Dhiraj Parsana, former India left-arm spinner and the long-time curator at the Motera stadium here, remembers a young Axar Patel as someone who had a beautiful high-arm action when the youngster would visit Motera for camps and age-group cricket tournaments.
But with time and to adapt to limited-overs cricket, Patel has switched his bowling style to round-arm and that has held him in good stead in Test cricket as well, said the 73-year-old Parsana who is now living a retired life here.
Patel took 11 wickets for 70 runs in the third Test to help India win by 10 wickets and take a 2-1 lead in the series. He has taken three successive five-wicket hauls.
“He is different (from what we were or others have been). Axar is playing in the times of T20 and 50-over matches. He has played all three formats. But I remember when he started at Motera and used to come for trials and to play junior cricket for Gujarat. Back then, he had a beautiful action and despite his height he had a high-arm action. Now he is just coming a little bit side-arm which has helped him. He is a very intelligent bowler. Because of his height he cannot flight the ball too much since the bats are very good and the balls can go out of the boundary line (if he gives too much flight),” recalls Parsana, who played two Test matches and represented Saurashtra, Gujarat and Railways in 93 first-class matches.
He also served as the BCCI’s chief curator (West Zone) between 1997 and 2018 and chief curator in Ahmedabad from 1982 to 2018.
“There are not many bowlers, who can bowl straight balls on a turning track like him. The arm ball, that he bowls so well, is a left-arm spinner’s weapon. When you bowl an arm-ball you make the batsman play on the back-foot. It comes all of a sudden. So he has a great chance of getting bowled or lbw decisions and that is how he got them,” adds Parsana.
“He has to get the side-arm action because he is a very tall fellow, (close to) six feet. So if he goes as when he started as a junior with the ball he could go very high. But now when he delivers the ball, he has to go low down. Most of the bowlers are bowling flat (nowadays),” said Parsana who is happy that someone from Gujarat has made it to the India team.
Gujarat, as a Ranji team, hadn’t produced too many Test cricketers. Parsana was the last one to play for India before Parthiv Patel made his debut in 2002, 22 years after the former left-arm spinner played the last of his two Tests. Parsana though feels that he got his chance when he was past his prime but was fortunate to get a chance ahead of many others due to his all-round ability.
“I was very happy someone from Gujarat got an opportunity (in Tests). He (Axar) is in the right time, right place. He has got a really bright future,” adds Parsana.
“Axar knew those (England) guys were struggling and going for the spinning ball. So he trapped them with the arm ball that went straight. It was great and intelligent bowling,” he added.
“Axar is a fine all-rounder, very intelligent. He has come through the ranks, playing age group cricket. He was a very consistent bowler and batsman. I think he deserves the opportunity. The competition nowadays is much tougher than it was in my days. There are many fighting for a place — Jadeja, Nadeem etc. It is very tough in the professional arena.”
BWF World Tour Finals: Prannoy loses to China’s Lu Guang Zu; crashes out of semis contention
Indian shuttler H.S Prannoy continued to struggle in the BWF World Tour Finals as he suffered another narrow defeat in his second group stage match in Bangkok, Thailand on Thursday. The second successive defeat virtually dashed his hopes of reaching the semifinals from Group A.
Prannoy, the lone Indian in the fray in the year-end competition, had started with a defeat against Japan’s Kodai Naraoka on Wednesday. On Thursday, he needed to win his second match to maintain his chances of advancing to the next stage.
But Prannoy went down to China’s Lu Guang Zu in his second Group A match, losing 21-23, 21-17, 19-21 in the one hour and 24 minutes encounter.
Prannoy, 12th in the world rankings and started the match with heavy strapping on his right knee, lost the first game but came back strongly in the second game against the world No. 17.
He led in the third and deciding game but could not carry on the momentum to eventually lose 21-23, 21-17, 19-21 in one hour and 24 minutes.
Prannoy and his Chinese opponent went neck and neck till 3-3 before Lu Guang Zu opened a lead and to extended it to 13-10. But Prannoy caught up with him at 15-15 and led 19-16. The Chinese once again caught up with him at 20-20. Lu Guang Zu won the next two points from 21-21 to win the first game.
Prannoy scripted a turnaround in the decider by edging ahead to 19-18 after trailing 10-14. However, unforced errors in the crucial stages by the Indian badminton player meant Lu Guang Zu scored the final three points in the match to stay alive in the tournament.
This was HS Prannoy’s second loss against the 26-year-old Chinese shuttler. HS Prannoy, 30, was beaten by Lu Guang Zu in the round of 16 of the French Open in October.
In his last match in Group A, Prannoy will play world No. 1, Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, on Friday and will be hoping to end his campaign with a victory.
We want to build the biggest league outside India, says SA20 Commissioner Graeme Smith
In 15 years of its existence, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has emerged as the most prominent T20 league in the world. With T20 leagues proliferating around the world, all new entrants want to emulate IPL and become as successful in their region.
That is what upcoming South Africa’s domestic Twenty20 league aspires for — become the biggest league outside India.
With just over a month left for the start of the inaugural edition of SA20, commissioner Graeme Smith promised Indian fans an action-filled, world-class league.
“The goal of SA20 is to get South Africa cricket back to the place we all know it belongs – competing with India, competing with the likes of England and Australia and keeping the international game strong,” said SA20 Commissioner Graeme Smith at an event with Viacom18 Sports in Mumbai.
In November, Viacom18 and SA20 announced a partnership to exclusively broadcast and stream South Africa’s recently-launched premier T20 league in India.
Smith added, “We have that opportunity now through the partners we have been able to attract — the six teams, we are going to put sixty to eighty of South African players on the map and bring that fandom to India and the new heroes will come to the IPL and play for South Africa all around the world – that’s our goal. We want to build something vibrant and being able to build the biggest league outside India is something that we would really love to achieve.”
The six teams in SA20 — Durban’s Super Giants, Joburg Super Kings, MI Cape Town, Paarl Royals, Pretoria Capitals, and Sunrisers Eastern Cape — are owned by IPL franchise owners. The popularity of South African players with Indian fans coupled with the pedigree of the team owners gives SA20 a robust platform to build one of the top international T20 leagues globally.
“SA20 is primed to become one of the most popular T20 leagues in the world,” said Viacom18 Sports CEO Anil Jayaraj at an event celebrating the partnership. “At prime-time in India, the cricket-loving audience will watch South Africa’s most revered players along with global superstars and our presentation will match the energy and excitement that will come with it.”
The league features teams playing each other twice in a round-robin stage before the semis and final played over four weeks. MI Cape Town and neighbours Paarl Royals kickstart the tournament at Newlands on January 10. The opening game will be followed by Durban’s Super Giants hosting the Joburg Super Kings at Kingsmead on January 11
The SA20 will see international superstars like Quinton de Kock, Faf Du Plessis, Kagiso Rabada, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Rashid Khan, Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Liam Livingstone, Maheesh Theekshana, Jason Holder in action.
T20 World Cup: Unchanged India win toss, elect to bat first against the Netherlands
India won the toss and elected to bat first against The Netherlands in their second Group 2 match of the Super 12s in the Men’s T20 World Cup at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Wednesday.
This will be the first time India and The Netherlands will play a T20I against each other. Both teams are playing with unchanged elevens from their opening Super 12 matches in Melbourne and Hobart respectively.
“Morale is really high (after the four-wicket win over Pakistan). Winning a game like that takes your confidence to the next level but at the same time we understand we need to stay calm, just the first game of the tournament and plenty of things to happen,” said India skipper Rohit Sharma.
“We have to calm ourselves and look forward to this game. We want to keep improving no matter what the results are, it always keeps you in good stead when you are thinking like that,” Sharma added.
Sharma further noted that the pitch could be a touch slower at Sydney. “The pitch has been used for 40 overs so I expect it is going to be slightly slower. We are used to playing on such tracks.”
The Netherlands captain Scott Edwar’s said he’s happy to bowl first though he would have wanted to bat first too. “Our bowlers have been sensational all tournament, hopefully, we can continue that and our batters can come out and perform today. Batting is the obvious one (to improve), just need to get some scores together.”
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Arshdeep Singh
Netherlands: Vikramjit Singh, Max O’Dowd, Bas de Leede, Colin Ackermann, Tom Cooper, Scott Edwards (captain & wk), Tim Pringle, Logan van Beek, Shariz Ahmed, Fred Klaassen and Paul van Meekeren
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