Wasim Akram to support his second home in the finale

Staff Writer Updated: 13 July, 2019, 3:37 PM IST


Wasim Akram was the star of the show when Pakistan defeated England in the finale of the World Cup in 1992. With England gunning for their first World Cup title, the former Pakistan pacer has decided to support them against New Zealand.

According to Akram, England has been his second home for 30 odd years and hence his loyalty lies with the English team at the moment.

“The World Cup hosts 2 countries that are home to so many Pakistanis, which makes my decision on who to support difficult. But England has been a second home to me for 30 odd years so my decision to support England is where my heart is at. What about you?” Tweeted Akram.

England, who were the favourites before the start of the tournament, were undone by Pakistan, Australia and Sri Lanka in the group matches. They would have missed the top four finish had they lost to India but timely improvement not only booked their place in the knockout stage but also carried them through to their first finale after 27 years.

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News Cricket

I really enjoy the competition that South Africa always brings - Ben Stokes

AP Updated: 28 January, 2020, 10:13 AM IST


Stokes made 318 runs in the four tests, with one century and a half-century, and took 10 wickets and collected plenty of sharp catches at second slip. Another high-quality showing earned him the man of the series, during which he was crowned international cricketer of the year.

“It's always such a competitive series,” Stokes said. “I just think I really enjoy the competition that South Africa always brings.”

Van der Dussen's exit was the beginning of the end but Stuart Broad produced the ball of the day, a fierce, rising delivery in the direction of Temba Bavuma's throat that Bavuma gloved behind. De Kock went down swinging, hitting six fours and a six before Wood forced him to mistime one.

There was a nice moment when South Africa seam bowler Vernon Philander was out. It was Philander's final test before retiring from international cricket and he'd been struck down by a right hamstring tear the day before. He still came out to bat and England players lined up to shake his hand as he walked off.

The series also had fiery moments; Four players, including Philander and Stokes, were fined for swearing at opponents — or in Stokes' case a fan — or for provocative wicket celebrations. Du Plessis and Broad had a verbal confrontation on the last day.

“We all obviously fight hard on the park but at the end of the day we remain, gentlemen,” Philander said, appreciating England players' efforts to congratulate him on his career.

This tour was dubbed England's ‘Tour of Hell’ at the beginning because of the illness and injury woes but it's turned out to be heavenly, with triumph and the emergence of a new breed of youngsters that contributed heavily to the success.

“The sky’s the limit right now,” Root said. “I do think we are very much at the start of something and we’ve got to look to keep learning to keep getting better.”

News Cricket

'Very special win': Joe Root on England's Test series victory in South Africa

AP Updated: 28 January, 2020, 10:12 AM IST


England blew through South Africa's resistance quickly, in the end, to win the fourth and final test by 191 runs on Monday for a convincing 3-1 series victory and its best performance in the country in more than 100 years.

South Africa was all out for 274 on the fourth day at the Wanderers, way off the huge target of 466.

The home team didn't come close as England took two wickets in the first session, two right at the end of the second, and then ran through the rest of South Africa in dominant fashion to win with a day to spare.

Joe Root said through the series that victory would be the most significant in his three-year reign as England captain. He has what he wanted.

Yet a month ago, England was 1-0 down in the series, struggling to recover from a flu-like virus that swept through the squad, and rocked by series-ending injuries to opening batsman Rory Burns and fast bowlers James Anderson and Jofra Archer.

The turnaround was incredible. England won three tests in a row, all by big margins.

“Very special indeed,” Root said. “It’s taken a lot. Obviously you look at the first game and where we were there, and to pick ourselves up and play the way we have done in the last three games is extremely pleasing. It’s taken a big effort from everyone.”

The margin of victory in the series was also significant. It's the most convincing performance by an England team in South Africa since England won a five-test series 4-0 in 1914, six months before the outbreak of World War I.

Mark Wood was England's bowling star with 4-54 in the second innings and nine wickets in the match, his second test of an impressive return after being out of the team with injury for nearly a year.

Bowling fast, Wood clinched it with the wicket of Anrich Nortje, caught behind by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler. The decision didn't immediately go England's way but the tourists reviewed and TV replays confirmed their triumph.

The England players were already celebrating in the Johannesburg sunshine anyway.

Wood wasn't even meant to play but Archer pulled up with a recurrence of his elbow injury in the warmup at the Wanderers and Wood was called back in.

"Boy am I glad I played now,” Wood said. “I’m over the moon.”

Star all-rounder Ben Stokes proved his worth on the final day, as he's done all series, with crucial breakthroughs to get rid of stubborn South Africa opener Dean Elgar (24) and captain Faf du Plessis (35). The wicket of du Plessis broke South Africa's most meaningful partnership.

Du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen put on 92 in a period of fight from the home team after lunch but England removed both in the space of an over on the brink of tea and surged to victory from there.

Stokes roared in and his delivery kept low to bowl du Plessis.

Van der Dussen was out for 98 to Wood to miss his chance of a maiden test century in his debut series.

That double blow knocked the resistance out of South Africa. England finished it off effectively, taking the last seven wickets for just 87 runs.

News Cricket

Pakistan retain top T20 ranking

AP Updated: 28 January, 2020, 10:09 AM IST


Pakistan retained its No. 1 ranking in the Twenty20 format after rain washed out the third and final match of the series against Bangladesh.

Rain arrived an hour before the scheduled toss at 1.30 p.m. local time (0830 GMT) before umpires called off the play at 3.55 p.m. local time, to the disappointment of around 5,000 fans at the Gaddafi Stadium.

Pakistan clinched the series 2-0 after beating world No. 9 ranked Bangladesh by five wickets and nine wickets, respectively.

Bangladesh's batsmen struggled in the absence of banned Shakib Al Hasan as well as wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim, who opted out of the tour because of security concerns.

“Result-wise, we are probably disappointed,” Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah said.

“As a captain, I wanted to give a better performance, a better show which we didn’t do. The talent was there, the skill was there, but I think we didn’t execute our skills good enough and they were better than us, obviously.”

The No. 1 ranking, which Pakistan earned in January 2018, was under threat after the team lost eight of its nine T20s in 2019, but the recall of veteran batsmen Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez strengthened the batting line-up. Malik scored an unbeaten 58 in the first match, while Hafeez remained not out on 67 in the second game in two easy run-chases.

A 3-0 loss at home and a 2-0 defeat in Australia forced Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq to recall aging Hafeez and Malik after Pakistan batsmen struggled in the shortest format.

“We checked the resources against Sri Lanka and Australia, but after that, we realized we needed experience in the team,” Misbah said. “The experience (of Malik and Hafeez) came to our use and I believe the doors are not closed for any player. Form and fitness are important, and they both are in good form and are also fit.”

Bangladesh will return to Pakistan next month for the first test, as part of the ICC World Test Championship, after agreeing to split the T20 series and two test matches into three phases.

The officials of both the national cricket boards reached consensus in Dubai this month during a meeting facilitated by International Cricket Council chairman Shashank Manohar.

The first test will be played in Rawalpindi from Feb. 7-11. After a break of almost two months, Bangladesh will play an ODI and the second test in Karachi from April 3-9.

Late last year, Sri Lanka also split its tour to Pakistan into two phases when it played a T20 series in Lahore then returned in December for two test matches in Rawalpindi and Karachi, staying in Pakistan for 16 days.

News Cricket

Triple centurion Sarfaraz Khan is indebted to Virat Kohli for his invaluable advice

Abhishek Singh Updated: 27 January, 2020, 5:10 PM IST


Mumbai batsman Sarfaraz Khan, who recently notched up his maiden triple ton and gave Mumbai vital 3 points in the Ranji Trophy match against Uttar Pradesh, feels that Virat Kohli’s invaluable, honest advice has been instrumental in his comeback.

“I was dropped at Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2016 because of my fitness. Virat Kohli told me straightaway while there were no doubts over my skills, my fitness was not letting me get to the next level. He was very honest with me about where I was,” he revealed.

Sarfaraz Khan, who was given a chance due to the absence of regular Mumbai players Surya Kumar Yadav and Ajinkya Rahane has made full use of it. After scoring a triple ton his last innings, he has again scored a double century, playing against Himachal Pradesh. AT stumps on the first day of their Ranaji match, Mumbai are at 372 at the loss of five wickets. Out of those 372, Sarfaraz alone has scored 226 runs and is not out.

The Mumbaikar was elated with his triple century and even more by becoming a member of the elite club which has huge names like Wasim Jaffer and Rohit Sharma. “It’s a proud feeling to return and also join Mumbai’s triple-century club, alongside great players like Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Wasim Jaffer, and Rohit Sharma,” Sarfaraz was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.

News Cricket

India is killing competition in world cricket: Shoaib Akhtar

Abhishek Singh Updated: 27 January, 2020, 4:59 PM IST


Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar feels that there seems to be no one even close to India as far as international cricket is concerned. He reckons that Virat Kohli-led India is swiftly becoming a “ruthless” team that has no mercy for others.

Akhtar, on his YouTube channel, said “India is becoming a ruthless team as they once again proved it against New Zealand in the second T20I. If you (Kiwis) are being bowled out for such a modest total, how will you compete against a side like India which possesses a long batting line-up.”

He even lauded Indian fast bowlers saying that they are terrorizing the opposition. “Have seen new confidence from Bumrah and Shami as they have now started to create fear in the opposition batsmen,” said the Rawalpindi express.

World’s fastest, Akhtar is also of the opinion that the Indian team is touching the zenith of its potential and is dominating the world cricket one-sided. “At present India is dominating the world one-sided. But what will happen to other teams? What will happen to world cricket?” he asked.

“When Australia dominated world cricket, at least India and Pakistan showed fight and tried to compete. However, what we are seeing in New Zealand is that the hosts have completely surrendered before India in the first t20 T20Is,” he added.

India will now aim to seal what would be their first T20I series win over New Zealand when they meet the hosts in the third match in Hamilton on Wednesday.

News Cricket

God of Cricket sledged me, claims this Australia bowler

Abhishek Singh Updated: 27 January, 2020, 4:49 PM IST


It’s hard to believe that Master Blaster, Sachin Tendulkar even sledged someone. But if you were to believe Australian bowling legend McGrath, Sachin did sledge him. It was during the ICC Champions Trophy match in 1999 in Kenya, remembers McGrath vividly.

"I bowled to him, he pulled it and it went straight up in the air. I thought I had got him out and the wicketkeeper would get an easy catch. But there was a breeze there and the ball kept drifting further and further away from the wicketkeeper and then I thought the third-man is going to take it who was ready to catch it and then he started going back and back and the ball finally fell out of the fence for a six,” McGrath was quoted as saying by PTI.

"I was not very impressed and then I could hear someone saying a few words to me and I turned around and it was Sachin sledging me. That was very unusual and had not happened before," McGrath added.

From West Indies batting maestro Brian Lara to Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, McGrath had troubled the best in the business with his pinpoint accuracy on the 22-yards during his prime. McGrath took a total of 949 wickets in his international career encompassing Tests, ODIs and two T20Is.

News Cricket

Ricky Ponting names top three fielders of all time

Garima Kotroo Updated: 27 January, 2020, 4:42 PM IST


Former Australian cricketer Ricky Ponting recently conducted a question and answer session on his official Twitter handle and the fans took the full advantage of the situation. While some people asked about his memorable innings, others asked about his favorite players in the cricket fraternity. Amidst all these queries, a fan came up with a unique question. He asked Ponting to pick the top three fielders in the world.

In his reply to the user, Ponting named his former team-mate Andrew Symonds, along with two South African batsmen, AB de Villiers and Jonty Rhodes as the three best fielders. Ponting, who is the head coach of Delhi Capitals franchise and worked with many Indian cricketers, didn’t pick any Indian name which came as a big surprise.

The 45-year-old legendary cricketer was then asked about Rishabh Pant’s future in Team India as the young player has lost his place to KL Rahul in all three formats.

“You didn't answer my question last time. Please answer this time. Where do you see Rishabh Pant going from here? He has lost his place in all three formats. Your thoughts?”

At this, Ponting replied, “Rishabh Pant is a young man with a huge amount of talent. I am looking forward to working with him again during the IPL and I am sure he will be back in the Indian team sooner rather than later.”

News Cricket

Yuvraj Singh, Wasim Akram to participate in the Bushfire Relief Match

Abhishek Singh Updated: 27 January, 2020, 3:46 PM IST


Yuvraj Singh and Wasim Akram have joined the bandwagon that will either play or take part as Coach in the Bushfire Relief match being organized by Cricket Australia. The match will see legends Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne captain two teams in a friendly match.

West Indies’ legend Courtney Walsh and Indian great Sachin Tendulkar have already announced their presence for the game. While Walsh would coach Shane Warne’s team, Tendulkar would be the Coach of Ponting’s XI. Apart from these international stars, Australian cricketers such as Steve Waugh would also form part of this momentous occasion.

Apart from the Relief match and the Big Bash finale, a women’s T20 international between Australia and India at Junction Oval in Melbourne will also take place. Proceeds from the match would be donated to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.

Yuvraj has scored 12,384 runs and taken 148 wickets in his international career while Wasim has taken 916 wickets. While Yuvraj Singh has not played a competitive match since the Abu Dhabi T10 league, Wasim Akram has been an active member of the commentary teams all around the world.

News Cricket

Harsha comes down hard on NZ grounds, says they are unfit to host international matches

Garima Kotroo Updated: 27 January, 2020, 3:39 PM IST


Famous Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle believes that the international matches should be played on the large cricket grounds and not on the small grounds like Eden Park. The 58-year-old recently claimed that the introduction of new technologies in the bats have offered liberty to young and experienced batsmen to smash big shots. The games can’t be played on the ‘tiny little' grounds.

During his most recent interview with Cricbuzz, Bhogle said, “I can understand that it is a heritage ground (Eden Park) and it’s been like this for many years. They have changed the angles and shape of the ground. But with the new game, with the power, the batsmen are physically much stronger than they have ever been and the bats are so much better. You got to have bigger grounds than this. You cannot have this type of tiny little grounds. If that is the case then the teams can come and play on TV sets.”

After winning both the T20I games against New Zealand in Auckland, the Men in Blue will play their third T20I against the Black Caps at the Seddon Park in Hamilton on January 29. The visitors have taken the 2-0 lead in the ongoing T20I series.

News Cricket

Sunil Gavaskar slams BCCI for step-motherly treatment to Ranji Trophy

Abhishek Singh Updated: 27 January, 2020, 3:21 PM IST


Little Master Sunil Gavaskar lashed out at the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) for giving Ranji Trophy, India’s premier first-class tournament a substandard treatment compared to the cash-rich IPL. Gavaskar questioned the need for the India ‘A’ team to be touring New Zealand at the same time as the senior side, calling it a ‘bizarre’ decision, as the Ranji season is at its peak.

“The national championship doesn’t mean much has been clear for a few years now that the IPL is here and it’s been emphasized once again by the way the Ranji Trophy has been devalued with the best talent out of the country,” Gavaskar wrote in his column for Mid-day.

He went on to say that it’s purely illogical that the premier domestic tournament of the country does not have its teams to its full strength.

“One can understand the national team being out as it’s a bilateral commitment in line with the ICC FTP but to have the India A team also out touring at the same time means that most Ranji Trophy teams are well below strength,” wrote Gavaskar.

“I may be old fashioned in thinking Indian cricket is a sum of club, schools, college junior cricket, corporate cricket along with first-class cricket of course. There are also the fans, the media, the corporate sponsors who have made Indian cricket what it is. It is the solemn duty of the administrators to nurture all this for the Indian national team to continue to be the magnificent team it is today and always,” said Gavaskar, at the end of his column.

News Cricket

Rishabh Pant will make a comeback to playing XI- Ricky Ponting

Abhishek Singh Updated: 27 January, 2020, 3:20 PM IST


Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has said that India’s wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant will make it to the playing XI, "sooner than later". He believes that Pant is full of talent and he just needs to utilize that talent.

"Rishabh Pant is a young man with a huge amount of talent. I am looking forward to working with him again during the IPL and I am sure he will be back in the Indian team sooner rather than later," Ponting said while replying to one of the users during his fan interaction on Twitter.

Ponting, who is the coach of Delhi Capitals, said that he is looking forward to work with Pant in the upcoming edition of the cash-rich league.

Since KL Rahul has been given the dual role of a 'keeper-batsman' in limited-overs by the Indian team management, it has become very difficult for Pant to get into the playing 11. Rahul has shown tremendous class and temperament in the New Zealand series and therefore the team management is persisting with him. In recent times, Rahul has shown satisfactory work with the glove and has been outstanding with the bat as well.

Rahul has played crucial innings in India's comprehensive victories in the first two matches as India lead the 5 match series 2-0.

News Cricket

What is the name of that bowler? - Jadeja cheekily reacts to Manjrekar’s tweet after the second T20I

Garima Kotroo Updated: 27 January, 2020, 2:55 PM IST


Indian bowlers put up a great show in the second T20I against New Zealand at the Eden Park, Auckland. The outstanding bowling spells of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja restricted the hosts at a below-par total of 132 runs on Sunday. While Jasprit Bumrah dismissed the Kiwi batsman Ross Taylor, brilliant all-rounder Jadeja picked up two crucial wickets of Kane Williamson and Colin de Grandhomme.

However, the Man of the Match award was given to the opener KL Rahul, who played an unbeaten knock of 57 runs off 50 balls. But it seems like the popular Indian commentator Sanjay Manjrekar didn’t agree to the decision as he believes that the bowlers were more impactful than the batsman.

Taking to his Twitter, Manjrekar wrote, “Player of the Match should have been a bowler”. At this, Jadeja quickly reacted, “What is the name of that bowler?? Pls pls, mention.”

In his reply to the cricketer, Manjrekar said, “Haha…Either you or Bumrah. Bumrah, because he was extremely economical while bowling overs no 3, 10, 18 and 20.”

After India thrashed New Zealand by seven Wickets in Auckland, Virat Kohli lauded the efforts of the bowling department in a post-match presentation. He said, “The bowlers stood up and took control of what we wanted to do out there. Sticking to one side of the wicket was a very good feature for us as a team to restrict a good New Zealand team to 132 which I think was below par. The ball gripped for the spinners and I think Jadeja was outstanding. Chahal was a banker. Bumrah was amazing as well, and Shami and Shardul and Shivam making very good contributions with the ball but I think we backed it up in the field more importantly.”

News Cricket

Life is so unpredictable and fickle: Virat mourns the tragic and untimely death of Kobe Bryant

Garima Kotroo Updated: 27 January, 2020, 1:00 PM IST


One of the greatest basketball players of all time, Kobe Bryant sadly passed away at the age of 41 on Sunday. The five-time NBA champion with Los Angeles Lakers and a two-time gold medalist in the Olympics, Bryant died in a terrible helicopter crash in suburban Los Angeles which also claimed the life of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.

When the Indian skipper Virat Kohli came to know about the shocking incident, he immediately took to his official Instagram handle and expressed his grief on the death of his basketball icon.

Virat wrote, “Absolutely devastated to hear this news today. So many childhood memories of waking up early and watching this magician doing things on the court that I would be mesmerized by. Life is so unpredictable and fickle. His daughter Gianna passed away too in the crash. I am absolutely Heartbroken. Rest in peace. Strength and condolences to the family.”

Apart from Kohli, the likes of Harbhajan Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Rohit Sharma and Mohammed Kaif also paid a tribute to the NBA legend on social media platforms.

Taking to his official Twitter account, Kaif wrote, “The world has lost an icon. Kobe was one of the greatest of all times. Deeply saddened to hear about the passing away of Kobe, his daughter, and others. Still can't believe it.”

News Cricket

Babar Azam could well become one of the best batsmen in the world - Ricky Ponting

Staff Writer Updated: 27 January, 2020, 12:53 PM IST


Babar Azam is one of the best batsmen in international cricket. His display across formats has been lauded by many leading greats. The right-handed batsman has become a household name in Pakistan. He has scored 15 centuries and averages more than 50 in shorter formats of the game.

Former Aussie skipper and one of the best batsmen since the inception of cricket, Ricky Ponting has praised Babar for the way he has batted in recent times.

While interacting with his avid fans on Twitter, Ponting was asked to comment on Babar Azam's form in the Test series in Australia.

Ponting wrote, "I thought Babar was extremely impressive. Looks to have a lot of class and could well become one of the best batsmen in the world."

While Ricky Ponting is currently a part of the ongoing Big Bash Season as a commentator, Babar Azam is leading Pakistan in the ongoing T20I series against Bangladesh. The skipper scored a well-compiled fifty in the second match of the series, which Pakistan won by 9 wickets.

Opinion Cricket

Why Shivam Dube will push Hardik Pandya for a place in the T20Is?

CT Contributor Updated: 27 January, 2020, 12:15 PM IST


India's young all-rounder Shivam Dube is slowly making his mark in the side and that's a plus for the Virat Kohli-led team. Dube, who made his T20I debut for India in the series against Bangladesh back in November 2019, has played 10 matches since then. The player, who is touted to be a big force in time to come, has shown flashes of brilliance. He gives everything on the field and is constantly learning the tricks and trades of the game.

Dube made his foray into the side in the absence of pace-bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya. The latter has been out of the side for a while now and is yet to recover 100% from the back injury. Pandya is no doubt India's best bet in this role especially when India need a fourth pacer in the side and a power-hitter at number seven. One thought how will India do without the explosive Pandya in this department? However, Dube has shown he can be a solution.

In the ongoing T20Is against New Zealand, Dube showed his calm approach after picking two wickets in the middle across the first two games. Not just that, he got useful scores of 13 and 8*. In the second T20I, Dube finished the chase with a six. That will give him a lot of confidence. A clean hitter of the ball, Dube is a pretty dangerous customer when he gets going. He has featured in 10 T20Is and has scored 85 runs at 28.33. He has three more T20I left and the focus will be to perform well in order to build a platform for a place in the side during the ODI series.

If Dube can build on from the start he has got in New Zealand, the team will not be able to drop him. What it also does is that it will force Pandya to prove himself with some strong performances in domestic cricket. If Pandya does that and has a good Indian Premier League (IPL) 13th edition, then he can have an easy shout, However, Dube too will aim to be at his best during this phase. Somehow, if Pandya fails, then Dube could keep him out. With the ICC World T20 to be held in 2020 in Australia, Pandya's return to the side is not assured.

Dube knows he has the chance to push Pandya all the way and fight for a place. That will be a fitting response after all the chances he has got so far in Pandya's absence. The team management will also be keen to see Dube doing well and presenting a chance for himself to deliver more success as the time progresses.