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.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Vijay Hazare Trophy 19-20: Jharkhand Review

After a good run to the semi-finals last year, Jharkhand had a middling season this time around. Having been promoted to Group A, they were in contention till the very last game but ran into Yashasvi Jaiswal, who hammered a double century. Jharkhand gave a valiant chase but fell short. Overall, it was a decent run for the Ishan Kishan led side. 

There were good all-round performances from Anukul Roy and Utkarsh Singh, while Virat Singh led the way with bat alongwith the ever-dependable Saurabh Tiwary However, most of the star players Shahbaz Nadeem, Ishan Kishan, and Varun Aaron had average tournaments which reflected in the team’s performance also. Here is the season summary. 

Game 1: Karnataka 285/9 (50) beat Jharkhand 162/10 (37.5) by 123 runs 
Key Performers: Rahul Shukla 4/43 (10), Anand Singh 4/52 (10) 
List A debut: Shubham Singh 

Game 2: Goa 266/8 (50) beat Jharkhand 224/10 (48.1) by 42 runs 
Key Performers: Rahul Shukla 6/33 (10) 

Game 3: Jharkhand 258/5 (36) beat Kerala 253/10 (36) by 5 runs. Match reduced to 36 overs each. 
Key Performers: Kumar Deobrat 54, Anukul Roy 31 & 4/31 (7), Utkarsh Singh 4/38 (8) 
List A Debut: Vivekanand Tiwari 

Game 4: Hyderabad 192/7 (34) lost to Jharkhand 193/4 (33.4)) by 6 wickets. Match reduced to 34 overs each. 
Key Performers: Kumar Deobrat 56, Saurabh Tiwary 61* 

Game 5: Jharkhand 259/10 (48.4) beat Saurashtra 129/10 (37.4) by 130 runs 
Key Performers: Utkarsh Singh 100 & 4/34 (10), Virat Singh 52*, Vivekanand Tiwari 3/17 (5) 

Game 6: Jharkhand 119/10 (29) lost to Chhattisgarh 123/3 (28.3) by 7 wickets. Match reduced to 31 overs each. 

Game 7: Andhra 265/6 (50) lost to Jharkhand 266/7 (49.4) by 3 wickets 
Key Performers: Virat Singh 74*, Saurabh Tiwary 56 

Game 8: Mumbai 358/3 (50) beat Jharkhand 319/10 (46.4) by 39 runs 
Key Performers: Virat Singh 100, Saurabh Tiwary 77. 
Mumbai’s Yashasvi Jaiswal became the youngest player to score a double century in List A cricket, and this was his 3rd century in just his 5th game! Certainly one to watch out for! 

Season Stats: 
Standing: 5th in Group A with 16 points from 8 games & 8th across Groups A & B. 
Highest Scorers 
  1. Virat Singh – 335 @83.75, 1 Century & 2 50s 
  2. Saurabh Tiwary – 328 @ 54.67, 3 50s 
  3. Ishan Kishan – 204 @25.50 
Most Wickets 
  1. Rahul Shukla – 15 @22.53, 1 6-for 
  2. Vivekanand Tiwari – 8 @21.63 
  3. Anukul Roy – 8 @30.63 
Highest Score: Virat Singh – 100 vs Mumbai, Utkarsh Singh 100 vs Saurashtra 
Best Bowling: Rahul Shukla – 6/33 vs Goa 
Players Used: 15 
List A Debutantes: 2 

Coming Up Next: Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy in December.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Vijay Hazare Trophy 19-20: Bihar Review

The 2019-20 season of the Vijay Hazare Trophy was a harsh turnaround for the Bihar team. After gaining a promotion from Group D the team had a cruel reality check as they lost all matches and were relegated back. The lack of experience clearly showed in the performances. Nothing much to highlight about in the tournament except Babul Kumar’s batting. Here is how the season progressed for the Ashutosh Aman led side.

Game 1: Railways 289/6 (50) beat Bihar 155/6 (43) by 84 runs (VJD)
Key Performers – Vivek Kumar 3/55 (9), Shasheem Rathour 86* 
List A Debut – Sachin Singh, Vivek Kumar, Kamlesh Kumar, Rohan Kumar

Game 2: Bihar 217/7 (50) lost to Tamil Nadu 218/3 (46.5) by 7 wickets
Key Performers: Babul Kumar 110, Sachin Singh 2/36 (8)
List A Debut: Kumar Aditya
Babul Kumar captained the side in the absence of Ashutosh Aman

Game 3: Bihar 137/10 (40.4) lost to Madhya Pradesh 138/3 (27.4) by 7 wickets
List A Debut: Nikku Singh

Game 4: Bihar 126/10 (42.4) lost to Gujarat 128/3 (19.1) by 7 wickets

Game 5: Jammu & Kashmir 326/6 (50) beat Bihar 128/4 (30.2) by 65 runs (VJD)
List A Debut: Utkarsh Bhaskar, Shivam Kumar, S Gani

Game 6: Bihar 216/7 (50) lost to Bengal 217/1 (40.2) by 9 wickets
Key Performers: Babul Kumar 93, Rahmatullah 53
List A Debut: Sashi Sekhar, Vipul Krishna

Game 7: Rajasthan 268/5 (50) beat Bihar 109/10 (36.3) by 159 runs
Key Performers: Sarfaraz Ashraf 3/34 (10)
List A Debut: Chiranajivi Kumar

Game 8: Bihar 267/7 (50) lost to Services 269/5 (48.4) by 5 wickets
Key Performers: Babul Kumar 66, Shasheem Rathour 71, Rahmatullah 63
Babul Kumar led the side.

Game 9: Bihar 251/10 (49.5) lost to Tripura 253/3 (43.4) by 7 wickets
Key Performers: Shasheem Rathour 76, Babul Kumar 52
List A Debut: Vikash Yadav

Standing: Bihar finished bottom of the Table with zero points from 9 games.

Season Stats: 
Highest Scorers
  1. Babul Kumar – 391 @55.86, 1 century & 3 50s
  2. Shasheem Rathour – 296 @37.00, 3 50s 
  3. Rahmatullah – 265 @29.44, 2 50s
Most Wickets
  1. Shivam Kumar – 6 @29.50
  2. Vivek Kumar – 6 @39.00
  3. Ashutosh Aman – 5 @58.40
Highest Score: Babul Kumar – 110 vs Tamil Nadu
Best Bowling: Sarfaraz Ashraf 3/34 vs Rajasthan
Players Used: 21
List A Debutantes: 13

Coming Up Next: Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy

Thursday, July 25, 2019

World Cup 2019: Endgame

14th July 2019, Lords 

To borrow from Dickens - It was the best of times (for some), it was the worst of time (for others). 

It was also sport at its cruelest!

There was the jubilant English squad with members incorporated from across the cricket playing world. And on the other side was New Zealand, led by Kane Williamson, who could still smile despite the apparent (to the rest of the world) injustice of it all! 

The neutral cricket viewer was sad. The greatest game of ODI cricket ever played (move over Edgbaston 1999) had resulted in not one but two ties. And yet we had to somehow contrive a winner because there was only one trophy. And what a weird way to find a winner, boundary count (where 4s & 6s are counted as equal!). Couldn’t they have at least let both captains pose with the trophy together? 

Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties. And like all sport its always a matter of the finest margins. There were so many “What Ifs”. What if Trent Boult had not stepped back or just dropped that catch? What if Martin Guptill’s throw from the boundary was not so perfect? What If Kumara Dharmasena had interpreted the overthrows differently. So many ifs & buts. Come to think of it, the same Trent Boult had caught Carlos Brathwaite’s final heave at the boundary, and the very same Martin Guptill had produced a magical throw to run-out Dhoni in the semi-finals. You win some, you lose some, but it still doesn’t make the result feel right. 

The neutral cricket viewers were sad. There was a sense of injustice. Yes, it was all within the rules and those rules had been around for a long time but still. The sadness and injustice of it all was exacerbated by the complete calmness of Kane Williamson! 

And a final word for England. Congratulations on being crowned the Men’s ODI World Champions. What a remarkable turnaround for a team which did not even make it to the Quarter-finals last time around. 

Now for a truly Arbit Stat (#70): England have become the first ever chasing team to win the game inspite of being bowled out. 

And a final word for Jofra Archer’s twitter account – The man had a tweet for all remarkable events taking place in this World Cup! 

And thus, comes to an end the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup. A remarkable tournament with a stupendous finish to be also remembered for a bit of rain, bails not coming off, Pakistan’s 1992 comparisons, and also some decent cricket with the best games having 230-250 targets! What a throwback to 1990s!

For me, after many years did an India exit hurt so much. We were close, but the semi-final swung away in a few overs, then there was hope which was finally dashed! It just did not feel good!

Till next time!

Friday, July 12, 2019

World Cup 2019: India vs New Zealand at a glance

न्यूजीलैंड से भारत का हारना

क्रिकेट अनिश्चितता का खेल है। किसी मैच मे कोई शतक ,दोहरा शतक तो अगले ही मैच मे शुन्य पर आउट हो जाता है। बालर एक मैच मे बहुत कम रन देकर पांच-छः विकेट लेता है पर दुसरे ही मैच मे बिना विकेट लिए काफी रन दे देता है। कभी कोई फिल्डर नामूमकिन कैच पकड़ लेता है तो कभी आसान सा कैच भी ड्राप कर देता है। इनसब का मतलव यह नही कि क्रिकेट का खेल बिल्कुल ही भगवान् भरोसे है। इसमें भी भारी तकनीक है, काफी वैरीयेवलस है जिसे समझने के लिए एक दशकों कड़ी मेहनत और दिमाग लगाना पड़ता है। गवासकर, कपिलदेव, तेंदुलकर, गांगुली, बेदी, प्रसन्ना, चंद्रशेखर, धोनी .....का नाम ऐसे ही नही है। पर एक चुक हूई और आप गए। 

इसमे मौसम का भी बड़ा रोल है। मौसम शुष्क है आद्र है।हवा तेज है धीमा है। एक बार किसी चेन्नई मे हो रहे टेस्ट मैच मे वेंकटराघवन बालिंग कर रहे थे उन्हें सफलता नही मिल रहा था । कुछ देर बाद उन्हें दूसरे तरफ से लगाया गया तो सभलता मिलने लगी। बाद मे जानकारी आयी पहले छोर से हवा का रूख बाधक था जबकि बही दूसरे छोर से सहायक हो गया। कोई बालर आद्र मे तो कोई शुष्क मे ,कोई नयी बाल मे तो कोई पुरानी बाल या सफल होता है।

एक कैप्टन को और टीम को सभी बातों का ख्याल रखना होता है। एक सुझ आपको मैच जिता देगी एक चुक मैच हरा देती है।

न्यूजीलैंड के साथ हो रहा मैच मे पहला दिन वर्षा नही होता और मैच उसी दिन समाप्त होता तो भारत की जीत होती।पर वर्षा हुआ ,मैच दूसरा दिन वहीं से शुरू हुआ ।न्यूजीलैंड के दो तीन विकेट धड़ाधड़ गिरे भारत को होशियार हो जाना चाहिए था। पर हो गई चुक ।विकट गिरने लगे।नामी लोग पवेलियन लौट गये।

जब पहला विकेट रोहित का गिरा था तो मौसम को देखते हुए विराट को मैदान पर जाना एक चुक था , वाचमैन के रुप मे पांड्या को भेजना अच्छा होता ,कुछ देर टिकता तो रन भी बनता और मौसम मे भी सुधार होता। पांड्या अच्छा खेला पर दबाव मे आ गया।मारने के चक्कर मे विकेट गंवा दिया।अनुभव की कमी के कारण ऐसा हुआ। जाडेजा अच्छा खेला।तारीफ करनी होगी। धोनी को कुछ पहले तजी लानी चहीये था।दूसरे रन का रिस्क घातक हुआ।

दूसरे सेमीफाइनल मे उम्मीद के मुताबिक ही इंगलैंड की जीत हुई। इंगलैण्ड एक मजबूत टीम है और फाइनल मे भी इंगलैण्ड के जितने की प्रबल संभावना है।

Monday, July 8, 2019

World Cup 2019: The Slog Overs

Finally, the long winding league phase comes to an end. And surprise, surprise we have our 4 semi-finalists revealed to us – India, Australia, England and New Zealand! A list which had been predicted within the first fortnight itself! But that is not to say that the dead rubbers were meaningless. The very last game changed the order of the semi-finals leading to change in many travel plans!

Sporting outcomes depend on very fine margins. If that shot from Carlos Brathwaite had reached its intended destination, New Zealand would have been out of the World Cup and Pakistan would have qualified! In the end New Zealand’s campaign faltered badly but they had enough initial momentum to nudge ahead of Pakistan. 

Pakistan’s campaign showcased their one quality – unpredictability. Or, in simple terms basically being Pakistan throughout! Everyday their supporters found new similarities with the 1992 campaign. They even supported other teams including India and New Zealand, while their own kept stumbling through. Finally ran into an impossible task with the Net Run Rates where their heavy defeats and narrow wins came back to haunt them. And then, finally the 1992 comparisons stopped!

But this is cricket fandom. So we move on to the next set of analogies. In the 2008 U19 World Cup, India beat New Zealand by 3 wickets in the semi-finals. The captains on the day – Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson. The same duo who will step on the field for the toss on July 9th.

South Africa, for the first time ended a World Cup campaign on a winning note, beating Australia and changing the semi-final lineups also. They have had two ties as well, and some rain involved. Maybe this is the luck they needed to turn around their future campaigns.

England’s stumble against Sri Lanka was the result which made the league phase interesting. But Sri Lanka couldn’t use that platform while England returned to their merry ways. Meanwhile, England reached semi-finals in 1992!

West Indies started with a win, ended with a win and had nothing else to show in between! Except that the signs of revival are very much there. Sheldon Cottrell has developed his own fan following with the Salute though!

Shakib-al Hassan had a sensational tournament. And in my opinion should be the Player of the World Cup. Bangladesh certainly are no pushovers. It has taken them (a lot of) time but they have arrived on the big stage. And it is the inspiration for all other newcomers and Associates.

Afghanistan were the fan favorite. Everyone would have liked to see them win a game or two. However, no one wanted to see them beat their own team though. However, the Afghan fairytale has hit a rough patch. Player indiscipline, administrative problems and fan trouble. Hope these are sorted out soon.

Australia are becoming the imposing machine again, but the ruthlessness is yet to fully come back. Wouldn’t have expected Australians of Waugh-Ponting-Clarke era to lose the last game!

And finally, India. After the weirdo game against England, easily dispatched Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Rohit Sharma has got 5 centuries in this edition with potentially two more innings to go. And yet still generates lot of social media hate, especially from the so-called fans who still do not realize that the red-ball and white-ball are two different ballgames entirely! Well, can’t do much about it.

We bid farewell to Chris Gayle, Shoaib Malik, Imran Tahir, JP Duminy and Ian Gould– in different forms. However, Ian Gould is the only one who has actually done his last game. Others might still be seen in different T20 leagues or even internationals!

So India vs New Zealand & England vs Australia. Let the Endgame commence!

Monday, July 1, 2019

World Cup 2019: The Powerplay

We are approaching the business end of the World Cup. Some of the excitement created in the not so boring middle overs has fizzled out. The top teams have shown that they still mean business barring the odd hiccup on the way. The banana skins have been (mostly) avoided by the big guns. Sri Lanka and West Indies dropped out of contention from the semi-finals with results not going their way, while the hopes of Pakistan and Bangladesh hangs in balance. 

We had India taking on England, a mouth-watering top of the table clash with an added zing of an India win keeping alive the hopes of sub-continental arch-rivals Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka! Even the Pakistanis were rooting for us. Adding to the excitement was India’s first ever appearance in orange & navy blue (a truly weird color combination IMO). Alas it was not meant to be, and the last overs left a bitter taste. The Indian team approach was baffling to say the least. England were undoubtedly the better side on the day, but there was something wrong with the Indian team. 

The Pakistan-Afghanistan match showcased all the wrongs of the sport. The game itself was close but middling affair. But it was marred by political slogans flown over the ground, fist-fights between the two sets of supporters and shambolic fracas in the ground. Terrible day for cricket. 

Meanwhile, the Aussie juggernaut rolls on like a well-oiled machine. All the parts now seem to be in place and they are just razing over all opposition. Plus, they have the experience and legacy of multiple victorious campaigns with them. 

Unlike South Africa, who just have the legacy of multiple bad endings. Now, that they are out of running, they played their best cricket and derailed Sri Lanka’s campaign as well! 

New Zealand are suddenly not looking so good with back-to-back losses. Let’s see where they end up. Most likely losing semi-finalists as is their tradition!

Pakistan’s campaign seems to find a new analogous data point with their 1992 run daily. Let’s see how long the similarities run! 

The race for the Top4 reaches its final bend – Australia are through, New Zealand and India are nearly there, while England are marginally ahead of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Most importantly, Bangladesh and Pakistan face-off against each other in their last game. 

Joke of the week - the worst possible team combination – Kiwi openers, Indian middle order, West Indies spinners, Sri Lankan pace attack (minus Malinga), Pakistani fielding with South African choking talent. What a wonderful opponent that would be!

Monday, June 24, 2019

World Cup 2019: The “Not Boring" Middle Overs

Once upon a time, not too long ago, ODI cricket was stagnating. At least the ICC thought so. Especially the so called “boring” middle overs. So, ICC kept tinkering with the format for years. Extra powerplay, mandatory ball changes, powerplay at the time of choosing, two balls, field restrictions changes etc. They also came up with T20 which did away with these “boring” middle overs altogether!

So here we are in the middle of the league stage. And this one has certainly not been boring. The rain has stayed away (mostly), there have been close games (a bunch of them) and even an upset! Another game could have gone in a different direction altogether if the last shot had been hit a fraction of a second later or before or with just a little more power. And in the most shocking turn of events, the bails have started falling off, when earlier they had stubbornly stayed put!

Afghanistan & South Africa are the first two teams to be knocked out of the competition. It’s been a disappointing run for both. Being out of contention they can turn up and play spoilsport for the others in the race for the Top 4.

India nearly got a shock against Afghanistan. New Zealand were almost stunned by West Indies. Bangladesh made a hearty chase of Australia’s 383. And England find themselves with the task having to win against the Top 3 after being tripped up by Malinga and company. 

Meanwhile Pakistan are playing in a different World Cup altogether. It seems that there are two different Pakistani teams which turn up for the game. Depending on which side has turned up the results can be (a) hammering England/ South Africa, or (b) getting thumped by India/West Indies. They do not even need a personnel change. But we never know which version has turned up till the game ends.

Race for Top 4: Getting slightly heated up with England losing to Sri Lanka. Australia, New Zealand and India should make it through. While England have to face all three in their remaining games. Sri Lanka & Pakistan are still with a good chance while Bangladesh & West Indies must wait for permutations and combinations to come up in their favour. If only, Carlos Brathwaite had managed to hit that six, the table would have been even more interesting!

The “middle overs” have certainly not been a boring one!

Monday, June 17, 2019

World Cup 2019: Warming Up

The league phase of the World Cup is well and truly underway with a few marquee matches done and dusted. After the opening salvos, the teams are gradually getting into their grooves and a clearer picture of the likely Top 4 is emerging. It is still early days, but we have had many permutations & combinations thrown haywire not on account of any surprise results but with the rain pouring down! Here are the highlights.

Player of the tournament – On current form, it is the English weather which has played a major part in turning the points table topsy-turvy. West Indies & Bangladesh would certainly feel robbed of a point each against South Africa & Sri Lanka respectively. Sri Lanka meanwhile have clambered to 5th spot based on two rained-off encounters! Also rain put in a dampener at the end of the India-Pakistan clash but didn’t do enough as the teams were forced to take the field for five more overs!

7-Nil: India-Pakistan was the marquee match of the tournament, with some over-zealous reporters hyping it up further on account of recent tensions between the countries. But the gulf in class between the teams is just too wide as India extended their dominance over Pakistan in the World Cups! There is more hype than substance in the rivalry now as it was another emphatic win for India.

Something is rotten - After South Africa, it was now Afghanistan’s turn for some team chaos. Mohammed Shahzad was declared unfit and replaced. However, he claims otherwise and now wishes to quit the game altogether. The first signs of tensions in the Afghan fairytale!

The injured brigade – The list keeps going bigger and bigger with every passing game. Some players replaced (Steyn, Shahzad), others have their replacements in place but are not officially out yet (Dhawan, Stoinis).

The Complaints - Sri Lanka have been in a complaining mode, about accommodation, pitches, facilities etc. They have even missed a press conference and yet not one word against their own misfiring squad.

The Mirror Images - Bangladesh & West Indies have a similar story – Started with sensational wins, then close losses, abandoned games and suddenly both find themselves close to the exit. And they face off aginst each other today.

The Likely Top4 - On current form, India, England, Australia & New Zealand look set to make the Top 4. There still is some way to go though. Nobody expected it - but somehow Australia are sitting at the top of the points table - thanks to a combination of weird scheduling and rains!

We as fans need close matches. Otherwise it is going to be a long boring league stage. Get in more teams and break them into groups, have another knock-out round as well, that will add some fun! But when does ICC listen!

Hoping for some exciting games as we enter the middle stages with teams jostling for positions!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

World Cup 2019: Opening Salvos

Finally, everyone has got a game in the World Cup. Even India! Fans were worried for a while that Team India might not have been a part of tournament. But worry not we are still there! 

So what can we take away from the opening salvos of the tournament? 
  • India let everyone have a go before turning up and showing they are in the game. For the first time in history, have a more exciting bowling option than the batting ones. 
  • New Zealand have been resilient and winning. They are still very likable but also getting a tad boring. 
  • Pakistan have shown they are the unpredictable (how predictable is that statement). Blown away against the West Indies and then smashing almost 350 against England 
  • England have settled on the formula that they perfected over the last 4 years. Keep smashing the ball. Strong batting with a not so strong bowling. Can deliver most games but you can’t account for the maverick factor, that is Pakistan. 
  • Afghanistan have fighting spirit but it doesn’t seem to last for longer periods. 
  • Sri Lanka were smashed one day and got lucky the next to hang in there. 
  • Bangladesh are a much improved ODI side and with some luck could have been the first to 2 wins. 
  • West Indies have a fast bowling arsenal and capable batsman and a surprisingly united team. Can be the surprise element of the tournament. 
  • Australia clinically dispatched Afghanistan. The Warner-Smith reintegration seems to be working. 
  • South Africa is the one definitely in trouble, having lost all 3 games and ravaged by injuries. And have an off-field headache in form of news that AB de Villiers had made himself available for selection for the World Cup just a day before the final squad selection. An offer rejected by the team management (IMHO a very reasonable stand by the management. Also diluting AB’s stature in the game). 
Good to see the variety of pitches on offer for the tournament. The fears that the English pitches would produce bat-a-thons have been unfounded so far. But its still early days and a long way to go for everyone. 

Interestingly, saw Duckworth-Lewis return a lower target score for the first time in the Afghanistan- Sri Lanka game. It’s a different matter that Afghanistan couldn’t make most of this generosity. 

For the highlights reel 
  • Prince Harry declaring the Mens ODI World Cup open. Just a matter of an extra word there but with huge implications for the game. 
  • Ben Stokes catching Andile Phelukwayo 
  • 3 Sri Lankans diving over a well-defended ball as Afghanistan get a boundary. 
Interesting first week, just enough to whet the appetite but lots still to go.