Share the Passion

To exchange links with me, please send mail to madhusudan (dot) gr (at)
Session-dashboard - Tracking Test Matches as they progress.
Tracking T20 run-chases in an innovative manner - See here.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

SAF 1st T20I - India lose depite putting up 200

Links to this post
The stats before the match started was surprising to me - India were leading the Proteans 6-2 in T20I matches. Wow! Really!! The long series started in Dharamsala and the pitch was more in favor of the South Africans rather than Indians - fair enough. The dew factor would have an effect but since the match started at 7PM local time, both teams would have an impact.

The Indian team batted first against a second-string South African bowling attack (Steyn and Morkel were rested due to the schedule mostly). While Rohit and Kohli smashed the bowling apart, the rest of the batting could not leverage further. The target was 200 which I thought was a tad lesser than what could have been, when Rohit was going great. India persisted with Rayudu (instead of Rahane) and though he didnt get many balls to face, I think he is not a T20I player. Time to look at options like Gurkeerat Singh Mann (who scored a double century in Ranji match) or Manish Pandey or even Sanju Samson. India needs a dasher if MSD is playing at No.4 - every team has one. Maxwell, Duminy, Morgan being examples of this genre.

India had a new left-arm new ball bowler after a long time - Sreenath Aravind. He, along with his new ball partner Bhuvneshwar Kumar, went for runs against the partnership of Amla and ABD. Ashwin, with his new-found confidence and ball-skills, pulled the team back with a run-out and dismissal of ABD. But JP Duminy bailed the team and brought them home.

The Indian team will come back on pitches that are more subcontinental than this one but it is important to learn the lessons from this match. The T20 bowling needs overhaul - Bhuvi is good with his yorkers while it was the first match for Aravind. Who is the other partner for Ashwin? Axar gave away the match with three consecutive sixes - is Harbhajan a better bowler in this format? If India wants to play Mishra in tests, better not to play him in the limited overs format. Who else then, after Ravindra Jadeja (who by the way is on his way to a ten-wicket haul in the first Ranji match)?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Indian coaching staff to continue

Links to this post
The BCCI, based on recommendation of the Cricket Committee, has renewed the contract of the coaching staff till the T20 World Cup. Each of the staff member has provided their own perspective to the Indian team. Let me try to dissect them:

  1. Ravi Shastri - from the quiet Duncan Fletcher to the outspoken Ravi Shastri, BCCI could not have asked for a better man at the helm, purely from the angle of interaction with media. Ravi is always ready with his comments that the media enjoys - the criticism of the Indian team has reduced quite drastically post the appointment of Shastri. Also, within the dressing room, Ravi's Indian-ness and his rapport with the team looks good. The youngsters, who are not so well-versed with English, might face it easy talking Hindi with Shastri.
  2. B Arun - the bowlers have been picking wickets regularly. In World Cup, we all knew how many wickets they took throughout the tournament. Similarly, in Sri Lanka, the bowlers picked up 60 wickets. Is this good proof for Arun's capability? Maybe not all is to his credit but he has been doing things in the right direction. Maybe he can bring the bowlers better direction sense? The spinners seem to be performing well again, at least in the subcontinental pitches. Good selection again.
  3. Sanjay Bangar - Bangar has been the perfect foil to Shastri's aggression. Bangar has been always cool as a cucumber and goes about his way in the most effective way as possible. The batsmen have improved, not just due to the tough overseas tour but also due to the fact that Bangar has been able to provide the much-needed advise on their weaknesses and possible solutions to their problems. Great team-man.
  4. R Sridhar - the fielding coach must share some credit to Rahane's world record. The close-in fielding was superb in the Sri Lanka series (even though there were few drops too). What has been really appreciable is the fact that the slip cordon has stepped up to receive catches rather than standing back even when balls were pitching short. This shows great presence of mind and Sridhar's back-room drills has made an impact here.
Overall, a good team for the Indian team at the current juncture. The South African tour will give more insights of the team's progress and whether this team is good enough for the long run. Let us wait for the Proteans then.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Sri Lanka series - India win 2-1

Links to this post
I had expected India to edge Sri Lanka in the series despite knowing that it has been 22 years since an Indian team won a test series there. What transpired was something else - It could have been a whitewash if not for the upset loss in first test. Virat Kohli has won his first series as captain but equal (dis)credit should be given to Sri Lanka's relative lack of experience.

The Indians have had a long introduction to test match scenario in tough conditions outside sub-continent. This experience has hardened them enough to score over their Asian colleagues. The core team has been identified and it looks like the team will continue to look like this for the next 2 years, injuries notwithstanding:

  • Opening Batsmen - Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul
  • Middle-Order - Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma
  • Wicket-keepers - Wriddhiman Saha, Naman Ojha
  • All-rounders - Ravi Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Stuart Binny
  • Pace bowlers - Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Varun Aaron, Mohd. Shami
17 players who will appear in forthcoming test series for India is a good composition to have and a good set of choices to opt from. Credit should be given to MS Dhoni and team management for identifying this set and ensuring that the chances obtained so far have been used to groom them further.

Whether the Indian team should go with five-bowler policy is a debate but I feel in subcontinent pitches, the fifth bowler will mostly be underutilized. Stuart Binny did his role well but should contribute consistently. It is not that the future looks rosy but the initial investment in these players should be well worth it, if the players repay the interest well.

Monday, August 24, 2015

2015 Ashes - end to an average series

Links to this post
I couldnt stop myself writing about the 2015 Ashes test series that finished today - this blog is usually reserved to Indian cricket. But, the fact that Australia lost despite winning two matches in London by a huge margin was a shock that I couldnt resist. This was an average series won by a team that knew how to bowl on overcast conditions but came a cropper on batting pitches. 

The Australians knew how to take 20 wickets on flat pitches but could not do much on surfaces that supported them. Well, not exactly. They did well then too but their batsmen could not face opposition bowlers who made the ball talk. Result was that by the time bowlers had a chance to bowl, the English were too far ahead in the game. Flat pitch bullies are the Aussies then but what of the hosts? They are good at home, especially when they have Anderson and Broad together. But, step outside and they lost to West Indies even. Imagine! They are now ranked third in the ICC Rankings. Something must be wrong.

Twice we were wondering whether the test will be completed in two days. Yes, two days. I remember a match between England and West Indies long ago on telly where all four innings were played on one day and the match finished in two days. But, not here. The matches, thankfully to the spectators who were in full attendance, crept to the third day. Not a single test match went to the final day. Can you believe it if this was done on subcontinental pitches? There would have been a huge uproar - spin doctors et al. 

The statistics are revealing. Batting and Bowling. The Australians seem to appear at the top in both lists but they are upstaged by those players who rose to the occasion when required. Imagine, the second best bowler on Australian side was dropped for the last test to make way for Peter Siddle! The fifth bowler made a difference - yes, fifth bowler. Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes picked wickets that were critical. Australia had Mitch Marsh who did well but was picked for three tests only! The English batting was held together by Joe Root and his captain. The others did not seem to matter. 

Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers retired while Brad Haddin and Shane Watson may not play another test match. Similarly, Ian Bell must rethink his position in the English team while Lyth will be lost to county cricket forever. Bairstow can go back to County, scoring runs by the tonnes. Few batsmen survived the test series that was won by the home series again. Overall, an average series if I am being generous.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sri Lanka series - amazing turnaround for hosts

Links to this post
The Indians started the test well - winning probably five of the first six sessions of the day. But, over the next five, they probably shared one session - overpowered by the performances of Chandimal and Herath with the bat and ball.

The match should have put the Indian management under dilemma regarding its five-bowler theory, especially when they have batsmen out of form (Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli to an extent) and bowlers out of touch (Harbhajan Singh and Varun Aaron). When the rest of the batsmen and bowlers do not put their hands up to backup the others, the performance was not good enough.

Ashwin and Mishra were the architects of the bowling performance in the first innings (Ishant and Aaron had provided the support in the beginning) while Dhawan and Kohli scored centuries to take India to a big lead. The middle and latter order batsmen did not contribute much to take the lead to an unbeatable one (except Saha to an extent).

The umpiring was also to be blamed for India's decline - two decisions went against them (those of Thirumanne and more importantly Chandimal) that could have finished the match on Day 3. The saga of poor umpiring in Lanka against India is not a recent trend - despite independent umpires, the tragedy continues.

What should the Indians do next? Return back to four good bowlers instead of five decent ones - Ishant, Ashwin and Mishra should continue while the fourth bowler should be Bhuvi - despite his lack of pace, the bowler can hod his line and length and restrain the scoring rate. This was something the bowlers failed to do in the second innings.

The fourth innings was the most tragic one - the Indians could not face the Lankan bowling spearheaded by Rangana Herath. The Indians showed that their performance in the first innings was an exception thanks to the heroics of Dhawan and Kohli.

What should standout from this match was the catching of both teams - it was tremendous to see the catches and Rahane was exceptional to catch eight in the match.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sri Lanka series - ready to start

Links to this post
The Indo-Lankan series is ready to start after a long time. In fact, I did read that the Indian team has not won a series in Lanka for 22 years! It was probably Azhar who won the series with help of Sachin and Kumble in the team (the lone win was well-planned out by Indians). Even Ganguly and MSD could not achieve a win - wonder what the new permanent captain will do.

The Lankans are vulnerable this time after series defeat against Pakistan in multiple formats. The aging Sangakkara will play his last test match in this series and in my view, will hold the biggest challenge for Indians. If they can get him out quickly, the Indians will have a good chance to win the series.

The bowlers have done well in the warm-up match, especially Ishant Sharma. But who will the management pick as part of the playing eleven - Bhuvi and Umesh? Along with the three, two spinners will be picked and my suspicion is that it will be Harbhajan who will miss out.

The batting will be made of Dhawan, KL Rahul, Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane - Pujara seems to be out of favor at the moment with Rohit edging ahead. If Rohit cannot make runs in the first two tests, it will be back to Pujara.

Saha will have all three test matches to prove himself. Especially with his batting, Saha is one who has not contributed much. There are players like Samson, Uthappa are waiting in the wings.

If the rains do not disturb the series, India should edge Sri Lanka. But, it looks like rain will have the last say. My guess is that the series will be shared.

Friday, June 05, 2015

IPL8 hangover - why are Aussies doing well?

Links to this post
Apologies for the delay in this post - this was due a while ago. I did analyze the statistics of top batsmen and bowlers in IPL8 and did additional calculations in terms of Rotation Rate and Boundary Ratio for batsmen and a combination of Economy, Strike Rate and Average for bowling.

Batting statistics

The list is dominated by Australians and West Indians followed by South Africans and the lone Black Cap (McCullum). Of course, there are a number of Indians but quite a few of them are not in the reckoning of the national cap (not yet at least). The likes of Gayle, McCullum and Dwayne Smith are good in boundaries but not so great in rotating the strike - no wonder, their teams failed at the last hurdle(s). Similarly, someone like Murali Vijay and Faf Du Plessis do well in rotating the strike but not hitting boundaries.

The batsmen who have done well in both rotation of strike and striking boundaries (more than 60% in both) are the likes of Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, AB De Viliers, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Parthiv Patel (really!), David Warner. These are the players who are really doing well and have starred for their teams within IPL and have the potential to do well for their team (sadly for Pollard and Russell, they are currently considered for T20 version alone).

Bowling statistics

The bowling charts also show the similar pattern in terms of representations from countries (West Indies and Australians). The bowlers who have done well on all three counts (Economy Rate, Strike Rate, Average) are highlighted from Green to Red (with gradients). The ones in green or color close to it are Moses Henriques and Mitchell Starc, Yajurvendra Chahal, Dwayne Bravo, Lasith Malinga, Harshal Patel. The Indians, again, are not there in the national reckoning just like Henriques. It is surprising to see that despite appearing in both the lists above, Henriques and Russell are not getting the recognition within their teams in the way they deserve to be.

Will this year change this pattern?
With respect to the title, do I need to add anything more?
I would go to the extent of making Australia favorites to win the next World T20

Monday, May 25, 2015

IPL8 - Mumbai Indians are the champions

Links to this post
Picture Courtesy: Cricinfo
Mumbai Indians were crowned the Champions of the eighth edition of IPL at Eden Gardens. The Mumbai team won the title for the second time after defeating CSK by 41 runs. The result was not in doubt after Mumbai had scored a 200+ batting first.

The R-B chart shows how well the Mumbai team had managed to keep their opponents at bay

CSK's strategies seemed to fail on the big day. MSD's decision to ask Mumbai to bat first was probably the first risky decision. Dwayne Smith's slow batting was instrumental in failure of the chase. The Mumbai batsmen, especially Lendl Simmons and Rohit Sharma, were unstoppable at first. This was continued by a final assault by Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu. The end result proved too much for Chennai. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

IPL-8 - Qualifier-II - CSK beat RCB once again

Links to this post
For the third time this season, CSK defeated RCB, this time by a narrow margin, to go through to the finals.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

IPL-8 - Eliminator - RCB crush Rajasthan

Links to this post
Setting a huge target, RCB put enough runs to crush Rajasthan on their way to the second Qualifier.