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Kuldeep Yadav Is Extremely Talented And A Very Thinking Bowler, Says Paras Mhambrey

Paras Mhambrey, India bowling coach — for the ongoing limited-overs series in Sri Lanka — feels spinner Kuldeep Yadav will take a lot of confidence from his performance in the ongoing series and definitely stands a chance to make it to the T20 World Cup squad that is to be played in UAE in October-November.

Before India’s second T20I against Sri Lanka, the last time Kuldeep Yadav had bowled in a T20 game was in IPL 2020, a competition in which he played only five games out of a possible 14 for the Kolkata Knight Riders. He bowled 12 overs in those five games, for one wicket only. The last time he bowled for India in a T20I was back in January 2020 against Sri Lanka. He conceded at 9.50 runs per over.

Kuldeep Yadav's bowling was particularly impressive in the second T20I given the low total India were defending Ishara S.Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images
Kuldeep Yadav’s bowling was particularly impressive in the second T20I given low total India were defending Ishara S.Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images

Paras Mhambrey: Kuldeep Yadav Is Extremely Talented And A Very Thinking Bowler And Should Be Credited For Executing Plans Well

Kuldeep Yadav has an extremely impressive average of 13.83 in T20Is picking up 41 scalps in 22 matches.

“Kuldeep is extremely talented and he is a very thinking bowler. It all boils down to execution and the credit needs to be given to him. It has been challenging, he has been in and out of the team. He needs to work hard to maintain his position which he is doing, and I am happy to see that.

“I am sure he will take a lot of positives from this. The T20 World Cup is around the corner, it really increases his chances to be part of the squad,”Paras Mhambrey said in the virtual post-match press conference at the end of the second T20I on Wednesday.

Paras Mhambrey
Paras Mhambrey

With Krunal Pandya testing COVID-19 positive, seven players had to isolate as close contacts and that saw India handing debuts to the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devdutt Padikkal. Paras Mhambrey said the youngsters were told to play freely without any pressure.

“You are going to be nervous when you make your debut for your country, we know that. The discussion was always to give them a free hand, there was no pressure on them. We knew that in terms of batting, we only had 5-6 batters with whom we can plan for this game.

“There were no such instructions on how to play, they (Gaikwad and Padikkal) would be disappointed but as you say every opportunity they get to represent the country, they will learn,” Paras Mhambrey said.

Commenting on Navdeep Saini’s injury status,Paras Mhambrey said: “In Navdeep’s case, the medical team is handling him, we will assess his situation maybe tonight or tomorrow morning and take a decision accordingly.

“Once the decision is finalized and conveyed to the selectors and coach, and if needed, we will make changes. We have to assess and wait till the medical team informs us.”

Navdeep Saini did not bowl a single over in the game and was taken off the field in the penultimate over of the Sri Lanka innings when he injured his shoulder while fielding at extra cover.

India named 4 T20I debutants in Nitish Rana, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and Chetan Sakariya for the 2nd T20I match. Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Krishnappa Gowtham, Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Deepak Chahar were the close contacts of Krunal Pandya all of whom weren’t allowed to take the field.

Paras Mhambrey: Rahul Dravid Was In Touch With The BCCI Officials

While there was some doubt on whether the match and series will go ahead after Krunal Pandya’s positive test result, the bowling coach said head coach Rahul Dravid was in constant touch with the BCCI officials.

“Actually, Rahul Dravid was in constant touch with the BCCI officials. We were told that whatever decision will be taken, we will be informed. We were prepared that we might have to go ahead and play the game. We went in with our preparations, even if the game would not have been there, we would have continued with our preparations,” Paras Mhambrey said.

Rahul Dravid Photo Credit: PTI
Rahul Dravid Photo Credit: PTI

The bowling coach is also pleased with the pool of bowlers.

“Pretty happy with their performance, I have seen them in the last few years. Very pleased with the way they have progressed. I am happy in terms of the pool (seamers and spinners) we have. We have had some low-scoring and high-scoring games and in general, I am happy with the way they have played,” Paras Mhambrey said. 

Dasun Shanaka’s Sri Lanka defeated Shikhar Dhawan-led India by 4 wickets to level the three-match series. Dhananjaya de Silva scored 40 not out off 34 balls while wicketkeeper-batsman Minod Bhanuka smashed 36 off 31 deliveries to help the hosts chase the 133-run target with 2 balls to spare.

Kuldeep Yadav returned with the figures of 2 for 30. Earlier, Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bowl. Indian captain Shikhar Dhawan top-scored with a 42-ball 40 as India posted 132 for 5. Ruturaj Gaikwad scored 21 off 18 balls while Devdutt Padikkal contributed with a 23-ball 29.

Manish Pandey is likely to be given another opportunity in the second ODI against Sri Lanka | Photo Credit: AP
Manish Pandey is likely to be given another opportunity in the second ODI against Sri Lanka | Photo Credit: AP
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Suryakumar Yadav Defends Manish Pandey Despite His Poor Form

Suryakumar Yadav defended fellow middle-order batsman Manish Pandey over the latter’s dismal return in the three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka. Suryakumar Yadav said Manish Pandey had batted ‘really well’ in the tour before pointing to his unlucky run-out in the previous ODI.

The 31-year-old batsman has been in and out of the limited-overs team for a few years. There is no doubt about the talent but Manish Pandey has been inconsistent with his displays with the bat.

Suryakumar Yadav plays a shot during the first one day international cricket match between Sri Lanka and India in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, July 18 (Photo | AP)
Suryakumar Yadav plays a shot during the first one-day international cricket match between Sri Lanka and India in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, July 18 (Photo | AP)

Suryakmar Yadav: Manish Pandey Was Batting Really Well And Not Dropping Him For The 3rd ODI Due To Poor Form Was Team Management’s Call

India lost the final ODI by three wickets. Before the game they had handed over five debut caps and made a total of six changes, raising questions on why Manish Pandey wasn’t one of the players to sit out despite his form. In the three-match ODI series also, Manish Pandey showed promise but wasn’t able to fire on and score big in all the matches. In the three ODIs, Manish Pandey scored 26, 37, and 11 runs respectively.

Manish Pandey during the India-Sri Lanka series. (PC: ICC)
Manish Pandey during the India-Sri Lanka series. (PC: ICC)

“That was completely the team management’s call, I can’t get into that decision. But yes, he’s been batting really well as we saw in the practice games, we played intra-squad games also.

“And last game, you all must have seen it it was an unfortunate dismissal, he was batting really well at that time as well. So that must have been the reason but as I said, this isn’t my call,” Suryakumar Yadav said in the post-match press conference.

Although Manish Pandey has been a victim of some haphazard selection choices in the past, he’ll only have himself to blame for not getting any more opportunities soon. Apart from the runout, the 31-year-old had two brilliant chances to score runs but couldn’t convert his starts and ended the series with just 74 runs at an average of 24.67.

After opting to bat first, India managed to score only 225. Prithvi Shaw and Sanju Samson scored 49 and 46 runs respectively at the top of the order while Suryakumar Yadav hit 40 off 37 balls. Sri Lanka did not face a lot of trouble as they chased down the target in the 39th over after the match was reduced to 47 overs per side due to rain.

Manish Pandey Unlikely To Feature In The Upcoming T20I Series

Although a Rahul Dravid reprieve is possible, it looks unlikely that Manish Pandey will get any more game time on this tour. Youngsters like Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan, Nitish Rana, Devdutt Padikkal, and Ruturaj Gaikwad are waiting in the wings to capture top-order spots and Manish Pandey hasn’t been that good in T20Is of late either.

Devdutt Padikkal , RCB Twitter handle
Devdutt Padikkal , RCB Twitter handle

It will take some injury concerns or last-minute changes for the Karnataka batsman to get a look in for the series. The first T20I will be played on Sunday, July 25.

Manish Pandey will always be remembered as the first Indian to score a century in the IPL. Despite his average of 33.29 in 29 ODIs and 44.31 in 39 T20Is, his form hasn’t been consistent. His average in T20Is is high because he has been unbeaten 17 times in 33 innings. He has only 3 fifties in 39 T20Is and 1 ton and 2 fifties in 29 ODIs which is below expectations.

The 30-year-old Suryakumar Yadav made his ODI debut in the first one-dayer against Sri Lanka and was named man of the series for registering scores of 31 not out, 53, and 40 in the three-match series. Suryakumar Yadav’s sensational run for Mumbai Indians in the IPL earned him a spot in the England T20I series at home.

Pragyan Ojha LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP
Pragyan Ojha LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP
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Indian Cricket Is Flexing Its Muscle, Says Pragyan Ojha

Pragyan Ojha, former Indian cricketer showered praise on second-string Team India after they thrashed Sri Lanka by seven wickets on July 19 (Sunday) at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. As a result, the Men in Blue have gone 1-0 up in the three-match ODI series.

Taking to Twitter, Pragyan Ojha credited India A tours and IPL for creating a pool of cricketers who can take international cricket by storm on any given day.

Pragyan Ojha — File Photo
Pragyan Ojha — File Photo

Pragyan Ojha: Indian Cricket Is Flexing Its Muscle

Pragyan Ojha played for Mumbai Indians for 4 seasons between 2012 and 2015 and twice won the IPL title with them. He picked 89 scalps in 92 IPL games averaging 26.2 playing from 2008-2015. Pragyan Ojha played 24 Tests, 18 ODIs, and 6 T20Is picking 113, 21, and 10 wickets respectively.

Pragyan Ojha wrote: “Indian cricket is flexing its muscle. Pure dominance and contagious confident attitude. Without a doubt frequent India A tournaments and IPL have been revolutionary.”

Suryakumar Yadav
Suryakumar Yadav (BCCI)

Incidentally, the India A team has played 24 unofficial Test matches between 2017-2019, which is more than what international teams like Pakistan, New Zealand, and Bangladesh have played during the same period. The BCCI has invested a lot of time and money in creating strong bench strength over the last couple of years under Rahul Dravid, which is reaping rewards now.

The likes of Devdutt Padikkal, Nitish Rana, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and Chetan Sakariya have been successful in IPL 2020 and/or 2021 and were chosen for the first time in the Sri Lanka tour while other experienced stars like Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Suryakumar Yadav, and Prithvi Shaw have performed consistently well in IPL and domestic cricket for which they were selected in the senior team.

India Chased Down 263 Successfully With Crucial Knocks From The Trio Of Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, And Ishan Kishan

Chasing a target of 263 in the 1st ODI, set by Sri Lanka after a late resurgence from Chamika Karunaratne (43* off 35 balls), India got off to a flying start. Prithvi Shaw went berserk against Sri Lanka’s new-ball bowlers. By the time he was dismissed after scoring 43, the visitors were already at 58 in just 5.3 overs.

After the dismissal, debutant Ishan Kishan came to the crease and announced his arrival with a six and four. The southpaw partnered with captain Shikhar Dhawan and steered the run chase with ease. Ishan Kishan scored a brilliant fifty on debut to become only the second Indian after Robin Uthappa to score a half-century on both ODI and T20I debuts.

Ishan Kishan (Image Credit: BCCI)
Ishan Kishan (Image Credit: BCCI)

They added 85 runs for the second wicket before the debutant was dismissed after scoring 58 runs. While Prithvi Shaw and Ishan Kishan went all guns blazing, Shikhar Dhawan was happy to play the role of a second fiddle.

Shikhar Dhawan remained unbeaten on 86 runs along with another debutant, Suryakumar Yadav, who chipped in with 31 as India went past the target within 36.4 overs to go 1-0 up in the series. The second ODI of the three-match series is on July 20 (Tuesday) at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.

File picture of Russel Arnold. - THE HINDU
File picture of Russel Arnold. - THE HINDU
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Russel Arnold Envious That India Has So Many Quality Players

Russel Arnold has made heads turn with his glaring remark on Shikhar Dhawan-led India who will battle it out against Sri Lanka in the three-match ODI series from July 18 (Sunday), which will be followed by three T20Is.

While a lot of talks have been made on the second-string Shikhar Dhawan-led Team India, without white-ball regulars in the likes of India captain Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, former Sri Lankan cricketer Russel Arnold is envious of the team having quality cricketers as the batting line-up has a lot of talented youngsters.

Russel Arnold | Twitter
Russel Arnold | Twitter

Russel Arnold Is Jealous That India Has So Many Quality Players In Their Bench

On one hand, Arjuna Ranatunga feels Sri Lanka playing a second-stringed Indian team in home conditions is an ‘insult’ to SLC, Russel Arnold has revealed that he is jealous of Shikhar Dhawan-led India as it gives an account into the Men in Blue’s rich depth and solid bench strength.

Despite no Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma, India has great balance in their squad with the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pandya brothers, Yuzvendra Chahal, Manish Pandey, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav along with youngsters such as Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana, Chetan Sakariya, Varun Chakravarthy and Krishnappa Gowtham, most of whom are yet to debut for India in limited-overs.

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

Even the uncapped Indian players are big names, or known faces, due to their success in the extravagant IPL in the recent editions.

Russel Arnold told, “I just feel jealous that India has those cricketers. Even this team, we’ve seen them play. We’ve seen the quality they bring. There is a lot of experience too in Shikhar Dhawan, the Pandyas, spinners Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. There’s a lot of exciting prospects.”

“We also know about the youngsters and what they can do. The question for the India team would be, can these youngsters actually perform on their own knowing that there is no cushion of a Rohit or Virat. Can they take that next step? It will be exciting to see. As I said, I’m jealous that India is actually in this position (of having so many quality players),” Russel Arnold added.

Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana, Krishnappa Gowtham and Chetan Sakariya got maiden India call-ups. Yuzvendra Chahal will lead the spin department and will have support from the likes of Kuldeep Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, and Varun Chakravarthy. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will spearhead the pace attack with support from the likes of Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, and Chetan Sakariya.

Russell Arnold: There Is A Lot Of Talent In The Batting Line-up

Prithvi Shaw has earned a call-up into the white-ball squad following his excellent form in IPL 2021 (308 runs) and Vijay Hazare Trophy (827 runs). Openers Devdutt Padikkal (473 runs in IPL 2020 and 195 runs in IPL 2021) and Ruturaj Gaikwad (204 runs in IPL 2020 and 196 runs in IPL 2021) performed well in IPL.

Nitish Rana had scored above 300 runs in every edition since IPL 2017 and managed 201 runs in 7 games in IPL 2021. Chetan Sakariya who impressed everyone in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 where he picked 7 wickets in as many games for Rajasthan Royals has also earned a place in the squad.

The former Sri Lanka cricketer Russel Arnold further opined, “Of course, you will be looking at Dhawan and Pandyas to perform but I’m thinking Prithvi Shaw might get a run. Helpfully he will prove me right by entertaining everyone.”

Rahul Dravid Photo Credit: PTI
Rahul Dravid Photo Credit: PTI

“There is Padikkal, Gaikwad. When we look at the batting, there is a lot of talent. Will they look at it as an opportunity and will they push the seniors? It comes down to what you have and what you want to prove.

“You can sit back and think I’m a part of it, I’ve got my opportunity and that’s fine, this attitude will not take you far. Hunger is what will make the difference. It’s hard to give names right now because we don’t know who is going to play from the big squad of 20. But whoever plays, we know can be dangerous,” concluded Russel Arnold.

The forthcoming SL tour will also see Rahul Dravid, India’s former captain, serving as the head coach of the national side for the first time ever in Ravi Shastri’s absence, who is still in the UK for the five Tests against England. Many believe with Ravi Shastri’s tenure set to get over after the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE, Rahul Dravid will be a strong contender to take over the top job.

Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan (Getty Images)(HT_PRINT)
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Shikhar Dhawan’s Idea Is To Keep Every Cricketer Together And Happy After Being Assigned Captaincy

Shikhar Dhawan’s idea of leadership is all about keeping the flock together and in a good state of mind after he was handed the captaincy for the Sri Lanka tour.

The left-handed opener was given the reins of the team after Virat Kohli and other key players were sent to England for the WTC Final against New Zealand and the five-Test series against the hosts.

Shikhar Dhawan Image Source : AP
Shikhar Dhawan Image Source: AP

Shikhar Dhawan’s Idea Is To Keep Everyone Together And Happy

India’s Sri Lanka limited-overs tour, comprising of three ODIs and as many T20s, will begin on July 18 in Colombo. Shikhar Dhawan has had a long and glittering career for India in one-day internationals. He has represented the country in all three formats but it is the ODIs where he has stamped his authority.

Eight years after making his presence felt and cementing his place in India’s ODI set-up, Shikhar Dhawan will lead the country for the first time when his team takes on Sri Lanka in the first encounter of the three-match ODI series.

“It is a big achievement for me that I have become the captain of the Indian side. As a leader, my idea is to keep everyone together and happy – that is the most important thing,” Dhawan said on the Star Sports show ‘Follow the Blues’.

“We have got a lovely bunch of boys, great support staff, and we have worked earlier as well.”

Rahul Dravid Photo Credit: PTI
Rahul Dravid Photo Credit: PTI

Shikhar Dhawan says he shares good chemistry with legendary Rahul Dravid, who is the head coach for the series.

“I have a good relation with Rahul Bhai. When I started playing Ranji Trophy, I played against him, and I have known him since then. When I went to play India A match, I was the captain, and he was the coach, so there was interaction.

“When he became the director of NCA, we used to go there for around 20 days, so we had a lot of interaction, and now we have good chemistry. And now that we have the chance to play six matches together, so it will be great fun, and I think we all sync nicely,” he said.

Shikhar Dhawan said he is looking forward to working with Rahul Dravid, who will travel with the team as the head coach in the absence of Ravi Shastri, who is with the Test regulars in England. The opener stressed that it’s an honour for him to lead India in Sri Lanka.

Shikhar Dhawan Is Happy To See Youngsters Dreams Of Being In Indian Squad Come True

The selectors have picked several uncapped players, including the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Chetan Sakariya, and Shikhar Dhawan wants the youngsters to enjoy their journey.

“Happy to get the youngsters in the team and see their dreams come true. It’s a big thing that these youngsters have come from their respective home towns with certain dreams, and their dreams are getting fulfilled. And now, they should enjoy the journey which landed them in team India, and they should know the value of their strength and how to improve it,” he said.
Chetan Sakariya Photo Credit: (IPL)
Chetan Sakariya Photo Credit: (IPL)

Shikhar Dhawan said that both the seniors and youngsters from the squad will learn from each other.

“There are seniors in the team, so the youngsters will learn from them, and we will get to learn from the youngsters. Whenever I meet the youngsters they often have new ways of thinking, and I try to learn things which will help us,” Dhawan signed off.

Shikhar Dhawan will lead a 20-man squad comprising of many youngsters who did well in IPL 2020 and/or IPL 2021. Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana, Krishnappa Gowtham and Chetan Sakariya got maiden India call-ups. Varun Chakravarthy was selected earlier twice but couldn’t make it to the final squad owing to injury.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)
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Aakash Chopra Says IPL A Reason Behind India’s Depth In Bench Strength

Aakash Chopra has credited the IPL as a reason behind the depth in Indian cricket. He cited the example of keeper Ishan Kishan overshadowing Virat Kohli on his India debut to substantiate his point.

Ishan Kishan smashed 56 runs off just 32 deliveries during his T20I debut against England earlier this year. He was the dominant partner in his 94-run association with the Indian skipper for the second wicket.

Ishan Kishan and Virat Kohli added 94 runs in 9 overs for the 2nd wicket in the 2nd T20I (Reuters Photo)
Ishan Kishan and Virat Kohli added 94 runs in 9 overs for the 2nd wicket in the 2nd T20I (Reuters Photo)

Aakash Chopra: IPL Allowed 1st Class Cricketers To Play In Front Of Packed Houses

In a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra shed some light on the secrets behind Team India’s depth. The cricketer-turned-commentator highlighted that domestic cricketers getting to contest matches in a high-pressure atmosphere during the IPL has played a significant role.

“The IPL has allowed first-class cricketers to play in front of packed houses. My debut Test was the first game I played in front of a crowd. Ishan Kishan has played so much IPL, that when he got a chance for India, his batting made Virat Kohli look pale in front of him.”

Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra added that not only Ishan Kishan but plenty of Indian cricketers like Suryakumar Yadav have also benefitted from the experience they have gained through the IPL.

“Nitish Rana has not yet made his debut but there is no pressure, he consistently goes in front of the crowd and does not feel any pressure. You can see anyone – Suryakumar Yadav who scooped his first ball for a six in international cricket. Devdutt Padikkal – the same story,” Aakash Chopra said.

The IPL certainly presents a huge stage for talented youngsters to showcase their talents and helps them get rid of their nerves.

Aakash Chopra: IPL Allowed Many Cricketers To Rub Shoulders With World’s Best

Aakash Chopra pointed out that the IPL gives Indian youngsters a chance to play with and against the cream of the crop in world cricket like star overseas bowlers Trent Boult, Kagiso Rabada, and Rashid Khan and batsmen Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard, and David Warner.

“This storm has catapulted India’s journey to the No.1 cricketing nation in the world. The IPL has empowered you, it has encouraged you to dream, it has allowed so many domestic cricketers to rub shoulders with the best in the world.”

The 43-year-old signed off by stating that the IPL forces players to raise their game to meet the required standards.

“You get to know how to handle pressure and expectations, and you are forced to improve the quality of your cricket. So I think IPL has been absolutely phenomenal. It is a terrific vehicle to make you capable of playing for India,” Aakash Chopra said.

Aakash Chopra also credited the broad base of players available, the excellent domestic structure, and BCCI’s role in expanding the game, including the ‘A’ team tours, as other contributors to India’s immense bench strength.

Devdutt Padikkal , RCB Twitter handle
Devdutt Padikkal , RCB Twitter handle

Devdutt Padikkal was impressive in the IPL 2020 and 2021 as he brought up his maiden IPL century in 2021. He will be eager to make his debut for India sooner or later, but he may not be the first-choice opener though. The elegant left-hander is an excellent player of pace bowling.

Varun Chakravarthy was named in the Indian squad for the last two T20I series against Australia and England but the mystery spinner was unlucky to miss out on making his international debut with fitness issues and injury problems.

The left-arm seamer Chetan Sakariya has been a sensation in the IPL for the Rajasthan Royals and India’s long search for a left-arm fast bowler might just be fulfilled. Nitish Rana has been a consistent performer in domestic cricket and a left-hander is a useful option in the batting order as he can play the role of a top-order batsman as well as the finisher and he is going to be very handy with his part-time off-spin.

Krishnappa Gowtham has been a name that has been going around in the Indian domestic circuit for a long time now for his big-hitting capabilities as well as his economical bowling spells with the new ball.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (AP Photo)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (AP Photo)
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It Will Be Beneficial For The Team If The 6 Uncapped Players Carry The Confidence Of IPL In The Sri Lanka Series, Says Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, tour vice-captain says it is not the case as the entire lot of six uncapped players in the squad make it seem that India has come with an inexperienced group for the white-ball series against Sri Lanka has the requisite confidence thanks to IPL.

With major stars like skipper Virat Kohli and his limited-overs deputy Rohit Sharma in England for an upcoming Test series, the Indian team for series against Sri Lanka is being led by opener Shikhar Dhawan and features half a dozen uncapped players.

Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar Image-AP
Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar Image-AP

Bhuvneshwar Kumar: It Will Be Beneficial For The Team If The 6 Uncapped Players Carry The Confidence Of IPL In The Sri Lanka Series

Many of the youngsters impressed in the suspended Indian Premier League 2021 and have been rewarded with their maiden India call-up. They include opening batsman Devdutt Padikkal, pacer Chetan Sakaria, middle-order batsman Nitish Rana, all-rounder Krishnappa Gowtham, opener Ruturaj Gaikwad, and spinner Varun Chakravarthy.

“We have good players and they have experience of IPL, they are young but they have experience of IPL, playing T20 for so many years and they have done well for their teams,” Bhuvneshwar Kumar said on the Star Sport show ‘Follow the Blues.’

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

“So, it will be beneficial for the team that they will carry the confidence of IPL and they are young and talented, there is a good mix with the experienced players and this will be a good tour. Young players who have come for their first tour and came after doing well in IPL so if they do well here then it will be great for their confidence,” Bhuvneshwar Kumar added.

Nitish Rana, Devdutt Padikkal, Rituraj Gaikwad, Krishnappa Gautam, Varun Chakravarthy, and Chetan Sakariya have never played for Team India before.  Out of these six, Varun Chakravarthy is the only player who has been selected in Team India before, but due to fitness issues, he could not play for Team India.

Krishnappa Gowtham, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaekwad have impressed with their performances in the last two IPL seasons, while Nitish Rana has been in great form over the years. Chetan Sakariya’s name is a bit surprising but the 23-year-old has impressed a lot with his bowling in IPL 2021.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s Focus Was To Make A Comeback By Playing Domestic Cricket Before The England Series

The senior pacer had suffered a thigh muscle injury during last year’s IPL which ruled him out of the league as well as the tour of Australia. The bowler made a return to the national squad after a long injury lay-off in the limited-overs home series against England in March. He said playing domestic cricket helped him stay motivated.

“When I was almost recovered, domestic cricket was going on as well. So my focus was to get fit and make a comeback and then I started the preparation for the match,” he said.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2021
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2021[photo: Twitter]

“Before the England series, I played domestic cricket, so that it helps me get the required match practice. One shouldn’t take things lightly while playing domestic cricket and that kept me motivated to play for India and to stay fit,” he added.

The India-Sri Lanka series, which was originally slated, to begin with, the three ODIs on July 13, had to be rescheduled after the home team’s batting coach Grant Flower and data analyst G T Niroshan tested positive for the dreaded virus on their return from the UK tour. The engagement, which comprises three ODIs and as many T20 Internationals, will now start from July 18.

Suresh Raina
Suresh Raina (Image Credit: Twitter)
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3 Youngsters In Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, And Axar Patel Impress Suresh Raina

Suresh Raina is mighty impressed with some of the talented and young cricketers that the country has seen over the last year. They stamped their authority with impressive performances both at home and overseas. At present some of them are in England, readying for what promises to be a gruelling five-Test series, while another group is in Sri Lanka for three T20Is and as many ODIs.

Having made his India debut in 2005, Suresh Raina established himself as one of the key middle-order batsmen. Suresh Raina grew in stature before eventually, he announced his international retirement on August 15 last year.

Currently basking in the success of the release of his biography, Believe, 34-year-old Suresh Raina is enjoying life away from the field for the time being, and in an interview, he spoke on a range of topics. He was asked to name young players from the current India set-up that impressed him.

File image of Suresh Raina.(AP)
File image of Suresh Raina. (AP)

Suresh Raina Names Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, And Axar Patel As 3 Youngsters To Watch Out For

Suresh Raina named RCB opener Devdutt Padikkal (473 runs from 15 matches in IPL 2020 and  195 runs from six matches in IPL 2021) and CSK opener Ruturaj Gaikwad (204 runs averaging 51 in IPL 2020 and 196 runs in 7 games in IPL 2021) and Delhi Capitals spin all-rounder Axar Patel who performed well in absence of Ravindra Jadeja in his debut Test series against England.

Axar Patel made his Test debut in February 2021, six years after playing his maiden limited-overs match for India, and starred so much so with the ball that he ended up picking 27 wickets from the 3 matches in the series. He took 4 five-wicket hauls as England lost the series 3-1.

“I think Devdutt Padikkal from Karnataka. After him, Ruturaj Gaikwad from Maharashtra. He is a gun player. Axar Patel has worked really hard, and he performed brilliantly well in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja,” Raina said.

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

However, the one name that surprisingly eluded Suresh Raina’s list was that of Rishabh Pant, who has been a different player altogether since his return to the Test team in the series against Australia last year. He missed out on being considered a senior player after match-winning innings in Australia and against England at home.

“See, he has entered the senior category. He’s grown. He is also hitting fours now and not only sixes,” he explained.

Besides, Suresh Raina also picked out pacer Mohammed Siraj and credited Rahul Dravid for his contribution to Indian cricket.

Suresh Raina Credited Rahul Dravid Who Has Worked Hard With The Under 19 Team

Rahul Dravid, as a former coach of India A and Under-19 teams, has helped shape careers of some of Indian cricket’s promising youngsters such as Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, and continues to work towards its development as NCA chief and currently coach of the Indian team in Sri Lanka. Suresh Raina wished the Indian team well ahead of their series and sent his best wishes to captain Shikhar Dhawan.

“Even Mohammed Siraj is bowling so well. And somewhere I feel credit goes to Rahul Dravid who has worked extremely hard with the Under-19 team which is why he is with the senior team now and my best wishes to Shikhar Dhawan, that he does well and return to the Test team because he too is a very big player for India and he must be hoping to perform well in Sri Lanka,” Raina added.

Priyam Garg and Rahul Dravid. Pic: Twitter
Priyam Garg and Rahul Dravid. Pic: Twitter

Outside of the Indian team, Suresh Raina listed out names of some of the fringe players, who have produced consistent performances in both domestic cricket and the IPL.

“Then definitely Priyam Garg from Uttar Pradesh. Karn Sharma is another player from Uttar Pradesh who has performed really well. From Punjab, there is Abhishek Sharma, who has impressed me a lot. Sachin Baby is also putting in a lot of hard work,” he added.

Priyam Garg played 14 games in his debut IPL season in 2020 and scored one half-century managing 133 runs in 14 games. Abhishek Sharma has picked 5 wickets in 17 matches and scored 150 runs playing from 2019. Both plays for SRH. Karn Sharma has picked 59 scalps from 67 games while Sachin Baby hasn’t played after 2017 in the IPL.

Hardik Pandya Image Source : GETTY
Hardik Pandya Image Source : GETTY
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Hardik Pandya Has The Ability To Play As A Pure Batsman, Says Sanjay Manjrekar

Sanjay Manjrekar, former Indian cricketer turned commentator has said that Hardik Pandya has the capability to play for India as a “pure batsman”. Notably, Hardik Pandya has not been bowling regularly due to a lower back injury he suffered in 2019.

Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar has said that all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who has not been bowling regularly due to a lower back injury, has the capability to feature in the playing XI as a “pure batsman” as well.

 India all-rounder Hardik Pandya (Reuters Image)
India all-rounder Hardik Pandya (Reuters Image)

Sanjay Manjrekar: Hardik Pandya Has The Ability To Walk Into The Team As A Pure Batsman In Limited Over

The 27-year-old is currently in Sri Lanka with India’s limited-overs squad led by Shikhar Dhawan. Eyes will be on Hardik Pandya during the 6 matches which are also being seen as the final chance for many youngsters like Nitish Rana, Chetan Sakariya, and Devdutt Padikkal to push forward their case for selection in India’s T20I World Cup 2021 squad.

Hardik Pandya’s contribution to the team and place in the playing XI has been a topic of debate because of his lack of bowling recently, however, Sanjay Manjrekar feels otherwise.

“Hardik proved himself in Australia that he is perfectly capable of playing in the team as a pure batter, there is no doubt now that he can do that,” Sanjay Manjrekar said during a virtual interaction.

Sanjay Manjrekar | Sportzpics
Sanjay Manjrekar | Sportzpics

“I am also reading reports that he has started bowling as well. His bowling, all the more-better for India. He has shown that he has the ability to walk into the team as a pure batter in white-ball cricket,” added Sanjay Manjrekar.

The cricketer-turned-commentator also said that the T20 team that India would put up in the upcoming World Cup would be one of the strongest.

“The T20 World Cup squad is almost finalized. India’s T20 cricket is in a very healthy space, so it is not like the 2019 World Cup, where till the end we didn’t find our number four. This T20 team, that India will put up, will be one of the strongest India has ever put up in a T20 format, so I think most of the players are already penciled in.”

After recovering from a career-threatening back injury he suffered in 2019 for which he went back surgery, Hardik Pandya bowled quite impressively and without too much apparent discomfort during the limited-overs series against England. He didn’t bowl in IPL 2020 at UAE and didn’t bowl much in the Australia tour except for one ODI.

Hardik Pandya bowled during an intra-squad game in the Sri Lanka tour. He has bowled sporadically since his back surgery, which has led to his non-selection in Test format.

Ajay Jadeja Backs Future Star Devdutt Padikkal To Open

Former India batsman Ajay Jadeja, who was also part of the interaction, backed young RCB star Devdutt Padikkal to open the innings against Sri Lanka.

“I love Devdutt Padikkal, he is the future, but you have got Prithvi Shaw as well. It all depends on the guys who are running the side at that particular moment. I don’t think it is a choice that Shikhar Dhawan would be making, it will be a choice that the selectors make and of course Rahul Dravid.

“It will show us what Indian cricket is thinking. It is a tough call between all these guys. I would have gone with Padikkal, he is very special,” said Jadeja, adding he was a bit surprised at Dhawan being made the skipper.

Devdutt Padikkal
Devdutt Padikkal (Image Credit: Twitter)

Last year in the IPL 2020, Devdutt Padikkal amassed 473 runs from 15 matches, becoming only the second player in the tournament’s history to score over 400 runs in a debut season. Earlier this year, in IPL 2021, Devdutt Padikkal had taken his tally to 195 runs from six matches, including a century.

Prithvi Shaw earned a call-up into the white-ball squad following his excellent form in IPL 2021 (308 runs) and Vijay Hazare Trophy (827 runs).

Devdutt Padikkal , RCB Twitter handle
Devdutt Padikkal , RCB Twitter handle
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Great Opportunity To Learn From Shikhar Dhawan, Says Devdutt Padikkal

Devdutt Padikkal has said that the upcoming Sri Lanka tour presents a great opportunity for him to learn from fellow southpaw Shikhar Dhawan. India will take on Sri Lanka in six limited-overs internationals, comprising of three ODIs, and as many T20Is, starting on July 13.

Devdutt Padikkal is part of the 20-member squad selected for the tour, with Shikhar Dhawan captaining Team India for the first time.

Shikhar Dhawan Image Source : AP
Shikhar Dhawan Image Source: AP

Devdutt Padikkal: Great Opportunity To Learn From Shikhar Dhawan Who’s Also A Left-Handed Opener

During an interaction on the Star Sports show Follow the Blues, RCB left-handed opener Devdutt Padikkal expressed eagerness to learn from Shikhar Dhawan during the Lanka trip.

“This will be a really great opportunity for me to learn from someone who is similar to me. Obviously, he is also a left-handed opener and I have watched a lot of his batting as I have grown up.

“His Test debut against Australia is pretty unforgettable, to be honest. To see how he batted and how fearless he was on his debut is something I was really inspired by. Cut short, there is a lot I can learn from him and I am looking forward to playing under him.”

Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw of Delhi Capitals during match 2 of the Vivo Indian Premier League. (Photo | ANI)
Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw of Delhi Capitals during match 2 of the Vivo Indian Premier League. (Photo | ANI)

The stylish opener was elated with his selection on the Indian team.

Devdutt Padikkal elaborated: “Dream come true because ever since I started playing cricket at nine years old, this is the moment I have always dreamt about and always wanted to achieve. So to be picked to represent the country is a feeling which is very hard to explain. So I am really grateful for this opportunity.”

It will be interesting to see if Devdutt Padikkal gets a chance to bat at the top of the order during the Sri Lanka tour. Prithvi Shaw is thought to be the front-runner to open the batting alongside Shikhar Dhawan.

Devdutt Padikkal Grateful For IPL Which Has Given Him Platform

Devdutt Padikkal expressed gratitude that his exploits for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the IPL have helped him get a national reckoning.

He observed: “There is a lot of attention on the IPL and being a youngster it was important that as soon as I got that chance, I really made a mark and really cemented my place in the side. IPL has given me that platform and I will always be grateful for that.”

Devdutt Padikkal
Devdutt Padikkal (Image Credit: Twitter)

The 21-year-old also said that he is in awe of the drive his RCB skipper Virat Kohli has towards the game.

Devdutt Padikkal explained: “You can clearly see the passion and dedication he [Kohli] has towards the game. That’s something I have always admired in him and it’s just that how driven he is to being the No.1, the best he can be. When you have someone like that as your leader, you will also want to emulate that same thing.”

Devdutt Padikkal scored his maiden IPL century against the Rajasthan Royals earlier this year before IPL 2021 was postponed indefinitely for the Covid-19 breach in the bio bubble. He will hope to play a crucial role in helping RCB win their maiden IPL title when the tournament restarts in the UAE later this year.

Devdutt Padikkal smashed an unbeaten 101 off only 52 balls as RCB demolished RR by ten wickets in an IPL 2021 game in Mumbai.

Last year in the IPL 2020, Devdutt Padikkal amassed 473 runs from 15 matches, becoming only the second player in the tournament’s history to score over 400 runs in a debut season. Earlier this year, in IPL 2021, Devdutt Padikkal had taken his tally to 195 runs from six matches, including a century.