Feature Cricket

Team India’s bench strength strong enough to overcome Dhawan injury

Partab Ramchand Updated: 12 June, 2019, 3:46 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Just when the Indian team’s campaign in the World Cup is gathering momentum it has been dealt a serious blow. The injury to Shikhar Dhawan is more than just a setback. The left handed opening batsman got a century in the last game against Australia during which he sustained the injury. He has an excellent record in the Champions Trophy and in the World Cup. In 20 matches across the two tournaments he has 1238 runs with six hundreds and four fifties averaging 65 at a strike rate of 98. In ten World Cup matches he has scored 537 runs at an average of 53.70 and a strike rate of 94. With Rohit Sharma he forms arguably the best opening pair in limited overs cricket today. The two have put on 4681 runs together in 103 innings averaging almost 46, the fourth highest by an opening pair in ODI history.

One does not yet know the full extent of Dhawan’s injury and how long he will be out of the tournament following the hairline fracture on his left thumb. The one silver lining is that he is staying back in England where he is under observation and according to the BCCI his progress will be monitored so perhaps he could still play in the competition but in the meantime India will have to soldier along without him. There are standbys and the best among would be Rishabh Pant. But calling for him might be unfair to those already in the squad. Dinesh Karthik is around and so is Vijay Shankar and both these players were talked about as being ready to man the No 4 slot before KL Rahul stepped in. The best thing under the circumstances would be to elevate Rahul into the top slot – he is an opening batsman anyway – and go with either Karthik or Shankar in the middle order now that Hardik Pandya has also shown that he could shine at the No 4 position.

The chief point is that the team management has little to worry about. They have a precedent to go by for the triumphant 1983 squad in England too was hit by injuries. First Dilip Vengsarkar one of the pivots in the middle order was injured in the game against West Indies and he did not play again in the tournament. Then Ravi Shastri a key utility player was also injured. There was a little shuffling in the batting order, Kirti Azad was brought in and in his limited opportunities proved his worth particularly in the semifinal against England where he and Mohinder Amarnath bottled up the much vaunted batting line-up in the middle overs. The present team’s bench strength is also strong enough and even without Dhawan – for argument’s sake for the rest of the tournament – they can continue to make smooth progress.

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News Cricket

Head coach Shastri to raise India’s Yo-Yo test passing score to 17 ahead of South Africa series

Staff Writer Updated: 10 September, 2019, 12:56 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Fitness levels are taken seriously in Team India at the moment. Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri have clearly stated the need of having fit players in the squad.

Ravi Shastri, who was recently reappointed as India's head coach, has decided to raise the fitness bar. Earlier, the score of 16.1 in the yo-yo test was enough to be eligible to play for the country.

However, Shastri has decided to increase it up to 17. According to a report in Bangalore Times, Shastri will speak to Virat Kohli and other players to discuss the same.

A source was quoted as saying by Bangalore Mirror: “Fitness is integral to participation at the international level and the minimum qualification will be 17.”

News Cricket

Ex-England captains Strauss, Boycott receive knighthoods

AP Updated: 10 September, 2019, 10:12 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former England cricket captains Andrew Strauss and Geoffrey Boycott have been given knighthoods in former Prime Minister Theresa May's resignation honors list.

The two opening batsmen were the only sporting names in a list largely consisting of political figures, a nod to May's lifelong love of cricket and her admiration for Boycott in particular.

Strauss played 100 tests for England from 2004-12, scoring more than 7,000 runs at an average of 40.91, and captaining the team to two Ashes series wins. Less than three years after retiring, he became the most powerful official in the English game as managing director. He was the unseen administrative architect behind England's first World Cup triumph in July.

Boycott's 108 tests from 1964-82 brought him 8,114 runs at 47.72 — the first man to reach 8,000 in tests for England. He captained England in four tests in 1978, deputizing for the injured Mike Brearley.

At a news conference last November, May was asked in the form of a cricketing analogy about the number of ministerial resignations, or "wickets," over her handling of Brexit.

"One of my cricket heroes was always Geoffrey Boycott, and what do you know about Geoffrey Boycott?" she asked. "He stuck to it, and he got the runs in the end."

Boycott was forced to apologize in 2017 after joking that would have to "black up" to be considered for a knighthood, pointing out the honor had been bestowed on West Indies cricketers including Sir Viv Richards, Sir Garfield Sobers, and Sir Curtly Ambrose.

He was also given a three-month suspended prison sentence in 1998 after being convicted of assault against former girlfriend Margaret Moore. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2002 but made a full recovery and returned to TV commentating.

News Cricket

Michael Clarke undergoes third surgery to remove skin cancer, makes heartfelt appeal to youngsters

Staff Writer Updated: 9 September, 2019, 10:41 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Aussie skipper Michael Clarke recently went under the knife to remove skin cancer from his forehead. It was third such operation since the problem was diagnosed in 2006.

He shared a picture with a heartfelt message for youngsters.

"Another day, another skin cancer cut out of my face... youngsters out there make sure you are doing all the right things to protect yourself from the sun.”

According to a report in 7news.com.au, he has been an ambassador for the Cancer Council since 2010.

He played 115 Tests, 245 One-Day Internationals (ODI) and 34 Twenty20 International (T20I) for Australia in his international career.

News Cricket

Malinga, Mathews among ten players to opt out of Pakistan tour over security concerns

Staff Writer Updated: 9 September, 2019, 10:37 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews and eight other players have decided to pull out of an upcoming tour of Pakistan over security concerns.

The travelling team is scheduled to play three ODIs and as many T20Is in Pakistan.

Thisara Perera, who led the Sri Lanka team which toured Pakistan in 2017, has decided against going to the sub-continent country.

The Sri Lanka Cricket board briefed players about security arrangements and gave them the choice to decide about their course of action.

Following this, ten players decided to opt out of the tour.

Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, Dinesh Chandimal and Dimuth Karunaratne are the other seven players, who will not travel to Pakistan.

News Cricket

Kieron Pollard named as new West Indies' limited-overs skipper

Staff Writer Updated: 9 September, 2019, 10:34 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The governing body of West Indies cricket has decided to name Kieron Pollard as their new skipper of the national team in ODIs and T20 internationals. He has replaced Jason Holder in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and Carlos Brathwaite in the Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is).

CWI President Ricky Skerritt made the announcement in a press conference.

"We believe Kieron Pollard is the right person at the right time now to lead the West Indies team in white ball cricket".

Pollard stated that his priority will be to defend the T20 World Cup title.

"In the short term as Captain, the immediate aim is to defend the T20 World Cup. One of the discussions I hope to have is to bring back the idea of specialists playing in their best positions.

"I've played franchise all over the world and I hope to use this experience to help the West Indies in my role as captain.”

News Cricket

Rashid Khan becomes youngest skipper to win a Test match as Afghanistan beat Bangladesh

AP Updated: 9 September, 2019, 6:29 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan claimed a career-best 6-59 amid the threat of rain, sealing a 224-run win over Bangladesh on Monday in a one-off test.

The six-for in the second innings, his third five-for or more in a row, took him to 11-104 in the match, alongside scoring 51 runs in the first innings. In doing so, he joined Pakistan's Imran Khan and Australia's Alan Border to have scored a half-century and taken 10 wickets while debuting as captain.

Left-arm spinner Zahir Khan complemented Rashid with 3-59.

A shower on the morning of the fifth day forced a delayed start with Afghanistan four wickets from victory. When it finally started, it lasted only seven minutes and 13 balls before more rain fell, with Bangladesh at 146-6.

Afghanistan got the prized wicket of Shakib Al Hasan on the first ball, when the Bangladesh captain played an expensive cut shot against left-arm spinner Zahir Khan.

Shakib scored 44 runs for Bangladesh in the innings.

Rashid's relentless attacking bowling had Mehidy Hasan (12) and Taijul Islam (0) flummoxed by googly. The captain then got the last recognized batsman, Soumya Sarkar, who spooned a catch to short-leg for 15.

News Cricket

I got overwhelmed by the emotion and broke down: Kohli on his father's demise

Harshit Anand Updated: 9 September, 2019, 5:17 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

It is never easy to deal with the loss of your beloved one that too early on in your life. Virat Kohli was just 18 when he lost his father in 2006. We have all heard about the courage with which he came out to bat in a Ranji trophy game Karnataka that too despite the passing away of his father. He batted brilliantly and helped his state side, Delhi, draw that game against Karnataka.

After a long time, Virat Kohli has again opened up on that unfortunate incident and what he went through in aftermath of the sad demise of his father.

“I was playing a four-day game at the time and was supposed to resume batting the next day when this (father passed) happened at 230 odd in the morning. We all woke up but had no idea what to do. I literally saw him breathe his last,” told Graham Bensinger in an interview.

“We drove him to the hospital where unfortunately they could not help revive him. My family broke down but I could not cry and there was no emotion. I could not register what had happened and I was blank.

“I called my coach in the morning and told him what had happened and that I wanted to play because leaving a cricket match was not acceptable to me no matter what.

“While my teammates were consoling me in the dressing room I got overwhelmed by the emotion and broke down.

“Now I feel like it was the most impactful thing to have happened in my life. I came back from the game for the last rites, and promised my brother that I will play for India. My father was keen that I play for India and that was when everything in life became second priority. Cricket became first priority.

“Falling down and fighting back is part of sport and life, but the ability to comeback made me realise that one incident had made me so strong.

“The ability to comeback became so much stronger and right now I feel grateful that I could get the kind of strength from such a difficult point in life,” concluded India's skipper.

News Cricket

Media is hyping Jasprit Bumrah's rise in international cricket - Kagiso Rabada

Staff Writer Updated: 9 September, 2019, 5:04 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Kagiso Rabada has lost his touch since his injury in the last edition of the IPL. The South African pacer was below average during the World Cup in England and Wales. He is not hogging limelight these days and the fans have started liking two other pacers - Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer.

Bumrah has been phenomenal since making his debut, while Archer has done wonders for England. The two pacers played an important role for their teams in the World Cup and were lauded for their performances during the course of the tournament.

Archer has been impressive in the ongoing Ashes against Australia. Bumrah, on the other hand, was pick of the bowler in a two-match Test series against the Windies. He became the third India bowler to pick-up a hat-trick in Whites.

Meanwhile, ahead of the T20 series against India, Rabada lauded Bumrah and Archer but also took a dig at media for hyping such players.

“I admire those bowlers, they are good bowlers,” Rabada told iol.co.za. “However, the media hypes certain players, and that’s okay. I know I have been playing very well. Archer is such a natural talent; Bumrah is doing wonders, and that can force you to lift your game. You are not always at the top, that’s one thing I can tell you.”

News Cricket

Take Smith out of Australia and it would be very similar for both teams in Ashes – Joe Root

Staff Writer Updated: 9 September, 2019, 5:02 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Smith has scored 144, 142, 92, 211 and 82 in his five innings in the series so far. He missed one innings in the second test and the entire third test — which England won by one wicket — because of a concussion.

The 30-year-old Smith has been the single biggest difference between the two teams throughout the series.

Returning to test action following a 12-month ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March, 2018, Smith has — so far — scored 671 runs in this Ashes series at an average of 134.20. It has lifted his career test average to 64.81 and has been the kind of performance that has drawn comparisons with Don Bradman, who was widely regarded as cricket's greatest batsman.

And Paine had a warning which Root's England is likely to take seriously ahead ahead of the fifth test in cricket's oldest regular international series.

"Credit to Australia, it was a good partnership for them. We were not as good as we would have liked to be and consistent throughout the whole game. Bowling at Steve Smith in his form is difficult and you have to make sure you take all your chances. We did not do that and that cost us," said Joe Root.

"Pat [Cummins] has bowled good areas. He has asked good questions a lot of the time and in many ways that is a good lesson for us as a side. It has been a series dominated by the ball. Look, both batting sides have very experienced players who have not performed how they would have liked and that tells a story by itself. Take Steve Smith out and it would be very similar from both teams," he added.

News Cricket

BCCI to hike Ravi Shastri’s salary to Rs 10 crore from 8 crore

Staff Writer Updated: 9 September, 2019, 4:58 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Ravi Shastri's stars are shinning bright for him at the moment. After his reappointment as Team India's coach last month, he has received another big news. According to a report in Mumbai Mirror, he is set for a massive hike in his new contract.

The CTC of head coach will by increased by 20 percent and he is all set to earn between Rs 9.5 crore and Rs 10 crore, which is set to be Rs 1.5 crore more from his last contract.

Shastri was elated after he was given another chance to run Team India.

"The reason why I came in here is the belief I had in this team, the belief that they could leave a legacy which very few teams have left behind which other teams going down will try and emulate," Shastri told bcci.tv.

"Next two years is to see the smooth transition happening. You will get a lot of youngsters coming -- in both white-ball setup and Tests. You need to identify another three-four bowlers to add to the pool by the end of our tenure. My endeavour by the end of this tenure would be to leave the team in a happier space so that they can set a legacy in the time to come.

"You’ve got to learn from your mistakes, nobody is perfect. When you strive for excellence and strive to raise the bar then you have to pay attention to detail," he added.

Bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar are expected to draw Rs 3.5 crore respectively, while newly appointed batting coach Vikram Rathour will be earning between Rs 2.5 crore to Rs 3 crore.

News Cricket

Jasprit Bumrah can become India’s greatest fast bowler, says Anil Kumble

Harshit Anand Updated: 9 September, 2019, 4:51 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Jasprit Bumrah's rise as a fast bowler for India has been one of the most delightful things for the lovers of the Indian cricket team. The Indian pacer is ranked no.1 in ODIs and no.3 in Tests respectively. His ranking is a fair reflection of how good he has been for India across formats. He recently had a brilliant series against West Indies, where he took 13 wickets with two five-fers and a hat-trick.

Former Indian captain, Anil Kumble is of the opinion that if Bumrah continues performing well, he might well end up as India's greatest ever fast bowler.

"He (Bumrah) is a lot more consistent, he knows how to get a wicket," Kumble said. "It is not just about the skillset you have or you possess the ability to bowl in, away or a bouncer. I think the ability to bounce back and what to do when I think Bumrah has done that brilliantly and he is a great student of the game, he understands the nuances, he bowls differently to different batsmen assesses those conditions really quickly and that has been the ability of Jasprit Bumrah in this series (West Indies tour)."

"He certainly has the quality to go on and become the greatest ever fast bowler from India. I think that is something that he has and you can see those shades early in his career. He is only 25 so he has a long way ahead of him and you know it is wonderful to see the kinds of performances he has put together," added Kumble, who ended his Test career with 619 Test wickets and is still the most successful Indian Test bowler.

News Cricket

Nobody has gifted me a place in the team, I have earned it: Rishabh Pant

Harshit Anand Updated: 9 September, 2019, 3:34 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

It is not the best of times for India's young wicket-keeper batsman, Rishabh Pant. He didn't live up to the billing on the tour of West Indies. The Windies tour, which comprised of three T20Is and ODIs each and two Tests, was the first series where Pant was India's first-choice wicket-keeper batsman across formats. Despite improvement in his wicket-keeping, he failed to impress with the bat and returned with just a fifty from the whole tour.

One of the most difficult things for Pant to deal with has to be the constant comparison with the Indian legend, MS Dhoni. His failures get magnified and at times, he is criticized much more than he should be because he is taking up Dhoni's place. But Pant just wants to focus on his game than all these external things.

“I do think about the comparison with Dhoni sometimes, but it’s too difficult. If I am learning from him, I can’t possibly think that I can be in his league overnight. I am just trying to learn from him. I consider him my mentor. He has taught me so many things — be it how to work on my batting or mindset before I go to bat, and most importantly, keeping calm in pressure situations,” Pant said in an interview with Bombay Times.

The southpaw also asserted that he is in the team because he is worth it then due to anything else. “It’s good for a player to get an early break. Besides, I am not getting anything for free I have worked hard and earned my place in the Indian cricket team. Nobody has gifted that to me. Koi nahi bolta ke, ‘Bhai team mein aaja’. Aisa nahi hota hai. If you don’t perform well, you won’t be selected. It’s as simple as that. Everyone has to justify their spot in the team,” he said.

News Cricket

Everyone is talking about Smith but AUS bowling has been outstanding too: Ricky Ponting

Harshit Anand Updated: 9 September, 2019, 2:31 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The 2019 Ashes series is being talked up as the Smith's Ashes. The Aussie star has made three centuries and two fifties in the five innings that he has batted so far. He is averaging an outstanding 134.20 in the series and is the leading run-getter by a country mile. But former Australia captain, Ricky Ponting feels that Australian bowlers have done an exceptional job as well and they also need to be talked about and applauded in the same way.

"I think they (Australia) should have had a bigger lead, not just on the back of Steve Smith," Ponting told Sky Sports.

"Everyone is talking about what impact he has had, but the whole bowling department has been absolutely outstanding. Look at the difference in the bowling attacks in this game.

"(Mitchell) Starc, (Pat) Cummins, (Josh) Hazlewood and (Nathan) Lyon, match that up with the England attack. There were more holes in that England attack than the Australia one.

"They were relentless in everything they did," said Ponting.

News Cricket

Steve Waugh compares Steve Smith with Don Bradman

Harshit Anand Updated: 9 September, 2019, 12:32 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Australian captain, Steve Smith has awed one and all with his ridiculously magnificent batting exploits in the ongoing Ashes series, which has earned him comparisons with arguably the greatest ever in the sport, Sir Don Bradman.

Smith has scored 671 runs in five innings at an average of 134. He has three centuries and two half-centuries in five innings of the series so far. His lowest score of the series has been 82. He starred with the bat in the Old Trafford win too with his double-ton in the first innings of the fourth Test.

Australia's legend, Steve Waugh has compared Smith to Bradman. "I think only he could explain that," Waugh, who is working with the Australian side as a mentor, told the BBC.

"It's a phenomenal performance. It's monumental when you look back on it. To be out of the game for so long, to have so much pressure and to do so well, it's almost incomprehensible what he's done. It'll go down in the history of the game as one of the great performances by an individual in a series. I obviously didn't see Don Bradman play, but I guess it's in a similar sort of vein," Waugh said.

Waugh added by saying, "He just keeps scoring runs and it almost looks too easy. He's playing on a different level to everyone else. I guess you've just got to cash in while it lasts because we know cricket can turn around pretty quickly. But right now he's making the most of some great form."

News Cricket

I am the right man to lead England – Joe Root

AP Updated: 9 September, 2019, 10:26 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Australia retained the Ashes after beating England by 185 runs in the final session of the fourth test at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Josh Hazlewood claimed the winning wicket, trapping Craig Overton lbw, as Australia dismissed England's second innings for 197 deep into the evening session to take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.

As the holder, Australia only needs to draw the series to keep cricket's famous urn.

"We've retained it, we haven't won it," Australia captain Tim Paine told the BBC. He added: "We'll have a bloody good night."

The fifth and final test in cricket's oldest regular international series starts Thursday at The Oval.

Australia star batter Steve Smith was player of the match — and the major difference between the two teams — with scores of 211 and 82. Australia declared its first innings at 497-8 and its second at 186-6.

England, which scored 301 in its first innings, resumed Day 5 on 18-2, went to lunch on 87-4 and tea on 166-6.

Jack Leach, who scored a 51-ball 12, was promoted to No. 10 and batted for an hour with England fans hoping for a repeat of his third test heroics, or even bad light.

Australia held on to the Ashes in England for the first time in 18 years. It thrashed England by 251 runs in the opening test at Edgbaston, the second test at Lord's was drawn before England won at Headingley by one wicket to level the series 1-1.

"Bitterly disappointed," England captain Joe Root said, "to come so close to taking it to The Oval is quite hard to take."

Pacer Pat Cummins finished with 4-43 off 24 overs. He bowled Jason Roy (31) in the 18th over of the day, knocking over his off stump, and then claimed the key wicket of Ben Stokes, hero at Headingley with Leach. The England allrounder got an inside edge and was well caught behind the wicket by Paine. Stokes, who had scored just one, did not wait for a decision from the umpire and walked as Australia appealed.

That left England in deep trouble on 74-4.

Joe Denly brought up his half-century after lunch with a crisp off drive off Cummins. It was his sixth boundary and took him to 53 off 112 balls. He fell without adding further to his score when he was caught out by the bounce from a delivery from Nathan Lyon (2-51) and offered a catch to Marnus Labuschagne at short leg.

Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler came together and steadily took the score to 138-5 after 53 overs as Paine turned to part-time bowlers Labuschagne and Travis Head in the hope of breaking their concentration.

But it was Starc (1-46) that made the next breakthrough when he won an lbw verdict against Bairstow for 25. That left England 138-6, with Australia needing just four more wickets to retain the Ashes.

Australia thought it had removed Overton with the first ball after tea as Labuschagne grasped a catch fielding close to the bat but the ball had hit the body.

Buttler misjudged the line off Hazlewood (2-31) and was bowled leaving the ball. His removal for 34 left England 172-7 and needing a rearguard from the tail.

Jofra Archer did not last long, scoring only one before being trapped lbw by Lyon with a ball that kept low.

Overton formed a stubborn ninth-wicket partnership with Leach, taking the score to 195-8 off 85 overs, with 20 remaining in the day.

Australia was unhappy with what they perceived as time-wasting tactics from the England pair but Leach's resistance came to an end after Paine turned to Labuschagne's leg-spin. Leach offered a simple catch to Matthew Wade close in.

The game ended when Hazlewood trapped Overton lbw, ending his stubborn innings of 105 balls for 21. The England man called for a review but the decision stood and Australia had kept the Ashes.

"Definitely, yes," Root said when asked if he felt he was the right man to lead England.

"We have an important test match against Australia and we have to make sure we finish this summer strong: do not lose this Ashes series," he said.

"Every game against Australia matters."