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

Salman Butt. Image-Twitter
Salman Butt. Image-Twitter

It’s Like Doctor Giving Medicine To Fully Fit Person – Salman Butt On India’s Captaincy Shift

Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt weighed in his thoughts on India’s below-par performance in the first ODI against South Africa. He opined that India lacked the energy in the field under Rahul’s leadership as he suggested a couple of changes for India in their XI.

In the first ODI at Paarl, the hosts South Africa put on a total of 296/4 in 50 overs. In response, the visitors fell short by 31 runs despite the fifties by Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli. India collapsed from 138/1 to 265/8. Indian middle-order with the likes of Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, and debutant Venkatesh Iyer failed to capitalize the start given by Dhawan and Kohli.

Controversial Pakistan batsman Salman Butt
Controversial Pakistan batsman Salman Butt (File Photo | AFP)

“A settled leader like Kohli or Rohit would have taken a different approach”- Salman Butt

Reviewing the match on his Youtube channel, Salman Butt opined that the captaincy shift is the biggest reason behind India’s lackluster performance on Wednesday. He also suggested a couple of changes in the XI to turn things around.

“It’s like a doctor giving medicine to a fully fit person. This is one of those unfortunate reasons where everything seems upset. According to me, the immediate remedy is Rahul keeping the wickets and bat at his usual ODI position. India need to add an extra batter at the top and include a genuine pace bowler in place of Bhuvneshwar.

“The batting order will be a bit longer and India will get a free-flowing player who can put some pressure on the opposition. Also, the middle-order will get loads of experience in presence of Rahul,” said Butt on his YouTube channel.

Butt also pointed out that the Indian team lacked energy on the field as they were going through the motion.

“The biggest problem for the selection committee was selecting the captain, not picking the team. They thought that everything will remain the same despite the change in leadership. Why fix something that’s not broken? It was an untimely move and it’s going to have repercussions. The team doesn’t look in its comfort zone. We’ve been watching the Indian team for a year and it didn’t look its energetic self against South Africa,” he added.

KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma---Image: Twitter
KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma—Image: Twitter

Butt also pointed out that Rishabh Pant should improve on his fitness standards. Pant was stumped as he lost his balance against a down-the-leg side delivery.

“The Indian middle-order lacks depth. Also, Pant needs to shape up physically. He’s talented with every shot in his book but he needs to work on his fitness. That’s not much to ask from a person who is playing at the international level. His game will elevate to a different level if he works on this aspect,” he said.

Also read I Am Solely Focused On My Duties As Head Coach Of The Proteas – Mark Boucher Responds To Racism Allegations

Butt was also surprised why Venkatesh Iyer wasn’t given a single over despite a huge partnership between Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen. As he felt that an experienced leader like Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma would have made the difference.

“Yes, Venkatesh should have bowled. When there’s a partnership on the board, a team should try out different things. India is going by a similar trend in South Africa. They persisted with Pujara & Rahane in the Test series and we are seeing a similar approach in the ODIs too.

“They haven’t thought out of the box yet. The team doesn’t want to tinker with anything when it has some unsettled issues. When you have a settled leader like Kohli or Rohit, they would have taken a different approach,” Butt concluded.

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

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Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli (BCCI)
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“Ray Jennings Predicted In 2009 That Virat Kohli Would Lead India One Day”- Dillon du Preez

Former RCB pacer Dillon du Preez revealed that Ray Jennings, who was head coach of RCB back then, predicted in 2009 that Virat Kohli would be the next Indian captain. Kohli was added to the RCB squad by a draft pick after the youngster led India to win the title of U19 World Cup in 2008.

After making his international debut in 2008, Virat Kohli had to wait for another 12 months to play the next series for India. But the RCB coach Ray Jennings was so impressed with him that he made this bold prediction 4 years early that he made his captaincy debut in 2013.

India's Virat Kohli. Credit: Reuters Photo
India’s Virat Kohli. Credit: Reuters Photo

Virat Kohli made his captaincy debut for India in 2013

In an interview with Swagcricket.com, Dillon du Preez recalled the conversation during the IPL 2009 held in South Africa.

“Virat was still a youngster in 2009, didn’t really know him that well, but from Day 1 you could see this guy could play. I remember Ray Jennings tell Virat he will be the next Indian captain, What a vision! Till today he is one of my favourites to watch,” du Preez said.

RCB ended up as runners-up in that edition as they lost the final against Deccan Chargers. Recalling the experience, du Preez said cherished the memories to play along with the legends of the game.

Virat Kohli with RCB coach Ray Jennings
Virat Kohli and Ray Jennings (FIle pic)

“Being in the change room of RCB definitely changed my life. I remember sitting there in the corner to my right I had Dravid and to my left Kumble was sitting,” he added.

du Preez played two games for RCB in that season which included a sensational debut against Mumbai Indians where he returned with sensational figures 3/32 which included a prized scalp of Sachin Tendulkar as his first wicket.

“When I looked in front of me I saw Pietersen, Kallis, Boucher, Taylor, Virat and the 2 Kumar’s (Praveen and Bhuvneshwar). I remember thinking. What the hell am I doing here. You can’t buy the experience in that change room,” he added.

Dillon du Preez is currently working as assistant coach of the South Africa women’s team. In his career, he played 92 first-class matches, 134 List-A and 86 T20s though he never got a chance to represent South Africa at the international level.

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

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Pakistan Captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan chased down India's score of 151 in 17.5 overs | Twitter | @WahabViki
Pakistan Captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan chased down India's score of 151 in 17.5 overs | Twitter | @WahabViki
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“Are You Getting Everyone Out Inside 10 Overs?”- Mohammad Rizwan Recalls A Funny Exchange With Virat Kohli

Pakistan wicketkeeper batter Mohammad Rizwan shared a funny exchange with Virat Kohli as he stated that players from both sides share a good bonding, unlike popular belief. Rizwan played a fine knock of 79 to form an unbeaten stand of 152 with skipper Babar Azam as Pakistan beat their arch-rivals by 10 wickets to break the World Cup jinx.

Recalling the match, Mohammad Rizwan shared a funny moment during India’s innings. As India lost three early wickets, Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant were building a partnership. As Pant attempted a reverse sweep, there was an LBW shout which was dismissed by the on-field umpire so Pakistan decided to review the decision. So Kohli came up to Rizwan and cheekily said if they were trying to bowl India out inside 10 overs.

Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, and Virat Kohli share a heartfelt moment after Ind vs Pak game | Photo: T20 World Cup / ICC
Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, and Virat Kohli share a heartfelt moment after Ind vs Pak game | Photo: T20 World Cup / ICC

Mohammad Rizwan became the first-ever batter to score 2000 T20 runs in a calendar year

“Some things are part of tactics. No doubt Virat Kohli is world’s No. 1. When we play cricket, it’s like family. I remember when we took the review against Pant when he played the reverse sweep, he (Kohli) said… ‘what are you doing? Getting everyone out inside 10 overs?’ But like I said, these are tactics. Later, when I walked out to bat, I spoke to him then too. Rest, whatever chats took place inside the change room, I can’t disclose but I can say that he’s a very nice person,” Rizwan spoke to Paktv.tv

Mohammad Rizwan (Image Credit: Twitter)
Mohammad Rizwan (Image Credit: Twitter)

Rizwan has been in exceptional in the year 2021 as he shattered many records. He became the first-ever batter to score 1000 T20 International runs in a calendar year. And he also became the first batter to score 2000 T20 runs. Even in Test cricket, he played some crucial knocks.

“I haven’t really given comparisons too much importance. I am only focussed on improving my game. Initially, I used to idolise Tendulkar and then AB de Villiers, but it’s not like I would like to copy them. Yes, I have learnt a lot of things watching them play. As far as learning from Pakistani legends is concerned, I have picked certain things from Misbah, Malik, Hafeez and others,” he said.

Pakistan will host Australia in March-April for 3 Tests, 3 ODIs, and one T20I. This will be Australia’s first visit to the country since 1998.

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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)
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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.

Vikram-Rathour-photo
Vikram-Rathour-photo
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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

WTC final: Pleasing to dismiss Virat Kohli, he's 'world-class' batter, says Kyle Jamieson | Photo Credit: AP
WTC final: Pleasing to dismiss Virat Kohli, he's 'world-class' batter, says Kyle Jamieson | Photo Credit: AP

There Was Pressure On Virat Kohli As His Batsmanship Has Gone Down – Atul Wassan

Former India pacer Atul Wassan believes that Virat Kohli was feeling the heat as he decided to step down from Test captaincy last week. Wassan said that things were different before when he used to set the example with the bat but his batting slump forced him to think about his captaincy role.

Quite a few things have happened for Virat Kohli as he first left RCB’s captaincy in IPL post the 2021 season then he left India’s T20I captaincy too after the T20 World Cup. Then right before the South Africa tour, he was sacked from the ODI captaincy. Then after a 1-2 loss in 3-match series against South Africa, he resigned from Test captaincy as well.

England's James Anderson (R) celebrates the dismissal of India's captain Virat Kohli (L) during the first day of third Test cricket match at Headingley cricket ground in Leeds, England. (Photo | AP)
England. (Photo | AP)

Discussing his tenure, Wassan said that he’s not surprised with the call as it has coincided with his batting slump.

“Nothing shocks me. What shocked me was MS Dhoni quitting Test captaincy in the middle of the series in Australia. I think the way things have been going by the last couple of months India’s debacle in the T20 WC there was pressure on him,” Wassan told ANI.

Kohli captained India in 68 Test matches with 40 wins and 17 losses. He never lost a home test series as captain. However, he has struggled with the bat as he hasn’t scored an international hundred since November 2019. In the last 12 months, he scored 647 runs in 21 innings with an average of 30.66 which included 5 fifties.

World Test Championship, India
Virat Kohli[photo: Twitter]

“Virat Kohli never expected that he would lose his 50-over captaincy because his goal was to win the World Cup”

“He is not getting runs. At times, he is pointing fingers at other players and as a captain, he must do that to egg them on and I totally support him for that but the problem was that earlier he was leading by example but lately, the thing is his batsmanship has come down,”  Wassan added.

“Every batsman, every player goes through that and it could accentuate that he was captaining all three formats. He also started the conundrum when he said he doesn’t want to do T20 captaincy which was the right decision but I think the board actually took it in a skewed manner and he never expected that he would lose his 50-over captaincy because his goal was to win the World Cup. This was what was missing from his cupboard,” he said.

The first ODI against South Africa at Paarl has been the first game for Virat Kohi as non-captain for India since October 2016.

Also read How Would We Indians Feel If An Overseas Team Captain Did This Going To The Stump Mic – Sunil Gavaskar

File image of former India captain Sunil Gavaskar | AFP
File image of former India captain Sunil Gavaskar | AFP

How Would We Indians Feel If An Overseas Team Captain Did This Going To The Stump Mic – Sunil Gavaskar

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar slammed Indian players’ outbursts in the Cape Town test match. Gavaskar said that the situation could have been avoided if Virat Kohli handled it with composure and calmness.

On day-3 of the Cape Town Test match, this whole drama panned out when Dean Elgar was given LBW against the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin by an on-field umpire.

It looked plumb but as he reviewed the decision, the hawk-eye projection stunned everyone as it showed that the ball would go over the stumps. The umpire Marais Erasmus was seen saying, “It’s impossible!

Sunil Gavaskar. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Sunil Gavaskar. (Photo Source: Twitter)

“Tempers are lost on a sporting arena”- Sunil Gavaskar

Then Indian players fired a series of comments through stump mic, starting with the bowler Ravichandran Ashwin himself. Ashwin said, “You’ve got to find better ways to win, SuperSport!”

Then skipper Kohli came towards stump mic and said, “Focus on your team while they shine the ball. Not just the opposition. Trying to catch people all the time.”

India lost control of the match as they conceded a flurry of boundaries in the next 30-40 minutes.

Virat Kohli’s stump-mic comments have attracted plenty of criticism | Screengrab
Virat Kohli’s stump-mic comments have attracted plenty of criticism | Screengrab

Speaking about the controversy, Gavaskar said that the matter should have been handled with more composure. In the heat of moments, things happen but Indian players must draw the line somewhere.

“When you are playing for your country. When you are trying your best to win, every single moment that you are out there, you can lose your composure and cool. If you say something while you are walking, it’s a different matter, but when you go towards a stump mic – you know it is going to pick up stuff – then it doesn’t look good so that was something that was avoidable,” Gavaskar spoke on Sports Today.

Gavaskar also warned how Indians would feel if some visiting captains had done the same in India.

“Tempers are lost on a sporting arena. You see any sports – whether it is football, cricket or any other sport – tempers are lost. I don’t think they were trying to insinuate something But if you look at it, how would we Indians feel if an overseas team captain did this went to the stump mic and say something to the television channel covering the series. We wouldn’t accept it,” added Gavaskar.

India lost the series by 1-2 as they were chasing their first-ever series win in South Africa.

Also, read India-West Indies Series Schedule Likely To Be Revised Due To COVID-19

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