Tests got their mojo back: In the absence of India-Pakistan cricket, contests with Australia have acquired dramatic importance

It’s been a week since India beat Australia in the final Test at Dharamshala but the excitement still lingers. I’ve been jogging my memory ceaselessly and can’t think of many series as competitive and pulsating, climaxing in the most enthralling Indian season ever.

With 10 wins from 13 Tests (and only one defeat) against four different opponents, this has easily been India’s best performance at home. Impressive as this seems, it is the sheer quality of cricket played by Virat Kohli and Co that was riveting.

True, playing on home pitches is an advantage. But this can easily be squandered by complacency, cockiness or – especially in a long season – dwindling consistency. There is also the flip side to playing at home, often disregarded, which is the pressure of expectation. Former Australia captain Steve Waugh said somewhere recently that he always preferred overseas tours as the distractions were far lesser. Where the Indian team is concerned, pressure from fans is manifold, given the manic following for cricket.

In any case, home support and friendly pitches are no guarantee to success: In the last full home season in 2012-13, for instance, England won 2-1 after losing the first Test. Lose focus, lose series.

There were also other challenges confronting the Indian team. For instance, the entire season was played against the backdrop of the turmoil in BCCI vis-à-vis the Justice Lodha panel recommendations. To believe that players are inured from fractious off-field developments is a one-dimensional view of how sport is played. They do feel the tugs and pulls of controversies. The effort to blank such things from the mind can be daunting.

Through all this, India played with admirable focus. That talent in Indian cricket is deep and widespread – despite misgivings about how the sport is administered in the country – was evident from how even newbies and rookies rose to the occasion.

Collectively, this effort played out a superb script as the season wore on. The team enhanced its lead at the top of the ICC rankings in great style, and in the process gave Test cricket in India the kiss of life.

The challenge of winning overseas looms now, as captain Virat Kohli admitted. India’s record in away Tests over the last decade-odd is dismal but this season gave hope that things might be changing.

Players like KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja and Umesh Yadav appear to have come of age in the five-day format. Yadav’s success in particular is most encouraging as India have lacked a wicket-taking fast bowler since Zaheer Khan’s heydays. Yadav, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and a fully fit Mohammed Shami make a daunting pace quartet. It is reasonable to believe too that Ashwin and Jadeja have gained from experience and will be more effective overseas now.

Essentially, though, it is about the changed mindset of players. There is a chutzpah, positivity and optimism that separate this team from any in the past. This seems derived from the personality of the captain. Kohli’s energy, passion and desire to win is infectious. He has been able to instil intensity of performance, sustained aggression and an unrelenting quest for success which works even in his absence as evidenced.

This captured the imagination of cricket fans even as opponents were vanquished. Crowds for all 13 Tests, if not quite like in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, were huge by contemporary standards. Dwindling spectatorship for Tests in recent years in India was contrasted by the phenomenal success of the Indian Premier League in the last decade. This season showed that the five-day format’s appeal is still intact.

The charm of the five-day format remains unparalleled when teams play skilfully, hard and uncompromisingly as witnessed in the series against Australia, without doubt the high point of the season.

The obvious comparison is with the 2001 series, also against Australia. India had come from behind then too to win the rubber, immortalised by the magical turnaround effected by VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Harbhajan Singh in the second Test in Kolkata. The calibre of the Australian side in 2001 was much higher of course. The Aussies were world champions then and boasted several stellar players. Steve Smith, on the other hand, led a young team with a wobbly track record and must be lauded for running India so close.

In the absence of India-Pakistan cricket ties, India’s contests with Australia have acquired an importance that is invaluable for the game, and a competitive edge that provokes bitter, high-strung contests. Inevitably, this will throw up volatile situations every now and then. But if these are managed competently by authority and players themselves, the problem can easily be defused without compromising on the intensity of cricket played.

I believe ICC match referee Chris Broad erred in not even reprimanding Smith for his self-confessed ‘brain fade’ moment in the second Test. This stoked acrimony between the two teams, fuelled further by some ill-conceived remarks from Cricket Australia and BCCI.

Happily, it all ended well. Smith was contrite in his post-series statements, accepting that he had let emotions ‘slip’ a bit in the series. Kohli, after impetuously ‘unfriending’ the Aussies, clarified that this was not directed against them all, only ‘one or two’.

The ethos of competitive sport is one-upmanship, no quarter given or asked. But this should not extend to bitter aftertaste. Grace in defeat and magnanimity in victory may be old world virtues but enhance sport, as they do life.
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Fresh hunt for Tasmanian tiger, 80 years after ‘extinction’

Dog-like, with stripes. Thinkstock Dog-like, with stripes. Thinkstock

The thylacine, better known as the Tasmanian tiger, has been officially extinct for 80 years. Now, reported sightings have set Australian scientists on a fresh search for the animal.

Although native to Tasmania, the thylacine was not really a tiger but a carnivorous marsupial. The last confirmed report of a sighting in Tasmania was in 1930, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the last captive animal died in 1936. A post on the IUCN website says the thylacine was driven to extinction primarily by direct persecution, but habitat loss, competition with domestic dogs and disease all played a role.

The newly reported sightings have taken place in mainland Australia: in Queensland. The field survey, undertaken by James Cook University, will be led by Dr Sandra Abell, using more than 50 high-tech “camera traps” to survey prospective sites, according to a post on the university website.

The post describes co-investigator Professor Bill Laurance’s discussions with two people in north Queensland who have “provided plausible and detailed descriptions of animals that could potentially be thylacines”. “One of those observers was a long-time employee of the Queensland National Parks Service, and the other was a frequent camper and outdoorsman in north Queensland,” Professor Laurance is quoted as saying.

The thylacine had the general appearance of a large dog, except for its stiff tail and abdominal pouch. Dark stripes that radiated from the top of its back, similar to those of a tiger, led to its unofficial name. It is believed to have been a shy, nocturnal creature, its extinction hastened by the arrival of European settlers.

In mainland Australia, the thylacine is believed to have been near-extinct for centuries. In Tasmania, the last captive thylacine died in Hobart zoo three years after its capture in 1933. Photos and videos of this last known specimen, named “Benjamin” but possibly female according to some suggestions, are in wide circulation on the internet.

Several sightings have been reported over the years but none was conclusively proven. Now, scientists find the newly reported sightings “plausible”. “We have cross-checked the descriptions we received of eyeshine colour, body size and shape, animal behaviour, and other attributes, and these are inconsistent with known attributes of other large-bodied species in north Queensland such as dingoes, wild dogs or feral pigs,” Professor Laurance says on the James Cook University website.

National Geographic Australia quotes one of those who reported a sighting. “These animals, I’ve never seen anything like them before in my life. They were dog-shaped… and in the spotlight, I could see they were tan in colour, and they had stripes on their sides,” former tourism operator Brian Hobbs told the magazine.

“Can it be true?” tweeted Richard Dawkins, the English ethologist and popular science author. “Has Thylacinus been seen alive? And in mainland Australia not Tasmania? I so want it to be true.”

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/technology/science/fresh-hunt-for-tasmanian-tiger-80-yrs-after-extinction-4596912/

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to discuss security during Australia visit

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, above. Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, above.

Afghanistan’s President is to discuss security and female empowerment during a meeting with Australia’s prime minister.

Ashraf Ghani arrived in the Australian capital, Canberra, late on Sunday on the first Australian visit by an Afghan president.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement the visit reflected a strong bond between the two countries. He says security and female empowerment will be discussed on Monday.

Ghani will meet Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and lay a wreath at the Australian War Memorial before he meets with Turnbull.

Australia lost 41 troops in Afghanistan following the US-led invasion in 2001.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/world/afghan-president-ashraf-ghani-to-discuss-security-during-australia-visit-4597099/

Umesh Yadav could play in KKR’s first home game

Umesh Yadav took 17 wickets in four Tests against Australia, which India won 2-1. (Source: BCCI) Umesh Yadav took 17 wickets in four Tests against Australia, which India won 2-1. (Source: BCCI)

Fast bowler Umesh Yadav could play in Kolkata Knight Riders’ first home game against Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League 10, according to CEO Venky Mysore.

KKR take on Kings XI Punjab on April 13 here after playing Gujarat Lions (April 7) and Mumbai Indians (April 9) away.

There were reports that Umesh might skip the first phase of the cash-rich league.

Mysore had tweeted, “Hearty congrats @y_umesh. Exceptional perf 4 #TeamIndia. Enjoy the well deserved break. C u in Kol fresh & recharged on April 10! @KKRiders.”

Hearty congrats @y_umesh. Exceptional perf 4 #TeamIndia. Enjoy the well deserved break. C u in Kol fresh & recharged on April 10! @KKRiders — Venky Mysore (@VenkyMysore) 1 April 2017

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When asked about the pacer’s availability in the first home game, Mysore responded in the positive.

Umesh took 17 wickets in four Tests against Australia, which India won 2-1.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/ipl-2017-10/umesh-yadav-could-play-in-kkrs-first-home-game-4596090/

Study abroad: Five steps to pursue a course in Australia

Choosing to study in Australia is just one step in a long process to actually get there. (source: Thinkstock) Choosing to study in Australia is just one step in a long process to actually get there. (source: Thinkstock)

One of the major destinations for Indian students studying abroad is Australia which offers 22,000 courses across 1,100 institutes. Choosing to study in Australia is just one step in a long process to actually get there.

For those who want to pursue their dream courses in this country, here are some steps you can follow:

1. Pick a course:

There were 51,809 Indian students studying in Australia as on March 2016. Among the most popular courses offered, Business and Finance, Hospitality and STEM receive the maximum number of applicants.

The business and finance courses popularly pursued include bachelors in Business, Business Administration, International Business, Aviation Management, Business Economics, Business and Commerce, Business and Information System, Exercise and Sport Science, Business- Information Technology, Accounting and Finance, Finance/Industrial Banking and Actuarial Studies and Commerce.

In hospitality, you can pick between bachelors in Hospitality Management, Business-Hospitality and Tourism and International Tourism and Hotel Management.

The most popular STEM courses are bachelor of Biomedical Science, Biotechnology, Mechanical Engineering Honours, Civil Engineering Honours, Games Development, Nursing, Microbiology and Social work.

Lastly, you can choose among the undergraduate diploma courses in Accounting, Automotive Management, Design Visual Communication, Hotel Management, Basic Cuisine and Basic Pastry, Fitness, Aviation and Automotive Management.

Read | Study abroad: Check out these five unique courses

2. Pick a University:

Search for the universities in Australia that offer the courses of your choice. According to the World University Ranking by Times Higher Education, the best universities in Australia are University of Melbourne, Australian National University, University of Sydney, University of Queensland and Monash University.

The eligibility and requirements vary from one university to the other and from one course to another. (source: Thinkstock) The eligibility and requirements vary from one university to the other and from one course to another. (source: Thinkstock)

3. Check your eligibility:

How do you find out if you are eligible for the course. The eligibility and requirements vary from one university to the other and from one course to another. There are, however, some common prerequisites when you apply to a university.

This includes the English language proficiency test like IELTS, TOEFL, PTE and CAE the minimum score for which depends on the university. Some business schools tend to accept students based on their score in the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) while for other courses, there may be specific aptitude tests which you will need to pass.

Additionally, you will be also judged based on your academic scores. While most universities ask for a score of at least 60 per cent, others require 80 per cent. Even with a low percentage, there are still ways to get into a university.

Read | Study abroad: 10 courses that can fetch you hefty packages

4. Apply!

Now that you are eligible for the course, you can go ahead and apply for it. (souce: Thinkstock) Now that you are eligible for the course, you can go ahead and apply for it. (souce: Thinkstock)

Now that you are eligible for the course, you can go ahead and apply for it. This can either be done through a registered education agent or directly through the university’s website. If the university accepts your application, you will receive a Letter of Offer and an electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE). Once these confirmations are made, you can apply for your student visa.

To be granted the Student Visa, the Australian Government has listed out the following eligibility criteria:

– Applicants must take English language proficiency test such as IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic, and Cambridge Advanced English (CAE).

– Applicants should have sufficient finance reflected on her/his account, enough to cover travel expense (AUD1,000), Course fee and 12 months’ living cost (i.e. student/guardian AUD 19,830; partner/spouse AUD 6,940; child AUD 2,970).

– Applicants are obliged to purchase Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

Remember, if you are planning to study in Australia, you will need to start preparing for it at least 9 to 12 months prior to the university intake deadline. In that time, you can take the standard tests required to get you there. Do not wait for the application deadline as Visa approval takes up to 6 to 12 weeks, and there are times when it can get late leading to your application getting deferred.

Read | Top 10 universities in the world

5. Research:

If you are going to go to study in Australia, you should know the rules and the way of life there. Visit the websites of “Indians in Australia” (www.hcindia-au.org) and the website of the Australian High Commission/Consulates General in India (www.india.embassy.gov.au) to learn about the Indian community in Australia, Guidelines for studying in Australia and other useful information.

To learn about the other international students studying in the country, go to the “Study in Australia” website (studyinaustralia.gov.au). Here, you will also find information about scholarships and funds.

If you are confused about your application for student visa, General Skilled Migration programme and Permanent Residency in Australia, you can find detailed information about the same from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (www.immi.gov.au).

You can also research on what you wish to do after the completion of the course. Australia offers a high remuneration to its fresh graduates. Additionally, its federal minimum wage is also among the highest in the world. The average starting salary for graduate (bachelors) students in their first full-time employment is AUD 54,000, for STEM graduates is AUD 80,000, for Economics, Business, and Hospitality graduates is AUD 50,000 to AUD 53,000 and Finance and Accounting graduates earn up to AUD 50,000.

For more stories on studying abroad, click here

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Power-hitting coach Wood to assist Australia for CT preparations

PLANNING AHEAD

Power-hitting coach Wood to assist Australia for CT preparations

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Fri, 31 Mar, 2017, 03:21 PM

Darren Lehmann-led coaching staff will be assisted by Julian Wood, whose power-hitting expertise will come in handy © Getty

As revealed by Cricbuzz in February, former Hampshire batsman Julian Wood has been hired to help with Australia’s preparations ahead of this summer’s Champions Trophy.

Wood is now a specialist batting coach who focuses on power hitting and has previously worked with a number of counties including Middlesex, Gloucestershire and Hampshire as well as the England squad. He will attend a ten-day training camp in Australia in May and work as part of Darren Lehmann’s coaching staff.

Wood has pioneered his Power Hitting system which uses both overload and underload training. His techniques include using weighted balls, heavy and light bats and bungee ropes and progress is measured to work out a player’s power transfer ratio all with the aim of getting a player to hit the ball harder, further and more consistently.

“To strike a ball consistently hard you need to be able to develop good quick hand speed, a solid base with good balance and good clear access to the ball,” Wood, who has been the cricket professional at Bradfield College for the past twelve years, told Cricbuzz. “Proper mechanics are essential to learning to hit the ball consistently with authority.

“Power Hitting is just part of it. The modern day cricketer needs a power, touch and skill game. I not only look at the Power Hitting side of things but how to create angles to create placement which enables more power options. If the ball is delivered at 80mph, I want it to leave the bat at 100mph.

“Players will have areas where they hit the ball hard, hot zones, and areas where they’re not so good, cold zones. I work with players to make their hot zones as large as possible and turn cold zones into hot ones.”

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Source: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/93687/power-hitting-coach-wood-to-assist-australia-for-ct-preparations

ICC Test Rankings: KL Rahul jumps to 11th place; Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin top two bowlers

KL Rahul didn’t score a century in the Australia series but produced continuous runs. (Source: Reuters) KL Rahul didn’t score a century in the Australia series but produced continuous runs. (Source: Reuters)

India opener Lokesh Rahul, who hit two half-centuries in the deciding Dharamsala Test against Australia, on Thursday jumped 11 places to a career-high rank of 11th in the latest ICC chart for Test batsmen. The 24-year-old Karnataka batsman had started the series in the 57th position and has gained 46 places over four Tests following scores of 64, 10, 90, 51, 67, 60 and 51 not out. Rahul is now India’s third highest ranked batsman after Cheteshwar Pujara (4) and Virat Kohli (5), who lost two and one place respectively. Rahul is ahead of Ajinkya Rahane (14th, up by three places) and Murali Vijay (34th, down by four places).

In the bowling table, spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin have retained the top two bowling spots, while paceman Umesh Yadav has claimed a career-high 21st position following his player of the match performance in the fourth Test. Yadav took two for 69 and three for 29 in the match, earning him a rise of five places.

In the all-rounders’ list, Jadeja replaced Ahwin in the second position to be behind top-ranked Bangladeshi Shakib Al Hasan. Jadeja took four wickets and scored 63 runs in Dharamsala to walk away with the player of the series award.

Australia captain Steve Smith has successfully defended his number-one position and is currently 61 points ahead of his New Zealand opposite number, Kane Williamson, who has moved up two places to second following his 176 in the Hamilton Test. Smith had entered the series against India, leading Kohli by 38 points, and finished as the most successful batsman with 499 runs in eight innings.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/icc-test-rankings-kl-rahul-jumps-to-11th-place-ravindra-jadeja-r-ashwin-top-two-bowlers-4592519/

India’s DRS report card: A work in progress

STATS WRAP

India’s DRS report card: A work in progress

Deepu Narayanan • Last updated on Wed, 29 Mar, 2017, 03:21 PM

Only 10 decisions were overturned out of the 51 referrals made by India while fielding in this home season. © AFP

A statistical look at how India fared with the use of DRS technology in their inaugural season:

139 Number of DRS referrals made in ten Test matches in its trial season in India. 73 of these referrals were made by India and 66 by the opposition teams – 31 by England, 28 by Australia and seven by Bangladesh.

87 Referrals made by the fielding captains out of the 139 reviews, 49 of these were by Virat Kohli. Out of the 52 reviews by batsmen, 22 were by India, 13 each by England and Australia and four by Bangladesh.

10 Number of decisions overturned out of the 51 referrals made by India while fielding. One of the review was off a no-ball while the remaining 40 off them were struck down. Australia and England got four overturned each out of 15 and 18 referrals respectively while Bangladesh got all three of theirs wrong.

4 Test matches out of 10, where India failed to get even one on-field decision reversed while fielding. In the first two Tests against Australia, India made eight reviews while fielding and got all eight struck down.

Haseeb Hameed became the first batsmen to be given out in Test cricket on Indian soil with DRS in place. Hameed was given out leg before wicket off R Ashwin by Kumar Dharmasena in Rajkot and the review by batsman was struck down.

6 Referrals made by the fielding side while Wriddhiman Saha was the striker – the most against any batsman. Interestingly, all six of these referrals were struck down. Five each were made against Alastair Cook, Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Murali Vijay by the fielding side.

4 Referrals made Johnny Bairstow while batting – the most by any single batsman. Two of these were calls were reversed and two were struck down. Cook, Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Kohli, R Ashwin and Saha each challenged three of their dismissals.

19 Reviews made off the bowling off Ashwin – the most of any bowler by the fielding side. Five of these calls were reversed and 14 struck down. Out of the 14 struck down, 10 were for LBW decisions and only three among these were ‘Umpire’s Call’ on hitting stumps.

5 Reviews made with Cook batting and Ravindra Jadeja bowling – the most off any batsman-bowler combination. Three of these were made by India and two by Cook and all five occasions, the on-field umpire’s decision was upheld.

14.29 Percentage of decisions overturned of Kumar Dharmasena – the lowest among the 11 umpires who officiated this season. In the two Tests he officiated as on-field umpire, 14 of his decisions were challenged and only two were overturned.

33 Referrals made of Maurius Erasmus, the most of any umpire. Only seven of his 33 were reversed which gives him a success rate of 78.79%, only behind that of Dharmasena’s 85.21. Among the 11 umpires, Richard Kettleborough is the only one who had more decisions overturned than upheld – three to two, while Bruce Oxenford had an even rate of four to four.

21 Reviews in the Vizag Test between India and England – the most in a Test this home season. 15 of these referrals were struck down. The fewest referrals were made a Test earlier – nine in Rajkot – which, in fact, was the first time the technology was used on Indian soil.

90 Percentage of wrong referrals in the Dharamsala Test against Australia, the worst among the 10 Tests this season. Out of the 10 reviews, only one decision was overturned – a caught behind dismissal of Ravindra Jadeja off Pat Cummins.

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Lehmann lauds Smith the leader after spirited India show

COACH’S DELIGHT

Lehmann lauds Smith the leader after spirited India show

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Wed, 29 Mar, 2017, 07:41 PM

Even as Australia finished second best to India, Steve Smith was at his very best as a batsman as well as a leader © AFP

After a spirited performance in India, Australia coach Darren Lehmann wasn’t short of words to praise his skipper Steve Smith, who he felt rose to a different pedestal not just as a batsman but also as the leader of the pack. The four-match Test series in India was always going to be Australia’s sternest test, but the Smith-led side left everyone picking their jaws off the ground after a fighting display throughout.

They ran their hosts the closest, compared to all other touring sides during the India’s home season. India eventually won the series 2-1 to cap off a successful home season, Australia deserved a pat on the back for their resolute performance.

“He’s been brilliant. He’s been unbelievable. He’s been Bradman-like with the bat but all the stuff behind the scenes has been exceptional,” Lehmann said on Tuesday. “Really pleased for him and what he’s brought to the team as a leader. The way they’ve gone about it has been impressive.”

Not long ago, Australia were highly vulnerable after succumbing to an abysmal three-match series loss at the hands of Sri Lank. They returned home to another disappointing Test series defeat to South Africa. With the spotlight on Smith and Lehmann, Australia slowly but steadily managed to turn the tide in their favour, starting with a 3-0 cleansweep against Pakistan at home, before handing New Zealand the same treatment in the Chappell-Hadlee series.

For the tough Indian assignment, Australia needed to be at their very best. Despite finishing second best to the home side, Lehmann expressed his delight at the performance of his young squad.

“They’re young, they’ve been up against it, the pitches have been as we would expect. There’s a lot of learning in this group over this tour. They’re all hurting and disappointed for the result but I’m really pleased with the effort and the attitude at trying to change the way we play here. He’s led from the front, the captain. Three hundreds in four Test matches is pretty special,” Lehmann said.

Lehmann was all praise for his captain’s commitment, not just on the field but also off it. He also felt that his strength of character, especially during the tough times that he and the side had to endure on the face of the DRS controversy during the Bengaluru Test, was laudable.

“They have been excellent. There have been difficult conditions there is no doubt about it. They haven’t whinged once, they’ve been just getting on with the game,” Lehmann said. “They’ve copped a lot from Indian media and that’s just the way it is over here. I’ve been pleased the way they have handled it.

“We have decided we are going a different way about the way we play. Obviously we’re less aggressive than we have been in the past. And I’m pleased with the way they have gone about it. The young group will grow. They will get better. We weren’t good enough in this series, there is no doubt about that. We missed big opportunities to win the series. But if they keep learning and keep growing and keep getting better, it is a group that can play a long time together. That’s the pleasing thing.”

The coach also believed that Smith had all the attributes to be in the company of the all-time best leaders that the country had produced, and his approach to be constantly involved with every aspect of the sport has helped him become so impactful. “Yeah I think so. He’s a cricket nuffie; loves the game. He’s passionate about the game, loves the game, loves his players.

“He helps support staff out. Behind the scenes, he’s into it every day, making sure everyone is okay. He’s a different leader to Michael [Clarke], to Ricky [Ponting], to [Mark] Taylor, to [Steve] Waugh. And he’s working out his own identity as a captain. Everyone is proud of him. So pleased with where he is going. He’ll just get better and better.”

Lehmann also refrained from comparing this side to Clarke’s team in respect to Ashes performance, and felt that this side is different from its predecessor. The approach towards the game and the constant urge to play as a cohesive group has been a great factor about this unit, and Lehmann believed that he too as a coach has changed his methods in recent times to stay relevant. Asked to ponder where this team was in relation to the side led by Clarke which won the Ashes four years ago, Lehmann said Smith’s men were building as a team, rather than looking to atone for a series of defeats to England. Australia had lost three Ashes series in a row up to that point.

“I don’t think the group is at that stage. That group back then was right at that stage. I mean, they copped a lot for a few years so they wanted to give some back. This group is just playing a game of cricket,” Lehmann said. “I have actually changed a bit in my ways as a coach. I’ve really enjoyed watching the way they go about it. So, for them, they have had to work out the way they want to play as a group and I think it has been brilliant.

“I think the other style was right for that group at the time but this group wants to play a different way and that’s okay as well. I think you have got to change as a coach, change as a captain, and players.

“They know they are going to cop different decisions and different pitches and different conditions wherever they play, and they are just trying to get better. My son loves watching the Australian cricket team and I hope everyone’s son does,” Lehmann said.

© Cricbuzz

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Source: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/93646/lehmann-lauds-smith-the-leader-after-spirited-india-show

Emergence of pacers, lower order contributions India’s biggest takeaways

INDIA’S SEASON REVIEW

Emergence of pacers, lower order contributions India’s biggest takeaways

Vishaal Loganathan • Last updated on Wed, 29 Mar, 2017, 03:27 PM

India have now won seven series on the trot and are on top of the Test rankings. © AFP

Two years ago, India were reeling at seventh spot in the ICC Rankings. They hadn’t played a Test at home for more than a year, and had just lost a series in Australia. They had just seen their captain step down and faced uncertainty. Virat Kohli was to take over, and there were questions marks over his temperament.

Two years hence, India sit pretty at the top of the ladder and have opened up a good lead. Kohli brought in a brand of cricket to the team that’s aggressive, ruthless and in your face. India ended their season with a series win over Australia to cap off one of their best phases in Test cricket. They have now won seven series on the trot, and currently hold the trophy over every other Test nation.

It’s an achievement few would have thought possible. But given India’s marathon home season, there was always a chance. In the just concluded season, India beat West Indies 2-0, blanked New Zealand 3-0, thumped England 4-0, saw off Bangladesh 1-0 and overcame Australia 2-1. A season of 17 Tests ended with 12 wins, four draws and 1 defeat. It saw them climb to top spot early, then lose it to Pakistan before wrenching it back and making it their own.

Anil Kumble had taken over just ahead of the season, and with his experience and purpose, he has forged together a group full of match-winners. The biggest positive for India will be that their core group has become big, and each one has the potential to change games and series. If before the start of the season, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin and R Jadeja were the pillars, the likes of Wriddhiman Saha, Cheteshwar Pujara, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami have become important cogs in the machine, too.

But now, firmly perched atop the rankings, India will have to show that they are indeed the number 1 side in the world by beating their opponents away from home. India are slated to tour Sri Lanka this year, while South Africa, England and Australia should follow soon after. If Kohli’s side are able to prove away from home, they will go down as one of the great sides of the modern era.

“We are very happy with No. 1 ranking in the world, but our main challenge begins now. If we can conquer the overseas season, that’s when you will see a broader smile on my face when I sit down for the press conference. To understand where we are placed and the kind of cricket we have played, and where we stand as individuals at the end of season, it makes me very happy as a captain,” Kohli said after their series win over Australia.

The emergence of the pacers will be one of India’s biggest takeaways – especially during this home stretch. Umesh has transformed into one of India’s key bowlers, wreaking havoc with the new ball and old, to always keep India in the game. In the past twelve months, Umesh has really stepped up his game, taking 35 wickets in 14 Tests. More than the numbers, it is the impact that he has had on the game that would be most pleasing to see for India.

Shami has already proved that he is India’s most skilful pacer, and should he manage to remain fit, India will have a potent pace attack for the long run. Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are good back up players to have too.

The coming of age of India’s allrounders and the batting contributions of the lower order will give India hope when they travel away. Saha has been a revelation this season, scoring three hundreds and averaging 46. Ashwin and Jadeja too have scored plenty of important runs, and will give India the confidence that they can do well overseas.

Kohli and Pujara have become the linchpins of the batting line-up, but KL Rahul and Murali Vijay have become key members, too. India’s only concern will be their number six and whether they should go in with six batters. Karun Nair has hit a triple hundred, but has done little else. Rohit Sharma missed most of the season through injury, while Shreyas Iyer has only been part of the Test squad once and didn’t play. India will hope to find themselves a reliable number six as soon as possible.

“I can sit down and be proud of what the guys have been able to achieve since then and different aspects have come up – lower-order contributions, spinners have been outstanding throughout, fast bowlers have been brilliant, the batsmen have stepped up on many occasions. Different people. Not just one or two guys, but everyone has contributed throughout the season. If you don’t have a team performance, you can’t be the No. 1 team in the world. As simple as that.

“If you want to win more Test games, you have to have complete team performances. It’s the main reason why we are sitting here as the No. 1 team in the world and we have quite a fair distance above the other teams. That makes me very proud as a captain and all the guys in the change room are very happy with what they have been able to achieve and ending the season on a high,” Kohli said, while summing up the season.

It has been a season to remember for India, not only because of the results, but also thanks to the kind of quality cricket they put on display. There’s a tougher phase ahead for Virat Kohli and Anil Kumble, and what they do will become this team’s defining moment.

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Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports

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