News Cricket

Stephen Fleming has high praise for Hardik Pandya

Harshit Anand Updated: 4 April, 2019, 5:48 PM IST


Hardik Pandya has played three back-to-back cameos for Mumbai Indians and is looking in red-hot form. The Indian all-rounder blasted 25 runs off just eight balls to help Mumbai post a match-winning total against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium.

He along with Kieron Pollard scored 29 runs off the final over. Dwayne Bravo was at receiving the end of the Pollard-Hardik assault. Pandya not only made life difficult for CSK with the bat in hand but also bagged three wickets to break the back of Chennai's batting.

CSK coach, Stephen Fleming has heaped huge praise on Hardik Pandya. He said, “As a cricketer, I am a massive fan (of Hardik Pandya). He is a wonderful player. With his confidence up, looks like he is got a good thing going at the death, so the plans for the teams is to try and combat (him at) death.

“We are happy with what we were trying to do, we just executed it poorly. He is a quality player. Pollard as well. He is one of Mumbai’s key weapons, one of India’s key players going forward. If you keep him out of the game then you often go close to winning,” Fleming added.

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News Cricket

National selectors are delighted with Hardik's performance, here's what they said

Harshit Anand Updated: 4 April, 2019, 5:45 PM IST


Hardik Pandya played a brilliant cameo against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium. He made 25 runs off eight deliveries and changed the game on its head. He then also went on to pick up three wickets. It was Hardik's day and he was rightfully adjudged the Man-of-the-Match for his match-winning performance against Chennai Super Kings.

Speaking to IANS, one of the national selectors said “The World Cup is round the corner and as selectors, it is pleasing to the eye when you see someone like Hardik doing so well for Mumbai. It clearly shows that he has moved ahead and is focusing on his game. Whatever happened cannot be undone. But how you learn from those mistakes and rise is what is a true test of your character.”

“He has that X-factor. He is fearless in his approach. Say, you are faced with a situation in the World Cup when you have an improbable chase on hand, he could win you the game. Or if you need quick wickets, the captain can always hand him the ball. He is one of those guys who loves to rise to the challenge. An in-form Hardik is always an advantage for the Indian team," he added.

Pandya has played three successive cameos for MI and is looking in great hitting form, which bodes well for IPL side as well as India with World Cup around the corner.

Feature Cricket

NZ World Cup Squad A Balanced One

Partab Ramchand Updated: 4 April, 2019, 5:14 PM IST


If South Africa are the perennial chokers of international cricket New Zealand are the permanent bridesmaids. Their teams over the years have been good enough to make it to the semifinals of ICC competitions but no further. Yes, there have been two wonderful exemptions. One, when they won the ICC Champions Trophy at Nairobi in 2000 defeating India in the final and secondly when they got through the semifinal barrier and made it to the title clash in the last World Cup four years ago when they were no match for Australia.

So can New Zealand go all the way this time in England? If they don’t, it will not be because they have chosen the wrong team personnel. New Zealand are the first to announce their squad and on paper at least they look good enough to make the semifinals. After that it is just a question of two good games.

Both on past record and current rankings New Zealand are opponents who have to be taken seriously. They are, along with Australia, the only two teams to have made at least the World Cup semifinals on seven occasions. And their No 3 ranking puts them just behind England and India and ahead of South Africa, Australia and Pakistan. Their present form has been decidedly mixed for in the past year they have lost to England and India but have defeated Sri Lanka and Bangladesh besides sharing an away series with Pakistan.

But it is the team personnel, based on experience, that emphasizes the optimism voiced by coach Gary Stead. ``We have got a squad that we think can give us a really good chance of gong far in the tournament and if we play close to our potential then hopefully we can do New Zealand proud,’’ he said. For perhaps the first time New Zealand have two great batsmen in skipper Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor and two great bowlers in Tim Southee and Trent Boult. Martin Guptill who holds the record for the highest score in the World Cup (237 not out) is not far behind and Tom Latham has the skill and experience to excel in front of the stumps and behind them. Every department is covered for there is Mitchell Santner as the primary spinner with Ish Sodhi in support. Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme are the utility players while Henry Nichols is all set to open the batting with Guptill. There is also the dangerous hitter Colin Munro while Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry are around to back the two premier fast bowlers.

The Kiwis will be among the most experienced teams in the World Cup highlighted by the fact that Taylor, Williamson and Guptill have 526 ODIs between them. They have a balanced squad that can take heart from their past performances in the World Cup in England. On three of the four occasions they entered the semifinal and in the other missed making the cut by a whisker.

Feature Cricket

India can’t turn their heads away from Spin problems

Abhishek Chaudhary Updated: 4 April, 2019, 5:11 PM IST


It has just been a few days since India confirmed the Test Mace, Coach Ravi Shastri’s proudly flaunted the achievement on social media with a subtle dig at critics that hinged on ‘so-called away’ venue.

2019 has been one of those years – so far – where wins dilute flaws, sometimes even hide the most glaring ones. One such unmissable problem has been Indian batting’s not so confident record against the spinners. The focus has been so much about foreign conditions and the pace that comes with it that very little has been discussed about how spin has been doing all the turnaround against India.

Things would have been back to being hunky dory if the issue could have been swept under the carpet once the IPL started. But it keeps rearing its head, often pointing out how it needs immediate attention.

In T20s - partially due to the frantic action – the moot point is always death bowling, muscular hits, short boundaries, powerplay, slower deliveries et al. However, it is remarkable to notice that Indian batsmen’s struggle against spinners has largely gone unnoticed. It’s not just against international stalwarts that the cracks have opened up, some of the home-grown domestic names managed to thwart the big-hitting plan.

When big names are not involved in a fiasco, excuses come easy to defend the discrepancy. But not when the greatest batsmen of this generation – arguably though - finds himself stuck in the muddle.

The four matches that Kohli has played this season, he has found himself wanting against spinners in two of those. Against Chennai, he was undone by Harbhajan Singh, while against Rajasthan, Shreyas Gopal’s googly exposed a gulf that seems unbridgeable now. It’s not only about who dismissed Kohli, it’s also about the manner of his dismissal. He failed to ready googlies from Gopal. On first occasion, he survived an LBW appeal courtesy an inside edge but there was enough gap left between his bat on the next delivery. His stance a little opened and head facing towards the cover region; clearly the Indian captain was looking to play the drive with the spin when the ball was turning into him.

Rohit Sharma’s story has not been different so far. Although he’s been out to a spinner only once in the tournament, he has not quite looked confident against them. The usual dance down the wicket for a big swing has gone missing. The other day against Chennai, Jadeja found his edge to Dhoni with a skidder.

With India’s two brightest prospects for the World Cup struggling against spinners, the only ray of hope exudes from the way their ex-captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has handled spin. Unlike his old-self, Dhoni is not quite the bludgeoner, but he keeps finding ways to work around spinners during the middle overs before milking them for big runs at the fag end of the innings. With him likely to bat higher the order in the upcoming World Cup, Indian can feel a little relieved but cannot finalize that as a permanent solution. It’s in their best interest if Rohit & Kohli start showing some intent against the spinners in the coming days of the IPL. The bespoke practice duel for the final battle has revealed a few chinks in the armour - chinks that India must not ignore!