Bumrah rises in ICC rankings, Kohli slips and Pujara & Rahane regain lost form


Jasprit Bumrah bowls on the the 3rd day of the first Test cricket match between South Africa and India, at SuperSport Park in Centurion (ANI Photo)

Our Bureau
Johannesburg (South Africa)

India opening batter KL Rahul has made a huge gain of 18 slots to reach 31st position among batters in the ICC Men’s Test Player Rankings after his Player of the Match effort in Centurion that helped India defeat South Africa by 113 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami are other Indians to move up the rankings. Bumrah is up to three spots to ninth after finishing with five wickets in the match while Shami’s eight wickets, including a five-for in the first innings, see him move up two places to 17th.

Rahul, whose best in the format is in the eighth position that he attained in November 2017, struck 123 in the first innings and was associated in an important 117-run opening partnership with Mayank Agrawal (60) as India became the first Asian team to win a Test match at the venue while gaining important points in the WTC points table.

India skipper Virat Kohli has dropped two slots and he is now in the ninth spot in the rankings. Rohit Sharma is static at the fifth spot in the Test rankings.

Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has held onto his second spot in the Test bowling rankings.

Agarwal has gained one place for his contribution while Ajinkya Rahane is up two places to 25th in the latest update that is carried out on Wednesdays and includes all matches that are completed by Tuesday each week.

For South Africa, captain and opener Dean Elgar have progressed two spots to 14th after a fighting 77 in the second innings while Temba Bavuma is up 16 places to 39th for his scores of 52 and 35 not out.

Kagiso Rabada, who grabbed seven scalps, has advanced one place to sixth position while his fellow fast bowler Lungi Ngidi has gained 16 slots and is 30th on the list after finishing with eight wickets in the match. Debutant left-arm fast bowler Marco Jensen entered the rankings in 97th position.

Nothing extra, says Pujara on his valiant knock

Cheteshwar Pujara might have scored fifty on Wednesday but the Indian batter feels he didn’t do any extra effort for his knock-on Day Three of the second Test against South Africa.

Pujara along with Ajinkya Rahane stitched a 111-run stand for the third wicket and helped India extend their lead on Wednesday. Both batters were going through a lean patch but ended up hitting crucial fifties on Day Three of the second Test. “This pitch has variable bounce and it’s not easy whenever you get a variable bounce, you put it away because you never know when you will get an unplayable ball. It was a part of my game, that if get a loose ball I’ll try and convert it,” said Pujara in the post-match press conference after the end of day three’s play.

“But I didn’t do anything extra, I have been batting well and it was one of those days when everything went as per my plan. Overall really happy with the way things went and I think my partnership with Ajinkya was very crucial, given that we were at a stage where we wanted some runs for the team,” he added.

South Africa need 122 runs to win the second Test against India with six sessions left in the match here. Pujara is confident that India will seal the match on Thursday despite not picking “many” wickets on Day Three.

“Whenever you have some runs on the board it always helps, if you look at this game it has been a challenging pitch but we have runs on the board, so the game is still very balanced. We haven’t picked up too many wickets today but we are confident that we’ll have more chances tomorrow,” said Pujara.

Indian Test captain Virat Kohli had a spasm on his upper back on Monday morning and was ruled out of the second Test.

“He (Kohli) is definitely getting better and I feel he will soon be fit,” said Pujara on Wednesday.

Learn to take it kid, says Steyn after Bumrah stares down at Jansen

Former South African player Dale Steyn on Wednesday advised India’s Jasprit Bumrah to ‘take it’ after the latter was involved in a heated confrontation with the Proteas’ bowler Marco Jansen on Day 3 of the ongoing second Test match in Johannesburg.

The incident happened in the 54th over of India’s second innings when tailender Bumrah couldn’t connect properly on a short delivery from Jansen. Following that the pair confronted each other mid-pitch and let loose a barrage of words. On the previous delivery too, the pair were seen sharing glares following a short delivery by the Proteas bowler. The 28-year-old Indian eventually lost his wicket in the 57th over, outside edging a delivery by Lungi Ngidi as Jansen caught it with ease.

“I swear I remember Bumrah doing the same thing to a Mr James Anderson not too long ago. Learn to take it kid,” Dale Steyn replied to a Tweet that read: “That look from Marco at Bumrah. Yep, if you dish it out you will receive it.”

Really simple to bowl on Jo’burg wicket: Ngidi

South Africa pacer Lungi Ngidi on Wednesday said that it is really easy to bowl on Johannesburg wicket and it is about staying patient.

Ngidi’s remarks came ahead of the start of Day 3 of the ongoing second Test against India here at the Wanderers. “I was a bit unlucky yesterday, didn’t get enough overs to bowl. But it’s really simple to bowl on this wicket, you just need to stick to the line outside off and bring the slips into play. It’s about the patience game,” Ngidi told host broadcaster Star Sports before the start of Day 3.

“To keep it consistent, that’s the plan today. Try to make the batters play as much as possible and keep it simple, that’s my job. We ended up bowling full yesterday, so we need to be patient and be consistent with our line and length. That’ll build pressure,” he added.

Shardul Thakur picked seven wickets as South Africa was bundled out for 229 in the first innings of the second Test on Tuesday.

India in the second innings got off to a bad start as stand-in skipper KL Rahul was dismissed in the seventh over. India’s problem further increased when Mayank Agarwal offered no shot and was given LBW out in the 12th over.

Pujara (35*) and Rahane (11) then made sure that India doesn’t suffer any more hiccups as the visitors ended the day at 85/2 with a lead of 58 runs.

‘It’s morale booster’: Shardul on receiving praise from Sachin Tendulkar

Indian bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur expressed his happiness after he being praised by cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar.

Shardul Thakur picked seven wickets as South Africa was bundled out for 229 in the first innings of the second Test on Tuesday. Taking to Twitter, Tendulkar wrote, “Congratulations to @imShard on picking up 7 wickets with his steady bowling and variations. Good support by the others.”

On being asked by bowling coach Paras Mhambrey about how he felt after reading the tweet, Shardul said that the praises from Sachin are always a ‘morale booster’ for him.

“It’s my pleasure that the God himself has tweeted about me. Being a Mumbaikar, I have played a few games with him. He has always supported me as a youngster and it’s always good to hear from him, it is a morale booster,” Shardul told Paras Mhambrey.

Apart from Sachin, former India batter VVS Laxman also congratulated Shardul for his ‘lion-hearted display’.

“Lion-hearted display by Shardul Thakur. Best figures by an Indian against South Africa, thoroughly deserved his seven wickets for persistence and intelligence. Has single-handedly brought India back into the second Test. Over to the batters now. #SAvIND,” tweeted Laxman.

Former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan also wrote, “Fantastic from shardul. Impressive bowling with an older ball!”

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