Category: India cricket news (page 1 of 53)

Ben Stokes or Sunil Narine?

Ben Stokes played a handy innings yesterday.

With his team, Rising Pune Supergiant, chasing Gujarat Lions’ 161, Stokes made 103 not out, batting at five.

Cricinfo said that Stokes “owned the MCA Stadium” – although their use of the past tense implies that he’s since sold it or perhaps had it confiscated.

What people want?

This knock would, on the face of it, seem to be what the IPL is all about: big name players making big scores in dramatic fashion. Yet to us, it’s almost the least interesting thing about the competition.

Throw enough decent players together and ask them to play enough T20 cricket, and you’re going to get a few head-turning innings. Without remotely wishing to diminish what was clearly a magnificent example from Stokes, this sort of thing seems almost inevitable. It’s how the competition’s set up.

We find the shadier corners far more interesting; the areas where well-paid coaches are ferreting around trying to eke out an advantage. Because while Stokes won a match for his team, his only other batting contribution of note has been a fifty in a losing cause.

So what else has been happening?

So far this IPL, the storyline that’s had us most intrigued has been that of Sunil Narine the opening batsman.

This is interesting for a kick-off because statistically speaking Narine isn’t any kind of batsman whatsoever. He has never made a fifty in any of the major formats – not even in domestic one-day cricket.

He is, in essence, a pinch hitter.

Narine’s team, the Kolkata Knight Riders, started the tournament with the relentlessly straight-hitting Chris Lynn, a man who’d scythed through the Big Bash League scoring at 177 runs per 100 balls and averaging 154.

Lynn started the IPL in similar style, making 93 not out off 41 balls in his first match and 32 off 24 in his second. Then he got injured.

Cometh the hour, cometh the spin bowler

Lynn was the fifth-highest run-scorer at the Big Bash. His replacement was the fifth-highest wicket-taker in the same competition.

What’s most interesting is that the move has sort of worked. It certainly hasn’t been a failure. Narine still doesn’t have a fifty to his name, but he made 42 off 17 in one match and 34 off 17 in another.

These are handy starts. They give his team-mates time and the risk is low as the loss of Narine is, on the face of it, not the greatest blow to a team’s chances.

Narine doesn’t hang about and this is handy because – odd though it sounds – the first six overs of a T20 innings do typically feature a surprising amount of about-hanging. Even those openers who are big-hitting by reputation will often play themselves in and this is something of a wasted opportunity considering the number of boundary fielders during the first Powerplay.

In conclusion

In a T20 game, a couple of extra boundaries in the first Powerplay could easily prove the difference between victory and defeat. At the same time, a whirlwind innings from one of the world’s greatest players could be the fat man bombing your lilo, trampolining you out of the water.

Who knows which kind of match the next one is going to be. Teams kind of have to bear both in mind.


Virat Kohli is basically livid about beating Australia

Virat Kohli must be the dictionary definition of hard-to-please, for no-one on earth is an enraged by their own success as he is.

When Kohli makes a hundred, he’s angry. When his team wins a series over Australia – even though he’s not actually playing – he’s positively enraged.

We’ve done detailed analysis of a grainy video posted to Twitter to prove that second point.

Somewhat unexpectedly, Kohli’s initial reaction to series victory is something that could, at a push, be construed as pleasure.

virat-1

It isn’t long however before that emotion starts to make way for something else.

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The eyebrows are starting to harden. The jaw is tighter. The fists are starting to clench.

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By this point it’s unmistakeable. Virat Kohli is decidedly pissed off about winning a Test series against Australia.

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This is where he ends up.

Livid.

Absolutely sick to the back teeth, the front teeth and tonsils of experiencing sporting success against his rivals.

Someone is going to pay for this positive outcome.

Big time.


The India v Australia sitcom

This series has finally bucked its ideas up. We’re not sure at precisely what moment things turned – possibly when Steve Smith played on – but at some point somebody pressed the lever on the View-Master, the slide wheel clicked round and the picture changed.

The new view was a normal one, where Australia collapse and India (probably) win. It’s taken a while. Seems like we’ve been waiting for this to happen for pretty much the entire series. There’ve been glimpses before now, but then the wheel’s clicked round again and we’ve been back in some other dimension where Australia are actually worth playing in a country other than Australia.

It’s a bit like a sitcom where no matter what zany escapades take place during the episode, you can rely on everything being pretty much back to normal by the time the credits roll.


Steve Smith woefully out of form in the nets

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

That’s what we’ve heard. We’ve heard that Steve Smith can’t find the middle of the bat when he’s batting in the nets.

Smith may or may not have commented: “I’ve been hitting it really well out in the middle, so I don’t think I’m out of form. If I can just keep on performing well, sooner or later it’s all going to come together and I’ll get some decent results in my preparation as well.

“The coaches say they can’t see too much right with my technique, so it’s the same as it’s always been. I think if I can just stay patient then a good solid net session is right around the corner.”

Conversely, when it comes to Tests, Steve Smith is most definitely not due.


David Warner is totally bossing net cricket

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

David Warner says: “I couldn’t be hitting the ball any better but it’s just that the runs aren’t coming for me at the moment.”

In this week’s Cricket Badger, we point out that this runs counter to Temba Bavuma’s matter-of-fact observation that, “you can’t be playing well and not scoring runs.”

Warner is, presumably, crisply striking the ball straight to slip. In the next couple of days, he’ll get the opportunity to prove his ability to hit it elsewhere.

If there’s one kind of form we love above all others, it’s net form. A batsman’s professional life is bound up with events that are out of his control to a far greater extent than he’d ever care to accept. This leads to a necessary level of self-delusion that is far higher than a rational person would maintain and at no time is this delusion more apparent than when net form is cited.

The next development for Warner will either be:

  1. Scoring some runs – ‘proof’ that he was always in form
  2. Another failure, which he’ll chalk up as the latest in a lengthening list of aberrations

If you’re a batsman, run-scoring is the norm – because if it isn’t, what the hell are you doing with your life?


Mop-up of the day – the batsmen in and out of form

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Australia drew with India, but let’s not focus on how admirably they’re performing. Who the hell wants to read about that? Let’s instead concentrate on tangentia.

David Warner has said that “it will turn around” for him with regards to his recent poor form. We agree. If he keeps being disciplined and preparing assiduously, pretty soon he’ll find himself playing in Australia again and everything’ll be fine.

Virat Kohli has called Cheteshwar Pujara “priceless” and “the most composed player we have in the team.” What he didn’t call him was India’s best batsman.

Elsewhere, the ECB seemingly have plans to play World Cup matches at the imaginatively named London Stadium, which was built for the 2012 Olympics. While there’s a certain jaded “seriously?” quality to this news in light of their having encouraged counties to invest heavily in their grounds for the last however many years, it’s equally true that it would be great to have 60,000 people attending a cricket match in Britain.

Finally, take a look at our latest Cricinfo Twitter round-up, in which we flirt with the sack by devoting around half of the column to Charles Dagnall’s attempt to repair a brick shed. The critics have been calling it nothing at all because hardly anyone’s felt moved to read it.


Steve Smith’s brain fades still further, Bangladesh do the reverse

Bangladesh have won nine Tests and we make this their second win.

The convention is to remove matches in which Bangladesh feature from all Test statistics. This seems unduly harsh at the best of times, but it seems even more so when it’s them who you’re measuring.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of omission, we’ve stripped away all of their Test victories that might be disregarded for one reason or another and we’ve been left with their win over England last October and this one against Sri Lanka. Truly, it is Bangladesh’s Golden Era.

For the record, the Tigers’ other seven wins comprise five against Zimbabwe and two against one of those stand-in West Indies teams, which on this occasion featured luminaries such as Omar Phillips and David Bernard.

Meanwhile, over in Ranchi…

Steve Smith has suffered another horrendous brain fade, leading to grave concerns about his long-term mental health. Smith calmly held his bat out of the way of a ball pitching outside leg, only for it to hit his off stump.

If this brain fadery continues at its current rate, it will be but weeks before he’s entirely forgotten how to execute his magnificent double-elbowed chicken dance bowling action. As this is the only aspect of Steve Smith’s cricket in which we take any pleasure, we’d be keen for him to seek psychiatric treatment post-haste.


Remember what Test cricket in India used to be like?

Big innings, bigger innings, small innings, smaller innings. That used to the be the sequence for a Test match taking place in India. Declarations happened a lot.

Australia just made 451 and it seems a good score, but it wasn’t so long ago you’d be thinking that a team had been skittled if it had only made 451. These sorts of matches still happen, of course. England made over 400 in the first innings of the fourth and fifth Tests last year and lost both by an innings.

Surveying the third Test between India and Australia, it seems like a reversion to the archetype. But how can we be sure? Those old Magic Eye pictures never revealed themselves when you tried to will them to. You just had to chill out and wait and hope that your Zen-like staring-into-the-middle-distance state would do the job before you.

So we’re going with that. We’re adopting a Zen-like, coffee-drinking, reading other news, maybe popping out for a couple of pints later and possibly buying some fried chicken state. All will become clear.


Video: Steve Smith tries to counter Wriddiham Saha’s ball-delving

Day one of the third Test between India and Australia. Glenn Maxwell played cricket and made runs, Steve Smith uglied yet another hundred and Wriddiham Saha went snuffling around in the Australian captain’s crotch in an attempt to pluck out a ball.

Here’s a video.

Got to admire his persistence.


The India players have started faking injuries

Cheteshwar Pujara (CC licensed by Naparazzi via Flickr)

Cheteshwar Pujara (CC licensed by Naparazzi via Flickr)

Pat Farhart news!

About time. It’s been almost a decade.

Farhart is of course the physio who not-all-that-famously helped Australia spinner Beau Casson’s groin “respond”.

He hasn’t got down to any of that sort of business with India yet, but he’s working towards it. Mark our words. He’s giving neck rubs and while we have absolutely no reason to believe that Che Pujara was faking the injury that led to this, we’re going to say that he was anyway.

Speaking after the second Test, Pujara said: “I would like to thank Patrick Farhart, our physio, who made it possible for me to bat, and bat at No. 3, because there was one stage where I felt I might not be able to bat No. 3 because my neck was really sore. But he worked on it and ultimately I achieved the goal for the team.”

‘Oh Pat, Pat. I can’t possibly field today because I’m suffering from some horrendous foot ailment and also a back spasm. Lend me your magical healing hands and I will be able to go and stand at mid-on for a bit.’


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