Speaking on the eve of the second Test between India and Sri Lanka, hosts’ skipper Virat Kohli expressed dismay at India’s hectic schedule in the lead up to the South Africa tour at the end of the year.
“As usual cramped for time, which I think we needed to assess in future as well because we very easily assess the team when go abroad but we don’t look at how many days we have got to prepare before we go to a particular place to play,” Kohli said at the pre-match press conference at Nagpur.
India are set to depart for their South Africa tour just two day after finishing their engagements against Sri Lanka on December 27. Their final T20I against the islanders will be held on December 24. Kohli’s men will play their lone two-day warm-up game beginning on December 30 before turning up for the first Test against the Proteas on January 5.
“Unfortunately we get only two days before we fly to South Africa after this series gets over. So we have no choice but try to be in a game situation and think of what’s coming ahead of us,” Kohli remarked.
“Had we got a month off ideally, we would have done a proper preparation in a camp sort of scenario but we have to sort of make do with what we have,” he added.
The 29-year-old said that due to the lack of time for preparations for the South Africa sojourn, the hosts have been forced to develop green tops in the ongoing Sri Lanka series to fine tune their game.
“As usual cramped for time, which I think we needed to assess in future as well because we very easily assess the team when go abroad but we don’t look at how many days we have got to prepare before we go to a particular place to play.
“Everyone starts judging players when results come after Test matches. It should be a fair game where we get to prepare the way we want to and then we are entitled to be criticised.
“So we thought this is an ample opportunity for us to challenge ourselves, put us in a situation,” Kohli said,
The Indian skipper also said that he cannot promise to play with two-spinners attacks in Test abroad despite Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja’s impressive run with the red-ball.
“I can’t commit to that 100 percent when we play abroad that we will be playing with two spinners, to be honest because we need to have a look at the balance of the side as well. Obviously, those two guys with their batting abilities are both contenders to start a Test match abroad,” Kohli said.
India and Sri Lanka had played out a draw in the opening Test at Kolkata and both sides will be looking to strike the first-blow in the three-match series during the second Test at Nagpur starting on Friday.
After much anticipation, the Ashes started in earnest with England well placed at 196-4 at the close of play on day one of the opening Test at the Gabba. Both teams will be somewhat pleased with the outcome of the day after Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat first at Brisbane.
We take a look at the five deadly stats after a fine day of cricket at the Gabba.
Mark Stoneman’s and James Vince’s century stand breaks 31 innings streak
It had been 31 innings since England last put on a 100-run plus stand for the second-wicket. The last time it had happened was in 2016 when Alastair Cook and Root had combined to add 185 runs against Pakistan in Manchester.
Stoneman and Vince might have been marked out as the weak links in the English batting by the Aussie bowlers but on Thursday the two relatively inexperienced batsmen put on a fighting 125-run stand for the second wicket after the early dismissal of Cook.
Josh Hazelwood’s recent struggles
Having drawn up comparisons to the legendary Glenn McGrath ever since he has made his Australia debut, Josh Hazelwood has given the fiery Australian pace attack something different with his nagging line and length bowling.
Of late though, the right-arm pacer has struggled with the red-ball – picking up only two wickets since his 6-67 against India earlier in the year.
After going wicketless on day one, Hazelwood now averages 130 with the ball in his last four Tests with a strike-rate of over 336!
Australia’s Test record at the Gabba would be enough to strike fear in the eye of any opponent they face at the venue. Since 1989, the home side have played 28 Tests at the picturesque venue and have not tasted defeat even once.
They have gone on to win 21 of those Tests with seven ending in a draw. It was no surprise then that the Gabba was chosen as the venue for the opening Ashes Test. Steve Smith’s men will be hoping their Brisbane comforts can give them a head start in the long series.
Tim Paine makes comeback after 78 Tests
It has been more than seven years since Tim Paine last donned the Baggy Green of Australia before his shocking recall for the opening Ashes Test.
The last Test Paine played for Australia came in October 2010 against India at Bengaluru. The Aussies have since played 78 Tests before Paine took the gloves against England on Thursday. This is the biggest gap between Test appearances for any Australian player, along with Brad Hogg who missed 78 tests himself between 1996 and 2003.
Ever since scoring the mammoth 243-run knock against the West Indies at Birmingham, the veteran English opener has suffered a minor dip in form which might concern Trevor Bayliss and Root.
The elegant left-hander has played five knocks since the double ton and has not been able to score more than 23 runs in any of those innings. His dismissal for just two runs means the 32-year-old has only scored 63 runs in his last five innings.
With Stoneman making his Ashes debut, it is imperative that Cook rediscover his touch to give England solidity at the top.
James Vince finally added substance to his undoubted style as a battling 83 underpinned England’s promising start to the Ashes in Brisbane.
Vince was a controversial selection for this tour but steadied the tourists after the early departure of Alastair Cook on the opening morning of the series against Australia as he compiled a Test-best knock.
Here, we assess the key talking points from the 26-year-old’s day at the Gabba.
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BLOSSOMING PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN OPENER AND NO.3
Vince and Mark Stoneman barely knew each other before this tour but were paired off into shared quarters rather than individual hotel rooms in Perth, and their understanding has blossomed. A century stand in the first warm-up was followed by a 125-run partnership in the Ashes opener that was the backbone of England’s 196 for four. Stoneman observed earlier this month: “That’s one of the beauties of touring. You get to see a different side of people, and get to unwind and relax together.”
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE FOR VINCE
Vince was first given England Lions recognition towards the end of 2011 but 11 of the 16-man squad that toured Asia that winter played for the senior side ahead of Vince, who was finally given his chance in May 2015 – in a rained off one-day international against Ireland. He has made only a handful of appearances in each format but his latest innings could be the one that leads to greater involvement within the international set-up.
Former England coach Duncan Fletcher, while at Hampshire on a consultancy basis, first brought Vince to national attention when he remarked the then teenager reminded him of Michael Vaughan. It is a tag that has stuck ever since and seemed to weigh heavily when he faltered in his first opportunity with England last year, but some elegant stroke play at the Gabba – in particular several dreamy cover drives – brought those comparisons flooding back as he vindicated his return to the set-up.