Praises Pant, Ashwin, and Vihari for chipping in ‘for the team’s cause’ amid raft of injury concerns
To Ajinkya Rahane, who remains unbeaten as India’s Test captain thanks to the amazing rearguard to bat out 131 overs in the fourth innings of the SCG Test, the draw is as good as a win. India had to fight great odds as they started with an already depleted side but then Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin sustained injuries during the Test.
“For me this is as good as winning a Test match,” Rahane said. “When you come abroad and play a match like this, it was really special. Credit to [Hanuma] Vihari, [R] Ashwin, the way he batted, [Cheteshwar] Pujara, Rohit [Sharma] at the start and also Rishabh [Pant]. I think everyone chipped in for the team’s cause but credit to those two guys who batted almost two-and-a-half house till the end.”
In the end, with five wickets still in hand, the match might not have reached the thrilling crescendo some of the great Tests do, but Rahane said the afterglow of this draw will be bright. “I am extremely proud of the way we played and I think the whole nation would be proud of us with the way we have played after Adelaide,” Rahane said. “Melbourne and today, these were different games, we made a good
comeback with a win.
“If we have to talk about today, Australia was dominating in the first innings but from 200 for 2, they were all out for 330. Credit goes to our bowling unit for taking the last eight wickets in 130-odd runs. Obviously they batted well in the second innings but I think today will end up being one of the most memorable days in Indian cricket. Perhaps we cannot get the magnitude of today’s achievement right away but possibly after the series we will realise it.
“It was a special day for me as a captain. I believe that we cannot really control the result but it’s imperative to fight till the end. That’s the main thing I’ve learnt in cricket, to keep fighting till the end. This Test match was almost similar. That’s why the result is as good as a win for us. When we play overseas and save such a match, it’s a special feeling and I am proud of everyone, the players and the management.”
One of the moves Rahane made as captain was to promote Pant ahead of Vihari to partner with Pujara. Rahane said it put a right-left combination and also split two batsmen who rely more on defence. “About Rishabh’s batting number, we discussed and had that strategy and that paid off but credit to him,” Rahane said. “Going out there at No. 5 – the captain or the team management can make strategies – but in the end it’s up to that individual to actually go out there and deliver for your team and Rishabh did that for us. The way he counter-attacked, the way he actually managed his innings throughout the day was really good to see.
“About his character, we know that he can actually win games for us from any situation. We have that belief in any him. I think he is improving day by day as a cricketer, which is a very good sign.”
Vihari, who batted at No. 6 because of the move, ended up injuring his hamstring but batted out 161 balls to see India through to safety. “We knew Vihari was batting well throughout the last three Test matches,” Rahane said. “Unfortunately he couldn’t get those big scores. Today, we all saw a special knock. I thought his knock was more special than his hundred. The way he batted after getting injured, to show that motivation, that hunger, to hang in there for your team was really good and that’s what we want from each and every individual.
“To show that character on the field, because it’s all about what the team wants. Credit to him, the way he handled himself. There was pressure, yes, but the way he managed his batting, his injury, it was really special to see.”
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
IPL 2021 to kick off on April 9, will be played across Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata
The tournament will be played behind closed doors “to begin with”, and all games will be at neutral venues during the league phase
IPL 2021 will be played in India from April 9, across six cities: Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.
The tournament will be played behind closed doors “to begin with”, and all games will be at neutral venues during the league phase.
More to follow…
England complete 3-0 sweep as New Zealand tumble for 96
Brunt strikes twice in first over as England defend 128 with ease
England women 128 for 9 (Wilson 31*, Dunkley 26, Devine 3-30) beat New Zealand women 96 (Satterthwaite 25, Villers 3-10, Brunt 2-19)
England fast bowler Katherine Brunt led the way in a commanding bowling performance in Wellington, as her team comprehensively beat New Zealand by 32 runs to complete a 3-0 series sweep.
Six different England players got among the wickets, as New Zealand, chasing 129 for a consolation victory, failed to get any sort of momentum going, eventually being dismissed for 96 in 18 overs.
The hosts were pegged back very early in the chase, as Brunt trapped the openers Sophie Devine and Hayley Jensen lbw for ducks in the first over. Amy Satterthwaite at No.3 provided a brief resistance, top-scoring with 25, but once she was dismissed by Sarah Glen in the eighth over, New Zealand withered away, losing at least one wicket each over till the 13th. Legspinner Mady Villiers struck three times in the space of 10 deliveries to reduce the hosts to 60 for 8, before Sophie Ecclestone and Natalie Sciver mopped up the tail to seal the win.
England had earlier recovered from a slow start to post 128 for 9, thanks largely to Fran Wilson‘s unbeaten 23-ball 31, while Sophie Dunkley chipped in with 26. For New Zealand, Devine was the pick of the bowlers, ending with figures of 4-0-30-3.
New Zealand vs Australia, 5th T20I, 2020-21
Big-name players will return but some key areas will continue to provoke debate when Australia resume playing
Australia fought back from 2-0 down to square the series against New Zealand before suffering a heavy loss in the decider. The squad was missing at least four players who will be inked into the T20 World Cup squad, in theory given an opportunity to assess the wider options available. With the team now facing a lengthy break, what can be gleaned from the five matches?
Wade the frontrunner, but where does the keeper bat?
However this series had played out there would have been questions remaining afterwards because of the names missing, especially so at the top of the order. David Warner will return and open with Aaron Finch – that’s probably the easy bit – but at the moment it appears Australia want their gloveman in the top order as well and that’s going to be a squeeze with Steven Smith also to fit in. Matthew Wade had the gloves throughout the series and in the last match slotted in at No. 3 having previously opened and produced his best knock of the five games. Josh Philippe played two very good innings in his debut series – and may well be the man for the 2022 T20 World Cup – but for now Wade looks to have the running. With the bat he may yet be used in a floating capacity both because of his experience and the fact that he’s a left hander.
This has been a perennial debate around Australia’s T20 side. Given Ashton Turner wasn’t tried in the series before returning home early for the birth of his child it would appear to be between Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Marsh (it’s tricky to see how both play when all the batsmen are available). Stoinis played one standout innings – the 78 off 37 balls that almost stole the game in Dunedin – and it could be his spot to lose although, like so many in this line-up, his best work domestically comes at the top of the order and at times he can still soak up too many dots. Marsh’s best innings came when batting at No. 4 in the first match, albeit in a forlorn cause, and in three of matches found himself down at No. 7 below Ashton Agar in an attempt to split up the left and right handers. He also didn’t bowl in the series following another season of injury. Daniel Sams showed what he is capable of with 41 off 15 balls in Dunedin, but the feeling is he has to compete as one of the five bowlers. Agar, whose role with the ball is vital, has yet to convince he can quite hold the batting position needed of him.
It can’t all be on Maxwell
Related to the above is the fact that it still feels as though too much of how the middle order performs (in whatever order they bat) rests on the brilliance of Glenn Maxwell. It came off spectacularly in the third game when he had the ideal mix of a platform to work with and time left in the innings as he hammered 70 off 31 balls. Either side of that he made 23 runs in four innings and Australia need to have the ability to soak up those sorts of days more easily.
Pace-bowling pecking order
Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins will be locked into the side which probably leaves room for one more frontline quick in the XI. It could well be a horses-for-courses approach depending on conditions and opposition. The possibility of larger World Cup squad due to Covid-19 protocols also means the tough calls may not need to be made at the outset. Riley Meredith‘s first appearances for Australia certainly caught the eye, twice beating Kane Williamson for pace to win lbw appeals, and his development at the IPL (if he plays) will be watched with interest. Kane Richardson remains a hugely versatile performer and perhaps the most dependable behind the big two. Jhye Richardson, on his international comeback, showed glimpses of the late swing that make him so dangerous. Does Josh Hazlewood come into the mix as well?
Did Australia try enough?
During the series both Finch and coach Andrew McDonald spoke of the valuable “information gathering” that had gone on even if, from the outside, it did not look like much was changing pointing to things like altering batting orders and Adam Zampa bowling more Powerplay overs. There was only one personnel change in the five games: Meredith replacing Sams after the first two matches. In truth, the series finishes with largely the same questions as it started. Five of the squad who were there the end – D’Arcy Short, Ben McDermott, Andrew Tye, Jason Behrendorff and Tanveer Sangha – did not get a game although so many extra players wouldn’t have been on tour under normal circumstances.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
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