The West Indies will head back to the silence of an empty stadium for part of its tour of India following the announcement that the upcoming One Day International series will be played behind closed doors.

In addition to the cricket, the West Indies most recently concluded series against England looked like a rollicking good time.  Vaccinated spectators were allowed to enter the Kensington Oval and added plenty to the atmosphere.

The team’s tour of India will begin with three One Day International’s at the Narendra Modi Stadium, scheduled between February 6 to 11.  The Gujarat Cricket Association, however, confirmed that due to the current situation with the Covid-19 pandemic the match will be played behind closed doors.

“We are all set to host West Indies Tour of India ODI Series 2022. 1st ODI on 6th of Feb will be a very special and historic match as India will be playing it’s 1000th ODI. The Indian team will be the first cricket team in the world to achieve this feat. @BCCI #INDvsWI #teamindia,” the GCA said via its official Twitter account.

“Considering the current situation, all the matches will be played behind the closed doors,” the state cricket body said in another tweet.

Following the ODI series, the teams will play a three-match T20 International series in Kolkata, for which the West Bengal government has allowed 75 percent crowd attendance.

Obviously pleased with the performance of the team in the Betway T20I Series against England in Barbados, West Indies selectors have opted not to make any changes for the upcoming three T20I series against India next month.

Experienced fast bowler Kemar Roach, Nkrumah Bonner and Brandon King have been included in a West Indies squad named for their white-ball tour of India next month.

India captain Rohit Sharma has been passed fit to lead the team for the upcoming series against the West Indies in February.

The 34-year-old batsman is only just recovering from injury, having missed out on the team’s most recent tour of South Africa, which ended in a disappointing 3-0 loss.

According to reports, the batsman is already back in training and will be ready to go for the T20 and perhaps ODI series.  The series will get underway on February 6th, while the T20 series gets underway on February 16th.  Rohit is recovering from a left hamstring injury.  In the past, the player has captained India vs the West Indies in three matches in 2018.  India won the series 3-0.  Overall, in 17 T20Is India has won 10 and lost 6.

"Rohit is fit and available for the series against the West Indies," a BCCI source was quoted as saying.

"By the time the West Indies series starts, it will be more than seven and half weeks of rehabilitation and recuperation for Rohit.

The West Indies are expected to head to India immediately after the England tour.

 

 

Quinton de Kock made a magnificent century as South Africa won a dramatic third ODI by four runs against India at Newlands to seal a 3-0 series whitewash.

Half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan (61) and Virat Kohli (65) gave the tourists a platform to build their chase of 288 from, but some excellent bowling and safe hands in the field saw the Proteas dismiss India for an agonising 283 off the second ball of the final over.

India won the toss and put South Africa in to bat, taking the early wickets of Janneman Malan (1) and Temba Bavuma (8). When Aiden Markram fell to Deepak Chahar for 15 in the 13th over, the hosts were 70-3 and wobbling until a partnership of 144 between De Kock and Rassie van der Dussen.

De Kock followed up his 78 from the second game in Paarl by making a classy 124 off 130 balls, with Van der Dussen (52) the only other to make a half-century for the Proteas.

However, both fell in consecutive overs, and though a useful pairing of David Miller (39) and Dwaine Pretorius (20) put on a partnership of 44, South Africa was all out in the last over, with Prasidh Krishna (3-59) bringing the innings to a close with the penultimate ball for a total of 287.

The chase did not start brilliantly for India as KL Rahul was caught by Malan off the bowling of Lungi Ngidi (3-58) for just nine, though Dhawan and Kohli set about repairing that early damage.

Their partnership of 98 appeared to set the tourists on their way to a consolation win, though after Dhawan was dismissed when he hit an Andile Phehlukwayo delivery straight up in the air, allowing De Kock to snaffle the catch, Rishabh Pant was out first ball to Phehlukwayo and India's chase looked less assured.

Kohli steadied the ship with Shreyas Iyer (26) before he was taken by Bavuma off the bowling of Keshav Maharaj, but Suryakumar Yadav (39) and Chahar (54) had India scenting a win.

However, with just 10 runs required for victory, Chahar hit Ngidi straight up in the air, with Pretorious taking the catch, before Jasprit Bumrah (12) was caught by Bavuma off Phehlukwayo to leave India needing seven runs from nine balls with one wicket remaining, which fell when Yuzvendra Chahal (2) hit Pretorious straight to Miller.

Proteas in safe hands with Bavuma

It is safe to say that South Africa's ODI captaincy is in safe hands, quite literally when it comes to Bavuma as he took four catches to help his team dismiss India in Cape Town.

Bavuma also used his bowling attack expertly, with five different bowlers sharing the wickets (Ngidi and Phehlukwayo with three, Pretorius two and Sisanda Magala and Maharaj getting one each).

One day woes for India

Although the first two defeats in this series were the result of poor performances, this was a much tighter affair and stand-in ODI captain Rahul will be pleased with the improvement.

Chahar was one success story, coming in for his first game of the series and hitting 54 with the bat while taking two wickets with the ball, but this now makes it four defeats on the spin in ODIs.

T20 World Cup holders Australia will face 2021 finalists New Zealand in the Super 12s stage of this year's tournament.

Australia triumphed over their trans-Tasman rivals by eight wickets in the final of last year's competition in the United Arab Emirates to clinch the T20 World Cup for the first time.

Aaron Finch's team will look to defend their title on home soil later this year, with the World Cup running from October 16 to November 13.

Sri Lanka, champions in 2014, start the preliminary round – which also includes 2016 winners West Indies – against Namibia, with the Super 12s starting on October 22.

The first fixture will be a repeat of last year's final, with New Zealand taking on Australia in Sydney.

England, who lost to New Zealand in the 2021 semi-finals, and Afghanistan are also in the same group.

India, Pakistan, South Africa and Bangladesh will face off in Group 2. 

Pakistan and India go head-to-head in Melbourne on October 23.

The semi-finals will take place on November 9 and 10.

Virat Kohli has stepped down as India Test captain following the 2-1 series defeat in South Africa.

The 33-year-old took over as skipper in the longest format following MS Dhoni's retirement in 2014 and has gone on to lead his country 68 times in the longest format.

Kohli called time on his reign as Twenty20 captain following the World Cup in the United Arab Emirates late last year, with Rohit Sharma taking that role before also replacing his fellow batter as ODI skipper.

India failed to secure a first Test series win over South Africa after they lost the decider at Newlands by seven wickets on Friday and Kohli has confirmed that will be his last match as captain.

Kohli posted on Twitter: "It has been seven years of hard work, toil and relentless perseverance everyday to take the team in the right direction.

"I've done the job with absolute honesty and left nothing out there. Everything has to come to a halt at some stage and for me as Test Captain of India, it's now,

"There have been many ups and also some downs along the journey, but never has there been a lack of effort or lack of belief.

"I have always believed in giving my 120 per cent in everything I do, and if I can't do that, I know it's not the right thing to do. I have absolute clarity in my heart and I cannot be dishonest to my team.

"I want to thank the BCCI for giving me the opportunity to lead my country for such a long period of time and more importantly to all the team-mates who bought into the vision I had for the team from day one and never gave up in any situation.

"You guys have made this journey so memorable and beautiful. To Ravi [former India head coach Shastri] Bhai and the support group who were the engine behind this vehicle that moved us upwards in Test Cricket consistently, you all have played a massive role in bringing this vision to life.

"Lastly, a big thank you to MS Dhoni who believed in me as a captain and found me to be an able individual who could take Indian cricket forward."

Kohli is India's most successful Test captain, having led his country to 40 victories.

KL Rahul will be in line to step up and succeed one of India's greatest ever players, having recently been appointed as vice-captain in place of Ajinkya Rahane.

Kohli gave no indication he would quit after the loss to the Proteas in Cape Town, warning India "must come back as better cricketers” and improve with the bat.

South Africa put themselves within striking distance of a Test series victory over India despite Rishabh Pant producing a terrific century on day three at Newlands.

Proteas captain Dean Elgar and Keegan Petersen combined for a 78-run partnership after tea as South Africa chased 212 to win the Cape Town tussle and take a 2-1 series victory.

India took what may yet be a priceless wicket with what proved to be the final delivery of the day, with Elgar caught down the leg side by Pant off Jasprit Bumrah, a review showing a clear nick.

He fell for 30, with Petersen unbeaten on 48 and South Africa 101-2, needing 111 more runs to get over the line.

There was Test history made earlier in the day as India were bowled out for 198 in their second innings, with Pant making 100 not out – described by India great Sachin Tendulkar on Twitter as "a simply outstanding knock".

All 10 India wickets fell to catches, just as they had in the first innings. That meant for the first time in Tests, a team lost all of their 20 wickets to catches.

India slumped from 152-4 to fall short of 200, but it was not for the lack of trying from Pant, who scored his runs from just 139 balls, with six fours and four sixes.

Temba Bavuma almost caught the wicketkeeper-batsman on 94 when the left-hander struck powerfully down the ground, but the ball squirted through the fielder's grasp and ran to the boundary.

He reached the fourth century of his Test career by tucking away a single to long leg before raising his bat in delight, but India, who began the day at 57-2, failed to back up his efforts. Collectively, Pant's team-mates contributed just 70, with 28 coming from extras.

Skipper Virat Kohli dug in before falling to Lungi Ngidi (3-21) for 29, having faced as many as 143 balls. Kagiso Rabada took 3-53 in another impressive effort from the Proteas in the field.


Jansen impresses again

Marco Jansen, South Africa's 6ft 9in paceman, took 4-36 in just his third Test appearance. Since making his debut in the opening match of this series, Jansen has taken 19 Test wickets at an average of 16.47. His pace and bounce has at times been too much for India, who are perhaps the first of many Test teams who will suffer against his menace.

History repeating for Proteas?

Cheteshwar Pujara fell to just the second delivery of the morning, with Petersen producing an outstanding catch on the leap at leg slip. Now the safe hands of Petersen can guide South Africa towards victory with the bat. Only on three previous occasions have teams won by posting a score of at least 200 in the fourth innings at Newlands. One of those was in 2007, when South Africa beat India by five wickets to clinch a 2-1 series win.

Jasprit Bumrah starred with the ball as India ended day two of the third Test against South Africa with a somewhat surprising lead.

In the series decider, the hosts were thrilled with their efforts to reduce the tourists to 223 all-out in their first innings, but could manage only 210 themselves thanks in large parts to the expert bowling of Bumrah.

South Africa began on 17-1 and Bumrah soon had his first wicket of the day and second of the innings as he bowled Aiden Markram for just eight.

Keshav Maharaj (25) was bowled by Umesh Yadav to leave the Proteas 45-3, only partnerships between Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen, and then Petersen and Temba Bavuma, to give the hosts a good chance of eventually establishing a lead themselves.

Things looked to be going against India when Virat Kohli dropped Bavuma on 17, but he atoned to with a catch off Mohammed Shami's bowling.

Shami forced an edge from Kyle Verreynne (0) just two balls later to reduce South Africa to 159-6, before Bumrah took centre stage again as he bowled Marco Jansen (seven) with the last ball before tea and removed Petersen, who managed an impressive knock of 72, shortly after the start of the third session.

Shardul Thakur saw off Kagiso Rabada (15), before Bumrah closed the innings by dismissing Lungi Ngidi (3) to clinch his five-for.

With India starting their second innings with a 13-run lead, South Africa responded well – openers KL Rahul (10) and Mayank Agarwal (seven) both gone in the first six overs – though Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli steadied the ship in the closing stages to finish the day on 57-2, 70 ahead.

Bumrah the man of the moment

Bumrah had bowled an excellent spell at the end of day one, managing 23 dot balls and taking the wicket of Dean Elgar in a short session before stumps and he started day two in similar fashion.

His figures of 5-42 from 23.3 overs put his team in a much stronger position than they likely would have expected and could prove decisive in this winner-takes-all Test.

Petersen the lone resistance

In just his eighth Tests innings, Petersen hit his highest score to date, which was made all the more impressive considering the quality of bowling he was up against and the regularity with which his team-mates were being sent back into the pavilion.

Kohli's 79 in India's first innings is the only other half century achieved in the match so far, and Petersen's came with a better strike rate (43.37 compared to 39.30).

Kagiso Rabada and Virat Kohli enjoyed a thrilling personal tussle as South Africa got the better of India on day one of the final Test in their three-match series.

It is winner takes all in the series decider, and India put themselves in after winning the toss for the third straight time. However, in overcast conditions in Cape Town, South Africa's quicks thrived as the tourists were bowled out for 223.

Making his 50th Test appearance, Rabada (4-73) led their attack brilliantly, dismissing Mayank Agarwal (15), Ajinkya Rahane (9) and Jasprit Bumrah (0) before he finally came out on top in his battle with India's captain.

Playing his 99th Test, Kohli was the only India batsman to score above 50 as he showed his class with a patiently crafted 79, with support from Cheteshwar Pujara (43) and Rishabh Pant (27), both of whom fell to Marco Jansen, who finished with 3-55.

Kohli changed tack after Pant's dismissal, getting on the front foot to propel India over 200, though Rabada got his man when India's skipper – who had survived a South Africa review earlier in the innings – pushed at a ball outside off stump.

Lungi Ngidi got a deserved wicket to finish off India's innings, giving the hosts chance to take to the crease in the final session, with the cloud cover having made way for sunshine.

Proteas captain Deal Elgar was drawn into an edge by Jasprit Bumrah (1-0), giving India a boost, but Keshav Maharaj (6) and Aiden Markram (8) guided South Africa to 17-1 at stumps.

Restrained Kohli goes up against rampant Rabada

Kohli came out in the 13th over with his side at 33-2, and provided just the tonic to South Africa's rapid start, leaving 65 of the first 100 deliveries that were outside his off stump.

Over the last five years of Test matches, just four batters have shown more restraint and patience, while his contest with Rabada was fascinating, particularly between the 47th and 49th overs, when Kohli was beaten twice and edged just short of second slip.

Rabada came up with the goods in a final session that saw six India wickets fall, though Kohli's stand could just have kept India in this Test after a dreadful start. It is just a shame no fans could be at Newlands to witness it.

Brilliant Bumrah hits back

South Africa had to face eight overs in the final half-hour of play, and four of those came from the quite sensational Bumrah, who bowled 23 dot balls and took the wicket of Elgar to boot.

The West Indies U19s did not have the best showing ahead of the start of the ICC Under-19 50-over World Cup after suffering a heavy 108 loss to India U19s  team in their first official warm-up match on Sunday.

After being set a challenging target of 279 to win, the young Windies struggled to 170 all out in just 43 overs.  The team got off to a solid enough start when openers Matthew Nandu and Shaqkere Parris put on 30 in the opening overs.   Parris was, however, the first to go after being dismissed by fast bowler Garv Sangwan.  The other batters, unfortunately, followed in quick succession, with Teddy Bishop being dismissed ten balls later, and Sangwan going lbw with the score on 35.

Nandu managed another 30 with Jordan Johnson (10) before falling to the spin of Manav Parakh in the 18th over, with the total at 65 for three.

Windies skipper Akeem Auguste went for a duck after also being bowled by Parakh, Rivaldo Clarke (11), and vice-captain Giovonte Depeiza (10) were also gone midway through the innings.

Nandu eventually departed in the 33rd over with a top-score of 52 off 101 balls, after being a victim of left-arm spinner Aneeshwar Gautam, caught by Kaushal Tambe.  Off-spinner Tambe then wrapped up the innings with the wickets of Carlon Bowen-Tuckett (20), Anderson Mahase (1), and an attacking Johann Layne.

Earlier in the innings, the team set a furious pace after skipper Yash Dhull won the toss.  Things did not start well, however, as the team found themselves at 18 for two in the seventh after excellent work from Layne got rid of openers Harnoor Singh and Angkrish Raghuvanshi.

Dhull, however, led a strong revival with 52 off 67 balls and put on 85 for the third wicket with Shaik Rasheed.   Aradhya Yadav attacked the bowling and added 82 for the fifth wicket with top-scorer Nishant Sindhu, who lashed seven fours and three sixes in an unbeaten 78 off 76 balls, effectively putting the match out of reach.

Scores

India U-19s 278-6, 50 overs (Nishant Sindhu 78 n.o., Yash Dhull 52, Aradhya Yadav 42; Johann Layne 3/51)

 WI U-19s 170 all out, 43 overs (Matthew Nandu 52; Kaushal Tambe 3/30, Manav Parakh 3/34, Garv Sangwan 2/18, Aneeshwar Gautam 2/37). --India U-19s won by 108 runs.

 

KL Rahul says India face a "very, very difficult decision" over who bats at number five in the first Test against South Africa at SuperSport Park.

Rahul, vice-captain in the absence of the injured Rohit Sharma, gave a strong indication that the tourists will persist with playing five bowlers in the Boxing Day Test behind closed doors in Centurion.

He said: "I think more teams have started playing [five bowlers], because, you know, every team wants to pick up 20 wickets, and that's the only way you can win a Test match.

"We've definitely used that tactic, and it's helped us in every Test match that we've played away from India. I think the workload also becomes slightly easier to manage with five bowlers, and when you have that kind of quality, you might as well use it."

No spectators will be allowed in to watch India's tour of South Africa due to a soaring number of coronavirus cases.

Six days before the Test series starts at Supersport Park, Cricket South Africa (CSA) revealed matches will be staged behind closed doors in order to protect the players.

The Proteas and India will play three Tests and as many ODIs without fans in attendance.

A CSA statement said: "Cricket South Africa (CSA) has noted the interests of cricket fans and other stakeholders on the scheduling and the release of the details of ticket sales, in connection with the forthcoming India vs Proteas tour that is scheduled to begin in less than a week.

"Regrettably, CSA wishes to inform the most ardent fans of cricket as well as all sports lovers that owing to the increasing COVID cases around the world, and the fourth wave locally, the two cricketing bodies have taken a joint decision to protect the players and the tour by NOT making tickets available for the India vs Proteas offerings.

"This decision was taken in order to avoid any breaches that could compromise the tour from a COVID-risk perspective and to also maintain a hazard-free bubble environment."

Pholetsi Moseki, the CSA acting chief executive officer, said: "We acknowledge the interest expressed by the fans and other stakeholders on being able to return to stadiums and want to assure all cricket fans that this decision was not taken lightly, but was instead taken in the best interest of the game and in the interest of the health and safety of all patrons.

"Consequently, we urge all sport lovers to exercise absolute care, during these extraordinary times.

"I also wish to take this time to urge all South Africans to continue spreading the positive messages of VACCINATION, VACCINATION AND VACCINATION, because this is the only way that we can truly get our country back into its high economic activity, which will assist government to open up the economy and all its forms of economic activity, including allowing greater numbers of fans back into stadiums."

 

Virat Kohli has insisted he was not asked to reconsider his decision to step down as India's T20I skipper and says he was not aware he might lose the ODI captaincy.

Kohli confirmed in September that he had decided to take a step back from leading India in the shortest format after the conclusion of the T20 World Cup.

However, he had agreed to stay on as India's ODI and Test captain, and remain available for selection in T20Is.

India failed to progress from the Super 12s in the World Cup, with Rohit Sharma named as captain for the subsequent T20 series against New Zealand.

But on December 8, Rohit was named India's new permanent white-ball captain.

The BCCI president, Sourav Ganguly, explained that the selectors felt there would have too much leadership within the white-ball squad had there been two captains for each of the formats.

Ganguly also claimed that Kohli had been asked to stay on as captain. However, the batsman has contradicted this statement.

 

"When I decided to leave the T20I captaincy and approached the BCCI about my decision, it was received well," Kohli told reporters.

"There was no offence or hesitation, I wasn't told to reconsider it. It was received well; I was told it's progressive and it's a step in the right direction.

"Then I told them I'd like to continue in Tests and ODIs, unless the office bearers and selectors feel otherwise.

"My communication was clear in what I wanted to do. I gave them the option, that if they feel I shouldn't [remain captain in Tests and/or ODIs], the decision is in their hands."

Kohli, who is staying on as Test captain, also revealed he was only told of the BCCI's decision to replace him as ODI skipper an hour-and-a-half prior to the squad announcement for India's upcoming red-ball tour of South Africa.

"I was contacted one-and-a-half hours before the selection meeting on December 8 for the Test series," Kohli said.

"There was no prior communication to me at all from when I announced the T20I captaincy decision until December 8, when I got a call before the selection meeting.

"The chief selector [Chetan Sharma] discussed with me the Test team, to which we both agreed, and before ending the call I was told the five selectors have decided I will not be the ODI captain, to which I replied, "okay, fine".

"In the selection call afterwards, we chatted about it briefly. That's what happened. There was no communication prior to that at all."

But Kohli is adamant the captaincy call will not impact his preparation for the South Africa Test series.

He added: "To be prepared for a tour like this and to perform to the best of my abilities, nothing has, and nothing can derail me from that.

"A lot of things that happen on the outside are not ideal and not how one expects them to be, but you have to understand you can only do so much as an individual and we have to keep thing in tight perspective and do things that are in your control.

"I'm focussed, mentally prepared, and excited to do the best I can for the team and make the team win."

West Indies batting legend Brian Lara has been named a brand ambassador for Indian consumer deliverables company USHA International.

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