There was a time when the popular adage that sports and politics must not mix seemed the right thing to say and adhere to. But given the gravity of the escalating and chronic skirmishes that have cost lives, a loss that cannot be replaced, it is time for the BCCI to not on the ICC’s word but rather on its own merit.
Many arguments have been put forth about the idea of boycotting Pakistan on the field being a knee jerk reaction. While in the past, the stance may have been that sports could indeed perhaps serve as a bridge between nations, time has proven once too often with great pains that nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, countless of lives lost before the Pulwama attacks and after it have shown that sport has only become a side distraction to a very deep, troubling situation that is nothing short of proxy war played out over decades with no imminent solution at hand.
The idea of India boycotting the match against Pakistan on June 16th at the ICC Cricket World Cup is not a far-fetched notion. Precedent was set when teams such as Australia and the West Indies chose to forfeit their two points respectively by choosing not to travel to Sri Lanka during the ICC Cricket World Cup in 1996. Players with black arm bands chose to protest their nation’s own regime at the risk of threats to themselves and their families with relocation the only solution thereafter.
What will make a great impact than even those two teams is the fact that if the BCCI takes the call this early that India will not play Pakistan in the World Cup unless the terrorist organizations are brought to book, it will inevitably dent the ICC in the long term because it takes away the revenue equation from one of the sport’s greatest rivalry, if not the most commercially pulsating one.
Although there is a time when sports battles are settled on the field, it seems rather misplaced, even from the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, to suggest that India should restore pride with the team beating Pakistan for two points. It is hard to justify this kind of avenging scenario when the families of forty-four brave soldiers are grieving an irreparable loss and Indian cricket decides to sleep with the enemy.
It is a risk that India will take should they decide that they will not play Pakistan. Two points could indeed cost them the World Cup when the eventual tally is made. India have an unblemished record against Pakistan in cricket World Cup contests. This could leave that record with an asterix against the two points to Pakistan. But when the straw that breaks the camel’s back is now firmly front and center, not only cricket but also, other sports in the country could take a similar stand, stating not to play against nations that harbor state-sponsored terrorism. Ultimately it has a global impact because terrorism is rarely ever an isolated story.
Rather than asking for the ICC to ask other nations to endorse the idea of boycotting Pakistan altogether which it will not given how incestuous cricket is under the current scenario, the BCCI will perhaps make the loudest siren call if it stands unequivocally that it will not support Pakistan or its interests, even in sport, unless peace is restored to the valley. Thereby, the BCCI will have set the precedent for other nations, boards and sports who carry with them the burden of the history of their nations.
With the BCCI’s stand not to play Pakistan even in a multi team event, it will ultimately cost cricket and the cricket’s governing body, albeit temporarily, thereby setting in motion corrective measures that could have long lasting impact outside of the sport.
People born in the 80s and 90s have been privileged to witness cricket where the legends graced the field. Cricket back then and even in the 2000s had its own charm and significance. There weren't these T20 leagues and T20Is. All that mattered was Test cricket that boasted of the best players in the world. And then there was ODI cricket that gained significance with time.
What made cricket the sport that we all fell in love was the quality of the game. Technology like today wasn't there and there were some hostile rivalries when players took to the cricket field. Over time, things have changed. Today's cricket do not have many superstars and its become too frequent with the presence of T20s. But cricket lovers who have grown up watching classics, will feel that the previous generations was better.
We fell in love with the game because of several stars that erupted and who served a long lasting legacy for the time to come. There have been many legends who have graced the game during our lifetime. We pick these seven cricketers.
The greatest player after Sir Donald Bradman; Sachin was like religion for all of us. His heroics in both Tests and ODIs made him a class above the others. Bowlers feared him and he enjoyed the rivalry against some of the greatest. Sachin will forever be more than his stunning numbers. He gave an all-new identification to the game. The Master Blaster had a long career and he made it worth for all of us who wanted to become like him. He scored 15,921 Test runs and 18,426 ODI runs that made him the record-holder. He also smashed 100 centuries in total.
Punter was Australia's best in the previous generation. He was a batting maestro whose stroke-play and shot-making was of different level. He unsettled bowlers very easily. Ponting's success as a batsman helped him in his captaincy as well. He has been of the greatest skippers ever. He led Australia to two World Cup trophies. In total, he won three World Cups. His records in the game are outstanding. Ponting was a big match player and his aggression was spellbound. He scored 13,378 Test runs that included 41 tons. Punter bagged 13,704 ODI runs with 30 hundreds.
He is perhaps the greatest all-rounder ever to have played the sport. Kallis took South Africa to new heights and played a huge role in their success in both formats. Kallis had all the time in the world and he hardly made things easy for the opposition. Be it his batting, pace bowling and fielding at the slip cordon, Kallis mastered it all. One can refer to him as the Jack of All Trades. He scored 13,289 Test runs, besides 11,579 ODI runs. He hit 62 tons in total. With the ball, Kallis picked up 292 Test wickets and a further 272 in ODIs.
His pedigree as a pacer will always be remembered. McGrath was a different breed and his accuracy defined his success. He held some stunning records against the world's best batsmen and was a constant menace. McGrath was difficult to play against and he came out strong in the most important occasions. Australia's domination in the cricket fraternity will be known forever and McGrath played a huge role. He took 563 Test wickets and 381 ODI wickets to become the most successful pacer. He won two World Cups as well.
He is the only batsman or player from today's generation to feature in this list. Kohli took off from Sachin left. His eyes for runs and consistency with the bat makes him one of the greatest. Kohli's tryst with records have been amazing. His plethora of runs and ability to score everywhere makes him a class above everyone. He has 6613 Test runs and 10,533 ODI runs under his belt. He also has 2,167 T20I runs. The 30-year-old has a staggering 64 tons and has the potential to break Sachin's record.
Cricket without Shane Warne would have been incomplete. From bowling the 'Ball of the Century' to mesmerizing everyone with his craft, Warne was Australia's hero. He is definitely the best leg-spinner the world has ever seen. Warne was all about glory and performances. He contributed immensely to Australia's success in the golden generation days. He took 708 Test scalps and 293 ODI wickets.
Many compared him to Sachin and debates were the order of the day as in who was better. But it didn't matter to us as we got to witness both legends together. Lara's batting was art. His craftsmanship and capability to bat on and on, made him stand out. He was West Indies' best player back in his day and the team always relied on him. Several world class bowlers termed him the most difficult to bowl against. Such was his impact. He scored 11,953 Test runs and amassed 10,405 ODI runs as well.
Umesh Yadav and MS Dhoni have been made villains by the fans for India's loss in the first T20I at Vizag against Australia. India could merely score 126 runs after they were put to bat first by Australian skipper, Aaron Finch. Dhoni played a very slow knock. He scored 29 runs off 37 deliveries. He could hit just a six in his 37-ball stay at the crease.
Moreover, Dhoni turned down many singles and even a double, which raised quite a few eyebrows, especially in hindsight after the match ended on the final ball.
Umesh Yadav also got severely criticized for being India's most expensive bowler and not defending 14 runs off the final over. He conceded 35 runs in his quota of four overs. Despite players like Jhye Richardson and Pat Cummins on the crease in the last over, Yadav couldn't defend 14 runs.
Both Dhoni and Umesh faced the wrath of social media:
Top-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas clinched his first title of the year and second of his career after beating 50th-ranked Mikhail Kukushkin 7-5, 7-6 (5) in the Open 13 final on Sunday.
The 20-year-old Greek had 14 aces and won 84 percent of his first-serve points against the 31-year-old Kazakh, whose only title was nine years ago on indoor hard courts at the St. Petersburg Open in Russia.
"Winning titles is the thing that I am working for," Tsitsipas said. "It is the biggest satisfaction and the biggest joy in tennis."
His career is very much in the ascendancy.
Earlier this year, Tsitsipas became the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist since 2007 when he reached the last four of the Australian Open, getting the better of 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer along the way.
Tsitsipas did not drop a set in winning the Open 13 title in southern France and also beat Kukushkin for the second time, having won their previous meeting on outdoor hard courts in Dubai last year.
"There was a lot of stress this week because I knew I had to face some good opponents," said the 12th-ranked Tsitsipas. "When you care a lot, you tend to be more stressed than usual. I am happy that I got through that stress and played the game that I was supposed to play."
Watching goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga appearing to struggle with cramp, and with a penalty shootout looming to settle the League Cup final, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri summoned a substitute from the bench.
Kepa was furious.
Wildly gesticulating with his arms, the world's most expensive goalkeeper forcefully indicated to Sarri he would be ready to face penalties against Manchester City with the Wembley showpiece locked at 0-0 and extra time about to end.
But Sarri was determined to bring on Willy Caballero, who saved three spot kicks in the 2016 League Cup final while in City's winning side.
So Kepa, who joined Chelsea in August for 80 million euros (then $93 million), simply would not leave the field.
"It wasn't that I was refusing to be substituted," Kepa said later, after being beaten by four penalties in City's 4-3 victory in the shootout. "It was a way of trying to tell the bench that I was fine."
But Kepa's behavior wasn't fine at all, according to former Chelsea captain John Terry.
"Once your number goes up you have to come off and show a bit of respect," Terry said in the Sky Sports television studio at Wembley. "Deal with that after."
Publicly humiliated with his authority undermined, Sarri was furious and initially headed down the tunnel before returning just in time for extra time to end.
In the shootout, Kepa made only one save from Leroy Sane as Raheem Sterling completed the shootout victory to defend City's title and keep the team in contention for a quadruple.
"In no moment was it my intention to disobey, or anything like that with the boss," Kepa said. "Just that it was misunderstood because I had been attended to by the medics twice, and he thought that I wasn't in condition to continue.
"It was two or three minutes of confusion until the medics got to the bench, and they explained everything well."
After collecting his runners-up medal, Sarri sought to diffuse the controversy.
"It was a big misunderstanding," Sarri said. "I understood the goalkeeper had cramp and for me he was unable to go to penalties but the problem was not cramp so he was able to go to penalties."
The Indo-Pak clash in the upcoming World Cup has already created a stir. Ever since the Pulwama terror attack, cricket experts have been coming up with their views on whether India should boycott Pakistan in the ICC megaevent or not.
Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly had also shared their views on the same. Sachin Tendulkar had said, “India has always come up trumps against Pakistan in the World Cup. Time to beat them once again. Would personally hate to give them two points and help them in the tournament.”
Ganguly courted controversy by saying, "Sachin wants two points against Pakistan, I want the World Cup. Whichever way you look at it." Many people took Dada's statement as targetting Sachin's view.
Ganguly clarified his statement on Twitter and wrote, "A lot of people in the media is trying to put my statement against sachin s when I said “I want the World Cup”My response has got nothing to do with his statement, nor is my statement against his .. he is, has been and will be one of my best friends for last 25 years @sachin_rt."
Sachin, however, had not taken any offence to Dada's opinion on his statement and responded to Ganguly's tweet and said, "Never felt the need for you to justify. Strongly believe that all of us want what’s best for our nation."
It seemed like soccer symmetry when Kylian Mbappe made French league history on the same day Lionel Messi reached another incredible milestone.
Arguably the best player in the world, and the one strongly tipped to become the next one, achieved their feats just one hour apart.
After Barcelona star Messi scored the 50th hat trick of his astonishing career at Sevilla on Saturday, Mbappe became the youngest player to reach 50 goals in the French league when he struck twice for Paris Saint-Germain in a 3-0 win against Nimes.
Mbappe only turned 20 in December, but he seems to have been around for years. Probably because, like Messi, he shares the same precocious ability to make the difficult appear easy.
They both have a gift for producing incredible moments with routine-like regularity.
Mbappe has been breaking records since he burst onto the scene during former club Monaco's run to the league title and Champions League semifinals two years ago.
At the age of 18 years, 4 months, he was the youngest to reach 15 league goals in Europe's top five leagues since former Golden Ball winner Michael Owen for Liverpool in 1998; the youngest to net five goals in the Champions League; and the first to score in each of the first four Champions League knockout rounds he played in.
Messi is a five-time Ballon d'Or winner who has won the Champions League four times, as well as nine Spanish titles and the Golden Shoe as the European leagues' top scorer five times. The 31-year-old Argentine leads scoring again this season with 25 league goals, and he could even reach 600 goals overall for Barca by the end of it.
Mbappe's 27 goals in 31 games this season take him to 75 so far in 135 club games, and he's still rising.
Mbappe was fourth in last year's Golden Ball voting after helping France win the World Cup in Russia. Aged 19, he became the youngest player since Brazil's Pele to score in a World Cup final when he netted in the 4-2 win against Croatia .
Messi's glittering resume is still missing a World Cup title .
Given the way Mbappe is playing for PSG this season, with a league-leading 22 goals in just 20 games, he seems destined to finish higher in the next Ballon d'Or vote.
"I go by the principle that one day someone will come along and do better," he said. "You should always try to go as far as you can, otherwise, one day or another, someone will overtake you," he said.
The first T20I between India and Australia turned out to be a thriller with the match going right down to the final ball. Australia won the first T20I at Vizag by three wickets. After scoring 126 runs, no one would have given India a chance to even compete in the game forget about winning. But some brilliant bowling from Jasprit Bumrah and Krunal Pandya ensured the match went right down to the wire.
But the fans noted one incident from the match and took to social media to share the video. In one of Bumrah's overs, Kohli and Rohit were present alongside the bowler to decide, perhaps, what kind of field he would go with. The Indian vice-captain was present there but neither Kohli nor Bumrah communicated with him or even made eye contact with him.
These kinds of things happen in cricket as there are a lot of things going through in the game but some Twitter users felt Kohli and Bumrah ignored Rohit and were disrespectful towards him. Now, only players would know what happened exactly.
Check out the video here:
Rashid Khan became the first spinner to get a hat trick in a Twenty20 international as Afghanistan swept Ireland 3-0 with a 32-run victory in the third and final game on Sunday.
Mohammad Nabi's 81 off 36 balls propelled Afghanistan to 210-7 after Ireland captain Paul Stirling won the toss and chose to field. Rashid's 5-27 included the wickets of George Dockrell (18), Shane Getkate (2) and Simi Singh (0) off the first three deliveries of the 18th over to restrict Ireland to 178-8.
Kevin O'Brien top scored with 74 off 47 balls before falling to Rashid in the 16th over that took the game away from Ireland.
O'Brien and Andy Balbirnie (47) had kept Ireland in the hunt when they pushed the total to 72-1 in the first six overs.
Nabi (0-28) put the brakes on Ireland's charge by bowling a steady four-over spell before Rashid got the important breakthrough by having O'Brien caught behind.
"Feeling very good that if you're not doing well with the ball, then you're doing well with the bat," Nabi said after winning both man of the match and series awards.
Earlier, Hazratullah Zazai, who had smashed 162 not out on Saturday, provided Afghanistan with another brisk start by scoring 31 off 17 balls.
But Boyd Rankin dismissed Zazai and Usman Ghani (13) in the fifth over before Nabi single-handedly took the total beyond the 200-run mark by smashing seven sixes and six boundaries in his brisk knock.
Rankin (3-53) claimed wickets but conceded over 13 runs an over as Nabi scored boundaries at will.
Nabi was caught on the edge of the mid-wicket boundary in the 18th over.
"We were in the game 10-12 overs into the chase and then we just lost some wickets," Stirling said. "I think if you get in, you really need to go big."
Afghanistan beat Ireland by five wickets in the first match before posting 278-3 — a world record for a T20 international — in the second match on Saturday for an 84-run victory.
A five-match ODI series between the teams starts Thursday.
Reacting to Sachin Tendulkar statement that he would hate to see Men in Blue concede two pints to Pakistan by forfeiting the World Cup game against arch rivals, his former teammate and close friend Sourav Ganguly in an apparent dig aimed at Sachin stated that he would love to see India with the World Cup trophy rather than thinking too much about two points.
"He wants two points against Pakistan, I want the World Cup. Whichever way you look at it," Ganguly told reporters on the sidelines of Street Child Cricket World Cup 2019.
Sourav Ganguly praised the current Indian team and said the final decision has to be taken by Indian government.
"That is the only way forward. For what he can control is the way they have played and the way they will play. They are a phenomenal side and they have played absolutely superb cricket for the last six months and that is all he can do and not worry about what is going on. Rest, it is the government who takes the decision on whether to play Pakistan and I am sure that cricketers will stick to that," he added.
After Rishabh Pant issued a warning to MS Dhoni ahead of the Indian Premier League 2019 season, Jasprit Bumrah has done the same. He warned Virat Kohli and stated that he is looking forward to dismiss the world's best batsman to attain the status of best bowler in the world.
In the video released by Star Sports on Twitter, he is seen saying:"World ka best bowler? Nehi yaar. Abhi toh world ke best batsman ke dande udana baaki he. Aa raha hu Cheeku bhaiya aur iss baar, aap meri team mein bhi nahin rahenge. (World's best bowler? Not yet. I still have to dismiss the best batsman in the world. Virat Kohli, I am coming, and this time I am not even part of your team.)" At the end of the video, Kohli is seen and his expression shows that he is perfectly up for the challenge.
Here’s the video:
Afghanistan have broken a number of records during the second T20 match against Ireland. They posted a mammoth total of 278 for the loss of three wickets from their allotted 20 overs against a helpless bowling attack.
They surpassed the highest T20 total of 263/3 by Australia, which they had scored against Sri Lanka in 2016. Hazratullah Zazai and Usman Ghani, the two openers, set a new partnership record for the opening wicket with a brilliant 236-run stand.
Hazratullah remained unbeaten on 162, which is the highest T20 score by an Asian player.
Indian vice-captain Rohit Sharma trolled Yuzvendra Chahal in a hilarious way ahead of the first T20 match against Australia. Rohit Sharma posted a picture of the Indian spinner where he is seen posing shirtless.
Chahal responded back after some time and his reply was epic. He shared a screenshot of Rohit shaking his leg.
It all started when Chahal tweeted a picture of himself, Rohit Sharma and Krunal Pandya enjoying after the practice session for the first T20. He captioned it: “My reaction when they tell me you are batting at number 3 tomorrow."
Rohit Sharma hit back instantly and posted the same picture and wrote: "When the #GoatOfInstagram makes a joke it's mandatory for us commoners to laugh."
Kuldeep Yadav enjoyed the hilarious banter and gave his reaction.
India will take on Australia in the first T20 on Sunday. The two teams are scheduled to play two T20Is and five ODIs, which is the last international assignment before the World Cup in England and Wales.
Virat Kohli feels it would have been “more logical” if Indian team was given a couple of more ODIs than two T20 Internationals in lead up to the ICC Cricket World Cup, which commences from May 30 in England and Wales. India will be playing two T20Is and five ODIs against Australia. It is going to be final international series for the Men in Blue ahead of the ICC megaevent.
On the eve of the opening T20I against the Kangaroos, Kohli said, “Probably, a couple of more ODIs would have been more beneficial for both the teams not just us. It would have been more ideal and logical.”
“But look we have to utilize what’s in front of us as best as possible. And as I said we’re going to look to get into the right kind of frame of mind as a team,” the 30 years old added.
India have more or less a settled team but given the enormity of a World Cup, Kohli didn't rule out playing a stand-out performer.
“We’re more or less sorted. But through the course of the series, you might see something which might surprise you as a team and which you might want to change immediately. But those are things that are upon how circumstances come in front of you,” he said.
Cricketers come in different sizes, shapes and shades. They are the over rated and the under rated, those who have a lot of hype built around them and those who are undemonstratively effective. Quinton de Kock is among those cricketers who are under rated and quietly explosive. He does not have a larger than life image, does not figure prominently in discussions, his game is not analyzed as much as some of the others who dominate the cricketing world. But in his own undemonstrative manner he has done more than his bit to see that South Africa stay at second spot just behind India in the Test rankings and among the top four in ODIs.
In the last few years even as the chief attention has been on Hashim Amla’s charming strokeplay, AB de Villiers' pyrotechnics, and the emergence of a new crop of world class fast bowlers de Kock in his own way has frequently had the focus diverted to him. Indeed in the half a dozen years since he has been around the international circuit it has been difficult to keep him out of the headlines because of his work behind the stumps and in front of them and whether it is Tests or the shorter formats of the game. It is not every cricketer who is highly successful in all formats but de Kock is one of a handful.
But whenever his name crops up it is batting approach that is the subject of discussion for de Kock bats the same breezy manner in every format of the game and whatever the situation. This is a very rare quality but the number of times he has come to South Africa’s rescue is legion. The latest example is the ongoing Test against Sri Lanka at Port Elizabeth. He came in at 73 for four on a lively surface and just sailed into the bowling. He does not defuse a crisis with back to the wall defensive batting but by thrilling counter attacks and by the time he was eighth out at 216 he had hit 86 off 87 balls much of it with just the tail for company. But then this is not an isolated case; he has done it time and again.
A strike rate of 73 in Tests allied to a strike rate of almost 95 in ODIs sums up de Kock’s approach. Consistency is not a quality associated with this kind of swashbuckling batting but de Kock has got 13 hundreds in 101 innings in ODIs and an average of 44 makes him an unusually reliable opening batsman. And an average of 40 in 40 Tests to go along with this with four hundreds – almost every time in a crisis – makes de Kock one of South Africa’s most valuable players. Perhaps it is time for him to be the subject of some deserving hype.
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