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Tuesday,09-August-2022

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

Ravi Shastri calls for reduction in number of T20Is played to counter scheduling issues

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Former India head coach Ravi Shastri has called for a reduction in the number of T20Is played to counter the raging issue of scheduling in international cricket. The month of July 2022 has seen the issue of hectic scheduling in cricket and prioritisation of franchise T20 leagues being reignited.

South Africa chose to pull out of a three-match ODI series against Australia in January 2023 to ensure their players would be available for the upcoming new domestic T20 competition in the country.

Earlier this week, England’s Test skipper and all-rounder Ben Stokes announced his retirement from ODI cricket after the first match against South Africa at the age of 31, citing the “unsustainable” workload by playing in all three formats.

With speculations coming that the upcoming Future Tours Programme (FTP) for the 2023-27 cycle will have more of T20I action, Shastri, currently in United Kingdom as a member of the Sky Sports commentary team, feels that bilateral T20Is should be reduced by a huge amount to free up the hectic international calendar.

“I would be a little careful of the number of bilateral splits, especially in T20 cricket. There’s a lot of franchise cricket which can be encouraged, whichever country it’s in – India, West Indies, or Pakistan. You play less bilaterals and then you get together for the World Cups. So, the emphasis on ICC World Cup events becomes paramount. Then people look forward to them,” said Shastri in an episode of the Vaughany and Tuffers podcast.

Shastri, a former India all-rounder and member of the 1983 Cricket World Cup winning team, further asked for creation of two divisions in Test cricket in a bid to safeguard the future of the longest format of the game.

“I think two tiers are needed, otherwise Test cricket will die in 10 years time. You need six teams at the top, and then six teams in the second and then you qualify. And those top six play against each other more often because of the corridor you open up by having less bilateral T20 cricket and just franchise cricket. That’s the way all formats of the game can survive.”

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Nation needs President who can protect constitution: Yashwant Sinha

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 Joint opposition candidate for Presidential poll, Yashwant Sinha on Friday said the nation needs a president who can protect the Constitution of the country.

Sinha was in Gujarat to seek support for himself. He appealed to the MLAs and MPs to vote for the candidate “who can protect the Constituency of India”.

He said the nation was passing through a serious constitutional and economic crises and at such a point of time the nation needs a president who does not toe the party line at the cost of national interest.

“There is an undeclared emergency in the country, even the media does not have the liberty to practice the profession freely when a check and balance is must for the country. So MLAs and MPs should vote in accordance with their conscience,” said sinha.

The former minister said he was confident of getting votes of the MLAs and MPs belonging to the Congress, BTP and NCP in the state.

He said he disagreed with the political theory that if a person is from a specific community and one holds a constitutional post it helps in uplifting the community. Citing the example of NDA presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu, he said,”They are projecting her as a tribal representative, she was the Governor of Jharkhand for six year, yet tribals’ conditions have not improved.”

“Though Ram Nath Kovind was president, see the condition of the community in his state. Nothing has changed, on the contrary they have suffered a lot,” said Sinha.

He, however, made it clear that he did not mean that a person should confront the central government.

He said, “Communalism is spreading because the state is backing it because communalism is consolidating the vote bank for them.”

Sinha said he was shocked to find that even today section 144 is implemented in Gujarat and questioned the state who it was afraid of. He said, “Even for social functions or events the people of Gujarat are asked to seek permission which is anti democracy.”

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I have seen glimpses of what this hockey team can achieve: Women’s coach Schopman

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India women’s hockey team chief coach Janneke Schopman has said she has “seen glimpses” of what her players can achieve following her side’s 3-4 loss in a hard-fought Pool B match of the FIH World Cup 2022 against New Zealand here late on Thursday.

Despite going down to the Kiwis, India are still in contention for a quarterfinal spot after finishing third in their pool. They will face Spain, who finished second in Pool C, in the crossover match on July 10 for a place in the last-eight.

Schopman also attributed the loss to New Zealand to defensive frailties and the rivals’ clinical finishes.

“I am proud of our fight as we worked really hard to stay in the game. Unfortunately, we made some defensive mistakes and New Zealand were very clinical in their finish,” said Schopman.

“There are a lot of things to learn from this game but I have seen glimpses of what we can do. Especially, our performance in the second half showed that we can play some good hockey,” she added.

For India, Vandana Katariya (4th munite), Lalremsiami (44th) and Gurjit Kaur (59th) were on target. The Indian team started the game aggressively and put pressure on their opponents in the opening minutes of the match.

But the Kiwis fought back after they earned a penalty corner and Olivia Merry didn’t miss out on the opportunity of slotting the ball into the goal in the 12th minute.

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