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 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.

 

 

 

IPL 2017 Auction Wrap Up: The Best, the Worst and the Shocking

Lasting a total of six hours, this was still the shortest IPL auction to date. Despite that, there was some interesting action including the most expensive overseas player and the World #1 T20 bowler not getting picked up.

There was also plenty of interest in all-rounders but let’s make it clear first up that recent history doesn’t agree with the value teams put on all-rounders.

In 2016, Sunrisers Hyderabad won the IPL on the back of Warner & Dhawan with the bat and Bhuvneshwar & Musafizur with the ball – all specialists. In 2015, Mumbai Indians relied on Simmons & Rohit with the bat, Malinga, McClenaghan & Bhajji with the ball – all specialists. In 2014, Kolkata Knight Riders relied on Uthappa with the bat and Narine with the ball – both specialists, not all-rounders.

With this in mind, here are some of the highlights of yesterday’s IPL 2017 auction.

Best 3 Buys (in terms of Value for Money)

  1. Jason Roy: After going unsold in the first round, Jason Roy was snapped up by Gujarat Lions for his base price of just Rs. 1 Crore. His Career T20 average is nearly 30 and strike rate over 144. Oh, and he’s currently in fine form in the PSL, with 173 runs from 5 innings including 2 half-centuries at the time of writing this article.
  1. Mitchell Johnson: Johnson knows a thing or two about the IPL and Mumbai picked him up for his base price of just Rs. 2 Crore. He was valued at 6.5 Crore by KXIP in 2014, so this is a steal. He knows Mumbai well; he was key to their 2013 title campaign with 24 wickets at an economy rate just over 7 runs/over. Mumbai now have Johnson, Malinga and McClenaghan, a more than handy pace trio.
  1. Ankit Bawne: If you’re wondering “who?” – you’re not alone. This 24-year old is not a marquee pick, but he was perfect for the Delhi Daredevils. DD needed a domestic batting boost, and to get a batsman with a T20 average of 33.15 at a strike rate of nearly 130 for just 10 Lakhs is a steal.

Worst 3 Buys (in terms of  Value for Money)

  1. Ben Stokes: Maybe a controversial pick, but 14.5 crore for Stokes was just pure hype and adrenaline, he is nowhere near worth that. No IPL Experience, not available for the entire season (due to international duty). In his most recent T20 series vs. India, he hit only 46 runs and picked up 2 wickets in 3 matches. Also, Pune will have a selection struggle; with Smith, Faf and Zampa almost guaranteed to play, Stokes will steal a spot from Mitchell Marsh. Not worth 14.5Cr.
  1. Trent Boult: Kolkata Knight Riders snapped up Boult in a bidding war that set his value at 5Crore. While KKR had plenty of room for overseas players, and are looking for someone to fill Andre Russell’s shoes, Boult was an odd pick. He has only played 8 IPL matches in 2 seasons, 1 in 2016, and had an average past 12 months for NZ. A steal at 1 Crore, a bad pick at 5 Crore.
  1. Karn Sharma: 5 years ago, Karn was touted as a potential all-rounder for Team India, handy with both bat and ball. Sadly, in 2016, he picked up 0 wickets in 5 matches and scored only 36 runs with the bat, leading him to be let go by the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Mumbai grabbed him for Rs. 3.2 Crore in a bidding war, far higher than his worth.

Most Shocking Unsold Players

  1. Imran Tahir: Not much to say here; it made sense for Delhi Daredevils to let go of him after his weak 2016 IPL, and given Delhi has Mishra as a leggie, but Tahir has a stellar record in limited overs cricket that would have made him an asset to any side. Oh, and he’s the #1 ranked T20 bowler in the world right now.
  1. David Wiese: This South African all-rounder bats at a strike rate greater than 150 and has nearly 120 T20 wickets. In 2015, for RCB he had a couple of good knocks and snagged 16 wickets; for a 30 Lakh starting price we expected him to get picked up.
  1. Parvez Rasool: He has a limited IPL record, with only 2-4 games in each of the past 4 years, but Rasool has a handy T20 bowling economy rate and can bat a bit too. As a domestic spinner, he would have been an asset to squads who focused disproportionately on their overseas buys.

So that’s it! Stay tuned to 1Tip1Hand for lots more about the IPL between now and the first game, which kicks off at 8pm IST on Wednesday, April 5th, 2017.

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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 …