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.
Set #
Base Price
 2017 Team
IPL Experience
Ishank Jaggi
20 Lakhs
Kolkata Knight Riders
Ishan Kishan
40 Lakhs
Gujarat Lions
Shahbaz Nadeem
40 Lakhs
Delhi Daredevils
Saurabh Tiwary
50 Lakhs
Mumbai Indians
Varun Aaron
50 Lakhs
Kings XI Punjab
Virat Singh
20 Lakhs
Anukul Roy
20 Lakhs
Nazim Siddiqui
20 Lakhs
Rahul Shukla
20 Lakhs
Pratyush Singh
20 Lakhs
Delhi Daredevils
Monu Kumar
20 Lakhs

Quite a few names in the mix here. The likes of Nadeem, Ishan Kishan, Aaron should certainly get picked. While Kaggi, 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 selected after his recent exploits in the Under-19 World Cup. Although, he is yet to make his Jharkhand debut!

Good luck to the auction XI!

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!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Cricket in "The Big Bang Theory"

I am a big fan of the Sitcom "The Big Bang Theory". However, found a very weird line in one of the recent episodes

Our favorite desi astrophysicist, Dr. Rajesh Koothrapalli, takes his friend Howard Wolowitz to a sports bar, where a cricket match is being telecast live. And while explaining the game to a bored Howard, comes up with this line."That's Ravichandran Ashwin, he is amazing. He makes Bhuvaneswar Kumar seem like Hardik Pandya!" A confused Howard replies with "thats too many syllables", while a confused me pauses the episode, rewinds and is clearly bamboozled by what the meaning of that line could be. A couple of attempts makes it clear that the statement has no meaning in the cricketing sense. 

However, the show goes on. And on the scene arrives Ruchi, who is equally cricket-crazy. And they get into a discussion on India's chances in World Cup (which one?) which solely rests on Kohli's form. (Now that is completely true). 

Ruchi meanwhile wants the bowler to break the batsmen's (who isn't mentioned) leg. I assume the over must have changed in the interim otherwise hollering Ashwin to bowl yorkers? And the duo discuss being present at the ground to witness Shoaib Akhtar's two consecutive yorkers in Eden Gardens to Dravid & Tendulkar (last few details assumed by me).

So three random names, Kohli's form being key to India's World Cup chances, yorkers, and their deadly use by Shoaib Akhtar in Eden Gardens (Video). Thats a whole lot of cricket in the Big Bang!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ranji Trophy 17-18: Jharkhand vs Gujarat

Match Summary: Gujarat (411 & 16/0) beat Jharkhand (242 & 183(f/o)) by 10 wickets
Points: Gujarat 7, Jharkhand 0

And the terrible season ends with another big defeat, at the hands of the defending champions Gujarat. Jharkhand were never in the running in this game and were outplayed completely. Nothing really to write about except Kumar Deobrat's twin fifties.

Overall a very disappointing season especially after last year's run to the semi-finals. Too much chopping and changing went on. We suffered from the absence of Shahbaz Nadeem due to India A duty, during the initial games, then Saurabh Tiwary had a bad run of form. Ishank Jaggi got 3 consecutive centuries but not much beyond that. Overall, the team did not click as a unit except for one game. On the bright side, Nazim Siddiqui's debut season was solid. Should get a decent run.

  • Playing XI:Changes - too many of them!
    • In:  Virat Singh, Ashish Kumar, Ajay Yadav
    • Out: Saurabh Tiwary, Sunny Gupta, Sonu Singh
  • Shahbaz Nadeem led the side in Tiwary's absence
  • 350 FC wickets for Nadeem
  • Kumar Deobrat recorded his highest FC score of 80.
Season Stats
  • Top Scorers: 
    • Ishan Kishan - 484 @44.00
    • Nazim Siddiqui - 474 @43.09
    • Ishank Jaggi - 448 @44.80
  • Top Wicket-taker: 
    • Shahbaz Nadeem - 18 @32.83
    • Sunny Gupta - 17 @25.47
    • Varun Aaron - 15 @29.93
  • Player Count: 20
  • Captain Count: 3
Points Tally - 8 after 6 games. Finishing 6th in the group

Coming Up Next
Vijay Hazare Trophy in mid-February. Let's see if any of the players make an appearance in the Rest of India squad for the Irani Trophy.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Ranji Trophy 17-18: Jharkhand vs Jammu & Kashmir

Match Summary: Jammu & Kashmir (376 & 265/9d) beat Jharkhand (292/9d & 243) by 106 runs
Points: Jammu & Kashmir 6, Jharkhand 0

After the highs of last season, we reach the lows! Jharkhand lost to Jammu & Kashmir by 106 runs, thus ending all hopes for a knock-out berth. But it was heartening to see them play for a win on 4th day when they could have easily settled for a draw. There were good opening partnerships in both innings but not much to follow after that. Have to give credit to the team for the audacious attempt at the 4th innings chase. But they were simply outplayed by the J&K team.

Too much chopping and changing going on in the team!

  • Playing XI:Changes - too many of them!
    • In: Utkarsh Singh, Anand Singh, Kumar Deobrat (all in their first appearance of the season), Sunny Gupta
    • Out: Kaushal Singh, Ashish Kumar, Shasheem Rathour, Sumit Kumar (who was the star in the previous game!)
  • Utkarsh Singh makes his first-class debut and first taste of senior cricket. Had been part of India U19s earlier this year. Decent performance on debut!
  • Ishan Kishan crossed the landmark of 2000 FC runs in his 31st game.
Season Stats
  • Top Scorer: Ishan Kishan - 427 @47.44
  • Top Wicket-taker: Sunny Gupta - 17 @25.47
  • Player Count: 20
  • Captain Count: 2
Points Tally - 8 after 5 games. Drop down to 5th and out of contention of the Quarter-finals.

Coming Up Next
Jharkhand take a break in the next round before taking on defending champions Gujarat in the last round. They can play spoilport for others though!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Ranji Trophy 17-18: Jharkhand vs Saurashtra

Match Summary: Saurashtra (553/9d & 59/4) beat Jharkhand (270 &341 (f/o)) by 6 wickets
Points: Saurashtra 6, Jharkhand 0

Cheteshwar Pujara has had a lean patch in recent times and he chose this very match to come back into form! In the process shattering the record for the most double centuries by an Indian batsman. For some reason Ranji, after whom the Trophy is named is not counted as an Indian batsman!!

Jharkhand were simply outplayed by the Saurashtra side. Although there were some passages of play when they were on top. In the first innings after taking down the first 4 Saurashtra wickets quickly. And in the entertaining passage of play following-on when Nazim Siddiqui and Sumit Kumar were going at over 5 runs per over. Siddiqui was unlucky to miss out on a century by a whisker - out for 99 off just 75 balls! With the ball, they did knock off 4 Saurashtra wickets while defending a meager target of 59.

The result makes the task of qualifying even more difficult.

  • Playing XI:Changes: 
    • In: Sumit Kumar, Sonu Singh, (both in their first appearance of the season), Ashish Kumar
    • Out: Jaskaran Singh, Sunny Gupta, Virat SIngh
  • Maiden first-class century for Sumit Kumar, who also kept wickets, while Ishan Kishan played as a pure batsman.
  • First-class century #18 for Ishank Jaggi, also his 3rd of the season.
  • 50 FC wickets for Ashish Kumar in his 15th game
Season Stats
  • Top Scorer: Ishank Jaggi - 399 @66.50
  • Top Wicket-taker: Sunny Gupta - 15@20.20
  • Player Count: 17
  • Captain Count: 2
Points Tally - 8 after 4 games. Stayed at 4th. However, the gap with Top 3 has widened quite a bit. Need outright victories in both remaining games to stay in contention.

Coming Up Next
Jammu & Kashmir who are in the 6th place.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Farewell Nehraji!

T20I #630: India vs New Zealand, Feroz Shah Kotla, New Delhi

It wasn’t just another game. This one had context - the increasingly elusive factor in the modern sport!. After all it was the farewell match for Ashish Nehra, more popularly known as Nehraji. 

He hasn’t had the greatest career of them. Over the course of his stop-start 18-year international career he missed more matches than he played (17 Tests in 18 years - thats a telling statistic!). Injuries being the prime reason for keeping him away especially from the longest format. His career was in phases. A sudden start with a one-off Test appearance. Followed by becoming a regular for a few years in both formats. Then a gap, followed by a regular limited overs spot. And then when it seemed all over, a T20 international career at the very fag end! The returns may not have been outstanding but they were rewarding. A World Cup Winners and runners-up medals. Not many players can lay claim to that! And he got a grand farewell at his home ground – something which has eluded many a cricketing great in India!

After a long career, bowling your last over from an end named after you (albeit temporarily) cheered on by tens of thousands of spectators and then carried for a lap of honour by your team-mates! Endings don’t come more fairy-tailish than this!

So what memories of Nehraji will be retained!
  • That awkward action! How did it keep going on for so long!
  • That spell vs England in Durban in the 2003 World Cup! Swinging the ball like a banana and then puking a banana on the ground. The best swing bowling display ever by an Indian bowling combo!
  • The now infamous video of abusing a newbie Dhoni for not going for Afridi’s catch. A very justified reaction!
  • That picture with a very young Virat Kohli, who would later on go on to captain him in his last game! The circle of life. 
  • There was a time when Nehraji was out of the national squad but playing in Ranji. I recall Cricinfo having a dedicated Ashish Nehra section in the regular roundup!
  • Nonchalantly hitting the ball away in the air when he is the last man on crease with a single required to win against New Zealand!
  • Those comical fielding attempts! Missing the 2011 World Cup Final due to an injury suffered while attempting to take a diving catch in the semi-finals against Pakistan!
  • The frank interviews especially in the last stages of his career! That endearing revelation that in today's time, he still did not use a smartphone!
Nehraji, may you give you body some peace now. He certainly wasn't the greatest (ignore all the sentimentalist feelings after the retirement), but he certainly was an entertainer! Thanks for all the wonderful memories.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Ranji Trophy 17-18: Jharkhand vs Haryana

Match Summary: Haryana (208 & 296) lost to Jharkhand (425/9d & 81/0)
Points: Jharkhand 7, Haryana 0

The return of Shahbaz Nadeem bolstered Jharkhand as they romped home to a 10 wicket victory over Haryana. They knocked out Haryana quickly after having lost the toss. The top order failed but the middle and lower order took them to a big lead. After knocking over the Haryana top order in the 2nd innings, Jharkhand must have started scenting an innings victory. But there was some stubborn resistance, which lasted well into the final session. But the young openers chased down the target with ease and also secured a bonus point. 

  • Playing XI:Changes: 
    • In: Shahbaz Nadeem, Shasheem Rathour (both in their first appearance of the season), Varun Aaron
    • Out: Babul Kumar, Ajay Yadav, Ashish Kumar 
  • Saurabh Tiwary continues to captain the side
  • First-class century #17 for Ishank Jaggi which turned the game in Jharkhand's favour.
  • Ishan Kishan crosses the landmark of 50 catches in his 29th game.
  • 14th career 5-wicket haul for Shahbaz Nadeem
  • 50th first-class game for Sunny Gupta
Season Stats
  • Top Scorer: Ishan Kishan - 271 @54.20
  • Top Wicket-taker: Sunny Gupta - 15@20.20
  • Player Count: 15
  • Captain Count: 2
Points Tally - 8 after 3 games. Moved up 2 places to 4th.

Coming Up Next
Saurashtra who are in the top spot.