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Gurlivleen Grewal

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Joined January 2015

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Supporting a team is a sacrilege I try my best to avert. We are perishing for want of wonder, not want of wonders. Akin to the amount of cricket we are having. Bad beats only happen to good players.

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Chris, not all people say so. Few do explicitly. Few put it like Aus should have picked Short, Lynn or India are missing Pant and that other teams are playing cricket from an older generation – essentially not appreciating that such talent in a long batting line up is rare.

Coming to your point that these methods work only on consistent pitches – it is true but misses half of the story. Even on such pitches – which one finds quite often in Aus, Ind, UAE, NZ, Even in SA – teams didn’t use to go so hard – because they don’t have such long batting line ups and don’t have the skills. And ofc I agree that better bowling attacks are there and even on flatbeds they would pose to them their biggest challenge.

Uber-flat English pitches would mar World Cup

England is tremendous to be scoring at such pace. For those, who think it is not a huge feat, not only they have skill but they are fearless – a combination that makes them exceptional. People tend to forget the exceptional skill part – Guys like Sehwag, Gayle, Jayasuriya, Gibbs, Hayden and plenty of other great players couldn’t match this tempo. The parts of the ground they access so as to beat the field restrictions is a feat in itself. The lack of fear comes from a strong team culture and from being a part of the longest batting line up. So belittling them as mindless sloggers is idiotic, biased or untrained.

But then are they are not unbeatable. Not all bowling attacks are equal. Ind, SA, Aus and I presume with such a good preparation Pakistan would ask very good questions of this lineup. And the pitches are expected to be drier and the conditions to be hot – so it wouldn’t be all flatbeds.

Also, the success of England has come in bilateral series, where teams are not at full strength. England are yet to face an injury-free/full strength line up of top 5 teams. I don’t think their success in WC is a given.

For the team to win the WC, I don’t think it is essential to copy this new approach of England primarily because no other country has such talent peaking in unison. Expecting a bunch of players, who are hacking it in T20s to provide such consistent success is churlish. The other top teams should stick to their strengths – low-risk top order batting followed by explosive lower orders, safe catching and well-balanced attack containing high pace and wrist spin.

Uber-flat English pitches would mar World Cup

Strengths aptly put. Few other things to add.

Weakness – lack of plans – it shows in Kohli’s IPL team, it shows in intl selection and strategy. Kohli is highly influenced by Dhoni who is a strong opponent of working on match-ups or plans. They still haven’t figured out why Jadhav lost his mojo in last 2 games (bowling arm etc), which bowler is a threat and should be played out, what movement is hampering Rahul etc. Shastri is just a you can do it, you are the best, yes man!
Then is Kuldeep’s confidence – He has made decent comebacks from putdowns before but not picking up wickets and getting a boot from a ^&*^% IPL team could be tough to swallow.

Opportunities – If the conditions are dry, hot – conditions like CT-17, the bowling attack becomes very potent, and their middle order weakness will get alleviated too.

Threats – New ball attacks of SA, Aus can potentially dent the top-heavy batting line up. Injuries cloud over Jadhav.

A SWOT analysis of India's World Cup mission

He has played about 10 innings in internationals in 2018 where he was given a decent enough space to maneuver the innings. So he wasn’t explicitly selected as a finisher, more like what is needed and what to expect off him. Barring one decent performance, he has had a tough time knowing whom, when and how much to attack. Even in IPL, he has failed to close out 98% won matches. Mind you AbD didn’t close out matches either – many a time SA suffered in chases. So there is value of such a player, who can counter attack but he is nowhere close in technique.
Even his test innings in England, Aus series started with shovels, hacks – he doesn’t trust his technique enough and/or isn’t temperamentally strong enough and/or doesn’t know how to weigh the risk – either way not suited right now for roles in the top order. So doesn’t it make sense to give him a role when the bowlers are under pressure, they tend to contain?
I wouldn’t go by the talk of team-mates or the ever-exuberant commentators about closers, finishers. Once he gets a good enough success rate at that position, he’ll bail out the team at 60/4 once or twice and then if he is also performing in tests, he’ll get the role at no 4. Even Raina got that! For him to open – few alternatives have to fail big – Gill, Shaw etc.

Is Rishabh Pant getting pigeonholed into a finisher role?

I don’t think he can disappear, people have seen quite a lot of him already. He is clearly cut above for domestic level – the likes of Saurav, Laxman, Hayden didn’t go away after failing. And he gets to bat wherever he likes for Delhi in domestic cricket. It is up to him, if he performs well in tests he will be given an even longer rope akin to what Rohit, Dhawan and now Rahul is enjoying.

I think this test with fire will only help in improving his awareness and maturity. And post WC, plenty of positions should open – this longevity of Dhawan keeps amazing me, then there are obvious middle order births.

I get your point – could he be an opener or no 4? His technique and temperament suggest he isn’t there yet. So perhaps he can move up ala Sehwag after gaining some experience.

Is Rishabh Pant getting pigeonholed into a finisher role?

Your assertion seems correct, people desperately want to have a like for like replacement of Dhoni. But isn’t batting at 4 require equal amount of levelheadedness as that of a finisher? Pant in his limited experience in ODI, IT20s tends to come out as someone not mature enough to read the situation as well as Dhoni. Mind you how many guys can you name who were ever as good as Dhoni was?

His training as finisher will only mature him for either roles? You first learn how to pace it for 5 overs, then learn to do it for 20. It will still require playing attacking cricket as per his natural instincts but he will know whom to attack and when to play percentage, unlike his knocks now.

Is Rishabh Pant getting pigeonholed into a finisher role?

Easy dude. Too many personal shots. IPL is a high pressure situation on pitches that suit the batters. How a bowler performs in these tough situations or a young guy bats in such situations peaks lot more than meaningless than sub 20 average of Lokie vs Srl, Pak, WI and 50+ average vs top 4 sides in the world. The rankings don’t calculate value of contribution. Kane on the other hand hasn’t played consistently in IPL, he has sacrificed his batting position too. So no unlike your inflated biases, I like to use nuance.
IPL just happens to have more proportion of best cricketers in the world playing the competition and so it is not a personal bias but the standard of cricket and professionalism is a notch higher that other leagues and of course a notch lower than true International cricket. You seem to have a personal bias against it though.
I referred to the India series and IPL because these are the matches he has played recently and I couldn’t agree with your assertion of him getting better and better with games. He hadn’t performed well against top 4 earlier and couldn’t even now. Anyway he was playing in dysfunctional team in IPL but the India series wasn’t good either.

Smith and Warner return as Australia pip New Zealand

Not an obvious bad decision or anything of that sort. Hazlewood wasn’t bowling well for quite some time before the injury and the pitches aren’t expected to be spicy either. Have to trust the selectors that they would have seen his performance and made this call. Kane on the other hand picks up wickets (goes for runs too) but can be a wicket taking option on flatter surfaces and bowls at the start and middle and death. His batting, fielding isn’t shabby either.

Jhye Richardson ruled out of Cricket World Cup

I think all of us missed one thing – is Starc riled up against Smith or Smith is struggling or man is he again reaching his peak? He was starting to bowl pretty well against Srl.

Smith and Warner return as Australia pip New Zealand

It is not just IPL form, see his numbers since the last WC across ODIs, across 3 IPLs. He can’t bowl tight lines and lengths and with his pace dropping to early 130s there is nothing to threaten. The balls in shorter formats doesn’t swing (late start, ideal weather conditions), they barely seam for 5 overs. Nobody denies his prowess until last WC but even his rewards in tests against quality teams have gone south since.

Smith and Warner return as Australia pip New Zealand

Agree. But Henry is a better bat and as good a fielder as Southee. And if you see his numbers and more than that how rarely he leads the attack, he should be nowhere near the team. The guy can’t bowl tight lines and lengths let alone pieces of brilliance.

Smith and Warner return as Australia pip New Zealand

Hate to write a Warnesque comment but he is too soft for a fast bowler? Given he bowls 150+ first ball – he relies too much on his slower balls variety to be an out and out quick ala Bond, Starc, Lee. Yes pace gets hit and he would be taken for 20+ runs but there is a fine balance say what Cummins does in the middle overs – still relying on pace, line, bit of seam. His bowling vs the Indians and in the IPL didn’t give any inclinations that he is a threat.

Smith and Warner return as Australia pip New Zealand

The only times I have seen Khawaja perform (5 or 6) is when no one expects much of him and/or the team. Say when Finch’s form was so bad that the spotlight was firmly on him and with no Waner, Aus tour of UAE, last test of Ashes etc. And it might be coincidence that he didn’t get going at home in tests. But as part of very successful units he has also performed vs SA, NZ, little pressure that is, quite young in his career et al.

I might be wrong in connecting a dots of coincidences or that he is finally at another level but in crisis the teams tend to revert to what they know and this WC is expected to be a fiercely fought one.

Smith and Warner return as Australia pip New Zealand

I would predict by game 5 of the tournament Khawaja won’t be part of playing 11.

Smith and Warner return as Australia pip New Zealand

Have seen enough of Southee to say – unless it is hooping around, he ll be a major liability even in the first 5. His bowling at death or in the middle overs are just pedestrian. Was shocked to see how poorly he was bowling in IPL – for last 3 years now and his record in ODIs has gone true south since 15 WC.

Smith and Warner return as Australia pip New Zealand

Good analysis Paul. Seems like Aus, NZ have gotten the best draw and India’s is polar opposite with all tough games scheduled at the start. England’s is not bad either – couple of tough games at the start and then finish with 3 tough games with a settled, playing-well 11. But then it all depends on what one prefers. I would like a NZ, SA draw – tough and easier games all along.

Perhaps could add the grounds analysis as a follow-up article. Whether the teams are playing tougher opposition on “friendlier”, “home” pitches. Scheduling in a bit more detail.

There is still a rest period of 2 days in between knockouts and group stages so don’t think the teams should mind that. But England, NZ are in a great position with ample rest, planning. One thing for sure though though with this format the semis would start with no clear favorites.

How does the draw affect teams in the World Cup?

Glad you are recognizing the English spinners. A while back we were having a discussion if they are that good! ????
Zampa and Cummins give a definite edge to the Aussies in the middle. I don’t expect Starc to be on song – he has returned from injuries a couple of times and always had underwhelming returns. Warner and now Finch have proven to be better tacticians than Smith. The spinners were doing well even under Warner too.
Spinners thrive on confidence and every now and then a wicket-taker will have an off day. Kohli has been guilty of jettisoning the leggies in the past, the punt on Jadeja is very similar to the treatment to Zampa. In fact “Experts” now think KulCha won’t play together! SA have come around to this too – expect both Tahir and Shamsi to play if the conditions are suitable. So even though Lyon seemingly struggles in batting friendly conditions, the Aussies should bank on the duo to trouble all teams. Lyon is good enough to fox decent right handers and is a handful against lefties.
Interestingly these 4 teams are also the most favoured to be semi-finalists.

Zampa is the key to Australia's World Cup attack

Pretty spot on with the analysis, I think. SA has the most in-form bowling group – the injury concerns to 3 pace bowlers notwithstanding, they are expected to recover.

However, I am not optimistic about their batting – The nuance of when to go hard and when to take ownership is not part of their routine – even ABD wasn’t really good at it. It is a difficult balance – they gave so many opportunities to multiple players that everybody was playing for their place and apparently going conservatively. Then Faf urged them to just go for it – I am not sure the players have the temperament and big game experience to pull it off. Not picking Morris is a big miss too.

Agree about WI, Pak, NZ. Whilst NZ has a decent overall batting and bowling group – the bowling apart from Boult is a worry – the way Southee has been bowling for last 2 years, the lack of penetration from the all-rounders, steady but relatively unthreatening spin options. Batting wise, again a good group but would they be able to push into top 4?

The four teams that will reach the Cricket World Cup semi-finals

From the outside, it seems Mortaza is a good leader, doesn’t shy away from responsibility and he was up for election too – career switches at a great pace. I hope he can pull this team together. On paper and on the basis of form, I expect them to struggle and make the bottom 3.

While winning at home is a priority for every team – their strategy of sidelining fast bowlers entirely from their setup isn’t going to make them a force. With the new FTP coming in place, they should start getting more matches abroad and should change their balance away from spin. Like every team, they have players who can play a blinder on their day, but to reach the semis – one needs consistent performances. Anyways, the closer the competition the better this particular format of round-robin matches of WC will be.

My Cricket World Cup squad: Bangladesh

Gunratne showed good promise like 2 years or so ago and now he doesn’t get a consistent run. Was injured and now I read it again? The selectors have been really shabby. Case in the point is also that Chandimal should not be near any cricket squad playing outside the subcontinent, let alone shorter formats.

Dhananjay Silva, Tharanga have been given opportunities on a platter and I am surprised the former hasn’t lived up to the hype. At least his bowling is keeping him in. They should move on from Tharanga -he hasn’t shown any promise on his comeback. Gunathalika should pip Tharanga. Guna was serviceable before the ban. Not consistent, but the potential to provide a quick start and a bide-your-time 40. I am not sure about the next opener – Dickwalla is just poor, Kusal Perera should bat in the middle, he is vulnerable at the top. Have to go with Dilmuth? Or can punt with Samarawickrama.

Oshada Fernando also looks good – as good as Srl has now. If somehow Chandimal is picked over him, it would be real shame.

Players like Siriwarda, Dhananjay, Gunaratne should have been given more of a consistent run. They showed potential against quality opposition. It doesn’t seem like there is such a dearth of talent that Srl can’t win an ODI like forever.

Captiancy – We, of course, have no clue about the team dynamics but the games of nearly all player barring Thisara have gone downhill. Mathews seems to be the only candidate for captaincy but we can’t expect one sensible decision from SLC. I think they can make Malinga the captain and he can work with Mathews to get something out of this team.

Coming to bowlers – the team is perhaps the bottom 3 going into WC. Any idea why Senanayake is no longer an option? He has been cleared off his ban long back.

I would try to sneak in Gunathalika, Oshada and perhaps show faith in Gunaratne. Pick one off Samaarwickrama and Dilmuth. And for heaven’s sake, wouldn’t pick Tharanga, Chandimal. Perhaps drop Dickwella from the squad and have only Perrera as the preferred keeper but he might prefer to just bat and at the moment his batting warrants him the choice. So Oshada can come in for Dickwella.

For the sake of cricket, I just hope Hathurusingha, Malinga and Mathews get the best out of this lot. The SLC bosses though aren’t going to make it any easier. I though peg Srl to fight with Bang for the bottom.

My Sri Lanka World Cup squad

There is a problem in reading too much into performances out of T20. No T20 side boasts 4/5 intl quality bowlers – and the weaker bowlers come to bowl in the 7-10 overs. Technically

Warner seems to be suited than Khawaja (for whom the old issues of starting against spin could resurface) but Warner is a better bet at the top order too. The WC presents 2 relatively easier games against Afg, WI at the start – so that should help.

Prediction wise, I see Khawaja reverting to the inconsistent mediocrity, come the big stage. And then pushing Warner to open. Ind, SA, Eng have similar problems – all the best batters prefer to open. All teams have experimented to keep the same group and tried those options in the middle order, albeit unsuccessfully, not giving promising mid order players enough of the time and now both Ind, SA has underwhelming Middle order options as a result.

Warner can flourish in middle order at World Cup

Anything is possible doesn’t mean equally probable. When people make predictions, only the fools would add certainty to the event. The chances that Australia would win at least one ODI is a cool 80%+. If you do the math that is and it is not an “Upset” by definition.

If you are interested in Math rather than hunches – The chance that India would win all matches is arrived by multiplying their winning probabilities – ie WWWWW = 0.7*0.7*0.7*0.65*0.65 = 0.145 = 14.5% (here assuming India are strong starting favorites at 70% and will give their bench strength more chances as the series progressed, thus starting at 65%) . So in 100-14.5% ie 85.5% Aus would win at least 1 match.

PS – 70%-30% is huge favorite in cricket when 2 top-6 teams are playing. Eloquent writing, just an issue with Math.

Australia wins ODI series: Anything now officially possible

Context in stats. I agree Ronan, it doesn’t help Aus at all.

Insane ODI fixturing has cruelled Australia

True that. It should be like Ind-Srl and it wouldn’t be lopsided like that either.

Insane ODI fixturing has cruelled Australia

The schedule hamstrings BCCI – there are windows for each series, and one has to adhere to it. And IPL has given many players a chance on the big stage. No Bumrah without IPL, just an ex. Also, others have gotten better in performing under pressure – so with the good comes the bad.

But I hope they can push for an appropriate schedule for the players. There was talk about resting the fast bowlers, but the talks haven’t materialized into anything concrete yet. Kohli too was making the right noises. ECB is so good at it that the clubs complain they have no say, once they get the guidance from the national team.

More than injuries, I think influence in process tends to hamper a player. Different temperament, different goals of T20 etc. Players like Rohit, Dhawan are esp. vulnerable – their teams rely heavily on them and that bogs down the freedom with which they usually play. For Intl, players, not getting game time, or inconsistent appearances don’t help. If the bowlers come out with their confidence intact, it could help them perform at the WC. So again, good, bad, whatever.

The Cricket World Cup favourites are shaping up, but does it actually mean anything?