Category Archives: Cricket

Test of the Best!

Do you agree West Indies team of the 70s and 80s was one of the greatest test sides?

Out of the 64 matches they had played in the 2 decades at Home, they won only 26 matches, lost 8, drew 30. That’s a win % of 40.6%

What about the Incredible Australian team from 2000 to 2007?

Out of the 47 matches they played at Home in those 8 years, they won 38, lost only 2 and drew 7. That’s a win % of 80.8%. Incredible record this.

Now, cut to 2016-17. The Grand Home Season of Indian cricket. 13 Test matches against NZ, England, Bangladesh and Australia. With 11 matches over as of day, India have won 9, lost only 1 and drew 1. Win %? 81.8%. That’s a percentage point better than the Win % of THAT Aussie team at Home.

We had one bad match in Pune last week. Everyone has a bad day at office. You do. I do. Everyone does. That’s about it. Pune was an aberration.

In Bangalore, I believed from the first ball on Day 1 till Ravi Ash took that caught-and-bowled to dismiss Lyon on Day 4, that India had it in them to win this match and square the series.

What a contest this Bangalore Test was! When was the last time we were engrossed into the game for full four days? Best part was that at no stage in the game till post tea session on Day 4 did either team have a clear advantage over the game.

I would rate this Test as the second most awesome Test India has been part of. No points for guessing the most awesome Test.

T.E.A.M -Together Everyone Achieve More.

It was a true TEAM performance in every sense of the word. That makes the victory sweeter. We didn’t win the match because of a Kohli Double Ton or an Ashwin 10-fer.

Rahul, Pujara, Rahane, Ash, Jaddu, Ishant, Umesh all had their role to play.

For Australia, they have great finds in Renshaw and Handscomb. Renshaw for a 20 year old, has shown great grit and patience in this series to already become a player to look forward to. Hope he makes it big in Australian cricket.

Congrats Ashwin on surpassing BS Bedi to now become the fifth highest wicket taker for India. Also for the 25th five wicket haul. No ordinary achievement.

Eagerly await the 3rd and final tests of this riveting series.

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Virat Kohli’s 2016 in perspective – some numbers

We all know what a 2016 Virat Kohli has had, in Tests.
3 Double tons in 3 back to back series, averaging 76 with the bat in 18 innings batted.

Virat Kohli - 3 Double Hundreds in a calendar year!

Virat Kohli – 3 Double Hundreds in a calendar year!

I was curious to see where this performance stands in the History of Test Cricket, in terms of sheer amount of runs, Batting average and a few other numbers.

Some observations follow:

Virat Kohli’s 2016 is at #50 in terms of Runs scored in a Calendar year by a player, with 1215 runs amassed in 18 innings.

Mohammad Yousuf’s 2006 tops the list with a staggering 1788 Test runs amassed in 19 innings at an average of 99.33. Bradmanesque? Whoah!

Sachin Tendulkar’s 2010 is #5 in the list with 1562 runs at 78.10. Sachin is the only Indian who has scored more than 1500 Test runs in a calendar year.

Maximum runs in a Calendar Year! Mohammad Yousuf's 2006 is Bradmanesque

Maximum runs in a Calendar Year! Mohammad Yousuf’s 2006 is Bradmanesque

In terms of Batting Averages in a Calendar Year, Virat Kohli’s 2016 is at #20. Sir Gary Sobers averaged 144 in 1958, the year which saw him score the iconic 365*. Sunil Gavaskar’s 1978 was phenomenal too, with Sunny bhai averaging 92 in the year he toured West Indies having to face the fearsome foursome.

Only 3 batsmen have had years where their batting average was above 100

Only 3 batsmen have had years where their batting average was above 100

The English on average play 15-17 Test matches a year, much more than India, who play 12-14. No wonder we see Alastair Cook scoring 1000+ runs in 4 different calendar years. The record for most calendar years with 1000+ Test runs is currently held by Matthew Hayden. He has 5 of them. Sunny, Sachin, Dravid , Sehwag all have 3.

4 Indians have 3 Calendar years each where they have amassed 1000+ Test runs

4 Indians have 3 Calendar years each where they have amassed 1000+ Test runs

An interesting observation from the below graphic – Joe Root now in 2 consecutive years, has failed to convert 20 50s into 100s. In the last 2 years, he has 26 scores of 50+ (which is great) but ony 6 of them above 100.

Viru Pa had 13 50+ scores in 2010, a record he jointly holds with Joe Root

Viru Pa had 13 50+ scores in 2010, a record he jointly holds with Joe Root

Looking at all these numbers, there’s one more observation that crosses my mind. Look at the “Year” column. 90% of the years are post 2000. The records amassed in Test batting in the 70s, 80s and 90s are far and few. Does it indirectly indicate Test Cricket conditions off late have become more batsman-friendly? Or the quality of bowlers reduced? Or mere coincidence. There are always going to be 2 views.

Perhaps a look at a similar study on Yearly Bowling Stats can help!

Harbhajan “Sadist” Singh?!?

Make no mistake, I have high regards for Harbhajan Singh, who represented India at the highest level in Tests for more than 100  matches, something very few legends of the game have managed to do. Harbhajan was a match winner for us.

Off late, something I despise about him is the fact that he very outwardly hates the fact that Ravi Ashwin (a Legend in the making) is over-shadowing him in the Test format. His tweets are a reflection of the same. People who follow him closely on Twitter will have got that sense.

There were tweet praises from him for Kohli when he scored a double, Rahane when he scored a century. No word of appreciation for Ravi Ash when he star-performed throughout the series and also won the Man of the Series Award. Well, you might argue, one cannot infer any sense of sadism from these hints.

Well, he’s also been outspoken about how pitches currently are “tailor made for spin” and about how his and Anil Bhai’s records would have been “something else” had they played in this era.

Now I don’t expect such talk from someone who is a true sport at heart. Harbhajan clearly is not a true sport, though his tweets later after Ashwin cleared the air though his tweets, seemed to hint the same.

Well, my 2 cents for Harbhajan. You’ve made invaluable contribution to Indian Cricket through your long and celebrated career. Now it’s time for others to take the baton from you to keep the Indian flag flying high. Respect that.

Also, a small stat from the 5 Test matches that both Ashwin and Harbhajan played together.

Ashwin took 35 wickets (against Harbhajan’s 11).

Ashwin had an average of 21 (against Harbhajan’s 41).

Ashwin took 5 fifers and 2 10 Wicket hauls. Number of 5 and 10 wicket hauls that Harbhajan picked in the same matches – Well, Aryabhatta invented the number.

Srini’s All Time India Test XI

Ahead of India’s landmark 500th Test, an interesting Twitter conversation between my friends Bhaskar and Srikanth has triggered me to come up with this blog post.

Let’s see who all make it to my All Time India Test XI

Openers

Well, this is a no brainer. Sunil Gavaskar and Virender Sehwag own these positions. No second thought. Run machines in their own right, this pair can demoralize any frickin’ bowling attack in the World. With Sunny digging it out and Sehwag piercing the off side cordon to precision, it’d be a treat to watch for any Test cricket lover.

Positions 1 & 2

Positions 1 & 2

#3 & #4

#3 and #4

#3 and #4

Our 3 and 4 would also make it to All Time World Test XI. Do we have to look at stats? We all know them by heart.

#5 & #6

Now there are 4 contestants for these spots – V. Kohli, Azharuddin, Ganguly and VVS Laxman.

Not going by stats, Ganguly would make it to my playing XI for his captaincy skills and also being the sole left hander in the Top 6.

VVS misses out from the playing XI (tough call) to accommodate V. Kohli. The kind of consistency and class being showcased by Kohli, one just cannot remove him from the playing XI.

#7

MS Dhoni would be my Wicketkeeper of choice (ahead of Syed Kirmani and Engineer by miles) for showcasing longevity in the long format of the game and for the tactical help he can provide to Ganguly.

MS Dhoni

MS Dhoni

#8

Kapil Dev.

The batting All Rounder position which has been eluding India for years now.

Replacement for Kapil Dev: Error 404. Not Found.

Haryana Hurricane

Haryana Hurricane

#9

Early call, but R Ashwin makes it to my list. 6 Man of the Series awards in 36 Tests speaks volumes about his match winning skills. Can also chip in with the bat (especially if opposition is WI).

#10

Anil Kumble

#11

Zak.

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Ask Srini – Cricket Quiz #5 – IPL

Catch all the Cricket Quizzes at one go, here. 

How well do you know the Indian Premier League? Take this Quiz to know!

Sachin-Tendualkar-poses-trophy-MI-Win-IPL-2013

Today’s theme – IPL

15 questions. 15 hints. 15 answers.

Questions

  1. Out of all the hundreds scored in IPL, who scored the slowest hundred (complete innings)?
  2. What’s the highest score in an IPL final for a winning cause?
  3. Who has got out for duck the most number of times in IPL?
  4. Who has the most number of 50 plus scores in IPL?
  5. Who has the highest career strike rate in IPL?
  6. Who holds the record for the worst economy rate (Inns) currently?
  7. There have been a whopping 14 hat-tricks that have been taken in IPL. Who are the only 2 players to pick more than one hat-trick?
  8. Which legendary bowler ended an innings with bowling figures of 5 for 5?
  9. Who has the worst career economy rate in IPL?
  10. Who delivered this best all-round performance of scoring 83 off 38 and picking up 4 wickets in the same innings?
  11. Which two pairs of players have the most century stands in IPL?
  12. Who has won the most number of matches as Captain?
  13. Who is the only player to win the Purple Cap twice?
  14. Which team has won the most consecutive number of matches?
  15. Which team has lost the most consecutive number of matches?

 

 

 

 

 

Hints

  1. It was his only IPL hundred
  2. It was scored by someone who is now an established Test player
  3. Remember that famous streak where he got our for a duck 4 out of 5 matches? 🙂
  4. No. It’s not Virat Kohli. He doesn’t hold all the records, at least as of now 🙂
  5. Maxwell, Sehwag, Gayle, ABD, Pollard and Yusuf Pathan are 2,3,4,5,6 and 7 in the list
  6. One of the following legends – Dinda, Aaron, Ishant, Umesh, Piyush Chawla 🙂
  7. Both Indians
  8. Spin bowler
  9. He has scored a century at Lord’s
  10. Mallya loved it
  11. One player features in both the pairs
  12. No hint for this 🙂
  13. No hint.
  14. They won 10 matches on the trot
  15. No hint

 

 

 

 

 

Answers

  1. Sachin Tendulkar. S/r of 151.51
  2. Murali Vijay’s 95 against RCB in 2011
  3. Shared by Gautam Gambhir and Harbhajan Singh. 12 ducks each
  4. David Warner, with 32 fifties.
  5. Andre Russell. 173.41
  6. Ishant Sharma. gave 66 runs (at 16.5) playing for SRH against CSK in 2013

    download

    Beat that!

  7. Amit Mishra (3) and Yuvi (2)
  8. Anil Kumble, aginst RR in 2009
  9. Ajit Agarkar. 8.85

    444918-csk-nehra-vs-rcb-clb-700

    Agarkar, take this!

  10. Yuvi. In 2014, against `Rajasthan Royals
  11. Kohli-Gayle and Kohli-ABD. 7 frickin’ century stands each

    The-BOLD-Duo-696-x-427-blog

    Legends of the format. Legends of the Game!

  12. MS Dhoni. 82 wins. Second in the list id Gambhir with 60. Third is Gilchirist with 35. MSD you beauty!
  13. Dwayne “Champion” Bravo
  14. KKR. 2014-15
  15. PWI and DD. 11 matches.
Losses

Most consecutive losses in IPL. Look at the number of times PWI and DD feature in this list.

 

 

 

Ask Srini – Cricket Quiz #4 – Who am I?

Catch all the Cricket Quizzes at one go, here. 

Well, it’s Stats Saturday again. Time to test your knowledge on this beautiful game and enhance the same!

Let’s get into business.

10 questions, 10 hints, 10 answers!

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Who am I?

Questions

  1. “I have scored more than 8000 ODI runs, but I haven’t played a single innings that lasted for more than 100 balls.”
  2. “Grant Elliot and Luke Ronchi hold the record for the highest 6th wicket partnership in ODI history with 267*. We’re second in this list.”
  3. “I am the only player apart from Don Bradman to have scored 4 consecutive 2nd innings Test centuries.”
  4. “I have bowled more than 900 overs in ODI cricket but not bowled a single wide. I hold this World record”
  5. “I’ve played more than 100 ODIs. I’ve been the #1 bowler in ICC rankings several times. But I haven’t got a single Man of the Match Award in my ODI career”
  6. “I have scored centuries in both World Cup Semi Final and Final”
  7. “I have picked a hat-trick spread across 3 overs, in Tests”
  8. “I have grabbed my first wicket in my first over on debut across all three formats”
  9. “I’m a batsman by nature. But in my very first ball of my bowling career, I picked a wicket, that too Brian Lara’s.”
  10. “I’ve won 4 consecutive man of the match awards in ODIs”

 

 

 

 

 

Hints

  1. No hint
  2. Asians
  3. I love Kamran Akmal
  4. Commentator
  5. No hint
  6. No hint
  7. Known for my mush
  8. Asian
  9. I’m quick between the wickets
  10. Captain

Answers

  1. Shahid Afridi. 8064 ODI runs.
  2. MS Dhoni and Mahela Jayawardene. 218. Africa XI vs Asia XI in 2007 in Chennai
  3. Gautam Gambhir. He also holds the record for getting dismissed for ducks in 4 consecutive 2nd innings. Bizarre in dee.
  4. Michael Holding
  5. Saeej Ajmal
  6. Mahela Jayawardene
  7. Merv Hughes
  8. Shaminda Eranga (Sri Lanka)
  9. Inzamam Ul Huq
  10. Sourav Ganguly

Ask Srini – #EngvsSL

The English summer is on with Sri Lanka’s tour of England beginning today at Leed’s. Sri Lank have a good 45 days to spend in England, playing 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and 1 T20I.

With the series under way, let’s look at a few stats from Eng vs SL Test encounters from the past.

In a span of 34 years (1982-2016) , Eng and SL have faced each other 28 times in the Test format, with England leading with 10 wins. SL have won 8 and 10 games were drawn.

Star Player Jaya

Mahela Jayawardene seems to have a liking for English bowlers. He has amassed a record 2212 runs in 23 matches, at an average of 58.21.

8 out of his 34 Test hundreds have been against the English. The second best for Lanka is Sanga with 3 hundreds.

Jaya also holds the record for the joint Highest Score in England – Sri Lanka encounters, with an unbeaten 213. Sanath Jayasuriya too has scored 213.

What the duck!

Today, Compton and Root both got our for ducks. They are nowhere close to Ravi Bopara though. In 5 innings against the Island country, he has amassed a record 3 ducks. 60% strike rate! Waah!

Partnerships

Jaya and Sanga batting together have scored 965 runs, highest in Eng vs SL encounters. Highest single innings partnership is however between Jayawardene and Samaraweera. 262 runs.

Spinning out the opposition

Test Legend M. Muralitharan has picked up a record 112 wickets in Eng vs SL encounters. Guess how many wickets does #2 in the list have? 49. WPUJC Vaas.
Muralitharan also holds the record for BBI, with 9 for 65 and BBM, with 16 for 220. What a legend! Looks like the English were clueless when Murali was around.

 

That’s it from this edition of #AskSrini. Click here for more such posts on Cricket stats.

 

 

Ask Srini – Cricket Quiz #3 – World Cups

Catch all the Cricket Quizzes at one go, here. 

Today’s theme: 50 Over World Cups

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Dhoni with his baby!

5 Questions. 5 hints. 5 answers. Here goes!

Questions

  1. Who is the only international cricketer to have his career debut in a World Cup and make a century in the same match?
  2. Which South African bowler made his career debut in a World Cup match and walked away with figures of 4 for 41?
  3. Which is the only Team that has played more than 10 World Cup matches and not won a single match?
  4. Who holds the record for the best bowling figures in a World Cup for a losing cause?
  5. Who holds the record for the best bowling figures by a Captain in World Cups?

Hints

  1. His brother is a famous cricketer too
  2. He is known for the way he celebrates a wicket
  3. No hint
  4. Against Australia, in 2003 World Cup
  5. Asian

Answers

  1. Andy Flower. 1992. He made 115 on career debut
  2. Imran Tahir
download

Tahir celebrating a wicket!

3. Scotland

4. Shane Bond. 6 for 23

5. Shahid Afridi. 5 for 16

Ask Srini – Cricket Quiz #2: The Ashes

Catch all the Cricket Quizzes at one go, here. 

Today’s theme: The Ashes!

A replica Ashes urn is seen on the Gabba cricket ground in Brisbane

The Ashes Urn

5 Questions. 5 hints. 5 answers. Here goes!

  1. Who has taken the most wickets in all Ashes encounters combined?
  2. Which batsman holds the record for the highest individual score in an innings in the Ashes?
  3. Glenn McGrath, Ian Botham and Shane Warne all have one thing in common with respect to their batting stats in Ashes. What is it?
  4. Which bowler holds the record for the best bowling figures in an innings in the Ashes?
  5. Which player is second in the list of most Ashes 100s scored by an Aussie, after the Don himself?

 

 

 

 

Hints

  1. Marlon Samuels loves him
  2. It’s not Don Bradman
  3. Agarkar Agarkar Agarkar Agarkar Agarkar Agarkar Agarkar Agarkar Agarkar Agarkar
  4. We know him because of Anil Kumble
  5. No hint

 

 

 

 

 

Answers

  1. Shane Warne. 195 wickets
download

Shane Warned! 

2. Len Hutton. 364. Second highest is Sir Don Bradman. 334

3. 10 ducks. That’s what they have in common. 10 ducks in the Ashes.

4. Jim Laker. 10 for 53. Kumble became only the second player in Test History to pick 10 wickets in an innings, against Pakistan in Feroz Shah Kotla in Feb 1999

5. Steve Waugh

Ask Srini – Cricket Quiz #1 – ODI Batting

Do you know your Cricket well enough? Want to know a lot of interesting Cricket Trivia?

If your answer is yes, well, you’re at the right place.

This post hopefully marks the beginning of a series of posts on Cricket related Quizzes.

Let’s get into business right away.

Today’s theme is batsmen and ODIs.

Answers at the bottom of the post. Hints in between. 

Questions

1. Who is the unfortunate batsman who was given out for “Obstructing the field” while he was batting on 99?

2. Who is the batsman who has been “Run Out” most number of times in ODIs?

3. VVS Laxman has only 6 ODI hundreds, 4 of which came in a single calendar year. Which year was this?

4. Which batsman got out on 99 three times in ODIs?

5. Ricky Ponting has 20 ODI hundreds as Captain for a winning cause. Who is second in the list?

 

 

 

 

Hints

  1. We all love his commentary. #Sarcasm
  2. It’s not Inzamam. He is #3 in the list
  3. No hint
  4. No hint
  5. It’s not Ganguly

Answers

  1. Ramiz Raja
ramiz-raja

Ramiz Raja

 

2. Marvan Attapattu, with 41 dismissals. Rahul Dravid is #2 with 40. Inzy at #3 with 39.

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Marvan Attapattu

3. 2004. Out of his six ODI hundreds, 4 came against the Aussies, 1 each against Pakistan and Zimbabwe

4. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. All three dismissals happened in the same year – 2007. Jayasuriya got out on 99 twice. There are 39 other players who got out on 99 once each.

2

So close, yet so far!

5. Mr. 360, AB de Villiers, with 10 centuries as Captain for a winning cause

ab-de-villiers-record-ton

Mr. 360

Virat Kohli: The Chase Master – Some Numbers

In yesterday’s post (click here to read), we looked at what Virat Kohli has achieved in the 50 Over format in his 8.5 year old illustrious career, so far.

Today, let’s take a look at why he’s considered one of the best Chasers to have ever played the format.

The data we’re looking at is only for matches where the team batting second “successfully chased” down the target. In other words, it’s a reflection of match-winning acumen of batsmen or their contribution towards taking their side home while chasing.

Let’s start with Innings per Century. Kohli is a Captain’s dream when it comes to chasing. “It’s easier if you know what number you have to chase”, he remarks casually, as if it’s the easiest thing in the world, when asked about his chasing appetite.

He scores a century every 4.4 innings while he chases down targets. That’s ridiculously awesome isn’t it? Anwar was impressive too, with 6.6 innings per Century.

Innings per Century

Stats for successful run chases – Innings per Century

What does your Captain expect you to do while chasing? Convert those 50s into 100s. Our man tops that list too. He has a 48% conversion with 13 hundreds and 14 fifties in successful run chases. Ponting’s number was 22%, to put things in perspective.

50s to 100s conversion

Stats for successful run chases – 50s to 100s Conversion

While chasing, you’re expected to stay till the end and see your side through. Best way to measure that is Batting Average. Kohli is just behind MS Dhoni and Michael Bevan in that list, and averages 84, so far amassing 3275 runs while chasing down targets successfully. Dhoni stands tall at 105.77.

By Average

Stats for successful run chases – By Batting Average

Kohli is just 1 hundred behind the Little Master himself in terms of absolute hundreds scored in successful run chases. Mohammad Azharuddin has 1 hundred in successful run chases to his credit.

Absolute hundreds

Stats for successful run chases – Absolute 100s

More posts in this series coming up. Suggestions welcome.

Stats courtesy: Cricinfo

Virat Kohli – ODI Numbers in perspective

All sorts of comparisons have been done. Virat Kohli vs God of Cricket (Sachin Tendulkar), Virat Kohli vs AB de Villiers.

Virat Kohli has been deemed an “All Format Great” already by many. He is 27 years old. Few critics would still want to see his longevity and consistency in the longer format of the game before putting him in that league of “All Format Greats” which currently possibly has only one batsman. AB de Villiers. Tendulkar wasn’t a T20 Great mainly because the format gained prominence towards the twilight of his career.

Let’s put aside qualitative comparisons and for a moment,  look at what Kohli has achieved in the 50 Over format and put it in perspective to what other Greats of the game have achieved or ended up achieving.

The data set considered is the list of Top 50 ODI batsmen sorted by ODI hundreds and features most of the best names that played this format and mastered it (in Batting).

Let’s start with this metric “Innings per Century”. Kohli scores one ODI century every 6.5 innings. Isn’t that an insane number? Tendulkar took 9.2, Ponting took 12.2, Ganguly 13.6 and Sehwag a whopping 16.3. There are only two players in the World currently, who score hundreds at a faster pace than Kohli – Quinton de Kock (5.7) and Hashim Amla (5.8). I’m sure if we just look at the last 2 years data in isolation, Kohli’s rate would be less than 5 innings per Century. He’s been in that kind of form.

Innings per Century

Top Players – sorted by Innings per Century

Centuries per Year, another metric which is a reflection of the century scoring appetite, tells us the same story.

Kohli scores 3 ODI centuries every year. Sachin used to score 2, Sehwag 1.

Centuries per Year

Top Players – sorted by “Centuries per Year”

Let’s move on to Batting Averages. While looking at these numbers, I realize how frickin’ awesome a career AB de Villiers too has had. He averages close to 55 and strikes at 100+ and has 24 hundreds. He doesn’t even open the innings for his side. A dedicated ABD post coming up later. Let’s stick to our man, Virat Kohli for now.

He is the only Indian who averages above 50 apart from the legendary MS Dhoni (who has 67 not outs to his credit). Viv Rishards averaged 47, Hayden 44, Dravid 39.

By Average

Top players- sorted by Average

Let’s now look at a really interesting view. Numbers stacked up by all players in the duration Kohli has played the game – 2008 till date. Some really interesting observations from the table below.

Top 2 ODI run getters in the last 8 years are Sri Lankans mainly because they’ve played more ODI Cricket than any other country. Sanga and Dilshan have scored 7.5k+ runs each at averages of 48 and 44, which is commendable. de Villiers averages 63.4 in this duration, which means his initial few years in ODI cricket were pretty ordinary, to his standards.

Kohli has scored more hundreds than anyone, in the last 8.5 years. Dhoni averages a staggering 56 in the same duration, a testimony to the fact that he’s been the go to man for India when it comes to ODIs.

ODI numbers for duration Jan 2008 till date

ODI numbers for the duration Jan 1, 2008 till date

Let’s move on to absolute centuries scored. God stands tall, right up there with 49. It’s a matter of 30-35 innings before Kohli goes to number 2 in the list with 31 hundreds. The question remains. Will he surpass Sachin Tendulkar to end his career with 50+ ODI hundreds? My hunch says he will surpass Sachin before he turns 34. And if at all that happens, we all know who the happiest man on earth will be.

“I’ll be happy if an Indian breaks my records”.

By hundreds

Top Players – sorted by Hundreds

Next post in the series – Virat Kohli, the Chase Master. Read it here.

More posts in this series coming up. Suggestions welcome.

 

 

Barely “Rising” Pune

Yes, I am one of those 70 million CSK loyalists who were left with no choice but to support Rising Pune Supergiants and/or Gujarat Lions this season of the Indian Premier League, and next, after CSK got expelled from the League for 2 full seasons. Even though Gujarat got a major chunk of the CSK core including Raina, Jaddu, BMac, Dwayne Smith, Dwayne Bravo and the likes, I chose to support Pune because of one man. You Know Who!

It’s not a normal bond that we shared; me and Chennai. It started way back in late 2007 when I heard Kris Srikanth’s voice in a Tamil FM channel. He talked about this new T20 league and about how there was going to be a team from Chennai participating in the same. I was in Class XII. Used to listen to FM a lot those days. Srikanth was endorsing a contest that the Radio channel conducted to nominate a name for the Chennai side.

Even back then, I was already a full time Dhoni veriyan. I was elated when the announcement came that Dhoni was the Star Player for the Chennai side and that he would be leading the side at least for the first 3 seasons. My favourite player playing for my favourite city.

People have asked me this question. “What if Dhoni was picked by some other side? Would you have stilled supported Chennai or the side Dhoni led?”. Glad this never happened. Because it’s a tough question. Perhaps, I’d have still rooted for Dhoni’s side.

The memories Dhoni and Chennai Super Kings have given us over the last 8 seasons will be cherished for a lifetime. Who knows what’s going to happen in 2018, when Chennai is back?! It’s not guaranteed Dhoni is going to play for Chennai in 2018. He would love to, I know. But who knows what’s in store?!

There was this interview Dhoni had given before the beginning of IPL 9. There was this question asked about how he felt playing for a team other than Chennai Super Kings. His reply gave goosebumps to every single CSK loyalist. His own eyes were damp. Such was the bond he shared with the side. Who would not, after leading a side in style for 8 straight years?

There’s not a single, I repeat, not a single IPL side that has had exactly one Captain across all 8 seasons, apart from Chennai. I still get goosebumps while watching some of CSK’s best IPL moments. Haydos-Vijay opening stands, Dhoni mania at Dharamshala, Bravo-Pollard flight moment, Albie’s 28 against Virat Kohli’s bowling, Ash and Murali bowling in tandem, that off side field with BMac, Faf, Raina, Jaddu. There’s a lot more. Aah, how we miss that Chennai side!

You might be wondering what does the blog title have to do with the content it’s got. Well, it’s been more than 100 days since I last published a post. I need some time to warm up 🙂

It’s okay Barely Rising Pune Supergiants. Next season is ours!

 

India (11) – Pakistan (0)

With so much cricket being played these days in all three formats, cricket lovers are finding it difficult to recollect memories even from matches which happened in the recent past. For example, I find it hard to recollect top battles in the recently concluded Asia Cup. All I remember is the Kohli-Amir battle and Dhoni’s 20* off 6.

Because these are mere cricket matches, where two teams come out to exhibit their talents and end on the winning side. Certain matches however, rise above the game of cricket into something else. Needless to say, India vs Pakistan encounters rank right up there in the list, may be closely followed by the Ashes (I remember certain Aus cricketers returning early from a World Cup to prepare for the Ashes).

The build-up to yesterday’s encounter between India and Pakistan was no less than any match they had previously played against. May be lesser than the Ind vs Pakistan Semi Final in the 2011 50 Over World Cup; because of the things at stake (a berth in the Final).

To add on to the build up, India had lost to New Zealand in a rank turner just a few days ago, making yesterday’s game against Pakistan a must win to stay alive in this World Cup, hosted by us.

The rest is history.

As we speak, Dhoni and team would already be strategising on their upcoming games against Bangladesh and Australia to book their Semi Final berth. They are professionals. We are fans. I’d like to register my best moments and thoughts from yesterday’s encounter.

Multiple goosebumps moments even before the first ball was bowled. First, “God” coming on stage and speaking a few words; next, listening to our National Anthem in Big B’s baritone. Hair-raising stuff! Didn’t know Amitabh ji could sing so well (with “Gamakams” and all).

Apart from the rare partnership between Damaad ji Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal, Pakistan weren’t really on top of the game, at any point of time during the first innings. The Indian supporters felt the pressure merely because this happened on the backdrop of a disaster run chase against a lesser bowling side (on paper) on a similar pitch, 4 days ago.

119 was not tough, but a tricky target on a pitch where where ball was turning by more than 90 degree, against a team renowned for their world class bowlers. Flat track bullies might find it tough to get a start, but India’s batting powerhouse was more than commensurate to pull off this run chase.

Rohit I thought was under the pressure created by his own words on the “ordinary bowler” Mohammad Amir, and succumbed sooner rather than later, on his favourite hunting ground where he has historically been scoring runs for fun.

Dhawan never really looked settled in his short but troubled stay in the middle. Raina (unfortunately) followed suit immediately. Mohammad Sami who was expected to bowl 23 no balls, 43 wides and 13 byes turned out to be India’s nightmare,. uprooting Dhawan  and Raina in back to back deliveries.

India, suddenly were put on a back foot. 7.5 RPO required, 3 wickets down and Pak bowlers on top form in favourable conditions. Mortals are bound to succumb to these conditions; Champions thrive under pressure. 70k capacity crowd at the Eden Gardens, silenced, required run rate mounting in a must win game, Kohli entered the middle.

As my friend Dadak remarked on Twitter, “Kohli bats with very cool head. His face is angry. His heart pumping but his head is cool. As cool as Dhoni”. I couldn’t have agreed more. Some fans (including Twitter King Bhaskar NH) had already given up on our prospects of winning the match. But with most of us aware of Virat Kohli’s extended purple patch in all forms of the game, we knew that as long as he was just there in the middle, India was there in the game.

Even though the dependency on Kohli is not as much today (we have some other classy match winners too currently), as was the case with Sachin in the 90s, it is at least there to an extent for us to draw a parallel. And boy, didn’t he deliver, exactly when it was required?! Not for the first time, definitely not for the last.

It looked as if Kohli was batting on Wankhede and the others on the Eden turf. Those scorching cover drives where the ball travelled all along the ground at the speed of Japanese super fast trains, were hair-raising stuff. And when Kohli did a bow to God after reaching his 50 and Sachin waved back with a brimming smile, our day was made, and our eyes wet. We Indians are emotional fellows. Like Harsha Bhogle remarked, Virat Kohli has targets for dinner.

At times, we forget to acknowledge crucial contributions by second fiddles; Gambhir on Apr 2, 2011; Yuvraj yesterday. The fact that he stayed there to wither the storm proved vital in the end. Not to forget Ravi Ash’s 3 over spell. The Pak batsmen were as clueless as I was during my Digital Signal Processing Viva test back in college.

Overall Head to Head in limited over cricket, we might still be behind Pakistan, but 11-0 in World Cups is a record we can all be proud of. Good luck for the next time we meet, Mauka man.

 

 

 

 

A Very Very Special Follower

It’s been a while since I live-tweeted during a cricket match, before today’s 5th and final ODI between India and Australia at Sydney.

Today, I was set in my couch, TV remote in one hand and mobile phone with Twitter open in the other. It’s on days like these that my Twitter followers (~500) regret following me the most (My Twitter handle – @snitinsrinivas). I wouldn’t miss the smallest of opportunities to conjure a tweet and expose it to the World, thinking in my mind that it’s going to reach out to millions of like-minded people on that awesome platform.

Now we all know what a great batsman VVS Laxman is. We’ve all awed at how sweetly he caresses wood over leather to produce some beauties. Cricket commentary however is a new domain for him he’s yet to conquer. He’s still learning with time.

Today, during the nail-biting run chase when Dhoni was increasing the average pulse rate of the nation well above average (which he usually does), Harsha Bhogle was in the commentary box with our man, VVS, when I tweeted this.

“When Harsha Bhogle speaks, words flow like a river. Wish I could say the same about VVS Laxman.”

And guess what happened after a few hours?

THIS.

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VVS Laxman followed me on Twitter. And as if this was not enough, he also sent me a direct message.

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I was lost for words (much like VVS in the commentary box)!

Just typed “Sure, thanks a lot VVS!”

For all you know, he might unfollow me tomorrow (or someday in the near future), but that doesn’t matter.

I have enough proof to tell my grandchildren with a puffed chest, “VVS Laxman follows only 262 people on this planet, and I am one of them”