Oldies are ruling Tennis world

AP Updated: 26 June, 2018, 2:18 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Williams sisters first met each other in a final way back in 2001
  • Federer took all those defeats and humiliations in his stride and hung on gamely
  • After the French Open triumph in 2014, Nadal’s form nosedived as he started to fight with various injuries

What is common between the 2008 Wimbledon and the 2017 Australian Open finals? Well, no idea? No problem. It is hard to remember even the recent sporting facts when we get so much information through traditional and social media. The two tournaments have an an amusing commonality. Both have the same finalists. The same players appeared in both the Men’s and Women’s sections despite the nine years that separated the tournaments.

Evergreen Heroes and Heroines

Sibling rivalry was on in the Women’s section in both the tournaments as Serene Williams took on Venus Williams. And the rivalry of big brothers illuminated the Men’s section as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal charged in for gladiatorial battles.

The Williams sisters first met each other in a final way back in 2001 – at the Flushing Meadows for the US Open crown. Venus won that final. Federer and Nadal first came head to head in a grand slam final in 2006 – at the Rolland Garros for the French Open title. Nadal reigned supreme in that match. After more than a decade of their first meeting at the grand stage, here they were at the Australian Open finals: the four contemporary tennis legends, shrugging off the challenges from the younger lot and standing tall to the myriad challenges posed by the passage of time.

All these players have their elite places in the pantheon of tennis greats. Among the four, only Venus can be accused of under-achieving. All the others have won everything that is there to win. So, another grand slam crown in the form of Australian Open is not a big deal. But it is not just a triumph in a tennis tournament. It is a counter-revolution of the athletes against Father Time.

Each player has played their part in this. Let us follow their journeys that culminated in the final of this year’s Australian Open.

Venus Williams

Venus Williams, born in 1980, was the first to make debut in tennis among the four players. She turned pro in 1994 at the unusually tender age of 14. She had almost all the skills she has now. As her physical strength increased, she started to win more matches. She reached the final of the US Open in 1997. She lost to Martina Hingis. Hingis was in top form at that time and Venus struggled to match her. However, she scaled greater heights from there.

The year 2000 was her breakthrough year. Even though she was just 20 years old at the time, she had already a seasoned pro with almost six years of experience. She won the Wimbledon and US Open that year. She repeated the feat next year too. By that time Serena had also established herself as a top rival. Venus found it hard to get past her sister in big matches. She reached several grand slam finals in the next few years. Still a title would not come. By 2004, Serena had established herself as the top player of the era. Venus’s form nosedived. She excelled only in the grass courts of the Wimbledon and other tournaments.

She kept on fighting hard and reaped the rewards in the Wimbledon. She won the Wimbledon title in 2005, 2007 and 2008. She defeated Serena in the final in 2008. Many predicted this would be a turn-around of fortunes for Venus. However, it was not. The 2008 win remains her last triumph at the grand slam arena. Even though she reached the final in the 2009 Wimbledon, she lost to Serena. From 2010 to 2016, Venus failed to reach the final of any grand slam event. In recent times, she had looked easily beatable. She celebrated her 36th birthday last year. People were hinting about her retirement.

This was the context in which she came to the Australian Open this year. Nobody expected her to reach even the semi finals. She is currently ranked 11th in the ATP rankings. Yet she defied all the odds and defeated much younger players. She could not win the title, but showed that age cannot diminish the tennis skills beyond an extent.

Serena Williams

Serena is one year younger to Venus. She made her debut one year after Venus too. But it was she who won the first grand slam in family. In 1999, Serena defeated Martina Hingis in the US Open final to lift her maiden grand slam title. She could not win a title in the next two years, as Venus dominated the courts. Serena snatched the upper hand in 2002. She won the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open that year. And she defeated Venus in the final of all three. There was no looking back for Serena from then on. Except in 2006, she managed to reach the final of at least one grand slam in every subsequent year. In 2006, she drifted away from tennis to concentrate more her fashion business and clothing line. She failed to win at least a grand slam title only in three seasons after 2002: 2004, 2006 and 2011. For the last 15 years, she is inarguably the top woman tennis player.

She is currently ranked number one in the world. She swept three grand slams in 2015. Many had expected her to win all the grand slams in 2016. But she faltered in the finals of the Australian Open and French Open. Though she won the Wimbledon, she lost out in the semi final of the US Open.

She is 35 now. But none of the younger contenders appear to have edge over her. It would not be a surprise if she wins all grand slams this year. It is a possibility. She was the favourite in Australian Open too. Unlike Venus, she still retains her agility and killer instincts. Among the four players in the Australian Open finals, she was the one certainty there. Everybody expected her to reach the finals and win the title. She duly obliged.

Roger Federer

Federer, born in 1981, is same age as Serena. He turned pro in 1998 – a year before Serena won her first grand slam. Federer had to wait for five more years to win his first grand slam. It happened in the 2003 Wimbledon. By that time he had stolen the hearts of tennis lovers all the over the world with his silken stroke-making, breathtakingly precise placements and graceful body language on the court. From 2004 to 2010, Federer was at his best. He was virtually unbeatable on grass and hard courts. In clay courts, especially in the French Open, Federer had two challenges. He had to slightly remodel his game. He was good enough to do that. However, the second challenge was almost beyond his ability: that of beating Rafael Nadal in Rolland Garros.

Between 2003 and 2010, Federer won 16 grand slams. In three seasons – 2004, 2006 and 2007 – he won three of the four grand slam titles of the season. In 2006 and 2007, he reached the French Open finals but lost to Nadal. Finally in 2009, he won the French Open too. It has to be added that he did not face Nadal in the final, as the Spaniard had already been ousted. He looked well on course to win more matches. In 2010, he started well by winning the Australian Open.

He was playing well and his strokes were still deadly. But after the 2010 Australian Open, he struggled in the grand slams. He also had to deal with a new threat than Nadal: Novak Djokovic. Federer found it hard to overcome these two players. The fact that he was into his thirties did not help either. He managed to win the Wimbledon in 2012, beating Andy Murray. But that was that. He looked down and out in the subsequent years – getting beaten even by obscure players. Almost everybody wanted him to retire.

Sports champions are nothing if not their determination. Federer took all those defeats and humiliations in his stride and hung on gamely. He came to the Australian Open as the 17th seed. Nobody expected him to reach even the semi finals. His wins in the first rounds did not even attract much attention. His path was made easier by the exits of top seeds Andy Murray and Djokovic at the earlier round. He was at his best in the quarter final and semi final. His form improved as the tournament went on. Only when he reached the finals did the reality hit the tennis fans: that Federer is on the cusp of a 17th title at the age of 36.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal is the youngest of the four players covered here. He is only 31. He made his debut at the age 15 in 2003. At that time, like most Spanish players, he was labeled as a clay court specialist. He lived up to the label by winning the French Open in 2005 at the age of 19. For the next nine years till 2014, he was the undisputed king in clay courts. He won nine French Open crowns, losing out only in 2009. As the years passed by he improved his game in other surfaces as well. He won his first Wimbledon in 2008 and first Australian Open in 2009. For him, 2010 was the marquee year, in which he won all grand slam titles except the Australian Open. He was the only player who stood up to Federer and beat him more times than any other player.

After the French Open triumph in 2014, Nadal’s form nosedived as he started to fight with various injuries. Nadal plays an extremely physical game which focuses more on retrieving the ball than hitting the winner quickly. His style of play put a heavy toll on his body. As the years passed by, Nadal seemed unable to retain maintain his top game. He has not won any major title in the last few years. He was seeded ninth in the Australian Open. Nobody expected him to reach the finals as well. Not only did he reach the final, but he almost won the title too. He ultimately lost to Federer in a thrilling five-set contest.

Will the late spring continue?

Here they were, playing in the finals of Australian Open. All are past 30 and all are past their prime. Will there be an encore? Or, will the veterans’ charge keep going? The circumstances are helpful. Apart from Nadal, none of them fancy much at the French Open. However, Venus, Serena, Federer and Nadal are usually good at Wimbledon. If they can tame the likes of Murray and Djokovic, the same set of players could meet in the Wimbledon final. At least some of them may feature in the Wimbledon finals – if not all. But beyond that it is doubtful that this late spring will last. Let us enjoy while it is still in full bloom.

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News Cricket

Malinga bows down to genius Bumrah, says Indian bowler has better skills than him

Staff Writer Updated: 29 November, 2019, 11:03 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Lasith Malinga has played a key role in Jasprit Bumrah's career. The Sri Lanka legend has taught Bumrah a lot during their association at the Mumbai Indians. The two pacers play for four-time IPL champions in the cash rich league. Malinga stated that he is really happy with the progress of Jasprit Bumrah.

“I am really happy to have helped someone while I am still playing international cricket, and he is the World No. 1 bowler now. Happy to have given him tips which make him recognise my contribution in his career. I think everyone should share their experience and expertise with young players so that cricket is the eventual winner. Jasprit might have options better than me too for getting inputs; he has the kind of brain which can collect and work on all advises he gets. It is evident from how he executes his yorkers and slower balls, it is just unbelievable how he does it. He is very hungry to learn,” Malinga told cricket.com in an interview.

Malinga defended nine runs in the final over of the IPL finale in 2019. According to him, it was the most exciting over of his career.

“At this age when I am ending my career, it felt good. In the first five balls of the over I clocked at around 140 kmph and the last ball was around 118 to 120 kmph. People ask me how and why I made the decision to bring down my pace when CSK needed two runs from one ball. It was because I needed a wicket and I felt that a slower ball could do the trick for me. That was by far the most exciting over of my IPL career,” he added.

News Cricket

Captaincy drained me mentally - Sarfaraz Ahmed

Staff Writer Updated: 29 November, 2019, 11:02 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The veteran Pakistani cricketer was sacked from the captaincy across all the formats after failing to lead Pakistan to victories. He was also dropped from the team. It has worked in his favour as he is scoring runs in domestic cricket. Sarfaraz is confident of regaining his spot in the national side.

The 32-year old led Pakistan to their maiden ICC Champions Trophy in 2017. He was also successful in T20Is where his team won 11 consecutive T20 series.

Recently, while talking to the former Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi, he spoke about his comeback and even stated that he was mentally drained while leading Pakistan across three formats.

“I prepared mentally after being dropped. I have received suggestions from the former cricketers to concentrate on domestic cricket and perform for the team. After playing a lot of international cricket as a captain with a lot of pressures, playing domestic cricket will help to find ourselves. I played World Cup and captained my team in all three formats for quite a few years, which drained me mentally,” he said.

His main focus is on domestic cricket. The right-hand batsman wants to improve his game by playing in the domestic circuit.

“I just want to forget about the international team for some time and concentrate on domestic cricket. I want to improve myself and my game. After preparing myself to all the challenges if Pakistan board gives me a chance, then I will be ready to play again for the country. The quality of domestic cricket also improved a lot,” Sarfaraz added.

News Cricket

I have worked hard to score runs in Test cricket - David Warner

Staff Writer Updated: 29 November, 2019, 11:00 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne posted back-to-back hundreds and combined in a record 294-run partnership as Australia dominated Pakistan’s revamped attack to finish day one at 302-1 in the day-night cricket test.

Warner was unbeaten on 166 and Labuschagne was not out 126 at stumps on Friday.

The second-wicket stand beat the record partnership of 248 for a day-night test set by England pair Alastair Cook and Joe Root in 2016-17.

Warner’s 23rd test century was his 17th in Australia and emphasized his comfort in home conditions following a poor Ashes series in England when he averaged 9.5, which jeopardized his spot at the top of the order.

It was a second test century in as many matches for Labuschagne, who is playing his 11th test.

Warner scored 154 and Labuschagne posted a career-high 185 last week in Australia’s innings victory over Pakistan at the Gabba, where they combined for a century partnership in Australia’s first innings of 580.

Unlike the Gabba, though, they had to join forces early because Joe Burns was dismissed in the fourth over. Burns and Warner put on 222 for the first wicket in Brisbane.

Australian skipper Tim Paine won the toss and elected to bat in gloomy conditions and with rain in the forecast for all five days of the second test at the Adelaide Oval, opting against the temptation to bowl first in conditions that would have suited his pace attack.

It paid off, despite the loss of Burns (4), who chased a ball from left-arm paceman Shaheen Afridi and edged behind to Mohammad Rizwan with the total at eight.

Labuschagne narrowly avoided a first-ball duck, Shaheen just missing the edge, but grew in confidence in combination with Warner and solidified his claim to Australia’s No. 3 position.

After that, and despite 17 overs lost because of rain, the Australian batters were ruthless in eight wicketless hours.

Warner faced 228 deliveries and hit 19 boundaries to all parts of the ground.

“One thing on my game I've really tried to work hard on is really try to be a bit more patient,” Warner said. “The last two games I've actually showed myself I can do that. I'm just really proud with how good my defense was tonight."

It was Warner’s first century in day-night test match, a relatively new format that Australia leads the world in with a 5-0 record.

Unlike the previous day-night tests in Australia, though, the pink ball barely swung in the twilight or night conditions and the Pakistan pacemen struggled. The fielding was also poor, with Shaheen kicking the ball into the boundary rope in an embarrassing blunder in the 58th over to give Warner a four off Yasir Shah.

News Cricket

Thoughts and prayers with her family: Yuvraj reacts to Priyanka’s rape-murder case

Staff Writer Updated: 29 November, 2019, 10:58 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh has expressed his anger on the state of treatment meted out to women in India. He has reacted to the painful killing of Priyanka Reddy. The 27-year old, who was returning home, was raped and burnt alive by miscreants. Yuvraj took to twitter to condemn the incident and offered his condolences to her family and friends.

On Thursday, the charred body of Priyanka was found under a culvert after she had gone missing.

“This is an extremely painful news, shocked & disgusted on this barbaric and ghastly rape & murder. Its time we all hang our heads in shame. Thoughts and prayers with her friends and family. #RIPPriyankaReddy,” he wrote.

Earlier, Harbhajan Singh also took to Twitter to express his anger.

"Shame on all of us we keep letting these things happens again nd again but nothing change.y can’t we make strict policy against such criminals nd hang them in front of whole town to set th examples 4 others #RIPPriyankaReddy need ur attention @narendramodi sir,” he wrote.

News Cricket

Marnus Labuschagne has more Test runs in 2019 than Smith, Kohli, Root and Williamson

Staff Writer Updated: 29 November, 2019, 10:13 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Labuschagne faced 205 balls and hit 17 boundaries. He went within an inch of notching his century with a six, advancing down the track to leg-spinner Yasir Shah and lofting him down to long-off. Replays showed the ball narrowly failed to clear the rope, moving Labuschagne to 98. He reached triple figures with two through the leg side on the next delivery.

He said it felt “surreal” to be scoring back-to-back centuries and combining in big stands in test cricket.

While the Australians stuck with the same XI that won the series opener, Pakistan made three changes in a bid to end a losing streak in tests in Australia that dates back to 1995.

Mohammad Abbas was recalled and 19-year-old Muhammad Musa got a test debut at the expense of Imran Khan and 16-year-old Naseem Shah.

Shaheen had the only breakthrough of the day for Pakistan, returning 1-48 from 18 overs. Abbas had figures of 0-56 from 19 overs and Musa had 0-71 off 13.

He is the leading run-scorer in Whites in 2019. Labuschagne has surpassed Steve Smith in the run-scoring chart. This Aussies batsman is also ahead of Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Joe Root in terms of runs in the ongoing year.

While Steve Smith has scored 778 in 2019, Virat Kohli has accumulated 612 runs. Kane Williamson and Joe Root have scored 353 and 548 runs respectively in 2019.

News Cricket

'Shame on all of us': Harbhajan condemns doctor Priyanka Reddy’s tragic death

Staff Writer Updated: 29 November, 2019, 9:54 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

There is no denying the fact that India is one of the most unsafe places for women. Time and again, women have been subjected to gruesome treatment. Priyanka Reddy, the veterinary doctor, was murdered and burnt alive by miscreants. Harbhajan Singh, the veteran cricketer, is in deep shocked and has demanded strict action against all the accused.

"Shame on all of us we keep letting these things happens again nd again but nothing change.y can’t we make strict policy against such criminals nd hang them in front of whole town to set th examples 4 others #RIPPriyankaReddy need ur attention @narendramodi sir,” he wrote.

Priyanka was returning home but had to stop in between due to her scooter’s flat tyre. She called up her sister Bhavya to narrate about her problem. In between the conversation, she informed Bhavya that she was feeling scared with the type of people who have come to her aid. Bhavya urged her to wait at the toll-plaza, but Priyanka refused stating that it would be awkward to wait at the toll-plaza.

Bhavya also suggested her to leave the scooter and head back to home. They spoke around 9.22 pm and her phone was switched off around 9.44 pm. She informed other family members and they went to the toll-plaza to look for her.

They lodged a police complaint after failing to find her.

News Cricket

Shami, Bhuvneshwar, Bumrah, Umesh Yadav are role models for youngsters - Rahul Dravid

Staff Writer Updated: 29 November, 2019, 5:33 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian pacers have surprised even their opponents with remarkable consistency in the last few years. Be it Asia or tough conditions of other countries, fast bowlers from India have stamped their authority. Their display has ensured that India are ahead of its competitors in the ongoing World Test Championship. Former India skipper Rahul Dravid is mighty pleased with the way pacers have bowled in the recent times. He believes they are going to influence the budding cricketers to take up fast bowling as career option.

“What Ishant, Shami, Umesh, Bhuvneshwar (Kumar) and Bumrah are doing is they are actually in a way becoming role models for a younger generation of boys, who believe now they can be successful as fast bowlers in India. I think it is great to see,” Dravid was quoted as saying by The Hindu.

“Obviously we had people like Kapil (Dev), Sri (Javagal Srinath), Zaheer (Khan) in the past. But now, as a group, probably this is one of the best fast bowling attacks we have ever had. I think that’s a great inspiration for a lot of these young boys,” Dravid added.

He further added that there are a couple of good fast bowlers at the junior level as well.

“Now, at the under-19 level, we have very good fast bowlers. Last time (during the 2018 under-19 World Cup), we had three of them — Kamlesh (Nagarkoti), Shivam (Mavi) and Ishan (Porel). This year, you will also see some good fast bowlers in the team. That’s been fantastic. I think when you have role models and you have heroes like the senior team (it’s encouraging).”

News Cricket

Wasim Akram worried by Yasir Shah’s send-off to world’s best batsman Steve Smith

Staff Writer Updated: 29 November, 2019, 5:31 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Steve Smith failed to score runs in the only innings of the first Test match between Australia and Pakistan. He was dismissed by Yasir Shah for the seventh time in his career, and the way Pakistani bowler celebrated, was widely covered. However, Wasim Akram is a worried man after Smith's statement about his dismissal performance against Pakistan's leg spinner. Smith had promised to take care of his performance in the second Test.

“You know in our times, when I played I didn’t bother with how many times I got out who,” Akram told foxsports.com.au.

“It was the last thing on our minds. Nowadays, with stats, people know everything.

“But I, as a bowler, (worried about) ‘am I impacting the game or not? Am I winning the game for Pakistan or vice versa?’ If not, that doesn’t matter if I’ve got him seven times. It was just an inexperienced mistake. I hope he hasn’t poked the bear there.”

Wasim refused to categories Yasir's mistake as 'unwise'.

“Not unwise … I wouldn’t have done it. I would have done it in the fourth innings if I got him out the second time winning the Test match. But not when you’re losing badly.”

News Cricket

VVS Laxman wants KL Rahul to open with Rohit Sharma in T20I matches

Tarun Singh Updated: 29 November, 2019, 5:29 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India, after recording its 12th consecutive Test series win at home by thrashing Bangladesh recently, will lock the horns with West Indies at home.

Former Indian cricketer VVS Laxman has suggested a new opening partner for Rohit Sharma in the upcoming T20I series against West Indies.

VVS Laxman expressed that KL Rahul, who performed well at batting order number 3 during Kohli’s break from cricket, should now be promoted to open the game with Rohit Sharma.

“The big question is that with Virat Kohli back and K.L. Rahul doing a good job batting at number three so then where will he fit? I believe that it is time that K.L. Rahul opens with Rohit Sharma. I would definitely have Rahul open with Rohit for the West Indies Series.”

India skipper Kohli is back in the team, but the opener Shikhar Dhawan has been ruled out due to his knee injury picked up in a domestic game.

This scenario is strengthening the possibility of KL Rahul to open the innings with Rohit Sharma against West Indies.

VVS Laxman also hailed Shreyas Iyer for his heroics and his batting prowess shown in the Twenty20 match against Bangladesh in Nagpur.

“I was very impressed with the way Shreyas Iyer has batted so far. The best part about him was when during the last T20 International in Nagpur when India lost their top 3 batsmen, he had the ability to assess the condition very well and was very versatile in his approach.”

News Cricket

Sanjay Bangar wants ‘match-winner’ Kuldeep Yadav to be backed by team management

Tarun Singh Updated: 29 November, 2019, 5:28 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former India batting coach Sanjay Bangar came out to back Kuldeep Yadav amid his difficult phase, stating it is important to support Kuldeep as he is a match-winner.

"I'm a massive Kuldeep Yadav fan and in terms of strike rates you see he is the quickest to 100 ODI wickets and even in the shorter format, if you look at the match we won in England, he picked up five wickets at a time where the opposition was running away from the match," Bangar told.

The wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav is going through a lean patch in his cricket career, and he has found himself out of the T20I squad for the most part of the year 2019.

Yadav has been neglected by the team management this year, especially since the last edition of IPL where he had a couple of poor games.

However, Sanjay Bangar has complete faith in Kuldeep Yadav’s bowling prowess and he would not rule out Yadav on the basis of his two bad games in IPL.

"I wouldn't count out Kuldeep Yadav, it's just that he's had a couple of poor games in the IPL last season. For him, this IPL is going to be a massive factor and if he does really well, it will be very hard to keep him out,” Bangar further added"

Kuldeep Yadav has recently received a call-up for the upcoming Twenty20 series against West Indies at home.

Feature Cricket

The resurgence of Ishant Sharma

Partab Ramchand Updated: 29 November, 2019, 5:27 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The Indian fast bowling quintet is very much the topic of discussion in cricket circles and why not? They have all been superb for some time now having played a leading role in the highly successful run the team is enjoying. Each of the five bowlers has an interesting background but surely Ishant Sharma tops the list. The ups and downs that he has had over these last 12 years and the resurgence he has experienced in the last couple of years has been nothing short of remarkable. He has had to endure injuries, bad patches and jokes about his non-performance at these times but he has overcome all this and is currently undergoing a metamorphosis that has seen the stats against his name get better and better.

When he exploded on the scene in Australia in 2007-08 he was hailed as the next big thing in Indian cricket. Steve Waugh, Damien Fleming, Richard Hadlee and Ricky Ponting were effusive in their praise of the tall 19-year-old fast bowler who was making the ball fly about disconcertingly. He gave Ponting a harrowing time when the Australian captain was in the midst of a golden run and during the CB Series one delivery was timed at almost 153kmph making him the fastest Indian bowler of all time. He was hailed as Indian cricket’s next superstar and for some time he could do no wrong.

Then suddenly he couldn’t do a thing right. While the pace still remained around the 140 kmph mark the zing that accompanied it was missing. He was wayward, lost much of his rhythm and was just not in the zone. He still commanded a place in the side in all three formats so was it a case of too much cricket? In any event the strike rate, the economy rate and the average came in for much derisive comment. With an average of around 37 he had the worst figures for any specialist bowler with 200 wickets in Test history.

In the last couple of years however Ishant has been back to his glorious best knocking down stumps and sending down deliveries that have beaten batsmen for pace and swing. He is now more brain than brawn, cutting down on his speed and varying his deliveries so admirably that he is extremely deceptive. The strike rate and economy rate are much better and his career average is now 32.68. Of course he now plays only Tests so that has undoubtedly helped as also the fact that with plenty of competition around Ishant at 31 cannot afford to lag behind. Indeed he has risen to the occasion and struck up a good combination with his younger teammates. And as he approaches two important landmarks – 100 Tests and 300 wickets – Ishant is confidence personified.

Feature Cricket

Gavaskar’s History Lesson for Kohli

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 29 November, 2019, 5:24 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Stung at being overlooked in the accolades, former Indian cricketer and captain, Sunil Gavaskar, took a jibe at the current Indian captain, Virat Kohli. In the race for being known as pathbreakers, Gavaskar certainly did not appreciate the team of his times being overlooked when it came to overseas records.

In what seemed like a harmless comment on the part of the current Indian skipper got the goat of the former cricketer turned commentator who let the viewers know on air that Virat Kohli’s knowledge of the game was far from adequate.

In a stinging and stunning turn of events, Gavaskar even stated at the end of the first ever day and night Test cricket at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata that “We were winning even before Kohli was born.”

Gavaskar is not wrong in stating that India did get in a few series wins in the 1970’s and 1980’s before the advent of Sourav Ganguly as India’s captain. However, it was under Ganguly’s leadership that India developed a more robust outlook that neither gave an inch nor took one. That bluster and bravado actually paid off as it was under Ganguly’s unpopular choice as captaincy, the ratio of wins in terms of Test matches turned favourably for captains.

When Virat Kohli mentioned at the post match press conference that Ganguly was the one to teach the Indian team to stand up and fight back, Kohli was talking about ideologies and the policies of the Indian cricket team as he viewed as a young impressionable boy. This is from the perspective since he began to follow the game. It was, in no way, a retelling of history.

Gavaskar though would not cut the Indian captain slack, despite the fact that the Indian cricket captain became the first batsman to score a Test century under floodlights. Instead he ripped, in his own way, into the idea that he thought Kohli was perpetuating by claiming that cricket did not begin in the 2000’s. Point taken, Mr. Gavaskar.

But what beats the mind is that Gavaskar would think Kohli was merely trying to score brownie points by mentioning the current BCCI chief in the latter’s presence.

That someone of the stature and standing that Gavaskar enjoys would even make the allusion seems like taking cheap potshots at the current Indian captain who has not only taken his cricket to great heights but also, taken the Indian cricket team to a much stronger position. It would seem that this would be the least offending remark on the part of Kohli and certainly not one to rile Gavaskar to speak the way he did.

There is little doubt the world over that sometimes legends are forgotten and consigned to the history books. But with the occasion replete with honouring legacy with the parade of former champions even as Test cricket in India marked a new chapter, this was an unusual moment when Gavaskar felt slighted and took it out on the current Indian captain.

Opinion Cricket

Why is Virat Kohli reluctant to play day-night Test matches?

CT Contributor Updated: 29 November, 2019, 5:22 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli welcomed the move by BCCI to hold the side's first-ever day-night Test match against Bangladesh last week. India won that match by an innings and 46 runs to seal the series by a 2-0 margin. Kohli looked satisfied after the format was a success which drew a lot of fans and had several dignitaries attending the historical match. However, the 31-year-old said he doesn't want day-night Test to be the only version in the longest format in the near future.

Kohli said he still prefers the regular version and wants fans who understand Test cricket to attend the same. "This can be a one-off thing. It should not in my opinion become a regular scenario, because then you are losing out on that nervousness of the first session in the morning," Kohli had told reporters at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

"The entertainment of Test cricket lies in the fact that the batsman is trying to survive a session and the bowler trying to get a batsman out," he added. The day-night Tests have been aimed at increasing crowds and TV audiences for the longer format. It was successfully introduced in 2015 when Australia played New Zealand in Adelaide.

India had kept away, with its cricket board last year refusing to play a day-night Test in Adelaide. "Obviously, we wanted to get a feel of pink-ball cricket. Eventually it had to happen," said Kohli.

Going by his comments, Kohli is not someone who is advocating day-night Test on a regular manner. He prefers the older version and has always backed Test cricket. However, he isn't completely reluctant either. The Indian skipper is open to playing day-night Test next against Australia when the side visits Down Under end of 2020. He said India should be given a practice match ahead of the same.

Kohli has his own reasons and we should support him. Yes, day-night Test should be encouraged, however, it should not be the only version of Test cricket. We can have a match here and there. When India do host teams for 3 Tests or more, one match should be a day-night affair. Other venues should come into the picture like BCCI President Sourav Ganguly pointed out. Test cricket needs more excitement. The format has had a slow death in recent years with T20 cricket being the preferred choice.

However, there should be a collective approach to sort this. From lively pitches, association with fans and other aspects, one can perhaps see it get back to its feet. Day-night Test is one of those aspects that can help.

News Cricket

Why Jacques Kallis shaved half of his beard & moustache?

Staff Writer Updated: 29 November, 2019, 5:00 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis surprised everyone when he posted a picture of him with half shaved beard and moustache. The fans were amused with his new look and wanted to know the reason behind this move of the veteran cricketer.

"Going to be an interesting few days. All for a good cause Rhinos and golf development @alfreddunhill," wrote Kallis in his Instagram post.

He has taken up 'Save The Rhino' challenge in his country which required him to shave half of his facial and chest hair to raise awareness among the masses. This effort will also help in raising money to save the rhino population in South Africa.

Apart from Kallis, former cricketers like Kevin Pietersen and Mark Boucher are also associated with such projects. Time and again, they have urged people to come forward in their fight against poaching of Rhinos.

Even Rohit Sharma has advocated the need of working for the survival of Rhinos.

News Cricket

Rahul Dravid is disappointed with IPL franchises, wants them to hire Indian coaches

Tarun Singh Updated: 29 November, 2019, 2:34 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Indian cricketer and currently the National Cricket Academy (NCA) Director Rahul Dravid has expressed his displeasure over lack of opportunities for Indian coaches in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

"I believe we've got some very good coaches, a lot of good people. I'm fully confident [in their ability]. Just as we have a lot of talent in the cricket department, we have a lot of talent in the coaching department,” quoted Dravid.

Rahul Dravid believes that the Indian coaches would train and understand the players better than the foreign coaches in the league.

"Honestly, there are so many Indian players in the IPL, there's so much of local knowledge [among our coaches]. I feel a lot of teams could actually benefit from using a lot of our Indian coaches in the IPL. They know the Indian players better, they understand them better. Even as assistant coaches... there is a lot of talent and ability. It just needs to be given the opportunity, and flourish."

Indian Premier League (IPL) has played a crucial role in the development of fresh talents in Indian cricket.

Many key players of Team India have been produced by (IPL) like Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav and Deepak Chahar.

However, Rahul Dravid feels that the IPL teams could not utilize many talented Indian coaches by not giving them enough opportunities to coach.

"A part of our goal is to create a program for coaches as well so that we can give them certain skills in which they can develop - and hopefully then get the opportunities to work at a slightly higher level.”

"I think a lot of IPL teams miss a trick by not using more domestic talent in the coaching area and the talent identification area, even if it is as assistants. That's my personal opinion,” Dravid further added.