Category: India cricket news (page 1 of 56)

Four reasons why you should never challenge England to a collapse-off

England doing what they do best (via Sky Sports video)

India were foolish to challenge England to a collapse-off. No matter who you are, you aren’t going to out-collapse England.

Don’t get us wrong, India do have some real collapsing pedigree. Their performance at Lord’s was borderline exceptional, but the spectacular nature of that particular showing shouldn’t distract from the fact that they were assisted by conditions.

India generally need the ball to swing or seam to deliver a proper collapse. England are a more rounded side. They collapse home and away and can perform on even the flattest tracks. They are able to transcend conditions like no other team in world cricket.

They are also more consistent than anyone else. Again and again they deliver. Even their larger totals are typically only built following a full top six implosion.

Then there’s the depth of talent. It doesn’t seem to matter who comes into the side, they invariably deliver. This is primarily down to culture. England have a rich history of batting collapses stemming from a prolonged spell of extraordinary form in the Eighties and Nineties. To some degree this is taken for granted here in the UK, but this is the kind of grounding that players from other major Test nations lack.

So, to recap, these are the four main reasons why you should never challenge England to a collapse-off.

  1. Their ability to transcend conditions
  2. Their unparalleled consistency
  3. Their depth of talent
  4. The rich and inspiring history they have to draw upon

India have performed well in the first two Tests, but only the very best can continue offering indeterminate prods to balls wide of off stump throughout an entire five-Test series.


The India batsmen who aren’t making any runs are pretty much the same India batsmen who didn’t make any runs last time around

Murali Vijay gets out again (via Sky Sports)

India have had very much the worse of conditions in this match and they have also been facing some masterful swing bowling. All the same, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that they haven’t really made any runs.

Out of interest, we checked which batsmen had played in the Test matches the last time they toured so that we could judge who had failed to come up with a method for dealing with difficult conditions.

Turns out it’s everyone.

You may or may not (want to) remember that India were bowled out for not-very-much several times when they toured England in 2014. A couple of guys made hundreds, but this seemed to coincide with all the other specialist batsmen making nothing. Other times everyone made 30 or 40 but not much more.

By the end of the tour, they were very much batting like they are now with the captain (MS Dhoni back then) playing a lone face-saving hand as the world collapsed around him.

The batting line-up for the first three Tests was Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane.

The one thing you could say is that they didn’t get a huge volume of experience of batting in difficult conditions for the simple reason that they kept getting dismissed.


Was that really a good Test match?

Virat Kohli out LBW (via Sky Sports)

There’s this odd belief in cricket that people want to see fours and sixes. They don’t. They want to see jeopardy.

What is jeopardy? It’s when wickets matter. It’s when everything you see has an impact on the outcome of the game.

When one team makes 400 and the other makes 500, every run is less valuable because everything derives its value from the result. Runs are just a proportion of a win and the more of them there are, the less significant each becomes.

The story is everything and the story needs to corner. If it turns like a barge, there’s nothing.

At Edgbaston, England reached 216-3 in their first innings; progress was becoming stately. Then Virat Kohli ran out Joe Root. England were all out for 287. India were going to win.

Soon afterwards, India were 50-0, at which point Sam Curran swanned in like a scale model of the world’s greatest left-arm swing bowler. Ben Stokes thought he too would swing it and suddenly the score was 100-5. England were going to win.

That became 182-8, but delusional Virat Kohli was surging. The closer England got to the end of India’s innings, the faster he seemed to move away from them. What was happening? Which team had that most precious of all cricketing commodities, momentum? Who was going to win now?

England’s first innings lead was an almost meaningless 13 runs and when R Ashwin chipped out the top three with the lead barely 50, it was still hard to gauge the value of a run. However, after a percussive intervention by Ishant Sharma and with the scoreboard now reading 87-7, the scarcity principle could confidently be applied. When Sam Curran hit some fours and sixes, it was like stumbling across a massive great savings account you’d totally forgotten you had.

India’s target ended up being 194 – a total that for almost the entire innings felt both entirely attainable or wholly unattainable depending what had happened the previous ball.

A massive great outswinger would beat the bat and you’d envision more edges than a d20 and an England win. A solid punch for four and you’d imagine a growing torrent of runs and an India win. When did a four become such an extraordinary volume of runs, you’d think? When did one shot start to have such an enormous impact on the outcome of a Test match?

Every time there was a wicket, there’d be a clunk as you shifted down a gear and adjusted to the new mental cadence. When Kohli was dismissed after his 200th run in the match, it felt like dropping down from the big chain ring to the little one. It wasn’t an incremental shift. It was a step change.

But still the number of runs required came down and still the value of each run scored went up. 40 to win and a bosh to the ropes became a tenth of the match. With two wickets remaining, a long drawn-out LBW review became half the match.

One wicket to go and all of this – all of the runs; all of the wickets; all of the reviews and appeals and drops and leg-byes; all of the time spent plotting dismissals; all of the hours spent diligently countering bowlers; all of it, all of it – was bound up in whether that wicket would fall or whether those priceless few runs were scored.

Was that really a good Test match?


Virat Kohli’s elite levels of obliviousness and delusion

Virat Kohli expressing joy (via Sky Sports)

There were three phases to Virat Kohli’s hundred. There was the bit where he kept being beaten by the bowlers; there was the bit where the ball wasn’t doing quite so much but he was still shaken up; and there was the bit where everything went back to normal and he played like he was going to make a hundred all along.

Far and away the most interesting of the three was the bit where he was shaken up. This is because it didn’t particularly seem to exist.

Have you ever had a near miss on the road?

Like a scary near miss. Someone pulling out on you or moving into your lane on the motorway without looking. Maybe some absolute knobsack in a 4×4 towing a trailer went to overtake you while you were flying downhill on your bike but then instead of actually passing, he just sat there alongside you, trapping you within an 18 inch wide strip of tarmac as you both approached a bend at speed.

Something like that happens and you know about it. Your body carries a memory of it and if anything remotely similar occurs within a certain span of time, your vital systems take a shortcut directly to full-on panic.

This is quite often what happens to batsmen. It’s not so much the one ball with their name on it that gets them as the accumulation of all the balls with very similar names on them. Misses, edges, wrong shots – even just failing to score – eventually batsmen get nervy and then they do something stupid. Maybe not even stupid. Maybe just something less than excellent because that can quite often be enough to get you out in a Test match.

Improving his odds

Doing something wrong (or not quite so well) because of a bunch of stuff that happened previously is one of three main ways in which batsmen get out. (The two that bookend it are unplayable deliveries and getting too cocky.)

Kohli seems to have all but negated the effects of near-misses though; the reverberations just don’t seem to touch him. This is pretty weird because getting freaked out by things that almost result in your (cricket) death is a very natural human response. The elite level of obliviousness being displayed by Kohli is therefore almost literally inhuman.

Forget about it

People talk about shrugging off those moments when you almost lose your wicket, but while many batsmen appear to do so, few move from a close call to complete conviction that it’s going to be their day quite like Kohli.

Such a move requires a great fat tree trunk of confidence; the kind that’s fed by thousands of little tendrilly roots, so that if you cut a few off, it barely even matters. It perhaps also demands [looks shiftily from left to right, lowers voice to a whisper] a certain amount of delusion.

Delusion is very much a strength in sport. If things fall your way, it can be rebranded as confidence after the fact, whereas lack of confidence will pretty much always see you fall before luck can even become a factor. Certainty is good, no matter where you get it from.

This seems to us to be the area where Kohli has an advantage over most people. He’s not invincible. He has weaknesses and periods where he’s vulnerable. It’s just that immediately after he’s threatened, he denies that it ever happened with such absolute certainty that he even convinces himself.


Virat Kohli ran out Joe Root and then he did a good thing and then he did a bad thing

Joe Root getting run out (via Sky Sports)

We don’t know if the following is fair or not. You could probably prove it one way or the other using ‘statistics’ or ‘facts’. It certainly feels true though and if modern politics tells us anything, it’s that what feels true is of far greater significance that what actually is true.

What we feel is this: that Virat Kohli has always been very much a ’10/10 for effort’ kind of fielder.

Just like all the great fielders, Kohli dives around a lot; but unlike all the great fielders, he also seems to quite often throw the ball nowhere near the stumps.

What Kohli does do extremely well is he follows up all of his fielding efforts – both good and bad – with a very intense facial expression. This is designed to convey his unparalleled determination and commitment and gives people a way to say ‘ooh, good effort’ because everyone loves a trier.

(We suffered the grave misfortune of watching one of England’s football world cup games in a pub, surrounded by the kinds of people who watch England world cup games in pubs. Let us tell you now that no-one in the world admires triers more than those guys. They will barely bat an eyelid at beautifully-weighted pass, but give them a full-blooded tackle and a scruffy hoof-out-for-a-corner and they’ll roar their approval at deafening volume.)

Halfway through the first day of the first Test between England and India, Virat Kohli ran out Joe Root with a really good turn and throw. We’ve no idea how much we should recalibrate our Kohli fielding expectations based on this development.

By way of celebration, Kohli mimed a ‘mic drop’, in reference to Root’s embarrassing move at the end of the one-day series, and then said “fuck off”.

This move was, in our opinion, perfectly justified. You don’t dismissively drop your bat/mic after hitting a hundred and winning a series to underline your superiority over the opposition without those people feeling some sort of need to tell you to fuck off a little further down the line.

After the mic drop/fuck off move, Kohli then went for the finger-to-lips ‘shush’ move and, in our opinion, this was not justified – if only because the ‘shush’ move is never justified. The ‘shush’ move falls into the same category as wagging your finger at someone to indicate that they are in some way incorrect.


Which is more likely: a Virat Kohli hundred, an Adil Rashid five-for or a Kuldeep Yadav five-for?

Virat Kohli (via BBC video)

Many things will happen when England play India from tomorrow. It’s tempting to imagine that the first Test match is some sort of newspaper headline final which will only feature those who were prominent during the quarters and semis in recent weeks.

Viewed from that perspective, which is more likely: a Virat Kohli hundred, an Adil Rashid five-for or a Kuldeep Yadav five-for?

Virat Kohli is one of those people for whom the ‘is this actually news?‘ threshold is set very, very low. Virat could make the news for cutting his nails. Virat could also make the news for not having cut his nails.

The one area where he’s legitimately headline-worthy is hundred-scoring. He has made 21 in 66 Test matches, so this is something that happens in almost a third of the matches in which he plays. However, this also means that it is actually considerably more likely that he won’t make a hundred at Edgbaston – particularly when you factor in his record in England up until this point.

The Adil Rashid brouhaha has been dominating people’s attention this week, with almost every significant Yorkshire figure queuing up to have a pop at him (and in so doing perhaps giving us a better explanation than Rashid ever could as to why he doesn’t enjoy spending four days at a time hanging around with them all).

Rashid has one five wicket haul in 10 Test matches. He’s not likely to deliver a second purely because he’s been in the news a lot. You could argue that he has five four-fors in addition to that five-for, but then we’d counter that by pointing out that he might not even play. It is very, very hard indeed to take Test wickets while ferrying drinks around in the high-visibility tabard of squad membership.

Kuldeep Yadav was the big story for the first part of this tour. Kuldeep has played two Test matches and never taken a five-for. There is a very good chance he won’t play this week.

Our conclusion is that of the three possibilities – a Kohli hundred, a Rashid five-for and a Kuldeep five-for – the first is the most likely and the last is the least likely. We will also say that the odds are we’ll see none of these things and the cricket will instead be shaped by Murali Vijay or Jonny Bairstow or someone else no-one’s currently paying much attention to.

Also, to quickly add to a detail from the very first sentence of this article – you’ll notice that it’s a Wednesday start. The second Test at Lord’s starts on a Thursday because of the chicken-and-egg argument that it always gets good crowds. The third Test at Trent Bridge starts on a Saturday. (Good luck with the second half of that one.) After that, there’s a bit of a gap and then a Thursday start in Southampton and a Friday start at the Oval.


We made up a word and Wisden published it

Joe Root (via England Cricket Twitter video)

The word is ‘schedusfaction’ and it means ‘satisfaction with the scheduling of a cricket tour’. We didn’t realise the world had use for such a word until this summer.

England are about to play a Test series against India. You may be aware of this and that might be because the two teams have already warmed up by playing each other in progressively longer formats.

This arrangement – limited overs first – is great for the narrative of the tour. It means the Test stories have a head start and you don’t have to go through quite so much of that time-consuming character development stuff.

Here’s the Wisden piece.


Virat Kohli’s ‘I’ve just been bowled by Adil Rashid’ face

When we wrote about what it’s like to be Virat Kohli, we didn’t for one minute think that there would be any overlap with what it’s like to be Mike Gatting.

Turns out there is. Virat Kohli and Mike Gatting both do a thing where they make an astonished face after being bowled by a leg-spinner.

Here’s Kohli’s ‘I’ve just been bowled by Adil Rashid’ face.

Virat Kohli (via BBC video)


Please can we very quickly talk about that very fine MS Dhoni innings in the last one-dayer?

MS Dhoni (via Sky Sports video)

Imagine a tiger hunting a deer. He’s squatting down in the undergrowth, taut and primed to strike. The deer is ambling around just in front of him, oblivious. When the deer gets close enough, the tiger will leap out and bite him in the neck.

The deer mills around. He mills around for ages. Sometimes he gets closer. Sometimes he moves further away. Sometimes he gets really, really close. But still our tiger does not move. Our tiger knows best. Timing is everything.

Eventually, the deer is so far away as to be almost out of sight. Then he does move out of sight. Then night falls. Then the sun rises. Then night falls again. It is at this point that the tiger briefly leaps out before deciding to head home.

This was MS Dhoni’s innings of 37 off 59 balls in the second one-day international between England and India when India needed about 12 an over.

Dhoni famously likes to ‘take it deep’ when he bats, preying on bowlers’ nervousness when the game gets close. On this occasion he went to Mariana Trench depths in some sort of specially-designed bathscaphe, but at no point did anyone feel the faintest hint of nervousness because depth without closeness does not a nervous fielding side make. Quite the opposite in fact.

The match had to a great extent been lost before MS Dhoni appeared, but we cannot help but applaud him for playing with such extraordinary passivity and complete lack-of-intent. This was one of our all-time favourite one-day innings. It was unforgettable.

MS Dhoni.


There are many different ways to get out to Kuldeep Yadav

Here’s Jason Roy getting it not-right again Kuldeep Yadav.

All images via ECB video

Here’s Roy’s follow-through. You may notice that he’s hitting the ball in the air while simultaneously falling on his arse. It seems safe to assume this probably wasn’t the outcome he envisaged.

Now here’s Joe Root getting it very not-right.

This is how Root ended up. The ball paid a brief visit to his pads but has now departed the scene.

Here’s Jonny Bairstow pretending that he’s not out LBW and actually has the option of running himself out off a leg-bye.

Here’s Jos Buttler confidently dealing with one that turned down the leg side.

Here’s Jos a moment later, exhibiting the fine balance of a dizzy, half-cut Jason Roy.

Here’s Ben Stokes proving that you don’t need to fall on your arse to be dismissed reverse-sweeping Kuldeep Yadav.

What you can’t see here are all the previous occasions when Stokes played the ball straight to a fielder. On this occasion he went one better by also lifting the ball into the air.

Finally, here’s David Willey smashing a long-hop to someone out in the deep, because eventually it’s the bowler’s final delivery of the match and you’re forced to improvise a dismissal.

There are many different ways to get out to Kuldeep Yadav.


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