Things are getting heated up as we are inching closer to the business end of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Yesterday, in a do or die game against Kings XI Punjab, RCB skipper, Virat Kohli was all pumped up. But, he crossed limits of decency when he gave an abusive send-off to his opposite number and Indian teammate, Ravichandran Ashwin.
Not only Kohli used cuss words but he also used hand gestures to indicate to something, which fans on social media are interpreting as a way to slam R Ashwin's mankading antics. Kohli gave Ashwin a fiery send-off on the second ball of game's last over when he took a brilliant catch to dismiss the KXIP skipper at long-on.
Ashwin was also very angry and he threw his gloves towards his team's dugout after getting out. RCB went on to register an excellent win at M. Chinnaswamy stadium and their hopes of a playoff berth are still alive and kicking.
KL Rahul is in amazing form in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League. He is scoring runs in every match for Kings XI Punjab and is one of the leader run scorers in the tournament. The right hand batsman was recently picked in the World Cup squad is expected to play an important role during the course of the even.
He became the fifth batsmen to complete 3000 runs in T20 cricket. Rahul smashed 42 runs off just 27 balls with the help of eight boundaries against Royal Challengers Bangalore. The Karnataka lad has now scored 441 runs at an average of 55.12 in this IPL season.
Rahul, who took 93 innings to complete 3000 runs in T20 cricket, also became the fastest Indian to reach that milestone. Shaun Marsh was the fastest to 3000 runs as he took just 85 innings to touch the mark.
Now that all the ten countries have announced their teams the battle lines have been drawn for the ICC Cricket World Cup that commences in England on May 30. And even a cursory glance at the squads leaves one with the clear impression that any one of half a dozen teams have an equal chance of lifting the trophy at Lord’s on July 14. These squads have all the right ingredients in the team personnel – explosive hitters, stroke playing batsmen, high quality utility players who can contribute with both bat and ball, accurate pacemen and skilful spin bowlers.
There are no real outright favourites as the West Indies were during the first three editions of the World Cup or Australia were in the first decade of the new millennium. But yes, it can be said that Afghanistan and Bangladesh are there to make up the numbers while the chances of Sri Lanka and Pakistan must be rated as slim. However in the same breath one must also add that outsiders have been known to win the cup notably India in 1983 and Sri Lanka in 1996.
The ICC rankings have England, India, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia in the first five positions and these are the teams seriously in the running for the title. The fact that the West Indies haven’t made the semifinals since 1996 may go against their chances. However even though they are ranked as low as ninth they can be considered as the dark horses simply because they have some of the best limited overs players in their ranks.
Past record and present form are two very important criteria in picking the teams most likely to win the title. The eleven editions of the World Cup have been distributed among Australia (five times winners), the sub-continent (four times) and the West Indies (twice). But New Zealand and South Africa have come close to clinching it more than once and though they have the tags of eternal bridesmaids and chokers respectively they will always remain serious challengers. New Zealand in fact after being semifinalists on six occasions finally broke away to make the title clash four years ago before going down to Australia.
On present form the chances of both New Zealand and South Africa must be rated quite high but England, India and Australia too are right up there in the pecking order which is what makes the competition an open field. There is very little to choose between the leading contenders and it can be taken for granted that most of the finishes will be very close. We are certainly in for a cracker of a World Cup!
What has already added spice to the flavor of the contest is the format. In a return to the format for the 1992 World Cup each team plays every other side once and the top four teams make the semifinals. This means that even a couple of bad outings may not be a serious setback for the teams have enough games to bounce back. One remembers Pakistan almost down and out midway through their campaign in 1992 but they picked themselves from the floor and went on to win the title.
Indian greats, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman have been served 'conflict of interest' notices by BCCI's ombudsman, DK Jain. They are serving as mentors of Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively. Notably, they are also members of Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC).
Justice Jain wrote: "A complaint has been received by the Ethics Officer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (for short "the BCCI") under Article 39 of the Rules and Regulations of the BCCI, regarding certain acts, allegedly constituting as 'conflict of interest' on your part.
"You may file your written response to the accompanying Complaint, supported by duly executed affidavit, on or before 28th April 2019, with the Office of the Ethics Officer, BCCI, Mumbai for further proceedings in the matter," he further stated.
Earlier, Sourav Ganguly was served the conflict of interest notice as well. They will appear before BCCI's ombudsman to explain their roles soon. Sachin and Laxman will need to file written responses to the allegations by April 28.
As an excitable Pep Guardiola congratulated his players one by one in the center of the field, a chant of "Champions" rang out from the Manchester City fans in one corner of an otherwise-deserted Old Trafford.
Three more victories and City will indeed be a Premier League winner once again.
A 2-0 win over fierce rival Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday allowed City to climb over the biggest obstacle on its way to retaining the title, a feat no team has achieved in a decade. Beat Burnley away, Leicester at home and Brighton away, and Guardiola's team will make yet more history.
City moved a point ahead of Liverpool in an oscillating title race in which neither of the two protagonists is backing down. Neither side has dropped points since Liverpool drew 0-0 at Everton on March 3, and City is on an 11-match winning streak in the league.
City's class of 2018-19 has reached new levels of scoring, too. Thanks to second-half strikes by Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane, City has now scored 157 goals in all competitions for the season — beating the English record for a single top-flight campaign that the team held from the pre-Guardiola era in 2013-14.
While City is arguably getting better, United is seemingly regressing under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. This was a seventh loss in United's last nine games, with five of them coming in the six matches since Solskjaer was given the full-time job at Old Trafford following an impressive spell in interim manager.
With doubts emerging about the desire and attitude of some of its players, United is set to end the season without qualifying for the Champions League, potentially making Solskjaer's attempts to rebuild the team this offseason even harder.
United is in sixth place — two points behind Arsenal, three behind Chelsea and six adrift of third-place Tottenham — and would drop out of top-four contention with a loss to Chelsea on Sunday.
Arsenal gave United some hope by losing 3-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers in Wednesday's other match. It is the first time Arsenal has lost back-to-back matches in the league since the opening two games of the season.
Kolkata Knight Riders have been ridiculed by fans for not sending Andre Russell higher up the order. There is a belief that Knights have lost some of the matches because their star player was hold back by the management. The head coach Jacques Kallis has stated that star all-rounder Andre Russell can bat higher in the order if the situation demands. He has scored 392 runs in 10 matches at an average of 65.33 with a mind-boggling strike rate of 217.77.
"It certainly hadn't been one of our plans but if the situation arises then it's something we'll think of. It's a matter of what the team needs in such a situation and what the captain and management come up with, and we feel where each player is suited to play," ESPNCricinfo quoted Kallis as saying on Tuesday.
"But like I said, if a situation arises where Andre or someone else can come up the order, we've got to perhaps try one or two things a little differently."
In order to motivate players, KKR have decided to give them a break ahead of their next clash in the IPL.
"We felt that the guys needed a break. They were given the freedom to do what they want for the next couple of days. It has been a disappointing couple of games for us, so we thought that guys can go away and do what they want.
"They could go home if they wanted to, and some guys felt they wanted to get a little practice which they couldn't get here, so they went to Mumbai. Our practices here are optional, so it's just about getting guys refreshed and mentally up for the game," said Kallis.
The nature of sport is such that every time a great champion rises, he sows the seeds for the next rising star to elevate his own potential and reach for a benchmark previously unfathomable. For the mere suggestion then that Virat Kohli’s rise is the wane of Sachin Tendulkar is clearly a misnomer to the fact.
One has only to look at the love and adoration coming Sachin Tendulkar’s way on his birthday, less than a decade after his retirement, to know that in the eyes of the cricket loving nation and indeed the world, the genius of Sachin Tendulkar holds a place like no other. When Sachin Tendulkar had the great opportunity to meet with the man many said he resembled in his poise at the crease and in the manner of run making, the late Sir Donald Bradman, it was not considered the dying of the legend of Bradman but rather a meeting of two great minds.
In much the similar fashion, it is great credit to Virat Kohli who has not only lived up the enormous expectations thrust on him around the time of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 when it became imminent that Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement was in the offing. Expected to fill big boots in the no.4 position, Kohli has more than ratified his place and justified of expectations in the manner in which he has taken the world by storm, almost singlehandedly for India, particularly since being handed over the onus of the captaincy of the Indian cricket team.
Perhaps it was Sachin Tendulkar’s inability to translate his own expectations of himself to the team that captaincy laurels eluded him. That said, it has not made Sachin Tendulkar less in the eyes of cricket aficionados. If anything, there is a greater perception that Sachin’s era was overshadowed by the burden of expectations on his sole shoulders to a great extent rather than the weight being distributed up and down the team as the feeling is now around Kohli’s team. Although India did hiccup on the tour of England to suggest that India were going the Sachin Tendulkar way to put the onus on Virat Kohli alone, there is a feeling of greater balance and more equitable distribution of expectations in the Kohli era. For India to reach this stage, it has taken some doing. While Kohli’s team might lack star power, there is potential.
Kohli’s record, particularly his runway stretch in the limited overs internationals, have had some speculate that he would not only overthrow Tendulkar’s record but obliterate it altogether. It is as ill-informed a suggestion as there was ever was one. There was a feeling at the time of Sachin Tendulkar’s playing days that there is no one like him and his feats are almost impossible to replicate. That Kohli is even running the marathon and standing tall is then credit to India’s ability to produce another outright champion rather than diminish Sachin Tendulkar’s contribution to the game.
Sport is such that it felicitates the contemporary hero but always in the same breath as his predecessor. It is the reason why while the contemporary player raises the bat and collects the applause, his accomplishments are measured in the same breath as stating the records of the great champions who have come before him. For Kohli to be honored, Tendulkar cannot be forgotten. It is one of the reasons why the legend of Sachin Tendulkar can never wane.
Teen sensation, Prithvi Shaw, who has made just one fifty in 11 games of IPL so far is happy with his performance. Shaw is averaging 23.81 for his 262 runs and has not performed as well as people would have expected him to. But he is unfazed by everything.
“Each player wants to perform in every match he plays. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. If I am not able to perform in a given match, I leave that behind. I am not a person who will think about the past. I go match by match. And even though I am not scoring 50s and 100s, I am happy that I am performing my role which is to give a good start to the team and score as many runs and possible in the Powerplay overs,” said Shaw at a promotional event.
Shaw is seen as an upcoming star in Indian cricket. He made a terrific start to his international career and made a century on his Test debut against West Indies at Rajkot, last year. But injury ruled him out of the side from the Australian Tests.
Cricket is a simple game where you need to do basics right in order to win games. And Chennai's spinner, Harbhajan Singh has given simple advice to opponents that can help them win against CSK. "When teams come here, they have to play much better cricket than us to beat us," said Harbhajan Singh.
But as they say, easier said than done. Chennai have been on a winning spree in the 12th edition of the IPL. They have already qualified for playoffs with eight wins in 11 games.
“It’s always nice to go out there in the middle, unfortunately, I missed a few games due to sickness. My whole family was sick, in fact. Nice to be back, and really happy with the result as well,” Harbhajan said at the post-match presentation ceremony. “We always play well in Chennai, we know our conditions, and thanks to this beautiful crowd who come here to Chennai Super Kings," he further added.
He also applauded the out-of-form opener, Shane Watson, who made a brilliant 96 against SRH.“It’s nice to see Shane Watson getting those runs under his belt. He’s a serious player, last year he won us the final single-handedly, and this innings will boost his confidence.”
Rahul Dravid, the former Indian skipper, is backing Team India to perform well in the upcoming World Cup in England and Wales. According to him, the current squad is well balanced.
“India has a very good, balanced team for this World Cup,” he was quoted as saying on the ICC website.
"(The squad has) a lot of combinations, lot of options. It is a question of them performing in the tournament. You can always argue one or two cases, one or two names. The team has been picked, (now) back it and hope they do really well,” he added.
Rahul Dravid was part of the team that didn't go beyond Super Sixes stage of the World Cup, which was held in England in 1999. Dravid said India are much better prepared this time to deal with English conditions. “I expect the games to be totally different than in 1999, when England last hosted the World Cup, which was a slightly low-scoring affair. This World Cup will probably be a much high scoring one, and India is well equipped for that.
"ODIs have changed in England and [you] can't go with the typical mindset that it will be the old English conditions (of swing and seam). Wickets have become flatter, encouraging higher scores,” he added.
Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar has stated that Pakistan won't be able to win the upcoming World Cup. He further added that England will lift the coveted trophy for the first time as they will play in their home conditions.
“The England cricket team once hold a reputation for not being serious with limited overs cricket, look at them now. There is a bit of a problem in their bowling, but it looks a very compact team. If you ask me, I think England is winning this World Cup,” Akhtar was quoted as saying by the Business Recorder.
He also said that senior players will have to lead from the front as it will be their last World Cup. Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez are expected to retire after the World Cup.
Pakistan World Cup Squad: Sarfaraz Khan (C), Imam-ul-Haq, Abid Ali, Shoaib Malik, Shadab Khan, Babar Azam, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Hassan Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hasnain, Junaid Khan, Fakhar Zaman
Praising Team India for their clinical display in international cricket, former Sri Lankan pacer Chaminda Vaas has predicted that Men in Blue will definitely reach the last four of the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup.
"Indian cricket has been dominating in the last two-three years. They have good back-up fast bowlers. They will do wonders. Indian team is very balanced. They will do well. My prediction is, India will definitely reach the semifinals (in the World Cup)," Vaas told reporters.
Om Sri Lanka chances, he said: "For the last few months, Sri Lanka hasn’t done so well. But if you analyze the combination of the team which we picked for the World Cup.
"I'm pretty sure that the selectors have done the right thing. We have to take it from there and it's upto the players to get themselves in and play well for the country. There is no doubt that Malinga is one of the best in the world and the best in Sri Lanka. We depend on him as a bowler and he showed his leadership qualities.
"He has given 100 per cent for the team and we have seen, him playing in Mumbai (in IPL) on one day and playing in Sri Lanka (in a domestic event) the next day," he said.
"It shows the commitment he has, and the commitment he has given to the team and the country. He will be the key for Sri Lanka cricket in the upcoming World Cup," said Vaas.
MS Dhoni is the best captain in the Indian Premier League. The skipper is once again leading from the front in the ongoing edition of the tournament. Shane Watson's son is a big time admirer of Dhoni. In a video posted by the IPL twitter handle, Watson and his son can be seen talking about the former Indian skipper. Watson Jr. reveals that MS Dhoni is his high-five buddy.
The former Aussie player scored 96 off 53 balls to lead CSK to win against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
"I was due for runs, that's for sure," Watson said after receiving the man of the match award.
"I can't thank (coach) Stephen Fleming and (skipper) MS Dhoni enough for their belief in me. Most of the teams I've played in, I would have been dropped by now but they showed the trust in me," Watson said at the post-match presentation.
Shane Watson had a miserable outing before last night game against Sunrisers Hyderabad. The right hand batsman had scored just 147 runs in 10 matches but made his performance count in the eleventh match of the season. He scored a brilliant 96 off just 53 balls.
CSK ended their two-match losing streak in the IPL and almost booked their play in play-offs. Chasing 175 runs, Watson started cautiously but came back into his groove after facing few deliveries. The defending champions won the game by 6 wickets in the end.
Watson credited Stephen Fleming and MS Dhoni for backing him in tough times.
"I was due for runs, that's for sure. I can't thank Stephen Fleming and MS Dhoni enough for their belief in me,' Watson said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
"Most of the teams I've played in, I would have been dropped by now but they showed the trust in me."
"Of course, I was doing alright in the PSL (Pakistan Super League) and in the BBL (Bangladesh Premier League) too, struck the ball well.
"Needed some things to go my way, like it did today when Bhuvi was all over me. He is an incredibly skillful bowler as he swings it both ways," said Watson.
Shane Watson played one of the best innings of his IPL career in the last night game against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The right hand batsman smashed 96 runs off 53 balls to lead CSK to another win in the tournament. With this victory, the defending champions have reclaimed the top spot in the ongoing edition.
During the chase, Rashid Khan tried to intimidate Shane Watson and the result was shattering for the star spinner.
He ended up giving 44 runs from his four overs, his worst figures in IPL 2019, as CSK won the game by six wickets.
Soon after the match, Rashid was criticized for his on-field behavior and Twitter was flooded with memes involving Watson and Rashid Khan.
Watson, who hit nine fours and six sixes, was pleased with his effort. "I was due for runs, that's for sure," he said. "I can't thank (coach) Stephen Fleming and (skipper) MS Dhoni enough for their belief in me. Most of the teams I've played in, I would have been dropped by now but they showed the trust in me."
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