Virat Kohli is the no.1 Test and ODI batsman in the world. When it comes to Kohli's genius in ODIs, it's just incomparable. The Indian captain is averaging a healthy 60.31 and the sample size is of a mountainous 11,520 runs in the format. He is just 30 years old and has already scored 43 hundreds in ODIs, which is unmatchable. And it will not be too long before he overtakes Sachin Tendulkar's tally of 49 ODI hundreds.
He is batting at a level par excellence. And his GOAT batting is not letting former Indian captain, Sourav Ganguly sleep early. “I stayed up till 3 am watching him (Kohli) get those hundreds and that sums up his world class stature, which is getting better every day. I have a strong feeling that he will leave everyone behind,” Ganguly wrote in his column for The Times of India.
Dada was also full of praise for Shreyas Iyer, who is also captain of Delhi Capitals. Ganguly served as advisor to Delhi side during 2019 IPL.
I saw him (Iyer) closely playing for Delhi Capitals but what I saw in these two innings is a lot better,” Ganguly wrote. “The quality is hugely noticeable and hopefully as he will watch his champion captain more, he will start converting those good knocks into hundreds. He should ideally bat at No.4. He must understand that it is a position which the greats have made their own with big performances and that is what the Indian public will start expecting from him.”
India captain Virat Kohli shared a picture on social media with twisted faces. Kohli who is currently in New Zealand tweeted a picture with two of his team-mates Mohammed Shami and young opener Prithvi Shaw on Sunday.
In the latest picture, Kohli along with fast bowler Mohammad Shami and opening batsman Prithvi Shaw is seen making weird facial gestures. "Naya post-Sundar dost," Kohli captioned the picture.
As soon as the hilarious post went online, fans went berserk and termed it as the next meme material. Reacting to the post, a fan wrote: "Next meme material", while the other replied, "Meme walo: wah pic mil gaya!". While one fan went on to quote the famous Babu Bhaiya.
India's next assignment is a two-Test series against New Zealand, first of which will be played at Basin Reserve, Wellington from February 21-24. The series will be part of the ICC World Test Championship and India, having won all their previous seven matches, are leading the points table, while New Zealand have managed to accumulate 60 points from five matches.
Former India captain Kapil Dev has been relieved of the conflict of interest charges leveled against him by Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association member, Sanjeev Gupta. BCCI ombudsman DK Jain on Sunday confirmed that he has rendered the conflict of interest complaint against Kapil Dev as “infructuous” after the former India captain stepped down from his multiple cricketing roles.
Jain had earlier rendered infructuous, the complaint against Shantha Rangaswamy and Anshuman Gaekwad in December after they also stepped down from their multiple posts.
“The complaint against Kapil has been rendered infructuous,” Jain said.
All three of them were part of the Cricket Advisory Committee but resigned in September after MPCA life member Sanjeev Gupta had leveled conflict of interest allegations against them.
BCCI has now formed a new CAC. Jain had called Rangaswamy, Gaekwad, and Kapil for a personal hearing on December 27 and 28 in Mumbai but the World Cup-winning captain did not appear due to personal reasons.
As per the BCCI constitution, no person can occupy more than one post at the same time.
It is peculiar how a common enemy can make strange bedfellows. Something similar is afoot as after much bitterness, Cricket Australia (CA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) appeared to have found a thaw after the thorn that was the ICC. With Sourav Ganguly now announcing that India will play a day and night Test, it appears that the ICC may be coming up against the big three once more.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) set the cat amongst the pigeons by announcing that it was contemplating an ICC flagship tournament every year. This was after the ICC Champions Trophy was canceled and India were instead awarded the ICC Twenty20 World Cup, making the event a back-to-back tournament. The ICC’s logic was that the money generated would be spread amongst the permanent board members as well as the associates.
The BCCI has openly opposed the ICC, suggesting that the revenue cut accruing to it was disproportional to the revenue it was generating for the governing body of the sport. Furthermore, the presentation of another tournament did not serve the interest of the player although there was that point put out in good measure. Instead, the more influential cricket boards have opposed the idea under the base criteria that arranging bilateral series was in their commercial interests rather than featuring in too many ICC tournaments, even spread at once a year.
Much like this unofficial announcement of India willing to play a day and night Test in Australia, Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI president, let loose late last year that a four-nation tournament was in the works and would feature England besides India and Australia and a fourth team yet undecided. This seemed to have significantly eased up the tensions raked between the two teams and nations – India and Australia – after India turned down the request on their last tour of 2018-’19 to play one day and night Test.
Instead India strategically avoided the scenario, sensing the opportunity of a rare away series win which did culminate, leading to more angst for the hosts. The bitterness spewed even between players as Tim Paine, Australia’s Test captain, targeted Virat Kohli, India’s captain when pressed upon the possibility of a day and night Test on India’s next tour later this year.
The meeting between the two boards on the sidelines of the one-day internationals which were also a bone of contention as CA suggested BCCI was unwilling to yield and therefore, was pressed to break up the New Zealand series in two legs appears to have found a common scenario and possibly quid pro quo with the boards now aligning themselves against the ICC.
It is interesting that the last time India turned down Australia’s request for a day and night Test, they stated it was a lack of experience in the format. It is amazing how one near two day Test arranged at the eleventh hour and played against Bangladesh at the historic venue in Eden Gardens, Kolkata in November last year suddenly changed the issue of experience for the Indian cricket team and the BCCI. CA will not be complaining because there is a commercial value at stake.
Virat Kohli and team are scheduled to travel to Australia for a four-match series in Whites later this year. India successfully dominated the Aussies in their last tour Down Under and clinched their first-ever Test series on Australian soil in 2019.
However, the former Australian skipper Steve Waugh believes that Aussies will start as favorites in the upcoming Test series against India. Waugh said that the return of David Warner and Steve Smith to the team along with the emergence of young player Marnus Labuschagne will give a huge advantage to the home team.
Speaking to the news agency PTI, Waugh stated, “Australia will be the favorite I think. We know the pitches well and the day-night Test is going to be something relatively new for India. I like the way Virat Kohli is taking that challenge. If you want to be the best side in the world, you have to win away from home as much as possible.”
Further, he also added, “You can’t take away from India winning last time but Australia did not have the best batsmen. Marnus Labuschagne has come out of nowhere, the bowling looks much settled now. India do not have weaknesses too, so it’s potential to be a great series.”
The Indian cricket team thrashed New Zealand in the T20Is, beating them by a 5-0 margin. However, the joy was cut short, with the Kiwis inflicting a 3-0 series win in the ODIs. And now we have the crucial Test series coming up against New Zealand, starting February 21.
India go into the Test series after playing out a draw in the practice game against New Zealand XI. There were some key learnings from the three-day warm-up game. India had its positives, however, there are areas where the team needs to work upon. It will be a crucial phase for India against the Kiwis in conditions that can be highly testing. In this article, we analyze the aspects India need to sort out.
Who will open alongside Mayank?
Mayank Agarwal is set to be India's main Test opener in the series. He got an 81 in the warm-up Test. However, the absence of Rohit Sharma opens up a spot. The likes of Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw are vying for the second opening slot.
Gill was a part of the Test squads against South Africa and Bangladesh. However, he was a replacement for Rohit in this series. In the warm-up match, he got scores of 0 and 7. This could well affect his chance. Meanwhile, Shaw came in post the doping violation ban. He started well across formats in domestic cricket and India A tour. However, since being a part of the ODIs, he has not convinced the management.
Can openers give India a strong start?
In the first innings of the warm-up match, Mayank and Shaw were troubled by the seam and bounce. They managed 1 and 0 respectively. There was a fight shown in the second innings. However, the likes of Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Neil Wagner will trouble them. They are a dangerous trio.
The ongoing tour of New Zealand has been a nightmare for Mayank. His scores in the tour including the ODIs read: 8, 32, 29, 37, 24, 0, 0, 32, 3, 1, 1 and 81. Will he be able to pull off the work and hand India positive starts? Also, both Shaw and Gill are vulnerable. The swing might fox either, no matter who gets chosen.
6-5 or 7-4 strategy?
Another major decision to be taken by skipper Virat Kohli is the strategy of the team combination he should go with. With the absence of Hardik Pandya, India could field three frontline pacers. Therefore, we might see a 7-4 strategy to help India get more depth in batting. But will Kohli add an extra pacer in the form of Navdeep Saini or Umesh Yadav?
Warm-up games do not necessarily provide solutions to questions facing a touring side but the three-day game against New Zealand XI certainly helped the Indian team management in ticking most of the boxes before the first Test against New Zealand which starts on February 21.
It is now almost certain that the opening batsmen will be Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw. Both overcame a nightmarish experience in the first innings when Shaw got a duck and Agarwal was out for one by scoring 39 and 81 (retired out) the second time around. Shubman Gill the other candidate in the fray did his cause no good being out for a first-ball duck and being restricted to just eight runs in the second innings. In any case, Gill had only an outside chance to make the cut and at 20 the talented Punjab batsman has plenty of time to make the grade.
The other question pertained to the pace bowling combo for the Test and it was heartening that all four fast bowlers were among the wickets. Pace bowling is a key factor in New Zealand conditions and it was good to see Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Navdeep Saini taking little time in settling down to the longer format after an extended spell of bowling in limited-overs cricket. Further good news is Ishant Sharma being cleared for the Test series and a full-strength Indian pace attack can have the Kiwi batsmen on the hop.
It was also good to see Hanuma Vihari get a hundred. The Indian think tank is veering towards playing an extra batsman and only one spinner in the final eleven and Vihari’s form could come in handy at No 6. He also gives the team management a fifth bowler option for he can be quite handy with his off-breaks. He has performed creditably in his seven Tests so far and has an excellent first-class record with an average of almost 60 and an unbeaten triple hundred.
With three of the four main bowlers being fast men there will be a place for only one specialist spinner. The warm-up game did not throw any real pointers with Ravichandran Ashwin taking one for 46 of 15.2 overs and Ravindra Jadeja being wicketless after sending down only ten overs. Both, of course, are handy with the bat though Jadeja is the better fielder. In this context, it is interesting to recall that in India’s last overseas Test series in the West Indies Ashwin was left out and Jadeja played as the lone spinner. It really is a toss-up between the two. And even though Rishabh Pant kept wickets in the warm-up game and got some runs Wriddhiman Saha the better keeper should keep his place for the Test series.
Former Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, who has often been seen taking a jibe at cricketers on social media platforms, was trolled by his former teammate Irfan Pathan. The 38-year-old legendary player recently shared a picture with his wife Hazel Keech on Valentine’s Day. While the fans showered their love on Yuvraj’s latest post, Pathan came up with a hilarious reaction.
Taking to his official Instagram handle, Singh wrote, “You will always be my valentine @hazelkeechofficial." At this, Pathan cheekily commented, “Wishes ke emotions apke chehre se match nahi kar rahe hain (The emotions of your wishes don’t match with your facial expressions).”
Yuvraj, who announced his retirement from all forms of cricket last year, recently returned to the field to play in a charity match to raise funds for bushfire victims in Australia. In the Bushfire Cricket Bash, Yuvraj was a part of Adam Gilchrist XI who locked horns against Ricky Ponting XI in the 10-over per side game.
After bidding adieu to international cricket, Singh shifted his focus to T20 leagues around the world and went on to play in the Global T20 Canada and T10 league. The left-hander is one of the best all-rounders that India have ever produced in cricketing history.
R Ashwin, the ace spinner of Team India, has had a life of uncertainties and adventures, and it’s not true only for his cricketing career but also for his whole life. Talking about one such incident Ashwin revealed, how he was kidnapped by goons when he used to be a popular name in Chennai’s tennis-ball cricket tournaments.
Ashwin was supposed to play in the finale of a tennis ball tournament but instead ended up having Bhajjis and Vadas with local ‘gundas’ at a tea stall near the final match’s venue.
"We were supposed to play a final and we have this culture of sort of people priding themselves on winning a competition like that. As I was about to leave, there were four or five guys who came in Royal Enfields - properly muscular and big. They picked me up and said come we've got to go. I asked 'who?' and they said 'you're playing the match here, right? We've come to pick you up. I was like wow they've arranged for a pick-up, and it feels great. What happened is I sat behind one person and another person sat right behind me, as if I was going to get off and go. I was properly sandwiched between both of them.” said Ashwin.
"They took me to a posh tea stall. A tea shop is a big cultural thing in Chennai. Next to all the grounds, there is a tea shop. They made me sit there, ordered bajjis and vadas and all that, and said 'have, have, don't be afraid, we're here to help you out'. It was around 3:30-4:00 PM and I said the match is going to start, let's go. So they said, 'no, no, we're actually from the opposition, we wanted to stop you from playing. If you go and play we'll make sure your fingers are not there," Ashwin revealed in an interview to Cricbuzz.
R Ashwin has the highest Test wickets for a spinner (active) in the entire world. A lot of credit for that goes to his innovative bowling on different tracks. One of the innovations, that paid heavy dividends to the Tamil Nadu born bowler, is his carrom ball.
Ashwin feels this bowl has done wonders for him in his career. He explained that tennis ball cricket played a big role behind his mastery in carrom ball.
"The first time I went to play a tennis ball game, I was batting. There was this guy who was bowling with proper action, getting beautiful drift and getting the ball to go nicely out and in. Till today I can't find where the guy is but I haven't seen a better bowler who can bowl both in and out than him in my life. His name is SK. He was the one from whom I learned that ball," Ashwin told Cricbuzz during an episode of Spicy Pitch.
"Basically he was the one who made me look like an absolute idiot on that particular day. I was a big thing around the tennis ball circuit as a batsman then, so I said I need to learn from this guy. So I used to go every morning, and he used to come and teach me for about 10-15 days," added Ashwin.
In cricket, as in life, unpredictability can never be thrown out of the window. Having impressed at the domestic and the U19 level, 18-year-old Prithvi Shaw was handed an early Test debut in 2018, with Shikhar Dhawan being unable to cement his spot despite repeated opportunities. Shaw responded with a record hundred on debut. Just when it seemed India had discovered a fine young talent, Shaw suffered a gruesome ankle injury while fielding in a practice game in Australia. Mayank Agarwal replaced him and made the most of his chances.
Just as he was recovering, and looking to make his way back into the Indian team, the BCCI slapped him with an eight-month ban from all forms of competitive cricket for failing a dope test. In the interim, Rohit Sharma moved to the top and established himself as a Test opener along with Agarwal. Life has now come a full circle for Shaw as an untimely injury to Rohit has brought him back in contention for the opening slot. It’s now the Mumbai youngster’s opportunity to make it count.
Starting all over again
Although Shaw has played two Tests so far, they seem like a distant memory, as he had featured in the matches back in October 2018. A lot has transpired since. And, in the wake of the doping ban, it will be like starting from scratch for Shaw, just like the case was with Steve Smith and David Warner, who made successful returns from their respective ball-tampering bans. Shaw would look to draw confidence from the fact that he has tasted success at the Test level before. In fact, his debut was nothing short of sensational as he became the youngest Indian Test centurion on debut, and the second-youngest after Sachin Tendulkar to score a hundred for India.
However, with Rohit and Agarwal having forged a successful pairing at the top, it will be difficult for Shaw to feature in Test eleven as opener once his Mumbai teammate Rohit returns from injury. Thus, if chosen to open for the Tests, which is highly likely, Shaw will have to come up with Marnus Labuschagne-like extraordinary performances to force the selectors to open up a position for him. It won’t be an easy task. However, considering that all slots in the top and middle-order are booked for now when first-choice players are fit, the 20-year-old doesn't have any other option. An unsatisfactory show could mean he will have to wait for his next chance, which may again come through injury or form issues.
Bright talent who shouldn't go astray
Like Tendulkar, Shaw had been anointed a special talent at a very young age. As a 14-year old, he slammed 546 off 330 balls playing for his school Rizvi Springfield in the Harris Shield, a famous tournament in Mumbai. Back then, it was the record for the highest score in school cricket. In January 2017, he was the man of the match on Ranji Trophy debut as his second-innings hundred led Mumbai to victory over Tamil Nadu in the semi-final at Rajkot. Later in the year, Shaw broke Tendulkar’s record to became the youngest cricketer to score a century on Duleep Trophy debut.
The talented youngster also had the honor of leading India to the U19 World Cup triumph in 2018. In the same season, he made an impression in the IPL as well. Purchased by Delhi Daredevils for Rs 1.2 crore, he contributed 245 runs in nine innings at a strike rate of 153.12. Before one knew, Shaw had made his Test debut, and an incredible fashion. Everything seemed perfect for Shaw until tragedy struck in Australia. The doping ban was a development Shaw could ill-afford so early in his career. However, everyone deserves a second chance. As such, the upcoming Test series in New Zealand can be viewed as Shaw’s shot at redemption.
Mumbai Indians’ Jasprit Bumrah has trolled the Indian Premier League side Royal Challengers Bangalore for their new logo, saying that it resembles his bowling action. The social media handles of RCB had removed their profile pictures in order to show that the IPL side was on the verge of making some changes and unveiled a new look prior to the 13th season of the cash-rich event.
Jasprit Bumrah compared the new logo of the Kohli-led side on all social media platforms with his bowling action. "Cool logo. Looks like my bowling action as well," Bumrah left a comment on RCB's Instagram post.
It was reported that RCB were on the verge of changing their name but the Kohli-led IPL side only unveiled a new logo. Along with the new logo, the color of the side’s jersey has also been changed.
“THIS IS IT. The moment you've been waiting for. New Decade, New RCB, New Logo!”, RCB said in its tweet while marking the beginning of a brand new era. Skipper Kohli was the first among players to come up with a witty response to logo change tweeting, “LOGO ka kaam hai kehna".
While everyone is speculating about MS Dhoni’s era career, former IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla believes he still has a lot of cricket left in him. Shukla said only Dhoni can decide when to hang up his boots.
"Dhoni is a great cricketer and there is a lot more cricket left in him. But, he has to decide when he should take retirement.
Speaking on the subject of Dhoni’s retirement, Shukla also added, “The BCCI has a policy in place that a cricketer has to take a call on when to take retirement."
The rumors about Dhoni’s retirement from limited-overs format have been doing the rounds on social media over the past few months. The exclusion of the former Indian skipper from the BCCI contract list for the 2019-20 season has added more fuel to the fire. The legendary wicketkeeper-batsman is on a break from cricket after India’s exit from the 2019 World Cup semifinals in England.
Dhoni will play in the upcoming edition of Indian Premier League where he will lead the three-time title lifters Chennai Super Kings.
Indian opener Mayank Agarwal has said that it was captain Virat Kohli, who motivated him to stay at the crease and not throw his wicket. The Karnataka batsman said that Virat being at the other end was a relief and a confident booster as well.
“Against South Africa when I got a 150, Virat [Kohli] was there at the other end and he said “Nothing short of a 200 will do. You’re batting well, make sure to not just score for yourself but for your team. The team needs to get a bigger score and it’s important for you to be there to help us get that score at a faster pace,” Mayank was quoted as saying in an interview to ESPNCricinfo.
Mayank elaborated on how Kohli kept reminding of his goal- to score the double century. “When I got to 150, it was a reminder from his side that we have spoken about these things. Now you’ve got to go out there and execute because you’re batting well, you’re in the middle, the team’s in a good position and the team requires you to take us through to more,” the 28-year-old further added.
Mayank Agarwal has not looked in good touch in New Zealand and his next assignment is the two-match Test series starting from February 21.
Australian opener, David Warner has said that his wife has played a great role in shaping him as a disciplined cricketer.
“I got a bit of a slap to the back of the head. [Candice] was asking me questions like– Why are you not disciplined? Why are you drinking alcohol? Why are you not getting up early when you’re competing?,” Warner told the 98 Podcast as quoted by Daily Mail.
Warner feels that he met his wife Candice at the right time. The Southpaw believes that meeting his wife was one of the amazing things that ever happened to him.
“We met at the right time and if I didn’t make my sacrifices, we probably wouldn’t be where we are today. I had to change and I changed for the better – and I have to credit Candice for that,” Warner added.
The New South Wales man went on to say that it is his family that is at the top of his priority list.
“Cricket is not the priority, the priority is my family and my children. I always feel that cricket gets in the way of my family time. I know Candice is looking after three kids and it’s so rewarding to come home to them,” said Warner.
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