IPL 2022: No Strong Or Weak Team In T20 Cricket, Believes Delhi Capitals Assistant Coach Ajit Agarkar

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DC assistant coach Ajit Agarkar feels that there is no clear favourite in the T20 format.© Instagram

Former India pacer and Delhi Capitals assistant coach Ajit Agarkar feels that there is no clear favourite in the T20 format and more so in the Indian Premier League (IPL) as anyone can be a winner. Putting forward Rajasthan Royals’ maiden triumph in the inaugural edition of the IPL as a case study Agarkar commented on the glorious uncertainties of cricket.

“In T20 cricket there is no strong or weak team, I wish it were true and you could pick one or two teams but that’s not the case. We have enough of evidence throughout the editions of IPL that no team is easier to beat,” Agarkar said during the IPL gameplan show on Star Sports.

“If you see Rajasthan Royals in the first edition of IPL, everyone was having a laugh at the team they picked in the auction, but they went on to win the trophy,” he added.

On February 23, IPL franchise Delhi Capitals announced the appointment of Ajit Agarkar as the team’s new assistant coach.

Agarkar joined the Delhi Capitals coaching staff of Ricky Ponting (Head Coach), Pravin Amre (Assistant Coach) and James Hopes (Bowling Coach).

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The 44-year-old, with 288 ODI and 58 Test wickets to his name, has represented Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils in the IPL.

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“There Was Always A Risk…”: Ex-Pakistan Captain Salman Butt On India’s Performance In 2nd Test vs Sri Lanka

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Former Pakistan skipper Salman Butt praised India’s performance in the 2nd Test.© BCCI

Former Pakistan skipper Salman Butt hailed Team India’s performance in the recently-concluded Test series against Sri Lanka. India thrashed Sri Lanka by 238 runs in the day-night Test in Bengaluru, taking the two-match series 2-0. It was an all-round performance from the Rohit Sharma-led side and Butt was impressed by India’s dominant show in both the departments. While highlighting the difficulties of batting on a “rank-turner” pith, Butt praised India batters Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant for giving their team a launching pad.

“India won match but there was always a risk of losing the toss. Since it’s a rank-turner (pitch), the other team can score big runs and you might have to bat on a difficult pitch (later on). But, when there batting comes, they play well and score runs. Shreyas Iyer batted exceptionally well in both the innings (92 and 67). Rishabh Pant also gave a launching pad to his team,” Butt said in a video uploaded on his YouTube channel.

Butt was also in awe of India pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who took eight wickets in the match, including a five-for in the first innings.

“The same pitch, whether we call it a rank turner or slow and low, Jasprit Bumrah took 8 wickets on it; five in the first innings and three in the second,” Butt added.

India had earlier won the first Test by an innings and 222 runs in Mohali.

Their next Test assignment will be a one-off Test against England in Birmingham from July 1-5.

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Notably, the match was scheduled to be played last year during India’s tour of England.

India led the series 2-1 before the final Test had to be postponed due to multiple reasons.

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Indian Premier League 2022: Shane Watson Appointed Delhi Capitals’ New Assistant Coach

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Delhi Capitals on Tuesday appointed former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson as their new assistant coach ahead of IPL 2022 season. The 40-year-old joins the coaching staff comprising Ricky Ponting (Head Coach), Pravin Amre (Assistant Coach), Ajit Agarkar (Assistant Coach) and James Hopes (Bowling Coach). On his appointment, Watson said: “The IPL, the best T20 tournament in the world. I’ve got incredible memories as a player, first of all with Rajasthan Royals winning it in 2008, led by the incredible man Shane Warne, RCB and then CSK.”

“I’ve got incredible memories as a player, and now coaching opportunities. It’s come to be able to work under the great Ricky Ponting. He was an amazing leader as a captain, and now to be able to coach under him. He is one of the best coaches in the world now. So, for me to be able to learn the ropes under Ricky, I am really excited,” added the Australian.

“With Delhi Capitals, they got great squad, now is the time to win their first title. I am super pumped to get over there, work with the boys, help them out as much as I can and hopefully, we can win the first title. Can’t wait to get over there,” said Watson.

Considered one of the best all-rounders in white-ball cricket, Watson has been a part of two of Australia’s World Cup winning campaigns in the 50 over format — in 2007 and 2015.

At the 2012 T20 World Cup, he was named ‘Player of the Tournament’. Having represented his country in 190 ODIs and 58 T20Is, Watson has over 7,000 runs, and more than 200 wickets to his name in limited overs cricket.

In the Indian Premier League, the Queenslander has played for Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings and has won the title twice – with RR in 2008, and with CSK in 2018.

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Watson has 3,875 runs and 92 wickets to his name in the IPL, and has often been hailed as one of the tournament’s best all-rounders owing to his consistency.

Delhi Capitals open their campaign on March 27 against the Mumbai Indians at the Brabourne Stadium. The franchise is placed in Group A alongside Mumbai, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Rajasthan Royals and Lucknow Super Giants.

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Rishabh Pant Backs His Strengths, That’s A Positive Sign: Jasprit Bumrah

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Rishabh Pant backs his naturally aggressive style of batting and that is a positive sign for the Indian team, vice captain Jasprit Bumrah said on Sunday after stumper’s fiery knock helped them set Sri Lanka a massive 400-plus target in the second Test. Pant became the fastest Indian batter to score a Test fifty when he reached the mark in 28 balls on the second day of the match, going past Kapil Dev’s 30-ball record which he set way back in 1982 against Pakistan. “Not each and everyone (can) play in the same manner. Every individual has a different game-plan, so he has backed his strengths,” Bumrah said after day’s play.

Bumrah said that Pant is getting more and more experienced with each passing day.

“Not every player in the team will play with the same tempo, we understand that. He is still getting more and more experience and learning about this game. That is his plan (attacking) going forward so that’s a positive sign for us,” said the pacer.

Bumrah himself played a key role in taking control of the second Test with his five-wicket haul, which was his first at home.

“It feels good. When you play all three formats you have to look after your body and you sometimes miss out on the home Tests. But it’s always good, this is the time when I got the opportunity and to be able to contribute towards the team’s success is always a great feeling,” he said.

The spin-friendly track made life tough for the Sri Lankan batters even as the Indians negotiated the tough track with aplomb.

Asked what the Indian made out of the track, Bumrah said “no one is complaining”.

Bumrah feels that scoring runs on a track like this gives way more satisfaction.

“You always play in different conditions, not every wicket will be same. If there is some help for the bowlers, when you score runs on such a wicket gives you a lot of confidence,” he said.

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“You will not get flat wickets everywhere you play, so whenever it’s a challenge, you are always looking forward to that challenge.

“Nobody is complaining about the wicket, yes everybody is finding a way and looking forward to contribute because they know if they score good runs on a tough wicket then that will give them a lot of confidence and when they play on a relatively flat wicket that will give them strength. So that is the mood in our camp,” he said.

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2nd Test, Day 2: India In Control As Sri Lanka Lose 1 Wicket In Chase Of 447; Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, Jasprit Bumrah Star

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Rishabh Pant put Sri Lankan attack to the sword with a record-breaking half-century while Shreyas Iyer yet again conjured up a measured fifty to let India grab complete control of the second Test in Bengaluru on Sunday. Pant’s 31-ball 50 and Iyer’s 67-run knock after useful contribution from top-order batters meant that India set Sri Lanka a mammoth 447-run target after declaring their second innings at 303 for nine. The struggling visitors would need no less than a miraculous show to save the match after ending the second day at 28 for one.

Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne (10) and Kusal Mendis (16) will resume Sri Lankan chase on Monday morning.

With plenty of time at their disposal after bundling out Sri Lanka for 109 in the first session of the day for a 143-run first-innings lead, India batters gained more experience of playing with pink ball on a wicket that assisted spinners.

Like in the first innings, it was Pant’s blitzkrieg that forced Sri Lanka into complet submission. He did not let them gain momentum after getting breakthroughs. Pant’s game-changing innings let Iyer play freely and that certainly helped India to extend their lead beyond the 400-run mark.

Iyer carried from where he left in the first innings, scoring 67 off 87 balls with help of nine shots the fence.

There is never a dull moment when Pant is at the crease and it did not change today. He cut, pulled, swept, reverse swept, drove, charged down the wicket at will and raised his fifty off just 28 balls with 40 of those runs coming in boundaries.

It was the fastest Test fifty by an Indian, obliterating the 30-ball effort by Kapil Dev against Pakistan in 1982. He fell for an even 50, becoming the third scalp of left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama (4/78).

The Indians scored at a good pace throughout the day with Lankan bowlers failing to exploit the spin-friendly conditions.

Rohit was calculative in shot selection before lofting off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva straight to Angelo Mathews for 46. His footwork looked good, he largely swept left-arm spinners and charged down the wicket to smother the off-spin of De Silva.

However, he could not resists the temptation of going after De Silva when he closed in on a half-century.

Before walking back, Rohit added 42 runs with fellow opener Mayank Agarwal (22) and 56 for the second wicket with Hanuma Vihari (35), who also frittered away a solid start.

Agarwal edged one from left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya (3/87), who got the ball to turn away from good length and had the Indian caught by De Silva.

Vihari, who would ideally like to make the number three spot his own, missed a straighter one from Jayawickrama and lost his off stump.

Jayawickrama also sent back Virat Kohli (13), who again fell leg before and his search for that elusive 71st international hundred just got longer. He is without an international hundred in 73 innings now. It was another delivery that kept low and he was trapped on the back-foot.

The string of low scores means that Kohli is now averaging below 50 after years of consistency.  In the morning session, fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah (5/24) completed his eighth five-wicket haul and first at home as India polished off the Sri Lankan lower-order in a jiffy.

Sri Lanka resumed at 86 for six and India required less than 30 minutes to wrap their innings. Bumrah and off-spinner R Ashwin (2/30) scalped two batters each as Sri Lanka’s shoddy display continued.

Stumper batter Niroshan Dickwella (21) started off with consecutive boundaries off Bumrah. He opened the face of the bat to gently place the ball between the gaps.

Ashwin expectedly bowled from the other end and troubled Embuldeniya (1) straight away, his balls turning from the rough.

Embuldeniya could not handle a short one from Bumrah, miscuing a pull to be caught by Rishabh Pant. That was an irresponsible shot under the circumstances.

Surnaga Lakmal showed intent to stay at the wicket but could not read a carrom ball from Ashwin and saw his timber disturbed. This was immediately after he lofted one over mid-on for a boundary.

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Bumrah completed his five-wicket haul when he had Dickwella caught behind. The short ball jumped off the track, touched the shoulder of the bat before going into Pant’s gloves.

Vishwa Fernando went after Ashwin in the next over but was soon deceived by another carrom ball and was stumped by Pant as the batter had lunged forward.

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Rishabh Pant Breaks Kapil Dev’s Massive Near 40-Year Record In India vs Sri Lanka 2nd Test

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Rishabh Pant on Sunday broke Kapil Dev’s record of fastest Test fifty for India.© BCCI

India wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant scored the fastest Test fifty by an Indian batter on Sunday when he completed his half-century in 28 deliveries on the second day of the 2nd Test against Sri Lanka in Bengaluru. With India having bowled Sri Lanka out for 109 early in the day’s play, the hosts extended their 143-run first innings lead with some quick scoring in their second innings. It was Rishabh Pant, batting at No. 5, who took charge of the innings and attacked the visiting bowlers to help consolidate India’s control.

With his brisk fifty, Pant broke Kapil Dev’s almost 40-year record of the fastest Test fifty by an Indian batter.

Kapil Dev had scored a 30-ball half-century while batting against Pakistan in the Karachi Test in December, 1982. Despite his heroics, Pakistan went on to win the match by an innings and 86 runs.

Earlier on Sunday, Jasprit Bumrah took a fifer, his first in a home Test, as India ran through Sri Lanka’s lower order and bowled them out for 109.

Sri Lanka had resumed batting at 86/6 on Day 2 but could add only 23 runs to their total.

India started their innings well, with Rohit Sharma scoring 46 and Hanuma Vihari chipping with a knock of 35.

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Virat Kohli’s poor form with the bat continued as he was dismissed for 13 runs, in a similar fashion to his LBW dismissal in the first innings.

Praveen Jayawickrama grabbed the prized wicket of Kohli as the latter was deceived by the low bounce of a delivery.

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