Cricket in India set for season of change


first_imgMonday marks a seamless transition from the Olympics to India’s ‘real’ national sport and favourite pastime, cricket, after the sentimental ‘national sport’, hockey, took a nosedive in London. The Olympics close on Sunday and after a few postmortems, which are expected to be fruitless, the below-par performances of the failed Indian athletes will be buried for good.Cricket gradually started making news again on Sunday as the under-19 World Cup began in Australia campaign, though India began with a defeat against the West Indies in Townsville.M.S. Dhoni and Team India must gear up for the new cricket season.It’s a season of change for India. Changes will be made in several spheres, from the national selection committee to the domestic tournaments. The home rush will start, with a short preparatory camp in Hyderabad for the India-New Zealand Test series beginning there on August 23. This will be followed by long series against England, Pakistan and Australia. In between, the Twenty20 World Cup will be played in Sri Lanka next month.It’s a chock-a-block home season following India’s forgettable tours to England and Australia last year, when India lost eight successive Test matches.The new season brings fresh hope. With a majority of the matches to be played in India, fans are looking ahead to some favourable results on home turf. These matches will give the team an opportunity to redeem itself from the post-World Cup horror performances of last year.It will also be a season in which one of the famed batting pillars, VVS Laxman, might just retire. The ageing-but-stylish Hyderabad batsman is widely believed to be on his last legs of international cricket, especially after he failed to live up to his own high standards on the previous tour of Australia.advertisementConspiracy theories also work overtime when it comes to retirements in India. A few days before the selectors met on Friday to pick the team for the two-Test series against New Zealand, someone told me that Laxman’s days in international cricket were numbered, quoting sources close to the batsman.As it turned out, Laxman was picked for both Tests against New Zealand. Again, some people reasoned that since it was the last time the K. Srikkanth-led selection was picking a Test squad they didn’t want to invite criticism by unceremoniously dropping Laxman. Four of the five selectors will be changed at the BCCI AGM next month upon completing their tenure and, people insist that they perhaps want to depart without controversies.A new panel, with Mohinder Amarnath most probably heading it, will be constituted to pick teams starting with the England series and they might have a different outlook on Laxman and other players. All in all, the new season is set to ring in many changes.Team India stars get ‘shot’ at the KotlaDelhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla played host to the ad shoot.On thursday, Ferozeshah Kotla ground had some surprise but welcome visitors. The highprofile gang of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Irfan Pathan, Ajinkya Rahane, and Pragyan Ojha descended to do a shoot for Nike, the official apparel suppliers to the Indian team.They arrived at the Kotla in the afternoon, after the Delhi Ranji team’s conditioning session had ended, and remained there till close to midnight, shooting under the floodlights.The shoot was for Nike’s new commercial for the upcoming T20 World Cup, which is set to be played in Sri Lanka next month.”The players batted, bowled and did some catching and fielding in front of the cameras. Kohli, for instance, batted in the nets against a bowling machine,” someone who was present at the shooting told Mail Today.”Ishant Sharma’s coach Shrawan Kumar put them through their paces from behind the camera as the players did some catching and fielding drills as part of the shoot. In the evening, the floodlights were switched on and the shooting went on till around 11 pm. Some of the players who were present there did not face the camera and stayed put in a room,” he said.Coach tells Ishant to improve use of creaseDelhi pacer Ishant Sharma.Shrawan Kumar, coach of Delhi pacer Ishant Sharma has given a few tips to his famous ward who has staged a comeback to the national team for this month’s Test series against New Zealand. Kumar who observed Ishant, 23, at a net session at Delhi’s Ramjas College ground said he was satisfied that Ishant doesn’t have the no-ball problem anymore, but spotted areas that could be improved.”The pitch and ground conditions were not ideal… so it was understandable that Ishant didn’t go flat out… But what I noticed during his bowling was that his deliveries were getting angled as he was not bowling close to the stumps,” Kumar told Mail Today.advertisement”He has a natural bowling action. I told him to bowl from closer to the stumps because if you bowl like that, batsmen would keep guessing as to whether it’d be an in-swinger or an out-swinger. If you bowl away from stumps, it becomes easy for batsmen to pick the ball,” he explained.A Test match specialist, Ishant has captured 133 wickets in 45 Tests and 64 in 47 ODIs. If he remains fit, he is set to add many more scalps to his kitty this season.–Former India hockey captain Ashok Kumar.Ashok Kumar(in pic), former India hockey captain and son of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand, fondly remembers the only time he gave a motorcycle ride to his illustrious father. It was in Delhi in 1975 when Ashok Kumar’s contemporary, Charles Cornelius, fell ill and was admitted to the Army Hospital. “That was the only time ‘babuji’ (Dhyan Chand) rode my Java motorcycle. Actually, three of us rode the bike to go the hospital; the third person was Kishan Lal ‘dada’, also a former captain,” Ashok Kumar told Mail Today. “The bike was a gift from ‘babuji’ and it cost `3,000 in 1975. At the time, we didn’t have the money to buy a car.”last_img

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