The first Test match between India and New Zealand starts tomorrow and it will be a clash between two Titans.
India has been leading the ICC world test championship’s points table and has not lost a single Test since the onset of the Test championship. While New Zealand hasn’t lost a single test on their home ground since 2017.
So this Test will be breaking the winning streak of either team. India stands at the number one with 360 points. They have played seven Tests and have won all of them.
On the other hand, New Zealand has played five tests and has won just one of them and lost the other four. Indian team’s bowling attack will be under scrutiny as Jasprit Bumrah is struggling with his form and Ravichandran Ashwin doesn’t have a good record when he is bowling in a foreign country. Kuldeep Yadav’s absence might affect the team too.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Pakistani cricketer Umar Akmal has been suspended by the Pakistan Cricket Board today. His PCL team Quetta Gladiators has been told to replace him as Akmal will be under an anti-corruption enquiry.
This was the statement made by PCB:
“The Pakistan Cricket Board today suspended Umar Akmal with immediate effect he cannot take part in any cricket-related activity pending the investigation being carried out by PCB’s Anti-Corruption Unit. As this is an ongoing investigation, the PCB will not make any further comments“. Pakistan Cricket Board.
Akmal had reported the Pakistan Cricket Board that he had been approached to fix matches in the Canadian T20 league by Mansoor Akhtar, a former Pakistani cricketer. However, the board as such has not specified the exact reason why Akmal has been suspended. The only thing we know as of now is that he is in the middle of anti-corruption inquiry.
After losing the ODI series by 3-0, India is al set to play the two-match Test series against New Zealand. The team will be focusing on redeeming themselves after the disastrous loss in the one-day series.
This is what Indian skipper Virat Kohli said:
“We have prepared in a manner where our fitness levels and concentration levels are such that we can compete against anyone in the world,” Kohli said. “That’s the kind of confidence we will carry into this series.”
“Not saying this in a negative manner, but the crowd plays a massive role in England and Australia. You need to be in a zone where you need to be feisty and counter that from all angles,”
“In New Zealand it’s all about cricket discipline and what the team brings on the field. They’re very intense and very fit guys and they can keep going all day and test your patience.”
They’re very skilled bowlers and batsmen and brilliant fielders so they don’t give a lot to bank on or pounce on. You need to be wary of the changes that come your way and be focused enough to capitalize.”
“It takes a lot more concentration on the field in New Zealand rather than dealing with things off the field and that’s good for the players to be in that kind of zone.”
“We are not the same team that we used to be. We have a very complete squad now.”
“It can happen. Kane’s leadership was questioned and these things pop up pretty quickly. Having been in those situations myself I can tell you it’s not that alarming for any team.”
“Things can turn around pretty quickly. You saw in the ODI series we lost 3-0 and it didn’t look that way before we started. If you gain momentum at the right time you can play good cricket.”
“Playing at home they will have more control over what they do as a group so they will understand their plans much better.”Virat Kohli, Captain, Indian men’s cricket team.
India will play the first test against New Zealand on the 21st of February.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli is known for his fitness. He has been one of the most consistent players the world has ever seen. With his strict fitness regime and healthy dietary habits, Kohli has set the bar way too high.
Kohli, who will turn 31 this year spoke on how he is all fit to play for 3 more years. With the ICC T20 world cup coming up Kohli’s focus will definitely be on the ICC trophy. India has twice failed to enter the world cup final now, once in 2015 and once last year in July when India lost against New Zealand in semi-finals.
India also had to face defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in T20 world cup finals back in 2014 and losing the semi-finals match against West Indies back in 2016 T20 world cup was also a disappointment. So, with eyes on the trophy Kohli is trying to make sure that the team brings home the cup this year.
He said that the ICC test trophy matters the most for him. India is leading the points table for the test trophy. It has been noticed that there seems to be no break in between major bilateral series and tours for the Indian cricket team. The players have been hopping from one series to the other and this is definitely toll taking. Kohli had earlier spoken up regarding this and had said that the players require break periods and an ample amount of rest in order to play well.
The first test match against New Zealand will start on the 21st of February.
“My mindset is on the bigger picture as I prepare myself for a rigorous three years from now and after that, we might have a different conversation,”
“It’s not a conversation you can hide away from in any manner. It is around eight years now that I have been playing 300 days a year, which includes travelling and practice sessions. And intensity is right up there all the time. It does take a toll on you,”
“It’s not that the players are not thinking about it all the time. We do choose to take lot more breaks individually even though the schedule might not allow you to. Especially from guys, who play all the formats.”
“It’s not easy being captain, having that intensity in the practice sessions. It does take a toll on you. Periodic breaks seem to work pretty okay for me.
“I think World Test Championship as an ICC tournament should be right up there. All the other tournaments for me they start under that. This is probably the biggest of them all as every team wants to make it to the final at the Lord’s. We are no different.”
“At a time where the body can’t take anymore, maybe when I am 34 or 35, we will have a different conversation. For the next two to three years I have no issues at all,” Virat Kohli, captain Indian men’s cricket team.
In the past few months, there has been a lot of discussion on the mental health of players too. How it is important for the players to take a break when they feel mentally tired. Playing for the country is a big deal and can exert a lot of pressure on the person and it is important to look at their mental wellbeing.
Former Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar spoke on Indo-Pakistan cricket ties asking for a bilateral series.
This is what he said:
“We can play Davis Cup, we can play Kabaddi with each other then what’s wrong with cricket? I understand India can’t come to Pakistan, Pakistan can’t go to India but we play Asia Cup, Champions Trophy on neutral venues, can’t we do the same for bilateral series?” Akhtar asked in his youtube channel.
“We are one of the best hospitable nations in the world and India have seen it first hands. Ask the likes of Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar we love them like anything. Cricket should not get affected by the differences between us. Hopefully, India and Pakistan can play a bilateral series soon and it’s important for both countries to have a tough competition between them,” he added.
“Pakistan is a very safe place to travel. India’s Kabaddi team came, they got a lot of love, Bangladesh came to play Test cricket. But if there are still doubts then I suggest neutral venues,” Akhtar said.
“If you want to cut the ties then stop the trade, stop playing Kabaddi. Why only cricket? Whenever it’s cricket we make it political, it is very disappointing. We eat onions and tomatoes, we exchange pleasantries then why can’t we play cricket?” He added.
“It’s very important for India and Pakistan to play because it earns revenue, it brings the fans, it inspires and it also keeps the healthy rivalry going. We get to see new players who can handle this pressure. I urge everyone to come forward and make India-Pakistan bilateral series possible,” he said.
The last India vs Pakistan Bilateral series was organised in 2012 in India, which India lost.
Former Indian skipper MS Dhoni hasn’t been seen on the field ever since India lost the ICC world cup final against New Zealand in July 2019. It has been over six months that the player has played a single match. Speculations regarding his retirement have been made but there hasn’t been any direct statement from Dhoni himself.
With the next season of Indian Premier League starting in March 2020, people are excited about Dhoni’s comeback. The first match of the season will be played between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians. Mumbai will be the defending champions from last year when Chennai lost against them in the finals.
Mumbai Indians lead by Rohit Sharma have won the maximum number of titles while Chennai Super Kings have always been fan favourites. With Dhoni making a come back after more than six months, his performance in IPL 2020 might be his key to the squad for ICC T20 world cup which will be coming up this year.
The first match will take place on the 29th of March 2020 at Wankhede, Mumbai, 8 PM IST.