News Cricket

Unstoppable Steve Smith continues to pile up runs

AP Updated: 6 September, 2019, 10:14 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Steve Smith struck the third double century of his career to continue his extraordinary form in this Ashes series and leave Australia in total control of the fourth test against England at Old Trafford.

Replying to Australia's 497-8 declared, England finished Day 2 on 23-1 and with any hope of victory virtually extinguished.

That is largely down to Smith, whose 211 — containing 24 fours and two sixes — took his total runs this series to 589 in four innings at an average of 147.25. The only reason the Ashes urn is still up for grabs is because Smith missed the third test, won in dramatic style by England at Headingley, while he recovered from a concussion.

The teams are 1-1 with two matches left. Australia will retain the urn if the series is drawn.

Back in the team, Smith played so majestically in Manchester that he even received applause when he passed 100 and 200 from England supporters who have jeered him relentlessly this summer owing to his involvement in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.

This series, Smith — the world's No. 1 test batsman — hit 144 and 142 in the first test at Edgbaston before making 92 in the first innings of the second test at Lord's, only getting out after being unsettled by a bouncer from Jofra Archer that struck Smith in the neck.

He is tormenting England. In his last 12 Ashes innings, he has 1,419 runs from a double century, six centuries and three half-centuries.

Smith eventually fell attempting to reverse-sweep Joe Root, England's captain and part-time spin bowler, for four. Instead, he picked out Joe Denly at backward point, 28 runs short of his highest test knock of 239.

By then, Smith had become the first Australian since Allan Border in 1981-85 to score more than 500 runs in consecutive Ashes series and only the third player — after Don Bradman and Jack Hobbs — to post that number in three Ashes series.

England was its own worst enemy on Day 2, which Australia resumed on 170-3 following a rain-affected opening day.

Australia captain Tim Paine was dropped twice — on 9 and 49 — in his innings of 58, while Smith was given an unlikely reprieve after he nicked spinner Jack Leach to slip when on 118. Smith was on his way back to the pavilion, berating himself, only for replays to show that Leach had overstepped — an embarrassment for a spin bowler.

The stand between Smith and Paine for the sixth wicket was worth 145 runs.

England's bowling was sloppy throughout, with Mitchell Starc hitting 54 not out and fellow tailender Nathan Lyon making a run-a-ball unbeaten 26 before the declaration.

Archer, England's pace-bowling sensation, returned figures of 0-97 for his first wicketless innings this series. Ben Stokes went at more than six runs an over off his 10.5 overs, the allrounder failing to bowl after hurting his right shoulder midway one over.

The declaration gave England a tricky 45 minutes to negotiate and Denly couldn't last.

Promoted to opener as a replacement for the struggling Jason Roy, Denly was given a tough time by Josh Hazlewood before eventually succumbing for 4 when he turned a delivery from Pat Cummins onto his pad, the ball ballooning up and being caught at the second attempt by Matthew Wade at short leg.

Fellow opener Rory Burns hung around and was on 15, alongside nightwatchman Craig Overton (3).

A draw is the best England can realistically hope for now.

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News Cricket

Incident about Virat Kohli after his father's death makes Anushka Sharma emotional

Staff Writer Updated: 12 September, 2019, 9:34 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Anushka Sharma has stood by Virat Kohli in difficult times. The Indian skipper time and again has credited his better half for calming him down and adding perspective to his life. Virat's wife and Bollywood actor Anushka accompanied him to the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium, which was renamed after former finance minister Arun Jaitley, who passed away last month. Even a stand was named after the current Indian captain.

During the ceremony, DDCA president Rajat Sharma spoke about an incident wherein late Jaitley had visited Virat's house after his father's death.

Virat went to play a game despite personal tragedy and Jaitley had predicted great future for him.

The mention of Virat's father made both Anushka and Virat emotional.

Virat Kohli will lead India in the upcoming T20 series against South Africa. Men in Blue are in good form and won the last series in West Indies.

South Africa, on the other hand, had a disastrous World Cup and would like to win against India in order to get their mojo back.

News Cricket

Dhoni has nothing left to achieve and the decision to walk away should be his own - Viswanathan Anand

Staff Writer Updated: 12 September, 2019, 9:30 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

MS Dhoni has not played cricket since Team India's exit from the World Cup. His future remains one of the hot topics in the cricketing circles. After representing India in his fourth World Cup, he took a two-month break to serve in the Indian army.

Chess wizard Viswanathan Anand, who is following MSD since long has spoken about former skipper of India. He feels Dhoni has achieved everything in his illustrious career and should be allowed to walk away on his own terms rather than forced out.

"He (Dhoni) knows what's the right decision for him. But I think nothing is left behind or on the table for him. He has a phenomenal fan following. He had achieved everything which he had set out to achieve. He has won India two World Cups (2007 World T20 and 2011 ODI World Cup) as captain. He has been a great captain. No one can decide (when to quit) better than him," Anand was quoted as saying by PTI.

News Cricket

Sakshi brilliantly shuts down MS Dhoni’s retirement rumors with one tweet  

Staff Writer Updated: 12 September, 2019, 9:28 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Sakshi Dhoni has broken her silence on MS Dhoni's retirement from cricket. Rumours regarding his future started spreading after Virat Kohli posted a tweet on the former India skipper.

The current skipper shared a picture of a match against Australia during the T20 World Cup in 2016.

“A game I can never forget. Special night. This man, made me run like in a fitness test.”@msdhoni.”

Sakshi took to Twitter to end speculations. “Its called rumours!”

Earlier, chief selector MSK Prasad too denied such stories on MS Dhoni's career.

“No update on MS Dhoni’s retirement, the news is incorrect.”

MS Dhoni has not played cricket since Team India's exit from the World Cup. His future remains one of the hot topics in the cricketing circles. After representing India in his fourth World Cup, he took a two-month break to serve in the Indian army.

News Cricket

Rohit Sharma is world class and can succeed as Test opener in India - Adam Gilchrist

Staff Writer Updated: 12 September, 2019, 9:25 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Australian cricketer Adam Gilchrist has lauded Rohit Sharma for his performance in shorter formats. However, he feels Rohit will have to work hard if wants to succeed outside the sub-continent.

"At home, Rohit can most definitely play as opener," Gilchrist was quoted as saying by The Hindu.

"It might be more challenging when touring Australia, South Africa and England," he added.

Gilchrist further added that Rohit deceives people by his class.

"I love Rohit. We've played together for Deccan Chargers in the IPL," said the 47-year-old.

"I think Rohit deceives people. I mean, since he is a laidback (kind of) guy, people think he is not working hard enough. In reality, he is world-class," he added.

News Cricket

Peter Siddle hits back at Steve Harmison over his comments on Steve Smith

Staff Writer Updated: 12 September, 2019, 5:28 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Australian pacer, Peter Siddle has blasted former England bowler, Steve Harmison, following his attack on the former Aussie skipper, Steve Smith. Harmison had said that Smith will always be remembered as a "cheat", no matter how many runs he scores with the bat. Harmison had even remarked that he will take the cheat tag to his grave.

Siddle shot back at Harmison by reminding him of the great English deeds during the 2005 Ashes series. “It’s more of a laugh than anything because we know some stories about what has gone on in the past,” Siddle said on SEN SA Breakfast.

“A couple of his teammates from back then put out books since the 05 Ashes and talked about sugar-coating the cricket ball to get reverse swing in that series.

“That’s the irony in all that, that he actually used the word sugar-coat, when two of his teammates have talked about mints and different things to put on the ball. It actually comes back on him."

Steve Smith has scored 671 runs in five outings of the 2019 Ashes series at an average of 134.20. He has made a terrific comeback to the Test arena after facing an exile of one year post his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal.

Feature Cricket

Bowling has covered up for batting failures on both sides

Partab Ramchand Updated: 12 September, 2019, 5:07 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Australia might have retained the Ashes but the series is still open and England has the opportunity to make it 2-2 when the final Test begins at the Oval on Thursday. Steve Smith has been the towering figure of the series and clearly the X-factor in the Aussie triumph but apart from his Bradmanesque run there is very little to choose between the sides. In any case a keen contest was predicted on the eve of the series what with the teams starting out as No 4 and No 5 in the ICC rankings and that is what, more or less, we have had.

In the ultimate analysis Ben Stokes’ Headingley heroics only delayed the inevitable. Australia should have made sure of retaining the Ashes on August 25 but for a once in a lifetime knock by the star England all-rounder. It is just that the Aussies finally retained the urn two weeks later. From the point of view of the Ashes the contest is over and that is a pity for the series more than once looked like it would go down to the wire but there has been a lot of good cricket seen over the four Tests.

It is interesting to note that England won at Headingley when Smith did not play. But then it should not be forgotten that England had the better of the drawn second Test at Lord’s. Also the manner in which England fought doggedly in a bid to save the fourth Test was commendable. However the way Australia came back to win at Old Trafford following the heartbreak at Headingley was equally admirable. It is not easy to recover so quickly after a defeat like that and it showed Aussie resilience at its best.

Both sides have had to endure batting problems symbolized by David Warner who has been having a really wretched series averaging less than ten after eight innings. Travis Head who averages 27 is third in the averages and that is also indicative of how the Aussie batting has struggled. Smith’s unrivaled batting genius has helped paper over the failures.

England if anything has had bigger problems with as many as four frontline batsman, Jason Roy, Johnny Bairstow, Joe Denly and Jos Buttler managing just three half centuries between them despite playing all four Tests. In a way the bowling on both sides has helped to cover up the batting failures with Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon being outstanding.

Be that as it may all eyes will still be on Smith at the Oval. Can he get a fourth hundred? How many more can he add to his tally of 671 runs? How many more records will he break? Whatever happens at the Oval he is already the man of the series.

Feature Cricket

India-SA: A Very Special Cricket Rivalry

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 12 September, 2019, 5:01 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

A nearly three decades old rivalry whose base was a spirit of compassion, cohesion and support will be reignited once more as South Africa return to India for a three-match Twenty20 internationals and a three Test series contest.

India and South Africa may have lost a little bit of the sting as far as cricket rivalries go in recent years but only by the slightest of margins with South Africa’s aura a little bit on the wane and India looking for more power. They do share a special history that makes every contest between the two nations that much special, warm off the field and exceptionally competitive on it. The series now named the Gandhi-Mandela series speaks to not only the two nations’ shared story of oppression but also, the similarity of their spirited fight for freedom through their exceptional leaders.

Their passionate need for non-violence has not meant that the series has been watered down since South Africa’s return to the international fold post apartheid. If anything, the passionate resurgence of the South African nation starving for opportunities and recognition has often met with an equally eager India set to take on world domination. It is what has made contests on either soil enlivening, spirited and keenly contested, not to mention, thoroughly savoured by cricket aficionados around the world.

Since their readmission to international cricket in 1991, South Africa returned the favour of India’s vote by playing three one day internationals that only enamored the South African team to Indian cricket audiences instantaneously. Their extraordinary ICC Cricket World Cup debut and India accepting the generosity of being the first team to tour South Africa for a Test series in 1992 named the Friendship series marked a rather ominous entry for South Africa on the world stage, to command both, reverence and love.

Both teams have continued to endure those feelings, reignited every time a bilateral series is around the corner. From the spirited contest on India’s first tour to the contest for Test cricket supremacy at their individual heights in 2011, India-South Africa series have occupied their own unique space in the calendar brimming with contests by the dozen.

The 2019 South Africa tour of India will mark a rebirth in some ways for the South African team who have been thoroughly devastated by their ICC Cricket World Cup appearance and are looking at a virtual complete overhaul of the way they operate the game in their country. It seems almost fitting that as South Africa seek resurrection, it should be India that should be hosting them.

For Virat Kohli, the contest against South Africa will only reinvigorate him, coming back from a successful tour of the West Indies as India’s most successful captain. Given that barely two years ago, South Africa was the venue where Kohli sharpened his claws at a captain and almost emerged victorious to prepare the ground for India’s first Test series win overseas in Australia last year in over seven decades, this home series marks Kohli’s recommitment to a team with a stronger self-belief to back up. It will make the contest rather special as Kohli looks to forgo ahead while Faf du Plessis will look for redemption now entrusted with only the Test captaincy at least for this series.

Undoubtedly this series will be then played in a manner of fresh beginnings and it seems only appropriate that South Africa should test waters again with a series against India, their first, passionate, inviting hosts where they began their cricket journey once more almost thirty years ago.

News Cricket

Shakib Al Hasan doesn't have much interest in Test cricket: BCB chief

Staff Writer Updated: 12 September, 2019, 4:52 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Shakib Al Hasan is the no.2 ranked Test all-rounder in ICC rankings. But Bangladesh cricket chief Nazmul Hassan feels the Bangladesh captain doesn't have much liking for the longer version of the game.

Interestingly, the veteran Bangladeshi all-rounder has 3,862 Test runs at an average close to 40 while he also has 210 wickets at 31.12, which is really good for an all-rounder. The 32 years old did express reservations about captaincy in the aftermath of the loss against Afghanistan.

"We have noticed he did not have much interest in Test (cricket). You have seen that when we were touring foreign countries, he wanted to have a break during the Tests,” BCB chief Nazmul told reporters in Dhaka.

“Naturally he might have less interest. But we never heard that he has less interest in captaincy. If he is skipper, then he has to play. If you are not skipper, then you can skip,” he said.

“It will be best if I didn’t have to lead,” Shakib told reporters after the Afghanistan loss. “I personally believe it will be good for my game.

“And if I have to continue leading, then obviously there is a lot to discuss about (with the board),” he said.

News Cricket

Shubman Gill replaces KL Rahul for Tests against SA

Staff Writer Updated: 12 September, 2019, 4:45 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India have announced their Test squad for three-match Test series against South Africa. Shubman Gill has replaced opener KL Rahul and Umesh Yadav has also not found a place in India's squad. Barring that, there is no change in the team that traveled to West Indies for two Tests.

The likes of Priyank Panchal and Abhimanyu Easwaran, who were also said to be in the fray for selection have been overlooked. Recently, Shubman Gill had made 90 runs against South Africa A and before that he had become the youngest double centurion for India in first-class cricket against West Indies A. Rohit Sharma might well get a shot in the Test team as an opener this time around.

India’s squad for 3 Tests: Virat Kohli (Capt), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk),Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill

News Cricket

MS Dhoni to announce retirement today?

Staff Writer Updated: 12 September, 2019, 4:25 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

On Thursday morning, Indian skipper, Virat Kohli shared a photo from India's memorable win over Australia in the 2016 World T20, giving tribute to then captain MS Dhoni for putting Kohli on a fitness test in that game. From then onwards, people are speculating that Dhoni will be announcing retirement today and it was Kohli's way of giving tribute to Dhoni.

Kohli had captioned the picture and tweeted, 'A game I can never forget. Special night. This man, made me run like in a fitness test'.

Social media is abuzz with messages that former Indian captain has called for a press conference at 7 pm today to announce his retirement from all forms of the game. There is no official confirmation or announcement yet.

News Cricket

"I just love him," Rishabh Pant on MS Dhoni

AP Updated: 12 September, 2019, 4:03 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Rishabh Pant is often compared with Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He faces much more sticks than he deserves at times because of the fact that he is seen as an apparent heir of MS Dhoni. The great MS Dhoni, who is one of the greatest Indian cricketers ever forget just about wicket-keepers. MS Dhoni fans also have a gala time when it comes to criticizing Rishabh Pant. But despite all this, Rishabh Pant absolutely loves his Mahi Bhai.

"I just love him. I am focussing on my cricket and taking one match at a time. I am trying to improve every day," Pant said at an event.

Pant didn't have the best of tours against West Indies. The southpaw could make just one fifty across formats and was largely inconsistent. But, he wants to improve his game than focusing much on his failures.

"The team played really well (in the West Indies). I am looking forward to improving myself and helping team India to win more matches," said Pant reflecting on the Windies tour.

News Cricket

Steve Smith will captain Australia again: Mark Taylor

Harshit Anand Updated: 12 September, 2019, 3:20 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Australian captain, Mark Taylor is confident that Steve Smith will captain Australia again. Smith is having a memorable time in England at the moment and he has taken the Ashes series by storm. The ongoing Ashes is his Test comeback after he was banned for 12 months. Smith was found guilty of ball-tampering in Cape Town Test, last year. The ace batsman was also suspended from any leadership role for two years, which will culminate in March next year.

Mark Taylor said, "I was on the Cricket Australia board that determined the penalties for Smith, David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft over the events of Cape Town and have no doubt he will be a better leader next time around because of the very harsh lessons he learned."

"To me, it's not a matter of whether he (Smith) becomes captain again on April 1. It doesn't have to happen that quickly," he said.

"But I'd like to think when Paine is finished as Test captain -- whether that's in six months' time or two or three years -- he would be a candidate to lead the side again."

Australia's incumbent captain, Tim Paine is close to becoming Australia's first captain to win a Test series in England since 2001. Australia are leading the Ashes series 2-1 and need a draw or win in the final Test match at the Oval to script history.

News Cricket

Dilip Vengsarkar questions Kohli for overlooking Rohit Sharma from WI Tests

Staff Writer Updated: 12 September, 2019, 2:33 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

There is a lot of talk going about the potential future of India's limited-overs vice-captain, Rohit Sharma in Test cricket. With him not getting any younger and emergence of young turks in domestic cricket, now a time has come where things are in the do-or-die state for India's seasoned cricketer. Former Indian cricketer and selector, Dilip Vengsarkar has, however, backed Rohit to deliver the goods against South Africa in the three-match home Test series.

"To make him bat in the opening position or No. 3 or 4 doesn’t really make much of a difference. It is just about the mental state. It is a good thing that he will be opening; he will get a dedicated slot to bat in. He is a world-class player and has proved it. Give him a platform, and he will perform. He delivered when the whole world was watching during his innings [of 140] against Pakistan in the World Cup. He is a big-match player, so I am sure he will succeed," Vengsarkar said.

The 63-year-old added, "Leaving a player like Rohit out of the playing XI was very surprising. He is a world-class player. Would the team management have dropped him if we were playing a strong team like England or Australia? “After scoring five centuries in the World Cup and being in such great form, it was unfair to leave him out of the playing XI. We don’t know why he was dropped."

News Cricket

Steve Smith will 'always be known as a cheat': Monty Panesar

Harshit Anand Updated: 12 September, 2019, 12:42 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Steve Smith has been simply sensational in the Ashes 2019. The former Australian captain has made 671 runs at an average of 134.20 with three centuries and two fifties in five outings. He has been one of the biggest differences between the two sides. His Test career average has also reached close to 65. Smith is the no.1 ranked batsman in Test cricket.

But some former England players are insisting that despite his golden run, Smith will always be remembered as a cheat for his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal. After Steve Harmison, Monty Panesar has also opined that Smith will always be known as a "cheat".

In an interview with The Times of India, Panesar compared Smith's disgraceful moment against South Africa to footballer Diego Maradona's infamous 'Hand of God' goal against England in the World Cup.

"(Steve) Smith was probably honest with himself. He is back and doing what he always loves to do. He is batting well and scoring runs. He is a traditional Australian cricketer with the baggy green. He is exactly what an Australian cricketer looks like," said Panesar.

"We all have heard of great (Diego) Maradona and his hand goal (hand of God) in the World Cup. People remember him because of that goal. Similarly, people will always remember Smith's involvement in the ball-tampering episode during the Test against South Africa. He will always be known as a cheat, despite scoring huge number of runs.

"There is no doubt though, that he is a great talent. He has been phenomenal for Australian cricket. After some years, I am not sure how people will treat him. When his name will be placed alongside great cricketers then there will be a question that is he really a great or just a good cricketer who is also a cheat," added the former English cricketer.

Feature Cricket

The Rohit Sharma conundrum

Partab Ramchand Updated: 12 September, 2019, 12:01 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

So everything is hunky-dory about Indian cricket? The team continues to be No 1 in the ICC rankings, they are winning Test series both at home and away, the batting is strong, there is plenty of variety in the spin bowling and the pace attack never had it so good.

But wait, there is a major problem and this exists at the top of the batting order. For some time now the Indians have struggled to get off to a good start and as the sporting adage goes ``well begun is half done.’’ Various combinations have been tried out but none has really succeeded. So it is back to the drawing board as far as the opening slots are concerned.

This is where Rohit Sharma comes in and that is why there has been so much talk about his skill and experience being required at the top of the order. There is of course a big difference between Tests and ODIs and not everyone can be successful in both formats. Rohit is a prime example of this. In the shorter format he is one of the best batsmen in the contemporary game. No other single stat symbolizes this better than being the only batsmen with three hundreds in ODIs – no other player has more than one. His recent feat of scoring five hundreds in the World Cup only enhanced his reputation.

Hailing from the Bombay school of batting Rohit should have been a natural for Test cricket but his record is not in keeping with his skill, class and experience. Three hundreds in 27 matches – and two of these came in his first two innings in Test cricket – and an average of 39 is not something that Rohit will be happy about. He will also not be pleased with the fact that he has got only one half century in his last eight innings. Another stat against his name is also not very complimentary – he averages 26 in 18 away Tests.

Interestingly Rohit who is natural as an opener in ODIs has never opened in Tests. He has batted in every position from No 3 to No 6 but with the search now on for a new opener why not Rohit is the question being openly asked. The series against South Africa is at home where Rohit averages 85 after nine Tests. Given this record it is hard to ignore his claims even if he will be opening for the first time.

Rohit however has got competition from many a young talent among them Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, Priyank Panchal and Abhimanyu Easwaran. It now all depends on the selectors whether they opt for youth or experience.