Ind vs Aus: Rampaging India look to extend winning streak in T20Is

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December 5, 2020

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Sydney, Dec 5: India have won each of their last nine completed T20Is- including two Super Overs and after winning the last game against Australia, they are looking forward to extending their winning streak with an aim to seal the series.

A spirited all-round performance from India saw them register a comprehensive 11-run win over Australia in the first T20I at the Manuka Oval on Friday. The 1-0 lead in the three-match series was a combined effort of Ravindra Jadeja's classy cameo, T Natarajan's lethal yorkers, and Yuzvendra Chahal's magical spin.

After KL Rahul and Jadeja guided the team to 161/7, Chahal, who came on as a concussion substitute for an injured all-rounder, and T Natarajan, who made his T20I debut, scalped three wickets each to help India seal a win.

It's been over 19 months since India lost a T20I series and they now look the most potent side in the shortest format of the game having won the last of their eight T20I matches.

On the other, Australia, the current number two-ranked side in the ICC T20I Team Rankings, will look to find ways to counter the potent Indian batting order in a bid to level the series.

The team from Down Under will also look to repair the bowling department which actually had leaked runs in the final overs according to skipper Aaron Finch.

"We probably leaked too many runs at the death. Then while chasing, we didn't hit too many boundaries in the 6-over period," Finch had said after the first T20I in Canberra.

The Australian players will also be waiting for an update on skipper Finch's injury. The skipper is in brilliant form and has been leading the Australian team from the front. If he is ruled out of the T20I series it is unclear who will take over the captaincy for the remaining two fixtures.

Meanwhile, Jadeja, who was hit on the helmet in the final over, has been ruled out of the remaining series and pacer Shardul Thakur is added to the national squad. Looking at the red hot form Jadeja was, his exclusion from the squad may dent India's hopes but Chahal's inclusion in the second innings of the first T20I had proven to be a blessing in disguise and the Men in Blue will look to rope him for the second game as well.

The two teams will now lock horns in the second T20I on Sunday.

Australia T20I Squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Sams, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, D'Arcy Short, Adam Zampa.

India's updated T20I squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), KL Rahul (VC & WK), Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson (WK), Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, T Natarajan, Shardul Thakur.

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Agencies
January 2,2021

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Mumbai, Jan 2: Five India Test players, including vice-captain Rohit Sharma, opener Shubman Gill and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, have been placed in isolation and an investigation launched into a possible breach of the COVID-19 bio-security protocol by them, Cricket Australia said on Saturday.

This was after a fan put out a video of the players sitting inside an indoor restaurant on Twitter on Friday. He claimed to have been seated close to them and also talked about getting a hug from Pant after he paid for the players' meal. He later retracted the claim about the hug after it raised serious questions on a breach of protocol.

The BCCI brass had initially ruled out any investigation after reports of a possible breach first appeared in the media here, but Cricket Australia's late statement said a joint probe is on.

"The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Cricket Australia (CA) were today alerted to a video post on social media that purported to show Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw and Navdeep Saini eating at an indoor venue in Melbourne on New Year's Day," CA said in a statement.

It has been learnt that the Indian Cricket board will back its players as the general consensus is that there hasn't been any deliberate breach. There is a feeling that Indian team might just come together like 2007-08 'Monkey Gate' controversy when Andrew Symonds had claimed that Harbhajan Singh had abused him racially.

As per protocol, players are allowed to eat out in outdoor settings, following social distancing norms.

"The BCCI and CA are investigating the matter and seeking to determine whether the outing constitutes a breach of bio-security protocols."

The isolation protocols were put in place after consulting with medical teams.

"...on the advice of the Australian and Indian medical teams, the aforementioned players have been placed in isolation as a precaution.

"This will include separating the group of players from the broader Indian and Australian squads when travelling and at the training venue," CA further stated.

It is understood that as per bio-security protocols provided by Cricket Australia, players are not just barred from indoor restaurants but they are also not supposed to avail any public transport. They are, however, allowed a walk around the cities where they are playing.

Cricket Australia's statement doesn't specify any time-frame for the investigation but it has been learnt that the Indian team is not amused by the turn of events.

India and Australia are engaged in a four-Test series right now and the third match is due to start on January 7 in Sydney.

"The players were standing outside the restaurant and due to drizzle, they had gotten inside. If this is a way of trying to unsettle the team before the third Test, it's a bad ploy by Cricket Australia," a senior BCCI official told PTI.

Rohit had recently completed 14 days of hard quarantine in Sydney and started training in Melbourne only a couple of days back.

The players will be permitted to train in accordance with the protocols that have been put in place.

Asked if Cricket Australia could disallow the three players (Rohit, Pant and Gill) from taking part in the next Test, the official said: "Firstly, they are allowed to train. Secondly, I don't think it will come to that as then there could be adverse implications."

Earlier, a senior Indian cricket board official told PTI that the visiting contingent is "well aware" of the COVID-19 protocols and had not violated any of them.

"No, there has been no breach in bio-security protocols. Everyone associated with the Indian team is well aware of the protocols," the senior BCCI official had said in the morning.

"We can only term it as a malicious spin by a section of Australian media and this has started after their humiliating defeat," he added.

India crushed Australia by eight wickets in the second Test in Melbourne, making an incredible comeback days after the debacle in the four-match series opener in Adelaide.

The bio-security bubbles have been put in place to ensure that the players are not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the world for months now, with parts of Australia reporting fresh outbreaks in recent times.

This had also put the future of the third Test in Sydney in doubt before CA clarified that it would not be shifted to Melbourne.

The match will begin on January 7 and the two teams will arrive in Sydney a couple of days before the scheduled start.

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Agencies
January 4,2021

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Sydney, Jan 4: Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley on Monday dismissed reports that the Indian team is reluctant to play the fourth Test in Brisbane because of stricter quarantine rules there.

Hockley said the Indian cricket board was "fully across (and) supportive" of quarantine requirements in Queensland.

"We speak to our counterparts at the BCCI daily," he told reporters here.

"We've had nothing formal from the BCCI to suggest anything other than they're supportive. Both teams have wanted to play the schedule as we've set out," he asserted.

The third Test in the four-match series is scheduled to be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground from Thursday. The series is locked at 1-1 right now.

The fourth game is due from January 15 at the Gabba.

The Australian media has claimed that the Brisbane Test is in jeopardy because of the tourists' reluctance to travel there in view of harder quarantine rules, having already served one upon entering Australia in November.

The reports, citing unnamed sources, claimed that the Indian team wanted the fourth Test to be also held in Sydney.

Queensland has closed its borders for people travelling from New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital, due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in the city and surrounding areas.

Both the Indian and Australian teams travelled to Sydney on Monday after all their players and support staff returned negative in latest round of COVID-19 tests.

Hockley's statement came two days after five Indian players -- vice-captain Rohit Sharma, opener Shubman Gill, stumper Rishabh Pant, pacer Navdeep Saini and batsman Prithvi Shaw -- were placed in isolation for an alleged breach of bio-security protocols.

Cricket Australia, in a media release, said it is probing the matter jointly with the BCCI after a video of the players at an indoor restaurant was posted by a fan, who identified himself as Navaldeep Singh on Twitter.

Earlier in the day, Australia's leading spinner Nathan Lyon had called on players from both teams to "get out there and play the game" instead of worrying over things that are beyond their control.

"I am not really worried about what's being reported, it is for us to worry about what we can control and the information that we are receiving from the people at Cricket Australia and the medical people," Lyon had said.

"It is just about us making sure that we are very well prepared for the Sydney Test, everyone keeps talking about the Gabba Test.

"But there is a massive Test match in just couple of days at the SCG and that is where our focus is 100 per cent at the moment," the veteran off-spinner added.

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January 12,2021

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Sydney, Jan 12: The injury-ravaged Indian team was dealt another telling blow on Tuesday as pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah was ruled out of the fourth Test against Australia due to an abdominal strain.

If that wasn't enough, Mayank Agarwal -- tipped to be Hanuma Vihari's replacement in the playing XI in Brisbane -- has sustained a knock on the hands and it could be a hairline fracture.

To make matters worse, Ravichandran Ashwin's back spasms have aggravated after battling for three hours on the final day, leaving little options for India on the bench.

Bumrah, key to India's attack, sustained the strain during the drawn third Test in Sydney.

It has been learnt that Bumrah's scan reports showed a strain and the Indian team management does not want him to aggravate the injury, keeping in mind the upcoming four-Test series against England.

"Jasprit Bumrah suffered an abdominal strain while fielding in Sydney. He is going to sit out of the Brisbane Test but is expected to be available against England," a BCCI source told PTI.

While the Indian team management is heaving a sigh of relief that Bumrah hasn't sustained a tear but wants to be on the side of caution as playing in Brisbane and breaking down in the middle of the Test match could have an even more adverse effect on the team.

"If we take the risk of him playing at 50 percent, what if the injury aggravates and he breaks down in the middle of the match and then ruled out for better part of England series?

"England is the last series which will decide the qualification for World Test Championship final and we are in contention and would require a fit Bumrah," the senior BCCI source added.

It is now expected that two-Test old Mohammed Siraj will be leading the Indian attack and will be joined by Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur and T Natarajan in the Brisbane Test, starting January 15.

Unless, Bumrah is fielded at 30 percent fitness, risking the entire England series, T Natarajan will make his debut.

The problem with Indian team is after injured KL Rahul's departure and Hanuma Vihari's grade 2 tear, there are no back-up middle-order batsman left in the reserves.

The only two available batsmen are two out of form openers in Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal.

It remains to be seen if India, knowing their depleted strength and long tail, decide to take the conservative route of playing four bowlers and six batsmen with Rishabh Pant as the wicketkeeper.

If Agarwal's scans reveal that it's a bruise and not a fracture, then it could well be Prithvi Shaw batting at number three followed by Cheteshwar Pujara , Ajhinkya Rahane and Agarwal himself at number six.

If they go with five bowlers, then collective experience of pace attack will be three Test matches and 10 balls (Siraj-2, Saini -1, Shardul -10 balls on debut, Natarajan-yet to play).

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