Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Twenty14 Line-up

Slipstream Cricket presents the cricketing line-up to remember the year Twenty14 A.D. by.

1. Phil Hughes, 63 Not Out
The cricketing world was united in grief at the shock demise of Phil Hughes after being hit by a bouncer during a Sheffield Shield game. 63 not out and 408 acquired new importance in cricket. 

2. The West Indies Mess
The West Indies have been in a mess for years. But somehow they managed to reach even lower depths. Contracts disputes between the players, board and the players' association led to an unprecedented pull-out from the middle of a tour to India. Given all the financial troubles they are in, angering the cash-rich and supremely powerful BCCI seems to be a step of truly messed up minds. Wonder what new level they will reach next year.

3. Old is Gold
Younis Khan & Misbah-ul-Haq, combined age of 80 years, led the Pakistanis to a 2-nil whitewash of the Australians, their first series victory in over twenty years. Younis reeling off one century after another while Misbah became the first ever 40 year old to score twin hundreds in a Test.

4. The Beard Rules
Hashim Amla, Moeen Ali, Anton Devcich - need we say any more. Not surprising as the father of modern cricket, Dr. W G Grace had a magnificent beard of his own.

5. McCullum's Runs
Brendon McCullum gives up keeping, becomes captain and then scores a triple century (the first by a Kiwi in Tests), then gets two more doubles and as the year closes, almost smashes the record for the fastest double century. Now that's quite some run.

6. 264
Rohit Sharma scored his second ODI double century and wen past the highest individual batting score record by a huge margin. Certainly the year's most memorable ODI innings, although Corey Anderson's 36-ball century also deserves special mention.

7. Ugliness on the Pitch
There is too much bad behavior going on the pitch. And the authorities need to intervene immediately otherwise things are going to get worse. There were many stand-offs but the Pollard-Starc fracas in the IPL was certainly the worst of the lot and yet the players just received fines as penalty. The ICC needs to act fast before things go completely out of hand.

8. The Clampdown
For once, the ICC acted. And its stand on suspect actions showed how effective it can be when it wants to act. Saeed Ajmal, Sunil Naraine, Pragyan Ojha, Mohammed Hafeez, Sachitra Senanayeke, Kane Wialliamson, Prosper Utseya, Malcolm Waller, Marlon Samuels are just a few names in the ever-growing list of bowlers who have been banned from bowling.

9. The English Civil War
There is a civil war situation in English cricket. And it is taking a heavy toll. The coaching staff has changed, Kevin Pietersen's reintegration has been a failure and there are tell-all books being written all-around. All this while the Captain was barely hanging to his seat. And just prior to the World Cup, a cop has taken place with Captain Morgan taking over the helm of the English ship from Captain Cook.

10. Words Coming Back to Bite You
When BCCI announced a second string team for the ODI series in Bangladesh, their captain Mushfiqur Rahim announced commented the records will show that Bangladesh would be beating an India team and India A team. Then they proceeded to get all out for 58 against this "A" Team with Stuart Binny recording unbelievable figures of 6 for 4. 

10. Welcome new members
Papua New Guinea became the latest member to join the ODI club with a victory over Hong Kong, while Nepal joined the league of cricketing nations with an appearance in the T20 World Cup.

11. Tussle of the Year
The most engrossing tussle wasn't played on the field but off it with the Supreme Court of India taking on N Srinivasan. Hopefully the outcome will provide some clean-up of the game.

12th Man - The specter of the upcoming World Cup loomed large with all teams fine-tuning their squads for the big one down under in March.

Wishing all readers a very Happy Cricketing Year 2015 :)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Ranji Trophy 14-15: Jharkhand vs Tripura

Match Summary: Jharkhand (142 & 409/8d) drew with Tripura (362 & 12/0)
Points: Jharkhand 1, Tripura 3

This was supposed to be an easy home encounter against the perennial minnows. Yet Jharkhand managed to barely hang in after innings defeat was looming up.

Jharkhand made three changes from the 1st game with Subroto Ghosh, Manish Vardhan & Kumar Deobrat replacing Ishan Kishan, Virat Singh and Rituraj Singh. After choosing to bat first they were knocked out cheaply in the 1st innings. In reply, Tripura batted long and took a big lead. Jharkhand stuttered again. An innings defeat was certainly on cards as tripura looked good to record only their 8th ever outright first class victory. However Ishank Jaggi and the tail put in an excellent rearguard and batted out the match. It was fantastic batting by Jaggi after a rather lacklustre start to the season. Jaggi scored his 2nd career first class double hundred and endured that Jharkhand scraped through with a point.

Highlight - Ishank Jaggi's match-saving career-best 201 not out in the second innings. Also Kumar Deobrat's solid contributions in both innings. Scoring 75 out of team's 142 makes a special innings

Season Stats
Top Scorer: Ishank Jaggi 238 runs @79.33
Most Wickets: Samar Quadri - 8 wickets @22.75

Standings: 4 points from 2 games. Currently in 6th place. Need to get in some outright victories to secure a knockout berth.

Coming Up Next: Kerala who are one place and 2 points ahead of Jharkhand.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ranji Trophy 14-15: Jharkhand vs Assam

Match Summary: Assam (191 & 235/9d)  drew with Jharkhand (217 & 78/4)
Points: Jharkhand 3, Assam 1

After sitting out the 1st round, Jharkhand faced Assam away in Guwahati for their opening encounter of the new Ranji season.

It was a typical low scoring affair. Jharkhand won the toss and put Assam in first. Assam were all out for a lowly 191. Jharkhand were looking good to take a big first innings lead but collapsed on Day 3 to secure a small but critical 26 runs lead. Neither side could make any more headway through the game and eventually after some brief excitement in the 4th innings the match ended in a draw.

3 youngsters made their first class debut for Jharkhand. Ishan Kishan the wicket-keeper who is the youngest player in this season so far. Virat Singh, another 16 year old would be hoping for a career as good as his namesake in the Indian team. Virat Singh was the top scorer in the Vijay Hazare Trophy for Jharkhand. Middle order batsman Kaushal Singh was the 3rd debutante.

Highlights for Jharkhand - Ishan Kishan's half-century on first class debut and Ajay Yadav's 4 wicket haul in Assam's 2nd innings.

Season Stats
Top Scorer: Ishan Kishan 66 runs @ 33
Most Wickets: Ajay Yadav - 6 wickets @ 9 

Standings: 3 points after 1 game, having missed the 1st round. Currently 5th in Group C having played one game less. Leaders Assam are just 5 points away.

Coming Up Next - Zonal minnows Tripura. Hoping for a big win here which will help the team's cause in the league.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Adelaide 2014: The AfterThoughts

Australia vs India, Adelaide 2014

It was a Test like no other. Matches have been held in the shadow of death before. One of Australia's greatest batting talents Archie Jackson died of ill-health while an Ashes tour was on in Australia. The Chennai Test of 2008 was played in the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks. And one of the greatest series of all times, the 2005 Ashes was played with the backdrop of the London bombings. 

However this match was different. An international player dying during the course of play in a first class match was an unprecedented event. The entire cricket community was in a state of shock. Something as innocuous as a cricket delivery had taken away a cricketer's life. Phil Hughes's sudden death and the subsequent outpouring of grief had rightly lead to the rescheduling of the India-Australia matches.

The rejigged Test series was cricket's way of saying "The Show Must Go On". There were lots of tributes paid to Phil Hughes during the game. 63 not out and 408 became the new landmarks in the scorebooks.

And above all this was Michael Clarke. The man had been in a row with the selectors  over his fitness when the incident happened. He was immediately on the scene, all animosity forgotten. As a leader of men, Clarke's stature has grown tremendously over the last few days. He took the field inspite of fitness issues and scored a century. However in the process, he picked more injuries. And there is a chance that he might never play again. Yet, I doubt that Clarke would have missed this game for the sake of prolonging his career.

The bouncer has always been a thrilling sight to watch. Now it had blood on its name. So I was wondering who would be the first bowler to bowl a bouncer in this game. And how would the crowds react. The answer came soon enough. Varun Aaron bowled it in the very initial stages. What was heartening was the crowd's reaction. There was applause for the bowler. A sign that people wanted things to become as normal as possible.

However Day 3 proved that things can never be the same again. Mitchell Johnson hit Virat Kohli bang on the helmet.  The entire Australian team, the non-striker and even the umpires ran in to check on Kohli. Thankfully no harm had been done. Yet Johnson was looking more terrified than anybody else. In earlier times, the bowler would have followed it up with a stare and/or some choice words with the close-in fielders also adding their two bits. Things have changed.

Yet nothing symbolized how much nature wants to back into balance than the verbal altercations between Aaron, Warner et al on 4th day. For some odd reason it was actually good to see that things were moving towards normalcy. Not that sledging and rude gestures are any good, but somehow it certainly helped in the healing process.

And finally a few words on India's performance. India's bowling is in a terrible condition. The bowlers are fast but too wayward while the spin department is itself in a spin. There is no way we can win Test matches with this attack on any half decent pitch. India's batting has no sting in the tail. The top order can bat firmly but is more likely to collapse under pressure.

However what was refreshing to watch was India's approach towards the 4th innings chase. With such a target, 80 percent of the times we would have collapsed quite early in the day and showed no fight. Other times we might have batted out a draw with the opposition under no threat. However Kohli and company actually went for the target. And for this very reason the defeat did not hurt as much. Yes we suffered a spectacular collapse losing 8 wickets in under a session. Yet the approach was there to win it.

Probably it was the stop-gap captaincy of Kohli which made India go for the target with Kohli himself leading the way with twin hundreds. However his captaincy shouldn't be judged on one off instance. After all as a stop-gap arrangement till Dhoni returned, Kohli could easily take more risks than the incumbent.

So in the end a grieving Australian camp turned up and outplayed the Indians. The first Test match is out of the way. And hopefully normal service will resume from Brisbane onward.

P.S. A word on Sean Abbott. It must have taken tremendous mental strength to come back and play in the very next match. That too in the very same ground. After all that he had to go through, he came up and got his career-best bowling figures. Hats off to the young man.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Arbit Stats 38: Virat Kohli

India vs Australia - Adelaide, 2014

Virat Kohli scored 115 in the first innings and followed it up with 141 in the second. In the absence of MS Dhoni, Kohli was leading India for the first time in Tests.

In the process, he has created a record for the most runs (256) scored in a Test match by a player on his captaincy debut.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The 1st World T20 Final

In the Air...Sreesanth… Takes It…India WINS” – boomed Ravi Shastri as Misbah-ul-Haq’s attempted scoop shot was caught much short of its intended destination. And with that final act, India became the inaugural World Twenty20 champions.

For the Indian fan, it was a perfect finale to a near-perfect event. A world tournament final victory, coming over your historical arch-rivals was just the balm needed to heal the wounds from the ODI World Cup earlier in the year.

The tournament had been a grand spectacle. Music, player introductions, bowl-outs, fireworks and dancing cheerleaders were some of the innovations which were well received by the audience. For the marketing men, the final was a dream match-up like the perfect icing on the cake. The finalists— India and Pakistan – historical arch-rivals, both seeking redemption for their respective horrendous show in the ODI World Cup. They had played a thrilling tie earlier in the tournament which India won 3-nil in a bowl-out.

India suffered a setback before the start with Virender Sehwag missing the final through injury. In came debutant Yusuf Pathan as his replacement. Dhoni won the toss and chose to bat first. Pathan began his international career in a spectacular fashion launching the very second ball he faced from Asif into the stands but he fell soon after. Gautam Gambhir played a steady hand while wickets fell regularly at the other end.  The most memorable moment of the innings arrived when Gambhir smashed a six straight into the scoreboard. “That’s one way to get the scoreboard moving” was the gem from the commentary box. India ended up with a seemingly below-par total of 157.

Pakistan should have chased this in a canter but the World Cup final has its own pressures. Tight bowling and fielding combined with some reckless shots had handed over the initiative to India. The Indian fans thought the match was in the bag but Misbah had other ideas. There was a flurry of big shots while wickets kept falling at the other end.

Pakistan needed 13 runs off the last over with Misbah on strike and only one wicket remaining. Here Dhoni made the crucial choice. He handed the ball to Joginder Sharma ahead of the much more experienced Harbhajan Singh. Dhoni’s sheer gut feeling seemed to be the only logical explanation for this choice as Joginder bowled a wide and then was hit for a straight six. Everyone’s nerves were all over the place and Misbah seemed to be the only calm one. And then the third ball of the over. Misbah tried the scoop shot, the ball seemed to have been hit perfectly rising in the air as we saw the crowds in the background. With bated breath, we saw the ball begin its descent. Was it going to cross the boundary or was it falling short? The ball came down and landed safely into the hands of the waiting short fine leg fielder. Misbah was down to his haunches and the Indian team was celebrating.
I was watching the game with some hundred others in my college common room, which had never been so crowded before. There had been a hushed silence with everyone doing their best not to jinx the Indian team by any sort of movement. Sressanth caught the ball and the whole room erupted. An instant party followed.

All thoughts of assignments and submissions for the next day had gone for a toss. They would wait. After all we were now the World Champions.

P.S. - This article was written as part of the ongoing #BeACricketWriter Contest being conducted by Harsha Bhogle

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Probably the most elegant way of paying tribute. A tragedy which has united the cricketing world in a manner never seen before.

Above is a mosaic of all the tributes.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Phil Hughes, R.I.P.

A national spot was up for grabs. He was considered as one of the prime contenders. Batting on 63 not out with a national selector watching, he has probably done enough to  make it to the XI for the next Test match. A bouncer is bowled. He goes for the hook. He is through with the shot before the ball reaches him and hits him on the back of the neck. And its all over.

A sudden and terrible end to a promising career. One moment he was fighting for a Test place and next he was gone. Puts some perspective to life when something as mundane as a ball delivered in a first class match turns fatal.

Thoughts with entire Hughes family. And hoping Sean Abbott copes up with this tragedy.

Phillip Joel Hughes. R.I.P.

You will stay 63 not out forever.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Vijay Hazare Trophy 2014-15: Jharkhand Review

Here is how Jharkhand's run in the Vijay Hazare Trophy unfolded.

Game 1: vs Tripura - Won by 8 Wickets
Game 2: vs Bengal - Lost by 163 Runs
Game 3: vs  Assam - Lost by 7 Wickets
Game 4: vs  Odisha - Won by 45 Runs
So won 2 and lost 2 and then knocked out on basis of inferior net run rate. The huge defeat against Bengal really hurt them in the final calculations. 

Highlights for Jharkhand
  • Saurabh Tiwary's back to the wall century against Assam. He is becoming an expert in playing these kind of knocks.
  • New import Rituraj Singh's 5 wicket haul against Tripura
Top Scorers
  1. Virat Singh - 170 @56.67
  2. Saurabh Tiwary - 154 @77
  3. Kumar Deobrat - 128 @42.67
Top Wicket takers
  1. Rahul Shukla - 7 @21.57
  2. Jaskaran Singh - 7 @29.57
  3. Rituraj Singh - 6 @29.17
The disappointing run continues. But lets hope the team performs better in the Ranji Trophy with the first game against Zonal mates Assam starting on December 14th.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Arbit Stats 37 - Rohit 264

2nd November, 2013 - India vs Australia
Virat Kohli is run out for a duck after a mixup with Rohit Sharma who then proceeds to score 209.

1 year later

13th November, 2014 - India vs Sri Lanka
Virat Kohli is run out for 66 after a mixup with Rohit Sharma who then proceeds to score 264.

End of Arbit Stats 37

For other records which Rohit Sharma broke during his multiple record-breaking innings, click here for cricinfo's detailed compilation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Jharkhand Domestic Schedule: 2014-15 Season

The new domestic season has commenced with the Duleep Trophy which culminated in an exciting finale with Central Zone winning after a 4th innings late collapse by South Zone. This season the sequence of the tournaments has been changed keeping in mind the forthcoming World Cup early next year. Hence the Vijay Hazare trophy has been brought forward and the Ranji Trophy has been pushed back. 

Being probably the only blog following the fortunes of the Jharkhand cricket team, Slisptream Cricket will try to provide as many regular updates as possible on the team's season ahead. The first major change has been the appointment of V Venkatraman as the new coach in place of Subroto Banerjee.

Following is the team's schedule for the season.

Vijay Hazare Trophy - Schedule for the East Zone qualifying rounds. All matches being played in Kolkata.
  1. 9 Nov, 2014: vs Tripura
  2. 11 Nov, 2014: vs Bengal
  3. 13 Nov, 2014: vs Assam
  4. 15 Nov, 2014: vs Odisha
These will be followed by knock-outs from 19th to 25th November.

Ranji Trophy - After last year's poor performance, Jharkhand were relegated to Group C. Hopefully we will see an improved performance from the side. A top two finish in the group will be required for a berth in the knock-outs. The team will not be in action in the first round of matches. So they have their task cut out playing in all eight rounds back to back.
  1. Dec 14-17, 2014: vs Assam
  2. Dec 21-24, 2014: vs Tripura
  3. Dec 28-31, 2014: vs Kerala
  4. Jan 5-8, 2015: vs Andhra
  5. Jan 13-16, 2015: vs Himachal
  6. Jan 21-24, 2015: vs Hyderabad
  7. Jan 29-Feb 1, 2015: vs Goa
  8. Feb 6-9, 2015: vs Services
All venues yet to be confirmed. Knockouts from Feb 15 to March 12 in parallel to the World Cup.

Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy - The dometic T20 champiosnhip. Ideal feeder for the IPL scouts though held a quite late in the season. Schedule for the East zone qualifying rounds. Venues are yet to be confirmed.
  1. 26 Mar, 2015: vs Tripura
  2. 27 Mar, 2015: vs Bengal
  3. 28 Mar, 2015: vs Odisha
  4. 29 Mar, 2015: vs Assam
These will be followed by knock-outs whose dates are yet to be fixed.

Hoping for a better performance from the team and wishing them the best.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Arbit Stats 36: Misbah Special

In the Abu Dhabi Test, Misbah-ul-Haq created quite a few records.
Fastest Test 50 in 21 balls breaking the record of  Jacques Kallis (!!!)
Fastest Test 100 off 56 balls equalling the record of Sir Viv Richards.

But the award for the  most arbit record goes to - At 40 years and 158 days, Misbah-ul Haq is now the oldest batsman to score two centuries in a Test match breaking the record of Sir Don Bradman by a whole year. 

Mudgal Report - India Player?

The Justice Mudgal Committee has submitted its report into the IPL 6 Spot fixing investigations. The details are yet to be disclosed but rumors from "sources in the know" have started creeping out. And some of them are quite concerning.

As per this news report on Indian Express, the Mudgal Committee has named a key member of the 2011 World Cup winning team for being apparently in touch with bookmakers and match fixers. Very serious allegations here.

So Slipstream cricket started their investigations to uncover this player based on the hints provided in the report which are as follows
  1. Part of 2011 World Cup winning team
  2. Not a Team India regular anymore
  3. Big draw in 2013 IPL
  4. Not a part of Chennai or Jaipur frnachisees
First thought was the player named would have been Sreesanth but point 4 above ruled him out.

Above table lists out the 15 member India squad which played in the 2011 World Cup, the franchisee which they represented during the 2013 IPL and their current Team India status.

From the table above 10 out of 15 names still in the spotlight. As an Indian cricket fan, hoping that none of these players are involved. 

P.S. the Indian Team has seen a major change in personnel since winning the last World Cup.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Arbit Stats 35

Australia vs Pakistan Test Series, 2014

9 - Number of centuries scored by the Pakistani batsmen in a 2 Test series.
21 - Number of years that the previous 9 Pakistani Test centuries against Australia took.

Shows the level of complete dominance and break from history that this series has been for Pakistan. They are now on verge of a 3rd successive Test win against Australia after having lost the preceding 13 in a row against them.

Unrelated but comparable factoid.
6 - India's medal haul in 2012 London Games
7 - The number of previous Olympics (from 1984 - 2008) in which India got 6 medals combined.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Forgotten XI... Or Maybe Not

The following is an eleven comprising of Indian cricketers whose names are likely to be remembered only by either their own families or the most diehard of cricket followers. Like any "fantasy XI" I have picked the ones which I recall from my cricket watching career. There can be quite a few alternative XIs.
  1. Iqbal Siddique - In his debut Test for India, opened the bowling and batting. Also hit the the winning runs. And never played for India again. 
  2. Sujith Somasundar - Opened for India in 2 ODIs with a lineup comprising of Tendulkar, Dravid, Azhar, Ganguly and Ajay Jadeja following up. His failures lead to India experimenting with Ganguly as Tendulkar's opening partner and the rest as they is history.
  3. Gagan Khoda - Scored 89 in his 2nd ODI earning him the Man of the Match award. And never played for India again. Just plain bad luck. 
  4. Amay Khurasiya - In contrast to Khoda, An attacking 50 on his ODI debut earned Khurasiya place in the 1999 World Cup squad. The innings warded off competition from the likes of VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag. A few games later he was dropped for good.
  5. Atul Bedade - Was the Yusuf Pathan equivalent of the pre-T20 era. A high strike rate but not too many runs ensured that Bedade represented India only in 13 ODIs. Would certainly have been in big demand in the IPL.
  6. Pankaj Dharmani - Only one game for the Ranji run machine. A wicket keeper with a first class average of over 50 but played only one ODI for India due to a career coinciding with Nayan Mongia's. 
  7. Laxmi Ratan Shukla - He is still toiling away in the Ranji and IPL circuits. Hasn't represented India in this millenium, hence the IPL considers him to be an uncapped player inspite of playing 3 ODIs for India.
  8. David Johnson - 2 Tests as Srinath's injury replacement. But never stuck around the team
  9. Noel David - Noel Who is said to have been the reaction of the then Indian captain Tendulkar, when he heard that this spinner has replaced the injured  Srinath. A brilliant ODI debut and superb fielding were good signs, But his career fizzled out within a few days.
  10. Nilesh Kulkarni - A wicket of his first ball in Test cricket followed by one more in his entire 3 Test career. A case of domestic potential not being translated into international performances.
  11. Robin Singh Jr. - Not to be confused with the more famous Robin Singh. Both played 1 Test each for India although Robin Singh Sr. played in more  than 100 ODIs also.
12th Man - Connor Williams - Slight cheating done here. He never played an international for India. or rather never played in an "official" international game for India. His only India cap came in a "Test" against South Africa which was not given Test status post the Mike Denness fiasco of 2001. 

So 4 batsman, 1 wicket-keeper who can bat, 2 seam-bowling all-rounders, 2 fast bowlers and 2 spinners - in all a very well balanced side.  

Some unable to use their chances and some plain unlucky. But all (with one exception) being part of the very few to have worn the India cap.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The West Indies - The End is Nigh

Its been just over a week since last week's dramatic and abrupt end of the West Indies tour to India. In the mean time thousands of articles have probably appeared on the web talking about the decline in everything related to West Indies cricket. Here is one more on the same.

In my opinion, the time has come for the West Indies as a cricketing team to close down.

This abandonment could be the straw that broke the camel's back. The player-board standoff has been running for years which not surprisingly has coincided with the general decline in West Indies cricket. From being the top ranked country and a widely admired opponent, they have now been sitting close to the bottom in terms of rankings. Threats of strikes, withdrawals, dubious droppings, stand-offs between individual players and the board do not augur well for the making of a team. But walking out in the middle of a tour against the most powerful cricket board is taking matters too far. The abandonment will have far-reaching repercussions. BCCI has already suspended future bilateral tours and other national boards and sponsors are extremely wary. There are even doubts on their participation in the coming World Cup.

West Indies are not the only ones with problems. Zimbabwe have worse but theirs are not just board specific but rooted in the political turmoil in the country. And Afghanistan have shown how cricket as a sport can still grow in war ravaged nation. So payment disputes are comparatively an insignificant issue.

The WICB have been consistently showing their incompetency for the past few years. The 2007 World Cup was arguably the worst organised one in history. And they had almost sold off the entire cricketing administration to Allan Stanford, an American billionaire now in jail for fraud. 

Even the cry of "Rally around the West Indies" somehow doesn't fit the players who seem more interested in becoming T20 mercenaries playing across the proliferating T20 leagues across the world than playing for their "nation".

The West Indies as a team concept are an unique example in not just cricket but across the sporting world. They transcend the national boundaries. Its not just one nation but different countries across the Caribbean region who come together to play as one on the cricketing field. In every other sports these countries have their own separate identities but cricket unites them. However the multiple national interests may also be the cause of the breakdown. 

So I feel that the time has come for the various nations in the West Indies to go their own separate ways. Most likely they are just waiting for the first one to take the plunge and go its own separate way. And maybe having separate national teams might rejuvenate the flogging interest in the game within the region. It will be sad day for cricket when this happens. But the way the events are unfolding it seems to be a question of when and not if. 

The demise of the West Indies cricket will be mourned by all cricket lovers but their current avatar will not be missed.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Missing In Action : Indian cricket @ Asian Games

Cricket has rarely appeared at Multi-sports events. Its limited playing base combined with the long playing duration (5-day Tests) has ensured that the chances of appearing at a multi-sport event was rare.

Cricket's only Olympics appearance was in the 1900 Paris Games with Great Britain beating France in  the final which incidentally was also the only game of the competition. It was almost a century later in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games 1998 that cricket reappeared. This time the format was the 50 over ODIs. The Commonwealth Games would have been the most appropriate setting for cricket with all the big teams from the Commonwealth. However there were issues of country boundaries with Wales as a separate entity, the individuals islands of the West Indies having to appear as separate teams. However the biggest dampener was the lack of enthusiasm of the various cricket boards. And hence cricket never reappeared at the Commonwealth Games.

However the advent of T20 format and the unexpected enthusiasm of the Olympic Committee of Asia has made way for cricket's entry in  the Asian Games. And this has resulted in cricket being played in China and South Korea. An excellent platform for spreading the game across the region. However the big boys of the cricketing world do not seem to be enthused with the idea. BCCI have stayed off completely. Pakistan and Sri Lanka seem to be reluctant participants. However the likes of Bangladesh and the Associates and Affiliates certainly like the idea. After all its probably the biggest stage for them.

Test cricket is an exclusive club and the current members seem unwilling to take on new ones. ICC talks about making cricket a global game but seems to have two different parameters for the Big 10 and the others. There is a strange reluctance to let the numbers spread at the very top level. Probably its the fear of losing control of the cash cow that is the Indian cricket audience thats prompting this idea.

There was an ongoing Champions League (probably the most useless "international" tournament). The BCCI could have easily sent a youth (U-23) or an A team, but it chose not to. And more difficult to fathom are the reasons for the non-appearance of the Women's team, which did not have any other international commitments.

Whatever the reason, Indian fans have lost a chance to cheer for their team in the Asian Games. And BCCI has done a great disservice to the Indian sports fans. Its almost as if the cricket team is BCCI's and not India's (which is the legal reality). So they might as well stop associating the Indian flag for the Men in Blue.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

RIP Norman Gordon

Norman Gordon (South Africa) (1911-2014)

Cricket's first and till date only ever centurion against time bids farewell.

Well played Sir.

The longest lived Test cricketer - a record which will stand for some time.

Arbit Stats #34

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

India in England, 2014 - Numbers Don't Lie

Chart above shows the Test-by-Test batting average comparison for Pataudi Trophy. And while it is often said that numbers hide more than they reveal, the above chart tells the entire series story.

1st Test - India & England both had their moments, both tails showed fight. And India ground out a draw with a fighting 3rd innings display taking out the time. England marginally ahead in the averages on account of their small first innings lead.

2nd Test - It was a low scoring match and India were ahead. With time in hand India won.

3rd Test - The one that changed it all. Big score by England, India could not avoid follow-on. England did not enforce the follow-on and then ran through the Indian 2nd innings. Hence the big gulf in the averages.

4th & 5th Tests - India bat first, score smaller and smaller. England score bigger and bigger. 2nd time around India go worse. And England are not required to bat again.

While England picked up their batting after Lords (and their bowling as well), India went lower and lower.
Overall series averages: England - 43.69; India - 25.74. A difference of nearly 18 runs/wicket certainly indicates a wide gulf in class of the two batting units.

Overall, a terrible performance by Indian batsmen.

Monday, August 18, 2014

India in England, 2014

After the 2nd Test in Lord's, England was the team in disarray. Cook's captaincy was in question, Prior had taken a possibly career-ending break, the attitude and form of many senior players was in question, the batting had been found out by India's seam bowling, there was no proper spinning option. All signs pointed to a prolonged summer of agony for the English. While the Indian  fans exulted. This was going to be the balm of the pain caused by the summer and winter of 2011. 

And then...
After the 5th Test, just vice versa. Replace England and its personnel by their counterparts in the Indian team. The entire script turned on its head when Ishant Sharma's injury replacement Pankaj Singh had Cook dropped by Ravindra Jadeja. One moment changed the entire course of a series.

Can't really even begin to analyse what went wrong as the mind is numbed by the manner of the defeats handed out in the last 3 Tests. So venting out my feelings through powerpoint (picture above).

After such a performance, drastic measures are required. And not just changing the players or the captain. The coaching staff should be the first one on the firing line. But will the stubborn Indian cricket management respond?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Arbit Stats 32: Duck Tales

India vs England, 4th Test, Old Trafford
India win the the Toss, elect to bat first and have a nightmarish innings.

Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneswar Kumar & Pankaj Singh all got out without troubling the scorers. And with this India claimed the record for most ducks (6) in the first innings having elected to bat first after winning the toss.

Also they share the unwanted record of the most ducks in a Test innings with South Africa and Bangladesh.

Monday, July 21, 2014


300th entry on this blog. Coinciding with an amazing win at Lords with India bowlers bouncing out the opposition. So pardon my self-indulgence for feeling like this

A time for some self congratulations. The scoring rate has certainly slowed down but the posts will keep on coming.

But this post is about this little cricket blog. 
  • Named after Ian Bell's tendency to score centuries only if another batsman had scored one in the innings. An anomaly which Bell (also named the patron saint of this blog) has since corrected. 
  • Also the only dedicated blog covering Jharkhand cricket and its cricketers. 
  • Arbit Stats which appear with their own random frequency. 
  • However what this blog is not? A newspaper trying to cover every occurrence in the cricketing world.

300 posts in almost 5 years of dedicated cricket blogging. Some of the posts have managed to make an appearance on other forums as well. Special thanks to forum moderators.
  • Die Hard Cricket Fans (Link)
  • Sportskeeda (Link)

Thanks to all the readers across the forums for keeping the blogs going. 

Next target Lara's 400 mark :P

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Arbit Stats 31: Sting in the Tail

The Arbit Statistics return after a long hiatus. There were many reasons for this. Lack of motivation & laziness to write a post being the prime cause of this gap. Lack of cricket and arbit stats were certainly not one of them. But with India touring England for the fullest of the full tours, some arbitrary statistics were bound to appear, alongwith the enthusiasm to note them down.

Test Match No. 2128: England vs India at Trent Bridge, presented something never seen or heard before in the long history of the game. On a lifeless pitch more akin to Nagpur than Nottingham (a metaphor I have borrowed from a forgotten source), both sets of bowlers managed to prise out 9 wickets for a reasonable score. And then lightning struck. TWICE. First India's Numbers 9 & 11 Bhuvaneshwar & Shami helped themselves to their maiden Test half centuries, reached off consecutive balls of James Anderson.In the process they also picked up a century partnership for themselves. Guess this must have really hurt Anderson's pride. So when the England number 11 came out to bat with England in a lot of trouble, he proceeded to get his own maiden first class half century and alongwith Joe Root also managed to compile the biggest 10th wicket Test partnership of all time.

So Bhuvi, Shami, Root & Jimmy combined together and against each other to make this the first Test match ever to feature two 100+ 10th wicket partnerships. Well, everything does happen for the first time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mankading & "Spirit of Cricket"

Mankading - the act of a bowler running out the non-striker batsman before bowling the ball has always been a source of needless controversy. 

In fact for some weird reason it has become a test of the "sportsman spirit" of a bowler who does not do the "Mankad". Cortney Walsh has received a medal for not running out Salim Yousuf. But if the bowler does Mankad, like Sachitra Senanayake did to Jos Buttler, all hell breaks lose. The bowler and the fielding captain are accused of having destroyed "the spirit of cricket" - the greatest crime imaginable in the gentlemans's game.

Well here are my two bits on Mankading.
It is within the laws of the game. In fact there is a specific law for the situation, hence no ambiguity is possible. Law 42(15) states - "The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker. Whether the attempt is succesful or not, the ball shall not count as one of the over. If the bowler fails to run out the non-striker, the umpire shall call and signal Dead ball as soon as possible". 

So if there exists a specific law which states what are the consequences of a bowler breaking the stumps with the non-striker outside his crease, then why the hue and cry? The "spirit of cricket" has already been murdered many a time (Fixing, Corruption, Walking/Not walking etc.) by different sets of players, officials and administrators. Guess that is why it exists in "spirit" form.

Here the batsman was wandering outside the crease and with run-out decisions sometimes become a matter of TV frames, then it does become an advantage for the non-striker to back up as far ahead as possible. In this case, Buttler had been warned twice by Senanayake in his previous over. (Which is where the matter of cricket's spirit should rest, which seemingly is not the case). And when Buttler was found wandering out again he was run-out. A result very rightly deserved. 

So the right decision was taken on action justified and well within the laws and more importantly the previous over Senanayake having shown the proper "spirit" also, guess Buttler should have nothing to complain about. Don't see any justifications for the hue and cry it has raised.  Nor do I see why the batsman is being portrayed as a victim, when its his own actions which are to be blamed for his fate.

To me its clear, Senanayake and the rest were well within their rights to run-out Buttler. And no harm was caused to the so called "spirit of the game".

Closing Notes - a couple of interesting exhibits on Mankading
Exhibit A - The original report on Mankading

Exhibit B - Chris Gayle showing "spirit" of game. Again the dancing might not be agreeable to the believers in the Gentlemen's game.

Now its up to ICC to either (a) tinker with the laws, which they love to do a lot; OR (b) tell the players that Mankading does no harm done to the "spirit of cricket" 

Monday, June 2, 2014

IPL7: The AfterThoughts

The 7th edition of the Indian Premier League has come to an end. And Congratulations to Kolkata Knight Riders for their second IPL title. After an embarrassing defeat to Rajasthan in which they lost 6 wickets for 2 runs they have really lifted their game and were deserving winners in the end.

Now the time to note down some after-thoughts (not a review) from this year's IPL.
  • The Impossible Chases - The tougher the ask, the higher the stakes, the more seemingly easy it becomes to chase it down. The team batting second knows the target and also the fact that they can only win if they go slam-bang from the first ball. And apparently this belief is actually carrying them to victory. Examples - KKR chased down 160 in under 15 overs to finish 2nd in the League; Mumbai Indians chased 191 in 14.3 to enter the qualifiers; CSK blitzed 100 in 6 overs in a chase of 227; Rajasthan smashed 65 in 3 overs to win with an over to spare. And it all culminated in the final with KKR chasing down 200.
  • The previous edition of the IPL was under the spot-fixing cloud. This year, thankfully, no such corruption allegations have emerged, as yet (fingers crossed). Though given the Lou Vincent & Player X stories coming out, sceptics want to see everything through tinted glasses. And that is the damage which has been done by the fixers.
  • The IPL unfolds like a story. Its a little long drawn but this year's script had the perfect climax. The events from the last set of league matches down to the final must have been the perfect dream run for the marketing teams.
  • The final stretch also highlighted the importance of the "Indian" part of the IPL. Manan Vohra, Wriddhiman Saha, Manish Pandey, Akshar Patel, Yusuf Pathan & Piyush Chawla in the final; Sehwag & Raina in the eliminator. It was mostly an Indian show towards the end.
  • Congratulations to Yusuf Pathan, for becoming the first player to be part of 3 IPL winning squads - once with Rajasthan and twice with KKR.
  • Special congratulations to Vinay Kumar, Roni Uthappa & Manish Pandey for winning their 4th domestic title of the year - Irani Trophy, Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy & the IPL.
  • Special Mention - Suresh Raina. He is the IPL GOAT (Greatest of All Time). The highest scores across seasons is the most reliable batsman and fielder in IPL with the happy habit of taking key wickets as well. And most importantly performing in crunch matches. The blitzkrieg against Kings XI was one to be remembered, though in a losing cause.
  • The umpiring standards in India are pretty poor. But the umpires are under far greater scrutiny than ever before. Its a tough ask made tougher by the technological hindsight provided to everyone except the people responsible for making decisions.
  • The Club vs Country Conundrum - This is not going to end ever. And the only one who has a right to make a decision is the player concerned. Though the club and the country do both need to have a slightly flexible approach in the matters. Sunil Narine chose to play in the IPL final over joining a West Indies Test camp. He did produce his worst performance of the season. Maybe this off-field drama was to be blamed or maybe he just had a bad day in office. But no player should have to make such choices.
  • And finally a word on the winners - Kolkata Knight Riders was a team made up mostly of India discards. But one by one all the pieces fell in place - Uthappa, Gambhir, Umesh, Chawla, Shakib, Narine, Surya Yadav and Manish Pandey - they became the strongest team in the whole lineup. A couple of them even made their India comebacks.
  • And a word about the final - Sony Max couldn't resist playing Veer Zaara right before the finals :P

So the IPL fest concludes and now back to serious cricket. Tours of Bangladesh and England beckon for the team. Its a good idea to test the bench strength in the Bangladesh ODI series (only good use this hastily arranged series can have).  And then off to a 5-Test series against England. Hopefully results will be drastically different from the 2011 tour. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

IPL7: Notes#3

The League part of the Indian Premier League is over. Congratulations to Kings XI Punjab for winning the League. Oh wait.... the IPL is still not over. The top 4 have to now go through a seemingly complicated (albeit more fair) elimination process to decide the champions of IPL7. 

Some thoughts on the India phase of the league (For UAE phase, click here)
  • Chennai Super Kings are the consistency personified. 7th consecutive knock-out phase entry doesn't surprise anyone.
  • Defending champions Mumbai Indians recovered marvelously from pathetic start to just about enter the knock-outs by the skin of the teeth with net run rate calculations being as much in focus as the actual match result. (Detailed post tomorrow or maybe not)
  • Rajasthan Royals have always been a fan favorite team, in spite of the spot-fixing scandal. They have been unorthodox in their selections also but this time over-experimentation caused an early unexpected end to their campaign.
  • T20 cricket has emboldened batsmen. The bigger the target, the likelihood of it getting chased down somehow becomes higher. With batsmen under no pressure, even 15 an over does not seem too big an ask. KKR, Kings XI, Mumbai Indians all produced one astonishing chase after the other.
  • If CSK as a team are consistency personified, Robin Uthappa was the epitome of a consistent batsman. Nine 40+ innings in a row in a format which is designed to be unpredictable will take some beating.
  • Amit Mishra had a horror tournament after a good return to the national side. But it was as a batsman that he provided the "highlight" of the tournament with this extreme run-out against Rajasthan Royals. (Video)This one was straight from the Inzamam school of run-outs. [Aside - 23 run-out collection here]
  • Apurva Wankhade was fielding in a stadium carrying his name. Would like to know how many similar stadium-player combinations are there.
  • When the batsmen are in a rampaging mood, even the likes of Dale Steyn become lambs to slaughter. Steyn getting hammered twice (by AB de Villiers & Yusuf Pathan) wasn't a pleasant sight to behold. But what was pleasing was the way a smiling Steyn applauded his opponents. The kind of moments which make sports special.
  • Indian seamers stated well, but by the end of the league stage Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was the last man standing. Mohit Sharma was the other one to have enhanced his reputation.
  • As always, the future of Indian batting seems in good hands with Sanju Samson, Karun Nair, Manan Vohra all playing key parts.
Till next time

Friday, May 2, 2014

IPL7: Notes #2

The UAE leg of the IPL is over. Every team has now played 5 games each and some paaterns are beginning to emerge. Yet its still a long way to go and as it is said in sports - "It ain't over till its over". Here are a few random thoughts & memories form the games so far.

  • Catches Win Matches - The old adage still holds true. If you need proof, just check Chris Lynn's effort which changed the course of the KKR-RCB game. Also a high number of catches have been dropped which have enabled some batsmen to simply blaze away.
  • Steve Smith's cool-headedness in calmly tapping away Sunil Narine for two, instead of going for glory in the Super Over [Aside - if you have a system of counting 6s & 4s, why have the Super Over business at all?]
  • Indian fast bowling is suddenly looking in good health with the likes of Zaheer, Bhuvneshwar and Aaron leading the charge. Then we have Sandeep Sharma, Vinay Kumar & Balaji also putting in good performances. Either the pitches have all seamed around or the bowling has been exceptionally good.
  • India's batsmen somehow have not fired with the exception of Rahane and Manish Pandey.
  • The Mumbai Indians advisory board has a better chance of success than their playing XI. Just why have they managed to let so many of their existing players go off to other franchisees is confusing to say the least. The likes of Maxwell, Dwayne Smith, Chahal, Dhawal Kulkarni, Suryakumar Yadav are some of the names who should have been in the Mumbai team
  • Chennai Super Kings seem to have shrugged off their off-field distractions and are back into their sail-into-the-knockouts-form
  • The RCB squad looked a batting powerhouse but is looking more like a powermouse (to quote the interim BCCI head Sunil Gavaskar). 70 all out against Rajasthan Royals being a a case in point.
  • Keeping the uncapped players into the auction has actually limited the number of potential backup players.
  • The schedule is a little lopsided. Now some of the franchisees have 5 "home" games while others have 4 remaining. For all practical purposes the UAE leg was neutral to all all concerned. Although the defintion of "home: and "away" is getting quite blurred in some cases..e.g. With Dhoni captaining CSK, who will dare to term KKR as the home team in tonight's encounter in Ranchi?
Till next time...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

IPL Expendables XI: 2014 Edition

During the last edition of IPL, I had prepared a team of grizzled, battle-hardened veterans. And inspired by the movie franchisee had named it as the IPL Expendables XI. And having started it have decided to compile a similar list this year.

The list had to undergo a major revamp as lots of the Expendables cast have finally hung up their boots. Though some of them are have taken non-combat roles in different teams (like the Mickey Rourke character in the first Expendables movie). With fresh auctions held this year, only 3 of last year's XI have survived. Sachin, Ponting, Dravid, Gilchrist & Agarkar have all retired. Hogg & Badrinath have not been picked while Sourav Ganguly is now showing signs of permanent retirement. Only Tambe, Murali and Shukla have survived into this edition.

This year's list was tougher to make and so I had to make a few concessions defining a veteran (but then Jason Statham is a key cast member of the Expendables and he is still in his prime). Sticking to the IPLpolicy of maximum 4 foreign players in the Eleven made it just that bit more difficult. 

  1. Michael Hussey - Mr. Cricket is the perfect person to open the batting for this veteran's lineup. This year has been picked by Mumbai Indians who do like having seniors playing and opening for them.
  2. Virender Sehwag - The man who destroyed many a bowling attack but now is a pale shadow of his former self. Coming off a very poor Ranji season but got a century for MCC. Lets see if any of the fire is still left.
  3. Jacques Kallis - Statistically the greatest all-rounder of all time. Recently retired from test cricket but is available for selection in the limited overs setup where South Africa do not pick him. Has been the goto man for his all round skills  for all Fantasy Leaguers.
  4. Brad Hodge - After years of being ignored he has made a comeback into the Australian national T20 squad. Also has scored the most runs ever in the T20 format.
  5. MS Dhoni (c & wk) - With Gilchrist having retired and Sangakkara not being picked, the choice of a veteran wicket keeper for the Expendables was very difficult. But given how much Dhoni has greyed over the years, he looks perfect for this team.
  6. Laxmi Ratan Shukla - Retains his spot from last year. Still plays Ranji and still plays the occasional IPL game though hasn't played for India this millenium.
  7. Muttiah Muralitharan - he retired from international cricket around the time IPL started. And in the seventh edition, he is still around. Though this might turn out to be one season to many for the highest wicket-taker in test cricket.
  8. Murali Kartik - One of the mysteries of Indian team selection has been the way they have handled left-arm spinners. Last time he played for India picked up a 6-wicket haul against Australia but never got picked again. English counties though love him and he is the only Indian to have played for a non-IPL team in the Champions League.
  9. Ashish Nehra - Last act in international cricket was getting a finger broken while attempting a diving catch in the World Cup semi-finals against Pakistan. Still hanging around the domestic circuit. Outscored Sehwag during the last Ranji season.
  10. Laxmipathy Balaji - The smiling assassin. Destroyed and bowler over Pakistan but injuries ruined a potentially great Indian career. However IPL has helped him make a couple of comebacks into the national team.
  11. Pravin Tambe - Made his first appearance in senior cricket in last year's IPL at the young age of 42. A decent IPL followed by a great Champions League and Tambe was made his first clss debut for Mumbai as well. A story of never giving up on the dreams.
There were a few other contenders (likes of Ryan ten Doeschate, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan etc.) but they may have to wait a season or two to make an appearance in the Expendables starcast. Not as populated with big names as last year but this team certainly won't be pushovers.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

India's 1st Test on film

Found a video claiming to be from India's first Test Match on video, dating 1951. Footage has shots of players walking into the ground, players meeting President Dr. Rajendra Prasad with photo sessions, crowds sitting right at the edge of the boundary, negligible security, hawkers selling their products, Newspapers transformed as hats, players in all whites, and no commentary
India XI vs MCC XI played at Ferozeshah Kotla, Delhi (Scorecard)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

IPL7: Notes #1

The 7th edition of the Indian Premier League has commenced outside India, in an area which is
  • known for being the hub of many fixing activities
  • and the global headquarters of ICC
  • and the current "home-ground" for a country whose players are not picked for playing in the tournament.
1st round of games have taken place. Nothing much to read on the cricketing front given the very narrow sample size currently available. Hence not making any comments on any of the team performances, yet. However special mentions for 
  • Glenn Maxwell, living upto the million dollar hype
  • Yuvraj Singh, for shrugging off those cricket fans idiots who threw stones at his house after the World T20 final, and
  • little Parthiv Patel, for dispatching the ball into orbit
Now for the main agenda items. Something very weird is going on with the coverage here. The rights are with Sony who earlier used to telecast it on Max. Then they launched a dedicated sports channel Sony Six. Also someone realized that having Hindi commentary would reach out to a far bigger audience. So till last year Max had English commentary and newly launched Six had Hindi. This time they have inter-changed it. Any particular reason? Can't be just to increase viewership for Six because that would definitely happen come June-July with the Football World Cup. 

Also Star Sports has well and truly ambushed the telecast. Paid live telecast and free "5 minute delayed" telecast are available online on . Also includes lots of marketing for the Star group. This has to be the heights of ambush marketing. Sony having to telecast Star Sports logo.

However the weirdest coverage is by cricinfo. They have stopped calling it the IPL all together. All coverage is of the Indian T20 league with the teams beings referred not by their name but as Jaipur T20 or Bangalore T20 etc. Now BCCI and online text commentary sites have been at loggerheads for quite sometime but this is weird. Also does it have anything to do with the Star Sports  and ESPN split? After all cricinfo is owned by ESPN.

Random Notes
  • Where did these cheerleaders arrive from? Weren't they supposed to be banned or is the ban applicable only in matches held in India?
  • There is now a camera on the cap of the umpire? How much more scrutiny are we going to subject the poor umpires to?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


16th April, 2014 Marks the start of another edition of the IPL. An edition where the actual on-field cricketing action has gotten more and more overshadowed.

Firstly, like in 2009, the IPL dates are clashing with the General elections. So the "Indian" Premier League will hold some of its opening games outside India. Unlike 2009, however most of the matches will be held in India  this time. But it does raise questions about the so called "strength" and "aspiring superpower" status of a country which cannot hold a cricket tournament during election time. 

Secondly, the continuing shadow of last year's fixing scandals. Agree, some players have been punished (quite heavily also). But what about the rest? Many other names have been dragged into the controversy. Couple of team owners are accused of betting. Some are suspected of match fixing. Current players may or may not have been named as those involved in the Mudgal Committee report. So many clouds of fixing hanging around and of all places IPL moves to UAE, the so called hub of all such activities. But then ICC itself is headquartered in Dubai. So no further comments.

Thirdly, the entire matter is subjudice. The Board president has been asked to step off by none other than the Supreme Court (a decision which is beyond my understanding - Can Courts interfere in running of private bodies without having come to any conclusion?). And to add to the irony quotient, the Court hearing and IPL launch happen on the same day.

Amidst all this, the actual cricket finally commences. Lots of legends have finally retired. In fact, I will have to create an almost all new Expendables XI this time around. Many team changes have happened. Its back to an 8 team format. And I am still looking for a team to support.

Will I follow the tournament? Of course, I am an Indian and even our Honorable Supreme Court thinks the IPL should go on. After all as they say cricket is a religion in India and matters of faith are even higher than the court of law. 

So all set to follow the cricketing part of the IPL. Hoping that no new controversies (off-field come about). And the guilty from the past don't go unpunished.

Let the Games (both on and off the field) begin.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Omerta & Indian Cricket

Omerta - Or the Code of Silence
As per wikipedia, Omertà implies "the categorical prohibition of cooperation with state authorities or reliance on its services, even when one has been victim of a crime".

There is a Godfather like figure heading the organisation. He has appointed his key consigliori all around himself. Key henchmen are given important positions in his own organisations. His immediate family are also brought in. They bring with them their own addictions (gambling issues). But the Godfather manages to run the business. He has also built relations with other Mafia families around the world mostly based on being the head of the richest mafia family. Politicians across the spectrum have been given minor stakes in the mafiadom as well as various businesses. There is also enough glamour quotient brought in by the movie stars He also has enough influence to ensure that anyone not showing him respect are isolated. The organisation also presents some nice, honest people as their public faces. 

All was going on fine till the authorities managed to catch some foot soldiers doing petty crimes with towels as tell-tale evidence. The authorities tried and tried hard but the Omerta prevails. Law makes headway but dislodging the Godfather is not an easy task. A bunch of lawyers from the Godfather side goes on the overdrive. Investigating officers get suspended, some of the media gets gagged. But the efforts of the Judges do bear some fruit. Law yet prevails but only manages to ensure that the Godfather is not in direct command. The chief business will be run as usual because that is what the public wants.

Sounds like a plot from a Mario Puzo novel. Or it could also be the tale of the Indian cricket administration. It is not too hard to extend this corollary from the Italian Mafia Clans to Indian Cricket. Given all the goings on, specially off the field, one will not be surprised if one fine day, somebody does break the all encompassing "Omerta" and we find that the board was being run more like a mafia style organisation than a body for managing the administration of cricket in India.

The latest Supreme Court decisions hopefully should be the beginning of a massive clean up of Indian cricket. Another opportunity has presented itself to all the stakeholders to come out with the truth. Hopefully truth prevails. There should be only one winner in this increasingly murky state of affairs - the Indian cricket fan - the only genuine stakeholder in this game.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rahul Dravid - The Dark Knight?

The marvelous world of internet memes can throw up some real gems
Take this, for example, combining two of my favorites. No further words need to be said.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Arbit Stats - 30

June 16, 2013 - Corey Anderson makes his ODI debut
January 1, 2014 - Corey Anderson hits his 1st ODI century (in his 7th ODI) in the process also smashing the record for the fastest  ODI century of all time.
January 25, 2014 - Corey Anderson takes his 1st 5-wicket haul on ODIs against India (in his 12th ODI).

Thus he breaks the record for the least number of games (12) for a player to record  a century & take a 5-wicket haul in ODI cricket. Previous record holder being Greg Chappell who achieved this distinction in 16 games.

Amongst other tings he has done his IPL credentials a world of good.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ranji Trophy 13-14: Jharkhand Season Review

Match Summary: Punjab (516) defeated Jharkhand (216 & 127) by an innings and 173 runs
Points: Jharkhand 0, Punjab 7

An absolute thrashing, Disaster in Dhanbad - I would call it. And with this defeat and Haryana securing 3 points against Odisha, Jharkhand head back to Group C. Only highlight from this game would be Rameez Nemat's opening knocks in both innings.

Season Review
Nothing much to write about Jharkhand's performance this season. It has been a disappointing season on most counts. No wins at all and 3 losses including those to Odisha and Haryana. last year's quarter-finalists finish bottom of Group A and are now relegated to group C (alongwith their fellow promotee Services who also head back to after one season in Group B). Somehow I feel given the group compositions, qualifying would be easier from Group C despite only 2 teams getting selected from that group. Maybe BCCI could look at evening out the groups and having different qualification knockout format.

The season's highlight would be the performance against Mumbai. Even in that there was a chance to go for a win which Jharkhand did not go for. This did prove quite crucial in the end.

Saurabh Tiwary was consistent throughout the season with 238 (out of a total of 351) against Mumbai being the highlight. This incidentally is the highest first class score by any Jharkhand batsman. Unfortunately most of the time Tiwary was fighting a lone battle while the rest of the batting collapsed around him.

Varun Aaron came back from injury and had a decent enough season which earned him a recall to the Indian national team. But more would have been expected of him. 

The skipper Shahbaz Nadeem had a decent all round year but did not match last year's levels.

Overall the team seemed out of depth against the Group A teams. Also the imports Thaker & Thakkar were not really upto mark and by the end of the season both had been dropped from the playing XI. I think getting average first class players from other states certainly will not help the team's cause. The likes of Aakash Chopra, Kanitkar, S Sriram, Amol Mazumdar are the ones the team should target (not necessarily the same ones). 

Season Stats
Leading Scorers
Saurabh Tiwary - 854 runs @65.69
Rameez Nemat - 472 runs @42.91
Ishank Jaggi - 373 runs @28.69

Top Innings - Saurabh Tiwary - 238 vs Mumbai

Most Wickets
Shahbaz Nadeem - 21 @34.05
Varun Aaron - 20 @21.95
Samar Quadri - 17 @24.53

Top Performance - Samar Quadri - 6/65 vs Vidarbha

Hoping for a much better Ranji season next year. 

Coming up Next - Vijay Hazare Trophy in the first week of March.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Arbit Stats 29

England are getting whipped in the ongoing Ashes. They are heading, no hurtling towards a 5-0 series whitewash. Many factors can be attributed to this thrashing. Lots of post-mortem reports will be prepared. But one stat will stand out to give the extent of the chasm between the two teams.

969 - The aggregate score of the English batsmen in the 1st innings of the 5 Tests.
1071 - The aggregate score of the Australian tail (wickets 6-10) in the 1st innings of the 5 Tests.

Australia have outplayed England totally. And nothing sums the dominance more than the above stat.