Lewis Hamilton credits improved reliability from Mercedes and a better relationship with his teammate as key factors behind his fourth Formula One championship.
He scored points in every F1 race this year, a first for him. He won nine, and broke Michael Schumacher's record for pole positions. He has 72 to go with his 62 race wins, second only to Schumacher's 91.
"I'm incredibly grateful to the team, we've had the best reliability," Hamilton said. "I don't remember another team having this reliability."
Hamilton finished 46 points clear of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who won five races but capitulated in the second half of the season.
Hamilton has won the F1 title in three of the past four seasons with Mercedes, losing out to former teammate Nico Rosberg last year.
The two were teenage friends from their karting years, but the relationship turned increasingly sour from 2014-16. Rosberg was twice runner-up. Then, the German driver clinched his only F1 title in the final race of 2016.
Hamilton's bitterness toward Rosberg seemingly lingers. He described him in minimal terms on Friday as "a member of the team last year."
Hamilton much prefers fighting Vettel than Rosberg, who has retired.
"This year is the best year. I knew I would be fighting against Ferrari," Hamilton said. "I wanted to bring a positive, rebuilt (and) re-structured me into the team."
Rosberg stunned F1 by retiring days after securing his 2016 title, leaving Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff to scramble for a new driver. He hired Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas from Williams.
"For me it was a lucky moment," Bottas said on Friday at an event hosted by FIA. "I called Toto. I just wanted to make sure they knew I wanted to be in this team."
Hamilton claims to enjoy "perfect harmony" with Bottas. When asked to compare him with Rosberg, Hamilton was curt.
"I wouldn't compare them, I have no plans to," Hamilton said.
On Bottas, he added, "There's an incredible amount of respect between us. Ultimately we want to win the right way by being the fastest on the track. There's nothing happening in the background, he's not trying to do it any other way."
Bottas won three races and finished 58 points behind Hamilton in third place.
"He's very strong in his mind," Hamilton said. "I'm anticipating he's going to be even stronger next year, so I had better stay on my toes."
Although Hamilton's winning margin over Vettel was comfortable, the contest was tense until Vettel's unexpected dip.
Hamilton trailed Vettel at the summer break and, after moving narrowly ahead, looked set to fall behind again in September at the Singapore Grand Prix. Vettel was starting from pole alongside teammate Kimi Raikkonen on a sinewy street circuit more suited to Ferrari. Furthermore, Hamilton was starting fifth.
It was the perfect scenario for Vettel to regain the championship lead.
But Vettel crashed trying to cut off Max Verstappen, causing a four-car collision that took them both out along with Raikkonen and McLaren's Fernando Alonso.
It was the soccer equivalent of Vettel, a four-time F1 champion, scoring an own goal.
Hamilton won to move 28 points ahead overall. Vettel was then hampered by reliability woes, finishing fourth in Malaysia and failing to score in Japan.
"I don't know whether or not if we would have won the championship (otherwise)," Hamilton said. "They lost a ton of points in those races, and at the race in Baku (Azerbaijan) where (Vettel) lost a potential win."
Although Vettel finished fourth in Baku in late June and Hamilton was fifth, he wasted valuable points after being hit with a time penalty. Irritated by what he perceived to be Hamilton's deliberately slow driving behind a safety car — known in F1 as brake-testing — Vettel accelerated and swerved into the left side of his Mercedes.
"I'm sure he's learned a lot," Hamilton said of Vettel. "I can't expect him to make the same mistakes next year."
Vettel said on Friday his Baku rashness left him feeling worse than his Singapore slump.
The Pakistan Cricket Board expressed its disappointment over the ban
He has vowed to comeback stronger and improved man after his ban
He was welcomed by 200 fans at the airport
The Pakistan skipper, who was banned by the ICC following his racist remarks against South Africa all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo during the second one-day international, has vowed to comeback stronger and improved man after his ban.
The Pakistan Cricket Board expressed its disappointment over the ban, saying ban was not required as the two players had resolved the issue.
He was welcomed by 200 fans at the airport who were holding placards condemning ICC’s decision.
"Whatever happened has happened," Sarfraz told media at the airport after landing from Cape Town. "I accepted my mistake and ICC's decision is in front of you. "I will improve myself and my performance in the future and I thank my supporters for their backing."
He will have to attend an education programme as directed by the ICC to promote the understanding and awareness of issues directly relevant to the offence that he has committed.
Harmanpreet Kaur is blazing all guns in the shortest format of the game
Women in Blue have been paired with Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and a team yet to qualify team
Former Aussie skipper Alex Blackwell has praised the Indian skipper
Harmanpreet Kaur is blazing all guns in the shortest format of the game and is at the peak of her batting prowess.
She will lead India in the ICC Women's T20 World Cup in 2020. Women in Blue have been paired with Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and a team yet to qualify team.
Former Aussie skipper Alex Blackwell has praised the Indian skipper. "India are positioned to make a final. Sometimes we see Harmanpreet Kaur play within herself. But when she goes out there 100 per cent, she has proven to be very hard to stop," Blackwell said.
Mitchell Starc’s wife and Australia's wicket-keeper batswoman Alyssa Healy has cautioned her side from India’s top batswoman. "When I saw the fixtures announcement, I said, 'Damnit!' I was hoping to avoid them. India are such a powerhouse in the cricketing world, on the rise in the women's game, which I think is special," said Healy. "They have got some serious players which they are going to unleash. It is Harmanpreet Kaur's home ground (from the Women's Big Bash League), the Spotless Stadium, so definitely one to watch," added Healy.
MS Dhoni is likely to miss fourth ODI as the team management wants him to completely recover
He scored 33-ball unbeaten 48 in the second ODI against New Zealand
India are expected to make couple of changes in the fourth ODI match against the Kiwis
MS Dhoni is likely to miss fourth ODI as the team management wants him to completely recover from his hamstring injury ahead of a hectic season.
Dhoni, who was declared Man of the Series in India's ODI assignment against Australia, didn’t play in the third match. He had scored 33-ball unbeaten 48 in the second ODI against New Zealand.
In his absence, Dinesh Karthik will continue as the wicket-keeper batsman for Men in Blue and Shubman Gill will make his debut. India are expected to make couple of changes in the fourth ODI match against the Kiwis.
Gill is expected to replace Virat Kohli in the playing XI. Team India's regular skipper has been rested owing to workload. The visitors are leading 3-0 in the five-match series.
Shikhar Dhawan has lauded his partnership with Rohit Sharma
He shared a throwback picture with Hitman
The duo surpassed Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag in the second ODI
Shikhar Dhawan has lauded his partnership with Rohit Sharma ahead of the fourth ODI match against New Zealand.
He shared a throwback picture with Hitman to show their journey for Men in Blue. "Partners in crime! Jodi no.1. #partnership #friends #cricket #teamindia," Dhawan wrote with pictures of them from past and present.
The duo surpassed Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag in the second ODI with their 14th 100-run partnership. Sehwag and Sachin had shared 13 100-run partnerships as an opening pair.
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. New Zealand mustered only 234 from 40.2 overs in reply for its second heavy defeat after losing the first match of the series by eight wickets.
Khaleel Ahmed shared a fun filled picture with former skipper MS Dhoni
The visitors are leading 3-0 in the five-match ODI series
MS Dhoni was back at the training session but is expected to miss the upcoming match
India's new speedster Khaleel Ahmed shared a fun filled picture with former skipper MS Dhoni ahead of the fourth ODI against New Zealand.
The visitors are leading 3-0 in the five-match ODI series and will look to win the remaining matches.
He uploaded a picture on Twitter with Dhoni and wrote: ‘Nobody like him #MahiBhai #Legend #IndianCricketTeam #BCCI’.
MS Dhoni was back at the training session but is expected to miss the upcoming match as team management wants him to fully recover from his hamstring injury.
They don’t want to take any risk considering Team India’s hectic limited overs schedule.
Rahul Dravid had to get back to the dugout
Players protected themselves by bending downwards
Five fans were taken to hospital for medical care
The cricket match between India A and England Lions was halted because of an attack by bees. Due to the invasion, there was no play for 15 minutes.
None of the players, match officials and support staff were injured but five fans were taken to hospital for medical care. This incident took place in the 28th over of the England Lions innings when a group of five people threw something at the beehive that led to the attack giving little time to the victims to hide somewhere.
Rahul Dravid had to get back to the dugout, while the players protected themselves by bending downwards and waited around the pitch to let the swarm clear out. The India A team is leading 4-0 against the England Lions in the five-match series.
Chasing 222 to win, the home side successfully chased the target in 46.3 overs and won the game by six wickets.
Indian cricket fans are the harshest critics in the world and it often takes them just a single opportunity to lash out at the team and certain individuals. When India lost the Test series against South Africa and England away from home in 2018, there were too much criticisms on offer from both fans and pundits alike. But the moment India won in Australia and the Asia Cup, things changed.
Recently in the tour of Australia, fans were too harsh on MS Dhoni in the first ODI at the SCG. People blamed him for India's loss and accused him of slowing things down. Not many realized that he hardly played any cricket coming into that game and also had to do recovery job with India reeling at 4/3.
The same Dhoni then went on to win the series for India after scores of 55* and 87*. People jumped into conclusions too early and suggested Rishabh Pant should be included and that Dhoni should be dropped from the squad to be selected for the World Cup. Next moment when Pant will fail, then he too won't be spared.
The much of the hatred stems on social media sites like Twitter. Several fans, who do or don't understand cricket are quickly to shun anybody in order to prove their point. Their baseless comments are often mixed with abuses and social media aggressions. This is the reality we are living in. Not long ago, former Aussie cricketer Dean Jones pointed out that Indian fans are just too critical and hard.
When India lost the ODIs against England last year, Dhoni was booed off despite the batsmen coming on before him failed to do anything substantial. One feels that he is one of their favourite targets. Besides Dhoni, several fans and pundits alike went too hard on Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul recently regarding the Koffee With Karan controversy.
Pandya asked for apology and the BCCI also suspended the two cricketers. One should leave it till there, but no things went too far. Another major issue fans in particular have is regarding team selection matters and are quick to lash out at the captain and the management. India's overseas form, comments regarding short pitch balls and many more are subject of the criticisms.
Recently Cheteshwar Pujara was called a cheater because of him not walking off after nicking a delivery to the keeper. Isn't that the job of the umpire? Why he gets the blame? The same Pujara was India's hero in Australia in the Test series. So quickly fans shift their focus and rely on anything to spill their venom at.
The question is that can we leave the cricketers alone and let them play the game. Can we for one moment enjoy the cricket and don't utter any judgement? Can we learn to accept defeats as much as enjoy wins? The Indian team needs to be lauded for what they achieved in Australia and now in New Zealand. We need to support the side and the players. That's where sanity and sense prevails.
The World Cup starts from May 30 onwards, and we need to be behind the side as much as we can and stop this blame game and hate.
The West Indies women's team arrived in Karachi to play three Twenty20 matches as Pakistan once again bids to showcase its ability to host international cricket.
There was a heavy security presence between the airport and the team hotel, and traffic on one of Karachi's busiest roads was halted while the visiting squad travelled through on bullet-proof buses.
"The security system is top class," West Indies stand-in captain Merissa Aguilleira said. "There was security on both sides of the roads and these things show that everybody has put (security) things in place."
A terrorist attack in March 2009 on the Sri Lanka test cricket team's bus in Lahore killed six policeman and two civilians and injured six members of the touring group.
Pakistan has hosted only short limited-overs series against Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, a World XI and the West Indies since the attacks.
A women's team from Bangladesh also toured Pakistan in October 2015 for a limited-overs series.
West Indies regular captain Stafanie Taylor is skipping the T20 matches this week in Karachi because of security concerns but will rejoin the squad for a series of three one-day internationals against Pakistan in Dubai next month.
"Of course we will always miss our skipper," Aguielleira said. "But after all I think this is a good opportunity for the players to step up ... I really believe in the potential of this team and we are willing to go forward and make sure go there and represent the people of the Caribbean to the best of our ability."
The West Indies team was warmly received by the officials of the PCB before they were whisked from the airport in tight security.
Aguielleira said the security issue came up for discussion before the team travelled to Pakistan.
"Everyone had some issues about it, being honest, but after all collectively we joined together as a team," she said. "We had discussion and we are happy to be here."
The West Indies captain said she would have been "disappointed" had she not agreed to tour Pakistan despite Taylor showing her reservations to compete in Karachi.
"When I'm looking at it right now if I don't come to Pakistan I would have been so disappointed," she said with a smile. "Away from Pakistan you can be like, 'There's so much going on,' but when you are here you just get lost in the moment so I really urge other teams to really come back to Pakistan because the people (in Pakistan) they love cricket and which is the most important."
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) shared the latest video of Chahal TV on Twitter. It is an interview series hosted by Chahal. The latest episode of this series features Indian youngsters Shubman Gill, Khaleel Ahmed and Kuldeep Yadav with Rohit Sharma as the cameraman.
The BCCI captioned the video on Twitter: "On our latest episode of Chahal TV, we talk to #TeamIndia's young brigade with @ImRo45 donning cameraman duties and our host and dost @yuzi_chahal behind the mic."
Shubman Gill in the interview said, "We follow a schedule to maintain our fitness. The training has been good so far. I am feeling wonderful as I received a warm welcome from everyone in the team."
Kuldeep Yadav said, “Our seniors like Rohit bhai, Virat bhai motivate youngsters like us a lot. When they do so, we too feel that we need give our best (on being fit).”
Khaleel Ahmed said, "Anytime you can get a chance to play in a match, you have to maintain yourself. You need to keep yourself fit every time.”
An uneasy calm must settle around Hardik Pandya. His partner in crime as it were, KL Rahul, can breathe easy, not under the spotlight as much, an odd advantage to not being considered in form enough to make the team.
After all after the hullabaloo about the quantum of punishment to be meted out to the young duo after their rather ludicrous, ill-informed and ignorant remarks on a scandalous talk show known for spurning gossip, the public castigation seemed to have the duo stitched up in knots, not because the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had a code of conduct or laws as laid down in the constitution for such mishaps but because they had publicly revealed what people suspected about the mindset of a generation that has grown up on easy glitz and glamour and less on the grassroots that shaped the men before them.
Now even as some suggested that the ICC Cricket World Cup could be out of bounds for the motor mouth, braggadocios Hardik Pandya, the BCCI decision to bring the players back into contention is not necessarily a pardoning of their public gaffes but rather a way for BCCI to buy time as they figure out not only the unusual scenario that elicited such public vilification of the duo but also, their own internal matters that have grown awry in the face of confusion, mayhem and power struggles.
It is hard not to see the present scenario where the players are in limbo because the mechanisms are not in place as a situation where the power in the hands of the two member Committee of Administrators, set up to redress the issues appears to have gone to their head. However, the truth may be closer to home in that given the unusual situation that Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji have found themselves in with the overall operations of the BCCI, they may have been in need of guidance themselves in operating a system that had long been run like a personal fiefdom. It is not surprising that while the former got caught up in the age limit fiasco, the latter has embroiled herself in selection bungles that may have sealed her own fate and could back at a time to bite her at a time when the BCCI’s bigwigs are looking for a back door to make their comeback.
For the moment, it appears to be back to business for Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul and perhaps in hindsight, it is a better strategy to keep the players busy and harnessed to their primary jobs while the BCCI’s operating duo figure out the way forward and also, help set an order and precedent whereby the players and the BCCI are more sensitive when talking and handling about such issues.
That brings back to the table the contentious issue still simmering the background about the muddled manner in which the BCCI CEO, Rahul Johri, was cleared of misconduct and inappropriate behaviour and yet assigned to undergo sensitivity training which speaks to the contrary. With that counseling yet to get underway, the BCCI presently appears to be running amok a bit not unlike a headless chicken, which is no surprise why some in the old guard are rearing their ugly heads in the prospect of a way to claw back into the game.
New Zealand all-rounder Mitchell Santner, who recently returned to the senior team after recovering from an injury, has showered praise on the Indian team, which has an unbeatable lead of 3-0 in the five-match ODI series.
He feels Black Caps' inability to strike upfront and get into the Indian middle order early has cost them the ongoing series.
Santner said, “We are playing a very good side … I do think we’re not too far off. I think the plans have been pretty solid – maybe the execution’s been off at times. I guess the key for us is to keep taking wickets through the middle, keep being aggressive. They obviously hate getting out – just got to find ways to try and get wickets.”
“With the bat, it’s trying to build those partnerships throughout. We saw a good one between Ross [Taylor] and Tom [Latham] last game, then we lost a couple and we fell over a bit. They’ve bowled very well in the top 10 and we haven’t really got away so if we can get through the first 10 [overs] with wickets in hand then set up the back-end where we’ve got some power hitters that we can get to a pretty good total,” he added.
This is only the second time in India's One-day cricket history that they have registered a bilateral triumph in New Zealand.
Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya made a rocking return to the Indian side. He was named in India's XI for the third ODI against New Zealand in place of Vijay Shankar. And the lanky player impressed one and all with his excellent fielding and bowling. He took a brilliant catch to get rid of the Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson in last ODI.
On the bowling front, Pandya ended up with figures of 2/45 in his quota of 10 overs. The Baroda lad had a very disciplined start and gave away just 9 runs in his first five overs and in his last five overs scalped two wickets though he was slightly on the expensive side.
India's fielding coach R Sridhar explained to the media what was going through Pandya's mind before the third ODI. Sridhar was quoted by cricbuzz as saying, “No one was more keen than Hardik Pandya to play that game. He’s been working very hard during the time he got back home and the kind of energy he brought into the team, the desperation he brought was magnificent to see. He’s always been a good fielder. He was just dying to get into the thick of things and be a part of this and get back to what he loves doing, that is to play cricket and play it best he can.”
“That catch – he made a very difficult catch look easy. By no means an easy catch and then also the fact that it was Kane Williamson’s catch; the extra pressure of one of the best batsmen in the world. I think that was a turning point. I would say piece of magic from Hardik Pandya. He’s known for that. He’s one of the best fielders as we have in the country. If you also notice, he hit the stumps on quite a few occasions in his comeback match, which was very pleasing to see,” he added.
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.
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.
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.
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