Former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is one of the most loved and adored cricketers in the world. And in the T20I series-decider against New Zealand on Sunday, he once again won many a hearts when he prevented the Indian flag from touching the ground.
A fan had invaded the pitch to meet the veteran Indian cricketer during the third and final T20I against New Zealand in Hamilton. The fan ran towards the 37 years old in a bid to touch his feet. But he had Indian flag in his hands. As he bent down to touch his feet, unintentionally, the flag slightly touched the ground. In the blink of an eye, Dhoni took away the tri-color from the invader's hands so that it doesn't remain in contact with the ground.
We have seen how quick Dhoni is behind the stumps. But, in the third T20I, he showcased his love and respect for the national flag by showcasing similar quickness, which was applauded by one and all.
So India could not cap a successful Trans-Tasman trip with victory in the T-20 series in New Zealand. They lost by a narrow 2-1 margin in a contest between two evenly matched sides but there were a few gains. And perhaps the biggest gain was the sudden discovery of a number of utility players so very important in limited overs cricket.
One of the reasons behind India’s unexpected triumph in the 1983 World Cup was that the team had a number of these bits and pieces cricketers – players who could contribute a bit both with bat and ball. Kapil Dev, Roger Binny, Madanlal, Mohinder Amarnath and Ravi Shastri constituted a more than useful quintet and even a cursory glance at the scores of that triumphant campaign will illustrate how these players were in the thick of action one way or the other.
Looking at the current T-20 squad one is encouraged by the presence of players like Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Shankar. All of them fit in aptly in the category of utility players. In the batting order they are also floaters in that they can go almost anywhere depending on the situation. And they also chip in more than usefully with the ball either keeping the runs down or picking up the odd wicket. Vijay Shankar for example was promoted to No 3 in Sunday’s game and top scored with 43.
Hardik of course has been around for some time now and has established himself in both the ODI and T-20 squads besides playing eleven Tests with moderate success. Krunal Pandya has played only nine T-20 internationals but has impressed as a highly competitive cricketer. Besides he has an excellent record in the first class game and List A cricket. Kedar Jadhav who turns 34 next month has been in and out of the ODI squad but with a batting average of 43 and a bowling average of 31 from 54 games his credentials cannot be overlooked. Vijay Shankar is the latest entrant having made his T-20 debut last year and his ODI debut only last month but even though he has played only four ODIs and eight T-20s he has already impressed the experts with hit utility skills. The discovery of so many bits and pieces players augurs well for the future for they are essential in the limited overs game.
Rohit Sharma has grown from strength to strength in the T20 format and his resurgence for Team India is quite telling. One of the most feared batsmen in the world, Rohit recently became the top run-getter in T20Is. His adaptability and dominance atop for India is quite remarkable. India may have lost the T20I series against New Zealand by a 2-1 margin, but Rohit's contribution should be lauded. He struck a fabulous 16th T20I fifty in the second match and helped India level the series. In the third match, he played more of an anchor and got to a decent looking 38.
Rohit's tryst with records is quite mind blowing in the format. The senior cricketer has already earned a lot of fame in ODIs, but his impact in T20Is is monumental. On Friday, the player surpassed New Zealand's Martin Guptill (2,272 runs) for the most runs amassed in T20Is. It was another feather in the cap of the Mumbaikar. Rohit's knock of 52 helped India dominate the show. The opening batsman has 2,326 runs from 93 T20Is. His astounding average of 32.76 highlights his prowess. Rohit is one of the most consistent batsmen in T20Is. He was the second highest run-scorer in the format in 2018 (590). He was also the only batsman to hit two tons in this format last year.
Rohit's progress in T20Is has been on an upward trajectory. His free-flowing nature and ability to be aggressive whenever required makes him a steal. His batting isn't about just the records and the plethora of runs. The way he sets himself in this format, makes him pleasing to the eye. Out of all the top T20I run-getters, Rohit isn't just someone, who just comes in and plays a brisk innings to give his side the desired start. He is more than just that. His ability to control the game and bat for longer periods helps him. Four T20I tons is a testament to his batsmanship. He is also a clean striker of the ball and 102 sixes in the format shows his capability in finding the fence often.
To be alongside Chris Gayle and Guptill in this feat, makes him a special entity. His contribution in the game for India has helped the side gain control on a consistent level. The vital part about his game is that he doesn't wastes his time. He faces more deliveries being an opener, but he also scores the runs to contribute. Few cricketers are as talented as Rohit and he hasn't thrown this aspect away. These factors make him not only the best batsman for India, but also in the world.
There have been constant comparisons between Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli, over and again. There is a whole bunch of fans, which absolutely loves making comparisons between Sachin and Kohli. Both the cricketers enjoy a cult fan following. Virat Kohli is the best batsman in the world at the moment that too by a country mile while people regard Sachin Tendulkar as the greatest batsman to have graced the game. One is India's kingpin at present, the other was the whole and sole hope of the country in the 1990s.
Australian spinner, Shane Warne, however, feels it is unfair to compare two batsmen from different eras. Warne was quoted as saying by Times of India, "Very hard to judge when someone is playing and very hard to judge eras,” Warne said. “Think about the bowlers in the ’90s. Different surfaces that seamed. Now they’re a lot flatter. The ball swung more. So many invariables. But to think that someone was better than Brian Lara and Sachin – in those mid-’90s – against Wasim, Waqar, Curtly, Courtney, McGrath, Donald, Saqlain, Mushy, Vettori, Murali, myself. You can go on."
He further added, “Virat is breaking all the records, which is great but I want to wait. See, what people miss is this: You can set benchmarks, score those many centuries, average that high, score a lot many runs. But what people are going to remember you for is the way you played the game. Someone should run down the street and ask fans, how many runs did Mark Waugh make or what his average was? They wouldn’t have a clue but chances are, here’s what they’ll say: I loved watching him play.
Warne reckons Kohli will go down as the best ODI batsman of all-time with Viv Richards. "To my mind, what’s already evident is that Virat is one of the best players of all time. In One-dayers, he probably has to go down with Viv Richards as the greatest ever, not so much for the record but for the way he plays his game. But I’ll judge him at the end of his career,” said Warne.
According to Australian spin legend, Shane Warne, Virat Kohli might not be the best captain in the world in terms of tactics but he certainly is the best leader of men. Warne admittedly is a big Virat Kohli fan. Over and again, he has expressed his adulation for the 30 years old Indian skipper. Virat Kohli, a while back, became the first captain to lead India to bilateral Test and ODI triumphs in Australia.
The former leg-spinner termed Kohli as the "best leader of men." Shane Warne was quoted as saying by NDTV, "I think he (Virat Kohli) is the best leader of the team at the moment. There is a difference between captaincy, tactics and the leader of the team."
Warne, who took 708 Test and 293 ODI wickets added, "I am a huge Virat Kohli fan. I think he is great for the game of cricket. He leads his team so well. Tactically it's very hard to split. I think Tim Paine, Kane Williamson from New Zealand are very good tactically as well. So I think it's very hard to say if there are any standout captains but I would say the best leader of men at the moment is definitely Virat Kohli."
Virat Kohli is likely to be back in the team for the home ODI series against Australia. He was rested from the team for the last two ODIs and T20I series against the Black Caps.
Hardik Pandya is back with a bang after his ban was lifted by the BCCI and was among runs and wickets during the ODI series against New Zealand.
However, it seems his sexist comments on Koffee with Karan are not going to leave him easily. At T20 international match between the two sides, a girl trolled the Indian all-rounder by holding a banner that read, “Pandya Aaj Karke Aaya Kya?”
Video of the woman holding the placard is also doing rounds on social media.
Many took to Twitter and tagged Pandya to the post and lauded the fan for her courage and stance.
Pandya was not the only one who was targeted over his remarks. Kuggeleijn, the Kiwi player, who was accused of raping a woman in 2015, had to bear the brunt of public anger.
There were posters which referred to #MeToo and one of the posters said: “Wake up, NZ Cricket, #MeToo”.
There are some players who have a special aura about them. And you need not to be in the face of your opponents, be aggressive on the field or do things that cater to the general perception of being special to be a special player necessarily. Not all heroes wear capes.
Unlike younger Pandya, the elder Pandya doesn't command your attention with his style and attitude. Both brothers are poles apart. If one is fire, the other is ice, if one is madness the other is calmness, if one is chaotic, the other is harmonized. But, one thing common among them, except for the genes, is that both are highly talented players.
Krunal oozes calmness and maturity. His moves are calculated and he gives a feeling of reliability. One can make out from his body language and his aura, that he is special. He has that X-factor in him to solve team's all-rounders problem.
Unlike Hardik, Krunal had to wait for long and hard for the elusive India call-up. But, boy he has arrived in style and showed to the world, why he should have been in the set-up, much earlier. Krunal has played eight T20Is but already exhibited what made him a stand-out player right from his IPL days, which would often leave the cricket pundits perplexed as to why this Baroda lad is not making to the senior team.
Krunal Pandya is temperamentally very strong. He has this knack of bringing his best game forward in times of adversity. He is also resilient and knows how to deal with setbacks and bounce back. In the third T20I against Australia in Sydney, he starred for India in a do-or-die game. The Men in Blue were 0-1 down going into the final T20I.
Pandya bagged four wickets and was adjudged the Player-of-the-Match. He didn't have the best of starts to the series. He was hammered all around the park in the first T20I, but he put up a decent show in the second T20I and then was central to India's win in Sydney. And this was just his first overseas series.
Even in the ongoing New Zealand T20I series, he made a terrific comeback in the second T20I to win Man-of-the-Match award after being ineffective in the T20I series opener. Krunal's triple-strike dented New Zealand's hopes of putting a big total on the board in Auckland.
It was a commendable performance from the left-armer, especially when we put into perspective, the flat pitch, small boundaries and the pressure that a do-or-die game has on the players. India had succumbed to their biggest T20I defeat in the series opener in Wellington.
There was enormous pressure on the 27-year old, more so, after Rohit Sharma picked him at the expense of India's premier white-ball spinner, Kuldeep Yadav. But, he was unperturbed by everything and delivered, which showcases his mettle. Even in IPL, he has made a world-class batsman like AB de Villiers his bunny. So more the challenges, the better Pandya performs.
The Ahmedabad-born cricketer is quite adaptable. He not only reads the game situations well but is also smart enough to translate them into performances. Who can forget his 2017 IPL final heroics for Mumbai Indians? The southpaw made a crucial 47 when the chips were down and then bowled an economical spell to help Mumbai Indians win the title. He was later given the Man-of-the-Match award as well.
Krunal's batting skills have still not come to the fore at the highest level. He has only batted on three occasions for India, which is not enough for a rookie player to leave his mark. Batting has been his stronger suit, so he will only enhance his reputation in international cricket when given adequate opportunities.
Ravindra Jadeja and Krunal are like-for-like cricketers. Both are slow left-arm orthodox and left-handed batsman. Jadeja is currently India's no.1 choice for the spinning all-rounder position but Krunal might be able to do a better role than him in that slot.
First of all, despite all the talent that Ravindra Jadeja has, he has been average with the bat, at best. Jadeja lacks the versatile game that has been significant to Krunal's success with the bat in IPL. Not only the elder Pandya can build innings but he possesses a much better power-game, which is need of the hour for India in limited-overs format since the waning powers of MS Dhoni.
If you need a bowler to bowl at one line and length with invariable consistency all day, you won't find a better bowler than Ravindra Jadeja. Perhaps, that's why he is so successful in Tests. But it becomes his weakness in white-ball cricket, where you cannot afford to be predictable. On the other hand, Krunal is a street-smart bowler. He varies his line, length, and pace perfectly and is quite good at being one step ahead of the batsman.
Krunal Pandya's IPL success speaks volumes about his potential. And we have often seen that IPL has been a pathway to the Indian team, so let's not pretend that IPL's success doesn't have bearing on ODI selections. Pandya has impressed in T20Is and can be India's surprise package for the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Hobart Hurricanes star George Bailey and Sydney Thunder all-rounder Daniel Sams were involved in a heartwarming gesture after a young BBL fan got hit by latters six.
George Bailey slammed one of the deliveries for a six but it unfortunately hit the young boy. The game was stopped briefly as the crowd and the players attended the youngster and even the team doctor came to check the kid.
Thunder’s Daniel Sams signed his cap and gave it to the young fan. Bailey met the boy after the innings and handed him a pair of his gloves.
Bailey scored 53 off 35 balls and shared a 94-run partnership with Ben McDermott (44 not out) as they took their team to a formidable total of 4/165 from 19 overs after a rain delay.
Nathan Coulter-Nile, the Aussie quick, was taken to hospital on Saturday after a bout of vertigo during a Big Bash League match. The Perth Scorchers pacer sat on the ground holding his head after the 18th over of the Adelaide Strikers innings.
Nathan was asked to bowl 18th over and he started brilliantly by dismissing Wells on the first ball of his over and then conceded 5 runs off the next three deliveries. The next ball went for a boundary and it was then he felt uncomfortable.
Coulter-Nile, however, continued to bowl and was hit for a six on the final ball of his fourth over. He sat down on the ground after completing his over and was taken off the field. He was taken to the hospital after the match.
"Nathan was hit with a bad bout of vertigo at the end of his final bowling over during the game against the Adelaide Strikers. He was taken to hospital after the game as a precaution and will be monitored over the next few hours," Perth Scorchers physio Chris Quinnell said.
Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib-al-Hasan, who suffered an injury to his left ring finger in the finale of the Bangladesh Premier League, has been ruled out of the upcoming ODI series against New Zealand.
“An X-ray was done after the match and the results have confirmed a fracture on the left ring finger. The affected area will now have to be immobilized for around three weeks,” Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) chief physician Dr. Debashish Chowdhury was quoted as saying in a BCB media release.
He will also miss the first Test against New Zealand in order to allow him time to recover fully and be ready for the World Cup in England & Wales.
It's a heartbreaking news for one of the best all-rounders who just made return from a career threatening injury to his bowling hand that he had sustained during the Asia Cup.
He was adjudged as the best player of the recently concluded edition of Bangladesh Premier League.
Darren Sammy is loved across the globe because of his humble and down to earth nature. The former Windies skipper is part of T20 leagues and is winning hearts with his display on the field and off the field. He is currently in Pakistan to participate in the upcoming edition of the Pakistan Super League.
He took to Instagram to shower love on Pakistan.
“United we stand divided we fall”
Love makes the world go round.
Nothing but love for the people of Pakistan
This didn’t go down well with one of his followers, who abused Pakistanis by calling them terrorists. Like a true professional, Sammy kept his cool and asked that person to leave his page.
Pakistan has been marred by terror activities since long and despite a lot of efforts, cricket nations have refused to play cricket in Pakistan. Sammy is trying his best to convince leading nations to come to the sub-continent country as he feels Pakistan is safe enough to resume cricketing action in the country.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni might not be India's captain anymore but many people, arguably, consider him to be the mastermind behind a lot of major decisions made by Virat Kohli in white-ball cricket for India. Virat Kohli is currently India's regular captain across formats. But Virat relies heavily on inputs from MS Dhoni. The 37 years old is often seen guiding the bowlers from behind the stumps.
Yuvraj Singh has showered praise on India's limited-overs wicket-keeper batsman, MS Dhoni, who, not too long ago was adjudged the Player-of-the-Series in India's historic bilateral ODI triumph in Australia.
Yuvraj Singh reckons, "Mahi (MS Dhoni) has a great cricket brain and as a wicketkeeper, you're in the best position to monitor the game. He's done that fantastically well over the years. He's been a great captain. He guides Virat (Kohli) on the field all the time. I think his presence is very important in terms of decision-making. He had a fantastic series in Australia. It's good to see him hitting the ball the way he used to do it. I wish him all the best."
England, bidding to avoid a 3-0 clean sweep against West Indies, has fitness doubts over all-rounder Ben Stokes for the third and final test that starts on Saturday.
Opening batsman Keaton Jennings has been recalled after being dropped for the second test, while wicketkeeper Ben Foakes is dropped.
Captain Joe Root suggested Stokes' bruised right heel was a result of the heavy burden he carried with the ball during England's defeats in Barbados and Antigua, bowling more than 77 overs in baking conditions, but he did not completely dismiss reports the injury was sustained while running on the beach during a fitness session.
"Whether it was before that or during that I'm not really sure," Root said on Friday. "It's down to a huge amount of workload over the first two tests. He woke up sore with his heel."
Stokes could feature as a specialist batsman if he cannot play a full part with his bowling.
"As we've seen in the recent past, when he's not been around it can make a huge difference," Root said. "Of course we want Ben fit and firing and ready to go as many times as possible, but it's so important he is able to do his job properly."
Sam Curran will keep his place if England decides not to risk Stokes. Paceman Mark Wood is set to return to the attack, while Jonny Bairstow will reclaim the wicketkeeping gloves from Foakes.
West Indies is hoping fast bowler Shannon Gabriel will again take a liking to the St Lucia venue.
Gabriel picked up 13 Sri Lankan wickets on his last visit to the Darren Sammy Stadium, including career-best figures of eight for 62.
"This ground has been good to me. I have some good memories here," he said. "I have some plans but your plan and God's plan might be two different plans, so let's see how it goes."
Gabriel has been the fastest bowler in the series, touching 94mph (151kph).
"As a group we've been bowling well together, and applying pressure, and once you apply pressure, batsmen make mistakes," he said. "My role is no secret, it's to run and bowl as fast as possible."
Kraigg Brathwaite will captain West Indies in the absence of Jason Holder, who is suspended following the team's slow over-rate in the second test.
West Indies: Brathwaite, Campbell, Hope, Darren Bravo, Hetmyer, Chase, Dowrich, Roach, Joseph, Gabriel, Thomas, Paul.
England: Burns, Jennings, Denly, Root, Bairstow, Stokes, Buttler, Moeen Ali, Curran, Broad, Anderson, Wood.
India defeated New Zealand by seven wickets in the second T20 international. Khaleel Ahmed, who took two wickets in the game, has revealed the strategy that led Men in Blue to win. He said that the Indian fast bowlers were told to bowl back of the length to contain rival batsmen.
Asked about the plan to curtail the boundary percentage of the home team, he said:
"Because the ground was small, we deliberately bowled back of length to curtail boundaries. We had to shorten the length as conventional swing was not on offer. We showed a lot of improvement today and hope to improve further in the next game."
He also spoke about Rohit’s inputs as the Eden Park Ground has different dimensions in comparison to other stadiums in the world.
"Rohit bhai told us about are the areas batsmen will target and how to cut the angles," the Rajasthan speedster added. According to Khaleel, one of the major challenges encountered by pacers coming to New Zealand was bowling into the wind.
"One difficulty that we face in New Zealand while bowling is running into the wind which is a rarity elsewhere. But then these are little things that you learn and it's a great experience."
After leading India to series leveling win in the T20 series in absence of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, the stand-in skipper is looking forward to final T20 international of the three-match series. He took to Instagram to post a picture of himself from inside the bus with the roads of Hamilton in the backdrop. "Beautiful drive to Hamilton, look forward to one last game of what has been a grueling 3 months," he wrote.
Captain Rohit Sharma dashed a half-century from 28 balls and Rishabh Pant made an unbeaten 40 as India beat New Zealand by seven wickets in the second Twenty20 to level the three-match series at 1-1.
New Zealand won the first match by 80 runs on Wednesday. The final match is on Sunday at Hamilton.
"I was very pleased with the way we bowled to start with and then it was very clinical with the bat as well," Sharma said.
"Something like that we were expecting. We've got quality in our side. It's just that we didn't execute our plans in the first game and we learned from our mistakes. We executed those plans in this game and we got the reward for it."
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