Are you still watching India play cricket?

After the Latham-Taylor show in Mumbai, India have drawn level in the ODI cricket series against New Zealand with a clinical performance in Pune. Bhuvaneshwar and Bumrah set the tone up front and batsman knocked off the runs with ease. 1-1 with one to play. Our prediction at the start of the series seems to be coming good at this point.

We, however, have an another (larger) question – do these matches have any context at all? With series flying thick and fast, hardly a weekend goes by without India featuring in a cricket match. Since the Champions Trophy 2017 in June, India have played almost non-stop.

  • Five days after defeat in the Champions Trophy final the Indian team was in the West Indies for five ODIs and a T20I.
  • Two weeks after returning from the Caribbean, they were in Sri Lanka for three tests, five ODIs and a T20I.
  • Ten days after returning triumphant from Sri Lanka, India were playing their old nemesis Australia in five ODIs and three T20Is.
  • A week after Australia, the New Zealand series started.
  • Ten days after the end of the New Zealand series, India plays Sri Lanka again in three tests, three ODIs and one more T20. You might ask why we are playing Sri Lanka again, since we played them earlier in the year? Maybe it has something to with Sri Lanka being the only ones voting with the BCCI in the big ICC revenue re-shuffle?
  • Ten days after the end of the Sri Lanka series, India will be in South Africa for three tests, six ODIs and three T2OIs.

Did you feel tired reading that? Does the world really need more India-Sri Lanka matches? Who is watching these matches? Read More …

India vs New Zealand, 1st ODI (Mumbai, 2017)

Since falling agonisingly short of the Champions Trophy, Kohli and his band of merry men have had a busy summer. India may have lost Anil Kumble as a coach but they have continued their stellar form to conquer Sri Lanka (3-0 in tests, 5-0 in ODIs), West Indies (3-1, ODIs) and Australia (4-1, ODIs). With the weather cooling down and Diwali celebrations nearly complete, the Indian team gets down to the serious business of hosting New Zealand for 3 ODI and 3 T20s.

The ICC Rankings tell us that India should win the ODI series while NZ should walk away with the T20 honours; India is the #2 ODI Team, up against the #5 ranked NZ side. Conversely NZ has top T20 billing against India’s fifth place.

Cricket, however, would be deathly boring if everything went to plan.

The ODI series kicks off Sunday, October 22nd, at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai (1.30pm IST). Read More …

India’s Grand Test Season Ends (2016-17)

3-0; 4-0; 1-0; 2-1.

A football team would have been proud to win by such margins. Except, these are test matches won by India in four series this test season – New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia.

P13 W10 L1 D2

A win percentage of 76%. A loss percentage of 7.6%. Incredible numbers.

Pitches

All the talk before this home season was about turning pitches. About how Indian pitches were killing test cricket. About how India could only win on turning tracks.

Of the 13 test matches played this season, there were two pitches that turned square – Pune and Bengaluru. The others were good test wickets. Dharamsala where the Australia series concluded so dramatically was an atypical Indian wicket with pace, bounce and carry.

Tosses

India won 6 tosses out of 13. It is true that every time India won the toss, it won the test. However, India also won 4 games out of the 7 tosses it lost (with two draws and one loss), often coming from behind to beat scoreboard pressure. No luck involved there.

Character

Along the way we found out a few more things about the Indian team:

  • That Pujara might be a slow scorer, but is the backbone of the test line-up.
  • That Umesh Yadav has finally grown into the bowler he sometimes threatened to be.
  • That Saha makes runs when the going is tough.
  • That Ashwin played the Australia series with sports hernia (and will miss the IPL).
  • That Rahul played the last four test matches needing shoulder surgery (and will miss the IPL).
  • That Vijay played most of the season with a wrist and shoulder injury (and will likely miss the IPL).
  • That Kohli with three double hundreds in the season hurt his shoulder trying to save a single run for the team (and will miss part of the IPL).
  • That Kohli will carry the drinks for the team if it means he stays involved.
  • That the Indian team was obviously exhausted at the end of a long season but still put in one last heroic performance in Dharmsala to make Kohli’s India the current holder of the test trophy against every other nation.
  • That, this season, the Indian team this season put test cricket above all other forms.

IPL madness starts on Wednesday. This time, let no one say that the IPL is killing the test game.

We will remember this season of test cricket for a long, long time.

India beat the Kiwis but questions remain unanswered

Well, that was a bit of a let-down, wasn’t it?

Going in to the final ODI of the series, the Kiwis had shown fantastic character and fight to tie the ODI series 2-2. However, Vizag saw India wrap up an easy 190 run win so that everyone could have an early night before Diwali celebrations begin on Sunday.

The Kiwis were bowled out for 79, their lowest score against India. Rohit and Kohli scored half-centuries. Amit Mishra picked up five wickets. The long tour seemed to finally get to the Kiwis and it looked like some of the Black Caps had already mentally checked-out.

While the win was a nice little Diwali gift, India will need to do some thinking. While the Champions Trophy 2017 is set to start next June (8 months away!), India only play three more ODIs before then.

Here are four question marks that continue to hang over India’s limited overs team.  Read More …

India v New Zealand ODI series: Fantasy Cricket Tips and Preview

India v New Zealand ODI series 2016 (16 October – 29 October 2016)

The Teams

Coming off a crushing 3-0 loss in the test series, New Zealand will be banking on their explosive batting line-up for a fresh start in the ODI series.

The Indian ODI team looks fairly different from the test team – Dhawan, K.L. Rahul, Bhuvi are injured, Raina is ill with viral fever and Ashwin, Shami, and Jadeja are all rested for the first three ODIs. 

While the Kiwis are #7 in tests (India are ranked #1), New Zealand are the #3 ODI team (India are just below at #4). The pressure will be on M.S. Dhoni’s men to win by a 4-1 margin and leap-frog the Kiwis in the ODI ranks.

The Venues

Dharamsala, Delhi, Mohali, Ranchi and Visakhapatnam.

Our Fantasy Picks

Here are our top 3 fantasy cricket picks from each side for the ODIs. Read More …