Friday, September 22, 2017

Arbit Stats #67

India vs Australia, Eden Gardens

Hat-tricks - They are rare events. And somehow each manages to become unique in its own respect.

With the wickets of Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins in consecutive balls , Kuldeep Yadav became the first ever player to take a hat-trick in ODIs and U-19 ODIs. He has a hat-trick against Scotland Under-19s as well!

Early days, but looks like this Chinaman is here for the long run!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Pakistan Cricket's New Dawn (?)

3rd March, 2009 
Sri Lankan team is attacked by armed gunmen in Lahore on the way to the Gaddafi Stadium. 7 players and an umpire are injured while 8 Pakistani civilians and policemen are killed. An attack which effectively put an end to international cricket in Pakistan.

12th September, 2017 
More than eight years after the attack, Pakistan hosts a World XI team sent by ICC in the same Gaddafi stadium. Marking the end of the international exile of Pakistan as an international cricketing venue. They did host Zimbabwe earlier and the PSL final. But this was the first big step in the return of international cricket. And could be used as a stepping stone for future engagements.

Just some random thoughts after the first game.
  • Eight and a half years! That’s a pretty long period. This blog did not even exist at that time!
  • What a feeling it must be for the Pakistani players – many of whom would be appearing for the first time in front of their countrymen in their own country. Also first international appearance for Imran Tahir in the country of his birth.
  • How did these games get international status? There are quite a few amongst the World XI ranks who would not even feature in their respective country lineups!
  • This was the first live sporting action, I watched on Discovery Sport! Mostly they are showing horse races.
  • Pakistan’s uniform looked more blue that green. Reminded me of the Kiwi colours during the late 90s.
  • There is a thing about World XIs. This rag-tag bunch always seems to lose.
  • Also kudos to the World XI players for braving it out. If things go well (fingers crossed) they would be hailed as pioneers in the days to come.
Overall a great initiative by the ICC and Pakistan Cricket. Hopefully this will herald better days for cricket and life in Pakistan.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Arbit Stats #66

England vs South Africa, Oval, 2017

Moeen Ali took a hat-trick to hasten South Africa's end in the 3rd Test. A rare happening in itself, this hat-trick was even more unique as it was the first ever hat-trick in Test Match Cricket in which the three dismissed batsmen were all left-handed!

Dean Elgar, Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel - you are an exclusive trio!

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Women In Blue

The World Cup is done and dusted and we are back in the familiar environs of an India-Sri Lanka bilateral series. For one whole month, for a pleasant change it was the Indian women cricketers who were in the spotlight while the Men took a back-seat. 

One victory followed another, as the Women in Blue became the new darlings of the Indian Social Media. Good on-field performances ensured lots of positive coverage as the team went onto reach the Finals. England, West Indies, Pakistan, Sri Lanka were easily tackled before hiccups came in form of losses to South Africa and Australia. But with a semi-final place at stake they got their most emphatic victory over New Zealand to qualify for the knock-outs. A sensational Harmanpreet Kaur century got them into the Finals. However, they faltered at the very last step. Mithali Raj said they panicked. To regular cricket followers, this was simply the classic South African choke which their men's team regularly brings on display at the big tournaments.

Leaving aside the stumble at the last step, it was a remarkable tournament for the Indian team. And not just from a cricketing perspective. After all, they have been runners-up before. But this was the first time that the Women's team was in (well deserved) limelight.  Live coverage of the games, England being in a very Indian viewer-friendly timezone, well promoted, backed up by solid social media coverage and good on-field performances all combined to ensure that for the first time ever, many Indians actually watched a Women's cricket match.

And then there were the players themselves. Mithali Raj lead from the front, batted well and spoke even better. Dismissing a reporter's query on favorite male cricketer, also nonchalantly reading a book while waiting for her turn to bat, dancing alongwith Veda Krishnamurthy to the DJ music, becoming the all time leading run-getter - all combined to make her a fan favorite. Then there was Harmanpreet Kaur's innings - many immediately compared it to Kapil Dev's 175, such was its impact. And that "celebration" on getting a century! Poor Dipti Sharma was at the receiving end. Jhulan Goswami's ball to dismiss Meg Lanning. After a smashing start to the tournament, Smriti Mandhana was declared as India's national crush??? And then there was the wicket-keeper Sushma Verma, who also had the extra responsibility of taking the team selfie!

Now for the big question. Where does Women's cricket head next? Awards and promotions have been announced, felicitations have been organised, they also have the average follower's attention. But how does BCCI build on all the goodwill generated for the team. More centrally contracted players, more coverage for the national matches, a women's tournament on the likes of the IPL. I, for one, don't know when the next international series is. However, one thing they do need to avoid is to keep comparing with the men's game. The gulf is too stark for any meaningful comparison at this stage.

And all these measures if done correctly,this World Cup would be remembered as the one in which women's cricket became just cricket! After all, if in a matter of just three years if Kabaddi can raise it's profile to become one of the most viewed sports in the country, there is no reason why women's cricket can't.

P.S. Random Articles
Jarrod Kimber's article on how to watch women's cricket [Link]
The Importance of Harmanpreet Kaur [Link]
Sharda Ugra talking about the next steps [Link] (Basically an article doing a much better job of what I intended to do in this blog]

Monday, June 19, 2017

Arbit Stats #65

After playing 40 matches (16 ODIs and 24 T20Is), spread over 1 Year, 4 Months and 26 Days, Jasprit Bumrah scored his first international run in his 7th outing to the crease. Thankfully, he does alright with the ball, otherwise, that is one long wait for your first run.

And he did choose a big occasion of the Champions Trophy Final to finally trouble the scorers.

Does India have our own Chris Martin in the making now?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

IPL 10: Jharkhand Review

The 10th edition of the IPL is done and dusted and the cricketing circus has moved on to the next destination – the Champions Trophy. But before we go there, a lookback at the Jharkhand team’s performance in the IPL.
  1. MS Dhoni (Rising Pune Supergiant) – 16 Matches, 290 runs @26.36, Strike Rate – 116. For the first time in IPL was not captaining the team. But he was still there setting fields for his captain from behind the stumps. Behind the stumps, he was flawless but in front, his powers are on wane. Although gave flashes of his brilliant past, most memorably in the chase against Hyderabad, but certainly heading to the twilight of his career. 
  2. Ishan Kishan (Gujarat Lions) – 11 Matches, 277 runs @27.70, Strike rate – 134.46. Showed some signs of his firepower and striking ability. Became the third youngest player to score an IPL fifty. Unfortunately for him the two faster ones are his direct competitiors for the national wicket-keeper’s slot, Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant, both of whom seem to be ahead of him in the pecking order. Also Dinesh Karthik’s presence made him play as a pure batsman only. 
  3. Shahbaz Nadeem (Delhi Daredevils) – 7 Matches, 6 wickets @19.83, Economy rate -6.67. Numbers which suggest that he should have got more games for the struggling Delhi side but did not. After all his was the best economy rate in the team. Delhi’s selection tactics were weird to say the least. But Nadeem did his reputation no harm. 
  4. Varun Aaron (Kings XI Punjab) – 6 Matches, 7 wickets @23.28, Economy rate – 8.15. Aaron got a few games, and his economy was the best amongst the Kings XI fast bowlers, including the Sharma trio – Ishant, Mohit, Sandeep. But couldn’t really light up the tournament. 
  5. Ishank Jaggi (Kolkata Knight Riders) – 2 matches, 33 runs @33.00, Strike rate – 84.61. Returned to the IPL fold after 4 seasons, with a last moment entry into the Auctions list. Came into the playing XI at the very end only due to an injury to Manish Pandey. Numbers might not be much, but did play crucial knocks in both the knock-outs, steadying the manic 6-over chase in the eliminator before doing his best to salvage the crumbling KKR ship in the 2nd Qualifier. 
  6. Saurabh Tiwary (Mumbai Indians) – 1 match, 52 runs @52, Strike Rate – 120.93. Got one chance when Mumbai decided to rest their senior players and made most out of it. But got a public ticking off from his partner Ambati Rayudu for his poor running! 
So in all, a decent IPL for the Jharkhand boys. Lets hope the next edition is even better. However, with a fresh auction coming up, a good domestic season is needed.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Rivalry

Which is the biggest rivalry in cricket these days? Is it

  • (a) England vs Australia - for the hopeless tragics? But it only come alive during the Ashes. OR
  • (b) India vs Pakistan - well, they don't seem to be playing each other often enough except for the big tournaments, where Pakistan always seem to be falling short :). OR
  • (c) India vs Australia - produce great cricket and controversies. Yes they are very close to the top, OR
  • (d) BCCI vs Supreme Court? Not much of a contest as the Supreme Court always seems to be winning, OR
  • (e) West Indies Board vs West Indies players - this one seems to have been going on forever. Should be the next challenge for India's Supreme Court which has taken serious interest in cricketing matters.
But for pure on-field action and actual "context", nothing beats the nascent rivalry which has developed between Ireland and Afghanistan. There can't be more disparate nations. And yet here are two teams who find themselves in the same boat and fighting for a similar cause - Test Status - the Holy Grail for all cricketers.

Both Ireland and Afghanistan add the feel-good factor in these murky times (and not just from a cricketing perspective). The Irish for being able to produce one upset after another at the biggest stage - Pakistan, England, West Indies - that's an impressive lineup. In earlier times, even one big victory  would have been good enough to get Test status (Bangladesh beating Pakistan in 1999 World Cup). But not anymore. The Irish have staked their claim as the best Associate nation for the best part of last decade. In the limited chances they have got, they have proved that their performances haven't been just a flash in the pan. They have shown remarkable consistency given the limited opportunities, while at the same time seeing their best players being regularly poached by English! ICC certainly needs to take steps to ensure that England stop using their annual game against Ireland as a campus recruitment exercise!

On the other hand, Afghanistan have brought a fairy-tale story to life. Coming from a war-torn country, the fact that they play itself was considered a big story. Not any longer. They show that they can compete with the big boys. Although they haven't got the big scalps like the Irish. But they are consistent. Unlike other Associates, they do not depend upon expats but home-grown players (rather grown in refugee camps). Their sheer presence at the global level warms the heart. And their players back it up with flair and competition. Just how loved the team is can be seen, when the losing team joins them in a victory dance (West Indies in the last T20 World Cup).

In the light of this, comes the Inter-continental Cup, with the winner getting a chance to play a series of First-Class matches against the bottom placed Test team (Zimbabwe, whom both Ireland and Afghanistan regularly beat) to get Test status. Hence the special context which this rivalry has got. Ireland have been the more consistent ones, with Afghanistan coming up fast. Even their contests have got the dash of controversy. (Remember Nabi running out Joyce).

So two well-matched teams, representative of the greater Associate cause, Test status at stake, and with a dash of controversy adding to the bite in the rivalry. They may be just off the spotlight, but this is "the rivalry" on the global cricketing stage.

Although now the Irish are showing signs of decline while the Afghans are on acsendancy as was evident in the recent series played in India. With ICC showing signs of bringing more teams into the Test fold, we certainly don't want to see Ireland going the Kenya way. Hopefully recent performances are just a blip.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Vijay Hazare 2016-17: Jharkhand Review

Jharkhand followed the successful run in Ranji Trophy with another good run in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the national List A tournament. The team had a good outing in the Group stages winning 4 and losing 2 to enter the Quarter-finals edging past Hyderabad on Net Run Rates. The Quarters were another walk in the park against Vidarbha before the team lost in the semi-finals to Bengal.

It was an eventful run for Jharkhand, both on and off the field with a fire incident in the team hotel causing the semi-finals to be delayed by a day. Dhoni's presence as captain lead to an increased media coverage of the team, which certainly put the spotlight on the good performers. However, it was the usual suspects who made the most of the spotlight - Saurabh Tiwary, Ishank Jaggi, Ishan Kishan and Shahbaz Nadeem - all of whom strengthened their claims for an India A berth.

The batting at the top remains an area of concern with the middle order of Tiwary , Jaggi and Dhoni having to regularly bail out the team.

Best Perfomance: Dhoni's 129 vs Chhattisgarh, almost single-handedly taking the team to victory.

Top Scorers:
1. Saurabh Tiwary - 368 runs @ 52.57
2. MS Dhoni - 330 runs @ 66.00
3. Ishank Jaggi - 279 runs @ 55.80

Most Wickets:
1. Shahbaz Nadeem - 15 wickets @ 18.00
2. Varun Aaron - 14 wickets @ 21.64
3. Rahul Shukla - 13 wickets @ 26.54

Overall this was a good season for Jharkhand with the zoanl T20s being the only blip. They have moved deeper in both Ranji and Vijay Hazare this year. Hopefully next season we will get our hands on that elusive Trophy.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Arbit Stats #64: Like Father Like Son

WICB Professional Cricket League Regional 4-Day Tournament 

In Guyana's first innings score of 262, there were three well compiled 50s. Two of which were scored by the father-son duo of Shivnarine and Tagenarine Chanderpaul. The Chanderpauls thus becoming the first father-son pair to make a half-century in the same first class game ever!

Now that's a stat which will take some beating!!!

Monday, February 20, 2017

IPL 2017 Auction: Jharkhand

As the dust settles on the IPL Auctions for 2017, here is taking a look at how the Jharkhand boys have fared. 

The Retained
  1. MS Dhoni - retained by Rising Pune Supergiants but has been removed from captaincy. For the first time in IPL, Dhoni will be playing just as a member of the playing XI and not as captain.
  2. Shahbaz Nadeem - retained by Delhi Daredevils. After being the top wicket-taker for 2 consecutive Ranji seasons, he is now an India A team regular with a national call-up not too far away. With Tahir and Negi released, should be a first choice spinner for the team. Has competition from Jayant Yadav and M Ashwin.
  3. Ishan Kishan - retained by Gujarat Lions. Coming from a prolific domestic season which has seen him get regular India A call-ups, this youngster will be fighting for the keeper's slot with Dinesh Karthik. Should certainly get a few games.
  4. Pratyush Singh - Retained by Delhi Daredevils. He started playing for Delhi but made his first-class debut for Jharkhand in this very season! May not get a game this year as well.
The Newly Bought
  1. Varun Aaron - released by Royal Challengers Bangalore and now bought by Kings XI Punjab for 2.80 crores. He has pace, but is injury prone and often expensive. Might not be a first choice but could get a few games in.
  2. Saurabh Tiwary - released by Pune, now returns to Mumbai Indians for 30 lakhs, the team from which he got into the national XI. Might not be part of a first choice eleven but should get a few games. 
  3. Ishank Jaggi - returns to IPL action after a long time after some headline making knocks in the Ranji Trophy and Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy. Sterling performances in the Mustaq Ali Trophy saw his name added to the draft after initially missing out. Picked at base price of 10 lakh by Kolkata Knight Riders. But will he get a chance to play?
Not picked in the Auctions - Rahul Shukla, Virat Singh, Vikash Singh, Monu Kumar.

Over the last few seasons, Jharkhand cricket has been on  an upswing with the team reaching Ranji knock-outs on a regular basis. Quite a few players are putting up their name for the A squad. All they need is one superlative season like Saurbah Tiwary's 2010 run to come up with a national call. Lets see who of the seven grab this opportunity.