Hazard, Griezmann, Felix struggle for impact at new clubs

AP Updated: 5 November, 2019, 10:21 AM IST


After more than two months of the season, the three marquee signings of the summer in Spain are not having inspired starts for their new clubs.

Eden Hazard has scored once for Real Madrid since transferring from Chelsea for a club-record 100 million euros (around $111 million) plus add-ons. Antoine Griezmann is doing more as a hustling defender than a goal-scorer for Barcelona. And Atlético Madrid's teenage phenomenon João Félix has been hobbled by injury after a promising beginning.

Hazard was billed as Madrid's next superstar when brought in to fill the void still left by Cristiano Ronaldo. So far Karim Benzema is leading the team with seven goals while Hazard searches for that superb pace and creativity that made him one of the English Premier League's best players.

Félix scored three goals and showed flashes of his talent amid mixed performances before he injured his right ankle, ruling him out of Atlético's last four matches.

Griezmann, a World Cup winner with France, has scored four times as a third scoring option to Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez at Barcelona, but he has only looked like the force he was at Atlético in wins against Real Betis and Eibar. On Saturday, when Barcelona was upset 3-1 at Levante, Griezmann was extremely active in pressuring and helping defenders recover the ball, but provided little else.

And Barcelona did not pay 120 million euros for a hard worker.

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News Cricket

Fans troll R Ashwin after he tweets 'Where can I read up on what the citizenship amendment bill is?

Staff Writer Updated: 10 December, 2019, 8:48 PM IST


The controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill is facing huge backlash across India for excluding Muslims. The bill is aimed at providing citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The cut-off date for citizenship is December 31, 2014, which means the applicant should have entered India on or before that date. It was passed in Lok Sabha on Monday.

R Ashwin, who is quite active on social media, took to twitter to know about the bill. "Where can I read up on what the citizenship amendment bill is?? #CitizenshipBill," he wrote.

However, fans were not convinced with his question considering he is more often updated about the current happenings in India.

The Indian off-spinner is currently playing for Tamil Nadu in the ongoing Ranji Trophy. He will next play for India in the Test series against New Zealand in 2020.

News Cricket

Prithvi Shaw set to be named as the third opener for the upcoming New Zealand tour

Staff Writer Updated: 10 December, 2019, 5:51 PM IST


India have done well in Test cricket in the last few years and are currently leading the points table in the ongoing World Test Championship. The number one ranked team will play its next Test series against New Zealand in 2020. Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal have done well as openers in Whites. The two were in exceptional form against South Africa and West Indies. They are expected to lead the batting charts in New Zealand as well. However, according to reports, Prithvi Shaw is expected to travel with India as the third opener.

The young Indian batsman had a tremendous start to his Test career against West Indies last year when he scored a well compiled hundred in his debut Test. He had travelled to Australia for the Test series but was ruled out after suffering injury. If this setback was not enough, he was suspended due to failing a dug test. Since then Manyank and Rohit have cemented their places. Shaw has made a good comeback after completing his ban period.

“The selection committee is of the view that it’s better that Test specialists travel early to get used to conditions. It will help them get enough practice,” BCCI source was quoted as saying by Indian Express.

News Cricket

Pakistan will no longer play international cricket at neutral venues - Ehsan Mani

AP Updated: 10 December, 2019, 5:49 PM IST


Pakistan will no longer look for neutral venues to stage home international cricket matches.

“The onus will be on the other teams to tell us why they can’t play in Pakistan,” Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

“Our default position will remain that Pakistan is safe. We play cricket in Pakistan (and if) you want to play against Pakistan you have to come to Pakistan.”

Pakistan’s decade-long isolation from hosting test cricket ends on Wednesday when Sri Lanka will play at Pindi Cricket Stadium. The second test will be in Karachi from Dec. 19-23. The series is part of the world test championship.

Sri Lanka was the last team to play a test in Pakistan in 2009. Terrorists attacked the team’s bus in Lahore and eight people were killed. Several Sri Lanka players and team officials were injured. The ambush shut the door on international cricket in Pakistan. The PCB organized almost all of its home matches in the United Arab Emirates.

In the last four years, the PCB staged short limited-overs tours against the likes of Zimbabwe, the West Indies, Sri Lanka and a World XI to show the cricket world it could host tours safely. Sri Lanka agreed to play two test matches in Pakistan only after it visited Karachi and Lahore three months ago and played an incident-free series of one-day internationals and Twenty20s.

“It’s only logical that cricket comes home," Mani said. "People have a perception of Pakistan which is very, very different to the reality of what is happening on the ground in Pakistan today.

“The concerns that people had about Pakistan, certainly for the last year or two, were not what the ground reality is.”

Top cricketing officials from Australia, England, Ireland, and the international players’ association have visited Pakistan in the last six months.

“When they see the ground reality, it’s a different attitude,” Mani said. “In fact, it was very nicely put by the chief executive of Cricket Ireland.

He said, “I have to think of a reason why we shouldn’t be coming to Pakistan.’”

Mani said he's had discussions with officials from Cricket Australia and England and Wales Cricket Board and he hoped that both countries will tour Pakistan in the next three years.

“I am absolutely confident that in 2021 we’ll have England and in 2022 we’ll have Australia,” he said.

“We’re not due to play New Zealand now till about 2023-24, but our default position is that Pakistan will play all its home matches in Pakistan.”

Despite the impending return of test cricket, Mani conceded there might not be a capacity crowd for the test, in stark contrast to the packed stadiums in Lahore in October when Sri Lanka whitewashed Pakistan 3-0 in the T20 series.

“Look, test cricket had been losing (crowd) support in the subcontinent, in fact around the world apart from England and Australia,” he said.

“People prefer to go and watch the white-ball cricket (T20s and ODIs) but it doesn’t mean that people don’t follow test cricket. You’ll probably find that people watch test cricket at home on television and through the telephone or whatever these days as much as they’ve ever done.

“We haven’t had much time to do the marketing for this (Rawalpindi test) but going forward we’re going to be working very hard to ensure that we can get young people in with the schools and college students, support them to come at little or no cost, give them exposure to cricket.”

Feature Cricket

Different Stats for Day Tests and Day and Night Tests

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 10 December, 2019, 5:47 PM IST


Amongst the many worthy points of debate raised in the course of India’s first taste of day and night Test is the argument that the statistics for the traditional Tests should be made separate from the day and night five day encounters. Here is why it might be something the cricket committees around the world might want to consider.

Not so long ago, there was the idea of playing the strongest team against a collusion of players from other cricket playing nations under the banner of World XI. While those exhibition matches were a one off entertainment that did not really spark off a tradition, there was a similar argument with players from that contests often bearing an asterix next to their statistics for the inclusion of runs and wickets from those matches.

A confusing anomaly, it did not seem that it was fair for players and fans to have to differentiate for themselves this aberration in the otherwise accurate empirical evidence and analysis.

Now with India having thrown itself into the deep end to risk being asked henceforth to now participate full fledged around the world in day and night Test cricket, the need to distinguish the numbers for traditional Test cricket vis-à-vis day and night Test cricket has been put forth by a few aficionados as well as former cricketers including Sunil Gavaskar.

While it may still be a fair distance away to have day and night Test cricket become mainstream, until then, the day and night cricket format will be considered a novelty, a deviation from the norm. Until it is implemented on a more universal scale, day and night Test should and will remain a deviate part of the team’s itinerary. Given how teams have not all adopted or taken to the format willingly or equally, the need to maintain separate records is a petition that gathers momentum.

Besides, it should not be too much of a problem given that players do carry varying statistics and there has been a case made for a time that a similar two part statistical evidence should be presented for the fifty overs format which is, also, played in two versions: day and day and night.

The only question next is: as the statistics gather a body of work and weight behind them, will they then bring about a case of picking players for different teams: one for the traditional five day game and one for the day and night Test cricket format? It is not entirely unthinkable although this is still a futuristic proposition not feasible or contemplated in the immediate interim.

News Cricket

‘Zeher Bhai Zeher’ - Rohit Sharma trolls Kedar Jadhav’s ethnic look on Instagram

Garima Kotroo Updated: 10 December, 2019, 5:46 PM IST


It has been often seen in the Indian cricket fraternity that players pull each others leg on social media platforms and the same thing happened when Indian opener Rohit Sharma posted a hilarious comment on his teammate’s picture on Instagram.

The 34-year-old Kedar Jadhav recently took to his official Instagram handle to post an alluring picture in the ethnic look. While the other cricket fans liked his new ethnic look, Hitman pulled his leg by commenting, 'Zeher bhai zeher’ .

This was not the first time when Sharma mocked the all-rounder Jadhav on social media as few days back he took a dig at the right-hander by saying "Pose kam maar, batting karle thoda”. This happened when Jadhav uploaded his picture on Instagram with a caption “Feels good to be back on the field and do what I like to do”.

Apart from Rohit Sharma, Indian spinner Yuzvendra Chahal also tried to troll the ethnic look of Kedar Jadhav as he commented “katti zehar bhaiya". Notably, both Sharma and Jadhav will play together in the upcoming three-match ODI series against West Indies starting from December 15.

News Cricket

Star all-rounder Hardik Pandya reveals his return date, says will comeback stronger

Garima Kotroo Updated: 10 December, 2019, 3:55 PM IST


Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya has revealed his comeback date after a long-break from cricket. The 25-year-old is looking forward to play against New Zealand in January 2020.

“We thought this was the right time because even if I take four months, I will be coming back before the New Zealand series, mid-way actually. That was the plan that I play some international games, the IPL and then the World T20”.

Pandya, who is still in a rehabilitation phase, suffered a severe lower back pain during the final T20I encounter against South Africa.

The right-hander had tried to avoid back surgery for a long time but when he failed to recover, Pandya was left with no other option but to go under the knife.

“I noticed that I was not able to give my 100 per cent and that meant I was not doing justice to myself and the team. That is when I decided to go for the surgery,” said Pandya.

However, it is not that easy for a sportsperson to take such a brave step but Hardik decided to go for the surgery and make a strong comeback.

News Cricket

Shahid Afridi thanks Sri Lanka for bringing Test cricket back to Pakistan

Garima Kotroo Updated: 10 December, 2019, 3:54 PM IST


Red-ball cricket is back on Pakistan’s soil after a decade. The Green Army will play their first-ever two-match Test series against Sri Lanka at home since 2009.

Ever since the Sri Lanka cricket team bus was attacked by a group of terrorists in Lahore during their tour of Pakistan in 2009, all the cricket teams refused to play in the country due to security concerns.

Now it seems like the conditions have started improving for Pakistan as the Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLC) has given its nod to Pakistan for the two-match series in the terror-hit country.

While welcoming the visitors on Pakistani soil, Afridi said, "I would like to thank the Sri Lanka cricket board for sending their team for the Test series, and I also want to thank the PCB for their efforts in ensuring the series takes place in Pakistan.”

Apart from Afridi, former Pakistani skipper Shoaib Malik also expressed his gratitude towards the the Sri Lankan Board for taking this step and playing an instrumental role in bringing Test cricket back to Pakistan.

He even got emotional while appreciating the crucial efforts of the visitors.

Both Sri Lanka and Pakistan will play their first Test encounter of the two-match series at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli’s birthday wish for MS Dhoni was the most re-tweeted tweet in 2019

Staff Writer Updated: 10 December, 2019, 3:29 PM IST


Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni are the two most successful Indian cricketers. While the former India skipper led Team India to two World Cup titles, Virat Kohli has also achieved remarkable success as India's captain across formats. Virat Kohli's heartfelt birthday wish for MS Dhoni was the "most Retweeted sports-related Tweet" in the year 2019. On July 7, Virat Kohli had posted a picture with Dhoni and wrote: "Happy birthday mahi bhai @msdhoni. Very few people understand the meaning of trust and respect and I'm glad to have had the friendship I have with you for so many years. You've been a big brother to all of us and as I said before, you will always be my captain."

The tweet has garnered over 45K 'Retweets' and close 420K 'Likes' on Twitter.

Virat is currently leading India in the ongoing three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series against the West Indies. He scored a well compiled 94 off 50 balls at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on December 6.

His innings played a crucial role in India's over over West Indies. The home contingent won the game by 6 wickets in the end.

News Cricket

MS Dhoni will never impose himself on Team India - Ravi Shastri

Tarun Singh Updated: 10 December, 2019, 2:52 PM IST


MS Dhoni has opted to remain out of cricket since Team India’s exit from World Cup in England. Since then, the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman, has chose to remain ‘cool as usual’ and silent on the rumors of his retirement from cricket.

In an interview, India head coach Ravi Shastri has said that MS Dhoni would never try to impose himself on the Indian cricket team.

However, Shastri added that the 38-year-old will decide about his comeback in international cricket after reviewing his own performance in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) edition.

Ravi Shastri heaped praises on MS and said, "That guy is a legend. The last thing he will want is to impose himself on an Indian team, having known him. He is wanting to take a break but he is going to play the IPL. The amount of sport he has played... if he puts himself in contention... if he feels after the IPL that 'I am good enough to play for India', don't mess around with that."

During his sabbatical from international cricket, Dhoni trained with the Territorial Army in Jammu and Kashmir for two weeks as he also holds the post of Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army.

Meanwhile, veteran cricketer Dhoni has missed India’s home series against South Africa, Bangladesh and ongoing home series against West Indies after the World Cup.

Between all speculations, it seems that MS Dhoni will have to shine in the yellow jersey of Chennai Super Kings to become a member of ‘Men in Blue’ again.

A source close to MS Dhoni also had stated that Dhoni will decide his future in international cricket after the Indian Premier League (IPL) next year.

News Cricket

Rohit Sharma and Prithvi Shaw can surpass my record of 400 runs in Test cricket - Brian Lara

Staff Writer Updated: 10 December, 2019, 2:30 PM IST


Brian Lara, former West Indies skipper, still holds record for the highest individual score in Whites. The left handed batsman had scored 400 not out against England in 2004. David Warner, the Aussie star opener, recently came close to breaking Lara's record but Tim Paine's declaration stop Australia's free flowing batsman. With Warner being left stranded at 335 not out, the record of the Windies legend was left untouched. When he was asked about the players who can surpass his landmark score, he revealed two names.

Lara told News Corp, "A guy like Rohit Sharma who you know you wonder if he’s still a Test cricketer or not. If he gets going on a good day, on his day, on a good pitch, right situation he can do it. It will need an attacking option. I know he’s fell off the radar a little bit, Prithvi Shaw was one of those attacking options. Hey, here’s a 19-year-old who has the world in front of him, hopefully, he can come back soon."

News Cricket

Yuzvendra Chahal mimics best friend Rohit Sharma but the latter was not impressed 

Staff Writer Updated: 10 December, 2019, 1:44 PM IST


Yuzvendra Chahal and Rohit Sharma are close friends. They are often seen together on overseas tours and their chemistry is known among the cricket circles. Rohit and Chahal leave no chance to pull each others leg on social media. While Hitman has made fun of Chahal's social media posts on numerous occasions, Indian spinner has pulled Rohit's leg whenever he has posted a picture with his wife Ritika. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav recently participated in a rapid-fire questioning round with vice-captain Rohit Sharma.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) posted the video of the rapid fire round. "MUST WATCH: Rapidfire ft. Kuldeep, Chahal and the HITMAN. Many fun facts from the spin twins @yuzi_chahal & @imkuldeep18 on the questions curated by @ImRo45," read the caption.

They were asked to mimic one of their teammates and Chahal decided to mimicked Rohit but the latter was not impressed with his effort and said, "Bohot bekaar actor hai". However, Kuldeep opted for Mohammed Shami and did a pretty decent job.

News Cricket

Shivam Dube is the worst dancer in Indian team - KulCha

Staff Writer Updated: 10 December, 2019, 1:42 PM IST


According to Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, Shivam Dube is the worst dancer in the Indian team. They was revealed during their rapid fire round with Rohit Sharma. The video of their conversation was uploaded by the governing body of Indian cricket.

Excerpts from the rapid fire

Rohit: Best thing about Hyderabad?

Chahal: Veg-biryani.

Kuldeep: The Rajiv Gandhi International stadium because I made by T20I debut there.

Rohit: Who is the worst dancer in the team?

Chahal: Shivam Dube.

Kuldeep: Shivam Dube.

Rohit: Who has the worst hairstyle in the team?

Chahal: Mohammed Shami. Kuldeep: Bharat Arun.

Rohit: One batsman you wouldn't want to bowl to?

Chahal: You (Rohit Sharma)

Kuldeep: Suryakumar Yadav.

Team India is preparing hard for the final T20I match against the Windies. The series is currently tied at 1-1 after India won the first match while the visitors defeated Virat Kohli’s team in the second game.

The home team was unable to defend 170 in the last match and might make changes in the playing XI for the series decider in Mumbai.

Kuldeep Yadav, who hasn't played a single game so far, has a chance to replace either Washington Sundar or Ravindra Jadeja

Feature Cricket

Yearender 2019: Cricket Today's T20 XI of 2019

Renin Wilben Albert Updated: 10 December, 2019, 12:46 PM IST


The year 2019 is coming to an end. And, while all three formats have seen many memorable performances, T20Is have been significant for all teams as they build up to the World T20 to be held in Australia next year. Former champions India and current champions West Indies are presently battling it out in a three-match series, which is locked 1-1. As the teams build towards the 2020 World T20, we put together the World T20I XI of 2019.

Openers: David Warner, Babar Azam

David Warner has had an excellent year in T20Is. In six matches, he has 287 runs to his name at an exceptional average of 287, since he has been dismissed only once in the year. In the T20Is against Sri Lanka at home, he registered scores of 100 not out, 60 not out, and 57 not out. Warner has a strike rate of 145.68.

Pakistan’s Babar Azam, who has been in amazing form, will open with Warner. In 10 matches, he has amassed 374 runs at an average of 41.55, and a strike rate of 136.99. His best of 90 came off 58 balls against South Africa at Johannesburg in February.

Middle-order: Virat Kohli (Captain), Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan, Glenn Maxwell

Indian captain Virat Kohli will lead the World XI. Just like Tests and ODIs, he has been in great form in T20Is as well. In nine games, Kohli has 396 runs to his name at a strike rate of 138.46, and an average of 66. His best of 94 not out came against West Indies at Hyderabad in a chase of 208.

England batsman Dawid Malan has played only four games, but has smashed 208 runs at a strike rate of 163.77, and an average of 69.33. His most memorable performance was the unbeaten 103 from 51 balls against New Zealand at Napier in November.

English skipper Eoin Morgan also has had a good year. In nine matches, he has 268 runs to his name at a strike rate of 172.90, and an average of 44.66. He hit 91 from 41 balls at Napier against New Zealand.

Aussie Glenn Maxwell, before he took a break for mental health issues, had an amazing year. In four matches, he smashed 231 runs at a strike rate of 183.33 and an average of 115. His scores in the year read -- 56 from 43, 113 not out from 55, and 62 from 28.

Wicket-keeper: Quinton de Kock

South Africa’s T20I captain Quinton de Kock will keep wickets for the team. In three matches, he has 144 runs at a strike rate of 135.84, and an average of 72.00. His best of 79 not out from 52 balls came against India at Bengaluru in September as Proteas squared the series.

All-rounders: Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner

New Zealand all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme has had a consistent run with the bat. In matches, he scored 301 runs at a strike rate of 156.77 with three fifties. While de Grandhomme has starred with bat, Mitchell Santner has been impressive with the ball. In 12 matches, he has claimed 20 wickets at an average of 15.40, and strike rate of 12.6 with a best of 3 for 12.

Bowlers: Chris Jordan, Lasith Malinga

England pacer Chris Jordan has claimed 14 wickets in eight matches at an average of 12.85 and a strike rate of 10.2. His best of 4 for 6 came against West Indies at Basseterre. Veteran Lankan Lasith Malinga continues to impress at the T20 level. In 10 matches, he has 14 wickets with a best of 5 for 6. The sensational performance against New Zealand at Pallekele saw Malinga claiming four wickets in four balls.

12th man: Andile Phehlukwayo

With 13 wickets in seven matches at a strike rate of 12.0, South African pacer Andile Phehlukwayo can come in as replacement if needed.

News Cricket

MS Dhoni to produce TV series on bravery of Army officers

Tarun Singh Updated: 10 December, 2019, 12:38 PM IST


Ace cricketer MS Dhoni always finds a way to express his admiration for the Indian Armed Forces. MS Dhoni, who himself holds an honorary Lieutenant Colonel post in the Indian Army, is all set to produce a TV series on decorated army officers.

"The show will narrate stories of the brave Param Vir Chakra and Ashoka Chakra awardees. With compelling stories and intriguing content on board, the show is slated for a 2020 release," a source close to Dhoni quoted.

According to a report, the script-writing for the TV series has started and its objective is to bring the stories of the Indian army officers bravery to life. MS Dhoni is co-producing the project because he wanted to show the stories of officers and their hardships.

MS Dhoni, after India's semifinal exit from the ODI World Cup in England, took a sabbatical to serve his paramilitary regiment.

“During his sabbatical from sports, Dhoni spent a lot of time with army officers. He even went on to complete a two-week stint with India’s Territorial Army. That’s how he got to know more about the brave soldiers. He understood the soldiers and their families’ hardships. Wanting to bring their story to the fore, Dhoni decided to bankroll this project,” a source quoted.

‘Captain Cool’ MS Dhoni had produced and also featured in Hotstar Special’s Roar of the Lion, earlier this year.

Dhoni’s much-awaited comeback in International cricket has been a matter of intense debate on social media and in the cricket fraternity since his break from cricket.

In his last comment about his comeback, Dhoni had answered the question by saying, “January tak mat poocho (don’t ask me till January).”

News Cricket

MS Dhoni involved in strange luggage swap incident at the airport

Garima Kotroo Updated: 10 December, 2019, 11:58 AM IST


The former Indian skipper MS Dhoni has usually dominated the headlines for his exceptional innings but he was recently in the limelight for a strange luggage swap incident. Dhoni touched down at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport on Monday and after his arrival in the City of Joy, he witnessed that his luggage has been mistakenly swapped with another passenger.

The 38-year-old star cricketer was reportedly carrying someone else bag after deboarding the flight which was coming from New Delhi. When the concerned authorities came to know about this strange mishap, they immediately informed Dhoni at the Kolkata airport.

The airport officials cited that this unfortunate incident of luggage swapping was a rare case of mismanagement. In order to sort out the issue, they immediately informed the passenger who mistakenly took Dhoni’s goods and chattels from the airport and explained him about the whole incident.

The airport authorities will now collect the misplaced luggage from that passenger on Tuesday.

However, the airline from which Dhoni arrived in West Bengal, has denied that there was a lapse from their side. They claimed that Dhoni arrived at the Kolkata airport with someone else luggage as he accidentally swapped his bag.