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IPL 2021 – Virat Kohli to join Royal Challengers Bangalore camp in Chennai on April 1

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India captain wants administrators to reconsider the schedule considering the bubble life

Virat Kohli will join the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad on April 1, two days after the team begins their training camp in Chennai. The Royal Challengers will play their initial set of matches, including the IPL tournament opener on April 9 against defending champions Mumbai Indians, in the city.

It is understood that Kohli would need to undergo the mandatory week-long quarantine put in place by the IPL as part the guidelines to operate in the bio-secure environment. On Monday, Kohli quit the bubble in Pune after India’s ODI series against England, which got over on Sunday.

Kohli has been part of bio-secure bubbles since the end of January, ahead of the England series, and has been part of each of the four Tests, five T20Is and three ODIs. Now, he will be part of his IPL franchise set-up within two days of India finishing their international home assignments.

The schedule continues to be relentless post the IPL, too, as India will enter a bubble soon after ahead of their departure to England in June for the World Test Championship final against New Zealand. That would be followed by a five-Test series in England. India are then scheduled to return home to prepare for the T20 World Cup, to be played in October-November at home.

On Sunday, soon after winning the ODI series in Pune, Kohli underlined the need for administrators to look at the scheduling, keeping in consideration player movements from one bubble to another in a challenging environment because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Scheduling needs to be looked at in future, because playing in bubbles for so long, two to three months, is going to be very, very difficult going forward,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation. “You can’t expect everyone to be at the same level of mental strength.

“Sometimes you do get cooked and you do feel like a bit of a change. I am sure things will be discussed and things will change in the future as well. But a different tournament, it brings fresh challenges heading into the IPL.”

Meanwhile, the pair of Yuzvendra Chahal and Mohammed Siraj, who flew to Chennai from Pune on Monday afternoon, would be available to training from Tuesday. The IPL guidelines allow players travelling between bubbles to skip the quarantine and start training.

A healthy proportion of the Royal Challengers, who finished fourth in IPL 2020, reached Chennai last week. This group included the team director Mike Hesson, Sanjay Bangar, (appointed as assistant coach from this season), along with fast bowler Navdeep Saini. Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers, too, reached Chennai over the weekend.



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Ramesh Powar returns as India Women coach, no extension for WV Raman

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He replaces WV Raman, coming back after his last stint had ended in an acrimonious fallout with Mithali Raj

Ramesh Powar has returned as the India Women coach, after his first stint ended in acrimony in late 2018 amid a fallout with Mithali Raj.

Powar was replaced by WV Raman, and will now take over from the incumbent. While Raman’s coaching tenure began in December 2018, the Indian team has been largely inactive for almost two years, including the time period after which the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

Under Raman, India reached the final of the T20 World Cup in 2020, losing to Australia on March 8. With the pandemic striking worldwide almost immediately after, the team didn’t play another international match until their home series against South Africa Women that began on March 7 earlier this year. South Africa won the ODIs 4-1, and the T20Is 2-1.

Raman’s position had come in for scrutiny following the losses to South Africa, and those reversals, ESPNcricinfo understands, prompted the selection panel led by Neetu David to ask the BCCI for a rethink on the support staff. BCCI secretary Jay Shah is believed to have spoken to at least one member of the selection committee before the Indian board put out an advertisement, on April 13, inviting applications for the head coach’s job – for a term of two years, with the job including overseeing the senior team as well as the India A and Under-19 teams.

Powar was then selected by the Cricket Advisory Committee, comprising Madan Lal, RP Singh and Sulakshana Naik, who interviewed a number of candidates for the post which saw 35 applications. Besides Powar and Raman – who re-applied – the others in the fray were Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Ajay Ratra, Mamtha Maben, Devika Palshikar, former chair of selectors Hemlatha Kala, and former assistant coach Suman Sharma.





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Steven Smith was given captaincy too young but I’d support him getting the job again

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“Obviously I don’t make that decision but the time I played with Steve as captain he was excellent,” Paine said of Smith

Australia captain Tim Paine has argued that Steven Smith was too immature for the demands of captaincy when the national role was first handed to him in 2014 and 2015. But Paine has fewer qualms about Smith returning to the job whenever the incumbent chooses to retire.

Paine, who initially had been unsure of whether he would continue as captain beyond the end of the 2019 Ashes, has hung on for another two years since, and the national team coach Justin Langer has attempted to end any speculation on the future by claiming that the selectors aren’t even discussing the issue.

But this summer’s Ashes series looms as the most logical conclusion to Paine’s unexpected run in the job, which came about directly through the Newlands scandal that saw Smith banned from playing for a year and banned from leadership for two years.

“At least another six Tests,” Paine told the Chappell Foundation dinner when asked how long he had left. “If I feel like the time is right and we’ve beaten the Poms 5-0, what a way to go out. But it might be a tight series and we might be chasing 300 on the last day and I’m 100 not out and hit the winning runs — and then I might go again.”

Smith’s entourage, including his leadership mentor Maurice Duffy, are adamant that he should get the chance for a second go at a role that was snatched away from him after events in South Africa.

“It would be a tragedy right now if he didn’t get the opportunity to be captain again,” Duffy told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2019. “He owns himself much more now. He has an inner calmness. He owns his own feelings a lot better now, he’s much more in control of himself. I think he’s got a better outlook on life right now and I think he appreciates hugely what has been given to him.”

Other senior figures in Australian cricket are not so sure, and New South Wales broadened the race to replace Paine by handing domestic limited-overs captaincy duties to Pat Cummins instead of Smith earlier this year. Paine, who has never argued against Smith getting the job again, maintained his stance on Wednesday night.

“I think so. Obviously I don’t make that decision but the time I played with Steve as captain he was excellent. Certainly tactically he is as good as you get,” Paine said. “He’s probably a bit like me when I was at the start of my captaincy journey in Tasmania — he was thrown into a very big role at a very, very young age and he probably wasn’t quite ready for it.

“But by the time I came in he was growing into that role and getting better and better. Then obviously South Africa events happened and he’s not doing it anymore. But yeah I would support him getting that job again.”

On captaincy in general, Paine said that in his experience that ambition for leadership was often a dangerous thing. “In my experience the guy who wants it too much is probably not the best option,” Paine said. “So if [his son] Charlie does come up and says he wants to be captain of Australia, I’d say just lower your expectations and worry about being a good player and a good team man and whatever happens from that would happen.”

Reflecting on the series defeat to India, Paine said that the hosts had been distracted by the tourists’ psychological tactics. “Part of the challenge of playing against India is they’re very good at niggling you and trying to distract you with stuff that doesn’t really matter,” Paine said, “and there were times in that series where we fell for that.

“The classic example was when they said they weren’t going to the Gabba so we didn’t know where we were going. They’re very good at creating these sideshows and we took our eye off the ball.”

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig



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WBBL 2021 – Shafali Verma, Radha Yadav set for maiden WBBL deals

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Verma has already signed a contract with two-time champions Sydney Sixers

India batter Shafali Verma and left-arm spinner Radha Yadav are set to make their Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) debuts later this year in Australia.

ESPNcricinfo understands that Verma, 17, has already signed a contract with two-time champions Sydney Sixers while Yadav, 21, is on the verge of finalising her deal with one of the two Sydney-based clubs. Aside from Verma and Yadav, at least one more India player is likely to make her maiden appearance in the competition this season.

“Yes, Shafali has signed the contract with Sydney Sixers, and given she is a minor, I have had to give my consent, too,” Verma’s father, Sanjeev, told ESPNcricinfo. “I would like to thank the BCCI and Haryana Cricket Association [HCA] for giving my daughter the permission and support to play in the WBBL. Without the guidance of the HCA, whatever Shafali is doing in her career wouldn’t have been possible.”

A senior BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo that the WBBL could see the largest ever Indian contingent this season. “All players who have been or will be approached by Big Bash teams will be given all necessary permissions to participate in the WBBL this season,” he said on the condition of anonymity.

Verma, as reported by ESPNcricinfo last week, is also set to make her debut in the inaugural edition of the Hundred, the 100-ball domestic competition of the ECB. She will be joined by her India team-mates Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma and Jemimah Rodrigues.

Only three India players have played in the WBBL previously. India T20I captain Kaur and vice-captain Mandhana debuted in the 2016-17 edition for the Sydney Thunder and the Brisbane Heat respectively. While Kaur played three straight seasons for the Thunder, Mandhana’s second bow in the competition was for the Hobart Hurricanes, in 2018-19. Veda Krishnamurthy played a solitary season, in 2017-18, also for the Hurricanes.

The WBBL didn’t have any Indian representation in 2019-20 as they focussed on preparing for the 2020 T20 World Cup instead, with assignments against South Africa and West Indies during the same time as the WBBL. A clash in scheduling with the 2020 Women’s T20 Challenge, the domestic three-team, four-match competition run by the BCCI, ruled at least three top-drawer India players out of the WBBL.

The seventh season of the WBBL is likely to run in its usual October-November window, and overseas players will be expected to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival in Australia.

Additional reporting by Daniel Brettig

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha



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