News Cricket

Shane Warne comes down hard on MS Dhoni’s critics

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 11:18 AM IST


Shane Warne has slammed critics of MS Dhoni. He said anyone criticizing MS Dhoni has absolutely no idea what they are talking about. Warne believes Dhoni is a "must-have" player and he can guide his side through a tough situation.

"When things are tough, you need experienced guys in your side like MS Dhoni. For me, MS Dhoni is a great player and a must-have player in your side," Warne told ANI here on Tuesday.

"Anyone criticizing MS Dhoni has absolutely no idea what they are talking about," Warne added.

When asked about the World Cup favorites, he said: "I think India and England must go in the favourites because of the cricket they have played over the last six to 12 months but I think Australia is starting to develop that belief where they can win from anywhere again."

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News Cricket

Afghanistan add 2 bowlers for one-off Test against Ireland

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 10:49 AM IST


Afghanistan have added two uncapped bowlers in its squad for the one-off test against Ireland starting on Friday.  

Left-arm spinner Zahir Khan passed a fitness test and medium-fast bowler Sayed Shirzad was called up as another option.  

"Zahir Khan and Sayed Shirzad have very good bowling records in first-class cricket and have played in the Intercontinental Cup," chief selector Dawlat Ahmadzai said in a statement on Tuesday.  

Zahir has 34 wickets in seven first-class matches at an average of 13.14.  

Shirzad 49 wickets at an average of 25.38.  

Afghanistan whitewashed Ireland 3-0 in the Twenty20 series, but Ireland twice came from behind to level the ODI series 2-2.  

It will be second test for both teams since being awarded test status in 2017.  

Last year, Afghanistan made its test debut against India, and Ireland hosted Pakistan in its debut test.  

Afghanistan: Asghar Afghan (captain), Mohammad Shahzad, Ihsanullah Janat, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Nasir Jamal, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Ikram Alikhail, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Wafadar Momand, Yamin Ahmadzai, Sharafudin Ashraf, Waqar Salamkhail, Zahir Khan, Sayed Shirzad.

News Cricket

Former Indian player hits out at Dhoni's critics, says his place is unchallenged

Staff Writer Updated: 12 March, 2019, 5:46 PM IST


With an average of 81.75, Indian wicket-keeper batsman, MS Dhoni has regained his old touch in 2019. He was adjudged Man-of-the-Series in India's historical bilateral ODI series triumph over Australia, earlier, this year, where he scored three half-centuries in as many games. Dhoni is one of the most integral parts of team India. He brings a wealth of experience with him and is often quite helpful to regular Indian skipper, Virat Kohli.

"Juggle his batting position based on the situation. Dhoni's hitting form is very crucial, if India want to go all the way in the World Cup. His place in the side is unchallenged. He doesn't get out easily and there is no question about his wicketkeeping skills. He has played a pivotal role in the rise of two wrist spinners (Yadav and Chahal). India need Dhoni's calmness in the World Cup," Sanjay Manjrekar was quoted as saying by The Times of India.

MS Dhoni has been rested from India's squad for last two games against Australia. India and Australia will lock horns in Delhi in series-decider on March 13.

Feature Cricket

Undermining Test Cricketers

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 12 March, 2019, 4:18 PM IST


On the one hand, the International Cricket Council (ICC) claims that Test cricket has seen a record number of spectators in the past year. Yet on the other hand, closer to home, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), in its wisdom, has decided not to reward an outstanding Test cricketer.

Even as talk about Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, catching up fast on Sachin Tendulkar’s records is doing the rounds, what is being missed and raised only as if on a soon-to-be-forgotten epitaph is the mention of Cheteshwar Pujara staying on a central contract with a grading of A instead of being promoted to A+. It is interesting that while one cricketer is being hailed and rightly so, Pujara’s efforts are being placed in the same category as Rishabh Pant who has just made the grade.

At one point, mid-way through last year, Ravi Shastri, Indian coach, and Kohli, India’s captain, was staring down the barrel, as England capitalized on pivotal moments to hand India a stunning defeat even though India were widely tipped for Test series success on English shores. Even as India’s think tank were facing the possibility of an intense scrutiny, one man was silently resurrecting his own hopes and fortunes as well as India’s.

It would not be unfair to say that Cheteshwar Pujara’s century in Southampton was a warm up and a premonition of what could be expected of the sublime, understated, highly unrated cricketer. Bracketed in the Test cricket category, Pujara managed to turn around a bleak streak into a blitzkrieg down under, scoring 521 runs and three Test centuries as India pulled off their first overseas Test series win in over seventy years. At a time when it was widely expected that Virat Kohli would set the stage alight, Pujara proved first to be an anchor (batting for over 1250 balls for the series and surpassing Rahul Dravid) and then as the matchwinner that would repeatedly take India into a winning position.

In that scenario, it seems very unappreciative to keep Pujara stagnant at an A grade level instead of incentivizing performances, particularly in the Test cricket context, and elevating the player to the A plus grade. Instead he now shares the stage with Shikar Dhawan who has been downgraded from A plus to A and with Rishabh Pant who, with no disrespect to his own performances, is still a novice amongst veterans in the A grade category.

What is even more bizarre is that Rohit Sharma finds himself continuing on in the A plus grade alongside Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah although it has been said for sometime now that Rohit has been a hugely inconsistent, irregular player in India’s Test line up who has been accorded the long rope at a length. In that light, it seems rather demotivating that a cricketer who would take India to summits previously unscaled should have his status in a status quo situation while he watches young one rise up the ranks and some others being continually favoured for reasons best left to those in power. Furthermore, there is every bit the danger that every cricketer who is slotted as a Test cricket specialist feel disenchanted by the prospect, turning to more lucrative but less fulfilling formats. This is perhaps the loudest signal echoing from the powerful cricket board for over a decade, giving precedence to commercial success of the Indian Premier League over upholding the pristine integrity of Test cricket and the players who feature in it.

News Cricket

Sanjay Manjrekar announces his no.4 for India's ODI side

Staff Writer Updated: 12 March, 2019, 4:16 PM IST


Ambati Rayudu's failures in the first three ODIs resulted in his axing from the side in fourth ODI against Australia in Mohali. In the fourth game, India demoted their skipper, Virat Kohli to no.4, with KL Rahul batting at no.3. But, KL Rahul failed to impress and didn't have the right intent to strike gold in what was a big opportunity for him.

Former Indian cricketer, Sanjay Manjrekar has suggested the player that he thinks should get a go-ahead at no.4 for world's no.2 ranked ODI side.

“Vijay Shankar is my number 4 for his ability to hit sixes as well as rotate the strike. Play him as a batsman. As a bowler, he’s worth only three-odd bonus overs, not seven or the full quota of 10,” the cricketer-turned-commentator was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

Vijay Shankar has been impressive in whatever opportunities he has got so far in the limited-overs format. The fact that he can send down a few overs as well, makes him a good option for the team.

When asked about Rayudu's case for the same role, Manjrekar said: “After his 90 against New Zealand in Wellington, I was sure he had cemented his spot. But three low scores and the rise of Vijay Shankar thereafter have put his place in question.”

Feature Cricket

Camouflaging the Real Issue

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 12 March, 2019, 4:11 PM IST


Sometimes it is hard to see past the fact that some of the accusations being made appear more like projections rather than reasonable reactions. The recent statement by Ehsan Mani, of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), about the Pakistan response to the Indian team fielding in Ranchi with the camouflage cap is one such case.

Pakistan have reasons to be worried. Political connotations, terrorism fears and a bleak financial cauldron have made them insecure over the past decade. The recent Pulwama attack on India’s army personnel did not help the Pakistan’s cause to bring full-fledged cricket back home for the simple reason of the cross border infiltration that has alienated India despite the earlier stance of cricket and politics not mixing.

Over the past few years, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has tried desperately and in vain to hold the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) accountable for their loss of face and alienation of cricket on their home turf following the 26/11 attacks in 2008 that put paid to any bilateral resumption of cricket between the two warring neighbours. Even trying to sue the BCCI failed to cut it for the PCB recently.

With last month’s terror attack that cost more than forty military lives, the BCCI was forced to put forth a strong response, considering the clout cricket enjoys amongst the masses, not to mention the revenue generated particularly when a bilateral series between the two cricket playing nations is on. Under pressure to boycott Pakistan even in the forthcoming ICC Cricket World Cup, the BCCI released a statement purportedly pushing the onus on the ICC to take action towards suspending the rights of boards and nations ‘from where terror emanates’ in full knowledge that the ICC has had a history of nonchalant non-interference in political matters.

Irked perhaps by the BCCI’s overt, although lip service, gesture, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) appears to have shot itself in the foot, on the one hand, calling for the no-politicization of cricket but doing it themselves by suggesting that the Indian cricket team’s decision to don camouflage caps during the third one day international in Ranchi was politically motivated and as a manner of non-requisitioned protest that the ICC should make note of when in fact, the decision was taken reportedly long before the Pulwama attacks at the behest of Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni who has the honorary title of lieutenant colonel with the Indian army.

Even as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has promised to send an even stronger letter to take cognizance of India’s gesture on the field, it appears nothing more than another desperate attempt on the part of the PCB looking for cricket to return to the region but not finding positive response even recently from the Australian cricket team, and a response in fear of further alienation in light of India’s strong revocation of mutual, cultural gestures in the aftermath of the Pulwama attacks.

News Cricket

Men in Blue can’t have eleven Virat Kohlis in playing XI, says World Cup winning player

Staff Writer Updated: 12 March, 2019, 4:08 PM IST


Men in Blue were defeated by Australia despite scoring 358 runs in the fourth ODI in Mohali. While some have lambasted Indian bowlers for not defending such a mammoth total, other have blasted Virat Kohli for his ordinary captaincy in the absence of MS Dhoni, who is famous for his suggestions. Former Sri Lankan spinner, Muttiah Muralitharan, however, has defend the Indian team saying fans need to be more patient.

Speaking to IANS, he said it is impossible to have 11 match winners in the team and it is important to experiment before of the World Cup in England and Wales.

"You have to be patient with the team. The Indian team has been doing really well and are trying to experiment with the World Cup round the corner. You will get failures on the road to success as there cannot be 11 Virat Kohlis in the team. Not everyone can be a match-winner," he said.

"You will win some games and you will also lose a few. Otherwise, every team must be filled with 11 Kohlis or Sachin Tendulkars or Don Bradmans, but that cannot happen," Muralitharan added.

He praised Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal for their exceptional bowling display.

"I think they are doing a good job. Both are quality performers and the fact that they have done well in all conditions bears testimony to their talent. Also, why do you think someone of the calibre of R Ashwin is not being able to squeeze into the limited-overs team? It is because these two have done well. Just one bad game (in Mohali) can't be enough to criticise them. We are not dealing with robots here," he said.

News Cricket

Kane Williamson to miss start of IPL?

Staff Writer Updated: 12 March, 2019, 4:06 PM IST


New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson is doubtful for the third Test match against Bangladesh after suffering shoulder injury while fielding during the Bangladesh's first innings. The team management has decided to be more patient with Kane considering his importance and the upcoming World Cup in England.

Sunrisers Hyderabad are also monitoring his situation as he is one of their star players and has been a consistent performer in the last few editions. The MRI scans have confirmed that he suffered a grade one tear to the pectoral minor muscle in his left shoulder.

Even coach Gary Stead stated that they would be cautious with their skipper in the coming days.

“No player wants to give up their spot in the Test team. But I think it’s safe to say that we will probably err on the conservative side, and if there’s any chance of risk then we’re likely to pull him from that game.”

He is hopeful of Kane’s quick recovery.

“There’s obviously irritation and a wee bit of bleeding, it’s not a major injury,” Stead said.

“We’re hopeful that he will recover quickly, and the thing for us is to make sure he doesn’t aggravate it any more. He will come to Christchurch and we will make an assessment there on whether he plays.”

He might have to delay his departure for the IPL. “If things progress as we hope, then still going to the IPL shouldn’t be a problem to him,” said Stead.

“But he’s also aware that if he’s not quite 100 per cent, then we will potentially hold him back as well and make sure that he is right before he goes on that plane.”

News Cricket

Bollywood actor Sunil Shetty comes out in support of Pant, gives a fitting reply to his critics

Staff Writer Updated: 12 March, 2019, 4:03 PM IST


Rishabh Pant is being slammed for his ordinary wicket-keeping in the fourth ODI between India and Australia in Mohali. He spilled a couple of easy chances which proved costly for Men in Blue. Pant was booed by the Mohali crowd who kept on chanting MS Dhoni’s name to remind the former of his costly goof-ups.

Meanwhile, Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty has come out in Pant's support and even gave a fitting reply to his critics. "He’s just 21 and represents India in all 3 formats. Let’s introspect and see what we were doing at that age. Give him a chance. @RishabPant777 u are pure talent keep the focus, you got this!" Shetty tweeted on Monday night.

He is backing Pant to come good in all formats of the game. The veteran star wants critics to give one more chance to young wicketkeeper to prove his talent.

Even Shikhar Dhawan has spoken in favor of Rishabh Pant.

"Rishabh is a young bloke and like any other youngster, you have to give time to him. Rishabh is still finding his feet. You cannot compare Pant to Dhoni [bhai], given the experience he has having played over the years," Dhawan told the media in Mohali.

He added: "Of course, had the stumping chance been taken, it could have turned the game. Having said that, the game slipped away from our hands quite quickly after that. The dew also played its part in the game. But that's what it is."

Videos Cricket

Watch: Virat Kohli delivers powerful message in new IPL advertisement

Staff Writer Updated: 12 March, 2019, 4:00 PM IST


The Indian Premier League is about to start and the publicity of the tournament is in full swing with new advertisements hitting the television screen every now and then. Some of the ads have shown cricketers issuing a direct challenge to their rival players.

The motto of this year's edition is “Name chodo, game hai na, chalo name banate hai". In one of the newest ads, Virat Kohli is seen interacting with young kids, who are passionate about cricket. In this advertisement, most children try to become well known cricketers while one of them wants to go in with his own name, leading to taunts from other kids.

This is when Virat Kohli joins the group and praises that guy for trying to make his own name instead of emulating well renowned cricketers.

Virat Kohli will captain Royal Challengers Bangalore in the upcoming season of the league. Meanwhile, Men in Blue will take on Australia in the fifth and final ODI of the series, which is their last match before the World Cup. With series tied at 2-2, Virat Kohli and Co will be looking to end the campaign on a winning note.

News Cricket

Muralitharan backs Chahal after Mohali flop show, says he is not a robot

Staff Writer Updated: 12 March, 2019, 3:57 PM IST


Yuzvendra Chahal went for 80 runs from his ten overs in Mohali and took just one wicket. He was criticized for his bowling in the fourth ODI of the five-match ODI series against Australia. Former Sri Lankan spinner and World Cup winner Muttiah Muralitharan has come out in his support. He feels Chahal is a champion bowler and not some robot who can take five wickets in every game.

"You cannot expect the kid to pick five wickets every time he goes out to bowl. He is a champion bowler and has been bowling really well in the last two years. He has shown that he has the variety and the guile to dismiss opposition batsmen. It is a case of him failing in one game and trust me, he is no robot. You cannot put pressure on the boy by expecting him to deliver in every game. Have some patience," he told IANS.

Former India spinner EAS Prasanna thinks one bad game cannot ruin Chahal’s good work over the years.

"How many games has he played? Around 50 (41)? Are you telling me he has played so many ODIs for the country just like that? Let us be patient with the boy. I think the Australian players have over the years become good players of leg-spin and there is no reason to worry. He has the caliber and has proved himself in the last couple of years," he said.

Videos Cricket

Watch - Suresh Raina impresses fans with his singing skills

Staff Writer Updated: 12 March, 2019, 3:53 PM IST


Suresh Raina is one of the best players of CSK, who is famous for playing match winning innings and hitting big sixes. The left hand batsman has been sensational in the Indian Premier League and has helped his franchise in lifting three IPL titles. His international career seems to be almost over with the emergence of new players. Meanwhile, he recently decided to don the hat of a singer for his beloved CSK fans.

In a video uploaded by Chennai Super Kings, he can be seen singing ‘Whistle Podu’ track. CSK captioned the image, “The whistlemax #ChinnaThala you just can’t get enough of! #WhistlePodu #YelloveAgain.”

Reflecting on CSK’s title victory last year, he praised the entire unit.

“If you see about CSK, last year we played really well as a team, as a unit while winning the title. The team hasn’t changed much this year. As a team, all the players look to be part of winning ways and we cherish each other’s success. I hope to achieve the personal milestones in Chennai in the upcoming season,” Raina was quoted as saying by Circle of Cricket.

He further stated that the team belong to its supporters.

“I love Chennai, I love Tamil Nadu. We have a lot of fans here. I think this team belongs to the fans. The management has been just great with the players, with the support staff. We have been given the freedom to go to the ground and express ourselves. The focus is to entertain the crowd and win matches,” Raina added.

News Cricket

James Anderson announces his retirement plans

Staff Writer Updated: 12 March, 2019, 3:05 PM IST


England's James Anderson is the most prolific fast bowler in Test cricket. He is at the top of his game at present. The 36 years old has taken 575 wickets in 148 Tests at an average of 26.93. He has aged like a fine wine. He is the fourth highest wicket-taker of all time in Tests.

The premier English speedster opened up on his retirement plans, “I feel as good as I ever have,” he told Sky Sports. “With me not playing one-day cricket over the last few years, it gives me that extra time to work on my fitness and stay fresh. I never really look too far ahead but I have no plans to finish up anytime soon. I will take it series by series and see what happens,” added Anderson.

The English veteran also revealed what went wrong for the English team in West Indies where they got whitewashed by 0-2 against Jason Holder led side.

“In the West Indies, we weren’t quite sure what we were going to get – we didn’t adapt to the conditions, their bowling attack and the way their batsmen played,” he said.

Videos Cricket

WATCH: Shahid Afridi reacts to question on Team India wearing army caps vs Australia in 3rd ODI

Harshit Anand Updated: 12 March, 2019, 2:44 PM IST


When Indian players donned camouflage-style army caps in the third ODI against Australia in Ranchi, a big controversy erupted with Pakistan urging the International Cricket Council to take strong action against India after their cricketers wore army caps. It was a tribute by Indian cricketers towards the martyrs of Pulwama terror attack, which was allegedly executed by a Pakistani based terror outfit.

Famous Pakistan cricketer, Shahid Afridi expressed his opinion on the topic. He said, "Caps pehni to utar bi deen (They wore but took it off as well)"

ICC also shared its view on the controversial topic and said, "The BCCI sought permission from the ICC to wear the caps as part of a fundraising drive and in memory of fallen soldiers (in Pulwama attack), which was granted."

The PCB Chairman, Ehsan Mani had earlier said, "We believe that cricket and sports should not be used for politics and we have said this very clearly. Their (India) credibility in the cricketing world has gone down very badly. There's absolutely no misunderstanding in the ICC about our position."

There were also calls for boycotting Pakistan in 2019 Cricket World Cup after the deadly Pulwama terror attack took away lives of at least, 40 CRPF jawans.

News Cricket

ICC says India sought permission to wear camouflage caps

Staff Writer Updated: 12 March, 2019, 2:27 PM IST


The Indian cricket team was granted permission to wear camouflage caps during a one-day international against Australia in Ranchi, the ICC said on Monday.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni distributed the caps among his team members before Friday's toss for the third ODI as a way to pay tribute to 40 Indian soldiers killed in a terror attack in Pulwama.

"The BCCI sought permission from the ICC to wear the caps as part of a fundraising drive and in memory of fallen soldiers who have died, which was granted," ICC spokeswoman Claire Furlong told The Associated Press in an e-mail on Monday.

The move by the Board of Control for Cricket in India was heavily criticized in Pakistan. Information minister Fawad Chaudhry even called for the ICC to ban the Indian cricket team for mixing politics with sports.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani said he has "strongly taken up the matter with the ICC."

"There's absolutely no misunderstanding in the ICC about our position," Mani said late Sunday in Karachi. "We believe that cricket and sports should not be used for politics and we have said this very clearly. Their (India) credibility in the cricketing world has gone down very badly."

The PCB was forced to shift the three PSL matches from Lahore to Karachi last week because of the recent political tensions between Pakistan and India.

Lahore was ruled out when its air space was temporarily closed in the aftermath of Pulwama attack. But the PCB was adamant to show the cricketing world that it's safe to play cricket in Pakistan by organizing eight PSL games in Karachi.

In the past, the ICC has either reprimanded or banned international players for showing off their political sentiments during international matches.

England all-rounder Moeen Ali was banned five years ago for wearing wristbands showing off slogans "Save Gaza" and "Free Palestine" during a test match against India.

South Africa leg spinner Imran Tahir was reprimanded for showing of an image of Pakistan pop singer Junaid Jamshed underneath his playing T-shirt during a T20 against Sri Lanka in 2017. Jamshed had died in a plane crash in December 2016.

"You have two examples from the past already, where both Imran Tahir and Moeen Ali were sanctioned for something similar," Mani said. "The ICC had taken strong action against them and we have sought similar action against India. The permission they took was for a different purpose but they acted differently."