A Match England Must Win

A Match England Must Win

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 14 August, 2019, 2:44 PM IST


Even as the world is only now warming up slowly to the idea of the commencement of the first edition and cycle of the ICC World Test championship, England are already in the thick of it with their backs to the wall. Having lost the first Test of the Ashes in Birmingham from a position of authority, they will have a lot at stake as they head into the second.

Australia would not have contemplated winning the Test after finding themselves eight down next to nothing on the morning of the first day. With barely over one hundred runs to show, Australia’s fate seemed sealed. It was on the back of Steve Smith’s comeback Test centuries in each innings that Australia manage to turn the match on its head and hand the hosts a stunning and comprehensive defeat.

England have nowhere to hide. Within a fortnight of their winning their first ever ICC Cricket World Cup, they were forced to land back to earth with a mighty thud, this despite having had a strong influence on the first Ashes Test that was almost completely overshadowed by Steve Smith and his phenomenal back-to-back centuries in the end.

With the bogey of the Ashes and the prospect of the re-entry of two of their most high profile players post sandpaper-gate removed from their back with a solid 1-0 lead going into the series, Australia would consider David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameorn Bancroft initiated back without too many problems and can now make plans to take their game forward. With the lead providing a confidence boost under their belt, it is plausible Australia might have a more nurturing view of their vulnerable batsmen and give them more leeway as well as confidence to come good, knowing the pressure is squarely on England for the moment.

For England, the loss of James Anderson would have been a huge blow given that the seasoned fast bowler would have not only been incisive but also, in a position to mentor the bowling attack against the Australian resurgence. In the absence of Anderson, the onus falls on Stuart Broad who can blow hot and cold. Mooen Ali’s disappointing spin bowling has had to make way for Jack Leach who is still gathering appearances in terms of experience but will be raring to go after the Ireland Test. England will be banking on his being a surprise package. Australia have their own issues and it does not involve countering Jofra Archer, England’s possible latest Test entrant to debut at Lord’s. One or two fast bowling changes could well be on the cards although Australia would be wary of toying with a winning team.

But the worry for England will not be that dissimilar from that of Australia. With Australia faltering badly in their first innings, there is concern that there is not enough backing for Smith in the batting order. Likewise, the criticism against England was heavily stacked after the England batsmen failed to live out even one day’s sessions even if it was only to delay the inevitable. That scourge is what has rankled about the defeat and England have the onerous task to now perform under tremendous pressure to keep themselves alive without letting Australia get away again.

Losing two Tests on the trot would virtually spell death for England in the Ashes and after their last Ashes outing, it is the last thing Joe Root would want. The venue, Lord’s, the place where England, only a month ago, fought run for run to wrest the ICC Cricket World Cup from New Zealand’s hands, will only add to the atmosphere. Although different formats, there will be fresh memories for some in the England team wanting desperately to build on that success. Whether that proves to be incentive or pressure remains to be seen.

With the Lord’s Test becoming a virtual must win for England even if this is a rare five Test series, the Ashes has already become bigger, even if most of the players on either team are yet to rise to the occasion. Australia may have a win. But they are still some way away from solidifying their dominance. England will want to get back to their mark and reset the scores.

It is a great opportunity for history makers in a series that has unusually suffered in the pre-hype because of the perception of lack of more high quality, high profile players on either side. The question on both team balconies will be: who will raise their hand to be counted? Ashes has a history of creating and re-creating heroes. Both teams will have to dig deep to make this one count.

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News Cricket

Rohit vs. Boult will be fascinating to watch – Mike Hesson

Abhishek Singh Updated: 22 January, 2020, 5:44 PM IST


Former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson has said that the matchup between Trent Boult and India’s charismatic opener, Rohit Sharma will be a fascinating affair to watch.

“Trent Boult versus Rohit Sharma in ODIs will be a fascinating match up with a little bit of swing on offer,” Hesson was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

Trent Boult, who is out of the team with a hand injury, could be a key addition to Blackcaps set up in ODIs and Tests. Mike Hesson was also apprehensive of New Zealand's middle order facing the Indian spin duo of Chahal and Kuldeep.

“The New Zealand middle-order against the wrist spinners — Kuldeep and Chahal — will be the key middle-over match-ups. Hopefully, Trent will be back for ODI series as he is a key player for NZ in taking new ball wickets,” said the RCB’s head of cricket operations.

Hesson left New Zealand coach's job and was in the running to become India's next coach after Ravi Shastri's contract ran out. Currently, he is the head of cricket operations of the Indian Premier League franchise, Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The former Kiwi advised the stylish Indian opener saying, “Rohit just has to play close to the body in the first session and not go hard at the ball. If he does that, he will enjoy the batting conditions in New Zealand.”

India’s chances of winning in New Zealand are high this time. However, Hesson asked the Blue Brigade to be cautious of the Kiwis at their home. “New Zealand are very hard to beat at home as you can see by their recent record. I, however, see India having a far more suitable seam bowling attack than they had back in 2014 which means this will be a very even and competitive series,” he said.

News Cricket

Can’t help Hardik Pandya due to political tension between India and Pakistan - Abdul Razzaq

Garima Kotroo Updated: 22 January, 2020, 5:42 PM IST


The 40-year-old former Pakistani cricketer Abdul Razzaq, who came up with an offer to improve batting and bowling skills of Hardik Pandya in two weeks last year, recently stated that he won’t be able to help the Indian all-rounder due to current relations between both the countries.

In his latest interview with PakPassion, Razzaq claimed that Pandya could improve his game in international cricket with his help. But he is unable to train the youngster at the moment because of the political tension between India and Pakistan.

“Look, the statement I made was made in good faith. From what I saw of Hardik Pandya, I felt that he could improve further as a player and I could help him with that and I spoke purely from a cricketing point of view. It’s not as if I am desperate to help him out for any other reason. We know when it comes to the current state of India and Pakistan relations, this would not be possible in the first place.”

Pandya is still in the process of recovering from his back surgery. He was named in India A squad for two 50-over, three List-A and two four-day Test matches against New Zealand A. However, he has been ruled out of the fixture as the star all-rounder failed to clear the mandatory fitness Test.

News Cricket

I was banned for calling Pakistan fans animals: Herschelle Gibbs on his 2007 Test ban

Abhishek Singh Updated: 22 January, 2020, 4:41 PM IST


Former South Africa opener Herschelle Gibbs has revealed that he was handed a two-Test ban by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in the 2007 home series against Pakistan, for calling Pakistani supporters, “Animals”.

In 2007, Gibbs was banned by the ICC for making a racial slur against a section of Pakistani spectators, in the first Test played at Centurion. Gibbs was caught calling Pakistani supporters “bloody animals” on the stump microphone. Gibbs was critique of the behavior of the Pakistani supporters when the stump mic caught him.

"Called some rowdy Pakistan supporters animals. They forced my son and his mother out of their seats in front of the players viewing area," wrote Gibbs while answering one of his Twitter followers about the comments he made during that series.

Gibbs was considered one of the finest and most brutal openers of his time. He represented Proteas in 90 Tests and 248 ODIs in which he scored 6,167 and 8,094 runs respectively. He also featured in 23 T20Is amassing 400 runs.

Feature Cricket

Mixed Results Reflective of India’s Season

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 22 January, 2020, 4:14 PM IST


There has been much talk about how the India-Australia series has been reinvigorating after India’s trysts with the likes of the West Indies and Sri Lanka amongst others. There was talk about quality and challenges. But at the end of the day, it was still a case of a hit and a miss and of bludgeoning bats that decided the fate of the three-match contest.

It was a debatable point bound to come up at some point. With the inauguration of the first cycle of the ICC World Test championship have already raised eyebrows about India pulling away from the pack based on the quality of their opponents as opposed to fair points for tighter contests such as the Ashes, similarly, the talk has emerged about how the Australian series has brought new energy to India’s domestic season.

For far too long, the Future Tours Programme has been controversial in terms of how bilateral series were engaged between cricket playing nations. There had come a point where it was almost fatigue to watch India play Sri Lanka and often beat the visitors to a pulp. Similarly playing Australia has been a lucrative deal, often witnessing giant-sized crowds and big entertainment that was on show for the three matches.

In fact, one could dare go as far as to say that the outcome of the three matches was decided by the talking done by the bats of the big guns on both teams. It was, in a sense, the batsmen making the most of the free hits, convenient boundaries and the occasion. The plunder decided the contest. The showmanship ultimately decided the winners and in this case, it landed in India’s favor after Rohit Sharma and captain Virat Kohli silenced Australia’s cannons exploding to the delight of the fans.

To think that Australia were reluctant to make this trip, their board making it apparent that they were not pleased with the BCCI’s insistence to hold the series when they wanted to push forth with the Trans Tasmanian contest, seems now like foregone angst.

With both teams have enjoyed a fair bit of fun in the sun, having amassed the kind of revenue that would have delighted the cricket boards, it has been a wholehearted, consummate contest that has reminded that cricket can be an uneven contest.

On the one hand, India’s chinks in the one-day internationals game was exposed once more, after their exit from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. And yet, the clamor in the aftertaste of the Australia contest has been for India to play larger-than-life teams, putting once more into the focus the idea of big teams wanting to play amongst their own in an ideal cricket world of commerce and craze in equal measure.

News Cricket

I want to be the best bowler of the series against Bangladesh - Haris Rauf

Garima Kotroo Updated: 22 January, 2020, 4:12 PM IST


The young Pakistani pacer Haris Rauf, who impressed everyone with his outstanding bowling spells in the ongoing Big Bash League, wants to perform well against Bangladesh. The 26-year-old fast bowler has been named in the Pakistan squad for a three-match T20I series against Bangladesh starting from January 24.

Rauf, who represented Melbourne Stars in the showpiece event, has scalped 16 wickets in seven matches, including a hat trick and a five-wicket haul. He constantly bowled over 140 kph in Australia.

Ahead of his international debut for Men in Green, Rauf is confident of troubling the Bangladeshi batsmen. The Rawalpindi-born player also claimed that he wants to be the best bowler of the upcoming series.

“I have set a target for myself and that is to be the best bowler of the series. I have been performing well in the Big Bash League and will try to replicate that for my country. I don’t think a bowler gets ignored if he knows he can bowl at 140 kph plus. Whatever training I do, I try to maintain the pace. I touched 150 kph in Big Bash, but it’s not in my mind. My aim is to bowl consistently at 140 kph plus.”

News Cricket

New Zealand to test bowling depth against India – Ross Taylor

Garima Kotroo Updated: 22 January, 2020, 4:09 PM IST


Explosive Kiwi batsman and one of the most experienced players, Ross Taylor has said the New Zealand team would try and test a lot of bowlers to find the best fit before the World T20, which would take place later this year.

“Probably right from the Sri Lanka series and England the focus has been on the World Cup," Taylor was quoted as saying by espncricinfo.com. The Blackcaps have been consistent but injuries to their spearhead bowlers, Lockie Ferguson and Trent Boult have forced them to try out different bowlers.

"It will be different conditions in Australia but getting those combinations, trying a few different guys out, obviously a few injuries as well which changes the dynamic of the side, but tests the depth and gives guys opportunities which bode well for competition for spots," Ross Taylor said.

Taylor, who has played in the Big Bash, is aware of the big Australian boundaries and believes that the players would have to try and play differently to succeed in Australia.

"It's the first time a T20 World Cup is there and you watch the Big Bash, there are big boundaries so you are going to have to skin the cat differently than how you play in New Zealand and other parts of the world," said the mighty Kiwi batsman.

New Zealand suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of arch-Rivals recently. However, Ross is confident of doing well against India. "It didn't go as we would have liked, we were completely outplayed in all three facets of the game," he said.

Feature Cricket

Merits and Demerits of persisting with KL Rahul as first choice wicket-keeper

Abhishek Singh Updated: 22 January, 2020, 4:05 PM IST


KL Rahul has had two phases since he made his debut for Team India in December of 2014. He came into the team as a specialist Test batsman, lost his Test form midway in November 2017, made a comeback, but into the ODI and T20I side instead of Test cricket, thanks to a brilliant IPL in 2018.

Now, the Karnataka batsman finds himself in a new and different role altogether. Having kept wickets quite well, alongside scoring runs at a tough time when the regular wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant was injured, Rahul has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Team India.

Captain Virat Kohli has said that the team would like to persist with KL Rahul as the first choice Keeper in limited-overs cricket, as he provides a “fine balance and flexibility” to the team lineup.

Rahul on his part has given a positive reaction to the new role offered to him. “Kuldeep told me my ‘keeping was good too. I grew up keeping but I didn’t do it a lot for my first-class team, but in the last few weeks, I did keep for Karnataka (in the National one-day matches and T20s), so I have been in decent wicket-keeping touch. So hopefully, I can keep my spinners and fast bowlers happy,” said a gleeful Rahul. Here are the merits and demerits of India persisting with KL Rahul as it’s the first-choice wicketkeeper.


Costly Mistakes

There is a saying in cricket that catches win you matches. The saying has been coined not only to rhyme phrases but on conclusive evidence of each word of the sentence. In limited overs, especially T20s, it’s one catch that can turn the game on its head. No doubt anyone can drop catches, but what matters is when you convert the slightest of the changes into a wicket. As a wicketkeeper, converting those slight chances become as important as saving runs behind the wickets. A regular wicketkeeper who has been keeping wickets from ages would be better off than a makeshift one, such as Rahul. The T20 World Cup in Australia is going to be crucial, hanging on to important catches, converting chances, and assisting captain in the all-important DRS is a job that Rahul would have to perfect. Rahul hasn’t shown any extraordinary wicket-keeping skills, he will either have to hone it or ask for divine interventions, otherwise, this decision of persisting with him could badly hurt the team management.


Wicket Keepers and injuries have a mutual relationship. There is hardly any wicketkeeper who has remained unperturbed by injuries. MS Dhoni to a certain extent could be called an exception. Rahul has made his place into the team as a pure batsman and it is his batting skills that the team wants to utilize more than anything else. If he gets injured while keeping wickets, chances of which are high, more so because he is not a regular wicketkeeper, Team India would lose a genuine match-winner. In case of a regular wicket-keeper, one replacement and the matters would come to rest. But if Rahul gets injured, team balance would totally come off the charts, as the team would have to find two new players to replace Rahul the batsman and Rahul the wicketkeeper.

Focus on batting

The main question with Rahul’s changing role is whether or not Rahul, the wicket-keeper batsman, bat in the same fashion, as he does as a pure batsman? Rahul has kept wickets for IPL side, Kings XI Punjab and his stateside in the recent limited-overs domestic tournaments as well. In those tournaments, he has batted well. But in international cricket, it is yet to be replicated.


A Pure Match Winner

KL Rahul is a pure match-winner, he can win matches single-handedly. Rahul playing as wicketkeeper would give team India enhanced weaponry in its already strong arsenal of batsmen. It would be beneficial for the team when traveling outside, as it would give the team to carry with an extra wicketkeeper. Thus Rahul being a wicket-keeper gives India flexibility.

Playing an extra player according to the situation

With Rahul playing as wicketkeeper-batsman at number five, in the batting order, the team can play an extra bowler or batsman according to the condition of the ground or the situation of opposition. Thus, whether the decision of persisting with KL Rahul as the first-choice wicketkeeper, would turn out to be effective or not, could only be revealed with time. But one thing is for sure, KL Rahul is a serious talent and must be accommodated in the team, even if it is at the cost of playing him as a wicketkeeper.

Opinion Cricket

Why India should back Navdeep Saini in shorter formats

Garima Kotroo Updated: 22 January, 2020, 4:03 PM IST


Navdeep Saini stunned everyone with his destructive bowling spells in the series against Sri Lanka. He is one of the best fast bowlers in the slam-bang version of the game. The 27-year-old right-arm bowler, who made his debut for India in August 2019, is gaining confidence game after game. In the T20I series against Lasith Malinga’s troops, Saini scalped a total of five wickets. Not only this, the Delhi lad picked up three crucial wickets against Aussies.

It is a dream of every domestic cricketer to play international cricket. However, the journey to the top is not that easy. Saini had to go through a lot in his initial days before finally playing for the Indian team. He didn’t get enough chances to prove his mettle in the international arena as the selectors kept shuffling the bowlers in the team according to the situations. He was not considered for few series after an unfortunate injury. However, he was recalled by the selectors for the ODI series against the Caribbean in December 2019 where he performed for Team India. Since then he has been exceptional for the Men in Blue.

After India won the second T20I against Sri Lanka by seven wickets in Indore, Virat Kohli praised the efforts of the bowling unit which featured Navdeep Saini. He even revealed that one guy will be a surprise package in the Indian squad who could bowl at a good pace and bounce in the T20 World Cup later this year. “I think one guy will be a surprise package going to Australia, someone who can bowl with pace and has bounced.”

Interestingly, Navdeep Saini could be the first choice for the Indian skipper ahead of the showpiece event in Australia. Saini has sharp bouncers and some toe-crushing yorkers in his arsenal. Even the star players of Sri Lanka and Australia were seen clueless against the Karnal-born pacer.

Despite giving his best in the T20I series against Sri Lanka, Saini was made to sit on a bench for the first ODI against Aussies. However, Virat Kohli rectified his mistake in Indore as he called the young pacer back in the squad and Saini didn’t let his side down. Apart from the likes of Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, and Kuldeep Yadav, Saini also played a great role in the most recent success of the Men in Blue.

His economy rate of 7.36 in the 20-over format is enough to prove his credentials. There is no denying in the fact that Saini has the ability to lift his side up in the important matches and could add more value to the bowling unit of the team. With T20 World Cup is scheduled to take place this October, it is important for the team selectors to back Navdeep Saini in the limited-overs format in order to take the Indian cricket team forward.

He could prove to be India’s best weapon in Australia. The nature of tracks in Australia will assist his type of bowling and who knows he could lead India to a famous win in the T20 World Cup.

Feature Cricket

Sibley, Pope long term prospects for England

Partab Ramchand Updated: 22 January, 2020, 3:59 PM IST


England have this knack of producing both kinds of players – those who make a great start or are highly talked about but fail to make it big in their careers and then there are those who are reckoned to be in racing parlance, stayers rather than sprinters and live up to this reputation. In the first batch players like Mark Ramprakash and Graeme Hick come to mind and in the second there are cricketers like David Gower and Alastair Cook.

That England has won two successive Tests in South Africa reversing a 0-1 deficit into a 2-1 lead in the four-match series is in no small measure due to two batting talents who have recently made their entry into the England squad amidst a lot of hope that they will be long term prospects. And from what one has seen so far Dom Sibley and Ollie Pope give every indication that they will be around for a long time. The former has played just five Tests and the latter six but sometimes even seeing players for a few matches is enough to get a distinct feeling that they are not meteors who will fall by the wayside.

If England turned things around in the second Test at Cape Town the credit goes almost entirely to Sibley. There was hardly anything between the teams at the end of the first innings but it was his unbeaten 133 that set the stage for a target that would be beyond South Africa. The 24-year- old right-handed opening batsman just refused to be shifted and his marathon innings lasted almost 500 minutes during which he negotiated 311 balls. He brought up his hundred in the 93rd over of the innings and by the time England declared he had played 247 dot balls during a chanceless knock. The stats read straight out of the Geoff Boycott textbook. Thanks mainly to his perfect sheet anchor role South Africa were set a target of 438 and they fell well short.

Pope came in on an opening day at Port Elizabeth with England a shaky 148 for four. In the company of Ben Stokes, the 22-year-old right-hander put England on the road to a commanding total with a fifth-wicket partnership of 203. Content to play a supporting role to the great man Pope then shepherded the lower order and the tail in an exemplary fashion and when England declared at 499 for nine, he remained unbeaten with 135. A dispirited South African side went down by an innings.

It was the first Test century for both Sibley and Pope and will certainly not be the last. These days when the influence of T-20 cricket has crept into the game’s traditional format, it is heartening to see two young cricketers displaying the age-old qualities of patience, concentration, determination and the ability to play long innings. It is England’s good fortune that they have an opener and a middle-order batsman exhibiting these characteristics.

News Cricket

Pakistan have better players than Virat Kohli - Abdul Razzaq

Garima Kotroo Updated: 22 January, 2020, 3:55 PM IST


Former Pakistani cricketer Abdul Razzaq recently came up with another controversial comment on the Indian players. This time he targeted the captain of the ship, Virat Kohli. Razzaq claimed that the Indian skipper is ‘lucky’ to have the backing of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). While calling him a fantastic player, Razzaq also highlighted that Virat Kohli is supported by the board in all his cricketing endeavors.

“He is a fantastic player and there is no doubt about it. However, he is lucky as the BCCI supports him well and instills the confidence in him that any player needs to succeed. The respect he gets from his board is what probably inspires him to do well all the time and the results are there for all to see.”

Razzaq then opines that there are many players in Pakistan who can play better than Kohli if the team management supports them thoroughly in the international arena.

“I do believe that even in Pakistan we have players who could become better than Virat Kohli, but they are neglected by our system which is a tragedy. In Kohli’s case, he has taken that confidence shown in him by the board and using his talent, repaid them with his performances.”

News Cricket

Sachin Tendulkar reveals one big challenge for Indian openers ahead of New Zealand series

Garima Kotroo Updated: 22 January, 2020, 2:37 PM IST


Ahead of India’s five-match T20I series against New Zealand, batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar revealed the biggest challenge for the openers. The 46-year-old veteran believes that the pitch conditions in New Zealand could create problems for the Indian batsmen. He added that Rohit Sharma’s experience on these pitches could help the Men in blue in both limited-overs format and Test cricket.

"The challenge would be to go out and open in different conditions. I think Rohit had opened in New Zealand in ODIs and has been there quite a few times, he knows the conditions well. Eventually, Test cricket is Test cricket. But all depends on the surfaces that they provide. If they provide green tops, then it's a challenge.”

With Shikhar Dhawan ruled out of the overseas series, Sharma has a big role to play for India in the next fixture. The Hitman was on fire in the final ODI against Australia at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. He scored 119 runs off 128 balls and his fabulous innings was laced with eight boundaries and six sixes.

India will be playing 5 T20Is, 3 ODIs and 2 Tests in New Zealand. Notably, the first T20I is scheduled to take place at Eden Park in Auckland.

News Cricket

Let's go India - Virat Kohli shares a photo from Auckland ahead of 1st T20I against Kiwis

Garima Kotroo Updated: 22 January, 2020, 12:44 PM IST


Virat Kohli and his team are ready to take on Kane Williamson’s troops in the five-match T20I series starting from January 24. The Indian squad has already touched down in Auckland for the series opener.

The Indian skipper recently took to his official Instagram handle to post a group picture with his team. The caption of Virat’s latest post reads, "Touchdown Auckland. Let's go ????"

Apart from Kohli, star opener Rohit Sharma, who smashed a brilliant ton against Australia in the Bangalore ODI, also shared a photo with his teammates on the social media platform and wrote, “Ready for New Zealand.”

India started the calendar year with a 2-0 series win against Sri Lanka in the 20-over format. This was then followed by another victory of Virat Kohli’s team in the three-match ODI series against Australia.

Talking about India’s next cricket assignment against the Black Caps, Virat Kohli said, “We are taking a lot of confidence from our performance (in NZ) last year. We were very positive in how we played, very sure of what we wanted to do. The thing about playing away is if you're able to put the home team under pressure, you can enjoy your cricket. That's what we did last year, squeezed them in the middle overs, picked up wickets, spinners were outstanding. Looking forward to taking that same intensity into the series.”

The Men in Blue will play their first T20I against New Zealand at the Eden Park in Auckland.

News Cricket

Quinton de Kock appointed South Africa's new ODI captain

AP Updated: 22 January, 2020, 9:56 AM IST


Quinton de Kock is the new captain of South Africa's one-day cricket team.

De Kock was appointed to replace Faf du Plessis, who is starting to wind down his commitments ahead of his expected international retirement at the end of the year.

De Kock's first assignment is the three-match home series against 50-over world champion England next month. Du Plessis is not in South Africa's 15-man squad for that series.

De Kock is a wicketkeeper-batsman but may give up his keeping responsibilities to concentrate on captaining and his batting. De Kock, 27, made his ODI debut at the age of 20.

The 35-year-old du Plessis has indicated that he is considering retiring from international cricket, with the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia in October and November likely to be his swansong.

He's still South Africa's test and T20 captain.

News Cricket

"Hindustan ko akhir Dhoni ka replacement mil gaya"- Shoaib names this player as Next MSD

Abhishek Singh Updated: 21 January, 2020, 3:39 PM IST


Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar has said that India have found a suitable replacement for MS Dhoni in the form of Manish Pandey. "Hindustan ko akhir Dhoni ka replacement mil gaya," Akhtar said on his YouTube channel after India's enthralling comeback victory over Australia in three-match ODI series. "India has finally got Dhoni's replacement. They have found a good fit in Manish Pandey. Shreyas Iyer too looks a complete player and these add depth to India's batting," he said.

Dhoni has not played for India since the 2019 World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand. He recently was not included in the BCCI central contract list for October 2019-September 2020 period.

"These players have played a lot in the IPL, they know how to handle pressure, they do not care about big names and hence, end up playing important innings," Akhtar said about Iyer and Pandey.

In the recently concluded series, Pandey didn't get a chance to contribute much with the willow in hand, as the top-order comprising of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Shikhar Dhawan, got the job done for India in the last two matches.

Manish Pandey grabbed the limelight for his spectacular fielding skills in the series. In the Rajkot ODI, Pandey took a brilliant one-handed catch to dismiss David Warner.

Team India’s next assignment is in New Zealand and they have already left for the Kiwi nation, where both the teams will be contesting in five T20Is, three ODIs, and two Test matches.

News Cricket

MS Dhoni visits Ranchi’s Deori temple ahead of IPL 2020

Garima Kotroo Updated: 21 January, 2020, 3:34 PM IST


Former Indian skipper MS Dhoni failed to get going for Team India in 2019 and hasn’t turned up for the team since the last edition of the World Cup in England and Wales. He is ready to make amends in the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League. The veteran will lead the Chennai Super Kings in the new season of the league.

He recently paid a visit to Deori temple in his town to seek the blessings of the goddess Durga ahead of the next IPL season. The official fan page of Dhoni even shared the pictures of his latest temple visit on Twitter.

On the action front, Dhoni has resumed his training with the state team at the JSCA Stadium in Ranchi after getting dropped from BCCI central contract for the 2019-20 season. In his absence, young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was given the responsibility to fill the void. However, Pant’s has failed to meet the expectations.

Dhoni’s future in international cricket has remained a topic of discussion for quite some time. While the rumors about his possible retirement are doing the rounds on social media platforms, Dhoni and the Indian team management have continued to stay tight-lipped.