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If bounce doesn’t get you, swing and seam must: Sachin

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Chandigarh:Murali Vijay, the Indian opener, said the other day that the bounce on the South African wickets is not a big problem — the big problem is the swing. “Bounce can be managed but swing is difficult,” Vijay said. He did not refer to another deadly factor — movement off the pitch. When the ball’s seam (the raised, thready part where the leather is sewed together) hits the pitch, it’s very difficult to judge which way the ball would go — whether it would come in towards the stumps or move away from the wicket. The poor batsman is liable to get bowled or trapped lbw if the ball moves in, and caught-behind if it moves away. This problem is magnified on grassy, damp pitches on which the ball skids after hitting the surface. That’s why batsmen from the Indian Subcontinent struggle in England, South Africa or New Zealand.

In India’s first innings, four batsmen were caught behind by the wicketkeeper, five were caught at the slips or gully, and two were lbw. This is the usual story of Indian batsmen’s struggles in South Africa.

Thirteen 100s have been made by Indian batsmen in South Africa in the 18 Tests played by India prior to the current Test in Cape Town. Sachin Tendulkar alone made five of these 100s. No other Indian batsman has made more than one Test 100 there — Rahul Dravid, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Kapil Dev, Wasim Jaffer, Mohammad Azharuddin, Virender Sehwag and Pravin Amre have a 100 apiece in South Africa. Dravid has only three 80-plus scores in South Africa, including a 148; his average there is a lowly 29.71 in 11 Tests, against his career average of 52.31. VVS Laxman’s highest in South Africa is 96, and he’s got only four 50s in 18 innings there. Sourav Ganguly has made four 50s in his 16 innings there, with a top score of 73. Sehwag got a 105 in his first innings in South Africa, on Test debut, but could make only one 50-plus score in his 14 subsequent innings there.

 

Going further back, Sanjay Manjrekar averaged 23.20 in South Africa, without a 100 or 50; Ravi Shastri averaged 11.80 in three Tests; Azharuddin averaged 23.33 in seven Tests there. All these numbers are a testament to the challenges batsmen face in South Africa — historically, India’s batsmen have been troubled by the in-air and off-pitch movement of the ball there, apart from the bounce. Virat Kohli’s men are going to have to play better than ever before in their lives if they’re to return from South Africa with their reputations enhanced.


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Shakib tops ICC ODI all-rounders list

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Dubai: Senior Bangladesh cricketer Shakib Al Hasan Wednesday jumped to the top of the latest MRF Tyres ICC ODI rankings for all-rounders, which doesn’t feature a single Indian in the top-10 chart.

Shakib, 32, grabbed the top spot just ahead of the ODI World Cup after showcasing fine form during the tri-nation series in Ireland, which Bangladesh famously won to claim their first title in a multi-nation tournament.

In the three matches of the series, Shakib totalled 140 runs, including two unbeaten half-centuries and also picked up two wickets.

 

Shakib now has 359 points, 20 clear of Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, the previous holder of the top ranking, who has now slipped to No. 2.

Rashid’s Afghanistan team-mate Mohammad Nabi completes the top three, with 319 points.

Pakistan are the only other team to have two players in the top 10, with Imad Wasim at No. 4 and Mohammad Hafeez claiming the seventh spot.

They are separated by New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner (No.5) and England’s Chris Woakes, who leapfrogged four places to No. 6.

West Indies captain Jason Holder is their top-ranked all-rounder at number eight spot followed by Zimbabwe’s Sikandar Raza and Angelo Mathews of Sri Lanka.England’s Ben Stokes missed out on the top 10 by one spot, finishing eight points behind Mathews.

Kedar Jadhav, who is part of India’s World Cup team and is recovering from a shoulder injury, is the best-placed Indian at joint 12th spot alongside South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo and Moeen Ali of England.

Hardik Pandya completes the top 20 list.

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‘Kohli cannot single-handedly win World Cup 2019’: Sachin

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New Delhi: Stacking up staggering numbers with monotonic regularity may have become a day job for Virat Kohli, but he alone can in “no way” win a World Cup without support from his teammates, feels Sachin Tendulkar.

In an exclusive interview with the PTI, Tendulkar spoke about a range of topics including Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal’s role, the contentious No. 4 slot and how flat pitches in England is taking bowlers out of the equation.

“I think you will always have a couple of individuals stepping up every game but without team support, you can’t do much. Just because of one individual, you can’t win a tournament. No way. Unless others chip in at every crucial stage. If that doesn’t happen, there will be a disappointment,” Tendulkar said when asked if Kohli will carry the same burden like he did, specifically during 1996, 1999 and 2003 editions.

 

Tendulkar is hardly worried that India doesn’t have a settled No. 4, saying the slot can be kept flexible as per requirement and match situation.

“I think we have batsmen, who can do the job. Number four is just a number and it can be adjusted. I particularly don’t see No 4 as a problem. Our boys have played enough cricket to know their roles whether it is No 4, 6 or 8. Situational awareness is the key,” the world’s highest run-getter in Tests and ODIs said.

However, Tendulkar is not entirely happy with how the balance of ODIs is skewed towards batsmen, taking bowlers out of the equation in white ball cricket with every passing day.

“It’s become one-sided with the introduction of two new balls and flat pitches have made lives of bowlers much more difficult. One team is scoring 350 and the other is chasing down inside 45 overs,” Tendulkar said in reference to recent England versus Pakistan series where bowlers had a nightmarish time.

What Tendulkar finds even more disappointing is that reverse swing had been taken out of the equation with two new balls.

“The ball is staying hard. I mean when was the last time you saw a reverse swing in ODIs?” questioned the iconic batsman.

“When we played and there was one new ball, it would start reversing from 28th or 30th over. Some teams could get it to reverse even earlier. At the death, the ball would go soft, even get discoloured. These were challenges that batsmen faced. But now the ball remains hard and the bats are getting better,” lamented Tendulkar, who played six World Cups.

Quality of the balls (white kookaburra in question) has also become a factor, felt Tendulkar, who sees no lateral movement on flat tracks to challenge the batsmen.

What’s the solution then? He responded: “I think some thought needs to go into this. Either prepare helpful tracks if you have two new balls so that there is some help up front. Or else go back to the old one new ball system which aids reverse swing. Whatever but do something for the bowlers.”

According to him, wrist spinners are the one breed of bowlers who will do well, and India have two in Kuldeep and Chahal.

The Australians read the duo quite well during the home series in India but the maestro said that it won’t matter much in England.

“Let’s understand this. There are a number of bowlers who have been read well by batters but yet they end up getting a lot of wickets. So Kuldeep and Chahal shouldn’t be too worried about Australia series,” he said, adding both will play a massive role during the middle overs.

“Agreed the Aussies read them well but does that mean they wouldn’t be committing mistakes or can’t be forced to commit mistakes.”

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Messi, Sergio Aguero in Argentina preliminary Copa America Squad

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Lionel Messi and the returning Sergio Aguero headed a 33-man list as Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni named an enlarged preliminary Copa America squad on Wednesday.

Paris Saint Germain winger Angel Di Maria was also included but there was no place for striker Gonzalo Higuain, who is on loan at Chelsea from Juventus. “These are the ones we consider to be the best,” said Scaloni, who will have to reduce his list to 23 players next week ahead of the tournament hosted by Brazil, which begins on June 14.

Argentina will play in Group B alongside Colombia, Paraguay and guests Qatar, the 2022 World Cup hosts and current Asian champions.

 

Messi, who only returned to the Argentina squad in March after an eight-month absence following the World Cup in Russia, will turn 32 during the competition.

Di Maria, like Messi, made his post-World Cup return in March ahead of friendlies against Venezuela and Morocco, but Aguero had not been called up since Argentina’s 4-3 last 16 defeat to eventual champions France in Russia.

Argentina have not won the Copa America, or any major international tournament, since 1993, losing in the final in four of the last five editions of the continental showpiece.

Goalkeepers: Agustin Marchesin, Juan Musso, Franco Armani, Esteban Andrada, Geronimo Rulli

Defenders: German Pezzel, Gabriel Mercado, Juan Foyth, Nicolas Otamendi, Walter Kannemann, Nicolas Tagliafico, Marcos Acuna, Gonzalo Montiel, Renzo Saravia, Lisandro Martinez, Ramiro Funes Mori

Midfielders: Leandro Paredes, Angel Di Maria, Guido Rodriguez, Giovani Lo Celso, Manuel Lanzini, Roberto Pereyra, Matias Zaracho, Ivan Marcone, Domingo Blanco, Rodrigo De Paul, Exequiel Palacios, Maximiliano Meza

Forwards: Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Martinez, Paulo Dybala, Angel Correa, Lautaro Martinez, Dario Benedetto, Matias Suarez, Mauro Icardi.

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