``We play tennis. He plays something else’’ an exasperated opponent once exclaimed after being outplayed by Bjorn Borg at the height of the peerless Swede’s career in the 70s and early 80s when he won five consecutive Wimbledons and six French Open crowns. Three times in a row did Borg win the French and Wimbledon titles in 1978, 1979 and 1980 narrowly missing the feat in 1981 when he lost to John McEnroe in the Wimbledon final after winning his sixth title at Roland Garros a truly phenomenal achievement considering the vast change in the surfaces.
Opponents frustrated time and again by the genius of Rafael Nadal on clay courts could well say the same thing. Here is a man who has won the French Open title 12 times. No player has won any single Grand Slam title that many times. Of course unlike Borg who never won the Australian Open in which he hardly participated and the US Open where he was runner-up four times Nadal has won all the four Grand Slams and with 18 such titles he is snapping at the heels of Roger Federer who has a record 20.
The latest triumph is a tribute to Nadal’s fighting qualities for which he is well known. He didn’t have the best start to the clay court season being beaten in the semifinals at Monte Carlo, the Barcelona Open and the Madrid Open. But clawing his way back on his favourite surface he returned to his winning ways at the Italian Open defending his title by defeating world no 1 Novak Djokovic in the final. This put him in a confident frame of mind for the French Open where he brooked no opposition. The manner in which he outplayed Roger Federer in the semifinal handing him one of his worst defeats in a Grand Slam was straight out of the fiction books and this was followed by a victory over Dominic Thiem of Austria in the title clash. Theim along with Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece are the two fast rising players on the ATP circuit. But for the second successive year Thiem had to finish runner-up to Nadal, undoubtedly the greatest clay court player of all time.
While Thiem and Tsitsipas continue to win ATP Tour tournaments and rise in the rankings they are unable to challenge the Big Three when it comes to Grand Slam titles. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic between them have won the last ten Grand Slams and for Wimbledon Djokovic despite his semifinal loss to Thiem at Roland Garros must still be favourite closely followed by Nadal and Federer. The challengers may have to wait for their first Grand Slam title.
One of the concerns coming out of the day and night Test at the Eden Gardens was the ability of the batsmen to be able to pick the pink ball. While it got a commentator and a former-cricketer-turned-commentator into a tangent of a debate, Gavaskar’s comments about the Bangladesh players brought back arguments that went against the runner. So, is the concussion substitute short-lived?
The runner was a fact of cricket until recently. Much like the concussion substitute – Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne became the first such player in the course of the Ashes series in England, the runner would come in for a batsman hampered by an injury having incurred on the field. Only difference is that while the runner himself only ran between the wickets for the indisposed batsman, the concussion substitute player is allowed to bat in lieu of the retired player who is put under observation for concussion’s delayed after effects.
The runner, however, ran into trouble in recent years with distinguishing lines blurring over whether a particular batsman was entitled to a runner, whether the injury was sustained on the field, whether the degree of injury actually warranted a runner and whether a team was merely exploiting the opportunity to have someone ring up the scoreboard by running quickly between the wickets. The counter argument though was that the introduction of runner was also something of a comic relief, with a run out opportunity not far in the offing and therefore, adding an added element of entertainment and excitement into the game.
While the Indian fast bowlers did quick work of the Bangladesh batsmen at the Eden Gardens – the first innings barely getting into the tricky twilight period, the fact that too many Bangladesh players were getting hit became something of concern. Eventually as the concussion substitutes began to make their way onto the field, it got the goat of Sunil Gavaskar, India’s former captain, prolific batsman and now commentator and columnist.
While Gavaskar’s comments about Virat Kohli’s statements about India’s winning culture under Sourav Ganguly were well documented, the fact that Gavaskar was suspicious of the Bangladesh players using the concussion substitute argument raised eyebrows in fewer circles.
For one, following the untimely demise of Australia’s Phil Hughes in a domestic match after being hit on the head by a rising ball in 2014, there has been a huge concern about safety of all players as well as umpires on the field, not just the batsmen. That has been brought home even more for the timing of the year when Hughes lost his life under unfortunate circumstances.
Although Hughes was not the first player to suffer a fatal injury on the field – Raman Lamba’s name comes instantly to mind, it raised debate in light of the fact that Twenty20 has been encouraging in a big way the idea that batsmen could take reckless chances, sacrifice technique, put themselves in harm’s way as well as threaten injury to the bowler, fielders and umpires on the field with the kind of explosive batting being considered lucrative for run scoring as well as for attracting exponential financial increments.
Secondly, with concussion having become a huge debate and not just in cricket, it seemed somewhat blaze on the part of the former captain to almost reduce the idea of a concussion substitute as something of a mockery, a loophole to be exploited.
While as a former player himself, Gavaskar might know a thing or two about players around the world ducking the opportunity to face up to a challenge by finding an escape route, if what he is suggesting is a similar ploy being used by Bangladesh’s cricketers, it is tantamount to shortchanging the game and it will need looking into. These are not statements to be made lightly or to be ignored. The insinuations are particularly dire.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli recently came forward in defence of the young cricketer Rishabh Pant amid his comparison with MS Dhoni and Wriddhiman Saha. Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI President, feels Pant should face the ongoing scrutiny to become a strong player in the near future.
"If I were Virat Kohli, I would just let him go through it, let him hear it and find ways to succeed. Everybody must remember that you don't get MS Dhoni's every day. MS Dhoni also, when he started, was not MS Dhoni. It will take Rishabh Pant also close to 15 years to be even close to what MS Dhoni is today”.
The 22-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, Pant was given the responsibility to fill the big void left by MS Dhoni’s absence. But the youngster has failed in the past tournaments.
As a result, Pant is facing heavy criticism for his poor performance with the bat and gloves.
Sourav Ganguly and Ravi Shastri were at loggerheads when Anil Kumble was preferred over the latter in the race of India's head coach position. However, with Kumble's resignation, Shastri was appointed as the head coach of Team India. With Sourav Ganguly's elevation as the new president of BCCI, it seems ice is melting between the two.
Ravi Shastri was full of praise for Sourav Ganguly. "I think it is fantastic. I was one of the first to congratulate him when he became the President because I was delighted that more important than anything a BCCI was back in place to put Indian cricket where it belongs both on and off the field. And I was even more delighted that a cricketer should be at the helm at this important phase of Indian cricket," Ravi Shastri had told IANS.
When Sourav Ganguly was asked about his relationship with Ravi Shastri, he said: "That's why it's speculation. I don't have an answer to it. It's pretty simple. It's about performance. You perform, you continue or else somebody else would take over. It's a simple formula," Ganguly said at the India Today's East Conclave in Kolkata.
T-20 cricket is how most of the young talent today makes their way through to the higher echelons of ODIs and Test matches. Jasprit Bumrah is a classic case of a cricketer who first created a favourable impression in the shortest format of the international game before going on to achieve fame in the two other formats. Sure, there are a few who could be termed as Test specialists like Cheteshwar Pujara but by and large the more systematic approach is to groom youngsters in T-20 cricket first and see whether they are good enough to make to ODIs and Tests.
That is probably one reason why India are not ranked that high in T-20 internationals as they are in Tests where they are No 1 or ODIs where they are No 2. India are ranked No 5 in T-20s because as Virat Kohli put it on Thursday they have been experimenting in getting the combination right for the World Cup to be held in Australia in about ten months time. As the captain said the selectors and the team management have to see which players can make the transition to coming good in international cricket and the three-match series against West Indies starting on Friday is another opportunity to get the right playing combination for the mega event.
As is well known T-20 is a format in which any team can win on a given day. Rankings matter very little and so one should not read too much into the West Indies being as low as 10th in the ICC rankings. True, the head to head record ( 8 – 5) is in favour of India and the home advantage will always be there. It is also true that West Indies are taking on India after having just gone down to Afghanistan 2-1. It must also not be forgotten that India blanked West Indies in their own backyard a few months ago. Indeed it is hard to believe how the mighty have fallen for the West Indies are the reigning World T-20 champions and the only team to have won the event twice. But then they are a mercurial lot and one can never really write them off particularly in this format in which they have produced some of the leading lights of world cricket.
Even the current side has a lot of exciting players and it is just a case of getting their act together. And if there is one player who can inspire them to perform above their potential it is Kieron Pollard. The 32-year-old captain is one of the leading T-20 stars in the game and has regaled audiences the world over while plying his trade for the various franchisees. He is very popular in India being a stalwart for many years in the IPL while representing Mumbai Indians. And keeping in mind the format and what the West Indies are capable of (they did defeat India in the World T-20 semifinal in Mumbai in 2016) one would like to think that the contest will be close despite the head to head record and the disparity in the rankings.
Ace Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is missing from Team India in the shortest format of the game, but he is a star in the carnival of Indian Premier League. Having played for the popular franchises like Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), Ashwin has made his special place in the glitzy tournament.
After playing many IPL seasons for MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings, Ashwin was given the responsibility of leading the Punjab outfit in 2018. Despite putting in his best efforts, Ashwin failed to make a mark as Kings XI Punjab failed to qualify for the playoffs in the last two editions.
The 33-year-old right-hander claimed that the owners of Kings XI Punjab blamed him for not steering his team to the playoffs but he subtly accepted all the allegations made by the owners. "There are other factors, the owners did feel I haven’t delivered which is true because I could not take the team through to the playoffs in both the seasons. You can give excuses why we could not do that, but I am someone who takes it under my chin and admits that ‘yes I couldn’t deliver."
The experienced cricketer, who dominated the headlines in IPL season 12 for mankading Jos Buttler, has now joined the squad of Delhi Capitals for the next edition. He will now play alongside the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Ishant Sharma and Shreyas Iyer.
Jasprit Bumrah has carved a niche for himself since making his international debut against Australia. The Indian pacer is one of the best fast bowlers at the moment and has made his performance count across formats. Be it any format, Bumrah has taken a lot of wickets in a short span of time. He is currently recovering from a stress fracture and is expected to return against New Zealand in 2020.
He has been phenomenal for his national team and has earned respect of his rivals as well.
On the occasion of his birthday, his IPL franchise Mumbai Indian posted a cheeky wish for their player. The Mumbai based team took a dig at Abdul Razzaq comment where he had termed Bumrah a baby bowler.
“From a ‘baby bowler’ to a world-beater #BoomBoozled #OneFamily #CricketMeriJaan #MumbaiIndians @Jaspritbumrah93,” tweeted the four-time IPL champions.
In one of his recent interviews, Razzaq had told cricketpakistan.com.pk, "After having faced the world-class bowlers in my time, I would have had no problem against a bowler like Bumrah. The pressure would have been on him. I have played against great bowlers like Glenn McGrath and Wasim Akram. So Bumrah is a baby bowler in front of me and I could have easily dominated and attacked him.”
While Virat Kohli and team are gearing up to play the thrilling T20I opener against West Indies at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, the former Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin is preparing for the inauguration of a new stand which will be named after him before the match.
The current president of Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) will now have a stand on his name above the VVS Laxman pavilion in Hyderabad.
The new stand is expected to be inaugurated by the legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar on Friday.
Before the match gets underway, the HCA will also organise a small felicitation ceremony at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium to honour the former Hyderabad players who have represented Team India in world cricket and performed well for their country.
One of the most successful captains of India, Azharuddin has played a total of 99 Tests and 334 ODIs in his great career stint. He was elected as the chief of Hyderabad Cricket Association in September 2019.
On the match front, India are looking forward to edge past the Caribbean players in the three-match T20I series on home soil.
India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has praised the Telangana Chief Minister and police for killing all the four men accused of raping and murdering a 26-year old doctor.
The accused were taken to the spot for reconstruction of the crime scene but they attacked police personnel, leading to firing from the cops, which resulted in the death of four men.
The action taken by the police was praised from one of the leading cricketers in India.
"Well done @TelanganaCMO and police for showing this is how it is done no one should dare doing something like this again in future," Harbhajan tweeted on Friday.
Earlier, Bhajji had demanded strong action against the culprits after he came to know about the brutal killing of a noble soul.
“Shame on all of us we keep letting these things happens again nd again butnothing 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.
Kedar Jadhav got brutally trolled by India's limited-overs vice-captain Rohit Sharma for sharing some of his pictures on Instagram from the practice session.
Jadhav can be seen in stylish poses, donning sunglasses, cap, and cricket gear in his Instagram post.
"Feels good to be back on the field and do what I like to do," Jadhav captioned the pictures.
However, Rohit was not impressed with the Indian all-rounder wasting time in getting his poses clicked. He advised Jadhav to focus on batting rather than posing.
"Pose kam maar, batting karle thoda (Strike less pose, focus on Batting)," Rohit Sharma commented on Jadhav’s post.
Indian spin all-rounder Kedar Jadhav is gearing up to play against West Indies in the ODI series after failing to perform continuously since the World cup campaign in England this year.
In five games of the 50-over World cup, Jadhav could only accumulate total of 80 runs for Virat Kohli-led India. Jadhav continued the same form against West Indies as he contributed 16 and 19 in two matches.
However, Jadhav had a great domestic season which kept his place safe in the Indian ODI squad, but he will have to replicate the same performance against West Indies too to cement his place in Team India.
India, led by Virat Kohli, will face West Indies in the opening match of the three-match T20I series on December 6.
India have failed to perform in the shortest format of the game. Despite home to one of the best T20 leagues in the world, Men in Blue haven't been able to find right combination across departments. The impact has been severe on their rankings where they are ranked fifth in the world. Ahead of the first T20Is against Windies, Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, was asked about India's shortcoming in this format of the game.
The skipper stated that they are working to solve their inability to defend totals. He further added that rankings are of least importance as team management is more interested in giving chances to young talent.
“We need to focus on batting first and defending low totals as well. Those are two things that we need to really focus on. T20 is a format where you can experiment a lot more than ODIs and Tests. You want to give chances to the youngsters in the shortest format, we have not played the strongest eleven together in T20Is so rankings cannot be considered. We have the mindset that we will not focus on the rankings,” Kohli said in the pre-match conference as quoted by NDTV Sports.
India will field their strongest side in the remaining matches before the T20 World Cup in 2020. “Now heading into the T20 World Cup, we need to take our best team to the field, we would probably be playing our strongest eleven going into the World Cup,” he added.
Ahead of their enthralling T20I opener against Kieron Pollard and team, Men in Blue are looking confident of scripting another series win at home. In the upcoming three-match T20I series, Virat Kohli-led squad is aiming to iron out their flaws. India haven’t done well in T20 format, but players are optimistic of a good show against the World Champions.
Virat Kohli has showered praise on Ravindra Jadeja. The skipper feels Jadeja is in the best phase of his career at the moment.
Speaking to the press before his team’s match against Windies, Virat Kohli lauded Jadeja‘s efforts.
“I think it is really his best phase as an all-rounder and we want to maximize that.”
The 31-year-old all-rounder was preferred over Krunal Pandya, who was axed after failing to contribute in the past series. Ravindra Jadeja is now looking forward to cement his spot in the Indian cricket team ahead of T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia.
With Virat making it clear that only one spot is left in the pace unit for next year’s showpiece event, it seems India have almost finalized its squad.
Former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir is willing to invest INR 100 crore to become one of the co-owners of the Delhi Capitals.
He is negotiating to buy a 10% stake from the GMR group who have 50% stakes in the Delhi based franchise.
“The matter has been discussed for the last few months and it is only a matter of days,” a source said.
According to sources, the deal is almost done and the official statement will be made after the signing of agreement between the parties involved.
However, Gambhir has not revealed anything about the development yet, but the team has confirmed that the talks are on and negotiations have been good.
Gambhir had featured in two franchises as captain - Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders. Under his captaincy, Kolkata Knight Riders won their first IPL title in 2012 after beating MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings. In 2014, Gambhir led the Knight Riders to their second IPL title.
Gambhir was also successful as a batsman in the cash rich league. The left-handed opener Gambhir accumulated 4217 runs with the help of 36 half-centuries.
After their humiliating defeat in the recently concluded Test series against Australia, Pakistan were highly criticized by their fans across the world. The green army were not able to win a single game in front of the aggressive Aussies despite the commendable efforts of Babar Azam.
Along with many cricket celebrities, the former Australia skipper Ian Chappell has also slammed the Pakistani squad for their poor performance in Australia.
While taking about Pakistan’s appalling record Down Under, Chappell said, “Talent wise they're better than 14 straight losses. They were abysmal this time. This is probably the worst of the lot.” He even claimed that Australia should stop inviting them after such a disappointing tour.
Earlier, the former Pakistani speedster, Shoaib Akhtar had also condemned the team for its flop show on the Australian pitches. He claimed that Pakistani bowlers looked clueless and had no idea on how to take wickets against the Aussies. Even the legendary cricketer Wasim Akram showed his frustration on Pakistan’s continuous failures in Australia.
The team led by Azhar Ali will face Sri Lanka in a two-match Test series starting from December 11 in Pakistan.
After Abdul Razzaq’s back-to-back controversial comments on the Indian cricketers, Irfan Pathan has given a befitting reply to former Pakistani all-rounder. The 35-year-old left-hander has joined the bandwagon of players who have spoken against him for his continuous laughing remarks on social media. Razzaq is hogging all the limelight for his comments on the Indian players.
While he called Bumrah a "baby bowler", Razzaq even took a dig at Virat Kohli.
"Look at Virat Kohli when he scores he scores. Yeah, he is a good player for them and is performing consistently, but I don't place him in the same class as Sachin Tendulkar, who was a different class altogether."
Irfan Pathan was furious with his words and decided to teach him a lesson. He ripped apart Razzaq on Twitter and took a hilarious dig at him.
“Irfan jese bowlers hamari gali gali mein paae jate hay' par jab jab ye galli bowler inke samne khela har baar inki gilliyan nikal ke rakh di,” he wrote.
He also urged his fans to ignore the unnecessary comments made by Razzaq.
The entertaining banter between former Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar and popular actor Ali Zafar has finally come to an end. The 44-year-old legendary pacer Akhtar, who was locked in the war of words with Ali Zafar on social media, accepted the challenge of young singer for a one-on-one cricket match .
Both of them had a friendly feud on Twitter and after a series of tweets, they finally slug it out on the field against each other. In that nerve-wrecking battle, Akhtar was seen in his usual form as he delivered the toe-crushing yorker to Zafar which rattled his stumps.
In his reply, Zafar also tried his best to derail the Rawalpindi Express and he shattered the iconic fast-bowler with a deadly bouncer.
Check out the latest video of Shoaib Akhtar- Ali Zafar's friendly cricket match.
Here’s see what Shoaib Akhtar said to Ali Zafar in a hilarious tweet-war.
Zafar was also quick to respond.
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