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Tuesday,15-June-2021

International

You should never write off champions: Michael Hussey on Dhoni’s future

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Former Australia batsman Michael Hussey believes M.S. Dhoni is a champion cricketer and the ongoing forced break would provide him with an opportunity to introspect and see whether he wants to play again for the Indian team.

“I am obviously not an Indian selector but I don’t think you can discount MSD. You should never write off champions and champion players, and he has given so much to the country as a player and leader,” Hussey said during ‘HotSpot: The Cricket Podcast’ by Chetan Narula (sports journalist and broadcaster) and Deep Dasgupta (former Indian cricketer and broadcaster).

“He (Dhoni) still keeps himself in very good shape so as long as he keeps himself fit and healthy, and maybe this break is really helpful for him to rest and get a break especially from the physical side of things…because he has so much experience.

“It will take time to get his skills to the required level but not as long as other players who don’t know their game as well. He has a great understanding of his own game and the whole game in general. I am not worried from the skill perspective,” Hussey added.

Dhoni has been on a sabbatical since the 2019 World Cup where India lost to New Zealand in the semifinals under Virat Kohli’s leadership.

There has been a lot of talk whether the wicketkeeper batsman will return to the Indian team or not with the T20 World Cup, to be held later this year in Australia, now in doubt due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The only question is it is upto MSD himself really. Whether he is willing to be physically and mentally fully engaged to play for the country at the international level, then I have no doubt he can still do it. But does he want to do it?” asked Hussey.

“Maybe this forced break for MSD will give him an opportunity to mentally refresh (in that regard) and get that hunger to want to do it again (for India). I am not writing him off no question whatsoever, but I think it is upto him, and in his mind, in his heart, whether he still wants to do it (at the international level),” he added.

He was scheduled to lead Chennai Super Kings in the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League which currently stands indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

International

Indian team winds up its match simulation, out of quarantine

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The Indian cricket team ended its three-day match simulation on Sunday ahead of the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand with the likes of Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal among others getting a chance to bat.

“The third day of intra-squad match simulation was about settling down & finding that rhythm. [emoticon: thumbs-up twice] #TeamIndia,” tweeted the Board of Control for Cricket in India along with a brief video recapping the day’s play.

The third day saw Hanuma Vihari and Shubman Gill opening the innings with the former, who had a terrible outing with Warwickshire county this season, shown glancing the ball.

All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is shown playing a cover-drive, Rohit a cut off the back-foot and Rahane flicking the ball. Coach Ravi Shastri is seen watching the proceedings from the dressing room balcony.

The Indian team came out of its mandatory 10-day quarantine on Monday and will gear up for the WTC final which begins on June 18. The players had reached Southampton on June 3.

The New Zealand squad, after its 1-0 series win over host England, will reach Southampton from Birmingham on Monday afternoon.

The WTC final will be the first Test match India will play at a neutral venue.

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Williamson likely to be fit for WTC final vs all-round India: Tom Latham

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New Zealand opener Tom Latham has said that captain Kane Williamson and wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling are recovering well and is confident the duo will be available for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against India from June 18 at the Hampshire Bowl.

“They are recovering reasonably well. It was important for them to get a bit of rest and be fully fit heading into the next week, so I am sure they will go through the fitness testing protocol over the next day or two in order for them to be ready to go for the next week. Fingers crossed. We will have a fully fit squad,” said Latham, who stood in place of Williamson in the second Test against England at Birmingham which the Kiwis won.

New Zealand defeated England in the second Test by eight wickets on Sunday to clinch their first Test series win in England since 1999. They managed to do it with a side that missed many frontline players.

Apart from Williamson and Watling, the Kiwis missed pace bowlers Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson who were both rested.

However, Matt Henry stepped up to the plate and took the Kiwis to victory. Batsman Will Young, who replaced Williamson, too scored runs.

Latham attributed it to the fact that the New Zealand isn’t reliant on any one player’s performance.

“We don’t necessarily rely on one or two guys. I think it is a complete team performance, guys in different situations, different guys stood up in different times and lot of the guys have been in this group for a long time now, they haven’t necessarily played as much as they would have liked,” Latham told media after beating England.

“But being around the group and travelling around the world has certainly held them in good stead and for the guys to come in and play really well, put great team performance necessary,” added the New Zealand captain.

Latham said that India are a very good all-round side and they will have to be at their best against them in the WTC final.

“[Threat from India] will be all round the board really. They have a fantastic set of bowlers, lot of quality batsmen that has scored runs in different conditions around the world. They were here a few years ago and played really well so you know we have to play really well to beat them but our focus will shift to them in a couple of days and even though the preparations have not been great over the last two weeks you know it is important shift our focus to playing completely different side,” added Latham.

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Get set, play late to score in England: Ajinkya Rahane

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India Test team vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has said that batsmen need to get set and play late to score runs in England.

India play the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand from June 18 here at the Hampshire Bowl and a five-Test series against England in August-September.

“You say as a batsman you always like challenging situations and conditions. England is a place where if you are set, it (the pitch) becomes very good for batting. I have always believed that the more close you play, the later you play, the better it is for you,” said Rahane in a video posted by bcci.tv.

“One more thing I feel is that as a batsman you are never set. Even on 70-80 you are never set. One ball and there is a chance you will get out,” he added.

The 33-year-old Rahane, who is India’s top run-getter in WTC with 1,095 runs in 17 Tests, said reaching the final wasn’t easy and the team had to perform as a unit.

“We have played cricket consistently for two years as a team and the result we have is that we are in the final. It wasn’t easy. Because you know in every match, you have to give off your best,” said Rahane.

“Overall, [in] the cricket we have played since the WTC began in West Indies (in 2019) from then till now, we have performed as a unit. Yes, this is an important match, but as team we will take this as just another game. We have done great preparation. I am excited but this is just another game… whatever result we have, we will have to accept it,” he added.

Rahane termed leading the India team in Australia as one of the proudest moments for him.

“Leading the country in Australia was the proudest moment for me. When you become captain, lead the team, that gives you a different feeling and after that the way we won the series in Australia especially after losing the first Test [was the biggest moment for me],” he said.

“That was the biggest series win for us in our history. Personally, I am really happy with the way we played in Australia and overall in the last two weeks. Right now, it is about this game and giving off our best.”

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