Venkatesh Prasad believes that this IPL will throw up an interesting situation when top cricketers share dressing rooms and gameplans but will be wary of revealing too much ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 in June. Prasad, India’s bowling coach, admitted that he is keen to pick the brains of his IPL team’s foreign players like Andrew Flintoff, Makhaya Ntini and Albie Morkel to strengthen India’s chances in England.
MS Dhoni has spoken variously about the uncertainty the third pace bowler has caused. He is also one of the few who has tended to empathise with an underperforming first-change bowler. Dhoni the wicketkeeper should know. For, the third pace bowler’s role is a bit like a wicketkeeper’s. More often than not he gets noticed for a 0 for 80 rather than a 2 for 50.
It had been 33 years since India won a Test match in New Zealand but the statistic was rendered obsolete after a six-wicket haul from Harbhajan Singh inspired a comprehensive 10-wicket victory at Seddon Park. Daniel Flynn led the defiance with 67 and Brendon McCullum hustled 84 as India eased off after tea. But though the innings defeat was avoided after a 76-run partnership with Iain O’Brien, India needed just 32 balls to knock off the 39 runs needed.
India’s selectors have picked their squads for the tour of New Zealand, with Dhawal Kulkarni, the Mumbai seamer, the surprise inclusion in the Test side. It caps an astonishing season for Kulkarni, who made his first-class debut six months ago and ended up the highest wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy. L Balaji makes a return to the Test squad less than two weeks after being recalled to the one-day side.
Yuvraj Singh is the top contender to replace Sourav Ganguly, who retired last month, in the Indian squad for the two-Test series against England, which will be picked in Chennai on Thursday afternoon. Gautam Gambhir, handed a one-Test ban by match referee Chris Broad for elbowing Australia’s Shane Watson during the Delhi Test, will return for the series, scheduled to start in Chennai on December 11.
With his side sealing the seven-match series 4-0, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian captain, has said the team will look to field the unused players in the squad for the upcoming games against England.
“You will see a few changes in the side in the next three matches. Some of the people who have not played in the series so far will play but we still look to win games,” he said. “Three more matches to come and we want to win those games.”
Oct 9-13, 2008
Start time 9.30am (0400 GMT)
All the talk of retirement and succession planning has hogged the limelight over the last few weeks, but thankfully the focus will switch to the cricket when India and Australia take the field in the first of four Tests, at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday. For both teams, the series is of massive importance: the Australians are in transition mode, and are searching for replacements who can adequately fill the huge voids left by Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist; the next month could be a pointer to just how well the team will fare in their absence. For the Indians, this series is the last time their five experienced stalwarts will all be playing together. With the Australians so inexperienced to these conditions - none of their specialist bowlers have bowled a ball in a Test in India - this is an excellent opportunity for India to sneak a series win after two successive losses against them.
Virender Sehwag on Saturday sought to scotch speculation about his abrupt return home midway through the Irani Trophy match in Vadodara, saying the reason for his early return was purely medical and had nothing to do with the Munaf Patel incident.
Sehwag, who was captaining Delhi in the Irani Trophy tie against Rest of India, returned home last night fuelling widespread speculation that all was not well in the Delhi Ranji Trophy squad.
Soon after he left for Delhi, rumours were rife that poor accommodation facilities and an on-field standoff with rival fast bowler Munaf Patel were the reasons behind his abrupt return.
Munaf Patel’s sustained spell of hostile fast bowling and a steadily-developing partnership between Rahul Dravid and S Badrinath put Rest of India well ahead of Delhi with three days to go. After Munaf mixed nagging reverse-swing with seam movement to help bowl Delhi out for 177, Dravid and Badrinath overcame the early loss of Wasim Jaffer to add an unbroken 55 that gave Rest of India a 174-run lead at stumps.
The Test side’s failures against Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan had slashed expectations about the one-day side exponentially, but on the night of August 27, when a huddle of men yelled and shrieked at the Premadasa Stadium, almost everyone clapped in appreciation. For India, this 3-2 triumph, sealed by the fabulous efforts of their medium-pacers and the reliable bat of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, came against the odds.