Feature Cricket

India can’t turn their heads away from Spin problems

Abhishek Chaudhary Updated: 4 April, 2019, 5:11 PM IST


It has just been a few days since India confirmed the Test Mace, Coach Ravi Shastri’s proudly flaunted the achievement on social media with a subtle dig at critics that hinged on ‘so-called away’ venue.

2019 has been one of those years – so far – where wins dilute flaws, sometimes even hide the most glaring ones. One such unmissable problem has been Indian batting’s not so confident record against the spinners. The focus has been so much about foreign conditions and the pace that comes with it that very little has been discussed about how spin has been doing all the turnaround against India.

Things would have been back to being hunky dory if the issue could have been swept under the carpet once the IPL started. But it keeps rearing its head, often pointing out how it needs immediate attention.

In T20s - partially due to the frantic action – the moot point is always death bowling, muscular hits, short boundaries, powerplay, slower deliveries et al. However, it is remarkable to notice that Indian batsmen’s struggle against spinners has largely gone unnoticed. It’s not just against international stalwarts that the cracks have opened up, some of the home-grown domestic names managed to thwart the big-hitting plan.

When big names are not involved in a fiasco, excuses come easy to defend the discrepancy. But not when the greatest batsmen of this generation – arguably though - finds himself stuck in the muddle.

The four matches that Kohli has played this season, he has found himself wanting against spinners in two of those. Against Chennai, he was undone by Harbhajan Singh, while against Rajasthan, Shreyas Gopal’s googly exposed a gulf that seems unbridgeable now. It’s not only about who dismissed Kohli, it’s also about the manner of his dismissal. He failed to ready googlies from Gopal. On first occasion, he survived an LBW appeal courtesy an inside edge but there was enough gap left between his bat on the next delivery. His stance a little opened and head facing towards the cover region; clearly the Indian captain was looking to play the drive with the spin when the ball was turning into him.

Rohit Sharma’s story has not been different so far. Although he’s been out to a spinner only once in the tournament, he has not quite looked confident against them. The usual dance down the wicket for a big swing has gone missing. The other day against Chennai, Jadeja found his edge to Dhoni with a skidder.

With India’s two brightest prospects for the World Cup struggling against spinners, the only ray of hope exudes from the way their ex-captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has handled spin. Unlike his old-self, Dhoni is not quite the bludgeoner, but he keeps finding ways to work around spinners during the middle overs before milking them for big runs at the fag end of the innings. With him likely to bat higher the order in the upcoming World Cup, Indian can feel a little relieved but cannot finalize that as a permanent solution. It’s in their best interest if Rohit & Kohli start showing some intent against the spinners in the coming days of the IPL. The bespoke practice duel for the final battle has revealed a few chinks in the armour - chinks that India must not ignore!

Get Daily Updates From CricToday

Subscribe and get the latest Sports News delivered to your inbox.

Email is required. Invalid email address.
Feature Cricket

NZ World Cup Squad A Balanced One

Partab Ramchand Updated: 4 April, 2019, 5:14 PM IST


If South Africa are the perennial chokers of international cricket New Zealand are the permanent bridesmaids. Their teams over the years have been good enough to make it to the semifinals of ICC competitions but no further. Yes, there have been two wonderful exemptions. One, when they won the ICC Champions Trophy at Nairobi in 2000 defeating India in the final and secondly when they got through the semifinal barrier and made it to the title clash in the last World Cup four years ago when they were no match for Australia.

So can New Zealand go all the way this time in England? If they don’t, it will not be because they have chosen the wrong team personnel. New Zealand are the first to announce their squad and on paper at least they look good enough to make the semifinals. After that it is just a question of two good games.

Both on past record and current rankings New Zealand are opponents who have to be taken seriously. They are, along with Australia, the only two teams to have made at least the World Cup semifinals on seven occasions. And their No 3 ranking puts them just behind England and India and ahead of South Africa, Australia and Pakistan. Their present form has been decidedly mixed for in the past year they have lost to England and India but have defeated Sri Lanka and Bangladesh besides sharing an away series with Pakistan.

But it is the team personnel, based on experience, that emphasizes the optimism voiced by coach Gary Stead. ``We have got a squad that we think can give us a really good chance of gong far in the tournament and if we play close to our potential then hopefully we can do New Zealand proud,’’ he said. For perhaps the first time New Zealand have two great batsmen in skipper Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor and two great bowlers in Tim Southee and Trent Boult. Martin Guptill who holds the record for the highest score in the World Cup (237 not out) is not far behind and Tom Latham has the skill and experience to excel in front of the stumps and behind them. Every department is covered for there is Mitchell Santner as the primary spinner with Ish Sodhi in support. Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme are the utility players while Henry Nichols is all set to open the batting with Guptill. There is also the dangerous hitter Colin Munro while Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry are around to back the two premier fast bowlers.

The Kiwis will be among the most experienced teams in the World Cup highlighted by the fact that Taylor, Williamson and Guptill have 526 ODIs between them. They have a balanced squad that can take heart from their past performances in the World Cup in England. On three of the four occasions they entered the semifinal and in the other missed making the cut by a whisker.

Feature Cricket

A Chance at Credibility

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 4 April, 2019, 4:52 PM IST


Amidst the hoopla of the Indian Premier League (IPL), on the sidelines was the report of an erstwhile, former Indian cricketer coming on to take over the reshaping of the cricket world. It is good news for India, particularly because it resuscitates life into the seemingly defunct National Cricket Academy.

Recently the National Cricket Academy (NCA) found itself in much controversy after many termed it perfunctory and not really relevant, a figurehead proposition for an otherwise rich governing cricket board. The case of the injury and management of Wriddhiman Saha, who took over from Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the Indian wicketkeeper-batsman, kept the headlines hooked into the NCA last year even as India picked up the pieces from England to make a stunning, emphatic turn by winning the Test series down under in seven decades. Even as the mayhem failed to inject faith into what is supposed to be the national centre for rest, rehabilitation of current cricketers representing the nation and for the conditioning of young cricketers, perhaps the idea of Rahul Dravid taking over the reins at the National Cricket Academy will lend it the credence it has missed.

Although Dravid’s role is not defined yet, the idea of the former Indian captain and batsman taking over the running of the academy is bound to do wonders not only for the academy but also, for the game itself. Few illustrious cricketers have been able to convert their accomplishments into seeds to invest in young cricketers. Few, unlike Dravid, this is. The soft spoken, quiet cricketer, also, known as ‘The Wall’, has been able to, in a short time, show what he can do with regard to moulding young minds as was visible with India’s under-19 team, whose players now form the fabric of the coming era, already inducted into the national mainstream.

At a time when IPL has come to define the success milestone, particularly when it comes early for a budding cricketer yet to don national colours, Dravid has been able to be the grounding that keeps the electricity running in the right direction in the young veins of these players. With Dravid at the NCA, not only does it take him back home but also, gives the players working at the academy, the impetus required to take their game at the next level.

But if training the young cricketers for the professional route may have been hard work, Rahul Dravid will have his work cut out for him because the work at the National Cricket Academy is likely to be far different and arguably more arduous given that it will not just involve reshaping the cricketers who walk through the doors but also, set up systems and support staff in place that will ensure players have the best infrastructure, facilities and personnel to help bring them to the level that is required to hold their own at the international level. In a sense, it will involve remapping which Dravid is undoubtedly good at but will need more by way of assistance and support to pull it off as he did with the under-19 team.

News Cricket

Ahmed Shehzad tries to cheat by claiming a dropped catch yet again

Staff Writer Updated: 4 April, 2019, 4:32 PM IST


Ahmed Shehzad is one of the most controversial cricketers from Pakistan. Not too long ago, he was banned by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for four months for violating the national board’s anti-doping rules. And now, he has again made it to the headlines.

Playing in the Pakistan Cup, Ahmed Shehzad has courted another controversy. The Pakistani player dropped a catch yet he asked the on-field umpire to review it, which left everyone surprised. He claimed the catch despite dropping it.

Here is the video of the same:

This is not the first time when Ahmed Shehzad has claimed a catch despite dropping the white cherry. He had done something similar against Sri Lanka, a few years back. Here is the video: