Looking ahead to the Champions Trophy semi finals

Here we shall see that predicting on the basis of long-term form can be misleading.

This is being written after Pakistan beat England on Jun 14.

Let us look at all ODIs between England and Pakistan in 5 years up to Jun 13, 2017:

England led 7-2 in this period

In England, England led 4-1 (all in the summer of 2016). And the only match Pakistan won was at Cardiff.

No matches in Pakistan. On neutral grounds (UAE), England led 3-1.

So, on paper, it looked like Pakistan had no chance. But the result was something else.

Now let us do the same analysis for India and Bangladesh in the 5 years up to Jun 14, 2017

India led 5-2 with 1 no-result.

In India there were no matches.

In Bangladesh, India led 4-2 with 1 no-result

In neutral grounds (in Australia in the 2015 WC), India won 1-0

But it should be noted that the last series between India and Bangladesh was in Bangladesh in 2015, when Bangladesh won 2-1. Forgotten that already? See the series summary (and scorecards if you want):

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/series/870723.html

The key here was the “shock value” of  Mustafizur Rehman who made his debut here, with 5,6 and 2 wickets in the 3 matches. He was deservedly Man of the Series.

But then, he has not done too well in this tournament. See the details of his recent matches here: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/330902.html

So we see that India does have a strong record over Bangladesh in the last 5 years. Just like England had over Pakistan. India should not be overconfident (remember the World Cup of 2007?)

 

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The jinx in India-Pakistan matches

Note: This was written before the start of the 2017 Champions Trophy.

It is often said that India dominates Pakistan in ICC tournaments. Hence the “Mauka Mauka” ads which aired at the beginning of the 2015 World Cup.

Let us see take a closer look at the history of these encounters. First, the World Cup:

I v P World Cup

India and Pakistan never met in the World Cups of 1975, 1979, 1983 and 1987. They were somehow always drawn in different groups so they could have met only in the semi-finals or finals. It was not until 1992 that they met in the World Cup. In that tournament all teams played each other in the knockout stage.

They met in the quarter-finals in 1996, Super Six in 1999, and a pool match in 2003. India won all these matches so the feeling of a jinx over Pakistan kept growing.

In 2007, both India and Pakistan were jinxed and failed to proceed beyond the pool stage, being displaced by Bangladesh and Ireland respectively.

In 2011, India won in the semi-final and repeated this in a pool match in 2015. So India have won all 6 encounters.

If you want to see the scorecards, open this link and click on the blue square on the extreme right.

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=2;filter=advanced;opposition=7;orderby=start;team=6;template=results;trophy=12;type=team;view=results

Now we go to the T20 World Championship. We will come back to the Champions Trophy at the end.

I v P T20

The teams met twice in the inaugural championship in 2007. Though the match in the pool stage was a tie, India got the winner’s points as they won in the bowl-out which was then the method used to determine the winner of a tied match.

Then India won against Pakistan in the final. The teams did not meet in 2009 and 2010. India won the next three encounters in 2012, 2014 and 2016. All of these were in the group stages and not the semi-final or final. Thus India leads 5-0 (including the tie) in the World T20 Championship.

You can see the scorecards from this link:

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=3;filter=advanced;opposition=7;orderby=start;team=6;template=results;trophy=89;type=team;view=results

For details of the bowl-out in the first match in 2007, see the commentary section rather than the scorecard.

But the story in the Champions Trophy is somewhat different:

I v P Chamions

India and Pakistan did not meet in 1998, 2000 or 2002 (when India shared the trophy with Sri Lanka). Pakistan won the first encounter in 2004 in the group stage. They did not meet in 2006. Pakistan won in 2009, also in the group stage. India finally won in 2013, in a group match on their way to the trophy.

So the jinx on Pakistan in ICC tournaments does not apply to Pakistan in the Champions Trophy, where they lead India 2-1. Let us see what happens when they meet on June 4. India currently has a higher ranking than Pakistan, but that has no bearing in high-tension encounters like these.

See the scorecards here:

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=2;filter=advanced;opposition=7;orderby=start;team=6;template=results;trophy=44;type=team;view=results

 

 

Rail Quiz no 3

Today we move to the railways of Pakistan.

Mardan-2

This station serves a small city in Khyber-Pakhtunwa (formerly NWFP). Today the city may be famous for a leading cricketer who was born there:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england-v-pakistan-2016/content/current/player/43652.html

Also see this article: http://www.radiotnn.com/mardan-railway-stations-reopening-not-possible-in-near-future/

The station has not seen any train traffic since 2007. But once it held an unusual record for the railways of South Asia. What was this record?

If you can’t think of the answer right away, read the above article again and also check its location on Google Maps etc. (No, this has nothing to do with Abbottabad and its most famous resident).

Souroshankha Maji got it right-Mardan was, for many years, the northern-most junction in South Asia. This will be apparent from the map of the “Pakistan Western Railway” which probably dates from the mid-60s, when the railway network was virtually at full strength. The closure of lines started some years ago, starting with the minor branch lines in Sind and the NG lines close to the Afghan borders.

PWR in 1969

(From “Couplings to the Khyber”, PSA Berridge, 1969)

(Note: the metre gauge lines are not shown distinctly in this map, though the narrow gauge lines are. At that time the MG lines ran from Hyderabad (or maybe Mirpur Khas) to Khokhropar, the Jamrao-Pithoro loop and Mirpur Khas to Nawabshah.)

As you can see, Durgai was then the northernmost station in South Asia. It did exist prior to partition, so it was the northernmost station in British India as well. The Mardan-Charsadda branch was built in the 1950s, making Mardan the northern-most junction in South Asia.

Since around 2000 the Nowshera-Durgai and Mardan-Charsadda branches have been closed-even though Mardan is the second largest town in Khyber-Pakhtunwa, ahead of better-known places such as Abbottabad. A study of the current Pakistan timetable shows that the branch from Attock City Jn to Basal Jn is still open, thus making Attock City Jn (formerly Campbellpur Jn) the northern-most junction in South Asia. Next would be Taxila Cantt Jn (formerly Taxila Jn) which still has a branch to Havelian.

Nowshera (formerly a junction) would appear to be the northern-most station in Pakistan today, considering that the Peshawar-Landi Kotal line has been closed for several years.

In the mean time Sopore (followed by the larger Baramulla) have become the northern-most stations in South Asia. However, the Kashmir valley line is not yet linked to the rest of the Indian Railways network, whose northernmost point remains at Katra, with the slightly larger town of Udhampur a little further south.

Udhampur was the terminus for several years, but the  station has rather primitive facilities compared to Katra’s showpiece station.

And this is the southern end of the Kashmir valley railway, close to the 11 km long Pir Panjal tunnel.

Banihal

 

 

Hyderabad and Gujrat are not only in India

Have a look at these pictures and decide whether they are in India or somewhere else:

Note the Sindhi signboard in the right picture, which should help you to locate it. The first one is in Pakistan’s Punjab.

The “other” Hyderabad can be reached from India by the Thar Express, which you board at Zero Point after leaving India from Munabao.

A blast from the past-Francis Gary Powers

The name of Francis Gary Powers may not mean much to the present generation. But in early 1960 he was one of the most well-known (if not infamous) people in the world.

I remembered him while reading this report of the latest atrocity in Pakistan:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34287385

This mentions an attack on the Bedber air force base on the outskirts of Peshawar. While this is not the main airport in Peshawar, it was a centre of CIA surveillance on the USSR in the 50s and 60s.

That was at a time when satellite surveillance was in its infancy, so the next best tool available was the U-2 aircraft which was supposed to fly so high that no Soviet weapon could hit it. Francis Gary Powers was among the American pilots who made regular flights from Peshawar into the Soviet Union. He had started off in the USAF and later became a specialist U-2 spy pilot for the CIA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1960_U-2_incident

Also see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Gary_Powers

As you can see from the map, it was an ambitious mission stretching all the way from the erstwhile Tadjik Soviet Socialist Republic to Murmansk on the Arctic ocean before it was to land at Bodo in Norway.

He took off from Peshawar on May 1, 1960 while his flight was monitored at the CIA facility at Bedber. His luck ran out at a height of 65,000 feet near Sverdlovsk when a salvo of missiles brought down his plane (besides a Soviet fighter whose pilot was killed). He baled out and was promptly captured. Perhaps he forgot to swallow his suicide pill.

As the US took some time to figure out what exactly happened, the wily Soviet Premier Khruschev had a nice time pulling President Eisenhower’s leg. However Powers did not have to spend much time in prison and was released in February 1962 in a spy exchange.

Ultimately he returned to civilian life and died piloting a helicopter in 1977 while working for a TV news channel in the Los Angeles area.

The rail tunnel in Baluchistan which appeared on a currency note

The Khojak tunnel on the way from Quetta to Chaman on the Afghan border was one of the earlier marvels of railway engineering in British India. Opened in 1892, it was 12,870 feet long (2.44 miles/3.92 km) and was the longest rail tunnel in South Asia until the Konkan Railway came along over a century later.

The location of most lines in Baluchistan can be seen here: (Kandahar is a little beyond the border at Chaman).

Bolan

The story of the alternative routes to Quetta is a long and complicated one and will have to wait till another day. Suffice to say that that the Bolan route involved gradients of 1:25 for several miles which was far more severe than any BG or MG main line anywhere else in undivided India. And double tracks were also used because of the slow speeds although there was little passenger traffic north of Quetta.

You may note a station called Hindubagh on the NG line to Fort Sandeman. As you may guess, it became Muslimbagh while the terminus became Zhob before the line closed around 1990.

You can also see the long lonely line to Zahidan in Iran starting off from Spezand. With luck, it has been running passenger trains twice a month for the last few years.

The southern end of the Khojak tunnel started near Shelabagh station. Note the double line though the tunnel.

Khojak

And this scene appeared on earlier Pakistani currency notes:

Pak note Khojak

(This note was in circulation from 1976 to 2005.)

A longer article about this tunnel can be seen here:

http://pakistaniat.com/2006/12/18/railways-khojak-tunnel/

This site (which became inactive in 2011) contains a number of other articles about Pakistan’s railways by Owais Mughal.

More records by Imran Khan (Jr)

Imran Khan (junior), a Pathan like his better-known namesake, already has a couple of interesting Test records in his name.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/316363.html

One, he joins the select group of only 5 players with 5 or more Tests whose team won every Test he played in. Here are the other 4.

Allwin-1

Of these, GJ Bailey is a current player but is not very likely to play for Australia again. If one really looks into it, Baptiste and the others were not particularly distinguished players but happened to be in the right place at the right time. Perhaps Imran has contributed more to his side’s wins than the others. For instance, he has 14 wickets including a fiver in his 5 Tests. Baptiste has one fifty and 16 wickets (best a three-for) in 10 Tests. The other three are specialist batsmen with no fifties.

And Imran is now the only one to play 5 or more Tests without scoring a run:

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;filter=advanced;orderby=runs;orderbyad=reverse;qualmin1=5;qualval1=matches;size=10;template=results;type=batting

During his 5th Test he finally got a chance to face a ball in what was only his 2nd innings. He faced 8 balls in 24 minutes and was dismissed for zero. The only other time he batted was on his debut, when he spent one minute at the crease and did not face a ball.