News Cricket

Men in Blue are favourites for World Cup title - Shikhar Dhawan

Staff Writer Updated: 10 April, 2019, 4:35 PM IST


Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan, who is struggling big time in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League, has stated that India are favourites for the upcoming World Cup in England.

The left hand batsman has been found wanting so far and his recent form is a cause of concern for Virat Kohli, who is looking to win his second World Cup title as a player.

In an interview with Boria Majumdar, Dhawan further added that he was keeping himself fit and fresh ahead of the World Cup.

"The Indian team has a perfect blend of experience and youth," Dhawan told India Today's Boria Majumdar.

Shikhar has scored only 152 runs from 6 matches for Delhi Capitals in IPL 2019 but he was confident of scoring runs in the mega event.

"I have done well in ICC events and this year will be no different," Dhawan told India Today's Boria Majumdar.

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News Cricket

MS Dhoni, wife Sakshi sleep on the airport floor

Harshit Anand Updated: 10 April, 2019, 5:27 PM IST


MS Dhoni is one of the coolest cricketers in the world. We are not only talking about his cool and calm demeanor on the field but even off it, he is the guy next door. He is humble and grounded and keeps doing normal things, which enhances his connectivity with his fans. No wonder why he is such an immensely popular figure in India.

"After getting used to IPL timing this is what happens if u have a morning flight," Dhoni captioned the picture that he shared on his Instagram account.

This is again a typical Mahi moment. He might be one of the richest cricketers in the world but that didn't stop him sleeping on the airport floor. No one can match Mahi, quite simply.

Earlier, CSK crushed KKR by seven wickets at Chepauk. Batting first, Kolkata had made 108 runs, out of which Andre Russell made 50. For CSK, Deepak Chahar picked up three wickets while spinners, Tahir and Harbhajan claimed two wickets each. CSK chased down the total with seven wickets in hand.

News Cricket

When SRK met MS Dhoni at Chepauk

Harshit Anand Updated: 10 April, 2019, 4:53 PM IST


MS Dhoni and Shah Rukh Khan are two of the biggest stars. Both enjoy immense fanfare among a vast section of society. One is the king of Bollywood while the other is Cricket's Thala. Yesterday, SRK's team Kolkata Knight Riders took on MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings.

CSK's official Twitter handle posted a picture where both the icons of the country can be seen talking to each other. The caption read, "#Thala, Chennai Express Super!#WhistlePodu #Yellove #CSKvKKR." The picture broke the internet soon and everyone was talking about it on social media.

It was not the best of days for SRK as CSK crushed KKR by seven wickets after Dhoni won the toss and put the visitors to bat. Batting first, Kolkata made 108 runs, out of which Andre Russell made 50. For CSK, Deepak Chahar picked up three wickets while spinners, Tahir and Harbhajan claimed two wickets each. CSK chased down the total with ease.

News Cricket

Selection in World Cup squad will be dream come true – Rishabh Pant

Staff Writer Updated: 10 April, 2019, 4:48 PM IST


Rishabh Pant is playing for Delhi Capitals in the ongoing Indian Premier League but he is also thinking about his selection in the World Cup squad. However, he is still not sure whether he will be picked for the showpiece event in England. Pant stated that it would be a dream come true for him if he makes it to the team.

He has been criticized for his rash shots and even in the IPL, Pant has been dismissed despite setting his eyes in during the course of the match.

"World Cup selection will be a dream come true. I want to win matches for India and be more consistent and finish more games for the country," Rishabh Pant told Boria Majumdar (Consulting Editor Sports, India Today Group).

Pant has scored 176 runs from 6 IPL games so far and is hoping to finish on a high.

News Cricket

Kane Williamson and Khaleel Ahmed fit for the clash against Delhi

Harshit Anand Updated: 10 April, 2019, 4:37 PM IST


Sunrisers Hyderabad will get a big boost in their next clash against Delhi Capitals which will take place on April 14 at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium. Hyderabad lost their last match against Mumbai Indians despite a brilliant show with the ball in hand. SRH have been overdependent on David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, and Vijay Shankar.

SRH coach, Tom Moody posted three tweets on Twitter to announce the fitness update, which comes as a huge relief for 2018 IPL finalists.

He tweeted, "Back in Hyderabad, have a few days off before our next match against #DC (14th). Chance to freshen up, reflect and improve for the business end of the tournament. #OrangeArmy #onwardsandupwards"

Hyderabad have played six games so far and have won three and lost three games each. It has been a mixed start for them. With Williamson returning, the question is who will he replace in the XI? Warner and Bairstow pick themselves in the side on their form. The Afghan spin duo of Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi has also done a good job for them. Also, fast bowler Khaleel Ahmed will be available for selection.

News Cricket

Michael Vaughan's post on pigs and cows on Indian roads irk fans

Staff Writer Updated: 10 April, 2019, 2:44 PM IST


Former English skipper has landed himself in a major controversy after his comments on stray animals on the road didn't go down well with the fans. He is in India at the moment discharging his duties as a commentator in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League.

However, his words “love traveling in #India” rubbed the Indian fans in a wrong way with many blasting him for his indirect trolling of the country. One of the fans even lambasted him for being the citizen of a nation that took wealth out of India.

Here’s his tweet:

Here’s how fans reacted:

Earlier, he had stated that Virat Kohli should take rest as his IPL franchise was already out of the contention for the play-offs.

“If India are smart they rest @imVkohli now for the World Cup Give him some time off before the big event #IPL2019,” Vaughan wrote on his Twitter handle.

News Cricket

MS Dhoni calls these two CSK players "old wine"

Harshit Anand Updated: 10 April, 2019, 1:59 PM IST


Chennai Super Kings are on a roll in the 12th edition of the IPL. They continued their red-hot streak at Chepauk as they defeated Kolkata Knight Riders quite comprehensively (by seven wickets) yesterday. Now, Dhoni-led CSK have won 16 out of their last 17 matches at Chennai. They have also climbed to the top of the table in 2019 IPL again.

The 38-year-old Harbhajan (2/15) and the 40-year-old Tahir (2/21) were the standout performers for the Men in Yellow. Put into bat, KKR struggled and failed to put up a competing score on the board.

Former Indian captain and incumbent CSK captain, MS Dhoni praised his old warhorses. “Age is on their side (Harbhajan and Tahir). They are like old wine and they are maturing,” Dhoni said.

“Bhajji (Harbhajan) has done well in whatever games he has played. I have fallen back on Imran (Tahir) whenever needed and he has come up with very good performances.

“Overall, the bowling unit looks good. But once we play on better and flatter wickets with smaller boundaries, we will have to see what is the best combination to play with,” he added.

“I have fallen back on Tahir and he has done the job. He has confidence in me. He has got a very good flipper,” he said.

“He (Tahir) is someone who if you tell that this is the right pace to bowl on, he does it most of the times. He is someone who deceives the batsman quite a few times.

“Not only a good leggie and googly, he has got a very good flipper. Overall he is a good package,” Dhoni added.

Feature Cricket

A Call on the Workload

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 10 April, 2019, 1:51 PM IST


Even as the pace picks up in the Indian Premier League, the fact cannot be lost on the cricketers that while the IPL matches have their place, there is a huge national commitment in the form of the ICC Cricket World Cup not that far ahead. In that light, there are decisions to be made as some of the players from other teams will be heading back home in about a weeks’ time.

As fast paced and as suspenseful as the matches in the IPL 2019 have been, there is, also, a sense of urgency about the manner in which teams are going about the business of shoring up points in the round robin of home and away. And it is with good reason. No team really wants to leave it to the end to have to make it a situation of winning the rest of the matches, not while they are reduced in terms of first class personnel.

The reason this IPL may seem a little more frantic in terms of points chasing and winning has to do with the fact that while some teams would have learnt from previous seasons when making a comeback is always a lot tougher, the greater reason is that the business end of the tournament is likely to see far less international cricketers participating as the tournament reaches a climax. With the ICC Cricket World Cup in England now not far away, some cricket boards have already set the deadlines of when their players must return back, even in the midst of the IPL so as to begin early preparatory and conditioning camps with an eye on the ICC Cricket World Cup.

That narrows the options for many of the teams, and the only real conundrum from that point on is how much the Indian cricketers can shoulder, given that their own national captain, Virat Kohli, has been quite vociferous about the workload management issue although just ahead of the IPL, he seemed to be backtracking on his words. The BCCI will not be deliberately interfering with the franchisee owners, not with the bottom line on the line. That brings it down to the individual players since it is arguable that the patriotic argument of resting their players does not arise for the franchisee owners who have invested in their teams from a corporate mindset.

With the allegiance for all, the BCCI, the franchisee owners and the players, resting on the revenue as far as the IPL is concerned, it is a huge question mark that those players who were concerned about the workload and those who are concerned for the others in the team may all be seen pushing the IPL agenda right till the very end, when it is quite possible that niggles and injuries and preparations will have to go down the wire as far as India’s agenda at the ICC Cricket World Cup is concerned.

Feature Cricket

RCB’s failures put Virat Kohli the captain under pressure

Partab Ramchand Updated: 10 April, 2019, 11:28 AM IST


The focus is very much on Virat Kohli these days but not as batsman supreme but as a losing captain whose team has suffered six straight defeats and is virtually out of contention for a place in the IPL play offs. It is not often that a team has this sort of unenviable record in the competition and when it happens to a high profile outfit like Royal Challengers Bangalore questions are bound to be asked about the captain’s ability to get the best out of the players under him, his tactical acumen and even whether he should continue in his post. Gautam Gambhir for one has made it clear that Kohli has been very fortunate to continue as captain despite his dismal record.

Considering Kohli’s impressive captaincy record in international cricket it is a quandary as to why he is unable to lift his IPL team to perform better. In Tests he is just one victory away from equaling MS Dhoni’s Indian record of 27 wins; his victories have come in 46 Tests, Dhoni’s in 60. In ODIs his 49 wins in 68 matches give him a high percentage (74) of wins while in T-20 cricket he has a respectable 12 wins in 22 games.

Kohli has led RCB for seven years now and in over 100 matches with a record of 44 wins against 53 losses. Yet the team perennially listed as one of the favourites has yet to win a single title. One can point out to batting failures, bowlers flopping or errors in the field and say that the captain cannot be blamed for these lapses. This is true to a point but the really outstanding leader is one who goads his men on, never gives up and leads from the front. All this should come easily to a cricketer like Kohli who wears his passion on his sleeve.

To be fair to him Kohli has been let down by his bowlers and fieldsmen. The 18th and 19th overs in the game against Kolkata Knight Riders going for 52 runs is a case in point and according to calculations more than a dozen catches have been dropped in the six matches. As the cricketing cliché goes you can’t set a field for bad bowling. Ultimately however the buck stops with the captain. It is not a bad side that Kohli has got and a glance at the RCB line-up will indicate the large number of big names. There have been calls for him to step down and take rest before the World Cup. But knowing Kohli and how proud and passionate he is that will be the last option for him. The best he can do now is to hope that RCB’s fortunes will change for the better. After all there is a limit to successive setbacks and the tide is bound to turn. It is only a question of when.

News Cricket

Rohit Sharma suffers injury ahead of match against KXIP clash

CT Contributors Updated: 10 April, 2019, 10:11 AM IST


The skipper of Mumbai Indians, Rohit Sharma has injured himself ahead of the IPL match against Kings XI Punjab at the Wankhede stadium. He was seen limping off the field holding his right thing while running during training session.

Rohit Sharma was in pain and lied on the ground as he was being checked by team physio Nitin Patel. The right hand batsman was not able to walk properly and had to drag himself to the dressing room.

If it is a hamstring injury, it could take between two to six weeks. With the Indian team for the World Cup to be announced on April 15, Rohit's injury might impact the selection of the squad.

Feature Tennis

The WTA field is an open one

Partab Ramchand Updated: 9 April, 2019, 4:58 PM IST


The last half a century has produced legends who have dominated women’s tennis for long periods. In the sixties and seventies there was Margaret Court and Billie Jean King, then came the duo of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova who dominated the seventies and eighties. Thereafter it was the era of Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Martina Hingis in the eighties and nineties while the two Williams sisters Venus and Serena have dominated the tennis world in the new millennium. All of them won multiple Grand Slam titles besides being ranked No 1 for a long while. Graf for example was ranked No 1 for a record 377 weeks – the longest period for any player, male or female.

In recent years Venus has fallen by the wayside but Serena like a true durable all-time great has continued to be ranked No 1 and winning Grand Slams. There is no denying however that her fortunes are finally on the decline and one is not sure whether she will achieve her lifelong ambition of equaling Court’s all time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. She is only one short but she last won a Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 2017 and was runner-up at Wimbledon and US Open last year. At this year’s Australian Open she went down to Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals and with the competition from the GenNext of players stepping up Serena could find it difficult to serve and volley her way back to the top. The 37-year-old is currently No 11 on the WTA rankings and that in itself is a tribute to her fighting qualities for she had slipped out of the top 100 after she missed a lot of tournaments following the birth of her child.

Serena however could be the last of the all-time greats at least for some time for the current crop of young players however good they are do not give the impression of surging towards legendary status. In a way this is good for the world of women’s tennis for there is keen competition between the players several of them who are evenly matched. This is illustrated by the fact that the No 1 ranking has changed several times in the post Serena phase. The current No 1 is Naomi Osaka but there are half a dozen others who been ranked No 1 at some time. And except for Angelique Kerber who has won three Grand Slam singles titles the other leading players have won just one or two and in some cases none. Also the top players are closely bunched together with very few points separating them and this makes the WTA field an open one which in turn means that it could be exciting season ahead as the women head for the clay court season.

Feature Cricket

Mankading: Now a Bad Name?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 9 April, 2019, 4:55 PM IST


It was strange reading one of India’s greatest cricketers attributing the idea of giving the name, Mankad, to a form of dismissal an insult to the yesteryear’s cricketer. Not only is there no other cricketer with such a label but also, it is far from being an insult for upholding the rule book.

Sunil Gavaskar, former Indian captain who now works as a columnist and cricket commentator, wrote an article piece in which he called out a lazy journalist who first attributed the kind of dismissal attached to the non-striker at the bowling crease for using the name ‘Mankad’ way back in 1947 since it was India’s Vinoo Mankad who effected the run out. At the time, while there was much controversy, even the late great Sir Donald Bradman advocated that Mankad had gone by the laws of cricket and he saw no harm in the manner of dismissal of his Australian cricketing colleague. Ever since the name has stuck.

But in a strange twist, Gavaskar now wants the name of the careless batsman attached to the form of dismissal and suggested that the Indian journalists and writers had done wrong by continuing to attribute the dismissal to the late cricketer. The situation, of course, was ignited by the controversy that had Ravichandran Ashwin, the Kings XI Punjab captain, having to take cover under the law, as he was barraged with being unsporting to put it mildly. Under the radar went England’s Jos Buttler who was a repeat offender in this instance of the bizarre dismissal.

Even more interestingly, at the heart of the matter was not the name of the dismissal but rather the manner of dismissal effected by Ashwin. Such was the heat of the debate that even the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), considered the custodians of the game, had a tough time arriving at the merit of the dismissal, first adjudging it as valid and then throwing a seed of doubt a day later in an embarrassing volte-face.

Why Sunil Gavaskar should raise this issue of the name is best known to him. What is surprising though is that he interprets the name attached as being derogatory when in fact, it is a great validation that the former cricketers, who are only too often forgotten by young generations, are recalled for their valid contributions to the sport. Taking Vinoo Mankad’s name is a matter of pride. Why make some Bill Brown famous for being callous on the field, more than half a century after the fact?

News Cricket

Buttler to Ashwin: "You really wish to play the game this way"? Ashwin: Yes!

Harshit Anand Updated: 9 April, 2019, 4:47 PM IST


The mankading incident that took place in the match between Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab early on in the 12th edition of IPL is one of the most controversial incidents in the history of the lucrative league. Punjab's captain, R Ashwin had ran-out Rajasthan's opener, Jos Buttler. Ashwin got slammed by quite a few English players in wake of the incident.

Jos Buttler has opened up on the whole controversy again. “I was disappointed. It doesn’t happen often in cricket, but when it does it actually is disappointing. Unfortunately, I have got out in a similar fashion before as well, so I will make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Jos Buttler was quoted as saying by Times of India.

When asked about what he said to Ashwin, Jos Buttler revealed: “I just asked him if he really wishes to play the game that way. Whether he thought it was the right thing to do. And he obviously thought it was, in his opinion.”

Ashwin has defended his action and as it comes under the laws of the game, it should have been a normal affair. But that was not the case. And everything was blown out of proportion.

News Cricket

MSK Prasad makes a BIG statement about World Cup selection

Harshit Anand Updated: 9 April, 2019, 4:07 PM IST


India's World Cup squad will be announced on April 15. There are a lot of talks as to who will make it on the bus to England and who will not? At present, IPL is going on in full swing. After India's limited-overs skipper, Virat Kohli, and vice-captain, Rohit Sharma cleared that IPL will not have any bearing on the World Cup selection, now India's chief selector, MSK Prasad has also clarified that IPL will not be a criterion for selecting the team for ICC's showpiece event.

"No, I don't think we are looking at IPL showing," MSK Prasad was quoted as saying by India Today. He also added that IPL will have no bearing on final selection. When asked about the impact of IPL performance on selection, he said "No, not really (impact of IPL on WC selection). We are quite clear.”

Earlier, Kohli had said, "We need to be absolutely clear of what team we want for the World Cup. I don’t see anything changing on how the IPL goes for any of the players.”

India's vice-captain, Rohit had also opined, “I personally think IPL should not be criteria for selection. You can't select a 50 overs team based on a 20 overs franchise competition. Yes, form matters. But we have played enough ODI cricket over the last year to know who stands where.”

News Cricket

No place for in-form Usman Khawaja in Shane Warne’s Australian squad for WC

Staff Writer Updated: 9 April, 2019, 3:45 PM IST


Australia went on to win eight straight ODIs in the recent times. The team from Down Under defeated India in the ODI series and then thumped Pakistan in the five-match series.

Aaron Finch, the skipper, was in awful form in India but he came back in style against Pakistan. Another batsman, who made vital contribution in the last two series is Usman Khawaja.

The left hand batsman was adjudged Man of the Series against India. Usman is Australia's top performer in the ongoing year with 769 runs in 13 matches at an average of 59-plus so far this year.

However, former spinner Shane Warne has left out the left-hander from his squad of 15 for the WC. He picked D’Arcy Short ahead of Khawaja to open with David Warner. Warne demoted Finch to No. 3 while picking Steve Smith for No.4 slot.

Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson and Adam Zampa are the other members of the squad.