Feature Cricket

Must Play Rohit Sharma V South Africa?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 27 September, 2019, 11:51 AM IST


There is now the contention with the Indian selectors having got the Indian team selection out of the way for the Test series against India, Rohit Sharma has not only been handed a long rope but also, a silky one. A slippery road awaits him should he fail in the final possible slot he could be tried in. But while it seems the consensus holds that if Rohit Sharma is in the squad, he should be in the team, history does not lend itself kindly to Rohit or his prodigal talent.

Rohit Sharma has had a few false starts to his Test career. There was always the argument that sooner rather than later, his talent would come to the fore. But while Rohit Sharma’s stature grew with responsibility as he was handed the captaincy of the till then beleaguered Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League, his Test career still leaves much to be desired.

A change of guard as far as the Indian captaincy is concerned has done little for Rohit who had continued to be a miss-and-hit. The only reason even now Rohit Sharma should consider himself fortunate to find himself in the Test squad for the home series against South Africa is the unfortunate lack of quality opening partnership at the top of India’s Test batting line up. But herein lies the trick.

Rohit Sharma could not cope in the middle order. In some ways, Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh seemed to suffer from similar Test cricket blues: having enormous talent and potential but coming up short when put in the lion’s den. Even last year, Rohit Sharma’s Test cricket was a rocking ship on rough seas, not picked for the home series against the West Indies and then picked, without any recent performance to suddenly reverse the decision, for the tour of Australia.

Now it seems that some players must find a way to remain relevant. For some like Rohit Sharma, they must bite the bullet and take on the rather dangerous risk of opening the batting, more treacherous when it comes to Test cricket because it involves seeing off the new ball, facing the heat from the fresh pace bowlers and also, biding time while delicately scoring runs.

Suffice it to say, Rohit Sharma’s batting style does not naturally lend itself to traditional, orthodox, dogged Test cricket opening. Yet there is now hope, even though Rohit Sharma’s career has been flattering to deceive thus far, that he could be the answer to the void left after the prolific duo of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag exited the scene.

But where Rohit Sharma may struggle to do a serious Gambhir innings, he is not naturally inclined to go the Sehwag way either. Although he has the bluster, the five day match is a different ball game compared to the shorter formats where Rohit Sharma feels more at home taking the bull by the horns. Not only are the Test cricket bowlers a different beast but also, the situation of playing out five days for a result is a lot of pressure unless the selectors and the team management are willing to look the other way, as they have had to do sometimes when Sehwag’s style of batting brought home ducks.

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News Cricket

'Never scored a run thereafter': Former English opener savagely trolls Shahid Afridi

Staff Writer Updated: 4 October, 2019, 5:12 PM IST


Nick Compton has a habit of taking on former and current cricketers. He was blasted by Indian cricket fans for speaking against Virat Kohli and now he has turned his attention towards Shahid Afridi. The former Pakistan skipper made into record books when he scored a 37-ball century against Sri Lanka in 1996. His record stood till 2014 and was first broken by Corey Anderson (36 balls) and then AB de Villiers (31 balls).

On their Instagram, ESPN Cricinfo posted an image showing Afridi's hitting and captioned: #OnThisDay in 1996, @SAfridiOfficial smashed the then-record for the fastest ODI hundred in his first international innings”

However, former England opener Nick Compton decided to troll Afridi and wrote: “And never scored a run thereafter”.

This didn’t go down well with Pakistani fans as Compton was blasted for his comments.

News Cricket

Sir Jadeja scripts world record, become the quickest left-armer to take 200 Test wickets

Staff Writer Updated: 4 October, 2019, 4:32 PM IST


Dean Elgar posted his 12th test hundred as South Africa reached 369-6 at the time of penning down

Elgar was dismissed on 160 by Ravindra Jadeja while Quinton de Kock was unbeaten on 110.

Elgar shared two innings-savings partnerships after the South Africans got into early trouble on day three.

India made the early breakthrough after South Africa resumed at 39-3, with Ishant Sharma trapping Temba Bavuma (18) lbw in the seventh over.

But Elgar combined with du Plessis in a 115-run stand for the fifth wicket to get the total to 178-5. He then combined with de Kock to stich a stand of 150 runs for the sixth wicket.

The opener, who was dropped on 74 by keeper Wriddhiman Saha off Ravindra Jadeja (1-82), went on to his hundred off 175 deliveries.

Meanwhile, by virtue of Elgar's departure, Ravindra Jadeja entered into the record books. He became the fastest left-armer to take 200 Test wickets. Jadeja achieved this landmark in just 44 Tests.

Among Indians, he is the second fastest in the list, which is led by R Ashwin. He entered the 200-wicket club in 37 Test matches.

Feature Cricket

Pakistan’s Proactive Rain Call Earns ICC’s Mockery

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 4 October, 2019, 4:14 PM IST


In a case of the pot calling the kettle black, even as Pakistan celebrated its first win on home soil against Sri Lanka in the one day series in a decade, the International Cricket Council (ICC) took it upon itself to mock Pakistan’s wise move to shift the one day internationals dates due to inclement weather. Somebody should remind the ICC of its helplessness against imposing the same as far as the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 was concerned.

The Sri Lankan tour of Pakistan almost did not get underway. Under the shadow of a cloud of threat of a terrorist attack, almost as many as ten Sri Lankan cricketers refused to tour Pakistan. Even as controversy embroiled the decision, with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and some former cricketers alleging India’s involvement, there were other matters threatening to disrupt the series.

Rain played a huge part as Karachi’s first one day international was in threat of being washed out. True to form, the weather kept its date and it was only a proactive decision from the PCB and the cooperation of the Sri Lankan cricket board and the television broadcasters as claimed by the PCB that saved the series from becoming a wash out.

The PCB’s decision to push the dates of the second one day international ensured that Pakistan won the series, winning two of the three matches that were possible and creating a much needed spectacle in the ravaged country, deprived of cricket at home following the series of terrorist attacks, including the major one in Mumbai in November of 2008. For Pakistan, it was success enough as it tries desperately to get more of the cricket playing nations to keep their commitments to tour Pakistan.

The decision, however, caused another folly of a social media post by the world’s governing body and like some of the recent messages, this did not go down well either. For one, the ICC should have praised the PCB and SLC for coming together and deciding to take matter into their hands to ensure that cricket was the winner and not the weather. For another, the ICC owes it to commend any cricket that manages to beat terrorism, climate change consequences and such serious matters that threaten to derail the game.

Instead the ICC’s social media post seemed to make fun of the fact that the one day internationals had seen a preemptive move. This is what the ICC posted last week: “The second ODI between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Karachi has been rescheduled from Sunday 29 September to Monday 30 September due to the rain which washed out the first ODI.” It added this quip: “Have you ever heard of rain so heavy it washes out a game two days away?”

This is not the first time that the ICC has played up a pivotal moment of the game and in its attempt at humour, somehow trivialized or even diminished the quality. Recently the ICC was forced to make a rather public correction after describing the Hall of Fame inductee, Rahul Dravid, as a left handed batsman.

What the ICC had not anticipated is the backlash in either case because the ICC need not be reminded of the fact that the recently held ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England was almost overshadowed by the weather as an entire week was nearly lost to rain.

With the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) attempting to reserve the latter half of the English summer for the bilateral Ashes, the ICC could not hide nor hinder the fact that one of the more powerful cricket boards was hosting the premier event but also, obviously giving it lesser importance than the Ashes itself in terms of priority scheduling. With the ICC having to even release a statement regarding reserve days in that period, it would seem that the ICC would at least applaud the decision arrived at between the PCB and the SLC if not take a leaf out of the exercise.

News Cricket

Gavaskar takes indirect dig at Virat and Shastri, says Ashwin is being kept out intentionally

Staff Writer Updated: 4 October, 2019, 4:11 PM IST


Sunil Gavaskar has once again blasted the Indian team management for their treatment of R Ashwin. He was critical of Ashwin being kept out of the playing XI regularly despite his exceptional track record in Test cricket. Gavaskar feels Ashwin deserves to play regularly and should not be excluded from the playing XI. The off-spinner was not picked in the playing XI against the Windies which India won 2-0. Instead, Ravindra Jadeja was preferred over his senior partner.

“Ashwin should be a certainty. The fact that he has not been made to feel the comfort level is the reason why we are seeing him struggle a little bit,” Gavaskar told official broadcasters

“He has also got to feel he has got the confidence of the people around him. When you don’t have the confidence of people around you, when you keep getting sidelined, then you try a little too hard.

“I think, there is always these little comparisons he suffers from. When playing in Australia, he is compared to Nathan Lyon. He is doing that doing this. But Lyon is bowling to the Indian batsmen. Similarly, in England, when Moeen Ali got 6 or 7 wickets, you say he didn’t get any wickets’. It can happen.

“I think there is more to it than just cricketing performances which is the reason he just finds himself sidelined more often than somebody with his record should be. Somebody who has got almost 350 wickets can’t be sidelined as regularly as he has been,” he added.

News Cricket

Stop comparing Sehwag and Rohit - Sachin Tendulkar

Staff Writer Updated: 4 October, 2019, 3:45 PM IST


Former India skipper Sachin Tendulkar, who has time and again lauded Rohit Sharma for his performance in international cricket, has refused to compare the right hand batsman with former aggressive opener Virender Sehwag.

Rohit Sharma scored a phenomenal hundred after he was asked to open the innings in the first Test match against South Africa. He scored 176 off 244 balls which was laced with 23 fours and six sixes. His innings reminded many of Virender Sehwag, who was renowned for his attacking brand of cricket.

Sachin Tendulkar, who has batted with Sehwag, recently spoke about the comparisons between Rohit and the former Indian player.

"I would say there should be no comparisons. Both Sehwag and Rohit are fantastic players. But I am not a big fan of comparisons personally," the Master Blaster said in an interview.

"But when it comes to talent, I have no doubt that he can get runs against any attack in any conditions in the world. He has proven every now and then but the change in position to opening slot requires a different mindset and over a period of time he will gel into this position. He has started with a huge explosion," he added.

News Cricket

Virat continues to lead batting rankings, Bumrah tops the bowlers list in the last ICC ODI rankings

Staff Writer Updated: 4 October, 2019, 3:30 PM IST


Cricket is a team game but the players are ranked for their performances in different formats. Men in Blue have been consistent in ODIs with players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah leading the charts.

In the latest ODI rankings released by the ICC, Virat Kohli continues to be number one in the batsmen list while Jasprit Bumrah is the leading bowler in the chart of bowlers. After Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma is in the second spot.

Mohammad Amir, who took three wickets in the last match against Sri Lanka, has managed to jump to 7th position.

In the team ranking, England are leading the table followed by India and New Zealand in the second and third position respectively.

News Cricket

Mayank Agarwal owes his success to Vinay Kumar - Robin Uthappa

Staff Writer Updated: 4 October, 2019, 2:00 PM IST


Mayank Agarwal is making headlines after scoring the maiden double ton in the ongoing first Test match between India and South Africa. The right hand batsman, who made his debut against Australia in 2018, has cemented his place after playing a memorable knock against Proteas.

However, things were not always in his favour as there was a time when he was on the verge of getting dropped from his state side, Karnataka. He was saved and backed by Vinay Kumar, who was the leader of Team Karnataka.

Robin Uthappa has given the credit of Mayank Agarwal's success to Vinay Kumar.

He stated that Vinay Kumar sat down with Mayank and motivated him, which helped Indian opener in coming back to form.

“I remember we contemplated dropping him from a Ranji game but when (captain) R Vinay Kumar gave him a push (motivational words), he scored a triple hundred and did not look back from there,” Uthappa said as quoted by Sportstar.

News Cricket

It’s not right to compare Rohit Sharma with Virender Sehwag - Robin Uthappa

Staff Writer Updated: 4 October, 2019, 1:58 PM IST


Rohit Sharma was in blistering touch during the first innings of the ongoing Test match between India and South Africa. The right hand batsman, who was opening for the first time in Whites, scored 176, which included 23 fours and 6 sixes. A lot of former cricketers have praised Rohit for his fabulous batting and even stated that it was important to allow him open in the Test matches as well. Robin Uthappa, who was a key member of the Indian side during his heydays, feels that the opportunity has come at the right time for the Mumbai-based batsman.

“I think he has figured out opening the batting and this opportunity came at the right moment for Rohit to capitalize on it. So it’s not a surprise that he is successful,” said the 33-year old.

Robin further added that Rohit has done well in India and overseas conditions in white-ball cricket, and he understands in batting well.

“He has always done well in India and abroad. In white-ball cricket, he dominates the scene right now. He is arguably one of the best batsmen in the world,” Uthappa told as quoted by India Today.

Ever since Rohit was told to open the innings in Test matches, his comparison with Virender Sehwag has started. Even Virat Kohli linked Rohit with the former Indian batsman. However, Robin Uthappa feels it is wrong to compare two different players.

“It’s not right to compare. He has his own style of batting. They are both aggressive that’s the common thread. Viru pa was more a demolisher of the ball while Rohit caresses it. The way they go about dealing with bowlers is vastly different but the aggressive nature in the common factor.”

News Cricket

KL Rahul wants Ben Stokes to play for Kings XI Punjab in 2020

Staff Writer Updated: 4 October, 2019, 12:09 PM IST


Indian batsman KL Rahul wants to have Ben Stokes in Kings XI Punjab's side. The English all-rounder was in exceptional touch during the World Cup and Ashes. Stokes played for Rajasthan Royals in the last edition of the Indian Premier League.

"He can bowl, he’s a phenomenal fielder, yeah, he’s played out there before and he’s had a great impact on the teams he’s played for. I hope he can play for my team, it’d be great to have him on my team," he said.

Speaking at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, KL Rahul heaped praise on Jasprit Bumrah. According to him, Bumrah will become of the best fast bowlers in the world.

"He’s a phenomenal talent and I’ve had the privilege and opportunity to play with him even before he had the opportunity to play for his country. We played on the same junior level team and he’s always someone that’s very determined and dedicated and very passionate about cricket, and he’s someone you don’t want to mess with because he bowls the ball at serious speeds and he’s a competitor off the field even when we are playing against each other," he added.

News Cricket

It makes no sense to blame Anushka Sharma if Virat makes a zero - Sania Mirza

Staff Writer Updated: 4 October, 2019, 12:00 PM IST


It is not easy to stay away from families and international cricketers have to face this situation a lot. Time and again they leave for tours, leaving their loved ones behind. With passage of time, quite a few cricket boards have allowed family members to stay with players during the course of series and tournaments. However, it is still not enough as few governing bodies of cricket like BCCI and PCB have made condition and situation based rules when it comes to wives and girlfriends.

During the World Cup in England and Wales, Indian and Pakistani players had to go through harsh policies. Although BCCI had given a time limit to its players in which they can keep their partners and kids with them but restrictions were still in place.

Sania Mirza who is married to Pakistan player Shoaib Malik has spoken about the behavior of cricket boards stating that women can never be a distraction.

“See the thing is that comes from a deeper problem which says that a woman is a distraction she cannot be a strength. They don’t come back to an empty room, they can go out and have dinner … when you have your wife or your partner there it gives you support, it gives you love,” she said.

“We address the problem that a woman can be a strength or is a strength rather than a distraction or a weakness we might conquer these issues. Anushka Sharma is blamed if Virat makes a zero, like what does that have anything to do with anything. It makes no sense.”

Feature Cricket

How Mayank Agarwal has gone on to become India's principle Test opener

CT Contributor Updated: 4 October, 2019, 11:47 AM IST


The Indian cricket team has finally found someone to handle the onus of the opening department, who is solid both at home and away. After all the recent struggles that saw a flurry of openers losing their sheen, the entry of Mayank Agarwal solves so much of the issues. A champion domestic player, Mayank let everyone know about his intentions at the end of last year when he made his much-awaited debut against the Aussies at the MCG.

On his eighth innings in Tests, Mayank stood like a rock to notch an impressive double century against South Africa in the first Test against South Africa in Vizag. To come out and amass a maiden ton and then converting it into a double was a sweet effort by the Karnataka batsman.

By scoring 215 in the first innings against the Proteas, Mayank joined an elite list of Indians who converted their maiden Test ton into a double. He became the fourth Indian after Dilip Sardesai vs NZ, 1965, Vinod Kambli vs Eng, 1993 and Karun Nair vs Eng, 2016.

Everything seemed right about Mayank’s technique. He looked at ease against both pace and spin. He went on to play a wide range of shots and the hallmark of his innings was playing a lot straighter. That saw him pick the loose balls and dispatch them into the stands. He hit 23 fours and six sixes to show his authority.

With India playing their trades in the ICC World Test Championship, Mayank’s role becomes all the more important. And this knock will give him a lot of confidence. Also, this was his maiden Test innings on Indian soil. He is a solid customer at home as seen in domestic cricket over the years. Notably, he is also someone who can go on to get the big scores rather than settling in for a baby hundred.

His 215 is now the second-best score by an Indian in Test cricket against the Proteas. Former legend Virender Sehwag’s 319 is still the highest score by an Indian against SA. Mayank also became only the second batsman to score a double century in the very first Test innings on Indian soil after former Aussie Dean Jones (210).

Mayank is all about hard work and labour. He has the knack of putting in the shifts and working continuously to better his game with each passing phase. The rise of him is solely based on determination and hunger. He has worked hard and been patient all this while. You need a stroke of luck and he got that when he went on to replace an injured Prithvi Shaw in the series against Australia Down Under.

With Shaw suspended, KL Rahul being dropped and the doors almost being shut for veterans Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay, the onus is now on Mayank. He is India’s main opener at the moment. Rohit and third-choice opener Shubman Gill follow suit.

To make your debut 9-10 months ago and then cementing your place as the first-choice opener shows where hard work can get you. Now it’s time to build on this.

Feature Cricket

No other team matches India’s awesome home record

Partab Ramchand Updated: 4 October, 2019, 11:25 AM IST


Any team is particularly difficult to beat in their own backyard but India’s home record is awesome. However indifferent their away record is – and even here there has been improvement in recent years – at home they are virtually unbeatable. Little wonder then that visiting teams regard winning a Test series in India as the most difficult assignment if not Mission Impossible.

The last team to win a series in India was England in 2012. Before that Australia were victorious in 2004. South Africa last won a series in 2000 and since then they have made four visits without repeating the feat. Pakistan won their only series in India in 1987 and have not played Tests here since 2007. These are India’s strongest opponents. The less said about the other sides the better. West Indies last won a series in this country in 1983-84 when they were at the peak of their powers. New Zealand have not won a series in India and they first played here in 1955-56. Sri Lanka have been visiting India since 1982-83 and have yet to win a Test after playing 20 matches. The same goes for Zimbabwe. Bangladesh and Afghanistan of course have played only one Test each in India.

Even a cursory glance at Tests played in other countries in recent years will reveal that they have fallen short of matching India’s home record. England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have all suffered defeats at home. There is no longer any dominant team in world cricket to match the Australians who in the early years of the new millennium twice ran up the world record of 16 consecutive Test wins.

Since that loss to England in 2012 India have played several home series against Australia, England, New Zealand, West Indies, South Africa and Sri Lanka besides one off Test against Bangladesh and Afghanistan and have won every one of them, some by 3-0 and 4-0 clean sweeps. And the record becomes even more impressive when it is pointed out that in the last 15 years India have lost only that one series to England but have repeatedly defeated all other visiting teams. But of course the mind boggling and eye rubbing record is not something new. In the period 1988-1994 India won ten straight Tests at home against New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, England and West Indies. So visiting teams know fully well what they are up against when they tour India for a Test series.

News Tennis

Goran Ivanisevic leads fan vote in Hall of Fame balloting

AP Updated: 4 October, 2019, 11:12 AM IST


Goran Ivanisevic has gained the most fan votes for the International Tennis Hall of Fame's Class of 2020.

That means 2001 Wimbledon champion Ivanisevic will get a bonus of 3% added to his results from the official voting group that includes journalists, historians and members of the Hall.

In fan voting results released Wednesday, 1994 Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez finished second and nine-time Grand Slam doubles title winner Jonas Bjorkman was third. Martinez gets a 2% boost, Bjorkman 1%.

The other 2020 candidate is two-time French Open champion Sergi Bruguera.

The final results will be announced in January during the Australian Open. Induction is set for July 18.

News Football

Aubameyang calls Dortmund's CEO ‘a clown’ for criticism

AP Updated: 4 October, 2019, 11:10 AM IST


Former Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang called the club’s chief executive “a clown” for insinuating he joined Arsenal for money.

Aubameyang reacted to an interview Hans-Joachim Watzke gave to the Süddeutschen Zeitung newspaper the day before, in which the CEO said some players had left for clubs that weren’t playing in the Champions League.

“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is playing brilliantly for Arsenal, probably gets a warm heart when he looks at his bank balance. But Wednesdays he is sad as he only looks at the Champions League on TV,” Watzke said.

Aubameyang hit back on Twitter: “Better for you I never talk about why I really left Dortmund Mr Watzke you such a clown.”

Aubameyang referred to the transfer of Ousmane Dembélé to Barcelona for 105 million euros ($124 million) in 2017.

“I remember that time you said we never gonna sell Ousmane then you saw more than 100M you were the first to take that money. Don’t talk about money please!!! Leave me alone pls,” Aubameyang wrote.

The 30-year-old Gabon striker joined Arsenal from Dortmund for a reported 63 million euros ($80 million) in January 2018. He has scored 39 goals in 56 Premier League games, including seven in seven games this season.

News Cricket

Imran Khan speaks such rubbish, says Sourav Ganguly on his UNGA speech

Staff Writer Updated: 4 October, 2019, 11:02 AM IST


Indian cricketers have blasted Imran Khan for his speech at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The Prime Minister of Pakistan had attacked India over several issues. Former Indian opener Virender Sehwag had shared a video where Imran was lambasted by one of the news channels of United States.

Reacting to the video, Ganguly wrote: “Viru...I see this and I am shocked...a speech which is unheard of...a world which needs peace, Pakistan as a country needs it the most...and the leader speaks such rubbish...not the Imran Khan the cricketer world knew...speech in UN was poor.”

During his interaction with the American news channel, Imran had mocked the infrastructure in USA while praising China for the way it has tackled several problems.

“You have to go to China and see the way their infrastructure is. In New York, I am watching the car bumping around here,” he said, to which one of the news anchors responded: “You don’t sound like a Prime Minister of Pakistan, you sound like a welder from the Bronx”.