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BCCI didn’t force ‘cooked up’ Kohli & Co to play all matches

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Miffed Kohli calls for radical change in umpire’s soft signalBy Khurram Habib (IANS) India skipper Virat Kohli’s criticism of cramped scheduling after the third and final ODI against England may not amuse the Indian cricket board (BCCI) which had left it to the players to skip matches in case they needed a break.

Kohli had, on Sunday, said that “scheduling needs to be looked at in future… You can’t expect everyone to be at the same level of mental strength. Sometimes, you do get cooked and you do feel like a bit of a change”.

However, the BCCI had not forced players to play all the matches, it has been learned by IANS.

“In these times of Covid-19, you can plan schedule to an extent but not foresee every situation — how is it going to be or how will it pan out in a certain period? With the bench-strength we have, if someone wanted to take a break then the person could gave been given rest,” said a source from the BCCI.

The source confirmed that the Board had not forced any player to play all matches and allowed them the option of rest especially with the bench-strength available.

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India, in fact, had won the Test series in Australia despite the absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli and frontline pace bowler Mohammed Shami, both not playing the last three Tests in Australia for different reasons.

Opening batsman Rohit Sharma had also missed the second Test in Melbourne, which India won.

In fact, in the fourth and final Test in Brisbane, India also missed the services of strike pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah, experienced, lead spinner R Ashwin, middle-order batsman Hanuma Vihari besides Kohli and Shami.

Stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane’s leadership qualities also earned rave reviews, thereby giving India a captaincy option in Test matches.

India’s limited-overs series wins over England recently also came in the absence of their premier pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah with opener Sharma also sitting out of the first two T20 Internationals.

India, no doubt, have a strong reserve line-up proved by their successes in Australia and England, added the source.

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In fact, Kohli had recently said that India are in a healthy position with a large pool of players.

“For every spot we have two-three players available. Great signs for Indian cricket. Right now we are on the right path and have a big pool of players to choose from,” Kohli had said after India beat England in the first ODI.

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The other thing not going down well with the Board is the complaint about scheduling of international games and not the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches.

“Will they opt out of IPL matches and have they complained about it? They won’t,” is the question being posed among the BCCI officials, added the source.

By May-end this year, all the Indian cricketers would have featured in two over 50-day IPL tournaments in a period of nine months. This is besides many of them playing in the two tough, full series against Australia and England in between the two IPL editions.

What complicated matters was that the white-ball series against England, which was originally due to be played last year in August-September, had to be clubbed along with the Test series due to Covid-19.

“The BCCI cannot do anything about the IPL. It is the cash cow. The money from it helps BCCI run domestic cricket events,” an official pointed out.

Source: IANS

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