News Cricket

Rahul opens up about equation with Hardik after KWK controversy, says we are still good friends

Staff Writer Updated: 19 August, 2019, 2:18 PM IST


KL Rahul had to bear a lot when he was suspended by the governing body of Indian cricket following some controversial comments made on Karan Johar's chat show. The right hand batsman has revealed that after the suspension, he lost his way a bit and was bothered by small events happening around him. However, with passage of time he learnt from the mistake and moved on.

“I won’t lie. I was bitter for a bit; it affected and bothered me a lot. I was angry, but I came out of it all as a more accepting person. I understood that certain things are sensitive, and no matter what you do, certain people will find the bad in you,” Rahul told TOI.

The young batsman further added that he has become more focused.

“I need to focus more on cricket, spend more time in the gym, on the field — practising and training. It made me more focused on my profession and what I really need to do. As I told you before, cricket is the only thing I am good at and there’s nothing else I can do to survive, so I need to give it all I have,” he further added.

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News Cricket

Dilip Vengsarkar questions Kohli for overlooking Rohit Sharma from WI Tests

Staff Writer Updated: 12 September, 2019, 2:33 PM IST


There is a lot of talk going about the potential future of India's limited-overs vice-captain, Rohit Sharma in Test cricket. With him not getting any younger and emergence of young turks in domestic cricket, now a time has come where things are in the do-or-die state for India's seasoned cricketer. Former Indian cricketer and selector, Dilip Vengsarkar has, however, backed Rohit to deliver the goods against South Africa in the three-match home Test series.

"To make him bat in the opening position or No. 3 or 4 doesn’t really make much of a difference. It is just about the mental state. It is a good thing that he will be opening; he will get a dedicated slot to bat in. He is a world-class player and has proved it. Give him a platform, and he will perform. He delivered when the whole world was watching during his innings [of 140] against Pakistan in the World Cup. He is a big-match player, so I am sure he will succeed," Vengsarkar said.

The 63-year-old added, "Leaving a player like Rohit out of the playing XI was very surprising. He is a world-class player. Would the team management have dropped him if we were playing a strong team like England or Australia? “After scoring five centuries in the World Cup and being in such great form, it was unfair to leave him out of the playing XI. We don’t know why he was dropped."

News Cricket

Steve Smith will 'always be known as a cheat': Monty Panesar

Harshit Anand Updated: 12 September, 2019, 12:42 PM IST


Steve Smith has been simply sensational in the Ashes 2019. The former Australian captain has made 671 runs at an average of 134.20 with three centuries and two fifties in five outings. He has been one of the biggest differences between the two sides. His Test career average has also reached close to 65. Smith is the no.1 ranked batsman in Test cricket.

But some former England players are insisting that despite his golden run, Smith will always be remembered as a cheat for his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal. After Steve Harmison, Monty Panesar has also opined that Smith will always be known as a "cheat".

In an interview with The Times of India, Panesar compared Smith's disgraceful moment against South Africa to footballer Diego Maradona's infamous 'Hand of God' goal against England in the World Cup.

"(Steve) Smith was probably honest with himself. He is back and doing what he always loves to do. He is batting well and scoring runs. He is a traditional Australian cricketer with the baggy green. He is exactly what an Australian cricketer looks like," said Panesar.

"We all have heard of great (Diego) Maradona and his hand goal (hand of God) in the World Cup. People remember him because of that goal. Similarly, people will always remember Smith's involvement in the ball-tampering episode during the Test against South Africa. He will always be known as a cheat, despite scoring huge number of runs.

"There is no doubt though, that he is a great talent. He has been phenomenal for Australian cricket. After some years, I am not sure how people will treat him. When his name will be placed alongside great cricketers then there will be a question that is he really a great or just a good cricketer who is also a cheat," added the former English cricketer.

Feature Cricket

The Rohit Sharma conundrum

Partab Ramchand Updated: 12 September, 2019, 12:01 PM IST


So everything is hunky-dory about Indian cricket? The team continues to be No 1 in the ICC rankings, they are winning Test series both at home and away, the batting is strong, there is plenty of variety in the spin bowling and the pace attack never had it so good.

But wait, there is a major problem and this exists at the top of the batting order. For some time now the Indians have struggled to get off to a good start and as the sporting adage goes ``well begun is half done.’’ Various combinations have been tried out but none has really succeeded. So it is back to the drawing board as far as the opening slots are concerned.

This is where Rohit Sharma comes in and that is why there has been so much talk about his skill and experience being required at the top of the order. There is of course a big difference between Tests and ODIs and not everyone can be successful in both formats. Rohit is a prime example of this. In the shorter format he is one of the best batsmen in the contemporary game. No other single stat symbolizes this better than being the only batsmen with three hundreds in ODIs – no other player has more than one. His recent feat of scoring five hundreds in the World Cup only enhanced his reputation.

Hailing from the Bombay school of batting Rohit should have been a natural for Test cricket but his record is not in keeping with his skill, class and experience. Three hundreds in 27 matches – and two of these came in his first two innings in Test cricket – and an average of 39 is not something that Rohit will be happy about. He will also not be pleased with the fact that he has got only one half century in his last eight innings. Another stat against his name is also not very complimentary – he averages 26 in 18 away Tests.

Interestingly Rohit who is natural as an opener in ODIs has never opened in Tests. He has batted in every position from No 3 to No 6 but with the search now on for a new opener why not Rohit is the question being openly asked. The series against South Africa is at home where Rohit averages 85 after nine Tests. Given this record it is hard to ignore his claims even if he will be opening for the first time.

Rohit however has got competition from many a young talent among them Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, Priyank Panchal and Abhimanyu Easwaran. It now all depends on the selectors whether they opt for youth or experience.

News Cricket

Ben Stokes won’t bowl in 5th Ashes Test

AP Updated: 12 September, 2019, 10:31 AM IST


England dropped batsman Jason Roy for the fifth Ashes test against Australia on Wednesday.

Roy failed to impress in the first four matches of the series, which Australia leads 2-1 and will retain the urn.

The final test starts Thursday at The Oval.

England seamer Craig Overton was also dropped. Sam Curran and Chris Woakes, who made way for Overton in the last match at Old Trafford, will take the places of Roy and Overton, respectively.

The England and Wales Cricket Board also said Ben Stokes will bat but not bowl in the match because of a shoulder injury.

England captain Joe Root said Roy had missed out because of Stokes' injury.

"(We) had to change the balance of the side, and Jason's the unfortunate one to miss out," Root said.

Australia allrounder Mitchell Marsh replaced Travis Head.

News Cricket

Sri Lanka cricket team warned about Pakistan terror threat

AP Updated: 12 September, 2019, 10:25 AM IST


The Sri Lankan cricket board says it has been warned about a possible terrorist threat during its planned tour of Pakistan and called for a reassessment of the security situation before play starts in two weeks.

The SLC said in a statement that the Sri Lankan Prime Minister's Office "has received reliable information of a possible terrorist threat on the Sri Lankan team, while touring Pakistan. Hence, SLC has been advised to take extreme care, and 'reassess' the situation, before embarking on the said tour."

The tour is set to start Sept. 27 with a one-day international in Karachi. Ten of Sri Lanka's top players, including Twenty20 captain Lasith Malinga and one-day international skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, have already pulled out of the limited-overs tour because of security concerns.

Pakistan has not hosted a test match since Sri Lanka's team bus was attacked by terrorists in 2009. Eight people were killed during the ambush and several Sri Lankan players were also injured.

The upcoming tour was originally set to begin with test matches, but the schedule was flipped after discussions between the heads of the two cricket boards. The two-test series is now scheduled for December.

Karachi is set to host three one-day internationals while three Twenty20s will be played at Lahore on Oct. 5, 7 and 9.

The Pakistan Cricket Board said it has not received any information about a terrorist threat.

"The PCB reiterates its commitment to provide complete safety and security to the SL side and in this relation will continue to work with the SLC," it said in a statement.

A high-level SLC security delegation visited both cities last month and was satisfied with the security arrangements made by the PCB for the visiting team.

Over the past three years, Pakistan has successfully hosted Zimbabwe, the West Indies, Sri Lanka, and a World XI for limited-overs matches amid intense security as it tries to win back confidence of foreign teams to restart fully fledged international cricket at home.

News Cricket

MSK Prasad discloses why KulCha didn't even make it to T20Is against SA

Harshit Anand Updated: 11 September, 2019, 5:25 PM IST


From once being India's most dangerous bowling pair to not even finding a place in the T20I squad, KulCha (Kuldeep and Chahal) are certainly going through a rough patch. Things have gone downhill for them after they disappointed in the 2019 Cricket World Cup, where India failed to progress to the finale after losing the semi-final encounter at the hands of New Zealand.

MSK Prasad-led selection committee picked leg-spinner Rahul Chahar along with Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar and Krunal Pandya for the three-match T20I series against South Africa.

“In order to bring variety in the spin bowling department, we have been trying youngsters keeping in view of the T20 World Cup in Australia. Chahal and Kuldeep have been outstanding performers in the shorter formats in the last two years. They are definitely ahead in the race now. It’s just that we are trying few other options now,” Prasad said in an interview with India Today.

India's chief selector also applauded India's young players, who are performing well at the international stage. “In shorter formats, we have seen Shreyas Iyer emerging as a matured batsman who can play to the situations and demands of the team and deliver accordingly. Similarly, we have seen Navdeep Saini, Krunal Pandya, Washington (Sundar) progressing well in shorter formats,” he said.

Feature Cricket

Remembering the greatest Test series between India and South Africa in India

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 11 September, 2019, 5:02 PM IST


Almost every contest between South Africa and India has been memorable, spawning greater challenges and whetting the appetite for more contests between the two teams. While it is a rather subjective issue to pick from the sentimental first Test series in South Africa in 1992 under the Friendship series guise to the battle between champions in 2011, South Africa’s tour of India in 1996-’97 takes the cake simply because of the manner in which both teams battled it out before India ceded home advantage albeit temporarily.

It is ironic that South Africa could not retain Lance Klusener for the Test tour of the current series because few know better the initiation by fire than the all-rounder also known as Zulu. “I wished the ground would open up and swallow me,” was how Lance Klusener described the hammering he took on debut in the first innings when Mohammad Azharuddin decided to tee off at will at the hallowed Eden Gardens, scoring 109 runs off only seventy-seven balls, equally Kapil Dev for the fastest Test century by an Indian batsman.

But despite that pulverizing, Klusener reserved his own special debut which he earmarked with spectacular bowling figures of eight wickets for sixty-four in India’s second innings as South Africa went to win the Test in Indian soil, the first time a foreign beat India in a Test match on their own soil since Pakistan accomplished the feat in 1986-‘87.

South Africa’s comeback was even more impressive from the point of view that it seemed that they had the game wrapped up in the first Test in Ahmedabad when they were left to chase 170 runs for a win. However, what they did see coming was a determined Javagal Srinath fired up and running in with lethal intentions at Motera. South Africa’s dreams were agonizingly stolen by a larger man with a lion hearted performance. Srinath’s six wicket spell conceding just twenty-one runs put paid to South Africa’s efforts, making this a rare game when an Indian fast bowler held the decisive upper hand on the dust bowls.

The series decider then became the al-important match with Kanpur the venue to call forth the winners. Although South Africa did wrest the initiative in Kolkata, India got their back in Kanpur. Once again it was Javagal Srinath and Mohammad Azharuddin in an extraordinary effort on a difficult pitch that edged out South Africa. Azharuddin was once again on song with the bat and Srinath kept wrecking South Africa with wickets. South Africa did not have answers for Kanpur and it decimated their early efforts in the series. Eventually India won the hard-fought contest by a 2-1 to make it one of the most exciting, memorable moments in cricket history, leave alone the two nations.

News Cricket

Sanjay Bangar reveals how he helped Kohli and Rohit become better batsmen

Staff Writer Updated: 11 September, 2019, 4:52 PM IST


Sanjay Bangar‘s five-year stint as batting coach of the Indian cricket team culminated as soon as India's tour of West Indies came to an end. Generally, people in India have their reservations about lesser successful players coaching the heavyweights of the Indian cricket team.

They are of the opinion, let's say, in case of Sanjay Bangar, if he is good enough to coach Indian batsmen like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, why didn't he apply all those principles and methods during his playing days to become a better player himself. The coach's playing credentials often come in the way of judging a coach itself, which is baffling, to say the least.

In an interview with Times of India, Sanjay Bangar opened up on how he helped premier Indian batsmen like Virat Kohli, Rohit, Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujaraa and Shikhar Dhawan. It's in a way a sneek peak to how a lesser successful player helped big names of the Indian cricket team.

“Virat always looks to iron out deficiencies. We worked on his alignments, positioning on the crease, his approach in seaming conditions. With Rohit, we worked on his head position to overcome problems against incoming deliveries from right/left arm angles,” Bangar told TOI.

Bangar, who represented India in 12 Tests and 15 ODIs, also said he helped India's limited-overs format vice-captain, Rohit Sharma improve his "head position" to play "incoming deliveries" from right/left arm angles.

The 46 years old also described what changes he brought to respective games of Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara, which brought them much more success than before.

“Shikhar was initially considered to be an off-side player, he used to stay beside the line of the ball. We worked on how he could get behind the line and open up scoring areas and overcome his dismissals against the short ball. In Pujara’s case, we worked on reducing the width of his stance and being more upright. It is to their credit that they worked to unlearn old methods,” said Bangar.

News Cricket

SL minister rejects Fawad Chaudhry's claims, says India not behind players pulling out of Pak tour

Staff Writer Updated: 11 September, 2019, 4:50 PM IST


Sri Lanka minister Harin Fernando has rejected claims made by Pakistan Minister Fawad Hussain Chaudhry that India had forced the Lankan players to opt out of the tour of Pakistan.

Fernando, who is Sri Lanka's sports minister, stated that players have opted out of the tour considering what happened in 2009 when Sri Lanka's team bus was attacked by terrorists.

"No truth to reports that India influenced Sri Lankan players not to play in Pakistan. Some decided not to play purely based on 2009 incident. Respecting their decision we picked players who were willing to travel. We have a full strength team & we hope to beat Pakistan in Pakistan," he tweeted on Tuesday night.

Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Suranga Lakmal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Thisara Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera and Niroshan Dickwella are not going to Pakistan.

Earlier, Fawad Chaudhry had blamed India stating the players from Sri Lanka were told that there IPL contracts would be terminated if they decide to opt for Pakistan tour.

"Informed sports commentators told me that India threatened SL players that they will be ousted from IPL if they don't refuse Pak visit, this is really cheap tactic, jingoism from sports to space is something we must condemn, really cheap on the part of Indian sports authorities," Chaudhry tweeted on Tuesday.

News Cricket

Pandya vs Pandya in training: Watch which brother wins the battle

Staff Writer Updated: 11 September, 2019, 4:47 PM IST


Hardik and Krunal, the two Pandya brothers, have come a long way in their careers. They both will be donning the Indian jersey in the upcoming T20 series against South Africa. Ahead of the series, Hardik and Krunal went through an intense training session.

In a video posted by Hardik Pandya, he can be seen hitting long sixes off Krunal's bowling.

"Pandya vs Pandya in training. I think I won that round big bro @krunalpandya24. P.S: Sorry for almost knocking your head off," Hardik tweeted.

Krunal Pandya responded back by sharing a video where he can be seen foxing the 25-year old all-rounder.

"Hahaha it's all cool bro but why didn't you upload this video? ?????? @hardikpandya7," the tweet read.

The home series against South Africa will be Hardik's first outing after the World Cup. He was rested from the tour of the West Indies keeping his workload in mind.

India are scheduled to play three T20Is and three Test matches against South Africa at home.

Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill are ready to take over whenever the seniors strike a poor patch, are injured or out of favour.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma’s beach picture will give you vacation goals

Staff Writer Updated: 11 September, 2019, 4:28 PM IST


Virat Kohli and his better half and Bollywood actor, Anushka Sharma know how to keep their fans happy.

The Indian skipper uploaded a picture in which he can be seen spending quality time with Anushka Sharma at an undisclosed beach destination.

Virat captioned it with a heart emoji indicating how much he loves his wife.

Virat's naughty expression was evenly matched by Anushka’s cute reaction.

After spending quality time with each other, Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma recently landed in Mumbai. They were spotted twinning in blue at the airport.

Meanwhile, Virat Kohli will be leading India in the upcoming T20 series against South Africa. The three-match series is important considering the next T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to be played in Australia.

The skipper had a mediocre Test series against the Windies. He was undone by the rival bowlers and went on to lose his top Test ranking to Steve Smith of Australia.

News Cricket

Niroshan Dickwella, Thisara Perera denied NOC for CPL after they boycott Pakistan tour

Harshit Anand Updated: 11 September, 2019, 4:11 PM IST


Niroshan Dickwella and Thisara Perera, who were among ten Sri Lankan players to pull out their names from the tour of Pakistan due to security reasons, have been denied No Objection Certificates (NOC) by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) in regards to playing the ongoing Caribbean Premier League.

Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Suranga Lakmal, Dinesh Chandimal, and Dimuth Karunaratne are ten players, who opted out of the Pakistan tour, which will comprise of three T20Is and ODIs each.

SLC CEO Ashley de Silva said, “It’s our policy not to give NOCs when there is a national tour, and the players would have known that.”

“So Dickwella has not been granted an NOC and will be expected to train with the national team in the next few weeks. We have also asked Thisara to return to the country on September 15, so he can also join the team in training.”

“We have done a very meticulous security assessment, and the Pakistan board has gone out of their way,” one board official said.

“Other international players have also toured there with the World XI and so on. And Pakistan is also willing to provide the same security they give to heads of state for the players. What more could they want?”

News Cricket

Who is best ODI batsman, Kohli or Rohit? Kagiso Rabada opines

Staff Writer Updated: 11 September, 2019, 3:50 PM IST


There is always a debate going around regarding who is the better batsman and captain between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli among Indian cricket fans. In the last five years, both the Indian batsmen have been exceptional in the 50-overs format. In the aforementioned period, Kohli has been the leading run-scorer followed by India's vice-captain, Rohit Sharma. The Indian captain has amassed 5,832 runs in 100 ODI innings at an average of 72.90 with 24 centuries and fifties each. On the other hand, Rohit has 5,207 runs in 93 innings at an average of 63.50 with 23 centuries and 19 fifties to his credit.

South African pace spearhead, Kagiso Rabada reckons Virat Kohli is the best ODI batsman in world cricket. “Virat Kohli has proven that he is the best batsman in white-ball format. He is already regarded as a great of the game with some pedigree,” Rabada told PTI. Kohli and Rabada have been involved in some epic face-offs till date in international cricket. A while back, Rabada had called Kohli "immature" and described him as someone who can't take abuse when hit back at.

South Africa are currently on tour of India, where they will be playing three T20Is commencing from September 15, followed by three Tests against world's no.1 ranked India. Last time in 2015, they got whitewashed by India in the Test series while they won the ODI and T20I series respectively.

News Cricket

'English pitches should be more biased': James Anderson

Harshit Anand Updated: 11 September, 2019, 2:45 PM IST


English pacer, James Anderson, who is not part of the ongoing Ashes Test series due to injury, feels that pitches in the series have been more suitable for Australia than the host nation like it was against India, last summer, where England reigned supreme to win the five-match Test series by a margin of 4-1. England are trailing the Ashes series by 1-2 with one Test remaining to be played at the Oval. Australia have already retained the Ashes series.

"I think they've (pitches) probably suited Australia more than us," he said. "I would have liked to have seen a bit more grass but that's the nature of the game here. When you're selling out - like Lancashire selling out five days of Test cricket - it's hard not to produce a flat deck but, you know, that's one of the frustrations from a player's point of view. We go to Australia and get pitches that suit them. They come over here and get pitches that suit them. It doesn't seem quite right.

"I thought they were good pitches here against India [last year]. I thought they weren't green seamers but I thought they suited us more than India. We as a country don't use home advantage enough. When you go to Australia, go to India, Sri Lanka, they prepare pitches that suit them. I feel like we could just be a little bit more biased towards our own team," added James Anderson, who has scalped 575 wickets in 149 Tests.

Opinion Cricket

Should series at home against SA mark the advent of youthful Indian batting?

Partab Ramchand Updated: 11 September, 2019, 2:03 PM IST


One of the reasons why the Indian team is performing admirably in international cricket is because there are any number of talented youngsters around ready to take over whenever the seniors strike a poor patch, are injured or out of favour. Hanuma Vihari is a case in point. Playing six batsmen in the Tests against West Indies would normally have seen the inclusion of Rohit Sharma at No 6. But Hanuma Vihari was given the chance instead and grabbed it with both hands. Suddenly the player on the borderline is now a cert in the middle order.

Against South Africa the middle order wears a settled look with Vihari being preceded by Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara. There is a question mark over the opening batting however with neither KL Rahul nor Mayank Agarwal being among the runs in the two Tests against West Indies. To be candid there is little to worry about. Prithvi Shaw should be back ere long and there are two ready young contenders for the opening slot in Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill. The former a 21-year-old left hander has a commendable first class record averaging almost 40 with a highest score of 273 and has been a consistent run getter for India A against both West Indies A and South Africa A. Just last week in the second ODI against South Africa he exhibited his swashbuckling approach in no uncertain terms hammering 55 off just 24 balls with five fours and four sixes to steer his team to a two-wicket victory with an over to spare in a truncated game.

Gill of course has been in the news for some time for all the right reasons. He averages almost 75 in first class cricket with a highest score of 268. The 19-year- old right hander is acknowledged to be one of the finest talents in the country and he too has been in excellent form against West Indies A and South Africa A. His unbeaten 204 in the third `Test’ against West Indies about a month ago was a brilliant knock scripting an amazing recovery – from 50 for four to 365 without further loss sharing a 315 run partnership with his captain Vihari.

Yes, it would appear to be a good idea to draft in a youngster or two at the top of the order in the Tests against South Africa which marks the beginning of the 2019-20 season.