I dedicate my hundred to the people who backed me during rough patch – Ajinkya Rahane

Staff Writer Updated: 26 August, 2019, 3:49 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Ajinkya Rahane would have been axed if he had failed to score runs in the first Test of the series against West Indies. The Indian vice-captain scored a magnificent ton in the second innings, which played an important role in Team India's victory.

Earlier, he scored 81 runs in the first innings. Rahane was adjudged Man of the Match for his twin knocks.

He dedicated his performance to all those who stood by him during the tough phase in the last two years.

"This hundred was special. My time with Hampshire really helped me. I dedicate this hundred to the people who backed me, supported me when I was going through a rough patch," Rahane said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

Rahane had gone 17 Tests without a century before the first Test match against West Indies.

"It feels special. Getting this hundred after 29 or 30 innings. I've been getting 70s, but getting a 100 means a lot to me," he added.

He turned his 81 in the first innings as crucial.

"The first innings was crucial after 20 for 3 (25 for 3). We needed a partnership, and the partnership between Rahul and me was crucial. I think first day the wicket was damp. West Indies bowled really well in that session. But it was important to play as many balls as possible without thinking about runs," said the 31-year-old vice-captain.

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News Cricket

Give girl child equal opportunities – Sachin Tendulkar

Garima Kotroo Updated: 24 January, 2020, 8:38 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian Cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar has urged people to provide equal opportunities for daughters of the country. Tendulkar put out this message on the occasion of National Girl Child Day. "Daughters are our pride and the light in our lives. Let's nurture them with love and equal opportunities to follow their dreams," Tendulkar said in a tweet.

India observes the National Girl Child Day on January 24. It is celebrated to raise awareness among people about inequalities, discrimination, and exploitation faced by girls in society.

Tendulkar and West Indies fast-bowling great Courtney Walsh have also been roped in by the Australian Cricket governing body to coach the Ponting XI and Warne XI in the Bushfire Cricket Bash set to be played on February 8.

News Cricket

We didn't want any excuse – Virat Kohli

Abhishek Singh Updated: 24 January, 2020, 8:36 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The Men in Blue kick-started the five-match T20I series against New Zealand on a winning note. Virat Kohli and his team outclassed the Kane Williamson’s troops by six wickets. The match-winning knock of Shreyas Iyer along with the brilliant half-century of KL Rahul helped the visitors to beat Kiwis at the Eden Park in Auckland. While Rahul scored 56 runs under his belt, Iyer slammed 58 runs off 29 deliveries against New Zealand.

Speaking after the game in the post-match presser, Kohli opened up about the tight schedule of Team India. He even lauded the crowd support during the game.

"We enjoyed this. Landing two days before and playing a game like this, it was fantastic. Felt like 80% support was for us and the crowd was right behind us. You need that sort of push chasing 200+. We never spoke of the jetlag in the team. We didn't want any excuse.”

"We just focused on what we needed to do to win. We were looking forward to playing. We have done well in T20Is in the last one year. You can't be harsh on anyone on this sort of a pitch. I thought 230 was on at one point, but we pulled it back nicely."

News Cricket

Virat Kohli thanks fans for painting Auckland blue in the first T20I against New Zealand

Abhishek Singh Updated: 24 January, 2020, 5:43 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian skipper Virat Kohli thanked the Auckland crowd for their tremendous support in the first match of the 5- match T20I series against New Zealand. Virat was impressed by the crowd support that India got and said that it worked as a boost for them while chasing such a huge total.

“I felt like 80% support was for us and the crowd was right behind us. You need that sort of push chasing 200 plus runs,” the Indian captain said in the post-match presentation ceremony.

This was the Indian cricket team’s inaugural match of the 45 days long New Zealand tour, which includes five T20Is, three ODIs, and two Tests. The Men in Blue won the first match of the five-match T20I series quite convincingly. India chased down the target of 204 with six balls remaining and six wickets in hand.

Shreyas Iyer, who played an impressive inning of 51 not out and saw the team home, was rightfully adjudged as Man of the Match. The second match of this series will be played on Sunday at the same venue.

News Cricket

Sourav Ganguly reveals who are the Tendulkar, Dravid and Kumble of his BCCI team

Garima Kotroo Updated: 24 January, 2020, 5:35 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

One of the most successful captains of the Indian cricket team, Sourav Ganguly has successfully completed three months as the President of BCCI. After taking over as the chief of apex governing body of cricket in India, Ganguly decided to organize the first-ever Day-Night Test in the country and his plan was executed very well as India won the Test by an innings and 46 runs against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

During the celebration of his three-month tenure, Ganguly was asked about Tendulkar, Dravid, and Kumble of his BCCI team and the veteran came up with a smart reply.

He said, “Sare hai (Everyone is there), Jay (Shah) is there, Arun (Dhumal) is there, we all work together. It’s very difficult to say who is Tendulkar, Dravid or Kumble. We are very good friends and we all come from different backgrounds. Arun runs a school, Jay has his own business and I have a cricket background. All of us think along the same line. And our main aim is to bring back cricket administration which was not in good shape for the last 3 years.”

When Ganguly was asked to rate his tenure in BCCI so far, he added, “It’s very difficult to give marks like this. As I said, it is important to run cricket well, it the right manner.”

News Cricket

World Record Alert: India and New Zealand march into the record books

Abhishek Singh Updated: 24 January, 2020, 5:33 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India’s tour of New Zealand has started with a bang. The team won the first T20I to go 1-0 up in the five-match series. Alongside this, it was also the fourth occasion where India chased down more than 200 runs in T20Is, which is the most by any team in international cricket.

A unique record was achieved during the first game. A total of five players amassed a fifty-plus score in the match. This is the first instance that such a feat was achieved in a T20I match. Three players from New Zealand and two from India were part of the landmark.

Colin Munro (59), Kane Williamson (51) and veteran Ross Taylor (54 not out) played handy knocks for New Zealand. Opener KL Rahul (56 runs) and Shreyas Iyer (51 not out) accumulated important runs for India.

News Cricket

Suresh Raina hopeful of representing India in T20 World Cup

Staff Writer Updated: 24 January, 2020, 4:55 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Suresh Raina is one of the best Indian players in shorter formats. The left-handed batsman is hopeful of representing India in the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia. He had knee surgery in August and is making good progress day-by-day.

In an interview with the Times of India, Raina spoke about his fitness. He admitted that IPL will provide him another opportunity to revive his international career.

“It is too early right now”, Rain said when asked about his hopes for this year's T20 World Cup. “I have always enjoyed my cricket, irrespective of where I play. I have not set any targets right now. If I am able to do well in the IPL, I will be able to understand how I am shaping up. I have played enough to know what the situation demands. So my T20 World Cup hopes to depend on my performance in the IPL. If I can make my knee strong and have a good IPL, then I know that I have another 2-3 years of cricket left in me. There are two back-to-back T20 World Cups. I have done well in T20 cricket.”

He is hopeful of scoring runs for the Chennai Super Kings in the upcoming season of the cash-rich league.

“But if I want to play, I need to perform. The IPL is the best platform to get into the team especially when you are talking about the T20 World Cup. Everyone knows what sort of a player I am.”

News Cricket

ICC Test Rankings: Virat Kohli remains on top, Ajinkya Rahane reaches 8th spot

Staff Writer Updated: 24 January, 2020, 4:53 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India skipper Virat Kohli maintained his top spot in the ICC Test Rankings for batsmen. While Cheteshwar Pujara has managed to retain his sixth position, Ajinkya Rahane has moved to the eighth spot.

Virat has 928 points, 17 more than second-placed Australian run-machine Steve Smith.

Jasprit Bumrah is the top-ranked India bowler in sixth place. He has 794 points. While R Ashwin, the off-spinner, was placed at eighth, Mohammed Shami completed the top-10 of the bowlers.

Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews is back among the top 20 batsmen after his sublime hundred in the first Test match against Zimbabwe.

Ben Stokes has equaled his career-best second ranking among all-rounders after his knock of 120 in the third Test match against South Africa.

He has moved back to the spot in the all-rounders' rankings.

News Cricket

‘Career sankat mein hain’: Fans troll Rishabh Pant after KL Rahul performance in the first T20I

Garima Kotroo Updated: 24 January, 2020, 4:52 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Ever since the talented batsman KL Rahul chipped in as a wicket-keeper in the three-match ODI series against Australia, fans are making fun of Rishabh Pant. He was trolled again after KL Rahul managed to chip in with a match-winning performance in the first T20I against New Zealand.

The right-handed batsman scored a fluent fifty in the first outing in New Zealand. He played big shots during the course of his innings. Earlier, when Rahul was preferred over Pant before the start of the first match between India and New Zealand, the latter was mocked by the Indian cricket fans for his ouster from the playing XI in the shortest format of the game.

Despite receiving many big opportunities across all the formats, Pant failed to meet the expectations of selectors and his teammates. As a result, Rahul was given the responsibility to perform behind the stumps and he made the most of it.

Even Virat Kohli has lauded the efforts of KL Rahul during the series. He recited the fact that Rahul’s recent performances have opened a new scenario for Team India.

“Him doing really well with the gloves has really opened up another kind of scenario for us where it gives us a lot more balance in terms of playing an extra batter. If he can keep that well, and perform well with the bat, then why not? As I said, this is something that we are looking to continue for a while. And nothing taken away from anyone else, it’s just what brings the best balance to the side.”

Here’s see how Twitter reacts after KL Rahul replaced Rishabh Pant as a wicket-keeper:

News Cricket

When I was playing cricket, India was seven times our size but we quashed them – Imran Khan

Abhishek Singh Updated: 24 January, 2020, 4:51 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is in Davos, to attend the World Economic Forum, said Pakistan’s human resource potential can be gauged from the fact that they used to beat India regularly in his playing days as a cricketer. Khan, who led Pakistan to the 1992 World Cup title also highlighted his country’s resource richness and growth potential by talking about Pakistan’s triumphs over the arch-rivals in field hockey.

“When I was playing cricket, India was seven times our size but we regularly quashed them. In hockey and so many other games also. We were great,” he said.

Imran Khan further said that Pakistan was a big force in hockey and so many other sports too, while it has always been a rich country in terms of human and natural resources, but an entrenched corruption derailed the growth story over the last few decades.

“In the 60s, Pakistan was shining and it was like an Asian role model. I grew up with that hope but we let ourselves down because unfortunately democracy couldn’t get grounded in Pakistan. When democracy faltered, the army came in...,” Khan said at a breakfast session on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum 2020.

Imran Khan was one of the leading all-rounders of his time and led his team to their only Test series win in India in 1986/87. He picked up 362 wickets in 88 Test matches and also scored 3807 runs. He also picked up 182 wickets in 175 ODIs and scored 3709 runs at an average of 33.41.

News Cricket

Irfan Pathan suggests a new role for under-fire Rishabh Pant

Garima Kotroo Updated: 24 January, 2020, 4:49 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan has suggested a new role for a young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant who has been facing the wrath of fans and former cricketers over the past few months. Irfan feels Pant could become a good finisher for Virat Kohli-led team as he has the capability to lift up his side in a crucial time.

Before the start of the series-opener in Auckland, cricketer-turned-commentator Deep Das Gupta asked Irfan Pathan about Pant’s role in the team as KL Rahul is the new wicketkeeper.

“Team management is going to keep backing Rishabh Pant. The situation with him is, that they are going to find a good finisher in him. That’s why they are investing in him. He hasn’t shown that yet. But we have seen in the IPL he has finished the game and won the games for Delhi Capitals. That’s what they see him doing in the future, and hence they keep persisting with him.”

“I would like to see that as well. If Pant is batting at no. 6 and Hardik Pandya comes at no. 7, it’s a solid lower order, which you need in T20Is, to finish off the game.”

News Cricket

India tame Kiwis in the first T20I

Staff Writer Updated: 24 January, 2020, 3:52 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The visiting Indian team defeated New Zealand by six wickets in the first T20I of the series. Riding high on the performance of KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer, India completed the target in 19 overs. While KL Rahul scored 56, Virat accumulated 45. Shreyas Iyer was unbeaten on 58 off 29 balls and stitched a match-winning partnership with Manish Pandey, who scored 14 runs.

Earlier, New Zealand scored 203 for 5 from the allotted 20 overs. Colin Munro, Kane Williamson and Colin de Grandhomme scored well-compiled fifties for their team. Ross Taylor was unbeaten on 54 at the end of New Zealand innings. Mohammed Shami was the most expensive Indian bowler and conceded 53 runs from his four overs.

Feature Cricket

Faf du Plessis’ final Test on Home Turf?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 24 January, 2020, 2:33 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

It could be argued that in the week that South Africa lost comprehensively to England in Port Elizabeth to lose the home Test series, the announcement of Quinton de Kock as South Africa’s one-day internationals captain has virtually sealed Faf du Plessis’ fate and future career as South Africa’s Test captain and player.

One of the things Faf asked for upon his return with the rest of the South African cricket team from the tour of India was clarity. He cannot argue now that his future has been made apparent to him, although perhaps not how he would have imagined.

Faf had spoken of scars after the three-Test whitewash in India and until two weeks prior to the four-Test series against England at home, Faf was groping in the dark with South Africa beset by on-field doldrums and the off-field fiasco of governance and administrative issues. Arguably heading into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England in July was du Plessis’ difficult hour of truth, knowing he was leading a team that was under the weather by a fair margin. True to word, South Africa not only struggled but also, sent alarm bells ringing about the state of affairs back home.

Although South Africa enjoyed some resurgence in the Boxing Day Test and the New Year’s Test, the disastrous affair in the rain-affected St. Georges Park match would have brought home the point once more that Faf du Plessis has continued to reiterate his intention to take South Africa through the transition in a rather difficult leadership position.

The seeds of confusion though in that role were sown when it was announced on the tour of India that Quinton de Kock would lead the Twenty20 squad while Faf insisted back home he was the man to lead South Africa into this year’s ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.

Now while there is mention that Faf has been rested for the series against England, there is also the assertion coming from the likes of the director of cricket, Graeme Smith, about the fact that Faf will not be around for the 2023 edition of the World Cup and Quinton must be given time to polish his captaincy skills.

Be that as it may and given the arduous journey that has been Faf’s in the past year but also, ever since he stepped into the captaincy shoes after the likes of Hashim Amla stepped down and Ab de Villiers was ambivalent about the role after taking it up. For Faf it has been many a year of navigating issues of color representation, of balancing teams, failing to find replacements to the powerhouse retirements and of now seeing the team through a traumatic transition on and off the field with the future still uncertain, for him and for South Africa.

Given how heavy the defeat to England has weighed heavy on Faf and the dressing room this week and given that the fact that South Africa’s next home Test is a fair way away, it is hard to imagine that even an away tour like that of the West Indies would have appeal for Faf in a reduced capacity.

It would be interesting then if the Wanderers becomes Faf’s farewell Test at home. It will certainly be a reversal of fortunes since it is usually the England captains stepping down after a bout of playing South Africa.

Feature Cricket

Angelo Mathews – Sri Lanka’s Unsung Hero

Partab Ramchand Updated: 24 January, 2020, 2:28 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

I sometimes feel that Angelo Mathews does not get enough credit for his manifold achievements. As a batsman, bowler, captain and now senior statesman he has served Sri Lanka heroically for over a decade. Unfortunately, his best years have coincided with a slump in Sri Lanka’s fortunes and that is perhaps the chief reason why his gallant exploits have gone under the radar.

Not very long ago after he made his Test debut Sri Lanka in quick succession lost the services of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera and Tillakaratne Dilshan. It is not easy for a team when great players retire in quick succession and Sri Lanka felt the heat. From being one of the leading sides in all formats they slipped down in the rankings. The bowling chiefly because of the tireless Rangana Herath continued to be a force to reckon with but the weakness in the batting was repeatedly exposed.

It was Mathews who gave it the much-needed stability in the middle order. Equally adept at attack or defence he played the rescue act time and again. But given the team’s fragility more often than not he was cast in the sheet anchor role concentrating on defence. With his concentration, dedication and determination he had the penchant to play long innings and many of his three-figure knocks lasted six to seven hours. In the just-concluded Test against Zimbabwe in running up his maiden double hundred he batted ten hours.

Mathews is well aware of his responsibilities. As the Sri Lankan captain across all formats for long, he enjoyed mixed results but these days free from the pressures of captaincy he is enjoying his role chiefly as a batsman with his days as a bowler virtually over because of a spate of injuries. These saw him miss quite a few games but he is back now playing an inspirational role to a whole new set of youngsters. At 32 Mathews still has a lot to offer Sri Lankan cricket and remains a pivotal figure in the transitional phase.

Mathews has run up impressive figures in all formats of the game but despite his batting and bowling feats in limited-overs cricket it is his stats in the traditional format that will stand the test of time. After 85 Tests he is approaching the 6000-run mark with ten hundreds and as many as 34 half-centuries. His batting style might not empty bars for with his serious, poker face approach he plays each ball on his merit. But it is invaluable to the Sri Lankan side for which he is the man for the crisis, ever reliable and dependable. For his enduring utility qualities, Mathews takes his place among the Sri Lankan greats.

Feature Cricket

Kohli Wrong, not BCCI?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 24 January, 2020, 2:27 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Virat Kohli’s tongue-in-cheek remark appears to have rubbed the Board of Control for Cricket in India the wrong way. Instead of taking cognizance of the fact of the oddity of the present reality as pointed out by the Indian captain, bitterness is seeping through the board’s closed doors.

The Indian captain could only answer the query raised in the media he knew how about the practical feasibility of playing a Twenty20 international match in New Zealand right after playing a one day international against Australia at home less than a week before. The skipper tried to keep his wits about him as he stated, “It’s getting closer and closer to landing at the stadium straight.”

The Indian captain and prolific batsman expounded on the issue of having to deal with vastly different time zones, acclimatization issues, traveling, and of having to shift formats. Without a tour match, it becomes trickier to do a tour in another hemisphere and continent. While some have called it the bane of the modern game, others are more critical of where this kind of playing at all costs is heading.

One would have thought that given Kohli’s stature as the virtuoso ambassador of the game, particularly Test cricket and leading stature in contemporary world cricket, the BCCI would come out, in its supposed new avatar post the Supreme Court intervention, and stand by the captain’s statement, and state at least publicly their intention to keep the players’ interests foremost in mind when planning future series.

It would certainly be in keeping with the fact that a player and former captain, Sourav Ganguly, now heads the BCCI president post. It certainly would have made for great publicity and a great unifying stance between the past and present of Indian cricket.

Instead the perception emanating from the BCCI officials is that they are not happy with the way they have been portrayed by Kohli, have taken his sarcastic remarks as a personal affront, insinuate proximity to Supreme Court officials, and instead have put the blame squarely at the feet of the Indian captain for not pointing out the issue at the outset at the time of the announcement of the itinerary. To suggest that the Indian captain might have a hidden agenda with the current board is taking conspiracy theory to another level.

It is not ideal in the manner in which the Indian cricket team is being pushed from one opponent to another, not to mention the fact that the conditions are likely to be decidedly different. To suggest that the skipper should be pointing out the problem as if the BCCI could not foresee the problem themselves in devising the itinerary in the current calendar or in future ones going forward is blatant evidence of the status quo of agenda and intentions of the board, Supreme Court notwithstanding. To suggest that the players had a long break post ICC Cricket World Cup and should be accommodating of such schedules is just plain flabbergasting. Is Virat Kohli’s outspoken behavior costing him brownie points with the board?

News Cricket

‘Virat Kohli has to take the final call’: Suresh Raina on Dhoni’s comeback in Team India

Abhishek Singh Updated: 24 January, 2020, 2:25 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Stylish Indian batsman, Suresh Raina has said that whether the former Indian captain MS Dhoni would be able to make a comeback or not depends on the current Indian captain Virat Kohli.

Raina, who is Dhoni’s teammate in the IPL, feels that Dhoni should continue playing cricket. “I want to see him continue to play. He is looking fit and has been training hard. I still think the Indian team needs him. But it is Virat's call on how they go forward,” Raina was quoted as saying by TOI.

The southpaw further said that Dhoni knows his game well and would leave the game without any fuss. “Dhoni will probably be coming to Chennai in the first week of March to train ahead of the IPL. Right now, it is so good to see him spending a lot of time with his family. If he wants to leave the game, he will go without making a big fuss,” said Raina.

The Uttar Pradesh left-hander thanked Dravid for helping him improve and providing him plenty of opportunities when he made his Team India debut. He also thanked Dhoni for supporting him throughout his career.

“For any newcomer, it is important to get a lot of opportunities. I was lucky to play under Rahul Dravid when I came in. He gave me a lot of opportunities. Then I played under MS Dhoni, who understood my game. I used to believe in myself but the skipper has an important role to play as well,” he said