News Cricket

Afghanistan players upset with new World Cup captain appointment

AP Updated: 6 April, 2019, 10:05 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Gulbadin Naib's appointment as Afghanistan's captain for the cricket World Cup has not gone down well with the team's two senior players.

Rashid Khan, who was named Twenty20 skipper, and all-rounder Mohammad Nabi have criticized the selection committee's decision to remove Asghar Afghan from the captaincy in all the three formats.

"Being a senior member of the side (and) having seen the rise of Afghanistan cricket, I don't think it's the right time to change the captain before the WC," Nabi wrote on Twitter .

Nabi also felt the team gelled under the leadership of Afghan, who he thought was the right man to lead Afghanistan in the World Cup in England and Wales beginning in May.

Rashid, the world's top-ranked Twenty20 leg-spinner, also shared his thoughts on Twitter, writing that he disagrees "with the decision as it is irresponsible (and shows) bias" and that Afghan's "captaincy is highly instrumental for team success."

"With just months to go for such a mega event like World Cup, changing the captain will cause uncertainty and also team morale will be affected," he wrote.

Afghan was stripped of the test captaincy after leading Afghanistan to a historic victory over Ireland in only its second test match last month. Middle-order batsman Rahmat Shah has replaced Afghan as the test captain.

Chief selector Dawalt Ahmadzai defended his decision to appoint Naib as captain for the World Cup, saying it was for the better future of the team.

"Asghar Afghan, who captained team Afghanistan for a period of around four years, achieved a lot and made the country proud, and I hope Gulbadin Naib will be able to continue his legacy at the helm of the team's affairs," Ahmadzai said in a statement.

Afghanistan will open its World Cup campaign against defending world champion Australia on June 1 in Bristol.

A 23-member Afghanistan squad left on Friday for South Africa, where it will play six practice matches during the training camp.

Ahmadzai said the team will return to Kabul, at which point a 15-member World Cup squad will be announced.

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News Cricket

Tom Moody names his favorites for World Cup, leaves out his own country

Harshit Anand Updated: 5 April, 2019, 5:36 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Sunrisers Hyderabad's coach, Tom Moody is a happy man at the moment. His team Hyderabad are currently the table toppers in IPL's points table. They are absolutely on fire. At present, IPL is capturing everyone's attention but still, people are eagerly awaiting the inception of the Cricket World Cup that will take place in England and Wales from May 30.

SRH coach Tom Moody named India and England as favorites for the ICC showpiece event. "The standouts are India and England. They are absolute certainties to be in the top four. What is exciting about this World Cup is a number of sides can easily find themselves in third and fourth positions. Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and West Indies -- I don’t think people thought of them 12 months ago. Windies are a serious threat, particularly if someone like Sunil Narine comes back into the equation," Tom Moody was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.

"The other exciting thing is the interest and intrigue around what Afghanistan are going to do. I don’t care who you are in this tournament, you are going to be on watch when you play Afghanistan," added the 53 years old.

Feature Tennis

Prajnesh perched on a career Best 81 in ATP rankings

Partab Ramchand Updated: 5 April, 2019, 5:33 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

He is not exactly making waves around the ATP circuit. He has not risen sensationally in the rankings and has not notched up a victory over a top ten player. But in his own way Prajnesh Gunneswaran is making a mark and is currently perched on a career best 81 in the rankings. And given the fact that he almost gave up playing the game and was out of the circuit for four years due to knee injuries it has been a gallant effort by the 29-year-old Chennai born left hander to be carrying India’s flag in various tournaments all over the world including Grand Slams and Masters 1000 competitions.

In a way this is due to his balanced temperament. Fully aware of the intense competition Prajnesh gave himself realistic goals – playing a Grand Slam and getting into the top 100 in 2019. Now that he has achieved both – he lost in the first round of the Australian Open in January to 29th ranked Frances Tiafoe of the US – he is slowly climbing the ladder and gives every indication that he can improve his ranking further.

Prajnesh might not have beaten a top ten player but he has not been without significant wins over players ranked above him. At the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells last month he got the better of world No 63 Benoit Paire in the first round and upset world No 18 Nikoloz Basilashvili in the next round before his unexpectedly successful run was halted in the third round by the big serving Croat Ivo Karlovic. As a result he climbed from 97 to 82 in the rankings – not bad for someone ranked 243 at the start of 2018. .

Following this impressive showing Prajnesh made it to the main draw of the Miami Masters but could not replicate his stunning run at Indian Wells bowling out in the first round to world No 61 Juama Munar of Spain. 7-6, 6-4. Playing his second straight Masters 1000 tournament Prajnesh performed creditably before going down to a player ranked more than 20 places above him. This pushed him one more place up in the rankings.

The wins over Paire and Basilashvili were not Prajnesh’s first victories over players ranked far above him. In June last year at Stuttgart he stunned world No 23 Denis Shapovalov of Canada to serve notice of his rising stature. And of late Prajnesh has brought to his game a stronger and more effective backha