Teenager's 3 goals, City's 3 goalies spark Champions League

AP Updated: 7 November, 2019, 10:46 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

A teenager's three goals and one team's three goalkeepers perked up the Champions League as three European powers advanced to the round of 16.

Real Madrid prodigy Rodrygo's hat trick in a 6-0 rout of Galatasaray gave notice of a fresh young talent on a night when the familiar names of Bayern Munich, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain won to take their usual places in the knockout rounds.

The wealthy trio was the first wave of teams to advance with two group-stage games to spare.

Manchester City missed a chance to join them as it had to use three keepers — including defender Kyle Walker in emergency duty — in a 1-1 draw at Atalanta.

Madrid is heavily favored to advance after unleashing its 18-year-old Brazilian at Santiago Bernabeu stadium to make his mark on the storied competition.

Rodrygo scored twice in the opening seven minutes of his home Champions League debut. No player has scored two goals faster in a game in 28 seasons since the European Cup was rebranded.

Tottenham was also impressive in winning 4-0 at Red Star Belgrade but has more to do in the group led by Bayern.

EARLY BIRDS

Bayern Munich and Juventus played in the early kickoffs and became the first teams into the round of 16 draw.

Bayern's 2-0 win over Olympiakos was a winning start for coach Hansi Flick, the interim replacement for Niko Kovac who was fired on Sunday.

Robert Lewandowski got the opener in the 69th to score for a fourth straight Champions League game. The Poland forward's tally of six Champions League goals this season trails only Salzburg's 19-year-old breakout star Erling Haaland.

Cristiano Ronaldo holds the all-time competition record of 127 goals, and was denied adding to it by teammate Aaron Ramsey in a 2-1 win for Juventus at Lokomotiv Moscow.

Ronaldo's third-minute free-kick squirmed through goalkeeper Guilherme's hands and the ball was rolling over the line when Ramsey poked it into the net. The victory was secured in stoppage time by substitute Douglas Costa after a dancing run through the defense.

Juventus leads Group D by three points from Atletico Madrid — which lost 2-1 at Bayer Leverkusen — but is seven ahead of Lokomotiv and Leverkusen.

TEENAGE SENSATION

Rodrygo was just 17 when Madrid agreed in June 2018 to pay Santos a reported 45 million euros ($52 million) for him to come to Spain one year later.

His first Champions League action was in Madrid's 1-0 win at Galatasaray last month, and his second was stunning.

A slick left foot shot and soaring glanced header put Madrid up early, and it was 4-0 at halftime when Rodrygo took advantage of slack defending to set up Karim Benzema for a tap-in.

Rodrygo got his third with the last kick of the game, sliding the ball past goalkeeper Fernando Muslera after more good interplay with Benzema.

Madrid should advance from Group A despite trailing Paris Saint-Germain by five points.

PSG got a fourth straight win with a 1-0 home victory against third-placed Club Brugge, which trails Madrid by five points. PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas saved a second-half penalty to preserve the win.

CRAZY GOALIES

A curious night for goalkeepers saw Manchester City use three, and Shakhtar Donetsk's win a game-saving penalty deep into stoppage time.

City's first-choice keeper Ederson went off injured after 31 minutes in Atalanta, with his team leading by Raheem Sterling's goal.

Substitute Claudio Bravo was later sent off for racing out of the penalty area to bring down an attacker, leaving defender Kyle Walker to come off the bench in the 88th to put on the gloves. Walker made one save from a free kick and was protected by his defense through eight minutes if stoppage time.

Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar were level at 1-1 and both down to 10 men late in the game. Dinamo then scored twice before the 90-minute mark to go 3-1 up, but conceded three minutes into stoppage time.

Five minutes later, Tete leveled a wild match from the spot with a penalty given when his goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov — who had come up to attack a corner — was fouled in the box.

Man City leads Group C by five points from Shakhtar and Dinamo, though the Ukrainians are in second place on a head-to-head tiebreaker.

PINBALL WIZARDS

Tottenham netted the wildest goal of the night to open the scoring in Belgrade. A flurry of activity in the Red Star goalmouth saw Harry Kane's shot strike a post and Son Heung-min's shot rebound off the bar before Giovani Lo Celso score from close range.

Son later scored twice as last season's beaten finalist followed up a 5-0 home win over Red Star last month.

Bayern leads the group with a maximum 12 points, five ahead of Tottenham which is four clear of Red Star.

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News Cricket

Cracks appear in Rohit and Pollard's friendship as Windies skipper unfollows Hitman on twitter

Staff Writer Updated: 21 November, 2019, 1:38 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

West Indies' limited-overs skipper Kieron Pollard has unfollowed Rohit Sharma on Twitter ahead of the series between India and West Indies. Kieron Pollard and Rohit Sharma are close friends courtesy their association with Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.

Both of them have been exceptional for the Mumbai based franchise and have contributed immensely in four title wins. However, the big all-round star has decided to unfollow his Mumbai Indians skipper on Twitter.

It is part of a campaign run by official broadcaster of the series. Star Sports have launched a commercial featuring Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard to spice-up things ahead of the important matches between India and West Indies.

Meanwhile, Rohit is currently gearing up for India's second Test against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

News Cricket

 Sachin Tendulkar pens a heartfelt note for men, says its ok for men to cry

Tarun Singh Updated: 21 November, 2019, 12:38 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Is there really an expectation for men to not cry? Sachin Tendulkar penned a heart-touching note for all young boys and men to break the stereotype. The ‘Master Blaster’ Sachin took to his Twitter handle to pour his heart out to his 18 million followers across the globe. The ‘Batting Maestro’ revealed that he had also grown up with a belief that tears make men weak, but with time and experience, he realized, he was wrong.

Sachin Tendulkar, taking personal experiences from his life, advised that men should not pretend to be tough all the time. You come out stronger and better when you burst into tears and let all your pain get out.

Sachin’s heartfelt note reads, “There's no shame in showing your tears. So why hide a part of you that actually makes you stronger? Why hide your tears?.

“Because that's what we are brought up to believe - that men are not supposed to cry. That crying makes a man weak.

“I grew up believing this. And the reason I'm writing to you today is because I realized that I was wrong. My struggles and my pain made me who I am, shaping me into a better man”.

“It takes a lot of courage to show your pain and your vulnerability. But just as sure as the morning, you'll emerge from it tougher and better. So I encourage you to move past these stereotypes and notions of what men can or cannot do. Whoever you are, wherever you are, I wish you this courage,” Sachin said.

“Undoubtedly, there will be times when you fail, and you will feel like crying and letting it all out. But sure enough, you'll hold back the tears and pretend to be tough. Because that's what men do.

Sachin Tendulkar recalled his last day in international cricket when he could not stop crying while delivering a farewell speech.

“I had thought about it for a long time but nothing could prepare me for that last walk back to the pavilion. With each step, it started sinking in. I felt a lump in my throat, the fear of it all ending.

“There was so much going through my head in that moment. I just couldn't keep it in. And I didn't fight it. I let go in front of the world, and surprisingly, I felt a certain peace,” Sachin recalled.

“I felt stronger for putting myself out there and grateful for everything that I had received. I realized I was man enough.”

News Tennis

Murray, Djokovic looking forward to playing in 2020 Olympics

AP Updated: 21 November, 2019, 10:16 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have their sights set on playing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Murray said “he would love to compete in Tokyo,” and Djokovic acknowledged the Olympics are “very high on the list of wishes for next year.”

Murray, the two-time Olympic champion in singles and a three-time Grand Slam winner, has been slowly coming back to full speed after undergoing hip surgery in January. In October, he won his first title since his return.

He defeated Tallon Griekspoor 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (5) on Wednesday in his first Davis Cup match with Britain since 2016.

“I’ve really enjoyed playing in the Olympics,” the 32-year-old Murray said. “I’ve always enjoyed a team environment and competing for my country. Always really enjoyed that. So yeah, I would love to play in Tokyo.”

The Olympic gold medalist in 2012 and 2016, Murray said he hopes to “feel healthy” and that his “body feels good” at the end of next year.

“I’d be delighted with that,” he said. “That’s what I’d like for next year.”

Roger Federer has already said he plans to play in Tokyo, even though it adds to an already packed calendar. And Djokovic, who helped Serbia beat Japan in the new Davis Cup Finals on Wednesday in Madrid, said the Olympics are also part of his plans for 2020. The 32-year-old Djokovic said he expects “fun” games in Japan.

News Football

Jose Mourinho brings passion to task of reviving Tottenham

AP Updated: 21 November, 2019, 10:13 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Ousted from previous jobs for fomenting friction, Jose Mourinho is returning to coaching trying to show he is rejuvenated with the smile back.

Will Tottenham be getting a mellowed manager, rather than the one who stoked internal feuds at Chelsea and Manchester United?

Mourinho’s exile from management ended after being appointed by Tottenham within 12 hours of the announcement of Mauricio Pochettino’s firing.

“I couldn’t be happier and look forward to the challenge,” Mourinho said in a video released by Tottenham. “What can I promise? Passion, real passion.

“Passion for my job, but also passion for my club, that’s the way I have been all my career and I want to try, obviously, everything to bring happiness to everyone who loves the club.”

Mourinho has always delivered happiness in the form of trophies and title successes. But several of his stints have also seen the atmosphere around the team sour as his relationship broke down with club officials, players and even fans.

There was the “palpable discord” that curtailed Mourinho’s second spell at Chelsea in December 2015.

A turbulent 2½-year spell followed at Manchester United that ended in December 2018 when the club tired of the volatile coach constantly picking fights and criticizing his own players as the team struggled.

But he won three Premier League titles during his two spells at Chelsea, and lifted the Europa League trophy as the highlight of his time in Manchester.

He now arrives at a club without a track record of winning titles, with no trophy lifted since the 2008 League Cup.

Feature Cricket

Hundred, T10, What Next?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 21 November, 2019, 10:08 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Continuing on the debate of mental health of cricketers which should have been addressed years ago, at a time when cricketers would rather drop out and retire rather than state their mind, someone should ask the question: where does it end?

Not a few years ago, concerted effort was thrown behind the idea that cricket should be a part of the Olympics. Conventional wisdom questioned the desperate tactics in light of the fact that cricket can be self-sustaining and income generating provided the right policies are in place when it comes to efforts of globalization as well as merging the gap between skill and talent between the top league boards which a handful and the associate members which abound in the hundreds in terms of aspirants.

Now even as the push for Twenty20 appears to have gathered momentum, recent promotions for the upcoming Hundred in England and the ten overs tournament in the Gulf have cricketers talking, almost as if being pushed to do so, that these are the tournaments most viable to entering cricket as a legitimate sport in Olympics and such multi discipline events.

It should not have taken the mental health issues of a player like Glenn Maxwell - to open the can of worms about player workloads, managing expectations and striking a balance between the need to preserve the integrity of the game versus turning cricket into a commercial cash cow. Maxwell –the veritable modern version of a player whose talents were tooted without time in the middle and who has been on the active circuit of being pilloried for peddling his wares everywhere without the board deciding how to best manage their available talent. This should have been a strong point within cricket boards and between the cricket boards and the International Cricket Council (ICC) ten years ago as a new avatar was beginning to take root with astronomical figures that should have raised anyone’s antennae.

In the absence of that conversation even a decade ago when even the fallacy of meaningless one day international series were debated, Twenty20 has not only mushroomed by the ICC have run into a brick wall that is the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in terms of being able to evaluate the impact of Twenty20 across the board. With the BCCI have turned the IPL into its most earning flagship event, not only does the BCCI care little for domestic cricket but also, it has created an unexpected, undesirable epidemic of more such tournaments of the format at the expense of a legitimate scheduling of events.

While the idea of generating more income and options of more players is a pliable excuse to hide behind, it does not cover enough the fact that boards have become brazenly avaricious, their administrators power hungry and in the process, myopic to the idea of protecting the golden goose. Instead of emphasizing a greater need for domestic cricket to produce these variants of cricketers and maintain the quality of the sport, instead of promoting A teams for more inclusive opportunities, they have simply turned to international cricket to provide the answers instantly like two minute noodles.

With nearly half of the top level cricket teams almost going through the motions for want of a time out, sit down, and a process of breakthrough to cope with the modern agendas of restructure domestic cricket while keeping their coffers optimum, it is obvious how lopsided interests have been in terms of keeping the game to high standards across the teams while dreaming of more expansive ideas and the inclusiveness of other teams who must feel like they are here to only make up the numbers at the international level with few opportunities. Addressing that balance has left a lot to be desired.

With corporate, promoters and organizers entering the fray of lobbying for cricket’s best representation, it is quite remarkable how players are able to maintain their composure and their equilibrium even as they hop from one tournament to another, from one continent to another, from one format to another, from one cricket board’s tournament to another with the dressing room a constant flux of cricketers and not always a cohesive whole.

Feature Cricket

Change of ball may not change Bangladesh’s fortunes

Partab Ramchand Updated: 21 November, 2019, 10:04 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The change from red ball to pink is unlikely to see any change in Bangladesh’s fortunes. The visitors simply lack the technique and the temperament to extend India who are in the midst of a phenomenally successful run in Test cricket. The historic day/night Test at the Eden Gardens starting on Friday should end in another emphatic victory for the hosts. One only hopes that unlike the game at Indore which ended in three days this one at least goes through to an extra day for reports have it that it is already houseful for the first four days of the match.

Even with Shakib al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal Bangladesh could at best have given India a fight. The two are among the best players in the side and Shakib is the finest in Bangladesh cricket history. But under the circumstances one cannot really see any other result but another Indian romp. The manner in which the Indians are playing they would probably beat any opposition at home so this Bangladesh side which is No 9 in the ICC rankings will continue to be punching bags for the top ranked team.

It may be uncharitable to talk so disparagingly about any opposition but to be candid this Bangladesh side is among the weakest to visit Indian shores. And as ill luck would have it they are taking on India who are at their zenith of their powers. In every department they are several notches below India and just posting the scores of the first Test – Bangladesh 150 and 213, India 493 for six declared – is testimony enough to underline the disparity between the contestants. There was only one half century in the two Bangladesh innings while all their four main bowlers conceded over 100 runs in the lone Indian innings. The saving grace was the batting of Mushfiqur Rahim who top scored in both innings but the problem is that they depend too much on two or three experienced players and if they fail they don’t have anyone to fall back upon.

For the Indians the Test is another opportunity to run up all sorts of records. And one gets the distinct feeling that Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma who missed out on the run feast at Indore will really come out with their guns blazing. The bowlers are capable of again running through the Bangladesh batting. Mercifully for the visitors it is a two-match series and there is no third Test to prolong their agony.

Opinion Cricket

Did KKR commit a big mistake by releasing Chris Lynn?

Staff Writer Updated: 21 November, 2019, 9:57 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Last week, the eight teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL) went on to submit the list of retained and released players ahead of the auction next month. A total of 71 players were released across the franchises. Interestingly, many foreign stars were released by clubs which makes things look interesting. One expects a lot of intensity during the auction in Kolkata next, as teams would want to make the most out of the remaining money in the purse.

Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) released 11 players and what struck most was their decision to part ways with experienced T20 customer in the form of Chris Lynn. The Australian international was one of the side's prolific run-scorers across the last three seasons. Lynn was a part of many fabulous starts enjoyed by KKR at the top. He is a real destructor and approached his innings with a lot of flair. Therefore, KKR deciding to release the solid T20 customer drew a lot of attention from all corners.

To be honest, KKR are thin in terms of opening combination. It looked like Lynn and Shubman Gill were the best choice to have a crack in IPL 2020. This is after Sunil Narine's inconsistency atop. Now with Lynn released alongside Joe Denly, KKR are short in this department. They need at least two opening options for the 13th edition of the league. Will they manage to get someone who knows the conditions as well as Lynn? Can someone come in and get the runs Lynn did?

These are two valid questions KKR need to find an answer on as the auction day approaches. Lynn, who is currently plying his trade in the Abu Dhabi T10 League, smashed the highest individual score in the tournament after a 30-ball 91* recently. This was a statement of sorts by the senior player. One expects to see several teams now going heavy for Lynn during the auction day. And looking at other options and their offerings, KKR have missed the plot here completely. Unless, KKR could go for Lynn at a lower price, but with a possible bidding war, this could be a tricky phase.

News Cricket

Lesson for Pant? Dhoni reveals mantra to score runs like him at No. 6 batting position

Staff Writer Updated: 20 November, 2019, 4:29 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

MS Dhoni has started batting in nets in order to prepare himself for future assignments. It is still not clear when we are going to see him in Indian colours, but the way he took his first practice session, it was visible that he wants to represent India for few more years.

With Rishabh Pant getting all the preference in his absence, things haven't been fine for the team in shorter formats. The young gloveman has failed miserably so far and has been lambasted for his performance behind the stumps. Even his style of batting has come under the scanner because of his habit of playing too many reckless shots.

During one of his interviews, the former India skipper spoke about the art of scoring runs at No.6 position.

"It is very important to have a practical approach. If I'm batting at number 6 and play 15 balls, I know if I score 25-30 runs, it is very good, outstanding performance. But at the same time, there can be hindrances.

"You think about scoring for your team and go for big hits, it may also cost you a wicket. So you will have to practically set up what your target is," the veteran wicket-keeper batsman was quoted saying by news agency ANI.

News Cricket

Terror attack survivor Simon Taufel wants international teams to play in Pakistan

Staff Writer Updated: 20 November, 2019, 4:27 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Pakistan have suffered a lot in terms of international cricket since bus carrying Sri Lankan players was attacked by terrorists in Lahore in 2009. The big teams have refused to play in Pakistan citing security as the main reason. West Indies, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka have toured Pakistan in the recent times but other teams have said no. With Sri Lanka's decision to play a two-Test match series in Pakistan, the traditional format is making a return to Pakistan after a gap of 10 years.

Former Aussie umpire Simon Taufel was one of the umpires when the Lankan team bus was attacked. He feels it was deadly and the security of the players and officials is paramount, but he wants to see international cricket in Pakistan.

“Never say never. Things change. There is no country in the world that is immune to bad things happening,” Simon Taufel said as quoted by Geo.tv.

“I do hope that cricket spreads to more parts of the world and even though it was a traumatic experience in Pakistan, I sincerely hope that we see international cricket played there again.”

The home won the ODI series against Sri Lanka but the tide was reversed in the shortest format of the game where Sri Lanka whitewashed Pakistan in a three-match series.

News Cricket

Misbah-ul-Haq reveals plan to stop Steve Smith in Test series

Tarun Singh Updated: 20 November, 2019, 4:25 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Misbah-ul-Haq, the head coach of Pakistan, has revealed a mantra to stop the batting maestro of Australia Steve Smith in the Test series commencing from November 21 in Brisbane.

Misbah-ul-Haq, while applauding their pace-attack, has instructed bowlers to keep hitting the ‘blind spot’ of ‘batting genius’ Steve Smith to prevent the damage he does to the rivals with his willow.

Smith is in tremendous form and broke a plethora of batting records in the recently concluded Ashes. Smith accumulated 774 runs in seven innings at an astonishing average of 110.57 in the Test series against England.

Misbah believes that every batsman has a ‘blind spot’ where he gets uncomfortable, bowlers need to identify that spot and keep pitching the bowl there to lead the batsman to commit a mistake.

Misbah-ul-Haq, disclosing his plan against Aussies said, “As far as Steve Smith goes, there’s a blind spot for every top batsman in the world; as a bowler you’re always interested in pitching the ball there.

“It’s important that we bowl with consistency there. Our bowlers are executing the plans very well right now, and hopefully we’ll be able to build that kind of a pressure, and stay disciplined especially early in the innings.”

“No matter how good a batsman is batting, it’s about consistency and bowling the maximum balls in those areas that build pressure and the batsman respects you, and you force him to make a mistake,” he added.

News Cricket

Paralympian Deepa Malik lauds Virat, says great to see skipper talking about mental health issues

Staff Writer Updated: 20 November, 2019, 4:23 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Virat Kohli spoke about mental health issues ahead of the first Test match between India and Bangladesh. While lauding Glenn Maxwell for disclosing his ongoing fight with mental issues, he revealed about his as well. The Aussie all-rounder has taken an indefinite break from cricket after failing to win over his problem. The 31-year old Virat had encountered similar situation in 2014 when his mediocre performance in the Test series against England was widely covered by media. Virat was ridiculed for his below par batting, which gave birth to several doubts in his mind. However, he fought with them and the rest is history.

Even famous Indian Paralympian Deepa Malik has lauded Virat for speaking about a sensitive issue like mental health.

“It was great to hear a highly successful cricketer like Virat Kohli talking about the mental issues,” Malik was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

She feels cricket is a demanding sport and can put even the best in business under pressure.

“Cricket has become very demanding and that puts cricketers under tremendous pressure to perform. This leads them to depression-like situations and they find it difficult to deal with it,” the 50-year-old Khel Ratna awardee told the newspaper. “I would suggest them to take a break from the monotonous routine. Give free time to themselves which will do wonders for them.”

News Cricket

Ashwin gets ‘Man of the Watch’ award from Netflix, leaves off-spinner in splits

Tarun Singh Updated: 20 November, 2019, 4:21 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The man of great wit, Ravichandran Ashwin, who recently emulated Sanath Jayasuriya’s bowling action, was involved in a humorous conversation with Netflix India.

Ashwin burst into laughter when he was offered ‘Man of the Watch’ by Netflix India for not playing a match this time, but for the great knowledge he shared with Netflix on a trending TV series.

Netflix India thankfully tweeted, “Ashwin's fantastic suggestion has won him today's Man of the Watch award.”

The Indian off-spinner Ashwin, who is known for his sense of humor, accepted the unexpected award offered by Netflix India and Tweeted with a smiley, “Look forward to the presentation ceremony.”

Earlier, Netflix India had awarded Ashwin with a tag of ‘Man of the Look’.

Ravichandran Ashwin, apart from being a bowling great also follows the trending and engaging TV series on Netflix and shares his experience through Tweets.

Ashwin took five wickets in the first Test match against Bangladesh.

The Indian bowler is gearing up for the second Test against Bangladesh, which will be India’s maiden day-night Test.

Ashwin was impressed with the way Indian pace-attack crushed ‘Bangla Tigers’ in the first Test. “I think Shami, Ishant and Umesh have been bowling well as a pack and if you add Bumrah to it over the last few months or a year in Test cricket, I think it's one of the most lethal pace attacks going around in the world if not the best.”

Milestones Cricket

In numbers: Ravindra Jadeja’s impressive rise as a Test batsman

Renin Wilben Albert Updated: 20 November, 2019, 4:17 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India have been dominant in Test cricket over the last year, and have made an excellent start to the World Test Championship as well. As per the updated points table, they are the leaders by some distance, with 300 points from six games. New Zealand are a distant second, with 60 points from two Tests.

The biggest reason for India’s rise as a Test nation over the past year has been their potent pace attack, which is capable of taking 20 wickets on any surface. Mohammed Shami has reinvented himself, and is among the best fast bowlers in the world today. Jasprit Bumrah has taken to Test cricket like fish to water. All along, Ishant Sharma has used his experience to deliver at vital moments. And, with the resurgence of Umesh Yadav, India’s pace attack has never looked better.

Of course, India’s batting strength has also made a big difference with Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma making the openers’ slots their own, and Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane taking care of the middle-order. Amidst all these big positives, Ravindra Jadeja has quietly announced himself as a Test batsman, and so well that he is now occupying the crucial number six slot in the batting line-up.

Oval to Indore, the Jadeja story

The resurgence of Jadeja as a Test batsman began at The Oval in 2018 during the fifth Test in September 2018. Responding to England’s 332, India seemed down in the dumps at 160 for 6. However, Jadeja lifted them to 292 with a belligerent 86 not out from 156 balls, an innings featuring 11 fours and a six. Although India lost the Test despite second innings hundreds from KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant, Jadeja’s confidence as a batsman has been at a different level since.

Following the innings at The Oval, Jadeja went on to register his maiden Test hundred against West Indies at Rajkot. He has also scored 81 against Australia at Sydney, 58 versus West Indies at North Sound, 91 and 51 against South Africa at Pune and Ranchi, and 60 not out against Bangladesh at Indore. In 11 Tests starting with The Oval game, Jadeja averages 63.60 with one hundred and six fifties. In fact, he has crossed fifty in all his last three Test innings.

A different story before that

Jadeja struggled to find his feet as a batsman in Test cricket in the first few years. From his debut in December 2012 to December 2016, he featured in 25 Tests. However, he managed only 848 runs with four fifties at an average of 26.50, with a highest score of 90. There was a significant improvement in the second phase of his career, from January 2017 to June 2018, when he featured in 11 Tests and managed 348 runs at an average of 38.66, with four hundreds and a best of 70 not out. This was followed by The Oval Test, and Jadeja has not looked back since.

While the Indian pacers and top and middle-order batsmen deserve a lot of plaudits for their exploits, the efforts of Jadeja the batsman are also highly praiseworthy.

Jadeja’s overall numbers in Tests as a batsman: 47 Tests, 1,832 runs, 35.92 average, one hundred and 14 fifties.

Feature Cricket

Two potentially engrossing contests on the cards

Partab Ramchand Updated: 20 November, 2019, 4:14 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Away from all the excitement of the pink ball game at the Eden Gardens two Test matches commence on Thursday which could turn out to be engrossing contests. Of course if one goes by past record it would appear that Pakistan don’t have a chance against Australia. In 35 Tests they have played ``Down Under’’ over 55 years Pakistan have won just four and lost 24. The last victory was in 1995-96 at the height of the Waqar Younis – Wasim Akram double menace, they have lost the last 12 in a row and are ranked No 7 to Australia’s No 5.

All the same Pakistan as is well known are a mercurial lot capable of scaling the heights and plumbing the depths in quick succession and Australia are not likely to take the visitors lightly. There is already considerable talk of the challenge posed by their pace attack which holds the key if Pakistan hope to do well in the two Test series. The Aussies will be particularly wary of Mohammed Abbas who has 66 wickets from just 14 matches at just under 19 apiece. But there is already a lot of buzz around the two teenagers Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah particularly the latter. He is just 16 and yet to make his international debut but his first class figures are impressive – 27 wickets from seven games at 16 apiece.

Leg spinner Yasir Shah who is a class act will carry their spin hopes and will be eager to make up for his nightmarish experience on the last tour three years ago when he took eight wickets in three Tests at an average of 84. It should be interesting to see how they tackle the strong Aussie batting, the menace of Steve Smith in particular. What will also be keenly followed is how their batting fares against the pace trio of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc.

Over in New Zealand their two Test series against England is clearly too close to call. It is not just the rankings which have the hosts at No 2 and the visitors at No 3 that makes predicting the result difficult. Even a cursory glance at the team personnel and it can be seen that they are evenly matched in all departments of the game. One side has players of the calibre of Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Trent Boult and Tim Southee and the other has classy players like Joe Root, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes.

Again on past record New Zealand with just five wins against 18 defeats in their own backyard would seem to give England the edge but this stat can be ignored. In recent years New Zealand have proved to be tough opponents at home winning ten of the last 12 series. Yes, one prediction can safely be made - that it will be a high quality contest.

News Cricket

Pakistan 16-year-old Naseem Shah set to break Harbhajan Singh’s 21-year old record

Tarun Singh Updated: 20 November, 2019, 4:12 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The Pakistan 16-year-old pace ace Naseem Shah, who is touted to be the sensational bowler, is gearing up to make his debut in the upcoming (PAK vs AUS) Test series, starting from November 21 in Brisbane.

Yet a school student, Naseem Shah is on the verge of breaking Indian veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh’s record of being the youngest ever player to debut in Tests against Australia.

Harbhajan Singh made his debut against Australia in 1998 when he was 17 years and 265 days, but the young firebrand Naseem will be only 16 years and 279 days old when he wears the Test cap.

The teenager, fast bowler Naseem was already seen troubling the best-batting-unit Australia in the practice match. Australian batsmen did not look comfortable in tackling the teenager’s deliveries.

Aussies also admitted that they were stunned to see the performance of the young sensation who is half of the age of Steve Smith and the party.

Misbah-ul-Haq, the head coach of Pakistan also applauded the young pace ace Naseem and said, “The best thing about Naseem Shah is the control he has on his bowling.”

“He has a very good bowling action and knows which deliveries to bowl. He can bowl with a very good control.

“He knows his stuff and bowled really well in the first-class matches he played this season. He’s bowled well here too and is the standout bowler for us. The way he’s been bowling, he can be a match-winner for us, Misbah further added.”