Feature Cricket

Rest, But for Whom?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 20 February, 2019, 10:58 AM IST


One of the contentious side issues that erupted as India’s tour of Australia drew to a close was the question of the Indian captain suggesting the idea that some of India’s frontline bowlers might be rested ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. However, some of the franchises as well as fans are asking, why shouldn’t Virat Kohli, India’s premier batsman, not be rested himself?

On the tour of Australia, there was a contention that some of India’s premier bowlers, namely, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, should have the option of being rested for the Indian Premier League with an eye on the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 which commences shortly after the conclusion of the cash rich Twenty20 tournament. The idea being propagated was by none other than the Indian captain who was obviously keeping his eye on his resources to ensure India’s best chances come England.

However, closer to home, as the IPL comes into prominence even before the ICC Cricket World Cup, there are no rumblings that not all of the franchisees have been quite as accommodating of the Indian skipper’s ideas even if it is ultimately in India’s interests. Furthermore, with money on the line with the ownership a different landscape as compared to representing the country, there are questions whether any franchisee, who has bought the players at a considerable price, would be willing to compromise on their own chances of lifting up the trophy which could be their greatest advertisement at the end of the day to make business sense.

There is, however, another angle that is both, commercial as well as practical. For one, while some franchises have questioned the logic of resting bowlers who bowl for four overs, even though the IPL is generally a lengthy affair that involves matches and travelling on the go, they are simultaneously suggesting that perhaps the skipper take a dose of his own medicine and rest premier batsmen including himself by not playing the IPL and thereby, even the odds, which could, also, work in the interests of Indian cricket going into the ICC Cricket World Cup.

While the onus ultimately lies in the hands of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) who is unwilling to forgo the tournament for even a year given the commercial ramifications of such a move, there is, also, the thinking that it is better for players, particularly for the bowlers to keep up their rhythms and their body maintenance and let them keep playing, a logic that could well be applied to batsmen as well who could use the match practice although playing the Twenty20 format is not sufficient enough to prepare them for the more elaborate fifty overs version that involved patience and platform building for a significantly longer length of them.

Perhaps a more practical solution is to find some middle ground where all Indian cricketers that would make up the World Cup squad be restricted to a certain number of matches with the provision in the event that the team they represent does get to the business end of the tournament, some additional rules will have to be established well in advance about franchisees relying on their bankable commodities that are the players.

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News Cricket

World Cup without India’s victory over Pakistan is worthless - Aakash Chopra

Staff Writer Updated: 20 February, 2019, 9:53 PM IST


Aakash Chopra, the former Indian opener, wants Tem India to play against Pakistan in the World Cup. According to him, it is not right to mix politics with sport. India are scheduled to play Pakistan on June 16 in Manchester.

He added that emotions are running high as the wounds of the Pulwama terror attack are fresh and there is a need to be more sensible instead of taking a call on boycotting the World Cup match against arch rivals.

"It's a question whether India should be playing against Pakistan in the World Cup or not. Do we need to answer it now? The wounds of the attack are very fresh. What has happened in Pulwama has hurt all of us. We are all pained and saddened. We will always make decisions based on emotions. But do we need to make that decision right now? I don't think we are obliged to make that decision today," Aakash Chopra told India Today on Wednesday.

"All progressed nations in the world don't mix politics with sport. They don't use sports as a vehicle to push their political agenda. I firmly believe India is a first-world country and not a third-world country. We are not a regressive nation in any way. We are a proud nation that actually is mature enough to distinguish between the two(sport and politics).

"We are already not playing bilateral cricket with them. You want to be the world champions. You want to be the best. What will be the worth of that World Cup trophy if you haven't beaten Pakistan along the way?

"Earlier, it was only cricket that was used as a vehicle to push some agenda. But right now the sentiment is fairly strong. If somebody is going to tell me, India is going to sit silent and do nothing about the attack for the next three months, then India will fail as a country. I don't think that's going to happen. A proper response will be given to Pakistan for what they have orchestrated in Indian land.

"So I think, three and half months down the line, India will be in a position to play cricket with Pakistan and beat them in the game of cricket. We are a better nation and a developed nation. India should be playing (the World Cup tie),” he added.

News Cricket

ICC will not be able hold the 2019 World Cup without India, says Ganguly

Staff Writer Updated: 20 February, 2019, 9:40 PM IST


Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly has ruled out the possibility of bilateral cricket relations between India and Pakistan after the Pulwama terror attack. He is in sync with the emotions of common masses, saying he feels the same.

"Whatever happened in Pulwama last week was really sad...it is the worst possible thing that could ever happen. And, whatever reactions came from the people of India...was right. There is no chance of a bilateral series with Pakistan after this incident," Sourav Ganguly was quoted as saying by a media channel.

"I can also understand the sentiments of people asking India not to play Pakistan in the World Cup and I feel the government should take strong action on this issue. The after effect of this should be strong from India," Ganguly added.

He further added that BCCI has become powerless under the supervision of Supreme Court’s appointed committee and is not in a position to take any strong action.

"I don't think anything is left in BCCI after the Supreme Court situation. There are no office bearers left to take a decision but I feel that BCCI should take a strong decision on the issue and send a strong no nonsense message."

"This is a 10-team World Cup and every team plays every team and I feel if India doesn't play a match in the World Cup, it won't be an issue," Ganguly added.

According to him, it will be almost difficult for the ICC to hold World Cup without India.

"ICC can't go on with a World Cup without India and I feel it will be really difficult for ICC to go on with a World Cup without India. But, you also have to see if India have the power to stop ICC from doing such a thing," Ganguly said.

"But, I feel a strong message should be sent," Ganguly added.

News Cricket

Bad news for Indian skipper Virat Kohli ahead of T20 series

Staff Writer Updated: 20 February, 2019, 9:25 PM IST


Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, had clearly laid out the importance of resting key players especially fast bowlers in different phases of the Indian Premier League. However, the governing council of Indian cricket, has not paid any heed to his demands. According to Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) CEO Venky Mysore, they haven't received any instructions till date. MSK Prasad had said that the selectors will keep an eye on the workload of players throughout the IPL but as per KKR's CEO, they are yet to hear anything from concerned authorities.

“We have not heard any such thing from them,” Mysore was quoted as saying by Times of India, on the sidelines of a school cricket tournament final at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. “The tournament is finishing early enough this time. While the final is on May 12, India will play their first game on June 5 only. I think there is enough time. I have been around cricketers and coaches and I have seen they always feel it’s better to play competitive cricket than have net sessions.”

With general elections due at the time of IPL, KKR will have to play most of their matches away from Eden Gardens.

“There is a strong possibility of that,” Mysore said on the home games' situation. “It is the election year. But there is overwhelming support for holding all the matches in India. When BCCI sought the opinion of franchises before taking a call on the issue, I made it clear that KKR would rather play at a neutral venue in India than abroad.”

News Cricket

Ishant Sharma's wife trolls fans asking for IPL tickets

Staff Writer Updated: 20 February, 2019, 9:21 PM IST


The dates for the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League have been announced by the governing council of the league. MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings will take on Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore in the opening game of the new season. Wives of Indian cricketers have started receiving requests from fans for IPL tickets.

Pratima Singh, the better half of Ishant Sharma, shared one such hilarious incident, where she got a direct message from one of the followers regarding tickets.

She shared a screenshot of a conversation with a fan who sent her a message seeking IPL tickets.

"For the world its yey !!! IPL is coming, for cricketers and their family OMG IPL is coming !! Log Tickets le liye phone karenge (people will call for tickets, Tickets maangege (ask for tickets), tickets - tickets - tickets," she captioned the picture.

Ishant Sharma will represent his state franchise Delhi Capitals in the 12th edition of the league. He had gone unsold in the last edition but was snapped up by Delhi for INR 1 crore.

News Cricket

Suresh Raina eyes World Cup spot through performances in IPL

Staff Writer Updated: 20 February, 2019, 9:15 PM IST


Suresh Raina is all set to perform for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League. The left hand batsman was axed from the team after ODI series in England, which didn't go down well with him considering he was hitting the ball pretty well. Speaking to Times Now, Raina spoke about his ouster from the squad.

"Definitely. I was surely not expecting to be dropped because I got limited matches to play and during those matches, I did fairly well. But you know, you can’t really blame anyone for these things. I work hard, focus on my form & fitness every day. I am continuing to do my job," said Raina.

When asked about his World Cup chances, Raina didn’t rule him out of the contention.

"I have always given my best to the team I play for, be it national, domestic or IPL. And, I’ll continue to do so during any upcoming matches too, irrespective of the circumstance. But yes, who wouldn’t want to lift the World Cup twice (laughs)," he added.

News Cricket

Twitter conversation between Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma is a must read

Staff Writer Updated: 20 February, 2019, 9:11 PM IST


Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, who was bought by Mumbai Indians for INR 1 crore, is looking forward to play for the franchise under Rohit Sharma's captaincy.

Having represented Kings XI Punjab, Pune Warriors India, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad in the past, Mumbai Indians is Yuvraj Singh's sixth IPL outfit.

The southpaw took to twitter to ask his fans regarding what he should expect from Rohit Sharma as captain.

Rohit responded back and even tagged Netflix India to get some tips from them.

Netflix India was quick to respond. They stated that learning Indians’ ‘Duniya Hila Denge’ anthem would be enough.

News Cricket

Not Rahul, Gavaskar wants this player to be Men in Blue's backup opener in World Cup

Staff Writer Updated: 20 February, 2019, 9:03 PM IST


Former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar wants Dinesh Karthik as a backup opener at the World Cup to be played in England this year.

Dinesh Karthik was dropped from the ODI team for the upcoming ODI series against Australia, with the selectors deciding to give one more chance to Rishabh Pant before finalizing the squad.

He has been a regular member of the ODI side since Asia Cup but his mediocre performances in Australia and then in New Zealand proved fatal for him.

On the other hand, KL Rahul had a decent run against England Lions and has been included in the side as a backup opener. However, Gavaskar was not convinced and wants some flexibility in the team during the show piece event in England.

"There should be flexibility in the team. Dinesh Karthik has opened in Test matches in the past so he can do it in ODIs too," Gavaskar was quoted as saying by India Today.

Gavaskar also picked his 15-man squad preferring Dinesh Karthik over KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant.

"I have 13 names in my mind who will surely board the flight to England and they are Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Kuldeep Yadav," said Sunil Gavaskar.

Vijay Shankar and Dinesh Karthik were the two remaining names.

News Cricket

Men in blue shouldn’t play Pakistan anywhere, says Mohammad Azharuddin

Staff Writer Updated: 20 February, 2019, 8:58 PM IST


Former Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin has stated that India should boycott Pakistan at the ICC World Cup. He feels there is no need to play against Pakistan as country comes first.

The voices to forfeit the World Cup game against arch rivals are gaining momentum following terror attack on CRPF convoy. 42 security personnel were killed when an explosive-laden car rammed into one of the buses carrying soldiers.

After Harbhajan Singh’s request to BCCI, Azhar has also voiced his opinion on the matter. He said India should not play Pakistan anywhere if they have boycotted bilateral series against the neighbors.

He agreed with Bhajji that World Cup is not bigger than the country.

"If we are not playing Pakistan in bilateral series, we should not play them anywhere. I agree with Harbhajan, the World Cup cannot be bigger than the country," he was quoted as saying by India Today.

Azhar revealed that the game against Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup was full of tension as the Kargil war was on and there was fear of clashes between the two sets of spectators during the course of proceedings.

"There was tension...there was the war on. We were scared the spectators would start fighting. When we won, the soldiers celebrated. If you play Pakistan, play everywhere. Otherwise, don't play them anywhere. ICC and BCCI should resolve this quickly," said Azharuddin.

News Cricket

Yuzvendra Chahal reveals an unknown thing about MS Dhoni

Harshit Anand Updated: 20 February, 2019, 5:30 PM IST


MS Dhoni's fan-following in the Indian dressing room is huge. No one is more senior and experienced than him in India's white-ball team. The former Indian skipper is the only international captain to have led his country to wins in all the major ICC events. 

It is a great learning curve for youngsters in the team like Rishabh Pant, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Vijay Shankar to share the dressing room with someone like MSD. Yuzvendra Chahal opened up on how MS Dhoni is around the team and shared a few unknown things about Dhoni. 

In an interview to Hindustan Times, the 27-year-old wrist-spinner said, “It is a big thing to play under Mahi bhai. Mahi bhai and I play PUBG together sometimes (laughs). Seven-eight people play PUBG for two hours. We go for dinners, [have] fun. It’s a big thing to play under Mahi bhai. He was my first captain. Whenever we need help in bowling, Kuldeep and I always ask him.”

He further added, “Whenever I feel something, I always talk to the senior players — Virat (Kohli) bhaiya, Mahi (Dhoni) bhai, Rohit (Sharma) bhaiya, Shikhar (Dhawan) bhaiya. They always help me. When Virat bhaiya is not there, I always [speak to] Rohit bhaiya and ask him what to do and what not to do.”

News Cricket

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad says no to cricket with Pakistan

Staff Writer Updated: 20 February, 2019, 5:27 PM IST


Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has called for a ban in cricket ties with arch-rivals Pakistan. The country is still reeling after Pulwama terror attack took away lives of 40 CRPF soldiers. India and Pakistan do not play bilateral cricket anymore but now there are question marks on their meeting in ICC Cricket World Cup as well, which will take place in few months' time in England and Wales.

"I cannot make any comment [on cricket issues] except to say those who are demanding it have some justification. You can see many films and concerts have been cancelled. Things are not normal. If things are not normal, the jhappiyan-pappiyan (hugs and kisses) issues have always been there," Prasad told India Today.

"Since it's an international tournament, the ICC and our Indian cricket board (BCCI) have to take a call after consideration with our security establishment.

"But I don't wish away their concern. It's time to say no. Mr Imran Khan had no word of condolence for those who were killed," he said.

News Cricket

What mystery? Sab bakwas hai: Kuldeep Yadav  

Harshit Anand Updated: 20 February, 2019, 4:07 PM IST


Kuldeep Yadav is one of the most promising spinners in world cricket at present juncture. His bowling in white-ball cricket has been magical, to say the least. No one has taken more wickets than him in ODIs and T20I since his debut. He has also done well in what little opportunities he has got in Test cricket. The chinaman spinner even scalped a five-fer in his maiden in Australia. 

But, it was not easy for Kuldeep Yadav to do what he did in the Sydney Test against Australia especially after his failure in the Lord's Test against England. He opened up on what was going through his mind post the second Test in London. 

“I could rarely smile,” Kuldeep told The Indian Express. “I saw the world crumbling in front of me, but when I look back now, I realise that everything in life has a purpose. The Lord’s Test was an eye-opener, a reality check. I realised I needed to work harder and prepare better so that I wouldn’t repeat the mistakes.”

Some people were of the view that Kuldeep's mystery was solved by the Englishmen as they had played him in the T20I and ODI series in lead up to the Test series. But, Kuldeep, right from the beginning has never considered himself as a mystery spinner.

"What mystery? Sab bakwas hai. I am using the same weapons like Ash [Ravichandran Ashwin] bhai — flight, drip, drift and turn — only that I’m a wrist spinner and he’s finger spinner,” said the young Indian wrist-spinner.

News Cricket

Expect India-Pakistan Game at World Cup to go Ahead as Scheduled: ICC

Staff Writer Updated: 20 February, 2019, 2:27 PM IST


The Indo-Pak World Cup clash has been under the scanner ever since the Pulwama terror attack. Many people are of the belief that India should not play the game against Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup. Harbhajan Singh had also said that India should not play against Pakistan in the ICC megaevent, which was backed by the ex-BCCI secretary, Sanjay Patel as well. 

But Indian team are set to play arch-rivals against Pakistan on June 16 match in Manchester. ICC’s outgoing chief executive officer, Dave Richardson has made it clear that all the games will go ahead as planned.

"Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this terrible incident and we will be monitoring the situation with our Members," Richardson said, offering his condolences on the Pulwama terror attack in which, at least 42 CRPF jawans were martyred.

"There is no indication that any (of the) matches at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup will not go ahead as planned," Richardson said.

"Sport, in particular, cricket, has the wonderful ability to bring people together and unite communities and we will work with our Members on that basis," he added.

Even a BCCI official had shared his view on the same. "Harbhajan had shared his point of view but he didn't clarify what happens if we are again pitted against them in semi-final or suppose final. Does that mean that we will be forfeiting World Cup semi-final or final? So we are all talking about hypothetical situations," said a senior BCCI official.

He further added, "For the record, India played Pakistan in a World Cup game in England in 1999 edition when Kargil War was at its peak."

News Cricket

Hayden names the better all-rounder between Marcus Stoinis and Hardik Pandya

Harshit Anand Updated: 20 February, 2019, 12:43 PM IST


Former Australian opener, Matthew Hayden feels Marcus Stoinis is a better all-rounder compared to Indian all-rounder, Hardik Pandya. Both Hardik and Stoinis are currently among the best seaming all-rounders in white-ball cricket.  

Hayden feels Stoinis' approach is better than Hardik Pandya. "Marcus Stoinis is developing into a world-class all-rounder. He is unlucky not to be playing a little bit more Test cricket. He has quality in his play, although Hardik is also a fine player," said Hayden.

He went on to add, "Stoinis has adopted a wider approach to his game which is winning matches for his country. Hardik Pandya also has the same responsibility, but I think right now Stoinis is a better player."

Pandya has played 45 ODIs and averages 29.24 with the bat and has a strike-rate of 116.59. He has also taken 44 wickets. Stoinis averages 42.47 with the bat after having made 24 ODI appearances. The Aussie all-rounder has also scalped 22 wickets. Stoinis also won Australia's ODI Player of the Year award in annual Australian cricket awards held in Melbourne. 

News Cricket

Yuzvendra Chahal wants 'aar paar ki ladaai' against Pakistan

Staff Writer Updated: 20 February, 2019, 11:57 AM IST


The Pulwama terror attack has saddened the whole country of India. It took away the lives of India's brave security personnel. There have been a lot of talks about a possible war between South Asian neighbors- India and Pakistan. Indian wrist-spinner, Yuzvendra Chahal weighed in on what India should do in response to Pakistan's terrorism from across the border. 

"This should settle once and for all. We can't tolerate it any longer. Every three months we get to hear about our jawans losing their lives to terrorism and we can't keep waiting for things to happen. It's high time and we have to make things happen and we should settle this face to face, even if that means aar paar ki ladaai (fight on the battlefield)," Yuzvendra Chahal was quoted as saying by India Today.

"The decision to play the World Cup match against Pakistan has to be taken by the BCCI and the government. One or two players cannot decide but I think it is high time and we need to take strong action against the perpetrators of terrorism," added Chahal. 

Feature Cricket

Chris Gayle – Entertainer par excellence

Partab Ramchand Updated: 20 February, 2019, 11:01 AM IST


If Chris Gayle stands by his decision to retire from ODIs after the World Cup there is little doubt that he will be missed by the entire cricketing community the world over. As an entertainer par excellence Gayle has few equals. Few batsmen have made bowlers look more helpless as he just smashes them for fours all over the ground or for huge sixes into the stands and beyond. Moreover his image as a fun loving cricketer who loved his dance steps almost as much as he enjoyed batting endeared him to cricket fans. His approach might have looked casual but he was deadly serious about his game.

Gayle is very much a cricketer of the times. As a professional to the core he always felt it was his right to ply his trade around the cricketing world and a look at his CV is simply astonishing. The number of teams he has played for in the various T-20 leagues is unique. All the same whenever he represented the West Indies he did his best for the team and this is underscored by his superb record in international limited overs cricket.

And for someone who once famously said that he would not be sad if Test cricket died Gayle did a lot to keep it alive. He is only one among four cricketers to have scored a triple hundred twice the others being Don Bradman, Brian Lara and Virender Sehwag. And he did play in 103 Tests between 2000 and 2014 and would have played many more but for his brushes with authority. And given his batting approach a record of 7214 runs at an average of 42 with 15 hundreds is not one to be scoffed at.

Overall however Gayle will be remembered for his exploits in limited overs cricket for his game was tailor made for it. After a 19 year career Gayle is approaching the 10,000 run mark. He is only 273 runs short and should get there during the World Cup. A strike rate of almost 86 with 23 hundreds allied to the fact that he is only one of six batsmen to get a double hundred in the format underscores his brilliance. And as only to be expected Gayle was a natural for T-20 cricket. His swashbuckling batting empties bars and attracted a worldwide TV audience and not unexpectedly he has been among the first choices for T-20 franchisees anywhere in the world.