The current Indian Test team is a bit fortunate to tour Australia within two years of their previous tour. Earlier, the tours were separated by a few years and that would make things difficult for players, especially spinners. By the time, they would adjust to the conditions and pitches, the tour would be over.
Past generations of spinners suffered from this. But when either Kuldeep Yadav or R Ashwin, or both, take the field on December 17 for the first Test in Adelaide, they will have an advantage and confidence to draw from their recent successes.
Both had performed well in the last Tests they played in Australia during India’s tour of 2018-19. While Yadav picked five wickets in the first innings at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in January 2019, Ashwin got six across two innings in Adelaide a month before that. Ashwin didn’t play the next three Tests due to injury.
But this time with him being fit, Ashwin will be in competition for a spot with Yadav who, being a wrist spinner, could be the preferred choice on Australian wickets that have been harsh for spinners from the sub-continent.
Harbhajan Singh, the former India off-spinner who toured Australia in 2003-04 and 2007-08 and played 103 Tests, and had great success against Ricky Ponting, explains why Australia was a tough place to bowl.
“It was difficult to bowl in Australia because by the time you would adjust to the wickets, the tour would be coming to an end. You would tour every four-five years. Their spinners would get more success because they knew the conditions better and well since it was their home,” Harbhajan told IANS, adding that adjusting to the lengths is the key.
Both finger spinner Ashwin and wrist spinner Yadav had reaped rich hauls last time also because the Aussies, missing David Warner and Steve Smith in that series as they were serving a ban, had packed their side with left-handers. Four of Ashwin’s six victims and three of Yadav’s five were left-handers. They found it hard to adjust to deliveries going away.
However, neither Marcus Harris nor Usman Khawaja and nor Shaun Marsh find a place in the squad for current series. There are just Travis Head and Mathew Wade apart from the returning David Warner and only one of Head and Wade will get a look-in since the top-order, dominated by right-handers, is largely settled.
It could make things difficult. Prior to that Adelaide Test, Ashwin had taken 21 wickets in six Tests at an average of 54.71 in Australia. The six wickets in Adelaide helped him improve an average to over 48.
But against a settled Australian line-up, there is however still a way out — rely on bounce and not on side-spin.
Harbhajan has an advice: “The spinners need to adjust to the lengths very quickly. Also, they shouldn’t rely on sidespin, because you won’t get it. If it is happening, it is an advantage, but don’t rely too much on it. Indian spinners need to bowl a little slower to get the bounce.”
Having toured Australia so recently, it should not be an issue for Ashwin and Yadav.
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SAI modifies SOPs partially to ensure athletes returning from competitions can continue training
New Delhi [Delhi], January 23 (ANI): The Sports Authority of India (SAI) is coming up with various proactive measures in order to ensure that there is no drop in intensity of Olympic-bound athletes.
As a part of these measures, SAI has proactively amended the quarantine regulations for those returning to its centres from various competitions. In partial modification of the Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) issued on September 11 and December 3, the SAI has ensured that athletes returning to national camps and other training centres are able to continue training without compromising safety.
In a statement, SAI said that “the measure has been introduced to ensure that athletes are able to maintain continuity in their training programme. The athlete will be able to resume his or her training routine, except that he or she will be kept away from athletes who remained in the bio-bubble for the first seven days and until he or she returns a negative RT-PCR test.”
With six months left for the Tokyo Olympic Games and with domestic and international competition resuming, athletes have or will begin competing in various disciplines to either gain qualification for the Olympic Games or secure competitive exposure.
Asking them to quarantine themselves for seven days each time they return to base from competition would adversely affect their training as they seek to maintain their periodisation cycle. SAI has also told the heads of all its training facilities that athletes returning from various competitions should be housed in a separate hostel or block of hostels till their RT-PCR test is negative at the end of seven days so that athletes do not come into contact with those who remained in the bio-bubble.
The heads of all SAI centres and the coaches have been instructed to draw up a proper schedule so that athletes returning from the competition can use the field of play, gym and sports science facilities to ensure continuity of training, but without compromising the safety of those athletes who remained in the respective centres.
Similarly, all centres have been advised to make separate dining arrangements for athletes returning from competition till their RT-PCR test report becomes available. In places where it is not possible to create a separate dining area, they will make a detailed schedule to prevent the mingling of such persons with those who stayed back in the camp. (ANI)
ISL 7: Looking for a spark, Bengaluru face struggling Odisha
Margao (Goa) [India], January 23 (ANI): Bengaluru FC find themselves in a tough spot in the Indian Super League (ISL). The team has lost five of their last six games. After the exit of Carles Cuadrat, interim coach Naushad Moosa has not been able to turn things around. On Sunday though, he has the chance to spark a recovery when they face ISL’s bottom-dwellers Odisha FC at the Fatorda Stadium.
“A win gives us three points and it will push us higher in the table. Just a matter of winning one game. Just that one win is very important for us. The dynamics will change entirely,” Moosa said in an ISL release.
Bengaluru is in the seventh spot, a position the team is not too familiar with, but still has a chance to progress into the knockout phase.
“Of course, the (position on the) points table is something we are not used to. They know the importance of each match now. We are being positive. Apart from the top two, all are very close. We have to keep fighting,” added Moosa, who stressed on the importance of not conceding easy goals if they are to make it to the playoffs.
Bengaluru had a good game against Kerala but the result wasn’t in their favour. However, Moosa believes that his side can win against Odisha, if they take their chances.
Meanwhile, Odisha has won just one match so far, and coach Stuart Baxter would be aiming to register his second win in the competition. But the Englishman believes his side will have to defend strongly and play their best in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“We had chances to beat bigger clubs like ATKMB but to do that against anybody — not just Bengaluru — we have to defend well, take our chances and play our own game. If we do that with quality, I think we have shown that we can run everybody close,” Baxter said. (ANI)
SL vs Eng: Pietersen shares Dravid’s email to help Sibley, Crawley tackle spin
London [UK], January 23 (ANI): As England openers Dom Sibley and Zack Crawley continue to struggle against Sri Lanka’s spinners, former England skipper Kevin Pietersen on Saturday shared an email sent by Rahul Dravid to him as he felt it might help both batters tackle spin.
Sibley (0) and Crawley (5) were once again dismissed by Lasith Embuldeniya in the first innings of the ongoing second Test on Saturday. This is the third time in a row that both batters were sent back to the pavilion by Embuldeniya.
“Hey @englandcricket, print this and give it to Sibley & Crawley. They can call me to discuss it at length if they want,” Pietersen tweeted.
Before sharing the email sent by Dravid, Pietersen had earlier tweeted: “Crawley & Sibley need to go find the email that Dravid sent me about playing spin. Changed my game.”
During his playing career, there came a patch when Pietersen was struggling against spinners and the batsman opted to reach out to Dravid for some advice.
Dravid had then sent Pietersen a lengthy email describing how he can get the better of spinners. Pietersen had also described the whole incident in his book titled “KP: The Autobiography”.
In his letter, Dravid had advised Pietersen to try picking up the bowler’s length out of their hands in the nets. He also asked the English batsman to bat without pads against Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar in the nets, in order to help him to reach the length of the ball.
Sri Lanka spinner Lasith Embuldeniya made early inroads into the England innings on day two of the ongoing second Test, but skipper Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow ensured the visitors stayed on track at the Galle International Stadium on Saturday. At stumps, England’s score reads 98/2, trailing the hosts by 283 runs, with Root (67*) and Bairstow (24*) at the crease.
Earlier, England had bundled out Sri Lanka for 381 with James Anderson recording his best bowling figures in Asia — 6/40. (ANI)
SL vs Eng, 2nd Test: Root, Bairstow grind it out after Embuldeniya’s twin strikes
Galle [Sri Lanka], January 23 (ANI): Sri Lanka spinner Lasith Embuldeniya made early inroads into the England innings on day two of the ongoing second Test, but skipper Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow ensured the visitors stayed on track at the Galle International Stadium on Saturday.
At stumps, England’s score reads 98/2, trailing the hosts by 283 runs, with Root (67*) and Bairstow (24*) at the crease. This after openers Dominic Sibley (0) and Zack Crawley (5) were once again trapped early by Embuldeniya.
After bundling out Sri Lanka for 381, England would have been looking to get off to a steady start, but Root and Bairstow had to bring forward a cautious approach to ensure that they kept the visitors in the game. Their unbeaten 93-run partnership came as a huge relief after they were stranded on 2/5 at one stage.
But the day belonged to James Anderson as the pacer combined with Mark Wood to bring an end to Sri Lanka’s innings on 381. Resuming day two on 229/4, hosts Sri Lanka got off to a bad start as overnight centurion Angelo Mathews (110) was sent back to the pavilion by Anderson. Soon after, Ramesh Mendis was dismissed for a duck by Mark Wood, reducing Sri Lanka to 243/6.
Niroshan Dickwella then found support in Dilruwan Perera and the duo mixed caution with aggression to take the hosts to a position of safety. Both batsmen ensured that Sri Lanka did not lose more wickets before the lunch break, taking the score to 313/6 with Dickwella and Perera batting on 78 and 21 respectively.
In the second session, Anderson took two wickets quite early as he dismissed Niroshan Dickwella (92) and Suranga Lakmal (0). With Dickwella’s wicket, Anderson registered his 30th five-wicket haul in Test cricket. He is now the second pace bowler after Richard Hadlee to have picked 30 fifers in Test cricket.
In the end, Perera added some crucial runs to the hosts’ total and he went on play a knock of 67 runs. While Anderson picked six wickets, Wood took four wickets while Dom Bess and Jack Leach went wicketless — the first time a spinner has not taken a single wicket in an innings of a Test at Galle.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 381 (Angelo Mathews 110; James Anderson 6-40); England 98/2 (Joe Root 67*; Lasith Embuldeniya 2-33). (ANI)
ISL 7: Coyle looking at playoff spot as Hyderabad clash looms
Panaji (Goa) [India], January 23 (ANI): The business end of the Indian Super League (ISL) beckons, and after 12 games, Jamshedpur finds themselves in a precarious position. Three defeats on the spin have seen them drop to eighth on the table. And when they face Hyderabad FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Sunday, they will be desperately seeking a turnaround as they set their sights on qualifying for their first-ever playoffs.
In Owen Coyle, Jamshedpur has a coach who knows what it takes to get there. The Englishman masterminded Chennaiyin’s fairytale run last season after taking charge midway, guiding them from the bottom of the table to the final. And despite dropping points in recent games, Coyle believes Jamshedpur is in a better position this time to make the top four compared to the position he found himself with the two-time ISL winners last season.
“We have eight games to go to fight for those playoff spots,” said Coyle. “And if anybody knows the challenge of doing that, it’s myself, since I was down there at the bottom last year (with Chennaiyin) before we set out on a tremendous run. Jamshedpur is in a better position than I was with Chennaiyin last year. So we are more than capable of making up the deficit to get there. What we have to do is get back to our very best.”
To do that, Jamshedpur has bolstered the squad in the transfer window with the additions of forwards Seiminlen Doungel (loan) and Farukh Choudhary, both of whom could feature on Sunday.
Compared to their opponents, Hyderabad has been in good form, unbeaten in their previous four games. And one area they will be looking to capitalise on is Jamshedpur’s stuttering defense that has conceded eight goals in their last three games. Previously, Coyle’s side had just conceded nine goals in as many matches.
But they are up against a side they have never managed to beat in their three meetings so far, allowing Jamshedpur to be optimistic about their chances as well. And Hyderabad coach Manuel Marquez is expecting a difficult game for both sides. (ANI)
You didn’t play a game here but your attitude was really good, your time will come: Rahane to Kuldeep
Brisbane [Australia], January 23 (ANI): As India registered an emphatic series win to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia, skipper Ajinkya Rahane decided to give a pep talk to all the boys after the series-clinching win at The Gabba. While he praised the boys for performing brilliantly on the field, he even mentioned how Kuldeep Yadav maintained his composure despite not getting any chances in the playing XI.
“This is a massive moment for all of us. What happened in Adelaide, how we came back from Melbourne onwards was really good to see. Everyone did their effort, everyone contributed, it was not about one or two individuals. I just want to mention Kuldeep Yadav and Kartik Tyagi. Kuldeep, I know it was tough for you, you did not play a game here but your attitude was really good. Your time will come, just keep working hard. Kartik you were fantastic,” said Rahane while addressing the Indian team in a video posted on the official website of BCCI on Saturday.
Earlier, head coach Ravi Shastri had also given a special speech to laud the efforts of every player and he went on to say that every member of the squad had been outstanding on the tour.
“Guys, the courage, resolve, and spirit you have shown, it is unreal. Not for once, you were down. Injuries, 36 all out, you had the belief. It does not come overnight, it takes a period of time, now you have the self-belief. Just not India, the whole world will stand up and salute you today. Remember what you guys have done today, enjoy as much as you can. Everybody has been outstanding, it started in Melbourne, Sydney was fantastic and the honours were even coming into this Gabba Test,” said Shastri while addressing the Indian team in a video posted on the official website of BCCI.
On Tuesday, Australia’s fortress — The Gabba — was finally breached. It took 32 years and two months, but the unthinkable was achieved as an injury-ravaged young Indian team beat Australia by three wickets against all odds in the final Test to take the series 2-1.
The last time a visiting team came out triumphant from the Brisbane Cricket Ground was back in November 1988 when the mighty West Indian outfit under the leadership of Viv Richards thrashed Allan Border’s team by 9 wickets.
Virat Kohli had also returned home after the first Test as he along with his wife Anushka Sharma were expecting the birth of their first child. Kohli announced that they had been blessed with a baby girl on the very day when the Indian team played out of its skin to draw the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
In the first Test against Australia, India was bundled out for 36 and there were many pundits who said the visiting team will face a 4-0 drubbing. But proving every critic wrong, the Ajinkya Rahane-led side registered famous victories in Melbourne and Brisbane. The side also recorded an epic draw in Sydney and at every step, the line-up overcame adversity. (ANI)
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