India batting coach Vikram Rathour acknowledged that all-rounders Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar have been working very hard on their batting skills. He added that the advantage with enhanced batting credentials of Chahar and Thakur helps the team management in flexibility of structuring the playing eleven.
In the absence of Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja in the white-ball side, Chahar and Thakur have stepped up with the bat, scoring half-centuries as part of lower-order in different times during ODIs against South Africa and West Indies.
“Both of them are batting well. The reason for that is both of them work really hard on their batting. It’s not now but in the past few years, they have been working and practising hard on their batting. Now, you can see the result. So, really good to have two all-rounders. That gives us a lot of flexibility in what kind of team you want to play with. It’s good to see the competition happening in the team as well. They will be competing and are batting well,” said Rathour in the virtual press conference.
In the recent ODI series against the West Indies, India had players like Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant get runs in the middle order. Rathour was pleased that different batters in the middle-order stepped up after the top-order fell early.
“It was good, the ODI series we played in Ahmedabad. The wicket was a little challenging and was little tricky. It was good to see people stepping up after losing early wickets. We still manged to put up decent scores and won the series 3-0. It’s good to see people like Surya, Shreyas, Pant doing well in the middle-order. It was good.”
“It’s always beneficial when batters are in form. The more are in form, the better it is for the team. I have never been really concerned for our middle-order batting. Lately, we had been doing well in ODIs and T20Is with our middle order. That never has been a concern.”
Rathour felt that Pant, who had surprisingly opened in the second ODI at Ahmedabad, can be used well in the middle order. “We have options in many players. Rishabh is a fantastic player. He can play good cricket at the top of the order but it really depends on what the team needs, what we are looking at and where the team wants Pant to bat.”
“I have no doubt that he will be in team post-2023 and will be a very important factor too but we can utilize him more precisely in the middle or lower order, which can be very challenging. Left-hander in the middle order, we don’t have much options. Whether he will be useful there or at the top, we cannot really comment on that.”
Rathour insisted that the world is yet to see the full capabilities of all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer with the bat. Iyer, dropped from the ODIs against the West Indies after debuting in South Africa, is a part of the upcoming T20I series, starting from February 16.
“We are yet to see full (abilities) of him. He’s a young kid who has come into the team. He’s newly arrived. So, coming to the selection, it is the job of selectors to pick the squad. Opportunities have started to come for him. He’s a very good player and we all hope that he will do well and establish himself in the team in any format. We haven’t taken a call yet where he can’t play. He can come in any format.”
Rathour signed off by saying that their main focus will be to win the T20I series first. “We haven’t been to the ground yet. We are yet to look at the conditions and once we assess it, we need to have a look at the balance of the team. I understand experimenting but we still have a series to win.”
“I am pretty sure that West Indies will be a very competitive team in this format. We need to see the balance and then see what we can do. We want to give opportunity to youngsters but the first thing is to start well and win the series.”
India U-17 girls go down to Chile 1-3
The India U-17 women’s team suffered a 1-3 loss to Chile U-17 in a friendly game at the Aquileia, Italy.
The match started on Friday night at a relatively slow pace compared to the previous game against Italy. The first real chance came in the 10th minute when Naketa took a free-kick from long range but her shot missed the target. India were struck with a blow right after that as Chile scored in the 11th minute via Katerine Ramos.
India tried to bounce back from the setback, and on the 15th minute mark, Shubhangi crossed the ball and Lynda was able to take a shot but it was saved by the Chilean goalkeeper. Chile though secured a two-goal lead in the 19th minute, when Danlela whipped in a cross and Maitte put the ball into the back of the net with a header.
India did not give up though and kept attacking. In the 21st minute, Lynda attempted a shot from Astam’s cross but the former missed the target by a whisker. The pace of the game slowed down a bit after Chile’s second goal.
In the 26th minute, Chile’s Yennifer Pasten got injured and had to be substituted as Ambar Rolino came in for her. Chile got a corner in the 34th minute which was easily cleared by the Indian defence. India went into the break with a mountain to climb in the second half.
India started the second half on the front foot as Anita made a run down the right and took a shot but it was collected by the goalkeeper. Chile also kept attacking, this time through Ambar in the 43rd minute as her dangerous free-kick was cleared by the Indian defenders.
Coach Thomas Dennerby made a double substitution in the 51st minute as Kajol and Nitu Linda came on for Lynda Kom and Babina. This change had an immediate impact as India scored on the 55th minute mark. A cross from Neha landed at the feet of Kajol who tucked the ball away into the back of the net from a header.
However, India’s hopes came crashing down when Ambar scored the third goal for Chile and restored their two-goal advantage in the 67th minute.
India: Monalisha Devi, Naketa, Astam Oraon (Captain), Neha (Misha 68′), Lynda Kom (Kajol 51′), Anita Kumari (Sudha 78′), Purnima Kumari, Shubhangi Singh, Pinku Devi (Shelia 68′), Babina Devi (Nitu Linda 51′), Kajal (Rejiya 78′).
Aussie skipper Finch overwhelmed by response from Sri Lankan fans during fifth ODI
Australia white-ball skipper Aaron Finch has been overwhelmed by the response his team has received during the limited-over series, comprising three T20I and five ODIs, which concluded at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Friday night.
While Australia won the T20I series 2-1, Sri Lanka clinched the ODI series 3-2. The limited-overs series will now be followed by a two-Test series beginning at Galle on June 29.
Speaking about the hardships the Sri Lankans have faced over the last few months in the wake of a severe economic crisis, Finch said, “We’re very grateful that we’ve been able to tour here. We know the difficulties that Sri Lanka has faced in recent times. Hopefully over these eight white-ball games we’ve been able to provide some joy to people in the country.”
Despite the recent problems faced by the country, including long hours of power cuts, the Sri Lanka team showed the world their extraordinary spirit, winning their first series at home against Australia in 30 years.
Finch, the captain of the side on its first tour of the country since 2016, added that the support provided by the people of the island nation was “second to none”.
Thousands of people in Australia’s traditional colours descended on the R. Premadasa Stadium for the final ODI in a show of solidarity for the visiting team, and Finch said it was simply wonderful.
“It was outstanding, the Sri Lankan people are wonderful people. The support that they provide is second to none. They are great cricket supporters, it’s not just constant noise; they ride the emotions of the game. When Sri Lanka are up and about, that’s as loud as anywhere you’ll visit in the world,” Finch was quoted as saying by ICC.
In a video shared by cricket.com.au, Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell said, “That was pretty extraordinary. I was just saying to the boys that was one of the most special feelings. Being able to walk around the ground and have a foreign country cheer for you.
“A lot of times when Australia tours we are generally the enemy and there’s not too many Australian fans in the stands. But to have the support and fans that are here at the moment is truly extraordinary.
“Everyone’s wearing yellow. They’ve got all the Australian flags all over the place. It’s extremely special and it’s a credit to everyone that’s been able to get out here. It’s been such a tough time obviously for the locals. For them to come out and support us, hopefully, both teams can entertain them and they’ve had a really good time during the one-day series.”
Maxwell banking on ability to tackle good spin bowling in tough conditions after Test recall
On the verge of making his first Test appearance after almost five years, Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell is banking upon his ability to tackle good spin bowling in tough Sri Lanka conditions ahead of the series opener at Galle on Wednesday.
Maxwell last played a Test match against Bangladesh in 2017 at Chattogram, the same year where he got his only Test century against India in Ranchi and was rushed to the squad in Johannesburg amid the ball-tampering saga in 2018. With left-handed batter Travis Head recovering from a hamstring injury, Maxwell was handed a return to the Test squad for the two-match series against Sri Lanka.
“I think I bring a lot of experience in these sorts of conditions and being able to tackle good spin bowling in tough conditions. It’s something I pride myself on, having quick feet and being able to find a way through adversity in tough conditions. Looking back to 2017, being able to get a Test hundred in India is something I’m extremely proud and to be one of only a couple of people in the last decade to do that is something I’m hoping holds me in good stead for this as well.”
“My game plan probably isn’t going to change a whole lot, probably just going to be a little more time consuming, being able to spend more time at the wicket, without any run-rate pressure on and I’m certainly looking forward to that opportunity to bat long periods of time,” Maxwell was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo after the end of ODI series.
The surprise return to the Test side also means that Maxwell might get a new Baggy Green as his original one has deteriorated and hadn’t been in his kit bag before leaving for Sri Lanka. “I didn’t want to be presumptuous and it turns out I’m glad I didn’t bring it because it’s completely disintegrated. So I’m going to have to get a new one for this Test tour. I’ll look like a first-gamer out there.”
“My last Test was a win in Bangladesh and (the cap) is full of all sorts of different things. It’s stayed in the little bag that we get. I took it out last year and had a look at it and it was deteriorating, thought that’s not a good sign. My wife took it out yesterday and said ‘I don’t think I can bring this’, it looked terrible, so think when I get home I’ll see if I can get it fixed up but it’s not looking great at the moment.”
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