Injuries, familiar problems stand between RCB and silverware

INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE, 2017

Injuries, familiar problems stand between RCB and silverware

MS Ramakrishnan • Last updated on Sun, 02 Apr, 2017, 09:57 PM

In Kohli and Rahul’s absence, AB de Villiers will have to shoulder much of the batting responsibility at the start of the season. © BCCI

Royal Challengers Bangalore are easily one of the most entertaining teams in the IPL. There’s a Virat Kohli-led enviable ensemble of batters on the field, well complemented by raucous supporters in the stands and millions on YouTube channel. It’s perfect… nearly. For, all that’s missing now, is silverware.

RCB’s batting unit has World Cup and World T20 winners, the No. 1 batsman of the format and even a proven IPL performer. And yet the team has failed to be crowned champions. But it’s also easy to see why they haven’t tasted glory – they’ve been a lopsided, batting-heavy line-up. Kohli left peers, opponents and every single pair of eyes on last year’s IPL, dumbstruck with his unmatched form with the bat. He amassed 973 runs, with four centuries, and single-handedly powered them to the final.

A brand, new edition of IPL, after a long home season, has opened a different, potentially debilitating challenges for RCB. Even their stronger batting suit will now have to be shouldered by different heads following injuries to Kohli and KL Rahul. The captain will be reassessed for participation after a couple of weeks while Rahul, behind only Kohli and de Villiers in the team’s batting charts last season, will give the whole season a miss.

The team were dealt a massive blow when Mitchell Starc – their most potent weapon in the bowling department – opted out of the tournament’s 2017 edition. This meant they had to go hammer and tongs at the auction for a top-class bowler. They showed that by going the distance with a whopping INR 12 crore bid in an intense four-way bidding war for England fast bowler Tymal Mills, who has earned the reputation of being a versatile fast bowler – a prerequisite for one plying his trade in T20s.

The team management seemed to have gone into the auction with a clear mindset, wanting to beef up their bowling battalion. The second most notable addition to the squad was Rajasthan’s left-arm seamer Aniket Choudhary, who was bought for INR 2 crore from a base price of 10 lakh. In fact, when the auctions were happening, Aniket, who bowls at a decent pace and swings the ball, was actually bowling to Virat Kohli in the nets to prepare India for the Starc test ahead of the four-match series against Australia.

RCB look a very good team on paper and with a lot of uncertainties over the reshuffling of squads for IPL-11 next year, they’d hope to give their 100 percent for the title this season, for it could be tough to assemble such a formidable unit.

One individual who’d desperate to perform well on the field is Chris Gayle, who had an average season in 2016. In fact, it was just the second season with RCB where Gayle did not record a triple-figure score, after 2014. He was no more a sure-shot selection in the playing XI despite his decorated T20 career, so much so that he was even left out of the eleven a few times last season. With Rahul ruled out, the need for Gayle to rekindle his best form becomes imperative.

The build up to IPL-10, however, has not been great for the left-hander, with quiet outings in the Bangladesh Premier League and the Pakistan Super League that followed. A good season is vital to Gayle’s future at RCB, especially with the aforementioned shuffling of squads in 2018.

Strengths

RCB’s batting line-up is undoubtedly the best in the tournament. Even with Kohli out for a couple of weeks at least, Gayle, AB de Villiers and Shane Watson should be able to pack enough in their punch to put bowling sides in trouble and turn games on their head.

Weaknesses

A no-brainer really. There is absolutely no doubt that accuracy with the ball, especially in the death overs, has been a major problem for RCB. Barring Starc, who could nail reverse-swinging yorkers at will, they haven’t managed to snap up any special talent. Their big-money buy Mills has the opportunity to rid RCB of their bowling woes.

Opportunities

Yuzvendra Chahal’s rise as a quality leg-spinner has been quite impressive with his RCB showing, so much so that he made the national selectors take note and even earned an India cap. This season, he plays a key role in their bowling plans and his consistency levels will be closely monitored.

Pawan Negi, their newest buy, had a forgettable outing last year after going for a massive bid of INR 8.5 crore from Delhi Daredevils in the 2016 auction. This time around, at RCB, he could well be named ahead of Iqbal Abdulla – their second-choice Indian spinner in 2016 – because of his potential to hit the ball long and clean.

Stuart Binny has not quite managed to be in the limelight at the international circuit since the emergence of Hardik Pandya. With RCB likely to have three front-line pacers, the Karnataka all-rounder gives them the extra medium-pace option with swing up front with the new ball, in addition to his big-hitting abilities with the bat. An excellent season could give him a great chance of knocking on the selectors’ doors once more, with India set to move out of their home comforts in the coming seasons.

Many eyes will be on Kedar Jadhav – the finisher. He gave India a lot of hope of fitting into the role in the middle-order during the ODIs against England and his ability to handle pressure situations is something the selectors would want to zoom in on during this season.

Threats

Yes, the Chinnaswamy stadium is a great place for fans to enjoy T20 cricket, but the bowlers are generally none-too-pleased. The reason, you ask? Short boundaries and a batsmen-friendly strip. No target is safe and the toss becomes far too vital. It is for this reason, the Chinnaswamy has never quite evolved into a fortress for the home side.

What the schedule holds

RCB would want to have a close eye on how they begin the season. Winning just two out of their first seven games put immense pressure on the team last year, although they won six games out of seven in the second half of the tournament and even managed a top-two finish.They have an even spread of home and away games and also finish off their two games against bogey team Sunrisers Hyderabad well in advance. They close out their season with two games and an away trip to Delhi. It is an itinerary that could have so easily been worse.

The team would be better served if the middle-order manages to stay in good touch through the league phase, should they progress beyond. Kohli and de Villiers batted out most of the overs last year – but the chances of the duo having such a dream season simultaneously yet again could be too much to ask for, even if the two are known to defy the law of averages and probabilities on a routine basis.

Ideal Starting XI: Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, AB de Villiers (stand-in captain), Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Kedar Jadhav, Stuart Binny, Pawan Negi/Iqbal Abdulla, Yuzvendra Chahal, Tymal Mills, Sreenath Arvind/Aniket Choudhary

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Playoff spot top priority for pace-heavy Daredevils

IPL 2017

Playoff spot top priority for pace-heavy Daredevils

Narbavie R • Last updated on Mon, 03 Apr, 2017, 08:29 AM

Zaheer will be leading Daredevils again this season. (Image credit – DD) © Media Release

Delhi Daredevils began their IPL journey in fine fashion by finishing in the top-four for the first two seasons. They went through a lull period in the next two before redeeming themselves in the fifth edition when they became the first team to finish the season top of the table twice. Post 2012, the slide began as they endured disappointing campaigns year after year for four successive seasons.

Chopping and changing are two words that are so synonymous with Daredevils as we have seen in recent times. With the team constantly failing to produce results, the owners have looked to shake things up in a massive way. After finishing at the bottom in 2013 and again in 2014, they managed to climb just one spot higher in 2015 despite recruiting Gary Kirsten as coach.

The rejig happened again and this time Daredevils chose a slightly different path and opted to bank on a lot of young Indian talent to do the job. And to bring the best out of them, the combo of Paddy Upton and Rahul Dravid were drafted into the coaching set up with Kirsten getting the axe. Those two were expected to do something similar to what they did with Rajasthan Royals. Captaincy switched hands from JP Duminy to Zaheer Khan as the think-tank opted for an experienced Indian skipper. They made some smart buys as well in the auction by recruiting Sanju Samson, Rishabh Pant, Karun Nair alongside Carlos Brathwaite and Chris Morris.

Following so many changes in personnel, the unit finally clicked with the veteran pacer leading them with aplomb. Zaheer received plaudits for his excellent field placements and rotation of bowlers as the Daredevils won five out of their first seven games. They were primed to make it to the playoffs finally after four years but what followed suit was something they wouldn’t have anticipated.

Over the next four games, they kept tinkering with their combination and made at least three or four changes to their XI almost every game and that disrupted their momentum. Their policy to keep chopping in order to manage the workload of certain players failed to materialise. Brathwaite was left out of the XI for the very next game after his Man of the Match exploits against Kolkata Knight Riders (34 off 11; 3-47) stunned fans and experts alike. In the end, they put themselves in a spot of bother and failed to qualify for the knockouts, finishing sixth. It will be interesting to see if they employ a similar strategy this time around or bank on a settled lineup for the majority of the games. Daredevils will have to figure out a way to enter the playoffs again after four successive failed attempts. And once they reach that stage, anything can happen.

Strengths

They have plenty of variety and reliable personnel to call upon in the bowling department. Daredevils’ attack boasts of two young overseas bowlers who can bowl at extreme pace in the form of Kagiso Rabada and Pat Cummins, medium pacers Angelo Mathews, Corey Anderson and Carlos Brathwaite and then the two seamers who have the ability to deliver at any stage of the innings with their variations – Mohammad Shami and Chris Morris. Not to discount the evergreen Zaheer, even though it remains to be seen what shape he is in. In the spin department, Daredevils have the likes of Amit Mishra, Jayant Yadav, Shahbaz Nadeem and Murugan Ashwin in their ranks. For now, Mishra looks like a certain starter but the management will have a sweet headache to pick one more from the rest. But in order to include a second spinner, a bit of tinkering needs to be done with their formation.

Weakness

Quinton de Kock, with the kind of form that he had been in, will prove to be irreplaceable for Daredevils right at the top of the order. De Kock’s destructiveness to go with JP Duminy’s calm presence out in the middle will be missed and now suddenly Daredevils’ top-four looks short of experience with both pulling out of the tournament. In the absence of these two, it is likely that at least three among Shreyas Iyer, Pant, Samson and Nair will be batting in the top four. They possess great talent and are among the best young batsmen in this country but sadly they couldn’t click in unison last season and would certainly not want a repeat of it this time around. The think-tank might want to throw in Sam Billings somewhere in that top four as well.

Opportunities

Considering the number of seam options they have, Daredevils can make use of their stock by playing on a surface that offers plenty of bounce and zip. Previously, Rajasthan Royals prepared a lively strip in Jaipur that stood out from the rest of the pitches in the IPL and made it a fortress, dismantling almost every team. If Daredevils can come up with something similar and unleash the likes of Rabada, Cummins, Morris and Shami, then they will have a great chance of blowing their opponents away at the Kotla.

Threats

With two key absentees already, Daredevils wouldn’t want to lose another batsman. They were criticised a lot for making too many changes to their lineup last season but may have to do something similar at least with the batting to ensure they don’t lose any more key players to fatigue. They have a few more fitness concerns to deal with as it is not clear yet when Mathews can join the squad. Anderson hasn’t bowled in a while since he returned after a back injury and it remains to be seen if he can be as effective as he was before. Their skipper Zaheer hasn’t played competitive cricket for almost a year and it remains to be seen what sort of an impact can he create when he steps out on the field again. He has a history of breaking down easily and if he fails to deliver, the management will have a problem choosing the next captain.

What the schedule holds

Among all teams, perhaps Daredevils have the best run-in. One of their home matches, which coincided with the municipal elections in Delhi, got rescheduled to May instead, which has ensured that Daredevils will be playing five out of their last six matches at home. If they can find form at their home venue in front of their own supporters, Daredevils will find it slightly easier than the rest to qualify for the playoffs. But it will test their endurance as well at the same time since they will be playing those six matches in a span of just 13 days.

Ideal playing XI: Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Karun Nair, Sam Billings, Sanju Samson (WK), Carlos Brathwaite, Chris Morris, Amit Mishra, Kagiso Rabada, Mohammad Shami, Zaheer Khan (C).

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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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SRH expect Mustafizur to join squad on April 7

IPL 2017

SRH expect Mustafizur to join squad on April 7

JAC Gladson • Last updated on Mon, 03 Apr, 2017, 07:16 AM

Mustafizur is not expected to be available for many games this season. © Getty

Slowly but surely, the Sunrisers Hyderabad are hitting their stride. Their training schedule was thrown off gear by a virus that had laid the first batch of players low, including their bowling mentor Muttiah Muralitharan. But they have recovered from that blow and it’s all systems go for the defending champions what with most of their players joining the team on Sunday (April 2).

However, Mustafizur Rahman, their bowling mainstay last season, will miss the opening match of IPL 10 against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on April 5. The Bangladeshi leftarm seamer, who confounded many batting line-ups to finish fifth in the bowling charts with 17 sticks last season, will join the team on April 7 and is likely to play only a few matches this season.

Coach Tom Moody confirmed the development. “We’re expecting him (Mustafizur) to be here on the 7th. Unless we hear differently from the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), we’ll continue to expect him.

“One of the reasons why we secured both these talents (Ben Laughlin & Chris Jordan) is we knew Mustafizur is going to be available for only small portion of the tournament. We felt it was important to fill that gap and these guys have got excellent skills that enable us to have that option to be able to finish games,” he said.

The SRH coach was also confident that skipper David Warner, who with 848 runs finished No.2 in the batting charts after Virat Kohli (973), would be fresh and raring to go despite the gruelling Test series against India.

“We’ve given him (Warner) an extra couple of days in Sydney to be with his family. We recognise as a franchise that family is important and in also keeping players fresh mentally. He’s sending possible XIs for the games, so he hasn’t switched off. He’s just having a chance to recharge those batteries. Physically he’s absolutely fine. 100% fit and I think the extra couple of days the franchise has allowed him back home with his two young daughters and his wife will pay dividends as the tournament unfolds,” he said.

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County Championship: Know your squads – Part I

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP

County Championship: Know your squads – Part I

Rob Johnston • Last updated on Mon, 03 Apr, 2017, 12:20 AM

Essex won Division Two last season © Getty

Derbyshire

Last season: 9th in Division Two

It has been all change at Derbyshire over the winter with Kim Barnett, installed as the club’s new Director of Cricket, wasting no time in putting his mark on things. It was clear that something had to be done: Derbyshire finished bottom of the County Championship without a win last season.

There is genuine hope for better this time out, though, much of it due to an influx of players which has given the squad a depth it lacked last year. Ireland’s Gary Wilson, signed from Surrey, and a trio of South Africans, Imran Tahir, Hardus Viljoen and Daryn Smit, the latter two on Kolpak deals, have all arrived and will add much needed experience and quality to the squad.

The signings of Tahir and Viljoen in particular, will give captain Billy Goddleman a cutting edge that Derbyshire lacked last season when they garnered the least bowling bonus points of any county. Throw in young leg-spinner Matt Critchley, who spent the winter in Sydney working with Stuart MacGill, and reliable fast bowler Tony Palladino and the attack has a decent look to it.

Barnett has also introduced a revamped coaching structure which will see Goddleman and the players effectively managing the Championship and 50-over teams without a head coach. The hope is that this will force the players to take more responsibility for the success of the side. For the T20 campaign, John Wright has been hired as a specialist coach.

Despite the improvements to the squad, expectations should be tempered with a dose of realism. Come the end of the season, Derbyshire are unlikely to be in the mix for promotion but they should fare better than last year and pick up a few wins along the way. After a harrowing campaign last season, that should be regarded as success in itself.

Durham

Last season: 4th in Division One (enforced relegation by ECB due to financial failings)

The sanctions placed on Durham by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for financial failings were intended to act as a warning to other counties but they are clearly punitive. Not only will Durham be playing in Division Two this season, they will start with a 48-point penalty.

Typically, Durham have faced their situation with stoicism. Ian Botham has been appointed as chairman and has been bullish in his still targeting promotion while Keaton Jennings, Ben Stokes and Mark Wood have all remained with the county when they could have been tempted elsewhere.

Durham could not, however, hang on to everyone. Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick, both of whom scored over 1,000 Championship runs last season, have moved to Surrey, which leaves the batting looking short. Much will be expected of Jennings, although he should be with England for much of the Test match summer, and captain Paul Collingwood.

The additions of Test batsmen South African Stephen Cook and New Zealander Tom Latham as overseas players will also certainly help plug some of the gap and young Jack Burnham will have to step up as well.

Conversely, the bowling looks strong with Wood, Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth all top-class operators and young left-arm seamer James Weighall showing glimpses of potential. Spinner Ryan Pringle will hope to do better than last year’s disappointing showing, particularly as Durham will be without Borthwick’s leg-spin.

Despite the points penalty and departures, Durham certainly have the class and character to challenge for promotion this season. The strength of their bowling attack should be too good for many of the sides in Division Two and this will give them every chance of reclaiming their position in the top flight at the first time of asking.

Essex

Last season: 1st in Division Two

After a fine season last year, Essex will be an unknown quantity in their first appearance in the top flight since 2010. A group of young cricketers have to prove themselves capable of performing against better teams, but in Nick Browne, Jamie Porter, Dan Lawrence and Aaron Beard together with Tom Westley, Essex have a strong nucleus of homegrown talent.

They have also recruited well. Varun Chopra and Adam Wheater, two players with top-flight experience, have arrived, as has top-class South African spinner Simon Harmer on a Kolpak deal. Add in New Zealand fast-bowler Neil Wagner as an overseas player for the start of the season and Essex’s squad looks deeper and stronger than for many a year.

Importantly, Alastair Cook will also be available until July and should play nine or ten Championship games in all. The former England Test captain will be relied on, together with the experienced duo of Ravi Bopara and captain Ryan ten Doeschate, to help the younger batsmen adjust to the greater intensity and quality of Division One’s attacks.While the batting is clearly Essex’s strength, the bowling attack looks perhaps short of another fast bowler. Porter, 23, who has 121 first-class wickets at 27.73, and Matt Dixon will lead the attack with Wagner and Beard and Paul Walter will also have opportunities. Harmer’s spin will be important on the better pitches of Division One but whether Essex can take 20 wickets regularly remains to be seen.

The first target of coach Chris Silverwood will be to avoid relegation but if they have a good start and Cook finds form, they may spring a surprise towards the top half of the division. For the likes of Westley and Browne, a stellar season could also see them pushing for England spots. The future at Chelmsford looks particularly bright.

Glamorgan

Last season: 8th in Division Two

On paper, last season was a pretty dismal one for Glamorgan. They finished second-bottom in Division Two and won just three games all year. Worse than that, they lost half of their Championship games.

Yet there were signs that the county may be about to have a decent period. A group of excellent young batsmen in Aneurin Donald, David Lloyd and Will Bragg announced themselves with some standout innings even if the consistency required at first-class level was somewhat lacking. These three have the ability to be the heart of Glamorgan’s batting for a decade.

In the bowling department, there was perhaps less to shout about even though Tim van der Gugten and Michael Hogan shared 105 Championship wickets between them. Spinner Andrew Salter has not kicked on and Graham Wagg and Craig Meschede failed to deliver in any consistent way and will need to do better. Young seamer Lukas Carey should get more opportunities this term after impressing in limited opportunities so far.

Hopes for a better 2017 will depend largely on the inexperienced batting line-up finding more consistency, which will need captain Jacques Rudolph, who averaged under 25 last season, in form, and the back-up bowlers giving Hogan and van der Gugten more support. There is plenty of talent in the squad but they need to deliver on a more regular basis.

Eight losses in 16 games last year suggests a lack of fight when the going got tough but it was largely due to a lack of experience amongst a young squad, one further depleted this season by the retirement of Dean Cosker after 20 years. They will be better for it and although a mid-table finish, and no more, is likely this term, Glamorgan are moving in the right direction.

Gloucestershire

Last season:6th in Division Two

Gloucestershire started their outdoor season earlier than any other county, playing Oxford University on 16th March, and coach Richard Dawson hopes this will give them the ability to start well in the first four games, matches he has targeted as setting the tone for their first-class campaign. There has been no overhaul of the squad despite a middling Championship season last year with only four wins from their 16 games. Experienced wicket-keeper batsman Phil Mustard has joined from Durham and Australian Cameron Bancroft will replace fellow Western Australian Michael Klinger who will only play limited-overs cricket for Gloucestershire this season.

Dawson wants his current group to step up more consistently than last summer, something that will be even more important without Klinger, who averaged over 70 last season, and Hamish Marshall who has retired. Much will be expected of Chris Dent, who scored three Championship hundreds last year, and Graeme van Buuren to replace those runs.

The bowling attack looks marginally the stronger suit with fast bowlers Craig Miles, Liam Norwell and David Payne all proven performers and young Josh Shaw, 21, having plenty of promise too. If Gloucestershire can score enough runs, that attack should have enough about it to take 20 wickets although they do lack a spinner of note for when the pitches firm up in mid-summer.

Gloucestershire may have to settle for a mid-table finish once again in the Championship. Their squad looks more suited to one-day cricket and lacking in four-day class which shouldn’t trouble the better sides. They do have enough about them though to pick up a few wins along the way.

Hampshire

Last season: 8th in Division One (retained top flight status due to Durham’s relegation)

Whatever the wrongs or rights of Durham’s relegation, Hampshire, the beneficiaries, are keen to focus on putting right a season they felt should never have seen them relegated anyway. They lost just four games in 2016 but drew ten which ultimately saw them finish just below Lancashire and, until Durham’s demotion, headed towards Division Two.

This year, the Hampshire squad has a stronger look to it than last season which has given them hope of being involved at the top end this time out. Michael Carberry has returned after a battle with cancer and Reece Topley is also back fit after missing most of the year with injury. James Vince, away with England for much of last summer, will also likely be around far more.

Added to those three has been some canny recruitment. Two high-class South Africans, Kyle Abbot and Rilee Rossouw, have arrived on Kolpak deals and George Bailey will fulfil the overseas duties and captain the team in Championship cricket. Highly thought of young all-rounder Asher Hart has also arrived from Durham.

Throughout the squad there is strength and experience. Liam Dawson, fresh from an impressive Test debut, and Mason Crane, recently selected for New South Wales after a stellar season in grade cricket, are two good spinners and fast bowler Brad Wheal and batsman Tom Alsop, who spent his winter with the England Lions, are two highly promising cricketers. Jimmy Adams and Will Smith lend further experience to the batting line-up.

Whether Hampshire have enough staying power to challenge the best teams over the course of a season is the biggest question mark this year. Too often last season, they lost big moments in games which was one reason why they won just two matches all season. With the extra class of Topley and Abbot in the bowling attack and more batting depth too, Hampshire could well be the surprise package this season.

Kent

Last season: 2nd in Division Two

In any other season, Kent would have achieved their goal of promotion to Division One of the Championship last year. With the restructuring of the top division to include just eight teams only one side was promoted which left Kent rueing their misfortune at finishing second behind Essex.

Sam Northeast’s team look well placed to be there or thereabouts this time round and should benefit from some limited but shrewd recruitment. Young batsman Joe Weatherley, on loan from Hampshire, and all-rounder Will Gidman, signed from Nottinghamshire, have arrived to complement a talented squad.

Sam Billings is one of England’s brightest prospects and will add much to the squad once finished at the IPL and opening batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond starred for the England Lions in their recent one-day series with Sri Lanka. Fast bowler Matt Coles is perhaps the best quick bowler in the second division and experienced duo Darren Stevens and James Tredwell still have plenty to offer.

It’s also a pivotal season for Northeast himself, described by new coach Matt Walker this week as the best captain in county cricket. Fresh from a hundred during the recent North-South series in the UAE, Northeast is starting to get the recognition with the national selectors that he deserves. Leading Kent to promotion will do his cause no harm.

If there is one area where Kent will look to do better than last season, it is converting handy positions into wins. Eight draws last year was perhaps two too many and much will depend this campaign on whether Coles, Gidman and Tredwell are able to bowl sides out regularly. The bowling attack does look short of another high-class fast bowler.

With Durham and Nottinghamshire both looking strong after relegation from the top flight, Kent will not have it all their own way this season. They do, however, have an experienced and deep squad and the shrewd Northeast at the helm which should see them challenging for promotion at the end of the season.

Lancashire

Last season: 7th in Division One

Lancashire approach this season with a good mix of young potential and experienced campaigners within their squad. Last summer’s seventh placed finish, narrowly avoiding relegation, was not what a club of Lancashire’s size expects but nevertheless was a good result for a squad dominated by young, inexperienced players.

One of those, Haseeb Hameed, made his Test debut for England and another, Liam Livingstone, may not be far away either after a fine winter with the Lions. Rob Jones, Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson were others who shone at various stages and all of them with be better for the experience of last year.

New coach Glen Chapple has recognised the need for some experience to complement the youthful talent and has recruited well. South African wicket-keeper Dane Villas and West Indian batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul have been signed on Kolpak deals and Villas’ fellow South African Ryan McLaren will be the club’s overseas player.

James Anderson will also lead the attack in early season and should be available for more games than last summer even if the England management will want to keep him fit and fresh for a rigorous programme of Test matches over the next year. Anderson will form a high-class new-ball partnership with Kyle Jarvis.

It is unlikely Lancashire will be challenging at the top of the table but nor is it certain they will be involved in another relegation battle. Without Anderson, the attack looks short of class and depth but if experienced players like Chanderpaul, Villas and McLaren can add some nous and backbone to the abundant skill and talent of Lancashire’s homegrown youngsters, they may have a decent year.

Leicestershire

Last season: 7th in Division Two

Leicestershire’s four Championship victories last season were further confirmation of progress in four-day cricket after winless campaigns in 2013 and 2014 but it is too soon to yet expect them to be challenging at the top of the division.

New coach Pierre de Bruyn, who replaced Andrew McDonald after he returned to Australia, will have a large squad of 25 players to pick from this season which means competition for places will be high. Whether there is enough quality, however, particularly in the batting, remains to be seen.

Some decent players have arrived over the winter to add more depth. South African’s Colin Ackerman and Dieter Klein have been recruited on EU passports while all-rounder James Burke has arrived on loan from Surrey and seamer Gavin Griffiths has joined from Lancashire. Australian Mark Cosgrove will captain the side and his compatriot Clint McKay will lead the limited overs teams.

Alongside those recruits are a host of young players who have shown glimpses of promise. Adil Ali, Lewis Hill, Harry Dearden and Tom Wells are a quartet of youthful batsmen and Zak Chappell is an all-rounder with plenty of potential but it feels as if much of the run scoring will have to be done by Ackerman, Cosgrove, Neil Dexter and Paul Horton.

The bowling attack will rely on McKay, Ben Raine and Charlie Shrek who combined to take 135 Championship wickets last year. Behind them, though, is little proven depth, even if the recruitment of Griffiths should help. The lack of a frontline spinner hindered Leicestershire last season on good pitches and will likely do so again. Callum Parkinson, 20, signed from Derbyshire, has promise but also a lot to learn.

De Bruyn has spoken of his desire for Leicestershire players to get more out of themselves this season and professes himself impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment he has seen in pre-season. That only goes so far, of course, and although Leicestershire will be competitive this season, they still have work to do before they can think about anything more than a mid-table finish.

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Source: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/93737/county-championship-know-your-squads-part-i?utm_source=TOInewHP_TILwidget&utm_medium=ABtest&utm_campaign=TOInewHP

KKR’s batting needs to be top class: Gambhir

IPL 2017

KKR’s batting needs to be top class: Gambhir

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Sun, 02 Apr, 2017, 09:08 PM

Gautam Gambhir came to the defense of Sunil Narine, who seems to have lost a bit of zing since remodelling his bowling action © BCCI

With the changing nature of the Eden Gardens surface, Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir reckons his team’s batting has to be top class in the upcoming season of the IPL.

“From a track that used to favour spinners, it now has good deal of pace and bounce in it. With that as a background, batting has to be top-class,” Gambhir told PTI on Sunday (April 2). “The rival team fast bowlers will come hard at us and we have to be ready for that.”

The core of the batting includes him, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan. KKR even added domestic performer Ishank Jaggi to the side, but the likes of Uthappa and Suryakumar haven’t been in the best of touch. However, the biggest problem that KKR face this season is the absence of their lynchpin – Andre Russell, who has been ruled out of the season after being handed a one-year ban for violating anti-doping whereabouts regulations.

To fill the void, KKR paid a hefty sum to procure the services of Chris Woakes as a like-for-like replacement, but the English all-rounder is yet to prove his destructive prowess in Indian conditions. Gambhir believes while Russell’s absence is a big blow to the side’s balance, it is also an ideal opportunity for someone else to stand up and be counted.

“There are two ways to look at such situations in life,” Gambhir said. “Either we can see Russell’s absence as a challenge or look at it as an opportunity in bold letters. I as an individual, and KKR as a group, are looking it as an opportunity. Maybe a combination of Manish Pandey’s batting and Ankit Rajpoot’s bowling can get us what Russell did. Not only Woakes but the entire team can try to fill-in for Russell and for that you don’t necessarily need an all-rounder. May be some other pair can do this.”

KKR have depended heavily on their spin bowling in the recent seasons, but have opted to assemble one of their strongest fast-bowling attacks for the upcoming season.

“We had left-arm pacemen in Jaydev Unadkat and Pradeep Sangwan in the past and understand the value of this skill that Boult brings in. Boult, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Umesh Yadav, Ankit Rajpoot and Woakes. We have all bases covered when it comes to fast bowling.”

The left-handed opener also said that Sunil Narine, who has lost a bit of his magic touch after remodelling his bowling action, could be a threat again.

“I think we start judging people a little too soon. You can’t expect a golfer, who has changed his swing to be the same force from day one on the greens. I have changed my stance (to open chested) and it’s been close to two years now and I am still settling with it. Give Sunil some time and some space and he will show you his wares again,” Gambhir said.

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Another Federer-Nadal Classic: Tennis’s greatest rivalry continues to enthral

In yet another Federer-Nadal classic, the Swiss tennis maestro won the Miami Open to make it his 91st title. Roger Federer was simply too dominant against his old rival Rafael Nadal whom he beat in straight sets (6-3, 6-4). This means that Federer has now won the last four encounters against Rafa, a career hot streak for the Swiss.

(AFP photo)

There’s no denying that Federer has had an amazing start to the 2017 season having already won the Australian Open. There is a new care-free approach to his tennis that is really reaping dividends. Federer doesn’t seem to be under any kind of pressure and is clearly enjoying his game. Perhaps this new attitude has something to do with the fact that his time on the tennis court is winding down. Whatever it is, Federer has regained shades of his invincible best.

As far as Rafa is concerned, losing to Federer four times in a row will hurt him. But he also knows that Federer has hit a purple patch which may not last throughout the season. In fact, Rafa too has had a decent start to the season which would have been golden had it not been for Federer. And with the clay court circuit around the corner, Rafa should easily have a few titles under his belt.

All in all, both Federer and Rafa are experiencing a resurgence in their tennis. They look ready to go the distance and compete for all the important tournaments. This is only good news for tennis fans as we can expect more Federer-Nadal match ups in the year ahead.
Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports

Source: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/talkingturkey/another-federer-nadal-classic-tenniss-greatest-rivalry-continues-to-enthral/?utm_source=Popup&utm_medium=Old&utm_campaign=TOIHP

IPL 2017: Delhi Daredevils to be without Angelo Mathews for better part of the season

Apart from hamstring injury, Angelo Mathews’ return will be delayed by calf strain. (Source: Reuters/File) Apart from hamstring injury, Angelo Mathews’ return will be delayed by calf strain. (Source: Reuters/File)

The Delhi Daredevils are unlikely to get the services of Sri Lankan all-rounder Angelo Mathews for the better part of IPL as he is yet to recover fully from his hamstring injury.

Mathews is not a part of the Sri Lankan T20 side that will host Bangladesh in a two-match T20 series starting April 4 in Colombo.

Apart from hamstring injury, Mathews’ return will be delayed by calf strain.

“At this stage I think I can say Angelo will not play the T20s,” SLC cricket manager Asanka Gurusinha told ESPN Cricinfo.

“The IPL will be affected because he has to wait for the physio and the trainer to give him the green light. He has to be 100 percent fit. Angelo has to make that call with the physio, because if he’s not 100 percent fit, we will not let him go.”

SLC is reluctant to release Mathews unless he has fully recovered because they would like him to be available for the Champions Trophy in the UK in June.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/ipl-2017-10/delhi-daredevils-to-be-without-angelo-mathews-for-better-part-of-ipl-10-4596879/

Ligue 1 Roundup: Nice strengthen grip on third place after beating Bordeaux

All of Mario Balotelli’s 11 league goals this season have been scored at home. (Source: Reuters) All of Mario Balotelli’s 11 league goals this season have been scored at home. (Source: Reuters)

Striker Mario Balotelli equalized from the penalty spot and then helped to create the winner as Nice rallied to beat Bordeaux 2-1 in the French league on Sunday.

The win moved third-placed Nice one point behind Paris Saint-Germain and four behind leader Monaco, although they both have a game in hand on Nice, which hosts PSG at the end of April.

All of Balotelli’s 11 league goals this season have been scored at home, and the Italian forward confidently struck a 16th-minute penalty after veteran midfielder Jeremy Toulalan was adjudged to have fouled right back Arnaud Soquet as he burst into the area.

Bordeaux had taken the lead in the ninth minute thanks to a fine goal from Gaetan Laborde. The striker took advantage of an error from Nice’s Brazilian center half Dante to break into the penalty area, beat two defenders and score with an angled finish.

After leveling from the penalty spot, Balotelli showed clever anticipation to cushion a pass into the path of midfielder Valentin Eysseric, who turned to hit a brilliant curling strike past goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso in the 27th minute from just outside the penalty area.

There were no goals in the second half but Bordeaux missed four chances, with forward Francois Kamano missing an open goal and missing with another strike.

“In the second half they dictated the game. If you lose the ball against them, they are lethal,” Nice coach Lucien Favre said of Bordeaux. “But you shouldn’t forget that we have several players injured, so hats off to the team.”

Bordeaux is in sixth place, one point behind fifth-placed Marseille.

RENNES 1, LYON 1

Lyon missed an early penalty and conceded a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw at 10-man Rennes.

Lyon failed to take advantage of having an extra man for nearly the whole game after Algerian defender Ramy Bensebaini was sent off in the fifth minute. The resulting spot kick, taken by Lyon top scorer Alexandre Lacazette, was well saved by goalkeeper Benoit Costil.

Midfielder Corentin Tolisso went close three times as Lyon dominated the first half, but the visitors had to wait until the 53rd minute before taking the lead when forward Maxwell Cornet turned in a cross from left back Jeremy Morel.

Congolese forward Firmin Mubele equalized for midtable Rennes in the 82nd with his first goal since joining Rennes from Qatari club Al-Ahli.

“Given the circumstances we should have won the match,” Lyon coach Bruno Genesio said. “So, yes, this draw feels like a defeat. We started losing track of what we were doing 15 minutes from the end, and I don’t know why. Perhaps it was a lack of concentration.”

Lyon has not won away in the league since beating leader Monaco 3-1 in December and dropped more points in its quest to catch third-placed Nice.

Lyon is 16 points behind Nice.

“Given what we showed today, we don’t deserve to be on the podium (in the top three),” Genesio said. “I’m irritated, for want of a better word.”

OTHER MATCHES

Burkina Faso striker Prejuce Nakoulma scored both goals as Nantes beat Angers 2-1 to move up to ninth place.

Striker Andy Delort got his fourth goal since joining from Mexican club Tigres in January as Toulouse won 1-0 at Montpellier to go 10th.

Cameroon striker Benjamin Moukandjo’s 10th league goal of the season helped Lorient beat Caen 1-0 as it bids to avoid relegation. Lorient is 19th but only one point behind 17th-placed Dijon.

Paris Saint-Germain beat Monaco 4-1 in the League Cup final on Saturday.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/ligue-1-roundup-nice-strengthen-grip-on-third-place-after-beating-bordeaux-4597069/

After Bangalore Test, Australia’s DRS success rate has dropped considerably: Wriddhiman Saha

Saha had a rewarding season, as he scored 646 runs including three centuries in 14 Tests, besides accounting for 37 dismissals. Partha Paul Saha had a rewarding season, as he scored 646 runs including three centuries in 14 Tests, besides accounting for 37 dismissals. Partha Paul

A clean-shaven Wriddhiman Saha looked even leaner as he parked his Toyota Fortuner at the Cricket Association of Bengal portico and headed to the gym at the Eden Gardens. A long home season is over but an IPL with Kings XI Punjab beckons. Saha has grown immensely as a cricketer over the last eight-odd months — starting in the Caribbean— during which he scored 646 runs, including three centuries in 14 Tests and accounted for 37 dismissals. In an interview with The Indian Express, Saha spoke about his improvement as a cricketer, India’s unprecedented success and, of course, sledging. Excerpts:

How much has Wriddhiman Saha grown in stature in the dressing-room this season?

Apart from odd changes, it’s the same unit that has been playing for the past two-three seasons. The real team bonding happened after we lost the Galle Test (in 2015). We had a team meeting in the dressing room. That was basically the start of our journey as a group. We changed our approach and it set us on the winning path.

You side-stepped the question…

I never felt left out even at the time when I was a relative newcomer, when I replaced (MS) Dhoni bhai in Australia. You have to talk to others to know if I have grown in stature. From my perspective, our dressing room thrives in collectivity. Different players have different roles to perform, but we as a team share our ups and downs collectively. Everyone, including the reserves and support staff, gets equal importance.

Your friendship with your teammates must have grown stronger over the past few months…

We have always been good friends. During the series we spend our free time together. We take part in PlayStation football games together. I usually play with (Cheteshwar) Pujara, Virat (Kohli), Shikhar (Dhawan) when he was with the team, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul.

Grapevine has it that you get pretty excited, playing football on PlayStation…

Yeah, it’s very intense. No one likes to lose. It’s a great way to wind down after a hard day’s play on the field.

Do you insist on having Barcelona as your team?

No, we prefer rotation, although I’m always more comfortable with (Lionel) Messi in my team (laughs).

Pujara tried to pull your leg after you bagged the Man of the Match award against New Zealand at Eden Gardens.

It wasn’t after the Test. It was after we finished our second innings and I remained not out in both innings. He jokingly said, ‘Wriddhi ko Kolkata me out karna na mumkin hai (it’s impossible to get Wriddhiman out in Kolkata). That’s the beauty of our team. This is something which is a lot more than winning and losing matches. I have been with the team since Australia and I haven’t witnessed a single case of dressing room bust-up. There’s absolutely no clash of egos in this team.

Going back to Galle, then team director Ravi Shastri allowed every player let off steam after the defeat. How did it help?

It helped us play fearless cricket. Some were getting bogged down under pressure, getting overwhelmed by the situation and sacrificing their natural game in the process. The session helped change the mindset.

You spoke about a change in approach

We decided that we would be targeting some bowlers in a match. Take the attack to a particular bowler right from the outset to upset his rhythm. It’s about taking calculated risks and the approach paid off. We started our winning run after Galle.

Even after your batting success against West Indies and New Zealand there appeared to be an amount of uncertainty as you were ruled out after the second Test against England because of a hamstring injury. Your replacement, Parthiv Patel, did well with the bat. Every now and then people start talking about other keepers like Parthiv or Dinesh Karthik. How do you handle this?

I never consider myself No.1, No.2 or No.10. My job is to go out there and perform, and I try to do that. End of the story. Everybody tries to do his best to reach a certain level. As far as my injury was concerned, I never had any insecurity about it. The team management didn’t allow me to have one. Anil (Kumble) bhai went to the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, when I was doing my rehab and offered assurance.

Did you have any special fitness routine for a six-month long home season?

Our fitness trainer gave us a schedule, which we followed. As I had injured my hamstring, some specific hamstring exercises were given to strengthen the muscles and tendons. At the same time, I was told to be cautious about not overloading it.

The team had a session on the DRS before the first Test against New Zealand. But at times it felt like India didn’t quite have a grip on the technology. As a keeper, you had a important role to play. Did you ever feel iffy?

The brief was clear; I would offer my view along with the bowler and then the captain would take a call. There were times, when I was 100 per cent convinced and so was the bowler, but Virat wasn’t too sure. Then, there were times when Virat was convinced but I, (Ajinkya) Rahane from the first slip and the bowler weren’t less certain. I insisted on taking a referral against Moeen Ali in Vizag despite the fact that he was way down the track against Jayant Yadav. But eventually we went for a review and won the leg before appeal. In some cases I erred also. No team can have a 100 per cent grip on the DRS. There has to be a difference between real time action and slow motion replays. For Australia, their DRS success rate had been close to 80 per cent before the incident in Bangalore. I don’t know if they had been getting any external (dressing room) help. No one noticed. After Bangalore, however, their (DRS) success rate dropped considerably.

You are said to be a keeper who doesn’t keep up a constant flow of chatter from behind the stumps.

If you watch the matches and hear the recordings, you would know I talk the most on the field.

You are one player who keeps his emotions in check on the field. Do you open up in the change room?

I think it’s almost same in the dressing room as well.

Who is your best friend in the team?

Everyone is my best friend. And it’s same for all my team mates. Having a best friend in the team isn’t a good idea. It may lead to groupism. We are a unit.

Was it tough, confidence-wise, batting at No. 7 or 8?

It depends on the individual. It doesn’t affect me. The decision to promote R Ashwin in the batting order was taken in the West Indies. And make no mistake, he is a very good batsman with four Test hundreds under his belt. The team management did it to ensure we have specialist batters up until No. 7. I had no problems with that. Ashwin’s batting success augured very well for the team.

Batting with the tail-enders requires special skills. Do you feel comfortable?

I did it many times for my club and Bengal, batting with the tail. It has served my game well. We no longer shield the tail-enders in the Indian team. They all are capable batters and spend time in the nets to improve their batting. And it’s not just the survival, our tail-enders have the licence to punish the loose balls. The team management has given them confidence to optimise their batting potential.

India-Australia Test series have had a tendency to become acrimonious. But this time things get a little too stretched?

Sledging is a part of Australia’s game. We know that. We were prepared for that. They played well in the first Test and we didn’t play to our potential. If we had won in Pune, things could have been different. For Australia, the lead served as a confidence boost but it’s not that they had an exclusive right over sledging. We also got into a bit of a banter; not only this series, but also when we went Down Under. We did it in Sri Lanka as well.

How did Australia respond to counter sledging?

It upset them. I think our banters made Steve Smith over-attacking in the second innings at Dharamsala.

Who was the leader of the pack in the Indian team?

Everyone. Virat, Rahane, Pujara, Rahul.

What about you? Not even under your breath?

No, I don’t do it. . I just offer encouragement to my team mates; and just a few words here and there.

You appeared to have got involved in the Matthew Wade-Ravindra Jadeja argument at Dharamsala.

I just wanted to know what they had been talking about; exactly what happened.

Do you ever get angry even at home?

No. Maybe, sometimes they (family) get angry with me. But I keep calm (laughs).

You are one Indian batsman who sways away from a bouncer rather than ducking under it. Does it come naturally to you?

It’s natural. I rarely play the pull shot. I allow my body to react to the angles. As because you sometime have variable bounce on Indian pitches, swaying away allows you watch the ball till the end. Sometimes, against an in-swinging bouncer from wide of the crease, I prefer to duck.

For someone who had to play the waiting game for a long time, be it the Bengal Ranji team or the Indian team, how do you look at this upward mobility of your career?

I never felt frustrated. I always trained with the match intensity. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been ready when my time came. Now the focus is to serve the Indian team for long.

During the season, did you get any advice from Kumble about keeping on Indian pitches? He was always a difficult bowler to keep on turners.

I kept to Anil bhai once or twice at the nets. He (and also Virat) always tells me not to change my natural approach to keeping.

How challenging it is to keep to two world-class spinners on turning pitches?

Almost every ball is a challenge, which I really enjoy. Ravichandran Ashwin presents a lot of variety, making things exciting for the keeper. Jadeja is very accurate. Both are outstanding performers. But at the end of the day, a keeper’s job is to collect the ball.

Did Kuldeep Yadav have the mystery element to the keeper as well?

I have kept to many chinaman bowlers during my days at Siliguri (hometown) and also even after coming to Kolkata. Ultimately, it’s about picking it off the hand and following the seam. If you can do that, things will be easier.

Do you exchange signals with the spinners?

Not really. In the Bangalore Test, however, Matt Renshaw had been compulsively stepping out to Jadeja. So we planned about firing one down the leg side. Jadeja did it and I had a stumping.

Umesh Yadav’s progress has been heartening. What do you think he has changed to achieve consistency?

It’s experience. You are always wiser— hitting the right areas —after say 30 Tests rather than 10 . Umesh has now become a complete package. He has everything in his repertoire.

Mohammed Shami unfortunately is facing recurrent injury problems.

It’s not recurrent. Last time, he had injured the other knee. I batted against him at the nets (in Dharamsala). I think he is now fully fit for limited-overs matches. A good IPL season followed by the Champions Trophy (in England) will get him ready for the longer format.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/after-bangalore-test-australias-drs-success-rate-has-dropped-considerably-wriddhiman-saha-4596887/