‘Disappointed With Tailenders, They Couldn’t Stay for Even a Brief While’


'Disappointed With Tailenders, They Couldn't Stay for Even a Brief While' - Washington Sundar's Father

Twice in the four-Test series against England that concluded on Saturday, Washington Sundar has been left a few runs short of a century by the Indian tail.

In the first Test in Chennai, the star from the Gabba Test against Australia, remained unbeaten on 85 while on Saturday, he was far, far closer to his century, ending at 96 not out.

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It should have been an easy century for him but for the lack of application shown by tail-enders Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Siraj. The last three wickets – including the run-out of Axar Patel, fell in the space of five deliveries and with the addition of no run.

“I don’t understand why people are surprised at his batting. I have been hearing. He can face the new ball. But we are ready for whatever the Indian team asks him to do,” his father M. Sundar, who had mixed feelings, told IANS.

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“What I am really disappointed about are the tailenders. They couldn’t stay on for even a brief while. Suppose India were playing, needing 10 runs to win, wouldn’t this have been a huge mistake. There are millions of youngsters watching, they shouldn’t learn what the tail-enders did,” he said.

Ishant Sharma was leg-before while Siraj was bowled as he backed away.

“It is not about technique or skills. It was a matter of courage. England were tired, Stokes was bowling at 123-126. They were not bowling at lethal pace.”

Sundar has been a proper batsman. Before the fourth Test at the Gabba against Australia in January, he had played just 12 first-class matches since he was ignored by Tamil Nadu Ranji team for a number of years.

He had played Chennai league cricket as a batsman and also opened for Tamil Nadu in some of the limited opportunities he got. His bowling and especially him bowling the powerplay overs has bracketed him among limited overs specialists.

“It is quite surprising (to see people bracketing him as a bowler). Washy (Washington Sundar) bowled in some of the IPL matches this season. He shot to fame because of his bowling in the powerplay. Quite surprising that people don’t recognise that he is a batsman who can bowl,” said off-spinner R. Ashwin while speaking to the media.

“I am not surprised at his batting because he works really hard at his batting. In fact, we have discussions on how you should bowl more as well. He loves his batting. He is mainly a batsman so I am not surprised at his batting. He is a special batsman,” Ashwin said.







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Umesh’s Home Record & Ishant’s Transformation Mean No Place For Siraj in Indian XI


One of the interesting selection dilemmas facing Virat Kohli and the Indian think tank ahead of the fourth and final Test against England at Motera in Ahmedabad is the replacement for their pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah who is on personal leave. Ishant Sharma is set to lead the pace ball attack in the absence of Bumrah and Mohammed Shami. He has been amongst the best fast bowlers in the world since 2014. During this period he has taken 154 wickets in 47 Tests at an average of 25.79 and strike rate of 52.3. He has been exemplary in the last three years bagging 77 wickets in 21 matches at 19.42 apiece at a strike rate of 42.3.

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The choice then is between Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj. According to sources, it is the more experienced fast bowler who is expected to feature in India’s XI on Thursday. One cannot argue against the choice as Umesh Yadav has been one of the best fast bowlers for India in the last three years with magnificent returns at home.

UMESH YADAV – BRILLIANT AT HOME SINCE 2017

Umesh Yadav’s Test career has almost seen a renaissance since 2017 – he has picked 80 wickets in just 22 Tests at an average of 23.41 in the last four years. What has stood out for Umesh has been his wicket-taking propensity. His Strike Rate of 42 is the third-best for a fast bowler (min. 40 wickets) since 2017 only after the South African pair of Duanne Olivier and Kagiso Rabada.

What has also been remarkable is the fact that Umesh has excelled on placid or spinner friendly tracks in India. 63 of his 80 wickets (78.75%) in this time-period have come at home at an average of just 19.34 which is better than R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja – India’s two greatest match-winners at home in the last 8-9 years. This is an astonishing achievement by Umesh which has largely gone unnoticed within the cricketing fraternity.

Umesh has an exceptional record with the new ball since 2017 – a combination of average and strike rate and he is better than every other bowler for India in this time-frame be it Bumrah, Shami or Ishant Sharma. Umesh has an average of 20.96 and strike rate of 35.19 with the new ball since 2017. Umesh brings that extra pace and zing in his bowling, can make the new ball outswing and the old ball reverse swing in Indian conditions. He has developed new weapons in his arsenal with a special delivery he bowls with a scrambled seam that holds its line after giving an illusion of shaping away. Umesh also bowls a mean and accurate bouncer which can hurry up the best of batsmen.

Umesh was the leading wicket-taker amongst fast bowlers with 17 wickets in 4 Tests in the victorious Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2017. Josh Hazlewood followed with 9. He was also brilliant against South Africa at home bagging 11 wickets in two Tests in 2019. The quality of Umesh which stands out is his ability to make the ball talk on unresponsive Indian wickets. He has the ability to bowl unplayable deliveries in home conditions – the one he got to straighten to beat the outside edge and knock off the off stump of Faf Du Plessis was a classic example.

It is for these attributes and numbers that Umesh will replace Bumrah in the XI over Mohammed Siraj, who as good as he has been in his short career does not have the same firepower as Umesh.

SIRAJ – HIGHEST WICKET-TAKER IN AUSTRALIA BUT A SUPPORT ACT IN INDIA

Mohammed Siraj had a fine debut series in Australia. In the absence of India’s pace quartet he put his hands up and delivered returning as the leading wicket-taker of India in the series. Siraj picked 13 wickets in 3 Tests at an average of 29.53 and strike rate of 62 including a best of 5-73 in the second innings in Brisbane. He played the second Test in Chennai and did not do anything wrong – in fact, he got the wicket of Ollie Pope with his first ball at home in India in the first innings.

But the thing with Siraj is that he is not an outright winner in spinner friendly conditions or flat decks in India. His bowling is not suited to the Indian tracks. He is not express pace and relies on his consistency in line and length. In Australia and other SENA countries, the pace and bounce in the wicket and the conditions make him into a potent force but he is at best a restrictive bowler at home. He does not have the weapons to trouble quality batsmen at home – unlike an Umesh Yadav or Ishant Sharma.

Unless Siraj can add an extra few kms per hour in his pace or develop a few wicket-taking deliveries to trouble batsmen on unresponsive wickets at home, the likes of Bumrah, Ishant, Umesh and Shami will always be preferred over him.

Siraj should take this as a challenge and go back to the drawing board and return with some extra miles and a few more weapons in his repertoire.

The competition will only make him a better bowler.







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‘It Was a Very Good Pitch to Bat On,’ Says Virat Kohli After Two-Day Win


The third Test between India and England got over in less than two days, but India captain Virat Kohli blamed it on the lack of application from the batsmen and not on the nature of the pitch at the Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad.

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India won by 10 wickets a little while after dinner on Day 2, with spinners ruling the game. The pitch was, as expected, under the scanner but Kohli went as far as calling it a ‘good pitch to bat on’.

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“To be honest, I don’t think the quality of batting was at all up to standard from both teams,” he said at the post match presentation.

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“They were bundled out…and lack of application from both sides. The ball was coming on nicely yesterday and the odd ball was turning. It was a very good wicket to bat on. But the batting was below-par from both sides. It was bizarre that out of 30 wickets, 21 was to straight balls. It was down to lapse of concentration or playing for turn and beating on the inside.

“Test cricket is all about it – this is a classic example of batsmen not applying themselves enough. It was a bizarre game – I’ve never been part of a Test match where things have moved so quickly.”

India did not have to use their pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma in the second innings. Kohli joked about it, while being rich in praise of Man of the Match Axar Patel who got five wickets,

“Bumrah said I’m getting workload management while playing the game and Ishi said I’m playing my 100th game and not getting to bowl. Washington Sundar was happy that he got three balls in the whole game. He didn’t get any with the bat also – poor guy,” he said.

“A lot of people when Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) got injured might have been relieved but this guy (Axar) comes in and bowls faster than Jadeja and from a taller height. I don’t know what’s with Gujaratis and left-arm spin. Along with Jaddu, Ash – they’ve been playing for years – Washi has played Test cricket, but to come here and do this with outstanding.”

Kohli called R Ashwin, who got to 400 Test wickets during the game, a modern day legend

“We all need to stand up and be proud of what Ashwin has contributed. I told him I will call him Leg (legend) from today, he’s a modern-day legend,” he said.

“It was a game of quick-fire runs and quick wickets, but we’re going to prepare ourselves for the long grind. A few days off with the hectic schedule is nice as well.”







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WATCH-Home Minister Amit Shah, President Ramnath Kovind Felicitate Ishant Sharma on 100th Test


India pacer Ishant Sharma was felicitated by President Ramnath Kovind and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the occasion of the former”s 100th Test match.  In a video posted by the BCCI, the 32-year-old was seen being introduced to the dignitaries by captain Virat Kohli following which he was handed over the memento.

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WATCH:

From Workhorse to Leader – Charting Ishant Sharma’s Long-winded Journey to 100 Tests

Ahead of the milestone match for the pacer, skipper Virat Kohli praised his friend and teammate. Kohli opened up about his relationship with the fast bowler and went to reveal thathe wasthe person to inform a sleepy Sharma about his maiden call-up for the national team. “I have known Ishant for many years now,” Kohli said in a virtual press conference. He also touched upon how the two started playing state cricket and were together from the first season onwards. “We were roommates for a long time for state cricket, in Ranji cricket circuit,”he added.

Kohli went on to add that he couldn’t be happier for Sharma and said, “Playing 100 Test matches as a fast bowler is no mean feat.Especially in the harsh sub-continent conditions it is difficult,”he further mentioned. Singing praises for his friend, the captain said that Sharma ‘persevered’ a lot and ‘he kept working hard’ and that has been ‘his essence from day one’. The skipper also said that the fast bowler could have prioritised ODI cricket, instead he focussed on the long format of the game.

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Sharma, with his ability to bowl extremely fast from an awkward height, made a good impression on the selectors. He made his Test debut against Bangladesh in 2007 and has steadily improved as he grew older. He has represented India in 99 Tests and picked 302 wickets so far. He has played in 80 ODIs picking up 115 wickets and 14 T20Is with just eight wickets.

The pacer shows no signs of hanging up his boots and continues to excel on the world stage 14 years after his Test debut.







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Sachin Tendulkar Congratulates Ishant Sharma for Reaching Landmark of 100 Tests


Playing 100 Tests is a great landmark for any cricketer, especially a fast bowler. Have seen you play from your U-19 days & played alongside you in your 1st Test. Proud of you & your service to #TeamIndia.

Continue to serve in the best possible manner. Congrats @ImIshant! pic.twitter.com/onBVpgoRLr

— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) February 24, 2021

Meanwhile in a recent interaction, Delhi pacer Ishant recalled how he, just like everyone else, was stunned at the sudden nature of MS Dhoni’s Test retirement and how he found out about it in the most unusual of circumstances.

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“I felt very bad (on MS Dhoni’s retirement). I had taken many injections for that Melbourne Test match because I was experiencing severe pain in my knee. I did not know that Mahi bhai was going to retire. In fact, nobody knew that he was going to retire. So, I was taking an injection every session,” Ishant said with an interaction with R Ashwin on his YouTube channel.

“When it was almost Tea on Day 4, and Australia were about to declare… I told Mahi bhai that I cannot take injections any more. So, he told me, that’s okay. You don’t need to bowl now. Then something happened, and he told me, ‘lambu tune mujhe Test match mein chhod diya’ (you have left me in this Test match). I did not understand. Then he elaborated, ‘you left me midway in my last Test match’.

“I was stunned. I told him if I knew I would definitely have continued to play. So that was a really touching story. I didn’t know till the last day that he was retiring.”

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India are currently level 1-1 with England in the four-match Test series, having lost the first Test at Chennai before rebounding with a victory. India need to win the series to guarantee themselves a place in the World Test Championship final later this year.







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Ishant Sharma to Join Elite 100 Tests Club, Skipper Virat Kohli Recalls Pacer’s Maiden Call-up


The all-important third Test match will take place between cricket giant’s India and England on Wednesday at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad. Team India’s pace spearhead Ishant Sharma will be reaching a significant milestone in his career. Sharma, following the legendary Kapil Dev’s footsteps, is on the verge of becoming the second Indian fast bowler to play 100 Test matches. The 32-year-old has already achieved a milestone during the ongoing England series, passing 300 Test wickets.

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Ahead of the milestone match for the pacer, skipper Virat Kohli praised his friend and teammate. Kohli opened up about his relationship with the fast bowler and went to reveal thathe wasthe person to inform a sleepy Sharma about his maiden call-up for the national team.

“I have known Ishant for many years now,” Kohli said in a virtual press conference. He also touched upon how the two started playing state cricket and were together from the first season onwards. “We were roommates for a long time for state cricket, in Ranji cricket circuit,”he added.

Kohli went on to add that he couldn’t be happier for Sharma and said, “Playing 100 Test matches as a fast bowler is no mean feat.Especially in the harsh sub-continent conditions it is difficult,”he further mentioned. Singing praises for his friend, the captain said that Sharma ‘persevered’ a lot and ‘he kept working hard’ and that has been ‘his essence from day one’. The skipper also said that the fast bowler could have prioritised ODI cricket, instead he focussed on the long format of the game.

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Sharma, with his ability to bowl extremely fast from an awkward height, made a good impression on the selectors. He made his Test debut against Bangladesh in 2007 and has steadily improved as he grew older. He has represented India in 99 Tests and picked 302 wickets so far. He has played in 80 ODIs picking up 115 wickets and 14 T20Is with just eight wickets.

The pacer shows no signs of hanging up his boots and continues to excel on the world stage 14 years after his Test debut.







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Ishant Sharma Reveals How He Found Out When MS Dhoni Would Retire from Tests


India pacer Ishant Sharma is set to play in his 100th Test match when the team take on England at Ahmedabad on Wednesday, meaning he will become only the second pacer from the country after Kapil Dev to have reached this milestone. Ishant’s longevity in the side has seen him play under a number of captains, including MS Dhoni who largely used him as a workhorse. In a recent interaction, the Delhi pacer recalled how he, just like everyone else, was stunned at the sudden nature of Dhoni’s Test retirement and how he found out about it in the most unusual of circumstances.

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“I felt very bad (on MS Dhoni’s retirement). I had taken many injections for that Melbourne Test match because I was experiencing severe pain in my knee. I did not know that Mahi bhai was going to retire. In fact, nobody knew that he was going to retire. So, I was taking an injection every session,” Ishant said with an interaction with R Ashwin on his YouTube channel.

“When it was almost Tea on Day 4, and Australia were about to declare… I told Mahi bhai that I cannot take injections any more. So, he told me, that’s okay. You don’t need to bowl now. Then something happened, and he told me, ‘lambu tune mujhe Test match mein chhod diya’ (you have left me in this Test match). I did not understand. Then he elaborated, ‘you left me midway in my last Test match’.

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“I was stunned. I told him if I knew I would definitely have continued to play. So that was a really touching story. I didn’t know till the last day that he was retiring.”

Ishant also speculated over the timing of his retirement, especially since Dhoni was still one of the fittest members of the side at the time and would go on to play white-ball cricket for India therafter for almost another 5 years.

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“Although he was close to 100 Tests, he was always a team man. I remember he told me he when we were in England that it is not important for him to play hundred Tests. Instead, he felt that we need to start grooming (Wriddhiman) Saha. That’s why he took the sudden decision to retire, I feel.”







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India vs England: Records as a Captain Mean Nothing me


Before the start of the third Test between India and England at Motera Stadium, there is a lot of talk about Ishant Sharma playing his 100th Test. Also there is a chance for skipper Virat Kohli to become the most successful skipper for India in Tests, at home. But the latter has made it clear, that these numbers don’t hold a great value as an individual, and his responsibility is only to keep the team on top. He also made it clear that MS Dhoni was his skipper and learnt a lot from him, and share a great camaraderie with him, so there is no comparison at all.

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“Records as a captain mean nothing me or any other player. It is a responsibility given to me and I’m trying to do my best. This has always been the case, and will remain the same, as long as I play the game. These are fickle things which look great from outside, doesn’t matter to me as an individual,” Kohli said at the pre-match conference.

We (MS Dhoni) share great camaraderie, and mutual respect is something you hold very dear to your heart. It is alwatys more important than these milestones. I have a responsibility to keep Team India on top, and same applies to someone who takes over after me.”

Talking about the prospect of making it to the World Test Championship final, Kohli stressed that they would be looking to win both the Tests, but for now are only focussed on the next match.

ALSO READ – India vs England: From Workhorse to Leader – Charting Ishant Sharma’s Long-winded Journey to 100 Tests

“You don’t play for those reasons. We are looking to win both games, and not win this one and draw next. There is no point running too far ahead into the future. Let other people think about the what ifs.







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Bumrah, Umesh Likely To Replace Siraj and Kuldeep in Playing XI For Motera


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Gill and Rohit Sharma to Open the Innings

Shubman Gill had a rare failure in the second Test in Chennai where he did not get off the mark in the first innings and was dismissed for just 14 in the second. But there is no chance of him being replaced or rested after the start he has had in his Test career. Gill has already shown his class in his short Test career scoring brisk runs with sublime timing at the top of the order for India. His 91 against Australia in Brisbane in the chase has been the highlight of his international career thus far – it laid the platform for one of the greatest chases in Test cricket history!

Rohit Sharma needed a big score after getting a few low scores in India and he again shut his detractors with one of the most majestic hundreds on Indian soil in Test cricket. On a difficult wicket which was aiding fast spin he not only scored big but did so at a very high strike rate dominating the opposition bowlers and the Indian batting both! Rohit can do what Sehwag did for India in Test cricket. Even if that means keeping a young talent like Mayank Agarwal at bay for a couple of years so be it!

Pujara, Kohli and Rahane Form the Middle Order

Cheteshwar Pujara could again be India’s biggest wicket if the Pink Ball starts doing tricks during the twilight period. Virat Kohli showed his class with a brilliant 62 in tough conditions in the second innings in Chennai – an innings full of concentration and determination where the Indian captain gave a lesson or two to the others on how to bat on a turning pitch. Two qualities defined his batting – taking a long stride forward to defend and going right back and across if the length was slightly shorter.

Kohli has scored three brilliant fifties in his last three Tests scoring runs in conditions aiding the bowlers when most other batsmen have failed around him. Ajinkya Rahane needed that 67 in the first innings of the second Test in Chennai. He hadn’t done much since 2020 with the exception of the great hundred at the MCG but for now at least has silenced his doubters with a half-century under a crunch situation in Chennai.

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Rishabh Pant at Number 6

Rishabh Pant has done enough and more in front of the stumps to almost play as a specialist number 6 for India. He also pulled off a couple of remarkable catches and a fine stumping in Chennai and is now India’s designated wicket-keeper across formats in all conditions. Pant has been brilliant with the bat scoring splendid fifties in his last four Test matches.

The top 6 were easy. It gets interesting from hereon. Should India play three pace bowlers and two spinners? Should the home team strengthen their batting given it is a Pink Ball Test? What is the new wicket at Motera like? What are the other factors that could affect the selection?

Let us attempt to answer these questions – that will select the Number 7-11 positions for India at Motera.

Wicket Expected to Aid Spin But there is Twilight and There Will be Dew

The wicket for the third Test in Ahmedabad has some cover of green but it would, in all likelihood be removed before the start of the Test on Wednesday. India will not play a Day and Night Test at home against the likes of James Anderson and Jofra Archer on a green wicket – especially with the series tied at 1-1 and the result of this Test almost virtually deciding who joins New Zealand for the final of the World Test Championship at Lord’s in June.

But even on a placid wicket the Pink Ball might do some tricks just before the lights come on – a new Pink Ball might offer extra pace and bounce and seam movement and an older one some extra reverse swing. Also, another huge factor which could affect the course of play is the dew. There will be plenty of it in the evening which will make it difficult for the spinners to grip the Pink Ball.

Taking into consideration all the above listed factors and given the fact that Kuldeep Yadav was the least threatening of India’s spinners in the second Chennai Test, India will definitely play an extra seamer in place of the Chinaman bowler.

The question now remains – who will be the third seamer? Mohammed Siraj or Umesh Yadav.

Umesh Likely to be the Third Seamer

Mohammed Siraj has a big heart and has impressed in his short Test career thus far. He put his hands up and was India’s leading wicket-taker in his debut series in the absence of the big-wigs in Australia. But he may not be an outright match-winner with the ball even in a Pink Ball Day and Night Test in India. Umesh Yadav has more pace and sting and more weapons in his bowling arsenal and has the ability to run through the England line-up in what should be slightly favourable conditions at Motera.

Umesh has been amongst the best fast bowlers in the world since 2018. During this period he has bagged 49 wickets in 12 Tests at an average of 19.71. His strike rate of 35.1 is the best in the world amongst all fast bowlers in this time-frame. He could get the old ball to reverse and will especially be a handful in that dreadful twilight period for the batsmen. Umesh could be India’s trump card at Motera.

Jasprit Bumrah will return to the squad after a much needed break in the second Test in Chennai. Axar Patel had a great debut at Chepauk and given England’s problems against left-arm spin he should find a place in the XI in Ahmedabad as well even in a Pink Ball Test. R Ashwin, of course, the Player of the Match, who put on a record all-round performance in the second Test will be India’s lead spinner in the match. However, it will be interesting to see whether he gets the same assistance from the Pink Ball.

The return of Ashwin – the Batsman and Axar’s all-round prowess also means that India can play the extra seamer and do not need to play an additional batsman even in a Pink Ball Day and Night Test. The think tank may flirt with the idea of playing Hardik Pandya in place of Axar Patel but that should only be a consideration if the destructive all-rounder can also chip in with a substantial number of overs in the match. Playing Hardik – the specialist batsman over an in-form Axar will not be such a smart move.

So, this is India’s likely XI for the Pink Ball Test at Motera:​

1. Rohit Sharma

2. Shubman Gill

3. Cheteshwar Pujara

4. Virat Kohli (c)

5. Ajinkya Rahane

6. Rishabh Pant (wk)

7. R Ashwin

8. Axar Patel

9. Ishant Sharma

10. Jasprit Bumrah

11. Umesh Yadav







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