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Saturday,23-October-2021

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I am being made a scapegoat for the cancelled Test: Shastri

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 Indian cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri has said that he was being made a scapegoat for the cancelled fifth Test against England at Manchester after he and three other members of the support staff tested positive for Covid-19 days after they attended a book-launch function in London.

The Virat Kohli-led side was on the threshold of creating history in the Manchester Test after beating England at The Oval in London. However, Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physiotherapist Nitin Patel tested Covid-19 positive after their RT-PCR confirmed the infection during The Oval Test.

A day before the start of the fifth Test, the second physiotherapist, Yogesh Parmar, too tested positive for the virus, which made the Indian cricketers anxious and led to the cancellation of the match.

However, Shastri said that he was getting flak for no fault of his.

“They tried to make it that way (make a scapegoat) but I wasn’t worried because incubation probably takes weeks. There were about 250 people there (for the book launch function) and no-one got Covid from that party. I’ve not got it at my book launch because it was on the 31st (August) and I tested positive on 3 September. It can’t happen in three days. I think I got it in Leeds. England opened up on 19 July and suddenly the hotels were back, lifts were back. No restrictions,” Shastri told ‘The Guardian’ on Saturday.

On whether he regrets going for the book launch, Shastri said, “I have absolutely no regrets because the people I met at that function were fabulous. And it was good for the boys to get out and meet different people rather than constantly being in their rooms. At the Oval Test, you were climbing stairs used by 5,000 people. So to point a finger at a book launch?”

The coach categorically said that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will not lose money on account of the cancelled fifth Test. The series was keenly poised with India leading 2-1 when the final Test was cancelled.

“The ECB have been outstanding and their relationship with Indian cricket is tremendous. People are talking about the money but I can guarantee the ECB will make that entire amount with interest. I don’t know if it’s a stand-alone Test next year or they give them an extra two T20 games, but the ECB will not lose a penny because of the relationship that exists. In 2008 when we had the [terrorist] blast in Mumbai, England came back and played the Test. We don’t forget that,” averred Shastri.

National

BCCI wants Dravid to be India’s chief coach; sources say Rahul’s ‘agreed but…!’

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Rahul-Dravid

 Former Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid has agreed to coach the national side after the ICC T20 World Cup but there are a couple of issues which he wants to be sorted out before joining, said a BCCI official.

Earlier, there were reports that Dravid would be the interim coach for the upcoming home series against New Zealand.

However, the BCCI official has now confirmed that “Rahul has agreed to coach the Indian team till 2023 World Cup”.

The official told IANS that BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah had a meeting with Dravid on the side-lines of the IPL final on Friday evening and they managed to convince him.

“There are a couple of issues which Dravid wants to settle with the BCCI and hopefully that will be done,” he added.

Asked what are the “issues”, the official said, “Like, Dravid wants to have new support staff… changing the entire old one. And a couple of other things. I am sure everything will be sorted out. Because BCCI wants Dravid to lead the charge.”

It is learnt that former Mumbai pacer Paras Mhambrey may take over from Bharat Arun as the bowling coach.

Sources further said that Dravid had suggested Australian Tom Moody’s name for the coach’s job, but the Board didn’t show too much interest.

The 48-year-old Dravid has been in charge of the India A and U-19 set-up for the past six years. He currently heads the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.

“He will resign from there and take over the charge (of Team India),” sources added.

Dravid had recently coached a second-string Indian team to a tour of Sri Lanka even as the national senior team was playing concurrently in England.

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National

Dhoni is still non-committal on playing IPL next season

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MS-Dhoni

 Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni did not commit to playing another season in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the team from Tamil Nadu though he did say that he was not done with the World’s richest T20 tournament.

Though Dhoni maintained that whether he continues to play or not depends on the decisions the BCCI takes regarding player retention when two more teams join the league next year, the 40-year-old said he has not left any legacy behind as of yet.

“Still I haven’t left behind….” he signed off during the prize distribution ceremony after CSK beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 27 runs to lift their fourth IPL title.

“Again I’ve said it before, it depends on BCCI. With two new teams coming in. We have to decide what is good for CSK. It’s not about me being there in top-three or four. It’s about making a strong core to ensure the franchise doesn’t suffer. The core group, we have to have a hard look to see who can contribute for the next 10 years,” said Dhoni on Friday.

CSK set up a big target and then defended it successfully, keeping their nerves even when Kolkata Knight Riders openers Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer and given KKR a great start by putting on 91 runs for the first wicket. There was no panic in CSK ranks and the players went about performing their roles as things just fell in place.

Dhoni said they don’t plan or strategise too much before the game and the net sessions are more of one-on-one sessions.

“Frankly no chats, we don’t talk a lot [meetings]. It’s more one-on-one, our practice sessions are meeting sessions. The moment you get into a team room, it brings about different pressure. Our practice sessions hav” been good,” Dhoni said, adding that the chat sessions don’t last more than 29 minutes as that’s the attention span for a normal person.

About his team’s performance, Dhoni said that they shuffled players around after the first half and that paid for them. “Coming to CSK, we shuffled players. We had match winners coming game after game and doing really well. Every final is special, if you look at stats, we may say we’re the most consistent team to lose the final too. I feel it’s important to come back strong, especially in the knockouts,” Dhoni added.

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IPL 2021: Extremely grateful, feels amazing to be part of CSK, says Uthappa

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Chennai Super Kings. (Photo: Twitter/@ChennaiIPL)

After Chennai Super Kings (CSK) won their fourth IPL trophy, star batsman Robin Uthappa on Friday said that he is extremely grateful and it feels amazing to be part of MS Dhoni-led side, especially how last year went for them.

CSK beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 27 runs in the IPL 2021 final and lifted their fourth IPL title. CSK had earlier won three IPL titles in 2010, 2011, and 2018.

“Extremely grateful, it feels amazing to be part of this side, especially how last year went for us. It was a very lean season for us last year and so it was important for us to come back and play as well as we could and be really grateful that we have been able to,” said Robin Uthappa after the win.

“I just want to come in and contribute to the team’s success,” he added.

Talking about the environment in the CSK group, the stylish batsman said that there is a lot of clarity.

“They create a very secure environment within the group and there’s a lot of clarity and communication within the support staff and the players and that really helps in building a secure group,” said Uthappa, who performed well with the bat for CSK in the last two matches.

“I believe it’s your players who are not playing in the eleven that really create the atmosphere within the group and they make sure that they look after the players who are not playing in the eleven and I think that’s one of the biggest takeaways of our success in IPL,” he added.

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