Hanuma Vihari the big winner but a blow for Rohit Sharma in India's Caribbean Test triumph

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Vihari (r) turned out to be the find of the series for India.

India could not have asked for a better start to their ICC World Test Championship campaign with Virat Kohli and his men prevailing over West Indies in resounding fashion in the two-match series.

The 2-0 clean sweep by the visitors saw the visitors bag all 120 points on offer along with Kohli becoming the most successful India Test skipper in history with a total of 28 wins under his belt.

While there were gains for India all-round, some players have more reasons to celebrate than others. Here, we look at the winners and losers from India’s Test triumph in the Caribbean.

WINNERS

Ajinkya Rahane

Rahane is back in form.

Rahane is back in form.

It had been two years and counting since the India deputy skipper last registered a Test ton but he managed to break that drought with a handsome return to form. The right-hander rescued the team from tricky spots in the first Test at Antigua where he returned with scores of 81 and 102 in a 318-run win.

Rahane carried that form over to the Kingston Test where he registered another half-century on a tricky pitch to reaffirm his overseas credentials. His batting average was however around the 30-run mark for the last two years and the Caribbean sojourn will come as a welcome relief after place in the side was being thrown into question.

India’s pace trio

India’s pace battery continued to build on their 2018 exploits with a devastating showing that gave the West Indies batsmen no respite throughout the two Tests. Jasprit Bumrah has scarily become even better with the addition of a lethal outswinger that helped him romp his way to 13 wickets in the series including a Test hat-trick at Jamaica.

Bumrah’s two five-wicket hauls in the series were a joy to watch and the India pacer has now soared to No3 in the ICC Test rankings. He was ably complemented by both Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami who claimed 11 and nine wickets respectively with the trio flourishing with the Duke ball in hand.

With a pace attack of such quality, it is not hard to see why India are the clear No1 Test side at the moment.

Bumrah continues to break records.

Bumrah continues to break records.

Hanuma Vihari

A deserved maiden Test ton for Vihari.

A deserved maiden Test ton for Vihari.

Vihari’s start to life in Test couldn’t have been a tougher one with the middle-order batsmen thrown in the deep end in England and Australia last year. The right-hander showed some encouraging signs in those tours without getting much success in terms of runs but all that changed drastically in the Caribbean.

The 25-year-old showed the ability to grind it out in tough conditions with a magnificent tour where he finished as the leading run-scorer with 289 runs at an average of over 96.

He was unfortunate to miss out on a maiden ton in Antigua but he made no mistake in that regard in Jamaica where he also scored a fifty in the second innings. India have lacked a reliable batsman down the order in overseas tours and Vihari has made that position his own for now with those displays.

LOSERS

Ravi Ashwin

What next for Ravichandran Ashwin?

What next for Ravichandran Ashwin?

The Caribbean tour has confirmed that Ravichandran Ashwin’s days as India’s undisputed No1 overseas Test spinner are well behind him. The 32-year-old did not get a single game despite his excellent record in the Caribbean and against West Indies in general with Ravindra Jadeja operating as the lone spinner in both Tests.

With a pace attack that is up there with the very best in the world, there is just one spot available for spinners in overseas conditions and the fact that Ashwin missed crucial Tests in the past year due to fitness issues didn’t help matters.

The off-spinner will still probably be the first name on the team sheet for home Tests but he looks to be behind both Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav currently for overseas tours.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma.

Rohit Sharma.

Vihari’s sensational tour and Rahane’s return to form are both bad news for Rohit Sharma who would have been eying a spot in the middle-order himself. The India ODI vice-captain was given four chances on the South African and Australian tours last year but failed to really impress with just one half-century to show for.

With Vihari now cementing his place and Rahane looking like the solid batsman of old, Rohit’s chances of a Test comeback have dwindled. He cannot really complain given that he has been provided with ample opportunities in the format over the years and still hasn’t managed to average more than 26.32 in overseas Tests.

KL Rahul

Rahul has already been given a long rope in the Test side.

Rahul has already been given a long rope in the Test side.

The India opener worked hard for his scores of 44 and 38 in the first Test on a difficult pitch but his troubles show no signs of ending with another poor display in Jamaica.

The only reason Rahul was given an opportunity on the tour was due to Prithvi Shaw’s suspension but the Karnataka man failed to seize his opportunity with another timid display.

His average has hovered around 22 since the turn of 2018 and he will definitely be the one to face the axe once Shaw returns. If he continues to perform like this, India might be forced to bring back the more experienced Shikhar Dhawan till Shaw’s suspension is lifted.

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Ashes 2019: Momentum with England for fourth Test as Steve Smith return boosts Aussies

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Steve Smith is set to make a return for Australia.

The Ashes is on a knife edge as the five-match series moves to the historic Old Trafford for the fourth and penultimate Test which begins on Wednesday.

A remarkable Ben Stokes innings at Headingley managed to keep the Ashes alive for the hosts with Australia coming close to retaining the historic urn on English soil for the first time since 2001.

It is still the visitors who are in the driving seat given the fact that they just need one win to retain the trophy but the momentum has shifted in England’s favour after the dramatic Test at Headingley.

England on a high

Confidence is soaring in the England camp after that one-wicket win and skipper Joe Root and pacer Stuart Broad have said as much ahead of the Manchester clash.

“When you come off a win like that it is a big lift for the whole squad,” Root stated on the eve of the fourth Test.

“For that game (Headingley) to unravel like it did and for us to turn up here full of confidence and very much alive in this series is… I thought the way we played the week before at Lord’s it started to feel like we were wrestling our way back into the series and we did a lot of good stuff there.”

“Obviously the momentum of that Test shifted and with that, the series,” Broad said on Monday.

“We’ve come here enjoying what happened last week but knowing it’s gone but not forgetting about it.”

Wounded Aussies looking to strike back

While England are confident that momentum has shifted in their favour, the Aussies have been left to lick their wounds for 10 days.

“I actually felt physically sick after it, then I went back to my room and I wasn’t sure whether to cry my eyes out or smash my hotel room,” coach Justin Langer stated in the aftermath of the third Ashes Test defeat.

“For most people it’s just a game of cricket, but when so much goes into it, it means a lot.”

Langer, however, has responded to fight fire with fire and has vowed a strong Australia response at Manchester.

“We felt a bit like we got the Ashes stolen the other day,” he said.

“Now we got to work out what we’re going to do and use that as fire. We’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves and let it slip.”

Smith’s return looms large

One of the reasons for the Aussie camp to still feel emboldened after their Headingley defeat is the impending return of Steve Smith after the star batsman was forced to miss the clash with a concussion.

Smith has already slammed 378 runs in the series in just three innings and will return to the fold on Wednesday as the No1 ranked batsman in the world once again after reclaiming the title from Virat Kohli.

England have wasted no time in sending Smith a reminder about their plans against him with Jofra Archer set to be unleashed upon the Australian once again.

“First thing, it’s great Steve is OK and coming back into Test cricket but Test cricket is a brutal sport where countries go hell for leather against each other. I’m sure when Steve comes in, Jofra will be in Joe Root’s ear wanting the ball, no doubt about that,” Broad warned.

Smith is ready for the fight.

Smith is ready for the fight.

While England are hoping to use Archer’s steep bounce as a means to ruffle Smith’s feathers once again, Australia skipper Tim Paine is in no doubt that his compatriot is up for the fight.

“He’s been bounced a few times over the journey, teams have come up with all sorts of different plans,” Paine stated.

“It’s not new to him and I’ve said it before, that’s why he’s the best. He has found a way to deliver when he’s needed to and we are expecting the same Steve.

“He’s been hit in the body and arm and head hundreds of times in his career, nothing has changed.”

LIKELY XIs

England (confirmed): Joe Denly, Rory Burns, Joe Root (c), Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Jos Buttler, Craig Overton, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach.

Australia: Marcus Harris, David Warner, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (c & wk), Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood.

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Sri Lanka vs New Zealand LIVE: Hosts bat first in must-win second T20I

Sport360 staff 17:29 03/09/2019
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Sri Lanka are in action in the second T20 against New Zealand.

Sri Lanka are looking to bounce back against New Zealand as the two sides lock horns in the second T20I of the three-match series at Pallekele.

The hosts trail 0-1 currently after their five-wicket defeat in the series opener and have it all do against a New Zealand side who are missing Ross Taylor due to an injury.

Sri Lanka have elected to bat first after winning the toss and have made one change to their side with Lakshan Sandakan coming into the playing XI instead of Kasun Rajitha. Meanwhile, Tom Bruce has replaced the injured Taylor for the visitors.

Can the hosts fightback to level the series or will the Kiwis lay their hands on the trophy? Find out by following the ball-by-ball updates from the second T20I below.

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