‘India without Kohli will be like Aussies without Smith, Warner’ - The Daily Guardian
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‘India without Kohli will be like Aussies without Smith, Warner’

While former Australian fast bowler Geoff Lawson says that ‘Indian cricketers will be expecting the unexpected’, ex-skipper Ian Chappell explains how Virat Kohli’s absence will create a big hole in Indian batting order.

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India without captain Virat Kohli in Tests will be akin to Australia without Steve Smith and David Warner, said former Australia fast bowler Geoff Lawson on the prospects of Team India Down Under.

Kohli will be returning to India after the first Test against Australia—a day-night fixture currently slated to be played at the Adelaide Oval from 17 December—to be with his wife Anushka Sharma for the delivery of their first child. However, he will be part of the limited-overs leg of the tour—three ODIs and three T20Is—beginning 27 November.

“India without Virat Kohli will be like Australia without Smith and Warner. It’s not just the runs he makes, but the way he lifts the psyche of the whole group,” Lawson wrote in his column for the Sydney Morning Herald.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell too believes Kohli’s absence for the final three Test of the upcoming Border-Gavaskar Trophy will “create a big hole” in the Indian batting order.

“India also face a selection dilemma when skipper Virat Kohli departs for home for the birth of his first child following the opening Test. This creates both a big hole in the Indian batting order and an opportunity for one of their talented young players to make a name for himself,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Chappell as saying.

“What was already shaping up as an exciting tussle now has the added stimulus of crucial selection decisions. The result could well come down to who is the bravest set of selectors,” he added.

Australia all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, however, believes missing the last three Tests will not take motivation away from Kohli.

“Don’t worry about Virat. He is up for every single game he is playing. Maybe, there will be extra motivation. I am sure he will be ready to go. As I said he is getting home for the birth of his child which is the right decision, so I am sure he will be extra motivated,” Stoinis said on Saturday.

With 7,240 runs at an average of 53.62, Kohli is the highest run scorer in the Indian squad for the Tests and is ranked in the ICC rankings for the longest format of the game behind Steve Smith.

As for Geoff Lawson’s statement, it gains relevance because India had won the previous Test series they played in Australia with the hosts missing Smith and Warner and still reeling from the aftermath of the 2018 ball tampering scandal. Since the duo came back, however, Australia have experienced a reversal in fortune culminating in them pipping India at the top of the ICC Test Championship earlier this month.

Lawson also added that Australia’s biggest strength now compared to what they had before the 2018-19 Test series against India is that they have options. “Australia have risen on the back of drawing away with England and then beating a well-below-strength New Zealand and thumping a classic Pakistan at home last summer. And as the international season looms, No.1 Test nation Australia finds itself in an unusual situation: There are options for batting spots,” said Lawson.

“Indian cricketers will be expecting the unexpected. They will be a handful, given they are defending the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, won on Australian soil for the first time two years ago, and their fast bowling group continues to grow in stature,” he said.

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VAIBHAV ARORA MIGHT BE THE NEW PACER TO KEEP EYES ON

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NEW DELHI: Himachal Pradesh pacer Vaibhav Arora is on a high these days as he was not only picked by Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League auction, but also picked a hattrick against Maharashtra in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy.

But the 23-year-old is not ready to slow down. He wishes to keep the tempo going and script more match-winning performances going into the IPL. In fact, the pacer wishes to fine-tune his skills further in the IPL camp when he gets to share the training ground with stalwarts like Australia pace spearhead Pat Cummins and New Zealand’s Lockie Ferguson. Not to forget skipper Eoin Morgan.

“He (Morgan) is a big player and I will now get to share the dressing room with him and also with Cummins and Ferguson. So I am very excited, as I will get to learn from those two bowlers. I will take tips from Cummins and Ferguson to improve my bowling further.

“I had in mind to ask the premier fast bowlers in the world that how do they train, what is their diet and how do they maintain their fitness to bowl consistently in Test cricket. And now I will get the chance to ask them how they manage to bowl 30, 40 overs in Test cricket and will surely take some tips,” he told ANI.

KKR bought Vaibhav for his base price of Rs 20 lakh, but the fast bowler had also caught the eyes of the selectors when he was with Punjab Kings.

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Mumbai City FC to plant five trees for every goal scored in ISL 7

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PANAJI: Mumbai City FC have launched a campaign with a simple message — ‘Thank You, Goa’ — to show their appreciation to the state and its people for their hospitality and their role in the successful running of the ongoing seventh season of the Indian Super League (ISL) amid health and safety restrictions.

As a part of the ‘Thank You Goa’ campaign, Mumbai City will undertake a tree plantation drive in Goa with the support of the Corporation of the City of Panaji and their Urban Forestry Programme. For the past six months, the Islanders’ contingent of players and staff have camped in a bio-secure bubble at the ITC Grand Goa, trained at the Nagoa Village Panchayat Ground, and have played their ‘home’ games of the ISL at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim.

Drawing inspiration from the ongoing season, the club will plant five trees for every goal the Islanders score in the seventh season of ISL, contributing to the biodiversity of the beautiful state of Goa.

With two games to go in the league stage of the ISL and a spot in the semi-finals confirmed for the Islanders, the club has scored 27 goals so far in the current season and have committed to plant 135 trees, with the hope of adding to that tally come the end of the season. The tree plantation drive will commence as soon as Mumbai City FC finish the current season of the ISL.

“The last six months have been a huge challenge and working in these unprecedented circumstances has not been easy for anyone. We want to thank all the fantastic individuals and organisations who, despite the current circumstances, have worked tirelessly to make us feel comfortable in our setting in Goa and who have put up a spectacular show for football fans tuning in from all over India and the world,” said Mumbai City FC head coach Sergio Lobera in an official statement.

The plantation drive will be executed in collaboration with The Corporation of the City of Panaji — the oldest civic institution in Asia. Owing to the work of the corporation, Panjim is hailed as one of the most charming and best-planned cities in the country, being the first city in India to be built on a planned grid system.

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Giroud’s goal gives Chelsea advantage against Atletico

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Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie to take a big step towards the quarterfinals of the tournament.

What was Atletico’s home leg had to be played in Bucharest due to a ban on flights from Britain to Spain to try and stop the spread of coronavirus variants.

Although that is a clear disadvantage for the Spanish side, the result only serves to highlight a drop of form which has seen them lose two and draw one of their last three games in all competitions, Xinhua reported.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone fielded a side that on paper looked to be attacking minded, with Luis Suarez, Joao Felix, and Angel Correa in attack, and Koke and Marcos Llorente in midfield, the reality was something different as the La Liga leaders were content to sit deep and defend for much of the first half.

Chelsea was enjoying more of the ball and Timo Werner drew the first save of the game from a tight angle, although Jan Oblak responded well.

At the other end Thomas Lemar put over a pass that Suarez failed to reach, but Eduoard Mendy wasn’t forced into any serious action before the break.

The second half began with Mason Mount, who had previously seen a yellow card that will keep him out of the return leg, just fail to find Olivier Giroud with a pass across goal, while Hudson Odoi saw a deflected effort easily collected by Oblak.

Giroud scored the only goal of the game with a spectacular overhead kick in the 70th minute and although it was originally ruled out for offside, it was eventually given when the VAR showed the ball had come to him off Atletico defender Mario Hermoso.

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Cricketers sign for The Hundred, but no Indians

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Some more of the best players in world cricket have been signed up to play in The Hundred, the new fast-paced family-friendly 100-ball cricket competition to be launched this summer. However, no Indian cricketer appears in any of the eight franchise teams.

Thirty-five men’s players have been revealed after being chosen out of more than 500 overseas and English players vying for a place in the competition, the England Cricket Board announced on Tuesday. Alongside this, a further eight English and eight Australian star women’s players have also been announced.

Nicholas Pooran, Kieron Pollard, David Warner, Kagiso Rabada and Tom Abell are the top five men’s picks in The Hundred Draft to fill the remaining 35 spaces in the men’s squads.

Manchester Originals were the busiest team, signing 10 players. As well as Pooran and Rabada, they also drafted Harry Gurney, Jamie Overton and Shadab Khan amongst others.

Other England stars signed up include Ravi Bopara going to London Spirit, Olly Stone joining Northern Superchargers, and Saqib Mahmood being picked up by Oval Invincibles.

The eight teams have now filled all but one place in their men’s squads — they each have one Vitality Wildcard pick each to fill the final slot in June.

Men’s competition features three of world’s top five male international T20 batters and four of top five male bowlers.

Players are being signed on an individual basis by the eight teams in the women’s competition, with no equivalent draft event. Teams will continue to fill their squads over the coming months.

World’s top female T20 bowler Sophie Ecclestone and leading female T20 batter Beth Mooney are among the latest women’s star signings. Women’s competition currently features three of world’s top five female international T20 batters and bowlers.

The women’s competition will headline the start of The Hundred with Oval Invincibles taking on Manchester Originals in a standalone women’s match, live on Sky and BBC on July 21.

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INDIA NEED A LEG SPINNER WHO CAN BOWL LONGER SPELLS

Karsan Ghavri

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Legalised ball

There was a time when there were not many fast bowlers around, however, I am happy that today’s generation is adapting to this difficult art. This is the reason why a lot of fast bowlers are getting ready today, which is a good sign for team India as such. Considering the abundance of pacers in the squad, India can also pay attention to our rotation policy and also pick bowlers for different formats.

Every fast bowler has a special ability. Some are experts in bowling long spells, while others bowl in short spells. In the latter case, bowlers should be picked for T20s and ODIs, and those who are exceptional, and are agile with good stamina and strength, should be picked for Test cricket. I am glad that BCCI is following this pattern today which is a good sign for the Indian cricket.

However, the biggest problem in Team India currently is the absence of a test leg-spinner. At one-time leg spinners used to dominate international cricket. From Bhagwat Chandrasekhar to Shane Warne and Anil Kumble, there have been excellent leg-spinners in world cricket who were not so easy to play. I think Yazuvendra Chahal, who has proved to be a very useful bowler for India in white-ball cricket, should also get an opportunity in Test cricket.

India must give such a skilled player a chance in the Test, which will bring a lot of variety to their attack. Leg spin bowling is great art. If Chahal gets a chance in the Test, he can bowl for longer spells. For a spinner, the ball has to spin in addition to a perfect length. The leg spinner can also be effective through their googly and flippers. There is a need to keep this art alive in India.

You must be wondering why I am raising the issue of leg spinner. Everyone knows that I was a fast bowler. However, I too have got a chance to try spin bowling in Test cricket. I was told that in 1976 against England, Bishan Singh Bedi was not on the field, then Sunil Gavaskar asked me to bowl spin and I got five wickets in that Test from spin bowling. Similarly, in a match during the Australian tour, Bishan Bedi again not being on the field, I was given the responsibility to bowl spin, and I took three wickets. Hence, as a spinner, I think that if India gets a good leg-spinner in the test, then myriad problems can be solved.

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ISHANT FELICITATED BY PRESIDENT KOVIND, AMIT SHAH

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AHMEDABAD: India pacer Ishant Sharma, who is playing his 100th Test for the country, was felicitated by Home Minister Amit Shah and President Ram Nath Kovind before the start of the pink-ball Test against England at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Wednesday.

“@ImIshant was felicitated by the Honourable President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind & Honourable Home Minister of India Shri Amit Shah before the start of play here in Ahmedabad. @rashtrapatibhvn @AmitShah,” BCCI tweeted along with the video. Legend Sachin Tendulkar also congratulated Ishant on reaching the milestone figure.

“Playing 100 Tests is a great landmark for any cricketer, especially a fast bowler. Have seen you play from your U-19 days & played alongside you in your 1st Test. Proud of you & your service to #TeamIndia” Tendulkar tweeted.

President Kovind on Wednesday inaugurated the newly-built stadium which was renamed the Narendra Modi Stadium ahead of the pink-ball Test.

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