Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Vijay Hazare Trophy 2022-23: Jharkhand Review

Jharkhand placed in Group B with all matches played in Kolkata. The Virat Singh lead squad finished 3rd in the Group. However, they qualified as best 3rd place team to join the 5 Group runners-up in the Pre-Quarter Finals, where they once again met Karnataka and met a similar fate. Overall, it was a decent campaign. Some of the batters were amongst the runs. And in Kumar Kushagra, they have found another wicket-keeper batter who can keep a calm head in a crisis both in chases as well as while rebuilding an innings. Won’t be surprised if some of the franchisees looking for a back-up wicket-keeper show a keen interest in him during the upcoming IPL Auction!

Here is a game by game summary of the tournament.

Game 1: Jharkhand 309/3 (50) beat Sikkim 116/10 (40.1/50) by 193 runs
Highlights: Rahul Shukla 5/19, Utkarsh Singh 52 & 1/4, Virat Singh 75, Saurabh Tiwary 63*, Kumar Deobrat 51*

Game 2: Assam 163/10 (39.4) lost to Jharkhand 166/2 (35) by 8 wickets
Highlights: Vivekanand Tiwari 4/42, Utkarsh Singh 83* & 1/12, Virat Singh 50

Game 3: Jharkhand 107/10 (40.4) lost to Karnataka 108/4 (26.3) by 6 wickets
Highlights: Kumar Kushagra 56

Game 4: Rajasthan 270/10 (49) lost Jharkhand 271/5 (49) by 5 wickets
Highlights: Rahul Shukla 5/53, Utkarsh Singh 91 & 1/31, Saurabh Tiwary 76

Game 5: Jharkhand 321/2 (50) beat Meghalaya 129/10 (40.3) by 192 runs
Highlights: Utkarsh Singh 128*, Virat Singh 112, Vikash Singh 3/17, Sushant Mishra 3/33

Game 6: Delhi 259/5 (50) lost to Jharkhand 260/5 (48.5) by 5 wickets
Highlights: Virat Singh 116*

Game 7: Vidarbha 297/3 (50) beat Jharkhand 288/6 (50) by 9 runs
Highlights: Saurabh Tiwary 138*, Kumar Kushagra 55

Pre-Quarter-Final: Jharkhand 187/10 (47.1) lost to Karnataka 188/5 (40.5) by 5 wickets
List A Debut: Arnav Sinha
Highlights: Kumar Kushagra 74, Anukul Roy 57

Tournament Stats
Highest Scorers
  1. Virat Singh: 390 @ 65.00, 2x100, 2x50
  2. Utkarsh Singh: 370 @ 61.67, 1x100, 3x50
  3. Saurabh Tiwary: 367 @ 91.75, 1x100, 2x50
Highest Wicket-takers
  1. Rahul Shukla: 16 @ 16.25, 2x5
  2. Shahbaz Nadeem: 8 @ 37.50
  3. Sushant Mishra: 7 @ 19.86
Top Score: Saurabh Tiwary: 138* vs Vidarbha
Best Bowling: Rahul Shukla: 5/19 vs Sikkim
Players Used: 17 
List A Debuts: 1

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Vijay Hazare Trophy 22-23: Bihar review

Bihar were placed in Group C with all matches played in Bengaluru. Another poor outing for Bihar as they finished with 4 points from 2 abandoned games and 5 losses to finish 7th in the 8 strong group. The learning curve has still a long way to go for the Ashutosh Aman lead side.

There was no consistency in selection with 21 players used off whom 6 played only one game each!

Here is the game by game summary

Game 1: Tamil Nadu 106/2 (17.1/38) vs Bihar: Match Abandoned due to rain
List A Debut: Harsh Singh, Surya Vansh

Game 2: Goa 329/6 beat Bihar 241/10 (46.5) by 88 runs
Highlights: Ashutosh Aman 3/42, Sachin Kumar 76, Surya Vansh 63

Game 3: Bihar 158/10 (47.5) lost to Haryana 159/1 (22.2) by 9 wickets
List A Debut: Raghuvendra Pratap Singh

Game 4: Andhra 302/7 (50) beat Bihar 170/10 (44.3) by 132 runs
Highlights: Veer Pratap Singh 60
Vijay Vats played his first senior game in India, having earlier played in Sri Lanka earlier this year!

Game 5: Chhattisgarh 304/7 (50) beat Bihar 241/9 (50) by 63 runs
List A Debut: Adhiraj Johri, Shishir Saket
Highlights: Bipin Saurabh 110* (86)

Game 6: Bihar 201/10 (49.3) lost to Kerala 205/1 (24.4) by 9 wickets
List A Debut: Gaurav, Himansu Singh
Highlights: Sakibul Gani 68

Game 7: Arunachal Pradesh 170/10 (48.4) vs Bihar 56/2 (13.5): Match abandoned due to rain
List A Debut: Ravi Shankar
Highlights: Ashutosh Aman 3/19, Sachin Kumar 3/26, Veer Pratap Singh 3/39

Tournament Stats
Highest Scorers
  1. Sachin Kumar: 183 @36.60, 1x50
  2. Bipin Saurabh: 159 @53.00, 1x100
  3. Sakibul Gani: 113 @18.83, 1x50
Highest Wicket-takers
  1. Harsh Singh: 8 @34.75
  2. Ashutosh Aman: 7 @ 33.57
  3. Sachin Kumar: 6 @22.00
Top Score: Bipin Saurabh 110* vs Chhattisgarh
Best Bowling: Ashutosh Aman 3/19 vs Arunachal
Players Used: 21
List A Debuts: 8

Overall, a very disappointing show from Bihar. Lets see how they perform in the Ranji Trophy

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy 2022-23: Bihar Review

Bihar were placed in Group D. All matches held in Indore and mostly televised live presenting a great opportunity for the players to present their cases for the next IPL auctions.

Things did not go too well for the Ashutosh Aman lead side. They beat Nagaland and almost trumped Andhra but were outplayed in the other matches to finish 6th in the group.

Here is the game-by-game summary of the tournament for Bihar.

Game 1: Nagaland 145/8 (20) lost to Bihar 148/4 (19.1) by 6 wickets
T20 Debut: Raghuvendra Pratap Singh, Rishav Raj
Highlights: Anuj Raj 4/32, Abhijeet Saket 2/19, Bipin Saurabh 29 (19), Sachin Kumar 34* (18)

Game 2: Himachal Pradesh (179/7) (20) beat Bihar 150/6 (20) by 29 runs
T20 Debut: Anshuman Raj, Apurva Anand
Highlights: Sakibula Gani 48 (29), Bipin Saurabh 40 (32)

Game 3: Baroda 156/5 (20) beat Bihar 120/8 (20) by 36 runs
Highlights: Anuj Raj 2/19, Sachin Kumar 0/15 & 38 (35)

Game 4: Bihar 181/2 (20) lost to Andhra 186/8 (19.4) by 2 wickets
T20 Debut: Pietar Mardi, Sakib Hussain
Highlights: Babul Kumar 72 (50), Bipin Saurabh 52 (39), Abhijeet Saket 3/31

Game 5: Bihar 119/10 (19.4) lost to Saurashtra 124/2 (14.1) by 8 wickets
T20 Debut: Roshan Madhav

Game 6: Bihar 161/7 (20) lost to Gujarat 165/6 (14) by 4 wickets
Highlights: Mangal Mahrour 51* (37), Sakib Hussain 4/20

Tournament Stats
Highest Scorers
  1. Bipin Saurabh: 141 @ 23.50, 1x50
  2. Sakibul Gani 140 @ 28.00
  3. Sachin Kumar 127 @ 31.75
Highest Wicket-takers
  1. Anuj Raj: 9 @ 14.56
  2. Abhijeet Saket: 7 @ 25.14
  3. Sakib Hussain: 4 @ 11.75
Top Score: Babul Kumar 72 vs Andhra 
Best Bowling: Sakib Hussain 4/20 vs Gujarat
Players Used: 20
T20 Debuts: 7

Overall, not much to write about for the Bihar team, although the things are improving slightly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy 2022-23: Jharkhand Review

Jharkhand were placed in Group E with all matches held in Lucknow. It was a disappointing tourney for the Virat Singh led side, as they started off with a couple of games abandoned and stumbled to two defeats. Two wins at the end redeemed the tournament a bit but overall nothing much to write home about for Jharkhand as they finished 4th in the group.

Here is the game wise summary

Game 1: Jharkhand vs Bengal – Abandoned without a ball bowled

Game 2: Jharkhand vs Chhattisgarh – Abandoned without a ball bowled

Game 3: Jharkhand 106/9 (20) lost to Chandigarh 107/1 (17.3) by 9 wickets
T20 Debut: Aayush Bhardwaj, Rajandeep Singh

Game 4: Tamil Nadu 138/10 (20) beat Jharkhand 126/8 (20) by 12 runs
Highlights: Nadeem 4/12, Vikash Singh 3/22, Virat Singh 52* (38)

Game 5: Jharkhand 188/5 (20) beat Odisha 117/10 (19.2) by 71 runs
T20 Debut: Manishi
Highlights: Ishan Kishan 102* (64), Nadeem 3/21, Anukul Roy 2/19

Game 6: Sikkim 58/10 (17) lost to Jharkhand 61/0 (6) by 10 wickets

Tournament Stats
Highest Scorers
  1. Ishan Kishan: 138 @ 69, 1x100
  2. Virat Singh: 91 @ 45.50, 1x50
  3. Aayush Bhardwaj: 41 @13.67
Highest Wicket-takers
  1. Shahbaz Nadeem: 8 @ 7.00
  2. Vikash Singh: 5 @ 18.00
  3. Vivekanand Tiwari: 3 @ 8.67
Top Score: Ishan Kishan 102* vs Odisha
Best Bowling: Shahbaz Nadeem 4/12 vs Tamil Nadu
Players Used: 17
T20 Debuts: 3 

Overall, nothing noteworthy from the Jharkhand team, It was the proven performers like Ishan and Nadeem who gave decent performances. Hoping for better outcomes in the coming tournaments

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Jharkhand 2022-23: Duleep Trophy

The new domestic season kicked off with the Duleep Trophy which is returning after a gap of 2 years. Another sign that the world is returning back to normalcy after the Covid-19 pandemic!

Duleep Trophy reverted back to the inter-zonal format. Much better than being part of Elite/Plate A/B/C or India Red/Blue/Green!

From Jharkhand, Virat Singh, Nazim Siddique, Kumar Kushagra & Shahbaz Nadeem made the East Zone squad, with Virat being named the vice-captain. In the Quarter-final against North Zone, only Virat and Nadeem made the playing XI. Virat top-scoring with 117 (his 7th century in first-class cricket) in the first innings and 7 in the 2nd. Nadeem had figures of 2/124 in the only North Zone innings. North Zone making it to the semis on the basis of 1st innings lead.

Meanwhile, our star fast bowler Varun Aaron has decided to shift to Baroda after having been part of Jharkhand squads for 18 seasons! Wishing him the best for his new stint. 

So, overall, a sedate start to the season. Let's see what the rest of the season holds for the team.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Arbit Stats #73: Trent Boult – Topping the Bottom

In the highly entertaining Trent Bridge Test, it was Trent Boult who got the statistic to remember. During the course of his two innings, he surpassed the great Muttiah Muralitharan as the batter with the most runs scored batting at No. 11.

This is certainly a unique record as it requires the perfect amalgamation of a lot of contrasting skills into achieving it. Some of these include:
  1. Longevity: the first test for any greatness. One certainly needs a long career to produce so many runs
  2. Competence with the ball: otherwise you will not be put in the XI, especially these days in the era of multi-dimensional cricketers.
  3. Being the worst batter of the group: If you start regularly scoring more than the fair share of runs expected from a No. 11, you may get promoted to No. 10 (or higher) and that ends your bid for this record (ask Zaheer Khan, once scored 75 at No. 11 and was then bumped up the order). And the group will be regularly changing. There is far greater churn amongst bowlers due to pitch, form, rotation and injuries.
  4. Luck: there is a fair chance the days you are in good form having hit a couple of 4s off the middle of the bat, successfully blocking others, the next over the other guy gets out and that’s it for the innings.
  5. A not so great batting order: which doesn’t score so big that the captain regularly declares the innings and the last fellows don’t even get a strike in the middle. 
Overall, a bowler with a long career, who is able to wield the bat as an instrument to collect random runs without showing any real batting skill and lots of luck. 

Just look at the names in the Top 10 – Boult, Murali, Anderson, McGrath, Walsh, Willis, Statham, Ntini, Lyon, Hazlewood.

All a perfect amalgamation of the above factors.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Ranji Trophy 2021-22 Quarter-Finals: Jharkhand vs Bengal

Bengal 773/7d 318/7d drew with Jharkhand 298/10. Bengal qualify for semi-finals

Karma is real. That must have been the feeling of Jharkhand team as Bengal did to them what they themselves had done to Nagaland in the previous game. i.e., bat till the 3rd day, then skittle out the opposition, take a big lead, bat again into the 5th day, declare and then shake hands.

This was another game more for the statistically obsessed.

  • 9 – First ever instance of 9 batters scoring a 50 in the same first-class innings. Well done Bengal!
  • Virat Singh – 6th first-class century & 3rd of the season. Maybe Sunrisers made a mistake by letting him go
  • Shahbaz Nadeem – 22nd career 5-wicket haul. Unfortunately, it came in the second innings when it was all over.
Season Stats
Highest Scorers
  1. Kumar Kushagra 439 @ 62.71, 1x200, 2x50
  2. Virat Singh 391 @ 55.86, 3x100
  3. Nazim Siddiqui 322 @ 35.78, 1x100, 2x50
Highest Wicket-takers
  1. Shahbaz Nadeem 25 @ 24.96, 3x5, 1x10
  2. Sushant Mishra 16 @ 30.94, 1x5
  3. Anukul Roy 12 @ 33.67
Best Batting: Kumar Kushagra 254 vs Nagaland
Best Bowling: Sushant Mishra 5/27 vs Chhattisgarh
Player Count: 15
Captain Count: 2
First-Class Debut: 3

Coming Up Next: Wait for the next season to start, which should be a full one

Monday, May 30, 2022

IPL 2022: Jharkhand & Bihar Performances

IPL 2022 is done and dusted with Gujarat Titans winning the title in their first appearance in the tournament. Here is a short summary of the representatives of Jharkhand & Bihar teams at this edition of the IPL.
  1. MS Dhoni (CSK) – 14 Matches, 232 runs @33.14 with 1 fifty, 9 catches. After having stepped down had to take over the captaincy midway through the tournament. And he has announced that he will be back next season
  2. Ishan Kishan (MI) – 14 matches, 418 runs @32.15 with 3 50s, 13 catches. This was an ordinary season for Ishan, yet he scored over 400 runs and was the top run-getter for MI.
  3. Varun Aaron (GT) – 2 matches, 2 wickets @26 & ER of 10.40. Did not really make much use of his two outings for the eventual champions, but he has an IPL trophy now.
  4. Anukul Roy (KKR) – 2 matches, 1 wicket @55 & ER 7.85. Finally got some game time but no special performance.
No games for Shahbaz Nadeem (LSG) and Bihar's sole representative Anunay Singh (RR).

Nothing out of ordinary from the Jharkhand players in the limited outings they got. Slightly disappointing to see that given the league had expanded and teams were playing locals more often. 

Next up – Ranji Trophy Quarter-finals for Jharkhand.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

IPL 2022: Jharkhand & Bihar Representation

IPL 2022 is around the corner. It is expanded, still impacted by the pandemic but most importantly back in India. All matches in its own bubble though instead of going all over the country.

Here are the representatives from Jharkhand and Bihar who will be appearing in this edition

  1. MS Dhoni (Chennai Super Kings) – he may have retired from all other formats and tournaments, but Dhoni continues to a vital cog in the CSK juggernaut.
  2. Ishan Kishan (Mumbai Indians) – MI broke the bank for Ishan. As expected, he was the highest valued player in this year’s auctions. And now has to live up to this price tag as well.
  3. Varun Aaron (Gujarat Titans) – Should get a few games during the tournament
  4. Anukul Roy (Kolkata Knight Riders) – moved from Mumbai Indians where he was playing more as a specialist substitute fielder. Lets see what opportunities he gets with KKR
  5. Shahbaz Nadeem (Lucknow Super Giants) – A new franchisee for Nadeem. Should get a few games here.
Bihar - Anunay Singh (Rajasthan Royals) – first ever representative of Bihar team to be picked by an IPL team. Hope he gets some game time.

There were no takers for the likes of Saurabh Tiwary (quite surprising), Virat Singh & Utkarsh Singh who were part of last year’s squads. There could be some injury/withdrawal replacements opening up during the tournament. 

Good luck to all the players! Hope they use these opportunities to further their careers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Ranji Trophy 2021-22: Pre-Quarter Final - Jharkhand vs Nagaland

Jharkhand 880/10 & 417/6d drew with Nagaland 289/10

What a weird match. Played on a non-responsive pitch showing the gulf between the Elite and Plate groups. Jharkhand could be accused of not showing “intent” to win, but what would they even gain had they tried winning. Better to just bat on rather than field in these hot conditions! And they did take 100 overs to get Nagaland out in the first innings.

This was also a game for the record keepers and statisticians. And it also got the social media attention helped by the fact that it was the only Ranji game on.

Small mercy for Nagaland – everyone agreed to a Draw much before the scheduled close, otherwise they had a small matter of 1,009 runs to chase in the final innings.

And spare a thought for the Jharkhand top order who did not really join this run-feast like their middle and lower order did! And credit to Saurabh Tiwary and Virat Singh for not batting in the second innings! Meanwhile wondering how Sushant Mishra would feel for getting a pair in this match

  • 880 – 4th highest Ranji Trophy score ever and the highest in this millennium
  • 1297 – Jharkhand’s combined tally – 3rd highest match tally. I guess the team minght not have been aware of this record when they called in the second innings.
  • Kumar Kushagra – 254 & 89 – Maiden first-class century. Scoring big runs in the true tradition of a Jharkhand wicket-keeper (Dhoni, Ishan Kishan, Indrani Roy)
  • Virat Singh – 5th First-class century
  • Anukul Roy – 2nd first-class century & personal best of 153
  • Shahbaz Nadeem – 2nd first-class century & personal best of 177
  • Rahul Shukla – 85* coming in at No. 11. He certainly missed out on century
Season Stats
Highest Scorers
  1. Kumar Kushagra 437 @ 72.83, 1x200, 1x50
  2. Anukul Roy 283 @ 35.38, 1x100, 1x50
  3. Virat Singh 278 @ 39.71, 2x100
Highest Wicket-takers
  1. Shahbaz Nadeem 18 @ 21.67, 2x5, 1x10
  2. Sushant Mishra 13 @ 23.62, 1x5
  3. Anukul Roy 10 @ 23.50
Best Batting: Kumar Kushagra 254 vs Nagaland
Best Bowling: Sushant Mishra 5/27 vs Chhattisgarh
Player Count: 15
Captain Count: 2
First-Class Debut: 3

Coming Up Next: Quarter-Finals which will be held post IPL

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Ranji Trophy 2021-22: Bihar Review

Bihar finished 5th in the Plate group with a campaign which started promisingly ending in a whimper. However, Sakibul Gani’s breakout performance were certainly the highlight of the campaign. Let’s see how he builds on from here.

Ashutosh Aman lead the side. Here is a game-by-game summary of the season.

Game1: Bihar 686/5d drew with Mizoram 328 & 199/4 (f/o)
Points: Bihar 3, Mizoram 1
  • Sakibul Gani 341 – 1st player to score a triple century on first-class debut – world record for highest score on debut
  • Babul Kumar 229* - Highest score, 3rd First-class century
  • 538 – partnership between Sakibul & Babul
  • Bipin Saurabh – 50 on first-class debut
  • First-class debut – Bipin Saurabh, Malay Raj, Sachin Kumar, Sakibul Gani, Vikash Kumar
Game 2: Bihar 431/9d & 263/3 drew with Sikkim 673/8d
Points: Bihar 1, Sikkim 3
  • Sakibul Gani – 98 & 101*, the fantastic start continued, 2nd First-class century
  • Yashasvi Rishav – 112* in 2nd innings, 2nd first-class century
  • First-class debut – Abhinav Kumar
Game 3: Arunachal Pradesh 196 & 253 beat Bihar 109 & 325 by 15 runs
Points: Bihar 0, Arunachal Pradesh 6
  • Ashutosh Aman – 4/51 & 5/56 and 75 in 2nd innings; 15th 5-wicket haul in 20 matches!
  • Vikrant Singh – 50 on debut
  • Rishav Raj – 50 on debut
  • Sakibul Gani – 4 wickets & 61 runs in the match
  • First-class debut – Amit Sotiya, Banshidhar Kumar, Govind Chaudhary, Rishav Raj, Saurav Kumar, Shivam Singh, Vikrant Singh
Season Stats
Highest Scorers
  1. Sakibul Gani 601 @ 150.25, 1x300, 1x100, 1x50 – Highest scorer in this year’s Ranji Trophy
  2. Babul Kumar 372 @ 93.00, 1x200, 1x50
  3. Bipin Saurabh 126 @ 126.00, 2x50
Highest Wicket-takers
  1. Ashutosh Aman 14 @ 20.50, 1x5
  2. Abhijeet Saket 8 @ 29.75
  3. Sachin Kumar 6 @ 37.50
Best Batting: Sakibul Gani 341 vs Mizoram
Best Bowling: Ashutosh Aman 5/56 vs Arunachal Pradesh
Player Count: 20
Captain Count: 1 
First-Class Debut: 13

Monday, March 7, 2022

Ranji Trophy 2021-22: Jharkhand Group Stage Review

Ranji Trophy returned after a season off due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, with the Omicron wave and restrictions still in place it was a short season with all teams getting just 3 games! But at least we had some action.

One team which certainly enjoyed this run was Jharkhand. They lost their first game against Chhattisgarh but then roared back with wins against Delhi and Tamil Nadu to top the group. However, having the worst record amongst all 8 group toppers, they will have to enter the play-off against Nagaland (who finished top of the Plate Group). But I guess the players wouldn’t complain as this gives them one more game!

Jharkhand’s season was headlined by the older warhorses – Saurabh Tiwary & Shahbaz Nadeem who each played a stellar role in getting the victories. They also had good support from the likes of Virat Singh, Rahul Shukla, Nazim Siddique and relative newcomer Kumar Suraj and debutante Sushant Mishra. Suraj is currently averaging over 50 although its still early days in his career!

Here is a game-by-game summary of the season so far.
Captains: Saurabh Tiwary Game 1 & 3, Virat Singh Game 2

Game 1: Jharkhand 169 & 133 lost to Chhattisgarh 174 & 129/2 by 8 wickets
Points: Jharkhand 0, Chhattisgarh 6
  • Sushant Mishra 5/27 in 1st innings on debut
  • Saurabh Tiwary completed 7000 runs in first-class cricket in his 101st game
Game 2: Jharkhand 251 & 307/7d beat Delhi 224 & 319 by 15 runs
Points: Jharkhand 6, Delhi 0
  • Virat Singh -103* in 1st innings, First-class Century #4
  • Shahbaz Nadeem – 5/58 & 5/83, First-class 5-wicket haul #20 & #21 and 10-wicket haul #6
  • Nazim Siddiqui – 52 & 110, First-class century #4
  • Kumar Suraj – 131* in 2nd innings, First-class century #3
  • First-class debut – Kumar Kushagra & Vikash Vishal
Game 3: Tamil Nadu 285 & 152 lost to Jharkhand 226 & 214/8 by 2 wickets
Points: Jharkhand 6, Tamil Nadu 0
  • Saurabh Tiwary – 58 & 93
  • Rahul Shukla – 3/57 & 5/29, 6th 5-wicket haul in first-class cricket
  • Kumar Kushagra – 1st First-class 50
Season Stats:
Highest Scorers
  1. Nazim Siddiqui 199 @ 33.17, 1x100, 1x50
  2. Saurabh Tiwary 182 @ 45.50, 2x50
  3. Virat Singh 171 @ 28.50, 1x100
Highest Wicket-takers
  1. Shahbaz Nadeem 15 @ 21.33, 2x5, 1x10
  2. Sushant Mishra 11 @ 20.73, 1x5
  3. Rahul Shukla 8 @ 10.75, 1x5
Best Batting: Kumar Suraj 131* vs Delhi
Best Bowling: Sushant Mishra 5/27 vs Chhattisgarh
Player Count: 15
Captain Count: 2
First-Class Debut: 3

Coming Up Next: Pre-Quarter-Final vs Nagaland from March 12th

Saturday, March 5, 2022

RIP Shane Warne

What a shocking piece of news. The phone had pinged with the notification of Shane Warne’s passing away. It was simple unbelievable. While the days are usually filled with terrible news – the Russian invasion of Ukraine, spiraling energy prices, a threat of nuclear war – somehow this one left me quite shaken.

Warne was a legend of the game. His career stats are outstanding – 708 wickets, most wickets in a year, most runs without a Test century, Player of the Match in World Cup semis & final, world cup winner, multiple Ashes winner, winning the IPL as player-captain-coach! The highlights reel of this stellar career is just the stuff of dreams and all this after a 1/150 on debut! And there was the flipside also – bookie information passing, run-ins with establishment, a drugs ban. But his sheer genius with a ball in hand (and sometimes with the bat as well) made him a true star. After all, not many could make things happen the way he did. And let's admit which cricket fan has not tried to imitate Warne’s bowling action. It was a simple action, an easy walk and just bowl it, nothing complicated and the ball then did all the talking!

His performances against India may have been a blip but here also he took a rag-tag bunch of Rajasthan Royals to inaugural IPL trophy ensuring that even us Indians barely impressed by any spinner finally acknowledged his genius.

Thankfully for the cricket fans, we have YouTube which is treasure trove of Warne’s accomplishments. Here is a compilation of my favorite ones.

Ball of the century to Mike Gatting

IMO his best ball in Test cricket – to Andrew Strauss

The ultimate sign of genius – walking the talk as he dismisses Brendon McCullum in a BBL game

Rest In Peace Shane Keith Warne – you legend!

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Vijay Hazare Trophy 2021-22: Bihar Review

Bihar played in the Plate League. With 3 wins and 2 losses from 5 matches, Bihar finished 3rd in the 8 team Plate League, thus missing out on a knock-out berth. Ashutosh Aman led the side. 

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

Game 1: Bihar 222/8 (50) lost to Mizoram 223/3 (47.4) by 7 wickets 
Highlights: Sakibul Gani 114 
List A Debut: Abhijeet Saket, Bipin Saurabh, Malay Raj 

Game 2: Meghalaya 273/6 (50) beat Bihar 272/10 (50) by 1 run 
Highlights: Amod Yadav 3/44, Sakibul Gani 94 
List A Debut: Amod Yadav 

Game 3: Bihar 280/8 (50) beat Nagaland 142/10 (31.4) by 138 runs 
Highlights: Bipin Saurabh 79, Mangal Mahrour 94*, Sarfaraz Ashraf 3/18, Ashutosh Aman 2/14, Shashi Shekhar 2/9 
List A Debut: Nikhil Anand 

Game 4: Sikkim 193/9 (50) lost to Bihar 194/3 (36.5) by 7 wickets 
Highlights: Ashutosh Aman 4/37, Bipin Saurabh 92* 

Game 5: Arunachal Pradesh 83/10 (21.3) lost to Bihar 87/4 (19.1) by 6 wickets 
Highlights: Malay Raj 5/38, Sachin Kumar 3/6, Sakibul Gani 2/29 
List A Debut: Aditya Singh, Kumar Rajnish, Washim Ashrar 

Season Stats 
Highest Scorers 
  1. Sakibul Gani 231 @ 77.00, 1x100, 1x50 
  2. Mangal Mahrour 188 @ 62.67, 1x50 
  3. Bipin Saurabh 182 @ 60.67, 2x50 
Highest Wicket-takers 
  1. Ashutosh Aman 7 @ 19.14 
  2. Malay Raj 6 @ 13.00 
  3. Shashi Shekhar 6 @ 15.83 
Best Batting: Sakibul Gani 114 vs Mizoram 
Best Bowling: Malay Raj 5/38 vs Arunachal Pradesh 
Players Used: 22 
List A Debut: 8 

Overall, not a particularly great run for Bihar. No steady team selections, Debuts being handed out all over the place. Pure batters coming in at the tail! Difficult to see how this team gets better in the near future. 

And now we enter a phase of uncertainty for the next fixture. Although there is an IPL auction coming up as well, but with the exception of Sakibul Gani and maybe Bipin Saurabh, the performances just aren't good enough. Let's see how many progress into the final auction list!

Monday, January 24, 2022

Vijay Hazare Trophy 2021-22: Jharkhand Review

Domestic Cricket continues to be in stop-start mode since the covid pandemic first hit. And just when things seemed to be heading back to normal, India is now in grips of the third wave leading to postponement of Ranji Trophy again. In the interim, Vijay Hazare Trophy was successfully held (a tremendous achievement given the logistical challenges) 

Jharkhand had another middling tournament. They won 2 & lost 3 matches to finish 3rd in the group missing out a berth in the knock-outs. Virat Singh lead the side in the first two games in Saurabh Tiwary’s s absence, who led the side in the remaining three. 

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

Game 1: Jharkhand 263/8 (50) lost to Delhi 264/4 (47) by 6 wickets 
Highlights: Virat Singh 79, Kaushal Singh 69, Anukul Roy 47 & 1/49 
Debut: Sushant Mishra 

Game 2: Uttar Pradesh 239/7 (50) lost to Jharkhand 242/2 (46.1) by 8 wickets 
Highlights: Rahul Shukla 3/51, Varun Aaron 2/36, Nazim Siddiqui 116, Utkarsh Singh 57* 

Game 3: Haryana 281/3 (50) beat Jharkhand 253/10 (49.3) by 28 runs 
Highlights: Nazim Siddiqui 62, Utkarsh Singh 78 

Game 4: Jharkhand 211/10 (49.1) lost to Saurashtra 212/3 (34.4) by 7 wickets 
Highlights: Ishank Jaggi 56, Utkarsh Singh 55, Varun Aaron 2/34 

Game 5: Jharkhand 276/10 (50) beat Hyderabad 240/10 (48.4) by 36 runs 
Highlights: Virat Singh 65, Varun Aaron 3/50, Shahbaz Nadeem 3/32 

Season Stats 
Highest Scorers 
  1. Nazim Siddiqui 271 @ 54.20, 1x100, 1x50 
  2. Virat Singh 196 @ 49.00, 2x50 
  3. Utkarsh Singh 191 @ 47.75, 3x50 
Highest Wicket-takers 
  1. Varun Aaron 8 @ 20.13 
  2. Shahbaz Nadeem 6 @ 37.17 
  3. Rahul Shukla 4 @ 48.75 
Best Batting: Nazim Siddiqui 116 vs Uttar Pradesh 
Best Bowling: Shahbaz Nadeem 3/32 vs Hyderabad 
Players Used: 15 
List A Debut: 1 

Overall, not a particularly great run for Jharkhand. Ishan Kishan was once again missed. And now we enter a phase of uncertainty for the next fixture. Although there is an IPL auction coming up as well.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Gabba - a year ago

"It ain't about hard you hit. It's about hard you can get hit and keep moving forward" - Rocky Balboa  

Date: 19th January, 2021 – one year ago. 
Location: Gabba, Brisbane, Australia (a.k.a the Gabbatoir) 
Result: India won by 3 wickets

Usually, it is the losing team which looks for excuses. Here the winning team had them all and more – alien conditions, long tour, lost 4 tosses, ravaged by injuries, inexperienced players, covid threat, and yet they came out winning! 

Just one single stat exposed the gulf between the two teams. Going into that Test – India had a collective experience of having taken 13 Test wickets while the Aussies had 1,033! And there was a small ask of chasing over 300 on the 5th day. Somehow, none of this mattered as the trio of Pujara, Gill and Pant, blocked and bludgeoned past the target taking numerous body blows but never yielding. 

The last day was crazy. Still get goosebumps a year later, thinking of how that day went. All superstitions were put in place lest I somehow jinx the team – avoid posting anything on social media, folllow/watch the game from same website etc., stay in position, even avoid breathing at times! Such was the adrenaline rush at the winning moment that felt like running out in the streets to celebrate (not an advisable thing to do in covid times). Social media felt like being part of a collective celebration with its toxicity drastically reduced for a while. 

What all India overcame – bio bubbles (it gets crazy after a while), covid restrictions, injured players, 36 all out, off field controversies, racial abuse! Yet we came out tops, because someone always came in and put in their finger in the dyke and saved the city! 

What the win also did was put into context the previous 2-1 victory in Australia (2018-19). Given how depleted the Indian team of 2020-21 was, Aussies can’t keep harping about missing Smith & Warner in previous tour!

The Gabba bastion had been well and truly breached after 32 years! Or in the immortal words of Vivek Razdan, "toot gaya Gabba ka ghamand"

We remember not the scores and the results in after years; it is the men who remain in our minds, in our imaginations" - Neville Cardus 

And that’s how Rahane, Pujara, Vihari, Ashwin, Jadeja, Pujara, Gill, Pant, Siraj, Thakur, Sundar, Bumrah, Natarajan will be remain in our collective imaginations. 

P.S. The win also led to an essay writing competition on the internet. Everyone had a say on the win (and why not). And they did have their say. And it is a year later and yet I felt that I had to post my thoughts!

Thursday, January 6, 2022

The World Cup XV - the Women in Blue

There is an ODI World Cup happening soon. The Women's ODI World Cup, in to be held in New Zealand next month. The last one in England, 2017 was special. For quite a big number of fans, that was the tournament in which Women's cricket became just cricket. Who can forget that Harmanpreet Kaur special in the semi-finals!

However, the road since then hasn't been the smoothest, with Covid, specially creating all sorts of troubles. The Qualifying cycle and the final Qualifiers were disrupted by Covid. Even the tournament itself was pushed back by a year. And, just to add to the uncertainty, there is another Covid ongoing at different parts of the world. 

We still hope that the tournament proceeds as per schedule with no interruptions due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, India have named their squad for the tournament. 

Mithali Raj (C), Harmanpreet Kaur (VC), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Varma, Yastika Bhatia, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh, Taniya Bhatia, Sneh Rana, Pooja Vastrakar, Jhulan Goswami, Meghna Singh, Renuka Singh, Poonam Yadav & Rajeshwari Gayakwad. 

S Meghna, Ekta Bisht & Simran Bahadur will be the stand-bys.

Team seems to be good mixture of experience and youth. There are some questions on certain non-selections e.g. Jemimah, Shikha Pandey. But the selectors know best. The World Cup would be the last hurrah for two legends of the game - mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, both of whom are at end of two decades plus international careers (Interestingly both have biopics coming up).

Wishing the very best to the squad. They also play New Zealand prior to the World Cup. That should be a good familiarization with the playing conditions.

Also, hoping for a safe tournament for all players and support staff,

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

The Twenty21 Lineup

Presenting the Slipstream Cricket Line-up from the year 2021 AD.

1. The Ever-changing Schedule 
Games are scheduled. But till the toss is held, you have no idea if the game would actually go ahead. That’s the level of uncertainty created by Covid. Even the most secure of bio-bubbles have been breached by the virus. All the major leagues were disrupted, to varying degrees. International calendar became more lopsided, team sizes have ballooned. England replaced an entire team. India played a T20 with just 4 batters (off whom 3 made their debut). And yet the administrators and players gamely move on. They prioritized the tournaments/series which generate the most moolah. But that has been the harsh reality. Kudos to the organizers, players, support teams who got us as much cricket as possible. 

2. World Champions 
Finally, Test Cricket has a World Champion - New Zealand. They won a proper final in a proper manner. Although the qualification route was convoluted and covid-ravaged! But they certainly were deserving champions. By the way, just how convoluted was the Championship – South Africa and West Indies played a series which was part of the Championship group stage AFTER the Finals! 

3. One More Step
The guardians of the game have changed the term Batsman to Batter. Just that one more tiny little step towards gender equity. It is still a long way to go. Just look at the disparity in number of games across levels between men and women. And the pandemic has just increased the gap in many ways. 

4. Debutantes 
  • Women’s ODI: Zimbabwe (personally I was surprised to learn that Zimbabwe women have never played an ODI) 
  • Men’s T20I: Bahamas, Cameroon, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Hungary, Lesotho, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra leone, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania 
  • Women’s T20I: Belgium, Cameroon, Eswatini, Italy, Sweden 
5. They Were Robbed 
Thailand gave a super performance to reach the Super 6 of the Women’s World Cup qualifiers only for the tournament to be scrapped because of Omicron cases rising. Not only the World Cup they also missed out on ODI status for the next qualification cycle! Meanwhile, a team which doesn’t exist (Afghanistan women) has Test status! The mandarins at ICC really need to get rid of some of the classism which still exists in the global cricketing ranks. A major step would be to de-link on-field performance of Men & Women sides. 

6. Performance of the Year
Ajaz Patel became just the 3rd bowler to take all 10 wickets in an innings, and the first in overseas Test match and promptly got dropped for New Zealand’s next Test. And this after being involved in a match-saving last-wicket stand in the game before! 
Special mentions - Frederique Overdijk – 7/3 for Netherlands vs France which are the best T20I figures ever. And Jaskaran Malhotra 6 sixes in an over USA vs Papua New Guinea in an ODI. 

7. The fortresses breached 
  • Pakistan finally after 3 decades of trying beat India in a Men’s World Cup game with a thumping 10-wicket margin in the T20 World Cup. That record had to go some day. Well, we are still unbeaten in the Men’s ODI World Cup. 
  • Then there was the greatest breach of all. Australia losing at Gabba for the first time in 32 years. As if this wasn’t a big event in itself, India achieved this with a depleted lineup and a bowling unit with a combined experience of 12 Test wickets! 
8. Picture of the Year 
Rakheem Cornwall with 2 teammates hanging on to him. He literally is the size of 2 humans!

9. Freak Injury of the Year
These are times in which players miss games because they had lunch at the same place where a covid positive case was also present. But Ben Foakes’s case is unique. He slipped on a sock, in the dressing room, in a county game and went on to miss England’s international summer. 

10. Comeback of the Year 
Indian women’s team returned to the Test arena with two matches including one Pink-ball game. But with no actual plans in place for domestic first-class games, these just seem marketing gimmicks. Although good to see that BCCI mandarins see the women’s game as worth marketing. 

11. The New Format 
Every year cricket throws in some new format, to win new fans but just ending up confusing the existing ones further. And spare a thought for the statisticians of the game. So, this year we have The Hundred! Why couldn’t they just have packaged T20 better! 

The 12th: The longest innings – Eileen Ash. She represented England on wither side of the Second World War. And in 2021 moved on at 110. RIP! 

And off the field South Africa’s mixed messages on taking the knee and the revelations of the SJN report. Hopefully they take some real steps while maintaining a competitive team at the same time. And the Tim Paine scandal which just blew off the Elite Honesty fa├žade of Cricket Australia

That was cricketing year 2021. And we are already in some nice action in 2022. Hopefully (fingers crossed), the cricketing schedule is less Covid disrupted this year.

Wishing all readers a Happy, Healthy & Safe 2022 filled with lots of on-field cricketing action.