Retain Axar or bring in Chahal; India’s dilemma for England test

Melbourne, November 7: India stormed to the top of the ICC Mens T20 World Cup Group 2 Super 12 league last night by demolishing Zimbabwe by a staggering 71-run margin in their final clash at the massive Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The run-in to the semi-finals of the T20 cricket competition has been littered with inconsistent or even sub-par displays in the league stage.

In any competition of this nature, such a scenario presents itself, with first-rate performances by some members and average displays by others.

Virat Kohli, remains the top scorer of the tournament with 246 runs from the five matches in which his team had participated.

Suryakumar Yadav, who has scored more than 1200 runs this calendar year and also jumped to number one in the global rankings in this format of the game, is rapidly climbing towards the top of the run scorers list with a tally of 223.

His out-of-the-box strokeplay in this tournament, in which he employed some bold strokes seen before and others unseen, also brought him three half-centuries, including the brilliant 61 not out off 25 balls he made. in front of over 82,000 spectators at the MCG last night.

These two – Kohli and Surya Yadav – have been the standout performers with the bat for India.

In bowling, the pacers, as expected, dominated the show in conditions best suited to them.

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Left-arm bowler Arshdeep Singh tops the Indian team on the puppet list with 10 victims in 5 matches entering the semi-final against England on November 10 at the Adelaide Oval.

Next on the list is Hardik Pandya with 8 wickets after his haul of 2 for 16 against Zimbabwe on Sunday night.

Among the Indian spinners, the highly experienced Ravichandran Ashwin grabbed 6 wickets after his impressive figures of 3 for 22 against Zimbabwe.

The spinners, barring Sri Lankan leggie Wanindu Hasaranga (15 wickets, including the qualification round in which India did not feature), found the going tough in the chilly conditions here.

Ashwin told reporters here at the mixed zone that under the lights the ball skidded on the bat and there was not much purchase for the slow bowlers.

“You have to understand that we are playing in different conditions. Today there were day matches in Adelaide (where the spinners did well) but we will play a night match (against England in the semi-final). In the match we played there (against Bangladesh) the ball was slipping good for the team batting second We can’t go in with preconceived notions,” Ashwin said during his media meet in the mixed zone after the Zimbabwe clash.

“The commissioners also know how to prepare the playing field for the semi-finals. You have to play what is in front of us. I’m looking forward to playing in the semis,” he added.

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His spin partner, left-arm orthodox tweaker Axar Patel has been quite expensive at times and has claimed just three wickets in four matches (he was not in the eleven in one match).

Are there any concerns about Axar’s bowling in the last four? asked team coach Rahul Dravid in the post presser of the Zimbabwe match.

“In few matches. But he had good matches too. Again, that’s the nature of this tournament, this format,” Dravid said.

“It can happen in this format. It doesn’t worry me necessarily. Yes, he would like to have a better day than today. But having said that, he was someone who played very well for us over the last period of time,” commented the former India captain.

“The nature of this format is that you can take it apart, especially on a day like today when they lost a lot of wickets there, nothing to lose, they could go after him. And he’s really good too. I think he’s played well in a few games and he’s taken a few too wickets in those games, and I thought he bowled really well against Bangladesh just before the rain break. He bowled an over for six runs,” he further explained.

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Leggie Yuzvendra Chahal, until recently a regular in the playing eleven, did not feature in any of the five league matches.

Dravid did not rule out Chahal’s inclusion when asked if the Haryana leggie had any chance of making the eleven at the Adeaide Oval on November 10 against England.

“We’ll have to go there and see. I watched some of the games today and I know the pitches were slow and gripped and spun a bit. Maybe we’re playing a whole new strip in Adelaide, and the strip we played against Bangladesh, to be honest, no it was done. It was, again, a different kind of wicket, and it was played in Adelaide as well,” Dravid said at the post-match press conference in Zimbabwe.

“I don’t think I can sit here after a game and predict what’s going to happen there. We’ll have a couple of days. We’ll go and have a look at that wicket and see what we think he can do. Of course, if it’s slow we’ll play according to those situations .If we think he can play differently, then we’ll have to build a team that matches that.

“As I said earlier, I think we have a completely open mind about all of our 15. Whoever we have to pick is not going to make us a weaker team,” he elaborated.


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