Knight in rusty armour
They are going to scrap the tri-series in Australia from next year and have two bilateral series because this annual feature of cricket Down Under was getting one-sided. It's not known whether authorities are going to have a rethink or not, but the final edition of this competition is turning out to be interesting.
Australia have already been defeated once and as things stand now, with one match remaining before the completion of the second round, nothing can be taken for granted. It's impossible to predict or guess who will reach the finals, although the hosts continue to be the favourites because of their reputation.
Dhoni's team has started batting well, but Yuvraj Singh is yet to get his act right. India's principal scorer in the shorter versions of the game has played nine innings in Australia so far including the first two Tests and the practice match before the third Test without a single substantial score. A key man in India's one-day scheme of things, this has to be disconcerting for the team.
The skipper didn't say much on this after the defeat against Sri Lanka.
"He is coming off an injury and yet to get much of match practice. He needs time." Asked the same question a day earlier, Yuvraj had said he was "feeling better" with each game. Probably displeased to hear whether the lack of runs was worrying him, he was curt. "Not batting well, that's why I'm not getting runs."
He couldn't be blamed for not being honest if he really meant what he said. After missing the first game of the tri-series, he was out trying to drive on the off in the two innings he got in Brisbane and Melbourne. For someone who plays the shot so well, it was ironical in a way that he had perished attempting it. Not much should be made of his failure in Canberra however because he hardly got any time in that game.
Dhoni was asked why Rohit Sharma was sent in at No. 4 ahead of Yuvraj and he said that the team wanted to have a left-right combination in the middle since Gautam Gambhir was the other man batting at that time.
"And I came in at No. 5 because it was time to accelerate and having batted well in the last two games, I decided to push myself up."
He did a handy job while Rohit was brilliant. With Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag getting the team off to a decent start and Gautam Gambhir too promising to deliver, there was reason for Dhoni to be optimistic about his batting resources. Yuvraj, then, remains the only concern.
It's unfair to say that this left-hander has become a weak link because he has failed in just two innings in this competition so far, excluding the match on Tuesday and it's well known what he is capable of. As Yuvraj himself said the other day that he was getting better, he definitely deserves time. Given the stage the tournament is in, time is not running out either.
With India's next game coming up here on Sunday on what is arguably the best pitch for batting in Australia, Yuvraj gets a great chance to rest, train and then come out and score some runs. Given his track record, he is expected to do that sooner rather than later. Trouble will start if he doesn't get it right soon enough, because things at times happen too quickly if you are an Indian cricketer.
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- India vs England: Joe Root picked up the last wicket of Jasprit Bumrah to claim his maiden five-for in Test cricket. He finished with figures of 5/8.
- Local boy Axar Patel picked up 6 wickets in the first innings while Ashwin took 3 wickets to move withing 3 wickets of becoming the fourth Indian bowler ever to take 400 Test wickets.
- The 21-year-old opening batsman slammed a double century off just 142 balls in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, India's premier domestic 50-over tournament, against Puducherry.
- Axar also became the first bowler to bag a five-wicket haul at the revamped stadium in Ahmedabad. It is his second five-for in just his second Test for Team India.
- In spite of facing one of the best teams in the world, England have continued to rotate the squad in the Test series against India and this has not gone down well with former players.
- IND vs ENG: Gill was adjudged not out which left Stokes bemused while England captain Joe Root and Broad were seen in an animated discussion with the on-field umpire.
- After three innings bowling in whites for the very first time, Patel has returned 2/40, 5/60 and 6/38. Suffice to say, he has surpassed expectations, perhaps his own.
- In its brief history, day-night Tests have tended to assist fast bowlers. In the 15 day-night Tests that have been played around the world before the ongoing match, fast bowlers have taken 354 wickets at an average of 24.47, and spinners 115 wickets at 35.38.
- "The England captain and head coach spoke with the match referee after play," an England team spokesperson said in the report.
- It was his second five-for in just his second Test for Team India. By doing so, the 27-year-old spinner also became only the third Indian bowler to take a 5-wicket haul in his first two matches.
- Gill shone bright in the series down under and scored a half century in the first innings of the first Test against England but has been guilty of giving his wicket away a couple of times in the series already.