England, Australia make changes for pivotal 4th Ashes test

AP Updated: 4 September, 2019, 10:28 AM IST


England and Australia will mix up their batting orders and make changes to their bowling attacks for the pivotal fourth test of an Ashes series that stands at 1-1.

Both teams used their week off in the middle of a dramatic, action-packed series to tinker with their lineups for the match in Manchester starting on Wednesday.

England will drop Chris Woakes and select seam bowler Craig Overton instead, captain Joe Root said Tuesday. Woakes pays the price for only taking a wicket in each of Australia's innings in England's extraordinary one-wicket win in the third test at Headingly, which was inspired by Ben Stokes' final-day 135 not out.

"This ground does perform slightly differently with an extra bit of bounce and a taller bowler will give us an extra option to go to," Root said of Overton, who has three test appearances and played in the last Ashes series Down Under. "I feel like that balances out our attack really well in these conditions."

Joe Denly will replace Jason Roy as the opening partner for Rory Burns at Old Trafford, with Roy dropping down to No. 4 as he searches for some form. Root will stay at No. 3.

Roy, a limited-overs specialist and one of England's star players in its recent Cricket World Cup-winning campaign, is new to the test arena this summer and has struggled against the new ball, top-scoring with 28 in six innings and averaging just 9.5.

"Jason is a high-quality player, we all know that, and he might be better suited at No. 4," Root said. "I think to play in an Ashes series is very exciting and he was extremely excited to get the chance to open the batting but I think that he might be better suited for the middle order on the evidence we have seen over the last three games.

"It's a great opportunity for him to make it his own."

Steve Smith's return, after recovering from the effects of a concussion, and the dropping of Usman Khawaja will bring about a change in Australia's batting lineup, too.

Marnus Labuschagne, who filled in for Smith and batted at No. 4 at Headingley, is expected to take Khawaja's No. 3 position in the batting order, with Smith slotting back into his customary No. 4.

Pace bowler James Pattinson was dropped and Mitchell Starc has been named in the squad, putting him in contention to play his first test of the series.

Smith did not play in Leeds because of a delayed concussion from a bouncer from Jofra Archer that hit Smith in the neck in the drawn second test at Lord's. Smith scored 144, 142 and 92 in his three innings in this series so far.

Khawaja has a series average of 20.33, with his top score of 40 coming in the second innings of the first test won by Australia at Edgbaston.

Head coach Justin Langer said the players were still reeling from the dramatic ending to the third test, where a victory would have seen Australia retain the Ashes.

"We felt like we got our Ashes stolen," Langer said. "Now we've got to work out what we're going to do."

England: Rory Burns, Joe Denly, Joe Root (captain), Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Craig Overton, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach.

Australia (from): David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matt Wade, Tim Paine (captain), Pat Cummins, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

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Feature Cricket

Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar: Cricket’s Cautionary Tales

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 3 October, 2019, 1:46 PM IST


The recent revelation of a stress fracture for Jasprit Bumrah who now misses the home Test series against South Africa and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s long absence from Test cricket reckoning are Indian cricket’s cautionary tales as far as fast bowlers are concerned.

Although only six years into his international career, Jasprit Bumrah has been integral to team India’s fortunes. Not for nothing does Virat Kohli rate Bumrah highly. The fast bowler does not only have a somewhat uncanny action but also, is a downright match winner, irrespective of which format of the game he plays.

Although there was a waiting period before Bumrah was put to the test in Test cricket, that there is no imagining now of a Test squad without Bumrah speaks highly of the performance and potential of the young pacer. And yet this injury is a bitter blow and a cautionary tale that while India can be euphoric about their fast bowlers, they cannot afford to get carried away.

Even Australia had their compulsions in the recently concluded Ashes series. Forced to make bowling changes, to rotate bowlers to prevent injuries and manage the talent, Australia plausibly missed a trick and therefore, the series by bringing in Josh Hazlewood a tad too late.

Now India will grapple, though not quite as much with Umesh Yadav back in the reckoning and Ishant Sharma part of the team. But it does void Kohli the chance to push for glory, particularly at home and against a South African team that is bristling from inexplicable peaks and valleys in fortunes and undergoing a few chances themselves. It does not give Kohli the cushion to plan a momentum for greater world dominance unless they have a pace department management in place.

The BCCI harped on the fact that they were spending money on expensive radiology tests, one of which detected Bumrah’s injury. But if India want the best of talent at their healthiest and at their fittest, the BCCI is going to have to dig into its deep pockets to ensure that bowlers, pace bowlers in particular, are regularly monitored, checked, rested and rotated to ensure that there are few injury niggles and breaks which put a clamp on India’s momentum as well.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is almost a forgotten story in India’s Test history. And it is a sad reflection because one of the pivotal turnarounds in Virat Kohli’s captaincy was the tour of South Africa in 2017-’18. Playing the first Test, Bhuvneshwar Kumar showed his prowess. Yet he was made to sit out the second Test. By the time he was blooded back in into the third Test, India were ruing mistakes and the loss of a potential first series win overseas under Kohli.

Although India had to wait until the end of 2018 for Kohli to taste his first overseas Test series success, coming after seven decades down under, by then Bhuvneshwar Kumar was virtually resigned to history by India’s coach, Ravi Shastri, who perhaps reckoned that the bowler had to contend with enough injuries to take him out of contention as far as Test cricket is concerned. Paying attention to rehabilitation and investing in key players who could provide such dividends as Bhuvneshwar did in South Africa is still an alien concept in Indian waters, even with an extensive support staff in place.

While there seems to be an air of nonchalance about Wridhhiman Saha making a comeback into Test cricket as India’s wicketkeeper, not to be forgotten is how Saha’s injury detection, treatment and thereafter, rehabilitation became a huge point through midway last year.

With Bumrah’s rise, it is easy to overlook the fact that India did not have to groom other young talent. But now with Bumrah’s injury, it has forced the Indian think tank into a huddle. But will this serve as a cautionary tale?

While epitaphs are already being written about bowlers who were never quite the same after injury, while India are banking heavily on Bumrah to make a steadfast and early return, they would do better to have a proper man management in place as far as a more diverse, versatile and fresh pace attack is concerned.

News Cricket

There is no question of dropping my pace despite injuries - Kamlesh Nagarkoti

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 12:40 PM IST


Kamlesh Nagarkoti has been one of the most exciting Indian talents since he helped India in winning the U19 World Cup. His ability to bowl over 150kmph made him famous.

He was handed IPL contract by Kolkata Knight Riders. Kamlesh also became the first bowler from Rajasthan to pick List A hat-trick in a Vijay Hazare Trophy match against Gujarat. However, he had to miss two IPL seasons after he suffered a stress fracture of the back.

The young pacer has returned stronger and was recently named in the upcoming Emerging Nations Asia Cup.

“It was tough, I used to get emotional watching the IPL on TV. All my teammates were playing and I was recovering from an injury. It used to be frustrating but my main aim was to get fit and get back on the ground. I worked really hard for that,” Nagarkoti was quoted as saying by Cricket Next.

He had to make changes in his action to prevent injuries.

“Coaches told me that my front-foot was going across and that was increasing the pressure on my back, I have made it a bit straighter and I am comfortable with the action. There is no question of dropping my pace. Whatever happened has happened, I am not thinking about it too much. I want to show everyone that I am still the same bowler and I am looking forward to whatever opportunity I get. I have worked hard on my body, diet to regain my fitness,” he signed off.

News Cricket

Allan Donald and Dennis Lillee were my cricketing idols – Zaheer Khan

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 12:08 PM IST


The third edition of the T10 League will kick start in Abu Dhabi on November 15th. The competition has nine franchises: Kerala Knights, Maratha Arabians, Bangla Tigers, Punjabi Legends, Deccan Gladiators, Delhi Bulls, Northern Warriors, Rajput, and the newly-formed Qalandars.

Former Indian fast bowler Zaheer Khan will play for Bengal Tigers. He opened up about a lot of things in a chat posted on the official YouTube channel of the league.

When Zaheer was asked to name one batsman from the past he would love to bowl, he said: “Well! There are so many. I really enjoyed my time bowling to the best batsmen in the world. On their day, Mind you! Anyone can be as destructive as possible. So, it’s important, as a bowler, you focus on the positives but I’ve enjoyed all the challenges.”

He also spoke about his cricketing idols. “Well! Cricketing idol, growing up for me was a lot of bowlers that I used to follow. Allan Donald’s run-up to the crease. I used to read Dennis Lillee’s book which is called ‘Art of fast bowling,” he mentioned.

“When I started playing cricket, I was a very keen reader of that book and I happened to spend some time with Lillee as well. So, he was right up there. I was fortunate enough to spend some time and get some valuable coaching lessons from him.”

News Cricket

Murali Vijay should have been given a longer run - Sunil Gavaskar

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 12:03 PM IST


Former Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar is miffed with selection policy of Team India. He expressed his displeasure at the constant chopping and changing of the playing XI, stating that this impacts the mindset of players who are despite good performances.

He further added someone like R Ashwin should play regularly.

“You don’t become ICC’s No. 1 Test bowler for nothing. He has the ability to pick wickets anywhere in the world. The team management has to understand this and back him,” he said.

He also gave example of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Murali Vijay to prove his point.

“I remember last year in South Africa Bhuvneshwar Kumar picked up a lot of wickets in the first Test, he really swung the ball but he was dropped for the next Test. Murali Vijay too I believe should have been given a longer run.

“Selection has to be in such a way that the confidence of the player is not down. I mean there may be communication inside the dressing room which we are certainly not aware,” he added.

News Cricket

Babar Azam is capable of scoring 200 in ODIs - Shahid Afridi

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 12:00 PM IST


Babar Azam scored a magnificent ton in the second ODI of the series against Sri Lanka. The right hand batsman was in full flow and became the fastest Asian batsman to complete 11 tons in one-day internationals.

He was also the highest run-scorer in the recently concluded T20 Blast in England. Former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi is mighty impressed with the young batsman.

“I say to Babar Azam I want you to play long innings and you are not just a 50 runs type player, rather you are capable of scoring 100, 150 or 200. You are the backbone of the team and a consistent performer for Pakistan” said Afridi as quoted by Pakistan journalist Saj Sadiq in his tweet.

Meanwhile, Babar has credited England's county circuit for his exceptional form.

“The time I spent in the county game this season made a big difference,” Babar Azam said after the second ODI. “There was a lot I learned there; I went after just a week’s rest at the end of the World Cup. I played 14 matches against quality opposition, and that helped quite a lot.”

News Cricket

Rohit Sharma is the real GOAT - Yuzvendra Chahal

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 11:57 AM IST


Rohit Sharma scored a century in his test debut as an opener as India reached 202-0 at stumps with rain preventing any play in the final session on Day 1 of the first test against South Africa.

Sharma had never opened even in domestic first-class cricket apart from his two-ball duck for the Indian Board President's XI against South Africans last week.

He was unbeaten on 115 — his fourth test century — with 12 fours and five sixes.

Earlier, India won the toss and opted to bat. Sharma and Agarwal, India's ninth different opening pairing in 24 tests since July 2017, took the hosts to 91-0 at lunch in 30 overs.

Vernon Philander (0-34) was impressive with the new ball but couldn't claim a wicket.

The openers batted slowly through the first hour but picked up pace thereafter. Sharma reached his half-century off 84 balls before lunch. Offspinner Dane Piedt (0-43) went for more than six runs per over.

India scored 111 runs in the afternoon session.

Rohit close friend Yuzvendra Chahal posted a picture of the Indian opener and wrote: "Real G.O.A.T".

Feature Cricket

A classy player will excel in any format

Partab Ramchand Updated: 3 October, 2019, 11:36 AM IST


You can’t hide class. A classy player will excel in any situation, any position in the batting order and in any format. Rohit Sharma emphasized this on Wednesday. Going in to bat he was clearly under tremendous pressure and it mattered little that he has been around for a dozen years at the international level. He was asked to do a specialist job for the first time in the traditional format of the game, his record in Test cricket was erratic and there was so much talk about him being pushed up the order with the experts weighing the pros and cons. Moreover he was up against two bowlers Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada who had dismissed him three times each mainly for low scores in Tests.

Besides the obvious class and skill, technique and experience you need nerves of steel to come good under these circumstances and Rohit showed that when it comes to temperament he is second to none. Hailing from the Bombay school of batting he should have been a natural for Test cricket. But somehow batting in the middle order he often flattered only to deceive and his approach must have been frustrating for his backers who always knew he was a class act and there was no reason why he should not translate his great deeds in ODIs to the traditional format. They believed that he had it in him to succeed in Test cricket but a series of low scores – particularly abroad – raised a lot of doubts as to his capabilities. No less a personality than Ian Chappell had predicted great things for Rohit when he saw him for the first time on the tour of Australia in 2007-08. The former Australian captain too was left wondering why he was not successful in Test cricket when he had the game for it.

Well, now we have the answer. Rohit was destined for greatness at the top of the order and not lower down. The closest parallel would be Virender Sehwag who like Rohit started his Test career with a hundred on debut in the middle order and then was asked to open since he was too good a player to be left out but as the middle order had the houseful board firmly stuck on it – Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman – he was pushed to open the innings in England in 2002. He made such a success of it that this is where he stayed for the rest of his career running up an average of 50 and hitting two triple hundreds.

Rohit’s success means that the top order is well served with Mayank Agarwal too coming good, Shubman Gill waiting in the wings while Prithvi Shaw will be available hopefully soon. But the key figure now will always be Rohit who bids fair to become another Sehwag. He has certainly started on the right note.

News Cricket

I was preparing for 2 years to open in Tests – Rohit Sharma

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 10:57 AM IST


Rohit Sharma scored a century in his test debut as an opener as India reached 202-0 at stumps with rain preventing any play in the final session on Day 1 of the first test against South Africa on Wednesday.

Sharma had never opened even in domestic first-class cricket apart from his two-ball duck for the Indian Board President's XI against South Africans last week.

He was unbeaten on 115 — his fourth test century — with 12 fours and five sixes. Mayank Agarwal also turned on the aggression, reaching 84 not out with 11 fours and two sixes as South Africa failed to break through in its 59.1 overs.

"I was told in West Indies (about opening in this series). I was prepared for the past two years. It's about mentally training your mind more than anything else," said Sharma. "I prefer opening the innings and going out to bat without thinking too much. I was very clear in my mind about how I wanted to bat."

He thanked the team management for providing him with the opportunity to open the innings.

"I wanted to take the opportunity and that's why I made the management aware of it. I am grateful to them for providing me with the opportunity and I am happy I could score runs," Rohit told reporters.

News Cricket

I urge other teams to come and play in Pakistan – Lahiru Thirimanne

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 10:18 AM IST


Gunathilaka anchored Sri Lanka to a healthy total by featuring in three half-century stands.

Gunathilaka added 88 runs for the second-wicket stand with captain Lahiru Thirimanne (36) before adding further 50 runs with Angelo Perera (13) _ one of the three changes Sri Lanka had made from the second ODI.

But the innings got the real momentum when Gunathilaka put on a better than run a ball 74 runs with debutante wicketkeeper-batsman Minod Bhanuka (36).

Gunathilaka reached his second ODI century off 100 balls when he drove left-arm fast bowler Usman Shinwari to deep point for a single.

Pakistan got a chance to dismiss Gunathilaka but Haris dropped a sitter at point before Mohammad Amir (3-50) had the left-hander clean bowled off a full pitched delivery.

But Dasun Shanaka (43 off 24 balls), who scored a half century in the second ODI on Monday, took charge in the last six overs as Pakistan was let down by sloppy ground fielding.

Wahab Riaz (1-81) was smashed for 37 runs in his last three overs with Shanaka hitting four boundaries and two sixes off the left-arm seamer. Wahab finally deceived Shanaka off a slower last delivery and had him caught at extra cover of the last delivery.

Both teams will now compete in three Twenty20s at Lahore, starting from Saturday.

It is the first time since Sri Lanka's team bus was attacked in Lahore in 2009 that a foreign team is conducting a two-week tour of Pakistan.

Major teams have avoided the country since the ambush that killed eight people and injured several players.

“I am really proud of my team, they fought hard and scored 297, but (in bowling) we didn’t execute our plans in the first 10-15 overs,” Sri Lanka captain Lahiru Thirimanne said.

“It’s very exciting to be here, my first time in Pakistan and I encourage other teams to come and play here,” he added.

News Cricket

Rohit Sharma shines as Test opener, scores ton in first innings against South Africa

AP Updated: 2 October, 2019, 2:10 PM IST


Rohit Sharma overcame a nervous start to stroke his first century in his new role as an opener as India reached 202 without loss in 59 overs on the first day of the test series against South Africa.

Opening the innings in a test for the first time, Sharma hit 5 sixes and 12 boundaries and was unbeaten on 115 from 174 balls at the time of penning down. Mayank Agarwal was batting on 84 not out.

It's the first test since Sunil Gavaskar and Ramnath Parkar paired up against England in 1972-73 that India has selected two fresh openers in a home test match.

The new duo appeared to be unsure at the crease in the early overs when Sharma struggled against Vernon Philander (0-19), who used the new ball to good effect and hit a brilliant length outside off.

Sharma played and missed a couple of times as he worked hard to counter the little movement Philander generated. At the other end, Kagiso Rabada (0-16) tested Agarwal with some short bowling but without success.

India made slow progress in the first hour, scoring only 37 runs off 15 overs.

The South Africans introduced spin in the ninth over via left-armer Keshav Maharaj (0-26). With spinners operating in tandem after the drinks' break, the openers found their rhythm and opened up. Sharma, in particular, changed gears quickly and smashed Maharaj for a six.

He hit a second six off Dane Piedt (0-20), who also conceded a six to Agarwal as India upped the scoring rate and took 54 runs in the second hour of play.

Sharma and Agarwal, India's ninth different opening pairing in 24 tests since July 2017.

News Cricket

Ravi Shastri heaps praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his initiatives

Staff Writer Updated: 2 October, 2019, 10:59 AM IST


Former Indian player and current head coach of Team India, Ravi Shastri has lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiative of Fit India Movement and the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. He has urged the Indians to support both the initiatives of Prime Minister.

"On the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, join me for a unique combination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiative - the Fit India movement and the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan," he said.

India are currently engaged in a three-match Test series against South Africa. Virat Kohli-led team is currently leading the World Test Championship and if they manage to whitewash South Africa, their position will consolidate further in the championship.

News Cricket

More bad news for Team India as Hardik Pandya aggravates back injury

Staff Writer Updated: 2 October, 2019, 10:58 AM IST


Hardik Pandya is one of the most important members of India across formats. The all-round star has carved a niche for himself after putting in match winning performances. However, he is struggling with a back problem and might miss the Bangladesh series.

He will soon fly to the UK to meet the doctor who had treated him after the Asia Cup. His comeback date is still not clear.

Hardik is also set to go the United Kingdom to consult the same doctor, who had treated him during the first injury post Asia Cup. He is certainly not playing the Bangladesh series but how long he will be out is still not clear. We will know after he comes back from the United Kingdom,” a senior BCCI official said as quoted by Times of India.

According to sources, Hardik will have to undergo back surgery which can sideline him for over five months.

News Cricket

My fights with Shahid Afridi were personal – Gautam Gambhir

Staff Writer Updated: 2 October, 2019, 10:55 AM IST


Gautam Gambhir, the former Indian opener, achieved a lot during his playing days. His knocks in the finale of T20 World Cup and 2011 World Cup were one of the main reasons behind India's triumphs. His verbal slugfest with Shahid Afridi are talk of the town. Their hate relationship started in 2007 when India went to Pakistan.

Earlier, this year the former Pakistan skipper wrote in his autobiography that Gambhir has an attitude problem. During one of the recent interviews, Gambhir spoke about his relationship with Shahid Afridi.

“I have had decent relationships with Pakistani players, off the field, but not with Shahid Afridi. So that is the reason we got personal. Some fights do get personal, and there is nothing wrong with that. It has been like that for a very long time. Sometimes it is nice to get personal with someone.” former Indian player told Indian Express.

News Cricket

Anil Kumble to coach Kings XI Punjab?

Staff Writer Updated: 2 October, 2019, 10:52 AM IST


Former India skipper and coach, Anil Kumble is on the verge of returning to coaching with the IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab. As per Mumbai Mirror, Kumble is in talks with the management of the franchise and a final decision will be taken when the board members of the franchise meet soon.

He has worked with Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the past.

Mike Hesson was KXIP coach in the previous season but he left his job. George Bailey, the former Aussie player, who has played for Kings XI Punjab, has agreed to join the franchise as their batting coach.

The auction for IPL 2020 will take place in Kolkata on December 19. The trading window is open till November 14.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli meets super fan, who considers the Indian skipper his god

Staff Writer Updated: 2 October, 2019, 10:49 AM IST


India skipper Virat Kohli is leading India in the ongoing Test series against South Africa. Ahead of the first Test, Virat Kohli met one of his craziest fans whose body his covered with the tattoos of the India skipper. Pintu Behra who hails from Odisha has a huge tattoo of No.18 on his back.

He got the opportunity to meet Virat Kohli during the last practice session before the first Test match and even got a hug from the star batsman.

"People get tattoos as fashion or to show respect to god. Kohli is my god and this is my way of showing my love and respect for him and how he plays his cricket. Whatever he has achieved so far or done on the field that I liked, I got it inked,” Behra was quoted as saying.

“The first one I got was in 2016 and I have been adding to that since. In total now I have 15. The first one I got was his face on my right chest and the latest has been the World Cup.”