ajinkya rahane
Overreaction Monday ft. Michael Vaughan’s comment, Bangladesh cricket’s reality and ISL referees
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India on the brink of a possible Test victory at the Chepauk, with Indian batsmen set to take an insurmountable lead - Monday morning's script couldn't have been better. But, to make it more interesting, we have compiled a few issues which have been a talk of the town in the past week.Michael Vaughan faces the heatOn Sunday, former England skipper Michael Vaughan stated that the Chennai pitch isn’t fit for Test cricket and called it a beach in the grab of a cricket ground.SC Take: You cannot ignore Michael Vaughan, can you? Waking up to a horrific batting performance by England did not cheer up the former skipper, although he did decide to justify the debacle over breakfast. What better way to divert the failure than to put the blame directly on the pitch, which according to Vaughan was a ‘shocker’ and an ‘unprepared one’ and a 'beach'. Albeit not even a soul was nearby to point out to him that India had actually scored 329 runs on the same pitch a day earlier, with the Englishman even taking to Twitter to laud the efforts of Rohit Sharma’s brilliant century. Indian fans took the privilege of taking a dig at the former cricketer on a cozy Sunday.Even if that comment backfired, he could have abstained further embarrassment by not playing the ‘produce whatever you want at home to gain an advantage’ card. It drew immediate attention from one of the greatest spinners - Shane Warne, who refuted the statement. Maybe, Vaughan could have peeped at the scorecard of the second Test during India’s tour of England, in 2018. James Anderson and Stuart Broad made merry on the ‘green top’. Was Michael Vaughan’s Twitter handle deactivated back then?Monty Panesar needs to do homework before making commentsIf the Indian lose the second Test, it would be the end of Virat Kohli’s captaincy, claims Monty Panesar.SC Take: To put things into perspective, there hasn't been a complete batsman other than Kohli in the modern era, while his extraordinary stats have set our expectations sky-high. He also boasts of maintaining a stupendous record as a captain, especially in Tests, currently the most successful for India, with 33 wins in 58 Test matches. Former cricketer Monty Panesar felt that Virat Kohli should be axed from his leadership duties if India lost the second Test in the ongoing series against England after the Indian lost just the 2nd Test of his career as a captain at home. Ridiculous, isn’t it?Agreed, that Ajinkya Rahane is back from a historic Test series win as skipper from Australia, but we cannot deny the facts. Australia were the last team to achieve the feat when Steve O’Keefe bagged 12 wickets to tumble the hosts on a tricky Pune pitch. India’s dominance at home can only be compared to Steve Waugh’s unit, which was hardly unhurt at home during the early 2000s. Detractors will justify themselves from all corners, but we need to learn to defend the man who has overseen the cricket team to grow as an unstoppable force. It's time Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) accepts the realityNazmul Hassan slammed Bangladesh captain and coach over team selection after the team lost its second consecutive Test to Bangladesh to concede the series.SC Take: Bangladesh’s policy of churning out positive results by preparing spin-friendly wickets at home, is well documented in the past, but what they haven’t realised is the fact that away teams have now prepared a blueprint to break the code. The recent loss to a second-string West Indies side is evident how their successful strategy has backfired. But, why is the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) President Nazmul Hassan complaining over poor team selection, having lashed out at their captain and coach?This was coming and Bangladesh cannot pretend that they weren't aware of it. Bangladesh have failed to mature as a Test-playing nation. Period. While they have improved leaps and bounds in limited-overs cricket, the longer format doesn’t seem to attract them too much. The domestic structure breathes on limited-overs leagues like the Dhaka Premier League and the Bangladesh Premier League, while a similar effort is missing in the National Cricket League - the breeding ground for the longer format. There’s no escape from reality until the above-mentioned gap is bridged. Referees are humans, they have flesh and bloodSC East Bengal officials continue to crib regarding the quality of refereeing.SC Take: We can’t deny that poor refereeing has been the hallmark of the ongoing Indian Super League, with the officials often finding themselves under the scanner. But, the repercussions have been abnormal, to say the least, with the coaches stooping low to an unbearable level to voice their protests. SC East Bengal was denied a genuine penalty during their game against Hyderabad FC, earlier this week, which evidently flooded the social media with hate messages from the fanatics. As keen followers of the beautiful game, we should take into account that we are not privileged enough to have Video Assistant Referee (VAR) nor that humans tend to make mistakes.What’s more unfortunate is the way high-profile coaches have reacted to the same, with Robbie Fowler handed a five-match ban for racist comments, while Stuart Baxter got himself sacked by Odisha FC over sexual violent remarks made a few days back. No wonder we are going to face such issues until VAR is introduced in the ISL. Even Arsenal’s David Luiz was sent off in a bizarre way, but their rage was limited to a decent level. Yes, Indian football needs to grow a lot.Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .
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IND vs ENG | Rahane is a reliable player in crisis, he scores on tough pitches, opines Sunil Gavaskar 
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Former Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar feels India's Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane always stands up for the team in crisis situations and is the one who scores on tough decks. Mark Butcher also praised Rahane's footwork and found his criticism unjustified in lead up to the second Test.Ajinkya Rahane hadn't crossed the fifty-run-mark in Test cricket since his masterclass at the MCG where he had scored a match-winning ton for India. He had failed in the next four Tests and not able to capitalize on his starts. He had a poor Chennai Test as all he managed was one run in India's 227-run loss. But in India's first innings in the second Test, the right-hander batted wonderfully well alongside fellow Mumbaikar Rohit Sharma as they stitched together a big partnership of 162 runs for the fourth-wicket and they helped India reach 300 for 6 at the close of play on the first day of the Test in what was a tricky surface to bat at the Chepauk.Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar was full of praise for Rahane as he termed him a 'reliable player' in 'crisis' for the country and also the one who scores on tough decks. "That's what he has done. That's the kind of batsman and cricketer he is, learning from mistakes. He's somebody who is such a reliable player in a crisis for India. On tough pitches, he's the one who scores runs," Gavaskar said, reported HT.On being asked the difference in this knock, Gavaskar analyzed, "I think his confidence. On the left side (examining Rahane's second-innings dismissal in the first Test), you see that his head is more outside the off stump, and therefore he's not able to judge where or how the ball is going to move. On the right side, you can see the foot also is going straighter and therefore when the ball comes in for you to make that late adjustment, it becomes straighter. But when your foot is moving straighter, you can still make that adjustment."Former England batsman Mark Butcher also applauded Rahane for his fifty on day one and felt all the 'criticism' surrounding him weren't justified. He added that the right-hander's presence greatly helped Rohit Sharma in the middle.“The criticism was a little bit unjustified. He got a beautiful, juicy full toss to get himself off the mark. Since then, he’s been so definite in his footwork than he was in the first Test match,” Butcher explained."We know that Rahane can sit back in the crease. He's a short man so he doesn't mind playing those cut shots outside off stump. He's been a great follow for Rohit. He has allowed Rohit in patches to go down the wicket in that session but Rahane was the one who kept things ticking along. If India score anywhere around 400, I think it's curtains, it'll be 1-1.”Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .
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IND vs ENG | Great to have spectators back; Rahane is one of our top players, states Rohit Sharma
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At the end of an eventful day for Rohit Sharma, he stated that it was great to finally be playing at home in front of spectators, insisting that they would be treated to four more days of good cricket. He also insisted that Rahane is one of India’s top-players, putting down all criticisms of his.Rohit Sharma, after a poor first Test in Chennai, where he scored 6 and 12, scored a knock of ages, with a power-packed 161 against England in the ongoing second Test in Chennai. One of Rohit’s go-to-shots during his long stay at the crease was the sweep shot, something that he has specialised in his cricketing career. Alongside that, his partnership with Ajinkya Rahane lifted India out of troubles and put them in a state of dominance. In the post-day presser, Rohit stressed the impact of the crowd on the players, stating that it livened up the atmosphere. He also insisted that the first Test was a little low from an intensity point of view but reckoned that the crowd will get a good Test match here during the second Test. “It was great fun to have spectators back to the stadium. It livens up the atmosphere, the first game was a little low from an intensity point of view. It was nice to have the crowd back and I’m really happy that they have witnessed good cricket. I’m sure that they are going to enjoy the next four days as well,” Rohit said in the presser. The Indian batsman was also left surprised by the criticism surrounding Ajinkya Rahane, who got out for one and zero in the first Test. Rohit stated that Rahane will always continue to be one of India’s best players and has put his hands up time and again while adding that he advised the right-hander to sweep the spinners. The Mumbaikar also suggested that any target above 350 could well be enough on these raging turners. “Ajinkya is one of our top players, he has from time to time shown us his perfect innings. He has done it a lot in the past as well. When he came out to bat, it was crucial, we had lost three wickets as well. He put his hands up and showed his batsmanship in difficult situations. I have no idea why the conversation was going, his knock is crucial for us. On this wicket, 350 is a good score, we still have four wickets left. So we will hope that we can cross that target and keep playing. These wickets will start turning well from the second, third day,” he added.Rohit also talked about the sweep shot, which he insisted is one of the ‘safest’ option to frustrate the bowlers while also taking away LBW from the equation, alongside the catch. “Look I have seen Moeen Ali bowl a lot, he bowls really well in the rough. The sweep shot is something that can frustrate the bowlers. If you are trying to connect the ball, it is a safer option. Even if you top-edge, it will fall safely. It was a percentage shot as well and there were odd deliveries, where I wanted to use my feet and reach the ball perfectly. Pretty much that was the approach.”Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .
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IND vs ENG | Rohit is a class player and a bad match doesn’t define him, insists Ajinkya Rahane
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Ajinkya Rahane has stated that Rohit Sharma is not too far away from a big score and added that a player of his calibre can turn things around in a flash. The Indian Vice-captain has also added that Indian spinners have a plan to dominate the proceedings in the second Test against the English team.In a deviation from the norm, India lost to England, only the second defeat in 35 home Test matches, and the batting performance came under the scanner. India couldn’t hold on against the dominating English batting performance, and the failure of Rohit Sharma, among others, was considered as a major reason.However, Ajinkya Rahane, who scored 1 & 0 in the Test, stated that the team has full faith in Rohit’s abilities and they believe that Rohit can turn it around in the second Test.“A good player doesn’t need to score 100 and 150 every game. We know Rohit is a class player. If a player doesn’t perform in odd games, that doesn’t mean he is a bad player. Rohit is an important member in the squad and he will soon put up a good score soon. It is all about having faith in the player,” Rahane said in the pre-match press conference.Indian spinners, especially Ravichandran Ashwin, ripped apart England in the second innings but the first innings performance was not upto the mark. It allowed England to get to a total of 578 runs but Rahane is not too fussed about that.“I thought our spinners bowled really well. If you saw the first 2 days of the first Test, there was nothing for our spinners and fast bowlers. Considering they batted for 190 overs and scored 580-odd runs, I thought we bowled really well. If you see the second innings, all our spinners - especially Ashwin - bowled really well. We know if in India the ball is turning, then the opposition will be under pressure. We’re not too concerned about how our spinners are bowling. I’m sure they’ll come up with a plan tomorrow and bowl really well.”England left James Anderson and Dom Bess from the squad for the second Test as a part of their rest and rotation policy while injured Jofra Archer and home-bound Jos Buttler will also miss the game. While Rahane respects that decision, he added that India won’t take the other players lightly.“England have rotated players in Sri Lanka as well. Yes, considering what is happening at the moment, the bubble and the quarantine, it is difficult for the players to actually have that mental strength. It is their plan and I respect that. But for us, each and every member of their team is important. We are not thinking about any individual, we are thinking of them as a team. We want to focus on our strengths.”Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .
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IND vs ENG | Rahane’s troubles at home might be due to his batting position, reckons Aakash Chopra
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Aakash Chopra tried to make sense of Ajinkya Rahane’s flummoxing returns at home and reckoned it could very well be down to the fact that he bats at No.5, by which time the ball gets softened. Chopra described Rahane as an anomaly but asserted that the vice-captain needs to start firing.India’s batting performance in the first Test in Chennai was a collective disaster but one batsman who has come under fire more than the rest is Ajinkya Rahane. 1 and 0 was all the Indian vice-skipper could manage in the first Test and with the double-failure, the 32-year-old’s average at home slipped to 37.35. Of batsmen to have scored a minimum of 500 runs in India since the turn of the last decade, Rahane’s average of 37.35 ranks below everyone barring R Ashwin, Saha, and Gambhir and thus the Mumbaikar’s inconsistency has even seen many questioning his place in the side.There have been many theories as to why Rahane is a much better batsman away than he is at home, and, according to Aakash Chopra, it could be due to the fact that the right-hander bats at No.5. Chopra feels that given Rahane is someone who likes the ball coming onto the bat, batting at No.5 might be working against his style as the time he walks into bat, the ball is already soft.“When he is playing at home, one radical thought that comes to mind is No.5 is a little too low for a player that he is,” Chopra said in a video posted by ESPN Cricinfo.“When you’re someone who likes coming onto the bat nicely, you’re better against the faster bowlers - maybe even against the swinging ball. As compared to a turning ball when the ball has gone soft. He is not someone who muscles the ball; he times the ball. So batting at No.5 might not be working for him. But of course there is no place at the top and that cannot be changed. But it’s absolutely fair to expect more from Rahane. He needs to fire.”The former Indian opener, however, was confident that the Indian vice-captain would bounce back and took the example of the ton Rahane scored against South Africa in Ranchi two years ago, where the 32-year-old turned abysmal home-form around. Given Rahane averages 7 more away than he does at home, Chopra described the right-hander as an anomaly.“He has done it in the past. The innings that comes to mind is the one he played against South Africa in Ranchi. I thought that was the best I saw Ajinkya Rahane at home. He is a bit of an anomaly. Someone who is born, brought up and has played all his cricket in India but relishes conditions overseas because he loves the ball coming on to the bat. “He is not someone extraordinarily equipped to handle spin on a raging turner - which the first Test was by Day 4 and Day 5. You know why he struggles sometimes in India, you just have to be patient with him and expect him to find a way of scoring runs.”Ian Bell, meanwhile, on the same show, insisted that Rahane would be aware of his dwindling returns at home and asserted that it is imperative for the right-hander to get back to consistently accumulating runs for the side.“I’m sure it does play on his mind. You’re always aware of things around you even though you’re trying to block as much as statistics and things in your mind. It’s a surprise that Rahane’s numbers at home aren’t as good as when he travels. Which is a real surprise. But when you’re a top-order player, regardless of where you play, your job is to score runs and that’s what he needs to get back to,” Bell said.Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .
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India’s batting was a collective disaster – but there’s a reason why Rahane is under the pump
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George Bailey led Australia in the curtain raiser of the 2015 World Cup, scored 55 and captained the side to victory. He was then booted out of the team from match two because he did not warrant a place as a batsman. Rahane is far from being a Bailey, but sport is unpredictable, isn’t it?Indeed, sport is unpredictable. At least Test Cricket is. When fans on Social Media took turns in abusing the pitch curator for the first Test in Chennai, V Ramesh Kumar, they were not expecting the wicket to extract a result with two sessions to spare. England, themselves, when they opted to bat into Day 3, did not see an Indian collapse coming, and the fear of being out-batted was what pushed them to carry on for 190 overs. As it turned out, though, England had in fact ended up overestimating their opponents. Only three Indian batsmen in the first innings managed to score more than 35 and half the side batted like they couldn’t be bothered to hang around. Of the six sides that were playing in the subcontinent simultaneously, India’s batting effort in the first innings turned out to be the worst, with them showing the resilience of an air balloon against a hydraulic press. India’s effort on Day 3, in short, was a collective batting disaster, the upshot of which was the side going on to lose its second ever Test at home in 8 years. But no matter how collective the failure is, a team sport isn’t a team sport until there are scapegoats singled out for defeats. That is an unspoken rule. And the unlucky scapegoat for India’s defeat in Chennai, it turned out, was Ajinkya Rahane. Rahane accumulated a total of 1 run across two innings - Shahbaz Nadeem was the only other batsman to accumulate fewer runs - and twice got out in the most village fashion imaginable. In the first innings he chucked a rank full-toss straight to short cover and in the second he hit his pad with his bat to enable Anderson to bowl him through the gate. Nine balls was what he lasted in the entire game and so bad was his showing that fans who 10 days ago wanted him to be appointed full-time Test captain unironically wanted him dumped from the side. Indeed, “Drop Rahane” takes the cake for being the most knee-jerky, reactionary and preposterous suggestion of the week, but playing Devil’s Advocate, there is fair reasoning behind why fans, in general, tend to make Rahane the scapegoat for abject performances at home.There are a fair few cricketers who look like Bradman at home and Chris Martin away but Rahane is an outlier; away from home he averages 7 more than what he does in India. It is one of the reasons why commentators seldom pass the opportunity to point out how Rahane is “one of the rare subcontinent batsman who averages more away than at home”. This should technically be a matter of pride for any batsman but in Rahane’s case, his away record receives the hype because he is an average-at-best batsman at home. On the back of his accumulated score of 1 in Chennai, Rahane’s average in India dropped to 37.35, which is conveniently the worst amongst all the other Indian batsmen in both the line-up and the squad. Ravichandran Ashwin (28.60) is the only other ‘batsman’  to boast of a lower average in home conditions. So considering this, you could understand why frustration mounted within fans when his stumps cartwheeled 30 minutes before lunch on the final day, and why he was made the scapegoat, though this particular dismissal had less to do with his own shortcomings and more to do with the brilliance of Anderson.The two dismissals in Chennai were just the triggering point of frustration that has existed within fans for 8 years now, ever since Rahane made his Test debut. He’s always had the ability but never the consistency - only twice across the last 6 home seasons has he ended a calendar year with an average north of 45. Usually, he justifies his selection by scoring heavily outside the subcontinent. A marvellous 2015 and 2016 threatened to put an end to it but he was back in his not-so-merry ways in 2017, where he averaged 25.00. In fact, 31.17 is what he is averaging in his last 20 Tests at home, having struck a solitary ton. These are poor numbers by anyone’s standards, but for an Indian number 5? That too at home? Unacceptable, you could say.Any player with such ‘unacceptable’ numbers generally gets dropped, but the trade-off with Rahane is that he tends to score, at least at times, tough and crucial runs. In just the fifth home Test of his career, he scored twin hundreds against South Africa in Delhi in a game which saw only two other 50+ scores in the entire match; Two Tests later he scored an invaluable 77 against New Zealand walking in at 46/3 on a tricky morning at the Eden Gardens; and, most notably, in 2017, batting alongside Pujara, he scored a series-defining 52 in Bengaluru against Australia in what could be described as the most important Test for India in the last half a decade. These are knocks that prove that he can bat.That he is a ‘bad’ player of spin is also a myth. He averages over 44 against both leg-spinners and off-spinners and a healthy 39.7 versus left-arm spinners. He has over 20 first-class hundreds in India and, prior to making his Test debut,  was one of the finest young batsmen against spin bowling. So what has gone wrong in his Test career then? Why has he never been able to replicate his domestic exploits? Whether it’s a pure psychological block or if he made any technical adjustments that deterred his ability to score freely on slower sub-continent tracks, no one quite knows. But it is clear that Rahane struggles to score big at home. To put his struggles to score ‘big’ in perspective, in just 3 Tests Rishabh Pant almost has the same number of 90+ scores (3) as Rahane (4) in India. He not only has struggled to be consistent, he has also failed to make it count when he’s been in good nick. Remarkably, across 8 years, 11 times is all Rahane has passed fifty in India. Only 4 times out of the eleven he’s reached three figures - only one score of 130 or more in that - and only 8 times he has even managed to pass 60. Some may argue that this is largely due to the ridiculously strong Top 4 that has batted above him, which is true to an extent, but that Ravindra Jadeja has only 1 fewer fifty-plus score in India than Rahane in the same number of innings at a far superior strike rate, often batting two positions below, debunks this theory.  Rahane's hideous home returns © @ ESPN Cricinfo This table, in many ways, illustrates how poor a batsman Rahane has been in India. Since January 1, 2010, almost every Indian batsman - and a fair few foreigners, including Darren Bravo - who has at least scored 500 runs in India has boasted an average far superior to that of Rahane’s. Wriddhiman Saha, Gautam Gambhir and Ravichandran Ashwin are the only other Indians to have an average lower than Rahane’s 37.35 at home since the turn of the previous decade and two of them are not specialist batsmen. To be fair to Rahane, though, he did improve his numbers in the previous home season. In 2019, albeit against weak South African and Bangladesh sides, he accumulated 353 across 6 innings and passed fifty 4 times. But there, too, he did not go big as you’d expect a No.5 batsman in India to. Only once he passed the three-figure mark and that, too, came to a halt at 115. Twice he was dismissed in the fifties and once in the 80s; these are good returns but, on flat wickets, will only work if there is another batsman who’s already scored a daddy hundred. Going forward, this will be the single biggest challenge lying ahead of Rahane - does he have it in him to go big? Not 80 big or 125 big, but 175 big. 223 big. Because the time might come when he has to. In fact, it already might have arrived. With the introduction of a new-ish opening pair in the form of Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma, and of course the addition of Pant, the Indian batting is in the midst of mini-transition of sorts. Rahane, Kohli and Pujara are, really, the nucleus of the side. Why it’ll be imperative for Rahane to start scoring big is because of the indifferent form of both the other two senior men. Between 2016 and 2018, daddy hundreds - and double tons - scored by Kohli and Pujara gave Rahane the leeway to not be prolific - his lack of runs had no real effect on the eventual outcome. But with Kohli having scored just 1 ton in his last 12 Test matches, and with Pujara having scored no tons at home in three-and-a-half years, Rahane no longer has the luxury to leech off the brilliance of those above him. All of Pujara, Rohit and Kohli are at some point destined to go through lean patches in home conditions but, unlike Rahane, they have enough credits in their bank to even go extended periods without a meaningful contribution. Not that they will, but why in such a scenario they will be better-placed than Rahane is because of their exploits over the years. Rahane was given a pass when he failed to make it count when the batsmen above him flourished but it is hard to see him get the same treatment, at least from fans, should he, like he did in Chennai, not stand up when the chips are down. So, the ball is in Rahane’s court. It is hard to imagine him becoming a George Bailey, but, then again, sport is unpredictable, isn’t it?Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .
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What if Wednesday | What if England had not recalled Joe Root after Ashes 2013/14
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After he accumulated just 192 runs across the first four Tests of Ashes 2013/14, England, in Sydney, did the unthinkable and dropped Joe Root. He was, however, immediately recalled and Root has since gone on to become one of England’s greatest. But what if the Yorkshireman never received the recall?The shock axe came as a blessing for Root, who has since averaged 52.81 in Test cricket. As things stand, he is in line to become the greatest English cricketer of all time. But what if the selectors had decided against giving the golden boy of English cricket an immediate recall?The wounds of the 5-0 drubbing are still fresh in the minds of the English selectors who, ahead of home Tests against Sri Lanka and India, are keen to blood fresh faces. Root, they feel, needs to work on his technique in first-class cricket and thus they draft in Middlesex’s Sam Robson, who’d struck a stunning 1180 runs in the 2013 county season. But Robson isn’t the only fresh face that is introduced as the selectors also award call-ups to 23-year-old James Vince and 37-year-old Darren Stevens, both of whom had set the Division 2 ablaze. Robson is expected to get the nod for the first Test of the summer at Lord’s but, instead, much to the bemusement of many, the management hand debuts to both Vince and Stevens. Vince’s selection, in particular, raises eyebrows but the youngster squashes doubts in trademark swashbuckling fashion, smashing a whirlwind double-ton in his first-ever knock at the highest level. Stevens’ average of 62 in the 2013 county season does not reflect in his maiden outing with the bat, but he slaughters the Lankans through some unplayable military medium bowling to help England go 1-0 up in the series. But despite running through the Lankans with the ball in match one, it is Stevens’ showing with the bat in match two that helps England pocket the series. Needing to survive 117 overs in the fourth innings to save the game and win the series, England are in tatters at 57/5, but, acting as a lone warrior, Stevens bats with the tail and notches up a maiden Test century to keep the Lankan bowlers at bay. The 37-year-old faces a remarkable 338 balls for his 103* and, together with Chris Jordan and Stuart Broad, bats out the final day to seal the series for the Three Lions. Stevens’ showing with bat and ball locks his place in the England XI for the five-Test series against India but he won’t be the only all-rounder in action for the Three Lions as the selectors also recall Ben Stokes, who they’ve zeroed in on as their next project. The India series is seen by many as a direct H2H battle between youth icon Stokes and ‘dad’ Stevens but the youngster sabotages the battle on his own as, after three consecutive ducks, he finds himself out of the side. The veteran, in contrast, averages 18.34 with the ball and 42.80 with the bat and is named the Man of the Series for helping England win 4-0. But it is not just England who Stevens ended up helping in the series. In the third Test in Southampton, the 37-year-old, fielding at second slip, put down the catch of Virat Kohli off the bowling of James Anderson and the reprieve enabled the Indian superstar to leave a mark on English soil. After registering scores of 1, 28, 25 and 0 in the first four knocks in the series, the Stevens drop turned around the fortunes of Kohli, who eventually finished the series with an average of 40.50.But while Stevens single-handedly resurrected the career of one Indian superstar, he also, contrastingly, destroyed the career of another. Across 10 innings in the five-Test series, the 37-year-old dismissed Ajinkya Rahane 8 times, making dismissing the Mumbaikar a mere formality. “c Cook b Stevens” ended up being a recurring theme in the entire series and Rahane, flabbergastingly, notched up just 106 runs in 5 Tests, letting his career average drop to a sorrow-looking 26.16.Rahane’s confidence shooting to rock-bottom leaves the Indian selectors with no option but to axe the 26-year-old for the Border Gavaskar Trophy, but the drop opens the door for Kedar Jadhav. With 1,223 runs at a ridiculously high average of 87.35, Jadhav had ended the 2013/14 Ranji Trophy as the highest run-getter, and the Maharashtra man instantly brings the prolific form to international cricket. Jadhav scores a ton in his very first knock in Test cricket in the first innings of Adelaide, but it is his 63* in the second dig which makes him an overnight cult hero. The 29-year-old injects momentum into the chase of 364 post-Murali Vijay’s dismissal, and, post the dismissal of Kohli, sees the side home with the help of fellow debutant Karn Sharma to help India achieve the impossible. A loss in the very next Test in Brisbane threatens to undo Jadhav’s heroics, but his efforts do not go in vain as India end up retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after drawing the series 1-1. After manhandling Lyon, Jadhav develops the reputation of being a ‘good’ player of spin, but in Sri Lanka, the 29-year-old goes from ‘good’ to ‘great’. Chasing a daunting 176 on Day 5 on a Galle wicket that is spitting venom, India’s top-order falls like a pack of cards, but Jadhav stays afloat. Fighting a lone battle, he sweeps, sweeps and sweeps his way to glory and incredibly, against all odds, stitches a 62-run stand for the 9th wicket alongside Amit Mishra to steer India over the line and hand Virat Kohli his Test victory as a full-time skipper. More dominant performances, including twin centuries in Delhi versus South Africa, follow from the bat of Jadhav, who with 1000 runs in 15 innings becomes the fastest Indian since Vinod Kambli to get to four figures. With four tons and an average of 88.20, the Maharashtra man is flying high and he is duly rewarded for his ludicrous start to Test cricket by being named the vice-captain of India’s Test side. Jadhav’s first assignment as the deputy to Kohli is the five-Test series at home to England, but, to his utter horror, the first Test in Rajkot turns out to be a match to forget for the 30-year-old. England find themselves in pole position courtesy two 150-run stands in the same game from the duo of Alastair Cook and James Vince, but needing to negate just 53 overs in the final day to salvage a draw, disaster strikes for India. At 71/3, needing to see off just 20 more overs, with Kohli and Jadhav in the middle, the hosts think they are safe, but a tragic mix-up between the two batsmen results in the departure of the skipper. The vice-skipper perishes the very next over and the back-to-back strikes opens the door for Adil Rashid, who runs through the lower-order to help England script an improbable victory.  A double century at the Wankhede from Kohli helps India get back on level terms, and the series goes down to the wire, with both teams having won one Test each heading into the finale in Chennai.Centuries from James Vince and 40-year-old Darren Stevens, who prior to the game announced he would be retiring after this Test, helps England post a gigantic 477 on the board but while the visitors think they’ve batted India out of the game, a certain Mumbaikar making his comeback to the Test side proves them wrong and brings them down to their knees. Two years after being humiliated by the Three Lions, Rahane marks his return to the longest format with a stunning triple century, and completes his revenge by taking 28 runs off the final over of the career of Stevens. This is not the only win in a series decider India pull off against the odds, though, as, four months later, they record an equally absurd victory. With skipper Virat Kohli ruled out with injury, the Aussies, after salvaging an improbable draw in Ranchi, are deemed heavy favourites to win the series in Dharamsala, but that isn’t to be. Jadhav, captaining the country for the first time in his career, marshalls the troops to perfection and seals a 2-1 series win over arch-rivals Australia to send India atop the ICC Test rankings. The series loss to India shatters Aussie hearts, but the already-shattered hearts are cut into pieces 8 months later. For, propelled by career-defining performances from the returning duo of Joe Root and Ben Stokes, the Three Lions retain the urn on Aussie soil for the second time in seven years. Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .
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IND vs ENG | Chepauk Day 5 Talking Points: Jimmy’s reverse masterclass, Inconsistent Rahane and Leach’s fightback
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After Gabba, it won't be wrong to say that Indian fans hoped for a win. As for a draw, it was much expected. But England, James Anderson and Jack Leach had some other plans as the tourists registered an incredible Test win at Chepauk despite an exceptional 72 from Kohli, who didn't get much support.Master James Anderson arrives with his 'reverse-swing' in Chennai James Anderson is great with clouds or without it, with Dukes or without it, in England or Asia. He's a supremely skilled pacer and continues to awe us even at 38, running in and bowling peaches, showcasing how good he is. Winning in India is no joke. You can almost count them on fingers as India merely lost three Tests in the least decade at home. And today, the veteran seamer set-up the game for England.With a leg-side field, the plan was clear, Anderson was going to target pads and stumps. But Gill already had his eye in. But, he bowled a ripper of a reverse-swinging delivery to get the youngster out. One of the notable things was that, with his angle, the ball was going to come in, it was a fifth-day pitch, there was movement off the deck too, so he was able to get that very late reverse-swing. He was also bowling a lot of cutters and putting a lot of backspin. His wrist position was great as usual, the seam position perfect. He, shortly, accounted for the wickets of Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant, using the angle really well. This was also the first time since 2008 that a bowler has bowled out two top-six India batsmen in one over. He finished his spell of five overs, giving six runs and taking three wickets, setting up for a rare Test victory in India. It was reminiscent of his classic spells in Mumbai 2006, Kolkata and Nagpur 2012. Elite!Ajinkya 'Inconsistent' RahaneThe team is under real pressure. Youngster Shubman Gill gets out to a James Anderson beauty. But India's Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane walks in. He had got out on a full toss in the first innings to leave India in trouble but he can amend the wrong today. He gets lucky on the second delivery he faces from a rampant Anderson and, despite a short-stride and getting caught in front, he survives. But the very next delivery, pretty much like an inexperienced Gill, there is a big gap between his bat and pad and he gets dismissed leaving India in a rut yet again. As remarkably as the 32-year-old was to lead India to a series win in Australia, his inconsistent batting performance did get overlooked. Barring the MCG ton and the Test, he managed scores of 42, 0, 22, 4, 37, 24 in the series. Since the start of 2020, across seven Tests and 14 innings, Rahane has accumulated merely 360 runs at a below-par average of 27.69 and only once has he crossed the fifty-run-mark. It doesn't reflect too well on as senior member as him given the responsibility he carries alongside Kohli and Pujara.And notably, it was only the 2019 West Indies tour from where he regained form and then did well at home against South Africa and Bangladesh respectively. As before that, in the one year or so, he had averaged 33.61. Quite inconsistent. So, this has been one feature of the Mumbaikar in Tests. He has quite a few such phases, where he gets away sans consistent performances. But given the rise of young Indian batsmen, it would be interesting to see how things pan out for him as there aren't a dearth of good options for the team in the middle-order.Jack Leach's incredible fightback As much as a dream it was for Jack Leach to play Test cricket in favourable Indian conditions, he was welcomed brutally by Rishabh Pant. At one stage, he was conceding runs at close to 10 RPO, after his first five overs or so, in India's first innings. On one hand, there was young Dom Bess putting up a brilliant show, on the other, a struggling Leach. He was hit for five sixes by Pant and conceded 4.40 runs per over ending with 2/105. India hasn't been easy to crack for even great spinners, Leach was experiencing the same. But, that is where your mettle and character comes into play. He was the senior spinner to Bess, had to a lot to prove after averaging 35.50 with the ball in Sri Lanka. And in the second innings, he just showcased that he is up for a fight and a Pant like assault won't outdo his years of hard yards in the county to earn the English cap. Late in the fourth day, he delivered a jaffa to Rohit Sharma. The ball drifted in, then straightened, hit the stumps. The dream was on again. But Pujara was one of the biggest challenges between a draw for India and a win for England. He just doesn't budge, keeps batting for hours. But he was also determined. Making full use of the fifth-day surface, Leach bowled a peach. The ball had turned and bounced enough to catch the shoulder of Pujara's bat, and jolted India's backbone. It was huge in the context of the game. Leach was not only bowling exceptionally but also making up for Bess' poor bowling. When Ashwin showed resistance with Kohli, he again struck and suddenly the horrors of the day three no longer mattered or existed for him as he was living the dream. To top it all off, he ended Nadeem's stay to bring an almost close to the Indian innings.After conceding nearly 70 runs in the first seven overs in India, Leach ended up with six wickets in the match. Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .
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IND vs ENG | We could have batted better and eliminated soft dismissals, rues Cheteshwar Pujara
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Cheteshwar Pujara, following the third day’s play, has rued that the Indian batting unit could have batted better on the day and should have eliminated the soft dismissals. However, Pujara insisted that his dismissal was unfortunate and added that he couldn’t have done anything about that.At 257/6, India would look back at their first innings effort, which has put them under undue pressure chasing England’s mammoth first innings total of 578. However, there were a lot of soft dismissals on the way, including a freakish dismissal which saw the back of Cheteshwar Pujara. Since then, the duo of Washington Sundar and Ravichandran Ashwin have stayed put at the crease to see the day out. During the day, however, there were a lot of dismissals, which irked Cheteshwar Pujara, who insisted that the home team could have shown more application with the bat. He also stated that there were a lot of soft dismissals which could have been eliminated. The Indian No.3 batsman also revealed that the pitch isn’t as bad as expected, with it still good enough to bat on. “There is a bit of spin now, I don’t think it is that bad. First two days it was really really flat, our bowlers did their best. It was a pitch that had no assistance for the spinners in the first two days. Anyways, we have to accept reality and move on. Batting wise, we could have batted better, there were some soft dismissals that could be eliminated, the way I got out and Rahane got out. But with Ashwin and Washington playing, hope they put on a partnership and put us in a good position tomorrow,” said Pujara in the virtual press conference. “We will try taking one session at a time, the first session tomorrow would be crucial. We would like to bat as long as possible. It’s still a good pitch to bat on and we have our tail-enders to bat, so there’s a lot to play for and we want to get close to their score.”Pujara also opened up on India’s approach, with the Indian batsmen getting their runs at a far higher pace than the English counterparts. He also opined that Ajinkya Rahane’s shot would have found the gap nine out of ten times and raced off to the boundary. However, on the day, it went straight into the hands of Joe Root, who put on a show in the field. “No it wasn’t part of a game plan (to score quickly), we just wanted to bat normally. The conditions are different, in India, the scoring rate is always on the higher side and there were loose deliveries. Rishabh bats that way, he wants to bat his natural way, that’s fair and that is how he should play. The ball was there for Rahane to hit but unfortunately for him, it went to covers. Nine out of ten times, he would have scored a boundary. I didn’t want to do anything extra, I was getting runs, we weren’t thinking of getting close to their total. We just wanted to put the bad balls away.”On his dismissal, the Saurashtra batsman sighed that it was a dismissal that he couldn’t do anything about, as the ball had hit the close-in fielder Ollie Pope before finding Rory Burns. “My dismissal is something I can’t do anything about as a batsman. That’s the only way I could have gotten out. Everything was going perfect and I was a bit disappointed about it. It was a bad ball and I can’t really help that it went to the fielder.”Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .
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VIDEO | ‘Superman’ Root takes a flying left-handed blinder to send ‘shocked’ Rahane packing 
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Joe Root. Chennai. This connection is turning special with passing time. After making a historic 218 in what is his 100th Test, he takes an absolute jaffa of a catch to help England with the wicket of India's Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane as India are reduced to 73 for 4 in a mini-collapse.English skipper Joe Root is having that sort of Test that whatever he touches turns into gold. This year he has been in maddening form. It is as if he wants to make up for all the wrongs he has done in the last couple of years. It is like he's answering each one of his critics who were questioning his batting, captaincy or status in fab four. So it is the 27th over. Ajinkya Rahane who has been in great form in the last few Test series comes out to the crease. India are still getting in terms with the fact that Virat Kohli who was averaging 344 against spinners in India since 2018 has got out to a rookie Dom Bess. But why panic when India's two specialist Test batsmen Pujara and Rahane are in the middle. Rahane likes to show his presence with positive intent at times. He advances to Dom Bess, takes the ball on the full. It looks like he has timed the ball well enough in first glance and it will go to the left of the fielder at cover. He has middled the ball after all. It is still in air though. But wait, what? The catch has been taken. The fielder at cover has made a full outstretched dive to his left to hand on to the ball with one hand and take a stunner of a catch. Rahane is still standing in disbelief.And it's Joe 'Superman' Root who has done it again. Is there anything he can't do this Test? English fielders are running towards him. There is joy all around. Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .
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