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Former Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh speaks to the media at DP World’s Beyond Boundaries Initiative event in Dubai on Thursday. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The Test series between India and England is getting intense that the balance could tilt either way with the batter of an eyelid.

England showed how dangerous they could be with an aggressive “Bazball” approach by winning the first Test on a pitch that offered turn from the first day.

However, the depleted Indian side managed to claw their way back into the series on two brilliant individual performances — a double century by 22-year-old Yashasvi Jaiswal and a stunning six-wicket haul in the first innings by ace pacer Jasprit Bumrah.

Preparing good pitches

Former Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, while being critical of the Indian team management’s approach to preparing Test pitches, felt pitches should be prepared to ensure matches can last five days. He also hailed Bumrah’s role as leader of the Indian bowling pack.

“Somewhere down the line, Team India management need to sit and think that whether this is the right approach to take it forward or not. India has got a great team with some extraordinary players in their line-up. Someone like Bumrah doesn’t need any help from the pitch to perform, he is such a bowler. We have enough spinners and batters but what India need to understand is that the rivals are as much prepared as they are so they need to ensure that they prepare pitches where they don’t fall into their own trap,” the 43-year-old said in reply to a question from Gulf News.

“In that scenario, toss becomes critical and if you lose the toss the result becomes a foregone conclusion. One should be able to win the match even after losing the toss and it can’t happen on such pitches,” he added.

It is the second instance India had fallen into their own trap by preparing a pitch that is highly conducive for spinners right from the start. While England spun a web around the Men in Blue in the first Test in Hyderabad, Australia caught the hosts on the backfoot in the 50-over World Cup final in Ahmedabad last year.

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Jasprit Bumrah was adjudged Player of the Match for his nine-wicket match haul on the spin-friendly Visakhapatnam pitch. Image Credit: Reuters

Match-winning display

Bumrah, who was adjudged Player of the Match for his nine-wicket match haul on the spin-friendly Visakhapatnam pitch, became the first Indian pacer to top the Test rankings.

The match-winning display with his reverse swing helped the 30-year-old pacer leapfrog Australia’s Pat Cummins, South African pacer Kagiso Rabada and Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in the International Cricket Council Test rankings. India spinners Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Bishan Singh Bedi had earlier topped the Test rankings for bowlers.

While England will enter the third Test with a relaxed frame of mind after spending considerable time with family in Abu Dhabi, India’s woes continue to swell. Talisman Virat Kohli has ruled himself out of the entire series due to personal reasons while dependable batter KL Rahul has failed to recover from a quad strain. The Indian selectors have also not picked Shreyas Iyer for the third Test after the middle order batter has not done anything of note in the last four Tests, which means India will have an untested and fragile middle order with either Sarfaraz Khan or Devdutt Padikkal getting their Test debut cap for India.

On the positive note, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has passed the fitness test and will be available while Mohammed Siraj is expected to regain his place in the XI after being rested for the second Test. In this scenario, India will not be taking chances in the third Test, beginning at Rajkot on Thursday.

“The second Test India played at Visakhapatnam is a good Test pitch and a good result in India’s favour. India have got the potential, but if you don’t have the right conditions, then they can’t showcase their talents. So give them the right platform to go out and show their talent and unless the Test lasts for five days how can they show their potential,” said the off-spinner with 417 Test wickets and 2011 World Cup winner.

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Abdulla Bin Damithan, Harbhajan Singh and Danny Van Otterdijk, DP World Chief Communications Officer distribute kits to young cricketers at DP World’s Beyond Boundaries Initiative event in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Global mission

Harbhajan, DP World ILT20 Ambassador, hailed the DP World’s Beyond Boundaries Initiative, a global mission to support the growth of cricket through the donation of kits, equipment and facilities to grassroots organisations around the world via 50 repurposed shipping containers.

“Having witnessed first-hand the transformative power of cricket, it is fantastic to see DP World’s efforts to elevate the game through the Beyond Boundaries Initiative. Cricket in the UAE is flourishing at the elite level through the DP World ILT20, and it is incredibly heartening to see DP World’s commitment to creating a sustainable ecosystem that will allow young people the opportunity to engage with this brilliant sport,” after the launch during which he handed over cricket kits to several budding cricketers

The programme’s expansion to the UAE was celebrated at a launch event at DP World’s headquarters in Jafza, attended by CEO and Managing Director, DP World GCC Abdulla Bin Damithan, Group Chief Communications Officer, DP World, Daniel Van Otterdijk and Harbhajan Singh.

This next phase of the Beyond Boundaries Initiative builds upon its successful launch at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in India last October. Across the tournament, DP World pledged to deliver 2,500 kits to grassroots cricket clubs and unveiled the first three containers, that delivered 800 kits to local clubs in need. The Beyond Boundaries Initiative continued during the DP World ILT20, pledging an additional kit to grassroots cricket for every six hit during the tournament.