Ishant Sharma | Sportzwiki

Ishant Sharma

Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara. Image Credits: Twitter
Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara. Image Credits: Twitter
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Cheteshwar Pujara And Ajinkya Rahane Set To Be Demoted From Grade A In BCCI Central Contracts In 2022

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane’s position in group A of the BCCI central contracts could be up for deliberation when the board finalizes its fresh list of contracted players for the upcoming season in a few days’ time.

Another big question is whether the BCCI top brass is in a mood to upgrade two future captaincy contenders — KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant — alongside Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Jasprit Bumrah in the elite A+ category.

Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)
Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)

Cheteshwar Pujara And Ajinkya Rahane Set To Be Demoted From Grade A Alongside Ishant Sharma And Hardik Pandya

The BCCI has four categories — A+, A, B, and C — which carry annual retainer ships of Rs 7 crore, Rs 5 crore, Rs 3 crore, and Rs 1 crore respectively. Normally, it is the three office-bearers, five selectors, and the national head coach, who decide retainer ships. As of now, there won’t be massive changes to the 28 names featured in the last list but there could be some serious discussions about the composition of the current groups which were in place last year.

“Obviously, Rohit, Kohli, and Bumrah being the three indispensable players across formats would be in A plus category beyond doubt. But now Rahul and Pant are slowly establishing themselves as all-format regulars, so it needs to be seen whether the duo gets a promotion or not,” a senior BCCI source said on conditions of anonymity.

Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma (PTI)
Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma (PTI)

But what could be a more debatable issue is Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane’s status after a year of consistent non-performance. Senior Indian batters Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara are most likely to be demoted in the BCCI central contracts. Their position in India’s Test team has come under intense scrutiny after their inconsistent performances with the bat for an extended period of time.

“The central contract is a performance indicator of where you stand as per your performance during the last season. If the BCCI and head coach (Rahul) Dravid decide to honour the duo and keep them in group A, then it’s a different issue but under normal circumstances, they ideally won’t feature in group A,” the source said.

Ajinkya Rahane in 2021, scored just 479 runs in 23 innings at an extremely poor average of 20.82 including just 2 50+ scores. Ajinkya Rahane, who was recently removed from the Test vice-captaincy, scored just 136 runs in the three-match Test series against South Africa at an average of 22.66.

India’s No.3 in Tests, Cheteshwar Pujara scored 124 runs in the three-match Test series against South Africa at an average of 20.66. Overall in 2021, he scored 702 runs in 26 innings at an average of 28.08 including 6 50+ scores.

The same is for pacer Ishant Sharma and all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who have both struggled due to injuries and lack of form throughout the season and the duo could feature in group B. Similarly, among the group B players of last season, only Shardul Thakur, who has had some impactful performances in Test matches, can be hopeful of promotion to group A.

Mohammed Siraj May Be Promoted From Grade C While Venkatesh Iyer May Make Maiden Cut

In current group C, Mohammed Siraj is one of the pacers who has shown tremendous improvement while Shubman Gill is one for the future along with Hanuma Vihari, who would also be expecting an upgrade. Among newcomers, the likes of all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer and pacer Harshal Patel could make their maiden cut.

Mohammed Siraj (Photo: AP)
Mohammed Siraj (Photo: AP)

According to the reports, Indian opening batsman KL Rahul, who is the stand-in ODI captain for the South Africa series, and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant are most likely to receive a promotion in the BCCI central contracts.

India’s next Test assignment is a two-match series against Sri Lanka, starting February 25 in Bengaluru and at least two middle-order slots will be up for grabs. Rohit Sharma is expected to be fit for that Test series and will take up his opening slot alongside KL Rahul while Shubman Gill will play as a middle-order batsman and both Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara are confirmed to be axed.

Last Season’s (2021) Contract List

Grade A+: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah

Grade A: Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Mohd. Shami, Ishant Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya

Grade B: Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur, Mayank Agarwal

Grade C: Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Shubman Gill, Hanuma Vihari, Axar Patel, Shreyas Iyer, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Md. Siraj.

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India's Ishant Sharma prepares to ball during the third day of the second Test cricket match of a two-match series between India and Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens cricket stadium in Kolkata on November 24, 2019. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE

It’s High Time To Win Series In These Countries – Ishant Sharma Recalls Memories With India’s ‘Most Successful Test Captain’

India pacer Ishant Sharma wrote a heartfelt message for Virat Kohli as the latter decided to step down from Test captaincy with immediate effect on Saturday. Ishant also recalled a conversation with him that he was so focused to turnaround India’s fortunes in overseas conditions.

“Thank you for all the memories I’ve shared with you in dressing room & on & off the field since childhood, where we never thought that you would be our captain & I’ll play 100 test matches for India. All we did was just play cricket with all our heart & things worked out well,” Ishant Sharma tweeted on Saturday.

It's High Time To Win Series In These Countries - Ishant Sharma Recalls Memories With India's 'Most Successful Test Captain' 1
Virat Kohli and Ishant Sharma (via Twitter @ImIshant)

Ishant played 43 Tests under Virat Kohli

Ishant recalled the memories of India’s tour of South Africa in 2017-18 when Kohli told him about his ambitions to win a series outside Asia. Though India lost that series by 1-2 in South Africa, eventually they won two back-to-back series in Australia in the space of three years.

I still remember back in 2017 in South Africa, where u told me it’s high time to win series in these countries. Yes, we didn’t win the 2017-18 series in Africa, but we went to Australia & beat them in Australia. In England 2017-18 series we lost, but we know as a team how close we came!” he added.

Ishant played 43 Tests under the leadership of Virat Kohli in which he picked 121 wickets with an average of 25.85 which included 5 fifers.

 

So cheers to your most successful Test Captaincy for India. and thanks for the amazing memories as a Captain you have given us,” he concluded.

Virat Kohli led India in 68 Test matches with 40 wins and 17 losses. In his captaincy tenure, India never lost a home series and they won two-Test series in Australia, twice in West Indies, and also leading a series by 2-1 in England which will be completed this year in July.

Going forward, India doesn’t have any overseas tour in the next 18 months barring that one-off test in England as they will host Sri Lanka and Australia this year while they will travel to Bangladesh for the 2-match series. The first test between India and Sri Lanka starting on February 25, will be Kohli’s 100th Test match in his career.

Also read “Virat Kohli Is Still Very Annoyed With The Selectors’ Decision To Remove Him From ODI Captaincy”- Madan Lal

Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma[Image-Twitter]

Team Management Need To Be Honest With Ishant Sharma – Shaun Pollock

Former South Africa all-rounder Shaun Pollock has urged Indian team management to be honest with Ishant Sharma and they should tell him the exact reason why he wasn’t picked for the decider at Cape Town.

Notable that Mohammad Siraj missed the third test due to a hamstring injury so Ishant Sharma was likely to get a go but the team management decided to go with Umesh Yadav so his Ishant’s recent form hasn’t been great and his record in South Africa isn’t encouraging either.

Team Management Need To Be Honest With Ishant Sharma - Shaun Pollock 2
Ishant Sharma. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) /

Ishant Sharma picked 14 wickets in 8 Tests last year

However, Pollock insisted that India team management needs to tell him about his future. Noteworthy that India already was playing with 4 pace bowlers and still India didn’t prefer him.

“I think the communication needs to be good. The guy needs to be respected for what he has done,” Shaun Pollock spoke to Cricbuzz.

Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah (Photo-Getty)
Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah (Photo-Getty)

“You need to be honest with him and you need to give him the exact reason. If the reason was ‘we think you would be better suited if there were no left-handers,’ he just has to accept that,” he added.

Ishant picked just 14 wickets in 8 Tests with an average of 32.71 last year. He picked only 5 wickets in 2 Tests against England in Pataudi Trophy last year. He picked just 20 wickets in 7 matches with an average of 40. But Pollock argued that a veteran like him deserves an honest assessment from the team management.

“It’s not easy when you have played that much amount of cricket and have given some really good service. The conditions are good in South Africa and he must be dying for an opportunity, particularly after those two pitches. He must be thinking, ‘Gosh if I could just have a game here, I’m sure I could make an impact,” said Pollock.

“I hope the communication with him has been good because he deserves that and then he has to assess where he is at,” he added further.

India’s next Test assignment will be 2-Test series against Sri Lanka at home in February-March. Then in England, they will have one remaining test of unfinished series which was postponed last year due to a covid outbreak in the India camp. India is currently leading the series by 2-1. The rescheduled match will be played at Edgbaston from July 1.

Also read Somebody Of Mohammed Shami’s Calibre, You Can’t Keep Him Out Of The Game For A Long Time – Sunil Gavaskar

India's Ishant Sharma prepares to ball during the third day of the second Test cricket match of a two-match series between India and Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens cricket stadium in Kolkata on November 24, 2019. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE
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Ishant Sharma Or Umesh Yadav- Who Will Replace Injured Siraj?

As Mohammad Siraj faced a hamstring injury at Johannesburg, India is in a selection dilemma for his possible replacement. Ishant’s height factor makes him a very tempting option but his recent form has been poor so Umesh Yadav might get a nod ahead of him. While the other likely change in the XI will be the skipper Virat Kohli replacing Hanuma Vihari as he has recovered from a back spasm.

Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma[Image-Twitter]

Ishant picked only 14 wickets in 8 Tests last year

In the second test, the hosts made a strong comeback as the skipper Dean Elgar led from the front to get a 7-wicket win to level the series by 1-1 as the decider will take place in Cape Town from January 11.

As India will be chasing their first series win in South Africa, they need to get their pace combination right. Indian pace attack couldn’t exploit much on a helpful surface at the Wanderers. India coach Rahul Dravid pointed out that India missed a tall pace bowler who could have exploited the uneven bounce of that surface.

“It felt to us that sitting outside, quite a few balls (bowled by SA pacers) kicked up and hit the batters on gloves. You expect the same when your bowlers are bowling. Just felt like the ball seemed to have misbehaved a little more for them and could be because of height. It is because on an “up and down” (variable bounce) wicket, it can happen because of that extra height, tends to make little difference. Obviously, it did not misbehave as much as it did for them,” Rahul Dravid spoke in a post-match press conference at Johannesburg.

Umesh Yadav. (AP Photo)
Umesh Yadav. (AP Photo)

So Ishant Sharma is the frontrunner to get into XI for Cape Town Test. Though his recent form is pretty average. In last year he picked only 14 wickets in 8 Tests with an average of 32.71. His record in South Africa isn’t encouraging either as he picked 20 wickets in 7 tests in South Africa.

On other side, Umesh Yadav who never played a Test in South Africa despite travelling with the team in the last 3 tours, might put his case strongly as the pacer picked 6 wickets against England in a historic win for India at the Oval last year.

Another change might be straightforward as Virat Kohli is likely to replace Hanuma Vihari. Though there are criticisms over the form of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane but the fifties in the second innings by the duo might save their places at least for another test. Though Vihari looked good in the Johannesburg test as he scored a gritty unbeaten 40 in the second innings.

Also read Reetinder Singh Sodhi Feels It Won’t Be A Big Deal If Rishabh Pant Is Dropped From 3rd Test For His Mistakes

Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane Image Source : GETTY IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane Image Source : GETTY IMAGE
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Reetinder Singh Sodhi Believes It Would Be A Big Call If India Leaves Out Ajinkya Rahane To Include Now Fit Virat Kohli

Reetinder Singh Sodhi believes it would be a ‘big call’ if the Indian team leaves out senior batsman Ajinkya Rahane from their XI for the third and final Test against South Africa.

Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, who have both struggled for form of late, scored attacking half-centuries in the second innings of the Wanderers Test against the Proteas. Hanuma Vihari, who played that Test as a replacement for Virat Kohli (ruled out for back spasms), also stood out with fighting knocks in both innings.

Reetinder Singh Sodhi. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
Reetinder Singh Sodhi. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Reetinder Singh Sodhi: One Out Of Ajinkya Rahane Or Hanuma Vihari Will Play

In the 2nd Test, Cheteshwar Pujara scored 53 runs off 86 deliveries and stitched together a 111-run partnership for the third wicket with Ajinkya Rahane. It was also Cheteshwar Pujara’s fastest Test fifty away from home. Ajinkya Rahane played a fluent knock of 58 runs off 78 balls but India fans expect more from the duo. Ajinkya Rahane averaged a lowly 20.82 with the bat in 2021.  Cheteshwar Pujara hasn’t scored a hundred since January 2019.

Now, former Indian cricketer, Reetinder Singh Sodhi has opined that only one out of Hanuma Vihari or Ajinkya Rahane might feature in the Indian playing XI if Virat Kohli returns back for the 3rd Test. Reetinder Singh Sodhi feels that Hanuma Vihari warrants a place in the Indian playing XI for the third Test.

During a discussion, Reetinder Singh Sodhi was asked about the selection dilemma for Team India, to which he replied: “If you talk about the combination, one out of Ajinkya Rahane or Hanuma Vihari will play. It will be a big call if you don’t play Ajinkya Rahane because Hanuma Vihari has not done anything wrong; he played a very pivotal knock.”

Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari (AP Photo)

The former India all-rounder Reetinder Singh Sodhi  added that Ajinkya Rahane would be slightly fortunate to retain his place in the playing XI, explaining: “Rahane has also scored runs, where the form has been seen. So it will be a huge decision, and if Rahane plays, it could be a lifeline for him because somewhere or the other, he has been struggling. He will be able to cement his place once again if he wins the decider for the Indian team.”

Virat Kohli and Rahul Dravid opted to stick with Ajinkya Rahane ahead of Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer for the first Test against South Africa, despite the former Indian vice-captain’s indifferent recent returns. With the 33-year-old scoring a fifty in Johannesburg, it is unlikely he will be dropped now.

Former India cricketer Reetinder Singh Sodhi believes that leaving out Ajinkya Rahane would be a big call for the tourists. Reetinder Singh Sodhi further opined that if Ajinkya Rahane gets a chance, given the rough patch he is going through, it would be a ‘lifeline’ for the Mumbai batter.

Saba Karim: Biggest Question Posed Will Be Team Combination As To Whether Ajinkya Rahane Or Hanuma Vihari Will Be In Playing XI

Saba Karim was asked about Virat Kohli’s biggest challenge on his probable return as captain for the 3rd Test and he replied it’s team composition as Hanuma Vihari and Ajinkya Rahane are fighting for a middle-order berth.

He replied: “The biggest question that will be posed is the team composition. Virat will have to decide with Rahul Dravid what the XI should be. The big question is, because Virat Kohli is coming back into the XI, whether you will leave out Ajinkya Rahane or Hanuma Vihari.”

File photo of former wicketkeeper Saba Karim. – The Hindu
File photo of former wicketkeeper Saba Karim. – The Hindu

The former India selector added that a choice will also have to be made between Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav if Mohammed Siraj is unavailable.

Saba Karim observed: “Siraj is injured at the moment, so whom will you play instead of him. I feel if you look towards experience, you should definitely play Ishant Sharma. But things will be decided based on who is bowling better between Umesh and Ishant in the nets.”

Mohammed Siraj suffered a hamstring injury on Day 1 of the Johannesburg Test. Although he returned to the field and bowled a few overs, the team management is unlikely to take a risk with him for the all-important series decider. The third and final test will begin on January 11 at Cape Town as India will be eying for their maiden series win in South Africa. India’s next assignment in Tests will be a 2-match series against Sri Lanka at home in February-March.

India's Ishant Sharma prepares to ball during the third day of the second Test cricket match of a two-match series between India and Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens cricket stadium in Kolkata on November 24, 2019. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE
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India Missed A Tall Fast Bowler Like Ishant Sharma In The Johannesburg Test- MSK Prasad

Former India wicketkeeper MSK Prasad believes that India missed a tall fast bowler like Ishant Sharma who could have extracted more out of that surface like South African pacers. Notable that Siraj had a hamstring injury during the first innings and he struggled through the second Test match. So he is likely to miss out on the second test match as there will be a toss-up between Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav for 3rd pacer slot.

Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma[Image-Twitter]

Ishant picked just 14 wickets in 8 tests last year.

Prasad said that India should go with Ishant considering his height as he believes that the South Africa attack gained more advantage in the second Tests as all of their pacers extracted the awkward bounce from the good length.

“We missed a tall fast bowler in Johannesburg and the only one we have is Ishant. On these kind of tracks, he is my choice ahead of Umesh. Had it been an Indian track which is rugged and feels like dustbowl, Umesh would be my ‘go to’ man,” MSK Prasad told PTI.

Also, former India wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta opined the same however he has some doubts over Ishant’s form. But he backed his consistency and experience in these conditions as it’s Ishant’s 4th tour to the rainbow nation.

“I won’t be able to say whether Kohli has the same faith in Ishant’s abilities which he had till 2019. But even then in this game, Ishant, if played, could come in handy compared to Umesh. Firstly, with that height, he would hit tougher lengths, and secondly because of his ability to keep the batters quiet for long periods of time which unfortunately didn’t happen on a bowler-friendly track at the Wanderers,” Dasgupta told PTI.

Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah (Photo-Getty)
Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah (Photo-Getty)

Ishant Sharma picked only 14 wickets in 8 Test matches with an average of 32.71 in the year 2021. His record in South Africa is also below par as he picked only 20 wickets in 7 test matches with an average of 40.

Ishant can bowl a good eight to 10 over spell and if we see the trend, a first innings score of 275 is the new 350 in Test matches in these conditions. Also, Ishant bowls that fourth stump line where the ball can straighten or cut back enough to make the batters play. But yes, team management will check out their practice form too,” he added.

Also read Rahul Dravid Explains Reason Behind Hanuma Vihari And Shreyas Iyer Wait To Bag Regular Test Spots

Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
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Rahul Dravid Hopeful To See Virat Kohli Return For 3rd And Final Test

Rahul Dravid said that he is hopeful of seeing Virat Kohli return for the third and final Test against South Africa slated to be played in Cape Town from January 11-15.

Rahul Dravid’s remarks came after India stumbled to a seven-wicket loss in the second Test against South Africa at the Wanderers, Johannesburg. Virat Kohli had missed the second Test due to back spasms and in his place, KL Rahul stepped in to lead the side.

Virat Kohli is highly likely to be fit for 3rd Test. | Photo Credit: AP
Virat Kohli is highly likely to be fit for 3rd Test. | Photo Credit: AP

Rahul Dravid: Virat Kohli Should Be Fine From All Accounts And Should Be Good To Go In 4 Day’s Time

If Virat Kohli comes back, it could mean that Hanuma Vihari, who was impressive with an unbeaten 40 in India’s second innings, could return to the bench. With India continuing to back their senior batters, the likes of Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer – who made a Test century on debut in November, but was out of contention with a stomach bug in Johannesburg – have had to bide their time for playing opportunities.

“Virat Kohli should be fine from all accounts, he should be fine. He has had the opportunity to run around a little bit, he has had the opportunity to test it a little bit. Hopefully, with a couple of net sessions in Cape Town, he should be good to go. Everything I am hearing and just having a chat with him, he should be good to go in four days’ time,” said Rahul Dravid during a virtual press conference.

When asked about his take on India’s batting performance in the series so far, Rahul Dravid said, “It has been challenging wickets for both the teams, South Africa’s fourth innings was probably their best with the bat. Yes, as a batting unit we can look to seize a few key moments and when we get partnerships, we can look to make them longer. It was challenging in the first innings but we could have gotten 55-60 runs more which could have made a huge difference.”

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

“Certainly, we would like to bat a little better. Maybe the guys who got starts could have converted them into 100s. That was the difference in the first game, we had Rahul scoring a century for us and we ended up on the winning side. Dean Elgar scored 96 in this Test and South Africa ended up on the winning side,” he added.

Dean Elgar played a captain’s knock scoring an unbeaten 96 to take the hosts to a 7-wicket win leveling the 3-match series 1-1 against India. After the rain interruption, the play finally started on the penultimate day of the Test match where South Africa resumed the day with an overnight score of 118/2.

Rahul Dravid Praised The Likes Of Hanuma Vihari And Shreyas Iyer

Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma comfortably took South Africa home with the captain fittingly scoring the winning runs as the hosts leveled the 3-match Test series 1-1.

“Hanuma Vihari played really well in both the innings. He batted beautifully in the second innings, Shreyas Iyer batted well for us in the past. The guys have to take heart from the fact that they are doing well when the opportunity is presenting itself. It happens, it is the nature of the sport and we can take confidence from the way Vihari batted in this game,” said Rahul Dravid.
Dean Elgar file photo (Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)
Dean Elgar file photo (Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

“I would not say we were complacent in this game, we were in this game. We felt 240 in the final innings would not be easy to defend, but with a little bit of luck, we would have had a much better chance. It is something an area we can look to get better at, but I would not put it down to being complacent,” he added.

Shreyas Iyer was indeed the first choice to replace Virat Kohli, but since he too was unfit, Hanuma Vihari got a game. With Shreyas Iyer scoring a fabulous century on debut not too long ago, it was believed that he would be the first in line to replace the injured Virat Kohli in India’s Playing XI for the Johannesburg Test against South Africa, but the man taking the India captain’s place was Hanuma Vihari.

Virat Kohli’s return may mean Hanuma Vihari’s axe for the 3rd Test. If Mohammed Siraj is not fit, India has the required backup pacers in the experienced veteran pacers Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav for the match, which starts on January 11.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (AP Photo)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (AP Photo)
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Aakash Chopra Tweets If Bhuvneshwar Kumar Was Born In South Africa, He Would’ve Ended Up With 250-plus Test Wickets

Aakash Chopra, the former India opener made a big claim on pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is not a part of the Test team at the moment. India produced a fighting performance on Day 3 of the second Test in Johannesburg against South Africa, as the side set a 240-run target for the Proteas to win the game.

South Africa did finish the day strongly at 118/2 but the Indian bowlers will be aiming to exploit the deteriorating pitch condition when they return to the field on Day 4.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra Tweets If Bhuvneshwar Kumar Was Born In South Africa, He Would’ve Ended Up With 250 Or More Test Wickets

The Indian pace attack in the second innings – comprising of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Shardul Thakur – wasn’t at its very best during the final session of the day and the absence of Mohammed Siraj, who pulled his hamstring during the first innings of the Test, seemed to make a significant impact.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar[photo: Twitter]
Bhuvneshwar Kumar[photo: Twitter]
Towards the end of the day, the former India opener made a huge claim over a particular Indian bowler who is not a part of the Test team at the moment but was an integral all-format player until early 2018.

“If Bhuvneshwar Kumar was born in South Africa, he would’ve ended up with 250+ Test wickets,”  Chopra tweeted.

https://twitter.com/cricketaakash/status/1478747009561481219?s=20

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has represented India in 21 Tests so far, taking 63 wickets. However, injuries at regular intervals not only plagued his Test career but also impacted his limited-overs outings for the team. The 31-year-old made a return to the Indian team last year in the white-ball series against England, having last represented the side in August 2019.

The Indian bowling attack for this particular Test series has the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, and Shardul Thakur. While Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav are yet to play a Test match in this series so far, Ravichandran Ashwin is the specialist spinner in the side with Shardul Thakur playing as an all-rounder. Shardul Thakur also bagged his career-best Test figures of 7/61 in this 2nd Test match.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar Is Facing Stiff Competition From Likes Of Mohammed Siraj And Shardul Thakur

Since Bhuvneshwar Kumar last played a Test, the Indian pace quartet of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, and Umesh Yadav has achieved significant success in the home and overseas Tests. Over the past year, pacers like Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur have also produced impressive performances, adding to further competition for Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Image Credit: Twitter)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Image Credit: Twitter)

However, the 31-year-old bowler is still an integral part of the Indian white-ball setup and has been selected for the upcoming three-match ODI series against South Africa. The 31-year-old right-arm pacer has not played multi-day format cricket since January 2018 when he last appeared in a Test in South Africa. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Prasidh Krishna, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj have been named in the ODI squad facing South Africa.

South Africa, chasing 240 to win is already 118/2 needing another 122 runs to win at stumps on day 3 of the 2nd Test, as the first session of the 4th day’s play was washed due to rain. India is leading 1-0 in the 3 Test match series.

The start of the fourth and penultimate day’s play in the second Test between India and South Africa was on Thursday delayed because of rain. South Africa needs 122 runs to win the match and restore parity in the three-match rubber, while the visiting Indians need eight wickets to emerge victoriously and script their maiden Test series win in the Rainbow Nation.

Mohammed Siraj (Photo: AP)
Mohammed Siraj (Photo: AP)
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Sunil Gavaskar Feels There Was No Need For Mohammed Siraj To Throw The Ball To Temba Bavuma

Sunil Gavaskar was slightly unimpressed with Mohammed Siraj attempting to run out Temba Bavuma, which saw the India pacer unintentionally hurt the South Africa batter.

In the 62nd over of play of Day 5 of the first Test in Centurion, Mohammed Siraj picked up the ball and inadvertently threw it back at the South African batsman hoping for a run-out, but Temba Bavuma hadn’t even moved out and he copped the blow on his shin.

Mohammed Siraj accidentally hit Temba Bavuma. (Twitter)
Mohammed Siraj accidentally hit Temba Bavuma. (Twitter)

Sunil Gavaskar Said There Was No Need For Mohammed Siraj To Throw The Ball As Temba Bavuma Didn’t Take The Run

While the world of Twitter did not take too kindly to Mohammed Siraj’s act, Sunil Gavaskar feels the 27-year-old fast bowler should be talked to in regards to aggression. Sunil Gavaskar believes that Indian pacer Mohammed Siraj needs a dressing down after an incident in the first Test against South Africa in Centurion.

Mohammed Siraj gathered the ball in his followthrough and threw it back quite aggressively at Temba Bavuma. The South African was well in his crease and had no intentions of taking a run. Mohammed Siraj’s throw hit him right in the foot following which Temba Bavuma needed medical attention.

“There was no attempt to take the run. You are a little bit aggressive; you’ve gotten a bit carried away. But if there was an attempt to run, it would have been understandable. He’s there. He didn’t take the run. There was no need, absolutely no need for that. Siraj should be spoken to. At the end of the day, how gracious Temba Bavuma was when Siraj gave him the thumbs up,” Sunil Gavaskar said on air.

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

Keeping the Temba Bavuma episode aside, Indian pacer Mohammed Siraj has made improved by leaps and bounds. If 2021 is to be carefully glanced at, pacer Mohammed Siraj’s rise is perhaps the biggest individual positive for Indian cricket to happen.

Mohammed Siraj Was Retained By His IPL Franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore For IPL 2022 And He Had A Great 2021 In Tests

The way he started off at the Boxing Day Test in Australia and led the Indian pace attack in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, and Umesh Yadav, claiming a five-wicket haul in the Gabba Test was a sign of greater thing to come.

Mohammed Siraj
Mohammed Siraj (Image Credit: Twitter)

He kept it up in the Test series in England grabbing a four-for as India completed a historic win at the Lord’s cricket ground. Mohammed Siraj was in hot form for his IPL franchise RCB as well and was one of the four players retained by the franchise for the next season. And the 27-year-old quick ended the year on a high with disciplined bowling against South Africa in Centurion.

Mohammed Siraj has played only 11 Tests for India so far, claiming 36 wickets at an average of 27.94. He played a key role in India’s wins in the Melbourne and Brisbane Tests in the Australian tour. The 25-year-old pacer made his debut in the second Test in Melbourne and immediately made his mark in international cricket.

Eventually, he ended up as the highest wicket-taker for India with 13 wickets in the Border- Gavaskar Trophy against and in Australia in 2020/21. Mohammed Siraj was retained by Royal Challengers Bangalore before IPL 2022 mega auctions. RCB retained Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, and Mohammed Siraj in the IPL retention. Mohammed Siraj was the third pick at a sum of Rs 7 crore.

KL Rahul (Image Credit: Twitter)
KL Rahul (Image Credit: Twitter)
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KL Rahul Opens Up On Facing Indian Pacers At Nets After India Won 1st Test By 113 Runs

KL Rahul has given an insight into what makes India’s pace-bowling attack so special. The stand-in Indian Test vice-captain said the pacers, who are fiercely competitive even while bowling in the nets, don’t consider the batters “teammates” and instead “terrify” them with their skills.

The quartet of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, and Shardul Thakur shone brightly in India’s historic win over South Africa. The visitors trounced the Proteas in Centurion by 113 runs, becoming the first Asian team to do so at the venue. The four pacers picked up 18 of 20 wickets, with Mohammed Shami alone taking eight.

Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah (AP Photos)
Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah (AP Photos)

KL Rahul Admits Playing Current Pacers At Nets Is A Difficult Aspect As They Keep Batsmen Terrified

Speaking after the Test, KL Rahul, the stand-in vice-captain who received the Player of the Match award for his 123 (260) in the first innings, said the batters “don’t enjoy” facing them in the nets.

“Playing them at the nets is more difficult because we don’t enjoy facing them in the nets. Even at the nets, they keep us terrified. They don’t look at us as teammates, they are very, very competitive athletes and players, ” said KL Rahul.

KL Rahul after his century in Centurion. Photo- AFP
KL Rahul after his century in Centurion. Photo- AFP

The stand-in vice-captain feels India is lucky to have a number of quality fast-bowlers, including the likes of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav on the bench.

KL Rahul continued: “We are very lucky to have such quality in our bowling line-up. Two, three people who are at the bench as well. In Umesh and Ishant, we have a great bench strength. It’s a very positive sign for Team India that there are so many quality fast bowlers in the team and on the bench.”

This was India’s fourth overseas Test win in 2021-the joint-most wins outside Asia in a calendar year, with the same group of fast bowlers being the difference in England and Australia as well. Earlier, skipper Virat Kohli also credited them for Indian cricket’s success in the last four to five years. Virat Kohli may not have been successful with the bat this year but he became the first Indian captain to win three boxing day Test matches.

2021 is only the second time India have had won four Tests outside Asia in a calendar year (Brisbane in Australia, Lord’s and Oval in England, Centurion in South Africa). The only previous instance was in 2018 where they won in Johannesburg in South Africa, Nottingham in England, and Adelaide & Melbourne in Australia.

KL Rahul: Mohammed Shami Will Scale New Highs In 2022

Speaking about Mohammed Shami, also his former teammate at Punjab Kings, KL Rahul argued that 2021 isn’t “special” for him because of the strong performances he has put in over the last three to four years. He hopes that the right-arm pacer will “scale new highs” next year.

Team India made light work of the South Africans on Day 5, taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. With the help of a wonderful century by vice-captain KL Rahul, India posted a total of 327 runs and backed it up with some impressive bowling performances. After being bundled out for 197 and 191 in their respective innings, South Africa lost to India for the very first time at Centurion by a margin of 113 runs.

Mohammed Shami
Mohammed Shami. Image Credits: Twitter

KL Rahul said: “I think, in the last 3-4 years, he has come up with such performances. I don’t think it will be a special year for him in terms of the performances he has put in. I think he has been a really key bowler and a very strong player who has done well for us in all conditions. Hopefully, he can keep getting better and scale new highs in 2022.”

While Mohammed Shami picked eight wickets in the Test, including a brilliant fifer in the first innings, Jasprit Bumrah made five crucial breakthroughs overall after KL Rahul’s knock of 123. Team India’s new year will kick off on January 3 when they take on South Africa in the second Test in Johannesburg.

India 327 (Rahul 123, Agarwal 60, Ngidi 6-71) and 174 (Pant 34, Rabada 4-42, Jansen 4-55) beat South Africa 197 (Bavuma 52, Shami 5-44) and 191 (Elgar 77, Bumrah 3-50, Shami 3-63) by 113 runs

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