Ah, here we go!
Another Saturday, and we have got another edition of Cricket.com’s Weekly Newsletter for all of you.
What made the headlines?
A rare home defeat for India
Winning a Test against India in India is rare, so rare that only two teams - Australia (twice) and England (once) - have managed to do so since 2013. There is no doubt that India is the most difficult country to tour, so winning a Test here will always require some extraordinary contributions.
Having already lost the first two Tests of the four-match series, not many would have thought that Australia would go on to topple India on a rank-turner in Indore, but that’s exactly what happened. The visiting side, who were without their regular skipper Pat Cummins, smashed India in all three departments under the leadership of Steven Smith.
The hosts won the all-important toss and decided to bat first but were bundled out for just 109 in the first innings, with Matthew Kuhnemann claiming a five-wicket haul. Usman Khawaja then got 60 and powered Australia to a lead of 88 runs. The visitors lost their last six wickets for 11 runs but still had enough lead on the board.
Cheteshwar Pujara (142-ball 59) did put up some fight in the second innings, but other Indian batters surrendered to Nathan Lyon. The off-spinner took eight wickets and India could only manage a lead of 75, which was never going to be enough and Australia got home with nine wickets to spare.
India have retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy but haven't won this series as yet. On top of that, they will have to win the last Test if they want to set up a date with Australia in the WTC final later this year. If that doesn’t happen, India will have to rely on the result of the Sri Lanka-New Zealand series.
Indore surface rated poor
This is what happens if a Test match gets over inside seven sessions. The pitch used at the Holkar Stadium in Indore has been rated 'poor' by the ICC. The venue received three demerit points and will be suspended from hosting any international cricket for a period of 12 months if it accumulates five or more demerit points over a five-year rolling period.
Say hello to WPL!
The wait is finally over. The inaugural edition of the Women’s Premier League is set to get underway on Saturday, with Gujarat Giants taking on Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener, and there have been some major updates prior to the event.
Royal Challengers Bangalore and UP Warriorz were slightly early, but Delhi Capitals, Gujarat Giants and Mumbai Indians too have now announced their respective captains. Australia’s Meg Lanning, who is the only player across men and women to have five world titles as a captain, has been appointed as Delhi’s skipper.
Jemimah Rodrigues will be Lanning’s deputy, just like Sneh Rana would be to Beth Mooney at Gujarat. The latter was Player of the Match in the final of the 2023 T20 World Cup in South Africa.
Then we have Mumbai, and the franchise will be led by India’s very own Harmanpreet Kaur. And, Harmanpreet is upbeat about the league and believes it could help reduce the gap between India and Australia.
Oh, did we mention RCB are using artificial intelligence to unearth new players? Well, here’s how they are planning to make the AI scouting system work.
Wagner gets his revenge
England thought they could keep Neil ‘freaking’ Wagner down for four innings straight, but we know how the 36-year-old likes to play this game. No matter how many punches you throw at him, the left-arm paceman will always get up and try to knock you out.
5.02, 8.46 and 5.66 - These were Wagner’s economy rates in the first three innings of the two-match series, but when the time came to step up and help New Zealand level the series, the paceman claimed 4/62 on day five of the second Test and propelled his team to a thrilling one-run victory.
England’s Test coach Brendon McCullum called Wagner “one of the toughest I've come across” and it was he who got the prized scalps of Joe Root and Ben Stokes before getting the crucial final wicket of James Anderson just one short of the target.
Short ball after short ball after short ball… Wagner didn’t allow England to chase down 258 and gave them their second defeat in their last 12 Tests.
Ashwin is your new No. 1 Test bowler
James Anderson’s days as the top-ranked Test bowler didn’t last too long. R Ashwin, who has claimed 18 wickets at an average of 15.72 in the ongoing series against Australia, has leapfrogged Anderson to take that No. 1 spot.
Sixth T20 WC title for Australia
Yup, it’s been a while since that final in Cape Town. Do we even need to tell you who won the 2023 T20 World Cup? No points for guessing, it was Australia, once again.
When South African captain Sune Luus said “you guys (Australia) are very annoying” at the post-match presentation ceremony, we all felt that. Don't they get tired of winning? At this stage, it feels like all teams come to these events just to lose to Australia.
Mooney hammered 74* off 53 deliveries to propel Australia to 156/6 in their 20 overs. The Aussie bowling unit then finished the job in the second innings, giving Australia their sixth T20 World Cup title, to go with their seven titles in the 50-over format.
What’s going on in international cricket?
The likes of Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach and Jermaine Blackwood produced some individual brilliance for West Indies, but it was still not enough to defeat South Africa. Aiden Markram was named Player of the Match, scoring 115 and 47 across two innings. Temba Bavuma became the fourth player to register a pair on his captaincy debut, but he wouldn’t be too worried about it as his side emerged victorious by 87 runs. SA pacers Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada were also amongst the wickets.
Just like winning a Test in India, defeating Bangladesh in an ODI series at home is also extremely difficult. England defeated them in 2016 and have now done the same in 2023. In between, no other team managed to win an ODI series in Bangladesh. Dawid Malan crafted a stunning century in the first ODI to take England home, while Jason Roy (124-ball 132) stole all the limelight in the second encounter.
England cricketers Harry Brook and Issy Wong have been named Major League Baseball Europe 'ambassadors' ahead of June's games in London. Brook will join the St.Louis Cardinals for their spring training in Florida.
A week after Pakistan's last league match against England in the ICC T20 World Cup, Bismah Maroof resigned as the captain of the women's team after leading the side in 64 T20Is and 34 ODIs.
Believe it or not, the Pakistan Super League (PSL) is the only active league at the moment, at least till WPL gets underway on Saturday (March 4), and we’re 19 games into the 2023 edition.
Lahore Qalandars are currently at the top of the points table, having won five of their six games so far. They clobbered 241/3 against Peshawar Zalmi and 200/7 against Islamabad United but would be more proud of their win against Quetta Gladiators. After being reduced to 50/7, Sikandar Raza smashed 71* off 34 deliveries to propel Lahore to 148, which their strong bowling unit managed to defend quite easily.
Karachi Kings have lost six of their eight games but their skipper Imad Wasim has been in astonishing form. The left-hander smoked 92* off 54 deliveries against Islamabad United but still ended up on the losing side, thanks to Azam Khan’s 41-ball 72*. Imad is currently the second-highest run-getter in the tournament, having scored 329 runs in eight innings at an average of 164.50 and a strike rate of 176.88.
Don’t worry, we also have some must-read articles for you all.
Let’s start with a couple of articles from Gaurav Nandan Tripathi. The first one is where he tells you why Meg Lanning’s Australia is so good. And, the other one is on Tazmin Brits, who never gives up.
Alright, please also allow Bastab K Parida to tell you what makes Cheteshwar Pujara a different beast in the second innings.