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Gautam Gambhir

Ajinkya Rahane during the Test series in England. Pic: Getty Images
Ajinkya Rahane during the Test series in England. Pic: Getty Images

There Are A Lot Of People Who’re Breathing Under Ajinkya Rahane’s Neck, Says Aakash Chopra

Aakash Chopra, the former India opener, feels the Test series against New Zealand at home will be extremely crucial for Ajinkya Rahane to keep his career afloat. Aakash Chopra pointed out that India has plenty of young middle-order options waiting in the wings if Ajinkya Rahane fails again.

33-year-old Ajinkya Rahane will be leading India in the first Test against New Zealand. However, he has had a horror run with the bat over the last year, which has seen his average dip to under 40. In fact, he averages a mere 19.58 in 11 Tests in 2021, his lowest average in a year since debuting in 2013.

Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo Source: Getty Images)
Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

Aakash Chopra: Ajinkya Rahane Under Pressure To Keep His Place In The Team Despite Being Captain For The 1st Test

Aakash Chopra agreed when asked if the forthcoming New Zealand Test series will be a do-or-die kind of situation for Ajinkya Rahane.

Speaking on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra commented: “It is extremely important. There are a lot of people who are breathing under his neck. The series is significant because he may be the captain in the first Test, but he is under pressure without doubt.

“If the last Test in England had taken place at Old Trafford, God knows if he would have been there in the playing XI or not, after what happened at The Oval.”

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra added that if the likes of Mayank Agarwal, Shreyas Iyer, or Shubman Gill have an extraordinary series against New Zealand, Ajinkya Rahane will be in greater trouble.

The 44-year-old Aakash Chopra elaborated: “He is the captain for the first Test but Virat Kohli will be back for the second. Remember, when India go to South Africa, Rohit Sharma will be back. For the New Zealand series, India have picked Mayank, Shreyas, Shubman. Whoever gets the opportunity, if he scores a lot of runs, Rahane’s place will come under the scanner. There is Hanuma Vihari as well, who has not been picked for the New Zealand Tests.”

With Virat Kohli being rested for the 1st Kanpur Test, Ajinkya Rahane will lead India in the first Test against New Zealand in Kanpur, which starts on November 25. Ajinkya Rahane has been struggling for runs in red-ball cricket this year, averaging just over 19 in 11 Tests. He will be looking to regain his touch before leading out the Indian team in the series-opener against the inaugural World Test Champions New Zealand on November 25.

Ajinkya Rahane has led India in 5 Tests, and India has won 4 and drawn 1. 3 of those wins came against Australia while one was against Afghanistan.

Gautam Gambhir: Ajinkya Rahane Is Fortunate To Be Part Of Indian Team And He Must Make That Opportunity Count

Former India opener Gautam Gambhir opined that Ajinkya Rahane is lucky to have got another opportunity to save his Test career during the home series against New Zealand. Notably, Ajinkya Rahane has played 40 Tests and scored 7 half-centuries and 3 tons since 2019. Earlier this year, he led India to a historic series win Down Under, but on the batting front, he failed to impress.

Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Speaking of India’s batting combination ahead of the series, Gambhir said on Star Sports: “I am going to open with Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul because he opened in England and then probably Shubman Gill will bat at No. 4. Plus, Rahane is pretty fortunate that he’s still part of this side because he’s leading. But again, he’s got another opportunity now, hopefully, he can make that count.”

Ajinkya Rahane had a poor series in England. He scored 109 runs in four Tests at an average of 15.57. Rahane scored a hundred in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG (Australia 2020/21 Test Series), but then hit the rough patch again. His struggle continued against England at home as he scored just 112 runs in 4 Tests.

During the UK tour, he played a gritty knock of 61 in the second innings of the Lord’s Test, contributing to India’s terrific win. After that, however, he toiled hard even to cross the 20-run mark in the following games.

New Zealand cricket team. (Credits: Twitter)
New Zealand cricket team. (Credits: Twitter)

Gautam Gambhir Would Have Demanded A Refund If He Was A Kiwi Supporter After NZ Lost The 2021 T20I WC Final

Gautam Gambhir’s favourite team after his nation India for the 2021 T20I World Cup was New Zealand, but the Blackcaps left him disappointed with their second-half show in the T20 World Cup final, which Australia won to claim their maiden world title in the shortest format.

The Kiwis did well to put a challenging 172/4 on the board, but the script went woefully wrong for Kane Williamson’s men from thereon. Australia won comfortably by eight wickets, thanks to dominating half-centuries by David Warner and Mitchell Marsh. Opener David Warner’s 38-ball 53 and Mitchell Marsh’s 50-ball unbeaten 77 meant that Australia overhauled the target with consummate ease in 18.5 overs.

Mitchell Marsh and David Warner
Mitchell Marsh and David Warner. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Gautam Gambhir Would Have Demanded A Refund If He Was A New Zealand Supporter After New Zealand Lost Despite Putting 172/4 On Board

New Zealand bowlers, particularly pacer Tim Southee and spinner Ish Sodhi were ineffective as they leaked away more than 11 runs per over. Trent Boult returned with the best figures of 2/18 in 4 overs. James Neesham, too, conceded 15 runs in the solitary over, he bowled.

“My favourite side after India (for the T20 World Cup) was New Zealand. Seeing them bullied around like an apprentice wasn’t a pleasant experience,” the former India opener wrote in his column.

“They batted very well to score 172 for four. More often than not this kind of score isn’t that tough to defend, especially with a balanced attack like that of New Zealand. But clearly the occasion got to them as they didn’t look the same team that beat India or England in the semis.”

Gautam Gambhir AFP
Gautam Gambhir AFP

“New Zealand is one team that prides itself on meticulous planning, clear role definitions, precise execution and all this without any fanfare…If I was a New Zealand supporter, I would have demanded a refund seeing my team all over the place in second half. It wasn’t a performance worthy of a final,” Gautam Gambhir analysed.

Australia reached the target with seven balls to spare, with all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, batting at No. 3, scoring a 50-ball 77 not out. David Warner, named ‘Player of the Tournament’, made 53 off 38 balls.

“While watching Australia beat New Zealand in the finals on Sunday, I was once again tapped on my shoulder by my grandpa’s assessment of great institutions…he once told me ‘good institutions produce individuals, great institutions produce culture.’ He made that remark regarding my school and its legacy,” the 2011 World Cup winner recalled.

“In this case, it was Australian cricket – robust, contextual, in your face and overall brilliant.”

Australia lifted their maiden T20 World Cup trophy with a commanding eight-wicket win over New Zealand in the title clash, which was rendered one-sided by Mitchell Marsh with his blistering 77-run knock on Sunday. Skipper Kane Williamson top-scored for the Black Caps with his 85-run knock, while opener Martin Guptill contributed 28 runs after Australia inserted them in to take the first strike.

Gautam Gambhir  Failed To Understand Why New Zealand Bowled Short And On A Wrong Line To Mitchell Marsh

Gautam Gambhir couldn’t make any head or tail out of the line of attack. New Zealand bowlers chose to bowl to Mitchell Marsh. He smashed 6 fours and 4 sixes in his blistering knock.

“It was hard to understand why they (New Zealand) bowled short and on a wrong line to Mitchell Marsh. He is a Western Australian, played most of his cricket at WACA, Perth. So playing a pull shot would have been the first thing he would have learnt,” said Gautam Gambhir, who was also a member of Indian team that won the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007.

Dew and toss made a lot of news during the T20 World Cup, where winning the toss virtually meant winning the game. The late-evening dew made it difficult for bowlers, and captains invariably chose to bowl first after winning the toss.

“There were a few lessons to be learnt and challenges to be addressed,” Gautam Gambhir wrote.

Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

“I think dew was a big concern. My two cents: go for an early start. There is no harm in starting an hour early to what they were doing now. Players, broadcasters, fans – I don’t think anyone would complain. My second suggestion would be to have a mandatory ball-change after 10 overs in both innings. These two changes may help in restoring balance in the contest.”

Gautam Gambhir also mentioned that ICC should take note of the performance of the associate nations.

“Another area of concern is lack of anything notable from the new teams. Those new kids on the block didn’t seem a part at all. If I was ICC, I would be disturbed. I am all for the romance of amateurs playing professional sport, but then the real story is woven on the field, not off it. It definitely merits attention. Once again it is about the culture that the institution breeds and ICC need to set that part in order,” Gambhir concluded.

The 2021 T20 World Cup featured five Associate nations – the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Namibia, Scotland, and Oman – along with 11 full member nations. Among them, Scotland and Namibia qualified for the Super 12s.

Brief Scores:

New Zealand: 172/4 in 20 overs. (K Williamson 85, J Hazlewood 3/16, A Zampa 1/26).

Australia: 173/2 in 18.5 overs. (M Marsh 77 not out, D Warner 53; T Boult 2/18).

Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Gautam Gambhir Reflects Upon Australia And New Zealand Rivalry

Gautam Gambhir reflects upon the rivalry in the Oceania continent as the T20I World cup 2021 tournament culminates with the Trans-Tasman neighbours Australia and New Zealand vying for the trophy in the final on Sunday night. He reflects on where does this rivalry stand compared to sub-continent Asian giants India and Pakistan.

Australia doesn’t have a reason to change their XI with Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, and Marcus Stoinis providing them with a fifth bowler and Matthew Wade at No. 7, making it a reasonably deep batting line-up.

New Zealand will have to make at least one change after Devon Conway broke his hand when striking his bat in frustration at his dismissal. They are unlikely to change the balance of the side, though, with five full-time bowlers and James Neesham at No. 6. Tim Seifert is the likely replacement for Conway.

Gautam Gambhir AFP
Gautam Gambhir AFP

Gautam Gambhir: New Zealand – Australia Rivalry Isn’t As Fierce As The One Between India-Pakistan

New Zealand and Australia will face each other in the much-awaited finale of the 2021 T20 World Cup in a bid to grab their first world title in this format in international cricket. Out of the 14 matches contested between the two sides, nine have been won by the Aaron Finch-led side, while New Zealand has been on the winning side only four times. One match ended in a tie.

“It is difficult to notice the cricketing rivalry between Australia and New Zealand. Like India and Pakistan, they are neighbours too. Like Indians and Pakistanis, Aussies and Kiwis hate losing to each other. While Wikipedia has a page on ‘India Pakistan Cricket Rivalry’, it is more widespread for Aussies and Kiwis,” Gautam Gambhir wrote in his column.

Encouraged by their cricket, rugby union, rugby league, and netball contests, their Wikipedia address is ‘Australia-New Zealand Sports Rivalries’.

“By no means is the rivalry as fierce as the one between India and Pakistan. Have you wondered why? Are they not cynical enough to create lop-sided advertising campaigns to sell their products riding on what is essentially a cricket match? Or is it economics of the major stakeholders? I have a few thoughts which may not be in the order of relevance but largely my chain of theories.”

India and Pakistan rarely play against each other but have a heated rivalry. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
India and Pakistan rarely play against each other but have a heated rivalry. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

India met Pakistan in their opening match of the T20 World Cup in the UAE. The Babar Azam-led Pakistan put up an inspiring show to hammer Virat Kohli’s India by 10 wickets.

“History of India and Pakistan seems to be at the base of the sporting rivalry. Since 1947 we have fought four times and have had numerous skirmishes on the border. This has seeped into sports too, cricket being the frontrunner,” said Gautam Gambhir.

“I sometimes feel that India-Pakistan rivalry has become an industry in itself, which keeps many other verticals warm. No one seems to be in a hurry to reduce the jingoism volume on this one as it generates revenue,” he added.

Shaheen Shah Afridi ran through Team India’s top-order after he got rid of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul in his opening spell. Then he came back to dismiss Virat Kohli, who scored a half-century. He finished with 3-31 after dismissing India’s top scorer, skipper Virat Kohli for 57 in a total of 151-7 in 20 overs.

But in the end, the target of 152 was not enough as Pakistan openers Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam scored 79*, and 68*, respectively, to win the match for their team by 10 wickets with 13 balls to spare.

Gautam Gambhir Backs New Zealand To Win 2021 T20I World Cup

Gautam Gambhir went on to point out the sheer numbers in terms of population that fuel the Indo-Pak cricket rivalry even further and incomparable to any other.

“The combined population of Australia and New Zealand is around three crores while here we are catering to 22 crore in Pakistan and approximately 140 crore at home. The database is chalk and cheese. Even if 10 percent of population of India and Pakistan are engaged, we are talking to five times more the combined number of Australia and New Zealand,” Gautam Gambhir wrote.

“Then there is a small matter of emotions from Indians and Pakistanis. I am not suggesting that Aussie and Kiwis are heartless but we can’t say, “bad luck” or “well played” and share a post-match drink,” the T20 and ODI World Cup winner said.

New Zealand's Kane Williamson celebrates with the trophy and teammates after winning the final of the ICC World Test Championship. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters
New Zealand’s Kane Williamson celebrates with the trophy and teammates after winning the final of the ICC World Test Championship. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters

“It is not only Virat Kohli but most of India wears their heart on their sleeve. Let’s accept it that we are poor losers and that is what that marketing guy exploits when he sucks us into high-pitched, biased promotional campaigns.

“My friends living in Australia tell me that life has been normal for them. Their major worry is how to stay awake as the final begins around midnight their time,” said Gautam Gambhir.

Coming to the T20 World Cup final on Sunday night, Gautam Gambhir went on to back New Zealand.

“I want New Zealand to win as I like their brand of cricket,” said Gautam Gambhir.

Skipper Kane Williamson will aim to reduce that gap and win his second title of the season, having won the World Test Championship (WTC) after beating India in the final earlier this year. Australia has been the more dominant side in recent history, having won all the last four clashes.

The last time New Zealand won a T20I against Australia was in Dharamsala in the 2016 edition of the T20 World Cup staged in India.

Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting
Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting

Gautam Gambhir Questions Shane Warne And Ricky Ponting Over Silence On David Warner’s ‘Unsportsmanlike Act’ In T20I World Cup Semi-Final Against Pakistan

Gautam Gambhir has questioned former Australian cricket legends Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting over their silence on opener David Warner’s unsportsmanlike act in the T20 World Cup 2021 semi-final against Pakistan. Gautam Gambhir has even branded the incident ‘shameful’ and ‘pathetic’.

Cricket, like every game, is supposed to be played by the rulebook, but certain grey areas continue to be debated about. While Mankading has been one subject that has divided cricket lovers for a long time, an act by David Warner in the T20 World Cup 2021 semi-final against Pakistan has seen the Australian opener being branded ‘unsportsmanlike’.

Gautam Gambhir AFP
Gautam Gambhir AFP

Gautam Gambhir Questioned Shane Warne And Ricky Ponting For Their Silence On David Warner’s ‘Shameful’ Act Of Hitting A Six Off A Mohammad Hafeez Ball Which Slipped Out Of His Hands

Gautam Gambhir — a former opening batsman, full-time politician, and part-time pundit — has been quite vocal about the day-to-day cricketing affairs. Having seen Australian opener David Warner exploit a two-bouncer delivery by Mohammed Hafeez after the ball slipped out of his hands in the match on Thursday, Gautam Gambhir didn’t just take a swipe at the Aussie southpaw but also targeted spin legend, Shane Warne.

On the set of Star Sports, Gautam Gambhir targeted Shane Warne asking why hasn’t the iconic cricketer commented on the incident that saw David Warner hitting a six against Mohammed Hafeez despite knowing that the ball had slipped out of the Pakistani all-rounder’s hand.

“Shane Warne comments and tweets on everything. Even Ricky Ponting makes big, big claims about the spirit of the game. What have they got to say about this?” said Gautam Gambhir while speaking on the broadcaster’s post-match show after the Pakistan vs Australia match.

 David Warner hit a six after the ball slipped out of Mohammad Hafeez's hand and pitched twice (AP Photo)
David Warner hit a six after the ball slipped out of Mohammad Hafeez’s hand and pitched twice (AP Photo)

“When Ashwin does Mankad, they come up with big comments. Today, what has Shane Warne got to say about David Warner? Because it’s easy to criticize someone but extremely difficult to criticize your own players,” Gautam Gambhir added.

Gambhir had also taken to Twitter to brand Warner’s act ‘absolutely pathetic’ and ‘shameful. “What an absolutely pathetic display of spirit of the game by Warner! #Shameful What say @ashwinravi99?”, Gautam Gambhir had written.

David Warner scored a quickfire 49 off 30 balls, taking the attack to the Pakistani bowlers before being dismissed by spinner Shadab Khan. In fact, his dismissal was also a curious one. The left-hander hadn’t quite edged the delivery into the hands of wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan, yet he decided to walk off.

Later, even the UltraEdge showed that there was a huge gap between David Warner’s bat and ball. But, with the non-striker Glenn Maxwell also acknowledging that there was a noise when the ball went past David Warner’s blade, a review wasn’t taken.

Matthew Wade And Marcus Stoinis’ Cameos Takes Australia Over The Line In A Pulsating Finish

Australia beat Pakistan by five wickets in the 2nd semi-final in Dubai. Marcus Stoinis (40*) & Matthew Wade (41*) took the team over the line in a pulsating finish.

Pakistan set Australia a target of 177 in 20 overs in the 2nd semi-final in Dubai. In response, Australia lost their skipper Aaron Finch on a golden duck as Shaheen Afridi trapped him LBW in the first over. Then, David Warner and Mitchell Marsh rebuilt, stitching half-century stand. However, the joy was short-lived as Shadab Khan sent Mitchell Marsh packing on 28 to leave Australia on 57/2 after 7 overs. Then, Steve Smith fell cheaply on five as Shadab Khan’s twin strike rocked Australia.

But David Warner continued on his merry way, smashing 49 before being sent packing by Shadab Khan. Australia reached 95/4 after 12 overs. Glenn Maxwell didn’t last long either as Shadab Khan bagged the fourth scalp, and Australia reached 127/5 in 16 overs.

Matthew Wade
Matthew Wade (PA AAP)

All eyes were on their key man, Marcus Stoinis. He, along with Matthew Wade, put on 81 runs for the 6th wicket in just 6.3 overs to take their side over the line.

Marcus Stoinis smashed 40 not-out, while Matthew Wade hit 41* off 17 balls. 22 runs were needed in the last 12 balls, and Matthew Wade took Australia home with 6 balls to spare. Shaheen Shah Afridi got hammered for three sixes in a row in the penultimate over.

India National Cricket Team.
India National Cricket Team. Image Credits: BCCI

Gautam Gambhir Disappointed Over India’s Early Exit In T20I World Cup 2021 But Urged Fans To Continue Supporting India

Gautam Gambhir, the former Indian opener, expressed his disappointment over India crashing out of the T20 World Cup and urged the fans not to support the team.

India exited the ongoing 2021 T20I World Cup after New Zealand beat Afghanistan to book the second semi-final berth from Group 2 on Sunday.

Gautam Gambhir AFP
Gautam Gambhir AFP

Gautam Gambhir Never Felt Good Seeing India Waiting To Proceed To Semi-Finals Depending On Other Team Results

Virat Kohli’s team came into the tournament as hot favourites but let their future depend on other teams after big losses to rivals Pakistan, who were the first team to make the final four, and then the Kiwis.

In his column, Gautam Gambhir wrote, “This was never a good feeling. As a sportsperson, you’d want to be the master of your destiny rather than wait for a few permutations to go right to know how far you are progressing in a competition. Indian team would tell you what I mean.”

“Champions train to win, they work hard to score that one run more than the opposition and not wait for the result of the New Zealand vs Afghanistan match to know their fate. Crashing out in this manner or for that matter losing out on Net Run Rate like South Africa is a bitter pill to swallow,” Gautam Gambhir said.

India was knocked out of the T20 World Cup after New Zealand beat Afghanistan. (AP Photo)
India was knocked out of the T20 World Cup after New Zealand beat Afghanistan. (AP Photo)

India crashed out of the T20 World Cup after New Zealand registered an 8-wicket win over Afghanistan to join Pakistan, England, and Australia in the semi-final.

“Both these instances underline one common fact – relevance of respecting the small dots while designing a road map to victory. There is no place for ifs and buts in sport, but things could have been different if India had planned better for Shaheen Shah Afridi, or assessed the pitch better when they took on New Zealand in the second game,” Gautam Gambhir said.

“For South Africa, they may be ruing their lack of aggression while chasing a small target of 85 against Bangladesh. Is there a lesson there for the organisers? Should the format be a round-robin, where every team plays each other, rather than have two groups?” Gautam Gambhir questioned.

India crashed to a humiliating 10-wicket defeat against arch-rivals Pakistan in their first match of the tournament. It was followed by another crushing loss against New Zealand. Despite these two defeats, India was still in a three-team fight to finish second in Group 2.

With New Zealand and Afghanistan winning three and two matches respectively from their four matches, and with a better net run rate, the inaugural 2007 T20I World Cup champions needed a massive win against Scotland in Dubai, UAE. India did it in style by first dismissing Scotland for a lowly 85, then chasing it down in just 6.3 overs for their biggest T20I win (in terms of balls to spare).

India managed to leapfrog both New Zealand and Afghanistan in terms of the Net Run Rate (NRR) following their emphatic 8-wicket win against Scotland. However, despite the massive win, India’s semi-final chances were not in their hands. India still hoped for Afghanistan to beat the Kiwis and beat Namibia in their final group match on November 8. But fate had other plans in store for India.

Gautam Gambhir Would Urge Fans To Be Proud Of Indian Team

New Zealand earned the last semi-final slot with a comprehensive eight-wicket win against Afghanistan in their final Group II match on Sunday. Najibullah Zadran smashed a career-best 73 to rescue Afghanistan from a top-order collapse and propelled them to 124-8 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. New Zealand gunned down the target in 18.1 overs to become the second team from Group II, behind Pakistan, to make the semis.

“I’d also urge the fans to continue to be proud of the Indian team. We will be disrespectful and unfaithful as their supporters if we judged them on this solitary performance in the ongoing World Cup. Yes, we lost to Pakistan. Yes, we were beaten on strategy by New Zealand. Yes, our friends from across the border are in the semis and we are not,” Gautam Gambhir said.

“But hold on. This Indian team won us a series in Australia early this year. Next they turned it around when England visited India to beat them in all three formats. We currently lead them 2-1 in the away Test series with the last game to be played next year,” Gautam Gambhir asserted.

T20 World Cup 2021: Najibullah Zadran scored 73 runs. This is the best innings of T20 career. (AP)
T20 World Cup 2021: Najibullah Zadran scored 73 runs. This is the best innings of T20 career. (AP)

India thrashed Afghanistan and Scotland, but it was all too late, and now they find themselves out of the tournament even before their final game against Namibia on Monday.

“Before we take them to the cleaners, please pause and think that all these games were played in a bio-secure bubble. I know a few individuals who were petrified answering their doorbell when Covid-19 was at its peak, leave alone stepping out to work.

“But players were training at home, taking flights, quarantining in a hotel room, living a bubbled life to play and entertain you and me. Yes, they are paid handsomely and it’s a professional world out there. How about just saying, “well-tried, boys”, Gautam Gambhir signed off.

The outcome eliminated India, who will finish their group campaign against Namibia on Monday.

Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Afghanistan Aren’t Pushovers As They Have A Good Bowling Attack: Gautam Gambhir

Gautam Gambhir said it won’t be an easy task for India to go after the Afghanistan bowlers in their must-win Super 12, Group 2 match in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Afghanistan’s batting may not strike fear into the opposition, but their spin-bowling attack comprising Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and Mohammad Nabi is enough to give sleepless nights to any team in the T20 World Cup. Stressing on that point, former India opener Gautam Gambhir said it won’t be an easy task for Virat Kohli and Co. to go after the Afghanistan bowlers in their must-win Super 12, Group 2 match in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Mohammed Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman
Mohammed Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman

Gautam Gambhir: Afghanistan Aren’t Pushovers As They Have A Better Bowling Attack Than Sri Lanka And Bangladesh

Gautam Gambhir said Afghanistan has a better bowling attack than the likes of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The fastest to 100 wickets in 53 T20Is, leg spinner Rashid Khan single-handedly tested Pakistan with his leg-spin before an Asif Ali cameo saw Pakistan win. Mujeeb Ur Rahman, a mystery spinner who has nearly all the variations, returned his career-best T20I figures of 5-20 in his team’s 130-run rout of Scotland.

“Afghanistan aren’t pushovers. They have a better bowling attack than the likes of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,” Gambhir said ahead of India vs Afghanistan encounter. 

India’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals from this group are hanging on a thread. However, after having suffered confidence-denting defeats to Pakistan and New Zealand in their first two matches, their only option is to win their next three games against Afghanistan, Scotland, and Namibia comprehensively and then hope any of these three sides would go on to beat New Zealand, bringing the net run rate into play.

Gautam Gambhir AFP
Gautam Gambhir AFP

Gautam Gambhir said this situation can act as an added motivation to the Indian batters.

“In such a situation when runs are dried up, batters tend to play for their position, which can be extra motivation. Do that and get runs on the board. You try to win first, rather than thinking about the NRR. Once you are in the game, you play according to the situation,” he added. 

The IPL came under severe criticism after India pacer Jasprit Bumrah acknowledged that fatigue was one of the reasons for the Men-in-Blue’s below-par show in this World Cup so far. Gautam Gambhir, however, disagreed.

Gautam Gambhir: One Can’t Blame IPL For The World Cup Debacle

The former left-hander said it is wrong to blame the IPL for the World Cup debacle so far. The Indian batters did not show enough intent against New Zealand, which has nothing to do with the IPL.

“You can’t blame the IPL. If anything goes wrong with Indian cricket, everyone starts pointing fingers towards the IPL. This is wrong. Sometimes, you have to expect that 2-3 teams are playing better cricket than you. The earlier you accept that, the better it will be for you.”

“In the previous game against New Zealand, we weren’t brave enough, we were so nervous before the game. What has that got to do with IPL? It was similar in the 2019 World Cup semi-final as well. At that time, we had come to the World Cup after playing in the Indian Premier League as well!” Gambhir added.

IPL Trophy
IPL Trophy, Image Credits: Twitter

The former KKR skipper said IPL is important to give adequate match practice to players.

“Instead, IPL is important because players need adequate match practice. You can’t go into the World Cup with 2-3 games of practice and warm-ups,” he said. 

India had to beat New Zealand to revive their campaign and were expected to come hard at the Blackcaps, but the complete opposite happened when they took the field in Dubai. Earlier, in their opening game, Virat Kohli’s men couldn’t defend 152 in Dubai as Pakistan’s openers chased it down in 17.5 overs. After being asked to bat first, the Men in Blue managed just 110 for 7 in 20 overs and then saw the Blackcaps gun down the target in just 14.3 overs.

Gautam Gambhir AFP
Gautam Gambhir AFP

Current Indian Team Lacks Mental Strength To Win Knockout Games: Gautam Gambhir

Gautam Gambhir feels the current Indian team lacks the mental strength to win important games, which is why they have lost knockout games in ICC tournaments over the last two years.

Former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir doesn’t think Virat Kohli’s team has the mental strength to win knockout games in ICC tournaments after their 8-wicket defeat against New Zealand in the T20 World Cup on Sunday.

Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

India Managed A Meager 110/7 In Stipulated 20 Overs

India had to beat New Zealand to revive their campaign and were expected to come hard at the Blackcaps, but the complete opposite happened when they took the field in Dubai. Earlier, in their opening game, Virat Kohli’s men couldn’t defend 152 in Dubai as Pakistan’s openers chased it down in 17.5 overs, grabbing two crucial points in the T20 World Cup.

After Pakistan beat India by 10 wickets in their first-ever win over India in a world cup match across formats, the Indian team looked very nervous right from the start of their second game against New Zealand on Sunday.

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

The Men in Blue managed just 110 for 7 in 20 overs after being asked to bat first and then saw the Blackcaps gun down the target in just 14.3 overs. India will now have to win their remaining 3 games and depend on other results to stand a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.

Ishan Kishan opened the batting along with KL Rahul while Rohit Sharma dropped to No. 3, but even that move didn’t work. Ishan Kishan scored just 4 runs from 8 balls, while Rohit Sharma made 14 from as many balls in India’s below-par total of 110 for 7 in 20 overs.

They ended up posting 110 for 7 in stipulated 20 overs, in which they didn’t effectively score runs in nine of those overs (54 dot balls). Worse, they were just able to hit a single boundary between overs 8 and 15 when two spinners-Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner, were in operation. Indian batsmen Ishan Kishan (4 off 8 balls), Rohit Sharma (14 off 14 balls), KL Rahul (18 off 16), Virat Kohli (9 off 17), Rishabh Pant (12 off 19) failed when it mattered most.

Gautam Gambhir: Indian Team Under Virat Kohli Lacks Mental Strength To Win Knockout Games

Gautam Gambhir, however, feels the current Indian team under Virat Kohli lacks the mental strength to win important games, which is why they have lost knockout games in major tournaments over the last two years.

“Yes talent is one thing, you’ve got all the skills and do really well in bilaterals and stuff. But when it comes to this kind of games and tournaments, this is when you have got to stand up and perform,” said Gautam Gambhir.

“This game was literally like a quarterfinal. The problem is with the mental toughness of the side. Suddenly when you know you have got to win the game and can’t make mistakes, in bilaterals it’s different because you can make mistakes there. But in these kind of games, I don’t think India has got that mental strength,” said Gautam Gambhir.

India cricket team. Photo: @BCCI
India cricket team. Photo: @BCCI

“They have the skill and are a very dangerous side. But unfortunately, we can keep talking about it that we need to stand by our team when its not doing well but it’s been a trend and it’s been happening for a very long time in most of these ICC tournaments, whether its the semifinals or the game today as well. When it mattered the most for someone to put his hand up, they just couldn’t,” said Gautam Gambhir.

India will next face Afghanistan in their third match on November 3 in Abu Dhabi in the hope of turning their campaign around in the United Arab Emirates.

Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Gautam Gambhir Criticizes Indian Team Management For Demoting Rohit Sharma To No. 3

Gautam Gambhir lashed out at Team India’s management for demoting Rohit Sharma to no.3 in a must-win encounter against New Zealand on Sunday. The former opener labelled Rohit Sharma as India’s best white-ball cricketer, saying that changing his batting position was “negative thinking” from the think tank.

India slumped to a heavy eight-wicket defeat against Kane Williamson’s men after a 10 wicket loss to Pakistan. With Suryakumar Yadav being unavailable as he was unfit, India included Ishan Kishan in the playing XI. The southpaw opened alongside KL Rahul, with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to follow. But the move didn’t pay dividends as any of the top four scored more than 18 runs, and India could only put up 110 runs on the board.

Gautam Gambhir AFP
Gautam Gambhir AFP

Gautam Gambhir: If One Expects Ishan Kishan To Do Something That Rohit Sharma Can’t, It’s The Wrong Mindset

Gautam Gambhir’s remarks came while speaking on a chat. He also said India, expecting Ishan Kishan to play better than Rohit Sharma at the top of the order, had led bare the issues in the team and displayed a “wrong mindset”.

Gautam Gambhir said: “If you expect Ishan Kishan to do something that Rohit Sharma can’t then there are issues and it’s the wrong mindset. If you are thinking that Ishan Kishan will give you a flying start of 60 runs in the first six overs and then Virat and Rohit can come and milk it, it is wrong because we haven’t seen a better white-ball cricketer than Rohit Sharma. The player has four T20I hundreds and you are still batting him at No.3 then it’s negative thinking.”

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

Ishan Kishan (4 off 8) got out playing a lofted flick off his pads against Trent Boult that went straight to the fielder at square leg. Rohit Sharma (14 off 14), meanwhile, was looking good after getting dropped on the first ball, but he mistimed a loose short ball from Ish Sodhi to long-on.

New Zealand chased the target with more than five overs to spare. The Indian batsmen Ishan Kishan (4 off 8 balls), Rohit Sharma (14 off 14 balls), KL Rahul (18 off 16), Virat Kohli (9 off 17), Rishabh Pant (12 off 19) failed when it mattered most.

Gautam Gambhir: There’s Panic In The Dressing Room

Like many others in the cricket fraternity, Gautam Gambhir assessed India’s changes to the batting order as a sign of “panic in the dressing room”. He said the team could have played Ishan Kishan at no.3 and the skipper at no.4 instead. India ended up posting 110 for 7 in stipulated 20 overs, in which they didn’t effectively score runs in nine of those overs (54 dot balls).

Gautam Gambhir said: “You could have opened with Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul and if Virat Kohli had to play at No.4 only then Ishan Kishan could have come at No.3. I believe that one change forces you to make a lot more. Virat Kohli changed his own position, Rohit Sharma’s position – this shows your mentality and that there’s panic in the dressing room.”

KL Rahul And Rohit Sharma (Image Credit: Twitter)
KL Rahul And Rohit Sharma (Image Credit: Twitter)

Ishan Kishan, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, and Virat Kohli all perished cheaply against New Zealand as India lost their first four wickets with only 48 on the board within 10 overs. Their net run rate was below 5, and the pressure to not lose wickets besides accelerating the run rate was a tough ask for India’s next-in-line batsmen.

None of the strike rates of any Indian batsmen was above 120 except Ravindra Jadeja, whose unbeaten 26 off 19 at a strike rate of 136.84 gave India a somewhat respectable total. India will now most likely need to beat remaining opponents Afghanistan, Scotland, and Namibia while hoping that other results and the net run rate equation go their way if they are to make it into the final four.

Gautam Gambhir AFP
Gautam Gambhir AFP

Gautam Gambhir Slams Trollers For Questioning Mohammad Shami’s Integrity Towards Team And Country

Gautam Gambhir on Wednesday lashed out at trollers for questioning the integrity of Indian pacer Mohammad Shami after the team’s defeat to Pakistan on Sunday.

Virat Kohli’s men couldn’t defend 152 in Dubai as Pakistan’s openers chased it down in 17.5 overs, grabbing two crucial points in the T20 World Cup. Criticism of the players is not new, but Mohammad Shami bore the brunt of the abuse and racial slurs on this occasion even though no Indian bowler took a wicket.

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

Gautam Gambhir Questions Why Mohammad Shami’s Integrity Towards Team And Country Was Being Questioned

Writing in his column, Gautam Gambhir bluntly declared the questions raised about pacer Mohammad Shami’s integrity towards India and the team as “ridiculous”. He sounded a worried note about the country’s future if some players were considered more ‘committed’ than others because of their religion.

He wrote: “…India lose to Pakistan on Sunday. By Monday/Tuesday Mohammad Shami’s integrity towards his team and country was being questioned. How ridiculous can that be? Is it to say that Jasprit Bumrah or Bhuvneshwar Kumar were more committed because they belong to a certain religion? Where are we heading?”

Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Gautam Gambhir then recalled the time he led Mohammad Shami at Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), saying the pacer is a hard-working and committed man who just had an “off-day”. He also questioned why fans can’t simply praise Pakistan or any other opponent and move on.

Gautam Gambhir further wrote: “I know Shami very well as I have led him in KKR. He is hard-working, committed fast bowler who just had an off day. Unfortunately for him, it happened against Pakistan. But that can happen to anyone. Why can’t we just say, “well done Pakistan” and leave it at that?”

Social media was used to build a narrative that Indian fans had trolled Mohammad Shami posting hateful comments after India’s defeat in the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup on Sunday by the Pakistani cricket team. According to a report, an orchestrated disinformation campaign against Mohammed Shami was launched after India’s defeat against arch-rival Pakistan and he was subjected to online abuse. Once the match ended, fans on Instagram and Twitter posted derogatory statements against the Indian pacer.

Seeing the heckling, support poured in for Mohammad Shami through all quarters of the cricket fraternity. The pacer is likely to return to action when India takes on New Zealand on Sunday, October 31. While the BCCI has not released an official statement on the issue, a comment from Virat Kohli is expected before the match.


Gautam Gambhir: Quinton de Kock Refusing To Take The Knee For BLM A Shame

Gautam Gambhir also weighed in on the controversy that popped up after South Africa’s Quinton de Kock refused to take a knee in support of the fight against racism ahead of the team’s match against West Indies. The Indian former opener called it a ‘shame’ and acknowledged that clarity on the matter is crucial.

Quinton de Kock’s absence from South Africa’s second T20 World Cup match against 2016 defending champions West Indies was down to his stand on not taking a knee for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Gautam Gambhir wrote: “I am glad to note that cricketing fraternity stood up for Shami and there was support from all corners. As this episode was dying down another one cropped up. Quinton De Kock refusing to knee down for the “Black Lives Matter” campaign was a shame.”

Quinton de Kock Photographer: Isuru Sameera Peiris/Getty Images
Quinton de Kock Photographer: Isuru Sameera Peiris/Getty Images

“I am not sure what are his reasons to abstain but the matter demands more clarity. Anything left to speculate in a shoot-happy world of social media is going to complicate matters even more. And remember the team is South Africa, a nation which has had its share of racism inflicted episodes.”

South Africa won against the Windies by eight wickets and will now lock horns with Sri Lanka on Saturday. Quinton de Kock has apologized to his teammates and fans for the “hurt, confusion, and anger” he caused by refusing to follow a CSA directive to take the knee at the T20 World Cup and sitting out the game against West Indies.

Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

T20I World Cup 2021: Gautam Gambhir Said Nothing Will Impact India’s Performance Predicting India To Win Against Pakistan

Gautam Gambhir, a former Indian cricketer, said that Team India are firm favourites to win their upcoming T20 World Cup 2021 clash against Pakistan on Sunday, October 24, at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Gautam Gambhir, who retired back in December 2018, said that external factors won’t affect Virat Kohli and Co. going into the marquee clash.

India and Pakistan have faced each other five times in the T20 World Cup, and the Men in Blue have come out trumps every other time. The last time the two teams met was in 2016 when Virat Kohli’s knock took India over the line at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli (BCCI)

Gautam Gambhir: Nothing Will Impact India’s Performance

In fact, in the T20I World Cups, Virat Kohli has scored 169 runs from three innings against the arch-rivals Pakistan. In all those three innings, he remained unbeaten. 78* off 61 balls (2012), 36* off 32 balls (2014), and 55* off 37 balls (2016) were his scores against Pakistan in the T20I World Cups.

Virat Kohli has been India’s highest run-getter against Pakistan in T20Is. He has scored 254 runs from six innings at 84.66 with two fifty-plus scores and a strike rate of 118.6.

“My best wishes are with the team. They have performed well till now. They will surely win. I have full confidence in them. The team is doing great. Nothing will impact their performance. The team will play well and will win,” Gautam Gambhir was quoted as saying.

Prior to the much-awaited game, the Pakistan cricket fraternity and their players have dropped in several comments. However, Gautam Gambhir reckoned that Virat Kohli’s men are less likely to pay heed to the remarks.

“Pakistan always says like this. If India plays with the same potential then we can win over any country,” Gautam Gambhir stated.

Pakistan pacer Hasan Ali | AFP
Pakistan pacer Hasan Ali | AFP

India will be going into the contest after back-to-back wins against England and Australia in the warm-ups at the ICC Academy Ground. In both games, they chased down targets in a comprehensive manner. Pakistan, on the other hand, started with a win over the West Indies. Then, however, they slumped to a defeat against South Africa after Hasan Ali leaked 22 runs off the final over. India has never beaten Pakistan in World Cups regardless of the format.

Gautam Gambhir Wants Nobody To Sleep With An Empty Stomach

The Delhi-born Gautam Gambhir also had a few words to say about Jan Rasoi, an initiative he set up to serve healthy and nutritious food to poor people.

“I want nobody to sleep empty stomach. With that idea, I am come up with Jan Rasoi. From each centre we are feeding around 4,000 people. I want to open more such centres so that we can feed more needy people,” Gambhir added.

Gautam Gambhir AFP
Gautam Gambhir AFP
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. In a comprehensive all-around bowling performance, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Imad Wasim, Haris Rauf, and Hasan Ali found themselves amongst the wickets before a half-century from Babar Azam, and an unbeaten 24-ball 46 from Fakhar Zaman saw Pakistan cruised to a 7 wicket win.
Pakistan 131 for 3 (Babar 50, Zaman 46*, Walsh 2-41) beat West Indies 130 for 7 (Hetmyer 28, Hasan Ali 2-21, Rauf 2-32, Afridi 2-41) by seven wickets

Rassie van der Dussen got an emphatic ton that resulted in South Africa clinching a last-ball thriller against Pakistan. Chasing a stiff 186, South Africa was kept in the chase largely by Rassie van der Dussen, and with 19 needed off the final over, he helped them over the finish line and struck fours off the last two balls from Hasan Ali. David Miller, too hit a crucial six in the final over before Rassie van der Dussen registered his ton off the final ball of the match.

Brief Scores: Pakistan 186/6 (Fakhar Zaman 52; Kagiso Rabada 3-28) lost to South Africa 190/4 (Rassie van der Dussen 101*, Temba Bavuma 46) by six wickets.

Against England in their first warm-up game, chasing a target of 189, India reached 192 for three in 19 overs. KL Rahul smashed 51 off 24 deliveries, and Ishan Kishan retired after playing a knock of 70 runs off 46 balls.

In their second warm-up game, India thumped Australia by nine wickets with Rohit Sharma (60 retired off 40), KL Rahul (39 off 31), and Suryakumar Yadav (38), all getting some runs under their belts as India chased down Australia’s 152 for five in 17.5 overs.

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