Ajay Ratra | Sportzwiki

Ajay Ratra

Rishabh Pant Photo: BCCI
Rishabh Pant Photo: BCCI

Ajay Ratra Hopeful Of Seeing Much Improved Rishabh Pant

Ajay Ratra, former India wicketkeeper shared his thoughts on his wicketkeeping in Australia and then in India while speaking on Rishabh Pant’s recent performances beginning with the tour Down Under. Rishabh Pant has emerged as one of the most improved players of the Indian team in the recent past.

Rishabh Pant, who was often criticized for poor glovework and uninspiring results with the bat, has shown meteoric rise to cement his place in the national team across formats. His turnaround began in the 2020/21 Australia tour, where not only did he replace Wriddhiman Saha as the team’s first-choice wicketkeeper, but also won his team much-needed matches.

Wriddhiman Saha and Rishabh Pant | Source: Twitter
Wriddhiman Saha and Rishabh Pant | Source: Twitter

Ajay Ratra: Rishabh Pant Is Working On The Glove Work

Ajay Ratra, who works with the youngster Rishabh Pant in the Delhi Capitals (DC) camp, said he is improving and can get better more with age on his side. India’s wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant has improved with bat and with gloves recently as shown in Australia tour and England’s home Tests.

“I have been following Rishabh’s progress and feel he has improved on his footwork. He is working on the glove work. I feel he can improve more on glove work. Age is on his side,” maintained Ajay Ratra while speaking to SportsKeeda.

Ajay Ratra Image Source : TWITTER
Ajay Ratra Image Source: TWITTER

Rishabh Pant scored 274 runs at an average of 68.50 in five innings for India against Australia. The keeper continued his form against England where he hit 270 runs at an average of 54.00. He had led India to victory at Brisbane and then his scintillating hundred against England at Motera impressed everyone. Rishabh Pant captained for the first time in IPL 2021. He scored 91,11, unbeaten 58, 8, and 101 in the 5 innings against England.

Ajay Ratra: When MS DShoni Made His Debut, He Was Not That Great

Ajay Ratra, 39, compared his progress to former India captain MS Dhoni’s, saying the swashbuckling left-hander will gain experience as he plays further.

“When Dhoni made his debut, he was not that great. He learned at the international level and gained confidence from his batting. The same thing applies to Rishabh also. He has been batting so well and kept well in Indian conditions. If he continues that, we can see a much-improved Rishabh Pant,” concluded Ajay Ratra.

Rishabh Pant and MS Dhoni
Rishabh Pant and MS Dhoni (Image Credit: Twitter)

Rishabh Pant was last seen in action during IPL 2021. While leading Delhi Capitals, the 23-year-old scored 213 runs in 8 matches. He will next turn up for the Indian team during the England Tour, where India will play the final of the World Test Championship (WTC) against New Zealand followed by a five-match Test series against the host nation.

Delhi Capitals had an impressive run under the young wicketkeeper-batsman and, in fact, was the table-toppers with six wins from eight matches when the T20 league was postponed. India wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant has climbed to his career-best 6th ranking in the ICC Test rankings for batsmen.

MS Dhoni, who retired recently, scored exactly 200 runs in IPL 2020 averaging only 25 and wasn’t at his best in IPL 2021 too managing only 37 runs in 7 games averaging a meagre 12.33 when IPL 2021 was postponed due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 in bio bubble. IPL 2021 is set to resume in UAE in September-October.

Ajay Ratra Image Source : TWITTER
Ajay Ratra Image Source : TWITTER

Ajay Ratra Named As Delhi Capitals’ Assistant Coach For IPL 2021

Ajay Ratra, who recently coached the Assam state team in the recently concluded domestic tournaments Syed Mushtaq Ali Tournament and the Vijay Hazare Trophy was named as assistant coach of Delhi Capitals.
Delhi Capitals on Sunday announced the appointment of former India wicketkeeper Ajay Ratra as the team’s Assistant Coach for the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Ajay Ratra
Ajay Ratra. (Photo by John Gichigi/Getty Images)

Ajay Ratra Appointed Assistant Coach Of Delhi Capitals In IPL 2021

The Delhi Capitals will have two assistant coaches for IPL 2021, with Ajay Ratra, the former India wicketkeeper, joining Mohammad Kaif in a similar role. Their backroom contingent also consists of Ricky Ponting (head coach), Pravin Amre (batting consultant), and James Hopes (bowling coach).

On his appointment, Ratra in a statement said: “I am honoured to join Delhi Capitals as Assistant Coach. This is a very exciting team to work with, abundant with talent. I can’t wait to meet the team and contribute to its success. I am grateful to the Delhi Capitals management for giving me this wonderful opportunity.”

Ricky Ponting. (Photo by Qamar Sibtain/India Today Group/Getty Images)
Ricky Ponting. (Photo by Qamar Sibtain/India Today Group/Getty Images)

“We would like to welcome Ajay Ratra to the Delhi Capitals family,” said franchise’s CEO Vinod Bisht, on the development. “His experience, as player and coach will be invaluable, as we look to take the franchise from strength to strength. We are excited to have him on board, and wish him all the very best for the upcoming season.”

The 39-year-old wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra, recently coached the Assam state team in the T20-Syed Mushtaq Ali Tournament and the 50 overs-Vijay Hazare Trophy. He has coached the Punjab state team in the past too and has worked as a Fielding and Wicketkeeping Coach with the Indian Women’s Cricket Team during camps. This will be his first brush with an IPL franchise.

Ajay Ratra Joins Delhi Capitals Coaching Staff Consisting Of Ricky Ponting, Mohammad Kaif, Pravin Amre, And James Hopes

Ajay Ratra made history in 2002 when he became the youngest wicketkeeper (aged 20) to score a Test hundred, and the second Indian wicketkeeper to score a century overseas. Ajay Ratra, who is currently employed by ONGC as Manager (Corporate Communications) played 6 Tests and 12 ODIs for India. He joins the Delhi Capitals coaching staff of Ricky Ponting, Mohammad Kaif, Pravin Amre, and James Hopes.

Delhi Capitals
Delhi Capitals. Image Credits: Twitter

Ajay Ratra, who made his international debut in 2002, played six Tests and 12 ODIs for India. His maiden Test century against West Indies in Antigua – an unbeaten 115 – made him the fifth-youngest Indian and the youngest wicketkeeper overall to score a Test hundred.

He played 99 first-class matches, scoring 4029 runs at an average of 30.29, which included eight hundred and a double-century. He also played in 89 List A games, scoring 1381 runs at 22.63.

Delhi Capitals, the runners-up of IPL 2020 boast of a strong batting line-up with the likes of Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan, Marcus Stoinis, and Shimron Hetmyer in their ranks, and the former Australian skipper Steve Smith may not even be a sure-shot starter in all 14 matches. But they received a major setback when skipper Shreyas Iyer was ruled out of IPL 2021 for shoulder dislocation.

Steve Smith, Umesh Yadav (Rs 1 crore), Ripal Patel (Rs 20 lakh), Vishnu Vinod (Rs 20 lakh), Manimaran Siddharth (Rs 20 lakh), Lukman Meriwala (Rs 20 lakh) were some of the players added to their squad and the latest acquisitions will boost the team. Steve Smith was bought by the Delhi-based franchise for Rs 2.2 crore, while experienced T20 players Tom Curran and Sam Billings were bought for Rs 5.25 crore and Rs 2 crore respectively.

Delhi Capitals consists of the likes of Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Axar Patel, Amit Mishra, Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, and Chris Woakes to name a few.


Monty Panesar And Ajay Ratra Praise India’s Comeback Win In 2nd Test

Monty Panesar, former England spinner and former India wicket-keeper batsman Ajay Ratra spoke to TimesofIndia.com and lauded India’s comeback win against the Three Lions.

India captain Virat Kohli praised the superb character and fighting spirit on display by teammates after the hosts bounced right back into the four-Test encounter with a resounding 317-run win against England in Chennai in the second Test.

Monty Panesar
Monty Panesar

Monty Panesar Said Indian Win Was Unbelievable

India lost the opening Test by 227 runs but made a strong comeback and registered their biggest win against England, in terms of runs, in Tests. In pursuit of an improbable 482-run target, England could muster just 164 on a viciously turning Chennai track.

“It’s been unbelievable. The toss was a crucial factor. But it’s the kind of wickets that India would produce. India probably played the conditions better than England,” Monty Panesar told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview.

Ravichandran Ashwin hit his 5th Test hundred, his first against England during Day 3 of the Chennai Test (PTI Photo)
Ravichandran Ashwin hit his 5th Test hundred, his first against England during Day 3 of the Chennai Test (PTI Photo)

“It’s a great comeback win. Virat Kohli knows how to bounce back and he did it in style. I would appreciate the England team as well. Toss played a crucial factor in the series so far. It was a great show by the Indian team,” Ratra, who played 6 Tests and 12 ODIs for India, told TimesofIndia.com.

Ravichandran Ashwin’s tremendous all-around show helped him walk away with the Man of the Match award. He scored a brilliant 106 off 148 balls in the 2nd innings, including 14 fours and a six, to put England on the backfoot.

The 34-year-old bagged eight wickets and is currently sitting leading the highest wicket-takers tally in the series with 17 scalps in 2 Tests, including two five-wicket hauls under his belt.

Monty Panesar: Ravichandran Ashwin Knows His Job Well And Axar Patel Did An Amazing Job

Monty Panesar feels what really helps Ravichandran Ashwin, who is now just 6 wickets away from 400 Test wickets, is his ability to think like both a batsman and a bowler.

“What helps Ashwin is that when he bowls, he is able to think like a batsman and when he’s batting, he’s probably thinking like a bowler. He is in the same bracket as Murali, Shane, Kumble, Harbhajan,” Monty Panesar, who has played 50 Tests, 26 ODIs, and 1 T20I for England between 2006 and 2013, said.

One of the key players missing for India is Ravindra Jadeja who is seen as the designated all-rounder in the Test team. Ravichandran Ashwin’s performance with both bat and ball in Chennai though made sure Ravindra Jadeja’s absence wasn’t felt.

“Ashwin is a leader of the spin department. Jadeja isn’t and in his absence, Ashwin took on the responsibility really well and performed. Ashwin is a package of a good all-rounder. Coming in at number 7 or 8 and scoring a century, that’s commendable. Ashwin’s best quality is that he knows how to adapt to conditions quickly. That’s what we call experience,” Monty Panesar further said.

Captain Virat Kohli said the outcome of the toss didn’t matter much unlike England captain Joe Root who made it clear that had he won the toss, England would have batted first. The win also broke Virat Kohli’s string of 4 consecutive Test losses.

Monty Panesar feels Virat Kohli shouldn’t change his style of captaincy and should continue to bring controlled aggression to the table.

“He (Virat) was probably lucky because he won the toss and the wicket was turning. Virat needs to be aggressive, he needs to be himself and he doesn’t have to be a relaxed person,” Monty Panesar said.
The 39-year-old keeper, who played under the leadership of Sourav Ganguly, went on to compare Virat Kohli’s style of captaincy with that of Sourav Ganguly’s.

“Dada was so aggressive but he never used to express it. Virat is also aggressive but he expresses too much. He showed India how to win, especially overseas. He injected the fighting spirit into the team. Virat is doing a brilliant job. The Indian team is doing magnificently in all the three formats and the credit goes to captain Virat,” Ratra, who made his debut under Ganguly’s captaincy in 2002, said.

Left-arm spinner Axar Patel got the opportunity in the 2nd Test and didn’t disappoint as he took a five-wicket haul in England’s second innings after claiming two wickets in the first innings. Virat Kohli revealed after the match that Axar Patel would have played the first Test as well if he wasn’t sidelined. Monty Panesar echoed that any comparison with Ravindra Jadeja is extremely premature.

“Axar has done an amazing job. Five wickets and that too on debut is a really good performance. He did what Jadeja has been doing for India. We need to sit back and watch Axar in the coming matches. That was a huge learning for him,” Panesar further told TimesofIndia.com.

According to Ajay Ratra, the Chennai pitch helped Axar Patel a lot.

“He (Axar) had an impressive debut. He bowls quite fast. When you have a turning track and a spinner bowling quite fast, then he is more dangerous than other bowlers. This track helped Axar a lot. Claiming five wickets on debut is a great achievement,” Ratra, who is also a manager with ONGC, further said.

Ajay Ratra echoed the general consensus that Virat Kohli should go in with three pacers.

“India should go for major changes. There will be a lot of swing. I am sure Virat will have plans ready. I am sure he will go with three pacers. Virat should go with Bumrah and Shami, if he is fit to play. Shami is brilliant in seaming conditions,” Ajay Ratra told TimesofIndia.com.

Axar Patel | Pankaj Nangia/ Sportzpics for BCCI
Axar Patel | Pankaj Nangia/ Sportzpics for BCCI

Monty Panesar supported the extra pace strategy and also suggested changes as per the pitch conditions.

“Since it will be a day-night affair and played with the pink ball, India should play one spinner and go with more pace attack. But if they are going to play on a spinning track, then they should go with two spinners,” Panesar signed off.

The series is locked at 1-1 and the third Test will be played in Ahmedabad from February 24 which will be a day and night affair and will be played with a pink ball under floodlights.

The second day-night Test in India will be the third overall pink ball Test of India. Their first-ever pink-ball Test against Bangladesh was in November 2019 at Eden Gardens. India won by an innings and 46 runs in that match before losing the Adelaide day and night Test against Australia, by 8 wickets.

KL Rahul
KL Rahul. Image Credit: Getty Images.

KL Rahul Should Be First-Choice Keeper In T20Is And ODIs: Ajay Ratra

KL Rahul has returned to Australia which is his third trip in his short six-year-old international career looking a lot assured, besides being way matured and with a better understanding of his game after leading IPL 2020 batting charts by scoring 670 runs in the UAE.

KL Rahul has a complicated relationship with Australia. It was in Australia that he grabbed attention with a classy century scoring 110 at Sydney playing only in his second Test match in 2014-15 and it was also there that he lost his Test spot after accumulating only 57 runs averaging 11.4 in three Tests in 2018-19.

KL Rahul
KL Rahul. Image Credit: Twitter.

KL Rahul Is Ahead As Wicket-keeper Batsman After MS Dhoni’s Retirement

In between, he enjoyed great success against Australia scoring 6 fifties in 5 Tests and registering consistent scores in limited-overs cricket, but they all came at home. Whenever he travelled down under, runs were hard to come by even in white-ball limited-overs cricket.

There is an Australia connection to KL Rahul’s return to the Indian side as an all-format batsman after two years too. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are excellent as openers, and it has become increasingly difficult for KL Rahul to find a regular spot in the limited-overs side. Rishabh Pant suffered a concussion injury in the first ODI against Australia at home in January 2020 which made way for KL Rahul in the middle order.

KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant
KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant, Image Credit: Getty Images.

In that three-match ODI series against Australia, KL Rahul found success with the bat in the middle order and more importantly also with the gloves, providing India to explore the options of playing him as a keeper batsman in white-ball cricket.

The 52-ball 82-run innings batting at No.5 in the 2nd ODI at Rajkot also confirmed he does not need to open to stamp his authority. He can take the gloves and bat in the middle-order, the role Rishabh Pant had been performing in MS Dhoni’s absence with moderate success.

In the following tour in New Zealand, KL Rahul took the gloves in all 8 limited-overs fixtures despite Sanju Samson playing a couple of T20Is. A fit and fine Rishabh Pant warmed the benches throughout the ODI and T20I series. India haven’t played a limited-overs fixture since then. The first ODI against Sydney will be their first in close to 9 months post-Covid-19. MS Dhoni has now officially retired from international cricket which opened the question of India’s wicket-keeper batsman’s permanent place in India’s squad.

KL Rahul Is First Choice Keeper Batsman In Limited Overs: Ajay Ratra While Rohan Gavaskar Mentions Keeping Hasn’t Affected His Batting

Former India cricketers Ajay Ratra and Rohan Gavaskar are in favour of KL Rahul continuing with the job especially after his astonishing success in the IPL 2020.

“The kind of form that Rahul is in obviously makes him the best option. He is flexible in the batting order, keeping wise also he has done a decent job. Rahul is an asset, he will walk into the Indian ODI and T20I at any point of time. If he keeps then it allows India to play an extra bowler or an all-rounder. So Rahul should be the first choice keeper-batsman in T20I and ODIs,” said former India wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra in an exclusive conversation with Hindustan Times.

Rohan Gavaskar
Rohan Gavaskar. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

KL Rahul averages 75 in ODIs and 56 in T20Is playing as a designated keeper. Apart from the number of runs, what also goes in his favour is his keeping skills, which may not outstanding but is error free. In all the 10 matches that he has kept for India, there haven’t been many questions about his wicket keeping.

“Rahul has kept in junior cricket and that’s why he doesn’t look like a makeshift keeper at all,” added Ajay Ratra.

He also added that both Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson are now in contention and fighting for the second wicket keeper’s spot.

“Samson needs to be a bit more consistent with the bat. Same is for Pant. They definitely have the potential. Samson didn’t get to keep wickets much in the IPL. But both Samson and Pant are now fighting for the second spot,” said Ratra.

Former India batsman Rohan Gavaskar, meanwhile, believes it should be KL Rahul’s personal choice. The junior Gavaskar said KL Rahul is one of India’s T20I specialist batsmen now and that should not get affected because of wicket keeping.

“KL Rahul is got to up there as our best T20 batsman, now whether you want to give him that extra burden of wicket-keeping and whether he is happy with that, only he can answer,” Gavaskar told Hindustan Times.

“If he is happy wicket keeping and opening the batting then that’s going to be the way forward. If not then it makes space for someone like a Rishabh Pant, who is also extremely skillful with the bat. It’s a problem of plenty I think. It in the end boils down to what KL Rahul wants to do. So far keeping hasn’t affected his batting. So far he has been top-class in white-ball cricket,” he added.

The 28-year-old KL Rahul has scored 2006 runs in 36 Tests, the last of which came in 2019 against the West Indies.

Wankhede Stadium, MS Dhoni, Ajit Agarkar
MS Dhoni. Image Credit: Getty Images.

Ajay Ratra: MS Dhoni Dominated Cricket Like King Without Feeling Pressure

Ajay Ratra who is a former Indian wicket-keeper batsman like the recently retired MS Dhoni said that the reason behind the decision of MS Dhoni to retire could be due to the postponed T20I World Cup which was slated to be held in Australia on October November but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The postponement of the T20I World Cup meant MS Dhoni who was last seen in Indian colours in 2019 World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand will get to play one and half years later. T20I World Cup will be subsequently held in 2021 in India and 2022 in Australia provided the situation improves.

MS Dhoni retired earlier from Test cricket in 2014 to give more opportunity to the likes of Wriddhiman Saha but continued to ply his trade in limited-overs white-ball cricket. His average of 50.53 in 350 ODIs where he scored 10773 runs is exceptional. His performance in T20I wherein 98 matches he had scored 1617 runs averaging 37.6 is also very good. Besides that, he is the only captain to win all three ICC trophies-the T20I World Cup in 2007, the ODI world cup in 2011 and Champions Trophy in 2013.

Wriddhiman Saha, MS Dhoni
Wriddhiman Saha and MS Dhoni. Image Credit: Getty Images,

Ajay Ratra: MS Dhoni Retirement Right Decision

Covid-19 has taken the lives of thousands of common people across the globe and resulted in strict measures like quarantine, lockdowns to prevent spreading besides cancellation and postponement of several sporting events. IPL 2020 has been moved abroad to UAE from India and will see MS Dhoni in action again. MS Dhoni retired by posting on Instagram which was the right decision according to Ajay Ratra.

“Looking at the scenario, we had the feeling that MS (Dhoni) was looking to participate in this year’s T20 World Cup and even the team management was also looking at him as an option. With the tournament being postponed due to the pandemic and the next World T20 nearly than one and half years away, he finally decided to call it quits. I think it was the right decision and he signed off in his own style by posting a message on Instagram,” the former India cricketer said.

Ajay Ratra
Ajay Ratra (Image Credits: AFP)

MS Dhoni will, however, continue to play in IPL besides captaining his franchise CSK. He has been invited to play in other global leagues like ‘The Hundred’ but will only participate if the board BCCI permits him to play.

When asked about what could be Dhoni’s next move the former wicketkeeper-batsman said, “He’s still going to be play the IPL so we are going to watch him on the cricket pitch in the future as well. The kind of captain he is, CSK would want him to play for as long as he wants. Also, he has his academies in India, as well as abroad, so he’s going to be engaged with his business.

So his schedule is still going to be a tight one. Also, I have read some reports that he’s getting invited to play in The Hundred in England. So you see, he still has a lot of cricket left and who knows, we might see him playing in other T20 leagues. But you can’t really say much about Dhoni’s future plans because there’s always an air of mystery around him.”

Ajay Ratra said that the Jharkhand cricketer MS Dhoni did not succumb to pressure ever but dominated cricketing world by paying like a king according to the situation and he might play the upcoming IPL with ease and relaxation.

When questioned if the fans will see him play freely, now that the pressure of international cricket is off his shoulders, the Faridabad-based former cricketer said: “Pressure is always going to be there with a cricketer, be it international format or domestic league. So, I don’t think so he’s ever been bogged down by pressure. He’s played like a king and dominated the world cricket. He’s always played as per the demand of the situation. But definitely, you might see him more relaxed when he plays in the IPL and he might enjoy the game more.”

Ajay Ratra: Rishabh Pant And Sanju Samson Must Perform Well In IPL

Ajay Ratra has also advised youngsters like Sanju Samson and Risabh Pant to play well in IPL to draw selectors attention as the focus shifts to them to fill MS Dhoni’s shoes and cement their places in the limited-overs white-ball cricket in particular.

“Yes, it will be a good opportunity for both Rishabh and Sanju, as well as other young wicketkeeper-batsmen, to perform well and draw the attention of the selectors. As of now KL Rahul is doing a decent job behind the stumps but it depends on the team management whether they want to put that extra burden on Rahul or not. But having said that, it will be important that the likes of Rishabh and Sanju should compete amongst themselves and fight for the slot. Healthy competition is going to raise their game.”

MS Dhoni and Rishabh Pant
MS Dhoni and Rishabh Pant. Reuters.

Ajay Ratra also said that Uttar Pradesh batsman Suresh Raina who is six years younger than MS Dhoni to follow suit was a bit early since he is a good athlete and sound batsman but a late surgery possibly could be the reason behind his call to retire from the international scene.

“If you ask me, it was a little early because he’s a good athlete and a sound batsman but he’s had a surgery off late and that might have been a reason for him to take a call on his international career.”

Ajay Ratra remembers MS Dhoni from the plate semi-final in Chandigarh when he was Haryana’s captain. Despite being on the losing side, MS Dhoni scored a rapid century and hit sixes despite fielders being placed near boundary ropes. He realized that the Ranchi cricketer who played for Jharkhand in the match was going to be a big name in international cricket.

“I remember we were playing a plate semi-final in Chandigarh and I was the captain of Haryana team in that game. We won that match after posting a huge total and Jharkhand were chasing but let me tell you, Dhoni’s style of batting was the same. He scored a quick hundred in that game and at one stage we had placed fielders near the boundary ropes but he continued hitting sixes. That day I realised that he’s someone special.”

Ajay Ratra had featured in only 6 tests and 12 ODIs for India but has played for Haryana, Goa and Tripura in Ranji Trophy and overall he played in 99 first-class matches.

Ajay Ratra, 5 players who have Saurav Ganguly to thank for their careers
Saurav Ganguly. Credits: Getty.

Ganguly, Tendulkar, Dravid Had The Same Message In 2002 Natwest Final – Ajay Ratra

Former Indian wicket-keeper batsman Ajay Ratra has revealed that the former Indian captain Saurav Ganguly and senior players like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid gave a same message to the team in the 2002 Natwest Trophy final against England. Ratra disclosed that the morale of the whole team was down when England had racked up 325 runs in the first innings.

326 was hardly chased back in 2002 and thus the whole team felt a bit low in the innings break. Subsequently, the three senior players in Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar said, “We will play our natural game” and it added a shot in the arm of the whole team.

Naseer Hussain, Mohammad Kaif, Ajay Ratra
Mohammad Kaif. Image Credit: Getty Images,

It was Kaif’s best innings – Ajay Ratra

Ganguly and Sehwag then provided a fine start to the team as they added 106 runs for the opening alliance inside the first 15 overs. However, India veered off the track as they lost five wickets for the next 40 runs and found themselves behind the eighth-ball at 146-5.

Subsequently, both rookie batsmen in Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif added a fine partnership of 121 runs to get back into the contest. Yuvraj scored 69 whereas Kaif smashed an unbeaten 87 to take India to a famous win.

Meanwhile, Ajay Ratra was not part of the playing XI but he was part of the squad. Ajay Ratra recalled the conversation between Yuvraj and Kaif when the partnership was going strong as he was carrying drinks for the two batsmen. Ajay Ratra recalled the whole incident while rewinding the clock.

Sourav Ganguly, NatWest Grand-Finale, Ajay Ratra
Sourav Ganguly and Co. at Lord’s Balcony. Image Credit: Getty Images.

“325 in 2002 was a big score and that too in a final at Lord’s, which is England’s stronghold. England were playing very well in that tournament. So the atmosphere inside the dressing room was not that good in the beginning when our innings had started but everybody was positive. Sachin, Rahul, Dada said that we will play our natural game and let’s see where we end up. That lifted us all,” Ajay Ratra said while talking to Hindustan Times.

“I had gone there to give drinks to Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif since I was not playing that game. The conversation was on that grounds that we just need more than a run a ball. All we need to do is stay confident. But the way they played their shots, pulls, over covers, I think it was one of Kaif’s best innings,” Ajay Ratra added.

The Natwest trophy triumph is written in the golden pages of Indian cricket and it was one of the best comebacks in the history of ODI cricket. Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh were brilliant and got the team out of the woods.

Ajay Ratra Reveals How Sachin Tendulkar Also Played An Effective Role To Introduce Virender Sehwag As An Opener

Many knew that the former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly played the influential role to evolve Virender Sehwag as an opener. However, recently, the former Indian wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra equally credited the legendary Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar to introduce Sehwag as an opener in international cricket.

Like Sachin Tendulkar, the former Indian cricketer Virender Sehwag also started as a middle-order batsman. When Sehwag made his international debut in April 1999, Tendulkar was a renowned opening batsman.

Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, opener
Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

At the beginning of his international career, Sehwag didn’t manage much success with the bat. But once the Indian captain Sourav Ganguly decided to test him as an opener, Sehwag slowly started to glow, and later, he set up his image as one of the greatest opening batsmen in international cricket history.

Recently, Ajay Ratra revealed the story of how Sehwag was promoted as an opener for the first time in ODI cricket. During the Sri Lanka tour for the ODI tri-series in July-August 2001, Sehwag first time came to bat as an opener during the fifth game of that tournament against New Zealand at Colombo, RPS (26th July 2001).

While the skipper Ganguly decided to open the innings to maintain the left-right combination, he wanted to test Sehwag as an opener instead of selecting his most successful ODI opening partner Tendulkar. So, Tendulkar was offered to bat at no.4 position and the legendary cricketer accepted that.

Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, opener
Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly (Image Credit: Twitter)

If Sachin Tendulkar hadn’t agreed then Virender Sehwag probably would have had to bat lower: Ajay Ratra

Ratra feels that Tendulkar also deserves credit like the captain Ganguly to introduce Sehwag as an opener. According to the former wicket-keeper, if Tendulkar denied that suggestion to bat at no.4, India might miss seeing one of their greatest opening batsmen.

Ajay Ratra
Ajay Ratra (Image Credits: AFP)

Ratra told Hindustan Times, “Sachin was doing so well as an opener at that time but Sehwag had to open. So, Sachin offered to bat at No.4. Sehwag then opened with Dada (Sourav Ganguly) for that left and right combination. If Sachin hadn’t agreed then Viru probably would have had to bat lower. He wouldn’t have got the chance to open in ODIs and the story could have been a lot different.”

In that ODI, while India were chasing the 201 runs target, Sehwag fought well at the beginning with his 33 runs knock. Though Sehwag was the highest run-scorer in that innings, India were bundled out for just 133 runs.

Sehwag hit his first ODI century (100 runs) during his fourth ODI innings as an opener, which was the crucial game of that tournament against New Zealand at Colombo (SSC) on 2nd August 2001. It was just the beginning of Sehwag’s incredible batting as an opener.

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni (Image Credit: Twitter)

IPL Postponement Makes MS Dhoni’s Comeback Difficult – Ajay Ratra

Former Indian wicket-keeper batsman Ajay Ratra believes the Indian Premier League postponement makes it difficult for MS Dhoni to return to the national side. Dhoni last played in the Indian colors back in the semi-final loss against New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup. Subsequently, Dhoni was expected to pull the plug on his illustrious career but it wasn’t to be the case.

Dhoni then decided to take a break from the national duties and made himself unavailable for national selection. Hence, the upcoming IPL was expected to play a key role in Dhoni’s return to the Indian team as he didn’t even play in the domestic circuit.

MS Dhoni, Aakash Chopra
MS Dhoni. Image Credit: Getty Images.

MS Dhoni is still fit as a fiddle.

However, the IPL has been indefinitely postponed due to coronavirus. Dhoni has been out of action for almost 10 months and it is not going to be easy for him to hit the ground running once he makes a comeback into professional cricket.

In fact, many former players feel that we might never see Dhoni in action for the national side. Harbhajan Singh recently said Dhoni might never play for the Indian team but he is going to keep playing in the IPL.

“You see, Dhoni is a very unpredictable player but yes there has been a long time since he played competitive cricket. IPL 2020 seemed quite decisive for his international career. The team management would have closely monitored his performance and also how other wicketkeepers would’ve done during the IPL,” Ratra said while talking to My Khel.

“Unfortunately, IPL getting postponed indefinitely makes it (Dhoni’s comeback) difficult but you never know with Dhoni,” he further added.

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni. Photo: BCCI

MS Dhoni might never play for India again.

Meanwhile, Suresh Raina and Chennai Super Kings’ players had confirmed that Dhoni was looking in Midas Touch before the start of the season in the practice sessions which were held at Chepauk Stadium. However, the tournament is still hanging on by a thin thread.

It is reported that the IPL could take place in October-November if the T20 World Cup is postponed by the ICC. Subsequently, MS Dhoni would aim to hit the ground running and things will get clear on his future as an Indian player.