Thursday, October 24, 2019

Shahbaz Nadeem - the Feel-Good Story

Every once in a while, Indian cricket amidst its many shenanigans, comes up with what can only be described as a feel-good story. A player from one of the lesser teams with consistently good performances over the years, finally getting his hand at the elusive India Cap. He might return back to the anonymity of the domestic circuit soon after because of lack of space at the top. But does become a fan favorite for all-time. 

Remember Jasu Patel, who played 7 Tests in all but took a historic 9-wicket haul after being recalled at the age of 36! Or Gagan Khoda, who played 2 ODIs but had a Man-of-the-Match winning 89 in his last innings. Or Faiz Fazal who in his solitary ODI for India scored an unbeaten 50 and then returned to the domestic scene to lead Vidarbha to back-to-back Ranji and Irani Trophy titles. Or the recently retired Abhishek Nayar who played 3 ODIs without getting any opportunity to bat or bowl!

Then there is the other category, domestic stalwarts who never got a chance with the national team - Padmakar Shivalkar, Rajinder Goel, Amol Mazumdar, Amarjeet Kaypee et al. 

Thankfully, Shahbaz Nadeem, after years of toil for Jharkhand and India A squads and even a T20 call-up got his due with a Test debut on his domestic home ground. 15 years since first-class debut, over 400 first-class wickets, two consecutive Ranji seasons as the highest wicket-taker, world-record List A figures. 4 wickets at an average of 10, a catch and a run-out. Overall an excellent performance. Fully justifying the faith of the selectors who picked him as a last-minute injury replacement.

The feel-good balloon has got pricked because Nadeem has been dropped form the squad for the next Test. A justified decision, keeping in line with the recent policy of a replacement making way for the first-choice player who is fit again. Karun Nair got dropped after scoring a Triple Century! But still the decision is difficult to accept for the fans (especially like this blog which has covered Nadeem and his fellow Jharkhand mates' performances over the years).

Hopefully, this will not be Nadeem's last India Cap. And he returns to Jharkhand & A teams and keeps churning out figures which keep him in the selector's radar. After all, having got a taste of international cricket, he should be ready for another bite of the cake when the opportunity presents itself!

And even if Nadeem doesn't get another India Cap well he will go down as one of the best stories from Indian cricket in recent times.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Vijay Hazare Trophy 19-20: Jharkhand Review

After a good run to the semi-finals last year, Jharkhand had a middling season this time around. Having been promoted to Group A, they were in contention till the very last game but ran into Yashasvi Jaiswal, who hammered a double century. Jharkhand gave a valiant chase but fell short. Overall, it was a decent run for the Ishan Kishan led side. 

There were good all-round performances from Anukul Roy and Utkarsh Singh, while Virat Singh led the way with bat alongwith the ever-dependable Saurabh Tiwary However, most of the star players Shahbaz Nadeem, Ishan Kishan, and Varun Aaron had average tournaments which reflected in the team’s performance also. Here is the season summary. 

Game 1: Karnataka 285/9 (50) beat Jharkhand 162/10 (37.5) by 123 runs 
Key Performers: Rahul Shukla 4/43 (10), Anand Singh 4/52 (10) 
List A debut: Shubham Singh 

Game 2: Goa 266/8 (50) beat Jharkhand 224/10 (48.1) by 42 runs 
Key Performers: Rahul Shukla 6/33 (10) 

Game 3: Jharkhand 258/5 (36) beat Kerala 253/10 (36) by 5 runs. Match reduced to 36 overs each. 
Key Performers: Kumar Deobrat 54, Anukul Roy 31 & 4/31 (7), Utkarsh Singh 4/38 (8) 
List A Debut: Vivekanand Tiwari 

Game 4: Hyderabad 192/7 (34) lost to Jharkhand 193/4 (33.4)) by 6 wickets. Match reduced to 34 overs each. 
Key Performers: Kumar Deobrat 56, Saurabh Tiwary 61* 

Game 5: Jharkhand 259/10 (48.4) beat Saurashtra 129/10 (37.4) by 130 runs 
Key Performers: Utkarsh Singh 100 & 4/34 (10), Virat Singh 52*, Vivekanand Tiwari 3/17 (5) 

Game 6: Jharkhand 119/10 (29) lost to Chhattisgarh 123/3 (28.3) by 7 wickets. Match reduced to 31 overs each. 

Game 7: Andhra 265/6 (50) lost to Jharkhand 266/7 (49.4) by 3 wickets 
Key Performers: Virat Singh 74*, Saurabh Tiwary 56 

Game 8: Mumbai 358/3 (50) beat Jharkhand 319/10 (46.4) by 39 runs 
Key Performers: Virat Singh 100, Saurabh Tiwary 77. 
Mumbai’s Yashasvi Jaiswal became the youngest player to score a double century in List A cricket, and this was his 3rd century in just his 5th game! Certainly one to watch out for! 

Season Stats: 
Standing: 5th in Group A with 16 points from 8 games & 8th across Groups A & B. 
Highest Scorers 
  1. Virat Singh – 335 @83.75, 1 Century & 2 50s 
  2. Saurabh Tiwary – 328 @ 54.67, 3 50s 
  3. Ishan Kishan – 204 @25.50 
Most Wickets 
  1. Rahul Shukla – 15 @22.53, 1 6-for 
  2. Vivekanand Tiwari – 8 @21.63 
  3. Anukul Roy – 8 @30.63 
Highest Score: Virat Singh – 100 vs Mumbai, Utkarsh Singh 100 vs Saurashtra 
Best Bowling: Rahul Shukla – 6/33 vs Goa 
Players Used: 15 
List A Debutantes: 2 

Coming Up Next: Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy in December.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Vijay Hazare Trophy 19-20: Bihar Review

The 2019-20 season of the Vijay Hazare Trophy was a harsh turnaround for the Bihar team. After gaining a promotion from Group D the team had a cruel reality check as they lost all matches and were relegated back. The lack of experience clearly showed in the performances. Nothing much to highlight about in the tournament except Babul Kumar’s batting. Here is how the season progressed for the Ashutosh Aman led side.

Game 1: Railways 289/6 (50) beat Bihar 155/6 (43) by 84 runs (VJD)
Key Performers – Vivek Kumar 3/55 (9), Shasheem Rathour 86* 
List A Debut – Sachin Singh, Vivek Kumar, Kamlesh Kumar, Rohan Kumar

Game 2: Bihar 217/7 (50) lost to Tamil Nadu 218/3 (46.5) by 7 wickets
Key Performers: Babul Kumar 110, Sachin Singh 2/36 (8)
List A Debut: Kumar Aditya
Babul Kumar captained the side in the absence of Ashutosh Aman

Game 3: Bihar 137/10 (40.4) lost to Madhya Pradesh 138/3 (27.4) by 7 wickets
List A Debut: Nikku Singh

Game 4: Bihar 126/10 (42.4) lost to Gujarat 128/3 (19.1) by 7 wickets

Game 5: Jammu & Kashmir 326/6 (50) beat Bihar 128/4 (30.2) by 65 runs (VJD)
List A Debut: Utkarsh Bhaskar, Shivam Kumar, S Gani

Game 6: Bihar 216/7 (50) lost to Bengal 217/1 (40.2) by 9 wickets
Key Performers: Babul Kumar 93, Rahmatullah 53
List A Debut: Sashi Sekhar, Vipul Krishna

Game 7: Rajasthan 268/5 (50) beat Bihar 109/10 (36.3) by 159 runs
Key Performers: Sarfaraz Ashraf 3/34 (10)
List A Debut: Chiranajivi Kumar

Game 8: Bihar 267/7 (50) lost to Services 269/5 (48.4) by 5 wickets
Key Performers: Babul Kumar 66, Shasheem Rathour 71, Rahmatullah 63
Babul Kumar led the side.

Game 9: Bihar 251/10 (49.5) lost to Tripura 253/3 (43.4) by 7 wickets
Key Performers: Shasheem Rathour 76, Babul Kumar 52
List A Debut: Vikash Yadav

Standing: Bihar finished bottom of the Table with zero points from 9 games.

Season Stats: 
Highest Scorers
  1. Babul Kumar – 391 @55.86, 1 century & 3 50s
  2. Shasheem Rathour – 296 @37.00, 3 50s 
  3. Rahmatullah – 265 @29.44, 2 50s
Most Wickets
  1. Shivam Kumar – 6 @29.50
  2. Vivek Kumar – 6 @39.00
  3. Ashutosh Aman – 5 @58.40
Highest Score: Babul Kumar – 110 vs Tamil Nadu
Best Bowling: Sarfaraz Ashraf 3/34 vs Rajasthan
Players Used: 21
List A Debutantes: 13

Coming Up Next: Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy