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Aussies pin hope on bowling to breach strong English citadel

Ranked No.1 ODI team in the world, England have several match winners who are in great form. Australia hope their bowlers can create opportunities by striking early.

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Two years ago, Australia made a clean sweep in an ODI series of five matches, followed by its defeat in the World Cup semi- final. Now, Australia’s ignominious defeat at the hands of England in the T-20 series recently. Australia cannot afford to forget all these three happenings. Australia virtually surrendered in the T-20 series against England. Several fundamental problems came to the fore.

The England team is much stronger in One Day cricket. It is the world number 1 team in ODI and it has several match winners who are also in their forms. England has a balanced bowling attack which takes advantage of conditions to the fullest. At the same time, England has strong batting line-up as well.
Particularly, David Malan’s performance in white ball cricket is tremendous. His consistency and his ability to hit lofted shots in the initial overs can make a lot of difference. By virtue of these abilities, Malan has become world number 1 cricketer in T20 matches. If skipper Ian Morgan recovers from finger injury then he can pulverize the rival’s attack with Malan, Jos Buttler and Tom Banton. In addition, lower order batsmen Moeen Ali, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes have the capability of winning the match.

One can imagine the bench strength of a team (England) which has four openers and as many wicketkeepers. Now the question is whether Jason Roy will open the innings with Buttler if he is fully match-fit. In fact, Buttler’s performance as an opener has been better than his play at the lower order—neither in average nor in strike rate.

Apart from this, England has aggressive batsmen such as Bairstow and Tom Banton. Even Moin Ali has also opened the innings in the 2015 World Cup. Jofra Archer and Mark Wood did not get a chance to play against Pakistan in T20. But England does not want to take risk against Australia and has, therefore, given both of them a chance to play in the Test. Now it is possible that one of them gets included in final 11 in the team because England has a speedster in the form of Saqib Mahmood apart from Curran Brothers. At the same time, Australian team has gone down to fifth position in One Day ranking. Australian team neither performed in India nor in South Africa. It has not only lost two series but also faced whitewash defeat at the South African team which is passing through reorganisation.

What gives a sense of relief is that Australia somehow managed to win a one day match against New Zealand while the other two matches were washed away due to rains. The biggest weakness of this team is Glenn Maxwell and Steve Smith being out of form. Australia is on the backfoot because both the match winners are not in the form. Mitchell Marsh made a comeback and scripted the victory against England in the third T20 but he also succumbed to the pace bowling pressure. Australian team is overdependent on Warner and Finch. In the middle order, Australia has the only dependable player Marnus Labuschagne whose average is over 50 runs per innings. Stoinis, Ashton Agar and Mathew Wade add runs to the total which Australia can consider to be bonus only.

Perhaps keeping all this in view, Australia has included six fast bowlers in its bowling attack. Mitchell Stark and Pat Cummins have speed while Hazlewood has skill to bowl in England’s conditions. Andrew Tye has the ability to devastate the rivals in death overs with his yorker skills. Australia has leg spinner Adam Zampa, lefty spinner Ashton Agar and off-spinner Nathan Lyon. Lyon has experience, while Agar has proved to be a good bowler in power play. Zampa needs to control his line. At the same time, England has only dependable leg spinner Adil Rashid. Off spinner Moeen Ali also has the ability to get breakthrough on many occasions. The match will be at Old Trafford ground where bowl gets slower that makes condition for spinners favourable. Australia’s hope is pinned on the bowling

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RAIN WASHES OUT DAY 3 OF BANGLADESH-PAKISTAN 2ND TEST

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Day three of the ongoing second Test between Bangladesh and Pakistan was abandoned on Monday due to persistent rain here at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka.

The start of play was delayed due to continuous overnight rain and day three had to be called off eventually without being a ball bowled. “Unfortunately, day three of the second #BANvPAK Test has been abandoned due to persistent rain,” ICC tweeted.

On Sunday, Azhar Ali scored his 34th career fifty with only 38 balls’ play possible on the second day of the second Test in which Pakistan added 27 runs to their overnight score to reach 188 for two. After there was no play in the first session, play resumed following an early lunch and Pakistan began confidently before rain halted play after 6.2 overs.

Shortly before rain ended the second day’s play, Azhar Ali hit back to back boundaries off Ebadot Hossain to complete his 34th 50 in his 91st Test. When day’s play was finally called off, Azhar was batting on 52 after beginning the day at 36.

Babar Azam, started impressively with a boundary off the first ball of the day and was still at the crease on 71 with eight fours and a six. The two batters have so far added 118 runs for the unfinished third-wicket partnership.

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SMITH BEING NAMED AUSSIE VICE-CAPTAIN CONTROVERSIAL: IAN CHAPPELL

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Steve Smith

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell reckons England would need to leave a lasting impression in the first Test of the Ashes else Australia will have no difficulty in winning the series.

England and Australia will lock horns in five-match Ashes, beginning Wednesday at the Gabba, Brisbane. Chappell also said that Steve Smith as the vice-captain is a controversial choice.

“This is the hardest Ashes series to decipher. First, there are the controversies to be assessed on both sides; the Tim Paine crisis and the Azeem Rafiq Yorkshire debacle. Then, neither team has played much serious cricket in the build-up and therefore it’s hard to equate the successors in each side,” Chappell wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo.

“However, it’s still the Ashes and one team will gain an advantage over the other. It seems that England has to quickly establish their credentials at the Gabba or they will be overrun by an Australian team in the ascendant. England have that opportunity in the first Test. There is an unknown quantity about the pitch, Ben Stokes is making his comeback as a full allrounder, and Pat Cummins is yet to establish his captaincy credentials,” he added.

Pat Cummins was last week named Australian men’s Test cricket team captain following the announcement of Tim Paine taking an indefinite break from all cricket.

“The last point is the most crucial for Australia. Cummins is the right choice as captain. He is by far the most inspirational cricketer in Australia. If a team-mate is not inspired by Cummins’ heartfelt leadership, he’s playing the wrong grade. However, Steven Smith as vice-captain is a controversial choice. How come Smith’s leadership punishment carries a different weight to that of David Warner,” said Chappell.

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AXAR PATEL HAS POTENTIAL TO PLAY FOR A LONG TIME, SAYS KOHLI

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Indian skipper Virat Kohli feels if all-rounder Axar Patel focuses on his fitness he can go on to play for a long time for the country. Axar Patel not only starred with the ball but also scored a fifty in the first innings of the second Test against New Zealand before smashing a 26-ball 41 in the second essay. Kohli lavished praise on Axar and said the all-rounder has adapted his game according to a format that forms a key for the side.

“Axar is obviously is an all-rounder cricketer. His skill sets provide a good balance to any team he plays for precisely why he is performing well for so long in T20 cricket and Test too whenever he is given an opportunity. The good thing to see is he is adapting his game according to the need of the format,” said Kohli in the press conference after India’s win over New Zealand.

“Which I think is a great sign, if he can keep his fitness levels up, if he can keep working on his game then you know he has a potential to play for a long time and that’s basically the need of the hour in today’s cricket. “If you can’t keep up your fitness level it becomes more and more difficult. At the moment he is going through a great phase and I wish him all the success. I hope he stays fit and hungry to play for a long time,” he added.

Speaking about Mayank Agarwal’s performance in the second Test, Kohli said: “Great application from Mayank. To play at this level for a long period of time, he has shown great character. We have all gone through certain stages in our career where we have had to bring that impact performance and he has done that. This will help him in being consistent for India in the coming years, he is definitely an asset. These types of innings will certainly give him confidence.” India defeated New Zealand by 372 runs in the second Test of the two-match series here at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday.

With this win, Team India is back to the number 1 spot in ICC Test rankings. The victory over New Zealand also means India sealed the two-match series 1-0, and now Kohli’s side will head to South Africa for three Tests and three ODIs, beginning December 26.

Kohli lavished praise on Axar and said the all-rounder has adapted his game according to a format that forms a key for the side.

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Why do our batsmen get stuck in front of left-arm spinners?

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It has been seen that the batsmen of India and Pakistan face a lot of trouble against left-arm spinners. In the first Test against Bangladesh, left-arm spinner Tejul Islam took seven wickets in an inning against Pakistan while left-arm spinners took all 17 wickets against India in the Mumbai Test. Ajaz Patel took 14 and Rachin Ravindra took three wickets.

Actually our batsmen are no longer used to play quality left arm spin bowling. If a good spinner comes in front, then our hands and feet swell. One reason for this is because there is a lot of T20 and ODI cricket and in front of such bowlers, we are not using the steps as much as we should. Mayank Agarwal made good use of the steps especially in front of Ajaz Patel and the result is in front of you. Mayank scored more than 200 runs in this test and was adjudged man of the match.

Batsmen of the time like Dilip Vengsarkar, Parthasarathi Sharma, Ashok Mankad, Ajay Sharma, Milind Gunjal and Bhaskar Pillai used to make good use of their steps against spinners. These batsmen did not allow the spinner to freeze in front of them. It used to be very difficult for the spinner to dominate in front of them. Similarly, Gundappa Vishwanath used to face the spinners very well on the back foot. Now even after taking one leg out, the batsman thinks whether he is making a mistake. If you play with fear like this, you are giving such spinners a chance to dominate against you.

Today, even if you throw an ordinary ball on the turning track, it will turn. A left-arm spinner makes a better anticipation that the batsman will play the shot considering the ball to be a turn and he traps the batsman with an arm ball. In our time, LBW was not given to the batsman on the front foot but today it is given due to which the batsmen have started playing under more pressure.

In such a situation, if the batsman plays standing, he will come under pressure and his chances of getting caught by closing fielders or LBW will increase. The approach of batsmen to play is defensive, which increases the chances of his getting out.

The author has played 35 Tests and 59 ODIs for Team India as a left arm spinner.

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SOUTH AFRICA A ‘GOOD CHALLENGE’, WANT TO ACHIEVE WIN THERE AS A TEAM: KOHLI

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India skipper Virat Kohli on Monday said that the series win against New Zealand is very pleasing, but his eyes are firmly set on winning the upcoming Test series against South Africa.

Mayank Agarwal’s heroics with the bat and Jayant Yadav’s four-wicket haul in the second innings helped India defeat New Zealand by 372 runs in the second Test of the two-match series here at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday. “To come back with a win again, it’s a great feeling and a clinical performance. You want individuals to step up. The first Test was good, and it was a clinical performance here. We discussed the performance and the opposition played out a good draw. The bowlers tried all they good, but the Kiwi batsmen stuck it out really well in Kanpur,” Kohli told. With this win, India sealed the two-match series 1-0 and now Virat Kohli’s side will head to South Africa for three Tests and three ODIs, beginning December 26.“Here there was more bounce and the fast bowlers got assistance as well, so it gave us a better chance to win the Test match on the final day. The mindset is the same to take Indian cricket forward, even with the new management. It’s important to keep the standards of Indian cricket and make sure it’s always growing. South Africa is a good challenge,” said Kohli.

“We built it up in England and South Africa last time, and Australia was an accumulation of all that experience. South Africa is a tough challenge and a win that we want to achieve as a team,” he added.

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Agarwal, Jayant Yadav shine as hosts register 372-run win

India sealed the two-match series 1-0, however, the second Test will be remembered for Ajaz Patel’s ten-wicket haul in the first innings.

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Mayank Agarwal’s heroics with the bat and Jayant Yadav’s four-wicket haul in the second innings helped India defeat New Zealand by 372 runs in the second Test of the two-match series here at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday.

With this win, India sealed the two-match series 1-0 and now Virat Kohli’s side will head to South Africa for three Tests and three ODIs, beginning December 26. However, the second Test will be remembered for Ajaz Patel’s ten-wicket haul in the first innings which made him just the third bowler in the history of the game after Jim Laker and Anil Kumble to achieve the feat.

Resuming Day 4 at 140/5, overnight batters Rachin Ravindra (18) and Henry Nicholls managed to add just 22 more runs to the total before the former was scalped by Jayant Yadav and the visitors were starring down the barrel, still needing 378 runs for the win with just four wickets in hand. In his very next over, Jayant Yadav had Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee dismissed for a duck and it seemed like that the hosts would wrap up the victory before the lunch break on Day 4.

The final two wickets also fell in quick succession and in the end, New Zealand was bowled out for 167, handing the hosts a 372-run win.

Brief Scores: India 325 and 276/7d; New Zealand 62 and 167 (Daryl Mitchell 60, Henry Nicholls; Jayant Yadav 4-49).

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