Xhaka reveals abuse to win back Arsenal fans after outburst

AP Updated: 1 November, 2019, 12:38 PM IST


By recounting weeks of threats and vile insults, Granit Xhaka is trying to regain the respect of Arsenal fans who turned on their captain.

It could prove a tough mission for the midfielder, who on Thursday issued an apology loaded with caveats and asked for "mutual respect" after a weekend outburst in the heat of a Premier League match.

Xhaka swore and gesticulated at the Emirates Stadium supporters when his substitution was sarcastically cheered during Sunday's game against Crystal Palace.

"I reached boiling point," Xhaka said in his first public comment on Thursday about the eruption of anger, "when I felt the rejection in the stadium."

That rejection intensified with jeers and Xhaka cupping his ears in response. The Switzerland international stormed straight down the tunnel and tore off his jersey.

Xhaka might have torn off the captain's armband for good. Arsenal manager Unai Emery has been silent over whether Xhaka will keep the honor gained after a dressing room vote ahead of the season.

Four days after the flashpoint, Xhaka is recognizing he has to heal rifts to sustain his Arsenal future after three years in north London.

"The scenes that took place around my substitution have moved me deeply," he said in a statement released by Arsenal. "I love this club and always give 100% on and off the pitch. My feeling of not being understood by fans, and repeated abusive comments at matches and in social media over the last weeks and months have hurt me deeply."

He recounted some of abuse he has received, saying fans have told him, "we will break your legs," ''kill your wife," and "wish that your daughter gets cancer."

Hearing the stadium turn on him in such big numbers during the 2-2 draw with Palace was the breaking point for Xhaka.

"In this situation I let myself get carried away and reacted in a way that disrespected the group of fans that support our club, our team and myself with positive energy," he said. "That has not been my intention and I'm sorry if that's what people thought. My wish is to get back to a place of mutual respect, remembering why we fell in love with this game in the first place. Let's move forward positively together."

Xhaka could discover whether that is possible on Saturday when his fifth-placed team hosts Wolverhampton. That is if he is selected, and if he leads Arsenal out as captain.

"He is feeling the supporters don't like him," Emery said as he considered how to resolve situation. "He was wrong and he feels it inside very deeply. But that is normal as a human."

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News Cricket

Rohit Sharma hails ‘Number one Footballer’ MS Dhoni

Tarun Singh Updated: 13 December, 2019, 1:34 PM IST


India's aggressive opener Rohit Sharma became the brand ambassador of the Spanish football league ‘La Liga’. During the media briefing, Rohit hailed MS Dhoni for his great football skills and termed him as the best football player in the Indian cricket team.

MS Dhoni’s commitment to promoting football game in the country is not hidden from anyone. Former India captain Dhoni, during his extended break from cricket, since India’s exit from the World Cup in England, was seen playing a charity football match with tennis great Leander Paes. Dhoni also played the game with Bollywood star Arjun Kapoor in Mumbai.

"MS Dhoni is the number one football player. There are few guys like Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, and Hardik Pandya they follow football and they do watch all these footballers," Rohit said.

The 32-year-old stated that football is very close to his heart and his favorite footballer is 'Zinedine Zidane’. Rohit Sharma also named ‘Real Madrid’ as his favorite football club.

‘Hitman’, who sees a great future for football in India, said, "I think it has become competitive. The infrastructure has grown immensely. ISL, in particular, has provided a great platform to all these younger Indian players to come out and display the skills just like IPL has done for Indian cricket. I can only see the Indian football grow from here."

"Cricket was my love to start with. Football was very very close to me. Only because it gives me so much joy to watch all these players when they score a goal they celebrate, they make those moves on the field. Those kinds of things I used to look forward to," Rohit further added.

News Cricket

Rishabh Pant is dating Bollywood actress Urvashi Rautela?

Staff Writer Updated: 12 December, 2019, 10:13 PM IST


Rishabh Pant is struggling for runs in international cricket. The young batsman was dismissed without troubling the scorers in the third and final T20I against the Windies in Mumabi. Meanwhile, his name is being linked with hot Bollywood actress Urvashi Rautela after the two went on a dinner date.

The two were seen together before the final match of the T20 series. It is not the first time that Rautela's name has been linked with a cricketer. Earlier, there were rumors that she was dating Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya.

Earlier in January, the Indian gloveman had shared a picture with his girlfriend Isha.

Virat Kohli had backed Rishabh Pant on the eve of India and West Indies series.

"We certainly believe in Rishabh's ability. But I think it's a collective responsibility of everyone around as well to give that player some space to do well. If he misses a chance, people can't shout MS' (Dhoni) name in the stadium as well. It's not respectful because no player would like that to happen. You are playing in your own country and you should get support rather than always thinking what mistake this guy is gonna make. No one wants to be in that position," he had said.

News Cricket

Indians played like tigers against the most dangerous team in this format - Ravi Shastri

Staff Writer Updated: 12 December, 2019, 10:12 PM IST


India beat West Indies by 67 runs in the third and final Tewnty20 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.

Indian head coach Ravi Shastri praised his team's efforts against the Windies. "Well done guys. You played like Tigers against the most dangerous team in this format of the game. Respect," Shastri wrote on Twitter.

News Cricket

Whenever I watch Prithvi Shaw, the young Sachin Tendulkar comes to my mind - More

Staff Writer Updated: 12 December, 2019, 9:26 PM IST


Prithvi Shaw is one of the best young batsmen in India. He scored a sublime hundred on his Test debut against the Windies. However, he was ruled out of the Test series against Australia after injuring his ankle. To make things worse for the young star, he was suspended for eight months for consuming a prohibited substance. The right hand batsman made a sensational comeback in the ongoing Ranji Trophy. He hit the third fastest double ton in Ranji Trophy for Mumbai against Baroda.

Former Indian cricketer Kiran More was mighty pleased with Prithvi Shaw.

"Whenever I watch him, the young Sachin Tendulkar comes to my mind. This fearless brand of batting is common between the two.”

“You look at him bat and you know that he is thinking ahead. That’s how greats like Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Virender Sehwag batted, they pick line very early and are in position to hit the ball.”

More further added that Prithvi has all the traits of finished product.

“He (Prithvi) is a batsman with a very evolved template. Bilkul paka hua player hai (He’s a finished product). I look at him and think he is even good enough to face the bowling greats of the 1990s. It looks like the pitch doesn’t matter to him. Even in this game, till the time he was batting, the pitch looked so easy,” More wrote.

News Cricket

Yasir Shah to work with PCB spin consultant Mushtaq Ahmed

Staff Writer Updated: 12 December, 2019, 9:25 PM IST


Pakistan Cricket Board says leg-spinner Yasir Shah will work with spin consultant Mushtaq Ahmed before the second test against Sri Lanka at Karachi next week.

Shah, who is the fastest bowler to complete 200 test wickets, was dropped for the first test against Sri Lanka at Rawalpindi -- a historic five-day game in Pakistan for over a decade.

Shah struggled against Australia in the last series which Pakistan lost 2-0 after two heavy defeats by an innings margin. He took four wickets for 205 runs at Brisbane and remained wicketless at Adelaide, finishing with a disappointing 0-197.

Shah completed 200 wickets in his 33rd test match last year against New Zealand at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The PCB appointed Ahmed as its spin consultant last week and will work for 120 days in a year at the National Cricket Academy at Lahore.

Shah was released from the Pakistan team in Rawalpindi on Wednesday and will train with Ahmed at the NCA in Lahore before he joins the squad in Karachi next Monday.

The second test will be played at the National Stadium, Karachi from next Thursday.

News Cricket

Labuschagne completes third consecutive hundred with a six

Staff Writer Updated: 12 December, 2019, 9:23 PM IST


Marnus Labuschagne’s third consecutive century helped Australia grind out 248-4 against New Zealand on the opening day of the first cricket test under lights at Perth Stadium on Thursday.

Labuschagne and Travis Head were unbeaten on 110 and 20 runs respectively after the home side elected to bat first in 40-degree (104 F) temperatures.

“It’s great to get us in a position where we can kick on,” Labuschagne said.

Coming in at the fall of opener Joe Burns’ wicket after about an hour, Labuschagne, the newest batting find during the Ashes in England and against Pakistan, batted with huge confidence against a disciplined New Zealand attack that was diminished from the second session by the loss of injured fast bowler Lockie Ferguson.

Labuschagne danced down the pitch and hoisted left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner over the long on boundary for six to bring up his third straight century in his 12th test. He scored 185 and 162 in the tests against Pakistan recently.

Also in his innings, he reached 1,000 career test runs, and remained the most prolific run-scorer for Australia in 2019 with 939 runs (average 72.23) in nine tests.

Since being called up as a concussion substitute for Steve Smith during the Ashes, Labuschagne has grown in stature and matured into a fine right-hander occupying the pivotal No.3 spot.

“(Scoring three hundreds is) something I wanted to do and probably more of a dream,” Labuschagne said. “For it to become a reality it’s a different look.

“You don’t want to take any runs for granted. When you get in you want to make a big score. I enjoy batting at No.3 (because) sitting and watching is draining.”

He has batted for 318 minutes and faced 202 balls, and hit a six and 14 boundaries in his chanceless innings.

Labuschagne and Steve Smith shared 132 runs for the third wicket to see Australia through a period of uncertainty as New Zealand made the hosts work hard for runs after lunch.

While Labuschagne was scoring at will, Smith was uncharacteristically restrained and at times struggled. He took a blow on his fingers as he fended a short delivery from Neil Wagner, and on 19 was dropped by second slip Tom Latham off debutant fast bowler Ferguson.

Ferguson left the field midway through the day for a scan on a strained right calf.

Smith eventually fell for 43 when a Wagner short ball hurried on him and gloved an attempted pull to Tim Southee at leg slip — a well set trap. He faced 164 balls and hit four boundaries in his 188-minute innings.

Taking the second new ball, swing bowler Southee struck immediately when Matthew Wade shouldered arms to a delivery that swung and bowled the left-hander for 12.

Australia lost openers Burns and David Warner before lunch.

Wagner took a brilliant catch off his own bowling to remove Warner for just 43.

Warner was coming off back-to-back centuries against Pakistan, including an unbeaten 335 not out in Adelaide 10 days ago. He stroked four boundaries and faced 74 balls before hitting a full toss back to Wagner, who took a sharp one-handed catch to his right.

On a pitch that offered little assistance to the New Zealand bowlers, Warner and Burns shared 40 runs in the first hour until swing bowler Colin de Grandhomme struck.

Burns, on 9, was adjudged lbw by umpire Aleem Dar, who was officiating in a record 129th test match. Burns failed to review the decision as he hit across the line, but replays showed the delivery missing leg stump.

Australia is unbeaten in six day-night tests.

News Cricket

Mohammad Azharuddin’s son Asaduddin ties the knot with Sania Mirza’s sister Anam

Staff Writer Updated: 12 December, 2019, 9:20 PM IST


Mohammad Azharuddin’s son, Mohammad Asaduddin tied the knot with Sania Mirza’s younger sister Anam Mirza on December 11, 2019. Sania and Azharuddin along with son Asad had met the Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao to invite him for the wedding.

The two started their new innings in a glittering ceremony in Hyderabad. The newlywed couple took to social media to post pictures from their big day.

Posting a beautiful message, Asaduddin wrote, “Finally married the love of my life.”

Sania Mirza had hosted a bachelorette party in Paris and also organized a bridal shower in Hyderabad. Sania's husband Shoaib Malik, who is currently participating in the new season of the BPL, also shared pictures of Anam's wedding.

The biggies of the political, entertainment and sports world will attend their reception.

News Cricket

Dressing room feels empty without you: KL Rahul to Hardik Pandya

Staff Writer Updated: 12 December, 2019, 9:18 PM IST


KL Rahul, who won the Man of the Award for his sublime knock in the final T20I against the Windies, has revealed that he is missing Hardik Pandya in the dressing room. The all-rounder last played for India during the T20I series against South Africa at home in September.

"We are waiting for you to come back quickly, the dressing room feels empty without you at least for me, don't know about the rest," Rahul said while interacting with Hardik after India's 67-run win over West Indies in the series decider at the Wankhede.

"You and (Jasprit) Bumrah are so important to the team. Hopefully, you guys recover and come back soon," he added.

"They (other teammates) are also feeling the same, they told me off-camera," Hardik replied.

Rahul scored 91 off just 56 balls as India scored 240/3 from the allotted 20 overs. In reply, West Indies could manage 173/8.

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.