Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Vijay Hazare Trophy 2021: Jharkhand Review

One of the weirdest campaigns in recent times. Jharkhand started with a bang, recording the highest ever total in Vijay Hazare Trophy (which got eclipsed a few days later) also recording the second biggest victory margin, then won a couple of close games and lost the penultimate one. On the last day, they were still in pole position to qualify but a meagre total was overhauled in spectacular fashion by Andhra, who qualified on net run rate basis. 

Here is a game by game summary of this weird campaign 
Game 1: Jharkhand 422/9 (50) beat Madhya Pradesh 98/10 (18.4) by 324 runs 
Highlights: Ishan Kishan 173 off 94 balls & 7 catches (equals Indian List A record), Virat Singh 68, Sumit Kumar 52, Anukul Roy 72, Varun Aaron 6/37 
List A Debut: Bal Krishna, Kumar Kushagra, Rajandeep Singh 
  • Jharkhand’s 422 was the highest score by an Indian domestic team breaking ironically Madhya Pradesh’s record. 
  • This was the second biggest victory margin by runs in a List A game. 
  • Ishan Kishan’s 5 catches off Varun Aaron also equalled the List A record for most bowler-fielder combination wickets in a single game. 
Game 2: Jharkhand 217/9 (50) beat Punjab 215/10 (45.5) by 2 runs 
Highlights: Utkarsh Singh 51, Shahbaz Nadeem 45* from No.9 and 2/36 

Game 3: Vidarbha 288/9 (50) lost to Jharkhand 294/7 (49/3) by 3 wickets 
Highlights: Vikash Singh 4/65, Kumar Doebrat 100, Rajandeep Singh 48* off 25 

Game 4: Tamil Nadu 266/7 (50) beat Jharkhand 199/9 (50) by 67 runs 
Highlights: Anukul Roy 3/41, Rahul Shukla 42* off 25 coming in at No.11 
  • Meanwhile Mumbai broke Jharkhand’s record a day before by scoring 457 against Puducherry 
Game 5: Jharkhand 139/10 (46.2) lost to Andhra 140/3 (9.5) by 7 wickets 

Tournament Stats 
Highest Scorers 
  1. Ishan Kishan 215 @ 43.00 with 1x100 
  2. Virat Singh 188 @ 37.60 with 1x50 
  3.  Anukul Roy 147 @ 29.40 with 1x50 
Top Innings: Ishan Kishan 173 vs Madhya Pradesh 
Most Wickets 
  1. Varun Aaron 9 @ 20.44 
  2. Bal Krishna 6 @ 27.60 
  3. Rahul Shukla 6 @ 29.67 
Best Bowling: Varun Aaron 6/37 vs Madhya Pradesh 
Player Count: 14 
List A Debuts: 3 

A tournament which opened with a bang ended in a hiding for the Jharkhand team. A helter-skelter chase by Andhra dropped them from the group toppers to 3rd place knocking them out of the tournament! Surprisingly no game for Saurabh Tiwary. 

Ishan Kishan’s fireworks on the opening day did secure him a maiden Indian callup. 

Lets see what’s next for the Jharkhand team.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Vijay Hazare Trophy 2021: Bihar Review

BCCI managed to conduct the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy across 6 bio-secure bubbles. Given their previous performances, Bihar had moved out of the Plate group. And the step-up to the Elite level was too big a gap for the team. Bihar lost all their 5 games and were competitive in only one game against Odisha. 

Here is a game-by-game summary of the tournament 

Game 1: Bihar 189/10 (45.5) lost to Railways 190/0 (29) by 10 wickets 
Highlights: Anuj Raj 72 from No.9 
List A Debut: Anuj Raj, Akash Raj, Rahul Kumar, Shabbir Khan 

Game 2: Karnataka 354/3 (50) beat Bihar 87/10 (27.2) by 267 runs 

Game 3: Bihar 193/10 (46.1) lost to Uttar Pradesh 194/5 (28) by 5 wickets 
Highlights: Yashaswi Rishav 67 
List A Debut: Lakhan Raja, Rishav Raj, Yashasvi Rishav, Suraj Kashyap 
One unnamed Bihar player tested positive for Covid-19 prior to the game. 

Game 4: Bihar 255/7 (50) lost to Odisha 258/3 (48.1) by 7 wickets 
Highlights: Babul Kumar 78 
List A Debut: Apurva Anand 

Game 5: Bihar 148/10 (40.2) lost to Kerala 149/1 (8.5) by 9 wickets 
Highlights: Babul Kumar 64 
List A Debut: Vikash Patel 
Kerala went hammer and tongs to overhaul Bihar’s target! 

Tournament Stats 
Highest Scorers 
  1. Babul Kumar 181 @ 26.20 with 2x50s 
  2. Sakibul Gani 111 @ 22.20 
  3. Anuj Raj 104 @ 26.00 with 1x50 
Top Innings: Babul Kumar 78 vs Odisha 
Most Wickets 
  1. Ashutosh Aman 3 @ 63.00 
  2. Anuj Raj 3 @ 69.67 
  3. Rahul Kumar 2 @ 70.50 
Best Bowling: Ashutosh Aman 2/44 vs Uttar Pradesh 
Player Count: 18 
List A Debuts: 10 

So 5 straight losses and one covid positive result. Not too great a series. 

And now the team moves back into uncertainty as we do not know when the next fixture will come up!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Nice Guy Who Finished First

A Biography of Rahul Dravid: The Nice Guy Who Finished First by Devendra Prabhudesai 

Once when I had to fill out an overall career goal, I wrote “To Be The Nice Guy Who Finished First”, borrowing the byline of this book. Sailed through that presentation and interview, reaffirming my belief that one can’t go wrong with an apt sports analogy. However, I hadn’t yet read the book. An aberration which has been corrected! 

The Nice Guy Who Finished First is not a conventional biography. It barely tells us anything about the persona of its subject. All we get is a collection of match reports. For the Dravid fans, it’s a good way to re-live the roller-coaster ride that the 90s and the early 2000s were for Indian cricket. But hardly anything else. There are some comments about Dravid from his contemporaries but hardly anything from the man himself. Only the very last chapter which lists the different “schools” of India batsmanship shows some insight. Otherwise it’s like reading a highlights reel of Dravid’s first decade in international cricket with barely a mention of what happened around him. 

Funny thing, the writer chose 2005 as the stopping point of his work. After all the entry of Greg Chappell into the Indian dressing room has to be one of the more interesting phases in Indian cricket history.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy 2021: Bihar Review

Bihar had a good run in the tournament. Won all their games in the Plate League and with Nagaland-Chandigarh match called off got sole pole position to qualify for the Quarter-Finals. The Ashutosh Aman lead side had its moments against Rajasthan but fell short in the end. This was the first televised game for this lot, so lets see if any of them have got the eye of the IPL scouts. 

Game 1: Bihar 122/10 (20) beat Arunachal Pradesh 104/9 (20) by 18 runs 
Highlights: Ashutosh Aman 3/17, Sachin Kumar 3/22 
T20 Debut: Amod Yadav, Rahul Kumar, Sachin Kumar, Sakibul Gani, Vikash Yadav 

Game 2: Sikkim 110/8 (20) lost to Bihar 111/2 (19.1) by 8 wickets 
Highlights: Ashutosh Aman 4/18, Mangal Mahrour 55 (46) 

Game 3: Meghalaya 89/9 (20) lost to Bihar 92/4 (16) by 6 wickets 
Highlights: Anuj Raj 3/15, Ashutosh Aman 2/15, Shasheem Rathour 2/17 & 33 (28) 
T20 Debut: Anuj Raj, Akash Raj 

Game 4: Manipur 105/8 (20) lost to Bihar 107/1 (17.1) by 9 wickets 
Highlights: Amod Yadav 4/17, Shasheem Rathour 60* (40) 

Game 5: Mizoram 83/8 (20) lost to Bihar 84/4 (12.4) by 6 wickets 
Highlights: Ashutosh Aman 4/9 
T20 Debut: Mohit Kumar 

Bihar topped the Plate Group and reached the Quarter-Finals 

Quarter-Finals: Rajasthan 164/5 (20) beat Bihar 148/4 (20) by 16 runs 
Highlights: Mangal Mahrour 68* (58) 
T20 Debut: Suraj Kashyap 

Season Stats 
Highest Scorers 
  1. Mangal Mahrour 168 @ 33.60, 2x50s 
  2. Shasheem Rathour 142 @ 28.40, 1x50 
  3. Babul Kumar 108 @ 27.00 
Highest Wicket-takers 
  1. Ashutosh Aman 16 @ 7.63 
  2. Amod Yadav 7 @10.86 
  3. Samar Qaudri 6 @ 17.83 
Best Batting: Mangal Mahrour 68*vs Rajasthan 
Best Bowling: Ashutosh Aman 4/9 vs Mizoram 
Players Used: 15 
T20 Debut: 9

Coming Up Next: Vijay Hazare Trophy 

P.S. Incidentally, this is the 500th post on this blog!

Friday, January 29, 2021

Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy 2021 - Jharkhand Review

The 2020-21 season got off to a belated start with the Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy. This season’s format ensured that you had to win every game in the league stage or hope for a bunch of other results going in your favour. 

Jharkhand, lead by Ishan Kishan, had a bad start losing their first two games, effectively getting knocked out. The team regrouped and won the next two comfortably before finishing off with a Super Over win against Hyderabad. Incidentally this was the first ever Super Over at Eden Gardens! 

Here is the tournament summary. 

Game 1: Tamil Nadu 189/5 (20) beat Jharkhand 123/7 (20) by 66 runs 

Game 2: Bengal 161/6 (20) beat Jharkhand 145/9 (20) by 16 runs 
Highlights: Monu Kumar 3/20, Virat Singh 47 (38), Utkarsh Singh 1/19 & 28 (14) 
T20 Debut: Kumar Suraj 

Game 3: Jharkhand 233/3 (20) beat Assam 182/7 (20) by 51 runs 
Highlights: Virat Singh 103* (50), Saurabh Tiwary 57 (33),Kumar Deobrat 31* (12), Monu Kumar 3/23 

Game 4: Jharkhand 182/4 (20) beat Odisha 128/10 (17.5) by 54 runs 
Highlights: Ishan Kishan 60 (36), Virat Singh 67 (37), Bal Krishna 4/21 
T20 Debut: Bal Krishna, Vikash Vishal 

Game 5: Hyderabad 139/8 (20) lost to Jharkhand 139/9 (20) in Super Over (14/1 to 23/0) 
Highlights: Vivekanand Tiwari 3/25, Vikash Singh 3/36 

Season Stats 
Highest Scorers 
  1. Virat Singh 250 @ 62.50 
  2. Ishan Kishan 142 @ 28.40 
  3. Saurabh Tiwary 92 @ 23.00 
Highest Wicket-takers 
  1. Monu Kumar 8 @ 14.13 
  2. Bal Krishna 5 @ 9.60 
  3. Rahul Shukla 4 @ 26.50 
Best Batting: Virat Singh 103* (50) vs Assam 
Best Bowling: Monu Kumar 3/20 vs Bengal 
Players Used: 18 
T20 Debut: 3 

It was a good chance for the players to showcase their T20 skills with the IPL auction coming up. Monu Kumar, recently released by CSK came good as did debutante Bal Krishna. 

And now we go into another period of uncertainty about the next fixture.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Arbit Stats #72: On Substitutes

Over Days 3 & 4 of Test Match #2402 at Sydney, Wridhhiman Saha picked up 4 catches in Australia’s 2 innings – thus equaling the record for most catches taken as a substitute in a Test innings set by Younis Khan. 

A subsequent query put on twitter regarding the absence of substitute catches in “official” records got an enlightening conversation going. And what came out was a virtual treasure trove of factoids on substitute fielders. 
  • John Bracewell holds the record for 4 catches as a substitute in ODIs 
  • Geoff Howarth appeared as a sub for England against Australia at the Oval in 1972 before making his international debut for New Zealand 
  • Carl Cachopa, SW Eathorne, MA Hastings, NKW Horsley, MN McKenzie, SM Mills, TD Ritchie have taken a catch as a sub but were never part of the playing XI for New Zealand. 
  • A few subs have managed a stumping in first-class cricket – BE Congdon has a stumping as a sub and been stumped by a sub! 
  • England once used 4 players as wicket-keeper in a Test in 1986 – Bruce French (official), Bob Taylor & Bobby Parks as outside subs and Bill Athey from playing XI 
  • Most catches as sub for New Zealand – Greatbatch (5), Bracewell, Jeff Crowe, Jarvis (4 each) 
  • Marvan Atapattu picked 1 catch but was not part of the playing XI in any of the games of the 1996 Sri Lanka World Cup campaign! 
  • And there is Gary Pratt – faous for running-out Ricky Ponting in an Ashes Test. 

Overall, quite a fascinating subject. There will be many such trivia which are off the official books but interesting nonetheless.

All stats courtesy Kaustubh Gudipati (@kaustats) and Francis Payne (@FPayne100) on twitter!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Twenty20 Lineup

2020 – the year in which a virus stopped play. But we are a resilient lot and found out ways to keep the beloved game running. It was also the year, in which cricket acknowledged a global, political issue. Although how much impact it made beyond the symbolism is to be seen. Presenting the the Slipstream Cricket XI for the year 2020. 

1. Bio bubbles & breaches 
Coronavirus stopped play but some fabulous work from the administrators, the support staffs and the players saw some games being played. The fans were happy for every single game which could be held. There were some hiccups here and there, but the tremendous work done behind the scenes in setting up these bio-bubbles for play must be really appreciated. We also saw the first instance of players getting suspended due to breach of bio bubble. Having personally experienced a quarantine I can vouch for how difficult it is, so really admire the people who have been moving from one bubble to the next for the last few months to keep us fans entertained. 

2. BLM 
Even cricket was no left untouched by the killing of Georg Floyd. Before the game restarted, there was speech by Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent on their experience of racism. Those interviews really hit hard and gave the viewers a perspective of what people have had to experience in different parts of the world just because of the colour of their skin. There were symbolic gestures like taking the knee and raising a fist. Even debates were ignited of the issues in South Africa and the need for educating players (especially Asians). The fact that we are talking about it is a step in the right direction. Let’s hope to see real world results beyond the cricket field as well. 

3. 3TC 
South Africa cricket was in its own unique turmoil with the country’s government stepping in and ICC close to banning it. But they managed to add a new variety to the game. 3 Teams of 8 players each playing in the same match! Let’s see what further innovations/complications are in store for the Gentleman’s Game. They also got a silver lining in the form of Brexit which chokes (:P) the Kolpak talent drain. 

4. 86174 
That was the number of people watching the game live at the Women’s T20 Final. It was supposed to be the stepping stone for something big. But unfortunately, that was the last match played in “normal” times. And just like that women’s cricket slipped out of the limelight again (Very unfortunate) 

5. Debutante of the Year 
It wasn’t just about the Final though. Thailand made their first appearance at the world’s biggest stage. They might not have won a single game but their presence lit up the Womens T20 World Cup. BCCI, not usually known for doing the right things for the womens’ game, showed remarkable thinking in inviting Thai star player Natthakan Chantam to play in the Womens T20 Challenge. Chantam put in an extraordinary diving save at the boundary line which certainly made into all highlights packages for the year. 

6. Fake match 
There is a growing concern with the increasing visibility of fantasy (betting) games in cricket. They are now sponsoring leading tournaments and even organizing random ones in far flung corners of the cricketing world. They even have a live feed many times. And there was one such event where a match was conducted near Mohali, with masked players, pretending to be former Sri Lankan stars! Truly a fantasy game in every sense of the word! ICC really needs to keep a close watch on these fantasy sites. 

7. Never give up 
Fawad Alam hit a century on debut, played 2 more Tests and then was dropped. Over a decade later he makes a comeback and a couple of Tests later adds another Test century. Yes, patience pays off! 

8. Retro Live 
With all play suspended what do the live scoring websites do? They run retro live commentary! i.e. do a ball-by-ball commentary of a game from yore as if it is happening in real-time with even reader comments flowing in! That is some innovation. 

9. Doing a Tewatia 
Every IPL brings some unheralded names to the forefront. This year it was Rahul Tewatia. It was not just his performances but how he rebuilt an innings. From being unable to get bat on ball, suddenly turning the match on its head by smashing 5 sixes in an over off an international bowler. And a few days later, he pulled off another such heist, or as it is called now – he did a Tewatia 

10. The Nomad 
Aaron Finch is the Australian limited overs captain. Yet he hasn’t really hit it off in the IPL. But a solid reputation keeps him in good stead. So, he has now played for 8 different IPL teams! 

11. To sum up the year 2020
The Zimbabwe batsman makes his Test debut. Gets hit on the head fielding at short leg and is substituted out. Recovers from concussion. Plays the next Test. Again gets hit on the head fielding at short leg. Again the batsman is Kusal Mendis. And again he gets substituted. Somehow, sums up the year 2020. 

12. The 12th Man 
Yuzvendra Chahal becomes the first substitute to end up getting Man of the Match! 

So that was it for 2020, a truly bizarre year in all respects. Now lets see how 2021 picks up the pieces of the cricketing schedules that have been thrown haywire. 

Wishing all readers a Very Happy New Year!