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Thursday,28-October-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.”

National

Shiva Thapa wins opening bout at Men’s World Boxing

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Seasoned boxer Shiva Thapa started his campaign at the 2021 AIBA World Boxing Championships with an easy win in Belgrade, Serbia on Tuesday.

The bronze medal winner of the 2015 edition and reigning national champion, Thapa looked in good touch against Kenya’s Victor Nyadera in the 63.5kg round-of-64 match. With technical supremacy, the boxer from Assam kept control over his opponent throughout the bout before recording a victory by a unanimous margin.

With this victory, the five-time Asian Championships medallist Thapa also extended India’s unbeaten run at the prestigious tournament after Rohit Mor and Akash Sangwan won their respective opening round bouts on Day 1. Thapa will now take on Sierra Leone’s John Brown in the Last-32 clash on Saturday.

Later on Tuesday, three more Indians will be seen in action in their respective opening round matches. While Narender (+92kg) will fight against Poland’s Oskar Safaryan, Sumit (75kg) will take on Damon O’Neill of Jamaica.

On the other hand, Deepak Bhoria (51kg) will have a comparatively difficult challenge in his opening round match as he will start off against two-time Asian champion Azat Usenaliev of Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday.

A 13-member Indian contingent has been competing at the 21st edition of the tournament which will go on till November 6. With the participation of 650 top boxers from more than 100 countries, the championships is being played in 13 weight categories as per AIBA’s newly introduced weight divisions.

The gold medallists of each category will receive $100,000 while silver and bronze medallists will be given $50,000 and $25,000 respectively. Alongside an enormous prize pool of $2.6 million, AIBA will also award the winners with designed medals, made of solid gold and silver respectively, and belts to commemorate their accomplishments.

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Virat an absolutely amazing talent, says Gavaskar

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 Indian cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar has called Virat Kohli an “absolutely amazing talent” for the innings he played against Pakistan in the 10-wicket loss to the arch-rivals in the ICC T20 World Cup ‘Super 12’ game on October 24.

Following the dismissal of openers KL Rahul (3) and Rohit Sharma (0) early in Powerplays, the India skipper played with a “great sense of responsibility”, scoring 57 off 49 deliveries to at least give his side a fighting total of 151/7.

However, Pakistan, riding on a superb bowling performance from paceman Shaheen Afridi (3/31) and an unbeaten opening partnership of 152 runs between Mohammad Rizwan (79 not out) and Babar Azam (68 not out), scored a 10-wicket win over India.

“It was a terrific innings (from Virat) because India had lost their openers in the powerplay itself, so there was a greater sense of responsibility on Kohli’s shoulders because he now had to pace the innings he thought to repair the innings and also get India to a total which they could hope to defend,” said Gavaskar on Star Sports on Tuesday.

“So, the way he (Virat) paced his innings, the way he chose the shots to break free at times and the six that he hit off Shaheen Afridi. Absolutely amazing talent.”

Gavaskar also praised Shaheen Afridi’s bowling and shed light on how Virat was able to play the pacer.

“The way Shaheen Afridi was bowling, he was mixing it up quite well, he was angling the ball across the right hand and he was getting the ball to turn back in after pitching, not so much in the air because you don’t get that much help in the UAE.

“That’s why it was important for Kohli to try and step out so that he would be able to then negate the amount of swing that Shaheen Afridi was getting and that’s how he was able to negotiate that and score runs off Shaheen Afridi.”

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BCCI wants Dravid to be India’s chief coach; sources say Rahul’s ‘agreed but…!’

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 Former Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid has agreed to coach the national side after the ICC T20 World Cup but there are a couple of issues which he wants to be sorted out before joining, said a BCCI official.

Earlier, there were reports that Dravid would be the interim coach for the upcoming home series against New Zealand.

However, the BCCI official has now confirmed that “Rahul has agreed to coach the Indian team till 2023 World Cup”.

The official told IANS that BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah had a meeting with Dravid on the side-lines of the IPL final on Friday evening and they managed to convince him.

“There are a couple of issues which Dravid wants to settle with the BCCI and hopefully that will be done,” he added.

Asked what are the “issues”, the official said, “Like, Dravid wants to have new support staff… changing the entire old one. And a couple of other things. I am sure everything will be sorted out. Because BCCI wants Dravid to lead the charge.”

It is learnt that former Mumbai pacer Paras Mhambrey may take over from Bharat Arun as the bowling coach.

Sources further said that Dravid had suggested Australian Tom Moody’s name for the coach’s job, but the Board didn’t show too much interest.

The 48-year-old Dravid has been in charge of the India A and U-19 set-up for the past six years. He currently heads the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.

“He will resign from there and take over the charge (of Team India),” sources added.

Dravid had recently coached a second-string Indian team to a tour of Sri Lanka even as the national senior team was playing concurrently in England.

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