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The cricketer who didn’t get the due he deserved

Rajinder Goel holds a record of taking over 500 wickets in Ranji trophy. If given a choice, I would rather face Bishan Singh Bedi rather than him.

SUNIL GAVASKAR

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Rajinder Goel died at the age of 77 on Sunday

In the cricketing world, some extraordinarily talented cricketers, to their bad luck, have not been able to make it to their international teams. For instance, Rajinder Goel and Padmakar Shivalkar, both left-arm spinners of the highest order, were utterly unlucky to not play for Team India. And it is chiefly because of the presence of Bishan Singh Bedi. Before Bishan’s coming, they had to contend with Bapu Nadkarni and Rusi Surti who were more of the all-rounders, and the allrounder’s genius is always the upper hand.

Once Bishan came on the scene, he was certainly miles ahead of them as far as bowling was concerned, especially because of his variations. But given the choice of facing Bedi and Goel at their peak, I would prefer to play Bishan because of his flight. Bishan gave you a chance of coming down the track and converting those deliveries into drivable balls. However, Goel, with a flatter trajectory was almost impossible to hit. Not that he could not flight the ball, but the flighting was minimal and since he could obtain turn on any track, the flighting was just not necessary.

Rajinder Goel holds a record of taking over 500 wickets in the Ranji Trophy—not to mention the wickets he has scalped in the Duleep and Irani Trophy matches—the record which will survive for a longer time. There are not many players with 400 wickets in the Ranji Trophy playing today. The only bowler in the category is Venkataraghavan, who will also take some time catching up with Rajinder Goel. Meanwhile, Goel plans to play for another year and thereby complete over 25 years of playing in the Ranji Trophy, making another record.

 I do not know if any other player has played for 25 years in the Ranji Trophy. Goel`s stamina is unbelievable for a man who is over 40 and once given the ball, he can bowl right till the end of the day’s play without seeming to lose any of the nip he possesses. It is true that the turn today is not as sharp as it used to be a few years ago, nor is the nip, off which he claimed many of his victims. However, the accuracy is still there and so is the willingness to bowl long spells

The advent of Kapil Dev on the Haryana scene has certainly taken off the load from Goel`s shoulders owing to which he does not have to work as hard as he had to before. Being a simple man and an unassuming character, Goel is a person who is an ideal to follow, on the account of his behavior on and off the field.

He is an absolute professional, always taking pride in his craft and trying to outwit the batsmen unendingly. But it is disheartening that he never got a chance to represent the country. In partnership with Bedi, he could have worked wonders, especially where victories were missed by just a few wickets, or by a few runs.

He was unexpectedly picked for the test team in 1974, however, It is a pity that he benched all the way, and instead two off-spinners were picked against the mighty West Indians, where there was no place for anybody to make a Test debut. Nonetheless, I have a feeling that the selection committee was not prepared to play him because if he would outshine, Bishan`s return to the team would have been delayed and it would have been quite embarrassing for the selectors.

He had been on the fringe of the Test cricket for a long time and played in the unofficial Test against Sri Lanka and did very well, but he was not considered good enough to be picked on a tour with the Indian team, which would have meant that he would have at least worn Indian colored uniform, even if not played in a Test match. However, the man still went on playing Ranji, and did it with pride, remaining aware of the hopelessness—of representing India—all the way.

Goel is the bowler whom I have dreaded facing in my life because I have never been comfortable against his leftarm spin. His flatter trajectory has merely allowed me to step down the track and drive.

Goel is ideal for the younger cricketers to follow. Although he is not a Test cricketer, to me he is one of the greatest I have played against and it has been my privilege.

Excerpts from Sunil Gavaskar’s book ‘Idols’, Rupa publications.

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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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