Sizzling Summer Days

It's vacation time, and students can be seen chilling out with friends and family. The holidays serve as the much required break after the exams. The possibilities are endless as there's a lot of free time to make use of. With the temperatures rising with each passing day, one needs to pursue happiness and health in order to have a memorable summer vacation.

A nice start to the day is essential. What better than an early morning walk in a park? Take someone along, and talk about things that interest you. Talk about wildlife, sports, philosophy and lifestyle. However, if the person walking with you is your grandfather, as is mostly the case with me, make it a point to listen attentively even if he talks on topics such as history, politics or economy. Get out of your comfort zone, and debate on topics that are new to you. At the same time, keep walking briskly, in order to keep in shape.

Plan ahead and stick to it. Decide on a skill or two you'd like to master. Read books, write, play a musical instrument or take up a course. Once you make up your mind, be diligent and committed. It's much easier said than done, especially in today's world. There are a number of distractions, including the television, internet and electronic gadgets. The idiot box is a major hazard, which can keep you from work. Learn to control yourself. Remember, it will benefit you in the long run!

Summer food is the best, as most people would agree. Desserts and drinks are the best part. A royal breakfast, a heavy lunch and a sumptuous dinner! Moreover, mouth-watering desserts and delicious drinks are served in the heat, which are very refreshing. Cold fruit juices and shakes are possible only during summers, and one should take full advantage of this facility during this time of the year.

Play! Live as if there's no tomorrow! Play indoor games when it's hot outside. Challenge yourself and challenge others. Remember, happiness is contagious. In the evening, play outdoors. Put your body on the line. Learn to handle pressure when it goes down to the wire. Eliminate complacency. There is so much that sport teaches us. Learn while you play!

Plan a vacation with friends or family. Visit a place you've never been to before. Explore the place. Learn about its culture, wildlife and people. Travelling is a great way of discovering yourself, as many people believe. We, Indians, are lucky to have been born and brought up in a diverse country such as ours. There are so many places to visit! Himachal in the north, Goa in the west, Kerala in the south and the seven sisters in the east.Take advantage of the rich heritage and varied culture that India has to offer.

Summer days are the most sought-after days of the year. Summer days are fun-filled and playful. They can be really productive and satisfying. The key is to keep it simple. Enjoy, but enjoy responsibly. Keep yourself busy. Work. Play. Travel.

Cricket World Cup 2015- The semifinals

Four very one-sided quarter-final matches have resulted in the advancement of four most deserving teams into the semi-finals. Pressure on the sides would be immense as they look to take a step forward towards lifting the Cup.It is that stage of the tournament where the skills won't matter. Infact, its the way the sides handle pressure that is going to make the difference. The first semi-final would see the 'chokers' face each other; a couple of teams which have qualified for the knockouts time and again only to succumb to pressure. On the other hand, the second semi-final would be contested between two teams who know how it feels to lift the prestigious trophy. The semi-finals would most certainly be thrilling and nerve-wracking and would pave the way for a dream final.

In the first semifinal, both the teams would look to carry on from where they left off in the quarter-finals. New Zealand have remained unbeaten in the tournament thus far, but, they'll have to start from scratch when they take on a strong South-African side. The Proteas have the most destructive bowling attack. It would be interesting to see what transpires when this bowling line-up takes on the likes of Brendon Mccullum and Martin Guptill. The Proteas, known for repeatedly choking at crunch situations, would want to go all the way this time around. The Black Caps, though, stand in way of the South-African dream. Infact, the Blacks enjoy home advantage and thus, according to me, hold slight edge over South Africa in this contest.

It was four years ago when India eliminated Australia from the 2011 World Cup, thus preventing Australia from winning the Cup for the fourth consecutive time. Australia would like to return the favour this time around, and they have a great chance of doing so as they enjoy home advantage. Moreover, the Aussies would rely on their quicks, who have been very impressive in the tournament so far, to deliver the goods one more time. India, on the other hand, depend massively on their batsmen. They would want a couple of their batsmen to score big and keep the opposition bowlers at bay. The toss is expected to play a huge role in this game, as the team batting first would have a clear advantage. Australia, as of now, have an all-round and a well balanced team. They seem to be the stronger team on paper and thus, according to me, have a greater chance of making it to the finals.

Though the home teams seem to have their noses slightly in front, its hard to say which two teams would find themselves in Melbourne on the 29th of this month. The final knockouts of this World Cup have the potential to be classics, as many experts would agree. Any of the four teams can end up victorious, and thats the beauty of it.

What Cricket Teaches Us...

Cricket, being a team game and a popular sport worldwide, teaches us many lessons in life. Sportsman spirit, team leadership and mental toughness are a few attributes one can pick up courtesy of cricket. In this article, I discuss three crucial life morals, a true cricket fan would relate to.

To begin with, what history teaches us is that you've got to be all-round in order to be successful over a period of time. The Australian cricket team, ten years ago, was often considered invincible. They had explosive batsmen at the top of the order and good finishers constituting the middle order. Moreover, they had agile, wicket-taking bowlers. They had all facets covered, and hence they dominated world cricket for a good ten years. This was the time when India had the best batsmen in the world and Pakistan had the most talented bowlers, but these teams were weak in one department of the game. The West Indies team in the early 1980s had destructive bowlers along with batsmen like Viv Richards and Clive Lloyd who were capable of demolishing any opposition. Nowadays, its South Africa dominating world stage for obvious reasons.

One phase every individual goes through at some point or the other in life is failure. Its not embarrassing to fail, but its embarrassing to keep failing for a long time. How a person reacts to failure and retaliates is what defines him. All those cricketers who are right now in the 'Hall of Fame' were once struggling to find a place in the side. Many of them were sidelined and criticized, but they all came back stronger and better-prepared. The Australian Cricket Board selects its players very carefully, based on their first-class careers. The runs scored or wickets taken aren't the only factors taken into account. Infact, the selection committee looks for players who have gone through the hard times at first-class level, and have subsequently come back with good performances. You might take things for granted when everything is going like a song. Its when things go deadly wrong that you need to change a few things and fight back.

Handling the pressure in crunch situations isn't for the feeble hearted. This is a skill you learn only with experience. The pressure factor comes into play whenever there's a do-or-die situation. For instance, when the play-offs of a multi-nation tournament are played, the previous matches in the tournament hold no importance and are forgotten. You've got to start from scratch. India might be the best team in the Cricket World Cup 2015 thus far and they might win all their group games. However, in order to lift the Cup, they'll have to win three pressure matches on a trot. There's no other alternative but to remain positive and stay mentally strong. Its much easier said than done.

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.
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