Cricket World Cup 2015-The Contenders

With just three days to go for the biggest cricketing extravaganza to kick off, I couldn't have thought of a better time to return to my blogging ways.Just like the 2011 edition, the World Cup this year too promises to be fiercely competitive as the sides look to get the team combinations right in order to dominate world stage.Here, I analyse the top eight teams and examine their chances of winning cricket's most coveted event, scheduled to be played Down Under.

Australia: Inarguably the favourites to win the Cup, Australia, on paper, seems to be the team to beat this season. It proudly possesses some of the most dangerous hitters of the cricket ball, namely, David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steven Smith and Glenn Maxwell. The bowling attack seems excellent too with Mitchell Johnson all set to lead the pace attack.Moreover, the aussies, being sharp fieldsmen, would most certainly make the opposition team work hard for their runs, thus bettering their chances.Being the home team, and having a talented bunch, they would be very hopeful of lifting the Cup for the fifth time.

South Africa: The proteas have a formidable bowling line-up, probably the best in the tournament. The awesome trio of Dale Steyn,Morne Morke and Vernon Philander are a big source of worry for any opposition. In batting, they have the likes of De Villiers,Hashim Amla and Faf Du Plessis who have repeatedly shown us what they are capable of. The young Quinton De Kock at the top of the order can be absolutely devastating if it's his day, as he showed in the ODI series against India which was played in the Rainbow nation, not very long ago. Often criticized for choking at crucial moments in ICC events, the proteas would fancy themselves to win the World Cup, which has for long eluded them.

New Zealand: Just like Australia, this team consists of stupendous strokemakers at the top of the order. Brendon Mccullum, Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor, known for their cross-batted shots, would be very effective on bouncy pitches. Kane Williamson adds stability to the middle order while Corey Anderson can be extremely lethal in the death overs. The team also has very fine fast bowlers in Trent Boult, Kyle Mills and Tim Southee who aren't only quick, but accurate as well. The Black caps play well at home, as is evident from previous results. They do have the right ingredients required to end up victorious.

England: Unlike most other teams, this side doesn't have match winners who can single-handedly win the match for the side.But, what's impressive about England is that all its team members contribute in some way or the other towards team success. For instance, if we look at the team composition, we find that Stuart Broad, a proper all-rounder, bats at number nine. Infact, James Anderson who comes in next is no mug with the bat either! England is a team of all-rounders, of skilful men who are determined to contribute.Pitches downunder don't spin much, which favours English batsmen. Don't be surprised if this team ends the tournament with the Cup in their hands.

India: The defending champions, under the leadership of Captain Cool M.S Dhoni, would dearly miss the match winners who contested in the 2011 World Cup. The team this year,apparently, isn't as strong as the former World Cup squad,but, its much younger,much more energetic and dynamic. The fact that this team depends heavily on the likes of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma cannot be denied.The bowling line-up is weak and ineffective, especially on the bouncy pitches downunder. India has always relied on its batsmen to deliver the goods time and again. If the batsmen fire, there's no reason why India can't lift the prestigious trophy for the third time.

Sri Lanka: Like India, this team lacks good fast bowlers. The team would want its veteran players, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene to score big and at the same time, keep the other players cheered up on the field. A big positive for Sri Lanka is the skipper, Angelo Mathews who contributes massively both with the bat and the ball.A genuine all-rounder, he also lifts up the team's spirit with his brilliant fielding. Having finished second best in the 2011 World Cup, Sri Lanka would be hoping to go all the way this time around.

Pakistan: Pakistan have a very inexperienced side for this World Cup. They can be very unpredictable, as they have often showed before. The team consists of decent bowlers in Junaid Khan,Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz who would hit the deck hard and extract bounce.The spinners are phenomenal, although they wouldn't get much help from the wickets. The batsmen have under-performed consistently which is a cause of worry for them. Pakistan had won the World Cup downunder in 1992. They can do it again, but, they certainly need to sort out a few issues before the play-offs if they wish to repeat the feat.

West Indies: For the West Indies, Chris Gayle,Dwayne Bravo and Marlon Samuels hold the key at the top of the order. Heavily reliant on these three players, the team needs to perform much better than what they have been performing to stand any chance of winning the Cup. The absence of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard in the squad would certainly limit their chances. They are capable of surprising the top teams if they play to their full potential. However,at the moment, lifting the Cup for them is a distant dream.

The World Cup 2015 promises to be bigger and better. What it does guarantee is exciting cricket and some nerve-wracking moments. So, turn on your TV sets and watch, keeping your fingers crossed.

The Lumbering Loner

                             Chapter 2:Sam visits Shawn's place

Shawn was, by nature, a submissive and a timid person. However, fortunately for him and all those who believe in humanity, he had a brother who was very different. While Shawn was known for making heavy weather of cases of villainy, his brother used to solve them in the most ingenious of ways. Sam was, in fact, one of the most reliable and sought-after detectives in the whole of the country. There was just the one mystery that had remained inexplicable in Sam's entire career as a detective, while a single case had been completely deciphered in Shawn's case. Though Sam was the younger of the two, he had a much more mature mind than Shawn.

It was a bright, sunny day when Sam ambled towards the main door of his brother's new dwelling, plodding past an animated crowd. One might have imagined Sam to have built the notion that Shawn had cracked a case or two. Sam, anxiously, knocked at the door and was warmly greeted by his sibling.
"Why is there a massive crowd in front of the door?", Sam asked.
"Oh! I am actually quite famous among people. They apparently relate me with His Majesty Mr.Holmes himself.", was the response.
"That's great! By the way, evidently, your tidily combed hair indicate you've had a recent bath, the redness and fatigue in those eyes indicate excessive television viewing while neatly polished shoes suggest that you plan to go out someplace soon."
"Ah! Very well! The worn-out chapeau on your head shows that its hackneyed, your muddled shoes prove that its a trite pair and your tired eyes indicate that.......probably, you are tired."
"So blatant.....", Sam secerned.
Poor Sam, after travelling all day, had all his hopes shattered too. Added insult to injury, did Shawn, with all his asinine remarks. Sam could now appraise how many cases his brother might have solved, how much of a Sherlock Holmes he had become and how mindless of Sam himself it was in being so sanguine.

As Sam made himself comfortable on the antique couch which mostly had Shawn overly comfortable, perhaps a bit too much, a thought ran through his mind which reminded him why he was in London in the first place. As an obligation towards his elder brother, he said, "I have a case to solve in South London, which is the reason I am here. Would you like to accompany me? We'll leave today evening."
Sam would have hoped for a reply in the negative, but, it was just not his day. Shawn disturbingly agreed, much to the despondency of Sam and his clients. Sam, apparently and very understandably, had little faith in Shawn's crime-solving abilities. As the two brothers left at dusk, Sam took along with him Olanzapine tablets in case his brother had a fit and a colossal cause of distress, courtesy of his very own brother. He had a mystery to solve and from it, his brother to absolve.

Supertraits of Superstars by Priyanka Sinha Jha

Bollywood has become synonymous with money and fame; the stories of young actors, struggling to make it in the industry only to later blossom as wonderful actors, are all that we hear about the stars. Little do we know about the effort, conscious and subconscious that go into the making of such a star.

With examples from eleven different Bollywood stars' life, Priyanka Sinha Jha brings about a new dimension wherein she highlights the important qualities in each actor which propelled them forward to make them the star they are now. Big B's Discipline, King Khan's Passion, Vidya Balan's Reinventing Mentality, Aamir Khan's Pursuit of Perfection, Katrina's Perseverance, John Abraham's Enterprising nature, the Maximal Focus of Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya's Grace, Hrithik's Mental Resolve, Karan Johar's Tact and Sallu bhai's Generosity are the main qualities covered in the book.

The main selling point of this book is definitely the fact that every commoner can relate with it. Every person at some time or another has dreamed of becoming a superstar as the grandeur and fame that surrounds the mystic profession draws us towards it; however, this book paints the actual picture of becoming a superstar: hardwork and excellence. With humorous and quirky anecdotes from the real lives of the reel actors, Priyanka Sinha Jha has made even a simple man appreciate the pain and effort put in by each actor to achieve their goal.

While the entire book was a good read, it was the little known actor stories which I cherished reading more. Though this doesn't indicate that the stories of the big-shot ones were written poorly, just the fact that Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh and Aamir Khan's stories are a bit too popularly known anyway. Out of the rest, I felt Hrithik Roshan's will and determination to change his fate from being speech impaired to one of the greatest actors of modern Bollywood definitely takes the cake. I would love to see a second book under the same banner and theme to come out with some lesser known actor stories like that of Boman Irani and Nawazuddin Siddiqui and that of the old and gold Kapoors,
if the author could manage it.

Bytes and Banter Verdict :  A Piece Of Art  -  4/5

The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.
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