India v England T20 Series: Questions over Indian Team Selection

After a successful Test (4-0) and ODI (2-1) Series, Kohli’s India walked into the first T20 at Kanpur full of confidence but lost by 7 wickets. Just as we said in our preview, T20 England is an entirely different beast.

Virat Kohli has an outstanding 63% win rate in test matches (after 22 tests at the helm), an 80% win rate in ODIs (after 20 ODIs at the helm), so will want to quickly turn around his 0% success rate after his first T20 as skipper.

One key element of a skipper’s responsibility lies in team selection, and India’s 7-wicket loss in Kanpur leaves us wondering whether others would have fared better in the starting XI. Today we look at the 4 men from the 15-person squad who didn’t make the cut in Kanpur. Read More …

Preview: India v England T20 Series (and a new fantasy cricket league)

Are you missing your usual fantasy cricket fix? Check out the free-to-enter fantasy cricket league for the three India v England T20s on Fanzoo Sports to play and have the chance to win prizes from Zomato! 

72 days since their first game of cricket in India and after losing both the ODI and the test series, England finally registered a win on the board in the final ODI to salvage some pride. The following statement will therefore come as a bit of a shock: England will fancy their chances in the T20s against India.

Yes, that’s right. Historically India struggled in tests and were dominant at limited overs cricket in the sub-continent, while England was primarily a test-playing nation. The recent story is different. India has grown to be a formidable Test side at home while England (with their batting firepower) are now an excellent T20 side. Having cruised to the World T20 finals less than a year ago, England start the T20 series as favourites.

In recent T20 outings, however, both sides have seen mixed results. India’s second string team scraped through 2-1 against Zimbabwe and lost to the West Indies either side of that series, once in the US and once in the World T20 semi final. England, too, have won just 1 of their last 3 games, beating Sri Lanka by 8 wickets in between losing to the Windies in the World T20 final, and to Pakistan by 9 wickets in September.

Ahead of the three match T20 series between India and England that kicks off Thursday, here are 3 things the 1 Tip 1 Hand Team is watching closely: 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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Miami T20 weekend: India v West Indies

This Saturday August 27th and Sunday August 28th, Miami in Florida will host two T20 Matches between India and the West Indies. The BCCI has declared it their goal to make this an annual event, which bodes well for expansion of the sport to new countries.

The first ever cricket international was actually played in North America! In 1844, th "British Empire’s Canadian Province" visited New York to face off against the USA side.Canada racked up 82 all out in 32 overs, dismissed the US for 64, built on their lead and proceeded to win the game by 23 runs. How times change; 82 by an entire side was enough to win in 1844; today Chris Gayle could smash 82 off 5 overs all by himself!

So why is it a big deal to be taking T20s to Florida? For starters, cricket could use the globalization. There are 10 Full Member Nations, another 8 Associate Members with T20I Status. None of them are from North America or South America, and only England, Scotland and Ireland hail from Europe. Several of the biggest, more developed sporting nations in the world have close to zero involvement in cricket today; so taking the game to America is a step in the right direction for the future of the game.

However, it might may be too little too late.

Here are 5 reasons the BCCI will have a tough time cracking the American market.

1. It’s an Over-Saturated Sports Market: In order of size, the United States already has 5 major sports leagues:

a. NFL (American Football)

b. MLB (Baseball)

c. NBA (Basketball)

d. NHL (Ice Hockey)

e. MLS (Soccer)

Soccer is the newest entrant, and is growing aggressively behind the might of the European Soccer Leagues. Is there really room in that packed lineup for a 6th major sport like cricket?

2. The weather can be prohibitive: All 5 of the big sports can be played indoors, with limited impact on the game itself. In fact, American Football and Soccer can both be played even in rain or snow. With the east coast in winter for 6 months of the year, can cricket adapt? Playing indoors would change the pitch, impacting swing, bounce, pace of the outfield, and more.

3. Size of the diaspora: Many would argue that the large South Asian population of the US and Canada is enough to give cricket a head-start in that part of the world. There are 3.4 Million South Asians in the US (as of the last census), which is up 81% from the previous one. While in absolute terms that is no small number, it’s still less than 0.2% of South Asia itself. The BCCI might be too used to having hordes of fans around at all times.

4. The USACA has been suspended: The USA Cricket Association was suspended by the ICC in June 2015 for “governance and financial problems”. This also means a freeze on their funding, which has prevented the US from sending their own cricket team to any tournaments. Is there an example of any sport that has mass following in a country which doesn’t even play it?

5. Time Zones: This weekend’s matches begin at 10am Eastern, or 7.30pm IST – the perfect prime time spot for the Indian TV viewing audience. Unfortunately, it’s not ideal for hordes of Americans to wake up hungover early on a Saturday morning and make the trek to a cricket stadium – or skip work if future games are on weekdays. It will always be a balance between TV and live audiences, and given the sheer numbers, I worry TV will always win.

The BCCI and ICC clearly have an uphill battle on their hands, but we are excited to see them trying to spread cricket to North America!

– Ashwin

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Vivo IPL 2016 – The Dream Team 

What an IPL final! Sunrisers Hyderabad were crowned 2016 champions on Sunday and we all woke up on Monday with an IPL-sized hole in our souls.  No more Yes Bankers, no more Freecharge Bolt moments, no more fantasy cricket and no more Danny Morrison abbreviating himself hoarse until next year – some serious IPL withdrawal symptoms have begun to set in!

So to make ourselves feel a little better, we have put together our ultimate dream team from this year’s IPL. We have stuck to the four overseas player limit and have included our best wildcard/uncapped pick as well. SRH (3), RCB (3), KKR (2), GL (2) and MI (1) are represented while no RPS, DD or KXIP player makes the cut.

Read on to find out our dream team. Read More …