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Shreyas Iyer

Shreyas Iyer. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Shreyas Iyer. (Photo Source: Twitter)
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Shreyas Iyer Is On The Radar Of RCB, KKR, And PBKS As All Of The 3 Franchises Are Targeting Him As Their Next Skipper

Shreyas Iyer, India’s limited-overs batter is on the radar of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), who’s eyeing him as their next captain, revealed a source tracking the developments closely.

Despite scoring a century on his Test debut, Shreyas Iyer could not get a place in Indian Test XI in South Africa. But all that disappointment will soon be a thing of the past as a big opportunity is knocking on Shreyas Iyer’s doors. He is set to be in great demand before IPL 2022 auctions. Not one but 3 franchises are eyeing Indian limited over batsman as their new skipper.

Shreyas Iyer of Delhi Capitals in action during an IPL match for Delhi ©BCCI
Shreyas Iyer of Delhi Capitals in action during an IPL match for Delhi ©BCCI

Shreyas Iyer Is On The Radar Of RCB, KKR, And PBKS As Their Next Skipper

According to the available information, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Punjab Kings (PBKS) – all 3 are ready to break the bank for Shreyas Iyer.

“Post Virat Kohli quitting the RCB captaincy, RCB are really interested in having Iyer as their next captain. Expect them to bid aggressively for the Mumbaikar in next month’s auction in Bangalore,” informed the source.

Rishabh Pant of Delhi Capitals
Rishabh Pant of Delhi Capitals (Image Credit: Twitter)
“The Kolkata Knight Riders and Punjab Kings are also expected to eye him in the auction,” he said.

Shreyas Iyer, as is evident now, wants to be named as the captain of whichever franchise he plays for. The middle-order batter quit the Delhi Capitals after they appointed Rishabh Pant as their skipper. Post that, he didn’t join Lucknow or Ahmedabad as both franchises weren’t offering him the captaincy.

Shreyas Iyer Has Played 87 IPL Matches For Delhi Capitals From 2015-2021

Shreyas Iyer has earned 35.8 Cr in IPL Salaries to date. His last drawn salary from Delhi Capitals was 7 Cr. Overall he has played 7 IPL Seasons so far & has managed to earn 35.8 Cr in total salary. In 87 matches during this period, Shreyas Iyer has scored 2375 Runs at a Strike Rate of 124 averaging 31.67, playing all seasons from 2015-2021 for Delhi Capitals.

Delhi Capitals
Delhi Capitals (Image Credit: Twitter)

Ever since Delhi Daredevils became Delhi Capitals, the performance of the team on the points table also changed. In the last three years, the Delhi Capitals have qualified for the playoffs on all three occasions and came out as runner-up during the 2020 season.

Rishabh Pant, Axar Patel, Prithvi Shaw, and Anrich Nortje are the 4 players that Delhi Capitals have retained for IPL 2022. Now, they have a purse of Rs. 47.50 crore which is available for the IPL 2022 auction. Apart from Shreyas Iyer, the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Avesh Khan, Kagiso Rabada, and Shimron Hetmyer were also released by the franchise.

Shubman Gill (Express photo: Jasbir Malhi)
Shubman Gill (Express photo: Jasbir Malhi)
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Shubman Gill Likely To Bat In Middle-order; Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara May Be Axed For Sri Lanka Tests

Shubman Gill will lend solidity to the Indian middle-order when a major reshuffle is expected to force struggling Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane out of the Test team. The reshuffle is likely to happen in the wake of India’s shock 1-2 defeat against an unfancied South Africa.

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.

Shubman Gill has scored 558 runs so far in 10 Tests averaging 32.82 in his Test career. Shubman Gill has played only 10 Tests and 3 ODIs but is touted as a future star in the making. Shubman Gill didn’t play any of the 4 Tests against hosts England. Shubman Gill was ruled out due to shin splints suffered during the World Test Championship final against New Zealand.

Shubman Gill Photo Credit: (BCCI)
Shubman Gill Photo Credit: (BCCI)

Shubman Gill May Play In Middle Order While There’s A Battle Between Shreyas Iyer And Hanuma Vihari To Take Up The Other Middle Order Slot For Sri Lanka Series

Shubman Gill has mostly played as an opener but it is expected that both team management and the selectors will pick him as a specialist middle-order batter. Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane’s exit from the national side is all but certain. They can only save their places if coach Rahul Dravid puts his foot down and asks the selection committee to give the out-of-form duo one last chance.

But if that happens, it is understandably going to cause a lot of heartburn to all the deserving youngsters, who might feel severely let-down for not getting the break at the right moment in their respective careers.

“I think both Pujara and Rahane will be dropped from the team for the Sri Lanka series. Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari will both play,” Sunil Gavaskar said while commentating on India-South Africa series.

“We’ll have to see who plays at number three. Hanuma Vihari may take Pujara’s place and Shreyas Iyer could be number five in place of Rahane, but we will have to see. Nevertheless, I think there will certainly be two spots up for grabs against Sri Lanka,” Gavaskar was also heard saying.

However, team management’s school of thought might just be divergent from the legendary former India opener. The duo of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara brings in the same type of defensive game into play during the past two years. The Indian team will need a free-flowing batter in that middle-order, who has the ability to take the game away in one session.

In terms of skills, technique, temperament, Shubman Gill is the solution to the problem. In fact, had KL Rahul not opted out of the New Zealand home series due to niggle and fatigue, Shubman Gill would have played in the middle-order. If Shubman Gill plays at number five, he can exploit the conditions when the ball becomes old and the attack is tired. Also, he has the range to take on the bowlers when the second new ball will be in operation.

Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer. (Photo Source: Getty Images and BCCI)
Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer. (Photo Source: Getty Images and BCCI)

The trickier choice is for the other middle-order slot where Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari will be locked in an intense battle. Both batsmen have been impressive — Shreyas Iyer in his short two-Test match career and Hanuma Vihari giving his all in every one of the 12 overseas Tests he has competed in his 13 Test match career.

Hanuma Vihari is a defensive player, who brings in technical solidity and a sense of calm which is a pre-requisite in Test cricket, especially as the conditions and flow of the game keep changing. It makes him a good choice for the number three spot as Cheteshwar Pujara’s replacement but if positive intent and x-factor are considered, Shreyas Iyer is certainly a far better choice.

However, the jury is still out on one aspect of  Shreyas Iyer’s batting which the selectors as well head coach Rahul Dravid will be keenly assessing — the Mumbaikar’s ability to handle short balls.

Ajinkya Rahane And Cheteshwar Pujara Needs To Go Back To The Drawing Board And Rectify Their Defects

Ajinkya Rahane, who lost his vice-captaincy before the South Africa tour, scored 136 runs while Cheteshwar Pujara managed 124 runs. Both Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara are 33 years old and perhaps need to go back to the drawing board and revisit what they have been doing wrong.

The problem with professional cricketers is that if a technical flaw crops up in midst of a series, rectifying it is tough and they just work their way around that flaw.

It’s a kind of temporary option but with no dedicated off-seasons like what players of yesteryears enjoyed, probably a break from the national team will give them enough time to work on their flaws and come back stronger.

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

It would have been great had the Ranji Trophy 2022 not been put on hold once again as it would have given them quality match practice and the ability to correct mistakes in live game situations which is always the best option.

If not, they might play for English county but to be fair, county stint during the earlier phase wasn’t of great help to either of them. Therefore, it doesn’t look too bright for the duo as some serious talent is waiting in the wings.

While some changes are expected in the batting line-up, the bowling line-up might also have a few changes as Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel will be back if fit. The two Test matches against Sri Lanka will be played in Bengaluru and Mohali from February 25 and March 2, respectively. The two teams will also square off in 3 T20Is.

Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane Image Source : GETTY IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane Image Source : GETTY IMAGE

Both Cheteshwar Pujara And Ajinkya Rahane Will be Dropped For The Next Test Series – Sunil Gavaskar

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar believes that India should move on from Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane as the duo had struggled in the series against South Africa as the hosts beat India by 2-1 in 3 match series.

India’s next assignment in Test cricket will be a 2-match series in February-March at home. Gavaskar said that India would be looking to replace the experienced duo in the upcoming series. Gavaskar also suggested the replacements as he felt that Iyer would be an automatic choice as the Mumbai batter scored a Test century on his test debut at Kanpur against New Zealand in November last year.

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

Rahane scored 136 runs in this series against South Africa while Pujara added only 124 runs

“I think that not just Ajinkya Rahane (will be out of the team). Shreyas Iyer got an opportunity in the Test series against New Zealand and he scored a well-crafted century. He scored decent runs throughout the series, so I believe there will be two vacant places in the XI,” Sunil Gavaskar said on air during the third day in the Cape Town Test.

Gavaskar also suggested a replacement for Pujara as well. The legendary batter feels that Hanuma Vihari should get a go at no.3. Notable that he played the Johannesburg Test as Virat Kohli missed out on the second Test due to an upper back spasm. Vihari scored a composed 40 in the second innings as he was left stranded.

Shreyas Iyer at the Green Park Stadium Photo: BCCI
Shreyas Iyer at the Green Park Stadium Photo: BCCI

“I think both Pujara and Rahane will be dropped from the team for the Sri Lanka series. Iyer and Vihari will both play. We’ll have to see who plays at no.3. Hanuma Vihari may take Pujara’s place and Shreyas Iyer could be no.5 in place of Rahane, but we will have to see. Nevertheless, I think there will certainly be two spots up for grabs against Sri Lanka,” he added.

Rahane scored 136 runs in 6 innings in this series while Pujara added only 124 runs in the same no. of innings. Pujara hasn’t scored a Test hundred since January 2019. In fact, the duo’s numbers are very poor in the last year or so. Since January 2021, Rahane scored 547 runs in 27 innings with an average of 20.25 which included only 3 fifties. Pujara scored 810 runs in 30 innings with an average of 27.93 which included 7 fifties.

The first test between India and Sri Lanka will be played from February 25 in Bengaluru which will be Virat Kohli’s 100th Test match.

Also, read Virat Kohli Expressed Himself On The Microphone And Was Criticised By Aakash Chopra As “Kids Are Watching The Game”

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.

Rahul Dravid
Rahul Dravid - K. MURALI KUMAR
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Rahul Dravid Explains Reason Behind Hanuma Vihari And Shreyas Iyer Wait To Bag Regular Test Spots

Rahul Dravid has explained why rising star Shreyas Iyer and middle-order batsman Hanuma Vihari will have to wait for receiving regular chances in the longest format of the game. Indian batters Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer are waiting in the wings at a time when senior batters Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara have embraced a rough patch in the second edition of the ICC World Test Championship.

The duo was in the fray to feature in the Indian playing XI against South Africa after skipper Virat Kohli was ruled out of the 2nd Test against hosts South Africa. While Shreyas Iyer missed out due to a stomach bug, all-rounder Hanuma Vihari made his return to the Test side in the penultimate clash of the three-match series between India and South Africa at the Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg.

Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer. (Photo Source: Getty Images and BCCI)
Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer. (Photo Source: Getty Images and BCCI)

Rahul Dravid Praises Hanuma Vihari And Shreyas Iyer

Making a case for himself in the 2nd Test match against the Proteas, Hanuma Vihari played a solid knock of 40 although his unbeaten knock went in vain as the Dean Elgar-led side defeated India in the low-scoring contest. Speaking at a press conference after India’s defeat at the hands of South Africa in the 2nd Test, head coach Rahul Dravid congratulated Hanuma Vihari for leading the fightback for the hosts in the second innings.

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

The Indian head coach then lauded Shreyas Iyer, who is yet to play for India in the ongoing three-match Test series. Shreyas Iyer had earlier made an impressive Test debut for India by slamming a century and a gritty half-century in the bilateral series against New Zealand.

“Shreyas (Iyer) obviously done that two or three Test matches ago and he has obviously done that and they have just got to take heart from the fact that whenever they are getting opportunities, they are doing well and hopefully their time would come,” Dravid said. 

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 them.

Hanuma Vihari did his bit in the second innings with an unbeaten 40 in setting India’s target of 240 for the Proteas and Rahul Dravid praised him although if Virat Kohli comes back, it could mean that Hanuma Vihari could return to the bench. Making his Test debut in 2018, Hanuma Vihari has played 13 matches in the format, 12 overseas, and scored 684 runs at an average of 34.2 with one hundred and four fifties.

Rahul Dravid: New Indian Batsmen Have To Wait For Their Time To Cement Spots In Test Squad

Citing examples of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Ajinkya Rahane, coach Rahul Dravid opined that the younger crop of the Indian Test side will have to wait for regular chances till seniors are around.

“If you look at some of our guys now senior players and being sort of considered senior players, they have also had to wait for their time and also have had to score a lot of runs at the start of their careers,” Dravid said.  

Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo: Twitter)
Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo: Twitter)

After South Africa registered their first Test win over India at the Wanderers Stadium, Team India will play the series decider on Tuesday. The third and final Test played will be played at Newlands, Cape Town.

“So it happens (wait) as its nature of the sport. We can take a lot of heart from the manner Vihari batted in this game and that should give him a lot of confidence,” he added.

Indian head coach Rahul Dravid has explained why Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer will have to wait for regular chances in Test cricket amid the South Africa series as their more experienced competitors had also waited for their turn to cement places in the Indian Test squad.

Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer. (Photo Source: Getty Images and BCCI)
Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer. (Photo Source: Getty Images and BCCI)
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Rahul Dravid Hints Hanuma Vihari And Shreyas Iyer Will Have To Wait To Become Regulars As Senior Batsmen Will Be Preferred

Rahul Dravid never believed in “rocking the boat” and is certainly not going to change his template of giving the longest rope possible to veteran experienced middle-order batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane even if Hanuma Vihari’s wait for regular chances gets a tad longer.

Hanuma Vihari, Indian cricket’s ‘Tough Runs Man’ has never had it easy in terms of chances as he has played only one of his 13 Tests at home and it was skipper Virat Kohli’s back spasms and Shreyas Iyer’s stomach bug that opened the door for another chance.

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

Rahul Dravid Crediting Hanuma Vihari For Playing Well In Both Innings

The Hyderabad man did his bit in the second innings with an unbeaten 40 in India’s target of 240 for the Proteas and Rahul Dravid praised him although if Virat Kohli comes back, it could mean that Hanuma Vihari could return to the bench.

“Firstly I must say Vihari played really in both innings. In first innings he got a nasty one and unfortunately for him, it popped up and fielder just got his finger tips to it and really got a good catch, he batted beautifully in the second innings and that gives us confidence you know,” Rahul Dravid was effusive in his praise for Hanuma Vihari.

He also took the opportunity to praise Shreyas Iyer who scored a ton on his debut against New Zealand in 2021 and is another strong middle-order contender.

“Shreyas (Iyer) obviously done that two or three Test matches ago and he has obviously done that and they have just got to take heart from the fact that whenever they are getting opportunities, they are doing well and hopefully their time would come.”

But that doesn’t mean that he will be preferred over and above Ajinkya Rahane or a Cheteshwar Pujara in this set-up with Virat Kohli set to comeback in the next game, as Rahul Dravid made it pretty clear.

In fact, without naming, he cited examples during his playing days when the middle-order was jam-packed and guys like experienced Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Ajinkya Rahane had to wait for a year or two before being Test team regulars.

“If you look at some of our guys now senior players and being sort of considered, senior players, they have also had to wait for their time and also have had to score a lot of runs at the start of their careers,” said Rahul Dravid.

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

Rahul Dravid does have a transition and phase-out plan but like everything has its own opportune time, this will also have to wait.

“So it happens (wait) as its nature of the sport,” Rahul Dravid said adding, “We can take a lot of heart from the manner Vihari batted in this game and that should give him a lot of confidence and that should give us a lot of confidence.”

Making his Test debut in 2018, Hanuma Vihari has played 13 matches in the format, 12 overseas, and scored 684 runs at an average of 34.2 with one hundred and four fifties.

Rahul Dravid: Mohammed Siraj Is Not Fully Fit And Defended Starting 4th Day’s Proceeding With Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin

Rahul Dravid confirmed that fast bowler Mohammed Siraj hasn’t recovered from the hamstring injury sustained during the second Test and it can’t be said with certainty that he will be available for the final game starting in Cape Town from January 11.

“Siraj is not fully fit and we need to check going forward what is his fitness status. In the next 4 days, whether he can get fit and physio will be doing scans. As far as Hanuma Vihari’s on-field hit is concerned, I am not in a position to tell the extent of injury as I haven’t had a detailed chat with the physio.”

Mohammed Siraj’s injury did pose a problem while defending a modest kind of target of 240. After bowling 9.5 overs in the first innings, Mohammed Siraj who bowled with a hamstring injury finished with figures of 6-0-37-0 in the second and bowled at an economy of 6.16.

“Losing Siraj (was a factor) as he wasn’t 100 percent in the first innings,” said Rahul Dravid while lauding the fast bowler’s heart to even bowl when he was injured.

“We had the fifth bowler and we couldn’t use him as much as we would have liked in that first innings and it did affect our strategy.”

Mohammed Siraj, Ravichandran Ashwin
Mohammed Siraj, Ravichandran Ashwin

Starting the fourth afternoon’s proceedings with Ravichandran Ashwin did draw a lot of flak but the head coach defended the decision.

“I guess we saw the ball spinning on the third day for Ashwin and we wanted to get him into action till the ball was dry and see if he gets some spin in the first few overs. As ball got wet (due to wet outfield), it was difficult for a spinner to get into the game. He (Ashwin) bowled a really good spell on the third day. The gamble was to try and give him the dry ball,” the coach explained.

Rahul Dravid, who had already spoken about how batters should seize key moments, didn’t agree that not having a practice match could be an excuse.

“We prepared as well as we could in these Covid situations and fact that we didn’t have a three-day game, …really dont have excuses apart from fact that we played well in first Test and SA outplayed us in this game.”

Shardul Thakur’s terrific spell (7/61) in the first innings brought India back in the game but as of now, he holds an unwanted record. 7/61 is the best figure in losing cause for any visiting bowler in South Africa. South Africa’s 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.

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.

BCCI (File Photo| PTI)
BCCI (File Photo| PTI)
//

BCCI Silent On CVC Capitals As Their Lawyers Engaged On Finding Right Terms For Agreement

BCCI has been consistently and steadfastly maintaining silence on CVC Capitals after the American company’s acquisition of an Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise. The lawyers of the two parties are engaged in finding suitable and lawful terminology for the agreement to be signed for the Ahmedabad team of the extravagant league.

The protracted delay is only because of the efforts from the legal luminaries to find the right wordings for the fine print of the agreement. The broad consensus is understood to have been reached already. Despite the fact that there is an acknowledgement from all concerned that the issue is taking too much time but it is believed that the delay cannot be avoided.

IPL Trophy. (BCCI/IPL Photo)
IPL Trophy. (BCCI/IPL Photo)

BCCI Hoping To Stick To February Mega Auctions Dates For IPL 2022 But It May Be Extended By 1 Week Or 10 Days

An obvious fallout of this delay is the potential impact on the IPL 15 timeline and the board is believed to be preparing for this, even if it means postponement of the mega auction.  The new teams – Lucknow and Ahmedabad – are expected to be given at least 15 days once the CVC issue is resolved for signing its players and that could have a rub-on effect on other IPL activities.

BCCI is hoping to stick to the February 12-13 auctions dates as of now, but if need be, it may put it off by a week or 10 days. The final auction dates will be announced once the agreement with CVC Capitals is signed which the board officials are saying will be sooner than later.

Like the original eight teams, even the new franchises will have an auction purse of ₹90 crores going into the auction. Out of which they will be able to spend up to ₹33 crores on the player draft. They are allowed to sign three players with a price bracket of ₹15 crores, ₹11 crores, and ₹7 crores respectively.

CVC Capital
CVC Capital: Getty Images.
CVC Capital, an investment firm, is all set to get the green signal from BCCI ahead of IPL 2022. It is notable that the company’s links to online betting and gambling companies became the big hurdle to their participation in IPL. Earlier the firm bought the rights for Ahmedabad based team after a successful bid of Rs 5625 crores while the other new addition- Lucknow based franchise is owned by Sanjiv Goenka group with the price tag of Rs 7090 crores.

BCCI May Utilize Only Mumbai As An IPL 2022 Centre For Covid-19 Cases Rising

Simultaneously, the board is also preparing a Plan B for the league. With the growing number of Covid-19 cases in the country, there may be a possibility that the BCCI will utilise only Mumbai as an IPL centre. At this stage, two options are on the table – 10 centres or just three centres (the Wankhede, CCI and DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai). Going back to UAE has not yet been thought of by the Board officials as yet.

With the country seeing a rapid increase in the number of Omicron cases lately, the BCCI is understandably concerned about the Covid-driven health hazards nationwide in April or May, when the IPL is scheduled.

BCCI Image-Twitter/ BCCI
BCCI Image-Twitter/ BCCI

However, the option of advancing the starting date by week — from April 2 to March 25 – is also being considered, the purpose of it being to have fewer double-headers and day games.

Meanwhile, BCCI extended the deadline for the two new franchises to sign three players before the Mega Auction. Earlier the deadline for the same was December 25. Also, the BCCI officials confirmed that the Mega Auction for IPL 2022 will be held on February 12 and 13 at Bengaluru.

It’s notable that this time IPL will be a 10-team affair. BCCI also asked various boards to submit the list of the players who will go under the hammer. Soon the IPL governing council will have a meeting with the IPL franchises to discuss the plans for IPL 2022.

Gautam Gambhir was appointed as the mentor of the Lucknow franchise for IPL 2022. Andy Flower has been picked as the head coach. According to reports, the franchise has approached Gary Kirsten to be the consultant of the team for the 2022 season. The franchise is also looking to pick KL Rahul or Shreyas Iyer as the skipper of the team.

The Ahmedabad franchise is interested to pick Ravi Shastri as the head coach of the team for IPL 2022. Moreover, Bharat Arun and R Sridhar are reported to join the Ahmedabad franchise as bowling and fielding coaches respectively for IPL 2022 season. Like the Lucknow team, the franchise might also target KL Rahul or Shreyas Iyer for the skipper’s role.

Cheteshwar Pujara- DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP
Cheteshwar Pujara- DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP
//

Aakash Chopra Points Out An Uncanny Pattern In Cheteshwar Pujara’s Recent Dismissals In Tests After He Scored 3(33) In 2nd Test Vs SA

Aakash Chopra pointed out an uncanny pattern in Cheteshwar Pujara’s recent dismissals. Despite India’s stunning victory in the series opener at Centurion, the batting unit struggles with the bat have continued in the series with pressure building on both Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara.

Although Ajinkya Rahane was impressive in the first innings at the SuperSport park (1st Test) with a knock of 48, Cheteshwar Pujara has had three very disappointing outings on the tour so far. In the first game, Cheteshwar Pujara made a golden duck in the first innings and was dismissed for just 16 in the second innings. His struggles continued on Monday as he made just three runs on the first day of the second Test match in Johannesburg.

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

Aakash Chopra: Two Things-Intent To Score Runs And Lunging Forward Are Plaguing Cheteshwar Pujara

With another failure, his spot in the team is set to come under scrutiny with the likes of Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer waiting a chance. Former Indian opener Aakash Chopra has pointed out two reasons for Cheteshwar Pujara’s poor form in recent times.

Aakash Chopra said, “Pujara has got a lot of patience and ability to defend as well. But two things are plaguing him. First is his intent to score runs. He is not even hitting the half volley with full might and we can an uncanny pattern in his dismissals.

Aakash Chopra said, “He had nicked Ngidi’s delivery in the first innings of the Centurion Test. If we look at his hands and the height of the delivery, why is he even trying to play off the front foot instead of using the depth of the crease.”

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra added, “If you are always lunging forward with low hands, bowlers are going to enjoy bowling against you on South African pitches. Extra bounce, low hands, lunging forward… that’s a recipe for disaster.” 

Since the start of 2021, Cheteshwar Pujara has only made 705 runs in 15 matches at a below-par average of 27.11. He has not scored a century in Test cricket for three years with his last three-figure score coming against Australia at Sydney in January 2019.

On the first morning of the second test, Duanne Olivier sent both of them on consecutive deliveries as Cheteshwar Pujara scored a struggling 33-ball 3 runs while Ajinkya Rahane got out on a first-ball duck against the same bowler.

Marco Jansen (4/31), Kagiso Rabada (3/64), and Duanne Olivier (3/64) were outstanding as they picked up wickets at regular intervals to not allow the tourists to get into any rhythm. India’s stand-in captain KL Rahul top-scored with a knock of 50, but it was Ravichandran Ashwin’s attacking 46 that helped India to 202, before being bowled out.

Shardul Thakur Picks 3 Wicket Haul On Day 2 Of The 2nd Test

India had a 1st day to forget as they were bowled out for 202 after winning the toss and batting first. With a knock of 50, KL Rahul was the top scorer while Ravichandran Ashwin made 46 important runs.

Shardul Thakur Photo: AFP.
Shardul Thakur Photo: AFP.

Shardul Thakur eventually got the wicket of South African skipper, Dean Elgar. After his wicket, the pair of Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen was tasted with some quality seam bowling and Shardul Thakur again got into the act with the wickets of Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen.

His figures read 3/8 after 4.5 overs. His effort saw South Africa reduced to 102/4 at Lunch. Temba Bavuma walked out alongside Kyle Verreynne after Lunch.

Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane
//

Team Management Still Backing Ajinkya Rahane But His Place Needs To Be Discussed: Sanjay Manjrekar

Sanjay Manjrekar on Sunday pointed out a key problem behind the Indian team management’s continuous backing for Ajinkya Rahane despite the veteran cricketer being out of form over the last few years. Sanjay Manjrekar feels that the longer the team management supports Ajinkya Rahane in getting back to scoring ways, the fewer opportunities it offers to back-up middle-order options in Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer.

In his last 19 Tests, which dates back to November 2019, Ajinkya Rahane has averaged only 27.75, scoring 888 runs in 33 innings with just one century, that magnificent 112 in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne against Australia in December 2020. The streak also includes four half-centuries.

Sanjay Manjrekar | Sportzpics
Sanjay Manjrekar | Sportzpics

Sanjay Manjrekar: Team Management Backing Ajinkya Rahane As His Place Needs To Be Discussed

Ajinkya Rahane’s place in the playing XI for the first Test against South Africa remained uncertain amid an impressive debut by Shreyas Iyer in the home Test against New Zealand last November where he scored 105 and 65 to help India win after a top-order failure, and a string of three gritty half-century scores from Hanuma Vihari for India A in South Africa, around the same time, that helped the visitors draw the series.

However, the team management backed the veteran batsman who scored 48 off 130 in the first innings of the Centurion Test but managed only 20 of 33 in the second innings. Sanjay Manjrekar, ahead of the second Test in Johannesburg, opined that India should consider Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer.

Shreyas Iyer at the Green Park Stadium Photo: BCCI
Shreyas Iyer at the Green Park Stadium Photo: BCCI

“The team management is backing Rahane. India has won the first Test, and Rahane scored 48 runs in the first innings as well. So he might get another shot. But they should also think about Vihari and Shreyas Iyer. The more chances Rahane gets, the fewer chances the other guys will have. So this needs to be discussed,” he said.

Senior India cricketers Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara failed to fire yet again in the ongoing second Test against South Africa on Day 1 in Johannesburg. South Africa’s comeback man Duane Olivier pegged India back before lunch, removing Cheteshwar Pujara (3) and Ajinkya Rahane (0) in successive deliveries.

Sanjay Manjrekar: There’ll Be Pressure On Middle Order Batsman Ajinkya Rahane To Keep His Place In The Side

Sanjay Manjrekar further said that while he acknowledges the lean patch that captain Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara have incurred, he feels that Ajinkya Rahane’s poor run of form has been for some time now and that he will be under pressure when he walks out to bat at the Wanderers.

Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo Source: Getty Images)
Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

“Pujara and Kohli’s form is understandable and they will get opportunities. But Rahane’s poor form has been going on for some time now. So there’ll be pressure on Rahane to keep his place in the side,” he added.

India, with a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series, will be aiming to script a historic Test series win in Johannesburg. They had defeated the hosts by 113 runs to register their maiden win at the SuperSport park last week.

Both players have been woefully out of form with the bat in Tests over the last two years, with Cheteshwar Pujara averaging 20.37 and 30.42, while Ajinkya Rahane has managed 38.85 and 19.57 in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Ajinkya Rahane has scored just 1 hundred since October 2019 and his career average fell below 40 after the repeated failures, while Cheteshwar Pujara hasn’t hit a century since January 2019.

In the 2nd Test, India is struggling at 90/3 with KL Rahul (37*) and Hanuma Vihari (20*) unbeaten at the crease. India’s skipper Virat Kohli was however ruled out of the 2nd Test for back spasms and Hanuma Vihari replaced him. KL Rahul, stand-in vice-captain is leading India for the 1st time.

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