Opinion Cricket

Is it fair to compare Pant with Dhoni?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 14 March, 2019, 4:45 PM IST


One of the fallouts of any loss is the scrutiny on the more vulnerable players. In such a situation, there is always the danger of the player either succumbing to the pressure or rising above the shadows of his predecessor. In Rishabh Pant’s case, it is far too early to tell.

As India tasted an unexpected, rare home series defeat to Australia in the recently concluded one day international series, while Virat Kohli’s captaincy came under the scanner with the conspicuous absence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni after the Ranchi one day international, another player under the spotlight has been Rishabh Pant.

If Rishabh Pant’s wicketkeeping made headlines in Australia, including a sledging incident involving the Australian Test captain, Tim Paine, which eventually turned into an amusing moment, in this particular series, the contrast between Dhoni and Pant could not have been highlighted more fiercely. With Dhoni having not played the rest of the series after his home town showing which led to speculation about Dhoni having already played his final one day international on home soil, Pant came glaringly under the scanner for obvious omissions on the field in his role as a wicketkeeper.

If Mahendra Singh Dhoni broke out on the international scene as something of an unconventional batsman, a freak of a cricketer in the sense that not only India but also, the rest of the cricketing world had rarely seen a more rambunctious wicketkeeper-batsman barring Australia’s Adam Gilchrist, Rishabh Pant’s young talent has already had speculation being etched about his potential career graph. Therefore, for the youngster to have hiccupped in the course of the series in which India surprisingly could not hold up an otherwise sedate Australia who struggled in home conditions, pointed out the harsh reality of the obvious chasm between Dhoni’s wealth of talent, acumen and experience and Pant being still wet behind the ears.

Defeat tends to draw in greater scrutiny. Indeed questions can and should be asked about India’s ability to hold their own on home turf and whether they have perhaps been a tad complacent amongst other issues to have let Australia get some valuable, much needed confidence under the belt. For Australia to make a comeback to hand India rare home series defeat, a scapegoat had to be found particularly since the ICC Cricket World Cup is only drawing closer. This is not say Pant is being unduly criticized. But while there is acknowledgement that there is a learning curve ahead for Pant, what must, also, be recognized is that comparison, particularly at this point in time, is made redundant by the fact that while Dhoni is in his sunset years as a player, Pant is still finding his feet in international cricket.

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News Cricket

This is the most open World Cup in history: Craig McMillan

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 March, 2019, 5:09 PM IST


We are not too far away from 2019 Cricket World Cup that commences from May 30 in England and Wales. It is going to be exciting and quite close this time around with a lot of teams playing quality cricket. India and England are favorites but teams like New Zealand Australia, West Indies, South Africa are right up there when it comes to competing in the event.

Former New Zealand batsman Craig McMillan feels the ICC World Cup 2019 in England is going to be an open tournament. He said, “We have known this schedule for some time. We have played a ton of ODI cricket over the summer just not at the end of the summer. We have learnt a lot about our side over the summer – India showed as a couple of areas where we need to get better but I think this is the most open World Cup in history,” he said.

He continued, “There are six or seven teams with a real chance of winning. You have Afghanistan making serious strides with a couple of very talented young players – they will be a tricky opponent for any side. It’s going to be an open and exciting tournament because so many sides are capable of winning it.”

News Cricket

Sachin Tendulkar had the most filmy birthday wish for Aamir Khan

Staff Writer Updated: 14 March, 2019, 4:35 PM IST


Sachin Tendulkar and Bollywood actor Aamir Khan are close friends and often meet each other when they are in Mumbai. While Sachin has attended Aamir Khan's movie premiers, Aamir has watched international matches featuring master blaster. He recently attended one of the functions which was organized to felicitate Sachin for his great service to nation.

Meanwhile, Sachin took to Twitter to wish his buddy on his birthday. He wrote, “Wishing my dear friend, @aamir_khan a very happy birthday! “A”, kya bolta tu?”

Sachin Tendulkar was recently embroiled in a controversy when he stated that Team India should play Pakistan in the World Cup as losing two points by not taking up the field against arch rivals would be more painful.

Aamir Khan is working on his next project which is an adaptation of the Mahabharata. He didn’t reveal the details of his next project. "I'll start preparing for my next because I have to look slim and lean. There are two films (in consideration) and in both of then I have to look lean."

News Cricket

Justin Langer says he has never seen a player like Virat Kohli

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 March, 2019, 4:31 PM IST


Despite losing ODI series against Australia at Feroz Shah Kotla, New Delhi on Wednesday, Indian skipper Virat Kohli earned huge praise from the Australian head coach Justin Langer. The former Australian opening batsman said that he has never seen a player like Virat Kohli and also hailed India's character in the series.

“I have never seen a player like Kohli. They showed character and great fighting spirit. India had the better of us in Australia and we were able to have the better of them here,” said Langer.

Langer further said he was “incredibly proud” of the Men in Yellow, who also registered first T20I series win in India.

“It is going to be tough to pick the World Cup squad. It has been an unbelievable ride since India arrived in Australia,” Langer added.

Langer also praised opener Usman Khawaja and Australia's pacers. “I think Jhye Richardson and Pat Cummins are forming a great partnership, they can also contribute with the bat. Usman Khawaja also has been fantastic, having not played much of white-ball cricket, in the last 12 months,” said Langer.

Australia will now play Pakistan in a five-match ODI series starting March 22.

News Cricket

IPL franchises will realize my worth soon, says Cheteshwar Pujara

Staff Writer Updated: 14 March, 2019, 4:05 PM IST


Cheteshwar Pujara has been a true servant of Indian cricket since making his international debut. The right hand batsman is one of the best batsmen in Test cricket and played a decisive role in his team's maiden Test series win in Australia.

He amassed 521 runs that included three hundreds in the four-match series as the touring party defeated Australia 2-1. Pujara, who is renowned for temperament and patience, had faced 1,258 balls throughout the series, which is the most by any Indian player in a Test series in Australia.

Not just Test cricket, Pujara showed his class in the T20 format as well. He slammed his maiden T20 ton and followed it up with scores of 68, 42 not-out and 39 not-out in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

He was recently asked about his isolation from Indian Premier League.

"Sometimes it’s difficult to accept things but I am someone who moves on. I am not worried about what people think. However, the perception is changing now. When I started scoring in the T20 format, people have started saying ‘he can do it’. I think IPL franchises will realize that soon," he said.

News Cricket

Sourav Ganguly joins hands with Ricky Ponting in IPL

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 March, 2019, 4:03 PM IST


Former Indian captain, Sourav Ganguly will be joining two-time World Cup-winning skipper, Ricky Ponting as an advisor for Delhi Capitals in the upcoming season of the Indian Premier Leauge. Delhi are yet to win an IPL title despite appearing in all the first 11 editions of the cash-rich league. They keep bottling up in the tourney somehow. But they have been boosted by the joining of Sourav Ganguly.

Sourav Ganguly said: “I am very pleased to come on board with the Delhi Capitals. Having known the Jindals and the JSW Group for years, I am now excited to be a part of their latest sports venture. I am really looking forward to working with the players and the support staff.”

On his joining, Delhi Capitals chairman, Parth Jindal said, “Sourav is one of the most astute minds in world cricket. A lot of what we see in Indian cricket today was born because of Sourav. His aggression, positivity and never say die attitude are traits we want the Delhi Capitals team to imbibe. It is truly an honour that Sourav has chosen Delhi as his IPL team. I have no doubt that our team will benefit immensely from his experience, guidance and advice. Sourav has been like family to me and I am deeply humbled to have him as an Advisor."

News Cricket

Virat Kohli hands onus to players ahead of Indian Premier League

Staff Writer Updated: 14 March, 2019, 3:45 PM IST


Virat Kohli has stated that players will have to manage their workload smartly during the upcoming Indian Premier League season to stay fit and fresh for the World Cup.

The 12th edition of the league will begin on March 23 and will end just before the World Cup, which will start on May 30. Many cricket boards have already warned players to be smart while playing in the IPL to avoid any injury ahead of the show-piece event.

Kohli said it's not that he is asking the players not to be committed to their respective IPL franchises.

"All the workload will be monitored and given a window, the guys can afford to rest. The World Cup comes every four years and we play IPL every year," said Kohli.

"Not to say we won't be committed to the IPL but we've got to be smart. We have to work in balance and take smart decisions. "The responsibility and the onus is on the player. No one will be forced to do something. Eventually, no one wants to miss the World Cup and cost the team good balance," added Kohli.

News Cricket

Australia end Virat Kohli’s unbeaten run

Staff Writer Updated: 14 March, 2019, 3:39 PM IST


Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, was handed first defeat at home in ODIs as captain after India's 35-run loss against Australia in the fifth and final ODI.

Chasing 273 for victory, India were bundled out for 237 by the rivals, who won the series 3-2. Men in Blue suffered their first ODI series loss at home since 2015. It was also the first time India lost three consecutive ODI matches under Virat Kohli's leadership.

Australia beat India by 35 runs to win the fifth and final ODI on Wednesday and secure a 3-2 victory in the series.

It is the first ODI series' win for Australia since January 2017 and the fourth on Indian soil, the last coming in 2009. It was India's first loss in an ODI series at home since 2015 when they lost 3-2 to South Africa.

Usman Khawaja (100) struck his second century in three ODIs as Australia rode to 272-9. Peter Handscomb also followed his hundred in Mohali with 52 off 60 balls, as the duo put on 99 runs for the second wicket.

In reply, Rohit Sharma top-scored with 56 but India lost Shikhar Dhawan (12) and Virat Kohli (20) cheaply, which cost them the game. From 132-6 at one stage, Kedar Jadhav (44) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (46) put on 91 runs for the seventh wicket but it wasn't enough to salvage the situation.

News Cricket

Michael Clarke makes a big statement on MS Dhoni

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 March, 2019, 3:35 PM IST


MS Dhoni is one of the most important players in the Indian team. He has a wealth of experience and wisdom that he has gained after playing over a decade and a half. Dhoni has played 341 One-day games and scored 10,500 runs at an average of 50.72. The Indian wicket-keeper batsman struggled greatly last year but he has come back to form this year in limited-overs cricket.

In fact, the 37 years old was the Player-of-the-Series in India's bilateral ODI series triumph over Australia. He had scored three half-centuries in as many games. He also helped India cross the line in the first ODI win over Australia in Hyderabad. But the veteran Indian player was rested for the final two ODIs. And the team missed him a lot in the final two games.

2015 World Cup winning skipper, Michael Clarke tweeted, “Never underestimate the importance of MSD - experience in the middle order is so important.”

News Cricket

Gautam Gambhir makes BIG MS Dhoni claim

Staff Writer Updated: 14 March, 2019, 3:08 PM IST


Gautam Gambhir feels India's batting is not that stronger despite having former Indian skipper, MS Dhoni in the XI. India's batting has been under the scanner as their dependency on the top three is well documented. When India's top three falters, the team invariably loses most of the times.

Former Indian player, Gautam Gambhir opened up on India's composition going into the World Cup yesterday during the series-decider between India and Australia.

"I feel squad has been more or less finalized because after the series we have IPL followed by World Cup. I don't think there is any doubt regarding the squad. But I can guarantee this that this isn't India's best playing XI. Virat Kohli had said that this is India's most likely playing XI for World Cup. But this playing XI does not give you enough confidence. Even if you add MS Dhoni to this team, you won't find that batting depth in this playing XI," Gambhir told on air.

"We are sorted combination wise. We know our playing XI going into the World Cup. There will be just one change based on condition. When Hardik Pandya will come back, he gives depth in batting and opens up options in bowling. We know where we are going. We are clear about our playing XI," added Gambhir.

News Cricket

Fans want Ajinkya Rahane for World Cup after ODI series defeat

Staff Writer Updated: 14 March, 2019, 1:55 PM IST


Usman Khawaja (100) struck his second century in three ODIs as Australia rode to 272-9. Peter Handscomb also followed his hundred in Mohali with 52 off 60 balls, as the duo put on 99 runs for the second wicket.

In reply, Rohit Sharma top-scored with 56 but India lost Shikhar Dhawan (12) and Virat Kohli (20) cheaply, which cost them the game. From 132-6 at one stage, Kedar Jadhav (44) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (46) put on 91 runs for the seventh wicket but it wasn't enough to salvage the situation.

Opting to bat, Australia got off to another good start as Khawaja and Aaron Finch (27) put on 76 runs for the opening stand.

Ravindra Jadeja (2-45) was the pick of India's bowlers, and provided the breakthrough. But Khawaja and Handscomb denied the hosts any further opportunities.

Handscomb reached his fourth ODI half-century off 55 balls, while Khawaja scored his second ODI hundred off 102 balls. Overall, he hit 10 fours and two sixes as India's changed bowling attack failed to impress.

Australia suffered a mini-collapse, though, and lost three wickets for seven runs in the space of 21 balls. Khawaja was out caught off Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-48). Then Jadeja got rid of Glenn Maxwell (1) and Mohammed Shami dismissed Handscomb.

Marcus Stoinis (20), Ashton Turner (20) and Jhye Richardson (29) made important lower-order contributions to push Australia to a competitive total, which proved enough in the absence of dew.

Following this painful defeat, fans want Ajinkya Rahane to be drafted back in the team for the World Cup in England and Wales.

Cricket fanatics feel the current Indian squad is not competitive enough to win the World Cup title and by drafting Ajinkya Rahane in the team, Virat Kohli can plug loopholes.

News Cricket

None of the guys in the change room are panicking, says Virat Kohli on India’s ODI series loss

Staff Writer Updated: 14 March, 2019, 1:47 PM IST


Australia defeated India by 35 runs to win the fifth and final ODI and secure a 3-2 victory in the series.

It is the first ODI series' win for Australia since January 2017 and the fourth on Indian soil, the last coming in 2009. It was India's first loss in an ODI series at home since 2015 when they lost 3-2 to South Africa.

"They were more composed in pressure moments," Kohli said. "They were more positive and brave in the pressure situations, and hence they won those important moments in the game. And when you capitalize on probably every important moment that comes in the game as a side, it gets very difficult to go past that side."

“None of the guys in the change room are panicking. The support staff is not feeling down after this defeat because we knew things we wanted to do in these last three games,” he added.

When asked if too much experimentation cost India the series, he said: “Whoever gets a chance to play, we expect that guy to take responsibility and pressure. And hence you expose these guys to pressure situations where a series is on the line and you expect someone to step up. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

News Cricket

Former Indian player reveals one area which could cost India the World Cup title

Staff Writer Updated: 14 March, 2019, 1:44 PM IST


India slumped to series defeat at the hands of Australia at home. Former India international cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar has slammed Vijay Shankar for wasting another opportunity. He took to Twitter to blast Shankar for his irresponsible approach and even criticized Rishabh Pant for his mediocre display.

“Really disappointing with Pant and Shankar today, what a great chance to show their ability. Shankar may have the big shots but he is no Pant, must learn to keep the strike rate up by hitting more along the ground just like his captain does”, Manjrekar tweeted.

He praised the Aussies for putting up a clinical performance after losing the first two ODIs.

“Delighted for Australia! Exceptional series win! Their country must be so proud, this is what they wanted, a winning team that’s also a very likeable team.”

He further added that the middle order woes could impact Team India's World Cup chances.

Videos Cricket

Watch: Hardik Pandya emulates MS Dhoni’s helicopter shot to perfection

Staff Writer Updated: 14 March, 2019, 12:58 PM IST


Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya has joined Mumbai Indians camp ahead of the Indian Premier League. The right hand batsman resumed his training after recovery from back stiffness that ruled him out of the ODI series against Australia.

He posted a video of him batting in the nets during which he emulated Dhoni's helicopter shot to perfection. "Guess my inspiration behind this shot?" he wrote on Twitter.

Hardik had returned to action during the limited-overs series in New Zealand after his ban was lifted by the BCCI. The Indian all-rounder was lambasted for his sexist comments on Koffee With Karan.

He was thinking of playing some matches of the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy but his team Baroda didn't qualify for the Super League.

Apart from Hardik and his brother, Jayant Yadav, Rahul Chahar, Barinder Sran, Rasikh Salam, Mitchell McClenaghan and Ishan Kishan have also joined the camp.

Mumbai Indians will open their IPL campaign against Delhi Capitals on March 24 at the Wankhede stadium.

News Cricket

Smith and Warner might not get to play WC after Australia's recent success: Allan Border

Staff Writer Updated: 14 March, 2019, 12:44 PM IST


Australia completed their first bilateral ODI series win in India since 2009 yesterday in Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Khawaja's second ODI ton and Australia's amazing bowling powered them to an incredible 3-2 series win after they were once 0-2 down in the series.

Australia's banned duo of Steven Smith and David Warner will be available soon for selection as their bans will be expiring soon. But former Australian captain, Allan Border feels Warner and Smith's return could be in jeopardy given Australia's recent series triumph.

“Given the success of the side at the moment, if they continue to play good cricket against Pakistan with the squad they have at the moment, you’d probably be tempted to keep that lot as is,” Border was quoted as saying by foxsports.com.au after the conclusion of India tour.

“I think they (Smith and Warner) come back into the squad, but whether they play or not is not a done deal. They need to be playing better than the incumbents to be automatic selections,” he added.