Month: June 2017 (page 2 of 3)

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.

There was a rumour that England had ‘solved’ one-day cricket

Ben Stokes finds a gap in the field directly above him (screengrab via ICC)

Ben Stokes finds a gap in the field directly above him (screengrab via ICC)

Not the case. It was perhaps true that they’d solved modern one-day cricket… but then they came up against Pakistan.

As we said the other day, Pakistan don’t care what year it is. They don’t care how other people are approaching one-day cricket these days, they just do their own thing. Pakistan’s thing is ‘bowling sides out for just over 200’.

England’s thing, by contrast, is buying wickets. They like inflation. With both bat and ball, they splash runs about with abandon and never really worry about the cost.

In the semi-final of the Champions Trophy, the purse strings tightened and England discovered that they had lost the ability to sniff out bargains.

The home team dropped 118 runs on Pakistan’s first wicket alone. Regardless of the opposition’s reputation for providing easily affordable wickets, from that point on they were only ever heading for bankruptcy.

If Jason Roy is “due” what will happen to all those runs he saved up?

Jason Roy edges two cricket balls (ECB via Twitter video)

Jason Roy edges two cricket balls (ECB via Twitter video)

Just because someone’s due, it doesn’t mean anything’s actually going to happen any time soon. Trust us on this.

Referring to Jason Roy, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur alluded to the concept of dueness, saying: “We had a discussion in the bus this morning. I was particularly worried that Roy hadn’t fired yet because I think he’s very close to something quite good.”

Arthur went on to question Jonny Bairstow’s credentials as an opener, so it seems fair to assume that the opposition are in favour of England naming an unchanged side. Such is the nature of pre-match bullshittery.

Eoin Morgan deployed all of the ifs in his armoury when floating the possibility that England might make the change. They all paled in significance beside the fact that he was entertaining the prospect at all though.

If someone’s a marginal selection, standard practice is to talk them up and bolster them. Failure to do so rather implies that the decision has been made.

Assuming Bairstow plays, what happens to the great stockpile of runs that Roy has been painstakingly hoarding now?

Pakistan don’t care what year it is

Hasan Ali dismisses Suranga Lakmal (via ICC)

Hasan Ali dismisses Suranga Lakmal (via ICC)

“300-plus scores? No, thank you. We’ll just persist with our old approach of bowling the opposition out for slightly less than our own low score, if that’s all right with you.”

Pakistan held South Africa to 219-8 off 50 overs. Sri Lanka managed a whopping 236 all out against them. Pakistan being Pakistan, the latter was almost enough.

But it wasn’t enough.

Pakistan – supposedly the most crisis-raddled of all the sides – swan into the semi-finals like a swan that’s decided to walk even though it has a broken leg.

Australia suffer forestation

Mark Wood bowling some fella with a full bunger (via ICC)

Mark Wood bowling some fella with a full bunger (via ICC)

That’s our way of saying they were Wooded.

We wrote about the benefits of having Adil Rashid in your side a couple of days ago. Mark Wood offers something similar.

Remember how the middle over used to be? It was like the batsmen saw everything in high-definition and everything moved smoothly and predictably.

Wood and Rashid make it more like you’re watching a shonky internet stream. Everything’s jerky and irritating and every time you settle, there’s another bout of buffering. Eventually you lose your rag and clog a full toss to cover.

They weren’t the only ones to successfully derail an innings either. Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan thought he’d take wickets with his first two balls and then just kind of carried on from there.

Why Shakib-al-Hasan is just about the finest shoe we’ve ever owned

Shakib al Hasan doing some smiting (via ICC)

Shakib al Hasan doing some smiting (via ICC)

Sometimes you buy a pair of shoes and it’s only after the first prolonged wear that they reveal their true feelings towards you. The sides rub, the soles feel like they’re made out of wood and the uppers are so rigid that they actually gouge into your ankle.

‘Accursed footwear!’ you think – and you resolve never to buy clogs again.

Other times, you buy a pair of shoes and they love you more and more with every passing day. They mould to your feet. They give, they accommodate, they love. They become the shoe equivalent of Golden Boy.

This is kind of how we feel about Shakib-al-Hasan. We chose to make an early investment and he just keeps on paying us back, like a debtor addicted to forget-me-nows.

Yesterday, Bangladesh were 33-4 chasing New Zealand’s 266. They were, to almost all observers, already beaten. Shakib then made a hundred and so did the team’s mononymous former number eight, Mahmudullah and Bangladesh won.

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.

England are taking swigs of Adil Rashid again and it’s made them a better team



England are also through to the semi-finals. A handful of percussive mid-sized innings and some hearty bowling were enough to dispatch New Zealand.

Jason Roy was still there, continuing his ill-advised experiments with flips and flicks, and Adil Rashid was back. England’s template was therefore pretty much back in place after a brief reversion to darker days for that Bangladesh match.

The home team don’t necessarily expect great things from their batsmen. They really just hope that at least a couple of them will come good and that the rest don’t waste too much time.

Roy is at least fulfilling the second part of that – although with the forced and unforced absences of Chris Woakes and David Willey having grown the team an actual tail, they won’t want too many others to join him. We do however suspect that should Roy revert to trying to hit the ball in front of him, all will be well.

For his part, Rashid gave the team stumpings off wides. A lot of England fans remain suspicious of this kind of thing, but when batsmen find life predictable and predictable is enough that they’ll be able to chase down your score, you need to make things unpredictable.

The range of possibilities when the ball leaves Rashid’s hand is great. And if for some reason Eoin Morgan were to feel that this were disadvantageous on any given occasion, he could always bowl someone else.

Better to have the hip flask in the desk drawer and not quaff from it than to find yourself enduring a difficult day at the office with no perfectly healthy liquid coping mechanism at your disposal – that’s what we always say/slur.

British Weather through to semi-finals of Champions Trophy


After a dominant performance against Australia/New Zealand and a narrow victory over Australia/Bangladesh, the British Weather has booked itself a place in the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy.

After displaying dreadful, relentlessly sunny form throughout May, UK meteorologists were left fearing that their side would be knocked out during the group stages. But there’s a reason why bookies fear the UK climate and it has pulled two magnificent performances out of the bag to move through to the last four with games to spare.

As so often, the hero in the match against Australia/Bangladesh was Regular Outbreaks of Rain. As the required run-rate dropped, it steadily imposed itself on the game until the result was in no doubt.

With Heavy Cloud Cover and Bad Light set to perform alongside each other in the semi-final after being unavailable for this day-night game, the British Weather will have high hopes of making the final, no matter who it comes up against.

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