Without Bumrah & Kohli, Indian team faces new challenges in the Caribbeans


India's Virat Kohli getting bowled by England's Matthew Potts on the first day of 5th Test match between India and England, at Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham (ANI Photo/ICC Twitter)

India and West Indies will square off in three one-day internationals (ODIs) from July 22 to July 27. The 5-match T20I series will be played from July 29 to August 7

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Trinidad & Tobago (WI)

Team India had their first net practice session in Trinidad ahead of the first ODI against West Indies, which will take place on Friday. Shubman Gil, Arshdeep Singh and stand-in captain Shikhar Dhawan were among players who were seen sweating it out in the nets. “Gearing up for ODI No.1 against the West Indies Here’s @ShubmanGill giving a lowdown on #TeamIndia’s first net session in Trinidad #WIvIND,” tweeted BCCI.

In a video posted by BCCI, Gill described the indoor net session in a few words.

“We have come from UK. We all thought that a nets session would be good, but it started raining. So, we decided to go indoors for a session. It is better that we got to some knocking indoors instead of doing nothing. It felt good because as a batter, you like it when you get some balls to play. We got to do some specific things in the nets. I am feeling great and we are all excited about these three ODIs,” he said.

India has announced its squad for both ODI and T20I series. Senior players like Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah are missing from both squads.

The Indian team last toured West Indies in 2019. They both had two Tests, three ODIs and three T20Is. India won the Test series 2-0 and also won ODI and T20I series by 2-0 and 3-0 respectively.

Will be fearing playing against Virat: Ponting

Former Australia batter Ricky Ponting backed Virat Kohli and said that Team India should not drop him before the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

While Kohli struggled for runs during this year’s IPL and hasn’t made a century for his country in any format for almost three years, Ponting believes the 33-year-old is worth persisting with at the international level. “I think if I was an opposition captain or an opposition player, I will be fearing playing an Indian team that has Virat Kohli in it, more than I would be one that doesn’t have him in it. I know there have been some challenges for him, it’s been a difficult time,” said Ponting in the latest episode of The ICC Review.

“But every great player that I have seen in this game has been through it at some stage, whether that’s a batsman or a bowler, they have all been through it. And somehow, the best (players) find a way to rebound and respond, and it’s only a matter of time before Virat does that,” he added.

Ponting thinks if India do decide to omit Kohli for the T20 World Cup in Australia then there might be no way back for him.

“If you leave Virat out of the eve of the World Cup, and someone comes in and has a reasonable tournament, it will be hard for Virat to get back in it,” Ponting said.

“If I was India, I will keep pushing with him, because I know the upside. If they actually get him back confident and playing as well as he can, that upside is better than most. So, I think if I was a captain or a coach around the Indian set-up, I will be making life as easy as possible for him to feel as comfortable as possible, and just wait for him to flick the switch and start scoring runs again,” he added.

Ponting suggested selectors must find a spot for Kohli in India’s top-order and commit to leaving the champion batter there for the entirety of the T20 World Cup, with the hope he finds his best form during the knockout stages of the tournament.

“Early in the tournament, for a first-round game, (it’s important to) get him in nice and early, among the runs, and then hopefully by the end of the tournament you’ll have Virat Kohli back at his best,” Ponting said.

“That’s the way I would look at it. I wouldn’t think about holding him back at the start of the tournament, with the thought that you might be able to bring him back towards the back end and have him peak. Tournament play isn’t like that,” he added.

Pandya is a completely changed guy: Manjrekar

Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar said that Hardik Pandya has diversified himself more than a hard-hitting batter and he is now a ‘completely changed guy’.

A blistering century by Rishabh Pant followed by Hardik Pandya’s fifty guided Team India to a five-wicket victory over England in the series decider of the three-match series here at Manchester on Sunday. With the win, India clinched the ODI series 2-1 against England.

In the last ODI against England Pandya smashed 71 runs in 55 deliveries while picking four wickets conceding just 24 runs.

Speaking on SPORTS18’s show ‘SPORTS OVER THE TOP’, former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar said, “Absolutely, Hardik Pandya is a completely changed guy. First of all, picking him as one of their first players, before that his fitness was a problem, and his batting was an issue for the earlier franchise. Not only did they pick him, and back him as one of their marquee players they gave him the captaincy.”

“Just the way the league turned out for him. Hardik Pandya is a changed man now, there’s a lot of maturity, responsibility and ambition as well. I see a sense of ambition coming into him. And once you have that, wanting to grow within Indian Cricket then there’s tremendous motivation. He’s also addressing himself in the third person now. Hardik Pandya has arrived,” he added.

“Yes, just hoping that Hardik can keep his fitness together. No issues with Rishabh Pant. What we saw in that last one day, I was completely floored by the sheer talent and ability of these two guys, temperament as well, built a long partnership and how easily, in the end, India won. Thanks to Rishabh Pant for staying there till the end. So yes, high-quality batters, and they’re going to be batting mostly at number 4 and 5 whether it’s T20 Cricket or 50 overs cricket or Pant could be opening as well. In 2019, we had a lot of issues finding a proper middle order but now we have some quality supply,” he said.

Manjrekar said that Pant may seem irresponsible sometimes when he gets out to bat but he is incredible because of the kind of record he has in test cricket.

Lendl Simmons calls it quits

West Indies opening batter Lendl Simmons announced his retirement from international cricket on Monday.

Taking to Twitter, the Windies cricketer, who last played an international game in October 2021 against South Africa, issued a statement announcing his retirement. “When I wore the Maroon Colours of the West Indies Cricket for the first time on debut in ODIs on December 7th, 2006, little did I know that my international career would have lasted 16 years but my passion and love for the sport fuelled me every day. I am closing this chapter of International Cricket having played 144 matches and scoring 3,763 runs from all formats. I want to thank the West Indies Cricket Team for the opportunities, and I wish the new crop of WI players all the best and to keep on believing in yourselves and your abilities,” said Simmons in his statement.

“My family and friends are my true motivators as they kept me inspired for so long. Now, I have the time to be one cheering them on the sidelines. I really hope that I represented them well because I did it for them. There were times when the odds were against me, but you stood tall alongside me. Of course, the FANS, whenever we meet in person, cheering on in the stands or messages on social media…Despite the ups and downs, you all gave me the energy that was needed to bat on for so long,” he added.

Simmons advised the youngsters not to be ashamed of dreaming big, saying that it takes a lot of determination, focus and a strong mind to get over the numerous hurdles, but it is all worth it in the end.

“Cricket allowed me to travel the world, meet great people and experience different cultures leaving uncountable and meaningful memories. I never cheated the game; I gave it 100 per cent of hard work and that is why I was able to play Internationally for almost 16 years,” he continued.

“I still do extensive training and keep myself relatively fit, so my focus is to continue playing franchise cricket for as long as my body permits. Hopefully, I can continue to entertain the people of my region and all over the world for a few more years as I am still timing the ball beautifully and beating bowling,” he concluded. He leaves this sport as a player as a part of the West Indies team that won the ICC World T20 title in 2012 and 2016. His knock of 82* against India in the semi-finals of the 2016 edition of the event is one of the major highlights of his career.

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