Saturday, November 6, 2010

First round of Ranji Trophy matches - A summary

Posted by Balajhi Narayanasami

The first round of Ranji trophy got over a day before and in 13 matches that were played only 3 resulted in a result. Tamil Nadu defeated Assam in the super league while Rajasthan and Jharkhand playing in the Plate league won their games against Hyderabad and Tripura respectively. Only one team in the Super league registered a victory and that is TN against a weak opponent, Assam. Mumbai, Bengal and Gujarat settled for first innings lead points in the super league. Not a great start to the premier domestic competition, though the first session of the competition promised much with about 47 wickets falling across 13 matches. Deepak Chahar packed Hyderabad for the lowest total in Ranji in that session. Incidentally Hyderabad also holds the record for the highest Ranji score (900 odd). Nice pair to have ;).

What does this season promise? More draws? I think so, if the first round is any indication. I am disappointed with Mumbai's refusal to try for a outright win when they could have enforced follow-on against Saurashtra with 204 runs lead and 60+ overs more to bowl. Jaffer may not have seen any on the pitch but then nothing wrong in trying on a last day (4th day) pitch. Instead he chose for some batting practice and notched up his second hundred of the match. It represents the mindset of many Ranji captains or rather team management. But not Gujarat though. They pressed for a victory and asked Railways to follow-on with a lead of  158 runs (150 is the lead required for enforcing the follow-on). Teams seem happy with first innings lead points rather than pressing for a win unless it is crucial for survival. May be pitches should improve and become more result oriented. Given the fact that these are 4 day matches, may be heavy roller should be abandoned for Ranji matches. But whatever aid they may be for results, approach of teams have to change. They should go all out for a win.

On the individual performances front, Jaffer has begun the season on a good note (hundreds in each innings of the first match). Surely few double and even a triple are waiting down the line. He is such a phenomenal scorer in Ranji that it is a shame that he failed to command a place in the Indian test side. Another interest is the return of ICL rebels. Sriram (who played for TN prior to joining ICL) scored a century for Assam against TN in a losing cause, while Rayudu scored a double hundred that helped his team avoid defeat against Orissa and win a point. Hemang Badani scored a useful 65 for Haryana against Himachal Pradesh. In total there were 16 centuries from 15 batsmen in the first round in both leagues.

On the bowling front, Deepak Chahar hogged the limelight with his 8 for 10 in ten overs that bundled out Hyderabad for 21. He followed it up with a 4 fer in the second innings. Though it is in plate league, Hyderabad is a decent opposition that got relegated to Plate league last year. It's the team that VVS plays for in Ranji. I would have loved see Chahar against Laxman. In the super league B.Mohanty (Orissa), Budhwer (Haryana) and Praveen Kumar (UP) took a 5 fers. They all along with L.Balaji lead the table with 6 wickets each.

Karnataka, last season's runner up, will be opening their campaign only in the second round of matches starting on  Nov 10. Last season Dravid played, led and scored in most of the matches for them. It will be interesting to see how they fare without him. Uthappa, Mithun and Vinay will be tracked by cricket followers. Won't mind if there is another Chahar out there somewhere.

Chahar's performance is something to look at. This lad has enormous swing (both ways) and a decent pace. His stock has already gone up with reports of IPL teams lining up for him with cheques in hand. Nothing could be disastrous than that for the young talent. I just hope and wish he keeps his focus firmly on longer versions of the game and plays it hard for one or two seasons. If he does that everything,  not the least money and fame, will come to him. More than money, the pressure of T20 that too in IPL could spoil his bowling. Many may not agree but T20 did a huge damage to Ishant's bowling.

Not sure how this post has come out. This is a hastily written up post. I will work out a framework for covering Ranji matches from next round onwards. Hoping for lot of fireworks and more results in the next round. By the way, just in case you want to about teams I support , it is Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Delhi, in that order. The team that I like to see lose is Mumbai. Nothing personal just that they are the Australia (not the current one ;)) of Indian domestic competition. They have been too good for decades now and hence have upset the underdog supporter in me. They may win yet another Ranji this season, but then I am hoping against it.

Super League Points table
Super league Most Runs list;type=tournament
Super League Most Wickets list;type=tournament

Plate League Points table
Plate league Most Runs list;type=tournament
Plate league Most wickets list;type=tournament


Monday, November 1, 2010

Deepak Chahar

Posted by Soulberry

The clips one saw of Deepak Lokendersingh Chahar were at a diffrent frames per second than the regular 30fps, so it looked like an old Films Division documentary - jerky. Hence it was difficult to make out at what pace he was bowling.

Going by comparison with Pankaj Singh's clips, it appears Chahar was at the same pace or sometimes lesser.

For a moment let us forget issues of Hyderabad's talent and ability - they certainly have enough of it worth more than 21 runs collectively - and let us ignore the possibility of the violent Telangana separatist movement triggered off in Andhra by motivated politicians being reflected in team morale (when you are playing for a team, you bloody well play for it), and focus only n the great display of swing bowling by Chahar.

The 18 year old is tall and broad shouldered - like Pankaj Singh is. Has a comfortable run up and an easy action. Chahar's pace, as pointed out earlier, was difficult to judge, but was matching Singh's. Also, like Singh, he too uprooted the stumps and sent them on a stroll couple of occasions.

What was striking was his ability to move the ball both the air...and not just off the pitch. The ball was wobbling today at Jaipur and dancing to Chahar's tune. Contrastingly, Pankaj Singh's deliveries did not have as much swing in the air.

The lad's wrist position was perfect and behind the ball's seam - straight.

Conclusion - If we have a bowler, who can swing the ball in the air both ways in early Indian winter...that too in Jaipur (Jaipur is cold in the first session till the sun's up at this time of the year) if he were bowling in overcast England at the start of their season, then pick him up for close monitoring, nurturing and development. This lad now needs to show us hunger for the long haul.

He has been prolific in age group cricket and has only now just begun FC and List A.

Rest of the proceedings and scorecard from Cricinfo


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shreevats Goswami bats the season in stylishly

Posted by Soulberry

Ranji Trophy 2010-11: Match 01: Elite Group A: Bengal vs Delhi at Ferozeshah Kotla, Delhi

The first session of this season's Ranji Trophy season is about to draw to a close. It is a good time then, for us to blog about it.

On a cool, heavy morning with a hint of fog above the ground, one would have expected Delhi's three seamers - Pradeep Sangwan, Sumit Narwal and Parvinder Awana to poe serious problem to their counterparts from warmer climes, Bengal. Barring an Arindam Das edge that fell short of Virat Kohli at second slip off Awana, there was nothing from the Delhi bowlers to challenge Das nd Goswami.

Shreevats Goswami, keeper and exciting southpaw batsman, who opens for Bengal is in fine form at the start of the season. It reveals purpose. And why not, when a few of his mates from the U-19 Word Cup winnng team of 2007-08 have already built some kind of reputation for themselves? Goswami partnered the likes of Kohli, SS Tiwary, Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, Sangwan, Iqbal Abdulla and Tanmay Srivastava in winning that cup. Now, playing for Bengal as opener, he brings with him his trademark stylish play wich looks cavalier but is rather well caculated and organized acually.

When Goswami was timing those cover drives today morning, front foot pointing to the direction and elbow high andin line with te follow-through, he was a piture of satisfying elegance on the cricket field. But he began today with a superbly played cut - uppercut as it is called these days - over th square boundary fr a four. And when the bowlers erred, he whipped them off his toes as if flicking a lazy straggler back into the herd. All about wristwork.

A contemporary cricket fan and poet, Arthur Salway, wrote in a poem entitled A turn of the wrist

Soccer is won with cultured feet
And rugger with grit and grist;
But when cricket is played the difference is made
By a delicate turn of the wrist.

When the bowlers tried to bounce him, Shreevats was found in perfect position, poised for executing the arrogance with a clean hook, or pull of his bat. Mithun Minhas brought in Chetanya Nanda, his leggie, to effect some control, but to no avail. Goswami drove him through the covers off the front and back foot with strokes of sheer elegance, timing and knowledge of having read the ball right and with time to spare. He is batting now at 54* and his team, an ominous 106-0 in the first session of the first day! As if to show his range Goswami has aken h front foot forward to the overpitched ball and driven on either side of the bowler's wicket, in a manner that would gladden Sunil Gavaskar and other ollowers of the game

Goswami made it worthwhile for us to watch th game today.

Arindam Das, initially played the foil but soon opened up with some cultured strokes of his own. And there were also a couple of well-played pulls off the backfoot, just to let the bowlers know where they stood.

The pitch is brown and early life appears to e evaporating. I wonder which of the two captains is aledy smiling - I suspct it is Bengal's new skipper, Manoj Tiwary, for he is witnessing a grand start to the season for his team.

By he way, both Manhas and Tiwary belong to India's youthful bench strength.

Just getting to the point of Lunch

Bengal: 112-0 (3.75 rpo)

Shreevats Goswami: 60*
Arindam Das: 42*


India Domestic Cricket 2010-11 : Fixtures

Posted by Soulberry

Cricket Nirvana has the schedules up for the 2010-11 season.

Rather lengthy and must have been tedious too. We congratulate them and omit repetition by linking to their Fixture page.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Makarand Waingankar Scores A Bullseye

Posted by Soulberry

In today's The Hindu, Makarand Waingankar pleads the case for serious Ranji Trophy action. We have also done so on TCWJ often with mixed results. One of the reasons we began this blog was to record Ranji and other domestic games. Unfortunately we couldn't quite grab all the matches or keep up. But our promise is to recommence this blog and keep it going.

Waingankar places startling facts before us

In 22 years of first class cricket Sachin Tendulkar has played only 33 Ranji Trophy matches. In 10 years Rahul Dravid has played 100 Tests, but he has played only 10 Ranji Trophy matches. From the year 2000 to 2004 he didn't play a single Ranji Trophy match and in 2005 he played only one Ranji Trophy match. But he is not known to avoid any Ranji Trophy matches.

There's more; in 18 years of his first class career Anil Kumble has never bowled to Tendulkar in a Ranji Trophy match and Javagal Srinath in 16 years bowled to Tendulkar only in the India nets.

In 12 long years of first class career Harbhajan Singh didn't play Ranji Trophy for seven years!

So India's best bowlers — Kumble, Srinath and Harbhajan — hasn't bowled to the top batsman Sachin Tendulkar in the national championship.

and then asks

How do we then expect the standard of Indian cricket to improve?

Cynics may point to India's position at the top of the table to decry the need for Ranji and any domestic cricket at all for the cream players. They might also drop in various excuses such as crowded schedules and IPL and the like,, to argue against Ranji participation.

One of the reasons I have consistently spoken for a concise IPL as against expansion of it is precisely this. The reality is that IPL must be incorporated into the scenario. But intelligently and wisely. Otherwise, all cricket suffers.

The reason many of our young 'Stars' stutter so often is because they lack strong foundations in different aspects of the game - from skills to concentration to courage deriving from having done difficult deeds before.

It is in this regard that I rate Cheteshwar Pujara highly. He is the most completely developed young player in a very long time to emerge out of India and he hasn't played for India seniors yet! Maybe good for him after all but hopefully he isn't allowed to decay.

Coming back to Makarand Waingankar, he advocates the

Australian system

We should analyse the Australian system. In 2004, when Glenn McGrath declared himself fit and available for the national team, he was politely told by the selectors to play club and State cricket to prove match fitness.

It's perfectly understandable for a top player to give Ranji Trophy a miss during the season but some players have very conveniently avoided playing domestic tournaments citing fitness or personal problems very frequently.

The Australian System per se has been debated - suggestions that the chance existence of high quality allowed the philosophies to develop and take credit instead have been put forth - but there is nothing deniable about the importance of the best players mingling with the learners. Not only does that improve the standard of cricket from the learners, it also teaches the senior players about overcoming things they may be struggling with international cricket. Yuvraj is a case in point.

Waingankar elaborates,

In the season of 1979-80 India played 13 Tests — six against Australia followed by six against Pakistan — in India during the winter and one Golden Jubilee Test against England but the Indian players also played Ranji Trophy matches in between Test matches.

Some international players avoid playing for their companies. One of the fast bowlers of the Indian team hasn't turned up to play for his employers since the time he joined them. And hardly anyone plays club cricket.

Sunil Gavaskar, after a gruelling England tour of 1979, was in the maidan tent an hour before the start of the play in the monsoon tournament (Kanga League) in Mumbai. The former Mumbai opener Sudhakar Adhikari tied the nuptial knot at nine in the morning, and rushed to play the Ranji Trophy. He scored a century and returned to the wedding hall in the evening for his reception.

When international players take part in domestic cricket, youngsters get to learn.

Teenager Dilip Vengsarkar learned more about batting watching Gavaskar from the other end for Dadar Union than listening to a dozen coaches. Former India opener Madhav Apte, who toured the West Indies in 1953, played ‘A' division tournaments for 55 years until the age of 71, facing Mumbai Ranji Trophy bowlers without a helmet.

The solution is simple. Like Australian cricket, make playing domestic cricket mandatory irrespective of the stature of a player. Sadly the stalwarts seem to have forgotten that when they were teenagers they benefited immensely by playing with cricketing icons.

The juniors in the Indian team are struggling because they haven't played with the seniors in club or State cricket.

I agree with plenty of that. I myself have opined along those lines. There is the argument of IPL crowding out domestic cricket, but if it is, then steps must be taken that IPL doesn't push out all domestic cricket. IPL must not be the Koel which pushes the pigeons eggs out of the nest, but can be a beautiful songbird in a chorus of others varieties.

I agree with plenty of that. I myself have opined along those lines. There is the argument of IPL crowding out domestic cricket, but if it is, then steps must be taken that IPL doesn't push out all domestic cricket. IPL must not be the Koel which pushes the pigeons eggs out of the nest, but can be a beautiful songbird in a chorus of others varieties.

Having seen the better days of Ranji and participated in its viewing as one of a crowd, I understand the nurturing role Ranji Trophy played to foster essential cricket in India.

Let us make Ranji THE selectorial point for Tests. It doesn't have to be how many T20s you have played or how many ODIs you have played. Rare exceptions may find their way via these routes, but that should not be the norm. It is in the overall benefit of the player and the game of cricket in India to have a sound, well-rounded game honed in a testing, competitive Ranji environment. Also, grounds and pitches must be such that they foster good cricket and allow expression and polishing of all skills - batting, bowling and fielding -while employing them in a fiercely contested match.

Domestic cricket would help develop the temperament required for all situations in international cricket. Of course, when basic material of quality is present, international cricket further hones it. But 95% of the temparement is already seeded-in in the distance between cradle at home and the outer lip of domestic cricket.

Imagine the sad irony if Rohit Sharma plays ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara in Tests!

Rohit may eventually play and play well, but anybody can see he is learning basic stuff on the job and struggling to do so. Something which a dedicated couple of seasons could have helped develop more usefully and less damagingly. But paisa and limelight are strident mistresses...

In a previous posts here, for example in Karsan Ghavri, we have also sought to recall and bring forward the excitement of Ranji matchplay and the benefit accrued by all from them. One recognizes times have changed - one has always been an advocate of allowing necessary hanges to happen which accommodate the needs of time - and therefore structures must change too. I agree, as long as they are beautifully balanced and encourage complete,overall development and also provide maximum opportunities for a satisfactory career in cricket.



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