Friday, November 25, 2011

Arbit Statistics - 14

The big event did not take place at the Wankhede today but another very rare event did take place.
R. Ashwin scored a century to follow with his Michelle becoming only the 3rd Indian ever to do so. The two prior ones being historic legends Vinoo Mankad & Polly Umrigar. (Pretty sure a five wicket haul wouldn't have been referred to as a Michelle then, Michelle Pfeiffer not having been born :P). Surprised to see Kapil Dev missing from that list. Full list of such happenings is here (Thank you Statsguru).

More Arbit Stats - India & West Indies batsmen have combined to score 11 50+ scores in the 2 innings between them, which is a new record for most 50+ scores. Here is the Statsguru evidence.
And also the 1st time ever all the top 6 batsman on both sides have scored a quarter century. Talk about a batting beauty.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

200 Not Out

Rahul Dravid reached the milestone of 13,000 Test runs.
Sachin Tendulkar is more than half way in the attempt for the 100th international 100.
Darren Bravo is looking more and more like the man he is often compared to, Brian Lara.

Meanwhile, almost unnoticed, Slipstream Cricket (formerly called The Crickiblog) has reached its own special milestone of 200 posts (this being the 200th one). The 100th post milestone had been reached on the  blog's 1st birthday. Since then the strike rate has improved considerably and the 2nd 100 took less than 11 months.

How do I explain this improved strike rate? The cricket world cup happened for one (India won :D), which kept the months of February and March quite busy. My posting ability improved (:P). Or maybe I had nothing better to do and becoming a bigger cricket tragic than I already was. (But my other blog seems to have hit a writer's block and frequency of posts has deteriorated quite rapidly).

In the past one year, the blog has undergone a little bit of design changes. The Arbit Statistics have got a fully dedicated section for themselves, though they keep updating pretty fast. Also the blog has made acquaintance with fellow blogs on the matters of the gentleman's game. (Point to be noted -  the blog and not the blogger). It feels good to be mentioned around here and there.

As for the content, have decided that this is not a newspaper or a review site. And I do NOT have to cover all the goings on in the cricket world (but still follow up a lot). A lot can be left unwritten. But whenever there are some thoughts assembled they ought to be jotted down and posted. So these posts are becoming the random musings of a die-hard fanatic.

Nowadays, also being occasionally published at DHCF (Die Hard Cricket Fans). The posts get published as the editor wishes.

Finally, time for a dedications.
  • To The Sledgehammer of Eternal Justice, for being the catalyst for the blog's genesis and its name.
  • To BCCI, for making our team play non-stop, so that the lack of posts can never be blamed on the lack of cricketing events taking place. Laziness will take the blame here.
  • To Pakistan cricket, its board and its players, for providing most of the off-field drama.
  • To South Africa, for continuing their proud choking traditions.
  • To Australia, for not being the dominant force that they were, so that sadist fans across the non-Australian world can gloat.
  • To England for being the most entertaining team in the cricket world (so damned good in Tests and absolutely lousy in the ODIs).
  • To Jharkhand for winning its first ever domestic trophy. Your deeds will be followed. (Aside - Can't think of any other blogger writing about Jharkhand cricket).
  • To Rahul Dravid. Just for being Rahul Dravid.
To the next century.

P.S. Hoping I haven't jinxed it (You-know-who's You-know-what )

P.P.S Hobbies can be addictive

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Vinod Kambli's allegations - Now is the time to speak out

As any cricket follower in the country would have been aware by now, Vinod Kambli has made some serious claims about the 1996 World Cup semi-finals. He claims that captain Mohammed Azharuddin went against the team's collective decision of batting first and chose to field instead. The match was later to be abandoned due to crowd trouble in India's innings and a crying Vinod Kambli leaving the field.

Any match-fixing claim has to be taken very seriously. These things have happened. Players have been banned, fined and now even jailed for such crimes. But its also very easy to make allegations about past events, where only the word of one person against the other stands.

In this case the credibility of the allegations is a bit low. The events happened 15 years ago. Given Vinod Kambli's recent antics, his trust level is pretty low. He was a case of talent truly wasted as a player. Thrown out of team on disciplinary grounds, making controversial TV apppearances (Sach Ka Saamna & Bigg Boss), announcing his retirement from cricket some 7-8 years after being dropped him from the Mumbai Ranji team, Going on proclaiming his friendship with Sachin Tendulkar on all possible forums. Sounds like a person who is despearate to be in news always.

Here the allegations have been made against a former India captain who is under a life ban from cricket for match-fixing based on evidence collected by CBI. So Azhar provides an easy target for such allegations.

If I remember correctly, all the analysts during the World Cup had agreed that Sri Lankans were very good at chasing down targets Performances against India, England certainly justify this claim. Even in the final they chose to chase against Australia knowing fully well that all the previous winners had batted first in the finals. So putting Sri Lanka into bat first seemed a logical decision. There was also talk of using a spinner to counter the marauding Sri Lankan openers in the inital overs. So Kumble opened the bowling with Srinath. Then there was the evening dew factor. Taking these factors into account bowling first does seem to be a logical decision. The one error was misreading the pitch. The pitch had become an unknown quantity due to opening ceremony fiasco. Given all these factors Azhar would have been roasted if he had decided to bat first.

Now coming to Kambli's remarks. He says Navjot Sidhu was all padded up to open. The toss hadn't been held till then. What if Rantunga had won the toss. Then there are claims of this being his last game when the truth is he played on and off for another 4 years. Also the timing of the allegations make no sense. He could have come out in the open then or when the match-fixing scandal came up in 2000. Why did he keep silent all these years?

Is there any truth in Kambli's allegations? I don't know. The only people who can answer are the other members of the 1996 campaign. So far the manager Ajit Wadekar, and other players like Sanjay Manjrekar, Nayan Mongia and Venkatpathy Raju and Azhar himself have already rubbished Kambli's claims. But it is very important that the other players like Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath et al, whose credibility cannot be questioned speak out. This is certainly not a time of maintianing a dignified silence. Its time to come out in the open and speak out. You owe this to the Indian fan.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Arbit Statisitcs - 13

India beats West Indies by an Innings & 16 runs at Eden Gardens. With this loss Shivnaraine Chanderpaul has now taken over from former team mate Brian Lara as the player with most test losses of all time (64 and counting). Says a lot of the quality of the recent West Indies teams and Chanderpaul's longeveity and importance to West Indies.

It was a bad day for Lara in statistical terms in general. Kallis has crossed him to be the 4th highest Test run getter on the opening day of 2nd Test vs Australia.

And in further Lara news, his heir apparent & cousin Darren Bravo has got the same runs (941) and average (47.05) after 12 Tests as Lara.

Update to Arbit Statistics
Arbit Statistics - 9 : With 2 sixes in his innings of 117, Rahul Dravid has broken his run of never having hit more than one six in a single Test innings.
Arbit Statistics - 4: West Indies by scoring 463 have broken India's record of most runs in an innings in an innings defeat.
These statistics are changing pretty fast now :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ranji Trophy 11-12: Jharkhand Update

The first 2 rounds of the 2011-12 season of the  Ranji Trophy are over. There have been big scores (including a triple century) some close draws, some boring draws, rare outright wins, a few weather interventions. There were 2 highly interesting games. Maharashtra beating Hyderabad by an innings in a low scoring crazy shootout to rival the one in Newlands. And the absolutely rivetting draw between Tamil Nadu & Haryana where all 4 results were possible till the end.

It seems to me that the domestic season is attracting quite a bit of attention this time around. I can think of a couple of reasons for this increased awareness. The first is the presence of big names in the tournament. The performance of recent India rejects & hopefuls like Harbhajan Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, the Pathan brothers and others are being keenly watched. Long retired Saurav Ganguly is stil motivated enough to play for Bengal. Also thanks to the IPL, the domestic players are not all anonymous entities. Players like Rajat Bhatia, Mithun Manhas are no longer unfamiliar names. There is better coverage of the games. Cricinfo keeps updating scores on a regular basis. The twitter handle @Ranjiscores is also doing a great job of providing regular updates on the games happening all over the country.

Now a performance review of my team Jharkhand playing in the Plate League Group B. So far has played 2 games against Hyderabad and Jammu & Kashmir, both away. 

In the first game against Hyderabad, Jharkhand conceded a big first innings lead after bowling first, which more or less sealed the game result. Game ended in a draw with Hyderabad getting 3 points and Jharkhand 1. The first day was affected by weather. The standout performers for the team were Ishank Jaggi (81 in the first innings) and Amir Hashmi (68) with the bat while SS Rao picked 6 and Shahbaz Nadeem picked 3 wickets. 

The 2nd game against Jammu & Kashmir in Srinagar was badly hit by the weather with no play at all on the 2nd and 3rd days. As neither team could complete the 1st innings also, both were given 2 points each. Samar Quadri & Shahbaz Nadeem picked 2 wickets apiece while Manish Vardhan got a quickfire half century.

Nothing much can be read from these results though the team is lying bottom of the table with 3 points fom 2 games. Ishank Jaggi & Shabaz Nadeem seem in decent form while captain Saurabh Tiwary's indifferent run across all formats continues. Team certainly seems to be missing the pace of Varun Aaron in the bowling department, while chances of Dhoni playing a Ranji game in the near future appear very remote. 

Coming up next in the league stage are
17-20 Nov: Maharashtra
29 Nov - 2 Dec : Assam
6-9 Dec: Goa

Friday, November 11, 2011

Arbit Statistics - 12

The insane test between South Africa and Australia at Newlands provided loads of crazy statistics. This was the one which set a new record.

Nathan Lyon became the No. 11 batsman to come into bat at the lowest score ever 21/9 beating the  previous record of coming into bat at 25/9 held by fellow Australian Tom McKibbin from a match of an era gone by. Also he became the lowest highest scoring No. 11 in an innings in a test.

More arbit stats on this match by Andy Zaltzman in his special quiz.

Updates to Arbit Statistics 
Arbit Statistics - 11: Andrew Strauss has rectified the anomaly and gone past Graeme Swann in the highest 1st class scores department.

Arbit Statistics - 10: Sachin Tendulkar has snatched the crown of most 4th innings runs from Rahul Dravid. Though both being active players, this record might keep moving between the two of them for the time being.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


A memorable scene from the movie 300 comes to mind (a score which is unthinkable here)

After the events in Newlands this is is what would have been the conversation

The bowlers would have said - THIS IS NEWLANDS.

An insane day of Test cricket in Cape Town. The scorecard resembles a 19th century test match. To sum up the events 23 wickets fell, all 4 innings took place on the same day, both teams were knocked out for less than a 100, Australia at 21/9 were in real danger of recording the lowest score ever in the history of Test matches, the last wicket added more than the 1st 9 combined, and in the 4th innings the batsmen settled down as if nothing had happened. What happened after lunch, did pitch transform into a snake-pit? And then quietened down after the Aussie innings. Also there were an extra-ordinary numbers of decisions overturned via DRS while Shane Watson recorded almost T20 type of bowling figures. And to round off a crazy day, Michael Hussey dropped  a simple catch of Hashim Amla of the last ball of the innings.

In this context, I can safely say Michael Clarke's 151 has to be one of the greatest innings of all times. Nathan Lyon & Peter Siddle's 26 runs partnership maybe just helped the pitch ease out a bit. Should Australia have declared then? Dont know but certainly an interesting day's play ahead.

P.S. Wonder if ICC's pitch committee has to say anything about this pitch. Recently Kotla & Galle have received lots of criticism. Wonder what will said about this one.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

India vs West Indies Test 1 - Thoughts

It was much closer than it should have been. India in India (with an amazing record of just 2 losses in last 20 home games) taking on West Indies who have been struggling anywhere and everywhere against anyone and everyone. The first test in Kotla provided further proof that cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties. Here are the thoughts at the end of the game.
  • A home test without Harbhajan Singh and a revamped bowling lineup. His direct replacement Ashwin takes 9 wickets and picks up the Man of the Match on debut. The other spinner Ojha making a comeback picks 7 including 6 in the 1st innings. Add Harbhajan's miserable performance against Uttar Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy, the chances of a comeback soon become a bit dimmer. (In the same game another Indian discard RP Singh picked a Michelle while Suresh Raina scored a double hundred).
  • Chris Gayle was missing a result of too many ego clashes amongst West Indies cricket stakeholders. Don't know who to blame here. The board, the players's association or Gayle himself?
  • Another exclusion was of Ramnaresh Sarwan. This was a case quite similar to Harbhajan's. Born 10 days apart, both have great reputations, formidable records and a lousy current form and both out of their national teams.
  • Shivnaraine Chanderpaul was there as usual tormenting India as he has been doing since time immemorial. Probably the ugliest batting style in the whole cricketing world and also the most effective in blunting any bowling attack. But India are rendered especially toothless against him.
  • I like Darren Sammy. Many may say that he doesn't deserve to be in the team. But his dedication cannot be faulted. Bowls his heart out, takes the wickets, gets a few quick runs when his team needs them and is doing an excellent job captaining the West Indies team. I guess West Indies cricket needs players like Sammy more than Gayle.
  • India's collapse in the 1st innings was the reason that this test got all exciting. India still went on to win can say a lot about India's fighting spirit or West Indies's incompetence. Your pick.
  • Dhoni became the 1st Indian to reach 200 test dismissals whereas Mark Boucher just took his 500th Test catch. Also Dhoni remained not out on 0 in the 2nd innings. Hope nobody accuses him of remaining not out to boost his batting average this time around.
  • Sehwag was off to his murderous starts. Knocked a big chunk off the chase almost as soon as it got started both times around. 
  • Dravid was there doing his typical "Back to the Wall" jobs in both innings. He lost his crown of most 4th innings runs to Tendulkar though.
  • VVS Laxman was there to see another 4th innings chase through.
  • The stage was set. I had actually dreamed up the scenario as well. The ball bowled slightly outside offstump and it gets punched through the covers for a boundary. The crowds giving a standing ovation as India reached victory with the same shot as Sachin Tendulkar reached his 100th international 100. But alas, it wasn't meant to be... (Aside - SRT refused to take a legbye and was out LBW a couple of balls later in the same Bishoo over). The wait continues.
Now over to Kolkata.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Spotfixing Verdict

August 21, 2010 - The day the cricketing world was shaken up with following edition of the "News of the World" paper. (My post here)

In the immediate aftermath of the Lords Test, the trio of Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir was dropped from the Pakistan team and later banned by the ICC. But this wasn't the worse to come for the trio as an year later a jury found them guilty and gave them prison terms of varying lengths.

The first thought on hearing of the outcome of the case was that just punishment had been meted out to the guilty party. The spot fixing scam had left a sense of betrayal. It was weird to imagine to what extent people were going to make money. For the players it must have been an easy option. Take money on the side, bowl a couple of no-balls (which aren't an oddity by themselves) at fixed points. During this they could still be giving their best for the country as well. I wondered there were people who actually bet on this kind of stuff. And the sums were large enough to be able to buy off the players. All this is still beyond belief.

The whole sequence of events is full of ironies

The whole saga was brought to light not by any anti-corruption agencies, ICC or government bodies but by a now-defunct newspaper which had to be closed down due its unethical ways of getting information.

Mohammed Amir actually bowled one of the better fast bowling spells in recent times. His no-ball was part of a spell in which he took the wickets of Cook, Pietersen, Collingwood, Morgan, Prior and Swann. Showing that except for the no ball he bowled his best for his country.

Salman Butt captained Pakistan to 2 test victories including the first one against Australia in around 15 years. It seemed Pakistan had found some stability when the scandal broke out. The irony of life that his son was born the day he was handed a prison sentence.

Mohammed Asif was the one who had talent, and has taken extra-ordinary measures to blow it away. Drugs scandal, physical fights with team mates and finally the spot-fixing case. Also it turns out that he was paid more than others to ensure that he doesn't change over to a rival spot-fixing gang.

The verdict has made a few things clear.

  • If you are caught fixing you are not just banned from the game, you are jailed as well. At least in England. Hopefully this would set some deterrent.
  • There are more names involved here which haven't yet come out. Comments regarding Asif certainly seem to suggest that.
Hopefully cricket is cleaner now, at least I would like to believe so, though the eveidence may suggest otherwise. But this is only the tip. Every allegation has to be thoroughly investigated. And the concerned should have immediate life bans set on them. Otherwise any odd incident would be looked at it in a different light.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy - Jharkhand Review

In continuation with this post here
The East Zone qualifiers were held in Keenan Stadium, Jamshedpur. Unfortnuately, the matches were affected by the inclement weather. here are Jharkhand's results
Oct 21 - vs Tripura - Match abandoned without a single ball being bowled.
Oct 22 - vs Bengal - Match abandoned without a single ball being bowled.

Oct 23 - vs Orissa - Jharkhand won by 6 wickets.
Oct 24 - vs Assam - Assam won by 17 runs.
In all Jharkhand got 8 points and failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the national T20 championships. However with only 2 finished games not much can be read into the results.

Now its over to the Ranji Trophy, where Jharkhand are in the Plate League with the first game having begun against Hyderabad in Hyderabad.