Updated: May 1, 2018 10:29:40 am
Are they injured, or are they rested?
It’s not clear whether Bhuvneshwar Kumar is injured or (wisely) protected for the Indian team. Bhuvneshwar has played only half of the 8 matches and has had to miss a few on account of a niggling back injury. Kane Williamson’s team have defended low totals despite his absence and are the table leaders. In his 4 games, Kumar showed just why he’s India’s premier all-season, all-format bowler snaring 6 wickets at 17.16 and an economy of 6.86.
The seriousness of his injury though remains unclear and you wonder whether his recurring absence from the playing XI is more precautionary in nature. The BCCI had spoken about wanting to monitor the workload of some of their key players and those on the fringes—even identifying 23 specific names for this purpose. Hyderabad’s success is helping them keep Kumar fresh for bigger battles ahead.
Mohammed Shami might be going through off-field issues at the moment but he’s been traveling with the Delhi Daredevils throughout the season so far. But he too has only played 4 out of Delhi’s 7 matches. Shami though has been very expensive and looked a pale comparison of his usually wicket-taking self—going at 10.40 and managing only 3 victims. And his stint on the bench hasn’t had anything to do with injury. Considering the workload ahead—the lengthy England tour and the recently announced packed visit Down Under—his untoward form with the ball might not be such a bad thing for Indian cricket. For, it’s keeping Shami too fresh for bigger battles ahead.
Unfortunately for Jasprit Bumrah, who bowled the most number of overs for India on the tour of South Africa, Mumbai Indians’ characteristically poor start is not allowing him any luxuries. He’s of course younger than his two fast bowling colleagues but his franchise will not be comfortable going in without Bumrah, not yet anyway.
The same goes for Hardik Pandya, whose bowling has convincingly outshone his batting so far this season. So much so that even Mahela jayawardene, Mumbai’s coach, had said that “every year, you can’t bat same way. If people don’t evolve and improve, there is no progress. Young guys like Hardik will learn that and bed to work harder. The talent alone will not get you.
Protecting players from burnout could really become a norm next year with the IPL scheduled to be held only days before the start of the 2019 World Cup.. India will be playing their first warm-up match for the World Cup five days after the IPL final. Meanwhile, IPL teams are already concerned about the potential loss or complete absence of key Australian, South African and English players for the 12th edition. It’ll be interesting to see how Indian cricket sorts out its priorities come next year.
Manoj Tiwary is a decent part-time leg-spinner. He has a five-wicket haul against his name in List A cricket. Now leg-spin is a much valued art in the (still) shortest format of the game. In fact, Tiwary’s captain at Kings XI Punjab, Ravichandran Ashwin, possibly the finest finger spinner in the world, has himself resorted to bowling leg-breaks more than occasionally in the IPL. It was surprising then when Tiwary, clearly talking himself up in an interview, said he had learnt to bowl off-breaks.
Further indications that he had something serious up his sleeve came when Ashwin included him in the XI for the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday and gave him the ball in the 8th over. What came next was a proper anti-climax. Bowling to Shakib Al Hasan, Tiwary practically sat down during the bowling stride, extended his arm parallel to the ground and threw what could safely be described as a cheap counterfeit version of Kedar Jadhav’s bowling, which doesn’t set the bar too high itself. To put it more succinctly, it was right-arm tripe. And he was trolled for it as well. For once, fairplay to the trolls. For, the difference between what he promised and what he delivered was such it would put election manifesto to shame.
Putt me down
It’s now official – Kuldeep Yadav and Robin Uthappa are the two best golfers in the KKR squad. At KKR’s annual golf event – Knight Golf – the chinaman bowler revelled in the short-form, winning the putting championship. Uthappa, the team’s vice-captain, on the other hand, brought his big-hitting mojo to the Tolly Club golf course as well, annexing the longest iron (hitting the longer distance) competition. They also played team golf in the Texas Scramble (a fun format that has no restriction on shot selection) style.
The franchise co-owner Jay Mehta’s team trumped Tom Curran’s side. KKR’s annual golf event is very popular among the players and support staff. Proceeds from the event are donated to charities.
A series of dropped catches and a botched-up chase by the Kings XI Punjab, who failed to knock down SunRisers Hyderabad’s below par score of 132 during an IPL game last week, flooded the social media with claims about match-fixing.
Sample these tweets: What is this kings xi ?? Dropped all easy catches No logical wickets (especially; Sran runs all the balls and Rajpoot hits all the ball) No more face expression.. I think this is match fixing??????, a tweet said. ‘Never seen match fixing like this in IPL’, another tweeted.
Preity Zinta, the fiesty Kings XI Punjab co-owner waded into the social media storm as she blasted reports that stated that she had accused several players in the IPL of indulging in match-fixing. Zinta issued a strong denial through a series of tweets.
“This is completely false, libel per say, inaccurate and an irresponsible piece of…,” she posted on her Twitter handle. “Stop spreading rubbish without verification,” she further wrote. Clearly, we have not heard the last word on this one.
Deano can’t stop fretting about RCB
Dean Jones hasn’t been a great fan of the way RCB has played their cricket in IPL. Before we come to his latest, let’s rewind to 2014 when he was on a newsroom studio, talking about Bangalore. RCB was having a poor run, and Jones spoke his mind. “They can’t take a whack on the jaw. They want to take things easy. They don’t want to fight. They are struggling with team spirit. No doubt that’s happening with that team at the moment.”
Not much has changed in four years’ time. RCB is again struggling, and Jones can air his views live this time. “It’s almost as if they deserve to lose,” Jones said the other night in the game against KKR, after an RCB fielder dropped a sitter or fluffed what should have been a routine fielding effort for the umpteenth time. Jones, Scott Styris and Brad Hogg have so far been cheerful in their description of matches in general, but there was no joy this time. The talk soon turned to batting coaches, and inevitably, the question came up: “Do they have a fielding coach? I doubt it.”
Jones knows the man who is the fielding coach of RCB: Trent Woodhill, known for shaping David Warner’s batting. Just this January, Jones had written an article where he disagreed with Woodhill’s thoughts on Glen Maxwell’s batting problems. Woodhill is the batting talent development coach, and also doubles up as the fielding coach for RCB. Couple of years ago, Woodhill, who is a data-driven coach, had said: “I am moneyballing”. Perhaps, the approach doesn’t quite work out for fielding.
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