News Cricket

Former Kiwi coach to apply for Team India's head coach position?

Harshit Anand Updated: 26 July, 2019, 11:49 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Former Kiwi and present Kings XI Punjab coach, Mike Hesson is set to apply for the position of Team India's head coach if reports are to be believed. Mike Hesson coached New Zealand's men cricket team from 2012 to 2018. He led the Black Caps to the 2015 World Cup final and also to the top of the T20I rankings.

“Hesson is very much interested in applying for the head coach’s position. Hesson and his agent need to be convinced about the conditions of the job as laid down by the BCCI. But chances are that they will be sending their application in soon,” a source was quoted as saying in a report.

“He has spent a couple of months in India already working with Kings XI in IPL as well as doing television work with the host broadcasters. He’ll love to work with a high-profile team like India after a highly successful stint with New Zealand,” the source added.

Hesson is known to be an astute tactician. Kohli is not much known for his tactical nous, so Hesson can help India to a great extent in that regard. Also, Hesson is someone, who doesn't like to impose himself, which might well help him to form a good partnership with Kohli.

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News Cricket

Livid Kevin Pietersen terms Jack Leach a "laughing stock", says he is not doing his job

Staff Writer Updated: 11 September, 2019, 1:38 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Kevin Pietersen is not someone who minces his words. Now, he has gone berserk on England's left-arm spinner, Jack Leach, whose eyeglasses antics have been a major talking point ever since he partnered Ben Stokes in England's historic Headingley Test triumph.

Leach was again on course of helping his side draw a game out of a dire situation at Old Trafford but unfortunately for him and England, he got out on 12 off 51 on the final day of the Test and after that, Australia got rid of well set Craig Overton to win the Test and retain the Ashes.

Former England skipper, Kevin Pietersen, who had troubled relations with his teammates during his playing days, wrote for Betway that, "It's doing my head in that a bloke who's supposed to win games for England is becoming a laughing stock. You've got people in the stands taking the mickey out of him, wearing masks and fake glasses. Commentators are talking about his Specsavers deal.

"England are losing an Ashes series and he's only taken eight wickets at 30 in three Test matches. It doesn't look like he's troubled anyone. It just annoys me. I don't want to see the crowd talking about how funny he is, or how funny that run was, or Specsavers. I want to see him producing on the field and I want to see him winning matches for England with his bowling," he added.

"So what does he want to be remembered as? Does he want to be remembered as this funny guy who can hold a bat, or as a match-winner for England?" the former England skipper asked.

Opinion Cricket

Should Team India open with Rohit Sharma in Tests?

CT Contributor Updated: 11 September, 2019, 12:41 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

It's indeed strange as far Team India is concerned when it allows someone like Rohit Sharma to sit on the bench in Test cricket. A player of Rohit's quality needs to be utilised to the fullest. This is also because at the moment, youngster Prithvi Shaw is out with a doping ban sentence. And KL Rahul faltering since the start of 2018 in a grand manner.

India need someone strong and solid to open the show with Mayank Agarwal. And there's no one better than Rohit who opens for the team in limited-overs cricket. The senior cricketer is also backed by stalwarts like Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag to feature in the team more consistently. So far the Indian team management has abstained from the same. However, with the three-match Test series coming up against South Africa, Team India should change its approach.

India cannot have Rohit Sharma sitting on the bench at Rahul’s expense. Rahul needs to be dropped given his trajectory in the last 15 Tests. That’s a long time to get the act right. Also, too much pressure also falls on India’s middle order. India cannot keep favoring Rahul here and harming the opportunities of others. Someone like Rohit needs to be backed for a few Tests. Rohit has been a pioneer in limited-overs cricket and one should allow him to use that form and confidence into Test cricket.

He did well in Australia earlier this year and what many pundits and fans want to see is Rohit getting that backing in Test cricket. Also since, 2017, Rohit Sharma hasn’t got the opportunities. However, the talismanic batsman has scored 401 runs in six Tests. He averages a healthy 50.12 with a best of 102*. In the two Tests that he played at home, he averages 217.00. His best was of 102* against Sri Lanka.

India should have someone like Rohit with world-class attributes more often in the longest format. With South Africa visiting India next, this is a huge chance to look at Rohit and give him that freedom to excel. This will benefit one and all. With the ICC World Test Championship on, India will hope to derive the maximum in the 2019-21 cycle and boost their chances of winning the trophy,

For that, you need a match-winner like Rohit to come in and settle those nerves. Things should be decided in terms of merit and Rohit offers more substance on the field than Rahul. India cannot afford to be stagnant and use the same resources that have failed.

Opinion Cricket

 Why is the upcoming series against South Africa crucial for Hardik Pandya?

CT Contributor Updated: 11 September, 2019, 12:31 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The upcoming T20Is and Tests against South Africa for the Indian cricket team is expected to be hard-fought series and there is a lot at stake. In the Tests, it is the ICC World Test Championship in fray. As far the T20Is are concerned, both teams will be wanting to build well for the ICC World T20 in 2020. One expects both sides to give its all and try to stake a claim in the series. Also, the presence of several big names make things more interesting. There will be several players on focus besides certain aspects of team combinations, approach to the game and the mental battles on offer. One such player for whom this series will be utmost crucial is Hardik Pandya. Here we analyse the same.

Pandya was handed a rest from the tour of Caribbean post the ICC World Cup 2019 in England and Wales. The idea was to ease the pressure and have him fresh for the big series against the Proteas. Pandya hasn't had a defining time of late especially with issues on and off the field since September 2018. He had a strong IPL 12 campaign and a decent World Cup show. To be a premier all-rounder, India need to have their main man going on full song and delivering in crunch situations. So far, Pandya is far from being the finished product. Therefore, there is work to do in terms of setting himself and producing consistent displays for the side. Pandya needs to realise his potential and deliver.

In the Test team, Pandya's place isn't guaranteed at the moment. India are likely to opt for two spinners and two pacers to have a crack at South Africa. With Hanuma Vihari taking his chances at number six and the ability he carries to roll down a few overs, also lessens the possibility of Pandya walking into the side. Therefore, when he does get the chance, he needs to take it and show his credentials. Pandya hasn't quite got going in Tests and that's also a worry. In the T20Is, Pandya will fit in despite the team having several other contenders. So producing a strong run of results across the three games will have Pandya in a happier space.

He hasn't played much cricket for Team India in the last one year and therefore a fresh start is required. He needs to be simple in his approach and get the basics right. SA are a top team and you want your best performers to stand up tall and deliver. That's why the series is highly important for someone like a Pandya.

Feature Cricket

Why is Steve Smith ahead of other fab 3 in Test cricket?

CT Contributor Updated: 11 September, 2019, 11:40 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Steve Smith is a genius who has taken control of Test cricket like nobody else. The run-machine has made a solid impact in helping Aussies retain the urn after they won the recently concluded fourth Test match at Old Trafford in Manchester. Smith was defiant and amassed scores of 211 and 82 to be the major difference for the side. After the Test, both captains acknowledged the brilliance of the magician. He is different class and that what hooks one to Test cricket. Smith is ranked the number one batsman in the ICC Test Rankings for Batsmen and he deserves every bit of the recognition.

The impactful Smith was bossing the Test scenario before being handed a 12-month ban for a ball-tampering scandal in March 2018. He rose from the very low in his career and came up all guns blazing in the Ashes 2019 series which was his first since the 12-month ban in Test cricket. The format is something that's tailor made for the right-handed batsman. He can score runs at will and not just that. The ability to convert fifties into hundreds makes him the best in business. When you look at his Ashes 2019 scores, the lowest score by the champion batsman in 82. Besides that he has scores of 144, 142, 92 and 211. He has batted in just five innings after missing Day 5 of the second Test and subsequently the third Test at Headingley due to a concussion.

To be able to make a comeback and then score a double century is something extraordinary. Smith averages more than 65 in Test cricket and that itself is a testament to his greatness. In the ongoing Ashes, he has notched 671 runs already and leads the show by a big margin. His consistency and ability to forge partnerships are strong attributes. These qualities make him above the other three in the Fab 3 group comprising of Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Joe Root.

Also, it's the impact Smith has. In 2017-18 Ashes he top scored for Australia and helped them win 4-0. Now in this series it's his runs that made the difference. So his contributions come to a winning cause for a side that is dependent on him in that middle order. There is a certain sense of responsibility and belongingness in Tests that Smith carries. He is a special talent and we need to celebrate his batsmanship and the aura that comes with it.

News F1

Report: Schumacher treated in secrecy in Paris hospital

AP Updated: 11 September, 2019, 11:29 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher has been admitted to a Paris hospital to be treated with cutting-edge stem-cell therapy, according to a French newspaper.

The Paris hospitals authority, citing France's strict medical privacy rules, said it could not comment on the report in Le Parisien that Schumacher was admitted under tight guard to the Georges-Pompidou hospital for transfusions of inflammation-reducing stem cells.

The newspaper said the 50-year-old German, who suffered a near-fatal brain injury in a 2013 skiing accident in the French Alps, was expected to be discharged on Wednesday.

His long-time manager, Sabine Kehm, had no comment.

News Tennis

Injured Kevin Anderson to sit out rest of 2019 ATP season

AP Updated: 11 September, 2019, 11:22 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson says he will take the rest of the 2019 season off as he continues to recover from a right knee injury.

The hard-serving South African hasn't played in a tournament since losing in the third round of Wimbledon in July, and pulled out of the U.S. Open because of his knee problems.

He said on Twitter that he will not play again until next year. In a statement, Anderson said: "I have spoken with my team, consulted with doctors, and we have decided that the best course of action is to take the rest of the year off and prepare for 2020. This will give me enough time to undergo more rehab processes and get healthy."

The 33-year-old Anderson was the runner-up to Rafael Nadal at Flushing Meadows in 2017 and to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon last year.

News Football

Iranian female soccer fan dies after setting herself on fire

AP Updated: 11 September, 2019, 11:19 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

An Iranian woman detained for dressing as a man to sneak into a soccer stadium to watch a match has died after setting herself on fire upon learning she could spend six months in prison, semi-official news outlets reported Tuesday.

The self-immolation death of 29-year-old Sahar Khodayari has shocked Iranian officials and the public, becoming an immediate hashtag trend across social media in the Islamic Republic.

It also comes as FIFA is working with Iranian authorities to overcome a ban on women entering stadiums for men's games, a ban in place since the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution. FIFA wants the issue resolved before Oct. 10 when Iran — the top-ranked team in Asia — hosts its first home World Cup qualifier against Cambodia.

FIFA said Tuesday it was "aware of that tragedy and deeply regret it."

"FIFA convey our condolences to the family and friends of Sahar and reiterate our calls on the Iranian authorities to ensure the freedom and safety of any women engaged in this legitimate fight to end the stadium ban for women in Iran," FIFA said in a statement.

Khodayari died on Monday at a Tehran hospital after suffering burns across 90% of her body. She had been on a respirator since dousing herself with gasoline in front of Tehran's Ershad Courthouse on Sept. 2, according to the Iranian news website Rokna, which publishes in Iran with government permission.

She had just learned she could be tried by a Revolutionary Court in Iran and be put in prison for six months, her father told the website.

News Football

Brazil indicts model over rape allegation against Neymar

AP Updated: 11 September, 2019, 11:15 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Sao Paulo police say they are indicting Brazilian model Najila Trindade and her former partner over her rape allegation against soccer star Neymar.

Police said they indicted the model for procedural fraud, slanderous denunciation and extortion.

Her former partner Estivens Alves is accused of disclosing erotic content, which was then published online.

Trindade went to Sao Paulo police to accuse Neymar of raping her at a Paris hotel in May. Neymar denied the accusation and said their relations were consensual.

Prosecutors officially closed the investigation against Neymar earlier this month, citing a lack of evidence against him.

The Associated Press doesn't name alleged sexual assault victims unless they make their identities public, which Trindade did in several interviews.

News Football

Inter chairman Zhang defends fans amid racism debate

AP Updated: 11 September, 2019, 11:13 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Inter Milan chairman Steven Zhang says the principle of non-discrimination is "embedded in the DNA" of the club, after a widely criticized response from ultras fans to striker Romelu Lukaku being racially abused at a game.

Lukaku, who is black, was targeted with monkey chants by Cagliari fans this month after the Belgium forward scored a penalty kick.

A group of Inter fans later suggested such apparent abuse is not racist in Italy, and was a tactic they also used to unsettle opposing players.

Inter's Chinese chairman says the club's inclusive history makes him believe that "a lot of fans, when they did it, the intention was not bad."

Zhang says soccer is "not for violence, it's not for racism" and can be a force to educate people around the world.

The 28-year-old official spoke with reporters at a European Club Association meeting after he was elected to the 246-member group's executive board.

News Football

England, Ronaldo keep up scoring form in Euro qualifying

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

HIGHLIGHT

England's scoring form was on display again in European Championships qualifying. So was Cristiano Ronaldo's.

England made it four wins out of four in Group A with a 5-3 win over Kosovo and Ronaldo netted four goals in European champion Portugal's 5-1 away win at Lithuania.

On a night of heavy scoring, it took the five-time Golden Ball winner's international tally to a whopping 93. Ronaldo might well hit the century mark before next year's tournament, considering Portugal still faces Lithuania at home and twice plays lowly Luxembourg.

"I'm going through a good phase, but the team has been playing well too," Ronaldo said. "I'm enjoying this moment not only because of my goals, but also because of the team's performances in recent years. I just have to keep helping the team."

Striker Harry Kane moved onto a more modest 26 for England, whose fans got a jolt when midfielder Valon Berisha put the visiting side ahead after just 35 seconds.

They were soon reassured by Raheem Sterling's equalizer and Kane's latest goal for England, both inside the opening 20 minutes at St. Mary's Stadium in Southampton on a rare occasion England wasn't playing at Wembley Stadium.

By halftime fans had been treated to five home goals, including 19-year-old winger Jadon Sancho scoring his first two for England.

But the second half proved more inspiring for Kosovo's fans as they witnessed a mini-comeback, with Berisha enjoying a memorable night with a fine second goal curled into the top corner. Kane could have netted a brace, too, but saw his penalty saved by Arijanet Muric.

World Cup winner France labored at times against a well-organized Andorra side in a 3-0 home win, with Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann missing a penalty for the second straight qualifier.

After Kingsley Coman found a way through in the first half, center half Clément Lenglet and substitute Wissam Ben Yedder added goals after the break.

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.