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Wednesday,16-June-2021

International

Ravichandran Ashwin gets his line right to get to complete 400 Test wickets

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On a wicket that helped spinners right from the start, it looked that it would only be a matter of time before R. Ashwin would reach his tally of 400 Test wickets in England’s second innings on the second day of the third Test here.

By the 24th over of England’s second innings, he had claimed his third wicket to get to the milestone despite struggling for his line early on as left-arm spinner Axar Patel ran through England’s top-order.

He finished with innings figures of four for 48 and match figures of seven for 74 as England were bowled out for 81.

The 34-year-old bowler is the second quickest after Muttiah Muralitharan (72) to get to 400 Test wicket mark. This is Ashwin’s 77th Test match.

The off-spinner, who took three wickets in the first innings, needed six scalps ahead of this Test to get to 400 which has been breached (among Indians) only by former pace bowler Kapil Dev (434), former leg-spinner Anil Kumble (619) and former off-spinner Harbhajan Singh (417 wickets) before.

For some time early in England’s second innings after Patel had made early dents, it seemed that the visitors were on road to recovery with Ben Stokes and Joe Root at the crease.

Stokes went after the bowling, especially Ashwin as the bowler tried a bit too hard to turn giving loose balls. In his first eight overs, he gave away 33 runs — without a wicket — at over four an over despite there being so much help in the pitch.

But then he got into wickets, getting Stokes for the 11th time in Tests with one that didn’t turn. He then trapped England captain and batting mainstay Joe Root again with one that again did not turn and then followed it up with the wicket of Ollie Pope who had earlier reverse-swept him for four.

The delivery moved away a bit and Pope was bowled. He then got Jofra Archer for his 400th again with the one that didn’t turn much and followed it with the wicket of Jack Leach.

Among the Indian bowlers with over 400 wickets, Ashwin commands the best average — 24.94 as against Anil Kumble’s 29.65, Kapil Dev’s 29.64, and Harbhajan Singh’s 32.46.

International

Test rankings: Steve Smith new No.1 batsman, Virat Kohli moves up to 4th

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Ahead of the World Test Championship (WTC) final, India captain Virat Kohli on Wednesday moved up one spot, to fourth, in the ICC Test batting rankings while New Zealand captain Kane Williamson lost his top spot to Australian Steve Smith.

With 891 points, former Australia skipper Smith is the world No.1 Test batsman while Williamson is now second with 886 points. Kohli, with 814 points displaced England captain Joe Root, who is now fifth with 797 points.

Two more Indians featuring in the top-10 – wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and Rohit Sharma with 747 points each – are joint sixth.

Williamson lost his top spot in the rankings due to his omission from the playing XI in the second Test against England, while Root slipped to fifth after a forgettable outing in the two-Test series against New Zealand, which the hosts lost 0-1.

In the Test bowling rankings, Ravichandran Ashwin is the lone Indian in the top-10 — at No.2 with 850 points. Australia’s Pat Cummins is leading the pack with 908 points.

In the Test all-rounders rankings, Ravindra Jadeja (386 points) and Ashwin (353 points) are holding on to their second and fourth positions respectively. West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder, with 412 points, is leading the rankings.

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Virat Kohli gets a taste of pace, bounce at Southampton

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India skipper Virat Kohli got a glimpse of pace and bounce, that groundsman Simon Lee wants in the World Test Championship (WTC) final pitch, during a nets session at the Hampshire Bowl here.

Kohli was felled by a fast bouncer from one of India’s throwdown specialists in a video posted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Tuesday as he prepared for the WTC final that gets underway from June 18.

Lee was on Monday quoted as saying, “For me personally, I just want to get something out that has some pace, bounce and carry in the pitch.”

The 32-year-old, who is India’s No. 4 in Test batting line-up, was also seen blocking a yorker, playing drives and reaching out for a delivery.

The video also showed India pace bowlers Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami as well as spinner Ravindra Jadeja bowling to other batsmen with Rishabh Pant smashing a six.

India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane also seemed to be getting a hang of things as he played a flick shot that was acknowledged by teammates including bowler Ishant.

India had reached Southampton on June 3 and underwent quarantine for 10 days during which they also played an intra-squad simulation match.

They came out of quarantine on Monday.

The Indian Test squad is staying in United Kingdom for three-and-a-half months during which they will also play a five-Test series against England in August-September.

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Indian cricketers loving the taste of England

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Scrambled eggs, baked beans, brown toast, and sausages seem to be the favourite breakfast of Indian cricketers while they are in England for the World Test Championship (WTC) final and a five-match Test series against the hosts.

Pacers Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin say their favourite English breakfast was scrambled eggs, baked beans and toast, while India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane added sausages to the menu.

In a video posted by bcci.tv on Tuesday, the fifth player, Cheteshwar Pujara, said he preferred brown toast, potato roasties and beans, as he was a vegetarian.

While fielding a ‘Rapid fire Challenge'”, all the cricketers were in agreement that Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) was one of their favourite films shot in England.

The other movies shot in England that they could immediately think of were: Namaste London, Kal Ho Na Ho, and Houseful.

All the cricketers agreed that the balmy England weather was the biggest attraction to tour the country.

Shami said he liked England because of the weather and the plenty of opportunities it provided for shopping.

Ashwin said that “the greatest blessing of coming to England is to walk on those big streets especially in the London mainstream…you can grab a coffee by the road, sit around and calmly have a chat with whoever you’re going with”.

Rahane made it clear that though he liked walking around parks and going to cafes with his family, his immediate task was to play competitive cricket against New Zealand in the WTC final in Southampton from Friday and the Test series against England in August-September.

“Playing cricket here is what I really enjoy,” said the vice-captain. And as an afterthought he said that “walking around the parks and going to cafes with your families, especially now that my daughter is here, are what I like a lot”.

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