The Indian national selectors are set to meet in Mumbai on Monday to pick the squad for the 2019 World Cup and the topic high on everyone’s list is whether M.S.K. Prasad and team will go with Dinesh Karthik or Rishabh Pant as the second wicket-keeper and batsman for the showpiece event.
Speaking to IANS, Kolkata Knight Riders coach Jacques Kallis said that if he was the selector, he would pick Karthik. While many would think the former South Africa all-rounder would be biased about the KKR captain, Kallis explained his choice.
“I would pick DK for his experience, in the World Cup you need experience. He knows how to play situations and he can control the middle-order and bat at a good rate. Not too many dot balls and India would be silly if they didn’t pick him,” he said.
Coming to KKR, one man who has dominated the show this season is all-rounder Andre Russell and Kallis feels that the player has learnt the art of playing situations and that has made him all the more dangerous this year. In fact, he even added that the West Indian is a bigger hitter than the legendary Viv Richards.
“He has been really good. He has come up leaps and bounds in the last year. He has learnt a lot about his own game and the nice thing is that he can now play different situations a lot better. He wants to do well and is hungry to do well and that is an asset for the coach. Other guys want to emulate him.
“It is difficult to compare eras. Obviously Viv at his time was way ahead of the rest, but probably not as good as Andre Russell. But like I said, it is not fair to compare eras as conditions change, the way the game gets coached changes.
“However, in terms of hitting I think Andre is the best I have seen. Certainly hits the ball powerfully and got a great technique for that, and has worked hard on it. On his day he is a difficult batsman to bowl to as he can hit you no matter who you are,” he pointed.
Despite having quality performers like Russell and DK among others, Kallis makes it clear that there is no place for ego in this outfit. “We choose guys for a specific role and then want them to go out and perform well.
“We don’t want any egos here and that has worked pretty well for us. The guys get on well with each other and that is very important. No matter how good cricketers they are, a bigger role is how they fit in and that has worked well. Each guy knows his role,” he said.
There have been a lot of talk about the kind of wickets that have been prepared in Chennai and the way the bowlers have dominated, but Kallis believes that it is not about whether bowlers get to dominate or batsmen. For him, it is about keeping a good balance between bat and ball.
“Does the game of 220 or 240 help the game of cricket? I don’t think so. A game where it is 160-170 is good. You have to give the bowlers chance as well because it is a contest between bat and ball not bat or ball. As much as you get Chennai type of wickets, I don’t think 230-240 helps either,” he pointed.
The Knights have been strangely inconsistent this season and will need to tighten the screws if they are to qualify for the playoffs comfortably, but Kallis doesn’t wish to think too much about the points table.
“We are not worried about how many games we need to win. We will take one game at a time and try and win every game. We are not a side which worries too much about the table. We let the field stuff to take care of itself,” he said.
Ravichandran Ashwin gets his line right to get to complete 400 Test wickets
On a wicket that helped spinners right from the start, it looked that it would only be a matter of time before R. Ashwin would reach his tally of 400 Test wickets in England’s second innings on the second day of the third Test here.
By the 24th over of England’s second innings, he had claimed his third wicket to get to the milestone despite struggling for his line early on as left-arm spinner Axar Patel ran through England’s top-order.
He finished with innings figures of four for 48 and match figures of seven for 74 as England were bowled out for 81.
The 34-year-old bowler is the second quickest after Muttiah Muralitharan (72) to get to 400 Test wicket mark. This is Ashwin’s 77th Test match.
The off-spinner, who took three wickets in the first innings, needed six scalps ahead of this Test to get to 400 which has been breached (among Indians) only by former pace bowler Kapil Dev (434), former leg-spinner Anil Kumble (619) and former off-spinner Harbhajan Singh (417 wickets) before.
For some time early in England’s second innings after Patel had made early dents, it seemed that the visitors were on road to recovery with Ben Stokes and Joe Root at the crease.
Stokes went after the bowling, especially Ashwin as the bowler tried a bit too hard to turn giving loose balls. In his first eight overs, he gave away 33 runs — without a wicket — at over four an over despite there being so much help in the pitch.
But then he got into wickets, getting Stokes for the 11th time in Tests with one that didn’t turn. He then trapped England captain and batting mainstay Joe Root again with one that again did not turn and then followed it up with the wicket of Ollie Pope who had earlier reverse-swept him for four.
The delivery moved away a bit and Pope was bowled. He then got Jofra Archer for his 400th again with the one that didn’t turn much and followed it with the wicket of Jack Leach.
Among the Indian bowlers with over 400 wickets, Ashwin commands the best average — 24.94 as against Anil Kumble’s 29.65, Kapil Dev’s 29.64, and Harbhajan Singh’s 32.46.
England all out for 81, India need 49 to win 3rd Test
Two Indian slow bowlers on Thursday bagged all 10 wickets to spin out England for a mere 81 runs in their second innings on a dusty pitch, and now Virat Kohli’s team need 49 runs to win the third Test here. Left-armer Axar Patel captured five wickets to complete a match haul of 11.
Off-spinners R. Ashwin bagged four and Washington Sundar one on the second day of the five-day match, which could well finish on Thursday itself.
England batsmen were completely exposed against spin and only three of them entered double-digit scores, with Ben Stokes being the top scorer with 25 (34 balls, 3x4s).
Earlier in the day, India took a slender 33-run first-innings as they were bowled for 145 in 53.2 overs in the first session. England captain Joe Root, at best a part-time spinner, took a staggering career-best figures of five wickets for eight runs — his first five-wicket haul in first-class cricket — to hasten India’s demise.
Left-arm spinner Jack Leach bagged four wickets for 54, as India slumped from 98 for two to be all out for 145.
Only four Indian batsmen reached the double figures in their first innings, with Rohit Sharma being the highest scorer with 66 off 96 balls.
Brief scores: England: 112 all out in 48.4 overs (Zak Crawley 53, Joe Root 17; Axar Patel 6/38, R Ashwin 3/6) and 81 in 30.4 overs (Ben Stokes 25, Joe Root 19, Ollie Pope 12, Axar Patel 5/32, R. Ashwin 4/48, Washington Sundar 1/1) India: 145 in 53.2 (Rohit Sharma 66, Virat Kohli 27, R. Ashwin 17, Joe Root 5/8, Jack Leach 4/54)
Zak Crawley hopeful England can make a match of it
Despite getting bowled out for just 112 in their first innings of the third Test, England are hopeful of giving India a target of at least 150 on “a wicket where batting fourth will be extremely difficult”.
“Have to aim for a lead (target for India) of at least 150. We are going to have to play extremely well but we are capable,” said England opening batsman Zak Crawley after the end of the first day’s play. Crawley scored the lone half-century in England’s innings and was dismissed for 53.
The right-handed England opener believed that a win for England is still within reach.
“I don’t think it will require a miracle actually. Batting last on this wicket will be extremely difficult… I think the pitch will continue to break up,” he said.
“If we bat well in the third innings and put a bit of pressure on them we can defend anything if the pitch continues to get worse.”
England’s scoring options were restricted as the India spinners kept a tight leash by bowling straight and tight. They couldn’t use innovative strokes like the reverse sweep.
“Did not use the reverse sweep as the ball kept coming straight. May use it in second innings if the ball turns consistently,” he added.
Asked if England made a mistake by picking just one spinner in Jack Leach, Crawley said, “If we’d got a few more runs things would look different. If they were 100 for 3 and we had 250 on the board we’d be well on top but unfortunately we didn’t get the runs and we put our bowlers until pressure.”
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