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Saturday,06-March-2021

International

Rishabh Pant should replace Iyer or Samson in India ODI, T20I squads: Brad Hogg

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Former Australia all-rounder Brad Hogg has called on the Indian selectors to include Rishabh Pant in India’s limited-overs squads saying that the batsman’s ability to play unconventional shots makes him difficult to bowl to.

“I would be putting him there right now because he has got the confidence and the belief. He has proven himself with two match-winning knocks in this Test series. You can’t get better than that playing for India on Australian soil. I would put him in place of Iyer. Keep your all-round options there for batting and bowling depth. He will be there for either Iyer or Sanju Samson,” said Hogg on his Youtube channel.

“He is hard to bowl to because he plays a variety of shots that are different to any other batsman. Get him in there,” added Hogg.

Pant scored 97 on the fifth day of the Sydney Test, helping India escape with a draw. He then made an unbeaten 89 on the fifth day of the Brisbane Test to help India win the match by three wickets and seal the series.

The former Chinaman bowler and left-handed batsman, however, backed Virat Kohli to continue as India skipper saying that any change in captaincy at the moment can affect India’s balance.

He said that removing Kohli from captaincy can affect his batting.

“He (Virat Kohli) bats better when he is the captain. I think if you change it, it would destroy the culture of that Indian team. It might affect Kohli’s batting. He wouldn’t want it to happen, but it will happen,” Hogg said.

“Yes, Ajinkya Rahane has done a fantastic job in the last three Tests in Australia. He is cool, calm and collected. He is quite decisive, and he doesn’t get agitated. He is a fantastic leader. But I will leave him as vice-captain because I think Virat Kohli leads from the front,” added Hogg.

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My confidence carried me through, says Axar Patel

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Left-arm spinner Axar Patel said on Saturday that it was his confidence that helped him take a nine-wicket haul in the fourth and final Test against England here.

Playing his first Test series, Patel captured 27 wickets at a stunning average of 10.59 in the four-match Test series.

“I think the confidence helped me. I got wickets in the first game and kept on carrying the confidence,” Patel said after India’s innings and 25-run win in the fourth Test on Saturday.

“I only bowled faster ones more often in the previous games but here we needed to vary our pace.”

Axar was partly responsible for Sundar remaining stranded at 96 for lack of partners when India were bowled out. Axar was run out as the eighth wicket and Ishant Sharma and Mohamed Siraj, who followed him, didn’t last long enough to help Sundar reach his maiden century.

When asked about century Patel said: “When I got back [into the dressing room] after being run out, I didn’t have enough time to talk to Washi as we were bowled out.”

Sundar, on the other hand, said he wasn’t disappointed at missing out on his maiden Test ton.

“To win my first series at home is amazing, feels great. Not at all disappointed to miss the hundred. The 100 will come when it’s the right time for me. I am happy to contribute to the team,” he said rather diplomatically.

About the Motera pitch, Sundar said: “To be honest, the pitch was very good to bat on. Credit to [James] Anderson, [Ben] Stokes for getting assistance on this surface, they bowled really well. The wicket is still good to bat on. If you apply yourself you can score.”

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Batting success rubbed off on wicket-keeping: Rishabh Pant

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Less than three months ago, Rishabh Pant was considered a second choice wicket-keeper across formats. Someone who was not fit to be in the limited-overs squads for the Australia tour.

And in the Test squad, he was second behind Wriddhiman Saha on testing pitches i.e. surfaces that supported seam movement or turn.

At the end of the fourth Test against England on Saturday, Pant is India’s no. 1 wicket-keeper by a distance and easily one of their biggest matchwinners with the bat.

The 23-year-old attributed it to the confidence he gained through his batting which he transferred to his wicket-keeping.

“I did a lot of drills. The main thing is confidence that I got with batting and I transferred that to keeping. It (performances with the bat like these) means a lot. If you are in a tough situation, and can do something that can pull your team into a situation that can help bring the game towards you. That is a big thing,” said Pant after the match.

Pant was rated high behind the stumps by experts and batted bravely and in a calculated manner in the only innings India played in the fourth Test. This is besides his series-winning performances in Australia.

His audacity and fearlessness was exemplified by the reverse sweep he hit off James Anderson when the England pace bowler was bowling with the second new ball.

Pant said he won’t hold back such shots even if it is Test cricket.

“If I get a chance I will reverse sweep,” he added, saying that his ability to play in a free and brave manner comes from his habit – since childhood — of playing to enjoy and make everyone enjoy the game.

“Since childhood, I was thinking whatever cricket I have to play, I have to enjoy and play with a smile. And everyone around you should keep smiling because of you,” added Pant.

Senior teammate and ace off-spinner R. Ashwin was effusive in his praise of the wicketkeeper-batsman and acknowledged the pressure Pant has handled.

“He has been under a lot of pressure for someone, being compared to legends of the game,” said Ashwin with an obvious reference to M.S. Dhoni.

Ashwin hinted that Pant just needed some confidence as he always thought he was good enough to keep wickets.

“Often he has come and told me ‘I take these catches and stumpings so often in club cricket and in IPL’ and it is just that he has got the right momentum. The way he has kept in the series is beyond excellent.”

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India crush England in 4th Test, win series; enter WTC final

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England’s ineptness at playing spin ensured that India booked their ticket to the World Test Championship (WTC) final a bit early, sealing the fourth and final Test win by innings and 25 runs on just the third day of the fourth and final Test on Saturday.

The result ensured India won the series 3-1, coming back remarkably after losing the first Test.

After Rishabh Pant had tilted the scales in favour of the hosts with an awesome century on Friday, Washington Sundar (96 not out) and Axar Patel (43) rubbed it in further, staying at the crease for one-and-a-half hour that blew away whatever hopes England had of making a comeback on Friday evening.

The two batted for 91 minutes on Saturday morning and frustrated England for 20.4 overs to take the game further away as India finished on 365, which was 160 runs ahead of the visiting side.

The lead was too much for England, who had to face 67 overs on the third day. And they succumbed under pressure even though the surface didn’t play as many tricks as the ones during the previous two Test matches.

Between lunch and tea, India picked six wickets – three each by R. Ashwin and Axar Patel as England, starting the post-lunch session at six without loss, went to tea at 91 for six.

Their captain and batting mainstay Joe Root, who has failed to get even one fifty after his double century in the first Test, was also dismissed in the second session for 30 and with his dismissal, England’s hopes of making a match dissipated into thin air.

To the Indian bowlers’ credit, they maintained a tight line, not giving any room as England tried their best to get away but just couldn’t find any shot or area to score runs consistently.

Patel took a couple more wickets soon after tea to complete his fourth five-wicket haul in three Test matches. This was his third five-wicket haul in the two Tests at his home venue in Motera. His series haul stood at 27 in three Tests while Ashwin’s haul was 32 scalps in four Tests. Ashwin took his third fifer in the series on Saturday.

“I thought on this pitch – unlike the previous two pitches – you had to vary your pace a bit to get wickets,” said Patel after the match.

By the time the day meandered to an end and the shadows lengthened it was only the little-known Daniel Lawrence who was giving a tutorial to the other England players on how to play spin. After his 46 in the first innings, he made 50 — his half-century coming off 93 balls, in the second, trying to give England some consolation of making India bat again. With no support he failed.

England: 205 and 135 (Daniel Lawrence 50, Joe Root 30, R. Ashwin 5/47, Axar Patel 5/48); India: 365 (Rishabh Pant 101, Washington Sundar 96 not out, Rohit Sharma 49, Axar Patel 43, Ben Stokes 4/89, James Anderson 3/44)

Result: India won by an innings and 25 runs

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