Have the ODIs Lost the Battle to the Pandemic?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 12 January, 2021, 11:56 AM IST

Virat Kohli, for one, did not see the merit of playing the fifty overs format in the year of the ICC Twenty20 World Cup. That was last year. But has anything changed, looking at the itinerary ahead?

The fifty over game recently celebrated its still relatively young fifty years old story last week but without as much as a blink of notice, let alone fanfare. Birthed as a novel form of entertainment back in 1971 during a rained off Test, the one-day internationals came to occupy a center position on the stage. That was until a decade ago when the Twenty20 came to become the golden goose and catch the prize.

For boards such as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the Twenty20 was a reluctant stepchild whose own devious means to capture a fair share of the monetary market made it suddenly the child the sport had always wanted. For the International Cricket Council (ICC), the Twenty20 had become their way of holding their own against this uprising of club level Twenty20 tournaments around the world and also, as a crutch to keep their global ambitions alive in their vain attempt to keep the aspiring associate members happy for participating opportunities.

Kohli, already complaining about an extended workload in international cricket, was categorical about the fifty overs game being a waste of time in a year when the cricket teams were to play in yet another edition of the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Australia. However, while the pandemic put paid to the World Cup, the IPL went ahead, showing the money invested versus money earned scenario blatantly revealed by the intentions not only of the BCCI but also, Cricket Australia who preferred to host a bilateral tour with India rather than host the World Cup, the pandemic rise, not the only problem but also, the return on investment.

With the pandemic having thrown the ICC’s plans out of gear, there is now the prospect of consecutive years of World Cups, Twenty20 being at the forefront of it. With the ICC forced to appeal the BCCI in lieu of the cancelled of the ICC Champions Trophy and CA still keen to host the Twenty20 World Cup in another year, there is almost a sense of redundancy to the concept of a World Cup even before the circus has begun.

There were also issues when the Asia Cup, which eventually did not get underway either last year, was converted from a fifty overs format to a Twenty20 format to serve the purpose of a warm-up to the big event, that perhaps the fifty overs format is being given a rather step-motherly treatment. Considered an important bridge between being a cricket aspirant and being a member of the top league of cricket playing nations, the associate members have been up in arms in vain to prevent the ICC, under duress, to cull them from participating in the fifty overs World Cup format which is still considered prime property when it comes to World Cup legacy in this format.

While the World Cup might be considered the pinnacle of multi-team tournaments in the game of cricket, the ODI’s might continue to feel the squeeze as cricket makes up for the lost time.

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Mohammad Amir ready to come out of retirement on this condition

Vedant Yadav Updated: 18 January, 2021, 5:17 PM IST

Mohammad Amir, who blamed the current team management for his shock retirement, on Monday, said he would be available to play for Pakistan again only after the support staff led by head coach Misbah-ul-Haq exits.

Having already hung his boots from Test cricket, the 28-year-old quit international cricket last month alleging mental torture by the board. He had also blamed Misbah and bowling coach Waqar Younis for spoiling his image.

"I would like to clarify that yes I will be available for Pakistan only once this management leaves. so please stop spreading fake news just to sell your story," Amir tweeted in response to rumours on his comeback.

Last week, he had also highlighted the need for a change in the environment of the Pakistan dressing room.

"Give players some space and freedom. Put an end to this scary environment in the dressing room, these very players will win you matches," Amir had told the media.

In 2019, Amir had quit Test cricket to focus on white-ball cricket as he felt his body could not take the load of playing all the formats. He bagged 119 wickets from 36 Tests after making his debut in 2009.

In 2010, Amir was banned from cricket for 5 years, having played his part in a spot-fixing scandal. He had announced his retirement from all formats after being dropped for the tour of New Zealand, last month.

Report: Team India likely to pull out of Asia Cup 2021

Vedant Yadav Updated: 18 January, 2021, 4:50 PM IST

The Virat Kohli-led Team India side is unlikely to take part in the Asia Cup 2021 as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is reportedly keen on pulling out of the marquee event. Following the postponement of several marquee series and events last year due to the ongoing coronavirus, the 'Men in Blue' have a pretty hectic schedule in 2021.

The Indian team pulling out of the tournament also means that the marquee clash arch-rivals Pakistan will not be taking place, at least for this year. Apart from the white-ball world cups, Asia Cup is the only marquee event where India and Pakistan take on each other on the international circuit.

Both team last met at the Old Trafford Stadium in the 2019 World Cup fixture, which India won by 89 runs (DLS) after the rain had interrupted the proceeding in Manchester. Notably, Rohit Sharma had scored a 140 in the match.

As per a report filed by the Times of India, it has been learned that the BCCI can make up for India's non-involvement in the Asia Cup by compensating the broadcasters with the bilateral series that were either cancelled or postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic.

If reports are to be believed, the Asia Cup is likely to clash with the inaugural ICC Test Championship final, and Virat and his men are one of the favourites to enter the summit clash.

"Further, the Asia Cup - even if it was scheduled - would've probably been played around the same time as the ICC Test Championship final. If India don't make the final, the industry would've preferred the Asia Cup instead. Now, the chance of such a thing happening looks bleak so it's a kind of catch-22 right now," a source close to the developments told the TOI.

The defending champions' withdrawal from the competition might also upset the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Pakistan was set to host the 2019 edition of the tournament and the PCB also opted to organise the Asia Cup at a neutral venue (UAE) before Sri Lanka were made the hosts of the tournament.

Watch - Mohammed Siraj gets standing ovation after maiden 5-wicket haul

Garima Kotroo Updated: 18 January, 2021, 4:07 PM IST

India pacer, Mohammed Siraj was the pick of the Indian bowlers on the fourth day of the fourth Test against Australia in Brisbane. Siraj, who made his Test debut in the second match of the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Melbourne, picked up his maiden five-wicket-haul on Monday. Courtesy of Siraj's brilliant spell, the hosts were bundled for 294 in the second innings after scoring 369 in their first.

Siraj dismissed the likes of Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Starc, and Josh Hazlewood to keep the Australians at bay.

His performance earned him a lot of praise from many fans and cricketers. Even the injured speedster Jasprit Bumrah applauded the 26-year-old bowler and gave him a warm hug for his achievement.

Taking to its official Twitter handle, the BCCI recently shared a video of Mohammed Siraj getting a standing ovation by Indian contingent after his magnificent 5-wicket haul.

Siraj has become the 5th Indian bowler to scalp 5 wickets at the Gabba. With figures of 5/73, he has now joined the likes of Erapalli Prasanna (6/104), Bishan Singh Bedi (5/57), Madan Lal (5/72), and Zaheer Khan (5/95).

Former India all-rounder, Irfan Pathan praised the pacer. “Having to toil in first-class cricket is so important. It shows in both, Siraj and Shardul Thakur’s performance. You could bowl spells after spells in test matches if you have done that regularly in domestic cricket. Well done to both of them!”

Bad news for Australia: Mitchell Starc walks off holding his hamstring

Vedant Yadav Updated: 18 January, 2021, 4:03 PM IST

Australia could find themselves a pacer shot ahead of the final day of play of the ongoing fourth and final Test in Brisbane after Mitchell Starc walked away clutching his hamstring at the Gabba.

Having missed a chance to take a 2-1 lead in the third Test, Aussies need 10 wickets to win the series and regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. If Starc is restricted or unable to bowl, having walked off the pitch holding his hamstring, it won't do Australia any favours.

However, Steve Smith, during a chat with the Sydney Morning Herald, said that he's hopeful that Starc will take the field on the final day. "He was grabbing at his right hamstring, I think it was," Steve Smith said after rain forced early stumps on Day 4.

"I'm sure he'll get it assessed. But one thing I know about Mitchell is he's tough and he's played through some injuries before so he'll be good to go hopefully tomorrow," Smith added.

Starc's absence might also boost India's chances of taking an unlikely win, breaching the Brisbane fortress. Notably, Australia are unbeaten in 31 Tests at the Gabba. Nonetheless, the visitors have a huge mountain to climb on Day 5.

Moreover, Pat Cummins also didn’t take the field in the 2nd innings which left the Australian fans concerned. The No. 1 Test bowler was hit on the elbow by Mohammed Siraj but the injury didn't seem serious as he was seen sitting in the dugout.

Ajinkya Rahane and his men need 324 runs on the final day to win the Test and retain the prestigious Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which they won back in the 2018-19 tour Down Under. The visitors are currently 4/0 with Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill in the middle.

If my father was alive, he would’ve been so happy – Mohammed Siraj after taking five-wicket haul

AP Updated: 18 January, 2021, 3:47 PM IST

Mohammed Siraj didn't go home in November when his father died, deciding instead to stay in Australia and try to fulfil a dream for his late dad.

In a matter of weeks, he's been elevated from backup bowler — picked for the tour as cover following some injuries to veteran pacemen — to leading India's injury-depleted attack in the series-deciding test match at the Gabba.

He snared his maiden five-wicket haul on Monday, helping to dismiss Australia for 294 late on the penultimate day of the fourth and final test, leaving India a target of 328 to win.

“If he was alive, he would’ve been so happy," Siraj said. “But I had his blessings and that’s why I took five wickets today. I’m speechless today, about this performance. I don’t have many words.”

Siraj said he recalled a conversation with his mother, who encouraged him to stay our tour in Australia and to do his father proud.

“I spoke with my people at home. I felt strong after talking to my family, talking to my mother, and I was also strong mentally about this. My focus was to accomplish my dad’s wish for me. Thank God, it got accomplished today. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

The highest successful run chase at the Gabba was in 1951, when Australia finished 236-7 against the West Indies. The Australians haven’t lost at the Gabba since 1988, but nobody is counting India out.

And it's because of the way the likes of Siraj and the other players drafted in to fill voids left by the absence of regular starters have taken on the game that makes the tourists so much confidence.

The openers faced 1.5 overs before rain stopped play and India was four without loss — one scoring stroke from Rohit Sharma.

Stumps was called shortly after 5 p.m. local time, giving India three sessions, weather-permitting, to try to get 324 more runs.

Siraj put down two catches before picking up the key wicket of Steve Smith for 55 in the middle session.

Australia were 243-7 at tea on day four — a rain shower forcing an early break — with an overall lead of 276 and a declaration seemingly imminent.

But the hosts continued batting when play resumed in gloomy conditions in the evening session, adding a further 51 runs for three wickets.

Pat Cummins finished unbeaten on 28. Nathan Lyon, in his 100th test, took Australia's lead past 300 when he hooked a six off Siraj but was out soon after for 13, giving Thakur his fourth wicket of the innings and seventh of the match.

Thakur took the catch off Siraj's bowling to dismiss the last man Josh Hazlewood (9). Siraj, leading the India attack in just his third test in the injury-enforced absence of Jasprit Bumrah and spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, returned 5-73 for his career-best figures.