The South African tour has been an eye opener on more than one level for the visitors, India. For one, while India have had to taste bitter losses in quick succession, they have, also, had to come to terms with the forced scale down of their estimations of players such as Hardik Pandya as a result of their failure to change history. Hardik Pandya went from being hailed as being better than Kapil Dev by arguably India’s most seasoned and successful all-rounder himself to being pegged back in the public eye by the great man when Kapil Dev asked that Pandya be not compared to him. The former India captain and all-rounder was referring in the first instance to Pandya’s all-round performance in the first Test in Cape Town and chastised the young all-rounder after the second Test when Pandya failed to follow the cricket basics of grounding his bat at the crease and ended up being run out as a result.
While that must have felt as if reading a page from a tragicomedy, the reality at the heart of the issue is the fact that much like team India who have had to come to terms with the reality that they had underprepared themselves and overestimated their ability to surpass South Africa in their own den, too much has been made of Hardik Pandya’s ability to rewrite history as India’s next Kapil Dev notwithstanding the youngster’s performances. Hardik Pandya may have made his name in the Twenty20 format. But it would seem highly disrespectful to have Kapil Dev’s name taken in the same breath as Pandya, now six Tests old compared to Kapil Dev who never missed a single Test in his playing years. For one, Pandya is still too wet behind the ears. Although he may have lit the stage on fire on his debut in Sri Lanka and won hearts for his chancy knock for ninety-three runs in India’s first innings in the Newlands Test, Pandya is far from being the kind of textbook cricketer and batsman who would automatically walk into any Test line up.
There have undoubtedly been few bowling all-rounders between Kapil Dev and Hardik Pandya. But to even be contemplating the greatness quality to Pandya’s talents is far too premature particularly when talented, enigmatic, rare and genuine bowling all-rounders such as Irfan Pathan promised much and delivered to an extent but without the legacy and longevity of Kapil Dev, curtailed by various factors including a rather damaging strategy in utilizing him under Greg Chappell’s tenuous coaching stint for India. At the moment, the decision to persist with Hardik Pandya at the cost of compromising the balance of the team with either a specialist batsman or a specialist bowler is bringing the spotlight on the team’s think tank and not in a good way. That said, perhaps in that light, the passionate, partisan cricket connoisseurs are better holding off pegging Pandya as India’s next great all-rounder just yet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rohit Sharma has completed 10,000 runs in List A cricket. He scored 62 runs off 77 balls in the third ODI against New Zealand to achieve the feat. Hitman joined the likes of Virat Kohli (219), Sourav Ganguly (252) and Sachin Tendulkar (257) in the list. The Indian vice-captain took 260 innings to touch the 10,000 runs mark.
He has been in exceptional touch in the ongoing ODI series. The right hand batsman has scored two consecutive fifties. He will lead India for the reminder of the tour of New Zealand after Virat Kohli was rested from the two ODIs and the T20 series.
Virat Kohli lauded his team after clinching the ODI series.
"It's amazing. Three clinical games for us. Couldn't have asked for a better performance after the first two clinical games. The relentlessness of the side is something that really pleases me. We really enjoy ourselves and the guys believe in their skills and they are showing it on the field.
"When a guy doesn't get runs in a couple of games the opposition still feels that he's gonna fire. I haven't had a break for a long time. It's been hectic. I can relax and enjoy my break. Someday someone has to take your place and that's how it goes. Shubman is a very exciting talent and I saw him bat in the nets and I was like wow I was not even ten percent of that when I was 19," he said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Pakistan are going strong in the ODI series against South Africa. The two teams are tied at 2-2 with one match to go. However, green brigade from Asia have been found wanting in the past. The leadership qualities of Sarfraz Ahmed also came under the scanner. Despite some torrid time in the past before the ongoing series in South Africa, Wasim Akram is backing current skipper to come good in the World Cup, which is scheduled to start on May 30 in England and Wales. “We no longer have the time to change the captain. Sarfraz is a passionate captain and also there is no alternative choice available,” Akram was quoted as saying in The Express Tribune.
Sarfraz is currently serving a four-match ban following is racist comments at opposition all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo during the second ODI of the series against South Africa. Former Pakistan skipper feels calling Sarfraz back from the mid-tour was not the right decision.
“Sarfraz made a mistake but he admitted it and hopefully won’t repeat such a thing in the future. Calling him back from the tour is not a good decision,” he added.
Virat Kohli will not take part in the remaining matches against New Zealand after BCCI decided to rest him in order to manage his workload. There is a possibility of Shubman Gill taking his place in the side and the former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly wants him to be a part of playing XI.
Kohli also lauded Gill after the third ODI saying that he possesses more talent than him at the age of 19. “I saw him bat in the nets and I was like wow I was not even ten per cent of that when I was 19,” Kohli said on Monday after the match.
Sourav Ganguly feels the young batsman should get few chances to prove himself before the World Cup.
“I think they should play Shubman Gill. He certainly deserves a chance in the team. He should play the rest of the series. Who knows, India might get another good player for the World Cup. Virat Kohli has also said that he didn’t bat like Gill when he was his age, which is a great thing to say for a captain,” Ganguly said while speaking to India Today.
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