ODI Series Decider Goes To The Wire

An account of the concluding ODI between India and England, plus some thoughts on over rates and some photographs.

This post is devoted to the events of yesterday’s final and deciding ODI between India and England.

THE PRELIMINARIES

England decided to retain both Malan and Livingstone, so Billings missed out. They also opted to replace Tom Curran with Mark Wood, a decision that would have been indisputable had Wood been fully fit, but it rapidly became clear that he was not. India replaced Kuldeep Yadav with T Natarajan, changing the balance of their bowling attack. Jos Buttler won the toss and decided to bowl.

THE INDIAN INNINGS

India got off to a flying start, with Sam Curran and Reece Topley both somewhat wayward. Mark Wood bowled fast in spite of obviously not being well. It took the arrival of the spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali at the bowling crease to stem the flow at all. Rashid accounted for both openers, one bowled and one caught and bowled, in successive overs, while Ali clean bowled Virat Kohli. Liam Livingstone had made his first contribution to the game with a fine piece of fielding out on the boundary that saved two runs. KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant maintained the momentum and for a while it looked like something close to 400 was on for India, but then Livingstone got Rahul, as the batter could only put a filthy full toss straight into the hands of a fielder. Thereafter England picked up wickets regularly, and India were all out for 329 in the 49th over. At that stage it looked anyone’s game, with England possibly favourites.

THE ENGLAND REPLY

For once neither Roy nor Bairstow managed a substantial score, and Stokes and Buttler both also went fairly cheaply. At that stage it was 95-4 and England looked in deep trouble. Livingstone and Malan batted well however and at the end of the 20th England were 132-4, two fifths of the way to the target after two fifths of the overs and having lost two fifths of their wickets. Livingstone was fifth out, having batted well, and then Malan having completed a fine 50 was sixth to go. That brought Sam Curran in join Moeen Ali, with England in deep trouble. At the end of the 30th England were 196-6. Moeen Ali’s departure seemed to be the final nail, but Rashid provided Curran support, and then extraordinarily, Mark Wood, for all that he was obviously not well, continued the support work, while Curran was playing a very special innings. Wood was ninth out, but even Topley, the most genuine of genuine number 11s, did his bit, and at the end of the 49th England were 316-9 needing 14 to win, and crucially Curran was at the strikers end. He did his best, but the task was just too much, and England were beaten by seven runs, with Curran 95 not out off 83 balls.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH

Sam Curran was named Player of the Match for his fighting knock, a decision which Indian skipper Kohli disapproved of. Shardul Thakur with 30 and four wickets was the obvious alternative candidate, and normally I would say that this award should go to someone from the winning side. However, at the point at which Curran came in to bat England were staring an absolute hammering in the face, with a three figure margin looking likely, and Curran turned that around to the extent that the game ended as a nail biter. Also most of Curran’s batting was done with the support of a no9, a sick no10 and a n011. Thus on this occasion I think the decision to give the award to someone from the losing side was justified, although I would not have quarrelled with the award going to Thakur.

OVER RATES

This match was conducted at a tempo that to borrow from the world of music could only fairly be described as ‘adagio molto’ – very slow. 100 overs occupied eight and a quarter hours of actual playing time, with England being in the field for three hours fifty minutes and India for four hours twenty five minutes. This leads me to revisit an old idea of mine in slightly revised form: based on the 15 overs per hour officially required in test matches I would allocate each team a fixed time slot to bowl their overs of three hours and 20 minutes, and for each over they have not bowled in that period the batting team get awarded penalty runs at a rate of ten per over or double the scoring rate, whichever is the greater. Obviously umpires would have to watch out for batters deliberately wasting time in the hope of securing penalty runs. If this was adopted there might be one ODI series/ tournament in which extras had a Bradmanesque aggregate but I reckon over rates would speed up pretty quickly. Here is a very famous slow tempo piece of music, Albinoni’s “Adagio for Organ and Strings”, from youtube:

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

T20I Series in India Goes to a Decider

An account of today’s #INDvENG T20I cricket match and a solution to yesterday’s mathematical teaser, plus some photographs.

This post looks at an extraordinary game of cricket that has just taken place in India. I also provide a solution to the mathematical conundrum from brilliant.org that I posed yesterday and of course a few photographs.

THE PRELIMINARIES

England were unchanged, India had two changes. Ishan Kishan had a minor injury and was replaced by Suryakumar Yadav. Yuzvendra Chahal was dropped and replaced by another leg spinner, Rahul Chahar. Eoin Morgan won the toss and chose to bowl.

THE INDIAN INNINGS

Neither of India’s openers were massively convincing, and Kohli at no 4 also failed with the bat. However, Suryakumar Yadav played a quite magnificent innings, at one stage threatening to record a century, and Rishabh Pant also played very nicely. India put up 185-8 in the end, a total that looked defensible but not unassailable. Jofra Archer took four wickets, Mark Wood was also impressive, but Adil Rashid had an off day for once, and Jordan, Stokes and Curran were all unimpressive as well.

THE ENGLAND RESPONSE

Buttler failed, Malan got a bit of a start but did not go on, Roy reached 40 for the third time of the series and for the third time of the series got out with a seriously big score apparently beckoning. Bairstow and Stokes batted well together before Bairstow was out, and then it looked like Stokes and Morgan were taking England close. However, both fell to Thakur in consecutive deliveries at the start of the 18th. Curran and Jordan played decently for the rest of that over, but then Curran fell in the 19th. A four off the last ball of the 19th by Archer reduced the requirement to 23 off the final over. Thakur, who had put India in command with his bowling at the start of the 18th now lost his bearings and at one point the ask was down to ten off three balls, but then he regathered his nerve, and India emerged victorious by eight runs, setting up a final game decider on Saturday. Although the standard of play was high an both sides it is not really acceptable for 40 overs of cricket to occupy four and a quarter hours of playing time as happened today.

SOLUTION TO A TEASER

Yesterday I set you the following:

In total there are 512 small cubes in the structure. Of these 216 (6x6x6) are purely internal and therefore unpainted, eight are corner cubes and painted on three faces, which leaves 288 cubes painted on either one or two faces. The cubes painted on one face are those in the centre of each visible face, which number 36 on each face = 216 in total. This leaves 72 cubes painted on two faces, and 216 – 72 = 144. For a cube with side length n, there will eight corner pieces, (n-2) ^ 3 centre pieces that are thus unpainted, 6 ((n-2)^2) pieces that are painted on one face only and 12 (n-2) pieces that are painted on exactly two faces. Though these equations only start to work once n is greater than 2 – a 2 x 2 x 2 cube has eight blocks each of which are painted on three faces.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

India Zindabad!

An account of the spectacular denouement to the Border-Gavaskar trophy series at the Gabba, a look at cricket formats and to upcoming test series, and some photographs.

This post is mainly about the amazing conclusion to the battle for the Border-Gavaskar trophy, the last day of which ended early this morning UK time. I will also be comparing the various formats that cricket now has and looking ahead to upcoming test series.

THE INJURY STREWN ROAD BACK FROM 36 ALL OUT

India took a first innings lead in the first test of the series, before that game underwent a shocking turnaround, as an hour of Cummins and Hazlewood at their best routed India for its lowest ever test score of 36, and Australia knocked of the target of 90 for the loss of two (see here for more details) wickets. At that point, with Kohli departing on paternity leave and injuries already making themselves felt an Indian series victory looked a long way away.

In the second match at the MCG India, captained by Rahane in the absence of Kohli hit back hard to level the series, but their injury list continued to lengthen.

In the third match of the series at Sydney, India continued to suffer injuries, with their two best spinners, Ashwin and Jadeja joining the crocked list. Also injured was Hanuma Vihari. However, in a display of determination that was a foretaste of what was to come at the Gabba, Vihari and Ashwin carried India to a hard fought draw in this match.

The final stop for India, with a bowling attack so depleted that those selected in bowling spots had one test cap between them, was the Gabba, where Australia were unbeaten since 1988, when a full strength West Indies, featuring one of the most awesome collections of fast bowlers ever seen, did the job.

Australia won the toss and chose to bat first (a number of sides of been lured in by the prospect of early life in the pitch and chosen to bowl, normally with terrible consequences – Hutton’s England leaked 601-8 in 1954-5 and lost by an innings and 160, Border’s Aussies conceded over 450 in 1986, were made to follow on and ended up beaten by seven wickets, Hussain’s England allowed Australia to reach 367-2 by the close of the opening day, and thereafter there was only going to be one result), and they tallied 369, a very respectable effort. Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar each featured prominently in the bowling figures, as did Siraj. At 186-6 India looked in colossal trouble, but Thakur and Sundar followed their bowling exploits with some excellent batting, making 67 and 62 respectively, and in the end the deficit was just 33.

India did well to restrict Australia’s 2nd innings to 294, which left them 329 to get and just over a day to do so. The weather which had intervened several times, did so once again, ending day 4 early with India 4-0, needing 324 off 98 overs on the final day to win, with a draw also sufficing to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

By lunch on day five India had lost only one wicket, and Gill and Pujara were going well. The afternoon session was better for Australia, but they still did not capture many wickets, and Pant was batting well by the tea break.

When Mayank Agarwal fell for a skittish nine it still seemed that only two results were possible. Sundar joined Pant, and they were still together going into the mandatory last 15 overs, with 69 needed. By the ten over to go mark this was up around a run a ball, but they were still together. Briefly the ask went above one run per ball, but then Sundar hit a six and a four in quick succession, which in turn encouraged Pant, and suddenly the target was approaching at a rapid rate. Cummins, who had toiled heroically and picked up four wickets on the day gave way to Hazlewood, while Lyon was wheeling away at the other end. There was a brief wobble when Sundar fell essaying a reverse sweep and then Thakur got himself out cheaply, but the target was close to being achieved by then, and not long later a straight driven four for Rishabh Pant ended the chase, India winning by three wickets to take the series 2-1 and retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy in style. Pant had scored 89 not out, backing up Gill’s earlier 91 and a determined 56 from Pujara.

Pant was named Player of the Match, while his 20 wickets earned Cummins the Player of the Series award. Personally I would have given the match award to Thakur who made significant contributions to all of the first three innings, without which India would never have been in the contest, but I can understand why it went to Pant.

Of all the test series I have followed closely enough to comment on from personal experience (dating back to the 1989 Ashes debacle) this one between Australia and India has only one remotely serious rival, the 2005 Ashes series, which featured three of the greatest matches I have ever been witness to plus Pietersen and Giles’ heroics at The Oval.

ON CRICKET FORMATS

Top level cricket these days has four principal formats with a fifth in the pipeline, and this match just concluded at the Gabba, plus events at Galle prompted to me to write a little about each:

  • Test Cricket – these two matches in their differing ways provided excellent case studies as to why the five day format is the best of the lot for cricket. Both matches featured fight backs which could not have been mounted in a shorter version of the game.
  • First class cricket – played over either three or four days (one of the definitions of a first class cricket match is that it must last at least three days), and like test cricket the longer time frame enables things to happen that could not in a short match.
  • One day cricket – played over the one day, usually one innings per side, although various split innings formats have been tried, and each side is limited to a certain number of overs, and at least five bowlers must be used. It has its great moments, notably the 2019 World Cup final, but the great majority of games in this format do not stick in the memory any longer than it takes to play them.
  • T20 – One innings of 20 overs per side, various fielding restrictions and other gimmicks according to the exact competition. These can be cracking entertainment while they last, especially if they get close, but again few stick in the memory.
  • The Hundred – 100 balls per innings for each side, to be bowled in some combination or other of blocks of five and ten balls. Nobody really knows why this joke of a format was invented, though after being delayed for a year by the pandemic it is expected to make’s it appearance in the 2021 English season. I feel that tampering to the extent that is involved in the design of this new format is unacceptable. The number of balls in an over has changed through cricket’s long history – it was four in the early days, five in the 1880s and 1890s, then six, then eight for a time (briefly in this country, for about 50 years in Australia) and then back to six, but it has always been fixed and constant within each match. Just as I refused to pay any attention to the Stanford extravaganza, rightly seeing it as fundamentally bad for cricket, so I plan to ignore the Hundred.

FUTURE TESTS

England have two series coming up against India, first in India, then in England, and an Ashes series down under at the end of the year. I now feel having seen an injury ravaged India fight like tigers and beat the Aussies in their own back yard that England will be lucky to win either series against India, but for all that no England team not holding the Ashes have won in Australia since 1970-1 they have a decent chance of winning that series. I noticed that Axar Patel, a left arm spinner, is in India’s squad for the upcoming series in India, and given the ‘rabbits in headlights’ responses of Messrs Crawley and Sibley to Lasith Embuldeniya taking the new ball for Sri Lanka I can see exactly how India might use him to their advantage! Overall, test cricket is in fine health, and has once again dealt very effectively with premature rumours of its sad demise, by producing a couple of amazing games that overlapped with one another.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off…