Feature Cricket

Indian cricket’s supreme artist turns 70

Partab Ramchand Updated: 12 February, 2019, 11:00 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Viswanath appeared on the scene when Indian cricket was in desperate need of someone like him
  • Viswanath’s place in the pantheon of the great Indian batting stars is secure and unchallenged
  • He was held in awe by his opponents and was worshipped like a demigod by his countless fans

Gundappa Ranganath Viswanath turns 70 on Tuesday and while it is an occasion to wish the supreme artist of Indian cricket a very happy birthday it will also be relevant to remember his immeasurable contribution to Indian cricket.

Viswanath appeared on the scene when Indian cricket was in desperate need of someone like him. The Indian batting order had little solidity, consisting of a couple of swashbucklers and a few aged artisans. What was needed was the presence of a true artist. The batting was becoming increasing plebeian with hardly any sparkle. And then came this pocket sized wonder from Mysore to brighten up the Indian cricket horizon. From then on, almost every day was like Diwali.

Viswanath’s place in the pantheon of the great Indian batting stars is secure and unchallenged. Time has no doubt lengthened the list of great Indian batsmen but the stature of GRV remains undiminished. His gifts were varied and prodigious. He had marvelous eyesight and remarkably quick reflexes and this enabled him to play the ball that much early. He was held in awe by his opponents and was worshipped like a demigod by his countless fans. He had the prettiest of strokes. The bat in his hands was a wand through which he wove a magic spell that left bowlers and fieldsmen bewitched, bewildered and breathless. Power was not the essence of his batting, but timing was. He was always a great favourite with the crowd, who cheered him loud and long every time he came to the wicket, for they knew that while he was at the crease, they would witness batting in its highest art form. He was always watched with more than just keen interest. Even a defensive stroke - normally a dull thud of bat against ball – was a thing of beauty and grace when he played it. Seeing him execute some of his shots, which were the epitome of elegance, one was reminded of the work of sculptors, which is the work of perfection. While the square drive and the square cut were predominant in his repertoire, he was also a daring hooker and had the most attractive leg glance one could hope to see.

Viswanath appeared on the first class scene about the same time as Sunil Gavaskar. He made his Test debut a season before Gavaskar. Viswanath was just a few months older and the careers ran parallel. Throughout the seventies and till the early eighties, the two were the batting kingpins. It was Indian cricket’s good fortune that for a full dozen years the artisan and the artist were both around for it was a combination that spelt disaster for the best bowlers all around the world.

At the time he played his last Test in 1983, Viswanath’s run tally (6080) was next only to Gavaskar’s. His 14 hundreds too were second only to Gavaskar. As is well known, when Viswanath got a hundred, India never lost a match. It helped in a victory four times and on ten occasions, his ton helped India to draw the match. Perhaps no other single statistic can adequately convey his value to the side during his long career. Of course his sportsmanship spirit is legendary and he was one of the very few gentleman cricketers. Along with his ethereal batting this was his legacy to Indian cricket.

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News Cricket

Refusal to play Pakistan in World Championship could cost India ICC World Cup 2021 spot: Report

Staff Writer Updated: 12 February, 2019, 10:54 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The bilateral cricketing ties between India and Pakistan have come to a halt for some time now. Due to the political tensions between the South Asian neighbors, the cricket teams from India and Pakistan have stopped taking on each other except for the ICC megaevents like World Cup, T20 World Cup, and Champions Trophy.

In the ongoing ICC Women's World Championship, India's refusal to play arch-rivals Pakistan might well cost them a direct qualification spot in the 2021 ICC World Cup.

As per the tournament's format, eight teams will participate in the event. The hosts (New Zealand) and top four teams will earn direct qualification into the 2021 ICC World Cup.

Pakistan are ranked fourth while the Indian team is occupying the no.3 spot in the ongoing ICC Women's World Championship. Both have 12 points each but the Women in Blue have a better net run-rate. If the Indian side decides against playing against Pakistan, they will lose six points, and the same number of points will be added to Pakistan's tally.

News Football

Dortmund captain Marco Reus out of trip to Tottenham

AP Updated: 12 February, 2019, 10:46 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Marco Reus will miss the side's Champions League round-of-16, first-leg tie at Tottenham
  • Reus has been Dortmund's best player this season, scoring 13 goals
  • He missed the side's 3-3 draw with Hoffenheim

Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus will miss the side's Champions League round-of-16, first-leg tie at Tottenham on Wednesday due to a thigh injury.

Club official Sebastian Kehl, who liaises with the players, says, "We would of course have liked to have him in London, alone because his presence is a bit intimidating for the opponent. But we'll compensate for his absence."

Reus has been Dortmund's best player this season, scoring 13 goals and setting up nine more in 19 Bundesliga games, but he injured a thigh muscle last Tuesday in a German Cup loss.

He missed the side's 3-3 draw with Hoffenheim on Saturday and it's unclear if he will return in time for the next league game at Nuremberg in a week.

The 18-year-old Jadon Sancho, who starred in Reus' absence against Hoffenheim, will be expected to fill in again on his return to London.

News Football

Juventus sign Aaron Ramsey from Arsenal from next season

AP Updated: 12 February, 2019, 10:39 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Aaron Ramsey will leave English Premier League club Arsenal to join Italian champion Juventus for next season.

Juventus says Ramsey will join in July on a four-year contract and that registering the midfielder will incur costs of 3.7 million euros ($4 million).

Ramsey has been at Arsenal since 2008 and his contract expires at the end of the season, allowing him to secure his move in advance to Italy.

News F1

IndyCar drivers cheering Robert Wickens recovery

AP Updated: 12 February, 2019, 10:32 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

IndyCar drivers are watching Robert Wickens' determined recovery from a horrific crash last season and cheering him on in hopes he will be able to return to racing.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash last August at Pocono Raceway. He has been updating his recovery with videos on social media during his rehabilitation. Wickens has vowed to return to racing.

"I firmly believe he will do it," said James Hinchcliffe, Wickens' Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsport teammate and a fellow Canadian. "He's driven as all get-out. He's pushing himself harder than he probably should be. We are excited to see him back on the racetrack as soon as possible."

Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has a two-car driver lineup this season with Hinchcliffe and new driver Marcus Ericsson, though the team has made it clear a seat is available should Wickens return this season.

Wickens' car sailed into the fence at Pocono and he suffered a thoracic spinal fracture, spinal cord injury, neck fracture, tibia and fibula fractures to both legs, fractures in both hands, a fractured right forearm, a fractured elbow, four fractured ribs and a pulmonary contusion.

"There's a lot of unknowns but he's giving it his best shot and that's pretty inspiring," Dale Coyne Racing's Sebastien Bourdais said Monday at IndyCar media day.

Hinchcliffe survived a violent crash in 2015 when he was impaled by a piece of his car's suspension when his car broke apart in a practice session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He said that crash and Wickens' crash never made him second-guess his decision to race.

"We're wired differently. We're wired wrong. It never once made me pause and consider my own career," Hinchcliffe said.

News Football

Refugee footballer freed by Thailand returns to Australia

AP Updated: 12 February, 2019, 10:24 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • A refugee soccer player thanked Australians on his return home
  • Hundreds of supporters carrying welcome signs were waiting at Melbourne Airport
  • Thailand had come under great pressure from Australia's government

A refugee soccer player thanked Australians on his return home hours after the threat of extradition to Bahrain was lifted and three months after he was detained in Thailand.

Hundreds of supporters carrying welcome signs and singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" were waiting at Melbourne Airport when Hakeem al-Araibi arrived on a commercial flight direct from Bangkok.

"I would like to say thanks to Australia," Al-Araibi told the cheering crowd. "It's amazing to see all of the people here and all of the Australian people and all of the media who supported me."

Thailand had come under great pressure from Australia's government, sporting bodies and human rights groups to send Hakeem al-Araibi back to Australia, where he has refugee status and plays semi-professional soccer.

Former Australia national team captain Craig Foster, who has been leading the campaign for al-Araibi's release, said he could not sleep until he received word from the Australian embassy in Bangkok that the 25-year-old's flight had left.

Foster was by al-Araibi's side with an arm around the footballer as they faced the crowd.

"So this is the man, probably the most famous young man in Australia right now," Foster said. "Something of this magnitude doesn't happen without an incredible team behind, and there's been an amazing coalition of people, right from around the world."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who wrote twice to his Thai counterpart Prayuth Chan-ocha in a bid to secure al-Araibi's freedom, thanked Australians as well as Thai authorities.

"I want to thank all Australians for their support in achieving this outcome," Morrison tweeted.

"We are grateful to the Thai government and thank them for the way they have engaged with us to enable Hakeem to return to Australia," he added.

He was detained at the request of Bahrain relayed through Interpol upon his arrival in Bangkok in November while on a honeymoon with his wife.

Thailand's foreign ministry said last week that al-Araibi was detained because Australian authorities had forwarded them an Interpol Red Notice that Bahrain was seeking his arrest. Australian police acknowledged doing so, but there have been questions raised about why the Red Notice appeared to have been issued just before al-Araibi departed, and whether Bahraini authorities had been tipped off about his travel plans.

With al-Araibi now free, attention has quickly shifted to who is to blame for his predicament in Thailand.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said senators will quiz Australian bureaucrats at committee hearings next week about why the system had failed al-Araibi.

Videos Cricket

Watch: Virat Kohli is a big player, I am not even close to him, says Babar Azam

Staff Writer Updated: 11 February, 2019, 5:30 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Babar Azam has been compared with Virat Kohli on number of occasions. There is no doubt he is one of the most improved players and is scoring runs across formats but he has a lot to achieve to even come close to Virat.

Babar Azam has turned down all comparisons with the Indian legend. In a session ahead of the Pakistan Super League, he praised the Indian captain for his superlative performance in international cricket.

“Whenever you hear, people compare me with Virat Kohli. I think he is a very big player, I am not even close to him. I have just started while he has achieved a lot. I have to achieve and if I perform like that you can compare but not now,” he said.

News Cricket

Twitter calls Dinesh Karthik's refusal to take single in final over the "stupidest" thing

Harshit Anand Updated: 11 February, 2019, 5:20 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian middle-order batsman, Dinesh Karthik courted controversy in the T20I series-decider against New Zealand when he denied an easy single to all-rounder, Krunal Pandya on the third ball of the final over of India's chase of 213 runs.

The Men in Blue lost the Hamilton T20I by four runs. New Zealand had scored 212 runs batting first on the back of a blistering fifty by the Kiwi opener, Colin Munro.

Take a look at how Twitter reacted to Dinesh Karthik's bizarre decision:

The Men in Blue were in the chase till the last ball of the game. Vijay Shankar top-scored with 43 runs off 28 balls while the likes of Dinesh Karthik (33 off 16 balls), Rishabh Pant (28 off 12 balls), Krunal Pandya (26 off 13 balls), and Hardik Pandya (21 off 11 balls) played excellent cameos. Rohit Sharma was a big disappointment as he batted sluggishly to score 38 off 32 deliveries.

News Cricket

Sourav Ganguly differs from Ravi Shastri, says No. 3 is best batting position for Virat Kohli

Staff Writer Updated: 11 February, 2019, 5:12 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly is not convinced with Ravi Shastri's idea of changing Virat Kohli’s batting order keeping the upcoming World Cup in mind. The Indian head coach, in an interview to Cricbuzz, had stated about the importance and need of bringing Virat Kohli at No. 4 in the showpiece event of the fifty-over game.

"Virat Kohli will be coming back in the series to play at No.3. I was reading in the papers that Ravi [Shastri] wants him to play at No.4 but I don't know who will play at No.3 then. Maybe Ambati Rayudu will play at No.3 with Kohli at No.4 but I don't think that it is the right move because Kohli at No.3 is a huge player and this is India's strength in ODIs -- Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli," Ganguly said in IndiaTV's show Cricket ki Baat on Sunday.

"So, if these are your top four batsmen and then MS Dhoni comes with Kedar Jadhav at No.6 and Hardik Pandya at No.7. Dinesh Karthik will also be there and India should undoubtedly play Rishabh Pant in these five ODIs and play in the top-order and we can see if he is your match-winner at No.6 because Pant as a batsman can win you matches. So, giving him chances will be really important," he added.

Shastri had told Cricbuzz that India can play Kohli at No.4 if the situation demands.

"The good thing about this Indian top-three is we can separate them if conditions and situations demand. Someone like Virat Kohli can go to number four, and we can put a good number three to bring more balance to the batting line-up. That's flexibility for you, and for big tournaments like the World Cup, you have to be flexible to see what's the best balance for the side. So we will decide that (accordingly in England)," Shastri had said.

"Yes, maybe Rayudu, or someone else, could bat at number three, and Kohli comes in at number four. We wouldn't want to disturb the opening combination. Separating the top-three could make the batting stronger.

"But we will assess that on seeing conditions in England. You don't want to be 18-3 or 16-4 in a big tournament. I don't care about bilateral ODIs, but why should I lose my best batsman early in a World Cup match (if the conditions are bowler friendly)?," he had added.

News Cricket

'Healthy headache' Pant is in contention for World Cup berth 

Staff Writer Updated: 11 February, 2019, 4:34 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India’s chairman of selectors MSK Prasad has stated Rishabh Pant, Vijay Shankar and Ajinkya Rahane are in contention to be part of World Cup squad. He said barring the one odd position, they have identified the core group and have zeroed on the players who are sure shot to travel to England & Wales.

He labeled Pant as a healthy headache. “Undoubtedly he (Pant) is in contention,” Prasad said in an interview to ESPNCricinfo. “A healthy headache. The progression of Rishabh in the last one year is phenomenal across the formats. What we actually felt is he needs a bit of maturity now, gain more experience. That is reason we have included him in India A series wherever possible.”

He also lauded Rahane for his improved performance in domestic cricket. "In domestic cricket he has been in form," Prasad said. "He is very much in contention for the World Cup."

Prasad is mighty pleased with the way Vijay Shankar has performed in New Zealand.

"In whatever opportunities he has got, Vijay Shankar has shown the skillsets required at this level. We have been grooming him through India A tours in the last two years. But we will have to see where he can fit in the dynamics of this team," Prasad said.

News Cricket

Pat Cummins claims the Allan Border Medal, Nathan Lyon and Marcus Stonis also bag top honors

Harshit Anand Updated: 11 February, 2019, 4:21 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Pat Cummins has been brilliant since his comeback to the senior team
  • Nathan Lyon was also awarded for his consistency
  • Youngster Marcus Stoinis has been creating ripples in ODIs and has been rightly honored

Australia's star fast bowler, Pat Cummins was named the winner of the 2019 Allan Border Medal at the annual Australian Cricket Awards presented in Melbourne. The sensational pacer is now part of an elite club of former Border Medal winners that includes some big names Steve Waugh, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, and David Warner.

Off-spinner, Nathan Lyon has been named Australia’s Test Player of the Year. Nathan Lyon (25 votes) defeated Pat Cummins (22 votes), Usman Khawaja (17) and Tim Paine (nine) in the race to be honored with the coveted prize.

During the 10 Tests that spanned the voting period, the veteran Australian spinner scalped 49 wickets at 34.70.

Australian all-rounder, Marcus Stoinis won Men’s ODI title. He is the first seam-bowling all-rounder to win this award since Shane Watson.

Matthew Wade was adjudged the Men's Domestic Player of the Year while explosive batsman, Glenn Maxwell was given Men's T20 Player of the Year award.

Videos Cricket

Watch: Ashok Dinda suffers nasty injury after being hit on forehead

Staff Writer Updated: 11 February, 2019, 4:15 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Bengal and Indian pacer Ashok Dinda was hit on the forehead while attempting to take a return catch during practice match at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

The ball was hit hard by Birender Vivek and Dinda decided to go for caught and bowled on his follow through but he couldn’t grabbed the cherry and was hit on the forehead.

He immediately went down on the ground with physios rushing out for assistance.

He got up after few minutes and even completed his over. He, however, left the ground soon after and was taken to Nightingale Hospital where a CT scan was performed to know the exact nature of the injury.

“Dinda looked fine as he completed the over before returning back to the dressing room. As a precautionary measure, he was taken for scans. There is nothing alarming but he has been advised two days of rest,” a Cricket Association of Bengal official told PTI.

News Cricket

Former Indian cricketer Amit Bhandari attacked with hockey sticks and rods

Staff Writer Updated: 11 February, 2019, 3:56 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Indian cricketer and chairman of the DDCA senior selection committee, Amit Bhandari was attacked by a group of men during the trials for the Under-23 team at St Stephen's ground.

He was hit on his head and ear with hockey sticks and roads and was taken to the nearby hospital by his colleague Sukhvinder Singh.

The unidentified men fled the spot after the incident. Rajat Sharma, the president of Delhi & Districts Cricket Association told PTI that miscreants will not be spared.

"We are trying to procure all details of the incident. As far as I have come to know, it is regarding one disgruntled player, who didn't make it to the probables list for the National U-23 tournament.

"The SHO from the local police station has reached the Stephen's ground and I have personally spoken to the Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik. The guilty will not go unpunished. I promise exemplary action against whoever is found involved in this misdeed. We will register an FIR," Sharma said.

Shankar Saini, who is the manager of Delhi's senior and U-23 teams, shed the light on whole incident.

"I was having my meal along with a colleague inside the tent and Bhandari along with other selectors and senior team coach Mithun Manhas was watching the probables play a trial match.

"A couple of men first came and went up to Bhandari. There were heated exchanges between Bhandari and the two men. They left and before we could gather our thoughts, suddenly some 15 men armed with hockey sticks, rods and cycle chains came charging," Saini said.

"When the other boys attending the trials along with us rushed to save Bhandari, they started threatening us and one of them said, "Don't get into this or else we will shoot you."

"They hit Bhandari with hockey sticks and rods and he sustained head injury," the former Delhi seamer added.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli drops out of top 15 in latest ICC batting rankings

Staff Writer Updated: 11 February, 2019, 3:48 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The Indian skipper, Virat Kohli, who missed the three-match T20I series against New Zealand has dropped four places and is presently ranked 19th in the latest ICC T20I batting rankings.

India's chinaman spinner, Kuldeep Yadav, who featured only in the last T20I against the Black Caps has moved up to a career-best second position in the latest ICC T20I rankings. Kuldeep Yadav was India's stand-out bowler in the T20I series-decider, which the Men in Blue lost narrowly. The wrist-spinner ended up with figures of 2/26.

Rohit Sharma swapped three places with out-of-favor KL Rahul. Rohit Sharma is now ranked seventh in the batting rankings, which is headed by Pakistani batsman, Babar Azam.

Indian all-rounder Krunal Pandya moved up 39 places to a career-best 58th in the ICC T20I bowling rankings.

News Cricket

Steven Smith and David Warner may feature in last two ODIs against Pakistan

Staff Writer Updated: 11 February, 2019, 3:42 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The banned duo of David Warner and Steve Smith will be eligible for national team again on March 29. The same day, Australia will take on Pakistan in Dubai in the fourth ODI of a five-match series.

Smith and Warner, who were banned for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa, are currently recovering from their respective elbow injuries.

The five match series will be held from March 22-31 and there is a possibility of these two being called up for the last two ODI against the hosts.

Smith's injury was of more serious nature and he is expected to be in elbow brace until the end of February.

Smith's manager, Warren Craig of Turning Point Management, had stated the surgery of the former skipper went well.

"Until the brace comes off we don't know for sure but all current opinion is that he'll then have about three and a half weeks (before being ready to play)," Craig told cricket.com.au in early February.

"The intent is that he will play in the IPL and then the World Cup and then the Ashes."