Bhuvenshwar and Dhawan released from India Test squad, Vijay Shankar gets maiden call-up

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Bhuvneshwar Kumar has withdrawn from the squad for personal reasons.

Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been released from the Indian squad for the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka after the pair requested so, due to personal reasons.

Kumar is set to miss the remaining two Tests while Dhawan will be back in contention for the final Test according to a statement released by the BCCI on Monday night. Kumar, who was voted man-of-the-match in the Kolkata Test, is understood to be getting married.

Tamil Nadu and Sunrisers Hyderabad all-rounder Vijay Shankar has been named as the replacement for Kumar for the remainder of the series.

No replacement has been named for the opening slot with Murali Vijay expected to return to the spot he had made his own before an injury lay-off saw Dhawan capitalize on his chance in fine fashion.

Shankar meanwhile has been a constant in the India A side which has been involved in a limited-overs series against New Zealand A and a tri-nations series in South Africa. The 26-year-old has played some fine knocks in the India A games which has put him on the selectors’ radar in recent times.

A fine century against Odisha in a Ranji Trophy clash two weeks earlier might well have sealed the verdict in Shankar’s favour. A Test debut though may be hard to come by for the all-rounder with senior pacer Ishant Sharma expected to replace Kumar in India’s pace attack.

The Tamil Nadu man was understandably excited about his maiden call-up, stating that he had never expected it.

“It feels great. I didn’t expect it. I always wanted to give my best in whatever cricket I play and never have I thought that if I do well in this tournament or competition I will get picked at the next level. It’s a dream come true moment and I’m looking forward to my maiden stint in the Indian dressing-room,” Shankar told Times of India.

The first Test between India and Sri Lanka had been drawn after an exciting end which saw the visitors reduced to 75-7 in pursuit of 231 runs in the final innings before bad light brought a premature end.

The second Test will begin at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium in Nagpur on November 24.

India squad for second Test

Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Vijay Shankar.

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Pakistan to play in Malahide for Ireland's maiden Test bow in 2018

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The picturesque Malahide cricket ground will be the venue for the Test.

Cricket Ireland have confirmed Malahide as the venue for their inaugural Test match to be held against Pakistan in May next year.

In a statement released on its website on Tuesday, Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom thanked the Malahide Club for accepting to host the country’s first-ever Test.

“We are delighted that Malahide has agreed to host this historic game against Pakistan,” Deutrom said.

“Even in its short history of hosting our matches, the club has already given us some wonderful memories, and we trust that May 11th and its ensuing days will provide many more.

“We would like to thank the club’s members for their continuing hospitality,” he added.

Malahide chairman Ciaran Keohane on his part was delighted that the picturesque venue would be the hosting the first blue riband match of the 2018 calendar year.

“Malahide Cricket Club is delighted to host the Inaugural Test Match in Ireland. We are looking forward to welcoming both teams to The Village.

“This is a great showcase not only for Irish cricket, but for Malahide and the wider Fingal area,” Koehane said in the statement.

Tickets for Ireland’s inaugural Test are set to go on sale on Wednesday. Ireland, along with Afghanistan, became the 11th and 12th full members of the ICC earlier this year in June.

Pakistan was confirmed as Ireland’s first Test opponents after discussions between the two boards bore fruit on the sidelines of the ICC meet in Auckland in October.

Sarfraz Ahmed’s men will be touring England for a bilateral series in the summer next year and Cricket Ireland have utilized that window as the opportunity to invite a top-class side as their first Test visitors.

The Malahide Test will be held between May 11 and 15.

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Kohli hits 50th international ton: Can he overtake Tendulkar's century of centuries?

Ashish Peter 21/11/2017
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The master and his apprentice.

On Monday when Virat Kohli let out a mighty roar after reaching his century in style with a six off Suranga Lakmal, he became only the second Indian batsmen to lay claim to 50 international centuries.

The current flag bearer of Indian cricket now lies exactly half-way behind the 100 tons registered by former stalwart and legend Sachin Tendulkar. The Indian skipper has managed to breach the landmark in 28 innings fewer than the ‘Master Blaster’, achieving the feat in 348 innings compared to Tendulkar’s 376.

The 29-year old has now become the joint quickest to the 50-century mark along with South Africa’s Hashim Amla. Long considered the heir apparent to Tendulkar’s everlasting legacy in Indian cricket, Kohli has more than justified the tag over the years with his ascendancy to being recognised as the best limited-overs batsman in the game currently.

Having recently turned 29, it is interesting to compare his career graph to his predecessor. While Kohli was a late bloomer in the Test-format after establishing himself, initially in India’s limited-overs squad, Tendulkar had already made his Test and ODI debuts at the tender age of 16.

Kohli was initiated into limited-overs cricket at the age of 20 and it was another three years before he would pull on the whites for India.

Despite Tendulkar being a teenage prodigy like no other, comparisons between the two remain inevitable and it is interesting to cast a glance at their track records.

At the time of turning 29, the former Indian batsman had already breached Sir Don Bradman’s record of 29 Test centuries while Monday’s century against Sri Lanka was only Kohli’s 18th in the format.

It is the Delhi-born Indian skipper though who rules the roost when it comes to the limited-overs format. Having already racked up 32 ODI tons, Kohli has one more than the Mumbai man at the same stage in their career despite having played 84 fewer innings.

The No.1 ranked one-day batsman’s staggering average of over 55 towers over Tendulkar’s 43.92 at the same stage though the latter’s Test credentials more than make up for it.

Kohli’s average of 49.55 (now 50.12) before turning 29 in Test cricket lies someway behind the record century-maker’s 58.72. Tendulkar had accumulated 18, 938 (427 innings) runs in international cricket at the same juncture while Kohli has 15, 631 himself in 345 innings.

A supremely gifted athlete, it is not outside the realms of possibility that Kohli can continue playing for India for another eight years at least considering Tendulkar himself hung up his boots at the age of 40.

Having hit a remarkable six ODI centuries in 2017 itself, it is not hard to imagine that the 29-year-old could muster another 25 in the 50-over format if he continues his impressive conversion rate by the time he calls time on his career. That would leave the highest paid cricketer in the world with another 25 or so to get in the longer format to have any chance of toppling Tendulkar’s century of international hundreds.

With the ICC’s Test Championship coming into effect from 2019, there will be no dearth of matches for the Indian skipper to continue making an indent in Tendulkar’s numbers in red-ball cricket.

Despite it sounding fairly doable on paper, it would still require Kohli to remain at the top of his game on a highly consistent basis until he retires to come close to breaking the once seemingly unattainable record.

It is not hard to envisage Kohli undergoing slight dips of form at some point in the future like Tendulkar himself had done in various phases of his career. The 44-year-old’s sheer longevity at the top has left Kohli with a huge mountain to climb.

Tendulkar’s 34,347 international runs might be a bridge too far for Kohli though the 100-ton barrier remains within reach. Though he himself has mentioned several times that he does not aspire to break his idol’s records, it would not be a foolish bet to back Kohli in doing the seemingly impossible.

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