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.