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Session-dashboard - Tracking Test Matches as they progress.
Tracking T20 run-chases in an innovative manner - See here.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

T20 World Cup - India and SriLanka once again

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India and Sri Lanka met in the 50-year World Cup three years ago. Today, they meet in the T20 version.

India defeated South Africa in the semifinals convincingly after their batsmen led by Virat Kohli scaled down a tough target relatively easily. The chart shows how the Indian batsmen turned the screws after 7th over. Thanks to the opening batsmen, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, who started the assault on the SAF opening bowlers, the Indian score motored along.

It was quite surprising to see Faf Du Plessis open the bowling with JP Duminy and Alibe Morkel especially when Steyn had Rohit Sharma in knots during the recent SAF tour. The other batters managed to continue the scoring with Virat Kohli hitting the right form once again (anchoring the chase as well as hitting the big boundaries when required). Hopefully the next match will see Kohli continue his tremendous form for the last time to take India to the Cup (this will be good comfort for the youngster who had publicly cried when India bowed out of an earlier version of T20 WC).

It was interesting to see Ashwin take three wickets with his carrom ball - Shane Warne would be proud of those deliveries. With Amit Mishra in the playing eleven, Ashwin has risen to the occasion but watch out for Ravindra Jadeja in the final. He will be key to the Indian bowling's performance (especially against the likes of Jayawardane and Sangakkara).

India will win the final and hold all the three titles (both World Cups and Champions Trophy) at the same time - hope this becomes true later today.

Monday, March 31, 2014

T20 World Cup - India maintain a clean record

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India maintained a clean slate in the league phase of the T20 World Cup thanks to an overwhelming victory over fancied Australia. Despite being in a precarious situation when they batted first, the Indians recovered mainly through Yuvraj Singh and posted a target that was much beyond the Aussies reach. The final margin of victory should give you an idea of the Indian's dominance.

India achieved multiple things as part of this victory - they batted first and managed to defend it easily on these conditions (as against the previous matches when they chased down targets). Their middle order got valuable practice against quality opposition in match-scenario. Their only out-of-form batsman, Yuvraj Singh, came back roaring with a score that put the Indians in dominance. The other replacement, Ajinkya Rahane, did well in his stint but personally I dont think he will be in the playing eleven in the next match.

The bowlers continued their dominance with Ashwin and Amit Mishra leading the way. Mohit Sharma came in for Shami and did a great job in restricting runs scored while taking the dangerous wicket of Shane Watson. Bhuvi continued his good job with the ball and overall, it was a perfect job for the bowlers. The match also saw some good catches in the deep by the Indians - the fielding coach has been doing some good work in the background that ensured that the fielders did not drop any during the Aussie chase.

Monday, March 24, 2014

T20 World Cup - India notch up another convincing win

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The R-B chart below shows the easy manner in which the target was chased down.

After the fourth over, the Indian innings never looked back. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma stuck smart blows against the varied attack (thanks to IPL for providing more insight into the Windies bowlers) to take India home. Yuvraj Singh got time in the middle but did not do anything noticeable to justify his inclusion in the next match. Add to it, was a dropped catch on the field. Dhoni did hint that there will be a change (during his post-match conference) in the next match. MSD also mentioned that his batting was not tested - absolutely right. Only five batsmen have played in two matches (with two of them averaging an obscene 85+ runs per innings and one without an average) - check this page for more details. Hopefully, the team will not require additional strength in the forthcoming games.

While they bowled, the Indian bowlers were miserly as Uncle Scrooge. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar's analysis was out of ordinary - his bowling made the Windies openers look clueless. Smith and Gayle were expected to give a blazing start but even though they stayed for a long time at the crease, they couldnt get moving. The ball started swinging again for Bhuvi and the sight was refreshing if you are an Indian fan. Bhuvi's economy rate is the least of all Indian bowlers - check this page again. If Bhuvi was economical, Amit Mishra scores high on the wicket-taking category. By focusing on his strengths, Mishra has proved that he has a place in the T20 format - in fact, not many remember that he has taken three hat-tricks in the IPL (each one for a different team). Though Mishra figures high, Ravindra Jadeja also has taken the same number of wickets - the difference being the economy rate. For one who is usually economical, Jadeja has been costly this tournament - in this match too, the Windies total was boosted by the last over bowled by Jadeja. If only Dhoni had given Bhuvi the last over instead of Jadeja?

Next match is relatively easier against Bangladesh, considering the lack of form of the hosts. Dhoni will ensure that the intensity does not drop while trying out one or more of the other members of the squad.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

T20 World Cup - India maintain clean slate against Pakistan

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India won the first match of the T20 World Cup against Pakistan, maintaining its clean record in the World Cup. Thanks to its spinners, India got into the fifth gear early in the match and did not take its foot off the pedal at all. The pace bowlers also did a good job, except the last over of the match when Shami got clobbered. Overall, Dhoni didnt have any complaints against his bowlers, especially when the opposition got to a total of 130 only.

Fielding was aggressive as was the catching. The Pakistan team was at loss against the Indians and the recent Asia Cup win was a thing of the past. Batsmen came and went back quickly, without being able to gauge the pitch nor the bowling. Amit Mishra was under fire coming into the match but quickly recovered to bowl a great spell with his mix of deliveries. Ashwin was miserly but Jadeja (not unusual in the recent days) was slightly more expensive than his wont. Dhoni provided Yuvraj the option to roll his arm over than Raina - proved to be a wrong option. Yuvraj didnt do well in the match - surely signs are that his best days are behind him. Might be a good option to pick Stuart Binny (for the additional bowling option) but Dhoni is known to continue with his team for few more matches.

The batsmen were never under pressure, especially the openers. The target being a smallish one, they had the luxury of settling down before going for the big shots. Rohit hit a four and six to ease the pressure while Dhawan upset Ajmal in his first over by thrashing him for three fours in an over. Dhawan was never settled in his innings but managed to score a 30. Rohit was also not sure about his batting but managed to score when required to keep his strike rate more than 100.

Kohli and Raina got together and managed to achieve the target without any pressure. Look at the way the chart keeps moving down and down during the partnership. Raina has been looking good after his dropping from the national team - this format seems to be bringing the best out of him. Kohli was his usual, chasing down targets at ease. Overall, an easy victory over a dangerous opponent.

Next up is West Indies. Once again, the focus will be on spinners with Ashwin expected to open against Gayle. Dhoni knows them well enough to plot their downfall. Let us hope the run continues longer.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

T20 World Cup - is India interested?

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We all know that the IPL came into our lives after the Indians won the T20 World Cup. But, are we really interested about it? I dont think so. The players are looking forward to the IPL that comes after the World T20 is finished - hopefully, the ICC should take note of this and do adequate changes to the schedule.

What about the Indian team's chances? They did not choose the team that I wanted to be selected :( Never mind, does not happen most of the time. But, let us do the analysis of the team selected and see what can be achieved.

The team selected is

  1. MS Dhoni (C), 
  2. Shikhar Dhawan, 
  3. Rohit Sharma, 
  4. Virat Kohli, 
  5. Suresh Raina, 
  6. Yuvraj Singh, 
  7. Ajinkya Rahane, 
  8. Ravindra Jadeja, 
  9. R Ashwin, 
  10. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 
  11. Mohammad Shami, 
  12. Stuart Binny, 
  13. Amit Mishra, 
  14. Mohit Sharma,
  15. Varun Aaron.

The first four select themselves and among numbers 5,6 and 7 two will be selected - Yuvraj and Raina will be given the preference because of their experience. Jadeja, Ashwin and Amit Mishra will play, thanks to their successes at Asia Cup together (and the fact that matches will be played on similar pitches). For the remaining two slots, Bhuvi has alone the experience of playing international T20 (only one among the pace bowlers). Whether Shami will be picked up again or Mohit Sharma be preferred (another CSK player) remains to be seen.

Binny, Aaron and Rahane might complete the trip without getting any match but this experience will help them in the future :)

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Asia Cup - Bronze for India

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If it was an Olympic games, India would have won the bronze medal but alas! It is the Asia Cup and only the winner matters. India is not even in contention for the Cup and that is a fact for the last two editions, not just this one alone.

Once Dhoni pulled out of the competition due to a side strain (no one minded it as he needed good rest before the IPL, sorry the World T20). It was a good chance for all of us to look at Virat Kohli as captain. No one was surprised that the team's performance continued on similar vein despite the change in captaincy.  Of course, the captain can do wonders if his team can also put in the relevant efforts, right?

The Indian team did good in bits and parts but that was not enough against the efficient Lankans or the maverick Pakis. Even with the last wicket standing, India dropped the catch in the Sri Lanka match. Afridi showed that one cannot write him off - not sure if he himself knew what would be the result of the two sixes he hit finally.

One good point for India was that of Amit Mishra. How many times Amit has to prove himself? He showed that he had the tools to make anyone dance to his tune. With couple of hat-tricks to his name in IPL, he must be hoping to be in the playing eleven for the World T20. Definitely, it is a chance for Ashwin to be rested for the shortest version and give chances to Amit.

The fast bowlers continued to bowl and get thrashed - there were signs that the yorkers were coming back into fashion and it was good to see Bhuvi get it consistently right. Shami has to be rested so that he can regain his consistency and accuracy for the English tour.

Raina and Yuvraj will be back for the World T20 and so will Mohit Sharma and Varun Aaron. How many players will actually play in one match of the 15 selected? My guess will be 12 - three will be just by-standers (Binny, Mohit and Varun). Lets hope India gets a bronze in the T20 atleast.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

NZ Test series - the aftermath

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India did not win the 2nd test match against New Zealand despite staying at a situation where the opposition was more than 140 runs behind with half the team back in the hut. The first two and half days of the test saw the Indian team go ahead so much that the Black Caps had to dig deep to recover and hence after the struggle, the match ended in a draw. It took a world record for NZ to rescue the team and thus win the series. Luckily or unluckily, there was no third test and the Indians had to come back without being able to equalize the series.

There has been articles about MS Dhoni and how he should step down. From all the voices heard, only Rahul Dravid has been sensible in his views and opinions. The others have been more emotional than anything else. If there was a different captain in place during this series, what would he have done with the team that India has? Agreed that MSD did not utilize the services of the fringe players but the ones he chose did well in 2nd innings of first test as well as first innings of 2nd test, didnt they? If Dhoni has to be changed, whom do we have as alternative? Kohli? I dont think so. Virat, for all his talent, still has to mature and learn from the mistakes the team members have been doing so far. He himself is to be blamed for dropping Baz McCullum in the initial phase of the latter's innings - what would have happened if he caught him? Would Neesham still have scored a century?

Let me take all of you back to this page on Cricinfo - this is nothing but the overseas results of the Indian team in 1990s. The team was mostly captained by Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar (before the era of Sourav Ganguly) - Azhar was asked to step down mainly because of the match-fixing scandal while Sachin couldn't translate his run-making prowess to captaincy skills. The results were much worse than what it is right now. India lost to Zimbabwe even. This was the time when players like Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid made their debut. Of the matches India have lost overseas, eight matches (against Australia and England) came with the best batsmen (of the generation) as well as a bowling attack not too different from today. After the new batsmen have joined ranks, the performance has improved quite well.

The team has drawn one test each in the two series and got into winning positions in two tests. This is the improvement that Dhoni is talking about. If you take into perspective the combined experience of the team (where Dhoni is the senior-most in batting), the progress has been significant. Only if the replacement players were strengthened to give Dhoni better options, things will definitely improve. It is time for the BCCI to start using its fortune and providing more 'A' tours as well as options for these players to shine.

Do you agree? What else is the medicine to India's problems?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Personal - visit to MCG

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I was in Melbourne last week and this time (unlike few earlier instances), decided to visit the MCG. I had been to Lords and this was another ground I wanted to go. I was tempted by this view from my breakfast table - I had to figure out a way to find time to goto the ground. 

And, very soon, I was lucky. My schedule was not as packed as earlier and the fact that the ground was just opposite the hotel where I stayed, made my decision easier.

I did bump into Neil Harvey's statue on the way in and thought that it was a good gesture by Cricket Australia to have his statue on the way to the ground. Maybe they could include few more!

The Tour started and we had a good guide to take us around - Bruce. 

Our first sighting of the ground evoked sighs from all of us on the tour.

The not-so-new sight-screens were another sight to behold.

The day was not as bright as you can see but the grass was as green it can be.

Inside the ground, the dressing rooms gave us good insight. The Board of Honors inside the visitors dressing room was interesting - names of Tendulkar, Sehwag, Kapil, Gavaskar, Chandrasekhar, Kumble among many more.

The dressing room was quite clean (of course, there was no match) with the lockers and the sofas prim and proper.

Another interesting photograph for all of us - Tendulkar's picture with Sir Don Bradman. Apparently, the batsman has sold the negative during a charity event - picked up by MCG and framed in elegance.

Another pastel that contained pictures of various performers at the MCG (including art performers). Not an updated one but still looks good to view.

Another interesting picture - teams that joined the World Series Cricket. How many can you recognize from this set?

Finally, the Don. Bronze statue at the museum.

To be modest, I was happy with my overall visit - collected few photos and memories of a lifetime. I have replicated some as part of this post- do have a look and let me know what you think.

Before I say good-bye, a look at the ground once again.

Monday, February 10, 2014

NZ Test One - India lose 10th match without a win

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The New Zealand team is not a great team but they had performers who came to the fore at the time the team wanted. This, in the final analysis, proved to be much better than the talented bunch of Indian players. The proof-point of this fact is the way the Indian team rallied back in the 3rd and 4th innings - other than Southee and Wagner, none of the bowlers were creating any trouble for the batsmen. Of course, the umpires were wrong in couple of dismissals but the Indians could have done better with their shot selection. Once settled, it was upto Kohli and Dhawan to take the team closer to victory.

The Indian bowlers reduced their opponents to 30-3 but for some reason tried to bounce out the opposition rather than focusing on a fuller length. Catching was also disastrous in the first innings - on this topic, credit should go to Ravindra Jadeja for his catching in the match. He must be given the benefit of wicket-taker than the bowler (Ishant Sharma, in particular, who was lucky to get nine wickets in the match). 

Who needs to pull up their socks then? Well, the Indian team on a whole, needs to pull up the socks and perform from the first session and sustain the pressure throughout the match to win. Pujara, Rahane and Vijay have to put more runs on the board while the others have to be consistent in both innings of the match. It was a rare double-failure from Pujara's end but we know that it was just a statistical anamoly - look out for him in the next match. Vijay played well but was unlucky in the second innings (just like Rahane). Rohit needs to do more than what he did in this match but signs of progress were visible.

On the bowling front, there is no scope for any changes other than an injury. Pandey could be considered in place of a regular batsman like Rahane but that means the batting becomes weaker than it is. If only they can bowl like they did in the second innings, glory days are just ahead. In terms of tactics, the Indian batting in the last innings was just spot-on - Jadeja and Dhoni put pressure on the bowlers and it almost paid off. This is the exact way Jadeja needs to play in test matches for there is no reason to hold back. Of course, Jaddu has to be more circumspect with his batting and not let adrenaline make him go astray.

Though the Indians lost their 10th test match (with one draw), the Indians are getting closer to the elusive overseas victory. 

Question for the ICC and other boards
  1. Why shouldn't the 3rd umpire call back the batsman if he can see on the TV replays that the bowler had delivered a no-ball? Dhoni was not out if the on-field umpires had referred to the third-umpire. 
  2. Why are the TV aids upto the Boards for implementation? Why not use it uniformly - here, I am not talking about the DRS but the other aids that are available. Each series has its own way of figuring out the disputes (whether its to determine the boundary (four or six) or to identify whether a catch has been taken properly). With the financial clout they have on hand, the Indian Board should take a lead here as well.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

NZ ODI Series - India lose comprehensively

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India lost the ODI series against the Black Caps without winning a single match (but winning all the tosses). Captain MS Dhoni has been critical of his bowlers mainly - he mentioned that he was not sure of his bowlers for World Cup and so on. But this series was not just the failure of his bowlers; his batsmen failed big time as well and that is why Dhoni mentioned that they will get out of this phase.

Let us look at each ODI and check the performances of both teams in a span of five-over breaks. The number of times New Zealand team scored more than 30 runs in the 5-over span is much more than the Indian team. Now, if you blame the Indian bowlers for the times NZ have hit more than 30, should you not blame the batsmen for scoring lesser times? Why is MSD not looking at this aspect?

First ODI

Second ODI

Third ODI

Fourth ODI

Fifth ODI

Looking at these charts, dont you get a feeling that Dhoni has given preferential treatment towards the batsmen?
Agreed that Kohli and Dhoni did well in the series. Just like the bowlers, batsmen like Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane didnt do well in the chances that they received. Why continue with them then? Why continue with a veteran like Ishant Sharma still?