Thursday, December 29, 2016

Ranji Trophy 16-17: Quarter-finals Jharkhand vs Haryana

The season just keeps on getting better and better for the team. They are through to the semi-finals with an outright win to boot and that too after playing the entire game with effectively 10 players.

The start was inauspicious with Jharkhand losing their pace spearhead Ashish Kumar to injury in the 3rd over of the game. But shahbaz Nadeem picked up 7 wickets to knock over Haryana. The batsmen then managed a big lead with Virat Singh getting a century. In the second innings, Haryana tried to make a comeback but Nadeem picked up 4 more. The target of 170 odd would have tricky, but Ishan Kishan who was promoted to open the batting had other ideas. Jharkhand put on their best opening partnership of the season as they cantered to a 5-wicket victory.

Coming up next - semi-final against Gujarat whose Samit Gohil broke a 117 year old first class record of the highest score while carrying the bat.

P.S. probably the first time a Jharkhand Ranji game was televised.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Arbit Stats #62: Most Improved

Test Match #2241: India vs England

a) Karun Nair becomes the second Indian batsman to score a triple hundred in Test match cricket.

b) Karun Nair becomes the fastest to score a triple hundred in just his 3rd Test innings.

c) But most importantly Karun Nair improves his highest Test score from 13 to 303 not out, a whopping improvement of 290 runs !!! beating Tip Foster who scored 287 on debut (!!!).

Now, thats what you call improvement.

By the looks of it, he should have a decent career ahead.

P.S. Stats courtesy Andy Zaltzman - the master of all weird statistics.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Ranji Trophy 16-17: Jharkhand vs Odisha

Match Summary: Odisha (152 & 103) lost to Jharkhand (348) by innings & 93 runs   
Points: Jharkhand 7, Odisha 0

It was a dead rubber with both teams having qualified. However being the only game underway, it had the undivided attention of India's domestic cricket followers with the key point of interest being whether Jharkhand would overtake Karnataka to be the group toppers.

And top they did and in quite some style smashing Odisha by an innings to take a bonus point as well. They ran through the Odisha batting on first day with spinners Nadeem and Sunny Gupta doing most of the damage. Then put on a big lead with fifties from Virat Singh (on comeback), Saurabh Tiwary and Kaushal Singh. Then they ran through Odisha once again with Nadeem and Kaushal Singh doing most of the damage. Certainly a morale-boosting win to take into the knock-outs.

A 5th win of the season and impressive performance throughout was bound to bring you in the limelight. And Cricinfo did a whole article on the youthful Jharkhand team, who are looking ahead to create a name for themselves.

  • Team Changes: In - Virat Singh, Sunny Gupta, Vikash Singh; Out - Ashish Kumar, Pratyush Singh, Rahul Shukla (after a Man-of the-Match effort in the previous game!). 
  • Kaushal Singh received the Man-of-the-Match award.
Season Stats
Top Scorer: Ishank Jaggi 675 @61.36
Most Wickets: Shahbaz Nadeem 39 @28.26
Player Count: 17

Points Tally - 39 after 8 games to take the top spot in the group. Meanwhile Odisha keep 3rd place to also qualify for the knock-outs.

Coming Up Next - Haryana in the Quarter-finals. They will be likely to be bolstered by the return of Amit Mishra and Jayant Yadav from national duty (injuries permitting). 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Arbit Stats #61: Is it a Team Sport?

Just when you think you have seen all the bizarre scorecards, this comes up.
Image Source: ESPN Cricinfo
In an Under-19 Women's Game in South Africa, Mpumalanga's Shania-Lee Swart scored 160 unbeaten runs out of her team's total of 169 runs. All her fellow batters scored a grand total of O (Zero) between them with Extras contributing 9 !!!

This was more than enough to win the game for Mpumalanga as their opponents Easterns could muster only 127 with Swart who also opened the bowling picked up two wickets.

An innings which single-handedly took her team to victory. Must have been some performance.

Sunday, December 11, 2016


Test Match #2239: India vs England, Mumbai
Virat Kohli and Jayant Yadav put on a double-century stand (215 unbeaten at Lunch on Day 4), grinding down the English bowlers to put India into a commanding position in the 4th Test of the series. During the course of the innings they created a new Indian record for the highest 8th wicket partnership in Test cricket, breaking the old record of 161 between Azhar and Kumble made in 1996 against South Africa at Eden Gardens.

And what a game that was. Still have distinct memories of the game. Inspite of the fact that I was in school and only saw the highlights at the end of day's plays. And while the scorecard  says, South Africa won by a huge margin of 329 runs, this game still holds lots of wonderful memories for the Indian fan.

South Africa had galloped ahead and India were playing catch-up throughout the game. The openers put on a double century opening stand but were reined in by Venkatesh Prasad, probably the gentlest of medium-pacers, who took a 5-wicket haul in a space of five overs. This man had the ability to produce something special out of nowhere. (Never forget "THAT" response to Aamer Sohail!!!).

In response, the Indian top order collapsed. Nothing unusual in those days specially in the face of the top quality fast bowling. Azhar had to retire hurt, while Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly, VVS (the last 3 in their 1st year of Test cricket) were all dismissed cheaply. A follow-on seemed imminent before Azhar returned and in Kumble's company just hammered everything in sight. Eden Gardens has witnessed many a spectacular performance and this certainly was one of them. Our class was updated of the score by the teachers and also one enterprising fellow who had smuggled in a pocket radio. The score certainly moved at T20esque pace with Azhar having taken a particular liking to the debutante Klusener. The highlight was Azhar hammering Klusener for 5 boundaries in a single over. 

Source: Cricinfo
The partnership brought India back into the game. Azhar recorded the fastest Test century by an Indian batsman. When he got going, it wasn't a flash in the pan but a lightning storm. But it soon got over. Meanwhile we willed on Kumble to get to his first Test century but that wasn't to be. (Kumble did eventually score one a decade later).

As is wont with the Indian fan, the partnership flashed hopes of an unlikely victory. But it wasn't to be as the ruthless South Africans put in a big score in the second innings and gave us an even bigger target in the second. And Lance Klusener had his redemption picking up 8 wickets in the second.

But for that glorious afternoon when Azhar got going and Kumble stayed on, What a wonderful passage of play that was. The ones which stay in your memory even twenty years later!

P.S. Jayant Yadav got to his maiden Test hundred and the partnership ends at 241.

P.P.S. End of Amit Mishra's Test career? Or he makes another comeback?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Ranji Trophy 16-17: Jharkhand vs Assam

Match Summary: Jharkhand (316 &111/5) beat Assam (126 & 299 (f/o)) by 5 wickets  
Points: Jharkhand 6, Assam 0

Jharkhand recorded their 4 win of the season to seal a knock-out berth for a second year in a row. And with Karnataka losing to Saurashtra, they also leap-frogged to the top spot in the group.

Assam won the toss and put Jharkhand into bat. They were in early trouble before the experienced pair of Saurabh Tiwary and Ishank Jaggi built together a 149 run partnership for the 4th wicket. There wasn't any other substantial contribution as the team folded out for 316. This proved a big score as the Jharkhand seamers shot out Assam for 126 and enforced the follow-on. In the second innings Assam's top 3 wiped out the 190 run deficit but the rest could not add much as they collapsed form 225/1 to 299 all out leaving a target of 110. Jharkhand's chase was wobbly but Jaggi's brisk innings guided them to victory.

  • Team Changes: In - Rahul Shukla (playing his 1st game of the season) Out - Samar Quadri. 
  • 50 career wickets for Rahul Shukla who also received the Man-of-the-Match award.
Season Stats
Top Scorer: Ishank Jaggi 651 @65.10
Most Wickets: Shahbaz Nadeem 32 @32.59
Player Count: 17

Points Tally - 32 after 7 games to move up to the top spot. And with this victory Jharkhand confirm their spot in the knock-outs. Meanwhile Assam drop down to the bottom of the group.

Coming Up Next - 3rd place Odisha for whom it is a very critical match. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Arbit Stats #60: Lower Order Muscle

Test Match #2238: India vs England

India suddenly find themselves in a spot of bother with half the team gone and trailing by 130 odd runs in the first innings. England start seeing a sliver of light for a Test win.

Enter the Indian bowling attack. But with the bat.
Ravichandran Ashwin (72), Ravindra Jadeja (90 and Jayant Yadav (55) pack in a lot of punch to take India to a a lead of 130 odd in the first innings.

And in the process becoming the first ever Indian batting (or maybe bowling trio) trio to score a fifty from positions 7, 8 and 9 in the same innings.

Certainly deserve a bonus with them doing all the bowling and batting.

Image from ESPNCricinfo

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Ranji Trophy 16-17: Jharkhand vs Saurashtra

Match Summary: Saurashtra (277 & 144) lost to Jharkhand (477) by innings and 46 runs 
Points: Jharkhand 7, Saurashtra 0

Saurashtra were knocked off quickly on the first day. Although their tail wagged a bit to take the score to 277. Ashish Kumar and Shahbaz Nadeem were the wreckers in chief. In reply the Jharkhand batsmen blazed away with Ishan Kishan and Ishank Jaggi blasting big 100s with Jharkhand scoring 477 at a run rate of 4.58! Saurashtra ere knocked over quickly in the second innings with Samar Quadri picking 4 and Ashish picking 3 wickets.

Jharkhand even got the bonus point as they recorded their 3rd win of the season and seem set to qualify for the knock-outs for second year in a row.

  • Team Changes: In - Ajay Yadav, Sumit Kumar Samar Quadri. Out - Virat Singh, Sunny Gupta, Vikash Singh. 
  • 14th first class century for Ishank Jaggi and his 3rd of this season. He also completed 4000 career runs.
  • 4th first class century for Ishan Kishan, who also recorded his third of the season. Maybe its a good idea to take the keeping gloves off him.
  • Ishank Jaggi received the Man-of-the-Match award.
Season Stats
Top Scorer: Ishan Kishan 595 @74.38
Most Wickets: Shahbaz Nadeem 29 @33.79
Player Count: 16

Points Tally - 26 after 6 games to retain 2nd spot behind Karnataka (29 from 5). Meanwhile Saurashtra remain in last place. Chances of qualification looking very bright at the moment.

Coming Up Next - Jharkhand sit out the next round of games before taking on 7th place  Assam

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Ranji Trophy 16-17: Jharkhand vs Delhi

Match Summary: Jharkhand (473) drew with Delhi (334 & 484/ (f/o)) 
Points: Jharkhand 3, Delhi 1

After the previous game against Vidarbha, I had posted that it would be interesting to see the side-battle between two 19-year-old left-handed wicketkeeper batsman. And Boy! was I right. The Jharkhand vs Delhi game was reduced to a Ishan Kishan vs Rishabh Pant affair.

Delhi won the toss and put Jharkhand into bat. Jharkhand were soon 80 for 4 before Ishank Jaggi and Ishan Kishan joined forces. Kishan put up big stands with Jaggi, Kaushal Singh and Nadeem to take the score to 404 for 7. At the fall of Nadeem's wicket he opened and smashed 86 of the last 89 runs to take Jharkhand to a formidable 493. In the process breaking many Jharkhand batting records.

Delhi replied with Unmukt Chand and Rishabh Pant scoring 100s but there wasn't much support from the others as they folded up for 332. Jharkhand imposed the follow-on but Delhi easily cut into the deficit. The match was heading towards a draw when in walked Pant. And smashed a 67 ball 135 for his second century of the game with 13 sixes. Delhi decided to bat on and the game ended in a draw with Jharkhand getting 3 points on virtue of the first innings lead.

  • Team Changes: In - Sunny Gupta. Out - Ajay Yadav. 
  • Ishan Kishan's records
    • 273 - Highest first class score by any Jharkhand batsman.
    • 14 - Joint most sixes in a single innings in Ranji Trophy
    • 3rd first class century and during the course of the innings completed passed the 1000 run mark as well.
  • Meanwhile Rishabh Pant blazed a faster than run-a-ball 100 in both innings and broke the record for fastest first-class century by an Indian in just 48 balls. And as for his first-class numbers his average is Bradmanesque and Strike Rate Sehwagesque.
  • Ishan Kishan received the Man-of-the-Match award.
Season Stats
Top Scorer: Ishan Kishan 459 @65.57
Most Wickets: Shahbaz Nadeem 24 @35.67
Player Count: 15

Points Tally - 19 after 5 games to retain 2nd spot behind Karnataka (23 from 4). Meanwhile Delhi remain in 3rd place.

Coming Up Next - Saurashtra, who are at the bottom of the Group.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Arbit Stats #59: Un-out-able Kraigg

Test Match #2229: Pakistan vs West Indies

Kraigg Brathwaite became the first opening batsman ever to remain Not Out in Both innings of a Test Match.  A tremendous achivement which resulted in a rare West Indies Test victory.

To misquote Ian Bishop (and with apologies to Carlos) - "Kraigg Brathwaite! Remember the Name!!!"

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ranji Trophy 16-17: Jharkhand vs Vidarbha

Match Summary: Vidarbha (105 & 444) drew with Jharkhand (362/8d & 75/4)
Points: Jharkhand 3, Vidarbha 1

Well begun but just could not get over the line. Jharkhand won the toss and knocked out Vidarbha for 105 with debutante Vikash Singh being the pick of the bowlers. In reply Jharkhand grabbed a huge lead, bolstered by Jaggi's second consecutive century. They must have had their sights set on a bonus point victory but Vidarbha proved more difficult to dislodge in the second innings as they racked up 444 to set Jharkhand a target of 188. Jharkhand survived a wobbly start and closed down the shutters to gather 3 points from the game.

  • Team Changes: In - Vikash Singh. Out - Sunny Gupta. 
  • Vikash Singh made his first class debut and picked up a 4-wicket haul in the first innings.
  • Pratyush Singh got his first  highest Test score with his first fifty in just his second game. 
  • 13th First Class century for Ishank Jaggi.
  • Ajay Yadav reached 50 first class wickets at an average of under 19. Maybe a good time to move to a higher level.
Season Stats
Top Scorer: Ishank Jaggi 296 @49.33
Most Wickets: Shahbaz Nadeem 19 @31.63
Player Count: 15

Points Tally - 16 after 4 games to drop down to 2nd spot behind Karnataka. Meanwhile Vidarbha move up 1 place to 6th.

Coming Up Next - Delhi, who are currently 3rd in the Group. Interesting to watch the relative performances of India U-19 graduates Ishan Kishan & Rishabh Pant.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Ranji Trophy 16-17: Jharkhand vs Rajasthan

Match Summary: Jharkhand (209 & 277) beat Rajasthan (207 & 237) by 42 runs 
Points: Jharkhand 6, Rajasthan 0

Second outright win of the season propelled Jharkhand to the top of Group B and in pole position for one of the knock-out berths.

Jharkhand won the toss and were all out for 209 with Kaushal Singh adding a fifty his century in the first game. Other batsmen got starts but no one capitalized on it with Pankaj Singh taking 5 wicket. Rajasthan had a great start with the openers putting on a 100 partnership but then Shahbaz Nadeem had other ideas as he ran through the Rajasthan line up and Jharkhand got a slender 2 run lead. In the second innings Jharkhand were in trouble with 7 wickets down for 163 before Ishank Jaggi and Nadeem put up a 99 run stand for the 8th wicket. Jaggi went on to get a round 100 as Jharkhand were all out for 277. Nadeem was once again amongst the wickets as Rajasthan lost 8 wickets for 137 in the chase. However, then came an irritating 87 run 9th wicket stand. But Jharkhand were finally able to break through and register a well deserved win.

In the end it was a fighting win as the team kept fighting hard and did not give up.

  • Team Changes: In - Ajay Yadav, Sunny Gupta, Pratyush Singh. Out - Varun Aaron, Shiv Gautam, Samar Quadri. 
  • Saurabh Tiwary lead the side in place of Aaron.
  • Pratyush Singh made his first class debut. Decent outing having got starts in both innings but couldn't capitalize on it.
  • 12th First Class century for Ishank Jaggi.
  • 2nd 10-wicket match haul for Nadeem which included his 10th & 11th 5-wicket hauls. Nadeem picked up the Man of the Match award.
Season Stats
Top Scorer: Kaushal Singh 193 @48.25
Most Wickets: Shahbaz Nadeem 18 @27.06
Player Count: 14

Points Tally - 13 after 3 games. Right at the top of the table. Meanwhile Rajasthan drop down to 4th place.

Coming Up Next - Vidarbha, who are currently at 7th place in the Group but have played one game less.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Arbit Stats #58: Big Gaps

Test Match #2225: Bangladesh vs England
It could turn out to an extra-ordinary one or it could be just another Test but for one player, this game is special.

Gareth Batty returns to the England Test side after having missed 142 Test matches in between over a period of 11 years. And in the process breaking compatriot Martin Bicknell's 124 game missing streak by a whopping 28 Tests. (Full list)

Lets hope he gets a better run this time around.

P.S. Wondering how would the likes of Kepler Wessels (who played for Australia and South Africa be accommodated in such lists)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Ranji Trophy 16-17: Jharkhand vs Karnataka

Match Summary: Karnataka (577/6d & 162/3) drew with Jharkhand (374)
Points: Karnataka 3, Jharkhand 1

The kind of game where one team decided that it doesn't want to win. Otherwise there is no obvious reason for Karnataka not enforcing the follow-on on the last morning and giving themselves a shot at earning 3/4 additional points.

Karnataka batted first and rode Samarth's double hundred to overcome an initial wobble and pile on a big score. Jharkhand were in trouble but managed to extend their first innings just enough to ensure that Karnataka did not enforce the follow-on. Ishan Kishan played a blistering innings to spare Jharkhand the blushes and secure one point from the game.

  • Team Changes: In - Samar Quadri. Out - Ajay Yadav.
  • 2nd first class century & career best score for Ishan Kishan. Comparisons with another Jharkhand keeper will become a norm if such performances continue. 
Season Stats
Top Scorer: Ishan Kishan 163 @81.50
Most Wickets: Ashish Kumar 9 @19.78 

Points Tally - 7 after 2 games. Currently lying in 4th place in the group, well in hunt for a knock-out berth.

Coming Up Next - Rajasthan, who are currently at the top in the Group.

Swapnil Gugale & Ankit Bawne put on an unbeaten 594 stand before Gugale declared, leaving themselves just 30 short of the highest partnership record in first class cricket. Apparently they were not aware of the record! Although not similar but reminds of the BB Nimbhalkar's first class epic where he missed out on the highest  first-class score at the time because the opposing Kathiawar team refused to take the field anymore!!!

Coming back to the game, even this huge score almost did not prove enough because young Risabh Pant hammered a triple hundred at near run-a-ball but Delhi just fell short.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Ranji Trophy 16-17: Jharkhand vs Maharashtra

Match Summary: Maharashtra (210 & 188) lost to Jharkhand (306 & 93/4) by 6 wickets
Points: Maharashtra 0, Jharkhand 6

A good start to the new season for team Jharkhand. Probably the exposure in the pre-season Buchi Babu tournament helped the team a lot. Maybe its time for Jharkhand to start their own pres-season invitational tournament.

Maharashtra batted first but didn't score much as they found the pace of Varun Aaron too much to handle. Kedar Jadhav and Ankit Bawne got 50s and stitched a century stand but there was not much else to follow. In response, Jharkhand were in trouble with half the side back in pavilion with only 106 on board. But the tail had other ideas as they built small partnerships to stretch the score past 300 and take a healthy 96 run lead. The bowlers once again combined to restrict Maharashtra to 188 with Kedar Jadhav again scoring a fifty. Jharkhand had a wobbly start in their chase of 93 as both openers got out for ducks, before Virat Singh anchored the chase to set up a 6 wicket victory.

  • 19 year old Kaushal Singh's maiden first class century.
  • Saurabh Tiwary reaching the 5000 run mark in first class cricket.
  • 250 first-class wickets for Shahbaz Nadeem.

Season Stats
Top Scorer: Kaushal Singh 130 @130
Most Wickets: Ashish Kumar 6 @12.67 

Points Tally - 6 after 1 game. Currently lying in 2nd place in the group.

Coming Up Next - Domestic powerhouse Karnataka, who did not play in the first round of the season.

P.S - Congratulations to Chhattisgarh on winning their maiden Ranji game. Hopefully this performance will open up the path for teams like Bihar to enter the Ranji fold.

P.P.S. - This is the 400th post on this blog.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

India: 500 Not Out

India play their 500th Test match at Kanpur against the Kiwis. Could have been just another game but cricket (and its fans) love statistics. So becomes one of the most significant games in India's Test history. To celebrate this milestone, its time to pick up an XI of India's most memorable moments in the Test arena.

Disclaimer - The memories are the ones which happened on my watch. So all are post 1989 or as we cricket tragics mark the event, after Sachin Tendulkar's debut.

1. That Partnership at Eden Gardens, 2001
The greatest turnaround in the history of the game at one of its greatest centers against an all-conquering Australian side who were treating the series as the "Final Frontier". They were well on their way to achieve their goal till they were stopped in their tracks by VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid. The 4th day's play was not just match or series turning, it permanently instilled a belief in all Indian fans that miracles do happen.

2. The Chase in Chennai, 2008
By itself it would be remembered as one of our greatest victories. India chased down 387 with Sachin Tendulkar hitting the winning runs after Sehwag had given a turbo-powered start to the chase. But then it wasn't just any other game, being played in the aftermath of the horrific Mumbai attacks. Sometimes sport can provide just that bit of healing touch to a whole nation.

Rahul Dravid hitting the winning runs on the 5th day. An image firmly etched in the memories of the Indian fan. Australia had scored big, but they ran into a pair of familiar foes. The Dravid-VVS combo ensured that both teams are on equal footing after the first innings. And then the much maligned Ajit Agarkar produced his best spell of Test match bowling to knock out the Australians. And he was there at the other end with Dravid to see it through to the end.

On a green pitch, India chose to bat first and the English team had the absolute privilege of being the only team to witness centuries from Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly in the same innings. And they followed it by slumping to an innings defeat against the spin duo of Kumble & Harbhajan on a green top.

5. The Monkeygate Test, Sydney, 2008
A match India lost on the field but where on-field incidents spilled over threatening diplomatic relations. Players were called over for investigations by international judges into racial abuse. There were umpiring controversies galore and accusations of cheating. Questions were raised on the very spirit of the game. The Australians seemed rattled as Anil Kumble declared that "there was only one team playing in the spirit of the game", reminding them of Bodyline time. It was ugly. And after all that the Indians bounced back to win the next one at Perth. Karma. Probably.

6. Sreesanth's six off Andre Nel, Johannesberg, 2006
S. Sreesanth, one of the biggest enigmas of Indian cricket. A freakish talent which went to waste. Amongst his achievements, the one stand-out would be to shut up Andre Nel. And he did it in his own maverick style. Hits a six, runs off to the other end and then starts... dancing!!! Leaving Nel bemused and everyone else rolling in laughter. And he also picked up 8 wickets in the game to win India's first ever Test victory in South Africa.

7. Declared at 194, Multan, 2004
The match had it all. India's first Test victory in Pakistan. Sehwag establishing his legendary status by hitting India's first ever Test triple. And Dravid declaring with Sachin batting at 194. Something which the stat-hungry Indian fan could not get his head around. But all's well that ends well.

8. Kapil Dev's Blitzkrieg off Eddie Hemmings, Lords, 1990
You need 24 runs to avoid the follow-on. And you have a genuine number 11 for company at the other end. So what do you do? If you are Kapil Dev, you take matters into your own hand and just hammer 4 consecutive sixes. And Hirwani at the other end promptly got out the very next ball. Couldn't prevent a defeat but it was heroic. Personally, me missed out following most of Kapil Dev's glorious career and only remember the dragged out ending in pursuit of Hadlee's Test record.

9. Kumble's Perfect 10, Kotla, 1999
On a pitch which had been dug up a few weeks before, Anil Kumble produced one of those freakish spells of bowling, taking out all 10 Pakistani wickets in the 2nd innings and squaring up the series. And wiping off some of the bad memories of the previous game at Chennai.

10. The Chennai heart-break, 1999
One of the heart-breaking results for an Indian fan. Sachin Tendulkar nearly pulled off a 4th innings chase all by himself. But the tail could not finish up the job. India were left 12 short off what would have been a sensational victory against arch-rivals Pakistan.

11. Bludgeoned in Bridgetown, 1997
For an Indian fan, the 90s were really tough to watch, especially when India was playing abroad. We just couldn't get an overseas test victory (not even in Zimbabwe). So when India got a target of 120 against West Indies, it seemed the elusive overseas victory would be finally achieved. But the pace trio of Ambrose, Bishop and Rose had other plans as India were blown away for 81. That overseas victory would have to wait a few more years.

And the 12th Man. The Test that wasn't, Centurion, 2001
Two full-strength national sides taking on each other in a five day clash played under Test match conditions but not being called a Test match. The aftermath of the Mike Denness affair had led to India lodging a protest. ICC did not withdraw the referee. So India and South Africa got a different referee. ICC removed Test status from the game (but it was still a first class game). This could have been Dravid's captaincy debut. And for poor Connor Willaims, this was his only match for India and could have been his debut. He never payed another international. And the Kanpur Test would have been India's 501st.

And the ones which did not make to the list - Irfan Pathan's first over hat-trick against Pakistan, Sehwag's 293 against Sri Lanka, Zaheer Khan's jellybean incident, Kumble bowling with a broken jaw, Dravid's Sabina Park exploits, Harbhajan's 2001 series. And many, many more.

Hopefully many more will come in over the coming years.

The Eden Gardens winning moment

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Jharkhand Domestic Schedule: 2016-17 Season

After some judicial delays, the domestic cricket season has been announced. And as has been the case every year, some more tinkering has been done with the different tournaments. Cricket has been constantly evolving. India's domestic cricket even more so. So this year we have
  • a new domestic team in Chhattisgarh
  • Duleep Trophy is now a 3-team affair being played under lights with a pink ball. (A First-Class Challenger Trophy)
  • Mustaq Ali Trophy will now be an inter-zonal tournament instead of being an inter-state one (A T20 Deodhar Trophy)
  • All Ranji matches will be played at neutral venues.
Like the past few seasons, Slisptream Cricket will continue putting out regular posts about Jharkhand's progress in these tournaments. Last year the team had a fairly good run reaching the quarter-finals in all three formats. Lets wait and watch their progress this season.

Jharkhand's fixtures for 2016-17

Ranji Trophy - Jharkhand has been promoted into Group B, which will be sending 3 teams into the knock-outs.
  1. October 6-9, 2016, vs Maharashtra (Delhi)
  2. October 13-16, 2016, vs Karnataka (Chennai)
  3. October 20-23, 2016, vs Rajasthan (Vadodara)
  4. October 27-30, 2016 vs Vidarbha (Wayanad, Kerala)
  5. November 5-8, 2016, vs Delhi (Thumba, Kerala)
  6. November 13-16, 2016, vs Saurashtra (Agartala)
  7. November 29-December 2, 2016, vs Assam (Vizianagaram)
  8. December 7-10, 2016, vs Odisha (Chennai)
The knock-outs will be held in second half of Decemeber with the final being played in January.

Vijay Hazare Trophy - Jharkhand are placed in Group D, with all games being played in Kolkata
  1. February 25, 2017, vs Karnataka
  2. February 26, 2017, vs Chhattisgarh
  3. February 27, 2017, vs Services
  4. March 1, 2017, vs Saurashtra
  5. March 3, 2017, vs Hyderabad
  6. March 6, 2017, vs Jammu & Kashmir
2 teams will progress into the quarter-finals from each group. The final is slated for 18th March, 2017.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Gulabi Gend

Sometime last week. 

The Olympics were over and won’t be back for the next 4 years. After 17 days of non-stop multi-sport action, a giant void has been left in prime time television. In an attempt to fill up this void, started surfing through the sports channels and ended up on some live cricket telecast. And it wasn’t just any game. History was being created. The first ever first-class game being played in India with a pink ball. Between India Green and India Red (or maybe it was India Blue).

The pink ball is still very much a novelty. Enough to keep me hooked for a while. It was looking pretty under the lights. And our Jharkhand Bradman, Saurabh Tiwary was on crease. Only after watching the action for some time did I notice the commentary. 2 commentators giving a ball by ball report of the on-field action. One speaking in Hindi and the other in English.  

And then I heard. Gulabi Gend!

Ahh! The pearls of Hindi commentary. Where the commentator translates every word literally (e.g. Chhotti Gend, Lamba shot etc.) Wonder why though? After all sport has its own language and need not be dumbed down by this literal translation. Also reminded me of the movie Lagaan, which had the best Hindi commentator ever. (Maybe with the exception of the Sehwag-Shoaib Akhtar combo).

Anyways back to the "gulabi gend" game. It was an interesting game with the fortunes swinging around heavily from ball to bat. There was quite a decent crowd enjoying the game as well. While I am not too sure about the players reactions, the pink ball was easily spotted on the TV especially in the background of the green pitches. Run making was fast. Bowlers also held an advantage at times. Although quite a few catches were dropped. Maybe visibility issues? The audience might be ready for pink ball cricket but this project is still in pilot stage. Further testing in different conditions is needed before launching it on to the interantional stage in India. 

However, while the pink ball was a novelty, this alternating commentary needs to be stopped. It is jarring to hear and well makes you want to switch off the TV. BCCI, क्या आप सुन रहे हो ?

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Arbit Stats #57: Blockathon

Test Match #2209: Sri Lanka vs Australia

Probably one of the best Test matches in a while. If it had been an Ashes game, paeans would have been written about it. But it was a Test match in Sri Lanka (like another one in Galle almost a year back).

Unlike most matches, there was a third player involved, the rain Gods. They had their own way of making their presence felt at different points in the game. Australia were on top, Sri Lanka fought to keep the lead down. Then came the Kusal Mendis special, rains appeared on and off,  but Australia sank deeper and deeper. Then came the block with an eye on the rains. The block went on and on, the skies grew darker, but the rains stayed away. After 178 balls of stoic resistance, the wicket was prised out. And Sri lanka romped home to a famous win, only their second ever against Australia.

But what a resistance it was. Steve O'Keefe and Peter Nevill just blocked their way in a partnership of 178 balls with just one scoring shot making new records for the biggest runless period of play - over 23 overs without scoring a run. For a perspective that is longer  than an entire T20 innings!!!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Arbit Stats #56: Virat Kohli

Test Match #2207: West Indies vs India, Antigua

This is India's 248th Test abroad. And Virat Kohli becomes the 1st Indian captain to score a double century away. Previous record being held by Mohammaed Azharuddin's 192 in New Zealand. (Full List)

Interestingly this is also his highest score in any format of senior cricket.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Arbit Stats #55: Misbah

Test Match #2206: England vs Pakistan, Lords

At the ripe young age of 42 Years & 47 Days, Misbah-ul-Haq became the oldest captain to score a Test Match century. And then proceeded to celebrate the mark by doing 10 Push-ups. 

May you play forever. After all you bring a sense of sanity in the madness that is Pakistan cricket.

Source: Getty Images

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ranji at Nets

Sometimes the internet can come up with gems. 

The black and white video depicts Kumar Shri Ranjitsinghji (better known as Ranji) practicing in the nets. The video was shot during the 1897-98 Ashes tour in Australia by Henry Walter Barnett. He made three more such films during the tour but those are now lost.

Although the video is not from any game, but it is probably the oldest cricketing action of any kind captured on film. The silent film depicts Ranji practicing an array of shots. We hardly see the bowler or any other player. Except for the gentleman standing behind the nets in a waistcoat and hat, watching the proceedings while barely moving.  

Observations from the film 
  • Players of earlier time wore different kind of clothes. The white shirt, cuffed to the wrists, wouldn't have looked out of place in formal gatherings.
  • There are no bails on the stumps
  • The famous "Leg Glance" - the shot which Ranji is said to have invented.
  • The only protective equipment visible are the pads. (Even gloves are missing or not visible)
  • And finally (as pointed out by a friend), how thin the bat is as compared to the modern bats.
Cricket has evolved a lot since the days of Ranji, but the evolution seems to have been almost entirely in favour of the batsmen with the bowlers being treated as second-grade citizens. Thicker bats, smaller boundaries, bowling and fielding restrictions, pitches being covered, protective equipment (helmet, arm guard, chest guard and what not), Free Hits. All this making batting easier (relatively speaking since Ranji's time). And of course the players are much fitter and stronger. Batting from a Test has evolved into the brute power of T20.

On the other hand bowler's have had to evolve themselves. Newer innovations are being crafted. e.g. Bodyline, Bouncers, Doosra, Carrom Ball, Reverse Swing, Slower Ball, Slow Bouncer etc. But many of these have been treated with suspicion like witchcraft and the dark arts. And been banned or restrictions imposed (at various times) during the course of the cricketing history. e.g. Bodyline and Spin bowling restricted by new fielding regulations, Bouncers limited to one an over, Ball-tampering allegations against Reverse swing, Balls being changed more frequently. 

In all, things are stacked up against the bowlers, yet this lot doesn't seem to give up easily. They innovate but the administrators swing the balance back in the batsmen's favour with new regulations. Cricket certainly has changed quite a bit over the years.

P.S. India's first Test on film (Link)

Arbit Stats #54: Maiden Starts

T20I #560: Zimbabwe vs India, Harare

India beat Zimbabwe in a low-scoring encounter by 3 runs. Special highlight of the game being both innings started with a maiden to the bowler. Tendai Chatara bowled one to start India's innings while Barinder Sran started off with a maiden to commence Zimbabwe's innings. 

Slight anamoly being that Sran did concede a leg-bye, but they don't count towards the bowler's stats (like byes).

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Applying for the India Coach Position

The Board for Cricket Control in India (BCCI) has invited applications for the position of the "Head Coach" for the Senior India Men's Cricket Team (Link). In line with its new-found love for openness, BCCI has also posted the eligibility guidelines fot the post. Slipstream Cricket would like to present their case for the advertised post in line with these criterion.

Candidates applying for this position will need fulfil and demonstrate evidence of and knowledge in :
1.Should have successfully coached a cricket team of any of the member countries of the ICC, at the first class or at the International level. 
Not fulfilled. But do have multiple years of experience in managing playing XIs in Fantasy Leagues.

2.It is preferred that the candidate should be qualified through a certification/assessment program conducted by any of the full member countries and currently possess such a valid certification. 
Not fulfilled, but this criterion is preferred and not compulsory

3.Should be able to prepare and present a coaching plan elaborating the approach for ‘Team India’ to attain leadership position in all formats of the game. 
I am ready with my Vision & Mission for Team India (but this is a public forum so not sharing details here)

4.Demonstrate methods/tools to effectively measure individual player performance and present metrics to the Board, which will in turn measure the performance of the team, on a consistent and timely basis. 
Moneyball type evaluation will KPIs on defined OKRs will be used and 360° feedback shared with relevant stake-holders for performance improvement. 

5.Demonstrate an understanding and ability of employing a multi disciplinary approach that will include sports psychology and sports medicine, and effectively manage the work load of the players, thereby enhancing their contribution to the cause of the team. 
"employ a multi-disciplinary approach"; "effectively manage work-load", "enhance contribution". I like this heavy use of MBA jargons. I shall have a result-oriented holistic approach towards achieving our one-year vision to reach the number one ranking across formats while ensuring all-round development of stakeholders.

6.Communication skills befitting the coach of an International team are mandatory along with the ability to effectively convey the right messages and must demonstrate proficiency in English. It is desirable to communicate in Hindi and other regional Indian languages.
English, Hindi, and snatches of Marathi, Assamese and Bangla - this one I sail through [Fluent in Minionese also, although that may not be relevent here]

7.Should be well versed with the latest technologies/trends in sports software and ability to utilise the same, which will assist in analysing/ improving the performance of the player and the team. 
Can play around Cricinfo's Statsguru & have proficiency in MS Office products (oops, that was for Pakistan's coach position)

8.Mandatory that the candidate should have an impeccable personal record, devoid of any past or current disputes, with any of the member boards of the ICC or its affiliates. 
All clear on this front!!!

9.Demonstrate plans and ability to contribute to the NCA Cricket Development Programmes and forecasting/planning to develop the next generation cricketer and agree to make themselves available for the NCA, as and when they are not with the team. 
Proper Supply Chain Management tools will be used so that resource wastage is minimized  and the supply pipeline to the national team doesn't run dry (Also Refer 4 & 5 above).

Out of nine, six criterion fully met, 1 partially met, and one is optional. I rest my case! 
Now awaiting a call from Mr. Ajay Shirke, Hony Secretary BCCI.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Arbit Stats #53: Nervous 9990s

Test Match #2204: England vs Sri Lanka

Before the start of the series Alastair Cook needed 36 runs to become the first Englishman to reach the 10,000 career Test runs mark. However this seems to have become a big bugbear for him as he has fallen short twice in the pursuit. In the 2nd Test of the series, he has become the 3rd batsmen to be dismissed in the nervous 9990s in Test tally.

Previous members of the nervous 9990s club - Lara & Jayawardene. (Elite company).

So the wait becomes longer for Cook.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The 2016 T20 World Cup

Its less than a week since the final of the T20 World Cup and we have the IPL knocking on our TV screens. While we await the festivities to begin, there is just enough to time to recollect the lasting images from the World Cup.

West Indies Won. And provided their own highlights reel for the tournament - Darren Sammy tearing into the Board during the final presentation, Samuels talking with his bat and mouth, Brathwaite hammering Stokes for 4 sixes and finally the Champion song. It was West Indies all over.  And they also won the Women's World Cup

2. Afghanistan
They are the fairy-tale story which keeps giving happiness to all cricket fans. They cruised into the main rounds easily knocking out Zimbabwe. Then proceeded to give a scare to everyone of their Super Stage opponents. They also collected a victory over eventual champions West Indies. Such was their exuberance that even Gayle joined in their victory celebrations. 

3. England failing to collect a famous defeat
England had a great World Cup, Just when they had one hand on the Cup, they were knocked off by the Brathwaite assault. A great turn-around for a team which failed to reach the ODI World Cup quarter-finals. And this time they didn't collect their now customary famous defeat as has become their habit in World events. Though they did come close against Afghanistan.

4. Virat Kohli & Joe Root
The men of the moment. Showing that even with classic cricketing shots you can still go at a strike rate of 150+. A batting delight for both the lovers of T20 madness and the purists. And as a bonus add their golden arms.

5. Sehwag & Shoaib
During their playing careers, Virender Sehwag & Shoaib Akhtar faced off against each other many a time. Encounters which provided many lasting images for the fans. And now they have formed an interesting partnership behind the microphones. The duo lighted up an increasingly dull commentary box. For the first time in many years, I actually preferred listening to Hindi commentary over English, especially when this duo was doing the commentary.

6. Upset of the tournament - Oman beating Ireland
Says a lot about (a) the progress made by the Irish in the cricketing circles and (b) the fickle nature of the T20 format with reducing gaps between the teams.  T20 is a more encompassing format and probably would spread the game further across the world while simultaneously killing Test cricket in many of the established arenas.

7. The Associate Dilemma
To simply put it, the ICC do not know what to do with the Associates. They want cricket to spread to generate more revenue sources. Currently the Associates are just a cost centre for them. And they certainly do not want them to cause any big upset (a la 2007 ODI World Cup) which destroys revenue from existing cash cows like India. So we have a token Associate participation now. 6 teams from the rest of the world qualify to play another Qualifiers. Dave Richardson has come up with a proposal to expand the Qualifier base, but at the same time has reduced the frequency of the World Cups.

8. Teams not turning up

  • South Africa continued their tradition of flattering to deceive. This time around it was their bowling doing the choking act. 
  • Sri Lanka were defending champions, yet hardly created a ripple. The retirement of Sanga & Mahela and Malinga's absence has really created a big void which can't just be filled up. 
  • While New Zealand played attractive cricket, their campaign had a familiar ring to it - Innovative and ending in the semi-finals. 
  • While Bangladesh have made large strides, they still need some tuning up at the World arena.
9. 11-Nil
The hype is still the same. The build-up is the same. And even the result is the same, And the Indian fans are not complaining.

10. Mitchell Johnson does not learn
Some habits die hard. Mitchell Johnson is now retired, but his sledging continues to hurt his own team . Wound up Kohli with his tweets prior to India-Australia game. [Not dissimilar to this]

11. The Champion Song
Cricket now has its own patented celebration, thanks to our own DJ - DJ Bravo.

Now the World Cup can rest while the IPL madness takes over.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Rally Around the West Indies

World T20 Finals: Last Over, 19 needed - Ben Stokes bowling to Carlos Brathwaite
6, 6, 6, 6 

The Champion song rang across the Eden Gardens as West Indies cricket soared. The men became the first team to win the T20 World Cup twice. Just hours earlier the women had won their maiden title. And a few weeks back the Under-19 team had won a world cup of their own. It was time for celebrations. Even the most partial cricket follower was soaking in the happy feeling of the West Indies’ victories. 

Everything seemed perfect in the West Indies Cricket world. Until their skipper, Darren Sammy dropped in a harsh reality check. In an emotional victory speech, he described the struggles his team had faced, mostly from their own board. 

"We started this journey … people were wondering whether we would play this tournament. We had a lot of issues, we felt disrespected by our board .... We had a new manager in this tournament in Rawl Lewis, he had never managed any team before. He came here, we were at a camp in Dubai, but we had no uniforms, no printed … he left Dubai, went to Kolkata, that's where he started. The trouble he went to, to get us in this uniform ……Lastly I really want to thank the heads of CARICOM, throughout this tournament they have been supporting the team, we've got emails, we've got phone calls,… and I'm yet to hear from our own cricket board. That is very disappointing......For today, I'm going to celebrate with these 15 men and coaching staff. I don't know when I'm going to be playing with these guys again because we don't get selected for one-day cricket. We don't know when we're going to be playing T20. So this win, I want to thank you my team, I want to thank you coaching staff … everybody know West Indies are champion!" [Full Text]

Disrespected by Board! A manager who has never managed before! No uniforms!
Pretty damning words! Says a lot about the state of West Indies cricket. Pay disputes are now part and parcel of the West Indies story. As are weird selections. Players choose to play franchisee cricket over playing for West Indies. There has even been a tour pull-out, of all places, India, one country whose board you do not want to mess with. There have been farcical tours where players have been picked on the basis of who agreed to toe the Board’s line. Ironically, Sammy himself was first picked in such a series. He was appointed captain because he was considered an establishment man and now has fired the biggest salvo against his board at the biggest stage of them all. Ah! The irony of it all. (He has become WICB’s own Frankenstein monster).

Some would say it’s the players who are to blame. They have given into greed and play only for money. They are a bunch of mercenaries who only turn up for West Indies when they do not have any other paymaster. Could be true. But if the incentive to play for a franchisee is more than that for a country then the administrators also have to take the blame. After all this is a board which sold out its team to a fraud billionaire, imposes weird selection criterion for its best talents. At the same time manages to anger the most powerful cricket board. The pay disputes have gone on for too long to be just a player issue now. 

On the field, the West Indies players are the most sought after in the T20 franchisee world because they are match-winners and more importantly are always available. But as a team, hardly anyone is interested in a series with West Indies. [Aside – how can so many T20 leagues avoid clashing with each other, while international assignments do?] 

If the Board head honchos had any sense of shame, they would have resigned after Sammy’s outbursts. But then that’s too much to expect from any administrator across sports in any part of the world. They need to be hounded out (a la Blatter or Srinivasan). All they have offered is talks with the key players on their future after the IPL (After all in West Indies cricket, a T20 league always takes priority over all other matters). 

West Indies cricket has always lacked money but has been full of individual flair and passion. Since their inception, their players have played for other teams. Earlier it used to be for the counties and league cricket in England and Australia, and then for Packer. So the current lot is just continuing the trend of their predecessors. Only they have more options now. How the Board manages the money pumping in from the CPL is a bigger question. And that will be the key to deciding the future of their cricket, specially in the longer formats.

The wins prove that West Indies still has talent and more is coming up. Yet how much of it will keep playing for West Indies is a big question. Something which needs to be sorted out together by the Board and the players. Otherwise the end is nigh for West Indies cricket. 

Sammy's speech was the best thing to happen for West Indies cricket. It carried more punch than the 4 Carlos Brathwaite sixes combined. And it seems to have reignited the Fire in Babylon

While we wait for the next salvo in this war, here is to the Champions. After all everyone knows that Sammy and his men are Champyons!!!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

India at the 2016 T20 World Cup

Ladies first

This was a golden opportunity squandered by the Indian team to hog some of the limelight at the biggest stage. A good performance at home would certainly have provided a big boost to women's game in India. But being eliminated in the group stages with just one win from 4 games didn't help the sport's cause. 

The team had a good run-up to the tournament. A maiden series win in Australia was followed up with a series victory at home against Sri Lanka. So a semi-final appearance was the bare minimum expectation. However, at the crunch time they came up just short. 

A big victory against Bangladesh was followed by 3 close losses against Pakistan, England and the West Indies. They might have been done in by the rain against Pakistan but they missed multiple run-out chances which might have kept the D/L score in their favor. A dropped chance at the most crucial moment (2 wickets left with 2 runs required) saw England scraping through while against West Indies, the team fell short by 3 runs. All three losses were narrow but the India team finished up second in all three. 

It was similar to the 2013 ODI World Cup held in India, when they lost out in the first round itself. Probably the pressure of playing in the limelight overcame the likes of Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami & Harmanpreet Kaur. Or probably it was just plain bad luck. The Indian ladies team has slipped back. Not long ago they were just outside the Big 3 of Women's cricket (Australia, England & New Zealand). Now, West Indies women (who seem to be going the other direction than the men) have overtaken them in the hierarchy. While the South Africans too are coming close as are the Pakistanis. Their current performance also does not give them a direct entry into the 2017 ODI World Cup (which might be a good thing in the long run, if the team has to go through the qualifiers)

It was a heartening sight though to see the men & women team taking the same ground and cheering on each other. Although they play the same sport, there can't be a bigger gulf in perception across genders in any other sport. 

Now for the men 

Virat Kohli carried them single-handedly into the semi-finals. He had able support from the bowlers (in helpful conditions) and Dhoni but the rest of the line-up never came to play. And at Wankhede, the first batting pitch they encountered the bowling just disintegrated with the honorable exception of Nehraji.

Kohli was a class apart. One can safely say he is the best chaser of all time. During run chases the man provides Dravid's solidity, Sachin's run hunger and  Ganguly's aggression, all in one. And he has VVS’s love for Australian attacks, a love also extended to Pakistani and Sri Lankan ones. 

Then Nehraji - He is picked for the biggest stage on the world cricket after years in wilderness and comes up trumps. A economy rate under 6 across a T20 World Cup, those are unbelievable figures especially for a fast bowler who bowled either in powerplays or at death. Now the question? Will he be mothballed again like after the 2011 World Cup or will he have a longer ride in the near future. 

Dhoni’s sprint to prevent the last ball bye against Bangladesh would be replayed over and over again. And still you would not believe that it happened. However Captain Cool was feeling the pressure of the World Cup. He miscalculated his winning six hit against Pakistan. Add his new form in the press conferences. Something loved by cricket fans but being hated by the journalists. 

In Jasprit Bumrah, we have finally got a bowler who can bowl yorkers at will. Now it remains to be seen if he remains a one-season wonder? (like many an Indian fast bowler over the previous years). 

Yuvraj Singh had a strange world cup. His best contribution came as collapse-breaker, trying to get the innings back on the feet after Dhawan, Rohit & Raina had derailed it. And yet most of the time it seemed he was just playing on past reputation. 

As for the others, they all had a World Cup to forget. As a team, the performance wasn't quite up to the mark. The worst part is the team being repeatedly found wanting on spinning tracks. How can Kiwi spinners outperform Indians? However in tight situations the men did come out trumps. 

Catches win Matches. An old cricketing maxim which didn't quite hold true in this World Cup. Sometimes they don’t. e.g. Watson taking Yuvraj’s catch actually benefited India more than Australia. And in the semi-finals against West Indies, if those two catches had not been taken, the no-balls would not have been reviewed and no subsequent free-hits awarded either. 

So what are the lasting images from the 2016 World Cup for Indian fans - the sight of Virat Kohli on his knees after the Australia chase overcome by his own stupendous effort, Dhoni winning the race to the stumps against Bangladesh or simply the the two teams cheering each other .

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Hyped Up One-Sided Rivalry

11-Nil: That's the current scoreline in the most hyped up, yet surprisingly most one-sided rivalry on the biggest stages of world cricket. Since 1992, India & Pakistan have played each other 11 times in World Cups (ODI & T20), and each and every time India has come out trumps. The venues change, the conditions change, the protagonists change, yet the final result has always been the same.

Sydney, Bangalore, Manchester, Centurion, Durban, Johannesburg, Mohali, Colombo, Mirpur, Adelaide, Kolkata. It the World Cup. India and Pakistan come to play. India wins. As simple as that. 6-0 in ODIs and 5-0 including one win via bowl out in T20 World Cups.
Yet, when one compares the overall head-to-head record it reads, 72-51 in Pakistan's favor in ODIs while the T20 record is 6-1 in India's. Given this context, 11-0 is has now become too big a margin to be just a statistical anomaly?

India vs Pakistan provides the marquee clash of any cricket tournament. After all, the countries have a shared bitter history, the Partition still rankles many, while multiple wars have been fought. The cricketing rivalry is sometimes used as a metaphor for the larger issues (which it should not be). And hence the hype. Although from a purely cricketing perspective, Australia has already replaced Pakistan as our arch-rivals. Yet, when the sub-continental neighbors clash, it doesn't get any bigger . 

While the scoreline might not suggest this, the games have always lived up to the hyped up expectations and left lots of indelible memories for the fans on both sides. The Javed Miandad kangaroo jumps, the Prasad-Sohail face-off, the Sachin-Sehwag Centurion assault, Manchester played in the Kargil backdrop, the bowl-out, the Misbah scoop, Joginder Sharma's last over, the Virat Kohli gems, the mauka ad. Wonderful memories, if you are an India fan, nightmares for the Pakistanis. And yesterday's game at Eden Gardens was no different.

Here are the power-plays from the Kolkata game.
  • Based on pure talent, Pakistan have always had the better bowling attack, India the better batting line-up. No better example than this picture from the pre-game ceremony at Kolkata.

That is over 2200 international wickets on the left and 65,000 international runs on the right side of the picture.
  • It might only have been a group match, but the game needed its own opening ceremony. Only thing missing was the Wagah Border gate closing ceremony. Even if it came at the cost of cutting overs. 
  • There is Virat Kohli and there are other batsmen. In limited overs cricket, there is simply no peer in completing the assigned job. Pitch conditions, bowlers, the struggles of his fellow batsmen simply do not matter to him.
  • Dhoni's miscalculation. And I am not talking about his handling of the bowlers (Ashwin not completing his quota). He likes to complete a win with a six. He hit one seemingly thinking that the job was done, yet one run still had to be scored. Probably the pressures of the big game telling on Captain Cool as well.
  • There was a prequel to the game with the ladies playing in Kotla. The match was evenly poised but the rain Gods did a South Africa on the Indians. Result - suddenly Pakistani women team getting more attention and respect in Pakistan.

In the end Cricket and India won :D

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Arbit Stats #52

Irani Trophy 2015-16: Mumbai vs Rest of India.

603 - The highest score made by a losing team in a first-class game in India.

Rest of India seemed to be down for the count after Mumbai had obtained a 297 runs first innings lead. When Mumbai chose not to enforce the follow-on, the game seemed to be meandering towards a dull draw. But Mumbai's collapse in the second innings brought in some drama into the game. The target was still humongous, with Rest needing 480 odd in 4 sessions but their batsmen kept their cool. The batting unit fired collectively with five of the batsmen crossing the 50 mark and the target was achieved with just a few balls to spare.

In all, a great advertisement for the domestic first-class game. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Arbit Stats #51

Ranji Trophy 2015-16 Final, Mumbai vs Saurashtra

Mumbai coasted to their 41st title in the 82nd edition of the Trophy. With more than 20 odd teams participating every year (current count 27 which will go up to 28 next year), that is some dominance.

This was Mumbai's 45th final appearance. However for the first time ever, they did not have any Test players in their playing XI in the Ranji final. Very surprising given the team's pedigree.

With the likes of Rahane and Rohit Sharma on India duty and Wasim Jaffer having switched to Vidarbha, the only internationals were Dhawal Kulkarni and Abhishek Nayar. Given his form, Shreyas Iyer would soon join this list.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Arbit Stats #50: Adam Voges

614 - Number of Test runs scored by Adam Voges between dismissals, a new record surpassing Sachin Tendulkar's tally of 497 attained in 2004.

After unbeaten knocks of 269 and 106 against West Indies Vogeas was finally dismissed by New Zealand's Mark Craig but not before he had plundered 239 runs against them. This is one of those freakish records which only cricket can have. The only analogue in any other sport would be the number of minutes between goals scored against a particular keeper.

Way to go for Adam Voges, who does seem to be making up for lost time after making such a late Test debut.

P.S. Sachin Tendulkar's tally includes the infamous 194*, when Dravid declared. (Just Saying).

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Ranji Trophy 15-16: Quarter-Finals: Jharkhand vs Mumbai

Match Summary: Mumbai (416 & 245) beat Jharkhand (172 & 94) by 395 runs
Mumbai enter the semi-finals.

In the end, the task was too much for the Jharkhand team against the 40 times Ranji Champions Mumbai. Mumbai batted first after winning the toss. They put up a decent score although Nadeem did pull them back a bit. The Jharkhand opening partnership started aggressively. However after the initial flurry of boundaries, the Mumbai spinners reined them in and kept taking wickets regularly. They chose not to enforce the follow on. Although Mumbai couldn't get a big total in the second innings but the ask was very tough. Yet Jharkhand collapsed without even a semblance of a fight in the second innings and lost by a very big margin.

  • Nadeem picked his 9th career 5-wicket haul and his 4th of the season.
  • Samar Quadri picked his 6th career 5-wicket haul.

It was a slightly disappointing end to a good season overall for Jharkhand team. Jharkhand certainly missed the services of Varun Aaron (on account of his marriage) and Ishan Kishan (on National U-19 duty). Yet there were quite a few positives for the team.
  • Along with Vidarbha they were the only teams to qualify to the second stage of each of the three premier tournaments. 
  • Dhoni's presence in the Vijay Hazare Trophy brought the team into spotlight.
  • Shahbaz Nadeem took 50 wickets in the Ranji season.
  • Ishan Kishan is leading the India Under-19 team in the World Cup and has also been picked up in the IPL auctions to Gujarat Lions where he will be the under-study to Dinesh Karthik
Now the action shifts to IPL where the likes of Tiwary, Nadeem and Kishan would be hoping for the performance which shoots them into the limelight.

It was great following the team this year. Would certainly look forward to writing a few more blog posts on the Jharkhand team and its players next year when they are playing with the big boys in Group A.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

IPL 2016 - Auctions: Jharkhand

The final list for the player auctions for 2016 season of IPL is out. It was disappointing to see that in spite of a good run across the three formats, very Jharkhand players made it into the auctions list. Following are the players in the running for an IPL slot.
  1. Ishank Jaggi
  2. Virat Singh
  3. Ishan Kishan
  4. Jaskaran Singh
  5. Rahul Shukla
All of them are at the lowest base price of Rs. 10 Lakh each. Being the India Under-19 captain, Ishan Kishan's chances are the brightest to join the likes of Dhoni, Tiwary, Aaron and Nadeem in the IPL roster. Lets see which of the franchisees picks up these players.

Complete Player List for the Auction (Link)

Meanwhile in the Deodhar Trophy, Nadeem was the only Jharkhand representative. Playing only in the final for India A, he scored 2* and picked 3 for 36. 

Next Stop - Ranji Trophy Quarter-finals.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy 15-16: Jharkhand Super League Review

After a good run in the league stages, the Jharkhand journey came to a halt in the Super League stage with the team losing all the 3 games easily. In all 3 games, Jharkhand batted first. The batsmen weren’t able to compile a big score. And the bowlers weren’t able to defend them. 

Match Summaries 
Game 1: Jharkhand [133/7(20)] lost to Uttar Pradesh [134/1(16.5)] by 9 wickets 
Team Changes: In – Virat Singh, Rahul Singh; Out – Ankit Dabas, Sonu Singh 
Key Performances: Rathour (40), Tiwary (38) 

Game 2: Jharkhand [134/7(20)] lost to Delhi [138/5(18)] by 5 wickets 
Team Changes: In – Varun Aaron ; Out – Prakash Seet 
Key Performances: Virat Singh (45), Jaggi (42), Aaron (3/27) 

Game 3: Jharkand [146/2(20)] lost to Gujarat [146/4 (14.1)] by 6 wickets 
Team Changes: In – Anand Singh, Sonu Singh; Out – Shasheem Rathour, Varun Aaron 
Key Performances: Jaggi (39), Kaushal Singh (2/21) 

Season Stats: 
Top Scorers: Virat Singh (251 @31); Ishank Jaggi (247 @49); Saurabh Tiwary (243 @61) 
Most Wickets: Shahbaz Nadeem (10 @23); Vikash Singh (9 @22); Prakash Seet (8 @22) 
Player Count: 16 

The Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy was also a good audition ground for the IPL Auctions. However there weren’t too many stand-out individual performances from the Jharkhand squad. It is likely to be a similar representation this year with the likes of Aaron, Tiwary and Nadeem featuring in the various squads. There is a fair chance for the likes of Shukla, Jaggi, Virat Singh and Rathour as well. Lets see what the auctions have in store. 

Coming Up Next: Ranji Trophy Quarter-Finals against 40 times champions Mumbai in February. 

But before that we have the Deodhar Trophy where Nadeem and Aaron will be representing India A.