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Comparing Indian Test Player Averages Relative to Other Players in the Same Matches
    Average is seemingly the most used statistic in player comparison between cricketers. Often, it is the starting metric when debating the merits between Player A and Player B.  The debates thereafter typically evolve into comparisons of situational averages, ie: Player A has a superior average in Australia while Player B has a superior average in England, or Player A has a greater 1st innings average while player B has a greater average in the 4th innings. 
    However, a more interesting comparison I was interested in was how do players’ averages compare to other players in the same matches/series. After all, a player achieving a series average of 60+ is a different, arguably greater, feat in a series where the average batsman averages 20 vs one in which they average 40.
     In this article, I compare the averages of the key players from India’s greatest test side( the side from 2016 onwards), relative to the average performances in those matches.  The differences between the averages are presented by the country where the matches took place.
The value calculated will be termed the average-difference.
The formula was simple:
|(Avg all players) – (Player avg)| =  average-difference
*Using the absolute value, the order of the two variables is inconsequential
A higher(more positive) value for average-difference is better.
The average for fast bowlers, spinners, and batsmen are all calculated separately from each other. For example, when the table says Avg All Bowlers for a fast bowler, it only includes the calculated averages for all fast bowlers and no spinners. The reverse is true for spinners.
Fast Bowlers
Under the fast bowlers section, the main fast bowlers India has played over the time period have been included: Shami, Bumrah, Umesh, Ishant, and B. Kumar.  Md Siraj was also included in the list, as he seems to be the preferred new, younger bowler in the side. The non-Indian fast bowlers chosen for the comparison were Rabada, Southee, Jimmy Anderson, and Cummins.
Ishant’s average was further broken down to see his pre and post-2018 performance in comparison to his overall performance. The 2018 season marked Ishant’s first international season after completing a county stint for Sussex. India fans have noted how he came back a much-improved bowler after that county stint, so the breakdown is hopefully informative of any improvement which had occurred.

    ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Bowlers 28.8 23.99 31.41 32.98 27.26 26.14 35.96 Shami Player Avg 40.52 23.22 21.28 32.16 35.6 22.2 17.7   Avg Difference -11.72 0.77 10.13 0.82 -8.34 3.94 18.26  
Shami looks like a match-winner in Asian conditions, with well above average performances in both India and SL. His performances outside of Asia are more of a mixed bag. He seems to have performed at about average levels in SA, AUS, and WI. However his poor performances in ENG and NZ have left a lot to be desired.
            ENG           SA          IND          AUS            NZ            WI   Avg All Bowlers 27.88 21.23 27.45 27.55 21.58 20.14 Bumrah Player Avg 26.27 24.38 15.64 21.25 31.66 9.23   Avg Difference 1.61 -3.15 11.81 6.3 -10.08 10.91  
Bumrah seems similar, but better than Shami. He has excellent performances at home in India. He has average to elite performances outside of Asia, except in NZ. What is surprising is that his matches in NZ were on pitches where the pace bowling average was 21.5, so it should have been relatively easy to bowl there.
            ENG         SA         IND         AUS         NZ         WI          SL   Avg All Bowlers 27.78 28.93 34.92 31.72 35.66 25.05 40.67 Ishant Player Avg 33.35 40 31.64 48.54 28.1 18.6 36.42   Avg Difference -5.57 -11.07 3.28 -16.82 7.56 6.45 4.25  
            ENG         SA         IND         AUS         NZ         WI   Avg All Bowlers 30.56 33.16 38.12 34.43 38.43 27.22 Ishant 1.0 Player Avg 40.84 54.16 34.71 62.15 30.91 20.93 pre-2018 Avg Difference -10.28 -21 3.41 -27.72 7.52 6.29              ENG            SA          IND          AUS          NZ         WI   Avg All Bowlers 25.5 21.56 25.36 23.91 22.53 20.14 Ishant 2.0 Player Avg 26.15 18.75 21.41 23.81 15.2 12.27 2018- Avg Difference -0.65 2.81 3.95 0.1 7.33 7.87  
Overall for Ishant’s career looks like he performed overseas against lower-ranked sides, was about average at home, and terribly underperformed in India’s two final frontiers for test series victories: SA and AUS. He also has a noticeably poor performance in England.
Pre-2018 Ishant’s numbers are more exaggerated versions of his overall career numbers. -21 and -27 in SA and AUS being eyesores for India-fans.
Post-2018 Ishant’s record is good all around. Although there is no single area where he has a +10 average, he has erased his pervious poor record in AUS/SA completely. 
One thing to note on Ishant’s record throughout his career is that he was about/slightly above average at home. The conventional view was that he didn’t perform well at home. He certainly wasn’t some matchwinner there, but he wasn’t a liability either. 
             ENG           SA          IND           AUS           NZ           WI            SL   Avg All Bowlers 27.11 21.43 34.06 30.25 20.76 46.42 30.5 Umesh Player Avg 23.55 50 25.16 44.22 45.5 29.8 39   Avg Difference 3.56 -28.57 8.9 -13.97 -24.74 16.62 -8.5  
           ENG         SA         IND         AUS            WI   Avg All Bowlers 32.61 18.61 34.27 44.85 22.37 Kumar Player Avg 26.63 20.3 26.22 168 9.83   Avg Difference 5.98 -1.69 8.05 -123.15 12.54  
Umesh and BK were the backup bowlers of the side. Therefore, they have relatively fewer innings bowled in certain countries in comparison to the main fast bowlers. Thus, it is more difficult to draw too many conclusions from their statistics. However, if one takes into account the number of innings each player bowled for proper context, it could still be useful.
             ENG            SA          IND          AUS   Avg All Bowlers 27.9 22.27 31.42 32.39 Siraj Player Avg 33 51 16.66 29.53   Avg Difference -5.1 -28.73 14.76 2.86  
As Siraj is a newer bowler, it is also difficult to draw any conclusions for him as well. However his home statistics are in line with other Indian fast bowlers and show he can be a match-winner in India. His overseas statistics show that he needs much improvement before anyone declares him a superstar.
Premier Non-Indian Fast Bowlers
Below are some of the best non-Indian fast bowlers of the era. One can compare the earlier data of Indian fast bowlers with these to make their own conclusions.
             ENG           SA          IND          AUS            SL   Avg All Bowlers 25.82 26.85 38.95 28 36.9 Cummins Player Avg 19.62 20.31 30.25 20.76 60   Avg Difference 6.2 6.54 8.7 7.24 -23.1  
             ENG            SA           IND          AUS          NZ           WI            SL   Avg All Bowlers 31.32 26.24 37.93 28.68 32.16 26.04 25.4 Southee Player Avg 34.36 48 28.7 40 26.99 23.71 15.47   Avg Difference -3.04 -21.76 9.23 -11.32 5.17 2.33 9.93  
             ENG            SA           IND          AUS          NZ          WI           SL   Avg All Bowlers 25.53 24.87 32.3 25.6 30.13 18.34 34.66 Rabada Player Avg 26.06 19.96 44 22.4 29.44 11.45 23.87   Avg Difference -0.53 4.91 -11.7 3.2 0.69 6.89 10.79  
             ENG           SA         IND         AUS          NZ          WI           SL   Avg All Bowlers 30 31.47 34.34 30.96 30.88 34.24 37.44 Jimmy  Player Avg 23.79 34.61 29.32 34.01 32.8 24.8 33.27   Avg Difference 6.21 -3.14 5.02 -3.05 -1.92 9.44 4.17  
India has primarily used two spinners over this time period: Ashwin and Jadeja.
            ENG          SA         IND         AUS          NZ         WI          SL   Avg All Bowlers 26.02 61.56 29.33 44.63 41.33 35.17 32.02 Ashwin Player Avg 28.11 50.5 21.16 42.15 33 23.17 21.57   Avg Difference -2.09 11.06 8.17 2.48 8.33 12 10.45  
Despite the general view that Ashwin has a poor out of Asia record, he performed right around average in England/Australia. He significantly outperformed the overall average in NZ, WI, and SA as well.
            ENG           SA         IND        AUS         NZ         WI          SL   Avg All Bowlers 36.37 33.9 31.19 39.66 95.8 38.92 49.61 Jadeja Player Avg 46.08 25.66 20.66 21.78 60.6 25.55 28.76   Avg Difference -9.71 8.24 10.53 17.88 35.2 13.37 20.85  
Jadeja seems to have absurd statistics. He significantly outperformed other spinners in all countries except for England.  In no single country has Jadeja played in test matches where the spinner average was below 30, yet Jadeja averaged below 30 in 5 separate countries. England seems to be the only consistent blemish on Jadeja’s record.
Taking both Jadeja and Ashwin’s data together, there are some interesting conclusions and questions one can think of:
1) India is not particularly spin-friendly. Taking all the duo’s matches together, spinners average around 30 in test matches in India. That average doesn’t imply India is producing too many dust bowls.
2)Without the over-rate rules, some teams probably wouldn’t play any spinner at all. Most countries, at least when India tours, don’t produce pitches conducive to spin-bowling. Looking again at the Jadeja table, no country has spin-averages below 30.
It would be interesting to see how a change in over-rate rule to 12 overs/hr would change team-compositions outside the subcontinent.
3) Some countries it can be argued to be graveyards for spinners, note: NZ, SA, and AUS. 
Premier Non-Indian Spinners
Once again, here are 3 of the other prolific spinners to compare the Indian spin-duo to.
    ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Bowlers 44.51 38.1 46.44 41.63 51.86 41.12 30.3 Herath Player Avg 45.38 35.31 54.33 33.91 64 72.66 23.65   Avg Difference -0.87 2.79 -7.89 7.72 -12.14 -31.54 6.65  
    ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Bowlers 37.07 38.07 26.41 45.83 31.07 30.38 27.36 Lyon Player Avg 31.62 39.75 30.58 32.27 22.6 23.38 32.02   Avg Difference 5.45 -1.68 -4.17 13.56 8.47 7 -4.66  
    ENG SA IND AUS WI SL   Avg All Bowlers 40.16 32.55 36.72 61.26 47.35 26.1 Swann Player Avg 28.94 31.38 28.96 52.59 24.05 22.18   Avg Difference 11.22 1.17 7.76 8.67 23.3 3.92  
A comparison of the 4 main batsmen India used as openers during this time period.
    ENG SA IND AUS SL WI     Avg All Batsmen 26.25 22.46 31.34 35.73 28.35 27.31   Rahul Player Avg 34.11 25.6 44.25 20.77 33.5 48.14     Difference -7.86 -3.14 -12.91 14.96 -5.15 -20.83       -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1   Avg Difference 7.86 3.14 12.91 -14.96 5.15 20.83      
ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Batsmen 27.95 24.6 32.61 35.75 35.46 26.74 42.2 Vijay Player Avg 30.57 23.16 47.02 44.25 12 11.28 36.2   Difference -2.62 1.44 -14.41 -8.5 23.46 15.46 6     -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1   Avg Difference 2.62 -1.44 14.41 8.5 -23.46 -15.46 -6  
  ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Batsmen 30.27 29.24 25.87 40.43 35.46 32.15 32.97 Dhawan Player Avg 20.28 18 44.37 27.83 53.75 34.5 86.66   Difference 9.99 11.24 -18.5 12.6 -18.29 -2.35 -53.69     -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1   Avg Difference -9.99 -11.24 18.5 -12.6 18.29 2.35 53.69  
  ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Batsmen 27.76 28.2 28.5 35.64 35.46 23.07 26.19 Rohit Player Avg 42.36 15.37 73.33 31.38 40.66 25 33.66   Difference -14.6 12.83 -44.83 4.26 -5.2 -1.93 -7.47  
Comparing the 4 different openers India has focused on, it is hard to pick a single of the 4 openers who is superior to the other 3. Each opener has their own countries where they have a particularly strong or weak record.
The revolving door of India’s opening positions has been a consistent story of this era, and it’s clear why. No one seized the initiative and solidified themselves and made the position their own. 
Statistics for India’s middle order.
    ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Batsmen 28.46 25.1 30.2 31.82 28.95 30.57 33.12 Pujara Player Avg 29.6 28.15 54.39 47.28 20 20.33 90.8   Difference -1.14 -3.05 -24.19 -15.46 8.95 10.24 -57.68     -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1   Avg Difference 1.14 3.05 24.19 15.46 -8.95 -10.24 57.68  
Pujara performed average to above average in all the major countries except for NZ and WI. The latter two countries, his record shows he strongly underperformed.
Pujara had elite performances in IND, SL, and AUS. Interesting to note is that Pujara’s record in SL was as an opener.
    ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Batsmen 27.94 24.83 30.25 33.19 28.95 27.02 30.72 Kohli Player Avg 33.32 51.35 61.06 54.08 36 35.61 43.77   Difference -5.38 -26.52 -30.81 -20.89 -7.05 -8.59 -13.05     -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1   Avg Difference 5.38 26.52 30.81 20.89 7.05 8.59 13.05 The number to note for Kohli is that he averaged above average in all countries. However, a mid-30s average in ENG, NZ, and WI should still be considered a drastic underperformance. ENG and NZ were two of India’s key rivals in this period. 
    ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Batsmen 27.38 26.07 28.66 33.2 28.95 28.81 30.72 Rahane Player Avg 26.03 36.54 35.73 42.09 36.14 102.8 45.22   Difference 1.35 -10.47 -7.07 -8.89 -7.19 -73.99 -14.5     -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1   Avg Difference -1.35 10.47 7.07 8.89 7.19 73.99 14.5  
The most controversial member of the middle order, Rahane average-difference is consistently high. Outside of England, his second lowest was +7 in India.  However, Rahane doesn’t have a dominant performance anywhere except WI. These statistics show him as consistently above average/good but never really great player. Interestingly on the India statistic, Rahane is considered by fans to be a poor performer in India, yet these statistics show that it is overblown.
A comparison of Pant, India’s current and likely long-term wicket-keeper, with the previous two Indian keepers. 
    ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI     Avg All Batsmen 27.93 23.09 24.98 29.91 21.61 24.61   Pant Player Avg 32.7 37.2 63.9 62.4 15 19.33     Difference -4.77 -14.11 -38.92 -32.49 6.61 5.28       -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1     Avg Difference 4.77 14.11 38.92 32.49 -6.61 -5.28    
  ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Batsmen 32.88 29.48 35.14 33.84 35.57 29.3 48.33 Dhoni Player Avg 37.04 28.46 45.76 19.43 54.4 22.08 32   Difference -4.16 1.02 -10.62 14.41 -18.83 7.22 16.33     -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1   Avg Difference 4.16 -1.02 10.62 -14.41 18.83 -7.22 -16.33    
SA IND AUS WI SL       Avg All Batsmen 18.42 30 38 32.05 32.07     Saha Player Avg 4 31.2 15.5 51.25 38.33      
Compared to the previous two wicket-keepers for India. Pant has shown rare match-winning ability in both India and Australia. Of-course Saha was never rated as much of a batsmen, so it is maybe an unfair comparison.
Premier Batsmen
Here are charts of some of best batsmen.
    ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Batsmen 28.61 29.39 27.04 33.5 38.07 24.73 24.96 Smith Player Avg 59.55 41.1 60 66.46 131 141.5 49.75   Difference -30.94 -11.71 -32.96 -32.96 -92.93 -116.77 -24.79     -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1   Avg Difference 30.94 11.71 32.96 32.96 92.93 116.77 24.79     ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Batsmen 36 28.98 28.78 38.15 33.56 39.24 35.05 ABD Player Avg 54.5 47.4 45 44.73 43.6 87.77 42.25   Difference -18.5 -18.42 -16.22 -6.58 -10.04 -48.53 -7.2     -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1   Avg Difference 18.5 18.42 16.22 6.58 10.04 48.53 7.2                       ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Batsmen 28.7 29.88 31.48 30.69 35.79 29.72 28.7 Root Player Avg 53.56 50.21 50.1 35.68 39.08 51.5 65.5   Difference -24.86 -20.33 -18.62 -4.99 -3.29 -21.78 -36.8     -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1   Avg Difference 24.86 20.33 18.62 4.99 3.29 21.78 36.8                       ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Batsmen 28.81 26.18 34.2 30.35 32.62 31.25 27.06 Kane Player Avg 30.53 21.16 33.53 42.84 65.31 51.33 26.71   Difference -1.72 5.02 0.67 -12.49 -32.69 -20.08 0.35     -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1                     Avg Difference 1.72 -5.02 -0.67 12.49 32.69 20.08 -0.35  
At the end phase of Dhoni’s captaincy and progressing into Kohli’s captaincy, India changed its team composition from the conservative, draw-prone: 6 bat + 1wk + 4 bowler combo into the more result oriented: 5 bat + 1wk + 5 bowler combo, with at least 1 of the 5 bowlers being an allrounder.
Infamously, this phase started with Stuart Binny who could at best be described as a popgun bowler. However, during this era India tried a number of players in this role: Ashwin, Jadeja, B. Kumar,  H. Pandya, and Thakur. Thakur doesn’t have much data, so only the data for the previous 4 were included.
    ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL BAN   Avg All Bowlers 26.02 61.56 29.33 44.63 41.33 35.17 32.02 37.71 Ashwin Player Avg 28.11 50.5 21.16 42.15 33 23.17 21.57 19   Avg Difference -2.09 11.06 8.17 2.48 8.33 12 10.45 18.71  
    ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Batsmen 23.34 24.75 30.11 33.29 23.3 32.05 30.72 Ashwin Player Avg 23.72 17.9 28.96 24 2 58.75 25.11   Difference -0.38 6.85 1.15 9.29 21.3 -26.7 5.61     -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1   Avg Difference 0.38 -6.85 -1.15 -9.29 -21.3 26.7 -5.61  
Looking at Ashwin’s bowling and batting statistics, it’s apparent that aside from being a strong bowler, Ashwin showed good ability to at least contribute with the bat. However there were very few places where he was the equivalent of an extra batsmen.
    ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Bowlers 36.37 33.9 31.19 39.66 95.8 38.92 49.61 Jadeja Player Avg 46.08 25.66 20.66 21.78 60.6 25.55 28.76   Avg Difference -9.71 8.24 10.53 17.88 35.2 13.37 20.85  
    ENG SA IND AUS NZ WI SL   Avg All Batsmen 29.91 35.8 30.82 32.53 30.58 24 42.44 Jadeja Player Avg 29.7 4 41.62 43.75 35.66 24.25 85   Difference 0.21 31.8 -10.8 -11.22 -5.08 -0.25 -42.56     -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1   Avg Difference -0.21 -31.8 10.8 11.22 5.08 0.25 42.56  
The quality of Jadeja’s bowling performance was elucidated earlier. The one black-spot on his batting record is his SA performance, but, putting it in context( he batted in 1 match/2 innings only), it is not as bad as it seems. His batting statistics show a consistent ability to provide India with an extra batsman, in many cases providing similar performances to India’s #5 Rahane with less experienced batting partners.
    ENG SA IND AUS WI   Avg All Batsmen 30.63 18.13 30.64 50.06 23.07 BK Player Avg 27.44 33.66 14 50 0   Difference 3.19 -15.53 16.64 0.06 23.07     -1 -1 -1 -1 -1   Avg Difference -3.19 15.53 -16.64 -0.06 -23.07  
    ENG SA IND AUS WI   Avg All Bowlers 32.61 18.61 34.27 44.85 22.37 Kumar Player Avg 26.63 20.3 26.22 168 9.83   Avg Difference 5.98 -1.69 8.05 -123.15 12.54  
As mentioned earlier, B Kumar was mostly a backup, so he didn’t play too many matches. His bowling figures show that he was a strong contributor with the ball(outside of Australia). His batting record would appear be surprisingly strong for people who haven’t watched India matches over a long period of time.
It could be one of the bigger what-ifs in recent Indian cricket history. If BK had gotten more chances overseas in SA/ENG/NZ in the place of a specialist fast bowler with relatively poor bowling records in those countries (Shami or Ishant), would India have been better off, or are his good batting averages a fluke of a low number of innings?
    ENG SA IND SL   Avg All Batsmen 24.01 20.56 22.16 36.73 Pandya Player Avg 23.42 19.83 71 59.33   Difference 0.59 0.73 -48.84 -22.6     -1 -1 -1 -1   Avg Difference -0.59 -0.73 48.84 22.6  
    ENG SA IND SL     Avg All Bowlers 24 20.49 21.53 35.96   Pandya Player Avg 24.7 54         DNB 23.75     Avg Difference -0.7 -33.51          NV 12.21    
Pandya barely had much more data than Thakur, so there isn’t much to take away from his performances. What little one can conclude from his data is that he would be better off as a batting allrounder rather than a bowling one. Regardless, his injury-prone career thus far suggest that he may never establish himself in the longest format.

Yesterday the news flashed that Hardik Pandya, fondly referred to as Sir Don Pandya (SDP), is likely to be appointed as the captain of Ahmedabad/Amdavad franchise. Ever since Amdavad was announced as one of the two new franchises, I was hoping that Hardik Pandya would be its captain. One of the key reasons for me was that I observed leadership potential in him when on the cricket field. A few examples include: 
Friendly nature: Whether with Team India or Mumbai Indians, I have observed Hardik to be extremely friendly with his team mates, forging strong relationships with almost everyone.  Communications: An extension of his friendly nature, he is someone who can be seen communicating positively. On many occasions, you would find Hardik running up to the bowlers to provide inputs or to the captain to share his ideas on possibly field settings.  Confidence and Positivity: He is a rare uncalculating cricketer who keeps cricket simple. If a ball is to be hit, he backs himself to hit it. At every point, he is seeking to win the game. No complexities.  Encourages teammates: After he was declared Man of the Series of the T20 bilaterals in Australia, he offered to give the award to the newcomer Natarajan. In fact, Hardik hit 2 90s in the ODI series as well, scoring at an average of over 100 (much above other Indian batsmen).  Puts team first over personal stats: Can we imagine Hardik Pandya taking 10 singles to reach a 100? Can we imagine Hardik Pandya running out a batsman who is on 80+ in a final versus Pakistan (Hardik was the batsman runout on 80 odd in the 2017 CT final)? It is not surprising that any team that Hardik Pandya plays for, he receives good support from everyone around.   
Apart from the above, my key interest is to see if Hardik Pandya can develop as a rare great Indian captain. I have observed various Indian captains since late 80s and apart from maybe Ganguly, who was passionate and visionary, and MS Dhoni, who was charming and street smart, not many will lead my AT LOI 11s. As a kid, I observed Kapil Dev's mechanical captaincy where you could predict his every move. While Kapil may have been a great motivator, you saw Imran Khan maybe open the batting with a Javed Miandad or send a Wasim Akram up the order, and so on. 
The next question for me is that can Hardik Pandya combine the passion and vision of Ganguly, and the charm and street smartness of MSD? Only time will answer the question. However, if the answer is affirmative, Hardik Pandya may get the opportunity to be India's next captain in about 24 or so months as he would have virtually no major competition as a) Pant is observed to make tactical blunders, b) KL Rahul is seen as a nervous and stats focused customer, c) Shreyas Iyer was known to be remote controlled by Ponting, and so on. The appointment of Hardik Pandya as captain of Amdavad IPL Team can have major positive implications for Indian cricket if Hardik Pandya is able to develop and showcase his leadership skills. 
Talking about the Amdavad IPL team, what should it be called? Below are a few suggestions in alphabetical order: 
Bulls: Fits in with the Gujarat's bullish panache in the stock market. The acronym would be AB.  Lions: Connects well with the region as Gujrat has Lions in Gir. The acronym would be AL.  Titans: A cool name especially considering that its home venue is also the biggest cricket stadium in the world. The acronym would be AT. Wolves: Would point towards fighting and team spirit qualities as displayed by a wolf pack. The acronym would be AW.   
Wishing all the best to Amdavad IPL team!

Firstly, I had serious withdrawal symptoms today. Over the past 2 weeks - waking up early - I had a small routine down pat. Check India's schedule for the day at the Olympics; look up details of the sportsperson performing; read up a little on the sport if I didn't know it; and; watch the action play out. It was tough not having that to wake up to any Olympics action. Luckily, it was a Sunday and we had folks over - so rode the day out. Would have been awesome to watch our cricket team (who I hadn't followed for the past few months) thrash the Englishmen - but true to our luck in sporting events lately, the English were saved by their weather and we ended up with nothing to show despite some good performances from Jadeja, Rahul and Bumrah.
Going into this Olympics, I must state that I was hopeful of this being our breakthrough games. Our shooting contingent was incredibly strong and used to winning consistently. Our archery team (although always inconsistent) seemed to be capable of throwing up at least 1 medal and I felt we had great chances in winning multiple medals in Boxing and Wrestling as well. Was vaguely optimistic about our chances in Men's hockey, Neeraj in Javelin and Sai Praneeth in Badminton as he seemed to have an easy draw. Didn't have much expectations from the Mens' doubles team and Sindhu in Badminton, our tennis team in Tennis, and the other Athletics events and niche sports. I felt that we should end up with around 15 medals overall with the lion's share coming from shooting - esp given the form the team showed in the 2 world cup events this year. At the worst I figured we should end up with a tally similar to London with perhaps a few golds.
Day 0
The archery team disappointed in the ranking rounds as usual. Deepika wasn't too bad with 9th place - but the men's team was terrible. Que sera sera I figured - especially as we were bound to meet the Koreans in the Qtr finals. As usual they were clutch and occupied the top 3 spots. Medal expectations from Archery became 0.
Day 1
Was hoping for 2 medals from the shooting team on the day. Day started depressingly with the shooting team with two top ranked shooters from India not making the finals in the rifle event. However, Saurabh Choudary was showing his pre-Olympics form and nailed his place in the final with a super qualification performance. One medal didn't seem so bad. Mixed Archery team raised expectations by beating Chinese Taipei and promptly dashed them by losing in the next round pathetically. 
Didn't think much about about Mirabhai Chanu's chances in weightlifting esp given that she had been injured a year or so back. Was pleasantly shocked when she did so well! What a start we had to the Olympics! Medal expectations back up to 2 for the day! What a morale booster! Pumped to see India near the top of the medals table after just 2 medal events for the day! 
Was hoping Manika Batra and Achanta re-discovered their amazing teamwork seen in the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in TT - but after a lively start got thrashed by the Taipei team. Oh well - didn't have much expectations from them. Mens' double team raised expectations with a superb comeback win against the higher ranked Taipei team! That last game was awesome - winning it 27-25 after being down a couple of match points. Sai Praneeth losing to some unknown Israeli was a shocker too. More bad news to come with Saurabh crashing out at 7 in the shooting final was a major downer - but we still got a medal from unexpected quarters and the Badminton team looked good to qualify as well! Hockey team won 3-2 vs New Zealand. We had 2 TT wins in women's singles as well along with a win in Tennis.
Despite Vikas Krishan crashing out in Boxing in the first round and the women's team's loss to Netherlands 5-1, I had never seen so much action from the Indian team at an Olympics on one day - let alone so many winning starts along with a medal!
Day 2
I thought 2 medals were a lock in today from Shooting. I dreamed of India floating at the top of the medals tally until the Swimming events and Athletics events started.
Terrible start to the day with 3 highly ranked shooting teams again failing to qualify for the finals. Esp disappointed with Manu's last shot 8 which prevented her from qualifying for the finals. Manika Batra, Sindhu and Mary Kom made it better with a couple of wins in TT, Badminton and Boxing. Manish Kaushik bowing out in round 1 in Boxing again was a big blow. He was IMO a genuine contender for at least a bronze. Aus thrashing India 7-1 made my cynical about our hopes in hockey. Terrible second day. More typical of our outings at the Olympics before. 
Day 3
Again terrible day following on from Day 2. Men's archery team predictably went through their first round to get roundly thrashed by Korea in the pre-quarters. Cursed our luck for meeting the Koreans so early and lamented that our guys coudn't have shot better on day 0. 
Shooting team  continued to shock with their pathetic performances. Started to think that day 1 was never going to be repeated again. Still had hopes from the shooting team - esp from the Mixed pistol and rifle events - but felt a sense of gloom. Women's hockey team continue to depress with a shambolic performance vs Germany. Both women TT players bowed out although Achanta went through round 1 in TT. Only bright spot of the day.
Day 4
Day started amazingly well as Manu and Saurabh topped the first qualification round. Sure shot medal I thought. Back to looking at the medals table with glee hoping to see the counter under the Gold column increase after 12 long years. Manu promptly fluffed the next round to eliminate us from the final. Agony compounded by the #1 Mixed Rifle team failing to qualify for the finals as well. Was hoping to see 2 medals today. Dashed immediately. Achanta raised hopes by winning one game vs TT legend Ma Long .. but was shown his place promptly after. Mens hockey team win over Spain the only bright spot for the day. No more expectations of medals from the Shooting team. Despaired at the thought of another failed Olympics like 2016. 
Day 5
Another depressing day with Sai Praneeth following up a pathetic loss to an Israeli to another unheard of Dutchman. Men's archery team shown the exit by another Israeli. Deepika Kumari raised hopes with 2 wins to progress to the pre-quarters - but was cynical of her chances given her history. Sindhu's win in Badminton to progress to the next round was the only good thing along with Pooja Rani winning her first bout. 
Day 6
Shooting continued to fail - but the expectations were 0 now - so didn't hurt as much. Atanu Das' amazing win over a Korean in the round of 16 was an incredible high. Raised expectations of a medal in Archery - esp given that he had beaten the unbeatable Koreans! India beating Argentina in Men's hockey made the day much better along with Sindhu's win in Badminton. Raised hopes of more medals from Archery and Badminton. Day ended with a downer with Kom getting voted out in Boxing in a close game. Disappointed that our legend was out - but she looked past it. Atanu and the Men's hockey team raised optimism again. 
Day 7
Deepika Kumari had a superb finish against a highly ranked Russian. Raised hopes that she would beat the Korean given how well she held her nerve in the shoot-off to score a 10. Promptly dashed them with her most pathetic performance against a Korean who looked nervous as well. Was pleased to see the Indian women beat the Irish in hockey. Hoped they could scrape through to the quarters by beating South Africa - everyones whipping girls next. 
Lovlina guaranteeing a medal in Boxing by reaching the semis was the highlight for the day along with Sindhu trashing Akane Yamaguchi in the Quarterfinals. Medal confirmed we thought making up for the disappointment from Sai Praneeth. Men's team rounded off the day well by guaranteeing a #2 place with a facile win over Japan. Nice revenge for the Asian Games. 
Week 1 was eventful. After the incredible high of the first day, the next few days had been very very tough. Day 4 was the most disappointing so far due to our failure in the mixed shooting events. We should have had at least 5 medals at the end of week 1 - but only had 1 Silver so far.
Day 8
Atanu was outperformed by the Japanese - so didn't feel too bad in Archery. Still was disappointed esp after he had that incredible round vs the Korean. Archery was 0 as usual. Another body blow to our medal hopes to see Amit Phangal getting thrashed in boxing by an unseeded Colombian. Kamalpreet Kaur qualifying for the final was a pleasant surprise. Hoped she had a medal chance esp since she had topped the qualifying round. Sindhu losing to Tai Tzu was very sad. She didn't look like she had a chance. Her losing tamely took away any medal expectations. 
Day 9
Two bright spots in Sindhu winning bronze and the men's team qualifying for the semis after 40+ years. Hoping for a gold/silver from the now. Satish Kumar - our only male boxer left - lost to the Uzbek champ. Amazing performance given his injury - but seeing Men's boxing failing again was sad. Was hoping we could do as well as London now. After thinking that would be our worst performance at the beginning - even reaching our London performance appeared like a long shot. Still - 1 more medal in the bank with more to come from Lovlina and the men's hockey team.
Day 10
Women's team beating Australia to qualify for the semis was an incredible high. Beat out anything else happening in the day. Even Kamalpreet Kaur not medalling in Discus was fine. Fouaad Mirza's performance was noteworthy in Equestrian as well. Briefly raised medal hopes - but not good enough to compete with the others. Hopefully will do better soon. Shooters went out with a whimper with another pathetic performance failing to qualify for the finals. 
Day 10
Really bad day. Indian men lost a lead to go down to the Belgians in Hockey. Furious with the PC rules in hockey. Don't think it will become a popular sport until this is changed. Makes the game too mechanical. Not enough reward for artistry in the game.
Our first wrestler lost her opening round as well and our Asian games' shot put champ failed to qualify for the final.
Day 11
Aditi Ashok tied for 2nd place in women's golf was a nice surprised. She had started the same way in Rio also - so no real expectations from her - but was nice to see an Indian near the top of an event after all the disappointing days previously. Lovlina won the bronze. By now - no expectations. -so was nice to see another medal in the bank. 
Ravi Kumar and Deepak Punia though came out of nowhere to raise expectations sky high. Thought we would have at least 2 silvers/golds till Ravi Kumar was thrashed by an American. Still had hopes for a bronze given how well he had wrestled till then. Neeraj Chopra qualifying for the final in just 1 throw was awesome! He looked like a winner - although no expectations of anything more than a bronze from him. 
Day 12
Aditi still was at #2 with another good day's performance in Golf. India won bronze. Everyone went gaga but I was disappointed. Still was nice to see another medal - albeit bronze. Good day for Indian hockey. Good comeback to win against the Germans. Overall disappointing day with Vinesh Phogat bowing out in the pre-quarters. Ravi Kumar missing out on Bronze and Deepak Punia outperformed for Silver was sad. 
Still 2 medals for a day was awesome after so many poor days for India. Hopeful we could match the London tally now - esp with Bajrang to come
Day 13
Sad to see the Indian women miss out on the bronze. Lion hearted performance in the second half - but their poor show in the first half caused them to miss out. Hopeful for the future in the women's game. Bajrang missing out on the final another blow. The 20km women's final in walking was interesting. Was heartening to see Priyanka's performance to keep up with the leaders till the end. Aditi was still in #2 spot and looked certain for a silver at least. 
Day 14
Best day of the competition after day 1. Although it was heartbreaking to see Aditi miss out on a medal after three superb days - the competition for a medal went right down to the last stroke of the last hole.
Bajrang winning an unexpected bronze given his fitness and Neeraj's heroics to win our first gold in our very last event was just outstanding. Made up for all the disappointing days so far. 
The first day was such a rush! The days following were mostly terrible - but it was amazing to think about the fact that we had medal hopes almost each and every single day. I had never followed an Olympics for India prior to this anything like this one. If we progress this way in the coming years - we should have good times ahead in Paris. It was nice to see the fencing lady have her 15 minutes of fame along with Aditi in Golf. 
The upcoming Birmingham Commonwealth games should be good with the Shooting and Archery events being held in India in Jan 22. Going into the Commonwealth games - we should have plenty of Golds and Silvers (I hope) although I don't expect our tally to increase much once the games actually begin. We will probably be ranked lower in the medals tally than the previous games given that there are way more Swimming and Cycling events, fewer shooting events and new sports like Basketball 3x3 and more lawn bowls events.
The Asian Games should be a much better indicator of our progress for Paris. 
Wrestling and Badminton are the only sports that look strong going forward for medal contenders. Hockey needs to consolidate on the highs from this games. Archery needs a revamp as does Shooting. Still hopeful that our Shooters will bounce back given that they have been so good at world events over the past few years. Shooting is also more an individual sport than a competitive sport. The conditions don't change as drastically as it is indoors and the distances and conditions don't change from event to event. If our shooters are more mentally prepared they will rock it in the next Olympics.
Our male boxers need a lot of work mentally. Women boxers are looking good. Should look for multiple medals from here.
Our Athletics chances of medalling can look awesome in field events if we can get Kaur to progress along with Neeraj and Tejinder Singh Toor in shot put. Our track chances look nil given that we are nowhere compared to the folks from North America, Europe and Africa. I feel Neeraj's success should help more ppl get into these events going forward. Maybe waking can be events where we can get potential medallists. Sandeep Singh and Priyanka in the women's events showed they could keep up with the best. Just a matter of building on their stamina for a good finish.
I feel in Paris we should reach the double digit medal mark comfortably with multiple golds taking us to the 20-30 range in the medals table. 


Olympics Wrestling

By Gollum, in Articles,

All eyes will be on wrestling the next few days, unlike archery/shooting/boxing/hockey/weightlifting/javelin, many people don't know much about wrestling including how points are scored, how winners are declared etc. Maybe this will make it easier to follow.
There are 2 kinds of wrestling events in Olympics, Greco-Roman and Freestyle. 
Greco-Roman (GR)=Upper Body, nothing doing below the waist
Freestyle=Whole body comes into picture
Men have both these disciplines, further divided into weight categories. Women have only Freestyle variant. 
Indians traditionally don't do well in GR, historically USSR/Russia, Eastern European countries have dominated this sport. Other wrestling powerhouses too have won medals but when you think GR you think Russian (or Soviet) Bear.
Freestyle is India's strength, all our Olympic medals in wrestling have come from this variant. From KD Jadhav in Helsinki to Sakshi in Rio. All our wrestlers in Rio are from Freestyle portion, none of our GR wrestlers qualified. Many countries come into the picture in Freestyle: Russia, USA, Japan, Iran, Turkey, India, China, Canada, Cuba, Mongolia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Central Asian 'stans', Eastern Europe, Scandinavian countries etc. 
There are other variants like Folkstyle (USA, many matches/content on YouTube, somewhat similar to Freestyle in terms of skills required), Kushti (India), Sumo (Japan), Sambo (Russia, limited striking allowed), Bokh (Mongolia) etc. None of them in Olympics but you can watch Folkstyle videos to get more insights on techniques used in Freestyle. 
From Olympics pov only GR and Freestyle are important. Both involve takedowns, pins, tech falls, turns, escapes, reversal etc. but vastly different (both disciplines highly specialized), even points scoring is different.
Below (two) videos give brief summary, how points are awarded, how to pin, basic rules etc.....just 5 minutes long each. Watch the Freestyle video, GR is optional since most of us will skip matches not involving India. Still to appreciate the sport you can watch both. Some minor differences in actual Olympics (rules keep changing including how many pts to award, nothing major) but they give nice overview. Maybe watch a couple of live matches after this to get a better understanding, that way you can enjoy matches of Indian wrestlers (in action the next few days), 2-3 medal prospects as well. We have 2 bronze medals in wrestling, repechage rule explained HERE
They wear a funny kind of clothing (both men and women), called singlet, skin-tight ones that too. This is done because loose clothing is extremely dangerous in the sport, if a wrestler's hand gets stuck in some loose T-shirt or shorts good chance of breaking fingers or worse, dismemberment of fingers....because of the forces involved. Even when wrestlers train in shorts they ensure that pockets are cut out, for precisely the same reason, still risks will be there. In ancient Greece they used to wrestle naked, in kushti almost completely naked. Singlet is the only viable alternative. 

Brutal sport this, broken bones (sometimes jutting out of the skin!!!!), ACL tears, head/neck/spinal injuries are par for course....also physically the toughest sport since unlike boxing, whole body is involved in the tussle against a similarly built athlete, and always in contact. Oldest sport known to mankind as well, finds mention in all civilizations and cultures, at least wrestling in some form. 

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