With the 2019 Cricket World Cup just a few months away, the hustle and bustle regarding the ICC megaevent has taken over everyone. And that is generally the case in the World Cup year as the cricketing carnival takes place only once in four years. Teams eagerly await to stamp their authority in world cricket through the Cricket World Cup.
Team India are one of the red-hot contenders to win the title, this year. Indian cricketer, Suresh Raina feels MS Dhoni is going to be indispensable to India's chances in the 50-overs World Cup.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Raina said that the Indian wicket-keeper batsman will play a crucial role if India are to win the showpiece event.
“The amount of runs Dhoni has scored recently in Australia and New Zealand and the kind of guidance he gives to the youngsters in the team, especially the bowlers, that augurs really well for the boys. He has seen a lot of ups and downs, he has been a part of quite a few World Cups and has also been there in IPL finals and that is why he is the go-to-man for skipper Kohli,” he said.
The 2019 World Cup will commence from May 30 in England and Wales. Australia are reigning World-Cup champions but it is England and India, who are touted as the favorites to win the title.
Australia will play two T20 internationals and five ODIs against Men in Blue. Virat Kohli is part of the squads after skipping last two one-day internationals and T20 series against New Zealand.
All eyes will be on Virat Kohli, who couldn’t dominate the last few series keeping his lofty standards in mind.
The right hand batsman accumulated a century each in Tests and ODIs against Australia while he failed to reach three-figure mark in New Zealand.
Former Australian opener Matthew Hayden feels Virat will pose a tough challenge for the Aussie bowlers especially youngster Jhye Richardson.
The 22-year old pacer was impressive against the Indian skipper in the ODI matches in Australia dismissing him thrice in as many games.
However, conditions would be different in India for the fast bowler, who replace Josh Hazlewood in the squad.
“In the recent series (in Australia), Virat did have some trouble against Richardson, who played beautifully, taking Virat’s wicket thrice. But, I believe it will be a very different scenario this time around. Jhye is a young player, not with a lot of experience of playing cricket in India, so I believe Virat will be dominant in this one,” Hayden was quoted as saying by Times of India.
Former Australia skipper Steve Smith is expected to play a key role for Rajasthan Royals in the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League. The right hand batsman is currently serving one-year ban imposed on him for his role in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
With his ban coming to an end in March, he will be turning up for his IPL franchise. He is currently recovering from an elbow injury he sustained while playing in the Bangladesh Premier League.
The royals retained him for a whopping INR 12.5 crores for the 12th edition of the league, which is 66% percent more than his existing salary contact.
Moneyball, the automated salary calculation engine, has calculated his salaries over the years. He has earned INR 33.1 crores from IPL till date and stands at 65th position in the list of highest IPL earners.
In an unfortunate incident in New Zealand, one of the umpires was assaulted by players during a club match.
The incident took place during the match between Horowhenua-Kapiti club’s Paraparaumu and Weraroa teams on Sunday.
The Weraroa players were upset with one of the decisions and started punching and kicking one of the Paraparaumu players who was officiating as an umpire.
After one of the players started the physical assault, three or four players also joined him.
"If that happened on the street it would be GBH [grievous bodily harm] so how come if it happens on the field it's fine," the unnamed witness said.
"He had a third kick at him before his team pulled him off."
"I know exactly who did the kicking, everyone saw who it was."
Another unnamed witness labelled the Weraroa players' behaviour "disgusting".
“I believe his nose is broken then another three or four Levin [Weraroa] players joined in and proceeded to kick and punch him,” another unnamed witness said as quoted by Stuff.
According to NZC’s public affairs manager Richard Boock, they have initiated an investigation into the matter.
“While we are still awaiting details, NZC views any type of physical assault in cricket as repugnant and utterly unacceptable. We will await the results of the investigation before commenting further,” said Richard Boock.
Wriddhiman Saha, who last played for India last year against South Africa, is looking forward to play in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy, which will start from February 21.
Bengal will take on Sikkim in their opening match at Barabati Stadium in Cuttack and Saha is looking forward to that game. Saha's sole focus is on helping his team to perform well in the championship.
“It definitely feels great to back in the mix after an injury layoff. Firstly for a sportsperson, there is nothing like the feeling of returning to the game and I don’t feel like I’ve been away for too long, rather just a couple of weeks or so, like a short break. Right now my focus is solely on helping Bengal do well in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy,” Saha was quoted as saying in Cricket Next.
“Rishabh got his chance when I was out and just like anyone would look to grab their chance with both hands he did the same. I don’t look at him as my competition, in fact when he came to the NCA we spent a lot of time together which was nice. We hardly spoke about performances and selection.
“My job is to play to the best of my ability and ensure I contribute to the needs of my team at all times. I feel the selection matters are not in my hand. So the main aim is to do well and then let things take its own course,” he added.
Kapil Sharma has broken his silence on the sacking of Navjot Singh Sidhu from The Kapil Sharma Show. He said while he is with the Indian government on the issue of terror attack on CRPF convoy, the move to remove the former Indian cricketer from his show is not the correct way to handle things.
Speaking at an anti-drug event in Chandigarh, he further added there we need to find a solution to the issue of terrorism to prevent attacks like Pulwama in future.
DNA quoted him as saying: “Abhi Navjot Singh Sidhu ke kuch aur commitment hain isliye humare saath Archana Puran Singh shoot kar rahe hain. Maujuda waqt mein Sidhu humaare sath nahi hain. (Because of some prior commitments of Sidhu, currently Archana is shooting with us.)
“Halaaki ye bahut choti cheezein hain, ya phir propoganda hota hai jinmein iss tareeke ke baatein aati hain. Mere manna yeh hai ki kisi ko ban karna na, Navjot Singh Sidhu ko show se bahaar karna in baaton ka solution nahi hai. Ek Sthai samadhaan humein milkar dekhna hoga. (All this is propaganda. I believe banning people, sending Sidhu out of the show is not the right solution. We need to look for a permanent solution.)”
Rishabh Pant has made a special place for himself in the red-ball format. He has played nine Tests and is averaging close to 50 with two centuries to his credit. The fact that both his hundreds have come in SENA countries makes his tons extra special. The southpaw is the only Indian wicket-keeper batsman to smash centuries in England and Australia respectively. It is something that even the great MS Dhoni couldn't.
One of the most remarkable moments of Pant's career came on the second delivery he faced in Test cricket. He had smacked legspinner Adil Rashid into the stands during India’s first innings of the Third Test of the series to get off the mark. He became the first Indian to do something of that sort.
“I was nervous when I went out to bat. I was reminding myself to play according to the ball. I defended the first ball, but I saw what he [Adil Rashid] was trying to do. The second ball was a googly, and we Indian batsmen are good at reading spin. I read it from the hand, I felt like I could hit it, and I hit it,” Pant told ESPNcricinfo in an interview on what was going through his mind during that shot.
Former South African opener Herschelle Gibbs feels India and England are the top contenders for the World Cup title. The host nation is chasing their maiden World Cup title while Men in Blue have lifted the prestigious cup twice after notching up wins in 1983 and 2011.
While he named England and India as favorites but he failed to come out with two other semifinalists of the event. According to him, a lot will depend on the weather conditions in England & Wales.
"It is always wide open. The two standout contenders will be England and India. But, who is going to make the other two places for the semi-finals? It is difficult to say. A lot depends on the weather in England. The bowling attacks will all play a part (in the tournament)," the 44-year-old Gibbs said on Monday.
When asked about South Africa chances, he stated that Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock will have to play a key role but absence of a genuine all-rounder could hurt the Proteas.
"We (South Africa) are always up there irrespective of ABD. We have got Faf (Du Plessis) and Quinton de Kock. The only issue for South Africa is not having an all-rounder," said Gibbs.
MS Dhoni is followed by millions across the globe. Ahead of the T20 series against Australia, he was seen taking part in a charity football match in Mumbai.
The crowd turned up in huge numbers to see their favorite star in action. Apart from the former Indian skipper, Bollywood celebrities Dino Morea, Aparshakti Khurana, Marc Robinson also took part in the match.
Here are some pictures and videos from the occasion:
After failing to perform in 2018, the right hand batsman roared back to form in the ODI series against Australia scoring three consecutive fifties.
The right hand batsman was award Man of the Series for his clinical display in Men in Blue’s maiden bilateral ODI series triumph in Australia.
He is part of the T20 and ODI squads for the upcoming limited-overs series against Australia.
Indian tennis star Sania Mirza took to Instagram to condemn the barbaric terror attack on the convoy of CRPF security personnel. She was in utter shock after hearing the news of this tragedy and termed it as black day for India.
"I stand with the CRPF jawaans and their families, my heart goes out to them and they are our true heroes who protect our country. 14th February was a black day for India and I hope we never have to see another day like this, no amount of condolences can make any of this better," Sania Mirza said in a lengthy post on Twitter.
As many as 42 soldiers lost their lives when an explosive-laden car rammed into one of the buses carrying CRPF men. She further added that celebrities doesn't need to condemn an attack publicly to prove their patriotism.
"This post is for those people who think that as celebrities we need to 'condemn' an attack, tweet and Instagram and be all over social media to prove that we are patriotic and care about our country. Why? Cause we are celebs and some of you are frustrated individuals who have nowhere else to target your anger towards and grab every opportunity to spread more hate?
Sania continued: "I don't need to condemn an attack publicly, or come and scream from roof tops or all over social media that we are against terrorism. Of course we are against terrorism and anyone that spreads it. Any person in their right frame of mind is against terrorism and if they are not then that's a problem!"
"This day will not be forgotten and neither shall it be forgiven but yes I will stay pray for peace and you should too instead of spreading more hate. Anger is good as long as it's being channeled into something productive," added Sania.
"You are achieving nothing by trolling other people. There was no place for terrorism in this world and there never will be. Find you way to serve the nation instead of sitting and swearing and judging public figures for how many posts they have posted about the tragedy!
"Do your bit and we are doing out bit without announcing on social media! Yes that's a thing too. Prayers and peace," Sania concluded.
She was soon targeted by trolls for expressing herself. Wife of Shikhar Dhawan, Ayesha has come out in her support and even shared Sania’s post before penning down condolence message for the martyred bravehearts.
Team India are one of the most domineering sides at the moment in the world of cricket. They are ranked no.1 in ICC Test rankings while the Kohli-led side is no.2 in both ODI and T20I formats respectively. Be it any format, the Indian team are a tough nut to crack and put up a competitive show over and again. One of India's upcoming stars, Rishabh Pant disclosed the mindset that drives Virat Kohli's India when they take the field.
“Right now in this Indian team, we only play to win. Whatever the match, whatever the situation, every player, from No. 1 to 11, only thinks about how he can win the match for India. That is the most important thing for us. That we have to win it for India,” Pant said.
Rishabh Pant also revealed how Virat Kohli's words inspired him to do something special in just his second Test match at the Oval.
He said, “During that hundred in England [at The Oval], we were too far behind. You had to be careful to pick what balls you hit. In England, if you give yourself some time, you can score runs. So I was very selective at the start of the innings. Once I got used to the conditions, the runs came. He (Virat Kohli) said it is not compulsory that you attain experience after 100 Tests. Even in your second Test, you can do what nobody has ever done."
Ever since the Pulwama terror attack, the hostility between South Asian neighbors- India and Pakistan is on the rise. There have even been suggestions that India should refuse to play Pakistan in the 2019 Cricket World Cup that will commence from May 30 in England and Wales.
Harbhajan Singh had opined that the Men in Blue should not play the Men in Green in the ICC megaevent. And now Ex-BCCI secretary, Sanjay Patel has also said that country is bigger than any sport and India should not play Pakistan in the World Cup.
“How can you expect India to play Pakistan at the time we have lost so many of our brothers in these cowardly terrorist attack. I am of the firm view that India should not play Pakistan in the coming World Cup,” former BCCI secretary Patel was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
“If we play the World Cup, then it’s clear that game is bigger than the country’s image. For me, India is first and it’s not only me who has such a sentiment. Ask any Indian now, and they will be of the same view. Cricket will only take place if terrorism is stopped. I hope the current COA and BCCI takes note of it. There is always a limit to everything and this time all limits have been crossed.
“During the recent India-Pakistan board dispute, my stand was clear that we should not pay a single penny to PCB. The moment India withdraws from an ICC event, the World Cup will start falling. For me, human life is more important than sport,” Patel added.
Indian opener Smriti Mandhana has maintained her top position in the ICC ODI rankings for batswomen. She has raked in 774 rating points and is ahead of Australia pair of Ellyse Perry and Meg Lanning.
New Zealand’s Amy Satterthwaite is in 4th spot, just ahead of Indian skipper Mithali Raj.
The other Indian batswomen to feature in top 20 are Deepti Sharma and Harmanpreet Kaur, who are at 17th and 19th positions respectively.
The opening batsman was adjudged ‘Women’s Cricketer of the Year’ as well as the ‘Women’s ODI Player of the Year’ by the ICC. This is huge for Indian cricket and it will boost her confidence.
Left-handed opener Mandhana was terrific with the bat last year and won the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Award for the ‘Women’s Cricketer of the Year’ for scoring 669 runs in 12 ODI matches.
She also amassed 622 runs in 25 T20 Internationals in 2018.
Her ODI runs were scored at an average of 66.90. The talented batswoman showed her prowess for the Indian team and brought many laurels along the way. What was impressive was the strike-rate she enjoyed in T20Is. It was an impressive 130.67.
India are all set to take on Australia in the upcoming T20 series. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, the two openers, are leaving no stone unturned in their preparations for the mega showdown against the visitors.
Both of them took to Instagram to post inspirational messages and update fans about their whereabouts. In his post, Shikhar Dhawan is seen working out in the gym and wrote: “Jeet Ki Khatir bas jannon chahiye, Jisme ubaal ho vaisa Khoon chahiye, Ye Asma bhi ayega Zameen par Bas irado main jeet ki goonj chahiye.”
On the other hand, Dhawan's opening partner Rohit Sharma posted a picture in which he looks all set to hit the gym in order to prepare himself for the limited overs series against Australia.
Shikhar and Rohit have been performing exceptionally well for Men in Blue in ODIs and T20 internationals. They will have a key role to play for their team in the upcoming World Cup, which is due to be played in England & Wales.
Furious Harbhajan Singh has stated India should not play Pakistan in their World Cup match in Manchester on June 16 after the terror attack on convoy killed 40 soldiers.
According to Bhajji, Men in Blue are strong enough to make up for the points if they decide to concede their match against Pakistan.
"India should not play Pakistan in the world Cup. India are powerful enough to win the World Cup without having to play Pakistan," Harbhajan Singh told Aaj Tak.
He added: "This is a difficult time. The attack that has happened, it was unbelievable and it's very wrong. Strict action will surely be taken by the government. When it comes to cricket, I don't think we should have any relations with them otherwise they will keep treating us like this.
"I don't think we need to have any relations with Pakistan or play any cricket with them.
"I don't think India should play the World Cup match against Pakistan. Country comes first and we are all standing behind our country. Cricket or hockey or sports, it should be kept aside because this is a huge thing and repeatedly our soldiers are killed. We should stand with our country. Cricket or hockey or any sport, we don't need to play with them."
When asked what India need to do if they meet Pakistan in the semis or final of the event, he said: "We are too small to discuss what needs to be done - there are big people sitting in power who can take a call.
"What happens if we have to play Pakistan in the semi-final or final? There's plenty of time for June-July. The people in power will need what to do. But nobody can harm India. What happened in Pulwama is tragic. We are safe today only because of our defence forces," Harbhajan said.
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