SA A VS IND A: EASWARAN, PANCHAL LEAD VISITORS FIGHTBACK - The Daily Guardian
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SA A VS IND A: EASWARAN, PANCHAL LEAD VISITORS FIGHTBACK

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India A put on a solid show with the bat riding on captain Priyank Panchal’s unbeaten 45, Prithvi Shaw’s 48 and Abhimanyu Easwaran’s 27* to end Day 2 of the first four-day match against South Africa A at 125/1 in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.

After South Africa A posted 509/7d on the board, India A openers – Panchal and Shaw – laid a superb foundation, putting up a brisk 80-run stand. Shaw narrowly missed out on a half-century, his 45-ball 48-run knock, which included nine fours. Panchal was then joined by Easwaran and the two made sure India A continued their good work with the bat. The duo put up an unbroken 45-run stand, denying South Africa A any further success before stumps.

Earlier, South Africa A, who resumed their innings at the overnight score of 343/3, lost two early wickets on Day 2 as India A speedsters Arzan Nagwaswalla and Navdeep Saini dismissed Jason Smith and Pieter Malan respectively. However, South Africa A wicketkeeper Sinethemba Qeshile, who scored an unbeaten 82, and George Linde added 102 runs together.The partnership was broken soon after South Africa A moved past 450 as leg-spinner Rahul Chahar got Linde out for 51. While Marco Jansen scored 17, he was run-out by Shaw before South Africa A declared their innings at 509/7.

Brief Scores: South Africa A 509/7 (Malan 163, de Zorzi 117; Navdeep Saini 2/67, Arzan Nagwaswalla 2/75); India A 125/1 (Prithvi 48, Priyank 45*; Sipamla 1/28).

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SHREYAS’S BODY LANGUAGE IS HIS STRENGTH, ISHANT’S ALTERNATIVE WILL ALSO HAVE TO BE FOUND

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At present, the most talking point in cricket is Virat Kohli’s inclusion in the second test and question arises that who will be out in the playing XI for Mumbai Test. It is indeed a tricky question as Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane’s bad times are getting longer. Especially Rahane because his performance has declined significantly since the Melbourne Test. Even this year his average has come down to below 20 runs per innings.

As for Shreyas Iyer, I had said about him three years ago that one day he will be a part of the Test team. His body language is so positive that looking at him it seems that he will go a long way in the Test team. I also want to say for him on this platform that he will become the captain of Team India one day. I had predicted the players like Sehwag, Gambhir, Saurabh, Dravid, Yuvraj etc. at the time of playing for India A and their result is in front of you.

Actually Shreyas Iyer has scored a lot of runs in domestic cricket as well as his batting has been excellent in IPL. Seeing his dominance on the cricket field, it seems that there is no pressure on this player in the field. There is only a desire to perform well, which he seems to fulfill by putting good shots. Although some people may raise questions that Shreyas had come to Team India as a replacement.

Now when Virat comes, he should vacate the place but I don’t agree with that. Keeping him in the team will not only boost the morale of this player, but will also send a message that everyone wants to take forward the player who performs well. Though Karun Nair didn’t get chances despite scoring a triple century but it is equally true that you should have consistency at the national level but that was not seen in his performance.

In fast bowling, Ishant Sharma no longer appears to have the same stamina as before. This has been happening for quite some time now. I would not be surprised if Mohammad Siraj is seen bowling in the Mumbai Test.

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

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CSA confident of hosting series in a secure bio-environment

According to the CSA’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shuaib Manjra, CSA has instituted world-class standards and measures to ensure that all players, staff and officials are protected within this environment.

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The Proteas men’s team has been part of no less than eight international cricket bio-secure environments (BSEs) in total – thvese have ranged from home tours against England, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and most recently the Netherlands, to away tours to Pakistan, West Indies, Ireland, Sri Lanka and the ICC T20 World Cup in the United Arad Emirates (UAE) and Oman.South Africa is slated to host India in three Tests, three ODIs and four T20Is with the tour to commence on December 17. According to the CSA’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shuaib Manjra: “CSA has instituted world-class standards and measures to ensure that all players, staff and officials are protected within this environment. Our main focus was to safeguard the cricket biosphere by managing strict entry standards and limited movement outside of its cordon.”

Dr Manjra has emphasized that the BSE has met the highest standards set by the national government and CSA is continuously looking at ensuring that the management of the BSE is second to none in the world.

“What we have implemented at our BSE is a cordon sanitaire which offers full and continuous protection to all individuals who respect and abide by our very demanding guidelines and rules”, added Dr Manjra in an official release.

“Playing cricket in a BSE was a massive challenge for everyone involved in the game,” commented Proteas white-ball captain, Temba Bavuma. “CSA has to be commended for the way that they have gone about the BSEs. It hasn’t been an easy year for us all. Being confined to a hotel room and being restricted from leaving the hotel and having the choice – in most places away from home – between your room and the team room and little access outside the hotel takes its toll, particularly for the all-format playing members of the team and management. I’m confident that our BSEs are of the highest safety standards and the protocols are set not only with everyone’s physical well-being, but mental health in mind,” he added.

Proteas Test captain, Dean Elgar echoed Bavuma’s sentiments, saying: “It’s hard to believe that we’ve been working in these BSE conditions for a year now, but anyone who has been affected, either directly or indirectly by the COVID-19 virus, knows that this is a necessity if we want to continue playing cricket.”

“It takes a toll on a player mentally and yet this team continues to produce good results and make progress – that’s something that I personally don’t think is being spoken about enough. The measures that have been put in place and the hotels have been chosen take into account the teams’ physical and mental health needs. We don’t know how much longer we’ll be operating like this, but it’s gratifying to know that when tours come around the health and safety of all involved is a top priority,” Elgar concluded.

Chairperson of the CSA Board, Lawson Naidoo commended the resilience and fortitude of the Proteas, saying: “The Proteas have endured difficult BSE conditions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet their hunger to play the game and represent their country triumphed over all the discomfort. CSA is proud to have athletes of this calibre; those who are readily prepared to put the sport first. We accordingly thank the Proteas for their exemplary zeal and appreciate their sacrifices.”

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LIONEL MESSI TAKES HOME HIS SEVENTH BALLON D’OR

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Popular Argentine striker Lionel Messi on Monday (local time) won the 2021 Ballon d’Or, adding the seventh golden ball to his account. The 34-year-old, who is also the star player of Paris St-Germain football club, has won Ballon d’Or in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021. The official Twitter account of Ballon d’Or #ballondor tweeted, “HERE IS THE WINNER! SEVEN BALLON D’OR FOR LIONEL MESSI! #ballondor.”

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski ranked second and Chelsea’s Jorginho stood third as runners up to the Ballon d’Or. “Congratulations Leo Messi and @alexiaputellas winners of the #BallonDor2021, congratulations also to all nominated players! I won Striker of the Year Award and no player can win an individual award without strongest team and loyal fans behind him. Thank you for your support,” tweeted Lewandowski.

Gianluigi Donnarumma of PSG also took home the Yashin Trophy for goalkeeper of the year, and Pedri Gonzalez of Barcelona won the Kopa Trophy for the best young player. Alexia Putellas of Barcelona won the women’s Ballon d’Or. The Ballon d’Or ceremony crowned mainstream footballers at the Theatre du Chatelet, in Paris.

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ABID ALI, SHAFIQUE GUIDE PAKISTAN TO EIGHT WICKET WIN

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Abid Ali and Abdullah Shafique went on to play knocks of 91 and 73 respectively as Pakistan defeated Bangladesh by eight wickets in the first Test here at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium on Tuesday.

With this win, Pakistan has gained a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

Heading into Day 5 of the Test, the visitors needed just 93 more runs for the win and the opening batters made light work of the chase. Resuming Day 5 at 109/0, overnight batters Ali and Shafique started from where they left off and the duo kept Bangladesh bowlers at bay. However, the 151-run opening stand finally came to an end in the 43rd over as Mehidy Hasan dismissed Shafique (73).

Abid Ali (91) failed to reach the three-figure mark and Pakistan lost its second wicket, still, 31 runs away from the target. In the end, it was Azhar Ali (24*) and skipper Babar Azam (13*) who took Pakistan over the line by nine wickets in the first session on Day 5.

Brief Scores: Bangladesh 330 and 157; Pakistan 286 and 203/2 (Abid Ali 91, Abdullah Shafique 73; Mehidy Hasan 1-59).

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Buttler feels like he has ‘nothing to lose’ Down Under

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England wicketkeeper-batter Jos Buttler has said that he feels like he has nothing to lose in the upcoming Ashes. The five-match Ashes will begin on December 8 at the Gabba. Australia recently named Pat Cummins and Steve Smith as their new Test captain and vice-captain. “I feel like I have nothing to lose, to be honest. It’s sort of been disjointed, that year just gone. Some good form and some bad form and in the year before as well. It’s the first time I’m experiencing an Ashes series in Australia so I’m fully determined to enjoy all the challenges that throws up. I’m excited to experience it, the good the bad, and I’m sure the highs and lows along the way,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Buttler as saying.

“As a player at the minute, I’m trying to bring a fearless approach and to truly try and embrace the opportunity. I know when I get to somewhere near my best that’s going to be pretty good,” he added. Buttler has some experience of playing in Australia but it is all in the white-ball formats. He averages 38.71 from 18 ODIs Down Under.

“Familiarity with some conditions is something I can dip into and hopefully not be surprised by. But I think the challenge always as a player is to adapt to any conditions that are in front of you and adapt quickly. The practice, when you can practice, is incredibly important for that and your first five, 10 balls are vital as a player to understanding the conditions and playing accordingly,” said Buttler. “But certainly I will try to dip into that experience and I’m in my early 30s now so played quite a bit of cricket and hopefully know what to expect,” he added.

Talking about the Covid-19 Omicron variant, Buttler said: “It’s a hypothetical situation at the minute. Until we get told that something’s changed there’s no decision to make and it just adds to the unknown. So it’s things I don’t really need to worry about at the moment. If something like that happens I have to get the information and we can work through it and see how that looks.”

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If I get a chance to coach Axar, I can help him to become a world class spinner

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Ravichandran Ashwin has revealed that he feared his career would not survive the chaos unleashed by the Covid-19 pandemic last year.  It is good that Ashwin is still performing well. In the Kanpur Test too, he has shown his importance by taking six wickets.

Well R. Ashwin can play cricket for at least three to four more years. I am sure the coach of the team, Rahul Dravid, keeps motivating him. This player has great talent. By the way, it is also a fact that this player had to sit out during the Test series in England and was not even included in first two important matches of the T20 World Cup, but despite all this, he did not give up and whenever he got the opportunity, he performed well. In fact, it is the result of India’s little defensive thinking on foreign soil that he has to sit out and Ravindra Jadeja has been given priority over him. I don’t think anyone should be disappointed with such things.

By the way, the biggest judge of any bowler is hidden inside him. When R Ashwin feels that he is not giving his best, then he will not take time to clear the space for someone else. He is currently showing his utility for the team. Apart from his excellent bowling, his batting in the lower order also proves to be very useful for the team.

At the same time, Axar Patel has got record-breaking success in Test cricket. That is, getting five wickets five times in four Tests is a huge success. Some of his deliveries have been really good which shows the hidden talent in him. Although it is also true that till now he has got opportunities to play in India only. I haven’t seen him bowling in adverse conditions or playing on a pitch favouring seem bowling. Being a left-arm spinner, I love watching him bowl. It would be a different experience to watch him bowl on pitches where spinners don’t have anything special to do and only then can an opinion be formed about him.

Of course, if I get a chance to teach or coach this player the tricks of his left arm bowling, I can be of great help to him in making him a world class spinner.

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

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