IPL -WEEK 1 Coverage

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No other cricket event in the whole world brings as much oomph and panache to the sport as the Indian Premier League does. The T20 tournament brings together the superstars of the game in an epic festival of club cricket at its best. In its eight edition, the 2015 Indian Premier League starts of on a high note with a star-studded opening ceremony at the Salt Lake Stadium where the tournament was declared officially open. Bollywood heart throbs HrithikRoshan and Shahid kapoor added color to the event along with glam doll Anushkha Sharma and Saif Ali Khan played a perfect host to the proceedings.

We at That’s Y Sports are happy to present an overview on the first week of the Pepsi Indian Premier League -8

With stellar performances from captain Gambhir and Suryakumar Yadav,the SRK owned Outfit were off to an excellent start to their title defence at home by outshadowing Mumbai at the tournament opener at Eden Gardens. But their joy didn’t last longer as the Jamaican storm hit the Indian shores again for the third year in a row. Gayle held his nerves in a very important chase of 177 even though half a dozen of wickets fell for just 133 runs on board.

IPL heavyweights Chennai were the better side in Chepauk by clinching a one run victory over Delhi Daredevils despite Ex-Chennai lad Albie scoring a fighting 77 for Delhi. Duminy led team were already on a 10 match losing streak and this loss just made things even worse. In the following game in the Lion’s den against Sun Risers, NZ captain had the perfect chance to rewrite the records at Chepauk by scoring a breakfree 100 ably supported by a 29 ball fifty from captain cool to register a comprehensive win by 45 runs.

Electric Faulkner set things bright for Rajasthan this year by scoring a 30 ball 46 coupled along with 3 crucial wickets including the one of dangerous Maxwell to register a 28 run win for the Jaipur outfit.This match will definitely be in the minds of the fans for a long long time for probably one of the best catches in IPL history. Delhi Daredevils couldn’t do much to their 11 match losing streak by failing to defend a formidable total of 184 on their home turf with rookie Deepak Hooda taking their bowlers for cleaners all across the park on debut. Rajasthan continued their fine run against the unsettled Mumbai line up to clinch a 7 wicket win with Captain Steve Smith who made his purple patch this summer even more darker by scoring well built 77 along with Jinx scoring 46 runs .

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After leaving their dismal performance behind, Kings XI Punjab looked to be the better side against the Mumbai outfit with captain Bailey being nominated the player of the match for his 74.

Sun Risers had a mixed first week after falling to Chennai but came up with a clinical performance against RCB with Warner-Dhawan duo put on a 121 run opening stand to lead them to a victory by a margin of 8 wickets.

IPL hot property Yuvraj Singh who had a lean patch over the last two seasons showed what he’s capable of doing with the bat with a match winning 58 against Punjab to register Delhi’s first win of the tournament putting some smile on Gary Kirsten’s face.

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The competitiveness for a place in the side was clearly seen in this year’s IPL. Pace giant Dale Steyn had to compromise with Trent Boult who carried his world cup form into this tournmanet as well. Micheal Hussey after returning to Chennai, had to warm the benches. Although Albie Mork hit sensational 77 against CSK he couldn’t make it back into the Delhi outfit once Angelo Mathews was cleared to play.

Josh hazlewood withdrew himself from the tournament citing rest as a reasin in order to keep himself fit for ashes. Indian pacer Zaheer Khan had to miss the tournament opener with a niggle while Team India Pace Sensation Mohd Shami was completely ruled out of the tournament to add to woes of Delhi Daredevils

As expected the heavy-weights CSK and RR had an outstanding start to their respective seasons whereas all the other teams barring Mumbai had a week of mixed emotions. Reliance owned Mumbai Indians although having a star studded support staff had a week to forget but as all of us know that they had a similar start in the last year UAE leg but registered 7 wins on the trot to reach the play-offs

Just Like how Superstar Rajnikanth says “Kanna idhu trailer thaan ma..Nee main picture innum pakala”. We are left for a thunderous summer for sure.

Spin bowling -An art to be romanced!

The game of cricket has more than a few reasons to fall in love with. There are many facets of cricket like a fast bowler’s athleticism, the sight of him rushing in to bowl at full throttle, bending his back to deliver a bouncer with venom and precision, the batsmen’s extraordinary sense of timing and ability to find the gaps with absolute ease and the fielder’s brilliance to pull off a stunning save or to effect a match turning run-out  ! The list does not end here but goes on and on.  Hiding somewhere in this seemingly never ending list, is the most underrated art in recent times!
The art of a spinner deceiving the batsman not with his pace, but by the lack of it, is one of the most pleasing sights to the eyes of the connoisseur. While fast bowling is an art that looks to deny the batsman the time to choose his shots and areas to score, the beauty of spin bowling lays in the fact that it gives the batsmen plenty of time to pick his shots, thus placing a seed of doubt in their minds. The sight of the ball tossed up above the batsman’s eye line, more often than not gives him a wrong impression on the actual length of the ball and lures him into playing a false shot. He might seem totally silly looking to play a ball off the back foot when he should have been stretching forward and vice versa.
The more revolutions the spinner imparts on the ball, the better will be the purchase he gets off the track, which is very straightforward. But what is not very obvious are the drift and the dip the bowler gets with his revolutions. These aspects which were a part of nearly every spinner’s repertoire in the 80s and the 90s seem to be largely forgotten in this modern age. This rapidly vanishing art has now very few takers with the rules heavily favouring the batsmen. What has really contributed to this sharp decline in this old-school traditional type of spin bowling? Will there be a revival of sorts or have we seen the last of the bowlers who get drift and dip is a question, which will be keenly followed. Here are a few factors that have had a huge bearing on this special and subtle form of bowling.

THE FIRST NAIL IN THE COFFIN- T20 CRICKET!
With the introduction of the dynamic T20 format where everything moves on so quickly, huge scores have become the order of the day. The batsmen are always on the lookout for runs and they fancy themselves to clear the boundaries no matter how big the grounds are. The spinners are immediately put under pressure right from the ball one, when the batsman dances down the track to loft him over the boundaries. What does the spinner do? He goes on the defensive right away just after a big hit and fires in the ball providing no air whatsoever. What happens next is something even more frightening. It becomes that much easier for the batsman with the pace on the ball, to play all those touch shots to third man and fine leg. The shorter you bowl, the easier it will be for the batsmen to rock back and pull the ball. The very essence of spin bowling is lost in a matter of few attacking shots.

SMALLER BOUNDARIES, BULKIER BATS
The smaller boundaries around the world are now forcing these bowlers to bowl fast and flat. The grounds at New Zealand and the West Indies are so small that even the mishits go all the way. This becomes very disheartening to any bowler whose strength is to toss the ball up. Adding to the headache of the spinners is the huge size of the bats that the batsmen carry. There is a lot of meat in these bats that they do not have to find the middle of their bat to clear the ropes.

4 FIELDERS OUTSIDE THE CIRCLE RULE
The latest intruder to this list of problems is the rule that allows only 4 fielders patrolling the boundaries in the ODI format that has dented the spinner’s confidence further. The use of two new balls also ensures that the ball is hard and comes on to the bat nicely and this works largely against the spinners though one might argue that harder ball with a more pronounced seam might help them grip the ball a bit better.

DEFENSIVE MINDSET- BOWLING FLAT AND FAST:

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All these factors are slowly but surely taking their toll on this very unique art that has evolved rapidly over the years. The emerging trend of more spinners bowling side on with a round arm action is a direct reflection of the fact that flighting the ball is not an option to them anymore. They are not quite prepared to take a gamble and give the ball a rip, which might in turn fetch them a wicket, but are quite satisfied with checking the run flow. Such a mindset is not what you want from a spinner. This mindset is seeping through to the test format as well, where there is virtually no chance of finding wickets by firing it in. The young lot of Indian bowlers coming through like Jadeja and Axar, to name a few, seem to be falling prey to this mindset.

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These spinners will do well to learn from their team mate Ashwin, for the way he has slowed his pace down and focused on his stock delivery to get the results going his way in the recently concluded World Cup. Another example of a spinner reaping the awards of bowling slower through the air was Harbhajan Singh, who had a dream run in the 2014 edition of the IPL.

MYSTERY SPINNERS AND THEIR DOWNFALL
Mystery spinners like Ajantha Mendis with so many variations like the carom ball, made an immediate impact when they burst on to the international scene. Teams were struggling to pick him initially but with so much of video analysis these days, they were able to sort him out in a couple of seasons and once they did that, Mendis has looked very ordinary.  It is very well to have those mystery deliveries up your sleeve, but nothing comes close to a stock ball with plenty of air and dip. A strong stock ball adds tooth to the variations making them doubly effective is what the young spinners need to be thought very early in their careers to rediscover this vanishing art.

WHAT DID THE THE SPIN KINGS DO DIFFERENTLY?

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You never saw a Shane Warne or a Muttiah Muralitharan back off after getting hit. They did not drag their lengths down, but tossed it a little higher with more revolutions on the ball enticing the batsmen to go for the big drive once more. With more revolutions, the ball would eventually drift and dip on the batsmen, beating him in the flight. Once beaten, he would be out caught mistiming the ball or failing to make contact and getting himself stumped. In the most recent times, Graeme Swann was one spinner, who did not have a lot of variations, but banked on the guile and dip on his balls to price batsmen out.
REVIVE SPIN BOWLING

Spin bowling in the purest form is the most romantic art in all of cricket. The various subtleties that come along with it like the change in trajectory, mixing up the pace, the use of the crease to create different angles is what makes it one of the most watchable art in world cricket. Every passionate cricket fan will seriously hope that this is just a transition phase and that it is only a matter of time before spin bowling returns to its pristine form.
Let the mystery deliveries like carom ball, doosras and the teesras take a back seat for a while and let the DRIFT, DIP, GUILE AND SPIN take centre stage once again!

MEET YOUR TEAMS-IPL 2015 (PART 2)

CHENNAI SUPER KINGS

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The men in yellow have always been the golden standard of the IPL. Keeping aside the off field controversies, they have always been the team to watch out for, ably led by their talismanic skipper MS Dhoni. Making it to the final 5 out of 7 times is no mean task, but given their extremely high standards, the IPL giants will want to end their 4 year title drought. Despite the flourishing foreign talent in CSK, it is their indian strength which has proved to make a difference.The point where CSK stands out from the other sides is that the crux of the team has been the same for almost all seasons.The 2 time champion will look to take confidence from their recent Champions Leauge success into this edition to clinch their third title which if happens, will be the most for any team in the championship.

WILL THE BAT DO THE TALKING?

This is one team where you cannot rule out any batsman scoring runs and if let off the hook will hurt the bowlers badly. With the likes of McCullum, Dwayne Smith, the old war horse Mike Hussey and Suresh Raina upfront, the opposition’s bowlers will have their task cut out. A glance down the order will give the bowlers no room for complacency, as MS Dhoni , Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja are more than capable of tearing the bowling apart on their day.

WILL THE BOWLERS DO THE TRICK?

Ashwin will look to repeat his 2010 success which made him a household name . CSK’s strength lies in the spinners hunting in pairs and so they will hope that Ravindra Jadeja strikes form with the ball. Team India discards Ashish Nehra and Irfan Pathan will do all they can to turn the selector’s eyes towards them this season. Mohit Sharma, fresh from his WC success will be raring to go with his deceptive changes.

WHO WILL BE CSK’sFIND OF THE YEAR?

Just like Ashwin,Vijay and Mohit Sharma, CSK will look to continue their culture of finding international material this year too. Ishwar Pandey and Baba Aparjith will look to make an impact this year after a strong domestic season.

TRUMP CARD:

Kyle Abbott, who was South Africa’s go to man in the World Cup once Vernon Philander got injured is the best addition to the team. His 9 wickets in 4 games played a huge part in the African nation’s progress to the Knockouts. Will the CSK’s new recruit change the fortunes of this relatively weak bowling attack? Will he be the ace up their sleeve this season?!

MUMBAI INDIANS

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After a dismal couple of seasons in the beginning , Mumbai have by and large been one of the most consistent sides in the IPL just behind CSK. The 2013 champions are led by Rohit sharma, who will look to prove his captaincy credentials once again. The advantage they possess is that the core of team has been intact with Rohit, Harbhajan, Malinga and Pollard still in their ranks

WILL THE INDIAN CONTINGENT MAKE A DIFFERENCE??

With the likes of Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Parthiv Patel,Pragyan Ojha, the team has been able to bring down the heavy banking on their strong foreign batallion .Will the Indian strength prove to be good one more time?

BACKROOM LEGENDS!

With the likes of Ricky Ponting, Shane Bond and Jhonty Rhodes to look after the batting , bowling and fielding departments respectively, Mumbai without a doubt are under hawk eye observation. To add to this, they will be mentored by the Iconic Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar and Spin Wizard Anil Kumble. One might be left to wonder, who will lead the backroom talks ? Will too many cooks spoil the broth?

BOWLING ARSENAL

In Malinga Mumbai has one of the most deathly T20 bowler. Josh hazlewood will look to continue his WC success in this format with his canny off cutters. Harbhajan and Ojha will have to make their Team India experience count if Mumbai wants to go all the way!

TRUMP CARD

Corey anderson after his strong WC show for the Black caps will look to make an impact with his deadly blows in the fag end of the innings to go along with his seam bowling which provides the ideal balance to the side.

KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS

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After the management decided to hand over the reigns of captaincy to Gautam Gambhir ,KKR have looked a different team altogether. The million dollar signings, Robin Uthappa and Yusuf Pathan, have proved the worth of every penny spent on them by leading their team to a second championship title in 3 years.With 9 consecutive wins in the last season ,they will look to carry the momentum forward into this year’s IPL.

WILL THE BATTING CONTINUE TO FLOURISH?

Given a strong indian opening pair of Uthappa and Gambhir ,they have their balance intact this time as well. The middle order will have repeat their success this year too. The last moment injuries to Chris Lynn and unavailability of Shakib will hurt their setup but given their bench strength, they will be the side to beat this year.

WILL THE SPIN DO THE TRICK FOR KKR THIS YEAR?

With the likes of Shakib, Piyush and Kuldeep Yadav supporting their spin spearhead Narine , KKR will look to bamboozle the batsman with their spinners’ variations in the slow Eden Gardens wicket.

ROOKIE CORNER

Mumbai’s captain Suryakumar Yadav will look to grab the selector’s attention with a strong IPL showing to go with his recent domestic success.

TRUMP CARD

As in the early years, mystery spinner Sunil Narine, having cleared all the tests for a suspect bowling action will look to trouble the batsmen with his wily deliveries .The under-rated pace battery of Morne Morkel and Umesh yadav will look to continue their World cup success .

ROYAL CHALLENEGRS BANGALORE

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The Vijay Mallaya owned side have been the most inconsistent team, not living up to their potential. But they will be keen to change their fortunes this year. The stylish Macho of team India, Virat Kohli, will look to lead the batting brigade.

IS IT THE MOST DANGEROUS BATTING ATTACK OF THE TOURNAMENT??

The Gayle storm will look to hit Bangalore this year too.The big hitting Jamaican had a forgettable season after a staggering 700+ runs in the previous two years. South African Captain De Villiers will look to make amends for the WC semifinal exit. With the likes of Kohli, Karthik and Rossouw to follow ,this will be the the most desructive batting line up.

DO THE BLOWLERS LACK TEETH??

An injury to the Player of the tourament in the world cup, Mitchell Starc is a big blow to the side but he is sure to make a comeback in the business end of the tournament. The addition of Darren Sammy and Yuzvendra Chahal will add some firepower to this bowling attack, is what the team will hope.

TRUMP CARD

AB De Villiers will be RCB’s go to man this year. After notching numerous records including the one of being the fastest man to reach to 100 earlier this year, the 360 degree run scorer, AB De Villiers, will be difficult for the bowlers to restrict in the slog overs and is capable of doubling the scores in space of few overs.

The mind behind the muscle-Serena Williams.!!

From her teens to thirties, one thing remains constant, her appetence to win matches. This hunger is what defines Serena Williams as she lifted the Miami Open title for the eighth time. Enroute to the final she also notched up her 700th WTA win becoming only the third active player to join this league after Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

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The first of her 700 wins came way back in 1997 with a big bang as Serena beat World No. 7 Mary Piece and followed it up with another upset over World No. 4 Monica Seles that turned the cameras towards the younger of the Williams sisters. In 1999, she racked up a string of wins over Kim Clijsters, Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport and Steffi Graf over a span of 2 weeks that won her the first Grandslam title at the US Open. Since then she has piled up 19 career grand slam titles, her recent being the Australian Open title this year.

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Serena’s career graph will clearly show that she has some insurmountable peaks but also some extreme lows. The years 2004-2007 were a horrendous period, when she was suffering from serious injuries, depression and was written off by the media as her ranking dropped drastically. Injuries continued to persist as she moved forward in her professional career that resulted in her retiring hurt, withdrawing and cancelling many of her matches and tournaments.

She is a powerful hitter of the tennis ball on both flanks, forehand and backhand. Her serves are extremely powerful, consistent and accurate and is considered to be the greatest in women’s tennis history. You can be sure that Serena is at the top of her game when she shoots down aces that touch close to 200kmph. She not only has a powerful game but also a powerful mind. Her mental toughness has rescued her from improbable situations to go on to win Grandslam titles after saving match points.

A career spanning over 20 years cannot survive on shear muscle power alone, it requires a firm resolve at the mental level and a phenomenal self belief. Her career is almost halved by her various injuries, but after every injury she only returns to be stronger mentally as well as physically. At the age of 33, she is the reigning champion of the Australian Open, US Open, WTA Tour Championship and the Olympics. From World No.1 to a dip to World No. 175, from 198kmph serve to 65kmph serve, from ecstasy to despair, from sparkling smile to tears, Serena Williams is a sport, a colourful athlete and a true champion.

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The eleven of CWC !

The ICC cricket World Cup threw up many scintillating performances both with the bat and the ball. Some lovely seaming deliveries with the new ball, power hitting in the death overs, reverse swinging balls aimed at the block hole, sensible old fashioned batting from top quality players. What if all these special performers are a part of the same dressing room? Wouldn’t that be some sort of a dream team!

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After several rounds of discussions, our panel zeroed in on the players who would form a dream team taking into account their World Cup run and considering the overall balance of the team. Our eleven is completely free of any bias for a particular country and inclination towards a specific player. Here is our list of elite players who make the cut :

Martin Guptill:

The Kiwi opener was the highest run getter in the tournament and his ability to switch gears between ultra aggressive mode and sheet anchor role has been a revelation. His double ton against the West Indies in the quarter finals brought his love for the big stage to the fore. So, Guptill makes the cut easily as the opener of the squad.

Brendon McCullum (Captain):

The explosive Kiwi opener has taken on the best bowlers in the world and destroyed them. The way he took Stey to cleaners is a testimony to his fearless brand of batting. It always helps to have a batsman who can get into the minds of the bowlers early on. McCullum’s attacking style of leadership is always welcome in this age of cricket where wickets are the only way to restrict the run flow. Brendon McCullum makes it to the squad purely on the weight of his contribution to the New Zealand team’s best result in the history of the World Cup.

Kumar Sangakkara (WK):

When you have a batsman who will throw the kitchen sink at everything like McCullum, the No.3 spot requires someone who can be relied upon time and again. Who better than the Sri Lankan when it comes to consistency ? 4 centuries on the trot makes him an easy pick for the crucial No.3 spot. He will double up as a reliable wicket keeper for this team.

Steve Smith:

The Australian has had an amazing year and extended his purple patch into the world cup. Smith can serve as an ideal no.4 batsman who provides stability and also scores at a decent rate. If at all the ever reliable Sangakarra has a bad day, Smith can play Sanga’s role to perfection. In Smith the team has a player who is also a live wire on the field.

AB De Villiers:

The calibre of batsmanship the South African has displayed over the past few years has been something out of the world. He once again had a good time at the World cup, tormenting the bowlers as he so often does. AB De Villiers can put his foot on the pedal and accelerate when his team provides a good start. In case of a complete failure of the top and the middle order, De Villiers can still drive the team to safety. Without the gloves also, De Villiers is the sort of fielder who can take some blinders and turn the match on its head. He is a natural pick in any good team.

Glenn Maxwell:

Glenn Maxwell has a reputation of striking the ball cleanly from the word go. He can be used as a floater who can come in at any stage of the innings and shift the entire balance of the game in the space of a few balls. His pyrotechnics in the field and useful off spinners gives him the all rounder’s slot in the team.

Wahab Riaz:

The left arm quick from Pakistan bowled the spell of the tournament when he sent down one lethal bouncer after another as a clueless Shane Watson ducked and hopped in fear. His pace has gone up a notch and is now bowling at 150 clicks almost consistently. The left armer will be a perfect one change bowler who will provide no breathing space after the opening burst of swing bowling.

Mitchell Starc:

The man of the tournament, the leading wicket taker!  How often does a bowler bag such an award in today’s world of batsmen? This award highlights that there is still some space for recognition if you are as special as Mitchell Starc is. He has got the ball swinging with an excellent seam position, mixing it up with bouncers and some reverse swinging yorkers. Starc would be McCullum’s man for the power plays and the death. He can be used in short spells so that he can bowl at full throttle. Starc will obviously take the new ball.

Morne Morkel:

The tall lad from South Africa is known to get steep bounce from good length that can make him very awkward to handle. He has been South Africa’s best fast bowler this world cup by some distance and would provide control during the mid phase of the innings. He will be operating along with Wahab and that makes for a dangerous pair with some serious steam.

Trent Boult:

The Kiwi new ball bowler has got excellent shape on his balls throughout the tournament and has been instrumental in plotting the downfall of the batsmen for the Kiwis. He has a good yorker and that makes him a natural option at the death. The tendency to get prodigious swing even on less helpful surfaces gives him the opportunity to share the new ball along with Mitchell Starc.

Imran Tahir:

Australian surfaces do not provide much assistance to the spinners. There have been a few notable performances from Ashwin and Vettori, but Tahir’s leg spins provides the team with a better chance of break throughs in the middle overs. If any one of the front line seamers have a bad day, McCullum can turn to Tahir to deliver in the power plays and even in the death. Leg spinner with outstanding control over his skills is a captain’s delight and Tahir is one such bowler who can fox the batsmen with his variations and is very difficult to get hold of.

The 5 bowler theory was chosen  keeping in mind the calibre of the team’s batting line up.

At the end of the day, there will always be some top players who miss out, but it all comes down to the form, the balance of the side and how they fit in. The team is listed in the order that they would come out to bat.

The Midfield Magicians

The Spanish international team has dominated world football over the last decade. The team maintains high ball possession, following classic Tiki-Taka, guiding the ball and exploiting open spaces on the field. The midfield duo, Xavi Hernandez and Andreas Iniesta, have played a crucial role for the Spanish international side, as well as FC Barcelona, providing a solid midfield for the teams over the years. Xavi Hernandez, considered to be the most successful midfielders of all time, has played as a supplier. On the other hand, Andreas Iniesta, playing a slightly attacking role, is an excellent holder and dribbler.

Xavi-Iniesta

Xavi is one of the finest outputs of Barcelona’s youth club. Having played his first club match in 1998, he has been in the first team since then, shattering records thereafter. He was awarded the IFFHS World’s best playmaker during 2008,2009,2010,2011 and La Liga’s Midfielder of the year during 2009, 2010 and 2011. His vision and ability to control and pass pinpoint accuracy is unmatched.

Like fellow La Masia graduate, Iniesta started his career as a defensive midfielder. With his ability to cruise the ball through the hearts of defenses and his world class finishing, he started playing as a complete attacking midfielder. Proving to be the most influential player for his teams, he has been entitled as the best attacking midfielder in La Liga for the years 2009,2011,2012,2013 and 2014.

Xavi managed 3rd place during 2010 and 2011 for the Ballon d’Or, whereas Iniesta managed 2nd place in 2010, 4th in 2011 and 3rd in 2012. In spite of sheer class, none of them could manage to win the Ballon d’Or. They played an important role as Spain stood world cup winners during 2010 with Iniesta’s goal in the breathtaking finals against Netherlands. They were also European champions during 2008 and 2012.

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Xavi has managed highest number of touches per game, for that matter of fact, even the highest number of successful passes for a few seasons. It’s always hard to see legends lower their game standards. A young generation always takes over, yet, this duo has created history. The Spanish side develops promising players due to their youth academies. Isco and Koke are often compared to the maestro and the magician. With new set of players, there is always a scope of improvement; yet, can anyone orchestrate the team as they have? For that we’ll have to wait and watch.

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