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WTC Final

Mohammad Amir | AFP
Mohammad Amir | AFP
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Virat Kohli Is A True Leader For Being The Inspiration For Young Cricketers, Says Mohammad Amir

Virat Kohli left the cricketing world in shock on Saturday after he announced that he was quitting India captaincy in the Test format. The star batter made the announcement on social media, a day after India lost the three-match series against South Africa 1-2.

Under Virat Kohli, the Indian Test team rose to the top of the world rankings and also notched up its maiden series win in Australia in 2018-2019. The series triumph against the Aussies perhaps underlined the leadership skills of Virat Kohli, who wore his heart on his sleeve. He signed off with 40 wins and 17 losses in 68 Tests as captain which is the best win percentage and most wins of any Indian skipper in Tests.

 

Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Image Source: AP IMAGE

Virat Kohli Is A True Leader For Being The Inspiration For Young Cricketers: Mohammad Amir

Former Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir took to Twitter to congratulate Virat Kohli for his outstanding stint as India Test captain. Mohammad Amir said that Virat Kohli is a “true leader” and an “inspiration for young cricketers”.

“@imVkohli brother for me u are a true leader of the upcoming generation in cricket because u are the inspiration for young Cricketers. keep rocking on and of the field,” wrote Amir on Twitter.

Mohammad Amir congratulated Virat Kohli for his outstanding stint as India Test captain.© Twitter
Mohammad Amir congratulated Virat Kohli for his outstanding stint as India Test captain.© Twitter

The left arm-pacer Mohammad Amir has represented Pakistan in 36 Test matches, 61 ODIs, and 50 T20Is. He has also played for Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Karachi Kings. In addition, he has recently played for Barbados Royals during the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2021.

The pacer played 36 Tests, 61 ODIs, and 50 T20Is before announcing retirement. Mohammad Amir has represented the Pakistan cricket team in 50 T20I matches, scalping 59 wickets at an economy rate of 7.02. His last appearance for the Pakistan cricket team came during the side’s England tour last year.

He was a part of the playing XI that played in the second T20I of the series in Manchester on August 30, 2020. He represented Pakistan in 36 Tests and took 119 wickets at an average of 30.47. He also featured in 61 ODIs and claimed 81 wickets at an average of 29.62.

Virat Kohli Is Most Successful Test Skipper

Virat Kohli is India’s most successful Test captain when it comes to the number of wins in the longest format. He had led India in 68 Tests, registering 40 victories and with a win percentage of 58.82. Under Virat Kohli’s leadership in 2018-19, India scripted history by becoming the first Asian team to register a Test series win in Australia.

Virat Kohli with MS Dhoni Aijaz Rahi / AP
Virat Kohli with MS Dhoni Aijaz Rahi / AP

Under his leadership, India also stayed on top of the ICC Test Rankings for consecutive years and reached the final of the ICC World Test Championship in 2021. However, India went on to lose the WTC final to New Zealand. India will play their next Test match against Sri Lanka at home and the BCCI now has the task of finding a new captain for the Indian team in the longest format.

When Virat Kohli took full-time charge of the Test team, in Australia in 2014-15 after MS Dhoni’s shock decision to retire mid-series, India was languishing as low as seventh in the ICC rankings.

From there to taking the team to No. 1 in the world rankings and staying there for five years had been a spectacular turnaround. Virat Kohli won 40 Test matches, which is 13 more than next-best MS Dhoni.

Sourav Ganguly and Virat Kohli.
Sourav Ganguly and Virat Kohli. (PTI)
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Virat Kohli’s Decision To Quit As Test Skipper Is A Personal One And BCCI Respects It: Sourav Ganguly

Virat Kohli on Saturday stunned the cricking world with his sudden decision of relinquishing captaincy in Tests. His decision comes after Team India lost the 3-match Test series to South Africa 2-1. Back in 2014, he led India for the first time in the longest format of the game after which he took the team to newer heights in the past seven years.

It’s a deniable fact that Virat Kohli was the best skipper to lead India in Test cricket. He led in 68 Test matches out of which the team registered victory in 40 games. 17 of them ended in a draw and lost 11 face-offs. He stands fourth on the list of captains with most Test wins after the likes of Graeme Smith, Ricky Ponting, and Steve Smith.

Virat Kohli[photo: Twitter]
Virat Kohli[photo: Twitter]

Virat Kohli’s Decision To Quit As Test Skipper Is A Personal One And BCCI Respects It: Sourav Ganguly

As Virat Kohli left his post, the cricket fraternity came forward to shower praise on the man who left no stone unturned in the past years to change the face of Indian cricket. Former captain and BCCI President Sourav Ganguly took to Twitter and called Virat Kohli a ‘great player’.

“Under Virats leadership, Indian cricket has made rapid strides in all formats of the game ..his decision is a personal one and BCCI respects it immensely ..he will be an important member to take this team to newer heights in the future. A great player. Well done,” Ganguly tweeted.

 

Virat Kohli on Saturday took to his social media accounts and posted a heartfelt message to announce his decision. He thanked every individual who was involved in his journey as a leader of the pack. He made a special mention to former captain and wicketkeeper MS Dhoni for believing in him and showing his trust.

Earlier in September 2021, he had said that he will step down from the T20I captaincy just ahead of the ICC T20I World Cup. It was later revealed that BCCI had asked him to rethink as BCCI didn’t want multiple captains in limited-overs cricket.

Virat Kohli Was Replaced By Rohit Sharma As Full Time White Ball Skipper

Following India’s narrow Test series loss to South Africa earlier this week, Virat Kohli on Saturday announced that he has decided to quit the Test captaincy. Earlier, Virat Kohli had relinquished the T20 captaincy after India’s campaign at the T20 World Cup in the UAE. He was then replaced by Rohit Sharma’s as India’s full-time white-ball skipper last month.

Virat Kohli with Rohit Sharma
Virat Kohli with Rohit Sharma IMAGE: AFP

Virat Kohli steps down from his role as India’s most successful Test captain, having recorded 40 wins in 68 matches. He is fourth in the list of captains with the most Test wins behind South Africa’s Graeme Smith (53) and Australian greats Ricky Ponting (43) and Steve Waugh (41).

Under his leadership, Team India reached new heights, including a Test series win in Australia. India also came close to winning the World Test Championship (WTC), losing out to New Zealand in the final. Virat Kohli won 40 matches, which is 13 more than MS Dhoni.

Virat Kohli captained India in 25 series. He won 18, lost six, and drew one series. Under him, India won 16 away Tests – the most for India, ahead of Sourav Ganguly who had won 11.

Virat Kohli has stepped down as captain of India’s Test team, with immediate effect, a day after losing the Test series to South Africa 2-1 with a seven-wicket loss in Cape Town. He took over as full-time Test captain in early 2015, when MS Dhoni had announced retirement in Australia, and ended up as India’s most successful Test captain ever.
New Zealand's Kane Williamson celebrates with the trophy and teammates after winning the final of the ICC World Test Championship. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters
New Zealand's Kane Williamson celebrates with the trophy and teammates after winning the final of the ICC World Test Championship. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters
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Ravi Shastri Reckons Losing WTC Final To Kane Williamson’s New Zealand Was Biggest Disappointment In His Tenure

Ravi Shastri’s stint as India head coach was filled with many highs and a few lows. The achievement of winning back-to-back Test series wins in Australia, leading England 2-1 on their soil, finishing five years in a row as the No. 1 ranked Test team, and reaching the knockouts of several ICC tournaments are just some of the accomplishments.

Ravi Shastri arguably is probably the best coach India has had in a long time as he instilled quality and confidence in his players. In between, there was the disappointment of not being able to win an ICC trophy.

Ravi Shastri Image Source : AP
Ravi Shastri Image Source: AP

Ravi Shastri Reckons Losing WTC Final Was Biggest Disappointment In His Tenure

The 2019 World Cup, the 2021 World Test Championship, the 2021 T20 World Cup would go down as missed opportunities as India failed when it mattered most. For a coach who thrives on being and making his team the best in the world, it’s a tricky question asking him which loss hurt the most, but Ravi Shastri is not one to mince words and he answered this question with bravado. Ravi Shastri said the loss in the final of the inaugural World Test Championship is his ‘biggest disappointment’.

“Losing the World Test Championship final for me was the biggest disappointment in my tenure because we didn’t deserve to lose that game. We should have drawn it at least. Because of the kind of cricket we had played for five years, to be No. 1 for five years is no joke,” the former India coach said on the ‘Bold and Brave: Ravi Shastri Way’ show on Star Sports.

Kyle Jamieson (File Photo) | AP
Kyle Jamieson (File Photo) | AP

“As much as you want to take about the preparation, the quarantine, the conditions that existed there, New Zealand already being in England… we had no business to lose that game. So that was disappointing, to say the least.”

India suffered an eight-wicket defeat to New Zealand in the WTC final at Southampton in a rain-marred game. All-rounder Kyle Jamieson rocked the Indian batting order with a five-wicket-haul. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Ajinkya Rahane all got starts but none could go past fifty. The second innings saw India getting bowled out for 170, setting New Zealand 140 to win, which the BlackCaps achieved with 15 overs left.

Kane Williamson, Kyle Jamieson, And Tim Southee Architects Of New Zealand’s Inaugural World Test Championship Win

The ICC World Test Championship (WTC) Final ebbed and flowed and New Zealand finally won the match beating India by eight wickets in Southampton on June 23(the reserve 6th day). Fittingly veterans Ross Taylor and skipper Kane Williamson were the two batters at the crease who buried the ghosts of the ICC Cricket ODI World Cup 2019 and 2015, where they lost the finals.

Kane Williamson (AP)
Kane Williamson (AP)

The heroes of New Zealand’s victory were Kane Williamson(49 and 52*), Kyle Jamieson (5/31 in the 1st innings), and Tim Southee(4/48 in the 2nd innings).

Meanwhile, India has been able to hold on to their fourth spot in the World Test Championship (WTC) points table even after losing to South Africa in the second Test at the Wanderers, Johannesburg. South Africa, on the other hand, has climbed up the rankings to the fifth spot and registered their first win in the WTC 2021-23 cycle with the help of the seven-wicket win against India in the 2nd Test to level series 1-1.

Sri Lanka and Australia have the same percentage points and are sharing the honours at the top of the table, followed by Pakistan in third place in the latest WTC standings released by the ICC.

New Zealand 249 (Conway 54, Williamson 49, Shami 4-76) and 140 for 2 (Williamson 52*, Taylor 47, Ashwin 2-17) beat India 217 (Rahane 49, Kohli 44, Jamieson 5-31) and 170 (Pant 41, Southee 4-48) by eight wickets

Indian Cricket Team
Indian Cricket Team. Image Credits: Twitter
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Aakash Chopra Picks 3 Defining Moments Of Indian Cricket In 2021

Aakash Chopra has picked three defining moments of Indian cricket in 2021. He shared these moments through a video on his YouTube channel.

Team India had an exceptional year in Test cricket, with the loss in the inaugural World Test Championship final to New Zealand being the only low point. Although the Men in Blue also had a decent year in the limited-overs formats, their inability to make the knockout stages of the 2021 T20I World Cup would have hurt them a lot.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra Picks India’s Loss To Pakistan In The T20I World Cup 2021 As One Of Defining Moments Of 2021

While stating that he would go in reverse order, Aakash Chopra picked India’s crushing loss to Pakistan by 10 wickets in the T20I World Cup 2021 as one of the defining moments of the year. This was India’s first loss to their arch-rivals in 13 matches combined in ODI and T20I World Cups.

He said: “You might say it is slightly bittersweet or what is good in that. Not good or bad but it defines Indian cricket. Remember the World Cup game we lost to Pakistan. India was totally destroyed and Pakistan won by 10 wickets.”

The cricketer-turned-commentator pointed out that the camaraderie between Indian skipper Virat Kohli and the Pakistan duo of skipper Babar Azam and keeper Mohammad Rizwan deserves a lot of praise. The Pakistan opening duo was unbeaten chasing 152 odd runs to win.

Aakash Chopra elaborated: “But after that, if you leave the outside noise aside, the picture that comes to mind is Babar Azam and Rizwan hugging Virat Kohli. That hug told us a lot of things. Kohli and the Indian team would have had a bigger heartbreak than us but what Virat Kohli did was magnanimous.”

Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, and Virat Kohli share a heartfelt moment after Ind vs Pak game | Photo: T20 World Cup / ICC
Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, and Virat Kohli share a heartfelt moment after Ind vs Pak game | Photo: T20 World Cup / ICC

Aakash Chopra chose Team India’s 151-run Test win over England at Lord’s as the second-best moment of 2021.

He observed: “My second moment is Lord’s. India played well in the first innings – Rahul scored a century and Rohit played well. There is a collapse on the second morning and Joe Root hits another century, that too 180. You conceded the first-innings lead.”

The former India opener highlighted that the Virat Kohli-led side had staged a tremendous comeback after they seemed down and out on multiple occasions during the Test. England was the favourite to win the match but India’s pace bowling duo of Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah had some other plans. The duo stitched an unbeaten 89-run stand for the ninth wicket and brought India back in the game.

Aakash Chopra explained: “In the second innings, India were 55/3 at one stage and Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara were playing to save their places. They have a big partnership but again you are 209/8 and then the amazing partnership between Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami. After that, England were bowled out for 120 in just 51 overs.”

The win at Lord’s helped Team India take a 1-0 lead in the Pataudi Trophy. Although they lost the next Test at Headingley, they bounced back to take a 2-1 lead at the Oval, with the final Test of the five-match series to be played next year. The match was postponed as one of the Indian staff members tested Covid-19 positive.

Aakash Chopra Reckons India’s Win At Gabba Best Moment Of 2021 For India

Aakash Chopra unsurprisingly chose the historic series-clinching win at the Gabba in Australia as Team India’s best moment of 2021. Australia hadn’t lost a single Test match at this venue since 1988 but their 32-year-long unbeaten streak was brought to an end by a spirited Indian side in January this year. The series was on the line and nobody gave them a chance to create an upset, especially because they were missing several of their first-team players.

He reasoned: “At No.1, it has to be Gabba. Our bowling lineup was Mohammed Siraj, T Natarajan, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini and Washington Sundar – what was the chance of India doing well in that game? Australia scored 369 when they batted first. India conceded the lead and were only able to fight because Washi and Shardul scored 62 and 67.”

Brisbane Test: India beat Australia by 3 wickets at Gabba to win series 2-1, retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy Image Source : AP IMAGE
Brisbane Test: India beat Australia by 3 wickets at Gabba to win series 2-1, retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy Image Source: AP IMAGE

The 44-year-old lauded Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Rishabh Pant for their defining roles on the final day of the Test chasing a stiff target of 328 runs to win.

Aakash Chopra elaborated: “Australia scored 294 in the second innings. You lost Rohit Sharma early on the final day but after that the counterattack. Shubman Gill hit from one end, Pujara was standing at the other end and was getting hit all over the body but when he got out it seemed the game will be stuck. But Rishabh Pant went on playing and hit the winning runs in the end. It was absolutely sensational.”

Aakash Chopra concluded by stating that the 113-run win in the recently concluded Centurion Test against South Africa should also be part of Indian cricket’s best moments of 2021.

 

VVS Laxman. (File Photo: IANS)
VVS Laxman. (File Photo: IANS)
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India’s Famed Batting Line-Up Should Not Repeat Same Mistakes In South Africa, Says VVS Laxman

VVS Laxman cautioned India’s batting line-up while pointing out a major area of concern for Virat Kohli’s men ahead of the anticipated tour of South Africa which begins with the three-Test series from December 26 onwards.

Ajinkya Rahane in the first innings in the 1st Test in Kanpur and Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Shubman Gill in the second innings in the 2nd Test in Mumbai – all have one thing in common – something which VVS Laxman pointed out while speaking on the Star Sports show Follow the Blues.

Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara (AFP Photo)
Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara (AFP Photo)

VVS Laxman: It’s Very Important Not To Repeat The Same Mistakes

All four threw away their wicket after getting set during the recently-concluded home 2 match Test series against New Zealand and VVS Laxman has expressed concern over his pattern which is developing.

“It’s very important not to repeat the same mistakes. If we saw the way Ajinkya Rahane got out in Kanpur, Pujara got out in Kanpur as well as in Mumbai, it’s almost like a pattern which is developing. Even Shubman Gill, after settling down and throwing away his wicket. So I just believe it is about converting that start into a big score, which is very critical,” he said.

VVS Laxman (Image Credit: Twitter)
VVS Laxman (Image Credit: Twitter)

The veteran former cricketer, who was a middle-order batsman explained that with India playing with five specialist batters overseas along with the all-rounder in Ravindra Jadeja, the team will need their batting line-up to play patiently and convert the starts into big figures.

“As it is, India plays with five genuine batters, then you have an all-rounder in the form of Jadeja, you then have a wicketkeeper-batter, so it is important for the top five batters to make it count once they get their eye in, once they spend time on the crease,” he added.

Ajinkya Rahane has had a horror run with the bat over the last year, which has seen his average dip to under 40(39.3). In fact, he averages a mere 19.57 in 12 Tests in 2021, his lowest average in a year since debuting in 2013.

While Ajinkya Rahane has not scored a century since December 2020- a memorable 112 against Australia, Cheteshwar Pujara hasn’t scored a ton since he made 193 against Australia in January 2019. Cheteshwar Pujara has done slightly better at 29.83 from the same number of games in 2021. He also averaged a mere 20.38 in 2020 as against his Test career average of 44.82.

VVS Laxman Feels India’s Batting Needs To Fire To Win Test Series In South Africa

VVS Laxman warned the Indian team that if they want to win in the tough conditions in South Africa, their final frontier, the batters need to fire.

“Somewhere or the other I feel they are repeating the mistakes and throwing away their wickets after getting set, which you cannot do if you want to perform well against good teams and especially if you want to win the series in South Africa, as a batting unit you will have to fire.”

Shubman Gill (Express photo: Jasbir Malhi)
Shubman Gill (Express photo: Jasbir Malhi)

Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel-the 2 spinners, batsman Shubman Gill, and pacer Ishant Sharma – are doubtful about the next South Africa trip as they will take some months to be completely fit after sustaining injuries which have prompted the BCCI senior selection committee to delay naming the squad for the tour of South Africa.

Ravindra Jadeja’s ligament tear will take months to heal and if he undergoes surgery, he will only get fit before the Indian Premier League 2022 next year. Shubman Gill’s shin injury has resurfaced. The youngster had missed the Test series in England due to the same problem after the WTC Final and suffered pain again while fielding during the Mumbai Test. Ishant Sharma has a side strain while Axar Patel has a stress fracture.

Ravi Shastri. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Ravi Shastri. (Photo Source: Twitter)
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Ravi Shastri Backs Virat Kohli’s Decision To Step Down As T20I Skipper

Ravi Shastri agreed ‘100 percent’ with Virat Kohli’s decision to give up India’s T20I captaincy, as the former India all-rounder gave examples of Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, mentioning how they did the same to get the most out of their careers.

Former India coach Ravi Shastri has given his take on Virat Kohli’s captaincy and backed his decision to step down as India’s T20I skipper. Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli’s association has worked wonders for Team India, with the team playing some of its best cricket during their partnership.

Ravi Shastri has weighed in on Virat Kohli's captaincy and his decision to step down as India's T20I skipper. (Getty)
Ravi Shastri has weighed in on Virat Kohli’s captaincy and his decision to step down as India’s T20I skipper. (Getty)

Ravi Shastri: Virat Kohli Has Been A Tactically Sound Captain

Weighing in on Virat Kohli’s captaincy, Ravi Shastri explained that it is easy to point out the flaws on the basis of the results, but what the Indian star has achieved during his tenure is something to be proud of.

“At the end of the day, he has been a tactically sound captain. Efficient. People will always judge you by results, or not by how you got the runs, but by how many runs you scored. He has evolved well; he has matured as a player. It is not easy being captain of the Indian team. He should feel proud of what he has achieved,” Ravi Shastri said in an interview.

India's Virat Kohli. Credit: Reuters Photo
India’s Virat Kohli. Credit: Reuters Photo

With Virat Kohli announcing his decision to step down as India’s T20I captain after the conclusion of the T20I World Cup, Ravi Shastri backed the 33-year-old for making the call. Rohit Sharma was assigned skipper for the next New Zealand bilateral T20I series and maybe the skipper in ODIs too for the next South Africa tour.

Ravi Shastri: Sunil Gavaskar And Sachin Tendulkar Also Gave Up Captaincy To Prolong Their Careers And Concentrate On Their Batting

Agreeing ‘100 percent’ with Virat Kohli’s decision, the former India all-rounder gave examples of the great Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, mentioning how they did the same(relinquishing captaincy) to get the most out of their careers.

“One hundred percent. It has happened to the best. I remember Sunny (Gavaskar) giving up [captaincy] to concentrate on his batting; Sachin Tendulkar did the same to prolong his career,” added Ravi Shastri.

Sachin Tendulkar with Sunil Gavaskar. (Reuters Photo)
Sachin Tendulkar with Sunil Gavaskar. (Reuters Photo)

Virat Kohli finished as India’s second-most successful captain in T20Is after MS Dhoni, having led the team in 50 matches, winning 32 of them and losing 16. With a win percentage of 64.58, Virat Kohli’s tenure came to an end with India’s final match of the 2021 T20I World Cup – against Namibia which the Men in Blue won comfortably by nine wickets to bow out of the T20I World Cup on a high.

Skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri had worked together as captain and coach since 2017 for four years, during which Indian cricket achieved phenomenal success. However, their stint ended on a disappointing note, with India getting knocked out of the 2021 T20I World Cup, failing to qualify for the semifinals for the first time in eight ICC events.

Ravi Shastri had initially become the director of the Indian cricket team in 2014 for a period of eight months from India’s tour of England till the 2015 World Cup, alongside Duncan Fletcher. He then had sole responsibility till 2016, and the 2016 World T20 saw India reach the semifinals again.

Ravi Shastri was removed in 2016 when Anil Kumble took over, but on July 13, 2017, he was appointed the head coach of the Indian team officially, reuniting with Virat Kohli to forge a vibrant partnership. With Ravi Shastri as a coach, India won two away series in Australia before reaching the finals of the World Test Championship last month.

Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma (PTI)
Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma (PTI)
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Ishant Sharma And Ajinkya Rahane Doubtful To Be Selected For South Africa Tour

Ishant Sharma missed the 2nd Mumbai Test against New Zealand which India won after dislocating his left little finger. Ishant Sharma’s poor form in recent times has been a big point of discussion of late. Despite being India’s second-highest wicket-taker among pacers in Test cricket, he hasn’t quite put in the performances he was expected to. In the ongoing two-match series against New Zealand, the right-arm speedster had his ups and downs.

After going wicketless in the Kanpur Test, he missed the Mumbai Test after dislocating his left little finger. Since India’s tour of England earlier this year, Ishant has lost quite a bit of form. Mohammed Siraj was called upon to replace him in the playing eleven. The netizens reckon that the lanky pacer should be given some rest going forward.

Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma[Image-Twitter]

Ishant Sharma’s Place In The Test Team For South African Tour Is Doubtful

As per reports, Ishant Sharma’s place in the Test team for the South Africa tour is also under the clouds. Pace spearheads Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, both of whom were rested for NZ Tests, seem to be the automatic picks and it will be tough to leave out an in-form Mohammed Siraj as well.

Umesh Yadav hasn’t been a regular member of India’s Test team, but on current form, he is in a better place than Ishant Sharma. If India goes in with six fast bowlers for the South Africa tour, the likes of uncapped Prasidh Krishna and Avesh Khan are a few options.

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

After a match-haul of nine wickets against Bangladesh in the Day/Night Test in 2019, the maximum Ishant Sharma has claimed in a match is five wickets. Ishant Sharma’s lacklustre show was again on display during the 1st Kanpur Test in New Zealand, where the India pacer went wicketless in both innings.

In the World Test Championship final against eventual winners New Zealand in Southampton, Ishant Sharma picked up three wickets, all in the first innings, and went without any in the second. Next, he played the Lord’s Test, where Ishant Sharma grabbed three and two wickets in the first and second innings, respectively.

At Leeds, where England hammered India by an innings and 76 runs, Ishant Sharma again had gone wicketless, which means the India pacer has now failed to pick up a wicket in his last two Test matches. Ishant Sharma has played 105 Tests and picked 311 scalps averaging 32.41. He averages 32.71 in 2021 picking only 14 scalps in 8 Tests.

Ajinkya Rahane Is Also Doubtful To Be Selected After Poor Form

Apart from Ishant Sharma, questions over vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane’s form have also been raised. If reports are to be believed, Ajinkya Rahane isn’t an automatic choice in India’s Test team anymore due to his poor run of form over the last 12 months or so. He may also lose his Test vice-captaincy role to Rohit Sharma.

“Obviously, he is going to South Africa but had he not got injured, there was a high chance of him getting dropped from the eleven. So, if he is not a sure-shot starter, how can he remain the deputy. If Rahane is removed from vice-captaincy, Rohit is the obvious choice. He was in fact vice-captain in Australia Test series in last two games,” a BCCI official said.

Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli (Image Credit: Twitter)
Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli (Image Credit: Twitter)

The Chetan Sharma-led selection panel may also take a call on Virat Kohli’s ODI captaincy.

“As of now, it looks difficult that Virat would be able to keep his ODI captaincy but since ODI isn’t important this year with very few matches here and there, one can think of delaying the decision,” the official added.

Ajinkya Rahane has had a horror run with the bat over the last year, which has seen his average dip to under 40(39.3). In fact, he averages a mere 19.57 in 12 Tests in 2021, his lowest average in a year since debuting in 2013.

England Image Credit: Twitter
England Image Credit: Twitter
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England To Tour South Africa And New Zealand In Early 2023

England will tour South Africa and New Zealand in early 2023. In the original version of the Future Tours Programme (FTP) for 2018-23, the men’s 50-over World Cup was due to be staged in India in February-March 2023 but the postponement of the 2020 men’s T20 World Cup to October-November 2022 shifted that tournament back to an October-November window.
The ECB confirmed in August that England’s tour of Bangladesh, which will feature three ODIs and three T20Is, had been pushed back until March 2023, filling part of the gap in their schedule, and it is understood that England will also complete tours of South Africa and New Zealand at the start of the year.
England, PTI
England, PTI

England To Tour South Africa In Early 2023 After The 2020 Series Was Postponed At Last Minute

The tour of South Africa will feature three ODIs and forms part of the World Cup Super League, with the series initially set for December 2020 until a Covid-19 scare in the England camp prompted a last-minute postponement. The series will now be played in late January.
South Africa Cricket Team (Image Credit: Twitter)
South Africa Cricket Team (Image Credit: Twitter)
England will then travel to New Zealand for a two-Test series in February, which does not form part of the World Test Championship and reciprocates New Zealand’s tour immediately before the WTC final in June this year.

England To Play Bilateral Series In 5 Different Countries In The 2022-23 Winter

England is now due to play men’s bilateral series in five different countries in the 2022-23 winter, as well as the T20 World Cup in Australia. Their winter is scheduled to start with seven T20Is in Pakistan from late September, then three T20Is and three ODIs in Australia on either side of the World Cup. They then tour Pakistan again for three Tests in December 2022 before the tours of South Africa, New Zealand, and Bangladesh in early 2023.
Pakistan AFP / Lindsey Parnaby
Pakistan AFP / Lindsey Parnaby

Originally in the Future Tours Programme (FTP) for 2018-23, the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup was scheduled to begin in 2023 in India in the February-March window. However, due to the postponement of the 2020 edition of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup to October-November 2022 the marquee tournament has been shifted to an October-November window.

The England tour of Bangladesh which will consist of three T20 International games and three One Day Internationals games has been pushed back until March 2023. Meanwhile, England’s winter is set to commence with seven T20 Internationals in Pakistan from September after which they will play three T20 Internationals and as many as One Day Internationals in Australia and then tour South Africa, New Zealand, and Bangladesh next year.

England’s withdrawal from the tour of Pakistan right after New Zealand’s pull-out from a limited-overs series at Pakistan after several years had left the entire Pakistan cricketing fraternity infuriated. England later announced an extended fixture list for the tour of Pakistan, committing to a multi-format assignment for next year that will additionally include two more T20Is.

England will play the 7 T20I matches in September/October next year. They will then return to Pakistan in November/December at the back of the T20 World Cup in Australia to play three Tests, which will form part of the ICC World Test Championship. Tom Harrison had flown to Pakistan to meet Ramiz Raja in a bid to mend relations that were damaged by the cancellation of last month’s tour.

India's Ishant Sharma prepares to ball during the third day of the second Test cricket match of a two-match series between India and Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens cricket stadium in Kolkata on November 24, 2019. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE
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Steve Harmison Couldn’t Understand Why Ishant Sharma Played Again vs New Zealand In The 1st Test After Failure In England

Steve Harmison, the former England pacer, couldn’t understand why pacer Ishant Sharma was picked after his performance in England after the first Test versus Kiwis ended in a thrilling draw.

Even a couple of years back, Ishant Sharma was India’s most improved bowler. In the first few years of his Test career, barring a five-wicket-haul on debut, the unforgettable spell at Sydney to Ricky Ponting and a match-winning seven-for at Lord’s came to mind when one thought of Ishant Sharma. But in the last few years, the India pacer had turned a new leaf and emerged to be a part of India’s famous five-pronged pace attack.

Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma[Image-Twitter]

Steve Harmison Couldn’t Understand Why Ishant Sharma Played After Failure In England And Wants Mohammed Siraj Replacing Him In The 2nd Test

However, if his performances in the last few Test matches are to be considered, it reflects a throwback to his initial years. While the rest of the pacers have gone from strength to strength, Ishant Sharma has struggled to pick up wickets. After a match-haul of nine wickets against Bangladesh in the Day/Night Test in 2019, the maximum Ishant Sharma has claimed in a match is five wickets.

Ishant Sharma’s lacklustre show was again on display during the 1st Kanpur Test in New Zealand, where the India pacer went wicketless in both innings. Reflecting on the 33-year-old pacer’s reaction, former England pacer Steve Harmison has said that he is baffled seeing Ishant Sharma play another Test match for India, and backed Mohammed Siraj to replace him in the Playing XI for the second Test in Mumbai.

“For me, both seamers were also below par in the first Test match, for the life of me I don’t understand how Ishant Sharma got another game of Test cricket after what he did in England, so for me, I’d bring [Mohammed] Siraj in for him. The three spinners bowled well enough, so they’ll be the only changes I make,” Steve Harmison said his YouTube channel.

Steve Harmison
Steve Harmison. Image-Twitter

In the World Test Championship final against eventual winners New Zealand in Southampton, Ishant Sharma picked up three wickets, all in the first innings, and went without any in the second. Next, he played the Lord’s Test, where Ishant Sharma grabbed three and two wickets in the first and second innings, respectively.

At Leeds, where England hammered India by an innings and 76 runs, Ishant Sharma again had gone wicketless, which means the India pacer has now failed to pick up a wicket in his last two Test matches.

Mohammed Siraj In Line To Replace Ishant Sharma In The 2nd Test

Ishant Sharma has so far picked 311 scalps in 105 Tests averaging a high 32.41. Ishant Sharma has picked 14 scalps in 8 Tests in 2021 at a high average of 32.71.

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

Mohammed Siraj, the 26-year-old pacer, signed off the recently concluded Australia 4 match Test series as the highest wicket-taker for his team India, claiming 13 wickets in 3 Tests, including one five-wicket haul. He picked 3 scalps against England, too, playing 2 Tests averaging 22.67. He also played all of the 4 away Tests against hosts England, claiming 14 scaps in 4 Tests averaging 30.71. He has already picked 30 scalps in 9 Tests.

India and New Zealand will clash swords with each other in the 2nd and final Test match on 3rd December 2021. Former England pacer Steve Harmison found it surprising that the Indian team persisted with Ishant Sharma despite how he performed in the recent tour of England. Steve Harmison mentioned that Mohammed Siraj would be the best replacement for the senior pacer.
The first Test ended in a thrilling Day 5 draw as New Zealand hung on to a solitary wicket and managed to scrape a draw in the final few minutes.
Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
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Ravichandran Ashwin Is Reliable In Home Conditions, Says Daniel Vettori

Daniel Vettori, New Zealand legendary spinner and ex-captain, weighed in on Ravichandran Ashwin’s performance, lauding the India off-spinner for having a terrific career after a draw between New Zealand and India in Kanpur.

The legend of Ravichandran Ashwin continues to grow as India’s premier off-spinner became the country’s third-highest wicket-taker in Tests surpassing the 40-year veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh when he dismissed New Zealand batter Tom Latham to grab his 418th Test scalp on Day 5 of the Kanpur Test.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh
Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh PTI Photo by Shailendra Bhojak (PTI9_25_2015_000078A)

Daniel Vettori: Ravichandran Ashwin Is Reliable At Home Conditions And Is Always Trying To Get Better

Ravichandran Ashwin is now next only to the legendary Anil Kumble and Kapil Dev and looks set to go second, needing another 16 wickets. Former New Zealand spinner and legend Daniel Vettori weighed in on Ravichandran Ashwin’s performance, lauding the India off-spinner for having a terrific career.

Daniel Vettori is New Zealand’s record wicket-taker.© Twitter
Daniel Vettori is New Zealand’s record wicket-taker.© Twitter

Daniel Vettori found Ravichandran Ashwin’s trait to evolve over the years impressive, saying the way he has dominated, especially in home conditions, is probably next to none.

“I think for someone who has been so dominant in so many different scenarios for India. He is so reliable, particularly in home conditions. The pace at which he takes wickets is phenomenal.

“The way he has evolved… his variations… the bowler that he was to the bowler that he has become. He is always learning, always trying to get better,” Vettori said on ESPNCricinfo.

The 35-year-old Ravichandran Ashwin took his 419th wicket in his 80th Test to surpass Harbhajan Singh (417 in 103 Tests) at an excellent average of 24.49. Ravichandran Ashwin claimed three wickets in both innings of the Kanpur Test and also made useful contributions of 38 and 32 with the bat.

Daniel Vettori Is Surprised How Ravindra Jadeja Is Preferred Over Constant Match Winner Ravichandran Ashwin

Having said that, Daniel Vettori expressed surprise over India’s tendency to drop Ravichandran Ashwin frequently from Test matches. Referring to Ravichandran Ashwin’s repeated snub from the four-Test matches in England, the former New Zealand captain found it tough to believe how the Indian team management preferred Ravindra Jadeja over him in Ravichandran Ashwin, given how the 35-year-old is possibly the best spinner in the world.

Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja Photo Credit: AP
Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja Photo Credit: AP

“All this while he is one of the best spinners for India and in world cricket, he regularly gets dropped. It is fascinating to sit back and see a guy who averages over five wickets in a Test and is a consistent match-winner gets left out of the team, and how Jadeja gets preferred over him. But he keeps coming back. He is far from done,” added Vettori.

Ravindra Jadeja has amassed 2195 runs besides picking up 232 scalps in 57 Tests since debuting in 2012. He averages 33.77 with the bat in Tests and 24.85 with the ball in the longest format.

The Indian think tank believed that Ravichandran Ashwin was not a potent threat on the seamer-friendly tracks in England. Ravichandran Ashwin has 18 wickets from seven Tests in England, while Ravindra Jadeja has 23 wickets from 10 Tests.

The two had played together in the World Test Championship final at Southampton against New Zealand in June without much success. Ravichandran Aswin is yet to score a Test fifty in England, while Ravindra Jadeja has three half-centuries to his credit.

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