It is sometimes difficult to believe that Roger Federer is nearer 38 than 37 or that he has playing professional tennis for 20 years – which is the age of his opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas whom he defeated in the final of the Dubai Open on Sunday and to whom he went down in a shocking loss in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January. In fact as he jokingly said after winning the title in Dubai ``I don’t know if Stefanos was born when I won my first title.’’ But Federer is quick to spot a prodigiously gifted talent. ``It is a privilege to play against possible future champions. I am sure Stefanos will have a wonderful career.’’
In fact it seemed somehow fitting that the title clash was between a living legend and a player who is widely thought to be the next big thing on the tennis circuit. But that’s for the future. At the moment it is once again Federer’s turn to bask in the sun and his triumph was made more memorable for Dubai marked his 100th singles title. He became only the second man in the Open era to reach this figure. The Swiss is now only nine behind American great Jimmy Connors who racked up 109 titles in a 24-year career.
Competition has always been high since tennis went Open in 1968 but over the years it is getting more and more intense. Connors was a fighter who hated to lose and this hunger for success along with his all court game saw him run up his fabulous record. Given the fact that tennis is even more competitive than it was in Connors’ heyday in the 70s and 80s Federer’s is a tremendous feat. But then such feats and records have come to be expected from Federer. Every year there is some talk whether this could be his final year on the circuit. But these have remained idle talk. And why should there be any talk of retirement when he is still winning tournaments. The Dubai win took him from No 7 to No 4 in the latest ATP rankings and with Connors’ all time record being an incentive one is sure that Federer no less hungry for success will continue to be around for some more time.
In the meantime Tsitsipas hasn’t done his reputation any damage. The Greek’s runner-up position at Dubai has seen him make the top ten for the first time. His has been a remarkable climb to the top and he is clearly the leader of the GenNext of players who are hoping to take over from the likes of Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Whether that will be this year or the next remains to be seen. For the moment it is still the era of the ``Big Three.’’
Indian all-rounder, Vijay Shankar drew widespread praise after he scored 46 runs off 41 deliveries in the second ODI against Australia at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur. On a slow wicket, Shankar batted fluently and played shots that oozed class and elegance.
Shankar got a promotion and came to bat at no.5 for India. He hit five fours and a six in his 41-ball stay at the crease. His straight drives and pull shots served as eye candy for the fans.
Shankar has thrown his hat and is in the race to go to England and Wales for the Cricket World Cup that commences from May 30. He was unlucky to get run-out today but impressed one and all.
Take a look at how Twitter reacted to his dismissal:
Indian skipper, Virat Kohli scored his 40th ODI century in the second game against Australia at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur. Virat had last scored a century in Adelaide against Australia and after that, he was failing to convert his starts into a big score.
But you can't keep the King away from scoring centuries. And Kohli on a difficult wicket, when others barring Vijay Shankar struggled greatly, scored 116 runs and ensured that India reached a respectable total of 250 runs.
Take a look at some of the tweets after Kohli scored his century:
In what must look like a lifeline for the International Cricket Council (ICC), the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has brought back cricket amongst the disciplines for the 2022 games.
Cricket has always shared an awkward situation on the world stage. And it seems that although it would appear that the decision was another long rope for the ICC and for the sport to expand its exposure and interest from the perspective of globalization, several matters are still something of an uncertainty even as the OCA announced that it would include cricket back in the Asian Games scheduled for 2022 in Hangzhou.
With the ICC openly harbouring hopes of having cricket be represented at the Olympics, the Asian Games provides a platform and another feather on their resume that makes their case for the inclusion of cricket stronger. From that perspective alone, the ICC will welcome the inclusion although it will be hard pressed to influence some boards and teams about the veracity of participating in the games in 2022 and also, to the end of redefining its agendas which may and sometimes do differ from those of the opposing boards.
That said, India’s non-participation last time round did not stop the Asian Games from going ahead with cricket and also, gave Pakistan and Sri Lanka the opportunity to dominate proceedings in the natural scheme of things. With the games still being a fair bit away, speculation could go either way whether all Asian Test playing nations will throw themselves wholeheartedly into the games at Hangzhou.
While any exposure for the sport, on a global level, is a boost, what makes this scenario somewhat dubious is the fact that it has not always seen all around participation in that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) preferred their players stay home and play other tournaments vis-à-vis the Asian Games the last time it was held more than four years back. Besides in a multi format sport, there has been argument made for which format is the ideal representation at the global stage in a multi team tournament and the only reason Twenty20 appears to be winning the majority vote is mainly from the standpoint of convenience with its being the shortest format and also, requiring a lot less of the nomenclature that goes into Test cricket.
Apart from the obvious conundrum, there are, also, issues about the availability as well as viability of cricket grounds to best represent the game, something that has come in the way of cricket’s expansion plans. While time factor is being stated for why Twenty20 would be a more accommodating format, there are concerns in some quarters that the shortest format not necessarily being the ideal format to take the game to the world, the idea of cricket being represented as such could actually shortchange the game.
Although on the face of it, the inclusion of cricket in the Asian Games once more seems like cricket getting back on the propaganda wagon, how much credence and merit it holds is largely in question.
Three days after playing a match winning innings in the first ODI against Australia, MS Dhoni, the former Indian skipper, was dismissed for a first ball duck in the second match of the series. This was the fifth time when he fell after facing just one ball in his innings.
He came out to bat at the fall of Men in Blue's fifth wicket in the form of Kedar Jadhav. Dhoni tried to play a backfoot punch off the first delivery bowled by Aussie spinner Adam Zampa but the ball took the outside edge which was grabbed by Usman Khawaja at the first slip. The duck was Dhoni's 10th in one-day internationals.
Among the Indian players, Dhoni is the 16th batsman to register 10 or more ducks. The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli have registered more than 10 ducks in their respective careers.
The Indian skipper played one of the best innings of his career during the second ODI against Australia. He missed out on a big score in the first ODI of the series but made it count in the ongoing second match. The right hand batsman scored a well compiled hundred, his 40th in one day internationals. He stitched a fruitful partnership with Vijay Shankar.
Indian skipper, Virat Kohli has been in a good run of form of late. He leads India across formats and is a run-machine. In the second ODI in Nagpur against Australia, Kohli became the sixth player to score 9,000 runs in international cricket as captain, which is a big achievement.
But, what makes it even more special is the fact that he is the fastest to the 9k run-mark. He just took 159 innings to reach the landmark. Notably, no one had even aggregated 7K runs in 159 innings, forget about scoring 9k runs as captain at the highest level, which Kohli did.
At the time of filing this copy, Kohli was batting unbeaten at 86 off 92 deliveries alongside, Ravindra Jadeja. India were 201 for six after 39 overs. India are leading the five-match ODI series by 1-0.
Hardik Pandya is currently out of the Indian team following his back injury. The all-round star is undergoing rehabilitation at the moment to make a full recovery.
He had made a comeback to international cricket after his ban was revoked by the BCCI.
Hardik took to Instagram to post a picture of his workout. Yuzvendra Chahal, who hasn't played in the first two ODIs against Australia, was quick to troll his teammate over his shirtless picture.
"Bro you don't have clothing sponsor? If not please call Nike,' wrote Chahal.
Chahal has been India’s best performer in limited-overs cricket when it comes to bowling while Hardik has been battling injuries in the recent times. He was out of action for a long duration of time after suffering a horrific injury while bowling in the game against Pakistan during the Asia Cup last year.
He will be looking to make a strong comeback in the Indian Premier League after missing the T20 and ODI series against Australia.
Rohit Sharma was dismissed for a duck during the second ODI against Australia in Nagpur. He got out without troubling the scorers for the first time in ODIs in India. Looking to score runs having faced five deliveries, he played the upper cut on the short and wide delivery bowled by Pat Cummins but ended up giving a simple catch to Adam Zampa at third man. He is struggling for runs and has scored just one fifty in his last 8 innings. Earlier, Aaron Finch won the toss and elected to field first in the second match of the series.
Men in Blue went in with the same squad which had played in the first game. “We wanted to bat first, pretty much a no-brainer. Not much dew in the evening and it is a dry surface. Not typical of the kind of pitches you get here does not look like it will bounce much. We expect it to deteriorate further as the game progresses. We have the same team. We spoke about the middle order coming through when the top three does not click, so we need such games. Guys are looking for opportunities. It was a good performance for us, hopefully, we can keep it going,” Kohli said after the toss.
India have been blessed with some wonderful talents in the field of cricket. It is not easy to break into the Indian team given the kind of competition there is in the country. Indore-born cricketer, Jalaj Saxena is considered to be the best all-rounder in India's domestic circuit. He is a veteran of 111 First-Class games but he is yet to represent India.
He has done exceptionally well in the last five years and more often than not ends up among the best bowlers of the season and also does quite well with the bat. He still harbours the dream to play for India.
Jalaj Saxena currently plays for Kerala in the domestic circuit. “I still have a dream to play for India. Age is just a number and fitness is an important aspect of my life. Yoga has helped me a lot, my father is a trainer as well. Professionally, it has helped my keep calm during tough times while helping me improve concentration and flexibility,” he said while speaking to Mail Today.
“I am pretty serious about the opportunity. I want to do my best for the Capitals in whatever capacity the team wants. In this era, being an all-rounder gives me a brighter chance at playing regularly at the top level,” he added.
The governing body of international cricket has told the BCCI to get tax exemptions for conducting global events like the T20 World Cup in 2021 and fifty over World Cup in 2023. If BCCI fails to convince the government, they will have to pay the amount for hosting the events as ICC is not ready to bear the expenses.
The order issued by the ICC has not gone down well with some BCCI officials. Speaking to IANS, a senior official said that the ICC is free to take the global events out of the country as pressurizing Indian Cricket Board for exemptions would not help.
"We will abide by what the Tax Department and the Ministry decides on this. We would love for the World Cup to take place here, but if the ICC wants to play hard ball, they must be ready for everything.
"If they want to take the ICC tournament out of India, it's fine. Let BCCI then take the revenue out of the ICC and see who loses more.
"Those in-charge of administration are trying to take policy decisions without jurisdiction to do so. The ICC will find it difficult to hold the BCCI to those decisions since a lot of these decisions do not have the approval of the board," the official said.
Another official lambasted the ICC for working in an autocratic way.
"It was found earlier that the ICC had a different contract with different member boards. For example, Cricket Australia was only required to make best endeavours to get tax exemption while the BCCI was required to ensure tax exemption.
"See, this is a result of a situation where the present BCCI is found wanting. The CoA bigwig wants to show that he is in control of things and whenever that happens, the democratic functioning of an organisation is the first casualty.
"There is no way that the BCCI should agree to this. The ICC cannot on the one hand say that they aim to have an inclusive approach and on the other hand look at every possible opportunity to hurt India's interest," the official signed off.
Jasprit Bumrah has carved a niche for himself across formats in international cricket. Since making his debut in 2016, Bumrah has been sensational and is currently ranked number one in ODIs. He is followed by upcoming cricketers, who have imitated his bowling action time and again.
Months after a video of an Australia kid imitating Bumrah's action in the backyard surfaced, another cricketer has copied his action. A clip of a U-13 cricketers in Hong Kong trying to bowl like the Indian pacer has gone viral on the internet.
Hong Kong Cricket has shared a video of the kid bowling during one of the cricket tournaments. The young pacer can be seen taking a short bowling stride before picking up pace like Bumrah.
The batsman has no clue whatsoever and is beaten by the nagging line and length of the bowler.
Bumrah had responded to the video of the Australian kid, who had imitated his action. "The kid is so cute. Give him my best wishes."
Bumrah will spearhead the Indian pace attack in England and Wales.
Former Indian skipper played another match winning innings in the first ODI against Australia in Hyderabad. The veteran is enjoying a brilliant run of form in 2019 and has slammed four fifties in one-day internationals.
He has amassed 301 runs at an average of 150.50, which is the best by any player this year. He has the chance to add another record to his impressive CV as he needs just 33 runs from becoming the sixth Indian batsman to score 17,000 international runs across all formats.
The other Indian batters who have achieved the feat are Sachin Tendulkar (34,357), Rahul Dravid (24,208), Virat Kohli (19,453), Sourav Ganguly (18,575) and Virender Sehwag (17,253).
VCA Stadium in Nagpur, the venue of the second ODI, is one of the favorite grounds for MS Dhoni. He has scored 268 runs in 5 games, which is the most for any batsman at the venue.
There have been a lot of tensions between India and Pakistan ever since a Pakistan sponsored terror attack hit Pulwama, in which at least, 40 CRPF Jawans were martyred. There have even been calls for boycotting Pakistan in the ICC Cricket World Cup that begins from May 30 in England and Wales.
Former Indian player, Mohammed Kaif who was appointed as the assistant coach of Delhi Capitals, said, “Virat Kohli has said that government is going to take a call on that. It’s not about players or BCCI. They have said that the government will take a decision. So we’ll have to wait and see.”
BCCI had requested ICC to sever ties with countries which harbour terror. But ICC turned down the request. "There was no chance that anything like that would have happened. The ICC chairman made it clear that the decision to ostracize a nation is taken at the government level and ICC had no rule. The BCCI knew it all along but still took a chance," a BCCI official told PTI.
India and Pakistan are set to clash on June 16 in Manchester in the ICC showpiece event.
Kedar Jadhav’s role in the Indian cricket team bears utmost significance given his consistency and love for batting in crunch situations. The middle order batsman offers plenty of cushion for Team India with his match-winning attributes. From being an able bowler, who can give you the wickets, to that of playing strongly with the bat, Jadhav is a captain’s delight.
Jadhav was superb once again in the first ODI against Australia in Hyderabad after guiding Indian to a sensational six-wicket win. The utility man chipped in with a sublime 87-ball 81, which was studded with nine boundaries and a six. He joined hands with veteran wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni and the pair stitched a match-winning 141-run stand.
India got to the score of 240 for four in 48.2 overs after the Aussies had managed 236/7 in 50 overs. Ahead of his mastery with the bat, Jadhav also performed well with the ball after figures of 1/31 in seven overs. Jadhav has repaid the faith the side has vested in him and he has given the feeling of being an able finisher.
With the ICC World Cup 2019 starting in England and Wales from May 30 onwards, Jadhav’s influence in the team will be immense. One can expect skipper Virat Kohli to continuously turn on to the player in terms of producing moments of magic with both bat and ball. Jadhav has grown to become an experienced customer and every now and then he has played innings of substance to help India win ODI matches.
What Jadhav has shown here is that the side can rely on his experience during tricky chases. In January, his 61* helped India get past the line. Back in 2017, his knocks of 120 and 90* against England, helped the side register stiff targets in the ODI series at home.
Jadhav is a player that excels in these type of situations. In the Asia Cup in 2018, his 23* helped India beat Bangladesh in the final. Once again India were chasing in that match. This is a strong sign of a player, who isn’t afraid to go out and express himself in these situations.
When you follow Jadhav’s ODI career trajectory, while batting first, the right-hander has only one 50+ score in 18 innings. But when it comes to chasing a match, he has six 50+ scores. The statistic puts weight to his credentials as a chaser. He is someone who is growing to become like a Dhoni or Kohli, who are known to be terrific while chasing down targets.
Jadhav’s role is more than just a part-time spinner. His attributes with the ball make him a vital bowler in this ODI side. One can expect the player to get crucial overs during the Cricket World Cup. He won’t be there just to fill in the numbers. Kohli will be tempted to give him decent amount of overs and bring that impact in the middle overs. Jadhav has a knack of getting key scalps and he is often a partnership breaker.
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