Category: India cricket news (page 1 of 48)

R Ashwin is India’s best player and we won’t hear otherwise

Thanks to India’s flat, lifeless pitches, R Ashwin averages 33.55 with the bat. Because of India’s rank turners, he averages 24.29 with the ball.

Or could it be that R Ashwin is India’s best cricketer?

We’ve covered this kind of thing before, but you reach our age and you no longer live in fear of repeating yourself. If we didn’t say things we’d already said, we’d hardly say anything at all.

Our recurring utterances don’t even have to be in the least bit insightful. The phrase we currently use most frequently is: “You’re a cat” – a statement which we (accurately) address to Monty. It’s not entirely clear for whose benefit we voice this reminder. Probably our own in a forlorn and paradoxical bid to slow our decline into fully unhinged Doctor Doolittledom.

Now for the repetition. As we’ve said before, we always find ourself disproportionately annoyed when some commentator or other (probably Michael Vaughan) refers to a batsman as being that team’s “best player”.

Best batsman, yes. Best player, no – never. Test cricket is not a game of run accumulation. It is a game of wicket-taking-while-limiting-the-opposition’s-run-scoring.

To win Tests, you need good bowlers. Ashwin is undeniably that. Bowlers are also obliged to bat and Ashwin is perfectly competent in that discipline too.

But more than anything, the best players elevate themselves by meeting high expectations. It is one thing to take five wickets in an innings. It is another to do it when people expect you to.

After ten wickets in the first Test, four in the second and six in the first innings of the third Test, R Ashwin was widely expected to take a few more. The fact that it was a wearing pitch and New Zealand were batting last certainly didn’t negate this. He took 7-59.

Surely by now India must realise there is no excuse for dropping this man for away Tests. It doesn’t matter what the conditions, this is a cricketer whose results brook no argument.

Sort it out, India. Don’t make us repeat ourself.

Some cricket that was scheduled to happen really is going to happen

India are to play New Zealand in the third Test in Indore despite someone somewhere reporting that they wouldn’t.

The Indian Express spoke to “a senior board official” who said the BCCI’s bank accounts had been frozen at the recommendation of a court-appointed panel set up to look into its operations.

The panel in question, the Lodha Committee, has since said that this is – and we’re paraphrasing here – a great big heap of bollocks. It has in fact ordered that just two specific payments be halted; payments that are nothing to do with hosting international cricket matches.

If you’re a senior board official at the BCCI who’s prone to talking outright cobblers, why not get in touch with us here at King Cricket? We’ll publish owt, we will.

Is Virat Kohli really India’s best batsman?


Were he to find himself playing in a format-spanning Super Series, it would seem highly likely that Virat Kohli could find himself named man-of-it. The guy averages over 50 in the two shorter formats with a perfectly healthy strike-rate in both.

His Test record’s very good too: 12 Test hundreds and an average of 43.76.

That’s not extraordinary though. If we’re not exactly in Aftab Habib territory, the numbers don’t quite match Kohli’s reputation – and what is cricket about if not building one’s reputation through numbers? Maybe that’s what he’s always so angry about when he’s batting.

We felt moved to check Kohli’s Test record while Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane were batting together against New Zealand recently. While they’ve played fewer Test matches, both average about 47.5. The numbers don’t say much, but they tally with our feeling that these two are perhaps the team’s best batsmen in the longest format.

Captaincy combined with weight of runs across the formats gives Kohli a certain clout, but we still found it odd to hear him dissecting Pujara’s approach to Test cricket recently. There were complimentary words in amongst it all, but the general tone was a bit end-of-term school report.

It all had a kind of he’s-finally-started-listening-to-me hue.

“Pujara is someone who absorbs the pressure really well but after a certain stage in the innings there comes a time when the team needs runs. That’s where we felt that he has the ability to capitalise. It was just about conveying that to him.”

Or what about this?

“We want Pujara to bat to his potential. Once he starts scoring runs to go with the composure he already has, it becomes very difficult for the opposition to have control of the game.”

Kohli also said it was “a revelation” to see Pujara score quicker “because he used to bat that way initially.” The qualification criteria for revelations clearly aren’t as stringent as they once were. We suppose it’s down to modern attention spans.

Is it just us who finds this tone somewhat odd? We suppose Kohli, as captain, has responsibility for how the team performs as a whole (as a unit, if you will), but it seems to us that in Test cricket at least, Kohli arguably has as much to learn from Pujara as Pujara does from Kohli.

Flip it around. Imagine Pujara saying the following about Kohli and see how it sounds.

“Kohli is someone who always looks to score runs, but at certain stages in the innings, the team just needs him to absorb pressure. That’s where we felt that he could improve. It was just about conveying that to him.”


“We want Kohli to bat to his potential. Once he starts showing composure to go with the run-scoring ability he already has, it becomes very difficult for the opposition to have control of the game.”

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.


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.


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


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)


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.

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