Shane Warne, who is currently on commentary duty at the ICC Champions Trophy in England, was reportedly asked if he’d take on the Indian coaching job in the future whilst in an elevator.
As you can see from the leg spin legend’s tweets on Wednesday, his humorous response to the question and further quotes he said he did not say, has only added to the growth of the story in India.
Indeed, with speculation rife over an apparent fallout between coach Anil Kumble and star man and captain Virat Kohli, the Warne story has only added fuel to the fire.
Here are the commentator’s tweets:
Re Indian coaching position. I was in a lift & was asked if I would put my hat in the ring I said "India can't afford me" tongue in cheek !— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) June 7, 2017
Ps re @imVkohli & I would work well together as a quote, this is totally made up. I never said that to anyone, very disappointing journalism— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) June 7, 2017
Rohit Sharma gave India a very good platform in the match against Pakistan at Edgbaston, Birmingham on Sunday.
Opening the innings, he looked on course for a century before he was run-out for 91 which came from 119 deliveries. This was the third occasion that he was out in the nineties in ODI cricket.
In fact, one of the two previous instances also saw Rohit run-out. In December 2011, in a match against West Indies in Ahmedabad, he was dismissed in the same mode for 95.
The other occasion when Rohit was dismissed in the nineties in ODIs was in January 2016 when he fell one run short of a hundred against Australia in Sydney.
There has been also the one occurrence of the right-handed batsman remaining unbeaten on 90 as India chased down a target of 270 against West Indies in Visakhapatnam in 2011.
Four years ago, when India won the Champions Trophy, Virat Kohli led the post-final celebrations with his rendition of the ‘Gangnam Style’. It is not to say he didn’t notice what went into that win for the Men in Blue.
“We won the last time because our fast bowlers did very well, our spinners were strong and our opening batsman did well. They were the main three factors,” said Kohli, on his arrival in England for the 2017 edition of the same tournament.
He is now skipper, perhaps less inclined to similar histrionics if the champions defend their trophy on June 18. It is a lot easier said than done, of course. For India to be in contention, they will need all the aforementioned three facets of their game to be at its peak. Sure, there is more experience in this squad but form is a worry.
Kohli’s struggles began against Australia and then he wasn’t at his best in the Indian Premier League either (308 runs in 10 matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore). The rest didn’t set the stage alight either, with Shikhar Dhawan (479 runs in 14 matches for Sunrisers Hyderabad) the Indian top-scorer in the IPL.
Rohit Sharma (333 runs in 17 matches for Mumbai Indians) scored his lowest tally in 10 seasons. Ajinkya Rahane (382 runs in 16 matches for Rising Pune Supergiant) and Kedar Jadhav (267 runs in 13 matches for RCB) fizzled out after a good start, while Yuvraj Singh (252 runs in 12 matches for Sunrisers Hyderabad) and MS Dhoni (290 runs in 16 matches for RPS) were not exactly explosive.
The main issue is lack of runs. It didn’t help that India’s batting order was untested in their 47-run win over New Zealand in the first warm-up game on Sunday. Adjustment, then, will be the key for India in the Champions Trophy.
Their batsmen have little time to fine-tune their skills ahead of the clash against Pakistan, and will rely on their experience. Skipper Kohli, in the meantime, will need to focus on the bowling attack. For, there is a distinctive flavour to India’s Champions Trophy squad.
The selectors have picked an additional batting option, thus restricting the think-tank to choose from two spinners. It means India are heavily leaning on their pacers to deliver the goods. Ever since the introduction of two new balls from both ends in ODIs, India have favoured playing five bowlers.
Three pacers and two spinners became the norm, with Dhoni shouldering responsibility of batting at No6. As recently as 2016 though, the team management looked to shift Dhoni to No5, resulting in a search for replacement finishers that ended with Jadhav and Hardik Pandya coming to the fore in the ODI series against New Zealand in October, 2016 and England this January.
Over the years, the Indian team management had lamented the absence of a pace-bowling all-rounder. So much so they even tried out Stuart Binny for that role ahead of the 2015 ODI World Cup, before settling with a five-bowler formula.
This Champions Trophy is a re-run of that experiment, albeit with Pandya in focus. If he succeeds – batting at No7 and as the third seam option – it can be a long-term solution for the 2019 World Cup, also to be hosted in England.
Sunday’s warm-up game, though, showed that it could be an uphill task for Pandya, who is playing in English conditions for the first time. Playing at the Oval on sunny days can be a challenge, and this was a muggy, typical English morning that gave way to a wet afternoon.
Pandya couldn’t find his rhythm and was ineffective, getting spanked for 29 runs from his first three overs (0-49 from six overall). As far as India’s main seamers are concerned, they are in fine form. Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have progressed remarkably this season, and they will like the crisp conditions on offer here in June.
It could be seen in the manner Shami bowled, hitting the right lines from the word go. Yadav was reliable while Kumar continued where he left off in the IPL, or indeed in 2014 when he first shone in England across formats. With Jasprit Bumrah fit to walk into any Indian limited-overs’ side, there are quite a few combinations available.
This allows them to consider the possibility of playing two spinners against Pakistan in Birmingham (June 4) on a traditional batting beauty at Edgbaston. The next encounters against Sri Lanka (June 8) and South Africa (June 11) are both at the Oval, which affords bowlers a bit of movement throughout.
It could allow for picking three pacers, and one spinner, if Pandya doesn’t find his bearings until then. On paper, it might look as if the Indian squad is imbalanced – two spinners, one pace all-rounder and four pacers. In reality, it is a problem of plenty for Kohli, and he is not one to complain.