Happy new year! So it’s been over a month since we last posted on the blog. The last post was just after India were on their way to winning the fourth test against England. Predictably, the Indian team won that. And we won the next test match to end up with a 4-0 series win. Then, like the England cricket team, we took a break from the blog over the festive period. Finally, 23 days into January, we kick the 2017 edition of the blog off with a round-up of all that has gone on since we last posted.
Lots to discuss!
A string of injuries to the Indian batsmen meant that Karun Nair got his chance to play test cricket in the third test against England at Mohali. A freak piece of fielding by Jos Butler sent him packing for only 4 after skipper Virat Kohli sold him down the river. Mumbai was not much better as he fell leg before to a review by England for only 13. But there is only so long he stayed quiet. Walking in at the fall of his skipper’s wicket in Chennai, Nair re-wrote the history books, becoming India’s second triple centurion after Virender Sehwag and the third man ever to convert his maiden test hundred into a triple century. There was some worry that Kohli declared too late on day 4 to allow Nair to get to 300, but India wrapped up the test victory with enough time remaining. The only question is whether Nair will slot into the XI for the first test against Australia if Rohit Sharma is fit. Karun Nair has made himself very very hard to drop so a nice little headache there for the Indian camp.
Watch the highlights of Karun Nair’s unbeaten triple century here to re-live his fantastic innings.
The new year brought with it a new captain for India’s ODI and T20 sides. Ever since he took over the reigns in 2008, Dhoni has done things on his own terms. Whether it was bowling Joginder Sharma in the last over of the WT20 final or batting up the order in the World Cup final, Dhoni loves surprises. To keep with the theme, he stepped aside from captaincy in the first week of 2017 and Kohli is now India’s captain in all three formats. Indian cricket owes MSD a massive debt of gratitude for everything he has done. We hope that MSD can go from “Captain Cool” to the uncomplicated “Mahi” he was in his younger days. Maybe, just maybe, he will grow his hair long again?
For those of you who follow the IPL, Kedar Jadhav is a familiar name, although he has remained on the fringes of the national team. The ODI series against England finally saw Kedar Jadhav emerge from the shadows…and how! His hundred in the first ODI along with skipper Kohli saw India chase down an unlikely 350. It was a fantastic innings full of power, timing and some interesting running between the wickets. Even with cramp threatening to take him down, Kedar’s power-hitting kept India in the game. His innings in the third ODI was equally good. With Pandya for company he took India within touching distance of the target only to fall agonisingly short in the final four deliveries. His man of the series performance in the England ODIs seals his middle order spot for the Champions Trophy and marks him out as one to watch this summer in England.
The Yuvi-Dhoni show
The top order will be a cause for concern for India for the Champions Trophy. The openers failed in every game and India needed to be rescued by their middle and lower order. Speaking of the middle order, there was a lot of speculation about Yuvraj’s re-inclusion in the ODI squad. Some people thought Raina should be given a chance while others saw this as a backward step. The talk only increased after both Yuvraj and Dhoni failed in the first ODI. In the second ODI with India in trouble at 25-3 batting first on a great track with a tiny outfield, Yuvi and Dhoni rolled back the years to set up India’s mammoth total of 381. Shahrukh Khan said it (and Sanju Manju tried to say it) – “Sheron ka zamaana hota hai“. Class is permanent.
Different year, same result. Virat Kohli is still batting on a different planet. A sublime hundred in the first ODI to win India the game, followed by a nice knock in the third ODI on a seaming track. Kohli’s average in all three formats remains above 50. Surreal.
England overcome the Ghost of Eden
“Carlos Braithwate! Remember the name!” Evidently England have not forgotten that name since the last time they visited Eden in the final of the WT20 2016. Morgan ensured Stokes was bowled out before the last over (after a very good spell) and he handed the ball to Woakes to defend 15. For the first two balls of the over, things seemed to be heading the same way – they disappeared over cover for a six and a four respectively, leaving India only 6 to get off 4. But Woakes is no Stokes and Jadhav is no Braithwate and the last four balls went dot, dot, wicket, dot to give England the win by 5 runs.
Kohli finally lost a game at home. England finally won a game on this tour (even though the ODI series was lost) and Ben Stokes took home the man of the match. England’s Ghost of Eden may be laid to rest.
That’s all for now. We will be back with previews of the T20s against England starting on Thursday. Keep reading and leave a comment!
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