Feature Tennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas will be the one to watch in 2019

Partab Ramchand Updated: 27 February, 2019, 11:38 AM IST


  • Tsitsipas is at No 11 in the latest rankings
  • Tsitsipas is deadly serious about his game
  • He also has a big serve and comes to the net more often

It’s been a quiet start to the tennis season symbolized by the fact that there are no major changes in the ATP rankings. Novak Djokovic who won the Australian Open is predictably comfortably perched on the top and Rafael Nadal whom he defeated in the title clash at Melbourne is some distance behind him. Roger Federer has fallen to No 7 chiefly because of his fourth round loss in the Australian Open to Stefanos Tsitsipas. And this brings us to the young Greek who is right now the most talked about young player on the circuit. At 20 he is the youngest player in the top 20 in the ATP rankings. And his semifinal appearance at the Australian Open where he went down to Nadal has also marked him for greater things.

For some time now the young generation has been threatening to take over from the trio of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal. At the moment they are still playing catch up with the top places in the rankings generally being occupied by the Big Three who are also having a monopoly of the Grand Slam titles. However if there is a feeling that 2019 could finally mark the transition it is largely because of players like Tsitsipas. There is little doubt that he is the leader of the GenNext of players who could take over from the top three. From being nowhere at the start of 2018 Tsitsipas ended the year ranked No 15 and not unexpectedly was named the ATP most improved player following his breakthrough season.

Obviously any further progress will be a bit slower even for this prodigiously gifted youngster but despite the intensely competitive field Tsitsipas is at No 11 in the latest rankings following his winning the Marseilles Open on Sunday. His talent and impressive record as such a tender age is not the only thing that has seen grabbing the headlines. Also attracting considerable attention is his good looks, long hair, flamboyant lifestyle and the fact that he comes from a tennis playing family. But on court Tsitsipas is deadly serious about his game which is based on being an aggressive baseliner. From the backcourt he is able to send down a stream of groundstrokes which either find their mark or are difficult to return. He also has a big serve and comes to the net more often than other typical baseline players. He has earned a lot of praise not only for his talent and all court game but also for his calm temperament which has reminded the experts of Federer, his idol. Clearly among the many challengers for the top spots Tsitsipas will be the one to watch most closely in 2019.

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Feature Cricket

Why ICC Will Not Boycott Pakistan

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 27 February, 2019, 4:30 PM IST


The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), in a plausible attempt to subvert the topic, has claimed to call upon the International Cricket Council (ICC) with a view to having a wider ban on playing Pakistan. However, while the point may be stated on the table, there is a reason why the ICC cannot and will not ban Pakistan altogether.

Even as the clamour for the BCCI led by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators to take actions has grown in the days after the Pulwama attack on the CRPF convoy, the BCCI had remained a largely mute spectator, even rendering the voices of the current crop of cricketers virtually redundant by what is being perceived as an unwritten gag. With players toying the line that they will play Pakistan in accordance with the stance taken by the BCCI and in turn, the BCCI claiming to await the Indian government directive in the matter, the matter has been a standoff although the issue about India boycotting Pakistan in cricket and cutting off sporting ties altogether has remained one of the central issues in the hearts and minds of the Indians still mourning the loss of personnel.

With public sentiment being at an all-time high on the issue, although previously India did play Pakistan at the height of the Kargil war in 1999 in the course of the ICC Cricket World Cup in England, once again the venue in June this year, the Pulwama attacks appear to have been the tipping point as far as the proxy war with Pakistan over the Kashmir issue has been concerned. Public opinion has sometimes been labeled knee jerk, emotional and irrational although there is good rationale behind cutting off sporting ties and thereby, cutting off a trail of supply of money as well as respectability for a state that has openly proved to be a safe haven for disruptive, terrorist elements.

Amongst the many tactics the CoA has employed as a way to calm enraged sentiment was to cancel the IPL opening ceremony to donate those allocated funds to the families of the martyrs which has only appeared to be a cosmetic solution to a deeply entrenched problem. Thereafter the BCCI has claimed that it was exploring all options, including India boycotting Pakistan at the ICC Cricket World Cup and also, setting up a proposal at the ICC imploring all cricket playing nations to boycott playing Pakistan.

However, while the BCCI’s word will carry weight, provided it takes the agenda to the ICC which has given no such indication to that effect yet, the ICC is embroiled in its own self-preservation muddle. Even if it were to incur the wrath of the BCCI -which does not seem wholly adamant on the idea of boycotting Pakistan which is explained by their passing their buck on to the Indian government, the ICC is currently dealing with a scenario in which only half of the Test cricket playing nations are competitive and commercially viable at best while the other half struggles for exposure, commercial revenue and competitive levels. With Pakistan forming one half of the most commercially viable rivalry, from its own commercial standpoint and to the end of safeguarding cricket as a viable sport that is struggling to grow globally on a competitive footing, the ICC cannot afford to cut off Pakistan, which has traditionally produced some great players as well as plays.

From the ICC’s perspective, struggling to hold onto those with the Test status has become as much of an agenda as bringing new teams and boards into the fold. In that light, perhaps even the BCCI knows that its lip service to assuage the angry Indian contingent is not likely to hold ground which is why it is unlikely to press matters too hard, even if it brings it up before the ICC.

News Cricket

Congress leader requests BCCI to appeal ICC to ban Pakistan from World Cup

Staff Writer Updated: 27 February, 2019, 4:06 PM IST


Congress leader V. Hanumantha Rao has requested the governing body of Indian cricket to appeal the ICC to ban Pakistan from the World Cup in England and Wales. In the letter written to the COA and the BCCI, Rao stated that he is requesting because Pakistan is encouraging terror activities on Indian soil.

He further added: “If Pakistan cricket team is not allowed to play in the World Cup, they may realize, that what they are doing is wrong and may desist with such activities in future.”

He lauded the Indian Air Force for its strikes across the border that destroyed terror camps. “I salute the bravery of Indian Air Force pilots who have made the entire country proud by striking terror targets in Pakistan.”

News Cricket

Mahela Jayawardene targets Sanath Jayasuriya for not "cooperating" with ICC

Staff Writer Updated: 27 February, 2019, 3:52 PM IST


Former Sri Lanka captain, Mahela Jayawardene has criticized Sanath Jayasuriya, who was banned for two years after admitting to breaching two counts of the ICC's Anti-Corruption Code. Jayasuriya is one of the greatest cricketers to have played for Sri Lanka. So this came as a shock for many of his cricket fans.

Jayawardene tweeted and questioned Jayasuriya that if he loves the game why didn’t he cooperate with the anti-corruption unit.

"Its a sad day for SL cricket to see one of their favorite sons getting a two year suspension from @ICC. why not cooperate? If any one loves the beutiful game in our country should expose the curupted so we protect the next genaration. #Values," read his tweet.

According to an ICC release, "Mr Jayasuriya, the former Sri Lanka Cricket Chair of Selectors, admitted to being in breach of the following provisions of the Code:

1. Article 2.4.6 - Failure or refusal, without compelling justification, to cooperate with any investigation carried out by the ACU, including failure to provide accurately and completely any information and/or documentation requested by the ACU as part of such investigation.

2. Article 2.4.7 - Obstructing or delaying any investigation that may be carried out by the ACU, including concealing, tampering with or destroying any documentation or other information that may be relevant to that investigation and/or that may be evidence or may lead to the discovery of evidence of corrupt conduct under the Anti-Corruption Code.

The release further added that "As a result of the admissions, he has accepted a sanction of a two-year period of ineligibility."

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News Cricket

Gayle closes in on a big record, set to join an elite list

Harshit Anand Updated: 27 February, 2019, 3:41 PM IST


Jamaican star, Chris Gayle is one of the most entertaining cricketers. Be it his antics off the field or aggressive batting on it, he is someone who draws attention like none else. These days, he is back to playing for West Indies' senior team. He even made a century in the first ODI against England, which was followed by a fifty in the second ODI.

The 39 years old is set to peak another scale. Gayle has 9,912 runs in ODIs after 281 innings. He needs just 88 runs to reach the landmark of 10,000 ODI runs. Only 13 men cricketers have reached 10K run-mark in ODIs so far. Gayle averages 37.4 and has 24 centuries to go with 50 fifties.

However, Gayle has 9,857 runs for Windies and will need to score 143 runs to score 10K runs for the Caribbean side. Only one batsman from West Indies has scored 10K ODI runs and he is Brian Lara. Gayle is 492 runs away from becoming the highest run-getter for West Indies in 50-overs format. Lara has 10,348 runs to his credit.

News Cricket

Jasprit Bumrah is on the verge of replacing Rashid Khan as best ‘death bowler’

Staff Writer Updated: 27 February, 2019, 3:34 PM IST


Jasprit Bumrah is one of the best fast bowlers in the world at the moment and is on the cusp of becoming the best death bowler.

He is 5 scalps away from surpassing Rashid Khan as the bowler with most wickets in the death overs (16-20).

The premier spinner of Afghanistan has picked up 33 wickets in the last five overs (all in T20Is starting from 2013) while Jasprit Bumrah is third with 29 wickets to his name.

The second spot is occupied by Lasith Malinga with 31 wickets.

Earlier, from 89-2, Australia nosedived to 113-7 as India tightened its bowling and fielding.

Bumrah struck off successive balls in the 19th over to go past 50 wickets in T20 internationals, only the second India bowler after Ravichandran Ashwin (52) to do so in this format.

With 14 runs needed from the last over, Umesh Yadav conceded two boundaries and Pat Cummins (7 not out) and Jhye Richardson (7 not out) gave Australia the win by scampering home for two runs off the final delivery.

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News Cricket

Sunil Gavaskar wants these two changes in Indian team in 2nd T20

Staff Writer Updated: 27 February, 2019, 3:13 PM IST


Sunil Gavaskar stated India should bring back Shikhar Dhawan in the side for the second T20 against Australia. The hosts were defeated in the first T20 as the Aussies won the match by three wickets on the last ball of the match.

The former Indian skipper wants Dhawan to open the innings with Rohit Sharma while KL Rahul should bat at number four.

“India would do well to bring Dhawan back and have Rahul at No.4.,” Gavaskar wrote in his column for the Times of India. “The plus point for India is Rahul’s return to form and (Mayank) Markande showing good temperament under pressure.”

He lambasted Umesh Yadav for his ordinary performance in the first game.

“Umesh Yadav, despite being around for such a long time, is not convincing as a white-ball bowler, so India could well do with a replacement for him,” Gavaskar wrote.

News Cricket

Rohit, Dhoni and Kohli on the verge of achieving personal milestones in second T20

Staff Writer Updated: 27 February, 2019, 2:55 PM IST


Indian skipper Virat Kohli, his deputy Rohit Sharma and former captain MS Dhoni are on the cusp of achieving personal milestones in the second and final T20I against Australia. The Men in Blue are trailing 0-1 in the two-match series and will be looking to win this one in order to level the series.

The batters had a miserable outing in the first match and barring KL Rahul, who scored a well compiled fifty, none of the star players contributed with their willows.

Rohit Sharma is standing just two sixes away from becoming the leading six-hitter in the shortest format of the game. He is just one hit behind the likes of Chris Gayle and Martin Guptill, who have 103 sixes to their names.

Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni are involved in a race as to who will touch the 50 T20I sixes mark first. Dhoni has 49 sixes to his name while Kohli has hit 48 in his career.

News Cricket

Gautam Gambhir gives apt reply to Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s remark

Staff Writer Updated: 27 February, 2019, 2:38 PM IST


Former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir has lauded the Indian Air Force after they destroyed terror camps across the border. He also gave a fitting reply to Pakistan PM Imran Khan's remark of responding to India’s strike at the time and place of its choosing.

The strike, which was carried out in the Balakot region of Pakistan, had the involvement of 12 Mirage 2000 aircrafts.

The attack by the IAF came 12 days after the gruesome terror attack on the convoy of CRPF claimed the lives of 44 security personnel.

"Forum (NSC) strongly rejected Indian claim of targeting an alleged terrorist camp near Balakot and the claim of heavy casualties. Once again Indian government has resorted to a self-serving, reckless and fictitious claim," said a statement issued after the National Security Committee meeting in Islamabad which was attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan. "Forum concluded that India has committed uncalled for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing."

Gambhir took to twitter to respond to Imran's statement.

"We decided the time, we decided the place and we have decided the fate @IAF_MCC @adgpi #SurgicalStrikes2 #airstrikes."

News Cricket

I deserve chances more consistently: Ajinkya Rahane

Harshit Anand Updated: 27 February, 2019, 12:53 PM IST


  • Rahane has not played an ODI since February 16, 2018
  • "Playing the World Cup is a dream every cricketer cherishes," Rahane said
  • It looks unlikely that he would get a chance in the World Cup

Indian Test vice-captain, Ajinkya Rahane is "very much hopeful" of getting a place in India's World Cup squad. India's chairman of selectors MSK Prasad, a while back had indicated that Ajinkya Rahane could be India's back-up opener at the World Cup. But Rahane was not picked in the any of the limited-overs squads to face Australia at home. The home series against Australia will be India's final international assignment before the World Cup.

"I am aggressive as a batsman but by nature, I am quite shy. I prefer to let my bat speak but sometimes it's important to speak the truth... I have believed the team always comes first and I have always respected the team management and the selectors' decision and I will continue to do that. But in the end, it is important that your performance is recognised as well. See the point that I am trying to make is that if as a player I have always played for the team, then I deserve chances more consistently. That's the least I am asking," Rahane said.

"If you see the last three-four series, my average was around 45 to 50. Yes, after that I was dropped and I went back to domestic cricket and I feel I have done reasonably well," he added.

News Cricket

Trevor Bayliss picks his favourite for the World Cup and its not England or India

Staff Writer Updated: 27 February, 2019, 12:18 PM IST


England coach Trevor Bayliss feels West Indies have the chance to surprise everyone in the upcoming World Cup and are one of the favourites for the coveted title.

“The Windies have been playing some decent cricket over the last 18 months. With the size of their batters and the way some of them hit the ball, there can be a chance of winning that World Cup,” he said.

“It is an interesting choice keeping in mind that West Indies have not won a single bilateral series for close to five years but have sprung in few surprises, especially so far in the ongoing series versus England,” he further added.

After defeating England in the Test series, Windies have shown their firepower in the ongoing ODI series too.

“I know the right West Indies combination with a fully focused side can beat anyone on their day,” Richard Pybus, West Indies’ interim coach, said. “I wasn’t at the World Cup qualifiers but, with the group of guys we have now, we feel confident could take down anyone on their day.”

News Cricket

Surgical Strike 2.0: How's the josh, says Virat Kohli ahead of the second T20 against Pakistan

Staff Writer Updated: 27 February, 2019, 12:11 PM IST


Indian skipper Virat Kohli is gearing up for the second T20 against Australia. After India's defeat in the first match, Men in Blue are in pressure to win the final game to keep the Aussies at bay.

The Indian captain was in full groove during the practice session on Tuesday along with his teammates.

It was an eventful day for the entire country as Indian Air Force took the revenge of 42 CRPF martyred by destroying terror camps across the border.

Many cricketers expressed their happiness on social media after IAF's strike. They lauded the Indian Air Force for its bravery.

Virat Kohli took to Facebook to post a picture with a thrilling caption, “How's the Josh?”

This phrase is from the recent super hit Bollywood movie, 'URI – The Surgical Strike'. It was based on Indian Army’s surgical strike in Uri sector in the valley.

News Cricket

Pakistan finally reacts to India's threat of boycott in World Cup 

Staff Writer Updated: 27 February, 2019, 11:58 AM IST


The relationship between India and Pakistan has reached an all-time low ever since the Pulwama terror attack, in which at least, 40 CRPF Jawans were martyred. The terror attack was executed by a Pakistani backed terror outfit. Ever since the cowardly Pulwama attack, there have been calls by cricketers and fans in India for boycotting Pakistan in 2019 Cricket World Cup that starts from May 30 in England and Wales. 

India are slated to take on Pakistan in Manchester on June 16. BCCI wants other cricket boards to "sever ties with nation from which terrorism emanates". PCB Chairman, Ehsan Mani, MD Wasim Khan and COO Subhan Ahmad are present in Dubai at present juncture of time. 

“Pakistan’s stance is that if India wants to give a walkover, it can’t do anything about it. But it will pose a question as to what happens if both countries again qualify to meet each other in the knockout stages,” the PCB official said.

Yesterday, India finally avenged the Pulwama terror attack, when several Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and destroyed terror camps in Balakot, Muzaffarabad, and Chakoti. ANI reported that around 3:30 this morning, 12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets of the Indian Air Force dropped 1,000 kg bombs on terror camps of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen.

News F1

With Alonso watching, McLaren's Norris fastest in F1 testing

AP Updated: 27 February, 2019, 11:31 AM IST


With Fernando Alonso watching from the pits, British rookie driver Lando Norris set the fastest time in his McLaren on Tuesday to start the final week of preseason testing in Formula One.

Norris' good run came on a relatively slow day for Mercedes and Ferrari, as both teams faced reliability issues.

Norris is part of the new McLaren lineup that also includes Spaniard Carlos Sainz. They are replacing Stoffel Vandoorne and two-time world champion Alonso, who left F1 after four seasons with the English team.

It has been a promising start for McLaren in 2019, with the team producing its best preseason performance in several years. It was able to run more laps in last week's sessions than in both weeks a year ago.

It wasn't a trouble-free day for Norris, though, as he twice faced mechanical problems at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit.

"On the whole today was a good day, although we didn't get to do quite as much running as we wanted," Norris said. "We've improved the car slightly since last week, especially on the longer runs, so we're going in the right direction, which is positive. It's important that we keep doing that."

His time of 1 minute, 17.709 seconds, which came on the faster tire compound, was three tenths of a second slower than Nico Hulkenberg's lap with Renault last week, the fastest so far this season. Pierre Gasly was second fastest with Red Bull on Tuesday, ahead of Lance Stroll of Racing Point.

Sebastian Vettel was fourth with Ferrari, with teammate Charles Leclerc seventh after being kept in the garage for a long time as the team investigated a cooling problem with his car.

"This morning we did fewer laps than planned, but I'm sure we can make up for lost work in the coming days," said Leclerc, who is debuting with the team this season.

Ferrari had enjoyed a smooth first four days of testing last week, showing good pace and reliability.

Valtteri Bottas was only 11th fastest with Mercedes on Tuesday, just ahead of teammate and defending world champion Lewis Hamilton. Bottas was stuck in the garage for most of the afternoon as the team had to change a power unit because of an oil pressure problem.

"Unfortunately, after four days of flawless reliability last week, I spent most of the day waiting," Bottas said. "But I'm glad I still got to do a few laps. The team did a really good job to get the car out again. It was important to get a bit of a feel for the new aero package. My running was obviously very limited, but it seems like we've made improvements."

Mercedes tested new aerodynamic parts to try to gain some speed compared to last week's sessions. There were relatively big regulation changes to the cars' front and rear wings compared to last season, and Ferrari appeared to arrive with a slightly more efficient design last week.

Williams, which started testing later than the other teams because a delay with its 2019 car, managed to run 119 laps with rookie George Russell.

Testing will continue through Friday at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, home to the Spanish Grand Prix in May.

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix is on March 17.

News Cricket

Shocking! Star Proteas Pacer announces retirement from international cricket

Staff Writer Updated: 27 February, 2019, 11:18 AM IST


A lot of South African players are going the Kolpak way. And another star Proteas pacer bites the dust. Duanne Olivier, who was named the Man of the Series against Pakistan, earlier this year, has become the latest South African player to announce retirement from international cricket.

He has signed a three-year Kolpak contract with Yorkshire. The 26 years old had even made it to top 20 in the ICC Test bowler rankings. And he looked a great prospect for South Africa going forward. But, just like Kyle Abbott, Olivier is also leaving South Africa at the peak of his powers.

There is a quota system prevalent in South African cricket, whereby the target is for an average of six players of color in the first XI, which often creates insecurity among players.

He was quoted by Yorkshire website as saying, “I came over to the UK last year and thoroughly enjoyed my time playing county cricket. I have since realized I could happily base myself there for the foreseeable future.

“I was originally looking to come back as an overseas player, but when I got a long-term offer from Yorkshire as a Kolpak, I knew that signing for the club would be the best option for both myself and my family.

“I would be lying if I said this wasn’t a difficult decision to make,” he added. “It’s giving up playing for my country, with no guarantees of playing international cricket again. But at the end of the day, I needed to be true to myself. I’ve only got this one chance to see where my talent can take me, and Yorkshire just felt right to me,” he added.