India vs Australia 2020/21 | Sportzwiki

India vs Australia 2020/21

Virat Kohli in action during the third day of the WTC final against New Zealand. (File)
Virat Kohli in action during the third day of the WTC final against New Zealand. (File)
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Virat Kohli’s Team Goes To Australia Thinking To Win Unlike MS Dhoni: Harbhajan Singh

Virat Kohli may have not won an ICC trophy with India, but there is no doubt that he has taken this team to unprecedented heights in world cricket. With 39 Test wins, he is India’s most successful Test captain of all time, and with him in charge, the Indian team has accomplished distinctions that not too many thought it could.

From winning a Test series in Australia to having England on the mat earlier this year, the Test skipper has transformed India into a formidable unit. Former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh on Monday shared the perfect anecdote to show how the Indian Test captain played the role of a leader and shaped this present India team.

Harbhajan Singh poses for a photograph ahead of a practice session © AFP
Harbhajan Singh poses for a photograph ahead of a practice session © AFP

Harbhajan Singh: In Virat Kohli’s Captaincy, Indian Team Goes To Australia Thinking To Win Test Series

Harbhajan Singh said that Virat Kohli’s aggressive attitude on-field goes with Team India besides admitting that it perfectly suits this team and that they need more players like him to lead this Indian team forward.

“It suits perfectly actually and we need players like him in the team to can take the team forward. When team used to go to Australia, they used to think about how to save the Test match. In Virat’s captaincy, team goes to Australia thinking how they can win the Test series,” he said.

Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Image Source: AP IMAGE

Veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh has played a lot of cricket under MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli. A few days after announcing his retirement from all forms of cricket, the ace spinner pointed the difference between the two leaders. Harbhajan Singh reckoned had Virat Kohli been as soft as MS Dhoni, he would not have scored so many runs. The veteran spinner also confessed that when MS Dhoni was leading the side in Australia, the goal was to draw the Test.

Harbhajan Singh ended his glittering 23 years career as the fourth-highest wicket-taker from India in Tests with 417 wickets and fifth among Indian bowlers in ODIs with 269 scalps. Harbhajan Singh played a key role in the historic Kolkata Test in 2001, wherein he picked up a match haul of 13 wickets and became the first-ever Indian bowler to take a Test hat-trick.

He played a key role in helping India win the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 and was later instrumental in India becoming the first team to win a World Cup at home in 2011.

Virat Kohli’s Aggressive Approach Made Him The Player He Is Nowadays: Harbhajan Singh

The veteran spinner, who announced his retirement last Saturday, recalled one of his conversations with Virat Kohli hinting towards the latter’s Adelaide knock of 141 in 2014 against Australia where the 33-year-old had stressed India’s need to fight and win series in overseas conditions and not aim to save the Test.

“I remember in one of those series, where he had scored a lot of runs, although India had lost the Test series. India had to chase some 400 runs in that match and Kohli had scored a big century. So when he returned to the pavilion I told him that match could have ended in a draw, but he replied that ‘there is no importance of a drawn Test, either you win or you lose and the day we learn to fight, we will learn to win and someday we will’,” Harbhajan recalled. 

Virat Kohli with MS Dhoni Aijaz Rahi / AP
Virat Kohli with MS Dhoni Aijaz Rahi / AP

“And that is the change you have noticed in this Indian side. They went to Australia and beat them twice, they played well in England and I hope they beat South Africa in this series. So Kohli has perfectly played his role as a leader. And the aggressive approach, that has made Kohli the player he is today. Had he been soft like MS Dhoni, I don’t think he would have scored these many runs.”

India did lose that series in 2014 where the current Test skipper had taken over the captaincy from MS Dhoni following his shock retirement post the Adelaide game, but four years later, he led the team to a historic Test series win Down Under, which was India’s first-ever win in Australia.

The team emulated the feat in the 2020/21 series as well, despite missing most, if not all their regular players, which included a famous Gabba win. The regular skipper too had taken a paternity leave after playing only the 1st Test which India lost comprehensively.

Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant
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Rishabh Pant Has Matured Keeping Batting Style Intact, Says Yuzvendra Chahal

Yuzvendra Chahal, Indian limited-overs specialist leg spinner has stated that young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant has matured while keeping his aggressive batting style intact.

Rishabh Pant has been one of India’s star performers across all formats in the last few months, starting with the Test series in Australia and then against England at home.

Yuzvendra Chahal
Yuzvendra Chahal. Image Credits: Twitter

Yuzvendra Chahal: Rishabh Pant’s Batting Style Hasn’t Changed But He Has Become Mentally Tougher

In an interview with Sports Tak, Yuzvendra Chahal opined that the changes in Rishabh Pant’s game have been more about the mental aspect as opposed to anything technical.

“Rishabh Pant’s batting style hasn’t changed, but he has become mentally tougher. He is more clear about what he wants to do now and has begun to take greater responsibility. I would say he has really matured of late. I remember he had come into the team midway through the 2019 World Cup.

“When we lost the semi-final (against New Zealand), he was really hurt. As an elder brother I could see that he had been impacted a lot. I spoke to him during that phase and he came out of it well,” Yuzvendra Chahal said.

Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)
Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)

Yuzvendra Chahal picked the Gabba knock and the century in Ahmedabad as two of Rishabh Pant’s finest batting efforts. 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.

“In Australia, he scored that 89 not out at the Gabba to take the team to victory. Even in the Ahmedabad Test (fourth Test against England), when the ball was turning a lot, he managed to crack an excellent hundred. Those knocks proved his maturity and his hunger. Earlier, he was not able to perform consistently, but now he has understood what he needs to do to succeed at this level. I am glad he has taken the responsibility and is proving his worth,” Yuzvendra Chahal added.

He had led India to victory at Brisbane and then his scintillating hundred against England at Motera impressed everyone. Rishabh Pant, who did well in Tests in Australia and against England at home, captained for the first time in IPL 2021.

Rishabh Pant scored 274 runs in 3 Tests in Australia averaging 68.5. He scored 91,11, unbeaten 58, 8, and 101 in the 5 innings against England. He managed 270 runs against England in 4 Tests averaging 54.

Rishabh Pant Has Played A Huge Role In India Reaching WTC Final: Saba Karim

Former India wicket-keeper Saba Karim has named Rishabh Pant as the “principal contributor” behind India qualifying for the World Test Championship (WTC) final. During a discussion on India News, Saba Karim pointed out that Rishabh Pant’s significant contributions helped the team’s cause in recent months.

“I feel the World Test Championship final that is going to happen and after that the five Test matches in England, Rishabh Pant will have to play a huge role in that. We should not forget that Rishabh Pant has played a huge role in India reaching the World Test Championship final.

“If you ask me, I will say that in the entire Indian Test team, Rishabh Pant has had the biggest role in India reaching this stage, both as a batsman and with the wicketkeeping gloves,” Saba Karim said.

Saba Karim
Saba Karim (Source: Twitter)

Rishabh Pant recently led the Delhi Capitals in IPL 2021 after regular skipper Shreyas Iyer was ruled out of the competition due to injury. DC had an impressive run under the young wicketkeeper-batsman and, in fact, were the table-toppers with six wins from eight matches when the T20 league was postponed.

Deep Dasgupta. Photo Credit (Twitter)
Deep Dasgupta. Photo Credit (Twitter)
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Deep Dasgupta Reckons Tim Paine Is Making Excuses As India Didn’t Play Mind Games

Deep Dasgupta has reacted to Australia Test team captain Tim Paine’s comment which he stated that India is good at niggling and distracting their oppositions. Notably, India had defeated hosts Australia in the absence of several senior players in the 4th and decisive Test at Gabba in January.

Former India wicketkeeper-batsman Deep Dasgupta reacted to Tim Paine’s comment, saying Australia messed it up as India didn’t play mind games for none of the players denied travelling to Brisbane, Gabba.

Deep Dasgupta. (Photo Source: Instagram)
Deep Dasgupta. (Photo Source: Instagram)

Deep Dasgupta: Tim Paine Making Excuses As The Decision Of Not Going To Gabba Was A Genuine Issue

Australia Test team captain Tim Paine, speaking to the press on Thursday, pointed fingers at reports of India unwilling to go to Brisbane for the final Test of the 4-match Test series as one of their efforts to distract the host team. While there was speculation about India’s reluctance over quarantine rules in Brisbane, none of the players or the team management said they would not travel to Queensland.

Eventually, the final Test went ahead at the Gabba only to see Australia lose in the longest format at the venue for the first time in 32 years.

Australia Test skipper Tim Paine
Australia Test skipper Tim Paine (Photo | AP)

What made the win more special was that India played the final Test without Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari. All the aforementioned players, except Virat Kohli (who took a paternity leave), got injured by the end of the third Test in Sydney. From getting all-out on 36 in the first Test, India bounced back to seal the series 2-1 in their favour.

“Part of the challenge of playing against India is they’re very good at niggling you and trying to distract you with stuff that doesn’t really matter and there were times in that series where we fell for that,” Tim Paine said, as quoted by news.com.au.

“The classic example was when they said they weren’t going to the Gabba so we didn’t know where we were going. They’re very good at creating these sideshows and we took our eye off the ball.”

Speaking to Sports Today, Deep Dasgupta has said that the Indian team never indulges itself in mind games and sideshows, adding that not even a single person from the camp denied travelling to Brisbane, where they had to follow strict quarantine rules. The 43-year-old added that the Australian team just messed it up and lost a Test at Gabba for the first time in 32 years.

“I don’t think he is making excuses, to be honest. After so many months I think he was answering a question or whatever. But having said that, the fact that they did take their eyes off the ball is their fault, isn’t it? There was a genuine issue there, it was not that India was trying to plan up an issue,” Deep Dasgupta said.

“It was a genuine issue of the Indian team going there, getting into a quarantine, into isolation before a game. It was a genuine issue which the Indian team brought up and mind you none of the players, team management and coaching staff said anything about it. It was just hearsay or people generally talking or rumours. I don’t think any players of support staff said about not going to Gabba,” Deep Dasgupta said.

Tim Paine received a lot of flak after his side went 2-1 against a depleted Indian side which was without captain Virat Kohli after the first Test wherein the visitors were bundled out for 36, their lowest-ever Test score. India bounced back, hammering Australia in Melbourne before they sealed a heroic draw in Sydney, denying Australia with some gutsy batting on a Day 5 pitch at the SCG.

Deep Dasgupta: Australia Messed It Up And It Was Their Fault To Take Their Eyes Off The Ball

The problems got bigger and bigger for India as they were without even one of their frontline bowlers for the fourth and final Test at the Gabba, where Australia hadn’t lost a Test since 1988. However, stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane’s men breached the Gabba fortress, sealing an emphatic win after chasing down 329 on the final day.

“If there was no official statement what were they talking about and what are they talking about, who were they listening to. So, basically, they messed it and lost after 30-plus years at Gabba, they lost back-to-back series to India without the Indian team not having quite a few players available for that game.

“It’s their fault to take their eyes off the ball. I don’t think India played any mind game, to be honest. I find it really amusing that he has to bring this up now and I mean just too bad that they fell for it. I don’t think I have never heard of an Indian team playing mind games and sideshows,” Deep Dasgupta told Sports Today.

Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Image Source: AP IMAGE

Virat Kohli-led India is set to travel to England for the World Test Championship final versus New Zealand followed by a 5-match Test series against Joe Root‘s men. India defeated England 3-1 in the homes Test series after their Australia tour which concluded in January.

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Kuldeep Yadav Admits Of Missing MS Dhoni Behind The Stumps

Kuldeep Yadav admitted that he misses the guidance of former India captain MS Dhoni. There was a time when the spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal made for the two first-choice spinners for India.

Both spinners had a knack of picking up wickets in tandem, and the pair of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav would even often pip Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin to be in the playing XI in limited-overs cricket.

Yuzvendra Chahal (left) and Kuldeep Yadav have been India's premier spin pairing for the last two years. | Ron Gaunt / BCCI / SPORTZPICS
Yuzvendra Chahal (left) and Kuldeep Yadav have been India’s premier spin pairing for the last two years. | Ron Gaunt / BCCI / SPORTZPICS

Kuldeep Yadav Miss Guidance Of MS Dhoni Behind The Wicket

But things have changed since last year. The wrist spin duo has struggled and their performances have dipped. The two India spinners often find themselves out of the playing XI.
In fact, Kuldeep Yadav, who had an insipid series against England at home earlier this year, was not picked in the squad for the England tour which includes the WTC Final. Once a vital member of both India and KKR’s attack, the chinaman spin bowler has struggled recently and he is not even a regular in the playing XI.
In a recent interview, Kuldeep Yadav admitted that he misses the guidance of former India skipper MS Dhoni. The former wicketkeeper-batsman was an integral reason behind the success of ‘Kul-Cha’. MS Dhoni was often seen suggesting bowling plans to the pair from behind the stumps, and he would often back them when chips were down.
Kuldeep Yadav
Kuldeep Yadav Photo Credit: AP

“Sometimes I miss that guidance because he (Mahi) has a great experience. He used to guide us behind the wicket, kept screaming! We miss his experience,” Kuldeep said in an interview with Indian Express.

The chinaman spinner didn’t perform up to expectations for India as well having picked only 6 wickets in 2020 bowling 50 overs in ODIs averaging above 50. He hasn’t picked up a wicket in 2021 in ODIs despite bowling 19 overs.

Kuldeep Yadav Said Ever Since MS Dhoni Left, He Played Only A Handful Of Games

Last season, Kuldeep Yadav returned with just one wicket in five IPL 2020 matches at UAE, of which he was not given the ball in one. Kuldeep Yadav was also a member of the Indian squads in the recent series against Australia and England. But he featured in only one ODI in Australia and one Test and two ODIs against England without any noteworthy performances.

“Rishabh is there now, the more he plays, the more input he will give in the future. I always felt every bowler needs a partner who can respond from the other end,” Kuldeep added.

Kuldeep Yadav (left) and MS Dhoni | Deepak Malik/SPORTZPICS
Kuldeep Yadav (left) and MS Dhoni | Deepak Malik/SPORTZPICS

“When Mahi was there, I and Chahal were playing. Ever since Mahi left, Chahal and I haven’t played together. I played only a handful of games after Mahi left,” he further said.

“I must have played ten-odd games. I had even taken a hat-trick. If you look at the performance as a whole, it will look pretty decent but if one breaks it up then my performance sometimes can look not up to the mark,” he signed off.

In the first ODI against England, Kuldeep Yadav was hit for 68 runs in 9 overs. In the 2nd ODI, he was hammered for 84 runs in 10 overs. He had a tough last few years in international cricket. His figures in the England ODI series read 0-152 in 19 overs. The chinaman spinner has only played 7 ODIs from January 2020 for India.

He played only one out of the 4 Tests against England but did not get a place in the squad for the T20I series. The 26-year-old chinaman spinner finally played the 2nd Test against England after the one against Australia in January 2019.  He debuted in all three formats in 2017 but has only played 7 Tests, 61 ODIs, and 21 T20Is.

Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2021
Shubman Gill[photo: Twitter]
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Sunil Gavaskar Opens Up On Why Shubman Gill Struggled In IPL 2021

Sunil Gavaskar, former Indian opener and a legendary batsman has reckoned that young opener Shubman Gill was struggling to score because of the pressure of expectations. He said that there will be failures and Shubman Gill will have to learn from them.

Former India batsman Sunil Gavaskar has reckoned that Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) opener Shubman Gill struggled in IPL 2021 because of the pressure of expectations.

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

Sunil Gavaskar: Shubman Gill Failed Due To Pressure Of Expectations

Shubman Gill scored 440 runs in 14 matches at an average of 33.84 in IPL 2020 but in the 14th edition, he struggled to score in all the 7 matches KKR played before the postponement of the tournament in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. 71-year-old Sunil Gavaskar said that Shubman Gill is “just a 21-year-old kid” and that he should just relax and learn from the failures. Shubman Gill scored only 132 runs averaging 18.85 in 7 games before IPL 2021 was postponed indefinitely.

Shubman Gill | Vipin Pawar / Sportzpics for BCCI
Shubman Gill | Vipin Pawar / Sportzpics for BCCI

“I think what I feel about Shubman Gill is that suddenly, the pressure of expectation is getting to him. Before this, it was different. He was just a young promising newcomer, but now with the performances in Australia, the expectation is that he is going to score, and maybe that pressure of expectation is weighing him down,” Gavaskar said on Star Sports.

Shubman Gill was acquired by the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2018 and turned in useful contributions for them in his debut season and next 2 seasons- 2019 and 2020 averaging in excess of 30 each time. He made his ODI debut for India in New Zealand in 2019, made his Test debut in Australia in 2020, and is touted for big things in the future.

Sunil Gavaskar: Shubman Gill Needs To Relax, Learn From Failures And Play Freely

In three Tests in Australia, he scored 259 runs at a brilliant average of 51.80 with two half-centuries besides his name. Shubman Gill’s brilliant innings of 91 were instrumental in Team India ending Australia’s 32-year unbeaten streak at the Gabba, Brisbane.

The 21-year-old Punjab batsman has recorded scores of 29, 50, 0, 14, 11, 15*, and 0 in the next England Test series, managing only 119 runs averaging a mere 19.83 in 4 Tests.

“He just needs to relax. He is just a 21-year-old kid. There will be failures and he has to learn from those failures. He’s just got to open and play freely, without worrying about expectations. The runs will come if he plays his natural game. Trying to play across the line and trying to score off every delivery because of the pressure of expectation, he’s actually getting himself out,” Sunil Gavaskar added.

Shubman Gill (Express photo: Jasbir Malhi)
Shubman Gill (Express photo: Jasbir Malhi)

Shubman Gill is part of India’s 20-man squad for the World Test Championship (WTC) final and 5-match Test series against and in England. The Punjab-born cricketer is expected to open the innings with Rohit Sharma, ahead of Mayank Agarwal. So far, the youngster has scored 3 fifties in 7 Test matches.

Brisbane Test: India beat Australia by 3 wickets at Gabba to win series 2-1, retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy Image Source : AP IMAGE
Brisbane Test: India beat Australia by 3 wickets at Gabba to win series 2-1, retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy Image Source : AP IMAGE
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Michael Vaughan Looks Back At India’s Historic Test Series Win In 2020/21 Against Australia

Michael Vaughan looked back at India’s historic Test series win in Australia in the 2020-21 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, calling it a ‘brilliant series to watch’.

After losing the first Test in Adelaide by eight wickets, India roared back to take the series 2-1, winning the second and fourth Tests in Melbourne and Brisbane respectively, while the third Test match in Sydney ended in a magnificent draw.

Michael Vaughan (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Michael Vaughan. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Michael Vaughan: India And Australia Series 2020/21 Was A Brilliant Series To Watch

With regular skipper Virat Kohli returning home after the first Test, the odds were stacked against India and their stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane. Despite losing several key players to injury as the series progressed, India fought back to register one of their greatest Test series wins of all time.

“It was a brilliant series to watch. The Aussies pummeling them at the Adelaide Oval – 26 all out. Then Virat going back home to be next to his wife giving birth. No one gave India a chance, I don’t care who you are,” Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, said while talking on Fox Cricket.

“The way that they bounced back and Ajinkya Rahane’s captaincy was spectacular. And then to get to Sydney and the Aussies just pummel them for a few days. There’s nothing like the last day battling out for a draw, ” Michael Vaughan said.

If winning the second Test was remarkable in its own sense, what followed in Sydney and Gabba were on epic proportions. With their back against the wall, India produced a memorable draw in Sydney.

Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari. AP Photo

Starting the final day at 98/2 and needing 309 to win, India battled throughout the day with Rishabh Pant scoring a magnificent 97, along with Cheteshwar Pujara’s knock of 77. They added 148 runs and even though the partnership was broken, Ravichandran Ashwin and an injured Hanuma Vihari produced a marathon match-saving effort.

Michael Vaughan: Very Special Rishabh Pant Enlighted Last 2 Tests

As the action moved to Gabba for the final game of the series – a venue where Australia had not lost a Test match since 1988, no one gave India a chance, and yet, the visitors proved everyone wrong, winning the match by three wickets, with Rishabh Pant once again leading India’s charge with an unbeaten 89, along with half-centuries from Cheteshwar Pujara (56) and young Shubman Gill (91).

“It’s a great spectacle when a team just trying to hang in there. A little bit of banter – Ashwin taking a little bit of talking from behind the stumps. And then the Aussies arriving at the Gabba thinking that’s all. They just can’t get beaten at the Gabba… they’ll steamroll them,” Michael Vaughan added.

Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)
Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)

“Throughout the whole tour, we knew Rishabh Pant was a player. We all know that he’s got something very special, but I thought particularly those last two Test matches, Pant came to light. It was a brilliant series. I can only imagine how much red wine Ravi Shastri must have had,” Michael Vaughan concluded.

India was bundled out for just 36 runs in their second innings in the first Test against Australia in Adelaide, losing the day/night Test by 8 wickets. India bounced back to win the second Test in Melbourne, showed remarkable resilience to draw the third Test in Sydney, and won the fourth Test in Brisbane for their second successive Test series triumph on Australian soil.

Rishabh Pant’s 97 nearly turned the Sydney Test in India’s favour which India managed to draw while his 89 not out at Brisbane won them the series Down Under.

Ajinkya Rahane set the tone for a dramatic turnaround for the visitors with a match-winning ton in the 2nd Test at Melbourne. He was the guiding light for the youngsters like Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj and T Natarajan who stepped up in the absence of senior players and gave their best to outclass the Aussies in their own backyard.

Being 1-0 down, losing the services of regular skipper Virat Kohli due to his paternity leave, having lost several key players like Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Hanuma Vihari, Ravichandran Ashwin, KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja due to injuries at various stages of 4 match Test series, a second-string Ajinkya Rahane-led India staged a comeback as they won their second straight Test series on Australian soil. The win at Brisbane was more creditable as they even struggled to field an XI and eventually fielded a team without any frontline bowler.

Shardul Thakur. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Shardul Thakur. (Photo Source: Twitter)
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IPL 2021: Shardul Thakur Received Valuable Advice From Sachin Tendulkar

Shardul Thakur received valuable advice from India’s great Sachin Tendulkar during a Ranji Trophy campaign. Shardul Thakur has enjoyed considerable success in the Indian jersey for the last few months now, starting with India’s tour of Australia.

Shardul Thakur made a record during the recent T20I series against England unknown to most. He became the fastest Indian bowler to get to 30 wickets in T20Is. It’s not a headline-worthy milestone, especially as it has come with an economy rate of over nine runs per over, but a strike rate of 14.6 in the format is rather good.

Shardul Thakur | Twitter
Shardul Thakur | Twitter

Shardul Thakur Didn’t Disappoint In Limited Overs Series Against England

In the three-match ODI series, he picked up three wickets, and in the three-match T20I series, he bagged two wickets. However, he truly came to the fore in the Test series, when he claimed 7 wickets in a single game and also batted exceptionally well for his 67 during a remarkable rearguard action with Washington Sundar in the fourth Test at The Gabba in Brisbane. India went on to win that game and win take home the series 2-1.

Washington Sundar
India debutant Washington Sundar celebrates his half-century (Photo by Albert Perez – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

His exploits Down Under earned him a spot in the white-ball leg of England’s tour of India. And he did not disappoint. In the five-match T20I series, he finished as the highest wicket-taker of the series with eight wickets.

In the 50-over format, too, he proved to be the best of the lot as he clinched seven wickets in three games. Since the start of 2020, Shardul Thakur has been a constant part of India’s white-ball plans.

Shardul Thakur Received Valuable Advice From Sachin Tendulkar Which Saw Him Bowling Correct Line And Lengths

Shardul Thakur, who was blowing hot and cold and coming under the microscope often for his economy rates, transformed himself as regular in the limited-overs squad and picked wickets regularly to cement his place in the Indian team.

The advice he received from legendary Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar during a Ranji Trophy campaign changed his approach towards the game as he bowled according to correct line and lengths.

“I think it was just before our Ranji Trophy final or maybe we won the Ranji Trophy final and we came back fresh for another season. I was discussing something with Sachin Paaji.

“He was explaining to me the lines and he just went into flashback and he told me that you don’t remember I had told you about certain lines and lengths and certain skillsets, so keep doing that.

“He said whenever you find time, apart from your match practice, keep practicing, keep working hard. I think it has helped a lot,” Shardul Thakur recalled in a video shared by the Chennai Super Kings on their Twitter handle.

Sachin Tendulkar Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images
Sachin Tendulkar. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images

Currently, Shardul Thakur is playing for Chennai Super Kings in the ongoing Indian Premier League 2021 (IPL) season. So far in four matches, he has only picked up 3 wickets but one just can’t take him lightly yet. He continues to remain an important member of the side. In the afternoon of Sunday, second-placed CSK takes on current table topper Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).

Shardul Thakur has so far picked 31 T20I and 22 ODI scalps. He has played 2 Tests and picked 7 wickets while also featuring in 50 IPL matches.

Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant
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Rishabh Pant Is The Undisputed Star Across All The 3 Formats: VVS Laxman

VVS Laxman congratulated the Indian cricket team for a magnificent season which saw them winning the Test and T20I series in Australia and all the series across all formats against England at home.

India had a hectic international season after their break due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and the team pulled off an impressive run of performances, winning five series out of six against Australia (away) and England (home). They lost only the ODI series against Australia.

VVS Laxman
VVS Laxman. Photo Credit: Twitter.

VVS Laxman: Highlights Of The Season Has To Be Series Win In Australia

Among the several memorable performances in the season, Rishabh Pant’s unbeaten 89 chasing 329 in the 4th Test against Australia, stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane’s 112 in the 2nd Melbourne Test, Rohit Sharma’s 161 in 2nd Test against England,  Mohammed Siraj and Axar Patel’s maiden 5 wicket haul, Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan’s batting in their first international innings, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur’s bowling performances in limited-overs, stood out from the rest.

In his column for the Times of India, VVS Laxman wrote, “The adrenaline rush following India’s most memorable season continues unabated. From Australia in November to Pune in March has been an emotional rollercoaster, the magnitude of India’s accomplishments highlighted by extenuating circumstances.”

India was bundled out for just 36 runs in their second innings in the first Test against Australia in Adelaide, losing the day/night Test by 8 wickets. India bounced back to win the second Test in Melbourne, showed remarkable resilience to draw the third Test in Sydney, and won the fourth Test in Brisbane for their second successive Test series triumph on Australian soil.

“The highlight of the season has to be the Test series win in Australia. To me, that will remain India’s greatest Test series triumph. To bounce back the way they did, especially after the Adelaide meltdown and without their captain for the last three Tests against a full-strength Australian side in their own backyard was a little short of extraordinary.” Laxman added.

Rishabh Pant vs England in 2nd ODI(Photo Source: Disney+Hotstar VIP)
Rishabh Pant vs England in 2nd ODI(Photo Source: Disney+Hotstar VIP)

VVS Laxman heaped praise on keeper Rishabh Pant who came up with match-winning knocks in Test series wins in Australia and against England at home before sealing his spot in the limited-overs side. Rishabh Pant also smashed 77 and 78 in the last two ODIs against England as India won the series 2-1 in Pune.

“The undisputed star of the show, across formats, has to be Rishabh Pant. His growing maturity and situational awareness manifested themselves each time he batted. Equally significantly, I am amazed at the grand strides he has made as a wicketkeeper, especially on difficult pitches at home against England during the Tests when he was scarcely troubled by appreciable turn and unpredictable bounce,” Laxman opined.

Since the Australia tour, Rishabh Pant played 7 Tests and amassed 544 runs averaging 60.44 while in ODIs, he averaged 77.5 playing only 2 of them as he wasn’t considered in the limited-overs series against Australia.

VVS Laxman: India Can Also Take Pride In Defeating England In Both White Ball Formats But Wrist Spinner’s Form Cause Of Concern

VVS Laxman lauded Virat Kohli-led India for their series victories against England in both white-ball formats. India won the 5-match T20I series 3-2 and the ODI series 2-1.

“India can also take pride in their conquest of England in both white-ball formats. To tame the world’s top-ranked side on flat pitches despite losing seven of eight tosses speaks to the character and resilience of a team that has clearly been massively influenced by the infusion of positivity from head coach Ravi Shastri.” Laxman wrote.

But VVS Laxman expressed his concern over the decline in the quality of Indian spin bowling. In the second ODI against England, Kuldeep Yadav conceded as many as 84 runs off his 10 overs without picking a wicket. Yuzvendra Chahal, who has been often been taken to the cleaners in T20Is, was rested for all three ODIs against England.

“There still are a couple of areas of concern, though, pertaining to limited-overs cricket. With three World Cups lined up over the next two and a half years, there is a pressing need to ensure the presence of a sixth bowling option at all times. More alarming is the steady decline in the quality of spin bowling in the 50-over format, specifically. “
Kuldeep Yadav
Kuldeep Yadav Photo Credit: AP
Lack of skillsets will be exposed more damningly in this variant. Yuzvendra Chahal seems to have lost the confidence of the team management and Kuldeep Yadav has been out of sorts for a while, ” Laxman added.

VVS Laxman also lauded umpire Nitin Menon who officiated in the India-England series and gave great decisions on challenging wickets.

“A word of praise for Nitin Menon is in order. He is in his early days as an international umpire but his composure and decision-making have been impeccable, and I see him having a long and illustrious career at the highest level,” VVS Laxman concluded.

India must give more chances to spin-bowling all-rounders like Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Krunal Pandya, or medium-pace all-rounders like Vijay Shankar or Shivam Dube. The management should get them into the squad and give them game time so that a back-up is created for Hardik Pandya, who isn’t bowling much nowadays.

Rishabh Pant (Photo Source: Disney+Hotstar VIP)
Rishabh Pant (Photo Source: Disney+Hotstar VIP)
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Inzamam-ul-Haq Hails Young Rishabh Pant

Rishabh Pant has become one of the most feared players for the opposition, and former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq believes he was the difference between India and England in the recently concluded bilateral ODI series.

Rishabh Pant has made a dream comeback in the Indian team especially in limited-overs format this year. After an insipid run in 2019 and 2020, he found himself being left out of the team on several occasions, with KL Rahul replacing him as the first-choice keeper in the team in limited-overs cricket. Rishabh Pant’s struggles in IPL 2020 did not help either, and he was left out of India’s limited-overs squad for the Australia tour.

Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)
Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)

Rishabh Pant Doesn’t Seem Like Playing Under Pressure: Inzamam-ul-Haq

But since then, the wicketkeeper-batsman has scripted a new story for himself. His match-saving contribution in the Sydney Test and his match-winning innings in the following Brisbane Test against the mighty Aussies started a new chapter in Rishabh Pant’s career. India was without their key players due to injuries and unavailability and fielded a second-string side at Brisbane which came all guns blazing to defeat full-strength Australia.

The left-hander followed it up with another scintillating performance in the Test series against England this year and then played a crucial role in the limited over formats as well, as India won the T20I series 3-2 and ODI series 2-1. Rishabh Pant is feared by opposition nowadays and former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq believes he was the difference between India and England in the ODI series.

“What a player he is. After a long time, I’ve seen such a player who plays much better than you think of a player how he should be. I’ve been following him since the India tour of Australia. He doesn’t seem like playing under pressure,” Inzamam said in a video uploaded on his Youtube channel.

Inzamam-ul-Haq | AFP
Inzamam-ul-Haq | AFP

“Even in Australia, when all the seniors were out with injuries, his effortless batting at the middle-order made it look as if India haven’t lost any wicket or they aren’t playing on Australian soil. Earlier, players used to struggle while playing Down Under but Pant is not bothered at all. Earlier in the 70’s era, Vivian Richards used to be the difference between West Indies and any other side. Similarly, Pant was the difference between India and England,” Inzamam added.

Inzamam was particularly impressed by Rishabh Pant’s knock in the third ODI against England, in which the 23-year-old took the attack to the opposition and bailed his team out of a tricky position. Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq lavished praise on India wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant and even compared him with former openers Virender Sehwag and Viv Richards.

Inzamam-ul-Haq: Rishabh Pant Once Again Played A Fine Knock As Wicket Wasn’t Easy For Spinners

Inzamam-ul-Haq further said that Rishabh Pant’s innings of 78 runs in the 3rd ODI was a tremendous achievement as it came on a wicket where batsmen were struggling against spinners.

“It wasn’t an easy wicket to score against spinners as we all saw Virat Kohli getting bowled by Moeen Ali. But Pant once again played a fine knock and scored 74 runs (78*) in 62 balls, at a strike rate of more than 100. No other batter has a strike rate of more than 100,” Inzamam said.

Rishabh Pant | AFP
Rishabh Pant | AFP

“It was a smart move by Virat that he promoted Pant up the order. India lost three senior players – Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, and the pressure was mounted on India. But Pant played an important role in releasing the pressure,” he signed off.

The 51-year-old was mighty impressed by Rishabh Pant’s century against England and said that the left-hander has proven himself at home and away.

Ravi Shastri. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Ravi Shastri. (Photo Source: Twitter)
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Having A Season Of A Lifetime In Toughest Of Times: Ravi Shastri Congratulates India For Defeating 2 Best Teams; England And Australia

Ravi Shastri, India head coach was a relieved man as India won the 3rd ODI by a whisker by only 7 runs to clinch the ODI series against England in Pune. The run chase became tense at one point in time when Sam Curran was at the crease with England needing 14 from the final over.

India had won the T20I and Test series against Australia after losing the ODI series despite missing key players due to injuries. At home, they overcame England by winning all three series- Tests (3-1), T20Is (3-2), and ODIs (2-1).

Ravi Shastri Image Source : AP
Ravi Shastri Image Source: AP

Ravi Shastri Congratulates India For Defeating Australia And England In Succession

Ravi Shastri was seen pacing up and down in the dugout when the match got close but the hosts held their nerves and delivered the results. Ravi Shastri, head coach of the Indian national men’s cricket team, was effusive in his praise for the Indian team for having what he termed “a season of a lifetime”, during which it notched up five consecutive series victories against the word’s top two teams in the difficult COVID era.

Team India celebrates with the ODI series trophy after beating England 2-1.(Twitter (Ravi Shastri))
Team India celebrates with the ODI series trophy after beating England 2-1. (Twitter (Ravi Shastri))

“Congratulations Guys for holding up and having a season of a lifetime in toughest of times across all formats and hemispheres against 2 of the best teams in the world. Take a bow,” Ravi Shastri tweeted.

https://twitter.com/RaviShastriOfc/status/1376231541404229635?s=20

Between Indian Premier League (IPL) seasons 2020 and 2021, Team India took part in two tours against two of the best teams in the world. They toured Australia for 4 Tests, 3 ODIs, and 3 T20s and hosted England for 4 Tests, 3 ODIs, and 5 T20s. Between November 27, 2020, and March 28, 2021, India played six series across formats and won five of them.

India went down 0-1 and 1-2 in the T20I series but fought back to take it 3-2 and make a statement in the T20 World Cup year before beating the reigning world champions 2-1 in the ODI series. Put in to bat, India was all out for 329 in 48.2 overs with Shikhar Dhawan (67), Rishabh Pant (78), and Hardik Pandya (64) hitting half-centuries.

Sam Curran Kept England In The Hunt Scoring A Career-Best Unbeaten 95 But India Wins By 7 Runs In A Nervous Thriller

Sam Curran (95 not out off 83 balls) single-handedly kept England in the hunt as he joined forces with number 10 Mark Wood (14) for a 60-run stand for the ninth wicket but in the end, could not score 14 runs needed in the final over. England ended at 322 for 9 in 50 overs. India dropped at least four catches, including that of Sam Curran, at crucial junctures as they were kept frustrated till the end.

Sam Curran scored an unbeaten 95 in the series finale vs India on Sunday (Reuters Image)
Sam Curran scored an unbeaten 95 in the series finale vs India on Sunday (Reuters Image)

Sam Curran kept England in the game by scoring an unbeaten 95 batting at No. 8 off 83 balls including 9 fours and 3 sixes. Sam Curran’s valiant knock went in vain as the young all-rounder finished with 95 not out with England falling agonizingly short of the winning total by 7 runs. All-rounder Sam Curran waged a lone battle in the end but it was not enough as India restricted England to 322 in 50 overs.

The hosts were dismissed for 329 after being asked to bat with Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, and Hardik Pandya scoring half-centuries. The target did not appear too imposing for England, who chased down 337 with 39 deliveries remaining in the previous match, but Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s early breakthroughs put the hosts on top.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar picked up 3-42 in the 3rd ODI while Shardul Thakur finished with 4-67. Shardul Thakur who was the highest wicket-taker in the T20I series with 8 scalps, picked up 7 wickets in ODIs becoming the highest wicket-taker in 50 overs format too. Shardul Thakur, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Prasidh Krishna picked 19 wickets between them in the ODI series.

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