A compelling day of Test cricket, which saw India’s dominate before Sri Lanka fought their way back in Kandy, grabbed everyone’s attention on Sunday (August 13), though Lalit Modi’s exit from cricket raised a few eyebrows too.
Meanwhile, in an interview with The Times of India, Mike Hussey spoke about the parallels between Virat Kohli and Ricky Ponting’s captaincy, explained why Mahendra Singh Dhoni should retire on his own terms, and suggested Australia were in with a chance to win a series in India this year.
Elsewhere, Mitchell Swepson was preparing to play in Australia’s coming Test series against Bangladesh, and Mark Craig was eyeing a long-awaited comeback.
Spoke in the juggernaut wheel (The Indian Express)
For the first time in the series, Sri Lanka showed some spine. They seemed down and out after the Indian openers racked up 188 but fought back from the brink, outdoing India’s aggression with their own aggression. India were restricted to their lowest first-day total in the series—329 for 6 wickets, the corresponding numbers were 393/3 in Galle and 343/3 in Colombo. It might seem a touch odd to talk up a team when their opponents aren’t exactly in an unhappy situation – with Wriddhiman Saha in, India could still go over 400 – but the Sri Lankan fight back was heartwarming. After all, who likes a one-sided contest?
The Harmans of Moga: Dreams of cricketer Harmanpreet Kaur’s village (The Indian Express)
Ditching a track about twirled moustaches, the burly Ludhianvi cab driver switches to the Sufi singer Arif Lohar’s mellifluous rendition of Jugni. The folk instruments chimta and tumbi tug at the heartstrings before the words Alif Allah Chambe di booti in Lohar’s sonorous voice fill the car. It’s to this apt soundtrack that we start our journey to understand the growing cult of Harmanpreet Kaur in the heart of Punjab. Apt because Harmanpreet, India’s latest cricket icon, isn’t unlike ‘Jugni’, which means a female firefly and, metaphorically, an unencumbered spirit wandering from place to place. The 28-year-old from Moga illuminated the recent edition of the ICC Women’s World Cup with her incandescent batting. And in doing so, she forced her way into — or ‘jaa vadi’ as our folk heroine does in the ballads — the imagination of a people hitherto indifferent to women’s cricket.
A basic honesty shines through his visage. Integrity was ingrained in his cricket. Add to that skill and intelligence and you got a wholesome package that was Michael Hussey. This left-hander had his heart in the right place, put his hand up in times of adversity and manipulated the bowling with a brand of cricket that was solid and smart. A team-man, he comprehended the game’s ebb and flow, could change gears.
Pujara’s place among the winning lot (The Hindu)
Contributing to winning causes is the primary aim of any sportsperson playing team sport. In Test cricket, there are players who stand out for their consistency – they tend to generally be major components of victories and this is reflected in their batting averages or bowling strike-rates. Then there are some who rise to the occasion when needed the most and are invariably the key reason why their teams get over the hump and win a game. Cheteshwar Pujara’s centuries in the first two Tests in Sri Lanka set up India’s series victory and positioned India to achieve a rare clean sweep in a three (and plus) Test series overseas.
‘Shades of Ponting in Virat’s captaincy’ (The Times of India)
In the city for a commentary stint in the Tamil Nadu Premier League, former Australian cricketer Mike Hussey talks about the parallels between Virat Kohli and Ricky Ponting’s captaincy, explains why Dhoni should retire on his own terms and why there is a fantastic chance for Australia to win a series in India this year.
LaMo exit could end RCA exile (The Times of India)
Lalit Modi’s ‘exit from cricket’ may not have any significant impact in the Indian context, but it will certainly be a game-changer for Rajasthan. Modi is the hurdle that the BCCI wanted removed to reinstate Rajas than Cricket Association’s affiliation. Now that the man has himself decided to step aside, the Indian board does not have any reasons to keep the RCA alienated. However, there could be many games within the game that need to be sorted out first and sceptics are keeping fingers their cross. Modi’s announcement on his favourite medium Twitter a few minutes before the stroke of midnight on Friday would have come as a relief to many, but then the match is not over yet. Although he has posted three lengthy letters addressed to RCA members, his well-wishers and BCCI CEO Rahul Johri (why him?), an official communication from him might not have yet reached the office of District Cricket Association of Nagaur (DCAN), of which he is the president.
Ravindra Jadeja’s suspension is a blessing in disguise (Deccan Chronicle)
Ravindra Jadeja will obviously not see it that way, but the one match suspension he got for breaching ICC’s Code of Conduct in the second Test at Colombo may actually be of benefit for the Indian team, even if obliquely. Jadeja will only be a spectator in the third and last Test of the current series that began on Saturday. At Colombo, he was in spanking good form with bat and ball and was named man of the match, ahead of other strong claimants Cheteshwar Pujara and R Ashwin.
Mark Craig eyes long-awaited comeback (New Zealand Herald)
Cricketer Mark Craig has been through rougher patches in the last year than anything which might emerge on the fifth day of a subcontinental pitch. The New Zealand off-spinning all-rounder suffered a side strain after the first test against India in September, busted a medial collateral ligament in his knee upon returning home, and required surgery in February to fix a bulging disc in his back. October 23 is the date penciled-in for the start of the Plunket Shield. If Craig plays the opening match for Otago, it will be more than a year since he appeared at provincial or international level.
Mitchell Swepson preparing to play in Test series (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mitchell Swepson will prepare to play in Australia’s coming Test series against Bangladesh but concedes he is probably third in line behind fellow spinners Nathan Lyon and Ashton Agar. Having been part of the Australian touring party that relinquished the Border-Gavaskar trophy in India earlier this year, Queensland leg-spinner Swepson was a late addition to the squad for the two-Test Bangladesh series and is in Darwin for the pre-tour camp which features a three-day intra-squad match beginning on Monday.
Moeen Ali’s hat-trick at the Oval was the first by an England spinner since 1938. But there could have been another in Lahore in 1977. In a new book, Yorkshire’s Geoff Cope recalls his Test debut against Pakistan. At the end of the second day, on a lifeless pitch, Pakistan had reached 350 for five, with their opener Mudassar Nazar crawling to the slowest century – nine hours 17 minutes – in the history of first-class cricket. Yorkshire off-spinner Geoff Cope had bowled 32 eight-ball overs without reward. The following morning, as Pakistan looked to push on, he took his first Test wicket: Wasim Raja, stumped by Bob Taylor.
England’s players have had ‘colour vision’ eye tests in preparation for the first day-night Test in this country against West Indies at Edgbaston on Thursday. The examinations, which took place during the third and fourth Tests against South Africa in London and Manchester, are designed to ensure that batsmen and fielders can see the pink ball clearly enough, although the ECB admitted that lab conditions cannot always replicate those found on the field.