Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The Fire Burns Blue

The Fire Burns Blue: A History of Women’s Cricket in India by Karunya Keshav & Sidhanta Patnaik

The Fire Burns Blue – presents the story of the journey of Indian Women’s cricket in India from its difficult initial days in the 1970s to the highs of 2017 and its aftermath. When women’s cricket became cricket in India!

‘She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from history’ – a line which is apt for the average Indian cricket fan for whom women’s cricket barely registered even less than Cooch Behar trophy at times. And why blame fans, the game barely registered even with cricket statisticians. Just check cricinfo, which has a massive stats section. While random Men’s games dating back to mid-19th century have first-class status and are well documented in records, the women stats cover only internationals! So somebody like Ashleigh Barty has a profile on cricinfo but no stats to tell us about her on-field achievements!

Well I digress. Coming back to the book which is a treasure trove for the fans. The book begins with Haarmanpreet Kaur’s 171 in the 2017 World Cup Semi-Finals which finally captured the imagination of the cricket lovers in India for good. And then commences the journey from the very beginning.

The game had humble beginnings with small clubs in Bombay and other places sprouting in the 70s. This was followed by the founding of the Women’s Cricket Association of India and the first national championships. The book goes on to tell the stories of the first international touring teams and the first official matches. How Railways played a big part by first becoming the employer of choice of women cricketers and using that player base to maintain its hegemony on the Indian domestic circuit. And there were the long arduous train journeys and its accompanying travails. 

The journey is also a series of missed opportunities. There were times when the game could have taken off in India but for a variety of reasons did not. In fact there have been major controversies immediately after a high! Sometimes due to administrative apathy, sometimes cash crunch, sometimes infighting and player revolt, some personnel changes, and sometimes just not getting the results on field. India even missed playing a World Cup also. But always the game found a new benefactor somewhere!

The book does a good job in narrating the stories of individual cricketers while merging them with the specific issues facing women’s cricket and even women's sport in general.

A couple of passages from the book which stand out and also gives us a peek at how the journey has evolved.
"The Indian women’s team—skilfull, stylish, solid, shy, eager, kind, hungry, hard-working, driven, very good on so many days and frustrating on others—is yet to sort through everything it is and really define what kind of cricket it wants to play on the global stage."

And the second one on the leading lights of the game
"Shantha’s stature, Diana’s grit, Shubhangi’s steadiness, Sandhya’s skill, Purnima’s cheek, Neetu’s genius, Anjum’s fire, Mithali’s class, Rumeli’s promise, Jhulan’s warmth, Harman’s spark—these are the pillars of Indian women’s cricket that have held up the edifice so far. Now, as the journey gets ready to take another turn, add to it Smriti’s fearlessness."

Fun Facts
  1. Shireen Kiash represented India in cricket, hockey and basketball - a triple international!
  2. The choice of attire was something the Women’s Cricket Association in England spent considerable time on, specifying that the skirts ‘should be no shorter than four inches from the ground when kneeling’.
  3. India win their first Test against the West Indies in Patna in 1976 (a game which is often narrated to me by my father who was actually present aat the stadium)
Interestingly, I began this book around the time of the 2020 World T20 tournament where the Indian team reached another peak in its journey. While cornovirus may have stopped play, hopefully we will see the team go onward and upward.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Cricketing Nicknames

In the times of Coronavirus stopped play, all cricket buffs can do is reminisce about the past or make your own versions of dream teams or play fun activities like following on the different social media channels! 

Got this one on one of the WhatsApp groups.

Identify cricketers by nicknames / tags: (Answers also added)

1. Lil master - Hanif Mohammed/ Sunil Gavaskar/ Sachin Tendulkar
2. Prince of Trinidad - Brian Lara
3. Mr 360 - AB de Villiers
4. Mr Cricket - Mike Hussey
5. Don - Sir Donald Bradman
6. The Wall - Rahul Dravid
7. Captain cool - MS Dhoni
8. The Postman - Gavin Larsen
9. Universal Boss - Chris Gayle
10. King of reverse swing - Wasim Akram/ Waqar Younis
11. Pup - Michael Clarke
12. Punter - Ricky Ponting
13. Rawalpindi express - Shoaib Akhtar
14. God of offside - Sourav Ganguly
15. The Madmax - Aravinda de Silva
16. Jumbo - Anil Kumble
17. Pigeon - Glenn McGrath
18. Haryana Hurricane - Kapil Dev
19. Zulu - Lance Klusener
20. Master Blaster - Viv Richards/ Sachin Tendulkar

While others were straightforward #1, 10 & 20 had more than one claimant to the moniker. So have added multiple options to each of them!

#8 is my favourite. The Postman because he always delivered. From the lovely era of 90s New Zealand "attack" - Dibbly, Dobbly, Wibbly, Wobbly!

Let's hope play resumes soon. After all resumption of sporting action will be a sign that the world is healthy again.

Meanwhile everyone take care, stay home and stay safe!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Jharkhand Review

Jharkhand finished 6th in the Group in a season which started with a bang and then got derailed. There was the stunning come from behind opening game against Tripura where Jharkhand became the first team in the history of Ranji Trophy to win the game after following on. However, as the season progressed, the Saurabh Tiwary lead side saw more downs than ups and eventually ended 6th in the group.

Highs & Lows
  • The opening encounter against Tripura, which got its own separate post
  • Kumar Suraj’s good start to his first-class career. 
  • Missing senior players like Nadeem, Ishan & Aaron on account of India A duties and injuries.
And I ran into the team at Hyderabad airport!

Season Summary Game by Game
Game 1: Tripura (289 & 211) lost to Jharkhand (136 & 418/8d (f/o)) by 54 runs 
Points: Jharkhand 6, Tripura 0
  • First-Class Debut: Arnav Sinha, Vivekanand Tiwari
  • First-Class Century #18 for Saurabh Tiwary 
  • First-Class Century #19 for Ishank Jaggi 
  • 1000 First-Class runs for Virat Singh & Nazim Siddiqui 
  • Ashish Kumar – 2nd 5-wicket haul, Career - Best Innings & match figures
Game 2: Assam (162 & 186) lost to Jharkhand (415/9d) by innings & 67 runs 
Points: Jharkhand 7, Assam 0 
  • First-Class Debut: Pankaj Kumar, the wicket-keeper 
  • First-Class Century #3 for Nazim Siddiqui & Career-best 173
Game 3: Haryana (371) drew with Jharkhand (408/5) 
Points: Jharkhand 3, Haryana 1 
  • First-Class Century #2 for Kumar Deobrat & Career-best 161 
  • First-Class Century #19 for Saurabh Tiwary
Game 4: Jharkhand (259 & 155) lost to Jammu & Kashmir (441) by an innings & 27 runs 
Points: Jharkhand 0, Jammu & Kashmir 7 

Game 5: Maharashtra (434 & 48/2) beat Jharkhand (170 & 311 (f/o)) by 8 wickets 
Points: Jharkhand 0, Maharashtra 6 
  • First-Class Debut – Kumar Suraj 
  • 5-Wicket Haul #1 – Utkarsh Singh
Game 6: Uttarakhand (227 & 273) lost to Jharkhand (298 & 203/4) by 6 wickets 
Points: Jharkhand 6, Uttarakhand 0 
  • 2000 First-Class Runs for Kumar Deobrat 
  • 50 Catches for Sumit Kumar 
  • 100 First-Class Wickets, 3rd 5-wicket haul & best match-figures for Ashish Kumar 
  • 5-wicket haul #6 for Ajay Yadav 
Game 7: Services (279 & 259/8d) beat Jharkhand (153 & 267) by 118 runs 
Points: Jharkhand 0, Services 6 
  • First-Class Debut for Sahil Raj 
  • First-Class Century #1 for Kumar Suraj 
  • 100 First-Class wickets for Rahul Shukla, 5th 5-wicket haul & best innings performance 
Game 8: Chhattisgarh (559) drew with Jharkhand (242 & 51/0) 
Points: Chhattisgarh 3, Jharkhand 1 
  • First-Class Century #3 for Virat Singh & highest score 
Game 9: Odisha (436 & 187/1) drew with Jharkhand (356) 
Points: Odisha 3, Jharkhand 1 
  • 100th First-Class Match for Saurabh Tiwary 
  • First-Class Century #2 for Kumar Suraj 
  • 5-wicket Haul #4 for Ashish Kumar 
Season Stats 
Most Runs:
  1. Saurabh Tiwary – 641 @58.27, 2x100s & 3x50s
  2. Kumar Deobrat – 515 @39.62, 1x100s & 2x50s
  3. Kumar Suraj – 457 @57.13, 2x100 & 2x50s
Highest Score – Nazim Siddiqui – 173 vs Assam
Most Wickets
  1. Ashish Kumar – 37 @221.78, 3x5s 
  2. Rahul Shukla – 19 @34.42, 1x5s
  3. Utkarsh Singh – 16 @40.44, 1x5s
Best Bowling – Rahul Shukla – 7/106 vs Services
Player Count: 21
First-Class Debuts: 5

Till next season! However there is the small matter of IPL in between, where the likes of Tiwary, Virat Singh, Ishan, Nadeem, Aaron and Monu would look to put in performances worth of the highlights reel. And maybe consolidate an A Spot.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

2019-20 Ranji Season: Bihar Review

After a good run in their comeback/debut season, Bihar entered 2019-20 season riding on a 6-match winning streak with a shot at Mumbai’s overall record of 8 wins in row. Although those were dashed in the very first game itself. Overall, this was an inconsistent season for the Ashutosh Aman lead side and Bihar finished 5th in the Plate league. The Plate League has also got more competitive this year unlike last season when it was a straight contest between Bihar & Uttarakhand for the top slot!

Highs & Lows
  • Ashutosh Aman had another great season picking 49 wickets and also getting 3 50s.
  • Babul Kumar, Rahmatullah and Vikash Ranjan have formed the core of the batting with each of them scoring over 500 runs in the season.
  • The initial form of Yashasvi Rishav looks good. 
  • Abhijeet Saket picking up consecutive 7-wicket hauls.
  • Meanwhile nepotism rocks – Otherwise how does Lakhan Raja keep playing after getting ducks in his first three innings. 
Here is the Match-by-match season summary:

Game 1: Bihar (173 & 196) lost to Puducherry (300 & 70/0) by 10 wickets
Points: Bihar 0, Puducherry 7
  • First-Class Debut: Nishant Kumar, Sabir Khan
  • 2nd 5-wicket haul for Vivek Kumar
Game 2: Chandigarh (420) drew with Bihar (115 & 175/6 f/o)
Points: Bihar 1, Chandigarh 3
  • First-Class Debut: Shashi Shekhar 
  • 10th 5-wicket haul for Ashutosh Aman
Game 3: Bihar (326 & 162/1) drew with Goa (470)
Points: Bihar 1, Goa 3
  • First-Class Debut: Kumar Mridul
  • 11th 5-wicket haul for Ashutosh Aman 
  •  First-Class Century #1 for Babul Kumar
Game 4: Mizoram (378 & 68) lost to Bihar (262 & 188/4) 
Points: Bihar 6, Mizoram 0 
  • First-Class Debut: Lakhan Raja, Shabbir Khan 
  • 12th 5-wicket haul for Ashutosh Aman 
  • 1st 5-wicket haul for Abhijeet Saket 
Game 5: Bihar (431) beat Manipur (94 & 154) by innings & 183 runs 
Points: Bihar 7, Manipur 0 
  • First-Class Debut: Atulya Priyankar 
  • First-Class Century #2 for Indrajit Kumar 
  • Abhijeet Saket: 2nd 5-Wicket haul & 1st 10-wicket haul 
Game 6: Nagaland (166 & 444/4) drew with Bihar (509/7d) 
Points: Bihar 3, Nagaland 1 
  • First-Class Century #2 for Rahmatullah 
  • First-Class Century #1 for Vikash Ranjan 
Game 7: Bihar (208 & 361/4d) drew with Meghalaya (179 & 138/2) 
Points: Bihar 3, Meghalaya 1 
  • First-Class Debut: Basukinath, Yashasvi Rishav, Sarfaraz Ashraf & Amod Yadav 
  • First-Class Century #3 for Rahmatullah 
  • First-Class Century #1 for Yashasv Rishav 
  • 100 First-Class wickets for Ashutosh Aman 
Game 8: Arunachal Pradesh (351 & 163) lost to Bihar (291 & 227/4) by 6 wickets 
Points: Bihar 6, Arunachal Pradesh 0 
  • First Class Debut: Nikhil Anand 
  • First Class Century #4 & #5 as well as 1000 career runs for Rahmatullah. 
  • 5-wicket haul #13 & 10-wicket haul #6 for Ashutosh Aman 
Game 9: Bihar (305 & 417/8d) drew with Sikkim (272 & 69/1) 
Points: Bihar 3, Sikkim 1 
  • 1000 First-Class runs for Babul Kumar & Century #2 and Highest score 
  • First-Class Century #1 for Shasheem Rathour 
  • 14th 5-wicket haul for Ashutosh Aman
Season Stats 
Most Runs:
  1. Babul Kumar – 822 @54.80, 2x100s & 5x50s
  2. Rahmatullah – 695 @63.18, 4x100s & 2x50s
  3. Vikash Ranjan – 570 @57.00, 1x100 & 4x50s
Highest Score – Babul Kumar – 195 vs Sikkim

Most Wickets
  1. Ashutosh Aman – 49 @18.10, 5x5s 
  2. Abhijeet Saket- 26 @15.65, 2x5s
  3. Shivam Kumar – 24 @38.75
Best Bowling – Abhijeet Saket – 7/12 vs Mizoram
Player Count: 23
First-Class Debuts: 12 – quite a high number, but expected given that this is just the second season.

Till next season!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Twenty19 Lineup

As the year 2019 AD comes to a close, time to take a look back and present the Slipstream Cricket XI of 2019 – things to remember the cricketing year going by. 

1. Men’s ODI World Cup cricket 
England are champions or are they? When Super Over seems an unfair way to decide any game, forget a World Cup Final, Boundary count is just downright crueler. If only Martin Guptill’s throw was off-target. 

2. Performance of the Year 
Kusal Perera’s 153* to win Sri Lanka a Test in South Africa. Close competition from Ben Stokes’s twin feats, at the biggest stages – the World Cup Final at Lords and the Ashes Test at Edgbaston. And of course there was Anjali Chand’s 6/0 for Nepal against Maldives. Which brings us to 

3. Debutantes 
There were international debuts galore with ICC giving T20I status to all. So the new entrant list is huge. 
  • Men’s ODI - Oman 
  • Men’s T20I – Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cayman Islands, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Italy, Jersey, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, USA, Vanuatu 
  • Women’s T20I – Argentina, Austria, Belize, Bhutan, Canada, Costa Rica, Fiji, France, Germany, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Jersey, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Mali, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Tanzania, USA, Vanuatu, Zimbabwe. Meanwhile Botswana, Brazil, Chile, China, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Uganda, UAE had made their maiden appearance last year itself. 
This created a nightmare for statisticians (And cricket is a game which loves statistics). There were lopsided results galore with many unwanted international records being set. However, there were some stunning results as well e.g. Singapore beating Zimbabwe in T20I, Thailand qualifying for Women’s ODI World Cup and Japan entering the U-19 World Cup. Certainly good for the global game! 

4. The globe-trotter 
Lasith Malinga – picks 3 wickets in Mumbai in an IPL game, heads to Kandy next morning and picks up 7 wickets there 

5. Jargon of the Year 
3D players – apparently this is the need of the hour. I believe earlier they were called bits-and-pieces players. 

6. Mystery solved (or maybe not) 
Shahid Afridi’s real age – It was revealed in his autobiography which he himself has not read apparently. Although there are multiple versions in that as well. He certainly was older than 16 when he debuted which means that he is still an active player in his mid-40s! 

7. The rebirth/sequel 
Pakistan had the social media buzzing with the bizarre similarities in their 2019 World Campaign with their successful 1992 campaign. But it ended prematurely and they were knocked out in the Group stages but not before giving enough meme-worthy moments, e.g Sarfaraz yawning, The fan’s reaction in the stands as he sees another catch dropped and of course, the pizza-burger moment! 

8. World Test Championships commences 
Finally, the World Test Championships starts. It brings about its own innovations e.g. Players have numbers & names on the shirt. Then there is the complicated points system where different matches yield different points. And of course the fact that not everyone plays each other. As if cricket is not confusing enough 

9. How to explain cricket 
Andrew Flintoff attempted to explain what cricket is to Jennifer Lopez with hilarious results.


10. Concussion substitutes 
Marnus Labuschagne became the 1st ever substitute player in Test history replacing Steve Smith. Since then it has become (unfortunately) a not-so-uncommon occurrence. And we also have had 12 batsmen appearing in an innings. 

11. The underdog hero of the cricketing world 
Pavel Florin, a Romanian player appearing in the European Cricket League became a cricket twitter celebrity after his bowling footage made an appearance on the social media platform 

The 12th Man -The Celebrations 
We have the Cottrell salute, but Tabraiz Shamsi literally pulled off a magic trick celebration in Mzansi Cricket League! 

And finally, the one that got away - Ashleigh Barty. From Tennis to WBBL to back to tennis and becoming World #1 Tennis player and Grand Slam champion! Another who attempted to explain cricket and stopped. 

Wishing all fellow cricket tragics a Happy Twenty20!

Friday, December 20, 2019

IPL 2020 Auction – Jharkhand Update

It was a small auction this time around. But team Jharkhand made some progress.
  1. Virat Singh was picked for Rs. 1.90 Crores by Sunrisers Hyderabad, where he will join state mate Shahbaz Nadeem.
  2. Saurabh Tiwary returns to the IPL fold after a year-long gap after his old team Mumbai Indians picked him up for Rs. 50 lakhs. Tiwary will join Ishan Kishan and Anukul Roy at the team.
Varun Aaron had been retained by Rajasthan Royals while MS Dhoni and Monu Kumar continue with Chennai Super Kings.

This takes the Jharkhand team tally to 8. Certainly a good presence! Hopefully they get serious game time and enhance their chances for an India or at least an India A call-up.

Good luck to the boys!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Jharkhand’s Eden Garden moment

Jharkhand vs Tripura, Agartala – Dec, 2019

Jharkhand became the first team in history of Ranji Trophy to win a game after being asked to follow-on. And what a special effort it was with the senior batsmen Saurabh Tiwary & Ishank Jaggi getting unbeaten hundreds to first overcome the deficit and then set up a target for the bowlers. Ashish Kumar and company then complemented the efforts of the batsman to knock out Tripura in the very last over. A truly remarkable feat in the sporting context itself. And add the fact that Jharkhand were without the services of Varun Aaron, Shahbaz Nadeem and Ishan Kishan. This one becomes extra special. 

The last day commenced in uncertainty, in the backdrop of violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. At such times sports do not really matter but they can act as a balm to maintain a semblance of normalcy. Kudos to the organizers and the teams for going through with the game on such a day. Otherwise we wouldn’t have had such a remarkable passage of play in the history of Ranji Trophy! 

VVS Laxman’s career catapulted from an ordinary one into an all-time great trajectory after the miracle at Eden Gardens. Lets see what impact does this special effort have on the careers of Kumar Deobrat, Arnav Sinha, Nazim Siddiqui, Saurabh Tiwary, Ishank Jaggi, Virat Singh, Anukul Roy, Rahul Prasad, Vivekanand Tiwari, Ashish Kumar and Ajay Yadav. 

How Jharkhand pulled off a repeat of Eden Gardens in Agartala - Cricinfo Article 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy 2019-20: Jharkhand Review

The Jharkhand campaign was off to a good start but fizzled out later, qualifying for the Super League but ending winless there. 

The Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy served as an audition for the IPL Auctions coming up in December. Overall, only Virat Singh and Utkarsh Singh came up with performances of note for an entry into the Auctions. 

Ishan Kishan lead the side in the campaign before handing over to Shahbaz Nadeem and later to Saurabh Tiwary. Here is the match-wise summary. 

Game 1: Jharkhand vs Odisha. Match Abandoned due to Rains 

Game 2: Saurashtra 169/3 (20) lost to Jharkhand 170/4 (19/4) by 6 wickets 
Highlights: Virat Singh 67* (38), Saurabh Tiwary 39 (27) 

Game 3: Jharkhand 107/10 (19.4) beat Jammu & Kashmir 100/10 (19.5) by 7 runs 
Highlights: Virat Singh 44 (43), Rahul Shukla 4/10 (4), Shahbaz Nadeem 2/10 (3), Varun Aaron 2/21 (4). 

Game 4: Sikkim 63/10 (16) lost to Jharkhand 65/2 (9.5) by 8 wickets 
Highlights: Anukul Roy 3/11 (4), Utkarsh Singh 3/14 (4), Vivek Tiwari 2/7 (3), Virat Singh 35* (26) 
T20 Debut: Vivek Tiwari 

Game 5: Nagaland 145/6 (20) lost to Jharkhand 149/3 (17.5) by 7 wickets 
Highlights: Anand Singh 81* (59) & 2/29 (4), Ishan Kishan 48 (31), Varun Aaron 3/17 (4) 

Game 6: Delhi 176/5 (20) beat Jharkhand 167/6 (20) by 9 runs 
Highlights: Utkarsh Singh 49* (25) & 2/24 (3), Virat Singh 32 (21), Kumar Deobrat 33 (24) 

Game 7: Gujarat 128/7 (20) lost to Jharkhand 131.1 (18) by 9 wickets 
Highlights: Virat Singh 52* (32), Utkarsh Singh 42* (45) 

Jharkhand reach the Super League after finishing second behind Delhi on head-to-head record. 

Super League 
Game 1: Punjab 199/4 (20) beat Jharkhand 90/10 (14.2) by 109 runs 
Shahbaz Nadeem lead the side. 

Game 2: Karnataka 189/6 (20) beat Jharkhand 176/5 (20) by 13 runs 
Highlights: Sonu Singh 3/28 (4), Virat Singh 76* (44), Anand Singh 41 (39) 
Saurabh Tiwary lead the side 

Game 3: Jharkhand 170/5 (20) lost to Mumbai 171/5 (19.1) by 5 wickets 
Highlights: Kumar Deobrat 58 (30) 
Saurabh Tiwary lead the side 

Game 4: Jharkhand 85/10 (18.1) lost to Tamil Nadu 86/2 (13.5) by 8 wickets. 
Saurabh Tiwary lead the side. 

Season Stats 
Highest Scorers 
  1. Virat Singh: 343 @51.57, 3x50 
  2. Saurabh Tiwary: 169 @24.14 
  3. Utkarsh Singh: 150 @30.00 
Highest Wicket-Takers 
  1. Varun Aaron: 10 @23.40 
  2. Utkarsh Singh: 9 @20.11 
  3. Rahul Shukla: 7 @27.86
Best Batting: Virat Singh – 76 vs Karnataka 
Best Bowling: Rahul Shukla – 4/10 vs Jammu & Kashmir 
Players Used: 16 
T20 Debuts: 1 

Coming Up Next: Ranji Trophy.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy 19-20: Bihar Review

The bad run continued for the Ashutosh Aman led side. Bihar lost all 6 games to finish bottom of Group A. Only in the last game against Uttarakhand was a semblance of fight put up. There weren't too many individual performances of note - with Rajesh Singh's all-round display against Goa being the highlight. The team is still finding its feet at the senior level which is clear from the amount of chopping and changing going on with the personnel.
Summary of the tournament. 

Game 1: Bihar 97/7 (20) lost to Andhra 98/0 (11.5) by 10 wickets 
Highlights: Rahmatullah 44*(35) 
T20 Debut: Anshuman Gautam, Rajesh Singh, Shivam Kumar, Vipul Krishna 

Game 2: Goa 202/4 (20) beat Bihar 173/8 (20) by 29 runs 
Highlights: Rajesh Singh 64 (28), Rahmatullah 38 (33) 

Game 3: Services 184/7 (20) beat Bihar 90/9 (20) by 94 runs 
Highlights: Sarfaraz Ashraf 3/35 (4) 
T20 Debut: Eshaan Ravi, Shashi Shekhar 

Game 4: Bihar 124/7 (20) lost to Baroda 125/0 (12.3) by 10 wickets 
Highlights: Kunal Dabas 45 (40), Rajesh Singh 31 (25) 
T20 Debuts: Kunal Dabas, Harsh Singh, Shashi Gupta 

Game 5: Bihar 106/10 (19.3) lose to Karnataka 107/1 (11.2) by 9 wickets 
Highlights: Babul Kumar 41 (34) 
T20 Debut: Abhijeet Saket 

Game 6: Bihar 134/8 (20) lost to Uttarakhand 138/4 (19.1) by 6 wickets 
Highlights: Rahmatullah 64 (45) 

Season Stats 
Highest Scorers 
  1. Rahmatullah – 172 @ 34.40 
  2. Rajesh Singh – 106 @ 17.67 
  3. Babul Kumar – 100 @ 16.67 
Highest Wicket-Takers 
  1. Sarfaraz Ashraf – 5 @ 27.40 
  2. Shashi Shekhar – 3 @ 13.67 
  3. Vipul Krishna – 2 @ 36.00 
Best Batting: Rahmatullah – 64 vs Uttarakhand, Rajesh Singh 64 vs Goa 
Best Bowling – Sarfaraz Ashraf – 3/35 vs Services 
Players Used - 18 
T20 Debuts – 10 

Coming Up Next – Ranji Trophy, where Bihar is in the Plate Group.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Shahbaz Nadeem - the Feel-Good Story

Every once in a while, Indian cricket amidst its many shenanigans, comes up with what can only be described as a feel-good story. A player from one of the lesser teams with consistently good performances over the years, finally getting his hand at the elusive India Cap. He might return back to the anonymity of the domestic circuit soon after because of lack of space at the top. But does become a fan favorite for all-time. 

Remember Jasu Patel, who played 7 Tests in all but took a historic 9-wicket haul after being recalled at the age of 36! Or Gagan Khoda, who played 2 ODIs but had a Man-of-the-Match winning 89 in his last innings. Or Faiz Fazal who in his solitary ODI for India scored an unbeaten 50 and then returned to the domestic scene to lead Vidarbha to back-to-back Ranji and Irani Trophy titles. Or the recently retired Abhishek Nayar who played 3 ODIs without getting any opportunity to bat or bowl!

Then there is the other category, domestic stalwarts who never got a chance with the national team - Padmakar Shivalkar, Rajinder Goel, Amol Mazumdar, Amarjeet Kaypee et al. 

Thankfully, Shahbaz Nadeem, after years of toil for Jharkhand and India A squads and even a T20 call-up got his due with a Test debut on his domestic home ground. 15 years since first-class debut, over 400 first-class wickets, two consecutive Ranji seasons as the highest wicket-taker, world-record List A figures. 4 wickets at an average of 10, a catch and a run-out. Overall an excellent performance. Fully justifying the faith of the selectors who picked him as a last-minute injury replacement.

The feel-good balloon has got pricked because Nadeem has been dropped form the squad for the next Test. A justified decision, keeping in line with the recent policy of a replacement making way for the first-choice player who is fit again. Karun Nair got dropped after scoring a Triple Century! But still the decision is difficult to accept for the fans (especially like this blog which has covered Nadeem and his fellow Jharkhand mates' performances over the years).

Hopefully, this will not be Nadeem's last India Cap. And he returns to Jharkhand & A teams and keeps churning out figures which keep him in the selector's radar. After all, having got a taste of international cricket, he should be ready for another bite of the cake when the opportunity presents itself!

And even if Nadeem doesn't get another India Cap well he will go down as one of the best stories from Indian cricket in recent times.