Sakshi's gift for MS Dhoni is the best thing you will see today, see pic  

Staff Writer Updated: 9 August, 2019, 11:38 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Sakshi Dhoni has purchased a brand new car for her husband MS Dhoni, who is currently with his regiment. The former Indian skipper is posted in Kashmir and will remain with the troops for two months.

She took to social media to reveal about the gift. Sakshi shared a picture of Jeep Grand Cherokee and wrote: “Welcome home #redbeast ! Your toy is finally here @mahi7781 really missing you!”

Dhoni is known for his love for four-wheel machines and his collection of cars is huge.

Meanwhile, Dhoni is likely to unfurl the national flag on the occasion of Independence Day in Leh. He is currently staying with his regiment in the Pulwama district of Jammu & Kashmir.

“Dhoni is a brand ambassador of the Indian Army. He has engaged in motivating members of his unit and has often been playing football and volleyball with the soldiers. He is also undertaking battle training exercises with the corps. He will remain in the valley till August 15,” said a senior army official.

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Opinion Cricket

What are the aspects India need to sort out ahead of the New Zealand Tests?

CT Contributor Updated: 17 February, 2020, 9:40 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The Indian cricket team thrashed New Zealand in the T20Is, beating them by a 5-0 margin. However, the joy was cut short, with the Kiwis inflicting a 3-0 series win in the ODIs. And now we have the crucial Test series coming up against New Zealand, starting February 21.

India go into the Test series after playing out a draw in the practice game against New Zealand XI. There were some key learnings from the three-day warm-up game. India had its positives, however, there are areas where the team needs to work upon. It will be a crucial phase for India against the Kiwis in conditions that can be highly testing. In this article, we analyze the aspects India need to sort out.

Who will open alongside Mayank?

Mayank Agarwal is set to be India's main Test opener in the series. He got an 81 in the warm-up Test. However, the absence of Rohit Sharma opens up a spot. The likes of Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw are vying for the second opening slot.

Gill was a part of the Test squads against South Africa and Bangladesh. However, he was a replacement for Rohit in this series. In the warm-up match, he got scores of 0 and 7. This could well affect his chance. Meanwhile, Shaw came in post the doping violation ban. He started well across formats in domestic cricket and India A tour. However, since being a part of the ODIs, he has not convinced the management.

Can openers give India a strong start?

In the first innings of the warm-up match, Mayank and Shaw were troubled by the seam and bounce. They managed 1 and 0 respectively. There was a fight shown in the second innings. However, the likes of Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Neil Wagner will trouble them. They are a dangerous trio.

The ongoing tour of New Zealand has been a nightmare for Mayank. His scores in the tour including the ODIs read: 8, 32, 29, 37, 24, 0, 0, 32, 3, 1, 1 and 81. Will he be able to pull off the work and hand India positive starts? Also, both Shaw and Gill are vulnerable. The swing might fox either, no matter who gets chosen.

6-5 or 7-4 strategy?

Another major decision to be taken by skipper Virat Kohli is the strategy of the team combination he should go with. With the absence of Hardik Pandya, India could field three frontline pacers. Therefore, we might see a 7-4 strategy to help India get more depth in batting. But will Kohli add an extra pacer in the form of Navdeep Saini or Umesh Yadav?

Feature Cricket

Warm-up game helps India tick most boxes

Partab Ramchand Updated: 17 February, 2020, 9:22 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Warm-up games do not necessarily provide solutions to questions facing a touring side but the three-day game against New Zealand XI certainly helped the Indian team management in ticking most of the boxes before the first Test against New Zealand which starts on February 21.

It is now almost certain that the opening batsmen will be Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw. Both overcame a nightmarish experience in the first innings when Shaw got a duck and Agarwal was out for one by scoring 39 and 81 (retired out) the second time around. Shubman Gill the other candidate in the fray did his cause no good being out for a first-ball duck and being restricted to just eight runs in the second innings. In any case, Gill had only an outside chance to make the cut and at 20 the talented Punjab batsman has plenty of time to make the grade.

The other question pertained to the pace bowling combo for the Test and it was heartening that all four fast bowlers were among the wickets. Pace bowling is a key factor in New Zealand conditions and it was good to see Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Navdeep Saini taking little time in settling down to the longer format after an extended spell of bowling in limited-overs cricket. Further good news is Ishant Sharma being cleared for the Test series and a full-strength Indian pace attack can have the Kiwi batsmen on the hop.

It was also good to see Hanuma Vihari get a hundred. The Indian think tank is veering towards playing an extra batsman and only one spinner in the final eleven and Vihari’s form could come in handy at No 6. He also gives the team management a fifth bowler option for he can be quite handy with his off-breaks. He has performed creditably in his seven Tests so far and has an excellent first-class record with an average of almost 60 and an unbeaten triple hundred.

With three of the four main bowlers being fast men there will be a place for only one specialist spinner. The warm-up game did not throw any real pointers with Ravichandran Ashwin taking one for 46 of 15.2 overs and Ravindra Jadeja being wicketless after sending down only ten overs. Both, of course, are handy with the bat though Jadeja is the better fielder. In this context, it is interesting to recall that in India’s last overseas Test series in the West Indies Ashwin was left out and Jadeja played as the lone spinner. It really is a toss-up between the two. And even though Rishabh Pant kept wickets in the warm-up game and got some runs Wriddhiman Saha the better keeper should keep his place for the Test series.

News Cricket

Emotions apke chehre se match nahi kar rahe – Irfan Pathan trolls Yuvraj Singh

Garima Kotroo Updated: 16 February, 2020, 7:07 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, who has often been seen taking a jibe at cricketers on social media platforms, was trolled by his former teammate Irfan Pathan. The 38-year-old legendary player recently shared a picture with his wife Hazel Keech on Valentine’s Day. While the fans showered their love on Yuvraj’s latest post, Pathan came up with a hilarious reaction.

Taking to his official Instagram handle, Singh wrote, “You will always be my valentine @hazelkeechofficial." At this, Pathan cheekily commented, “Wishes ke emotions apke chehre se match nahi kar rahe hain (The emotions of your wishes don’t match with your facial expressions).”

Yuvraj, who announced his retirement from all forms of cricket last year, recently returned to the field to play in a charity match to raise funds for bushfire victims in Australia. In the Bushfire Cricket Bash, Yuvraj was a part of Adam Gilchrist XI who locked horns against Ricky Ponting XI in the 10-over per side game.

After bidding adieu to international cricket, Singh shifted his focus to T20 leagues around the world and went on to play in the Global T20 Canada and T10 league. The left-hander is one of the best all-rounders that India have ever produced in cricketing history.

News Cricket

When R Ashwin was kidnapped by goons in Chennai

Abhishek Singh Updated: 15 February, 2020, 5:18 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

R Ashwin, the ace spinner of Team India, has had a life of uncertainties and adventures, and it’s not true only for his cricketing career but also for his whole life. Talking about one such incident Ashwin revealed, how he was kidnapped by goons when he used to be a popular name in Chennai’s tennis-ball cricket tournaments.

Ashwin was supposed to play in the finale of a tennis ball tournament but instead ended up having Bhajjis and Vadas with local ‘gundas’ at a tea stall near the final match’s venue.

"We were supposed to play a final and we have this culture of sort of people priding themselves on winning a competition like that. As I was about to leave, there were four or five guys who came in Royal Enfields - properly muscular and big. They picked me up and said come we've got to go. I asked 'who?' and they said 'you're playing the match here, right? We've come to pick you up. I was like wow they've arranged for a pick-up, and it feels great. What happened is I sat behind one person and another person sat right behind me, as if I was going to get off and go. I was properly sandwiched between both of them.” said Ashwin.

"They took me to a posh tea stall. A tea shop is a big cultural thing in Chennai. Next to all the grounds, there is a tea shop. They made me sit there, ordered bajjis and vadas and all that, and said 'have, have, don't be afraid, we're here to help you out'. It was around 3:30-4:00 PM and I said the match is going to start, let's go. So they said, 'no, no, we're actually from the opposition, we wanted to stop you from playing. If you go and play we'll make sure your fingers are not there," Ashwin revealed in an interview to Cricbuzz.

News Cricket

Ashwin reveals the name of the guy from whom he learned to ball the deadly carrom ball

Abhishek Singh Updated: 15 February, 2020, 5:17 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

R Ashwin has the highest Test wickets for a spinner (active) in the entire world. A lot of credit for that goes to his innovative bowling on different tracks. One of the innovations, that paid heavy dividends to the Tamil Nadu born bowler, is his carrom ball.

Ashwin feels this bowl has done wonders for him in his career. He explained that tennis ball cricket played a big role behind his mastery in carrom ball.

"The first time I went to play a tennis ball game, I was batting. There was this guy who was bowling with proper action, getting beautiful drift and getting the ball to go nicely out and in. Till today I can't find where the guy is but I haven't seen a better bowler who can bowl both in and out than him in my life. His name is SK. He was the one from whom I learned that ball," Ashwin told Cricbuzz during an episode of Spicy Pitch.

"Basically he was the one who made me look like an absolute idiot on that particular day. I was a big thing around the tennis ball circuit as a batsman then, so I said I need to learn from this guy. So I used to go every morning, and he used to come and teach me for about 10-15 days," added Ashwin.

Feature Cricket

New Zealand Tests a shot a redemption for Prithvi Shaw

Renin Wilben Albert Updated: 15 February, 2020, 5:01 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

In cricket, as in life, unpredictability can never be thrown out of the window. Having impressed at the domestic and the U19 level, 18-year-old Prithvi Shaw was handed an early Test debut in 2018, with Shikhar Dhawan being unable to cement his spot despite repeated opportunities. Shaw responded with a record hundred on debut. Just when it seemed India had discovered a fine young talent, Shaw suffered a gruesome ankle injury while fielding in a practice game in Australia. Mayank Agarwal replaced him and made the most of his chances.

Just as he was recovering, and looking to make his way back into the Indian team, the BCCI slapped him with an eight-month ban from all forms of competitive cricket for failing a dope test. In the interim, Rohit Sharma moved to the top and established himself as a Test opener along with Agarwal. Life has now come a full circle for Shaw as an untimely injury to Rohit has brought him back in contention for the opening slot. It’s now the Mumbai youngster’s opportunity to make it count.

Starting all over again

Although Shaw has played two Tests so far, they seem like a distant memory, as he had featured in the matches back in October 2018. A lot has transpired since. And, in the wake of the doping ban, it will be like starting from scratch for Shaw, just like the case was with Steve Smith and David Warner, who made successful returns from their respective ball-tampering bans. Shaw would look to draw confidence from the fact that he has tasted success at the Test level before. In fact, his debut was nothing short of sensational as he became the youngest Indian Test centurion on debut, and the second-youngest after Sachin Tendulkar to score a hundred for India.

However, with Rohit and Agarwal having forged a successful pairing at the top, it will be difficult for Shaw to feature in Test eleven as opener once his Mumbai teammate Rohit returns from injury. Thus, if chosen to open for the Tests, which is highly likely, Shaw will have to come up with Marnus Labuschagne-like extraordinary performances to force the selectors to open up a position for him. It won’t be an easy task. However, considering that all slots in the top and middle-order are booked for now when first-choice players are fit, the 20-year-old doesn't have any other option. An unsatisfactory show could mean he will have to wait for his next chance, which may again come through injury or form issues.

Bright talent who shouldn't go astray

Like Tendulkar, Shaw had been anointed a special talent at a very young age. As a 14-year old, he slammed 546 off 330 balls playing for his school Rizvi Springfield in the Harris Shield, a famous tournament in Mumbai. Back then, it was the record for the highest score in school cricket. In January 2017, he was the man of the match on Ranji Trophy debut as his second-innings hundred led Mumbai to victory over Tamil Nadu in the semi-final at Rajkot. Later in the year, Shaw broke Tendulkar’s record to became the youngest cricketer to score a century on Duleep Trophy debut.

The talented youngster also had the honor of leading India to the U19 World Cup triumph in 2018. In the same season, he made an impression in the IPL as well. Purchased by Delhi Daredevils for Rs 1.2 crore, he contributed 245 runs in nine innings at a strike rate of 153.12. Before one knew, Shaw had made his Test debut, and an incredible fashion. Everything seemed perfect for Shaw until tragedy struck in Australia. The doping ban was a development Shaw could ill-afford so early in his career. However, everyone deserves a second chance. As such, the upcoming Test series in New Zealand can be viewed as Shaw’s shot at redemption.

News Cricket

Jasprit Bumrah’s hilarious reply to RCB’s post leaves fans in splits

Abhishek Singh Updated: 15 February, 2020, 4:59 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Mumbai Indians’ Jasprit Bumrah has trolled the Indian Premier League side Royal Challengers Bangalore for their new logo, saying that it resembles his bowling action. The social media handles of RCB had removed their profile pictures in order to show that the IPL side was on the verge of making some changes and unveiled a new look prior to the 13th season of the cash-rich event.

Jasprit Bumrah compared the new logo of the Kohli-led side on all social media platforms with his bowling action. "Cool logo. Looks like my bowling action as well," Bumrah left a comment on RCB's Instagram post.

It was reported that RCB were on the verge of changing their name but the Kohli-led IPL side only unveiled a new logo. Along with the new logo, the color of the side’s jersey has also been changed.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

If you know, you know. #PlayBold #NewDecadeNewRCB

A post shared by Royal Challengers Bangalore (@royalchallengersbangalore) on

“THIS IS IT. The moment you've been waiting for. New Decade, New RCB, New Logo!”, RCB said in its tweet while marking the beginning of a brand new era. Skipper Kohli was the first among players to come up with a witty response to logo change tweeting, “LOGO ka kaam hai kehna".

News Cricket

There is a lot more cricket left in MS Dhoni - Rajeev Shukla

Garima Kotroo Updated: 15 February, 2020, 4:58 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

While everyone is speculating about MS Dhoni’s era career, former IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla believes he still has a lot of cricket left in him. Shukla said only Dhoni can decide when to hang up his boots.

"Dhoni is a great cricketer and there is a lot more cricket left in him. But, he has to decide when he should take retirement.

Speaking on the subject of Dhoni’s retirement, Shukla also added, “The BCCI has a policy in place that a cricketer has to take a call on when to take retirement."

The rumors about Dhoni’s retirement from limited-overs format have been doing the rounds on social media over the past few months. The exclusion of the former Indian skipper from the BCCI contract list for the 2019-20 season has added more fuel to the fire. The legendary wicketkeeper-batsman is on a break from cricket after India’s exit from the 2019 World Cup semifinals in England.

Dhoni will play in the upcoming edition of Indian Premier League where he will lead the three-time title lifters Chennai Super Kings.

News Cricket

Mayank Agarwal credits Virat Kohli for his double ton, says Virat literally guided him

Abhishek Singh Updated: 15 February, 2020, 4:57 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian opener Mayank Agarwal has said that it was captain Virat Kohli, who motivated him to stay at the crease and not throw his wicket. The Karnataka batsman said that Virat being at the other end was a relief and a confident booster as well.

“Against South Africa when I got a 150, Virat [Kohli] was there at the other end and he said “Nothing short of a 200 will do. You’re batting well, make sure to not just score for yourself but for your team. The team needs to get a bigger score and it’s important for you to be there to help us get that score at a faster pace,” Mayank was quoted as saying in an interview to ESPNCricinfo.

Mayank elaborated on how Kohli kept reminding of his goal- to score the double century. “When I got to 150, it was a reminder from his side that we have spoken about these things. Now you’ve got to go out there and execute because you’re batting well, you’re in the middle, the team’s in a good position and the team requires you to take us through to more,” the 28-year-old further added.

Mayank Agarwal has not looked in good touch in New Zealand and his next assignment is the two-match Test series starting from February 21.

News Cricket

If it wasn’t for my wife’s strictness, I would have wasted my talent drinking a lot: David Warner

Abhishek Singh Updated: 15 February, 2020, 4:55 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Australian opener, David Warner has said that his wife has played a great role in shaping him as a disciplined cricketer.

“I got a bit of a slap to the back of the head. [Candice] was asking me questions like– Why are you not disciplined? Why are you drinking alcohol? Why are you not getting up early when you’re competing?,” Warner told the 98 Podcast as quoted by Daily Mail.

Warner feels that he met his wife Candice at the right time. The Southpaw believes that meeting his wife was one of the amazing things that ever happened to him.

“We met at the right time and if I didn’t make my sacrifices, we probably wouldn’t be where we are today. I had to change and I changed for the better – and I have to credit Candice for that,” Warner added.

The New South Wales man went on to say that it is his family that is at the top of his priority list.

“Cricket is not the priority, the priority is my family and my children. I always feel that cricket gets in the way of my family time. I know Candice is looking after three kids and it’s so rewarding to come home to them,” said Warner.

News Cricket

Shoaib Malik to reveal retirement plans ahead of T20 World Cup

Garima Kotroo Updated: 15 February, 2020, 4:54 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Pakistani skipper, Shoaib Malik has revealed that he will take a call on his international retirement closer to the T20 World Cup this year. The 38-year-old all-rounder said that he is currently focusing on the preparations for an upcoming season of Pakistan Super League starting from February 20.

“The World Cup is still far off and I think right now my focus is on the Pakistan Super League and coming matches for Pakistan. When I get closer to the World Cup I will see what to do.”

Malik has played 113 matches so far in the shortest format and scored 2321 runs with a strike rate of 124.18.

After retiring from the ODI format in 2019, Malik stated that he would also bid adieu in the T20 Internationals prior to the showpiece event in Australia.

“I will have to see my fitness and position in the national side closer to the World Cup than I will make a decision on final retirement.”

Ahead of the PSL 2020, Malik even suggested the national selectors not to pick players on the basis of their poor performances in two or three games in the league and let them perform in few seasons.

“PSL is important for us as it is seen internationally and followed widely by the people and covered extensively by the media. But I would still emphasize don’t select anyone or one or two matches. Criteria should be strong to pick a player for Pakistan. If a player gives some good performances make him play at least two or three seasons and let him perform consistency in them before considering him for selection.”

Feature Cricket

Unruly Under-19 Behavior Needs Watching

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 15 February, 2020, 4:52 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The final of the Under-19 ICC Cricket World Cup in South Africa gave the cricket fraternity a lot to chew on. While it was commendable that Bangladesh’s youth are emerging with a talent to plausibly fill the chasm that currently separates their men’s team from the big league, the fisticuffs between the players of the Indian and Bangladesh teams at the end of the finale left a lot to be said.

The fracas that began in the course of the match spilled over at the end of the match, robbing the final and the tournament the much-needed touting of the horn as it were. With the Bangladesh players’ belligerent with their tails up against India, it did not take long before a few of the Indian under-19 cricketers got themselves embroiled in the unsavory situation.

The whole incident left a bitter taste in the mouth while asking the uncomfortable questions about whether these players were not only talented enough to make the big leagues but also, whether they had the wherewithal to withstand the test of international cricket if their temperaments were so enraged in the course of such an occasion of a World Cup final.

It is a timely parting shot to the tournament that has been now completely overshadowed by the damage this has done. With the Australian cricketers already in a spot of bother over behavior issues, it does not do much to have two other teams find themselves in the mix. Instead of the highlight reel playing up the young players, it is now becoming something of a hushed-up tournament, not only because of an unconventional winner but also, sadly about the note on which it ended.

At a time when the Bangladesh cricket board is at loggerheads with the men’s team and the performances on the field have been indicative of it, it would have been greatly heartening to see the under-19 team get the better of the Indian cricket team. It should have sent shockwaves as well as raised huge headlines about the promising next tier and generation to come. Instead, all of that has now become quips about how the young cricketers need a lesson in behavior and coping skills.

Instead of the performances, the week has been usurped in the wake of the final by the alarm bells going off about the state of the modern cricketers who are these days finding their first brush with international fame through Twenty20 tournaments such as the Indian Premier League, rarely make time for domestic cricket and do not necessarily have the acumen or tools to transition temperamentally to the men’s teams.

If sanctions and inquiries are being initiated or being called upon, it is because while there is little doubt as to the talent of the young men’s teams, there are huge question marks about the sportsmanship quality being ingrained amongst the lot.

News Cricket

Yuzvendra Chahal is a complete leg-spinner - Shoaib Akhtar

Garima Kotroo Updated: 15 February, 2020, 4:50 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar came up with another interesting video on his YouTube channel and showered praise on the Indian spinner, Yuzvendra Chahal.

In his latest video, Akhtar claimed Chahal is a complete leg-spinner who can confuse any batsman with his unique tricks.

Calling Chahal a ‘street smart’ player, the Rawalpindi Express said, “(Ravindra) Jadeja contains, he gets wickets occasionally, Kuldeep (Yadav) didn’t perform well but (Yuzvendra) Chahal was good. He should never be benched. Chahal has some tricks which can confuse the batsmen. He is a complete leg-spinner. He dominates the batsmen, he is street smart.”

Speaking about Chahal’s spin-bowling partner Kuldeep Yadav, Akhtar said, “Kuldeep to me looks to be a bit subdued, he is not playing freely. He was never really in the game, that’s a worrying factor for India. Apart from Chahal, nobody looked like picking wickets in the middle overs.”

Chahal was the only successful player in the Indian bowling unit who took maximum wickets for his side in the three-match ODI series against New Zealand. He scalped six wickets in two ODIs against the Kiwis. However, India lost the series by 0-3 margin. India will play the two-match Test series against New Zealand starting from February 21.

News Cricket

You can’t just ignore his ability to win matches - Shami slams critics for questioning Bumrah

Garima Kotroo Updated: 15 February, 2020, 4:47 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Star Indian pacer Mohammed Shami has backed under-fire teammate Jasprit Bumrah after the world-class bowler was criticized for his disappointing performance in the ODI series against Kiwis. Bumrah went wicket-less in all three ODIs against New Zealand. As a result, the critics had started questioning Bumrah’s place in the Indian side.

While slamming the critics for targeting Bumrah over his form, Shami said people have to sit back and take notes at what Bumrah has done for India in the past few months.

“I can understand we are discussing on a topic (after a certain length of time) not just after 2-4 games. Just because he hasn’t performed in two games, you can’t just ignore his ability to win matches. What Bumrah has achieved for India, how can you even forget that or for that matter ignore it? So if you think positively, then it’s good for the player and his confidence also.”

Shami went on to add, “It is easy to criticize somebody from outside but it takes a lot to make a comeback. Nowadays people are making money by criticizing players. It is fine that people are talking about him but you cannot get to the results only after three-four matches.”