Another riveting week of cricket comes to an end: There were thrillers, superb tons, match-winning spells, hat-trick and much, much more. Let’s dive right into it:
What's making the headlines?
A devine innings from Royal Challengers Bangalore's (RCB) Sophie gave them a temporary relief as they went on to notch up their second win of the season. Her innings had eight maximums and eight fours to help her side chase down 189 with nearly five overs to spare. Devine lived up to every word of her name at the Yoga capital of the world.
Meg Lanning cannot do any wrong, can she? She can win the World Cup, she can win gold in CWG, take a sabbatical and return to action like she’s never missed a day. Delhi Capitals (DC) become the first-ever finalist in the WPL and their skipper Lanning, has played a pivotal role in taking her side to the final. Wait, should Lanning be a back-up captain for the DC Men’s side as well? Too much?
DC will take on Mumbai Indians (MI) in the WPL 2023 final at the Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai on Sunday (March 26). MI thrashed UP Warriorz by 72 runs in the eliminator on Friday (March 23) to book their place in the final. Moreover, they did it at the back of a brutal unbeaten 72 off 38 by Nat Sciver-Brunt and an Issy Wong hat-trick, the first-ever in WPL.
Check out the beautiful piece written by Shweta Haranhalli on the brilliance that is Nat-Sciver Brunt.
The Hundred draft
The Welsh Fire who finished bottom of the table had the first pick and they went for the big guns –The Pakistan Super League (PSL) title-winning duo of Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf. Trent Rockets snapped up India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, while Southern Brave had already retained vice-captain Smriti Mandhana.
Sophie Devine (Birmingham Phoenix), Danni Wyatt (Southern Brave) and Alice Davidson-Richards (Northern Superchargers) were retained by their franchises by using the Right To Match (RTM) card.
Are you an associate buff like me? If so, I have some good news for you. Netherland’s Roelof Van der Merwe (Welsh Fire), Bas de Leede (Northern Superchargers) and Scotland pacer Brad Wheal (Trent Rockets) too have been snapped up in the draft.
What’s player impact rule change everyone’s talking about?
Just like the IPL or T20s for that matter, this is not something earth-shattering the BCCI has come up with. It has been previously tested in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. According to the Player Impact rule in the IPL, the teams can name the XI after the toss. The captain will be allowed to carry two sheets of paper to toss and depending on the outcome of the toss decide on the final playing XI.
The teams can now review a wide or no-ball call. What this essentially means is that the captain no longer has to call his team back to the pavilion in case there is a discrepancy with the umpire’s call, or walk onto the pitch.
DC head coach Ricky Ponting has said that the impact player rule essentially will make all-rounders redundant given that the franchise can now have replace a bowler with a batter or vice-versa at any point in the game.
Injury Premier League
Jasprit Bumrah, Jhye Richardson, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, Mohsin Khan, Mukesh Choudhary, Kyle Jamieson – these are just some of the players at the top of my head who will miss IPL 2023 due to injuries. If I really dig deeper, I can think of the likes of Prasidh Krishna and Will Jacks as well.
Punjab Kings would have hoped Jonny Bairstow would be available following his recovery from his freak golf accident that kept him out of the T20 World Cup. But the ECB are unwilling to release him keeping the Ashes in mind, making this list quite extensive already. Talk about fielding a XI.
What's happening in international cricket?
High Klass knock
Riding on Shai Hope’s ton, West Indies won the second ODI against South Africa in East London by 48 runs. West Indies looked on course to win the third ODI as well as they had reduced the Proteas to 87 for 4, but that is when Heinrich Klaasen went berserk. He made a mockery of the 261-run target, smashing a century off just 54 deliveries – the fourth fastest by a South African – as the Proteas chased it down in just 29.3 overs!
They cannot afford to ponder over it too much as they have a T20I series against South Africa starting later today.
Just like the ODIs marked a new era under new skipper for West Indies with Shai Hope at the helm, it will be similar in the T20Is as well with Rovman Powell taking charge.
Not to flex, maybe a little, but here’s an interview I did with Powell just a few days before he was named captain. You’re welcome, Rovman!
How many times have you seen a batter register three back-to-back golden ducks in international cricket? It would have been zero (shoonya) if I had asked you this question 10 days ago, but that number has gone up to ONE! The ONE and ONLY Suryakumar Yadav.
After getting out first-ball against Mitchell Starc in the first two games, SKY was sent out to bat at No. 7 to take India home. It made sense as he could play the sort of innings he generally plays in T20s, where he has been at his dominant best since his debut two years ago. However, Surya decided to mix things up. Instead of Starc, he was dismissed by Ashton Agar in the third ODI in Chennai. And instead of getting out leg-before, he was out bowled.
Agar the unsung hero
Agar went on get rid of Surya and Virat Kohli off back-to-back deliveries to tilt the game in Australia’s favour in a chase of 270. Australia went on to win the game by 21 runs and with that the series 2-1, handing India their first ODI series defeat at home since 2019. Who did India lose to then? Yep, it was the Aussies once again!
Agar was sent back home mid-way through the Test series but he was not disheartened. He went back home, starred in the Marsh Cup final and turned the screws in the series-decider. Here’s Bastab Parida talking about the comeback man.
A promising finale ends in disappointment
It went down to the wire in Christchurch as New Zealand won the first Test off the last delivery. However, they walked all over Sri Lanka in the second game, winning it by an innings and 58 runs. Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls led the way with double centuries and Sri Lanka never really recovered from that.
Not the first time Nicholls has played a career-saving knock. Here’s Anirudh Suresh trying to explain further.
Dimuth Karunaratne has announced that he will step down as captain after the two Tests against Ireland at home next month, allowing a new captain to take charge from the next World Test Championship (WTC) cycle.
Going back to New Zealand cricket, Daryl Mitchell and Amelia Kerr walked away with the highest NZC cricket honours. Mitchell won his first-ever Sir Richard Hadlee medal while Kerr took home the inaugural Debbie Hockley medal for her outstanding all-round show over the last 12 months.
Another humdinger on the cards?
Amid all the high-profile series, the Zimbabwe-Netherlands series is proving to be a humdinger. The Dutch surprised everyone when they beat Zimbabwe by two wickets in the first game, riding on a brilliant unbeaten ton from Teja Nidamanaru, who came into bat at No. 7 when his side were 64 for 5 in a chase of 250. If that drama was not enough, Netherlands pushed Zimbabwe once again in the second game, falling short by just one run, chasing 272.
Everything seemed to be going according to plan for the Dutch before Wesley Madhevere ripped through the line-up with a timely hat-trick. It promises to be a nail-biting decider!
History in Sharjah
Eighth time’s the charm for Afghanistan as they finally manage to beat Pakistan in an international fixture. They had come so close in the Asia Cup last year, but finally crossed the finish line on Friday (March 24) when they won a low-scoring affair by six wickets, with an ice-cool Mohammad Nabi casually smashing a six down the ground to finish the game.
Pakistan managed just 92 or 9 from their 20 overs and it looked like they could pull off an improbable win having reduced their opposition to 45 for 4 inside 10 overs. Ihsanullah even kick-started his international career with two wickets in his first over. However, Najibullah Zadran (17*) and Nabi (38*) ensured there were no more hiccups.
A legend retires
Former Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer called it a day bringing an end to two decades of representing his country at the international stage. The batter finished as the leading run-getter for Scotland across formats with 4,687 runs that included five hundreds and 27 fifties.
Coetzer also won the ICC associate player of the decade in 2020. He led Scotland in the 2021 T20 World Cup, where his side beat Bangladesh first, before beating Oman and PNG to make the Super 12s unbeaten and assure themselves of a direct qualification to the 2022 T20 World Cup.
Articles in focus
Is Mitchell Starc an ODI GOAT? Shubh Aggarwal maps the pacer’s journey that goes on to prove that he indeed could be one. Or is he one, already? Read to find out.
You don’t win back-to-back Pakistan Super League (PSL) titles by sheer fluke. There were a lot of talks if a fast bowler can indeed by a successful captain when Afridi was handed the reins last season. He has gone on to prove that it was indeed a masterstroke. Bastab Parida goes on to write more about the pacer, who is on his way to cricketing royalty.
Bastab is at it again as he goes on to write on former Australia captain Tim Paine who retired from first-class cricket recently. Paine went on to take over as captain in controversial circumstances and it ended in similar fashion. Here’s more on the Tasmanian.
How will DC cope without Rishabh Pant? Here's Shubh Aggarwal's take on it.
UAE’s Aayan Khan has made tremendous strides in international cricket already. In a chat with yours truly, the all-rounder goes on to share his experience at the T20 World Cup, his idol Ravindra Jadeja and more.
Aakash Sivasubramaniam is at it again with a witty piece. This time he takes a dig at RCB. What else could you possibly expect from a CSK fan?
IPL 2023 team previews:
Video in focus