Will Sourav Take up IPL Fixing After Shakib Ban?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 7 November, 2019, 10:39 AM IST


The need to take cognizance of cricket’s recent events is incumbent upon Sourav Ganguly. Having ascended the role of the BCCI chief, he must look into the very matter that brought the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) under the eyes of the Supreme Court in the first place.

For the first time in two years, the BCCI has regained its autonomy after being under the purview of the nation’s apex body. The straw that broke the camel’s back at the heart of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in season three was the issue of fixing and betting. Conflict of interest became a burning issue as a side corollary that exposed the nepotism deep within the BCCI’s ranks.

While the issue of favouritism and proxy has been far from resolved, the scar of events as well as the cloud of suspicion with regard to fixing continue to shadow the tournament and the cautious running of the administration.

The shockwaves following Shakib Al Hasan’s ban from international cricket for two years by the International Cricket Council (ICC) included one of the charges of not reporting approaches from the IPL season of 2018. It seems bizarrely silent for the BCCI to not take cognizance of the fact given that it is not just Bangladesh cricket that has come under ignominy but also, India in the context of the IPL.

Given how publicly and specifically that the ICC has charged Shakib by mentioning the IPL match in question in its statement and Shakib’s acceptance of the charge, it seems almost imperative the BCCI should address the matter head on and take an active role in finding out the people behind the approach, the extent of their intent and the degree to which they were able to penetrate the system. Identification can lead to deterrent measures. But rather than hold a press conference or release a statement to the effect, the BCCI has almost numbingly stayed silent on the subject, leading many to question the interests of the BCCI is not calling out the issue.

The IPL is undoubtedly the BCCI’s cash cow and the envy of others. If the BCCI is vested in cleaning up its act, including reshaping the image of the IPL which is played and watched under that dark shadow that almost derailed it, with no obvious remedial measures in place and bringing the efficacy of having anti-corruption units in question, this is a matter not just for the ICC and the Bangladesh Cricket Board but also, directly involves the state of Indian cricket as well.

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Opinion Cricket

Should KL Rahul replace Shikhar Dhawan in T20Is? 

CT Contributor Updated: 12 December, 2019, 4:47 PM IST



Shikhar Dhawan hasn't been in the best of form of late and injuries have stalled his progress as well. However, the left hand batsman still has a lot to offer to Indian cricket. Dhawan will be eyeing a return to the side in the upcoming ODI assignments against Sri Lanka and Australia in 2020. He still remains as the best choice in the ODI set-up. But is he the answer for India in T20Is? Dhawan scored 41, 31 and 19 in the three T20Is against Bangladesh last month, before getting injured in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

The issue with him is that the player IS consuming many deliveries to put pressure on the other batsmen. Also, when getting starts, he has failed to convert them into big scores. Even in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, he failed to get going and had a highest score of 35 in five games. His absence from the series against West Indies, gave KL Rahul the chance to open.

Rahul has been a class act in T20Is so far. In 34 T20Is, he has scored 1138 runs at 43.76. When you look at his strike-rate, it is a healthy 146.46. In contrast, Dhawan's strike rate is 128.21. In the opening T20I against West Indies, Rahul scored a fluent 62 which helped India in chasing down a record-breaking score of 207. That innings served as a much-needed moral booster for a player, who deserved more chances in the shortest format. He top-scored with 91 off 56 balls in the third and final T20I of the series against West Indies.

Rahul has been on song in T20 cricket and his last two seasons in the IPL tells you why he is so pivotal for any team. He is a class act and can play in a number of positions. His aggressive style can give Rohit Sharma the time to be more of an anchor. Rahul is classy in his approach and that makes the long-term answer for India in the shortest format. With the ICC World T20 to be held in Australia next year, Rahul can cash on the opportunities and deliver the goods. He could be the answer atop ahead of Dhawan. It is time the management including Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri to back him more prominently.

News Cricket

Yuvraj beats Kohli & Dhoni to become the most searched Indian sportsperson in 2019

Tarun Singh Updated: 12 December, 2019, 4:46 PM IST


Former India cricketer Yuvraj Singh, who was the hero of the World Cup in 2011, has beaten the likes of Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni in the most Googled celebrity rankings in 2019.

The much-loved swashbuckler Yuvraj found himself third in the most searched list of India in 2019. The only other cricketer in the top 10 rankings was the young India wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant who was in the sixth spot.

Social media was flooded with messages from die-hard fans of Yuvraj Singh when he announced his decision to retire from international cricket in July.

Yuvraj Singh was the key player who helped Team India to lift the 2011 World Cup Trophy after a gap of 28 years. However, he battled with cancer post the World Cup 2011 which affected his abilities to replicate his earlier performances. His last match for Men in Blue was in 2017 when he turned up in one of the ODIs against West Indies.

The former Indian player continues to play in different leagues outside India.

The most searched personalities list was topped by IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, followed by veteran playback singer Lata Mangeshkar. And surprisingly MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, who are the biggest newsmakers in India were not even in the top 10.

News Cricket

KL Rahul takes a dig at team management after his man of the match knock against WI

Tarun Singh Updated: 12 December, 2019, 4:00 PM IST


With Shikhar Dhawan out with injury, Rahul has capitalized well on the opportunity. Karnataka-born KL Rahul played brilliantly in the recently-concluded three-match T20 series against West Indies and shut down his critics by slamming a total of 163 runs.

After his majestic 91-run knock which helped India to clinch the series against the Caribbean side, Rahul took a sly dig at the team management for not backing him well when he was struggling with his poor form.

Rahul seemed unhappy in the post-match conference with the way team management had constantly dropped him after every poor show. The right-hand batsman feels that it takes time to get used to international pressure.

“I won’t say I won’t feel it (pressure) at all. Obviously, going in and out of the team is never easy on any player. You take a little bit of time to get used to the international pressure and oppositions and there is no opposition where you can just walk in and score runs, so it’s always difficult and this game is all about confidence and all about being in a good rhythm and being in good touch.”

“So again, having said that I can’t really sit outside and not prepare, all I can do is sit outside and prepare and try to create match feel for myself and I did play a lot of first-class cricket, so not a lot of changes,” Rahul further added.

News Cricket

Gulbadin Naib threatens to publicly ‘expose’ corruption in Afghanistan Cricket Board

Tarun Singh Updated: 12 December, 2019, 3:59 PM IST


Former Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib has threatened his national cricket board and teammates that he will ‘expose’ all the people responsible for the corruption that is going on in the board.

Naib has warned that if the appropriate steps are not taken against the culprits, then he will publicly name and shame the people in government, board and in the team, who are involved in the corruption.

In his explosive series of Tweets, the 28-year-old has also claimed that many players under-performed deliberately during the World Cup tournament in 2019 because of his captaincy.

Gulbadin Naib led the Afghanistan team during the 2019 World Cup, but the team failed to win even a single game in the tournament, which forced the ACB to hand over the captaincy to young Rashid Khan.

His Tweets read, “Has anything been done about such betrayal? For public interest, if D authorities don’t take appropriate actions, I will publicly name & shame every single one from gov officials to board members, players and ex-board and management members. Stay tuned… long life my beloved,”

“The same circle have access all the way to some high-level gov officials, who have influence over the cricket board and management. Some blatantly admitted to the board that they were not performing as they were supposed to during world cup because of my captaincy,”

“I know most of you may ask why have i not spoken publicly against these ppl/mafia circle before. I have been sidelined and promised, by the authorities and other stakeholders that they will sort the mess in the cricket team and promised immediate changes & banning of this circle.”

Feature Cricket

Both India and West Indies have problems that need to be solved

Partab Ramchand Updated: 12 December, 2019, 3:58 PM IST


On the eve of the three-match T-20 international series between India and West Indies I had predicted a close contest despite the head to head record (8 to 5 in India’s favour) and the ICC ranking which have India at No 5 and West Indies at No 10. The format being what it is with any team capable of beating any other team, with there being hardly any room for error and with only the performance on the day really mattering it was highly likely that it would go to a decider with India’s home advantage being nullified by the fact that many West Indian cricketers had played in the IPL. Also West Indians are a natural for T-20 cricket with several of their leading stars regularly parading their wares in the various leagues all around the world.

The two teams dished out a riveting contest that did go all the way to the wire. But even as they use these contests to prepare for the T-20 World Cup to be held in Australia in about ten months time there are weaknesses that both teams will have to take care of. West Indies are badly lacking in bowling firepower and the manner in which they conceded over 20 runs an over so many times will no doubt be a cause for alarm. Add to this the waywardness in sending down wides and no balls – the latter unforgivable in this format – does not augur well for them. The fact that in two of the games India scored over 200 underlines the sorry tale of the West Indian bowling and they could do with a bit of an overhaul in this department if they want to harbour any hopes of retaining the title and inscribing their names on the trophy for a third time.

For India the problem is the fielding and catching. In the ultimate analysis they lost the second game by shoddy work in this department. In international cricket’s shortest format the importance of fielding and catching cannot be overemphasized. Perhaps the fielding coach has to work overtime in a bid to plug this loophole for the Indians are well served in batting and bowling. The top order in particular is probably the best in the game and the trio of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli can give sleepless nights to any bowling line-up. The discovery of Shivam Dube and the promise of Shreyas Iyer too augur well for the team. The bowling too is varied enough to trouble any opposition. Yes, there are questions to be asked over Washington Sundar’s dubious utility qualities and whether Rishabh Pant should be persevered with especially with Sanju Samson around but these can be sorted out as the preparations go on. Or perhaps the ODI series that starts on Sunday could help in solving some of the problems since many players are common to both squads.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli dedicates Mumbai knock to wifey Anushka on 2nd wedding anniversary

AP Updated: 12 December, 2019, 10:13 AM IST


India beat West Indies by 67 runs in the third and final T20 on Wednesday after getting three half-centuries from Lokesh Rahul, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

The three batsmen combined for 16 sixes and 19 fours as India notched up 240-3 after being put in to bat.

The result gives India a 2-1 victory in the series.

Rahul top-scored with 91 off 56 balls, while Kohli added 70 not out off only 29 balls. Sharma scored 71 off 34 balls as India notched up their third-highest total in T20 cricket.

“Both Rohit and Virat were in a destructive mood today," Rahul said. “Our record batting first hasn’t been great, so today was a great opportunity and I am happy that it came off.”

In reply, West Indies could not keep up with the asking rate and were restricted to 173-8. Skipper Kieron Pollard hit 68 off 39 balls after the visitors were reduced to 17-3 in the fourth over.

India won the first T20 in Hyderabad, while West Indies won the second in Thiruvananthapuram.

"It was a pretty special innings and also being our second wedding anniversary, it was a special gift. It was a special night and one of the best innings I have played. And batting first we won, feels really good," said Virat Kohli.

News Cricket

It was one of the best innings I have played - Virat Kohli  

AP Updated: 12 December, 2019, 10:12 AM IST


Virat Kohli was named man of the series for scoring 183 runs in three matches.

“I was in the zone and carried on (from the first two games)," Kohli said. "It was one of the best innings I have played. I just want to contribute across formats and it is about putting my mind into it.”

Sharma and Rahul set a blistering pace as they notched up 50 off 25 deliveries and then 100 in only 48 balls. In total they added 135 runs for the opening wicket off 70 balls before West Indies broke through.

Sharma fell in the 14th over, caught off a skier, and it resulted in a double blow. Rishabh Pant fell for a two-ball duck, caught at long off.

Kohli then came to the crease and didn’t let India lose any momentum. He smacked a 21-ball half-century as India raced to 200 in the 18th over.

It was the first time since 2007 that three Indian batsmen scored half-centuries in the same T20 innings.

Chasing 241, West Indies missed opener Evin Lewis who didn’t bat because of an injury to his right knee.

The Indian pacers provided the optimal start with in-form Lendl Simmons out for 7. Brandon King was out for 5 while big-hitting Nicholas Pooran was dismissed for a first-ball duck.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2-41) and Deepak Chahar (2-20) took two wickets apiece, as did Mohammed Shami (2-25), playing in his first T20 since 2016.

Shimron Hetmyer rescued the innings with 41 off 24 balls, while Pollard scored a 33-ball half-century. They put on 74 runs for the fourth wicket.

Kuldeep Yadav dismissed Hetmyer while Kumar had Pollard caught in the deep to end any hopes of a West Indies’ recovery.

The two teams will play a three-match ODI series next, with the first game in Chennai on Sunday.

News Tennis

French Open champ, No. 1 Ash Barty chosen WTA Player of Year 

AP Updated: 12 December, 2019, 10:11 AM IST


The Australian was announced Wednesday as the winner of the top year-end award for the women's professional tennis tour, following her finish at No. 1 in the singles ranking and her first Grand Slam title at the French Open.

Barty won a total of four tournaments and was the only woman to reach the second week at all four major championships this season. She also led the tour with 57 match wins.

Her coach, Craig Tyzzer, was honored as WTA Coach of the Year.

Other winners of voting by media members included U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu as top newcomer, Sofia Kenin as most improved player, Belinda Bencic as comeback player and Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic as doubles team of the year.

News Football

Napoli hires former Milan coach Gattuso to replace Ancelotti

AP Updated: 12 December, 2019, 10:09 AM IST


Napoli hired former AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso on Wednesday, a day after sacking Carlo Ancelotti.

The 60-year-old Ancelotti was fired less than two hours after Napoli beat Genk 4-0 to progress to the last 16 of the Champions League and end a nine-match winless run.

Gattuso replaces his former coach, as he spent eight of his 13 years as a player for AC Milan under Ancelotti. The former midfielder said he first met with Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis on Sunday,

“It wasn’t an easy few days for me because I knew I had to clarify everything with Carlo,” Gattuso said at a news conference. “But even today Carlo proved that he is like a father to me. He has always helped me in difficult moments and today for the umpteenth time I had confirmation of what a splendid man he is.

“He also gave me advice on how to help the team. But I tell you guys immediately: don’t make comparisons between me and Ancelotti because he has won everything while I am still a young coach who is only 41. I hope to get even 10% of what he has won in his career.”

Napoli had earlier announced the appointment on Twitter, and De Laurentiis also posted a message on the social media site, using the former midfielder's nickname in writing: “Welcome Rino.”

The 41-year-old Gattuso left Milan by mutual consent at the end of last season after a fifth-place finish meant the Rossoneri missed out on the Champions League.

The former Italy and Milan midfielder was promoted from youth-team coach in November 2017 to replace Vincenzo Montella and guided the team to sixth place in Serie A in his first season.

Gattuso's first match in charge of Napoli will be on Saturday, at home to Parma.

Napoli is seventh in Serie A, 17 points behind league leader Inter Milan.

Ancelotti was in his second season at Napoli. The team finished runner-up last season, 11 points behind Juventus.

“I want to thank Ancelotti,” De Laurentiis said. “I remain his friend — I was before and I still am now. I never had any disagreements or clashes with him and it’s a shame that it’s turned out the way it has, but often husbands and wives get divorced and remain on excellent terms.

“We had a dream but we woke up too soon. With great responsibility, and partly not to ruin his record, I decided to protect him and saw that it was better for us to go our separate ways.”

News Cricket

Taapsee Pannu to play Mithali Raj in ‘Shabaash Mithu’

Garima Kotroo Updated: 11 December, 2019, 10:46 PM IST


One of the leading actresses of Bollywood, Taapsee Pannu is all set to play another challenging role in her upcoming movie. The 32-year-old will now portray the role of Mithali Raj in the biopic ‘Shabaash Mithu’.

The shooting of the film will start from next year. Taapsee feels playing the role of a sportsperson on silver screen is not easy. However, she is prepared for the challenge.

"It is going to be difficult, I know. I watch cricket a lot but I never played the game. So, it is going to be challenging for me. Mithali has already told me that 'I'd like to see how you play the cover drive!' So, I dream of cover drives now".

Few days back, when Mithali celebrated her 37th birthday on December 3, Taapsee posted some beautiful pictures with the batswoman along with a hearth-warming caption on Instagram.

This is not the first time when Taapsee Pannu will act in a biopic film as she has been a part of biopics like Soorma and Saand ki Aankh.

News Cricket

Shreyas Iyer needs to focus more on his off-side batting - Kevin Pietersen

Garima Kotroo Updated: 11 December, 2019, 10:44 PM IST


Former England skipper Kevin Pietersen recently came forward with a suggestion for the young Indian cricketer Shreyas Iyer on his batting skills. He feels that Iyer should spend some more time in the nets and work hard on his off-side batting techniques.

"Shreyas Iyer needs to focus more on his off-side batting and he needs to spend more time on the nets, get more practice to hit at extra cover, take his left pad off and focus on hitting through the line on the off-side”.

While giving tips to the Indian batsman, Pietersen also added, “There are drills which you need to practice as a youngster and this will help him as the bowler will then eventually not bowl to him outside the off stump”

The 25-year-old right-handed batsman was last seen in action in the third and final T20I match against Bangladesh at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Maharashtra. In that encounter, Iyer played a brilliant knock of 62 runs off just 33 balls. His innings was laced with three boundaries and five sixes.

Opinion Cricket

Kolkata Test: A One Hit Wonder?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 11 December, 2019, 5:02 PM IST


As the dust settles on the hoopla surrounding India’s first day and night Test cricket, it becomes more obvious that this was an experiment, created specifically in mind that India will not be playing at home for the next year and could take the game to the opposition on their overseas tours, on and off the field.

It might be more bad news for Australia who are still seething that they did not get the opportunity to hand India their first day and night Test cricket contest and a possible advantage going into the last series that eventually went India’s way. Although there was a great deal of the right notes hit as Sourav Ganguly, the new Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief, and Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, talked about India’s forthrightness in playing day and night Test cricket, the present reality looks stark for the moment.

The hastily prepared contest under floodlights came about by pulling strings at the Bangladesh cricket board as well as with Ganguly’s connections at Eden Gardens. However, much of the fireworks seemed set for the pre hype and the peripheral events surrounding the actual match. With Bangladesh having ceded the early advantage to go down 1-0 in the series heading into Kolkata, they did not offer the slightest amount of resistance as India made short work of their less experienced neighbours.

With India having done away with the inaugural fiesta, it looks like siesta for day and night Test cricket in the forthcoming season. Such are the early indications from both, the administrative chief and the captain.

While Virat Kohli talked about day and night Test cricket being a novelty affair and the need to focus more on traditional Test cricket, Ganguly was non-committal when asked the question whether India would acquiesce on playing a day and night Test in New Zealand, the next venue for their Test cricket encounter.

Although the ICC World Test championship points do not distinguish between wins at home and wins overseas, it seems hardly likely that unless a favourable (read:lucrative) deal was struck mutually between the two cricket boards that Virat Kohli and his men would not be undertaking another day and night Test, particularly overseas while it is still not mandatory on the boards or the teams to do so.

Although some have encouraged Virat Kohli to accept the Australian captain Tim Paine’s gauntlet that India would play a day and night Test in Australia next year depending on Kohli’s mood, it would seem impractical that India would give it to something as banal as a challenge between querulous captains, not when there are points on the line and a possible final place in the ICC World Test championship at Lord’s in 2021 at stake.

With Ganguly talking about the New Zealand tour still being far away, it is becoming apparent that just as India played a strategic hand down under late last year in turning down Cricket Australia’s request to play a day and night Test as part of their tour, the Kolkata Test might have been a one off gamble, to kick off India’s initiative in the day and night Test cricket format, knowing such a possibility was still a fair distance away, particularly on home soil.

The reservations would explain why only a dozen such matches have been played internationally till date since 2015 when the first match was played between the trans Tasmanian rivals, Australia and New Zealand.

News Cricket

Aleem Dar to break Steve Bucknor’s world record for most Tests as umpire

AP Updated: 11 December, 2019, 4:53 PM IST


Aleem Dar will break the record of most tests as an umpire in the first match of the series between Australia and New Zealand starting Thursday.

The 51-year-old from Pakistan will stand in his 129th test as an on-field umpire, surpassing the previous record of Steve Bucknor.

Dar has been umpiring in tests since 2003, his first coming in the match between Bangladesh and England in Dhaka.

“This is one milestone I had never thought of when I began my umpiring career," Dar said. "It is a truly amazing feeling and a high point of my life when I take the field here in Australia, thousands of miles from where I started my international career at home in Gujranwala.”

Having officiated in 207 one-day internationals since 2000, he is only two matches short of the record in that format held by Rudi Koertzen of South Africa. He has also umpired in 46 Twenty20 internationals.

News Cricket

With Sourav at the helm, Murali Vijay is confident of his selection in Indian squad

Staff Writer Updated: 11 December, 2019, 3:49 PM IST


Former Indian opener Murali Vijay is currently representing Tamil Nadu in the ongoing Ranji Trophy. The Test veteran is out of the Indian team since last December. Time and again, he has expressed his frustration on being ignored by the national selectors despite putting in impressive performance. However, with Sourav Ganguly's arrival as BCCI's president, Murali is confident of his selection in Team India.

“With Sourav at the helm, I hope things would change. He had gone through this in his career. And he had come back strongly. He knows all about the feelings and the emotions of a cricketer in this situation,” Vijay said as quoted by Sportstar.

The former Test opener added, “I am looking forward to Sourav’s stint. He is a players’ man. He is a strong personality and hopefully, he will bring a structure to the process for cricketers to perform well.”

According to him, players like him have another chance to represent their country at the highest level.

“That’s exactly my point. I am just not talking about myself. I am talking about cricketers who have been left out, they should have a platform to make a comeback. It shouldn’t be a cut and chop job which leaves players in the wilderness. It is a hard pill to swallow when you know you can perform at the highest level but are playing a level down.” Vijay said.

He feels dropped cricketers should get a fair chance. “Brilliant to see Mayank and Rohit do well. It is great to watch Rohit bat and make a wonderful start as a Test opener. I feel they should be given a fair run. The openers that are waiting in the wings should be taken care of too.”

News Cricket

Ricky Ponting makes social media debut, uploads photos of first net session with son

Staff Writer Updated: 11 December, 2019, 3:48 PM IST


Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has made his debut on social media. The veteran is now on Twitter and he announced his arrival on social media by posting photos of a net session with his son Fletcher.

“A day of firsts; finally on social media and the first net with my son Fletcher,” wrote Ponting. He is the only player who have been a part of three fifty-over World Cup winning campaigns. Ponting was the skipper when Australia won the prestigious trophy in 2003 and 2007. He is the highest run-getter for Australia in one-day internationals and Test cricket.

He accumulated 13,378 runs in 168 Test matches at an average of 51.85. Ponting scored 13,704 runs in 374 ODIs at an average of 42.03 with 30 centuries to his name. He was one of the best batsmen of his time and it was not easy for the rival bowlers to stop him from scoring runs.