Feature Cricket

Must Play Shubman Gill against South Africa?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 28 September, 2019, 1:51 PM IST


Much has been written about how Rohit Sharma must be picked as opener for the Test series against South Africa now that he is in the squad. Yet Shubman Gill makes a case for strike when the iron is hot. But will India defy their gut and go with a young, pulsating heart.

Rohit Sharma has been around this bend a few times, without much success. Certainly not sustaining enough to establish him as a permanent member of India’s Test team. It is such a huge blip on his career graph, one that he has now been asked to dangerously turn around by taking on the immense responsibility of opening the batting for the team.

It must give neither Rohit Sharma nor young Shubman Gill any comfort that the selectors and the team management have had little faith in the talent that has come in before them since the retirement of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, India’s successful opening pair in Test cricket. While the vacant slot is an opportunity to cement their place, the pressure to pull off a noteworthy performance right away is palpable. And there is going to be competition down the line.

Much has been touted about Rohit Sharma’s talent and his extraordinary centuries albeit in one day internationals. But Gill comes in with a huge record and reputation even if he is still not even close his mid-twenties. Gill was a part of the immensely talent, promising under-19 squad and he has shown few signs of stopping since. His selection, therefore, for the Test squad in the home series against South Africa is no small feat or commendation.

Yet for Gill, while the real hard work begins now, he is India’s future, one that the think tank must ponder on when thinking not only of the immediate future but in terms of a potential legacy that puts captains, coaches and players in the hall of fame. Grooming a younger, fresher cricketer rather than butt heads with a senior cricketer who has been around the block a few times is a fair argument to be made, particularly when Gill has potential, talent and hunger to succeed.

With India having lucked out thus far in terms of finding consistency at the crucial opening slot, it would make sense for someone like Virat Kohli to bring his own core to the game, nurture his own crux of young players who could reward him down the line. Sourav Ganguly believed and did that and walked away with incredible accolades. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has had fair success in that regard to an extent. Now the decision is not only about Sharma or Gill but about Kohli’s legacy.

On the one hand, it is hard to ignore an enormous talent like Rohit Sharma sitting in the dressing room. Prithvi Shaw’s misguided beginnings and Rishabh Pant’s topsy-turvy international cricket serves as cautionary tales for young men to be blooded in too early, particularly without bolster or backing from the immediate team management.

But India would be found wanting if they did not give Gill and themselves a chance by cushioning the initiation, playing at home and against a generally competitive foreign team that finds itself in a bit of a muddle. The time calls for Shubman Gill.

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News Cricket

Amit Shah resigns from the post of Gujarat Cricket Association President

Staff Writer Updated: 28 September, 2019, 3:40 PM IST


Amit Shah, the Home Minister of India, has decided to move away from the post of the Gujarat Cricket Association president. However, no replacement has been announced as of now. According to Times of India, it is highly unlikely a new person will take the charge and the position may remain vacant for some time. The governing body of Gujarat Cricket is expected to make a formal announcement later in the day.

Shah was asked to lead the cricket association in 2014, after the then president Narendra Modi moved to Delhi to become the Prime Minister of India. Amit Shah's son Jay, who is the joint secretary will continue to retain his position.

Under Amit Shah's guidance, construction of the state-of-the-art Sardar Patel Cricket Stadium had started and the work will reach its completion in a few months from now.

News Cricket

Babar Azam ranks among the likes of Virat, Smith and Root: Sarfaraz Ahmed

Staff Writer Updated: 28 September, 2019, 3:38 PM IST


Pakistan's Babar Azam is one of the most talented players in the world of cricket at the moment. Not only he is making runs consistently for his team, but there's an inherent class in his strokeplay that mesmerizes one and all. His extra-cover drives are an absolute treat to watch for the fans of the game.

Pakistan captain, Sarfaraz Ahmed has heaped huge praise on the 24 years old. “Babar Azam can be in that category the [of Smith, Kohli, Root and Williamson]way he is progressing. In truth, he even ranks among them now. If he can keep up his form, he’ll begin to be talked among that list by everyone very quickly,” Sarfaraz was quoted as saying in ESPNcricinfo.

Babar Azam is averaging 53.55 for his 3,213 runs in ODI cricket. He has 10 centuries and 15 fifties in 72 ODIs. Azam also has 1, 247 runs in T20Is at an average of 54.21 and strike-rate of 128.95. Azam's Test record isn't that flattering though. He averages 35.28 and has 1,235 runs in 21 Tests.

News Cricket

Pakistan is not intolerant like Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – PCB

Staff Writer Updated: 28 September, 2019, 3:00 PM IST


The 10-year wait for ODI cricket continues for Karachi after the first one-day international between Pakistan and Sri Lanka was called off without any play.

An unusual spell of monsoon rain in the southern port city during this time of the year left the cricket ground completely waterlogged.

Umpires called off the match at 4:30 p.m. local time with no chance of any play.

The weather forced the Pakistan Cricket Board to put the second ODI back a day from Sunday to Monday. The final game of the three-match series will be played as scheduled on Wednesday.

The PCB said the move allowed ground staff more time to prepare the National Stadium outfield.

Only a few hundred spectators braved the rain and made it to the stadium.

Meanwhile, despite souring relations between India and Pakistan, over two dozen Indian nationals are in Pakistan to cover the ODI series. The Pakistan Cricket Board has revealed that a company, owned by an India, is covering the matches. According to sources, PCB has given a contract to Japan-registered Ten Sports to cover the matches and Sony India has a major stake in that company.

A tour source in the Pakistan Cricket Board also made a political point stating Pakistan is not intolerant like the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and it’s a good gesture on part of the board to allow Indians to cover the series in Pakistan.

News Cricket

Shastri makes 9-10 crore per annum. What is salary of Misbah as PAK coach? Find out

Staff Writer Updated: 28 September, 2019, 2:53 PM IST


It is no hidden fact that BCCI is the richest cricket board in the world. As a result, all the players and coaches associated with the Indian cricket team are paid a hefty amount of money. In fact, recently, it was reported that India's head coach, Ravi Shastri got a hike of 20 percent, which took his annual salary with the Indian cricket team to a whopping amount of Rs. 9-10 crore.

Now, the salary of Pakistan's head coach has been revealed and the difference between the salary of the Indian and Pakistan head coach is humongous. A Geo News report says that Misbah is reportedly getting Rs. 2.8 million (PKR, monthly), which means his annual salary is Rs 3.4 crore per year.

He was recently appointed as Pakistan's head coach and chief selector, which makes him arguably the most powerful man in Pakistan cricket. Misbah has represented Pakistan in 75 Tests, 162 ODIs and 39 T20Is. He has 5,222 Test runs at an average of 46.62. He averages 43.40 for his 5,122 runs in ODI cricket.

The 45 years old retired from international cricket in 2017. He has experience of coaching in PSL.

News Cricket

Rohit Sharma shouldn’t change his technique to score runs in Test cricket – VVS Laxman

Staff Writer Updated: 28 September, 2019, 2:44 PM IST


VVS Laxman wants Rohit Sharma to stick with his technique when he goes to open in the first Test against South Africa. The former Indian player made a big price when he altered his batting style to score runs in Whites. Laxman was asked to open between 1996-98 despite being a specialist middle-order batsman.

"The biggest advantage that Rohit has is his experience, which I didn't have. I opened in Test cricket only after playing four Test matches. Rohit has played 12 years of international cricket. So he has the maturity and the experience and he is also in good form," he said.

Laxman revealed how a tweak in technique resulted in his failure.

"I believe the mistake that I made while opening the innings was to change my mindset, which got me a lot of success as a middle-order batsman, whether it's batting No 3 or No 4," said the 44-year-old.

"I also tried to change my technique. As a middle-order batsman, I was always having a front press (front-foot trigger) and then go towards the ball, whereas talking to seniors and coaches, I went to back and across as I had to face Curtly Ambrose (97-away series), who would generate steep bounce from length. This huge change in approach affected my batting and I hope Rohit shouldn't do it," he added.

"If you tweak your natural game too much, then you will not get the results as your mind gets cluttered and you tend to lose your rhythm. I can admit that my flow was affected when I opened. Rohit is a rhythm-based player and if his touch gets affected, then it will be difficult."

News Cricket

Indian Sports Honours is a platform where achievements are recognized – Virat Kohli

Staff Writer Updated: 28 September, 2019, 2:31 PM IST


The second edition of the Indian Sports Honours, an initiative by Sanjiv Goenka, Chairman, RP-SG Group and Virat Kohli, will be held on 27th September 2019 at Dome, NSCI, SVP Stadium, Mumbai. The annual ceremony, which was supposed to be held in February, was postponed as a mark of respect to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans who were martyred in Pulwama in a terrorist attack.

Indian Sports Honours aim to recognize and honour Indian athletes for their exceptional performances, sportsmanship and spirit of sport through a felicitation ceremony. This year, 17 Honours will be given to athletes who have high achievements in their respective sport for the period of January – December 2018.

The winners of 11 categories (Jury Honours) were decided by ISH Jury members, which comprised of eminent leaders and sporting champions including the likes of Mr. Sanjiv Goenka, Pullela Gopichand, Abhinav Bindra, Sardar Singh, Mahesh Bhupathi, PT Usha and Anjali Bhagwat. Apart from the Jury Honours, there are six ‘Popular Choice Honours’ and winners were decided through an online voting process on Twitter. The nominations in all the categories were shortlisted by 200 journalists from Sports Journalists Federation of India (SJFI).

The ceremony will be a black-tie red-carpet event, with members of India’s sporting fraternity, celebrities and guests in attendance.

Mr. Sanjiv Goenka, Chairman, RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, said, “We are thrilled to host the second edition of the Indian Sports Honours. Indian athletes showcase hard work and perseverance consistently to put India on the world map for their sport. It is very important for us to recognize and celebrate these athletes in order to motivate them to continue their excellent performances.”

Mr. Bunty Sajdeh, CEO, Cornerstone Sport said, “In February Virat, Mr. Goenka and myself took a unanimous decision as a mark of respect to indefinitely postpone the Indian Sports Honours due to the horrific and tragic Pulwama attack that had just occurred. 7 months later we are proud to bring together again the second edition of the ISH to duly recognize our country’s top athletes on a global scale.”

Virat Kohli said, “Indian Sports Honours is a platform for multi-disciplinary sportspersons where sporting talent and achievements are recognized, promoted and celebrated in an unprecedented manner. I always believe that sports is an integral part of every individual’s life starting from school and eventually translating to supporting their favourite athletes on TV and during sporting events. I am confident that these awards are a stepping stone which will further encourage talent to excel in their own category of sports.”

News Cricket

Under fire KL Rahul scores impressive century in Vijay Hazare Trophy

Staff Writer Updated: 28 September, 2019, 2:13 PM IST


KL Rahul is going through tough times in is international career. He was recently shown the door from the Test squad, while he didn't feature in the playing XI during the T20I series against South Africa. However, he has made a statement by scoring a scintillating ton in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy.

He amassed 131 for Karnataka in their match against Kerala. The right hand batsman smashed 10 boundaries and two sixes in his knock. His first 50 came off 68 balls and the right hand batsman went after the bowlers scoring next fifty in just 40 balls.

He would be looking to score more tons in the ongoing tournament to get back his spot in the Test side.

News Cricket

Don't have the "temperament" to coach Pakistan: Shahid Afridi

Staff Writer Updated: 28 September, 2019, 2:09 PM IST


It is even hard to imagine a player like Shahid Afridi coaching the Pakistan cricket team. He was mercurial, temperamental, at times overly aggressive, careless and as flamboyant a player as there have been many in the world of cricket. With his former teammate, Misbah-ul-Haq replacing Mickey Arthur as Pakistan head coach, he was asked at an event whether he would like to coach Pakistan cricket team in future or not?

Afridi responded by saying that he doesn't have the "temperament" to coach Pakistan. “I don’t have the temperament to coach the national team. Moreover, I am fit as ever so my focus is on playing cricket right now and try and give my best for the team,” he said.

“I would be interested in coaching young boys under 18 and 19. It is that age they need coaching," he said.

Afridi will be featuring in the upcoming Abu Dhabi T10 and will be representing Qalandars. The UAE-based league will commence from next month with the league opener taking place at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Afridi is all excited to be part of the league and said, “I wouldn’t have been here if I cannot play in this format. I am fit and enjoying playing. I will give my best, sometimes I am successful, sometimes I am not.”

News Cricket

Dhoni bhai was always there to help Virat Kohli during his early days as skipper – Dhawan

Staff Writer Updated: 28 September, 2019, 2:06 PM IST


MS Dhoni has not spoken about his future plans till now and there are reports that he wants selectors to groom Rishabh Pant for the T20 World Cup in T20. Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, has time and again lauded the former skipper for his vital contribution across formats.

Meanwhile, Shikhar Dhawan, who is close to Virat and Dhoni has revealed the type of relationship they share with each other.

"Dhoni bhai has been quite successful as the captain of the side. We are all very grateful to him and we respect him a lot, and the same goes for Virat," he said.

"When Virat was young, he guided him immensely. Even when he became the captain, Dhoni bhai was always there to help him. This is the quality of a leader. It's good to see that Virat is showing his gratitude to him now," he added.

The southpaw also backed Rishabh Pant, whose performance has been below par in the last few series.

"Rishabh is very talented and I am sure he will have a long career for India. He is trying hard. There are situations when you don't score, but then you learn from them. It happens with everyone and I'm sure he will learn from it.

"He (Pant) is a good player and we need to back good players. Even I went through rough patches in my life, and I still do. It is part and parcel of this game," he said.

News Cricket

Shikhar Dhawan heaps praise on Dhoni, says he knows how to make a champion out of a player

Staff Writer Updated: 28 September, 2019, 2:03 PM IST


Shikhar Dhawan has played a lot of cricket under MS Dhoni and knows his former skipper closely. The 33-year old Indian opener has praised the veteran, stating Dhoni should allowed to decide about his future.

"Dhoni has been playing for so long, I feel he understands when he should retire. This should be his decision. He has taken very important decisions so far for India in his career and I'm sure he will make the call when the time comes," Dhawan said on India TV's show 'Aap Ki Adalat' hosted by Rajat Sharma.

"That's the quality of a big leader. He knows the potential of every player, and knows to what extent a player should be backed. He knows how to make a champion out of a player. India's success during his captaincy justifies this. His (Dhoni's) control is his biggest quality," he added.

Shikhar Dhawan recently turned up for Men in Blue against South Africa. The left hand batsman looked in good touch during the two T20 internationals.

News Cricket

Harbhajan makes emotional appeal to Donald Trump after Sikh officer gunned down in Texas

Staff Writer Updated: 28 September, 2019, 1:48 PM IST


A Sikh police officer was gunned down in the US state of Texas. Harris County Sherrif's Office Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal was on his duty when someone opened fire on him. The ten-year veteran in the force was agency's first Sikh deputy.

"He was a hero," the Houston Chronicle quoted Sheriff Ed Gonzalez as saying. "Deputy Dhaliwal was a trailblazer," he added. The 42-year old was taken to the Memorial Hermann Hospital, where he passed away.

Harbhajan Singh, the Indian off-spinner, has condemned the incident urging Donald Trump to take severe action against those involved.

“Very sad to hear this. America’s first turbaned Sikh police officer, Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal shot dead on Friday, during a traffic stop in Northwest Harris County in Houston,Texas. @realDonaldTrump president must instruct the authority to find the culprit and do the justice,” he wrote on his Twitter timeline.

According to the media report, he had stopped one of the cars and was interacting with someone sitting in that vehicle. A few seconds after Dhaliwal returned to his car, the man came back and shot him.

Dhaliwal was known for his humanitarian work and went to Puerto Rico to help people after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

News Cricket

Mickey Arthur defends calling out Misbah-ul-Haq and Wasim Akram for his sacking

Staff Writer Updated: 28 September, 2019, 12:47 PM IST


Former Pakistan coach, Mickey Arthur has stood his ground after he recently expressed that he felt betrayed by Misbah-ul-Haq and Wasim Akram, who were part of cricket committee that reviewed Arthur's coaching and suggested to PCB that he shouldn't be continued with as a coach after the 2019 Cricket World Cup, where Pakistan even failed to qualify for the semi-finals. Arthur's comments became a big talking point in Pakistan cricket. But he is not the one to backtrack from what he said and has defended his take on Misbah and Akram.

Arthur was quoted as saying by the AFP that, "I was dignified in my comments because I love Pakistan, the players I worked with, spent time with for three years and respect Misbah and Wasim. I felt disappointed because I had some unfinished business to do with the Pakistan team and would have loved to continue. But now we have moved on and I wish Pakistan team the best of luck under Misbah."

Both Wasim and Misbah defended their actions after Arthur called them out.

Wasim Akram said, "I have played for Pakistan and I serve Pakistan cricket in some capacity or the other, so when I was asked to join the committee to decide about the head coach I gave my honest opinion."

On the other hand, Pakistan's new head coach, Misbah opined, "I think what he has said is his opinion. Whatever he has thought he has said. I always say that everyone has his opinion. As a member of the cricket committee we gave our honest opinion. I had good relations with Mickey. Good relations are always there and will remain there."

News Cricket

Rahul Dravid calls out age fraud in Indian cricket, says it destroys "culture"

Staff Writer Updated: 28 September, 2019, 12:16 PM IST


Former Indian cricketer, Rahul Dravid has strongly expressed his displeasure at the rampant practice fo age fraud in Indian domestic cricket. The current National Cricket Academy (NCA) director is of the opinion that such malpractices have a "long-term" effect and it "erodes culture".

“Age fraud leads to an erosion of culture,” Dravid told The Times of India. “It leads to a scenario where a lot of talented boys don’t get to play, when they should actually be playing. It is up to the maidan secretaries, the owners of the office teams, the club teams to ensure that this does not happen.

Age fraud came to the fore when U-19 World Cup winner, Manjot Kalra, KKR and Delhi batsman, Nitish Rana and Mumbai Indians’ pacer Rasikh Salam were accused of fudging their respective ages. Salam paid a heavy price for it as he was banned for two years by the BCCI, which is a big setback for any youngster.

A few years back as well, Dravid had made it a point to talk about this important subject. “The truth is that the player who has faked his age might make it at the junior level not necessarily because he is better or more talented, but because he is stronger and bigger. We all know how much of a difference a couple of years can make at that age. That incident will have another ripple effect: an honest player deprived of his place by an overage player, is disillusioned. We run the risk of losing him forever,” Dravid had said.

Opinion Cricket

Can Ashwin silent all doubters in the Tests vs South Africa?

CT Contributor Updated: 28 September, 2019, 12:14 PM IST


India's ace spinner R Ashwin has been in top form with ball in County cricket of late. The off-spinner has bagged 34 wickets in five matches for Nottinghamshire at 24.58. This experience will serve utmost purpose and confidence to a player that was harshly benched in the two-match Test series against West Indies last month.

Ashwin saw left-arm spin all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja get the chance ahead of him which highlighted the premier spinner's present role in the team. To not be the number one choice against a side where he has dominated the show, it was hard to see him not play. Also, it was the management's bizarre call of citing team balance and composition.

However, India went on to win the series by a 2-0 margin. Ashwin headed back to England in order to continue his County journey. All eyes will be on Ash now as the Indian side takes on South Africa in a three-match Test series. Ashwin will be raring to have a crack at the Proteas and make his presence felt at home. The conditions as usual will suit him.

Another thing to look forward to is the partnership with the ball he shares alongside Jadeja. The two have done well as a pair for a while now. Ashwin needs to play and get his rhythm back. He is a crucial member of this side for the ICC World Test Championship 2019-21. What we want to see is a fit Ashwin not being bothered by injuries and cementing his place as the principal bowler.

Ash is real quality of a cricketer and has taken 342 wickets in 65 matches. In the 2015 series against South Africa at home, Ashwin had claimed 31 scalps to claim a heroic performance. The Indian team will require similar approach from the veteran, whose tweaks in his bowling could come to large effect. He needs the trust of his captain and the management and he needs to play.

There is no way he should be on the bench and see others get a chance. He is real quality and is a rock in conditions at home. His success in the sub-continent is enough to see him go about his job and deliver. It's simple for Ashwin. He needs to play and then trust his form to pick up wickets and silence all the doubters.