the field, so running becomes an art in itself. Pakistan’s batting successes against Sri Lanka and Australia were built on cheeky running first and boundary-hitting second.

They face New Zealand in the first match (scorecard), followed by Australia and India (scorecard) later in the day. So keep an eye on the scorecards and offer your thoughts as the matches unfold.

Video highlights of Yuvraj Singh’s filthy six sixes

Filthy, disgustingly massive sixes these. Just have a look how far they go.

Gluttons for punishment who can’t see the above video should click here. Furthermore, read Cricinfo’s comms of his innings.

Video of India’s bowl-out against Pakistan

For those who missed it, like me, here’s the video of India’s bowl-out in the World Twenty20 against Pakistan. Cricinfo’s comms is useful too.

Twenty20 Champions League

Momentum is gathering for an international Twenty20 Champions League to take place involving teams from India, Australia, England and South Africa. This could be an interesting way to expand the game and also it would provide much needed financial stimulus to first-class teams, although there might be pressure on to include privately owned franchises as well.

I personally don’t care that much for the ultra-short version of the game, but as something that keeps the game in the public eye it can’t be a bad thing. What could be a bad thing is the conflict between first class teams and international boards over the availability of International players.

The joker in the pack is the Indian Cricket League. We live in interesting times!

Live chat: England v India, 5th ODI, Headingley

So, the fifth of seven one-dayers is upon us and England are sensing a series win. Can they do it or will India bite back? Keep an eye on Cricinfo and leave your musings and observations below.

Bopara and Broad enthrall Manchester

Why am I writing a piece for The Corridor when I’ve got a site of my own? Because I’m still ridiculously overexcited about England’s run-chase yesterday, that’s why.

I went to the fourth one-day international at Old Trafford yesterday and having been pretty comprehensively wowed by Stuart Broad’s and Ravi Bopara’s fightback, I made a point of watching the highlights on Channel 5. As is so often the case, the truncated version didn’t give the full effect. England were down and out. Wickets had fallen fairly regularly all day and with even more haste during England’s run chase. England had scored 114 when the seventh wicket fell, but that seventh wicket had been Paul Collingwood who’d scored the bulk of England’s total. The crowd knew that the game was up, so they did what they always do at times like this: Mexican waves, beer snakes and general merriment. In short, anything but watching the cricket.

So having lost seven wickets inside 24 overs, England then lost none in the next 24. The performance of Broad and Bopara was so impressive that drunk England fans, at the end of the day, when they’d been drinking for the longest, actually put down their beer snakes and watched the cricket in near-silence.

I’ve never seen a crowd do that before.

A question of spin

There were several factors that divided India and England this evening, but none may have proved quite so decisive as each team’s solution to the question of spin. Diametrically opposed at the toss, England left out Panesar while India brought in Powar. And while Monty was bringing on the drinks, his Indian counterparts were bringing England’s run chase under control.

England’s decision to opt in Tremlett was based on the short straight boundary at Bristol, which prompted fears that a front-line spinner would only leak runs. This attitude also seemed to infect their batting, with Collingwood bowled on the charge and Flintoff caught in the deep. Chawla in particular was impressive, tying down England’s batsmen. Ian Bell, normally a confident player of spin, lacked fluency and while his partners fell around him, he did not manage to keep the runs ticking over. Heroic though Mascarenhas’ quick tempo half-century and Broad’s impressive last over swinging may have been, it was too little, too late, against a spiralling run rate.

Although Prior and Cook started in a positive vein, a total exceeding 300 has seldom been posted at Bristol, let alone exceeded. Indian’s batting was much like that of England’s on Tuesday; Tendulkar in particular was outstanding at the top of the order, and Dravid superlative at the close. Given their performance at the Rose Bowl, England’s bowling was verging on wayward, although still an improvement on much of what we’ve seen over the last 12 months.

Tremlett’s inclusion did not pay off; however, it is questionable whether Panesar would have made the difference. India’s batsmen are amongst the best players of spin world wide, and this was reflected in Monty’s quiet Test series. The other slower bowlers in England’s ranks were treated to high economy rates today, despite watertight showings at Southampton, and Panesar might well have fallen to the same sword.

With Sidebottom still unavailable, when Collingwood takes his teamsheet to the toss at Edgbaston, it will be intruiging to see whom he calls upon. It seems highly unlikely that Monty will miss out again.

Live chat: England v India, 2nd ODI, Bristol

After a near-to-perfect one-dayer as England have played in a long while, it’s a rare sunny day at Bristol for today’s game. India have won the toss again, and there was no hesitation from Rahul Dravid this time in putting England in the field. A couple of changes for both sides: India’s flu bug has forced Zaheer Khan out for Munaf Patel, and India’s tail looks long compared to England’s middle-order of allrounders. The hosts have only one change – Tremlett replacing Panesar.

It’s turnaround, and it will be interesting to see how England’s inexperienced bowling attack cope without runs in the bank. Follow the action on cricinfo and leave your comments and predictions below.

India to unleash the Powar

It seems Ramesh Powar might be given a chance in today’s second one-day between England and India at Bristol, and three cheers for that. Powar is not your average svelte cricketer. In fact, he makes Inzamam look decidedly anorexic. There really are far too few rotund players in the world. The fatter the better, I say.

By all accounts, Powar’s really rather good too – probably better than the merely ‘useful’ tag he has earned. And Michael Vaughan is a little worried about the impact Powar could have, saying he “is a clever, clever bowler who will be a big threat to us in the middle period”.

Tonight’s match is a day-nighter, which is an utter pain in the derriere as it won’t start before 5pm in India, and I also happen to be staying in a place which doesn’t serve alcohol. I’ve tried doubling the dose of lime in my Fresh Lime Soda, but the results are not good for my stomach or my fellow patrons.

The Indians who can do it all

Being a cricket journalist while on holiday in India has its advantages, no doubt. Most people I encounter are keen to know my job (and even more importantly which company employs me), and quite a few know of Cricinfo and are desperate, it seems, to prove their cricketing worth. One young chap today (whose friendly nature threatened to descend into irritating begging) is surely the future of Indian cricket, if not the world.

He bowls leg-spin better than Shane Warne and models his off-spinner’s doosra on Murali; he opens the bowling at the speed of light, not unlike Darren Gough apparently; he keeps wicket with the feline-feet of Alan Knott (!) and bats like Marcus Trescothick, Michael Warne (it’s the accent, but I couldn’t help chuckling) and Adam Gilchrist. A killer player, then, if fantastical.

Watch out for him. He, and the identical dozen other youngsters who I’ve come across, will be dominating the world shortly…

The Nilgiri Mountains