Feature Cricket

IPL 2019 Preview: Consistent Chennai Super Kings start favourite

CT Contributors Updated: 15 March, 2019, 6:46 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 season starts from March 23 onwards and there is plenty of excitement building with each passing day. Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore face-off in the opener in Chennai. Defending champions CSK go into the tourney as the favourites to win the 12th edition. Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians will also be strong candidates to have their hands on the trophy.

The schedule has been revealed for the first two weeks and one expects the complete lost to come out in the coming days. Matches will be held at 8:00 PM and on double-header days, it will be be held at the normal 4:00 PM slot. The IPL 2019 Auction was held in December 2018 and the focus for several teams was to get in more uncapped players. Prior to that, we had the IPL Trade Window and majority of players were retained by the eight franchises.

The main focus of this IPL was in relation to the return of David Warner and Steve Smith. Both players will see their 12-month ban come to an end on March 29 and they will feature post that. They missed IPL 11 after the BCCI followed the sanction imposed by Cricket Australia last year. Warner and Smith are returning from elbow injuries.

Certain players were traded and many others were released. CSK look like the most complete team at the moment and they are exactly the same like last season. Mohit Sharma was a key player added in the auction and his experience will give skipper MS Dhoni the platform to build upon. CSK look complete and set to continue from where they left off.

Sunrisers Hyderabad are strong contenders and the return of Warner gives them a major boost. Warner may not be available for the entire season if he gets selected in the World Cup squad for Australia. But SRH have quality on offer across departments. Kolkata Knight Riders will depend in their young force to have a say. The freedom they will be handed is a positive sign for the eastern giants. Dinesh Karthik's side invested huge money on Carlos Brathwaite and he adds more power in the all-round base.

Mumbai Indians have a strong pace-bowling unit and there is plenty of options to choose from. They would want to start well. All eyes will be on Yuvraj Singh, who was offered a contract by the side. Delhi Capitals have plenty of excitement surrounding them. From a new name, jersey and some strong players in the mix, Shreyas Iyer's side can be the dark horses this season.

Kings XI Punjab went for an overhaul once again and one still feels many things are lacking in this side. It will take a monumental effort for R Ashwin to rally his troops. Rajasthan Royals will hope that Smith gives that solidity. They will miss the big players from England and Australia, when they leave for World Cup preparations. Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore identified several shortcomings and worked out in the window. They have plenty to offer this term after disappointments in the last two years.

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Opinion Cricket

Is Team India ready for the World Cup after sorry show against Australia?

CT Contributors Updated: 15 March, 2019, 6:37 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Team India has played some breathtaking cricket in the last few years when it comes to the 50-over format. Virat Kohli has led the side well and the team responded post the debacle in the finale of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. India have continuously won ODI series both at home and away. Only one major ODI series defeat came in between which was versus England in 2018. And now the side was beaten comfortably by Australia at home.

The 2-3 loss against the Aussies will serve as an alarm bell ahead of the ICC World Cup 2019. This was a series where India wanted to look at the squad and see the balance they get. But there are many questions that have come forward rather than solutions. India are ready for the World Cup in England and Wales, there is no doubt about that. But there is a chunk in the armour especially in the middle order.

The back-up players on the bench is another problem which could haunt the side in the World Cup. India allowed Aussies to make a comeback after going up 2-0. The common issue for India was the failure of the middle order. Ambati Rayudu flopped in three consecutive matches. Rishabh Pant, who was given a chance to show his mettle for the final two ODIs, also failed to take any charge. In the fifth ODI, his 16-run knock was forgettable as India failed to chase down 273 in Delhi.

Pant has shown that he isn't ready yet for the biggest stage. His keeping skills were poor and there is no plan in his batting. The selectors may now be prompted to drop the player altogether from their plans and rope in Dinesh Karthik instead. Karthik was unfortunately dropped for the series as the management wanted to try out Pant. Rayudu on the other hand lacks the consistency. He has been backed for a long time and the string of strong shows are missing.

Rayudu cannot be trusted at this moment. But he will still get the nod for the World Cup. So what if he fails in the first few matches? India will need to reshuffle their batting and perhaps get in someone like DK in and promote MS Dhoni at number four. Hardik Pandya will be the natural number seven and his presence will be massive as an all-rounder. But what about Vijay Shankar? He cannot give you ten overs consistently. Also the back-up all-rounder isn't a finished product and his immaturity was highlighted in the final ODI.

Shankar impressed prior to that by margins of decent displays, but there are question marks. Ravindra Jadeja's failure with the bat means he will be overlooked. India are over dependent on the top order as highlighted once again. Their middle order holes could be the Achilles' Heel in the World Cup. That could be their undoing. Virat Kohli and his side need to be mentally strong and make sure the middle order pulls up its socks.

Feature Cricket

The Skipper’s Cautious U-Turn

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 15 March, 2019, 6:28 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

A couple of months ago, there was an air of promise that things on the Indian landscape would change. The captain, relatively successful at the franchisee level in comparison to his outstanding successes at the international level, revealed that he had intentions to make sure the Indian Premier League would not take precedence over the ICC Cricket World Cup. Is he now backtracking as his words now appear to suggest?

The tour of England was unexpectedly underwhelming. Under pressure, Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, and Ravi Shastri, the Indian coach, found themselves facing a barrage of criticism after the team returned empty handed where they were expected to change the course of history. The think tank was as much under pressure to come up with answers as to finding proactive solutions for the better preparation of teams in the future.

The tour of Australia proved to be face saving in that India finally lived up to the promise they took with them to South Africa almost an entire year back. However, even in the midst of euphoria, there was another reason to cheer. Nothing inspires position action like success. It seemed the Indian skipper was finally taking cognizance of the need to strike balance between formats and tournaments and coming from a versatile player such as himself, it was expected to speak volumes as he hit a resounding note about setting priorities and team goals, Test cricket being one of them.

The Indian skipper mentioned that the Indian cricketers slated to make the squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup would be monitored and their workload managed and limited in the course of the Twenty20 commercial extravaganza staged every summer by the BCCI, namely, the IPL. Even as other cricket boards around the world have already set deadlines and dates of when their players would have to leave their respective IPL franchisees and return home for conditioning camps and training in light of the ICC Cricket World Cup that begins just days after the conclusion of the IPL, there is yet to be an official word on how the BCCI plans to approach the issue of a packed IPL season and the preparation of the Indian cricket squad for the England assignment.

More recently, passionate and energetic were the two words the Indian captain used to describe why Australia were able to hand India their first home series defeat in one day internationals since 2015 just after their debacle down under. Although India did return from down under, having successfully mounted a challenge and overcome it, the skipper himself must question why the team, which should have been on a high and in rhythm, fell short of those two key qualities he himself mentioned.

It should have perhaps set a little bit of a flutter enough to call for some decisive statements, if not action, towards approaching the IPL which is now only days away. However, in what seemed like a u-turn, the skipper put the onus back on the individual cricketers stating that they were each responsible for gearing themselves for the ICC Cricket World Cup and managing their workload in the course of the carnival and caravan that is the hectic IPL season.

Given the skipper’s proactive statements earlier, it was expected that there would be more innovative decision making that would restrict IPL exposure time for the World Cup candidates and also, have a more appropriate conditioning and training time for the team given that India will, despite their topsy-turvy results, arrive as one of the favourites to lift the cup. Given India’s past history at multi team events following the IPL, one would have thought a more cautious, deliberate approach would have been outlined. But for the moment, a dangerous status quo prevails.

News Cricket

Virender Sehwag declines BJP’s offer to contest polls

CT Contributors Updated: 15 March, 2019, 6:00 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Virender Sehwag, the former Indian opener, was offered a ticket by the BJP for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections but he has refused to accept the offer citing personal reasons, a top BJP leader said.

He, however, said that Gautam Gambhir is seriously thinking about making his entry into politics and may contest from Delhi.

The ruling party was ready to offer West Delhi seat to Sehwag, which is currently held by BJP MP Parvesh Verma but he is not ready to join politics.

He said, "Sehwag said he was not interested in politics or contesting elections."

Earlier, there were reports that he might contest on BJP ticket from Rohtak in Haryana. But Sehwag had categorically denied such rumors. "Some things never change, like this rumour. Same in 2014, and no innovation even in Rumour in 2019. Not interested then, not interested now. #BaatKhatam #5YearChallenge (sic)."

News Cricket

Yuvraj Singh trolls himself hilariously after joining Mumbai Indians camp

Staff Writer Updated: 15 March, 2019, 5:58 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Mumbai Indians will be looking to lift their fourth IPL trophy during the upcoming season. They did a decent business in the auction, roping in Yuvraj Singh and Lasith Malinga. Malinga has played for the same franchise in the past, while Yuvraj will be making his debut for the team.

He is expected to deliver for his new contingent after showing class in the preparatory camp. The veteran looked in a relaxed mood during net practice session.

Yuvraj Singh trolled himself after Mumbai Indians posted a video of him on their official Twitter handle, which read ‘Aur phir aaye Yuvraj Singh…Dhaaga khol diye’.

The 37-year-old, replying to the Mumbai Indians, tweeted, "Bhai sahab thoda tez chalo". In the video, he can be seen walking out for a practice session at slow pace.

He was a part of the Kings XI Punjab in 2018 but was released by the franchise following his woeful form with the bat. Yuvraj played eight matches for them, scoring only 65 runs.

News Cricket

After Warner, Bhuvneshwar has a special message for Sunrisers Hyderabad fans

Staff Writer Updated: 15 March, 2019, 5:56 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Sunrisers Hyderabad have started their preparations for the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League. They are reaching out to the fans through messages from cricketers.

After David Warner's message, Indian pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has touch base with fans of Sunrisers Hyderabad. In a video posted by the Hyderabad outfit, he said, "Hi guys, this is Bhuvneshwar Kumar, only few days left for our first home game and we're sure you don't want to miss all the action."

He further stated that the first 25,000 tickets for SRH's first home game are available for Rs. 500 and it can be booked from their official website.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar was in decent form in the recently concluded ODI series between India and Australia. He won the IPL title with Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2016. The pacer had picked 23 wickets during that season at an average of 21.30.

He will be the key in the bowling department for his IPL franchise. Sunrisers will travel to Kolkata to play their first match of 2019 campaign on March 24.

News Cricket

IPL 2019: Shane Warne names the winner and Player of the Tournament

Staff Writer Updated: 15 March, 2019, 5:52 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Brand ambassador of Rajasthan Royals, Shane Warne has predicted that Sanju Samson will become the Indian Premier League player of the tournament in the upcoming season. He took to Instagram to reveal the name of favorites for the IPL title.

“Great to be back in Mumbai & in the pink for the @rajasthanroyals as brand ambassador. Exciting times as there is only 2 weeks to go till our 1st game. I believe with the squad the boys have put together – we are favorites to win the #IPL this year – so get on the boys in pink ! Plus I also think that @imsanjusamson will be the player of the tournament ! Agree followers,” he wrote.

After winning the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League, Rajasthan Royals haven't been able to replicate the success. However, they have a good team this year with likes of Sanju Samson, Ajinkya Rahane, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Steve Smith ready to lead them to glory.

News Cricket

Cricket fraternity reacts to New Zealand mosque attacks

Staff Writer Updated: 15 March, 2019, 5:49 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

At least 49 people were killed in the shootings at two mosques and more than 20 people were wounded. An international cricket match between New Zealand and Bangladesh has been canceled after players from the visiting team narrowly avoided a mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch on Friday.

The Bangladesh players came within minutes of being inside one of the mosques when a gunman opened fire with an automatic rifle.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White later there had been a "joint decision" to call off the third test, which had been scheduled to start Saturday in Christchurch.

"On behalf of New Zealand Cricket heartfelt condolences to those affected," White said. "I've spoken to my counterpart at Bangladesh cricket — we agree it's inappropriate to play cricket at this time. Both teams are deeply affected.

"We are shocked and appalled ... and we are offering support to all those within the teams affected by the situation and are continuing to take advice from authorities."

Earlier, members of the Bangladesh cricket team described on social media how they narrowly avoided the mosque shooting on New Zealand's South Island.

Players and members of the team's coaching staff were reportedly on their bus, approaching the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Hagley Park when the shooting started.

Cricketers from around the world have condemned this barbaric attack on innocent souls.

News Cricket

Duminy to retire from ODIs after World Cup

CT Contributors Updated: 15 March, 2019, 5:45 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

JP Duminy has announced that he will retire from ODIs after the World Cup in England and Wales. The all-round star has played 193 ODIs for South Africa, amassing 5047 runs at an average of 37.39 and 68 wickets at an average of 45.08.

He has already retired from Tests and first class cricket. He, however, will continue playing T20 internationals. Duminy has represented his country in the last two World Cups.

"The last few months on the sidelines have given me an opportunity to re-assess my career going forward and to plot some goals I'd like to achieve in the future," Duminy said in a statement.

"While a decision like this is never easy, I also feel that it is the right time for me to pass on the baton. I will still be available to play international and domestic T20 cricket, but would also like to invest more time towards my growing family, who are my number one priority," the statement added.

"I have been privileged to live out my dream playing a sport I love, and I am forever grateful for the support I have received from my teammates, coaches, family, friends, and fans throughout the years," it further said.

Duminy is part of the squad which is playing against Sri Lanka in the ongoing ODI series. He will play his final ODI on his home soil when the two teams lock horns in the fifth ODI of the series on Saturday.

News Cricket

Anil Kumble unhappy with Kohli-Shastri’s changing and chopping policy in ODIs

CT Contributors Updated: 15 March, 2019, 5:42 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former India skipper and head coach Anil Kumble has questioned Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri's chopping and changing policy in the ODIs. He also stated that MS Dhoni should bat at number 4 in the World Cup.

“If you look back at the last couple of years of success that the Indian team has had, it has been mainly due to the fact that the top three have performed consistently, and it still remains so. In a 50-over game, you want your top three to contribute. For me, I still believe MS Dhoni should bat at 4. (Numbers) 5, 6 and 7 is something that you need to start thinking about and that’s where I felt that there was too much chopping, changing and trying to figure out who will fit in into that 4, 5 or 6 in that middle order other than MS Dhoni. That to me has made it a little more unsettling for us, watching from outside,” Kumble told Cricket Next.

“What if the top three don’t fire in an important game, say a semi-final or a final? Then you need the back-ups to stand up and do it and that’s where I believe that the middle order hasn’t been given enough opportunities leading up to the World Cup and haven’t been consistent with the players that have been selected in that middle order.

So, I’d like to probably continue that and like I said, for me the top four will win you 70-80% of matches and ideally your top four need to have that quality and that’s why I’m keen that someone like MS Dhoni bats at four and manages the middle order, rather than coming in where he has to not just manage the middle order but also keep up with the run chase, that’s something I would want to see,” said Kumble.

Kumble further added that players haven't been enough opportunities to prove themselves in the middle order.

News Cricket

Rohit defends Real Madrid after their shock elimination from UEFA Champions League

CT Contributors Updated: 15 March, 2019, 5:39 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Rohit Sharma is an ardent of Real Madrid, who was not happy with the President of the club after Cristiano Ronaldo's departure to Juventus. Meanwhile, He has once again defended his favorite club after their shock exit from the Champions League following defeat at the hands of Ajax.

Rohit took to Twitter to showcase what Real Madrid have achieved in the last few years and why they are an absolute powerhouse in European football.

He also added that this is the first time in the last 22 years of the competition that Real Madrid haven't made it to last eight of the tournament.

“First time in 22 years @realmadrid has failed to qualify for @ChampionsLeague shows how dominant & consistent they have been in Europe. Any team can have one bad year, it’s no big deal. They are still a powerhouse,” wrote Rohit Sharma.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli condemns terror attack on mosques in Christchurch

CT Contributors Updated: 15 March, 2019, 3:21 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Virat Kohli is in shock after hearing the news of terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch. The gunman killed 49 people while injuring several others during Friday prayers. The Bangladesh team was about to reach one of the mosques to offer players but fortunately they escaped unhurt.

The third Test match between New Zealand and Bangladesh have been canceled. "They were on the bus, which was just pulling up to the mosque when the shooting begun," Mario Villavarayen, the team's strength and conditioning coach, told Reuters via Twitter. "They are at the ground, they are shaken but good."

Virat took to Twitter to offer condolences to those who have been impacted by this cowardly attack. "Shocking and tragic. My heart goes out to the ones affected by this cowardly act at Christchurch. Thoughts with the Bangladesh team as well, stay safe. 🙏🏻"

Bangladesh players had to go through Hagley Park to the cricket ground in order to prevent themselves from getting hurt. "All our players are now safe in their hotel which has been cordoned off," the spokesman said. "We have advised the players not to step out," a Bangladesh Cricket Board spokesperson said. "Importantly, our players are safe."

News Cricket

Watch: MS Dhoni issues warning to Virat Kohli ahead of IPL

CT Contributors Updated: 15 March, 2019, 2:57 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli are all set to lock horns with their IPL franchises Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore taking on each other in the first game of the tournament in Chennai on March 23.

In a latest IPL advertisement, the duo can be seen challenging each other ahead of the tournament. Both RCB and CSK have massive fan following because of Virat and Dhoni and the advertisement shows the tussle between the followers.

The tussle is being enjoyed by both skippers from a rooftop. Dhoni lands a major verbal punch by telling Virat don't be late for their opening match of the season.

CSK won the title in 2018 after making their first appearance in two years, while Virat Kohli's RCB are yet to win the IPL title.

The governing body of the league had announced the schedule for the first two weeks on February 19.

News Cricket

Bad news for Indian cricket! Police files charge sheet against Mohammed Shami

Harshit Anand Updated: 15 March, 2019, 12:45 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian pacer, Mohammed Shami is in trouble again as Kolkata police have filed a charge sheet against him. Mohammed Shami has been charged under IPC 498A (dowry harassment) and 354A (sexual harassment).  Police sources said around 25-30 people had recorded their statements as witnesses. Last year, Shami's wife had put allegations of harassment for dowry on him.

“Shami has been charged under section 498A (torture for dowry). His brother Hasib Ahmad has been charged under section 498A and 354A (Sexual harassment),” said a police officer.

The Indian paceman has also been summoned by the court to be present during the next hearing of the case which will take place on June 22. Notably, the 2019 Cricket World Cup commences from May 30 and that means the hearing date will be amid the ICC showpiece event. However, Shami is likely to board the flight to England with the Indian cricket team for the World Cup. 

News Cricket

Huge Setback for BCCI, Supreme Court lifts life ban on Sreesanth  

Staff Writer Updated: 15 March, 2019, 12:20 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India's apex judicial body, Supreme Court on Friday lifted life ban on Indian cricketer, S Sreesanth. The disciplinary committee of BCCI had imposed a life ban on the Indian speedster for his alleged involvement in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal, which shook the Indian cricket and unearthed deep dark secrets of the cash-rich league that takes place annually in India.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and KM Joseph has asked BCCI to reconsider the quantum of punishment within three months in regards to Sreesanth's case.

The top court, however, maintained that its verdict will have no bearing on the criminal proceedings pending against the controversial Indian seamer in the Delhi High Court, where the Delhi Police had challenged a trial court's order which had discharged Sreesanth from the 2013 IPL spot-fixing case.

Sreesanth was heard in the Supreme Court after he had filed a plea to challenge the decision of a division bench of the Kerala High Court which had restored the life ban imposed on the 36 years old by BCCI.