Opinion Cricket

Shikhar Dhawan is a match winner, should be persisted with

Partab Ramchand Updated: 7 March, 2019, 4:30 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Slowly but surely the missing pieces in the jigsaw puzzle that is the composition of the Indian team for the World Cup are falling into place. While most were certainties two or three places remained to be filled by the fringe players and a couple of them have virtually clinched their places and the selectors should be ready with their squad by now.

However even as the finalization has just about taken place there appears to be a question mark over one of the certainties. The form of Shikhar Dhawan is causing concern and while his place is not in any danger the runs have dwindled and the big scores he is so capable of have evaporated. Dhawan is a match winner as he has proved time and again thanks to his swashbuckling approach. When he is on song the bowling has never looked so helpless. Always on the look out for runs, always ready to play the big shots Dhawan can be a nightmare for the best of bowlers. No one can question his credentials. In 124 innings he has 5199 runs at an average of 44 coupled with a strike rate of 93 and 15 hundreds.

What is causing concern is his form of late. Since the Asia Cup in the UAE last year where he topped the figures with 342 runs from five innings at an average of 68 and a strike rate of 102 Dhawan has managed only 376 runs in 15 innings at an average of 26.85 with just two half centuries. With KL Rahul breathing down his neck Dhawan cannot afford to prolong this run. Indeed on the eve of the ODI series against Australia Virat Kohli spoke very highly of Rahul saying that his sparkling strokeplay strengthened his case for the World Cup.

Question marks have been raised about Dhawan’s technique in the past but this time the experts feel that it is the mindset that is the cause for his lean patch. They are convinced that once he gets out of this mental block he will be back to his buccaneering days when he just toys with the bowling.

The key question is whether Dhawan should be dropped for a match or two to help him regain his rhythm and confidence. With just the three matches in the ongoing series before the World Cup it would be better if he is retained and hope that he finds his form. In any case one would think twice before breaking up one of the most successful opening partnerships in ODI history. And perhaps the most encouraging fact is that Dhawan has always come off in England. He was the player of the tournament in the Champions Trophy in 2013 and again topped the run getters list in the Champions Trophy four years later.

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News Cricket

Watch: Virat Kohli’s lookalike steals the show in Nagpur

Staff Writer Updated: 7 March, 2019, 4:48 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Virat Kohli's wife and one of the most famous Bollywood actresses Anushka Sharma was over the moon when she saw her doppelgangers picture. She had even messaged her in order to touch base.

Meanwhile, Virat Kohli's lookalike was spotted during the second ODI between India and Australia in Nagpur.

He was donning the Indian jersey and the crowd even cheered for him when they saw him on the big screen.

The same fan had turned up during an India-Australia ODI in 2017.

The Indian cricket team has landed in Ranchi. The JSCA stadium will host the third ODI of the series between India and Australia.

Men in Blue could seal a series win against Aussies with a victory in Ranchi. The hosts are leading the five match series 2-0, having won the games in Hyderabad and Nagpur.

Feature Cricket

WADA’S BCCI Headache for ICC

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 7 March, 2019, 4:33 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Even as the muted euphoria over the re-induction of cricket into the Asian Games continues to do the rounds, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is having to deal once more with the WADA’s BCCI headache as the Olympics deadline looms perilously close.

The WADA, or the World Anti-Doping Agency, is the longest, perhaps trickiest obstacle for the ICC en route to seriously making a case for cricket to make the disciplines at the global sports event, the Olympics. While the percentage of opposition towards becoming WADA compliant is minuscule in terms of numbers, it is a powerful obstacle standing in the way given that it is the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), arguably the richest and most powerful cricket board in the world, which has not only been resistant to the idea of pushing cricket at a global event but also, and perhaps more importantly, been opposed to bringing the cricketers under the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) towards making becoming WADA compliant.

With less a week before the review committee of the WADA accepting the ICC proposal for the induction of cricket into the Olympics, once again the BCCI’s opposition is proving to be a perennial thorn in the flesh, once more hurting the agenda of the ICC to push for its globalization efforts through giving cricket exposure through the world sporting events.

While the BCCI is complying with another WADA approved anti doping and testing agency, that it has had its reservations about NADA and therefore, refusing to allow its cricketers to follow through with the NADA regulations compliant for other sports in the country, unless the sport as a whole comes under WADA including the Indian cricket team under the NADA regulations, the ICC will have a tough task pushing its agenda forth. The BCCI, on its part, has stated categorically in the past that given certain discrepancies that involved NADA in other sports, it is not trusting enough of the agency to subject its cricketers to testing under that body.

Although the rest of the cricket playing nations have raised no objections even a decade ago, the BCCI has long been withholding its cricketers from being subjected to the NADA testing, which has made compelling the Indian cricket team to come under WADA impossible and the ICC left languishing for want of unanimous support. The BCCI has been solitary but staunch in its opposition to the point that the ICC’s ambitions for cricket’s global landscape have had to repeatedly bite the dust.

However, notwithstanding India’s opposition, the ICC is determined to make a push once more, this time sending forth its strongest member in the ICC Chairman himself who was the BCCI chief before abdicating the latter position. However, while the BCCI officials might lend their ear, it is highly unlikely that the BCCI would be immediately in agreement. While the ICC will look to buy time, there is, also, a concern that given the fallout of Shashank Manohar with key BCCI officials in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s involvement, the issue could become more personal than professional which could further stall the ICC’s Olympics ambitions for as early as 2028 in Los Angeles.

News Cricket

Should Pant and Rahul get selected for WC? Zaheer Khan and Ajay Jadeja opine  

Harshit Anand Updated: 7 March, 2019, 2:49 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Team India is currently playing a five-match ODI series against Australia. Their preparations for the World Cup are going in full swing at the moment. Majority of the side that will travel to England and Wales for the World Cup are decided but there are few spots here and there, which are up for grabs. 

There are question marks over the inclusion of KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant. Former Indian cricketers, Zaheer Khan and Ajay Jadeja weighed in over the selection of KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant keeping the World Cup in mind.

“One of the two will definitely reach. Only time will tell whether both of them go to England or just one of them makes it,” Zaheer said in a video by Cricbuzz. 

“KL Rahul is definitely going,” said Jadeja to which Zaheer said, “I think Rishabh should definitely go.” Jadeja further added, “I agree with him but KL is a surety because a lot of times a captain is compelled to do so. Now that Rahul has scored in his last two games and the team is about to be made, if you don’t fail you are certain to make it.”

News Cricket

Former Indian cricketers reveal main reason behind Shikhar Dhawan's poor form

CT Contributors Updated: 7 March, 2019, 2:27 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan is struggling to score runs in shorter formats of the game. Since his fifty in New Zealand, the left hand batsman has failed in nine innings with 30 being his highest score.

Nathan Coulter-Nile got better of him in the first ODI in Hyderabad while he was undone by part-timer Glenn Maxwell in the second match in Nagpur.

Former Indian cricketers Aakash Chopra and Vijay Dahiya, who have played with Dhawan for their state Delhi, feel there is no problem with his technique and he will turn it around in the upcoming games.

“There is no denying Dhawan is going through a bad patch but with only three international matches left, I don’t see any drastic changes happening,” Chopra told PTI on the eve of the third game.

“If he has scored 5000 plus ODI runs (5199 from 125 games), it means that he has been around for a reasonable period of time, seen ups and downs to have scored that many runs. “His record in multi-nation tournaments (World Cup, Champions Trophy, Asia Cup) is fabulous, so it could well be a matter of time that he is back in form,” he added.

Dahiya thinks Dhawan's current slump is because of his mindset.

“I won’t say technique is a big issue here as the boundaries that he got were all in-front of the wicket. May be not on the off-side but those were not behind the stumps shots either,” said Dahiya, who believes that every individual reacts to pressure in different situation.

“What he was trying to do was to score quickly and that’s what happened against Maxwell. He probably felt that since Maxwell is a part-time, he can score quickly and that’s why played that pull shot,” Dahiya said.

News Cricket

Shikhar Dhawan names this Pakistani pacer as his all time favorite bowler

CT Contributors Updated: 7 March, 2019, 2:20 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Shikhar Dhawan's poor form has become a matter of concern for Team India ahead of the World Cup. The left hand batsman couldn't do much in the first two ODIs of the five-match series against Australia.

After the ongoing series, star players of India will represent their respective IPL franchises in the upcoming edition of the league.

Shikhar Dhawan was bought by Delhi Capitals in the IPL auction and the franchise took to twitter on Thursday to post a video of their star player, where he is seen answering a series of questions.

When he was asked about his favorite bowler, he named Shoaib Akhtar. “I like Shoaib Akhtar a lot," he said.

His reply has come at a time when the political tension between India and Pakistan is at peak.

However, despite all the differences, players from both countries have always shared a close bond.

News Cricket

Star Indian player ruled out of tournament

CT Contributors Updated: 7 March, 2019, 2:17 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

One of India's most reliable middle order batsman Ajinkya Rahane has been ruled of the Super Leagues stage of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He led Mumbai in the group matches and according to Ajit Agarkar, the chairman of selectors, Rahane needed some rest to recover from niggles.

"He was carrying niggles even during the league phase, which he kind of pushed through when we were in a bit of trouble. But he would not be 100% (for Super League)," ESPN Cricinfo quoted Agarkar as saying.

Mumbai topped the Group C, winning five out of six matches. However, Rahane scored just 58 runs in six matches at an average of 9.67.

Rahane, who is an important member of the Rajasthan Royals, is expected to be fit for the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League.

News Cricket

AB de Villiers likely to be fit for IPL

Staff Writer Updated: 7 March, 2019, 2:14 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

AB de Villiers suffered a back injury during the Pakistan Super League and his IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore are in a fix since the next edition of the league is just two weeks away.

However, AB de Villiers has given a good news ahead of the 12th edition. He has stated that the doctors have suggested him to take two weeks rest, meaning he might get fit in time for the IPL.

“I saw my doctor who has advised complete rest for two weeks,” AB de Villiers was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.

Having retired from international cricket, AB de Villiers will be available for the whole season of the league.

He was in good touch in the Bangladesh Premier League and Pakistan Super League before being ruled out of the latter because of an unfortunate injury.

News Cricket

Dhoni, Sakshi host Team India for dinner: Thank you bhai and bhabhi, says Chahal

CT Contributors Updated: 7 March, 2019, 1:43 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

MS Dhoni and his wife Sakshi hosted the members of Team India for dinner at their farmhouse. Yuzvendra Chahal took to twitter to thank Dhoni and Sakshi for hosting the team. "Thank you for last night @msdhoni bhai and @SaakshiSRawat bhabhi," he wrote.

India will take on Australia in the third ODI in Ranchi on Friday. As the team landed in Dhoni's land, he took over the driver duties for his teammates. In the video posted by the BCCI, he is seen driving some of the players in one his cars as soon as they came out of the airport.

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Earlier, he got a rousing welcome upon his arrival.

The game in Ranchi could be his last international appearance at his home turf. He is expected to retire from international cricket after the ICC World Cup in England and Wales.

Men in Blue could seal a series win against Aussies with a victory in Ranchi. The hosts are leading the five match series 2-0, having won the games in Hyderabad and Nagpur.

News Cricket

Have South Africa found their Dhoni? Faf du Plessis thinks so

Staff Writer Updated: 7 March, 2019, 12:50 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

In the second ODI between South Africa and Sri Lanka, the hosts won the game easily by 113 runs to take a lead of 2-0 in teh five-match ODI series. However, an interesting incident took place during the course of the match. Proteas regular wicket-keeper, Quinton de Kock went off the field while Sri Lanka was batting. 

It compelled South Africa to hand over the gloves to David Miller, who is an absolutely brilliant fielder. And he made the most of his stint as the Proteas stand-in gloveman. Moreover, he also got compared to India's great MS Dhoni after he took off the bails in a rapid manner much like Dhoni in the 32nd over of the visitors' innings. 

The batsman at the strike was Vishwa Fernando. he was adjudged not-out since his foot was inside the crease. But Miller's quick hands made Dhoni's Chennai teammate and South Africa skipper, Faf du Plessis term him as MSD.

Watch the video below:

News Cricket

Malinga slams his team after second ODI loss against South Africa

Harshit Anand Updated: 7 March, 2019, 10:46 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

South Africa thrashed Sri Lanka by 113 runs in the second ODI at SuperSport Park, Centurion to take a lead of 2-0 in the five-match ODI series. Sri Lanka captain, Lasith Malinga was not pleased with Sri Lanka's performance at all. In fact, he came hard at his teammates after Sri Lanka put up a poor show yet again.

He said, “I think they [Sri Lankan [players] didn’t understand. I feel this is not a gift. They have talent. That’s why they’re playing for the national team. They have to understand that. They have to understand their own value. We have done enough talking. Players have to realise they have to value these opportunities. They don’t come around every day. They have to grab it.”

“First 10-15 overs we did not bowl well. But we corrected ourselves and restricted them to 250. Very good effort from the bowlers,” added Malinga.

Sri Lanka had registered a historic Tests series over South Africa. But, they have failed to live up to the billing in the ODI series thus far. The 2019 Cricket World Cup isn't too far away, so this doesn't bode well for the no.8 ranked Sri Lanka and they need to improve their performance sooner than later.  


 

News Cricket

Good news for Pakistan: Shane Watson gives nod to play PSL matches in Pakistan

AP Updated: 7 March, 2019, 10:19 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Shane Watson will play for his franchise in the Pakistan leg of the PSL.

The Australian all-rounder has scored 332 runs in Pakistan's premier domestic Twenty20 competition while representing Quetta Gladiators, which has already qualified for the playoffs after winning seven of its nine games.

Watson didn't come to Pakistan in the previous two editions of the PSL and only played in the league matches in the United Arab Emirates. Initially, Watson had agreed to play in the UAE in this year's tournament, too, but said he changed his mind.

"It has been a tough decision, more so from my family's point of view, and it all comes down to the support that my wife and my family has given me," Watson said in a statement Wednesday. "I am very excited as it has been 14 years since I was in Pakistan last."

The Pakistan Cricket Board sees the PSL as a pathway to regain the confidence of foreign teams for the resumption of international cricket at home.

Karachi will host eight PSL matches because the PCB moved three matches from Lahore to the southern port city last Sunday after political and military tension between India and Pakistan.

News Cricket

World Cup winning coach returns to coaching

AP Updated: 7 March, 2019, 10:15 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Darren Lehmann is set to take over as coach of the Brisbane Heat in Australia's Twenty20 Big Bash in what will be his first domestic appointment since quitting the national job in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.

Lehmann was Australia's head coach from 2013 until March last year, when three players were embroiled in a cheating scandal during a test match against South Africa in Cape Town.

A veteran of 27 test matches and 117 limited-overs internationals for Australia, Lehmann said he had no knowledge of the scheme to change the condition of the match ball. A subsequent Cricket Australia investigation found he was not involved the episode.

Steve Smith and David Warner, who were then captain and vice-captain, were each suspended for one year and opener Cameron Bancroft received a nine-month ban for their parts in the scandal. Lehmann quit days later because of the toll the scandal took on the team.

Brisbane Heat general manager Andrew McShea on Thursday said Lehmann, who coached the Queensland state team to a domestic Sheffield Shield title and the Heat to their only Big Bash League title in 2013, would assume his position next week.

The left-handed Lehmann scored 25,795 runs in first-class cricket in Australia and England. His test ambitions were restricted because of the strength of Australia's batting depth from the mid-1990s but he was a regular in the one-day international team, scoring the winning runs in the World Cup final at Lord's in 1999.

News Cricket

Bowlers lead South Africa to win over Sri Lanka in second ODI

AP Updated: 7 March, 2019, 10:12 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

South Africa's fast bowlers came to the rescue after a batting collapse to deliver a 113-run win in the second one-day international on Wednesday.

The victory gave the home team a 2-0 lead in the five-match series, but the result wasn't on the cards after South Africa lost its last six wickets for 21 runs to fall to a mediocre total of 251 all out batting first. The South Africans were dismissed with nearly five overs of their 50 left unused at SuperSport Park.

South Africa's quicks ran through Sri Lanka in response, though, with Kagiso Rabada taking 3-43, Lungi Ngidi 2-14 and newcomer Anrich Nortje 2-25. Sri Lanka was bowled out for 138 in the 33rd over.

Those three fast bowlers combined to reduce Sri Lanka to 116-6 and there was no way back for the tourists after that.

Legspinner Imran Tahir chipped in with 2-39 and there was a late appearance by Dale Steyn, who joined the game as a substitute fielder and took a simple catch at point to dismiss last man Lasith Malinga and end the match.

South Africa was on course for a 300-plus score after being put in to bat. Opener Quinton de Kock hammered 94 off just 70 balls with 17 fours and a six. Captain Faf du Plessis made 57 to follow his century in the first game.

But du Plessis' dismissal, bowled by Thisara Perera in the 37th over, sparked the South African collapse.

The Proteas went from 220-4 to 251 all out, with Perera finishing with 3-26 and Malinga and Dhananjaya de Silva taking two wickets each.

Rabada cranked up the pace and struck first in the third over when Niroshan Dickwella couldn't deal with a fast, short delivery and looped a top edge to wicketkeeper de Kock. He picked up another two down the order.

In his debut series, Nortje contributed two wickets and also a run out, when he hit the stumps with his throw from third man to remove Kusal Mendis for 24. He also had top-scorer Oshada Fernando put lbw next over as Sri Lanka fell to 92-5.

News Cricket

Watch: MS Dhoni takes driver seat for Men in Blue

Staff Writer Updated: 6 March, 2019, 10:31 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The Indian cricket team has landed in Ranchi. The JSCA stadium will host the third ODI of the series between India and Australia. It is no more a secret that MS Dhoni loves driving bikes and cars. After arriving in his home town, he wasted no time in assuming driver duties for his teammates.

He was seen driving some of his teammates in one of his cars as soon as they came out of the airport upon their arrival in Ranchi.

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Earlier, he was given a rousing welcome by the local fans at the airport.

The game in Ranchi could be his last international appearance at his home turf. He is expected to retire from international cricket after the ICC World Cup in England and Wales.

Men in Blue could seal a series win against Aussies with a victory in Ranchi. The hosts are leading the five match series 2-0, having won the games in Hyderabad and Nagpur.