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4th Test: Depleted India eye history at Sydney

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Mumbai: India’s unwavering pursuit of history hit a minor glitch at the 11th hour with injury concerns but Virat Kohli’s men will still walk in as overwhelming favourites against a faltering Australia in the fourth and final Test starting in Sydney on Thursday.

Leading 2-1 in the four-match series, India remain firm favourites to make it 3-1 at the Sydney Cricket Ground despite serious fitness issue pertaining to their premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and senior pacer Ishant Sharma, who has not been named in the 13-member list.

Australia have hosted India since 1947-48, and barring three occasions — in 1980-81, 1985-86 and 2003-04 which were drawn — they have lost the Test series on seven occasions — 1967-68, 1977-78, 1991-92, 1999-2000, 2007-08, 2011-12, 2014-15.

 

Virat Kohli, thus, is in a unique position as the only Indian captain to go into the final Test on Australian soil with the cushion of a series lead.

A series win in Australia will certainly put Kohli on a higher pedestal even though the quality of the home team’s batting line-up suffered adversely due to the bans of former skipper Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner.

However, Kohli will have some thinking to do over his team combination as the skipper revealed that senior off-spinner Ashwin hasn’t adequately recovered from his injury despite being named in the preliminary 13-member squad.

With spin considered a traditional factor in any Sydney Test, India were left fretting over the fitness of Ashwin, who is yet to recover from left abdominal strain that laid him low after the first Test in Adelaide.

Ishant Sharma is out after experiencing discomfort in his left rib cage and the team management didn’t want to risk him by playing him in the decider.

While Ashwin had played on in Nottingham and Southampton despite a groin injury )as revealed by the team management only at the Oval), he has already missed two Tests — in Perth and Melbourne — in the on-going series.

In a strange u-turn, after he was ruled out at the time of Kohli’s pre-match press conference, Ashwin has been named in the 13-man shortlist for this fourth Test.

A final decision on his fitness and availability for the match will be taken at toss-time.

Additionally, India have included left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav as cover, in case the skipper decides to go in with two spinners.

Umesh Yadav has been included in the shortlist ahead of an injured Ishant Sharma, along with Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah.

Meanwhile, in Rohit Sharma’s absence, out-of-favour opener KL Rahul could be slated for a comeback after missing out in Melbourne, with Hanuma Vihari slotting down to his number six spot.

This is on assumption that regardless of Ashwin’s fitness, India will opt to play four bowlers, whether in a two-pacer-two spinners or three-pacers-one-spinner combination.

There is no option of playing an all-rounder as Hardik Pandya continues to be ignored, despite a hectic pre-match workout in the nets with both bat and ball. Kohli has described Vihari as an ‘exciting’ spinner and he will be the second spin option, if India retain their bowling combination from the MCG Test.


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Rasikh Salam banned for two years for submitting faulty birth certificate

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Mumbai Indians and Jammu and Kashmir pacer Rasikh Salam has been handed a two-year ban by the BCCI after he was found to have submitted a faulty birth certificate to the board.

Subsequently, he has been removed from the under-19 squad that will travel to England to play in a tri-series and has been replaced by Prabhat Maurya.

Salam, a pacer from J&K, made news when he debuted for Mumbai Indians in this Indian Premier League. He was the third player from Jammu & Kashmir to get an IPL contract – after Parvez Rasool and Manzoor Dar – and only the second after Rasool to get into the playing XI. He hails from Ashmuji village in southern part of Kashmir, which is often said to be affected by curfew and power cuts. Mumbai Indians picked him for his base price of INR 20 lakh.

 

Earlier this week, IANS had reported that Salam could be in trouble for age fraud after the Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education informed JKCA that the age Salam gave the board doesn’t match the records they posses.

JKCA and the BCCI soon got involved in the matter and a two year ban was deemed appropriate.

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Dhoni could be ‘exposed’ by Yuvraj’s dad after World Cup

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Mumbai: Father of recently retired former Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, Yograj has struck again, and all the signs point toward former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

While the cricketer is busy preparing for India’s next clash against Pakistan on Sunday after rain played spoilsport on the much-hyped India-New Zealand clash, a recent video of Yograj has surfaced where he speaks about an ‘un-named’ player who is responsible for the ‘dirty politics’ in the Indian cricket team.

Yograj further goes on to state that this player is the reason that many players like Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, and his own son Yuvraj Singh were not included in the Indian team at crucial points in time.

 

While Yograj didn’t reveal much about the player he talks about, he did mention that he’d make the complete revelations after the currently ongoing 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. Based on earlier allegations by Yograj, who was also a former pace bowler, towards then Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, It seems pretty evident that he is speaking of ‘Captain Cool’.

“I don’t want to take his name but he has been playing these dirty politics from the last 15 years. He has made lives difficult for Indian cricketers. I will make this revelation after the World Cup gets over. He will remember this for life that someone said something about him,” said Yograj.

“I don’t want to speak about him at this point in time because I don’t want the team to get affected during the World Cup,” he added.

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FIFA Rankings: India unmoved at 101

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London: The Indian national team remain unmoved in the June 2019 edition of the FIFA Rankings released.

Following India’s exit from the 2019 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup, India have had a change in coach with Igor Stimac replacing Stephen Constantine.

Under Stimac, India recently participated in the King’s Cup 2019 in Thailand where a 3-1 defeat against Curacao (79) was backed by a 1-0 win over hosts Thailand (116) in the third-place play-off.

 

GFX India FIFA Rankings June 2019

The Blue Tigers are set to face Tajikistan (120), DPR Korea (122) and Syria (85) in the upcoming Intercontinental Cup 2019 next. India enter the tournament as defending champions.

Meanwhile, in the global standings, Belgium continue to lead at the top having bettered their advantage over second-placed France who also stay put in their position, the same as Brazil and England at third and fourth spots respectively.

2019 UEFA Nations League champions Portugal have displaced Croatia to stand fifth while Spain (7) has gained two places. Germany (11 – tied with Argentina), Italy and Netherlands (both at 14) have also moved two places up.

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