Stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane says India will look to be ruthless against Afghanistan

Sudhir Gupta 13/06/2018
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Rahane is not taking Afghanistan lightly in their inaugural Test.

As Afghanistan get ready to play their inaugural Test, Ajinkya Rahane has stated that India will not be taking the latest entrants to the five-day format lightly.

Speaking on the eve of the Test at Bengaluru, Rahane, who is standing in for regular skipper Virat Kohi, said that his side will aim to be ruthless against Asghar Stanikzai’s men.

“We are not going to take Afghanistan lightly. They have a decent team… bowlers (are good),” Rahane was quoted as saying by AFP.

“As a Test team we cannot take anyone for granted because cricket is a funny game. We want to go out there and be ruthless.

“We are going to focus on our strengths, our positives. We are not thinking about Afghanistan. Yes, we respect them as our opponent but it’s important for us to go out there and give more than our 100 per cent,” the 30-year-old batsman stated.

Stanikzai’s men have enjoyed a meteoric rise in the world of cricket ever since they gained ODI status in 2009. The Afghans have since participated in four separate Twenty20 World Cups and sealed qualification for their second 50-over World Cup which will take place next year in England.

Acknowledging Afghanistan’s rapid rise, Rahane said that it would be an honour for the Indian team to take the field on Thursday.

A few days earlier, Stanikzai had opined that his side have a stronger spin contingent than India. The Afghan side for the inaugural Test includes Rashid Khan and emerging mystery-spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman.

Rahane is backing his spinners to perform in Bengaluru.

Rahane is backing his spinners to perform in Bengaluru.

However, the stand-in India skipper refused to read too much into his Afghanistan counterpart’s statement and backed his spinners Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav to put in a strong performance.

“Every member of their team believes that their side is good, that their bowling attack or batting unit is better,” Rahane quipped.

“We all know the stats but we don’t focus on them. Our spinners, Ashwin, Jadeja and Kuldeep are experienced and quality spinners.”

With most of the players in the Indian side having been involved in the recently concluded IPL, Rahane believes his side need to quickly get out of the mindset of T20 cricket.

“A couple of practice session were fantastic after coming back from the IPL,” he said.

“It’s important we play our minds rather than skills, because getting back to Test from T20 cricket is all about tuning your mind rather than focusing on your skills.”

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New Zealand legend Sir Richard Hadlee diagnosed with bowel cancer but expected to make full recovery

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Kiwi legend: Sir Richard Hadlee.

New Zealand great Sir Richard Hadlee has been diagnosed with bowel cancer but is expected to make a full recovery.

Hadlee, whose 431 Test wickets are the most by a Kiwi and place him eighth on the all-time list, has undergone surgery to remove a tumour and will have chemotherapy over the course of the next few months.

A statement released by New Zealand Cricket on behalf of the 66-year-old’s wife, Lady Dianne Hadlee, read: “Last month, Richard had a routine, three-year colonoscopy, and we discovered that he has bowel cancer.

“He has since had an operation to remove the tumour. This operation went extremely well and he has made an excellent recovery from surgery.

“As a safeguard, further treatment in the form of chemotherapy will commence shortly and last for a few months.

“It is expected that, in time, he will have a full recovery.

“Our reasons for making this statement are a desire to be transparent, and to prevent the inevitable speculation and incorrect rumours.”

Hadlee is widely regarded as one of the finest bowling all-rounders to have graced the game, also amassing 3,124 runs, with two centuries and 15 fifties, in his 86 Tests from 1973 to 1990.

At the time of his retirement, he held the world record for most Test wickets and was the first to reach the 400 milestone.

A former fast bowler who later modified his action to rely on swing, Hadlee was a pivotal presence in Nottinghamshire’s County Championship triumphs in 1981 and 1987.

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Scotland coach Grant Bradburn gutted after Scotland let Pakistan 'off the hook' in first T20I

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The Scotland coach believes his side were in with a chance on Tuesday.

Grant Bradburn admitted Scotland let Pakistan off the hook as they missed out on taking another major scalp.

Having taken out the world’s top one-day international side with Sunday’s historic win over England, the Saltires were looking to complete a remarkable double by toppling the number-one ranked Twenty20 nation.

But despite making a decent start with the ball at the Grange, they allowed the tourists to set a target of 205 before falling short in their run chase as they stuttered to 156 for six.

Bradburn refused to be too hard on his team just two days after seeing them become the first Scottish XI to ever beat the Auld Enemy.

But after seeing them miss a number of chances to turn up the heat on Pakistan, the head coach admitted their 48-run defeat was a reality check.

He said: “We’re gutted, which is a great sign of where our team is at. We backed ourselves to compete and win against the number one team in the world and we’re disappointed we didn’t manage that.

“It’s definitely encouraging that we were competitive for much of the match but we’re not just about competing. Whether it’s Namibia, Papua New Guinea, the Dutch or the number one team in the world, we want to extend our skills and push them to what is required to win games against the very best.

“So this is a brilliant example for us to experience.

Bradburn feels the experience of Tuesday's loss will help the team

Bradburn feels the experience of Tuesday’s loss will help the team

“We were 50 runs short and I sense there was 30 runs in the bowling and 20 runs with the bat that we left out there. That’s the fine margins.”

Sunday’s six-run 50-over victory against England sparked wild celebrations but Bradburn insists it was a lack of practise in the shorter format which hampered his side and not a hangover from the weekend’s jubilant scenes.

“It wasn’t difficult at all to get the boys focused again,” said Bradburn, whose side will have a second chance to beat Pakistan when they face off again on Wednesday. “They have been on a high and rightly so. They’ve deserved all the accolades they’ve been receiving.

“I think the challenge for us was just to remember how to play this game because we haven’t played T20 since early 2017.

“We’ve been playing a bit of regional stuff and the guys love T20, but as you saw, if you’re just not quite sharp enough then in two or three overs you can fall well behind the game.”

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