On the eve of the series against England Chris Gayle said he would retire from ODIs after the World Cup. Then midway through with his form as good as ever he admitted that he was having a rethink on that decision. And at the end of it all if he really went back on his decision the cricketing world would rejoice at having the entertainer extraordinaire carry on for some more time.
But obviously the comment midway through was made in jest in keeping with Gayle’s image of a fun loving cricketer who loves his dance steps almost as much as he enjoys batting has endeared him to cricket fans. The extrovert that he is he relishes playing to the gallery and being the centre of attention. Just the other day while announcing that he would retire from ODIs following the World Cup he came up with lines like ``You are looking at a great man’’ and ``I am the greatest player in the world’’ and ``Of course I am still the Universe Boss. That will never change. I will take that to the grave.’’ Which other cricketer would come up with lines like these that bring back memories of Muhammad Ali.
And yet as he walked off the field in the fifth and final ODI at St Lucia after scripting yet another famous West Indian victory – turning to salute all four corners of the ground – it was clear that even as he had played his last game on home turf the original decision would stay. But if his extraordinary form during the series was any indication it was certainly not because of any decline in his game. On the contrary even in his 40th year he has lost none of his enthusiasm for the game and rounded off an incredible series – 424 runs in four innings at a strike rate of 134 - with an innings of 77 in just 27 balls that included the fastest half century (19 deliveries) by a West Indian batsman in the history of the format. He hit 39 sixes from the 316 balls he faced in the series which means that incredibly every 8.10 balls he faced went for a six. During the series he became only the second West Indian batsman after Brian Lara to cross the 10,000 run mark in ODIs.
Thanks chiefly to Gayle a result between the No 1 ranked team in the world and the No 9 ranked team ended 2-2. And as he himself put it in a rather bland understatement ``we will get a bit of respect going into the World Cup.’’ The West Indies in fact have already emerged as the dark horses going into the competition.
Add a century of career titles to Roger Federer's staggering list of tennis achievements.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion became the second male player to win 100 tour-level tournaments in the professional era when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Dubai Championships.
Jimmy Connors is the other player to reach the milestone, and the American ended his career on 109 titles.
"Welcome to the 'Triple Digit' tournament victory club," Connors said in a Twitter post to Federer, "I've been a bit lonely -- glad to have the company!!!"
By beating a player nearly half his age, the 37-year-old Federer continued his record of winning at least one title every season since his first in 2001 in Milan. Eight of his victories have come in Dubai.
"It's been a long, wonderful journey . I have loved every minute," Federer said. "It's been tough but the sacrifice has been very, very worthwhile and we'll see how much more I've got left in the tank.
"Reaching 100 is an absolute dream come true for me."
As well as his record haul of Grand Slam titles, which includes a record eight wins at Wimbledon, Federer has won a record six ATP Finals and topped the rankings for a record 310 weeks — including 237 straight.
In a battle of the generations, Federer avenged his loss to the 20-year-old Tsitsipas, a rising star from Greece, in the last 16 of the Australian Open in January.
Federer broke serve in the first game and took the set on his fourth set point.
The second set was more even, but Tsitsipas made the first big mistake in dumping an easy shot into the net to lose serve for a 5-4 deficit. His opponent then held serve to love to join Connors in the century club.
"I'm so happy I'm still playing," Federer said. "It all started as a junior world champion. It's been great. I wouldn't do it any differently."
Nick Kyrgios won the Mexico Open for his fifth ATP Tour title, beating second-seeded Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4 in the hardcourt event at The Princess Mundo Imperial.
The 23-year-old Kyrgios, ranked 72nd in the world, beat second-ranked Rafael Nadal in the second round, then knocked off Stan Wawrinka and John Isner to reach the final.
Kyrgios won for the first time since the Brisbane event early last year, with all five of the Australian's titles coming on hardcourts.
Zverev, the German star ranked No. 3, has 10 ATP Tour victories, winning five times in 2017 and four last year.
Earlier, China's Wang Yafan won her first WTA Tour title, beating fifth-seeded Sofia Kenin 2-6, 6-3, 7-5. The 24-year-old Wang, ranked 65th, overcame a 2-0 deficit to win the second set.
In women's doubles, Victoria Azarenka won a title for the first time since giving birth to son Leo in December 2016, teaming with Zheng Saisai to beat third-seeded Guiiana Olmos and Desirae Krawczyk 6-1, 6-2.
Two demoralizing defeats to Barcelona have left Real Madrid with just one chance to salvage its season by winning a record-extending fourth consecutive Champions League trophy.
But it must do without the goals of Cristiano Ronaldo, the star striker who fueled its title run before leaving for Juventus at the end of last season.
Madrid failed to score against Barcelona in two "clasico" matches at its Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in the past week. Barcelona eliminated Madrid from the Copa del Rey semifinals with a 3-0 victory on Wednesday, and three days later left Madrid 12 points adrift in the Spanish league with a 1-0 win.
Madrid could do with rediscovering its scoring form to avoid another calamity when it hosts Dutch side Ajax in the return leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie. The visitors won the away leg in Amsterdam 2-1 thanks to goals from Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio.
"We gave it our all (against Barcelona) but weren't decisive enough in the box," defender Dani Carvajal said. "On Tuesday, we need to lay it all on the line. They (Ajax) have had a good rest and we saw what they can do in the first leg. I hope the fans back us because we want to give them something to cheer."
Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund also need to overturn defeats by Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham to advance.
The Pakistan Cricket Board moved three PSL matches from Lahore to Karachi after political and military tension between India and Pakistan.
PCB chairman Ehsan Mani says the decision was made "following the delayed opening of the Lahore airspace for commercial flights which has created substantial operational and logistical challenges."
Last Tuesday, an Indian aircraft crossed into Pakistan and carried out what India called a pre-emptive strike against militants blamed for a Feb. 14 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops. Pakistan retaliated, shooting down a fighter jet Wednesday and detaining its pilot, who was returned to India on Friday.
"Due to the recent and prevailing uncertainty, we felt it critical to make a decisive decision at this juncture," Mani said in a statement. "Ensuring all the matches are played in Pakistan falls in line with our vision to take all eight matches of the PSL to the people of Pakistan."
Lahore was due to host three matches from March 9-12 but these will now take place in Karachi, along with five other PSL games.
Tournament matches are also held in the United Arab Emirates. The Pakistan leg of the PSL will now start two days earlier on March 9 with the final still scheduled for Karachi on March 17.
"This has been a difficult and tough decision, which has been taken following discussion and consultation with all the franchises and service providers," Mani said.
PSL is an annual Pakistan domestic league competed between six franchises named after major cities — Lahore, Karachi, Quetta, Islamabad, Peshawar, Islamabad and Multan.
Virat Kohli had stated that performance in the Indian Premier League will not influence India's World Cup selection. Speaking on the eve of first ODI between India and Australia, Virat had clearly laid out the road map ahead of World Cup.
“No, I don’t see the IPL having any influence on World Cup selection. I think that will be very, very radical sort of analysis,” he had said.
When asked about IPL’s impact on the selection of the World Cup squad, Ganguly said: “World Cup is how you play in the World Cup. It’s (IPL) a different tournament. You just play and move on to the World Cup,” Ganguly opined.
He termed the upcoming World Cup to be the strongest because of the format.
“It’s difficult to pick a winning recipe, you just have to play well. This will probably be the strongest World Cup because everybody plays everybody.
“A lot of strong teams this time. India, Australia England, West Indies, New Zealand, Pakistan play very well in England. After winning against South Africa, I hope Sri Lanka turn it around. It will be a good World Cup,” said Ganguly.
Former Australian cricketer Mike Hussey has picked his 15-member squad of Men in Blue for the World Cup. Hussey has omitted Rishabh Pant from his team as he preferred to go with Dinesh Karthik as second choice wicketkeeper batsman, while picking KL Rahul as a reserve opener. According to him, India are one of the favorites for the coveted title and it will not be easy for other teams to beat India in the showpiece event.
Mike Hussey's 15-member Indian squad for World Cup 2019: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (C), Amabati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja
Rohit and Dhawan have been kept as openers while Virat Kohli and Ambati Rayudu will follow next. Apart from choosing Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep as frontline spinners, he backed Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar as the main pace bowlers.
Men in Blue were in a spot of bother after losing three quick wickets in the first ODI against Australia in Hyderabad. However, veteran batsman MS Dhoni brought things under control and shared a match winning partnership with Kedar Jadhav.
Apart from playing some attractive strokes, they completed their individual fifties as well. After the quick dismissal of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu, they batted cautiously before unleasing their strokes.
Dhoni, who played another gem of an innings, hit a massive six against Coulter-Nile in the 38th over. With this big hit, he surpassed Rohit Sharma on the list of most number of sixes for India in ODI cricket. He now has 216 sixes in the format, one more than Rohit.
Most sixes for India in ODIs:
216 MS Dhoni*
215 Rohit Sharma
195 S Tendulkar
189 S Ganguly
153 Yuvraj Singh
131 V Sehwag
Earlier, Aussies posted a below par score of 236 for 7 from their allotted 50 overs. Indian bowlers had a reasonably good outing with Mohammed Shami and Kuldeep Yadav picking up two wickets each.
MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav produced another match winning performance to lead India to a 6-wicket win over Australia in the first ODI against Hyderabad. They stitched a match winning partnership of 141 runs for the fifth wicket to anchor another chase against Australia.
Kedhar Jadhav scored an unbeaten 81 while MS Dhoni amassed 59 not out to take India to win in 48.2 overs.
After Shikhar Dhawan's dismissal, Rohit and Kohli added 76 runs before Kohli was dismissed by Adam Zampa. Men in Blue then lost Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu in quick succession to leave India in tatters.
Dhoni’s experience combine with Kedar’s aggressive display panned out perfectly for India as they cruised to the target in the end.
Earlier, Aussies posted a below par score of 236 for 7 from their allotted 50 overs. Indian bowlers had a reasonably good outing with Mohammed Shami and Kuldeep Yadav picking two wickets each.
Morne Morkel has spoken in favor of retired Duanne Olivier. The young pace sensation shocked the world when he decided to bid adieu to international cricket in order to sign a Kolpak deal with Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
Morkel said that the timing of the decision was not right but Olivier took a family decision and everyone should respect his call.
“It's just unfortunate because Duanne had really settled in and is finding his feet … he knows what Test cricket is about. In terms of timing, it's not great. (But) I think that decision was made long before a couple of months ago. He weighed his options up and it was a family decision and you have to respect that,” Cricket.com.au quoted Morkel, as saying.
“It's never nice to lose quality players, you always want to see them play for South Africa. But I understand it completely and I wish him all the best,” he added.
Morkel wants Cricket South Africa to come up with a better plan to give career security to players.
“They have to sit down and come up with plans because they're going to lose a lot of players in the near future and they need to protect against that. Do you structure the contracting a little bit better? What security do you give the guys (in terms of) life after cricket? You talk about investing, but once a guy retires, they sort of drift away. I can name a number of players who they have invested a lot of money in, but you don't see them coaching, you don't see them involved with our academies,” he said.
“Give those guys a platform and say; 'we've invested in you for so many years when you're thinking of settling down or moving on, this is where we see a role for you,” he added.
Mohammed Shami bowled with a purpose during the first ODI between India and Australia in Hyderabad. After his sensational performance Down Under, Shami started brilliantly in the ODI series against Aaron Finch-led team. He cleaned up dangerous looking Glenn Maxwell with a peach of a delivery.
Shami bowled a length delivery which straightened a bit and went on to uproot the stumps. Maxwell was trying to swing through the line and completely missed the line, resulting in his dismissal.
Earlier, Maxwell was star of the T20 series. The right hand batsman was adjudged Man of the series for his sensational batting against Men in Blue.
The shock defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka notwithstanding there is little doubt that South Africa have a pretty impressive home record. In the past one year they have defeated India and Australia besides making a clean sweep of the three-Test series against Pakistan. And the main reason behind this triumphant run has been the high quality fast bowling attack. In Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier they have the most destructive pace bowling line-up since the days of the fearsome West Indian pace attack of the 80s. The figures associated with the South African quintet are of the mind boggling and eye rubbing variety and even the best of batsmen have not been able to succeed against them.
However for all their skill and hostility it must be said that the South African quicks have been helped by fast and bouncy tracks. But by playing to their main strength South Africa have also undermined the confidence of their batsmen. On such surfaces even the visiting fast bowlers are bound to strike gold and the result is that South Africa have generally been out for low totals. It is another matter that the superb fast bowling attack has been able to defend such totals.
Perhaps no other batsman symbolizes the manner in which the South Africans are being besieged as Hashim Amla. The epitome of class, style and skill Amla has been one of the truly great contemporary batsmen. His impeccable technique and unflappable temperament have also made him one of the most prolific run-getters in modern times. He is the only South African to hit a triple hundred in Tests and on the way he became among the fastest to reach several marks be it runs or centuries. His batting average for quite some time exceeded 50.
And yet Amla’s 28th and last hundred was compiled against Bangladesh in October 2017. Since then he has played 15 Tests (29 innings) without getting a hundred forced to be content with just half a dozen fifties. His average has slipped to 46 which does not measure up to the high standards he has set for himself. And after seemingly racing to the 10,000 run mark in Tests he is right now on 9282 after 124 matches. And while the fact remains that he has played 13 of those 15 Tests at home he has also failed in the two Tests he has played in Sri Lanka during the period.
Amla turns 36 next month and does not have time on his hands. And while his ODI form remains good – he averages almost 50 in this format – ironically he has been dropped from the squad to play Sri Lanka from Sunday. Perhaps the time has come for the selectors to drop Amla from the Test squad too. It will be a tough decision but sometimes these have to be taken in the larger interests of the team.
The landscape of the Indian terrain changed once more less than a fortnight ago, this time perhaps more laudably than it has had in years. In that light, while it is great that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided to scrap the opening ceremony of the Indian Premier League and instead donate the money, more needs to be done from the sport’s giant organization.
For a week now, the cacophony has been loud as it has been clear. Public sentiment is enraged that there is not enough being said from the Indian cricket contingent and fraternity, particularly the richest, most influential cricket body in the world in the wake of the Pulwama attacks on the Indian army convoy. While the nation mourned the loss of the brave soldiers who are just the latest in the line of casualties and lives lost with the ongoing proxy war at the country’s border over the Kashmir dispute, the time has come when the BCCI must now show its real mettle, where it matters.
For the past decade Pakistan cricketers were already isolated in that they were not allowed to play the IPL. A major setback even as cricketers from other countries cashed in on the money spinner, it failed to set straight Pakistan Cricket Board or the country in terms of realizing that in being isolated from a revenue source in a major world sport, Pakistan was facing dark days. The BCCI refused to honour its bilateral commitments in the wake of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai in 2008 which has meant that Pakistan were already at the losing end of the stick as far as a revenue generating bilateral series were concerned and their latest attempt to sue for compensation was squashed without ceremony.
However, given that India’s absence has seriously dented Pakistan’s cricket financially, if not in the sense of image, and with the BCCI being arguably the richest and the most influential cricket board anywhere in the world, generating almost seventy per cent of the world’s income from cricket, there is a loud silence emanating from the cricketers who represent the nation under the banner of the BCCI.
Although the sum from the IPL opening ceremony has been stated anywhere between five crore rupees to twenty crore rupees which will now be wisely donated to the martyrs’ families who suffered tremendous, irreplaceable loss as a result of the Pulwama attack, given that the Kashmir issue has been an ongoing point of contention between India and Pakistan and the loss of lives innumerable, there is grave dissatisfaction that the current generation of cricketers who are not only ambassadors for the country but also, have a formidable voice, particularly on social media, have not taken a stance but instead cowered under the unwritten gag order of the BCCI from speaking their minds and taking a stand.
While money will go a long way towards taking care of some of these families’ financial needs, it is ultimately not the solution or the means to an end to a problem that does not just affect one region of the country alone. With cricket being a pseudo religion in the country, cricket has the ability to make one of the bigger impacts on Pakistan’s income and reputation which is why India’s cricketing voice has to be one of the louder ones.
The governing body of Indian cricket unveiled the new Team India jersey for the World Cup. It was launched in the presence of Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw, Jemimah Rodrigues and Harmanpreet Kaur.
When asked about what Indian jersey reminds him, MS Dhoni said: "It always reminds me of the great legacy that we have got. It’s not only that. Playing each and every bilateral series, reaching No 1 across formats, all these are motivational stuff."
Virat Kohli spoke about the importance of jersey and what should be done to become a part of the Indian team.
"There is a certain importance and pride attached to this jersey. Everyone needs to realise that. You have to strive for excellence and show that you are obsessed to win every minute of the game. That’s how you get that jersey," said Kohli.
Cricket fanatics gave their reviews about Team India’s new jersey.
The upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League will benefit Men in Blue ahead of the World Cup. This was stated by none other than India chief selector MSK Prasad. He believes that the players should not be rested from the cash rich league because of the World Cup and the experience of playing in the league can be beneficial for players.
“I have a different view (on the IPL debate). IPL is an international tournament which offers so many complex pressure situations. Rather than sitting and training, you will have to go through so many pressure situations be it with the batting, bowling or fielding. This IPL offers a competitive atmosphere. If you see the example of 2013 and 2017 Champions Trophy, we did exceedingly well because we had IPL prior to that. It will only help our players which otherwise a normal bilateral series will definitely not offer. It is just four overs (for bowlers) but it is important how to keep themselves fit other than that,” Prasad said in the India Today’s panel discussion on Friday.
Earlier, Virat Kohli had said IPL performance will have no bearing on the World Cup team selection.
“No, I don’t see the IPL having any influence on World Cup selection. I think that will be very, very radical sort of analysis,” the Indian captain, known for his forthright views, said on the eve of the first ODI against Australia.
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