Rishabh Pant continues to remain in the spotlight as India look to seal Test series win against Windies

Ashish Peter 29/08/2019
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Rishabh Pant (l) has not been in the best of batting forms.

India will look to add the finishing touches to what has been a completely dominant tour of the Caribbean when they lock horns with West Indies in the second and final Test at Jamaica beginning on Friday.

The visitors have been in rampant form throughout the tour with series clean sweeps in the ODI and T20 formats and they will look to do the same in the two-Test series which they lead 1-0.

Along with the series win, another vital 60 points in the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) are on offer for Virat Kohli’s men at Sabina Park and it is hard to look beyond another India win at this stage based on current form.

Hosts look to regroup after Antigua thrashing

A sorry effort by the hosts at Antigua.

A sorry effort by the hosts at Antigua.

While Windies were comprehensively defeated in the preceding limited-overs clashes as well, the manner in which they went down to a 318-run defeat to India in the first Test was dreadful to say the least.

The young and inexperienced side led by Jason Holder showed barely any aptitude or application for the five-day format in a tame surrender at Antigua with their second innings performance highlighting their woes.

None of the batsmen were able to register even a half-century in the Test with the likes of Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer being the biggest disappointments in an ordinary batting effort in both innings.

The Caribbean side recorded a historic Test series win over England earlier this year but looked a shadow of that side in their capitulation at Antigua. They will need to raise their games drastically if they are to restore some pride in their displays.

India look to continue Windies domination

India have been rampant in the Caribbean.

India have been rampant in the Caribbean.

India will be looking to record its fourth consecutive Test series win on Caribbean soil when they take the field at Sabina Park after what has been an extensive period of domination against the West Indies.

India have won the last seven Test series against the Windies on the bounce with three of them coming in the Caribbean in 2006, 2011 and 2016. The last time West Indies managed to get the better of India in the Test format was all the way back in 2002 when the hosts prevailed by 2-1 in a five-match series against Sourav Ganguly and his men.

It is a far cry from the past where West Indies were the dominant side with 12 series victories out of 16 in meetings between the two sides leading up to 2002.

Focus on Pant, Agarwal for India

Rishabh Pant.

Rishabh Pant.

India’s display in the first Test at Antigua was a ruthless one but question marks still remain over the form of Rishabh Pant who has been given the unequivocal backing as the wicketkeeper of the side throughout the tour.

Pant has taken the gloves for India in all ODI, T20 and Test clashes so far against the Windies but his erratic form with the bat has come under increasing scrutiny. The youngster has done nothing of note with the bat bar one innings of 65 in the T20 series with his rash mode of dismissals inviting plenty of criticism.

With an experienced Wriddhiman Saha waiting patiently in the wings, Pant needs to justify his place in the squad soon and the spotlight will be on him at Jamaica. There will also be pressure on opener Mayank Agarwal to deliver after he mustered just 21 runs in the two innings at Antigua.

There isn’t much to ponder otherwise for Kohli and the team management with the visitors expected to retain the same playing XI for the second Test.

LIKELY XIs

West Indies: Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shamarh Brooks, Darren Bravo, Shai Hope (wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Roston Chase, Jason Holder (c), Keemo Paul, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel.

India: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah.

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Ashes 2019: Mitchell Starc makes his case for Australia selection as Steve Smith makes return

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Starc was in red-hot form in the first day of the practice game.

Mitchell Starc enhanced his prospects of selection for the fourth Ashes Test with three wickets in an over on the opening day of Australia’s tour match at Derbyshire.

The left-arm paceman has been a conspicuous absentee in the series so far, despite being the leading wicket-taker at the World Cup earlier this summer, but he caught the eye as Steve Smith made a low-key return from concussion.

After Matt Critchley was strangled down the leg side, Starc then rearranged the stumps of Alfie Gleadall and Tony Palladino as Derbyshire were all out for 172, with Leus du Plooy contributing an important 86 for the hosts.

While numbers seven, eight and nine succumbing in quick order to Starc will not have England quaking, he bowled with enough purpose in his second spell to suggest he could come into the reckoning at Old Trafford next week.

With frontline fast bowlers Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson among those rested, Michael Neser also shone, taking two in two balls en route to figures of three for 31 before Australia closed on 77 without loss.

Marcus Harris (52 not out) took the lead in an unbroken stand alongside Usman Khawaja (18no), who was standing in as captain for Tim Paine. The pair are thought to be vying for an opener’s spot alongside David Warner in Manchester.

Khawaja offered a tough caught and bowled chance to teenager Gleadall on 15 late in the day, but otherwise the Australia openers were untroubled.

The tourists were back in action four days on from their dramatic one-wicket defeat at Headingley, which Smith missed as a result of a delayed concussion following a vicious bouncer from Jofra Archer at Lord’s.

However, after Derbyshire won the toss and decided to bat first, Smith was restricted to a fielding brief at second slip either side of bowling an over before lunch containing a mixture of off-spin and his customary leg-breaks.

There was some mirth when his practice delivery sailed over the head of Peter Siddle, and his first ball was close to being a beamer while his second was a drag down that was dismissively swatted away by Du Plooy.

Provided by Press Association Sports

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Hardik Pandya returns as India name squad for upcoming T20 series against South Africa

Sudhir Gupta 29/08/2019
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Hardik Pandya is back after being rested for the Windies tour.

MS Dhoni continues to remain absent as India‘s selectors named the squad for the upcoming three-match T20 series against South Africa on home soil.

The return of all-rounder Hardik Pandya to the fold is the only change from India’s squad from the recently concluded T20 series in West Indies with Bhuvneshwar Kumar being the player to make way.

Rishabh Pant will continue to don the wicketkeeping gloves for the Men in Blue in the three-match series against the Proteas with Dhoni not featuring in the squad once again. The veteran wicketkeeper had earlier made himself unavailable for the ongoing tour of West Indies with Pant being named as the wicketkeeper for all three formats subsequently.

With Bhuvneshwar and Jasprit Bumrah both rested for the T20 clashes, India will have to depend on an inexperienced pace unit comprising of Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini and Deepak Chahar while Rahul Chahar, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar and Ravindra Jadeja make up the spin contingent.

Manish Pandey continues to retain his spot in the batting unit despite his unconvincing displays in the Caribbean while Shreyas Iyer will hope to feature in the playing XI after not getting a single game in the three T20s against West Indies.

India are slated to play three T20s and as many Tests against South Africa once they return from their ongoing tour of the West Indies. The first T20 between India and the Proteas will get underway at Dharamsala on September 15.

India 15-man squad for T20 series

Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Rahul Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini.

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