Connect with us

Cricket

Ind vs NZ Test series – Sidharth Monga

Published

on


News

Sending him to South Africa with India A will help him acclimatise before the Test team’s visit, when they are likelier to need a sixth specialist batter

Hanuma Vihari last played for India on one leg. He fought excruciating pain from a hamstring tear to help India save the Sydney Test in January this year, which became the foundation for their greatest away Test series win. It was clear to Vihari even then that the next Test in Brisbane – with Virat Kohli away on paternity leave – was going to be his best chance to get another game for India because he hardly gets to play at home, and because India were beginning to get comfortable with the idea of Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja as the sixth and seventh batters even in away Tests.
True to expectation, Vihari has not played a Test since, and now that Kohli is resting again, it seems, on the face of it, extremely harsh that he has been left out of India’s squad for the upcoming home Tests against New Zealand. The BCCI communication on the selection says nothing about any exclusion – so we assume Kohli (for the first Test), Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami are resting – nor has there been any press conference or interview with Chetan Sharma, the chairman of selectors. Nor has there been any communication that Vihari is a late addition to the India A team that is travelling to South Africa on a shadow tour shortly before the Test team’s scheduled visit.

Now that it is established that Vihari is indeed going to the A tour of South Africa, it is possible to understand the likely thought process behind his non-selection against New Zealand. India usually play only five specialist batters at home, which leaves no room for Vihari – only one of his 12 Tests so far has come at home. So instead of him being in the squad and carrying drinks, India probably feel it is better he goes on the A tour of South Africa. His getting acclimatised for an important tour that India will be on is an added advantage. India’s domestic first-class season starts in January, so this is the only first-class cricket he can get before India’s tour of South Africa, where they may well play six batters.

Then again, this was a rare chance for Vihari to get a home Test even if it was just the one Test before Kohli returns for the second. This Test, though, is instead an opportunity for India to try Shubman Gill in the middle order, a station he is believed to be more suited to in the long run. You also suspect India want a slightly more assertive batter than Vihari if they are going to play just the five in India.

As with most decisions, there is a flip side. The flip side for Vihari is that if Gill gets a century in his only Test in the middle order, it could prop him up as the sixth batter in South Africa, ahead of Vihari. If that happens, it will actually vindicate the selectors because their job is to pick teams that are best for India and not see what is fair or unfair on an individual.

The flip side for India is a last-minute injury. In such a scenario, Vihari might be a better option than Shreyas Iyer, the other middle-order batter in the squad, to step in. That is a risk, it appears, the selectors are willing to take. In the past, the selectors have been criticised for keeping players on the bench for too long, denying them match time. Karun Nair, for example, kept travelling with the team without getting into the XI, and when a vacancy opened up during the 2018 tour of England, India overlooked him in favour of Vihari, who had more game time, first-class runs and, perhaps, form behind him.

The choice for the selectors was between giving Vihari one Test at home and most likely having him as standby for the second, and sending him on the A tour so he could be ready for the Test tour of South Africa, where India are far likelier to need a sixth batter. The selectors, it appears, have gone for the latter. Even if India play just five batters in South Africa, it can’t be ruled out that Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane might be under pressure to hold onto their slot.

Like Nair’s, there is a chance that Vihari’s career might go down as a terribly unfortunate one. He just happened to be the fourth-best middle-order batter in India at a time when they only played three in a bid to pick an extra bowler and push for more Test wins. Vihari once had to open in Australia to find a place in the side. Unlike Nair, he doesn’t even feature in the IPL.

You could still argue that it is unfortunate for Vihari to miss this one Test in hand for three that may not even be in the bush. Such a selection might be easier to understand if the three regular middle-order batters were averaging in the 50s since the start of 2020 rather than the 20s, but the numbers of Pujara, Kohli and Rahane in this period need to be viewed in context. The Tests they have played in this time have been part of an era where conditions have been incredibly bowling-friendly, especially in games involving India. Vihari’s reality is unfortunately that of being a batter in India in this era, but ask any selector, and they will take leaving out good players over having to scramble to find them.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo



Source link

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Cricket

Travis Head wins the race to be Australia's No. 5 in the Ashes

Published

on



Mitchell Starc will complete the fast-bowling trio alongside Josh Hazlewood and captain Pat Cummins



Source link

Continue Reading

Cricket

Mithali Raj – We have had ‘good preparation’ for 2022 World Cup by playing SA, England, Australia this year

Published

on


News

“We are getting to play in New Zealand before World Cup which is also good,” she says

India Women are scheduled to play only one ODI series – against New Zealand – before the World Cup early next year but captain Mithali Raj feels the team has had “good preparation” so far in 2021.
This year, India hosted South Africa for five ODIs before playing a three-match series in England and Australia each. They lost all three series but made Australia, the No. 1 team, work really hard for their 2-1 win and also ended their 26-match winning streak in the third ODI there.

India will play World Cup hosts New Zealand for five ODIs before the World Cup in March-April.

“We have played three best teams since March and it has given us good preparation,” Raj said after a partnership between KFC and Indian Deaf Cricket Association in Delhi on Wednesday. “Players have played domestic cricket and also in the Women’s Big Bash so they are getting game time which is the most important thing.

“We are getting to play in New Zealand before World Cup which is also good.”

India, who were unable to post 250-plus scores regularly earlier, did that twice in the Australia series and chased down 265 in the final ODI.

“When you play against a strong team in its backyard you try to give your best,” Raj said. “Though we lost the series, the matches were very close. We scored 270 (274) and chased 270-odd, if we can do that consistently we will be among the best sides in world cricket.”

India’s middle-order batting needs improvement but Raj said all departments must fire as a unit if they are to win the World Cup.

“We bat as a unit so you can’t pinpoint one area,” she said. “There are times when the top order failed and the others performed. As a unit if we look to post a good total then it will help. If we focus on one area like middle order then it becomes too much of a burden for that particular slot.”

India finished runners-up in the 2017 World Cup in England when not many expected them to but expectations will be higher this time.

“There were not enough expectations back then,” Raj said. “Now in 2021, players have got experience and got a lot of exposure with the T20 leagues. Overall we have young players but they have got enough exposure. It is just of matter of gelling well as a team.

“Every match will be different there. The quicker we read our opponents the better it will be for us.”



Source link

Continue Reading

Cricket

The Ashes 2021-22 – Michael Vaughan stood down from BT Sport Ashes coverage after Azeem Rafiq allegations

Published

on


News

Channel to adopt a “hybrid” approach with Vaughan’s stints on Fox Sports to be overlaid

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, will not be heard by UK audiences during this winter’s Ashes in Australia, after BT Sport followed the BBC’s decision to remove him from their TV coverage of the series.

Vaughan, 47, was last week stood down from BBC Test Match Special’s coverage for “editorial” reasons, following allegations from Azeem Rafiq, the former Yorkshire cricketer, that he had said “there are too many of you lot” following the selection of four players of Asian heritage in a county fixture in 2009.

Vaughan, who denies the allegations, apologised last week in an interview on BBC Breakfast for the “hurt” caused to Rafiq during his time as a player at Yorkshire, and will still be involved in this winter’s Ashes coverage through his commentary role with Fox Sports, the Australian host broadcaster.

However, BT Sport – who are due to take the Fox Sports feed after choosing not to send a bespoke commentary team to Australia – announced on Tuesday that they will be taking a “hybrid” approach to their coverage, with Vaughan’s on-air stints to be overlaid with studio analysis.

“As a result of Covid and travel restrictions BT Sport had made the decision to take our commentary feed from the Australian host broadcaster,” the channel said in a statement. “The recent report presented to UK Parliament uncovering institutional racism within cricket and specifically Yorkshire County Cricket Club is extremely disappointing and a concern for all.

“Given these recent events and the controversy with the situation we have taken the decision that including Michael Vaughan within our Ashes coverage would not be editorially appropriate or fit with BT Sport’s values. We are still finalising plans but we are assessing the option of taking a hybrid approach, using Fox commentary where possible with the aim of putting our own commentary team in place if necessary.”

Vaughan’s troubled build-up to the series continued on Tuesday, when he announced on Twitter that his arrival in Australia had been delayed by a week due to a positive Covid test. “[It] is frustrating,” he wrote. “But at least I’ll avoid the rain in Brisbane for a few days!”

However, his hopes of being retained by the BBC after the Ashes have received a boost, after the corporation confirmed that they had been in “regular contact” with Vaughan since his suspension, and had held “positive conversations with him in recent days”.

“Our contributors are required to talk about relevant issues, so Michael’s involvement in a story of such significance means it’s not possible for him to be part of our Ashes coverage or wider cricket coverage at the moment,” the statement added. “We’re pleased with how our conversations are going and expect to work with Michael again in the future. He remains on contract to the BBC.”

The BBC’s stance was criticised this week by his former England team-mate Monty Panesar, who wrote in a column in the Daily Telegraph: “This feels deeply unethical — a classic case of someone being tried and convicted without any form of due process being undertaken.”



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending