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I see only Ashwin getting to 800 wickets, Lyon not good enough to go that far: Muralitharan | Cricket News

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SYDNEY: The legendary Muttiah Muralitharan only sees Ravichandran Ashwin achieving the 700-800 wicket mark among the current crop of spinners and feels Nathan Lyon, who plays his 100th Test from Friday, “may be not good enough to reach that far”.
Muralitharan’s stupendous record of 800 Test wickets remains very much intact with Shane Warne (708) and Anil Kumble (619) rounding up the top-three wicket-takers in the longest format.
“Ashwin has a chance because he is a great bowler. Other than that, I don’t think any younger bowler coming in will go to 800. Maybe Nathan Lyon is not good enough to reach it. He is close to 400 (396) but he has had to play many, many matches to get there,” Muralitharan was quoted as saying in a Michael Vaughan column for the London-based Telegraph.

Ashwin has 377 wickets in 74 Tests at an average of 25.53 while Lyon, among the best Australian spinners of all-time, averages 31.98 in 99 Tests. He is four shy of the 400-wicket mark.
Leaving aside Ashwin and Lyon, there is a dearth of world-class spinners in the modern game. The Sri Lankan great put that worrying trend down to change in batsmen’s approach compared to his playing days.
“The problem in Test cricket is that Twenty20s and one-day internationals have changed the dynamics.
“When I played, the batsmen were technically so good and wickets were flat; now, they try to finish matches in three days. The bowlers in my day had to do extra work to get spin and do something magic to get results.”
“Nowadays, if you bowl line and length over a period of time, you will get five wickets. It is guaranteed because batsmen cannot stay for long without attacking.”

Muralitharan played in the era of Warne, Kumble, Saqlain Mushtaq, Mushtaq Ahmed and later on the likes of Harbhajan Singh burst on to the scene.
“You have a better chance of taking wickets, which is why spinners only have to set the field properly, bowl line and length and let the pitches and batsmen do the rest.
“Spinners used to have to work hard for wickets, which is why they worked hard on developing other deliveries.
Now they do that in T20 cricket instead. They bowl different variations because batsmen are coming after them. But in Test cricket you don’t need to do it,” he said.
Muralitharan played only one series with the DRS, against India in 2008, and believes it could have added to his incredible haul of 800 if he could use the technology.
“We beat them easily (India). I would say I would have had more wickets [with DRS] because it would have been hard for batsmen to use the pad.
“If I came round the wicket to a right-hander and if he missed the ball, there was a 90 per cent chance the ball would hit the wicket. But umpires were judging that it was not out because it was hitting the front leg.
“Batsmen had the benefit of the doubt. Not now. Maybe runs are less now because DRS gives the advantage to the bowler.
“I can remember when you played us – if you hid the bat and kicked us away now, you would be out. With DRS, they will say whether you played a shot or not. You will be out if the ball hits the wicket.”


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TT player Mouma Das, six other sportspersons awarded Padma Shri | More sports News

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NEW DELHI: Veteran table tennis player Mouma Das was among seven sportspersons awarded the prestigious Padma Shri by the Government of India on the eve of the country’s 72nd Republic Day.
Besides Mouma, P Anitha, Madhavan Nambiar, Sudha Hari Narayan Singh, Virender Singh, Anshu Jamsenpa and KY Venkatesh have also been awarded the prestigious award in the sports category for the year.

Every year, the award winners are announced on the eve of Republic Day. The Padma awardees are felicitated by the President of India.


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Ashwin ready to shave half moustache if Pujara goes over the top against any spinner in England series | Cricket News

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NEW DELHI: India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has challenged teammate Cheteshwar Pujara to step down the track and go over the top against any spinner in the upcoming Test series against England.
In a conversation with India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour on his official YouTube channel, Ashwin said he will shave half his moustache and come out to play if Pujara completes the challenge.

It started with Ashwin asking the batting coach, “Will we ever see Pujara hit an off-spinner over the top?”
“Work-in-progress. I’m trying to convince him that at least once go over the top. He is still not convinced, He is giving me great reasons,” Rathour replied.

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“If he goes over the top against Moeen Ali or any other spinner stepping down the wicket in this English series that we gonna play, I will take half my mustache out and come to play the game. This is an open challenge,” Ashwin said jokingly.
“That’s a great challenge to put across. Let’s hope that he takes it up. I don’t think he will take it up,” Rathour said.
Pujara was recently seen in action in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia. The batsman’s grit and determination was there for everyone to see in the final Test as he stood tall even after receiving numerous body blows.

Often criticised for his defensive approach, Pujara batted like a warrior in the fourth Test against Australia last week. He took blows to the body, fingers, and head, but did not flinch. He stood tall, defying the Australia bowlers who looked for one opportunity to break into the Indian lower-order.
“Because for some reason you really sledge him. I don’t know why. What the deal there? You really go after him all the time. And him being one of my favourite players in the team. I love his attitude. The way he bats, the way he prepares actually he is a coach’s dream actually. So, I have to defend him against you. I think no praise is enough for the way he batted in the last Test match. The way he responded to all those short balls and all injuries that he had,” Rathour said.
Ashwin explained why he sledges Pujara in the team, he said, “Because what happens is, every time an opponent like Nathan Lyon is bowling, Pujji makes it so heart throbbing for me. Every time the ball goes up in the air, I am like ‘You know what? Nobody plays like this man. You are making him look like unplayable.’ And eventually, everybody will think that I’m not able to make the other batsmen bat like this.”

“He does not. I mean, he handles him really, really well. And the numbers show that. he is averaging 50 plus against him. So, he has done well against him and that’s his way of playing. … He has a very set method. He is a stubborn character and that is his strength as well,” Rathour said.
Both Ashwin and Pujara will now be seen in action in the four-match Test series against England. The first Test is set to begin in Chennai on February 5.


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World Test Championship final dates reworked, to take place from June 18-22

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The start of the inaugural World Test Championship final has been pushed back by eight days and will now begin at Lord’s on June 18, keeping in mind the proximity with the next IPL‘s summit showdown. The final of the inaugural championship was tentatively scheduled to begin on June 10 at the iconic venue in London.

However, since the Indian Premier League final is also expected to be played around the same dates, it could have complicated the quarantine schedule of the participating players.

“The WTC Final will now be played from June 18-22 and June 23 will be the reserve day. As background we pushed it back to allow for any quarantine that may be imposed, particularly given the close proximity to the end of the IPL and the original dates) so driven by quarantine,” a BCCI source told .

The IPL schedule has not been finalised as yet but it is expected to conclude towards the end the May.

There is a close fight between India, Australia and New Zealand to compete for the title. India are leading the table with 430 points (PCT 71.7), followed by New Zealand (420, PCT 70) and Australia (332, PCT 69.2).

India recently jumped to the top of the table, following their 2-1 win in the four-match series in Australia.



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