A UEFA study of the Champions League last season suggests speed was a key to Liverpool's title-winning campaign.
Analyzing all 366 goals in the competition, UEFA praised Liverpool for "pace and directness when attacking the opposition" en route to the club's sixth European title.
Liverpool's 24 goals took an average of just 7.81 seconds possessing the ball and 2.51 passes. The overall average for 32 teams' goals was 12.5 seconds and 3.89 passes.
The fast and intense play demanded by Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp and other Premier League teams, including beaten finalist Tottenham, was cited as an important factor.
"The mental and physical resilience of the English participants stood out," UEFA's technical panel said, noting their comebacks in the second leg of their semifinals.
"It seems reasonable to suggest the English calendar offers stern tests more regularly — in terms of high intensity, high tempo games — than Ajax, for example, face in the Eredivisie," the report said, referring to Tottenham's semifinal opponent.
"Similarly those clubs who win their national leagues with large points margins may suffer in the UEFA Champions League owing to the absence of a serious threat that keeps their competitive levels sky-high week in, week out," UEFA's experts said.
In a rare pointed criticism, the report highlighted a lack of work ethic by Barcelona in the 4-0 second-leg loss at Liverpool.
"One UEFA observer suggested that the limited defensive contributions of Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez did not help in the away tie: 'You have to defend with 11 players,'" said the UEFA report, which did not identify the member of its 10-man technical panel.
Liverpool also won an unofficial contest for pure speed in the competition.
The fastest sprint recorded was 34.5 kph (21.4 mph) by defender Virgil van Dijk in the 3-0 first-leg loss at Barcelona.
The top three sprints were all by Premier League players, with Manchester City's Leroy Sané (34.4 kph vs. Hoffenheim) and Kyle Walker (34.2 kph vs. Tottenham) next in line.
Though Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe is recognized for his blistering speed, he did not feature among the fastest sprints in a Champions League game in 2018-19. Former Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku did, measured at 33.3 kph (20.7 mph) against Barcelona.
New Zealand leg spinner, Ish Sodhi has become the highest wicket-taker against India in the T20 International cricket. With two wickets in the opening encounter at Eden Park, Ish Sodhi reached the mark of 13 T20 wickets against India, which is two more than Pakistan’s Umar Gul.
In a match full of boundaries, where all bowlers were taken to the cleaners, Ish Sodhi still managed to pick two wickets. The leg-spinner picked up the wickets of Rahul and Shivam Dube to overtake Gul in the elite list of bowlers with most wickets against India in the shortest format of the game. He was tied on 11 wickets with Gul ahead of the series opener.
Most wickets vs India in T20Is:
13 Ish Sodhi
11 Umar Gul
10 D Chameera/ S Watson/ M Santner
Sodhi finished with figures of 2/36 in his four overs. India chased the par total of 203 runs in Auckland with ease. Rahul, Kohli and Iyer made a useful contribution with the latter seeing India home with an unbeaten half-century. India will now meet New Zealand in the second T20I at the same venue on Sunday.
BCCI President Sourav Ganguly has said that nobody apart from the team management has any say on who is going to be the first choice wicketkeeper in the T20 World Cup. The Bengal Tiger said this in a reply to a question related to team selection, with regard to wicket keepers.
"The selectors, Virat and Ravi (Shastri) will decide that. Whatever they think, it'll happen that way." Said Ganguly.
The former India captain also lauded KL Rahul's work in the limited-overs format and wished the Karnataka batsman will continue the current form even in the longest format of the game.
"He (Rahul) has played well in ODIs and T20Is. He started well in Test cricket but has gone down slightly. But in limited-overs cricket, he has played really well and hopes he continues all the good work but as I said, all these decisions are of the team management's," Ganguly told ABP News.
The Indian team management had decided to hand Rahul the dual role of a 'keeper-batsman' in limited-overs by dropping Pant from the playing XI in the ongoing T20I series against New Zealand. In recent times, Rahul has shown satisfactory work with the glove and has been outstanding with the bat as well.
Indian coach Ravi Shastri has said that he acts like a parrot for team India. Talking about his work routine, Ravi referred to his work manual as being the same as that of a parrot. Ravi said that just like parrots repeat the same thing day in and day out, he too does the same for players.
"Not at all. That is one of the coaches' main job. To be a parrot. You might repeat the same thing day in day out. But that's my job, a reminder. It should be ingrained in you. Muscle memory,” the Indian coach said about his workload of reminding players about basic things that they need to repeat day in and day out.
"You know to tell them the things you have to do, keep letting them know how good they are so that they don't drop guard. I say 'you guys are setting standards. You will set standards for the next generation which will be very hard to beat," Ravi Shastri told the Sportstar.
Further, speaking on Rishabh Pant’s future, Shastri said that the youngster needs to work on his wicket-keeping skills. "He has to work really hard on his wicket-keeping. He is not a natural keeper but he's got all that talent which would go waste if he doesn't work on his keeping. I think he has realized that and if you see him now, he is working extremely hard on his 'keeping as well." Ravi Shastri added.
The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Wasim Khan has that if India doesn’t come for Asia Cup, which is supposed to take in Pakistan, they hold every right to refuse participation in the 2021 T20 World Cup slated to be played in India.
"If India doesn't come to Pakistan for the Asia Cup, we would also refuse participation in the 2021 T20 World Cup there," Khan told reporters in Lahore.
There were rumors circulating that PCB had given up Asia Cup hosting rights to BCB in exchange for Bangladesh series, which the PCB eventually got to host on its soil, after a fruitful intervention from the ICC. But the senior official dismissed it as baseless allegations.
"The hosting rights have been given to us by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) and we can't just hand them over to anyone. We don't have that authority," he said.
Wasim Khan further went on to confirm that a security delegation from Cricket South Africa would visit Pakistan in February to verify Pakistan’s claims of tight security as Pakistan have invited the Proteas for a three-match T20 series in Pakistan in March-April after the conclusion of Pakistan Super League.
He said that a team from Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) would be visiting Lahore to play four matches and the team would include prominent players such as Moeen Ali, Kumar Sangakkara and Ravi Bopara.
India hasn't toured Pakistan since 2008 due to strained political and diplomatic relations. Pakistan did visit India in 2012 to play a short limited-overs series.
It is Cheteshwar Pujara’s birthday today and cricketers and fans from across the country wished team India’s Mr. Dependable in Test matches. But the wish that was most unique came from none other than the ‘God of Cricket’, Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin, the all-time leading run-scorer in Tests and ODIs, took to Twitter to extend his wishes to Team India's mainstay in the Test format Cheteshwar Pujara on his 32nd birthday.
Tendulkar wrote a special message for Cheteshwar Pujara. "To get Pujara out, you need priest's blessings. Happy Birthday, Pujara. Have a great one @cheteshwar1," read the tweet from the Master Blaster in Gujarati.
Apart from Sachin, The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also wished Pujara and called him the "epitome of class, composure, and technique".
"An epitome of class, composure, and technique, here's wishing #TeamIndia batsman @cheteshwar1 a very happy birthday #HappyBirthdayPujara," the had BCCI tweeted.
On the field though, Cheteshwar Pujara did not have a good outing against Bangladesh, as he could only manage 109 runs in the two Tests that he played. Pujara would be a key player for India’s prospects in New Zealand. The Test series would begin on February 21. The right-handed batsman has played just two Tests in New Zealand in which he has scored 60 runs in four innings. This time around, Pujara will be looking to improve those stats.
Pakistan all-Rounder, Shoaib Malik came up with a witty reply to a journalist who asked him about grooming junior players. Playing his first T20I since February last year, Malik made an immediate impact with his unbeaten half-century, helping Pakistan defeat Bangladesh in the first Twenty20 International in Lahore on Friday.
In the post-match press conference, Shoaib Malik was asked about the prospect of grooming Pakistan's coach Misbah-ul-Haq.
"Shoaib, you spoke about grooming youngsters in the team, which is the responsibility of a senior player. So, you are even more senior than your coach (Misbah-ul-Haq), will you groom him as well?" asked a reporter.
Shoaib Malik while replying to the journalist give him a solid lecture on being a complete person and what learning process means. His style was like deft touch, not humiliating, but stilling hitting the right spot of the journalist.
"There is no one in the world who can say that he has learned everything. Sachin Tendulkar couldn't say that or other people couldn't say that they have learned anything. The learning process never ends. A lot of cricketers and coaches have come and gone, a lot happened but the learning process never stopped.
"We go after people very quickly. We want overnight results, which doesn't happen. We need to show some patience and if someone has got a chance then we must wait for a little. I understand, you guys want some masala, everyone wants masala but we need to think about the country as well sometimes," said the former Pakistan captain.
Here is a video of Shoaib Malik's brilliant response to the journalist:
Shoaib Malik's 45-ball 58 not led Pakistan to overhaul a modest 142-run target in 19.3 over to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Shoaib Malik has been in an out of the team in recent times. He last played an ODI in June 2019.
Ajit Agarkar is seen as the front runner in the race of becoming India’s chief selector. Apart from Agarkar, former India leg-spinner turned commentator Laxman Sivaramakrishnan is also in the race.
The other cricketers who have submitted their applications are Rajesh Chauhan, Amay Khurasia, Chetan Sharma, Nayan Mongia, and Abey Kuruvilla.
Apart from these cricketers, former medium pacer Venkatesh Prasad, who has also been Team India’s bowling coach, and has played 33 Tests and 161 ODIs for India, has also applied for the post.
Agarkar could be a strong contender to head the committee, but there are hurdles, which he has to cross. The first among them is the Constitution of the BCCI. The BCCI constitution says, ‘The senior-most Test cap among the members of the committee shall be appointed chairperson’. In that case, among those who have applied, Venkatesh Prasad (33) and Nayan Mongia(44) have played more Test Matches than Agarkar.
Though there is no formal rule, the BCCI follows the convention of replacing a selector with an applicant from the same zone. Agarkar comes from West Zone while the outgoing chief selector was from South Zone. In such a situation Laxman Sivaramakrishnan and Venkatesh Prasad, who come from the south zone have more chances than Agarkar.
But few things also go in favor of the former India all-rounder. Agarkar, with 26 Test caps and 191 ODIs, played for India under then captain Sourav Ganguly, who is the BCCI chief. He also has prior selection experience with Mumbai Cricket Association.
The outgoing chief selector’s tenure had ended in September 2019, but due to a delay in holding the BCCI’s AGM, Prasad had to continue in the post. According to the BCCI’s new constitution, the CAC has the mandate to appoint selectors—it is yet to be formed.
Former India batsman VVS Laxman has expressed gratitude towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who mentioned his historic partnership with Rahul Dravid, during the ‘Pareeksha Pe Charcha’ held in New Delhi last week.
VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid had together stitched a historic 376 run, match-winning partnership against Australia in Eden Gardens, Kolkata in the year 2001. India went to win that match, having faced a follow-on in the first innings.
"Thank you very much Narendra Modiji for sharing the story of historic Kolkata Test Match and inspiring young students. To students preparing for exams, my humble advice would be to be clear about your goals and be determined to make it happen and do not compare yourself with anyone," Laxman said in a tweet.
Pariksha Pe Charcha is an annual event, into its third edition, where the Prime Minister interacts with students across the country. In the recent edition, he reached out to students present at the Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi, face to face and to other students across the country via video conferencing.
"During a Test match played between India and Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, our team was facing setbacks. People were demotivated. But then, nobody can forget the moments when because of the partnership of Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman, we won the match even after given a follow-on," PM Modi had said.
The Prime Minister had also cited former India leg-spinner Anil Kumble's example of playing with a broken jaw against the West Indies in a Test match in 2002.
Indian batsman KL Rahul has certainly hogged the spotlight after his back-to-back flabbergasting innings for Team India. The Karnataka star, who slammed 80 runs off just 52 balls in the second ODI against Australia, shone for his side once again in the first T20I against New Zealand. Rahul was among runs for the Men in Blue in the series-opener at Eden Park, Auckland. He played an important knock of 56 runs off 27 balls before losing his wicket to Kiwi spinner Ish Sodhi in the 10th over.
After India won the game by six wickets against the Black Caps, Rahul was asked about Rishabh Pant selection conundrum in a post-match press conference.
"Do you see Pant coming back into the side and playing in this series?" At this Rahul came up with a most suited reply, "It's not up to me, I mean.”
Speaking about his new wicket-keeping role in the Indian squad, Rahul added, “I am honestly loving it, in the international stage it might look that I am new to wicket-keeping, but I have done this role in the domestic cricket. I have done it for my IPL franchise, I enjoy staying behind the stumps.”
The 27-year-old right-hander has successfully managed to replace Rishabh Pant behind the stumps in the ongoing New Zealand series. All because of his impressive show in the three-match ODI series against Aussie.
India kicked off their tour of New Zealand in memorable fashion, with a six-wicket triumph in the first T20I at Eden Park in Auckland, as India chased down 204 with ease. While KL Rahul (56 from 27) and skipper Virat Kohli (45 from 32) shone brightly again, it was Shreyas Iyer who was the real hero of the match for India. After Rahul and Kohli fell within a couple of overs of each other, and Shivam Dube too could contribute only 13, Iyer ensured that he took India past the winning line with a brilliant unbeaten half-century, a knock that should give him a lot of confidence as it has come away from home.
With his innings of 58 not out from 29 balls, Iyer has raised hopes that he can be the number four for India in T20Is for a longer duration and, perhaps, the finisher India are so desperately seeking. During his unbeaten knock at Auckland on Friday, Iyer demonstrated that he possesses most of the qualities needed to become a successful finisher in T20I cricket. A finisher needs to anchor the innings in case of loss of quick wickets, at the same time ensure that the run-rate does not spiral out of control.
Iyer ticked both of the above boxes during his Eden Park innings. When three wickets fell between the 10th and 14th over, New Zealand were not only right back in the game, but actually gained the upper hand as India had a massive 200-plus target to chase. However, Iyer, who captains Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League, shouldered the responsibility of taking India through and did so successfully. He played some outrageous shots in his quick-fire half-century, which included five fours and three sixes.
Iyer’s knock is significant in the sense that India have been struggling with their middle order for a while now. There was a point in time when India had three of the greatest T20I finishers playing for the same team. However, with MS Dhoni’s big-hitting prowess on the wane, and attacking southpaws Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina running out of favor with selectors, India’s T20I fortunes dripped drastically over the last couple of years. Often, one of the prime reasons for their defeat was the unavailability to get the final push while batting.
If one takes a closer look at India’s T20I performances over the last year, they lost 2-0 to Australia at home. In the first game of the series at Visakhapatnam in February, they could only post 126 on the board despite batting for the entire duration of 20 overs. At Bengaluru against South Africa in September they were restricted to 134, again batting out their full quota. Even Bangladesh registered their maiden T20I triumph against India as they chased down 149 in Delhi in November. A month later, West Indies won by eight wickets at Thiruvananthapuram, chasing 171.
In each of the above defeats, India faltered as they could not score enough runs in the middle and death overs. This has been India’s Achilles heel in both ODIs and T20Is in the last couple of years. While it is too early to conclude that India have found a solution of sorts in Iyer, the signs are definitely encouraging. Although Iyer has only featured in 18 T20Is for India, he is a highly experienced cricket in the format with 3,228 runs in 121 matches at a strike rate of 131.59 with two hundreds and 21 fifties.
If Manish Pandey can get a consistent run in the middle-order, India can have a dangerous finisher trio in Pandey, Iyer and all-rounder Hardik Pandya, once the latter returns from injury. With the World T20 coming up, India must look to work towards strengthening this aspect of their game, and not repeat the obvious mistakes committed during World Cup 2019.
Even the few cricket fans who still doubted whether Shreyas Iyar had slotted in permanently into the No 4 slot in limited-overs cricket must have been convinced of his prodigious talent and proven skill to come good and fix a vexed problem that has troubled Indian cricket for some time after his man of the match performance against New Zealand at Auckland on Friday.
Iyer came in exactly at the halfway mark following the dismissal of KL Rahul. He had not even settled down when Virat Kohli was out seven balls later. The dismissal of the two key wickets galvanized the Kiwis and pressure was back on the Indians. It was a tricky chase for 83 runs were still required in 8.5 overs with two new batsmen at the crease. The Indian team has for long been over-dependent on the top order and there were serious doubts whether the largely untested middle and late order would be up to the task.
And yet Iyer batted so superbly that the match was won with an over to spare. A tricky target became a breeze as he simply tore into the bowling with a series of breathtaking shots. Whether it was the pace of Tim Southee and Hamish Bennett or the spin of Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi Iyer treated them with disdain almost casually hitting five fours and three sixes as he rushed India to the victory target. His 58 off just 29 balls was just the kind of knock the team needed and there is little doubt that Iyer is here to stay.
The batting certainly made up for the bowling though one does not want to be over critical with the short boundaries making it tough going for the bowlers as New Zealand too discovered. One can only hope that Jasprit Bumrah will be fully fit for Sunday after the minor scare of having to receive medical attention in his final over. About the only change, one would like to see is Navdeep Saini taking the place of Shardul Thakur.
As to the victory it certainly was a meritorious one. It isn’t easy to travel halfway across the world and play a T-20 international against New Zealand within a couple of days of arrival and less than a week after playing a tough ODI against Australia at home. Kohli’s tongue in cheek remark that ``it is definitely getting closer and closer to landing at the stadium straight’’ has rightly attracted a lot of attention even if the skipper admits ``that’s how international cricket is these days.’’ Yes, the international schedule is tight but the really tough teams take it in their stride and that is what India did on Friday
One of the contentious side debates making the rounds of England’s tour of South Africa is whether players like South African speedster, Kagiso Rabada, are more susceptible to punitive measures at the hands of the match referees given their past reputation.
One of the more obvious questions surrounding the Wanderers Test, the final Test of the four-Test series, is whether this match will be, in addition to being Vernon Philander’s last match for his home country, also Faf du Plessis’, at least in the Test version of the game. Simultaneously one of the notable absentees on South Africa’s playing line up for the final Test is creating quite the stir.
Kagiso Rabada was not named as part of South Africa’s playing eleven for the fourth and final Test in Johannesburg. That was because Rabada’s celebrations after claiming the wicket of the England captain, Joe Root, were deemed excessive by the match referee resulting in more demerit points that caused him to be banned for one Test match.
This would not be Rabada’s first run-in with the rules of the game. On a previous occasion, two years ago, Rabada found himself out of contention for the third Test against Australia for a similar infringement. These repeated run-ins have proven to be a bit of a headache for the captain and the dressing room in that Rabada is South Africa’s strike bowler, premier wicket-taker in contemporary cricket and their first leading man out of the gate.
With the team having to resort to last-minute measures to accommodate this big loss, it has become a huge talking point, particularly given South Africa’s plight in recent years. While Rabada would have had an honest chat with Mark Boucher, the current head coach of the South African team, this time things have been a little different.
There were many who felt that the only reason Rabada copped this level of punishment was because he was seen celebrating a little too close to the batsman. It might have been a case of Rabada simply having missed that in the heat of the moment. But it is, also, being discussed as something of an overreach on the part of the match referee, inevitably targeting players who have crossed the line before and therefore, earmarked for the future.
That issue has been raised now by Dr. Ali Bacher who has thrown his two cents worth into the ring and burning fire.
To him, the idea of sledging is far more insidious, particularly when it gets personal.
Previously Boucher stated that there was a danger that the characters that made up the game would feel squashed if they were not allowed to express their emotions on the field.
On the face of it, it would seem biased that it is South Africa’s inner circles that are raising these points. However, there is something to be considered – and this has been long agonizing – about how punishment is meted out of players. There is a feeling in South Africa that Jos Buttler was let off easy for his verbal spat with Philander even as Herschelle Gibbs took to social media to reveal how he had felt antagonized by the Pakistan cricket fans for which he was given a three-match ban in his playing days after he had called them ‘animals’.
The degree of when sledging gets too personal, what is more confrontational and what constitutes worthy of punishment has sometimes been a blurred lines with exploratory ideas of using red and yellow cards also being suggested. To have Rabada sit out of the match, which could influence the outcome of the series, seems like a setback for South Africa’s rebuilding plans who will have to curb their bowler on the field in the future if they are to make plans for him and not around him.
The underwhelming performance of Rishabh Pant has become the biggest talking point in international cricket for quite some time now. Ever since the talented batsman KL Rahul donned the gloves in his hands, Pant came under the scanner of fans and cricketers. Interestingly, Rahul’s heroics with both bat and gloves in the ODI series against Australia added more fuel to the fire.
Even the head coach of Team India, Ravi Shastri said that Pant has to work very hard on his wicket-keeping skills if he wants to do well in the international arena. Shastri believes that the young gloveman is not a natural keeper but he has a lot of potential to perform well for his side.
“He has to work really hard on his wicketkeeping. He is not a natural ‘keeper but he’s got all that talent which will go to waste if he doesn’t work on his keeping. I think he has realized that and if you see him now, he is working extremely hard on his ‘keeping as well.”
Pant is currently on a tour of New Zealand with Virat Kohli and the team. Notably, India will play the second T20I against Kane Williamson-led side at the Eden Park in Auckland on January 26.
Indian batsman and hero of the last match, Shreyas Iyer has credited captain Virat Kohli and his senior teammate from Mumbai and the national team, Rohit Sharma for their valuable advice. Shreyas, who took India to the finish line, thanked the two Indian stalwarts for helping him learn the traits of the trade, especially when it comes to finishing matches.
"When you hit a six to finish a match, the feeling is special. My aim is to always finish games whatever time I spend on the pitch. We have players like Virat Bhai, Rohit Bhai who finish games and staying with them helps you learn," Iyer said in a chat with leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal on Chahal TV which was shared by BCCI.
Talking about the mindset during the chase, Iyer said that a partnership was required, hence he and Manish Pandey tried to stitch a small partnership, with a target of one boundary in each over. "We needed one important partnership, the ground was small and in four overs 50 can also be made on this ground, so we decided one boundary an over and then bowler also comes under pressure," said Shreyas.
Iyer finished the match with a six and took India to a six-wicket win over the Kiwis. "It feels good to finish the match and that too by hitting a six," he added.
Indian head coach Ravi Shastri came up with another big statement on the future of MS Dhoni in international cricket. The 57-year-old veteran claimed that the upcoming edition of IPL will be the most crucial event for Dhoni and everyone including the selectors and skipper Virat Kohli will get to know about how the legendary wicketkeeper-batsman will take the things forward.
During his most recent interview with Sportstar, Shastri said, “Exactly what I wanted to ask you. There is an IPL coming. Uske baad tum dekho. What I'm trying to tell the people is he is the last person to impose himself on anything. You know him. I know him. For years, you know that he's been dead honest when it comes to things of that sort, like when he gave up Test cricket. There was nothing of 100 Tests because he is not the guy who will impose on himself. I don't know if he started practicing as yet or not, but I'm sure if he's keen on the IPL, everything will come out now and he will be ready. For all you know, he may start the IPL, if he doesn’t feel good he’ll say ‘Thank you very much’.”
The 38-year-old right-handed batsman played his last international game in the 2019 World Cup semifinals where Team India faced a disappointing defeat against New Zealand at the Old Trafford cricket ground.
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