Each day I have been thrown different roles and responsibilities, and I am enjoying it - KL Rahul

AP Updated: 18 January, 2020, 9:52 AM IST


India leveled the series with a match to go after beating Australia by 36 runs in the second one-day international on Friday.

Made to bat first, India totaled 340-6 with half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan (96), Lokesh Rahul (80), and captain Virat Kohli (78).

Australia was well short long before the chase sputtered out with five balls left, on 304 all out. Steve Smith-led with 98 and Marnus Labuschagne added 46. They shared 96 runs for the third wicket but were gone by the 38th over.

Mohammed Shami finished with 3-77, while Navdeep Saini and Ravindra Jadeja took two wickets each.

The series decider is on Sunday at Bengaluru.

Dhawan and Rohit Sharma shared an 81-run opening stand, as India looked to rebound from the rare 10-wicket loss on Tuesday.

Sharma was out lbw on 42 to Adam Zampa (3-50) in the 14th over, which brought Kohli to the crease.

Dhawan and Kohli put on 103 runs, rotating the strike with ease and setting up a big score. India crossed 150 in the 25th over as Dhawan brought up his second consecutive half-century off 60 balls. He fell four short of a deserved hundred, dismissed by Kane Richardson.

Meanwhile, Kohli countered Zampa's leg spin with aplomb and reached his half-century off 50 deliveries.

However, Zampa bowled Shreyas Iyer (7) and got Kohli’s prized wicket for the fifth time in ODI cricket. The India skipper was caught at the boundary with Ashton Agar aiding Mitchell Starc in the catch relay.

Rahul took charge in the death overs and smashed six fours and three sixes, bringing up his half-century off 38 balls to push India past 300 and earn man of the match. He helped India score 89 runs in the last 10 overs.

“Each day I have been thrown different roles and responsibilities, and I am enjoying it," Rahul said. "I got a good start today and the ball was coming on nicely. I was happy with the wicketkeeping duties as well.” He wore the gloves instead of Rishabh Pant, who was ruled out of the game owing to a concussion.

Australia's chase lost David Warner (15) early thanks to a stunning one-handed leaping catch by Manish Pandey.

Smith and Aaron Finch (33) rebuilt the innings. Despite Finch being stumped off Ravindra Jadeja, Smith kept Australia abreast of the asking rate.

He found an able partner in Labuschagne, and Australia crossed 150 in the 25th over. When Labuschagne tried to push the scoring rate, he was out caught in the deep off Jadeja.

Alex Carey added 18 off 17 balls, but Kuldeep Yadav delivered the double blow in the 38th over that changed the game.

First, Carey was out caught at mid-off and Smith played on, falling two short of a hundred.

Australia's lower middle order didn’t have enough firepower to push for victory.

"We were always just one more wicket down than what we'd have liked at any stage of the chase,” Finch said.

Dhawan didn’t field after being hit in the ribs while batting. But he is expected to be fit for the series finale on Sunday at Bengaluru.start today and the ball was coming on nicely. I was happy with the wicketkeeping duties as well.” He wore the gloves instead of Rishabh Pant, who was ruled out of the game owing to a concussion.

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News Cricket

Harsha blasts team management for dropping world’s best wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha

Garima Kotroo Updated: 21 February, 2020, 10:51 AM IST


Famous commentator Harsha Bhogle came down hard on the Indian team management for dropping experienced wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha from the playing XI against New Zealand on Friday. India gave preference to the young player Rishabh Pant over Saha during the first Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. The selection didn’t go well with Harsha and he immediately took to his official Twitter account to slam the management.

Bhogle wrote, “Just up and see Saha is left out. We have just told every young keeper in India not to bother becoming the best in the world behind the stumps and instead focus on getting a few more runs in front of them. Disappointed.”

Bhogle also made it clear that he is not against Rishabh Pant but he feels for Saha.

“Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t about Pant. Just think in tests you pick your best five batsmen, best four bowlers, best keeper and think about a secondary skill for number six, if at all. I hope he does well because he is a gifted young player but feel for Saha.”

News Cricket

Won’t mind sharing India’s No. 1 Test spot with New Zealand - Virat Kohli

Garima Kotroo Updated: 20 February, 2020, 2:38 PM IST


Indian skipper Virat Kohli and his troops recently visited the Indian High Commission in Wellington ahead of their first Test against Kiwis at the Basin Reserve. During his visit, Kohli expressed his gratitude for the High Commission and even showered praise on New Zealand cricket.

“If we have to share our No.1 Test rank with anyone, it would be with New Zealand. We have had a tremendous time here, the hospitality has been amazing. We feel very welcomed here. We lost the ODI series, but now we have real cricket to look forward to that is Test cricket."

Kohli also went on to say that India have reached that stage of world cricket where every team wants to beat them.

“Something that we as a team has embraced a lot over the last three to four years, we have reached a stage where every team wants to beat us.”

Talking about the mutual admiration and respect between India and New Zealand, Kohli added, “New Zealand won’t be any different, but the difference would be there won’t be any spite. That’s one reason why I can sit with Kane on the boundary line and have a conversation mid-game about life and not cricket.”

Feature Cricket

High quality keenly contested Test series on the cards

Partab Ramchand Updated: 20 February, 2020, 2:36 PM IST


India are the No 1 ranked Test side while New Zealand are perched on the fourth position. The home advantage, however, can narrow the gap so that’s why one can expect a keen duel for supremacy in the two-Test series starting at Wellington on Friday. But there is one telling stat that no one can ignore. Out of their first seven Tests in New Zealand India won four. Of the next 16, the visitors have won just one. And as is well known New Zealand are difficult to beat at home.

So does this make New Zealand favorites for the contest? They certainly have a formidable squad and are at full strength after Trent Boult’s recovery following the injury he sustained during the Boxing Day Test against Australia. Their chief strength will be the pace trio of Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner though Matt Henry has been called up as cover for Wagner who is awaiting the birth of his child. The selectors have also rewarded Kyle Jamieson. The tall paceman was impressive in the ODIs against India though he is unlikely to play at Wellington with Ajaz Patel being picked as the lone specialist spinner.

New Zealand’s other strength is their batting. Led by the outstanding duo of skipper Kane Williamson and the vastly experienced Ross Taylor who incidentally will be playing his 100th Test the Kiwis bat deep down the order with the likes of Tom Blundell, Tom Latham, Colin de Grandhomme, BJ Watling and Henry Nichols round to lend a helping hand.

However if New Zealand have a formidable squad so does India who will be keen on building upon their run of seven successive victories. Their strength too is their pace attack and the middle order batting. The pace attack is the best in Indian cricket history and even though there is quite a choice before the team management the trio of Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami should get the nod. The middle-order batting (Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari if he plays) is one that could cause even the strong New Zealand attack to have sleepless nights. And Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw have the class and skill to blunt the new ball at the top of the order.

So it does look like it could well be a high quality keenly contested series between two equally strong teams though one must always keep in mind the all-important stat stated earlier.

News Cricket

Almost as good as Headingley - Michael Vaughan takes a cheeky dig at Motera Stadium

Garima Kotroo Updated: 20 February, 2020, 2:34 PM IST


Former England skipper Michael Vaughan never misses any chance to mock Indian cricket fans with his hilarious comments. This time, the 45-year-old legendary batsman tried to take a jibe at the iconic Motera Stadium. Vaughan has compared the world’s largest cricket stadium with Headingley in England.

BCCI recently posted a colorful picture of the newly-refurbished Sardar Patel Stadium on its official Twitter handle and wrote ‘The sun is out! #MoteraStadium’. While many cricket fans appreciated the picture wholeheartedly, Vaughan came forward to take a dig at the venue. He cheekily commented, “Almost as good as Headingley !!.” Headingley stadium in Leeds has a seating capacity of over 18,000 while Motera can host over 1,10,000 spectators at a time.

US President Donald Trump, who is set to come to India for a two-day trip along with First Lady Melania on February 24, will visit the iconic stadium where the construction work is still underway. After the likes of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump will be the fourth world leader to be hosted by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad

Motera has hosted 12 Tests, 24 ODIs and just one T20I game between India and Pakistan in 2012 so far. It is the ground where batting maestro Sunil Gavaskar had completed 10,000 runs in the longer format during the 1986-87 Test series against Pakistan.

News Cricket

The bromance continues: Kane Williamson gives best batsman title to Virat Kohli

Garima Kotroo Updated: 20 February, 2020, 2:33 PM IST


Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson has named his favorite batsman across formats ahead of New Zealand’s first Test against India. Not so surprisingly, Williamson picked Indian captain Virat Kohli’s name with whom he shares a good bond on and off the field.

“Obviously, Virat is the best, one-off, without a doubt in all formats. I have always admired Virat in a lot of ways.”

During the fifth T20I in Mount Maunganui, both Kohli and Williamson were seen chatting on the sidelines for a long time as they were not part of the playing XI.

Speaking about India’s top spot in the World Test Championship, Williamson also added, “They are a quality side and leading the World Test Championship. There is a reason for it, they have so many quality batsmen in their line-up and they have got a world-class bowling line-up as well. So, you certainly do not focus on the one single player and that brings us back to the focus on everyone’s team approach.”

The first Test between both the countries is scheduled to be played at the Basin Reserve in Wellington and it will begin from February 21.

News Cricket

Bangladesh give last series to skipper Mashrafe Mortaza

Abhishek Singh Updated: 20 February, 2020, 2:30 PM IST


The president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), Nazmul Hasan wants to move ahead of legendary captain Mashrafe Mortaza. The star player will lead Bangladesh for the last time in the upcoming series against Zimbabwe.

"There might have been instances when Mashrafe played despite not passing the beep test but it will not happen now. If he wants to play, he has to perform and get selected in the team," Nazmul said.

Mortaza became captain for the second time in 2014, coincidentally, also against Zimbabwe. Overall, he captained Bangladesh in 85 ODIs, won 47 and lost 36.

Stating that the board wanted to have a farewell series for the captain, Nazmul Hasan said that now it’s up to Mortaza how long he wants to play.

"We also need to consider Mashrafe's contribution in turning points of Bangladesh cricket; it is unparalleled. All the big players around the world plan, decide and inform when it's time for their retirement. We wanted to make some kind of arrangement to see him off,” added Nazmul Hasan.

"For the World Cup, we have to decide on the team and captain with at least two years in hand," Nazmul said about picking a new captain.

The retirement speculation has been going around since the World Cup last year. The one-day series begins from 1st of March 2020.

Feature Cricket

 Virat Kohli’s Assessment Symptomatic of IPL-Era

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 20 February, 2020, 2:29 PM IST


Virat Kohli’s assessment of his own possible career longevity is already raising concern. While Kohli has suggested that he still has three or four good years ahead of him before he will assess his physical and mental workload with regard to playing for India, it has raised the issue of whether a cricketer at his peak contemplating his time in the game at thirty-one years of age is symptomatic of the Indian Premier League age.

With over a decade of the Twenty20 tournament having usurped Indian cricketers of a proverbial offseason, while the Indian Premier League has provided a greater number of cricketers employment at a higher salary albeit, for a couple of months, it has, also, taken a toll on the current batch of cricketers.

While the IPL has featured even forty-year-old cricketers from India and other participating foreign countries, what it has gone unaccounted for is having cricketers now with early retirements in international cricket in order to lighten their workload, increase their financial security through playing Twenty20 as freelance agents and providing much-needed sustenance for their families. While the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) did make it mandatory on cricketers to provide no-objection certificates from their own cricket boards in order to participate in the Indian Premier League, it has also, thrown cricketers into a dilemma when it comes to Indian cricket and created a worldwide syndrome where more and more cricketers are taking the early retirement.

With the pressure of playing across all three formats of the game along with the IPL, not a few cricketers like Virat Kohli deal with having to play international cricket practically throughout the year as well as play the IPL in the grueling summer months. While they do profit financially, it can be too much of a task.

But rather than regulating the number of games players play and assess the issue of burnout, player and injury management which has become a controversial topic when it comes to player niggles and time out which the BCCI claims a player is allowed to ask for without the player necessarily having the cushion of retaining his place after the break, the grey area, and blind spots continue to shadow the premier Twenty20 tournament in India.

To that end, the fact that while the IPL can claim that several young players, as well as retired players, have opportunity to extend their scope and longevity, the number of cricketers who are contemplating retirement, particularly batsman who usually peak post 30 years, is of concern for most cricket teams that count on experience and wealth of knowledge in the international arena.

Kohli is currently one of the most influential cricketers, on and off the field. His aggressive brand of cricket suits the shorter formats. His versatility makes him the champion for the Test cricket format as well. In that sense, Kohli’s longevity as an international cricketer far supersedes the idea that even if in a couple of years, Kohli decides to bid the game adieu, he could still show up for the Twenty20 tournaments. As the veritable flagbearer, he is the transition to the next generation of cricketers and therefore, a vital link to the continuance of the game in its present avatar.

This self-assessment of Kohli on India’s tour of New Zealand does ring alarm bells for the current trends around the world even if Kohli’s own retirement is not imminent in the immediate future.

News Cricket

World’s largest cricket stadium in Motera will not be inaugurated by Donald Trump

Abhishek Singh Updated: 20 February, 2020, 1:44 PM IST


According to reports, the president of the United States of America was to inaugurate the world’s largest cricket stadium, the Motera ground during his India visit.

The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Cricket Stadium in Motera is located in Ahmedabad, which is the venue of Trump’s rally in India. However, it has now been learned that the news was only an assumption and Trump would not be inaugurating the venue during his visit.

“We have never announced that US President Donald Trump was to inaugurate the stadium. It was just speculation and assumption that he is going to inaugurate Motera. It was never an announcement,” an official made responsible for overseeing Trump's visit told Ahmedabad Mirror.

When a BCCI official who believed that the stadium will be inaugurated by Trump was contacted, said: "In fact, we are waiting for our invitation and were even planning to get the Indian Cricket Team and celebrities at Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad for the spectacular inauguration."

While it has been confirmed that the Trump will be meeting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Motera Stadium, the inauguration won't be taking place.

It has also been reported that the inauguration, whenever it takes place, will be done by the hands of an Indian.

News Cricket

Mother from another brother: Umar Akmal’s crazy tweet goes viral

Abhishek Singh Updated: 20 February, 2020, 12:38 PM IST


Umar Akmal is regularly in the news for his laughable antiques. Be it threatening the fitness instructor to his funny, rather laughable tweets filled with hazardous use of the English language, Akmal has made a mockery of himself.

This time around as well, he was brutally trolled for allegedly posting a hilariously wrong caption on Twitter. Umar posted a picture of himself with former Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq captioning it as "Mother from another brother" instead of the famous slang "brother from another mother".

However, soon after realizing that he goofed up on the social media platform, Akmal reportedly deleted the tweet but the users took screenshots of the post and shared it on social media to troll the wicket-keeper batsman for his blunder as #umarakmalquote and #umarakmalquotes trended on top in India.

Fans trolled him left, right and center.

Umar is currently out of the team and is looking to improve his records by performing well in the upcoming Pakistan Super League to present himself as a candidate for the Men in Green for the upcoming T20 World Cup. Umar Akmal has 10 ducks in 84 T20Is.

News Cricket

Umar Akmal suspended from all forms of cricket by PCB

Abhishek Singh Updated: 20 February, 2020, 12:04 PM IST


Pakistan batsman and an important player of the Quetta Gladiators, the defending champions of the Pakistan Super League(PSL), Umar Akmal has been suspended from all forms of cricket by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) with immediate effect, under Anti-Corruption Code.

The PCB has said that until Anti-Corruption Unit completes its investigation, the Lahore born cricketer will not be able to play competitive cricket.

“As this is an ongoing investigation, the PCB will not make any further comments,” PCB said in a release.

Umar Akmal, who was a part of the Quetta Gladiators in PSL, will in all probability be replaced by the franchise. “Quetta Gladiators are allowed to apply for Umar Akmal’s replacement in the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020,” PCB added.

The 29-year-old Umar Akmal has represented Pakistan in 16 Tests, 121 ODIs and 84 T20Is, scoring 1003, 3194 and 1690 runs respectively.

"The reigning PSL Champions Quetta Gladiators would like to state that @TheRealPCB is already investigating the matter of Umar Akmal and the franchise will not make any comment until the inquiry is concluded. Meanwhile, Gladiators will take a replacement pick," a PCB tweet read.

News Cricket

Pakistan see PSL as a platform to bid for ICC event

AP Updated: 20 February, 2020, 10:06 AM IST


The return of premier domestic Twenty20 cricket in Pakistan is a step toward bidding for a major ICC event, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board said Wednesday.

Ehsan Mani said the PCB is making preparations to bid for a top cricket event in the cycle of 2023-31.

“We want to show to the ICC and to other countries that we are capable of hosting an ICC event and we will aggressively bid for that,” Mani said.

Pakistan has in the past hosted at least three major cricketing tournaments, including matches during the 1987 and 1996 World Cups and the 2008 Asia Cup.

“But this (PSL) is the largest cricketing event hosted by us,” Mani said.

Title defenders Quetta Gladiators will take on two-time champion Islamabad United in the opening match of the Pakistan Super League on Thursday as the league returns home in its entirety after four years. Peshawar Zalmi, Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans are the other franchises competing in the tournament.

Four major cities — Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi — will host all 34 matches over a period of 32 days. Lahore will host 14 matches, including the two playoffs and the final at Gaddafi Stadium on March 22.

Nine matches will be organized in Karachi, including a playoff, while Rawalpindi and Multan will host eight and three matches, respectively.

A two-hour opening ceremony at the National Stadium in Karachi is planned before Quetta, led by former Pakistan Twenty20 captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, takes on Islamabad in the first match at 1600 GMT.

“There will be a pressure of being title defenders, but we will try to play some good cricket in front of big crowds,” Sarfaraz said.

With the return of PSL in its entirety, the PCB sees it as a final step to win back the confidence of foreign teams that it’s safe to resume playing cricket in Pakistan.

Pakistan went into isolation in 2009 when terrorists attacked the Sri Lanka cricket team bus in Lahore, leaving eight people dead and several players injured.

The fragile security situation in Pakistan forced the Pakistan Cricket Board to launch the PSL in 2016 in the United Arab Emirates because foreign cricketers were not comfortable playing in Pakistan.

But gradually after hosting the final of the second edition of the PSL in Lahore in 2017, the PCB has managed to host test matches after a 10-year gap. Sri Lanka played two test matches in Rawalpindi and Karachi last December while Bangladesh also played a test match in Rawalpindi last month.

As many as 36 international players, including Darren Sammy of the West Indies, will be representing six franchises.

“The amount of interest (in the PSL) has been incredible around the world,” Mani said. “Over 450 foreign players registered to be considered for the event and in the end 36 have been chosen by six franchises. This reflects the confidence of foreign players to come and play in Pakistan.”

News Cricket

Expecting 'flak,' Aussies return to the scene of cricket scandal

AP Updated: 20 February, 2020, 10:04 AM IST


It's maybe the final acid test of the rehabilitation of David Warner and Steve Smith as they return to the country where they played central roles in one of the most scandalous episodes in cricket.

Warner, Smith and Australia are back in South Africa for the first time since the ball-tampering drama of two years ago that led to 12-month bans for Warner and Smith, lost Smith the captaincy, and threw their team into turmoil.

The two batsmen, two of Australia's best, returned to international cricket nearly a year ago following the bans. But this week gives South Africa fans their first chance to personally “welcome” them back.

The Australians say they are expecting “flak.”

“No doubt, no doubt,” Smith said Wednesday. "I think they’re hostile at the best of times here. For me, it doesn’t bother me too much.

“I honestly don’t notice it ... I block it all out.”

A three-match Twenty20 series gets underway on Friday at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, notoriously home to a confrontational crowd and where Australia's ill-fated 2018 tour ended.

Australia and South Africa will also play three one-day internationals.

The Australians are this week staying in the same Johannesburg hotel where Warner and Smith were given their bans in 2018, and where the seismic fallout from the scandal began. It cost Smith, coach Darren Lehmann and the CEO of Australian cricket their jobs.

“Just walking into the hotel ... just initially it was like, last time I left here it wasn’t pretty,” Smith said. “It wasn’t the best time in my life but I've moved on from that. Learned a lot over the last two years and, yeah, moving forward.”

That test series two years ago was littered with unsavory incidents even before Warner convinced teammate Cameron Bancroft to illegally tamper with the ball to try and get an advantage in the third test in Cape Town. Smith, as captain, knew about the plan to cheat and allowed it to go ahead.

Bancroft is not on this tour but Warner and Smith will almost certainly be targeted by boos and taunting. South African officials hope nothing worse.

“Our guys are expecting that,” Australia captain Aaron Finch said.

Warner, a combustible character with previous disciplinary issues, will especially be under scrutiny. He was at the center of the ill-feeling in 2018 even before the ball-tampering. He and South Africa wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock — South Africa's captain for this series — had a heated confrontation on the dressing room stairs in the first test and had to be pulled apart by teammates. It stemmed from Warner's on-field sledging, or taunting, of de Kock, who responded.

Warner was targeted by the South African crowds in the second test. And he had a verbal altercation with a supporter on the edge of the field in the third game. The series exploded into controversy with the Warner-led plan to tamper with the ball using a piece of sandpaper later in that third test, but there was all-out animosity between the teams well before.

Cricket-wise, this series is the chance for both to begin fine-tuning ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia in October and November. That's not where the focus has been.

Justin Langer, who took over as Australia coach in the aftermath of the scandal, said he has established a more respectful ethos in the team. What the 2018 episode also revealed was that teams appeared to be sick of Australia, for years the dominant force in cricket, dishing out the sledging but complaining when it came back at them.

The Australia team has done much soul-searching since.

"We’ve talked a lot about this in the team, changing culture," Langer said. “It’s a great game and you want to see good battles between skills, between the batters and the bowlers. And we want to see it played in great spirit.

"From an Australian cricket point of view, I think we’ve shown that we’re ready to embrace that. We’ve done it for 18 months now and there’s absolutely no reason why that won’t continue.”

Will the South African fans embrace it, too?

“I would plead with South African fans to respect our opponents and don't go overboard with these things,” interim Cricket South Africa CEO Jacques Faul told Australian media.

But Mike Haysman, an Australian and former player who lives in South Africa and commentates on cricket, doesn't expect any hospitality.

"Warner will cop it. South African supporters are like that. The bottom line is David made his bed and he's got to lie in it," Haysman told Australia's Wide World of Sports.

Haysman said some fans will "treat the whole thing in good humor" but there will "definitely be people who'll go low."

Warner lost the war of words in 2018. But he arrives in South Africa with his bat doing the talking after a highly successful comeback amid plenty of derision from other crowds. He was chosen as Australia's best player of 2019.

“David loves that banter that comes from the crowd and it sort of gets him into the game,” Finch said.

News Cricket

Pressure on Australia at women's Twenty20 Cricket World Cup

AP Updated: 20 February, 2020, 10:02 AM IST


The face of a tormentor kept appearing in unlikely places while England captain Heather Knight was preparing for the ICC Women's Twenty20 World Cup.

Knight's team was beaten in the Ashes last year in England, where Ellyse Perry played a pivotal part in Australia's lopsided series win.

A long-time fixture of the Australian team, Perry has a high-profile role in an extensive promotional campaign for a tournament that organizers hope will conclude with a world-record crowd for a women's sports event. Her image seems to be everywhere, from TV to newspapers and billboards.

“I went for coffee in Sydney and saw Ellyse Perry’s face painted on the side of three different buses," Knight noted.

Australia is hosting the women's T20 World Cup for the first time — it's the seventh edition — and is the favorite to win the title for the fifth time. That adds to the pressure on a home team led by Meg Lanning and is something other contenders such as England and India, led by Harmanpreet Kaur, want to exploit.

The final is set for March 8 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and there are predictions of a crowd exceeding 90,000 — on International Women's Day. To get to that, the Australians would likely have to reach the championship match and be performing well.

England won the 50-over World Cup on home soil in 2017 with a victory in the final against India, which upset defending champion Australia in the semifinals on the back of Kaur's unbeaten 171.

The three teams were involved in a recent T20 tri-series to warm up for this World Cup, and Australia narrowly beat India in the final. But there were some nervous moments for the hosts, particularly at the top of the batting order. England and India have refreshed squads, while New Zealand, South Africa and the 2016 champion West Indies are capable of putting together winning streaks in international cricket's shortest format.

England's only win in the Ashes series — which includes a test, one-dayers and T20s — came after Australia had already secured the urn, and changes followed, including the hiring of Lisa Keightley as head coach.

“We learned a hell of a lot from what was a tough summer,” Knight said during a pre-tournament news conference, where the 10 captains wore wide-brimmed Akubra hats at Sydney's Taronga Zoo. “That Ashes gave us a chance to reassess what we want to do. We’re really clear with how we want to play our cricket and that’s a result of the Ashes. Hopefully, it will be a good thing for us that that happened."

The tournament opens with Australia against India on Friday in Sydney. The 15-strong India squad has an average age of just under 23 and contains four teenagers including 16-year-old opener Shafali Verma, who took on Perry during the recent tri-series.

Perry was the youngest player to debut in international cricket for Australia — at age 16 in 2007 — and has been involved in a boom time in the women's game. She also played soccer for Australia, including a women's World Cup, but it was the lure of a lucrative, full-time professional contract that swayed the star allrounder her to stick with cricket.

Kaur's young group is hoping a win will lead to a similar rise for the women's game in India, where cricket is the national sport and where the revenue generated drives the game globally.

After the 2017 World Cup we have seen many girls who want to become cricketers,” Kaur said. "If we win the World Cup, it will be very big for us."

Thailand is making its debut in an ICC global event, and the team is just hoping to make a mark.

“People back home don’t know me, some people know cricket but it’s not on television. They will follow us on Instagram and Facebook and will know about our game in Australia," said captain Sornnarin Tippoch, a former softball player who didn't know the rules of cricket when she started playing at university.

One thing Sornnarin's squad brings to the tournament is the element of fun, with crowds and opposition teams enjoying their attitude in the warm-up games.

The teenagers in the India squad have added an extra sense of enjoyment, too, with their penchant for dancing and singing.

“I think we’re the happiest team at the World Cup," seasoned batter Veda Krishnamurthy said in comments posted on the ICC's website, "although Thailand might give us some competition!”

News Cricket

India have a complete squad – Virat Kohli

Garima Kotroo Updated: 20 February, 2020, 10:01 AM IST


Indian skipper Virat Kohli is confident to beat the Kiwis in the upcoming two-match Test series starting from February 21. Ahead of the opener against New Zealand in Wellington, Kohli said that India have raised their level of performance in the past few years and they are not the same that they used to be.

During a pre-match presser, Kohli stated, “We have prepared in a manner where our fitness levels and concentration levels are such that we can compete against anyone in the world. That’s the kind of confidence we will carry into this series. We are not the same team that we used to be. We have a very complete squad now.”

The upcoming series against New Zealand will be the most important series for Kohli & Co. as they are eyeing on winning the ongoing World Test Championship. India successfully whitewashed the Black Caps in the T20Is by 5-0 margin but they were unable to maintain their winning momentum in the ODIs as Kiwis outclassed the Men in Blue by 3-0.

“They’re very skilled bowlers and batsmen and brilliant fielders so they don’t give a lot to bank on or pounce on. You need to be wary of the chances that come your way and be focused enough to capitalize,” Kohli added.

News Cricket

Deepika Padukone reveals her first look as Romi Dev from Ranveer Singh starrer ’83 film

Garima Kotroo Updated: 20 February, 2020, 9:58 AM IST


Bollywood star Ranveer Singh will be seen as the legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev in his upcoming film ‘83’ which is based on India’s historic win at the 1983 Cricket World Cup. The leading Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone, who played the role of Kapil Dev’s wife Romi Dev in the film, recently revealed the first look from the movie.

Deepika took to her official Instagram handle and shared a picture with her reel and real-life husband Ranveer Singh.

The caption of the photo reads, “To be able to play a small part in a film that captures one of the most iconic moments in sporting history has been an absolute honor. I’ve seen very closely the role a wife plays in the success of her husband’s professional and personal aspirations in my mother and 83 for me in many ways is an ode to every woman who puts her husband’s dream before her own…#thisis83.”

Later, Ranveer Singh also shared the same picture on his Instagram account and captioned, “The Wind Beneath my Wings. The Heart of the Hurricane. @deepikapadukone.”

The film, directed by Kabir Khan, is all set to hit the theaters on April 10.