News Cricket

Hardik Pandya set to miss 2019 IPL?

Staff Writer Updated: 22 February, 2019, 11:44 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Hardik Pandya has been ruled out of the upcoming T20I and ODI series against Australia
  • He will undergo strength and conditioning training at the National Cricket Academy
  • Pandya had earlier suffered a lower-back injury during the Asia Cup as well

Yesterday, the Indian all-rounder, Hardik Pandya was ruled out of the upcoming T20I and ODI series against Australia, due to lower back stiffness. The Baroda player will undergo strength and conditioning training at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru from next week.

Sources told Hindustan Times that without a doubt, the Cricket World Cup will be the top priority for Pandya. But there might well be a scenario, where the all-rounder is rested from 2019 IPL.

The source, however, added, “Too early to speak about that (IPL participation) at present. He has a stiff back and it is not like he is carrying any injury. After the three weeks of training at the NCA, he will once again undergo a fitness test and the decision on his participation in the T20 league will be taken then.”

Notably, Pandya had earlier suffered a lower-back injury during the Asia Cup encounter against Pakistan as well, which ruled him out of the home series against Windies and also the T20I series and early part of the Test series against Australia.

A board functionary told HT, “If you realize, Baroda wasn’t playing a game for 16 days since the match against Mumbai from December 14. While it is true that he had played just one game since returning from injury, the team management thought that it was best to have him around the team to ensure that he is fully recovered by the time the ODI series gets underway on January 12. The level of training and prepping goes a level higher when you are with the national team and under the watchful eyes of the Indian trainers.”

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News Football

Kane back earlier than expected from injury for Tottenham 

AP Updated: 22 February, 2019, 11:36 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Tottenham striker Harry Kane has made a quicker-than-expected recovery
  • Kane has missed seven matches because of the injury
  • Tottenham is in third place in the Premier League

Tottenham striker Harry Kane has made a quicker-than-expected recovery from an ankle injury and could be involved in the Premier League game at Burnley on Saturday.

Kane has returned to full training, five weeks after damaging ligaments in his left ankle in a loss to Manchester United. Tottenham initially said Kane wouldn't be back in training until early March.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says "maybe he's going to be available to be part of the squad (against Burnley). We all know that Harry is an animal and wants to be ready as soon as possible."

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Pochettino said of Kane "of course if you ask him 10 days ago, he was ready to play."

Kane has missed seven matches because of the injury and Tottenham has exited the FA Cup and English League Cup in that time. The team has won four games in the Premier League, though, and also beaten Borussia Dortmund 3-0 in the Champions League.

Tottenham is in third place in the Premier League, five points behind Manchester City and Liverpool.

News Tennis

Murray's mother says former Wimbledon champ could play again

AP Updated: 22 February, 2019, 11:25 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Andy Murray is currently recovering from his hip surgery
  • Murray won the Wimbledon title again in 2016
  • Judy Murray thinks her son is still struggling

Andy Murray is currently recovering from his hip surgery, and his mother thinks the two-time Wimbledon champion still has a chance of making a return.

Murray announced last month at the Australian Open that he would compete in the season's first major but might never be able to play again. He lost in the first round in Melbourne and had hip resurfacing surgery about two weeks ago.

Judy Murray, Andy's mother and former coach, told The Associated Press that she doesn't think her son is done just yet.

"I don't think we know anything, for sure nobody does," Judy Murray said at the Rio Open, the biggest tennis tournament in South America. "But I know that he would do everything that he possibly can to give himself a chance to play again.

"I think he had the same operation as Bob Bryan after the U.S. Open, and he was playing doubles again, at Australian Open. But doubles is a very different physical proposition as singles. I think, right now, (we have to) wait and see."

When Andy Murray made his surprise announcement ahead of the Australian Open, he said he would at least like to keep playing until Wimbledon — the tournament he won in 2013 to become the first British male champion at the All England Club in 77 years.

Murray won the Wimbledon title again in 2016, as well as winning one U.S. Open title and two Olympic gold medals. He was also ranked No. 1 in the world for 41 weeks.

Judy Murray, speaking at the stylish Jockey Club after being invited to the ATP tournament, said she thinks her son is still struggling with the idea of never playing again. If he sees a chance to return, he will take it, she said.

"I think he will, (but) I think he's aware that it might not be possible," Judy Murray said. "He is a smart guy, he has a lot of interest in different things, he has a lot of options in life after tennis. But the most important thing is that he's free from the pain he's had for 20 months. He has a young family, you have to think about the quality of life for the rest of your life. Actually, that's the most important thing."

Andy Murray has said that "overtraining" during his younger years may have led to the recent operation that included removing the damaged bone and cartilage within his right hip socket and replacing it with a metal shell. Judy Murray was coaching both of her sons during those early years, but she didn't necessarily agree that too much practice was the reason.

"Well, not too much," Judy Murray said. "You learn from your mistakes, both with Jamie and Andy we were learning as we went along, because nobody had done it from Scotland before. So, there was nobody to follow, nobody to give us advice."

Still, she did quite a job coaching her boys. Besides Andy reaching No. 1 and winning Wimbledon, Jamie reached No. 1 in doubles and won a pair of mixed doubles titles at the All England Club, among others.

"They did amazing things," Judy Murray said. "Nobody could have ever having expected them to become No. 1 coming from a small town in the middle of Scotland."

The highest point in her memory, however, came in the Davis Cup. Britain was facing Australia in the semifinals, the best-of-five series was being played in Glasgow, and both of her sons were on the team.

"Andy played with Jamie, and we weren't sure if he's going to play the doubles, because of course he has to play singles on Friday and Sunday, and to play three matches in a row best of five sets is tough," Judy Murray said. "So we weren't sure until the last minute that he was going to play the doubles. And it was in Glasgow, in Scotland, where we live, where tennis is a very tiny sport, just 1 percent of the population plays tennis. Nobody would ever have expected us to have Grand Slam champions.

"So, I was seated in this venue, which is an Athletics Arena, so 9,000 people in Scotland, I watched Jamie and Andy walk out, with Leon Smith as a captain, who I started with as a coach when he was 20, so he's like my third son. I just look around and said, 'Whoa! Whoever would have believed we would have Davis Cup semifinal with Scottish players, Scottish captain and in Scotland.' So, for me it was the biggest moment, so many things coming together at the same time."

Another moment, possibly a final moment, could still be coming at Wimbledon.

 

News Football

Barcelona struggling in attack entering decisive stretch

AP Updated: 22 February, 2019, 11:19 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Luis Suarez is going through a slump, Ousmane Dembele hasn't proven himself
  • Barcelona have scored only twice in its last four matches in all competitions
  • Messi scored only once in his last four games since recovering from a right leg muscle injury

Suddenly, scoring has become a problem for Barcelona's prolific attack.

And it's happening at a bad time, with the team entering the decisive stretch of the season.

Luis Suarez is going through a slump, Ousmane Dembele hasn't proven himself as a starter, and even Lionel Messi has struggled recently.

Barcelona have scored only twice in its last four matches in all competitions. It has won only one of its last five games, being held scoreless in two of its last three matches.

"We've tried to score in every possible way," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said after the team's 0-0 draw at Lyon in the Champions League on Tuesday. "We've created many chances but couldn't capitalize on them. Soccer is about creating opportunities and capitalizing on them, and we haven't been able to do that."

Before the recent struggles, Barcelona had won five of six matches in all competitions, outscoring opponents 17-4.

Messi scored only once in his last four games since recovering from a right leg muscle injury, with the only goal coming from a penalty kick in last weekend's 1-0 home win against Valladolid in the Spanish league, when he also missed from the penalty spot.

Messi had scored in nine straight matches before hurting his leg in a 2-2 league draw against Valencia.

Dembele has been playing better recently — having started in two straight games — but he has scored only three goals in his last eight matches.

But the biggest concern is with Suarez, who has only two goals in his last 10 matches.

The Uruguay striker has produced some uncharacteristic mistakes in front of the goal, making poor decisions with the ball and wasting some easy chances that he would normally not miss. It happened a few times against Lyon in the Champions League, and also in previous matches.

"I'm not worried," Valverde said. "I would be worried if he hadn't been creating opportunities, which is what you ask from a striker. Although he hasn't been scoring, he has been helping his teammates."

The squad has come out to support the striker, who has 18 goals in 36 appearances for club and country this season.

"Strikers need goals, but we can't only expect that from Luis," Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said. "The work he does to help the rest of the team is important. This bad streak will eventually end."

Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen said the players know they can always count on Suarez.

"He always does everything possible to be at his best," the goalkeeper said. "We hope he can start scoring again soon so he can regain his confidence."

Barcelona will need Suarez to be at his best as it faces a difficult stretch of matches that could ultimately decide its season.

The Catalan club visits Sevilla in the Spanish league on Saturday, then has two consecutive matches against Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium — one in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals and another in the league. It then hosts Lyon in the second leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League.

Barcelona has a seven-point lead over Atletico Madrid in the Spanish league, with Real Madrid nine points behind.

News Cricket

Chahal reveals the biggest difference and similarity between captaincy of Virat and Rohit

Harshit Anand Updated: 22 February, 2019, 11:08 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

There are a lot of debates regarding the captaincy of both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. There are quite a few fans, who feel Rohit Sharma should captain India in limited-over formats, given how brilliant he has been when it comes to captaining Mumbai Indians or the Indian team in absence of Virat Kohli. There is a perception that Kohli is tactically not as smart and calculated as Rohit Sharma.

Indian wrist-spinner, Yuzvendra Chahal, who is quite close to both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, opened up on the difference between the captaincy styles of both the players.

He was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times, “They have their own style. While Virat bhai looks a little aggressive on the field like a warrior, Rohit bhaiya looks calmer and is in Zen mode."

Chahal also pointed out to one thing that is common between both of them. "Both are top-class when it comes to their skills. The best part is that both give the bowlers the freedom to set our own fields and express ourselves. They are always there to back us when the going is a bit tough and are equally appreciative when we bowl well,” he said.

News Football

Chelsea, Arsenal, Napoli, Inter advance in Europa League

AP Updated: 22 February, 2019, 10:47 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • After a scoreless first half, Olivier Giroud tapped in a cross from Willian in the 55th minute
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang forced an early own goal
  • Italian clubs Napoli and Inter also had no problems to make the next phase

Chelsea shook off their recent troubles and easily advanced in the Europa League with a 3-0 second leg victory over 10-man Malmo, a result that takes some pressure off embattled coach Maurizio Sarri.

After a scoreless first half, Olivier Giroud tapped in a cross from Willian in the 55th minute before Ross Barkley made it 2-0 from a free kick. Callum Hudson-Odoi finished it off in the 84th, with Willian setting up his goal as well.

Giroud and Barkley also scored in a 2-1 victory in the first leg, with Chelsea advancing to the round of 16 with a 5-1 win on aggregate.

Earlier Thursday, Arsenal rebounded from a 1-0 loss to BATE Borisov a week ago with a comprehensive 3-0 second-leg victory.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang forced an early own goal before center backs Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos added one apiece for Arsenal to advance 3-1 on aggregate.

Italian clubs Napoli and Inter also had no problems to make the next phase while last year's semifinalist Salzburg, Eintracht Frankfurt, Valencia, Villarreal, Dinamo Zagreb, Zenit, Benfica, Kiev, Rennes, Krasnodar and Slavia Prague all made it through.

Former champion Sevilla advanced after knocking out Lazio on Wednesday.

The draw for the last 16 is scheduled for Friday.

News F1

Ferrari shows good pace, reliability in 1st week of F1 tests

AP Updated: 22 February, 2019, 10:35 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Ferrari showed good pace and reliability throughout the first four days of testing
  • Renault's Nico Hulkenberg set the fastest time of the week on Thursday
  • Hamilton and Bottas totaled only 115 laps with both cars

The first week of Formula testing ended with Ferrari looking to be a step ahead of Mercedes.

Ferrari showed good pace and reliability throughout the first four days of testing in Spain, while Mercedes didn't look up to full speed.

Although teams often avoid showing their full potential in testing, Mercedes has usually fared better at this point in previous seasons.

"They do seem very strong, no matter which kind of fuel load or engine mode they're running," Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas said of Ferrari. "Whatever you try to correct that for, in any case, they are quick, on short runs and long runs. I think we feel, at this point, that they're going to be a bit ahead, but obviously it's impossible to make a detailed calculation."

Renault's Nico Hulkenberg set the fastest time of the week on Thursday with a time of 1 minute, 17.393 seconds at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, ahead of Toro Rosso's Alexander Albon. Hulkenberg teammate Daniel Ricciardo was third, ahead of Bottas and his Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton. Charles Leclerc, who led the timesheets on Tuesday, ended sixth with Ferrari on a slower tire compound.

Hamilton and Bottas totaled only 115 laps with both cars on Thursday, while Leclerc ran 138 with his Ferrari.

"I think there is a lot of potential, but it's not yet quite there," Bottas said. "But I feel a sense in the team of a bit of an excitement to discover more about the car and to improve it, because at this point, it looks like we are not miles ahead of everyone. It seems like Ferrari are in a better place."

Hamilton on Wednesday predicted a stronger challenge from Ferrari this year. The five-time world champion beat Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel the last two seasons in the drivers' championship. Mercedes has won the constructors' title for five straight years.

Hamilton and Bottas had faster overall times than Vettel and Leclerc, although their laps came on faster tires. Mercedes also ran 12 more laps than Ferrari during the four days of testing.

Vettel was the fastest driver on Monday.

McLaren had a promising first week, being able to run more laps than in both test sessions combined last year. Williams, which started testing later than the other teams because of delays with its 2019 car, ran only 88 laps in total, the fewest among all teams. Alfa Romeo, formerly known as Sauber, had a promising week, racking up a high lap count and setting fast times.

Testing will continue Tuesday-Friday at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, home to the Spanish Grand Prix in May.

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix is on March 17.

News Wrestling

IOC suspends India from hosting future shooting events after Pakistan shooters denied visa

AP Updated: 22 February, 2019, 10:22 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • The IOC said the situation goes against the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter
  • The visa refusal comes amid escalated tensions between the two countries
  • At least 40 Indian soldiers were killed in Thursday's attack

The International Olympic Committee has revoked the Olympic qualification status of a 25-meter shooting event in New Delhi because Indian officials refused to grant entry visas to two Pakistani athletes and an official.

The Olympic body has suspended India from hosting any international event till they give a ‘written guarantee’ of complying with the Olympic Charter.

The IOC said it was informed that the Indian government authorities did not grant entry visas to the Pakistani delegation for the 25-meter rapid-fire pistol event at the ISSF World Cup, where two places at next year's Tokyo Olympics were meant to be at stake.

The IOC said it only withdrew the Olympic qualification status from the competition in which the two Pakistani athletes were supposed to participate. There are 500 athletes from 61 countries who are already in India for other World Cup events.

"Since becoming aware of the issue, and in spite of intense last-minute joint efforts by the IOC, the ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation) and the Indian NOC (National Olympic Committee), and discussions with the Indian government authorities, no solution has been found to allow the Pakistani delegation to enter India in time to compete," the IOC said in a statement.

It did not say whether Pakistani athletes were entered in any other events at the competition.

The IOC said the situation goes against the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter to not discriminate against any athlete.

The visa refusal comes amid escalated tensions between the two countries following last week's deadly suicide bombing in Kashmir against Indian paramilitary troops. At least 40 Indian soldiers were killed in Thursday's attack, which New Delhi blamed on Islamabad.

Since independence from Britain in 1947, Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, which is divided between the two but claimed by each in its entirety.

News Cricket

ICC will ban BCCI if India Boycott World Cup Match With Pakistan

Staff Writer Updated: 21 February, 2019, 9:38 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Amid calls to forfeit World Cup match against Pakistan, government sources have warned against taking any hasty decision.

After the terror attack in Pulwama, which resulted in the death of 42 security personnel, there have been calls not only to boycott the World Cup game, but also to seek Pakistan’s ban from the event.

Speaking to NDTV, government sources claimed that it could prove costly for India. “We should not get isolated in order to isolate Pakistan,” the sources told NDTV.

“By not playing against Pakistan, we will be giving them a walk-over,” they said. “Punitive action can be taken against us,” the sources further added. “ICC can even impose ban on BCCI.

“There is still lot of time. We should not react in hurry,” they further added.

News Cricket

Master Blaster to do push-ups at Delhi marathon to support families of CRPF martyrs

Staff Writer Updated: 21 February, 2019, 9:34 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Indian skipper Sachin Tendulkar will run with thousands of runners during the IDBI Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon to raise funds for the families of the soldiers who lost their lives in dastardly attack carried out by terrorists.

Before the start of the marathon, Sachin will do 5-10 push-ups with other participants. IDBI Federal, the organizing company, will contribute INR 100 for each of the participants.

The amount will be donated to the family of martyrs. More than 18,000 participants are expected to take part in the races.

“Prior to each of the races, Tendulkar, along with the marathon participants will be doing 5-10 push-ups as part of the #KeepMoving Push-up Challenge in order to make a difference to the families of the martyrs. For each participant in the challenge, IDBI Federal will be donating Rs 100 towards the fund for the Martyrs,” the organizers said in a release.

Tendulkar, the brand ambassador of IDBI Federal Life Insurance, has urged people to challenge their limits.

“I firmly believe that success lies in pushing our limits and challenging ourselves, as we are our only competition.

“This is why we are organising the #KeepMoving Push-up Challenge at this year’s IDBI Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon. I would request all runners to join me in taking this challenge and making a commitment to a fitter future.”

News Cricket

Pakistan fan who once sang Indian national anthem urges everyone not to boycott WC clash

Staff Writer Updated: 21 February, 2019, 9:30 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Since the Pulwama attack, fans, former cricketers and politicians have urged Team India to boycott the World Cup match against Pakistan.

However, a Pakistan cricket fan Adil Taj, who sang the Indian national anthem during the clash between two arch rivals in the Asia Cup, has urged every Indian cricket fan to not boycott the match and let it take place as scheduled.

He said, “After the Pulwama incident many have said that India should boycott Pakistan in World Cup match, however, nothing will happen even if you boycott a cricket match. In UAE, Pakistanis and Indians are still sharing the old bond after the Pulwama incident.

“It is because of cricket that India had toured Pakistan in 2004 and 2006, and if you ask those Indian players, they will tell you how much respect and love they received from Pakistan. Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar have many times told on record that they receive more love from India than Pakistan."

He further added, “Cricketers and cricket fans have always shared a good bond. In Shahid Afridi's house, you will still find a Sachin Tendulkar signed Indian team jersey framed. After Shahid Afridi's retirement, even Virat Kohli had gifted him his Indian team jersey on which the current Indian players have signed and Virat Kohli wrote, 'It was always a pleasure playing against you Shahid bhai'.

“Virat Kohli also gifted Shahid Afridi a bat which he could donate to the Shahid Afridi foundation. There are many such examples which prove that cricketers share a very loving bond with each other.

“So please do not boycott this match. The match should happen as per schedule. It is a much-awaited match. It is the mother of all matches. Even ICC director had mentioned how they received 400,000 ticket applications for Pakistan and India match especially after knowing that the stadium is only a 25,000 seater.”

Opinion Cricket

5 Players to Watch Out for in the India-Australia T20Is

Harshit Anand Updated: 21 February, 2019, 5:35 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India are ready to kick-off their final preparations ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup. The Men in Blue will battle Australia in a two-match T20I series, which will be followed by five ODIs. Last time, when these two teams met in T20Is, the series culminated at a scoreline of 1-1.

But, now both the teams would be keen to enforce a result in this chapter of their fight in the shortest format and get the momentum going into the ODI series. After all, every team wants to put their best foot forward as we are closing in on the World Cup.

Let's take a look at 5 Players to Watch Out for in the India-Australia T20Is:

Virat Kohli

After been rested for the final two ODIs and T20I series against New Zealand, Virat Kohli returns to lead India in the two-match T20I series, which will be followed by five ODIs. Virat Kohli will look to get into his groove and with the likes of Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Jhye Richardson in Australia's bowling line-up, the Indian skipper will be properly tested. And he would love that given this limited-overs series against Australia is going to be India's final international series before the much awaited and anticipated World Cup.

Rohit Sharma

With 2,326 runs in T20I cricket, Rohit Sharma is the highest run-scorer in the format. Rohit Sharma absolutely cherishes the shortest format. He has four centuries in T20Is. Rohit's last T20I knock, wherein he scored 38 runs off 32 deliveries cost India the series-deciding game against New Zealand. Now, the Indian white-ball vice-captain would look to make amends and get back to his smashing form. Rohit has an average record against the Men in Yellow and cometh the T20I series, he will love to get back to the "Hitman" mode.

Rishabh Pant

Well, this Indian youngster will be one of the major talking points in the India-Australia series. India have to pick one among Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant for the reserve wicket-keeper's slot in the World Cup. Keeping that in mind, Pant has also been named in India's ODI squad against Australia. Pant played good knocks in last two T20I appearances against Black Caps and that went a long way in his selection for ODIs as well. Now, the southpaw would look to continue his merry run in the format he relishes the most. If he continues to cash in on his good form, he might find himself a spot in the ICC World Cup.

Pat Cummins

Pat Cummins is ranked no.1 in ICC Test rankings for bowlers. He has been in amazing form in red-ball cricket. But, his numbers in T20Is are also quite impressive. The lanky pacer has 23 wickets in 18 games and his economy is also under 7. The Aussie speedster has played very few matches in limited-overs cricket. But, now as World Cup is coming closer, he is likely to be part of the Australian team regularly. Cummins has pace, bounce, and ability to pick crucial wickets and that makes him a dynamite bowler for the Kangaroos.

Marcus Stoinis

Marcus Stoinis, who recently won the Australia ODI Player of the Year award, is a great all-round option for Australia. He is someone, who puts his hands up in pressure-cooker situations and this attitude of his, makes him a big-match player. Be it bowling in slog-overs or batting well under pressure, Stoinis is a fine player. But his T20 numbers are quite bad and it is a format, where he needs to leave his mark, given the enormous potential that this 29-year-old cricketer possesses.

Feature Cricket

The Bigger Win

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 21 February, 2019, 4:11 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Virat Kohli is going to be hounded about the stature of the Test series win in Australia
  • India’s bowling over the past three decades or so has become a force to reckon with
  • Kohli and the support staff needed to come up with better answers

The end of a successful series always brings with it questions about where it stands on the rank of a team or a nation’s greatest wins. To put things in perspective, while it is only natural that Virat Kohli is going to be hounded about the stature of the Test series win in Australia, some balance has to be struck keeping in mind the expectations of a World Cup are far different from a Test series though ambition is common.

Undoubtedly Kohli has returned to India with a feather in his cap, having led his team to conquer down under for the first time in seven decades. Arguably the four Test series of Australia did not see Kohli as quite the same prolific batsman as he was in England, on the positive note, that the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara proved their mettle once more about the value of having a more subtle, ambitious, equally driven batsman in their ranks was a worthy lesson in itself.

India’s bowling over the past three decades or so has become a force to reckon with, although often caught in a situation alien to them or finding their efforts led down by the underperforming though extremely talented batsmen. In many ways, the tour of Australia highlighted India’s learning from the previous tours but also, from the tours undertaken under Kohli himself, particularly the tours of South Africa and England which revealed that having a plan was not enough and that Kohli and the support staff needed to come up with better answers on the go if they were to change history. To Kohli’s credit, India were generally on the mark and instead of being bogged down by the fact that they had a real opportunity against England only to squander it rather tragically by their inability to keep their finger on the pulse as it were, they improvised, hung in strong and were duly rewarded.

Naturally a rare overseas Test series win is bound to draw accolades as it has somewhat bizarre comparisons about a World Cup win. Kohli was part of the Indian team that lifted the ICC Cricket World Cup for only the second time in 2011. While both successes would have been enthralling for Kohli, it would have had their own significance, winning one as a young prodigious player set to take on the mantle vacated by Sachin Tendulkar at the end of that tournament in 2011 and then winning the other as India’s Test captain, a hat Kohli carries him with equal pride.

Perhaps the more challenging and interesting question to ask of Kohli in the forthcoming days is how that tour has shaped his own ambitions for himself and for the team and what is the benchmark India indeed to set for themselves in terms of what they think they can conquer and sustain. Keeping in mind, India did not always and still don’t have the answers, particularly when it comes to filling in some crucial roles such as the openers, it would be more interesting which way the weathervane turns for Kohli given that he has quite a few young players, not unlike him at one point, knocking eagerly at the doors of international cricket, which could make it an interesting and intriguing time for the team that will look to keep its eyes on the summit and also, look to blood in youngsters whom the team thinks can be groomed than persistent with the seasoned players who have not made much of the long end of the rope.

Feature Cricket

Ross Taylor joins the pantheon of great NZ batsmen

Partab Ramchand Updated: 21 February, 2019, 4:03 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Ross Taylor is one of New Zealand’s greatest batsmen
  • He averages almost 46 to Fleming’s 40 and has hit 17 centuries to Fleming’s nine
  • New Zealand have produced very few really great batsmen

For some time there has never been any doubt that Ross Taylor is one of New Zealand’s greatest batsmen. Statistical confirmation came during the final ODI against Bangladesh when he went past Stephen Fleming’s record as the highest run getter in this format for New Zealand. And he reached the mark in fewer innings (203 to Fleming’s 269) with a much better average (48 to Fleming’s 32). And surely it is only a matter of time before he goes past Fleming and becomes the highest run getter for the country in Test cricket too. He needs just another 650 runs and has played 90 Tests to Fleming’s 111. He averages almost 46 to Fleming’s 40 and has hit 17 centuries to Fleming’s nine.

New Zealand have produced very few really great batsmen. The two pioneers Martin Donnelly and Charles Dempster can be straightaway placed in this category despite their limited appearances in Tests. Bert Sutcliffe the stalwart from the late 40s to the mid-60s was at his peak in the fifties acknowledged to be the finest left hander in the game. Then came Glenn Turner who was one of the hardest batsmen to dismiss in the 60s and 70s thanks to his impeccable technique and intense concentration. In the 80s and 90s even in an era of several great batsmen Martin Crowe was one of the stars and was considered to be New Zealand’s finest batsman ever.

New Zealand these days is doubly fortunate that they have not one but two outstanding batsmen in Taylor and Kane Williamson. Taylor who turns 35 next month was the first on the scene and by his brilliant strokeplay and his ability to excel in both Tests and ODIs was certainly the finest Kiwi batsman since Crowe. The appearance of Williamson has in no way dimmed the lustre over Taylor and the two in tandem have worked wonders for New Zealand’s batting.

Williamson of course has made giant strides and is considered to be one of the four best batsmen in the game today along with Joe Root, Virat Kohli and Steve Smith. It surely is only a matter of time before he goes past Taylor’s marks. In fact he is already the highest century maker for New Zealand with 19 ahead of Taylor and Crowe both on 17. With almost 6000 runs and an average of 51 after 70 Tests, he can lay claim to being his country’s finest ever batsman. But that is in the future. Right now it is Taylor’s moment to savour and the honour could not have come to a nicer person and one of the few gentleman cricketers around.

News Cricket

Big Blow for India! Hardik ruled out, India name replacement for Aus series

Staff Writer Updated: 21 February, 2019, 3:39 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India all-rounder, Hardik Pandya has been ruled out of the limited overs series against Australia, which will be starting from February 24. It will be a two-match T20I series, followed by five One-dayers. It will be final series for the Men in Blue ahead of the 2019 Cricket World Cup beginning from May 30 in England and Wales.

All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has been named as Pandya’s replacement for the five-match ODI series. Notably, BCCI didn't name a replacement for the T20I series preceding the ODI series. Ravindra Jadeja wasn't there in the original Indian squad, which was named earlier.

BCCI announced, “Hardik Pandya ruled out of Australia’s tour of India due to lower back stiffness. Jadeja has been named a replacement for Hardik Pandya for the 5 ODIs.”

Pandya had returned to international cricket against New Zealand. He had made an instant impact there and again proved why he is such an important part of India's white-ball teams.