News Cricket

Whatever PCB is saying, it is not in our control, says Bharat Arun on complaint over Army Caps

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 2:05 PM IST


Bharat Arun, bowling coach of India, has defended Team India for wearing camouflage caps during the third ODI between India and Australia in Ranchi. According to him, players wanted to express solidarity with the Indian soldiers and complaint of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is beyond their control.

“We did what we really felt to show solidarity for the country. BCCI got permission for it. Whatever PCB is saying, it is not in our control,” Arun told reporters on the eve of fifth ODI between India and Australia.

Despite ICC's clarification that the BCCI had sought permission from it to wear the caps, the governing body of Pakistan cricket wrote to the International Cricket Council (ICC) that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was politicizing the game of cricket and should be penalized for their act.

"The BCCI sought permission from the ICC to wear the caps as part of a fundraising drive and in memory of fallen soldiers who have died, which was granted," ICC spokeswoman Claire Furlong had told The Associated Press in an e-mail on Monday.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani had said he has "strongly taken up the matter with the ICC."

"There's absolutely no misunderstanding in the ICC about our position," Mani said late Sunday in Karachi. "We believe that cricket and sports should not be used for politics and we have said this very clearly. Their (India) credibility in the cricketing world has gone down very badly."

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News Cricket

Surprising! Umesh Yadav opens batting for Vidarbha

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 3:33 PM IST


Indian speedster, Umesh Yadav is known for his bowling prowess but he was surprisingly promoted to open the batting for the two-time defending champions of Ranji Trophy, Vidarbha against Karnataka in the Super League of the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy.

Umesh Yadav started off with a bang and smacked a four but he was brought down to earth the very next delivery as he lost his wicket. He could score merely fours runs and this fancy experiment by Vidarbha failed miserably. This was the first time when Umesh batted in the top five in his cricket career.

Umesh Yadav was overlooked from India's squad for the five-match ODI series against Australia. It would be interesting to see whether he gets selected for the ICC showpiece event or not. Umesh Yadav didn't do too well in India's historic Test series win in Australia as well. And his stocks are on the down when it comes to the highest level.

News Cricket

PM Modi urges Dhoni, Virat , Rohit and Sachin to encourage people to vote

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 1:55 PM IST


Prime Minister has reached out to influential personalities from different categories to inspire people to come out and vote during the Lok Sabha Elections, which will being in April.

He urged cricketers MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag; shuttlers PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth; wrestlers Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Bajrang Punia, Geeta Phogat, Vinesh Phogat, Babita Phogat, Ritu Phogat and athlete Neeraj Chopra to encourage youth to vote in the elections.

In one of his tweets, he wrote: “Dear @msdhoni, @imVkohli and @ImRo45, You are always setting outstanding records on the cricketing field but this time, do inspire the 130 crore people of India to set a new record of high voter turnout in the upcoming elections. When this happens, democracy will be the winner!”.

Addressing Laxman, Sehwag and Kumble in another tweet, Prime Minister wrote: “Dear @anilkumble1074, @VVSLaxman281 and @virendersehwag – your heroic deeds on the cricket pitch have inspired millions. Come, it is time to inspire people once again, this time to vote in record numbers.”

He also requested other famous personalities to help him in this noble cause.

News Cricket

Confer knighthood on Kapil , Sachin, Akram: Pak-origin UK MP urges the government

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 1:49 PM IST


Conservative MP Rehman Chishti has requested the UK government to confer knighthood on Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and other legends from the Commonwealth Countries.

He stated when cricket legends such as Don Bradman (Australia) and Richard Hadlee (New Zealand) can be conferred knighthood, why not honour other cricketers from the Commonwealth region.

Chishti, MP from Gillingham and Rainham in Kent,raised the issue when foreign office minister Harriett Baldwin credited cricket for its positive influence on the region.

He said: “She mentioned cricket—many things bring happiness to us in the Commonwealth, and one of them is cricket—and perhaps she can clarify an anomaly.”

“In Australia, Sir Don Bradman was knighted, and in New Zealand, Sir Richard Hadlee was knighted, but there has been no knighthood for cricketers from Pakistan, India, South Africa or Sri Lanka, which have produced some brilliant cricketers”.

“From Sri Lanka we had Muralitharan; from Pakistan we had Wasim Akram and Imran Khan; from South Africa we had Jacques Kallis; and from India we had Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev. This is the year when we host the cricket World Cup. Can the Minister ensure that we rectify that anomaly so that all our counterparts in the Commonwealth are treated fairly and equally?”

His remarks drew a positive response from the foreign office minister.

She said: “Madam Deputy Speaker, have you ever heard such a compelling application to Her Majesty to recognise more cricketers from around the Commonwealth? I am sure that it will have been heard by the relevant people”.

“My hon. Friend is right; I mentioned Bangladeshi women’s cricket. I am also thrilled that in Rwanda, which is one of the newer members of the Commonwealth, cricket is fast growing into a very popular, if not leading, national sport. He is right to make the link between the Commonwealth and cricket”, Baldwin added.

News Cricket

Tind Chamak rahi hai teri Gabbar: Bhajji trolls Shikhar Dhawan in the most epic way

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 1:43 PM IST


Shikhar Dhawan, who slammed a magnificent hundred in the fourth ODI against Australia in Mohali, took to Instagram to post a picture from an event before the fifth and final ODI of the series. “Piche kaun kaun baitha hai? Can you spot some familiar faces? ”

The left hand batsman was trolled by his former Indian teammate Harbhajan Singh. "Tind Chamak rahi hai teri Gabbar," he wrote.

Dhawan was under the scanner following his poor run of form in the limited-overs cricket before the fourth ODI against Australia.

He had scored just 22 runs in the previous three games but produced a well compiled hundred in Mohali to signal his comeback to form.

He shared a record 193-run partnership with Rohit Sharma, who scored 95 runs.

Despite India's mammoth total of 358/9 in fifty overs, Usman Khawaja (91), Peter Handscomb (117) and Ashton Turner (84 not out) took Australia to win with 13 balls to spare.

News Cricket

After Dhoni and Siddharth, Shami hosts Men in Blue at his home

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 12:22 PM IST


Mohammed Shami hosted members of Team India for dinner at his residence in Delhi ahead of the fifth and final ODI against Australia at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Wednesday. The Indian pacer took to Twitter to thank teammates for making his evening special with their presence.

He also posted a picture with some of the players. In the photograph posted by him, he can be seen standing with Rishabh Pant, Kedar Jadhav and family members.

Earlier, MS Dhoni and Sakshi had also hosted Men in Blue for dinner at their home in Ranchi ahead of the third ODI against Australia. Yuzvendra Chahal had thanked the hosts for their hospitality.

India pacer Siddarth Kaul had hosted the whole team at his residence in Zirakpur ahead of the fourth ODI in Mohali. A day before hosting his teammates, Kaul had tied the knot with Harsimran Kaur.

News Cricket

Fit-again Hardik Pandya joins Mumbai Indians camp

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 12:08 PM IST


Hardik Pandya has joined the pre-season camp of three-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians. He was ruled out of the limited overs series against Australia due to lower back stiffness. Hardik did "strength endurance training" on the first day of the camp.

Hardik had returned to action during the limited-overs series in New Zealand after his ban was lifted by the BCCI. The Indian all-rounder was lambasted for his sexist comments on Koffee With Karan.

He was thinking of playing some matches of the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy but his team Baroda didn't qualify for the Super League.

Apart from Hardik and his brother, Jayant Yadav, Rahul Chahar, Barinder Sran, Rasikh Salam, Mitchell McClenaghan and Ishan Kishan have also joined the camp.

Mumbai Indians will open their IPL campaign against Delhi Capitals on March 24 at the Wankhede stadium.

News Football

Man City routs Schalke 7-0, into Champions League quarters

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 11:33 AM IST


A record-tying victory in the last 16 and a quarterfinal lineup lacking at least three of Europe's top teams suggests this just might be Manchester City's year in the Champions League.

No matter how much Pep Guardiola protests to the contrary.

With a 7-0 thrashing of Schalke on Tuesday that completed a 10-2 aggregate victory, City eased into the last eight of European soccer's most prestigious competition for the third time in four seasons and confirmed its status as one of the favorites — whatever Guardiola might be saying in public.

Even if history is not on their side — Guardiola recently called City a "teenage" side that is "still not ready to fight for the latter stages" — the form of his players certainly is.

Make that 61 goals in 18 games in 2019, with only eight conceded. Perhaps more extraordinarily, it was the seventh time that City have scored six or more goals in a game this season.

"This club, the best success in the history (in the Champions League) is a semifinal, compared to Real Madrid with 13 (titles). Or Barcelona, Liverpool, Juventus, who have how many? Six, seven, eight?" Guardiola said. "It is why when the people say, 'You have to win, you have to win,' when you are out in the quarterfinals it is a disaster. It is not fair."

But City and Guardiola, the man brought in at huge expense so the Abu Dhabi-backed club can finally conquer Europe, are running out of excuses.

City have arguably its deepest and most talented squad ever. Paris Saint-Germain and titleholder Real Madrid are already out. One of Bayern Munich and Liverpool will be eliminated. Barcelona still has it all to do against Lyon on Wednesday, with the teams locked at 0-0 after the first leg.

There is no denying it has opened up for City.

Certainly Schalke was in no shape to stop Guardiola's side.

This season's round of 16 has featured some memorable comebacks so far — notably from Ajax and Manchester United last week — but Schalke's chances of overturning a 3-2 first-leg deficit virtually disappeared when Sergio Aguero chipped home a 35th-minute penalty to make it 1-0 in the second leg at Etihad Stadium.

Aguero doubled the lead three minutes later after running onto Raheem Sterling's deft backheel, Leroy Sane stroked in another goal before halftime, before Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus added second-half goals for City against the demoralized visitors from Germany.

The win equaled the 7-0s recorded by Bayern Munich against Basel (2012) and Shakhtar Donetsk (2015). The latter was achieved when Guardiola was coach at Bayern.

"We fell apart. The look of tension is the worst since I have been here," said Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco, who is fighting for his job with his team just four points above the relegation zone in the Bundesliga.

With two months left of the season, a quadruple of trophies remains on for City, which has already won the English League Cup, is top of the Premier League, and plays second-tier Swansea in the FA Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.

Winning the Champions League for the first time will be the toughest task, especially with Juventus still involved. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick on Tuesday, including a late penalty, as Juventus beat Atletico Madrid 3-0 and advanced 3-2 on aggregate.

Manchester United, Tottenham, Porto and Ajax are the other teams to qualify for the quarterfinals, the draw for which takes place on Friday.

"Madrid is out but still Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo," Guardiola said. "He goes there to win the Champions League with Juventus. He has all the pressure on his shoulders, he scores three against Atletico Madrid and goes through — that is the type of guy you face (in) the next stages. We are going to try. If it doesn't work, I am sorry but I assure you next season we are going to try."

News Football

Ronaldo nets hat trick to send Juventus into CL quarters

AP Updated: 13 March, 2019, 11:29 AM IST


Cristiano Ronaldo made a mockery of Atletico Madrid's vaunted defense, and then mocked its coach as well.

Ronaldo scored a hat trick against the normally resilient Spanish side to send Juventus into the Champions League quarterfinals with a 3-0 win on Tuesday as the Bianconeri fought back from a two-goal first-leg defeat.

The former Real Madrid player outjumped Atletico's defenders to score a header in each half and then converted a late penalty for his first hat trick since joining Juventus in the summer — and just when they needed it most.

He celebrated at the final whistle by mimicking the obscene gesture Atletico coach Diego Simeone made after the Spanish side's second goal in the first leg — having the final say against a rival he so often defeated as a Real Madrid player.

Simeone was fined 20,000 euros ($22,500) by UEFA for improper conduct and it remains to be seen whether Ronaldo will face a similar punishment.

It was Ronaldo's eighth hat trick in the Champions League, moving him level with Barcelona's Lionel Messi and demonstrating why Juventus paid Real Madrid 112 million euros (then $131.5 million) for the Portugal star who has dominated the competition in recent years.

It was the first time Juventus came back from a two-goal defeat in the first leg.

"Maybe that's why Juventus signed me," Ronaldo said. "To help it do things that it had never done before. This result is a great push for the future, we're strong and we showed it."

The 34-year-old Ronaldo has won the Champions League five times, including in four of the last five seasons. Without him, Madrid was eliminated by Ajax last week.

However, Ronaldo had only scored one goal in the competition for Juventus until Tuesday.

"It would have been strange if Ronaldo's Champions League season ended with only one goal," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "Juventus signed him for nights like this and tonight he made the difference."

For Atletico, it was more heartache in the competition in the year the final is being held in its Wanda Metropolitano Stadium — and more pain caused by Ronaldo. While at Madrid, Ronaldo helped beat Atletico in two Champions League finals.

He has also now scored 25 goals against Atletico in his career.

"He's the best in the world," Simeone said. "We suffered, as happened to them in the first leg. They're through and that's right. They deserved it ... Maybe I didn't manage to transmit to my players what we needed."

News Tennis

Bad day for No. 1s: Djokovic, Osaka upset at Indian Wells

AP Updated: 13 March, 2019, 11:24 AM IST


It was a tough day for seeded players at the BNP Paribas Open, with Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, the world's top-ranked players, ushered out in the desert.

Djokovic and Philipp Kohlschreiber resumed their third-round match that was suspended because of rain a night earlier. The unseeded German knocked off the five-time tournament champion 6-4, 6-4.

Osaka lost to Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-1 in just over an hour in the fourth round of the first title defense of her career.

"She sort of came out there really aggressive," Osaka said. "She sort of knew what she wanted to do more than me."

Since Osaka won the title at Indian Wells a year ago, she won the U.S and Australian opens. Her triumph in Australia made her No. 1 for the first time, but her time at the top has been rocky. Osaka fired her coach and lost in the first round in Dubai before taking on a new coach, Jermaine Jenkins, who came on court during the match.

"It's always a bit tricky whenever you change someone in the team, but I feel like for a first tournament we did really well," Osaka said. "We communicate well, so I think that's a really big plus. I don't think it's going to be difficult."

On Tuesday, the 23rd-ranked Bencic served and returned better.

The bottom half of the men's draw still includes No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal and fourth-seeded Roger Federer, both of whom breezed to victory.

Djokovic owned an 8-1 record against Kohlschreiber, who beat a No. 1 player for the first time.

Kohlschreiber liked the weather — sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s — much better than the cold and rain on Tuesday night.

"I liked my chances more at night against Kohlschreiber, but it wasn't to be last night," Djokovic said. "Completely different conditions today. I congratulate him for playing tactically really well and getting me out of my comfort zone. He deserved to win."

The 35-year-old German started thinking he had a chance early in the first set when he survived a handful of break points on his serve.

"I would say after 3-all in the first set I felt like getting closer to the set, holding my service games, which is not easy against Novak, because he's such a great returner," Kohlschreiber said. "I know from that point on it's gonna be a very interesting match."

Djokovic was just 1-for-5 on break-point opportunities. Kohlschreiber converted three of his four chances.

Next up for Kohlschreiber is Gael Monfils, who owns a 13-2 record against the German.

Djokovic remains alive in doubles with partner Fabio Fognini. Djokovic returned about an hour after his loss for their match.

"When I hit a good return, I was wondering why this didn't happen in singles," he said.

Also ousted were No. 6 Kei Nishikori, No. 10 Marin Cilic and No. 14 Daniil Medvedev.

Nadal eased by 25th-seeded Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-1, while Federer defeated Swiss countryman Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 6-4.

In women's fourth-round matches, No. 2 Simona Halep lost to Marketa Vondrousova 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 and No. 7 Kiki Bertens was beaten by 20th-seeded Garbine Muguruza 5-7, 6-1, 6-4.

Venus Williams reached the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Mona Barthel.

"I haven't played that much, so I wanted to make it count," said Williams, who expects to play about 12 tournaments this year. "I need to do what I want, and what I want is to play the tournaments I want to play."

Bianca Andreescu, an 18-year-old Canadian, beat 18th-seeded Wang Qiang 7-5, 6-2.

News Cricket

Shane Warne comes down hard on MS Dhoni’s critics

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 11:18 AM IST


Shane Warne has slammed critics of MS Dhoni. He said anyone criticizing MS Dhoni has absolutely no idea what they are talking about. Warne believes Dhoni is a "must-have" player and he can guide his side through a tough situation.

"When things are tough, you need experienced guys in your side like MS Dhoni. For me, MS Dhoni is a great player and a must-have player in your side," Warne told ANI here on Tuesday.

"Anyone criticizing MS Dhoni has absolutely no idea what they are talking about," Warne added.

When asked about the World Cup favorites, he said: "I think India and England must go in the favourites because of the cricket they have played over the last six to 12 months but I think Australia is starting to develop that belief where they can win from anywhere again."

News Cricket

Afghanistan add 2 bowlers for one-off Test against Ireland

Staff Writer Updated: 13 March, 2019, 10:49 AM IST


Afghanistan have added two uncapped bowlers in its squad for the one-off test against Ireland starting on Friday.  

Left-arm spinner Zahir Khan passed a fitness test and medium-fast bowler Sayed Shirzad was called up as another option.  

"Zahir Khan and Sayed Shirzad have very good bowling records in first-class cricket and have played in the Intercontinental Cup," chief selector Dawlat Ahmadzai said in a statement on Tuesday.  

Zahir has 34 wickets in seven first-class matches at an average of 13.14.  

Shirzad 49 wickets at an average of 25.38.  

Afghanistan whitewashed Ireland 3-0 in the Twenty20 series, but Ireland twice came from behind to level the ODI series 2-2.  

It will be second test for both teams since being awarded test status in 2017.  

Last year, Afghanistan made its test debut against India, and Ireland hosted Pakistan in its debut test.  

Afghanistan: Asghar Afghan (captain), Mohammad Shahzad, Ihsanullah Janat, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Nasir Jamal, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Ikram Alikhail, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Wafadar Momand, Yamin Ahmadzai, Sharafudin Ashraf, Waqar Salamkhail, Zahir Khan, Sayed Shirzad.

News Cricket

Former Indian player hits out at Dhoni's critics, says his place is unchallenged

Staff Writer Updated: 12 March, 2019, 5:46 PM IST


With an average of 81.75, Indian wicket-keeper batsman, MS Dhoni has regained his old touch in 2019. He was adjudged Man-of-the-Series in India's historical bilateral ODI series triumph over Australia, earlier, this year, where he scored three half-centuries in as many games. Dhoni is one of the most integral parts of team India. He brings a wealth of experience with him and is often quite helpful to regular Indian skipper, Virat Kohli.

"Juggle his batting position based on the situation. Dhoni's hitting form is very crucial, if India want to go all the way in the World Cup. His place in the side is unchallenged. He doesn't get out easily and there is no question about his wicketkeeping skills. He has played a pivotal role in the rise of two wrist spinners (Yadav and Chahal). India need Dhoni's calmness in the World Cup," Sanjay Manjrekar was quoted as saying by The Times of India.

MS Dhoni has been rested from India's squad for last two games against Australia. India and Australia will lock horns in Delhi in series-decider on March 13.

Feature Cricket

Undermining Test Cricketers

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 12 March, 2019, 4:18 PM IST


On the one hand, the International Cricket Council (ICC) claims that Test cricket has seen a record number of spectators in the past year. Yet on the other hand, closer to home, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), in its wisdom, has decided not to reward an outstanding Test cricketer.

Even as talk about Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, catching up fast on Sachin Tendulkar’s records is doing the rounds, what is being missed and raised only as if on a soon-to-be-forgotten epitaph is the mention of Cheteshwar Pujara staying on a central contract with a grading of A instead of being promoted to A+. It is interesting that while one cricketer is being hailed and rightly so, Pujara’s efforts are being placed in the same category as Rishabh Pant who has just made the grade.

At one point, mid-way through last year, Ravi Shastri, Indian coach, and Kohli, India’s captain, was staring down the barrel, as England capitalized on pivotal moments to hand India a stunning defeat even though India were widely tipped for Test series success on English shores. Even as India’s think tank were facing the possibility of an intense scrutiny, one man was silently resurrecting his own hopes and fortunes as well as India’s.

It would not be unfair to say that Cheteshwar Pujara’s century in Southampton was a warm up and a premonition of what could be expected of the sublime, understated, highly unrated cricketer. Bracketed in the Test cricket category, Pujara managed to turn around a bleak streak into a blitzkrieg down under, scoring 521 runs and three Test centuries as India pulled off their first overseas Test series win in over seventy years. At a time when it was widely expected that Virat Kohli would set the stage alight, Pujara proved first to be an anchor (batting for over 1250 balls for the series and surpassing Rahul Dravid) and then as the matchwinner that would repeatedly take India into a winning position.

In that scenario, it seems very unappreciative to keep Pujara stagnant at an A grade level instead of incentivizing performances, particularly in the Test cricket context, and elevating the player to the A plus grade. Instead he now shares the stage with Shikar Dhawan who has been downgraded from A plus to A and with Rishabh Pant who, with no disrespect to his own performances, is still a novice amongst veterans in the A grade category.

What is even more bizarre is that Rohit Sharma finds himself continuing on in the A plus grade alongside Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah although it has been said for sometime now that Rohit has been a hugely inconsistent, irregular player in India’s Test line up who has been accorded the long rope at a length. In that light, it seems rather demotivating that a cricketer who would take India to summits previously unscaled should have his status in a status quo situation while he watches young one rise up the ranks and some others being continually favoured for reasons best left to those in power. Furthermore, there is every bit the danger that every cricketer who is slotted as a Test cricket specialist feel disenchanted by the prospect, turning to more lucrative but less fulfilling formats. This is perhaps the loudest signal echoing from the powerful cricket board for over a decade, giving precedence to commercial success of the Indian Premier League over upholding the pristine integrity of Test cricket and the players who feature in it.

News Cricket

Sanjay Manjrekar announces his no.4 for India's ODI side

Staff Writer Updated: 12 March, 2019, 4:16 PM IST


Ambati Rayudu's failures in the first three ODIs resulted in his axing from the side in fourth ODI against Australia in Mohali. In the fourth game, India demoted their skipper, Virat Kohli to no.4, with KL Rahul batting at no.3. But, KL Rahul failed to impress and didn't have the right intent to strike gold in what was a big opportunity for him.

Former Indian cricketer, Sanjay Manjrekar has suggested the player that he thinks should get a go-ahead at no.4 for world's no.2 ranked ODI side.

“Vijay Shankar is my number 4 for his ability to hit sixes as well as rotate the strike. Play him as a batsman. As a bowler, he’s worth only three-odd bonus overs, not seven or the full quota of 10,” the cricketer-turned-commentator was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

Vijay Shankar has been impressive in whatever opportunities he has got so far in the limited-overs format. The fact that he can send down a few overs as well, makes him a good option for the team.

When asked about Rayudu's case for the same role, Manjrekar said: “After his 90 against New Zealand in Wellington, I was sure he had cemented his spot. But three low scores and the rise of Vijay Shankar thereafter have put his place in question.”