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Friday, January 17, 2020

Rahul's day out ! ~ Bapu Nadkarni is no more - India wins at Rajkot

After MSK Prasad another Wicketkeeper from Andhra came close to representing India.  India  called up Andhra wicketkeeper-batsman Kona Srikar Bharat as cover for the injured Rishabh Pant, just before the second ODI in Rajkot today.  KL Rahul kept wickets, did well too behind the stumps with a classy stumping of Aaron Finch.  He scored so well earlier.    Bharat  joined the squad and was training with the team ahead of the toss.

The whole of yesterday was spent in social media on what is happening to MS Dhoni – ‘is he out ?’  as BCCI dropped him from Central list – this removal - from earning INR 5 crore a year to nothing - led to fresh speculation around Dhoni's playing future.  As if to tease them a little more, he trained with the Jharkhand Ranji Trophy team the same day in Ranchi. Expectedly, it was news that Dhoni was formally denied a retainer with the BCCI, but it really doesn't change where Dhoni stands vis-à-vis Indian cricket.

For those following Indian Cricket for ages, sad news that Bapu Nadkarni, the former India allrounder known for his extreme economy with the ball, has died aged 86. Nadkarni, who made his India debut in  1955, played 41 Test matches, scoring 1414 runs and taking 88 wickets at 29.07. The statistic that defined him, though, was his economy rate of 1.67, the second-best in history among all bowlers with 50 or more Test wickets. Nadkarni took four Test-match five-fors with his left-arm spin, including a match-winning 6 for 43 in Wellington, during India's historic tour of New Zealand in 1967-68, when they won their first-ever overseas series. His most famous performance, however, included no wickets. At the Corporation Stadium in Chennai  in Jan 1964, Nadkarni finished with figures of 32-27-5-0 in England's first innings, bowling 21 successive maidens (and 21.5 scoreless overs in a row) along the way. It remains the most economical spell of 60 or more balls in Test cricket.

Away, South Africa's frustrations on the second afternoon at Port Elizabeth were exacerbated by a bizarre incident towards the end of England's first innings, when Joe Root was permitted to withdraw his team's declaration after an umpiring error. 

The incident occurred in the 149th  over of England's innings, after the apparent dismissal of Mark Wood who was caught at mid-on off the bowling of Kagiso Rabada. Root waved his batsmen in with the score of 467 for 9, only to change his decision when Rabada's delivery was shown by the TV umpire to have been a no-ball. England were handed the extra run as the players returned to the middle, and went on to add a further 31 runs in 20 deliveries, before Wood was this time legally dismissed for 42, leaving Ollie Pope unbeaten on 135. According to Law 15.3, pertaining to declaration and forfeitures, a captain's decision "cannot be changed" once he has notified the opposing captain and the umpires.

Proteas paceman Kagiso Rabada has been suspended for one Test match following his celebration when he dismissed England captain Joe Root on day one of the third Test in Port Elizabeth.  Rabada was found guilty of breaching the ICC's Code of Conduct for "using language, actions or gestures which disparage or which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batter upon his or her dismissal during an international match". He was fined 15 per cent of his match fee and received one demerit point, taking his tally to four demerit points in the past 24 months, which is enough to see the right-armer miss one Test match. He will now miss the fourth Test in Johannesburg. Rabada bowled Root for 27 on day one at St George's Park with a delivery that kept low and cannoned into off stump. He was then mobbed by his teammates as he screamed in celebration right next to Root as the England captain began his walk off the ground. It's the second time the 24-year-old has been suspended for a Test match for disciplinary reasons. He missed the Trent Bridge Test on South Africa's 2017 Test tour of England having been penalised for incidents against Sri Lanka in February 2017 and the preceding Test at Lord's.

Back home, India drew blood and bounced back at Rajkot.  Steve Smith's highest ODI score in three years couldn't save Australia from their first loss of the summer, as India sealed a 36-run victory.  After Adam Zampa took three wickets and India scored an imposing 6-340, Smith scored 98 and Marnus Labuschagne hit 46 as Australia were bowled out in the last over for 304.  For the second series in a row, India stayed alive having fallen 1-0 behind and lost the toss in the second.  India began the series looking to find space to squeeze KL Rahul in the top order. Instead, batting at No. 5 with that experiment lasting only one match, Rahul responded with a 52-ball 80 to take India to 340 after they threatened to end up with little over 300 despite fifties from Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli.

India lost wickets in two braces, which reduced them to 198 for 3 and 280 for 5, but Rahul played a part in pulling India out of strife on both occasions. If it was Adam Zampa's analysis of 3 for 50 kept India in check, India's spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav rocked Australia in the middle overs with two big wickets each. Jadeja kept India in the contest with tight overs and wickets of Aaron Finch and Marnus Labuschagne, and Yadav ended the chase with the strikes of Steven Smith and Alex Carey in the same over.  Smith missed out on a hundred by two runs. He wasn't the only man to fall in the 90s. Like the openers did in the must-win match against West Indies, it was Dhawan who made India's intent clear with a 90-ball 96.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Jan 2020.

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