West Indies vs India 2019: 3 major takeaways f…

Virat Kohli

Post the massive heartbreaks and the absolute stunner of a final in the World Cup where England were crowned champions, it is back to the grind for all teams across the globe. The focus will be on putting behind what happened in the World Cup while keeping an eye on the future.

With the ICC Test Championships expected to start soon, all Tests starting from the India vs Windies matches and the Ashes will have even more value and significance. Every match and result matters a lot; bilateral Test series are only going to get more enthralling and exciting.

As far as limited overs matches are concerned, there’s a lot to play for as the T20 World Cup is around the corner. All the teams would look to have a strong focus on building a unit that remains fresh and can perform to the best of their abilities in T20Is.

The squads for India’s tour of West Indies starting from 3 August 2019 were announced yesterday. There were a lot of ripples created by the announcement, not least of which was the big news that MS Dhoni had opted out of the tour to serve the Indian Army for two months.

MS Dhoni

Chief selector MSK Prasad did mention that Dhoni is no longer the first-choice wicket-keeper for India, and that Rishabh Pant is going to be the first choice wicket-keeper across formats from now on. Apart from Dhoni not featuring in this tour, here are some of the major takeaways from the squads announced:

1. India with a full-strength Test squad look to retain the #1 ranking

India had the option of resting some of their key players for the two-match series against the Windies. Keeping in mind the amount of cricket their players have played in recent times, right from the IPL to the World Cup, it was widely expected that some key members – especially the ones who feature in all three squads – would be rested.

But given the emphasis on retaining the #1 ranking in Test cricket and also to boost their chances in the ICC Test Championship, India have named a full-strength squad to take on the Windies. The return of Test specialists like Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravichandran Ashwin is a good sign for India.

India would want to continue their dominance in the test match format

Led by Virat Kohli, one can expect strong intensity from India and for the standard of cricket to be high. There are a few things that should arouse the interest of fans such as:

1. How will the returning Shikhar Dhawan fare as an opener? Who will his opening partner be – KL Rahul or Mayank Agarwal?

2. Ravichandran Ashwin recently had a very productive county stint with Nottinghamshire . Can he replicate that form against the Windies?

3. How will Rishabh Pant fare in his first series as the designated first choice wicket-keeper, ahead of Wriddhiman Saha?

2. Some bemusing selections for the ODI team

Kedar Jadhav’s selection in the ODI team is a little bemusing

More than a billion dreams were shattered when India crashed out of the World Cup in the semi-finals against New Zealand. But it was a pretty commanding and dominating campaign for India until then; the fans who are going all out in criticizing their team’s performance should keep in mind that India ended at the top of the table in the league stages.

Despite a fairly solid World Cup, there were some clear blemishes and areas of concern that needed addressing such as:

– The number 4 slot conundrum.

– Back-up for Jasprit Bumrah in the death overs.

– The fragility of the middle-order.

It looks like the selectors still haven’t got a clear idea of the areas where the team needs to improve. They have gone with Kedar Jadhav for the 3-match ODI series against the Windies, despite his role being very muddled; he barely bowled any overs in the World Cup.

Why exactly is Jadhav still in the ODI mix? Is he going be the backup spin option in case Ravindra Jadeja has an off day with the ball?

Even more perplexing is the exclusion of Shubman Gill, who has been in piping hot form for India A recently (averaging 49.76 in five matches with three fifties). The selectors have gone in with Manish Pandey to strengthen the middle-order instead of the talented 19-year-old.

Shubman Gill

A series immediately after a tournament like the World Cup is the right opportunity to get fresh talent into the squad. As such, the inclination of going in with the experience of Jadhav and Pandey is surprising.

3. The T20I squad looks strong and focused on building a team for the T20 World Cup

Bhuvneshwar Kumar will lead an inexperienced bowling attack in the T20Is

The clear focus in the selection of players for the three-match T20I series against Windies seems to be the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia. A lot of fresh, young faces who have impressed in IPL for their respective franchises have made it into the team.

Players like Navdeep Saini (RCB), Deepak Chahar (CSK), Rahul Chahar (MI), Krunal Pandya (MI) and Washington Sundar (RCB) have been promoted to represent their country now.

Krunal Pandya

This team is extremely talented and experienced in its top order with Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli. The middle order looks potentially explosive but with players who haven’t yet set the stage ablaze for India in the opportunities they have received thus far.

The bowling lineup with Bhuvneshwar Kumar being the most experienced player can be a cause for concern. With flat pitches and an inexperienced set of bowlers to fall back on like Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed and Krunal Pandya, it’s going to be an interesting T20I series.

With the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal rested, this is the perfect opportunity for the others to make a mark.


World Cup 2019: Match 43, Pakistan v Banglades…

Pakistan players celebrating a wicket

It’s never easy being a Pakistan Cricket fan. They have been exhilarating on some occasions and completely toothless on others. It is that lack of consistency that has all but cost them a chance to make it to the semi-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

After a humiliating performance against the Windies and their arch-rivals India, they bounced back to convincingly defeat South Africa and New Zealand. They had a very close finish against Afghanistan, a result that kept their hopes alive.

It was some sight to see Pakistan fans supporting India against England when the entire nation hoped India or New Zealand would beat the Three Lions. However, consecutive victories for the hosts has almost taken the Men in Green out of the equation.

They will be taking on a team whose stocks in cricket circles have increased tremendously – Bangladesh. The spirit, confidence and fearlessness by which Bangladesh have gone about their business in this tournament has truly impressed one and all. They have backed their abilities and have been among the better players of the short ball this season.

Batsmen like Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim and the impeccable Shakib Al Hasan have been fantastic. The latter especially, is hitting the ball like no one else. Being the first-ever player to amass more than 500 runs and claim over 10 wickets in a single WC season, Shakib almost kept Bangladesh’s hopes for the semi-finals alive, single-handedly.

In Match 43 of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, it’s going to be a mega battle between two Asian giants. Both teams have got nothing to lose.

Pakistan on the other hand have a very slim chance of making World Cup history if they win against Bangladesh. Should they bowl first, they will automatically be ruled out of the tournament. Making it to the knockout phases only remains a mathematical possibility, as Pakistan will have to beat the Bangla Tigers by more than 316 runs.

Going by the current form of their bowlers like Mohammed Amir and Shaheeen Afridi, we expect Pakistan to come out as winners in this clashBangladesh have been firing on all cylinders with the bat but their bowling has been a big let-down, apart from Shakib Al Hasan, of course.

Pakistan have lot to play for, mainly for their fans who have stood by them. This World Cup has had eerie co-incidences with their 1992 World Cup campaign but that will end after their last league game against Bangladesh. As the writing on the wall is very clear – they cannot go on to repeat what Imran Khan’s men did 27 years back.

Pakistan have added incentive to beat Bangladesh at the iconic home of Cricket, Lord’s. In their only encounter in a World Cup, Bangladesh handed Pakistan a 62-run defeat. Revenge and pride both, will be on the cards for Sarfaraz Ahmed and co.

World Cup 2019, Match 41: England vs New Zeala…

England will start as favorites to win today’s game and get into the semis

England and New Zealand both are in similar situations as they get ready to face off in a virtual knock out match today. Courtesy of their performances heading into this match at the Riverside, Durham, New Zealand must win this to have a good chance of making it to the semi-finals.

England, on the other hand, had a rude shock with two back to back losses before the most anticipated game of the tournament against India. Jason Roy returned as the opener and clearly that proved to be a magic tonic. The intent and early acceleration was clearly visible as the openers, Roy and Jonny Bairstow, took off.

They ensured that India’s bowlers, especially their spinners, never settled. As a result of that, the batting lineup that struggled against Sri Lanka and Australia (barring Ben Stokes, who looked good even in those games) seemed far more at ease- signifying the importance of Jason Roy and the starts he provides.

New Zealand received a tapping from Australia. People were reminded of the Australia of the early 2000s, such was their ruthlessness. It seems pretty evident that they are way too dependent on Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor to do the bulk of the scoring. If they fail, the team tends to struggle.

England enjoy playing at Chester Le-Street, Durham. They have lost just one of their last eight games played on this venue. Also, Jonny Bairstow has an impressive average of 77 against the Kiwis, and this would boost him further, after a fantastic century against India that set up a win for his side to allow them to stay alive in the tournament.

England’s bowling, with the inclusion of Liam Plunkett in place of Moeen Ali, had more potency. They attacked from the start and kept piling on the pressure right through the innings. With all their bowlers fit and raring to go, it would be hard for New Zealand to negotiate them.

Overall, keeping in mind the performances in the past few games and the fact that New Zealand are way too dependent on one man-Kane Williamson, England should be favorites to win this crucial contest. With Jason Roy and Liam Plunkett in the side, it looks well balanced and their weaknesses can be overlooked.

Also read – Highest Individual Score in World cup

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World Cup 2019, Match 40, India vs Bangladesh:…

India will look to bounce back against the Bangla Tigers

India had their first real test against England and floundered. Their spin bowling duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal were taken to the cleaners and the death bowling apart from Jasprit Bumrah struggled to make an impact. Mohammed Shami despite his inconsistent bowling took a five-wicket haul.

India’s loss to England keeps the host nation in the tournament and has India thinking about probable team combinations and selections. They take on a vastly improved and talented Bangladesh at Edgbaston, Birmingham in Match 40 of the World Cup tomorrow, July 2, 2019.

A lot of questions need answering as far as India are concerned heading into the Bangladesh game:

  1. Do they want to continue with Rishabh Pant at #4? Or is it time to give the experienced and proven Dinesh Karthik a go.
  2. With Vijay Shankar ruled out of the World Cup with a toe injury, it is high time India bring in Ravindra Jadeja to provide the overall balance the team is seeking. Will he get a look in?
  3. If Kedhar Jadhav isn’t bowling his brand of slow off spinners, in his current batting form he doesn’t deserve another chance. Or will he still be persisted with?
  4. Is it time to bring in Bhuvneshwar Kumar into the playing XI? He is fit and can add a lot to the team in the beginning and at the death overs.

Looking at their performance against England, India must consider opening their innings with Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant. No one can deny the importance of Rohit Sharma to India’s World Cup campaign, he has hit three hundreds already.

KL Rahul seemed to be in some discomfort against England so it won’t be too surprising if he is asked to go out and express himself from the word go. The middle-order should ideally consist of Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik or KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja. Kedhar Jadhav on the current form doesn’t deserve a spot in the playing XI.

India lacked incisiveness in the middle overs against England and their bowling crumbled against the English assault in the death overs. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have stood tall in this World Cup. Mohammed Shami has taken 13 wickets in three games.

With Bangladesh smart players of spin, is it time to break ‘Kulcha’ and get in Bhuvneshwar Kumar to add stability and potency to the bowling attack? It is pretty evident that one of Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal will be dropped after the game against England.

India’s Probable Playing XI: Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Virat Kohli©, KL Rahul/ Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni(wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah.

Key Players for India when they take on Bangladesh at Edgbaston, Birmingham:

  1. Rohit Sharma has been in sublime form this World Cup. He has been pivotal in India’s surge with the bat. He has been criticized for throwing away some solid starts in the past, but not this time. He has got three hundreds so far and looked very scratchy against England and will look to get back to fine touch against Bangladesh.
  2. The #1 ranked batsman and bowler in ODI cricket, Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah will be crucial to India’s hopes. With India’s middle-order very scratchy and lacking clarity, Virat Kohli has to convert his 60’s and 70’s into bigger scores into centuries.

Jasprit Bumrah stands in a league of his own and has been backed very well by Mohammed Shami. But the spinners haven’t been as successful as expected, so the onus lies on Bumrah’s shoulders to provide the breakthrough India seeks in any given situation.

World Cup 2019, Match 37, Australia vs New Zea…

A confident Australia take on the Kiwis in the Trans-Trasman rivalry’s newest chapter

Australia are the only team to have made their way into the semifinals and will be high on confidence as they gear up to take on New Zealand in the 37th fixture of the World Cup 2019 at Lord’s in London.

The defending champions seem to have found the perfect team combination, at the back of their comfortable win against England. With Jason Behrendorff’s 5 for 44, Australia have found an able backup for Mitchell Starc and Patt Cummins. Although Nathan Lyon didn’t strike against England, he managed to keep a tight lid on the scoring.

They will be up against New Zealand in the home of cricket, Lord’s Cricket Stadium, London today. A new chapter in their rivalry is set to be written in spectacular setting- only the second day-night match to be played at this iconic ground.

New Zealand would want to put behind the disappointment from their defeat against Pakistan. They were outclassed by an inspired outfit which was ably guided by Shaheen Afridi and Babar Azam’s individual brilliance.

Australia should stick with the successful opening combination of David Warner and Aaron Finch. They have the privilege and luxury of having the top two scorers in this World Cup in their side- David Warner (500 runs) followed by Aaron Finch (496 runs).

The solid platform usually set by the deadly opening combination allows the middle-order comprising of Steven Smith, Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Alex Carey to finish off innings well. Something that hasn’t happened as yet, the middle order have quandered some fine starts.

The major issue has been the inability of middle order batsmen to capitalize on the starts they get. And power hitters Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis haven’t delivered up to their potential as yet in this World Cup.

Australia’s bowling is led rather efficiently by Mitchell Starc who leads the list of wicket takers with 19 wickers in this World Cup. His yorker to dismiss Ben Stokes while he was set, has been labeled as the ‘ball of the tournament’. He is supported by Pat Cummins whose out-swingers can be crucial against Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor.

It was an inspired decision to go in with Jason Behrendorff over Nathan Couler-Nile against England. The move paid rich dividends as the left arm swinger proved his worth by procuring his first five-fer in ODI cricket. Considering the fact that Australia take on the Kiwis at Lord’s, he will definitely share the new ball with Mitchell Starc.

Finally, Nathan Lyon with his gile and accuracy makes for some tough scoring especially for left-handers. Lyon would fancy himself against the Kiwis who have three left-handed batsmen in the mix.

Australia Predicted Playing XI:

Aaron Finch©, David Warner, Steven Smith, Usman Khawaja, Glen Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey(wk), Mitchell Starc, Patt Cummins, Jason Behrendorff and Nathan Lyon.

Here are all the major stats and numbers ahead of the Trans-Tasman clash at Lord’s:

– Australia have a far superior head to head record in World Cups against the Kiwis. In ten games they have won seven times. And they would look to make that eight today.

– Mitchell Starc enjoys bowling against New Zealand. He has taken eighteen wickets in eight ODI’s against them. Not many cricket fans can forget his 6/21 in the group stages of the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

– Ross Taylor has amassed 973 runs against Australia. He has managed to do that only in 25 ODIs where he has hit six fifties and two tons.

– Kane Williamson has scored 5968 runs in his ODI career from 138 games . If the Kiwi skipper scores those 32 runs in the next two ODI innings, he will become the 3rd fastest to reach the milestone. The fastest to 6000 ODI runs among Kiwi players is Martin Guptill – 157 games.

Key Players for Australia –

David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc and Patt Cummins.

Key Players for New Zealand –

Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Lockie Ferguson and Trent Boult.

World Cup 2019, Match 34, India vs West Indies…

India v Afghanistan – ICC Cricket World Cup 2019

India got off to rollicking start in World Cup 2019, convincingly defeating Pakistan, South Africa and Australia. But on a gripping, slow pitch that assisted spinners, they were put to the sword against the Afghanistan team.

The Afghan spin trio of Mujeeb Ur Rehman, Rashid Khan and Mohammed Nabi had India on the mat in the first innings. Apart from Virat Kohli, no one looked capable of taking the attack to the opposition.

India will look to come up with a stronger and more determined performance after such a close game against Afghanistan. Jasprit Bumrah’s double strike followed by Mohammed Shami’s hat-trick meant India won by 11 runs, and the management would be hoping that the struggle was nothing more than a blip.

They now will be up against a Windies team who nearly pulled off a miracle against the Kiwis. Carlos Brathwaite’s unbelievable century went in vain by just 5 runs, but the emotions, drama and behavior of the Kiwis post the game summed up why cricket is such a popular sport.

Based on how India and West Indies have fared thus far, here are two factors that make India clear favorites in the game today:

1. India’s batting line-up has too much firepower for the Windies bowling attack

West Indies’s lone front line spinner will have to shoulder lot of responsibility

India’s batting has been fantastic when they have been up against fast bowling or attacks dominated by fast bowlers. On the other hand, they have been found wanting against quality spin bowling on pitches that aid them.

This West Indies bowling attack comprising Jason Holder, Kemar Roach, Sheldon Cottrell, Carlos Brathwaite and Ashley Nurse is pretty good, and can be very effective on their day. But the homogeneous nature of their attack barring Cottrell will play into India’s hands.

West Indies would need the services of the “Universe Boss” Chris Gayle, as the off-spinner along with Nurse can slow things down in the middle overs. But if India play out the early threat that Cottrell and Holder pose, that could make a serious dent in West Indies’ plans.

Everyone has seen how the Indian team performs once Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli get going. West Indies would want to avoid that from happening.

2. India’s bowling attack led by Jasprit Bumrah looks in supreme form

India’s bowling attack led by the #1 ranked ODI bowler

India’s bowling lineup has multiple dimensions to it. They are probably the most complete of the bowling attacks in this World Cup.

There is certainly no let-up for opposition batsmen at any point. If the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami don’t get you then the spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will.

West Indies, who rely on Chris Gayle, Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer to score most of their runs, will find it tough to take on the Indian bowlers. The century from Carlos Brathwaite against the Kiwis was a bit of a one-off; the possibility of him repeating that effort today looks slim.

India’s bowling attack led by Bumrah has enormous amount of self-belief and confidence. When Afghanistan were looking like they were running away with the game, Kohli threw the ball to his trusted game-changer Bumrah and the #1 ODI bowler didn’t disappoint.

The odds are stacked against this West Indies batting line-up, which has found it hard to put together a complete game of cricket in this World Cup after the crushing win over Pakistan.

World Cup 2019: New Zealand vs Pakistan – New …

West Indies v New Zealand – ICC Cricket World Cup 2019

New Zealand has been the team to beat during this World Cup. They haven’t lost a single match in this edition so far. They had an washout against India where they would have been tested and pushed to their limits.

But there were signs of concern against the Windies where a marvelous Carlos Brathwaite almost pulled off a win for them when they were nine down with 46 runs to get. The bowlers let some easy runs and the fielding and catching were well below par, despite those being the areas that the Kiwis pride themselves on.

They will be up against a Pakistan team that finally showed up against South Africa with a completely dominating performance. Haris Sohail added life to Pakistan’s campaign with his match-winning at Lord’s. Now they feel they can win and stay alive in this tournament.

New Zealand will most likely stick with their ultra attacking opening combination of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro. Both have been susceptible to the moving ball especially coming from left-arm fast bowlers. Sheldon Cotrell snaffled them early on, they must look to curb their regular instincts and play out the threat an inform Mohammad Amir can cause.

That then allows the prolific duo of Kane Williamsonand Ross Taylor some breathing time than having to bail out the side out of tricky situations always. The middle-order of Jimmy Neesham, Tom Latham, Mitchell Santner and Coin de Grandhomme should stay intact for this clash.

New Zealand have almost got used to Lockie Fergusongetting wickets in the middle overs. And the likes of Trent Boult and Matt Henry striking early. Pakistan certainly need to be cautious against these seamers and not allow them to dominate.

Probable XI: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson ©, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Jimmy Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson.

Some interesting statistics from this game between New Zealand and Pakistan:

  1. Pakistan have dropped the most number of catches in this World Cup- a shocking 14.
  2. Kane Williamson has been in scintillating touch this World Cup, having amassed 373 runs at an astounding average of 186.50.
  3. Wahab Riaz enjoys the World Cup for sure, averaging a brilliant 25.28 in 17 World Cup games, that goes upto a whooping 38.16 otherwise.

Key Players: Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Jimmy Neesham, Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson.