Thursday, December 7, 2017

Cricket in "The Big Bang Theory"

I am a big fan of the Sitcom "The Big Bang Theory". However, found a very weird line in one of the recent episodes

Our favorite desi astrophysicist, Dr. Rajesh Koothrapalli, takes his friend Howard Wolowitz to a sports bar, where a cricket match is being telecast live. And while explaining the game to a bored Howard, comes up with this line."That's Ravichandran Ashwin, he is amazing. He makes Bhuvaneswar Kumar seem like Hardik Pandya!" A confused Howard replies with "thats too many syllables", while a confused me pauses the episode, rewinds and is clearly bamboozled by what the meaning of that line could be. A couple of attempts makes it clear that the statement has no meaning in the cricketing sense. 

However, the show goes on. And on the scene arrives Ruchi, who is equally cricket-crazy. And they get into a discussion on India's chances in World Cup (which one?) which solely rests on Kohli's form. (Now that is completely true). 

Ruchi meanwhile wants the bowler to break the batsmen's (who isn't mentioned) leg. I assume the over must have changed in the interim otherwise hollering Ashwin to bowl yorkers? And the duo discuss being present at the ground to witness Shoaib Akhtar's two consecutive yorkers in Eden Gardens to Dravid & Tendulkar (last few details assumed by me).

So three random names, Kohli's form being key to India's World Cup chances, yorkers, and their deadly use by Shoaib Akhtar in Eden Gardens (Video). Thats a whole lot of cricket in the Big Bang!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ranji Trophy 17-18: Jharkhand vs Gujarat

Match Summary: Gujarat (411 & 16/0) beat Jharkhand (242 & 183(f/o)) by 10 wickets
Points: Gujarat 7, Jharkhand 0

And the terrible season ends with another big defeat, at the hands of the defending champions Gujarat. Jharkhand were never in the running in this game and were outplayed completely. Nothing really to write about except Kumar Deobrat's twin fifties.

Overall a very disappointing season especially after last year's run to the semi-finals. Too much chopping and changing went on. We suffered from the absence of Shahbaz Nadeem due to India A duty, during the initial games, then Saurabh Tiwary had a bad run of form. Ishank Jaggi got 3 consecutive centuries but not much beyond that. Overall, the team did not click as a unit except for one game. On the bright side, Nazim Siddiqui's debut season was solid. Should get a decent run.

  • Playing XI:Changes - too many of them!
    • In:  Virat Singh, Ashish Kumar, Ajay Yadav
    • Out: Saurabh Tiwary, Sunny Gupta, Sonu Singh
  • Shahbaz Nadeem led the side in Tiwary's absence
  • 350 FC wickets for Nadeem
  • Kumar Deobrat recorded his highest FC score of 80.
Season Stats
  • Top Scorers: 
    • Ishan Kishan - 484 @44.00
    • Nazim Siddiqui - 474 @43.09
    • Ishank Jaggi - 448 @44.80
  • Top Wicket-taker: 
    • Shahbaz Nadeem - 18 @32.83
    • Sunny Gupta - 17 @25.47
    • Varun Aaron - 15 @29.93
  • Player Count: 20
  • Captain Count: 3
Points Tally - 8 after 6 games. Finishing 6th in the group

Coming Up Next
Vijay Hazare Trophy in mid-February. Let's see if any of the players make an appearance in the Rest of India squad for the Irani Trophy.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Ranji Trophy 17-18: Jharkhand vs Jammu & Kashmir

Match Summary: Jammu & Kashmir (376 & 265/9d) beat Jharkhand (292/9d & 243) by 106 runs
Points: Jammu & Kashmir 6, Jharkhand 0

After the highs of last season, we reach the lows! Jharkhand lost to Jammu & Kashmir by 106 runs, thus ending all hopes for a knock-out berth. But it was heartening to see them play for a win on 4th day when they could have easily settled for a draw. There were good opening partnerships in both innings but not much to follow after that. Have to give credit to the team for the audacious attempt at the 4th innings chase. But they were simply outplayed by the J&K team.

Too much chopping and changing going on in the team!

  • Playing XI:Changes - too many of them!
    • In: Utkarsh Singh, Anand Singh, Kumar Deobrat (all in their first appearance of the season), Sunny Gupta
    • Out: Kaushal Singh, Ashish Kumar, Shasheem Rathour, Sumit Kumar (who was the star in the previous game!)
  • Utkarsh Singh makes his first-class debut and first taste of senior cricket. Had been part of India U19s earlier this year. Decent performance on debut!
  • Ishan Kishan crossed the landmark of 2000 FC runs in his 31st game.
Season Stats
  • Top Scorer: Ishan Kishan - 427 @47.44
  • Top Wicket-taker: Sunny Gupta - 17 @25.47
  • Player Count: 20
  • Captain Count: 2
Points Tally - 8 after 5 games. Drop down to 5th and out of contention of the Quarter-finals.

Coming Up Next
Jharkhand take a break in the next round before taking on defending champions Gujarat in the last round. They can play spoilport for others though!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Ranji Trophy 17-18: Jharkhand vs Saurashtra

Match Summary: Saurashtra (553/9d & 59/4) beat Jharkhand (270 &341 (f/o)) by 6 wickets
Points: Saurashtra 6, Jharkhand 0

Cheteshwar Pujara has had a lean patch in recent times and he chose this very match to come back into form! In the process shattering the record for the most double centuries by an Indian batsman. For some reason Ranji, after whom the Trophy is named is not counted as an Indian batsman!!

Jharkhand were simply outplayed by the Saurashtra side. Although there were some passages of play when they were on top. In the first innings after taking down the first 4 Saurashtra wickets quickly. And in the entertaining passage of play following-on when Nazim Siddiqui and Sumit Kumar were going at over 5 runs per over. Siddiqui was unlucky to miss out on a century by a whisker - out for 99 off just 75 balls! With the ball, they did knock off 4 Saurashtra wickets while defending a meager target of 59.

The result makes the task of qualifying even more difficult.

  • Playing XI:Changes: 
    • In: Sumit Kumar, Sonu Singh, (both in their first appearance of the season), Ashish Kumar
    • Out: Jaskaran Singh, Sunny Gupta, Virat SIngh
  • Maiden first-class century for Sumit Kumar, who also kept wickets, while Ishan Kishan played as a pure batsman.
  • First-class century #18 for Ishank Jaggi, also his 3rd of the season.
  • 50 FC wickets for Ashish Kumar in his 15th game
Season Stats
  • Top Scorer: Ishank Jaggi - 399 @66.50
  • Top Wicket-taker: Sunny Gupta - 15@20.20
  • Player Count: 17
  • Captain Count: 2
Points Tally - 8 after 4 games. Stayed at 4th. However, the gap with Top 3 has widened quite a bit. Need outright victories in both remaining games to stay in contention.

Coming Up Next
Jammu & Kashmir who are in the 6th place.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Farewell Nehraji!

T20I #630: India vs New Zealand, Feroz Shah Kotla, New Delhi

It wasn’t just another game. This one had context - the increasingly elusive factor in the modern sport!. After all it was the farewell match for Ashish Nehra, more popularly known as Nehraji. 

He hasn’t had the greatest career of them. Over the course of his stop-start 18-year international career he missed more matches than he played (17 Tests in 18 years - thats a telling statistic!). Injuries being the prime reason for keeping him away especially from the longest format. His career was in phases. A sudden start with a one-off Test appearance. Followed by becoming a regular for a few years in both formats. Then a gap, followed by a regular limited overs spot. And then when it seemed all over, a T20 international career at the very fag end! The returns may not have been outstanding but they were rewarding. A World Cup Winners and runners-up medals. Not many players can lay claim to that! And he got a grand farewell at his home ground – something which has eluded many a cricketing great in India!

After a long career, bowling your last over from an end named after you (albeit temporarily) cheered on by tens of thousands of spectators and then carried for a lap of honour by your team-mates! Endings don’t come more fairy-tailish than this!

So what memories of Nehraji will be retained!
  • That awkward action! How did it keep going on for so long!
  • That spell vs England in Durban in the 2003 World Cup! Swinging the ball like a banana and then puking a banana on the ground. The best swing bowling display ever by an Indian bowling combo!
  • The now infamous video of abusing a newbie Dhoni for not going for Afridi’s catch. A very justified reaction!
  • That picture with a very young Virat Kohli, who would later on go on to captain him in his last game! The circle of life. 
  • There was a time when Nehraji was out of the national squad but playing in Ranji. I recall Cricinfo having a dedicated Ashish Nehra section in the regular roundup!
  • Nonchalantly hitting the ball away in the air when he is the last man on crease with a single required to win against New Zealand!
  • Those comical fielding attempts! Missing the 2011 World Cup Final due to an injury suffered while attempting to take a diving catch in the semi-finals against Pakistan!
  • The frank interviews especially in the last stages of his career! That endearing revelation that in today's time, he still did not use a smartphone!
Nehraji, may you give you body some peace now. He certainly wasn't the greatest (ignore all the sentimentalist feelings after the retirement), but he certainly was an entertainer! Thanks for all the wonderful memories.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Ranji Trophy 17-18: Jharkhand vs Haryana

Match Summary: Haryana (208 & 296) lost to Jharkhand (425/9d & 81/0)
Points: Jharkhand 7, Haryana 0

The return of Shahbaz Nadeem bolstered Jharkhand as they romped home to a 10 wicket victory over Haryana. They knocked out Haryana quickly after having lost the toss. The top order failed but the middle and lower order took them to a big lead. After knocking over the Haryana top order in the 2nd innings, Jharkhand must have started scenting an innings victory. But there was some stubborn resistance, which lasted well into the final session. But the young openers chased down the target with ease and also secured a bonus point. 

  • Playing XI:Changes: 
    • In: Shahbaz Nadeem, Shasheem Rathour (both in their first appearance of the season), Varun Aaron
    • Out: Babul Kumar, Ajay Yadav, Ashish Kumar 
  • Saurabh Tiwary continues to captain the side
  • First-class century #17 for Ishank Jaggi which turned the game in Jharkhand's favour.
  • Ishan Kishan crosses the landmark of 50 catches in his 29th game.
  • 14th career 5-wicket haul for Shahbaz Nadeem
  • 50th first-class game for Sunny Gupta
Season Stats
  • Top Scorer: Ishan Kishan - 271 @54.20
  • Top Wicket-taker: Sunny Gupta - 15@20.20
  • Player Count: 15
  • Captain Count: 2
Points Tally - 8 after 3 games. Moved up 2 places to 4th.

Coming Up Next
Saurashtra who are in the top spot.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ranji Trophy 17-18: Jharkhand vs Rajasthan

Match Summary: Rajasthan (423) drew with Jharkhand (262 & 332/6 (f/o))
Points: Rajasthan 3, Jharkhand 1

The terrible start to the season continues as Jharkhand managed a single point against Rajasthan. Centuries by Amit Gautam and Tajinder Singh helped Rajasthan build up a big total of 423. Jharkhand batsmen did not really get going in reply with only Saurabh Tiwary managing some resistance. Jharkhand were forced to follow-on but they performed much more creditably the second time around to limit the damage and come away with one point from the game.

  • Playing XI:Changes: 
    • In: Jaskaran Singh & Ajay Yadav
    • Out: Varun Aaron & Samar Quadri
  • Saurbah Tiwary captained the side in Varun Aaron's absence
  • Nazim Siddiqui scored his maiden first-class 100 in just his second game and that too on his 23rd birthday! Not a bad birthday gift for himself!
  • First-class century #16 for Ishank Jaggi and a match-saving one at that.
Season Stats
  • Top Scorer: Ishan Kishan - 142 @35.50
  • Top Wicket-taker: Sunny Gupta - 9@19.44
  • Player Count: 13
  • Captain Count: 2
Points Tally - 1 after 2 games. Moved up 1 place to 6th. Need a couple of outright wins to secure qualification.

Coming Up Next
Haryana who are currently in 7th place with no points. However, they have a game in hand. Hopefully Nadeem's return from India A duties will boost the team.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Ranji Trophy 17-18: Jharkhand vs Kerala

Match Summary: Jharkhand (202 & 89) lost to Kerala (259 & 34/1) by 9 wickets
Points: Kerala 6, Jharkhand 0

The worst possible start to the new season losing the opening game! In a low scoring encounter, Jharkhand were on the back-foot from the start. However, being routed out for 89 in the 2nd innings must have been really soul-crushing. They were done in by the all-round efforts of Jalaj Saxena who took 11 wickets and scored a half-century as well. 

Jharkhand certainly missed Shahbaz Nadeem, who is on India A duty.

  • Playing XI: Babul Kumar, Nazim Siddiqui, Virat Singh, Saurabh Tiwary, Ishank Jaggi, Ishan Kishan, Kaushal Singh, Sunny Gupta, Varun Aaron, Ashish Kumar, Samar Quadri.
  • Varun Aaron was leading the side.
  • While most of his team-mates had an outing to forget, Sunny Gupta managed a 6-wicket haul in the first innings.
  • First Class debut for Nazim Siddiqui, also his first official game at the senior level.
  • Kaushal Singh reached the career milestone of a 1000 first-class runs
  • Babul Kumar returned to first-class cricket after nearly 4 years. Innings of two and a duck now follow his maiden game of a single and a duck!
Season Stats
  • Top Scorer: Ishan Kishan - 59 @24.50
  • Top Wicket-taker: Sunny Gupta - 6@16.50
  • Player Count: 11
Points Tally - 0 after 1 game. Placed right at the bottom of the table.

Coming Up Next
Rajasthan who are currently in 4th place with a solitary point form their opening game

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Jharkhand Domestic Schedule: 2017-18

As is wont with Indian Cricket these days, we finally have the schedule for the Domestic season less than a week before its start. And as is also the case, the Domestic tournaments have once again been tinkered with!

Ranji Trophy will be now played in 4 groups of 7 each with the top two qualifying for the knock-outs. Done away in the promotion-relegation system. In the process reducing the minimum number of games for each team from 8 to 6. Vijay Hazare Trophy retains the previous year's format.

Slipstream Cricket will be back in action covering all of Jharkhand's games. Below are Jharkhand's domestic fixtures.

Ranji Trophy
1. October 6-9, 2017, vs Kerala
2. October 14-17, 2017, vs Rajasthan
3. October 24-27, 2017, vs Haryana
4. November 1-4, 2017, vs Saurashtra
5. November 9-13, 2017, vs Jammu & Kashmir 
6. November 25-28, 2017, vs Gujarat (the defending champions)

The knock-out rounds will be played in December, with the the Irani Trophy to be contested in mid-January, 2018.

Vijay Hazare Trophy
1. February 16, 2018, vs Vidarbha
2. February 17, 2018, vs Hyderabad
3. February 19, 2018, vs Services
4. February 22, 2018, vs Saurashtra
5. February 23, 2018, vs Chhattisgarh
6. February 25, 2018, vs Jammu & Kashmir (we just seem to keep running into them!)

The knock-out rounds will be played in March, 2018.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Arbit Stats #67

India vs Australia, Eden Gardens

Hat-tricks - They are rare events. And somehow each manages to become unique in its own respect.

With the wickets of Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins in consecutive balls , Kuldeep Yadav became the first ever player to take a hat-trick in ODIs and U-19 ODIs. He has a hat-trick against Scotland Under-19s as well!

Early days, but looks like this Chinaman is here for the long run!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Pakistan Cricket's New Dawn (?)

3rd March, 2009 
Sri Lankan team is attacked by armed gunmen in Lahore on the way to the Gaddafi Stadium. 7 players and an umpire are injured while 8 Pakistani civilians and policemen are killed. An attack which effectively put an end to international cricket in Pakistan.

12th September, 2017 
More than eight years after the attack, Pakistan hosts a World XI team sent by ICC in the same Gaddafi stadium. Marking the end of the international exile of Pakistan as an international cricketing venue. They did host Zimbabwe earlier and the PSL final. But this was the first big step in the return of international cricket. And could be used as a stepping stone for future engagements.

Just some random thoughts after the first game.
  • Eight and a half years! That’s a pretty long period. This blog did not even exist at that time!
  • What a feeling it must be for the Pakistani players – many of whom would be appearing for the first time in front of their countrymen in their own country. Also first international appearance for Imran Tahir in the country of his birth.
  • How did these games get international status? There are quite a few amongst the World XI ranks who would not even feature in their respective country lineups!
  • This was the first live sporting action, I watched on Discovery Sport! Mostly they are showing horse races.
  • Pakistan’s uniform looked more blue that green. Reminded me of the Kiwi colours during the late 90s.
  • There is a thing about World XIs. This rag-tag bunch always seems to lose.
  • Also kudos to the World XI players for braving it out. If things go well (fingers crossed) they would be hailed as pioneers in the days to come.
Overall a great initiative by the ICC and Pakistan Cricket. Hopefully this will herald better days for cricket and life in Pakistan.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Arbit Stats #66

England vs South Africa, Oval, 2017

Moeen Ali took a hat-trick to hasten South Africa's end in the 3rd Test. A rare happening in itself, this hat-trick was even more unique as it was the first ever hat-trick in Test Match Cricket in which the three dismissed batsmen were all left-handed!

Dean Elgar, Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel - you are an exclusive trio!

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Women In Blue

The World Cup is done and dusted and we are back in the familiar environs of an India-Sri Lanka bilateral series. For one whole month, for a pleasant change it was the Indian women cricketers who were in the spotlight while the Men took a back-seat. 

One victory followed another, as the Women in Blue became the new darlings of the Indian Social Media. Good on-field performances ensured lots of positive coverage as the team went onto reach the Finals. England, West Indies, Pakistan, Sri Lanka were easily tackled before hiccups came in form of losses to South Africa and Australia. But with a semi-final place at stake they got their most emphatic victory over New Zealand to qualify for the knock-outs. A sensational Harmanpreet Kaur century got them into the Finals. However, they faltered at the very last step. Mithali Raj said they panicked. To regular cricket followers, this was simply the classic South African choke which their men's team regularly brings on display at the big tournaments.

Leaving aside the stumble at the last step, it was a remarkable tournament for the Indian team. And not just from a cricketing perspective. After all, they have been runners-up before. But this was the first time that the Women's team was in (well deserved) limelight.  Live coverage of the games, England being in a very Indian viewer-friendly timezone, well promoted, backed up by solid social media coverage and good on-field performances all combined to ensure that for the first time ever, many Indians actually watched a Women's cricket match.

And then there were the players themselves. Mithali Raj lead from the front, batted well and spoke even better. Dismissing a reporter's query on favorite male cricketer, also nonchalantly reading a book while waiting for her turn to bat, dancing alongwith Veda Krishnamurthy to the DJ music, becoming the all time leading run-getter - all combined to make her a fan favorite. Then there was Harmanpreet Kaur's innings - many immediately compared it to Kapil Dev's 175, such was its impact. And that "celebration" on getting a century! Poor Dipti Sharma was at the receiving end. Jhulan Goswami's ball to dismiss Meg Lanning. After a smashing start to the tournament, Smriti Mandhana was declared as India's national crush??? And then there was the wicket-keeper Sushma Verma, who also had the extra responsibility of taking the team selfie!

Now for the big question. Where does Women's cricket head next? Awards and promotions have been announced, felicitations have been organised, they also have the average follower's attention. But how does BCCI build on all the goodwill generated for the team. More centrally contracted players, more coverage for the national matches, a women's tournament on the likes of the IPL. I, for one, don't know when the next international series is. However, one thing they do need to avoid is to keep comparing with the men's game. The gulf is too stark for any meaningful comparison at this stage.

And all these measures if done correctly,this World Cup would be remembered as the one in which women's cricket became just cricket! After all, if in a matter of just three years if Kabaddi can raise it's profile to become one of the most viewed sports in the country, there is no reason why women's cricket can't.

P.S. Random Articles
Jarrod Kimber's article on how to watch women's cricket [Link]
The Importance of Harmanpreet Kaur [Link]
Sharda Ugra talking about the next steps [Link] (Basically an article doing a much better job of what I intended to do in this blog]

Monday, June 19, 2017

Arbit Stats #65

After playing 40 matches (16 ODIs and 24 T20Is), spread over 1 Year, 4 Months and 26 Days, Jasprit Bumrah scored his first international run in his 7th outing to the crease. Thankfully, he does alright with the ball, otherwise, that is one long wait for your first run.

And he did choose a big occasion of the Champions Trophy Final to finally trouble the scorers.

Does India have our own Chris Martin in the making now?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

IPL 10: Jharkhand Review

The 10th edition of the IPL is done and dusted and the cricketing circus has moved on to the next destination – the Champions Trophy. But before we go there, a lookback at the Jharkhand team’s performance in the IPL.
  1. MS Dhoni (Rising Pune Supergiant) – 16 Matches, 290 runs @26.36, Strike Rate – 116. For the first time in IPL was not captaining the team. But he was still there setting fields for his captain from behind the stumps. Behind the stumps, he was flawless but in front, his powers are on wane. Although gave flashes of his brilliant past, most memorably in the chase against Hyderabad, but certainly heading to the twilight of his career. 
  2. Ishan Kishan (Gujarat Lions) – 11 Matches, 277 runs @27.70, Strike rate – 134.46. Showed some signs of his firepower and striking ability. Became the third youngest player to score an IPL fifty. Unfortunately for him the two faster ones are his direct competitiors for the national wicket-keeper’s slot, Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant, both of whom seem to be ahead of him in the pecking order. Also Dinesh Karthik’s presence made him play as a pure batsman only. 
  3. Shahbaz Nadeem (Delhi Daredevils) – 7 Matches, 6 wickets @19.83, Economy rate -6.67. Numbers which suggest that he should have got more games for the struggling Delhi side but did not. After all his was the best economy rate in the team. Delhi’s selection tactics were weird to say the least. But Nadeem did his reputation no harm. 
  4. Varun Aaron (Kings XI Punjab) – 6 Matches, 7 wickets @23.28, Economy rate – 8.15. Aaron got a few games, and his economy was the best amongst the Kings XI fast bowlers, including the Sharma trio – Ishant, Mohit, Sandeep. But couldn’t really light up the tournament. 
  5. Ishank Jaggi (Kolkata Knight Riders) – 2 matches, 33 runs @33.00, Strike rate – 84.61. Returned to the IPL fold after 4 seasons, with a last moment entry into the Auctions list. Came into the playing XI at the very end only due to an injury to Manish Pandey. Numbers might not be much, but did play crucial knocks in both the knock-outs, steadying the manic 6-over chase in the eliminator before doing his best to salvage the crumbling KKR ship in the 2nd Qualifier. 
  6. Saurabh Tiwary (Mumbai Indians) – 1 match, 52 runs @52, Strike Rate – 120.93. Got one chance when Mumbai decided to rest their senior players and made most out of it. But got a public ticking off from his partner Ambati Rayudu for his poor running! 
So in all, a decent IPL for the Jharkhand boys. Lets hope the next edition is even better. However, with a fresh auction coming up, a good domestic season is needed.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Rivalry

Which is the biggest rivalry in cricket these days? Is it

  • (a) England vs Australia - for the hopeless tragics? But it only come alive during the Ashes. OR
  • (b) India vs Pakistan - well, they don't seem to be playing each other often enough except for the big tournaments, where Pakistan always seem to be falling short :). OR
  • (c) India vs Australia - produce great cricket and controversies. Yes they are very close to the top, OR
  • (d) BCCI vs Supreme Court? Not much of a contest as the Supreme Court always seems to be winning, OR
  • (e) West Indies Board vs West Indies players - this one seems to have been going on forever. Should be the next challenge for India's Supreme Court which has taken serious interest in cricketing matters.
But for pure on-field action and actual "context", nothing beats the nascent rivalry which has developed between Ireland and Afghanistan. There can't be more disparate nations. And yet here are two teams who find themselves in the same boat and fighting for a similar cause - Test Status - the Holy Grail for all cricketers.

Both Ireland and Afghanistan add the feel-good factor in these murky times (and not just from a cricketing perspective). The Irish for being able to produce one upset after another at the biggest stage - Pakistan, England, West Indies - that's an impressive lineup. In earlier times, even one big victory  would have been good enough to get Test status (Bangladesh beating Pakistan in 1999 World Cup). But not anymore. The Irish have staked their claim as the best Associate nation for the best part of last decade. In the limited chances they have got, they have proved that their performances haven't been just a flash in the pan. They have shown remarkable consistency given the limited opportunities, while at the same time seeing their best players being regularly poached by English! ICC certainly needs to take steps to ensure that England stop using their annual game against Ireland as a campus recruitment exercise!

On the other hand, Afghanistan have brought a fairy-tale story to life. Coming from a war-torn country, the fact that they play itself was considered a big story. Not any longer. They show that they can compete with the big boys. Although they haven't got the big scalps like the Irish. But they are consistent. Unlike other Associates, they do not depend upon expats but home-grown players (rather grown in refugee camps). Their sheer presence at the global level warms the heart. And their players back it up with flair and competition. Just how loved the team is can be seen, when the losing team joins them in a victory dance (West Indies in the last T20 World Cup).

In the light of this, comes the Inter-continental Cup, with the winner getting a chance to play a series of First-Class matches against the bottom placed Test team (Zimbabwe, whom both Ireland and Afghanistan regularly beat) to get Test status. Hence the special context which this rivalry has got. Ireland have been the more consistent ones, with Afghanistan coming up fast. Even their contests have got the dash of controversy. (Remember Nabi running out Joyce).

So two well-matched teams, representative of the greater Associate cause, Test status at stake, and with a dash of controversy adding to the bite in the rivalry. They may be just off the spotlight, but this is "the rivalry" on the global cricketing stage.

Although now the Irish are showing signs of decline while the Afghans are on acsendancy as was evident in the recent series played in India. With ICC showing signs of bringing more teams into the Test fold, we certainly don't want to see Ireland going the Kenya way. Hopefully recent performances are just a blip.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Vijay Hazare 2016-17: Jharkhand Review

Jharkhand followed the successful run in Ranji Trophy with another good run in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the national List A tournament. The team had a good outing in the Group stages winning 4 and losing 2 to enter the Quarter-finals edging past Hyderabad on Net Run Rates. The Quarters were another walk in the park against Vidarbha before the team lost in the semi-finals to Bengal.

It was an eventful run for Jharkhand, both on and off the field with a fire incident in the team hotel causing the semi-finals to be delayed by a day. Dhoni's presence as captain lead to an increased media coverage of the team, which certainly put the spotlight on the good performers. However, it was the usual suspects who made the most of the spotlight - Saurabh Tiwary, Ishank Jaggi, Ishan Kishan and Shahbaz Nadeem - all of whom strengthened their claims for an India A berth.

The batting at the top remains an area of concern with the middle order of Tiwary , Jaggi and Dhoni having to regularly bail out the team.

Best Perfomance: Dhoni's 129 vs Chhattisgarh, almost single-handedly taking the team to victory.

Top Scorers:
1. Saurabh Tiwary - 368 runs @ 52.57
2. MS Dhoni - 330 runs @ 66.00
3. Ishank Jaggi - 279 runs @ 55.80

Most Wickets:
1. Shahbaz Nadeem - 15 wickets @ 18.00
2. Varun Aaron - 14 wickets @ 21.64
3. Rahul Shukla - 13 wickets @ 26.54

Overall this was a good season for Jharkhand with the zoanl T20s being the only blip. They have moved deeper in both Ranji and Vijay Hazare this year. Hopefully next season we will get our hands on that elusive Trophy.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Arbit Stats #64: Like Father Like Son

WICB Professional Cricket League Regional 4-Day Tournament 

In Guyana's first innings score of 262, there were three well compiled 50s. Two of which were scored by the father-son duo of Shivnarine and Tagenarine Chanderpaul. The Chanderpauls thus becoming the first father-son pair to make a half-century in the same first class game ever!

Now that's a stat which will take some beating!!!

Monday, February 20, 2017

IPL 2017 Auction: Jharkhand

As the dust settles on the IPL Auctions for 2017, here is taking a look at how the Jharkhand boys have fared. 

The Retained
  1. MS Dhoni - retained by Rising Pune Supergiants but has been removed from captaincy. For the first time in IPL, Dhoni will be playing just as a member of the playing XI and not as captain.
  2. Shahbaz Nadeem - retained by Delhi Daredevils. After being the top wicket-taker for 2 consecutive Ranji seasons, he is now an India A team regular with a national call-up not too far away. With Tahir and Negi released, should be a first choice spinner for the team. Has competition from Jayant Yadav and M Ashwin.
  3. Ishan Kishan - retained by Gujarat Lions. Coming from a prolific domestic season which has seen him get regular India A call-ups, this youngster will be fighting for the keeper's slot with Dinesh Karthik. Should certainly get a few games.
  4. Pratyush Singh - Retained by Delhi Daredevils. He started playing for Delhi but made his first-class debut for Jharkhand in this very season! May not get a game this year as well.
The Newly Bought
  1. Varun Aaron - released by Royal Challengers Bangalore and now bought by Kings XI Punjab for 2.80 crores. He has pace, but is injury prone and often expensive. Might not be a first choice but could get a few games in.
  2. Saurabh Tiwary - released by Pune, now returns to Mumbai Indians for 30 lakhs, the team from which he got into the national XI. Might not be part of a first choice eleven but should get a few games. 
  3. Ishank Jaggi - returns to IPL action after a long time after some headline making knocks in the Ranji Trophy and Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy. Sterling performances in the Mustaq Ali Trophy saw his name added to the draft after initially missing out. Picked at base price of 10 lakh by Kolkata Knight Riders. But will he get a chance to play?
Not picked in the Auctions - Rahul Shukla, Virat Singh, Vikash Singh, Monu Kumar.

Over the last few seasons, Jharkhand cricket has been on  an upswing with the team reaching Ranji knock-outs on a regular basis. Quite a few players are putting up their name for the A squad. All they need is one superlative season like Saurbah Tiwary's 2010 run to come up with a national call. Lets see who of the seven grab this opportunity.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Arbit Stats #63: Kiwis sneak in on the Tigers

Test Match #2246: New Zealand vs Bangladesh

Continuing with the recent trend that a good 1st innings score of the visiting team is just not good enough by the end of 5th day's play. And 5 days is a long passage of play.

595/8 - Bangladesh are now the owners of the unwanted record of the biggest 1st innings total ending in a loss, breaking 19th century record

5 - Number of catches held by Imrul Kayes as a substitue keeper. 

5 days is long time. And this 3rd innings is proving decisive these days.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Ranji Trophy 16-17: Semi-Final Jharkhand vs Gujarat

Match Summary: Gujarat (390 & 252) beat Jharkhand (418 & 111) by 123 runs   

At the fag end of the 4th day's play, Jharkhand's dream run came to a brutal and quick end. In a seesawing game, fortunes swung one way and then the other. Gujarat began briskly on Day 1, Jharkhand hauled them back on Day 2 but the 8th wicket partnership resisted long and took the score to 390. Jharkhand were in trouble early in the innings but Ishank Jaggi and others dragged them to the crucial first innings lead of 18 runs. But in a 5 day match, with a brisk run-rate from both sides only an outright victory was going to secure the result. Gujarat set a competitive target of 235. And then in the 4th innings, Jharkhand capitulated against the pace duo of RP Singh and Jasprit Bumrah and lost by 123 runs. The margin does not do justice to the intensity of the battle.

In the end it wasn't to be. Although this certainly was Jharkhand's greatest run in the Ranji Trophy (not counting their previous avatar of Bihar, who once finished runners-up).  The season has thrown up a lot of youngsters like Ishan Kishan, Virat Singh, Kaushal Singh who are ready to take on the mantle. The senior lot of Saurabh Tiwary, Ishank Jaggi and Shahbaz Nadeem are also likely to be in the mix for some more time.

  • It was refreshing to see Jharkhand's batting being more than just Saurabh Tiwary for a change who had another 500+ run season. Ishank Jaggi and Ishan Kishan added lots of firepower to the batting.
  • Meanwhile Shahbaz Nadeem is set to top the wicket-taking charts for a second year in a row. Wonder what else he needs to do for the national call-up now. 
  • Fitness issues have plagued the team's bowling attack with Varun Aaron missing most of the season. Ashish Kumar's injury during the Quarter-finals also hasn't helped.
  • The opening partnerships were another area of concern throughout.

Good performances in the forthoming Vijay Hazare Trophy should see some of the youngsters in contention for IPL contracts which could be their stepping stone to the A Squad and then onwards to the national team.

Season Stats
Top Scorer: Ishank Jaggi 890 @59.33
Most Wickets: Shahbaz Nadeem 56 @25.61
Player Count: 17

Hopefully this season has set the tone for another good run in the next one.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Twenty16 Lineup

We are just a couple of days into 2017. And the cricketing action is already in full gear with South Africa-Sri Lanks Test matches, Big Bash League and Ranji Trophy semi-finals and that most intriguing off-field battle between Supreme Court and BCCI underway But before we move too far ahead, Slipstream Cricket continues its annual tradition of picking the year's cricketing moments to remember.

1. 6, 6, 6, 6 – Carlos Brathwaite – Remember the name
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. And Carlos Brathwaite certainly came big time. With 19 needed off the last over in the World T20 finals, Brathwaite hammers 4 consecutive sixes to win the game with 2 balls to spare. "Remember the name", boomed Ian Bishop from the commentary box.Ben Stokes certainly wouldn't be forgetting this one. 

2. Speech of the Year - Darren Sammy
The West Indies men and women had just won the T20 World Cups. Just weeks after their Under-19 team had also become World Champions. The skipper, Darren Sammy, chose this moment to bare his heart out to the world. It was quite a damning indictment of the West Indies Cricket Board. And this was the last time Sammy has played for the West Indies.

3. Going Out on a High - Brendon McCullum
The much loved Kiwi skipper decided to hang up his boots and give his back a rest from the wear and tear of international cricket. And did he bow out in style by smashing the record for the fastest century in Test cricket. It wasn't enough to prevent a defeat to the Aussies, but it was a fitting farewell to the man who really launched the IPL with his blazing bat.

4. Celebrations of the Year - Misbah-ul-Haq
He is now well past 40.Yet when he gets a century he celebrates by doing push-ups on the ground. We all know the end is nigh, but will Misbah to go on and on. After all he is the senior statesman the world cricket needs.

5. And they all fall down 
Win toss, bat first, score over 400 and still contrive to lose, by an innings. Happened only twice in over 2200 Tests till November 2016. In December, happened thrice, England twice and Pakistan once. The 3rd innings collapse became the new statement.

6. The Run Machine - Virat Kohli
Regardless of the format, Tests, ODI, T20I, IPL, the Virat Kohli run machine just kept chugging on. All tricky chases turned formulaic. India's batting revolved around one single man. And he kept delivering, time and again. The only batsman to have an average of 50+ in all three formats of the international game.

7. The Year of Comebacks
2016 started with Ashish Nehra opening the bowling for India after 4 years, somewhere in the middle Gautam Gambhir opened the batting after 3 years and capping off the year of comebacks, Parthiv Patel was keeping wickets for India in Tests after 8 years. And all of them doing a decent job. At this rate we might get to see Munaf Patel and RP Singh leading the Indian attack soon. 

8. The run-outs
The batsmen trying to sneak a run. The fielding team taking the ball and breaking the stumps just before he makes it to the ground. No better sight in cricket. And this year we had two memorable efforts - Dhoni preventing a last gasp Bangladeshi win and Temba Bavuma acrobatically running out David Warner.

9. Doing it all by yourself - Shania Lee-Swart
You see weird scorecards and then you see one person making 160 runs in a team total of 169. 

Isn't cricket supposed to be a team sport?

10. Contest of the Year
Unfortunately for the fans this wasn't played out on the field. The BCCI's attempts at revamping itself haven't satisfied the Supreme Court. The Board gave an inch when it was asked a mile. The shadow boxing continued all year long. Finally the Lodha committee had the last laugh, with the new year beginning with the suspension of current administration. Lets see how 2017 pans out in this legal battle.

11. 1009 Not Out
How does someone score 1009 runs in a single innings. Albeit it was school cricket, played in a smallish ground against a junior popgun attack, but Pranav Dhanawade managed to break the 1000 run barrier in a single innings. His later goings on haven't been exactly cricket though!

12. And for the 12th Man
Dwayne John Bravo took his DJ initals very seriously. And came up with the Champion song, where he put in his own name along with the likes of Nelson Mandela!!! Well it is his song. It did become the de facto celebration of the cricketing world.

That was cricketing year 2016. Now lets see what 2017 has in store for us!!!

Wishing all readers a very Happy New Year 2017 !!!