News Cricket

Peshawar through to 3rd successive PSL final

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

HIGHLIGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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News Cricket

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

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

HIGHLIGHT

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

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

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

News Cricket

NZ to review security for sports teams after mosque shooting

AP Updated: 16 March, 2019, 9:56 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

On a regular test match morning Hagley Oval in Christchurch would be a hive of activity.

Mowers would be sweeping the broad, green outfield, ground staff making the last, finicky touches to the test match pitch, cricket players going through warmups, pundits huddling and discussing prospects for the day.

But Saturday morning, the tree-lined oval near the center of Christchurch was a desolate reminder of the tragic events of the previous day. The stadium and the usual bustling boulevards that surround it were deserted as police urged people to stay indoors. The cricket test between New Zealand and Bangladesh was canceled.

On Friday afternoon, a gunman dressed in black, military style clothing opened fire on worshippers gathered for afternoon prayers at the Al Noor Mosque, only a 10-minute walk from the stadium.

A bus carrying members of the Bangladesh cricket team had just driven into a street near the mosque when the shooting started. Players and team support staff had planned to pray at the mosque before continuing to the ground to join teammates and coaching staff.

Players sheltered aboard the bus as shots rang out. The shootings, at two mosques, killed 49 people.

After a terrifying wait, described in vivid Twitter posts, players were able to leave the bus and walk through Hagley Park to Hagley Oval where, deeply shaken, they waited in their locker room until police allowed them to return to their hotel.

The team's performance analyst, Shrinivas Chandrasekeran, posted on Twitter "Just escaped active shooters. Heartbeats pumping badly and panic everywhere."

Mohammad Isam, a journalist from ESPNCricinfo, filmed the players as they made their way from the bus to the ground. They were told not to run but walk briskly and they did so, tension and distress evident in haunted looks.

Three hours after the shooting, New Zealand Cricket, in consultation with the Bangladesh Cricket Board and International Cricket Council, announced the five-day match had been canceled.

In cricket, the cancellation of a test match for reasons other than the weather is a rare event. In 2002 a scheduled test between Pakistan and New Zealand in Karachi was canceled after a terrorist bombing close to the visitors' team hotel.

In announcing the cancellation, New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White made clear that the events of Friday had forever changed the way in which the country approaches the security of sporting teams. Small and isolated, New Zealand has often considered itself immune from wider world events such as terrorist violence.

"This is shocking. This will change the entire fabric of international sports hosting," White said. "I think everything changes now. We'll certainly be having to look at our security in depth. I think the idea of New Zealand being a safe haven is gone now."

New Zealand cricketer Jimmy Neesham expressed a similar sense of shock and loss.

"For so long I've watched world events from afar and naively thought we were somehow different in our little corner of the world, somehow safe," Neesham said in a social media post. "Today is a terrible day. Disgusted and saddened doesn't begin to describe it."

The Bangladesh team was due to leave New Zealand at noon Saturday. Isam, who spent most of Friday afternoon and evening with the players, said they had no thoughts of playing cricket and wished only to return to their homes.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board issued a statement saying it was shocked and deeply saddened by the shootings.

"Our heartfelt sympathies to the families of the victims and our thoughts are with them at this time of grave tragedy," the statement said. "The board thanks New Zealand Cricket (NZC) for ensuring that members of the Bangladesh national cricket team are safe and secure in Christchurch."

The Bangladesh Cricket Board said it expected the team to arrive late Saturday in Dhaka.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli vs. Sachin Tendulkar: Ravi Shastri reveals his thoughts on best batsman debate

Staff Writer Updated: 15 March, 2019, 11:48 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Virat Kohli is often compared to Sachin Tendulkar. There are many who think Sachin is truly the greatest batsman in the history of the game while others have rated Virat as the number one.

In an exclusive interview to Mirror Now's Faye D'Souza, Indian cricket team coach Ravi Shastri gave his opinion on the comparison between the two players.

He went on to praise Sir Donald Bradman and Garry Sobers. The former Indian all-rounder further added that comparing players of different generations is not right.

"I have always believed I do not compare leaders. You know.. If there is one man who stands out literally because of sheer performances and averages is Sir Donald Bradman, you know because he was so far ahead of his generation at that time but you cannot compare generations, you know.. Sobers in his time was the best cricketer in the world but there are lot of similarities between the two.. I mean the work ethics, the sacrifice, you know the wanting to dominate when you are out there in the middle, you know just the pursuit for excellence.. you know.. the sacrifices they make is the determination."

Shastri stated that Sachin and Virat are pretty similar as the former scored runs across the globe and the latter is doing the same at the moment.

"Kohli and Tendulkar very very similar and Sachin got runs everywhere you know and so is Virat now and the thing with both of them they are huge role models for the kids.. huge," said Shastri. "So, when you have a level of performance that high, you are obviously going to be compared but then like I said it's each one to its generation."

News Cricket

Watch - Ziva Dhoni wishes Chennai Super Kings in the best possible way

Staff Writer Updated: 15 March, 2019, 11:43 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The upcoming edition of the IPL promises to be exciting and entertaining with eight franchises gearing up to battle for the coveted title. Fans have started their preparations too in order to set the tempo for their respective teams. Ziva Dhoni has wished Chennai Super Kings in the best possible way.

She starts off by saying the name of the franchise and then blow a kiss on camera to announce her support for the yellow brigade. This is not the first time she has declared her loyalty for the Chennai based franchise.

Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers will take on each other in the tournament opener on March 23. While Chennai have won the title thrice, Virat-led RCB are still waiting to land their maiden IPL trophy.

Feature Cricket

IPL 2019 Preview: Consistent Chennai Super Kings start favourite

CT Contributors Updated: 15 March, 2019, 6:46 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 season starts from March 23 onwards and there is plenty of excitement building with each passing day. Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore face-off in the opener in Chennai. Defending champions CSK go into the tourney as the favourites to win the 12th edition. Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians will also be strong candidates to have their hands on the trophy.

The schedule has been revealed for the first two weeks and one expects the complete lost to come out in the coming days. Matches will be held at 8:00 PM and on double-header days, it will be be held at the normal 4:00 PM slot. The IPL 2019 Auction was held in December 2018 and the focus for several teams was to get in more uncapped players. Prior to that, we had the IPL Trade Window and majority of players were retained by the eight franchises.

The main focus of this IPL was in relation to the return of David Warner and Steve Smith. Both players will see their 12-month ban come to an end on March 29 and they will feature post that. They missed IPL 11 after the BCCI followed the sanction imposed by Cricket Australia last year. Warner and Smith are returning from elbow injuries.

Certain players were traded and many others were released. CSK look like the most complete team at the moment and they are exactly the same like last season. Mohit Sharma was a key player added in the auction and his experience will give skipper MS Dhoni the platform to build upon. CSK look complete and set to continue from where they left off.

Sunrisers Hyderabad are strong contenders and the return of Warner gives them a major boost. Warner may not be available for the entire season if he gets selected in the World Cup squad for Australia. But SRH have quality on offer across departments. Kolkata Knight Riders will depend in their young force to have a say. The freedom they will be handed is a positive sign for the eastern giants. Dinesh Karthik's side invested huge money on Carlos Brathwaite and he adds more power in the all-round base.

Mumbai Indians have a strong pace-bowling unit and there is plenty of options to choose from. They would want to start well. All eyes will be on Yuvraj Singh, who was offered a contract by the side. Delhi Capitals have plenty of excitement surrounding them. From a new name, jersey and some strong players in the mix, Shreyas Iyer's side can be the dark horses this season.

Kings XI Punjab went for an overhaul once again and one still feels many things are lacking in this side. It will take a monumental effort for R Ashwin to rally his troops. Rajasthan Royals will hope that Smith gives that solidity. They will miss the big players from England and Australia, when they leave for World Cup preparations. Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore identified several shortcomings and worked out in the window. They have plenty to offer this term after disappointments in the last two years.

Opinion Cricket

Is Team India ready for the World Cup after sorry show against Australia?

CT Contributors Updated: 15 March, 2019, 6:37 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Team India has played some breathtaking cricket in the last few years when it comes to the 50-over format. Virat Kohli has led the side well and the team responded post the debacle in the finale of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. India have continuously won ODI series both at home and away. Only one major ODI series defeat came in between which was versus England in 2018. And now the side was beaten comfortably by Australia at home.

The 2-3 loss against the Aussies will serve as an alarm bell ahead of the ICC World Cup 2019. This was a series where India wanted to look at the squad and see the balance they get. But there are many questions that have come forward rather than solutions. India are ready for the World Cup in England and Wales, there is no doubt about that. But there is a chunk in the armour especially in the middle order.

The back-up players on the bench is another problem which could haunt the side in the World Cup. India allowed Aussies to make a comeback after going up 2-0. The common issue for India was the failure of the middle order. Ambati Rayudu flopped in three consecutive matches. Rishabh Pant, who was given a chance to show his mettle for the final two ODIs, also failed to take any charge. In the fifth ODI, his 16-run knock was forgettable as India failed to chase down 273 in Delhi.

Pant has shown that he isn't ready yet for the biggest stage. His keeping skills were poor and there is no plan in his batting. The selectors may now be prompted to drop the player altogether from their plans and rope in Dinesh Karthik instead. Karthik was unfortunately dropped for the series as the management wanted to try out Pant. Rayudu on the other hand lacks the consistency. He has been backed for a long time and the string of strong shows are missing.

Rayudu cannot be trusted at this moment. But he will still get the nod for the World Cup. So what if he fails in the first few matches? India will need to reshuffle their batting and perhaps get in someone like DK in and promote MS Dhoni at number four. Hardik Pandya will be the natural number seven and his presence will be massive as an all-rounder. But what about Vijay Shankar? He cannot give you ten overs consistently. Also the back-up all-rounder isn't a finished product and his immaturity was highlighted in the final ODI.

Shankar impressed prior to that by margins of decent displays, but there are question marks. Ravindra Jadeja's failure with the bat means he will be overlooked. India are over dependent on the top order as highlighted once again. Their middle order holes could be the Achilles' Heel in the World Cup. That could be their undoing. Virat Kohli and his side need to be mentally strong and make sure the middle order pulls up its socks.

Feature Cricket

The Skipper’s Cautious U-Turn

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 15 March, 2019, 6:28 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

A couple of months ago, there was an air of promise that things on the Indian landscape would change. The captain, relatively successful at the franchisee level in comparison to his outstanding successes at the international level, revealed that he had intentions to make sure the Indian Premier League would not take precedence over the ICC Cricket World Cup. Is he now backtracking as his words now appear to suggest?

The tour of England was unexpectedly underwhelming. Under pressure, Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, and Ravi Shastri, the Indian coach, found themselves facing a barrage of criticism after the team returned empty handed where they were expected to change the course of history. The think tank was as much under pressure to come up with answers as to finding proactive solutions for the better preparation of teams in the future.

The tour of Australia proved to be face saving in that India finally lived up to the promise they took with them to South Africa almost an entire year back. However, even in the midst of euphoria, there was another reason to cheer. Nothing inspires position action like success. It seemed the Indian skipper was finally taking cognizance of the need to strike balance between formats and tournaments and coming from a versatile player such as himself, it was expected to speak volumes as he hit a resounding note about setting priorities and team goals, Test cricket being one of them.

The Indian skipper mentioned that the Indian cricketers slated to make the squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup would be monitored and their workload managed and limited in the course of the Twenty20 commercial extravaganza staged every summer by the BCCI, namely, the IPL. Even as other cricket boards around the world have already set deadlines and dates of when their players would have to leave their respective IPL franchisees and return home for conditioning camps and training in light of the ICC Cricket World Cup that begins just days after the conclusion of the IPL, there is yet to be an official word on how the BCCI plans to approach the issue of a packed IPL season and the preparation of the Indian cricket squad for the England assignment.

More recently, passionate and energetic were the two words the Indian captain used to describe why Australia were able to hand India their first home series defeat in one day internationals since 2015 just after their debacle down under. Although India did return from down under, having successfully mounted a challenge and overcome it, the skipper himself must question why the team, which should have been on a high and in rhythm, fell short of those two key qualities he himself mentioned.

It should have perhaps set a little bit of a flutter enough to call for some decisive statements, if not action, towards approaching the IPL which is now only days away. However, in what seemed like a u-turn, the skipper put the onus back on the individual cricketers stating that they were each responsible for gearing themselves for the ICC Cricket World Cup and managing their workload in the course of the carnival and caravan that is the hectic IPL season.

Given the skipper’s proactive statements earlier, it was expected that there would be more innovative decision making that would restrict IPL exposure time for the World Cup candidates and also, have a more appropriate conditioning and training time for the team given that India will, despite their topsy-turvy results, arrive as one of the favourites to lift the cup. Given India’s past history at multi team events following the IPL, one would have thought a more cautious, deliberate approach would have been outlined. But for the moment, a dangerous status quo prevails.

News Cricket

Virender Sehwag declines BJP’s offer to contest polls

CT Contributors Updated: 15 March, 2019, 6:00 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Virender Sehwag, the former Indian opener, was offered a ticket by the BJP for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections but he has refused to accept the offer citing personal reasons, a top BJP leader said.

He, however, said that Gautam Gambhir is seriously thinking about making his entry into politics and may contest from Delhi.

The ruling party was ready to offer West Delhi seat to Sehwag, which is currently held by BJP MP Parvesh Verma but he is not ready to join politics.

He said, "Sehwag said he was not interested in politics or contesting elections."

Earlier, there were reports that he might contest on BJP ticket from Rohtak in Haryana. But Sehwag had categorically denied such rumors. "Some things never change, like this rumour. Same in 2014, and no innovation even in Rumour in 2019. Not interested then, not interested now. #BaatKhatam #5YearChallenge (sic)."

News Cricket

Yuvraj Singh trolls himself hilariously after joining Mumbai Indians camp

Staff Writer Updated: 15 March, 2019, 5:58 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Mumbai Indians will be looking to lift their fourth IPL trophy during the upcoming season. They did a decent business in the auction, roping in Yuvraj Singh and Lasith Malinga. Malinga has played for the same franchise in the past, while Yuvraj will be making his debut for the team.

He is expected to deliver for his new contingent after showing class in the preparatory camp. The veteran looked in a relaxed mood during net practice session.

Yuvraj Singh trolled himself after Mumbai Indians posted a video of him on their official Twitter handle, which read ‘Aur phir aaye Yuvraj Singh…Dhaaga khol diye’.

The 37-year-old, replying to the Mumbai Indians, tweeted, "Bhai sahab thoda tez chalo". In the video, he can be seen walking out for a practice session at slow pace.

He was a part of the Kings XI Punjab in 2018 but was released by the franchise following his woeful form with the bat. Yuvraj played eight matches for them, scoring only 65 runs.

News Cricket

After Warner, Bhuvneshwar has a special message for Sunrisers Hyderabad fans

Staff Writer Updated: 15 March, 2019, 5:56 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Sunrisers Hyderabad have started their preparations for the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League. They are reaching out to the fans through messages from cricketers.

After David Warner's message, Indian pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has touch base with fans of Sunrisers Hyderabad. In a video posted by the Hyderabad outfit, he said, "Hi guys, this is Bhuvneshwar Kumar, only few days left for our first home game and we're sure you don't want to miss all the action."

He further stated that the first 25,000 tickets for SRH's first home game are available for Rs. 500 and it can be booked from their official website.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar was in decent form in the recently concluded ODI series between India and Australia. He won the IPL title with Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2016. The pacer had picked 23 wickets during that season at an average of 21.30.

He will be the key in the bowling department for his IPL franchise. Sunrisers will travel to Kolkata to play their first match of 2019 campaign on March 24.

News Cricket

IPL 2019: Shane Warne names the winner and Player of the Tournament

Staff Writer Updated: 15 March, 2019, 5:52 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Brand ambassador of Rajasthan Royals, Shane Warne has predicted that Sanju Samson will become the Indian Premier League player of the tournament in the upcoming season. He took to Instagram to reveal the name of favorites for the IPL title.

“Great to be back in Mumbai & in the pink for the @rajasthanroyals as brand ambassador. Exciting times as there is only 2 weeks to go till our 1st game. I believe with the squad the boys have put together – we are favorites to win the #IPL this year – so get on the boys in pink ! Plus I also think that @imsanjusamson will be the player of the tournament ! Agree followers,” he wrote.

After winning the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League, Rajasthan Royals haven't been able to replicate the success. However, they have a good team this year with likes of Sanju Samson, Ajinkya Rahane, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Steve Smith ready to lead them to glory.

News Cricket

Cricket fraternity reacts to New Zealand mosque attacks

Staff Writer Updated: 15 March, 2019, 5:49 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

At least 49 people were killed in the shootings at two mosques and more than 20 people were wounded. An international cricket match between New Zealand and Bangladesh has been canceled after players from the visiting team narrowly avoided a mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch on Friday.

The Bangladesh players came within minutes of being inside one of the mosques when a gunman opened fire with an automatic rifle.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White later there had been a "joint decision" to call off the third test, which had been scheduled to start Saturday in Christchurch.

"On behalf of New Zealand Cricket heartfelt condolences to those affected," White said. "I've spoken to my counterpart at Bangladesh cricket — we agree it's inappropriate to play cricket at this time. Both teams are deeply affected.

"We are shocked and appalled ... and we are offering support to all those within the teams affected by the situation and are continuing to take advice from authorities."

Earlier, members of the Bangladesh cricket team described on social media how they narrowly avoided the mosque shooting on New Zealand's South Island.

Players and members of the team's coaching staff were reportedly on their bus, approaching the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Hagley Park when the shooting started.

Cricketers from around the world have condemned this barbaric attack on innocent souls.

News Cricket

Duminy to retire from ODIs after World Cup

CT Contributors Updated: 15 March, 2019, 5:45 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

JP Duminy has announced that he will retire from ODIs after the World Cup in England and Wales. The all-round star has played 193 ODIs for South Africa, amassing 5047 runs at an average of 37.39 and 68 wickets at an average of 45.08.

He has already retired from Tests and first class cricket. He, however, will continue playing T20 internationals. Duminy has represented his country in the last two World Cups.

"The last few months on the sidelines have given me an opportunity to re-assess my career going forward and to plot some goals I'd like to achieve in the future," Duminy said in a statement.

"While a decision like this is never easy, I also feel that it is the right time for me to pass on the baton. I will still be available to play international and domestic T20 cricket, but would also like to invest more time towards my growing family, who are my number one priority," the statement added.

"I have been privileged to live out my dream playing a sport I love, and I am forever grateful for the support I have received from my teammates, coaches, family, friends, and fans throughout the years," it further said.

Duminy is part of the squad which is playing against Sri Lanka in the ongoing ODI series. He will play his final ODI on his home soil when the two teams lock horns in the fifth ODI of the series on Saturday.

News Cricket

Anil Kumble unhappy with Kohli-Shastri’s changing and chopping policy in ODIs

CT Contributors Updated: 15 March, 2019, 5:42 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former India skipper and head coach Anil Kumble has questioned Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri's chopping and changing policy in the ODIs. He also stated that MS Dhoni should bat at number 4 in the World Cup.

“If you look back at the last couple of years of success that the Indian team has had, it has been mainly due to the fact that the top three have performed consistently, and it still remains so. In a 50-over game, you want your top three to contribute. For me, I still believe MS Dhoni should bat at 4. (Numbers) 5, 6 and 7 is something that you need to start thinking about and that’s where I felt that there was too much chopping, changing and trying to figure out who will fit in into that 4, 5 or 6 in that middle order other than MS Dhoni. That to me has made it a little more unsettling for us, watching from outside,” Kumble told Cricket Next.

“What if the top three don’t fire in an important game, say a semi-final or a final? Then you need the back-ups to stand up and do it and that’s where I believe that the middle order hasn’t been given enough opportunities leading up to the World Cup and haven’t been consistent with the players that have been selected in that middle order.

So, I’d like to probably continue that and like I said, for me the top four will win you 70-80% of matches and ideally your top four need to have that quality and that’s why I’m keen that someone like MS Dhoni bats at four and manages the middle order, rather than coming in where he has to not just manage the middle order but also keep up with the run chase, that’s something I would want to see,” said Kumble.

Kumble further added that players haven't been enough opportunities to prove themselves in the middle order.