Phew. Feels so good to be back home again. By ‘home’ I’m referring to the Newsletter, and the ‘i’ in question here is me, Anirudh Suresh.
I’m back, which means brace yourself for a lot of dull writing and (occasional) dry humor.
For two months, my buddy Gaurav Nandan Tripathi did an exceptional job and lit up the Newsletter in a wizardly manner with his words, but I’m back in the driver’s seat now, with GNT earning a well-deserved break.
Two months out is a long time away, so there’ll inevitably be some rust. So bear with me, just for this one week.
Anyway, enough of me and my break. Let’s get into this week’s news right away!
The complete recap — everything that’s happened in the last 7 days
HARDIK PANDYA IS THE NEW MUMBAI INDIANS SKIPPER!
It’s a news that’s rocked Indian cricket. It’s come out of the blue, and it’s left a bad taste in the mouth of several Mumbai Indians supporters!
Indeed, Hardik Pandya has been named the new skipper of MI, with the all-rounder taking over from Rohit Sharma. The announcement was made by the franchise through a press / social media release on Friday (December 15th).
Pandya was traded from Gujarat Titans last month, but when the trade went through, folks were confident that Rohit would continue captaining MI (due to his legacy). However, that’s no longer the case, bringing an end to a glorious captaincy era in which Rohit captained MI to five IPL titles.
With that out of the way, let’s get into the other stuff. Plentyyyyyy of on-field action over the last few days, so let’s get through the games first.
What’s been happening on the field?
> Playing their first home Test in nearly a decade, the Harmanpreet Kaur-led Indian side created HISTORY by registering the biggest margin of victory in Women’s Test history. After setting a target of 479 for England, the hosts bundled out the visitors for just 131 in the fourth innings to win the one-off Test and turn into history makers.
> The Indian Men, meanwhile, have taken a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series after drawing the T20Is earlier in the week. It was a demolition too, with India bowling out South Africa for 116 before chasing the total down inside 17 overs. Arshdeep, Avesh & debutant Sai Sudharsan all sizzled.
> Australia have taken a 1-0 lead in the three-match Test series against Pakistan after steamrolling the visitors in Perth. The Test belonged to two individuals: David Warner, who silenced his critics with a scorching ton, and Nathan Lyon, who joined the 500 club. Debutants Khurram Shahzad and Aamer Jamal impressed for Pakistan, but that was about it.
> Bangladesh have won the U19 Asia Cup, beating UAE U19 in the final by 195 runs. Everyone anticipated an India-Pakistan final but both the favorites lost in the semis. The Tigers (2021 U19 WC champions) continue to impress at the youth level.
> The five-match T20I series between England and West Indies is nicely poised 2-1 after 3 games. With their backs against the wall in the third game, 0-2 down, Phil Salt (109* of 56) and Harry Brook (31* off 7) played sensational knocks to keep the visitors in the series.
> After winning the T20I series 2-1, Ireland have also won the three-match ODI series vs Zimbabwe (2-0). In the four-wicket win in the second ODI, Josh Little picked up career-best figures of 6/36.
> New Zealand Men have taken a 1-0 lead vs Bangladesh following a 44-run win in a rain-curtailed contest. Will Young (105 off 84) and Tom Latham (92* off 77) set-up the win for the Kiwis.
> The New Zealand Women have also been doing well, with them sealing the three-match series vs Pakistan by winning the first two games. Suzie Bates (108 & 74) has been the standout for the White Ferns in the series. Pakistan, though, scored a consolation win in the third game, triumphing in a Super Over.
> The Bangladesh Women, meanwhile, have been faring far better than the Men. After drawing the T20I series vs South Africa (1-1), they’ve just taken a 1-0 lead in the ODIs after mauling the hosts by a 119-run margin.
> Moving to domestic cricket, Haryana have won the Vijay Hazare Trophy for the FIRST TIME IN THEIR HISTORY after beating Rajasthan by 30 runs in the final. A campaign to remember for opener Ankit Kumar (453 runs @ 50.33) and pace-bowling all-rounder Sumit Kumar (183 runs @ 155.08 SR and 18 wickets @ 16.77) average.
> Sticking to Indian domestic cricket, the first unofficial Test between India ‘A’ and South Africa ‘A’ has ended as a draw. However, despite rain interrupting the contest, it was a clash in which Prasidh Krishna, Shardul Thakur and young Pradosh Paul all impressed (more on Pradosh later).
What’s been happening off the field?
> England Lions will play three four-day matches against India ‘A’ in January in Ahmedabad and they’ve named a 15-member squad for the series. You can check out the full squad here but Brydon Carse, Alex Lees, Keaton Jennings & Matt Potts are some of the big names in the squad.
> India will be without Mohammed Shami for the South Africa Tests; Shami has been ruled out with an ankle injury. Meanwhile, Ishan Kishan has withdrawn from the Test squad due to personal reasons; he’s been replaced by KS Bharat.
> Travis Head has been appointed Australia’s vice-captain for Tests (again), nearly five years after he was first handed the role.
> In the latest episode of Sri Lankan cricket drama, SLC have appointed a new five-man selection panel, with former batter Upul Tharanga being the chairman. The panel also consists of Ajantha Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Tharanga Paranavitana & Indika de Saram. Meanwhile, Sanath Jayasuriya has been appointed Sri Lanka's cricket consultant for one year.
> In IPL related news, Shreyas Iyer has been named KKR’s captain for IPL 2024. Iyer missed IPL 2023 due to injury, due to which Nitish Rana captained the franchise, but Rana will serve as Iyer’s deputy for IPL 2024.
In the spotlight
Pradosh Ranjan Paul
22-year-old Tamil Nadu batter Pradosh Paul, who was a run-machine at the youth level and had a breakthrough 2022/23 season for TN in red-ball cricket, played the best knock of his young career, yet, against South Africa A, smashing 163 with the side reeling at 225/5 at one point. The youngster has now scored 4 tons in his first 11 FC games and is averaging nearly 70.00. Don’t sleep on Pradosh — he is a star in the making.
On Day 1 of the first Test between Australia and Pakistan, Cameron Green announced that he was born with a chronic kidney disease. With there being no cure for the condition, Green has revealed that, all these years, he’s been managing the condition, carefully monitoring his diet among other things. Wishes have poured in for Green since the announcement and he’s been lauded universally for having the courage to open up and speak out about a rare condition. The revelation makes you appreciate his achievements even more.
Deepti Sharma was the biggest reason behind India scripting history at the DY Patil stadium in England. The all-rounder smashed 67 with the bat in the first innings and then followed it up by taking 5/7 in the first innings with the ball. She then scored a quickfire 20 in the third innings (declaration slog) and took another four-fer in the fourth innings to complete a perfect performance. Deepti rightly got hailed the team’s ‘Ben Stokes’ by head coach Amol Muzumdar.
On Sunday (December 17th), Nathan Lyon became only the third Australian to cross the 500-wicket mark in Tests, joining the elusive club that consists of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. Faheem Ashraf was Lyon’s 500th Test victim: he got the left-hander LBW via a successful review.
Some achievement for the G.O.A.T, who about 13 years ago was a groundsperson in South Australia. Could he get to 600? Maybe even 700? Who knows?
Controversies of the week
Ahmed Shehzad rage quits PSL
Earlier this week, former Pakistan opener Ahmed Shehzad rage quit the Pakistan Super League (PSL) after not being picked in the PSL draft. Shehzad took to social media to announce that he’s bidding goodbye to the PSL for the sake of ‘his own self-respect’. Shehzad said the following in a cryptic portion in the statement: ‘I exactly know the reason why I’m not part of the PSL - the whole country and my fans will know it very soon’.
Pakistan cricket never ceases to amaze with all its drama, no?
Naveen-ul-Haq has been banned by the ILT20Afghanistan quick Naveen-ul-Haq has been slapped with a 20-month (effective 2-year) ban by the ILT20 for breaching his player agreement with Sharjah Warriors. Naveen, who has signed with SA20's Durban's Super Giants (sister franchise of Lucknow Super Giants) will not be able to play ILT20 in both 2024 and 2025.
Picture of the weekWhat a moment for the G.O.A.T
CDC's IPL auction build-up