Competition wide open as IPL action heats up
CSK’s woes and Delhi’s ascent
The Chennai Super Kings continued to flounder in the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League. The team, which has been the most consistent of all the teams in making it to the playoffs, appeared to be in serious danger of failing to make the cut this time, although it was still fairly early days in the tournament.
Chennai, which managed one convincing win, when Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis fired in tandem to set up a 10-wicket thrashing of Kings XI Punjab, have generally struggled with their batting. The middle-order has failed to fire, and the strong finishes that they have grown used to have simply not come their way in this edition. They have not helped themselves by being unsettled, slightly unsure of the exact batting order they would like to use, whether batting first to set up a score or chasing.
After six matches, Chennai has just two wins and find themselves in fifth place in the points table, alongside Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals, who have both played one match fewer but are below by virtue of Net Run Rate.
Delhi Capitals have been the big winner early on, sitting at the second position on the table with eight points from five matches. Mumbai have played one more match than Delhi but have a superior Net Run Rate.
Stokes returns to boost Rajasthan
The arrival of Ben Stokes, the talismanic England allrounder, in the United Arab Emirates, was a major boost for the Rajasthan Royals. England allrounder, who has family in New Zealand, missed the early part of the cricketing season as he had to return to be with his ailing father.
Stokes was given leave by the England and Wales Cricket Board during their home series against Pakistan, the second international assignment during cricket’s return after the Covid-19 pandemic, and was in New Zealand for five weeks.
Stokes revealed that it had been a family decision to get back to the game when he set his sights on joining his Rajasthan team at the IPL. “Sitting in a hotel room in quarantine once again after leaving New Zealand is not how I thought I would be arriving at the IPL, but here I am and all things considered, I’m in a good place,” Stokes wrote in a column for The Mirror.
“Saying goodbye to my dad, my mum, and my brother in Christchurch was tough. It has been difficult for us as a family, but we’ve pulled together and supported each other as best we can. And I was able to get on the plane with my parents’ love and blessing after we reached the decision, for me to get back playing, as a family with no external influences.”
Shakib to ease back in as cricket begins in Bangladesh
Shakib-al-Hasan, the Bangladesh allrounder who was banned from all cricket forms for one year by the International Cricket Council for failing to report a corrupt approach, was set to make his return to the game having served his times.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hasan said that the allrounder would be back in action during the domestic Twenty20 league competition that is expected to begin in mid-November. The BCB has not yet announced whether this league would be a franchise based one after the Bangladesh Premier League was scrapped in 2019 due to a fall out between the franchises and the board. The initial plan was to revive the tournament in 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic put paid to that.
The first steps for the resumption of cricket in Bangladesh are already underway with the national squad playing intra-squad matches in the course of a preparatory camp in Dhaka. The successful staging of these matches has emboldened the BCB to announce a three-team 50-over tournament that will be played by top players in Bangladesh.
An Australian hero is laid to rest
Dean Jones, the former Australian batsman, most recently a world-renowned television pundit and cricket expert, was working on the Indian Premier League, in the host broadcaster studios, when he passed away of a massive cardiac arrest. Jones, who was active and his usual jovial self, showed no signs of being vulnerable, and his death at the age of 59 plunged the cricket world into shock and grief.
Jones played 52 Test matches and 162 One-Day Internationals for Australia between 1984 and 1994. He was best known for his innings of 210 in Chennai’s oppressive heat in the epic tied Test match of 1986-87. Jones was so ravaged by batting for so long in extreme conditions that he had to be hospitalised and put on a saline drip as soon as he was dismissed.
But, Jones was best known for his pioneering attitude to limited-overs cricket. He showed the world the importance of fitness, fielding and running between the wickets in the game’s shorter format. Jones was also ahead of his time when it came to innovative tactics and strategies, which made him a natural in the commentary box once he had stopped playing.
When Jones suffered his cardiac episode, he was with Brett Lee, the former Australian fast bowler, and was resuscitated twice before being unable to hold on. Jones was given a final send-off at his beloved Melbourne Cricket Ground, with family members and those close to him from the cricket fraternity in attendance.
Australia’s women extend dominant streak
Australia’s women capped off a perfect home series against arch-rivals New Zealand and extended their victory run to 21 matches. This equalled the world record for most consecutive One Day International wins. The team was led by stand-in captain Rachel Haynes, who quickly gave credit where it was due.
Both teams were missing key players, with Australia having to make do without the services of Alyssa Healy and Meg Lanning. “For players like Annabel and Sofie to get that opportunity throughout that series is invaluable,” said Haynes. “It’s been pleasing today to put a performance like that even without two of the best players in the world arguably not walking out on the field today in Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry. It’s nice to know that our depth is there, and those players are more than capable of stepping in and performing on any given day.”
For New Zealand, this meant that they had now not beaten Australia since 2017.
The record for the most consecutive wins was set by the Australian men’s team back in 2003. Under Ricky Ponting, Australia were an utterly dominant force, winning the International Cricket Council World Cup and also setting up the streak of 21 consecutive victories.