Ashwin should always be a priority in the playing XI: Chappell - The Daily Guardian
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Ashwin should always be a priority in the playing XI: Chappell

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Former Australia skipper Ian Chappell reckons that India is a very good side, but they need to find a way to include Ravichandran Ashwin in their playing XI at all times.

In the recently-concluded Test series against England, Ashwin did not find a place for himself in the playing XI in four Tests and the fifth match of the series had to be cancelled after India’s assistant physio tested positive for COVID-19. “There’s no doubt that India are a very good all-round team. They have conclusively proved it by winning consecutive series in Australia and now having had success in England, albeit Covid-affected, while they are virtually unbeatable at home. However, that isn’t to say they can’t improve. That’s how good teams remain at or near the top – by constantly searching for ways to be better. Herbie Collins, a shrewd Australian captain of the 1920s, reckoned the most important aspect of selection was finding the right combination,” Chappell wrote in his blog for ESPNcricinfo.

“India’s best combination includes R Ashwin. He is a fine bowler under all conditions, as he proved in Australia, so India need to find a way to fit him into the XI. In trying to find a balance between the right- and left-hand batters in the middle order at The Oval, they may have inadvertently stumbled on the solution – Ravindra Jadeja at No. 5. If Jadeja proves good enough to hold down that spot in the order, the other piece required to complete the puzzle is a seam-bowling allrounder. The ideal player would be a fully fit Hardik Pandya, but they do have a second choice in Shardul Thakur,” he added.

Further talking about Ashwin, Chappell said: “The art of good selection is to be constantly looking for ways to make even a top-class team better. The priority is always to win the next match, but this should be achieved with one eye on the future. Tweaking the Indian middle order to accommodate the skills of Ashwin should be a priority for the selectors. It’s a scary thought for the other Test sides that Virat Kohli’s highly successful team can be improved.”

“A middle order that reads Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Pandya and Ashwin should provide the runs expected of that section. With three fast bowlers to follow, the batting is then supported by a versatile attack. That’s the advantage of having a strong, well-balanced attack – you don’t need huge scores to chase victory. The simplest equation for winning Test matches is for the batters to score quickly in order to give the bowlers enough time to take 20 wickets,” he added.

Chappell also suggested that India can look to have Ravindra Jadeja play at the number five slot instead of Ajinkya Rahane. However, the former Australia skipper highlighted how Rahane’s loss would lead to lack of tactical input.

“The other good point about that middle order is that it’s interchangeable. Skill-wise, Pant is the best batter of that lot. He’s capable of restraint when the situation demands, so he could easily handle No. 5, especially when India bat first. However if he’s had a long stint in the field, he could slide down the order to allow Jadeja to come in at five. Pandya also has the potential to handle No. 5, and given encouragement, he could fulfil the role,” said Chappell.

“Another attribute of that trio is their powerful strokeplay. The ability to accelerate the scoring rate is essential in Test cricket and those three are an ideal combination to take advantage of a good start to the innings. They are also a perfect fit for situations where the team is either chasing or setting a target. The only downside would be the loss of Ajinkya Rahane’s tactical input and his slip fielding to the spinners. Nevertheless Rohit Sharma is now an acclaimed captain and he’s capable of handling the vice-captaincy role,” he added.

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Didn’t do right with us, will avenge on ground: PCB chief Ramiz Raja

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NEW DELHI: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja has said that England and New Zealand’s decision to not play series in Pakistan is a lesson for them and now they will just look after their own interest.

After New Zealand decided to abandon their tour of Pakistan right ahead of the first ODI, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Monday announced that its men’s and women’s tour of Pakistan would not go ahead as planned. “I am severely disappointed in England’s withdrawal but it was expected because this western bloc gets united unfortunately and tries to back each other. So you can take any decision on the basis of security threat and perception. There was a sense of anger because first New Zealand got away without sharing information about the threat they were facing,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Raja as saying.

“Now, this England was expected but this is a lesson for us because we go out of our way to accommodate and pamper these sides when they visit. And when we go there, we undergo strict quarantines and we tolerate their admonishments, but there is a lesson in this. That is, that from now on we will only go as far as is in our interest,” he added.

Further talking about cricket in Pakistan, Raja said: “Our interest is that cricket will not stop in our country and if the cricket fraternity will not take care of each other then there’s no point to it. New Zealand, then England, now we have a West Indies series that can also be hit, and Australia who is already reconsidering. This – England, Australia, New Zealand – is all one block. Who can we complain to? We thought they were our own but they haven’t accepted us as theirs.”

“We have to improve and expand our cricket economy so that these countries remain interested in playing us. That is in our interests as well so that our players are paid better and we are respected more. They come to the PSL where they don’t get spooked or fatigued but collectively they have a different mindset together toward Pakistan,” he added.

Raja said that his team would now be required to channel all their frustration into showcasing good performance in the upcoming T20 World Cup.

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NOT GOING TO TALK ABOUT MY FUTURE AT BARCELONA: COACH

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LONDON: Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has said that he is not going to talk about his future with the club after they were held to a 1-1 draw against Granada.

Barcelona trailed for 88 minutes in the game, and it was down to Ronald Araujo to help the side get an equaliser in the match. “I’m not going to talk about my future anymore. Today’s Barca is not the Barca of eight years ago. We played Barca’s way, but we don’t have the speed on the break because Philippe Coutinho goes inside, Yusuf Demir doesn’t go too deep and that’s the way it is. With Ansu Fati or Ousmane Dembele, it’s different, you have more speed, but you have to look for alternatives,” Goal.com quoted Koeman as saying.

“Before the game, you think about winning, especially at home, but our bad start made the game difficult for us. We didn’t come in strong, it was our fault. We improved during the game. We changed and we played with crosses from the wings. We put energy into scoring. We wanted more, but one point is better than nothing. We deserved the draw,” he added.

Barcelona is currently in seventh place in La Liga standings with eight points from four games.

The side will next square off against Cadiz in La Liga on Thursday.

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MITHALI RAJ GOES PAST 20,000 CAREER RUNS

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India women’s ODI skipper Mithali Raj on Tuesday went past 20,000 runs in her cricketing career.

She brought up the feat in the ongoing first ODI of the three-match series against Australia here at the Harrup Park in Mackay. The Indian skipper played a knock of 61 runs from 107 balls and she helped the visitors post 225/8 in the allotted fifty overs. Mithali is already the highest scorer in women’s international cricket across three formats of the game.

Mithali had become the highest scorer in international cricket during the tour of England earlier this year.

Earlier, Mithali might have played a 61-run knock but Darcie Brown’s four-wicket haul helped Australia restrict India to 225/8. Apart from Mithali, Yastrika Bhatia also chipped in with an innings of 35 runs with the help of two boundaries. Sent into bat, Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana provided a quickfire start as the opening duo put on 31 runs inside the first four overs. However, Australia stormed right back as Brown dismissed both Shafali (8) and Mandhana (16), reducing India to 38/2 in the sixth over.

Yastika and Mithali then got together at the crease and both batters put on 77 runs for the third wicket, but as soon as India started to gain an upper hand, the side lost the wicket of Bhatia (35) to Brown in the 26th over. Deepti Sharma (9) failed to leave a mark with the bat, handing Brown her fourth wicket and India was reduced to 129/4 in the 31st over.

Mithali might have played a knock of 61 runs but her strike rate can once again be talked about as she scored runs from 107 balls and her innings was finally ended up by Sophie Molineux in the 38th over.

Molineux had Mithali stumped and this brought Richa Ghosh and Pooja Vastrakar together at the crease. The lower-order was not able to contribute much, and in the end, India had to settle with a score of 225. In the final overs, Richa Ghosh and Jhulan Goswami played cameos of 32 and 20 respectively.

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STEYN, PARTHIV BACK KOHLI’S DECISION TO STEP DOWN AS SKIPPER AFTER 2021 SEASON

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NEW DELHI: Former Proteas pacer Dale Steyn believes that it is probably the right time for Virat Kohli to step aside from T20 captaincy and focus purely on his batting.

Kohli announced last week that he would step down as India’s T20I captain after the upcoming T20 World Cup and a few days later, he announced that he would also give up leadership of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) after the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) season. “You see the way that he plays, he’s involved in everything, whether he’s in Test matches when he’s standing at first slip or even if he’s at the cover, he wants the ball immediately when it goes to the keeper, he always wants to be involved. But I think sometimes now in this COVID time maybe as Parthiv referred to bubble-life, his family that he’s got,” Steyn said on Star Sports’ Live Feed of Select Dugout’.

“It’s a lot of responsibility — and playing for RCB before — you see Virat, he’s in every advert and every meeting; he’s just so busy. So maybe it is the right time for him to just put this aside and focus purely on his batting,” he added.

Speaking about Virat’s decision, former India wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel said: “I think he looked more emotional than happy. I think when you’re playing for one franchise for so many years, you get that emotional connect which was there in RCB. I think RCB actually invested in Virat Kohli’s talent in 2008 and then showed a lot of trust in him as well because if you look at his and RCB’s journey, it has been a rollercoaster one.”

“But yeah, he might be relieved because see moving around from one bubble to another can take a load on you and he has spoken about the workload and intensity, which he plays with. I think every practice session, every match session or gym session, he does it with full intensity and that’s something I’m sure he must’ve thought about,” he added.

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Rajasthan clinch a royal victory against Punjab in a thriller

For the Royals, Kartik Tyagi was the man of the hour as the pacer conceded just one run in the last over and picked two wickets to give his team a victory for the ages.

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Mahipal Lomror batting heroics was followed by a sensational last over by Kartik Tyagi as Rajasthan Royals defeated the Punjab Kings by 2 runs in their Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter here at the Dubai International Stadium on Tuesday.

Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul innings of 67 and 49 respectively for the Punjab Kings went in vain as their middle order failed them miserably after such a good start. For the Royals, Kartik Tyagi was the man of the hour as the pacer conceded just one run in the last over and picked two wickets to give his team a victory for the ages. Chasing 185, PBKS had the best possible start as both of their openers Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul displayed brilliant temperament and stunning flowing shots in the powerplay. They propelled the Kings to 49 runs in the first six overs. The team in pink dropped, KL Rahul twice during the powerplay, which in the end proved very dearly to them.

In the 10th over of the innings, Mayank Agarwal brought up his half-century, and also completed his 2,000 IPL runs. After a much needed boundary-less over, Rajasthan pegged Punjab for the first time in the match during the 12th over when Chetan Sakariya sent opposition team captain KL Rahul back to the pavilion. KL Rahul edged to short-third at the score of 49.

Soon, Rahul Tewatia struck in the 13th over as he sent back dangerous-looking Mayank Agarwal to the pavilion. Agarwal walked off after scoring 67 off 43.

With two new batsmen on the pitch, Rajasthan tried to shift the momentum of the match but Aiden Markram and Nicolas Pooran carefully stepped forward. The duo slowly stablised the ship for Kings and carefully picked the loose balls at death. Punjab needed just four runs to win off the last six balls.

But Kartik Tyagi had other plans in his mind as the pacer conceded just one run in the last over and picked two wickets as well to give Rajasthan a sensational win from the jaws of defeat.

Earlier, Mahipal Lomror and Yashasvi Jaiswal helped Rajasthan Royals (RR) with the bat as the team in pink posted a score of 185 in twenty overs after getting bowled out against PBKS. Lomror and Jaiswal played innings of 43 and 49 respectively for the Royals. Debutant Evin Lewis also played an important inning of 36 in 21 balls. For Punjab, Arshdeep Singh scalped five wickets while Mohammad Shami returned with three.

Put in to bat first, Rajasthan enjoyed a great start in the contest as their openers Evin Lewis and Yashasvi Jaiswal came with all guns blazing. Both batsmen took the attack to Punjab bowlers as they amassed 53 runs in the first five overs of the innings.

Arshdeep Singh then provided the much-needed breakthrough for PBKS in the last over of powerplay as Evin Lewis walked back to the pavilion for 36 off 31 after Mayank Agarwal took a superb diving catch.

In the eight over, Punjab handed RR another blow as Ishan Porel took the wicket of their captain Sanju Samson. He walked back for 4 off 5 after edging one to KL Rahul. Despite losing two wickets, runs kept coming for RR as Jaiswal continued the hammering of bowlers with Liam Livingstone on the other side also giving him hand.

But in the 11th over of the innings, Arshdeep Singh struck again as he removed the dangerous Liam Livingstone thanks to a stunning catch from Fabian Allen at the boundary. The right-hander made 25 off 17.

Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals (Yashasvi Jaiswal 49, Mahipal Lomror 43; Arshdeep Singh 5/32, Mohammad Shami 3/21) vs Punjab Kings(Mayank Agarwal 67, KL Rahul 49; Kartik Tyagi 2-29, Rahul Tewatia 1-23)

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REALLY WANTED TO PROVE MYSELF AT TOKYO OLYMPICS, SAYS DEFENDER VARUN KUMAR

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When Indian men’s hockey team drag-flicker and defender Varun Kumar didn’t make the final team of 16 members for the Tokyo Games, he was evidently disappointed. But when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allowed hockey teams to expand their roster to 18 members with two P athletes, Varun’s name featured in the team.

Looking back, Varun says he feels very fortunate even though he was disappointed at first for not featuring in the 16-member squad. “When the squad for the Olympics was announced, my name was not part of the 16-member squad. I still remember that day very well and I was evidently disappointed,” recalled Varun in an official Hockey India release.

“But after a few days when IOC allowed hockey teams to expand to 18 players, Simranjeet and I were called up as P athletes. It came as a huge relief but somewhere at the back of my mind I was still upset about not making it to the final 16 and I really wanted to prove myself,” he added.

Varun further stated that the skipper Manpreet Singh having a one-on-one chat with him before the team left for Tokyo helped him. “It really helped that captain Manpreet had a long chat with me and pumped me up mentally. Manpreet has been a big influence in my career from a very young age as we played in the same academy and him talking to me made a lot of difference. I stopped beating myself up for not being good enough to make the 16-member squad. I started focusing on how I can make this opportunity count and deliver when the team needs me,” stated Varun.

What followed in Tokyo is now part of history as the Indian men’s hockey team went on to clinch the bronze medal. Varun played a key role in India’s 3-1 win against Argentina in the pool stage as he scored the first goal of the match. He was effective in the backline and impressed with his performance every time he was called up.

“It was indeed a fantastic experience in Tokyo. Winning the Bronze and standing on the podium along with my teammates is perhaps the best moment of my life. Now my priority will be to improve in every aspect. We have had a good break after the Olympics and we are all waiting to return to camp in October,” stated Varun.

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