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Ravindra Jadeja

Rashid Latif Screengrab: YouTube
Rashid Latif Screengrab: YouTube

Pakistan Will Win Only If Indian Players Make Mistakes: Rashid Latif Opens Up On The Blockbuster India-Pakistan Clash

Rashid Latif gave his verdict on the upcoming Super 12 fixture in the 2021 T20I Worlds Cup between India and Pakistan. Ahead of Team India’s T20 World Cup opener on Sunday, former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif stated that his country can only win if India makes plenty of mistakes on the field.

Pakistan will start their ICC T20I World Cup 2021 campaign against arch-rivals India in Dubai on 24 October.  They will then face New Zealand in Sharjah on 26 October before returning to Dubai to take on Afghanistan.

Rashid Latif file image. (Photo: IANS)
Rashid Latif file image. (Photo: IANS)

Rashid Latif: Pakistan Will Win Only If Indian Players Make Mistakes

Both sides face each other at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday and will be hoping to start their respective campaign with a win.

“In my opinion, no matter how well Pakistan plays, if Indian players don’t make mistakes, then it will be difficult for Pakistan to win the match”, Rashid Latif said.

India vs Pakistan game (Reuters Photo)
India vs Pakistan game (Reuters Photo)

“When I captained Pakistan, I always tried to induce errors from the opposition. Of course, you have to do your own job first, but at the same time, it’s important to make the other team commit mistakes. So, it’s not just about the technique or skills, it’s about tactics. You have to get your tactics right and try to make the other team commit errors”, Rashid Latif further added.

India has won seven of their eight T20Is against Pakistan, with five of those coming at the World Cup. However, the Men in Green are yet to win a World Cup game, be it T20Is or ODIs, against their arch-rivals.

Pakistan is yet to beat their arch-rivals India in a World Cup game in 12 encounters across the T20I and 50-over editions. Both India (2007) and Pakistan (2009) are former champions in the World T20 and have played plenty of cricket in UAE thanks to IPL and PSL.

Rashid Latif: There Is A Chance Of Making A Mistake By The Skipper As There Are Too Many Options Vying For A Place In XI

The 52-year-old also pointed out that Virat Kohli could be more prone to making a mistake due to the presence of many options for his playing XI.

“We have to see what Virat does if he wins the toss, and what combination he will be playing”, Rashid Latif said.

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

“Will he play Suryakumar Yadav? Or Ishan Kishan? Then you also have to see which spinners they will play. There is Varun Chakravarthy, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Ravindra Jadeja. So there is a chance of making a mistake by the captain in terms of picking the right players because you have so many options”, he also stated.

Pakistan is yet to defeat India in World Cups, having lost in their last 12 encounters. It also includes five defeats in the T20 World Cup. India has been paired with Afghanistan, Namibia, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Scotland in Group B. At the same time, South Africa, West Indies, England, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh will fight it out in Group A in the Super 12 stage.

Rohit Sharma blasted 60 off just 41 balls in the warm-up games to give India a blistering start against Australia. KL Rahul was impressive in the two warm-up games scoring a quickfire half-century against England followed by a solid 39 against Australia.

Ishan Kishan too hit 70 against England but is likely to be ignored in the all-important opening game. The middle and lower-order are very likely to comprise Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, and Ravindra Jadeja. Ravichandran Ashwin is an experienced campaigner and did well in the warm-up encounter against Australia  (claiming two scalps). Still, there is a chance that India might play Varun Chakravarthy to surprise the opposition.

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

Rajkumar Sharma Warns India Not To Be Complacent Against Pakistan Who Can Spring A Surprise

Rajkumar Sharma, India skipper Virat Kohli’s childhood coach, on Saturday said that team India is a better team than Pakistan, but the men in blue shouldn’t take their neighbours lightly ahead of the high-voltage clash in ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021.

The Sunday evening’s blockbuster match will see the Dubai International Stadium house one of the most historic and mouth-watering fixtures in cricketing history as team India lock horns with arch-nemesis Pakistan in the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup.

Rajkumar Sharma with Virat Kohli(Getty Images)
Rajkumar Sharma with Virat Kohli(Getty Images)

Rajkumar Sharma Warns India Not To Be Complacent Or Over Confident Against Pakistan In T20I WC

Ahead of that, Rajkumar Sharma said India doesn’t need to be complacent or over-confident because Pakistan is a team that can surprise anyone.

“The match between India and Pakistan is always exciting, as there are many nerves included. India has always defeated Pakistan in World Cup and I hope the same result comes tomorrow,” Rajkumar Sharma said. 

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

“Even if you look team-wise, India is a lot better team if compared to Pakistan. But India doesn’t need to be complacent or over-confident because Pakistan is such a team that can surprise anyone.”

Pakistan has never beaten India at a World Cup but most recently, beat the Indian team in the final of the Champions Trophy in 2017. Both India (2007) and Pakistan (2009) are former champions in the World T20 and have played plenty of cricket in UAE thanks to IPL and PSL.

India-Pakistan faced each other last in the 2019 ODI World Cup round-robin stage, where the former won by 89 runs (DLS method). Their last T20 World Cup face-off resulted in India’s 6-wicket win over Men in Green in Kolkata in the 2016 edition.

Rajkumar Sharma Backs India’s Bowling To Come Good In The WC

Virat Kohli has scored 169 runs from three innings against arch-rivals. In all those three innings, he remained unbeaten. 78* off 61 balls (2012), 36* off 32 balls (2014), and 55* off 37 balls (2016) were his scores against Pakistan in the T20I World Cups. Virat Kohli has been India’s highest run-getter against Pakistan in T20Is. He has scored 254 runs from six innings at 84.66 with two fifty-plus scores and a strike rate of 118.6.

Talking about the form of Indian skipper, his childhood coach said: “Virat from the beginning has a habit of accepting such challenges as he enjoys it. Pakistan hasn’t even got him out in T20 World Cup. He will continue his form and will be more relaxed and determined. As he has left captaincy and will be eager to win World Cup for India.”

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

Rajkumar Sharma also backed India’s bowling ahead of the Super 12s stage.

He said: “When the proper combination will play, the pressure will come from both sides. The Indian bowling attack is looking very good to me and they will also do great in the upcoming tournament.”

Besides Mohammed Shami (3/40), fellow pacer Jasprit Bumrah (1/26) and spinner Rahul Chahar (1/43) were also among wickets at the ICC Academy Ground in Dubai against England, but the pace duo was rested against Australia. Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin bowled 2 overs and finished with figures of 2/8 during India’s T20 World Cup warm-up match against Australia. All four spinners played in the match against Australia.

While Rahul Chahar finished with 1/17 from his 3 overs, Ravindra Jadeja was taken for 35 runs in his 4 overs, and he picked up one wicket. Ravichandran Ashwin bowled 2 overs and finished with figures of 2/8, while Varun Chakravarthy was tried in the death overs, where he went for 23 runs in 2 overs.

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

Any Side Could Upset India In Any Knockout Game As India Lacks Plan B And T20I Is Unpredictable: Nasser Hussain

Nasser Hussain, the former England skipper, feels that “any side can defeat” India in the knockout stage of the ICC T20 World Cup, owing to their lack of plan B and the uncertain nature of the shortest format of the game.

India has looked in fine form in the run-up to the tournament, having defeated heavyweights England and Australia in the two warm-up games prior to the group games in the 2021 T20I World Cup against Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Scotland, and Namibia. Their players also have the required match practice under their belts, thanks to the recently concluded IPL 2021.

Nasser Hussain. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Nasser Hussain. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Nasser Hussain: Anyone Could Upset India In Any Knockout Game Due To The T20I Format Being Unpredictable

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

In their second warm-up game, India thumped Australia by nine wickets with Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Suryakumar Yadav (38), all getting some runs under their belts. Australia’s bowlers captured only one wicket, with spinner Ashton Agar removing opener KL Rahul. Rohit Sharma (60 retired off 41) showed sublime touch alongside opening partner KL Rahul (39 off 31) as India chased down Australia’s 152 for five in 17.5 overs.

“They are favourites. I wouldn’t say clear favourites simply because of the format. The shorter the game, things can happen,” Nasser Hussain said.

“… an individual brilliance of 70 or 80 or three deliveries suddenly changes the other away around. So anyone could upset India in any knockout game,” Nasser Hussain said.

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

Nasser Hussain also highlighted India’s poor track record in the knockout stages of recent ICC events. India’s last ICC title came under the leadership of M.S. Dhoni in 2013 when they defeated England to lift the Champions Trophy.

Since then, India has been knocked out of the semifinals in the 2015 World Cup, 2016 T20 World Cup, and the 2019 World Cup while finishing runner-up at the 2017 Champions Trophy and the inaugural World Test Championship earlier this year.

“Their record of late in the ICC tournaments is not good and that’s something they are going to have to deal with — with the weight of expectations of the Indian audience and fans heavy on their shoulders — when they get to a knockout game, all of a sudden you cannot afford a mistake and that’s going to be a thing for them.”

Nasser Hussain feels that India doesn’t have a plan B when their top-order fails in a knock-out match.

“When they get to a stage — you look at the last World Cup against New Zealand — and suddenly it’s a low-scoring game and they don’t have a Plan B. They got rolled over a very good New Zealand side. So that’s going to be an issue for them,” Nasser Hussain said.

“The other problem with India is that they are so good at the top with Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and K.L. Rahul boss games and the middle order hasn’t had much of a hit. You get to a knockout or final and suddenly they are at 30 for 3 because the standard has gone up and the middle order hasn’t had a hit and you go now you need to do it,” Nasser Hussain added.

The India squad for the T20 World Cup remains top-heavy, with Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant, and Ravindra Jadeja likely to make up the lower middle-order and unable to inspire a great deal of confidence. Hardik Pandya averages less than 20 despite playing 49 T20Is and managed only 127 runs averaging a pathetic 14.11 at a strike rate of less than 115 in IPL 2021, and hasn’t bowled in IPL 2020 and 2021.

Hardik Pandya is in indifferent form, while Rishabh Pant has not been able to translate his Test success into T20Is, averaging just 21.33 after 33 matches. Ravindra Jadeja has batted only six times in T20Is since the start of 2019, but India was forced to go ahead with the experienced trio due to the lack of expertise of other players vying for selection.

Ravindra Jadeja’s last T20I was in 2020 against Australia, where he scored an unbeaten 44 before being concussed and missed the next few T20Is.

Nasser Hussain: India Has Some Of The Greatest White Ball Batsmen As On Paper They Have Every Base Covered

The former England cricketer said Virat Kohli-led India also needs to deal with the burden of expectation on its shoulders which arises because of the tremendous talent in the side.

“When they get into a knockout game all of a sudden they can’t afford any mistake and that’s because on paper they have everything. They have some of the greatest white-ball batters. Depth in the batting got the fast bowlers and the mystery spin and a mentor on the sidelines in M.S. Dhoni.”

Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni (Photo:AFP)
Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni (Photo: AFP)

“These are the areas India have to focus on. On paper, they have pretty much every base covered,” he added.

The 40-year-old MS Dhoni’s new role as a mentor of Team India is limited to the T20I World Cup.  MS Dhoni is the most successful captain in white-ball cricket with all 3 ICC titles – 2007 T20 World Cup, 2011 World Cup, 2013 Champions Trophy- in his cabinet. He’s led IPL franchise CSK to victory in the IPL in 2010, 2011, 2018, and 2021.

While captain Virat Kohli has lauded the appointment of ‘mentor’ MS Dhoni, opening batsman KL Rahul said he is looking forward to learning from the World Cup 2007 (T20I) and 2011 (ODI) winning former captain once again.

Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan. Image Credits: Twitter

Rashid Khan Denied He Ever Said He Will Marry If Afghanistan Win 2021 T20I WC

Rashid Khan insists his mind is occupied by the forthcoming T20I World Cup and not wedding bells as the leg-spin wizard looks to inspire Afghanistan at the Twenty20 global showpiece.

Still only 23 years of age, Rashid Khan is key to his nation’s hopes of a first-world title and a potential triumph that would deliver a rare bout of good news for his home country, especially after the militant group Taliban’s takeover. However, Rashid Khan said that speculation over his private life in the run-up to the tournament, currently underway in Oman and the UAE, will not derail his ambitions.

Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan (Photo Credit: Twitter/@cricketworldcup)

Rashid Khan Denied He Ever Said He Will Marry If Afghanistan Win Their First- 2021 T20I World Cup

Rashid Khan, who made his Afghanistan debut when he was a teenager- 17, is one of international cricket’s most in-demand players. He has already played 51 T20Is and more than 280 games in the format for franchises around the world.  A lucrative career has seen him ply his trade in England, Australia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, and, of course, the IPL in India, where he has been a regular for Sunrisers Hyderabad since 2017.

He denied he ever said: “I will marry when Afghanistan win a World Cup.”

“Actually, I was so shocked when I heard this because, to be honest, I never made a statement that I will marry once I win the World Cup,” said Rashid, whose family lives in Nangarhar in the eastern part of Afghanistan.

Rashid Khan, Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2021
Rashid Khan, Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2021[photo: Twitter]

“I just said that in the next few years I have more cricket and three World Cups (the 2021 and 2022 Twenty20 World Cups and the 50-over World Cup in 2023) so my focus will be on cricket rather than on getting married.”

He has 95 wickets in T20 internationals with an average of just 12.63 and in 2020 was voted the ICC’s Cricketer of the Decade in the format. Initially, ACB named Rashid Khan as their captain for the T20 World Cup 2021.

Rashid Khan soon came up with a tweet stating that he will be leaving the captaincy. Post that, ACB announced that Mohammad Nabi will be the captain of the team. Rashid Khan decided to step down from captaincy after the spinner claimed that his “consent” was not obtained before announcing the squad.

Rashid Khan Feels It Will Be A Spinners World Cup

On the low, slow wickets of the Gulf, the spinners will be key contributors, according to the leg-spin wizard. Rashid Khan, who will be playing his second T20 World Cup, said that the spinners are always “effective” on the slow pitches at three venues in the UAE, where the Super 12s, as well as the semi-finals and final, will be played.

Leg-spinner Rashid Khan turned in a few memorable match-winning efforts in SRH’s journey to the finals of the 2018 edition. He took 21 wickets and emerged as the second-highest wicket-taker in that edition. He has 93 scalps in 76 IPL games averaging a mere 20.55 at an economic rate of 6.33- the lowest economy rate ever in IPL history.

“I think it will be a spinners’ World Cup,” said Rashid.

“The wickets here are mostly very good for spinners, so I think that’s the main reason most of the teams have more spinners in their attack.”

India has packed four slow bowlers in their squad with Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Varun Chakravarthy, and Rahul Chahar, while England has Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali, and Liam Livingstone. Defending champions, the West Indies have Akeal Hosein, Hayden Walsh, and Roston Chase. Chris Gayle can also turn his arm over.

Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin AFP
Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin AFP

Pakistan can call on Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, and Imad Wasim as frontline spinners. Veterans Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik can also give the ball a tweak. New Zealand has Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner, and Todd Astle. Australia, yet to win a T20 World Cup, will look to Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar. Rashid Khan is not Afghanistan’s only front-line spinner — there is also Mujeeb Ur Rahman and skipper Mohammad Nabi.

“What I noticed during the Indian Premier League (the conclusion of which was also played in the UAE) was that wickets were good but there was not that much spin,” said Rashid.

“But I think the more we play in this World Cup we might see wickets which are a bit different and the more you play on these tracks it becomes slower and slower and they will be handy for spinners.” Rashid refused to predict any favourites for what is the seventh edition of the World Cup.

“Well it’s T20 and anyone can beat anyone on the day,” said Rashid, who stepped down from the captaincy ahead of the event over not being consulted in squad selection.

“We have a mixture of both experienced and young players and most importantly it’s quite balanced with a few all-rounders which make the side very balanced, especially in T20 when you have more of that all-round option.”

Afghanistan is placed in Group 2 of the World Cup with India, Pakistan, New Zealand, and two qualifiers in the Super 12 stage, which begins on Saturday.

Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja Image Source : GETTY
Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja Image Source : GETTY

Aakash Chopra Feels India’s Balance Will Be Compromised With Ravindra Jadeja-Virat Kohli Completing 5th Bowlers’ Duties

Aakash Chopra feels Team India will have an arduous task in getting Ravindra Jadeja and Virat Kohli to complete the fifth bowlers’ duties between the duo.

The Indian team is likely to go into the T20 World Cup with only five frontline bowling options, with Hardik Pandya unlikely to roll his arm over. The likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Suryakumar Yadav might have to be called into action if any of the regular bowlers are unable to bowl their full quota of overs.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra: If Hardik Pandya Isn’t Bowling, India Is Pegged Back Somewhat As Ravindra Jadeja Isn’t 4 Over Bowler

While reflecting on Team India’s possible bowling lineup in a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra opined that the Virat Kohli-led side might allow their opponents off the hook if both Ravindra Jadeja and the skipper bowl in the middle overs.

He explained: “When you are playing with five bowlers, Jaddu bowls in the middle overs – after the 6th and before the 14th – now if he is also going to bowl in that and you want to get an over from Kohli as well, I feel you will get stuck.”

Hardik Pandya Image Source : GETTY
Hardik Pandya Image Source: GETTY

The cricketer-turned-commentator added that Hardik Pandya’s inability to bowl will compromise Team India’s balance.  Virat Kohli was expected to sit out in India’s second warm-up match against Australia, but he instead came on the field and even bowled 2 overs for the team. Virat Kohli conceded a decent 12 runs from his spell.

Aakash Chopra reasoned: “Team India’s balance is slightly awry, let’s be honest. If Hardik is not bowling, the Indian team is pegged back a little. Jadeja, the 4-over bowler in T20 cricket, is still a bit of a question mark.”

Team India has the option to strengthen their bowling by batting all-rounder spinner Ravindra Jadeja at no.6 and playing Shardul Thakur as the seam-bowling all-rounder at no.7. But they are unlikely to go that route as it will weaken their batting considerably.

Aakash Chopra: Varun Chakravarthy Should Have Been Used Better

Aakash Chopra also questioned Team India’s handling of Varun Chakravarthy in their warm-up match against Australia. Varun Chakravarthy conceded 23 runs off 2 overs and went wicketless.

India went off to a flier in the opening stages of the game as the spinners headed by Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Rahul Chahar took four out of the five wickets. Australia then went on to set a target of 153, thanks to the heroics of Marcus Stoinis’ quick-fire 41 and Steve Smith’s well-made 57.

“I feel Varun Chakravarthy should have been used better because if you don’t do that, you will get found out. You are thinking of hiding him and I am saying to give him some confidence because he has not played international cricket.”

Varun Chakravarthy (File Photo)
Varun Chakravarthy (File Photo)

The former India opener turned commentator is slightly worried about the mystery spinner having not bowled much before the crunch match against Pakistan.

Aakash Chopra said: “If someone hasn’t played international cricket and you get him to play an India-Pakistan match straightaway, he becomes nervous. I am slightly concerned about Varun Chakravarthy.”

Varun Chakravarthy played the IPL 2021 final for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) against the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on October 15. The team management might have also wanted the injury-prone bowler to get sufficient rest, apart from keeping the mystery spinner away from glaring eyes. He picked 17 wickets in the 2020 IPL season at an average of 20.94 from 13 games and also 18 scalps in 17 games in IPL 2021, averaging 24.88.

Shardul Thakur. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Shardul Thakur. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Shardul Thakur’s Fortunes Have Changed Ever Since He Has Joined CSK In 2018: Virender Sehwag

Shardul Thakur, the fast bowling all-rounder, picked up 21 wickets from 15 matches to emerge as the highest wicket-taker of the season for IPL 2021 winners CSK, ensuring that his career graph maintained its upward curve.

Impressed with Shardul Thakur’s progress, former India dashing batsman Virender Sehwag lauded the 30-year-old and credited his association with CSK and its captain MS Dhoni for the terrific turnaround in his career. Virender Sehwag feels Shardul Thakur has turned over a new leaf since joining CSK, which has seen him grab 55 wickets for the four-time IPL champions.

Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur[photo: Twitter]

Shardul Thakur’s Fortunes Have Changed After He Joined CSK: Virender Sehwag

Chennai Super Kings proved yet again why they are the most consistent IPL team of all time. Over the IPL, only once did CSK fail to reach the Playoffs, which was last year (IPL 2020). Still, as the team is renowned always to stage a fabulous comeback, CSK did exactly that in IPL 2021, winning the title by beating Kolkata Knight Riders by 27 runs in the final in Dubai.

While most of CSK’s triumph focused on Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Ravindra Jadeja, and Deepak Chahar, one person who went under the radar is Shardul Thakur.

Virender Sehwag
Virender Sehwag (Image Credit: Twitter)

“He is CSK’s highest wicket-taker this season. He came to bowl the 11th over where he took two wickets and the game changed from there. His fortunes have changed ever since he has joined Chennai Super Kings. He’s played most of his cricket for India after playing for CSK,” Virender Sehwag said.

CSK acquired Shardul Thakur in 2018, and although he had represented the national team in ODIs and T0Is earlier, the same year, he went on to make his Test debut later in November. Shardul Thakur, who has been consistently among wickets for the Mumbai Ranji team, was inducted into the Indian squad for the Test tour of the West Indies(2018). Although, his big moment came in Sri Lanka when he made his ODI debut for India (2017).

Shardul Thakur Has Performed Well For CSK, Which Has Reflected In Int’l Cricket Success: Virender Sehwag

Although it took Shardul Thakur to cement his place in the team, he has produced a good case for himself with both bat and ball, scoring three half-centuries and picking 14 wickets from four Tests.

“Before joining CSK, he used to be in and out of the team, but having played for Chennai, he entered the Indian Test team, the one-day side, and the T20 unit as well. As I said, his fortunes have changed, not only because he has played for CSK but also because he has picked up wickets and performed well,” added Virender Sehwag.

Shardul Thakur | Twitter
Shardul Thakur | Twitter

In his brief international career, pace all-rounder Shardul Thakur has played 4 Tests picking 14 scalps averaging 22.71 besides amassing 190 runs with 3 fifties averaging 38. He has also played 15 ODIs and 22 T20Is, picking up 22 and 31 wickets, respectively.

Fast bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur who was named in the reserves, replaced Axar Patel in India’s main squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup to be held in the UAE and Oman from October 17. The selectors wanted a cover for pace bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who plays for Mumbai Indians, not bowling during the IPL because of fitness issues.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who conceded 54 runs in four overs in India’s first warm-up clash against England before the T20I World Cup, may not be picked for the mega clash against Pakistan as Shardul Thakur’s chances to play against Pakistan have increased.

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

KL Rahul Should Open Alongside Rohit Sharma In 2021 T20I World Cup: Aakash Chopra

Aakash Chopra has shared his wishlist about Team India ahead of the T20 World Cup warm-up game against England. It includes KL Rahul batting at the top of the order alongside Rohit Sharma.

The 15-member Indian squad has multiple opening spot options in Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Ishan Kishan. Skipper Virat Kohli had also expressed his wish to bat at the top of the order after India’s home series last match against England.

KL Rahul Image Source : GETTY IMAGES
KL Rahul Image Source: GETTY IMAGES

Aakash Chopra:  Now That KL Rahul Is Firing And Running Better, He Should Open Alongside Rohit Sharma

While reflecting on India’s opening conundrum, in a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra highlighted that KL Rahul is in better touch than Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.

“The first thing is the batting order, who is going to open? Last time when they played, Rohit and Kohli had opened, and both had hit a lot and the talk started to make them open because Rahul was not making runs at that time. But now Rahul is firing. He is not walking; he is running and running better than Rohit and Virat.”

KL Rahul
KL Rahul (Image Credit: Twitter)

While picking Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul as his two openers, Aakash Chopra wants KL Rahul to be carefree and bat in a fearless approach.

“So, please get Rohit and Rahul to open. Virat Kohli at No.3, I want to see how Surya is batting. I want the carefree and fearless approach from Rahul. I want the big innings from Rohit because he is only showing the trailer, we haven’t seen the picture for a long time in white-ball cricket.”

KL Rahul brought his explosive side to the fore in the Punjab Kings’ last match of IPL 2021 against the Chennai Super Kings. Meanwhile, Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma got off to starts but did not play substantial knocks in the UAE leg of the tournament.

KL Rahul scored 626 runs from 13 innings in IPL 2021 while opening the batting for Punjab Kings and his last innings against Chennai Super Kings was breathtaking. The Punjab skipper smashed an unbeaten 98 off 42 balls with seven fours and eight sixes that took his overall strike rate to 138.30 at the end of the tournament.

The 23-year-old Ishan Kishan scored 84 off 32 balls and 50 not out off 25 balls at the top of the order in the final two games for Mumbai Indians, but it went in vain as the defending champions were knocked out of play-offs due to inferior net run-rate compared to Kolkata Knight Riders.

Aakash Chopra: If Hardik Pandya Is Unable To Bowl, Batting Order Will Be Changed Entirely

While naming Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya as his finishers, Aakash Chopra highlighted the question marks about the latter’s ability to bowl, though.

“Virat Kohli should continue playing the way he is playing. He anyways plays very well in the World Cup. I will keep Rishabh Pant at No.5, Hardik Pandya at No.6, and that’s my big question – Hardik Pandya’s bowling.”

The 44-year-old commentator added that India’s balance will be compromised if all-rounder Hardik Pandya can’t roll his arm over.
Aakash Chopra pointed out: “If Hardik Pandya is bowling, we are all happy. You will have to change your batting order entirely if Hardik Pandya is not bowling. How will you do that, I am unable to understand.”
Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra concluded by saying that Team India will have a formidable look if Hardik Pandya is at his best both with bat and ball, which wasn’t on show in the recently concluded IPL 2021.

He reasoned: “Hardik Pandya at No.6 is only possible if you get him to bowl and he scores runs because he has not scored runs. If he is there at No.6 and Jaddu at No.7, you will have six bowling options and two rocket batsmen at No.6 and No.7.”

Team India will have their task cut out if Hardik Pandya can’t bowl. They would either have to bat Ravindra Jadeja at No.6 if they want an extra bowling option or hope that the five frontline bowlers would do the job.

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni (Image Credit: Twitter)

Chennai Super Kings Will Use First Retention Card For ‘Skipper’ MS Dhoni In IPL 2022

Chennai Super Kings fans were elated when skipper MS Dhoni after lifting the IPL trophy, told Harsha Bhogle at the post-match presentation on Friday that he hadn’t yet left behind a legacy. However, while it was seen as a sign that fans might still get to see the legend on the cricket pitch, the CSK management has now confirmed the same.

A CSK official said the first retention card at the auction will be used to retain the captain of the ship.

Chennai Super Kings
Chennai Super Kings (Image Credit: Twitter)

Chennai Super Kings Will Use First Retention Card For MS Dhoni In IPL 2022

MS Dhoni had said he hadn’t left behind with a wide grin when the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) captain was asked if the talismanic batsman is proud to have left a legacy behind in 12 seasons for the newly crowned Indian Premier League (IPL) champions. However, one of the most successful captains in the shortest format of cricket, MS Dhoni, had earlier admitted to the ‘uncertainties’ surrounding the 2022 edition of the cash-rich league.

“There will be retention and that is a fact. The number of retentions isn’t something we are aware of yet. But honestly, that is secondary in MS’ case because the first card will be used for him. The ship needs its captain and rest assured he will be back next year,” the official said.


MS Dhoni, on his part, played it like he always has as he said CSK will try to make a strong core that can contribute for the next few years.

Asked about the road ahead after registering his fourth title win in the IPL, Dhoni said: “Again I’ve said it before, it depends on BCCI. With two new teams coming in, we have to decide what is good for CSK. It’s not about me being there in top-three or four. It’s about making a strong core to ensure the franchise doesn’t suffer. The core group, we have to have a hard look to see who can contribute for the next 10 years.”

In the IPL 2021, the likes of CSK openers Ruturaj Gaikwad (635 runs) and Faf du Plessis (633 runs) finished as leading run-getters in IPL 2021. Moeen Ali (357 runs), Ambati Rayudu (257 runs) also delivered in crunch situations. Dwayne Bravo (14), Deepak Chahar(14), Ravindra Jadeja(13), Josh Hazlewood(11), and Shardul Thakur(21) were amongst the wickets.

MS Dhoni Credits KKR For Comeback After Covid-19 Induced Break

He even made it a point to first congratulate Kolkata Knight Riders for this season’s tremendous display before talking about his own team’s display.

“Before I start talking about CSK, need to talk about KKR. Difficult to come back and do what they have, if any team deserved to win the IPL, it’s KKR. Huge credit to the coaches, team, and support staff. The break really helped them. Coming to CSK, we shuffled players. We had match winners coming game after game and doing really well,” said Dhoni.

Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata Knight Riders (Image Credit: Twitter)

“Every final is special, if you look at stats, we may say we’re the most consistent team to lose the final too. I feel it’s important to come back strong, especially in the knockouts. Frankly no chats, we don’t talk a lot [meetings]. It’s more one-on-one, our practice sessions are meeting sessions. The moment you get into a team room, it brings about different pressure,” he added.

Dhoni didn’t forget the all-important CSK fans and said: “I would love to thank the fans, wherever we’ve played, even when we were in South Africa, we’ve always had a good number of CSK fans. That is what you crave. Thanks to all of them, it feels like we’re playing in Chennai. Hopefully, we’ll be back in Chennai for the fans.”

The Covid-19 induced break in the season came at the right time for KKR as they could regroup from the dismal start they had to the season. Unfortunately, the likes of KKR spinner Varun Chakravarthy and pacer Sandeep Warrier and SRH’s Wriddhiman Saha and DC’s Amit Mishra were contracted with the Covid-19 virus, which eventually led to the postponement of IPL 2021 in India and the remainder of the league was moved to UAE.

The virus had wreaked havoc in India at that time, claiming thousands of lives. Prasidh Krishna, who has been picked as a standby player for England tour, became the fourth Kolkata Knight Riders player to test positive for Covid-19. KKR wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Seifert was reported to have tested positive for Covid-19 earlier.

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni

Shaun Pollock Feels CSK Will Retain MS Dhoni As ‘Mentor’ Not As A ‘Player’ In IPL 2022

Shaun Pollock, the former South Africa skipper, has expressed his reservations about Chennai Super Kings (CSK) retaining MS Dhoni as a franchise player ahead of the IPL 2022 auction.

MS Dhoni had said he hadn’t left behind with a wide grin when the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) captain was asked if the talismanic batsman is proud to have left a legacy behind in 12 seasons for the newly crowned Indian Premier League (IPL) champions. However, one of the most successful captains in the shortest format of cricket, MS Dhoni, had earlier admitted to the ‘uncertainties’ surrounding the 2022 edition of the cash-rich league.


Shaun Pollock Feels CSK Will Retain MS Dhoni As A Mentor In Managerial Role

Even after guiding CSK to their fourth IPL crown in the 14th season, MS Dhoni has remained in speculations about calling time on his incredible T20 career. However, when it comes to MS Dhoni’s future, a lot will depend on the retention policy of the BCCI for the mega auction. Former South Africa skipper Shaun Pollock feels CSK will retain MS Dhoni as a mentor for the 15th season of domestic cricket’s biggest extravaganza – the IPL.

Shaun Pollock was the first South African to 400 Test wickets © AFP
Shaun Pollock was the first South African to 400 Test wickets © AFP.

MS Dhoni won CSK to four IPL titles and two Champions League T20 trophies. The 40-year-old is the only captain to have played more than 200 matches as a leader of CSK and Rising Pune Supergiants. IPL 2022 will see a majority of players going under the auction, and each franchise will be able to retain a maximum of three players. Considering the retention policy, which is yet to be announced, MS Dhoni might take over as the team’s mentor.

Shaun Pollock Would Go With Faf du Plessis, Ravindra Jadeja, And Ruturaj Gaikwad As The 3 Retentions

Discussing CSK’s retention strategy for the next season- IPL 2022 with ex-Indian player Ajay Jadeja, the legendary all-rounder, named his top three picks that CSK should retain in the build-up to the mega auction. According to Shaun Pollock, the CSK think tank can invest in star openers Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf Du Plessis, and veteran all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja for the 2022 season.

“You have got to keep Ruturaj Gaikwad. Going forward, I feel he will be absolutely fantastic for them. Jadeja, I would hold on to because he’s been great with the bat and the ball. And I personally don’t think we will see Dhoni, I think he will be retained in a managerial role. I would probably go with Faf, Jadeja, and Gaikwad as the three retentions,” Shaun Pollock said. 

Faf du Plessis and Ruturaj Gaikwad (Image Credit: Twitter)
Faf du Plessis and Ruturaj Gaikwad (Image Credit: Twitter)

This year, Faf du Plessis, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and Ravindra Jadeja were instrumental in CSK’s title-winning season. MS Dhoni-led CSK defeated Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by 27 runs to clinch their fourth IPL title on Friday. All four of CSK’s IPL titles have come under MS Dhoni’s leadership. The 40-year-old has been CSK’s skipper since the inception of the tournament in 2008.

In the IPL 2021, the likes of CSK openers Ruturaj Gaikwad (635 runs) and Faf du Plessis (633 runs) finished as leading run-getters in IPL 2021. Moeen Ali (357 runs), Ambati Rayudu (257 runs) also delivered in crunch situations. Dwayne Bravo (14), Deepak Chahar(14), Ravindra Jadeja(13), Josh Hazlewood(11), and Shardul Thakur(21) were amongst the wickets.

MS Dhoni does not know whether he would represent his franchise Chennai Super Kings in the IPL 2022 as there are uncertainties about retention policy and the addition of two new teams. However, after winning the maiden World T20 in 2007 and 2011 ODI World Cup after a hiatus of 28 years to lead Chennai Super Kings to 4 Indian Premier League titles, the list of MS Dhoni’s achievements in white-ball cricket matches doesn’t have an end.

Ruturaj Gaikwad
Ruturaj Gaikwad (Image Credit: Twitter)

Ravindra Jadeja And Ruturaj Gaikwad To Be Retained By CSK For IPL 2022: Reports

Chennai Super Kings, the IPL 2021 winning team, lined up for the customary photo-op in Dubai on Friday. Not only the players and support staff, the families of all the players, including the reserves, were called up as Chennai Super Kings celebrated at the end of a long journey or just the beginning considering IPL 2022 mega auctions may see the team composition changing drastically.

Chennai Super Kings Captain MS Dhoni said after their win over KKR in the IPL 2021 final, they would look to build a core that would last them for the next 10 years. So the team may seem to forego their ‘old is gold’ theory and build a side around youth. But that’s not the case as Chennai Super Kings may retain experienced cricketers ahead of IPL 2022 auctions and target others who did well for them.

Chennai Super Kings (Image Credit: Twitter)
Chennai Super Kings (Image Credit: Twitter)

Chennai Super Kings’ Ravindra Jadeja And Ruturaj Gaikwad Will Be Retained For IPL 2022, MS Dhoni Is The Third Option While Several Senior Pros Will Be Targeted At Auctions:  Source

One understands that in the numerous discussions that MS Dhoni had with his team about the next auctions during the course of the IPL, it was decided that Chennai Super Kings would try to retain some of their seniors – even if it is from the auctions — who have performed so brilliantly for a decade. Hence, orange Cap holder Ruturaj Gaikwad and spinner Ravindra Jadeja are almost certain to be retained.

“Ravindra Jadeja and Ruturaj Gaikwad are the two players who will be retained, come what may…Dhoni is seriously looking at the retention rules and if it is three players, he could be the third. But players like Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis, or even the 38-year-old Dwayne Bravo will be targeted by CSK, along with the likes of Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar,” a source close to the developments told TOI.

Ravindra Jadeja With MS Dhoni CSK Twitter Handle
Ravindra Jadeja With MS Dhoni CSK Twitter Handle

MS Dhoni, himself, had left it ambiguous at the prize distribution ceremony, saying he “hadn’t left yet” when the host spoke about his legacy. Among others, while 37-year-old Faf du Plessis played a number of crucial match-winning knocks, including the final on Friday, while the likes of Moeen Ali, Dwayne Bravo, and Ambati Rayudu played crucial hands along the course of the tournament.

In the IPL 2021, the likes of CSK openers Ruturaj Gaikwad (635 runs) and Faf du Plessis (633 runs) finished as leading run-getters in IPL 2021. Moeen Ali (357 runs), Ambati Rayudu (257 runs) also delivered in crunch situations. Dwayne Bravo (14), Deepak Chahar(14), Ravindra Jadeja (13), Josh Hazlewood(11), and Shardul Thakur(21) were amongst the wickets.

MS Dhoni Said That If It Was Not CSK, Many Reserve Players Couldh’ve Walked Into The Franchise

When CSK was returning to the IPL fold in 2018 after a two-year ban for alleged match-fixing, MS Dhoni went against popular opinion and decided to bank on seniors who had “been there, done that”. As a result, in the next 4 years including 2018, CSK won twice(2018, 2021) and came close to winning another, losing by 1 run in 2019 to MI.

“We don’t get too deep into analytics and numbers, we go with gut feel and developing relationships with players. It’s old school but it works for us,” coach Stephen Fleming said.

While sticking with experience was the cornerstone of CSK’s success, the feeling of family within the group also played its part. Robin Uthappa, who played the last four matches, mentioned that the management takes care of the players, even those who are not necessarily part of the playing XI, right through the year.

Suresh Raina
Suresh Raina (Image Credit: Twitter)

MS Dhoni, too, in his vote of thanks to the team after the match, spoke about the importance of the players who were not in the playing XI.

“Dhoni said that had it been any other franchise, there are quite a few players in the CSK reserves who would have walked into the XI,” a source said.

The only superstar whose Chennai Super Kings career might be over is Suresh Raina. The left-handed batsman’s form has taken a nose-dive, and his fitness, too, has been a cause of concern. However, with two new teams coming up in IPL 2022, it may not be a surprise if the left-hander finally lands in one of those, provided he wants to keep on playing.

In IPL 2021 final, put in to bat, Chennai Super Kings amassed 192-3 with opener Faf du Plessis anchoring their innings with 86 off 59 balls. Ruturaj Gaikwad made 32, while Robin Uthappa (31) and Moeen Ali (37 not out) chipped in with useful cameos. Kolkata, led by Eoin Morgan, got off to a flying start with a 91-run stand between openers Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer before the middle order failed again as KKR finished on 165-9.

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