Covid and Lyon pose new threats for Indian team


Australia, Dec 18 (ANI): Australian squad tries to grab the wicket during the first test match of the series in Adelaide on Friday. (Photo Courtesy: ICC Twitter/ ANI Photo)

Cricket Australia is closely monitoring the situation after Sydney reported a fresh Covid-19 outbreak

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Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting feels spinner Nathan Lyon, who is just nine wickets away from his 400th Test scalp, can be a “massive threat” for visitors in the ongoing four-match Test series.

The Australian spinner claimed the big wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara for the tenth time in Test cricket on Thursday. Ponting feels Pujara looked unsettled against Lyon and said the right-handed spinner will be a massive threat for Indian batsmen as he bowls very few bad balls. “He’s had as much success as any spinner, I think, against India over the years,” quoted Ponting as saying.

“He’s got Virat Kohli out (in Tests) more than anybody in the history of the game, he looked like he troubled Pujara a lot today. He builds pressure, he bowls very few bad balls so he’ll be a massive threat for them,” he added.

Ponting also explained the reason as to why he thinks that the spinner will be a major strike weapon for Australia.

“When he creates the angle from wide and angles back in, that really only challenges the inside half of the bat and a glove whereas if he can get it out a little bit wider it brings the catch at slip in play,” said Ponting.

“It brings a bat-pad off-side catch into play and if you get the extra bounce, like Pujara’s wicket, you can still get the wicket at leg slip as well,” he added.

India folded up for 244 as the visitors were able to add only 11 runs to their overnight score. But the Indian bowlers brought the visitors right back in the game with spin spearhead R Ashwin leading the way as he picked the all-important wicket of Steve Smith for just 1.

Meanwhile, with an eye on the third Test between India and Australia, starting at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 7, Cricket Australia is closely monitoring the situation after Sydney reported a fresh Covid-19 outbreak.

The state governments are planning to tighten the borders across the nation and force early contingency planning around the SCG Test in the new year. CA may also think of shifting opener David Warner from Sydney to Melbourne to avoid any potential further border restrictions. Warner is continuing his recovery from the groin injury that ruled him out of the first Test.

Australia, Dec 17 (ANI): Indian skipper Virat Kohli and Australian skipper Tim Paine during the toss of First test match of the series at Adelaide Oval on Thursday. (Photo Courtesy: ICC Twitter/ ANI Photo)

According to an ESPNcricinfo report, multiple Sydney-based members of the broadcast production teams in Adelaide were stood down as a precaution on Friday morning, the commentator Brett Lee flew home to Sydney, and three members of the SEN commentary team — Gavin Robertson, Brad Haddin and Matt White — left Adelaide.

CA issued a directive to all media covering the Test match to report if they had visited the northern beaches region in the past three weeks. The cluster, centred around Avalon beach to Sydney’s north, is currently at 28 cases and counting, although New South Wales Health has successfully contact-traced all but one of these.

“There’s been lots of discussion and meetings of our medical experts, but this is the reason why throughout the summer we’ve had our players in bubbles in the hub,” ESPNcricinfo quoted CA’s interim chief executive Nick Hockley as saying to SEN Radio.

“We’re monitoring the situation; we’re not panicking at all, staying calm. Adelaide, a few weeks ago we had that pizza-shop outbreak and through that process we worked very calmly to get the players in Adelaide on a charter plane, out of Adelaide within 24 hours and that really saved the summer.

“We’ve got the Sydney Test and the BBL in NSW after that, so the fact we’re here in Adelaide, we’ve got the next Test in Melbourne, it’s really watch, wait and see and I think the governments around the country have handled the pandemic so well, so we’ll watch, learn and stay in touch,” he added.

Australia and India are currently playing the day-night Test at Adelaide Oval after which both teams will head to Melbourne to play the second Test which starts on December 26. Sydney will host the third Test of the series.

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