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Usman Khawaja of Australia celebrates scoring his century during game five of the One Day International series between India and Australia at Feroz Shah Kotla Ground on March 13, 2019 in Delhi, India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Usman Khawaja of Australia celebrates scoring his century during game five of the One Day International series between India and Australia at Feroz Shah Kotla Ground on March 13, 2019 in Delhi, India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
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Usman Khawaja Revealed Facing Racism During Early Days As A Cricketer

Usman Khawaja revealed that many told him that he would never make it at the top because of his skin colour, as he revealed having faced racism during his early days as a cricketer.

Usman Khawaja became the first Muslim cricketer to play for Australia at the highest level when he made his Test debut in the 2011 Ashes. His achievements inspired several others like him to take up the sport as a profession but the batsman’s journey to the top wasn’t the easiest.

Usman Khawaja .© AFP
Usman Khawaja .© AFP

Usman Khawaja Revealed The Ordeal He Went During Early Days

Usman Khawaja, who came to Australia from Pakistan in the 1990s, did face racism during his early days and was even told that he would never make it to the national team. In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, he revealed the ordeal he went through during those days.

“When I was younger in Australia, the amount of time I got told I was never going to play for Australia, I’m not the right skin colour was immense. I’d get told I don’t fit the team, and they wouldn’t pick me. That was the mentality, but now it’s starting to shift.”, he said.

Usman Khawaja. CREDIT:AAP
Usman Khawaja. CREDIT:AAP

Australia has a decent population of people from the sub-continent. Seeing Usman Khawaja rise through the ranks, many came up to him and praised him for taking the path despite it being a route of extreme resistance.

“When I started being more involved in cricket, people with subcontinent heritage in Australia came up to me and said, “we’re so happy to see you at the top. Seeing someone like you, we feel we’ve got a part in the Australian team, and we support the Australian team. We didn’t do it before, and we do it now,” said Khawaja.

Born in Pakistan, Usman Khawaja moved with his family to Australia when he was a young boy, and in the 2011 Sydney Ashes Test became the first Muslim to play for Australia.

A classy left-hander in the languid style of David Gower, Usman Khawaja won further Test opportunities from 2011 to 2013 but never quite kicked on beyond his regularly appealing starts. Dropped during the 2013 Ashes, he earned another recall in 2015 for the home series against New Zealand following the retirements of Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers.

Usman Khawaja Initially Didn’t Support Australia But Has Played 44 Tests, 40 ODIs And 9 T20Is For Australia

The Islamabad-born even admitted that he didn’t support Australia (in cricket) in the beginning as he didn’t quite connect with the team then. It took him time to adapt before he could leave his background behind and be what he is at present.

“And that kept happening over and over and over again. The more that happened, I realised my background does matter, and it does make a difference. And then I realised from my childhood it probably took me a while to support Australia. I didn’t really support Australia when I first went [from Pakistan] because I didn’t really get it,” he added.

Usman Khawaja - R. V. MOORTHY
Usman Khawaja – R. V. MOORTHY

Usman Khwaja had since played 44 Test, 40 ODI and 9 T20I matches for Australia. The 34-year-old left-hander may be recalled to the Australian team. Usman Khawaja, who has scored 2877 runs in 44 Tests at an average of 40.66, has not played for Australia since August 2019. His last T20I came in 2016 and his last ODI was in July 2019 during World Cup.

But Usman Khawaja’s subcontinent demons were finally put to rest in the UAE in 2018 when he made an epic match-saving century against Pakistan in Dubai. He became Australia’s most senior batsman while Steve Smith and David Warner were banned following the ball-tampering scandal and settled himself in the ODI team with two outstanding tours of India and the UAE in 2019, making his first two ODI centuries to ensure selection in the 2019 World Cup squad.

Cameron Bancroft was banned for nine months for his role in the ball-tampering affair Gallo Images/Getty Images
Cameron Bancroft was banned for nine months for his role in the ball-tampering affair Gallo Images/Getty Images
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I Carried Out An Act That Completely Compromised My Values – Cameron Bancroft On 2018 Ball Tampering Saga

Cameron Bancroft, Australia cricketer has reportedly hinted that there may have been “an awareness” about the ball-tampering incident among Australian bowlers.

Cameron Bancroft, who was caught on camera rubbing the ball with sandpaper before shoving it in his pants during the 2018 Test against South Africa in Cape Town, was handed a nine-month ban for his role in the scandal that rocked Cricket Australia.

Cameron Bancroft photographed at the Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street.
Cameron Bancroft photographed at the Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street. Photograph: Richard Saker/The Guardian

Cameron Bancroft Learnt From Ball Tempering Mistake And Should Have Made A Much Better Decision If He Had Better Awareness

But during an interview with The Guardian, Cameron Bancroft was asked if any of the bowlers knew about it. In his response, the Australian batsman said that he is responsible for his own actions, but added that there probably was an “awareness” about it.

The CA found captain Steven Smith and vice-captain David Warner also involved in the scandal and both the cricketers were also handed a 12-month ban for their roles.

“Yeah, look, all I wanted to do was to be responsible and accountable for my own actions and part. Yeah, obviously what I did benefits bowlers, and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.

David Warner and Steve Smith, Reuters
David Warner and Steven Smith, Reuters

“I guess one thing I learnt through the journey and being responsible is that’s where the buck stops [with Bancroft himself]. Had I had better awareness I would have made a much better decision,” he added.

When asked again in clear terms, “So some of the bowlers did know?”, Bancroft, as per the report, hesistantly replied: “Uh … yeah, look, I think, yeah, I think it’s pretty probably self-explanatory.”

Steven Smith and David Warner returned to the national team’s fold just before the 2019 ODI World Cup, while Cameron Bancroft has since struggled to break back in.

Three years since the Cape Town Test, Cameron Bancroft, while not having taken any names, has seemingly admitted that Australia’s bowling attack consisting of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, and Mitchell Marsh knew he was scuffing the ball up with sandpaper.

Cameron Bancroft Disappointed With His Actions For Letting Australia Down

Speaking further on the incident, Cameron Bancroft said that he was disappointed about his actions, but has learned from his mistakes.

“In purely cricketing terms it makes me feel a little shit. I was just settling and then, of course, it was lost.

“I was obviously disappointed because I’d let the team down and carried out an act that completely compromised my values. But it came down for me just when I was really improving at that level. It felt like I’d thrown a lot away.

“I hadn’t got a Test 100 yet but I felt I was on my way to achieving that, so I was extremely disappointed to give that up. But that’s how important that part of my life was then. I’ve come to learn that it is important but it doesn’t dictate my life in the same way,” he added.

“That’s something I don’t think I even understood until that mistake happened. But it’s part of the journey and a hard lesson I needed to learn,” Bancroft further said.
Steven Smith (Image Credit: Twitter)
Steven Smith (Image Credit: Twitter)

“Yes. It doesn’t condone, whatsoever, the mistake I made but in terms of all I’ve learned about myself and life, I’m almost grateful for the mistake in a way. It’s been an interesting journey and I wouldn’t change it for the world. It changed me and I’ve become the person I am today.

“It’s also taught me to deal with the anxiety and disappointment that comes with cricket and everyday life. There are always going to be challenges. It’s how you’re able to stay as balanced as possible when that happens,” he signed off.

The trio of Cameron Bancroft, Steven Smith, and David Warner were banned for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal. While Cameron Bancroft was handed a nine-month ban, then skipper Steven Smith and his deputy David Warner were suspended for a year each.

Cricket Australia also slapped David Warner, who was declared the plotter-in-chief, with a lifetime leadership ban while Steven Smith was banned from leading Australia for two years. Head coach Darren Lehmann also resigned in the aftermath of the scandal.

Mitchell Johnson Reveals Cricket Helped In Hiding His Depression
Mitchell Johnson. Image Credit: IPL.
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Mitchell Johnson Terms It’s Ridiculous To Sack Tim Paine

Mitchell Johnson has backed skipper Tim Paine to continue as Australia’s captain, and believes that calls for him to be dropped are “ridiculous.” Tim Paine’s future has been the topic of hot debate over the past 24 hours after Australia lost the Border-Gavaskar Trophy by a 2-1 margin as India breached the Gabba fortress.

Despite winning the first Test of the four-match series, Australia under Tim Paine failed to register another victory as an injury-ravaged Indian team scripted a memorable series triumph Down Under.

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

Mitchell Johnson : Ridiculous To Sack Tim Paine As Skipper

Tim Paine took charge of the Australian Test team following the 2018 sandpaper scandal in South Africa which saw Steve Smith and David Warner banned for 1 year and sacked as skipper. He has since led his country to 11 wins, four draws and eight defeats.

The 36-year-old helped Australia retain the Ashes in 2019, but the recently-concluded series against India has certainly hampered his prospect to continue. With the Ashes coming up later this year, the Aussies will look to ensure that they do not suffer another series defeat to arch rival England.

“It’s ridiculous. The comments that come out about that stuff is just nit-picking, and we’re seeing a lot of that these days,” Mitchell Johnson said while appearing on The Fast and the Curious Podcast.

David Warner and Steven Smith.
David Warner and Steven Smith. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Tim Paine was heavily criticised for his conduct in the Sydney Test Cricket legends such as Michael Vaughan, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne have also criticized Tim Paine over the last few days. They were especially critical of the Australian skipper’s sledging and on-field behaviour in the third Test at Sydney.

During the final day’s play in the 3rd Test at Sydney, he had a verbal war with Ravichandran Ashwin and resorted to abuses. Tim Paine, thereafter, apologized admitting that he got a bit carried away in the heat of the moment.

Tim Paine Expected To Lead Against South Africa And Afghanistan

But Mitchell Johnson has warned that such over the top criticism could result in players denying media access.

“It’s a sport and there’s competitiveness, we’ve got to understand there’s a thousand cameras on these players, there’s stump mics that are turned up. If we don’t want to see or hear that stuff then take away the cameras, so we only have a couple cameras, take the stump mics out and you won’t hear anything. Simple.”

Mitchell Johnson
Mitchell Johnson -Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Tim Paine is expected to lead Australia in the upcoming tour of South Africa. But with no other Test series scheduled up until the Ashes (except perhaps a one-off Test against Afghanistan), failure to win against the Proteas may well tempt the selectors into dropping the wicket-keeper-batsman.

Tim Paine Aaron Finch
Tim Paine says he has no idea about his future in the white-ball cricket. Image Courtesy: Getty Images
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David Lloyd Criticises Tim Paine For Crossing The Line In 3rd Test

David Lloyd, former England cricketer-turned-commentator has slammed Australian Test skipper Tim Paine for his needless sledging against the Indian batsman on last Day 5 of the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

Tim Paine was continuously involved in a verbal banter with the opposition batsmen, especially Ravichandran Ashwin, and passed some derogatory comments which didn’t go down well with David Lloyd.

David Lloyd.
David Lloyd. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

David Lloyd : Tim Paine Has To Set An Example

David Lloyd while writing in his column for The Daily Mail explained how Tim Paine is not setting the right example as Australia’s Test captain through such unacceptable behaviour for which the commentator has lost all respect.

“It’s up to Paine now to control his players, but first he has to set an example. Put it like this: if someone had talked to me like he did to Ravichandran Ashwin, I’d have lost all respect for them,” David Lloyd wrote.

Tim Paine
Tim Paine (Image Credit: Getty Images)

David Lloyd believes that although teams want to be competitive against each other in Test arena, there is a certain line or limit that should not be crossed. He reckons Ravichandran Ashwin will be unwilling to behave in a friendly manner off the field with Australian skipper Tim Paine among other Australians after their antics on Day 5 of the Sydney Test.

David Lloyd: Australia Just Don’t Seem To Learn Even After The Sandpaper Incident In 2018

Australian cricket had been in a turmoil and gone through probably their darkest period after the likes of Steve Smith and David Warner were banned for 12 months each, following their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal which is more infamously known as ‘sandpapergate scandal’ for use of sandpaper in 2018 to rough up one side to enable its a swing in flight.

Thus, David Lloyd finds it baffling to understand how the Australians haven’t taken a lesson and continue to remain arrogant in their behaviour, despite having learnt a hard lesson three years ago which saw Tim Paine himself getting the captaincy role.

“How can Ashwin want to share a drink with the Australians after Paine was trash-talking him the way he did? You’d have thought the Australians would watch their Ps and Qs after that farce with the sandpaper. But they just don’t seem to learn. What on earth is wrong with them?” David Lloyd wrote.

David Warner and Steven Smith.
David Warner and Steven Smith. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Although Tim Paine tried his level best to disrupt the concentration of the Indian batsmen, it worked against him as he dropped three catches behind stumps, including one of Hanuma Vihari late on Day 5. Team India managed to save the SCG Test and keep the series levelled at 1-1.

While this draw will boost the morale of the visitors who are already depleted after losing key players to injuries, the Aussies will rue the dropped chances which stopped them from winning at the SCG.

However, they may take heart from the fact that the venue for the final Test at Brisbane is a fortress for them, having not lost there since 1988. The fourth and final Test will be played at the Gabba in Brisbane from January 15 and India will have to reshuffle the team following a spate of injuries.

Kuldeep Yadav, India vs Australia 2019, Unwanted Record
Kuldeep Yadav (Image Credit: Getty Images)
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Kuldeep Yadav Reckons India Can Repeat 2018-19 Success In Australia

Kuldeep Yadav feels that India can repeat their success in Tests like their performance in 2018-19 if pacers and batsmen show the same intent as they did last time around.

India won their first test series Down Under in 2018-19 as Kuldeep Yadav says team’s performance matters most rather the strength of opposition.

Kuldeep Yadav
Kuldeep Yadav. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Kuldeep Yadav: Own Team’s Performance Matters The Most

Kuldeep Yadav feels it’s more sensible to talk about team’s strengths rather than depending upon opposition’s weakness as he feels that given their strong pace attack and if batsmen perform excellent performances like last time around, India will win the test series too.

“You need to win Test matches to win a series. We won two of them and could have one the fourth one too had there been no rain. Whenever you are playing against a team, your own team’s performance matters the most. So instead of looking at the other team – who they have in their squad, and who they don’t – it makes more sense to talk about your own team. If our fast bowling works well and we perform as prolifically with the bat as we did the last time, we will win this time too,” the leg-spinner told Kolkata Knight Riders’ official website.

David Warner and Steven Smith.
David Warner and Steven Smith. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Australia, however, were missing their two prolific batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner in 2018-19 as they were serving a year-long ban for ball-tampering allegations.

“Yes, their team has now improved with the return of the experienced David Warner, Steve Smith and the likes of Marnus (Labuschagne), who has really done well for them in recent times. But last time too, their team was good but we played really some really good cricket to win. Looking forward to the challenge once again, it’s going to be a great contest,” Kuldeep Yadav said.

The duo’s return along with Marnus Labuschagne’s recent form in tests augurs well for Australia as Kuldeep Yadav predicts a closely fought contest. David Warner though will miss 1st test due to injury.

Kuldeep Yadav: Difficult To Read Spinners At Night Can Be An Advantage

Kuldeep Yadav feels that spinners will play an important part in the day-night test as it is difficult to read the ball under lights. It will be a toss-up between him and Ravichandran Ashwin for spinner’s spot in playing XI.

“I feel it’s difficult to read spinners at night because if a spinner uses variations it’s not always easy to spot the seam position of the ball. That can be an advantage for us. I have never experienced a pink ball match outside India. So, it will be exciting to see how it goes.

“It’ll be unfair to say spinners haven’t dominated in Australian conditions, there have been many instances when spinners have done well down under. It completely depends on how quickly you adapt to, and read the conditions. Wickets don’t come easy in Test cricket, so patience is the key,” the spinner added.

The first day-night Test of the four-match series, beginning on December 17 will be played at the Adelaide Oval. Australia have the best-record in day-night Tests as the side has not lost a single match and won all 7 that has been played with the pink ball.

Virat Kohli will be playing just the first Test against Australia as he will return home after being granted paternity leave by BCCI to attend the birth of 1st child.

Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma is also all set to join the squad for last two tests after clearing the fitness test at the National Cricket Academy (NCA). He was rehabilitating at NCA since November 19 following a hamstring injury he suffered during the Indian Premier League (IPL)2020.

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. Image Credit: Getty Images.

“The NCA medical team was satisfied with the physical fitness of Rohit after assessing him on different metrics that tested his skills related to batting, fielding, and running between the wickets. Rohit’s physical fitness has been satisfactory, however, he will be required to continue work on his endurance,” the BCCI said in an official release on Saturday.

He has been given a detailed program to follow for two weeks quarantine duration. Rohit Sharma will be reassessed by the Indian medical team post his quarantine period to establish his fitness and a call on his participation in the test series will be taken accordingly. He will be available only for the third and fourth Test as he will complete his quarantine period midway during the second Test.

Tim Paine and Virat Kohli
Tim Paine and Virat Kohli. Reuters.
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Tim Paine May Face Axe For No Show With The Bat: Mohammad Kaif

Mohammad Kaif, India’s former middle-order batsman, believed that current Australian wicket-keeper and skipper in tests, Tim Paine might lose captaincy and be axed from the team by the end of 4 match Border Gavaskar test series for poor form.

He made this observation while previewing the upcoming India-Australia Test series on the Sony Sports network.

Mohammad Kaif
Mohammad Kaif. (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

Mohammad Kaif: Tim Paine Can Confront Indians As He Isn’t In Any IPL Team

Mohammad Kaif was asked whether he expects a recurrence of the heated exchanges between Virat Kohli and Tim Paine from the last Test series in 2018-19 when India won maiden test series 2-1. The Delhi Capitals assistant coach responded that none of the Aussies who play in the IPL are likely to indulge in any verbal altercations.

David Warner leads SunRisers Hyderabad while Aaron Finch had a poor outing in IPL 2020 for Royal Challengers Bangalore. Glenn Maxwell playing for Kings XI Punjab and Pat Cummins of Kolkata Knight Riders had a poor IPL too unlike Marcus Stoinis of Delhi Capitals.

“All the players who play in the IPL, whether it is Finch, Warner or Cummins, none of them are going to fight now.”

Tim Paine
Tim Paine. Image Credit: Getty Images.

However, he added that Tim Paine could be the one again to get involved in some heated discussions as he does not feature in the prestigious extravagant IPL.

“Tim Paine does not play, he knows that he is not going to come to India, he does not have anything to do with the IPL, so he can confront the Indians.”

Tim Paine scored 79 and accumulated 153 runs averaging 38.25 in 3 Tests against New Zealand but failed in England and Pakistan series. He is yet to score a 100 even after playing 31 Tests and has scored only 7 fifties with highest being 92 against India way back in 2010.

Mohammad Kaif: Tim Paine Will Face Axe In Case Of Another Failure With Bat

Mohammad Kaif even suggested that Tim Paine is likely to face the axe by the end of the Test series as he has not been amongst the runs with the bat. He added that Australia only handed over the captaincy to the Tasmanian because they were struggling to cope and were in a desperate situation after ball-tampering controversy.

“I feel by the time the Test series is over, Tim Paine would have been dropped. He is not able to score runs with the bat. He just got the captaincy because Smith and Warner had the problem at the time. They were banned, so he was made the captain in compulsion.”

Mohammad Kaif concluded by stating that Tim Paine should concentrate more on his batting as both of Steve Smith and David Warner are back in the fold after serving the year-long ban.

“Now that they have come back, if he doesn’t score, then his playing in the XI will also be difficult. So it will be better if he concentrates on batting and keeping only this time.”

David Warner and Steven Smith.
David Warner and Steven Smith. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

There have been constant calls in certain quarters for the Australian Test captaincy to be handed back to Steve Smith who was removed from captaincy and banned for a year for alleged involvement in ball-tampering saga along with David Warner. Tim Paine also on the wrong side of 35 years and will try to play a stellar role with bat and behind the stumps as his failure may lead Matthew Wade or Alex Carey to be given responsibility with the gloves.

As suggested by Mohammad Kaif, an indifferent performance from Tim Paine will not only put his captaincy in doubt but even his spot in the Australian Test team at stake.

Pat Cummins, middle finger
Pat Cummins (Image Credit: Google)
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Tim Paine Will Be Succeeded By Pat Cummins As A Test Skipper: Michael Clarke

Tim Paine was handed the captaincy armband after the ball-tampering scandal in 2018 which saw one year ban from all forms of cricket for then skipper Steve Smith and deputy David Warner. Moreover, the duo was also given subsequent captaincy bans-as Steve Smith cannot become captain for 2 years and David Warner was handed a lifetime captaincy ban.

However, Tim Paine has done a decent job of seeing his team returning back to winning ways as Australia won 10 out of 19 matches he captained during a tough period in Australian cricket. But the 36-year-old Tim Paine is already reaching the fag end of his career after playing 31 tests as a fresh captaincy discussion has been initiated.

Tim Paine, Steve Smith
Tim Paine, Steve Smith

Tim Paine Doing A Great Job But Pat Cummins Should Be Given Captaincy As He Is Ready For It: Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke, the former Australian batsman and an ex-skipper is hopeful of pace spearhead Pat Cummins succeeding Tim Paine as the country’s Test leader when the veteran’s reign comes to an end.

There have also been calls from fans, experts and former cricketers to reinstate batsman Steve Smith as skipper. Still, Michael Clarke believes pacer Pat Cummins, who was recently appointed the sole vice-captain after previously sharing the role with Travis Head, should be handed the role of captaincy when the perfect time comes.

“Patty’s ready for it. I love that they’ve given him the full-time vice- captaincy,” Clarke told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke. Image Credit: Getty Images

“Right now I think Finchy is doing a great job, Painey is doing a great job. So, that gives Pat Cummins the opportunity to learn and watch and sit back and and see how he feels about that role and experience a few different things,” Clarke said.

“Hopefully he gets an opportunity along the way to captain in certain games, whether it be Australia A or whether it be a tour game, whatever it is, which I’m sure he will,” he added.

Both the duo of Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner resigned from their posts after they were slapped with a one-year international ban for their involvement in the 2018 ball-tampering scandal. Since then Tim Paine has been captaining the Test team while Aaron Finch was assigned the limited-overs leadership after Australia’s 5-0 whitewash against England in May 2018.

Michael Clarke Rejects Notion That A Batsman Should Do Well As Skipper Rather Than A Bowler

Michael Clarke, who was the skipper of Australia in 47 Tests before retiring in 2015, also rejected the popular belief that a batsman is better suited to the role of a captain than a bowler as Pat Cummins is a bowler himself. Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Heath Streak, Daniel Vettori and Shaun Pollock have been successful captains as bowlers in recent past while pacer Jason Holder is still captaining West Indies.

“Not at all. These days there’s so much cricket. Batsmen get injured. Bowlers get injured. Guys are going to be rested,” he said.

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

“For me it’s the right person for the job that’s the most important, not whether you’re a batter or bowler,” Clarke added.

In January 2019, Pat Cummins became one of Australia’s two-Test vice-captains, alongside Travis Head. Pat Cummins was also named as the sole vice-captain in limited-overs formats, with Alex Carey dropped as a co-vice-captain for the three T20Is and three ODIs against England.

Recently, he was appointed sole test vice-captain after being rested in T20I series against India. He also didn’t play the 3rd ODI and picked three wickets in two ODIs averaging 39.67.

Captains
Tim Paine (Image Credit: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
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It Still Annoys Me That We Lost That Test Series: Tim Paine

Tim Paine, Australia’s red-ball skipper in Tests, has admitted the “annoying” Test series defeat to India still “grinds” him, adding that Australia now has a better all-round side which is pumped up to take on the holders of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. India had stunned Australia 2-1 to win their maiden Test series Down Under in 2018-19, which was Tim Paine’s first assignment as skipper on home soil.

Tim Paine who debuted in 2009-10 had captained Australia in 19 test matches, and Australia have won 10 of them. In May 2018, Tim Paine was named ODI captain for the series in England. However, following Australia’s 5-0 ODI whitewash defeat to England, Aaron Finch replaced him as ODI Captain prior to a series against South Africa in November 2018, highly likely ending Tim Paine’s ODI career.

Tim Paine
Tim Paine (Image Credit: Getty Images)

Tim Paine Said The 2018-19 Defeat To India Still Annoys Him

The wicket-keeper batsman was handed the charge of leading the Baggy Greens Australian test team after the 2018 ball-tampering incident that saw the then skipper Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner being slapped with year-long bans.

“Certainly for me sitting back it still annoys me that we lost that Test series,” Tim Paine told 2GB’s Wide World of Sports radio.

“Whether we had Steve or David or not you don’t want to be losing any Test matches or Test series you’re involved in, so that still grinds me a little bit,” Paine added. 

David Warner and Steven Smith.
David Warner and Steven Smith. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

The 35-year-old said every player involved in the loss has improved in the last couple of years. Marnus Labuschagne’s form as he averages 63.43 in 14 Tests will concern Indian bowlers. Steve Smith also averages 62.84 in 73 tests and Indian bowlers should try to get his wicket early.

“We’re a much better all round side. Not just adding Steve and David back into it, which is a hell of a lot of runs to add back into a side, but I think every other cricketer in that team has improved in the last 18 months as well and we’ve been playing some really good cricket. Whereas back then I think we were finding our way through a really challenging or different type of set up,” Tim Paine added.

India had won the first and third Test at Adelaide and Melbourne respectively, while Australia claimed a victory in the second game at Perth with the final match ending in a draw.

Tim Paine: Everyone Is Absolutely Pumped To Achieve Success

Tim Paine, who has led Australia to 10 Test victories in 19 outings, said the loss drives the players involved in the series to do better and even the duo of David Warner and Steve Smith are eager to show what they are capable of.

“I know that it drives a lot of the guys that were involved in that and I certainly know Steve and David are looking forward to coming back and showing just how good they are as well.”

Ajinkya Rahane celebrates with Virat Kohli.
Ajinkya Rahane celebrates with Virat Kohli. Credit: BCCI

The two teams are set to lock horns again on Australian soil in a four-Test series with the opening day-night game in Adelaide starting December 17.

“Everyone is absolutely pumped. The key is going to be last time we didn’t get enough runs, this time, I think a few of our players have spoken about it. If we can make their fast bowlers bowl more overs than last time, I think our attack showed we can get the 20 wickets one way or another, ” said Tim Paine.

Virat Kohli will play only the first Test while missing the last 3 to attend the birth of the first child. Ajinkya Rahane will take over captaincy as expected in last three Tests.

Sachin-Tendulkar-Virat-Kohli
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Sachin Tendulkar Names Mayank Agarwal As A ‘Confirmed Starter’

Sachin Tendulkar, the former legendary Indian cricketer, reckons that Mayank Agarwal is a ‘confirmed starter’ for the four-match Test series against Australia. Back in December 2018, it was during India’s previous tour of Australia itself that the right-hander debuted in international cricket.

Ever since then, he has averaged a stunning 57.29 with three centuries and is also closing in on the 1,000-run mark. He has scored 974 runs in only 11 tests with 3 hundreds and 4 fifties.

Mayank Agarwal
Mayank Agarwal (Image Credit: Google)

Sachin Tendulkar: Mayank Agarwal Is A Confirmed Starter And Will Partner Rohit Sharma If He Is Fit And Available

Mayank Agarwal debuted against Australia on 26 December 2018, scoring 76 runs in his first innings at Melbourne. This was the highest score by an Indian cricketer on a Test debut in Australia. He played the 4th test also and finished the series with 195 runs.

Sachin Tendulkar selected Rohit Sharma as Mayank Agarwal’s first-choice opening partner. However, since Rohit Sharma has been ruled out of the first two Tests, either Prithvi Shaw or KL Rahul should be partnering Mayank Agarwal at the top of the order.

Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar. Image Credits: BBC

India have Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Rohit Sharma, and Shubman Gill as specialist openers in their Test squad. However, Rohit Sharma is still undergoing rehabilitation at NCA at Bangalore and is certain to miss the first two tests failing to recover in time from a hamstring injury but played the last few matches in IPL 2020 with pain.

“Mayank, I know, is a confirmed starter because he has scored big runs and if Rohit is fit and available, then he should be there. Between other guys (Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul), that will be the management’s decision as they would be knowing who’s the form man,” Sachin Tendulkar was quoted as saying in Hindustan Times.

India also have Shubman Gill as a genuine opener, but he is yet to debut in tests, though he has taken part in a couple of ODIs for Team India back in the 2019 tour of New Zealand.

Sachin Tendulkar: Indian Team Will Leave No Stone Unturned In Preparations

Last time around when India won the series 2-1 on Australian soil in 2018-19, David Warner and Steve Smith didn’t take part due to their 1 year suspension period due to ball-tampering allegations. However, both have found their lost form back after staging a comeback.

Moreover, Marnus Labuschagne has risen up the ranks in the last few years averaging 63.43 in 14 Tests with four tons. Sachin Tendulkar feels that the trio could be hard to be dismissed for the visiting side consisting of likes of pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.

Marnus Labuschagne
Marnus Labuschagne (Image Credit: Google)

“Smith, (David) Warner and (Marnus) Labuschagne will be a factor and I am confident that the Indian team will leave no stone unturned as far as preparations are concerned. These two seniors back in the team and also with Labuschagne in there, it makes it a much better batting unit. It will be a bit more competitive series and I am sure India is ready for it,” he stated.

Sachin Tendulkar admitted that Virat Kohli missing the last three Tests to attend the birth of the first child would leave a massive void, but he also sounded confident about India’s bench-strength.

“Virat not being there without a doubt is a big void but also, on the other hand, the kind of bench strength that we have and the talent that is available, it is a good opportunity for somebody to establish himself,” Sachin Tendulkar added.

The opening Test is scheduled to get underway on December 17 at the Adelaide Oval, and it will be a day-night affair. It also will be India’s first overseas day-night encounter after the pink ball test at Kolkata against Bangladesh.

Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli
Rahane has also set his hopes on 2019 World Cip. Photo Credit: AFP.
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Ajinkya Rahane Doesn’t Need To Change His Game Or Personality: Harbhajan Singh

Ajinkya Rahane will be the one to lead the Indian side in important Test matches in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth with Virat Kohli missing the last three Tests to attend birth of child back home. Former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh has a piece of advice for him.

Ajinkya Rahane will have added responsibility on his shoulders during India’s tour of Australia. The Indian vice-captain will not only be the middle-order mainstay for his country in tough and challenging Australian conditions but will also most likely lead the side in the final three Tests of the tour.

Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane. (Image Credit: Getty Images).

Ajinkya Rahane Doesn’t Need To Change Game Or Personality : Harbhajan Singh

Virat Kohli has opted out of the final three Tests as his wife Anushka Sharma is due to give birth in January and his absence will be dearly missed by the team. He will play only the first test- a day night affair at Adelaide.

Harbhajan Singh has said that Ajinkya Rahane has his own personality and it would be a mistake for him to try and copy Virat Kohli’s leadership style in the final three tests against Australia.

“He’s very calm and composed, not so expressive. He’s very different to Virat Kohli,” Harbhajan, who played 103 tests and 236 one-dayers between 1998-2015, told Sport Tak.

Harbhajan SinghHarbhajan Singh. Image Credit: BCCI.

“I would like to remind Rahane that he doesn’t need to change his game or personality. Looking at a personality like Virat, Rahane might think that he has to adopt some of it to beat Australia. But I don’t think that’s necessary. All Rahane needs to do is be himself and make sure he gets the best out of his team,” said the off-spinner.

Under Virat Kohli, India beat Australia 2-1 in 2018/19, becoming the first Asian side to triumph in a Test series Down Under but since David Warner and Steve Smith returns after missing the last tour due to ban besides Virat Kohli’s absence, gives Australia an advantage considering Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne in red hot form averaging above 60.

Harbhajan Singh: India Surely Miss Virat Kohli Who Has A Great Record In Australia And Has Enough Experience As Skipper

Harbhajan Singh had no doubts India would miss their captain Virat Kohli, who is also their batting mainstay. Virat Kohli is India’s most successful test captain with 33 wins in 55 games and Ajinkya Rahane have captained India previously in 2 tests both at home and India won both of them.

“Virat has an unbelievable record in Australia, something every batsman aspires. So definitely India is going to miss Kohli in the batting unit. Then his experience as captain. His aggression, leading from the front, that is Virat Kohli. He always puts his best foot forward. His body language, his intent. India is going to miss him,” Harbhajan Singh added.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. Credits: AP

The tour begins in Sydney on Nov. 27 with the first of the three one-day internationals, which will be followed by an equal number of Twenty20 matches. The 4 match Test series commence on December 17.