India left out R Ashwin for the fourth consecutive Test match against England in the ongoing series. The ace off-spinner, who is only one of the three Indian spinners to have taken over 400 Test wickets, was seen warming at The Oval prior to the start of the Test but was kept out.
What makes the decision surprising is that England have four left-handers in their line-up — including three who are known for their batting. Ashwin has an impeccable record against left-handers. Out of the 413 Test wickets he has taken, 211 are left-handers.
“They are not playing an extra batsman. They are playing five bowlers and still not playing R Ashwin. That is surprising,” said former India pace bowler Ajit Agarkar on Thursday.
The Oval pitch is generally more spin-friendly than any other in England. Indian bowling coach Bharat Arun had hinted on Tuesday that the team might play both spinners only if the pitch aids spin bowlers.
However, it seems that the tinge of green on the surface discouraged the team management from playing two spinners and field only one in Ravindra Jadeja.
Jadeja was promoted to No. 5 in the batting line-up ahead of Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant.
“It depends on the conditions. Depends on so many other things, the wicket, the conditions and all these things. Ashwin, no doubt, is one of the best bowlers we have. But it is unfortunate he has not played so far. But if there is an opportunity and if we feel that he is going to fit into the scheme of things, they definitely would both be bowling in tandem,” Arun had said on Tuesday.
“History at [The] Oval says it will take spin but you also know how the Englishmen are wary of Ashwin’s abilities and what he could do if there is any little assistance from the track. I think the most realistic option would be to look at the track tomorrow morning. Because anything can happen from now to tomorrow. We will look at the track from now to tomorrow morning and decide,” Arun had added.
It is quite clear that the pitch did not have much for the spinners.
Eighth season of Pro Kabaddi League to begin from December 22 in Bengaluru
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.
Laxman finally agrees to head NCA: Sources
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.”
Everyone had written us off; we are here to rectify that: Finch
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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