Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Little Bit on Ball Tampering

Ball Tampering – "unlawful alteration of the surface or seam of a ball on the field, to affect its motion when bowled."

Cricket is a batsman’s game. Over the course of last one and a half centuries, laws of the game have been tweaked to make it “swing” increasingly in the batsmen’s favour. Covered pitches, restrictions on bowling, restrictions on field placements, shortened boundaries, better safety equipment, bigger bats, and changes in the front-foot no-ball rule. Almost every single rule change tilting the balance further in the batsmen’s favour. 

Meanwhile, the bowlers have also lived up to the ask, with constant innovations, Bodyline, Swing, spin, chinaman, doosra, reverse swing, knuckle ball, carom ball et al. In due course some have even resorted to the dark arts as well. 

The cricket ball, like everything else on this planet, follows the laws of physics. Bernoulli’s principles regarding motion through a fluid holds especially true. Although, no one has worked out the exact calculations or made big differential equations on the subject, it can be safely said, the more the difference in the nature of the two halves of the ball, the more its tendency to swing. So ensure that one side stays as smooth as possible while other side stays as shiny as possible. Although keep in mind, that is one of the many variables affecting the swing. Others being speed of release, angle of the seam, ambient temperature, wind etc. However, while other variables are not exactly in control, the shape of the ball can be “managed” in multiple ways. Some legal, some illegal, and many falling in the grey area. It is certainly an art, although there are some who move into the darker arts. 

Below is a pictorial representation of the different techniques to manage the shape of the ball. 



Use of any visible agent to change the shape certainly falls in the definitely illegal category. And that is what Cameron Bancroft was caught doing against South Africa. Caught on the cameras with a piece of sandpaper in his pocket which he then tried to hide in his pants post instructions from dressing room, all of which caught by the South African cameramen who were specifically assigned to the task of catching any Australian transgressions. Post the day’s play, Steve Smith admitted to the leadership group’s involvement in the shenanigans. Next day, Tim Paine was leading the side with both Smith and David Warner having resigned in the middle of the Test! 

The fall-out was brutal. And especially so given that it was Australia who was involved. After all this is a team which makes a hue and cry of playing the Aussie way, “hard and fair”, maintain a holier than thou attitude (e.g. Warner’s comments on Faf du Plessis being caught tampering, or Ponting’s reactions on using England using “specialist” substitute fielders), and discuss sledging or “mental disintegration” as a team strategy! There was no way the rest of the cricketing world would not have jumping up with glee at seeing the quagmire in which the Aussies had landed. And just to spice things up a little, there was the bad-tempered theatrics from both sides preceding the event – a constant war of words, Rabada may or may not have deliberately bumped into Smith, Warner had to be pulled away from de Kock, fans and officials had also got in the act, and all of this caught on hyper-sensitive stump mics and CCTV cameras! All setting up for an ugly showdown, until the Australian side imploded on a bit of sandpaper! 

There were repercussions off the field as well. The situation seemed akin to a national emergency in Australia with the Prime Minister issuing a statement of condemnation. The trio lost their individual sponsors while the national team sponsors issued their own threats. ICC reprimanded the trio as per its regulations. Too mild, shouted the watching crowds. Everyone was baying for blood. Cricket Australia got into the act, conducted an enquiry of its own, and declared the trio guilty and banned Warner & Smith for a year each and Bancroft for 9 months. The watchers were stunned by the severity of the sentences. It was followed by scenes of the players facing upto media, admitting their guilt and accepting their sentences. All of this accompanied by bucketful of tears. In the aftermath, Darren Lehmann also resigns as coach of the team. 

While the sentences were severe, there was lingering sense of doubt about the whole goings on. Were none of the bowlers and the coaching staff aware of the plan, if not actually complicit in it? And the leadership group mentioned by Smith, comprised just of Warner and himself? Was Cricket Australia simply trying to contain the damage by throwing the trio under the bus by taking such severe action? And were the actions a fall-out of last year’s pay dispute? Too many questions left unanswered suggesting there is more than what meets the eye. Will we ever get to know? Guess, will have to wait till somebody writes a tell-all book on the matter. 

Some of the reactions were funny. When former Aussie captains took a stand that team culture under them was different, it just reeked of hypocrisy. Then there was a rumor of Michael Clarke expressing a willingness to come out of retirement to lead the team! But the best take came from the Irish. Recently elevated to Test status, and missing out on a place in the 2019 World Cup, they suggested that if Australians really want to repent, they should drop out of the next World Cup to introspect and give the place to Ireland! 

Now that would be true over-the-top punishment for putting some sandpaper on a cricket ball!

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Last Ball Six

Everyone who has played any form of cricket has had this dream. Playing for your country. Hitting a six off the very last ball to win the match. Heck, we have even made a movie of it. Bhuvan hitting the last ball over the boundary to save 3 years’ worth of tax for his village in the climactic scene of Lagaan. Cricket could never have had greater context, an increasingly elusive commodity in modern times. But I digress. 

18th March, 2018. India vs Bangladesh. Dinesh Karthik lofts the last ball over covers to win tournament for India. Bringing a sensational end for what had been a pretty insipid tournament. 

It was one of the moments to cherish. And a reminder to myself why I love this game so much. Don’t remember when I was last jumping up and down during or after a game. And I had only watched the last 3 overs of this game.

In an age of cricketing overdose and no “context” to keep the fans engaged, there came a T20 tri-series (!), in Sri Lanka (!!), with Bangladesh (!!!), where India rested their stars (!!!!) and still sailed through comfortably. At the start, the most interesting bit of the tournament was finding the channel telecasting the tournament– Discovery Sport & Rishtey Cineplex!!! 

But things got a bit spicy as the tournament progressed, mainly due to the antics of the Bangladeshi players during and after their last game with Sri Lanka. Their “naagin dance” celebrations managed to piss off the Sri Lankan fans to such an extent that they came out in vociferous support of India (!) in the Final. Indian teams over the years have had vocal support in all parts of the world, mainly from our expat population. (Benefits of having over 1.3 Billion of us!!!). But never ever have we had the local crowds supporting us in such a manner!

This could be the defining innings for Karthik in an era of abundant wicket-keeping talent. Having made his debut in 2004, has been in and around the Indian team for all this time. Many a times playing as a pure batsman and only on occasion getting to keep wickets in Dhoni’s absence. No one has ever doubted Karthik’s keeping talents. Good to see this unsung performer finally getting his share of the limelight. 

Never has India’s wicket-keeping coffers been so rich. Dhoni is still there, and then there is a bunch of veterans fighting for his retired Test spot – Saha, Karthik, Parthiv, Naman Ojha, and the IPL brat pack – Pant, Samson, Kishan – vying for the limited overs spot! And just to get the mix more interesting, we have batsmen, who are also employed as keepers – Uthappa, Rahul, Jadhav! What riches in the wicket-keeping talent pool!

After such a game, comes out the heartening back-story of Abhishek Nayar, who played 3 ODIs for India, helped Karthik rediscover his mojo. Nayar was also the one who brought Rohit Sharma’s career back on track in 2011. Time to take Abhishek Nayar’s mentorship role more seriously.

And finally a few thoughts for Vijay Shankar. Felt sorry for him, as he tried to put bat on ball, but was simply unable to. Seeing his struggles while Karthik blasted from the other end, was a reminder that cricket is a very much individual game masquerading as a team-sport. Vijay Shankar struggled, but in the end, India won, so it was all OK. Hopefully, he does get another chance to showcase his talent at the biggest stage.

After all these years, Dinesh Karthik has finally arrived. If nothing else this shot will certainly go down in Indian cricketing folk-lore like Kanitkar's boundary!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Vijay Hazare Trophy 2018: Jharkhand Review

A bad season for Jharkhand comes to an end with the team finishing 5th in Group D of the Vijay Hazare Trophy.  Here is a summary of the action.

Ishan Kishan takes over as captain of the Jharkhand team, while Ishank Jaggi continues to miss out on account of injury.

Game 1: Vidarbha 300/10 (49) beat Jharkhand 293/7 (50) by 7 runs
  • Key Performers: Rahul Shukla 4/52 (10), Shahbaz Nadeem 2/53 (10) & 21*, Atul Surwar 2/52 (9), Vikash Singh 2/78 (9) & 59* (37); Saurabh Tiwary 65 (77), Kumar Deobrat 60 (76). 
  • A valiant 8th wicket unbeaten partnership off 85 runs off 50 balls between Vikash & Nadeem wasn’t enough for Jharkhand to cross the line.
  • List A Debuts: Nazim Siddiqui, Atul Surwar, Sumit Kumar
  • Nazim Siddiqui had a golden duck on debut!
  • Vikash Singh recorded his highest List A Score & best bowling performance.
Game 2: Hyderabad 333/7 (50) beat Jharkhand 267 (46.5) by 66 runs
  • Key Performers: Rahul Shukla 2/69 (9), Ishan Kishan 51 (65) & Atul Surwar 58* (57)
  • Another valiant lower order partnership after a top order crumble!
  • Nazim Siddiqui got his 2nd duck in a row in his 2nd List A Game!
  • Virat Singh gets his 1st List A wicket.
  • Maiden List A 50 for Atul Surwar
Game 3: Services 202/9 (50) lost to Jharkhand 203/5 (30.5) by 5 wickets
  • Key Performers: Varun Aaron (3/20), Anukul Roy (2/20), Ishan Kishan 106 (75), Saurabh Tiwary 56* (67)
  • Senior debut for U-19 World Cup star Anukul Roy, who had an excellent game. 
  • 1st List A century for Ishan Kishan.
Game 4: Jharkhand 329/9 (50) lost to Saurashtra 333/6 (48.2) by 4 wickets
  • Key Performers: Ishan Kishan 93(96), Sumit Kumar (64)
  • List A debuts for Utkarsh Singh & Ashish Kumar
  • Maiden List A Fifty for Sumit Kumar
Game 5: Jharkhand 288/9 (50) lost to Chhattisgarh 294/3 (46) by 7 wickets
  • Key Performers: Saurabh Tiwary 107 (105), Kumar Deobrat 51 (74), Varun Aaron 2/51
  • 5th List A century for Saurabh Tiwary
Game 6: Jharkhand 296/9 (50) beat Jammu & Kashmir 199/10 (46) by 97 runs
  • Key Performers: Virat Singh 96 (97), Ashish Kumar 3/23 (7), Vikash Singh 3/37 (8), Anukul Roy 2/38 (10)
  • Team captained by Virat Singh in the absence of the injured Ishan Kishan.
  • Highest List A score for Virat Singh.
Season Stats
Top Scorers:
  • Saurabh Tiwary: 322 @ 64.40 
  • Ishan Kishan: 313 @ 78.25
  • Virat Singh: 195 @ 32.50
Most Wickets:
  • Vikash Singh: 8 @ 32.25
  • Rahul Shukla: 8 @ 36.00
  • Varun Aaron: 7 @ 34.14
That's it for this season with just the Irani Trophy and IPL left. Hoping to be back again next season where there is a good chance of Bihar also featuring. So might cover two teams instead of one!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Arbit Stats #68

Women's ODI #1906: South Africa vs India, Kimberely
By having Laura Wolvaardt caught behind, Jhulan Goswami became the first women cricketer to reach the landmark of 200 ODI wickets. And this was achieved in her 166th match.

Coincidentally, compatriot Kapil Dev was the first male cricketer to reach the 200 wicket mark, also in his 166th match!

A video of Kapil Dev taking his 200th wicket! This was way back in the 80s and yet wasn't able to find a video of yesterday's game!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

IPL Auctions 2018: Jharkhand

The dust settles on the IPL Auctions. Big money was spent by the owners - to give a comparison (an unrelated one) – the amount spent by the IPL teams for the players was more than spent by ISRO to launch Magalyaan! There were some interesting purchases, some bidding wars leading to breaking the bank and finally some inexplicable omissions (Shaun Marsh – proven IPL record and in the form of his life; Hashim Amla – who got a couple of 100s in the last season – just to give two examples). Everyone had a strategy at the auctions (I assume so), only some of it defied logic, and led to some erratic results e.g. Kolkata Knight Riders go into a 7-week, 14-17 game tournament with just 19 players, while Kings XI Punjab forgot to pick a proper wicket-keeper (not counting KL Rahul’s stop-gap arrangement)! There are futile exercises and then there is attempting to make sense of IPL Auctions!

Anyway, I digress. Here is looking at how the Jharkhand team performed at the IPL Auctions

The Retained (not part of the Auction)
MS Dhoni (15 Crores, CSK) comes back to Chennai Super Kings after a 2-year hiatus, on account of CSK’s suspension. Also returns as captain after having spent a year as just another player at Rising Pune Super Giant. 

The Returners
Ishan Kishan (6.20 Crores, MI) – Mumbai went for broke to get hold of services of Ishan. And why not as he is (a) a wicket-keeper, (b) Indian, (c) explosive opening batsman, and (d) left-handed. Checks all the boxes. Aditya Tare is the only competitor for the keeping gloves. Could be a break-out season for this youngster.

Shahbaz Nadeem (3.20 Crores, DD) – gets picked once again by Delhi Daredevils. Has been a consistently good performer across seasons for them and an India A veteran now. Hopefully will get more games than last year. Has competition for the spin bowling slot from the likes of Amit Mishra, Jayant Yadav and Sandeep Lamichhane (first Nepalese cricketer in IPL). Probably the reason why he was tried as a pinch-hitter in the Mustaq Ali Trophy - to add an extra string to his bow!

Saurabh Tiwary (80 Lakhs, MI) – retained by Mumbai as a back-up Indian batsman (and got a pay upgrade also). Might get a few games depending on the performances / fitness of the first choice XI.

Ishank Jaggi (20 Lakhs, KKR) – retained by Kolkata. Should manage a few more games than last year’s two because (a) KKR picked only 19 players (of which 11 play), (b) of which 12 are Indian (7 play) & (c) 9 batsmen (6 are needed) and (d) most importantly, Jaggi performed well in pressure situations last IPL and is coming off another good domestic season.

The Newly Bought
Anukul Roy (20 Lakhs, MI) – hasn’t played any senior cricket till date. But has been impressive in the Under-19 World Cup. Might get a look-in at the very beginning as an X-Factor (Mumbai have a history of launching unknowns – e.g. Bumrah and the Pandya brothers)

Monu Kumar (20 Lakhs, CSK) - Consistent performance in the Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy helped Monu get picked. However chances of getting a game upfront are quite bleak. Might get a look-in at later stages though.

Meanwhile, Varun Aaron, Virat Singh, Nazim Siddiqui, Rahul Shukla & Pratyush Singh did not find any takers. Aaron might get a call if there are fitness concerns among the many Indian fast bowlers. However, a better bet for him would be to seek a County contract a la Pujara.

Hoping this is a break-out season for these players like Saurabh Tiwary had in 2010!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy 2018: Super League Jharkhand Review

Jharkhand had a poor run in the Super League winning one and losing three of their four games to finish bottom of the table. They did come close against Rajasthan but were absolutely flattened against Karnataka.

Absentees: Dhoni (MIA) Ishank Jaggi (injury)

Game 1: Mumbai 170/5 (20) beat Jharkhand 157/7 (20) by 13 runs
Key Performers: Virat Singh 81 (49), Saurabh Tiwary 32(22), Nadeem 1/23

Game 2: Jharkhand 157/5 (20) lost to Rajasthan 158/6 (19.1) by 4 wickets
Key Performers: Nadeem 27 (22) & 1/18, Ishan Kishan 39(36), Virat Singh 43 (28), Aaron 2/24
  • Nadeem batting 1 down was a surprise!
Game 3: Punjab 149/7 (20) lost to Jharkhand 150/6 (19.3) by 4 wickets
Key Performers: Kaushal Singh 3/26 & 29(31), Varun Aaron 2/20, Ishan Kishan 54 (29)

Got to see the Jharkhand team in action on live TV after a long time. Only watched the second half of the game though! Key takeaways:
  • Ishan Kishan needs a little more consistency for a call-up to the national squad – given that his direct competitors are Rishabh Pant & Sanju Samson!
  • Manpreet Gony hurling abuses at little Ishan Kishan after being hit all over the park! While Harbhajan Singh gives a pat on the back after having bowled him. Good example of what is “spirit of cricket” and what is not?
  • Kaushal Singh looks a wannabe Saurabh Tiwary, who used to be a wannabe MS Dhoni!
  • Punjab’s fielding left a lot to be desired.
  • And Nadeem seems to be specializing as a pinch-hitter now!
Game 4: Karnataka 201/4 (20) beat Jharkhand 78 (14.2) by 123 runs
Key performers: Vikash Singh 25 (16) coming in at No.10! 7 Varun Aaron scoring 3 off 30 balls.
Special Mention: Karun Nair got a 100 for the opposing side!

Season Stats
  • Top Scorer: Ishan Kishan 273 runs
  • Most Wickets: Monu Kumar 12
  • Player Count: 15
So the auditions for the coming IPL Auctions are done. Let’s see which of the Jharkhand Auction XI has caught the eye of the scouts!

Monday, January 22, 2018

IPL 2018 Auctions: Jharkhand Preview

The biggest event of the cricketing year is about to be held on January 28th and 29th. With the near-complete overhaul of the teams, many players would be waiting with bated breath at the results of the auction. Who is picked by whom and at what price. Wondering which performace may have caught the eye of the IPL scout, which might get them a chance to perform on the stepping stone to A and national team.

The Retained
As expected, MS Dhoni has been retained for Rs. 15 Crores, by Chennai Super Kings, who are returning to the IPL fold after a two year suspension.

The Short-List
And below is the list of players who are in the short-list for the auction, alongwith their sequence of appearance in the pool. Many uncapped pools have been brought forward, making the auction a bit more interesting. Below is the list of Jharkhand boys in the auction pool.

S. No.
Name
Set #
Base Price
 2017 Team
IPL Experience
1.
Ishank Jaggi
8
20 Lakhs
Kolkata Knight Riders
7
2.
Ishan Kishan
10
40 Lakhs
Gujarat Lions
16
3.
Shahbaz Nadeem
12
40 Lakhs
Delhi Daredevils
55
4.
Saurabh Tiwary
13
50 Lakhs
Mumbai Indians
81
5.
Varun Aaron
26
50 Lakhs
Kings XI Punjab
42
6.
Virat Singh
28
20 Lakhs
-
-
7.
Anukul Roy
37
20 Lakhs
-
-
8.
Nazim Siddiqui
38
20 Lakhs
-
-
9.
Rahul Shukla
39
20 Lakhs
-
7
10.
Pratyush Singh
49
20 Lakhs
Delhi Daredevils
0
11.
Monu Kumar
54
20 Lakhs
-
-

Quite a few names in the mix here. The likes of Nadeem, Ishan Kishan, Aaron should certainly get picked. While Jaggi, Tiwary and Virat Singh have a decent chance. Anukul Roy recently described as the Ravindra Jadeja of Samastipur has a very strong chance of getting picked after his recent exploits in the Under-19 World Cup. Although, he is yet to make his Jharkhand debut!

The bringing forward of the Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy has given a good opportunity for the players to showcase their talents. The likes of Virat Singh and Monu Kumar have certainly made good use of this opportunity. Hope they have caught the eye of the scouts as well.

Good luck to the auction XI!

P.S. Performances of the Jharkhand players in IPL 2017!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy 2018: Zonal Stage: Jharkhand Review

Before we delve further, a piece of interesting news from the Honorable Supreme Court, who have directed BCCI to allow Bihar to play in the Ranji Trophy. So most likely from next season, Slipstream Cricket will be providing more Domestic coverage as we have two teams to follow now! But we shall cross that bridge when it comes. 

This year, BCCI has brought forward the Domestic T20 tournament, thus giving the players an added incentive of performing just before the IPL auctions. Last year, Ishank Jaggi grabbed his chances and got an IPL contract. This year with the complete overhaul of the IPL teams, more places are up for grabs. 

There was a change in the tournament format. Like every year, we need to keep tinkering with our domestic tournaments! The tournament is held in two stages, first the zonal leagues followed by Top two from each zone qualifying for the Super League and followed by a Final. Thus better team performances give more chances to individuals to showcase their talent to the IPL scouts.

Now for Jharkhand’s performance. MS Dhoni opted out of the tournament which was a big blow to the team. Varun Aaron lead the team.

Game 1: Jharkhand 163/6 (20) beat Tripura 139/9 (20) by 24 runs
Key performers: Virat Singh 43 (31), Ishan Kishan 26 (16), Ishank Jaggi 33 (26). 2 wickets each for Nadeem, Varun Aaron and Kaushal Singh who also contributed 20 with the bat.

Game 2: Jharkhand 177/9 (20) lost to Bengal 179/4 (19.2) by 6 wickets
Key Performers: Ishank Jaggi 72 (39) & Ishan Kishan 49 (35). 2 wickets for Kaushal Singh.

Game 3: Assam 148/6 (20) lost to Jharkhand 149/2 (16) by 8 wickets.
Key Performers: Monu Kumar 3/23, Ishank Jaggi 68*(37) & Ishan Kishan 36 (19)
T20 debut for Nazim Siddiqui.

Game 4: Odisha 123 (19.4) lost to Jharkhand 129/2 (16.4) by 8 wickets
Key Performers: Monu Kumar with 4/14; Ishan Kishan 51 (38) & Ishank Jaggi 40*(25).
Senior debut for Atul Surwar.

Jharkhand finished second in East Zone behind Bengal to qualify for the Super League.

Season Stats:
Top Scorer: Ishank Jaggi - 213 runs
Most Wickets: Monu Kumar - 8 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Freedom Series 2018: Battle of the Broadcasters

One of the most awaited series for India is now just minutes away. After a comprehensive victory over all-comers in the home campaign, the Indian Team heads on a long overseas campaign with the first stop being South Africa.

The cricketing relations between the two nations have been interesting. India boycotted South Africa on apartheid grounds for a long time. A justified call, as South Africa was banned from all sports for quite a long time. And then at the end of the regime, India was the first nation to host as well as tour South Africa. And in the entire course of 25 years, India have never managed to beat the Proteas in a series in their home.

So while we wait for the series to commence, here is a look at the promotional campaigns run by the broadcasters.

First by Sony in India who have focused their campaign on ending the 25-year wait and seeking revenge! Jingoism at its best!



And now from South Africa, who have focused on the shared history of the two nations, linked by two of the greatest personalities of modern times – Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, and the cricketing history of the two nations!



What a beautiful promo!

Wish the Indian broadcasters also grew up and used sports as more than just a war and propaganda tool in their campaigns!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Twenty17 LineUp

2018 has dawned upon us and the cricketing action continues in full swing with New Zealand completing a demolition of the West Indies and Vidarbha winning the Ranji Trophy for the first time ever. Before the action hots up further, time to take a look back at the Cricketing XI of 2017 (compiled by yours truly).

1. Afghanistan & Ireland get Test Status
After resisting for years, ICC decided to expand the Test arena. And thus we have two new Full members on-board – Afghanistan and Ireland (although both are yet to play a Test). Well-deserved reward for the yeoman service done to the Associate cause. Ireland by consistently upsetting the big teams at the major events and Afghanistan by providing a sporting fairy-tale even the best of Hollywood writers will not be able to script! Now they just need to play a Test each!

2. Women’s World Cup
2017 was the year in which women’s cricket became just cricket! The massive success of the Women’s World Cup provided the ultimate fillip. It also helped that India performed well and finished runners-up in a closely contested Lord’s final. But surprisingly after all the goodwill generated, BCCI hasn’t really cashed in and the Indian team hasn’t played a single game after the World Cup Final!

3. Pakistan 
If there is a team which can be trusted to do the inexplicable, it has to be Pakistan. It was another roller-coaster year (no surprises there!). They won the Champions Trophy in England and managed to lose a Test series to Sri Lanka in their adopted home! But the highlight would be the return of International cricket to Pakistan with a T20 series against an International XI (which inexplicably was given international status) and a one off game against Sri Lanka. Which brings us to…

4. The Sri Lankan Captaincy Revolving Door
Angelo Matthews, Dinesh Chandimal, Upul Tharanga, Thisara Perera, Rangana Herath, Chamara Kapugedera, Lasith Malinga – Seven different men captained the Sri Lankan team across different formats this year. Also showed in the overall results where they were hammered by all and sundry, including a series loss to Zimbabwe, who themselves were coming off from losses to Scotland and Netherlands!

5. Performance of the Year 
Will pick two this year. Marcus Stoinis’s incredible assault against New Zealand, which nearly won Australia the game. And Harmanpreet Kaur’s blistering 171* against Australia in the World Cup semi-finals, probably the defining innings for the women’s game in India.

6. Play is stopped due to…
Cricket fans are used to rain and bad light or even bees and dogs stopping play. But 2017 saw even more bizarre stoppages. A county game was stopped due to an arrow landing near the pitch, a Ranji game due to a car driving onto the pitch and finally a Test Match interrupted due to high pollution levels!

7. Pay Dispute
Australians joined the world perennially occupied by the West Indies with a bitter long drawn-out dispute which went on for most of the year. However, unlike the West Indies, the Aussies were able to resolve theirs and get back to business of playing the game!

8. The Return of the Unwanted
The India-Sri Lanka matches were back with not one but two full back-to-back tours. Not helping matters was the poor form of the Sri Lankans. Result: A TourSweep with India beating Sri Lanka 9-0 across formats in Sri Lanka, who improved a bit on the return tour winning one ODI and drawing two Tests!

9. Comeback Sledge of the Year
Pakistan discovered a exciting new talent in Fakhar Zaman, who got a match winning century in the Champions Trophy Final. The newbie also showed an innovative way to tackle sledging, leaving Liam Plunkett speechless by calmly saying “No English”. Ironic considering he is one of the more proficient English speakers in the Pakistan team!

10. Play of the Year
Mitchell Starc’s ball to James Vince. Almost a leg-break at 140KMPH. Just beautiful to watch!

11. Colourful Start of the Year
Sunil Ambris had a pretty interesting start to his Test career – becoming the first batsman ever to be hit wicket off the very first ball he faced, then in the second innings smacking a six to score his first runs, hit wicket again in the first innings of the next Test and rounding it off by being retired hurt in the second innings. Quite an action-packed start for the new West Indies keeper. 

And the 12th Man
Geoff Boycott being pranked by Johnathan Agnew on air. Boycott’s reaction on being told by Agnew that one of his centuries does not count as first-class anymore is just priceless.

That was cricketing year 2017. Lets see what 2018 has in store for us!

Wishing all readers a very happy New year 2018!