Men in Blue finally have the coolest, most bindaas fan

Harshit Anand Updated: 3 July, 2019, 11:16 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Cricket transcends boundaries of age, sex, caste, religion and what not. It's such a beautiful sport that those watching it are ready to go miles as such is the joy it exudes for its viewers.

In yesterday's game of India, which took place against Bangladesh at Edgbaston, an elderly lady as old as 87, who has been identified as Charulata Patel came cheering for the Men in Blue and caught everyone's attention. It so such an amazing sight that someone as old as her came cheering for the team.

Players were so touched by her presence that Indian skipper and vice-captain, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma went to meet her after India defeated Bangladesh by 28 runs to ensure a place in the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Twitter was also engrossed by her presence in the stands. Take a look at how Twitter reacted:

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News Cricket

Ishant Sharma’s addition to make Indian bowling attack more lethal - Ross Taylor

Abhishek Singh Updated: 19 February, 2020, 5:28 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor believes Ishant Sharma’s addition to Indian lineup will give the Indian bowling a more dynamic shape. “I think if we just look at Bumrah, we are in trouble. I think their whole bowling lineup is fantastic. Obviously, Sharma coming back will bring new dynamics to the team,” Taylor told reporters on Wednesday.

“They have got a world-class batting line-up as well and we have to get through that. But they are the No. 1 team in the world for a reason and we know we have to be on our game to be successful against them,” he added.

With the first Test, Ross Taylor will become the first player in the world to play a hundred matches in all the formats. He has already competed in 231 ODIs and 100 T20 Internationals.

Had the Christchurch Test against Bangladesh not been canceled due to terror attack, Taylor would have played his 100th Test in Sydney last year. It eventually became his 99th and he couldn’t be happier to play the big game in front of friends and family.

“I don’t know if I have enough tickets for them all, they are all coming out of the woodwork! All the old coaches and things like that. This is just to thank them for all the sacrifices they have made,” he said.

News Cricket

I am not starring in any web series - Yuvraj Singh

Abhishek Singh Updated: 19 February, 2020, 5:01 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India’s former all-rounder Yuvraj Singh has rubbished all the rumors of him starring in a web series. The former cricketer took to twitter to tarnish all such claims and stated, "Just to put some things in to correct perspective with regards to the recent news on me making a debut into web series is factually incorrect, the web series features my younger brother and not me. I request all my friends in the media to take corrective measures on the same. Thank You."

The web series, however, will focus primarily on his younger brother Zoravar and will also see Yuvraj's mother, Shabnam Singh, associated with the project. In a recent press-conference, Shabnam had stated, "The central character of the web series is focused on my younger son Zoravar and as a mother, I am proud of both my sons and daughter-in-law."

On Tuesday (February 18), there were reports on several news portals that the former Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh is set to commence his acting career courtesy a web series, also featuring his younger brother Zoravar Singh and wife Hazel Ketch.

Yuvraj will next be seen in the Road Safety World Series along with a host of former international stars such as Virender Sehwag, Brett Lee, Sachin Tendulkar, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Zaheer Khan, and others.

News Cricket

Can’t wait to see beautiful Motera Stadium – Sourav Ganguly

Garima Kotroo Updated: 19 February, 2020, 4:58 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Motera Stadium, the largest cricket stadium of the world, will be opened in Ahmedabad on February 24. US President Donald Trump is expected to inaugurate the historic stadium with a capacity of more than 1, 10, 000 spectators at a time. The pictures of the newly-renovated venue have already created havoc on social media platforms. Even the BCCI President Sourav Ganguly couldn’t stop himself from reacting to the attractive pictures of Motera.

He wrote, “Lovely to see such a massive, pretty stadium . Ahmedabad.. Have great memories in this ground as a player ,captain ..grew up at Eden with hundred thousand capacity .. (not any more).. can’t wait to see this on 24th.”

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) recently shared the bird’s-eye view of the iconic stadium on social media. Taking to its official Twitter handle, BCCI wrote, “#MoteraStadium Ahmedabad, India Seating capacity of more than 1,10,000. World’s largest #cricket stadium.”

The world's largest stadium will accommodate two big practice grounds, four world-class dressing rooms, indoor practice pitches, 3D projector theatre and a clubhouse with 55 rooms.

In the newly revamped stadium in Ahmedabad, India are scheduled to play a pink-ball Test against England next year. Sourav Ganguly recently confirmed the news that Virat Kohli-led Team India will play a day-night Test against Australia and England in the upcoming series. "Day-night Test will happen and we will make a public announcement-the second Test against England next year. Yes, against Australia also."

News Cricket

Josh Hazlewood wants to ‘Mankad’ Cheteshwar Pujara

Garima Kotroo Updated: 19 February, 2020, 4:53 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Star Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood has revealed that he will ‘Mankad’ the Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara if he got a chance during the next Test series later this year. Indian team is scheduled to travel Australia for a four-match series in Whites in November.

When Hazlewood was asked about his opinion on ‘Mankading’ dismissal, the 29-year-old replied that he would save it for Pujara. During an event, Hazlewood said, “I reckon I’ll save that one for the next time ... at Pujara.”

Pujara was one of the best performers for Team India when they traveled to Australia last time and Hazlewood admitted the fact that Pujara is a great player when it comes to the red-ball cricket. The Australian also claimed that Pujara’s wicket will be most important when he will play against India.

“No definitely not. I probably see [Cheteshwar] Pujara as the big wicket as far as when I’m bowling, the glue that holds them together I think. He’s batted the most balls this series and scored nearly the most runs. I see Pujara as a big wicket and Ajinkya Rahane as well. So the No. 3, 4, 5 as the key wickets and we see it a bit unstable in the other parts of the order. Certainly, not all the focus is on Virat Kohli,”

Opinion Cricket

How Eoin Morgan can lift KKR in the upcoming edition of the IPL?

CT Contributor Updated: 19 February, 2020, 3:29 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan has presented himself with a second chance in the Indian Premier League (IPL). The hard-hitting southpaw was snapped by Kolkata Knight Riders for Rs 5.75 crore in the IPL 2020 auction in December. Morgan has been plundering runs for England of late and played an important role in the title-winning ICC World Cup 2019 campaign.

In the recently-concluded T20Is against South Africa, the experienced campaigner got scores of 52, 27 and 57* to showcase his T20I attributes. Notably, his unbeaten half-century helped England clinch the decider. With his side needing 223 runs to win in 20 overs, Morgan came in at number five and dished out a stellar performance. At 4/145, England needed a guiding light and Morgan ensured he stayed till the end and be the match-winner.

He smashed seven sixes in a 22-ball affair. The southpaw, who has 2,138 career T20I runs, registered his 13th fifty. Notably, Morgan is a floater and can bat anywhere in the middle order.

In the 13th edition of the IPL, two-time champions KKR, need someone like Morgan to use his skills and power them in the middle. Last season, the side paid the price for being too dependent on Andre Russell. However, with Morgan available, the side gets a major boost. With him and Russell in there, the side can wreck teams apart. Morgan is ideal as a player in any circumstance and can be the one who can keep up with the asking rate. He handles pressure beautifully.

In his first stint in the IPL, the left-handed batsman had featured for KKR and Sunrisers Hyderabad. He played in six seasons with his last outing coming in 2017. In 52 IPL matches, Morgan amassed 854 runs at 21.35. He has four fifties under his belt. However, he has been a supreme player since 2018 for England. In 2018, he was the fourth-highest run-scorer in ODIs for England. In 2019, he followed it up with another blistering show after being amongst the top run-getters for his side. As a T20I batsman, Morgan has been at the top-level as well.

The player needs to bank on his form and shrug off the results he endured in his first stint. With a champion leader in him, KKR get a useful resource who can stand up and deliver for the eastern giants.

Feature Cricket

Ross Taylor fourth New Zealander to play 100 Tests

Partab Ramchand Updated: 19 February, 2020, 3:26 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

He has been New Zealand’s batting bulwark since 2006. Across the three formats, he has been a source of strength to the New Zealand line-up.

Known for his power-packed shots and innovative strokeplay he is a natural for the shorter versions. But then he can also bat for long periods displaying the age-old qualities of dedication, determination and concentration and this also makes him ideal for the sport’s traditional format. He has seen it all while playing a notable role in New Zealand’s rise as a cricketing nation. And yet the Test against India at Wellington starting on Friday will be very special for Ross Taylor. It will be his 100th Test making him only the fourth New Zealander after Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum to achieve the feat.

New Zealand have produced a few outstanding batsmen and the names of Charlie Dempster, Martin Donnelly, Bert Sutcliffe, Glenn Turner and Martin Crowe come immediately to mind. Taylor takes his place among them. It didn’t take long for him to establish his credentials. In his third ODI he got an unbeaten 128, in the third T-20 that he batted he got a half-century and in his third Test, he scored a hundred.

The start was impressive enough but it wasn’t just the scores that caught the eye but his approach. There were no signs of nerves, he was a picture of confidence and it was clear that allied to his prodigious talent he had the impeccable technique and the unflappable temperament that could make him in racing parlance a stayer and not a sprinter. And he has certainly stayed the course being New Zealand’s most dependable batsman. Not every cricketer can he highly successful in all three formats but Taylor has proved to be adept in both Test cricket and the shorter versions.

Consider his record in the traditional format first. With a tally of 7174 runs, he is already New Zealand’s highest run-getter in Tests. And with 19 hundreds he is just below Kane Williamson’s tally of 21. His average of 46.28 is next only to Williamson’s 51.44. He has it in him to play long innings so typical of Test cricket. He has hit three double hundreds and in compiling 290 – his highest score – he batted almost 9-1/2 hours against Australia at Perth in 2015.

Again when it comes to ODIs Taylor with a tally of 8570 is the highest run-getter for New Zealand and this time he is the leading century-maker too with 21. His highest score of 181 not out is next only to Martin Guptill’s two scores of 189 not out and 237 not out among New Zealanders. A strike rate of 83.5 – allied to an average of 48.7 - across 231 ODIs is highly acceptable. And in the newest format, he has been perfectly at home with his tally of 1909 runs putting him in the top 12 of run-getters in T-20 internationals with his strike rate of 122 being an embellishment

News Cricket

It is hard to beat New Zealand at home - Shane Bond ahead of the first Test against India

Garima Kotroo Updated: 19 February, 2020, 3:24 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Team India has ticked most of the boxes in a three-day warm-up game ahead of the Test series against New Zealand. While the batsmen performed well for their side, bowlers too looked in a good rhythm against New Zealand XI. Virat Kohli’s troops, who are invincible in the ongoing World Test Championship, are confident to dominate the hosts in the upcoming two-match series.

However, the former Kiwi pacer Shane Bond reckoned that New Zealand will give a tough fight to the visitors in the two games as it is hard to beat Kiwis at their own den.

“New Zealand is hard to beat at home. Recently, they beat England. It will be a tightly-contested series as New Zealand have great variety in their bowling attack. Neil [Wagner] will test with short balls. [Tim] Southee has got swing and [Kyle] Jamieson has both pace and swing. They are a different kind of bowling unit.”

Speaking about the possible bowling combination which could be tried by the skipper Kane Williamson in Wellington, Bond added, “I won’t be surprised if New Zealand don’t play a spinner. Personally, I wouldn’t have played a spinner as they will just have a holding role. They could go with five fast bowlers, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Kyle Jamieson, and De Grandhomme.”

The first Test is scheduled to be held at the Basin Reserve in Wellington and will start from February 21.

Feature Cricket

Rishabh Pant: The Wrong Poster Boy for the Under-19’s?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 19 February, 2020, 3:21 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

For every Virat Kohli that makes it, there is an Unmukt Chand waiting in the wings to get there. With the Indian cricket’s under-19 team has once again done well at the World Cup, the onus is now on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to ensure that talent does not fall through the cracks or simply warming the bench as Rishabh Pant was in the first half of the tour of New Zealand.

The under-19 World Cup admittedly ended on a disturbing note as some of the Indian cricketers locked horns with the pumped up Bangladesh cricketers. While that has, to a huge extent, overshadowed the highlights from the tournament, it would be easy to miss the takeaways.

For one, the talent that comes through from the grassroots into the under-19 level often does not transition to the big leagues and international level. It is a perennial problem, and not limited to the Indian context alone. Often it has been said that the leap from the under-19 level to the men’s team is too wide a chasm for more cricketers to successfully bridge.

In that light, while there is a lineup of talent coming through, much more needs to be done to ensure that there is a healthy competition for berths. Emphasizing on the need to put in the time at the domestic cricket and the first-class level to be given priority in that regard, this is of greater concern as players such as Rishabh Pant are having to learn early the pitfalls of fame at the highest level without a clear cut plan on the part of the team management and the selectors about whether to keep the player on tour and not play him as India did in the first part of the tour of New Zealand involving the limited-overs matches or as Ravi Shastri previously suggested to send him back to domestic cricket. The current situation reeks of doublespeak and players must have better-coping skills by the time they reach this level.

The Bangladesh under-19 cricketers who got into a fracas with the Indian under-19 team at the end of a testy final in the recently concluded ICC under019 World Cup spoke about revenge and how they felt they had to behave in the way they felt slighted by the Indian team in previous encounters. While the Bangladesh players may or may not have their reasons, the fact remains that these young cricketers, easily influenced by the lure of Twenty20 in the form of the Indian Premier League (IPL), need to be groomed technically as well as temperamentally to take on the international game on their own terms.

It is easy for players to get disillusioned when so young and also, with the IPL providing greater fame and money, it is easy for these players to throw away their talent and go through the grind to represent the national team at the highest level.

To that end, the goal has to be for more players to make the upper tier but also, to have the wherewithal to withstand the highs and lows that come with the game. Pant’s early days in international cricket, despite his successes, should not become the norm for young players coming through the ranks. For that not only the under-19 players need to be guided, but also, the team management and the selectors need to come on board with a plan and policy to ensure what has happened to Pant in the limited-overs leg of New Zealand should not be the case for other young impressionable cricketers.

News Cricket

Babar Azam is as good as Virat Kohli - Aakash Chopra

Abhishek Singh Updated: 19 February, 2020, 3:18 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Indian cricketer turned commentator and cricket pundit, Aakash Chopra has said that Pakistan batsman, Babar Azam must be included in the fab four as he has proved himself over the time. Not only that, the former Delhi batsman went on to claim that Babar Azam stands shoulder to shoulder with Indian captain Virat Kohli.

“I would keep Pakistan’s Babar Azam in the fab four. He stands shoulder to shoulder with India’s Virat Kohli. He is the number one batsman in T20Is, number-three in ODIs and number five in Test cricket. If you are in the top five in all three formats then how can you not be in the fab four of world cricket? He should be included in the fab four a 120 percent,” said Chopra on his YouTube channel.

The fab four usually comprises of premier batsmen - Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, and Joe Root.

“Everyone around the globe believes that Kohli, Williamson, Smith, and Root are the most talented batsmen in the world. That is why they are the current fab four of international cricket. But is this right?”, he said. “In Test cricket, you could maybe agree. But I think if we look across all three formats, a new fab four can be made,” Chopra added.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli pondering retirement after the World Cup

Abhishek Singh Updated: 19 February, 2020, 2:18 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian Captain Virat Kohli has hinted that he might consider retiring from at least one format of the game after the 2023 One Day World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in India. Kohli has set himself a target of giving his best in three years to follow from now.

"My mindset is on the bigger picture as I prepare myself for a rigorous three years from now and after that, we might have a different conversation," Kohli said at the press conference.

"I can keep going on with the same intensity and also understand that the team wants a lot of my contribution in the next two to three years so that I can ease into another transition that we faced five-six years ago," the 30-year-old said while referring to the retirements of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and VVS Laxman.

The Indian batsman went on to describe how fatigue has been plaguing the cricketers and leading to them seeking respite from it in the form of small breaks.

"It is around eight years now that I have been playing 300 days a year, which includes traveling and practice sessions. And intensity is right up there all the time. It does take a toll on you," the Indian captain said.

The Indian team will next take on New Zealand in a two-match Test series beginning from February 21.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli drops hint on India’s playing XI against New Zealand ahead of the first Test

Garima Kotroo Updated: 19 February, 2020, 12:45 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian skipper Virat Kohli has dropped enough hints to specify that experienced pacer Ishant Sharma and young opener Prithvi Shaw will be a part of playing XI against New Zealand in the upcoming Test opener. The 31-year-old batsman said that Ishant, who was out of action for three weeks due to his ankle injury, seems to be back in his old form as he is hitting the right areas with some good pace and bounce. Kohli believes that Ishant’s experience of playing Test cricket on New Zealand soil could help India to win the games in the upcoming series.

“He (Ishant) looked pretty normal and pretty similar to what he was bowling before the ankle injury. He is hitting good areas again and he has played (Test cricket) in New Zealand a couple of times, so his experience will be useful to us. It was really good to see him bowling with pace and in good areas.”

Kohli then also backed the young opener Prithvi Shaw who slammed a brilliant century during India A’s practice game against New Zealand XI in Lincoln. The skipper stated that Shaw is a talented player and he should follow his instincts whenever he walks out to bat.

“Prithvi is a talented player and he has his own game and we want him to follow his instincts and play the way he does. Look, these guys have no baggage and are not desperate to perform in any manner.”

News Cricket

Going back: Upswing in foreigners for Pakistan's T20 league

AP Updated: 19 February, 2020, 10:32 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Security concerns stopped foreign cricketers from touring Pakistan four years ago when the country's premier domestic Twenty20 tournament was launched, forcing organizers to stage the event on neutral turf in the United Arab Emirates.

When the 2020 edition of the Pakistan Super League starts in Karachi on Thursday, Darren Sammy of the West Indies and Shane Watson of Australia will be among 36 foreign cricketers involved in the six franchises.

“The foreign players coming is a huge bonus for us,” Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan told the Associated Press. “It’s a massive step forward because they (foreign players) clearly believe that it’s safe to be here for 4-5 weeks.”

The return of international cricket has been a slow process in Pakistan following a terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team's bus in Lahore during a test series in 2009.

For this T20 event, the PCB has worked with the Federation of International Cricketers Association and also shared its security plans with foreign stars to make them feel safe in Pakistan.

“We firmly believe now that we are in a good position," Wasim said. “We're delighted there are so many players coming here and it’s a great endorsement for us as a country.”

Pakistan cricket went into isolation for more than six years after the attack near Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in 2009.

There was a ray of hope in 2015 when Zimbabwe toured for limited-overs series but it wasn’t enough for the Pakistan to host its first PSL tournament the following year, forcing organizers to stage it in the UAE.

In 2017, the PSL final was played at a packed Gaddafi Stadium, in stark contrast to the group-stage matches that were contested in mostly empty venues in the UAE.

Over the next two years, a World XI, Sri Lanka and the West Indies also played limited-overs matches in Pakistan, and more PSL games were staged in Lahore and Karachi.

The PCB overcame another barrier when it hosted test matches last year in Pakistan for the first time in a decade. Pakistan successfully hosted two tests against Sri Lanka in December and, after a lot of negotiations, last month managed to convince Bangladesh to play a test in Rawalpindi.

All the ‘cricket comes home’ activities, of course, require heavy security surrounding the foreign teams, with the kind of armed security and road closures usually reserved for visiting heads of state . Visiting players have had virtually no movement outside the team hotels or match venues — although a few Sri Lanka players went to a shopping mall while they stayed in the federal capital.

But Wasim believes that over time, the blanket security can be eased and players will feel more relaxed.

“Certainly it’s something that we are looking at,” he said. “The more we play at home, the more confidence people have, the better it will become. We certainly can’t sustain state-level security."

More freedom of movement for visiting players and ensuring costs for security don't overburden federal and local governments has to be balanced, Wasim said, with “making sure we never become complacent and we provide the right level of security.”

In a bid to reassure cricket officials from countries such as Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa about the security situation, Pakistan invited the Marylebone Cricket Club — the guardians of the laws of cricket — for limited-overs matches in Lahore.

Led by ex-Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara, who is also MCC president, the players have had VIP-level security, which is a slightly lower level than that provided to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka squads for recent series.

“MCC have played golf ... so we’ve given them level of freedom which under VIP status you can afford. Certainly that’s something that we wish to moving forward as well,” Wasim said.

Sangakkara has also backed Pakistan’s efforts to resume international cricket in Pakistan.

“Security is always a major concern everywhere is the world,” Sangakkara said. “In Pakistan I think the steps that have been taken over the past few years have instilled great amounts of confidence in the cricketing nations beyond the shores of Pakistan and slowly but surely that confidence is building up.

“The more times international sides tour that message becomes stronger and becomes harder to ignore.”

And Wasim believes the need for Pakistan to ‘host’ international cricket series in neutral countries is closer to ending.

“There’s no reason for us to play anywhere else now,” Wasim said. “Cricket has firmly resumed within the country and we fully expect this to be the way moving forward.”

News Cricket

I didn’t respond to sledge because of Dravid and Tendulkar sir - Yashasvi Jaiswal

Garima Kotroo Updated: 19 February, 2020, 10:30 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The grand finale of ICC Under-19 World Cup between India and Bangladesh turned out to be a heated affair as both the sides were involved in a scuffle after the conclusion of the game. The International Cricket Council (ICC) even levied sanctions on 5 cricketers for their offensive behavior on the field.

Amid all the aggression between both the teams, Yashasvi Jaiswal looked calm and didn’t respond to any of the sledge. The young opener played an impressive knock of 88 runs on the tricky pitch of Senwes Park in South Africa.

In his recent interview with Times of India, Jaiswal revealed the reason behind his smiling face during the heated finale.

He said, “That was because of Dravid sir (Rahul Dravid) and Sachin sir (Sachin Tendulkar). They always told me one thing - ‘talk with your bat, not with your mouth’. So, I always keep that advice on top of my list. And that’s why I stayed calm and didn’t respond to any of the sledge (in the final against Bangladesh). That’s why I was smiling. I wanted to bat for long and put as many runs on the board. This was the only thing going in my mind at that point of time.”

News Cricket

Stop the trade if India and Pakistan can’t play bilateral series - Shoaib Akhtar

Garima Kotroo Updated: 19 February, 2020, 10:29 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar recently came forward to take a stand for the resumption of the bilateral cricketing ties between India and Pakistan. Both countries have not played any bilateral series since 2012. The last time when these two nations played a Test match was back in 2007.

In his latest YouTube video, Akhtar said cricket should not get impacted by the current political tension between the two countries and they should play a bilateral series in the future.

“We can play Davis Cup, we can play Kabaddi with each other then what’s wrong with cricket? I understand India can’t come to Pakistan, Pakistan can’t go to India but we play Asia Cup, Champions Trophy on neutral venues, can’t we do the same for bilateral series?”

“We are one of the best hospitable nations in the world and India have seen it first hands. Ask the likes of Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar we love them like anything. Cricket should not get affected by the differences between us. Hopefully, India and Pakistan can play a bilateral series soon and it’s important for both countries to have a tough competition between them.”

Akhtar also went on to say that all ties should be cut off between both the countries if India and Pakistan cannot play cricket.

“If you want to cut the ties then stop the trade, stop playing Kabaddi. Why only cricket? We eat onions and tomatoes, we exchange pleasantries then why can’t we play cricket?”

Apart from the Rawalpindi Express, former Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh and former Pakistani skipper Shahid Afridi have also thrown their weight behind India-Pakistan bilateral series.

Feature Cricket

Ashwin or Jadeja – The debate continues

Partab Ramchand Updated: 18 February, 2020, 5:28 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

To have a world-class all-rounder in your midst is the desire of every international team. The Indian team is doubly fortunate that it has not just one but two such cricketers in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Both playing in the Test eleven not only makes the spin attack competitive but also bolsters the late order batting.

However it appears that a stage has been reached when both players cannot figure in the playing eleven – at least not when the team is playing abroad. At home, two pacemen and two spinners is the norm but in away games more often than not the strategy is to field three pacers and only one spinner which is why either Ashwin or Jadeja has had to make way.

There was a time when Ashwin was a regular in all three formats his more than useful batting and the immense variety in his bowling making him an invaluable member of the team. Then he went off the radar as far as the selectors were concerned in the two shorter formats. Ashwin hasn’t played an ODI or a T-20 international since mid-2017. He, of course, continues to be a must in the Test side though here again Jadeja has often been preferred when it comes to playing alone spinner abroad. In the last few Tests in the West Indies and Australia Jadeja has got the nod over Ashwin though prior to that a couple of seasons ago in South Africa it was the latter who played as the lone spinner.

Jadeja continues to be a regular member of the side in the two shorter formats thanks to his belligerent batting, accurate bowling and electrifying fielding – the one department that Ashwin sadly does not measure up. Despite the arrival on the scene of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav Jadeja has managed to keep his place because of his ubiquitous qualities. Ashwin has probably lost out on his place in the shorter formats due to the arrival of ``Kulcha’’ while there is this perceived notion that Jadeja is the more gutsy cricketer, particularly with the bat.

At 31 Jadeja is two years younger but it too early to write off Ashwin yet. He still is an effective utility cricketer and if one goes by the stats across all three formats there is very little to choose between them. One must not forget that Ashwin is the only Indian cricketer to hit a century and take five wickets in an innings in a Test twice. The two have quite often bowled India to victory performing in tandem but the way things stand the sight of both bowling together in a Test abroad could well be a thing of the past.