Category: India cricket news (page 1 of 48)

Why Indian pitches offer an excellent exchange rate

Remember when India’s batsmen used to make double hundreds all the time? Captains routinely doubled up as doctors in the first innings, declaring the innings closed and the pitches dead (even if a certain zombie joie de vivre often manifested itself in the form of turn on day five.)

It’s not like that nowadays. Indian fans no longer find themselves spending four days explaining to irate foreigners that a match isn’t destined to be a draw; that things might move on swiftly when the pitch starts to crumble. Nowadays they have to defend their pitches for doing too much, too soon.

Someone, somewhere apparently imposed some standard where only Australian-style pitches were considered acceptable for Test cricket. Everything else was wrong, evil and ‘doctored’. It seems this game that is defined by variety could only properly be showcased on one particular type of pitch. Diversity painted from the narrowest of palettes.

Is a turning pitch a bad pitch? Of course not. It is good to see batsmen having to work for their runs – and if more were available in the recent Test between India and New Zealand than some others on those shores in recent times, then a least no-one reached three figures.

That, to us, can often be a sign of a good match. Runs retained their value against the more meaningful currency of wickets. Everything mattered.


Where is the ICC’s Test mace?

Not much more than a week ago, Australia captain Steve Smith was presented with the ICC Test Championship mace in a closed ceremony. The media and public would of course have been clamouring to attend such a spectacular and meaningful event.

The nature of the presentation gave rise to an obvious question. If an ICC Test Championship mace is handed over and no-one is there to see it, is that team really the top-ranked Test nation?

The answer, it seems, is no – or at the very least ‘probably not but let’s see how this final match goes’.

Australia could stay top if they (stop laughing) beat Sri Lanka in the next Test; India could go top if they win their next two Tests; and either England or Pakistan could theoretically go top if they win the fourth Test at the Oval. There are of course many permutations and it’s hard not to conclude that life’s too short before turning your attention to far more important questions.

Far more important questions like where they hell is the Test mace right now? Where does it live?

The mace should really be something of a nomad, tucked into the kit bag of whichever Test captain currently has the right to wield it, but this seems unlikely.

Many people would doubtless feel it appropriate for the mace to bed down each night at The Home of Corks, but we don’t believe this is the case, otherwise that ground would be entitled to call itself The Home of The Test Mace. This would clearly supersede its preferred Home of Cricket nickname on the grounds that such a name would at least be accurate.

More likely the mace lives in Dubai at ICC headquarters, but does it just sit there, idle? Surely in uncertain situations such as the one in which we currently find ourselves, it should be loaded onto a private jet ready to be deployed.

Imagine becoming the top-ranked Test nation and not instantly being handed a giant mace. Just imagine it. Just imagine how that would make you feel.


Mop-up of the day – in, out and not out

An inadvertently topical but quite possibly inaccurate-by-the-morning headline for UK readers.

In

Anil Kumble’s… well, he’s not exactly back. He’s back in the public eye, we suppose. He’s India’s new coach.

Kumble is a hard, smart and determined man. Coaching India demands more than those qualities, but it’s a fair start.

Out

Poor Nick Compton. For 20-odd years he’s worked towards being an England cricketer. Last week he was just such a thing. This week it seems rather obvious that he is not – and nor shall he ever be again.

That kind of thing is not easy to take. It’s the nature of top level sport, but to have played and been found wanting is nevertheless a crushing blow for the individual. Understandably, he isn’t quite sure what he’s doing any more. He’s taking a break from the game and who knows whether he’ll find a reason to return.

Not out

Earlier this season, we mentioned that Durham’s Keaton Jennings might have been one to watch this year if we still did such things. Today he denied Yorkshire what had seemed a highly likely win by making 221 not out in the second innings.

In fact, that score was sufficiently large that it was actually Durham who were pressing for victory towards the close, despite having conceded a sizeable first innings deficit.

Fortunately for Yorkshire, Tim Bresnan and Jack Leaning remained not out. Wonder whether the nation will follow their lead.


Virat Kohli is not a bowler, Lendl Simmons is not out, Andre Russell is not suspended

India became so utterly convinced of Virat Kohli’s Midas touch that they gave him an over with the ball. He took a wicket with his first ball. That was the point where they should probably have drawn a line under things. Instead, Kohli came back to bowl the final over with the West Indies needing eight to win.

Is wishful thinking a legitimate way to decide on bowling changes with the outcome of a World T20 semi-final at stake? Andre Russell hit a four and a six.

It has to be said, Andre Russell hit the ball very hard throughout. Watching him employ his giant muscles – which may or may not have been naturally produced (we don’t know which, because he doesn’t take dope tests) – it was easy to see how a soupcon of extra power can help make small gaps larger.  At the other end, Lendl Simmons repeatedly walked on and off the pitch after succumbing to three non-dismissals. Clearly aware that it was his day, he hit 83 somehow-not-out off 51 balls.

In addition to Kohli’s dreamlike batting and the West Indies’ crunching boundary-hitting, there was plenty of the truly entertaining stuff – you know, missed run-outs (including two off one ball), dismissals off no-balls, catches that turn out to be sixes and overthrows. Top stuff everyone. More of this kind of thing.


When it comes to Virat Kohli, object to the hero worship, not the hero

virat_kohli

Perspective is rarely so absent as in the immediate aftermath of a successful Indian run chase. Even so, the plaudits for Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 82 off 51 against Australia were… let’s go with ‘fulsome’.

Fox Sports called him an ‘absolute freak’ because a freak’s a good thing these days.  Sourav Ganguly said the batsman was the ‘greatest chaser by far’.

Alex Hales described the innings as ‘different level,’ while Michael Vaughan was one of many to call him a genius – although being Michael Vaughan he did it with a hashtag.

On Twitter, the general public had some sort of ‘All-Time Most Hyperbolic Hyperbole In History… EVER’ competition – although most people just went with ‘too good’ because most people are crap at hyperbole and instead just repeat things they’ve heard other people say.

Interestingly, Shah Rukh Khan called him ‘a very well-mannered kid’ which basically sounds like a diss when set against everything else. Amitabh Bachchan did better. He said Kohli had been ‘brilliance times infinity’.

Cricinfo tapped into the general mood with an article entitled ‘Emotional’ Kohli rates Mohali knock his best, based on a quote from the post-match presentation when he evalutated his innings thus: “It certainly has to be in the top three. Probably the top right now, because I’m a bit emotional.”

Odd that it should be Kohli himself who should identify that lack of perspective.

Kohli is an extremely effective T20 batsman. Websites that can be bothered will give you the stats should you require them. However, he’s not as good as all of the above gushing might imply, for the simple reason that no-one is and no-one ever has been.

Your response to it may therefore be to roll your rheumy, jaundiced old eyes and yearn to see Virat taken down a peg or two. But that’s probably not fair. Whisper it, but Virat Kohli’s basically all right.

The rage!

As we’ve mentioned before, no-one on earth is as enraged by their own sporting success as Kohli. It’s as if he concluded that human emotions were an on-field distraction and after paring them all back found he still needed to retain one to function with rage being all that remained.

Opposition batsman acting up: anger. Opposition batsman behaving himself: anger. Guilty of throwing away his wicket via a stupid shot: anger. Reached a magnificent hundred in what promises to be a match-winning innings: anger.

But that’s on the field. It’s but a part of the man. Off it, he’s capable of dignity, thoughtfulness and humility (albeit the last of those to the point of arse-kissiness). He can even smile.

Virat Kohli’s not your best mate and you probably won’t ever go to the pub with him, but he’s not actually a complete dick and he doesn’t ask for people to talk about him in such a way that you want to lamp him one.

So stop fantasising about lamping him one. Instead fantasise about a world in which everyone’s a bit less frenzied about paying tribute after every half-decent performance.


Either India or Australia will be/have been knocked out – but who could have predicted the outcome (and when)

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We changed what time this site’s daily email went out recently. We can’t be bothered checking what time range we set it to and we also can’t be bothered working out what impact British Summer Time will have. As such, this post is a preview of the India v Australia match written in the knowledge that you may well be reading when the result is already known.

We wouldn’t be making any predictions anyway. Predictions can quickly look foolish. They have a thing that constantly tries to predict which team’s going to win running throughout each match of this World T20. It’s called The Win Predictor. The Win Predictor is making a good case for being rebranded The Momentum Disprover.

At one point quite early on in England’s match against Sri Lanka, The Win Predictor indicated 100 per cent likelihood of an England victory. England did win, but not before it had later had Sri Lanka’s likelihood of a win up around 70 per cent.

We made a comment about The Win Predictor effectively taking the piss out of its own earlier predictions during that game and one of the founders of the website behind it (CricViz) got in touch. We felt bad, because it’s not really the Win Predictor that’s at fault, it’s the game it’s trying to model.

T20 matches tend to progress in surges. Get a partnership and the run-rate can skyrocket. A wicket or two and it can come to a standstill. The swings can be so swift and dramatic that it can make earlier predictions look preposterous. Your general feeling as a viewer is: ‘Why should I pay heed to this prediction now when the one five minutes ago was so wildly different?’

Like we say, it’s not the predictor that’s the issue here, it’s the format. At the same time, that uncertainty is what keeps us watching. One thing’s for sure though. As far as India v Australia goes, the big story is already known: New Zealand knocked one of them out.


Bangladesh commit seppuku with surprise crockery

Playing India, Bangladesh got themselves into a position where they needed two to win off three balls. Metaphorically speaking, all they had to do was avoid smashing a plate and accidentally disemboweling themselves with a shard of it. Being as they didn’t even have a plate, things looked pretty good.

Somehow Bangladesh found a plate. Then they smashed it. Then they sliced open their abdomen.


Mohammad Sami is still playing cricket – as are India and Pakistan

India are playing Pakistan. It’s a big deal. This website being what it is, the only appropriate course of action was for us to wander out halfway through.

At the time of writing, Mohammad Sami – Mohammad Sami! – had taken two wickets in two balls as India set about chasing not-all-that-many runs with no real sense of urgency.

Mohammad Sami is a million years old, but apparently he still bowls quite quickly. He was too quick for Suresh Raina, that’s for certain. Then again there have been days when Raina has played as if Chris Harris would have been able to bounce him out – even though Harris really digging it in would be unlikely to get the ball above bollock height.

As we prepare to click ‘publish’ a couple of big shots have edged India closer to ‘cakewalk’ territory. Hopefully there’s some sort of late drama which’ll be really conspicuous by its absence in this post.

Ooh. A wicket. [Clicks publish.]

 


It’s the India cricketers we feel for

Imagine you work in accounts for a biggish company that leases out some of its office space to other firms. Imagine that one of your company directors inexplicably removes the coffee machine from the shared kitchen and places it in the middle of your firm’s office.

Now imagine that you trip over in the car park one morning and a load of people who work for other companies in your building all point and laugh at you for 16 minutes while you writhe around on the floor with a broken ankle. This is what it’s like to play cricket for India.

Shikhar Dhawan hasn’t snatched away anyone’s coffee. He’s just a guy with a smashing moustache who enjoys batting. R Ashwin isn’t ruling Prosperity House with an iron fist. He’s just an amiable nerd with a deep and genuine love for spin bowling. Even so, when their team lost to New Zealand, people around the world were laughing at them, enjoying their downfall.

Unfortunately for them, India’s players are representatives. Back when they represented the country, this wasn’t so bad, but nowadays they find themselves the public face of their cricket board. They represent a bunch of fat dullards addicted to cronyism and infatuated with Mammon. This is despite the fact that they have pretty much zero influence over what those people do and are in fact being driven into the ground themselves through their poor decisions.

India are top of the schadenfreude hierarchy. They boss England and Australia, who bully the other six major Test teams, who look down on Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, who in turn exploit all the have-nots scrabbling around for international fixtures. The laughter then goes the other way.

England play the West Indies later today. The world can’t wait to see the Windies beat Giles Clarke’s boys and teach him and them a lesson. They then play Afghanistan next Wednesday, which offers the greatest opportunity for schadenfreude in this tournament with India not playing anyone quite so low down in the hierarchy.

Even when you play for one of the least popular nations, there’s always an opportunity to bring joy to the world.


World T20 begins with ‘six and out’

Then a dot ball. Then another six.

Post-qualifying kicked off as if it had a bit of catching up to do. It was almost as if the tournament had begun a couple of weeks ago without the majority of teams being present until now.

India are playing New Zealand. Martin Guptill hit the first ball, delivered by R Ashwin, for six. Next ball he missed a straight one and was adjudged LBW. (You always use the word ‘adjudged’ when it was later shown to be missing.)

Incoming batsman Colin Munro promised greater solidity, defending the third delivery of the match with a good straight bat. Next ball he reverse-pummelled a six.

New Zealand’s number three lasted way longer than Guptill though. It was the sixth delivery he faced before he clogged one to mid-off and exited the stage.

The match continues.


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