One-Day Mataram

Deconstructing the gentleman's game

A win against Sri Lanka will see India through

For India, the good news from the Sri Lanka V Bangladesh match is that Sri Lanka defeated Bangladesh by a whopping margin of 198 runs. This has caused Bangladesh's Net Run Rate (NRR) to drop down to -2.004. Lets see what this means for India.

Of course, India has to win against Sri Lanka in order to feel fairly secure about qualifying for the next round. But the pressure of scoring a big win against Sri Lanka has been taken out of the equation. Indians can stay at their current NRR or even drop it a notch and yet Bangladesh will find it extremely difficult to go past India in the NRR race.

If India manages a win against Sri Lanka by the narrowest of margins i.e. by hitting the winning run off the last ball (i.e. India chasing) or a win by one run in 50 overs (i.e. India batting first), India's NRR will end up being something close to +1.714. If India wins comfortably i.e. by chasing down the SL score in less than 50 overs or by winning by a bigger run margin, then India's NRR will definitely by more than +1.714.

Taking the least NRR i.e. +1.714, lets see how Bangladesh will have to fare against Bermuda. Bangladesh will have to at least achieve a Net Run Rate of +1.714 after their match against Bermuda in order to pip India to the post (because with NRR tied, the fact that Bangladesh beat India will carry them to the next round, knocking India out of the tournament). Based on the quick calculations I have done on my notepad, if Bermuda bat first, then whatever be the target they set, Bangladesh will not be able to qualify even if they manage to achieve the target in any number of overs! Good news for India, I bet!

Even if Bangladesh bat first and mount an unlikely score of 400 and bundle out Bermuda for 100... or even 50, the Net Run Rate for Bangladesh will not come close to India's NRR of +1.714.

The bottomline is... if India wins against Sri Lanka on Friday, they go through to the Super Eight stage, no matter what heroics Bangladesh manage against Bermuda! If however, India loses its match to Sri Lanka, it still can qualify for the next stage if (and only if) Bermuda pull a miracle out of the blue and beat Bangladesh!

A point to note is... Sri Lanka, obviously, won't need to win (against India) in order to qualify because they've already done that! But a loss to India will mean that Sri Lanka would enter the Super Eight stage without any points... not something that Tom Moody or Mahela Jayawardena would be amused about! ;-)

India's NRR after the Bermuda match

When India bludgeoned 413/5 against Bermuda, there was very little doubt about the fact that the defeat against Bangladesh rankled them. The Indians had to make a statement, not just to their irate fans but also to themselves... a statement of their obvious talent and superiority. And that they did! And in style too.

However when the Indians came in to bowl, they looked a wee undercooked! Zaheer was competent without being destructive. Munaf was his usual patient self. Kumble was accurate as ever while the weakest link in the attack was the bowling of Agarkar. He may have returned with 3 wickets to his name, but he could not find a consistent line or length. That must be a bit of a worry for the Indian camp. Agarkar looked very efficient when he was in the West Indies last year, but this time around he seems to have lost his length a little. But with 3 days to go before the big match day against Sri Lanka, he has time to work on it in the nets.

With the situation as it stands currently, India depends as much on its Net Run Rate (NRR) as it does on an outright victory against Sri Lanka. So lets see what's the Indian Net Run Rate.

The Net Run Rate or NRR is calculated as the difference in the total run rate achieved by you and the total run rate achieved by the opposition against you. In calculating the NRR, if a team is all out, then it is deemed to have played their full quota of 50 overs. Otherwise the actual number of overs played is used in the calculations. The two matches that India have played have had the following results

India (191 all out) lost to Bangladesh (192/5 in 48.3 overs)
India (413/5 in 50 overs) won against Bermuda (156 all out)

So overall, India have scored 191 + 413 = 604 runs in 50 + 50 = 100 overs. So the run rate achieved by India is 604 / 100 = 6.040

At the same time, the opposition have scored 192 + 156 = 348 against India in 48.5 + 50 = 98.5 overs (please note that 48.3 overs actually translates to 48 and half overs and so we take 48.5 in our calculations). So the run rate achieved by the opposition against India is 348 / 98.5 = 3.533

So now, India's Net Run Rate (NRR) after it's match with Bermuda is 6.040 - 3.533 = 2.507 ... which when rounded off to two digits (after decimal the point) is +2.51.

There you go! :)

India Vs Bermuda - Brief Preview

If you look at the India V Bermuda match in isolation, it's a complete mis-match, if ever there was one. However, given the context in which India will start the match today, it assumes greater significance.

To put it simply, India needs to win this match and win it so comprehensively that it's Net Run Rate or NRR (which is currently languishing at -0.14) gets a healthy boost. Only then can the Indian dream, of making it past the first round, stay alive. In fact, stretching Bangladesh till the 48th over ensured that the NRR didn't end up being far worse than it currently is! In a perverse sort of a way, that's a positive as far as India is concerned. Now the Indian team needs to start the climb back and today's match against Bermuda gives them the perfect opportunity to do so.

Looking at the teams, I think Bermuda is so short of experience that it will be difficult to write anything about them. Amongst this motley bunch is David Hemp, who's played for Glamorgan and Warwickshire and is perhaps the one with most experience of competitive cricket. In fact, David Hemp had also toured India way back in 1994-95 with the England A team. Other than Hemp, however, there is hardly anything there to talk about. Perhaps the promising 17-year old Malachi Jones or the considerable Dwayne Leverock. But there is simply nothing much to talk about!

There is a lot, however, to talk about the Indian team! Everyone will have an opinion today... regarding the team composition (should it be 7 batsmen or 6?), the status of Sehwag (should he be in the team at all or if needed should he drop down the order?), the composition of the bowling attack (replace Agarkar for Kumble or get Pathan in?). So I will refrain from making any recommendations.

All I will say is that... whichever team is chosen today, the objective should not be lost sight of! The need to bump up the NRR is the only objective. And hence the toss assumes great significance. India must bat first and score heavily and then knock the Bermudans over cheaply! If Bermuda bats first and goes cheaply, then even a slam-bang approach may not get India up the NRR scale!

Bermuda, on the other hand, will not be too concerned about India's compulsions. What they need to do is to give a good account of themselves if the Bermudan players have to impress some of the English county scouts. So India may have to watch out for some doughty Bermudan resistance. Other than that... I expect a huge Indian win! ... err, and this time I hope there are no disasters!

It was a sad way to go. Alone in a hotel room, in a foreign land, with the shame of defeat hanging over the head. Certainly not the death that should befall anyone.

His passing only serves to remind us that beneath all the hoopla and the bluster around cricket, cricketing rivalries and indeed the importance of winning, cricket is still just a game. We forget this from time to time and it's a shame that unfortunate events like this need to act as alarm bells for us.

For Bob Woolmer, born in Kanpur, India... it has been a long journey. And I daresay, having passed on his cricketing knowledge to the various teams he coached, his journey will continue even after his death.

May his soul rest in peace.

India's path to Super Eight is very difficult

In their loss to an exuberant and bold Bangladesh side, the Indian team (flat and knotted up with tension) created possibly the worst possible scenario for themselves in Group B!

Looking at the remaining matches in the group, one cannot help but notice that India's path to the next round has become difficult... almost impossible! Lets look at a probable scenario with the following results...

India beat Bermuda
Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh
India beat Sri Lanka
Bangladesh beat Bermuda

This would result in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India having 4 points each. But Bangladesh, having beaten India, would be placed above India in the points table. And all would come down to winning margins. For India to be able to qualify for the Super Eights stage, Sri Lanka would need to beat Bangladesh by a narrow margin and India would need beat Sri Lanka by a huge margin. And even this scenario assumes that India beat Bermuda by an obscene margin!

Just going through the above scenario makes it pretty much clear that the probability of it panning out as described is quite low. Given the form they showed against Bangladesh, the assumption that India would beat Sri Lanka (by any sort of margin) requires a big leap of faith! Also, given the form that Sri Lanka are in, it may happen that they beat Bangladesh by a comfortable margin.

Whew! ... India has really painted itself into a corner! And they not only need to play like tigers to get out of that corner, but also keep hoping that other matches follow a pattern favourable for them! An absolutely rare case of ability and hope converging!

But then... as they say... if you believe in something hard enough, the entire universe will conspire to make it happen!

Gibbs hits six sixes in an over

Watching Gibbs go for six sixes in an over was fascinating. I was dropping off to sleep , on and off, when he went for the feat. Three sixes into the over, it was clear what he had in his mind. The last two balls by Dan Van Bunge were deliveries that one wouldn't associate with being hit for sixes (especially in the direction that Gibbs hit them towards). But having decided to go after the record, I am sure he couldn't have cared less. Gibbs just hammered away!! It was a delight to watch, sure! But I felt sorry for the bowler. This match was anything but! The top ranked team in the world taking on the lowest ranked team in the competition! An argument in favour of not having too many minnows in a World Cup tournament, if ever there was one!

By the way... You can watch a video of Gibb's six sixes here.

Pakistan allow West Indies to reach 241

Some people might say Pakistan restricted West Indies to 241 in their first match, but given the fact that West Indies scored 58 runs off the last five overs, one would really have to say that Pakistan let West Indies get away to 241 after flattering to bundle out the West Indians under 200.

West Indies will have to blame the 'almost selfish' display by Chanderpaul who scored a 63-ball 19. Lara, who looked very assured in his brief innings against India in the warm-up match, scratched around mostly... only occasionally producing a sparkling shot. However what was conspicuous about Lara's innings was the dearth of authoritative straight strokes. Samuels, the one player in the West Indian team with talent and class much above others bar Lara, was a delight to watch. His calculated assault on Kaneria ensured that Kaneria could not make use of the spin the pitch since he was reduced to bowling fast and flat. On the whole, the West Indian innings lacked a plan and progressed in fits and starts.

Pakistani bowling was pretty good. The two stand-out bowlers were Umar Gul and Rao Ifthikar... the latter bowling a consistently tight line with just enough movement to cause trouble to the batsmen. The spinners were merely adequate and the lack of ability to play spin cost West Indies dear.

242 is hardly an imposing target. But it is one that will allow Lara the peace of mind to attack in the initial part of the Pakistani innings. Having no genuine spinner in the side will mean that the new ball should be made to count. Though I do foresee Samuels playing further part in this match. All this makes for an interesting second half.

Pakistan Vs West Indies - Preview

Hosts West Indies take on Pakistan, at Sabina Park (Jamaica), in the opening match of the 2007 ICC World Cup tournament. And it promises to be a cracker of a match.

West Indies have been in pretty good form lately with their top-order batsmen in good form, the warm-up match debacle against India notwithstanding. Chanderpaul, Sarwan and Samuels seem to be at their prime. Gayle in good form makes the opposition look clueless. Lara looked in ominous touch during his brief stay at the crease in the warm-up match against India. The only worry is that he tends to get carried away a bit if he starts hitting the ball well. West Indies seem to bat deep with bowlers like Ian Bradshaw and Dwayne Smith able to contribute positively. Dwayne Bravo's role in the side cannot be over-emphasized. He is the swiss-army knife of the team. Bowling-wise West Indies are well served with genuine quicks like Taylor, Powell and accurate medium pacers like Collymore, Bravo and Smith. I am particularly impressed by Powell. He bowls just a notch under express pace and is generally very accurate. He is the key if the West Indies are looking to pick up early wickets. The lack of a spinner may be felt though.

Pakistan... hmmm! Their batting line-up is as solid as any... on the paper, at least! Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan, etc. at the top will be hard to remove, given their good techniques. Inzamam-ul-Haq is a pastmaster at pulling the team through the middle overs with the sheer weight of his doggedness. That he can explode when required, is an invaluable plus. I would rate the Pakistani tail lower in quality than their West Indian counterparts. Coming to their bowling, there is no doubt whatsoever that the Pakistani bowling department has suffered a body blow with the exclusion of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif. But with right conditions, Umar Gul, Rana Naved and co. have the ability to rattle the best of batsmen. Pakistan also have quality spinners in case they are presented with spinning conditions.

Man to man, and given the conditions at Jamaica... I'd rate West Indies as the favourites going into their opening match against Pakistan. West Indies do have the ability to be spectacularly terrible (and that's understating it) from time to time. But so do Pakistan. And that's the reason I say it will be a good match. If I have to predict a winner in this match-up... I'd go with West Indies.

Alright then... let the games begin! :)

"Fantasy Selector" is here

Ladies and gentlemen... boys and girls... I am proud to present to you.... Fantasy Selector!!

This contest is kinda like Super Selector... only simpler and intelligent. With your team selector hat securely in place, select a team of 11 players to form your team. Unlike real team selection, you are not restricted by the number of batsmen or bowlers. Just go ahead and select 11 players from all the 240 players that are taking part in the ICC World Cup 2007.

How do I score in this contest?

Each player that you've selected will earn you points as the tournament progresses. The contestant with the highest team score wins. As simple as that! The only thing to remember is... to have a chance to gain maximum points, obviously you need your players to play the maximum number of games. This means, before selecting your team, reflect a bit on the chances of each team and make your selection.

What is different in this contest as compared to others is the way we award points to players. Let me explain the rationale behind the points system in Fantasy Selector.

What's the points system?

  1. Typically, contests rate batsmen only on the number of runs scored, this gives an undue advantage to the top 3-4 batsmen who get both the advantage of field restrictions during Powerplays and also more number of overs to maximize their scores. This also fails to reward quick cameos by batsmen lower down the order which usually make the difference in ODIs. To even this out a bit we have come up with the concept of awarding points based on effective runs scored. Calculation of effective runs takes into consideration the number of balls faced by the batsmen (basically the strike rate). Considering the slow and low pitches in the West Indies we feel that a score of 250 should be what teams would first aim at getting i.e. 250 runs in 300 balls is par for the course. Hence every batsman would need to score at a strike rate of 83.33 to get their teams to this target. We therefore have set effective runs would be the same as the runs scored if strike rate is 83.33. Anything better would help improve the effective runs and hence enhance the points scored. For example, a 30 ball 60 runs could fetch you the same number of points as a 160 ball 120.

  2. On the bowling front again, we believe that bowlers who have not taken wickets but have bowled economical spells should also be rewarded for the same. Hence the points matrix for bowling takes into consideration both the wickets taken and also the economy rate. So a bowling analysis of 10-2-25-1 could fetch same points as 10-0-70-4.

  3. Catches win matches, as also do brilliant run outs. We also would be rewarding players for their efforts in the field at a flat rate of 10 points for every catch and run out effected.

So go ahead form your 11, give the team a dynamic name and send us your entries before the first match (WI vs Pak) ends at...

fantasy (dot) selector (at) gmail (dot) com

[Fantasy Selector Home]

Warming up with a Calypso Collapso

I cannot make up my mind about India's last warm-up match against West Indies. Should I exult at Indian team's new-found potency in batting, bowling and fielding? Or should I feel embarrassed at the ease with which the hosts were overpowered? Or should I feel disappointment that India did not get enough practice against a team that one expected to put up a better fight than a bunch of Dutch novices?

I think it's quite right to feel all of the above.

Indian bowling was decent enough to warrant some degree of satisfaction. Zaheer and Agarkar looked a tad rusty to start off, but settled into a nice rhythm soon enough. Munaf Patel's bowling was bit of an enigma for me. He was bowling at around the early 120's (kmph) and still he was able to cause more trouble to the batsmen than almost all of the other bowlers on display yesterday. His strength was his ability to deliver balls from very close to the stumps and get them to shape away just enough to confound the batsmen. When a bowler bowls from as close to the stumps as Munaf does, it makes the batsmen play at almost every delivery as almost each delivery is headed for the stumps if the batsman misses. Irfan Pathan, on the other hand, is a man with a few mental storms to quell before he can get back to his best. His gentle amble to the bowling crease and his ineffective use of the front arm and the bowling wrist mean that his pace has suffered a great deal. He did get a few balls to swing nicely, but intermittently he bowled such ridiculously wide balls that one could not help but notice exasperation writ large on Rahul Dravid's face. If you ask me, he is on his way back, though admittedly there's some distance to go before he is once again as good as he used to be. Kumble bowled just one over in which he cleaned up the last West Indian wicket to fall... not quite enough practice for the veteran leggie, though I suspect he doesn't need much practice anyways. However, Kumble seems to have gotten over his proclivity to slide down the leg side... something that had plagued him for a couple of seasons.

Batting... well! Chasing 85 was a piece of cake, even against some quick and accurate bowling. But instead of cutting himself a slice of that cake and eating it like a proper gentleman, Sehwag decided to slam his face into the cake! I can't seem to figure out why Sehwag does not see what his problem is. If his problem were any clearer, it would be sold by Swarovski, I imagine!! But apparently he refuses to pay heed to any advice. His back foot stays anchored just on or outside the leg-stump and the only movement he makes is to nudge the front foot forward. In this position, a ball outside the off-stump and moving away will make him reach out to drive. And with the kind of form he has been suffering lately, he deftly manages to get an edge! Move your back foot sufficiently across to enable your front foot to reach closer to the ball, you dolt!! Well anyways, the rest of the batsmen, Uthappa and Karthik were perfectly right in not attempting to blast their way to 86. They intelligently ran the singles and the twos and ensured that the team management will have to find a very good reason to ignore them while selecting the team for the first match against Bangladesh.

I guess, India has earned more positives from their two warm-up matches than they would've imagined earlier. Now it remains to be seen if these positives translate themselves into wins in the days to come.

Warm-up matches are a good thing

At the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup, a refreshing departure from tradition has been the fact that teams are playing warm-up matches amongst themselves rather than with club or invitational teams. While these warm-up matches are inconsequential from an actual contest point of view (and are indeed not even officially classified as ODIs), they do give an opportunity for the players to get some practice against players who are good enough to represent their countries. This is obviously a good thing since a batsman would not like to just spend time in the middle, facing up to a bowler who dishes up rubbish... or a bowler would love an opportunity to get his line and length fine tuned in match conditions against a batsman who can give him something to think about.

Of course, it also gives a much more valuable feedback to the coach who can use the data from these warm-up matches to decide who is good enough and who needs some more tender loving care of the nets! I am, of course, referring to Virender Sehwag who would have carted club bowlers around the park but was found wanting against even the Dutch bowlers. And in Sehwag's case, the next Indian warm-up match against West Indies will be the best data-collection exercise that Greg Chappell could have asked for before settling on an opening pair for the real thing... i.e. the World Cup matches.

One-Day Mataram resumes...

Hello dear readers. It's been a long time since there has been any activity of any sort here. And the abruptness with which posts stopped is always a shame. The reason for my absence has been the gradual build-up of work-load from my day job. In this period of silence on this blog, I have had to travel to the land where the gentleman's game was born. Unfortunately, the closest I came to cricket during this time was when I occasionally (odd weekend or two) rolled my arm over in the backyard of the house where I stayed in the UK. Blogging, unfortunately, had to take the backseat.

Coming up... match previews, reviews, player/team analyses, guest posts and a contest!!

However, with the World Cup looming large, I will be coming back with a vengeance! Stay tuned for some intense World Cup action in the coming month. We will have match previews, reviews, team and player analyses, guest posts, trivia and possibly even a contest on the lines of Super Selector (with a unique points system developed in-house during the 1999 and the 2003 World Cup tournaments).

I think it's gonna be quite an exciting time in the month ahead. Stick around and share your view and comments... 'coz as the cliché goes, it really doesn't get bigger than this!! :-)