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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Ravi Ashwin dropped ! for North Sound Test

There was a time [1970s & 80s] when teams would be afraid of touring the Caribbean islands – they would return battered and bruised and some player’s career might end unceremoniously .. ..

The tropical islands of Antigua and Barbuda are located in the heart of the Caribbean about a thousand miles to the east of Jamaica and half that distance from Trinidad on the coast of South America.  The island of Antigua was born out of the sea by a volcano about 30 million years ago.  The highest point of Antigua is 1,319 ft in the south-west and is called Boggy Peak.  Barbuda became separated from Antigua by about 28 miles, when the sea-levels of the world rose considerably at about 10,000 BC. Today parts of Barbuda are geologically flooded to form interesting lagoons. Here may be seen the largest breeding and nesting colony of the Magnificent Frigate Bird in the world. We are reading about Antigua as India is playing there at North Sound, in ground named after Sir Viv Richards !

Put into bat, India is struggling straightaway – and for me – the pain is dropping of Ravi Ashwin – perhaps the greatest spinner for India in all the 3 formats, he was sidelined from T20 [52 wickets in 46 matches] – then from One dayers [150 wickets in 109 innings] – the biggest acclaim is he has been the fastest to 200 / 300 club and has 342 test wickets in 122 innings (65 tests) – 26 / 5 fors & 7 times 10 wickets in a match ..   and a player of his calibre is dropped !! – sounds insane !

India first played in West Indies in 1953 and in the 1st test at Port of Spain, Trinidad in Jan 1953 -  Indian line-up read : Vinoo Mankad, Madhav Apte, GS Ramchand, Vijay Hazare (Capt), Polly Umrigar,  Dattu Phadkar, DK Gaekwad, RH Shodhan, CV Gadkari, PG Joshi and Subash Gupte .. .. how many of them are known to you !  ..  in 12 tours thus far – India has played 50 tests, winning 7, losing 7 and 26 draws !

Indian mobile internet company One97 Communications, whose flagship brand is e-commerce giant Paytm, has won the right to continue as Indian cricket's title sponsor in both international (home season) and domestic cricket. The company won the bid for the four-year cycle stretching from September 2019 to 2023 for INR 326.80 cr (USD 45.8m approx). Paytm, which had bagged the title sponsorship for the first time in 2015, now placed a winning bid of INR 3.8 crore (USD 530,000 approx) per match, which was around 58% more than what it had paid four years ago.

At North Sound today, West Indies captain Jason Holder won the toss and elected to bowl -  the toss was delayed by half an hour due to rain and wet outfield. The resulting damp conditions would not have affected India's plans, captain Virat Kohli implied, when he said he would have batted first anyway. Only 15 minutes of play was lost.  West Indies stuck to their preferred combination of four fast bowlers, with Miguel Cummins coming back into the XI to accompany Holder, Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel. Right-hand batsman Shamarh Brooks was handed an international debut. He replaced Shane Dowrich, with Shai Hope taking over as designated wicketkeeper for the third time in his career. The much touted debut of big burly Rakheem Cornwall did not happen.

India went in with four frontline bowlers, choosing Ravindra Jadeja as their spinner ahead of R Ashwin who was Man of the Series on India's last Caribbean tour. Rishabh Pant retained his place ahead of Wriddhiman Saha as the wicketkeeper, while Hanuma Vihari, who offers a fifth-bowling option, was picked ahead of Rohit Sharma. KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal were picked to open.

To those who are still interested, in that 1st Test at Port of Spain in Jan 1953, India made a healthy 417 & 294 – drew with WI who made 438 & 142/0.  Bruce Pairaudeau, Alfie Binnus, Frank King made their debut, while Chandarasekhar Gadkari made his debut for India.   Madhav Apte (64) and Polly Umrigar (130) starred for India; for WI Pairarudeau made 115, Sir Everton Weekes 207 while Subhash Gupte took 7 for 162.  In the 2nd Dattu Phadkar & Polly Umrigar made 50s.

The debutant Chandrasekhar Gadkari was an attacking right handed batsman and a brilliant fielder, whose appearances were rather limited due to his duties as an army officer. He toured West Indies in 1953 and Pakistan in 1955.  In the fourth Test at Georgetown, Gadkari going in at No 9 hit a defiant 50 not out to push India, 64 for 5 at one stage, to a total of 262. He however bagged a pair in the next Test.  Nana Joshi was the wicket keeper.  During those days, `Nana' Joshi and Naren Tamhane battled it out for the stumper's slot in the Indian team.

I am at a loss to understand that they could drop ‘Ashwin’ too !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Aug 2019.

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