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Afghanistan Test is wrongly scheduled: Dilip Vengsarkar

CricketAfghanistan Test is wrongly scheduled: Dilip Vengsarkar

MUMBAI: At a time when there’s a raging debate over whether India skipper Virat Kohli should have chosen to miss the Test against Afghanistan for a county stint with Surrey, former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar has added another twist to the argument. The ex-chief selector has questioned the BCCI’s very logic of hosting Test cricket’s latest debutants ahead of the England tour.Afghanistan

“To be honest with you, I feel that the Afghanistan Test is wrongly scheduled because they (the BCCI) should’ve concentrated more on the England tour. (I know that) The Indian A team is going (to England). Of course, there is an FTP, there is a Test programme, and you’ve to adhere to it. But then, this is a Test match. You can’t take it lightly. This is Afghanistan’s first match, and they must be very keen to establish themselves at the international level,” Vengsarkar said here on Friday, while launching an inter-school cricket league organised by the School Games federation of India (SGFI). Vengsarkar is the mentor of the league, which will be held in November.

The Afghanistan Test is scheduled from June 14-18 at Bangalore, while India’s England tour begins in July, with the first Test scheduled to kick off on August 1. Vengsarkar, who has the rare distinction of slamming three Test hundreds at the iconic Lord’s cricket ground, backed Kohli’s call to prefer gaining county cricket experience over the one-off Test.

“It’s a good decision. He will get time to acclimatise to the conditions. The last tour wasn’t very good for him. So it (the county stint) is very critical for him. So he’s very keen to there early, which is a good thing,” said the 62-year-old.

In fact, the Mumbai great felt that to him, it “defied logic” that Pujara would return from his ongoing stint with Yorkshire for the Test. “If I was a selector, I would’ve asked (Cheteshwar) Pujara also to stay back and play county cricket because these are the guys who’re going to play in England. Playing in India against Afghanistan, for the time, makes no sense. Pujara’s coming back from England to play Afghanistan defies logic to me, because he was playing in county cricket, where, at the moment, he isn’t very consistent. So, he would’ve got more chances to play in England, scored runs and got into the groove,” remarked Vengsarkar.

Nevertheless, he was pleased with the itinerary of the England tour, which begins with the limited over games before the Tests, and allows the Indian players to feature for India A against their English counterparts. There’s also a tour game scheduled against Essex before the first Test. “See, if you see the itinerary of the previous tours, I think this is a good itinerary, because you’ve got enough games to play before the first Test. So, the players get time to acclimatise to the conditions. So, it’s a good thing. If you see the last tour against South Africa, you hardly got any match in the lead-up to the first Test. So, the England tour is nicely scheduled,” he said.
Kohli endured a horrible tour to England last time, averaging 13.50 in ten innings in five Tests. Vengsarkar, however, expects the classy batsman to better that record this time. “I think he’s the best batsman in the world at the moment. In the last four years, he’s established himself as a No 1 batsman in the world. So we expect a lot of things from, him. Of course, the England your will be ‘the tour’ for him. I’m sure he’ll do well,” he said.
India have been thrashed 0-4 and 3-1 in their previous two tours to England, but Vengsarkar expects them to do well this time, as he feel that they have a decent pace attack in their arsenal. “I expect a lot from the Indian team on the tour of England… simply because we’ve got fast bowlers now, and a lot of options in fast bowlers, which wasn’t the case before. It’s a good thing for Indian cricket. We’ve a balanced team. Since our pacers are very good at the international level, we should be able to win,” he said.

He feels that India should try out a wrist spinner (chinaman Kuldeep Yadav and leggie Yuzuvendra Chahal are India’s options) in England. “It will definitely help if we add a leg-spinner (to the side) because the English batsmen aren’t good at playing leg spin,” he recommended.
Like many, Vengsarkar enjoyed Delhi Daredevils’ young gun Rishabh Pant’s blazing hundred in the IPL on Thursday night. “I saw his innings yesterday. He played superbly. Some of the shots he played were very innovative. I thought he played extremely well,” he praised.

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