Nirmalya Banerjee, Author at Sportzwiki

Nirmalya Banerjee

Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma Should Be Obviously Partnered By Shikhar Dhawan As An Opener In 2023 ODI World Cup Reckons JP Duminy 

Rohit Sharma is an automatic pick for the opener’s slot in the 2023 ODI World Cup but who is the best fit to partner him is something that will be answered over the course of the next 12 months. The 2023 World Cup is still less than a year away but all participating teams are already planning what their perfect XI is going to be.

For India, it’s a problem of plenty as finalizing a squad with so many promising youngsters and established seniors could cause a few selections headaches. The one position that has always been up for debate is that of the opener.

Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma. Image Credits: AFP

Rohit Sharma Should Be Obviously Partnered By Shikhar Dhawan As Opener: JP Duminy

Former South Africa batter JP Duminy, however, knows his pick to partner Rohit Sharma. JP Duminy feels that although the competition is stiff for the position, he would go with Shikhar Dhawan, due to his solid record and consistency in ODIs.

At 36, Shikhar Dhawan is in the twilight of his career. Last July, he led a second-string Indian side to Sri Lanka and hoped to utilize the tour to make his place “stronger” for the 2021 T20 World Cup.

Shikhar Dhawan has stepped up his T20 game in the last couple of years, but the selectors preferred Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Ishan Kishan as their openers for the global tournament, before the unceremonious exit at the group stage of the T20I WC made the selectors bring back Shikhar Dhawan for South Africa ODIs.

In the 1st ODI against the Proteas, on a sluggish wicket, he scored 79 off 84 to keep India on track in the chase and showed he can still thrive under pressure, but his effort went in vain as the middle order batsmen faltered again.

File image of Indian cricketers Shikhar Dhawan [L] and Rohit Sharma | Sportzpics for BCCI
File image of Indian cricketers Shikhar Dhawan [L] and Rohit Sharma | Sportzpics for BCCI
The pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma has proved to be a fruitful alliance for India, having scored 4978 runs in 110 innings in partnerships. This is the fourth-highest of all time and second-highest for India after Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.

“He has been prolific for India in this format since 2019. So that’s a long period of time and if anyone is doing it as consistently as he is, you would think it would be given that he would be opening the batting for India at the World Cup. I think the question mark is always going to be who is going to be his partner. And I think it’s an obvious one in Rohit Sharma,” JP Duminy said.

In the last three years, Shikhar Dhawan has been in great nick in the 50-over format, scoring 1194 runs in 28 matches at a healthy average of 49.75 including two centuries and nine fifties.

At the same time, his form in T20Is has taken a dip with 527 runs from 22 games. Based on such impressive numbers, JP Duminy has no doubt that the Shikhar Dhawan-Rohit Sharma pair will open for India at next year’s World Cup and expects the left-handed batter to score heavily for India.

JP Duminy: KL Rahul Has Played Well In The Middle Order And Should Bat There

JP Duminy added that KL Rahul, who is also fighting for the opening slot, should bat in the middle order.

“Where does a KL Rahul slot in. We have seen him play really well in that middle order. So whose place does he take? I get that those are the questions and conditions are going to be the question mark around that. Dhawan, as we highlighted, has been prolific.”

“Not only from 2019, but he has also been consistent for a long period of time. He certainly warrants that position and I am pretty sure he is going to be there scoring runs for India,” JP Duminy pointed out.

JP Duminy (Image: Twitter)
JP Duminy (Image: Twitter)

Rohit Sharma, India’s white-ball captain is recovering well from his left hamstring injury and has a bright chance of making a comeback for the six-match home limited-overs series against the West Indies next month. The series against the West Indies comprises three ODIs and as many T20 internationals. The one-dayers will be played from February 6 to 12, followed by the T20Is from February 15 to 20.

Rohit Sharma has scored 7238 runs as an ODI opener with an average of 57.44 in 141 matches. This includes 27 centuries and 31 half-centuries. He also holds the record of three double tons as an ODI opener.

His highest score of 264 still seems unbreakable. He achieved this milestone against Sri Lanka in 2014. The first double ton came against Australia in 2013 where he scored 209 runs in an innings. He hit the third double hundred when he was the captain during the match against Sri Lanka in 2017.

Virat Kohli, KL Rahul | Photo Credit: AP
Virat Kohli, KL Rahul | Photo Credit: AP

KL Rahul And Virat Kohli Were Sitting Apart: Danish Kaneria Claims India Divided Into 2 Groups

KL Rahul’s long-term captaincy is at stake and a series defeat against South Africa isn’t going to do his case any good. India will look to make amends in the batting department after South Africa crushed them both strategically as well as on skills in the ODI series opener on Wednesday at Paarl. India had lost the Test series 2-1.

The Indian team stuttered once opener Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, recently snubbed as ODI skipper, were out in quick succession following their 90-plus stand, which eventually led to the batting camp losing wickets in a cluster and falling short of the target by 31 runs. South Africa posted 296/4 on the board after opting to bat and restricted India to 265/8 despite the requisite fifties from Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, and Shardul Thakur.

Shikhar Dhawan (Getty Images)(HT_PRINT)
Shikhar Dhawan (Getty Images)(HT_PRINT)

Danish Kaneria: Indian Dressing Room Divided Into Two Groups

Virat Kohli, playing his first game after relinquishing Test captaincy, scored 51 off 63 deliveries but former Pakistan tweaker Danish Kaneria feels the former ODI skipper wasn’t the usual exuberant self. Danish Kaneria, who bagged 261 wickets in 61 Tests for Pakistan, also pondered a divide in the dressing room after Virat Kohli’s exit from the leadership role.

“We saw that the Indian dressing room was divided into two groups. KL Rahul and Virat Kohli were sitting apart. Also, Kohli wasn’t in the same mood as he used to be when he was the captain. But he’s a team man and will come back stronger,” said Danish Kaneria on his YouTube channel.

Danish Kaneria (Image credit: Twitter)
Danish Kaneria (Image credit: Twitter)

“After losing the Test series, India would be eager to redeem themselves and clinch the ODI rubber. But KL Rahul hasn’t shown that spark until now. He had led in the Test series but wasn’t able to lift the team to break the South African partnership.

“At one stage, it didn’t look like the Proteas would put up 296 on the scoreboard. Lack of intensity from the Indian team helped the opposition in scoring such a total. There were also fielding lapses from the visitors,” Danish Kaneria further said.

Yuzvendra Chahal and Shardul Thakur were being taken to the cleaners by Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma. Debutant Venkatesh Iyer was not utilized for his bowling ability, raising question marks over his presence as an additional bowling option.

While the South African spinners left their mark on the wicket, the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin, in its combined 20 overs, gave away 106 runs for a single wicket. On the other hand, Proteas spinners Aiden Markram, Tabraiz Shamsi, and Keshav Maharaj bowled 26 overs between them for 124 runs and shared four wickets between them.

Danish Kaneria: KL Rahul Needs To Lift Up Captaincy, Batting, And Team

Danish Kaneria feels KL Rahul needs to lift up the team for the second game of the series. During India’s previous ODI series on the South African soil, spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal had combined to snare 33 wickets in six games and Danish Kaneria expects a similar performance from the current pair of Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal.

“KL Rahul needs to lift up captaincy and batting as well. He needs to lift the team. Also, Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave away many runs against South Africa and the Ashwin-Chahal pair didn’t look effective like the Kuldeep-Chahal duo. India didn’t use Venkatesh Iyer’s bowling services too.

“The next ODI will be played at the same venue and India needs to learn from their mistakes. Their intensity was poor in the series opener,” Danish Kaneria further said.

KL Rahul Image Source : GETTY IMAGES
KL Rahul Image Source: GETTY IMAGES

India will now look for a win to level the series. The hosts have gained a 1-0 lead in the three-match series and the second game will be played on the same ground on Friday. In the 2nd ODI, India opted to bat first and is placed on 119/2 after 23 overs losing the two wickets in the form of Shikhar Dhawan (29) and Virat Kohli (0). KL Rahul (43) and Rishabh Pant (36) are at the crease.

Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara. Image Credits: Twitter
Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara. Image Credits: Twitter

Cheteshwar Pujara And Ajinkya Rahane Set To Be Demoted From Grade A In BCCI Central Contracts In 2022

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane’s position in group A of the BCCI central contracts could be up for deliberation when the board finalizes its fresh list of contracted players for the upcoming season in a few days’ time.

Another big question is whether the BCCI top brass is in a mood to upgrade two future captaincy contenders — KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant — alongside Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Jasprit Bumrah in the elite A+ category.

Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)
Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)

Cheteshwar Pujara And Ajinkya Rahane Set To Be Demoted From Grade A Alongside Ishant Sharma And Hardik Pandya

The BCCI has four categories — A+, A, B, and C — which carry annual retainer ships of Rs 7 crore, Rs 5 crore, Rs 3 crore, and Rs 1 crore respectively. Normally, it is the three office-bearers, five selectors, and the national head coach, who decide retainer ships. As of now, there won’t be massive changes to the 28 names featured in the last list but there could be some serious discussions about the composition of the current groups which were in place last year.

“Obviously, Rohit, Kohli, and Bumrah being the three indispensable players across formats would be in A plus category beyond doubt. But now Rahul and Pant are slowly establishing themselves as all-format regulars, so it needs to be seen whether the duo gets a promotion or not,” a senior BCCI source said on conditions of anonymity.

Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma (PTI)
Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma (PTI)

But what could be a more debatable issue is Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane’s status after a year of consistent non-performance. Senior Indian batters Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara are most likely to be demoted in the BCCI central contracts. Their position in India’s Test team has come under intense scrutiny after their inconsistent performances with the bat for an extended period of time.

“The central contract is a performance indicator of where you stand as per your performance during the last season. If the BCCI and head coach (Rahul) Dravid decide to honour the duo and keep them in group A, then it’s a different issue but under normal circumstances, they ideally won’t feature in group A,” the source said.

Ajinkya Rahane in 2021, scored just 479 runs in 23 innings at an extremely poor average of 20.82 including just 2 50+ scores. Ajinkya Rahane, who was recently removed from the Test vice-captaincy, scored just 136 runs in the three-match Test series against South Africa at an average of 22.66.

India’s No.3 in Tests, Cheteshwar Pujara scored 124 runs in the three-match Test series against South Africa at an average of 20.66. Overall in 2021, he scored 702 runs in 26 innings at an average of 28.08 including 6 50+ scores.

The same is for pacer Ishant Sharma and all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who have both struggled due to injuries and lack of form throughout the season and the duo could feature in group B. Similarly, among the group B players of last season, only Shardul Thakur, who has had some impactful performances in Test matches, can be hopeful of promotion to group A.

Mohammed Siraj May Be Promoted From Grade C While Venkatesh Iyer May Make Maiden Cut

In current group C, Mohammed Siraj is one of the pacers who has shown tremendous improvement while Shubman Gill is one for the future along with Hanuma Vihari, who would also be expecting an upgrade. Among newcomers, the likes of all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer and pacer Harshal Patel could make their maiden cut.

Mohammed Siraj (Photo: AP)
Mohammed Siraj (Photo: AP)

According to the reports, Indian opening batsman KL Rahul, who is the stand-in ODI captain for the South Africa series, and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant are most likely to receive a promotion in the BCCI central contracts.

India’s next Test assignment is a two-match series against Sri Lanka, starting February 25 in Bengaluru and at least two middle-order slots will be up for grabs. Rohit Sharma is expected to be fit for that Test series and will take up his opening slot alongside KL Rahul while Shubman Gill will play as a middle-order batsman and both Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara are confirmed to be axed.

Last Season’s (2021) Contract List

Grade A+: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah

Grade A: Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Mohd. Shami, Ishant Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya

Grade B: Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur, Mayank Agarwal

Grade C: Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Shubman Gill, Hanuma Vihari, Axar Patel, Shreyas Iyer, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Md. Siraj.

Mark Boucher.— Twitter/@SuperSportTV
Mark Boucher.— Twitter/@SuperSportTV

Mark Boucher Charged With Gross Misconduct By CSA And May Be Sacked As Head Coach

Mark Boucher, South Africa head coach has been charged with “gross misconduct” by Cricket South Africa (CSA) in their follow-up to the preliminary findings of alleged racism in the sport in the country by Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) report.  Mark Boucher’s alleged role in discrimination experienced by former spinner Paul Adams will be looked into even as he is set to continue as the head coach of the senior national team.

South Africa’s head coach Mark Boucher is in danger of losing his job after Cricket South Africa on Thursday charged him with gross misconduct following allegations of racism against him by his former Proteas teammate spinner Paul Adams. CSA has announced a disciplinary hearing into the allegations.

Mark Boucher. (Image Credits: Getty)
Mark Boucher. (Image Credits: Getty).

Mark Boucher Charged With Allegations Of Racism By Paul Adams

CSA on Thursday appointed well respected Senior Counsel Advocate Terry Motau (SC) as chairperson of the disciplinary hearing into allegations of misconduct against Mark Boucher. It is proposed that the parties will meet with the Advocate on January 26, 2022, to determine a timetable for the proceedings.

In December, the SJN report made tentative findings regarding allegations of discrimination and racism against various persons, including Mark Boucher. Specifically, during the SJN process, allegations of racism were levelled against Mark Boucher by his former Proteas teammate Paul Adams.

South African spinner Paul Adams. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
South African spinner Paul Adams. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

In releasing his report, the Ombudsman, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, indicated that he was not in a position to make “definite findings” and recommended that a further process be undertaken in this regard. In keeping with this approach, the Board was obligated to institute further formal inquiries into CSA employees, suppliers, or contractors who are implicated by the SJN report, and this is the first of these processes.

Former spinner Paul Adams said he had been called a “brown shit” in a South Africa team song during his time in the side, which spanned a nine-year period from 1995 to 2004, including by former wicketkeeper Mark Boucher who has since apologized.

Mark Boucher Can Be Sacked As Head Coach

CSA confirmed that it has charged Mark Boucher with gross misconduct and it could lead to his dismissal from the head coach role.

However, “CSA emphasizes it is important that the independent inquiry first needs to test all allegations before any question of sanction can arise.”

The upcoming inquiry will also consider concerns and allegations that arose following the resignation of former assistant coach, Enoch Nkwe.

“The Board remains mindful of its duty to treat allegations of racism or discrimination with the utmost seriousness and in a manner that ensures fairness and due process in terms of South Africa’s Constitution and labour legislation.

“It is now up to the inquiry to determine to which extent the allegations are true and justify the need for further disciplinary steps,” CSA Board Chairperson, Lawson Naidoo said.

Cricket South Africa Image Source: TWITTER/CSAOFFICIAL
Cricket South Africa Image Source: TWITTER/CSAOFFICIAL

Mark Boucher has been a key member of the current South African unit that has achieved incredible highs even while in transition over the last few weeks. Under Mark Boucher’s watch, South Africa defeated India in a 3-Test series after coming back from behind.

The ombudsman’s report also criticized current CSA director of cricket Graeme Smith and former national team captain AB de Villiers. South Africa also outclassed India in the ODI series opener on Wednesday and will look to take a 2-0 unbeatable lead when the two sides meet in the 2nd ODI on Friday in Paarl. India won the toss and will bat first. India is fielding an unchanged team while Sisanda Magala comes in for Marco Jansen for South Africa.

South Africa made a good start to the three-match series with a comfortable 31-run win in the series opener. Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen scored centuries for South Africa; India had three half-centurions in Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, and Shardul Thakur but it went in vain as middle-order batsmen failed.

Justin Langer
Justin Langer

Aaron Finch And Pat Cummins Are Expected To Be Consulted By Cricket Australia On Justin Langer’s Coaching Contract Ending In June 2022

Aaron Finch, Australia’s limited-overs captain expects to be consulted, along with Test captain Pat Cummins, by Cricket Australia on Justin Langer’s coaching contract but he is unsure what the process will entail. Australian white-ball captain Aaron Finch has stopped short of endorsing Justin Langer but declared the reformed coach had done an “unbelievable” job in helping secure a breakthrough T20I World Cup title and later retain the Ashes.
Justin Langer’s contract is among the most discussed topics in the room at CA at the moment after the two parties mutually agreed to hold off discussions on the matter until after the Ashes 2021/22 concluded. Justin Langer’s current contract is due to expire in June after Australia’s tour of Pakistan in March and April.
Justin Langer. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)
Justin Langer. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Aaron Finch Feels Justin Langer Done A Fantastic Job As Australia Coach

Aaron Finch praised Justin Langer for his ‘fantastic job’ with the Australian team but refrains from commenting on whether he would like him to continue as head coach in the nearby future after his contract ends in June 2022. Justin Langer had taken charge of the team after the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in 2018. His current contract is due to end in June.

“I think he’s done a fantastic job,” Aaron Finch said at the 2022 T20 World Cup launch on Friday. “I think whatever happens from the Cricket Australia side of things, that’s out of our control as players, but his contract is up so no doubt there’ll be some talk there and I know Patty [Cummins] and myself might be in contact or might be contacted about that.”
“But I’ve actually got no idea. I’ve never really been in a leadership role when somebody’s coaching contract is up. But he’s done an unbelievable job and to see how good the environment has been throughout the T20 World Cup and then throughout the Ashes is a credit to everyone involved there,” Aaron Finch said.
The head coach is awaiting formal talks with CA, while former players such as Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Steve Waugh, and Shane Warne have all publicly asked why he has not yet been re-signed after winning the T20I World Cup and the Ashes 4-0 in a four-month period.
Australia- T20 World Cup 2021 winner (File pic)
Australia- T20 World Cup 2021 winner (File pic)
Justin Langer said in an interview that he was “not edgy” about his forthcoming future. But he admitted in a second interview that he didn’t know why his contract process had become so drawn out. He also cautioned against having multiple coaches for multiple formats, something that has been mooted for Australia’s men’s teams moving forward.
“There’s a lot of talk about splitting it up,” Justin Langer said. “On the surface, it seems to be the way to go. But, look, I’ve been consistent with this for ten years when I was at the WACA as well with the [Perth] Scorchers and Western Australia, it’s not as simple as that sounds.”
“For example, we go to Pakistan in a few weeks’ time for three Test matches, and then a few days later there’s three ODIs and one T20I game. So if you just have a T20 coach, for example, is he going to fly in with whole new support staff for one T20 game? It just doesn’t seem to add up. I think there’s certainly got to be someone overseeing it.” 
There’s also the management of players, they play 12 months of the year. On the surface, it looks like a good idea but when you get into the logistics of it, it’s not that simple. But it’s certainly something which will be looked at.”
Justin Langer is currently residing in Tasmania as he was unable to fly home to Perth because of Western Australia’s border restrictions. He was planning on returning home when the border was due to open on February 5, but WA Premier Mark McGowan announced on Thursday night that WA’s border would remain closed indefinitely, which has left every WA-based cricketer currently interstate unable to return to Perth without doing 14 days of isolation.
So Justin Langer is unlikely to be able to return home until after the Pakistan tour. Justin Langer and Australia’s selectors are set to convene over the coming days to pick Australia’s T20I squad for the five-match series against Sri Lanka, and will undoubtedly discuss the Pakistan touring squad during the process as they look to manage the players playing all three formats.

Aaron Finch Opens Up On Not Fully Healed Knee Injury

Aaron Finch himself will enjoy a couple of days off prior to the Sri Lanka series after Melbourne Renegades failed to make the BBL finals. He scored back-to-back half-centuries in his last two BBL games but the knee injury that troubled him during the T20 World Cup and saw him miss the first part of the BBL has still not fully healed.
“It’s been better,” Aaron Finch said. “It’s been worse as well. It’s okay. I’ll get through for a little while longer.”
Aaron Finch ©Reuters
Aaron Finch ©Reuters

Australia has witnessed four months of success including the 2021 T20I World Cup triumph followed by Ashes 2021/22 victory after stories emerged that the players were unhappy with Justin Langer’s management style.

Andrew Strauss. Photo- Twitter
Andrew Strauss. Photo- Twitter

Michael Vaughan Believes Andrew Strauss Should Become Next ECB Chairman

Michael Vaughan believes Andrew Strauss should become the next ECB chairman and “drive-through change” for England’s Test team after Ashes 2021/22 drubbing.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison has claimed the 4-0 thrashing England suffered at the hands of Australia in the Ashes is a “brilliant opportunity” for a reset and team director Ashley Giles is responsible for conducting a review into the defeat.

Michael Vaughan (Image Credit: Twitter)
Michael Vaughan (Image Credit: Twitter)

Michael Vaughan: Andrew Strauss Would Make A Great Chairman Of ECB

Andrew Strauss will play a key role in examining that report and currently attends ECB board meetings in a non-voting capacity in his role as Chair of the Cricket Committee.

Michael Vaughan believes Andrew Strauss is the right man to take over as ECB chairman, with the board still looking to appoint a permanent successor to Ian Watmore, having successfully spearheaded a major overhaul of England’s limited-overs side which culminated in the 2019 World Cup win.

“Andrew Strauss would make a great chairman of the ECB,” Michael Vaughan said.

“I think he is the person to drive through change. He was here four years ago and, after another 4-0 defeat to Australia, he wrote a report saying we need better pitches, and a different ball in county cricket. Nothing happened, possibly because he left soon after the tour.”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has called for the ECB to appoint Sir Andrew Strauss as their new chairman
Former England captain Michael Vaughan has called for the ECB to appoint Sir Andrew Strauss as their new chairman ( Image: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)

“He commands respect and knows exactly what is required. No county chairman would look at Strauss and say: ‘Sorry, I disagree with your views on red-ball cricket.’ He knows what needs to happen, and that enough is enough. The line in the sand with our white ball cricket was the 2015 World Cup and this is the moment for red ball cricket.”

Andrew Strauss is credited with leading England’s white-ball cricket overhaul that saw them becoming the ODI World Champion in 2019. Michael Vaughan feels he’s the right person “to drive through change. Drawing parallels between England’s disastrous show at the 2015 ODI World Cup and the Ashes 2021-22 thrashing at the hands of Australia, Michael Vaughan thinks this is the right time to revive red-ball cricket.

Michael Atherton Believes Andrew Struss Should Replace Tom Harrison

Michael Atherton also believes Andrew Strauss should be more involved at the ECB but feels he should replace Tom Harrison instead.

“Harrison is in the final stretch of a seven-year stint as chief executive, and is expected to leave within the next 12 months,” Michael Atherton wrote.

“Strauss is exceptionally capable and should be persuaded to take the job when Harrison goes. No one in English cricket is better qualified.”

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison Getty Images
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison Getty Images

The England team was seen without a fight barring the fourth Test match in Sydney, as they were battered and humiliated with increasing levels for the remainder of the four-Test matches. In Brisbane, England lost the series opener by 9 wickets. In a D/N Adelaide Test, Australia routed England by a massive 275 runs.

The humiliation was at its peak in Melbourne when England was bowled out for 68 and lost the Boxing Day Test by an innings and 14 runs when Australia had barely managed 276 runs in their only innings.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad batted out nervous four overs to secure a draw at SCG. The story continued in Hobart, in the second D/N Test, as England was thrashed by 146 runs suffering a collapse in the fourth innings which saw them going from 68/0 to 124 all-out.

Team Director Ashley Giles will submit the review report to the ECB while Andrew Strauss will play a key role in advising the board’s executives about the future of the England Test side. Coincidentally Andrew Strauss was the captain when England last time won a test match in Australia as they beat Australia by 3-1 in the Ashes 2010-11. Since then England played 13 Test matches and lost 12 of those, only one test ended in a draw.

Kevin Pietersen file image | Faheem Hussain - Sportzpics
Kevin Pietersen file image | Faheem Hussain - Sportzpics

Kevin Pietersen Backed Rohit Sharma To Take Over As India Test Skipper

Kevin Pietersen has backed ‘great leader’ Rohit Sharma to take over as India Test captain while suggesting that “harsh” bio-bubble life could be one of the reasons for Virat Kohli quitting the captaincy.

Virat Kohli shocked the cricketing world when he announced his decision to quit the Test captaincy. It came a day after India lost a 3-match Test series to relatively inexperienced South Africa in South Africa. Virat Kohli brought an end to his 8-year tenure as Test captain during which he emerged as India’s most successful skipper in the longest format of the game, by winning 40 Tests out of 68 which he captained.
Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Image Source: AP IMAGE

Kevin Pietersen Will Probably Stick With Rohit Sharma As He Loves The Authority He Commands

Rohit Sharma was recently appointed as the vice-captain of India’s Test team but he was not part of the recently-concluded 3-match series in South Africa due to a hamstring injury. Rohit Sharma took over after Ajinkya Rahane was sacked from the role as Test vice-captain over a dip in form. KL Rahul was then assigned the role and he led India in the 2nd Test when Virat Kohli was injured and the ODI series that followed.

Kevin Pietersen said that Rohit Sharma makes fabulous decisions as a captain and his record with Mumbai Indians speaks volumes about that. Rohit Sharma is the designated Test vice-captain and by natural progression, if all goes well and he is fit, Rohit Sharma will be leading India in Test cricket.

Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma. Image Credits: Twitter

“You (India) are so lucky that you have so many options for the captain. I will probably stick with Rohit Sharma. He is a great leader, I love the authority he commands. He makes fabulous decisions and we’ve seen them with Mumbai Indians, he has won so many titles with them. More importantly, I am really looking forward to how Rahul Dravid is with that team – can he do it with the youngsters, can he do it with the big guys,” Kevin Pietersen said.

Rohit Sharma, who was named ODI captain earlier this month replacing Virat Kohli, was to travel to South Africa as vice-captain for the Test series which began on December 26 but a hamstring injury during training ruled him out. He had taken charge as T20I captain against New Zealand last month.

Mumbai Indians-the most successful franchise in the history of the IPL has won five titles in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2020, all under Rohit Sharma’s leadership.

Kevin Pietersen Isn’t Shocked At Virat Kohli’s Decision To Quit As Test Skipper

Kevin Pietersen said he was not surprised when Virat Kohli quit the captaincy of all formats. With 40 wins and 17 losses in 68 Tests as captain, Virat Kohli is India’s most successful Test leader.

“Virat is an entertainer and for any athlete, it is very difficult to live in these bio bubbles. It does not just take a toll on the players but their families too. Something had to burst and the bubbles have to burst sometime or another. Virat is an entertainer and these bubbles may have taken a couple of years away from Virat’s career. As a player, if you give me no crowd it is very difficult to play. So I am not shocked (at Virat’s decision) When the crowds do come back, you watch Virat Kohli go again,” Pietersen added.

Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen. Image Credits: Twitter

Virat Kohli on Saturday announced that he is stepping down as the captain of the Indian Test team. Last year, the 33-year-old had stepped down as the T20I captain and then he was removed as the ODI leader as the selectors wanted one captain for the white-ball format.

The disappointment of not being able to win a Test series in South Africa in two attempts (2017-18 and 2021-22) as captain and the personal form of not being able to score a Test hundred in 2 years may have cluttered his mind for long and made him take this decision.

Rohit Sharma, left, and Ravichandran Ashwin are among the cacandidates to replace Virat Kohli as India's Test captain (Agencies)
Rohit Sharma, left, and Ravichandran Ashwin are among the cacandidates to replace Virat Kohli as India's Test captain (Agencies)

Dilip Vengsarkar Would Appoint Rohit Sharma Or Ravichandran Ashwin As A Stop Gap Test Skipper

Dilip Vengsarkar reckons anyone amongst Rohit Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin should be India’s new Test skipper while the former captain and Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar alongside India’s 2011 World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh are batting for star wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who slammed a hundred in the final Test, to take over as the new Test captain.

Indian cricket is in the midst of a massive debate regarding who should be the next Test captain of India post-Virat Kohli vacating the post. At the moment, sources point towards Rohit Sharma — who is already India’s white-ball captain in Virat Kohli’s place — being the top favourite for the position. Rohit Sharma was appointed as the vice-captain of India’s Test side before the tour of South Africa before a hamstring injury ruled him out.

Dilip Vengsarkar file image | Sandeep Shetty / IPL/ SPORTZPICS
Dilip Vengsarkar file image | Sandeep Shetty / IPL/ SPORTZPICS

Dilip Vengsarkar Would Appoint Rohit Sharma Or Ravichandran Ashwin As A Stop Gap Skipper And Groom The Future Captain

Former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar, though, recommends that, for now, anyone amongst Rohit Sharma or Ravichandran Ashwin should be the new skipper of India’s Test team, as Rishabh Pant and opener KL Rahul aren’t yet ready for the job.

“I would appoint Rohit or Ashwin as a stop-gap captain and groom the future captain. Right now, you need somebody with captaincy experience and an assured place in the Test side. Rohit and Ashwin have established themselves in Test cricket,” Dilip Vengsarkar said.

“Pant, Rahul, or Shreyas (Iyer) need another year before they’ll be ready for the job. Pant has proved his mettle but needs to work on his shot selection. Till then, either of them can be asked to captain India in the white-ball format, and be the vice-captain in Tests. Those ways, they’ll get to observe and learn how to lead the Indian team,” Dilip Vengsarkar added.

Ravichandran Ashwin, Rohit Sharma
Ravichandran Ashwin, Rohit Sharma

Back in 2007, Dilip Vengsarkar, who was then the chairman of the selection committee, and his panel had appointed then veteran leg-spinner Anil Kumble as the Test captain for the series against Pakistan, when everyone thought MS Dhoni would be appointed for the job.

“We wanted to give some more time to Dhoni before he took the Test captaincy. He was already the white-ball captain, and we wanted him to learn a few things by following Kumble closely. Kumble led India superbly in that period,” Dilip Vengsarkar recalled.

The 116-Test veteran blamed the previous selection committees over the years for the leadership crisis in Indian cricket following Virat Kohli’s exit as captain.

“It has been caused over the years by the selectors’ lack of vision in grooming a captain for the future. Like we groomed Dhoni, they just haven’t identified the right man to replace Kohli as a captain. I just couldn’t understand why Shikhar Dhawan was named as the captain of India’s tour of Sri Lanka last year,” Dilip Vengsarkar opined.

Virat Kohli’s decision to retire comes after India was defeated by South Africa in the Cape Town Test by 7 wickets. The tourists slumped from taking a 1-0 lead to lose the series 2-1. The 33-year-old led India in 68 games and won 40, becoming the country’s most successful Test captain in the process.

Milind Rege Mentions Rohit Sharma Is His Choice As Test Skipper And Is Critical Of KL Rahul’s Captaincy In the 2nd Test

KL Rahul led India in the second South Africa Test after Virat Kohli missed the match due to injury (upper back spasms). KL Rahul is also leading India in the three one-day matches in South Africa after Rohit Sharma failed to recover from an injury, missing both Test and ODI series.

“Rohit is my choice. He’s still got a lot of cricket in him. By virtue of being the best batsman in the team today, he’s a certainty in the side. He’s got the tactical skills for captaincy. He’s a good man-manager. He’s an experienced, cool, responsible guy. All this talk about giving captaincy to someone for a decade is nonsense,” said former Mumbai captain and chief selector Milind Rege.

Milind Rege too was critical of KL Rahul’s captaincy during the second Test against South Africa at Wanderers, which India lost.

“Captaining India is not easy. Rahul, I thought, was found wanting as a captain. His inexperience of captaining a team — leading an IPL team is completely different to captaining a side in a Test match — cost us dear. You could’ve waited before asking him to lead the team in a Test. A vice-captain doesn’t need to automatically become the captain,” Rege explained.

Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)
Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)

Rishabh Pant, though, has his backers.

“This is the perfect time to make him Test captain. He’s 24, and in fine form and could be a long-term option. Captaincy might also bring out the best in him,” said ex selector Sarandeep Singh.

Ajinkya Rahane has captained India in 6 Tests, remaining unbeaten with 4 wins and 2 draws. Ajinkya Rahane was last appointed as the captain of the Indian team for the first Test against New Zealand in November 2021, as Virat Kohli had been rested. But KL Rahul, who had replaced Ajinkya Rahane as India’s Test vice-captain, stood in for the Delhi-born Virat Kohli when he was injured for the 2nd Test against and in South Africa.


Aakash Chopra Calls For A Relook At Indian Batting Coach Vikram Rathour’s Contributions As Batsmen Failed In South Africa 2021/22 Tour

Aakash Chopra, the former Indian opener turned commentator wants a relook at present India batting coach Vikram Rathour’s contributions amid a stark decline in the team’s performances with the willow as evident in the recent South African tour.

Aakash Chopra remarked that as people have taken credit for the improvement in the bowling department, the “buck has to stop somewhere” for the dipped averages of the middle order batting trio of Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, and Cheteshwar Pujara in the last couple of years or so.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra: One Need To Look Whether Vikram Rathour Is Doing His Job As A Batting Coach Well

He said India needs to see if there have been any shortcomings in Vikram Rathours work and how he has addressed them. Ajinkya Rahane has managed just 479 runs in 2021 at a paltry average of 20.83 while Cheteshwar Pujara has scored 702 runs at an average of 28.08. Virat Kohli too ended the year 2021 without scoring a century in international cricket. His last ton came in a Test against Bangladesh in 2019.

In a video on his Youtube channel, Chopra said: “Everyone has taken credit for India’s bowling improvement. Some people gave credit to Virat Kohli, some to Bharat Arun, some to Ravi Shastri. Everyone said, ‘Indian bowling has improved a lot’. But who is responsible for the batting decline? … If you are taking credit then responsibility needs to be taken as well. The decline is palpable. Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli’s numbers have dipped in the last 2-2.5 years so where’s the batting coach?”

The former India batter added: “The batting coach has the responsibility and the buck has to stop somewhere. Vikram Rathour, who is with the team for quite some time, you need to look at him again whether he’s doing his job well and if not then what are the shortcomings and how is he addressing them.”

Batting coach Vikram Rathour- PTI
Batting coach Vikram Rathour- PTI

Vikram Rathour was appointed batting coach in late 2019. While the likes of head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun, and fielding coach R Sridhar left last year, Vikram Rathour was the only coach to get an extension. However, India’s well-documented overseas success, which began at the same time as his arrival, has been mostly attributed to the fitter and more incisive bowling group.

Their consistency papered over the batting cracks, especially in the middle order. But it all came to a head in the recent series in South Africa, where the bowlers failed to bail out the struggling batting lineup in the last two Tests.

Aakash Chopra: The Coach Is Suddenly Like A Football Manager With An Enhanced Role As Coach’s Role Becomes More Important Than Captain

Speaking on the second major issue presently associated with Indian cricket – Virat Kohli’s sudden stepping down from the Test captaincy, Aakash Chopra said newly-appointed head coach Rahul Dravid’s job has got even tougher.  He feels that in this phase, Rahul Dravid’s role in designing India’s future path will be more important than the new captain, almost like a football club manager.

Aakash Chopra explained: “It’s difficult for the coach because he’s a new coach. If he had been there for a long time then he would have a blueprint ready for the new captain. Now there’s a new captain, a new coach and they have to travel a new path… In cricket, the captain is the most important and the coach is just below him. But in such situations, the coach goes up and the captain comes a bit behind him because there’s a guarantee of the coach’s continuity. The coach is suddenly like a football manager with an enhanced role.”

Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo: Twitter)
Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra also lamented India’s failure to build a leadership group to succeed Virat Kohli who resigned as India’s most successful Test skipper with 40 Test wins in 68 Tests. He said there had been a “slight mismanagement” with regards to the trust shown in Ajinkya Rahane as a captaincy prospect despite his poor form.

Aakash Chopra added: “We’ve failed to create a leadership group, honestly speaking. If Ajju had been in good form it would have been a natural succession. That was certainly a plan but his performances were on a downswing in the last two years and we were not ready to look at anywhere else because we believed that Kohli is going to continue for a long time. That didn’t happen and there’s been a slight mismanagement.”

After opting to bat, South Africa lost their opener, Janneman Malan, early in the fifth over of the first ODI against India at the Boland Park In Paarl against India. Jasprit Bumrah was the wicket-taker and he along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar has bowled well so far.

India Playing XI: KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Venkatesh Iyer, Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal

Pat Cummins
Pat Cummins (File Photo)

Pat Cummins Has Signed Up For IPL 2022 Mega Auction

Pat Cummins, the Australian Test skipper has revealed that he has signed up for the 2022 IPL mega auction. The right-arm pacer also confirmed that as things stand, he is willing to play the IPL.

Pat Cummins also added that a player should individually be aware of his workload, and said that some cricketers can manage their workload better than others.

Pat Cummins Credit: AAP
Pat Cummins Credit: AAP

Pat Cummins Have Signed Up For IPL 2022 Auctions

Pat Cummins made headlines after getting picked by KKR for a whopping amount of INR 15.50 crore in the IPL 2020 auction. He picked 21 wickets in his second stint with KKR but was not available for the UAE leg last season as he wanted to be with his wife for the birth of their child.

“I’ve signed up for the auction at this stage. I’ll probably have a bit more of a think about it before that auction date. At this stage, I plan to do the IPL. I have no advice for anyone else. I think you’ve got to be aware of (workloads), it could be a lot of time on the road, some people manage that better than others,” said Cummins as quoted by Cricket Australia.

Pat Cummins, Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2021[photo: Twitter]
Pat Cummins, Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2021[photo: Twitter]

Pat Cummins also added that a player should know what he is signing up for. Adding that he will have to endure the bubble life for some more time, the 28-year-old concluded by stating that people are aware of what they will have to go through.

“You have to know what you’re signing up for. It could be a long-ish winter but the last couple of winters have been quiet at home. The traditional tours are still a little way away, it will be bubbles for a little bit longer. Everyone has to be aware of it,” concluded Cummins.

Pat Cummins was last seen on a cricket field in the 5th Ashes 2021/22 Test match against England. He scalped a total of 7 wickets in the match and played a key role in helping the kangaroos thrash their arch-rivals by a margin of 146 runs.

Pat Cummins Took 38 Scalps In 37 IPL Games

Pat Cummins’ stint as the full-time Test skipper of the Australian side started in splendid fashion after Australia routed England by a margin of 4-0 in The Ashes series. Talking about the IPL, the right-arm seamer has played 37 matches in the tournament and has taken 38 wickets at an average of 30.13.

It was back to purple and gold for the pacer who picked 12 wickets in 14 games that included a 4-wicket haul in the 2020 IPL season. He bowled well in IPL 2021 picking 9 scalps in 7 games averaging 26.33 besides scoring 93 runs averaging 31. Although Pat Cummins missed the second Test in Adelaide after he was identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 positive case, he ended as the leading wicket-taker of the series.

Australia's Mitchell Starc
Australia’s Mitchell Starc  Image Credit: AFP

Pat Cummins snubbed 21 wickets from four games, two more than his long-time teammate Mitchell Starc. This is the third time in a row that Pat Cummins picked the most wickets overall in the Ashes.

Australia’s 4-0 win against England in the Ashes Test series is the first feather in the hat of skipper Pat Cummins. He was named Australia’s captain ahead of the Ashes 2021/22 series and a sweeping victory will only boost his morale.

The skipper played just four Tests in the series but had scalped 21 wickets in the process. Pat Cummins will next lead the team to Pakistan in March, and he would want to continue the winning streak.  After 1998, this is the first time the Australian side is touring Pakistan.

In the tour, Australia and Pakistan will lock horns for three Tests, three ODIs, and one T20 international, starting from the 3rd of March to April 5.

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