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There weren't too many Indians who could remember the 2011 tour to England fondly, but Praveen Kumar, who was thrust with the mantle of leading the bowling, responded by becoming the team's top wicket-taker. Speaking to Saneep Dwivedi, of the Indian Express, he explains how English conditions might not necessarily remain batting-friendly, even if they start out so, and the importance of having specific plans, like the one that almost worked on Kevin Pietersen.
"So I started with a series of balls that moved away from the off stump and this was followed by an in-coming effort ball on the legs. And all through the plan Dhoni had placed Rahulbhai (Rahul Dravid) as the leg-slip. Pietersen fell for the plan. After being starved of his favourite shot, he flicked the faster in-coming ball," he says before revealing the anti-climax end. "The ball fell just short of Rahulbhai. Had it travelled a bit more we could have got a big wicket." Pietersen, on 49 at that point, went on to score a double hundred.
Cheteshwar Pujara has borne the tag of being the next Rahul Dravid for the better part of his Test career. The similarity in temperement is apparent and their fondness for playing the long innings is another unifying factor. Shirin Sadikot of bcci.tv asks Pujara how his technique compares against his predecessor's.
I think his square drive was much better than mine is right now, mainly because he could play that shot even on the front-foot. I am good at playing the square drive on the back-foot but I haven't tried doing it on the front-foot. It's about picking the swing and the length early on. You really need to be good at it to play the square drive on the front-foot because otherwise it puts your wicket at risk. These are the shots you try out in the shorter formats rather than in Tests. I have tried it out in the Ranji Trophy but not at the Test level, where the ball comes at a higher pace and the wickets have more bounce. It's better to play it on the back-foot.
England's hopes of a new era were struck down in Headingley by a young and hungry Sri Lanka. As much praise as Angelo Mathews and his side deserves, the hosts did not do themselves justice both in terms of the cricket they played and the tactics they used. Mike Selvey, in the Guardian, casts the magnifying glass on the captain Alastair Cook and suggests he might be trying too hard to change himself and the process if proving to be detrimental.
If Cook were to score runs in the kind of quantity he once managed, then that would underpin the innings, with others feeding from it, and leadership would seem easier. It does appear, however, that he might be placing too much emphasis on being in the vanguard, perhaps trying to be something he is not, rather than being a little more selfish in that regard and thinking primarily about his own game. The point has not yet been reached where either Cook or his employer should be considering whether his position as Test captain is appropriate for both the team benefit and his own but it will be under discussion.
Bowlers are faced with steep tasks in this age of Twenty20 cricket. Thick edges fly to the boundary, impropable shots are perfected with each passing day and the challenge of bowling in the final five overs of a limited-overs match has become a high-wire act. Allan Donald, bowling coach with South Africa and Royal Challengers Bangalore, spoke to G Unnikrishnan of Deccan Herald about how to plan for the three stages of a one-day game and the skills necessary to succeed against reputed finishers.
When AB sits in the team meetings, and talks, without giving away his secrets, it's amazing to know how he wants to hit the ball. He wants the bowlers to bowl at him in his areas. Maxwell too is in the same category, but AB collects runs initially before hitting around in the end. When you plan against guys like AB and Maxwell, especially AB because AB goes both sides of the wicket - he laps this way and laps that way. You gotta try and stick to one field, and minimum strategies. What I am saying is, for these kind of players you shouldn't overplan, but try to keep it as simple as possible because bowlers shouldn't have five complex plans but two simple plans to execute. Why are bowlers not trying yorkers these days?
Leg spin is argued to be one of the toughest arts to master, as New Zealand know very well. Since their last premier exponent, Jack Alabaster, retired in 1972, there have only been three others have made it to the national side, and unobtrusively vanish. But Ish Sodhi, the fourth and most recent entrant, exhibits both skill and intent that tempts Andrew Alderson, in the New Zealand Herald, to suggest their 40-year wait for an attacking legspinner might be over.
In the second test against Bangladesh, Sodhi demonstrated enough to suggest he is something special. Rhythm, loop and speed were packaged into an action reminiscent of India's Anil Kumble. Sodhi possesses an attacking mindset. His three first innings wickets for 59 runs from 18.5 overs made you sit up straight on the couch. If he can eliminate the four-balls which release pressure each over, he'll threaten.