With left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja out of India’s Test squad due to broken thumb, India could field another left-arm spinner Axar Patel for the first Test against England beginning February 5. The challenge for Patel will be matching his senior’s all-round ability and penchant for taking wickets on Indian pitches, something that he does with variations in pace.
Jadeja’s batting has improved over the past few years. In the last three years, his batting average has been 55.57 in Test cricket. The 32-year-old left-hander has scored seven of his 15 half-centuries and one century in the period. In India, he bags wickets in a heap. He has taken 157 of his 220 Test wickets at home.
Patel, who has represented India in 38 ODIs and 11 T20Is, is yet to play a Test, though he has 134 wickets and has scored 1,665 runs at 35.42 in 39 first-class matches.
Gujarat’s Patel qualifies as all-rounder and his ability to turn the ball away from right-handed batsmen may prompt the team management to pick him in the XI along with R Ashwin, the off-spinner, who will most likely play the first Test at his home ground, M.A. Chidambaram Stadium.
Off-spinner Washington Sundar and Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, both of whom bring the ball into the right-hander batsman, are the other spinners in the Indian squad for the first two Tests.
There are seven right-handed batsmen out of 10 in the England squad for first two Tests. And three of the six bowlers can bat right-handed.
India don’t have a leg-spinner, so Axar becomes crucial with his left-arm spin.
“The advantage of having a left-arm spinner is that with the ball leaving the right-handed batsman, you have more chances of getting the batsman out,” former India left-arm spinner Maninder Singh told IANS.
Patel’s exploits at the top level have been in the limited-overs format, but how he would perform at the Test level is yet to be seen.
Jadeja’s experience would be missed.
Maninder pointed out a couple of qualities that has made Jadeja important to the Indian team — self-realisation and ability to turn one ball in his initial spell.
“The self-realisation Jadeja has had in the past couple of years. He realised that he cannot play for India only on the basis on bowling. He has to improve his batting also, which is why you see that in the last few years, his batting has been great. He has understood that he has limitations in bowling but if he has to play he will to play as a batting all-rounder and he has scored runs. We will have to see if the newcomer (Axar) has that,” said Maninder.
Maninder, 55, said that Jadeja’s ability to turn one ball early in his innings often puts doubt in batsmen’s mind. From there, the Saurashtra spinner could exploit with his accuracy.
“A spinner has to turn one ball to put doubt in the batsman’s mind. He will always think the bowler has the ability to turn the ball. Jadeja has the quality that he can turn one ball in his initial spell on good wickets somehow. Then he uses his accuracy with great advantage,” he said.
Patel’s returns with the bat in the ODIs haven’t been too impressive. He averages just 12.92. He has also picked 45 wickets and his concern was keeping the economy rate under check.
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SEHWAG REVEALS HOW DRAVID LOST HIS COOL WITH DHONI
Rahul Dravid’s Cred advertisement has made rounds on the social media as the former batsman is seen in the angry avatar. Dravid, in the advert, was seen in a completely different demeanor— Indranagar Ka Goonda— losing his cool and shouting at the top of his voice while being stuck at a traffic signal in Bengaluru.
In the advertisement that has gone viral, the former India batsman was seen breaking rear-view mirrors of a nearby car and even throwing a coffee cup at the windowpane of a car driven by an elderly person.
While Rahul Dravid’s fuming avatar was something that the world hadn’t seen, his former teammate Virender Sehwag has a different story to tell.
Revealing an ODI game in which MS Dhoni was batting with the legendary batsman from Bengaluru, Sehwag said that Dravid lost his cool with the wicketkeeper, who was then still in the budding stages of his career.
“I have seen Rahul Dravid get angry. When we were in Pakistan and MS Dhoni had been a newcomer, he played a shot and got caught at point. Dravid was very angry with MS Dhoni,” Sehwag told Cricbuzz.
“’That’s the way you play? You should finish the game.’ I was myself taken aback by the storm of English from Dravid, I didn’t understand half of it.”
Sehwag added that MSD was actually wary of another angry outburst from Rahul Dravid, saying the power-hitting batsman abstained from hitting biggies in the following match. When Sehwag asked Dhoni why, MSD had told him about his cautious approach.
“But when MS Dhoni next came in to bat, I could see he was not hitting shots much. I went and asked him what was wrong. He said he did not want to be scolded by Dravid again. ‘I will finish quietly and go back,’ Dhoni said,” Sehwag added.
Myriad cricketers and fans have reacted to Rahul Dravid’s viral advertisement video. India skipper Virat Kohli took to social media and expressed surprise at Rahul Dravid’s surprising outburst.
Dravid’s former India and Karnataka teammate Dodda Ganesh also had an fascinating memory to share. The former India pacer shared a rare clip from a domestic game in which Dravid was spotted being animated in the dressing room.
Rohit’s Mumbai eyeing to defeat buoyant KKR
Despite losing their first match in the IPL 2021 to Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians face a problem of plenty.
Their regular opener Quinton de Kock, who had to sit out of the tournament opener against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) as he was serving his quarantine on arrival from South Africa, was back at training on Sunday and will feature in the second match against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Tuesday.
It means that Chris Lynn, who was MI’s top-scorer in the loss against RCB on April 9, may have to warm the bench as the Proteas wicketkeeper-batsman will likely face the new ball with skipper Rohit Sharma.
“Quinton de Kock is out of his quarantine. He did a practice session yesterday (on Sunday) with the team looking forward to the season. Yes, he will be available for tomorrow’s game,” said MI director of cricketing operations, Zaheer Khan.
“It is a good headache to have. To be lucky and be fortunate to have such a squad where people are waiting for opportunities and pushing each other,” Zaheer added.
MI’s power-packed middle and lower batting failed against some inspired and intelligent bowling from Harshal Patel. But their power-hitting unit comprising the Pandya brothers and Kieron Pollard among others batting are too good to fail as a whole twice in a row.
Containing them will be a big challenge for Kolkata Knight Riders who on Sunday scored a close but impressive win over SunRisers Hyderabad.
With their spin bowlers, who they relied on last season, not proving effective in Sunday’s game, MI’s batting could worry Eoin Morgan’s side.
Pat Cummins, who came in as second change, will again hold key for the KKR bowling unit.
An interesting contest will be between Nitish Rana, who top-scored for KKR with 80 (off 56 balls) against SunRisers’ strong bowling unit, and Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult.
While Boult is accurate, Bumrah’s pace and bounce can be hot to handle.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS
• Many power-hitters in the side: Russell, Morgan, DK
• Nitish Rana and Rahul Tripathy in good form
• Too much dependency on Foreign players
• Fitness issue with many players
• Strong batting order
• Balanced attack of Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah
• Mentally a very strong team
• Limited options in the spin bowling department
PSG HAS PROBLEMS AT THE BACK, SAYS BAYERN GOALKEEPER NEUER
Ahead of the second leg quarter-final clash against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said that side can bounce back as the French side has “problems at the back”.
Bayern suffered their first European defeat under Hansi Flick last week as PSG ran out 3-2 winners at Allianz Arena to take control of the tie. The reigning champions will now have to win by two clear goals or while scoring more than three away goals at Parc des Princes in order to reach the semi-finals.
“We need to stay calm in our heads, but have fire in our heart. We want to approach the game the right way, with motivation, a good attitude of course, and the stability you need against such quick players,” Neuer told the Bundesliga’s official website.
“We’ll need to keep our cool, play attacking football and put them under pressure. They have problems at the back. If we create as many chances as we did in Munich, then we can do it,” he added.
Bayern will play against PSG in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.
Samson’s blitzkrieg goes in vain as Punjab Kings clinch the cliffhanger
K.L. Rahul’s knock, aided by Deepak Hooda’s belligerent hitting, helped Punjab Kings post 221 in the allotted 20 overs. In response, Rajasthan Royals fell just five runs short of the target.
Sanju Samson’s fighting hundred went in vain as Arshdeep Singh held his nerves in the final over to help Punjab Kings register a thrilling win over Rajasthan Royals here at the Wankhede on Monday.
Punjab Kings squad celebrating a dismissal.Sanju Samson, the losing captain, of Rajasthan Royals, was given man of the match for scoring 119 runs off 63 balls.
KL Rahul’s calm and composed knock, aided by Deepak Hooda’s belligerent hitting, helped Punjab Kings post 221 in the allotted 20 overs. In response, Rajasthan Royals fell just five runs short of the target to clinch the game. With Ben Stokes back in the hut, Jos Buttler and Samson had revived Rajasthan Royals’ innings before the English batsman lost the plot and got out in the eighth over.
However, Samson and Riyan Parag didn’t give up and kept fighting as the duo smashed 13 and 20 runs in the 15th and 16th over. Samson took on Richardson and whacked him for 19 runs in the 18th over as the equation came down to 21 off two overs.
Samson, who smashed 119 off 63 balls, kept fighting till the end but wasn’t able to get the job done for the Royals as Punjab Kings clinched a thriller on the last ball. The wicket-keeper batsman had also refused a run to remain at a strike when Rajasthan Royals needed 5 off 2 balls.
Chasing a mammoth 222, Rajasthan Royals suffered an early jolt as they lost star all-rounder Ben Stokes in the first over. Manan Vohra tried to revive the innings with a six and a four but eventually got out in an attempt to slog every ball.
However, Jos Buttler was in some other mood as the wicket-keeper started firing right from the word go. The English batsman creamed four consecutive fours in Australian pacer Riley Meredith’s first over in the IPL.
Despite a few initial blips, Rajasthan Royals went past 50 in quick time. With runs flowing from both ends, the Sanju Samson-led side scored 59 runs after the completion of powerplay.
But Jhye Richardson’s slower yorker did the trick for the Punjab Kings as Buttler was cleaned up in the eighth over to reduced Rajasthan Royals to 70/3. With the ever-mounting required rate, Samson decided to switch gears, but finally team fell five runs short and succumbed to the battle.
Brief Scores: Punjab Kings 221/6 (Rahul 91, Hooda 64, Sakariya 3-31); Rajasthan Royals 217/7 (Samson 119, Riyan Parag 25; Arshdeep Singh 3-35 )
Very unhappy about referee’s two decisions: Barca coach Koeman
Real Madrid held on to earn a narrow 2-1 El Clasico win over Barcelona on Sunday and go top of the La Liga charts on Saturday. Karim Benzema broke the deadlock in the 13th minute with his ninth goal in seven league games, finishing Lucas Vazquez’s cross with a back heel nudge.
Madrid doubled the lead before the half-hour mark when Toni Kroos’ freekick deflected against Sergino Dest’s back and flew past Jordi Alba on the line, reports DPA.
Barcelona fought back in the second half in torrential rain, with Oscar Mingueza pulling one back from close range. Substitute Ilaix Moriba almost equalised in stoppage time but hit the crossbar.
Atletico Madrid travel to face Real Betis later on Sunday and could go back top with a point. They are currently level with Real on 66, while Barcelona are third on 65.
Barcelona complained of two penalty decisions they were not given, with Ferland Mendy clashing with Ousmane Dembele and later Martin Braithwaite in the area.
“I think everyone saw the game, if you’re a Barcelona fan you’re furious, very unhappy about the two refereeing decisions,” said an angry Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman.
“In the first half we were not good in attack or defence, in the second we improved. It’s a very clear penalty, once more we have to shut up and accept it.”
The Barcelona coach later walked out of a pitch-side interview after a reporter did not answer his question about whether his team should have been given a penalty.
Neither incident was clear cut, and Madrid could have put the game to bed in the first half when Fede Valverde hit the post with the score already at 2-0.
“I’m happy for (the players), we made a lot of subs today, we suffered but nothing changed,” said Real manager Zidane. “They are all committed, and they want to play and that’s the good thing. We have to enjoy today and the other day,” he said, referring to the team’s defeat of Liverpool in the Champions League.
PSL 6 TO RESUME ON 1 JUNE, FINAL ON 20 JUNE
The Board of Governors (BoG) of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) met through a virtual conference call and the board received a presentation and an update on the report of the two-person fact-finding panel that was set-up by the PCB chairman to review the bio-security protocols, bylaws, and arrangements for the Pakistan Super League.
The presentation was given in order to help them make recommendations on how to better ensure the implementation of a bio-secure environment for future events. The BoG discussed and debated the panel’s findings in detail. They expressed their disappointment at the failures that were highlighted in the report and advised remedial actions needed to be taken. The BoG also endorsed all recommendations of the fact-finding panel, including robust and stringent implementation of the protocols, as well as maintaining a zero-tolerance approach towards all those who breach the Covid-19 SOPs, which are put in place for safeguarding the health and safety of all participants.
The BoG was informed that as part of the strategy to ensure the PSL 6 resumed and completed in a safe and secure environment, the PCB was in the final stages of appointing a globally recognised safety management company that specialises in providing Covid-safe technology solutions, bio-secure monitoring & management, as well as response and reaction to positive tests.
The members were informed that a mandatory seven-day quarantine period for all participants will commence from May 22 in one hotel and following three days of training sessions, PSL matches will resume on June 1 with the final scheduled for June 20.
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