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Dhoni to play five bowlers at Oval

India skipper wants to strengthen bowling as Ishant declared fit for selection

With 1-2 down , MS Dhoni’s Team India face the herculean task of saving the series in the last Test, at the Oval. There are quite a few questions that need to be answered going into the fifth Test for India after their shocking batting collapse on the third day of the Manchester Test that led to an innings defeat.

Talking on the eve of the match, MS Dhoni said the issue has been discussed and addressed and that he is hoping for a better show at the Oval.
“We already have spoken about it but I really don’t like to speak about it in the press conference,” Dhoni said. “It’s more of a team environment thing. We have addressed that.

“It was not just that game. In the games before that as well we have lost some wickets in very short span of time. It is not really about addressing it but more about soaking it up, learning from the last game and making sure that we don’t repeat those mistakes.”

A crucial reason for India’s batting failures on this tour has been the lack of runs from the bat of their middle-order lynchpin, Virat Kohli. Dhoni said it is important for him to maintain his self belief and not lose confidence.

“It is important for him to remain positive. If he can score runs in Australia or South Africa, there’s no reason why he can’t score runs in English conditions,” Dhoni said of Virat.

“You need to assess what you are doing differently or what bowlers are making you do differently. It’s always that cat and mouse game between batsmen and bowlers. If a bowler wants you to do a particular thing, as a batsman you would like to avoid it. As a batsman you would want him to bowl at your areas.

“Virat is batting well but not with the desired amount of runs. But he has been middling the ball well in the nets and we have seen glimpses of that in the few Test innings that he has played here. He started off well but got a good delivery and got out. He needs to back himself and make sure that he is not getting into areas where is vulnerable,” Dhoni said.

While his ace batsmen have been short on runs, Dhoni himself played a very gritty knock in first innings of the Old Trafford Test. His 71-run knock was the perfect testimony of how one can overcome technical deficiencies with adaptability.

Dhoni said he is aware of the fact that he doesn’t have the best Test batting technique and so he works on making the most of what he does have.

“I might be one of the batsmen with the most horrible techniques when it comes to Test cricket,” Dhoni said in a charming self deprecating way. “It’s all about adjustment for me.

“People often speak about technique, but you also must realise that we are coming from a place where we play 70-80 per cent our cricket and there we develop our cricket.

“The problem I was facing was that what I was doing the nets, I wasn’t able to take it to the middle. That’s the big step you have to take. I batted well in the last two games. If I can continue to do that in this game I would be happy.

“For me, it’s not only about runs but also about how I bat. It is difficult to change technique all of a sudden. We all have our own technique and we need to have confidence in our technique. Still you need to be aware of the limitations of the technique that you have.

Looking at the next Test, Dhoni said it would be important not to think about it as a do-or-die match with the series at stake. He rather wants his team to concentrate on winning a single session at one time.

“We know if we win this match what impact it will have on the series. But let’s not look at the series because it becomes like a long term goal,” Dhoni said. “We should look at small goals, from the start of the Test match tomorrow and break it up into sessions.

“If you win more sessions than the opposition and if you don’t do really badly in the sessions that you have lost, you will end up wining the Test match. That is the priority for us.”

Talking about his bowling combination for the Oval Test, Dhoni said he would go with five bowlers. He also refuted any suggestion of resting Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has been shouldering a large chunk of the bowling responsibilities among the pacers.

“He has managed the workload quite well so far,” Dhoni said of Bhuvi. “He has a few niggles here and there but he is always close to 80 percent fit. Also, not to forget the amount of bowling he has done along with the batting and fielding.

“So it’s good that he is shaping up well. He is also someone who we cannot afford to rest at this point in the series. So it is an important game for us and hopefully he will turn up fit for the game,” Dhoni said.

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Report: England vs India (Women), Test - Day 1

Bowlers rule on first day as both line-ups crumble

The day belonged to bowlers at Sir Paul Getty’s ground as 16 wickets fell on the first day of the Test match between England and India women. India were trailing by five runs with four wickets in hand after the N Niranjana-led attack bundled England out for a measly 92 on Day 1 of the four-day game.

The pacer dealt early blows to reduce the hosts on 28/3 at the end of 14 overs after Mithali Raj opted to field at Wormsley.

Bowling in tandem the Indian bowling attack skittled the opposition out in 41.2 overs as Niranjana finished with a four-wicket haul. Jenny Gunn then led the England attack to turn the tables on India and leave the match poised at stumps with India on 87/6. Gunn too finished with four wickets at the end of day’s play.

The Indian openers Thirush Kamini and Smriti Mandhana put together 40 runs until Jenny Gunn ended the stand and triggered a collapse. She induced an edge off Kamini to the wicketkeeper and Kate Cross bowled Poonam Raut for a duck four runs later. Gunn then claimed Mandhana and Raj of her successive overs to leave the visitors struggling on 49/4. Anya Shrubsole trapped K Jain leg-before for naught to leave the match hanging in balance. And 14-runs later Harmanpreet Kaur was Gunn’s fourth wicket.

However, Jhulan Goswami (13*) and Niranjana (13*) batted watchfully to take India to stumps without further lapses.

Earlier, Niranjana running in with the new ball dealt the first blow in the third over to remove Heather Knight with just one run on the board. 19 runs later she had Lauren Winfield edge to the wicketkeeper and in her next trapped Charlotte Edwards lbw. Tammy Beaumont was the next to be sent back after being adjudged leg before off Shikha Pandey. The hosts did not recover from the early blows and lost wickets in a rush. Lydia Greenway was Niranjana’s next scalp leaving England on 49/5.

Next to return to the pavilion was Sarah Taylor. England’s top-scorer in the innings, the wicketkeeper-bat was sent back by Jhulan Goswami for 30. A run later, S Sharma claimed Natalie Sciver and Anya Shrubsole in the same over. Ekta Bisht then followed up with the wicket of Sonia Odedra while Pandey ran out Kate Cross to wrap-up the England innings.

Brief scores:


Day 1: England 1st inn 92 all out in 41.2 overs (S Taylor 30, N Niranjana 4/19, S Sharma 2/12); India 1st inn 87/6 in 47 overs (J Goswami 13*, N Niranjana 13*, J Gunn 4/13)