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India vs Australia 2020/21 - Page 6

Rishabh Pant, New Zealand XI vs India 2020,
Rishabh Pant. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Rishabh Pant Is One Of The Exceptional Players: Vikram Rathour

Rishabh Pant’s batting performance in the recently concluded Tests series in Australia has impressed India batting coach Vikram Rathour. The former India opener said Rishabh Pant will play an ‘extremely important role’ going ahead for India in future.

From not being India’s first-choice keeper as Wriddhiman Saha played ahead of him when the Test series began to one of the heroes of India’s 2-1 series win, Rishabh Pant has come a long way in a matter of three Tests and about four weeks.

Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant. Image Credit: Getty Images.

Rishabh Pant’s Role Will Be Extremely Important Going Ahead As He Is An Exceptional Player: Vikram Rathour

The 23-year-old wicket-keeper batsman has perhaps seen more highs and lows in his short career so far than most other established international cricketers. He was highest run-getter for India and 3rd overall with 274 runs averaging 68.5 in 3 Tests in recently concluded Test series Down Under.

Vikram Rathour
Vikram Rathour. Twitter

Vikram Rathour said Rishabh Pant is one of the exceptional players.

“His role will be extremely important going ahead. We have always believed that he is one of the exceptional players,” Rathour said in an interview with Hindustan Times.

After the successful 2018-19 tour to Australia, where he amassed 350 runs averaging 58.33 in 4 Tests,  he flopped against West Indies and New Zealand where he averaged less than 20 in 2 Tests in away series. But he returned to form in Australia series in 2020-21. In 7 Tests against Australia, he has 624 runs averaging 62.4.

Vikram Rathour: Rishabh Pant Had A Tough Time Last Year Or So But He Worked And Trained Hard

Vikram Rathour acknowledged that Rishabh Pant had a ‘tough time’ last year with very little opportunity to showcase his skills at the international level. The India batting coach, however, said that the left-hander from Delhi has worked really hard and now turned himself into a match-winner for India.

“He had a tough time last year or so. But he has been working hard, training hard. We all believed (that) on his day, he is a match-winner. In the last two games he proved that. Being a left-hander is definitely an advantage (for the team). As far as his entering the XI (purely) as a batsman, the decision will be taken on that particular day when the question arises,” Rathour added.

Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Rishabh Pant scored an attacking 97 in the third Test in Sydney. His innings had kept India’s hopes alive of a miracle win but unfortunately, it was not possible after he got out and Hanuma Vihari suffered a hamstring injury. India had to be content with a draw. Rishabh Pant finished the job in the fourth Test in Brisbane by remaining unbeaten on 89 as India chased down a record 328 to become the first side to beat Australia in Brisbane in 32 years.

Rishabh Pant’s ODI average is only 26.71 and in T20I, his average is only 20.5, which is below par as he is often criticized for throwing his wicket away.

Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke Criticised CA Selectors For Dropping Matthew Wade

Michael Clarke, former Australian skipper has criticized selectors for dropping batsman Matthew Wade from the South Africa tour. The 39-year-old has hinted that national selectors are biased.

The decision of national selectors to drop Matthew Wade from the upcoming South Africa tour has not gone well with former Australia captain Michael Clarke.

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke (Image Credit: Google)

Michael Clarke: Matthew Wade Didn’t Score Many Runs But Was Better Than Joe Burns Who Played First 2 Tests Despite Low Scores

The 39-year-old took shots at the selectors and accused them of being biased. Michael Clarke did not shy away from saying that incumbent opener Joe Burns, who featured in the first 2 Tests versus India, was backed by the selectors despite his repeated failures. Further, Michael Clarke pointed out that Matthew Wade took the responsibility of opening for Australia in the absence of David Warner but the selectors still showed him the exit door despite scoring 172 runs averaging 21.62.

“What happened to that loyalty they showed to Joe Burns when it came to Matthew Wade,” he said.

Matthew Wade.
Matthew Wade. Image Credit: Getty Images.

“Where has Matthew Wade gone? You batted out of position for them, went to the top of the order, did the right thing for the team, gets back. I know he didn’t score as many runs as they would like but hang on, one minute we’re hearing ‘the incumbent Joe Burns, support, support, support’ then Matthew Wade out the door,” Michael Clarke said on Sky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast.

Middle-order batsman Travis Head was dropped from the playing XI in the third Test versus India after David Warner returned at the top of the order and Matthew Wade had to come down. Travis Head was kept out of the team in the 4th Test as well but finds himself in the squad for South Africa Tests.

Michael Clarke: Travis Head Was Not Good Enough 2 Weeks Ago But He Is Back In Squad And Considered Better Than Matthew Wade

Michael Clarke expressed ‘confusion’ over the situation and threw numerous questions on the selectors. However, Matthew Wade may be dropped due to his better form in T20Is as Australia will simultaneously play against New Zealand in T20Is at the same time when Test side competes against South Africa. Matthew Wade scored 145 runs in 3 T20Is against India averaging 48.33.

“I’m confused. Travis Head was not good enough two weeks ago but now he is back in and better than Matthew Wade who was good enough. Did they get the selection wrong two weeks ago when they dropped Travis Head for Matthew Wade?,” he added.

“Has Travis Head played a game since he was dropped… to fight his way back into the team? So how has he gone back into the team? This is what confuses me and this is why you regularly hear people having a crack at the selectors. They regularly leave themselves open.

Travis Head
Travis Head. Image Credit: Getty Images.

“Explain why Matthew Wade is not in the squad, explain why Travis Head is back in, explain how you cannot discuss Tim Paine’s performance. They’re either not telling the truth or whoever is having these conversations are missing a trick,” Clarke concluded.

Australia are due to play three Tests in South Africa. The tour was originally scheduled for February and March, but the dates have yet to be locked in due to concerns over coronavirus. The five-game T20 tour of New Zealand runs from February 22 to March 7, clashing with South Africa, meaning a host of players are not available. Matthew Wade was the main casualty from the India series, with the squad otherwise much the same. But he will be vice-captain in T20I squad for New Zealand.

Test squad for South Africa: Tim Paine (capt), Pat Cummins, Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

T20 squad for New Zealand: Aaron Finch (capt), Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, D’Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa

Ajinkya Rahane, no.5 batting position
Ajinkya Rahane (Image Credit: Twitter)

Ajinkya Rahane Has A Steely Nerve: Bharat Arun

Bharat Arun, Indian bowling coach shed some light on the captaincy styles of the duo of Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli. Ajinkya Rahane’s success as captain in the Border-Gavaskar trophy has stirred up the subject of him being made permanent captain of the Indian side in the longest format. Virat Kohli though is India’s most successful Test captain and has been appointed skipper against England in 2021.

Speaking to spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on his YouTube channel, Bharat Arun highlighted the manner in which captain Ajinkya Rahane conducts himself on the field. Although there is no denying that Ajinkya Rahane has an extremely calm and composed personality, Bharat Arun said that the veteran cricketer has a ‘steely nerve in him’.

Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane. Credits: Twitter.

Bharat Arun: Ajinkya Rahane Backs Players And Is A Calm Person Who Has A Steely Nerve In Him

Ajinkya Rahane has led India in 5 Tests and under him, India won 4 drawing the one at Sydney. His 80% success rate is among best for Indian captains. Being 1-0 down, losing the services of regular skipper Virat Kohli due to his paternity leave, having lost several key players 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.

“When it comes to Ajinkya, he is a calm person. Rahane might look calm from the outside but there is a steely nerve in him,” Arun told India off-spinner Ravi Ashwin on his YouTube Channel.

“He backs players and looks calm and even if a bowler goes wrong, he might not be scared of the captain. He knows that he will be backed,” he added.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli-Image: Getty

Bharat Arun feels that regular skipper Virat Kohli is an extremely passionate person and his energy with which he operates himself on the field gets mistaken as anger.

“With Virat Kohli, if you bowl two bad balls, it might look like he will get angry, but that’s just his energy. Ajinkya brings the calmness, of course, even if he buys-in the plan, he makes sure he executes it to the T,” Arun explained.

India’s stand-in captain calm and composed Ajinkya Rahane led from the front with a match-winning knock of 112, which is his 12th Test century at Melbourne. It was his second century in Australia and one that will be among his favourite and most cherished in the heart. Under him, India won at Melbourne and Brisbane and drew at Sydney.

Bharat Arun: One Should Make Players Express Themselves

Speaking about the biggest learning learnt from the recently concluded Border-Gavaskar trophy, Bharat Arun said that it’s important to let the players express themselves and not impose ideas on them.

“You hit the nail on the head. That has to be this tour’s biggest learning. Instead of imposing it on players, we should make them express themselves. And for anyone to express themselves, there has to be a process.”

Bharat Arun
Bharat Arun. Image Credit: Twitter.

“But to define that process and make that player agree on the same is the coach’s top priority. But full credit is to the player because, he is the one who goes there and delivers them under pressure and given the experience of our bowling attack, the pressure is immense. To perform under pressure is the challenge. And our players accomplished that challenge exceptionally well. They saw that challenge as an opportunity.”

The Indian team now gears up for another long all-format series against England which starts from February 5 with a Test at Chennai. Some players have already reached Chennai and entered the bio-secure bubble ahead of the Test series. Ahmedabad will hold the 3rd and 4th Tests after Chennai hosting first 2 Tests. 5 T20Is will also be at Ahmedabad while 3 ODIs will be at Pune.

Cheteshwar Pujara, World Test Championship
Image Credits: BCCI

Cheteshwar Pujara Had To Hold His Bat With 4 Fingers Which Wasn’t Natural

Cheteshwar Pujara spoke about the experience of being in the middle of the crease and negotiating body blows in a historic series which was won by India for a second successive time in the Australian backyard.

The eleven body blows Cheteshwar Pujara took during his courageous innings on day 5 of the Brisbane Test symbolized the fight India showed to win a coveted series in Australia.

Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Cheteshwar Pujara: Really Admirable To See Ajinkya Rahane Backing Bowlers

On that day, Cheteshwar Pujara was determined to thwart the Australian bowling by any means possible as he responded to a barrage of short balls by refusing to pull or use the bat to defend. To minimize his chances of offering a catch, he put his body on the line instead.

“It wasn’t the toughest thing to face,” Cheteshwar Pujara said in a sweeping interview. “It can be painful, but you are not getting out.”

Match by match, session by session, Cheteshwar Pujara spoke about the experience of being in the thick of the action in a historic series and on how he made a gash through Australia’s plans mid-way through the series.

“We started very confident, having played well last time (2018-19). We started off well, we were ahead on the first two days at Adelaide. Then, on the third day, in one hour, we lost the game. There was disappointment, but the way we came back, it was one of the best comebacks in my cricketing career. With the side we had, this one will be one of the best,” on the incredible series and bouncing back after 36 all out.

“I am not going into any comparisons. Virat had gone back, we lost the first Test, we had so many injuries. It was really admirable the way Jinks was backing his bowlers. He was really calm. Despite the first loss, we stuck together and kept believing that we can win this series,” on Ajinkya Rahane as captain.

“I have been hit many times on the body. I had a clear game plan on day 5. I felt it was important for us not to lose too many wickets in the first session. I got hit many times, but my wicket was very important. If we had lost any crucial wickets in that session, then we would have been in trouble. We knew that there was variable bounce on that wicket, ” on plans on Day 5 and bruises on body.

“The thing with variable bounce is, if you look to take bowlers on, then you can get a top edge. The best part about that innings was that I was focusing on the next ball. Also, with the finger injury it wasn’t easy for me to bat. I was in some pain. I had to grip the bat with four fingers. It wasn’t natural. Things still worked out pretty well,” on experts critical of approach.

Cheteshwar Pujara was the highest run-scorer the last time Team India toured the country, as he piled 521 runs with three centuries in the four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy series in 2018-19 as India won their maiden Test series Down Under.

Cheteshwar Pujara: Pat Cummins Have To Be Given Credit But Should Have Tackled Him A Little Better

Team India broke 32 years unbeaten Test record of Australia by chasing down the mammoth 328 runs target in the second innings at Gabba, a venue where Australia tasted defeat for the first time since 1988. With this win, India also retained Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Pat Cummins, Cheteshwar Pujara
Pat Cummins, Cheteshwar Pujara

“In 2018-19 too, he was their top bowler. This time they had done some homework on my batting. I took some time to break that game plan but was able to do that later. It didn’t  come in the first two matches, but it did come in the last two,” on Pat Cummins.

“I have been facing him 2017-18 onwards, and I know his game plans and variations well now. You also need good game plans to counter him, because he is a very good bowler,” on strategy against Nathan Lyon.

“Both of them (Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill) are attacking players. That does help me in some way. If another partner is trying to take the bowler on, it allows me to play my natural game, ” on openers Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma.

“Both Chennai and Ahmedabad have been good for India. We will have the home advantage, but England is a good side, and we can’t take things lightly at all. They have done well in Sri Lanka in the recent series, ” thoughts on England series.

Cheteshwar Pujara made 56 off 211 balls while chasing 328 runs on day five of the fourth Test match.  Although he scored the slowest fifty of his Test career, his dogged mindset broke the hosts resolve.

Cheteshwar Pujara was hit on the body at least 10 times off pacers Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. However, he didn’t show any pain while on the crease except one time when the ball hit him on the gloves. Cheteshwar Pujara frustrated Australian bowlers and also amazed them with his grit. Before giving up his wicket, the right-hand batsman set up a strong base on which Rishabh Pant build up the match-winning knock.

Washington Sundar
Washington Sundar. Image Credit: Twitter.

Washington Sundar Will Become A Fine All-rounder Like Kapil Dev: M Sundar

Washington Sundar’s father M Sundar believes that his son will become a fine all-rounder in the mould of former captain Kapil Dev.

Washington Sundar made his Test red-ball debut in the historic Gabba 4th Test due to an injury to Ravindra Jadeja, and he made the most of the opportunity. After picking up 3 wickets (including that of veteran Australian batsman Steve Smith), the 21-year-old struck a patient 62 in the first Indian innings and followed it up with an attacking 22 in the famous run chase.

Washington Sundar Will Become A Fine All-rounder Like Kapil Dev: M Sundar 1

Washington Sundar Is A Blessed Child: Father M Sundar

Speaking to, M Sundar stated that Washington Sundar was serious about his cricket right from when he was five years old.

“Washington is a blessed child. We call him Gnana Kuzhanthai (wise child). He started taking cricket seriously when he was five years old. Even if it were a tennis ball game, he would play that very seriously,” Washington Sundar’s father said.

Washington Sundar
Washington Sundar (Credits: Twitter)

“Imagine bowling to the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner at 17 years of age, and that too the very first over in the game. His mental strength at that age was remarkable. It was all god’s blessings,” he added.

Washington Sundar made a debut to remember for India in the longest format, scoring 84 runs and bagged 4 wickets, as they beat Australia by 3 wickets in Brisbane to clinch the series 2-1 and retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy for the second time in succession Down Under.

Washington Sundar Is A Once In A Century Cricketer: Father M Sundar

Washington Sundar impressed all with his poise and patience on Test debut against formidable Australia in their own backyard. M Sundar continued by saying that he frequently tells his son he is a ‘once-in-a-century’ cricketer and drew parallels to the great Kapil Dev.

“Washington is now playing all three formats, and we are happy about it. I always tell him that he is a special talent — a once in a century cricketer. He will become a fine all-rounder like Kapil Dev,” M Sundar emphatically said.

Kapil Dev
Kapil Dev (Image Credit: Google)

Washington Sundar made his India debut in an ODI back in 2017 against Sri Lanka at the tender age of 18. Although that game remains his only appearance in the 50-over format, the off-spinner has played 26 T20Is and has become a key player under skipper Virat Kohli. He has picked 21 wickets averaging 29.14.

He started his IPL career in 2017 with Rising Pune Supergiant. Since 2018, he has been playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore and was retained in IPL 2021.

India face England next in a 4-Test home series in February, and Washington Sundar will fight it out with china man spinner Kuldeep Yadav for a spot in the playing XI alongside off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.


Don’t Say Nothing Is Wrong With Tim Paine’s Captaincy: Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke, former Australian skipper has questioned national selector Trevor Hohns for not finding anything wrong with current skipper Tim Paine’s leadership.

Selectors announced Australian Test squad for the upcoming South Africa Series on Wednesday and retained under-fire Tim Paine who was skipper in Test Series loss to India as the captain. National selector Trevor Hohns said that Tim Paine’s leadership was never in doubt after announcing the squad and mentioned that the panel did not waste any time pondering on it during the meeting.

Tim Paine.
Tim Paine. Image Credit: Getty Images.

Michael Clarke: Tactically Tim Paine Missed A Few Tricks And His Keeping Wasn’t The Best

The comments have not gone well with former Australia captain Michael Clarke.

He has questioned the stance of selectors regarding Tim Paine and said, ““Don’t say nothing’s wrong there. Tactically he missed a few tricks and his keeping was nowhere near as good as what I’ve seen from Painey.”

The 39-year-old said he was having no problem with under fire Tim Paine continuing as the captain but he definitely feels there is a need of more people to help him with it. Further, Michael Clarke stated that selectors should not stay in an illusion and think that tactics which failed against India will all of a sudden work during the South Africa tour.

“Obviously you have to make the team first but then the captaincy, it would have been spoken about,” he said on Sky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast.

“My question is – so many past players, so many people – the fans of the game – have questioned Painey’s tactics throughout the series. So, you haven’t questioned his captaincy and you haven’t added anyone, whether it is a player or support staff member to the squad to help him with his tactics.”

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke. Image Credit: Getty Images

“How does he get better? How does he go to South Africa to improve? It seems like that is an area that he needs help, whether it is extra leadership on the field or extra people around him to help him get better. If you keep doing the same thing you will keep getting the same results.”

Mitchell Johnson has backed skipper Tim Paine to continue as Australia’s captain, and believes that calls for him to be dropped are “ridiculous.” Kevin Pietersen said Australia should look beyond Tim Paine for Test captaincy while Greg Chappell has thrown his support behind Tim Paine, with the Test legend claiming that it is still not the time to be jettisoning Australia’s captain.

Michael Clarke: There’s Nothing Wrong With Sticking With Tim Paine But Help Him Get Better By Giving Him Some Help

Tim Paine’s captaincy and his wicket-keeping standards have come under severe criticism ever since India thrashed Australia 2-1 in the recently-concluded 4 match Test series. Tim Paine has led his country to 11 wins, four draws and eight defeats.

“There’s nothing wrong with sticking with Painey. I like him, that’s great, stick with your captain if you think he is the right man for the job. Still help him get better. This is my point about Painey. I’m not saying it is time to go. Stick with the captain, I love that. But give him some help. Allow him to get better in the areas he needs to get better.”

Matthew Wade.
Matthew Wade. Image Credit: Getty Images.

“What changes are we making for South Africa to help Painey call it tactically? What are we doing different? We go to South Africa and win and everything is different? That is not how you win the Ashes,” Michael Clarke said.

Matthew Wade was axed from Australia’s Test squad for South African tour and he was replaced by Alex Carey. The squad includes four more uncapped cricketers apart from Alex Carey. They are Sean Abbott, Michael Neser, Mitchell Swepson and Mark Steketee. Matthew Wade averaged just 21.62 with 173 runs coming from his bat.

Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Walking With Indian Flag Emotional Moment: Shardul Thakur

Shardul Thakur, in an exclusive interview with India Today, has opened up about his experience of holding the Indian flag at The Gabba after series win in Australia.

According to Indian pacer Shardul Thakur, holding the Indian flag and marching around the Gabba was a very emotional moment for him and the entire team after a brilliant 2-1 series win in the Tests against Australia.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 19: The Indian team celebrates victory after day five of the 4th Test Match in the series between Australia and India at The Gabba on January 19, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia.
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 19: The Indian team celebrates victory after day five of the 4th Test Match in the series between Australia and India at The Gabba on January 19, 2021, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Shardul Thakur: Walking With Indian Flag Was Emotional Moment

The combined bowling experience of the Australian bowling line-up in the Brisbane Test (Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Nathan Lyon) was 254 Tests. The number for the Indian bowlers (Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, T Natarajan and Washington Sundar) was 9 Tests but India won.

“[Walking with the India flag] was a very emotional moment for me and the entire team. We won the match, that was the important part.All that matters is that India won the match [Gabba Test], we won the match in Gabba where Australia hadn’t lost a Test match in 32 years. I think, if I’m not wrong, the last time they lost at Gabba was against West Indies, a really good fast bowling attack, the best batting lineup- against the best West Indies side. And then, 32 years later, they lost against us,” Shardul Thakur told India Today in an exclusive interview.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. Image: Getty

“There were way too many injuries in this series for us, even Virat Kohli was in Indian on paternity leave, so we were almost a 2nd or a 3rd lineup left.  So we fielded a complete inexperienced bowling attack and even in the batting lineup we had Shubman Gill making his debut in the series, even Mayank had not play a lot of games for India. So we walked into the Gabba Test with very little experience in the team. Yet, we went on to win at the Gabba against Australia. Most importantly, we won the series 2-1 after facing a crushing defeat in the 1st Test.”

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 finally fielded a team without any frontline bowler.

Shardul Thakur: Biggest Happiness Was India Winning The Series 2-1

Shardul Thakur has reflected on the time when India were 1-0 down against Australia after the humiliating defeat in 1st Test in Adelaide. The Indian pacer shared how bouncing back in the Melbourne Test after being 36 all out in Adelaide, and being written off by many experts, was huge for the team.

“We were 36 all out in Adelaide, everyone had written off Team India because even Virat was flying back to India after that and people were convinced that we could easily lose 4-0 in the series. But to come back from there and win the Melbourne Test. Ajinkya Rahane batted very well at the MCG, one of the best innings he has ever played.”

“Then we pulled off a draw in the Sydney Test, even that draw was like a win for us. Then at the Gabba everyone witnessed the history that was created. It was rather difficult for us to soak the moment in at that point, so all we did was enjoy the moment,” he added.

Shardul Thakur.
Shardul Thakur. Image Credit: Getty Images.

The 29-year-old pacer shared it was important for the team to thank their supporters who had come to watch the historic game at The Gabba and waving the flag around was a way to acknowledge the crowd’s support.

“We also had a lot of supporters for India who were in Australia at the ground. So it was our responsibility to go around the ground and thank the fans at the venue, so in that convoy even I got to hold the flag.”

“Hence, it was a very emotional moment then because I was lifting the Indian flag because all we’ve done throughout our lives is salute to the Indian flag, sing the national anthem on 26th Jan or before a Test match or on 15th August. But being on the ground myself and taking the flag in my hands to thank all our supporters with everyone watching in India on their televisions, to get picturized with the flag as well, it was very emotional,” Shardul shared.

“But at the end of the day, the biggest happiness was India winning the series 2-1. We silenced all the critics after beating Australia in their own den.”

Shardul Thakur had made his Test debut against West Indies in October 2018. However, debut turned into a nightmare as a groin injury forced him to hobble off the field after bowling just 10 deliveries. He kept grabbing key scalps in both innings of 4th Test. He had figures of 3/94 and 4/61.

Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur
Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur

Shardul Thakur Wished Mohammed Siraj Take A 5-Wicket Haul

Shardul Thakur, speaking on Sports Today, said he had genuinely wished Mohammed Siraj a 5-wicket haul in the 2nd innings of the Brisbane Test, saying he was praying that he shouldn’t drop the catch when tailender Josh Hazelwood hit one in the air towards the 3rd man region.

In the second innings of the Brisbane 4th Test, there was a race between pacers Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj as to which of the two bowlers would get to their maiden 5-wicket Test haul. Australia were already 9 down and both Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur had picked up 4 wickets apiece up until then.

Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Shardul Thakur Was Genuinely Wishing From Bottom Of Heart So That Mohammed Siraj Get His Maiden 5 Wicket Haul

With tailenders Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood trying to add quick runs, both Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur were going full tilt trying to pick the final wicket as soon as possible. As it turned out, Josh Hazlewood tried to hit one over the slip cordon but he found the third man fielder, Shardul Thakur who completed the catch to help Mohammed Siraj pick up his maiden 5-wicket haul.

Speaking to Sports Today, Shardul Thakur said he was genuinely wishing teammate Mohammed Siraj took the 5-wicket haul and paid tribute to his late father. Shardul Thakur added Mohammed Siraj’s words about his father were going through his mind and he was praying that he doesn’t drop the catch that came his way.

Mohammed Siraj.
Mohammed Siraj. Image Credit: Getty Images.

In a heartwarming moment, Shardul Thakur was seen elated for his teammate who was leading the team off the ground after picking up his maiden 5-wicket haul.

“People were watching us that we’re both on 4 wickets apiece [Siraj and Thakur]. We were both chasing a [maiden] 5-wicket haul. When I was bowling, all I could think of is if I take 5 wickets then it will be for the team. To be honest, I was wishing from the bottom of my heart that Siraj gets his 5-wicket haul because it was a very emotional time for him,” Thakur said.

“When the catch came to me, I was praying to God that this catch should not be dropped at any cost. It had rained as well before so the outfield was wet too, so I was praying that I must take the catch because that would complete his 5-wicket haul as he was so fulfilling his father’s dream of him playing for India.

“I had Siraj’s words about his father in mind, who was watching us from up above, and he would be very happy after the 5-wicket haul. When he completed his five-for, I was genuinely very excited for Siraj. It was his maiden 5-wicket haul in Tests and it was a dramatic end to the innings, I was extremely stoked for him.”

Notably, pacer Mohammed Siraj was leading wicket-taker for India in 4 Tests, picking up 13 crucial wickets in 3 matches after staying back in Australia despite his father’s death in November. Mohammed Siraj found himself leading a rather inexperienced pace attack in 4th Test at Brisbane.

The combined bowling experience of the Australian bowling line-up in the Brisbane Test (Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Nathan Lyon) was 254 Tests. The number for the Indian bowlers (Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, T Natarajan and Washington Sundar) was 9 Tests but India won.

Shardul Thakur: It Was Difficult And Emotional Time For Him As He Couldn’t Fly Home Despite Father Passing Away

Shardul Thakur said he had seen first-hand the efforts put in by Mohammed Siraj who was practising hard during the limited-overs series despite not being part of the white-ball squad and the mental battle he was going through after losing his father at the start of the Australian tour.

“When we reached Australia, we had set camp in Blacktown [city in Greater Western Sydney, Australia]. His father was quite ill and hospitalized and was fighting for his life. Then in a few days time his father passed away and the entire Australia series was quite emotional for him. He couldn’t even fly back home,” Thakur added.

Mohammed Siraj
Mohammed Siraj

“He wasn’t even a part of the ODI and T20I squads, but still he was practicing with the team throughout. Reality is, the practice hours are just 2 or 3 hours per day, you have to go back to your room. It was very difficult and a very emotional time for him.”

Shardul Thakur had made his Test debut against West Indies in October 2018. However, debut turned into a nightmare as a groin injury forced him to hobble off the field after bowling just 10 deliveries. He kept grabbing key scalps in both innings of 4th Test. He had figures of 3/94 and 4/61.

world cup 2019, rahane, ajinkya rahane, odi, test,
Ajinkya Rahane. Credits: Twitter.

Only Thought Was How To Bounce Back After 36 All Out: Ajinkya Rahane

Ajinkya Rahane stood out with his leadership qualities Down Under. In a freewheeling chat with TOI, stand in skipper Ajinkya Rahane puts the Australia sojourn in perspective.

Despite talismanic skipper, Virat Kohli’s unavailability after the first Test and the visitors grappling with injury woes to a plethora of first-team players, India led by Ajinkya Rahane produced a comeback for the ages to be remembered for long.

Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane.
Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. Credits: Ajinkya Rahane

Ajinkya Rahane : Strategy Was Simple To Be Positive And Bounce Back And Accept Whatever Results Are

The beleaguered visitors, under the inspired leadership of Ajinkya Rahane, beat Australia 2-1 in their own backyard to win the 2020-21 Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Ajinkya Rahane was hailed for his brilliant captaincy, sparking a debate whether he should be handed over the reins of the team in the longest format of the game.

“I have always believed I belong at the highest level. It was never a question of self-belief or doubt. What people say, or rather how people generally like to talk, has seldom bothered me. I wasn’t really bothered about what outsiders were saying (post Adelaide, when he took over). What people talk or think is their problem,” on self belief after waiting 2 years and 16 Tests to make his debut.

” I knew Virat (Kohli) would be leaving after the first Test, so it was already on my mind – what my plans would be, what kind of strategy I would adopt, how I would use each player, (my) message to them. If you look at the Adelaide Test, apart from that one hour of madness, we played good cricket – especially the first two days,” said Ajinkya Rahane on Virat Kohli’s absence and 36 all out.

T Natarajan, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini
T Natarajan, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini

“But then that one hour took everything away from us. To say it was disappointing will be an understatement. In hindsight we just didn’t know how to react. The only thought that had to remain at the top of our minds was, how do we bounce back? ” said Ajinkya Rahane on bouncing back after 36.

“The strategy was simple. Let’s stick together, let’s back ourselves, walk out with a positive attitude and a fighting spirit. And let’s accept whatever the result is,” on strategy adapted.

Ajinkya Rahane showed utmost patience in keeping the side galvanized amid injury woes. 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.

Ajinkya Rahane Realized That Melbourne Knock Is Bigger

Virat Kohli remains India’s most successful Test skipper with 33 Test wins in 56 Tests while Ajinkya Rahane has won 4 Tests while 1 was drawn as skipper. India’s stand-in captain calm and composed Ajinkya Rahane led from the front with a match-winning knock of 112, which is his 12th Test century. It was his second century in Australia and one that will be among his favourite and most cherished in the heart.

“But later I realised, and others also pointed out, that the Melbourne knock is bigger,” on MCG ton.“When you play Australia in Australia, remember they’ll come with everything they’ve got. They’ll come hard. Even in 2018-19, that’s what happened, ” said Ajinkya Rahane.

“So, it’s not the first time that an Indian team has copped verbal abuse while playing overseas. But when you go after colour and things like that – that stuff is not acceptable at all,” said the captain on racism.

“From whoever was available, the question was how to pick the best combination and make best use of available resources. The bowling combination was under greater consideration because, again, it was about whether to go in with the fifth bowler or an extra batsman, ” said skipper on picking best XI at Brisbane.


Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav
Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav. Credits: Twitter

“When Shubman got out, I thought I should carry on that momentum and try and play a bit freely. That was the discussion with Pujara, that I’ll go looking for runs and he stays at the other end and does what he was doing, just hold that end, ” said he on Brisbane chase.

“His determination, focus… these qualities have to be admired. Willing to get hit for his team, taking body blows, it was a phenomenal feat. It’s about what your team needs and how gutsy and mentally tough you are,” on Cheteshwar Pujara, who faced 1258 balls on the 2018-19 Australia tour and 928 balls this time around.

He is well aware of his gameplan. The same strategy worked for him in Sydney, where he got 97. He was very disappointed there when he got out. He played a similar innings in Brisbane as well, ” on Rishabh Pant.

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 finally fielded a team without any frontline bowler.
Mitchell Starc, Tim Paine, Australia vs India 2018/19
Tim Paine Photo Credit: Getty Images.

This Is Not The Time To Jettison Tim Paine: Greg Chappell

Greg Chappell, former Australian cricket captain has thrown his support behind Australian keeper and skipper Tim Paine, with the Test legend claiming that it is still not the time to be jettisoning Australia’s captain.

Tim Paine’s captaincy and wicketkeeping were thrown into the spotlight and were criticized following last week’s shock 2-1 series loss to India after two poor day-five performances against injury-hit India.

Greg Chappell
Greg Chappell

Greg Chappell: This Is Not The Time To Jettison Tim Paine As He’s Still The Best Keeper In Australia And Averaged Over 40 In India Test Series

The 36-year-old keeper is almost certain to lead Australia to South Africa next month if the tour goes ahead, but it has not stopped questions being asked externally. While Tim Paine put down three crucial chances in Sydney and another late in Brisbane, former Test captain Greg Chappell said Australia must stand by their man.

“This is not the time to jettison Tim Paine,” Chappell said.

“He’s still the best keeper in the country and he’s still averaged 40 in the Test series. Okay, he didn’t have great games in the last two Test matches behind the stumps. But you can’t overestimate how hard four Test matches in a row are, particularly for fast bowlers, and especially for a wicketkeeper-captain. It’s an enormous workload and he probably suffered a little bit from the fact that he was pretty knackered by the end.”

Tim Paine.
Tim Paine. Image Credit: Getty Images.

Despite regular questions over his batting, Tim Paine’s average of 32.63 remains the third-highest of all Australian wicketkeepers. Under his leadership, Australia have retained the Ashes and won 11 of 23 matches, but have now dropped two successive home series to India.

But with no other Test series scheduled up until the Ashes (except perhaps a one-off Test against Afghanistan), failure to win against the Proteas may well tempt the selectors into dropping the wicket-keeper-batsman.

Pat Cummins Front Runner To Replace Tim Paine But No Bowler Has Been Skipper Since 1964

Bigger questions remain over who could replace him, given Pat Cummins is the front-runner but no bowler has been the fulltime skipper since Richie Benaud in 1964.

Pat Cummins.
Pat Cummins. Image Credit: Getty Images.

Greg Chappell meanwhile finds it harder to come up with a solution for the Test team’s middle order. Matthew Wade has failed to reach 50 in his past 14 innings, while the Big Bash through the middle of the summer means no batsmen have been able to press their claims.

“I don’t think there are many (solutions), to be honest,” Chappell said.

“They’re going to have to do something but it’s going to be a bit of guesswork involved. I’m certainly not critical of the bowlers, I’m not overly critical of Tim. I think our batting certainly let us down.”

Travis Head averages 39.75 playing 19 Tests while Matthew Wade scored 173 runs in 4 Tests averaging 21.62. Travis Head scored 62 runs in 2 Tests averaging only 20.66.

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