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IPL 2016 – At a Glance

Indian Premier League, 2016 – At a Glance

Results, Fixtures, Points and Ball Difference
Hm/Aw GL RCB KKR SRH MI DD RPS KXIP
GL 18pts,-13bd 3 19/5 -33 21/5 3/5 12 1/5
RCB 14/5 16pts,105bd 2/5 15 11/5 -7 7/5 18/5
KKR 8/5 16/5 16pts,73bd 22/5 -7 35 14/5 4/5
SRH 6/5 30/4 -12 16pts,34bd 15 12/5 -44.1 13
MI -2 12 12 8/5 14pts,-19bd 15/5 -34 13/5
DD -2 22/5 12 20/5 2 14pts,-27bd 5/5 39
RPS -2 -8 -5 10/5 1/5 17/5 10pts,14bd 21/5
KXIP -16 9/5 -19 15/5 -20 7/5 8 8pts,-109bd
Key:

Home Team appears in rows
Away Team appears in columns
Fixture scheduled at 10:30 GMT | 16:00 Local
Fixture scheduled at 14:30 GMT | 20:00 Local
Home Win for Fixture scheduled at 10:30 GMT
Away Win for Fixture scheduled at 10:30 GMT
Home Win for Fixture scheduled at 14:30 GMT
Away Win for Fixture scheduled at 14:30 GMT
Number of points and Ball Difference appear diagonally
All underlined cells are links to iplt20.com

Points table using Ball Difference
Teams Mat Won Lost Tie NR Pts Ball Difference
GL 14 9 5 0 0 18 -13
RCB 14 8 6 0 0 16 105
KKR 14 8 6 0 0 16 73
SRH 14 8 6 0 0 16 34
MI 14 7 7 0 0 14 -19
DD 14 7 7 0 0 14 -27
RPS 14 5 9 0 0 10 14
KXIP 14 4 10 0 0 8 -109

 

Indian Premier League

Largest Margin of Victory and Top Player Contributions

Largest Margin of Victory
# Match Summary Result Ball Differencec
45 rps 103/6(17.4 ovs); KKR 66/2(5 ovs) Kolkata Knight Riders won by 8 wickets (D/L method) (with 53 balls remaining) 53.3
37 SRH 177/3(20 ovs); mi 92(16.3 ovs) Sunrisers Hyderabad won by 85 runs (with a difference of 48 balls) 50
50 RCB 211/3(15 ovs); kxip 120/9(14 ovs) Royal Challengers Bangalore won by 82 runs (D/L method) (with a difference of 49 balls) 49.1
44 RCB 248/3(20 ovs); gl 104(18.4 ovs) Royal Challengers Bangalore won by 144 runs (with a difference of 45 balls) 45
22 srh 118/8(20 ovs); RPS 94/3(11 ovs) Rising Pune Supergiants won by 34 runs (D/L method) (with 42 balls remaining) 44.1
Most Valuable Players
Name Team Mts Runs Scored Balls Faced Balls Bowled Runs Conceded Wkts Cts St Run Outs Avg Contribution Total Contribution
DA Warner SRH 17 848 560 4 09.89 168.13
V Kohli RCB 16 973 640 6 13 6 1.0 09.21 147.42
AB de Villiers RCB 16 687 407 19 07.38 118.10
YK Pathan KKR 15 361 248 36 33 1 3 07.17 107.54
CH Morris DD 12 195 109 264 308 13 8 2.3 08.83 105.97
B Kumar SRH 17 43 27 396 490 23 6 1.0 06.06 103.02
SR Watson RCB 16 179 134 339 485 20 6 2.5 06.16 98.50
KH Pandya MI 12 237 124 187 236 6 2 0.5 07.75 93.00
S Dhawan SRH 17 501 429 5 1.0 05.32 90.49
RV Uthappa KKR 15 394 289 10 4 4.0 06.01 90.22
Most Valuable Batsmen
Name Team Matches Runs Balls Avg Contribution Total Contribution
DA Warner SRH 17 848 560 09.86 167.62
V Kohli RCB 16 973 640 09.12 145.94
AB de Villiers RCB 16 687 407 07.22 115.47
YK Pathan KKR 15 361 248 06.63 99.50
S Dhawan SRH 17 501 429 05.24 89.08
Q de Kock DD 13 445 327 06.49 84.42
RV Uthappa KKR 15 394 289 05.61 84.13
AJ Finch GL 13 393 299 06.20 80.65
G Gambhir KKR 15 501 411 05.23 78.47
RG Sharma MI 14 489 368 05.58 78.07
Most Valuable Bowlers
Name Team Matches Balls Runs Wickets Avg Contribution Total Contribution
B Kumar SRH 17 396 490 23 05.40 91.73
Mustafizur Rahman SRH 16 366 421 17 05.15 82.39
R Ashwin RPS 14 264 319 10 05.13 71.76
SR Watson RCB 16 339 485 20 04.44 70.99
YS Chahal RCB 13 295 401 21 05.39 70.06
Sandeep Sharma KXIP 14 300 366 15 04.89 68.52
DS Kulkarni GL 14 294 364 18 04.81 67.29
A Mishra DD 14 276 344 13 04.81 67.28
JJ Bumrah MI 14 312 406 15 04.76 66.65
MJ McClenaghan MI 14 320 436 17 04.66 65.23
Top Overall Performances
# Name Team Runs Scored Balls Faced Balls Bowled Runs Conceded Wkts Cts Sts Run Outs Player Contribution
45 YK Pathan KKR 37 18 0 40.35
50 V Kohli RCB 113 50 1 27.55
47 KH Pandya MI 86 37 13 15 2 0 0.5 25.26
44 AB de Villiers RCB 129 52 2 24.58
15 DA Warner SRH 74 48 0 24.45
12 DA Warner SRH 90 59 0 22.40
23 CH Morris DD 82 32 24 35 2 0 22.15
50 CH Gayle RCB 73 32 18 25 0 1 20.60
11 Q de Kock DD 108 51 0 19.50
51 SK Raina GL 53 36 2 19.29
Top Batting Performances
# Name Team Runs Balls Batting Contribution
45 YK Pathan KKR 37 18 40.35
50 V Kohli RCB 113 50 27.37
15 DA Warner SRH 74 48 24.45
44 AB de Villiers RCB 129 52 24.23
12 DA Warner SRH 90 59 22.40
47 KH Pandya MI 86 37 21.46
11 Q de Kock DD 108 51 19.50
51 SK Raina GL 53 36 18.95
8 G Gambhir KKR 90 60 18.53
1 AM Rahane RPS 66 42 18.19
Top Bowling Performances
# Name Team Balls Bowled Runs Conceded Wickets Bowling Contribution
49 AB Dinda RPS 24 20 3 15.57
22 AB Dinda RPS 24 23 3 14.55
22 MR Marsh RPS 24 14 2 14.02
7 A Mishra DD 18 11 4 13.56
49 A Zampa RPS 24 21 3 13.23
51 DR Smith GL 24 8 4 12.74
22 R Ashwin RPS 24 14 1 12.21
2 AD Russell KKR 18 24 3 11.04
37 A Nehra SRH 18 15 3 10.81
28 AR Patel KXIP 24 21 4 10.72

India XI

India defeated New Zealand by 197 runs in Kanpur while playing its 500th test match. To mark this occasion BCCI asked fans to vote for their all-time dream team. The results were announced during the closing stages of the win on 26 Sep:

The above team includes 11 who justify their selection through weight of their achievements. Only 12th man Yuvraj Singh is out of place in a TEST team because he enjoyed his success in limited overs format. Sunil Gavaskar is the oldest to play in this team who made his debut in 1971, about 40 years after India started playing Test Cricket. There could be a recall bias in this selection and hence another attempt to select India’s Best Test XI based on objective data. The numbers used are updated at the end of second test between India and New Zealand at Eden Gardens celebrating India’s 250th test at home.

Here we first set a few guidelines on selection, then identify multiple players for each role and eventually get to the toughest part of elimination. Elimination over selection highlights achievements of those that failed to make the final cut. Those who are eliminated are deserving and we get a chance to talk about their accomplishments too.

Till 3rd October 2016, India has played 250 tests at home and 251 away. The first ever test was a 3 day match against England in June 1932 played at Lord’s. First home test was played 18 months later at Gymkhana Ground in Mumbai against the same team in a 4-day affair. India lost both matches. India’s first encounter against a non-English side was a tour down under, soon after gaining independence, in late 1947 for a 5 test series. Don Bradman made merry with 715 runs in 4-0 series win supported by Lindsay Hassett who scored 332 runs. Bowling honours went to Johnston (16-182) and Lindwall (18-304). Top contributors for India were Dattu Phadkar (314 runs, 8-254), Vijay Hazare (429 runs, 7-382) and Vinoo Mankad (306 runs, 12-630).

The only drawn test of the series was played at Sydney where less than 10 hours of cricket was possible over 6 days. Phadkar, who did not play the first test, contributed on debut with both bat and ball. He was part of a 70 run stand after India lost 6 wickets for 95 to reach a team total of 188. He claimed 3-14 with the ball as Australia was bundled for 107. The match is now remembered widely for the run out of Bill Brown by Vinoo Mankad when non-striker Brown moved down the pitch and Mankad whipped off the bails. In an earlier tour match, Mankad warned Brown first and then ran him out. There was no warning during the test and this form of dismissal which is completely legal yet controversial continues to be called ‘Mankading’.

Next year India hosted West Indies for another 5 match series losing it 1-0. Subsequent 5 match home series against England in 1951-52 was drawn 1-1 where India recorded first test win at Chennai inflicting an innings defeat. India hosted Pakistan in 1952. The 5 match series ended 2-1 to hand first series win for India. New Zealand visited in 1955 to lose 2-0. Vinoo Mankad was the top performer scoring 526 runs and picking 12 wickets. Subhash Gupte was the wrecker-in-chief who took 34 wickets. He earlier took 21 wickets in a drawn series against Pakistan.

India’s first away series win was against West Indies in 1971 with Ajit Wadekar at helm. Sunil Gavaskar made his debut scoring 774 runs. The established quartet of Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna & Venkataraghavan then carried that form further to record a home and away series win against England.

In 1986, Kapil Dev led India to another away series win against England. Dilip Vengsarkar was in great form supported by Mohinder Amarnath.

Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble were individually brilliant in 1990s. The team enjoyed sustained success in 2000s with Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman and Harbhajan Singh peaking together. Dhoni took over from Ganguly with the same core and Zaheer Khan as the prominent pace bowler to become the most successful Indian captain.

This brief history gives us an idea about the names likely to appear in the selectorial basket. Some of the players will select themselves. There will be competition for other spots. We need to define some parameters to assess players across era for a fairer comparison.

285 players have represented India in test matches. Senior Pataudi played for England before representing India. After the partition, Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Gul Mohammad and Amir Elahi played for Pakistan too. Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid played the one-off super test against Australia as part of the ICC team.

The first step is to find a shorter list of players who have played sufficient tests representing India. 48 players earned a solitary cap. Shute Banerjee and Mantu Banerjee both took 5 wickets in the only test played. Incidentally both took 1 and 4 wickets in the two innings bowled. 5 wickets per match is a good return but one swallow does not a summer make. Hence we will not consider 17% players who did not get another chance to play second test.

Another 119 played between 2 to 10 tests. Vijay Merchant and CK Nayudu are notable in this group. CK led India in the inaugural test. A player still remembered by his initials, he was the first Indian cricketer to endorse a brand as far back as 1941. A stroke maker known for his sixes – he once hit a six crossing the River Rea which was the boundary between Warwickshire and Worcestershire while batting in a tour match at Edgbaston. Despite an exceptional first class span between 1916 and 1964, he featured in only 7 test matches.

Vijay Merchant with a first class average of 71 finds a place between White George Headley and Black Don Bradman but he too played in only 10 test matches, all against England, over a period of 18 years. He recorded his highest test score at the age of 40 in his last appearance. His test match batting averages were covered in this post to understand G and µ, the preferred averages of this blogspace.  As a Test selector, he was responsible in opting for Ajit Wadekar as captain of India over Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. His radio show on Sundays was keenly followed by cricket fans. Merchant was a great philanthropist working for the blind and the handicapped. He will be remembered forever for his achievements on and off the field but his short test career makes it difficult to objectively judge his cricketing achievements vis-a-vis others. A further 42% players, including these two, will not be considered for lack of sufficient data.

Vinod Kambli, another flashy stroke player, was a precocious talent. In a school match he put on an unbroken 644 run partnership with Sachin Tendulkar. He scored two centuries and two back-to-back double hundreds in his first 7 tests reaching the milestone of 1000 runs in 14 innings – a feat bettered only by Sutcliffe, Weekes, Bradman and Harvey. Fantastic against spinners at home, he was found out against the short ball in a less than favourable away career. He signed off with 1084 runs in 17 tests.

Narendra Hirwani played 17 tests too. His career started off even more spectacularly. Against the mighty West Indies, albeit at the tailormade Chepauk, he claimed 16 wickets for 136 on debut breaking the record of Bob Massie. He followed it by taking 8 and 7 wickets in next two tests. He discovered that away games were not played on his favourite surface and the wickets dried. After 31 wickets in first 3 tests, he added 35 more in remaining 14. His career ended with the arrival of Anil Kumble.

Other than Kambli and Hirwani, 30 more players played between 11 and 20 tests. Very few manage to start on a scintillating note but it is evident that sustaining an above average performance for a period of 20 tests is very difficult.  No player with career spanning 20 or fewer tests will be considered for selection.

27 more players in the next slab of 21 to 30 tests. This list includes active players like Dhawan and Rahane who may eventually enjoy a very long career. Lala Amarnath and Vijay Hazare are notable performers from an era when test matches were infrequent. Likely that each one would have played far more tests had they plied their trade when the rewards became better? Not easy to discard these names but in the absence of objective data for fair comparison, it is best to leave them out too. Salim Durani, Rusi Surti, Syed Abid Ali, Roger Binny, Dilip Sardesai, Eknath Solkar and Sandeep Patil also served India with distinction before the 1990s. Pragyan Ojha, Venkatpathy Raju and Rajesh Chauhan have decent home record as slow bowlers. India does not include 3 spinners away from subcontinent where faster bowlers are preferred. Sreesanth & Ajit Agarkar bowled faster and played their part in scripting rare away wins. None of these bowlers appeared in more than 30 tests though.

Some players were outstanding but did not play enough tests for lack of opportunities. Some started on a brilliant note but could not sustain in alien conditions. And then we have the case of Irfan Pathan. He made his debut at 19 in 2003. A talented left arm bowler with brisk pace AND a sensible batsman who could bail his team out – he seemed like the allrounder India missed. Alas… Injuries played their part, his pace dropped significantly and eventually he did not reach the heights expected. Irfan played only 29 tests! So we can make it a condition that maintaining fitness over a sufficient period is a key criterion for selection.

It means 226 out of 285 players are ineligble because they participated in 30 or fewer tests. On the other hand 59 is still a very high number to study individual careers in detail. So the second step is to pool candidates for specific roles – Openers, Middle order batsmen, Allrounders, Wicketkeeper, Captain, pace bowlers and slow bowlers (legbreak, offbreak and orthodox). There will be additional quantitative criterion to ensure that those with very long careers do not trump others by virtue of gross figures alone.

Let us commence with allrounders. Who qualifies as an allrounder? An allrounder could be a bits and pieces player who can bat a little and bowl a little. A quality allrounder joins the team as a specialist batsman or a specialist bowler who also provides decent support in bowling or batting. A remarkable allrounder is one who can win a match with both his bat and the ball. A unicorn allrounder is one who does this match after match. Here we will consider any player with an average of more than 2 batting points AND 2 bowling points. For every completed test match, Relative Value Model assigns points out of 100 to each player. Fewer points are allocated for draws depending on the progress towards result. These are normalised values to ensure comparison between runs scored in a high scoring match with wickets taken in a low scoring one.

Name Tests Runs Wickets Avg Bat Pts Avg Bowl Pts MVP (Win)
R Ashwin 38 1510 207 2.39 6.63 8
MH Mankad 44 2109 162 2.88 4.45 5
Kapil Dev 131 5248 434 2.06 3.81 3
M Prabhakar 39 1600 96 2.28 2.88 1
RJ Shastri 80 3830 151 2.49 2.68 1
DG Phadkar 31 1229 62 2.03 2.54 0

MVP (Win) indicates the number of tests where the team won when player was the top performer – sort of total Man of the Match awards in an Indian test win.

Phadkar bowled right-arm offbreak as well as Fast-Medium. Kapil Dev & Manoj Prabhakar were pace bowlers and Ashwin, Shastri and Mankad are slow. Vinoo Mankad was an opener. Ravi Shastri selected for his bowling started as a #11. With time he eventually moved up the order to become an opener scoring a double hundred in Australia but then he was used more as a stock bowler. It shows that roles change over a long period. Career figures need not capture the essence of any player. Besides Phadkar played just enough to warrant selection while Kapil Dev played in a 100 more tests. For a fairer comparison, we now look at the peak performance measured over 30 tests.

Name Avg Total Pts Start Test Year Started
R Ashwin 9.47 6 2012
Vinoo Mankad 8.72 10 1948
Kapil Dev 7.13 13 1979
Ravi Shastri 6.17 20 1983
Manoj Prabhakar 5.84 3 1989
Dattu Phadkar 4.71 1 1947

Ashwin is in a remarkable form. In fact his current streak makes it to the top 10 ever recorded. Mankad got in his stride by 10th test and hung his boots soon after the peak. Kapil Dev managed to put in 3 different streaks due to a lengthy career. His best streak was fairly early in his career listed above at 7.13 starting in 1979. Second one started in 1985 (averaging 6.01) and last one in 1989 (avg 5.14). These three players will figure in our final selection. Eventually we will select the best allrounders that offer the right team balance in the company of our chosen specialists.

Next we need a wicketkeeper. Before Adam Gilchrist this was a specialist fielding position and keepers were not judged by their ability to bat. These days keeper is someone who can bat aggressively or defend based on match situation as a link between middle order and the tail. Now it is rare to see a wicketkeeper bat below a specialist bowler. There is no quantitative measure that captures chances created (through quick stumpings or difficult catches), chances missed, runs saved or conceded etc. Wicketkeeping skills are judged subjectively and this is a predominantly objective exercise. Hence we will choose one or two wicketkeepers based on available data such as dismissals per test and batting averages.

Name Tests Runs Catches Stumpings Avg Bat Pts MVP (Win)
MS Dhoni 90 4876 256 38 2.85 1
Kiran More 49 1285 110 20 1.50 0
Nayan Mongia 44 1442 99 8 1.94 1
Syed Kirmani 88 2759 160 38 1.70 0
Farokh Engineer 46 2611 66 16 3.06 0

Farokh Engineer and Mongia batted in middle order. Kirmani and More were specialist keepers batting in late order. Dhoni is the modern keeper-batsman typically playing #7 role behind specialist batsmen. Engineer was the best batsman but he has the worst rate of under 2 dismissals per match. This is not a reliable measure though as the dismissals depend on the bowling standard of the team too. Dhoni is the only keeper averaging over 3 dismissals per test and he is second in batting behind Farokh. There should not be any doubt in choosing Dhoni as the sole candidate once we disregard the achievements of Kirmani and More on the post-Gilchrist standards.

Now we move to another subjective role – that of a Captain. It is possible to look at the number of times a player led his team or the win percentage but that does not reveal how weak or strong the team was and how the skills of the captain lifted the performance of his team. Mike Brearley was a skilled captain but an average batsman. The circumstances under which he took over from Ian Botham to stage a remarkable Ashes recovery marks him as an exception – not a yardstick. Typically the best or the seniormost willing player becomes the captain. Two Indian captains are worth a mention though. Ajit Wadekar won only 4 matches for India but those included important series wins including captaincy mind games played against the strong West Indian outfit led by Sobers. Sourav Ganguly too stands tall for improving the record of an inherited team. Yet none of these attributes can be quantified. So we will take a look at those who led India more than 30 times along with their win percentage.

Name Matches Won Win %
MS Dhoni 60 27 45.00
Sourav Ganguly 49 21 42.85
M Azharuddin 47 14 29.78
Sunil Gavaskar 47 9 19.14
MAK Pataudi 40 9 22.50
Kapil Dev 34 4 11.76

Dhoni and Ganguly have the best record. The stability of their reign and the success rate means only these two will be evaluated in final selection to lead India.

Now we move to the bowling unit. Initially we will separate slow bowlers from the fast ones. Back in 1932 at Lord’s, India opened bowling with fast bowlers Mohammad Nissar and Amar Singh. The backup was offered by medium pace as quality spinners were not easy to find. This changed with the arrival of Vinoo Mankad and until 1970s spinners were the best bowlers with a stock bowler employed to take the shine off the new ball. Dattu Phadkar and Karsan Ghavri were the exceptions to this tradition until Kapil Dev stamped his authority as the strike bowler. Srinath and Zaheer Khan carried his tradition forward. Here we look at the record of all medium pacers with at least 50 wickets.

Name Tests Wickets Avg S/R Avg Bowl Pts MVP (Win)
Zaheer Khan 92 311 32.95 60.40 3.90 2
Kapil Dev 131 434 29.65 63.92 3.81 3
J Srinath 67 236 30.49 64.00 3.74 2
Ishant Sharma 72 209 36.72 66.62 3.54 1
Karsan Ghavri 39 109 33.54 64.55 3.20 0
Venkatesh Prasad 33 96 35.00 73.34 3.09 0
Manoj Prabhakar 39 96 37.30 77.86 2.88 1
Dattu Phadkar 31 62 36.85 96.68 2.54 0
Madan Lal 39 71 40.08 84.46 2.24 0

Unlike batting average which does not treat not out situations properly, bowling average is a very good indicator of the quality of a bowler. Kapil Dev leads in longevity (no injuries), number of wickets and an average below 30 with only Zaheer Khan ahead in strike rate. Average Bowling Points is a propreitary measure that normalises bowling performances across test matches. Zaheer leads on this metric narrowly edging out Kapil. Srinath is not far behind these two. These 3 have also won matches for India as MVP multiple times and are undoubtedly the best candidates. Let us also look at their peak performances too.

Name Avg Total Pts Start Test Year Started
Zaheer Khan 5.06 47 2007
Kapil Dev 4.87 10 1979
J Srinath 4.70 22 1996
Ishant Sharma 4.31 6 2008
Kapil Dev 4.22 47 1983
Kapil Dev 3.80 88 1987
Zaheer Khan 3.55 16 2002
Manoj Prabhakar 3.52 3 1989
Karsan Ghavri 3.35 7 1977
Ishant Sharma 3.21 42 2011
Venkatesh Prasad 2.96 1 1996
Dattu Phadkar 2.62 1 1947
Madan Lal 2.55 3 1974

The same three appear at the top when we evaluate them for peak performance over 30 tests. Zaheer Khan started slowly at the beginning of his career but peaked after 2007. On a subjective note, his contribution goes beyond his bowling efforts as he nurtured his pace partners once he matured into his role. Kapil gave his best at the start of his career starting from 1979. He declined as a bowler while improving as a batsman but even his second and third best is ahead of other bowlers including early Zaheer. Srinath’s best is not far behind Kapil. So the same trio get our approval for selection in list of probables.

A cliche calls India as the land of snake charmers and spin bowlers. Before Kapil Dev, matches were won by spin bowlers – Vinoo Mankad and Subhash Gupte got a mention here already. Ghulam Ahmed, Chandu Border and Salim Durrani were key performers until the golden era of Bedi, Prasanna, Chandrasekhar and Venkatraghavan. With that rich tradition, it is better to categorise our probables by style. There are four types in spin bowling based on arm used (left or right) and technique (wrist or finger). Since we do not have any chinaman bowlers (left-arm unorthodox) in our probables we will look at the remaining three styles separately. Let us begin with left-arm orthodox bowlers i.e. finger spinners.

Name Tests Wickets Avg S/R Avg Bowl Pts MVP (Win)
Bishan Bedi 67 266 28.71 80.32 4.95 6
Dilip Doshi 33 114 30.72 81.77 4.90 2
Vinoo Mankad 44 162 32.32 90.65 4.45 5
Maninder Singh 35 88 37.36 93.39 3.56 0
Bapu Nadkarni 41 88 29.08 104.15 3.10 0
Ravi Shastri 80 151 40.96 104.31 2.68 1

Bishan Bedi is the obvious choice being the most successful bowler and the best average. Vinoo Mankad is already included as an allrounder. These two have won matches for India most often. Bapu Nadkarni will be remembered for his accurate bowling to stifle a batsman but the under-30 average is primarily for leaking fewer runs when we need wickets to force a win. Peak performance list below confirms Bedi and Mankad as probables.

Name Avg Bowl Pts Start Test Year Started
Bishan Bedi 6.00 28 1972
Vinoo Mankad 5.27 10 1948
Dilip Doshi 5.26 1 1979
Maninder Singh 3.96 6 1983
Ravi Shastri 3.52 20 1983
Bapu Nadkarni 3.36 12 1960

Indian spin quartet is the collective name given to Bedi, Prasanna, Chandrasekhar and Venkatraghavan. All four started against England at Edgbaston in 1967. Collectively they played 231 test matches claiming 853 wickets. This quartet was instrumental in producing many Indian Test victories against West Indies, England, Australia and New Zealand. Yet barring the aforementioned test, one of the off spinners, Prasanna or Venkataraghavan was always left out. A right handed finger spinner is also called an offbreak bowler. We take a look at the leading exponents below:

Name Tests Wickets Avg S/R Avg Bowl Pts MVP (Win)
R Ashwin 38 207 25.14 51.41 6.63 8
Harbhajan Singh 103 417 32.46 68.54 5.23 11
Erapalli Prasanna 49 189 30.38 75.94 4.37 2
Shivlal Yadav 35 102 35.10 81.96 3.65 0
Venkataraghavan 57 156 36.12 95.37 3.54 1

Harbhajan Singh is the second highest wicket taking off-spinner behind Muttiah Muralitharan. He established himself by taking 32 wickets in a memorable series victory against Australia in 2001 when no other Indian bowler scalped more than 3 wickets in a 3 match series. He partnered Kumble regularly while playing on the subcontinental surfaces but was left out when a sole spinner was used abroad. Ashwin has enjoyed tremendous success in the subcontinent racing to 100 wickets in 18th match and later the second fastest to 200 when India defeated New Zealand by 197 runs in Kanpur. His rate of 8 MVPs in 38 tests is exceptional. Only Don Bradman and Lohmann enjoy a better success rate. Let us check the peak 30 year performances to determine whether anyone else got closer to him.

Name Avg Bowl Pts Start Test Year Started
R Ashwin 6.89 6 2012
Harbhajan Singh 6.35 64 2008
Harbhajan Singh 5.95 10 2001
Erapalli Prasanna 5.20 7 1967
Venkataraghavan 4.09 14 1969
Shivlal Yadav 3.79 1 1979

Only Harbhajan has played sufficient tests to have 2 separate 30-test streaks. His best streak in the middle of his career is a little behind Ashwin’s phenomenal start. Ashwin, already selected as allrounder, oins Bedi as the specialist offspinner in our list of probables.

A legspinner is a right arm bowler using wrist spin. Sometimes spin bowling is used interchangeably to mean leg spin bowling. Flight and turn generated by a legspinner is harder to read compared to an offspinner. Skilled bowlers make the ball behave unexpectedly such as a googly which is an offbreak bowled with a legbreak action.

All bowlers get to bat but a specialist batsman does not bowl. So who will be called a specialist bowler? Someone who cannot bat, at all! There are a few bowlers who simply do not score enough runs and typically play as #11 or Jack in the pack. Bhagwat Chandrasekhar belongs to that unique club. He has scored only 167 runs, fewer than the 242 wickets taken. A consistent performer for India, he carried forward the tradition of Charlie Grimmett. There was a time during 1980s when the West Indian pace battery was so successful that pace bowlers were used exclusively. At that time Abdel Qadir kept the tradition of legspin bowling alive. Success enjoyed by Shane Warne and Anil Kumble signal that the concerns about death of spin bowling were greatly exaggerated.

Name Tests Wickets Avg S/R Avg Bowl Pts MVP (Win)
A Kumble 132 619 29.65 65.99 5.78 13
Subhash Gupte 36 149 29.55 75.73 4.45 0
Chandrasekhar 58 242 29.75 65.96 4.29 2
CG Borde 55 52 46.48 109.52 1.07 0

Subhash Gupte was India’s first great spinner known to possess two different googlies. He took 9 wickets at Kanpur against West Indies and the tenth batsman was dropped by the keeper off his bowling. Anil Kumble managed to get all 10 against Pakistan at Delhi when teammates from both side assisted once the rare feat seemed likely and the result of the match was certain. Any one of Kumble, Gupte and Chandra will be an excellent fit in India’s dream XI based on their bowling average but we can see that on relative value measure Anil Kumble contributed more to his team. Both his 30-test streaks are significantly better than the other two too.

Name Avg Bowl Pts Start Test Year Started
Anil Kumble 6.98 65 2001
Anil Kumble 6.03 27 1996
Subhash Gupte 4.90 4 1953
Chandrasekhar 4.72 19 1971

Kumble is the only legspinner to captain any side and the gentleman is the next player to join our list of probables.

For the choice for openers we take a look at the list of qualifying bastmen who sport an average µ > 35 & G > 20. Read this for details about µ & G which represent the Arithmetic and Geometric Average of scores adjusted for not outs. µ is similar to traditional batting average whereas G is used to unmask the effect of few very high scores on arithmetic average that hide a string of low scores.

Name Tests Runs Avg Bat Pts µ G MVP (Win)
Virender Sehwag 104 8586 4.26 48.36 26.86 5
Sunil Gavaskar 125 10122 4.21 48.19 25.23 1
Murali Vijay 41 2794 3.83 40.09 22.44 0
Gautam Gambhir 56 4046 3.72 41.78 21.90 2
Navjot Sidhu 51 3202 3.57 41.05 24.14 0

Sehwag, Lara and Bradman are the only three batsmen who have scored over 275 runs thrice with two triple hundreds. He is another player in the mould of Gilchrist who transformed the traditional expectations. As an aggressive opening batsman, who holds several records for scoring big and quick, he scored his last 11 centuries by going past 150. He has an enviable record in first innings but the returns are modest in second. Gavaskar is the traditional opener admired for his technique especially against fast bowlers. In 1977-78 he scored three consecutive Test centuries in the second innings touring Australia. His record is impressive especially in the fourth innings when India was battling to win or save the match. Gavaskar and Sehwag complement each other and should be everyone’s choice to open in the dream team. Incidentally Gavaskar has the better 30 match streak averaging 5.62. Sehwag is at second position slightly behind at 5.24.

And now we take a look at the most difficult choice – selecting Indian middle order. In the golden age of Indian middle order batting, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman came together like the famed spin quartet. No one will bat an eyelid if these 4 are selected in the dream team. But our selection pool reveals plenty of candidates that meet the tough criterion of an average µ > 35 & G > 20.

Name Tests Runs Avg Bat Pts µ G MVP (Win)
C Pujara 37 2713 4.74 44.33 25.21 2
Rahul Dravid 164 13288 4.40 47.76 26.47 7
Sachin Tendulkar 200 15921 4.21 49.50 27.24 6
Virat Kohli 47 3326 3.81 41.92 22.68 0
G Viswanath 91 6080 3.50 39.75 22.33 4
M Azharuddin 99 6215 3.40 42.55 23.49 2
Sourav Ganguly 113 7212 3.33 39.23 23.46 1
VVS Laxman 134 8781 3.29 40.27 23.49 2
Dilip Vengsarkar 116 6868 3.25 38.21 21.10 4
Polly Umrigar 59 3631 3.23 39.26 20.99 0
M Amarnath 69 4378 3.03 39.61 24.64 0
Vijay Manjrekar 55 3208 2.88 35.77 21.42 0

The list above reveals that those batting at #3 & #4 tend to have higher average batting points than those at #5 & #6. It is fairly obvious that the best batsmen should bat higher in the middle order where they score in the company of openers above them and specialist batsmen below. This maximises team chances to set up a total, defend or chase as the case maybe. Hence Dravid and Tendulkar fare high but it is important to balance average batting points by the batting position too. Pujara and Kohli are active players likely to remain the backbone of Indian middle order and there stats will change over time. Umrigar, Amarnath and Manjrekar had relatively shorter careers. Measuring peak performances over the sufficiently long 30 test span allows comparison between personal high of each player.

Name Avg Bat Pts Start Test Year Started
Rahul Dravid 5.85 62 2002
Sachin Tendulkar 5.70 61 1998
Dilip Vengsarkar 5.10 72 1984
C Pujara 5.10 4 2012
Rahul Dravid 5.03 18 1997
Sachin Tendulkar 4.86 153 2008
G Viswanath 4.80 21 1974
Rahul Dravid 4.67 131 2008
Sachin Tendulkar 4.64 14 1992
Sachin Tendulkar 4.57 96 2002
Virat Kohli 4.38 14 2012
Rahul Dravid 4.23 93 2005
M Azharuddin 4.23 48 1992
VVS Laxman 3.97 100 2008
Sourav Ganguly 3.94 77 2004
VVS Laxman 3.86 21 2001
Polly Umrigar 3.83 6 1952
Sourav Ganguly 3.67 1 1996
M Amarnath 3.57 31 1983
M Azharuddin 3.51 12 1986
Dilip Vengsarkar 3.46 7 1977
VVS Laxman 3.44 64 2005
Vijay Manjrekar 3.40 13 1953
G Viswanath 3.18 52 1979
Sourav Ganguly 3.09 45 2001
M Amarnath 2.85 1 1969
Dilip Vengsarkar 2.71 38 1981

Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar are simply the best. The incredibly long career is a testimony in itself but the consistency over that period is astounding. Both have 4 streaks listed and even their worst sequence is better than the best of others. Rahul Dravid (2002) and Sachin Tendulkar (1998) should be on every list but a quick glance at the fan poll shows that while practically everyone chose Dravid, 1 in 4 does not select Tendulkar.

The 3rd name in above list, Dilip Vengsarkar, also makes it to the very bottom. He would have been rated #1 batsman in mid 80s but just like Ravi Shastri we have a case where career figures are deceptive. In the early 80s, selectorial judgement could be questioned but in a few years he reached the summit justifying the faith in him.

What is the utility of a dream team? I guess it is to compete with the very best of other nations. And when you are selecting the best, it is worth selecting them when they were at their respective personal best. Vengsarkar around 1981 was not a match to the world beating Vengsarkar around 1984. Tendulkar around 2002 was a shadow of his best around 1998. To his credit he rediscovered his form to get closer to his former glory days. That is why Vengsarkar is selected in out list of probables. There is a toss-up between Pujara and Viswanath – Pujara has played his relatively short career in a much stronger Indian team vis-a-vis Viswanath. A look at his average µ & G reveal much better consistency. Hence Pujara gets in the list of probables. All four players typically batted at #3 & #4. VVS Laxman gets in to the list of probables for batting lower down the order and shepherding the tail. Sourav Ganguly is already in the list as a captain.

We have largely relied on career figures to find a team of probables. The next step is to compare them over a respective best ever 30 test period. Let us compare the batsmen first with an honourable mention to allrounders.

Name Inns NO Runs 100 50 HS µ G Points
Dravid 48 7 3029 10 11 270 65.89 37.12 175.52
Tendulkar 54 6 3251 13 11 217 61.55 37.40 170.86
Gavaskar 50 3 3216 14 11 221 66.20 37.81 168.57
Sehwag 52 2 2774 8 7 309 54.96 30.25 157.01
Vengsarkar 46 12 2344 9 9 166 54.56 32.95 153.04
Pujara 53 6 2474 8 6 206* 47.39 27.45 152.84
Laxman 52 10 2250 4 19 176* 44.09 25.69 119.20
Ganguly 52 6 2156 4 12 239 44.29 31.49 118.07
Mankad 46 5 1550 3 5 231 35.50 15.55 101.75
Dhoni 50 7 1667 2 10 224 35.28 18.34 97.74
Ashwin 44 9 1175 3 5 124 28.57 13.75 76.26
Kapil Dev 45 4 1110 1 5 116 25.31 14.84 64.29

This table is sorted by gross batting points earned by each player over a 30 test period. Gavaskar at his best produced a 50+ score in 25 out of his 50 outings over a 30 test period. Although he trails in total batting points, by scoring over 3200 runs at an arithmetic average of over 66 and a very high geometric mean above 37 mark him as the best Indian batsman ever. Scoring 4 fewer hundreds yet matching him very closely in µ, G & total runs scored is the ever dependable Rahul Dravid. Actually there is very little to separate these two despite playing in very different teams. Gavaskar had to bat at the top of the innings more or less trying to save a match or avoid defeat. Dravid batted in the middle order in a settled team where wins were not that rare. Tendulkar’s peak was between these two. Although he scores 5 fewer runs per innings in terms of arithmetic average, the geometric mean is almost same. A higher value of G despite lower µ point to fewest absolute batting failures. On the other hand, when he got going he did not post huge totals either. His best batting period does not coincide with relative team success and that may explain why 1 in 4 who voted were comfortable in excluding him out despite his monumental batting. Sehwag at #4 in this list is a little behind these 3 illustrious stalwarts. His strength was converting his start into a match winning score more regularly than anyone else. Tendulkar, Sehwag and Dravid played a lot of matches together and fortunately for India, Sehwag and Dravid peaked around the same time beginning 2002. Tendulkar peaked a little earlier around 1998 and suffered a relative slump when the other two were going great guns. India has never won a test series in Australia. If, and that is big one, Tendulkar too peaked at the same time, the 2003 farewell series of Steve Waugh could have ended in India’s favour.

There is no doubt that Indian XI must feature Gavaskar, Sehwag, Dravid and Tendulkar at the top. It is a coincidence that the 4 top performers played at opening, #3 and #4 position too which makes their selection even easier.

Next we have two eliminations. Vengsarkar and Pujara essentially go head to head with Dravid for the one-down spot. Both have scored less than 2500 runs with middling average relative to top-3. Indian team has enjoyed greater success when these two peaked so there contributions in terms of gross score need not be high yet it was sufficient in terms of match context. Pujara and Vengsarkar could very well have been part of another middle order but the stellar figures of Dravid means they will not be able to make it in this team.

Dhoni is the sole wicketkeeper and thus an automatic inclusion. His position in the table below specialist batsmen and just above bowlers, who can bat a bit, confirm his role as the link between specialists and tail.

Kapil and Ashwin pitch in with sufficient 50+ scores and occasional 100s from the lower order to merit their selection as allrounders. Mankad was the third allrounder in the list of probables. Unfortunately his low averages despite playing as a top order batsman work against him. A very low geometric average of around 16 for an opener indicates that his batting successes overlap with frequent failures. Mankad is the 3rd player after Pujara and Vengsarkar to be excluded.

Laxman and Ganguly will both be selected if we choose 6 specialist batsmen. We must single out one if the team needs 5 specialist bowlers though. So let us review our bowlers to help us make that decision.

Name Wickets Average S/R Bowl Points
Kumble 171 27.27 58.30 209.31
Ashwin 166 24.34 50.54 206.83
Bedi 145 25.21 71.66 180.01
Mankad 122 29.20 88.43 157.98
Zaheer Khan 126 28.03 51.45 151.68
Kapil Dev 131 25.66 53.56 146.15
Srinath 132 27.23 54.63 141.09

Ashwin has made a frenetic start to his career. Kumble hit his stride circa 2001 around the middle of his career. The figures at the peak are very similar and there is very little to choose one over the other. One of them is a legspinner and the other bowls offbreak. Without any doubt these two should be the first choices offering variety.

In the pace department – Srinath took most wickets, Kapil has the lowest average and Zaheer has the best strike rate. Zaheer leads in the normalised bowling points adjusted for match context. Kapil edges other two due to his allround skill. Zaheer takes the second spot due to higher match points earned for the team. Srinath will be the third choice seamer if we pick all three especially for matches outside subcontinent.

That leaves Bedi and Mankad. Despite the lowest number of wickets, poorest average and a very high strike rate we have to remember Mankad for his total contribution to the team adjusted for era. As an offspinner he misses out behind Ashwin. As an opener he was not a match to Gavaskar and Sehwag. Yet he is the best allrounder produced by India. With a very heart, he is excluded in the interest of team balance.

On the subcontinental wickets, India should play to its strength with 3 spinners. Bedi is the ideal choice as a slow left arm bowler complimenting the right armers. His strike rate and wicket haul is inferior to Kumble and Ashwin but much better than seamers. Of course it does not make sense to compare across discipline because this team will always start with 2 seamers and 2 spinners.

We started with 16 probables. So far we have excluded 3 players – Vengsarkar and Pujara as middle order batsmen and Mankad as allrounder. That leaves us with 13 players. Laxman/Ganguly as batsmen and Bedi/Srinath as bowlers are still in the probables list.

Objectivity gets us this far. Subjective choices are required to prune this team further. 9 players selected so far make India a formidable batting and potent bowling unit at home. The away record especially outside the subcontinent should be kept in mind to choose the remaining squad. Do we need 6 specialist batsmen? Will two seamers suffice? How good is the line-up with 5 specialists, a keeper batsman and 2 bowling allrounders?

We must play 3 pace bowlers for away matches. One of them is surplus in familiar conditions so the 3rd seamer becomes the 12th man. This cements inclusion of Srinath in dream team. Laxman is chosen over Ganguly as the specialist batsman to join the XI.

The remaining spot is to be decided between Bedi and Ganguly. On spin friendly pitches, should we play a 3rd specialist spinner or use Sehwag and Tendulkar as third choice to include Ganguly as the 6th batsman? 

After deliberating the decision is to play 3 specialist spinners at home. Indian batting is stronger than bowling so 5 specialists must do the job while 3 seamers or 3 spinners will always play depending on the surface. The last spot goes to Bedi.

On review, we find the same XI as selected by the fans, except Bedi replacing Yuvraj as the 12th man. Yuvraj has solid credentials in limited overs cricket but his selection to Dream Test Team was highly questionable. We can infer that that crowdsourcing, soliciting data from a large online community, is very effective as long as the choices offered (or the end results) are curated.

Finally, we see the peak period of each player plotted against time to understand how many of them peaked simultaneously.

Dream Team - India XI

In-form batsman does not get dropped. Gavaskar, Dravid, Sehwag and Laxman did not miss any tests at their summit. Tendulkar missed one series against Sri Lanka due to injury.

Bowlers are played according to surface. A top bowler may get overlooked either due to injury or selectors’ view that the surface may not suit the him. Bedi, Srinath, Kumble, Zaheer and Ashwin have all missed tests. Kapil Dev is an exception and his injury free longevity is rare for a pace bowler.

Gavaskar’s success as a batsman coincided with Bedi and Kapil as bowlers but not at the same time. During late 1970s Gavaskar and Bedi were key to India’s fortune then Kapil Dev took over from Bedi during early 80s. After a lull, Tendulkar reached his zenith along with Srinath who was not an automatic choice on all surfaces. Kumble started peaking towards the end of Tendulkar’s reign. Fortunately for India, both Dravid and Sehwag hit top form at the same time as Kumble. Later Zaheer and Laxman enjoyed a period of superiority together. It can be seen that though a number of core players played in the same XI for a long period, there wasn’t any time when 4-5 of them were at pinnacle of their career. Indian team is currently ranked #1 in Tests but it must be underlined that its success coincides patchy performances from others. We still wait for a time when an Indian outfit enjoys sustained success both home and away beating strong opponents. Hope it will be soon!

India becomes #1 Test side during Rio Olympics

Day 16 has ended at the Rio Olympics 2016. It is the eve of fourth and last Test match between West Indies and India at Port of Spain.

India is yet to win any medal at Rio Olympics. Indian cricket team has become the #1 Test side after beating West Indies in 3rd test match at St Lucia on 13th August after a gap of over 20 years.

Great Britain is placed 2nd in medals tally despite starting slowly. About a week earlier Piers Morgan lamented the lack of gold medals for Team GB.

Contrast it with the Olympic Creed –

slide_2

Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee,  adopted the quote after listening to Ethelbert Talbot, an Anglican bishop from Pennsylvania speak to Olympic athletes during services at the 1908 London Games who said,  “The important thing in these Olympics is not so much winning as taking part.”

A few days before Piers Morgan, Shobhaa De took a dig at the Indian contingent.

Two athletes set new national records at Rio Olympics. Lalita Babar improved the national record by 7 seconds in 3000m steeplechase clocking 9 minutes 19.76 seconds to become the first Indian woman athlete in 32 years to make it to a track final at the Olympics despite finishing fourth in her heats. She lost automatic qualification to Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya (9:17.55), Emma Coburn of USA (9:18.12) and Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia (9:18.71). In an 18-woman final race decided over 4 heats, she was amongst the 6 top performers excluding 12 automatic qualifiers. Sophie Hitchon became the first British woman to win an Olympic hammer medal by setting a new British record of 74.54m. She managed to win only a bronze because Pole Anita Wlodarczyk broke her own World Record to throw 82.29m on that day. China’s Zhang Wenxiu earned a silver with 76.75m. Sometimes an athlete’s personal best, which could also be the national best, is not enough when we judge it on Piers Morgan scale of ‘Gold or not’.

Sri Lanka was playing Australia in the 3rd test at Colombo when I started writing this post. Chasing 324, Australia folded in 45th over for 160 as player of the series Rangana Herath scalped 7 for 44. In the process, Australia handed over number one ranking to India in the official ICC Test Rankings developed by David Kendix. ICC provides historical rankings going back to June 2003. India has twice topped this list – for 21 months between Nov 2009 & Aug 2011 and briefly at end of Jan 2016.

I have my own Test Rankings. According to my methodology India topped this list after winning the 3rd test on 13th Aug. This methodology accounts for the margin of victory (or defeat), the nature of draw, current ranking of opponent and the home/away performance with dynamically diminishing weight for performance in older tests (unlike the ICC method where only two weights of 100% and 50% percent are used and rankings may change overnight at the end of May when weights change overnight). According to my method, updated after every single test, India last reached the summit in 1995 when debutant Lee Germon captained New Zealand at Bangalore in the first of 3 test series. ICC ranked India ahead of England until the end of India in England series of 2011 which England won 4-0. My methodology placed England at the top of rankings starting from Nov 2010 when England started winning Ashes away to Australia. South Africa was the top nation between Nov 2009 and Nov 2010 twice losing the crown to Australia – once after a drawn test at Port of Spain and later when Australia beat Pakistan at Lord’s.

That was a digression. This post was not meant to be a comparison between my methodology vis-a-vis ICC version. It was about how well a player/team may perform on its own and yet fail to reach podium. And the corollary – winning the top spot due to poor performance by others. Since Cricket gets far more resources than other sports in India and I own a custom database of cricket analytics, it will be easier to make the point that Olympics (or any other sport) is primarily about participating to best of own ability. The results are secondary which are decided by the (non-)performance of others.

Let us restrict the coverage to last 5 years – the period after India lost 4-0 to England despite #1 spot in ICC rankings. It began by India beating West Indies 2-0 at home in a 3 test series. This was followed by a loss, another 4-0 whitewash away to Australia. Then beat New Zealand at home 2-0 followed by a loss at home 2-1 to England in a 4-match series. An emphatic 4-0 win at home against Australia was followed by a hastily arranged 2 test series against West Indies when Sachin Tendulkar retired after playing 200th Test. India reached its highest score of 56 (out of 100) by beating them by an innings in both tests. Even though Sachin failed to score a Test hundred in that series, it can be argued that he left the scene when India was strongest. During this period, India rose to #2 rank behind South Africa. The proteas were unbeaten in that period who beat Kiwis 2-0 at home (both by an innings), then defeating Pak 3-0 at home (by 211 runs, 4 wkts and an innings),  drawing 1-1 against them in UAE (lost by 7 wkts and won by an innings), and finally beating India 1-0 at home (this included a memorable draw where South Africa reached 450/7 chasing 458 which I covered in this post followed by a 10 wkt win).

Now let us compare this scenario with India reaching #1 status after more than 2 decades despite reaching only 53 (out of 100) points. In this period other teams dropped more points than India. India dethroned Australia to reach #1 who held this spot since Aug 2015 when they lost the Ashes 3-2. They beat New Zealand & West Indies 2-0 at home which was followed by a visit across Tasman to win by same score. But they were hovering around 52-54 points which got pulled down by losing away to Sri Lanka 3-0.

Since the 2-0 loss down under in a 4 test series, India has played a rain affected draw against Bangladesh,  beaten South Africa 3-0 on spinning minefields, posted a rare 2-1 away win against Sri Lanka and are now leading 2-0 against West Indies away. This sequence has lifted India to just above 53 points when other teams are struggling. England drew 4 match series against steadily improving Pakistan. 4 teams India, Pakistan, Australia and England are placed in a tight band of around 51-53 points which means they may swap ranking spots quickly with one another; but qualitatively there is not much to separate them.

And there we can see that India has regained the top spot after a long time partly through good results but helped by average performances by its contenders. On the other hand, its much better run coincided by an even stronger performance by South Africa who are a miserable 7th with about 40 points now.

Chapter 2, verse 47 of Bhagavad Gita is addressed to all the sportspeople –

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि || 47 ||

They may work on individual performances but they are not entitled to a gold medal.

 

 

 

Galatea and the Flower Girl

Pygmalion and Galatea (Gérôme) Back

Pygmalion and Galatea (Gérôme)

We returned to the room of photographic art, and there another thick curtain was pulled aside so that we stood before an alcove I had never seen before. There in the alcove was the statue of a man, six feet tall and nude, which was, as far as I could see, anatomically correct to the last millimeter.

Elderberry pushed a button and the statue slowly turned on its pedestal, its smooth symmetry and perfect proportions evident from every angle.
“My masterpiece,” breathed Elderberry.

I am not myself a great admirer of manly beauty, but reflected in Elderberry’s lovely face I saw a panting admiration that made it clear she was suffused with love and adoration.

“You love that statue,” I said, cautiously avoiding the impersonal ‘it.’

“Oh, yes,” she whispered. “I would die for him. While he exists, I find all other men deformed and hateful. I could never let any man touch me without a sensation of disgust. I want only him. Only him.”

“My poor child,” I said, “the statue is not alive.”

“I know. I know,” she said brokenly. “My poor heart is shattered over that. What shall I do?”

I murmured, “How sad! It reminds me of the tale of Pygmalion.”

“Of whom?” said Elderberry, who like all artists was a simple soul who knew nothing of the wide outer world.

“Of Pygmalion. It is a story of ancient times. Pygmalion was a sculptor just like you except, of course, that he was a man. And he carved a lovely statue as you did, except that, because of his peculiar manly prejudices, he carved a woman, whom he called Galatea. The statue was so beautiful that Pygmalion fell in love with it. You see, it is just like your case, except that you are a living Galatea and the statue is a graven   – “

That was an excerpt from Isaac Asimov’s science fiction story named Galatea. In Greek mythology, Pygmalion was a king of the island of Cyprus and a sculptor whose earliest mention can be found in Philostephanus‘ history of Cyprus. Roman poet Ovid’s Latin narrative poem Metamorphoses comprising 15 books contains over 250 myths. Pygmalion’s familiarity is down to Ovid’s tenth book about Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus sings about a number of myths. He mentions Ganymede, Hyacinthus, Propoetides, Myrrha, Venus, Adonis and of course retells the story of Pygmalion.

Pygmalion had seen them, spending their lives in wickedness, and, offended by the failings that nature gave the female heart, he lived as a bachelor, without a wife or partner for his bed. But, with wonderful skill, he carved a figure, brilliantly, out of snow-white ivory, no mortal woman, and fell in love with his own creation. The features are those of a real girl, who, you might think, lived, and wished to move, if modesty did not forbid it. Indeed, art hides his art. He marvels: and passion, for this bodily image, consumes his heart. Often, he runs his hands over the work, tempted as to whether it is flesh or ivory, not admitting it to be ivory. he kisses it and thinks his kisses are returned; and speaks to it; and holds it, and imagines that his fingers press into the limbs, and is afraid lest bruises appear from the pressure. Now he addresses it with compliments, now brings it gifts that please girls, shells and polished pebbles, little birds, and many-coloured flowers, lilies and tinted beads, and the Heliades’s amber tears, that drip from the trees. He dresses the body, also, in clothing; places rings on the fingers; places a long necklace round its neck; pearls hang from the ears, and cinctures round the breasts. All are fitting: but it appears no less lovely, naked. He arranges the statue on a bed on which cloths dyed with Tyrian murex are spread, and calls it his bedfellow, and rests its neck against soft down, as if it could feel.

‘The day of Venus’s festival came, celebrated throughout Cyprus, and heifers, their curved horns gilded, fell, to the blow on their snowy neck. The incense was smoking, when Pygmalion, having made his offering, stood by the altar, and said, shyly: “If you can grant all things, you gods, I wish as a bride to have…” and not daring to say “the girl of ivory” he said “one like my ivory girl.” Golden Venus, for she herself was present at the festival, knew what the prayer meant, and as a sign of the gods’ fondness for him, the flame flared three times, and shook its crown in the air. When he returned, he sought out the image of his girl, and leaning over the couch, kissed her. She felt warm: he pressed his lips to her again, and also touched her breast with his hand. The ivory yielded to his touch, and lost its hardness, altering under his fingers, as the bees’ wax of Hymettus softens in the sun, and is moulded, under the thumb, into many forms, made usable by use. The lover is stupefied, and joyful, but uncertain, and afraid he is wrong, reaffirms the fulfilment of his wishes, with his hand, again, and again.

‘It was flesh! The pulse throbbed under his thumb. Then the hero, of Paphos, was indeed overfull of words with which to thank Venus, and still pressed his mouth against a mouth that was not merely a likeness. The girl felt the kisses he gave, blushed, and, raising her bashful eyes to the light, saw both her lover and the sky. The goddess attended the marriage that she had brought about, and when the moon’s horns had nine times met at the full, the woman bore a son, Paphos, from whom the island takes its name.

Above prose is from A S Kline’s version of Metamorphoses. Click here for the lyrical version by Rolfe Humphries. It is clear from the text that the ivory girl does not have a name in the classical version. Galatea in Greek means ‘she who is milk-white’. There is an independent myth in Book 13 of Metamorphoses that refers to another Galatea – whiter than the snowy privet petals. 18th century writers named this milk-white ivory statue Galatea displacing the earlier one in familiarity stakes.

What’s in a name? Goethe calls her Elise based on Elissa the Queen of Carthage. He was fascinated by Kalidasa‘s Abhijñānaśākuntalam but that is a topic for some other day. Another Roman poet Virgil in his Aeneid retells Elissa from the original sibling rivalry story by Junianus Justinus in which daughter Elissa and son Pygmalion are joint heirs to the king of Tyre.

First American publication, November 1914

George Bernard Shaw named her Eliza Doolittle in his 1912 play Pygmalion – A Romance in Five ActsHenry Higgins, a professor of phonetics, metaphorically brings Eliza to life by teaching her upper class manners while refining her accent. The term ‘romance’ is generally associated with a love affair but Shaw called it ‘a romance because of the transfiguration it records seems exceedingly improbable‘. The 1916 print edition includes his postscript essay ‘What Happened Afterwards’ to explain why it was impossible for his story to end with Higgins and Eliza getting married. He declares, ‘Galatea never does quite like Pygmalion: his relation to her is too godlike to be altogether agreeable.‘ The play had a very successful run in West End. It was lauded by both – critics and audiences. Everyone, except Shaw, wanted a happy marriage mirroring the original myth.

Shaw was a fan of motion pictures since the days of the silent films. He disliked the German version of the 1935 film about Pygmalion. Gabriel Pascal was once picked with the Pope and Hitler as one of the ten most famous men of 1938. Shaw found him to be an honest film producer. The British film produced by Pascal released in 1938. Against Shaw’s wishes a happy ending was added.

While reading the play, Pu La Deshpande, the Marathi playwright and a lot more, imagined the characters delivering equivalent lines in local dialect. A diary entry dated 19 May 1949 mentions Pu La mimicking Eliza, Higgins and Alfred Doolittle to his own text at the residence of Vasant Joglekar.

George Bernard Shaw refused permission for Pygmalion to be adapted into a musical. When he died in 1950, Gabriel Pascal asked lyricists Alan Jay Lerner & his partner Frederick Loewe to adapt the play into a musical. The project was abandoned after two years. Pascal died in 1954. Lerner and Loewe reunited to write the show and then acquired the musical rights from Pascal’s estate. The musical premiered on Broadway in 1956 and two years later appeared in West End as ‘My Fair Lady‘. It was followed by the 1964 film adaptation written by Lerner and directed by George Cukor. The film won 8 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor.

Pygmalion is dark and realistic. My Fair Lady is a light comedy. In Pygmalion, Higgins treats Eliza with arrogance and contempt. Even though it has been omitted from the Gutenberg edition, it is well-known that Higgins scolds Eliza: “Yes, you squashed cabbage-leaf, you disgrace to the noble architecture of these columns, you incarnate insult to the English language! I could pass you off as the Queen of Sheba!“. He softens towards the end in My Fair Lady singing “I’ve grown accustomed to her face“. In the final act, Higgins crosses the limits of decency forcing Eliza to abandon him. She returns to him in My Fair Lady with a suggestive end hinting she might fetch his slippers.

Several adaptations surfaced in India after the runaway success of My Fair Lady. IPTA produced the Urdu Play ‘Azar ka Khwab‘ in July 1970 written by Begum Qudsia Zaidi. Swarasamradni written by Vidyadhar Gokhale showcased in December 1972 about the transformation of a Tamasha artist into a respected classical singer. Madhu Rai’s Gujarati version ‘Santu Rangili’ was produced by Indian National Theatre in Jan 1973. In January 1974, Satish Dubhashi, an extremely talented actor, requested Pu La to write a new play for him. Pu La was very fond of Satish and knew that he would do a great job playing Higgins. He decided to resurrect the characters he had developed in 1949. He completed the first two acts within 48 hours yet required about 4 and a half months to complete the play. Pu La directed the show himself which made its debut in Mumbai on 29 January 1975. Its script was published 19 years later in June 1994 as the play continued its successful run.

I prefer Shaw’s resolution to the musical. I like P L’s denouement even more.

What’s in a name? The original Greek myth & Ovid did not name the female statue turned wife. It does not make sense to assign modern sensibilities to the classic text yet it is clear that original myth was all about Pygmalion. He sculpted the statue, he fell in love with his creation, he made a wish, his wish was granted, he sired a child. Shaw’s version is not all about Pygmalion. He created a strong feminine protagonist. In his own words: ‘Eliza, in telling Higgins she would not marry him if he asked her, was not coquetting: she was announcing a well-considered decision‘. Eventually the play is titled Pygmalion despite the well known fact that it was originally written for the actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell. Incidentally Shaw rejected its provisional title – Fair Eliza. It is the story of Henry Higgins who while being good at his job lacks other attributes. The screenplay and dialogues are deliberately structured to reach the only possible conclusion that Eliza and Henry can’t live happily ever after.

Pu La named his play Ti Phulrani (ती फुलराणी – The Flowerqueen ) borrowing the title from a very famous poem by Balkavi, a pen name of Tryambak Bapuji Thombre, well known for his delicate and picturesque nature poems. Poems by Balkavi can be divided in three broad groups: poems depicting subtle phenomenon in nature, poems depicting emotional strife and finally the agnostic, meditative and philosophical poems. The title poem discussed here illustrates Balkavi’s approach to Nature poems where he personifies aspects of nature with human emotions. In this poem, stars fill the earth with love and hope, the brook dances and rejoices and the ray of the rising Sun makes love to the Flower.

नवरदेव सोनेरी रविकर – नवरी ही फुलराणी सुंदर !

The literal translation of this famous line: ‘Golden Sun is the Groom who marries his Beautiful Bride, the Flower’ is more relevant and applicable to our play. The title of Marathi version borrows its name from a classical nature poem that implicitly refers to marriage of the female protagonist through allusion to the term Queen. Pu La does not make superficial changes to Shaw’s plot for an alternative ending. In his tribute to Shaw, he faithfully retains skeleton of the original to build his own castle which reflects the times and his own sensibilities. [Click here for the similarities and dissimilarities between Wordsworth and Balkavi.]

We have seen that Shaw calls his heroine Eliza following Goethe referring to the lead female from a different Pygmalion story. This is how we find out her name in the play:

PICKERING [very courteous] Won’t you sit down?

LIZA [coyly] Don’t mind if I do. [She sits down. Pickering returns to the hearthrug].

HIGGINS. What’s your name?

THE FLOWER GIRL. Liza Doolittle.

HIGGINS [declaiming gravely] Eliza, Elizabeth, Betsy and Bess, They went to the woods to get a birds nes’: PICKERING. They found a nest with four eggs in it: HIGGINS. They took one apiece, and left three in it.

They laugh heartily at their own wit.

The Bird’s nest is a nursery rhyme where Eliza, Betsy and Bess are all forms of the original name which is Elizabeth. Hence only one egg is taken leaving three behind. We can see both Pickering (who is a gentleman and very courteous to Eliza) and Higgins mocking her at the outset. Now compare this with the equivalent introduction by P L:

विसुभाऊ:(खुर्ची उचलून) बसा बाई, बसा.
[मंजुळा खुर्ची स्वच्छ करून बसते]
अशोक : नाव काय तुझें
मंजुळा : मंजुळा … दगडू … साळुंखे
अशोक: वा, काय गोड नाव आहे! विसुभाऊ लक्षात आलं का? साळुंकी मंजूळ बोलतसे वाणी …
विसुभाऊ: शिकविता धनी वेगळाची, वेगळाची!

Visubhau: (places the stray chair) Madam, please sit down.
[Manjula wipes the seat before sitting]
Ashok: What is your name?
Manjula: Manjula (sweet) … Dagdu (stone) … Salunkhe [myna bird]
Ashok: Wow, what a sweet name! Visubhau, did you get it? The myna bird sings sweetly ..
Visubhau:  But the master who teaches her is different altogether!

This extract demonstrates how the structure is retained while making subtle refinements. Visubhau isn’t merely acting like a gentleman; he believes that Eliza is his equal by addressing her as Madam and placing a chair for her. (Later he extends the same courtesy to Eliza’s step-mother.) Eliza may belong to a lower social circle but has already learnt some of the upper class manners by observing others. Upon hearing her name the two men, instead of mocking her with a children’s rhyme, appreciate it by remembering a famous hymn:

आपुलिया बळें नाहीं मी बोलत । सखा भगवंत वाचा त्याची ॥
साळुंकी मंजूळ बोलतसे वाणी । शिकविता धणी वेगळाची ॥

Between 14th  & 17th century, a spiritual movement swept through India led by a group of Saints including Saint Tukaram who was a prominent spiritual poet from Maharashtra. His devotional poetry, called Abhang meaning flawless, had themes varying from humility, equality, concern for ecology and God’s Grace. The partially quoted hymn begins with the assertion that the words I utter are a grace of God (and not of my own accord) in the same way that a Mynabird sings sweetly by the grace of her Master.

The hymn differentiates Henry from Ashok. I think Shaw’s Henry is based on a José Mourinho like coach who believes that he buys only those footballers that have the talent and desire to excel. He won’t waste his time on a player if he felt differently about him. So the success of his team is a result of his planning and acumen. On the other hand my subjective opinion is that Ashok is like Arséne Wenger – grateful that he gets an opportunity to coach players who arrive at the club with a strong desire to improve.

By the way, both Manjula & Eliza react in the same way calling the men silly for leaving the thread of conversation and quoting obscure poems. When Eliza arrives at Wimpole street to pay for her lessons Shaw’s descriptive notes in the script make a few things clear:

MRS. PEARCE [returning] This is the young woman, sir.

The flower girl enters in state. She has a hat with three ostrich feathers, orange, sky-blue, and red. She has a nearly clean apron, and the shoddy coat has been tidied a little. The pathos of this deplorable figure, with its innocent vanity and consequential air, touches Pickering, who has already straightened himself in the presence of Mrs. Pearce. But as to Higgins, the only distinction he makes between men and women is that when he is neither bullying nor exclaiming to the heavens against some featherweight cross, he coaxes women as a child coaxes its nurse when it wants to get anything out of her. [emphasis mine]

HIGGINS [brusquely, recognizing her with unconcealed disappointment, and at once, baby-like, making an intolerable grievance of it] Why, this is the girl I jotted down last night. She’s no use: I’ve got all the records I want of the Lisson Grove lingo; and I’m not going to waste another cylinder on it. [To the girl] Be off with you: I don’t want you.

The book was released 19 years after the first show of the Marathi play which was originally directed by the author and that may be the reason we do not find any equivalent notes in Marathi text. When Eliza offers to pay a shilling, Higgins assumes that she earns about a half-a-crown which would be two-fifths of her day’s income. On the other hand, when Manjula offers to pay ₹10, Ashok calculates her monthly income to be roughly ₹40 after inquiring about her daily earnings. Soon after accepting her as a pupil, Henry mentions that within six months Eliza ‘shall marry an officer in the Guards, with a beautiful moustache‘. Needless to mention that in an otherwise faithful adaptation of this act, Pu La discards this line about Eliza’s marriage and later one about Henry’s bachelorhood. When Pickering demands a character certificate from Henry, he replies:

HIGGINS [coming off the piano restlessly] Oh, Lord knows! I suppose the woman wants to live her own life; and the man wants to live his; and each tries to drag the other on to the wrong track. One wants to go north and the other south; and the result is that both have to go east, though they both hate the east wind. [He sits down on the bench at the keyboard]. So here I am, a confirmed old bachelor, and likely to remain so.

After everyone agrees that Eliza will remain at Wimpole Street for her lessons, Mrs Pearce calmly lists the things Henry must follow such as being tidy and avoid swearing. He agrees to improve his behaviour. Later he moans to Pickering that despite being a diffident sort of man he gets portrayed as an overbearing boss. In the same situation Ashok jokes to Visubhau that he may be the only bachelor in the world who lives with his mother-in-law.

Shaw hides Eliza’s qualities in the first two acts. Her intelligence, superb memory, ability to produce sounds etc are revealed when she visits Henry’s mother in the third act. She is ‘devoted’ to the two men in this act before becoming independent in Acts IV and V. Perhaps it was a deliberate attempt by Shaw to surprise the audience as the play unravels but I prefer Manjula who displays her native intelligence from the opening act.

Alfred Doolittle, the garbage collector, is the undeserving poor. His last name indicates that he wants to get around without doing much. The character is created to make satirical barbs at middle class morality – ‘But my needs is as great as the most deserving widow’s that ever got money out of six different charities in one week for the death of the same husband ‘. Higgins and Pickering are delighted to hear his Poetic English – ‘I’ll tell you, Governor, if you’ll only let me get a word in. I’m willing to tell you. I’m wanting to tell you. I’m waiting to tell you‘. Dagadoba in PL’s version is as good and unlike Alfred he continues to sprinkle rhyming couplets throughout the play. I am quoting a few examples without transliteration and translation:

जीव कुट जडलं आन कुठलं झाड कुट वाडलं
सौदा पटवा माल उठवा
आपुन केल्यालं आपुनच भोगनार आन आपुन खाल्यालं आपुनच हगनार
गुरं हाकनाराच्या आन बाया राकनाराच्या

My gripe about the Marathi adaptation is limited to the weaker version of Henry’s mother. Both Mrs. Higgins and Aaisaheb chide their only son for his lack of manners. In fact, Higgins is responsible only for improving Eliza’s pronunciation and rudimentary knowledge. The real transformation is in her manners which Henry can’t teach. In Pygmalion, Mrs. Higgins gets to speak the following lines in the third act:

MRS. HIGGINS. You certainly are a pretty pair of babies, playing with your live doll.
MRS. HIGGINS. No, you two infinitely stupid male creatures: the problem of what is to be done with her afterwards.
MRS. HIGGINS. No, dearest: it would be quite proper—say on a canal barge; but it would not be proper for her at a garden party.
MRS. HIGGINS [flings down her pen; grips the table angrily and exclaims] Oh, men! men!! men!!!

And a few in the final act:

MRS. HIGGINS. Please don’t grind your teeth, Henry.
MRS. HIGGINS. Very nicely put, indeed, Henry. No woman could resist such an invitation.

I believe that Pu La compromised the strong mother character in lieu of civilising Ashok. Aaisaheb does put down Ashok but not with the ferocity of Mrs. Higgins. It is a common misconception that Ti Phulrani is based on My Fair Lady which can be easily cleared by placing the script of both versions next to each other. Or we can point to the fact that Freddy Hill does not have a sister in Lerner’s version. Clara Eynsford Hill speaks the opening line of the play complaining to her mother that Freddy could not fetch a cab on time. In the third act, all three Eynsford’s visit Mrs. Higgins’ Chelsea flat on her at-home day. Henry invites Eliza to test her skills in upper society scrutinising how she pronounces and what she pronounces. She does well on how but ends up encouraging Clara to learn ‘the new small talk‘ in terms of what.

Act III in both versions is very similar barring a clever change in the Marathi version albeit at the cost of weakening the mother character. It opens with Henry turning up uninvited on the at-home day of Mrs. Higgins. He explains his bet with Pickering and the social experiment with a common flower girl. Mrs. and Miss Eynsford Hill arrive just before mother can make any protest. Freddy, Pickering and Eliza join them soon. Eliza makes an impact with her pedantic speech. But when the conversation moves to Influenza, she slips into her native accent revealing alcoholism in the family. Henry explains the slippage as the ‘new small talk‘. When Eliza gets up to leave, Freddy offers to walk her but she exclaims, “Walk! Not bloody likely. I am going in a taxi.” Clara is smitten with Eliza and tries to imitate her speech. After the guests leave, Mrs. Higgins admonishes Henry and Pickering in a series of criticisms quoted above. The act ends when she is left exasperated gasping ‘men! men!! men!!!‘.

Ashok appears unannounced on a Friday afternoon at a time when guests are expected. He gets his mother up to date about his bet with Visubhau and his invitation to the common flower girl. After hearing him out she points out, in a relatively gentle manner, the difficulty of Manjula’s new station at the end of their experiment. The three members of Patwardhan family from the opening act arrive. They are joined by Visubhau and Manjula. Manjula impresses everyone with her diction. The conversation moves to influenza. Manjula slips into her accent and describes family history using colloquial verbs like खपवली, लाटली, फूटवली which are used to describe theft and murder. Vasant (Freddy) thinks that she is merely imitating “the new small talk”. When Manjula gets up to leave, Vasant offers to walk her but she exclaims, “हितं कोन रांडीचं चालायला बसलंय!“. Suma is smitten with Manjula so Ashok encourages her not be afraid and use the new small talk at other parties too.

During 1930s, Motion Picture Association’s code prohibited the use of word damn in the film. An amendment was passed to allow the word in special situations a month and half before the release of Gone with the Wind  which paved the way for the iconic, ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn‘ line. All the other actresses, except Mrs. Patrick Campbell, refused to say the taboo word ‘bloody’ spoken by Eliza when Pygmalion made its West End Debut. With passage of time, in an élite setting, Damn and Bloody got replaced by the asterisked F word to shock the audience.

रांडीचं used by Manjula is the equivalent shock word for Shaw’s ‘bloody’. Relatively It does not seem out of place when uttered by supposedly uncouth Manjula. Suma is a middle class Brahmin girl expected to carry the burden of middle class morality. Ashok instigates Suma to use some of Manjula’s choice crass phrases. At his prompt about not being afraid, Suma retorts, “हितं कोन रांडीचं भ्यायला बसलंय!” (“Who the F$*@ is afraid!”) just before the curtain falls.

Shaw’s 1912 version does not waste any ink in Educating Eliza but his 1941 film script includes the famous pronunciation exercises “the rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain” and “In Hertford, Hereford, and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen”. According to The Disciple and His Devil, the biography of Gabriel Pascal by his wife Valerie, it was Gabriel who introduced the famous phonetic exercises. Elizabeth’s lessons were further expanded by Lerner in My Fair Lady to the extent that she gets frustrated and dreams of various ways to kill Henry.

Manjula’s education is covered in depth by PL. It begins with prose in a traditional ‘once upon a time’ story and right at the beginning Pu La makes fun of superficial politeness using a sweet exchange in native dialect between Manjula and Visubhau to highlight their camaraderie. Visubhau and Ashok brainstorm about an appropriate poem and settle on two nature poems by Balkavi. One of them is the popular monsoon rain song and the other one is the Title poem discussed earlier. Ashok buys Manjula a ring when she flawlessly recites that poem after 15 days of hard work. Henry too buys a ring for Eliza in Brighton but we don’t know whether it was a reward for any specific act of hers or in general. In between when the going gets tough, Manjula too gets to daydream on stage wishing awful things for Ashok.

There is a small difference between Eliza and Manjula’s fantasy. Eliza dreams of shouting out “Ready, aim, fire” in the concluding verse of “Just you wait, ‘enry ‘iggins, just you wait“. Manjula’s reverie ends with ‘शरन आल्यावं देऊ नये मरन‘ – ‘pardon the death sentence for those who surrender’.

नांदी or a benediction/precursor used to be the first piece of text in Sanskrit dramas including the celebrated plays by Bhāsa, Śūdraka & Kālidāsa. It is kind of opening prayer generally praising Shiva followed by a short dialogue between the narrator and members of the troupe to introduce title, author and theme of the play. Pu La brilliantly reuses that tradition to introduce vowels and consonants in a Balkavi-like personification of the letters. He explains the origins of guttural, palatal, retroflex, dental, labial, approximant and fricative sounds without getting technical. He goes on to declare that ego set in immediately when sounds came together to form words resulting in discrimination based on pronunciation. He ends his benediction by crediting Shaw for Pygmalion and himself for its adaptation in Marathi.

In his introduction to the 1914 script, Shaw boasts that:

 .. Pygmalion has been an extremely successful play all over Europe and North America as well as at home. It is so intensely and deliberately didactic, and its subject is esteemed so dry, that I delight in throwing it at the heads of the wiseacres who repeat the parrot cry that art should never be didactic. It goes to prove my contention that art should never be anything else.

Pu La is more Rakjumar Hirani than Rakesyh Mehra. He knows his audience thoroughly – a few lessons will do but never get preachy. He does not want to tell the audience how ignoramus they are. Mehra tried that in Delhi 6, soon after the success of Rang de Basanti, asking people to look in a mirror and correct their own biases. Not unexpectedly, viewers disapproved a film whose solution wasn’t gunning down the politician to solve all the problems. Pu La is loved universally. An artist/sportsman manages a larger following by keeping his personal views to himself.

Shaw joined the Fabian Society, a socialist political organisation, in 1884. The society championed systematic, progressive legislation based on mass education and persuasion. The society started releasing essays, written by famous and prominent figures, including Shaw and attracted a lot of literary and speech talents, thus ensuring influence among British intellectuals and eventually government officials. Many Fabians participated in the formation of the Labour Party in 1900. His plays dealt with issues such as women’s rights and poverty and implied that socialism could help solve capitalist problems. Shaw’s popularity declined after his essay Common Sense About the War (1914), which was considered unpatriotic. With Saint Joan (1924), portraying Joan of Arc four years after she was declared a saint, Shaw was again accepted by the post-war public.

In Act IV, after a triumphant evening, Eliza’s independent spirit stands up to Henry’s bullying. In the beginning she fetches Henry’s slippers like a loyal puppy. By the end she taunts him until he loses his temper and enjoys the spectacle. Their argument in Pygmalion is decisive with no reconciliation in final act. Pu La retains the skeleton of the argument but leaves the bitter stuff so that Ashok can regain common sense in the final act of reconciliation. Shaw gets preachy in this section managing to put his finger on the society even after a hundred years:

If you’re going to be a lady, you’ll have to give up feeling neglected if the men you know don’t spend half their time snivelling over you and the other half giving you black eyes.

If you can’t appreciate what you’ve got, you’d better get what you can appreciate.

Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.

In the postscript essay ‘What Happened Afterwards’, he quotes Nietzsche: “When you go to women, take your whip with you.” Then he adds:

Sensible despots have never confined that precaution to women: they have taken their whips with them when they have dealt with men, and been slavishly idealized by the men over whom they have flourished the whip much more than by women. No doubt there are slavish women as well as slavish men; and women, like men, admire those that are stronger than themselves.

In conclusion, if Pygmalion is adapted again, the creators can characterise Henry and Pickering in a civil partnership at the beginning and the play can end with Eliza, Henry and Pickering as ‘three old bachelors together instead of only two men and a silly girl.

Pygmalion and Galatea (Gérôme) Front

Pygmalion and Galatea (Gérôme) Front

Reserve Day for a Knockout Match

Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka hosted South Africa and Sri Lanka for the first semi-final of Wills International Cup on 30th October 1998. Damp ground delayed the start and match was reduced initially to 40 and eventually to 39 overs. South Africa scored 240/7 batting first. Rain returned during the break. Match committee reduced Sri Lankan innings to 34 overs and the first Duckworth Lewis target of 224 was set.

1999 World Cup started about 6 months later. England faced India in a must win match at Edgbaston on 29th May. India scored 232/8 on a slowish pitch. After 20.3 overs, England reached 73/3 when a downpour ensured the match could not be continued. D/L targets were used in two other matches before the World Cup and it was time to apply it for the first time in a World Cup match. But ICC had decided to make use of a reserve day. England’s target of 233 from 50 overs  was unchanged when the match continued on 30th May. Hosts were bowled out for 169 in 46th over. D/L did not come into play as the scheduled 50 over match was completed on the reserve day.

A week later, New Zealand and Zimbabwe played a Super Six game at Headingley. Zimbabwe innings was interrupted twice due to rain but overs were not reduced. New Zealand, facing a target of 176 in 50 overs, reached 70/3 in 15 overs when bad light stopped play. Reserve day was used once again. At least 25 overs had to be completed to constitute a game. No play was possible on 7th June and the match was abandoned.

Few months later, Reserve day was used in the 4th ODI between West Indies and New Zealand at Wellington. At close of Day 1, West Indies reached 43/1 in 11th over. A 50 over game was continued on the next day when New Zealand successfully chased the target of 172 from 50 overs.

ICC Champions Trophy played in September 2004 witnessed 4 rain affected games. England beat Zimbabwe on reserve day after reaching 198/5 in 38 overs on Day 1. There was no play on scheduled day between Kenya and Pakistan but a 50 over match was completed on reserve day. South Africa beat West Indies over 100 overs on 18-19 September. England v Sri Lanka was the sole exception. England reached 118/3 in 32 overs at close of play eventually reaching 251 in 50 overs. Sri Lanka reached 95/5 in 24 overs after which play was not possible. England won the match by 49 runs according to D/L method.

ICC World Cup 2007. Super Eight match between West Indies and Australia continued on reserve day. Australia scored 322/6 in 50 overs on 27th March. West Indies was bowled out for 219 on 28th March in the 46th over.

A reserve day to continue a 50 over match in a multilateral tournament. If the match still can’t be completed then a result is still possible in case the second innings has progressed sufficiently. Side finishing higher in league stage to qualify in case of a knock-out match with no result. Appears fine to me.

It does not appear fine to ICC though. In the recent first semifinal between South Africa and New Zealand, rain interrupted the charge by Proteas after 38 overs. 216/3 in 38 was projected to culminate in 324 off 50 if the momentum was maintained.

The revised playing conditions for this edition required a curtailed game to be completed on the scheduled day. The reserve day would come into play only if team batting second did not finish playing 20 overs. After the interruption, the match was reduced to 43 overs which means South Africa had 5 more overs to get as many. They added 65 runs in those 30 balls. A projection is just a projection but around 320 in 50 overs remained likely. Kiwis successfully chased the revised D/L target of 298 in 43 overs despite remaining slightly below par score until the winning six.

My earlier post proposed Wicket Adjusted Run Rate (WARR) as a simpler alternative to set revised targets.

What if West Indies had to play towards a target of 178 in 50 overs with the knowledge that only 30 overs are possible? This means that the target for the loss of 0 through 4 wickets is still 107 but it increases to 122/5, 139/6, 153/7, 163/8 or 172/9. In order to win the match by wickets, West Indies had to score the 50 over target in less than 30 overs and in that case the match would be deemed complete as a heavy victory saving more than 120 balls. To tie the match the tenth wicket falls with scores level.

By that logic, India would get a target of 224 in 47 overs for the 1992 WC match against Australia as long as it lost no more than 8 wickets else it must score 230/9. To win the match outright with wickets in hand, the target of 238 must be achieved in less than 47 overs.

It is based on the principle that 10 wickets are proportional to 50 overs. In a shorter game, team batting second will find it easier to chase a stiffer asking rate if the target is not scaled by wickets lost. In the first semi-final Kiwis scored at nearly 7 runs an over losing 6 wickets in 43 overs. It can be argued that South Africa would have defended an assumed target of 325 in 50 overs despite the lower asking rate of 6.5. The best thing about that scenario is that the goal post would not be shifted for one of the teams.

This post is not about the method to be used to decide an interrupted game. It is about playing a 100 over match. If required use the second day. WARR is mentioned because it calculates a wicket adjusted 50 over equivalent. Team batting second can’t lose too many wickets because the face fewer deliveries.

On a side note, there were too many fumbles in the semifinal. The argument is that a knockout game creates such pressure that mistakes happen. Another recent post argues that there should be only 1 knock out game – The Final! Teams progress from one stage to another based on good overall results. One bad day should not mean curtains for an otherwise consistent in-form team. If medicority is par for course at the business end of a marquee tournament then we are better off by keeping it down to just one game.

ODI Double Hundreds

The first ODI double hundred was scored in match #2962. It took too long. One may expect Viv Richards to achieve the feat in the 55/60-over era. Richards is, and will likely remain, the best ODI batsmen because he combined occupying crease with quick scoring at a rate significantly higher than his peers. He twice scored over 180. Facing Botham and Willis in 1984 at Old Trafford in a 55 over match, he remained unbeaten on 189 after facing 170 deliveries. 9th wicket fell at 166 after which he carried West Indies to 272 in the company of Michael Holding. There were 21 fours and 5 sixes in that knock where others struggled. During 1987 World Cup, he came in facing the hat-trick ball. Took him only 124 balls to reach 181. He had a chance to beat his own record of 189 and also become the first to score a double hundred. Instead he was caught aiming for his 8th six. The second instance was the realistic chance which did not materialise.

Tendulkar,  a notch below Viv, was an extremely good batsman in ’90s especially after he started opening. An opener carrying the bat did not accelerate in the closing stages during the period when Sachin was ahead of his peers. There were fewer boundaries and more singles to be run. Fitness regime was different and the bats had not become axes. Tendulkar was an unlikely candidate to score 200. There were some one-off scores close to 200 when scoring rates improved in general. I expected Sehwag or Dilshan to reach the milestone because they had the ability to score quickly in the early overs and carry on batting quick until the last ten. Gilchrist was lower in that list as I did not expect him to pace the innings just to get to a milestone. Watson got very close to getting the first double hundred that too batting second. Alas the target was only 230.

On 24 Feb 2010 at Gwalior against South Africa in the 2nd ODI, Tendulkar scored his 46th ODI ton in the 28th over in 90 balls without hitting any six. The next 50 runs were scored in 28 balls which included 1 six. India scored 264/2 in 37.3 overs at this stage. Enough time to get the remaining 50 runs. at 300/3 (41.1), Dhoni joined Sachin and took charge of scoring. Tendulkar scored 191 at the end of 45th over. There was plenty of time to get the remaining 9. He got those by scoring 2, 2, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1 & 1 while Dhoni scored 68(35). It took 147 balls with 25 fours and 3 sixes. Barely 3 balls remained when the summit was reached. It was an unusual 200. The others to follow used a different approach.

Gayle scored the first double hundred at the World Cup at Canberra against Zimbabwe exactly 5 years later. He reached his 100 in 105 balls after 35.3 overs despite the 5 sixes. At the end of powerplay and 40th over he raced to 134. 150 was reached in 126 balls including 10 sixes. The next 12 balls were dispatched for 1, 6, 4, 6, 4, 6, 6, 6, 1, 6, 1 & 4 for the fastest 200 in 138 balls. Only 46 overs were bowled at this point. After that Samuels took over the demolition job while Gayle finished with 215 out of the team total of 372.

In less than a month Guptill trumped Gayle when he scored 237* in the fourth quarterfinal against West Indies. His 100 came off 111 balls with 12 fours and no sixes in the 35th over of the match. He reached 145 at the end of 40th. With the help of 8 sixes and 21 fours, his milestone was reached in 152 balls. Unlike Gayle and Tendulkar, he remained aggressive till the last delivery to finish at 237* in 163 balls.

Then there was Sehwag who achieved the feat in Dec 2011 at Indore. He reached 150 in 36th over with 16 fours and 5 sixes in 112 balls. When he reached 200 off 140 balls only 43.3 overs were bowled. He was dismissed by Pollard in the 47th over after scoring 219 in 149 balls. This was an innings where the number of runs scored were inconsequential. He played his innings at an even tempo in a way that only he can.

Rohit Sharma scored his first double hundred by reaching the milestone in the last over. He started cautiously but his second hundred was scored in only 42 balls. This innings was a practice run for his second double hundred to set a new record.

Second time around, Rohit Sharma scored 100 off 100 balls in 32nd over. By 39th over he had reached 150. He ensured facing as many deliveries as possible. Double hundred was scored in 46th over after facing 151 balls. Par for a typical score of 200. He hogged the strike in last 4 overs, adding 8 more fours and 4 sixes to take his personal tally to 264. in other words, he scored at roughly 16 an over after reaching his double hundred. And that is the template for a massive individual first innings score. Bat First. Bat High. Bat through. Face around 150 deliveries out of possible 300. A run a ball hundred by 30th over, consolidation by 35th followed by an assault in the last 15 overs. Do not fret about dot balls at the top of the innings as long as you back yourself to hit sixes – plenty of them – in the slog overs.

Tendulkar’s 200 is a link to a different time. It is not enough to get runs in singles and boundaries. The future 200s rely on the ability to wield an axe and make use of the generous fielding restrictions.

Does that mean 300 is also possible? It may not happen soon but whenever a side batting first scores over 350, I will look forward to the second innings where  top order batsmen gets the chance to reach the first double hundred while chasing.

Tournament format for 28 teams

Champions League is played in two halves – round robin followed by knockouts.

First half is played between September and December. It involves 32 teams in 8 groups of 4. Each team plays 3 home and 3 away games. Top two from each group qualify for knockouts played in second half.

Second half is played between February and May. Finalists get to play 7 more matches over four rounds. First three rounds – round of 16, quarter final and semi final – are played home and away. A single final is played at a predetermined venue.

32 teams are seeded and split in 4 pots. A draw decides the formation of 8 groups. Generally there is no surprise in which two teams qualify from a group. Only 1 or 2 groups with evenly matched teams from pot 2 & 3 make the double round robin phase unpredictable.

The second half is partly influenced by luck. Generally the best team wins. Occasionally an inspired team pulls it off.

Any performance, whether individual or team, is part skill and part luck. In an unseeded knockout tournament like FA cup, evenly matched teams may get drawn against each other in earlier rounds. This system may eliminate strong teams while promoting weaker sides based on luck.

An off day means bye-bye for a contender in a knock out tournament. League format ensures that on occasional lapse does not cost the most consistent winner but can’t offer that dramatic showdown between the best on a widely telecast sold out final.

13 games are played by two finalists. They face a maximum of 7 teams out of remaining 31. These 13 games can be played in an alternate league format which involves 28 teams (not 32).

28 teams will be seeded but placed in 7 pots of 4 instead of 4 pots of 8 teams. A draw decides the 4 groups with 1 team each from the seven pots. Top 4 teams in pot 1 will be placed in Group A, B, C & D initially. Repeat the process for teams ranked 5-8 from second pot. Then 9-12 from third pot etc.

Each team will play 6 matches in first round between September and December. If the draw puts pot 1 team at home against pot 2 team then it will play team from pot 3 away. Another draw determines the home/away fate against 4/5 and then 6/7. Thus each team plays three matches at home and three away.

There will be 4 (groups) * 7 (teams) * 6 (matches) / 2 (teams in a game) = 84 matches. 96 games are played over 12 match days in the current format with half the teams playing on a Tuesday and other half on Wednesday. It means 6 mid-weeks are earmarked for group stage. An additional week 7 will be required in the alternate format. 1 of the 7 teams in each group will rest in every match week while other 6 play in three matches.

Presently winner and runners-up move to next round and 3rd team qualifies for Europa League. Top 4 teams will qualify for second round in the proposed format. No thoughts on Europa League in this post.

A draw determines how the old 4 groups are matched to form new group E and F. Let us assume that A will play B and C plays D. We have 2 groups of 8 teams. Each team must face 7 others or in other words 4 new teams from the other group because each team carries forward points against 3 other qualifying teams.

Round of 16 is played in 4 match weeks of February & March. Half the teams play and the other half takes rest during these weeks. It is followed by Quarter Finals in 2 match weeks of April where everyone plays. This proposal recommends that each team plays in 4 of the 6 match weeks while other 2 are rested. At present 24 matches are played in R16 & QF. 32 matches are required in proposed format.

Group winners and runners-up qualify for third round to form the new group G. Points earned against the fellow group team are carried forward. Each team will play one home and one away game in the first fortnight of May against teams from the other group.

Final will be played at a predetermined venue either in second fortnight of May or early June.

In both these formats, finalists get to play 13 matches and 2 other teams play 12 matches. But the proposed format guarantees 10 matches each for the other 12 qualifying teams. This means an involvement for more clubs to remain in contention until April.

How long since the two sides that regularly reach Round of 16, Arsenal and Real Madrid, faced each other? This format ensures 4 Group G teams will face 12 clubs, 12 Group E/F teams get a game against 10 sides, and remaining 12 have an opportunity to play 6 teams. Playing in Europe should be actually about playing as many sides in Europe as possible. That is what this 28 team format offers.

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The above proposal required fleshing out equivalence for three qualifying and one play off round of Champions League. Besides no thoughts on Europa League. I prefer league format and dislike penalties so above text remained in my drafts folder when I suddenly noticed that 6+4+2+1= 13 = 6+2+2+2+1.

Tendulkar called for a 25-team Cricket World Cup in 2019. I believe that more teams should get a chance to play official ODIs. I also prefer a shorter World Cup involving Associates. Since I have thoughts for a 28-team tournament I took the opportunity to update above draft version.

I have dreamt up 28 teams and placed them in four groups:

India South Africa Australia Sri Lanka
New Zealand Pakistan West Indies England
Bangladesh Zimbabwe Ireland Afghanistan
Scotland Kenya Netherlands UAE
Canada Uganda Nepal Namibia
Bermuda USA Malaysia Singapore
Italy Tanzania Cayman Islands Argentina

Pot 4 team Scotland will host the bottom 3 Canada, Bermuda and Italy in a quadrangular. Pot 3 team Bangladesh will independently host these three teams in another quadrangular at a different time. Pot 3 & Pot 4 teams are likely to host each other in a regular bilateral tour and one of those games will count towards the group match.

Pot 1 teams will host three other teams from their group for a quadrangular and Pot 2 teams will host 2 remaining countries for a triangular tournament two years before the World Cup. Assume India plays Bangladesh, Canada and Italy and New Zealand plays Scotland and Bermuda. Next season, in year before World Cup, India will play Scotland and Bermuda and New Zealand will host other 3. Bottom 5 teams will be exposed to both the top 2 teams AWAY which will further help if these teams are allowed to play in domestic first class seasons too. Top 8 teams play bilaterals so any 1 of those games will constitute as the group qualifying match.

Top 2 teams will face bottom 5 only once but other teams will face each other more often. Top 2 are unlikely to have any appetite for further games but bottom 5 would like to participate in as many official ODIs as possible (but only one of the several encounters will count towards group standing).

I am not in favour of associates getting games opposite various A teams in lieu of an official ODI. Top 8 teams may choose to field a reserve side but every performance from lower ranked teams should count in official statistics.

Tennis tournaments are categorised. Every game is official but fewer points in Challenger events. Winning an upper tier tournament could fetch 250, 500, 1000, 1500 or a maximum 2000 point for a Grand Slam. Relative Value Model converts runs, wickets, catches etc to points which makes comparison across disciplines feasible. Total points for a match are incremented based on the stage of a tournament and number of teams involved. On the other hand matches involving Associates are discounted to level points earned against weaker sides. Lower ranked teams will improve quicker with official ODIs even if stats are discounted. It is better than the stats not getting recognised at all.

Phase 1 of 28 team World Cup will be spread out across seasons to be played in several countries. That means we will not have the same 15 for the entire tournament. FIFA labels its marquee event as World Cup Finals. The matches played a year in advance are World Cup Qualifiers. Practically every nation participates while a player who did not play the qualifiers may get selected for the main event. Here Phase 1 is largely the qualifier stage to narrow 28 teams to 16.

The main event should begin with two matches per group: One between Pot 1 & Pot 2 teams and another between Pot 3 & Pot 4 teams. After these 8 matches we will be able to identify top 4 teams from each group ending the qualifier stage, Let us assume Group A faces Group B during the World Cup and Group C is pitted against Group D. Effectively we are at Super 8 stage played in two new groups. India will face South Africa, Pakistan, Zimbabwe & Kenya during main event while carrying forward the points against New Zealand, Bangladesh and Scotland. In another group Australia will face Sri Lanka, England, Afghanistan & UAE while carrying forward points against West Indies, Ireland and Netherlands. There will be a total of 32 matches in the second stage of main event.

Group winners and runners-up qualify for next round. Points earned against the fellow group team are carried forward. The 4 teams left will play 2 more matches against opposition from the other group. Assuming Pot 1 teams qualify: India will face Australia and Sri Lanka and carry the points against South Africa. South Africa will also play Australia and Sri Lanka. There will be 4 matches at this stage.

Top 2 teams will face a single final. Thus we will have a short world cup with 8+32+4+1=45 matches with at least 16 teams involved in the main event along with some context for 12 more lower ranked teams.