West Indies and cricket – a connection so deep that it borders on the spiritual. The West Indies were the fourth nation to be given test status in 1928. Cricket in the West Indies really started taking off after the Second World War with their first away victory against England being a 3-1 win in the 1950 tour. The West Indies continued to have only sporadic successes as long as they were a white-dominated team. But all this changed in the 1960s once the team became a black dominated team when they started to become the force that would rule the world of cricket for nearly three decades. Cricket may have been invented and propagated by the English but it was propelled to another level by the power and beauty of the West Indies brand of cricket.
The West Indies teams of the 60s, 70s and 80s reads like a list of giants of the game. Boasting of stalwarts like Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Garfield Sobers, Lance Gibbs, to Brian Lara through Sir Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Rohan Kanhai, Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshal, Courtney Walsh and many, many more, the West Indies teams of the 1960s, 1970s and 80s were a force unlike anything ever seen before in the sport of cricket. They not only dominated, but decimated their opponents, whichever team it may have been, both home and away. Teams visited the West Indies with trepidation and welcomed them with fear. Their only objective while playing against them was to not get humiliated.
The present team may not have quite touched the same dizzying levels as those in the past but then no other team in the world has been able to reach those heights, so that’s not an issue really. But they have had their share of successes – they have been T20 World Cup winners twice and Champions Trophy winners. This success in the shorter format of the game plus the fact that a lot of the West Indian superstars like Kieron Pollard, Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo play in T20 leagues across the world has helped to given a fresh impetus to the game in the Caribbean. And the West Indies team has now started a fresh push to regain its former glory with the visiting England cricket team being the latest challenge.
The series promises to be a fascinating duel between a young and hungry West Indies team and an England team that has recently emerged victorious at home against the world’s no 1 cricket team. This is the big ticket cricket series in the world right now and Zoonga is the only place for the tickets to all the action on the pitch.
A series not to be missed. Will the West Indies rise up to the challenge and defeat England? The signs are promising. Reserve your spot to watch, from the ringside, the revival of one of cricket’s true powers!
Who will win South Asia’s ONLY ATP event? That’s the question that is on everyone’s mind as we close in on the final match of the Tata Open Maharashtra 2019. In just a few hours from now the Centre Court at Pune’s Balewadi stadium will come alive with some electrifying tennis and the amazing energy of the fans.
Facing off in this major event are two stalwarts of the game – Kevin Anderson and Ivo Karlovic.
2018 was a fantastic, career-best year for world no. 6 Kevin Anderson. He took to social media a few days ago to share his preparations for the forthcoming season. And he looks in great nick. The road to 2019 for Anderson will certainly be paved by the successes he carries forward from the year that went by. And what a year it was for him – He began his year at the Tata Open Maharashtra tournament in January 2018 by making it to the finals. He fell last year to Gilles Simon (will today be different? For the sake of Anderson and his legion of fans, we certainly hope so!) It was his third tournament of the year that saw him muscle his way back into World Top Ten, when he won the inaugural New York Open. He reached the finals in the next tournament that he played, but fell to del Potro. He reached the quarters of the first two Masters of the year, the fourth round at the French Open. And then he made history. He pulled off the upset of the year when he defeated the iconic Roger Federer in an epic quarter final. He reached the finals at Wimbledon, where he fell to Djokovic. He became the first South African since Kevin Curren in 1985 to reach the finals at Wimbledon. And today, he looks to start his 2019 season with a win in the same place where his dream run began last year!
On the other end there will be the meteoric Ivo Karlovic. The gentle giant that Karlovic is, he continues to defy age and remain a formidable opponent. His serve, as we all remember, is the stuff of legend. With his height he is able to use that serve like a weapon. It is no surprise then that the Croatian former World No. 14 holds the record for highest number of aces served (13,024)! One of the tallest professional tennis players in history, Karlovic is a terrifying sight to behold as he prepares to serve what most certainly will come at you with the speed of a bullet. There are ways to beat Karlovic, of course. But if he gets into his unmatched serve and volley rhythm, there is no saying what he can pull off. It has been a great tournament so far for Karlovic – he defeated teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime in the first round in what was again a record; the age gap between the two of them, the oldest and the youngest players in the tournament was 21 years and six months, the largest on the ATP tour since 1976! As Karlovic prepares to take on the much, much younger Anderson today, he has a whole lot of popular support going his way too – after all, he is the oldest finalist on the ATP tour since 43 year old Ken Rosewall won the 1977 Hong Kong Championship.
Clearly, there’s so much excitement waiting to happen at the Centre Court at Balewadi today. And from the packed seats we can tell you, it is indeed #AdvantagePune!