Proud papa: Balotelli scores as daughter watches in Napoli

AP Updated: 30 September, 2019, 10:51 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Playing before friends and family members may be the biggest inspiration for Mario Balotelli at this point in his nomadic and controversy-filled career.

Having signed with Brescia after three years away from the Italian league, Balotelli plays his home matches a stone's throw from the house that he grew up in.

And on Sunday, Balotelli carried Pia, his six-year-old daughter, onto the field with him before Brescia's match at Napoli as the players lined up for the Serie A anthem.

His daughter lives in Naples with her Neapolitan mother and was wearing a Napoli uniform.

The hosts took a 2-0 lead through Dries Mertens and Kostas Manolas before the break but Balotelli took advantage of his imposing physique to head in from a corner midway through the second half and make it interesting right until the end of Napoli's 2-1 win.

"Mario is a player that you all know," Brescia coach Eugenio Corini said. "He arrived with a lot of motivation and he really seems to be bonding with the squad. He's a great player and I'll always expect something extra from him."

Balotelli missed the opening four matches of the season due to a four-match ban carried over from when he was at Marseille in the French league. He came close to scoring in his Brescia debut, a loss to Juventus on Tuesday.

Bouncing back from a highly disappointing midweek loss to Cagliari, fourth-place Napoli moved within one point of third-place Atalanta.

"We cannot concede a goal that way and always make it complicated for ourselves," Mertens said.

Both sides also had goals disallowed by VAR.

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News Cricket

Sri Lanka coach hopeful series against Pakistan goes ahead

AP Updated: 30 September, 2019, 10:42 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Sri Lanka coach Rumesh Ratnayake hopes there won't be any rain over the next three days in the southern Pakistani port city hosting a rare visit by a foreign team to allow their ODI series to go ahead.

Unseasonal rain in Karachi washed out the first ODI on Friday and that forced the Pakistan Cricket Board to reschedule the second ODI for Monday instead of Sunday. The third and final match will also be played at the same venue on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka had just two training sessions since they arrived in Pakistan last Tuesday where they will also play three Twenty20s in Lahore between Oct. 5-9.

"Even before we came here the preparations were hampered by rain (in Sri Lanka), it seems as if it's raining in the whole world," said Ratnayake, who has played 23 test matches and 70 ODIs for Sri Lanka.

"The prep hasn't all been that good but that's not going to be an excuse which I will give because they are all professional players," he added.

Ten of Sri Lanka's top players refused to travel to Pakistan for the limited-overs series due to security concerns despite the Pakistan government providing the team with high level security normally reserved for heads of state.

"Even though 10 players aren't here, the people who have taken their place are aware that they are challenged to do well, it's for their future also, so hope there won't be any rain," Ratnayake said.

Pakistan is due to host Sri Lanka in December for two test matches as part of the World Test Championship and Ratnayke said he hopes the present series goes some way to addressing players' concerns.

"This will just be a pre-cursor for that tour," Ratnayake said. "I'm sure this will certainly encourage others to take decisions, we can't enforce it on them.

"They have taken a decision and we have to respect that, but certainly if things go well, this is a huge thing for the future, not only for them but for all other countries to be here."

The coach said it's not difficult for him to keep his players motivated despite the fact that they will be up against a strong Pakistan team.

Karachi hasn't hosted an ODI in 10 years since Sri Lanka last played here in 2009.

It is the first time since Sri Lanka's team bus was attacked in Lahore in 2009 that a foreign team will conduct a two-week tour of Pakistan.

Major teams have avoided the country since that ambush, which killed eight people and injured several players.

News Cricket

Make Rohit Sharma India's T20I captain: Yuvraj Singh

Staff Writer Updated: 28 September, 2019, 4:45 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Indian cricketer, Yuvraj Singh has been in the headlines after his explosive interview where he revealed quite a few things and took everyone on, in his own style. India's 2007 and 2011 World Cup winner is of the opinion that in order to manage Virat Kohli's workload, India can try Rohit Sharma as captain in T20Is given his fairly successful track record in the shortest format.

"Earlier there were only two formats so it was easy for a captain to manage. Now there are 3 formats, If the load on Virat is more than maybe they should try somebody else for the shorter formats. Rohit has been very successful," Yuvraj Singh told AajTak.

He added, "I don't really know. They have to decide how much workload Virat can take. Do they need to try somebody else for T20? It completely depends on how they want to go for the future. Virat has been the best batsman. How to manage his workload? It is completely team management's call."

Yuvraj Singh also asked for giving time to Rohit Sharma in Test cricket if India wants to get the best out of him. Yuvraj also said that Rohit should have been opening in Test cricket right from the word go.

"If you ask me, Rohit Sharma should have opened in Tests from the beginning of his career. You play him one match and then drop him and say Rohit Sharma is not scoring runs in Test cricket. How can you expect someone to perform without giving him 10 Test?" Yuvraj Singh said.

"Now if you are making Rohit Sharma open in Tests, you should give him 6 Tests and tell him Rohit, you have got 10-12 innings, go and play your game, nobody will say anything. You gave so many chances to KL Rahul, so whoever is your opener, give him those 6 Test matches so that he can go and express his game," he concluded.

News Cricket

"You can’t ask me who plays in the eleven because everyone is part of us: Shastri on Ashwin's axing

Staff Writer Updated: 28 September, 2019, 4:28 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Ravichandran Ashwin's axing from India's playing XI in the two-match Test series against West Indies was not taken well by many people. India went ahead with all-rounder, Ravindra Jadeja instead of Ravichandran Ashwin or Kuldeep Yadav. Indian head coach, Ravi Shastri refused to explain the rationale behind the decision.

On being asked about the decision, he was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times, "Those are tactical things, which I can’t speak to you. You saw in the West Indies what happened, and now you will see the results. You can’t ask me who plays in the eleven because everyone is part of us."

After Kuldeep Yadav scalped a fifer in the fourth and final Test match against Australia in Sydney, earlier, this year, Shastri had declared him as India's no.1 choice overseas Test spinner but now he has said in one years time, we will get to know about the spin spearhead

Shastri, who got a 20 percent pay hike recently said, "The three-Test series will start, (and) you will get a chance to make your own judgement. He is world class, we got Ravindra Jadeja who is world class, we got Kuldeep Yadav who will be world class in due course, he is still young. You guys decide, in a year’s time copy the same question."

News Cricket

Amit Shah resigns from the post of Gujarat Cricket Association President

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

HIGHLIGHT

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

HIGHLIGHT

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

HIGHLIGHT

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

HIGHLIGHT

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

HIGHLIGHT

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

HIGHLIGHT

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

HIGHLIGHT

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

HIGHLIGHT

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

HIGHLIGHT

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

HIGHLIGHT

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.

Feature Cricket

Must Play Shubman Gill against South Africa?

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

HIGHLIGHT

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.