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Variety in Indian Bowling Arsenal Has Impresse…

Johannesburg: When a man with 1216 wickets in 316 first-class games says he is impressed by what the Indian bowlers have dished out in the current Test series between India and South Africa, you don’t argue. India might be trailing the three-game series 2-0, heading into the third Test at the Wanderers, but former South Africa pacer Allan Donald feels this Indian bowling unit has the variety it needs to pick 20 wickets and win the team games on foreign shores.

Nicknamed ‘White Lightening’, Donald has seen Indian bowlers tour South Africa through the years right from when the Proteas returned to international cricket. And while there have been sparks of brilliance from Indian bowlers in certain spells – Sreesanth’s spell of 5/40 in Johannesburg in the first Test in 2006 even landing India the opening game of the series – Donald feels that this unit has a lot of variety with each of the pacers complementing each other.

“I think the Indian bowlers are very close to their South African counterparts. Yes, in terms of pace, South African bowlers are ahead of India, but the Indians have variety. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma are all different from one another. Bhuvneshwar can move the ball in both ways, Umesh can hit the deck hard and Shami can get the ball to nip back in. South Africa are playing at home, but Indian bowlers are good. Patience is the key on South African wickets as you can’t be too short or too loose,” he told CricketNext.

The Indian bowlers have definitely shown that Donald is right in his assessment. While Bhuvneshwar Kumar has the second-best strike-rate after Lungi Ngidi at 30.0 with 6 wickets in the only game he played, Shami is the second-highest wicket-taker in the series so far behind Vernon Philander with 9 wickets in the two Test matches. In fact, South Africa’s star batsman and former skipper AB de Villiers has also said that he has been impressed by the Indian bowlers on this tour.

Donald gave batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar sleepless nights, especially on South African soil and the first Proteas bowler to pick 300 wickets says that current superstar and India skipper Virat Kohli has an impressive work ethic. Talking of bowling to the captain, Donald said that attack would be his weapon against the run-machine.

“Virat is an attacking player while Sachin would take his time. Kohli is aggressive by nature and if you want to get him, you have to attack him. You cannot dismiss Kohli by setting defensive fields or with a defensive mindset. If I would have to bowl to him, I would attack his stumps. That is the only way of getting him out. There are lot of batsman that are extremely talented or hardworking, but I have never seen so much dedication on the ground as from Kohli. He is a great example for young kids on how to keep at it and not give up,” the 51-year-old said.

Donald though is honest when he says that this South African team is hard to beat at home, especially with conditions suiting them. “There is lot of talent in this Indian side, but at home, South Africa is a very well placed team. India coming over here needed to adopt to the situations very quickly,” he said.

Sadly, that did not happen as the Indian batsmen failed to adapt to the conditions on offer in the Rainbow Nation after dominating games at home to become the No.1 ranked Test team. But Donald doesn’t feel that playing at home alone has given the team the success it has achieved in the last year.

“Yeah they have played a lot at home, but you also have to understand that they have a very talented team, which plays aggressive brand of cricket. They have a talented bunch of good stroke players and you cannot ignore that. But yes, South Africa has got a very good bowling attack and they have the bowling to pick 20 wickets and win games,” he signed off.

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New Zealand (From): Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson©, Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, Anaru Kitchen, Glenn Phillips(w), Tom Bruce, Mitchell Santner, Ben Wheeler, Seth Rance, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee

Pakistan (From): Fakhar Zaman, Umar Amin, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed(w/c), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Nawaz, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Aamer Yamin, Rumman Raees, Mohammad Amir

Watch | Virender Sehwag Speaks Exclusively to …

New Delhi: Legendary India cricketer and Kings XI Punjab team director Virender Sehwag spoke exclusively to Cricketnext ahead of the much-anticipated Indian Premier League Players’ auction, which is all set to take place on January 27, 28 in Bengaluru.

Sehwag spoke about various topics ranging from ‘who will be the highest paid player’, ‘who will be the best buy’, ‘how to use right to match card’ and on other things as well. Listen in to this exclusive chat with the ‘Sultan of Multan’.

England superstars Ben Stokes and Joe Root will be amongst the 16 marquee players up for grabs during the the IPL Players’ Auction, which is set to take place in Bengaluru on January 27 and 28. Current Indian superstars like R Ashwin, Gautam Gambhir, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane have also opted for the highest base price in the auction.

The IPL 2018 Player Auction list sees 16 marquee players from India and overseas, headlining the big pool of 578 players, that will go under the hammer. With 18 players retained, 182 slots are up for grabs.

With INR 2 crore as the highest reserve price, 36 players, including 13 Indians, have opted for the top bracket. Marquee Players R Ashwin, Gautam Gambhir, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Christopher Gayle, Ben Stokes, Kane Williamson, Glenn Maxwell, Joe Root, Mitchell Starc, Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Shakib Hasan – each priced at INR 2 crore – will set the tone as an intense battle is set to follow.

Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Yuzvendra Chahal and Karn Sharma have also set their base price at INR 2 crore and will hope to attract high bids as the eight franchises look to build their teams for the upcoming seasons.

A total of 62 capped Indians and 298 uncapped Indian cricketers will vie for the available slots with 182 capped overseas cricketers, 34 uncapped overseas players and 2 cricketers from Associate Nations.

Morgan Heaps Praise on Teammates After Series-…

Sydney: England skipper Eoin Morgan praised his team’s character after they defeated Australia by 16 runs to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match One-Day International (ODI) cricket series here on Sunday.

Jos Buttler’s 100 not out took England to 302/6 in 50 overs even as the hosts kept taking wickets at regular intervals. Chris Woakes remained unbeaten on 53 runs off 36 balls with five hits to the fence and two sixes.

The tourists then defended the total despite losing seamer Liam Plunkett to injury after just eight balls of his spell.

Australia could only manage to reach 286/6 despite half-centuries from Aaron Finch, Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis.

Woakes, Mark Wood and Adil Rashid claimed a couple of wickets each for England.

“I’m so proud of the guys today. The amount of character we showed again was awesome. To have one your quicks go down was a hammer blow. But I am so proud of the way the guys fought back with Joe (Root) bowling Liam’s overs and then the guys at the end were absolutely outstanding,” Morgan was quoted as saying by the International Cricket Council (ICC)’s website.

“I thought we fought really hard with the bat and the ball. Jos was probably the difference between the sides on a wicket that we thought was going to be fantastic to bat on and turned out to be a little bit two-paced. He paced his innings to perfection and really did take the responsibility on his shoulders and played anchor until the last three overs.

"That has probably been our best win as a group to date.”

Morgan said the target now is to win the series 5-0. “We are certainly going to be playing our strongest possible XI for both games so hopefully it is good enough to put in two winning performances,” he said.

4th Match: Thisara, Kusal Star as Sri Lanka Cr…

Dhaka: Thisara Perera starred with bat and ball as Sri Lanka ended their recent dismal run by beating Zimbabwe by five wickets in the tri-nation one-day international tournament in Dhaka on Sunday.

Perera claimed four wickets to lead an inspired Sri Lankan bowling attack that limited Zimbabwe to 198 all out before his unbeaten 39 helped the islanders to chase down their target in 44.5 overs.

Sri Lanka were in trouble at 145-5 before skipper Dinesh Chandimal (38 not out) and Perera put on an unbeaten 57-run stand for the sixth wicket.

Perera, who bats left-handed, sealed the win with a six to keep Sri Lanka’s tournament hopes alive after they lost against Zimbabwe and hosts Bangladesh.

Zimbabwe paceman Blessing Muzarabani claimed three wickets to rattle the Sri Lankan top-order after opener Kusal Perera’s dominating 49.

But the day belonged to Thisara Perera, who soon took the attack to the opposition with his 26-ball knock that was laced with a four and 3 sixes.

Chandimal, leading the side in place of injured Angelo Mathews, played the sheet anchor’s role to perfection during his 71-ball stay.

Earlier Perera ran through the Zimbabwe top-order, grabbing the most vital wicket of Brendan Taylor, who top-scored with 58 before his side were bowled out in 44 overs.

The 28-year old Perera, who bowls medium-pace, was ably supported by fellow paceman Nuwan Pradeep (3-28).

Left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan took two wickets before Pradeep wiped off the Zimbabwe tail including the prized wicket of skipper Graeme Cremer for 34.

The win kept Sri Lanka in the hunt for a spot in the final as they still have a game in hand against Bangladesh.

Zimbabwe, who beat Sri Lanka by 12 runs in their first match of the tournament, also can qualify for the final if they can beat the hosts in their next match on Tuesday.

Jos Buttler Serves Up Series Success for Engla…

Sydney: A scintillating century from Jos Buttler brought England a 16-run win and a one-day international series victory against Australia in Sydney on Sunday. The hosts, set 303 to win by England after winning the toss and electing to bowl, were always struggling in their chase and eventually managed only 286 for six.

The result gave England an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match ODI series, a remarkable turnaround after Australia had trounced the tourists 4-0 in the Ashes Tests. Australia’s hopes largely rested with Steve Smith (45) and Mitchell Marsh (55), but both were dismissed at a crucial stage of the chase, with Smith falling to a contentious low-down catch by Buttler off the bowling of Mark Wood (2-46).

Marcus Stoinis made a late attempt to lift Australia with a punishing 56, but England managed to hold on despite losing pacemen Liam Plunkett to a leg injury early in the Australian innings. Buttler, 27, was the only batsman from either team really to get to grips with a slightly slow pitch, and his late surge enabled England to reach a total which had seemed out of their reach until the final few overs.

Several English batsmen failed to capitalise on promising starts, but Buttler notched his fifth one-day international century from the last ball of the innings as England helped themselves to 38 off the final two overs. Buttler himself took 28 runs from the last 11 balls he faced. He faced 83 balls, hitting six fours and four sixes, in a dashing innings that gathered momentum in the last 10 overs.

Just as England appeared to be struggling against a full-strength Australian attack, Buttler found a willing ally in Chris Woakes late in the innings, the seamer making 53 from 36 balls in a match-winning partnership of 113 in 11.5 overs.

Australia recalled pacemen Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood for the match, the first time in the one-day series that the trio of Cummins, Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, who spearheaded the Ashes win, had been reunited.

The tactic appeared to be working until Buttler and Woakes came together and turned the match on its head. The English were aided by sloppy Australian fielding, with four missed catches and two botched run-out attempts. The easiest of the catches to go to grass was a howler by Cameron White, who failed to get a hand to a skied chance from Moeen Ali when he was on one.

Marsh was the unlucky bowler, but had his revenge a few minutes later when he bowled Ali for six, continuing the all-rounder’s wretched tour. Smith dropped Eoin Morgan (41) on 18 off spinner Adam Zampa, while Starc got his fingers to a tough caught-and-bowled chance.

Virat Kohli & Boys Start Training With an Eye …

Johannesburg: Back at the training ground after a couple of day’s rest, India coach Ravi Shastri was the first to walk to the square to have a look at the match wicket at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Sunday. Batting coach Sanjay Bangar followed soon after as the two were seen having a close discussion before they walked back towards the dugout. Interestingly, even as the boys walked into the ground, Shastri headed back to the pitch, this time with skipper Virat Kohli in toe.

Clearly, the wicket is playing on the mind of the players as they gear up to take on Faf du Plessis and his boys at the Wanderers in the third game of the three-Test series, starting on Wednesday. Du Plessis has promised a fast and bouncy welcome to the Indian boys and by the looks of it, curator Butuel Buthelezi is not willing to offend the Proteas skipper who made his displeasure known after Centurion curator Bryan Bloy failed to produce a fast and bouncy wicket.

(Image Credits: Cricketnext)

Coming to the training, it all started with a game of football – synonymous with the Indian team over the last decade. After that, while some of the boys did fielding drills under the watchful eyes of coach R Sridhar, the likes of KL Rahul, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara hit the nets with recently flown-in duo Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini marking their run-ups with new balls in hand.

While Thakur and Saini bowled in one nets, spin bowling duo of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were bowling in another and the middle net saw Bangar and Raghu giving throwdowns to the batsmen. As always, each batsmen took strike in the three nets by rotation.

Rahul was hit by one from Ishant Sharma that just nipped in sharply after pitching and kept low, to hit Rahul on the side of the left knee. While he did bat on after being treated by Patrick Farhart, he was seen wearing an ice pack on his knee post his session at the nets.

(Image Credits: Cricketnext)

After the first trio was done, it was the turn of Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Hardik Pandya to take strike. Interestingly, the trio was seen having a long conversation when Rahul, Vijay and Pujara were in the nets. They also batted at all the three nets by turn.

Once these three were happy with their time at the nets, it as the turn of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel to hit the batting crease. The trio was all this while working on their fielding skills. Dinesh Karthik was also there, having come in after Wriddhiman Saha had to fly back to India with a niggle.

(Image Credits: Cricketnext)

With the batsmen done, R Ashwin and DK hit the nets with Kohli padding up again for another session at the nets. He wasn’t happy as could be made out from his interaction with Shastri after the first session. Rahane followed him to the nets as the Test vice captain also had a double session. Rahane though took throwdowns second time round.

While the team looked pretty chilled out at the nets on Sunday as they trained for close to four hours with the players also indulging in light banter, things are definitely going to heat up further come Monday.

Sachin Tendulkar Lauds Team India for Winning …

New Delhi: Legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has lauded Team India for lifting their second Blind World Cup title on Saturday. India edged Pakistan by two wickets to successfully defend their title and become only the second team to win two world cups in the history of the game.

Sachin took to social media to laud the efforts of the team and his post read: “Jahan chah wahan raah… As they rightly say, Determination will get you through everything. A big salute to our entire team. Hearty congratulations on winning the #BlindCricketWorldCup. #TeamIndia”

Pakistan posted a commanding score of 308/8 in the designated 40 overs, after India won the toss and opted to bowl first. Riding on fifty from Badar Munir and Riasat Khan’s 48, Pakistan crossed the 300-run mark in the championship clash. Pakistan skipper Nisar Ali also chipped in with a handy 47.

However, the daunting target was made to look small as India chased down the target in the penultimate over of the innings, with two wickets left in their kitty as well.

Sunil Ramesh was the star of the day for India as he slammed a superb 93 to take the ‘Men In Blue’ over the line. Ramesh led the run chase as India overhauled the target with eight balls to spare to retain the trophy that they had won in 2014 after beating the same opponents at Cape Town, South Africa.

India struggled in the final stages of their run chase as Pakistan claimed three successive wickets to gain an upper hand over their arch-rivals. However, a wide delivery rolled on to the boundary and the pendulum swung back in India’s favour.

India had earlier beaten Pakistan on January 13 in the group stage as well, while the defending champions had thumped Bangladesh by seven wickets in the semi-final.

21st January 2000: Abdul Razzaq’s All-round Sh…

New Delhi: Pakistan has produced many great players who have taken the team to new heights. Back in the 2000s, the reason they were so successful was because every player contributed on the field. One such player who was always involved in the game was Abdul Razzaq. The all-rounder churned out performances that took his team out of trouble on many occasions.

In a match against India in the Carlton & United Series, Razzaq single-handedly took the game away from them with his all-round performance. While batting, the Pakistani player scored a brisk 57-ball 70 runs and then took 5/48 to take the game away from the Indians.

After batting first, Pakistan scored 262/7, and the Indian innings just folded 230. For India, Sachin Tendulkar top-scored with 93 runs, but that was not enough. As far as the series is concerned, Pakistan met Australia in the finals, and the latter went on to win the tournament.

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