R Ashwin was at the receiving end after he Mankaded Jos Buttler of Rajasthan Royals in their first game of the ongoing IPL season. He was blasted by current and former cricketers for going against the spirit of the game.
Joining the list of people who lambasted Ashwin was James Anderson. In one of the videos, he is seen shredding Ashwin’s picture into pieces. The video was shared by Greg James, who is an English radio DJ and television presenter.
The act didn’t go down well with the Indian fans, who ridiculed Anderson for shredding Ashwin’s picture.
Meanwhile, Ashwin was unapologetic and backed his decision stating that his act was within the legal boundaries. Kings XI Punjab have done well in the current season winning three of their first four matches.
It’s that time of the year again: when a certain league wraps Mahendra Singh Dhoni in yellow before jettisoning him to the zenith from where he calls the shots and commands what he wants to achieve. Match by match, innings by innings the zenith keeps getting higher, instilling in his fans a belief that he will emulate the same authority when he dons a different colour at a grander stage – for his country in Blue.
But recent history suggests that that his authority starts fading as soon as the league ends. And, as heart-breaking as it may sound, the story might just repeat itself when India travel to England for ICC World Cup later this year.
Last year, in 2018, while captaining his side to the 3rd IPL title, MSD scored 455 runs in 15 innings at an average of 75.83. With a strike rate of 150.66 and the highest score 79 not out, the numbers would have made any cricketer proud, let alone a man in the twilight of his career.
However, the numbers don’t paint a happy picture when we look at Dhoni’s statistics in India colours post IPL 2018. He played 9 T20Is, scored 173 runs @ 43.25 with a strike rate of just above 122. In ODIs, the strike rate fell down to 74.23 which is fairly poor given his reputation and demands of the modern day game. He did manage an average of 41 in the 23 matches that he played. But one needs to remember the fact that Dhoni has been batting mostly at number four or five in the last few months. That provided him with ample opportunities to better the numbers.
So, what exactly keeps Dhoni from emulating his IPL heroics in the international arena? Pressure can’t be the reason! Time and again, he has proved that beating him in the mental game is close to impossible. His records as a finisher prove he’s got steely nerves. So is it the skill or just the age factor? Or is it a combination of both?
Dhoni has an arc like most cricketers. Bowl him there and he will demolish you to smithereens. But unlike most cricketers these days who find a way out to operate beyond their arc, Dhoni has struggled to do so. He continues to pull well off the back foot, but doing so against the pace of Jaydev Unadkat is fairly easier in comparison to the likes of Rabadas and Starcs.
Hit the deck bowlers with their back of the length deliveries have been troubling him a lot of late. In the IPL, we don’t get to see such lively pitches or the bowlers. Teams due to the limitations of playing only 4 foreign players fail to capitalise on his weakness. It’s not just the three-quarter length, wide Yorkers too were proving to be his nemesis until recently. However, in the past few months, at least intermittently, he’s figured out a way to manage those on good days.
IPL’s a heady cocktail that makes players forget about the sorrows of past. However, it’s a little different this time. India cannot afford to be hungover for long. The World Cup will begin a few weeks later and having unanimously stamped Dhoni’s name as the 1st choice keeper for the world cup, they would want that Dhoni is the same man in Blue that he is in Yellow. His form is what might decide India’s fortune at the mega event. Kohli’s shoulders can’t always burden the weight – as we have started to see for RCB. With his captaincy also under scrutiny, he would anyway be looking towards the World Cup winning skipper for help. How effective and confident are Dhoni’s inputs to him will largely depend on how many runs his ‘Mahi Bhai’ has under the belt.
Kuldeep Yadav is one of the finest spinners in international cricket. His variations and tricks are tough to read and his rise in the last couple of years has been phenomenal. He has stated that Gautam Gambhir and Shane Warne are behind his growth.
In his 6th season at Kolkata Knight Riders, Kuldeep has bowled reasonably well in the last few games. He revealed how Gambhir and Warne pushed him to reach the next level.
“It has been 6 years now that I have been with Kolkata Knight Riders and they are like family to me. Everyone supports each other in the bunch. When I joined, Gautam Gambhir was the captain and Jacques Kallis was a senior player and continues to be our coach and I learnt a lot from them. Gauti bhai always motivated and supported me and always pushed me to reach the next level. I am a senior pro now and doing my job to help the team reach its goals and help them lift this beautiful trophy,” Kuldeep said in an interview with Hindustan Times.
He is in constant touch with Shane Warne, who has helped him in becoming a better bowler.
“I watched him bowl in the 2005 Ashes series and from that day I wanted to become a bowler like him. He became my idol. I met him for the first time in Pune when we played a Test match against Australia. We spoke about a lot of things and when I went to Australia he helped me with a lot of tips. Ravi (Shastri) sir and Bharat Arun sir helped me understand what Warne was trying to convey to me. Every morning he came up with new ideas and helped me become stronger mentally and in terms of cricket skills. He is very close to me now and we chat on WhatsApp regularly,” said Kuldeep.
Pakistan middle order batsman Umar Akmal has been fined 20% of his match fee for breaking a team curfew ahead of the fifth and final one-day international against Australia on Sunday.
The Pakistan Cricket Board said in a statement on Monday that Akmal "also received an official reprimand for a late night out ... pleaded guilty to the charge, apologized for his actions and accepted the sanction proposed by team manager Talat Ali."
PCB managing director Wasim Khan said he was glad Akmal realized his mistake.
"The PCB expects a high level of professionalism and commitment from its players, and this action is a reiteration and timely reminder that any indiscipline shall not be tolerated or accepted," Khan said.
Akmal was recalled after nearly two years when Pakistan, which lost all five matches in the series, rested at least seven of its World Cup players. His 150 runs in the five ODIs could impress selectors to pick him for the World Cup.
It is not the first time Akmal had been fined for violating team curfew. In 2015, he was dropped for a Twenty20 series in England as he attended a party in Hyderabad, India, while playing in Pakistan's premier first class tournament — the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
So the 60-day countdown to the World Cup has started. The ICC showpiece event commences on May 30 and there are virtually no ODIs in which the ten participating teams will be involved in from now on. And while these are early days since the squads have yet to be announced a clear picture has emerged on who the favourites are based on past record and present form, the two criteria on which predictions are generally made.
There are of course the ICC rankings which are based on comparatively recent results. This has England, India, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia occupying the first five places and taking everything into consideration the four semifinalists should come from these five with West Indies, ranked as low as ninth being the dark horses based both on recent results and their capability to pull off the unexpected.
As defending champions and five-time winners Australia will always be among the World Cup favourite every time and they have done their reputation no harm going by recent results. Reversing a 0-2 deficit into a 3-2 victory in India and then following it up with a 5-0 whitewash over Pakistan in the UAE shows that they are peaking at the right time and they will be an even stronger team once Steve Smith and David Warner are back in the ranks.
No 1 ranked England are a handy side though based on past record one would not put them as one of the favourites. They made five straight semifinals (including twice finalists) in the first five World Cup competitions but since then their record has been disappointing. The chances of two- time champion India can never be shrugged off even if their recent form is decidedly mixed. New Zealand is a balanced outfit, strong in batting and bowling and have a rather impressive World Cup record – six time semifinalists and runners-up in 2015. Can they go all the way this time? South Africa who have found it hard to get the ``chokers’’ tag off their back – they have been semifinalists four times – will be looking forward to set that record straight and their recent 5-0 whitewash augurs well for them.
The dark horse as I said could well be the West Indies. They recently drew 2-2 with England and if Chris Gayle decides to make his international farewell a memorable one there is hardly anyone who can stop him. Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan can be ruled out of contention even for a semifinal berth. The first two teams have the past record to back them up but their present form rules them out from being serious challengers.
Royal Challengers Bangalore were expected to do some big things in the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League after adding some key names and bolstering the squad. The middle order crisis that has plagued RCB over the years, was a position they wanted to identify this time. But three matches gone for the side, Virat Kohli's men find themselves languishing at the bottom of the table.
Is there any way out? There are still 11 matches to be played and RCB need a change of fortunes to strike the right chords. Going by what we have seen, Kohli & CO. could find it difficult to make progression. Having said that, there is no connectivity in the RCB ranks and there seems a lot of disjointed elements on offer. So where it has gone wrong?
Virat Kohli as a skipper hasn't led RCB to the heights he would have expected to. His only bright moment came in 2016, where he led the side to the finale. Since then, RCB's struggles have been far too many. From not being able to identify match-winners in auctions, to go for plenty of foreign recruits, being bullish about the playing XI and lack of depth in the ranks have halted RCB's charge. This season is no different.
A skipper plays an important role in what kind of players he would like in the squad and RCB have lacked that fizz. In comparison to the Sunrisers Hyderabad, Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders, Kohli's unit lack the composure that is vividly present in these sides. Also the 30-year-old has the knack of chopping and changing too often. His opening combinations vary all the time. The changes in the side too are pretty often.
When you look at the three games in IPL 2019, RCB were bullish to not try out the experience of Tim Southee at the death. Kohli himself hasn't yet fired and there is too much pressure on someone like an AB de Villiers. In a high-pressure match against SRH, the decision to go with 16-year-old Prayas Ray Barman backfired. RCB find themselves unsettled in batting and they far often fell prey to collapses.
They have collapsed twice in three matches and the middle order also failed against Mumbai. It was a match they should have won. To be honest, Kohli's leadership attributes need to questioned here in terms of the mobility of RCB. They fail to similar issues every season under Kohli and how can there be no addressing the loopholes? On one hand we have MS Dhoni knowing what he wants and he stays true to the needs. On the other hand, we have Kohli, who hasn't yet cracked the code.
RCB will need to act tough and perhaps strip Kohli of the captaincy. They need fresh ideas and a leader, who chips in with some pivotal changes in the outlook. When it comes to international limited-overs matches, Kohli has Dhoni to guide him through. Perhaps that has played a part in his success. In the IPL he has lacked the voice from behind the stumps and someone who could help him out. RCB is likely to fail yet again this season and its a sad sight for the fans yet again.
Delhi captain, Shreyas Iyer was left speechless after his side suffered one of the worst collapses in the history of the cash-rich IPL. Delhi Capitals, who were cruising at 144/3 in the 17th over couldn't hunt down 167 runs and lost the game by 14 runs. Sam Curran claimed a hat-trick, which went a long way in Punjab's victory.
“I am really speechless. It is a crucial match and losing such matches is not going to benefit us,” Iyer said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“Really disappointing. With the way we were going, we came to run-a-ball and to lose from there, really disappointing. We didn’t play smart cricket and Punjab outplayed us in all the departments. They were really cool and calm in that situation. Our batsmen did not taking initiative to win the game,” he added.
Even against Kolkata Knight Riders, Delhi couldn't quite finish off the game despite being in a good position and as a result, the match ended in a tie. If it was not for Kagiso Rabada's super over exploits, Delhi might well have lost that game as well.