Here are the major Talking Points after Royal Challengers Bangalore’s six-run win against the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday.
Are Manish Pandey’s runs hurting the Sunrisers?
With 99 runs, Manish Pandey is the leading run-scorer for the Sunrisers Hyderabad at the moment but with a strike rate of 119.27. For someone who faced 83 deliveries across two games, are Pandey’s runs hurting his side more than helping them?
Chasing 188 against the Kolkata Knight Riders, Pandey finished with an unbeaten 61 off 44 balls. According to ESPNcricinfo’s smart stats, which take into account the match situation, his 61 was worth only 56. It was a similar story on Wednesday. The target was 150 but Pandey crawled along for 38 off 39 balls. His smart runs were 34.
The problem with Pandey is even after being set, he fails to kick on. Shiva Jayaraman from our stats team dug out these numbers: in the last three IPL seasons, 25 batsmen have played ten or more innings where they faced 25-plus balls. Pandey’s strike rate of 136.24 after facing 25 balls is the second-worst among them. Only Chris Lynn (129.54) is below him.
Pandey’s dot-ball percentage though isn’t bad, which means he simply struggles to find boundaries. On average, Pandey takes 7.9 balls per boundary after 25 balls, the most in that lot of 25. It’s possible Pandey may have been assigned the role of the anchor, but such a low strike rate, especially after facing so many deliveries, isn’t helping his team’s cause.
Why was Harshal allowed to continue after bowling two waist-high full tosses?
In the 18th over of the Sunrisers’ innings, Harshal Patel bowled a leg-side full toss to Jason Holder, which was called a no-ball for height. In the final over, he bowled another such delivery to Rashid Khan. That too was given a no-ball. But Patel was allowed to continue.
The reason being the on-field umpires didn’t deem at least one of those deliveries not dangerous. The law states that only if a bowler delivers two dangerous deliveries, not necessarily two waist-high full tosses, can he be suspended from bowling further in the innings. While deciding whether a delivery is dangerous or not, the umpires also keep in mind the speed, height and direction of the delivery, and the skill of the striker. Trevor Bayliss, the Sunrisers coach, also agreed with the umpires, saying the first one was not really directed at the batsman.
How did Holder use the slow Chepauk pitch to his advantage?
The MA Chidambaram Stadium surface is known to be slow, sluggish and helpful for spinners. On Tuesday, the Knight Riders bowled spin for the first five overs against the Mumbai Indians. That though also had a bit to do with Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock’s lower strike rates against spin. Still, since 2018, spinners have fared much better in Chennai than seamers. They have a better average (20.74 vs 29.10) and a better economy rate (6.47 vs 8.47).
So far this season, the ball hasn’t swung much in Chennai. During the pitch report, Murali Kartik called Wednesday’s pitch “the driest” of the lot. Still, Holder finished with figures of 3 for 30 from his four overs. How did he do it?
The answer is by banging it in the middle of the pitch and taking the pace off. Seventeen of Holder’s deliveries were either short or short of good length; and only 15 runs came off them. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is a swing bowler and normally bowls fuller, also bowled similar lengths. Out of his 24 deliveries, only two were full, while 11 were either short or short of good length. Off those 11 deliveries, he conceded just six.
Why did Shahbaz Ahmed bat at No. 3?
Shahbaz Ahmed had played 24 T20s coming into this game and had never batted higher than No. 5. But Virat Kohli stated at the toss itself that Ahmed would be batting at No. 3.
Over the years, the Royal Challengers have been too top-heavy and been found wanting in case of early wickets. While they have got Glenn Maxwell, alongside AB de Villiers, to shore up the middle order this time, they probably want to ensure the two don’t come in too early. That’s why in the first game they had Rajat Patidar batting at No. 3.
Now with Devdutt Padikkal fit, there was no place for Patidar. So the Royal Challengers went with Ahmed, who was aggressive right from the start, allowing Kohli to take his time at the other end. He managed 14 off ten and fell on the first ball of the seventh over. Did the move work? It might just have because you don’t want to keep two of your best batsmen out of action for too long.
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
Recent Match Report – Essex vs Derbyshire Group 1 2021
Champions recover from first-day washout to complete second win of campaign
Essex 412 for 3 dec beat Derbyshire 146 (Guest 49, Harmer 9-80) and 251 (Guest 65, Godleman 45, Porter 3-41, Cook 3-45, Harmer 3-122) by an innings and 15 runs
Simon Harmer claimed his seventh LV= Insurance County Championship 10-wicket haul as Essex returned to winning ways by cruising to an innings-and-15-run victory over Derbyshire.
Harmer, who bowled unchanged from the River End on day four, took 3 for 122 in the second innings after a career-best 9 for 80 in the first, for a match analysis of 12 for 202. Jamie Porter and Sam Cook also took three scalps in the second innings.
Ryan ten Doeschate claimed six catches in the match, all at short-leg – the 14th occasion an Essex player has managed the feat and first since Alastair Cook versus Durham in 2004.
The win handed Essex the maximum 24 points to recharge their Division One ambition after three games without a success, while Derbyshire only secured a solitary point.
But a change of ball, after Guest had swept into the brick wall in front of the pavilion, brought about an immediate change. Porter angled in to Godleman to rap the former Essex man on the pads.
Four overs later Guest made a rare misstep on 65, as he offered no shot to Sam Cook and was also given lbw.
Leus du Plooy and Wayne Madsen were both dropped either side of lunch – the former dropped by Alastair Cook at first slip and the latter survived sweeping at leg slip Dan Lawrence.
Essex’s close-in fielders continued to chunter noisily about “going bang-bang”, and finally got their wish as Madsen and du Plooy’s stand ended in quick succession, having been together for 19 overs.
Madsen tickled onto his thigh pad before ten Doeschate swooped at short-leg to give Harmer his first of the innings, having been wicketless for 29.5 overs.
In the following over, Shane Snater drew an edge out of du Plooy with Alastair Cook holding on at first slip.
Harvey Hosein and Matt Critchley chewed up another 15 overs before another bang-bang as Harmer and ten Doeschate teamed up for the sixth time in the match.
Hosein was the victim of some panther-like reactions, low under the lid, after a thick inside-edge before Fynn Hudson-Prentice went back and looped a diving chance off his legs.
Critchley was the next to depart when Porter struck with the second new ball as he edged to Alastair Cook.
Sam Cook completed the emphatic victory when Billy Stanlake chipped to mid-on before Alex Hughes sliced to point.
Essex have now beaten Derbyshire by an innings in four of their last five meetings, with this win coming despite a washed-out opening day and 147 overs lost in the match.
David Saker on Newlands ball-tampering controversy
The then Australia bowling coach has likened the team’s ‘monumental mistake’ to the underarm incident of 1981
David Saker, Australia’s bowling coach at the time of the Newlands ball-tampering scandal, has said the controversy will continue to taint Australian cricket much like the underarm incident of 1981 has done.
Saker’s comments came in the wake of the publication of an interview in The Guardian, where Cameron Bancroft – the player caught using sandpaper on the ball at Newlands – hinted that there was wider knowledge of the ball-tampering plan within the Australian dressing room beyond the trio of players sanctioned by Cricket Australia: himself, captain Steven Smith and vice-captain David Warner.
Without going into details of what went on in the dressing room, Saker said there was no foreseeable end to the blame game surrounding the events at Newlands.
“Obviously a lot of things went wrong at that time. The finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on,” Saker told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
“There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.
“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.
“You could point your finger at me, you could point your finger at Boof [then head coach Darren Lehmann], could you point it at other people, of course you could.
“The disappointing thing is it’s never going to go away. Regardless of what’s said. We all know that we made a monumental mistake. The gravity wasn’t as plain until it all came out.”
Following the publication of the Bancroft interview, Cricket Australia had issued a statement clarifying it was still open to hearing and investigating any new information brought to light about the Newlands incident, whether from Bancroft or anyone else.
Saker wasn’t sure what a reopened investigation would achieve.
“I don’t think it’d be unfair. I just don’t know what they’re going to find out,” Saker said. “It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away.”
Gender equality campaigners call on Lord’s to cancel men’s Varsity fixture
The Stump Out Sexism (SOS) campaign has called upon Marylebone Cricket Club to revoke its traditional invitation to Oxford and Cambridge universities to play the men’s Varsity match at Lord’s, unless a women’s game is also included.
Replying to a request from the campaign to “step in” to find an “equitable solution” to a disagreement about gender parity in university cricket, the MCC chief executive, Guy Lavender, wrote in a letter on Friday that Lord’s would be “very happy to accommodate a men’s and women’s T20 double header on the same day next year” in response.
But he also suggested the dispute was “primarily a matter for [the] respective universities” and stopped short of committing to intervene to ensure the match came to fruition.
While that response has encouraged the organisers of the SOS campaign, who have noted they won more commitment from MCC in two days than they had from the universities’ cricket clubs in two-and-a-half years, they describe themselves as “not completely satisfied”.
They argue that MCC could go further and use their power as hosts to insist on gender parity. The men’s varsity match has been played (in various formats) at Lord’s for almost 200 years. The women’s match has never made it beyond the Nursery Ground and this year, with Lord’s undergoing a redevelopment, has not even made it that far.
Now, while expressing their appreciation for the MCC offer, the SOS campaign have called for a “further commitment to ensuring the Varsity fixture is equitable”.
The men’s Varsity match, a 50-overs a side affair, is scheduled to be played on May 23. Despite previous requests from figures involved in the SOS campaign (notably the former Oxford University captain, Vanessa Picker) to share the day with the women’s teams (meaning the men’s match would become a T20), the universities’ cricket clubs have been reluctant to do so. While SOS were delighted to gain such a swift reply from MCC, they have now called upon them to go a step further and compel the clubs to comply.
“We do not accept that, as their letter states, this is primarily a matter for the universities,” SOS said in a statement. “The MCC have control over their own calendar and thus have the power to influence the parameters of fixture invitations and to raise the bar further.
“We, therefore, ask the MCC to specify that the offer of next year’s Oxbridge Varsity match being played on the main ground is entirely conditional upon both the men’s and the women’s teams being involved equally. If the clubs continue to insist that any date should be exclusively for the men, the invitation must be revoked.
“A tentative offer of a double-header T20 Varsity event in a future season (which is still contingent on the clubs agreeing to do this) does not make up for years of exclusion.”
While acknowledging that “it may indeed be too short notice” to convert this year’s Varsity fixture at Lord’s into a T20 double-header – not least because is being used as a test event to enable MCC to gain a license to host the first Test against New Zealand 10 days later – the campaigners have requested a “women’s match to be scheduled for later this season.”
Their statement continues: “We request that the MCC utilise one of the days currently unallocated on the 2021 fixture list (of which there are still 95) to schedule at least a 100-ball format match for the women.”
It is perhaps worth noting that, among those taking to Twitter to express their support for the SOS campaign was Beth Barrett-Wild, the Head of The Hundred Women’s Competition and Female Engagement at the ECB. She played in three Varsity matches – all on the Nursery Ground at Lord’s – and also previously worked in the MCC communications department. She is, therefore, not without influence.
In the longer term, though, the disagreement could compromise the future of Varsity cricket at Lord’s. The MCC executive is already acutely sensitive to the club’s reputation towards inclusivity – a reputation they feel is out-dated – and may have little tolerance for being dragged into what they see as someone else’s fight. Their attitude might be summed up with a phrase uttered by many a frustrated parent: if you can’t share nicely, you won’t get to play at all.
MCC have, over the last couple of decades, pumped millions of pounds in university cricket (as sponsors of the MCCU scheme), funded numerous leagues and coaching schemes in the community, started to recognise the achievements in women’s internationals on the ground on honours boards and recently announced the appointment of their first female president (former England captain Clare Connor starts the role in October). As a result, they are more than a little peeved at any suggestion they may be the villains of the piece.
At the same time, the disagreement may also draw attention to the somewhat antiquated tradition of hosting Varsity matches at Lord’s at all. There are many other organisations (not least other universities) with equal claims on the basis of cricketing merit and Oxbridge’s connotations with privilege and entitlement may not be helpful to the modern MCC.
SOS campaigners have also confirmed they will be approaching the cricket clubs at both universities to request “confirmation that they will respond favourably to the MCC’s invitation for a men’s and women’s T20 double-header”. They are also asking “that an apology be made by the clubs for failing to address this issue sooner despite repeated requests”.
ESPNcricinfo contacted MCC and officials at both university cricket clubs for comment. MCC declined; officials from the cricket clubs had not, at the time of publication, responded
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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