Second Innings: The Refugee Cricket Project

A few months ago, while the Indian Premier League was on someone on our fantasy cricket Whatsapp group asked the others to make a guess at Rashid Khan’s age. Estimates varied between 30 and 600. Some Shahid Afridi jokes were thrown in for good measure.

The answer – 20 September 1998, making Rashid Khan 18. The wise one on our Whatsapp Group said – “When you have the Taliban in your backyard, you age faster“.

True that.

“Second Innings” is a Guardian documentary which follows the stories of three young men – Rafi, Babar and Mati – refugees to the UK from Afghanistan. It focuses on the Refugee Cricket Project, organised by the Refugee Council. The project was born from the recognition that cricket, which is becoming a highly popular sport in Afghanistan, was a way of building confidence in these young men. The project involves weekly matches against teams ranging from the MCC to the “mixed clergy”. You can read more about the Refugee Cricket Project here.

The documentary also gives us a little glimpse into the issues faced by asylum seekers and refugees in the UK and how cricket has helped these young men go about their lives. The telling line – “When they go and play these matches, they are seen as sportsmen first and refugees second”.

While the documentary doesn’t directly mention it, it also puts into context the monumental achievement by the Afghanistan cricket team, which received test status on 22 June 2017. The team was set up by refugees who had fled to Pakistan.

Watch the 19 minute documentary here.

Second Innings is commissioned by the Guardian and supported by Natwest. You can read more about the film-makers and the film itself here.

IPL 2017 Preview: Part 2

One day to go for IPL 2017! Here is the second part of our IPL 2017 preview covering KKR, GL, KXIP and DD.

Read Part 1 here.

Kolkata Knight Riders

Skipper:                                  Gautam Gambhir

2016 Finish:                          #4 of 8, losing the eliminator to eventual champions

Best Finish Ever:                  2012 and 2014 Winners

First Match:                           Gujarat Lions vs. KKR at Rajkot, Friday April 7th, 2017 at 8pm IST

Team Balance:                      Probably the best balanced side of all – batting, all-rounders, spinners, pacers, young, old!

Players to Watch:

  1. Robin Uthappa: No longer playing for India, Uthappa continues to shine in the IPL; 3390 runs with 17 half centuries since 2008
  2. Trent Boult: Stuck in a stacked SRH lineup last year, he barely played, but will be an excellent fast bowling replacement for Morne Morkel
  3. Chris Woakes: T20 Strike rate of 139 with the bat, 400+ first class wickets with the ball. KKR may have found the perfect replacement for Andre Russell.

Gujarat Lions

Skipper:                                  Suresh Raina

2016 Finish:                          #3 of 8, after topping the table but losing both qualifiers

Best Finish Ever:                  2016, their first and only season so far

First Match:                           Gujarat Lions vs. KKR at Rajkot, Friday April 7th, 2017 at 8pm IST

Team Balance:                      Batting heavy with 3 true all-rounders, but limited pure bowling quality

Players to Watch:

  1. Jason Roy: His first ever IPL, but Roy has a T20 strike rate of nearly 145.
  2. Dwayne Bravo: #3 on IPLs all-time highest wicket taker list with his focus on death overs
  3. Ravindra Jadeja: Man of the Series in tests against Australia, Sir is more than capable in the T20 format.

Kings XI Punjab

Skipper:                                  Glenn Maxwell

2016 Finish:                          #8 of 8 for the second year in a row

Best Finish Ever:                  Finalists in 2014

First Match:                           KXIP vs. Rising Pune Supergiants at Indore, April 8, 2017 at 4pm IST

Team Balance:                      Very batting heavy; not a single overseas bowler in the entire squad

Players to Watch:

  1. Eoin Morgan: With 24 T20 half centuries, Morgan was this year’s biggest buy for KXIP
  2. Sandeep Sharma: Not a big name but has a knack to pick up both early and late wickets
  3. Wriddhiman Saha: Sometimes seen as a test specialist, Saha has 2484 T20 runs at a strike rate of over 130

 Delhi Daredevils

Skipper:                                 Zaheer Khan

2016 Finish:                          #6

Best Finish Ever:                  2008, 2009 Semi Finalists

First Match:                           RCB vs. Delhi Daredevils at Bengaluru, April 8, 2017 at 8pm IST

Team Balance:                      Light on top order batting, strong lower order and quick bowling

Players to Watch:

  1.  Kagiso Rabada: This young quick was Delhi’s key buy this year; though his T20 stats are limited, his Test and ODI bowling figures are tremendous
  2. Rishabh Pant: Young but with a bright future; he burst on the scene with a test match triple century and 48-ball hundred in the same season
  3. Amit Mishra: Amit Mishra’s leg spinners have picked up 124 victims in his IPL career, second only to Malinga. Can run through any line-up on his day.

IPL 2017 Preview: Part 1

The IPL 2017 is nearly upon us – it kicks off on Wednesday, 5 April 2017 with current champions Sunrisers Hyderabad taking on last year’s runners-up Royal Challengers Bangalore.

To get you in the mood, we’ve put together a preview of all the teams. Here is the first part covering Royal Challengers Bangalore, Surnrisers Hyderabad, Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants. Part 2 will be up on the blog on Tuesday.

Buckle in and enjoy the ride.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Skipper:                                 Virat Kohli

2016 Finish:                          Runners Up

Best Finish Ever:                  2009, 2011 and 2016 runners-up

First Match:                           Sunrisers Hyderabad vs. RCB at Hyderabad, April 5, 2017 at 8pm IST

Team Balance:                      As always, explosive batting, limited marquee bowlers (in fact, just the one)

Players to Watch:

  1. Tymal Mills: The 12-crore man, Mills is a T20 specialist, though he picked up just 7 wickets in 5 matches in the PSL, so will look to deliver this IPL.
  2. AB de Villiers: Need we say more? IPL average nearly 40, strike rate nearly 150.
  3. Tabraiz Shamsi: Though he might struggle to make the playing XI, Shamsi is a useful lesser known bowler whose Chinaman can prove tricky to read

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Skipper:                                 David Warner

2016 Finish:                          Champions

Best Finish Ever:                  2016 Champions

First Match:                           Sunrisers Hyderabad vs. RCB at Hyderabad, April 5, 2017 at 8pm IST

Team Balance:                      Top order and fast bowling heavy; light on spin and lower order batsmen

Players to Watch:

  1. Mustafizur Rahman: Nearly unplayable, he picked up 17 wickets at 6.90 in 2016 with his outstanding yorker.
  2. Shikhar Dhawan: Though his Team India spot is up for grabs, there’s no debating his IPL prowess. 500+ runs in 2016, 3000+ all time.
  3. Rashid Khan: He might struggle to make the playing XI, but this Afghan bowls a mean googly and would relish any chance he gets in the IPL.

Mumbai Indians

Skipper:                                  Rohit Sharma

2016 Finish:                          #5 of 8 for the second year in a row

Best Finish Ever:                  2013 and 2015 Winners

First Match:                           Rising Pune Supergiants vs. Mumbai Indians at Pune, April 6, 2017 at 8pm IST

Team Balance:                      Light on overseas batsmen; all-rounder and bowler heavy

Players to Watch:

  1. Krunal Pandya: The older Pandya surged to success in 2016 – he will want to pick up where he left off with both bat and ball
  2. Lasith Malinga: IPL’s all time highest wicket taker by some distance, his toe-crushing yorkers are feared by all
  3. Parthiv Patel: Quietly, PP has racked up 500+ runs for MI in just 2 seasons.

Rising Pune Supergiants

Skipper:                                  Steven Smith

2016 Finish:                          #7 of 8

Best Finish Ever:                  Sadly, #7 – 2016 was their first ever IPL

First Match:                           Rising Pune Supergiants vs. Mumbai Indians at Pune, April 6, 2017 at 8pm IST

Team Balance:                      Light on Indian batsmen and overseas bowlers

Players to Watch:

  1. Adam Zampa: Few will forget his 6-19 in the 2016 that shot him into the limelight
  2. Faf du Plessis: Tremendously experienced, with nearly 4000 T20 runs and 20 half centuries
  3. Ben Stokes: The 14.5crore buy, he will need to perform with both bat and ball to justify his price tag

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.

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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