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Yuvraj deserved a better farewell, says Rohit Sharma

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Yuvraj Singh played in 304 ODIs, 58 T20s and 40 Tests for India.

New Delhi: Indian opener Rohit Sharma feels Yuvraj Singh, who has announced his retirement from international cricket, deserved a better farewell.

Taking to social media after Yuvraj announced his retirement, Rohit said: “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone. Love you brotherman. You deserved a better send off.”

On Monday, the stylish southpaw announced his retirement, saying “it’s time to move on”.

“Only if I could articulate what cricket has done for me, to me! But let me tell you this, cricket has given me everything I have and it is the reason why I sit here today,” Yuvraj said in a press conference in Mumbai.

The 37-year-old, who played a crucial part in India’s successful campaigns at the 2007 World T20 and the 2011 World Cup, is among the Indian greats who did not get a farewell game after contemporaries Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Gautam Gambhir.

He also revealed that the BCCI had promised him a farewell game provided he failed the Yo-Yo fitness test. However, he passed it and therefore, the swansong never happened.

With a career that spanned over 304 ODIs, 58 T20s and 40 Tests, Yuvraj imprinted his place in the echelons of cricket as a player who could pretty much win matches for his side either through his electric fielding, deceiving bowling or fierce batting.

Unlike many, the Punjab lad won’t be a part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) post his retirement from all forms of the game, saying he is now open to playing outside the country, in other T20 leagues.

Cricket Lounge

Why Team Shastri should continue for next two years

Makarand Waingankar

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Ravi Shastri (third from left) has been reappointed for the next years as India's head coach.

Mumbai: Though we were made to believe that the competition between Mike Hesson, Tom Moody and Ravi Shastri was intense, it was a forgone conclusion that a man of Shastri’s stature and experience had to be reappointed as India’s coach.

The parameters of selecting the chief coach was also distributed among the media, for the sake of transparency. BCCI has always been accused of not being transparent, so this effort should be laudable.

The timing of chief coach’s appointment and selection of his support staff is not well timed.

India begin their inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) campaign from the first Test against the West Indies on August 22.

The WTC is based on pints and every match is important from the points of view, a fresh concept that is bound to arise excitement.

With so little a time between appointment of the chief coach and India’s first Test against the West Indies, it would be wise to avoid any wholesale changes in Shastri’s support staff.

Had Hesson or Moody had been chosen, it would have been unfair to expect building up a rapport with the Indian cricketers in so short a time. It is well known that the players share good vibes with Shastri.

The World Test Championship points system.

Ideally, Shastri should have given a deputy coach for the past two years for smooth transition if and when the former India all-rounder leaves the job.

Not only the coach, the physio and trainer should be in sync with the players, as in modern-day cricket fitness is paramount. Indians have achieved enviable fitness standards under the outgoing physio Patrick Farhart and trainer Shankar Basu.

Indians are a bundle of energy on the field and hardly missed any catch in the World Cup, a stark contrast to the Pakistan team which had plenty of butter fingers.

Employing a strict fitness culture and sound strategy management is key to building any formidable tea

When a tournament is played on points, as the WTC will be, strategy management becomes equally important as batting, bowling and fielding.

The WTC would not be decided by the number of series wins and the job of the chief coach would be tedious and cumbersome.

He would have to adopt a horses for courses approach. He has to keep ready a second line of defence along with keeping a tab on their calibre, fitness and ability to execute the team’s plan.

After Shreyas Iyer’s assured performances against West Indies in ODI series, Virat Kohli made a very pertinent point, noting that Iyer wasn’t intimidated by his presence in the middle.

Shastri has also pointed out that only four-five players would walk into India’s team in all the three formats because T20 is a young man’s game.

T20s demand greater physical efforts and fitness levels from players, hence Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane wouldn’t be considered as wouldn’t be Ishant Sharma.

With the T20 World Cup coming up next year, there would be stiff competition for places in squad.

Shastri has set the bar high. If there’s anymore motivation needed for players to be fit and get into the team this is it.

Mike Hesson is believed to have given Ravi Shastri a close fight in the race to become India’s head coach.

Each and every team has a different culture, which shouldn’t be disturbed. Greg Chappell had good intentions and tried to do it. But his working style clashed with then skipper Sourav Ganguly and established stars of the team. What Chappell tried to do in 2007 with regards to fitness, Kohli’s team is doing now.

Now fielding and fitness has gained more importance and Shastri has to have a core system and work out strategies for rotating players.

We can’t afford to play all the top players in each and every series. With the points system applied in the WTC, India can’t afford to lose their star players in Tests.

India’s batting coach Sanjay Bangar has received criticism for the team’s failure in the World Cup.

All players on the wrong side of 30 would have to have replacements. That is going be the key to success.

Having chosen to continue with Shastri, there’s no point in tinkering with his existing support team. Bowling coach Bharat Arun and batting coach Sanjay Bangar should be allowed to work in tandem with Shastri.

The term head coach for Shastri is a misnomer, he should be made the director of the team because in international cricket you can’t coach a player.

Only when you are hopelessly out of form, like David Warner is at present in the ongoing Ashes series, that you need to consult a coach, someone who knows your game well and can guide you back into form.

When a player is in form, the only thing he needs is confidence, which the present support staff have provided in abundance.

Any tinkering hence could be counter-productive. I hope wiser counsel would prevail and Team Shastri would continue for the next two years.

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Split coaches could be an option for India: Sehwag

Ashish Mani Tiwari

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Virender Sehwag.

New Delhi: Virender Sehwag believes that the idea of split coaches could be the way forward for betterment of the Indian cricket team, particularly in Test matches where stats are not in favour of current coach Ravi Shastri.

“Yes why not, there could be spilt coaches. Australia has done several times and if two brains will combine it will definitely help team India,” Speaking told Sports Lounge in a launch event of The Selector App.

National Cricket Academy’s head coach Rahul Dravid, a potential name as India’s coach and a controversy free character, could also be a good candidate for the team, Sehwag said.

“If Rahul Dravid did not apply for the position of head coach, it shows he was not interested in coaching team India and there is no politics in Team India and if Dravid would have applied, definitely he would have got the job,” he said when asked about Dravid being the team’s head coach.

When questioned about the rumoured dispute between Virat and Rohit, he said: “I don’t think there is any rift between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, and also, if somebody does not follow anyone on social media, it does not mean, he/she is my enemy. Several people do not follow me on Twitter, it doesn’t mean I have any issues with them.”

Asked about the trend of captain selecting all the team members, playing XI and the coaching staff, then what is the role of selector and coach?, Sehwag clearly said, “It’s been happening since many years and Sourav Ganguly has done this.”

“Because of that MS Dhoni, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra played and performed for the country. Virat Kohli just suggested Ravi Shastri’s name, did not recommend Shastri,” he added.

Sehwag, who applied for the head coach’s job in 2015, also revealed why he did not apply for the head coach position. A candid Sehwag said, “Last time I applied because somebody asked me to do so, this time no one asked to take up the the job.”

“When Ravi Shastri’s contract will end up in 2021, I could be BCCI President”, he added with a laugh.

Speaking on his role as a selector, if he becomes one in the future, he stated that the “job of selector comes with many restrictions and if needed, I can provide suggestions to the management. It depends on BCCI to take up the suggestions, I am available for suggestions.”

Sehwag played 104 Tests, 251 ODIs and 19 T20Is for India. He is only Indian batsman to slam two triple centuries in Test cricket for India.

Talking about selection during his times, Sehwag said that “I would have never opened in Test matches, I would have sent Sourav Ganguly to open.”

When asked about pacer Sreesanth’s reduced ban from cricket, he said, “I am happy for him and if he wants to play for India, first Sree needs to play domestic cricket.”

The former batsman, a rage now for his witty tweets, added that “people will select Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the much talked no.4 spot, while team India selectors have shown faith in aspiring Rishabh Pant.”

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India up against Windies in World Test Championship opener

Press Trust of India

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The Indian team will look for a positive result in their WTC opener.

North Sound (Antigua): A perfect combination and a winning start will be foremost on skipper Virat Kohli’s mind when India take on West Indies in their inaugural World Test Championship opener here on Thursday.

A win in the opening Test will be the 27th for Kohli as skipper and will put him on even keel with his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni. A century in the game (19th as captain) will place him on par with Ricky Ponting.

On paper, a batting line-up that has Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant in the ranks should be termed clear favourites but this West Indies team, led by Jason Holder, is no pushover.

England found that out the hard way at the start of the year when they lost a Test series 1-2 in some of the most lively pitches on the Caribbean islands in recent times.

One such pacer-friendly wicket was at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua where Kohli and his men will be facing the Windies first up.

“People have been talking about Test cricket not being relevant or dying down. For me, the competition has gone up two-fold the last couple of years. It’s up to the players to take the challenge and go for victories,” Kohli said about the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship.

“The games are going to be much more competitive and it brings a lot of purpose to the Test matches you play. It’s the right move and at the absolute right time,” Kohli said.

The last Test played here saw England scoring 187 and 132 but that was a different time of the year.

Nevertheless, Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri, who recently got a fresh contract, will be wary of the challenge that can be posed by the new ball pair of Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel along with Jason Holder bowling his steady seam-up spells.

If there is pace and bounce, Kohli is likely to go with four specialist bowlers in which Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav will be fighting for the lone spinner’s slot.

The three pacers, in all likelihood, will be Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami.

However, it is the batting combination that will be the skipper’s primary worry and if he can get it right, that will be considered as a tactical victory.

In an ideal situation, if Hardik Pandya was available, Kohli would have been tempted to drop one among Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane but given the recent record of West Indies in Tests, he might go in with an extra batsman which means both will feature in the playing XI.

If a green-top is provided and Kohli still goes with five bowlers which includes Ravindra Jadeja as an all-rounder, it could well be a toss-up between the two Mumbaikars.

The other issue will be at the top of the order as to who will open with Mayank Agarwal.

The common logic says KL Rahul, who is a specialist opener, but Hanuma Vihari was sent to do the fire-fighting in Australia and it would be unfair to not give him another opportunity against a relatively easier pace attack.

The West Indies team in the Test format has been an understated one with players who have more talent than what the numbers currently show.

In Shai Hope, John Campbell and Shimron Hetmyer, they have the three talented youngsters.

Roston Chase, during the 2016 series against India, had thwarted Ashwin for a whole fifth day in Kingston after West Indies were staring at an innings defeat. In addition to that, he is a steady off-spinner with 50 Test wickets.

Darren Bravo is their most experienced batsman with 52 Tests and nearly 3500 runs under his belt.

However, the kind of talent he is, an average of 38 plus with only eight hundreds doesn’t justify that.

All eyes will also be on whether, the new “giant” of world cricket, Rahkeem Cornwall is given an opportunity.

His imposing physical structure may have grabbed attention but Cornwall has also been a performer with his effective off-breaks and handy lower-middle-order batting.

Squads: India: Virat Kohli (captain), Mayank Aagrwal, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (wk), Kuldep Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Wriddhiman Saha (wk)

West Indies: Jason Holder (c), Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rakheem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Keemo Paul, Kemar Roach.

Match starts 7pm (IST).

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