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Tuesday,13-April-2021

National

Not many can bowl straight balls on spinners’ track like Axar: Dhiraj Parsana

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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.”

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Second half of the knock was my best in IPL: Sanju Samson

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Sanju Samson wanted to keep the coin from the toss as a souvenir since Monday’s match against Punjab Kings was his captaincy debut. However, the match referee did not allow him to do so. All that the new Rajasthan Royals (RR) skipper would be able to carry are memories of seven big sixes and 12 boundaries that helped him get to a century on his IPL captaincy debut.

“The coin looked great so I pocketed it and asked the referee if I can have it. But he said no,” said Samson after scoring 119 off 63 balls in his team’s IPL opener. RR lost to Punjab Kings by four runs.

Samson, who replaced Steve Smith (now with Delhi Capitals) at the helm of the franchise, played a calculated innings as he overcame the early loss of a couple of wickets and built his innings well.

“The second part of my innings was my best IPL performance. I took my time and respected the bowlers, whereas in the first part I was not timing it very well. I took the singles and got into a rhythm and then I started to play my shots in the second half. I enjoy my shots, but I return to the present after playing them,” said Samson, who was given the man-of-the-match award as his knock upstaged the knock of his opposite number, KL Rahul who had hit 91 off 50 balls.

“When I am in the zone, and watching the ball well, the sixes come out naturally, and in that process I tend to lose my wickets also. Happy to play that way no matter what,” added the Kerala batsman who was dropped from the India white-ball teams after a lacklustre show in Australia.

“My mind was playing, not body,” Samson explained further.

“I don’t have words to explain my feelings. Would have loved to finish it off for my team. I don’t think I could have done better than that. I thought I timed it well for a six but unfortunately couldn’t clear the man in the deep,” he said of the last ball that he tried to hit for a six but couldn’t manage it as he holed out.

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Bat fearlessly like Hooda: KL Rahul to teammates

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A relieved Punjab Kings skipper K.L. Rahul called on his batsmen to bat fearlessly just like Deepak Hooda after his team managed to see off a resilient Rajasthan Royals led by Sanju Samson.

Rahul, who himself made 91 off 50 deliveries, breathed a sigh of relief after Samson’s 119 failed to get RR past the finish line.

“Deepak Hooda’s innings was amazing. That’s the kind of batting we want to see as a team. We want to bat fearlessly and take down bowlers. We have a lot of power in our line-up but we have been slightly tentative. It is important for us to bat fearlessly. It is great to see boys trying to understand what we expect,” said Rahul after the match. Hooda made 64 off 28 balls, his knock helping the team put up a big 221-run total.

While he praised his batsmen he did add that the bowlers were a bit inconsistent with their lengths and needed to pull up their socks.

“Heart rate was high but I didn’t stop believing. We knew a couple of wickets would bring us back. Till the first 10-11 overs, we bowled well. It was close because we dropped a few sitters, including me. We batted really well and bowled well in patches. We weren’t consistent with the lengths but the bowlers will learn,” he added.

“It’s a young team, some new boys, the boys are talented and skillful, so we need to back them.”

Rahul acknowledged his opposite number saying it is always hard to bowl against him.

“When you’re bowling against Sanju, it’s difficult,” he added.

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Neuberg conducting Covid-19 tests for IPL teams

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Neuberg Diagnostics Private Limited, India’s fourth largest pathology player, is conducting Covid-19 RT-PCR test for all the Indian Premier League (IPL) teams.

As per the guidelines, all the players, management team, broadcasting crew, state and central cricket committee member, groundskeepers, hotel staff, and the event management team are being tested. The tests are conducted at various hotels where the teams are stationed in the bio bubble and at the stadiums for the other staff members at a regular interval.

The screening of teams has already started in Mumbai and Chennai, where the initial matches are scheduled to be played. Earlier, Neuberg Diagnostics had conducted screening during the IPL auction in Chennai as well.

“For the smooth functioning of IPL 2021, we are happy to undertake testing for all team members on the ground and help them curtail the spread of the virus,” said Aishwarya Vasudevan, group chief operating, Neuberg Diagnostics Private Limited.

Neuberg will be conducting tests in all IPL venues Viz: Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Kolkata.

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