Speculation is the name of the game

Partab Ramchand Updated: 17 June, 2020, 4:17 PM IST

Whatever predictions that are made right now about the immediate future of cricket can only be in the realm of speculation. Everything is so uncertain with the coronavirus refusing to abate. In fact, the cases and the death count keep rising by the day in various parts of the world. Given this grim and cheerless scenario, it is no surprise that players, officials, and administrators can only talk in terms of perhaps and maybes.

Among the discussions on various competitions the T-20 World Cup, the IPL and the Indian team’s tour of Australia predictably take pride of place. International cricket is set to resume with the England – West Indies Test series next month but even with that contest there is a lot to be done regarding security measures and quarantine with the focus also being on the changes implemented by the ICC and how these will be carried out. In a way, the matches will showcase the immediate future of cricket and how tours and tournaments will be conducted for the rest of the year at least.

It is clear that the BCCI will not give up hopes of conducting the IPL this year. They are looking out for any window – be it dates or venue. The first such opportunity was seen in the possible postponement of the T-20 World Cup wherein it was discussed that the IPL could be squeezed in through the October – November window. Then followed debates about the venue. India was clearly the first choice but if it could not be held because of the continuing coronavirus threat then the United Arab Emirates and Sri Lanka emerged as alternative venues. Then there was the question of timing with Sunil Gavaskar saying that there could be a realistic chance of conducting a truncated IPL in Sri Lanka from early September. His contention was that Australia might end up hosting the World Cup after having successfully flattened the Covid-19 curve. The IPL has been held abroad before with South Africa hosting the tournament in 2009 and the UAE hosting part of it five years later.

Then there is the issue of which is to get priority – the World Cup or the IPL with Allan Border for one saying that if the former could not be held the latter should also not be staged. Ian Chappell is of the view that India will have its way and will go through with the IPL come what may. On his part, Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts admitted last week that the conduct of the World Cup was ``at a very high risk’’ while adding that there was ``a nine in ten chance’’ that the Indian tour of Australia will take place while CA chairman Earl Eddings has conceded that conducting the World Cup appears to be ``unrealistic’’

Meanwhile India has called off tours to Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Sri Lanka and there is no guarantee there will not be more such cancellations in the near future. Yes, everything is quite fluid right now in the world of cricket and nothing can be stated categorically.

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IPL 2020: 5 reasons why MS Dhoni has become a liability this season

Vedant Yadav Updated: 21 October, 2020, 9:08 AM IST

Former India captain and legendary batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni surprised fans by announcing his retirement from international cricket, earlier this year.

Dhoni is currently leading the Chennai Super Kings in the ongoing IPL 2020 in the United Arab Emirates. However, the 39-year-old has is yet to hit the ground running in the cash-rich league.

Dhoni has scored just 164 runs in 10 matches, so far, this season, with his highest score being 47 *. Dhoni has a strike rate is 125.19, and a below-par average of just over 27. His form has reflected in the side's inability to get results, with just three wins from7 games, so far.

So, here are 5 reasons why MS Dhoni has become a liability this season.

1. Lack of Match Practice

Before taking the field in the IPL opener against Mumbai Indians, MS Dhoni didn't play a single game for more than a year. His last appearance came during India's World Cup semi-final defeat to New Zealand, last year. Despite that, he joined the CSK camp without any match practice.

2. Lack of Match Fitness

The 39-year-old, MS Dhoni, isn't getting any younger and this has badly affected his match-fitness, so far, this season. Though the wicket-keeper batsman has maintained his body shape, running between the wickets has been an issue for him this season. Even the CSK medical team had to come on and assist Dhoni, who earlier revealed that he had breathing issues, out there.

3. Playing conditions hasn't been favorable

Amidst the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is being played in UAE, under a bio-secure bubble. MS Dhoni hasn't played much cricket in the Middle-East country and the slow-tracks, especially in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, hasn't been of any help.

4. Tactics have been predictable

The three-time champions have struggled so far this season, with just three wins in ten outings, and firmly rooted to the bottom of the table, with 6 points from a possible 20. Known as the 'Captain Cool', Dhoni hasn't been able to live up to his expectation. His team selection and decision making has been badly criticized, and rightly so. Moreover, many believe that his bias towards some players has been a big reason for their downfall.

5. Failure to handle pressure

Over the years, fans have been accustomed to CSK success in IPL, mainly due to the presence of Dhoni, as a captain, as well as a batsman, who can his take his team to victory, from the jaws of defeat. However, before the start of the ongoing IPL campaign, no one would've imagined CSK to be in this situation. Dhoni has misfired, but the form of other players has only piled up the misery.

IPL 2020 Game 38 Review: 3 mistakes that cost DC the match against KXIP 

Renin Wilben Albert Updated: 21 October, 2020, 12:08 AM IST

Kings XI Punjab continued their stunning comeback in IPL 2020, defeating table-toppers Delhi Capitals by five wickets in the 38th match of IPL 2020 at Dubai on Tuesday. Batting first after winning the toss, Delhi could only post 164 for 5 on the board despite Shikhar Dhawan’s record second consecutive century in the IPL. Kings XI Punjab lost their in-form openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal cheaply in the chase. However, the middle-order came to Punjab’s rescue and pulled them over the line as KXIP won their third game in a row. With Delhi suffering a setback, we take a look at three factors that cost them the match.

1. Shikhar Dhawan’s one-man show for DC

Delhi opener Shikhar Dhawan continued his stupendous form for the team. Having led the batting with a wonderful hundred against Chennai, the left-hander played yet another dominant innings to become the first player to score back-to-back hundreds in IPL history. He faced half the balls of Delhi’s innings -- 61 to be precise -- and remained unbeaten on 106. Dhawan slapped 12 fours and three sixes in his memorable innings. However, Dhawan’s innings was in stark contrast to the rest of Delhi’s batting.

While Dhawan made 106 not out, Delhi could only post 164 on the board. In other words, the rest of the batting could only total 58 runs. Struggling opener Prithvi Shaw yet again fell early, making only seven. Skipper Shreyas Iyer also could not support Dhawan as he was dismissed caught down the leg for 14 from 12 balls. The other big names in the Delhi batting order, Rishabh Pant and Marcus Stoinis, also failed. As a result, there was not a single decent partnership in the Delhi innings, and Dhawan was left to do all the scoring on his own.

2. Nicholas Pooran’s missed run out

Delhi had their moments in the field, but could not utilise them to the fullest. They got off to an impressive start with the ball, with left-arm spinner Axar Patel sending back in-form KXIP skipper KL Rahul cheaply. Nicholas Pooran and Mayank Agarwal were then involved in a terrible mix-up, resulting in the latter being run-out for 5, and also hurting himself. He had to, in fact, limp off the field.

In the eighth over, Delhi had another opportunity to put KXIP on the backfoot. But, they fluffed up the chance. On the fifth ball of the over, Pooran and Glenn Maxwell were involved in a major mix-up. Pooran tapped one and set off for a single, only to be sent back by Maxwell. The throw from short cover was slightly off-mark, but Rishabh Pant had enough time to gather the ball while diving and flick it on to the stumps. Pant did the same, but could not hit the stumps. Pooran survived and went on to hammer Delhi with a 28-ball 53. Pant’s miss went on to become a massive game-changing moment.

3. Tushar Deshpande’s 26-run over

With KXIP having lost their prolific run-getter and skipper Rahul early, Delhi had a chance to build pressure on Punjab. For that, they needed to get their best bowler up against new man Chris Gayle. The answer here would obviously have been experienced offie Ravichandran Ashwin. Shreyas Iyer, however, preferred to go with the relatively inexperienced pacer Tushar Deshpande, and had to pay a heavy price for the same.

Bowling the fifth over of the innings, Desphande’s friendly medium pace was easily attacked by Gayle as a massive 26 runs came off the over. Deshpande bowled gentle short of the length deliveries and slower balls, but it was all too easy for the West Indian, who hammered the bowler for three fours and two sixes. Brought into the attacks soon after, Ashwin immediately foxed Gayle, but the damage had been done.

Lalchand Rajput says no to tour of Pakistan

Mohd Asim Updated: 20 October, 2020, 11:22 PM IST

Zimbabwe head coach and former Indian cricketer Lalchand Rajput has been exempted from visiting Pakistan after the Indian embassy intervened and stopped the former player from travelling to Pakistan. He was appointed as Zimbabwe’s full-time coach in August 2018. Lalchand Rajput has represented India in two Tests and four One Day Internationals.

A statement from Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) read that Rajput has been kept away from the tour of Pakistan on the request of the Indian government representatives.

The Pakistan Embassy in Harare had already issued a visa for him but he was stopped at the last moment.

Douglas Hondo will coach the team for the three-match ODI and T20I series.

“@Lalchandrajput7 will miss the @TheRealPCB tour after the Embassy of India in Harare wrote to @ZimCricketv asking that he be exempted from visiting Pakistan. The Embassy of Pakistan in Harare had issued a visa to Rajput,” the ZC tweeted.

“With @Lalchandrajput7 unavailable, @ZimCricketv has appointed bowling coach Douglas Hondo to take charge of the team for the three ODIs and as many T20Is games against @TheRealPCB,” the other tweet read.

According to a report in ESPNCricinfo, he was stopped citing “travel guidelines of the Indian government for its citizens”. India and Pakistan are at loggerheads due to political issues.

Shah Rukh Khan wants Rahul Tripathi to score 158. Here is why

Mohd Asim Updated: 20 October, 2020, 10:51 PM IST

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) co-owner and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan is known for his humour. The legendary actor was at his hilarious best during KKR’s fan anthem launch on Facebook Live while talking to players.

Speaking to Shah Rukh Khan, KKR opener Rahul Tripathi spoke about Brendon McCullum's 158 on the opening night of IPL in 2008.  The right-handed batsman had hit had 10 fours and 13 sixes in his innings

“I am very happy and it’s been really wonderful and just one and a half months and all great memories for me. From my childhood, it was my dream to play for KKR. The way Brendon McCullum scored his 158 runs and you (Shah Rukh Khan) waving from the stands so it was something very special,” Rahul Tripathi told Shah Rukh.

Shah Rukh Khan pulled Rahul’s legs and stated that he wants to see 158 coming from his bat in the next match.

“You still have to score 158 runs, Rahul, I am still waving like that, you are not scoring like that yet,” SRK said.

Brian Lara heaps praise on Indian batsman 

Mohd Asim Updated: 20 October, 2020, 10:49 PM IST

Legendary West Indies batsman Brian Lara has praised KL Rahul for the way he has batted in the ongoing Indian Premier League and across formats in international cricket.

The skipper of Kings XI Punjab, who couldn't score much in the last night game against Delhi Capitals, is still the leading run-scorer in the 13th edition of the tournament. Apart from a couple of centuries, he has also hit a well-compiled hundred against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

“He’s my test batsman, he’s my 50-over batsman and he’s my T20 batsman,” Lara said on Star Sports after KXIP beat Mumbai Indians.

“As a captain he has done very well. I love the way he bats, love the way he puts them together. Yes he struggled to finish off matches towards the beginning but now he’s looking to improve that too,” Lara said.

This is not the first time Lara has lauded KL Rahul. He had earlier hailed his batting technique.