India pacer Mohammed Siraj continues excellent run with eight-wicket haul

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Siraj picked up 8-59 in the first unofficial Test at Bengaluru.

India fast bowler Mohammed Siraj has been in sensational form with the red ball this season. He has consistently been among the top wicket-takers in the domestic circuit and also in international matches with the ‘A’ team. The Hyderabad pacer is quickly gaining a reputation as a long-term Test prospect and he strengthened that belief with another super effort against Australia ‘A’.

Playing the unofficial Test for India ‘A’ in Bengaluru, Siraj snared 8-59 against the Aussies as the Indians restricted the visitors to 243 in the first innings after they were well-placed at 204-4 at one stage.

He picked up one more wicket in the second innings by stumps on day two on Monday, with nine Australian wickets left.

It has been a superb year for the 24-year-old. In the last five first-class matches, Siraj has picked up an incredible 38 wickets against top teams. There is still one more innings to go against Australia ‘A’ and one of the five matches – against South Africa ‘A’ – had just one bowling innings.

Siraj picked up eight wickets against the West Indies ‘A’ in England in July, seven against the England Lions, 10 against South Africa ‘A’ in Bengaluru and four in one innings against the same opposition.

With nine wickets already in the bag against the Aussies, Siraj is forcing the selectors to pick him for red-ball assignments later in the year.

Siraj has played three T20 matches for India and was unimpressive in them, going for over 12 an over. But it’s red ball cricket where he thrives. His first-class record now stands at 95 wickets from 20 matches which comes to around five per match which is brilliant for a subcontinent pacer.

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India pick left-arm fast bowler Khaleel Ahmed for Asia Cup

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Khaleel Ahmed.

India selected left-arm fast bowler Khaleel Ahmed for the upcoming Asia Cup in the UAE, adding an intriguing twist to the squad.

India’s seam bowling attack is dominated by right-arm quicks across formats with left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav the only southpaw to feature regularly.

Recently, India had given chances to left-arm seamers Barinder Sran and Jaydev Unadkat in white-ball cricket but neither of them have reached the levels attained by Irfan Pathan or RP Singh. None of them have even come close to filling the void created after the departure of the best left-arm quick produced by India – Zaheer Khan.

Khaleel has become a successful white-ball bowler. Hailing from Tonk in the Indian state of Rajasthan, the 20-year-old has 28 wickets from 17 List ‘A’ matches and 17 wickets from 12 T20 matches.

Since July, he has been part of the India ‘A’ team for 50-over matches and has picked up at least one wicket in nine straight matches, in England and at home. His best efforts in recent months have been 3-45 against South Africa ‘A’ in Bengaluru and 3-48 against England Lions in London.

According to reports, Khaleel has added a yard or two of pace. Lack of pace was one of the reasons why Sran and Unadkat failed to succeed at the top level.

Khaleel learned the tricks of the trade during his two-year stint at Delhi Daredevils alongside Zaheer and this year at Sunrisers Hyderabad with Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the IPL.

Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Khaleel said he tried to learn from Bhuvneshwar about how to prepare as a bowler.

“With Bhuvneshwar at Sunrisers, I learnt about death bowling,” said Khaleel. “How he trains in the nets, how he practices bowling yorkers and does target practice. He is a very simple person, and is always ready to offer advice.”

India’s bowling arsenal is well-stocked with enough variety. What they are missing is a quality left-arm quick. Australia (Mitchell Starc), Pakistan (Mohammad Amir among many others), New Zealand (Trent Boult), Bangladesh (Mustafizur Rahman) and now even England (Sam Curran) have excellent left-arm bowlers. India will be hoping Khaleel makes an impression, as and when he gets an opportunity.

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Pujara's ton overshadows Moeen's five-for to give India the edge in fourth Test

David Clough 31/08/2018
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Moeen Ali recorded his second successive five-wicket Test haul at the Ageas Bowl but was unable to stop Cheteshwar Pujara edging a mid-match advantage for India.

Moeen (5-63), back for his first Test in five months and at the venue where he took 6-67 over these same opponents four years ago, put England fleetingly on course for a first-innings lead.

Pujara (132 not out) prevented that, though, constructing a near five-hour century – his 15th in Tests and fifth against England – as India reached 273 all out in reply to 246 by stumps on day two.

India’s first innings was not an exact action replay of England’s in this fourth Test, but there were distinct similarities as many of the specialist batsmen failed to fulfil their brief – and Pujara was left to eke out 78 runs in stands with numbers 10 and 11.

Moeen put the tourists in a spin either side of tea, taking four wickets for eight runs in 16 balls as they faltered from 142-2 to 195-8.

England’s new-ball pair had begun moderately in their four overs the previous evening, but were re-engaged in the hope of much better on a sunny morning.

Stuart Broad (3-63) delivered with the wickets of both openers.

KL Rahul fell lbw on the front-foot defence, and the patient Shikhar Dhawan pushed out at one from round the wicket and was caught-behind by a tumbling Jos Buttler.

A 92-run stand followed, with Pujara more convincing than Virat Kohli – who moved past 6,000 Test runs with a chisel through the vacant gully off James Anderson, and used the edge almost as much as the middle until he followed a straight ball slanted across him to be caught at slip off Sam Curran.

It was the belated introduction of Ben Stokes which first started to make things happen more quickly for England.

Moeen Ali picked up five wickets on Friday.

Moeen Ali picked up five wickets on Friday.

Pujara, on 50, and Ajinkya Rahane escaped half-chances in his first two overs. But Joe Root’s drop at second slip was much less costly than Buttler’s failure to lay a glove on Pujara’s low edge – because Rahane was soon lbw toppling over in defence to Stokes.

Pujara took on a Stokes short ball and was hit on the helmet, a blow which brought a near 10-minute delay for a concussion test and change of headgear.

It did not perturb the imperturbable, though, and India’s number three was in no way jolted out of his chosen tempo.

Even Moeen’s sudden rush of wickets could not ruffle him. Rishabh Pant went to the last ball before the break, the eighth lbw departure of the match, when he missed one sliding on to hit leg-stump to go for a 29-ball duck.

Hardik Pandya’s counter-attack plan brought him one boundary before he clipped Moeen to a diving Root at short midwicket. Then the off-spinner put himself on a hat-trick.

Ravi Ashwin was culpable with a bizarre attempt at a reverse-sweep, bottom-edged on to his unguarded leg stump, and Mohammed Shami lost his off-bail first ball.

Ishant Sharma kept out the hat-trick ball at the start of Moeen’s next over, and stayed put to help add 32 valuable runs until he was well-caught by Alastair Cook at short-leg.

Pujara was joined on 96, when India were still 19 runs behind, by number 11 Jasprit Bumrah. But he completed his 210-ball century with a chip over Moeen’s head – and remained in control to extend England’s frustrations with the second new ball until Bumrah failed to deal with Broad’s extra bounce and was caught at slip.

That allowed for four overs in which Cook and Keaton Jennings survived on six for none.

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