England’s tour of India: The Indian juggernaut rolls on in the new year

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! Read More …

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 …

Five cricketers with surprising records

On 14 August 2016, Pakistan piggy-backed on a brilliant Younis Khan double century to climb to the #1 spot in the ICC Test Rankings for the first time in their history – a truly incredible achievement. Exactly 16 days later, against the same England opposition, the famed Pakistan bowling line-up conceded 444 in just 50 overs, allowing England to set a new record for highest ODI score.

It got us thinking: How can such a great test team (Rank #1) be so poor at ODIs (Rank #9), especially when more than half the Pakistani players play both the formats?

In the spirit of differences, this post looks at 5 players whose records in different formats may surprise you.

#1 Virender Sehwag

Most recently famous for his sass on Twitter, Sehwag’s career ended with him known as a maverick cricketer. His ‘see ball hit ball’ philosophy got him into the ODI Team in 1999 and he only made his test debut three years later.

Yet, despite being known for his quick scoring, he retired from the game as something of a test match legend more than an ODI great.

– Test batting average of 49.34, up there with the greats, compared to an ODI average of 35.05. He has the 4th best Test average for an Indian with 20 tests or more (behind Sachin, Gavaskar and Dravid who are all clearly legends of the game), but is not even in the top 10 for ODIs

– Career test strike rate of 82.23; the highest ever among batsman playing 40 tests or more. His ODI career strike rate of 104.33 is impressive, but only 15th on the all-time list.

#2 Ajinkya Rahane

On paper, Rahane is a test match batsman with a technique few can match. He is often lauded for his temperament, seen as the next Dravid, and thus criticized for inclusion in T20 sides.

And yet, the statistics paint a different picture, showing that he deserves his T20 spot:

– T20 Batting Average of 30.68 – behind only Kohli, Dhoni and Raina among Indian batsmen, all of whom are renowned as T20 experts.

– T20 Half Centuries – Rahane has 30 career T20 fifties in 137 innings. It may not be the highest of all time, but his conversion rate is stellar; he scores a 50 every 4.5 innings, the 2nd best of any Indian player (behind only Kohli who scores a 50 every 4.2 innings) and ahead of T20 stalwarts such as Gambhir (4.7), Dhawan (4.9), Rohit (5.2) and Raina (6.3).

#3 David Warner

Not dissimilar to Sehwag, Warner burst on the ODI and T20 scene for his big hitting and fast scoring in 2009, and didn’t make his Test debut till 2011.

And yet, in just 5 years, his test record is truly noteworthy; he has a stellar ODI record too, but that was expected, the test stats may surprise you:

– Test batting average of 48.63 – The 2nd best test average among current playing Australians, only Steve Smith outshines him on this metric, while his ODI average of 37.53 is not even in the Top 5

– Centuries per Innings – Warner may have only racked up 16 centuries, but, he does so at a rate of 0.16, nearly 1 century in every 6 innings. This is 11th of all time, but 3rd among current players, behind only Younis Khan and Steve Smith. It is a faster rate of century scoring than legends like Gavaskar, Sachin, Lara, Ponting, Mahela… you get the point

#4 Hashim Amla

Amla was handpicked to the South African 5-day side for his Test match potential; thus not making his ODI debut for nearly 4 years after his Test debut! His image as a calm, classy, composed batsman made selectors believe he was the perfect Test batsman.

And yet, though his test batting is outstanding, he has proven to be a class apart as an ODI Batsman:

– ODI batting average of 51.97 – The 3rd highest ODI average of all time among batsmen from test playing nations; he trails only Bevan and de Villiers for this incredible feat.

– Centuries per innings – Nobody even comes close to Amla when it comes to his rate of piling up runs in ODIs. The best by far, Amla scores a century every 5.82 innings. Even Kohli only does so every 6.52 innings, and a legend like Sachin scored a century only every 9.2 innings

– Amla became the fastest to 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 and 6,000 runs in ODI Cricket. He is well to break the record to 7,000 as well, with only age limiting his potential given he made his ODI Debut at age 25.

#5 Ravi Ashwin

The only bowler to make this list, Ashwin shot to fame through the IPL, which brought him into the Indian side as a limited overs specialist. He only made his test debut 18 months later.

And yet, after 100 ODIs his limited overs record is nothing to write home about, but he has established himself as a standout in the test arena:

– His bowling strike rate of 51.8 is the best among all Indian bowlers; it is also 5th best among all current players with 20 tests or more. Reminder: Bowling strike rate is number of balls bowled per wicket taken.

– Ashwin takes a 5-wicket haul every 3.67 innings; a truly astounding statistic. Among players who played after 1940, this record is second only to Muralitharan, and 40% better than Herath who is next on the list among active players.

– His figures are not without impact; in his 13 test series till date, he has captured 6 Man of the Series awards. 6 is not only an Indian record, but the rate is by far the fastest too. One award every 2.16 series, this is 62% faster than the next best, Imran Khan, who is undoubtedly a legend of the game.

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Favourite ODI Innings (Part 2 of 3) – Virat Kohli’s 133* v Sri Lanka

This is the second part of our feature and Ashwin has picked his favourite ODI innings– Virat Kohli’s 133* v Sri Lanka at Hobart. You can read the first part here.

The birth of a superstar

Game 11 of a trination series in Australia is being played at Hobart. India’s past four games read tie, loss, loss, loss, loss. Coming into this match against Sri Lanka, India needed the bonus point to just stay alive in the series.

India win the toss and chose to field, meaning that they will know the bonus point equation when they come out to bat. The bowlers fail to deliver. Dilshan gets to 160*, Sangakkara smashes a century off just 84 balls and Sri Lanka walk off the field smiling with 320 on the board. India need to chase the total within 40 overs to secure a bonus point. To put things in context, India has just suffered 3 back-to-back losses while chasing, all of which were sub-300 targets and their last outing saw them being bowled out for 165. 321 in 40 overs is perhaps a bit more than daunting.

None of this seems to matter to Kohli as he walks out to bat. At that stage, India need 8 runs an over. Sachin and Sehwag are back in the hut. He proceeds to make a mockery of the chase. 16 Fours, 2 Sixes take him to 133* off just 86 balls. One sequence against Malinga, considered the world’s best bowler at the time, reads 2-6-4-4-4-4-1-4-4. That’s 33 runs in 9 balls.  Read More …