Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya made a rocking return to the Indian side. He was named in India's XI for the third ODI against New Zealand in place of Vijay Shankar. And the lanky player impressed one and all with his excellent fielding and bowling. He took a brilliant catch to get rid of the Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson in last ODI.
On the bowling front, Pandya ended up with figures of 2/45 in his quota of 10 overs. The Baroda lad had a very disciplined start and gave away just 9 runs in his first five overs and in his last five overs scalped two wickets though he was slightly on the expensive side.
India's fielding coach R Sridhar explained to the media what was going through Pandya's mind before the third ODI. Sridhar was quoted by cricbuzz as saying, “No one was more keen than Hardik Pandya to play that game. He’s been working very hard during the time he got back home and the kind of energy he brought into the team, the desperation he brought was magnificent to see. He’s always been a good fielder. He was just dying to get into the thick of things and be a part of this and get back to what he loves doing, that is to play cricket and play it best he can.”
“That catch – he made a very difficult catch look easy. By no means an easy catch and then also the fact that it was Kane Williamson’s catch; the extra pressure of one of the best batsmen in the world. I think that was a turning point. I would say piece of magic from Hardik Pandya. He’s known for that. He’s one of the best fielders as we have in the country. If you also notice, he hit the stumps on quite a few occasions in his comeback match, which was very pleasing to see,” he added.
Indian cricket fans are the harshest critics in the world and it often takes them just a single opportunity to lash out at the team and certain individuals. When India lost the Test series against South Africa and England away from home in 2018, there were too much criticisms on offer from both fans and pundits alike. But the moment India won in Australia and the Asia Cup, things changed.
Recently in the tour of Australia, fans were too harsh on MS Dhoni in the first ODI at the SCG. People blamed him for India's loss and accused him of slowing things down. Not many realized that he hardly played any cricket coming into that game and also had to do recovery job with India reeling at 4/3.
The same Dhoni then went on to win the series for India after scores of 55* and 87*. People jumped into conclusions too early and suggested Rishabh Pant should be included and that Dhoni should be dropped from the squad to be selected for the World Cup. Next moment when Pant will fail, then he too won't be spared.
The much of the hatred stems on social media sites like Twitter. Several fans, who do or don't understand cricket are quickly to shun anybody in order to prove their point. Their baseless comments are often mixed with abuses and social media aggressions. This is the reality we are living in. Not long ago, former Aussie cricketer Dean Jones pointed out that Indian fans are just too critical and hard.
When India lost the ODIs against England last year, Dhoni was booed off despite the batsmen coming on before him failed to do anything substantial. One feels that he is one of their favourite targets. Besides Dhoni, several fans and pundits alike went too hard on Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul recently regarding the Koffee With Karan controversy.
Pandya asked for apology and the BCCI also suspended the two cricketers. One should leave it till there, but no things went too far. Another major issue fans in particular have is regarding team selection matters and are quick to lash out at the captain and the management. India's overseas form, comments regarding short pitch balls and many more are subject of the criticisms.
Recently Cheteshwar Pujara was called a cheater because of him not walking off after nicking a delivery to the keeper. Isn't that the job of the umpire? Why he gets the blame? The same Pujara was India's hero in Australia in the Test series. So quickly fans shift their focus and rely on anything to spill their venom at.
The question is that can we leave the cricketers alone and let them play the game. Can we for one moment enjoy the cricket and don't utter any judgement? Can we learn to accept defeats as much as enjoy wins? The Indian team needs to be lauded for what they achieved in Australia and now in New Zealand. We need to support the side and the players. That's where sanity and sense prevails.
The World Cup starts from May 30 onwards, and we need to be behind the side as much as we can and stop this blame game and hate.
The West Indies women's team arrived in Karachi to play three Twenty20 matches as Pakistan once again bids to showcase its ability to host international cricket.
There was a heavy security presence between the airport and the team hotel, and traffic on one of Karachi's busiest roads was halted while the visiting squad travelled through on bullet-proof buses.
"The security system is top class," West Indies stand-in captain Merissa Aguilleira said. "There was security on both sides of the roads and these things show that everybody has put (security) things in place."
A terrorist attack in March 2009 on the Sri Lanka test cricket team's bus in Lahore killed six policeman and two civilians and injured six members of the touring group.
Pakistan has hosted only short limited-overs series against Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, a World XI and the West Indies since the attacks.
A women's team from Bangladesh also toured Pakistan in October 2015 for a limited-overs series.
West Indies regular captain Stafanie Taylor is skipping the T20 matches this week in Karachi because of security concerns but will rejoin the squad for a series of three one-day internationals against Pakistan in Dubai next month.
"Of course we will always miss our skipper," Aguielleira said. "But after all I think this is a good opportunity for the players to step up ... I really believe in the potential of this team and we are willing to go forward and make sure go there and represent the people of the Caribbean to the best of our ability."
The West Indies team was warmly received by the officials of the PCB before they were whisked from the airport in tight security.
Aguielleira said the security issue came up for discussion before the team travelled to Pakistan.
"Everyone had some issues about it, being honest, but after all collectively we joined together as a team," she said. "We had discussion and we are happy to be here."
The West Indies captain said she would have been "disappointed" had she not agreed to tour Pakistan despite Taylor showing her reservations to compete in Karachi.
"When I'm looking at it right now if I don't come to Pakistan I would have been so disappointed," she said with a smile. "Away from Pakistan you can be like, 'There's so much going on,' but when you are here you just get lost in the moment so I really urge other teams to really come back to Pakistan because the people (in Pakistan) they love cricket and which is the most important."
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) shared the latest video of Chahal TV on Twitter. It is an interview series hosted by Chahal. The latest episode of this series features Indian youngsters Shubman Gill, Khaleel Ahmed and Kuldeep Yadav with Rohit Sharma as the cameraman.
The BCCI captioned the video on Twitter: "On our latest episode of Chahal TV, we talk to #TeamIndia's young brigade with @ImRo45 donning cameraman duties and our host and dost @yuzi_chahal behind the mic."
Shubman Gill in the interview said, "We follow a schedule to maintain our fitness. The training has been good so far. I am feeling wonderful as I received a warm welcome from everyone in the team."
Kuldeep Yadav said, “Our seniors like Rohit bhai, Virat bhai motivate youngsters like us a lot. When they do so, we too feel that we need give our best (on being fit).”
Khaleel Ahmed said, "Anytime you can get a chance to play in a match, you have to maintain yourself. You need to keep yourself fit every time.”
An uneasy calm must settle around Hardik Pandya. His partner in crime as it were, KL Rahul, can breathe easy, not under the spotlight as much, an odd advantage to not being considered in form enough to make the team.
After all after the hullabaloo about the quantum of punishment to be meted out to the young duo after their rather ludicrous, ill-informed and ignorant remarks on a scandalous talk show known for spurning gossip, the public castigation seemed to have the duo stitched up in knots, not because the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had a code of conduct or laws as laid down in the constitution for such mishaps but because they had publicly revealed what people suspected about the mindset of a generation that has grown up on easy glitz and glamour and less on the grassroots that shaped the men before them.
Now even as some suggested that the ICC Cricket World Cup could be out of bounds for the motor mouth, braggadocios Hardik Pandya, the BCCI decision to bring the players back into contention is not necessarily a pardoning of their public gaffes but rather a way for BCCI to buy time as they figure out not only the unusual scenario that elicited such public vilification of the duo but also, their own internal matters that have grown awry in the face of confusion, mayhem and power struggles.
It is hard not to see the present scenario where the players are in limbo because the mechanisms are not in place as a situation where the power in the hands of the two member Committee of Administrators, set up to redress the issues appears to have gone to their head. However, the truth may be closer to home in that given the unusual situation that Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji have found themselves in with the overall operations of the BCCI, they may have been in need of guidance themselves in operating a system that had long been run like a personal fiefdom. It is not surprising that while the former got caught up in the age limit fiasco, the latter has embroiled herself in selection bungles that may have sealed her own fate and could back at a time to bite her at a time when the BCCI’s bigwigs are looking for a back door to make their comeback.
For the moment, it appears to be back to business for Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul and perhaps in hindsight, it is a better strategy to keep the players busy and harnessed to their primary jobs while the BCCI’s operating duo figure out the way forward and also, help set an order and precedent whereby the players and the BCCI are more sensitive when talking and handling about such issues.
That brings back to the table the contentious issue still simmering the background about the muddled manner in which the BCCI CEO, Rahul Johri, was cleared of misconduct and inappropriate behaviour and yet assigned to undergo sensitivity training which speaks to the contrary. With that counseling yet to get underway, the BCCI presently appears to be running amok a bit not unlike a headless chicken, which is no surprise why some in the old guard are rearing their ugly heads in the prospect of a way to claw back into the game.
New Zealand all-rounder Mitchell Santner, who recently returned to the senior team after recovering from an injury, has showered praise on the Indian team, which has an unbeatable lead of 3-0 in the five-match ODI series.
He feels Black Caps' inability to strike upfront and get into the Indian middle order early has cost them the ongoing series.
Santner said, “We are playing a very good side … I do think we’re not too far off. I think the plans have been pretty solid – maybe the execution’s been off at times. I guess the key for us is to keep taking wickets through the middle, keep being aggressive. They obviously hate getting out – just got to find ways to try and get wickets.”
“With the bat, it’s trying to build those partnerships throughout. We saw a good one between Ross [Taylor] and Tom [Latham] last game, then we lost a couple and we fell over a bit. They’ve bowled very well in the top 10 and we haven’t really got away so if we can get through the first 10 [overs] with wickets in hand then set up the back-end where we’ve got some power hitters that we can get to a pretty good total,” he added.
This is only the second time in India's One-day cricket history that they have registered a bilateral triumph in New Zealand.
The Men in Blue have been in blazing form so far in the ODI series against New Zealand. India won the five-match ODI series after they clinched the third ODI at Bay Oval, which means the next two games are going to be dead rubbers. And it might be a perfect time for them to try out reserve players and India's fielding coach, R Sridhar has also indicated to something of that sort.
"See, winning is a habit which we would obviously want to continue. When you're one-up or three-up against a team, you want to continue with the form; you want to don't want to let down the intensity. At the same time, we also need to give game-time to our reserves. There's just seven games remaining for us before we play our first World Cup game. We should not end up in a situation where the main eleven has played and the reserves have not got enough game time, and then suddenly they have to play an important crucial game in the World Cup," Sridhar said on the eve of the fourth ODI.
"And that is what we would like to achieve from the remaining two games in this series and no better place than New Zealand to simulate the conditions in England in June," he added.
Players like Mohammed Siraj, Khaleel Ahmed, Ravindra Jadeja, and Shubman Gill have not got a chance to play in the ongoing series so far. Shubman Gill is likely to make his ODI debut tomorrow given India would like to test him before the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Mohammed Shami might get some rest after he has featured in India's XI in last six ODIs. He was also part of the team in all the four Tests against Australia. Khaleel Ahmed, who impressed one and all last year in home series against Windies might get preference over Mohammed Siraj, who looked sluggish in the only ODI he played in Australia.
Given the fact that India have got back an all-rounder in form of Hardik Pandya, and the wrist-spin duo of Chahal and Kuldeep is doing extremely well, Jadeja might not get a go in the fourth ODI.
Limited overs specialist Rashid Khan is looking forward to take on Australia in Whites next year. Being the newest member of the Test playing nations, Rashid reckons it is more than a dream to play Australia in Australia.
“From Afghanistan, playing Test cricket against Australia in Australia it’s more than a dream. Afghanistan got the full membership and last we played against India in India and now we’re playing against Ireland in India and then Australia here,” Cricket.com.au quoted Rashid, as saying.
“Being a player, it means a lot. Against Australia, playing Test matches is a huge achievement and me and the players are really looking forward (to it). We played here (in T20 games) a lot but, Test cricket is very different. Pretty excited to face the quick bowlers here, big bouncy wickets,” he added.
He said wickets in Australia are bowling friendly and he is hoping to not get a juicy track like Perth when they take on the home team.
“As we have seen against India, I think wickets are very tough here to bat on, especially in the Test cricket. I hope that we don’t play in Perth, we play somewhere else on a good wicket to make some runs and a little bit good for the spinner as well,” Rashid said.
Former England skipper Michael Vaughan mocked Sanjay Manjrekar after he criticized the current English coach Trevor Bayliss for his take on Sam Curran's performance in the first Test against the Windies. England lost the series opener in the Caribbean by 381 runs. They scored 77 and 246 in the first and second innings respectively. The management was lambasted for preferring Sam Curran over Stuart Broad in the playing XI. After facing humiliating defeat, coach Bayliss had defended Curran's selection stating that he had the first bad game of his career.
“It was down to Curran and Broad [for the final seamer]. Our gut feel was Curran as he has done well for us over the last six or seven games. It didn’t work out like that, the young bloke has had his first bad Test in his career. It won’t be his last but he’s a good young player who will learn from it,” Bayliss had said after the game.
However, his words didn't go down well with the former Indian player, Sanjay Manjrekar, who took to Twitter to point out flawed approach adopted by the visitors.
“Trevor Bayliss said that Sam Curran has endured the first bad game of his career. Curran has 15 wickets in 15 innings. So it’s more his batting Bayliss is talking about…Curran bats at no 8 & 9. Highlights the flawed thinking & approach of England. #ENGvWI,” wrote Manjrekar.
He was given an apt response by Michael Vaughan, who reminded him of Curran's performance against India. Curran was adjudged Player of the Series for his remarkable performance in England's 4-1 win over India.
Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has been in the center of the storm after he didn't walk off after edging the ball in both the innings of the Ranji Trophy's semi-final clash between Saurashtra and Karnataka, which Saurashtra won easily to qualify for the finals on the back of centuries from Pujara and Sheldon Jackson.
Pujara was batting on just 34 in the fourth innings of the semi-final clash when he edged the ball to the keeper. The umpire failed to see the edge and didn't give him out. A similar incident had happened in Saurashtra's first innings as well. Pujara didn't walk off on both occasions and this didn't go down too well with the Bengaluru crowd, which turned hostile, and chants of "cheater" started doing the rounds at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Reflecting on the incident, Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak was quoted as saying by MID-DAY, “It is wrong on the crowd’s part. Has Vinay Kumar ever called a batsman back in his career for being given out wrongly? If he has not done so then he has no right to complain.
“I don’t think it makes any sense [to criticize Pujara]. In my career, I would have got 20 to 30 ridiculously bad decisions and never has anyone called me back because the opposition were so happy that Kotak was out. Pujara is a far better player than me. If somebody calls you back when you are not out, then you are allowed to walk against them.
“Honestly, you feel you should walk, but it is unfair to the team because when he is actually not out and still given out, nobody calls you back.
Shortly afterwards he had sealed the West Indian victory in the first Test against England at Bridgetown with innings figures of eight for 60 off spinner Roston Chase spoke with feeling about Jason Holder hailing his captain as a ``legend in my eyes, a longtime friend who I believe in and who believes in himself on the field.’’ It was a fitting tribute to a man who is a born leader. ’
It is unfortunate that thanks to several run-ins with the authorities several leading cricketers prefer to ply their trade in the various T-20 leagues around the world instead of representing the West Indies. At full strength, they would not only be a far stronger side but also a very exciting one. But recent results have shown that the West Indies might just be turning the corner. And the man responsible for this, the man who can lead them to at least something of their past glory has to be Holder.
Ever since he took over the leadership the soft spoken, affable 27 year old Holder has looked the part trying his best to inspire his weak side to play above their potential. Leading from the front has come naturally to him and what happened a few days ago at Bridgetown was the high point of this aspect of his captaincy. His unbroken seventh wicket partnership of 295 runs with Shane Dowrich ruthlessly consolidated the West Indian position and saw them finish with a crushing 381 run victory – their third highest in terms of a run margin – with a day to spare. Holder’s unbeaten 202 – the third highest score by a No 8 batsman in Test cricket – broke several records and has lifted him to the No 1 spot among the all rounds in the ICC rankings ahead of Ravindra Jadeja and Shakib al Hasan and making him the first West Indian to occupy the top slot since the one and only Gary Sobers. To highlight the greatness of Holder’s achievement it must be pointed out that Sobers held the spot in March 1974.
The team is certainly developing along the right lines. In Shai Hope and Darren Bravo they have two high class batsmen and in Kraigg Brathwaite they have an opening batsman who has delivered. Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach are two very fine fast bowlers and in Shimron Hetmyer they have an emerging star. All the pieces have just to fall in place for the West Indies and there is little doubt that Holder will have a crucial role to play in this process.
After winning the ODI series in the third match, the Indian team hit the nets ahead of the fourth ODI at Hamilton. MS Dhoni, who missed the last game following hamstring trouble, was seen at the nets, which is a welcoming news considering Virat Kohli's absence.
India could go in with the reserve players in the upcoming match to test the bench strength. The match will also be memorable for stand in skipper Rohit Sharma, as he will become the 14th Indian cricketer to play 200 ODIs for the country.
Men in Blue have won 7 out of 8 matches in his captaincy and will be looking to carry on with the winning momentum.
He needs just one six to become the highest six-hitter for India. Rohit has hit 215 sixes in his ODI career and shares the record with MS Dhoni.
South Africa is currently taking on Pakistan in five-match ODI series at home. The series is currently tied at 2-2, which makes for a riveting series-decider. Faf has named two teams which he thinks are going to be red-hot favorites to lift the 2019 Cricket World Cup, which will be played in England and Wales.
"It is pretty clear that England and India are the two favorites," Faf said. England and India are ranked no.1 and no.2 in ICC Men's ODI team rankings. After the 2015 World Cup disaster, England have completely changed its approach towards 50-overs format. They play the game in a bold and audacious manner while the Men in Blue, who were finalists in the 2017 Champions Trophy have been consistent performers in ODI cricket for last few years.
Du Plessis downplayed South Africa's chances in the mega event. The Proteas skipper said, “When opponents look at us now, we are not the strongest team. But when a South Africa team goes to the World Cup, the chat in the media starts, even the opposition starts to chat!”
“We will go with a little bit less pressure on us as a team in terms of the expectation of winning it,” he added.
Pakistani skipper Sarfraz Ahmed has been under the pump right since he directed racist remarks at South African all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo. He was handed four-match suspension by the ICC for breaching anti-racism code.
Sarfraz Ahmed has returned back home. In his absence, Shoaib Malik has been tasked with captaining the Pakistani side.
Sarfraz targeted former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar for making personal attacks at him.
“He [Shoaib Akhtar] is attacking me personally not criticizing,” Geo TV quoted Sarfraz, as saying.
“I accepted my mistake and received the punishment. I want to thank PCB for handling this case and fulfilling requirements. I will improve myself and my performance in the future and I thank my supporters for their backing,” he added.
Akhtar had felt that Sarfraz should have been punished more severely “This [Sarfraz incident] is not acceptable as a Pakistani. In my opinion, he [Sarfraz] did this in the heat of the moment. I think he should apologize publically,” Akhtar had said in a Twitter video.
Sarfraz had taunted Andile Phehlukwayo by saying, “Hey black [man], where is your mother sitting? What prayer did you get her to say for you today?” (Abay kaalay, teri ammi aaj kahan baitheen hain? Kya parhwa ke aya hai aaj tu?). He faced flak for his inappropriate remarks on the social media. He apologized for his mistake on Twitter and followed it up by apologizing to Phehlukwayo in person.
He will lead India in the absence of regular captain Virat Kohli
Men in Blue have won 7 out of 8 matches in his captaincy
Rohit has hit 215 sixes in his ODI career
Rohit Sharma will play his 200th ODI when India take on New Zealand in the fourth ODI match of the series in Hamilton on Thursday.
He will become the 14th Indian cricketer to play 200 ODIs with great Sachin Tendulkar (463) leading the list. Among the current Indian cricketers MS Dhoni (337) and Virat Kohli (222) are the only two players who have achieved this milestone.
He will also lead India in the absence of regular captain Virat Kohli, who has been rested from the remaining matches of the ongoing tour. Men in Blue have won 7 out of 8 matches in his captaincy and will be looking to carry on with the winning momentum.
He needs just one six to become the highest six-hitter for India. Rohit has hit 215 sixes in his ODI career and shares the record with MS Dhoni.
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