Feature Cricket

Ambati Rayudu: Privilege after Provocation?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 3 September, 2019, 4:45 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Ambati Rayudu might have been on the plane ride to the West Indies. Instead he has been looking for a way to make amends after the fiasco over the ICC Cricket World Cup selection. Even if his angst was justified, does it merit an entry back into the sport on his whim?

There is little doubt that Ambati Rayudu is talented. There is, also, even less doubt about his tenacity. Even if the criticism against him has persisted about his lack of consistency and underachieving when provided an opportunity, the wicketkeeper-batsman could have well had a few more chances if only he had not been quite as brash.

There were issues over selection matters. MSK Prasad struggled to justify some of the players’ inclusion, particularly that of Vijay Shankar, who was roped in as no.4 in India’s batting line for the limited overs World Cup, over the possible selection of Rayudu. The thirty-three year old was fueled with angst, taking to social media to vent openly about the chief selector’s comments about Shankar being a three dimensional player.

Since that public fiasco, one would have assumed it was water under the bridge and the matter closed for all practical purposes with Ambati Rayudu having announced his retirement from cricket. Maybe it was MSK Prasad’s feeble response to the media, claiming to have enjoyed Rayudu’s joke/jibe at him, that encouraged Rayudu to think again.

With Rayudu having had time to cool off and a change of heart, he has now decided to put himself back in contention again, asking to be selected in the letter written to the Hyderabad Cricket Association.

The only problem? Should a player who has openly vilified his non-selection and aired his grouse in a clear case of sarcasm and disrespect be allowed to step back in without consequences and particularly at a time when the focus will be on the next World Cup when fresher legs and younger minds would top the agenda?

Even if there is room for mentorship at any level of the game on the way up to team India, it hardly justifies blocking one spot on the team, even in a domestic cricket team, for a player who may or may not feature for team India in the long run.

Cricketers are well within their rights to feel aggrieved. Not all of the selection choices nor the explanations that followed were convincing. There were at least a couple of consternations about the make up of the Indian squad for the premier tournament in England.

But Rayudu’s heated reactions and subsequent retirement point to a problem, one that could end in a man- management issue. With Ravi Shastri having narrowed escape being axed as the coach – narrowly since there was no one strong enough to stand up to scrutinize the merits and demerits of the current captain-coach relationship, it would seem the last thing the team management on tour would want is another temper problem if the player is indeed picked on tour but continues to underperform as Rayudu did in the lead up to the ICC Cricket World Cup selection in April this year.

Does this send a wrong signal to other younger, potentially impressionable as well as impetuous cricketers who think they can be irreverent and brazen, particularly when it comes to donning national colours? Absolutely. Should Rayudu be made an example of? Not necessarily. But should there be some commiserate programmes in place to ensure incidents like this do not become the show pony in a side circus? Absolutely.

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Feature Cricket

India vs. South Africa: SWOT Analysis of Team South Africa

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 11 September, 2019, 10:44 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

South Africa will enter this particular series against India as the clear under dogs not only because India have the upper hand in home conditions but also, because South Africa have been undermined by their own performances in the recently concluded ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 which will have dented them and spurred them on in equal measure.

Strengths

The only consistent factor about South Africa seems to be in the fact that Faf du Plessis continues to captain the Test team. As virtually the only member of the team who has a seasoned number of years under his belt, he is the best man to lead the team from the doldrums of the World Cup into a stiff contest in the hot bed of cricket. Additionally although short on collective team experience, Faf has a few usual suspects in his line up in the form of speedster Kagiso Rabada who claims to have learnt from the debacle of the 2015 tour and is raring to go.

Weaknesses

The biggest drawback for South Africa will hurt in the fact that Faf du Plessis could use the vital experience of the prolific Hashim Amla. The opener who scored nearly 10000 runs in Test cricket from 124 Tests and scored twenty-eight Test centuries, announced his retirement from international cricket after the World Cup. In doing so, he has left a huge void at the top of the order which South Africa will find hard to fill. Amla’s temperament, versatility and ability to score runs will be sorely missed.

Opportunities

As far looking at the cup half full is concerned, the tour of India is more of an orientation rather than a litmus test. South Africa will enter the contest with their expectations measured given that they have revised their structure of hierarchy in the think tank.

South Africa could spring a surprise in the fact that there could be some pressure alleviated as a result of this change at the top of the think tank in the team director, Enoch Nkwe. It will be interesting how South Africa approach this tour with a different mind of having a team director for a coach at the top of the hierarchy.

South Africa have bolstered their team with spinners. Keshav Maharaj is expected to be supported by Dane Piedt as well as a newcomer in Senuran Muthusamy. Although the trio will have their work cut out for them against the Indians batting on homegrown pitches, a lot will rest on their ability to read, revise and improvise quickly, particularly with not a lot of experience in the batting line up.

Threats

South Africa is in danger of allowing their problems from the ICC Cricket World Cup to precipitate into the Test series. There has already been enough controversy as their experienced spearhead, Dale Steyn, who, after missing the world cup through, claimed to be fit for the tour of India while Cricket South Africa have alleged that the aging fast bowler has not quite recovered yet from the injuries. Faf had raised concerns about the workload of Rabada and a lot will rest on the youngster’s ability to sustain pressure on the unyielding sessions of what is expected to be a gritty test in favour of India’s batsmen playing on home turf.

South Africa have a few young faces, including at least a couple of players set to make their debut. Expectations will be muted given that this will be a different outfit from the one that toured and lost their last series in India. With Quinton de Kock and Faf now taking on the fair show of responsibility in the absence of the likes of Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers, it will be interesting to see how South Africa’s batting withstands the pressure of India’s spin attack as well as an in-form Jasprit Bumrah.

Feature Cricket

India vs. South Africa: SWOT Analysis of Team India

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 11 September, 2019, 10:36 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India are undoubtedly in a dominant position going into the South Africa’s tour of India. With South Africa probing to find new ground to sink their feet into after their diabolical World Cup appearance, it will be up to India to press home the advantage.

Strengths

Not only are India playing to home advantage but also, they have sufficiently warmed themselves with the two Test series in the Caribbean. Although the quality of the opposition may have a few holes punched in them, there is little doubt that the exercise after the Indian Premier League and the ICC Cricket World Cup would have been just the appetizer to whet Virat Kohli and his men for the Test cricket season ahead. It should stand India in good stead.

Although eyebrows were raised when India picked Ravindra Jadeja ahead of Ravichandran Ashwin as the team’s lead spinner in the first Test, Jadeja backed it up with results that would suggest that India are looking to hammer home the advantage of employing spin against South Africa’s relative inexperienced batting line up.

With Jasprit Bumrah bringing home the firepower with pace, India have the requisite firepower in their armoury in their lineup. With Kohli himself eager to score some heavy runs to kick off this season and eager to upstage Steve Smith at the top, it could become a battle of the minds. Not an uncommon situation for the prolific batsman.

Weaknesses

Although it would appear, on paper, that India could have an easier time against South Africa, the chinks in India’s armoury lie at the very top of the order. With KL Rahul struggling once more on the tour of the Caribbean, India’s opener’s slot could become a musical chair situation once more. Although India operated a haphazard strategy when playing Rohit Sharma home and away on Test tours, one wonders whether Rohit has inspired enough to make a contention in the Test team by making a case for the opener’s slot. Either way, the opener’s role would be a gambling slot.

Opportunities

The tour of the Caribbean emphasized once more of having a valuable, patient, dogged middle order to pull India out of perilous situations into one of power. With Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari showing appetite to keep India’s backbone steady, backing both, the temperament and their ability to score valuable runs, India are well complementing Kohli’s tenacity and belligerence with defiance down the middle.

Threats

Although India have generally played to home advantage situations, they have shown susceptibility to be thrown off their game by the opposition’s own ability to exploit the conditions. With India having an open slot as far as the opener’s slot is concerned, India are going to have to be strategic about how they go about picking their top order because they do not want to open the gate at the top of the field and allow the opposition to make inroads.

Although Rishabh Pant has shown an eager willingness to learn on the job, on a wobbly wicket, with constant comparisons drawn to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Pant could be put under pressure if the game changes in favour of the visiting team. Marshalling the young troops will be Kohli’s challenge while ramming home the advantage.

News Football

Hong Kong soccer fans loudly boo Chinese national anthem

AP Updated: 11 September, 2019, 10:32 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Thousands of Hong Kong soccer fans booed loudly and turned their backs when the Chinese national anthem was played before a World Cup qualifier match against Iran, taking the city's months of protests into the sports realm.

The crowd broke out into "Glory to Hong Kong," a song reflecting their campaign for more democratic freedoms in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

After the match started, fans chanted "Fight for freedom" and "Revolution of our Times." One person carried a blue poster that read, "Hong Kong is not China."

Hong Kong has been roiled by protests since June over an extradition bill that would have sent some residents to mainland China for trial. The government promised last week to withdraw the bill but that failed to placate the protesters, whose demands now include democratic reforms and police accountability.

Security at the Hong Kong Stadium was tight, with fans frisked to ensure they did not bring in political materials and other prohibited items. Iran, Asia's top team, had sought to move the match, citing safety concerns over the unrest, but the request was rejected by FIFA, soccer's governing body.

Stadium announcers said 14,000 spectators attended the game.

Iran beat Hong Kong 2-0.

News Cricket

Drunk David Warner admitted to ball tampering during a first class match - Alastair Cook

Staff Writer Updated: 10 September, 2019, 10:44 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former England opener Alastair Cook has disclosed that David Warner told him he once "used substances attached to the strapping on his hand to accelerate the deterioration of the ball during a first-class match". Cook has mentioned about this incident in his new book "The Autobiography”.

"David Warner, a couple of beers into his celebration, mentioned that he used substances attached to the strapping on his hand to accelerate the deterioration of the ball during a first-class match. I looked at Steve Smith who shot a glance that said: 'Ooh, you shouldn't have said that," Cook wrote in his new autobiography.

Ever since his return to international cricket, David Warner is facing flak at the hands of fans. He, however, scored 647 runs in the World Cup. The left hand batsman finished as second highest run scorer in the tournament, only one run behind Rohit Sharma.

News Cricket

I don't like to judge myself – Ravi Shastri

Staff Writer Updated: 10 September, 2019, 10:42 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Team India head coach Ravi Shastri is satisfied after reappointment of Bharat Arun and R Sridhar. He share good rapport with these two and feels that having them will help him to continuity towards achieving goals. He also said that he has gained a lot of experience over the years.

“I don’t like to be judging myself, but the fact is that I have been around for that long. I have been in the game four decades now. I was 17 when I played for Mumbai and played for India when I was 18 and I have not missed a single season either as a player because after that I became a broadcaster, then a coach and director of the team,” Shastri told Gulf News.

“So obviously having travelled and watched the game closely and having the exposure it does help. When you have that kind of experience it does help when it comes to man-management and communication skills. Experience is not bought or sold in the market. You got to put in the yards to go the distance,” he further added.

News Cricket

Steve Smith was not mocking Jack Leach during victory celebration – Justin Langer

Staff Writer Updated: 10 September, 2019, 10:39 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Australian head coach Justin Langer has defended Steve Smith stating that he was not mocking English player Jack Leach after victory in the fourth Ashes Test.

Following Australia's win, Smith was seen wiping a pair of glasses before showing stance of left-hand batsman just as the English spinner does.

"Experience tells me that when you're doing well, people will try and pick holes in you," Langer said. "I know the truth, Chris Rogers is a great mate of the squad, that's all it's about.

"People can make up what they like about it, but that's the truth. Everyone around the world has seen the great spirit the World Cup and this series has been played in."

He further added the celebrations by Aussie players at Old Trafford were in control keeping in mind the fifth Ashes Test at the oval.

"That celebration was two out of 10 to some of the ones I have seen because we knew we had to play three days later," he added.

"When you have a good day you have to celebrate it as long as you move on and get ready for the next one. We've said the whole time, I've said it since day one, we're here to win the Ashes, so whilst the other day was a great experience, we have still go some business to do.

"There is a good feeling in the group, they know there is still unfinished business and we are looking forward to this last Test match."

News Cricket

‘You should start belly Dance program to lure international cricketers’: Fans troll Fawad Chaudhry

Staff Writer Updated: 10 September, 2019, 6:03 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Ten top Sri Lanka cricketers opted out of a tour to Pakistan this month citing security concerns.

Roshan Gunathilaka, the Sri Lanka Cricket security adviser and former air force chief, briefed the players on the security situation in Pakistan, and the security arrangements made by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

The players who opted out were one-day international captain Dimuth Karunaratne, Twenty20 captain Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Suranga Lakmal, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Akila Dananjaya, and Thisara Perera.

Kusal Mendis was not considered for selection after he was injured in a collision with teammate Shehan Jayasuriya during a recent T20 match against New Zealand.

New ODI and T20 squads were selected, and were pending approval from the sports minister, SLC said on Monday.

The limited-overs tour begins on Sept. 27.

Over the past three years, Pakistan has successfully hosted Zimbabwe, the West Indies, Sri Lanka, and a World XI for limited-overs matches amid intense security.

Pakistan minister Fawad Chaudhry has stated that India has forced the Sri Lanka players to pull out of the Pakistan tour.

“Informed sports commentators told me that India threatened SL players that they'll be ousted from IPL if they don’t refuse Pak visit, this is really cheap tactic, jingoism from sports to space is something we must condemn, really cheap on the part of Indian sports authorities,” Hussain tweeted.

He was brutally trolled by cricket fanatics.

News Cricket

Good news for Rohit Sharma as selectors are considering him for opening role in Tests

Staff Writer Updated: 10 September, 2019, 4:57 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Rohit Sharma was kept out of playing XI during the Test series against West Indies. Hanuma Vihari was preferred over him and this didn't go down well with former cricketers. However, with KL Rahul's failure in the last two matches, selectors are thinking of opening with Rohit Sharma against South Africa.

In an interview with India Today, chief selector MSK Prasad spoke about Rohit Sharma's chances in Whites.

"As selection committee, we haven't met after the conclusion of the West Indies tour. We will definitely take this (Rohit as opener) point into consideration when we all meet and discuss about it," he said.

He expressed concern over Rahul's poor form in Test cricket.

"KL (Rahul) is definitely a great talent. Of course, he is going through a bit tough time in Test cricket. We are definitely concerned about his form. He needs to spend more time on the wicket and regain his touch and form," he added.

News Cricket

Watch: SRK, Dwayne Bravo nail Lungi Dance during Trinbago Knight Riders Party

Staff Writer Updated: 10 September, 2019, 4:55 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Shah Rukh Khan owned Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) have performed exceptionally well in the ongoing Caribbean Premier League. The team led by Kieron Pollard has won all three matches so far. His team's display had made Shah Rukh Khan proud and he recently partied with players on a private boat.

In one of the videos uploaded by Dwayne Bravo, he can be seen dancing with King Khan on the tunes of Lungi Dance. In his post, Bravo also spoke about the way they celebrate their wins.

"This is how we do things in after we beat ppl..we rent a boat and have a nice time Lickssss when they come Trinidad @tkriders Champion squad always fun to have our boss around @iamsrk @realorlandooctave u have the biggest song in the country bro #Champion #LandOfChampions," Bravo captioned his post.

Despite winning three matches, they are second in the points table on the basis of net-run rate. Guyana Amazon Warriors are the leaders at the moment.

Earlier, Dwayne Bravo was ruled out of the tournament due to finger injury.

News Cricket

Shami doesn't need to surrender anymore – Lawyer

Staff Writer Updated: 10 September, 2019, 4:53 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Mohammed Shami, who was told to surrender within 15 days from September 2 by the Alipore Court in Kolkata, has managed to get a stay from a higher court. According to his lawyer Salim Rahaman, the order of the court was wrong as Shami or his representative had to be summoned first before issuing any order.

"The order didn't hold much ground because while you can summon a person, you cannot issue a surrender notice. We have got a stay on the matter from a higher court and the rest of the plan of action you will get to know tomorrow," he said. Shami left for the US after completing his professional commitment against the West Indies.

Speaking to IANS, a senior Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) functionary had said he would return to India on September 12.

"Shami has gone to the US after the tour of the West Indies got over and he will be back in the country on the 12th. He has been in constant touch with his lawyer on the court matter and has also spoken to the relevant people within the board on the matter," the functionary had said.

News Cricket

Reports of a rift between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are absolute nonsense - Ravi Shastri

Staff Writer Updated: 10 September, 2019, 4:51 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Team India's head coach Ravi Shastri has once again clarified that reports of a rift between Indian skipper Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are not true.

Following India's exit from the World Cup, it was reported that all was not well in the Indian dressing room.

Shastri, who shares a close chemistry with Indian players, further added that such reports were absolute nonsense and if they were true, how would the two players perform well for the Men in Blue in the World Cup.

“Listen, I have been around the dressing room for the last five years. I have seen how the boys have played and how they have complemented the team and know their work ethics. I feel it is absolute nonsense. I have been there with them and I know the way they play. If that was the case why would Rohit get five hundreds in the World Cup? Why would Virat do what he is doing? How would they have partnerships together,” Shastri said in an interview.

According to him, there would always be a difference in opinions when there are 15 members in a squad. “In a side when you have 15 players there will always be times when there will be opinions that will be different. That is what is needed. I don’t want everyone toeing the same line. You have got to have discussions and someone might then think of a fresh strategy which has to be encouraged. So you have to give the guys the opportunity to express themselves and then decide what is best."

News Cricket

Steve Smith increases lead to 34 points over Virat Kohli in ICC Test Rankings for Batsmen

Staff Writer Updated: 10 September, 2019, 4:48 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Steve Smith, the former Aussie skipper, has consolidated his position at the top of the ICC Test Rankings for batsmen. He scored 211 and 82 in the two innings of the fourth Ashes Test match. Smith is now 34 points ahead of Indian skipper Virat Kohli.

Smith has scored 144, 142, 92, 211 and 82 in his five innings in the series so far. He missed one innings in the second test and the entire third test — which England won by one wicket — because of a concussion.

The 30-year-old Smith has been the single biggest difference between the two teams throughout the series.

Returning to test action following a 12-month ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March, 2018, Smith has — so far — scored 671 runs in this Ashes series at an average of 134.20. It has lifted his career test average to 64.81 and has been the kind of performance that has drawn comparisons with Don Bradman, who was widely regarded as cricket's greatest batsman.

Smith was the No. 1-ranked batter in test cricket before he was suspended last year by Cricket Australia.

News Cricket

India threatened to ban Sri Lankan players from IPL if they didn’t pull out of Pak tour – Pakistan Minister

Staff Writer Updated: 10 September, 2019, 2:48 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Ten top Sri Lanka cricketers opted out of a tour to Pakistan this month citing security concerns.

Players picked in a preliminary squad were summoned for a discussion before the final squad was picked. They were given a choice about whether or not to go Pakistan, which major teams have generally avoided touring since the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus which killed eight people and injured several players.

Roshan Gunathilaka, the Sri Lanka Cricket security adviser and former air force chief, briefed the players on the security situation in Pakistan, and the security arrangements made by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

The players who opted out were one-day international captain Dimuth Karunaratne, Twenty20 captain Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Suranga Lakmal, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Akila Dananjaya, and Thisara Perera.

Meanwhile, Pakistan minister Fawad Chaudhry has stated that India has forced the Sri Lanka players to pull out of the Pakistan tour.

“Informed sports commentators told me that India threatened SL players that they'll be ousted from IPL if they don’t refuse Pak visit, this is really cheap tactic, jingoism from sports to space is something we must condemn, really cheap on the part of Indian sports authorities,” Hussain tweeted.

News Cricket

Head coach Shastri to raise India’s Yo-Yo test passing score to 17 ahead of South Africa series

Staff Writer Updated: 10 September, 2019, 12:56 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Fitness levels are taken seriously in Team India at the moment. Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri have clearly stated the need of having fit players in the squad.

Ravi Shastri, who was recently reappointed as India's head coach, has decided to raise the fitness bar. Earlier, the score of 16.1 in the yo-yo test was enough to be eligible to play for the country.

However, Shastri has decided to increase it up to 17. According to a report in Bangalore Times, Shastri will speak to Virat Kohli and other players to discuss the same.

A source was quoted as saying by Bangalore Mirror: “Fitness is integral to participation at the international level and the minimum qualification will be 17.”

News Cricket

Ex-England captains Strauss, Boycott receive knighthoods

AP Updated: 10 September, 2019, 10:12 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former England cricket captains Andrew Strauss and Geoffrey Boycott have been given knighthoods in former Prime Minister Theresa May's resignation honors list.

The two opening batsmen were the only sporting names in a list largely consisting of political figures, a nod to May's lifelong love of cricket and her admiration for Boycott in particular.

Strauss played 100 tests for England from 2004-12, scoring more than 7,000 runs at an average of 40.91, and captaining the team to two Ashes series wins. Less than three years after retiring, he became the most powerful official in the English game as managing director. He was the unseen administrative architect behind England's first World Cup triumph in July.

Boycott's 108 tests from 1964-82 brought him 8,114 runs at 47.72 — the first man to reach 8,000 in tests for England. He captained England in four tests in 1978, deputizing for the injured Mike Brearley.

At a news conference last November, May was asked in the form of a cricketing analogy about the number of ministerial resignations, or "wickets," over her handling of Brexit.

"One of my cricket heroes was always Geoffrey Boycott, and what do you know about Geoffrey Boycott?" she asked. "He stuck to it, and he got the runs in the end."

Boycott was forced to apologize in 2017 after joking that would have to "black up" to be considered for a knighthood, pointing out the honor had been bestowed on West Indies cricketers including Sir Viv Richards, Sir Garfield Sobers, and Sir Curtly Ambrose.

He was also given a three-month suspended prison sentence in 1998 after being convicted of assault against former girlfriend Margaret Moore. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2002 but made a full recovery and returned to TV commentating.