Opinion Tennis

Why is Djokovic struggling?

Mohd Asim Updated: 6 April, 2018, 7:15 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

While the tennis world is witnessing the blooms of Roger Federer’s late spring, it is also viewing the barren spell of Novak Djokovic’s title drought. While the fans of the Swiss maestro are over the moon, the Serb maverick’s fans are down to earth and almost out. Djokovic had been doing well till the French Open last year. He won the French Open and in the process achieved the rare honor of holding all the four grand slam titles at that moment. The honor lasted just one month. He lost the Wimbledon final to Andy Murray. It turned out that he lost just more than a grand slam title.

From that point onwards, Djokovic’s fortunes took a free fall. He has lost all the grand slam tournaments he participated since then. This year’s Australian Open was perhaps the nadir – he lost in the second round to Denis Istomin, an obscure Uzbekistani player who was ranked 117th at that time. Overall, he has won just two of the 11 tournaments he played in since his French triumph last year. That does not befit a player of his stature.

What are the reasons for this eclipse? Does he have any psychological or physical problems? Read on. This article tries to shed light on the various reasons that led to a spectacular collapse of a mighty tennis player.

Story of a Collapse

Djokovic lost to Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final last year. At that time, it was seen as a welcome change from the sheer dominance of the Serb in the tennis world. In fact, he showed no signs of any weakness in the next tournament he participated, the Canadian Open, couple of weeks after the Wimbledon loss. He won the Canadian Open by outclassing the likes of Tomáš Berdych, Gaël Monfils and Kei Nishikori. It was yet another typical flawless performance.

The first visible signs of the decay, in hindsight, were observed in the Summer Olympics in Brazil. Juan Martin del Potro, coming off from long injury-forced break, ousted him in the first round itself. It was seen at that time as a one-off bad day in the office. Moreover, del Potro in his prime is a mean opponent. Bad luck, more than anything, was the presumed reason for the defeat.

Then came the US Open. Djokovic galloped to the finals. He was aided by the retirements of his opponents midway through the match in the second round and quarter final. He faced Stan Wawrinka in the final and lost in four sets. He lost the first set in tie breakers, won the second set and then lost his rhythm to concede the next two sets. Again the pundits found some valid reasons for his failure in the final. Wawrinka is a big match player, who punches well above his weight in grand slam finals. Djokovic merely became the latest victim of this unusual capacity of Wawrinka. Such explanations, however, would soon dry out. He lost in the fourth round of the Paris Masters against Marin Èiliæ. And in the prestigious, season-ending ATP Masters tournament in London, he lost to Andy Murray in straight sets in the final.

Djokovic started 2017 well. In the first tournament of the new season, the Qatar Open, he defeated Andy Murray in the final to win the title. It was pointed out that rest and relaxation during a month-long off-season brought him back to his best. He was in good frame of mind coming into the Australian Open. In fact, he was one of the favourites to win the Australian Open. You know what happened next. A second round exit only confirmed what many has been suspecting for a few months: there is something wrong with Djokovic.

After the Australian Open loss, he participated in the Davis Cup in Serbia’s tie against Russia. He was entirely convincing in the match against Daniil Medvedev. He lost the first set, but came back well by winning the next two. In the crucial fourth set, Medvedev retired and Djokovic won. The next two tournaments confirmed beyond any doubt that Djokovic is struggling and is struggling badly. In the Mexico Open, another hard court tournament, the young Nick Kyrgios dispatched him in the quarter finals in straight sets. Djokovic ran into the same opponent a couple of weeks later in the Indian Wells Open, which he had won five times in the last six years. Kyrgios showed no mercy as he brutally assaulted the Serb and returned with another straight set win. Djokovic was due to participate in the Miami Open. But he withdrew from the tournament, citing an elbow injury. It is not known when he would come back. He is likely to return by the time of the French Open. But will he return to his old self? That is the million dollar question. To answer that, one must search for the reasons of his downfall. Here are some potential reasons.

Lack of Motivation

It is hard to keep the motivation going once you achieve all there are to achieve. You cannot find fault with Djokovic if he gets a sense of being content after holding all the grand slam crowns at the same time – the 2015 Wimbledon, the 2015 US Open, the 2016 Australian Open and the 2016 French Open. Many thought he was well on his way to a proper grand slam in 2016. That was a good enough motivation to get going. However, the dream died in the Wimbledon. Perhaps, Djokovic lost his motivation too.

Sunil Gavaskar, the Indian cricket legend, once revealed how the idea of retirement from cricket crossed his mind. Once he started to look frequently at the clock during lunch breaks, to check how much time remaining for the lunch break, he figured out that he was losing the motivation to play cricket. It can happen to the best of the athlete. Even Sachin Tendulkar, by his own admission, found it hard to do all the fitness regime in the morning towards the end of the career. If there is no motivation in the mind, the body will be unwilling to perform at the best it can. Perhaps, Djokovic too suffers from the same problem.

Change of supporting staff

A lot has been written about the split-up between Djokovic and his most successful coach Boris Becker. The duo split towards the end of the last season. There was not bitter blood between them, as both respect each other. However, there were rumours that Djokovic’s faith in the maverick tennis guru Pepe Imaz may have led to the split. Imaz was a journeyman tennis player, who played in the ATP circuit, before becoming a self-styled tennis guru. He claims he offers peace of mind and mental calmness to the players. Djokovic reacts angrily to any suggestions about the influence of Imaz.

He recently exploded in a press meet when somebody asked about the role of this ‘guru’: “I don’t know where you heard that he’s a guru, first of all. He’s been in tennis for all his life. I’m just glad that he came this week, together with my brother, to be with me and work with me. I’m not going to go into details, because there is no sense. I know certain media is trying to find a story here in calling him guru. I’m not going to give any room for speculations anymore. He’s been there, and he’s part of the coaching team and that’s all.” It only indicates whatever advise the new guru offers for keeping Djokovic’s mind peaceful, it is not working.

Loss of Confidence

Confidence is often the elevator that separates the high rises of success from the dusty corridors of failure. After successive defeats, Djokovic’s confidence seems to have taken a beating. He never struggled in his career like he did against Kyrgios in the recent tournaments, especially in hard courts. The frequent outburst of anger are the telltale signs of confidence loss. He has been breaking rackets, hitting the ball towards ball boys, ball girls and even to the crowd in anger, more often than ever before. Even the line umpires had to take evasive action from a galloping piece of broken racket that Djokovic slammed to the court in anger. In other words, he is unleashing inner McEnroe when points are lost.

Injury Worries

As if these are not enough, he has to cope with injuries too. He withdrew from the Miami Open because of elbow injury a couple of days before the tournament. He revealed his withdrawal through a Facebook post: “My doctor has strongly advised against play because my elbow injury, that I keep carrying on for months, got worse in the past week. I will do everything in my power to recover and do all the necessary therapy to be able to return on court as soon as possible.”

There were skeptics who hint there is something wrong with the Djokovic camp. Former champion Andre Agassi believes Djokovic’s problems are mental than physical: “If it was a physical thing it would be obvious. So there’s got to be something emotional, mental, behind the curtain that only he and his team know.” Meanwhile, Djokovic apologized to the fans for his last minute withdrawal from the Miami Open through Twitter. “I apologize to my fans and ppl who purchased tickets to watch me play live at @MiamiOpen. Sadly, I’m injured and won’t be able to compete”, he tweeted.

His fans and people will be more worried if this slump is prolonged. Djokovic is struggling and nobody other than he and his team knows the exact reasons behind it. If he is looking for some inspiration and mental toughness, he does not need to go after mediocre tennis players posing as new-age gurus. He only needs to look at the recent triumphs of the one and only guru in tennis: Roger Federer.

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News Cricket

Shubman Gill, Khaleel Ahmed set to play in the fourth ODI against New Zealand?

Staff Writer Updated: 30 January, 2019, 3:18 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • The Men in Blue have an unassailable lead of 3-0 in the five-match ODI series against New Zealand.
  • The last two games are going to be dead rubbers.
  • India are likley to give their reserve players game time in remainder of the series.

The Men in Blue have been in blazing form so far in the ODI series against New Zealand. India won the five-match ODI series after they clinched the third ODI at Bay Oval, which means the next two games are going to be dead rubbers. And it might be a perfect time for them to try out reserve players and India's fielding coach, R Sridhar has also indicated to something of that sort.

"See, winning is a habit which we would obviously want to continue. When you're one-up or three-up against a team, you want to continue with the form; you want to don't want to let down the intensity. At the same time, we also need to give game-time to our reserves. There's just seven games remaining for us before we play our first World Cup game. We should not end up in a situation where the main eleven has played and the reserves have not got enough game time, and then suddenly they have to play an important crucial game in the World Cup," Sridhar said on the eve of the fourth ODI.

"And that is what we would like to achieve from the remaining two games in this series and no better place than New Zealand to simulate the conditions in England in June," he added.

Players like Mohammed Siraj, Khaleel Ahmed, Ravindra Jadeja, and Shubman Gill have not got a chance to play in the ongoing series so far. Shubman Gill is likely to make his ODI debut tomorrow given India would like to test him before the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

Mohammed Shami might get some rest after he has featured in India's XI in last six ODIs. He was also part of the team in all the four Tests against Australia. Khaleel Ahmed, who impressed one and all last year in home series against Windies might get preference over Mohammed Siraj, who looked sluggish in the only ODI he played in Australia.

Given the fact that India have got back an all-rounder in form of Hardik Pandya, and the wrist-spin duo of Chahal and Kuldeep is doing extremely well, Jadeja might not get a go in the fourth ODI.

News Cricket

Playing Test cricket against Australia in Australia is more than a dream, says Rashid Khan

Staff Writer Updated: 30 January, 2019, 1:57 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Limited overs specialist Rashid Khan is looking forward to take on Australia
  • Rashid reckons it is more than a dream to play Australia in Australia
  • He said wickets in Australia are bowling friendly

Limited overs specialist Rashid Khan is looking forward to take on Australia in Whites next year. Being the newest member of the Test playing nations, Rashid reckons it is more than a dream to play Australia in Australia.

“From Afghanistan, playing Test cricket against Australia in Australia it’s more than a dream. Afghanistan got the full membership and last we played against India in India and now we’re playing against Ireland in India and then Australia here,” Cricket.com.au quoted Rashid, as saying.

“Being a player, it means a lot. Against Australia, playing Test matches is a huge achievement and me and the players are really looking forward (to it). We played here (in T20 games) a lot but, Test cricket is very different. Pretty excited to face the quick bowlers here, big bouncy wickets,” he added.

He said wickets in Australia are bowling friendly and he is hoping to not get a juicy track like Perth when they take on the home team.

“As we have seen against India, I think wickets are very tough here to bat on, especially in the Test cricket. I hope that we don’t play in Perth, we play somewhere else on a good wicket to make some runs and a little bit good for the spinner as well,” Rashid said.

News Cricket

Michael Vaughan mocks Team India and Sanjay Manjrekar with a sassy tweet

Staff Writer Updated: 30 January, 2019, 1:48 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Michael Vaughan mocked Sanjay Manjrekar after he criticized Trevor Bayliss
  • England lost the series opener in the Caribbean by 381 runs
  • Curran was adjudged Player of the Series for his remarkable performance

Former England skipper Michael Vaughan mocked Sanjay Manjrekar after he criticized the current English coach Trevor Bayliss for his take on Sam Curran's performance in the first Test against the Windies. England lost the series opener in the Caribbean by 381 runs. They scored 77 and 246 in the first and second innings respectively. The management was lambasted for preferring Sam Curran over Stuart Broad in the playing XI. After facing humiliating defeat, coach Bayliss had defended Curran's selection stating that he had the first bad game of his career.

“It was down to Curran and Broad [for the final seamer]. Our gut feel was Curran as he has done well for us over the last six or seven games. It didn’t work out like that, the young bloke has had his first bad Test in his career. It won’t be his last but he’s a good young player who will learn from it,” Bayliss had said after the game.

However, his words didn't go down well with the former Indian player, Sanjay Manjrekar, who took to Twitter to point out flawed approach adopted by the visitors.

“Trevor Bayliss said that Sam Curran has endured the first bad game of his career. Curran has 15 wickets in 15 innings. So it’s more his batting Bayliss is talking about…Curran bats at no 8 & 9. Highlights the flawed thinking & approach of England. #ENGvWI,” wrote Manjrekar.

He was given an apt response by Michael Vaughan, who reminded him of Curran's performance against India. Curran was adjudged Player of the Series for his remarkable performance in England's 4-1 win over India.

News Cricket

Saurashtra coach blasts people who called Cheteshwar Pujara a "cheat"

Staff Writer Updated: 30 January, 2019, 12:47 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Pujara was lucky in both innings of Ranji's semi-final game as he wasn't given out after edging the ball
  • He didn't walk off after edging the ball both the times, which rubbed the crowd the wrong way
  • Sitanshu Kotak has come out in support of Pujara

Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has been in the center of the storm after he didn't walk off after edging the ball in both the innings of the Ranji Trophy's semi-final clash between Saurashtra and Karnataka, which Saurashtra won easily to qualify for the finals on the back of centuries from Pujara and Sheldon Jackson.

Pujara was batting on just 34 in the fourth innings of the semi-final clash when he edged the ball to the keeper. The umpire failed to see the edge and didn't give him out. A similar incident had happened in Saurashtra's first innings as well. Pujara didn't walk off on both occasions and this didn't go down too well with the Bengaluru crowd, which turned hostile, and chants of "cheater" started doing the rounds at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Reflecting on the incident, Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak was quoted as saying by MID-DAY, “It is wrong on the crowd’s part. Has Vinay Kumar ever called a batsman back in his career for being given out wrongly? If he has not done so then he has no right to complain.

“I don’t think it makes any sense [to criticize Pujara]. In my career, I would have got 20 to 30 ridiculously bad decisions and never has anyone called me back because the opposition were so happy that Kotak was out. Pujara is a far better player than me. If somebody calls you back when you are not out, then you are allowed to walk against them.

“Honestly, you feel you should walk, but it is unfair to the team because when he is actually not out and still given out, nobody calls you back.

Feature Cricket

Jason Holder – The man who can inspire Windies to great deeds

Partab Ramchand Updated: 30 January, 2019, 12:15 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Holder has looked the part trying his best to inspire his weak side to play above their potential
  • His unbroken seventh wicket partnership of 295 runs with Shane Dowrich ruthlessly consolidated the West Indian position
  • Holder’s unbeaten 202 – the third highest score by a No 8 batsman in Test cricket – broke several records

Shortly afterwards he had sealed the West Indian victory in the first Test against England at Bridgetown with innings figures of eight for 60 off spinner Roston Chase spoke with feeling about Jason Holder hailing his captain as a ``legend in my eyes, a longtime friend who I believe in and who believes in himself on the field.’’ It was a fitting tribute to a man who is a born leader. ’

It is unfortunate that thanks to several run-ins with the authorities several leading cricketers prefer to ply their trade in the various T-20 leagues around the world instead of representing the West Indies. At full strength, they would not only be a far stronger side but also a very exciting one. But recent results have shown that the West Indies might just be turning the corner. And the man responsible for this, the man who can lead them to at least something of their past glory has to be Holder.

Ever since he took over the leadership the soft spoken, affable 27 year old Holder has looked the part trying his best to inspire his weak side to play above their potential. Leading from the front has come naturally to him and what happened a few days ago at Bridgetown was the high point of this aspect of his captaincy. His unbroken seventh wicket partnership of 295 runs with Shane Dowrich ruthlessly consolidated the West Indian position and saw them finish with a crushing 381 run victory – their third highest in terms of a run margin – with a day to spare. Holder’s unbeaten 202 – the third highest score by a No 8 batsman in Test cricket – broke several records and has lifted him to the No 1 spot among the all rounds in the ICC rankings ahead of Ravindra Jadeja and Shakib al Hasan and making him the first West Indian to occupy the top slot since the one and only Gary Sobers. To highlight the greatness of Holder’s achievement it must be pointed out that Sobers held the spot in March 1974.

The team is certainly developing along the right lines. In Shai Hope and Darren Bravo they have two high class batsmen and in Kraigg Brathwaite they have an opening batsman who has delivered. Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach are two very fine fast bowlers and in Shimron Hetmyer they have an emerging star. All the pieces have just to fall in place for the West Indies and there is little doubt that Holder will have a crucial role to play in this process.

News Cricket

MS Dhoni returns as Men in Blue sweat out hard in the nets ahead of 4th ODI

Staff Writer Updated: 30 January, 2019, 12:15 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Men in Blue have won 7 out of 8 matches in his captaincy
  • Rohit has hit 215 sixes in his ODI career
  • MS Dhoni, who missed out in the 3rd match, was seen at the nets

After winning the ODI series in the third match, the Indian team hit the nets ahead of the fourth ODI at Hamilton. MS Dhoni, who missed the last game following hamstring trouble, was seen at the nets, which is a welcoming news considering Virat Kohli's absence.

India could go in with the reserve players in the upcoming match to test the bench strength. The match will also be memorable for stand in skipper Rohit Sharma, as he will become the 14th Indian cricketer to play 200 ODIs for the country.

Men in Blue have won 7 out of 8 matches in his captaincy and will be looking to carry on with the winning momentum.

He needs just one six to become the highest six-hitter for India. Rohit has hit 215 sixes in his ODI career and shares the record with MS Dhoni.

News Cricket

South African captain Faf du Plessis announces his favorites for 2019 World Cup

Staff Writer Updated: 30 January, 2019, 11:55 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Du Plessis downplayed South Africa's chances in the mega event.
  • Faf named his two favorites for 2019 Cricket World Cup.
  • 2019 Cricket World Cup will be played in Engalnd and Wales.

South Africa is currently taking on Pakistan in five-match ODI series at home. The series is currently tied at 2-2, which makes for a riveting series-decider. Faf has named two teams which he thinks are going to be red-hot favorites to lift the 2019 Cricket World Cup, which will be played in England and Wales.

"It is pretty clear that England and India are the two favorites," Faf said. England and India are ranked no.1 and no.2 in ICC Men's ODI team rankings. After the 2015 World Cup disaster, England have completely changed its approach towards 50-overs format. They play the game in a bold and audacious manner while the Men in Blue, who were finalists in the 2017 Champions Trophy have been consistent performers in ODI cricket for last few years.

Du Plessis downplayed South Africa's chances in the mega event. The Proteas skipper said, “When opponents look at us now, we are not the strongest team. But when a South Africa team goes to the World Cup, the chat in the media starts, even the opposition starts to chat!”

“We will go with a little bit less pressure on us as a team in terms of the expectation of winning it,” he added.

News Cricket

Sarfraz Ahmed hits back at Shoaib Akhtar for "personally" attacking him

Staff Writer Updated: 30 January, 2019, 11:03 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Sarfraz Ahmed has been under the pump right since he directed racist remarks at Andile Phehlukwayo.
  • Pakistan captian has returned back home.
  • Sarfraz has targeted Shoaib Akhtar for making personal attacks at him.

Pakistani skipper Sarfraz Ahmed has been under the pump right since he directed racist remarks at South African all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo. He was handed four-match suspension by the ICC for breaching anti-racism code.

Sarfraz Ahmed has returned back home. In his absence, Shoaib Malik has been tasked with captaining the Pakistani side.

Sarfraz targeted former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar for making personal attacks at him.

“He [Shoaib Akhtar] is attacking me personally not criticizing,” Geo TV quoted Sarfraz, as saying.

“I accepted my mistake and received the punishment. I want to thank PCB for handling this case and fulfilling requirements. I will improve myself and my performance in the future and I thank my supporters for their backing,” he added.

Akhtar had felt that Sarfraz should have been punished more severely “This [Sarfraz incident] is not acceptable as a Pakistani. In my opinion, he [Sarfraz] did this in the heat of the moment. I think he should apologize publically,” Akhtar had said in a Twitter video.

Sarfraz had taunted Andile Phehlukwayo by saying, “Hey black [man], where is your mother sitting? What prayer did you get her to say for you today?” (Abay kaalay, teri ammi aaj kahan baitheen hain? Kya parhwa ke aya hai aaj tu?). He faced flak for his inappropriate remarks on the social media. He apologized for his mistake on Twitter and followed it up by apologizing to Phehlukwayo in person.

News Cricket

Rohit Sharma on the verge of entering elite ODI club of legends

Staff Writer Updated: 29 January, 2019, 10:07 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

He will lead India in the absence of regular captain Virat Kohli

Men in Blue have won 7 out of 8 matches in his captaincy

Rohit has hit 215 sixes in his ODI career

Rohit Sharma will play his 200th ODI when India take on New Zealand in the fourth ODI match of the series in Hamilton on Thursday.

He will become the 14th Indian cricketer to play 200 ODIs with great Sachin Tendulkar (463) leading the list. Among the current Indian cricketers MS Dhoni (337) and Virat Kohli (222) are the only two players who have achieved this milestone.

He will also lead India in the absence of regular captain Virat Kohli, who has been rested from the remaining matches of the ongoing tour. Men in Blue have won 7 out of 8 matches in his captaincy and will be looking to carry on with the winning momentum.

He needs just one six to become the highest six-hitter for India. Rohit has hit 215 sixes in his ODI career and shares the record with MS Dhoni.

News Cricket

Watch: Dhawan's Son Zoraver Discovers The Best Way To Combat Dad’s Receding Hairline  

Staff Writer Updated: 29 January, 2019, 9:57 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Shikhar's son Zoraver is sitting on his shoulders and can be seen applying powder on his dad's head

Shikhar Dhawan scored an unbeaten 75 in the first ODI

A 154-run opening partnership between Dhawan and Rohit set India on course to a 90-run win

Shikhar Dhawan, the Indian opening batsman, shared a video on Twitter, in which his son Zoraver is sitting on his shoulders and can be seen applying powder on Shikhar's head.

Shikhar Dhawan wrote, "A new formula to grow hair discovered by Zoraver, the great. Watch how this miraculous ingredient helps you with your receding hairline! #secret #ingredient #zoraverdhawan #littletroublemaker #nocomplaints"

Shikhar Dhawan scored an unbeaten 75 and Virat Kohli scored 45 to guide India to an eight-wicket win over New Zealand in a one-day cricket international that was shortened because of so-called sun-strike.

A 154-run opening partnership between Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma set India on course to a 90-run win over New Zealand in the second one-day cricket international on Saturday and a 2-0 lead in the five-match series. Sharma made 87 and Dhawan 66 as India posted 324-4 after winning the toss and opting to bat.

News Cricket

This compliment by Sourav Ganguly will certainly please Hardik Pandya

Staff Writer Updated: 29 January, 2019, 5:36 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Sourav Ganguly was of full of praise for Hardik Pandya
  • Pandya ended with figures of 2/45 in third ODI against the Kiwis
  • He bowled a tight spell

Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya impressed one and all with his skillful display on comeback to the Indian team. The Baroda lad was playing his first international game since September 2018. But he showed no nerves and ended with figures of 2/45. He bowled a tight spell.

His first five overs yielded just nine runs and played an important role in creating pressure on the Black Caps batsmen. In his second spell, the lanky player took two wickets as well.

Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly was of full of praise for Hardik Pandya. "He (Pandya) showed great mental strength. With time, everything cools off and his approach to the match was also quite better. He adds to the strength of the team," Ganguly told India TV.

Pandya also grabbed plenty of eyeballs with his two-handed flying catch to dismiss New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson. Pandya's grab was superman-esque. The third ODI was quite reflective of how Pandya adds to the team in all the three facets of the game.

India have already won the five-match ODI series. They will take on New Zealand in the fourth ODI on January 31.

Feature Cricket

India-NZ series result totally unexpected

Partab Ramchand Updated: 29 January, 2019, 4:37 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • The duo has taken 14 wickets so far and more important they seemed to have gained the psychological advantage
  • Mohammed Shami has struck a purple patch and so there has been little respite for the beleaguered batsmen
  • The New Zealand bowling too has been a letdown

The five match ODI series is over as a contest after just three games and that is not a result that many would have predicted at the start. Given the fact that New Zealand have had the better of bilateral contests in recent times and also the fact that they are a good all-round side fittingly ranked No 3 in the world who would have expected the Indians to roll over them in such an emphatic manner?

Granted that the Indian team is purring like a well-oiled machine of late and that they are No 2 in the ICC rankings New Zealand had the home advantage. Also a cursory glance at the composition of both sides on the eve of the series did give the impression that they were evenly matched and the result would be close, was the general refrain.

So how has it come to a stage when New Zealand are 0-3 down and in line for a 0-5 drubbing? Plainly put it is the batting that has let the team down. New Zealand have two of the best batsmen in the world in Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor and with the able support they have the Kiwis looked good enough to combat the Indian bowling and run up competitive totals. What we have actually seen is that not once have they lasted the full 50 overs while being dismissed for totals of 157, 234 and 243. These totals were never going to bother the strong Indian line-up and sure enough they have romped home by eight wickets, 90 runs and seven wickets.

The batsmen have totally failed against wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. Even after three matches they are not able to fathom their bag of tricks. The duo has taken 14 wickets so far and more important they seemed to have gained the psychological advantage. To add to their woes Mohammed Shami has struck a purple patch and so there has been little respite for the beleaguered batsmen. The New Zealand bowling too has been a letdown but this has been camouflaged by the utter failure of the batsmen.

For the Indians it has been a tale of runaway successes as the batsmen and bowlers have made merry. The visitors who have lost just nine wickets in the three matches will no doubt press on for a 5-0 verdict and at the moment so superior are the Indians that they might not even miss Virat Kohli who has been rested for the last two ODIs. The encouraging thing from the Indian viewpoint is that this probably opens the way for the entry of the highly talented Shubman Gill of whom the skipper has spoken of in glowing terms.

News Cricket

Private Jet, Wanderlust, Wife in arm, Virat Kohli continues to give life goals. See Pics

Harshit Anand Updated: 29 January, 2019, 4:27 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Virat Kohli is holidaying with wife Anushka Sharma
  • He led India to an incredible ODI series win over New Zealand
  • The 30 years old has been rested for the last two ODIs and three-match T20I series against New Zealand

After leading India to an incredible ODI series win over New Zealand, Virat Kohli is spending his off-time with wife Anushka Sharma. Keeping Kohli's workload in mind, he was rested for the last two ODIs and three-match T20I series against New Zealand.

Kohli is holidaying with his wife. Today, he took to Twitter and captioned the picture: "Away we go ❤️#travelswithher."

Anushka Sharma also took to social media to share a picture though it was a solo one.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

You're only always one breath away from Bliss ... ☺

A post shared by AnushkaSharma1588 (@anushkasharma) on

Kohli is spending quality time with his wife. Anushka Sharma is often seen taking out time from her hectic shooting schedule to accompany her husband on overseas tours. Kohli also leaves no stone unturned to acknowledge the contribution of Anushka Sharma in his life.

They are not only setting couple goals but also travel goals. And of course, not everyone can travel in a private jet so they are inspiring people to work hard and live a lavishing lifestyle as well.

Feature Cricket

Labelling Pujara a “Cheat” Hypocritical

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 29 January, 2019, 4:25 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Pujara’s success down under was hard fought Indian think tank appeared to have wizened up, ensuring Pujara played every Test Walking had become a controversial standpoint which divided the Australian team

Sometimes it is hard to explain the yardstick by which cricketers are measured. Some get away with a lot, others with very little. In the case of Cheteshwar Pujara, it must all feel a little too bittersweet after returning back home a hero from the tour down under.

As reports filtered in about Pujara scoring heavily for Saurashtra in the Ranji trophy to take them into the final against Vidharba, ironically while their opponents, Karnataka, accepted the umpire’s verdicts on the field, the fans were less forgiving, labeling India’s number three Test batsman a ‘cheat’ no less.

Returning home from the successful Australian tour where Pujara formed the bulk of the framework that allowed India their first overseas win in over seventy years, while it should have hailed as something out of a textbook for the player to insert himself almost immediately into his domestic cricket duties when other cricketers and his peers have chosen to brazenly shun their appearances for India’s domestic circuit, Pujara found himself standing up once more to stiff criticism, blocking out the noise.

Pujara’s success down under was hard fought in that he did not have an easy time in South Africa or in England when he did not seem to enjoy the faith of the skipper-captain duo of Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri who chose to dangerously drop their pivotal number three anchor against all logic in the course of both tours, even if Pujara appeared to be struggling to get into his stride in favour of more reckless, less reliable batsmen.

Eventually after two overseas series and two golden opportunities lost, the Indian think tank appeared to have wizened up, ensuring Pujara played every Test and thereby, giving India every opportunity to tilt the scales in their favour, even when Kohli’s bat fell silent in comparison.

However, stupendous success does not assure respect instantly, as Pujara will have learnt the hard way. Having copped criticism for being a slow run getter when he was doing his job as the number three to lay a rock solid foundation, now he faced the ignominy of being called a cheat simply because he stood his ground which is his right as per the rules of the game. With the catches being called null and void by the umpire, Pujara had every right to stand his ground and wait for the umpire’s decision. Pujara followed the rule book, although it brought back the contentious issue of walking, considered gentlemanly in some quarters and perilous to the batting team for not following the law to the ‘T’.

Walking had become a controversial standpoint which divided the Australian team from Adam Gilchrist even at the height of Australia’s dominance. With Gilchrist choosing to walk away without being dismissed by the umpire when he felt he was in the wrong and had nicked the ball to the wicketkeeper, his ‘gentlemanly’ act - not required as per the cricket laws - put him at odds with the thinking that the team was losing a valuable batsman when the onus was on the umpire and the fielders to prove and decide the credibility of the wicket.

In this scenario involving Pujara, without conclusive evidence as attested to by the umpire’s decision and not challenged by the Karnataka team who accepted the result, it seems rather unfair that Pujara has become the target of a few self-righteous cricket fans when they have let slip other cricketers for far greater offences that go against the grain of the gentleman’s game.

 

News Cricket

Rashid Khan credits cricket for changing everything in Afghanistan

Staff Writer Updated: 29 January, 2019, 4:17 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • They have been placed with teams like India, England and South Africa for the T20 World Cup
  • He has picked up 118 wickets in 51 ODIs
  • According to him, cricket has changed everything in the country

Rashid Khan has credited cricket for changing everything in Afghanistan in the last few years. The common masses in war hit country love to see their national team competing in international cricket. Afghanistan will play in the upcoming World Cup in England and Wales. They have been placed with teams like India, England and South Africa for the 2020 ICC T20 World Cup.

"It feels good. People back home, they love cricket. It has changed everything in the country in the last five-six years. The young generation everyone's following cricket, they love it. It means a lot that Afghanistan is participating in the World Cup," ICC quoted Rashid, as saying.

"(The fans) are loving it. They love the sport, they love cricket. (We players) just try and give 100 per cent in each and every competition. Everywhere, we try our best to give something to the people back home. I know what is happening, so there is nothing else that can bring such a smile on their faces," he added.

He said that the World Cup is going to be a good learning experience for them.

"We - me, (Mohammad) Nabi, Mujeeb (Ur Rehman) - we just try and give our best in each and every game. The World Cup will be a good experience. Can't wait for it," Rashid said.