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The second day of first test match between India and Sri Lanka ended with India leading by 192 runs before the end of their first innings. As the second inning started, Sri Lanka did not play very well at the start and it lost its openers very soon.

Sri Lankan cricket team
By the end of second day Sri Lanka was at 5 for the loss of two wickets. As soon as the third day started Indian bowlers continued to bowl impressively. Ishant Sharma and Aaron continued to bowl well.

However, Mathews retained his aggressive approach despite the loss of three wickets. Sangakara too appeared to be in a positive frame of mind. Mathews and Sangakara contributed a lot for the fourth wicket in order to realize that Sri Lankans have the potential to build a strong total against the opponents.
As soon as the Sri Lankan batsmen were making score aggressively, the Indian bowlers especially the spinners retained their passion to target them and finally they threw the top batsmen Sangakara and Mathews by their superb bowling skills. India restricted Sri Lanka to 108 for five in their second innings at lunch on the third day of the first Test at Galle.

Jehan Mubarak joined Chandimal as Sri Lanka added another 82 runs for the seventh wicket to give Sri Lanka a realistic chance to stay in the game. In case if India won this match it would be the first time a team chasing a target of 100 plus successfully in the fourth innings at Galle. Sri Lanka with 99 for the loss of three wickets had defeated Pakistan while chasing in the fourth innings in 2014.

Third day of the match proved to be lucky for both Indian and Sri Lankan players individual performances. In India's case, Ajinkya Rahane made a record by taking eight superb catches, he took three wickets in the first innings of this test match. Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal became his victims. And in the 2nd innings Dhammika Prasad, Kumar Sangakkara the most desirable catch indeed for the Indians, Thirimanne, Jehan Mubarak and Rangana Herath were dismissed by some great catching by Rahane . In short India has been stunning in its performance throughout the innings played yet.

 By the end of the third day India was chasing 176 runs to win the first Test match against Sri Lanka, And they were 23 for the loss of only one wicket on the third day at Galle. Shikhar Dhawan was unbeaten on 13 and Ishant Sharma was on five. Although India is inching towards the win steadily day by day but there is a hope for Sri Lanka as well and that hope was rekindled by Dinesh Chandimal, as he put his effort by making a healthy target of 176 against India. Tomorrow will be the most important day for both the teams, Sri Lanka must prepare its bowlers to hit a target cleverly by knowing the weaknesses of the opponent. If Sri Lanka stopped India by not making them above 200 or more, then there will be hopes for them.

Article contributed by: Muhammad Zahid

Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli added 262 runs for fourth wicket on day three at the MCG


Dec 28, 2014
Melbourne

Centuries from Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli ensured that India showed some kind of a fightback on the 3rd day of the 3rd Test between India and Australia at the MCG.

After loosing Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay cheaply in the morning, Rahane and Kohli batted with abundance and took the attack to the Australian fast bowlers. Rahane in particular was impressive in attacking anything short that was bowled to him and he took the charge in the partnership with Kohli.

Virat Kohli showed the maturity in the best innings that he has played on this toured and he let Rahane play the attacker's part. Ajinkya Rahane was severe when it came to short bowling from Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris.

Rahane hared to his highest test score of 147 and his 3rd century of his test career. After his dismissal, the debutant KL Rahul had a short but adventurous stay at the wicket. He was dropped of his second ball by substitute Peter Siddle, before getting out to Lyon, trying to sweep him out of the Melbourne cricket ground.

Australia struck back with quick wickets of MS Dhoni and R.Ashwin to go on the top, before getting the prized wicket of Virat Kohli, who was brilliantly caught by Brad Haddin off the bowling of Mitchell Johnson in the last over of the day's play. Kohli made his highest score in test cricket with this matured innings of 169.

India are now 68 runs behind with 2 wickets in hand. They will pray that the tail wags and they can at least wipe off the deficit and then hope to bowl out Australia for something reasonable to chase on the final day.

 Fact: The partnership of 262 between Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli is the second 250 partnership in 90 years on this ground by a visiting team.
The last such partnership was when England openers Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe posted a 283 run stand in 1925.

The champions will go into the Cricket World Cup with the ability to obliterate any side in the tournament. With a side completely different from the 2011 event, India have only four survivors left in the form of Ravichandran Ashwin, MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina. Never short of talent, India have the perfect balance between bowling attack and their batting department. The side has recovered since the loss of coach Gary Kirsten who led them to World Cup glory.

Virat Kohli posing after winning the Man [Image from flickr by himanisdas]
Over the last four years inconsistent displays, injuries and player form has hampered their continued domination. In 2013 glory at the ICC Champions signaled the return of the Indian team They have found the right balance as they look to be a force in 2015. They go into next years' World Cup as credible contenders and will be wise for opponents to take them serious. Could the Asians win their third World Cup title? Winning the last two major 50-over events highlights their abilities to master knock out cricket. Who will be in the final squad to take on the world? Yuvraj Singh, who beat cancer and was the star of the World Cup (362 runs and 15 wickets) and Gautam Gambhir are among the notable absentees.

India 2015 World Cup probable squad

MS Dhoni (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Robin Uthappa, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Manoj Tiwary, Manish Pandey, Wriddhiman Saha, Sanju Samson, Ravichandran Ashwin, Parvez Rasool, Karan Sharma, Amit Mishra, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma, Bhubaneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Dhawal Kulkarni, Stuart Binny, Mohit Sharma, Ashok Dinda, Kuldeep Yadav, Murali Vijay

Key Players:

MS Dhoni is the heart of the Indian cricket since the retirement of their greatest cricketer of all time. A man of the match performance in the 2011 World Cup, great captaincy, leadership and a hero for the side: A winner and has the ability to win games with the bat or the glove: A beacon in 2011.


Virat Kohli has assumed the Test match captain while MS Dhoni was injured. The role came naturally as the young star could assume the role of captaincy post world cup. The player has just peaked as a batsman in the last seven ODI innings and has an impressive average of 74, mastering two centuries and three half centuries. The thought of his combination with Rohit Sharma (famous 264) could be enough to drive them towards the title.

Article contributed by: Benedict Chanakira

Twitter: @bchanakira2

Coming into the first test match, many fans rejoiced at the thought of Virat Kohli leading out the team in place of MS Dhoni, who has been heavily criticized over the past few years for his patient captaincy in the test side. However, I, on the other hand, was terrified. I thought that our team's inexperience will definitely be exposed by the captain, and my thoughts were reaffirmed with the team selection. Although there were many positives to this test match, I feel as though ultimately the team selection was the key area where we, the fans, were terribly let down. Here are a few players who deserved to be in the team for this test match:

Naman Ojha

Naman Ojha
Yes, Naman Ojha. You might think that this is a terrible call, however, the facts prove otherwise. Wriddhiman Saha has been on the peripheries of the Indian team for a long while now, however, I feel as though there are many other rising keepers in India who maybe deserve the spot more than him. One of these keepers is definitely Naman Ojha. A prolific spin player, Ojha has a steady temperament as well as the capability to bombard the opposition with muscled sixes. This was something we needed in this match, particularly, as Saha showed how poor his decision making was with that dismissal of his. Being a fan of the SunRisers, I watched Ojha bat throughout the IPL, and what impressed me the most was his ability to read spin and become a nightmare for spinners. In a test match where India were dominated by Nathan Lyon, perhaps this would have been a decision worth making, and a gamble which would have likely paid off. Ojha also impressed in the matches where he featured for India A, however it seems like his efforts have gone unheard to a bullish group of selectors.

Lokesh Rahul

Lokesh Rahul
Perhaps this young Indian was more worthy of a call up than Karn Sharma. Although it would have certainly been very weird to have seen him being picked over Rohit Sharma, I can see why many people were asking for this to happen. [Again] having watched him over the course of the IPL, I can say that he is definitely going to be an important part of the future Indian test side. Many might think that IPL is all about bashing and slogging, however, Rahul was the anchor of the SRH batting line up. Similar to Cheteshwar Pujara, Rahul seemed juxtaposition amongst a slog fest around him. Known for his temperament, Rahul's cool headedness impressed me the most about him, especially considering the world class bowlers he faced, including Mitchell Johnson. His technique is also quite sound, and in many ways he can be seen as someone who just needs a chance to rise up to the occasion. Prior to the IPL, Rahul also had a decent Ranji Trophy season, further justifying his claim for a spot in the team.

Ravindra Jadeja

Ravindra Jadeja
Jadeja was a mainstay under Dhoni's captaincy; however, as soon as Dhoni becomes absent, he is removed from the team. Could it possibly be that only Dhoni is the cricketer who truly understands the importance of Jadeja?! Jadeja's spin impressed me against England, and time and time again Dhoni defended his selection ahead of Ashwin because his accuracy and ability to land the deliveries "on the rough". Now that is something Lyon does very well, and just imagine if India actually chose the cricketer who could have exploited the worn pitch similar to Nathan Lyon. Moreover, Jadeja also brings some batting to the fray, similar to Mitchell Marsh, whose runs proved invaluable in this test match. Hopefully the selectors learn from this mistake, and don't repeat it anytime soon.

Umesh Yadav

Umesh Yadav
An Indian fast bowler who actually has discipline, it boggles my mind as to why Varun Aaron keeps getting selected over Yadav. Yadav can actually swing the ball, and has way more discipline than Aaron. Also, he's a quickie. After watching Aaron's performance, need I say more? It was a bad decision to keep him on the sidelines again as India's bowling department drew blanks once again. Last time he played against Australia, he took 14 wickets in a 4-match series, something I doubt Aaron can pull off now.

Suresh Raina

Suresh Raina
Raina has had a fantastic year: A great IPL, followed by great displays for India's ODI side. A year or so ago, even suggesting that Raina could have a shot in the test side would have been ridiculed. However, it seems like the tables have turned now. With the help of Ganguly, Raina seems to have conquered the short ball, something he was tortured within the IPL and the ODIs in which he had played in. Seeing that Rohit Sharma, also known to be a much better limited overs specialist, could make the team, I think it would be fair to give Raina a chance too. The position at which Sharma batted is Raina's natural, and he would easily slip into the team, as he also offers spin, similar to Sharma.

Players Who Need Serious Improvements

Shikar Dhawan - Outside of home, Dhawan has been so poor it cannot be described. The only thing that is keeping his place in the side is his performances in the long gone Champions Trophy, and his century in New Zealand. I think it is about time Rahane or someone like Rahul got a chance to open, and Vijay got the chance to play with someone he can trust to form a partnership with.

Rohit Sharma - Similar to Dhawan, he is very poor outside the subcontinent. Swing exposes his lazy and careless footwork, and Lyon's spin seemed to have shown his poor decision making too. It is about time he started showing why he even deserves a place in the Test team, and cannot be labelled as a One Day and T20 Specialist.

Article contributed by: Mayank Tiwary

Twitter: @VanPerseing

They say history repeats itself. Well, it did repeat the 2011 ordeal for India again. Saving the Lord's test win, India lost the 5 test series 1-0 up, loosing the last 3 tests by big margins.

Now India are set to play England in  another 5 ODI series. Last time they lost the series 3-0 to the English. Even in the ODI series then, Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane played a big role along with MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli. But still India lost the series and the lone T20 match.

Now India has a lot to avenge after the humiliating loss in the test series. They would be helped by the return of ODI specialist Suresh Raina, who brings an attacking brand of cricket, electric fielding and a general sense of enthusiasm in the team. Also inclusion of Mohit Sharma will give the tired legs of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar a chance to rest. His tiredness was visible in the final 2 tests of the series.

The famed Indian batting lineup, failed in the final 3 tests of the series but in ODI format, it is a different matter altogether. India are ranked number 2 in the ODI list. Indian team won the Champions trophy last year which was held in England, beating England in the final.

India also defeated Middlesex in the only practice game they got to play. The main stars of the match were Virat Kohli, who scored a century and leg spinner Karn Sharma, who picked up 3 wickets.

It would be interesting to see what lineup Dhoni selects. With the form of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma's problem against swing at high pace as seen in South Africa and New Zealand, Dhoni might want to open with Ajinkya Rahane along with Shikhar Dhawan.

It would also be interesting to see the pace and spin combination he decides to go with. With Mohd.Shami, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron,Dhawal Kulkarni,Mohit Sharma at his disposal and the addition of Karn Sharma, it would be really interesting to see the team combination.
                                                                                                                                                                            


As with England, they have a settled ODI lineup and with the inclusion of the explosive Alex Hales, they are more than ready to take on the Indian team.

The series is sure poised to be a cracker and India is expected to perform more credibly than they did in the test series.

The first ODI will be played in Bristol and live telecast will start at 3.00 pm IST.

Squads:
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin, Stuart Binny, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhawal Kulkarni, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Sanju Samson, Karn Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav.

England: Alastair Cook, (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Eoin Morgan, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes.

India's middle order collapsed twice as England comfortably beat the visitors by an innings and 54 runs, giving the hosts a 2-1 lead in the series with only one match left.

Team India had renewed hope coming into this match, with the selectors making a positive decision to leave out Shikar Dhawan and bringing in the experienced Gautam Gambhir. Ravichandaran Ashwin and Varun Aaron had also been selected, as Mohammed Shami and Rohit Sharma made way.

However, the false sense of security following those decisions did not last long. After winning the toss, captain MS Dhoni strangely decided to have a bat first on a decent bowling track with overcast conditions. As expected, the wrong decision proved very costly, as India were bowled out for merely 152 runs.

In reply, England made 367 runs, and gained a gigantic lead of over 200 runs, giving themselves the initiative in the match. Although spells from Bhuvuneshwar Kumar and Varun Aaron helped India get rid of the middle order top and middle order fairly quickly, once again India were unable to get rid of either Joe Root or Jos Buttler before the damage had been done, as the pair excelled at the crease together, forming a formidable partnership rescuing England as well as ensuring they got a noteworthy lead.

England lost in form seamer Stuart Broad when a Varun Aaron bouncer snuck through his helmet and hit him right in the nose, meaning Cook would have to continue without one of his premier fast bowlers. Keeping this in mind, along with the decent batting conditions, it looked as though India could set a good score in the 3rd innings, but that never happened.

Team India's opening stance was once again a small one, with Murali Vijay getting out to a Chris Woakes delivery. Although Pujara and Gambhir seemed to have weathered the storm after his dismissal, as the two played 91 deliveries combined, both got out on fairly cheap scores. Pujara might have been deemed unlucky to have been given out leg before on a delivery which was definitely missing leg stump, however he once again underestimated Moeen Ali, as did most of the other batsman.

Following the dismissals of Gambhir and Pujara, Kohli and Rahane walked in. Kohli, who had been in a torrid form of late, would have been hoping for a big score as always. Rahane, on the other end, had shown great maturity throughout this series, but his one downfall had been Moeen Ali, who once again dismissed him. Kohli edged to slip off a Jimmy Anderson ball once again, and both bastman were dismissed very quickly. Jadeja was also found guilty of playing a bad shot to a Moeen Ali ball. After that, it was just a matter of time and the Indian batting order were sent back as quickly as they came in.

Now, with a do-or-die situation in their hands, Duncan Fletcher and his coaching staff will need to work very hard to ensure that the middle order does not collapse again. The collapse has been happening throughout the series, but so far innings like Vijay's or Rahane's in the previous tests have covered this up.

Fletcher and the selectors did make some encouraging changes in the side, as the inclusions of Gambhir, Ashwin and Aaron all reaped rewards in some way. Gambhir spent more time on the pitch than Dhawan ever could, Aaron showcased his brilliance and Ashwin shined with the bat, getting scores of 40 and 46* in 2 innings. The team must take the positives from this match, no matter how hard it might be, and move on. With the team needing a win to draw the series in the final clash, Fletcher has a lot of work to do, especially with the middle order (Kohli especially) and the fielding in the slip cordons.

Written by Mayank Tiwary.

Fresh off a valiant victory at Lord's, Team India were favourites coming into the match, as the pressure on England captain Alastair Cook seemed to have reached a new high. Cook, who was in wretched form coming into this match, had been an even worse captain than he had been a batsman in the last couple of months. Dhoni, on the other hand, had proven to be a mastermind in India's win at Lord's, and undoubtedly his confidence was running high.

There was huge pressure on the home side, with the media heavily criticizing their coach, captain and players before the start of the match. There was also, a massive question mark over Cook's future as the English captain, as he had been the biggest scapegoat for the defeat suffered at Lord's. To cause even more disarray in the English dressing room, ex-English international Kevin Pietersen had publicly come out and said, alongside Piers Morgan, that Cook is not the right man to lead the English side. And finally, to put the icing on the cake, experienced wicket keeper Matt Prior, who had a dreadful two matches, suddenly announced that he needed time off from cricket, similar to Jonathan Trott, forcing England to play with the inexperienced Jos Buttler in a make-or-break encounter. It all seemed to be falling apart for England, right in the middle of the series. Surely India would easily capitalize and firmly secure their grips on the series? 

However, things did not go smoothly for India at all in this match. Throughout the course of five days, there was not a single session in which Dhoni could say that his team dominated their opponent. Truth be told, England had managed to outplay India in every department, whether it be bowling, batting or even fielding. But where did it all go wrong for India?
Disappointment: Rohit Sharma failed to grasp the opportunity provided to him

It all went wrong before the match had even started. Firstly, the selectors got it all wrong. Once again, they decided to show blind faith in Shikhar Dhawan, who had nothing to show for the faith that had been placed in him. A long opening stance is very crucial for any team, and with Dhawan opening for India it was ensured that the Indian opening partnership would not last for long. Although he is a good player, his technique becomes his own enemy when playing outside the sub-continent, and so he shouldn't have been playing in this series at all. When a team has other options like the experienced Gambhir or Ajinkya Rahane, it seems ridiculous how the selectors keep insisting on playing Dhawan every match.

Not only did they get the selection of Dhawan wrong, they also surprisingly opted to include Rohit Sharma. At the time, I must admit that the prospect of having an extra batsman seemed the right choice, but pretty soon it became pretty evident that is was definitely the wrong choice. Sharma merely made 34 runs in two innings, and like the rest of the bowlers, did not impress with the ball. The omission of Ravi Ashwin now seems a foolish decision, as he could have made the same amount of runs and also contribute with the bat.

Despite the selection errors, India had a strong team which should have easily been able to challenge the English side. But the most disappointing factor about the performance was the shocking batting. The decision making by the Indian batsmen were absolutely atrocious, as some poked at balls which they shouldn't be messing with, while others got out trying to slog.

The batsmen made Moeen Ali look like a lethal spinner. Hailing from the sub-continent, Indians are known to be excellent players of spin, and so I expected them to make a meal out of the part time off spinner, Moeen Ali. Instead, all of them got too cocky, took him too lightly and paid the price. If you just watch Rohit Sharma's dismissal in the first innings, it will sum up the attitude of the Indian batsman towards Ali's bowling. Alas, India paid the price for not showing Ali any respect, as the player who Sourav Ganguly refused to label as an all-rounder picked up 6 wickets in India's second innings alone.

Along with Ali, a half fit Stuart Broad and James Anderson once again terrorized the Indians. Broad and Anderson put on quite a display of where to pitch the ball during test matches on supposedly a 'flat pitch', something the Indian bowlers could take note of. The pair kept creating chances and kept swinging it past the outside edge, making the fall of wickets inevitable. The tremendous bowling effort by England showed that the pitch was certainly not flat, meaning the Indian bowlers have only themselves to blame for conceding over 500 runs in the first innings.

Furthermore, the little chances that the bowlers did create were dropped. An example would Jadeja's drop at slip in the first innings, after which the English batsmen went on to punish their opposition. The concerning thing about this is that it is becoming a regular habit for Team India at slips now. Gone are the days when Dhoni had the safe hands of Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman next to him at slips, and the dropped chances just give us another reason to remember badly we miss them.

Overall, the display put in by India was dismal to say the least. The opening pair, which might I remind you needs to be changed in the next match, put on another short display, while the middle order once again collapsed. Players like Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli need to step up their games now, and convert their starts into the big scores that India desperately needed. Rahane was once again the lone warrior in the troublesome middle order of India, showing maturity and composure while wickets kept falling at the other end. Dhoni will need to rethink his strategy and have a long discussion with the selectors before the next match, as Ravi Ashwin needs to be given a chance after both Binny and Rohit have failed to grasp the opportunities provided to them. Shami was once again a shadow of the talented bowler he is, while Bhuvi failed to spark some magic with his seam bowling. It was a disastrous debut for Pankaj Singh, and I don't think that he should be retained in the team for the next match, especially with talented bowlers like Ishwar Pandey and Varun Aaron waiting in the horizon.

Article written by Mayank Tiwary. Twitter: @VanPerseing

Cricket Legend, master blaster Sachin Tendulkar showed his support for struggling Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh on Facebook after people were heavily criticizing the left hander's performance during the World Cup T20 finals against Sri Lanka.

Sachin Tendulkar backs Yuvraj Singh on Facebook after social media outburst against Yuvraj

Yuvraj Singh scored just 11 off 21 balls, that too during the final overs of the Indian innings.

Sachin also mentioned about Yuvraj's heroics during the T20 World Cup 2007 and ODI World Cup 2011.

Sachin's post on Facebook

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