News Cricket

MS Dhoni saved me from getting dropped a few times: Ishant Sharma

Harshit Anand Updated: 16 March, 2019, 5:21 PM IST


Indian Test pacer, Ishant Sharma has disclosed how much former Indian captain, MS Dhoni supported him during his captaincy tenure. Ishant has been great for India in Test cricket in the last few years. He is one of the vital cogs of the Indian Test team. But, he struggled a lot for consistency during the early part of his career.

Speaking to IANS, the lanky Indian pacer revealed that, "Mahi bhai saved me from getting dropped a few times. He backed me a lot. Yes, now being the senior member of the team Virat comes up to me and says ‘I know you are tired and fatigued, but as a senior member you have to do it for the team’.

“Earlier, I was just looking to bowl well but now I am looking to perform and want to take wickets. Only wickets can change perception,” he added.

Ishant Sharma is touted as a specialist Test match player. He also opened up on what he thinks about that. “Yes, perception is a big part that players have been dealing with. I don’t know from where this comes from. I don’t think about too many things.

“I just take it as an opportunity and if I do well, I will be in a position to stake a claim in the World Cup squad,” he said.

Asked if he did speak to anyone about not finding a place in the limited-overs team, Ishant said: “To be honest I haven’t spoken to anyone about where I am lacking. I am someone who is very harsh on myself and don’t go to others for a reason. I feel if I am not selected the blame lies with me.”

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Feature Cricket

The Baffling Case of S. Sreesanth

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 16 March, 2019, 5:30 PM IST


When not creating trouble on the field, Sreesanth has kept himself in the headlines off it. Following the 2013 spot fixing scandal that rocked the Indian Premier League, Sreesanth’s subsequent arrest and legal battle has stayed in the headlines. But even as he expresses optimism five years hence, there is plenty to be confused about.

What might seem like victory for India’s fast bowler, S. Sreesanth, is in reality only a part of a reprieve. The larger battle remains. After five years of serving time under the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) imposed life ban, S. Sreesanth is rejoicing the fact that the Supreme Court has overturned the BCCI decision. But it does not yet make Sreesanth immediately eligible to play.

What has been missed in the fine print is that the Supreme Court has directed the BCCI to decide a fresh quantum of punishment within the next three months for the disgraced fast bowler while terming the life ban harsh. And there is a caveat for why the highest judicial body in the country may have arrived at that conclusion.

In India, there is still not enough laws about cheating in sport and certainly no mention of terms of such as match fixing or spot fixing. In that light, while there are pending criminal proceedings against Sreesanth and two of his team mates with whom he played in the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League until the trio was hauled up for trying to fix matches, there is no precedent in such matters. Furthermore, with evidence more circumstantial than substantial, trickily conclusive to a spectator but not necessarily standing up without blemish in a court of law, it is understandable why the apex judicial body made such a move.

For the BCCI, it is another life ban over turn after one was handed to former Indian captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, after Hansie Cronje, the former South African captain, now deceased, mentioned the former’s name amongst those who had colluded in the match fixing saga that rocked the cricket world in 1999-2000. However, while it might seem that the BCCI has been unable to stick conclusive evidence to these players, leaving the cricket world strangely and awkward divided between rejecting these players and their past performances outright or letting their on field accolades stay as acknowledgement in the larger interest in the sport, the taint has only left cricket poorer.

While Sreesanth can hope to return to the cricket field, despite being thirty-five years of age and having lost five years, the battles as far as clearing his name still looms because while the Supreme Court has lifted the life ban, it has not reprieved him of the guilty charge derived by the BCCI’s disciplinary committee that handed the cricketer the life ban in the first place.

Feature Tennis

Prajnesh has it in him to break into the top 50

Partab Ramchand Updated: 16 March, 2019, 5:28 PM IST


Prajnesh Gunneswaran’s fan list is predictably growing with each passing day and heading the list is Vijay Amritraj who is of the view that India’s top player has it in him to rise to the top 50 in the ATP rankings. It is well over three decades since India last had a player in the top 50. Ramesh Krishnan of course had peaked at No 23 in 1985 and before that Vijay himself had peaked at No 16 in 1980.

In the last 25 years despite being the country’s leading players Leander Paes and Somdev Devvarman had reached a high of 73 and 62 in the rankings. So it will really be something if Prajnesh can make it to the top 50. At the moment he is still some distance away with a ranking of 82. But even that is fairly remarkable given the fact that he was 243 at the start of 2018. However the left hander from Chennai fully aware of the intense competition gave himself more realistic goals. Getting into the top 100 was the first priority which he achieved earlier this year. Then he was perched at 97 for some time before a brilliant performance at the Indian Wells Masters saw him reach a career best 82.

It is this showing in a star studded field that included the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic that saw Prajnesh attract considerable attention. Coming through the qualifying rounds he defeated world No 63 Benoit Paire in the first round and then got the better of world No 18 Nikoloz Basilashvili in the second round. This unexpectedly successful run was halted in the third round by the big serving Croat Ivo Karlovic. But Prajnesh has served ample evidence that he could well be India’s most successful singles player since Ramesh Krishnan and that is good news for Indian tennis.

Indeed Vijay never fails to drive home the point that India are not making progress in the Davis Cup because they do not have good singles players. Another to echo this view is Mahesh Bhupathi. India’s non-playing captain said that there should be at least two players in the top 100 after India went down to Italy in the Davis Cup play-off tie a couple of months ago. India does have one now but two other leading players Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan are languishing out of the top 100. Yuki in fact reached a high of 83 last year but was not able to maintain this and has since slipped to 137. Ramkumar reached a high of 111 and then fell to 136.

In the Davis Cup singles play counts for four ties and doubles only one. This is the reason why India once regulars in the World Group have been languishing in the Asia /Ocenia regional group for some time now. India has produced some of the top doubles players in Paes, Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna but the lack of good singles players has meant that India has not been able to progress in the Davis Cup and why Indian players are unable to make any headway when it comes to the ATP Tour. Under the circumstances Prajnesh’s exploits come as a whiff of fresh air.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli reveals his best game for Royal Challengers Bangalore

Staff Writer Updated: 16 March, 2019, 5:25 PM IST


Virat Kohli is one of the best batsmen in international cricket right now. He has broken several records in all forms of cricket. However, he is still to win the Indian Premier League title with Royal Challengers Bangalore. Ahead of the new season, Virat Kohli has revealed his favorite match for RCB.

The Champions League T20 match between RCB and MI saw Virat Kohli smashing 49 runs but his franchise lost the match on the last delivery. Kohli said although RCB were defeated, he was praised for his knock.

"I clearly remember the Champions League T20 Game in 2010 against Mumbai Indians in Durban, where I scored 49 runs, but we lost the game in the last delivery. I consider it as one of my most memorable innings wearing the RCB jersey," Kohli was quoted as saying by IANS.

"When everyone had given up, I stayed till the end and almost won us the game. This gave me a lot of confidence, and everyone who watched that game, appreciated me. That was my #GameBanayegaName moment, the innings that gave me extensive recognition. Mumbai Indians team consisted of Zaheer Khan who bowled that last over along with Sachin Paaji and Bajju pa; and they all saw the game and noticed what I could potentially do, and for me that was a big moment," Kohli added.

News Cricket

Anil Kumble picks India’s squad for World Cup

Staff Writer Updated: 16 March, 2019, 5:24 PM IST


Former India coach Anil Kumble has named his India squad for the upcoming World Cup. While he included Rishabh Pant and Khaleel Ahmed, he preferred Vijay Shankar over Ravindra Jadeja.

“I’ll go with the obvious 11, which I believe selects itself. Which is Rohit, Shikhar, Virat, MS, Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvi, Chahal, Kuldeep, Bumrah, Shami. So this will be our 11. Not necessarily the playing 11 but then you know they will definitely be the 11 which will be a part of the 15. The 12, 13, 14, 15 is a challenge; I believe that it’ll either be Vijay Shankar or Jadeja, one of them and from what you’ve seen of Vijay Shankar as a batsman. I think he gets the nod. From a bowling perspective, he still doesn’t have the opportunity or I don’t think you can trust him to bowl your 10 overs. So that’s a bit of a challenge so I would go with Vijay Shankar,” Kumble told CricketNext.

Anil Kumble’s India squad for World Cup: Virat Kohli (captain), MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed, Ambati Rayudu, Rishabh Pant and Vijay Shankar.

News Cricket

India to win World Cup if Virat Kohli performs at his best - Ricky Ponting

Staff Writer Updated: 16 March, 2019, 5:21 PM IST


Australian great Ricky Ponting feels if Virat Kohli performs at his best in the World Cup, Men in Blue have a great chance of landing their third trophy.

The Indian skipper has been in exceptional form in international cricket and is the number one batsman in ODIs and Test cricket.

When he was asked to pick one batsman between Sachin and Virat, he said: “I don't think we can get to the conclusion till Virat's career is over. Only then will we have a clearer picture. Sachin is a legend. Yes, you can say Virat is piling up runs. His Test average is more than 50 (53.76). But Sachin maintained that (average) in 200 Tests. Virat's ODI record, though, is unbelievable. That's why I feel India are a very dangerous side. If Virat has a good World Cup, India will win.”

News Cricket

Sourav Ganguly says both Pant and Dinesh Karthik might not get selected for World Cup

Staff Writer Updated: 16 March, 2019, 4:55 PM IST


There is a lot of debate going around regarding the spot of India's reserve wicket-keeper for the World Cup. MS Dhoni is going to take the flight to England but most likely, only one between Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant will get selected for the ICC's showpiece event. 

Former Indian captain, Sourav Ganguly, who had led India to the finals of the 2003 World Cup stated that there might be a case of India overlooking both Pant and Karthik for the World Cup. 

"It is quite possible that none of either Pant or Karthik are selected for the World Cup. The way they have backed Vijay Shankar recently, it is possible that none of the two frontline backup wicket-keepers will make it to England. So in the event that Shankar is chosen, only one amongst KL Rahul, Pant and Karthik will be selected," Sourav Ganguly told on IndiaTV's show 'Cricket Ki Baat'.

However, if given a choice, Dada will pick Pant over DK. "I would back Rishabh Pant over Dinesh Karthik. The latter has played a lot of cameos but we haven't seen him play a big innings while pulling the team out of trouble like Kedar Jadhav does for India. So, if I have to choose one amongst the two, I would go for Pant as he is a player of the future."

News Cricket

Even I wouldn't watch a biopic on me, then why would the audience: Sunil Gavaskar 

Staff Writer Updated: 16 March, 2019, 4:39 PM IST


Indian legendary batsman, Sunil Gavaskar feels a biopic on him won't be interesting at all, as he is a leading a very normal life, which doesn't have much spice. Gavaskar was considered as the gold dust of Test match batting during his heydays. He was the first batsman in Tests to score 10,000 runs and also cross the 30-century mark. He ended up with 34 Test centuries. 

Gavaskar revealed whether a biopic should be made on him or not. "I am really not interested in making a biopic on me. I have a very regular, normal routine life. As an audience, even I do not want to watch it on-screen. Why would people do that then? I was approached with the proposal of a biopic a few times, but I think my life is not interesting for a biopic," Gavaskar told IANS.

He had also met Bollywood director, Kabir Khan a while back, who is making a biopic on Kapil Dev '1983' starring Ranveer Singh.The Indian legens said, "Yes, I met Kabir and the kind of conversation that we have regarding the making of the film was more to do with the era of that World Cup Tournament... The journey of the team up to that match. We had a conversation on that regards."

"But I think we will meet again to share inputs little later," added Gavaskar.

News Cricket

Ponting gives out his verdict on who is better between Sachin and Kohli

Staff Writer Updated: 16 March, 2019, 4:16 PM IST


Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli are two of the biggest names in Indian cricket. There are often comparisons between both of them regarding who is the better batsman. Former Australian captain, Ricky Ponting has given out his opinion on the ever debatable topic of the best between these two. And Ponting is spot on in his analysis of the two. 

“I don’t think we can get to the conclusion till Virat’s career is over,” Ponting told The Times of India (TOI). “Only then will we have a clearer picture. Sachin is a legend. Yes, you can say Virat is piling up runs. His Test average is more than 50 (53.76). But Sachin maintained that (average) in 200 Tests. Virat’s ODI record, though, is unbelievable. That’s why I feel India are a very dangerous side. If Virat has a good World Cup, India will win.”

The 2003 and 2007 World-Cup winning skipper also opened up on the similarities between him and Kohli. He said, “I can relate to Virat because when I watch him play, I think a lot of his attitude is similar to mine. On the field, he is aggressive, wears his heart on his sleeve, (though) his body language can get out of control sometimes. That is like me… I was the same. When you are out there, competing, in the heat of battle, things happen. Yeah, I can see a bit of myself in Virat, especially on the field, not so much on the batting side of things. We are probably naturally aggressive people and that comes across in the way we bat.” 

News Cricket

Ajinkya Rahane confident of playing 2019 World Cup

CT Contributors Updated: 16 March, 2019, 1:46 PM IST


Men in Blue were defeated by Australia in the ODI series because of middle order woes. Despite testing several players, India are still searching for answers. One players, who can solve this glaring concern, is Ajinkya Rahane.

He is currently out of the team and his chances to represent India at the World Cup look bleak considering his form in limited-overs cricket. However, with IPL just a few days away, the 30-year old is confident of staging another comeback.

Rahane has said that if he performs well in the IPL then he would travel with the Indian team to England. The right hand batsman has been part of 90 ODIs so far, scoring 2962 runs with his bat at an average of 35.26.

Rahane's sole focus is on to perform for his IPL franchise and he is not thinking about the World Cup at the moment.

"The approach won't be any different with the World Cup spot looming because at the end you are playing cricket, be it the IPL or any other tournament. You have to score runs and do well for the team. The most important thing will be to think about the Rajasthan Royals rather than thinking too much about the road ahead. See, if I do well in the IPL, the World Cup (slot) will automatically come," Rahane told IANS.

"I feel it is important to express yourself and not take any undue pressure thinking about things which aren't in your control. The focus is the IPL," the Rajasthan Royals skipper added.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli shouldn't field in the deep - Dilip Vengsarkar

Staff Writer Updated: 16 March, 2019, 1:45 PM IST


Former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar is not a big fan of Virat Kohli's strategy to field deep in the ODIs. He feels Virat should be inside the 30 yards circle to take control of things.

Indian skipper is more often seen in the deep to provide good balance to Indian fielding with his exceptional out-fielding. MS Dhoni is the one who takes care of field changes when Virat is not present in the 30 yards circle.

While Dhoni has been spot on, Vengsarkar is not sure if it is the right way of leading a side in international side.

"Captain has to be in the inner circle. You can't field in the deep and adjust fielding from there. You can see the match better from the circle. If he is going to field in the deep it is not going to help him at all," Vengsarkar told India Today.

He has backed Ravi Shastri's idea of sending Virat Kohli at No.4 during the World Cup.

"I agree with Ravi. Because sometimes in English overcast conditions, if you lose early wickets, you may have to preserve Virat for no.4. because he is the best batsman in the world and in fantastic form. India depends heavily on him which is not a good thing because others have to perform," Vengsarkar observed.

News Cricket

AB de Villiers reveals why Kohli is the best ODI batsman in the world 

Harshit Anand Updated: 16 March, 2019, 12:13 PM IST


Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers are great friends. Both have been playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore for many years in the IPL. Both are considered as finest batters of the modern-day generation. ABD revealed what connects him and Kohli. He told sport24 that "We are both fighters and don’t enjoy losing, we love batting together and taking the game away from teams." 

Indian skipper, Virat Kohli is currently the no.1 ranked batsman in ODI cricket. De Villiers also expressed his opinion on why he thinks Virat is the best batsman in the world. He said, "Virat’s performances over the last while have been incredible and I can’t see it stopping very soon. I have played with him for eight years now in the IPL and you can never take the class out of the guy. However, he is human after all and, like any other cricketer, he will go through patches from time to time where he has to go back to the basics and work his way through it again. I believe it’s his personality and mental strength that gets him through those moments and makes him the best ODI player in the world at the moment."

AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli are set to reunite for Bangalore again in this year's IPL. RCB are yet to win the title of IPL and both the players will try their level best to help the side win the coveted title this time around. 

News Cricket

Ravi Shastri opens up on the relationship between Dhoni and Kohli

Harshit Anand Updated: 16 March, 2019, 11:40 AM IST


India's present skipper Virat Kohli and former captain, MS Dhoni have a great amount of mutual respect for each other. Kohli, who made a name for himself under the captaincy of Dhoni, doesn't mind taking cues from Dhoni, who has a wealth of captaincy experience. 

India's head coach, Ravi Shastri recently opened up on the bond that these two great players of India share with each other. “Each one has his own style and each one is different. When you mention Virat and MS, yes, they are different, the way they play and the way they captain. MS was the senior man when Virat was coming through the ranks. Virat gave him the respect he deserved. Now MS is not the captain, Virat is, so MS does the same thing. The mutual respect for each other is massive and that’s all you want as a coach,” Shastri told Mirror Now.

MS Dhoni will be a key part of the Indian team in the World Cup that commences from May 30 in England and Wales. The no.2 ranked ODI side, India are billed as one of the strong favorites for the ICC showpiece event. 

News Cricket

Ricky Ponting wants Rishabh Pant ahead of Dinesh Karthik for World Cup

Harshit Anand Updated: 16 March, 2019, 10:45 AM IST


Rishabh Pant failed to leave behind a big impact in the last two ODIs against Australia in recently-concluded series, which Australia won by 3-2. He did get off to starts but couldn't convert those into big scores. The aggressive southpaw scored 36 and 16 in only two ODIs he got to prove his credentials against Australia. It is said to be a direct toss-up between Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant for the spot of reserve wicket-keeper batsman for India going into the World Cup.

And Australia's World-Cup winning captain, Ricky Ponting, has backed Pant over Karthik for the World Cup. “I think it's actually a big job for me and the coaches when he comes in, to make him forget what's happened in the last few days. He's probably lucky it happened in the last couple of games. It would have been hard to play all five games under that kind of pressure. Now he's back in a competition where he has dominated in the past. If he can win a couple of games for us then everything will be forgotten. I can't see anyone better than him as a second wicketkeeper in that Indian World Cup squad,” the legendary Aussie was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz.

Rishabh Pant has already impressed in whatever Test matches he has played so far for India. But, in limited-overs format, he has failed to leave the kind of impact that's needed to cement a place in the side. 

News Cricket

Peshawar through to 3rd successive PSL final

AP Updated: 16 March, 2019, 10:15 AM IST


Kamran Akmal's blistering half century propelled 2017 winner Peshawar Zalmi to its third straight Pakistan Super League final with a convincing 48-run victory over defending champion Islamabad United on Friday.

Peshawar will take on Quetta Gladiators on Sunday in a repeat of the final two years ago.

A minute's silence was observed before the start of eliminator 2 in memory of those who died in deadly attacks on two mosques in New Zealand earlier on Friday. Players and officials also wore black armbands during the match at a packed 32,000-capacity National Stadium.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani condemned the incident and said in a statement it was "cowardly, uncivilized and inhuman terrorist attacks on the innocent worshippers in Christchurch mosques."

Akmal smashed 74 off 43 balls, with 10 fours and three sixes, as Peshawar finished with an imposing 214-5 after Islamabad won the toss and elected to field.

Akmal paired with young Imam-ul-Haq, who made 58 off 33 balls, for a strong 135-run opening stand before both were dismissed by part-time seamer Cameron Delport (2-24) in the 13th over. Captain Darren Sammy provided a perfect finish by smashing 30 off 15 balls.

Chadwick Walton then scored 48 off 29 balls as Islamabad was restricted to 166-9 after losing all its big hitters by the 12th over.

Peshawar's Hasan Ali, the PSL's top wicket-taker, bowled with lot of pace in claiming 3-29. He accounted for the key wickets of Islamabad's Cameron Delport (28), Hussain Talat (19) and Luke Ronchi (17). Chris Jordan of England also took 3-26 including the wicket of his countryman Alex Hales, who could score only 1.

Islamabad's Rumman Raees conceded 48 off his four overs without taking a wicket. Shadab Khan also gave away 46 runs for one wicket as Akmal hit the leg spinner for two sixes and two fours in one over.