India name Kuldeep Yadav in Test squad for England series

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Kuldeep Yadav has been called up to the India Test squad

Slow left arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav has been included in India’s squad for the first three Tests against England after his strong performances in limited overs cricket.

The 23-year-old impressed with a five-wicket haul in the first T20I at Old Trafford and claimed six for 25 in India’s eight-wicket ODI win in Nottingham.

Cheteshwar Pujara, who has been playing County Championship cricket for Yorkshire, is also included in the squad.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar aggravated a lower back injury during the third ODI against England and his inclusion depends on his recovery. Jasprit Bumrah has been selected but will only be available from the second Test in Southampton onwards based on his fitness.

Squad: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (wkt), Rishabh Pant (wkt), Ravinchandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur

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Former India spinner Ramesh Powar delighted to be appointed as interim coach for women's team

Sudhir Gupta 17/07/2018
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Powar has been appointed as the interim coach for India's women's team.

Former India off-spinner Ramesh Powar is about to begin a new innings as interim coach of the national women’s cricket team following the resignation of Tushar Arothe.

The 40-year-old, known for giving the ball plenty of air and loop during his playing days along with adorning bright sunglasses while bowling, is excited to begin his new role.

“It’s a matter of pride (to coach the national women’s team), given the way this team has performed in the last year or so. I’m more than happy to be a part of their growth,” Powar was quoted as saying by Mid-Day following his appointment.

The Mumbai man has been appointed in an interim position while the BCCI searches for a more permanent appointment in the mean time.

Powar played 34 ODIs for India over the course of his career.

Powar played 34 ODIs for India over the course of his career.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge and will try my best to take Indian women’s cricket forward,” Powar said when asked about his hopes and ambitions in the job.

The off-spinner played two Tests and 31 ODIs for India in his career, claiming 34 wickets in the 50-over format.

He will now take charge of the Indian women’s team camp which will be held at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru from July 25 to August 3. Following the camp, the team will depart for a tour of Sri Lanka in September.

The BCCI has already invited applications for a full-time coach for the team.

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Lord's defeat to England lays bare India's familiar middle-order woes

Ashish Peter 15/07/2018
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India's middle-order crumbled under the scoreboard pressure.

It has been more than a year since the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final at the Oval in London when England and India clashed in the second ODI at Lord’s on Saturday. In exactly a year’s time, the final of the 2019 ICC World Cup will be held at the same venue which has been perennially hailed as the ‘home of cricket’.

What transpired at Lord’s on Saturday will have given Virat Kohli’s men horrible flashbacks of their 180-run thumping at the hands of arch-rivals Pakistan a year ago and will give them plenty of food for thought ahead of the 12 months that lie in store between now and the World Cup.

Faced with a daunting chase of 323 after being made to chase by England skipper Eoin Morgan, India’s familiar middle-order woes came to the surface once again as their top-order stumbled. It had been a similar story in the loss to Pakistan where the scoreboard pressure of a 300-plus chase had proved to be too much to handle for the middle-order after the stars at the top failed.

For the past two years or so, the men in blue have been heavily reliant on the top three of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Kohli to do the bulk of the run-scoring. Such has been their consistency that the middle-order has barely been tested to the hilt and on the rare occasions they have been so, they have failed to deliver the goods more often than not.

Kohli had spoken about the importance of testing middle-order combinations in the tour of UK and based on Saturday’s showing, the team management has a lot of thinking to do if they want to be serious contenders for the World Cup showdown.

The in-form KL Rahul was unable to make a dent after being dismissed for a duck while Suresh Raina showed some fight before throwing away a decent start. MS Dhoni’s patchy 59-ball 37 even drew audible boos from the largely India-centric crowd at Lord’s, forcing Kohli to come to his defence in the post-match press conference.

Dhoni's inability to score quick has become more evident recently.

Dhoni’s inability to score quick has become more evident recently.

In his last 13 ODI innings, Dhoni has scored 267 runs at an average of 29.66. While the average is still decent for a batsman who comes lower down the order, the strike-rate of 78.07 is a worrisome trend. With Dhoni’s growing inability to up the ante, the pressure on the other middle-order batsmen has only grown manifold.

In Hardik Pandya, India have an all-rounder who can turn it around with the bat on his day but Saturday was not to be that case. Unlike England, India does not have the luxury of a deep batting-order with its tail starting from the No8 position.

As such, the onus on the likes of Rahul, Raina and Pandya to perform when the top-order fails is even greater. The troubling aspect for India is that they have been nowhere close to solving their middle-order riddle in the past year with various batsmen being tried in those slots.

While Rahul and Raina are the current batsmen in the roles, the likes of Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey and Ajinkya Rahane have all been given a run with mixed results. Jadhav’s injury and Ambati Rayudu’s subsequent failure in the Yo-Yo test opened the doors for an ODI return for Raina in the ongoing series. It is his ability to provide a sixth bowling option that has seen him being favoured over Dinesh Karthik who continues to wait for a chance on the sidelines.

With the top-order very much secured along with Dhoni and Pandya being unshakable from their roles in the team, India are left with a conundrum in the remaining two middle-order slots. They will be hoping Rahul can seize his chance to hold down one of the slots but there still remains a question-mark over the other position.

The upcoming 12 months, starting with the ODI series decider at Headingley on Tuesday, will need to be devoted to solving those last few pieces of the puzzle or else results like Saturday’s will become a familiar sight.

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