Feature Cricket

A very special triumph for the Aussies

Partab Ramchand Updated: 14 March, 2019, 11:39 AM IST


Even by their overall awesome record – epitomized by five World Cup triumphs – the latest victory by Australia in India has to be something very special. Coming in as underdogs – they were ranked No 6 to India’s No 2 – and taking on the hosts who have a formidable record at home the Aussies raised the level of their game to such an extent that they surprised the Indians. Of particular significance is the fact that they recovered from 0-2 down to win the five match series – a feat that has not been performed very often. This once again symbolized the fighting spirit of the visitors. The well-known adage ```no match is lost till it is won’’ is most associated with the Aussies and the never say die attitude was evident during the contest.

What would have pleased everyone associated with Australian cricket was the fact that it was achieved by a team not at full strength. But the newcomers and the veterans – symbolized by Ashton Turner and Usman Khawaja – did their job so admirably that those experienced players who missed out on the tour were hardly missed. Theirs was a triumph for teamwork for every member of the side pulled in his weight when it mattered most. They also showed remarkable temperament in that they were not overshadowed by the big names arrayed against them.

But for all the teamwork involved if there was one man who should be singled out for special praise it has to be Khawaja. The left handed batsman doesn’t seem to have the ideal game for limited overs cricket and before this series he had played 20 innings in ODIs and scored 593 runs at an average of 32 with no hundreds. With the 383 runs scored in the five matches he now has 966 runs with two hundreds, his average has gone up to 42 and his strike rate then just over 70 is now 83. It is all about playing above one’s potential and no one symbolized this more than Khawaja.

England has been installed as early favourites for the World Cup but on this showing the latest team to beat could well be Australia. With the return of Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood they will be at full strength for the showpiece event and the defending champions certainly have a very good chance of lifting the World Cup for the sixth time.

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News Football

Klopp's Liverpool wins 3-1 in Munich to knock Bayern out

AP Updated: 14 March, 2019, 10:29 AM IST


Sadio Mane scored twice to send Juergen Klopp's Liverpool into the Champions League quarterfinals with a 3-1 win at Bayern Munich in the second leg of the last 16.

Mane opened the scoring with a delicate finish in the 26th minute and added Liverpool's third in the 84th by heading in Mohamed Salah's cross as Bayern desperately sought a way back into the game.

Serge Gnabry had forced an own goal from Joel Matip to equalize in the 39th, but Liverpool went ahead again through a corner when Virgil Van Dijk met James Milner's cross with a thumping header in the 69th.

"Scoring three is really difficult. Actually, we scored four because we scored the other one as well. It's a big step for us," said Klopp, whose team lost in the final to Real Madrid last year. "We really are back in the landscape of international football."

After a scoreless first leg, Liverpool's win puts four English teams into the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009. Manchester United, Tottenham and Manchester City also advanced.

It's the first time since 2006 that there will be no German team among the last eight. For the first time since winning the tournament in 2013, Bayern's campaign wasn't ended by a Spanish team.

"We deserved to lose today. Liverpool was the better team in two games. Today we were shown our limits," said Bayern coach Niko Kovac, whose side claimed the Bundesliga lead at the weekend.

Klopp, who previously coached Bayern's old foe Borussia Dortmund, led the away fans' celebrations after the final whistle.

"I'm proud and happy, because this club deserves awareness again," said Klopp, who also lost the final to Bayern with Dortmund in 2013 but said past disappointments played no role.

"It's not sweeter for me because it's Bayern. I want to win for Liverpool and not to beat Bayern," Klopp said. "It's just a good moment for Liverpool and let's enjoy that."

Also Wednesday, Barcelona defeated Lyon 5-1 at home to progress.

Bayern had lost only one of its previous 18 competitive games and was confident of finishing the job against Liverpool after racking up 12 goals in the three games it played since their draw.

But the side failed to really threaten Alisson Becker's goal, even after Liverpool lost its captain Jordan Henderson with an apparent ankle injury in the 13th. Fabinho came on to replace the midfielder.

Liverpool started slowly until a mistake from Manuel Neuer in his 100th game in the competition led to the opener. The Bayern 'keeper rushed out of goal and Mane turned to elude him and defender Rafinha before chipping the ball into the unguarded net.

Matip's own goal got Bayern back in the game, but this time there was no heroic comeback. Bayern came from two goals down against Juventus at the same stage to win 4-2 three years ago.

Lewandowski went close but remained frustrated as he went scoreless for the seventh successive Champions League knockout game.

Salah, five games without a goal since the draw with Bayern, also finished without scoring, but he did provide the cross for Mane to seal it.

News Football

Ronaldo paying Juventus back with goals galore

AP Updated: 14 March, 2019, 10:20 AM IST


If you can't beat him, buy him. The $131 million that Juventus spent to lure Cristiano Ronaldo away from Real Madrid is already paying off on the field and off it.

Ronaldo scored a hat trick against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday, giving the Italian team the three goals it needed to overturn a 2-0 loss from the first leg.

The win earned Juventus a spot in the quarterfinals, worth at least 16 million euros ($18 million) from UEFA and ticket sales.

"That's why Juventus signed me," said Ronaldo, who has scored 24 goals this season. "I do my job and I'm very happy. It's been a magical night."

The Portugal forward was brought in to help Juventus finally win the Champions League again after some tough losses to Real Madrid, a team at the time led by none other than Ronaldo.

His goals against his old team on Tuesday have already proved historic. The result led Juventus back from a two-goal loss in the first leg for the first time in club history.

The victory also helped boost Juventus' share price on Wednesday morning. The rise was so sharp that trading on it had to be temporarily halted after opening on the Italian Stock Exchange with a 23 percent increase on Tuesday's closing price.

That same stock market had taken a hit three weeks ago, with the club's share price dropping more than 9 percent after its 2-0 loss in Madrid.

Juventus' presence in the quarterfinals and the manner in which it qualified will also boost its coffers in a way that is hard to quantify: Brand improvement.

That is something Juventus has been working on for several years and which included the changing of the club logo and the signing of Ronaldo, which increased its following on social media by tens of millions.

This season, Juventus has already received 94 million euros ($106 million) from UEFA and that could rise to almost 130 million ($147 million) if the Italian team wins its third European Cup — and first since 1996.

That figure doesn't include ticket sales. Juventus made a record 5.5 million euros ($6.2 million) on Tuesday from gate receipts, including hospitality. That beat the previous mark of 5 million euros ($5.7 million) from its 2-1 loss to Manchester United earlier in the season.

And that will likely be surpassed no matter which team comes to the Allianz Stadium for the quarterfinals.

Ronaldo hasn't had the easiest time off the field after being accused of rape in the United States, but his influence on the field cannot be overestimated.

Just look at Real Madrid, which had won the last three Champions League titles with Ronaldo but couldn't even reach the quarterfinals this year without him.

News Cricket

Australian Watson carries Quetta to PSL final

Staff Writer Updated: 14 March, 2019, 10:08 AM IST


Shane Watson's all-round performance carried Quetta Gladiators to its third Pakistan Super League final with a 10-run victory over Peshawar Zalmi in the qualifier.

Peshawar will have another chance to make it to the final when it takes on the winner between Karachi Kings and defending champions Islamabad United.

Watson smashed 71 off 43 balls with six sixes and five boundaries and lifted Quetta to 186-6 after Peshawar captain Darren Sammy of the West Indies won the toss and elected to field.

Sammy (46) and Kieron Pollard (44) led a gallant Peshawar fightback with an 83-run stand off 36 balls before Watson conceded 10 runs in the last over to restrict Peshawar to 176-7.

Needing 21 off the last over, Pollard smashed Watson over midwicket for a six off the second ball before the Australian seamer uprooted the West Indian middle stump off the third delivery.

And Peshawar lost its last hope when Sammy, who hit five sixes and two boundaries, was run out while attempting to regain the strike off the next ball.

Peshawar, which lost the final to Islamabad last year, got off track once it lost Pakistan discard Kamran Akmal (23) in the sixth over. Veteran Misbah-ul-Haq could contribute only 18 before he was out lbw to seamer Mohammad Hasnain (2-28) in the 14th over as Peshawar slipped to 90-5.

But Sammy and Pollard entertained a large crowd at the National Stadium with their clean hitting before Watson denied Peshawar in the last over.

Earlier, Watson kept Quetta innings going at a brisk pace with local Ahsan Ali, who contributed a useful 46 off 32 balls.

Both batsmen shared 111-run second wicket stand before Peshawar pulled back through left-arm seamer Wahab Riaz (2-26).

Riaz had Watson clean bowled in the 12th over and also got rid of dangerous Umar Akmal (22).

News Cricket

Chris Woakes hails England's bowling 

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 8:24 PM IST


The world.1 ranked ODI side, England are considered one of the red-hot favourites for the Cricket World Cup. Their batting is right up there with the best but when it comes to their bowling, there are question marks on this aspect of their game. But, English all-rounder, Chris Woakes feels England's bowling is good. 

“A lot is spoken about our batting given the strength we have with the bat, it’s up there with the best in the world, we realise that is one of our strengths but I think we’ve done some really good stuff with the ball over the last few years as well,” Woakes wrote in his column for Sky Sports.

He further wrote,“Sometimes that goes unnoticed because of how good we are with the bat. It’s great to see some of the guys putting their hand up, it’s not in the ODI format but whenever you get an opportunity, it’s good to put in strong performances and show everybody what you can do – the guys who have been out in the Caribbean for the T20s have certainly done that.” Q

News Cricket

Ravi Shastri opens up on the KL Rahul-Hardik Pandya controversy 

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 8:09 PM IST


Indian cricketers, KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya landed themselves into huge trouble with their appearance on the TV show, Koffee with Karan. They were suspended after that and were sent back home from Australia mid-way through the tour.

India’s head coach, Ravi Shastri opened on the hot potato and said Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul needed ” the rap on their knuckles”, referring to the duo’s crass comments while appearing in a TV show.

“Pandya and Rahul needed the rap on their knuckles. They would have learnt a lot from what happened, which is good,” Shastri told ‘Mirror Now’.

“You are bound to make mistakes and you are bound to be punished at times but that’s not the end of the world. Such experiences just help players to come back stronger, harder and wiser,” he said.

News Cricket

Rohit Sharma creates world record in Delhi

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 8:04 PM IST


India opener and vice-captain, Rohit Sharma created yet another record in One-day Internationals. In Delhi, the Indian batsman was on 18 when he became the fastest cricketer ever to reach 6000 runs in ODI cricket as an opener. He overcame South AFrican veteran batsman, Hashim Amla to reach the landmark. 

The right-hander, Amla had scored 6k ODI runs as opener in 123 innings, whereas Rohit did it in just 121 innings. Rohit Sharma's career completely changed in ODIs when he started opening for India. He was made India's opener in 2013 Champions Trophy and he hasn't looked back from then onwards.

Rohit Sharma is going to be critical to India's chances in the ICC showpiece event in England and Wales

News Cricket

Rohit Sharma crosses the 8,000 run barrier in ODIs

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 7:38 PM IST


Indian opener, Rohit Sharma reached another landmark in the fifth and final ODI against Australia at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi. He reached the 8k run-mark in ODI cricket. It took him 200 ODI innings to reach the milestone. Rohit Sharma was batting at 50 runs off 73 balls with four boundaries. The series decider between India and Australia is evenly poised with India at 114 for three after 24 overs. They need 159 runs with seven wickets in hand to win the series.

This is India's final ODI game before the ICC Cricket World Cup that will take place in England and Wales. Rohit Sharma is currently one of the best ODI batsmen at present. The India batsman is known for making daddy hundreds in 50-overs cricket. He has two double-hundreds in ODIs. 

Videos Cricket

Watch: Ravindra Jadeja gets Finch with a ripper

Harshit Anand Updated: 13 March, 2019, 5:23 PM IST


Ravindra Jadeja bowled a terrific spell in the series decider against Australia at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi. He ended with figures of 2/45. But Jadeja won many a hearts with a peach of a delivery to get rid of dangerous looking, Aaron Finch in the 15th over of the game after Australia won the toss and elected to bat first in fifth and final ODI.

He got Finch out on 27 runs. The ball was fired in towards length on middle, then the ball spun away just about enough to beat the the bat of Finch to kiss the stumps. Australian openers had got the team off to a great start as they added 76 runs for the first wicket.

Here is the delivery that sent Finch packing:

Australia finished its innings on 272 runs for nine wickets. Opener Usman Khawaja scored a brilliant hundred for the Men in Yellow while last match centurion Peter Handscomb also scored a fifty.

Opinion Cricket

‘Uncoupling’ A Golden Team?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 13 March, 2019, 4:52 PM IST


Much has been written about the Ranchi one day international being potentially Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s swansong on Indian soil as far as playing in India’s colours is concerned. However, an important side story is the breaking apart of the leadership duo that is often less highlighted and the impact of that on Virat Kohli.

Not only was the idea behind wearing the camouflage caps in the course of the third one day international a joint pre-planned affair between India’s former captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and current Indian skipper, Virat Kohli, but also, the plotting India’s successes over the years. Much was talked about the fact when Virat Kohli, emerging out of the shadows of Sachin Tendulkar post the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, appeared to be fast catching up with Dhoni who was then India’s captain. Eventually it seemed that time for Dhoni to pass on the Test cricket captain mantle was long overdue when unexpectedly midway through the Test series in Australia in 2014, Dhoni announced his retirement, making the obvious now the norm.

However, while there were speculations about the rare, odd and rather awkward scenario where a former captain with playing ambitions would have to play under a younger, more aspirational skipper with a penchant for embracing of the public adulation, Dhoni has enjoyed being a player with modest appreciation while letting Kohli rightfully take on the spotlight.

For his part, Kohli has been nothing but respectful of Dhoni, even defending the former captain when his bat fell ominously silent and his place in the team was being questioned, particularly with the ICC Cricket World Cup not that far away. On more than one occasion, Kohli has been expressive about using Dhoni’s quick thinking-on-his-feet acumen in pressure situations and imbibing some of the coolness that Dhoni has built his reputation around.

That said, Kohli’s captaincy has been known to border on impetuosity, retaliatory and sometimes exposing captaincy credentials being somewhat in an embryonic stage vis-à-vis the more mature, composed Dhoni. An odd couple, Dhoni and Kohli seem to complement each other on the field when it comes to strategizing their next move and in that sense, perhaps Kohli will indeed fell the void should the speculation about Dhoni having played his last match on Indian soil be the truth.

For a while, it has been considered that there was far from a competitive streak and more of a camaraderie between the two captains, evident in how they interacted in the after hours. Kohli himself stated explicitly that Dhoni’s presence on the field creates not only clarity of ideas but also, serenity as Dhoni has had the penchant for not being afraid to take the match to the final over, somewhat unconventional in limited overs internationals where tradition dictates matches are finished well before panic about the pressure sets in.

It is not unusual for the manner in which the young wicketkeeper, Rishabh Pant, was treated for his wicket keeping skills vis-à-vis Dhoni and neither is it surprising that Virat Kohli’s glaring omissions about fielding and utilizing Jasprit Bumrah came under the radar, particularly as it became obvious that Australia were putting themselves in a commanding position in Mohali to pull off a second win on the trot. With Dhoni sitting out after the Ranchi one day international, while speculation suggested Dhoni had played his last match in India in his home town, it was not that far a target for Kohli and Rishabh Pant to be put on the defensive, considering the big boots that they have had to fill.

News Cricket

Sunny Leone names her favorite cricketer

Harshit Anand Updated: 13 March, 2019, 4:48 PM IST


Popular Bollywood actress, Sunny Leone has named her favourite cricketer and the name isn't too surprising. She has named India's limited-overs wicket-keeper batsman, MS Dhoni as her favourite cricketer.

She said, “My favourite is Dhoni. I think he has the cutest child, doesn’t he? I see him post pictures of him with his child (daughter Ziva Dhoni) and it just looks so cute. Therefore, he is my favourite cricketer as he is a family man.”

MS Dhoni is one of the most popular Indian cricketers at the moment. He has a big fan-base. And why it wouldn't be like that? He is the only international captain to have led his country to win in all the ICC events- Champions Trophy, World Cup and WT20.

The Ranchi lad has also led Chennai Super Kings to victories in IPL and Champions League T20. The veteran Indian cricketer still remains a key part of the Indian team.

News Cricket

MS Dhoni is better than Virat Kohli in pressure situations

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 4:29 PM IST


Indian skipper is a terrific leader, but India need the services of someone like MS Dhoni to handle pressure situations, according to Shane Warne.

Dhoni's absence was felt during the fourth ODI in Mohali, where India failed to defend a total of 358 runs.

Talking to ANI, Warne said it is easy to lead a side when things are going your way, but one needs the presence of experienced players like Dhoni in crunch moments.

"Virat Kohli is a terrific leader but many a time we can have experience of MS Dhoni to help Virat when pressure is on. It's easy to captain a side when things are going well but when it's tough you need experience like you saw in MS Dhoni," the former Australian cricketer said.

He slammed the critics of the former Indian skipper."MS Dhoni is a great player. He can bat anywhere whatever the team needs. He is adaptable and anyone criticising him has no idea what they are talking about. India need him in the World Cup. They need his experience and leadership skills on the field to help Virat Kohli as well," he said.

News Cricket

Usman Khawaja achieves new ODI milestone against India

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 4:19 PM IST


Australian opener Usman Khawaja has been in tremendous form in the ongoing ODI series against India. He is the main reason behind Australia's emphatic comeback after losing the first two ODIs. The left hand batsman is the leading run-scorer in the series with two tons to his name.

He surpassed AB de Villiers' record of scoring most runs against Men in Blue in a five-match ODI series. Khawaja accumulated 383 runs while De Villiers scored 358 runs in 2015. His tally is also the highest against India in a bilateral five-match ODI series across the globe.

Khawaja went past Kane Williamson, who scored 361 runs in 2014.

Earlier, Australia captain Aaron Finch won the toss and decided to bat first in fifth and deciding one-day international against India.

"Looks like a pretty dry wicket, hopefully we can post a big score and defend it," Finch said.

Australia made two changes, with Shaun Marsh replaced by Marcus Stoinis and Nathan Lyon coming back into the team to replace Jason Behrendorff.

India also made two changes, with K.L. Rahul and Yuzvendra Chahal making way for Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja.

India captain Virat Kohli said he would have batted first if he had won the toss.

"Hopefully it doesn't break down so much. Hopefully there's dew later," Kohli said. "This is a knockout game for us. Everyone is pumped up."

India won the first two ODIs in Hyderabad and Nagpur but Australia tied the series with successive wins in Ranchi and Mohali.


India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (captain), Vijay Shankar, Kedar Jadhav, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah.

Australia: Aaron Finch (captain), Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey, Jhye Richardson, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa.

News Cricket

Surprising! Umesh Yadav opens batting for Vidarbha

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 3:33 PM IST


Indian speedster, Umesh Yadav is known for his bowling prowess but he was surprisingly promoted to open the batting for the two-time defending champions of Ranji Trophy, Vidarbha against Karnataka in the Super League of the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy.

Umesh Yadav started off with a bang and smacked a four but he was brought down to earth the very next delivery as he lost his wicket. He could score merely fours runs and this fancy experiment by Vidarbha failed miserably. This was the first time when Umesh batted in the top five in his cricket career.

Umesh Yadav was overlooked from India's squad for the five-match ODI series against Australia. It would be interesting to see whether he gets selected for the ICC showpiece event or not. Umesh Yadav didn't do too well in India's historic Test series win in Australia as well. And his stocks are on the down when it comes to the highest level.

News Cricket

Whatever PCB is saying, it is not in our control, says Bharat Arun on complaint over Army Caps

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 2:05 PM IST


Bharat Arun, bowling coach of India, has defended Team India for wearing camouflage caps during the third ODI between India and Australia in Ranchi. According to him, players wanted to express solidarity with the Indian soldiers and complaint of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is beyond their control.

“We did what we really felt to show solidarity for the country. BCCI got permission for it. Whatever PCB is saying, it is not in our control,” Arun told reporters on the eve of fifth ODI between India and Australia.

Despite ICC's clarification that the BCCI had sought permission from it to wear the caps, the governing body of Pakistan cricket wrote to the International Cricket Council (ICC) that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was politicizing the game of cricket and should be penalized for their act.

"The BCCI sought permission from the ICC to wear the caps as part of a fundraising drive and in memory of fallen soldiers who have died, which was granted," ICC spokeswoman Claire Furlong had told The Associated Press in an e-mail on Monday.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani had said he has "strongly taken up the matter with the ICC."

"There's absolutely no misunderstanding in the ICC about our position," Mani said late Sunday in Karachi. "We believe that cricket and sports should not be used for politics and we have said this very clearly. Their (India) credibility in the cricketing world has gone down very badly."