Team India keen to bounce back
All eyes are on Sehwag
Need hunger to win: Kumble
‘Current team better than 2005 Ashes winning team’
Gavaskar slams India’s ‘schoolboys’ team
‘Australia will take time to get back to the top’
Bhullar, Lahiri close to qualifying for World Cup
Northampton, August 4
Even as the injuries and batting failures have hit India hard, Dhoni's men are not overlooking a few positives from the two defeats at Lord's and Trent Bridge. "We have to win matches," Praveen Kumar, who has so far taken 13 wickets from two Tests at an average of 26.53, said.
Indians are not ready to get caught in the swirl of negatives floating around them and are working on strengthening their belief in themselves, which alone could help them turn the tide in their favour. They are keen to draw confidence from the fact that Sachin Tendulkar was not well at Lord's, Gautam Gambhir was laid low by an elbow injury, while Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman did little wrong in the last two Tests.
Even Suresh Raina showed a glimpse of his ability. There is not a single pacer one can find fault with, even though off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has failed miserably and ‘Bhajji bashing’ started almost immediately.
Harbhajan, who is now ruled out of the Test series due to an abdominal strain, was being viewed as an unimaginative bowler and as somebody who wouldn't mind being injured at this stage of his career.
The off-spinner bowled just 13.4 overs in the second Test and has been woefully out of form in the series. The tweaker grabbed one for 69 in the second Test after his one for 218 in the first at Lord's. But the fact that even Graeme Swann equally struggled on seamers' strip, has conveniently been brushed under the carpet.
“We are very good at running down our own men. You break this team now and you would pay the price in Australia later this year,” said a former India captain who is now a commentator. — PTI
Mumbai, August 4
The dashing opener has been sidelined since undergoing shoulder surgery in May, keeping the 32-year-old out of the tour of the West Indies and India's first two Tests against England.
India, 2-0 down in the four-match series, had looked nothing like the world's number one-ranked team in the Lord's and Trent Bridge Tests, but that could change with the return of the explosive right-hander, according to Anshuman Gaekwad.
"It is almost going to be like a new series. To have Sehwag and (Gautam) Gambhir back... It will give a lot of confidence to the team," the former India international and coach said.
Sehwag's opening partner Gambhir injured his elbow while fielding at Lord's and missed the 319-run defeat at Trent Bridge, but is likely to return to the starting lineup for the third Test beginning on August 10 at Edgbaston in Birmingham. The injuries to the top order forced India to tinker with the batting lineup, placing Rahul Dravid in a makeshift opener's role and VVS Laxman up the order at number three.
"In a Test match, it is of utmost necessity to have a good start. Their return will be a big relief for the captain and the team," emphasised the former India opener, who played 40 Test matches from 1975-85.
Sehwag has 22 hundreds in 87 Test appearances, but it is his strike rate of almost 82 runs per 100 deliveries that make him one of the most intimidating batsmen in cricket. Former captain Ajit Wadekar said Sehwag's return would ease the pressure on India's "Big Three" - Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Laxman. — Reuters
New Delhi, August 4
The tourists, struggling with form and fitness problems, currently trail 2-0 in the series and will lose their number-one Test ranking if they suffer one more defeat.
Injuries to key players Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh also added to their woes in the last two Tests at Lord's and Trent Bridge.
Hard-hitting opener Sehwag is now set to return for the last two matches, while Gambhir and Zaheer are expected to be fit for the third Test starting at Edgbaston on August 10.
"I am hoping Zaheer, and everyone else in the squad, will be 100 per cent fit. Sehwag will help for obvious reasons, so I am confident this team can bounce back," Kumble wrote in a newspaper.
"They (India) are capable of winning the next Test, but they have to get that hunger and intent back.
"The 10-day break, as well as the fact that Sehwag and Gambhir are coming in, will definitely help because the batting will look more settled."
However off-spinner Harbhajan and all-rounder Yuvraj were on Wednesday ruled out for the rest of the Test series.
Kumble, the world's third-highest wicket-taker in Tests with 619 scalps behind Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and Shane Warne (708), said India had the ability to strike back.
"The desperation and hunger which has been the hallmark of this team was missing in the last two Tests. They will have to get that hunger back. If that comes in, the rest of it falls in place because the ability is there," he wrote.
"The way we lost hurt more than the loss itself. These are the same players who have taken Indian cricket to such great heights, and they realise what the issues are."
India lost the first Test by 196 runs and the second by 319 runs.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar also said Sehwag's return would be a big boost for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team.
"Sehwag joins the team and even if he fails in the two-day warm-up game (starting at Northampton on Friday) he must play in the next Test," Gavaskar said.
"He can lift this team up and can just be the tonic this team needs. Yes, India are two down but a hurricane start from the Delhi dasher (Sehwag) can help turn it around."
Sehwag, known for dominating bowling with his brilliant strokeplay, has scored 7,694 runs in 87 Tests with 22 centuries. — AFP
London, August 4
Flintoff, who was the star of the 2005 Ashes victory that is arguably England's greatest achievement in recent times, said he believes that present bunch is much superior in almost every department of the game.
"This is a better side than the one we had in 2005. The strength of it and the depth of it is incredible," Flintoff said.
Stating that all the eleven players who were a part of the 2005 Ashes victorious team never played together again, Flintoff said it was unfortunate that many cricketers of that group got injured or announced retirement.
"In 2005 we had 11 players who had a memorable few weeks and played at their best for a period, but we never played together again. Colly (( Paul Collingwood)) came in for the last one, but essentially it was just a team.
"We had a few big wins before 2005, but it was all about peaking for that series and we did, but we couldn't sustain it due to injuries and retirements," he said.
The former England skipper, whose career was cut short by injury after the Ashes win of 2009, said that the depth of the present English side is the strongest ever.
"This side have a squad and they are so strong. We've seen them replace players without blinking and it has made no difference to the performance. They are the best in the world already. Not just in ranking but also in strength. They have got everything. I don't see why they can't dominate for a long time," Flintoff said.
He also said that there were no weak links and they should be able to dominate world cricket for a next few years.
"They have strong enough players do it. Australia and West Indies did it and England should be able to do it for next few years. There are no weak links," the 33-year-old said.
"They are playing with a confidence and a swagger that goes with being the best. They've got every department covered. It is a fantastic group of players that clearly work very hard and they enjoy what they're doing," he added. — PTI
New Delhi, August 4
"India were totally outplayed by England in the second Test so much so that it looked like a contest between a professional team and a schoolboys team," the former opener wrote in a newspaper.
"The batting has failed to get to 300 in four innings and the bowling in both Tests has faded away after a bright beginning."
India trail 2-0 in the four-Test series following a 196-run defeat in the first match at Lord's and a 319-run loss in the second at Trent Bridge.
Drawn games in the last two matches will enable England to dethrone Mahendra Singh Dhoni's Indians as the top-ranked Test team.
"India's lower order is just not technically good enough, and if a player knows he is technically struggling then mentally too he stops fighting," wrote Gavaskar, the first batsman to score 10,000 Test runs.
"Not that the top order has shown any great technique, especially the youngsters who plunder millions of runs on Indian pitches getting onto the front foot and then suddenly find that when it comes to overseas pitches and the quicker bowlers, they just don't know how to play off the back foot."
Rahul Dravid has looked the best Indian batsman on the tour with two hundreds, while VVS Laxman has made two half-centuries and Sachin Tendulkar one.
"The guys scoring the runs are those who have honed their technique on the longer version of the game," Gavaskar wrote.
"Those others who are destroyers of bowling where the ball does not come above the waist are finding how tough Test cricket is.
"There will be talk about preparation etc, but even if this Indian team had played five first-class games before the Test series they would have struggled as the technique is not there."
India played just one warm-up match before the Test series. The third Test begins at Edgbaston on August 10.
Virender Sehwag has now joined the team and will open the batting in the third test with Gambhir. — AFP
Sydney, August 4
Australia are fifth in the rankings after the humiliating Ashes defeat at the turn of the year and take on the fourth-placed Sri Lankans in three tests starting at the end of the month after a one-day series.
Clarke, speaking before boarding the plane for his first tour in charge of the side, said he would like to promise Australian cricket fans no more pain, but conceded that any improvement would be hard-earned.
"I really hope we can turn things around straight away (but) I think it is going to take time for us to work our way back up the rankings," Clarke told reporters at Sydney airport. "I'm confident with the talent we have, not just in our squad but around domestic cricket, if we keep the same attitude as we've had over the last few months with our training and our dedication, I can see us having some success."
The 30-year-old faces a difficult introduction to test captaincy with tours of Sri Lanka and South Africa followed by a home series against New Zealand and then India, who are battling it out for number one status with England.
"We're certainly not blinded by the fact we have two of the best teams in the world in their own conditions coming up in Sri Lanka and South Africa, so it's going to be a tough start for us," he said. "But it's a good test for us to see where we're at, and if we can have some success against both these teams, playing away from home, I think that will give us some real confidence coming to the summer to play against India."
Four uncapped players boarded the plane for Colombo on Thursday and Clarke admitted he had never met off spinner Nathan Lyon, although he had received ‘great reports’ about the 23-year-old's bowling on an Australia A tour of Zimbabwe. — Reuters
Malaysia, August 4
Lying fifth after the first day, Bhullar and Lahiri, playing the World Cup qualifying for the first time, shot a solid 69 on a difficult day for scoring when just four teams shot under par. It moved the Indians to 136 and three behind the leaders, Mardan Mamat and Lam Chih Bing of Singapore, who added a 70 to their first round 63 at the Seri Selangor Golf Club.
"You always walk away thinking you could do better. Today was one of those rounds," said Lahiri. — PTI
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