Even in the midst of the euphoria surrounding the West Indies scoring their first Test series win over England since 2009 (or any high ranking team for that matter since 2012), there has been a dampener in the form of the West Indies captain being penalized with one match ban for slow over rate. Now as he is being asked to appeal the decision, here is where the conundrum lies.
Jason Holder was clearly the star of the first Test in Bridgetown, Barbados. For one, he scored a double century that made a huge difference in the run making tally of both teams, elevating one and denting the other. Besides his batting exploits, Holder was a useful bowler, picking up crucial wickets that told of West Indies’ gift in having the all-rounder in their Test team and on their side. In the constellation of island nations that boast of talented all-rounders but not enough to go around their own circuit, particularly in the longer format of the sport, Holder has been a beacon of hope for the beleaguered island nations that once dominated the sport.
In the second Test, the captain was at it once more, marshalling his resources to ensure England flattered to deceiving, wilting under the conditions of the pitch and the persevering stance of the hosts in Antigua. Picking up wickets to support the other frontline bowlers, Holder became the instrument with which the team inflicted unexpected, shocking damage on the visitors, buoyant after their home series victory over India and a whitewash handed to Sri Lanka in the Emerald Isles and certainly not expecting to be so brutally exposed and upstaged.
However, even as West Indies won hearts once more for the comprehensive manner in which they subjugated England in the second Test to win by ten wickets to follow up their first Test win by 381 runs, there was a twist in the tale. Holder was being punished for the teams slow over rate and as a result, would have to miss out the third Test in St. Lucia.
Customary for captains around the world to bear the brunt of the bowlers’ lag time and any team decisions that may have eaten into the mandatory ninety overs to be bowled in a day, Holder’s problem would not be so unique or unusual other than the fact that it would be not only a little disappointing for the team savoring the victory in a decade but also, severely hampering the team’s chances for a possible whitewash given Holder’s prowess and exploits.
It was not surprising in that context that amongst the dissenters of the rule was former Australian spin legend, Shane Warne, who contended the decision should be appealed since the match did not go the distance of five days. While that has been the argument made on several occasions, the conundrum lies in the fact that the duration of the game cannot be the yardstick by which punishment is meted out for slow over rates. The problem lies in the fact that if Holder was let off the hook in this one instance, given the jubilation that is marking West Indies’ current success, it sets up a precedent for other teams to use at a later date when their own team is facing a similar punitive action for the same offence. It is this issue that has polarized opinion in the aftermath of the Test, particularly since this has been a series that has garnered attention, as an afterthought much like the debate about the penalty.
Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar wants team management to rest MS Dhoni from the upcoming five-match ODI series against Australia and give Rishabh Pant a long run keeping World Cup in mind. Gavaskar also stated that he would like to see Pant at No.4 and 5 rather than coming down the order to hit sixes and fours.
When asked if he would like to see Dinesh Karthik's as MS Dhoni's back-up option in the World Cup squad, Gavaskar said, “I would also keep Rishabh Pant. He brings that left-handedness in the top lineup as well. And I would look at playing him in the team. I will look to play him in the five one-dayers that India plays against Australia in about two weeks time. That will give us a fair idea about how the young kid is shaping up and give him some little more responsibility at say 4 or 5 because at No.6 or 7 he just going to bang...bang and blast it around and that is not what you want to see. What we want to see is may be something like what happened today, three wickets down with not too many and then he comes in and looks to play the ones and the twos, settle down and then hit the big shots to score 70 or 80 or even a hundred. That left-handed option in the middle order is very crucial. All I am saying, take a punt with Rishabh Pant."
Pant has been part of 3 ODIs so far and has scored just 42 runs in two innings. Gavaskar also backed Karthik as the third opener for India in the World Cup.
"The left-handed option in the middle order I think is very crucial. I would look at Dinesh Karthik as the third opener because you want to carry a spare opener in your 15 anyway. Even if you have three wicket-keepers in your squad, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, and Rishabh Pant, so be it. I think it will give the team just a little flexibility with the batting," he added further.
Indian head coach Ravi Shastri feels Kohli has a lot to learn as captain and he is still evolving. Speaking to Cricbuzz, he praised Virat Kohli for outsmarting Australia in Australia but believes there is always room for improvement.
"As far as I am concerned, tactically, there is still room for plenty of improvement as captain. He has gotten better and better, and better, and I thought in the Australian Test series, tactically he outsmarted Australia. I still see more room across formats for him to evolve. As a captain, Virat will evolve further," Shastri told Cricbuzz.
He also said Virat Kohli winning all the ICC awards is a rare occurrence and he don't think anyone will ever do it again.
"Starting with the ICC awards (achieving all awards in the same year), I don't think anyone will ever do it again. It is something very rare because you need two things to happen to win all awards in a single year. You need to be a captain of a very good cricket team across formats, that allows you to win two awards as the best captain of the ICC Test team and the ICC ODI team. So obviously your team is one of the best in the world and it has never happened in Indian cricket before. So an Indian captain gets it, and I want to focus on those two awards more than the personal awards that he has won.
"You will not get a repeat of that in these two biggest formats of the game. And there is no award for ICC T20 captain. So your team has to be that good that you can win those awards. Whether we get accolades from our guys back home or international media, I give two hoots. When my captain wins those two awards, that's a tribute to the team. So the boys can be at peace. And Virat knows it," he said.
India defeated Australia in Australia for the first time in purest form of cricket. Indian cricket team under Virat Kohli registered a historic 2-1 series triumph in Whites. After India's magnificent triumph, head coach Ravi Shastri termed it as a bigger achievement than the 1983 World Cup title victory.
"I will tell you how satisfying it is for me. World Cup 1983, World Championship of Cricket 1985 - this is as big, or even bigger, because it is in the truest (Test) format of the game. It's Test cricket, which is meant to be the toughest," Shastri had said.
He was lambasted for undermining the importance of World Cup win in England. In an interview with Cricbuzz, he refused to move away from his earlier stand and stood by what he had said in Australia.
“In 1983, I was in the dressing room. In 1985, I was in the dressing room. In 2018-19, I was in the dressing room. Why do I rate this? Because Test cricket is the purest form and we came to Australia as heavy weight champions of Test cricket, home and away. We were not favourites - no team can come to Australia as favourites because Australia will chew them out. But we were not underdogs to come and surprise them either. We came as number one Test side and we played as the number one Test side, and we won,” Shastri said.
Ravi Shastri has heaped ultimate praise on Kuldeep Yadav and labelled him as India's No.1 spinner in Test cricket ahead of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. He was impressed with the way Kuldeep performed in the Sydney Test. He picked up five wickets despite not being part of the playing XI for the first three matches of the series. He has played six Test matches and picked up 24 wickets at an average of 24.12. Shastri feels Kuldeep has done enough to seal the spot ahead of two veterans if India play one spinner.
"Yes, and I was very impressed with the way Kuldeep bowled in Sydney. Even in Test cricket, it is going to be the age of wrist spin, especially in overseas Test cricket. The way he bowled in Sydney, he becomes our number one spinner in overseas Test cricket.
"He plays overseas Test cricket and he gets five wickets, so he becomes our primary overseas spinner. Going ahead, if we have to play one spinner, he is the one we will pick. There is a time for everyone (referring to Ashwin's poor fitness record in 2018). But now Kuldeep is our frontline number one overseas spinner," Shastri told Cricbuzz.
Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma make up for a hot and happening couple. One is the king from the field of cricket while the other one is a tinsel town diva. They are desirable, loved and have a huge fanbase. Since the time of their coming together, fans just couldn't get enough of this power couple.
Virat and Anushka are currently holidaying at some unknown place. But they are keeping their fans updated with their lovey-dovey pictures on social media. This time around, Virat Kohli took to Instagram to post a picture that shows the couple taking a walk in a forest.
Check out the picture here:
Indian skipper Virat Kohli has been rested by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for the last two ODIs and the entire T20I series against New Zealand.
Rohit Sharma has been captaining India in the absence of India's regular skipper. Recently, India defeated New Zealand by 35 runs in the fifth and final ODI in Wellington on Sunday to win the series 4-1.
Impossible is nothing for MS Dhoni as he can do anything on cricket field. He can finish games, win trophies and can also speak in Marathi. During the fifth ODI between India and New Zealand, he was heard giving advice to Kedar Jadhav in Marathi.
The Indian all-rounder was delighted and took to Twitter to express his feelings. "You always feel at home on foreign tours when @msdhoni is behind the stumps... But this moment came as a real surprise..."
Earlier, India sounded an emphatic warning to rivals at this year's cricket World Cup when it completed a 4-1 series win over New Zealand on Sunday, taking the final one-day international by 35 runs.
Coming into the series, India was second behind England in ODI world rankings and only eight points ahead of New Zealand which was third and had just completed an impressive 3-0 sweep of Sri Lanka.
India's convincing series victory away from home suggested it will mount a formidable World Cup challenge in England in the middle of the year. On Sunday it demonstrated resilience and versatility in rallying from 18-4 to reach 252, using up all but one ball of its 50 overs. It then bowled out New Zealand for 217 with 35 balls remaining.
Shikhar Dhawan has lauded Rishabh Pant for his performance in international cricket. According to senior pro, Dhawan has become an asset for the team due to his ability to chance the course of a game in a short span of time. Pant, who was the ICC's Emerging Cricket of the Year, is returning back to side for the T20 matches against New Zealand after being left out of the one-day international series which India won 4-1.
"He is an aggressive batsman, an asset for the team, can take away games from opposition in a very short span of time. I hope he grabs this opportunity (in T20s) with both hands," said Dhawan.
The upcoming series could lead to much-needed rest for Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, as Ravi Shastri hinted after India lifted the ODI series trophy.
"We too are humans and our bodies need a bit of rest. Of course, we would be looking to win the series and carry the momentum back home for the Australia series," said Dhawan on the eve of the game.
Hardik and Krunal are all set to play alongside each other for the first time when India will take on New Zealand in the three-match T20 series. They will join an elite list of brothers who have been part of playing XI at the same time in an international match. Amarnath brothers and Pathan brothers have been part of the playing squad at the same time.
Hardik made his debut for India in 2016 and has become an integral part of the team across formats. Krunal made his international debut against the Windies last year when his brother was injured. They play together for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.
They could have played their first game together in England but Krunal was not included in the playing XI in any of the T20 matches. This will be a memorable moment for Hardik Pandya, who was suspended for his sexist remarks on Koffee with Karan. The suspension, however, was lifted by the BCCI and he was drafted back into the side for the remaining ODI matches against New Zealand.
Rohit Sharma and Yuzvendra Chahal are close buddies and never miss a chance to troll each other. Chahal uploaded a picture from the fourth ODI with an inspirational quote. "Think big, believe big, act big, and the results will be big...!" Chahal wrote on the picture along with Kuldeep Yadav in the frame.
Rohit, the stand-in Indian skipper, trolled his friend with a hilarious comment. "How about ironing your uniform."
Chahal hit back in his own unique style praising Rohit for his effort.
"And my big brother trying to troll me hmm nice try bhaiya you improved little bit keep up," Chahal replied.
Rohit recently came on Chahal TV and the host of the show asked him if he can be promoted to number 3 position in absence of Virat Kohli.
Rohit’s reply was spot on.
"He [Chahal] was our top scorer in the previous match that we lost. But I want you to be the top scorer in a match which go on to win. I will speak to Ravi Bhai for your promotion to No.3 in the T20s," Rohit jokingly said.
All-rounder Shoaib Malik was asked to lead Pakistan after regular skipper Sarfraz Ahmed was banned for four matches by the governing body of international cricket for making racial remarks against the South African all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo. As soon as Shoaib Malik took over from Sarfraz, reports of their alleged fallout started doing the rounds. The announcement by the PCB to appoint captain of the World Cup team after the PSL further ignited the debate about Sarfraz’s captaincy future. Sarfraz, however, is not worried and has categorically denied any sort of feud with Shoaib.
"There is no truth to the claim people who play under Shoaib bhai don't want to play under me. All the boys are very good and support each other. I don't think there's anything about that," he said.
"I'm hopeful and expectant of a comeback. I came back because I had a four-match ban, and there was just one more match after that. So travelling with the team all that while and not playing, what with me having been away from home for five months, was very hectic. If I had come back with the team and got just three days here before going for the PSL [Pakistan Super League], that would have been very hectic. So getting the rest instead was much better." he added.
He is confident of retaining his place as skipper of the team.
Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly has backed Ambati Rayudu to be part of the World Cup squad and come good in the showpiece event. He scored 90 runs in the final ODI against New Zealand. It was his knock that guided Men in Blue to fighting total. Rayudu shared a 98-run partnership with Vijay Shankar for the fifth wicket and added 74 runs with Kedar Jadhav for the 6th wicket. The right hand batsman was declared Man of the Match for his match winning innings.
“Rayudu played well. He fizzled out in the middle but has played well overall and I think he will go to the WC and he will play in India after this and he will score runs and go to the WC. This is a settled team and the 14-15 core of the team is settled and I hope all these players are fit come the World Cup and this team will be a strong team,” Ganguly was quoted as saying by India TV.
Ganguly also lauded Hardik Pandya, whose blistering knock in the end proved to be the difference between the two sides.
“He (Pandya) showed great mental strength. With time, everything cools off and his approach to the match was also quite better. He adds to the strength of the team,” Ganguly said.
“It’s been a better performance than Australia. It has been complete domination and it’s good to see them dominate at home and away as well. The confidence has been great and it’s quite impressive to see the bowlers get them out in 50 overs. It’s been a great year for India in ODIs,’ he added.
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has praised Babar Azam for his superlative batting performance across formats. According to him, Babar will be among top five batsmen in the future. However, he accepted that he was wrong to predict that young Pakistan batsman would be as good as Virat Kohli.
“I think he will be in the top five [batsmen] of the world very soon across all formats. I thought I was a bit quick off the gun when I said two years ago that he would be almost as good as Virat Kohli but it has taken him a while to show that class,” Arthur was quoted as saying by Express Tribune.
“But if you watched him in the nets couple of years ago, he was a young boy who has developed into a young man, he’s got stronger and fitter and his game gets better and better all the time,” he added.
Pakistan have been undone by South Africa across formats but Babar Azam can held his head high after coming good in the Tests and T20 international series.
“I have never doubted Babar Azam, he keeps on getting better and better and the exciting thing for us is that we haven’t seen the best of Azam yet. He has been unbelievable on this tour. There have been question marks around Azam outside the sub-continent but I think he’s put those to rest now,” the coach added.
India's legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar feels India are favorites to win the 2019 Cricket World Cup that will take place in England and Wales given their "balance" which makes them extremely difficult to beat. Team India recently overpowered New Zealand by 4-1 in the five-match ODI series.
They had a great start to the year as well. Virat Kohli had led India to their first ever ODI bilateral ODI triumph on Australian soil. The fact that it came after they were 0-1 down, made it even more special.
Tendulkar told PTI in an interview, "I have gone on record saying that we have a perfect balance in the team where we will be competitive in any part of the world or on any surface. As far as our chances are concerned, I will not hesitate in saying that we are the favourites."
India are currently ranked no.2 in ICC ODI Team rankings. England are numero-uno when it comes to team rankings and they have played exceptional cricket since their shock early exit from 2015 World Cup. The Men in Blue had reached the finals of the 2017 Champions Trophy and they have also gone from strength to strength in 50-overs format.
The countdown for cricket's biggest carnival - the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup has begun with all the participants trying to be in best possible shape and form by the time the megaevent commences in England and Wales.
India are red-hot favorites to win the 2019 World Cup. Jasprit Bumrah is one of the X-factors for the Men in Blue. There is no better bowler in death overs than Bumrah in white-ball cricket. And Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar has also termed him as a "big threat" for batsmen in World Cup.
"Bumrah will be a big threat to the opposition and a great asset to India at the World Cup," Sachin Tendulkar said.
"I am not surprised by Bumrah's success. Having spent time with him and seen his sincere and honest efforts to improve and learn, I always knew it was a matter of time before he would rattle the best batsmen in the world," Tendulkar said, as quoted by Sportstar.
"I have seen from close quarters how he looks to improve. In 2015, I had seen his ability to win a battle. With Kane Williamson in batting, I had said Bumrah would make his mark. I am happy he has," he added.
Bumrah made his Test debut last year against South Africa and left his mark instantly. After that, he carried his hot form in the Test series against England and Australia as well.
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