SPORTS KOHLI, SHAS­TRI SHOULD HOLD THEIR HORSES

Kohli went a lit­tle too far by ask­ing the fan to leave the coun­try if he liked over­seas play­ers.

The Sunday Guardian - - The Big Story - VETURI SRIVATSA NEW DELHI

Few In­dia cap­tains have been as ar­tic­u­late as Vi­rat Kohli and fewer still as provoca­tive. He will de­fend his team at the worst of times and he can also be out­landish like when he told off a fan to leave In­dia and watch Eng­land or Aus­tralian bats­men if he liked them so much.

Kohli and his favourite coach, Ravi Shas­tri, are, some­how, un­able to deal with the me­dia with­out fly­ing off the han­dle, par­tic­u­larly when things get skewed and they are re­minded of their own state­ments.

When there is no cricket on, there are more board­room sto­ries. In the long gap be­tween the sec­ond and third Twenty20 games against the West Indies both Kohli and the Com­mit­tee of Ad­min­is­tra­tors (CoA) did not waste the pe­riod.

Kohli, who has been rested for the T20 se­ries, went a lit­tle too far by ask­ing the fan to leave the coun­try if he liked over­seas play­ers. His re­mark on his pro­mo­tional video boomeranged with twit­terati go­ing af­ter him, tak­ing ex­cep­tion to his mind­less re­ac­tion. He was quick to as­suage the feel­ings of the fans by ask­ing them chill out, mak­ing the re­mark sound like a mere wise­crack. He will surely be more thought­ful and care­ful in re­act­ing.

Some­one in the board gave the me­dia the graphic de­tails of the two-mem­ber CoA meet­ing with Kohli¸ Shas­tri, Ajinkya Ra­hane and Ro­hit Sharma dur­ing the Hy­der­abad ODI. It was clear that the idea was to tell the world that the ad­min­is­tra­tors have given ev­ery­thing the play­ers asked for and so their per­for­mance should be com­men­su­rate with their de­mands.

Kohli has an­other de­mand, keep­ing the fast bowlers go­ing to the World Cup off the In­dian Pre­mier League (IPL) and the board com­pen­sat­ing them. He doesn’t mind bats­men play­ing, though they are as vul­ner­a­ble in get­ting in­jured, if not tired like the bowlers. What about the fran­chises, will they ac­cept In­dia cap­tain’s re­quest? Ide­ally all should play the first half of the IPL and keep off the last few games.

The ad­min­is­tra­tors also gave Shas­tri a rap on his knuck­les, telling him to hold his tongue, leav­ing it to the peo­ple to judge whether the cur­rent team is the best trav­el­ling in the last 15 years, in­stead of him go­ing round say­ing how well it com­pares with the teams of the past. Shas­tri ap­par- ently clar­i­fied that he made the state­ment in the face of “our own me­dia putting the team down”.

There are many crit­ics of KohliShas­tri team and yet in­ter­est­ingly some of them pre­dict be­fore a ma­jor tour that In­dia have their best chance of beat­ing the op­po­nents, this time Aus­tralia, de­spite be­ing proved wrong both in South Africa and Eng­land.

The for­mer play­ers qual­ify their prophecy. If this In­dian team can’t beat Aus­tralia with the kind of at­tack they have and look­ing at the brit­tle bat­ting they are con­fronted with -- with­out Steve Smith and David Warner -- they will not get an­other op­por­tu­nity like this to beat them.

Sachin Ten­dulkar put it in per­spec­tive and, in the process seemed to be an­swer­ing Kohli and Shas­tri: “If you see the Aus­tralia teams in the past and com- pare them to this one, yes we have a very good chance,” adding “we have good fast bowlers, qual­ity spin­ners and good bat­ters.”

Kohli had rightly pointed out in Eng­land that if the team has to start the se­ries well, they can’t warm up into it, for­get­ting that he had said in South Africa that prac­tice matches were a waste of time!

In­dia start the tour of Aus­tralia with a three-match T20 se­ries and that leaves them with barely 10 days be­fore the first Test at the Gabba. They straight­away went into Tests in South Africa and in Eng­land they fin­ished the shorter for­mats first and now the cir­cle is com­plete, Tests and ODIs fol­low­ing T20s.

Shas­tri wanted two warm-up games down un­der and Cricket Aus­tralia had no ob­jec­tion. But, the board’s greed to pack with so many tours is also not help­ing the team as they fin­ish their Twenty20 se­ries with West Indies on Tues­day and it’s time for them to leave for Aus­tralia.

Those play­ing in the T20 will get to play only one warm-up game, a three-day match against Cricket Aus­tralia XI whereas Test spe­cial­ists Chetesh­war Pu­jara, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Ra­hane, Ravichan­dran Ash­win, Umesh Ya­dav, Hanuma Vi­hari, and Mo­ham­mad Shami will play for In­dia A in New Zealand in a four­day match.

Fi­nally, a de­bate over bowl­ing ac­tion, akin to re­verse sweep and switch-hit! Ut­tar Pradesh’s young left- arm spin­ner Shiva Singh, amus­ingly, has a pe­cu­liar style as he ro­tates 360 de­grees just be­fore de­liv­er­ing the ball. He did it in Vi­jay Hazare Tour­na­ment game and the um­pires had no prob­lem, but when he did it in the Un­der-23 C.K. Nayudu Tro­phy match against Ben­gal in Kolkata, the um­pire promptly called it a dead ball.

The um­pire sim­ply went by the rule book, and he is backed by one of the world’s best there is - Si­mon Taufel. The Aus­tralian is quoted as say­ing that if in the um­pire’s view the bowler’s act is to dis­tract the bats­man then he is jus­ti­fied to call it a dead ball.

Sur­pris­ingly, for­mer Eng­land cap­tain and a bats­man Michael Vaughan has no is­sues with Shiva’s ac­tion, but for­mer In­dia cap­tain Bis­han Singh Bedi, who never ap­proved the world’s high­est wicket-taker Mut­tiah Mu­ralitha­ran’s ac­tion, called the young­ster a “weirdo”.

The last of it has not been heard, though Shiva has ap­pealed to the board to clear his ac­tion. IANS CHEN­NAI: Hav­ing al­ready clinched the three-match rub­ber 2-0, In­dia will be look­ing for a clean sweep against the West Indies when the two sides face off in the fi­nal T20 In­ter­na­tional at the M.A. Chi­dambaram Sta­dium here on Sun­day.

How­ever, Chen­nai fans will miss their favourite “Thala” in for­mer In­dia skip­per Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoni, who has been dropped from the on­go­ing T20I se­ries and also the forth­com­ing T20I rub­ber in Aus­tralia later this month.

With the se­ries al­ready in In­dia’s kitty, af­ter con­vinc­ing wins in Kolkata and Luc­know, the team man­age­ment had de­cided to rest some of the key bowlers in pac­ers Umesh Ya­dav and Jasprit Bum­rah, and chi­na­man Kuldeep Ya­dav for the fi­nal match. In such a sce­nario, the home side would look to test their re­serve play­ers like Shreyas Iyer, Wash­ing­ton Sun­dar and the un­capped Shah­baz Nadeem ahead of the chal­leng­ing tour Down Un­der, later this month.

In­dia’s bat­ting de­part­ment will be spear­headed by skip­per Ro­hit Sharma, who struck a blis­ter­ing cen­tury to hand the hosts a com­fort­able 2-0 lead in the sec­ond game. Be­sides Sharma, his open­ing part­ner Shikhar Dhawan has also been amongst the runs, while the mid­dle or­der re­spon­si­bil­i­ties will be shoul­dered by the likes of Lokesh Rahul, Di­nesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant.

Bhu­vnesh­war Ku­mar will lead the pace at­tack that com­prises the rookie left- armer Khaleel Ahmed and the newly- added Sid­dharth Kaul. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see whether the team man­age­ment tweaks the spin de­part­ment com­pris­ing legspin­ner Yuzven­dra Cha­hal and left-armer Krunal Pandya, with Sun­dar and Nadeem still warm­ing the bench.

On the other hand, the West Indies will aim to fin­ish off on a high and are ex­pected to come out all guns blaz­ing for one fi­nal time in the tour. While the ab­sence of reg­u­lar open­ers -- Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis -- has been a set­back for them, the ex­pe­ri­enced mid­dle or­der com­pris­ing Kieron Pol­lard, Dar­ren Bravo and De­nesh Ramdin have flopped big time in the open­ing two matches.

Skip­per Car­los Brath­waite and the young Shim­ron Het­myer will also need to pull up their socks if the vis­i­tors want to put up a fight at Chep­auk. On the bowl­ing front, Oshane Thomas has waged a lone bat­tle so far as the other West In­dian bowlers have looked pedes­trian on most oc­ca­sions. IANS

IANS FILE PHOTO

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