Thursday, January 17, 2019

2018-19 Ranji Trophy: Bihar Review

On their return to first-class cricket, Bihar had a decent outing finishing 2nd in the group. However, their fate was effectively sealed in the first game itself against Uttarakhand, or to be more precise when they were shot out for 60 in the very first innings. There were more early jitters as the game against Puducherry was washed out, leaving them with a mountain to climb. This proved to be too big an ask for Bihar as they finished 4 points of adrift of Group winners Uttarakhand and missed a knock-out berth. 

Ashutosh Aman was the stand-out performer with 68 wickets at an average of 6.49. He broke Bishan Singh Bedi’s record for most wickets in a single Ranji season. Picked up nine 5-wicket hauls and five 10-wicket match hauls in just 8 games, including one wash-out. And also scored a century to finish the season with a batting average of 48+. Rewarded with captaincy by the time the season ended. 

Samar Quadri had a good season after shifting to Bihar from Jharkhand ably supporting Ashutosh Aman with 35 wickets. 

Bihar lost captain Pragyan Ojha due to injury quite early in the season and had Babul Kumar and Ashutosh Aman leading the side as the season progressed. 

Round 1: Bihar (60 & 169) lost to Uttarakhand (227 & 4/0) by 10 wickets: Bihar 0 Points. Effectively the game which decided the group topper. 
First Class Debut: Vikash Ranjan, Kumar Rajnish, Vivek Mohan, MD Rahmatullah, Ashutosh Aman, Anunay Singh, Himanshu Hari 

Round 2: Bihar had a break 

Round 3: Bihar vs Puducherry: Abandoned after toss: Bihar 1 Point 
First Class Debut: Harsh Singh, Indrajit Kumar, Vishal Das, Vivek Kumar 

Round 4: Bihar (288 & 296/7d) beat Sikkim (81 & 108) by 395 runs: Bihar 6 Points. 
First Class Debut: Utkarsh Bhaskar 
Player of the Match: Ashutosh Aman 
Highlights: Ashutosh Aman (89 in 1st, 5/19 & 5/22), Samar Quadri (5/32 in 2nd) 

Round 5: Arunachal Pradesh (84 & 135) lost to Bihar (536/5d) by an innings & 317 runs: Bihar 7 Points. 
First Class Debut: Rehan Khan 
Player of the Match: Indrajit Kumar 
Highlights: Indrajit Kumar (222), Ashutosh Aman (4/26 & 7/14) 

Round 6: Meghalaya (125 & 46) lost to Bihar (242) by an innings & 71 runs: Bihar 7 Points. 
Player of the Match: Ashutosh Aman 
Highlights: Ashutosh Aman (8/51 & 6/17) 

Round 7: Bihar (150 & 2504/8d) beat Nagaland (209 & 173) by 273 runs: Bihar 6 Points. 
First Class Debut: Mangal Mahrour 
Player of the Match: Ashutosh Aman 
Highlights: Ashutosh Aman (7/47 & 5/49), Mangal Mahrour (177 in 2nd), Rahmatullah (107 in 2nd) 

Round 8: Bihar (440/97d) beat Mizoram (77 & 147) by innings & 216 runs: Bihar 7 Points. 
First Class Debut: Anshuman Gautam, Abhijeet Saket 
Player of the Match: Ashutosh Aman 
Highlights: Ashutosh Aman (111, 1/20 & 5/28), Vivek Kumar (102) Samar Quadri (6/19 & 4/50) 

Round 9: Manipur (156 & 238) lost to Bihar (257 & 140/7) by 3 wickets: Bihar 6 Points. 
First Class Debut: Aditya Kumar, Kundan Gupta 
Player of the Match: Indrajit Kumar 
Highlights: Ashutosh Aman (4/39 & 7/71), Samar Quadri (5/49 & 3/93) 

Season Stats 
Top Scorers: 
  1. MD Rahmatullah – 375 @34.09
  2.  Ashutosh Aman – 337 @48.14 
  3. Indrajit Kumar– 307 @43.86 
Highest Score – Indrajit Kumar 222 vs Arunachal Pradesh

Most Wickets 
  1. Ashutosh Aman – 68 @6.49 
  2. Samar Quadri– 35@15.54
  3. Vivek Kumar– 15@26.20 
Best Bowling – Ashutosh Aman – 8/51 vs Meghalaya 

Player Count: 23
Debutantes: 18
Captain Count: 3 , Pragyan Ojha, Babul Kumar, Ashutosh Aman

Coming Up Next: Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

2018-19 Ranji Trophy: Jharkhand Review

It was a season where Jharkhand can look back and feel they were hard done by Tripura. Firstly, Tripura batted out 1 session and then frustrated Jharkhand by bowling only 22 overs in two and a half hours of play. Resulted in 3 points instead of 6 for Jharkhand who finished 3rd in the group just a single point behind 2nd placed Uttar Pradesh and miss out on a knock-out berth.

Jharkhand should look back with pride at their performance in this season. In 9 games they got 5 outright wins including one with bonus point, 3 with first-innings lead and one loss to Rajasthan. And all this was achieved with two of their first-choice players missing out on many games. Ishan Kishan on India A duty, while Shahbaz Nadeem got a maiden India call-up (although he did not get a game). 
  • Varun Aaron continued his rise back in the ranks. Looking back that IPL snub seems to have done him a world of good, with that county stint and Deodhar Trophy selection, he continued his return to form with 2 fifers and now has been rewarded with an IPL recall. 
  • Saurabh Tiwary got 2 centuries but not much else as he produced another 500 run season. But both 100s won the games for his team. 
  • Anukul Roy was the stand-out performer with his all-round shows. The debutante finished with 30 wickets and 374 runs performing a few lower-order rescues. One to watch out for the future. 
  • For Kumar Deobrat, this was a sort of coming of age season, as he lead the batting charts and got his maiden first-class century!
Round 1: Jharkhand (344 & 230/4d) drew with Assam (298 & 139/2); Jharkhand 3 Points 
First Class Debut: Anukul Roy 
Player of the Match: Ashish Kumar 
Highlights: Ishan Kishan (120 in 2nd), Ashish Kumar (5/32 in 1st) 

Round 2: Haryana (81 & 72) lost to Jharkhand (143 & 12/1) by 9 wickets; Jharkhand 6 Points, missed opportunity for bonus point. 
Player of the Match: Ajay Yadav 
Highlights: Varun Aaron (6/32 in 2nd) 

Round 3: Rajasthan (100 & 379) beat Jharkhand (152 & 235) by 92 runs: Jharkhand 0 Points 
First Class Debut: Alok Sharma 
Highlights: Varun Aaron (5/22 in 1st) 

Round 4: Goa (364 & 131) lost to Jharkhand (390 & 108/3) by 7 wickets; Jharkhand 6 Points 
First Class Debut: Rahul Prasad 
Player of the Match: Anukul Roy 
Highlights: Anukul Roy (127 in 1st), Rahul Prasad (6/45 in 2nd) 

Round 5: Jharkhand (172 & 288) beat Odisha (201 & 257) by 2 runs; Jharkhand 6 Points 
Highlights: Saurabh Tiwary (132* in 2nd) 

Round 6: Jharkhand (354 & 213/5d) drew with Uttar Pradesh (243 & 174/1); Jharkhand 3 Points 
Player of the Match: Rahul Shukla 
Highlights: Shahbaz Nadeem (109 in 1st), Rahul Shukla (5/65 in 1st) 

Round 7: Jharkhand (193 & 343) beat Services (267 & 188) by 81 runs; Jharkhand 6 Points 
Player of the Match: Utkarsh Singh 
Highlights: Utkarsh Singh (114 in 2nd), Shahbaz Nadeem (7/62 in 2nd) 

Round 8: Tripura (253 & 308) drew with Jharkhand (409 & 144/7); Jharkhand 3 Points. Jharkhand just fell short by 9 runs while Tripura bowled only 22 overs in two and a half hours of play in the final session! 
Player of the Match: Kumar Deobrat 

Highlights: Kumar Deobrat (140 in 1st), Nazim Siddiqui (134 in 1st) 
Round 9: Jammu & Kashmir (151 & 120) lost to Jharkhand (319/9d) by an innings & 48 runs; Jharkhand 7 Points 
Player of the Match: Saurabh Tiwary 
Highlights: Ajay Yadav (5/16 in 1st), Saurabh Tiwary (134 in 1st) 

Season Stats 
Top Scorers: 
  1. Kumar Deobrat – 631 @57.36 
  2. Saurabh Tiwary – 536 @41.23 
  3. Ishank Jaggi – 506 @33.73 
Highest Score – Kumar Deobrat 140 vs Tripura 

Most Wickets 
  1. Anukul Roy – 30 @22.70 
  2. Varun Aaron – 25 @23.68 
  3. Rahul Shukla – 23 @21.35 
Best Bowling – Shahbaz Nadeem – 7/62 vs Services 

Player Count: 17 
Debutantes: 3 
Captain Count: 2, Ishan Kishan & Nazim Siddiqui (when Ishan was on India A duty) 

Coming Up Next: Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Final Frontier

7th January, 2019: Sydney –a rained out day and not a ball bowled. Yet, it would go down as a red letter day in the annals of Indian cricket. India had finally conquered Australia, the first ever Asian team to do so. It has taken 71 years of toil but we finally did it. 

Yes, this was the weakest Australian team that I can recall. But it still had a world-class bowling attack which needed a special blunting down by Pujara. And for their batting lineup, missing Warner & Smith, while not a single one of them would walk in to any of the other Test teams, they were a collective pest, scoring 20s & 30s, stitching together little partnerships down to the No. 11. Yet, we did beat them in their own backyard. Something none of the Indian (or Pakstani or Sri Lankan or Bangladeshi) teams had ever done. 

Our fast bowlers outgunned their counterparts, our batsmen were better at survival and blunting attacks and our wicket-keeper gave it back as good as he got on the sledging front. A 2-1 victory doesn’t really reflect the gulf between the two teams, thanks to the washed out last day in Sydney. 

While I do not believe in Ravi Shastri’s hyperbole about this being bigger than 1983 or 201, it certainly is special. After all every India fan carries mental scars of multiple maulings received in Australia over the years. Personally, I recall horror details from the many tours of Australia. 
  • 1991-92 – when we were thrashed 4-Nil with a Ravi Shastri double century, which included walloping of the debutante Shane Warne, in Sydney nearly winning us the game. Then there was Sachin Tendulkar’s coming of the age kind 100 at Perth. But we were smashed in every other game. 
  • 1999-2000 – A 3-nil thrashing, which was the actual prediction of the Mr. Niranjan Shah, the then BCCI secretary. The highlight of the series was a VVS Laxman 167. It didn’t affect the result in one bit but it was the first sign of the torment that VVS would unleash on the Aussies. This became part of the 16-game winning streak for Australia, which ended in Eden Gardens at the bats of Laxman and Dravid. The tide had started to turn. 
  • 2003-04 - we won in Adelaide, squandered a start in Melbourne and just could not close it out in Sydney. A 1-1 draw was certainly not a fair reflection of the series. But we had tasted a Test victory in Australia and it only served to whet the appetite further. Now we wanted a series victory. 
  • 2007-08 – Lost 2-1 after not being able to hold on for a few more minutes in the bad tempered, “monkeygate” scandalized Sydney Test, but outgunned Australia in Perth. The series may have been lost, but we took solace in Captain Kumble’s famous declaration – “Only one team was playing cricket” and we could keep replaying videos of Ishant Sharma making Ponting hop around. 
  • 2011-12 – 4-nil smashing as this proved to be one tour too many for the golden generation of Indian batting. Dravid & Laxman retired and we wondered if we could ever win another Test in the country, let alone a series. There was a little matter of a certain Virat Kohli getting a maiden Test hundred. 
  • 2014-15 – A 2-nil loss with two draws. Another era ended for Indian Team as Dhoni retired from Tests and Kohli took over and hammered centuries at will. There was a different approach which shunned safety first for a crack at chasing a 4th innings target of 360 odd on the final day. We still lost. (nothing new about that) 
With this perspective, a series victory in Australia is special. How many days we have woken up on cold wintry mornings to check the score, only to see a position of relative strength at stumps on the previous day having been brutally taken away. A collapse triggered at the hands of a McDermott, Reid, McGrath, Lee, Gillespie, Johnson, Starc or a quickfire knock from the likes of Boon, Slater, Ponting, Hayden, Clarke, Gilchrist or being blocked out of the game by a Geoff Marsh, Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor, Healy. Many times our tail was simple blasted out while their tail wagged all day (this still happens!) and sometimes we ran into the likes of Steve Bucknor! And having to listen to the gloating & condescending Aussie commentary as well. 

Life certainly hasn't been easy Down Under. And that’s why this win is such a momentous one. 

Australia isn’t really the Final Frontier. South Africa awaits (I know, we have two more frontiers popping up – Ireland and Afghanistan). But winning a Test series in Australia certainly does feel like having conquered the Final Frontier!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Twenty18 Lineup

The calendar changes to 2019 and we have Jimmy Neesham & Cheteshwar Pujara starting the cricketing year in contrasting yet effective styles. Before the year runs away any further, time to look back and present the 2018’s Slipstream XI – a collection of interesting & not-so-interesting events to remember the cricketing year 2018 by. 

0. Let’s begin at the beginning. 
All these years we were sending a coin up in the air for the all-important task of finding who bats first. But the smart fellows at the Big bash League decided that sending a coin up in the air doesn’t seem exciting, so let’s throw a specially designed bat! Which lead to an amusing incident where the bat landed on its side!!! 

1. Debutante(s) of the Year 
Ireland & Afghanistan became the 11th & 12th Test playing nations respectively. While Ireland ran Pakistan close, Afghanistan were overwhelmed by India. Meanwhile Nepal made their ODI debut with a narrow win against Netherlands. It was reported in Nepalese newspaper as “Nepal hammer Netherlands by one run”. 2019 is going to be a bumper debut season as all Associates get international status for T20s.

2. Sandpaper Gate 
Cameron Bancroft was caught with his hand in his pants as he tried to hide away the bit of sandpaper used to rough up the ball. Ball tampering is a taboo and usually leads to a temporary suspension of the guilty party. But this one snowballed into a major crisis for Australian cricket leading to extended bans for Bancroft, Captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner and departures for Coach Lehmann and CA chief Sutherland. Heads continued to roll and Australian cricketing culture itself was called into question, while the rest of the cricketing world watched in glee!

3. Cricketing Jargon of the Year 
The culture review of Australian cricket brought in a new terminology - Elite Honesty. Now you could not just play hard and fair, but you also had to show “Elite Honesty” at all times (:O). However, giving it close competition was SENA (short for South Africa, England, New Zealand, Australia). Cricketers, especially from the sub-continent, now had their career numbers judged with their performance in SENA regions. Only a favorable comparison here would ensure a place in the pantheon of greats! 

4. Technological improvement of the Year - Stump Mics 
Stump microphones were turned up mainly to catch the faintest of the snicks on the snickometer, but it became a more useful tool for catching the discusssions/ banter/ sledging going on in the field. Special mention here of Tim Paine and Rishabh Pant’s talks (!). So amusing that often the actual commentators just kept quiet while these two were standing up to the stumps. 

5. Run-Out of the Year 
Azhar Ali added a new chapter in the glorious tradition of Pakistan cricket’s comical run-outs. The batsman hit the ball towards the boundary and then proceeded for a mid-pitch chat oblivious to the facts that (a) the ball never crossed the boundary, (b) the fielder had jogged down to retrieve the ball, (c) the keeper had rushed up to collect the throw and break the stumps & (d) the umpire had not made any signal. 

6. Retiring on a high 
A century in your last innings to go with a century on debut, and ending the year with a knighthood. What a way to go, Sir Alastair Cook! 

7. Battle of the Year 
The war against corruption continues as does the infighting for controlling the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI in short). Last year with the ODI World Cup, Women’s cricket had finally become cricket. This year it added its public controversy with the spat between Mithali Raj and coach Ramesh Powar, leading to the latter’s dismissal. Well, being in the limelight is great but should be for the right reasons! 

8. Finally getting its due 
The Ranji Trophy – India’s premier domestic first-class competition. There was a major expansion with NINE new teams added. India’s domestic competition now has 37 first-class teams. Well we also have 1.3 Billion people, so no big deal. But it was commentator Kerry O’Keefe’s on air jibe about its quality which lead to everyone singing paens in praise of the Ranji Trophy and how important a role it plays in establishing India’s dominance in world cricket! 

9. Scaling New Heights - Indian Pace Attack 
During the India-Australia series, an interesting graphic came up. India’s pace troika of Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami had collectively taken more wickets in an year than any other pace bowling trio. They broke the 34 year old record of Marshall, Holding & Garner. An Indian fast bowling trio being spoken in the same breath as these legends while outgunning home attacks. With Bhuvaneswar Kumar and Umesh Yadav as back-up, never before had we had so many fast bowling riches. 

10. The Sleeper Hit of the Year 
A tri-nation T20 series involving India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – who would be interested, especially after India rested most of the big guns. But the Nidahas Trophy proved to be an action packed entertainer. Bangladesh irritating the Sri Lankan home fans to such an extent with their Naagin Dance celebrations that they switched support to India! And then there was Dinesh Karthik belting the last ball for a six to win the final for India. 

11. The Sponsors! 
Was flipping through the sports channels, Star Network was showing the Burger King Super Smash while Sony had the KFC Big Bash on air! Junk food companies sponsoring elite sports events. Nothing new given that McDonalds sponsors the Olympics. And cricket has always been the less athletic of sports, which prioritizes Lunch, Tea and Drinks breaks even over the actual action at time. Case in point – lunch taken during an India-South Africa ODI when India needed 2 runs off 31 overs! 

12th Man – Free riding of the year 
Adil Rashid did not bat, did not bowl, did not take a catch and ended up on the winning side of a Test match. 

That was cricketing year 2018, lets see what 2019 has in store for us with a World Cup looming and new international teams coming up all over the globe. 

Wishing all cricket tragics a Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Ranji Trophy 18-19: Jharkhand vs Haryana

Match Summary: Haryana (81 & 72) lost to Jharkhand (143 & 12/1) by 9 wickets
Points: Jharkhand 6, Haryana 0

As the scorecard says it all, the game was played in Lahli, a ground known all over India for producing seaming wickets and low scores! And that’s what happened. Haryana won the toss & elected to bat but were knocked out for 81 by the Jharkhand seam attack of Ajay Yadav, Rahul Shukla & Varun Aaron. Anukul Roy once again top scored for Jharkhand and get a 61 run lead. Haryana were knocked over again in the second innings. Jharkhand missed a chance for a bonus point victory as they lost Ishan kishan’s wicket in the chase of 11.

  • Team Changes: In: Sumit Kumar, Rahul Shukla, Out: Kumar Deobrat, Ashish Kumar 
  • Ajay Yadav picked up the Player of the Match for his 7-wicket match haul
  • Varun Aaron took his 5th first-class 5-wicket haul with a career-best 6/32 in the second innings.
Season Stats:
  • Top Scorer: Ishan Kishan – 164 @ 41.00
  • Top Wicket-Taker: Varun Aaron – 9 @ 17.44
  • Player Count – 13
Points Tally: 9 from 2 games – currently at 3rd place.

Coming Up Next – Rajasthan who are the table toppers with 2 bonus point victories.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Ranji Trophy 18-19: Bihar vs Uttarakhand

Match Summary: Bihar (60 & 169) lost to Uttarakhand (227 & 4/0) by 10 wickets
Points: Bihar 0, Uttarakhand 7

A terrible return to first-class cricket for Bihar, getting knocked over for 60 in the first innings against the pace of Deepak Dhopola. Only some lower order resistance in the second ensured that Bihar avoided a follow-on. But Uttarakhand still got the bonus point victory in a game which finished within 5 sessions. Also dents the chances for qualifying given that Uttarakhand were expected to be the main rivals for the sole spot from this group.

  • Playing XI: Vikash Ranjan (wk), Kumar Rajnish, Babul Kumar, Vivek Mohan, Keshav Kumar, MD Rahmatullah, Ashutosh Aman, Pragyan Ojha (c), Samar Quadri, Anunay Singh, Himanshu Hari
  • First Class Debut: Vikash Ranjan, Kumar Rajnish, Vivek Mohan, MD Rahmatullah, Ashutosh Aman, Anunay Singh, Himanshu Hari
  • Ashutosh Aman’s 4-wicket haul in the first innings.
Season Stats:
  • Top Scorer: Samar Quadri – 41 @ 21.50 (who would have thought!)
  • Top Wicket-Taker: Ashutosh Aman – 4 @ 9.50
  • Player Count – 11
Points Tally: 0 from 1 game. Currently bottom of the group.

Coming Up Next – Puducherry who are going to play their 1st game of the season.

Ranji Trophy 18-19: Jharkhand vs Assam

Match Summary: Jharkhand (344 & 230/4d) drew with Assam (298 & 140/2)
Points: Jharkhand 3, Assam 1

A solid performance to start the season. Jharkhand were missing Shahbaz Nadeem, who has finally got his maiden national call-up. Ishank Jaggi was back in action after sorting out the yo-yo test issues. 

  • Playing XI: Kumar Deobrat, Nazim Siddiqui, Utkarsh Singh, Saurabh Tiwary, Ishank Jaggi, Ishan Kishan (c & wk), Anand Singh, Anukul Roy, Varun Aaron, Ashish Kumar, Ajay Yadav
  • First Class Debut: Anukul Roy
  • Ishan Kishan gets his 5th First-Class century, keeping him firmly in contention for the national keeping duties. 
  • Maiden First-class half-century for Utkarsh Singh
  • A fine all-round debut for Anukul Roy who top-scoring in the first innings & taking the team to a respectable score.
  • A maiden 5-wicket haul for Ashish Kumar which ensured Jharkhand got the lead and also secured him the Player of the Match Award.
Season Stats:
  • Top Scorer: Ishan Kishan – 138 @ 69.00
  • Top Wicket-Taker: Ashish Kumar – 5 @ 13.80
  • Player Count – 11
Points Tally: 3 from 1 game. Currently in 3rd place in the group.

Coming Up Next – Haryana who are 2nd in the group but also with 3 points.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

#DhoniDropped & the thankless job

MS Dhoni has been officially dropped from the Indian T20 team. For the first time ever, since his debut, Dhoni misses out on an international game because of being dropped, not rested, not injured, or in case of the longest format, simply retired. He has been dropped. Well, it was coming. A good IPL 2018 season could not cover the fact that Dhoni's power game was on the wane. He is still one of the best wicket-keepers around, but the batting has definitely been on the slide. So what next for Dhoni? No ODIs for quite some time now, and no limited overs domestic matches either. He doesn't play first-class cricket any longer. So turning up for Jharkhand in the Ranji Trophy is also ruled out. So can he play in Big Bash or other T20 leagues for game time? Will BCCI permit such a thing?

There will be hue and cry on the social media on this drastic step from the selectors. To be honest, when hasn't there been a hue and cry for selections? Being a selector is the most thankless job in the world. After all, in public opinion, the players not selected are often the best in the world. However, being an Indian selector must be an even more thankless job. We have the widest pool of players to choose from (37 first-class teams!). Then our teams are most in demand across the world. We move from one tour to another. And its not just the national team, even the A squad seems to be constant tour. And sometimes there is the Board's president XI or the B team also in action somewhere maybe in a different format! Right now we have India playing the West Indies in ODIs while Deodhar trophy is also underway. That's 4 Indian teams in action simultaneously!

Selectors have simultaneously picked up squads for T20 Internationals at home against West Indies, a T20 series away in Australia, Test series in Australia and "A" Tests against New Zealand! No wonder it is a full-time paid job now. But as usual selections have raised more than a fair share of questions.

How did we pick squads for Australian T20s when we still have West Indies T20 games pending? Given that for home ODIs, teams were first picked for 2 games and then the remaining three? 

Kedar Jadhav does a press conference to announce his fitness and cites lack of communication with the chief of selectors. He has played a Deodhar Trophy match to prove his fitness also. Next day he is added for the remaining matches as well!

Coming to the Test squad now, Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma & Parthiv Patel are back. Mayank Agarwal is dropped. Meanwhile Karun Nair is deported to the India A squad. The chief reason cited has been that players with past experience in Aussie conditions have been picked. Lets take it case by case
  • Vijay after being dropped opted to play for Essex in County cricket, and put together a string of good scores . So has got the runs. But is he now the lead opener or back-up to Rahul & Shaw?
  • Rohit Sharma is an ODI legend and a Test misfit. Should have been an automatic choice for the longer formats, but just hasn't got the runs in Tests to justify selection. And hasn't played any first-class cricket either.
  • Parthiv Patel is the back-up keeper. He was also the back-up keeper back in 2002, when an injury to Ajay Ratra got him his debut. He has kept in Australia and sledged Steve Waugh! SO has the experience. Can open also. But it is an intriguing selection
  • Mayank Agarwal forced his way after an almost 3,000 run domestic season. He still hasn't stopped scoring. But now finds himself out of favour without getting even a chance to fail?
  • Karun Nair's case gets curiouser and curiouser. He is dropped after being on the becnh for long time. Now is also not in the squad for the first India A Test against the Kiwis. Although he leads the team for the last two A Tests?  
And how do you prepare for Australia by playing a single 4-day game in New Zealand?

And that is why being a selector is the ultimate thankless job!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Vijay Hazare Trophy 18-19: Jharkhand Review

Jharkhand had a good run in the tournament, reaching the semi-finals on the back of an unbeated run and then being pipped by Delhi by 2 wickets in a close encounter. 

Ishan Kishan led the side. Interestingly last year’s key performer Ishank Jaggi was dropped for failing to turn up for yo-yo test! There was also some confusion on Dhoni’s participation. Meanwhile, Shanbaz Nadeem recorded world-record bowling figures of 8/10 in a List A game! And there was a controversial finish involving VJD method and bad light as well! 

Here is a short summary of Jharkhand’s run. 

Game 1: Jharkhand vs Haryana – Match Abandoned due to rain 

Game 2: Rajasthan 73/10 (28.3) lost to Jharkhand 76/3 (14.3) by 7 wickets. 
Key Performers: Shahbaz Nadeem 8/10 in 10 overs – Best ever Bowling Figures in List A Cricket! Anukul Roy 2/23. 

Game 3: Assam 221/9 (50) lost to Jharkhand 222/2 (31) by 8 wickets 
Key Performers: Ishan Kishan 139 (91), Anand Singh 58, Nadeem 3/47, Utkarsh Singh 2/29. 
Trivia: Assam had Romario Sharma playing for them! 

Game 4: Jharkhand 307/8 (50) beat Tamil Nadu 299/10 (49.5) by 8 runs 
Key Performers: Ishan Kishan 85, Anand Singh 52, Saurabh Tiwary 54, Anukul Roy 3/55, Monu Kumar 2/50 
Trivia: Shahrukh Khan plays for Tamil Nadu! 

Game 5: Jharkhand 221/8 (50) beat Jammu & Kashmir 148/10 (42.2) by 73 runs 
Key Performers: Anukul Roy 96* off 72 batting at No.8, Shahbaz Nadeem 5/17 

Game 6: Bengal 267/8 (50) lost to Jharkhand 264/9 (49) by 2 run (VJD Method) 
Key Performers: Varun Aaron 3/48, Anand Singh 118, Ishan Kishan 56 

Game 7: Jharkhand vs Tripura Abandoned due to rain 

Game 8: Gujarat 107/10 (25) lost to Jharkhand 108/5 (21.4) by 5 wickets. Match reduced to 25 overs each. 
Key Performers: Varun Aaron 3/21, Ishan Kishan 64 

Game 9: Jharkhand 290/10 (50) beat Services 265/10 (47.4) by 25 runs 
Key Performers: Kumar Deobrat 88, Anukul Roy 58 & 4/53, Varun Aaron 4/55 

Quarter-Finals: Maharashtra 181/10 (42.2) lost to Jharkhand 127/2 (32.2/34) by 8 wickets via VJD method 
Key Performers: Anukul Roy 4/32, Rahul Shukla 3/35, Shasheem Rathour 53* 

Semi-Finals: Jharkhand 199/10 (48.5) lost to Delhi 200/8 (49.4) by 2 wickets 
Key Performers: Virat Singh 71, Anand Singh 36 & 3/39 
Jharkhand were just not able to finish it off as Delhi’s 9th wicket pair added 51 to win the game. 

Overall, a good run for the Jharkhand squad. Results are there to see in the Deodhar Trophy squads. After being ignored during the IPL Varun Aaron has forced himself back in the reckoning. Shahbaz Nadeem has belatedly got his share of the spotlight. Ishan Kishan is being talked about as an India keeping option. These three have got into the Deodhar Trophy squads. Meanwhile Anukul Roy has also lived up to his billing Samastipur ka Ravindra Jadeja with a sterling all-round displays and will surely be in the reckoning soon for a zonal call-up.  

Season Stats 
Highest Scorers 
  1. Ishan Kishan – 405 @ 45.00 
  2. Anand Singh – 321 @ 35.67 
  3. Anukul Roy 219 @ 73.00 
Most Wickets 
  1. Shahbaz Nadeem – 24 @ 13.04 
  2. Varun Aaron – 18 @ 18.06 
  3. Anukul Roy – 15 @ 20.00 
Highest Score – Ishan Kishan 139 vs Assam 
Best Bowling – Shahbaz Nadeem – 8/10 vs Rajasthan (New List A World Record) 
Players Used – 14

Monday, October 15, 2018

Vijay Hazare Trophy 18-19: Bihar Review

Bihar made an excellent comeback to the big leagues, topping the Plate group and reaching the Quarter-finals. It was a team of newcomers with 14 players making their List debuts during the campaign. They were also not helped by the loss of Pragyan Ojha midway through the campaign. Ojha led the side till a mid-campaign injury sidelined him and Keshav Kumar took over in his place. Short summary of the team’s performance follows. 

Game 1: Nagaland 253/8 (50) lost to Bihar 254/2 (43.4) by 8 wickets 
Key Performers: Babul Kumar 121*, Keshav Kumar 76* & 2/35, Samar Quadri 3/35 
List A Debut: Vikas Ranjan, Kundan Sharma, Babul Kumar, Anunay Singh, Rohit Raj, MD Rahmatullah, Diwan Khan 

Game 2: Uttarakhand 160/10 (43.2) lost to Bihar 163/5 (37.3) by 5 wickets 
Key Performers: Vikas Ranjan 79, Anunay Singh 3/21, Samar Quadri 3/37 
List A Debut: Ashish Sinha 

Game 3: Bihar vs Puducherry – Match abandoned due to rain. 

Game 4: Bihar 211/9 (50) beat Meghalaya 103/10 (42.5) by 108 runs 
Key Performers: Samar Quadri 5/22, Ashutosh Aman 3/15 
List A Debut: Anshuman Gautam 
Keshav Kumar led the side in Pragyan Ojha’s absence 

Game 5: Arunachal Pradesh 145/10 (45.3) lost to Bihar 150/5 (26) by 5 wickets 
Key Performers: Keshav Kumar 5/23, Ashutosh Aman 3/15, Babul Kumar 57 

Game 6: Bihar 338/6 (50) beat Sikkim 46/10 (31) by 292 runs 
Key Performers: Rahmatullah 156*, Babul Kumar 92, Keshav Kumar, 3/7, Anunay Singh 3/12 
List A debut: Eshaan Ravi 
Record: Biggest victory margin in runs in List A history in India 

Game 7: Manipur 172/8 (50) lost to Bihar 176/2 (29.1) by 8 wickets 
Key Performers: Rehan Khan 3/39, Babul Kumar 100*, Rahmatullah 50* 
For Manipur, Yashpal Singh scored 134 out of the 172 runs! 
List A debut: Kumar Mridul 

Game 8: Mizoram 83/10 (27.2) lost to Bihar 87/1 (15.4) by 9 wickets 
Key Performers: Keshav Kumar 4/21, Ashutosh Aman 3/2, Vikas Ranjan 59* 
List A debut: Manish Rai 

Bihar topped the group and qualified for the Quarter-Finals 

Quarter-Finals: Bihar 69/10 (28.2) lost to Mumbai 70/1 (12.3) 
List A Debut: Vijay Bharti, Sabir Khan 

Overall, a good run for Bihar!They have got a promotion to Group C of the tournament next year, which is a tougher group to qualify through!  

Coming up next: Ranji Trophy also in the Plate League. Given the recent performances and relative strengths of the sides, Bihar should be able to make it through to the quarters from this group. 

Season Stats 
Highest Scorers 
  1. Babul Kumar – 419 @ 83.80 with 2 centuries (earlier represented Jharkhand)
  2. Rahmatullah – 256 @ 85.33 with 1 century
  3. Vikas Ranjan – 247 @35.29 
Most Wickets 
  1. Keshav Kumar – 15 @ 9.40 
  2. Ashutosh Aman – 15 @ 8.40 
  3. Samar Quadri – 12 @ 16.25 (who earlier represented Jharkhand)
Highest Score – Rahmatullah 156 vs Sikkim 
Best Bowling – Samar Quadri 5/22 vs Meghalaya 

Players Used – 18 with 14 List A debutantes