Opinion Cricket

Is Ishant Sharma the best Indian pacer in overseas conditions?

CT Contributor Updated: 4 September, 2019, 11:08 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Indian Test supremo Ishant Sharma has been in the circuit for more than a decade now. The lanky pacer has been a consistent feature in the Indian Test team and is just eight matches away from completing 100 Tests. That's quite a remarkable feat by an Indian pacer. What Ishant brings is stability and longevity. He knows his art and sticks to simplicity. That is a strong factor for someone like Ishant. Away from home, the Indian pacer is the most successful bowler after surpassing Kapil Dev's tally. Ishant has 158 overseas wickets outside the subcontinent.

His performances in SENA and West Indies have been quite remarkable. Ishant did well for India in Windies in the recently concluded Test series. India won the series 2-0 and the strike bowler impressed with his consistency. In 9 Tests in the Caribbean, Ishant has amassed 41 scalps at an average of 18.60 with three five-wicket hauls. This is a strong return. What Ishant has found back is his swagger and the maturity. He had somehow missed the plot of taking regular wickets in the middle of his career. But since the last 1-2 years, he has shaped things up.

Ishant's ability to be a support cast to wicket-taking regulars Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami has helped the side. He can tie down batsmen and build the pressure. That in turn helps someone like a Bumrah to come and attack. If India's success in Tests at the current juncture can be highlighted, it's the work of pacers that has truly rejuvenated the side. This make things easier for someone like a Virat Kohli. With the overall impact Ishant brings, he is definitely up there in the list.

One may argue that Bumrah with his 60-plus wickets since the start of 2018 is India's best overseas bowler. Bumrah has taken all his wickets outside the subcontinent so far and hasn't played a Test at home. Bumrah is averaging below 20 in his bowling stint so far in Tests. But what helps someone like a Bumrah is the pressure created by Ishant. He has been a long-serving agent of Indian Test cricket and deserves all the plaudits for his contribution. It's safe to say, Ishant is the best bowler overseas.

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News Cricket

I got a bit of motivation from T20 World Cup win in Mohali – Virat Kohli

Staff Writer Updated: 19 September, 2019, 12:50 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Virat Kohli is arguably the best batsman at the moment. He played one of the best knocks in T20 international cricket in Mohali during the T20 World Cup in 2016 when he single-handedly won the game against Australia. The right hand batsman scored an unbeaten 82 off just 51 balls, hitting 9 fours and 2 sixes in the process.

He was reminded of that knock as he led India to another emphatic win over South Africa in the second T20I of a three-match series. Virat amassed an unbeaten 72 from 52 balls as Men in Blue successfully chased down 150 runs.

Speaking at the post match presentation ceremony after winning the Man of the Match award, Virat Kohli revealed he got a bit of motivation from that during India’s triumph against South Africa.

"You reminded me of the best game of my T20 career. I got a bit of motivation from that. When you play like that and win a game for your team, it is always a good feeling. That night [2016 T20 World Cup match against Australia) was a revelation of how fit you can be on a cricket field," Kohli told Star Sports host Sanjay Manjrekar.

News Cricket

Shahid Afridi hails Virat Kohli, calls him a great player

Staff Writer Updated: 19 September, 2019, 12:31 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi lauded Indian skipper Virat Kohli after his another match winning performance in international cricket. The right-hand batsman became the only batsman to have his batting average above 50 across formats.

Chasing 150 for victory, Virat Kohli scored an unbeaten 72 off 52 balls. With his 22nd fifty in T20 internationals, he surpassed Rohit Sharma to become the batsman with most runs in this format.

Shahid Afridi retweeted ICC's tweet and captioned it: "Congratulations @imVkohli You are a great player indeed, wish you continued success, keep entertaining cricket fans all around the world."

Earlier, India won the toss and put South Africa in to bat. The visitors handed T20 debuts to Fortuin, Temba Bavuma, and Anrich Nortje.

New Proteas' skipper Quinton de Kock (52 off 37 balls) started his reign with a third T20 half-century, giving his side a quick start. But India put on the brakes quickly as South Africa only managed 39 runs from the six powerplay overs, with Deepak Chahar removing Reeza Hendricks (6) cheaply.

Bavuma added 57 runs with the captain for the second wicket and steadying the South African ship after the latter's dismissal in the 12th over. Kohli took a diving catch to his left at mid-off to dismiss his counterpart off Navdeep Saini (1-34) and that breakthrough sucked out momentum from the Proteas' innings.

They lost wickets at regular intervals thereafter and never looked like making a charge in the final overs despite a 15-ball cameo from Miller (18).

News Cricket

Bring back MS Dhoni, says fans after Rishabh Pant's failure with the bat

Staff Writer Updated: 19 September, 2019, 12:19 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Rishabh Pant was expected to score heavily in the ongoing T20 series against South Africa but he failed to get going in the second T20 international, scoring just 4 runs. The fans were not happy with his display and want MS Dhoni to return.

He came out to bat after Shikhar Dhawan's dismissal but his habit of playing too many shots resulted in his downfall. With Virat Kohli standing at the other end, Pant had all the time in the world to get himself in but he went for a big one, offering a simple catch to Tabraiz Shamsi.

Virat Kohli scored 72 runs off 52 balls as India coasted to a seven-wicket win over South Africa in the second Twenty20 on Wednesday.

Chasing 150, Kohli eased his way to a 22nd half-century in T20 cricket as India won with an over to spare. Shikhar Dhawan contributed 40 off 31 balls after South Africa was restricted to 149-5.

Dhawan and Rohit Sharma (12) gave the hosts a fiery start and put on 33 off 23 balls. Andile Phehlukwayo (1-20) trapped Sharma lbw and broke the flow of runs.

Kohli and Dhawan then came together to put on 61 runs for the second wicket as India was coasting at the halfway mark of their innings. But South Africa struck twice in the space of 13 balls to cause a minor wobble.

Kohli, though, quickly dashed any South African hopes of an unlikely victory. He reached his half-century off 40 balls and then shifted gears with ease.

In doing so, he went atop the list of run scorers in international T20 cricket with 2,440 runs, six ahead of compatriot Sharma (2434).

Shreyas Iyer (16 not out) played the ideal foil to his skipper as India took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Feature Cricket

England can look back at the season with pride and satisfaction

Partab Ramchand Updated: 19 September, 2019, 10:37 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Disappointment at not being able to regain the Ashes aside England can look back with pride and a sense of satisfaction at the season just concluded. If they did not win back the urn they at least saw to it that Australia did not win an Ashes series in England since 2001. More famously however they won the World Cup for the first time after 44 years and 12 attempts. It does not matter if the triumph was achieved through controversial means. It was Eoin Morgan and the England team that held the cup aloft at the end of it all.

How much of the credit should go to the men behind the scenes notably Andrew Strauss and Trevor Bayliss is a moot point. The fact however remains that planning is one thing, execution quite another and the players deserve full credit for almost pulling off a double triumph.

Unlike in previous competitions England were the favourites going into the World Cup partly because of home advantage and the No 1 ranking but more importantly because of their record going into the tournament. They also appeared to have the right balance in the team personnel – explosive hitters, strokeplaying batsmen, a sheet anchor in Joe Root, a couple of star all-rounders and an incisive pace attack. And yet despite all this they were in some danger of not making the semifinals before they recovered in the nick of time, made the grade and then went on to win the trophy after a final and a super over against New Zealand that has been well documented.

Going into the Ashes contest it was clear that England and Australia were evenly matched going not just by one team being ranked No 4 and the other ranked No 5 but also on team personnel. And not unexpectedly the series ended 2-2, the first drawn Ashes contest in 47 years. And while Steve Smith was clearly the man of the series with his astounding run of tall scores the single most important innings in the series was played by Ben Stokes.

There were plenty of positives that England could take away from the season, the most important being that they didn’t miss James Anderson in the Test series with Jofra Archer stepping in admirably. The discovery of Archer was timely as Anderson at 37 cannot go on for much longer.

Other encouraging aspects were Jack Leach emerging as an able spinner and Stuart Broad still having plenty of fire in his bowling. Stokes remains their star all-rounder with Chris Woakes not far behind though there must be a question mark over Moeen Ali’s future as far as his England place is concerned. The batting did present problems though things improved towards the end of the season and that is one department the think tank will have to look at.

News Cricket

It is great to get a winning start to the home season - Shikhar Dhawan

AP Updated: 19 September, 2019, 10:09 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Virat Kohli scored 72 runs off 52 balls as India coasted to a seven-wicket win over South Africa in the second Twenty20.

Chasing 150, Kohli eased his way to a 22nd half-century in T20 cricket as India won with an over to spare. Shikhar Dhawan contributed 40 off 31 balls after South Africa was restricted to 149-5.

Dhawan and Rohit Sharma (12) gave the hosts a fiery start and put on 33 off 23 balls. Andile Phehlukwayo (1-20) trapped Sharma lbw and broke the flow of runs.

Kohli and Dhawan then came together to put on 61 runs for the second wicket as India was coasting at the halfway mark of their innings. But South Africa struck twice in the space of 13 balls to cause a minor wobble.

David Miller pulled off a stunning one-handed diving catch to his left at long on to leave Dhawan stunned. The left-hander was dismissed off Tabraiz Shamsi (1-19) in the 12th over.

An over later, Rishabh Pant (4) carelessly pulled Bjorn Fortuin (1-32) straight to short fine leg, resulting in yet another cheap dismissal.

"Miller's catch was unbelievable. (But) It is great to get a winning start to the home season," Dhawan said.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli surpasses Rohit Sharma to become leading scorer in T20 internationals

AP Updated: 19 September, 2019, 10:03 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Virat Kohli dashed any South African hopes of an unlikely victory. He reached his half-century off 40 balls and then shifted gears with ease.

In doing so, he went atop the list of run scorers in international T20 cricket with 2,440 runs, six ahead of compatriot Sharma (2434).

Shreyas Iyer (16 not out) played the ideal foil to his skipper as India took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

India had won the toss and put South Africa in to bat. The visitors handed T20 debuts to Fortuin, Temba Bavuma, and Anrich Nortje.

New Proteas' skipper Quinton de Kock (52 off 37 balls) started his reign with a third T20 half-century, giving his side a quick start. But India put on the brakes quickly as South Africa only managed 39 runs from the six powerplay overs, with Deepak Chahar removing Reeza Hendricks (6) cheaply.

Bavuma added 57 runs with the captain for the second wicket and steadying the South African ship after the latter's dismissal in the 12th over. Kohli took a diving catch to his left at mid-off to dismiss his counterpart off Navdeep Saini (1-34) and that breakthrough sucked out momentum from the Proteas' innings.

They lost wickets at regular intervals thereafter and never looked like making a charge in the final overs despite a 15-ball cameo from Miller (18).

Chahar was India's most successful bowler with 2-22 from his four-over spell, carrying on the good work from the recent West Indies' tour in the dual absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

"We got off to a good start but they bowled pretty well at the end," de Kock said. "India assessed the conditions better than we did. There was a lot of pressure on some of the new guys and I think they did pretty well against this world-class opposition."

The third and final T20 will be played in Bengaluru on Sunday. The first T20 in Dharamsala was abandoned due to incessant rain.

Feature Cricket

‘Cheat’ Smith Hide’s Australia’s Uncomfortable Batting Truths

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 18 September, 2019, 4:12 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Steve Smith’s hopes of annihilating memories of sandpaper-gate with a stupendous Ashes series may be too farfetched even at this point despite the phenomenal success he has had in the Ashes. But while his individual performances may have eased his own pain and the opinion of few others about his role in the ignominious scandal in South Africa to an extent, Smith’s batting reveals a far more uncomfortable truth: about the dearth in Australia’s own den.

England’s former fast bowler, Steve Harmison, is not alone in thinking that Smith will have to leave the game one day with the tag intact of having being part of a dubious Australian trio that got caught tampering with the ball and tarnishing the reputation of the game. Although it is a blot - a huge one on his career graph, the pain is only assuaged by the fact that Smith has been almost immediately impactful on the game.

While his misdeeds cannot be subverted by his contributions to the game, great players are able to move past misgivings to raise the level of their game higher. Smith’s redemption lies in the fact that he holds true to the promise of his prodigious talent which as he has as he showed in exemplary fashion in the Ashes, singlehandedly scoring over 700 runs.

No apparent challenger to the crown of the thorns is how the story is already being built back up in Australia. There was a sense that Tim Paine was a caretaker appointment as Australia’s captain in the immediate aftermath of sandpaper-gate. Now with Smith scoring as prolifically as he has – albeit in just the one Test series since his reinstatement back, it did not take much time for the same former Australian cricketers, who until recently stated that they felt that the entire truth of the saga had not emerged, to quickly join the band wagon of support that states that Smith will be reinstated at the earliest possible moment as Australia’s captain, multiple brain fades notwithstanding.

While that might be heartening to Smith’s ears and an uplifting moment for Australia after the team take down in Cape Town in 2018, it must be disconcerting for Australia’s inner cricket circles that apart from the fact that Australia have been not been able to find another player worthy of putting up his hand to make a go for the captaincy, they have not really been able to resolve the chronic issue of inconsistency in their batting.

What Smith has done in the Ashes is provide a shield for the many times Australia slipped up. That he was able to do it well and that often has what has made the difference between giving England a doorway of an opportunity and shutting the door altogether. But Australia haven’t found a sword to sheath yet. It is uncharacteristic of past Australian teams whose batting was often deep as well as robust as they climbed to a position of unyielding dominance. That will rankle in Australia irrespective of how much the Ashes overshadows the fact.

Although Marcus Labuschagne showed that he could be more than just a concussion substitute in Test cricket, despite the Ashes, Australia are going to have to go back to the drawing board themselves, for contingency when Smith’s bat does begin to lose some of its momentum, even temporarily.

Going from a leadership crisis perspective, it has to be worrisome a year and a half into the sandpaper-gate scandal, even on the back of such resurgence largely from one individual, that Australia’s cricket and indeed their Ashes success belies a greater truth: they haven’t found another batsman worthy enough to bring forth candidature for a new leadership.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli leads by example - Mayank Agarwal

Staff Writer Updated: 18 September, 2019, 3:31 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Mayank Agarwal, who had a mediocre Test series against the Windies, has praised the 30-year old Indian skipper. Agarwal made his Test debut against Australia and recently got an opportunity to bat with Virat Kohli in the two-match Test series in West Indies. He has revealed how Virat made him learn about the importance of staying at the wicket.

“Virat came into bat about half hour before lunch. The first thing we spoke about was getting a partnership going. We said, ‘Let’s not take any chance, let’s hold on to both ends till lunch and then come out.’ So, we were tight and cautious,” Mayank told The Times of India (TOI).

“After lunch, Virat went bang, bang, bang and suddenly upped the ante. What I took from Virat’s batting is intensity and mindset in terms of how he looks at and reads situations. He also brings in a lot of energy. He is the guy at the forefront, leading by example,” he stated.

He also lauded Hanuma Vihari and Ajinkya Rahane.

“There were so many guys doing the job well, Jinks (Ajinkya Rahane), (Hanuma) Vihari. It is great to be involved with a team like this,” he added.

News Cricket

Dinesh Mongia announces retirement 12 years after his last international match

Staff Writer Updated: 18 September, 2019, 3:22 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Dinesh Mongia, who was the part of Indian team during the ICC World Cup in 2003, has finally bid adieu to cricket.

He last played for India in 2007 before moving on to join the rebel Indian cricket league.

Dinesh Mongia was banned by the BCCI and despite all the players getting clearance from the governing body of Indian cricket after submitting their apologies, he remained the only one not to get go ahead because of his involvement in match-fixing.

Mongia, however, had denied any wrongdoing on his part.

He represented India in 57 ODIs scoring 1230 runs at an average of 27.95. Mongia also took 14 wickets in his international career.

He played for Punjab in the first-class cricket. Mongia represented Punjab in 121 first-class matches scoring 8028 runs at an average of 48.95.

News Cricket

Support pours in for Ben Stokes after newspaper published a story about his family tragedy

Staff Writer Updated: 18 September, 2019, 3:05 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Ben Stokes slammed an English newspaper for publishing an article about his family tragedy.

Hours after he released a statement, his name started trending in India as influential personality’s rallied behind him.

Tom Harrison, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), has stated that English all-rounder has the support of the whole country.

"We, like the wider sporting world, are disgusted and appalled at the actions taken in revealing the tragic events from Ben's past," Harrison said in the ECB's statement.

"We are saddened that an intrusion of this magnitude was deemed necessary in order to sell newspapers or secure clicks. Ben's exploits at Lord's and Headingley cemented his place in cricket history this summer - we are sure the whole sport, and the country, stands behind him in support.''

Earlier, Test skipper Joe Root, Michael Vaughan, footballer Marcus Rashford and many others have urged their fans to support Ben Stokes.

News Cricket

Shoaib Akhtar joins campaign to demand Justice for Nimrita Kumari

Staff Writer Updated: 18 September, 2019, 2:47 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Pakistan player Shoaib Akhtar has demanded justice for Nimrita Kumari, whose body was recovered from her hostel room of Chandka Medical College, in Larkana (Pakistan) on Monday. The citizens of Pakistan are furious and have started #JusticeForNimrita campaign on social media.

She was found dead at the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University (SMBBMU). Nimrita's body was lying on charpoy with a rope tied to her neck.

Shoaib Akhtar took to twitter and wrote, "Extremely sad & hurt sad reading about the suspicious death of young innocent girl, Nimrita Kumari. I hope the justice is served and the real culprits are found. My heart beats with every Pakistani no matter what faith he/she belongs to. Rest in Peace. #JusticeForNimrita."

The police are now investigating the cause of her death.

News Cricket

Bollywood diva Sonal Chauhan opens up on her relationship rumours with KL Rahul

Staff Writer Updated: 18 September, 2019, 2:19 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

KL Rahul, who was recently axed from the Test team, has been linked up with several Bollywood actresses. However, he has denied all the link-up stories.

There were rumours about the 27-year old dating Sonal Chauhan but she has categorically denied any sort of relationship with him.

“No, not at all. He is a very good cricketer. He is very talented and a nice guy," she said.

He is part of the limited overs squad in the ongoing T20 series against South Africa.

Earlier, chief selector MSK Prasad had said he was worried with KL Rahul's poor form in Test cricket.

"KL (Rahul) is definitely a great talent. Of course, he is going through a bit tough time in Test cricket. We are definitely concerned about his form. He needs to spend more time on the wicket and regain his touch and form."

Opinion Cricket

Is Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav's T20I journey over?

CT Contributor Updated: 18 September, 2019, 2:09 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Not having Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav in a T20I team is pretty strange. The two rose to prominence in the Indian cricket team with some impressive outings in T20Is and ODIs. Although, they are the pillars in ODI cricket, the recent snubs in T20Is has suggested a different view on this matter. India want a different approach and style in their T20Is and the thought process has started with the ICC World T20 in mind.

For now, India want to bat deep and are inclined in having all-rounders to help them. They have two left-arm spin all-rounders in the form of Krunal Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja. Washington Sundar has been handed chances to show his mettle. He can bat a bit down the order. Youngster Rahul Chahar is in there as well to give the side more shine. One can say, Kuldeep and Chahal's places have been taken by Chahar and Sundar in the recent scheme of things.

Now to present the cases of the two wrist-spinners, Chahal has a realistic chance of forging his way back into the side. He is a quality white-ball bowler and his records in the T20I format speaks for himself. Chahal can always be considered if Chahar and Sundar doesn't impress in the near future. Experience here is also key as well. Kuldeep, on the other hand, has been off color in T20Is.

He had a disastrous IPL 2019 season for KKR and his weaknesses came to the fore. Also, India have two left-arm spin options and that could affect Kuldeep's chances for now. This means he has a small window of opportunity to feature in India's plans leading to the ICC World T20 next year. This also makes sense. Both these bowlers need to go back and gather their thoughts and try doing well in domestic T20 matches to start with. Continuous shows will give them the confidence.

One can say Chahal has the better chance of making a comeback to the side. However, Kuldeep with all his recent struggles, may find it extremely hard to make a return and force his way back.

News Cricket

Jofra Archer is the most talented bowler I have ever seen - Ben Stokes

Staff Writer Updated: 18 September, 2019, 2:04 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Jofra Archer was on song during the World Cup and the recently concluded Ashes.

He picked up 22 wickets against Australia and was even declared the Man of the Match for his superb spell in the last Ashes Test.

Ben Stokes has lauded the performance of Jofra Archer. He feels Jofra is the most talented bowler he has seen.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a more talented bowler in my time. It’s great to have him on your team. No doubt he is the sort of guy who can help get those Ashes back when we go down under (in 2021-22),” Stokes said as quoted by The Guardian.

“It is very rare for a 24-year-old to be able to come in, be exposed to this environment and then step up and improve game by game as quickly as Jof is doing it. There is plenty more to come from him because he is so skilful and picks things up so quickly,” Stokes added.

News Cricket

Steve Smith makes the ugliest hundreds I have ever seen - Jonty Rhodes

Staff Writer Updated: 18 September, 2019, 1:43 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Steve Smith and Virat Kohli are the two leading stars in international cricket. While Virat Kohli continues to lead shorter formats, Steve Smith has moved ahead in Test cricket. Former South Africa cricketer Jonty Rhodes has picked Virat Kohli over Steve Smith as the best batsman in world at the moment.

“I enjoy watching Virat Kohli. Steve Smith, with that action and technique, makes the ugliest hundreds I have ever seen but the man just keeps scoring runs. Someone who likes to watch cricket would want to say ‘Wow! What an amazing shot’ as opposed to ‘Oh! How on earth can he hit that?’ So Virat Kohli right now,” Rhodes told New Indian Express in an interview.

"Someone who likes to watch cricket would want to say 'Wow! What an amazing shot' as opposed to 'Oh! How on earth can he hit that?' So Virat Kohli right now," the South Africa legend said.

Steve Smith scored 774 runs in the recently concluded Ashes and is the number one batsman in ICC rankings for batsmen.

Kohli scored two half centuries in India's last Test series win over West Indies.