Sunday, November 18, 2018

Ranji Trophy 18-19: Jharkhand vs Haryana

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 5, 2018

Ranji Trophy 18-19: Bihar vs Uttarakhand

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

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

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

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

Ranji Trophy 18-19: Jharkhand vs Assam

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 27, 2018

#DhoniDropped & the thankless job

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 19, 2018

Vijay Hazare Trophy 18-19: Jharkhand Review

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

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

Here is a short summary of Jharkhand’s run. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game 7: Jharkhand vs Tripura Abandoned due to rain 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 15, 2018

Vijay Hazare Trophy 18-19: Bihar Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bihar topped the group and qualified for the Quarter-Finals 

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

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

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

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

Players Used – 18 with 14 List A debutantes

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Shahbaz Nadeem: 8/10

Shahbaz Nadeem finally got his due in the limelight after years of toiling away for Jharkhand and India A. Topped the highest wicket-takers table for two Ranji seasons in a row and been a India A regular for a long, long time. Has been in the mix for an India call, which has yet to culminate. Yet he keeps toiling. Nadeem has also been part of the India nets as recently as last week. Don't think anyone has ever come this close to a call-up to the national squad without actually getting the call!

But after 375 Fist-Class wickets & over 200 limited overs wickets, Shahbaz Nadeem finally has the spotlight on him. It needed a world-record spell of 8 wickets for 10 runs from 10 overs against Rajasthan to grab it though. And Rajasthan are no minnows, having won the Ranji Trophy twice in recent years! This improved on Rahul Sanghvi's haul of 8 for 15 against Himachal Pradesh.

Finally, Nadeem has the media & the casual followers' attention. Hopefully, this translates into an India call soon. We do have the West Indies tour coming up and it is also the run-up year to the World Cup. The competition for slots is tough, with Kuldeep, Chahal, Jadeja, Ashwin, Sundar, Krunal all in the mix for the two spinners slots. But Nadeem has also put his hat in.

Links - Video of the 8-wicket haul. (BCCI)

Monday, September 17, 2018

Domestic Schedule 2018-19: Bihar

Bihar has rejoined the big league after years in wilderness post the partition with Jharkhand. This was on expected lines. However, following the acceptance of Lodha Committee decisions, each of India’s states is now represented in the main tournaments. So Bihar are joined by Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Sikkim and Puducherry. All the new entrants have been placed in the Plate Group of the domestic tournaments, with promotion likely for the winners!

Here are Bihar’s fixtures

Vijay Hazare Trophy – Bihar are placed in the 9-team Plate Group from which the winner will qualify for the knock-outs.
  1. 19-Sep-18: Bihar vs Nagaland
  2. 20-Sep-18: Bihar vs Uttarakhand
  3. 24-Sep-18: Bihar vs Puducherry
  4. 26-Sep-18: Bihar vs Meghalaya
  5. 28-Sep-18: Bihar vs Arunachal Pradesh
  6. 30-Sep-18: Bihar vs Sikkim
  7. 4-Oct-18: Bihar vs Manipur
  8. 8-Oct-18: Bihar vs Mizoram
Ranji Trophy - Bihar are placed in the 9-team Plate Group from which the winner will qualify for the knock-outs.
  1. November 1-4, 2018: Bihar vs Uttarakhand
  2. November 20-23, 2018: Bihar vs Puducherry
  3. November 28-December 1, 2018: Bihar vs Sikkim
  4. December 6-9, 2018: Bihar vs Arunachal Pradesh
  5. December 14-17, 2018: Bihar vs Meghalaya
  6. December 22-15, 2018: Bihar vs Nagaland
  7. December 30, 2018 – January 2, 2019: Bihar vs Mizoram 
  8. January 7-10, 2019: Bihar vs Manipur

This group seems to be the easiest of all the lots. Let’s see what our team has to show on its return to the big leagues.

Domestic Schedule 2018-19: Jharkhand

The domestic season has already started, with Duleep Trophy completed with some hue of India winning the Trophy. And it also clashed with India’s ongoing tour of England and a quadrangular A series where India fielded two teams. Thus we had India, India A, India B, India red, India Green, India Blue playing simultaneously. All this resulted in a mega confusion of who is playing for whom, at least for the viewers. Hopefully the players were clear about the matter! 

As is the process every year, the domestic schedule has undergone a change. But this year the change has been drastic with the addition of 9 new first-class teams. While Bihar’s addition was on expected lines, the Lodha Committee diktats have led to all North-eastern states, Uttarakhand and Puducherry gaining full status. 

With Bihar’s re-entry, I now have two teams to support. I guess quite a lot of players might also have shifted ranks here and there! So this blog will try to cover both Bihar & Jharkhand.

Here are Jharkhand’s fixtures

Vijay Hazare Trophy – Jharkhand are placed in the 10-team Group C from which 2 will qualify for the knock-outs.
  1. 19-Sep-18: Jharkhand vs Haryana
  2. 20-Sep-18: Jharkhand vs Rajasthan
  3. 24-Sep-18: Jharkhand vs Assam
  4. 25-Sep-18: Jharkhand vs Tamil Nadu
  5. 27-Sep-18: Jharkhand vs J&K
  6. 1-Oct-18: Jharkhand vs Bengal
  7. 5-Oct-18: Jharkhand vs Tripura
  8. 7-Oct-18: Jharkhand vs Gujarat
  9. 10-Oct-18: Jharkhand vs Services
Ranji Trophy - Jharkhand are placed in the 10-team Group C from which 2 will qualify for the knock-outs.
  1. November 1-4, 2018: Jharkhand vs Assam
  2. November 12-15, 2018: Jharkhand vs Haryana
  3. November 20-23, 2018: Jharkhand vs Rajasthan
  4. November 28-December 1, 2018: Jharkhand vs Goa
  5. December 6-9, 2018: Jharkhand vs Odisha
  6. December 14-17, 2018: Jharkhand vs UP
  7. December 22-15, 2018: Jharkhand vs Services
  8. December 30, 2018 – January 2, 2019: Jharkhand vs Tripura 
  9. January 7-10, 2019: Jharkhand vs J&K

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Farewell Mohammad Kaif

13th July, 2018 - Mohammad Kaif announces his retirement from all forms of cricket.

Funny thing - never realized that its been almost 12 years (!!!) since he last played for India, or the fact that he hasn't even appeared in the IPL for many, many seasons now. Yes, he was still playing in the Ranji Trophy, but somehow never gave the impression that it had been ages since we last saw Kaif in action. 

The man does have a sense of timing and occasion. After all it was 16 years to the day of his greatest triumph as an India player. The day when India chased down 326 against England at Lords after having lost half their side riding on the brilliance of two youngsters who defied every conventional wisdom and somehow took India to a miraculous victory! It was certainly one of the most memorable and storied games for the Indian fan! I was in a hostel at that time and after the first few wickets fell, had given up and went to sleep. It was only afterwards that I got to know about what I missed. [That England tour was funny, I also missed Agarkar's Lords century!]

Coming back to Kaif, this wasn't his only great innings. He produced many a rearguard, batting at 7 in ODIs either finishing off the innings in style or stabilizing a top order collapse. That innings however set India up on a glorious run off couple of years, where we started winning more ODIs, both home and abroad! More importantly, it was the innings which made us believe in miracles and that oldd adage, "its not over till the last ball is bowled".

To be fair to Kaif, this wasn't his only career high - after all the man has won two World Cups, as a U-15 player and U-19 captain and been a runner-up in the senior World Cup as well. There is even a Test century in the West Indies, in what was ironically his last Test for India! Some selections are always weird! And he was a brilliant fielder.

How will be remember Kaif - a decent batter, sharp runner between the wickets, a brilliant fielder, world cup winning captain and above all for that innings of 87 at Lords on 13th July, 2002.

Dear Mohammad Kaif, hope you have a wonderful second innings ahead - whether it is stints behind the microphone, or another run at politics. Also, please continue shutting up the trolls on social media!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Cricket Opens Up

Cricket has always called itself a gentleman's game. And in order to ensure the gentility remains, there have strict regulations on who can play and which matches get "official" status and which don't. All of this reeking of colonial hangover and class segregation. Where every other sport is opening up to new markets, cricket had constrained itself to remain within its own little club. The club was expanded but very gradually. and new members could trickle in, say once is a decade or two! But once inside, no power could nudge them out, whatever their atrocities (looking at you Zimbabwe!) [except South Africa who got banned for over 20 years that too a decade after  they had been thrown out of the Olympic movement].

Once a member gets full status, they stayed in and tried to make life more difficult for the next ones in the queue (Bangladesh and Kenya). Ireland might have bloodied many a Full member nose over the last decade, and Afghanistan were creating an almost unimaginable fairy-tale across all sport. But the two of them couldn't play Test cricket. For a game which talks all about fair-play, the officialdom was making a mockery of fairness where South Africa beating Zimbabwe inside 2 days a 4-day match got the exalted Test status, while a keenly contested 5-day Intercontinental Cup Final between Afghanistan and Ireland is only a First-Class fixture! And to further elaborate the point, recently there was a 10-team qualifier for two spots in the 2019 World Cup. Matches involving Netherlands and Nepal had List A status while all others had ODI status. Different statistical rules for the game in the same tournament! Ironically both these teams "achieved" ODI status by the end of the tournament!

Its in the context of this class-ism and reduction in the World Cup teams came two recent announcements by ICC. One, taken last year to provide Afghanistan and Ireland, full member and Test playing status. And two, just last week to provide T20 International status to matches played between all its 104 members. What a drastic, unexpected and welcome change!

The expanded cricketing world - Hoping to see the coverage go and all in a single colour!
Certainly exciting times ahead for the cricket tragics and statisticians! Imagine the number of new entries which will come up in cricketing databases. And we could go into the era of some really funny stats! Some new landmarks could be broached in a game between Bhutan and Iceland (come to think of it that would be a game of fire and ice!). But that's how expansion happens. And honestly, cricket is over-focused on the arbitrary statistics. [Well, Slipstream Cricket is also guilty of the same. Come to think of it that section will see a boom in entries].

Apart from statistics, there could be a whole new dynamics opening up in the game. This could also create a stronger case for the franchisee/club model which is prevalent in football. The Knight Riders are already creating a multi-country franchisee, maybe some others will also jump in! We already had some top Associate cricketers (and some full member ones too) who had become mercenaries for hire. Given that ICC has also relaxed the eligibility criteria for playing for another country, there could be some interesting career jumps across the globe. Someone struggling to break into a Ranji team might soon jump shores and play international cricket for some other country! This would really open up the game. Retiring cricketers may get a fresh lease of international life through a second passport or having a grand-parent from another place. And finally with 104 country base (split West Indies and incorporate some into Great Britain), cricket could make a serious case for inclusion in the Olympics. 

Good to see ICC finally make real progress in expanding the game. Hopefully, they will also increase the World Cup participants. Maybe they can find new revenue sources, which will not have them dependent on the whims and fancies of the Big 3 and the other Full Members!

Certainly good times ahead for the cricket tragics!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Little Bit on Ball Tampering

Ball Tampering – "unlawful alteration of the surface or seam of a ball on the field, to affect its motion when bowled."

Cricket is a batsman’s game. Over the course of last one and a half centuries, laws of the game have been tweaked to make it “swing” increasingly in the batsmen’s favour. Covered pitches, restrictions on bowling, restrictions on field placements, shortened boundaries, better safety equipment, bigger bats, and changes in the front-foot no-ball rule. Almost every single rule change tilting the balance further in the batsmen’s favour. 

Meanwhile, the bowlers have also lived up to the ask, with constant innovations, Bodyline, Swing, spin, chinaman, doosra, reverse swing, knuckle ball, carom ball et al. In due course some have even resorted to the dark arts as well. 

The cricket ball, like everything else on this planet, follows the laws of physics. Bernoulli’s principles regarding motion through a fluid holds especially true. Although, no one has worked out the exact calculations or made big differential equations on the subject, it can be safely said, the more the difference in the nature of the two halves of the ball, the more its tendency to swing. So ensure that one side stays as smooth as possible while other side stays as shiny as possible. Although keep in mind, that is one of the many variables affecting the swing. Others being speed of release, angle of the seam, ambient temperature, wind etc. However, while other variables are not exactly in control, the shape of the ball can be “managed” in multiple ways. Some legal, some illegal, and many falling in the grey area. It is certainly an art, although there are some who move into the darker arts. 

Below is a pictorial representation of the different techniques to manage the shape of the ball. 

Use of any visible agent to change the shape certainly falls in the definitely illegal category. And that is what Cameron Bancroft was caught doing against South Africa. Caught on the cameras with a piece of sandpaper in his pocket which he then tried to hide in his pants post instructions from dressing room, all of which caught by the South African cameramen who were specifically assigned to the task of catching any Australian transgressions. Post the day’s play, Steve Smith admitted to the leadership group’s involvement in the shenanigans. Next day, Tim Paine was leading the side with both Smith and David Warner having resigned in the middle of the Test! 

The fall-out was brutal. And especially so given that it was Australia who was involved. After all this is a team which makes a hue and cry of playing the Aussie way, “hard and fair”, maintain a holier than thou attitude (e.g. Warner’s comments on Faf du Plessis being caught tampering, or Ponting’s reactions on using England using “specialist” substitute fielders), and discuss sledging or “mental disintegration” as a team strategy! There was no way the rest of the cricketing world would not have jumping up with glee at seeing the quagmire in which the Aussies had landed. And just to spice things up a little, there was the bad-tempered theatrics from both sides preceding the event – a constant war of words, Rabada may or may not have deliberately bumped into Smith, Warner had to be pulled away from de Kock, fans and officials had also got in the act, and all of this caught on hyper-sensitive stump mics and CCTV cameras! All setting up for an ugly showdown, until the Australian side imploded on a bit of sandpaper! 

There were repercussions off the field as well. The situation seemed akin to a national emergency in Australia with the Prime Minister issuing a statement of condemnation. The trio lost their individual sponsors while the national team sponsors issued their own threats. ICC reprimanded the trio as per its regulations. Too mild, shouted the watching crowds. Everyone was baying for blood. Cricket Australia got into the act, conducted an enquiry of its own, and declared the trio guilty and banned Warner & Smith for a year each and Bancroft for 9 months. The watchers were stunned by the severity of the sentences. It was followed by scenes of the players facing upto media, admitting their guilt and accepting their sentences. All of this accompanied by bucketful of tears. In the aftermath, Darren Lehmann also resigns as coach of the team. 

While the sentences were severe, there was lingering sense of doubt about the whole goings on. Were none of the bowlers and the coaching staff aware of the plan, if not actually complicit in it? And the leadership group mentioned by Smith, comprised just of Warner and himself? Was Cricket Australia simply trying to contain the damage by throwing the trio under the bus by taking such severe action? And were the actions a fall-out of last year’s pay dispute? Too many questions left unanswered suggesting there is more than what meets the eye. Will we ever get to know? Guess, will have to wait till somebody writes a tell-all book on the matter. 

Some of the reactions were funny. When former Aussie captains took a stand that team culture under them was different, it just reeked of hypocrisy. Then there was a rumor of Michael Clarke expressing a willingness to come out of retirement to lead the team! But the best take came from the Irish. Recently elevated to Test status, and missing out on a place in the 2019 World Cup, they suggested that if Australians really want to repent, they should drop out of the next World Cup to introspect and give the place to Ireland! 

Now that would be true over-the-top punishment for putting some sandpaper on a cricket ball!

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Last Ball Six

Everyone who has played any form of cricket has had this dream. Playing for your country. Hitting a six off the very last ball to win the match. Heck, we have even made a movie of it. Bhuvan hitting the last ball over the boundary to save 3 years’ worth of tax for his village in the climactic scene of Lagaan. Cricket could never have had greater context, an increasingly elusive commodity in modern times. But I digress. 

18th March, 2018. India vs Bangladesh. Dinesh Karthik lofts the last ball over covers to win tournament for India. Bringing a sensational end for what had been a pretty insipid tournament. 

It was one of the moments to cherish. And a reminder to myself why I love this game so much. Don’t remember when I was last jumping up and down during or after a game. And I had only watched the last 3 overs of this game.

In an age of cricketing overdose and no “context” to keep the fans engaged, there came a T20 tri-series (!), in Sri Lanka (!!), with Bangladesh (!!!), where India rested their stars (!!!!) and still sailed through comfortably. At the start, the most interesting bit of the tournament was finding the channel telecasting the tournament– Discovery Sport & Rishtey Cineplex!!! 

But things got a bit spicy as the tournament progressed, mainly due to the antics of the Bangladeshi players during and after their last game with Sri Lanka. Their “naagin dance” celebrations managed to piss off the Sri Lankan fans to such an extent that they came out in vociferous support of India (!) in the Final. Indian teams over the years have had vocal support in all parts of the world, mainly from our expat population. (Benefits of having over 1.3 Billion of us!!!). But never ever have we had the local crowds supporting us in such a manner!

This could be the defining innings for Karthik in an era of abundant wicket-keeping talent. Having made his debut in 2004, has been in and around the Indian team for all this time. Many a times playing as a pure batsman and only on occasion getting to keep wickets in Dhoni’s absence. No one has ever doubted Karthik’s keeping talents. Good to see this unsung performer finally getting his share of the limelight. 

Never has India’s wicket-keeping coffers been so rich. Dhoni is still there, and then there is a bunch of veterans fighting for his retired Test spot – Saha, Karthik, Parthiv, Naman Ojha, and the IPL brat pack – Pant, Samson, Kishan – vying for the limited overs spot! And just to get the mix more interesting, we have batsmen, who are also employed as keepers – Uthappa, Rahul, Jadhav! What riches in the wicket-keeping talent pool!

After such a game, comes out the heartening back-story of Abhishek Nayar, who played 3 ODIs for India, helped Karthik rediscover his mojo. Nayar was also the one who brought Rohit Sharma’s career back on track in 2011. Time to take Abhishek Nayar’s mentorship role more seriously.

And finally a few thoughts for Vijay Shankar. Felt sorry for him, as he tried to put bat on ball, but was simply unable to. Seeing his struggles while Karthik blasted from the other end, was a reminder that cricket is a very much individual game masquerading as a team-sport. Vijay Shankar struggled, but in the end, India won, so it was all OK. Hopefully, he does get another chance to showcase his talent at the biggest stage.

After all these years, Dinesh Karthik has finally arrived. If nothing else this shot will certainly go down in Indian cricketing folk-lore like Kanitkar's boundary!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Vijay Hazare Trophy 2018: Jharkhand Review

A bad season for Jharkhand comes to an end with the team finishing 5th in Group D of the Vijay Hazare Trophy.  Here is a summary of the action.

Ishan Kishan takes over as captain of the Jharkhand team, while Ishank Jaggi continues to miss out on account of injury.

Game 1: Vidarbha 300/10 (49) beat Jharkhand 293/7 (50) by 7 runs
  • Key Performers: Rahul Shukla 4/52 (10), Shahbaz Nadeem 2/53 (10) & 21*, Atul Surwar 2/52 (9), Vikash Singh 2/78 (9) & 59* (37); Saurabh Tiwary 65 (77), Kumar Deobrat 60 (76). 
  • A valiant 8th wicket unbeaten partnership off 85 runs off 50 balls between Vikash & Nadeem wasn’t enough for Jharkhand to cross the line.
  • List A Debuts: Nazim Siddiqui, Atul Surwar, Sumit Kumar
  • Nazim Siddiqui had a golden duck on debut!
  • Vikash Singh recorded his highest List A Score & best bowling performance.
Game 2: Hyderabad 333/7 (50) beat Jharkhand 267 (46.5) by 66 runs
  • Key Performers: Rahul Shukla 2/69 (9), Ishan Kishan 51 (65) & Atul Surwar 58* (57)
  • Another valiant lower order partnership after a top order crumble!
  • Nazim Siddiqui got his 2nd duck in a row in his 2nd List A Game!
  • Virat Singh gets his 1st List A wicket.
  • Maiden List A 50 for Atul Surwar
Game 3: Services 202/9 (50) lost to Jharkhand 203/5 (30.5) by 5 wickets
  • Key Performers: Varun Aaron (3/20), Anukul Roy (2/20), Ishan Kishan 106 (75), Saurabh Tiwary 56* (67)
  • Senior debut for U-19 World Cup star Anukul Roy, who had an excellent game. 
  • 1st List A century for Ishan Kishan.
Game 4: Jharkhand 329/9 (50) lost to Saurashtra 333/6 (48.2) by 4 wickets
  • Key Performers: Ishan Kishan 93(96), Sumit Kumar (64)
  • List A debuts for Utkarsh Singh & Ashish Kumar
  • Maiden List A Fifty for Sumit Kumar
Game 5: Jharkhand 288/9 (50) lost to Chhattisgarh 294/3 (46) by 7 wickets
  • Key Performers: Saurabh Tiwary 107 (105), Kumar Deobrat 51 (74), Varun Aaron 2/51
  • 5th List A century for Saurabh Tiwary
Game 6: Jharkhand 296/9 (50) beat Jammu & Kashmir 199/10 (46) by 97 runs
  • Key Performers: Virat Singh 96 (97), Ashish Kumar 3/23 (7), Vikash Singh 3/37 (8), Anukul Roy 2/38 (10)
  • Team captained by Virat Singh in the absence of the injured Ishan Kishan.
  • Highest List A score for Virat Singh.
Season Stats
Top Scorers:
  • Saurabh Tiwary: 322 @ 64.40 
  • Ishan Kishan: 313 @ 78.25
  • Virat Singh: 195 @ 32.50
Most Wickets:
  • Vikash Singh: 8 @ 32.25
  • Rahul Shukla: 8 @ 36.00
  • Varun Aaron: 7 @ 34.14
That's it for this season with just the Irani Trophy and IPL left. Hoping to be back again next season where there is a good chance of Bihar also featuring. So might cover two teams instead of one!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Arbit Stats #68

Women's ODI #1906: South Africa vs India, Kimberely
By having Laura Wolvaardt caught behind, Jhulan Goswami became the first women cricketer to reach the landmark of 200 ODI wickets. And this was achieved in her 166th match.

Coincidentally, compatriot Kapil Dev was the first male cricketer to reach the 200 wicket mark, also in his 166th match!

A video of Kapil Dev taking his 200th wicket! This was way back in the 80s and yet wasn't able to find a video of yesterday's game!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

IPL Auctions 2018: Jharkhand

The dust settles on the IPL Auctions. Big money was spent by the owners - to give a comparison (an unrelated one) – the amount spent by the IPL teams for the players was more than spent by ISRO to launch Magalyaan! There were some interesting purchases, some bidding wars leading to breaking the bank and finally some inexplicable omissions (Shaun Marsh – proven IPL record and in the form of his life; Hashim Amla – who got a couple of 100s in the last season – just to give two examples). Everyone had a strategy at the auctions (I assume so), only some of it defied logic, and led to some erratic results e.g. Kolkata Knight Riders go into a 7-week, 14-17 game tournament with just 19 players, while Kings XI Punjab forgot to pick a proper wicket-keeper (not counting KL Rahul’s stop-gap arrangement)! There are futile exercises and then there is attempting to make sense of IPL Auctions!

Anyway, I digress. Here is looking at how the Jharkhand team performed at the IPL Auctions

The Retained (not part of the Auction)
MS Dhoni (15 Crores, CSK) comes back to Chennai Super Kings after a 2-year hiatus, on account of CSK’s suspension. Also returns as captain after having spent a year as just another player at Rising Pune Super Giant. 

The Returners
Ishan Kishan (6.20 Crores, MI) – Mumbai went for broke to get hold of services of Ishan. And why not as he is (a) a wicket-keeper, (b) Indian, (c) explosive opening batsman, and (d) left-handed. Checks all the boxes. Aditya Tare is the only competitor for the keeping gloves. Could be a break-out season for this youngster.

Shahbaz Nadeem (3.20 Crores, DD) – gets picked once again by Delhi Daredevils. Has been a consistently good performer across seasons for them and an India A veteran now. Hopefully will get more games than last year. Has competition for the spin bowling slot from the likes of Amit Mishra, Jayant Yadav and Sandeep Lamichhane (first Nepalese cricketer in IPL). Probably the reason why he was tried as a pinch-hitter in the Mustaq Ali Trophy - to add an extra string to his bow!

Saurabh Tiwary (80 Lakhs, MI) – retained by Mumbai as a back-up Indian batsman (and got a pay upgrade also). Might get a few games depending on the performances / fitness of the first choice XI.

Ishank Jaggi (20 Lakhs, KKR) – retained by Kolkata. Should manage a few more games than last year’s two because (a) KKR picked only 19 players (of which 11 play), (b) of which 12 are Indian (7 play) & (c) 9 batsmen (6 are needed) and (d) most importantly, Jaggi performed well in pressure situations last IPL and is coming off another good domestic season.

The Newly Bought
Anukul Roy (20 Lakhs, MI) – hasn’t played any senior cricket till date. But has been impressive in the Under-19 World Cup. Might get a look-in at the very beginning as an X-Factor (Mumbai have a history of launching unknowns – e.g. Bumrah and the Pandya brothers)

Monu Kumar (20 Lakhs, CSK) - Consistent performance in the Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy helped Monu get picked. However chances of getting a game upfront are quite bleak. Might get a look-in at later stages though.

Meanwhile, Varun Aaron, Virat Singh, Nazim Siddiqui, Rahul Shukla & Pratyush Singh did not find any takers. Aaron might get a call if there are fitness concerns among the many Indian fast bowlers. However, a better bet for him would be to seek a County contract a la Pujara.

Hoping this is a break-out season for these players like Saurabh Tiwary had in 2010!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy 2018: Super League Jharkhand Review

Jharkhand had a poor run in the Super League winning one and losing three of their four games to finish bottom of the table. They did come close against Rajasthan but were absolutely flattened against Karnataka.

Absentees: Dhoni (MIA) Ishank Jaggi (injury)

Game 1: Mumbai 170/5 (20) beat Jharkhand 157/7 (20) by 13 runs
Key Performers: Virat Singh 81 (49), Saurabh Tiwary 32(22), Nadeem 1/23

Game 2: Jharkhand 157/5 (20) lost to Rajasthan 158/6 (19.1) by 4 wickets
Key Performers: Nadeem 27 (22) & 1/18, Ishan Kishan 39(36), Virat Singh 43 (28), Aaron 2/24
  • Nadeem batting 1 down was a surprise!
Game 3: Punjab 149/7 (20) lost to Jharkhand 150/6 (19.3) by 4 wickets
Key Performers: Kaushal Singh 3/26 & 29(31), Varun Aaron 2/20, Ishan Kishan 54 (29)

Got to see the Jharkhand team in action on live TV after a long time. Only watched the second half of the game though! Key takeaways:
  • Ishan Kishan needs a little more consistency for a call-up to the national squad – given that his direct competitors are Rishabh Pant & Sanju Samson!
  • Manpreet Gony hurling abuses at little Ishan Kishan after being hit all over the park! While Harbhajan Singh gives a pat on the back after having bowled him. Good example of what is “spirit of cricket” and what is not?
  • Kaushal Singh looks a wannabe Saurabh Tiwary, who used to be a wannabe MS Dhoni!
  • Punjab’s fielding left a lot to be desired.
  • And Nadeem seems to be specializing as a pinch-hitter now!
Game 4: Karnataka 201/4 (20) beat Jharkhand 78 (14.2) by 123 runs
Key performers: Vikash Singh 25 (16) coming in at No.10! 7 Varun Aaron scoring 3 off 30 balls.
Special Mention: Karun Nair got a 100 for the opposing side!

Season Stats
  • Top Scorer: Ishan Kishan 273 runs
  • Most Wickets: Monu Kumar 12
  • Player Count: 15
So the auditions for the coming IPL Auctions are done. Let’s see which of the Jharkhand Auction XI has caught the eye of the scouts!

Monday, January 22, 2018

IPL 2018 Auctions: Jharkhand Preview

The biggest event of the cricketing year is about to be held on January 28th and 29th. With the near-complete overhaul of the teams, many players would be waiting with bated breath at the results of the auction. Who is picked by whom and at what price. Wondering which performace may have caught the eye of the IPL scout, which might get them a chance to perform on the stepping stone to A and national team.

The Retained
As expected, MS Dhoni has been retained for Rs. 15 Crores, by Chennai Super Kings, who are returning to the IPL fold after a two year suspension.

The Short-List
And below is the list of players who are in the short-list for the auction, alongwith their sequence of appearance in the pool. Many uncapped pools have been brought forward, making the auction a bit more interesting. Below is the list of Jharkhand boys in the auction pool.

S. No.
Set #
Base Price
 2017 Team
IPL Experience
Ishank Jaggi
20 Lakhs
Kolkata Knight Riders
Ishan Kishan
40 Lakhs
Gujarat Lions
Shahbaz Nadeem
40 Lakhs
Delhi Daredevils
Saurabh Tiwary
50 Lakhs
Mumbai Indians
Varun Aaron
50 Lakhs
Kings XI Punjab
Virat Singh
20 Lakhs
Anukul Roy
20 Lakhs
Nazim Siddiqui
20 Lakhs
Rahul Shukla
20 Lakhs
Pratyush Singh
20 Lakhs
Delhi Daredevils
Monu Kumar
20 Lakhs

Quite a few names in the mix here. The likes of Nadeem, Ishan Kishan, Aaron should certainly get picked. While Jaggi, Tiwary and Virat Singh have a decent chance. Anukul Roy recently described as the Ravindra Jadeja of Samastipur has a very strong chance of getting picked after his recent exploits in the Under-19 World Cup. Although, he is yet to make his Jharkhand debut!

The bringing forward of the Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy has given a good opportunity for the players to showcase their talents. The likes of Virat Singh and Monu Kumar have certainly made good use of this opportunity. Hope they have caught the eye of the scouts as well.

Good luck to the auction XI!

P.S. Performances of the Jharkhand players in IPL 2017!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy 2018: Zonal Stage: Jharkhand Review

Before we delve further, a piece of interesting news from the Honorable Supreme Court, who have directed BCCI to allow Bihar to play in the Ranji Trophy. So most likely from next season, Slipstream Cricket will be providing more Domestic coverage as we have two teams to follow now! But we shall cross that bridge when it comes. 

This year, BCCI has brought forward the Domestic T20 tournament, thus giving the players an added incentive of performing just before the IPL auctions. Last year, Ishank Jaggi grabbed his chances and got an IPL contract. This year with the complete overhaul of the IPL teams, more places are up for grabs. 

There was a change in the tournament format. Like every year, we need to keep tinkering with our domestic tournaments! The tournament is held in two stages, first the zonal leagues followed by Top two from each zone qualifying for the Super League and followed by a Final. Thus better team performances give more chances to individuals to showcase their talent to the IPL scouts.

Now for Jharkhand’s performance. MS Dhoni opted out of the tournament which was a big blow to the team. Varun Aaron lead the team.

Game 1: Jharkhand 163/6 (20) beat Tripura 139/9 (20) by 24 runs
Key performers: Virat Singh 43 (31), Ishan Kishan 26 (16), Ishank Jaggi 33 (26). 2 wickets each for Nadeem, Varun Aaron and Kaushal Singh who also contributed 20 with the bat.

Game 2: Jharkhand 177/9 (20) lost to Bengal 179/4 (19.2) by 6 wickets
Key Performers: Ishank Jaggi 72 (39) & Ishan Kishan 49 (35). 2 wickets for Kaushal Singh.

Game 3: Assam 148/6 (20) lost to Jharkhand 149/2 (16) by 8 wickets.
Key Performers: Monu Kumar 3/23, Ishank Jaggi 68*(37) & Ishan Kishan 36 (19)
T20 debut for Nazim Siddiqui.

Game 4: Odisha 123 (19.4) lost to Jharkhand 129/2 (16.4) by 8 wickets
Key Performers: Monu Kumar with 4/14; Ishan Kishan 51 (38) & Ishank Jaggi 40*(25).
Senior debut for Atul Surwar.

Jharkhand finished second in East Zone behind Bengal to qualify for the Super League.

Season Stats:
Top Scorer: Ishank Jaggi - 213 runs
Most Wickets: Monu Kumar - 8