SPECIALS – The first Parsis to play Test cricket

  In a two-part post last year, I had written about how the Parsi community in India took to the game of cricket in the later part of the 19th century and how a squad entirely consisting of Parsis became the first ever team from India to tour England.

  Their efforts led to a massive surge in the popularity of the game in India, and eventually India became the sixth nation to play Test cricket in the summer of 1932. Named as the ‘All-India’ team, the C.K Nayudu-led outfit created history when it represented the country in its first Test match against England at Lord’s. This was the only Test India played on the tour, and despite losing by 158 runs, they showed a lot of promise for the years to come. The Indian eleven for this landmark Test included two Parsis, Sorabji Colah and Phiroze ‘Piloo’ Palia.

  Sorabji Hormasji Manchersa Colah was an attacking right-handed middle-order batsman who was also well-known for his excellent fielding skills. Born in Bombay on September 22, 1902, he made his first-class debut for the Parsis during the 1922-23 Bombay Quadrangular Tournament. After an ordinary start, his performances became increasingly noteworthy and he established himself as one of the leading Parsi cricketers in the country. He was selected to play for the Indians against the touring Marylebone Cricket Club (M.C.C) in 1926-27. A few months before India embarked on their 1932 journey to England, a ‘Probables v Possibles’ trial match was played at the Lawrence Gardens in Lahore, in which Colah made a stroke-filled 61 to virtually seal his spot for the tour.

sorabji-colah-profile-picture     Sorabji Colah was one of the two Parsis who played in India’s first ever Test match, against England at Lord’s in 1932 (source – fanphobia.net)

  In the inaugural Test, Colah managed only 22 and 4 in the two innings, but held two catches in England’s second innings, one of them ensuring the dismissal of the Kent legend Frank Woolley. On the tour, he played in 21 matches and scored 882 runs averaging 25.94. During the tour, he did not have a good relationship with the captain Nayudu and it is recorded that on the way back, Colah threatened to throw Nayudu overboard. Then in the 1933-34 season, he also had the distinction of playing in India’s first home Test (their second Test overall) against England at the Bombay Gymkhana, in which he scored 31 and 12 as India lost by 9 wickets.

  This turned out to be Colah’s final Test appearance, but he continued being a reliable performer in first-class cricket till 1942, playing 75 matches and scoring 3578 runs in all for the Parsis and later for Bombay and Nawanagar in the Ranji Trophy. He died at the young age of 47 in Ahmedabad in 1950.

  The second Parsi in the 1932 eleven was the all-rounder Phiroze Edulji Palia. He was born in Bombay on September 5, 1910 and was a left-hand batsman and a slow left-arm orthodox bowler. In his very first first-class game, for the Parsis against the Hindus in 1928-29, he made an impact by scoring 69 and taking four wickets. On the 1932 tour he scored 469 runs in 15 matches at 23.45 and took 14 wickets at 44.78. In the Test he scored only two runs and failed to take a wicket.

  In the second innings he was hardly in a position to walk, but showed great spirit and batted as the last man Many thought that he achieved lesser than what was expected of him on the tour, especially as a batsman. But this did not deter him in the first-class circuit – he played exactly 100 first-class matches spanning from 1928 to 1954, scoring 4536 runs and taking 208 wickets.

  Besides playing for the Parsis, Palia was a regular in the Ranji Trophy, where he represented as many as five teams – Bombay, Bengal, Madras, Mysore and United Province. Just like Colah, he too played only one more Test – also at Lord’s in 1936 during India’s second Test tour to England. His highest first-class score of 216 came for United Province against Maharashtra in 1939-40. Later in life, he he established a timber and furniture business in Bangalore and became a Test selector and a radio commentator. He breathed his last on September 9, 1981 in Bangalore, aged 71. 

  Following in the footsteps of the above-mentioned two gentlemen were eleven other Parsis who played Test cricket for India – Rustomji Jamshedji, Karshed Meherhomji, Jamshed Irani, Rusi Modi, Keki Tarapore, Nari Contractor, Polly Umrigar, Rusi Surti, Farokh Engineer and the sisters Diana and Behroze Edulji. 

REVIEW – ICC World Twenty20 2014

  The fifth edition of the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh saw a fifth different winner, thus underlining the undeniable characteristic of unpredictability of the shortest format. However, the best team deservedly won the tournament, with Sri Lanka finally going one step further from being runners-up with a complete performance in the final against hitherto-unbeaten India, led by M.S Dhoni. Let us look at the highlights and moments that shaped up the tournament:-

Sri Lanka – a true team performance

  The fact that there were no Sri Lankan batsmen in the top ten run-getters and no bowler in the top eight wicket-takers underlined the complete team performance of the champions. All the players chipped in with effective contributions at some point, and it eventually paid off as the Lions finally won the World T20 after finishin runners up in 2009 and 2012. Lasith Malinga, who led the team to victory, was in fact the captain for only the last three games after original captain Dinesh Chandimal, who was not in the best of form, sportingly stayed out of the eleven. But experienced names like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in the side, there was no dearth of leadership.

z21B986BEB249873114DA882B71B3CC  Sri Lanka deservedly won the 2014 World Twenty20 after an excellent bowling display ensured a six-wicket win over India in the final at Dhaka (source – msn.com)

  The final was the last T20I for both Sangakkara and Jayawardene, and the team gave a fitting farewell to them. The bowling, especially at the death, was excellent as the normally free-flowing Indians were stifled and restricted to a below-par 130/4, which was overhauled after a bit of a wobble with six wickets and 13 balls to spare. Rangana Herath’s 5/3 against New Zealand, Angelo Mathews’ quick 40* in the semi-final against the West Indies and Malinga’s effective yorker-length death bowling in the final were all important pieces which made Sri Lanka’s success story. Runners-up India’s good run was based on Virat Kohli’s rich form and the guile of their spin armoury. As for the other semi-finalists, South Africa squeezed through three narrow wins to make the grade while holders West Indies were looking good until the Lankans saw them off. 

Associates add early spice into the mix

  Although a format of sixteen teams divided into four groups of four each would have been a much fairer option, the ICC’s decision of including as many as six Associate teams meant that the ‘qualifying round’ of the tournament provided some interesting games itself. Nepal gave a highly-spirited display, first by bundling out Hong Kong for 69 and then by upsetting the much more established Afghans. Their young pace bowlers Jitendra Mukhiya and Sompal Kami and their talented spinner Shakti Gauchan seized the opportunity to play on the world stage for the first time with both hands. Though they missed out on a dream spot in the Super 10 round, the commitment of the Paras Khadka-led outfit won them many admirers.

  Hong Kong then created the first upset of the tournament by beating Bangladesh by wickets in front of their own fans. The overconfidence of the hosts led to their undoing and the spunky Hong Kong team took full advantage of that with a polished bowling performance. But the biggest shocker, not just of the tournament, but possibly in the history of international T20, came in the last game of the first round. Top seeds Ireland expectedly looked to be breezing into the Super 10 after posting 189 against the Netherlands, but the Oranje, spurred by the buccaneering opener Stephan Myburgh, went on to put their everlasting impact on the tournament by gunning down the target in a scarcely-believable 13.5 overs and leapfrogged both Ireland and Zimbabwe into the main round.

Spinners thrive in friendly conditions

  The teams which were ultimately successful in the tournament banked hugely on their spin bowlers. The Indian spinners exploited the conditions to the fullest, as they swept past their group opposition without as much as breaking into a sweat. Ravichandran Ashwin and Amit Mishra were the most potent bowling duo in the league stage, as they took 21 wickets between them. Overall, there were four spinners in the top five wicket-takers, with three of them being leg-spinners. Two other semi-finalists, South Africa and the West Indies reaped from the performances of their respective leg-spinners Imran Tahir and Samuel Badree, while Sri Lanka turned a tricky semi-final against New Zealand into a non-contest thanks to left-armer Rangana Herath, who recorded the most sensational figures of 5/3.

Dutchmen carry the Associate flag

  The Netherlands were unexpected candidates to be the only Associate in the Super 10, and hence had quite a bit of expectation from the non-Test camp. In their first game they appeared to be cannon fodder, as they were routed by Sri Lanka for an all-time T20I low of 39 all out. But they recovered from this disaster fantastically – in the next match they were well on course to beat South Africa, but due to their inexperience somehow snatched a six-run defeat. They held their own against New Zealand before reserving the best for the last.

prv_adaf0_1395923049    The Netherlands impressed for most part of their campaign, with opener Stephan Myburgh playing an important role (source – cricbuzz.com)

  In their final game, the Netherlands recorded their most convincing international win over a full member as they trounced England by 45 runs, bowling them out for just 88. Save for the forgettable outing against Sri Lanka, the Dutch gave an encouraging performance which may have made up a little for losing their ODI status earlier this year. The stars for the Oranje were Tom Cooper, Myburgh (second and third highest run getters) and Ahsan Jamil (joint highest wicket-taker).

Australia and England fail to cope up

  Australia were regarded by many as pre-tournament favourites but crashed out of the tournament after their first two games. They buckled under pressure against Pakistan, lost a close contest to a super-charged West Indies and were thrashed by 73 runs by India. On the other hand, England were expected to be ordinary after a tumultuous winter, but they gave a good account of themselves – they were the only side to beat Sri Lanka, when they chased down 189 courtesy a brilliant 116* from Alex Hales – until they ran into the Netherlands, who ensured a 45-run drubbing and justifying that the win over Sri Lanka was all but a flash in the pan. New Zealand were patchy throughout, culminating in 60 all out against Sri Lanka, while Pakistan were their typical mercurial selves – they saw off Australia but were tamed by both India and the West Indies.

Hosts go down without a fight

  Having been asked to undergo qualification into a tournament hosted by themselves, Bangladesh started the first round with a ten-wicket rout of Afghanistan. But the defeat to Hong Kong sent them on a downward spiral, and they ended the tournament with five defeats in a row. In this format and on conducive pitches, Bangladeshi fans and players alike would have expected an upset or two, but as often has been the case, the Tigers failed to cope up with the pressure and scrutiny and suffered comprehensive defeats in all their group matches, with the lowest point being a 73-run thrashing by the West Indies. Though their team disappointed the home crowds, Bangladesh deserves to be commended for hosting a well-organised tournament despite political turmoil a few weeks before the World T20 began.

Women’s world Twenty20 – Southern Stars make it three in a row

  The women’s game gets much-needed exposure as the women’s World T20 is played simultaneously with the men’s edition. There was some good quality cricket from the ladies, none more than Meg Lanning’s Australians, who defeated England by 6 wickets in a one-sided final to win their third title in a row. They earlier defeated the West Indies in the semi-final. Lanning herself was the leading run scorer of the tournament (257), the highlight being a new record score of 126 against Ireland. South Africa impressed by beating fancied New Zealand before going down to England in the other semi-final. Other notable performances included Dane van Niekerk’s 90* and her unbroken opening stand of 163 with Lizelle Lee for South Africa against Pakistan, hosts Bangladesh delighting their supporters by defeating Sri Lanka and English pacewoman Anya Shrubsole’s consistency (she picked up 13 wickets, the most).

England v Australia: Womens Final - ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014  Australian Women captain Meg Lanning kisses the World T20 trophy after her side beat England in the final. She was also the highest run-getter (source – gettyimages.com)

Performers and Performances

  The best batsman of the tournament was by far India’s Virat Kohli, who led the run charts with a tally of 319 runs in six innings at 106.33 with four fifties and was named as player of the tournament. His two best performances came in the semi-final and final. In the semi-final, he guided a potentially difficult chase against South Africa with remarkable ease, scoring 72*, while in the final he was the only Indian batsman to flourish, scoring 77. Stephan Myburgh of the Netherlands caught the eye of many with his attacking strokeplay at the top – he dashed Irish hopes with a 29-ball 63 before giving South Africa a massive scare with a free-flowing 51.

  The Australia-Pakistan game saw two of the best innings – Umar Akmal’s 94 and Glenn Maxwell’s counter-attacking 74. There were two centuries made – Alex Hales’ 116* gave England the satisfaction of beating the eventual champions while Ahmed Shahzad’s 111* ensured an easy win for Pakistan over Bangladesh. The best slog overs performances were by the West Indians, as captain Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo twice – against Australia and Pakistan – overturned their team’s fortunes in a matter of a few overs with their sudden but calculated hitting. Kumar Sangakkara, who had an ordinary tournament so far, scored a crucial 52* in the final when it mattered the most.

  The leading wicket-takers were Imran Tahir and Ahsan Jamil with 12 wickets apiece. Tahir looked a much improved limited-overs bowler, collecting wickets at important times, especially his 4/21 which helped South Africa avoid a major loss to the Netherlands. Jamil, in the same match, took 5/19 for the Dutch, one of the two five-wicket hauls. The other fifer was by Sri Lanka’s Rangana Herath, who ripped through New Zealand with 5/3 in a must-win match. Ravi Ashwin’s 4/11 against Australia was of the best spin bowling displays, but the best individual showing based on the match situation came from a fast bowler, the great Dale Steyn. Steyn took 4/17, taking two wickets and giving away just four runs in the last over against New Zealand as South Africa eked out a two-run win.

Specials – Netherlands’ best T20 wins

  The Associate participation in the 2014 World Twenty20 ended three days ago after the Netherlands played their last game, defeating England by 45 runs in what has to be the Oranje’s most convincing international win over a full member. The only Associate in the Super 10 stage, the Netherlands had a roller-coaster of a tournament.

  Even before the tournament began, controversy hit the Dutch in the form of the last-minute selection of Tom Cooper instead of Tim Gruitjers, following which the latter went public with a claim that he was coerced into pretending an injury. Moreover, in January, the team lost its ODI status.

  However in the qualifying round, they did the unthinkable by stunning group favourites Ireland in a surreal game – requiring to chase an imposing 189 in 14.2 overs to leapfrog both Ireland and Zimbabwe, the Netherlands achieved the target in just 13.5 overs and zoomed into the Super 10.

  In their first game of the the tournament proper, they were hit by Sri Lanka, who rolled them over for a record-low 39. But then they gave a massive scare to South Africa and then impressed against New Zealand before ending with the win over England, thus giving a good display overall.

  In this post we look at the Netherlands’ five best international Twenty20 victories in chronological order:-

1) Beat England by 4 wickets, Lord’s 2009

  This was the opening game of the second edition of the World Twenty20 and the Netherlands’ first T20I against a full member. At the home of cricket, the hosts were upset in a nail-biting contest. Dutch captain Jeroen Smits inserted England in and the decision soon looked like a mistake as openers Ravi Bopara (46) and Luke Wright (71) added 102 in only 11.2 overs. But Bopara’s dismissal helped pull things back for the Netherlands, even though Wright was looking in dangerous form. The middle order failed to build on the start, and the final total was kept to 162/5. Ryan ten Doeschate finished with 2/35, scalping both the openers.

  The Dutch openers in contrast had a poor start as they slumped to 23/2. Tom de Grooth then belted 49 from 30 balls at No.4 to bring his side back in the game. He put on 50 in 4.5 overs with Peter Borren (30) for the fourth wicket, and when he was out, the requirement was 47 from 7 overs, which became 30 from 4 and then 17 from 2 even as more wickets fell and rain began to make its presence felt. Ten Doeschate (22*) kept going with sensible batting and finally seven were needed off the last over, to be bowled by Stuart Broad.

  It got tighter towards the end – three singles off the first three balls, followed by a bye and another run which meant two needed off the last ball. Edgar Schiferli made contact and the ball was collected by Broad, who not only failed to hit the stumps but also allowed an overthrow as the Dutch scampered home. James Anderson bowled well, taking 3/23.

zEngland-v-Netherlands-001   Stuart Broad is left to ponder as the Dutchmen secure a famous win at Lord’s in the 2009 World T20 (source – theguardian.com)

2) Beat Bangladesh by 1 wicket, The Hague 2012

  Netherlands’ second T20I win over a Test nation was another last ball thriller, this being the second of a two-match series at home. After deciding to bat, Bangladesh crashed to 8/3 in the fourth over before Tamim Iqbal (50) and Mahmudullah (41) combined for a fourth wicket stand of 62. From 106/4 however, another collapse ensued as the Tigers folded for 128 in 20 overs. Sydney-born fast bowler Tim van der Gugten collected 3/18 while Michael Swart and Mudassar Bukhari took two wickets apiece, Swart’s scalps being two of the top three.

  The home side had to overcome a spin-heavy visiting attack and they began well enough with an opening stand of 24 before two wickets in five balls dented their chances. Swart, whose off-spin had already created an impact earlier, continued to keep up with Bangladesh, this time with the bat. Opening the innings, he was the only one who stood up to the task as wickets fell around him. Things were looking bleak at 86/6 in the 16th over, but Swart (61 off 49 balls) kept going. He was the seventh to fall with the score at 112, with two overs still to go.

  A tight penultimate over meant that ten were needed off the last over, to be bowled by Abdul Razzak, with two wickets standing. With 8 needed off three balls, van der Gugten struck a six before getting out leg before the next ball. No.11 Ahsan Jamil sealed the deal with a powerful boundary off the last ball as the Dutch levelled the series.

3) Beat Scotland by 8 wickets, Abu Dhabi 2013-14

  This was a do-or-die match for both teams in the 2014 World T20 Qualifiers to decide the final spot available for the main event. After electing to bat, Scotland had the worst possible start as both their openers were out for ducks to have the score 1/2. But they fought back admirably, with Matt Machan (61) and Michael Leask adding 111 for the third wicket. They eventually ended at a competitive 147/6. Pace bowlers Mudassar Bukhari and Ahsan Jamil took two wickets apiece.

  Neil Carter bowled Stephan Myburgh for a duck off the second ball of the chase, but that was the last moment of joy for the Scots. Ben Cooper (40 off 28) and Wesley Barresi (75* off 47) put on 69 for the second wicket before the latter put on an unbroken 80 with Michael Swart (30* off 28) for the third wicket. This solid batting display helped the Netherlands reach 149/2 in only 17.5 overs, enabling them to a place in the 2014 World Twenty20.

4) Beat Ireland by 6 wickets, Sylhet 2013-14

  This game has to be the most astonishing Twenty20 international played thus far. In this final first round game of the 2014 World Twenty20, Ireland needed a win to progress into the Super 10, while a win for the Netherlands would have sent Zimbabwe through. For the Netherlands themselves to qualify, they had to win by a very big margin. And as it happened, they did it thanks to a stunning display of T20 batting.

  Ireland piled up 189/4 after being put in, with the early platform built by captain William Porterfield (47 off 32) being capitalised by a  marauding 101-run stand for the fourth wicket off just 45 balls between Andrew Poynter (57 off 38) and Kevin O’Brien (42* off 16). Ahsan Jamil bowled with good control to finish with 2/26.

  To make the Super 10’s, the Netherlands had to get to the target in 14.2 overs or less. And from the word go, their batsmen went hell for leather. The Irishmen were left shell-shocked as captain Peter Borren and Stephan Myburgh blasted 91 for the opening wicket in only six overs. From that blitzing start, they never looked back. Myburgh made 63 from 29 balls, launching 4 fours and 7 sixes. There was a bit of wobble as the score went to 100/3, but Wesley Barresi (40* off 22) and Tom Cooper (45 off 15 with 6 sixes) made sure there was no further panic.

  Barresi clouted Tim Murtagh for six to bringing up the victory. The final score read a mind-boggling 193/4 in 13.5 overs, the best ever run-rate in an innings of a completed T20I. The Dutch innings had 19 sixes while the entire match had 30 – both new T20I records. Myburgh was named man-of-the-match. As Porterfield rightly said later, there was nothing Ireland could do about it.

5) Beat England by 45 runs, Chittagong 2013-14

z73926314_73926313  The Netherlands players are a jubilant lot as they recorded their second T20I win over England in as many matches at Chittagong in the 2014 World T20 (source – bbc.co.uk)

  The Netherlands recorded their second T20I win over England in as many matches with a convincing triumph in their final game of the 2014 World T20. Both the teams were already out of contention for the semi-finals, but the Dutch played with great spirit to end their entertaining campaign on a high. After being put into bat, the Netherlands were on course for a good total at 84/1 in 11 overs. However, Stephan Myburgh’s dismissal at that point for 39 brought England back in the contest. Wesley Barresi top-scored with a solid 48 from No.3, but the final total of 133/5 (Stuart Broad 3/24) was much less than what the Dutch would have liked at the half-way mark.

  But the total looked more than adequate as England crashed from 18/0 to 32/4 in the face of some brilliant bowling from the Dutch pace bowlers. The innings was a disaster throughout as only three men reached double figures and the highest was only 18. At the 10 over mark, the score read 42/5 and England were dying a slow death. They eventually were bowled out for a paltry 88 in 17.4 overs, their second lowest T20I total.

  The final wicket was a run-out as the men in orange celebrated their resounding win. Mudassar Bukhari took 3/12 in a man-of-the-match performance while fellow pace bowler Logan van Beek chipped in with 3/9. Having squandered a winning position against South Africa a few days earlier, the Netherlands had the satisfaction of beating at least one full member nation.