Following India’s 1-0 series win against Sri Lanka in the series that finished on Wednesday, it was time for analysis on Thursday (December 7), with a fair amount of attention on Dhananjaya de Silva’s batting after his magnificent rearguard century helped Sri Lanka draw the third Test.
In other news, there was focus on the new retention policy that the BCCI announced for the 2018 edition of the Indian Premier League, while print space in Indian papers also had room for the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals that will begin on Thursday.
In the Australian and English papers meanwhile, there was a dissection of the visiting side’s 120-run loss in the second Ashes Test, with former players and cricket experts from both camps chipping in with their advice and opinion for Joe Root and his men.
Insatiable Virat, irreplaceable Vijay, inspirational Shami (The Times of India)
Atoned for his first-inning duck in the first Test with an assuredly exceptional unbeaten 104 in the second as wickets fell around him following an opening stand of 166, an innings that changed the complexion of the final day and the Test, as Sri Lanka were pushed onto the back foot. This was a batsman in control of his skills on a tricky surface, showing who was boss.
Dhananjaya de Silva’s mind conquers body (Indian Express)
The long sleeves buttoned to his wrists, the squeaky-white, creaseless jersey nicely tucked in, the drawling walk to the crease, all give an impression that an 80s relic had accidentally drifted into the field. A helmet without grille was all that he lacked. There’s no strut or posturing, no fancy shades or ripping abs either. No swearing at batsmen or making faces at them. He’s just a modest boy next door with unkempt stubbles and a permanent smile, who can walk unnoticed in the streets of Colombo. Just like he’s on the field — where he’s anonymous unless batting or bowling.
When news filtered in on Wednesday on IPL player retention, there was relief and joy in the Chennai Super Kings camp. It also meant CSK’s talismanic captain M.S. Dhoni would return to the side after his two-year stint with Rising Pune Super Giant. Dhoni’s name has been synonymous with that of CSK. Simply put, his retention is a done deal. Dhoni too, it is learnt, is keen on wearing the franchise’s yellow jersey again.
Karnataka-Mumbai in clash of titans (Deccan Herald)
Any clash involving Mumbai and Karnataka is a big occasion and if that happens to be a knockout game then it has to be a marquee event of the tournament. Excitement level soared high among cricket fans of the country when the two domestic giants were confirmed to meet in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal. These are two teams with great reputations and when they face each other here at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium from Thursday, another chapter will be added to India’s domestic cricket’s rivalries.
Rival captains share the pressure of leadership (The Australian)
Who would be a captain? Perhaps in international cricket only the decisions of the umpire are so closely scrutinised, and these are only subject to technological review. The captain is up for non-stop rolling scrutiny of a jury heavily weighted with … well, with former captains. Not to mention myriad armchair strategists on whose speculations nothing hinge.
In Brisbane and Adelaide England have managed to tantalise. They have not been uniformly hopeless. They clung on at the Gabba for three days and there were moments when they could have taken control of that Test. Conversely in Adelaide, having played ineptly for two and a half days, they bowled out Australia for 138 in their second innings and so conjured up the possibility of a historic victory. On the fourth day they rose again and allowed their fans to dream. On the fifth grim reality returned. All out for 233, defeated by 120 runs.
Bleak as life can seem when you are lying awake in the middle of the night, it is an immutable truth that everything will be better in the morning. Everything, that is, but English cricket. Hope didn’t even make it to sun-up, it slipped out the door while you were sleeping.
And all of us poor fools who set our alarms for 3.30am found all the bright optimism that got us out of bed was spluttering as soon as we had flicked the kettle on, guttering while the tea brewed, and out altogether by the bottom of the cup. The idea that England might break their own record and make 354 to win lasted just under three overs. Long enough for Josh Hazlewood to pinch a couple of wickets, and, with them, England out of their dreaming.
Taming Lyon key for England (Cricket.com.au)
While much of the focus before the summer started was on Australia’s vaunted pace attack, it’s veteran spinner Nathan Lyon who’s been the biggest thorn in England’s side so far in the Magellan Ashes series. Lyon generated an alarming amount of turn and bounce out of the pitches at the Gabba and Adelaide Oval, venues that in recent times have been dominated by the seamers.
England must make changes: Ponting (Cricket.com.au)
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting says England must make significant changes to their batting order if they are to compete in the remaining three Tests of the Magellan Ashes series.
“You look at their batting. (Opener Mark) Stoneman has looked OK but he looks OK then gets out. (No.3 James) Vince is a bit the same; they play a couple of nice shots but can’t sustain any kind of period of dominance over the bowlers and have a brain fade and play a bad shot. “(No.5 Dawid) Malan has been the same, he’s occupied the crease but he never looks like he’s going to hurt you.
Steve Smith to consult Australian Test cricket team on follow-on calls: Mitchell Starc (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mitchell Starc says Steve Smith will consult his bowling unit in future follow-on decisions to avoid a repeat of the captain’s second Test stress in Adelaide. Smith came under fire for not sending England in to bat again to face the swinging pink ball when the tourists trailed by 215 runs after the first innings, former vice-captain Shane Warne among those to question the call.
England will need something spectacular to avoid a whitewash (Sydney Morning Herald)
The trick of captaincy is to convince the team to play your way, and it looks like Joe Root has a job on his hands to persuade the England players to follow his lead. Joe will find out an awful lot about his players on this tour. He is only nine games into the job, and we have to remember he has a lot to learn about captaincy. But the frustration with this team is that they have to be cornered, and in a tight situation, before they respond. England winning out here without Ben Stokes was always going to be a huge mountain to climb. In Adelaide, the conditions were English, rather than Australian, yet they were still beaten, and quite comfortably so, in the end.
Alex Hales looks to have lost his place as opener in England’s one-day team after being named in the squad for the series against Australia in January with Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow likely to be considered the first-choice pairing up top. Though the 28-year-old’s international suspension has been lifted temporarily pending the outcome of Stokes’s legal case – both of their cricket disciplinary hearings will not take place until after such time – Trevor Bayliss has said Hales will still have to earn a recall to the XI.
Cricket’s pink ball blues (Business Day)
With Zimbabwe set to join the day/night Test club against SA at St George’s Park on December26‚ how long before pink balls outnumber red in proper cricket? A long time yet‚ Stephen Cook hopes.
“It’s good that we’re playing [a day/night Test in SA] because we’re staying up with the curve and being proactive rather than falling behind‚” the opening batsman said on Wednesday. “But it should be an every-now-and-then Test match — one in the summer. Then it can keep being special and different. If you start playing too much of it I think it will lose its sparkle quickly,” Cook said.