Team India are one of the most domineering sides at the moment in the world of cricket. They are ranked no.1 in ICC Test rankings while the Kohli-led side is no.2 in both ODI and T20I formats respectively. Be it any format, the Indian team are a tough nut to crack and put up a competitive show over and again. One of India's upcoming stars, Rishabh Pant disclosed the mindset that drives Virat Kohli's India when they take the field.
“Right now in this Indian team, we only play to win. Whatever the match, whatever the situation, every player, from No. 1 to 11, only thinks about how he can win the match for India. That is the most important thing for us. That we have to win it for India,” Pant said.
Rishabh Pant also revealed how Virat Kohli's words inspired him to do something special in just his second Test match at the Oval.
He said, “During that hundred in England [at The Oval], we were too far behind. You had to be careful to pick what balls you hit. In England, if you give yourself some time, you can score runs. So I was very selective at the start of the innings. Once I got used to the conditions, the runs came. He (Virat Kohli) said it is not compulsory that you attain experience after 100 Tests. Even in your second Test, you can do what nobody has ever done."
Ever since the Pulwama terror attack, the hostility between South Asian neighbors- India and Pakistan is on the rise. There have even been suggestions that India should refuse to play Pakistan in the 2019 Cricket World Cup that will commence from May 30 in England and Wales.
Harbhajan Singh had opined that the Men in Blue should not play the Men in Green in the ICC megaevent. And now Ex-BCCI secretary, Sanjay Patel has also said that country is bigger than any sport and India should not play Pakistan in the World Cup.
“How can you expect India to play Pakistan at the time we have lost so many of our brothers in these cowardly terrorist attack. I am of the firm view that India should not play Pakistan in the coming World Cup,” former BCCI secretary Patel was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
“If we play the World Cup, then it’s clear that game is bigger than the country’s image. For me, India is first and it’s not only me who has such a sentiment. Ask any Indian now, and they will be of the same view. Cricket will only take place if terrorism is stopped. I hope the current COA and BCCI takes note of it. There is always a limit to everything and this time all limits have been crossed.
“During the recent India-Pakistan board dispute, my stand was clear that we should not pay a single penny to PCB. The moment India withdraws from an ICC event, the World Cup will start falling. For me, human life is more important than sport,” Patel added.
Indian opener Smriti Mandhana has maintained her top position in the ICC ODI rankings for batswomen. She has raked in 774 rating points and is ahead of Australia pair of Ellyse Perry and Meg Lanning.
New Zealand’s Amy Satterthwaite is in 4th spot, just ahead of Indian skipper Mithali Raj.
The other Indian batswomen to feature in top 20 are Deepti Sharma and Harmanpreet Kaur, who are at 17th and 19th positions respectively.
The opening batsman was adjudged ‘Women’s Cricketer of the Year’ as well as the ‘Women’s ODI Player of the Year’ by the ICC. This is huge for Indian cricket and it will boost her confidence.
Left-handed opener Mandhana was terrific with the bat last year and won the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Award for the ‘Women’s Cricketer of the Year’ for scoring 669 runs in 12 ODI matches.
She also amassed 622 runs in 25 T20 Internationals in 2018.
Her ODI runs were scored at an average of 66.90. The talented batswoman showed her prowess for the Indian team and brought many laurels along the way. What was impressive was the strike-rate she enjoyed in T20Is. It was an impressive 130.67.
India are all set to take on Australia in the upcoming T20 series. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, the two openers, are leaving no stone unturned in their preparations for the mega showdown against the visitors.
Both of them took to Instagram to post inspirational messages and update fans about their whereabouts. In his post, Shikhar Dhawan is seen working out in the gym and wrote: “Jeet Ki Khatir bas jannon chahiye, Jisme ubaal ho vaisa Khoon chahiye, Ye Asma bhi ayega Zameen par Bas irado main jeet ki goonj chahiye.”
On the other hand, Dhawan's opening partner Rohit Sharma posted a picture in which he looks all set to hit the gym in order to prepare himself for the limited overs series against Australia.
Shikhar and Rohit have been performing exceptionally well for Men in Blue in ODIs and T20 internationals. They will have a key role to play for their team in the upcoming World Cup, which is due to be played in England & Wales.
Furious Harbhajan Singh has stated India should not play Pakistan in their World Cup match in Manchester on June 16 after the terror attack on convoy killed 40 soldiers.
According to Bhajji, Men in Blue are strong enough to make up for the points if they decide to concede their match against Pakistan.
"India should not play Pakistan in the world Cup. India are powerful enough to win the World Cup without having to play Pakistan," Harbhajan Singh told Aaj Tak.
He added: "This is a difficult time. The attack that has happened, it was unbelievable and it's very wrong. Strict action will surely be taken by the government. When it comes to cricket, I don't think we should have any relations with them otherwise they will keep treating us like this.
"I don't think we need to have any relations with Pakistan or play any cricket with them.
"I don't think India should play the World Cup match against Pakistan. Country comes first and we are all standing behind our country. Cricket or hockey or sports, it should be kept aside because this is a huge thing and repeatedly our soldiers are killed. We should stand with our country. Cricket or hockey or any sport, we don't need to play with them."
When asked what India need to do if they meet Pakistan in the semis or final of the event, he said: "We are too small to discuss what needs to be done - there are big people sitting in power who can take a call.
"What happens if we have to play Pakistan in the semi-final or final? There's plenty of time for June-July. The people in power will need what to do. But nobody can harm India. What happened in Pulwama is tragic. We are safe today only because of our defence forces," Harbhajan said.
KL Rahul was picked in the squad for the upcoming T20I and ODI series against Australia. Rahul, who was in horrendous form in Australia, came back into his groove in the matches against England Lions.
He is being viewed as a third opener for the World Cup and chief selector MSK Prasad has said that onus is now on KL Rahul to prove the selectors right.
“At such a major tournament [World Cup], we can’t afford to go in without a third opener. That’s why we have included KL Rahul for the T20Is and the ODIs against Australia. We have to see how he performs because his form is also very important,” Prasad said in an interview on Hotstar.
Earlier, he had spoken about the inclusion of Rishabh Pant ahead of Dinesh Karthik.
“We have included him (Rishabh Pant) considering the fact he is a left-hander. We will try and figure the best possible batting position for him. With a left-hander in the side, there is an advantage of left-right combination,” the chief selector had said.
India will take on Australia in two-match T20I series, which will commence from February 24. It will be followed by five-match ODI series. It is going to be the last series for the Men in Blue before the 2019 Cricket World Cup that will start from May 30 in England and Wales.
Australia are reigning World-Cup champions. They aren't the same force they once were, but still, you can never count them out. Even in ODI series that India won in Australia, the games were quite close. It will be last chance for India to get its combination and balance right.
Here are Five Experiments that India should try in Australia series:
There has been a lot of talks in regards to Virat Kohli's batting position in the last few days. Indian head coach, Ravi Shastri was of the view that the Indian skipper should bat at the no.4 position if the situation demands. Even India's chief selector, MSK Prasad backed Shastri's views. The logic behind sending Virat at 4 is that India's batting firepowers heavily depend on the top three- Rohit, Dhawan, and Kohli. So, in testing conditions, let's say on a seaming track, the Indian batting might get exposed in case the top three departs early. Sending Kohli at 4 would strengthen the middle-order. But who should bat at no.3 if Kohli bats at 4? India can experiment in this series. It can be a disaster if India tinker with their best batsman in the World Cup directly.
Rishabh Pant's power-hitting can help India finish off the innings with a flourish. Ever since the decline in MS Dhoni's hitting abilities, the Men in Blue have struggled to maximize run-making in the last 10 overs. If someone from the top three is there till the end, India accelerates through the fag-end. But if there are two new batsmen at the crease, the run-rate takes a hit. But, someone like Pant can smash the ball right from the word go and can play those important cameos at the end, which often turn out to be the difference between the two sides. Pant did show us the teaser in New Zealand T20Is, and he can exhibit the whole movie if given proper chances.
India went ahead with Shubman Gill as reserve-opener in New Zealand. Though they played him in the middle-order. But, now he has been overlooked from the ODI and T20I squad against Australia, with KL Rahul returning back to the team. India would need to give chances to KL Rahul, and fix up the slot of reserve opener going into the World Cup. Rahul has largely underperformed in the recent past and is also coming out of a controversy, so India need to ensure whether he is good enough or not for the ICC megaevent, which would require all the players to be in good form.
Punjab wrist-spinner, Mayank Markande got his maiden call-up in the Indian squad for Australia. India have rested Kuldeep Yadav from the T20Is. And they must play Mayank Markande in the series against Australia so that India have a back-up spinner ready in case of injury to either Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal. Mayank is also a wrist-spinner so he can be a like for like replacement to them. He is an attacking option and can do well for India if his IPL and domestic performance is anything to go by.
Umesh Yadav has been included only in the T20I team while Siddarth Kaul will be part of the T20I series as well as first two ODIs against Australia. India have already locked three seamers for the World Cup in form of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami. But the Kohli-led side are still auditioning for the spot of the fourth seamer. Both Umesh Yadav and Siddarth Kaul are in the mix. But, they need to be given game time as so that the 2011 World-Cup champions can lock the fourth seamer for the ICC megaevent.
Mohammed Shami has come forward to help the familes of CRPF martyrs, who lost their lives in a dastardly attack carried out by terrorists in Pulwama. 42 CRPF soldiers were killed in the attack by Jaish-e-Mohammed and the leading personalities of India are helping grieving families after the loss.
Mohammed Shami donated Rs 5 lakh to help the wives of the martyred security personnel. He also assured them that entire country will always be there to help them. “When we play for our country they stand at the borders protecting it. We stand with the families of our jawans, we will always be there for them,” he said.
Shikhar Dhawan has also pledged to donate money to the families. He took to Facebook and posted an emotional video requesting all Indians to support the families in this difficult time.
Earlier, Virender Sehwag offered to take care of educational expenses of the children of all CRPF personnel killed in Pulwama.
Yuvraj Singh is out of Team India and future looks bleak for him as far as international cricket is concerned.
Despite his exile, he continues to be a part of domestic tournaments. He recently played for Air Indian against the Maldives Cricket team and hit a brilliant switch hit six.
He picked the length of the ball early and whacked it for a huge six. However, he didn't last long and was dismissed for 17 runs off six deliveries.
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He last played for India in 2017 and was released by Kings XI Punjab before IPL auction. The left hand batsman went unsold in the first of auction round but was bought by Mumbai Indians in the closing stages of the proceedings.
Yuvraj Singh was elated after getting another chance to showcase his abilities in the slam bang league of T20 cricket.
MS Dhoni will be sporting a new look in the upcoming T20 series against Australia. Ahead of the series against visiting team, he paid a visit to his hairstylist Sapna Moti Bhavnani. She gave him a clean cut with short sides.
He was last seen in the T20 series against New Zealand which India lost 1-2. Dhoni was in fabulous touch in Australia. The right hand batsman was declared Man of the Series after scoring three consecutive fifties against Australia in the ODI matches.
Dhoni is expected to play a big role in the World Cup. Apart from his batting, he is known for his guidance from behind the stumps.
Aaron Finch has praised Virat Kohli-led Men in Blue for their display in limited overs cricket. Calling them as the best white-ball side in their own backyard, Finch stated that Aussies can't afford to relax a bit in the upcoming matches.
"I don't think you need anything to put a pep in your step when you're going on an Aussie tour, particularly to India," Finch said.
"If you're slightly off the mark you're going to get hurt. They're the best side in one-day cricket in their own conditions, I think. So you've got to go there full of confidence and have a real clear game plan."
Australia T20I squad for India tour: Aaron Finch(c), Alex Carey, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, D Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Peter Handscomb, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa
Australia ODI Squad: Aaron Finch(c), Alex Carey, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, D Arcy Short, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Ashton Turner, Pat Cummins, Kane Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa
On the occasion of AB de Villiers birthday, his fans in Bengaluru poured milk on a poster of De Villiers and Virat Kohli. They both have been magnificent for Royal Challengers Bangalore and have won several matches for them. They duo have been playing together for their IPL franchise since 2011 and are followed by millions. Despite their exceptional performances over the years, their franchise have never won the IPL title despite making it to the finale on three occasions.
Former South Africa skipper AB de Villiers has retired from international cricket while Virat Kohli continues to break records on day to day basis. The Indian captain is the best batsman in world cricket and is amassing runs across formats. Virat Kohli's RCB finished sixth in last season of the league with just six wins under their belt. They will be looking to end their title drought in the upcoming edition of the league.
It could well be argued that South Africa took their eyes off the ball even as the South African captain has described Kusal Perera’s efforts to win Sri Lanka the Kingsmead Test as a ‘superman’ effort. Once again Test cricket has continued to both intrigue and enthrall cricket fans this season, not really letting the ICC Cricket World Cup steal the limelight yet.
Although the fortunes of the first Test between the visitors Sri Lanka and hosts South Africa continued to oscillate through the days of the Durban Test, none could have quite imagined the scenario that gave Sri Lanka an unprecedented lead in an away series, particularly after their shambolic season that even included allowing England the jubilation of a 3-0 series whitewash in the Emerald Isles.
Consumed by scandals about corruption, salacious mudslinging over captaincy that has been a case of musical chairs, and their cricket board in mayhem with the ICC giving them a fifteen day amnesty, Sri Lanka’s cricket could not have sunk lower in recent months. Their on-field performances or rather lack of it and their off-field scandals kept Sri Lanka in the doldrums. Given such a somber situation where Sri Lanka are virtually scraping the bottom of the top league players, it would not have been beyond South Africa to think they could let up just a little bit.
For Sri Lanka to pull off a fourth innings run chase of over 300 runs and to do it needing seventy-eight runs having lost nine of their wickets would have taken a miracle and in the end, it did because despite South Africa having lost Vernon Philander to injury, they still had a fearsome attack in Dale Steyn, Duanne Olivier and Keshav Maharaj who rushed through the Sri Lankan line up, a situation that set up expectations of an early result on the fourth day in South Africa’s favour.
Kusal Perera had already shown a semblance of what he was capable of as his half century in the first innings stood out against a Sri Lankan scorecard that looked bleak compared to the fact that South Africa were riding the coat tails of the skipper, Faf du Plessis, and Quinton de Kock to try and push the bar that much farther. On another day, it could well have been South Africa’s given how Sri Lanka have rarely inspired hope in recent times. That Perera even scored sixty-seven of the seventy-eight runs needed when the ninth wicket fell tells of a rather heroic tale of a man who wanted to win and another who was willing to support him in the most unexpected and unusual of settings.
However, an unlikely partnership forged itself with Perera still shy of a century and Vishwa Fernando walking in at the crease, with next to no expectations of him. But on the day, even an unbeaten innings of six runs would be celebrated although he would not know it yet. Perera dominated the strike as well as the South African bowlers, taking calculated chances to clear the boundary ropes as Sri Lanka continued to tease. Perhaps it was only when Sri Lanka needed twenty runs or thereabouts that the reality of Sri Lanka being able to pull off this precarious act with a batting partner who was being shielded for the most part began to really take hold.
Still with just one wicket in hand, Sri Lanka were walking a tightrope and they did so successfully until the very end when Sri Lanka emerged the deserving winners, largely because of Perera who refused to give in, changing tactics and Fernando who decided to stand his ground against all odds. The rare feat has not only kept Sri Lanka standing, an unlikely situation where South Africa must now win in Port Elizabeth to square the series and deny the visitors a rare overseas series win – unimaginable even on Sri Lanka’s previous assignment, but also, has once again kept Test cricket ravenous, hungry and in the headlines, just like it did last week when West Indies pulled off the unthinkable against England.
India and Pakistan should play in the Cricket World Cup. There is no two ways to think about this. It's bizarre that Cricket Club of India (CCI) has even pushed for a move saying that the two sides should not face each other in the prestigious event in England and Wales. Now getting to the heart of the matter, the calls for boycotting the match doesn't make sense. Questions come to the fore, why should cricket or any other sport come in between politics and terrorism. By hosting a World Cup match between the two sides, one isn't demeaning the attack made on the Indian army in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack.
In order to protest against the dastardly terror attack on CRPF convoy in Kashmir's Pulwama, the call for India and Pakistan's match being cancelled by certain sections is not the right way in moving forward. Sitting in drawing rooms in front of television sets and saying this and that should be done is an act of cowardice. So is beating up innocent Kashmiris across various cities in name of Pulwama attack. And it doesn't end just here. Even Muslims across places are being targeted since the attack happened on last Thursday, where at least 40 CRPF paramilitary troopers were killed in a terror attack while several others are battling for their lives. The incident is being termed as the deadliest terrorist strike in three decades in Jammu and Kashmir.
It's a time when we as the people of India should unite and come together. It isn't a time where we spread communal hatred, target minorities and lash out at everything. Calling for attacking Pakistan is clueless. The Indian army should get their full freedom to decide how to go about things. We do not want another Afghanistan or Iraq in the making. We do not want innocents to suffer. We also want our innocent Kashmiri brothers and sisters to be able to live peacefully. In the end, we should also bat for India and Pakistan to play cricket in the World Cup.
Mixing sports to the attack of Pulwama doesn't serve justice. Indo-Pak cricket is a way where people from all across the globe enjoy the action and come together in supporting the rivalry. It's the World Cup for Christ's sake. An Indo-Pak match is something we all should look forward too. The cricketers aren't at fault of what's happened. So are the millions of fans. So why should everyone suffer? India and Pakistan do not play bilateral series any more. Perhaps they will never in the future. But in world events as such, the freedom should exist.
What should be the focus rather is to target terrorist organizations like Jaish-e-Mohammad, who was responsible for the ghastly deeds. The army will take revenge and there will be a way to respond to all this. Let mourn our soldiers' death. Let's channel the hurt and anger towards something positive. We should not go and call for a cricket match to be cancelled. We do not agree with CCI president and feel his call for the same is immature.
The game is scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 16 at the Old Trafford in Manchester.
These are great times for Test cricket - and for the underdogs. We have just had West Indies getting the better of England in the three match series and now even more sensationally we have had Sri Lanka defeating South Africa in the first Test at Durban.
West Indies beating England was certainly a surprise but Sri Lanka shocking South Africa is clearly a much bigger upset. For one thing South Africa are ranked No 2 and Sri Lanka No 6. Secondly Sri Lanka are going through pretty lean times the ultimate humiliation being losing all three Tests to England at home where they traditionally have been formidable. Third the match was played in South Africa.
Most significantly it was the manner in which Sri Lanka pulled off one of the truly great victories in Test cricket. Right through the four days South Africa were always ahead and Sri Lanka had to get the highest total in a match of moderate scores to win it. That they did so was remarkable enough but the fact that it took an unbroken last wicket partnership of 78 runs to steer them to victory constituted a storybook finish. This was the highest last wicket stand in the fourth innings to win a Test bringing to an unbelievable denouement a match that enhanced the image of Test cricket. More games like this and we will not have the ICC chairman moaning about how Test cricket is dying.
No praise can be too high for Kusal Perera. The 28-year-old left-hander was up against arguably the best pace attack in the world even in the absence of Vernon Philander. But he not only took blows on his body and helmet he counter attacked in thrilling fashion hitting Dale Steyn and company for sixes in a tense situation. Even as last man Vishwa Fernando proved equal to the task Perera blazed forth with a series of breathtaking shots, all the time farming his strike expertly.
A stunning victory like this will do Sri Lankan cricket a world of good and they certainly could do with a morale booster. They came to South Africa after being pummelled in Australia. The captain Dinesh Chandimal was sacked. The Sri Lankan players were hardly known around the cricketing world and the team had rookies galore. Perera himself had suffered a mild concussion in Canberra just a couple of weeks ago after being struck on the head by a ball from Jhye Richardson. But after what happened in Durban things could very well change for the better. Kusal Perera has assured that.
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