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Less cricket due to Covid has made us grateful, friendly: Virat Kohli

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In one of the scenes of docuseries, The Test, which documents Australia’s emergence out of the 2018 ball-tampering scandal and shows the non-aggressive, soft side of the team, Tim Paine is shown telling his teammates to completely ignore Virat Kohli during India’s 2018-19 tour of Australia. The Australia captain asks them to not engage him. Paine, however, himself falls for it and indulges in chatter in the second Test Perth after being tempted into it by the India skipper.

Two years later, Paine says he is not one for run-ins but he won’t hold back if tempted in the Test series that starts with a day-nighter in Adelaide on Thursday.

“Certainly, we don’t go in planning to have run-ins or be overly aggressive or anything like that. We just go out there to execute our plans firstly with bat and ball, and at times things at the field can be… if that is the case, no doubt that this team won’t be taking a backward step,” said Paine on Wednesday, the eve of the first Test, a day-night fixture.

Despite that, both Paine and coach Justin Langer have emphasised that there will be only banter and no abuse.

Kohli remains game for on-field aggression, though admitting that a lot of things in the past were unnecessary. Apart from the run-in with Paine, Kohli had it with Steve Smith too in a few series prior before the 2018-19 one. Kohli accused Smith of cheating in the ‘brain-fade incident’ when the Australian looked for help from the dressing room for a DRS referral during the 2017 series in India. In the 2016 limited overs series in Australia, Kohli gave Smith a send-off but the worst came in 2014-15, when Kohli among other Indians had on-field fights with many Australian cricketers including Mitchell Johnson who threw a ball at him. A war of words broke out on the field between Kohli and Smith in the first Test at Adelaide in 2014, the venue for the first Test this time too.

The Indian captain feels that, apart from the IPL and Australians changing their approach, lack of cricket due to Covid-19 has made players less prickly.

“I think this year has made people realise a lot of things which may not have been necessary in the past where you hold grudges or where you have unnecessary tension between teams or individuals. Absolutely pointless. (But) You still have to be professional, positive and aggressive in your body language in the way you go about things in the field. I don’t think that things are going to be as personal as they used to be before,” said Kohli on Wednesday.

“The unnecessary stuff is going to be filtered out pretty much by itself. It could be a culmination of playing IPL together, Australia changing their approach to an extent and also the way things have panned out this year. Everyone is grateful for the opportunities to be back on the field. It is not that the games haven’t been as intense or as competitive. It is just that the unnecessary stuff has been filtered out. I feel there is more respect between the sides and you can see that on the field. I hope the cricket continues to be competitive,” added Kohli.

He, however, said that there will be tension and sledging on the field.

“This is the highest level of cricket that we play. There is going to be tension, stress, sledging every now and then but I don’t foresee anything personal. I think all of us are getting smarter and a few more years into our careers, we are going to make smarter choices…”

Kohli has been termed by former Aussie batsman Greg Chappell as the most Aussie of the non-Australians due to his approach on the field and for his ‘all-out aggression’ in Test matches.

The Indian skipper said there will be no let-up on aggression as handshakes and smiles can be reserved for the end of the game. He added that he is the ‘representation of a new India that takes up challenges and is filled with optimism and positivity’.

“We are moving forward as a side, whether we are standing up to some chirping on the field or just being aggressive in our plans and body language as a side. I think at the highest level the quality of cricket cannot be compromised. If you are stepping on the field thinking we will have smiles and handshakes throughout the day, we are not going to be as competitive and as aggressive in our body language, then I think that is a wrong idea to have. You have to maintain the dignity of the sport but you also have to realise that you are competing with two quality sides against each other. There are going to be moments,” Kohli added.

“Appreciation for someone’s grit and character comes at the end of the five days is what I meant. Crowds will make things as difficult as possible, we will make it difficult for other teams,” he said.

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Indian spinners bag 8 wkts, England all out for 205

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Axar-Patel

In-form left-arm spinner Axar Patel bagged four wickets and off-spinner R. Ashwin three as Indian spinners accounted bundled England out for 205 runs in their first innings in the fourth and final Test here on Thursday.

Washington Sundar was the other spinner to bag a wicket to make it eight for the three slow bowlers. Pacer Mohammed Siraj, who was preferred to Umesh Yadav for this Test, took the other two wickets. Fast bowler Ishant Sharma went wicketless.

Ben Stokes was the top scorer for England for 55 and Daniel Lawrence made 46, after openers Zak Crawley and Dominic Sibley failed to provide a solid start. England were reduced to 15 for two and later 74 for four, before Stokes and Ollie Pope (29) steadied the ship somewhat.

India lead the four-match Test series 2-1.

Earlier, England captain Joe Root won the toss and chose to bat, at the same venue where the visitors lost the third Test by 10 wickets.

England went for lunch at 74 for three and took tea at 144 for five wickets, as Stokes and Pope led the England resistance.

England started the second session on 74/3 with Stokes in the middle along with Jonny Bairstow. While the pair had done well to prop up the England innings after they lost three early wickets, including that of captain Root, Bairstow did not survive long in the second session.

Siraj struck for the second time in the day by trapping Bairstow in his crease. The ball hit Bairstow’s pad and the umpire raised his fingers.

Stokes and Pope then put up 43 for the fifth wicket with the former getting to his 24th Test half century and his second of the series. It looked like the pair would see England through to the end of the post-lunch session but Stokes was done in by an arm ball from Sundar. He was given out LBW and walked after a brief conference with Pope.

Brief scores: England: 205 all out (Ben Stokes 55, Daniel Lawrence 46, Ollie Pope 29, Axar Patel 4/68, R. Ashwin 3/47, Mohammed Siraj 2/45)

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Jofra Archer missed 4th Test due to right elbow issue: ECB

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London: England’s Jofra Archer on Day 2 of the 5th Test match between England and Australia at Kennington Oval in London on Sep 13, 2019. (Photo: Twitter/@ICC)

England fast bowler Jofra Archer was not included in the playing XI for the fourth Test against India due to an injury in his right elbow, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Thursday.

“Jofra Archer is not playing in this Test match due to his ongoing right elbow issue. The ECB medical team will provide an update in due course,” said the ECB in a statement.

The ECB also said that all-rounder Ben Stokes has been hit by a stomach bug, same as the one that has affected some other members of the touring party.

However, Stokes was included in the XI and turned out to be England’s highest scorer in their first innings with 55, on the first day of at the Narendra Modi Stadium. He put up a crucial partnerships with Jonny Bairstow (48 runs) for the fourth wicket and Ollie Pope (43 runs) for the fifth. England were eventually all out for 205.

Changing weather in Ahmedabad seems to have affected the English camp. A sudden rise in temperature here has affected the visitors with a few members, including assistant coach Paul Collingwood, reportedly suffering from diarrhoea.

England captain Joe Root confirmed that a bug has hit the camp without confirming what it was or how many players were affected.

“There’s been a little bit of stuff flying around. We’ll keep monitoring it. To be honest, I don’t know exactly who’s been affected badly at this stage but it’s just really important we try and give everyone the best chance of being available for selection ahead of this game,” Root told the British media.

India captain Virat Kohli, however, confirmed that none of the Indian players have contracting any ailment.

“There are no health concerns or health issues. Everyone is fit and fine. Probably, [England players] would have been caught by a change in weather. It has been pretty hot over the last couple of days. It was pretty pleasant the first few days. That obviously becomes a factor at this time of the year when the weather changes rapidly. It takes a bit of time to adapt,” said Kohli on Wednesday.

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4th Test: India 24/1 after spinners rock England

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Ben-Stokes

England got a 200-plus total for the first time after five innings of sub-200 scores but the 205 they could muster on Thursday still kept them on the backfoot against India on the first day of the fourth and final Test here at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday. India were 24 for one at stumps.

Against India’s spin trio that bowled 70 per cent of the overs and took 80 per cent of the wickets, England’s batting heavy line-up faltered again after winning the toss and electing to bat as Axar Patel (4/68), R. Ashwin (3/47) and Washington Sundar (1/14) ran riot.

Only Ben Stokes (55) and Dan Lawrence (46) could put up some resistance of note as the visiting batsmen showed lack of patience on a wicket that was spin-friendly but not as much as during the preceding two Tests.

England’s innings on Thursday lasted for 75.5 overs, which was quite close to the 79.2 overs it lasted across two innings combined in the third Test.

Left-arm spinner Patel, who has taken a hat-trick of fifers, once again took a wicket in his first over of the innings like he had done in the third Test. He removed Dom Sibley, having him bowled with an armer.

In his second over, he got rid of the other opener Zak Crawley who tried to hit out against him. Soon Joe Root (5) was back, dismissed leg-before by a Mohammed Siraj delivery that came back in.

A 48-run partnership brought England to safety but Jonny Bairstow’s dismissal gave India a chance to repeat their act from the third Test when they dismissed England for just over a 100.

However, Stokes’ half-century and contributions from Ollie Pope (29) and Lawrence took them to a total which kept them alive.

India lost an early wicket, of Shubman Gill (0), off the bowling of James Anderson during the 12 overs they had to face towards the end of the day’s play.

Rohit Sharma was unbeaten on eight and Cheteshwar Pujara was not out on 15.

England had packed their line-up with batsmen, leaving out Jofra Archer, who had a niggle in his elbow, as well as Stuart Broad.

Lawrence and off-spinner Dom Bess replaced the two English bowlers.

Brief scores: England 205 all out in 75.5 overs (B Stokes 55, D Lawrence 46, O Pope 29, A Patel 4/68, R Ashwin 3/47, W Sundar 1/15) vs India 24/1 in 12 overs (R Sharma batting 8, C Pujara batting 15, D Bess 1/4)

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