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India Vs England Series Review T20I & ODI 2021: India’s Young Brigade Strikes Once Again

India Vs England Series Review. The most anticipated limited overs series of the year—#1 England vs #2 India.

Did the series live up to the hype? Not quite. Except the Sam Curran game, none of the games went down to the wire, but there were plenty of talking points regardless:

  • 40 is the new 50 feat Jason Roy
  • Debutants Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Liam Livingstone, & Prasidh Krishna storm the international arena
  • Shardul Thakur is the new Liam Plunkett
  • The power game of Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, & Ben Stokes is second to none
  • Umpiring – Nitin Menon’s brilliance & soft signals’ ignorance

Here are the series stats, video highlights, winners & losers, and emerging players. Read till the end for World T20I Squad Predictions and some Dinesh Karthik content.

Also Read: India Vs England Test Series Review

Stats, Scorecards & Video Highlights – India Vs England

T20I Series: India Win 3-2

  1. England won by 8 wickets *Jofra Archer
  2. India won by 7 wickets *Ishan Kishan
  3. England won by 8 wickets *Jos Buttler
  4. India won by 8 runs *Suryakumar Yadav
  5. India won by 36 runs *Bhuvneshwar Kumar

* Player of Match

T20I Series Stats

Player of SeriesIndia
Virat Kohli
England
Most RunsVirat Kohli – 231 runs
(best of 80*, 50s -3, 147.13 SR)
Jos Buttler – 172 runs
(best of 83*, 50s -2, 147.00 SR)
Most WicketsShardul Thakur – 8 wickets
(best of 3/42, 9.69 economy)
Jofra Archer – 7 wickets
(best of 4/33, 7.75 economy)
India Vs England Series 2021 – T20I Stats

ODI Series: India Win 2-1

  1. India won by 66 runs *Shikhar Dhawan
  2. England won by 6 wickets *Jonny Bairstow
  3. India won by 7 runs *Sam Curran

* Player of Match

ODI Series Stats

Player of SeriesIndiaEngland
Jonny Bairstow
Most RunsKL Rahul – 177 runs
(best of 108, 100-1, 50-1, 88.50 average, 101.14 SR)
Jonny Bairstow – 219 runs
(best of 124, 100-1, 50s-1, 73.00 average, 120.32 SR)
Most WicketsShardul Thakur – 7 wickets
(best of 4/67, 22.57 average, 6.72 economy)
Mark Wood – 5 wickets
(best of 3/34, 21.80 average, 6.41 economy)
India Vs England Series 2021 – ODI Stats

The Highlights

India

  • The highest wicket-taker across both the ODIs & T20Is from both sides, Shardul Thakur has been a revelation over the last few months. After his match-winning contribution at the Gabba, he has contributed in almost every match, either as a power hitter down the order or with important wickets. Only fitting that Ajit Agarkar (with 288 wickets on his name) was on-commentary during some of Thakur’s spells.
  • India’s young brigade—Ishan Kishan began with a solid 56, Suryakumar Yadav 57 (with one-legged six for first shot), and Krunal Pandya scored India’s fastest debutant 50. The lanky Prasidh Krishna was my pick of the lot. Expensive in his first spells but came back with figures of 4/54 & 2/58. Great spirit! Add Shreyas Iyer’s stable performances, Shikhar Dhawan’s return to form in the ODIs, & Virat Kohli’s consistency, this Indian line up looks really solid. Even without Kohli’s elusive 71st ton.
  • The old Bhuvneshwar Kumar is back. Bhuvi’s economy of 4.65 in a high scoring series & KL Rahul’s 62* & 108 in the ODIs (after 0,0,1, 14 in the T20Is) hold well for India. Maybe KL in the middle order is the way to go with Kohli-Rohit opening in the T20Is.
  • Middle overs bowling is a concern for India. Since the break of Kuldeep-Chahal, neither have been convincing. Time for Kuldeep to go back to first class cricket or a county cricket stint. R Ashwin limited overs comeback?

Also Read: Top 75 Players in India, India’s Depth: A Blessing or a Curse?

England

  • Jonny Bairstow & Jason Roy were the reason behind England’s rise & 2019 WC victory, but both had questions over the place over the last few months.
    • Bairstow, the Test batsman, had scores of 0,0, 28 & 0.
    • Bairstow, the limited overs batsman, is something else. First full over – 2 sixes to Chahal. Regained confidence in the T20I and came to the fore in the ODIs with 94 & 124. Except for the ill-timed shot in the first ODI, good signs for England
    • Roy’s the new Root: 49, 46, 9, 40, 0, 46, 55, & 14. After a poor 2020, finally good to have the old Roy back, but needs to convert more often.
  • Mark Wood was my player of the series based on his commitment. The highest wicket taker for England in the ODIs, he bowled his heart out. In the last ODI, he was visibly under the weather but kept bowling at 141+ kph. To add the cherry to the cake, he stayed in the game in that 60 (61) partnership with Sam Curran.
  • Let us talk about the player who was not here (and no, I am not talking about Alex Hales, whose window for return may have opened). Liam Plunkett has been sorely missed since he was dumped post World Cup victory. Tom Curran & Chris Jordan have been expensive across both the formats, and Adil Rashid has only been successful in his new Powerplay position. England can definitely chase 350+, but without Plunkett, they are consistently giving away that many runs.

Also Read: Top 50 Players in England, Why the World Needs Sam Curran?

Squad Predictions – World T20 World Cup

Here is my World T20 XI for India as of now:

India Squad

  1. Virat Kohli*, 2. Rohit Sharma/Ishan Kishan, 3. Suryakumar Yadav/Shreyas Iyer, 4. KL Rahul, 5. Rishabh Pant (WK), 6. Hardik Pandya, 7. Ravindra Jadeja, 8. Washington Sundar, 9. Shardul Thakur, 10. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11. Jasprit Bumrah/ T Natarajan

Squad: 12. Rahul Chahar/ Yuzvendra Chahal, 13. Shreyas Iyer, 14. Mohammad Shami, 15. Deepak Chahar, 16. Krunal Pandya/ Axar Patel

Wildcards: Navdeep Saini/Mohammad Siraj/ Prasidh Krishna, Sanju Samson, Rahul Tewatia/ Varun Chakravarthy, Manish Pandey/Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Karthik

England Squad

  1. Jason Roy, 2. Jos Buttler (WK), 3. Dawid Malan, 4. Jonny Bairstow, 5. Eoin Morgan*, 6. Ben Stokes, 7. Sam Curran, 8. Moeen Ali, 9. Jofra Archer, 10. Adil Rashid, 11. Mark Wood

Squad: 12. Sam Billings, 13. Liam Livingstone, 14. Tom Curran/Chris Jordan/Saqib Mahmood/Reece Topley, 15. Joe Root/Joe Denly

Wildcards: Chris Woakes, Alex Hales, Tom Banton, James Vince, Liam Dawson, Matt Parkinson, Lewis Gregory, Liam Plunkett

Moments of the Series

  • Sam Curran‘s 95* in the final game was the highlight of the series. The make things happen guy had not done much of note for the entire series, but showed his worth in the final ODI dismissing the dangerous Rishabh Pant and displaying his finishing game.

Oh and by the way, my tweet right before the Pant wicket. All he needed was this tweet. You’re welcome Sam Curran fans.

The Awards: Emerging Players & Surprise Package

  • People’s Choice Award: Dinesh Karthik’s analysis & shirts on Sky Sports
  • The Umpiring Award: Nitin Menon’s umpiring received wide social media praise.
  • The Umpiring Anti-Award: Soft-signal (we know it is bad when this rule is dropped from the IPL). This rule received strong criticism after Suryakumar Yadav’s catch by Dawid Malan was deemed out on soft signal (although camera angles were inconclusive).
India England
Emerging PlayersKohli-Rohit T20I opening

Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Prasidh Krishna
Liam Livingstone
Surprise Package‘Intent’Sam Curran, the finisher
Broken Cricket DreamShreyas Iyer, Kuldeep YadavEoin Morgan (injured), Tom Curran & Chris Jordan’s economy rate
India Vs England Series 2021 – Awards

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Where Do They Go From Here?

The two of the most anticipated major tournaments of recent times coming up—and no, I am not talking about the 2020 & 2021 Men’s World T20 World Cup.

I am talking about IPL 2021 & The Hundred. Jofra Archer will miss the IPL to have surgery & recover from injury on his right hand.

New Zealand tour England for two Tests in June followed by India Vs New Zealand for the World Test Championship final. Oh and if you did not have enough of watching these two teams, India tour England for 5 Tests in August-September.

Copyright (2021: 3/29/2021)– @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – bcd@brokokencricketdreams.com

Image Courtesy: Virat KohliNAPARAZZI, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Afghanistan Vs Zimbabwe 2021 Series Review: Sean Williams, Rashid Khan Come To the Party

Afghanistan Vs Zimbabwe Series Review.

Some series are more hyped than others. That is the way of life. Amidst the India Vs England ‘marquee’ series, there was a much better spectacle of cricket in the UAE.

This series had everything—an overseas Test victory for Zimbabwe, first Test double century for Afghanistan by Hasmatullah Shahidi, Sean Williams’ 2 tons, follow-on fightback from Williams-Tiripano, Zimbabwe’s Blessing (Muzarabani), Rashid Khan’s toil of the century, and other heroes in Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Asghar Afghan, Ryan Burl, Ibrahim Zadran, Amir Hamza, and lot more.

Here is my series review—Results, video highlights stats, major moments, T20I World Cup squad predictions, awards, and much more!

Also Read: Ireland Vs Afghanistan Series Review

Results, Scorecards, & Video Highlights – Afghanistan Vs Zimbabwe

Test Series:

  1. Zimbabwe won by 10 wickets*Sean Williams
  2. Afghanistan won by 6 wickets*Hashmatullah Shahidi

* Player of Match

Series Stats

Player of SeriesAfghanistanZimbabwe
Sean Williams
Most Runs Hashmatullah Shahidi – 215 runs
(best of 200*, 100s – 1, average 107.50)
Sean Williams – 264 runs
(best of 151*, 100s – 2, average 132.00)
Most WicketsRashid Khan – 11 wickets
(best inn – 7/137, best match – 11/275, 99.2 overs bowled, average 25.00)
Blessing Muzarabani – 8 wickets
(best inn – 4/48, best match 6/62, 55.1 overs bowled, average 18.62)
Afghanistan Vs Zimbabwe 2021 Test Series Stats

T20I Series:

  1. Afghanistan won by 48 runs*Rahmanullah Gurbaz
  2. Afghanistan won by 45 runs*Mohammad Nabi
  3. Afghanistan won by 47 runs*Najibullah Zadran

* Player of Match

Series Stats

Player of SeriesAfghanistan
Karim Janat
Zimbabwe
Most RunsRahmanullah Gurbaz – 114 runs
(best of 87, 154.05 SR)
Ryan Burl – 81 runs
(best of 40, 122.72 SR)
Most WicketsRashid Khan – 6 wickets
(best of 3/28, 7.60 economy)
Blessing Muzarabani – 6 wickets
(best of 2/38, 10.25 economy)
Afghanistan Vs Zimbabwe 2021 T20I Series Stats

The Highlights

Afghanistan

  • Rashid Khan only played one Test match. In that one Test, he bowled more than anyone in the entire series. In fact, it was the most overs bowled in the 21st century in a single test. Digest that. He bowled 36.3 overs in the first innings & 62.5 overs in the follow on, taking 11 wickets overall. The fact that he left the PSL, missed the first Test with an injury, and played the rest of the series with full commitment is just something else. Also, he is only 22. Afghanistan needs to find more bowling partners to save Rashid from burnout.
  • Rahmanullah Gurbaz for me was the find of the series. 87 with 7 sixes in his player of the match debut performance. Not a bad start I would say.
  • With Gurbaz, Mohamamad Nabi, Asghar Afghan, & Najibullah Zadran all playing crucial roles in the T20I series, Karim Janat flew under the radar. Consistent all-round performances with 26 & 2/14, 53 & 1/27, and 21 & 2/34 got him the player of the series award.
  • A word on Hashmatullah Shahidi & Asghar Afghan. First double hundred by an Afghan batsman, 164 for Asghar, and a 307-run brilliant partnership. Afghanistan is improving, slowly but steadily. Good signs for world cricket.

Zimbabwe

  • With Brendon Taylor & Craig Ervine missing out due to illness, captain Sean Williams shouldered the responsibility with 105 in the 2-day Test victory & 151* in a follow-on. He was just a class apart. When Taylor & Ervine return, I am hoping for some progress for this Zimbabwean team (and possibly a 2023 WC qualification?)
  • Blessing Muzarabani was among the wickets in both the Test and ODI series. 4/48 & 2/14 in that first Test followed by 2 wickets each in the last Test and the T20Is. Slightly expensive in the T20Is, but will get better with time.
  • There was a time after the 2003 World Cup that Zimbabwe’s fast bowling stocks depleted. The bowling unit of Muzarabani, Victor Nyauchi, and Donald Tiripano bundled Afghanistan for 131 & 135 in the UAE. Gives me some hope.
  • The 187 run-partnership between Williams & Tiripano for the 8th wicket in the follow-on (highest for Zimbabwe at that spot) was very special. At the 20th anniversary of Dravid-Laxman’s partnership at the Eden Gardens, this would have been the perfect tribute. Unfortunately, Tiripano got out for 95 and Afghanistan chased the score with only a brief stutter. Brilliant Test match regardless.

The Awards

We like to spice things up with our own awards for the series. Here they are:

Afghanistan Zimbabwe
Emerging PlayerRahmanullah Gurbaz, Amir Hamza (6/75), Ibrahim Zadran (31 & 76, 72 & 29)Blessing Muzarabani
Surprise PackageKarim Janat Ryan Burl
Broken Cricket DreamAbdul Malik, Munir Ahmad, Abdul Wasi (Debutants)Brendon Taylor, Craig Ervine (miss out during illness)
Afghanistan Vs Zimbabwe 2021 Series Awards

Who would have been your Emerging Player? Surprise Player? Broken Cricket Dream? Let us know below WITH COMMENTS! Also please share and subscribe below!

T20I World Cup Watch

We are doing a World T20 Watch from now till the T20I world cup next year. Here is our predicted T20 XI line up and a 16-men squad as of now based on this series. Several ifs and buts at this point, but it will get clearer along the journey.

Since the T20 World Cup is scheduled in India, several spin options are considered.

Afghanistan 2021 World T20 Squad – Prediction

  1. Rahmanullah Gurbaz (WK), 2. Usman Ghani, 3. Karim Janat, 4. Najibullah Zadran, 5. Mohammad Nabi, 6. Asghar Afghan*, 7. Rashid Khan, 8. Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 9. Amir Hamza/Zahir Khan, 10. Naveen Ul-Haq, 11. Fareed Ahmad

Squad: 12. Qais Ahmed, 13. Gulbadin Naib/Hamid Hassan, 14. Wafadar Momand/Dawlat Zadran, 15. Hazratullah Zazai

Wildcards: Mohammad Shahzad/Afsar Zazai (WK), Samiullah Shenwari, Shapoor Zadran, Karim Sadiq, Noor Ali Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Ibrahim Zadran, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Azmatullah Omarzai, Waqar Salamkheil

*Captain

Zimbabwe 2021 World T20 Squad – Prediction

  1. Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, 2. Brendon Taylor (WK), 3. Sean Williams*, Sikandar Raza, 5. Ryan Burl, 6. Craig Ervine, 7. Regis Chakabva, 8. Wesley Madhevere, 9. Donald Tiripano, 10. Blessing Muzarabani, 11. Richard Ngarava/Victor Nyauchi

Squad: 12. Richmond Mutumbami (WK), 13. Taisai Musakanda, 14. Brandon Mavuta, 15. Kevin Kasuza

Wildcards: Wellington Masakadza, Prince Masvaure, Milton Shumba

Where Do They Go From Here?

Zimbabwe is bound to tour Ireland in August for 3 ODIs (after Ireland tour Netherlands in June for 3 ODIs) . Important ODI Super League points up for grabs.

In the meantime, the Afghanistan trio of Rashid Khan-Mohammad Nabi-Mujeeb Ur Rahman will be headed to Sunrisers Hyderabad camp for the Indian Premier League.

What did you think about the Afghanistan Vs Zimbabwe 2021 series? What are your World T20 line ups? COMMENT BELOW, and let us know what you think!

Image Courtesy: Image by Makalu from Pixabay

India Vs South Africa Women 2021 Series Review: Lizelle Lee, Punam Raut, & Lack of WIPL The Talking Points

India Vs South Africa Women Series Review.

After a year of no cricket, women’s cricket finally restarted in India. Although the series ended with 4-1 and 2-1 to South Africa, there were positives for both teams.

Lizelle Lee’s blew India away with a whirlwind series, Shabnim Ismail continued to show why she is one of the leading fast bowlers in the world, and Anneke Bosch made full use of her opportunities.

While it seems that Women’s IPL is not going to become a reality anytime soon, India had positives as well.

India added another feather to Mithali Raj’s & Jhulan Goswami’s record breaking careers, witnessed Punam Raut’s second coming & return of Mansi Joshi, and saw the rise of youngsters in Shafali Verma, Harleen Deol, Monica Patel, & Radha. The experienced trio of Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Deol, & Deepti Sharma chipped in as well, but lower order power hitting & Jemimah Rodrigues’ ODI form remains a concern.

For Video Highlights/Scorecards, commentary on Women’s IPL, & emerging players, keep on reading ahead.

Also Read: Nobody Cares About Women’s Cricket, India Vs South Africa Women Preview

Stats, Scorecards & Video Highlights – India Vs South Africa

ODI Series: South Africa Women Win 4-1

  1. South Africa Women won by 8 wickets*Shabnim Ismail
  2. India Women won by 9 wickets*Jhulan Gosami
  3. South Africa Women won by 6 runs (D/L method)*Lizelle Lee
  4. South Africa Women won by 7 wickets*Mignon du Preez
  5. South Africa Women won by 5 wickets*Anneke Bosch

* Player of Match

ODI Series Stats

Player of SeriesIndiaSouth Africa
Lizelle Lee
Most RunsPunam Raut – 263 runs
(best of 104*, 100s-1, 50s-2, 87.66 average, 71.66 SR)
Lizelle Lee – 288 runs
(best 132*, 100s-1, 50s-2, 144.00 average, 86.22 SR)
Most WicketsJhulan Goswami – 8 wickets
(best of 4/42, 17.12 average, 3.51 economy)
Shabnim Ismail – 7 wickets
(best of 3/13, 20.25 average, 3.56 economy)
India Vs South Africa Women 2021 ODI Series Stats

T20I Series: South Africa Women Win 2-1

  1. South Africa Women won by 8 wickets*Anneke Bosch
  2. South Africa Women won by 6 wickets*Laura Wolvaardt
  3. India Women won by 9 wickets*Rajeshwari Gayakwad

* Player of Match

T20I Series Stats

Player of SeriesIndia
Shafali Verma
South Africa
Most RunsShafali Verma – 130 runs
(best of 60, 156.62 SR)
Sune Luus – 91 runs
(best of 43, 95.78 SR)
Most WicketsRajeshwari Gayakwad – 4 wickets
(best of 3/9, 4.75 economy)
Shabnim Ismail – 4 wickets
(best of 3/14, 8.20 economy)
India Vs South Africa Women 2021 T20I Series Stats

The Highlights

India

  • Punam Raut was revelation in this series with scores of 10, 62*, 77, 104*, & 10. Debuting 12 years ago with 72 ODIs & an average in the 30s, she was already a known name in the line up. Before this series, Smriti Mandhana, Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur, & Jhulan Goswami were sure starters for the Indian Women’s ODI team. Add Punam Raut to that list after this breakthrough series. Could be a long term #3 option.
  • Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami once again displayed their worth in this ODI team. Although she had no centuries to her name this series, Mithali Raj consistently steadied the ship with scores of 50, 36, 45, and 79*. In the process, she became the first Indian women and second overall to cross 10,000 runs across formats. Legend. The other stalwart, Jhulan Goswami, came to the party as well with a match winning 4/42 in the second ODI.
  • Shafali Verma gave India the much-needed blazing starts in the T20I hitting 8 sixes altogether, with the 60*(30) in the 3rd T20I the best of the lot. Now the #1 ranked T20I batter. Time for ODI debut?

South Africa

  • If there was one player that was the difference between the two sides, it was Lizelle Lee and the top order. Usually one match winning knock in a series is a great achievement, but Lizelle came up with 83*, 132*, 69, & 70 across formats. Brilliant. When Lee did not perform, either the others in the top order Laura Wolvaardt (80 & 53) and Lara Goodall (59) came to the fore or South Africa women lost.
  • The Proteas found a new winner in Anneke Bosch with two player of the match performances. With Mignon Du Preez & Sune Luus chipping in and van Niekerk on an injury break, South Africa might be a dark horse for the next World Cup.
  • Shabnim Ismail & the fast bowling unit were impressive yet again. Although Ismail was the only one with the wickets, Khaka & Kapp kept the runs in the check, limiting India to 177, 248, 266, and 188.

Also Read: Impact of India’s 2017 Final Loss on the Lack of Women’s IPL, What Can Ellyse Perry Not Do?

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The Awards: Emerging Players & Surprise Package

India South Africa
Emerging PlayerShafali Verma, Harleen DeolAnneke Bosch
Surprise PackagePunam RautHow Did They Lose 2 Games?
Broken Cricket DreamNo Women’s IPL yet again & Jemimah Rodrigues’ ODI formVan Niekerk’s Out of Action – Missing out on a wonderful overseas series win
India Vs South Africa Women 2021 Series Awards

Where Do They Go From Here?

At this point, except the upcoming Australia vs New Zealand Women series coming up, there are no upcoming international fixtures till ODI World Cup in March 2022. The only professional cricket seems to be The Hundred in the UK this summer. Promises to be a game changer for Women’s cricket.

Another setback has happened with reports of no IPL in 2021 (with suggestions that this was done due to the ‘lack of depth’ and result of the South Africa series).

If the result of this series indeed had a direct impact on the WIPL decision, then let us reflect back. Were India really that bad this series? Not really. They actually improved over the course of the series. 177, 160/1 (won), 248 (lost only by D/L), and 266. In the final T20I, chased 113 with 9 wickets and 9 overs in hand. If not for Lizelle Lee’s brilliance, the score line would have been much closer.

Also if the national cricket board does not give the team a chance for an entire year after the team reached the final of a World T20, then it is not the players’ fault. It is the administration’s lack of urgency, vision, & communication.

Thoughts on Women’s Indian Premier League

It was nice to see widespread awareness and support in Twitter countering the arguments made against Women’s IPL. Here was a list of the top women professional cricketers in India that went viral.

If not now, when? Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami are on the verge of retirements, and it would be a shame if they are not part of the first iteration of this imaginary tournament. Here are my thoughts on the positives that Indian cricket can gain from the WIPL:

  1. Foster fanbases & transfer experience to the next generation of Indian players
  2. Intermingling of domestic Indian players with international stars and coaches, which has clearly been a feature of the
  3. Financial Growth, which can be reinvested to grow the women’s game in India and improve the standard of women’s domestic cricket in the long run.
  4. Cultural and financial awareness through the WIPL in the form of TV and social media can help make women’s sports a potential career in India
  5. Bring talented youngsters in the mix
  6. Narrowing down the gap between Australia-England-New Zealand and the rest of the countries in women’s cricket. This will also give an opportunity to Associate nations like the rising Thailand team.

Sure maybe 8 teams with 30 players each may be two far, but just 4 games in the Women’s T20 Challenge is a disgrace. Start with 4-6 teams and grow it little by little each year.

This is the time. Better late than never.

Copyright (2021: 3/27/2021)– @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – bcd@brokokencricketdreams.com

Image Courtesy: Bahnfrend, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Indian Cricket’s Abundance of Talent: A Blessing or a Curse?

All that glitters is gold, at least for this Indian cricket team.

36 All out? Bruised bodies? Losing the first match of a series? No matter the obstacle, this team has risen to the challenge. Grit, fearlessness, and resilience all on display in the Australia & England series.

One of the hallmarks of this success has been India’s marvelous bench strength. Yet, too much of anything is bad. Michael Atherton sums it up perfectly“Depths of talent can be both a blessing and a curse.”

The Blessing

Ishan Kishan hits a 50 on debut. Suryakumar Yadav pulls his first ball for a one-legged six and scores a 50 as well. Rahul Chahar impresses. Prasidh Krishna picks 4 wickets on ODI debut. Krunal Pandya caps it off with the fastest debutant half century.

Sundar, Gill, Thakur, Natarajan, and Siraj all came to the party in Australia. The list goes on and on.

It seems that for every Ravindra Jadeja, there is an Axar Patel & Krunal Pandya. In fact, India has a production line of 75 players & can even field four teams at the same time. They are reaping rewards of systems created by the IPL, India U-19, & India A (courtesy Rahul Dravid).

The Curse

Recent successes cannot hide the cracks beneath the surface.

The selection mismanagement (or ‘rejection’ as Ajay Jadeja calls it) of Ambati Rayudu, Vijay Shankar, Manish Pandey, Kuldeep Yadav, Shivam Dube, & Sanju Samson is well known. Dropping players after a couple of games & constant experimentation instills a lack of confidence, instability, & insecurity within the team. India needs to make sure they do not repeat this mistake with the likes of KL Rahul & Shreyas Iyer.

Because if similar management continues, India’s upcoming T20 World Cup campaign will be in jeopardy.

Paradigm Shift

There is no dearth of talent in Indian cricket, but how it is utilized is key.

Gone are the days where teams carry players across formats for an entire decade. Except for the occasional Kohlis, Rabadas, & Williamsons, we will not see the all-format player again.

India is amidst an experimentation phase where any newcomer fits into the team environment & performs. In order to sustain this way of playing, a paradigm shift is required not only among the selectors & captain but also in the thought process of each player that is selected on the particular day.

Is flexibility the new stability? Only time will tell, but remember—some change is good, but too much change can create chaos.

Copyright (2021: 3/25/2021)– @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – bcd@brokokencricketdreams.comteam

Image Courtesy: lensbug.chandru, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons, John M. Hawkins quote.

Australia Vs New Zealand 2021 Series Review: Guptill, Finch Shine In Competitive Series

Australia Vs New Zealand 2021 Series Review. This series was competitive with a 3-2 result, although every match was more-or-less one-sided.

Several memorable moments though with the return of Martin Guptill’s sweet timing, Conway’s run of form, Jamieson’s rude awaking after IPL auction glory, Finch & Maxwell’s show, Ashton Agar & Ish Sodhi’s magic, & finally the spin experiment of Chapman-Phillips (wicketkeeper).

Positives for both sides with this series. New Zealand have solidified their batting order, while Australia had the chance to experiment with Big Bash performers since the South Africa-Australia series was controversially cancelled (Hence, no Smith, Warner, Cummins for this series).

Here is my series review—Results, stats, highlights, T20I World Cup squad predictions, awards, and much more!

Results – Australia Vs New Zealand

T20I Series: New Zealand Win 3 – 2

  1. New Zealand win by 53 runs *Devon Conway
  2. New Zealand win by 4 runs*Martin Guptill
  3. Australia win by 64 runs*Ashton Agar
  4. Australia win by 50 runs*Aaron Finch
  5. New Zealand win by 7 wickets*Martin Guptill

* Player of Match

Series Stats

Player of SeriesNew Zealand
Ish Sodhi
Australia
Most RunsMartin Guptill – 218 runs
(best of 97, 2-50s, 59.12 SR)
Aaron Finch – 197 runs
(best of 79*, 2-50s, SR 134.01)
Most WicketsIsh Sodhi – 13 wickets
(best of 4/28, 12.07 average, 8.26 economy)
Ashton Agar – 8 wickets
(best of 6/30, 14.62 average, 6.88 economy)
Australia Vs New Zealand 2021 T20I Series Stats

The Highlights

New Zealand

  • Martin Guptill was on the verge of being dropped. In the first T20I, even Brendon McCullum on commentary suggested this is a huge series for Guptill (only for the commentator’s curse to take place—Guptill dismissed for duck). What followed was a magnificent 97 which made him the leading six hitter in all of T20I cricket. He followed it up with 43 & 71 later in the series. Watch out—this version of Guptill could be even more dangerous.
  • Devon Conway continues to rise through the ranks. Hit a 99* in the first T20I. An average of 52.28 at 145.23 with 3 50s in his first 11 matches. He is here to stay and may even receive an ODI cap soon.
  • Ish Sodhi has never completely realized his potential. Even with leg spinners dominating international cricket for the last decade, he was always in and out of the side. A Player of the Series performance & upcoming World T20I in India should guarantee his spot in the XI.

Australia

  • IPL discard Aaron Finch showed why is the best T20I batsman in the world. After NZ led 2-0 in the 5 match series, knocks of 69, 79*, and 36 displayed his tough character.
  • Australia have a balanced squad with 2 spinning allrounders, Glenn Maxwell & Ashton Agar. Both came to the party in the 3rd T20I. Maxwell, a revelation in international cricket over the past 12 months, scored an impactful 70 (31), while Agar broke the New Zealand chase with a spell of 6/30.
  • Josh Philippe was the find of the series for me. Although he had already made a name for himself in the Big Bash, he finally shone at the international level providing quick starts of 45 (34) & 43 (27). Pressure on Matthew Wade when David Warner returns? (although he did score a decent 44 (29)).

The Awards

We like to spice things up with our own awards for the series. Here they are:

Watch Out For

  • Finn Allen. Just 21 years of age, he averages 48.81 with 183.27 strike rate in domestic T20. With 6 fifties in 13 innings & a best of 92*, there are talks of him being fast-tracked for the Kiwis. With Guptill solidifying his spot & Seifert-Conway-Phillips all but certain, Allen’s prospects may have closed the door for Ross Taylor’s T20I return.
New ZealandAustralia
Emerging PlayerFinn Allen (Not in the series)Josh Philippe
Surprise PackageMartin Guptill’s comeback Ashton Agar
Broken Cricket DreamKyle Jamieson
(15 overs, 175 runs, 1 wicket at 11.66 economy rate)
End of Matthew Wade?
Australia Vs New Zealand 2021 Series Awards

Who would have been your Emerging Player? Surprise Player? Broken Cricket Dream? Let us know below WITH COMMENTS! Also please share and subscribe below!

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T20I World Cup Watch

We are doing a World T20 Watch from now till the T20I world cup next year. Here is our predicted T20 XI line up and a 16-men squad as of now based on this series. Several ifs and buts at this point, but it will get clearer along the journey.

Since the T20 World Cup is scheduled in India, several spin options are considered.

New Zealand 2021 World T20 Squad – Prediction

Finn Allen is slowly rising through the domestic ranks. He was picked as an injury backup for RCB, although he has not made his international debut yet.

  1. Martin Guptill, 2. Tim Seifert (WK), 3. Kane Williamson*, 4. Glenn Phillips, 5. Devon Conway, 6. Jimmy Neesham, 7. Mitchell Santner, 8. Tim Southee, 9. Trent Boult, 10. Lockie Ferguson, 11. Ish Sodhi

Squad: 12. Colin de Grandhomme, 13. Finn Allen/Ross Taylor/Mark Chapman, 14. Kyle Jamieson/Hamish Bennett, 15. Blair Tickner/Jacob Duffy, 156 Doug Bracewell/Scott Kuggeleijn/Adam Milne

*Captain

Australia 2021 World T20 Squad – Prediction

I will put Steve Smith on the bench and start with Philippe. Several options for Australia, but time running out to settle their squad.

  1. David Warner, 2. Aaron Finch*, 3. Josh Philippe (WK), 4. Glenn Maxwell, 5. Marcus Stoinis, 6. Ashton Agar, 7. Mitchell Marsh, 8. Pat Cummins, 9. Daniel Sams/Jason Behrendoff/Mitchell Starc, 10. Josh Hazlewood/James Pattinson, 11. Adam Zampa

Squad: 12. Steve Smith, 13. Matthew Wade (WK)/ Alex Carey (WK), 14. Jhye Richardson/Riley Meredith/Sean Abbott, 15. Kane Richardon/Andrew Tye, 16. Cameron Green/Moises Henriques

Wildcards: Marnus Labuschagne, Ben McDermott (WK), D’Arcy Short, Andrew Tye, Tanveer Sangha, Ashton Turner, Nathan Lyon

Where Do They Go From Here?

New Zealand travel to Bangladesh for 3 T20Is and 3 ODIs, starting March 19th. Several of the players will stay for IPL 2021. Finally, in July the Test squad will travel to England for 2 Test matches as well as the (not) much awaited WTC final.

Australia meanwhile are done for now till the World T20 later this year (unless fixtures are added). They won the ODI series against India 2-1, but went on to lose the T20I series 1-2, Test series 1-3, & this series 2-3. Also had the controversial South Africa series cancelled. Time for some much needed rest.

What did you think about the Australia Vs New Zealand 2021 series? What are your World T20 line ups? COMMENT BELOW, and let us know what you think!

Image Courtesy: Martin Guptill – YellowMonkey/Blnguyen, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

England Vs New Zealand Women 2021 Series Review: Beaumont & Knight Too Much For New Zealand

England Vs New Zealand Women 2021 Series Preview.

This series was dominated by two individuals—Tammy Beaumont and captain Heather Knight. Apart from these two, England also found match winners in Nat Sciver, Freya Davies, Sarah Glenn, and Katherine Brunt.

On the other hand, except for Amelia Kerr & Amy Satterthwaite, New Zealand were not in the fight in their own backyard. There was stand-in captaincy for Sciver, injury to Lea Tahuhu, and even a bit of Billy Bowden as well. Here is a quick review—The stats, highlights, and more! Keep on reading, and let us know your thoughts!

Also Read: Ind Vs SA Women Series Preview, Who Cares About Women Cricket?

Results – England Vs New Zealand

ODI Series: England Win 2 – 1

  1. England Women won by 8 wickets *Heather Knight
  2. England Women won by 7 wickets *Natalie Sciver
  3. New Zealand Women won by 7 wickets *Amy Satterthwaite

* Player of Match

Player of SeriesEnglandNew Zealand
Most RunsTammy Beaumont – 231 runs
(best of 88*, 3 – 50s, average 231.00)
Amy Satterthwaite – 135 runs
(best of 119*, 1- 100, average 67.50)
Most WicketsNatalie Sciver – 5 wickets
(best of 3/26, average 16.60)
Amelia Kerr – 4 wickets
(best of 4/42, average 28.00)
England Vs New Zealand Women ODI Series Stats

T20I Series: England Win 3 – 0

  1. England Women won by 7 wickets *Sarah Glenn
  2. England Women won by 6 wickets *Freya Davies
  3. England Women won by 32 runs *Katherine Brunt
Player of SeriesEngland
Tammy Beaumont
New Zealand
Most RunsTammy Beaumont – 102 runs
(best of 63, 1 – 50, 100.99 SR)
Amy Satterthwaite – 76 runs
(best of 49, 122.58 SR)
Most WicketsFreya Davies – 5 wickets
(best of 4/23, 4.71 economy)
Leigh Kasperek – 4 wickets
(best of 2/24, 6.61 economy)
England Vs New Zealand Women T20I Series Stats

The Highlights

England

  • Individual runs do not win you matches, great partnerships do. Tammy Beaumont & Heather Knight were not only consistently among the runs, they stitched the English team together. Beaumont is literally in almost all the match-winning partnerships. Dream tour for her (although struggles for Danni Wyatt continued).
    • Beaumont-Knight 94 (113), Beaumont-Sciver 103 (129) & Beaumont-Jones 79*(87), Beaumont-Knight 109 (151)
    • Wyatt-Beaumont 59 (53), Knight-Beaumont 83 (73), Jones-Dunkley 36 (31)
  • While the experienced top order dominated the ODI leg, the bowlers were the stars in the T20Is. Sarah Glenn’s miserly 2/11 in 4 overs in the first T20I & Freya Davies’ wonderful outing of 4/23 sealed the 2nd T20I. Only 8 T20Is old before the series, Davies was the find of the T20I tour for England.
  • The experience of Katherine Brunt was on spot in the 3rd T20I. At half way stage, 128 seemed too low to defend but Katherine Brunt’s 2/19, Sophie Ecclestone’s 2/19, & Mady Villiers’ 3/10 bundled New Zealand for just 96.

New Zealand

  • It was a tough tour for Sophie Devine. After hitting the fastest women T20 century in the domestic Super Smash tournament, much was expected of her as the captain-all rounder. Scores of 16, 6, 15, 2, 8, 0 and only 2 wickets across the 6 matches was way below her usually excellent standards.
  • Amelia Kerr, the young prodigious (Devine used to babysit her) allrounder continued her dramatic rise in world cricket. Although the stats do not show it all, she was constantly threatening the pair of Beaumont-Knight in the ODIs. Performance of 4/42 & 72* in the 3rd ODI helped seal New Zealand their sole victory in the series.
  • The women of the hour in the 3rd ODI was Amy Satterthwaite, completing her 7th ODI century with magnificent knock of 119* (128) after the White Ferns were 15-2. Another 49 came in a T20I. The only real resistance from the New Zealand batting came from her. Otherwise, T20I scores of 96, 123, 96 & ODI scores of 178 & 192 are not much to write home about.

Also Read: What Can Ellyse Perry Not Do?, What If India Won the 2017 World Cup?

Amazon Affiliate

We like to spice things up with our own awards for the series. Here they are:

England New Zealand
Emerging PlayerFreya DaviesAmelia Kerr
Surprise PackageKatherine BruntLeigh Kasperek
Broken Cricket DreamDanni WyattLea Tahuhu (injured)/Sophie Devine
England Vs New Zealand Women Awards

Who would have been your Emerging Player? Surprise Player? Broken Cricket Dream? Let us know below WITH COMMENTS! Also please share and subscribe below!

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Where Do They Go From Here?

Australia Women will tour New Zealand for 3 T20Is and 3 ODIs, starting March 28th. For England, The Women’s Hundred will finally take stage from 21st July-21st August. This will be a huge game changer for women’s cricket.

The ODI World Cup (which was to be held during this time in New Zealand this year) is postponed to February of 2022.

Where do New Zealand cricket go from here? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Image Courtesy: Katherine Bruntpaddynapper, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

India Vs England 2021 Test Series Review: Sharmas, Spinners Overshadowed By Umpiring, Pitch, and Rotation Policy

India Vs England 2021 Test Series Review.

We billed this series as the “Final Before the (WTC) Final” and after overseas victories for both India (vs Australia) and England (Vs Sri Lanka), the series had hype for the right reasons.

Instead this series will be remembered for exactly the wrong reasons—Discussions about the pitches in Chennai & Pink Ball Test, rotation policy & England’s treatment of Moeen Ali, and hasty umpiring decisions (along with Kohli’s priceless reactions).

There were some good days for cricket as well with Ishant Sharma’s 100 Tests & 300 wickets, Joe Root’s 218, Anderson’s dream over, Foakes’ & Pant’s wicket-keeping, R Ashwin’s 100 & 9-fer, Ashwin’s 32 & Axar’s 27 wickets, Sundar’s 85* & 96*, Rohit Sharma’s masterclass, and Pant’s reverse sweep (to Anderson) in a brilliant 100.

Read till the end for my picks for the best moments, emerging players, controversies, and much more! COMMENT BELOW ON YOUR FAVORITE MOMENTS.

*Note: Underlined & Bolded links are videos. Underlined without bold are links to other articles.

Results – England Vs India

The reason why I did not enjoy this series as much was due to the lack of competitiveness. 227 runs, 317 runs, 10 wickets, and an innings victory was in complete contrast to the edge-of-the-seat stuff (last session draws/chases) in the Australia series.

Test Series: India Win 3 – 1

* Player of Match

  1. England Won by 227 Runs *Joe Root
  2. India Won by 317 runs *Ravichandran Ashwin
  3. India Won by 10 wickets *Axar Patel
  4. India Won by An Innings and 25 runs *Rishabh Pant
Player of SeriesEnglandIndia
Ravichandran Ashwin – 189 runs (best of 106, average 31.50, 1 – 100)
Most RunsJoe Root – 368 runs
(best of 218, average 46.00, 100s/50s – 1/0)
Rohit Sharma – 345 runs
(best of 161, average 57.50, 100s/50s -1/1
Most WicketsJack Leach – 18 wickets
(best innings – 4/54, best match – 6/178, 28.72 average, strike rate 53.6)
R Ashwin – 32 wickets
(best innings – 6/61, best match – 9/207, 14.71 average, 35.2 SR, 3 5-fers
India Vs England 2021 Test Series Stats

The Highlights

England

1. We Miss The Non-Converting Joe Root

At the beginning of 2021, Joe Root’s stats read 17-100s, 49-50s. After the Sri Lanka & India tours, his stats read 20-100s, 49-50s. His last 6 Test matches show:

  • 228 & 1 (run-out), 186 & 11, 218 & 40
  • 6 & 33, 17 & 19, 5 & 30

Notice something? He converted 3 daddy hundreds, and then followed it up with 3 middling Test matches (mainly due to the intelligent bowling of Axar and Siraj). Now, we should not be too harsh on Root. The law of averages surely catches up, he had additional stress of captaincy, and he even bowled his heart out including a 5/8.

Still, the Joe Root who scored consistent 60s & 70s might have been more than handy on this low scoring tour. The 50th 50 would be cherry on top of his personally successful season.

2. Batting Wins Matches

Catches win matches? Sure. Need to take 20 wickets to secure a Test victory? Maybe.

How about batting with scores of 178, 134 & 164, 112 & 81, and 205 & 135? Definitely Not. This is called batting yourself out of a Test series. Let us dig a bit deeper:

  • Pope 153 runs at 19.12 (best of 34), Sibley 134 at 16.75 (best of 87) – 4 Tests each
  • Burns 58 runs at 14.50 (best of 33), Bairstow 28 at 7.00 (best of 7, 3 ducks), Crawley 67 at 16.75 (best of 53) – 2 Tests each

For international level cricket, if your Top 5 comprises of these players, barely-in-form Root-Stokes, and Buttler/Foakes, then this is just not going to cut it.

Maybe a certain Joe Denly might have been able to weather the storm better. If not the centuries, at least the Denturies would have come.

3. Anderson, Foakes & Lawrence The Bright Stars

Let us take out the stats for the moment, and look at the bright side.

Winning a Test match is not easy. Winning away even harder. Hence, the 227 run victory in Chennai should be regarded as a huge accomplishment, regardless of the 3-1 margin. (The issue was not the score line. Rather, it was the way they lost the final 3 Test matches).

Jimmy Anderson’s 6/40 in Galle & 3/17 in Chennai should rest the ‘Clouderson’ and ‘poor away record’ claims. That 3/17 included one of the best overs of reverse swing you will ever see. A well set Shubman Gill was bowled through the gate, Rahane survived an umpires call appeal, and then carbon copy bowled. Does not get any better than that.

On the turning pitches, Ben Foakes’ keeping was absolutely magnificent. His split-second stumping of Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant in the 2nd innings of the 2nd Test were quite something. (His batting showed signs of defiance, but could not reach his heights of his debut). Finally with 73 on debut and 46 & 50 in the final Test, Dan Lawrence showed some signs of steel.

Finally Channel 4 coverage was a win-win situation for the fans.

India

1. Axar Patel Invokes His Inner Embuldeniya, R Ashwin – The Man of the Hour

Just like Embuldeniya troubled England prior to this tour, Axar was the concern this time around. Straighter one, bounce, turn, guile, he had it all.

The best part is that Axar was not even supposed to play this series if not for Jadeja’s injury. 27 wickets at 10.59 with 4 5-wicket hauls & 1-10 wicket haul (best inning – 6/38, best match 11/70). Even got the opportunity to take a five-wicket haul at his home with some crowd. Stuff of dreams.

R Ashwin has got to be the most intelligent player in international cricket. He has a YouTube channel, reads books in his free time, is an engineer, can mess with the batsmen due to the Mankad-threat, talks to the media about a ‘bad pitch’, walks the talk with a 106 on the Chennai turner, and bamboozles the batsmen with skillful bowling.

The dismissals of Ollie Pope (carrom ball, beats the bat, bowled) in the final Test have to be my moments of this series.

2. The Sharmas Come To The Party

Wonderful achievement by Ishant Sharma for his 100th Test & 300 wickets. Just rewards for a brilliant journey over the last decade. Although this series was spin-dominated, Ishant Sharma 4.0 still has several years to offer to Indian cricket.

Rohit Sharma went very much under the radar this time, but India’s series victory was in jeopardy without his contributions. 161 on a tricky pitch was the turning moment of the series, and he followed it up with patient 26, 66 & 25*, and 49. In these low scoring matches, runs on the board provided the cushion for the spinners to dominate.

3. India’s Big 3 Just Not Good Enough, Depth Covers the Spots

Just like many other well-wishers, I had predicted Virat Kohli to come back in this series with a tough 50 at the start and a a double century by the end. The tough 72 in the 2nd innings at Chennai definitely came, but nowhere near the elusive 71st international century. Here are the stats:

  • Virat Kohli: 172 runs at 28.66 (best of 72, 2-50s, 2 ducks)
  • Ajinkya Rahane: 112 runs at 18.66 (best of 67, 1-50, 1 duck)
  • Cheteshwar Pujara: 133 runs at 22.16 (best of 73, 1-50, 1 duck)

I do not remember so many ducks by these 3. Nor do I remember a series where none fired.

Apart from Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Washington Sundar, & R Ashwin all outscored the middle order stalwarts. Since India emerged victorious, the cracks are temporarily filled, but questions should be asked.

After that Melbourne innings, Rahane has not done enough. Pujara is doing fine and crucial to India’s line up, but is not converting to daddy hundreds at the moment.

Given India’s depth, is it time to breed in the next generation? Is it time to rotate home/away batsmen as India rotates fast bowlers/ spinners?

Also Read:

Controversies

Umpires

The umpiring decisions in the 2nd & 3rd Tests caught the attention of the public. It was not necessarily the decisions made, but the manner in which they were decided (Ben Stokes’ catch – on field out, but turned over quickly). A standard procedure & muting the umpires’ conversation may be the way to go forward here.

Pitch

By the end of the series, it was easily recognized that England’s lack of batting application led to their downfall, not the state of the pitches. However, 2-day & 3-day matches do not anybody a favor, either. The pink ball Test is supposed to get more public to watch the game, but most of these matches are ending in 3 or 4 days, which is counterintuitive. The first Test may have been the most balanced pitch, even though it was slow & attritional for the first day and a half.

Rotation Policy

Finally, the rotation policy. England’s rotation policy has possibly extended the careers of Broad & Anderson, given a chance to youngsters fighting for a national spot, and is important in the coronavirus era due to mental health. Rotation is not necessarily a bad thing, but how it was implemented in this series was dodgy.

Archer, Burns, & Stokes were rested for the series in Sri Lanka, while the rest of the squad stayed. However, Buttler left after one Test, Moeen Ali finally playing a Test only to go back home (due to miscommunication), Bairstow played the last two, Woakes left without playing, so on and so forth.

I cannot imagine how much the constant traveling & jet lag, inconsistency in selection & unsettled line-ups, and not having enough practice games might have impacted their minds. I can understand rotation between series, but during a series is a bit much.

And if this rotation was for the preparation for upcoming T20 World Cup & IPL, losing out to the WTC Final spot at home should seriously be questioned.

Awards

We like to spice things up with our own awards for the series. Here they are:

India made Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel (greatest understudy of all time), and Washington Sundar into world class all-rounders. England took a world class all-rounder in Moeen Ali and practically destroyed a budding career.

IndiaEngland
Emerging PlayerAxar Patel Dan Lawrence, Rotation Policy
Surprise PackageLower Middle OrderDom Bess’s Full Tosses; Joe Root’s 5-fer
Broken Cricket DreamShardul Thakur – Did not get a game after a 92 & 4-fer at Gabba
Dreams Broken For Fans Wanting Ashwin to become the 4th player to do the double of 100 + 10-fer
Stuart Broad’s Asian Dream, Jonny Bairstow’s Test Career, Moeen Ali
India Vs England 2021 Test Series Awards

Where Do They Go From Here?

A 5 match T20I series & 3-match ODI series to follow, preparing for the upcoming T20I World Cup in India. Then, we will have the IPL, England will play a couple of test matches against the New Zealand at home, and finally India Vs New Zealand for the WTC final.

After England’s victory at Chennai, I declared that this English team could rival the 2010-2012 team due to the good mix of youth, experience, & abroad victories. I guess that was a bit premature.

Was this India Vs England 2021 Test series the ‘greatest story of all time’ like the India Vs Australia? Nope.

Was it as controversial as the South Africa Vs Australia scandalous ball tampering series? Not really.

At best, this was just a Meh kind of series. Had its moments, but did not capture the imagination of the next generation. Sums it up for the World Test Championship.

What did you think of the India Vs England 2021 Test Series? Let us know!

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Copyright (2021: 3/11/2021)– @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – bcd@brokokencricketdreams.com

Image Courtesy: Axar Patel – Anand Anil, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Nicholas Pooran, A Story of Pain, Hope, & Inspiration: The Next Big Thing of West Indies & World Cricket

Author Matshona Dhliwayo once remarked, “Our most beautiful dreams are born from our most unpleasant nightmares.”

Nicholas Pooran is a living embodiment of this statement.

Precocious talent & gifted with immense power. Maturity beyond his years. With a simple, honest, & grateful demeanor. Only that an unpleasant nightmare would change his life forever.

Here is the story of Nicholas Pooran—the next big thing in world cricket. This is a tale of unimaginable pain, hope in the time of uncertainty, & inspiration for all.

Also Read: Favorite Players From Each Country, Young West Indies rises in Bangladesh, List of The Most Stylish Batsmen

The Stats

Batting

ODIs: 25 matches, 932 runs, best of 118, average 49.05, 1-100/7-50s

T20s: 163 matches, 3122 runs, best of 100*, average 24.97, 144.60 SR, 1-100/16-50s, 206-4s/215-6s

Embed from Getty Images

The Beginning

Nicholas Pooran announced himself to the cricketing world in the 2014 U-19 Cricket World Cup. Top scored for the West Indies and fourth highest overall in the tournament—303 runs at 60.60 with a strike rate of 99.34 with 1 century and 2 fifties.

Quarter Final time. West Indies Vs Australia. The West Indies are struggling at 7-3. In comes Nicholas Pooran. Nudges it around and brings up a calm fifty from 75 balls. Wickets keep falling at the other end. The Windies are now 85-8.

Then came the onslaught (Watch this). Straight sixes galore. Flicked six. Sixes over cow corner. Breathtaking stuff.

West Indies end with a score of 208. Nicholas Pooran top scores 143 off 160 balls, last man out. Next highest? 20 runs by the #10. The scorecard read: 1, 4, 10, 0, 143, 7, 1, 1, 1, 20, 0*.

With that knock, he came into national spotlight as a future wicketkeeper after Denesh Ramdin. A debut first class & CPL season with Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel would follow. At age 17, he hit 54 (24) including an inside-out six and reverse sweep to Sunil Narine. The 2014 Sunil Narine that is.

But barely into his cricketing career, little did he know that his world was about to turn upside down.

The Accident

On January 6, 2015, news broke through that Pooran had been injured in a horrific car accident. He suffered a ruptured left patellar tendon and fractured right ankle.

As Pooran recalls in his interview to Peter Della Penna, the first question he asked the doctors was, “if I could play cricket again”?

Two surgeries, several months on wheelchair, endless therapy & rehab sessions later, Pooran finally started to walk again after six months. A couple of months later, he would start jogging. 18 months from the incident, a CPL game with Barbados Trident.

Two and a half years later—a West Indian jersey.

During these tough times, he found a support system comprising of his parents, Dr. Oba Gulston (physiotherapist in CPL teams), Kelvin Williams (assistant coach in T&T), coach Phil Simmons, and mentor & future captain, Kieron Pollard. Pooran credits Pollard’s constant encouragement, communication, & support that got him through.

Embed from Getty Images

The Comeback

It was Pollard’s faith in Pooran & his talent, that he vouched for his selection in the CPL with his team, Barbados Trident. And boy did he repay his faith.

July 17, 2016. St. Lucia Zouks Vs Barbados Tridents.

Pooran outclassed a batting order comprising of Shoaib Malik, the 2016 version of AB De Villiers, and Kieron Pollard. In a 49 run partnership with Pollard, Pollard scored only 6. Dominating comeback performance. Watch his blistering knock of 81 (39). 558 days later, Nicholas Pooran was back.

As he said in his post-match interview, “I am back. I am back stronger.”

Pooran Makes a Mark At the 2019 Cricket World Cup

The lower you fall, the higher you’ll fly.

After the comeback, the only direction Pooran could go was up. He would make his T20I debut later that year in September 2016. International recognition would come in the 2018 & 2019 T20I series against India.

The moment when I realized he was the next big thing in world cricket was the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Whenever Pooran came to the crease, I knew something was bound to happen. Some of his knocks included:

34 (19) Vs Pakistan, 40 (36) Vs Australia, 63 (78) Vs West Indies, 118 (103) Vs Sri Lanka, & 58 (43) Vs Afghanistan.

His maiden international century against Sri Lanka was especially something else. In a chase of 339, West Indies struggle at 145-5. He pulls & heaves. Knocks the ball around. Brilliant partnership with Fabian Allen gets them close until Allen’s unfortunate run-out. Yet, until Pooran was at the crease, anything could have happened.

31 needed of 18, and West Indies are still in the game. Only for a hobbling Angelo Mathews to get Pooran off a wide one against all odds. End of the dream.

The West Indies did not make it to the semi-finals, but Pooran established his presence with that knock. The ability to combine composure & power is what makes him extremely dangerous. The sweet sound off his bat is second to none. And the question comes again, why isn’t he selected for Test cricket again?

What Is He Doing Now?

His stocks continued to rise with leagues around the world. Recently, Pooran’s performance in the IPL with the KXIP was outstanding, including the best fielding effort you will ever see. With the bat, 353 runs at 170 was not too bad either.

When he is not winning matches in the West Indies, CPL, or in an IPL jerseys, he can be seen hitting sixes for fun in the Big Bash or the T10 leagues among others.

He is now the vice-captain in the T20I squad (as of the Sri Lanka series. Yes the one in which Kieron Pollard hit 6 sixes).

What Can We Learn From Nicholas Pooran?

Although just 25, we can learn so many from Pooran already. He does not like to dwell on the incident, and instead look on the bright side and stay in the present. Let us do exactly that and see how we can apply the inspirational lessons in our lives. Here is Pooran in his own words.

Pooran In His Own Words: The Life Lessons

“If I can come back from it, anyone can come back from anything.”

When life pushes you down, you always have two optionsto view the glass as half empty or half-full. It is a matter of perspective. Optimism and keeping the hope alive will allow you to get through the tough times.

“I believe everything happens for a reason…blessing in disguise.”

Everyone has childhood dreams, whether that is to become a sports player, an artist, a world renowned scientist, but sometimes life works out differently. Instead of dwelling on the disappointments, we should be grateful what we actually have. Be thankful for your family, your health, and the fact you were given the opportunity to explore other ventures & improve upon yourself.

“I really doubted it but never give up on my dreams.”

Even the most positive individual can go in the depths of self-doubt. That is okay, it is just natural. Just keep working on it little by little by little, day by day. Who knows, your dream might come true and if it did not, you know you gave it an honest try. No regrets.

“Every single opportunity you get, you have to grab it.”

Do not wait to change to come. Find opportunities, and if you get a chance, give it your ALL. Put your entire soul & energy into it. Sometimes you will get multiple chances, while other times, you may only get one. Make it count.

Finally Pooran ends it perfectly with, “I appreciate the life that I have and the talent I have. I was blessed.”

Count your blessings. Gratefulness, Endurance, Persistence, Resilience, and Grace—that is what Pooran teaches us.

Embed from Getty Images

Copyright (2021: 3/6/2021)– @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – bcd@brokokencricketdreams.com

Sources: Cricinfo, PSL Interview with Pooran, Interview with Peter Della Penna, Jarrod Kimber’s T20 Pooran Stats, GoodReads

Image Courtesy: Trinidad & Tobago: Photo by Erick Todd from Pexels, Getty Images

India Vs South Africa Women 2021 Series Preview: Cricket Finally Makes A Comeback to Women’s Cricket

India Vs South Africa Women 2021 Series Preview—finally some progress in women’s cricket in India.

Earlier, we explored why Nobody Cares About Women’s Cricket. The Indian men have played a 60 day IPL, had a complete tour of Australia, and is now hosting England for a full series. On the other hand, Indian women have played half-a-week long T20 Challenge. That is it. No training either until recently. This will be India’s first assignment since the World T20 Final on March 8th, 2020.

Meanwhile South Africa women are coming on back of a 3-0 ODI & 2-1 T20I victory against Pakistan at home. Here is a preview of the 5 ODI & 3 T20I match tour between India and South Africa. Here is what you should expect, the big surprises in team selection, the squads, and our series prediction.

When and Where?

Here are the dates and the venue for the India Vs South Africa Women series.

ODIs

  1. 6 March, 2021 – Lucknow
  2. 8 March, 2021 – Lucknow
  3. 11 March, 2021 – Lucknow
  4. 13 March 2021 – Lucknow
  5. 16 March 2021 – Lucknow

T20Is

  1. 20 March, 2021 – Lucknow
  2. 21 March, 2021 – Lucknow
  3. 24 March, 2021 – Lucknow

Also Read: What If Indian Women Had Won the 2017 World Cup?, What Can Ellyse Perry Not Do?

The Batting

India: Blend of Youth & Experience Key

  • Mithali Raj, the highest run scorer in Women’s ODI cricket, is just 85 runs shy of 10,000 international runs across formats (6888 ODI, 2364 T20I, 663 Tests). After 487 days away from national duty, she will back trying to take India to the ODI World Cup next year. At 38, this might be Raj’s final hurrah.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, watch out for the explosive 17-year-old Shafali Verma in the T20Is. She already has 19 international caps and strikes it at 146.24.
  • A lot will depend on the India’s experienced middle order. Harmanpreet Kaur, Deepti Sharma, and Sushma Verma (comeback) will need to make sure India bats 50 overs in case of a collapse.

South Africa: Enviable Top-Order With Lee, Wolfvaardt, and Luus

  • If the top order of Lizelle Lee, Laura Wolfvaardt, and Sune Luus play to their potential, this South African team will be very hard to beat. Luus also has the extra responsibility of the stand-in captain in the absence of injured Dan van Niekerk.
  • Lookout for Trisha Chetty. A veteran of 114 ODIs, the wicketkeeper-batsman is integral to the core of this South African side.
  • Tazmin Brits is the in-form T20I batsman for South Africa. With scores of 52* & 66, she was the Player of the T20I series against Pakistan.

The Bowling

India: Shikha Pandey’s Omission The Talking Point

  • In the build up to this series, the omission of India’s pace spearhead, Shikha Pandey, has taken the public by surprise. India’s most successful pace bowler of recent times and 2nd highest wicket taker in India’s last assignment (T20 World Cup) this is a huge call.
  • In Shikha’s absence, the pace responsibility will lie with the veteran Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, and Arundhati Reddy (T20I only)
  • I am most excited to watch India’s spin trio—Poonam Yadav, the T20 World Cup star,, Radha Yadav, and Rajeshwari Gayakwad. The youngster, Harleen Deol, impressed in the T20 Challenge with the Trailblazers and might get more opportunities to showcase her talent on the international stage.

South Africa: Ample Fast Bowling Resources, but Spin the Concern

  • The allrounder, Marizanne Kapp, is the glue that holds South Africa’s together. In the Player of the Match performance in the 2nd ODI against Pakistan, she scored an unbeaten 68 along with 3-44 as the opening pace bowler. Brilliant.
  • Shabnam Ismail is one of the best fast bowlers on women’s cricket circuit at the moment. South Africa’s highest wicket taker in both ODIs and T20Is, she will be key to South Africa’s success.
  • Without regular captain and off-spinner van Niekerk, South Africa’s spin bowling department is the concern.
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The Broken Dream

India: Shikha Pandey & Veda Krishnamurthy

  • Along with Mandhana, Raj, & Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy caught the public’s eye in the 2017 ODI World Cup as India’s finisher. Yet, an ODI average of 25.9 & T20I average of 18.61 was not justifiable. Hopefully this is just a short term loss of form, and she we come roaring back soon.
  • Harmanpreet Kaur insisted that Pandey was ‘rested, not dropped‘ in order to experiment with the rest of the squad for upcoming tournaments. I do not buy this statement given a 18-member squad was picked regardless and that India has not played any international cricket for over a year.

South Africa: Masabata Klaas

  • South Africa are carrying a settled squad, with the exception of Klass. She suffered a last-minute injury in the Pakistan series and has not been picked for this series.

Prediction

Verdict: 3-2 South Africa (ODIs) & 2-1 India (T20Is)

South Africa’s top order and fast bowlers should give them the edge in the ODIs. Expect competitive games with scores around 225-250.

I am going with India 2-1 for the T20I series. The swashbuckling top order of Jemimah, Shafali, and Mandhana may be too much to handle for South Africa. India should look to bat first, put up a decent score, and let the spin trio handle the rest.

Let us know your thoughts on India Vs South Africa Women, and the eventual scorelines.

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My Starting XIs

These are my starting XIs (assuming everyone is available in terms of COVID and injuries).

ODI

India

  1. Jemimah Rodrigues, 2. Smriti Mandhana, 3. Priya Punia, 4. Mithali Raj*, 5. Harmanpreet Kaur, 6. Deepti Sharma, 7. Sushma Verma (WK), 8. Jhulan Goswami, 9. Poonam Yadav, 10. Mansi Joshi, 11. Rajeshwari Gayakwad

South Africa

  1. Lizelle Lee, 2. Laura Wolvaardt, 3. Sune Luus (C), 4. Lara Goodall, 5. Mignon du Preez , 6. Marizanne Kapp, 7. Trisha Chetty (WK), 8. Shabnim Ismail, 9. Nondumiso Shangase, 10. Ayabonga Khaka, 11. Nonkululeo Mlaba

*captain

T20I

India

  1. Shafali Verma, 2. Smriti Mandhana, 3. Jemimah Rodrigues, 4. Harmanpreet Kaur*, 5. Deepti Sharma, 6. Sushma Verma (WK), 7. Richa Ghosh, 8. Radha Yadav, 9. Poonam Yadav, 10. Mansi Joshi/Arundhati Reddy, 11. Rajeshwari Gayakwad/Harleen Deol

South Africa

  1. Lizelle Lee, 2. Tazmin Brits, 3.Marizanne Kapp, 4. Laura Wolvaardt, 5. Sune Luus (C), 6. Sinalo Jafta (WK), 7. Mignon du Preez,, 8. Shabnim Ismail, 9. Nondumiso Shangase, 10. Ayabonga Khaka, 11. Nonkululeo Mlaba

The Squads

India: (ODIs) Punam Raut, Dayalan Hemalatha, Radha Yadav, Yastika Bhatia, Monica Patel, Challuru Pratyusha, Sweta Verma (WK), (T20Is) Ayushi Soni, Nuzhat Parween (WK), Challuru Pratyusha, Monica Patel, Simran Bahadur

South Africa: (ODIs) Tazmin Brits, Anne Bosch, Nadine de Klerk, Sinalo Jafta, Faye Tunnicliffe, (T20Is) Tumi Sekhukune, Faye Tunnicliffe, Lara Goodall, Nadine de Klerk, Trisha Chetty

Copyright (2021: 3/6/2021)– @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – bcd@brokokencricketdreams.com

Image Courtesy: Shikha Pandey – Bahnfrend, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons