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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

MCG - Mayank Agarwal makes debut - opens with Hanuma Vihari

I had posted on this interesting piece of statistics in Oct 2018  – Indian openers have made a solitary 100 opening stand while on tours of England, South Africa, Australia &  New Zealand (between 2009 – 2018) [England 28 innings – high 63; SA 16 innings – high 137; Australia 16 – 56 highest; New Zealand 10 – 73) – and we say – players succeed in teams, in tandem with partners.  At Chepauk I was thrilled to see Sunil Gavaskar walking out with Krishnamachari Srikkanth – and there was this pair -  Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan !

Back in 1983, when WI visited immediately after their loss in WC 1983 – it was unbeatable, fearsome team – the little master very strong in defence sunil Gavaskar was threatening not to open, having had various partners including Eknath Solkar, Farokh Engineer, Parthasarathi Sharma, Anshuman Gaekwad, Chetan Chauhan, Pranab Roy, Krish Srikkanth,Arun Lal, Ghulam Parker – to name a few.  Indian selectors were seriously searching for good openers – and Rajan Bala wrote – ‘who is to partner CS Sureshkumar’ – underlining that the TN Opener had the correct technique and in the absence for Sunil, Selectors should find someone who would open with CS Suraishkumar, who had many tons in Ranji.  ~  and today at Melbourne, India has an interesting combination of debutant Mayank Agarwal and .. .. Hanuma Vihari. 

To his credit, the makeshift opener Vihari scratched around for 66 balls made 8 and was out on 18.5 with score on 40. Sadly, that is the longest tenure for Indian opening pair since July 2011 in England / Australia / New Zealand / South Africa.  Today a  sluggish surface in the first hour quickened up just enough in the second to allow Pat Cummins to bounce out Hanuma Vihari, but the early use of Nathan Lyon and the posting of only one Australian slips fielder for much of the morning suggested that attritional cricket would again be the order of the day at the MCG.  Patience was required of both batsmen and bowlers, and intriguingly it was the allrounder Mitchell Marsh who gained the most challenging sideways movement for the debutant Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara.  In the luncheon interval, Harsha Bhogle was to ask, how many ‘aaa’s to put between this pitch description as ‘ f l a t’.  Poor M Vijay and KL Rahul, must be looking at this pitch and wondering why they never get such gifts.

There have been many a successful opening pairs like Hayden/Langer; Greenidge/Haynes; Cook/Strauss; Gibbs/Greame Smith; Imrul Kayes/ Tamil Iqbal !; Chetan Chauhan / Sunil Gavaskar and more .. India need to patiently wait for a decent pair – could it be Mayank Agarwal / Prithvi Shaw.

Cricinfo is a treasure-trove for statistics but it got this wrong – the debutant list as one could see on its web – only Mayank is making debut – not the rest. 

There have been reports of Cricket Australia planning to bring back Steve Smith and David Warner – meantime, comes this news piece.  Cameron Bancroft has confirmed for the first time that David Warner encouraged him to try to tamper with the ball in Cape Town with the tacit approval of the captain Steven Smith, leading to a scandal that saw all three banned from the game while Cricket Australia dealt with a host of cultural repercussions. The week after Smith revealed he had been aware of conversation between Warner and Bancroft about possible ball-tampering and stated "I don't want to know about it", thus allowing the events that followed to take place, Bancroft said that he had accepted the then vice-captain's advice because he "just wanted to fit in and feel valued" in the team.

"Dave [Warner] suggested to me to carry the action out on the ball given the situation we were in in the game and I didn't know any better," Bancroft told Fox Sports. "I didn't know any better because I just wanted to fit in and feel valued, really -- as simple as that. "The decision was based around my values, what I valued at the time and I valued fitting in … you hope that fitting in earns you respect and with that, I guess, there came a pretty big cost for the mistake. I would have gone to bed and I would have felt like I had let everybody down. I would have felt like I had let the team down. I would have left like I had hurt our chances to win the game of cricket. "I take no other responsibility but the responsibility I have on myself and my own actions because I am not a victim. I had a choice and I made a massive mistake and that is what is in my control."

Having been handed a nine-month ban by CA, as opposed to the one year penalties given to Warner and Smith, Bancroft is due to make his return to domestic ranks in the Big Bash League game between Perth Scorchers and Hobart Hurricanes in Launceston on December 30. In the intervening months he has worked to broaden himself, taking up yoga and reading widely in addition to the CA-imposed order to do community work and playing club cricket in The Northern Territory and also his home town of Perth.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Dec 2018.

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