Indian opener Smriti Mandhana hammered the fastest T20I fifty by an Indian batswoman in the first T20I against New Zealand. Notably, she surpassed her own record. Mandhana blasted fifty off just 24 deliveries. Her previous record was reaching the fifty in 25 deliveries against England.
The Indian women team are chasing 160 runs in the T20I series opener in Wellington. India were 110 for three at the time of filing this copy. They require another 50 runs off 38 deliveries with seven wickets in hand. India women team had registered a 2-1 win in the three-match ODI series against the Black Ferns.
The dashing Indian player scored 58 runs off 34 deliveries with the help of seven fours and three sixes. She finished with a strike-rate of 170.58. She was in blazing form in the preceding ODI series as well. Mandhana was also the recipient of 2018 ICC 'Women's Cricketer' and 'ODI Player of the year' awards.
While Lionel Messi gave Barcelona reason to feel optimistic about his ability to play in Wednesday's Copa del Rey semifinal, Real Madrid's main concern is who to leave out for the "Clasico" game.
Messi returned to training on Tuesday and was included in the squad for the first-leg match at Camp Nou Stadium, although it was still unclear whether he had fully recovered from a right leg injury.
"The most important thing is for the player to tell you that he is ready," coach Ernesto Valverde said. "Regardless of what the tests show and what the doctors say, if the player doesn't feel he is ready, you can't let him play."
Messi showed no signs he was bothered by the injury during the opening few minutes of the training session, which were open to media, as players warmed up and played keep-away.
However, Valverde said he will not take any risks with Messi or any other player.
"If it was the last match tomorrow, than it would be different," he said.
Barcelona has kept quiet about the full extent of Messi's injury since he was hurt in a Spanish league match on Saturday.
Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari said the uncertainty about Messi wasn't affecting his team's preparations.
"It's always good to have the best players playing in every match," he said. "Whether he plays or not, it's not going to influence how we prepare for the game."
Madrid arrives for the match at Camp Nou enjoying its best period of the season and with nearly all of its players available. Solari has all of his best forwards, including an in-form Karim Benzema, the quickly maturing Vinicius Junior, and a fully fit Gareth Bale.
"It's harder when you have all the players available, because it means you have to leave someone out," Solari said. "It's one of the hardest parts of the job for a coach."
Bale is one of the many Madrid players who have recovered from injury in recent days, along with other forwards Mariano Diaz and Marco Asensio. Bale returned as a starter on Sunday alongside Benzema and Vinicius Junior as Alaves was beaten 3-0 in the Spanish league, the team's fifth consecutive win in all competitions.
Solari may not start Bale with Vinicius Junior on Wednesday as they usually play on the same part of the field and their presence could make the squad too unbalanced and more vulnerable defensively.
There is little doubt Benzema will start, as he has six goals in the last four matches. The French striker has 18 goals, six more than he had in all of last season.
It would also be hard to leave out Vinicius Junior, who has taken full advantage of Bale's absences to become a regular starter and a popular player with Madrid fans. The 18-year-old Brazilian has added flair to the attack.
Messi was hurt when Barcelona drew with Valencia 2-2 at home, a result that halted the team's eight-game winning streak in the Spanish league. The club has yet to release a full medical report on the injury, and he didn't practice with his teammates on Monday.
Messi has scored in nine straight games in all competitions, and is the league leading scorer with 21 in 22 matches.
He missed Barcelona's 5-1 league rout of Madrid in October because of a broken right arm. He was rested two weeks ago when Barcelona lost at Sevilla 2-0 in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals.
Valverde said his team won't change the way it plays if Messi is absent, and that his participation shouldn't be seen as a key factor.
"I don't think it (Messi playing or not) changes which team will be considered the favorite," he said. "I don't think there is a favorite in a semifinal between Barcelona and Real Madrid."
Ousmane Dembele, who had trained separately on Monday, also re-joined his teammates in Tuesday's practice, but he was not included in the squad list for Wednesday's game.
The first leg of the semifinal in the Copa del Rey is the first of three matches between the rivals in less than a month.
Sarfraz Ahmed will continue as captain of Pakistan to the Cricket World Cup despite being banned for a racial taunt last month.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has a policy of appointing captains series by series, but took the unusual step of backing Sarfraz to at least July as captain of the test, one-day international, and Twenty20 teams.
"I was always clear in my mind that Sarfraz would be the captain (for the Cricket World Cup)," PCB chairman Ehsan Mani said beside Sarfraz at a news conference in Lahore.
"I was keen to speak with him on the team's recent performances ... about his own future plans as we all know he has undergone some tough times as a professional cricketer in the past few weeks."
There was speculation in the local media about keeping Sarfraz as the captain after he was banned for four matches by the ICC for racially taunting South Africa all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo in an ODI two weeks ago in Durban.
Sarfraz, playing wicketkeeper, was heard on a stump microphone saying in Urdu: "Hey black man, where is your mother sitting today? What (prayer) have you got her to say for you today?"
He apologized to Phehlukwayo, and publicly. Sarfraz added he won't stop talking behind the wickets, and Mani criticized the ICC for banning him, believing the apologies were enough.
When Mani was asked whether he was sending a message to the ICC by reappointing Sarfraz as captain, the chairman said: "I don't want to go into politics, it's nothing like that we wanted to send some sort of a message."
Mani added: "Sarfraz has been an integral part of the Pakistan cricket team's World Cup preparations and has proved to be a good strategist, leader and performer."
Since being made captain two years ago, Sarfraz has led Pakistan to 21 victories in 35 ODIs, including winning the Champions Trophy in 2017 in England. Under Sarfraz's leadership, Pakistan has risen in the ODI rankings from ninth to fifth.
Sarfraz said he was delighted the PCB showed its faith in him again.
"It is the dream of any international cricketer to play in a World Cup," Sarfraz said. "But to be appointed captain in the biggest cricket spectacle on the planet is something that is extremely special."
After being banned, Sarfraz returned home and Shoaib Malik was named as the stand-in captain for the last two one-dayers and the three-match T20 series. Pakistan lost the ODI series 3-2, and has lost the T20 series 2-0. The third and last match is on Wednesday.
Pakistan has limited-overs series against Australia and England in the lead-up to the Cricket World Cup in May in England and Wales.
Pakistan last won the Cricket World Cup in 1992 under Imran Khan, now the country's prime minister.
Sri Lanka dropped captain Dinesh Chandimal from the test squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa.
Sri Lanka Cricket asked him to play domestic games to regain his form.
Opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne is the stand-in captain of a 17-man squad for the two-test series starting on Feb. 13.
Chandimal's omission follows scores of 5, 0, 15, and 4 in the two recent test losses against Australia.
The squad includes three uncapped players: Batsman Oshada Fernando, seam bowler Mohmed Shiraz, and left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya.
Sri Lanka's pace attack is depleted because of injuries to Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, and Nuwan Pradeep.
However, Suranga Lakmal is back after missing the second test against Australia. Specialist opening batsman Kaushal Silva is also back having missed the Australia series.
Allrounder Milinda Siriwardana was recalled after nearly three years.
The tests are in Durban from Feb. 13 and in Port Elizabeth from Feb. 21.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Milinda Siriwardana, Dhananjaya De Silva, Oshada Fernando, Angelo Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Chamika Karunaratne, Mohamed Shiraz, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Embuldeniya
After winning the five-match ODI series 4-1 against New Zealand, now the team will lock horns with hosts in three-match T20I series. Ahead of the first T20I in Wellington on Wednesday, Rishabh Pant, who was overlooked from the ODI side was seen sweating it out in the nets to get himself in the groove in what can be a golden opportunity for him to prove his credentials in white-ball cricket and perhaps, audition for a spot in middle-order for the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
In a video shared by BCCI, the Indian youngster was seen playing an audacious shot in the form of reverse flick. He changed his stance at the very last moment and then flicked a full ball with perfection.
India Squad for T20Is: Rohit Sharma (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (WK), Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, Shubman Gill, Vijay Shankar, Hardik Pandya.
Ravi Shastri has compared Virat Kohli to two legends of the game. In an interview with Cricbuzz, he lavished praise on the Indian skipper after he won all the major ICC awards. According to him, India is lucky to have a captain like Virat Kohli. He feels Virat is like Imran Khan and Vivian Richards, the two greatest players in the history of cricket.
“But here is a guy who is as dominant as Sir Vivian Richards. The closest I have seen to the great man. Virat is in your face, he wants to dominate and has a work ethic like no one else. Whether it comes to discipline, training, sacrifice or self-denial, it is unbelievable.
“I think India is lucky to have a leader of that sort. He reminds me of Imran Khan in many ways — in the way he sets the example and sets the standards, and goes about defining it in his own way and leading from the front,” Shastri further said.
Virat Kohli sits atop of most of the batting charts. There is no better batsman in the world than Kohli at this juncture of time. It is not like he has become an overnight star. The 30 years old has been a consistent performer for India over the years.
He is often dubbed as the "run-machine." Kohli averages a whopping 59.51 in One-day internationals. It has been a format, where he is comfortably better than any other batsman by a country mile. The Indian batsman has 10,533 runs in 214 ODI innings. The 30 years old has 39 centuries and 49 fifties to his credit.
Once there were doubts over Virat's caliber in Test cricket but no one ever dared to question Kohli in ODI cricket as such has been his phenomenal run in the format. The Delhi dasher has taken the craft of ODI batsmanship to a sky-high level with his skill and tenacity.
But, somehow, Kohli has failed to transform his lofty batting standards into runs when it matters a great deal in big games of ICC megaevents.
Take a look at how Kohli has fared in ICC's 50-overs knock-out games:
|2011 WC Quarter-final||Australia||24|
|2011 WC Semi-final||Pakistan||09|
|2011 WC Final||Sri Lanka||35|
|2013 CT Semi-final||Sri Lanka||58*|
|2013 CT Final||England||43|
|2015 WC Quarter-final||Bangladesh||03|
|2015 WC Semi-final||Australia||01|
|2017 CT Semi-final||Bangladesh||96*|
|2017 CT Final||Pakistan||05|
In nine innings, Kohli has 274 runs at an average of 39.14. The Indian skipper has crossed the fifty-run mark just twice in nine innings and has as many as four single-digit scores. For a man known as a prolific century-maker, the right-hander doesn't even have a single century. Kohli is yet to cross even fifty after having featured in three ICC megaevent finals.
These numbers are clearly not something that you would associate with a freak of nature like him. Even his fifties have come when openers have laid a solid platform.
In 2013 Champions Trophy semi-final, the Men in Blue needed 182 runs to win against Sri Lanka. And thankfully for India, openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan combined in a partnership of 77 runs, which greatly eased off the pressure from Kohli.
Kohli's other fifty came against Bangladesh in the semi-final game of 2017 Champions Trophy. India required 265 runs to qualify for the finale. Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan laid a solid platform and gave India the early momentum. They added 87 runs for the first wicket in 14.4 overs to sway away hopes of Bangladesh, if there were any after they scored a below-par total on a flat wicket.
I am not discounting his performances in the aforementioned games but clearly, the situation was less demanding in comparison to some of the others. Kohli's 43 in 2013 Champions Trophy final against England has been his best of the lot.
But still, overall, his underwhelming performances are of no match to the lofty standards set by the man himself. Kohli is the face of consistency in 50-overs format, and his below-par average of 39.14 in these big games, clearly highlight to a chink in his armory. It doesn't bode well with the aura of a modern-day legend.
Also, it is not like Kohli has played one or two games that we can term these performances as an exception. It is clearly a pattern of underachievement. Nine innings is enough to leave a mark. They say cometh the hour, cometh the champion. But Kohli has often went missing in big ICC 50-overs games.
AB de Villiers was often termed a "choker" for his average performances in knock-out games of ICC events, by a vast section of cricket fans. But when it comes to ODI knockouts in ICC megaevents, even he has a better average than India's talisman, though marginally. De Villiers averages 40.25 after appearing in five ICC ODI knockouts (World Cup and Champions Trophy).
2019 Cricket World Cup is just a few months away. Virat Kohli's India looks as dominant as ever. Kohli has been in sublime touch of late. But, would he be able to finally perform like the Kohli we know or the ICC's 50-overs knock-out games will again prove too bigger a challenge for him to conquer?
That only time will tell. But, he would not get a better opportunity than the upcoming ICC megaevent to conquer the only evident chink, which one can pinpoint to in Kohli the ODI batsman.
Even in the midst of the euphoria surrounding the West Indies scoring their first Test series win over England since 2009 (or any high ranking team for that matter since 2012), there has been a dampener in the form of the West Indies captain being penalized with one match ban for slow over rate. Now as he is being asked to appeal the decision, here is where the conundrum lies.
Jason Holder was clearly the star of the first Test in Bridgetown, Barbados. For one, he scored a double century that made a huge difference in the run making tally of both teams, elevating one and denting the other. Besides his batting exploits, Holder was a useful bowler, picking up crucial wickets that told of West Indies’ gift in having the all-rounder in their Test team and on their side. In the constellation of island nations that boast of talented all-rounders but not enough to go around their own circuit, particularly in the longer format of the sport, Holder has been a beacon of hope for the beleaguered island nations that once dominated the sport.
In the second Test, the captain was at it once more, marshalling his resources to ensure England flattered to deceiving, wilting under the conditions of the pitch and the persevering stance of the hosts in Antigua. Picking up wickets to support the other frontline bowlers, Holder became the instrument with which the team inflicted unexpected, shocking damage on the visitors, buoyant after their home series victory over India and a whitewash handed to Sri Lanka in the Emerald Isles and certainly not expecting to be so brutally exposed and upstaged.
However, even as West Indies won hearts once more for the comprehensive manner in which they subjugated England in the second Test to win by ten wickets to follow up their first Test win by 381 runs, there was a twist in the tale. Holder was being punished for the teams slow over rate and as a result, would have to miss out the third Test in St. Lucia.
Customary for captains around the world to bear the brunt of the bowlers’ lag time and any team decisions that may have eaten into the mandatory ninety overs to be bowled in a day, Holder’s problem would not be so unique or unusual other than the fact that it would be not only a little disappointing for the team savoring the victory in a decade but also, severely hampering the team’s chances for a possible whitewash given Holder’s prowess and exploits.
It was not surprising in that context that amongst the dissenters of the rule was former Australian spin legend, Shane Warne, who contended the decision should be appealed since the match did not go the distance of five days. While that has been the argument made on several occasions, the conundrum lies in the fact that the duration of the game cannot be the yardstick by which punishment is meted out for slow over rates. The problem lies in the fact that if Holder was let off the hook in this one instance, given the jubilation that is marking West Indies’ current success, it sets up a precedent for other teams to use at a later date when their own team is facing a similar punitive action for the same offence. It is this issue that has polarized opinion in the aftermath of the Test, particularly since this has been a series that has garnered attention, as an afterthought much like the debate about the penalty.
Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar wants team management to rest MS Dhoni from the upcoming five-match ODI series against Australia and give Rishabh Pant a long run keeping World Cup in mind. Gavaskar also stated that he would like to see Pant at No.4 and 5 rather than coming down the order to hit sixes and fours.
When asked if he would like to see Dinesh Karthik's as MS Dhoni's back-up option in the World Cup squad, Gavaskar said, “I would also keep Rishabh Pant. He brings that left-handedness in the top lineup as well. And I would look at playing him in the team. I will look to play him in the five one-dayers that India plays against Australia in about two weeks time. That will give us a fair idea about how the young kid is shaping up and give him some little more responsibility at say 4 or 5 because at No.6 or 7 he just going to bang...bang and blast it around and that is not what you want to see. What we want to see is may be something like what happened today, three wickets down with not too many and then he comes in and looks to play the ones and the twos, settle down and then hit the big shots to score 70 or 80 or even a hundred. That left-handed option in the middle order is very crucial. All I am saying, take a punt with Rishabh Pant."
Pant has been part of 3 ODIs so far and has scored just 42 runs in two innings. Gavaskar also backed Karthik as the third opener for India in the World Cup.
"The left-handed option in the middle order I think is very crucial. I would look at Dinesh Karthik as the third opener because you want to carry a spare opener in your 15 anyway. Even if you have three wicket-keepers in your squad, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, and Rishabh Pant, so be it. I think it will give the team just a little flexibility with the batting," he added further.
Indian head coach Ravi Shastri feels Kohli has a lot to learn as captain and he is still evolving. Speaking to Cricbuzz, he praised Virat Kohli for outsmarting Australia in Australia but believes there is always room for improvement.
"As far as I am concerned, tactically, there is still room for plenty of improvement as captain. He has gotten better and better, and better, and I thought in the Australian Test series, tactically he outsmarted Australia. I still see more room across formats for him to evolve. As a captain, Virat will evolve further," Shastri told Cricbuzz.
He also said Virat Kohli winning all the ICC awards is a rare occurrence and he don't think anyone will ever do it again.
"Starting with the ICC awards (achieving all awards in the same year), I don't think anyone will ever do it again. It is something very rare because you need two things to happen to win all awards in a single year. You need to be a captain of a very good cricket team across formats, that allows you to win two awards as the best captain of the ICC Test team and the ICC ODI team. So obviously your team is one of the best in the world and it has never happened in Indian cricket before. So an Indian captain gets it, and I want to focus on those two awards more than the personal awards that he has won.
"You will not get a repeat of that in these two biggest formats of the game. And there is no award for ICC T20 captain. So your team has to be that good that you can win those awards. Whether we get accolades from our guys back home or international media, I give two hoots. When my captain wins those two awards, that's a tribute to the team. So the boys can be at peace. And Virat knows it," he said.
India defeated Australia in Australia for the first time in purest form of cricket. Indian cricket team under Virat Kohli registered a historic 2-1 series triumph in Whites. After India's magnificent triumph, head coach Ravi Shastri termed it as a bigger achievement than the 1983 World Cup title victory.
"I will tell you how satisfying it is for me. World Cup 1983, World Championship of Cricket 1985 - this is as big, or even bigger, because it is in the truest (Test) format of the game. It's Test cricket, which is meant to be the toughest," Shastri had said.
He was lambasted for undermining the importance of World Cup win in England. In an interview with Cricbuzz, he refused to move away from his earlier stand and stood by what he had said in Australia.
“In 1983, I was in the dressing room. In 1985, I was in the dressing room. In 2018-19, I was in the dressing room. Why do I rate this? Because Test cricket is the purest form and we came to Australia as heavy weight champions of Test cricket, home and away. We were not favourites - no team can come to Australia as favourites because Australia will chew them out. But we were not underdogs to come and surprise them either. We came as number one Test side and we played as the number one Test side, and we won,” Shastri said.
Ravi Shastri has heaped ultimate praise on Kuldeep Yadav and labelled him as India's No.1 spinner in Test cricket ahead of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. He was impressed with the way Kuldeep performed in the Sydney Test. He picked up five wickets despite not being part of the playing XI for the first three matches of the series. He has played six Test matches and picked up 24 wickets at an average of 24.12. Shastri feels Kuldeep has done enough to seal the spot ahead of two veterans if India play one spinner.
"Yes, and I was very impressed with the way Kuldeep bowled in Sydney. Even in Test cricket, it is going to be the age of wrist spin, especially in overseas Test cricket. The way he bowled in Sydney, he becomes our number one spinner in overseas Test cricket.
"He plays overseas Test cricket and he gets five wickets, so he becomes our primary overseas spinner. Going ahead, if we have to play one spinner, he is the one we will pick. There is a time for everyone (referring to Ashwin's poor fitness record in 2018). But now Kuldeep is our frontline number one overseas spinner," Shastri told Cricbuzz.
Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma make up for a hot and happening couple. One is the king from the field of cricket while the other one is a tinsel town diva. They are desirable, loved and have a huge fanbase. Since the time of their coming together, fans just couldn't get enough of this power couple.
Virat and Anushka are currently holidaying at some unknown place. But they are keeping their fans updated with their lovey-dovey pictures on social media. This time around, Virat Kohli took to Instagram to post a picture that shows the couple taking a walk in a forest.
Check out the picture here:
Indian skipper Virat Kohli has been rested by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for the last two ODIs and the entire T20I series against New Zealand.
Rohit Sharma has been captaining India in the absence of India's regular skipper. Recently, India defeated New Zealand by 35 runs in the fifth and final ODI in Wellington on Sunday to win the series 4-1.
Impossible is nothing for MS Dhoni as he can do anything on cricket field. He can finish games, win trophies and can also speak in Marathi. During the fifth ODI between India and New Zealand, he was heard giving advice to Kedar Jadhav in Marathi.
The Indian all-rounder was delighted and took to Twitter to express his feelings. "You always feel at home on foreign tours when @msdhoni is behind the stumps... But this moment came as a real surprise..."
Earlier, India sounded an emphatic warning to rivals at this year's cricket World Cup when it completed a 4-1 series win over New Zealand on Sunday, taking the final one-day international by 35 runs.
Coming into the series, India was second behind England in ODI world rankings and only eight points ahead of New Zealand which was third and had just completed an impressive 3-0 sweep of Sri Lanka.
India's convincing series victory away from home suggested it will mount a formidable World Cup challenge in England in the middle of the year. On Sunday it demonstrated resilience and versatility in rallying from 18-4 to reach 252, using up all but one ball of its 50 overs. It then bowled out New Zealand for 217 with 35 balls remaining.
Shikhar Dhawan has lauded Rishabh Pant for his performance in international cricket. According to senior pro, Dhawan has become an asset for the team due to his ability to chance the course of a game in a short span of time. Pant, who was the ICC's Emerging Cricket of the Year, is returning back to side for the T20 matches against New Zealand after being left out of the one-day international series which India won 4-1.
"He is an aggressive batsman, an asset for the team, can take away games from opposition in a very short span of time. I hope he grabs this opportunity (in T20s) with both hands," said Dhawan.
The upcoming series could lead to much-needed rest for Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, as Ravi Shastri hinted after India lifted the ODI series trophy.
"We too are humans and our bodies need a bit of rest. Of course, we would be looking to win the series and carry the momentum back home for the Australia series," said Dhawan on the eve of the game.
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