Category: India cricket news (page 1 of 54)

When did Kolkata become dibbly-dobbly military-medium paradise?

Wriddiham Saha talks prevailing winds (via BCCI Twitter)

If you were India and had access to a time-and-place machine capable of replacing a nearby patch of land with one from elsewhere and elsewhen, then when and where would you choose to play Sri Lanka at Test cricket?

It’s unlikely that you answered ‘Derby last April’ but that is apparently what the nominally home team decided. There’s been swing and seam aplenty. In a match blighted by rain and bad light, India are 74-5. They’ve been dobbled.

We’ll be watching the rest of this match with interest – if only to see whether any Derbyshire players breach the walls of the portal and inadvertently saunter into Kolkata/the future.


With the Ashes decided, England and Australia will look to determine which has the better ODI second XI

England v Australia ODI at the Riverside (CC licensed by Steve Parkinson via Flickr)

England and Australia fans who enjoy answering the question “so why isn’t this the Ashes then?” will be delighted to hear that the two sides are going to do that thing where they follow the Test series with five don’t-give-a-toss one-day matches six months later in the other country.

The news comes as part of the ECB’s announcement of England’s 2018 summer fixtures.

Pakistan will turn up first in a somewhat forlorn bid to try and breathe a bit of life into the springtime two-Test non-series.

After that, it’s a one-dayer against Scotland and then five against Australia, during which both sides will doubtless make an attempt to ‘blood some exciting new talent’.

Then it’s India for the main event. After three T20 internationals and three one-day internationals, the tourists will play five Tests: three in the South-East and two in the Midlands.


Jason Holder starts to play how you always imagined he would

India failed to chase down 190 against the West Indies and there were a couple of prominent reasons for this.

Firstly, MS Dhoni hit India’s slowest half-century in 16 years – although ‘hit’ seems an entirely inappropriate word to use for an innings of 54 off 114 balls. MS Dhoni bobbled India’s slowest half-century in 16 years. He was there until six balls to go too, so his soporific knock actually took in much of ‘the slog’ .

Another reason for India’s low score was Jason Holder.

When we first caught sight of Holder, we thought ‘ooh hell’ or something along those lines. Two metres tall, a seam bowler who could bat, we had visions of Curtly Ambrose as an all-rounder. After watching him play, he came across as more of an Angus Fraser/Chris Tavaré character.

While that would be many people’s dream cricketer, it was nevertheless an interesting contrast to one’s expectations. He was clearly a committed cricketer, but a labouring one to whom results didn’t appear to come easily.

For a long time the effort-plus-raw-ingredients-equals-results equation didn’t really add up for Holder, but the final part has been increasing in value for a while now. He took 5-27 against India and if he’s still coming on second or third change in Tests, here he was opening the bowling.

There’s more to come. Albeit probably in the form of a self-destructive diktat from the West Indies Cricket Board.


Peak Pakistan

Virat Kohli makes the least of his reprieve off Mohammad Amir (via ICC)

Scrape into a tournament through being ranked eighth in the world, throw in a few debutants, win the thing.

Quite often you get to play Pakistan. Occasionally you have to play Pakistan. India suffered the latter.

How in blazes?

If we were to imagine that winning a cricket tournament involved repeatedly writing the word WIN on a piece of paper, then Pakistan do not issue their players with pens.

The Pakistan approach is to take a whole bunch of magnifying glasses and then throw them into the air hoping to hell that the sun’s rays strike them at such an angle and at such a moment that the refracted beams scorch the letters into the page without incinerating it. This normally results in a lot of broken glass, but not always.

Fakhar Zaman, the opening batsman who made a devilishly effective hundred in the final, made his one-day international debut last week. Shadab Khan has played five first-class matches. Pakistan also managed to shrug off dropping the finest one-day batsman in the world in the time it took Mohammad Amir to walk back to his mark. Somehow it all worked out and India were not just beaten but positively monstered.

How do you win a one-day tournament in 2017?

The narrative ahead of this competition, at least in the UK media, was that modern one-day cricket is all about hitting sixes and making 400 on flat pitches. This storyline coloured perceptions to such an extent that the national team felt hard done by when they were asked to play a semi-final on a used pitch.

‘That’s not the way one-day cricket is supposed to be,’ they seemed to say, as if there were an official diktat about such things from the governing body. ‘Make the version of the game that we’re good at the only permissible version,’ they added.

But it turns out modern one-day cricket can be many different things.

In the end, the team that won the Champions Trophy was the one that cobbled together the most effective bowling attack, as is so often the case.

Pakistan may well have aspired to build their game around heavy run-scoring, but that never really became an option. A friend of ours maintains that using moisturiser makes your skin “lazy”. Similarly, we wonder whether Pakistan’s bowlers have actually benefited from knowing the value of a run.

Which isn’t to say the Pakistan batsmen didn’t switch it on in the knockout stages, despite suspicions that they lacked the switch, let alone a power source. The truth is that the team – the unit, if you will – did a lot of things well. This was a three dimensional win.


Video: Virat Kohli dropped off Mohammad Amir… Virat Kohli caught off Mohammad Amir

Virat Kohli makes the least of his reprieve off Mohammad Amir (via ICC)

Pakistan often lunge enthusiastically towards the ridiculous in the firm knowledge that this is their best hope of rebounding to sublime cricket – but even for them this moment was something else.

There is a strong argument that Virat Kohli is the finest one-day batsman there’s ever been. He is not a man you can afford to drop in the final of the Champions Trophy.

Oh no, turns out you can.


Nine things to watch out for when India play Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final

There are all sorts of India v Pakistan previews out there, but this is currently the only one on this website that goes up to nine.

1. Jasprit Bumrah’s bowling action

Jasprit Bumrah’s bowling action (via ICC)

Evidence, if it were needed, that the “hey, what’s that over there?” bowling ploy can work just as well at international level as it can in the back garden.

2. Jasprit Bumrah’s name

We’ll literally never tire of it. This is why.

3. Hasan Ali

Who’s been taking all the wickets and not going for runs? Hasan Ali, that’s who.

4. Azhar Ali

Azhar Ali plays a textbook wild hoick (via ICC)

No-one has scored more runs at a lower strike-rate in this Champions Trophy. Not too many people have scored fewer runs at a lower strike-rate either. Yet Pakistan are still in the final, so can anyone really quibble with his approach thus far?

5. Virat Kohli’s anger level

Misfield by team-mate – angry. Lack of effort by team-mate – very angry. Hugely pleasing individual or team performance – positively enraged. Never mind measuring bat speed or the distance covered by fielders, what we’d really like to see is some sort of videogame-style graphical representation of Virat Kohli’s fury levels; a sort of gradually filling bar that turns red and glows once it’s completely full.

6. Virat Kohli more generally

He’s only been out once in the entire tournament. For a duck.

7. Kedar Jadhav’s right-arm filth

Kedar Jadhav’s round-arm shod (via ICC)

This is quite simply what cricket’s all about. Please give him a bowl in the final. Please. Apparently Jadhav doesn’t practise his bowling much in the nets. You’d never guess.

8. Fakhar Zaman

Most teams are keen to groom players for major tournaments in the hope of maximising what they get out of them when it matters. Pakistan pick debutants and see what happens. Zaman has so far made 138 runs in his 117-ball one-day international career.

9. Pakistan pakistanning

Whether it’s a feeble batting collapse, a crazy four-over whirlwind of wicket-taking that decides the match, or Mohammad Hafeez suddenly deciding he’ll bat like Shahid Afridi, you’ll know the moment when Pakistan start pakistanning and it will be (in)glorious.

 


India v Bangladesh goes pretty much exactly how everyone expected

Rohit Sharma tonks one (via ICC)

Rohit Sharma tonks one (via ICC)

Who would have thought this match would turn out exactly as everyone expected it to? What were the odds on that? Extremely slim, you’d have thought, what with the extraordinary wealth of alternative outcomes.

Tamim Iqbal played a good innings and there was reasonable support from one of Bangladesh’s middle-order stalwarts, but  they ultimately fell short of the mythical ‘par’. India’s top three then chased down the target.

It was all as predictable as the punchlines in one of those new sitcoms where they seem to have spent so much time trying to mimic the style of an old sitcom that no-one’s actually found a minute to write any jokes.

India will play Pakistan in the final. It seems unimaginable that it won’t pan out exactly how the group stage game did. Pakistan’s fabled unpredictability will make people think that this won’t happen, so Pakistan will of course feel moved to prove everyone wrong by ensuring that it does.


Sri Lanka force Virat Kohli to use the other knife

Knives (CC licensed by David Harris via Flickr)

Knives (CC licensed by David Harris via Flickr)

Imagine you have a good knife and a really shitty knife. You regularly use both, but the shitty one’s kind of shitty. It can cope with cheese and maybe a courgette, but you’d never risk it on an onion or something like that.

One day you want to slice a tomato. Tomato slicing is not a task you entrust to a shitty knife. That’s how you lose a finger. So you pick up the good knife, you position it on the tomato and apply pressure.

You’ve done it a thousand times before, it’s always worked perfectly, but on this occasion the blade fails to penetrate the skin. Instead it slips back towards your hand and gouges into your fingers. ‘Brilliant,’ you think. ‘The good knife’s gone all shitty. What the hell am I supposed to do now?’

There’s nothing you can do. You set what was once the good knife aside (because for some completely inexplicable reason you’ve never invested in a nice whetstone, so it’s basically blunt forever) and you instead grasp the shitty knife. The shitty knife has just been reinstated as the best knife.

You then proceed to mash the tomato to useless pulp.

Point is, from time to time you’re going to find yourself in a position where something that you routinely rely on suddenly lets you down and you end up having to use the back-up thing as the main thing.

This is what happened when Sri Lanka doled out the hammery to Ravindra Jadeja.

Jadeja went for 52 runs in six overs and Virat Kohli was left thinking: “Wait… what?” – or something along those lines.

He was then forced to make the exact opposite bowling change to the one he’s been conditioned to execute whenever he’s been confronted with an instance of bowler hammery in the past. Instead of bringing Jadeja on, he took Jadeja off.

So what happened? Well, Jadeja had become father to a baby girl earlier in the day. Even if the skiver didn’t show up for the debilitatingly intense bit, that kind of a thing can seriously blunt a man for pretty much the whole of the rest of the day.


Video: Yuvraj Singh goes nuts against Pakistan

It’s nice to see that Yuvraj Singh’s nuts-at-the-end-going capabilities are largely undiminished because going nuts at the end has always been very much his thing.

For their part, Pakistan’s end-nutsiness is largely irrelevant these days because they can’t reliably manoeuvre themselves into a position where it would be appropriate to deploy the long handle.

As an England fan, we can offer hope that there may one day be an end to the familiar ill-timed run-outs and forlorn trying-to-raise-the-run-rate catches in the deep. Don’t ask us when though. All we’re willing to say is that it could happen.


India and Pakistan resolve to fulfil fixture obligation despite Abdul Razzaq’s retirement

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

The cliché is that cricket is a religion in India, which has always seemed to us to greatly overstate the importance of religion in a country where such things are basically ten a paise.

Pakistan’s pretty keen on the sport too. It’s good to find things you have in common.

As an outsider, matches between these two teams are a delight. They’re shorn of the tension borne of having any real preference who wins and yet are riddled with zillions of reminders that what is happening is A Big Deal.

And the fixtures are so rare too. You can’t often say that about international cricket.

If we’re to go digging for a cloud beyond this lovely silver lining – which of course we are – it comes in the form of team selection. No Stuart Binny for India and quite inexplicably no Azhar Mahmood or Abdul Razzaq for Pakistan.

The latter (again) announced his retirement from international cricket two days ago, which must rank as a particularly magnificent effort even by Pakistani standards.

The show goes on though. Our in-depth preview is that India have the better recent record but Pakistan have been in Birmingham for slightly longer, which surely must count for something.


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