x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Dhoni bats for Jadeja as Pietersen flays Cook

MS Dhoni, centre, feels Ravindra Jadeja, left, is talented and can be handy when he starts ‘being himself’ on the field. Rui Vieira / AP Photo
MS Dhoni, centre, feels Ravindra Jadeja, left, is talented and can be handy when he starts ‘being himself’ on the field. Rui Vieira / AP Photo

India are hurting after the ICC decided to fine Ravindra Jadeja 50 per cent of his match fee after the row with England’s James Anderson, captain MS Dhoni said yesterday.

The punishment was unjust and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) are looking into a possible appeal, Dhoni said ahead of the third Test at Southampton, which begins today.

The Jadeja-Anderson altercation happened as the pair left the field during the drawn first Test at Trent Bridge earlier this month.

David Boon of the ICC’s Match Referees Elite Panel fined Jadeja, clearing him of the Level 2 offence with which he was originally charged, but guilty of a Level 1 offence relating to “conduct contrary to the spirit of the game”.

Anderson faces a Level 3 accusation, the ICC’s worst disciplinary charge, and his hearing is set for Friday, at the end of the Southampton Test.

If found guilty, Anderson could be given a four-Test ban.

“It’s a very hurtful decision, frankly, because I felt a lot of things were neglected in judging the case,” Dhoni said.

According to Dhoni, remarks were directed at Jadeja in the corridor and he turned to see what was happening. On that basis, he was fined.

“He was pushed so hard, he could barely keep his balance. If something is said from behind, you instantly turn around, which is what he did,” Dhoni said.

“I don’t think what Jadeja did was aggressive at all and that’s the reason we are very hurt by the wording that has been given.

“The beauty of it is that the allegation was of Level 2 and he got fined under Level 1.

“You can’t usually appeal that kind of offence, but the BCCI and the legals are working things out, because we are not at all happy and I don’t think Jadeja did anything wrong.”

India lead the five-match series 1-0 after victory in the second Test at Lord’s on Monday by 95 runs.

“By their logic, if you were to say ‘Excuse me’ behind me in the corridor and I turned around to face you, I would also get fined 50 per cent of my match fee,” Dhoni said.

Jadeja was pivotal in India’s win, with a swashbuckling innings of 68 off 57 balls to help set England what proved to be an unreachable target.

Dhoni previously intimated that Jadeja lacked confidence, but he said he believes that Jadeja can once again do some damage with bat and ball.

“What we have seen is, when he starts being himself, he has a lot of talent, so I think the last innings that he played will give him a lot of confidence, not only over here but also in any other Test matches he will play,” Dhoni said.

“It gives us the liberty of using other bowlers, as he is good at keeping it tight whether the ball is turning or not, but still attacking and keeping the batsmen quiet.”

Dhoni’s counterpart, Alastair Cook, believes his side will respond from their defeat at Lord’s.

“The good news in a five-Test match series is, you’ve got chance to bounce back and you get judged at the end of the series,” the opening batsman said.

“The frustrating thing has been that we’ve been getting ourselves into situations, especially in the four Test matches, where we’ve been ahead of the game by quite a long way and haven’t been able to force that result.

“We must be doing a lot of things really well, but in crucial sessions, when we need to stamp our authority to get that win, we haven’t been able to take.”

England will make at least one change for the match, with wicketkeeper Jos Buttler making his Test debut as he replaces Matt Prior, who stepped down from the squad after Lord’s due to concerns over his fitness.

Cook said he had no intention of resigning his captaincy, despite a string of 10 matches without a win.

He and the side have absorbed heavy media criticism after Monday’s loss. “I’m desperate to carry on, because I love being England captain,” he said.

“I said when I first took over, ‘I just want to throw everything into it’. And until that time where I don’t feel as if I can carry on doing it, or someone taps me on the shoulder, then that’s what I’m going to do.”

‘Cook does not have the tactical brain’

Kevin Pietersen believes beleagured England captain Alastair Cook remains in the job because it would be a “yet another PR disaster” for the England and Wales Cricket Board to sack him now.

Pietersen urged Cook to relinquish the captaincy and seek emergency help for his batting, for the good of himself and England.

Cook is under increasing pressure both as captain and as opener, following a miserable run in which England lost seven of their last nine Tests. Cook, 29, has scored just 129 runs in nine attempts.

Writing in his column in the Daily Telegraph, the outspoken Pietersen said: “At the moment only politics are keeping Cook in a job, because the England and Wales Cricket Board backed him so much that it would be yet another PR disaster if it sacked him now.

“But the ECB needs his runs back more than anything else, so a big decision has to be made. Forget the bad headlines for once.”

The South Africa-born batsman wrote, though, that Cook still has a lot to offer England if the left-hander can rediscover the form that has earned him a national-record 25 Test centuries – two more than Pietersen.

“He should do what is right for England and resign the captaincy. He has shown he does not have the tactical brain to lead the side,” Pietersen said.

“England badly miss Cook the opening batsman scoring 150 to set games up at the top of the order and, relieved of the captaincy, I don’t think it is too late for him to rediscover this form.”

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