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Rahul Dravid
Rahul Dravid - K. MURALI KUMAR

Indian Batsmen Have An Opportunity To Reflect That Not All Wickets Are Going To Be Flat: Rahul Dravid

Rahul Dravid believes that the new crop of Indian batsmen will learn with experience that “not all wickets will be flat” and they need to develop the art of scrapping it out on low-scoring tracks like the ones on offer during the last two T20Is against Sri Lanka.

India lost the three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka 1-2 on Thursday, playing without nine of their first-team players due to COVID-19 related isolation. Rookies Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana besides out of form Sanju Samson literally struggled against a quality spin bowling attack led by leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga accompanied by Akila Dhananjaya and Dhananjaya de Silva.

Wanindu Hasaranga Celebrates A Wicket in 1st T20I @SLC
Wanindu Hasaranga Celebrates A Wicket in 1st T20I @SLC

Rahul Dravid: Indian Batsmen Have An Opportunity To Reflect That Not All Wickets Are Going To Be Flat

Asked if he was disappointed in the manner the younger players were found wanting against Wanindu Hasaranga and company, Rahul Dravid replied in the negative.

“I am not disappointed as they are young. They are going to learn and get better only when they are exposed to these kind of conditions and quality of bowling. Sri Lankan team’s bowling attack is an international bowling attack,” Rahul Dravid said.

But the former India captain admitted that there is a lot to learn on how to play on challenging tracks, saying pitches in domestic cricket have become easier to bat as compared to his times.

“They would have liked to score a few more runs. They now have an opportunity to reflect that not all wickets are going to be flat. We need to find ways to scrap and score 130, 140 on these wickets,” Rahul Dravid observed.

“It’s really a good learning as they are all young players. This is a great opportunity to reflect on these performances and may be come up with some slightly better strategies. Let me be fair, we don’t get these kind of conditions very often in T20 cricket but when you do, I think, you have responsibility to play slightly better,” the head of NCA said.

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

Rahul Dravid said even his generation had their share of struggles but he feels during their times, they did play on tracks that offered turn and some were “under-prepared.”

“I think the wickets in domestic cricket may have got better. I don’t think the talent is missing it’s just that you need experience to figure out a few more stroke making options in these kinds of pitches,” Rahul Dravid opined.

The problem with the COVID-19 isolation was the fact that except skipper Shikhar Dhawan, there wasn’t a single experienced batsman available who would have nicely blended with the youngsters in this team.

“It needs time and experience and you need to blood young players with experienced players so that you have that cushion. Obviously, last couple of games, we didn’t have that cushion, most of guys other than Shikhar were young.”

Rahul Dravid didn’t want to take names of who all are T20 World Cup aspirants while praising the Indian spin quartet of Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy, and Rahul Chahar.

“We have a really good crop of spinners who are coming through. Heartening to see how our four spinners performed.”

In the 3rd T20I, Sri Lanka chased down the 82-run target in the 15th over to win by 7 wickets and take the T20 series 2-1, having lost the ODIs 1-2. With India forced to play with only five specialist batsmen once again, the home side won again as they were led by the ever-impressive Wanindu Hasaranga (4-9) mixing up his leg-spins and googlies, as Sri Lanka sent India’s top-order batsmen packing, turning the powerplay (4-29) into a highly unproductive one.

Rahul Dravid Defends Sanju Samson Despite Poor Run In T20Is For The Pitch In The Last Couple Of Matches Wasn’t Easiest To Bat On

Sanju Samson, who has now failed in nine consecutive T20 matches since last year, was defended by the Indian coach. Sanju Samson’s scores in the T20I series against Sri Lanka do not paint a good picture.

For someone who was tipped to make an impact before the T20 World Cup, 34 runs in 3 matches (with two fours and a six) at a strike rate of 94.44 and an average of just 11.33, these numbers are a massive disappointment. Sanju Samson simply squandered yet another golden opportunity before the T20 World Cup in October as he struggled against the Sri Lankan attack.

“It was not the easiest pitch to bat on. In ODIs, he got a chance and scored 46. He was batting well in the first T20 but last couple of wickets (pitches) were challenging. I guess yeah, if you look back at the series, we will be a little disappointed. Having said that not only Sanju but a lot of young guys in this team are talented kids, and we need to patient with them.”

Sanju Samson
Sanju Samson dives back to stop the ball from being hit on the wicket. (AP Photo)

So far in his career, Sanju Samson‘s T20 numbers are ordinary — 117 runs in 10 games at a strike rate of 110 despite being given opportunities to bat in the top four. In his last 10 T20I innings for India, his scores read- 19, 6, 8, 2, 23, 15, 10, 27, 7, 0. Rahul Dravid was also impressed by the fact that the young team was able to live a cooped-up life in a bio-bubble for 45 days with only six matches to play.

“It’s credit to all boys in the manner they maintained their spirit and worked really hard, I can’t fault any of the boys for their effort,” Rahul Dravid said.

He praised skipper Shikhar Dhawan and his deputy Bhuvneshwar Kumar for maintaining a good team environment in difficult times.

“Shikhar, Bhuvi, the leadership group for the environment that they created and terrific energy that they created, I can’t fault them on their effort.”

However, he put things in perspective as to how playing cricket in these times of pandemic was a privilege when so many people around the world were suffering.

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

Rahul Dravid Says He Hasn’t Really Thought Of Continuing The Role Of Head Coach Further After Losing T20I Series

Rahul Dravid has given a much-awaited reply to questions about him taking up a full-time role as Team India’s head coach. Rahul Dravid said that although he has enjoyed the experience of leading the young team in Sri Lanka, he hasn’t thought about continuing it further.

Although he has successfully managed India’s under-19 and ‘A’ teams in the past, this tour was Rahul Dravid’s first assignment as a head coach of a senior international team. Given his reputed image among the cricket fraternity, it was naturally – and optimistically – seen as a stepping stone towards a full-time role.

Rahul Dravid
Rahul Dravid – K. MURALI KUMAR

Rahul Dravid Hasn’t Really Thought Of Continuing The Role Of Head Coach Further

However, the batting legend remained non-commital and simply pointed at a lot of challenges in the role.

“I have enjoyed this experience. I have not really thought of anything far ahead. To be honest with you, I am happy doing what I am doing. For me, I have not given it any other thought except this tour and getting through this tour and enjoying the experience. I love working with these guys, it’s pretty great. And no, I haven’t given it any thought really. You know, there are a lot of challenges doing a full-time role so I really don’t know,” Dravid said on Friday.

Ravi Shastri. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Ravi Shastri. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Rahul Dravid has been touted as a potential head coach ever since his retirement in 2012. However, pundits and former cricketers close to him have often suggested that the 48-year-old is reluctant to put up with the immense travel and trips away from home that comes with the job.

Even as Rahul Dravid is with one national team for the upcoming ODI and T20I series in Lanka, Ravi Shastri is currently gearing up with Virat Kohli-led India for the five-match Test series against England.  Under Ravi Shastri, India had reasonable success across formats but hasn’t ended their 8-year-long ICC-title drought.

Hence, it is believed that Rahul Dravid will be the ideal replacement, who guided India U-19 to the World Cup triumph in early 2018. After his international retirement, Rahul Dravid served as the head coach of the U-19 and India Aside from 2016-2019 before taking over his current role as the head of the National Cricket Academy (NCA).

Rahul Dravid’s First Coaching Assignment Was A Moderate Success With India Winning The ODI Series And Losing The T20I Series

The T20I series, which concluded with a 2-1 Sri Lankan win on Thursday, had also started on a positive note with a 38-run victory. However, Krunal Pandya testing positive for COVID-19 and isolation for his eight close contacts derailed the run and allowed Sri Lanka to clinch the next two games.

Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Yuzvendra Chahal, K Gowtham, and Deepak Chahar are the eight players identified as close contacts of Krunal Pandya, who tested positive for Covid-19. Although all eight tested negative for the virus, they were ruled out of the T20I series against Sri Lanka.

Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan (Getty Images)(HT_PRINT)

India named 4 T20I debutants in Nitish Rana, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and Chetan Sakariya for the 2nd T20I match. Put into bat, India was restricted to a modest 132 for 5 with skipper Shikhar Dhawan top-scoring with 40. The hosts then chased down the target with four wickets in hand and two balls to spare.

In the 3rd T20I, Shikhar Dhawan’s decision to win the toss and opt to bat in the series decider against Sri Lanka backfired as the visitors could manage a meagre 81/8 in the allotted 20 overs. Spinner Wanindu Hasaranga was the wrecker in chief with four wickets haul while Dasun Shanaka took a couple of wickets.

Shikhar Dhawan departed for a duck while the likes of IPL stars Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devdutt Padikkal, Sanju Samson, and Nitish Rana were disappointed. Kuldeep Yadav helped India get past their lowest total. India’s lowest total in T20Is is 74 which came against Australia in 2008. In the match, Sandeep Warrier received his maiden T20 cap for India.

Rahul Chahar
Rahul Chahar (Image Credit: Twitter)

Suryakumar Yadav Praised Leg-Spinner Rahul Chahar Who Picked 3 Wickets On His ODI Debut

Suryakumar Yadav was full of praise and really pleased for his Mumbai Indians and India teammate Rahul Chahar, who made his ODI debut for India in the third ODI against Sri Lanka.

In conversation with the press after collecting the Man of the Series trophy in the recently concluded ODI series against Sri Lanka, the middle-order batsman Suryakumar Yadav shed light on how Rahul Chahar has built a lot of confidence from his time at the Mumbai Indians.

Suryakumar Yadav
Suryakumar Yadav (BCCI)

Suryakumar Yadav: Rahul Chahar Got Confidence After Playing For Mumbai Indians

Rahul Chahar has an experience of 3 T20Is where has picked as many wickets. He has also played 38 IPL matches, collecting 41 wickets at a decent average and strike-rate of 24.41 and 19.76 respectively. He picked 3 scalps in his debut ODI which India lost averaging 18 with the ball.

“He’s been doing this for us every now and then, for Mumbai Indians also and he’s got a lot of confidence from there. I still remember the first game of this season in Chennai, things didn’t go his way but the way he bounced back and got the support from the team management was really nice to see,” said Suryakumar Yadav.

Rahul Chahar
Rahul Chahar. Image Credits: Twitter

“When he came back, he bounced back with a Man of the Match performance. That’s how it is. When he plays for the franchise, he gets a lot of support and the same culture was here as well.

“Playing his first ODI, he got a lot of support from the team management and all the players. I was really happy to see him bowl so well. There was a little bit of dew and the wicket was not that helpful for the bowlers but he extracted some spin really well,” said Suryakumar Yadav.

Rahul Chahar, the 21-year old, is coming off the back of an impressive IPL season, bagging 11 wickets, at an average of 18.36 and an economy rate of 7.21. With fellow spinners from the Indian side struggling to find consistency in their bowling, the door could be open for the leg-spinner to make his way into India’s white-ball team.

Mumbai Indians Showed Confidence In Rahul Chahar

Mumbai Indians showed confidence in this skilful leg spinner and gave him 13 of the 16 matches they played in 2019. There is no dearth of talent in him and he surely proved that in the 2020 season scalping 15 wickets, not letting the batsmen get away with his clever googlies.

Rohit Sharma, Rahul Chahar Photo: © Twitter/@IPLd (Main Image)
Rohit Sharma, Rahul Chahar Photo: © Twitter/@IPLd (Main Image)

Captain Rohit Sharma had used him in the powerplay often and he proved that he could do the difficult job too. He picked 11 scalps in 7 games in IPL 2021 including a career-best haul of 4/27.

In IPL 2021, the 21-year-old turned the match against KKR on its head with his 4 for 27 against the two-time champions. Rahul Chahar sent back the top four Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) batsmen (Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, and Eoin Morgan) and registered figures of 4-0-27-4 that won him the Player of the Match award.

Hardik Pandya Bowling
Hardik Pandya Bowling

Hardik Pandya Thinks India Can Pick Two More Teams And Win Any Competition In The World

Hardik Pandya said India can now field two more teams that can win any competition in the world. Hardik Pandya’s words came minutes after India handed debuts to five cricketers in the third and final ODI at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Friday.
India is simultaneously fielding two teams-one with Virat Kohli as captain in England for a five-match Test series against the hosts while Shikhar Dhawan is leading a limited-overs team comprising of youngsters in Sri Lanka.
Hardik Pandya Image Source : GETTY
Hardik Pandya Image Source: GETTY

Hardik Pandya Thinks India Can Pick Two More Teams And Win Any Competition In The World

After sealing the three-match series on Tuesday, five rookies – aggressive left-handed batsman Nitish Rana, leggie Rahul Chahar, left-arm pacer Chetan Sakariya, off-spinner Kishnappa Gowtham, and wicket-keeper Sanju Samson, made their ODI debuts. Rahul Chahar and Sanju Samson have already played T20 Internationals for India but got their ODI caps on Friday.

“The kind of talent which the Indian team possesses right now, I think we can pick two more teams and win any competition in the world,” Hardik told the host broadcaster.

 Krishnappa Gowtham, Nitish Rana, Rahul Chahar, Sanju Samson and Chetan Sakariya are making their ODI debuts for India (Courtesy of BCCI)
Krishnappa Gowtham, Nitish Rana, Rahul Chahar, Sanju Samson, and Chetan Sakariya are making their ODI debuts for India (Courtesy of BCCI)

The only time when India had five debutants in an ODI was against Australia in December 1980 at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground when spinner Dilip Doshi, Kirti Azad, Roger Binny, Mumbai stylish batsman Sandeep Patil and Tirumalai Srinivasan made their debuts. A left-handed batsman and wicket-keeper Ishan Kishan and Mumbai’s Suryakumar Yadav had made their ODI debut in the first game at the same venue.

Hardik Pandya Learns From Mistakes And Grow As A Cricketer And Human Being

Hardik Pandya’s fitness and bowling form have been in focus in this limited-overs series. The India all-rounder has not been at his best in the ODI series. He bowled 9 overs in the first two ODIs and was dismissed for a duck and 19 in the second and third ODI. He picked 2 wickets in the series. Speaking about his performance, the talented all-rounder said, he always tries to learn from his mistakes and grow both as a cricketer and also as an individual.

Hardik Pandya talks about the talent at disposal of Indian cricket. (BCCI)
Hardik Pandya talks about the talent at disposal of Indian cricket. (BCCI)

“I understand that in life you have to keep growing. As a cricketer and a person, you need to keep growing. My process is just growing as a human being. You tend to make mistakes, you fail, but I like to celebrate my failures. I like to celebrate my bad days, it is a part of the sport and it teaches you a lot of things. I like to remember it,” he added.

Rahul Chahar picked up three wickets in his final spell but Sri Lanka managed to secure a nervy three-wicket win over India in the 3rd ODI in Colombo on Friday.

Avishka Fernando scored his second consecutive half-century of the series, while Bhanuka Rajapaksa registered his maiden ODI fifty as Sri Lanka seized control of their chase of 227 runs. Their partnership accounted for 109 runs before pacer Chetan Sakariya broke the stand and picked up his maiden wicket.

Before that, Krishnappa Gowtham had dismissed Minod Bhanuka for his maiden ODI wicket. Debutant Chetan Sakariya picked up two wickets as he removed Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Dhananjaya de Silva.

Earlier, Sri Lanka bowled India out for 225 in the 3rd ODI as left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama and Akila Dananjaya picked up three wickets each. After a 90-minute delay due to rain and wet outfield, play restarted in Colombo and the match was revised to a 47-overs-a-side contest.

Manish Pandey is likely to be given another opportunity in the second ODI against Sri Lanka | Photo Credit: AP
Manish Pandey is likely to be given another opportunity in the second ODI against Sri Lanka | Photo Credit: AP

Suryakumar Yadav Defends Manish Pandey Despite His Poor Form

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manish Pandey Unlikely To Feature In The Upcoming T20I Series

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

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

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

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

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

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra Opens Up On India’s Complacency In The 3rd ODI Against Sri Lanka By Making 6 Changes

Aakash Chopra, a former Team India batsman has opined that the visitors displayed a sense of complacency by making wholesale changes to the team for the third ODI against Sri Lanka on Friday.

India made as many as six changes to the team for the final ODI, handing out debuts to five players. The visitors struggled with the bat after a positive start and ended up losing the match by three wickets.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra: Complacency Is The Mindset When 6 Changes Are Made

Speaking on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra stated that Team India, perhaps, took the dead rubber a little too lightly. Ishan Kishan, Krunal Pandya, Deepak Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Kuldeep Yadav were the players who were left out of the playing XI with the series already in the bag.

“When you make six changes to your team, complacency is the mindset. It seemed Team India took Sri Lanka a bit lightly in the third ODI, having already won the series. Although the match was important for the debutants, collectively the group seemed to believe that ‘we will win the game easily as Sri Lanka are a weak side.’ But there is a lesson for Team India in the defeat – do not take any opponent lightly.”

India started well after winning the toss and opting to bat first but completely lost their way after the rain break. They were all-out for 225 in 43.1 overs as Akila Dananjaya and Praveen Jayawickrama picked up three wickets apiece for the hosts. Sri Lanka got home in the rain-curtailed encounter by three wickets courtesy half-centuries from Avishka Fernando (76) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (65).

 Krishnappa Gowtham, Nitish Rana, Rahul Chahar, Sanju Samson and Chetan Sakariya are making their ODI debuts for India (Courtesy of BCCI)
Krishnappa Gowtham, Nitish Rana, Rahul Chahar, Sanju Samson, and Chetan Sakariya are making their ODI debuts for India (Courtesy of BCCI)

According to Aakash Chopra, India’s tactics for the final ODI lacked planning, the result of which saw Nitish Rana bat at No. 7 on debut instead of his usual top 3 spot.

“India made six changes, included five debutants and changed the entire bowling line-up. Not a single bowler from the previous game played in the third ODI. Also in the batting, India gave a chance to Nitish Rana but he batted at No. 7 on debut. Here is a player who has batted in the Top 3 all his life – whether IPL, Delhi or List A cricket.”

India handed debuts to as many as 5 players in the inconsequential third ODI against Sri Lanka at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. Sanju Samson, Nitish Rana, Rahul Chahar, Chetan Sakariya, and Krishnappa Gowtham were handed their maiden ODI caps just before the toss while Navdeep Saini has also been named in the team.

This is only the second time that India is fielding five debutants in an ODI, since their inaugural match. It was in Australia at the MCG in December 1980, when Dilip Doshi, Kirti Azad, Roger Binny, Sandeep Patil, and Tirumalai Srinivasan made their debuts.

Aakash Chopra: Resting Kuldeep Yadav And Deepak Chahar Made Little Sense

Aakash Chopra added that ‘resting’ bowlers like Kuldeep Yadav and Deepak Chahar made little sense. He pointed out that Kuldeep Yadav is trying to work his way back into the Indian team while Deepak Chahar has only played a few matches in international cricket.

Deepak Chahar smashed an unbeaten 69 and strung together an unbroken 84-run partnership for the eighth wicket with Bhuvneshwar Kumar who scored 19* to help India register an improbable three-wicket win successfully chasing 276 in the second ODI against Sri Lanka despite being 193/7 at one stage.

“What was the bowlers’ fault? Kuldeep Yadav is not going to play in the T20Is, so why wasn’t he retained? Navdeep Saini and Chetan Sakariya got a chance but there was no logic behind resting Deepak Chahar. It is not that he had played a lot of ODIs. One can understand when you rest a player who has played a lot of matches like Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah or Mohammed Shami. But Chahar has only just started playing for India.”

Deepak Chahar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar's 8th wicket partnership saw India home in the 2nd ODI vs Sri Lanka (BCCI)
Deepak Chahar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Image Credits: BCCI

“Chahar must be wondering why he was ‘rested’. He was the man of the match in the previous game. So he deserved another opportunity. The pacer was another big positive for Team India.

“He picked up two wickets each in the first two games and that too with the old ball. He also scored an unbeaten 69, which almost single-handedly won Team India the second match. Unless he was unfit, he should have played,” Aakash Chopra added.

Sri Lanka on the other hand made three changes with Praveen Jayawickrama, Akila Dananjaya, and Ramesh Mendis coming into their playing XI. India and Sri Lanka will now battle it out in the three-match T20I series, which starts on Sunday, July 25 in Colombo.

Indian Cricket Is Flexing Its Muscle, Says Pragyan Ojha

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

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

Pragyan Ojha — File Photo
Pragyan Ojha — File Photo

Pragyan Ojha: Indian Cricket Is Flexing Its Muscle

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

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

Suryakumar Yadav
Suryakumar Yadav (BCCI)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

File picture of Russel Arnold. - THE HINDU
File picture of Russel Arnold. - THE HINDU

Russel Arnold Envious That India Has So Many Quality Players

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

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

Russel Arnold | Twitter
Russel Arnold | Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan (Getty Images)(HT_PRINT)

Shikhar Dhawan’s Idea Is To Keep Every Cricketer Together And Happy After Being Assigned Captaincy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra Says IPL A Reason Behind India’s Depth In Bench Strength

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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