India T20 Squad for South Africa Series Announced- Hardik Pandya back, but no MS Dhoni

India have officially announced their squad for the three T20 internationals against South Africa next month at home.

The three fixtures will be played at Dharamshala, Mohali and Bengaluru on 15, 18 and 22 September respectively, following which the two sides will lock horns in a three-test series beginning October 2.

The Indian selectors have opted for continuity, opting to keep faith with the squad that did the job against the West Indies in the Caribbean. There is only one change- all rounder Hardik Pandya returns, with pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar making away for the MI star.

Somewhat surprisingly, there is no place for either Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal, with the selectors choosing to again back the trio of Ravindra Jadeja, Krunal Pandya and Washington Sundar in the spin department.

Former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni continues to be sidelined from the squad, with the Men in Blue looking to give rookie keeper Rishabh Pant as many opportunities as possible behind the wickets ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia next year.

India T20 Squad vs South Africa 2019 Continue reading “India T20 Squad for South Africa Series Announced- Hardik Pandya back, but no MS Dhoni”

End of an era- Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn retire from cricket

It’s officially the end of an era. With the retirements of Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla, all members of the South African side who scripted that famous series victory Down Under against Australia in 2008 have called it a day.

That Proteas team was also the first one since readmission to beat Australia in Australia, and they didn’t lose a single away test series between 2007 and 2015- quite an amazing statistic given the variety of conditions that prevail in test cricket today. Amla and Steyn were both key members of that squad as was AB de Villiers, who also hung up his international boots last year. Interestingly, the trio were the 295th, 296th and 297th players for South Africa and made their debuts in the same year- will the Proteas ever have a more impactful troika of players in the future? Continue reading “End of an era- Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn retire from cricket”

Fan Analysis & Talking Points from Australia vs South Africa & India vs Sri Lanka

The group stage of the World Cup came to a conclusion earlier today, with India taking on Sri Lanka at Headingley in the day fixture and Australia squaring off against South Africa in the D/N clash at Old Trafford. Let’s take a look at our talking points from the day’s action.

South Africa’s batting finally clicks, and sends Australia to Birmingham for their semi-finak

South Africa vs Australia as a World Cup clash brings back memories of that great game between the two sides back in the 1999 edition of the tournament.

The Proteas have been one of this tournament’s biggest disappointments, but with nothing to lose, they turned the tables on Australia at Old Trafford with a fantastic batting display. For the first time in this tournament, they got off to a flying start with the bat after winning the toss. With Hashim Amla out injured, Aiden Markram was asked to open the batting with Quinton de Kock, and the flurry of fours at the beginning of the South African innings forced opposition skipper Aaron Finch to turn to spinner Nathan Lyon as early as the 6th over of the game.

Markram and De Kock both departed before the 20th over, but the foundation had been set, and it allowed Rassie van der Dussen, traditionally a bit of a slow starter, time to get himself in. He was 5 (25) before going on to smash 95 in 97. Faf du Plessis scored the Proteas’ first century of the tournament, and South Africa were able to set Australia an imposing 326 to win, which proved to be 10 too many for Justin Langer’s men at the end.

How South Africa would’ve loved the tournament to begin today instead of the 40 odd days before that it did!

And in sending Australia to Edgbaston, a ground known to favour England historically, they might have sounded the death knell for their great opponents’ hopes of defending their crown. Edgbaston was also the venue for that SA-Aus 1999 semi-final that began Australia’s dominance over the 50 over format.

CWC table after group stages of World Cup-2019

Rohit Sharma writes himself into the history books

With a hundred against Sri Lanka, Sharma not only took India to the top of the table, but also broke the record for most centuries in a single World Cup. In the absence of the injured Shikhar Dhawan, Sharma has taken on added responsibility and handled it with aplomb.

He’s also not too far away from Sachin Tendulkar’s record for most runs (673) at a single World Cup. And the way he’s been going, few would bet against him achieving that record as well!

South Africa’s fielding sees them stave off a spirited Australian comeback

There were three great pieces of South African fielding today at Old Trafford- first the run out effected by De Kock to dismiss Marcus Stoinis (one which even MS Dhoni would’ve been proud of), the second a leaping catch, again by De Kock, to dismiss Glenn Maxwell, and the third a stunner from Chris Morris to take out David Warner just as Carey and he were beginning to take the game away from the Proteas.

They had a few lapses in the field- most notably in the form of missed run outs, but this was a far superior effort in terms of catching, and it helped them end their tournament on a high.

Alex Carey the unsung hero for Australia at CWC 2019

With a first class average of 29, few would’ve expected Alex Carey to have the impact he’s had on this tournament. The wicket keeper nearly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat here, and may be promoted to No.5 in their semi-final against England, given the stunning form he’s been in.

A few alarm bells for Australia?

Australia still remain formidable opponents, as evinced by their never say die attitude during the chase that saw them score nearly 200 in their last 25 overs despite having effectively lost half their side.

However they appear to be in a bit of disarray- Shaun Marsh has already been sent home injured, Usman Khawaja’s tournament looks over after a hamstring issue, Marcus Stoinis had a side strain and even Mitch Starc needed the physio to attend to his knee. At this rate, Marsh Jr and Peter Handscomb may need to make their first appearance of the tournament in the cauldron of a World Cup a semi-final against the hosts at the “Bear Pit”

Not quite panic stations for Australia yet, but England will fancy their chances to advance to the final. Even Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis said he expected the hosts to meet India in the decider at Lord’s in a week’s time, when quizzed about it by Mark Nicholas at the post-match presentation.

The semi-finals will be India vs New Zealand and England vs Australia- same as the first WC warm-up fixtures for these four sides played on May 25.

Can South Africa qualify for the World Cup semifinals? A look at the Proteas chances

Can the Proteas still qualify for the Cricket World Cup semifinals? Despite their dreadful start to the tournament, South Africa, as it stands, are still in with a chance. Ahead of today’s clash against Pakistan at Lord’s, we take a look at the best (and most likely route!) for the Proteas to make it to the last four of the tournament.

Table after June 22 Games

World Cup Standings after 22 June 2019 Games

Games left for Proteas & major competitors

Proteas (3 points from 6 games)– Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia

England (8 points from 6 games)- Australia, India, New Zealand

Sri Lanka (6 points from 6 games)– South Africa, West Indies, India

Bangladesh (5 points from 6 games)– Afghanistan, India, Pakistan

West Indies (3 points from 6 games)– India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan

Pakistan (3 points from 5 games)– South Africa, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Bangladesh

How can South Africa still qualify for the CWC semis?

The Proteas must win all three of their games, which will take them to 9 points.

They need England to lose all three of their remaining games- England haven’t won against Australia, India and NZ in group play at the World Cup since 1992. England will then finish on 8.

They also need Sri Lanka to win only one of their three games. Given that SL should beat the Windies, that means India have to beat Sri Lanka.

If the Windies beat Sri Lanka, they (WI) need to lose to India. Given the Indian game is before the SL one, the Windies might be out of the tournament by then, which is why we think Sri Lanka would beat the Men in Maroon.

They also need Bangladesh to win only one game. If Bangladesh win two, it could come to net run rate (and they could improve theirs against Afghanistan), which means the Proteas would want India and Pakistan to beat Bangladesh.

In an ideal world, for the Proteas, Pakistan would lose to New Zealand but beat Bangladesh. If the Proteas beat Pakistan, but the latter win their remaining three, it could come to net run rate- Pakistan have a terrible current NRR (-1.933), but they do have a game in hand against Afghanistan.

In such a scenario, the Proteas will finish on 9 points, and all their challengers below them (England 8, Sri Lanka 8, Bangladesh and Pakistan 7 each)

Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- South Africa vs New Zealand World Cup 2019

New Zealand took a massive step towards the semi-finals as they beat South Africa in a final over thriller that all but ended the latter’s slim chances of making it to the last four. Here are our talking points from the game at Edgbaston, which was also the venue for that epic SF involving the Proteas two decades ago!

The Williamson dismissal that wasn’t reviewed

In Imran Tahir’s last over, with New Zealand at 173/5 in the 38th over, Kane Williamson was beaten as he attempted to glide the ball. Tahir had half an appeal on his lips, as he always does, but more importantly, Proteas keeper Quinton de Kock did not appeal. Replays showed that Williamson had edged the ball and if South Africa had opted for DRS, they would’ve had the Kiwi skipper out at a crucial period in the game.

The Proteas missed more chances (run-outs and dropped catches among them), but this is the one they’ll rue the most. Faf du Plessis did not enjoy the luck of his his Australian counterpart Aaron Finch, whose last second DRS review got rid of Wahab Riaz at a crucial stage in their game against Pakistan. In fact, Du Plessis wasn’t even aware that Williamson would’ve been out until Pommie Mbangwa told him in the post match presentation!

Kane Williamson Edge off Tahir World Cup 2019

Andile Phehlukwayo chooses the wrong time to have an off day

Over the last couple of seasons, Andile Phehlukwayo has been one of South Africa’s most consistent performers in this format and has rightly established himself as the Proteas No.1 all rounder. Unfortunately the Dolphins star had a bad day at the office- a five ball duck and 1/73 in 8.3 on a day when all his fellow bowlers went for under 5 an over.

Did Du Plessis err by not giving Aiden Markram a bowl?

Andile Phehlukwayo didn’t have a great day with the ball, but despite knowing Colin de Grandhomme’s struggles against spin, Faf du Plessis choose not to go to Aiden Markram for an over or two in the middle. De Grandhomme was cautious against Imran Tahir, and it would’ve been interesting to see him take on Markram with the run rate steadily rising. Perhaps a day when Du Plessis needed JP Duminy in the side- clearly didn’t feel confident enough to ask Markram to roll his arm over despite Phehlukwayo’s struggles. Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- South Africa vs New Zealand World Cup 2019”

Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- South Africa vs India World Cup 2019

India’s recent dominance over South Africa in ICC events continued as Virat Kohli’s men opened their World Cup campaign with a six wicket win at the Rose Bowl. Here are our talking points from the game.

Proteas fail to win the small moments

When you have only 228 to defend and your bowling ranks are depleted due to injury, you need to take EVERY chance that comes your way. Unfortunately for the Proteas, skipper Faf du Plessis dropped Rohit Sharma in the third over of the game when the Indian opener was just on 1. It wasn’t a straightforward catch, but not an entirely difficult one either. The drop went on to cost 121 runs as Sharma scored a fine century to take India home in a tough chase. There were a few other “what if moments” too- the ball dropping just in front of Amla at slip after Chris Morris had drawn an edge off Rohit, and David Miller dropping an absolute dolly in the 44th over.

Chris Morris delivers an inspired performance

On paper, Chris Morris has all the ingredients to be one of the world’s best all-rounders. Unfortunately for South Africa, that promise hasn’t quite translated into success on the pitch, with Morris guilty of being very inconsistent. Today though was one of his best ever performances in a Proteas jersey- top scoring with 42 (the only one to score at over a run a ball for South Africa), and then producing a fine 10-3-36-1 spell with the ball. Morris wasn’t in the selectors’ WC plans over the last year, but got into the squad as an injury replacement. If this version of Tipo turns up more frequently, he will have no problems holding down a first team spot.

South Africa’s spinners fail to have the same impact as India’s

Having lost both Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi to injury, South Africa opted to go with two spinners at the Rose Bowl in the form of Imran Tahir and Tabraiz Shamsi. Both failed to deliver- Tahir finished with 0/58 in his 10, while Shamsi was also wicketless, going for 54 in his 9. In a game where South Africa needed them to strangulate India in the middle overs after Rabada, Morris and Phehlukwayo had put the Men in Blue on the back foot in the opening stages, their performances were disappointing.

By comparison, India’s spinners took five wickets between them and consistently broke partnerships just as they were beginning to look dangerous, robbing the Proteas of much needed momentum. Yuzvendra Chahal for instance, broke both the Faf-Rassie and Miller-Phehlukwayo partnerships, and finished with four wickets.

South Africa Line up vs India-2019 Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- South Africa vs India World Cup 2019”

Five Talking Points & Analysis- South Africa vs Bangladesh CWC 2019 at the Oval

South Africa crashed to their second straight defeat- the first time in their history they’ve begun a World Cup campaign with two losses, as Bangladesh stunned them at the Oval. Here are our talking points from the game.

Rabada’s dropped catch of Mahmudullah

This South Africa squad is a pale shadow of the side that set new standards for fielding in the 90’s. In the first ball of the 47th over, Mahmudullah Riyad tried to hoick Chris Morris over the deep backward square boundary, only for Kagiso Rabada to drop a relatively easy catch. That drop was a big game changing moment- Bangladesh went on to score 54 in their last four overs and Morris, who began bowling at the death with 1/44 in his 8 overs, went for 29 in his last two.

South Africa needed the same number of runs from their last four, but could only manage 30 odds runs as they slumped to a demoralising defeat.

Bangladesh Starting Line Up vs South Africa-2019

Lungi Ngidi breaks down early into his spell

Ngidi has been a key part of South Africa’s bowling lineup but fans who have watched the Proteas over the last couple of seasons would’ve also noticed his tendency to break down frequently. Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Analysis- South Africa vs Bangladesh CWC 2019 at the Oval”

Five Talking Points & Analysis- England vs South Africa- First Game of Cricket World Cup 2019

England kicked off their World Cup campaign with a comfortable 104 run victory over South Africa at the Oval. Here are our talking points from the hosts’ opening day clash against the Proteas.

South Africa undone by Archer pace

Last month Jofra Archer wasn’t even in England’s preliminary World Cup squad. Today he single-handedly broke the back of South Africa’s batting with his searing pace. His first spell saw him nail Hashim Amla with a bouncer that forced the veteran to retire hurt, and then account for both Aiden Markram and Faf du Plessis. To finish things off, he also dismissed the well-set Rassie van der Dussen in his second spell, thus eliminating any slim hopes the Proteas might have entertained of upsetting the hosts.

Archer’s average speed was in the mid 140’s, a good 10km or more than the rest of the bowlers on the day. On a slightly two paced wicket, he made the batsman uncomfortable with his pace, and has effectively confirmed his spot in the XI for the rest of the tournament.

England lineup vs South Africa World Cup 2019

Familiar Proteas middle order implosion

South Africa have been heavily dependent on Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis for their runs in the last eighteen months or so. Du Plessis was dismissed early by Archer, but De Kock marched on, making a fine fifty to take South Africa to 129/2 in the company of Rassie van der Dussen. However once QdK holed out to Root on the fine leg boundary, the Proteas fell apart. The visitors needed JP Duminy and Dwaine Pretorius to keep things ticking, but the former fell to a poor shot and the latter to a needless run-out (there’s always one in Proteas games at key ICC events!). It left too much to do for Andile Phehlukwayo and Van der Dussen, and South Africa eventually slumped to a 104 run defeat.

Ben Stokes stars with a 3D performance Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Analysis- England vs South Africa- First Game of Cricket World Cup 2019”

Five Talking Points from South Africa vs Sri Lanka & Pakistan vs Afghanistan- World Cup Warm-ups

The first set of warm-up fixtures for the Cricket World Cup kicked off earlier today with South Africa squaring off against Sri Lanka in Cardiff and Asian neighbours Pakistan and Afghanistan locking horns in Bristol. Interestingly enough, the side winning the toss ended up losing in both fixtures. Here are our talking points from the two games.

A much needed half century for Hashim Amla

Given his sketchy performances over the last year and the burden of personal circumstances (his father hasn’t been keeping well), there were some doubts over whether Hashim Amla should’ve been aboard the plane to England. The veteran however remains a classy player, and his 65 (61) would’ve boosted his confidence ahead of the main tournament.

Faf du Plessis and Andile Phehlukwayo again instrumental in South Africa victory

Both Du Plessis and Phehlukwayo have established themselves as mainstays of the Proteas ODI team over the last couple of years. While not quite in the same league as AB de Villiers, Du Plessis has taken his game to a new level in the last 18 months, and is South Africa’s best batsman in their current XI. He again top scored for his side with a fantastic 88 (69)

Young Phehlukwayo has established himself as South Africa’s premier all-rounder, and punctured Sri Lanka’s chase with 4/36 in his 7 overs, including the key wicket of the in-form Kusal Mendis.

The weaknesses remain weaknesses for South Africa

Chris Morris’ inconsistency with the ball and David Miller’s struggles against sub-continental opposition are well documented, and both again failed to deliver against the Lankans. Miller was the only player not to get into double figures, while Morris, while impressive with the bat, was again wayward with the ball.

CWC Warmups

Pakistan’s power-hitting is very dependent on Asif Ali

Pakistan perhaps have three players in this side who can hit from the ball go- Fakhar Zaman, Asif Ali and Imad Wasim. With Ali unavailable and Zaman falling cheaply, Pakistan didn’t quite have the firepower to cross 300. They were 203/4 in the 38th over, and only managed 262 in the end. It’s a major area of concern for Micky Arthur. Babar Azam was magnificent, but cricket is a team game, and Pakistan’s batting, it appears, hasn’t exactly kept pace with the times. Losses to Australia and England were fine, but this defeat to Afghanistan, albeit in a warm-up, will definitely hurt.

Wahab Riaz provides a timely reminder of why he was selected

Wahab Riaz nearly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for Pakistan with his fantastic 48th over. Displaying both pace and reverse swing, he knocked over both Afghan skipper Gulbadin Naib and Najibullah Zadran, and nearly had Rashid Khan as well. Wahab’s abilities with the ball are sometimes Wasim-esque, and with his spell here, he might have just walked into the Pakistan XI ahead of their tournament opener against the West Indies.

List of Top 10 Momentum One Day Cup 2019 Highest Runs Scorers- Most Runs MODC 2019

Here’s the list of the top ten highest scoring batsmen at the 2019 Momentum One Day Cup, a South African domestic ODI series for their six franchises- Titans, Lions, Dolphins, Cobras, Knights and Warriors. The tournament began on 8 February, 2019. Given the ODI World Cup to be held later this season, the MODC represents a chance for several players to break into the Proteas ODI setup.

Who is the top run scorer at MODC 2019?

As of March 31 2019, the highest run scorer is Aiden Markram (542) from the Titans. The Proteas U19 winning skipper has had a shaky start to his international career in the 50 over format, but his fine run at MODC 2019 will do his World Cup chances no harm at all. It appears that only two of Markram, Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen will go to the World Cup (assuming the selectors take veteran Hashim Amla), and every run made here will aid in their attempt to board the plane for England 2019.

Markram not only topped the run charts, but also scored the most hundreds (3), most sixes (24) and most sixes in a single innings (8 in the final). His 542 runs from 5 games also came at an impressive strike rate of 132.84, and with the World Cup likely to be batting-friendly, he could be a very handy asset to a Proteas batting line-up that tends to start slowly and hasn’t quite recovered from the retirement of AB De Villiers.

Markram’s three hundreds here (169 v Cobras, 137 v Warriors and 127 v Dolphins), also means that three of the top seven individual scores in this year’s MODC are from him. Stunning figures, given that he has played only five innings- the next highest run scorer, Cobras wicket keeper Kyle Vereynne, played nine.

Last updated after Titans vs Dolphins final game at Centurion on March 31 2019. Continue reading “List of Top 10 Momentum One Day Cup 2019 Highest Runs Scorers- Most Runs MODC 2019”