LISTEN: Full script of Episode 109 where we discuss Ravindra Jadeja's fitness, Tottenham Hotspur's title credentials and more

Welcome to Spodcast, the daily sports update on Firstpost.

The Indian cricket team has been at the receiving end of some flak following the loss to Australia in the second Test at Perth. There was a fair bit of debate around fitness levels after it was reported that Ravindra Jadeja had been nursing an injury on the eve of leaving for the Australian tour.

The BCCI is now trying to clear the air over Jadeja’s health.

Its statement said, “…Jadeja complained of a left shoulder discomfort after prolonged bowling spells during the 2018 West Indies ODI series. He underwent a guided injection in Mumbai for this on 2nd November. This gave Mr Jadeja good relief...and he played in the Ranji Trophy match for Saurashtra from 12 to 15 November...he completed 64 overs without any issues. He was thereby declared fit by the BCCI and selected for the Test series against Australia."

Jadeja was included in the 13-member squad for the Perth Test but has not played since, with the BCCI claiming he lacked the "required intensity" when bowling in the nets.

The board claimed, “In the lead up to the Perth Test match on 14th December, the management and the all-rounder were of the opinion that the intensity of his bowling in the nets could have been higher, to match the standards required for such an intensely fought series. For this reason, he was not considered for selection for the 2nd Test match.”

Head coach Ravi Shastri explained that Jadeja's shoulder injury took longer to heal than expected. He said, “We wanted to be careful. The last thing you want is someone breaking down after 5-10 overs…”

The board announced yesterday that Jadeja is fit for the Boxing Day Test that begins on Wednesday. It said, “Mr Jadeja's left shoulder has continued to improve and he is now available for the 3rd Test match of the series in Melbourne.”

The other issue that has flared up during India’s tour down under is Virat Kohli’s unbridled aggression and his expressiveness on the field. While Kohli’s aggressiveness on the field has won him a legion of fans including Viv Richards, he has also come under criticism for being over the top.

Head coach Ravi Shastri brushed aside all such talk as he staunchly defended the Indian captain. Shastri said Kohli’s critics were firing blanks while sitting million miles away.” He added, “He (Kohli) was fantastic. What is wrong with his behaviour? Of course, you can question but as far as we are concerned, he is an absolute gentleman.”

After the loss at Perth, there were calls for introspection, with even Sunil Gavaskar questioning the team management's selection policies and demanding more accountability from Kohli and Shastri.

Shastri was dismissive about such remarks. He said “Their comments are too far away and we are in the Southern hemisphere. We have to do what's best for the team, as simple as that....Apart from Jadeja, I don't think there was any other selection dilemma and if there was, it is not my problem.”

Speaking about the familiar troubles India are facing with the opening batsmen, Shastri said, “Top-order problems are a big concern, that's obvious. Responsibility and accountability has to be taken by the top order. I am sure they have got the experience and exposure over the last few years to get out there and deliver.” He also said about Mayank Agarwal’s selection, “Mayank is a good young player. He has got loads of runs for India A. He is someone who has come through the ranks and when you look at his domestic record, his performances are as good as anyone. So that's a call we will have to take.”

The head coach insisted that the Indian team isn’t down in the dumps after the loss at Perth. He said, “We have not lost any morale in Perth. We knew we had our chances there in Perth as well, so we are ready. We are at 1-1 in a Test series in Australia. Very rarely have we been in a position (this year) where we are 1-1, and it is not often for a team, when they travel overseas, that they are placed 1-1 with two Tests to go.”

Football news from the Premier League now. Tottenham Hotspur thrashed Everton 6-2 on Sunday and are now just six points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men have had to deal with the unwanted attention of their manager being linked with Manchester United after Jose Mourinho's removal. But there was no sign of tension as Spurs came back from a goal down thanks to double strikes by Son Heung-min and Harry Kane with Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen also chipping in.

Theo Walcott scored first in the 21st minute to give Everton the lead but Son Heung-min equalized just 6 minutes later. Dele Alli scored 8 minutes later to make it 2-1 for Spurs. There was no respite for Everton. In the 42nd minute, Kane scored the first of his two goals with Eriksen scoring Spurs’ fourth goal three minutes into the second half. Everton scored their second goal in the 51st minute but Tottenham’s blitz continued. Son scored his second goal in the 61st minute and Kane his second in the 74th minute.   

For Tottenham, there may be more worries due to fatigue than anything else — they are involved in four competitions. However, Liverpool will take on Arsenal and Manchester City in two of their next three games, which gives Tottenham the opportunity to get in on the three-way title race if they can play as well as they did over the weekend.

Harry Kane said, “I think everyone is talking about Liverpool and Man City, but we are just doing well as we normally do. We've had a great week, we've got games coming up thick and fast but games we can win.”

An update from the Pro Kabaddi League. Dabang Delhi brought the unbeaten run of the Bengal Warriors to an end on Sunday with a 37-31 win.

The standout moment of the match was Meraj Sheykh’s super raid in the last minute to lead Delhi to a win. He scored 13 points for Delhi while Maninder Singh top scored for Bengal with nine points.

The match started with some excitement as Maninder got the Bengal Warriors off to a flying start with a super raid in the first minute to lead 3-0. A stunned Dabang Delhi recovered from that early shock and fought back to lead 4-3 after four minutes.

Meraj helped Delhi inflict an all-out with a two-point raid in the 16th minute.

Interestingly, it took Bengal 19 minutes to score their first tackle point of the match. A laidback defensive performance meant that they went into the half time break trailing 14-20.

In the second half, Bengal inflicted an all-out and scored eight points in six minutes to level the score 22-22. In the 33rd minute Meraj came up with a two-point raid to give Delhi a 26-24 lead. Bengal forced a super tackle in the 39th minute to tie the match at 31-31. Meraj then produced a super raid in the last minute to win the match for Delhi.

The result had no impact on the playoffs — both teams have already sealed their spots in the playoffs, with Delhi finishing the league at 68 points.

Updated Date: Dec 24, 2018 12:32:43 IST