Aakash Chopra | Sportzwiki

Aakash Chopra

Pakistan AFP / Lindsey Parnaby
Pakistan AFP / Lindsey Parnaby
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Pakistan Will Help India If They Defeat New Zealand In 2021 T20I World Cup: Aakash Chopra

Aakash Chopra believes a Pakistan win against New Zealand in tonight’s T20 World Cup 2021 encounter will help Team India’s cause.

The Indian team was handed a comprehensive 10-wicket drubbing by Pakistan in their T20 World Cup opener. The Virat Kohli-led side has a week’s break before they take on New Zealand in their second Super 12 encounter on October 31.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra: Pakistan Will Help India’s Cause If They Defeat New Zealand

Aakash Chopra pointed out that the Babar Azam-led side can do Team India a favour by defeating the Kiwis. At the same time, he previewed the Pakistan-New Zealand encounter in a video shared on his YouTube channel.

He explained: “I feel Pakistan will help India if they defeat New Zealand. But if it happens the other way round, New Zealand beats Pakistan, it can be a three-way tie, the net run rate story can come if India beats New Zealand and assuming the three teams win their remaining matches.”

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

The cricketer-turned-commentator added that Pakistan will have one foot in the semi-finals if they put it across the Black Caps.

Aakash Chopra reasoned: “If Pakistan beat New Zealand, then only Afghanistan will be there in between and two teams who have come from the qualifiers – Scotland and Namibia. Then Pakistan through, make your place in the semi-finals and enjoy.”

Pakistan will almost certainly seal a berth in the knockout stages of the ongoing T20 World Cup with a win tonight. It would leave India and New Zealand to fight it out for the other semi-final spot from the group unless Afghanistan can spring a surprise or two.

Aakash Chopra: Pakistan Will Look For Revenge As They Felt Humiliated When New Zealand Went There And Returned Back Without Playing Any Match

Aakash Chopra highlighted that Pakistan might even be looking for revenge after New Zealand’s last-minute withdrawal from their tour recently.

He observed: “It is slightly a grudge match because Pakistan felt very humiliated when New Zealand went there and returned without giving any reason. So I feel Pakistan may have a point to prove.”

Pakistan vs New Zealand 2021
Pakistan vs New Zealand 2021. Image Credits: Twitter

The 44-year-old concluded by stating that Pakistan seems to be a well-rounded unit with both their bowling and batting coming to the fore.

Aakash Chopra said: “Pakistan is the team on song. They are playing like that, top three were anyway playing well and these conditions are going to suit Hafeez and Shoaib Malik a lot. They are bowling well. The team is looking formidable.”

Pakistan had limited-overs series against England and New Zealand scheduled at home ahead of the T20I World Cup, but the tours never came to fruition. Both boards pulled out at the last minute to tour Pakistan, citing security concerns and the wellbeing of players. New Zealand had even arrived there, but withdrew a few minutes before the toss happened.

New Zealand pulled out of their Pakistan tour even before play started in the 1st ODI in Rawalpindi. The Kiwis left Islamabad on a charter flight the next night. The Pakistan tour was Black Cap’s first tour to the Asian country since 2003, and it was made possible after receiving clearance from their security agency.

A deadly 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore saw Pakistan become a no-go destination for international teams. In between 2012 and 2015, Pakistan hosted England in the UAE, which has staged most of its “home” games since the attack. However, a rapid improvement in security in recent years has led to the return of international cricket, with Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, West Indies, South Africa, and Bangladesh touring in the past six years.

West Indies
West Indies. Image Credits: Twitter
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Don’t Know If They’ve Actually Come For The T20 World Cup Or Have Come On A Tourist Visa To Dubai: Aakash Chopra On West Indies

Aakash Chopra has questioned light-heartedly whether the West Indies have turned up at the T20 World Cup 2021 to take part in a tournament or a pleasure trip.

West Indies take on South Africa in their second Super 12 stage match of the global event. Kieron Pollard‘s side goes into the encounter after a mauling at the hands of England in their tournament opener. South Africa had lost to Australia in the first match by 5 wickets after scoring a below-par 118.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra Doesn’t Know If West Indies Came On A Tourist Visa To Dubai After Being Dismissed For 55 Against England

While previewing the West Indies-South Africa encounter in a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra raised doubts about the two-time champions’ intentions.

West Indies lost nine of their 10 wickets, looking to hit a four or a six, while 59 of the 86 balls they faced were dots, and they did not attempt to rebuild after losing early wickets. Lendl Simmons (3), Evin Lewis (6), Shimron Hetmyer (9), Dwayne Bravo (5), Nicholas Pooran (1), Kieron Pollard (6), and Andre Russell (0) didn’t contribute much with the bat. Chris Gayle ended as the top scorer for West Indies with 13 runs off 13 balls.

Aakash Chopra observed: “It is an encounter between two sides who lost their first matches. South Africa lost after a great fight but West Indies, the defending champions, we don’t know if they have actually come for the T20 World Cup or have come on a tourist visa to Dubai.”

West Indies' Andre Russell is clean bowled by England's Adil Rashid during the T20 World Cup match. (AP Photo)
West Indies Andre Russell is clean bowled by England’s Adil Rashid during the T20 World Cup match. (AP Photo)

The cricketer-turned-commentator highlighted that the West Indies can either post a massive score or get bowled out cheaply.

Aakash Chopra elaborated: “We don’t know which West Indies team will come to play. It is a team which we have been repeatedly saying that if they score can make 225 runs and if not, they won’t make even 125 and that is what happened in the last match – they made 55 in total.”

Apart from their loss against England, West Indies suffered reversals in both their warm-up encounters as well. They batted extremely cautiously in these matches against Pakistan and Afghanistan and never brought their dominant side to the fore.

Afghanistan combined a belligerent batting performance with tight bowling to stomp to a shocking 56-run win against a somewhat lethargic 2016 T20I WC defending champions West Indies in both teams’ second and final warm-up match for the T20 World Cup 2021. In their first warm-up game, Pakistan brushed defending champions West Indies aside, crushing Kieron Pollard’s side with seven wickets with 27 balls to spare.

Aakash Chopra: West Indies Collected A Team Of Aged Men

Aakash Chopra also stated that the West Indies do not have a youthful side as the selectors picked more experienced and aged cricketers like Chris Gayle (41), Lendl Simmons (36), Dwayne Bravo (37), and Ravi Rampaul (37).

Aakash Chopra pointed out: “It was reeking of arrogance at some stage. It looked like every guy was saying that runs will get scored, we are the champions and play T20 very easily. They have collected a team of aged men, which has Ravi Rampaul, Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle – they have been playing for such a long time. Even if you see Lendl Simmons.”

The 44-year-old reckons the 2016 defending champions West Indies will have an uphill task against South Africa.

Aakash Chopra explained:”You might give them a chance again if they play in a bold and carefree fashion. If the professionalism, processes and everything else that goes right, I feel South Africa will trouble them because they will push them to the back foot with their bowling.”

Aakash Chopra acknowledged that the West Indies cannot be ruled out because one player can change the course of a T20 encounter. However, he concluded by picking South Africa as the likely winners of today’s clash.
Aiden Markram (Getty)
Aiden Markram (Getty)
Australia chased down the target of 119 in 19.4 overs against South Africa, with Steve Smith scoring 34-ball 35. For South Africa, Anrich Nortje took two wickets. Earlier, electing to bowl, Australia restricted South Africa to a meagre 118 for nine. Aiden Markram scored 40 for the Proteas after their top-order crumbled. Fast bowlers Josh Hazlewood (2/19) and Mithcell Starc (2/31) took two wickets apiece, while spinner Adam Zampa (2/21) also picked 2 scalps.
In the England-West Indies match, there was no thriller in the repeat of the 2016 T20 World Cup final, as West Indies played low-percentage cricket on a difficult pitch to be bowled out for 55, a target England had to work reasonably hard to overhaul, losing four wickets and taking 8.2 overs. Between them, England spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid bowled 6.2 overs for 19 runs and took six wickets.
Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja Image Source : GETTY
Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja Image Source : GETTY
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Aakash Chopra Feels India’s Balance Will Be Compromised With Ravindra Jadeja-Virat Kohli Completing 5th Bowlers’ Duties

Aakash Chopra feels Team India will have an arduous task in getting Ravindra Jadeja and Virat Kohli to complete the fifth bowlers’ duties between the duo.

The Indian team is likely to go into the T20 World Cup with only five frontline bowling options, with Hardik Pandya unlikely to roll his arm over. The likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Suryakumar Yadav might have to be called into action if any of the regular bowlers are unable to bowl their full quota of overs.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra: If Hardik Pandya Isn’t Bowling, India Is Pegged Back Somewhat As Ravindra Jadeja Isn’t 4 Over Bowler

While reflecting on Team India’s possible bowling lineup in a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra opined that the Virat Kohli-led side might allow their opponents off the hook if both Ravindra Jadeja and the skipper bowl in the middle overs.

He explained: “When you are playing with five bowlers, Jaddu bowls in the middle overs – after the 6th and before the 14th – now if he is also going to bowl in that and you want to get an over from Kohli as well, I feel you will get stuck.”

Hardik Pandya Image Source : GETTY
Hardik Pandya Image Source: GETTY

The cricketer-turned-commentator added that Hardik Pandya’s inability to bowl will compromise Team India’s balance.  Virat Kohli was expected to sit out in India’s second warm-up match against Australia, but he instead came on the field and even bowled 2 overs for the team. Virat Kohli conceded a decent 12 runs from his spell.

Aakash Chopra reasoned: “Team India’s balance is slightly awry, let’s be honest. If Hardik is not bowling, the Indian team is pegged back a little. Jadeja, the 4-over bowler in T20 cricket, is still a bit of a question mark.”

Team India has the option to strengthen their bowling by batting all-rounder spinner Ravindra Jadeja at no.6 and playing Shardul Thakur as the seam-bowling all-rounder at no.7. But they are unlikely to go that route as it will weaken their batting considerably.

Aakash Chopra: Varun Chakravarthy Should Have Been Used Better

Aakash Chopra also questioned Team India’s handling of Varun Chakravarthy in their warm-up match against Australia. Varun Chakravarthy conceded 23 runs off 2 overs and went wicketless.

India went off to a flier in the opening stages of the game as the spinners headed by Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Rahul Chahar took four out of the five wickets. Australia then went on to set a target of 153, thanks to the heroics of Marcus Stoinis’ quick-fire 41 and Steve Smith’s well-made 57.

“I feel Varun Chakravarthy should have been used better because if you don’t do that, you will get found out. You are thinking of hiding him and I am saying to give him some confidence because he has not played international cricket.”

Varun Chakravarthy (File Photo)
Varun Chakravarthy (File Photo)

The former India opener turned commentator is slightly worried about the mystery spinner having not bowled much before the crunch match against Pakistan.

Aakash Chopra said: “If someone hasn’t played international cricket and you get him to play an India-Pakistan match straightaway, he becomes nervous. I am slightly concerned about Varun Chakravarthy.”

Varun Chakravarthy played the IPL 2021 final for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) against the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on October 15. The team management might have also wanted the injury-prone bowler to get sufficient rest, apart from keeping the mystery spinner away from glaring eyes. He picked 17 wickets in the 2020 IPL season at an average of 20.94 from 13 games and also 18 scalps in 17 games in IPL 2021, averaging 24.88.

Shardul Thakur | Twitter
Shardul Thakur | Twitter
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Bhuvneshwar Kumar Has Been Expensive In Warm-Up Match And Shardul Thakur May Play Instead Vs Pakistan: Aakash Chopra

Aakash Chopra feels Bhuvneshwar Kumar is not a certain pick for Team India’s T20 World Cup opening fixture against arch-rivals Pakistan. He added that the Virat Kohli-led side might consider playing Shardul Thakur instead.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar was taken to the cleaners by the England batsmen in last night’s warm-up encounter between the two sides. The swing bowler failed to take a single wicket and conceded 54 runs in his four-over spell.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra: Bhuvneshwar Kumar Has Been Too Expensive In Warm-up And Shardul Thakur May Play Instead Against Pakistan

Aakash Chopra highlighted Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s below-par performance, while reviewing India’s bowling performance in a video shared on his YouTube channel,

“Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been expensive. He is not looking a patch of his usual self. He has a lot of experience but I am not 100% convinced that you can play him in the XI against Pakistan. I will be thinking about Shardul Thakur.”

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Image Credit: Twitter)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Image Credit: Twitter)

The cricketer-turned-commentator added that Rahul Chahar’s expensive spell has sealed Varun Chakravarthy’s spot as Team India’s second spinner.

Aakash Chopra had the following to say about the two Indian spinners on display: “Rahul Chahar was very expensive. That means I see Varun Chakravarthy playing the next match and against Pakistan. Ravichandran Ashwin bowled well, bowled off-spin as well in the first couple of overs but will you see him playing as the third spinner if three play.”

Rahul Chahar castled Dawid Malan for his only wicket but was taken for 43 runs in his four-over spell. Although Ravichandran Ashwin went wicketless, he conceded just 23 runs in his four overs.

Aakash Chopra: Mohammed Shami Did His Job To Pick Wickets And Jasprit Bumrah Was Economical

Aakash Chopra named Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami as Team India’s preferred seam-bowling options.

“Mohammed Shami did his job and picked wickets and Bumrah was economical. Mohammed Shami’s yorkers are falling in place but he can also be expensive but then Bumrah is your No.1 fast bowler and Mohammed Shami is your second fast bowler. That was a big takeaway.”

Indian pacer Mohammed Shami (Photo | PTI)
Indian pacer Mohammed Shami (Photo | PTI)

While pointing out that India might not have the luxury of a sixth bowling option, the 44-year-old concluded by stating that Varun Chakravarthy and Shardul Thakur should be fielded in the next warm-up match against Australia.

Aakash Chopra observed: “It is almost confirmed that India are not going to get a sixth bowler because Hardik has not bowled even now. You should definitely play Varun Chakravarthy and Shardul Thakur against Australia.”

With Bhuvneshwar Kumar still looking out of sorts, Shardul Thakur might be preferred over him as Team India’s third pacer. Ravichandran Ashwin might have also stolen a march on Rahul Chahar as the third spinner if India opts to go with a spin-heavy attack. It will be interesting to see what playing XI, India will select in their second warm-up match against Australia, scheduled to be played on Sunday.
West Indies players celebrate with the T20 WC Trophy [Image-Getty]
West Indies players celebrate with the T20 WC Trophy [Image-Getty]
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Aakash Chopra Shocked At 2016 Defending T20I World Cup Champions West Indies Batting Display Against Pakistan

Aakash Chopra has criticized the West Indies’ timid batting approach in their T20 World Cup warm-up encounter against Pakistan.

The West Indies managed just 130/7 in their allotted 20 overs against Pakistan. However, the Babar Azam-led side chased down the 131-run target easily with seven wickets in hand and 27 deliveries to spare.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra Criticizes West Indies’ Timid Lacklustre Batting Approach In Warm-Up Game Against Pakistan

While reviewing the West Indies-Pakistan encounter in a video shared on his YouTube channel, questioned the Kieron Pollard-led side’s batting approach.

He said: “What were the West Indies players doing? What were they waiting for? I mean when will you hit, will you hit or not? The most surprising part was that they weren’t even trying.”

Chris Gayle PTI
Chris Gayle PTI

The former India cricketer added that the West Indies’ excruciatingly slow batting was unbecoming of the defending champions.

Aakash Chopra elaborated: “Did nobody tell them that it was a T20 encounter and not a Test match or an ODI where it will work by going extremely slowly. Here, in the race between a hare and a tortoise, it’s not the tortoise but the hare who wins. It didn’t look like they were anything like the defending champions.”

The West Indies scored just 68 runs in the first 15 overs of their innings and also lost four wickets in the bargain. None of their top four batters – Lendl Simmons, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, and Roston Chase – scored at even run-a-ball. Lendl Simmons (18 of 23), Andre Fletcher (2 of 6), Chris Gayle (20 of 30), and Roston Chase (9 of 13) failed.

Aakash Chopra: Kieron Pollard Only Batsman To Show Big Hitting Prowess

While lauding Pakistan’s disciplined bowling effort, Aakash Chopra was slightly disappointed with Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran’s batting efforts. Shimron Hetmyer scored 28 off 24 balls while Nicholas Pooran scored run a ball 13.

He pointed out: “Of course, Pakistan was bowling well, Imad Wasim with the new ball and all of that, and Shaheen and Hasan but try at least, throw the bat at least. Hetmyer made 28 runs with three boundaries, Pooran again run-a-ball 13, not really looking that great.”

Kieron Pollard
Kieron Pollard(Getty Images)
The 44-year-old concluded by stating that Kieron Pollard was the only West Indies batter to show his big-hitting prowess. Kieron Pollard scored an unbeaten 23 off 10 balls, including 5 fours, to give some respect to the total after they managed only 108 in 18.4 overs.
Aakash Chopra observed: “Pollard comes later and hits five fours in an over from Haris Rauf and tells you that you can bat like that. When you can bat like that, why were the batters up the order not hitting? When will they hit? What is this team? When they start hitting, everyone can hit and if they don’t, no one feels like hitting.”
Nicholas Pooran’s six off Shaheen Shah Afridi’s bowling was the only maximum of the West Indian innings. The explosive batting lineup also hit just 14 fours during their batting effort.
For Pakistan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali and Haris Rauf took 2 wickets while Imad Wasim was economical. Pakistan’s Fakhar Zaman hit an unbeaten 46, and skipper Babar Azam scored a 50 as Pakistan chased the target successfully in the middle of the 16th over.
Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)
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Aakash Chopra On Hardik Pandya And Suryakumar Yadav Not Getting Game Time “Once Again An Unfinished Story”

Aakash Chopra believes Team India should have given middle-order batsman Suryakumar Yadav and all-rounder aggressive batsman Hardik Pandya more time in the middle by making them bat ahead of Rishabh Pant in the warm-up match against England.

Team India registered an easy seven-wicket win in their first warm-up match against strong England ahead of the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup. While KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, and Rishabh Pant shone with the bat, Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya did not get to face too many deliveries.

Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan - SPORTZPICS
Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan – SPORTZPICS

Aakash Chopra Questioned Decision To Send Rishabh Pant Ahead Of Suryakumar Yadav And Hardik Pandya

While reflecting on India’s successful run chase in a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra questioned Team India’s decision to send Rishabh Pant ahead of Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya.

He elaborated: “There was a big question in my mind that when Ishan was batting well, why did you send Rishabh Pant. End of the day, Surya made 8 runs off 9 balls, neither the form came nor went, you don’t know what really happened. Hardik Pandya, the shots he played, all balls were not hitting the middle of the bat, and once again a story which is unfinished.”

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The former India cricketer highlighted that both Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya needed a longer stint in the middle. Aakash Chopra reasoned that they needed more game time.

“You did not have a need to send Rishabh Pant there, you could have sent Suryakumar Yadav and then Hardik Pandya so that both of them would have got some game time. Rishabh Pant had scored runs just now in the IPL as well.”

Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya come into the T20 World Cup on the back of indifferent performances in IPL 2021. Although the duo seemed to be getting some of their touches back towards the end of the tournament, a little more time in the middle would have helped their cause.
Suryakumar Yadav managed only 317 runs in 14 IPL 2021 games after scoring above 400 runs every time since 2018, but Hardik Pandya had a poor IPL managing only 127 runs in 12 games averaging a pathetic 14.11.

Aakash Chopra: Undoubtedly KL Rahul Should Open

Speaking about some of the positives for Team India, Aakash Chopra opined that KL Rahul is head and shoulders above any other Indian batsman.

“The captain has said that Rahul is going to open and there is no doubt that Rahul should open. In my opinion, he is India’s best T20 batsman at this point in time, nobody comes close.”

KL Rahul
KL Rahul-Reuters.

The 44-year-old commentator concluded by stating that Ishan Kishan is unlikely to be a part of Team India’s playing XI despite his exploits with the bat.

“If you are speculating if Ishan can open or come in the middle order, you didn’t make him bat in the middle order and there is no place where you made him bat. I think Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul are your two openers however well Ishan Kishan might bat.”

Virat Kohli has already confirmed that KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma will bat at the top of the order for Team India. Kishan could play at the expense of Suryakumar Yadav or Hardik Pandya in the middle order, especially if the latter is not fit to resume bowling.

While Ishan Kishan smashed 70 off 46 balls, KL Rahul made a blazing 51 off 24. The duo featured in an opening stand of 82 in 8.2 overs as India chased down a target of 189 with ease, winning the clash by seven wickets. Ishan Kishan’s 70 off 46 balls was studded with 7 fours and 3 sixes, and his strike rate was 152.17.

Ishan Kishan retired on 70, after which Rishabh Pant (29 not out) and Hardik Pandya (12 not out) took India past the finish line in 19 overs. KL Rahul was equally impressive, smashing six fours and three sixes. His strike rate was a monumental 212.5-the best of the Indian innings as it came off only 24 balls.

KL Rahul And Rohit Sharma (Image Credit: Twitter)
KL Rahul And Rohit Sharma (Image Credit: Twitter)
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KL Rahul Should Open Alongside Rohit Sharma In 2021 T20I World Cup: Aakash Chopra

Aakash Chopra has shared his wishlist about Team India ahead of the T20 World Cup warm-up game against England. It includes KL Rahul batting at the top of the order alongside Rohit Sharma.

The 15-member Indian squad has multiple opening spot options in Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Ishan Kishan. Skipper Virat Kohli had also expressed his wish to bat at the top of the order after India’s home series last match against England.

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

Aakash Chopra:  Now That KL Rahul Is Firing And Running Better, He Should Open Alongside Rohit Sharma

While reflecting on India’s opening conundrum, in a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra highlighted that KL Rahul is in better touch than Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.

“The first thing is the batting order, who is going to open? Last time when they played, Rohit and Kohli had opened, and both had hit a lot and the talk started to make them open because Rahul was not making runs at that time. But now Rahul is firing. He is not walking; he is running and running better than Rohit and Virat.”

KL Rahul
KL Rahul (Image Credit: Twitter)

While picking Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul as his two openers, Aakash Chopra wants KL Rahul to be carefree and bat in a fearless approach.

“So, please get Rohit and Rahul to open. Virat Kohli at No.3, I want to see how Surya is batting. I want the carefree and fearless approach from Rahul. I want the big innings from Rohit because he is only showing the trailer, we haven’t seen the picture for a long time in white-ball cricket.”

KL Rahul brought his explosive side to the fore in the Punjab Kings’ last match of IPL 2021 against the Chennai Super Kings. Meanwhile, Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma got off to starts but did not play substantial knocks in the UAE leg of the tournament.

KL Rahul scored 626 runs from 13 innings in IPL 2021 while opening the batting for Punjab Kings and his last innings against Chennai Super Kings was breathtaking. The Punjab skipper smashed an unbeaten 98 off 42 balls with seven fours and eight sixes that took his overall strike rate to 138.30 at the end of the tournament.

The 23-year-old Ishan Kishan scored 84 off 32 balls and 50 not out off 25 balls at the top of the order in the final two games for Mumbai Indians, but it went in vain as the defending champions were knocked out of play-offs due to inferior net run-rate compared to Kolkata Knight Riders.

Aakash Chopra: If Hardik Pandya Is Unable To Bowl, Batting Order Will Be Changed Entirely

While naming Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya as his finishers, Aakash Chopra highlighted the question marks about the latter’s ability to bowl, though.

“Virat Kohli should continue playing the way he is playing. He anyways plays very well in the World Cup. I will keep Rishabh Pant at No.5, Hardik Pandya at No.6, and that’s my big question – Hardik Pandya’s bowling.”

The 44-year-old commentator added that India’s balance will be compromised if all-rounder Hardik Pandya can’t roll his arm over.
Aakash Chopra pointed out: “If Hardik Pandya is bowling, we are all happy. You will have to change your batting order entirely if Hardik Pandya is not bowling. How will you do that, I am unable to understand.”
Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra concluded by saying that Team India will have a formidable look if Hardik Pandya is at his best both with bat and ball, which wasn’t on show in the recently concluded IPL 2021.

He reasoned: “Hardik Pandya at No.6 is only possible if you get him to bowl and he scores runs because he has not scored runs. If he is there at No.6 and Jaddu at No.7, you will have six bowling options and two rocket batsmen at No.6 and No.7.”

Team India will have their task cut out if Hardik Pandya can’t bowl. They would either have to bat Ravindra Jadeja at No.6 if they want an extra bowling option or hope that the five frontline bowlers would do the job.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)
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Hardik Pandya Will Definitely Bowl 2 Overs In The Warm-Up Fixture Against England: Aakash Chopra

Aakash Chopra has predicted that Hardik Pandya will be seen in action with the ball during Team India’s T20 World Cup warm-up encounter against England.

Hardik Pandya has been laid low by multiple injuries of late. He did not bowl a single over for the Mumbai Indians in the recently concluded IPL 2021, and there have been doubts expressed about his ability to bowl even in the T20 World Cup.

Hardik Pandya Image Source : GETTY
Hardik Pandya Image Source: GETTY

Aakash Chopra: Hardik Pandya Will Definitely Bowl At Least A Couple Of Overs In The Warm-Up Fixture Against England

While making his predictions for the India-England warm-up encounter in a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra opined that Hardik Pandya would bowl at least a couple of overs.

He elaborated: “Hardik Pandya will definitely bowl two overs. He can bowl more than that as well but two for sure and it will soothe your and my heart if Hardik bowls because if he doesn’t bowl, the story will look very different.”

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The former India cricketer also feels the bowlers will strike a few blows in the powerplay overs.

Aakash Chopra predicted: “In the powerplay overs, the two teams will lose three wickets. There is a high probability of three or more wickets falling, that’s what I feel.”

It will be interesting to see if Team India uses just their seamers or try Varun Chakravarthy as well with the new ball. They might also not want to reveal their plans before the main event begins.
Hardik Pandya has played 49 T20Is and has averaged below 20 with the bat despite a strike rate of 145, amassing 484 runs in 49 matches. He has also taken 42 scalps averaging 26.45. As a finisher in the 2021 T20I World Cup, he would certainly look forward to amending his batting average and bowl a few overs, trying to pick crucial wickets.

Aakash ChopExpects Trio Of Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, And Rohit Sharma To Contribute In Warm-Up Fixture Against England

Aakash Chopra predicted that the trio of Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, and Rohit Sharma will make a substantial contribution as Aakash Chopra expects Team India’s top order to be amongst the runs.

He said: “Kohli, Rahul and Rohit will together score more than 100 runs. I am expecting the Indian batting engine room to score a lot of runs.”

The reputed commentator concluded by stating that India will put it across England in tonight’s match in Dubai, but even if they lose, they shouldn’t be concerned much as it’s only a warm-up fixture.

Aakash Chopra observed: “I am saying India will win this match. Even if they don’t win, who cares. This is just a warm-up game.”

Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma
Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma- Twitter

Apart from winning the encounter, India will hope to find answers to some of the open questions regarding their ideal team composition. While most of their issues will be resolved if Hardik Pandya can bowl at his best, the team management will also want to figure out their best bowling combination.

Fast bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur replaced Axar Patel in India’s squad for the T20 World Cup to be held in the UAE and Oman from October 17. The selectors wanted a cover for him with pace all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who plays for Mumbai Indians, not bowling during the IPL because of fitness issues.

MS Dhoni (Image Credit: Twitter)
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MS Dhoni May Be ‘Retained’ As A Mentor By CSK Ahead Of IPL 2022 Mega Auctions: Aakash Chopra

Aakash Chopra, former Indian opener, and commentator on Thursday (October 14), made an interesting prediction about CSK skipper MS Dhoni ahead of the IPL 2021 Final. Aakash Chopra is of the opinion that MS Dhoni will be retained by Chennai ahead of the mega auctions but not as one would expect.

MS Dhoni showed his match-winning abilities in crunch situations as his 6 ball cameo of 18 runs, including 3 fours and 1 six. CSK was in a spot of bother at 149/5, and then 160/6, and MS Dhoni contributed when it mattered most.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra: MS Dhoni Is Going To Be Retained By CSK, But He Might Be In The IPL 2022 As A Mentor, Not As A Player

MS Dhoni will next be seen in action on the field on 15th October 2021 during the summit clash of IPL 2021 against a resurgent Kolkata Knight Riders. The 2021 IPL final will be played at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

“Dhoni is going to retain CSK for sure. Now in what capacity it’s up to him. It’s never been a transactional kind of relationship between the two. MSD is equal to CSK, so if he has a season in him, which is only six months away, and if he has the desire to play as he will play,” Aakash Chopra said.

“But I`m sure he`s also mindful of the fact that next year’s big auction, a lot of money is being parked on one player for the next three seasons. If that’s going to happen then you`re going to hamper the chances of creating a good team at a big auction. So if that plays out the way I think it is, MS might be there as a mentor and not as a player,” Aakash Chopra said.

MS Dhoni (BCCI/IPL)
MS Dhoni (BCCI/IPL)

The 44-year-old feels that some things have gone Chennai Super Kings way, which led to them being exceeding expectations. He also said that Chennai went from strength to strength as they did well in their matches in Mumbai. Chennai is now in their ninth IPL final and will try to bag the trophy for the fourth time against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday in Dubai.

“Well, few things have gone their way and they have exceeded expectations, because in the first leg when they were playing in Wankhede stadium and I thought they didn’t have the side to conquer that frontier. They were extraordinary there and they have gone from strength to strength,” Aakash Chopra said.

Commenting on the players who have done well for Chennai, Aakash Chopra said, “Because the middle order hasn’t fired, so the opening partnership of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf Du Plessis has.”

“Moeen Ali in the first half of the tournament with the bat, Ravindra Jadeja`s resurgence as a T20 finisher – he did finish a couple of games on his own. Also, a lot of factors have also contributed. Lord Shardul, let`s not forget him, if they have the Lord on their side, then the light of the Lord is with them,” Aakash Chopra said.

The major reason for CSK’s success in IPL 2021 is the resounding start given by Ruturaj Gaikwad (603 runs) and Faf du Plessis (547 runs). The pair have complemented each other throughout the tournament and have been the most impressive opening partnership in the tournament, by far. Moreover, the bowlers, especially Shardul Thakur, have been clinching wickets at crucial times.

The middle-order batsmen’s form also poses a big headache for CSK despite Robin Uthappa soothing the concerns with a half-century and MS Dhoni finishing off the match with a quick cameo. If the openers don’t get a good start, then Chennai is in trouble with the bat. If the dew sets in with the ball, their bowling attack comprised of Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood, and Dwayne Bravo, among others, gets nullified and becomes toothless.

Ajit Agarkar: At The Start Of IPL, CSK Decided To Build A Team Around MS Dhoni

Former India pacer Ajit Agarkar mentioned the Indian core of Chennai as a reason for them being a strong franchise in the tournament.

“So, what they did was, at the start of the IPL, they decided to build the team around MS Dhoni and obviously got the Indian guys like Suresh Raina and M Vijay at the start.”

Ajit Agarkar Photo: AFP
Ajit Agarkar Photo: AFP

“So, the nucleus was there of the Indian players, then it becomes a lot easier to get your overseas guys. And then they kept on adding one or two players, and that’s why they have been such a good time for so long, but it is time, they will have to make changes,” concluded Agarkar.

MS Dhoni scored exactly 200 runs in IPL 2020, averaging a below-par 25 while managing only 114 runs in IPL 2021 in 15 games averaging a dismal 16.28. His strike rate is also below 120 both times and below 110 this season.

CSK Predicted XI: Faf du Plessis, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Robin Uthappa, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (C&WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar & Josh Hazlewood. 

KKR Predicted XI: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (C), Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakravarthy & Shivam Mavi

Shakib Al Hasan. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/GettyImages)
Shakib Al Hasan. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/GettyImages)
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Aakash Chopra Questions Whether KKR Contemplate Making Shakib Al Hasan The Skipper For The Remaining Games Of IPL 2021

Aakash Chopra has proposed an unconventional solution to Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) problems in IPL 2021 regarding their position in the points table and skipper Eoin Morgan’s poor form.

The cricketer-turned-commentator suggested KKR to contemplate making Bangladeshi all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan the captain for the rest of the tournament. Aakash Chopra said he has “nothing against” Eoin Morgan and explained that Shakib Al Hasan will provide KKR’s playing XIs with more balance with his all-around ability.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra Questions Whether KKR Contemplate Making Shakib Al Hasan The Skipper For The Remaining Games

Aakash Chopra’s comments came in light of KKR’s defeat to Punjab Kings (PBKS) in Dubai on Friday which landed a major blow to the two-time champions’ dreams of finishing in the top-four. Eoin Morgan came to bat at a crucial juncture in the game but registered single-digit scores. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) captain Eoin Morgan’s lack of form in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 has been a talking point in the ongoing season.

In the last five matches, since the resumption of IPL 2021, Eoin Morgan has failed to cross the double digits. He has contributed only 7,8,0 and 2 in the last 4 innings at the UAE leg. His tally for the tournament now reads at 107 runs from 11 matches at 11.89, including single-digit scores in all UAE-leg games so far.

Aakash Chopra wrote on Twitter: “Desperate times, desperate measures. Can #KKR contemplate making Shakib the captain for the remaining games? Nothing against Morgan but if runs aren’t coming, they simply aren’t. Can happen to the best of players. Shakib would give a few overs alongside his batting. Thoughts?”

Eoin Morgan, Aakash Chopra and Shakib Al Hasan (from left to right).
Eoin Morgan, Aakash Chopra, and Shakib Al Hasan (from left to right).

Meanwhile, Shakib Al Hasan hasn’t played a game in the UAE. He played in three games during the first phase of IPL 2021 in India but failed to make any notable impact – 38 runs at 12.67 and two wickets via his left-arm off-spin from three games. Picked by the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2011, he was an important part of their two title-winning sides in 2012 and 2014. In the 2012 final, his calm cameo at the end helped Kolkata clinch the title.

Aakash Chopra: Eoin Morgan Is The Weak Link In The Batting

Aakash Chopra had also spoken about Eoin Morgan’s form before Friday’s match. The former opener called the Englishman the “weak link” in the KKR batting order who needs to introspect and get his bat to “do the talking.”
The 2019 World Cup-winning captain like Shakib Al Hasan made a return to the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2020 after being one of the top buys for KKR in the 2020 IPL Auction. He also took over captaincy duties from Dinesh Karthik mid-season in 2020.

Aakash Chopra told ESPNcricinfo: “Morgan’s bat should do the talking but unfortunately that has not been the case. If the captain of your team comes to bat at No.4 or No.5 meaning that if he is the engine room of your team but he is the weak link in the batting then it is time to look inwards and understand that scoring runs is important. He makes this team a bit weak because there is no movement in the middle order except when Nitish Rana or Dinesh Karthik does it.”

KKR captain Eoin Morgan Twitter/@KKRiders
KKR captain Eoin Morgan  Twitter/@KKRiders

KKR is still placed fourth in the points table but needs to win their remaining two matches, while simultaneously hoping for at least one defeat each to PBKS, Mumbai Indians (MI), and Rajasthan Royals (RR).

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