News Cricket

It would be crazy not to include Steve Smith and David Warner in World Cup squad: Justin Langer

Harshit Anand Updated: 6 February, 2019, 5:15 PM IST


  • The bans on Steven Smith and David Warner will come to an end next month
  • Australia have missed their services greatly
  • They are likely to feature in the 2019 Cricket World Cup

Discarded Australian cricketers Steve Smith and David Warner will not be brought back into the Australia side in any kind of haste. Their bans will come to an end next month. But Australia's head coach Justin Langer reckons it would be "crazy" not to include them in the World Cup squad.

"They're going to need to get some cricket before coming back into the squad. It's all part of the management. We'll have to wait and see," he said.

"We know it's been a tough time for them, it's been a tough time for Australian cricket, but we know the ... integration has been going for the last nine or ten months ... it's getting closer, isn't it? And that'll be a continued process.

"It's about how much cricket they get to play between now and then. They'll find opportunities. We'll find opportunities.

"We're talking about two great players, we're not talking about two really good players," he added. "Two great players who on paper we'd be crazy not to have them in the team."

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News Cricket

VVS Laxman names the batsman that he would like to see at no.3 for India

Harshit Anand Updated: 6 February, 2019, 4:57 PM IST


  • Virat Kohli is currently holidaying with his wife Anushka Sharma
  • The 30 years old has been rested for the three-match T20I series against New Zealand
  • Kohli also missed last two ODIs against the Kiwis

Indian skipper Virat Kohli is currently holidaying with his wife Anushka Sharma. He is making most of his free time by spending quality time with the love of her life.

The 30 years old has been rested for the three-match T20I series against New Zealand. He was also not part of the team in the last two ODIs. He has been given a breather so that his workload can be properly managed in lead up to the World Cup.

In his absence, former Indian cricketer, VVS Laxman reckons that India should give the no.3 slot to someone like Dinesh Karthik. “India will take the momentum from their Wellington win into the Twenty20 Internationals. I for one believe that it is imperative to keep looking to develop more match-winners. Towards that end, I would like to see Dinesh Karthik bat at No. 3 in Virat's absence. It's important to entrust greater responsibility to DK, Rishabh Pant and Krunal Pandya,” Laxman wrote in his column for the Times of India.

“Rishabh has been in very good touch and Krunal caught the eye during the T20s in Australia, with ball and bat. They can both deliver the big blows at the death alongside the pedigreed Hardik, which is a welcome sign with the future in mind," Laxman wrote.

News Cricket

Numbers don't lie. Is MS Dhoni unlucky for India in T20Is?

Staff Writer Updated: 6 February, 2019, 4:27 PM IST


  • New Zealand defeated India by 80 runs in the first T20I
  • This is India's biggest ever loss in terms of runs in T20Is
  • Dhoni top-scored for India with 39 runs off 31 deliveries

New Zealand defeated India by 80 runs in the first T20I of the three-match T20I series in Wellington. This is India's biggest ever loss in terms of runs in T20Is. New Zealand scored 219 runs in 20 overs on the back of Tim Seifert's 43-ball 84-run knock.

India got bundled-out on 139 runs in reply to the hosts. The 37 years old, Dhoni top-scored for India with 39 runs off 31 deliveries. He might have top-scored for India but his strike-rate of 125.81 in the chase was questionable given the required-rate, which was on the high right from the word go.

Interestingly, MS Dhoni's top-five T20I scores have all come in losing causes for India.

Unlike other Indian batsmen, Dhoni didn't attack straightaway despite the ever climbing run-rate. Dhoni has always been an underperformer in T20Is. Dhoni has just two fifties in 93 T20Is. He generally plays the role of a finisher for India in the shortest format. But his career strike-rate of 127.09 is quite average given the needs and demands of the game. Not only Dhoni but other Indian batsmen also put up a horrendous show in T20I series opener.

Videos Cricket

Watch: Dinesh Karthik stuns everyone with an acrobatic catch

Harshit Anand Updated: 6 February, 2019, 3:10 PM IST


  • Dinesh Karthik took a sensational catch in the outfield
  • He send back New Zealand batsman Daryl Mitchell back to the pavilion
  • Hardik Pandya was the bowler

Dinesh Karthik took a sensational catch in the outfield to send back New Zealand batsman Daryl Mitchell back to the pavilion for eight runs off six balls in the first T20I in Wellington. Hardik Pandya was the bowler but there are certain dismissals where fielders steal the spotlight. And so was the case with Karthik, who exhibited his acrobatic skills on long on to complete a screamer of a catch.

It was a moment of relief for Dinesh Karthik as he had earlier dropped a catch in the innings. But, he more than made up for it with a brilliant catch to dismiss the debutant, Mitchell.

Take a look at the video:

News Cricket

Ravi Shastri compares MS Dhoni to "con artist"

Staff Writer Updated: 6 February, 2019, 2:15 PM IST


Indian head coach, Ravi Shastri has smashed all the Dhoni critics out of the park with his latest statement on him, where he has lavished high praise on India's 37 years old wicket-keeper batsman. Shastri put Dhoni in the rare category of people like Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev, and Sunil Gavaskar. He also targeted his haters and advised them to learn about cricket before taking potshots at the veteran India batsman.

"Dhoni is like Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar. These guys come once in 30-40 years. He is an ornament to the game. He has been the captain of a number one Test team and has two World Cups to his name. In fact, tell me which trophy has he not won? Name it. There is no space in his trophy cabinet. I think people should learn a thing or two about cricket before they start talking about Dhoni. You don't get a guy (of his experience and ability) overnight," he said.

Shastri also appreciated Dhoni's wicket-keeping skills and even likened him to a con artist. "That was Dhoni at his very best, like a con artist. He was not even looking at the ball, and the run-out was done in a flash, and it changed the course of that game," he said.

Feature Cricket

England and Australia Crawling Towards Ashes

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 6 February, 2019, 2:05 PM IST


Even as Test cricket season has spawned the imagination for the Ashes still a fair way away, the greatest Test rivalry is currently in danger as both of the traditional teams find themselves in a world of peril, overtaken rather blatantly by other, more hungry and certainly more competitive teams and undone by their own policies and operations.

Australia would like to think they are a leg up when it comes to the Ashes, although it was not that long ago when Australia found themselves at the receiving end of a bucket load of criticism for a year that truly brought to the forefront the descent into ashes that Australia’s cricket has been since relinquishing a world class team through retirements and failing to sufficiently bridge the gap in competitiveness as well as hunger.

England are facing a rather unusual scenario, but they are coming to understand this is currently a part of their fragile fabric, much like the last Ashes contended down under. However, while Joe Root would have liked to believe that their Ashes troubles, on and off the field, were a thing of the past, even the astounding 3-1 win over India at home and the 3-0 series whitewash in Sri Lanka prior to the tour of the West Indies could not overlook the fact that England have been struggling with Test cricket, and particularly with their top order batting even before the tour of the West Indies and are looking far from being a dominant Test team, capable or worthy of the historic rivalry.

The loss of Alastair Cook at the top of the batting leaves a vacuum with only Root amongst the world class batsmen in the England dressing room. Crowded with middle and lower middle order all-rounders, England are being forced to compromise the likes of Jonny Bairstow, shunted from the middle to the top, to make room for the likes of Ben Stokes and Sam Curran and the such. While their bowling is wearing an aging look though James Anderson and Stuart Broad would not consider themselves past their prime, there is concern that England do not have the depth in their batting to withstand the best in the business on a good day. Worrisomely enough, their coach, Trevor Bayliss, has openly stated he suspected that the cricketers are unable to make the transition from the shorter formats to the endurance test that is the five day format.

Australia, on the other hand, are in danger of falling for a similar sense of false security after their win over the visiting Sri Lankan team. Australia have been beset by problems not quite unlike the England team. With Australia desperately waiting for the one year bans on Steve Smith and David Warner to complete their terms, Australia have been badly exposed for lack of depth and consistency in their batting, the selectors’ fickle fiddling only making matters worse.

The ball tampering scandal, in hindsight, may at a much later date in Australia’s cricket history seem like a blessing in disguise because Australia are finally faced with the truth about their waning talent and lack of skill and temperament coaching at the domestic cricket level which is clearly hampering their stepping up from possible contenders to serious competitors without a steady core composition of players or cohesive, consistent thought process.

Despite their lingering problems that have seen them cede their home turf advantage to India for the first time in seven decades, the once reluctant skipper, Tim Paine, now dreams of captaining Australia at the Ashes. While the Test cricket season is certainly igniting some hopes while holding up a mirror to some of the burning issues, it is unimaginable to think that England or Australia will be able to come up with some answers between now and the Ashes later in the year, with the Test cricket rounding off to give way to the exigencies of the ICC Cricket World Cup that England are set to host this summer.

News Cricket

Smriti Mandhana smashes fastest T20I Fifty by an Indian

Staff Writer Updated: 6 February, 2019, 11:23 AM IST


  • Smriti Mandhana hammered the fastest T20I fifty by an Indian batswoman
  • Smriti scored 58 runs off 34 deliveries
  • She finished with a strike-rate of 170.58

Indian opener Smriti Mandhana hammered the fastest T20I fifty by an Indian batswoman in the first T20I against New Zealand. Notably, she surpassed her own record. Mandhana blasted fifty off just 24 deliveries. Her previous record was reaching the fifty in 25 deliveries against England.

The Indian women team are chasing 160 runs in the T20I series opener in Wellington. India were 110 for three at the time of filing this copy. They require another 50 runs off 38 deliveries with seven wickets in hand. India women team had registered a 2-1 win in the three-match ODI series against the Black Ferns.

The dashing Indian player scored 58 runs off 34 deliveries with the help of seven fours and three sixes. She finished with a strike-rate of 170.58. She was in blazing form in the preceding ODI series as well. Mandhana was also the recipient of 2018 ICC 'Women's Cricketer' and 'ODI Player of the year' awards.

News Football

Barca optimistic about Messi, Madrid all fit for Copa semi

AP Updated: 6 February, 2019, 11:03 AM IST


  • Messi returned to training on Tuesday
  • Messi showed no signs he was bothered by the injury
  • Valverde said he will not take any risks with Messi or any other player

While Lionel Messi gave Barcelona reason to feel optimistic about his ability to play in Wednesday's Copa del Rey semifinal, Real Madrid's main concern is who to leave out for the "Clasico" game.

Messi returned to training on Tuesday and was included in the squad for the first-leg match at Camp Nou Stadium, although it was still unclear whether he had fully recovered from a right leg injury.

"The most important thing is for the player to tell you that he is ready," coach Ernesto Valverde said. "Regardless of what the tests show and what the doctors say, if the player doesn't feel he is ready, you can't let him play."

Messi showed no signs he was bothered by the injury during the opening few minutes of the training session, which were open to media, as players warmed up and played keep-away.

However, Valverde said he will not take any risks with Messi or any other player.

"If it was the last match tomorrow, than it would be different," he said.

Barcelona has kept quiet about the full extent of Messi's injury since he was hurt in a Spanish league match on Saturday.

Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari said the uncertainty about Messi wasn't affecting his team's preparations.

"It's always good to have the best players playing in every match," he said. "Whether he plays or not, it's not going to influence how we prepare for the game."

Madrid arrives for the match at Camp Nou enjoying its best period of the season and with nearly all of its players available. Solari has all of his best forwards, including an in-form Karim Benzema, the quickly maturing Vinicius Junior, and a fully fit Gareth Bale.

"It's harder when you have all the players available, because it means you have to leave someone out," Solari said. "It's one of the hardest parts of the job for a coach."

Bale is one of the many Madrid players who have recovered from injury in recent days, along with other forwards Mariano Diaz and Marco Asensio. Bale returned as a starter on Sunday alongside Benzema and Vinicius Junior as Alaves was beaten 3-0 in the Spanish league, the team's fifth consecutive win in all competitions.

Solari may not start Bale with Vinicius Junior on Wednesday as they usually play on the same part of the field and their presence could make the squad too unbalanced and more vulnerable defensively.

There is little doubt Benzema will start, as he has six goals in the last four matches. The French striker has 18 goals, six more than he had in all of last season.

It would also be hard to leave out Vinicius Junior, who has taken full advantage of Bale's absences to become a regular starter and a popular player with Madrid fans. The 18-year-old Brazilian has added flair to the attack.

Messi was hurt when Barcelona drew with Valencia 2-2 at home, a result that halted the team's eight-game winning streak in the Spanish league. The club has yet to release a full medical report on the injury, and he didn't practice with his teammates on Monday.

Messi has scored in nine straight games in all competitions, and is the league leading scorer with 21 in 22 matches.

He missed Barcelona's 5-1 league rout of Madrid in October because of a broken right arm. He was rested two weeks ago when Barcelona lost at Sevilla 2-0 in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals.

Valverde said his team won't change the way it plays if Messi is absent, and that his participation shouldn't be seen as a key factor.

"I don't think it (Messi playing or not) changes which team will be considered the favorite," he said. "I don't think there is a favorite in a semifinal between Barcelona and Real Madrid."

Ousmane Dembele, who had trained separately on Monday, also re-joined his teammates in Tuesday's practice, but he was not included in the squad list for Wednesday's game.

The first leg of the semifinal in the Copa del Rey is the first of three matches between the rivals in less than a month.

News Cricket

PCB gives best possible news to Sarfraz Ahmed

AP Updated: 6 February, 2019, 10:27 AM IST


  • Sarfraz Ahmed will continue as captain of Pakistan to the Cricket World Cup
  • The Pakistan Cricket Board has a policy of appointing captains series by series
  • Sarfraz has led Pakistan to 21 victories in 35 ODIs

Sarfraz Ahmed will continue as captain of Pakistan to the Cricket World Cup despite being banned for a racial taunt last month.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has a policy of appointing captains series by series, but took the unusual step of backing Sarfraz to at least July as captain of the test, one-day international, and Twenty20 teams.

"I was always clear in my mind that Sarfraz would be the captain (for the Cricket World Cup)," PCB chairman Ehsan Mani said beside Sarfraz at a news conference in Lahore.

"I was keen to speak with him on the team's recent performances ... about his own future plans as we all know he has undergone some tough times as a professional cricketer in the past few weeks."

There was speculation in the local media about keeping Sarfraz as the captain after he was banned for four matches by the ICC for racially taunting South Africa all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo in an ODI two weeks ago in Durban.

Sarfraz, playing wicketkeeper, was heard on a stump microphone saying in Urdu: "Hey black man, where is your mother sitting today? What (prayer) have you got her to say for you today?"

He apologized to Phehlukwayo, and publicly. Sarfraz added he won't stop talking behind the wickets, and Mani criticized the ICC for banning him, believing the apologies were enough.

When Mani was asked whether he was sending a message to the ICC by reappointing Sarfraz as captain, the chairman said: "I don't want to go into politics, it's nothing like that we wanted to send some sort of a message."

Mani added: "Sarfraz has been an integral part of the Pakistan cricket team's World Cup preparations and has proved to be a good strategist, leader and performer."

Since being made captain two years ago, Sarfraz has led Pakistan to 21 victories in 35 ODIs, including winning the Champions Trophy in 2017 in England. Under Sarfraz's leadership, Pakistan has risen in the ODI rankings from ninth to fifth.

Sarfraz said he was delighted the PCB showed its faith in him again.

"It is the dream of any international cricketer to play in a World Cup," Sarfraz said. "But to be appointed captain in the biggest cricket spectacle on the planet is something that is extremely special."

After being banned, Sarfraz returned home and Shoaib Malik was named as the stand-in captain for the last two one-dayers and the three-match T20 series. Pakistan lost the ODI series 3-2, and has lost the T20 series 2-0. The third and last match is on Wednesday.

Pakistan has limited-overs series against Australia and England in the lead-up to the Cricket World Cup in May in England and Wales.

Pakistan last won the Cricket World Cup in 1992 under Imran Khan, now the country's prime minister.

News Cricket

Sri Lanka drops captain Chandimal for South Africa Tests

AP Updated: 6 February, 2019, 10:20 AM IST


  • Sri Lanka dropped captain Dinesh Chandimal from the test squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa
  • Sri Lanka Cricket asked him to play domestic games to regain his form
  • Dimuth Karunaratne is the stand-in captain of a 17-man squad for the two-test series

Sri Lanka dropped captain Dinesh Chandimal from the test squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa.

Sri Lanka Cricket asked him to play domestic games to regain his form.

Opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne is the stand-in captain of a 17-man squad for the two-test series starting on Feb. 13.

Chandimal's omission follows scores of 5, 0, 15, and 4 in the two recent test losses against Australia.

The squad includes three uncapped players: Batsman Oshada Fernando, seam bowler Mohmed Shiraz, and left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya.

Sri Lanka's pace attack is depleted because of injuries to Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, and Nuwan Pradeep.

However, Suranga Lakmal is back after missing the second test against Australia. Specialist opening batsman Kaushal Silva is also back having missed the Australia series.

Allrounder Milinda Siriwardana was recalled after nearly three years.

The tests are in Durban from Feb. 13 and in Port Elizabeth from Feb. 21.

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Milinda Siriwardana, Dhananjaya De Silva, Oshada Fernando, Angelo Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Chamika Karunaratne, Mohamed Shiraz, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Embuldeniya

Videos Cricket

Watch: Rishabh Pant slays it in style in the nets ahead of the first T20I

Harshit Anand Updated: 5 February, 2019, 5:28 PM IST


After winning the five-match ODI series 4-1 against New Zealand, now the team will lock horns with hosts in three-match T20I series. Ahead of the first T20I in Wellington on Wednesday, Rishabh Pant, who was overlooked from the ODI side was seen sweating it out in the nets to get himself in the groove in what can be a golden opportunity for him to prove his credentials in white-ball cricket and perhaps, audition for a spot in middle-order for the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

In a video shared by BCCI, the Indian youngster was seen playing an audacious shot in the form of reverse flick. He changed his stance at the very last moment and then flicked a full ball with perfection.

India Squad for T20Is: Rohit Sharma (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (WK), Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, Shubman Gill, Vijay Shankar, Hardik Pandya.

News Cricket

Ravi Shastri compares Virat Kohli to Imran Khan and Vivian Richards

Staff Writer Updated: 5 February, 2019, 5:03 PM IST


  • Ravi Shastri has compared Virat Kohli to two legends of the game
  • According to him, India is lucky to have a captain like Virat Kohli
  • He feels Virat is like Imran Khan and Vivian Richards

Ravi Shastri has compared Virat Kohli to two legends of the game. In an interview with Cricbuzz, he lavished praise on the Indian skipper after he won all the major ICC awards. According to him, India is lucky to have a captain like Virat Kohli. He feels Virat is like Imran Khan and Vivian Richards, the two greatest players in the history of cricket.

“But here is a guy who is as dominant as Sir Vivian Richards. The closest I have seen to the great man. Virat is in your face, he wants to dominate and has a work ethic like no one else. Whether it comes to discipline, training, sacrifice or self-denial, it is unbelievable.

“I think India is lucky to have a leader of that sort. He reminds me of Imran Khan in many ways — in the way he sets the example and sets the standards, and goes about defining it in his own way and leading from the front,” Shastri further said.

Opinion Cricket

Has Virat Kohli been an underperformer in big games of ICC 50-overs events?

Harshit Anand Updated: 5 February, 2019, 4:36 PM IST


Virat Kohli sits atop of most of the batting charts. There is no better batsman in the world than Kohli at this juncture of time. It is not like he has become an overnight star. The 30 years old has been a consistent performer for India over the years.

He is often dubbed as the "run-machine." Kohli averages a whopping 59.51 in One-day internationals. It has been a format, where he is comfortably better than any other batsman by a country mile. The Indian batsman has 10,533 runs in 214 ODI innings. The 30 years old has 39 centuries and 49 fifties to his credit.

Once there were doubts over Virat's caliber in Test cricket but no one ever dared to question Kohli in ODI cricket as such has been his phenomenal run in the format. The Delhi dasher has taken the craft of ODI batsmanship to a sky-high level with his skill and tenacity.

But, somehow, Kohli has failed to transform his lofty batting standards into runs when it matters a great deal in big games of ICC megaevents.

Take a look at how Kohli has fared in ICC's 50-overs knock-out games:

Game Opposition Runs
2011 WC Quarter-final Australia 24
2011 WC Semi-final Pakistan 09
2011 WC Final Sri Lanka 35
2013 CT Semi-final Sri Lanka 58*
2013 CT Final England 43
2015 WC Quarter-final Bangladesh 03
2015 WC Semi-final Australia 01
2017 CT Semi-final Bangladesh 96*
2017 CT Final Pakistan 05

In nine innings, Kohli has 274 runs at an average of 39.14. The Indian skipper has crossed the fifty-run mark just twice in nine innings and has as many as four single-digit scores. For a man known as a prolific century-maker, the right-hander doesn't even have a single century. Kohli is yet to cross even fifty after having featured in three ICC megaevent finals.

These numbers are clearly not something that you would associate with a freak of nature like him. Even his fifties have come when openers have laid a solid platform.

In 2013 Champions Trophy semi-final, the Men in Blue needed 182 runs to win against Sri Lanka. And thankfully for India, openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan combined in a partnership of 77 runs, which greatly eased off the pressure from Kohli.

Kohli's other fifty came against Bangladesh in the semi-final game of 2017 Champions Trophy. India required 265 runs to qualify for the finale. Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan laid a solid platform and gave India the early momentum. They added 87 runs for the first wicket in 14.4 overs to sway away hopes of Bangladesh, if there were any after they scored a below-par total on a flat wicket.

I am not discounting his performances in the aforementioned games but clearly, the situation was less demanding in comparison to some of the others. Kohli's 43 in 2013 Champions Trophy final against England has been his best of the lot.

But still, overall, his underwhelming performances are of no match to the lofty standards set by the man himself. Kohli is the face of consistency in 50-overs format, and his below-par average of 39.14 in these big games, clearly highlight to a chink in his armory. It doesn't bode well with the aura of a modern-day legend.

Also, it is not like Kohli has played one or two games that we can term these performances as an exception. It is clearly a pattern of underachievement. Nine innings is enough to leave a mark. They say cometh the hour, cometh the champion. But Kohli has often went missing in big ICC 50-overs games.

AB de Villiers was often termed a "choker" for his average performances in knock-out games of ICC events, by a vast section of cricket fans. But when it comes to ODI knockouts in ICC megaevents, even he has a better average than India's talisman, though marginally. De Villiers averages 40.25 after appearing in five ICC ODI knockouts (World Cup and Champions Trophy).

2019 Cricket World Cup is just a few months away. Virat Kohli's India looks as dominant as ever. Kohli has been in sublime touch of late. But, would he be able to finally perform like the Kohli we know or the ICC's 50-overs knock-out games will again prove too bigger a challenge for him to conquer?

That only time will tell. But, he would not get a better opportunity than the upcoming ICC megaevent to conquer the only evident chink, which one can pinpoint to in Kohli the ODI batsman.

Feature Cricket

One Rules Fits All

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 5 February, 2019, 4:29 PM IST


  • Jason Holder was clearly the star of the first Test in Bridgetown
  • He scored a double century that made a huge difference
  • Holder became the instrument with which the team inflicted unexpected

Even in the midst of the euphoria surrounding the West Indies scoring their first Test series win over England since 2009 (or any high ranking team for that matter since 2012), there has been a dampener in the form of the West Indies captain being penalized with one match ban for slow over rate. Now as he is being asked to appeal the decision, here is where the conundrum lies.

Jason Holder was clearly the star of the first Test in Bridgetown, Barbados. For one, he scored a double century that made a huge difference in the run making tally of both teams, elevating one and denting the other. Besides his batting exploits, Holder was a useful bowler, picking up crucial wickets that told of West Indies’ gift in having the all-rounder in their Test team and on their side. In the constellation of island nations that boast of talented all-rounders but not enough to go around their own circuit, particularly in the longer format of the sport, Holder has been a beacon of hope for the beleaguered island nations that once dominated the sport.

In the second Test, the captain was at it once more, marshalling his resources to ensure England flattered to deceiving, wilting under the conditions of the pitch and the persevering stance of the hosts in Antigua. Picking up wickets to support the other frontline bowlers, Holder became the instrument with which the team inflicted unexpected, shocking damage on the visitors, buoyant after their home series victory over India and a whitewash handed to Sri Lanka in the Emerald Isles and certainly not expecting to be so brutally exposed and upstaged.

However, even as West Indies won hearts once more for the comprehensive manner in which they subjugated England in the second Test to win by ten wickets to follow up their first Test win by 381 runs, there was a twist in the tale. Holder was being punished for the teams slow over rate and as a result, would have to miss out the third Test in St. Lucia.

Customary for captains around the world to bear the brunt of the bowlers’ lag time and any team decisions that may have eaten into the mandatory ninety overs to be bowled in a day, Holder’s problem would not be so unique or unusual other than the fact that it would be not only a little disappointing for the team savoring the victory in a decade but also, severely hampering the team’s chances for a possible whitewash given Holder’s prowess and exploits.

It was not surprising in that context that amongst the dissenters of the rule was former Australian spin legend, Shane Warne, who contended the decision should be appealed since the match did not go the distance of five days. While that has been the argument made on several occasions, the conundrum lies in the fact that the duration of the game cannot be the yardstick by which punishment is meted out for slow over rates. The problem lies in the fact that if Holder was let off the hook in this one instance, given the jubilation that is marking West Indies’ current success, it sets up a precedent for other teams to use at a later date when their own team is facing a similar punitive action for the same offence. It is this issue that has polarized opinion in the aftermath of the Test, particularly since this has been a series that has garnered attention, as an afterthought much like the debate about the penalty.

News Cricket

Sunil Gavaskar wants Rishabh Pant in place of MS Dhoni

Staff Writer Updated: 5 February, 2019, 4:23 PM IST


  • Sunil Gavaskar wants team management to rest MS Dhoni
  • Pant has been part of 3 ODIs so far and has scored just 42 runs in two innings
  • Gavaskar also stated that he would like to see Pant at No.4 and 5

Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar wants team management to rest MS Dhoni from the upcoming five-match ODI series against Australia and give Rishabh Pant a long run keeping World Cup in mind. Gavaskar also stated that he would like to see Pant at No.4 and 5 rather than coming down the order to hit sixes and fours.

When asked if he would like to see Dinesh Karthik's as MS Dhoni's back-up option in the World Cup squad, Gavaskar said, “I would also keep Rishabh Pant. He brings that left-handedness in the top lineup as well. And I would look at playing him in the team. I will look to play him in the five one-dayers that India plays against Australia in about two weeks time. That will give us a fair idea about how the young kid is shaping up and give him some little more responsibility at say 4 or 5 because at No.6 or 7 he just going to bang...bang and blast it around and that is not what you want to see. What we want to see is may be something like what happened today, three wickets down with not too many and then he comes in and looks to play the ones and the twos, settle down and then hit the big shots to score 70 or 80 or even a hundred. That left-handed option in the middle order is very crucial. All I am saying, take a punt with Rishabh Pant."

Pant has been part of 3 ODIs so far and has scored just 42 runs in two innings. Gavaskar also backed Karthik as the third opener for India in the World Cup.

"The left-handed option in the middle order I think is very crucial. I would look at Dinesh Karthik as the third opener because you want to carry a spare opener in your 15 anyway. Even if you have three wicket-keepers in your squad, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, and Rishabh Pant, so be it. I think it will give the team just a little flexibility with the batting," he added further.