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Aussie off-spinner Nathan Lyon traps batsmen with bounce: Harbhajan Singh

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Watching Australia’s Nathan Lyon bowl and pick wickets using flight, bounce and traditional off-spin is a delight, says Harbhajan Singh, the second most successful off-spinner in Test history.

Lyon, who has 390 Test scalps, could become the third spinner in Test history to get to 400 wickets after Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and Harbhajan (417) during the forthcoming India-Australia series and remains the main weapon in Australia’s arsenal as they look to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy which they lost at home a couple of seasons ago.

The 33-year-old Lyon has had great success against India, taking 85 wickets against them in 18 Tests, the most he has captured against any team along with England.

“I love watching him, the way he has bowled and the way he has operated. Australia is a tough place to bowl for a finger spinner. But it is so beautiful to see him bowl. The way he flights the ball, spins the ball. He doesn’t have a doosra, doesn’t have any fancy or any other different ball. He just sticks to that basic off-spin, the spin and bounce and he still gets the job done more often than anyone for them,” Harbhajan told IANS.

The former India off-spinner, who had great success against Australia especially Ricky Ponting in his 17-year long Test career, says that Lyon has an advantage in Australia as he has been born and brought up in the country, played every possible Test match there and knows the conditions better than anyone else.

“He understands those conditions better than all the other bowlers who are playing currently. He was born there, he has played almost every possible Test match in Australia. He has kind of adjusted to those conditions, and knows how he can get success there. There is always a way to find out how to bowl in those conditions. The sooner you find out, the quicker your performance will go up,” he added.

Being an Aussie, Lyon has got the code on how to bowl in those conditions, the perfect length that ensures the ball bounces and hits the sticker to bring close-in fielders into play.

“The surface in Australia doesn’t give you side-spin. The sharp spin you get from ball one in India, you won’t get there. That you will not get there because the surface is so hard. Lyon doesn’t use side-spin but relies more on bounce and on length. Because there is extra bounce, he dismisses batsmen with bounce. That is something very important to understand — that extra bounce, how to utilise that, how to use the crease, especially that length, (I mean) what should be the length in Australia. He understands that better than others,” said Harbhajan.

The former India bowler, who formed a very successful spin duo with leg-spinner Anil Kumble and was the first Indian to take a Test hat-trick, back in 2001, adds that the ideal way to bowl in Australia is to ensure that the ball hits the top of the bat, something that Lyon does well.

“He (Lyon) bowls a length which, in India, can played off the back-foot. But there you have to play that length on front(foot) because the bounce is such that if you stand back then the ball comes (at you) very high. It’d seem the ball is (coming) fine, but it jumps more off the pitch, higher than (in) India. And when the ball hits the bat’s sticker then it is difficult to control. As a spinner that is all you want to do, you want to hit that sticker of the bat. If your ball is hitting the sticker then you are always in the game. Whether you are getting spin on the ball or not, that is a different thing. But if your ball is hitting the sticker, you are always in the game,” Harbhajan explained.

National

Eighth season of Pro Kabaddi League to begin from December 22 in Bengaluru

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The organisers of the Pro Kabaddi League announced on Wednesday that the eighth edition of the league will be held here from December 22. It also said that the entire season will be conducted without the presence of spectators for the matches.

Mashal Sports, the organisers of the league, have scheduled triple headers on the first four days. The season will kick-start with U Mumba facing Bengaluru Bulls. The second match will be the league’s ‘Southern Derby’ as Telugu Titans lock horns with Tamil Thalaivas while UP Yoddha will be squaring off against the defending champions Bengal Warriors in the last match of the opening day.

The triple-headers will be only-Saturday affairs throughout the whole duration of the league, starting at 7:30pm, 8:30pm and 9:30pm respectively. The schedule of the first half of season 8 has come while the organisers say that the second half of the league’s schedule will come in mid-January next year.

Keeping the health and safety of players in mind amid COVID times, the organisers have converted the entire venue at Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Centre into an integrated and secure bio-bubble.

All 12 teams will be staying and playing at the same venue in order to follow and adhering to the safety protocols set by the authorities.

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Laxman finally agrees to head NCA: Sources

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The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has managed to convince former cricketer VVS Laxman to head the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, sources said.

After Rahul Dravid took over the post of Indian team’s head coach, there were reports that Laxman might be appointed as a new head of NCA.

However, later it was said that the former batter “is uninterested”. But now he is ready to take the charge after the BCCI officials held a meeting with him in Dubai.

“There were some issues and it has been sorted out. The board wanted him to take the reponsibility and he is the right man to come in place of Dravid,” sources said.

It is also learnt that Laxman has also agreed to leave the lucrative commentary career for the NCA.

“Laxman is currently mentor of IPL team Sunrisers Hyderabad, apart from being a commentator and cricket analyst. And he will leave it all for NCA now.”

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Everyone had written us off; we are here to rectify that: Finch

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Australian captain Aaron Finch has conceded that not winning the ICC T20 World Cup title so far has been a sore point with the Kangaroos and the final against New Zealand later on Sunday is the “best opportunity to rectify that”.

The closest Australia came to winning the T20 World Cup was during the 2010 edition held in the West Indies, where they lost to England by seven wickets.

“It’s one that’s eluded us in the past, and the fact that we are here in the final gives us the best opportunity to rectify that. Yeah, I think it will be a great game against New Zealand. They are a great side and they have been in all the finals over the last six years. Looking forward to it,” said Finch ahead of the title clash.

Finch added that despite critics writing his team off, the way the players had gone about their business was heartening.

“Everyone had written us off but we had a lot of confidence within. We’re really confident the way that we were preparing, the way that our strategy was coming together. Yeah, I think it hasn’t defied expectation. I think we came here with a really clear plan to win the tournament, and we still feel as though we’ve got the squad to do that.

“Well, I think the spirit among the team… and that’s been really impressive the way we’ve gone about our business. Everyone has prepared really well. Everyone has had a really defining match or match-defining performance at some point. The guys are really up and about for the final,” said Finch.

Finch added that batting stalwart Steve Smith’s form wasn’t a concern despite the fact that the former skipper has been unimpressive so far in the tournament, and the team management has drawn flak for persisting with him.

“No, not concerned one bit about his (Smith) form. He’s a world-class player and he’s someone in big games has showed how valuable he is. He’s been hitting the ball as well as I’ve seen for a long time, so no, no concerns there whatsoever.”

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