Mohammed Shami hosted members of Team India for dinner at his residence in Delhi ahead of the fifth and final ODI against Australia at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Wednesday. The Indian pacer took to Twitter to thank teammates for making his evening special with their presence.
He also posted a picture with some of the players. In the photograph posted by him, he can be seen standing with Rishabh Pant, Kedar Jadhav and family members.
Earlier, MS Dhoni and Sakshi had also hosted Men in Blue for dinner at their home in Ranchi ahead of the third ODI against Australia. Yuzvendra Chahal had thanked the hosts for their hospitality.
India pacer Siddarth Kaul had hosted the whole team at his residence in Zirakpur ahead of the fourth ODI in Mohali. A day before hosting his teammates, Kaul had tied the knot with Harsimran Kaur.
Hardik Pandya has joined the pre-season camp of three-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians. He was ruled out of the limited overs series against Australia due to lower back stiffness. Hardik did "strength endurance training" on the first day of the camp.
Hardik had returned to action during the limited-overs series in New Zealand after his ban was lifted by the BCCI. The Indian all-rounder was lambasted for his sexist comments on Koffee With Karan.
He was thinking of playing some matches of the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy but his team Baroda didn't qualify for the Super League.
Apart from Hardik and his brother, Jayant Yadav, Rahul Chahar, Barinder Sran, Rasikh Salam, Mitchell McClenaghan and Ishan Kishan have also joined the camp.
Mumbai Indians will open their IPL campaign against Delhi Capitals on March 24 at the Wankhede stadium.
A record-tying victory in the last 16 and a quarterfinal lineup lacking at least three of Europe's top teams suggests this just might be Manchester City's year in the Champions League.
No matter how much Pep Guardiola protests to the contrary.
With a 7-0 thrashing of Schalke on Tuesday that completed a 10-2 aggregate victory, City eased into the last eight of European soccer's most prestigious competition for the third time in four seasons and confirmed its status as one of the favorites — whatever Guardiola might be saying in public.
Even if history is not on their side — Guardiola recently called City a "teenage" side that is "still not ready to fight for the latter stages" — the form of his players certainly is.
Make that 61 goals in 18 games in 2019, with only eight conceded. Perhaps more extraordinarily, it was the seventh time that City have scored six or more goals in a game this season.
"This club, the best success in the history (in the Champions League) is a semifinal, compared to Real Madrid with 13 (titles). Or Barcelona, Liverpool, Juventus, who have how many? Six, seven, eight?" Guardiola said. "It is why when the people say, 'You have to win, you have to win,' when you are out in the quarterfinals it is a disaster. It is not fair."
But City and Guardiola, the man brought in at huge expense so the Abu Dhabi-backed club can finally conquer Europe, are running out of excuses.
City have arguably its deepest and most talented squad ever. Paris Saint-Germain and titleholder Real Madrid are already out. One of Bayern Munich and Liverpool will be eliminated. Barcelona still has it all to do against Lyon on Wednesday, with the teams locked at 0-0 after the first leg.
There is no denying it has opened up for City.
Certainly Schalke was in no shape to stop Guardiola's side.
This season's round of 16 has featured some memorable comebacks so far — notably from Ajax and Manchester United last week — but Schalke's chances of overturning a 3-2 first-leg deficit virtually disappeared when Sergio Aguero chipped home a 35th-minute penalty to make it 1-0 in the second leg at Etihad Stadium.
Aguero doubled the lead three minutes later after running onto Raheem Sterling's deft backheel, Leroy Sane stroked in another goal before halftime, before Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus added second-half goals for City against the demoralized visitors from Germany.
The win equaled the 7-0s recorded by Bayern Munich against Basel (2012) and Shakhtar Donetsk (2015). The latter was achieved when Guardiola was coach at Bayern.
"We fell apart. The look of tension is the worst since I have been here," said Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco, who is fighting for his job with his team just four points above the relegation zone in the Bundesliga.
With two months left of the season, a quadruple of trophies remains on for City, which has already won the English League Cup, is top of the Premier League, and plays second-tier Swansea in the FA Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.
Winning the Champions League for the first time will be the toughest task, especially with Juventus still involved. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick on Tuesday, including a late penalty, as Juventus beat Atletico Madrid 3-0 and advanced 3-2 on aggregate.
Manchester United, Tottenham, Porto and Ajax are the other teams to qualify for the quarterfinals, the draw for which takes place on Friday.
"Madrid is out but still Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo," Guardiola said. "He goes there to win the Champions League with Juventus. He has all the pressure on his shoulders, he scores three against Atletico Madrid and goes through — that is the type of guy you face (in) the next stages. We are going to try. If it doesn't work, I am sorry but I assure you next season we are going to try."
Cristiano Ronaldo made a mockery of Atletico Madrid's vaunted defense, and then mocked its coach as well.
Ronaldo scored a hat trick against the normally resilient Spanish side to send Juventus into the Champions League quarterfinals with a 3-0 win on Tuesday as the Bianconeri fought back from a two-goal first-leg defeat.
The former Real Madrid player outjumped Atletico's defenders to score a header in each half and then converted a late penalty for his first hat trick since joining Juventus in the summer — and just when they needed it most.
He celebrated at the final whistle by mimicking the obscene gesture Atletico coach Diego Simeone made after the Spanish side's second goal in the first leg — having the final say against a rival he so often defeated as a Real Madrid player.
Simeone was fined 20,000 euros ($22,500) by UEFA for improper conduct and it remains to be seen whether Ronaldo will face a similar punishment.
It was Ronaldo's eighth hat trick in the Champions League, moving him level with Barcelona's Lionel Messi and demonstrating why Juventus paid Real Madrid 112 million euros (then $131.5 million) for the Portugal star who has dominated the competition in recent years.
It was the first time Juventus came back from a two-goal defeat in the first leg.
"Maybe that's why Juventus signed me," Ronaldo said. "To help it do things that it had never done before. This result is a great push for the future, we're strong and we showed it."
The 34-year-old Ronaldo has won the Champions League five times, including in four of the last five seasons. Without him, Madrid was eliminated by Ajax last week.
However, Ronaldo had only scored one goal in the competition for Juventus until Tuesday.
"It would have been strange if Ronaldo's Champions League season ended with only one goal," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "Juventus signed him for nights like this and tonight he made the difference."
For Atletico, it was more heartache in the competition in the year the final is being held in its Wanda Metropolitano Stadium — and more pain caused by Ronaldo. While at Madrid, Ronaldo helped beat Atletico in two Champions League finals.
He has also now scored 25 goals against Atletico in his career.
"He's the best in the world," Simeone said. "We suffered, as happened to them in the first leg. They're through and that's right. They deserved it ... Maybe I didn't manage to transmit to my players what we needed."
It was a tough day for seeded players at the BNP Paribas Open, with Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, the world's top-ranked players, ushered out in the desert.
Djokovic and Philipp Kohlschreiber resumed their third-round match that was suspended because of rain a night earlier. The unseeded German knocked off the five-time tournament champion 6-4, 6-4.
Osaka lost to Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-1 in just over an hour in the fourth round of the first title defense of her career.
"She sort of came out there really aggressive," Osaka said. "She sort of knew what she wanted to do more than me."
Since Osaka won the title at Indian Wells a year ago, she won the U.S and Australian opens. Her triumph in Australia made her No. 1 for the first time, but her time at the top has been rocky. Osaka fired her coach and lost in the first round in Dubai before taking on a new coach, Jermaine Jenkins, who came on court during the match.
"It's always a bit tricky whenever you change someone in the team, but I feel like for a first tournament we did really well," Osaka said. "We communicate well, so I think that's a really big plus. I don't think it's going to be difficult."
On Tuesday, the 23rd-ranked Bencic served and returned better.
The bottom half of the men's draw still includes No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal and fourth-seeded Roger Federer, both of whom breezed to victory.
Djokovic owned an 8-1 record against Kohlschreiber, who beat a No. 1 player for the first time.
Kohlschreiber liked the weather — sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s — much better than the cold and rain on Tuesday night.
"I liked my chances more at night against Kohlschreiber, but it wasn't to be last night," Djokovic said. "Completely different conditions today. I congratulate him for playing tactically really well and getting me out of my comfort zone. He deserved to win."
The 35-year-old German started thinking he had a chance early in the first set when he survived a handful of break points on his serve.
"I would say after 3-all in the first set I felt like getting closer to the set, holding my service games, which is not easy against Novak, because he's such a great returner," Kohlschreiber said. "I know from that point on it's gonna be a very interesting match."
Djokovic was just 1-for-5 on break-point opportunities. Kohlschreiber converted three of his four chances.
Next up for Kohlschreiber is Gael Monfils, who owns a 13-2 record against the German.
Djokovic remains alive in doubles with partner Fabio Fognini. Djokovic returned about an hour after his loss for their match.
"When I hit a good return, I was wondering why this didn't happen in singles," he said.
Also ousted were No. 6 Kei Nishikori, No. 10 Marin Cilic and No. 14 Daniil Medvedev.
Nadal eased by 25th-seeded Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-1, while Federer defeated Swiss countryman Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 6-4.
In women's fourth-round matches, No. 2 Simona Halep lost to Marketa Vondrousova 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 and No. 7 Kiki Bertens was beaten by 20th-seeded Garbine Muguruza 5-7, 6-1, 6-4.
Venus Williams reached the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Mona Barthel.
"I haven't played that much, so I wanted to make it count," said Williams, who expects to play about 12 tournaments this year. "I need to do what I want, and what I want is to play the tournaments I want to play."
Bianca Andreescu, an 18-year-old Canadian, beat 18th-seeded Wang Qiang 7-5, 6-2.
Shane Warne has slammed critics of MS Dhoni. He said anyone criticizing MS Dhoni has absolutely no idea what they are talking about. Warne believes Dhoni is a "must-have" player and he can guide his side through a tough situation.
"When things are tough, you need experienced guys in your side like MS Dhoni. For me, MS Dhoni is a great player and a must-have player in your side," Warne told ANI here on Tuesday.
"Anyone criticizing MS Dhoni has absolutely no idea what they are talking about," Warne added.
When asked about the World Cup favorites, he said: "I think India and England must go in the favourites because of the cricket they have played over the last six to 12 months but I think Australia is starting to develop that belief where they can win from anywhere again."
Afghanistan have added two uncapped bowlers in its squad for the one-off test against Ireland starting on Friday.
Left-arm spinner Zahir Khan passed a fitness test and medium-fast bowler Sayed Shirzad was called up as another option.
"Zahir Khan and Sayed Shirzad have very good bowling records in first-class cricket and have played in the Intercontinental Cup," chief selector Dawlat Ahmadzai said in a statement on Tuesday.
Zahir has 34 wickets in seven first-class matches at an average of 13.14.
Shirzad 49 wickets at an average of 25.38.
Afghanistan whitewashed Ireland 3-0 in the Twenty20 series, but Ireland twice came from behind to level the ODI series 2-2.
It will be second test for both teams since being awarded test status in 2017.
Last year, Afghanistan made its test debut against India, and Ireland hosted Pakistan in its debut test.
Afghanistan: Asghar Afghan (captain), Mohammad Shahzad, Ihsanullah Janat, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Nasir Jamal, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Ikram Alikhail, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Wafadar Momand, Yamin Ahmadzai, Sharafudin Ashraf, Waqar Salamkhail, Zahir Khan, Sayed Shirzad.
With an average of 81.75, Indian wicket-keeper batsman, MS Dhoni has regained his old touch in 2019. He was adjudged Man-of-the-Series in India's historical bilateral ODI series triumph over Australia, earlier, this year, where he scored three half-centuries in as many games. Dhoni is one of the most integral parts of team India. He brings a wealth of experience with him and is often quite helpful to regular Indian skipper, Virat Kohli.
"Juggle his batting position based on the situation. Dhoni's hitting form is very crucial, if India want to go all the way in the World Cup. His place in the side is unchallenged. He doesn't get out easily and there is no question about his wicketkeeping skills. He has played a pivotal role in the rise of two wrist spinners (Yadav and Chahal). India need Dhoni's calmness in the World Cup," Sanjay Manjrekar was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
MS Dhoni has been rested from India's squad for last two games against Australia. India and Australia will lock horns in Delhi in series-decider on March 13.
On the one hand, the International Cricket Council (ICC) claims that Test cricket has seen a record number of spectators in the past year. Yet on the other hand, closer to home, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), in its wisdom, has decided not to reward an outstanding Test cricketer.
Even as talk about Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, catching up fast on Sachin Tendulkar’s records is doing the rounds, what is being missed and raised only as if on a soon-to-be-forgotten epitaph is the mention of Cheteshwar Pujara staying on a central contract with a grading of A instead of being promoted to A+. It is interesting that while one cricketer is being hailed and rightly so, Pujara’s efforts are being placed in the same category as Rishabh Pant who has just made the grade.
At one point, mid-way through last year, Ravi Shastri, Indian coach, and Kohli, India’s captain, was staring down the barrel, as England capitalized on pivotal moments to hand India a stunning defeat even though India were widely tipped for Test series success on English shores. Even as India’s think tank were facing the possibility of an intense scrutiny, one man was silently resurrecting his own hopes and fortunes as well as India’s.
It would not be unfair to say that Cheteshwar Pujara’s century in Southampton was a warm up and a premonition of what could be expected of the sublime, understated, highly unrated cricketer. Bracketed in the Test cricket category, Pujara managed to turn around a bleak streak into a blitzkrieg down under, scoring 521 runs and three Test centuries as India pulled off their first overseas Test series win in over seventy years. At a time when it was widely expected that Virat Kohli would set the stage alight, Pujara proved first to be an anchor (batting for over 1250 balls for the series and surpassing Rahul Dravid) and then as the matchwinner that would repeatedly take India into a winning position.
In that scenario, it seems very unappreciative to keep Pujara stagnant at an A grade level instead of incentivizing performances, particularly in the Test cricket context, and elevating the player to the A plus grade. Instead he now shares the stage with Shikar Dhawan who has been downgraded from A plus to A and with Rishabh Pant who, with no disrespect to his own performances, is still a novice amongst veterans in the A grade category.
What is even more bizarre is that Rohit Sharma finds himself continuing on in the A plus grade alongside Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah although it has been said for sometime now that Rohit has been a hugely inconsistent, irregular player in India’s Test line up who has been accorded the long rope at a length. In that light, it seems rather demotivating that a cricketer who would take India to summits previously unscaled should have his status in a status quo situation while he watches young one rise up the ranks and some others being continually favoured for reasons best left to those in power. Furthermore, there is every bit the danger that every cricketer who is slotted as a Test cricket specialist feel disenchanted by the prospect, turning to more lucrative but less fulfilling formats. This is perhaps the loudest signal echoing from the powerful cricket board for over a decade, giving precedence to commercial success of the Indian Premier League over upholding the pristine integrity of Test cricket and the players who feature in it.
Ambati Rayudu's failures in the first three ODIs resulted in his axing from the side in fourth ODI against Australia in Mohali. In the fourth game, India demoted their skipper, Virat Kohli to no.4, with KL Rahul batting at no.3. But, KL Rahul failed to impress and didn't have the right intent to strike gold in what was a big opportunity for him.
Former Indian cricketer, Sanjay Manjrekar has suggested the player that he thinks should get a go-ahead at no.4 for world's no.2 ranked ODI side.
“Vijay Shankar is my number 4 for his ability to hit sixes as well as rotate the strike. Play him as a batsman. As a bowler, he’s worth only three-odd bonus overs, not seven or the full quota of 10,” the cricketer-turned-commentator was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
Vijay Shankar has been impressive in whatever opportunities he has got so far in the limited-overs format. The fact that he can send down a few overs as well, makes him a good option for the team.
When asked about Rayudu's case for the same role, Manjrekar said: “After his 90 against New Zealand in Wellington, I was sure he had cemented his spot. But three low scores and the rise of Vijay Shankar thereafter have put his place in question.”
Sometimes it is hard to see past the fact that some of the accusations being made appear more like projections rather than reasonable reactions. The recent statement by Ehsan Mani, of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), about the Pakistan response to the Indian team fielding in Ranchi with the camouflage cap is one such case.
Pakistan have reasons to be worried. Political connotations, terrorism fears and a bleak financial cauldron have made them insecure over the past decade. The recent Pulwama attack on India’s army personnel did not help the Pakistan’s cause to bring full-fledged cricket back home for the simple reason of the cross border infiltration that has alienated India despite the earlier stance of cricket and politics not mixing.
Over the past few years, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has tried desperately and in vain to hold the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) accountable for their loss of face and alienation of cricket on their home turf following the 26/11 attacks in 2008 that put paid to any bilateral resumption of cricket between the two warring neighbours. Even trying to sue the BCCI failed to cut it for the PCB recently.
With last month’s terror attack that cost more than forty military lives, the BCCI was forced to put forth a strong response, considering the clout cricket enjoys amongst the masses, not to mention the revenue generated particularly when a bilateral series between the two cricket playing nations is on. Under pressure to boycott Pakistan even in the forthcoming ICC Cricket World Cup, the BCCI released a statement purportedly pushing the onus on the ICC to take action towards suspending the rights of boards and nations ‘from where terror emanates’ in full knowledge that the ICC has had a history of nonchalant non-interference in political matters.
Irked perhaps by the BCCI’s overt, although lip service, gesture, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) appears to have shot itself in the foot, on the one hand, calling for the no-politicization of cricket but doing it themselves by suggesting that the Indian cricket team’s decision to don camouflage caps during the third one day international in Ranchi was politically motivated and as a manner of non-requisitioned protest that the ICC should make note of when in fact, the decision was taken reportedly long before the Pulwama attacks at the behest of Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni who has the honorary title of lieutenant colonel with the Indian army.
Even as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has promised to send an even stronger letter to take cognizance of India’s gesture on the field, it appears nothing more than another desperate attempt on the part of the PCB looking for cricket to return to the region but not finding positive response even recently from the Australian cricket team, and a response in fear of further alienation in light of India’s strong revocation of mutual, cultural gestures in the aftermath of the Pulwama attacks.
Men in Blue were defeated by Australia despite scoring 358 runs in the fourth ODI in Mohali. While some have lambasted Indian bowlers for not defending such a mammoth total, other have blasted Virat Kohli for his ordinary captaincy in the absence of MS Dhoni, who is famous for his suggestions. Former Sri Lankan spinner, Muttiah Muralitharan, however, has defend the Indian team saying fans need to be more patient.
Speaking to IANS, he said it is impossible to have 11 match winners in the team and it is important to experiment before of the World Cup in England and Wales.
"You have to be patient with the team. The Indian team has been doing really well and are trying to experiment with the World Cup round the corner. You will get failures on the road to success as there cannot be 11 Virat Kohlis in the team. Not everyone can be a match-winner," he said.
"You will win some games and you will also lose a few. Otherwise, every team must be filled with 11 Kohlis or Sachin Tendulkars or Don Bradmans, but that cannot happen," Muralitharan added.
He praised Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal for their exceptional bowling display.
"I think they are doing a good job. Both are quality performers and the fact that they have done well in all conditions bears testimony to their talent. Also, why do you think someone of the calibre of R Ashwin is not being able to squeeze into the limited-overs team? It is because these two have done well. Just one bad game (in Mohali) can't be enough to criticise them. We are not dealing with robots here," he said.
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson is doubtful for the third Test match against Bangladesh after suffering shoulder injury while fielding during the Bangladesh's first innings. The team management has decided to be more patient with Kane considering his importance and the upcoming World Cup in England.
Sunrisers Hyderabad are also monitoring his situation as he is one of their star players and has been a consistent performer in the last few editions. The MRI scans have confirmed that he suffered a grade one tear to the pectoral minor muscle in his left shoulder.
Even coach Gary Stead stated that they would be cautious with their skipper in the coming days.
“No player wants to give up their spot in the Test team. But I think it’s safe to say that we will probably err on the conservative side, and if there’s any chance of risk then we’re likely to pull him from that game.”
He is hopeful of Kane’s quick recovery.
“There’s obviously irritation and a wee bit of bleeding, it’s not a major injury,” Stead said.
“We’re hopeful that he will recover quickly, and the thing for us is to make sure he doesn’t aggravate it any more. He will come to Christchurch and we will make an assessment there on whether he plays.”
He might have to delay his departure for the IPL. “If things progress as we hope, then still going to the IPL shouldn’t be a problem to him,” said Stead.
“But he’s also aware that if he’s not quite 100 per cent, then we will potentially hold him back as well and make sure that he is right before he goes on that plane.”
Rishabh Pant is being slammed for his ordinary wicket-keeping in the fourth ODI between India and Australia in Mohali. He spilled a couple of easy chances which proved costly for Men in Blue. Pant was booed by the Mohali crowd who kept on chanting MS Dhoni’s name to remind the former of his costly goof-ups.
Meanwhile, Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty has come out in Pant's support and even gave a fitting reply to his critics. "He’s just 21 and represents India in all 3 formats. Let’s introspect and see what we were doing at that age. Give him a chance. @RishabPant777 u are pure talent keep the focus, you got this!" Shetty tweeted on Monday night.
He is backing Pant to come good in all formats of the game. The veteran star wants critics to give one more chance to young wicketkeeper to prove his talent.
Even Shikhar Dhawan has spoken in favor of Rishabh Pant.
"Rishabh is a young bloke and like any other youngster, you have to give time to him. Rishabh is still finding his feet. You cannot compare Pant to Dhoni [bhai], given the experience he has having played over the years," Dhawan told the media in Mohali.
He added: "Of course, had the stumping chance been taken, it could have turned the game. Having said that, the game slipped away from our hands quite quickly after that. The dew also played its part in the game. But that's what it is."
The Indian Premier League is about to start and the publicity of the tournament is in full swing with new advertisements hitting the television screen every now and then. Some of the ads have shown cricketers issuing a direct challenge to their rival players.
The motto of this year's edition is “Name chodo, game hai na, chalo name banate hai". In one of the newest ads, Virat Kohli is seen interacting with young kids, who are passionate about cricket. In this advertisement, most children try to become well known cricketers while one of them wants to go in with his own name, leading to taunts from other kids.
This is when Virat Kohli joins the group and praises that guy for trying to make his own name instead of emulating well renowned cricketers.
Virat Kohli will captain Royal Challengers Bangalore in the upcoming season of the league. Meanwhile, Men in Blue will take on Australia in the fifth and final ODI of the series, which is their last match before the World Cup. With series tied at 2-2, Virat Kohli and Co will be looking to end the campaign on a winning note.
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