In an act of defiance before the Pulwama attack on the Indian army, an official in Pakistan had claimed Pakistan would raise their own game such that India would come knocking, asking to play in Pakistan. However, while the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan community may be dreaming of a tantalizing Indo-Pak contest, the idea of resumption of tours and talks just got longer.
The stunning jolt to the Indian army last week put paid to any conciliatory efforts of mending bridges with Pakistan. The ghastly attack that claimed the lives of the Indian soldiers created an atmosphere of such grief, anger and dismay that in such an atmosphere, it was hard to even entertain the notion that India would be contemplating the idea of resumption of bilateral tours or envision themselves touring Pakistan, let alone allow the Pakistan cricket team to come to India, even at a later date given the current scenario and atmosphere and the respective governments at a standoff.
Those that thought that the ascension of Imran Khan, the former Pakistan captain who took Pakistan to their first ICC World Cup in 1992, to the role of Pakistan’s Prime Minister would ease tensions and pave way for improving relations, not to mention resumption of cricket between the two nations, were given a reality check when not only was the state sponsored terrorism continuing to wreak havoc on its own soil but also, continuing to perpetuate divisive and destructive activities across state borders. With militancy being a critical issue that has made the state of Jammu and Kashmir volatile with incursions and terrorist activities, even the idea of Imran Khan at the helm failed to assuage thoughts that things would only more difficult with the Pakistan army largely in control and not the Prime Minister per se.
The words by Wasim Khan and Ehsan Mani, who is the current Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, about raising the level of Pakistan cricket to the point where India would be soliciting opportunities to play Pakistan seems not only ironic but also, the prospect bleak given the political and emotional volatility in the region, particularly in the aftermath of this dastardly act. Furthermore, with Cricket Australia rejecting the offer to tour Pakistan for part of its tour has compounded matters because it continues to isolate Pakistan on the world stage.
The idea of Pakistan claiming compensation for lack of bilateral tours and for being sidelined was, also, shot down recently and it is unlikely that India will take a more lenient stand any time soon when it comes to resumption of cricket which seems now to have been firmly consigned to the backburner with bigger issues dominating the agenda with regards to the affairs of both nations.
Pakistan’s cricketers have not enjoyed an easy time playing away from home, caught in turmoil of their own and also, with the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008 which not only sealed Pakistan cricketers’ participation to play in India, but also, isolated Pakistan as India cancelled the bilateral tour home and away thereafter. The terrorists ambush on the Sri Lankan team thereafter in Lahore outside the cricket grounds sealed Pakistan’s fate and with this latest, most obvious hand in the state sponsored terrorism playing havoc with the youth of Kashmir and causing grave damage to the Indian army, withholding cricket is the least of India’s policies on a bureaucratic level, throwing a spanner in the works of those harbouring ideas of the resumption of the mouthwatering bilateral contests which now seems like a thing of the past.
IPL released the schedule of the first two weeks (17 matches) of the 12th edition of the lucrative league. IPL fans were keenly awaiting the announcement. The dates for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections have not been announced yet. And that is why only the schedule of the first two weeks are out, as of now.
A total of 17 matches will be played during this period, with every team playing a minimum of 4 matches. Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore will be playing five matches each. CSK and RCB will lock horns in the IPL opener on March 23 in Chennai.
Here is the schedule:
It’s exactly 100 days to go for the start of the World Cup in England on May 30 and the countdown has started in real earnest. All the ten competing teams are busy with preparations. Eight of them in fact are currently involved in either Tests, ODIs or T-20s. Sri Lanka are in South Africa, England in the West Indies, Bangladesh are in New Zealand while Australia have reached India for a series of limited overs games. Pakistan has just completed a tour of South Africa while Afghanistan will shortly commence a limited overs series against Ireland.
So the ten participating teams are approaching their campaign in the best possible manner – playing international matches. Preparatory camps serve a purpose for it enables the team members to jell together but there is no substitute for match play.
The distribution of the ten World Cup competitions so far is very simple – five for Australia, four for the sub-continent and two for the West Indies. Among the senior Test playing nations who have been regular participants England, South Africa and New Zealand have not had their names inscribed on the trophy so far. England have been finalists three times in 1979, 1987 and 1992 while New Zealand were runners-up to Australia four years ago. South Africa’s best has been to reach the semifinals four times in 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2015.
Favourites have generally won the World Cup but the tournament has also produced surprise champions. The most famous of course is India winning in 1983 but Australia’s triumph four years later and Sri Lanka’s victory in 1996 were also unexpected. And the manner in which Pakistan won the trophy in 1992 after being on the verge of elimination midway through the campaign also deserves special mention.
So which team is likely to lift the handsome trophy at Lord’s come July 14? These are early days yet but on the basis of the rankings England and India appear to have the best chance. The two teams are ranked No 1 and No 2 and there is a fair gap between them and four teams bunched together in the middle – New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and Australia. Conventional wisdom would have it that the champion should be one among these six but then given the fact that Sri Lanka and West Indies are witnessing an upsurge in their fortunes and also that upsets as we have seen have marked the competition over the years one is tempted to term it is a rather open World Cup.
Australia will play two T20 internationals and five ODIs against Men in Blue. Virat Kohli is part of the squads after skipping last two one-day internationals and T20 series against New Zealand.
All eyes will be on Virat Kohli, who couldn’t dominate the last few series keeping his lofty standards in mind.
The right hand batsman accumulated a century each in Tests and ODIs against Australia while he failed to reach three-figure mark in New Zealand.
Former Australian opener Matthew Hayden feels Virat will pose a tough challenge for the Aussie bowlers especially youngster Jhye Richardson.
The 22-year old pacer was impressive against the Indian skipper in the ODI matches in Australia dismissing him thrice in as many games.
However, conditions would be different in India for the fast bowler, who replace Josh Hazlewood in the squad.
“In the recent series (in Australia), Virat did have some trouble against Richardson, who played beautifully, taking Virat’s wicket thrice. But, I believe it will be a very different scenario this time around. Jhye is a young player, not with a lot of experience of playing cricket in India, so I believe Virat will be dominant in this one,” Hayden was quoted as saying by Times of India.
Former Australia skipper Steve Smith is expected to play a key role for Rajasthan Royals in the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League. The right hand batsman is currently serving one-year ban imposed on him for his role in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
With his ban coming to an end in March, he will be turning up for his IPL franchise. He is currently recovering from an elbow injury he sustained while playing in the Bangladesh Premier League.
The royals retained him for a whopping INR 12.5 crores for the 12th edition of the league, which is 66% percent more than his existing salary contact.
Moneyball, the automated salary calculation engine, has calculated his salaries over the years. He has earned INR 33.1 crores from IPL till date and stands at 65th position in the list of highest IPL earners.
With the 2019 Cricket World Cup just a few months away, the hustle and bustle regarding the ICC megaevent has taken over everyone. And that is generally the case in the World Cup year as the cricketing carnival takes place only once in four years. Teams eagerly await to stamp their authority in world cricket through the Cricket World Cup.
Team India are one of the red-hot contenders to win the title, this year. Indian cricketer, Suresh Raina feels MS Dhoni is going to be indispensable to India's chances in the 50-overs World Cup.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Raina said that the Indian wicket-keeper batsman will play a crucial role if India are to win the showpiece event.
“The amount of runs Dhoni has scored recently in Australia and New Zealand and the kind of guidance he gives to the youngsters in the team, especially the bowlers, that augurs really well for the boys. He has seen a lot of ups and downs, he has been a part of quite a few World Cups and has also been there in IPL finals and that is why he is the go-to-man for skipper Kohli,” he said.
The 2019 World Cup will commence from May 30 in England and Wales. Australia are reigning World-Cup champions but it is England and India, who are touted as the favorites to win the title.
In an unfortunate incident in New Zealand, one of the umpires was assaulted by players during a club match.
The incident took place during the match between Horowhenua-Kapiti club’s Paraparaumu and Weraroa teams on Sunday.
The Weraroa players were upset with one of the decisions and started punching and kicking one of the Paraparaumu players who was officiating as an umpire.
After one of the players started the physical assault, three or four players also joined him.
"If that happened on the street it would be GBH [grievous bodily harm] so how come if it happens on the field it's fine," the unnamed witness said.
"He had a third kick at him before his team pulled him off."
"I know exactly who did the kicking, everyone saw who it was."
Another unnamed witness labelled the Weraroa players' behaviour "disgusting".
“I believe his nose is broken then another three or four Levin [Weraroa] players joined in and proceeded to kick and punch him,” another unnamed witness said as quoted by Stuff.
According to NZC’s public affairs manager Richard Boock, they have initiated an investigation into the matter.
“While we are still awaiting details, NZC views any type of physical assault in cricket as repugnant and utterly unacceptable. We will await the results of the investigation before commenting further,” said Richard Boock.
Wriddhiman Saha, who last played for India last year against South Africa, is looking forward to play in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy, which will start from February 21.
Bengal will take on Sikkim in their opening match at Barabati Stadium in Cuttack and Saha is looking forward to that game. Saha's sole focus is on helping his team to perform well in the championship.
“It definitely feels great to back in the mix after an injury layoff. Firstly for a sportsperson, there is nothing like the feeling of returning to the game and I don’t feel like I’ve been away for too long, rather just a couple of weeks or so, like a short break. Right now my focus is solely on helping Bengal do well in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy,” Saha was quoted as saying in Cricket Next.
“Rishabh got his chance when I was out and just like anyone would look to grab their chance with both hands he did the same. I don’t look at him as my competition, in fact when he came to the NCA we spent a lot of time together which was nice. We hardly spoke about performances and selection.
“My job is to play to the best of my ability and ensure I contribute to the needs of my team at all times. I feel the selection matters are not in my hand. So the main aim is to do well and then let things take its own course,” he added.
Kapil Sharma has broken his silence on the sacking of Navjot Singh Sidhu from The Kapil Sharma Show. He said while he is with the Indian government on the issue of terror attack on CRPF convoy, the move to remove the former Indian cricketer from his show is not the correct way to handle things.
Speaking at an anti-drug event in Chandigarh, he further added there we need to find a solution to the issue of terrorism to prevent attacks like Pulwama in future.
DNA quoted him as saying: “Abhi Navjot Singh Sidhu ke kuch aur commitment hain isliye humare saath Archana Puran Singh shoot kar rahe hain. Maujuda waqt mein Sidhu humaare sath nahi hain. (Because of some prior commitments of Sidhu, currently Archana is shooting with us.)
“Halaaki ye bahut choti cheezein hain, ya phir propoganda hota hai jinmein iss tareeke ke baatein aati hain. Mere manna yeh hai ki kisi ko ban karna na, Navjot Singh Sidhu ko show se bahaar karna in baaton ka solution nahi hai. Ek Sthai samadhaan humein milkar dekhna hoga. (All this is propaganda. I believe banning people, sending Sidhu out of the show is not the right solution. We need to look for a permanent solution.)”
Rishabh Pant has made a special place for himself in the red-ball format. He has played nine Tests and is averaging close to 50 with two centuries to his credit. The fact that both his hundreds have come in SENA countries makes his tons extra special. The southpaw is the only Indian wicket-keeper batsman to smash centuries in England and Australia respectively. It is something that even the great MS Dhoni couldn't.
One of the most remarkable moments of Pant's career came on the second delivery he faced in Test cricket. He had smacked legspinner Adil Rashid into the stands during India’s first innings of the Third Test of the series to get off the mark. He became the first Indian to do something of that sort.
“I was nervous when I went out to bat. I was reminding myself to play according to the ball. I defended the first ball, but I saw what he [Adil Rashid] was trying to do. The second ball was a googly, and we Indian batsmen are good at reading spin. I read it from the hand, I felt like I could hit it, and I hit it,” Pant told ESPNcricinfo in an interview on what was going through his mind during that shot.
Former South African opener Herschelle Gibbs feels India and England are the top contenders for the World Cup title. The host nation is chasing their maiden World Cup title while Men in Blue have lifted the prestigious cup twice after notching up wins in 1983 and 2011.
While he named England and India as favorites but he failed to come out with two other semifinalists of the event. According to him, a lot will depend on the weather conditions in England & Wales.
"It is always wide open. The two standout contenders will be England and India. But, who is going to make the other two places for the semi-finals? It is difficult to say. A lot depends on the weather in England. The bowling attacks will all play a part (in the tournament)," the 44-year-old Gibbs said on Monday.
When asked about South Africa chances, he stated that Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock will have to play a key role but absence of a genuine all-rounder could hurt the Proteas.
"We (South Africa) are always up there irrespective of ABD. We have got Faf (Du Plessis) and Quinton de Kock. The only issue for South Africa is not having an all-rounder," said Gibbs.
MS Dhoni is followed by millions across the globe. Ahead of the T20 series against Australia, he was seen taking part in a charity football match in Mumbai.
The crowd turned up in huge numbers to see their favorite star in action. Apart from the former Indian skipper, Bollywood celebrities Dino Morea, Aparshakti Khurana, Marc Robinson also took part in the match.
Here are some pictures and videos from the occasion:
After failing to perform in 2018, the right hand batsman roared back to form in the ODI series against Australia scoring three consecutive fifties.
The right hand batsman was award Man of the Series for his clinical display in Men in Blue’s maiden bilateral ODI series triumph in Australia.
He is part of the T20 and ODI squads for the upcoming limited-overs series against Australia.
Indian tennis star Sania Mirza took to Instagram to condemn the barbaric terror attack on the convoy of CRPF security personnel. She was in utter shock after hearing the news of this tragedy and termed it as black day for India.
"I stand with the CRPF jawaans and their families, my heart goes out to them and they are our true heroes who protect our country. 14th February was a black day for India and I hope we never have to see another day like this, no amount of condolences can make any of this better," Sania Mirza said in a lengthy post on Twitter.
As many as 42 soldiers lost their lives when an explosive-laden car rammed into one of the buses carrying CRPF men. She further added that celebrities doesn't need to condemn an attack publicly to prove their patriotism.
"This post is for those people who think that as celebrities we need to 'condemn' an attack, tweet and Instagram and be all over social media to prove that we are patriotic and care about our country. Why? Cause we are celebs and some of you are frustrated individuals who have nowhere else to target your anger towards and grab every opportunity to spread more hate?
Sania continued: "I don't need to condemn an attack publicly, or come and scream from roof tops or all over social media that we are against terrorism. Of course we are against terrorism and anyone that spreads it. Any person in their right frame of mind is against terrorism and if they are not then that's a problem!"
"This day will not be forgotten and neither shall it be forgiven but yes I will stay pray for peace and you should too instead of spreading more hate. Anger is good as long as it's being channeled into something productive," added Sania.
"You are achieving nothing by trolling other people. There was no place for terrorism in this world and there never will be. Find you way to serve the nation instead of sitting and swearing and judging public figures for how many posts they have posted about the tragedy!
"Do your bit and we are doing out bit without announcing on social media! Yes that's a thing too. Prayers and peace," Sania concluded.
She was soon targeted by trolls for expressing herself. Wife of Shikhar Dhawan, Ayesha has come out in her support and even shared Sania’s post before penning down condolence message for the martyred bravehearts.
Team India are one of the most domineering sides at the moment in the world of cricket. They are ranked no.1 in ICC Test rankings while the Kohli-led side is no.2 in both ODI and T20I formats respectively. Be it any format, the Indian team are a tough nut to crack and put up a competitive show over and again. One of India's upcoming stars, Rishabh Pant disclosed the mindset that drives Virat Kohli's India when they take the field.
“Right now in this Indian team, we only play to win. Whatever the match, whatever the situation, every player, from No. 1 to 11, only thinks about how he can win the match for India. That is the most important thing for us. That we have to win it for India,” Pant said.
Rishabh Pant also revealed how Virat Kohli's words inspired him to do something special in just his second Test match at the Oval.
He said, “During that hundred in England [at The Oval], we were too far behind. You had to be careful to pick what balls you hit. In England, if you give yourself some time, you can score runs. So I was very selective at the start of the innings. Once I got used to the conditions, the runs came. He (Virat Kohli) said it is not compulsory that you attain experience after 100 Tests. Even in your second Test, you can do what nobody has ever done."
Ever since the Pulwama terror attack, the hostility between South Asian neighbors- India and Pakistan is on the rise. There have even been suggestions that India should refuse to play Pakistan in the 2019 Cricket World Cup that will commence from May 30 in England and Wales.
Harbhajan Singh had opined that the Men in Blue should not play the Men in Green in the ICC megaevent. And now Ex-BCCI secretary, Sanjay Patel has also said that country is bigger than any sport and India should not play Pakistan in the World Cup.
“How can you expect India to play Pakistan at the time we have lost so many of our brothers in these cowardly terrorist attack. I am of the firm view that India should not play Pakistan in the coming World Cup,” former BCCI secretary Patel was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
“If we play the World Cup, then it’s clear that game is bigger than the country’s image. For me, India is first and it’s not only me who has such a sentiment. Ask any Indian now, and they will be of the same view. Cricket will only take place if terrorism is stopped. I hope the current COA and BCCI takes note of it. There is always a limit to everything and this time all limits have been crossed.
“During the recent India-Pakistan board dispute, my stand was clear that we should not pay a single penny to PCB. The moment India withdraws from an ICC event, the World Cup will start falling. For me, human life is more important than sport,” Patel added.
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