Fanboy moment for Virat Kohli as he interviews his idol Viv Richards ahead of first Test

Staff Writer Updated: 22 August, 2019, 12:44 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, has time and again shower praise on Vivian Richards, who is considered as one of the best batsmen in the history of cricket. He recently got an opportunity to interview legendary cricketer.

He introduced the Caribbean star as the greatest inspiration to all the batsmen. Virat Kohli also asked about Viv's habit of playing fast bowlers without wearing a helmet.

"Whenever I have seen videos of you walking out, you're in a hat, no helmets back then. Even when there were, after a point you chose not to."

"I know the pitches were not as prepared or as covered back then. What was it like? What went through your head walking out knowing that you don't have a lot of protection. There is no restriction on bouncers and then you go out and dominate like that."

"What did you feel from the time you left the changing room till you got to the pitch. What was the mindset?" Kohli asked.

"I believed I am the man," said Richards. "It may sound arrogant but I always felt that I was involved in a game that I knew. I would back myself every time."

"You have to back yourself to get hurt, to take the knocks. But the helmet -- I tried, I am not going to lie and tell you. But, it felt a little uncomfortable. So I felt my cap, my maroon cap which was given to me. I felt so proud with that."

"My mindset was that if I am good enough to be here, if I get hurt it's God's will. I will survive," the 67-year-old replied.

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News Cricket

Ranveer recreates Kapil’s Natraj shot to perfection, former skipper bows down in appreciation

Staff Writer Updated: 11 November, 2019, 5:26 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh is playing Kapil Dev in his upcoming film ''83', which is based on India's historic 1983 World Cup triumph. He recently shared a photo from the famous movie where he can be seen playing Kapil Dev's iconic Natraj shot. The World Cup winning skipper was impressed with the way Ranveer has recreated his renowned stroke.

"Hats off Ranveer!" Kapil Dev wrote while retweeting his photo.

Sanjay Manjrekar also heaped praise on the talented Bollywood actor.

"Well done Ranveer! Not easy to 'pull' this off. Great attention to detail too with gear etc," Manjrekar tweeted.

It is one of the most awaited movies as India went on beat the Windies against all odds. The team led by Kapil Dev successfully defended a low total of 183.

Mohinder Amarnath, who is being played by Saqib Saleem in the movie, was declared the Man of the match in the finale for his figures of 3012, as West Indies were bowled out for 140.

News Cricket

I was going for six sixes in an over off Afif Hossain - Shreyas Iyer

Staff Writer Updated: 11 November, 2019, 3:53 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Shreyas Iyer and Lokesh Rahul scored attacking half-centuries after India was put into bat and reached 174-5.

Iyer scored a career-best 62 runs off 33 balls with three fours and five sixes while Rahul made 52 off 35 balls as they rescued India's innings after a double blow early on.

India had made a poor start with big-hitting Rohit Sharma (2) and Shikhar Dhawan (19) falling cheaply.

Bangladesh won the opening T20 by seven wickets, its first-ever win over India in the T20 format. India won the second T20 by eight wickets to level the series.

The T20 series will be followed by a two-test series, the second of which will be a day-night match.

The first test begins in Indore on Nov. 14. After the match, Iyer was interviewed by Yuzvendra Chahal.

“I was going for six sixes, but I knew after hitting three, the bowler will throw in a Yorker. But, in that situation, you can’t do anything and when you hit three boundaries, you have to go for six sixes, any batsmen would do the same,” said Iyer about his heroics.

News Cricket

Vaughan picks Eng and Aus as favourites to win T20 WC, gets trolled for not picking India

Tarun Singh Updated: 11 November, 2019, 3:48 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India is a cricket-crazy country and fans’ support Team India in any way possible. So how could they leave former England cricketer Michael Vaughan, who predicted that England or Australia will lift the next T20I World cup trophy, without considering Kohli-led Team India.

Michael Vaughan got trolled by cricket-mad Indian fans in displeasure when he took to Twitter and wrote, “Early T20 World Cup prediction ... England or Australia will be winning it ... #JustSaying.”

Indians fans on Twitter seemed confident that this time Virat Kohli-led Team India will definitely become the World Champions in T20I.

Vaughan tweeted after England clinched the five-match T20I series 3-2 against New Zealand.

Team Australia and England are holding number 2 and 3 positions respectively in the T20 internationals. Meanwhile, Team India are ranked 5th with 9,349 points.

India clinched the T20I series against Bangladesh with the help of new faces. Deepak Chahar and Shivam Dube were in top form in the third and final T20I.

India’s next T20I series is against West Indies which will start from December 6.

Meanwhile, MSK Prasad-led selection committee has made it clear that they will prefer young guns in order to finalize the best playing squad for the T20 World Cup in Australia.

News Cricket

Chahal sends fans into meltdown over THIS priceless throwback photo with Dhoni

Staff Writer Updated: 11 November, 2019, 3:28 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Yuzvendra Chahal was on a roll against Bangladesh. His exceptional bowling and timely wickets led India to an emphatic series win after losing the first game in Delhi. The Indian spinner is quite active on social media and loves to interact with fans. He took to Twitter to post a throwback picture with MS Dhoni and Kuldeep Yadav.

While Dhoni has not played cricket since India’s semi-final defeat, Kuldeep Yadav was axed from the T20 squad following his dismissal performance in the recent times. Meanwhile, picture shared by Chahal was soon flooded with comments from cricket fanatics.

India beat Bangladesh by 30 runs in their third and final Twenty20 match with medium-quick Chahar needing only 3.2 overs to destroy Bangladesh, including a yorker for the last wicket of Aminul Islam to set the record with a hat trick.

Chasing a winning target of 175, Bangladesh was bowled out for 144 in 19.2 overs.

Chahar's figures overtook Sri Lankan Ajantha Mendis' 6-8 against Zimbabwe in 2012. Chahar also overtook teammate Yuzvendra Chahal's 6-25 as the best T20I performance by an Indian bowler.

He found an able partner in allrounder Shivam Dube who chipped in with 3-30 from four overs. A key moment came in the 14th over when Dube bowled Mushfiqur Rahim for a golden duck.

Dube dismissed Naim and Afif Hossain off consecutive deliveries to put India back in charge.

The asking rate climbed and Chahar enjoyed a hat trick across two overs at the end to hand India the victory.

Earlier, Shreyas Iyer and Lokesh Rahul scored attacking half-centuries after India was put into bat and reached 174-5.

News Cricket

Dwayne Bravo likely to come out of international retirement

Staff Writer Updated: 11 November, 2019, 3:10 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Dwayne Bravo, the former West Indian all-rounder, is planning to come out of international retirement. He was ecstatic after West Indies won its first ODI series in five years. The star player feels cricket is in the right hands at the moment. Bravo shared a message through a video.

“Congratulations to the team. It has been five years since we have not won an ODI series and the boys have now done this. I am a former West Indies cricketer but I may soon come out of international retirement. Let me tell you all that you can’t think that West Indies cricket is now back to where we want it to be. What we have here are the right people in the right places and we are pointing in the right direction,” the former all-rounder Dwayne Bravo said as quoted by Trinidad Guardian.

He took a dig at the previous administrator of the cricket board.

“West Indies cricket has suffered at the hands of vindictive people who were bent on keeping certain people away from the team, ending many careers,” he added.

Feature Cricket

The Smith-Cronje Earpiece Connection

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 11 November, 2019, 3:05 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

One of the more interesting, if not altogether controversial, instances that passed under the radar in the past week was the issue of relaying of information across the earpiece platform. Ironically Australia’s Steve Smith and South Africa’s late Hansie Cronje shared yet another strange connection – not of ignominy only but also, controversial innovation.

In the third one day international between Australia and Sri Lanka, there was a moment where Steve Smith had yet another near brain fade moment where in a conversation with the commentators, he decided to relay the information passed onto him to the Australian captain, Aaron Finch, about Pat Cummins being on a hat trick. While Finch did not heed the advice and retained the original field, it brought into question once more the veracity of having players hooked up to a microphone and earpiece while playing on the field.

The incident brought back memories of then South African captain, Hansie Cronje, trying the innovative earpiece idea with the coach, Bob Woolmer. Not customary in cricket to have the captain advised by the coach directly in real time, almost as soon as Hansie Cronje played out the event, the earpiece activity was put to rest and with it, the idea of having any kind of direct, wireless conversation between coach and captain. The innovation put to bed, cricket returned to its traditional form, with one exception particularly with the advent of Twenty20 and the need for interactive cricket to insert more spice into the game. Cricket’s version of a bird’s eye view.

While tennis has modified the relationship between coach and player somewhat, cricket buried the idea although it brought in a concept of having the commentators connected by having one of the cricketers on the field hooked in on the conversation at the discretion of the commentators and producers from time to time. While it might have added a quirky sideshow to the entertainment format, it is caused a few controversial moments not unlike the Smith moment.

It has not been without controversy, bringing into play some cricketers opposed to the idea over issues of concentration and discomfort with that kind of entertainment gimmick. More importantly, although rare, there have been a few instances where the commentators’ inadvertent slip of the tongue has led to key passing on of information which could benefit the fielding team. With more untrained commentators that are often recently retired cricketers who are still too close to the game and/or the players, it can be a tricky scenario. It becomes complicated when it could be used a way to pass on information, not unlike spot fixing, for certain interests, of team, entertainment, tournament or all of the above.

Feature Cricket

5 Major Takeaways for India from T20I series against Bangladesh

Harshit Anand Updated: 11 November, 2019, 2:54 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

At one stage in the third T20I, with dew gaining traction and India lacking a quality fifth bowler, Bangladesh needed just 65 runs from 43 balls to win a historic T20I series in India. But it was not to be as Indian bowlers made a fighting comeback and as a result, the Men in Blue won by a fine margin of 30 runs. It was yet another three-match T20I series triumph for India after being 0-1 down.

It was a great show of grit and character from an inexperienced Indian team, which had its sloppy moments in the series. But all is well if it ends well.

Today, we take a look at the 5 Major Takeaways for India from T20I series win over Bangladesh!

Rishabh Pant is in a complete mess

India's promising wicket-keeper batsman, Rishabh Pant made 33 runs in the two innings he batted against Bangladesh. He again struggled to get going. Pant is seemingly low on confidence and is confused in terms of batting approach. Also his execution with the bat, has not got better with time. Behind the wicket as well, he made a few errors in form of poor DRS calls. In the best interests of the team and also Pant, he should be sent back to domestic cricket. The youngster needs to regain his swagger and confidence in batting and also ponder how to translate his X-factor abilities at the highest-level.

The rise and rise of Shreyas Iyer

Shreyas Iyer was the most impressive Indian batsman in the T20I series. The 24-year old showcased elite intent in all the three games but saved his best for the series-decider, where he top-scored for India with 62 runs from 33 balls on a tricky pitch. He hit five sixes and treated spinners with absolute mayhem. Iyer has now cemented his place in the limited-overs format at the much debated no.4 position. Even in the first two T20Is, he had shown glimpses of his extravagant abilities with a 13-ball 22 in the first T20I and 13-ball 24 in the second game respectively. He had played match-winning knocks in West Indies ODIs as well and if he improves his game against high-end pace, he can be one of the best batsmen in the world.

Deepak Chahar- India's latest bowling sensation

Type casted as a new-ball specialist, it was Khaleel Ahmed's poor death bowling in the Delhi T20I, which forced India to bowl Chahar at death in Rajkot and Nagpur T20Is. He first impressed by giving away just 15 runs and taking wicket of Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah at death in the second T20I and then had a historic outing at Nagpur, where he secured best-ever T20 international figures by any bowler- 6/7. The 27-year old has slower bouncers, knuckle balls, cutters, and Yorkers up his sleeve to trouble batsman at the back end, which when combined with his ability to take wickets with the new ball, makes him an exciting package for India. Chahar finished with 8 wickets in three games, had an economy of 5.41, and was adjudged the Man-of-the-Match in the series decider and also the Player-of-the-Series.

Time up for Shikhar Dhawan and Khaleel Ahmed

Shikhar Dhawan had a forgettable T20I series against Bangladesh. He batted at a below-par strike-rate of 107.05 and struggled to find the right tempo with his batting. On the other hand, KL Rahul impressed with an exceptional fifty in high pressure situation of the series-decider. Dhawan, after playing 57 T20I innings, averages 27.85 and most importantly, has a mediocre strike-rate of 128.22. In comparison, KL Rahul is averaging 42.34 and has a strike-rate of 145.37 after 28 innings. It's high time when Rahul replaces Dhawan as opener in the shortest format.

Khaleel Ahmed bowled poor line and lengths and looked horribly out of sorts. He has 13 wickets in 14 T20Is, with his economy hovering around 9. When put under pressure, the left-arm pacer kept bowling half-trackers. There was a time in the series when Bangladesh batsmen had hit seven consecutive fours off his bowling.

Lack of wicket-taking ability in Krunal-Sundar

In the last 10 T20Is, Krunal Pandya has just picked four wickets, going wicket less in as many as seven games. He has batted nine times out of 18 games but barring a knock or two, hasn't been impressive enough. No wonder why India fielded an extra batsman in his place in the third T20I. On the other hand, Washington Sundar has picked up five wickets in his last 10 T20Is, going wicketless in as many as five games. Sundar has batted just four times in his 15 match T20I career, his best score being 14*. It shows he rarely gets to bat and doesn't have a notable contribution with the willow. In comparison, Shivam Dube, who was also playing as an all-rounder, took three crucial wickets in the series-decider.

Chahal bowled brilliantly in the Rajkot T20I and was among the wickets in the series, taking four wickets in three matches. He had a catch dropped off his bowling in the first game and a missed stumping in the second game, otherwise the wrist-spinner could have had more wickets. And after the series, India should again look back at KulCha for the T20Is.

Opinion Cricket

Why Deepak Chahar is the silent assassin of Team India in T20Is?

CT Contributor Updated: 11 November, 2019, 2:18 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India have found an answer for a fast bowler in the absence of key assets in the side. When you look at India's scenario in T20Is, the preparations are already on in the build-up to the ICC World T20 to be held in Australia next year. And the 2-1 series over Bangladesh at home will give the side enough platform to look at things and analyze the same. The man of the show was Deepak Chahar, who claimed 6/7 to register the best-ever bowling figures in a T20I match. He achieved the feat during the series decider in Nagpur.

Interestingly, with dew favoring the batsmen, bowling was difficult. But credit to Chahar, who was consistent in both his spells. He got the early breakthroughs in the power play overs and then came back at the death to do the ultimate damage. It isn't just about one match though that makes him stand out or be considered as a silent assassin. When you look at his trajectory, Chahar has grabbed the chances and made his presence felt. In seven T20Is, he has picked up 14 wickets at an economy-rate of 5.75.

Chahar knows what he is doing and is in sync with himself. A lot of the help has come from plying his trade in the Indian Premier League for Chennai Super Kings. He has gone on to become a strike bowler at the top for CSK skipper MS Dhoni and the performances have been telling. IPL 2019 was excellent for Chahar, who went on to claim 22 scalps in 17 matches. The year before that, he had amassed 10 wickets. Dhoni is the main reason behind Chahar’s success. His knowledge is unmatched and IPL has been his forte.

To transfer that positive energy for someone like Chahar into T20Is is something remarkable. He has an excellent range of skills and is someone who derives from the surface rather than trying too hard. He is a thinking bowler and smart to handle the big stage. Now when India are without Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in T20Is, Chahar has become the leader. When the two return and lead the attack for the T20 World Cup next year, Chahar will give them immense support and form a deadly trio. Till then we hope he picks up the ante and continues to deliver.

News Cricket

Ahmed Shehzad rejects comparison with Umar Akmal

Staff Writer Updated: 11 November, 2019, 1:55 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Ahmed Shehzad was given another opportunity to cement his place in the national side, but his display in the T20Is against Sri Lanka failed to convince selectors. The right hand batsman managed just 17 runs and was axed for the third match. He has opened up about his failures and urged his critics to be kind towards him. Ahmed also feels that it is not right to compare him Umar Akmal.

“I cannot give excuses. I cannot say that I only got two matches and someone else got five of 10. I will try to do more next time whenever I get the chance,” Shehzad was quoted saying by GeoTV.

“I got two chances. I think one should be prepared enough to avail whatever chances that come their way, be it one or two,” he said.

“I believe that the amount of hard work I put in in the last two years, I had never done it in my entire life. It was unfortunate. I tried but it did not happen. Fair enough. Maybe God wants some more hard work from me,” added Shehzad.

He was particularly miffed with his comparison to Umar Akmal.

“He has his own life, I have mine. I request that we are not get lumped together as a duo. I should be judged on what I do and he on his conduct. It would also be unfair on him if I were to make a mistake but the blame was to fall on him,” he said.

News Cricket

Dejected fans plead Dhoni to end his sabbatical after Pant’s flurry of errors against Bangladesh

Tarun Singh Updated: 11 November, 2019, 1:53 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

It has been four months since cricket-fanatic Indians are missing MS Dhoni’s helicopter-shots and his impeccable wicket-keeping. The reasons are not identified yet, but Dhoni himself has opted to remain out of cricket since Team India’s exit from World cup in England.

#DhoniWeMissYouOnField is the hottest trending hashtag on Twitter even after India clinched the T20I series 2-1 against Bangladesh yesterday.

Dhoni fans on social media felt that there is no replacement possible of MS Dhoni after young Rishabh Pant’s poor show behind the stumps and with his willow in the T20I series against Bangladesh.

Asked to bat first, India posted competitive 174/5 on the board, with the help of KL Rahul (52) and Shreyas Iyer (62) for the visitors Bangladesh.

But the young-gun Rishabh Pant again got out cheaply at 6 runs leading MS Dhoni’s fans on Twitter to ridicule the Delhi lad and miss MS Dhoni even more.

Even after India won comfortably against Bangladesh by 30 runs, Twitter was flooded with sentiments of die-hard fans of MS Dhoni, who missed the star-cricketer badly on the field.

MS Dhoni has not uttered a single word about his future in Indian cricket or retirement, but fans continue to flood their love on Dhoni through social media platforms and want him on the field again.

Feature Cricket

Rohit Sharma: From Maggiman to India’s biggest match-winner in T20Is

CT Contributor Updated: 11 November, 2019, 11:12 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

On November 7, Rohit Sharma became the second male player in the world to reach the milestone of featuring in 100 T20Is. Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik is the only other cricketer to have played 100 matches in the shortest format (111).

Notably, Rohit registered the mark against Bangladesh in the 2nd T20I in Rajkot. He also crossed Shahid Afridi (99) to become the 2nd-most capped male cricketer in the world. Earlier, during the 1st T20I in Delhi, Rohit had become the most-capped Indian men’s player in T20Is, surpassing the legendary MS Dhoni (98).

Rohit cracked it up against Bangladesh in Rajkot. He went on to smash a 43-ball 85. His innings however had thrown the visitors off track as India completed an eight-wicket hammering to level the three-match series with more than four overs to spare. The Hitman brought up his 18th half-century off only 23 deliveries, ending up hitting six sixes and as many fours.

Here we look at the best moments of his career.

Scoring a century in T20 cricket is a massive achievement. However, getting multiple ones in the international scenario is something extraordinary. Rohit is the only player to have hit four T20I hundreds; Australia’s Glenn Maxwell and New Zealand’s Colin Munro having hit three each.

Rohit is an opener and his partner at the top – Dhawan – has been a rock in terms of support and understanding. The two senior men have gone about their business in a strong mode for a while now. The two players have amassed 1,740 partnership runs at an average of 34.11. That’s the most by any pair in the format. What is fascinating is that they have four century-plus stands and 7 fifties.

He has hit 115 sixes in T20Is, the most by any player in the format. No wonder he has been given the title of the Hitman. The senior opener has also hit 225 fours too, the second most behind Virat Kohli’s 235; thus, he leads the overall boundary count with 340.

Rohit is the joint record-holder for most 50-plus scores in the format. Rohit is leading the way with 2,537 runs from 92 innings. In 17 matches as a leader for Team India, Rohit has led the side to 13 wins and four losses. He has a winning percentage of 76.47. The most highlighted achievement of Rohit as Team India’s captain was the 2018 Nidahas Trophy tri-series victory.

Feature Cricket

Why Australia can finally end their T20 World Cup drought

Harshit Anand Updated: 11 November, 2019, 11:08 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Australia continued its red-hot streak in T20 internationals as it trumped world's no.1 ranked T20I side, Pakistan by 2-0. If it was not for the rain gods saving Pakistan in Sydney, Australia would have whitewashed the Men in Green that too without breaking a sweat.

Australians finished the year unbeaten in the shortest format of the game. Aaron Finch's men are now unbeaten in eight straight T20 internationals. They have won seven out of eight games, which makes up for a brilliant year for the otherwise underperformers in T20I cricket.

Notably, it's their best winning streak since 2010 and they are now just one point behind Pakistan in the ICC Men's T20I rankings. Most importantly, the Kangaroos stamped their authority with some powerful displays, which bodes well for their chances in T20 World Cup, which would take place next year in Australia.

T20 World Cup win has eluded Australia. The same Australia, which have the distinction of winning five 50-overs World Cup and two ICC Champions Trophy titles, which is no mean feat. There have been phases when Australia have been dominating in Test cricket as well. But when it comes to T20Is, despite having some impactful players in the ranks, they have tanked in the T20 World Cups. To put things into perspective, Australia have made six unsuccessful attempts at winning the T20 World Cup.

But the present team under the leadership of Aaron Finch and coaching of Justin Langer, who led Perth Scorchers to three KFC Big Bash League titles before turning national coach, the team is looking bull-headed in terms of confidence and planning, and their performances this year is a testimony of what can unfold next year in the ICC's showpiece event.

In all likelihood, Australia will be sticking to five specialist bowlers and six batsmen policy, which reaped fruits for them this summer. The biggest advantage for them will be the fact that they would be hosting the T20 extravaganza- first ever T20 World Cup in Australia.

There is hardly any doubt about the world-class pace battery of the Kangaroos. They are fast and fearsome. Mitchell Starc has the ability to swing the new ball and we saw how his in-swingers troubled Pakistan batsmen big time in the Perth T20I. Pat Cummins has also been very impressive. He has been the leading wicket-taker for his team, having taken nine wickets in seven T20Is, with an economy of 6.61. The combination of Cummins and Starc is as good as you would see.

And then there are a plethora of options for Australia to pick the third pacer. Kane Richardson has done a very good job as the third pacer but there are still options like Billy Stanlake, Sean Abbott and Andrew Tye for them. Pacers like Jhye Richardson and Nathan Coulter-Nile are also likely to come in contention as we approach the T20 World Cup.

Australia's newly found spin combination of Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar also showed that they can both play together in the XI. The pair of Agar and Zampa provides Australia with a variety of a finger and wrist spinner in the XI, which makes their bowling attack complete.

Australia also have the dangerous pair of David Warner and Aaron Finch at the top, which can destroy any bowling attack on their day, like we witnessed in the Pakistan T20Is. They will be absolute buoyant to perform in front of their people and at their home turf in 2020 T20 World Cup.

There was this wave about Steven Smith's incompetence in the shortest format, with some even questioning his place in the XI. But, he silenced his critics with a smashing 80 runs off 51 deliveries, the only time he got to bat against Pakistan at Canberra.

Australia's bowling and top three are sorted but there are certain doubts about the capability or lack of it in the middle-order. Alex Carey is a great option as a finisher. But Glenn Maxwell's absence can hurt Australia if it stretches beyond a point. But there are some promising options for the Men in Yellow and the upcoming Big Bash League will also help them find suitable candidates for the middle-order positions.

But all in all, Australia are looking strong contenders and there are high chances that playing at home will give them a distinct advantage in the World Cup. There shouldn't be much surprise, if the pair of Finch and Langer, helps Australia win their maiden T20 World Cup, that too at their place and in front of their people.

Feature Cricket

Yuzvendra Chahal emerges as match winner in limited overs cricket

Partab Ramchand Updated: 11 November, 2019, 10:59 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

They have struck up such an admirable partnership that they are familiarly known simply as ``Kulcha’’. Even as Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin continue to be the best bets in Test matches when it comes to limited overs cricket it is the combo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal that is playing a leading role in India’s successful run. The left arm chinaman bowler and the orthodox leg spinner make for an unlikely combination but they have been among the wickets regularly.

While Kuldeep has worked his way up to the Test squad and has fared reasonably well in his limited opportunities – 24 wickets from six matches at 24 apiece – Chahal’s appearances have been restricted to limited overs cricket where he has emerged not just as leading wicket taker but also as match winner. One always felt how he would fare without Kuldeep at the other end and in the just concluded T-20 series against Bangladesh he has emerged with his reputation enhanced. While the bowling did not exactly cover itself with glory Chahal was the stand-out performer and his assorted bag of tricks had the Bangladesh batsmen guessing and groping.

Chahal is able to run through the entire gamut of leg spin bowling. He is a big spinner of the ball even in a format that encourages accuracy more than a lot of turn. But the prodigious spin is not at the cost of accuracy. He always makes the batsman play, though more often they play and miss as a sizzling leg break goes past their hesitant defence. The googly is used sparingly but it remains one of the most difficult exercises for a batsman to spot it. And then there is always one that fizzes through and goes straight on to trap the surprised batsman leg before.

Moreover Chahal is a thinking bowler able to spot a batsman’s weakness and then exploit it. One just cannot take liberties with Chahal as both Mushfiqur Rahim and Soumya Sarkar discovered during the second T-20 international at Rajkot. Bangladesh were going great guns at 97 for two after 12 overs when in the space of a single over Chahal turned the match around with the wickets of both the experienced batsmen in one over. Bangladesh never recovered from this double strike and a result was an emphatic eight-wicket win for India.

In the three years that he has played for India Chahal has run up pretty impressive figures – 85 wickets from 50 ODIs at 26 apiece with two five-wicket hauls and 50 from 34 T-20 internationals at an average of 21. Before Deepak Chahar came up with his mesmeric spell of six for seven on Sunday, Chahal’s six for 25 against England at Bangalore in 2016-17 was the best figures in T-20 internationals by an Indian. He is the third highest wicket taker for India in this format after Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah. Whether he can graduate like his partner to the Test level remains to be seen but in the meantime he remains a vital cog in the limited overs game.

News Tennis

Thiem beats Federer at ATP Finals, Djokovic cruises

AP Updated: 11 November, 2019, 10:50 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Dominic Thiem keeps getting the better of Roger Federer.

Thiem beat Federer 7-5, 7-5 in their opening match at the ATP Finals for his fifth win in seven meetings with the Swiss great — and third straight this year.

"To beat him, everything has to fit together. Today I think (that) was the case again," Thiem said. "Every time, only playing against him is a big honor. Beating him is even better."

Thiem broke in the opening game of the match and again for a 6-5 lead in the first set after Federer had leveled at 2-2.

The second set went with serve until Thiem broke at love for another 6-5 lead. Federer, a record six-time champion at the ATP Finals, then missed two break points in the next game before netting a backhand return on Thiem's second match point.

Thiem also beat Federer at the Madrid Masters and in the Indian Wells final this year, but lost to him in the group stage at last year's ATP Finals.

For Federer, the loss means there's no room for another slip-up in his next two round-robin matches, against Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini. He'll probably have to win both in order to reach the semifinals.

"It's a normal tournament from here on forward," Federer said. "Not allowed to lose anymore for me. That's how it is every week of the year for the last 20 years, so from that standpoint there is nothing new there."

Djokovic had a much easier start to the tournament, easing past Berrettini 6-2, 6-1 in their first round-robin match.

But despite a near flawless performance, Djokovic still found a way to berate himself.

Leading 4-0 in the second set against the Italian, Djokovic hit a backhand wide to concede a break to the Italian, and then angrily turned toward his player's box and shouted out his frustration.

It was a clear sign that even at the end of another grueling season, Djokovic won't tolerate any dips in his game as he pursues a record-equaling sixth ATP Finals title.

"There's no other reasonable explanation (to that reaction) than trying to play as perfect as possible," Djokovic said. "But I guess that's me, you know."

It was certainly the same Djokovic that the O2 Arena crowd has become used to seeing. Although the second-ranked Serb - who won four straight titles at the year-end event in London between 2012 and 2015 - only needed to hit a total of 10 winners in the match as Berrettini's 28 unforced errors handed him an easy victory to start round-robin play.

Berrettini's forehand was responsible for 18 of those errors, including two shots into the net to hand Djokovic the only two breaks of the first set.

After giving up that lone break to make it 4-1 in the second, Djokovic broke right back and then clinched the victory with an easy forehand putaway at the net.

"He missed a relatively easy forehand for him that gave me a break (in the first set)," Djokovic said. "And after that I started reading his serve better."

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'That's crazy': Klopp's Liverpool surges ahead in title bid

AP Updated: 11 November, 2019, 10:46 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Even Jürgen Klopp cannot quite believe Liverpool's lead over Manchester City this early in the season.

"That's crazy, nine points," the Liverpool manager said. "You cannot imagine that something like this can happen."

It's very real after Liverpool beat City 3-1 thanks to goals from Fabinho, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane at Anfield.

"Other people 100% said already that from now on Liverpool can only lose it," Klopp said. "Well that's a very negative approach, but you can see it like this. We don't care."

Only 12 games have been played, with another 26 to go in the pursuit of a first title since 1990 for the 18-time English champions.

Klopp is not getting carried away despite Liverpool's top spot.

"But it's not important because who wants to be first in early November?" Klopp said. "You want to be first in May."

For the past two seasons that final position has been held by City. Now the two-time defending champions head into the international break down in fourth place.

The side immediately above them is not so unexpected, even if Chelsea's ability to reinforce the squad was hampered by a transfer ban. But it's the presence of Leicester in second place, reviving memories of its incredible 5,000-1 shot title win in 2016, that is shaking up the league.

It leaves the record 20-time champions far from sight of the Champions League places, even after Manchester United beat Brighton 3-1 on Sunday.

United is nine points adrift of neighbor City in seventh place. Wolverhampton is only behind United on goal difference after beating Aston Villa 2-1 in a central England derby on Sunday.