After a compelling day’s play in the ongoing India-England Test in Mumbai, proceedings from the game took spotlight in the sporting sections of Indian dailies on Saturday (December 10). M Vijay’s deft handling of the short ball was praised, while Ramesh Powar, the former Mumbai and India offspinner, explained the spinning intricacies of the Wankhede.
Elsewhere, New Zealand’s tame surrender to Australia was dissected, while major selection problems surfaced for South Africa.
Ramesh Powar explains the art of bowling spin at Wankhede stadium (The Indian Express)
How does the ball turn so sharply on first day and then seem to be almost comatose on the second? Was it because England’s spinners were vastly inferior to India? Or did the Wankhede pitch ease up considerably? And how would the track behave in the days to come? It’s best to pose that question to Ramesh Powar, whose slow-death lobbers teased and troubled Rahul Dravid so much that he once asked — “Ramesh, how can I play you?”
Ravichandran Ashwin shows why he’s the No 1 Test bowler in the world (Daily Mail)
India’s batsmen made a strong start in their reply to England’s 400 all out on day two of the fourth test, reaching 146 for the loss of just one wicket by the close. Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara put on 107 runs for the second wicket as batsmen enjoyed an easy, slow-turning wicket at the Wankhede Stadium that offered no hope to seamers and some assistance to spinners. England’s spinners were not able to control the ball as well as their Indian counterparts did. India’s spinners took all 10 English first innings wickets.
In the two net sessions that India had on the eve of the fourth Test, Murali Vijay kept one net to himself for a while each day to face a barrage of chin music with throw-downs from close quarters. After a brilliant century in the first Test of the series in Rajkot, England found a pleasing chink in Vijay’s armour: the short ball. In the ensuing two Tests, they peppered him with just that, and got him thrice in four innings with the weapon. The opener would get out either defending awkwardly or fending at a high ball outside the off stump. A short break, two nets and a Test later, the chink seems to have diminished.
Let’s keep it ‘short’ (Mumbai Mirror)
There was that sound of gently thrumming drums and merriment in the lower rows of the Vijay Merchant Pavilion. Wearing animal outfits from head to toe, they seemed inspired by the Jungle Book. Clapping approvingly, the English supporters joined the chorus. And this was only the second day of the Test. Not entirely unbelievable given that India’s innings had kicked off. At some point, the noise seemed too disruptive. But out in the middle, India had two batsmen, one of which was Cheteshwar Pujara, capable of doing deep breathing even if dynamites were exploding around them.
Haseeb Hameed repays a Mumbai bat-maker’s trust (Hindustan Times)
Teenaged England opener Haseeb Hameed’s special abilities are not restricted to the cricket pitch. He doesn’t need any reminding about each one of those who contributed in his journey to become an England Test cricketer. When he first visited Mumbai in 2012 to train under coach Vidyadhar Paradkar, Haseeb got a bat made by bat-maker, M Ashraf Brothers, located at Marine Lines. Unfortunately, the boy didn’t have enough money to pay for it in full.
Keaton Jennings joined a select group this week, as the 19th England batsman to score a hundred on Test debut. It is a star-studded cast, including not only his opening partner, Alastair Cook, but such giants of yore as W G Grace, K S Ranjitsinhji and Peter May. The curious point, however, is how many of these meteors fell to earth. Look through 130 years of scorecards and you will find a few names to bewilder even the staunchest pub-quizzer.
Ben Stokes: what really happens on tour with England (The Telegraph, UK)
The players are always trying to beat each other. “Obviously Bangladesh and India are very different to Australia, South Africa and the West Indies. In terms of keeping yourself occupied outside of cricket, it’s a little bit tougher in these countries. We have managed to find things to do to kill the time. We play a lot of golf, FIFA and table tennis. And we have got a quiz lined up so it will be interesting to see what goes on there.”
Jos Buttler finds familiarity breeds contentment to give England hope (The Guardian)
Local knowledge can go a long way in a bustling city such as Mumbai. Black and yellow taxis, for example, cost far less than the blue and silver ones, with the sole difference between the two being air-conditioning when simply winding down the window works fine.
Sometimes in England we don’t appreciate what we have. We don’t see what’s in front of our eyes. But when you travel the world and talk to other pundits, they all regard Jos Buttler as an incredible talent. In England, we tend to fret about what a player can’t do, or whether — as in Buttler’s case — he hasn’t played enough red-ball cricket to earn his place back in the Test team.
For pure wind-out-of-your sails deflation, this is right up there. In New Zealand everyone lifts expectantly for a one-day series in Australia. Shame the players didn’t get the memo. Remember this is one-day international cricket, comfortably New Zealand’s best format in which they were ranked third, and are now fourth.
Black Caps’ final defeat the most dispiriting (New Zealand Herald)
Kane Williamson last night tempered his disappointment with New Zealand’s ODI performances against Australia with high praise for the opposition. New Zealand had arrived with high hopes for retaining the Chappell Hadlee trophy. Instead they were simply blown away, the margins telling a tale – 68 runs, 116 runs and last night 117 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground when chasing a very gettable 265, they folded to be all out in just 36.1 overs for 147.
Mohammad Amir didn’t have the great start to his Test career.
The then 17-year-old Pakistani left-armer arrived on Australia’s shores in 2009 to take on a much different home side, and boy did he impress. For most young players, sending down a 145km/h delivery and troubling Australian Test batsmen is an achievement only obtained after putting on a bit of muscle and reaching your 20s, but Amir isn’t your average young gun.
Speed: it’s a kick. At which point, enter Pat Cummins, still the most interesting young fast bowler in the world, and now back playing cricket again for Australia after endless strains and twangs. This week Cummins took four wickets against New Zealand in Canberra, the best of them a zingy lifter to Martin Guptill that took a lovely crunchy edge – Cummins gets great edges – and gave another thrilling, teasing suggestion of the pure speed wrapped up in that corkscrew action.
Move to cut down the size of blunderbusses will cheer bowlers (New Zealand Herald)
Bowlers can breathe slightly easier, but only slightly, if the latest recommendations from the high profile MCC world cricket committee are passed. This body, made up of former test players, has proposed the size of bats be trimmed back. It’s certainly got out of hand, most notably in limited-overs cricket where the ball gets propelled vast distances, often out of all proportion to the quality of the stroke, or how much bat actually gets on the ball.
Proteas selectors all at sea (Business Day)
So you want to be a selector? Right. Here are the most pressing items on your agenda for your meeting on Thursday to pick the squad for the Test series against Sri Lanka that starts at the end of December. You probably will not know by the time your meeting ends whether AB de Villiers will be cleared to play in a T20 game for the Titans on Sunday.
The national cricket team will take wing to South Africa tonight, on a tour that will last exactly two months. Sri Lanka play their final game of the tour on the 10th of February at Centurion. Captain Angelo Mathews, who missed the Zimbabwe tour due to a calf injury, has recovered and looks fitter and slimmer. “It has been a great few months to be honest. Very refreshing. I worked extremely hard on my fitness,” Mathews told ‘The Island’ after the team’s last training session yesterday. “We hardly get a long lay off to work on our fitness. I did a lot of gym work, a lot of running. Cut down on my weight and went on a set diet. I started bowling a week ago and I am planning to bowl in the Test matches,” the 29-year-old added.