News Cricket

Pulwama Attack: After "ill-timed" post, Virat Kohli finally pours in heartfelt condolences

Harshit Anand Updated: 15 February, 2019, 12:45 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

The entire nation is grieving over the loss of lives of our brave hearts in the Pulwama terror attack, in which at least 42 CPRF jawans have been martyred. The death toll is still rising. The dastardly attack took place yesterday when terrorists targeted a convoy with a car bomb at Awantipora in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district. They were carrying more than 350 kg of explosives.

Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack. It is one of the worst terror attacks in the history of Jammu and Kashmir.

Indian skipper Virat Kohli was slammed on social media yesterday after he put a promotional tweet, which was considered 'ill-timed' by people at large.

Kohli, however, corrected his mistake today and sent heartfelt condolences to the martyred soldiers and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured. The 30 years old tweeted, "I'm shocked after hearing about the attack in Pulwama, heartfelt condolences to the martyred soldiers & prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured jawaans."

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Feature Cricket

5 times MS Dhoni showed that he is a real gentleman, who puts country first

Staff Writer Updated: 15 February, 2019, 11:16 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

MS Dhoni is perhaps one of the greatest Indian cricketers to have graced the field. A born leader and a winner, the veteran cricketer doesn't need new introduction. Dhoni has been one of the most celebrated cricketers in terms of both individual and team achievements. A winner of all the ICC Trophies as a skipper earlier, Dhoni continues to be an integral part of the Indian cricket team in the white-ball format. He is set to be seen in the ICC World Cup 2019 next.

Dhoni is supreme both as a cricketer and a person. He is respectable all across the cricket fraternity. His gentleman attitude and calm persona has rubbed off well among the others. A person that has been honored with many prestigious awards, Dhoni deserves a shout for all that he has achieved in his life. We all know how Dhoni made it to cricket going through all the struggles. His mentality and effort makes him stand out. Dhoni has been someone who has always been a team player and that made him a successful leader.

He helped India win the ICC World Cup 2011 and played a massive role in the finale. Besides this, he also guided India to the World T20 title in 2007 and the Champions Trophy in 2013. Winning has never been the sole motto of Dhoni's life. He has been a bigger personality than just that. He isn't someone that always wanted the trophies and the glamour. The way he conducted himself off the field highlighted his simplicity and vision as a person. He has always put his country first and led the side well.

Here we look at instances where Dhoni did things solely for the nation first.

1) The player once stated that, "You don't play for the crowd, you play for the country." That statement has been a true one and it reflects in the manner in which he carries himself. Last year he was booed in England by the fans, but Dhoni never brought all these into considerations and kept focusing on his game.

2) He once said in an interview that, his wife comes third after the nation and his parents. It isn't just that he loves his wife less, but he knows what's in the priority list for him.

3) In 2015, Dhoni's wife Sakshi gave birth to their first child. Dhoni chose not to fly back home, but he rather stayed with the Indian team in Australia to prepare for the World Cup. He had clearly said that everything else can wait as he is on national duty.

4) Fans must notice that several batsmen have flags on their helmets. But not Dhoni. Since he is the wicket-keeper, he has to keep his helmet on the ground while being behind the stumps. He doesn't want the flag to touch the grass.

5) Last year he was awarded the Padma Bhushan and he received the same wearing a uniform. He later took to Instagram and said, “An honor to get the Padma Bhushan and receiving it in Uniform increases the excitement ten folds. Thanks to all the Men and Women in Uniform and their families for the Sacrifices they make so that all of us could enjoy our Constitutional Rights. Jai Hind.”

Feature Cricket

Rishabh Pant: The most talked about young cricketer

Partab Ramchand Updated: 15 February, 2019, 11:13 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Suddenly Rishabh Pant is the most talked about young cricketer in the land and why not? He has endeared himself to all being a confident youngster who knows his way about, as a perky wicketkeeper whose incessant chatting may make the purist wince but is very much a part of today’s game. Most important his batting is refreshingly bold and vigorous. Even in the days of the T-20 game his brand of cricket stands out as he looks to get runs off every ball, either through a big hit or a quick single. Moreover he applies the same approach in Test cricket too as a strike rate of almost 74 will testify. Two centuries in cricket’s traditional format from nine matches underscores that he can play a big innings, only he doesn’t too long in compiling them. His game is of course tailor made for the shorter versions as his showing in 13 T-20s and three ODIs has confirmed.

It is taken for granted that the 21-year-old Pant is going to be a member of the World Cup squad despite the presence of MS Dhoni and probably another wicket keeper batsman in Dinesh Karthik. Of course with Dhoni around Pant’s role will be that of a specialist batsman and there is every reason to believe that he will be a success. For one thing he has already performed admirably in England last year including getting his first Test hundred. Secondly at the moment he can do no wrong and everything is coming up roses for him including equaling the world record for most dismissals in a Test – 11 against Australia at Adelaide a couple of months ago.

Not unexpectedly he has been the subject of much praise and the latest to become a Pant fan is Shane Warne. The spin legend has backed Pant not only to play as a specialist batsman in the World Cup but also feels that he could open the innings along with Rohit Sharma. ``I know Shikhar Dhawan does a great job but Pant opening the batting with Rohit could be pretty cool too for India. Go with some of these X-factor type things and tactical battles where you can surprise the opposition.’’ Warne also suggested that it would be worth trying out Pant at the top of the order for a couple of games to see how things work out and perhaps this experiment could be done against Australia.

The five ODIs and the two T-20s against Australia will be the last chance for India to try out any experiments before the World Cup and one is sure that the selectors and the team management will make use of the series to fit in the few missing pieces in the jigsaw puzzle and have a settled team for the mega event. Pant at the top of the order could be one of these experiments worth trying out.

News Football

United says Mourinho firing cost $25M, revived by Solskjaer

AP Updated: 15 February, 2019, 11:08 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The firing of Jose Mourinho cost Manchester United 19.6 million pounds ($25 million) in payoffs. The club already sees it as money well spent.

The compensation for dismissing Mourinho and his coaches was disclosed Thursday by United among "exceptional items" in the latest set of financial results, which showed record revenue.

According to a person with knowledge of the finances, Mourinho received about 15 million pounds ($19 million) to pay off the remaining 1½ years on his contract. The rest went to the six coaches. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the details of the club's salaries were confidential.

Highlighting the difficulty of replacing Alex Ferguson, United has now spent 33.2 million pounds dismissing the three managers hired since he retired in 2013 after 26 trophy-laden years in charge.

When Mourinho was fired in December, United was sixth in the Premier League. Former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was brought back to Old Trafford as temporary manager and he has lifted the team back into fourth — a Champions League qualification spot.

The appointment of Solskjaer and assistant manager Mike Phelan, who worked under Ferguson at United, "has had a positive impact throughout the club," vice chairman Ed Woodward said.

"We are delighted with the improvement in the team's performances since December and we look forward to a strong finish to the (20)18-19 season."

Solskjaer only has a contract until the end of the season and is on a loan agreement with Norwegian club Molde but hopes to stay. Woodward told investors on a conference call that Solskjaer "revived" the team by opening his reign with a club-record eight straight wins and won the Premier League's manager of the month award.

Solskjaer is the first United manager to collect the accolade since Ferguson retired after winning 13 Premier League titles and the Champions League twice.

David Moyes lasted 10 months as Ferguson's successor before being fired along with his coaches at a cost of 5.2 million pounds in 2014.

Despite Louis van Gaal winning the first major trophy of the post-Ferguson era — the 2016 FA Cup — he was fired after two years primarily for failing to qualify for the lucrative Champions League. The payoffs to Van Gaal and his coaches reached 8.4 million pounds.

Mourinho, who replaced Van Gaal, had a contract through next season, but the risk of missing out on the top four led to his dismissal.

United easily will be able to cover the compensation costs on the strength of its commercial operation.

For the second quarter of the financial year — the three months to Dec. 31 — United reported revenue rising 18 percent to a record 208.6 million pounds. The club is forecasting annual revenue to be between 615 million pounds and 630 million pounds.

Because of investment in the squad, salaries rose 12 percent year-on-year to 77.9 million pounds for the quarter.

News Football

Madrid's Bale faces possible 12-match ban for celebration

AP Updated: 15 February, 2019, 11:05 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Gareth Bale could face a suspension of up to 12 matches because of a gesture he made toward fans during Real Madrid's 3-1 derby win at Atletico Madrid.

The 29-year-old Bale has been reported by La Liga to the Spanish Football Federation over his celebration after scoring Real Madrid's third goal.

A statement on La Liga's official website says Bale "moves his right arm up towards his head in a signal of provocation towards the fans, creating a possibly obscene gesture by moving his other arm and striking halfway up his right arm."

That gesture is considered offensive in Spain.

The statement says Bale could be suspended for four to 12 matches if he is deemed to have intentionally provoked the crowd. However, it could also be a shorter suspension — or no ban at all if his celebration is not deemed to be provocative.

The goal was Bale's 100th for Real Madrid. He joined the Spanish club from Tottenham in 2013.

News Football

UEFA investigates Ramos over possibly intentional booking

AP Updated: 15 February, 2019, 11:02 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

UEFA is investigating reported comments by Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos that he intentionally got a yellow card to provoke a favorable Champions League ban.

Ramos risks an additional one-game sanction — for a quarterfinals first-leg game — if UEFA decides his 90th-minute foul in a 2-1 win at Ajax on Wednesday was deliberately seeking a yellow card.

UEFA says "a disciplinary investigation has been initiated."

UEFA can impose an extra punishment on players who seek to control the timing of a one-game ban for accumulation of yellow cards to ensure it is served in a less important game.

After Madrid scored an 87th-minute winner in the round of 16 first-leg game, Ramos made a hard tackle on Ajax's Kasper Dolberg.

His third yellow card of the competition triggers a ban for the second leg where defending champion Madrid is heavily favored to advance. Ramos would then be eligible for the quarterfinals with a clean disciplinary record.

Ramos reportedly acknowledged his intentions in a post-game interview, then retracted it in a post on Twitter .

UEFA introduced the disciplinary rule after previous incidents involving Madrid players, including Ramos, and used it to suspend Dani Carvajal for both legs of the round of 16 last season.

News Football

Inter drops Icardi as captain, Icardi pulls out of match

AP Updated: 15 February, 2019, 10:59 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Inter Milan pulled the captaincy from Mauro Icardi, and Mauro Icardi responded by pulling himself out of Inter Milan's next match.

The dispute highlights the tense contract talks that have been going on between the 25-year-old Argentine player and the Italian club.

Icardi's contract expires in 2021, and his agent-wife Wanda Nara has been particularly outspoken over the past month in defense of her husband. On Wednesday, amid a seven-match goal drought for Argentina forward, Inter announced that it was stripping the captain's armband from Icardi and giving it to goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

"It was a difficult and painful decision, we all know his worth," Inter coach Luciano Spalletti said. "We made it together with all of the components of the club and it was done exclusively for the good of Inter and of the team. There are some things concerning the player that had to be worked out.

"He was disappointed, he was upset. It was difficult to tell him ... These things embarrass the team, of which he was captain, and the club."

Icardi reacted to the decision by telling the club he could not play at Rapid Vienna in the Europa League. He did not travel to Austria with the rest of the squad.

Instead, Icardi was at the club's training ground in Appiano Gentile, just outside Milan, along with other non-traveling players.

"Mauro was included for the trip to Vienna but didn't want to be here. After lunch he told us that he didn't feel up to coming here with us," Spalletti said. "Obviously we're upset but there are things around that are disturbing him and the team. Now we have to just think about the match."

News Football

 Arsenal stunned by Borisov in Europa League, Chelsea wins

AP Updated: 15 February, 2019, 10:55 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Arsenal slumped to a 1-0 defeat at BATE Borisov in the first leg of the Europa League's round of 32 on Thursday, while crosstown rival Chelsea shook off its recent struggles with a 2-1 win at Malmo.

Alexandre Lacazette's late sending off completed an evening to forget for Arsenal in Belarus. The French forward was shown a straight red card in the 85th minute for lashing back in frustration at Aleksandar Filipovic with his elbow, catching the Serbian defender in the face. Lacazette will miss the second leg in London on Feb. 21.

Arsenal dominated possession but was stunned just before the break when Stanislav Dragun got his head to Borisov captain Igor Stasevich's dangerous free kick. Dragun sent the ball looping over the helpless Petr Cech and inside the far post.

It was Borisov's first goal in four Europa League knockout ties.

Arsenal had started well but failed to make the most of early chances. Lacazette headed over from close range, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan missed another good opportunity.

SARRI NOT SORRY

After watching his side crumble in a 6-0 defeat at Premier League rival Manchester City on Sunday, Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri was looking for a response in Malmo.

Ross Barkley got the visitors on their way on the half-hour mark after a fine cross from Pedro, and Olivier Giroud sealed it with his heel after some good work from Willian before the hour-mark.

Sarri brought on Eden Hazard for the final 20 minutes but instead it was Anders Christiansen who claimed a late goal for the home side.

Still, after recent setbacks, a win will provide welcome relief for Sarri.

Due to the Swedish league schedule, Malmo hadn't played a competitive fixture since beating Besiktas away on Dec. 13.

News Tennis

Top-seeded Thiem advances at Argentina Open, Ferrer out

AP Updated: 15 February, 2019, 10:51 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Top-seeded defending champion Dominic Thiem of Austria advanced to the Argentina Open quarterfinals, beating Germany's Maximilian Marterer 6-4, 6-4.

Thiem will face Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas, a 6-4, 7-5 winner over Portugal's Joao Sousa.

Fourth-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina beat Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 to set up a match against Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Ramos-Vinolas beat compatriot David Ferrer 3-6, 7-6 (9), 6-3.

Ferrer promised to retire in May at the Madrid Open. The participation in the Buenos Aires tournament is one of the last of the 36-year-old's career.

News Cricket

Dale Steyn climbs all-time list

Staff Writer Updated: 15 February, 2019, 10:19 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Dale Steyn picked up 4-48 to move joint-seventh on the list of all-time wicket-takers as South Africa led Sri Lanka by 170 runs in the first test.

Steyn was the spearhead of South Africa's attack again — as he was so often before a serious shoulder injury in 2016 sidelined him for the best part of two years — and overtook Indian great Kapil Dev in career test wickets.

Steyn was instrumental in bowling Sri Lanka out for 191 to see South Africa hold a 44-run first-innings lead in the series-opener at Kingsmead. The home batsmen increased that advantage to 170 with South Africa 126-4 in its second innings at stumps on the second day of a low-scoring game on a bowler-friendly pitch in Durban.

Aiden Markram (28), Hashim Amla (16), Temba Bavuma (3) and Dean Elgar (35) were all out for South Africa, with left-arm spinner Lasith Ambuldeniya taking 2-36 to add to his one wicket in the first innings on his test debut.

Earlier, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada had two wickets each and Duanne Olivier one in support of Steyn as South Africa's four-man pace attack did the damage in the Sri Lankan first innings.

Steyn, 35 years old but with no imminent plans to retire, started things by removing Lahiru Thirimanne late on Day 1. He had Sri Lanka debutant Oshada Fernando lbw in the third over of the second day and added top-scorer Kusal Perera (51) and tailender Suranga Lakmal to his haul.

That took Steyn to 437 test wickets, past Dev and level with England's Stuart Broad. Broad has played 126 tests. Steyn is playing his 92nd. Ahead of Steyn are just the six bowlers who have taken more than 500 test wickets: Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, Anil Kumble, James Anderson, Glenn McGrath and Courtney Walsh.

Steyn's performance helped South Africa hit back after the home team batted first and was bowled out for 235 by Sri Lanka's inexperienced bowlers.

In Sri Lanka's first innings, Perera resisted Steyn for his fourth test 50 and first since November 2016 but had little help from the rest of the top order. Sri Lanka's last three batsmen added a handy 49 runs to the total.

News Cricket

Ashish Nehra pens down 5 reasons why Rishabh Pant should be in India’s World Cup squad

Staff Writer Updated: 14 February, 2019, 10:26 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Ashish Nehra feels Rishabh Pant should be a part of India's World Cup squad as he is a genuine match winner, power hitter and a back-up opener. The former Indian pacer gave five reasons for the left hand batsman's inclusion in the team.

“In a team, there will always be contributors but at a big event like the World Cup, you need players with X-factor. Rishabh Pant is not a mere contributor but a pure match-winner who should be picked for the World Cup,” Nehra said.

According to him, Men in Blue need a left hand batsman as there aren't many in the team.

“If you look at India’s batting line up, save Shikhar (Dhawan), there aren’t any left-handers in the top seven. You need variety with a left-right combination, where Rishabh perfectly fits,” he reasoned.

The senior statesman stated that Pant can bat at any position between 1 to 7.

“Rishabh can bat at any position between No. 1 to 7 and so Virat (Kohli) and the team management can use him as a floater,” said Nehra.

Nehra is impressed with Pant’s ability to hit effortless sixes.

“If it comes to effortlessly hitting sixes, Rishabh comes second only to Rohit Sharma with his big-hitting ability. India will need that in abundance during the World Cup,” Nehra said.

Nehra felt Pant can win matches single-handedly.

“No disrespect, this team has three clear match-winners and they are Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah. For me, the fourth one is going to be Rishabh Pant. Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav and Dinesh Karthik are all fantastic players but they are all in the same mould. You need X-factor which this boy possesses,” he added.

Nehra further added both Pant and Karthik can represent India in the World Cup.

“As I have already said, Rishabh could also be your third opener, so DK (as Karthik is referred to) could be your middle order batter,” he said.

Nehra said looking at Karthik and Pant as second and third wicketkeepers is wrong.

“I don’t look at it from that perspective. If Rishabh and DK are being picked ahead of specialist batsmen like Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer, then you are looking at them as specialist batsmen.

“So why complicate the thought process. As it is we have the peerless MS Dhoni behind stumps so treat both as specialist batsmen,” he concluded.

News Cricket

Pulwama terror attack: Condemnation, condolences pour in from cricket fraternity

Staff Writer Updated: 14 February, 2019, 9:53 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

More than 40 security personnel have been martyred in a gruesome attack on the covey of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy by terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed. The attack was carried out by a suicide bomber, who rammed an explosive laden car into the vehicle carrying security personnel.

This tragic news of the CRPF jawans being killed has sent a shockwave across the country and condolences for the families of the deceased jawans have poured in from across the country.

The attack was condemned by cricket fraternity, who took to Twitter to send their condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the attack.

VVS Laxman, Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir and Mohammed Kaif were left devastated after hearing the news of terror attack on CRPF convey.

Feature Cricket

Missing the Point Altogether!

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 14 February, 2019, 5:17 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

This is not an uncommon gaffe amongst commentators these days: to err beyond measure, beyond belief even, and then to continue to hold the privilege of the microphone to make sweeping statements about the sport when the fan has traditionally looked for more from the commentators he/she has revered in the past. Even more dangerously, it tends to overshadow the real issue at hand.

The Joe Root versus Shannon Gabriel tiff on the field quickly became Sanjay Manjrekar versus Twitter, overshadowing once more the more crucial aspect of addressing the on-field argument in the first place. And the worst part is that the former Indian cricketer and a quiet opener at that appears to be making calls that would perpetuate such insensitive behaviour on the field.

Shannon Gabriel, the West Indies fast bowler, appeared to have called Joe Root, the England captain, gay judging by the response that came forth from the latter in the course of the third Test in St. Lucia. Root’s response, caught on the stump microphones as the umpires tried to break up the verbal tiff, had Gabriel in hot water even as the match progressed thereafter.

However, in what is increasingly becoming a common scenario amongst commentators who are not appropriately trained for the job but inducted by mere virtue of being former cricketers, there is often a comment or two that does not go unnoticed despite the necessary, almost monotonous drivel that is dished out these days in the name of commentary. While loudness and abrasiveness have replaced knowledge, equanimity and objectivity, there has, also, been a case when the commentator has been exposed only too easily and unfortunately as a sign of falling standards in the sports and not always just limited to the field.

What happened on the field should have been addressed, not the faux pas on the part of the commentators. This is not the first time Manjrekar has made comments that seem out of tune with the sports and with the times. The last time he alluded to mental illnesses and this time he is willing to cover up equally serious issues by suggesting that the solution to the Gabriel-Root argument is to turn off the stump microphones!

How does turning off the stump microphone highlight the issue of players’ sensitivity training to matters of race, age, gender and sexual orientation and how does it then eradicate the malaise in the sport? Instead of nipping the matter in the bud, it allows the sportspersons in question to get away with anything at a time when sledging has become an issue and the degree to which it is harmful not only to the team at the receiving end but also, to the team perpetuating it.

It was, also, one of the concerns raised when Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, included in his apology that while alluding to the race of a South African cricketer, he did not intended for his comments to be aired. How does a statement not being aired make it alright? There are still two people involved, one doing the damage and the other potentially incurring the damage. It is quite astounding that in this day and age there are no media spinners for these players as well as publicity agents who would know better to check the apology releases before they are made public.

Likewise, it seems commentators, particularly former players turned commentators, could use an opportunity to rewind to earlier times when the person holding the microphone outside of the cricket field, also, held privilege and responsibility to convey the game as it evolves, to allude to the game that came before, and also, to respectfully and thoughtfully raise the thinking for the fascinated listener about the potential changes that would make the game even better.

Instead the scenario has become such that the attention has moved away from a rather relevant, worthy issue at hand to a rather callous one, which is not how the game works, or should work.

Feature Cricket

India's Predicted Squad for Australia ODIs

Staff Writer Updated: 14 February, 2019, 5:15 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India will take on Australia in five-match ODI series preceded by two T20Is that commence from February 24. It will be the final chance for India to get their act together as, after this series, India's next international assignment will be the 50-overs World Cup. Australian cricket might be on a decline but they are still the reigning champions and shouldn't be taken lightly.

Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami are considered certainties in the team for the World Cup. But for others spots team India are in a fix.

There is still a question mark on India's reserve opener especially after India dropped Rahul in controversial circumstances. Shubman Gill was in New Zealand as a back-up opener but after his lackluster performances, Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul are back in contention. KL Rahul looked in fine form in the four-day games against the England Lions scoring 89 and 81 in the last two knocks while Rahane's was back in headlines after chief Indian selector, MSK Prasad revealed that he is pretty much in the plans.

For the spot of reserve wicket-keeper, there is stiff competition between Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik. It is likely that both will be tried and tested in the upcoming Australia series. Rishabh Pant impressed with 40 and 28 in the second and third T20I internationals in New Zealand. Karthik also has been doing well in the white-ball format as a finisher, for a while now.

Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami have nailed their World Cup spots, but there is a four-way race for the place of the fourth seamer. Khaleel Ahmed, Jaydev Unadkat, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj are the four contenders.

Khaleel Ahmed and Mohammed Siraj have been disappointing. There is a suggestion that India might field Unadkat in Australia series and there is a toss-up between him and Khaleel. The Saurashtra pacer, Unadkat has experience and also provides the variation of a left-arm pacer. Umesh Yadav has also thrown his hat in the ring with impressive displays in Vidarbha's Ranji trophy win.

Krunal Pandya was Man-of-the-Match in the second T20I against New Zealand while he displayed supreme power-hitting the series-decider but there are no indications to a two-way battle between like-for-like players, Ravindra Jadeja and Krunal Pandya for the slot of spinning all-rounder.

Men in Blue are likely to field their strongest squad in initial games. But in the latter part of the series, we might see experimentation in full-swing with India trying to get their best possible combination going in the World Cup.

Indian skipper, Virat Kohli will be back in action after being rested for the final two ODIs and the whole of three-match T20I series against New Zealand. 

The squad for the series will be picked by MSK Prasad-led senior selection committee on Friday, February 15.

First choice: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Khaleel Ahmed.

Options for a part of the series (Last two/three ODIs): Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, KL Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane, Mohammed Shami.

News Cricket

How Men in Blue are celebrating Valentine’s Day

Staff Writer Updated: 14 February, 2019, 5:12 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Cricketers are celebrating Valentine’s Day with their partners. After hectic tours of Australia and New Zealand, Indian cricketers are spending quality time at home. Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina took to social networking sites to post pictures with their wives. While Virat Kohli went out for dinner with wife Anushka Sharma on the eve of Valentine’s Day at his restaurant Nueva, Rohit Sharma posted a picture of Ritika Sajdeh to wish her Valentine's Day. Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina also wished their wives on social media.

Kohli and Anushka enjoyed their time in New Zealand after Indian skipper was rested from the last two ODIs and T20 series. Rohit and Ritika were blessed with a baby girl and Rohit had to return mid-day during the Test series in Australia.

Here's how they celebrated Valentine's Day...

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How you doing my valentine ? @ritssajdeh

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#happyvalentinesday #Love @priyankacraina

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