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Tuesday,21-September-2021

National

India players refused to play fifth Test, they were dead scared: Ganguly

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 BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has said that the Indian players refused to play the Manchester Test against England because of COVID-19 concerns and denied that the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) had played any part in the decision.

The fifth and final Test in Manchester was called off just a couple of hours before the toss on Friday amid health concerns among India’s players following a coronavirus outbreak in their coaching camp.

“The players refused to play but you can’t blame them. Physio Yogesh Parmar was such a close contact of the players. Being the only one available after Nitin Patel isolated himself, he mixed freely with the players and even performed their Covid-19 tests.

“He also used to give them a massage, he was part of their everyday lives� The players were devastated when they came to know that he had tested positive for Covid-19. They feared they must have contracted the disease and were dead scared. It’s not easy staying in a bubble. Of course, you have to respect their feelings,” Ganguly was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

Earlier, former England captain Michael Vaughan has said that India’s players were ‘petrified’ of testing positive ahead of the IPL, which resumes on September 19 in the UAE. However, the BCCI chief said the cancellation had nothing to do with the lucrative league.

“The BCCI will never be an irresponsible board. We value other boards too,” Ganguly said, adding that the Test match is likely to be held as a one-off match next year.

National

RCB skipper Kohli finishes quarantine, joins team for first practice session

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 Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper Virat Kohli joined his team-mates for the first practice session here in Dubai early on Saturday morning after spending six days in quarantine on his return from England.

Kohli and pace bowler Mohammed Siraj had reached the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the second leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on September 12 on a charter flight from London arranged by the franchise. The duo had gone into six days of mandatory quarantine following their arrival.

RCB posted a three-minute video on Saturday morning and tweeted, “Bold Diaries: Virat Kohli joins the RCB team after quarantine — There were smiles, hugs and laughter in the RCB camp as captain Virat Kohli, Mohammed Siraj and some of our foreign players had their first hit in the nets. #PlayBold #WeAreChallengers #IPL2021.”

The video showed Kohli and several teammates, who completed their quarantine on Saturday, entering the training ground with their kit bags for an early-morning session and being greeted by fellow cricketers and the coaching staff, including South African stalwart AB de Viliers.

Kohli was later seen playing a few lofted cover drives.

Siraj said in the video that, “All the batsmen look in great form. It’s a good thing for the team that (Glenn Maxwell), Virat bhai and AB (de Villiers) sir are all in good form.”

RCB’s director of cricket operations, New Zealand’s Mike Hesson, said that, “It’s always good to be face to face rather than discussing strategy (with the skipper) from a distance. It (six days of quarantine) gave him (Virat) a chance to freshen up. Now working on ensuring we are all on the same page.”

On Siraj, Hesson said, “He has got more and more confident over the last two seasons. Obviously, he has done well for India (in the Test series against England). He is aware of what he wants to do and therefore he shows more confidence.”

RCB will play their opening match of the second leg in Dubai against Kolkata Knight Riders on September 20.

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International

Coach Shastri hints that he might step down after T20 World Cup

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 Indian cricket team coach Ravi Shastri has given a big hint that he is likely to step down from the hot seat after the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman when he said that “I believe one thing — never overstay your welcome.”

Shastri, who was squarely criticised for launching his new book in London and spreading the Covid-19 virus among the support staff two days before the fourth Test at The Oval, said on Saturday, “I believe so because I’ve achieved all I wanted,” when asked whether the ICC T20 World Cup would be his last outing with Team India as chief coach.

“Five years as No 1 (in Test cricket), to win in Australia twice, to win in England. I spoke to Michael Atherton earlier this summer and said: ‘For me, this is the ultimate — to beat Australia in Australia and win in England in Covid times.’ We lead England 2-1 and the way we played at Lord’s and the Oval was special,” Shastri told The Guardian.

“We’ve also beaten every country in the world in their own backyard in white-ball cricket. If we win the (T20) World Cup that will be the icing on the cake. There is nothing more. I believe one thing –never overstay your welcome. And I would say that, in terms of what I wanted to get out of the side, I’ve over-achieved. To beat Australia away and to lead the series in England in a Covid year? It is the most satisfying moment of my four decades in cricket,” said Shastri.

Within days of the book-launch function, where no masks were worn, Shastri had tested Covid-positive and went into isolation along with four members of his support staff. And when assistant physio Yogesh Parmar too tested positive, the players became anxious and finally the fifth and final Test in Manchester had to be called off.

“It was funny because in my 10 days I didn’t have a single symptom barring a little sore throat. I never had any temperature and my oxygen level was 99% all the time. I didn’t take any medication through 10 days of my isolation, not a single paracetamol. I tell the guys: ‘Once you’re double jabbed, it’s a bloody 10-day flu. That’s it,'” said Shastri.

On whether he discussed the emerging situation with players, Shastri replied, “No. I didn’t know who had got it (Covid-19). I didn’t know (the physio) got it suddenly and tested positive. He physically treated five or six players. I think that’s where the issue started. We were aware that the incubation period meant that someone might get it in the middle (of the Test). A lot of players had their families there. So it became a situation where you don’t know what that player is thinking. He’s got a young kid, you know, he’s got to think of them. It was a little, I would say, touchy.”

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National

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.

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