Feature Cricket

Pacers who have taken the World Cup 2019 by storm

CT Contributor Updated: 28 June, 2019, 12:36 PM IST


The ICC World Cup 2019 has gathered significant phase after crossing the halfway mark last week. The battle for semi-final qualification has entered a valuable phase. Australia have made it to the last four, whereas, three teams in South Africa, Afghanistan and West Indies have already been knocked out.

The rest of the sides are battling it out for the semis and we are expected to have a fierce battle on the cards in the remaining games. The World Cup in England and Wales hasn't lived up to a complete batting paradise as predicted before the tourney began. Several matches had the batting fireworks, but since then, it has become more of a bowling show in particular. Teams with good bowling have gone on to win games in recent times.

The fast bowlers in particular have played a strong role so far and are leading the show. Here we look at 5 pacers who have taken CWC 19 by storm.

Mitchell Starc

The Australian pacer has been used wisely by skipper Aaron Finch and he has been utilized in taking key scalps and breaking partnerships. Starc leads the show with 19 scalps in CWC 19. He has been influential for the defenders and an average of 18.26 justifies his work. He has already bowled the ball of the tournament to Ben Stokes.

Jofra Archer

He made his debut for England last month, but since then Archer has become England's leading hero with the ball. With great pace, slower balls and a deceptive bouncer, Archer has been making a mark in CWC 19. With 16 wickets under his belt, Archer has truly lived up to expectations and delivered the goods.

Mohammad Amir

The left-arm pacer wasn't actually a part of the management's plan before the World Cup, but thanks to faith, he was given a go. It proved to be Pakistan's masterstroke. Amir has been scintillating with the ball and has hardly stepped a foot wrong. With 16 wickets in his bag, Amir has scaled new heights in CWC 19.

Mohammed Shami

He came in for the injured Bhuvneshwar Kumar and in two games, he proved to be India's match winner. After 4 wickets including a hat-trick against Afghanistan, Shami then took another four against West Indies. With the venom and consistency on offer, Kohli may be tempted to continue with the speedster.

Lockie Ferguson

With 15 wickets under his belt, New Zealand fast bowler Lockie Ferguson is having a dream of a World Cup. He has already bowled the fastest ball in CWC 19 and has been intimidating batsmen with an array of short balls. His usage of the slower ball and the yorker has also proved to be handy.

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Feature Cricket

Rohit Sharma’s last chance at Test cricket permanency?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 17 September, 2019, 4:45 PM IST


As hard as it may be to imagine, these must be exhilarating times for Rohit Sharma who has become the toast of the town to the point of becoming suddenly India’s first choice for the slot of the Test opener for the home series against South Africa. It was not that long ago that Rohit Sharma did not know if he was coming or going as he was left out of the home series against the West Indies and then seemingly randomly picked for the tour of Australia.

K.L. Rahul’s inconsistent performances as a Test opener eventually found its waterloo in the West Indies. With it becoming obvious that Virat Kohli needs a new cricketer in the opener’s slot in order to forge ahead, it seemed that rather than put all one’s eggs in the basket of India’s new wave of cricketers, the idea of having an experienced cricketer in the midst seemed to fortify as an idea.

It remains to be seen whether Rohit Sharma can do consistently for India what Virender Sehwag did in that opener’s role, also, as a swashbuckling batsman. Whether India will give Rohit – the skittish member of the Test cricket lot – leeway a la Virender Sehwag is, also, in question given Sharma’s chequered Test cricket journey.

Ironically it seems that while Rohit Sharma could not find a spot on the Indian team when the West Indies last toured India, he did make the tour of Australia. If there was a sense of faith about Rohit Sharma translating from a prolific limited overs cricketer into a consistent Test cricketer, it has not been particularly forthcoming even in the past year although Rohit Sharma as a viable alternative to Kohli as India’s limited overs captain floated around, particularly as India went down anti-climatically in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 semi-final to New Zealand.

Now it would appear that whatever feuds and rifts were rumoured to be brewing between the captain and Sharma would have to take to dust as India gear up for the first home encounter since the inception of the ICC World Test Championship. Although India began their Test points tally with the series in the Caribbean, this will be their first home encounter which is perhaps why Rohit Sharma has been thrown into the mix given that this is a series against South Africa. The argument though could perhaps be made that there was no better, not to mention, opportunistic, time than now to strike when the iron is hot by blooding a younger cricketer, particularly in home conditions.

That could still happen although it would seem that playing it safe would demand Rohit was tried in the slot. By the same breath, it would then hold that while Rohit Sharma’s talents have never been in doubt, there has always been an asterix to his career as a Test cricketer. Unable to establish himself consistently enough or score prolifically as he has in the shorter formats of the game where he has double centuries to his game, Rohit Sharma has often had to wait upon unlikely opportunities to audition to play for Test cricket. It is what has kept his career hanging and perhaps even cost him the opportunity to really challenge Kohli for the captaincy.

With that being said, with Kohli in resplendent form to not feel threat to his place in the team or his position as the team’s captain any time soon, it has to be said that of the nine lives that Rohit Sharma has had with regard to reviving his Test cricket career, finding himself inducted into the team to fill up the opener’s must be seen as arguably one of the last chances to establish himself in the longest format of the sport. While it would seem that a golden opportunity has landed in his lap yet again, this time it is on Rohit Sharma to grab it and claim it for his own.

News Cricket

I think I owe Nathan Lyon a lot of beers - Jack Leach

Staff Writer Updated: 17 September, 2019, 4:42 PM IST


Australia would have won the third Test match of the Ashes had Nathan Lyon not missed an easy chance to run-out Jack Leach.

Ben Stokes shot went straight to the point and his partner Jack Leach was halfway down when the ball was given to Nathan Lyon. However, he fumbled the return throw and the rest is history.

Jack Leach has revealed the conversation he had with the Aussie off-spinner.

"Nathan Lyon came over and said to me 'how many beers do you owe me [for the run out]?' I think I owe him a lot. Sport is fickle and I guess you have to enjoy the good moments and not get too down about the bad moments. I have had some luck as well. Hopefully, you earn that luck through hard work, I will continue working hard.

That was an experience for me, seeing how competitive Ashes cricket is. Nothing crossed a line, and fair play to both teams for playing in a great spirit," he said.

News Cricket

David Warner thanks English fans for boos, barbs and banter

Staff Writer Updated: 17 September, 2019, 4:09 PM IST


David Warner, who failed miserably in the recently concluded Ashes, has thanked his fans for supporting the Australian team. He took to Instagram to post an emotional message after the end of the tour of England.

"Thanks to all of you back home who stayed up late to support us, as well as the many of you who made the trip to back us at the ovals. It means the world to us and we just hope we have given you some enjoyment," he wrote.

He also thanked the English fans for their banter during the series. The rival fans went after Warner and Steve Smith, who were returning to Test cricket after serving a ban of one year for their involvement in the ball tampering scandal.

"Thanks, too, for all the banter from the fans - it was fun. For me personally it was a tough series but my challenge now is to bounce back. I'll be doing everything I can to do just that - but first some family time!" he added.

News Cricket

If Rohit Sharma gets his game plan right, he can be a great asset to Test team - Vikram Rathour

Staff Writer Updated: 17 September, 2019, 3:06 PM IST


Rohit Sharma will open for Team India in the upcoming Test series against South Africa. After KL Rahul's axing, Rohit will be given another chance to cement his place in Test squad. Team India's new batting coach Vikram Rathour is backing Rohit to come good as opener in Test cricket.

“I think he is too good a player to not be playing in any team. Everybody in the side echoes this opinion. He is a wonderful opening batsman in the limited-overs format, so there is no reason why he cannot be successful in Test matches. If he gets his game plan right, he can be a great asset to the team,” Rathore told reporters ahead of the second T20I.

He will take some time to get along with the Indian players.

“The interaction with the team has been good. I have been in this profession for a long time, I have interacted with almost all the players. Nothing too tough, it will take me some time to adjust in the setup of team India but I will manage,” he added.

News Cricket

You don’t see many in Indian cricket who can bowl at 150 kmph: Klusener on Navdeep Saini

Staff Writer Updated: 17 September, 2019, 2:59 PM IST


Former South Africa all-rounder Lance Klusener, who is currently working as an assistant batting coach of South Africa, is impressed with progress of Navdeep Saini. Lance Klusener has worked with the Delhi District Cricket Association in the past and is not surprised with the rise of young fast bowler.

“I am so glad to see Navdeep Saini being recognized. You don’t see many in Indian cricket who can bowl at 150 kmph,” Klusener was as quoted by Times of India.

According to him, Navdeep is a great leaner, who is always open to learn more from current and former cricketers.

“I think he has a wonderful action which is very clean and smooth. He is superbly fit as well. But while chatting with him, I realized he is hungry to bowl at 150 clicks and above,” he added.

News Cricket

It would be great for fans to see the battle between Virat and Rabada - Quinton de Kock

Staff Writer Updated: 17 September, 2019, 2:42 PM IST


South Africa and India will face off in the second T20I of the three-match series in Mohali. Ahead of the match, Proteas new skipper Quinton de Kock stated that captaincy is a new stepping stone in his career.

“I am not too concerned. It is a new stepping stone in my career. It gives me extra responsibility in the team. We will see how it goes, it can affect me positively or negatively, but it is too early to say. I will try to do my best,” de Kock told reporters.

He was not happy after the first match was abandoned due to rain.

“Obviously it is a bit of negative. We would have liked to play at Dharamshala. We would like to play as many matches heading into the 20-20 World Cup next year so losing out on one game is not ideal. But it is what it is. It is now a two-match series. It would be an exciting format so we will see how things go,” he added.

Virat and Rabada are renowned for their on-field battles and De Kock expects another one in the ongoing T20 series.

“They are both good players. It is a good competition between both Virat Kohli and Kagiso Rabada. They both are aggressive in their style of play. It would be great for fans to see the battle between them both,” he said.

News Cricket

Chris Woakes bowls first no ball of Test career after 867 overs, denied wicket

Staff Writer Updated: 17 September, 2019, 12:46 PM IST


England defeated Australia by 135 runs in the fifth and final Ashes test at the Oval to draw the series 2-2.

It's the first time an Ashes series has ended in a draw since 1972.

Both teams had something to celebrate as Australia was later presented with the Ashes urn. Australia had already retained the urn as holder but was thwarted in its goal of a first outright series win in England in 18 years after being dismissed for 263 in its second innings deep into the evening session on Day 4.

Broad took 4-62 and spinner Jack Leach 4-49 for England. Broad became the first England bowler to take 20-plus wickets in four Ashes series — 2013, 2013-14, 2015 and 2019. Leach ended the game at 6:10 p.m. local time with two wickets — Nathan Lyon (1) and Josh Hazlewood (0) — in two balls.

Earlier, Matthew Wade and Mitchell Marsh stitched a partnership of 52 runs for the fifth wicket. This partnership would have ended had Chris Woakes not over-stepped for the first time in his Test career - which was after 867 overs.

"We were excellent this week. Having lost the toss, to play as we did was fantastic. We drove the game all the time and got there in the end," Root said. "Collectively we've shown a lot of character throughout the whole series. We were not always at our best, but we've fought really hard."

News Cricket

Virat is the best in the world at the moment, but Smith's Test records speak for itself – Ganguly

Staff Writer Updated: 17 September, 2019, 12:31 PM IST


A lot has been written about Virat Kohli and Steve Smith in the recent times. The former Aussie skipper has surpassed Virat Kohli to take the top spot in the ICC Test rankings for batsmen.

Smith was in exceptional form in the recently concluded Ashes where he amassed 774 runs in seven innings at an average of 110.57.

Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly feels Kohli is still the best in the world while admitting that Smith has done wonders in Test cricket. He refused to compare two modern-day greats.

"These are questions not to be answered. How does it matter? It's about performance. Virat is the best in the world at the moment. So that's what makes us happy," Ganguly was quoted as saying by IANS.

"His records speak for itself... 26 Test hundreds which is a phenomenal record," he said talking about Smith.

News Cricket

Sachin and Virat lead cricket fraternity's birthday wishes for PM Narendra Modi

Staff Writer Updated: 17 September, 2019, 12:20 PM IST


India Prime Minister Narendra Modi is celebrating his 69th birthday today. As the wishes started pouring in since midnight, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar and other famous cricket personalities took to Twitter to wish India’s honorable leader.

While India skipper Virat Kohli wished the Prime Minister good health and success, former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar recalled PM's vision to make India clean.

“Wishing our honourable Prime Minister, @narendramodi ji a very happy birthday. Wish you all the good health and success in your pursuit of taking our nation to greater heights. @PMOIndia,” Virat Kohli tweeted.

"Happy Birthday Hon. PM @narendramodi ji. Your vision for a healthier and cleaner India is an inspiration for all. May you always be blessed with good health in life," Sachin wrote on twitter.

Shikhar Dhawan, the left-hand batsman, also wished the Prime Minister on his 69th birthday.

"Happy Birthday to our respected and honourable Prime Minister, @narendramodi ji.. Thank you for all your efforts towards making our country greater than ever, sir," Shikhar Dhawan wrote on Twitter.

Harbhajan Singh, Gautam Gambhir and Kedar Jadhav extended their wishes.

Opinion Cricket

How can Rohit Sharma hold on to the position as an opener in Tests?

CT Contributor Updated: 17 September, 2019, 11:50 AM IST


It was a patience game for Rohit Sharma to remain in the Indian cricket team Test squad of late but not get many chances. A few did come in his way at number six in South Africa (2018) and Australia (2018-19) respectively. Since the start of 2017, the senior cricketer played just six Tests in total.

To be the number one choice in limited-overs and not be a regular in the white-ball format is often taxing. Also, to see someone like a KL Rahul not performing consistently and yet getting chances was another hard pill to swallow.

With Rahul failing in the series against West Indies recently, the selectors finally drew sense and dropped the opener for the upcoming series against South Africa, starting October 2. Rohit was named in the side as expected but what materialized for him was he has been given the onus to open. This is huge for the star Indian batsman.

Now since he has got the chance to showcase his skills atop, Rohit will be keen to not throw the opportunity away. There are three Tests and six innings in store for him to set the tone. In order to cement his place, the veteran needs to be patience. Perhaps, he should take a leaf out of Hanuma Vihari, in particular. The idea will be to go in with a positive mindset and play your natural game.

Rohit is a master in ODIs and T20Is and has all the runs and records under his belt. He is fluent and knows the pace of the game. Test cricket is different and it will challenge him against the top quality Proteas attack. Experience, presence of mind and playing as per merit will help him at large.

He is a sound batsman technical wise and that will help his game. The application against the hard ball will be key and maintaining his individuality will be essential as well. India can use his style of play to attack the opposition. So let’s hope that Rohit is successful in his new journey in a celebrated career.

Feature Cricket

‘The Big Four’ of international batsmanship

Partab Ramchand Updated: 17 September, 2019, 11:47 AM IST


It is not often that cricket has seen four outstanding batsmen gracing the fields the world over at the same time. Fans of the sport are lucky that Steve Smith, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Joe Root are around to regale them. It doesn’t matter if the England captain is going through a lean patch currently and his career Test average has slipped a little below 50. He is still a great batsman and surely it is only a matter of time before a lot of runs and big scores come his way. As the sporting adage goes ``form is temporary class is permanent.’’

The other three however continue to be among the runs. Kohli is acknowledged to be the best among the three formats and it is almost impossible to argue against this judgement. The Indian captain has got runs consistently and handsomely. His batting is an ideal blend of audacious strokeplay and sterling defence in Tests and ODIs and in T-20 cricket he bats with gay abandon but fully in control of the situation. A player who averages an unthinkable 60 after playing 230 innings in ODIs is nothing short of a phenomenon. But perhaps even more eye rubbing and mind boggling is an average of 49 in T-20 internationals. The format calls for explosive knocks but these are generally brief with the risk factor being very high. And yet Kohli has 21 half centuries four more than the next best Rohit Sharma who has played 23 more innings. In Tests with 25 hundreds from 79 matches and an average of 53 his record is second only to Smith which is saying something given the Aussie’s exalted status in the game’s traditional format.

Kane Williamson like Kohli excels in all three formats but it is his awesome record in Tests that takes precedence. With 20 hundreds from 74 matches at an average of 52 he is a class act. But the New Zealand captain averages almost 48 in ODIs with an impressive strike rate and has the game to adjust to the shortest format where he has an excellent record.

Much the same can be said about Smith who also excels in the two shorter formats to be bracketed with Williamson and Root with the Indian captain comfortably leading the way. But when it comes to Tests Smith stands on a peak well ahead of the others. What else can one say about a batsman who averages 64 in Tests, who has notched up 26 hundreds in just 68 Tests, whose name is second only to Don Bradman when it comes to notching up records. His unusual technique has got bowlers scratching their heads in dismay as they try and work out strategies to get him out. His appetite for runs and big scores are insatiable, his powers of concentration are legendary and he is the quintessential Aussie fighter who just never gives up. In years to come the era of The Big Four will bring a glint to the eyes of old timers fortunate to be around at this time.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli and selectors should take a call on MS Dhoni's future - Sourav Ganguly

Staff Writer Updated: 17 September, 2019, 10:55 AM IST


MS Dhoni has maintained silence on his future with Men in Blue. Many former cricketers feel Dhoni should be allowed to decide his future course of action.

However, former India skipper Sourav Ganguly wants Virat Kohli and national selectors to take a call on MS Dhoni's future.

"I don't know what the selectors think, what Virat thinks. They are the important persons, let them make the decision," he said.

The first T20 match between India and South Africa was washed out due to rain. Ganguly has rated Team India as favourite for the T20 and Test series.

"India are favourites. India at home is a dangerous team. They are very hard to beat and that's been the case for years," he added.

He also spoke about his role with Delhi Capitals.

"In any case I am already a coach. I look after the Delhi Capitals in the IPL. In my first season last year, they did well. They went to the semifinals from being last for last seven years so it's been good," he said.

News Cricket

No security for Virat Kohli & Co as BCCI fails to deposit a fee of Rs 9 crore to Chandigarh police

Staff Writer Updated: 17 September, 2019, 10:48 AM IST


Ahead of the second T20I between India and South Africa, Chandigarh police refused to provide security cover to the Indian team. According to reports, the governing body of Indian cricket has not deposited a fee of Rs 9 crore, forcing the police to deny security cover.

Both the teams were received at the airport by Mohali police but the Chandigarh police refused to give any personnel at all.

However, private security arrangements have been made for both the teams at the hotel.

Earlier, the first T20 between India and South Africa was abandoned due to rain at HPCA Stadium.

Weather threatened to play havoc with the start of South Africa's tour of India since the tourists arrived at the scenic hill station venue last week and the anticipated rain duly arrived on Sunday afternoon.

After the toss was initially delayed due to a wet outfield, the game was abandoned at 7.50 p.m. local time, 50 minutes after the scheduled start of play.

News Cricket

Miandad blasts Lankan players, says SLC should penalize those who have opted out of Pak series

Staff Writer Updated: 17 September, 2019, 10:42 AM IST


Pakistan were hoping to welcome full-strength Sri Lanka side for the upcoming tour. However, their plans were dashed when 10 top Sri Lankan players decided to opt of the tour citing security reasons.

This is the first time after a long time that a top cricket nation has decided to tour Pakistan. The Lankans will play three ODIs and as many T20Is in Pakistan.

Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal, Suranga Lakmal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Thisara Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera, and Niroshan Dickwella are the players who have pulled out of the tour.

Former Pakistan cricketer Javed Miandad is furious with Island players and has urged the national cricket board of Sri Lanka to take action against those who have decided to skip the tour.

“International matches should be the top priority for the players and SLC should penalize the ones who have opted out of the Pakistan series."

Earlier, Shoaib Akhtar and Ramiz Raza have slammed the Lankan cricketer for their decision.

News Cricket

No more Biryani for Pakistan players as Misbah changes diet plan

Staff Writer Updated: 17 September, 2019, 10:40 AM IST


Pakistan’s new head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq has decided to work on the fitness of players. He has changed the diet plan to ensure players are fit when they take up national or domestic duties.

“No more Biryani or oil rich red meat meals or sweet dishes for the players now,” said a member of a catering company managing the food plan for the players in a match of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.

According to new instructions players will be served barbecue items and pasta with lots of fruits.

“Pakistani players are known to have a fondness for junk food and rich oily dishes when they are not playing for the national team but Misbah has told every player that a log book will be maintained on their fitness and diet plans and anyone found lacking would be shown the door,” a source, aware of the developments, said.

Misbah was one of the fittest players during his days in international cricket. He has already chalked out plan and vision to take Pakistan cricket forward.

“I have been saying this forever that there is some confusion in the way we are thinking about being defensive and aggressive,” he said after his appointment. “I always believed that your strategy is based on the resources you’ve got. Ideally, you obviously try and wish to have resources that you can just dominate and knock out the opposition.

“Being a coach, I will try to build a team that plays aggressively and wins easily. But then at certain times you have to assess the strength of the opponent and make your strategy accordingly."