News Cricket

Watch - 10000 fans pack Chepauk Stadium for Dhoni’s rock star welcome

CT Contributors Updated: 18 March, 2019, 2:50 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

MS Dhoni is the undisputed king of Chennai Super Kings. The adopted son of Chennai has led his IPL franchise to three titles since inception of the league in 2008.

Ahead of CSK's tournament opener against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, fans filled the Chepauk stadium to get a glimpse of their most favorite superstar.

As soon as he came out to bat, chants of Dhoni Dhoni were heard around the stadium. Over 10,000 fans flocked to the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai to watch the Chennai Super Kings practice session.

Here's the video:

Meanwhile, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli will lock horns when their franchises Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) take on each other in the first match of the Indian Premier League on March 23.

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News Cricket

Watch - Dhoni, once again, plays hide and seek with fan in CSK’s Practice session

CT Contributors Updated: 18 March, 2019, 1:56 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

MS Dhoni is followed by millions, who are ready to do anything for their favorite cricket star.

They have dodged security to enter the field and meet MS Dhoni.

During the limited-overs series against Australia, one of Dhoni's fans had entered the field to greet the former Indian skipper.

Dhoni, who is renewed for his humoristic side, had played hide and seek before meeting him.

Similar incident happened at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday during Chennai Super Kings' practice game. Dhoni was once again chased down by a fan but the Indian wicket-keeper was in no mood to let him fulfill his wish easily. He played hide and seek game with him before security came in.

While security was taking him away, Dhoni went up to his fan to shake hands. The memorable fan-boy moment was captured on camera and was shared by Chennai Super Kings on their Twitter handle with the caption, "Catch Me If You Fan #AnbuDen Version! #SuperPricelessThala @msdhoni and the smiling assassin @Lbalaji55! #WhistlePodu"

News Cricket

Rishabh Pant is not thinking about the World Cup

CT Contributors Updated: 18 March, 2019, 12:52 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Rishabh Pant has stated that he is not thinking about the World Cup. According to him, his sole focus is on the IPL and he wants to win the T20 league for his franchise. The left hand batsman is in tussle with Dinesh Karthik for the second wicket-keeper’s slot.

"Frankly, I am not thinking about the World Cup. Yes, looking back the season; it has been a good year for me. On a personal level, it's good going. Of course, there are ups and downs in cricket always but that's how you learn. I am too young and what I constantly do is learn from my seniors. They have been in tough situations and they know how to tackle them. I just keep learning," added Pant, speaking to Mail Today in Gurugram.

Pant will go by what Virat Kohli wants out of him and will stick to his aggressive batting style.

"There's been a pressure, I know that. But I'm not thinking about it too much. I'm learning from every game and trying to make a difference. I will do what the skipper wants me to do. He will tell me where to bat, where to play and at what position. I will stick to my game and try to do the best for the team."

News Cricket

Younis Khan to coach Pakistan’s U-19 team 

CT Contributors Updated: 18 March, 2019, 12:50 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Younis Khan has been appointed as the coach of Pakistan's Under-19 side. PCB chairman Ehsan Mani cited the example of Dravid who has done an outstanding job with young Indian cricketers. Younis will also manage the responsibility as the chief of the national junior selection committee.

“A decision has been taken in this regard within the PCB but the announcement will be made soon after completing a few formalities,” the source said.

“Younis will be given full powers as head coach and also chief selector of the national junior selection committee and he will be assisted by another former Test player, Nadeem Khan who is in line to be appointed as manager,” the source said.

“In the past there has been a tendency to change coaches and managers of the junior team after one or two series and this has hurt the progress and development of the junior players,” the source said.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli depends a lot on MS Dhoni in ODIs

CT Contributors Updated: 18 March, 2019, 12:49 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former India skipper and head coach Anil Kumble believes Virat Kohli is more comfortable when MS Dhoni is behind the stumps. MS Dhoni was rested in the last two games against Australia and Virat couldn't motivate the team in his absence.

“I think he is certainly more comfortable, rather saying better captain; he is probably a lot more comfortable when MS is behind the stumps and then the conversation between him and Virat definitely helps him make the right decisions,” Anil Kumble said in a conversation with Cricket Next.

“I mean it comes naturally to MS,” said Kumble. “He had been the captain for a long long time. He is behind the stumps so he reads the game better than anybody else. He obviously is in conversation with the bowler on the kind of lines that he needs to bowl, the kind of pace that the bowlers need to bowl. And also with the field placing.”

Virat Kohli is often seen in consultation with the former skipper when it comes to DRS and field placement. Kumble further added that its pretty obvious Virat needs Dhoni to achieve success in one-day internationals.

“I think Virat certainly depends a lot on MS Dhoni in One Day Cricket, for him to have those proper field placings. So that is something he probably had missed in the last two matches. And if you look at last 10 or 15 overs – the second half or the final powerplay Virat is generally manning the boundary. So yes, when MS is there he is on the boundary line and suddenly he had to man the last two overs and the last ten overs under pressure. So yes he certainly depends a lot on MS Dhoni,” he added.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli to end his IPL career with Royal Challengers Bangalore

CT Contributors Updated: 18 March, 2019, 12:47 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Virat Kohli is the only cricketer who has played for one franchise in IPL. The RCB skipper has acknowledged that he will not leave Royal Challengers Bangalore in his career. Kohli admitted that he can’t see himself playing for another franchise.

“To me, it (playing for RCB) has been a most special experience. I don’t see myself leaving or playing for any other franchise,” Kohli was quoted saying to the reporters during RCB’s official app launch.

Despite Virat Kohli's brilliant performance with his willow, Royal Challengers Bangalore have not tasted success in the league. Virat Kohli has amassed 4,948 runs at an average of 38.36. According to him, bad decision making has undone his franchise in the tournament.

“The (RCB’s) failure lies where decisions aren’t made properly. If I sit here and say our luck was bad, that won’t be right. You make your own luck, and if you make poor decisions and the other team makes good ones, you will lose,” he added.

News Cricket

Bangladesh cricketers arrive home after mosque shootings

AP Updated: 18 March, 2019, 10:09 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Bangladesh's cricket team arrived home after its tour of New Zealand was abandoned following the Christchurch mosque shootings a day earlier.

Forty-nine people were killed after a gunman attacked two mosques in the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand's modern history.

A bus carrying members of the Bangladesh squad had just driven into a street near one of the mosques when the shooting started. Players and support staff had planned to pray at the mosque before continuing on to the Hagley Oval ground where it was due to play the third test.

The match, which was due to start on Saturday, was cancelled and the Bangladesh squad flew home.

"We had a sleepless night after the incident," said the team's stand-in captain Mahmudullah. "We are lucky to escape and can't imagine what would have happened had we entered the mosque just five minutes earlier. Thanks to the BCB (Bangladesh Cricket Board) for bringing us back to the country very quickly."

BCB president Nazmul Hassan said: "The players are still in a traumatic state. It will take time for them to recover."

Bangladesh was whitewashed by New Zealand in the three-match series of one-day internationals and also lost the first two tests.

News Cricket

Puyol among thousands to watch PSL final

AP Updated: 18 March, 2019, 10:07 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Legendary Spanish footballer Carles Puyol was among thousands of cricket fans at the National Stadium to witness the Pakistan Super League twenty20 final on Sunday.

Puyol, a former Barcelona defender, is in the southern port city of Karachi to promote next month's exhibition matches in Pakistan.

Brazilian Kaka will be among a host of other international footballers who will be taking part in Lahore and Karachi.

"It's an amazing welcome, the people are very friendly. I'm very happy to be here," Puyol told a capacity crowd of 32,000 present when he was invited onto the stage during a colorful closing ceremony.

A minute's silence was observed before the closing ceremony began in memory of the 50 people killed after a gunman attacked two mosques in the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand's history.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has hosted this year's eight PSL games in Karachi in a bid to convince foreign team to resume playing international cricket in Pakistan.

Twenty six PSL games were organized in the United Arab Emirates this year, but PCB chairman Ehsan Mani said that from next year the entire PSL schedule will be staged in Pakistan.

Quetta Gladiators, led by Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, won the toss and elected to field first. Quetta which has twice lost in the final also has former Australian international Shane Watson, Rilee Rossouw of South Africa and Dwayne Bravo of the West Indies.

The 2017 PSL champion Peshawar Zalmi is led by the West Indies' Darren Sammy. Hard-hitting batsman Kieron Pollard and Chris Jordan of England will also play for Peshawar.

News Cricket

Quetta win 1st PSL title, beat Peshawar in final

AP Updated: 18 March, 2019, 10:04 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Quetta Gladiators won its first Pakistan Super League Twenty20 title on Sunday with a thumping eight-wicket victory over 2017 champions Peshawar Zalmi in the final.

Darren Sammy-led Peshawar, playing in its third straight PSL final, was restricted to 138-8 after being put into bat by Quetta captain Sarfaraz Ahmed. Improving paceman Mohammad Hasnain claimed 3-30 from his four overs.

In reply, Ahmed Shehzad (58 not out off 51 balls) led Quetta to 139-2 in 17.5 overs after former Australia international Shane Watson was run out early for seven in the run-chase.

South African Rilee Rossouw remained unbeaten on 39 off 32 as Quetta avenged its loss to Peshawar in the 2017 final.

Former Spain footballer Carles Puyol was among the 32,000 fans at the National Stadium. Puyol is in the southern port city of Karachi to promote exhibition soccer matches in Pakistan.

"It's an amazing welcome, the people are very friendly. I'm very happy to be here," Puyol told a capacity crowd when he was invited onto the stage during the closing ceremony.

Earlier, a minute's silence was observed in memory of the 50 people killed after a gunman attacked two mosques in the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand's history on Friday.

More than 250,000 spectators turned up to the newly renovated National Stadium as the Pakistan Cricket Board successfully hosted this year's eight PSL games in Karachi in a bid to convince overseas teams to resume playing international cricket in Pakistan.

A total of 26 PSL games took place in the United Arab Emirates — with mostly empty stadiums — but PCB chairman Ehsan Mani said that from next year the entire PSL schedule will take place in Pakistan.

Mani went out of his way to thank the 39 foreign players from countries including Australia, West Indies, England, South Africa and New Zealand for coming to Pakistan for the last leg of the PSL.

"You have seen for yourself the passion of people here and we hope to see you for all the PSL matches in Pakistan next year," Mani said during the closing ceremony.

International cricket officials and representatives visited during the tournament.

"The fact is that the perception outside of Pakistan was that it was quite a dangerous place to visit in the past, and that perception slowly but surely has been changed through the good work that has been done here," said ICC chief executive Dave Richardson.

News Cricket

I'd never have thought that Harbhajan and I could be good mates - Ricky Ponting

CT Contributors Updated: 16 March, 2019, 5:34 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Ricky Ponting and Harbhajan had a history of on-field feuds during their international careers. The Indian spinner was embroiled in a controversy when Andre Symonds alleged that he had called him monkey. Ponting was the Australian skipper at that time and his relationship turned sour with Bhajji after the incident.

However, with the inception of Indian Premier League Ponting and Harbhajan finally became teammates when Mumbai Indians bought the former at his base price Rs 2.10 crore in 2013. The duo played for two season in the Mumbai based franchise before the Aussie bid adieu to cricket and became the head coach of Mumbai Indians in 2014.

During his tenure with the three-time IPL champions, Ponting developed a good relationship with Harbhajan."Sourav (Ganguly) and I have always got along just fine. We have great respect for one another. We've actually interacted a lot since we've been retired. We've been on cricket committees together and spent a bit of time talking.

"He will be an advisor. He might not have anything to do with us on game day but he will be around the team, around meetings. I'm very, very open to that. He's been a great leader and player and he's got great ideas around the game.

"That's a good part of the IPL, a lot of barriers are broken down between countries and coaches. I'd never have thought that Harbhajan and I could be good mates!," Ponting told Cricbuzz.

Feature Cricket

India may benefit from series defeat in the long run

Partab Ramchand Updated: 16 March, 2019, 5:32 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Galling as it must have been for the Indians to lose the five-match ODI series to Australia especially after having been so close to wrapping it up midway through itself in the long run Virat Kohli and his men could actually benefit from the result. The Indians were flying high and they were brought down to earth by a side that was brave under pressure and won the important moments and were hungrier for success. Instead of finding fault with the Indians one should give the Aussies a lot of credit.

In a way the result will also enable the Indian think tank to plug the loopholes before the World Cup now that they know what needs to be done. A win would have made the Indians that much more complacent; at least now they know where they stand.

A lot has been said about the chopping and changing the team management made for almost every match – even to the point of resting MS Dhoni - but it could not be helped as they were finding the right combination for the World Cup. When the series commenced in addition to the certainties there were a few fringe players. By the end of the series it can be said that a couple of these fringe players almost made certain that they would make the cut for the World Cup while a couple of them hardly did anything to further their claims. As Kohli said the team now wears a settled look and the squad for the World Cup has more or less been picked. In the ultimate analysis one must always have the larger picture in mind.

While winning a series is important it is more important to get the right balance for the showpiece event. Ideally the combination for the World Cup squad in English conditions should be seven batsmen (including the wicketkeeper), three utility players (one of them a back up seam bowler), two spinners and three fast bowlers. With this in mind it is almost clear who the 15 will be though one or two players will be unlucky to miss the flight to London.

All in all, whatever the composition of the Indian team recent events have shown that there are no outright favorites for the World Cup. This is what Kohli said at the press conference at the end of the series and it is difficult not to agree with this view. Any of half a dozen teams have virtually an equal chance of winning the trophy and it all depends on how they are able to raise their game and play above their potential in the matches.

Feature Cricket

The Baffling Case of S. Sreesanth

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 16 March, 2019, 5:30 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

When not creating trouble on the field, Sreesanth has kept himself in the headlines off it. Following the 2013 spot fixing scandal that rocked the Indian Premier League, Sreesanth’s subsequent arrest and legal battle has stayed in the headlines. But even as he expresses optimism five years hence, there is plenty to be confused about.

What might seem like victory for India’s fast bowler, S. Sreesanth, is in reality only a part of a reprieve. The larger battle remains. After five years of serving time under the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) imposed life ban, S. Sreesanth is rejoicing the fact that the Supreme Court has overturned the BCCI decision. But it does not yet make Sreesanth immediately eligible to play.

What has been missed in the fine print is that the Supreme Court has directed the BCCI to decide a fresh quantum of punishment within the next three months for the disgraced fast bowler while terming the life ban harsh. And there is a caveat for why the highest judicial body in the country may have arrived at that conclusion.

In India, there is still not enough laws about cheating in sport and certainly no mention of terms of such as match fixing or spot fixing. In that light, while there are pending criminal proceedings against Sreesanth and two of his team mates with whom he played in the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League until the trio was hauled up for trying to fix matches, there is no precedent in such matters. Furthermore, with evidence more circumstantial than substantial, trickily conclusive to a spectator but not necessarily standing up without blemish in a court of law, it is understandable why the apex judicial body made such a move.

For the BCCI, it is another life ban over turn after one was handed to former Indian captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, after Hansie Cronje, the former South African captain, now deceased, mentioned the former’s name amongst those who had colluded in the match fixing saga that rocked the cricket world in 1999-2000. However, while it might seem that the BCCI has been unable to stick conclusive evidence to these players, leaving the cricket world strangely and awkward divided between rejecting these players and their past performances outright or letting their on field accolades stay as acknowledgement in the larger interest in the sport, the taint has only left cricket poorer.

While Sreesanth can hope to return to the cricket field, despite being thirty-five years of age and having lost five years, the battles as far as clearing his name still looms because while the Supreme Court has lifted the life ban, it has not reprieved him of the guilty charge derived by the BCCI’s disciplinary committee that handed the cricketer the life ban in the first place.

Feature Tennis

Prajnesh has it in him to break into the top 50

Partab Ramchand Updated: 16 March, 2019, 5:28 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Prajnesh Gunneswaran’s fan list is predictably growing with each passing day and heading the list is Vijay Amritraj who is of the view that India’s top player has it in him to rise to the top 50 in the ATP rankings. It is well over three decades since India last had a player in the top 50. Ramesh Krishnan of course had peaked at No 23 in 1985 and before that Vijay himself had peaked at No 16 in 1980.

In the last 25 years despite being the country’s leading players Leander Paes and Somdev Devvarman had reached a high of 73 and 62 in the rankings. So it will really be something if Prajnesh can make it to the top 50. At the moment he is still some distance away with a ranking of 82. But even that is fairly remarkable given the fact that he was 243 at the start of 2018. However the left hander from Chennai fully aware of the intense competition gave himself more realistic goals. Getting into the top 100 was the first priority which he achieved earlier this year. Then he was perched at 97 for some time before a brilliant performance at the Indian Wells Masters saw him reach a career best 82.

It is this showing in a star studded field that included the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic that saw Prajnesh attract considerable attention. Coming through the qualifying rounds he defeated world No 63 Benoit Paire in the first round and then got the better of world No 18 Nikoloz Basilashvili in the second round. This unexpectedly successful run was halted in the third round by the big serving Croat Ivo Karlovic. But Prajnesh has served ample evidence that he could well be India’s most successful singles player since Ramesh Krishnan and that is good news for Indian tennis.

Indeed Vijay never fails to drive home the point that India are not making progress in the Davis Cup because they do not have good singles players. Another to echo this view is Mahesh Bhupathi. India’s non-playing captain said that there should be at least two players in the top 100 after India went down to Italy in the Davis Cup play-off tie a couple of months ago. India does have one now but two other leading players Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan are languishing out of the top 100. Yuki in fact reached a high of 83 last year but was not able to maintain this and has since slipped to 137. Ramkumar reached a high of 111 and then fell to 136.

In the Davis Cup singles play counts for four ties and doubles only one. This is the reason why India once regulars in the World Group have been languishing in the Asia /Ocenia regional group for some time now. India has produced some of the top doubles players in Paes, Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna but the lack of good singles players has meant that India has not been able to progress in the Davis Cup and why Indian players are unable to make any headway when it comes to the ATP Tour. Under the circumstances Prajnesh’s exploits come as a whiff of fresh air.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli reveals his best game for Royal Challengers Bangalore

Staff Writer Updated: 16 March, 2019, 5:25 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Virat Kohli is one of the best batsmen in international cricket right now. He has broken several records in all forms of cricket. However, he is still to win the Indian Premier League title with Royal Challengers Bangalore. Ahead of the new season, Virat Kohli has revealed his favorite match for RCB.

The Champions League T20 match between RCB and MI saw Virat Kohli smashing 49 runs but his franchise lost the match on the last delivery. Kohli said although RCB were defeated, he was praised for his knock.

"I clearly remember the Champions League T20 Game in 2010 against Mumbai Indians in Durban, where I scored 49 runs, but we lost the game in the last delivery. I consider it as one of my most memorable innings wearing the RCB jersey," Kohli was quoted as saying by IANS.

"When everyone had given up, I stayed till the end and almost won us the game. This gave me a lot of confidence, and everyone who watched that game, appreciated me. That was my #GameBanayegaName moment, the innings that gave me extensive recognition. Mumbai Indians team consisted of Zaheer Khan who bowled that last over along with Sachin Paaji and Bajju pa; and they all saw the game and noticed what I could potentially do, and for me that was a big moment," Kohli added.

News Cricket

Anil Kumble picks India’s squad for World Cup

Staff Writer Updated: 16 March, 2019, 5:24 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former India coach Anil Kumble has named his India squad for the upcoming World Cup. While he included Rishabh Pant and Khaleel Ahmed, he preferred Vijay Shankar over Ravindra Jadeja.

“I’ll go with the obvious 11, which I believe selects itself. Which is Rohit, Shikhar, Virat, MS, Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvi, Chahal, Kuldeep, Bumrah, Shami. So this will be our 11. Not necessarily the playing 11 but then you know they will definitely be the 11 which will be a part of the 15. The 12, 13, 14, 15 is a challenge; I believe that it’ll either be Vijay Shankar or Jadeja, one of them and from what you’ve seen of Vijay Shankar as a batsman. I think he gets the nod. From a bowling perspective, he still doesn’t have the opportunity or I don’t think you can trust him to bowl your 10 overs. So that’s a bit of a challenge so I would go with Vijay Shankar,” Kumble told CricketNext.

Anil Kumble’s India squad for World Cup: Virat Kohli (captain), MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed, Ambati Rayudu, Rishabh Pant and Vijay Shankar.