India v Australia, third test, Ranchi: Cricket’s dreaded C-Word

Our first post on this blog was way back in August 2014 – the same month we wrote about how terrible the Indian test team was at bowling, batting and fielding, and boy are we glad to see the progress Kohli’s side has made! In light of #DressingRoomGate, we decided to search our site to see just how often we had used cricket’s dreaded “C-Word” in two and a half years of blog posts, and here’s what we got:

Cricket Cheating

Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

While we have written about sportsmanship and cricket becoming a contact sport, not once in two and a half years on this blog have we used cricket’s forbidden C-Word. Indian skipper Kohli is often seen on camera screaming obscenities,  yet even he refused to say the word on camera. To quote Captain K –“I don’t want to mention the word … I would never do something like that on the cricket field”.

We’ll just go ahead and finally say it: Cheating.

That’s right, cheating – but what exactly is it? Here are some simple dictionary definitions:

  • To behave in a dishonest way in order to get what you want
  • To deprive of something valuable by the use of deceit or fraud
  • To violate rules dishonestly

The Incident

To summarise, on day four of the Bengaluru test, Aussie captain Steve Smith appeared to act in contravention of the DRS rules which state:

“If the umpires believe that the captain or batsman has received direct or indirect input emanating other than from the players on the field, then they may at their discretion decline the request for a Player Review. In particular, signals from the dressing room must not be given.”

That quick glance over to his dressing room has caused much uproar in the week since it occurred.

The Fall Out

Smith called it a ‘brain fade’, Kohli called it everything short of the c-word. Smith seems to believe it was a momentary lapse, which he regrets. Kohli claimed to have seen a pattern of abuse, and refused to buy the ‘brain fade’ explanation.The BCCI was outraged. Cricket Australia seemed unmoved by the incident but was outraged at the BCCI’s outrage. Heck, even Faf du Plessis chimed in for some reason.

The BCCI has since dropped its official complaint.

Our View

With all that said, what do we at 1 Tip 1 Hand make of it all?

To us, it made absolutely no sense that Steve Smith, with 52 tests of experience, seemed to immediately pin the blame on his partner Peter Handscomb, who was playing his 6th test. Heck, Peter Handscomb tweeted soon after to take all the blame, which now seems a bit too well-orchestrated. “Blame the new guy” is a pretty standard corporate world move, but not often used in the sporting world!

Yet, we believe in giving the benefit of the doubt, and great cricket comes above all else. The series has produced two incredible test matches, in completely different ways, and we can’t wait for the third test in Ranchi to start tomorrow. Also, calling someone is a cheat is a pretty big thing, when it comes to the gentleman’s game so we won’t label Steve Smith with the C-Word…just yet. However, Steve Smith will do well to remember that sports fans, especially Indian cricket fans, have very long memories. We won’t forget this easily and the label will stick if there are any further brain fades.

Let’s all move on now and get back to the cricket.

The 3rd test of the India-Australia Series kicks off in Ranchi on March 16th, 2017 at 9:30am IST.

India v Australia, 2nd test, Bengaluru: India stay alive (and kicking!)

It was tea on the third day of the second test match of the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2017. One nil down in the series and having conceded a lead of 87 in the first innings, India was ahead by just 33 runs with six wickets in hand. India’s experiment with Jadeja had failed in the last over before the break and Ajinkya Rahane would join the dogged Cheteshwara Pujara for the final session of day three. India were alive in the series, but only just.

That’s when we decided to send out a tweet asking the world at large whether Pujara and Rahane could channel their inner Dravid and Laxman. You see, when it’s India and Australia, with the series one wicket away from escaping India’s grasp, Eden Gardens in 2001 becomes the benchmark for a certain generation of Indian cricket fans.

Almost exactly 16 years later, a similar stage was set. Four wickets had fallen in the second innings of the Eden test when Dravid came in to join Laxman. In 2001, Tendulkar had gone for 10. Here, Virat Kohli fell (a slightly dubious decision, in our opinion) for just 15. Dravid was struggling to lay bat on ball before Eden. Before Bengaluru, so was Rahane. Pujara is a batsman in Dravid’s mould. Rahane is more stylish, VVS like.

Unlike Eden, however, the Bengaluru pitch was not going to hold up for five days. The bounce was unpredictable and the turn was quick and sharp. Lyon had taken eight wickets in the first innings to bundle India out for 189. Jadeja had taken six for India. Surely Australia retaining the Border Gavaskar trophy was a just matter of time.

The first ball after tea kept low and went through Matthew Wade and went for four byes. A sign of things to come? Another third day finish looked on the cards. If there was ever a time to stand up and be counted, this was it.

Like 2001, two unfancied guys took up the challenge. Bit by bit, with their backs firmly up against the wall, first Pujara and then Rahane dragged India back into the match with supple wrists, soft hands and some good luck. The Australians, who had the game (and the series) by the scruff of the neck until then, began to flag. By the end of the third days’ play, Indian fans were believing again. 126 priceless runs ahead with 6 wickets still standing – the 93 run partnership between Pujara and Rahane had changed the complexion of the match. Unbelievably, the momentum had shifted towards India.

The fourth morning brought with it another twist in the tale. Pujara fell in the 90s for the first time in his test career and India’s remaining wickets tumbled to Hazelwood quickly, leaving Australia 187 to chase to retain the Border Gavaskar trophy. It was a tough ask, but not impossible. One good session from Warner could get Australia within sniffing distance.

Renshaw went first to a snorter from Ishant. The dangerous Warner followed soon after lbw post DRS to Ashwin. Marsh was given out lbw and chose not to review after a mix-up with Smith. Steve Smith then decided to look towards the dressing when given out lbw to a “worm burner” from Umesh.

Who knows whether it was deliberate or not. The one thing that #DressingRoomGate surely exemplified the confusion that reigned in Aussie minds at the time. Teams visiting India need a bit of luck, good technique and, perhaps most importantly, clear minds. Smith had cracked under the pressure of the moment. In that moment of panic, Kohli knew that the series had turned decisively in India’s favour.

India proceeded to wrap up the test with Ashwin picking up six to become the fourth bowler in the test to take six wickets or more (after Lyon, Jadeja and Hazlewood). The series was tied 1-1. Bangalore was the site of yet another mini-miracle. 

DressingRoomGate, unfortunately, probably got a bit blown out of proportion thereafter. Smith called it a brain-fade, Kohli made some comments in the post match conference and the boards of both nations got involved. Finally, better sense has prevailed and the BCCI has withdrawn its complaint against Steve Smith and Hanscombe.

As an aside, we rather enjoyed Kohli telling Healy that the pot shouldn’t call the kettle black. In our opinion, Heals should stick to what he is good at (which is NOT being a commentator, for the record). We have offered our services to Mr. Kohli to research his critics further. At the date of writing, we have not heard back.

Where does that leave us for the third test in Ranchi starting on Thursday? Well, for one, Mitch Starc will be out with injury and so will Mitch Marsh. Kohli’s India will be fired up and raring to go. It won’t be an easy ride but we are predicting a 3-1 win to India to win back the Border Gavaskar Trophy and round off this grand season of Indian test cricket. What to you guys think?

The third test match starts at Ranchi on Thursday, 16 March 2017. Remember to subscribe to all our blog updates by clicking here.

 

 

 

India v Australia, 1st test, Pune: India finally come undone

We didn’t preview this India v Australia test series thinking there would be nothing new to say. On the one hand you had Steve Smith’s unfancied Australia, which had lost 0-3 in Sri Lanka six months ago and had been dubbed by Bhajji as the “weakest Australian team to ever visit India” and by Dada as most likely to go down 0-4. On the other side stood Kohli’s mighty Indian test outfit – a captain who had never lost a game in India and a team which was unbeaten in 19 test matches (home and away). The test teams of Sri Lanka, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand, England and Bangladesh had all been swept aside at various points in the last two and a half years. Before going into the Pune test against Australia, India hadn’t lost a test match at home since December 2012 – a 20 match unbeaten streak at home.

But these two mighty cricketing nations have a special relationship, based primarily on spoiling each others’ parties. In the greatest moment in Indian test history, the Laxman/Dravid/Bhajji miracle ended Australia’s 16 match winning streak at Kolkata in 2001. Australia then conquered the “Final Frontier” in 2004, bringing India’s unbeaten run at home to end. Again, in 2008, India famously brought another Aussie 16 match winning streak to an end by winning at the WACA in Perth when no one gave them a chance.

So, in case you’ve been working for a living or living under a rock, Australia has won the first test match at Pune by 333 runs within three days, bringing Kohli and India’s streaks to an end. India have been paid back in their own coin. Read More …

India v Bangladesh Test: Preview

In the past seven weeks, India has played against England in all 3 formats . Just over 2 weeks from now, India kicks off a 4-Test series with Australia too. Almost exactly 10 weeks from now, the IPL will kick off with an opening ceremony that is no doubt newsworthy, for better or for worse. That will be followed almost immediately by the Champions Trophy in England. PHEW!

Yet here we are, in the middle of a packed season previewing a standalone test between India and Bangladesh to be played in Hyderabad, from Feb 9-13, 2017.

So how did this Test match find a way into the already crazy calendar? Maybe the BCCI realized that India, despite sharing a border with them, remains the only Test playing nation to have not yet hosted Bangladesh in a Test match. All that is set to change on 9 February 2017.

The last time Hyderabad hosted a test in 2013, Pujara scored a double, Vijay scored a century, Ashwin took a 5-for and Jadeja took 3 wickets in each innings. Kohli will back his top XI and will be looking to warm-up for the upcoming  four test series against Steve Smith’s men with a win here.

Ahead of this (historic?) standalone test, here are a few things we at 1 Tip 1 Hand are watching closely: Read More …

India V England, 4th Test: Day 2 Highlights At Mumbai

Surprising. Unsurprising. Balanced. Another superb day of test cricket at Mumbai. While India will feel they took honours on Day 2, the test match is delicately poised and could swing in either direction in the next 3 days.

Surprising

Jos Buttler, who has made his name as a limited overs batsman, was brought in after the 2nd test and managed an impressive 43 in Mohali. He continued his form in Mumbai with an excellent 76 to take England to a solid 400, before becoming the last man dismissed. Could Jos be on track to join our list of cricketers whose records may surprise you?

The other surprise today was DRS – early in the day Stokes felt hard done by the third umpire’s decision. Given not out by the on-field umpire, Kohli reviewed for the edge, and the 3rd umpire overturned the decision to send Stokes back to the pavilion. Many thought the sound was Stokes’ bat hitting the ground, but India won’t be complaining.

Watch video – England’s first innings fall of wickets

Unsurprising

Ashwin picked up another 5-wicket haul, his 23rd in just 43 test matches. He equalled the record for most 5-wicket hauls by an Indian, with Kapil Dev who had 23 in 131 tests. An excellent feat, but given his recent form, par for the course as he continues to raise the bar.

Watch video – Ashwin’s 6/112

Pujara too, came in at 39-1 after Rahul was dismissed thanks to some pretty ordinary shot selection against Moeen. He stabilized the innings, adding 47* with Vijay, to give India confidence at the end of Day 2. He has now scored at least a half-century in his last 7 test matches, converting 3 of those to centuries. Another excellent feat, but we’ve come to expect this of Chetu at #3.

Watch video – Monk Vijay and Steady Pujara lead India’s fightback

Balanced

At the end of Day 2, Kohli’s India will be feeling optimistic, with momentum starting to swing to them. They will do well to remember that England were comfortably at 230-2, before losing Ali (50) and Jennings (112) within 2 balls.

Tomorrow will be key.  India trail by 254 with 9 wickets in hand.On a Wankhede pitch that tends to deteriorate exponentially on Days 4 and 5, this means that the match is very much even at the end of Day 2. India will hope to amass a huge first innings lead and only bat once. England will be hoping to bowl India out cheaply and get a first innings lead.

You have to love test match cricket!

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