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Sunday,19-September-2021

National

Virat Kohli’s India team not a patch on Windies, Australia at peak

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Current Indian team’s back-to-back Test series wins in Australia has led to its comparison with world-conquering West Indian and Australian teams of past even though Virat Kohli’s men are yet to prove themselves dominant on foreign soil.

Apart from the fact that they are yet to win a Test series in South Africa, New Zealand and England, where they suffered humiliating series loss in 2018, India won series in Australia in 2018-19 and 2020-21 only after close contests. Those wins can’t be termed one-sided like the wins scored by West Indies of 1980s and Australia of 1990s and 2000s.

While West Indies swept two series against England 5-0, in England in 1984 and in the Caribbean in 1985-86, they remained unbeaten between 1980 and 1985-86 in 10 out of 11 Test series with the 1981-82 series in Australia as the only draw (1-1).

They also hammered Australia twice during that phase — 3-0 win in 1983-84 at home and 3-1 win away from home in 1985-86. They also won a Test series 3-1 in Australia in 1988-89.

During the decade 1979-80 to 1988-89, West Indies played 20 series winning 14 and drawing five. Their only series loss came in New Zealand in 1979-80.

Earlier, in the 1970s, they won seven out of 14 series they played during the decade (1970-71 to 1979-80) and drew three series.
The Aussies of 1990s and early 2000s were dominant too.

In the 1990s, though Australia failed to score series wins in India, they were otherwise winning almost everywhere. Out the 31 Tests series they played from 1989-90 till 1999-00, the Aussies won 20 including a few overseas.

In 2000s (2000-01 to 2009-10), Australia played 35 series, winning 28 series in what is termed as the one of the most dominant phases of any team in history of Test cricket.

No wonder former India captain Sunil Gavaskar isn’t happy by the comparison. He says India won’t be able to dominate as the West Indians or the Aussies of the past did since they are inconsistent.

“I am not too sure they will be able to dominate like West Indies did. They were winning all five Test matches, even Australian were, winning four out of five. I am not too sure if this Indian team can do that because of the fact that while they are actually a supremely talented team, there are at times inconsistencies that you see,” said Gavaskar on The Cricket Analyst Show on YouTube.

He, however, said that this team can become unbeatable if it weeds out inconsistencies.

“That is the only thing that makes me hold my breath a little bit. But as far as the potential of this team is concerned, I think sky is the limit,” Gavaskar said.

National

RCB skipper Kohli finishes quarantine, joins team for first practice session

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 Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper Virat Kohli joined his team-mates for the first practice session here in Dubai early on Saturday morning after spending six days in quarantine on his return from England.

Kohli and pace bowler Mohammed Siraj had reached the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the second leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on September 12 on a charter flight from London arranged by the franchise. The duo had gone into six days of mandatory quarantine following their arrival.

RCB posted a three-minute video on Saturday morning and tweeted, “Bold Diaries: Virat Kohli joins the RCB team after quarantine — There were smiles, hugs and laughter in the RCB camp as captain Virat Kohli, Mohammed Siraj and some of our foreign players had their first hit in the nets. #PlayBold #WeAreChallengers #IPL2021.”

The video showed Kohli and several teammates, who completed their quarantine on Saturday, entering the training ground with their kit bags for an early-morning session and being greeted by fellow cricketers and the coaching staff, including South African stalwart AB de Viliers.

Kohli was later seen playing a few lofted cover drives.

Siraj said in the video that, “All the batsmen look in great form. It’s a good thing for the team that (Glenn Maxwell), Virat bhai and AB (de Villiers) sir are all in good form.”

RCB’s director of cricket operations, New Zealand’s Mike Hesson, said that, “It’s always good to be face to face rather than discussing strategy (with the skipper) from a distance. It (six days of quarantine) gave him (Virat) a chance to freshen up. Now working on ensuring we are all on the same page.”

On Siraj, Hesson said, “He has got more and more confident over the last two seasons. Obviously, he has done well for India (in the Test series against England). He is aware of what he wants to do and therefore he shows more confidence.”

RCB will play their opening match of the second leg in Dubai against Kolkata Knight Riders on September 20.

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Coach Shastri hints that he might step down after T20 World Cup

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 Indian cricket team coach Ravi Shastri has given a big hint that he is likely to step down from the hot seat after the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman when he said that “I believe one thing — never overstay your welcome.”

Shastri, who was squarely criticised for launching his new book in London and spreading the Covid-19 virus among the support staff two days before the fourth Test at The Oval, said on Saturday, “I believe so because I’ve achieved all I wanted,” when asked whether the ICC T20 World Cup would be his last outing with Team India as chief coach.

“Five years as No 1 (in Test cricket), to win in Australia twice, to win in England. I spoke to Michael Atherton earlier this summer and said: ‘For me, this is the ultimate — to beat Australia in Australia and win in England in Covid times.’ We lead England 2-1 and the way we played at Lord’s and the Oval was special,” Shastri told The Guardian.

“We’ve also beaten every country in the world in their own backyard in white-ball cricket. If we win the (T20) World Cup that will be the icing on the cake. There is nothing more. I believe one thing –never overstay your welcome. And I would say that, in terms of what I wanted to get out of the side, I’ve over-achieved. To beat Australia away and to lead the series in England in a Covid year? It is the most satisfying moment of my four decades in cricket,” said Shastri.

Within days of the book-launch function, where no masks were worn, Shastri had tested Covid-positive and went into isolation along with four members of his support staff. And when assistant physio Yogesh Parmar too tested positive, the players became anxious and finally the fifth and final Test in Manchester had to be called off.

“It was funny because in my 10 days I didn’t have a single symptom barring a little sore throat. I never had any temperature and my oxygen level was 99% all the time. I didn’t take any medication through 10 days of my isolation, not a single paracetamol. I tell the guys: ‘Once you’re double jabbed, it’s a bloody 10-day flu. That’s it,'” said Shastri.

On whether he discussed the emerging situation with players, Shastri replied, “No. I didn’t know who had got it (Covid-19). I didn’t know (the physio) got it suddenly and tested positive. He physically treated five or six players. I think that’s where the issue started. We were aware that the incubation period meant that someone might get it in the middle (of the Test). A lot of players had their families there. So it became a situation where you don’t know what that player is thinking. He’s got a young kid, you know, he’s got to think of them. It was a little, I would say, touchy.”

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I am being made a scapegoat for the cancelled Test: Shastri

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 Indian cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri has said that he was being made a scapegoat for the cancelled fifth Test against England at Manchester after he and three other members of the support staff tested positive for Covid-19 days after they attended a book-launch function in London.

The Virat Kohli-led side was on the threshold of creating history in the Manchester Test after beating England at The Oval in London. However, Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physiotherapist Nitin Patel tested Covid-19 positive after their RT-PCR confirmed the infection during The Oval Test.

A day before the start of the fifth Test, the second physiotherapist, Yogesh Parmar, too tested positive for the virus, which made the Indian cricketers anxious and led to the cancellation of the match.

However, Shastri said that he was getting flak for no fault of his.

“They tried to make it that way (make a scapegoat) but I wasn’t worried because incubation probably takes weeks. There were about 250 people there (for the book launch function) and no-one got Covid from that party. I’ve not got it at my book launch because it was on the 31st (August) and I tested positive on 3 September. It can’t happen in three days. I think I got it in Leeds. England opened up on 19 July and suddenly the hotels were back, lifts were back. No restrictions,” Shastri told ‘The Guardian’ on Saturday.

On whether he regrets going for the book launch, Shastri said, “I have absolutely no regrets because the people I met at that function were fabulous. And it was good for the boys to get out and meet different people rather than constantly being in their rooms. At the Oval Test, you were climbing stairs used by 5,000 people. So to point a finger at a book launch?”

The coach categorically said that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will not lose money on account of the cancelled fifth Test. The series was keenly poised with India leading 2-1 when the final Test was cancelled.

“The ECB have been outstanding and their relationship with Indian cricket is tremendous. People are talking about the money but I can guarantee the ECB will make that entire amount with interest. I don’t know if it’s a stand-alone Test next year or they give them an extra two T20 games, but the ECB will not lose a penny because of the relationship that exists. In 2008 when we had the [terrorist] blast in Mumbai, England came back and played the Test. We don’t forget that,” averred Shastri.

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