The build-up to the most-awaited Test series between India and Australia got underway with the tour game being played between the visitors and India A at the Brabourne Stadium. Ravichandran Ashwin eyed Anil Kumble’s tally of 619 Test wickets, while Harbhajan Singh predicted the series result in favour of India.

Meanwhile, Manoj Tiwary came out all guns blazing in East Zone’s run chase against North in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Elsewhere, Anil Kumble praised MS Dhoni for his leadership skills.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) hoped that the Indian cricket board would allow players who are not centrally contracted to feature in its new franchise Twenty20 league, which will launched at the end of the year.

Play the ball and not the bowler, says Simpson (The Hindu)
Bob Simpson has a simple formula for playing spin in India: Play the ball and not the bowler. That is his message to the Australian batsmen on this tour. “The reputation of the bowler does not matter. Whoever the bowler is, you need to judge the length of the ball. You get into better positions,” said Simpson, former Australia captain. “If you do that you are going to give the bowlers, any of them, a lot of problems. Judgment of length, on any track, is the key, really.”

Record-breaker Ashwin fine-tuning game ahead of Australia series (The New Indian Express)
“It’s simple. As a spinner, you can’t come out all guns blazing like a fast bowler would. You have to build your spells. You can’t straight away think much about how to dismiss someone. Obviously, there will be a dismissal pattern, since certain batsmen get out in the same fashion. That is something I can definitely target. Warner is a fine player. If you don’t get him early, he will hurt you. I’ll be very very pro-active about it, and try to unsettle him as early as possible.”

Getting a punch in the mouth in the Pakistan Super League (Sydney Morning Herald)
“It’s been a very tough week for my beloved Islamabad United team, where I am the head coach for this year’s Pakistan Twenty20 Super League. It was only a year ago that we won the first PSL with a team that I was so proud of, but after the recent events, we have been to hell and back.” – Dean Jones.

‘They don’t have the quality’: Harbhajan predicts Aussie thrashing (The New Daily)
“If Australia play well, India will win 3-0. That is if Australia play well. Otherwise, 4-0.” In his playing days, Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh never lacked the ability to aggravate the Australian cricket team. And despite his retirement, following a career in which he took 417 Test wickets, he hasn’t lost it, giving Steve Smith’s men no chance of even winning a Test in the upcoming four-match series.
“I don’t think the wickets [in India] are going to be that easy for them. If the ball starts spinning from the first ball, I don’t think they will survive for long,” Harbhajan Singh told The New Daily.

Scouts watching, Manoj Tiwary shines (The Indian Express)
There is pressure of playing to impress the scouts and get ‘sold’ in the auction but Tiwary has other pressures too. It was from his wife this time. “Aaj toh biwi bhi bol de thi, ke run nahi maroge, toh kal ka match nahi dekhonge. (Today, even my wife had said, if I don’t score today, I won’t see tomorrow’s match!). “Itna pressure tha but I think it came on a right time. I hope I get chance to play IPL this year. I was injured last time so that is why teams might have skipped my name,” he says.

Ravichandran Ashwin eyes Anil Kumble’s 619-wicket record (Deccan Chronicle)
“In reality, that’s not something I am looking at. It’s a massive achievement to go anywhere near Murali’s tally of 800 wickets. If I get there, it would be like surpassing my human limit. I started playing Tests a bit late and I have always fought against the odds. And, I don’t think I would want to extend one wicket more than what Anil Kumble (619) achieved. That’s a matter of honour.”

IPL the main agenda as BCCI’s administrators led by Vinod Rai meet today (Hindustan Times)
With the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI’s) all-important tournament, the Indian Premier League (IPL), about two months away, matter related to it is expected to be at the top of the agenda when the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators meets in Delhi on Friday, for their third meeting.
Headed by former CAG Vinod Rai, the other members of the CoA are Vikram Limaye, Ramchandra Guha and Diana Edulji. Rahul Johri, the BCCI CEO, and Gopal Sankaranarayanan, secretary to the Justice RM Lodha Committee, are also expected to be part of the meeting.

BCCI went by what police said, I don’t know why I am still banned, says S Sreesanth (The Indian Express)
“What Sawani did was go by the chargesheet of the Delhi Police. Sawani just duplicated what the Delhi Police was saying. This is gross injustice. And the BCCI’s disciplinary panel went by what the report said and was quick to punish me. There was only one conversation between me and my friend (Jiju Janardhan) where we are talking about going to an orphanage. The BCCI went purely by what the police said in the chargesheet. I don’t know why I am still banned after the court has said there is no evidence of corruption related to me,” said Sreesanth.

MS Dhoni’s success ‘unheard of’, ‘perfect ambassador of cricket’: Anil Kumble
Indian cricket team coach Anil Kumble on Thursday lauded Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his leadership qualities, saying he is the ‘perfect ambassador for the sport’.
“MS (Dhoni), coming from Ranchi, nobody expected that someone from Ranchi would be leading the country. And the way he has led the (team), 10 years as a captain, it’s extremely difficult. But to be Indian captain for 10 years is something unheard of and hats off to the way he conducted himself as a captain of the team. He was perfect ambassador for the sport,” said Kumble.

Hope BCCI allows few Indians in our T20 league: CSA CEO Haroon Lorgat (The Hindustan Times) 
Cricket South Africa (CSA) is hopeful the Indian Board will at least allow players not centrally contracted to feature in its new franchise Twenty20 league to be launched at the end of the year. A global tender was floated early this month for the #T20 Global Destination League.
Cricket South Africa CEO, Haroon Lorgat, is confident the eight-team league will have many takers and does not rule out even Indian Premier League owners buying teams. “We have got interest from all over, the US, UK, we got interest from the Middle East, Far East, and of course India and South Africa,” Lorgat told HT in a telephonic interview.

India vs Australia 2017: Australian pacers will need to take a lot of wickets to help Australia win this series, says Michael Clarke (The Indian Express) 
Australia have not been able to win a single Test in India since 2004 and skipper Steve Smith has already stated that if they can win the upcoming Test series then it will be a huge achievement. And according to former Australia captain Michael Clarke it is the pace attack comprising of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood and back-up Jackson Bird who will play a crucial role if Australia are going to win the series.
“Starc and Hazlewood will need to take a lot of wickets to help Australia win this series. Natural swing with the brand new ball, and especially reserve swing, is going to be really important to the Australian team. Australia is going to need everybody to really perform if they want to beat India in their own backyard,” he said.

Birmingham bids to include cricket at 2026 Commonwealth Games (ESPN Cricinfo)
Men’s cricket could return to the Commonwealth Games in 2026 if Birmingham wins the bid to be the host city. While women’s cricket will feature in the 2022 Games in Durban, men’s cricket has appeared only once. On that occasion, in Malaysia in 1998, the format was 50 overs per side (South Africa defeated Australia in the final). This time it would be played in the T20 format.

Nic Maddinson is one of 30 Australians going into Monday’s Indian Premier League auction (The Advertiser) 
AS Nic Maddinson edges closer to a return to cricket, the dumped Test batsman could face a $100,000 question on Monday in what shapes as the most interesting storyline to emerge from the IPL auction. The 25-year-old is on a self-imposed break from cricket, missing NSW’s past two Sheffield Shield games, but is one of 30 Australians set to go under the hammer at the auction in Bangalore. With a modest reserve price of $97,000 and an extensive history in Twenty20 cricket, mostly for the Sydney Sixers, Maddinson could loom as a handy pickup for a team looking for squad depth.