Rohit Sharma is one of the most successful captains in the history of the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL). He is considered one of the sharpest brains going around when it comes to T20 captaincy. He has a phenomenal record in T20 Internationals as well.
Under Virat Kohli's captaincy, India have won 12 games out of 20, losing seven while one game has ended without a result. In comparison, Rohit Sharma has led India to 12 victories in just 14 games and his record is far superior to Kohli. Rohit Sharma has a winning percentage of 85.71, which is way better than Virat's winning percentage of 63.15.
Experienced Indian cricketer, Yuvraj Singh also praised Rohit's captaincy and said that he would like to take pressure off him when the southpaw plays for his new franchise, Mumbai Indians in 2019 IPL.
"Rohit is a fantastic captain. He's got a very good cricket brain. He's been batting in the middle order for MI, and opening for India, where he's been really successful. I think that if I can contribute in the middle-order, it'll just take some weight off him and he can just go and play his natural game while opening. So we'll see how the combinations go," said Yuvraj.
Whither Indian tennis? This question springs to mind in the wake of India going down without much of a fight to Italy in the Davis Cup qualifiers at Kolkata last week. The down slide has been evident for some time but now it has become more pronounced and what is a matter of concern is there is no indication that the slide will be arrested.
There was a time when India were serious challengers for the Davis Cup. The team was a regular in the prestigious World Group and made the final in 1974 and 1987 besides entering the Challenge Round in 1966. Even in the 90s India were regular participants in the World Group and made the semifinals in 1993 with an incredible win over France at Frejus.
In the new millennium however India have struggled to maintain their once exalted status. For much of the last 20 years India have languished in the Asia/Oceania group and have faltered time and again when just a step away from moving back into the World Group.
The problem with India is that they just do not have world class singles players. When India did admirably all those years ago it was because Ramanathan Krishnan, Vijay Amritraj and Ramesh Krishnan were able to pull off victories in the singles. Even Leander Paes before he concentrated on doubles notched up some amazing victories over higher ranked players in the Davis Cup. Paes and Bhupathi have been one of the most successful doubles pairs around the circuit winning Grand Slams besides registering several notable wins in Davis Cup doubles play. But doubles gives only one point and that is why the four singles are important. Even in the just concluded tie against Italy India won the doubles but that hardly mattered in the overall context.
Among the contemporary players Yuki Bhambri reached a high of 83 while the best that Ramkumar Ramanathan has touched is 111. The current leading player Prajnesh Gunneswaran has made it clear that his first objective is to break into the top 100. Currently he is 102 so he is almost there. Hopefully he will break the barrier soon but then comes the harder task – to stay there. Yuki for example could not stay in the top 100 for too long and is currently ranked 137 while Ramkumar has slipped to 123. Non-playing captain Bhupathi made the point after the loss to Italy that India cannot hope to advance in the Davis Cup without a couple of players in the top 100.
As the ICC Cricket World Cup approaches as does the various team’s preparations and dress rehearsals, while England are dealing with the reeling loss in Test cricket, Australia appear to be moving backwards in the limited overs cricket as well, not a good sign for the world champions.
It is too far to predict how the Australian squad shapes up in time for the ICC Cricket World Cup although going by the current trend of exiting people and unsure composition of the team, it seems Australia will have little choice but to include David Warner and Steven Smith back into their ranks, irrespective of where the players stand with the rest of the team or in terms of their own rustiness after having served one year bans. For one, the Australian support staff continues to be on a tizzy run and it was spelt out louder with the immediate exit of David Saker, their bowling coach. It is certainly one pull out that has set the cat amongst the pigeons in terms of where things stand with Australian cricket.
At a time when one would have expected Australia to pull together as a core unit before their final travel to India and Pakistan for the limited overs cricket series as a precursor to the World Cup, it appears that it is not just the team that is in limbo. David Saker, the bowling coach turned assistant coach to Justin Langer who took over from fellow compatriot and former Australian cricketer, Darren Lehmann, in the aftermath of the ball tampering incident, tendered in his resignation but with the catch: immediate effect.
Not too many teams would look to shake things up, particularly less than six months in the run to a World Cup expedition. It would have seemed more prudent for team to make such changes at the end of an event rather than in the race towards it. But while Langer seemed to suggest that Saker was in discussion for a while about his continuing role, it seemed out of character for even the studious and practical Langer to think he could throw the media off the scent.
There was no doubt that the assistant coach who served as a bowling coach was at odds with the bowlers who seemed cantankerous by his standards, the result revealing itself in the Sydney Test when matters seemed to have come to a head publicly. That the players were involved in a heated meeting behind closed doors with the coaching staff was hidden in plain sight and arguably even Saker did not mince words for what he thought was the Australian bowling effort.
Mitchell Starc’s praise for a coach outside of the ranks then seemed as a direct slight to Saker who must have surmised that in the absence of a cohesive coordination, the working relationship had become untenable and beyond a point although many in the current lot began their career or honed their success and their skills with Saker at the helm. It would explain why his departure has been so sudden and unexpected, at a time when the support staff and the possible squad should have closed ranks and used every opportunity, particularly on foreign tours and alien conditions to those that they will have to contend with in England. At a time when Australia, as the defending champions and five time World Cup winners, should have been setting the example and fine tuning for the tournament, they appear a highly unsettled lot, on and off the field.
Rohit Sharma was in top groove and created history during the second T20 internationals against New Zealand. The right hand batsman scored a well compiled 50 off 29 balls to lead India to seven-wicket victory.
He also became the highest run-getter in the shortest format of the game surpassing New Zealand's Martin Guptill during his knock which was laced with four sixes and three fours.
Rohit became the first Indian cricketer to hit 100 sixes in T20 internationals and he also holds the record of most 50-plus scores in the slam bang version of the game.
When Harbhajan Singh was asked to name a better batsman between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, he said: "That's a tricky question. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are tremendous players and both are match-winners. Both are class players and their records speak for themselves. Rohit Sharma is supremely talented while Virat Kohli is a hard-working cricketer. Maybe, Kohli is not as talented at Rohit but his hard-work and passion have taken him to where he is right now. So, it's tough for me to pick who's a better batsman. I will not be able to answer this question. But both play for India, that's what matters," Harbhajan Singh told Sports Tak.
"Rohit has scored so many hundreds in T20Is because he opens the innings and he gets to play that many deliveries. Virat Kohli sometimes has to play slow at the start of his innings after India lose early wickets. And, when he gets a set platform, 15-16 overs are already over. So we should not look at the stats but look at how much these two players have contributed playing for India," he added.
Jason Holder's West Indies have been on fire against England in the ongoing three-match Test series between the two nations. West Indies have gained an unassailable lead of 2-0.
It is their first Test series win over England since 2009. And Windies skipper, Jason Holder has been a central figure in their rise from the ashes. He has led them the front be it with the bat or the ball in hand.
Jason Holder reflected back on his journey and made quite a few interesting revelations. "I knew it was going to be difficult – maybe not this difficult – and that there would be some pushback from fans and people around West Indies cricket,” Holder told Sky Sports. “But I knew I had what it takes to lead as I have been leading sides for as far back as I can remember. I led plenty of Barbados sides in youth cricket, had the opportunity to captain the West Indies U19 team in spurts – I have always been seen in a leadership role."
He continued, “Honestly, I didn’t expect to captain Windies at 23 years of age and I have had some really tough days but I have just tried to be as positive as I can and draw on people close to me for guidance. Team-mates have also helped me out a lot.”
“When I first took up the captaincy I felt as though I was getting distracted by stuff off the field and tried so hard to get the players in their comfort zone and keep them happy. I probably lost sight of my actual role in the team and felt my performances were a bit stagnant.
“I got to a point where I said to the lads: ‘Look, we have all signed contracts to play for West Indies so that means we are committed to playing for West Indies and might as well get on with it and play cricket’. From then, I started focusing a lot more on my cricket and trying to lead by example. I felt if I wasn’t going to be captain I would have to be stripped of it – I felt if I got a sniff and some momentum I would be able to do something different,” he said.
Hardik Pandya congratulated his brother, Krunal after he came up with a match winning performance in the second T20 international against New Zealand.
Krunal took three wickets which helped India restrict New Zealand to 158 in 20 overs. He dismissed Colin Munro and Daryl Mitchell in his first over while returned to pick up the wicket of New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson.
Chasing 159 to win, Men in Blue gunned down the score comfortably after a magnificent fifty from captain Rohit Sharma and an aggressive 40 from Rishabh Pant. Hardik took to Instagram to post a picture of himself with Krunal and wrote: "Proud of you big bro".
Krunal was ecstatic with his Man of the Match performance, which was his second in this format of the game.
"It felt really nice to contribute for the team. It's always special when you contribute to a win. The dimensions are quite different from Wellington, the straight boundaries were short and I had to adjust my length to it. Looking forward to the decider in two days' time."
Indian off-spinner, Harbhajan Singh has praised veteran Indian cricketer, MS Dhoni for helping out Rishabh Pant in the middle during the second T20I game between New Zealand and India in Auckland. Dashing young batsman Rishabh Pant scored 40 runs off 28 deliveries and remained unbeaten till the end. India defeated New Zealand by seven wickets with seven balls to spare to level the series 1-1.
Harbhajan praised Pant and also revealed how Dhoni helped Pant in the second T20I. “Rishabh Pant made full use of his opportunity today while batting with MS Dhoni. When he hit a few casual shots, Dhoni walked up to him and explained what he needed to do. After that he played safer shots, down the ground and hit only the balls which were there to be hit,” he said.
The seasoned India offie also feels if Rishabh Pant keeps performing well, he would get selected for the World Cup. “Every opportunity will take Pant closer to the ICC World Cup 2019 squad, especially if he continues to keep scoring like this. I fell he has that X factor which India will need in the World Cup. Pant is someone who can change games," Harbhajan said.
A lot has been written about MS Dhoni's ideal batting position in one-day internationals. Former cricketers have revealed their choice ranging from no. 4 to no. 5.
Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, feels Dhoni should bat at no. 5 but his deputy Rohit Sharma differs from his skipper. "MS (Dhoni) batted at number 4 in 2016 for a while. After that, he has been pretty happy playing at number 5 and 6 for the team. I personally feel number 5 is the best-suited spot for him because that allows him to get some game time, finish games off and attack as and when required," Kohli had said.
Rohit stated that no.4 is Dhoni’s ideal batting slot going into the World Cup. The former Indian skipper, who endured a forgettable 2018, hit back to form, scoring three consecutive fifties against Australia in the ODI series. He has scored a total of 242 runs in the five innings he played in 2019 at an average of 121.
When asked about his ideal batting position, Yuvraj Singh said: "That you have to ask Dhoni, which number he has to bat."
KL Rahul scored an unbeaten 88 on day two of the unofficial Test against England Lions. Playing for India A, out of favor opening batsman, made full use of the opportunity as the home side steered to 219 for 1.
Priyank Panchal, the other batsman, amassed an unbeaten 89 after England Lions' first innings score of 340. Earlier, Navdeep Saini picked up five wickets restricting the rivals, who resumed the day at 303 for five.
KL Rahul was slow off the blocks scoring 12 runs off 57 balls. After setting his eyes in, he played some attractive strokes all-round the wicket. He played fast bowlers and spinners with ease.
The stylish batsman was sent back from Australia after he and Hardik Pandya were caught in a controversy following their comments of Koffee with Karan. They were suspended for an indefinite period but it was revoked by the BCCI pending inquiry.
Brief scores: England Lions 340 all out in 104.3 overs (Ben Duckett 80, Will Jack 63, Sam Hain 61; Navdeep Saini 5/79) vs India 'A' (K L Rahul 88 batting, Priyank Panchal 89 batting, A R Easwaran 31.
MS Dhoni is one of the most entertaining cricketers in the world. His antics are of a different class altogether. The way he bats is highly unorthodox still he has achieved a tremendous level of success with the unconventional ways.
In the second T20I against New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland, Dhoni again proved why he is the boss. An interesting incident happened in the 16th over of the chase when Ish Sodhi was bowling. Dhoni was on the strike and came down the track but Sodhi was smart enough to throw the ball wide outside of the off-stump but Dhoni proved that he is even smarter.
Look at how Dhoni saved himself from getting stumped:
It takes a lot of character and hard work to bounce back from setbacks. And the Indian cricket team has over and again shown their ability to deliver when it matters the most. Today, India, for the third time on their ongoing tour Down Under made a comeback in the do-or-die game after being 0-1 down.
Australia had defeated India in the first T20I in Brisbane but India ended the series 1-1. In ODI series against Australia, the Men in Blue returned to winning ways after losing the ODI series opener. And today against New Zealand, they again exhibited their ability to bounce back after they won the second T20I by seven wickets. India were handed over their biggest T20I defeat in last game by the Kiwis.
Rohit Sharma was ecstatic after the win and said, “Very pleased to see how we bowled, and we were quite clinical with the bat as well. We have quality in our side, but we executed our plans better today, after learning from our mistakes. It’s important to understand the mistakes that we made – it’s been a long tour for everyone. So, we didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on the boys, just go in there with a clear mind,” Rohit said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
The series decider will be on Sunday at the Seddon Park in Hamilton. “It’s going to be a cracker of a game in the 3rd T20I, but nothing to take away from New Zealand, they’re still a quality side,” Rohit said.
Vijay Shankar has shown a considerable improvement in his display since making debut in the Nidahas Trophy. The Indian all-rounder has made some useful contributions in the ongoing series against New Zealand. Hardik Pandya and Vijay Shankar are the two genuine all-rounders, who are in contention to represent India in the World Cup. Sunil Gavaskar, the former Indian skipper, wants national selectors to give Vijay a long run before deciding the fate of two players.
“Vijay Shankar has a chance for the World Cup. You need an extra seamer in England. He is a good all-round fielder too. He showed in the ODI (5th ODI in Wellington) where he got the team out of trouble with the bat. He read the game situation well with his experience of having led in domestic cricket. You build hopes on a player who reads match situations well. He should also be under consideration,” he told India Today.
Hardik has made a remarkable comeback to international cricket after his ban was lifted by the BCCI and could edge Vijay because of his impressive all-round display in the recent times.
“I think he should be playing all the three T20 games. Give him games after games and you would know if he has what it takes. Because if there is a situation that even after the five ODIs vs Australia, we don’t find a fourth fast bowler we can rely on, then we should be open to having Hardik Pandya as the fourth seamer in the squad and Vijay Shankar as an additional option,” Gavaskar further added.
Colin de Grandhomme raced to a maiden T20 half-century from 27 balls in a 77-run fifth-wicket partnership with Ross Taylor (42) which revived the New Zealand innings. However, with his run-out, Ross Taylor equaled an unwanted world record.
Mitchell Santner hit the ball towards long-on and as Taylor was going back to complete the double towards the non-striker's end, Shankar's direct throw ended his innings. This was Taylor's ninth such dismissal in the slam bang version of the game and now he shares top spot with Bangladesh star Mahmudullah in the list of most run-outs in T20Is.
Earlier, Left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya bowled an outstanding four-over spell, taking 3-28 as India contained New Zealand to 158-8 as it batted first after winning the toss. He was man of the match.
Rohit Sharma led India to an emphatic victory in the second T20I at Eden Park, Auckland. India won the game by seven wickets with seven balls to spare. It was a do-or-die game for India as New Zealand had started off the T20I series with a massive victory by 80 runs to go 1-0 up in the three-match T20I series.
Rohit also equaled the number of wins achieved by Kohli as T20I skipper. Under Virat Kohli's captaincy, India have won 12 games out of 20, losing seven while one game has ended without a result. In comparison, Rohit Sharma has led India to 12 victories in just 14 games and his record is far superior to Kohli. Rohit Sharma has a winning percentage of 85.71, which is way better than Virat's winning percentage of 63.15.
India chased down the total of 159 runs with ease. Rohit Sharma blasted 50 runs off 29 balls while Rishabh Pant scored an unbeaten 40 off 28 deliveries. Krunal Pandya was adjudged Man-of-the-Match for ending up with figures of 3/28.
The series decider will be played at Seddon Park, Hamilton on February 10.
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 on Friday.
New Zealand won the first match by 80 runs on Wednesday. The final match is on Sunday at Hamilton.
Left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya bowled an outstanding four-over spell, taking 3-28 as India contained New Zealand to 158-8 as it batted first after winning the toss. He was man of the match.
"It felt really nice to contribute for the team. It's always special when you contribute to a win. The dimensions are quite different from Wellington, the straight boundaries were short and I had to adjust my length to it. Looking forward to the decider in two days' time," Krunal said after receiving his man-of-the-match award.
Sharma set up the India run chase in a 79-run partnership for the first wicket with Shikhar Dhawan, who made 30 from 31 balls, and Pant saw India home in an unbroken 44-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who made 20 from 17 balls.
India reached its winning target with seven balls remaining.
"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."
New Zealand fell well short of the total it needed to have any chance of beating India on Eden Park, where short boundaries make defending any score extremely difficult.
Krunal Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar dismantled the New Zealand top order, reducing the home side to 50-4 after 7.5 overs.
Colin de Grandhomme raced to a maiden T20 half-century from 27 balls in a 77-run fifth-wicket partnership with Ross Taylor (42) which revived the New Zealand innings. But Hardik Pandya removed de Grandhomme, and Khaleel Ahmed took two late wickets to ensure New Zealand fell short of an adequate total.
New Zealand needed early wickets but Sharma and Dhawan denied them, knocking off almost half of India's target inside the first 10 overs.
Sharma reached his 16th T20 half-century from 28 balls with three fours and four sixes. He was out immediately afterwards, caught in the deep by Tim Southee from the bowling of Ish Sodhi.
India stayed ahead of the run-rate, and wicketkeeper Pant saw India home in a superb partnership with his mentor, Dhoni.
Dhoni came to the crease to an enormous ovation from the crowd of 30,000, almost two thirds of whom were India fans and most of whom had come to watch Dhoni in his last tour to New Zealand.
The pair came together when India was 118-3 in the 14th over and saw India home in the 19th over when Pant struck a four down the ground off Scott Kuggeleijn.
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