Adil Rashid’s shoulder injury rules him out for the season

Staff Writer Updated: 10 August, 2019, 1:55 PM IST


England's premier spinner Adil Rashid has been ruled out for the rest of the domestic season with a shoulder injury. He played with a chronic shoulder issue during England's World Cup winning campaign. He has been advised to rest.

Rashid is confident of regaining his fitness before the start of the winter season.

"I'm very confident, after being ruled out for the rest of the season, that I can get myself fully fit before we go away in the winter. I've got two months now to get myself fully fit and it's as simple as that," ESPNcricinfo quoted Rashid as saying.

He has represented England in 99 ODIs, 19 Test matches and 37 T20 internationals.

"I've played 13-14 years of professional cricket and this is the first time I've suffered an injury to my shoulder," he added.

Rashid has been asked to attend rehabilitation procedure over the next few weeks.

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News Cricket

Virat posts a heartfelt message for newly-married couple Manish Pandey and Ashrita

Garima Kotroo Updated: 3 December, 2019, 5:15 PM IST


After India’s limited over vice-captain Rohit Sharma congratulated the newly-wed cricketer Manish Pandey on his wedding, Indian skipper Virat Kohli also came forward to wish the beautiful couple. He took to his Twitter account to give his blessings to the newly-married couple and posted a heart-warming message for them.

Here’s what Virat Kohli posted for his teammate Manish Pandey on his wedding with Ashrita Shetty in Mumbai:

The 30-year-old right-handed batsman, Manish Pandey tied the knot with Ashrita Shetty in a private family affair on Monday. Right after their rituals, the pictures of the lovely couple went viral on social media platforms.

Apart from Sharma and Kohli, many other cricket celebrities like Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Karthik, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja also congratulated the Karnataka batsman for his new beginning.

Pandey made his promising debut for the Indian cricket team in 2015 in shorter formats. He has been a part of many match winning partnerships. In the domestic circuit also, the experienced cricketer has performed exceptionally well. The past few months have been like a dream for Pandey as he led his state team Karnataka to back-to-back prestigious titles. At first, he helped his team in winning the Vijay Hazare Trophy title in October and then led them to their second consecutive Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy title.

Feature Cricket

5 Players from India's U-19 WC squad who are likely to become international stars in the future

Harshit Anand Updated: 3 December, 2019, 4:05 PM IST


Under-19 World Cup is a big deal in cricket's landscape. It has a long and glorious history of giving a glimpse into the future superstars of the game. India will enter the Under-19 World Cup as defending champions, which will be played in South Africa in January-February 2020. In fact, India have won as many as four titles in the Under-19 Cricket World Cup. Recently, India's World Cup squad was announced. Today, we will take a look at 5 players from India's U-19 WC squad who can turn into stars.

Yashasvi Jaiswal

From selling panipuris to becoming the youngest to score double century in the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy to getting selected to India's U-19 World Cup squad, Yashasvi Jaiswal is going to be one of the most exciting players to watch out for. Born in Suriya, Uttar Pradesh, Jaiswal has played for India’s Under-19 side besides representing Mumbai in the Ranji and Vijay Hazare Trophy respectively. In fact, the left-hander made his List-A debut on September 28, this year. The 17-year-old has scored 677 runs in nine List A matches at an average of 84.62, including three centuries and two half-centuries. He can strike the ball a long way and went on to smack as many as 25 sixes in six Vijay Hazare games.

Priyam Garg

Named as the skipper of the side, the successor to Kohli and Shaw, Priyam Garg is a right-handed batsman from Uttar Pradesh. Known for his stroke play, he can dominate bowling attacks and is already a regular part of his state side. Priyam has blasted 867 runs in 16 First-class innings at an average of 66.69. The Meerut-born batsman averages 41.46 for his 539 List A runs. He has also played 11 T20Is averaging 28.37 with a strike-rate of 132.74. The 19-year-old recently impressed one and all with a 77-ball 74 in the Deodhar Trophy final with his side struggling on a slow pitch in Ranchi.

Atharva Ankolekar

Atharva Ankolekar made it to the headlines when he guided India's U-19 team to triumph in Asia Cup final with his five-for against Bangladesh. India were in a spot of bother after they could merely manage 106 runs but Atharva spun a web, which helped India win the thrilling game by five runs. Son of a bus conductor, Atharva’s moment in the sun came in 2010, when he impressed Sachin Tendulkar in a training session in Mumbai. Tendulkar had gifted him a pair of autographed gloves then. The 19-year-old was part of India's recent U-19 series against Afghanistan held in Lucknow. He will be one of the stars to watch out for in the upcoming U-19 World Cup.

Dhruv Chand Jurel

Dhruv Jurel has been announced as deputy to Priyam Garg for the 2020 U-19 World Cup that will take place in South Africa. Son of a Kargil war veteran, the 18-year-old gloveman hails from the city of Agra in Uttar Pradesh. Dhruv is yet to represent his state side in domestic cricket but has been part of India's U-19 side. Notably, the right-hand batsman led the runners-up India U-19 A team in a quadrangular series held in India in March, earlier this year besides leading India U-19 team in the Youth Asia Cup, few months back. Dhruv had also amassed 736 runs in 11 matches in the U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy at 61.33.

Akash Singh

Akash Singh created ripples when at just 15 years, he took 10 wickets in a T20 game that too without conceding a single run. Hailing from Bharatpur, Rajasthan, the left-arm medium-pacer had achieved the remarkable feat during Late Bhawer Singh T20 tournament. Akash had made a key contribution in final of India's victorious U-19 Asia Cup campaign in Sri Lanka. He was India's second best bowler after Atharva Ankolekar, securing figures of 3/12. He had given early jolts to Bangladesh in a low scoring game. Last month, he made his debut for Rajasthan in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy against Tamil Nadu and picked up crucial scalps of Murali Vijay and Dinesh Karthik. The 17 years old was also part of India's U-19 side in the recent series against Afghanistan, played in Lucknow.

Feature Cricket

Graeme Smith Weighs Options as CSA Delays

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 3 December, 2019, 4:04 PM IST


There seems to be mayhem in how Cricket South Africa is managing its affairs. While Thabang Moroe, the CSA chief executive, was in the eye of the storm after revoking the accreditation of five journalists, Graeme Smith’s impending decision to accept the CSA Director of Cricket post is in the former captain’s own words “frustrating process”.

Graeme Smith, South Africa and cricket’s most successful Test captains, having led South Africa to fifty-three Test wins over his career, was one of three narrowed down for the post of director of cricket. While Enoch Nkwe was appointed the interim coach in football style manager role (which is still not clear) for the tour of India, there is next to no contention of how long he is to continue in the role, particularly as South Africa slipped to a new low of a 300 drubbing that included back-to-back innings defeats.

The position that Smith is now in negotiations with the CSA was previously occupied on an interim basis by Corrie van Zyl who was targeted recently by CSA as being one of three who have been embroiled in the financial drama within the South African cricketers over unpaid dues with regard to their Twenty20 league. His ouster has left a void in trying to bridge South Africa from a state of limbo to a more concrete situation and plan going forward.

But in a headless chicken scenario, CSA’s appointments are a question mark, if not altogether absent and Faf du Plessis, appointed only as South Africa’s Test captain for the tour of India, called for transparency and formal appointments to lead the way forward for clarity and future planning.

Smith, who now works as a television commentator, had previously stated he had withdrawn from the race and described the process as not providing him with enough confidence that there would be freedom to chart out South Africa’s future course of action.

While Smith has now confirmed that CSA are in talks with him again, there has been concern that there are not only not too many takers for the post but also, that the CSA is not convinced of its other few choices. While a premature release suggested Smith on board, Smith confirmed on social media that the truth lay somewhere in between. This is only one more of CSA’s major embarrassment in days. Where the process was supposed to be completed in two weeks, CSA have been stumped at their own game.

Now there is little clarity about squad, teams, planning and preparation even as England are due to arrive shortly.

Meanwhile there is concern that Cricket South Africa is trying to suppress several issues pertaining to cricket, whether it is with regard to the appointments, team selections based on quota, their concern over unable to retain prominent cricketers or the ongoing grappling with the cricketers association as South Africa look to promote Mzansi Cup even as their domestic cricket is being consigned to the doldrums.

The recent revoking of media accreditation and the idea being portrayed that journalists are deviating from the job when asking questions about the selection panel, who comprises ‘technical squad’ and who will pick the squad for England’s tour of South Africa is highhanded to the point of eventual ego driven collapse. In that light, it is not hard to see how far South Africa’s cricket fortunes have plummeted, even as they run the greater risk of running the ship aground altogether.

That Moroe would even suggest that CSA would want to sit down with journalists and discuss how CSA should be portrayed in the public eye smacks of smoke. Can fire be far behind?

Feature Cricket

3 reasons why Australia are a real force in the ICC World Test Championship

CT Contributor Updated: 3 December, 2019, 4:01 PM IST


The Indian cricket team tops the chart in the ongoing ICC World Test Championship 2019-21. The Virat Kohli-led Indian side has notched 360 points after seven Tests and three series in total. They have a 100% record at the moment. On the other hand, Australia have been making the right noises.

After drawing the 5-match Ashes 2019 series 2-2, the Aussies were terrific in the recently-concluded two-match Test series against Pakistan. Australia won both the Tests by an innings margin and picked up all 120 points. They have 176 points from two Test series and have played seven matches.

Australia will look to enhance themselves in the upcoming three-match series against New Zealand, starting December 12. There are 120 points on offer and expect the side to be on the top of their game. Australia are a real force at home and that makes them a dangerous unit.

New Zealand will be a tough opponent for the Aussies, however, one expects Australia to stand tall with the balanced side on offer. With four more series to go for Australia, Tim Paine-led side can be a strong prospect in the Championship.

Here we present three reasons why Australia are a real force in the ICC World Test Championship.

The pillars in batting provide consistency

David Warner has regained his touch after a dismal Ashes 2019 and slammed two match-defining tons against Pakistan that included a 335*. In Marnus Labuschagne, the Aussies have found a new Mr. Consistent. Right since coming on during the Ashes, he has piled up the most runs this year. And then, you have Steve Smith. The best batsman in Test cricket can give you the platform to strike gold more often.

Bowling is Australia's main strength

The Aussie pacers have been top notch and they know how to get about business. The likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins complement each other. They are a deadly trio and pick up wickets in a heap. The combination could help Australia dictate the show against any side in the world.

The aggression is getting back

After the ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australian cricket last year, the Aussies struggled for intensity and looked lost. Injuries, poor form and absence of key players hurt them. Now there is a real swagger in this side. The aggression has returned and players look hungry to perform and set the bar high. This is crucial to succeed.

News Cricket

Fidel Edwards blasts Joe Root for his slow batting against New Zealand

Tarun Singh Updated: 3 December, 2019, 4:00 PM IST


Joe root, after failing to reach a triple-figure score in his last 14 innings, was ecstatic to get his form back by making a double-ton (226 off 441) against New Zealand in the recently concluded Test series.

But West Indies paceman Fidel Edwards was miffed by watching the ‘slow’ double-ton of England skipper Joe Root and feels that his innings led England to suffer a series defeat against New Zealand after the second Test ended in a draw.

Joe Root had said after his confidence-boosting double ton against New Zealand, "Felt pretty good from the start of the innings, was a tricky period at the start. I just tried to get the rhythm back in my batting, few technical things. Thankfully we got into a position where we could force a result."

But Fidel Edwards took a dig at Joe Root for batting slowly in a must-win Test and Tweeted, "Watching @root66 bat is like watching paint #dry how can u be a game down and bat this slow #poor (sic)."

But Fidel’s comment has provoked an angry backlash from many of Joe Root’s fans on Twitter against the West Indies bowler.

Kane Williamson-led New Zealand claimed a 1-0 series triumph after the rain-affected draw in the second Test.

Feature Cricket

Joe Root regains his place among the elite

Partab Ramchand Updated: 3 December, 2019, 3:57 PM IST


Form is temporary but class is permanent may be a sporting cliché but none can doubt its truism and the latest to prove this is Joe Root. Till recently the England captain was one among the Fab Four the others being Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson as the leading Test batsmen in the contemporary game all boasting an average of 50 (Smith of course averages 60). Moreover he was in a class of his own for besides having the chiseled strokes of the other three he also exhibited an approach that was essentially English – absolutely textbook in attack or defence. Of course he was also blessed with an impeccable technique and legendary powers of concentration which saw him get 17 hundreds in 87 Tests including two double centuries.

Then suddenly the runs dried up and what’s more the drought continued for an extended period. Before his innings in the just concluded Test at Hamilton he averaged 27.40 during 2019. Since July he had scored just 371 runs from 14 innings with just four half centuries and three ducks including two in a row. The call for his sacking as captain grew louder and Root was under tremendous pressure.

So what does he do? Digging deep into his powers of concentration and determination the man who is capable of playing a marathon innings does just that – only he bats longer than for any innings during his career that started in India seven years ago. Just a small matter of 636 minutes and 441 balls to steer England out of trouble in what could well be both the quintessential and most important innings he has played in his career. There will now be no more talk about removing him from the captaincy and it is only a matter of time before he again takes his place alongside Kohli, Smith and Williamson as the leading batsmen in the game.

When he made his debut just days before his 22nd birthday with a classy 73 at Nagpur it was immediately obvious that England had discovered a precocious talent who in racing parlance was a stayer and not a sprinter. Root has proved to be just that and with his majestic 226 at Hamilton – the second highest score of his career – he has moved into the top ten of run-getters for England. Interestingly enough none of the nine above him has a better average than Root’s 48.54. Only three England batsmen – Wally Hammond, Alistair Cook and Len Hutton – have scored more than Root’s three double hundreds. And Root who completes 29 later this month has the time and the quality to run up an eye rubbing and mind boggling record.

News Cricket

Sanju Samson’s childhood coach wants him to open in the T20I series against West Indies  

Garima Kotroo Updated: 3 December, 2019, 3:53 PM IST


The Indian team selectors had to face a heavy rage of fans on social media for not selecting talented cricketer Sanju Samson for the T20I series against West Indies. But this criticism proved handy for the young wicketkeeper-batsman as he finally got his place in the squad after Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out of the tournament due to injury.

Following his inclusion in the Indian team, Samson’s childhood coach was completely intrigued and also came up with his opinion on how to use the spectacular batsman in the upcoming series. He wants him to open for India against West Indies. However, Samson is also looking forward to make his mark in the upcoming series starting from December 6.

While lauding Samson’s efforts in Indian cricket fraternity, Biju said, “Sanju should be made to play the first match. He has replaced Dhawan in the squad so he should be asked to open the innings. Confidence and domination are the keys to his success”. He also recalled some moments from his Ranji Trophy match where he tried to play a short pitch ball and eventually lost his wicket. But later in that same encounter he bounced back amazingly and played the same ball for a fantastic boundary.

News Cricket

Ricky Ponting picks his favorite bowling attack between India and Australia

Tarun Singh Updated: 3 December, 2019, 3:51 PM IST


Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has applauded Indian pace brigade for their good show during the last couple of years, especially Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.

“I am taking ours every day of the week... India’s is fantastic; (Jasprit) Bumrah and (Mohammed) Shami have been amazing for the last couple of years and then you put Umesh Yadav into the equation with Ishant Sharma, they’ve got some very, very good fast bowlers. And when you put (Ravichandran) Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja in there, their attack is very good.

But when he compared the Indian bowling attack with Aussies bowlers, Ponting gave his team the edge by praising the Australian pace ace Mitchell Starc and the deadly spinner Nathan Lyon.

Ponting feels that Indian spinners have not been very effective on Australian tracks, but on the other hand, Nathan Lyon has a tremendous bowling record in Australia. He also praised Mitchell Starc for providing wonderful variations as a seam bowler.

Ponting said, “But their spinners struggle more in Australia, Nathan Lyon has a much better record in Australia than the Indian spinners have. And I love the variation we have with Mitchell Starc in the line-up; that left-armer just provides a little bit of something different. And he’s bowling as well as I’ve ever seen him, so there are some even better signs for this Australian attack.”

Ponting comments have come after Australia completed a 2-0 whitewash of Pakistan in the two-match Test series and moved up to the second spot in the World Test Championship rankings.

India are way ahead of Australia and are the highest-ranked team in the World Test Championship standings.

Australia and Virat Kohli-led India will fight for supremacy in Australia next year. In the past, India have beaten Australia in Australia.

News Cricket

Sourav Ganguly wants Virat Kohli & Co. to play one pink-ball Test in every series

Garima Kotroo Updated: 3 December, 2019, 3:46 PM IST


After the record-breaking success of India’s maiden pink-ball Test match at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata, the newly-appointed boss of BCCI, Sourav Ganguly wants Team India to play one Day-Night Test in every series.

The popularity of Test cricket has reduced after the arrival of shorter formats like ODIs and T20Is and to revive that spirit one more time Ganguly had organized the first-ever Day-Night Test in India. Not so surprisingly, the hosts also won that historic encounter by an innings and 46 runs against Bangladesh.

With this impressive victory of Team India, Ganguly admitted that Virat Kohli-led squad should play one pink-ball match in every Test series. However, it won’t be easy for Sourav to convince Virat Kohli as the Indian skipper wants to play Test cricket in the traditional format. "I think day-night

Tests can be a one-off thing, it should not be a regular scenario,” he had said on the eve of India’s maiden day-night Test match against Bangladesh. India will play its next Test match against Black Caps in February 2020.

News Cricket

Hitman congratulates newly-wed Manish Pandey, says ‘this will be your best innings'

Garima Kotroo Updated: 3 December, 2019, 2:17 PM IST


A brilliant middle-order batsman of India, Manish Pandey, who recently led his team Karnataka to the prestigious title of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2019, tied the knot with Tamil actress Ashrita Shetty in a grand ceremony on Monday. Right after their glitzy wedding in Mumbai, the newly-wed celebrity couple shared their beautiful pictures on social media and in no time they went viral.

After the marriage, the explosive opener of Indian cricket team, Rohit Sharma immediately took to his official Twitter handle to congratulate the lovely couple and reckoned that 'this will be the best innings for Pandey’.

In-form Pandey has played fiercely in the past few months as he showed his career-best performance in the last two big cricket events. At first, he lifted his side Karnataka in the nail-biting finale of Vijay Hazare Trophy 2019 in October, and then led the same team to another illustrious victory in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy against Tamil Nadu.

After playing some path-breaking knocks for his state-team in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Pandey is now looking forward to prove his prowess for India in the upcoming three-match T20I series against West Indies starting from December 6.

News Cricket

Mitchell Starc opts out of IPL 2020, Maxwell and Lynn return in auction pool

Garima Kotroo Updated: 3 December, 2019, 2:11 PM IST


The Australian speedster Mitchell Starc has opted out of the thirteenth season of the Indian Premier, while his national teammates Glenn Maxwell and Chris Lynn have given their names for the auction process.

Notably, this is not the first time Starc has pulled out of IPL auctions. He was missing from the action in the last auction process as well. The lanky-fast bowler was last seen in 2015 where he played for Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore.

However, in IPL 2018, he successfully secured his place in Kolkata Knight Riders’ set-up but was out of the game due to serious injury.

On the happy note, Glenn Maxwell and Chris Lynn are all set to go under the hammer in the forthcoming auction for IPL 2020 and they have kept their base price at Rs 2 crore. Apart from Maxwell and Lynn, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Mitchell Marsh have also set their base price at Rs 2 crore.

Dale Steyn and Sri Lanka’s star batsman Angelo Mathews will also have the same base price for the next auction battle. The auction for the upcoming season of IPL are slated to be held on December 19 in Kolkata.

News Cricket

It was a shame about losing sessions – Joe Root

AP Updated: 3 December, 2019, 1:43 PM IST


Root must have known at the start of the day that his team's chances of achieving a win to tie the series was slight at best. New Zealand were already 96-2, just six runs behind, and the real threat of rain that hung over the day meant time wasn't on his side.

England needed early wickets and a vital break through literally slipped through its hands when Joe Denly dropped Williamson from the bowling of Jofra Archer when the New Zealand captain was 64 and the score was 154, a lead of 53.

Williamson ballooned a catch to Denly at short mid-wicket, probably the easiest chance he will ever receive, and the fieldsman had two grabs at the ball before putting it down.

As Taylor and Williamson ground on relentlessly through the lunch break and as storm clouds crept up on Seddon Park, Root saw his team's chances dissolve.

"It was a shame about the rain today," Root said. "It was a shame about losing sessions earlier in the match. We felt if we didn't lose those the pitch might deteriorate slightly quicker and might have done a little more for us coming into this last day."

Root had done everything in his power to give his team a winning chance. His 226 in England's only innings, his third double-century in tests and his first as captain, lifted his team, along with Rory Burns' 101 and Ollie Pope's 75, to 476 in reply to New Zealand's 375.

With New Zealand 28-2 in its second innings late on the fourth day, Root must have felt some confidence in England's chances.

But Williamson and Taylor stood in his way and proved an impassable roadblock.

England now heads to South Africa for a challenging four-test series. With its performance in Hamilton England’s confidence will be higher than after its first test defeat which came hard on the heels of Ashes defeat at home.

"I think we've learned a lot as a group," Root said. "We learned about people in these conditions, how they go about different situations, how they react to it and what their characters are.

"There's been a lot of information and we need to take that forward, carry the lessons we learned here into South Africa."

New Zealand also will take some confidence into its impending three-test series against Australia, though it meets an Australian team in exceptional form after its recent 2-0 series win over Pakistan.

The New Zealanders have no warm-up games before their first test against Australia, a day-night match at Perth, starting Dec. 12 and have to overcome the fact that none of its current 15-strong squad has played a test in Perth, Melbourne or Sydney.

News Cricket

Only Virat Kohli and Co have the tools to beat Australia in Australia - Michael Vaughan

Garima Kotroo Updated: 3 December, 2019, 10:27 AM IST


The powerful Aussies are currently head over heels after winning the two-match Test series against Pakistan with a 2-0 scoreline. The Kangaroos whitewashed the visitors in a Test series Down Under and it seems defeating this Australian cricket team in Australia is a hard nut to crack for opponents.

The former England captain Michael Vaughan also believes that the current Australian unit is very strong at home and the only team which can beat them in Australia is Virat Kohli-led India.

While expressing himself after the blockbuster show of Australia against Pakistan in the two-match Test series, Vaughan said "this Australian Team in these conditions are going to take some beating. Only India have the tools to do so at this stage”.

However, Azhar Ali-led visitors tried their best to turn around the waves in their favour but hosts didn’t give them any chance to come back in the game. Nathan Lyon picked up a five-wicket haul against Pakistan to lead Australia to another comfortable win.

As a result, Australia won by an innings and 48 runs in the second Test of the recently concluded series. With this comfortable win, Aussies also extended their unbeaten run to 6 in pink-ball Test matches.

News Tennis

Roger Federer’s face to be minted on Swiss coin

AP Updated: 3 December, 2019, 10:26 AM IST


The Swiss government says it will produce a 20 franc silver coin with Roger Federer’s image on it.

The government says it’s the first time it has dedicated a commemorative coin to a living person.

A 50 franc gold coin with Federer’s image on it will be minted next year.

The government says the 20-time Grand Slam champion is “probably Switzerland's most successful individual sportsman, he is also the perfect ambassador for Switzerland.”

The “heads” side of the coin shows Federer playing a one-handed backhand.

The government says a limited edition of up to 95,000 Federer coins can be ordered, costing 30 Swiss francs. They will be dispatched in January.

The 50 franc coin will have a different design.

News Football

Lionel Messi beats Cristiano Ronaldo, wins sixth Ballon d’Or

AP Updated: 3 December, 2019, 10:25 AM IST


After becoming the first six-time winner of the Ballon d’Or, Lionel Messi said he’s far from finished.

“I hope to continue for a long time,” Messi said on Monday in Paris from behind a row of the trophies which honor the world’s best soccer player.

“I realize that I am very lucky, even if, one day, retirement will come. It will be difficult. But I still have a lot of good years ahead of me. Time goes by very quickly, so I want to enjoy football and my family.”

While the 32-year-old Messi won his sixth Ballon d’Or, United States captain Megan Rapinoe won her first.

“I can’t believe I’m the one winning in this field, it’s been an incredible year,” Rapinoe said in a recorded video message during the ceremony at the lavish Theatre du Chatelet.

Messi has received the Ballon d’Or previously in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2015.

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was second in the polling this year, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo, who shared the record of five Ballon d’Ors with Messi until Monday.

Messi’s and Ronaldo’s 10-year grip on the award organized by France Football magazine was ended last year by Luka Modric.

But Messi was back on top of his game over the past 12 months. He scored 36 times last season en route to a 10th Spanish Liga title, and was the Champions League top scorer. His goals in the Liga also made him the top scorer in Europe’s biggest leagues, earning him the Golden Shoe award.

“A few years ago, I received my first Ballon d’Or here in Paris,” Messi said. “I was 22 years old. It was something unthinkable at the time. Today is my sixth Ballon d’Or. As my wife used to say, you should never stop dreaming but always work to improve and continue to enjoy yourself.”

The Argentine has not showed any sign of slowing down since the start of the new European season, marking his 700th game for Barcelona last week with a goal and two assists in beating Borussia Dortmund 3-1. So far this year, Messi has 41 goals in 44 games.

Messi also won his sixth FIFA award in September, edging Van Dijk, who missed the chance to become the first defender to top the France Football poll since Italy’s World Cup-winning captain, Fabio Cannavaro, in 2006.

Van Dijk clinched the 2019 Champions League crown with the Reds after obliterating Messi’s Barcelona in the semifinals.