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Won’t tinker much with playing XI: Virat

Indian captain hints at playing a similar team for final Test, hints at inclusion of Kuldeep Yadav in the side

There have been spells of showers here in Kandy with India managing just one full practice session before the start of the third and final Test. India were scheduled for an afternoon practice session, but due to specks of rains early in the morning, the team decided to call off their stint at the nets.

India captain Virat Kohli though was not too worried that the team didn’t get to practice on the eve of a Test. Instead, he saw it as a welcome rest for his team that had put in all the hard yards in the Test series so far. “You can say that we are certainly better placed to be able to afford a couple of days off. Yesterday we took an off voluntarily and today it just happened due to rain but the day before that we had a good practice,” Virat said. “Also, what you need to understand in places like Sri Lanka is that it is very hot and humid. People sometimes end up doing too much at practice and then maybe you don’t recover for a game. It might just be a good thing for those who needed more rest, especially the bowlers who have massive workload during Test matches.

“For us, it is more of a positive thing than a hindrance that we didn’t have practice a day before the game. We are in a good zone. Everyone is playing good cricket and everyone is bowling well. So, we feel absolutely comfortable going into the Test match even though we didn’t practice today.”

Though having sealed the series 2-0, Virat also hinted at not wanting to tinker with the playing eleven come the third Test. “We have to understand that to play consistent cricket you need to make sure that people are playing on a regular basis. Those who are performing and those who are doing well should continue in more games than not and to be a consistent side I think we need to have continuity as well. We want to play the same kind of cricket that we have and hopefully, retain the team that played the last game as much as we can. We are certainly not thinking of too many changes at all, especially in this format because you don’t want to start taking things for granted and lose that momentum. We are not thinking of drastic changes at this stage.”

Virat though seemed positive about the inclusion of Kuldeep Yadav in the playing eleven, especially with Ravindra Jadeja set to miss the Test. Kuldeep has been itching to be a part of the eleven ever since his inclusion in the side for the series and has been religiously making his way to the ground for every practice session. Yadav was seen in an intense bowling session on the day the team got a full stint at the nets. Keeping a close watch was head coach Ravi Shastri who later gave him a few words of advice. Virat too was all praise for the young Chinaman.

“A guy like Kuldeep, when you hand him the ball he is willing to bowl in any situation, willing to bowl with attacking fields, willing to throw the ball up towards the batsmen and he believes in his own ability and believes in deceiving the batsmen with the skill that he has. I think that is his biggest quality. He has proven himself in Dharamsala which was not such a spin friendly wicket. It was quite flat in the first 2-3 days of the Test match. He turned the game around for us. He has the ability, which is very rare to find. A Chinaman bowler is an x-factor in a team. I would say his confidence is his USP. He has a great chance of playing tomorrow and I wish him all the best.” 

Anand Subramaniam
Anand Subramaniam

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Dominant India U-19 take 2-0 lead

Left-arm spinner Anukul Roy takes four wickets as England U-19 suffer another big loss

England Under-19s suffered a chastening eight-wicket defeat by India in front of the Sky Sports cameras in Canterbury to leave them 2-0 down in the five-match Royal London One-Day Series against India.

As in the opening match of the series in Cardiff on Monday, England’s batting floundered against the Indian spinners, as they crumbled from 84 for one to 123 for seven.

Anukul Roy took four wickets for the second consecutive game with his slow-left-arm, and there were three for leg-spinner Rahul Chahar, and two for Abhishek Sharma, another left-armer.

The tourists cruised to victory with more than 16 of their 50 overs remaining, with Himanshu Rana, an 18-year-old opener from Haryana who has been struggling for runs on the tour, making 74 from 85 balls.

England made four changes from the team beaten in Cardiff. Harry Brook, who had originally been appointed captain for the series before being called back by Yorkshire for their Specsavers County Championship match against Essex, replaced Hampshire’s Felix Organ at number three, and also took over the captaincy from Surrey’s Will Jacks.

Essex seamer Ben Allison and Derbyshire off-spinner Hamidullah Qadri received their first England caps before the start from Graham Thorpe, the ECB’s lead batting coach, and Warwickshire seamer Henry Brookes also came into the team – with Nottinghamshire’s Liam Patterson-White, Worcestershire’s Adam Finch and Jack Plom of Essex dropping out.

Brook won the toss and England made a promising start after he chose to bat, with Durham opener Liam Trevaskis hitting two boundaries in the first over.

Trevaskis and Warwickshire’s Liam Banks both played India’s new-ball partners with comfort, sharing an opening stand of 48 in eight overs.

But as soon as India turned to their spinners, it was a very different story. Chahar made the first breakthrough, having Banks stumped for 23 from 28 balls with five boundaries. Brook’s initial response was impressive, as his first scoring shot as England captain was a six over mid-wicket off Chahar. He also drove two straight fours off the medium pace of Yash Thakur, as England reached 84 for one in the 16th over. But then Roy, picking up where he left off in Cardiff, claimed the key wicket of Trevaskis, bowled for 35 from 52 balls.

In Roy’s next over Brook top-edged a sweep to mid-wicket, and suddenly the pressure was on England’s middle order. Jacks swept one six in his 21 until he was also bowled by Roy, and Somerset’s Tom Banton fell in the same manner.

Kent wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson had a nightmare on his home county ground when he was run out for a duck off a free hit, and Brookes also failed to score as he was stumped off Sharma.

Somerset’s Tom Lammonby played sensibly and found some support first from Qadri in an eighth wicket stand of 19, and then from Nottinghamshire’s Jack Blatherwick in adding another 33 for the ninth wicket.

But Blatherwick and Allison fell to consecutive balls from Chahar to leave Lammonby unbeaten on 30 from 46 balls, and it was obvious from the start of India’s reply that England’s total was inadequate.

Rana and Prithvi Shaw put on 110 inside 17 overs before Jacks had Shaw snapped up by Banton at mid-wicket. Shubman Gill then joined Rana to make steady and untroubled progress towards the target, and leave England with much to ponder before the third game of the series in Hove on Saturday.

At least Allison claimed the consolation of his first England wicket, as with India needing only five for victory, Rana top-edged a pull to Blatherwick at deep square leg. The Essex youngster had earned commendable figures of one for 13 from his first five overs, dented only slightly when Shubman Gill clipped him for the winning boundary.

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