Brazil jeered again at home after 0-0 draw against Venezuela

AP Updated: 19 June, 2019, 10:25 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

For the second straight time in the Copa America at home, Brazil was jeered by its fans.

The hosts followed a lackluster win over Bolivia with a scoreless draw against Venezuela in the Copa America on Tuesday, prompting another wave of boos from the home crowd.

This time, Brazil even endured chants of "ole" by the local fans when the Venezuelans touched the ball near the end of the match.

"Obviously it doesn't help when the fans are against us, chanting 'ole' for our opponent," Brazil left back Filipe Luis said. "In the end, that doesn't help anybody. We need to keep fighting and keep giving our best to try to change things."

Brazil played better than it did in the opener against Bolivia, but it was not able to break through the stout Venezuelan defense at the Arena Fonte Nova.

"It's frustrating," Filipe Luis said. "We did everything we could to try to win this match. We had many scoring chances, we controlled the game, but we couldn't come away with the victory."

Brazil had two goals reversed by video review because of offside calls, one by Gabriel Jesus early in the second half and another by Philippe Coutinho near the end of the match.

Despite the setback, the hosts stayed at the top of Group A with four points, tied with Peru, which earlier Tuesday defeated Bolivia 3-1 in Rio de Janeiro. Venezuela, which opened with a 0-0 draw against Peru, has two points.

The group will be decided on Saturday with Brazil facing Peru in Sao Paulo and Venezuela taking on Bolivia in Belo Horizonte. The top two teams in each group advance to the next round, along with the two best third-place finishers.

Brazil thought it had scored with substitute Gabriel Jesus shortly after halftime, but the goal was disallowed after a review showed that Roberto Firmino, who made the pass to the Manchester City striker, was offside when the ball deflected off a Venezuela defender. The Brazilians complained, arguing that it was a pass — not a deflection — by the defender.

"Welcome to the VAR, long live the VAR," Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel said. "No one gifted anything to us. Justice was made and you have to keep believing in those who do justice."

Coutinho's goal with about five minutes left in regulation was reversed because his close-range shot deflected off Firmino, who was in an offside position in front of the net. The goal would have stood had the ball not touched the Liverpool forward.

"We can't complain about the VAR," Brazil coach Tite said. "Justice was made."

Firmino had a goal disallowed late in the first half for pulling a defender inside the area before he scored.

Brazil's first goal in the 3-0 win over Bolivia on Friday had come from a penalty awarded by video review.

It was Venezuela which had the best scoring opportunity in the first half with a close-range header by striker Salomon Rondon that missed just wide.

Brazil nearly got the winner in second-half stoppage time with a header by Fernandinho that nearly found the far corner.

Brazil hadn't been held scoreless in a match at home since the 3-0 loss to the Netherlands in the third-place match in the 2014 World Cup.

Brazil is seeking a ninth Copa America title. It won the tournament all four previous times it hosted the event, the last time in 1989.

Venezuela's best Copa finish was a fourth place in 2011.

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Feature Cricket

A Dose of Reality for India

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 24 February, 2020, 2:00 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India have been served their first dish and it was not tasty. Far from it. After being on a high, having played against some iffy opponents at best, India were brought back to earth after New Zealand walked away with an emphatic ten-wicket win. Some might say, this is the way India always starts a tour, losing the first Test. While that might have been the case in the past, India cannot afford too many missteps, particularly with grand ambitions of longevity in world dominance. To that end, the loss to New Zealand in the first Test has been a reality check and a reminder that the road to the World Test Championship final at Lord’s in June 2021 might not necessarily be a cakewalk for India. While the itinerary has been questioned with India having won some easy points against West Indies and Bangladesh, they could not be blamed for the dismal showing put up by South Africa when they did show up. Furthermore, although India began the last year on the resounding note of having beaten Australia in Australia in seven decades, Australia’s resurgence since the return of the disgraced duo of Steve Smith and David Warner has added spring in their step. It could be said that after the mixed bag of the Twenty20 series and the one-day internationals prior to the commencement of the Test part of the tour, there were telling signs that India were not sharp on their game as they were expected to be. Still, weather and conditions might be factored in though it would not fully explain why India would hand over New Zealand such a comprehensive, confidence-boosting win. Some might say that Virat Kohli was attempting to soften the blow or taking on a more complacent garb in being effusive in praise of his counter, the New Zealand captain, Kane Williamson. If there is any truth to the matter, the Indian captain would have now sized up, and not very quickly, that New Zealand, despite their reputation for being mild-mannered off the field and gentlemanly on it, are no pushovers. They will fight for every edge and this victory coming on the back of pulling back some of the early euphorias from the visitors will give them much impetus going into the next one. For India’s part and particularly Virat Kohli whose batting needs to sing overseas, this defeat is going to give them a lot to think about and also, if brave enough, give them an opportunity to experiment a little, away from the rigid plans that haven’t worked entirely on this tour. The only question is: who is going to be the scapegoat? And will it be Rishabh Pant is not such an unlikely scenario in what has become the bane of the young twenty-one-year-old?
News Cricket

Kitne bowler thai?: India’s Gabbar announces his comeback in Sholay style

Garima Kotroo Updated: 24 February, 2020, 1:57 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan, who was ruled out of the series against New Zealand, has recovered ahead of the three-match ODI series versus South Africa. The 34-year-old left-hander recently announced his comeback on Instagram. Dhawan came up with a picture of himself in which he can be seen riding a horse.

Taking to his official Instagram handle, Dhawan wrote in the caption,"Kitne bowler they? #Gabbar is back."

Dhawan is currently undergoing rehab at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru and is gearing up to make a comeback in the Indian team.

He injured his shoulder while fielding against Australia in the three-match ODI series at home. As a result, Dhawan was left out from the Indian squad against New Zealand. In the absence of Shikhar Dhawan, talented batsman KL Rahul was given the responsibility to fill his boots in the T20I series against the Black Caps. Not so surprisingly, Rahul made the most of the given opportunity and performed exceptionally for his side.

Virat Kohli’s troops are currently playing a two-match Test series against Kiwis.

News Cricket

India should play Shubman Gill in the second Test against New Zealand – Scott Styris

Garima Kotroo Updated: 24 February, 2020, 1:35 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India went down against New Zealand in the first Test of the two-match series in Wellington. The Kiwis outplayed the visitors in all three departments of the game.

After India faced a disappointing defeat against the Kiwis in the Test opener, the former New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris has said that India should include Shubman Gill in the second Test in Christchurch. While calling him a ‘special talent’, Styris also stated that Gill could be the mainstay along with skipper Virat Kohli for the next 10 years.

“I am currently, as I have been for a year or two, flying the flag for Shubman Gill. I think he is a special talent who India are leaving out unnecessarily. I think he could be the mainstay along with Kohli for the next 10 years for this batting line-up for India. I am not sure if he feels the same way, I would get him into the side.”

However, Styris also admitted that India might find it difficult to decide which position Gill should come out and bat.

“India and Australia usually bring their new players at no. 6 positions. So India have that option. They can say, ‘Look Prithvi, we know you are young, we’ll come back to you in another condition’, maybe put Vihari up the top or put Shubman Gill at 6. Or of course, they can put him straight into the top of the order because that’s where he usually bats.”

India will play the second Test against Kiwis at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch from February 29.

News Cricket

He tampered with the ball: Jason Roy accuses Wahab Riaz of changing condition of the ball

Abhishek Singh Updated: 24 February, 2020, 12:52 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

English batsman Jason Roy has accused Wahab Riaz of ball-tampering in a Pakistan Super League match between Karachi Kings and Quetta Gladiators at the National Stadium in Karachi.

The incident took place during the first innings of the match when Gladiators were batting. Jason asked Wahab whether he had changed the condition of the ball in order to gain reverse swing. After this, the duo clashed as the pacer seemed visibly angry at the accusations leveled against him. The Gladiators’ skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed had to intervene and take control of the situation.

“Roy asked Wahab whether he had made the ball properly to gain reverse swing. The Pakistani pacer reacted angrily and argued before Sarfaraz intervened to diffuse the situation,” a source was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.

Sarfaraz, the mediator insisted that the heated exchange of words between the players should not be blown out of proportion as it is part and parcel of the game.

“Look these things happen in cricket when there is intense competition between the players,” the former Pakistan skipper said.

Interestingly, the Karachi Kings skipper Imad Wasim had reportedly named Wahab Riaz as one of the three players to have tampered the ball previously in the PSL.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli backs himself, says he is batting really well at the moment

Abhishek Singh Updated: 24 February, 2020, 12:38 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli believes that he is in good touch with the bat and that it’s not just reflecting in his scores.

"I am absolutely fine. I am batting really well. I feel that sometimes scores don't reflect the way you are batting and that's what can happen when you don't execute what you want to well," Kohli told media persons after India lost the first Test by 10 wickets.

New Zealand has been a rare overseas tour in recent times when Kohli could not live up to his high standards, scoring only one half-century so far in nine innings across three formats. His sequence of scores read 45, 11, 38, 11 (T20s); 51, 15, 9 (ODIs) and 2 and 19 (1st Test).

"Look when you play so much cricket and you play for so long, obviously you will have 3-4 innings that don't go your way. If you try and make too much out of it, it'll keep piling on," the skipper has his priorities clear.

The 31-year-old captain feels that it’s not about scoring runs, rather winning matches is all that matters.

"It's never been about my performance on tour or about how many runs I score. It's all about if the team wins, even a 40 is good. If the team loses, then even a 100 is irrelevant for me, and I'm going to stay in that mindset," he stated.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli blasts fans for criticizing Team India after first defeat in the ongoing World Test Championship

Abhishek Singh Updated: 24 February, 2020, 12:27 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian skipper Virat Kohli has said that he couldn’t care less if people wanted to make a mountain out of a single defeat that India suffered in the opening match against New Zealand at Basin Reserve, Wellington.

"We know we haven't played well, but if people want to make a big deal out of it, make a mountain out of it, we can't help it as we don't think like that," Virat said at the post-match media interaction.

This was India's first defeat in the World Test Championship, coming after two inept batting efforts.

"Some people might want it to be the end of the world but it's not. For us, it's a game of cricket we lost and we move on and keep our heads high," Kohli added.

The Indian captain further went on to say that the team doesn’t pay attention to the home away chatter, also known as the “outsider” issue. He further added that the team believes in itself and would make a strong comeback in the next game.

"That's why we have been able to play this kind of cricket. If we would have paid attention to the outside chatter, we would again be at No. 7 or 8 in the rankings. We don't really bother about what people are saying on the outside," the skipper said.

News Cricket

Day one it was probably the toss that turned out to be very important - Virat Kohli

AP Updated: 24 February, 2020, 10:23 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Boult and Southee know how to make the best of New Zealand conditions and they were able to do so when Williamson won an influential toss on Friday and opted to make first use of the ball. India's powerful batting lineup struggled on a greenish pitch, it was bowled out for 165 and New Zealand took a grip on the match that it didn't release.

Williamson made 89 as New Zealand scored 348 in its first innings, building a commanding lead. It looked likely to be in an even stronger position when it passed India's total with only two wickets down but needed late order contributions from Colin de Grandhomme (43), Kyle Jamieson (44) and Boult (38) to achieve a substantial total.

New Zealand then took a major step towards victory when it removed Prithvi Shaw (14), Mayank Agarwal (58), Cheteshwar Pujara (11) and captain Virat Kohli (19) before stumps on Sunday, with Boult claiming three of those wickets,

Conditions in the second innings differed from the first. On the first day, the ball seemed a little on a moist pitch and swung a little in heavily overcast condition.

By Monday the pitch had dried, hardened and the New Zealand bowlers used to bounce and angle to worry the India batsmen.

Boult took the first wicket of the day, bowling around the wicket and from wide on the crease to dismiss Ajinkya Rahane (29), who played inside the line and edged to wicketkeeper B.J. Watling.

Southee dismissed Hanuma Vihari, who didn't add to his overnight score of 15. In a brilliantly-laid trap, Southee enticed Vihari with two outswingers before bowling an inswinger which ducked back past the inside edge.

Ravi Ashwin also fell to Southee, trapped lbw by a fuller, straighter ball which might have been a missing leg. Ashwin walked and didn't consider reviewing the decision.

Ishant Sharma made 12, hitting a boundary which took India into the lead and meant New Zealand had to bat again. He also received an lbw decision with equanimity, falling to de Grandhomme.

Southee and Boult combined to dismiss Rishabh Pant — Boult taking a good catch from Southee's bowling — and Southee completed his five-wicket bag with the dismissal of Jasprit Bumrah for 0.

"Day one it was probably the toss that turned out to be very important," Kohli said. "But as a batting unit we take a lot of pride in being competitive and we were just not competitive enough."

News Cricket

It was an outstanding effort over the space of four days - Kane Williamson

AP Updated: 24 February, 2020, 10:22 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

New Zealand have beaten top-ranked India by 10 wickets in the series-opening match, posting its 100th win in tests and inflicting India's first loss in eight matches in the ICC Test Championship.

India started play Monday at 144-4, 39 runs behind New Zealand after trailing by 183 on the first innings and was dismissed for 191, a lead of only eight runs. Trent Boult took 4-39 and Tim Southee snared 5-61, his 10th five-wicket haul in tests.

Southee completed match figures of 9-110, making a strong statement after his omission from the third test against Australia in January. New Zealand knocked off the winning runs in just eight balls before lunch, finishing 9-0 with Tom Latham on 7 and Tom Blundell on 2.

The win marked a massive turnaround for New Zealand after its humbling 3-0 series loss in Australia in December and January. Back on home soil, New Zealand showed some of the form that lifted it to No. 2 in the world test rankings prior to the Australian series.

"It was an outstanding effort over the space of four days," New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said. "We know how strong this Indian team is all around the world.

"The efforts that went into that first innings, to put the ball in the right areas for long periods of time (were crucial), and I think with the bat to get what was a very competitive total on a surface that I thought was a very good one, that offered right throughout the match."

Opinion Cricket

ICC Test Championship: Why is Cheteshwar Pujara important for Team India?

CT Contributor Updated: 24 February, 2020, 10:20 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Cheteshwar Pujara has been a pivotal force for the Indian cricket team and h importance in the Test side is huge. The 32-year-old may have endured a difficult first Test against New Zealand in the first Test of the two-match series, however, he will be aiming to make amends in the second Test.

India are currently topping the ICC World Test Championship with 360 points picked up from the three-Test series. They had won all the seven Tests played until the Test match against the Kiwis now.

India suffered their maiden loss which handed New Zealand 60 points. If the side is to do well and increase its tally, the second Test must be won and level the series.

Post this series, India are set to face Australia away in a four-Test series in 2020-21. That will be followed by a five-Test series against England at home. Therefore, things will be pivotal. India cannot leave it to a decider against England and rather seal the top two berths prior to that. With Australia and England expected to fight for the Championship, India will aim to have things under control.

Pujara has played a substantial role for India and his presence in the upcoming 10 Test matches will be highly influential. He was India’s top performer in the 2018-19 Test series win in Australia after having scored in excess of 500 runs. India’s major issues have been scoring significantly in SENA nations and against New Zealand that was visible.

Pujara himself didn’t manage to get runs and looked ruffled up against the Kiwi pacers. His poor shot-making in the second innings saw him waste his hard work. Prior to that, he had consumed substantial time alongside Mayank Agarwal but failed to come out of his ultra-defensive approach.

Pujara has 5,762 runs from 76 Test matches at 48.83. However, the number drops significantly in away performances. He has amassed 2,291 runs in 35 Tests at 38.81. With someone like a Pujara, it is crucial to come in and consume deliveries and see off the struggling phase. His time and tenacity help someone like a Virat Kohli to come in and not get exposed to the new ball. Going forward, the right-handed batsman has to carry the side and show his mettle. He needs to score runs aplenty to help India draw plenty of character and steel.

His presence has been strong for the side of late and that value he brings cannot be written off. If India are to win, they need runs and partnerships. For that, nobody is better than someone like a Pujara, who has been a consistent force. If he manages to break free from the shackles and put up a defining show, then India can well challenge for the Championship.

Feature Cricket

Negative factors too behind India’s No. 1 ranking

Partab Ramchand Updated: 24 February, 2020, 10:17 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

I have often looked at the ICC Test rankings and wondered how India are perched at No 1. Obviously there is a method and a system behind the rankings and India have been at the top for a considerable time much longer than the previous phase when they were the No 1 from 2009 to 2011. But the fact remains that India have lost in South Africa, in England and in New Zealand these past few years while winning a series in Australia for the first time. Winning a series in Sri Lanka and West Indies is no big deal while at home, of course, India are unbeatable. Overall then there is always an element of doubt on whether India are deserving of the No 1 spot and such doubts gain further impetus following the ten-wicket defeat at Wellington on Monday.

One cannot overlook the fact that there is a negative factor in India’s favor. Other teams too have been inconsistent in their overall performances in recent years and that makes India’s showing in the final context still the best. For example, New Zealand lost badly in Australia, England shared the Ashes series at home but were beaten black and blue `Down Under’. Australia were beaten in South Africa who then were routed in India. South Africa also went down to a shock defeat at home to Sri Lanka besides losing to England. Australia have lost in India and Pakistan and England have fared no better in these two countries. Pakistan have been no match in New Zealand.

The point to note is that virtually every team is a poor traveler even while having an admirable record at home and that works out in India’s favor with their formidable record in their own backyard. Sure there has been the odd upset result like when Sri Lanka shocked South Africa and New Zealand stunned Pakistan in the UAE. So it can be seen that every team has a rather inconsistent record. There is no invincible team around like the West Indies of the 80s and early 90s and Australia in the first decade of the new millennium.

That said India’s capitulation at Wellington was something that hardly anyone could have envisaged even if the visitors have now won only one of their last 19 Tests in New Zealand. Already there are memories of the nightmarish series in 2002-03 when India lost both Tests in three days. On that occasion to the first Test was lost by ten wickets. Given India’s indifferent record in New Zealand, it would take something extraordinary for the visitors to stage a comeback.

News Cricket

Having them 39 runs behind and four down is a good position – Trent Boult

AP Updated: 23 February, 2020, 4:02 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

New Zealand edged closer to an unexpected victory over top-ranked India in the ICC Test Championship when it drove home the advantage of 183-run first-innings lead on the third day of the first test.

India has won its first seven matches in the championship but its unbeaten record hangs in the balance after it ended the day at 144-4, still 39 runs behind New Zealand with only six-second innings wickets in hand.

Ajinkya Rahane was 25 and Hanuma Vihari 15 at stumps which were drawn unusually late at 7.30 pm local time Sunday with long shadows draped across the Basin Reserve. But the strength of India's batting was in the pavilion as it attempts to overcome a substantial first-innings deficit.

New Zealand gained the upper hand when it replied with 348 to India's first innings of 165. It began the day only 51 runs ahead at 216-5 but solidified its position when its last three wickets produced 123 runs.

Colin de Grandhomme (43) and Kyle Jamieson (44) put on 71 for the eighth wicket, then Trent Boult smashed 38 at No. 11 to substantially increase New Zealand's lead.

Boult then contributed with the ball, finishing with 3-27 as he dismissed Prithvi Shaw (14), Cheteshwar Pujar (11) and captain Virat Kohli (19) to strengthen New Zealand's position.

"Having them 39 runs behind and four down is a good position," Boult said. "I think all in all a good day and some good cricket played.

"I managed to get a few runs to extend the lead a little bit and it was nice to contribute a bit with the ball. It's turning into a very good wicket and if we can remain very aggressive with the ball, look to be as intimidating as we can and take a couple more wickets then who knows what's possible."

India struggled throughout the day Sunday to cope with unaccustomed conditions. Heavy overnight rain made the playing field damp at the start of the day and the Indian players froze in a cold southerly breeze.

When the sun came out and the day warmed, the pitch hardened and altered in character and the Indian players struggled to cope with the constant changes the conditions demanded.

Opener Mayank Argawal posted his fourth half-century in tests in an effort to anchor the India innings but he was out for 58 and while others batted for long periods, they did little to reduce the deficit.

Cheteshwar Pujara faced 81 balls for 11 runs and even Kohli labored for 43 deliveries for his 19 before he was caught by wicketkeeper B.J. Watling off Boult.

Earlier, Colin de Grandhomme and Kyle Jamieson put on 71 for the eighth wicket and Boult hit 38 from 24 balls as New Zealand's tail wagged to expand its first-innings lead.

New Zealand resumed Sunday at 216-5, just 51 runs ahead and lost wicketkeeper B.J. Watling (14) to the first ball of the day. Tim Southee (6) was out soon after as New Zealand, at 225-7, risked falling short of the lead it wanted after bowling out India for 165.

De Grandhomme made 43 and Jamieson 44 to swing the match back in New Zealand's favor. Jamieson continued a dream debut after taking 4-39 in India's first innings.

Boult blasted 38 from 24 balls at No. 11 to swell New Zealand's lead and increase the pressure on India when it came to batting.

"I think we talk in the lower order and anything we can contribute is always handy," Boult said. “We do take pride in adding to the total and that was nice to do so today.”

News Cricket

Pakistan to give Darren Sammy honorary citizenship

AP Updated: 23 February, 2020, 4:01 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Pakistan is making former West Indies captain Darren Sammy an honorary citizen for his role in restoring international cricket to the country.

Pakistan will also give Sammy its highest civilian award - Nishan-e-Pakistan - the Pakistan Cricket Board tweeted Saturday.

Sammy will be honored by Pakistan President Arif Alvi in a ceremony on March 23, a national holiday known as Pakistan Day.

Sammy is seen as having played a major role as a foreign player in helping the PCB bring international cricket back to Pakistan, following an attack by gunmen on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009.

Sammy has been leading Peshawar Zalmi in the Pakistan Super League since the domestic Twenty20 tournament began in 2016.

Peshawar won the second edition of the PSL in Lahore in 2017. It was the first time that the PCB had organized a PSL game in Pakistan after the first edition and all the second edition — except the final — were played in the United Arab Emirates.

Sammy is currently leading Peshawar in the fifth edition of the PSL. The tournament is being played in its entirety for the first time in Pakistan.

News Cricket

Ishant Sharma doesn’t get the respect he deserves - Scott Styris

Garima Kotroo Updated: 23 February, 2020, 3:59 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The former New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris has praised the Indian pacer Ishant Sharma for his heroics against the Kiwis. The 31-year-old experienced bowler, who sustained an ankle injury during a Ranji Trophy game last month, kept India in the competition by taking five crucial wickets against the hosts.

While lauding the efforts of Ishant Sharma for his side, Styris said that he is a terrific performer who has the ability to bowl consistently. He also stated that the lanky pacer doesn’t get the respect he deserves.

“He perhaps doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Those are phenomenal numbers. He is a terrific performer. His ability to consistently bowl in one area is great. He is right in the face of the batsmen and you can see the rewards are slowly coming.”

Earlier, Ishant was not feeling good during the game.

“I am not happy because I have not slept for two days and I was struggling a lot today (with my body). The way I would have liked to bowl, it did not happen. They asked me to play and I played. Anything, for the team.”

Opinion Cricket

Why Donald Trump and Why Motera?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 23 February, 2020, 3:57 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The hullabaloo over the state visit of American President Donald Trump has found uncommon quarters. The question is not so much about hosting the President of the United States as much as it is about the location and occasion.

One of the important state visits is awaited over the weekend. As part of that honor, Trump has been invited by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the newly built, 100,000 capacity Motera cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.

While it is obvious that Modi who hails from Gujarat would want to promote his own state and that too with a huge Gujarati diaspora settled in the USA, what makes this somewhat baffling is why an American President would be invited to inaugurate a renovated cricket stadium when cricket is not a popular sport and their team largely features Indian ex-pats.

While it would seem that Modi's show of popularity in Houston was only touted in India and not even mentioned by Trump amongst the many foreign dignitaries he met in later public conferences, Modi wants to show size matters.

While Trump claims millions of people showing up has been promised by Modi, the stadium has been adapted to host 100,000 spectators. Even the stadium renovation was rushed in time for Trump's visit.

It would appear that the cricket stadium's unveiling of a first look is being used for purposes other than cricket and that too by political heads of state who do not really follow the game anyway.

Even the remote idea that Trump's presence at a cricket stadium will raise the profile of the sport abroad is a far-fetched idea if ever there was one.

It would have been better and more pertinent had Modi invited illustrious cricketers and made a big show about the revamped stadium in his state rather than invited a dignitary who does not even plausibly know much about the game's existence let alone understand the game or the location.

Feature Cricket

IPL 2020: 5 Mumbai Indians batsmen to watch out for

Garima Kotroo Updated: 23 February, 2020, 3:53 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Mumbai Indians will kick-start the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League as defending champions. Rohit Sharma-led team successfully lifted the prestigious IPL title fourth time in the nerve-wracking finale of IPL 2019 against Chennai Super Kings. In the 13th edition also, they are looking forward to maintaining their dominance in the league. MI have a pretty good set of batsmen who can add strength to the squad for the next season. Let’s take a look at five brilliant batsmen who can win matches for Mumbai Indian in IPL 2020:

Rohit Sharma

When it comes to the Indian Premier League, Rohit Sharma is not just a name, he is a brand for Mumbai Indians supporters across the globe. With his power-hitting skills and brilliant leadership qualities, Mumbai outfit has managed to lift the prestigious IPL trophy four times (in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019). Rohit is one of those rare cricketers who has contributed a lot to the success of IPL. The Hitman is the most important cog in MI’s wheel who guided his side to the fifth IPL finale that too against the arch-rivals Chennai Super Kings (CSK). Rohit has scored 4898 runs in 188 IPL games at an average of 31.60 and a strike rate of 130.82 so far.

Hardik Pandya

In the upcoming edition of IPL, all eyes will be on the top all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who is going to make a comeback on the field after a long gap. Pandya had a dream run for Mumbai in IPL 2019 as he played exceptionally well with the bat and ball. His role was instrumental in Mumbai Indians' title win in the grand finale last year. If we take Pandya’s batting performance into account, he smashed 402 runs in 16 games last year. On the other hand, in the bowling department, he picked up 14 wickets at an economy rate of 9.17. The 26-year-old stylish cricketer is now sweating hard to replicate his last year’s form in the upcoming edition after painful back surgery.

Quinton de Kock

South African batsman Quinton de Kock, who opened the batting line-up with Rohit Sharma in the 12th edition of IPL, had a sensational stint with the four-time winners so far. He accumulated 529 runs at an average of 35.26 and a strike rate of 131.28 last year. Not only this, he was equally good behind the stumps. The dashing cricketer has been in a red-hot form for his national side in the last couple of years. He was rewarded with the captain’s armband in the limited-overs formats after Faf du Plessis stepped down as Proteas skipper. There is no doubt that Quinton will surely be the one to watch out for the Mumbai Indians.

Chris Lynn

Mumbai Indians bought some good players in the auction process and Chris Lynn was one of them. Interestingly, the Australian batsman was the biggest acquisition for MI in the process. He was released by the Kolkata Knight Riders during the trade window and was subsequently snapped by the Mumbai outfit for Rs. 2 crores. In 41 games, Lynn has scored 1280 runs in one of the best T20 leagues across the globe. The 29-year-old right-hander, who has a strike rate of 140.65 and an average of 33.68, has the ability to play big shots in different conditions.

Suryakumar Yadav

Suryakumar Yadav has been sensational for Mumbai Indians since he joined them in 2018. The right-hander, who was used to play for Kolkata Knight Riders, was given the responsibility to open the batting line-up for Mumbai India in 2018. Despite being new to the role, Yadav did exceptionally well, scoring 512 runs in 14 games that season. Suryakumar can switch gears easily and could even play patiently whenever the situation demands.