Showing posts from 2016

Big Daddy Hundreds.

The ongoing season of Ranji Trophy is being played on neutral venues. Before the season started, there was this huge portion of uncertainty as to whether the batsman would be able to adjust on tracks which were foreign in nature in spite of being at home. Putting all speculations aside, five batsman rose to the occasion during the tournament. This piece of writing is not about the batsmen who scored the fastest century or 1,000 runs in the season, but it is about batsmen who toiled on the 22 yards hard and long for their respective maiden triple centuries or the 'Big Daddy Hundreds'.

Swapnil Gugale (Maharashtra) - On a flat batting deck at Wankhede Stadium, Gugale, skipper of Maharashtra elected to bat against Delhi. After losing a couple of wickets in the first 10 overs, Gugale, who came in as opener joined hands with Ankit Bawne to make sure that no other wicket fell during the next 164.5 overs. The 25 year-old right hand batsman finished Day 1 on 152* and eventually scored …

Preview: Boxing Day Test - AUS vs PAK.

Another year. Another Australian summer. Another Boxing Day Test. There is something noteworthy about the test match which starts on December 26 every year. There is this wind of speciality which blows around Melbourne.Boxing Day Test is being played on a regular basis since 1990. Out of the 40 Boxing Day Tests in Melbourne, 23 have been won by Australia whereas eight have been won by touring teams and nine have ended in a draw. The stat clearly shows the dominance of Australia on the Boxing Day eve. Pakistan is the touring team for this year. They have played the Boxing Day Test on three other occasions. The match resulted in a draw in 1983 but the Australians had the better of Pakistan in 2004 and 2009 where they defeated them by nine wickets and 170 runs respectively. Apart from the Boxing Day test, this match also happens to be the second match of the 3-test series. With Pakistan already 0-1 down, a further defeat for them would mean the end of hope of a test series win in Australia…

Preview - IND vs NZ - 1st ODI.

New Zealand would want to start afresh ahead of the ODI series. The fact they played an ODI around 250 days ago and 13,000 km far from Dharamsala best describes their need to take a fresh start. Apart from these numbers, there is one name which they might miss in this series. Brendon McCullum was still leading the side the last time they played an ODI against Australia in Hamilton. This will be Kane Williamson's first ODI series for New Zealand as full-time captain.
But it is easier said than done. They are playing against India in India. A situation which recently handed them a 3-0 whitewash in the test series.
Playing without their key players such as Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Mohammad Shami etc., things are not that sorted for India as well. The home team is likely to play with a bunch of youngsters who will be guided by the likes of captain MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane.
Ajinkya Rahane is all set to open the batti…

Preview - BAN vs ENG - 3rd ODI.

Players and people will be hoping that the rain does not play a spoilsport in the 3rd ODI between Bangladesh and England in Chittagong. The reason is perhaps same for both the players and the people. The series is parked 1-1 at the moment with only one match to go. If the players want to win that match to grab the series, people want to watch that happen.
A win for Bangladesh will make them the first team to win seven bilateral series in a row at home. With all that has happened in the last match, the ultimate match of the series is worth watching. The hosts will be counting on their openers, big time! Whether they set a target or chase it, at least one out of Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes will have to play a big one in this crucial match. Not only them, the onus will also lie on Sabbir Rahman and Mahmudullah. The top order has the potential, conversion of it into performance is what they will be looking at. Out-of-form wicket-keeper, Mushfiqur Rahim will also be itching to get some runs …

India's Young Buds - Wicket Keepers.

Here is a list of Top 5 wicket-keepers to keep an eye on during the 83rd edition of the Ranji Trophy which begins a day after tomorrow. Only those wicket-keepers have been included who have not represented India in any format.

Srikar Bharat (Andhra Pradesh) - Having played in the Duleep Trophy this year, this 23-year old wicket-keeper batsman has amassed 1,983 first-class runs in 29 matches at an average of 43.10. Behind the stumps, he has 113 dismissals to his name.Ankush Bains (Himachal Pradesh) - This former India U-19 player has scored 1,147 runs in 22 first-class matches at an average of 40.96. He has four centuries and a sole half-century to his name. The conversion rate itself speaks everything about the 20-year old. Behind the stumps, he has 56 dismissals under his belt.Eklavya Dwivedi (Uttar Pradesh) - Also the vice-captain of Uttar Pradesh, Dwivedi has impressed one and all with his crucial performances over the years. In Suresh Raina's absence, he will also have to lead …

India's Young Buds - Bowlers.

Here is a list of Top 10 bowlers to keep an eye on during the 83rd edition of Ranji Trophy which begins a day after tomorrow. Only those bowlers have been included who have not represented India in any format.

Shahbaz Nadeem (Jharkhand) - This 27-year old slow left-arm orthodox bowler finished as the highest wicket-taker in the last season of Ranji Trophy. In nine matches, he claimed 51 wickets at an average of 19.62 and a strike rate of 41.3 which was way better than his career average of 29.69 and strike rate of 66.6. Nadeem would be looking to top the bowling charts this year as well.Shardul Thakur (Mumbai) - This 24-year old right arm medium-pacer finished seventh on the list of highest wicket-taker in the last season of Ranji Trophy. His 41 wickets came in 11 matches at an average of 24.51 and a strike rate of 53.4. Having accompanied the Indian team to West Indies recently, he is definitely on the radar of selectors.Ishwar Pandey (Madhya Pradesh) - Another medium-pacer who has be…

India's Young Buds - Batsmen.

Here is a list of Top 10 batsmen to keep an eye on during the 83rd edition of Ranji Trophy which begins a day after tomorrow. Only those batsmen have been included who have not represented India in any format.

Shreyas Iyer (Mumbai) - After being the highest run-scorer (1,321 runs in 11 matches) in the last season of Ranji Trophy, Iyer has somehow experienced a dip in form since then. The 21-year old right-hand batsman had a below par IPL and a mediocre tour of Australia with the India A team. Having scored 2,439 first-class runs in 27 matches, the Mumbaikar would want to get back on track as early as possible.Suryakumar Yadav (Mumbai) - This 26-year old right-hand batsman has been in the limelight for some of the years now. From being appointed as the captain of Mumbai to resigning from the job, he has not let the off-field issues make an impact his on-field performance. The vice-captain of Kolkata Knight Riders has scored 3,340 runs in 48 matches at an average of 46.38. Another fruitf…

Preview - SA vs AUS - 1st ODI.

It is very infrequent for an international team to tour a nation twice in a year. Having said that, Australia is already in South Africa for an ODI series. The visitors travelled to the same destination earlier this year in March for a 3-match T20I series. The first ODI of the five-match series is all set to unfold in Centurion tomorrow.
The home team looked stronger on paper but AB de Villiers' egress due to an elbow injury has put both the teams at the same level. Such is the stature of the man.
Temba Bavuma must feel unfortunate to miss out on this series especially after scoring a ton in his debut match against Ireland. Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla are most likely to open the innings for the Proteas. Faf du Plessis will lead the side in de Villiers' absence. The 32-year old right-hand batsman will bat at No. 3.
Farhaan Behardien should bat at No. 4, for there are better finishers in the Proteas' line-up than him. His style of batting will also come good for them in the…

Review - IND vs NZ - 1st Test - Day 1.

There was no better occasion than India playing it's 500th test match to kick-start the prolonged season which will comprise of 13 test matches. As a matter of regard, many former test captains were present at the Green Park in Kanpur.
Virat Kohli, the current captain of India, won the toss and elected to bat. India went in with the orthodox six batsmen + one wicket-keeper + four bowlers strategy which removed the uncertainty over the inclusion of Rohit Sharma in the playing eleven. With India opting for Murli Vijay and Lokesh Rahul as specialist openers, Shikhar Dhawan had to sit out. In the bowling division, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Amit Mishra were unexpectedly denied a place in the first eleven.
On the other hand, New Zealand played a master card by bringing in Luke Ronchi in place of Henry Nicholls. The inclusion of three spinners was expected in the squad.
Both Rahul and Vijay started on a positive note for India against Trent Boult and Neil Wagner (who was opening the bowling for…

The Big Shift.

Here is a list of the big names which have switched to a different state (team) ahead of the 83rd edition of the Ranji Trophy.

Ambati Rayudu - The 30-year old right-hand batsman who hails originally from Hyderabad was a part of the Baroda squad from the past six years. However, he will turn up for Vidarbha in this season of the Ranji Trophy. Rayudu has a first-class batting average of 44.83. He has 5,874 runs from 94 matches under his belt. With Rayudu most likely to miss India's prolonged test season, Vidarbha will be keen to gain from his services especially in the absence of Subramaniam Badrinath.Subramaniam Badrinath - And the 36-year old right-hand batsman is the second on our list. The veteran batsman has played most of his cricket for his home state, Tamil Nadu. He captained Vidarbha for the last two seasons and is all set to perform the same duty for Hyderabad this time. His 9,778 first-class runs have come at an average of 56.19 in 136 matches.Mohammad Kaif - One of the be…

Preview - WI vs IND - 1st T20I.

A crisp T20I series in Florida was perhaps the best way to terminate India's tour to the West. The host team, West Indies, is ranked No. 3 on the ICC T20I rankings. India, on the other hand, is just one place above them at No. 2. When it comes to the paper, West Indies looks way hefty than India. The presence of all-rounders who fancy the shortest format of the game along with their depth in batting is their principal might. One of the reasons for them being the current 'Champions' of the format.The last time West Indies played a T20I was close to five months ago. The current team is somewhat similar to the one that played in the World Cup. However, the focal point will be Carlos Brathwaite. The 28-year old and 8 T20I's experienced all-rounder is the new captain of the team which obviously means that Darren Sammy will no longer lead the side. The fact that he has been handed the axe as a player as well is hard to digest.
The universal boss, Chris Gayle, would be looking…

Preview - Duleep Trophy - India Green vs India Red.

The Indian domestic season 2016-17 will kick-start with the Duleep Trophy being played in the Greater Noida International Cricket Stadium tomorrow. The tournament has been remoulded from it's original structure which incorporated five teams which represented five different zones of the country respectively. This year the tournament will be played amongst three teams, namely India Blue, India Green and India Red. Every team will get a chance each to lock horns against the other teams which will eventually lead to the final.
Apart from the change in format, the focal point of this tourney is that it will be played with a pink ball under lights. The transmogrification the ball in cricket's ancestral format will happen for the second time in India. Earlier this year, the final of the Division 1 tournament between Mohun Bagan and Bhawanipore in West Bengal was played with the pink ball.
The heart of the tournament also lies in the captains of the three teams. Cricket addicts acros…

Preview - 3rd Test - WI vs IND.

After winning two out of three test matches, India has already gained an indomitable lead in the series. Some 15,000+ km away, an Australian white wash has gifted India the No. 1 ranking in test cricket. There are times in life when things look well in place but the question which arises is that are things really in place?
As a captain, Virat Kohli might not ask for more from his boys. The latter has become the first Indian captain to register two test wins in a series in West Indies. But the combination ahead of the fourth test will still be a 'sweet headache' for him. India included Rohit Sharma at the expense of a solid top order in St. Lucia. The experiment failed big time in the first innings as the visitors were reduced to 126-5 on the first day itself. The second innings fared comparatively better but quick runs were the need of the hour at that moment. The calibre which remained untouched was solidarity.

The time where the captain wants Rohit Sharma to fit into the India…

Review - Day 1 - 3rd Test - WI vs IND.

Before the onset of the match, Indian skipper Virat Kohli hinted at playing two out of the three openers which for most people meant that Cheteshwar Pujara would retain his place. Came the toss and Kohli announced that he will send in the same opening pair (Shikhar Dhawan and Lokesh Rahul) from the last match.
The catch was that Rohit Sharma was included in the squad at the expense of Pujara. Sharma, 29, who is not tailor-made to bat at No. 3 in test matches was brought in at No. 5. His inclusion in the team came at the outlay of the whole middle order being shuffled. Someone of the value of Murli Vijay was also not included in the test eleven, which baffles everyone. Even Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were included in place of Amit Mishra and Umesh Yadav.
Jason Holder won the toss and chose to bowl. Their U-19 star, Alzarri Joseph was handed debut. Leon Johnson, and not Shai Hope, was incorporated to partner Kraigg Brathwaite at the top of the order. The out of form Devendra Bi…

The Asiatic Danger.

Do conditions really change the ambiance of a cricket match? Some might say yes, some might say no, and the argument has it in it to continue throughout the day.
Imagine the result of a contest between the No. 1 team and the No. 7 team? Now, imagine the same with respect to home conditions in the game of cricket.
Visualize the result of a test match between Australia (No. 1) and Sri Lanka (No. 7) being played in Australia? But this day and age are watching the match being played in Sri Lanka. Chance of a turnaround? Big time yes!
Sri Lanka exchanged blows in England without much of a positive result. Their homecoming was expected to provide them some relief, only some because the touring team was the mighty Australia. Came the first test in Pallekele and the No. 1 team was thrashed by 106 runs. Australia was expected to raise the bar of their batting in Galle but getting bundled out on a paltry 106 was nowhere closer to anyone's imagination. The end result being the increase in the m…

Preview - 1st Test - WI vs IND.

The last time India played a test match was some seven and a half months ago. The last venue (New Delhi) that they played in is some 13,000+ km away from Antigua. Such has been the change in time. India won the test series 1-0 during their last tour to the island nation in 2011. With a total of four test matches being played this time, the team under the new coach, Anil Kumble, would be looking for series a win with a larger margin. On the other hand, West Indies would want to replicate their performance from the shortest format. It is easier said than done. But this would be the main motive of the home team. They have it in them to dominate the ancestral format of the game. It is just a matter of time.
West Indies will once again send Rajendra Chandrika to open alongside Kraigg Brathwaite. The former has slowly and steadily established himself at the top of the order for West Indies. Unlike before, he would want a partner who plays according to the conditions and the format to give …

Review - The Investec Series - 1st Test.

Before the onset of this series, who would have thought that Pakistan would beat England within four days?Yes. The above said has happened. Pakistan has become the first Asian team to defeat England at Lord's for the fourth time. The happenings of the match were nothing less than a screenplay. Having won the toss on Day 1, Misbah-ul-Haq elected to bat first. After losing Shan Masood and Mohammad Hafeez before lunch and Azhar Ali and Younis Khan after it, the 42-year old captain stitched a 148-run partnership with Asad Shafiq. Shafiq got out for a well-made 73 but Misbah continued with the fow of runs. He scored his 10th century in test cricket before stumps on the first day itself. As good as it was, the feat was celebrated in the most apt way possible. However, he failed to stick to his guns on the second day and Pakistan was bundled out for 339. Chris Woakes did not let England miss James Anderson as he picked-up a career best six-for. A total of 339 was not a mammoth one but give…

Review - ENG vs SL - One-off T20I.

Prior to the onset of this tour, Sri Lanka would have been banking on their glorious tour of England in 2014. They did the unexpected in 2014 but failed to do the expected this time around. Their recent loss in the one-off T20I meant that the visitors will end the tour without a sole win across formats.

Angelo Mathews, Sri Lankan captain, won the toss and decided to bat first in Southampton. Kusal Mendis, Nuwan Pradeep and Malinda Bandara were handed debuts. On the contrary, England included Liam Dawson and Tymal Mills as debutants. Sri Lanka once again sent Kusal Perera and Danushka Gunathilaka to face the new ball. Chris Jordan started the proceedings for England. The first change bowler in Liam Plunkett was brought in as soon as in the third over. The change immediately worked for Eoin Morgan as Perera's mistimed pull went straight into the hands of Mills as short fine-leg.
Gunathilaka and Kusal Mendia once again repaired the innings for their team. Sri Lanka was 51-1 at the end …

Review - ENG vs SL - 4th ODI.

With the first match ending in a draw and the third one being favored by the rain gods, the 5-match series was effectively a 3-match series now. And with England winning the second one in Edgbaston, Sri Lanka was left with no option than to win the last two contests in order to clinch the ODI series.Having won the toss, England captain, Eoin Morgan put the visitors to bat. England had included Moeen Ali in place of Chris Jordan whereas Sri Lanka was unchanged. Kusal Perera and Danushka Gunathilaka were sent in to face the new ball. It was not too long before England tasted first blood. In the second over, Jonny Bairstow's direct under-arm throw found Perera short of the crease. Kusal Mendis joined Gunathilaka in the middle and the young duo fought fire with fire. In no time, Gunathilaka and Mendis crossed the 50-run mark. They were 64-1 by the end of the first powerplay. Spin in the form of Adil Rashid was introduced in the 11th over but to no effect. Boundaries coming in at regula…

Preview - SL tour of ENG - 2nd ODI.

At Nottingham, the first ODI was perhaps nothing short of some screenplay written by a renowned story writer. A target of 287 was at one time not worth considering for England. The host team had lost six wickets before reaching 100. Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes then came into the rescue act. The duo added 138 for the seventh wicket. Woakes' 92-ball 95* emerged as the highest score by a No. 8 batsman in ODIs.All these deeds and still there was no winner. The match ended in a tie. When seven runs were required of the ultimate ball, Liam Plunkett smashed Nuwan Pradeep for a six. Call it the long haul of both teams that both of them deserved not to be o n the losing side or their errors which did not want any of them to be on the winning side. The second ODI, which will be played in Birmingham today will bring with it a scope for one team to end up on the winning side. Eoin Morgan would want to grab that scope. And so would Angelo Mathews. England is likely to remain unchanged. However,…

Review - India tour to Zimbabwe - 2nd ODI.

Another toss won by MS Dhoni. Another batting crumble for Zimbabwe. Another facile target for India. Another comprehensive Indian victory.
The story has been same. As has been the characters. India defeated Zimbabwe by 9 wickets in the first ODI and by 8 wickets in the second ODI today. After Dhoni put the host team to bat, their fall down began in the fifth over itself. Hamilton Masakadza went against a Barinder Sran half-volley, only managing to hit it straight in the hands of Jasprit Bumrah, who was fielding at third man. Sran picked up his second wicket in his next over when an unlucky Peter Moor was adjourned leg before the wicket. In the replay, hawkeye suggested that the ball would have missed the stumps. Chamu Chibhabha was the next man to go when Dhawal Kulkarni trapped him in front of the stumps in the 10th over. Zimbabwe was 39-3 after 10 overs. The top order had perished. The damage was done. Vusi Sibanda and Sikandar Raza did the repair work. The duo added 67 runs for the fo…