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International

Kohli, Rahane wickets given Australia bit of advantage: Cheteshwar Pujara

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Cheteshwar Pujara on Thursday admitted that three quick wickets towards the end of the first day of the first Test has given Australia a ‘little bit of advantage’ but added that India are still in a decent position.

He hoped that the tail will wag on the second day and get them to a total between 275 and 350, which will be enough to put pressure on Australia.

India were cruising at 188 for three before losing three wickets for 18 runs to end Day One of the day-night Test at 233 for six.

“We got into a very good position against Australia (even) after losing couple of early wickets. Virat, Ajinkya – they were both crucial wickets but I still feel that we are just six down. Ash (Ashwin) can bat, Wriddhi (Wriddhiman) Saha can bat and even our lower order will try and contribute as many runs as possible, so we still have a pretty good chance of getting close to 275-300 and if the lower-order bats well we can get 350 also. So yes, there was a stage we were in a dominating position but after losing Virat and Ajinkya they have a little bit of advantage. I still feel we are evenly-placed in the match,” said Pujara, who scored 43 and shared a 68-run partnership with Kohli for the second wicket.

Pujara, who batted 160 deliveries for his 43 runs, scoring at a strike rate of 26.88, said that the idea behind cautious and slow batting against Australia was to keep wickets in hand. India proceeded at a very slow pace in the first two sessions, reaching 107 for three in 55 overs at the end of the second session, less than two runs an over.

Asked if he regretted India scoring too slowly in the first two sessions considering that the ball would move in the last session, Pujara said, “Not at all”.

“We were in a very good position. So I don’t think you can have that strategy where you want to score in the first two sessions, and when the ball is swinging (later) you just want to go defensive. I thought if we had more wickets in hand even when they took the second new ball we would have got enough runs, so strategy-wise there is no regret on how we batted today. There is enough in it for the bowlers. You just have to respect it rather than going after the bowlers and losing more wickets in first two sessions and then you end up getting bowled out in a day so I feel we are in a good position. I feel like if we have more runs on the board, we will have a very good chance of bowling them out,” added Pujara.

The India No. 3 batsman, who was man of the series during India’s last tour of Australia in 2018-19 added that the wicket was tough to bat on.

“I don’t feel it was a flat pitch where you can start playing your shots and start scoring runs. You have to be patient and if you look at the entire day, the scoring rate was somewhere close to 3 runs an over (2.6). It is a pitch where you need to give enough time as batsman. When you get a loose ball, then only you play a shot.”

The Saurashtra batsman also said that the onus now is on the lower order to bat in the morning and gets some runs.

“When we were cruising at 190 for 3 (188 for 3), I felt that was a position we wanted to be in but this is what Test cricket is about. When you lose couple of wickets, the opposition gets a little bit of advantage but again if we score some runs in the morning we will be in a commanding position. You have to respect the format we were just trying to do that when we were in the middle, play according to the merit of the ball. Our game-plan for the first two sessions was simple, “if we get loose balls we will play shots, if they bowl in good areas, we respect it”.

International

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

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Ravi-Shastri

 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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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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Heather Knight shines as England Women win opening ODI vs New Zealand

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England-Newzwland

 Veteran England star and captain Heather Knight slammed a 107-ball 89 and Katherine Brunt scored a quick 43 as the hosts powered to a 30-run victory in the opening One-day International against New Zealand Women at the County Ground here.

Sent in to bat on Thursday evening, England were bowled out for 241 in the 50th over, with captain Knight (89) leading the way alongside Tammy Beaumont (44) and Brunt (43).

That proved 30 runs too many for New Zealand, as Brunt (1/22) and the England attack squeezed them out of the game, eventually bowling them out for 211 in the 47th over.

England were put in to bat first by New Zealand and got off to a good start. Openers Lauren Winfield-Hill and Beaumont capitalised on the bad balls and kept the scoreboard ticking. They were going strong at 44 in the ninth over when Hannah Rowe (1/47) struck, removing Winfield-Hill on 21 via a faint nick through to the keeper.

Her wicket did little to slow down the scoring as captain Knight joined Beaumont at the crease. The duo forged a strong partnership and soon took England past the 100-run mark in the 22nd over.

Just as it looked like England were going to reach top gear, Sophie Devine (2/57) provided New Zealand with the second breakthrough, ending the half-century stand. Beaumont fell just six runs short of a fifty, struck in front of the middle stump.

Two overs later, Natalie Sciver (2) fell to the returning Lea Tahuhu (2/32). She also picked up the wicket of Amy Jones (2) in the 30th over and Jess Kerr (3/42) got Sophia Dunkley (5) in the 32nd over to reduce England to 140/5.

Despite the regular fall of wickets, Knight continued to take on the New Zealand bowlers. She paired with Brunt to push England past 220. The 88-run stand was broken by Leigh Kasperek (1/48) in the 47th over when she caught and bowled Knight for 89.

The remaining four England wickets fell for 13 runs as the hosts were bowled out for 241.

New Zealand were in trouble early in the chase as Sciver (2/10) accounted for Suzie Bates (1) and Lauren Down (5) inside the opening 10 overs.

The pressure continued to mount as Kate Cross (2/37) had Maddy Green (19) caught at slip in the 13th over to reduce New Zealand to 31/3. The duo of Amy Satterthwaite (79*) and captain Sophie Devine (34) rebuilt the innings in a 78-run stand but just as they were getting back into the game, Cross struck again, removing the Kiwi skipper for 34 in the 29th over.

Wickets fell at regular intervals from there as New Zealand slipped to 143/8, with Sophie Ecclestone (2/39) on a hat-trick at one point after removing Katey Martin (9) and Brooke Halliday (0).

Brief scores: England Women 241 in 49.3 overs (T Beaumont 44, H Knight 89, K Brunt 43; J Kerr 3/42, S Devine 2/57) beat New Zealand Women 211 in 46.3 overs (A Satterthwaite 79 not out, S Devine 34; N Sciver 2/10, K Cross 2/37, S Ecclestone 2/39) by 30 runs.

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