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Wednesday,23-June-2021

National

Power-packed RCB look to win their first title

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Royal-Challengers-Bangalore

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are one of the three IPL sides never to have won an IPL title — Delhi and Punjab franchises being the other two — and the fact that the India skipper Virat Kohli has been leading the franchise since 2013 makes their failure in winning an IPL title even more noticeable.

Although they made the play-offs last time after a gap of four years, RCB have failed to get their balance right over the last few years. Their middle-order has always been brittle and their batting has depended solely on the Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers duo in recent years.

With even one of the two failing, they have lacked a batsman who could take them to big totals.

This season though they have decided to strengthen it by including Australian hard-hitter Glenn Maxwell and Kerala batsmen Mohammed Azharuddeen, who scored a 37-ball century in Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s, and Sachin Baby.

Maxwell has been included to provide power-hitting option in the middle-order.

RCB have also bought New Zealand’s bowling all-rounder Kyle Jamieson and Australia all-rounder Daniel Christian. Both can provide the impetus towards the end of the innings.

Another thing that failed RCB was their bowling, especially the faster variety.

Virat Kohli’s team had till recent years relied on a pace attack that was one-dimensional, relying mainly on pace or some early swing, while lacking the ability to change pace and bring in variations.

However, with the likes of Aussies Daniel Sams and Christian, they have bowlers who can use change in pace. They also have Kane Richardson.

Jamieson, who has been a rage and New Zealand’s fast bowling find over the last 12-14 months, provides not just pace but also bounce.

RCB wasn’t averse to spending a fortune on high-impact players like Maxwell and Jamieson. The Aussie, who is also a spinner was bought for Rs 14.25 crore whereas the New Zealand bowler was picked for Rs 15 crore.

They also have Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini and one of the two will take the new ball.

The Bengaluru franchise’s spin-bowling attack comprises Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa besides India internationals like leggie Yuzvendra Chahal and off-spinner Washington Sundar. Zampa played very little last season but after a successful home summer against India, he will probably be their lead spinner if combination permits.

While Kohli had made it clear that he would open, RCB got a jolt on Sunday when their other opener Devdutt Padikkal, who had a successful IPL 2020, tested positive for Covid-19. He is in quarantine. The left-hander, who made 473 in 15 matches in IPL’s last season and 737 runs in seven games in Vijay Hazare Trophy for Karnataka, could miss the first match.

Royal Challengers Bangalore squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Devdutt Padikkal, Finn Allen (wicket-keeper), AB de Villiers (wicket-keeper), Pavan Deshpande, Washington Sundar, Daniel Sams, Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa, Shahbaz Ahmed, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Kane Richardson, Harshal Patel, Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Kyle Jamieson, Daniel Christian, Suyash Prabhudessai, K.S. Bharat.

Support staff: Mike Hesson (director of cricketing operations), Simon Katich (head coach), S Sriram (batting and spin-bowling coach), Adam Griffith (bowling coach), Shanker Basu (strength and conditioning coach), Evan Speechly (physiotherapist), Navnita Gautam (sports massage therapist).

“We have back-up players, providing more depth. We want to change the style of play on particular venues, there might be certain grounds where we need players who bowl more cutters, there might be certain grounds where we need bounce bowlers,” Mike Hesson (RCB director of cricketing operations)

National

Will need solid plan to bundle out NZ on reserve day: Mohammed Shami

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Mohammed-Shami

Pace bowler Mohammed Shami said that his team would need to score as many runs as possible on the reserve day and have some solid plan in place to bundle out New Zealand if India are to win the World Test Championship final at Hampshire Bowl here on Wednesday.

Persistent rain and bad light have forced the match into the reserve day with India going to stumps on Day 5 at 64/2 on Tuesday with a lead of 32 runs.

Openers Shubman Gill (8 off 33 balls) and Rohit Sharma (30 off 81 balls) were both dismissed by New Zealand pace bowler Tim Southee. Skipper Virat Kohli (8 off 12 balls) and Cheteshwar Pujara (12 off 55 balls) were unbeaten at the draw of stumps.

Shami, who took four wickets to reduce New Zealand to 249 all out in their first innings, said during a virtual press conference that, “We have to score as many as possible and then see how much time is left to put them in and decide accordingly. In conditions like England, anything can happen, but we simply can’t have a pre-plan in mind that we can get them out in this many overs. You need time to get 10 wickets and some solid plans in place. But first, we need to score enough back-up runs.”

Shami, who picked up the wickets of Ross Taylor, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, and Kyle Jamieson, added that bowling “tight lines” on Tuesday helped India bowlers restrict New Zealand to 249.

“Obviously as you play the Test match, you can’t stick to one plan for five days. You need to be flexible and set up lines as per the track. We needed to bowl those tight lines which benefit the team in order to restrict New Zealand to as little as possible. So, the pressure created momentum and we got wickets in clutches,” he said.

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National

Exciting finish expected but bundling out Kiwis difficult: Sunil Gavaskar

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Sunil-Gavaskar

Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar expects an exciting finish to the World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and New Zealand on the reserve day on Wednesday but is sceptical about the bowlers being able to bundle out the opposition with just one full day of play remaining.

Persistent rain and bad light have forced the match into the reserve day with India going to stumps on Day 5 at 64/2 on Tuesday with a lead of 32 runs.

Openers Shubman Gill (8) and Rohit Sharma (30) were both dismissed by New Zealand pace bowler Tim Southee. Skipper Virat Kohli (8) and Cheteshwar Pujara (12) were unbeaten at the draw of stumps.

The weather department has predicted a bright and sunny day, which might be conducive for batting.

“India will be looking to score freely and put some runs on the board and maybe try to bowl New Zealand out in the fourth innings. An exciting finish for the first-ever WTC final,” Gavaskar told India Today.

“They (India) have earned the opportunity (an outside chance to go for win) but now the pitch seems to be playing a lot better because of the weather that is different, there is a little bit of sun out now. It has dried up the surface,” said Gavaskar.

The cricketer-turned-commentator felt that even with a bit of grass on the pitch, batting would be much easier on the reserve day compared to when the Test had started.

“Even if there is a little bit of grass on the pitch, it won’t have that much carry that was there in the earlier days. So that means batting has become a lot easier. India will probably not be able to bowl New Zealand out in the second innings. They have to bowl exceptionally well to get New Zealand out,” Gavaskar said.

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National

‘There must be a formula to pick WTC final winner in case of a draw’

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Sunil-Gavaskar

Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar is clearly not happy with the way things are panning out in the World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and New Zealand here after two days were lost to rain.

The cricketer-turned-commentator wants the International Cricket Council (ICC) to come up with a formula to determine the winner if the final ends in a draw.

The first and fourth days of the Test here were a washout. In reply to India’s first-innings total of 217, New Zealand are 101/2 in 49 overs.

The ICC, while announcing the playing conditions of the WTC final, had said that in the event of a draw or a tie, the trophy would be shared.

“There must be a formula to pick a winner in case of a drawn World Test Championship final. ICC’s cricket committee should think and then take a decision,” Gavaskar told a news channel.

A total of 141.1 overs have been possible in the WTC final so far and with just two days remaining, including the reserved day, it would be impossible to bowl the remaining 308.5 overs.

“It seems that the WTC final will end up as a draw and the trophy will be shared. This will be the first time that the trophy will be shared in a final. To complete three innings in two days would be really difficult. Yes, if both teams bat really badly, the three innings could be completed,” Gavaskar added.

He asked ICC to look at other sport, such as football or tennis, to find a way to decide the winner.

“In football, they have a penalty shootout or they have some other method to decide a winner. In tennis, there are five sets and there is a tie-breaker,” he said.

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