Ajinkya Rahane confident Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara will rise to challenge

David Clough 30/07/2018
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Ajinkya Rahane (r) and Cheteshwar Pujara.

India insist they retain full faith in out-of-form batsmen Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara to deliver when it matters most against England.

If selected for the first Test at Edgbaston on Wednesday, opener Dhawan will take guard after two ducks in India’s only warm-up match against Essex – while Pujara has mustered an average of only 14.33 from 12 innings in his County Championship reconnaissance mission with Yorkshire.

Their fellow batsman Ajinkya Rahane is not admitting to any undue concerns about either, however.

“We are not worried at all, because both are really quality batsmen,” he said. “It just takes one good innings to get into your rhythm. We all back them.”

Rahane, who first toured England in 2011 with India’s white-ball team and returned four years ago in all three formats, is well aware of the adaptability required here.

“Playing in England is always a challenge … (but) if you think about the result you put pressure on yourself,” he added.

“This time we just want to express ourselves. Personally I enjoy those challenges, playing abroad.

“You know here in England the ball does a bit, in Australia there’s bounce, again in New Zealand the ball does a bit … I’m really looking forward to this series.”

Captain Virat Kohli suffered a rare blip in his prolific run-scoring on India’s last Test tour, averaging a paltry 13.4.

Rahane’s advice for the collective this time is to stay true to themselves, and make the most of each opportunity.

“As a batting unit, I feel that challenging yourself and backing your own game – rather than copying someone else – is important,” he said. “If you’re set here, you should really make it count.

“I feel that in terms of skill, both teams are on a par. It will be a test of our mind and character here.”

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Be angry and challenge Virat Kohli, Michael Vaughan tells England ahead of Test series against India

Sudhir Gupta 30/07/2018
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Vaughan has urged Broad and Anderson to challenge Kohli's front foot.

Former England skipper Michael Vaughan has been in the news recently for his scathing comments on Adil Rashid’s Test recall. Now, Vaughan wants England to be ‘angry’ when they take on India in the five-Test series which gets underway on Wednesday.

Writing in column for the Daily Telegraph, the 43-year-old has urged Joe Root and his men to display the same aggression and intent they showed in the second Test against Pakistan at Headingley.

“Joe Root needs to hammer home to his men that they have a point to prove and try to replicate that angry England team that arrived at Headingley and hammered Pakistan in their last Test. Go back and say to the players: ‘What were you thinking that first day at Headingley?” Vaughan wrote in his column.

“This England team has to find that attitude without first having to be stirred into a response through criticism after a hammering. Maybe the Adil Rashid furore will help,” the former England skipper added.

Vaughan wants Root's men to channel their Headingley aggression.

Vaughan wants Root’s men to channel their Headingley aggression.

Vaughan has also implored England’s senior pace duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad to take the attack to India skipper Virat Kohli and test his front foot. Kohli had a poor series in England during India’s tour of 2014 where he only managed a paltry 134 runs in 10 innings at an average of 13.40.

“I was critical of them (Anderson and Broad) before Headingley,” he wrote. “They were outstanding in that game and they will have to be outstanding again.

“You expect Broad and Anderson to step up and challenge Kohli’s front foot. Bowl outside off-stump and then throw the odd one in straight to get him playing across the line and scissor his feet.”

The first Test between England and India will take place at Edgbaston in Birmingham.

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Australia great Mike Hussey says India shouldn't put Kuldeep Yadav ahead of Ravichandran Ashwin in Test series

Sudhir Gupta 29/07/2018
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As India prepare for a gruelling five-Test series against England, the focus is on their team combination. With injuries to fast bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and keeper Wriddhiman Saha, along with the poor form of batsmen Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara, the Indian team has a lot on its plate.

Adding to the workload of the team management is the emergence of left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav as a late favourite for a spot in the playing XI in the Test team after his superb bowling efforts in the T20s and ODIs against the Englishmen.

Kuldeep, 23, is now being seen as having as good a chance as established veterans Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja of playing the first Test.

However, former Australia batsman Mike Hussey said Ashwin remains India’s No1 Test spinner.

“Kuldeep is a fantastic bowler and has done well. Personally, I don’t think Kuldeep should play at the expense of Ashwin. I think Ashwin deserves his place in the team as he has been a brilliant Test match bowler for a long period of time,” Hussey was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

“He has over 300 Test wickets plus England have many left-handers and Ashwin can play a big role. There is still plenty of time for Kuldeep as he is young. Let him keep learning along the way but if there is an injury or an opportunity, then I am sure he will do a good job for India.”

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