Domestic Calendar: BCCI plans to start Ranji season in December; no Irani, Duleep Trophy this year
New Delhi, Apr 17 The BCCI plans to kick-start its 2021-22 domestic season in September this year with the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament and has also allocated a three-month window to the Ranji Trophy from December after the marquee event had to be cancelled last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Duleep Trophy, Deodhar Trophy and Irani Cup are not a part of the tentative calendar prepared by the cricket operations team. Apart from this, five women's competitions have also been dropped from the roster. PTI has accessed the tentative domestic calendar prepared and discussed at the Apex Council meeting held on Friday. The 2020-21 season was a severely truncated one with only the National T20 (Mushtaq Ali) and ODI (Vijay Hazare Trophy) championships being held in the wake of pandemic. For women, only the National One-Day meet was organised. Amid a second wave of COVID-19 cases across India, the BCCI is still hopeful of conducting the domestic season across age-groups in men and women's categories after a curtailed last season. With India playing the T20 World Cup in October and the mega IPL auctions in the offing next year, it is understood that all stakeholders want to start off with two white ball tournaments -- Mushtaq Ali T20 between "mid-September to October" followed by the Vijay Hazare Trophy in November. Ranji Trophy, India's premier tournament which was cancelled for the first time in 87 years in 2020, has been planned between December and March in the upcoming season. The BCCI has also slotted the U-23 tournaments for men and women along with the U-19 events which weren't held during the last season. The performances in the U-19 One Day Challenger tournament along with Cooch Behar Trophy (days format) and Vinoo Mankad trophy (one day) will help in selection of India colts team for ICC U-19 World Cup next year. Women's T20 as well as ODI Challenger Trophy will not be played along with these events' under-23 versions. The under-19 women's T20 Challenger Trophy will also not be played. Complete Calendars (Tentative) Men Senior Men ======= Syed Mushtaq Ali (T20) (Mid Sept-Oct, '21) Vijay Hazare Trophy (One Day) (November, '21) Ranji Trophy (First-class) (Dec '21-Mar '22) U-23 Men ====== National U-23 One Day (Mid Oct-Nov, '21) CK Nayudu Trophy (days format) (Dec, '21-March '22) Boys' U-19 ======= Vinoo Mankad (One Day) (October, '21) U-19 One Day Challenger (November, '21) Cooch Behar (Multi Day) (Nov '21-Jan '22) Boys' U-16 ======= Vijay Merchant Trophy (Multi Day) (October -December, '21) Senior Women ========= Senior Women's T20 League (October, '21) Senior Women's One Day league (November, '21) U-23 Women ======== Women's U-23 T20 League (December, '21) Women's U-23 One Day League (January, '22) U-19 Girls ======= U-19 T20 League (January, '22) U-19 One Day League (last week of March, '22) Inter Zonal University Cricket Vizzy Tropy (Men) (April, 2022). News source: PTI
Nagoya (Japan), Apr 17 Rahil Gangjee improved from 76 to 71 in the second round but could not extend his stay beyond the second round at the Token Homemate Cup, the opening event of the Japan Tour's 2021 season. Gangjee, who spent a two-week quarantine before getting to play, had three birdies against three bogeys in his 71 as his total of 5-over 147 was way beyond the cut which fell at one-under 141. The tournament has on show two of the most talented young stars in Japanese golf --Takumi Kanaya (67-65) and Keita Nakajima (68-66) -- and are in the fray for the title. Kanaya was the leader at 10-under, while first round leader, Ryosuke Kinoshita (65-68), a friend of Masters champion, Hideki Matsuyama, was second at 9-under, with Nakajima third. News source: PTI
In search of maiden European Tour win outside India, Chawrasia lies tied 5th at Austrian Open
Vienna, Apr 17 Indian golfer SSP Chawrasia carded a superb four-under 68 in the second round to grab a share of the fifth position at the Austrian Open, continuing his pursuit of a European Tour title outside India. The 42-year-old's four wins on the European Tour have come in India with two of them being the Hero Indian Open in 2016 and 2017. Apart from those four, which were co-sanctioned by Asian tour, Chawrasia has won more in Asia. Of his six international wins, only one has come outside India – the Resorts World Manila Masters Open in the Philippines in 2016. He has not won since 2017 At four-under 140 overall here, he is fifth, three shots behind the leader, Alejandro Canizares (67-70). Overall, it was a fine day for the Indians, who after the first day, seemed to be on the edge. Shubhankar Sharma bounced back from a first-round 75 to card four-under 68, which at one stage looked likely to be much better. He was five-under through 11 before dropping a bogey on the 15th to settle for a T-20 finish at the end of day. Chandigarh's Ajeetesh Sandhu, playing his first event outside India since March last year, also made a good comeback after a 77 in the first round. Sandhu added 70 to his first round 77 to make the cut on the bubble at three-over. Canizares at seven-under was leading by one over John Catlin (70) and Martin Kaymer (70) who were both at six-under. Justin Walters (68) was fourth at five-under, while Chawrasia, Max Kieffer (68), Jacques Kruyswijk (72) and Richard Mansell (71) at T-5. Chawrasia, who has missed his last six cuts on European Tour, laughed and said, "No, I did not think about those missed cuts when I started the second round. I was thinking about handling the cold weather. On the first day it was 3 degrees and very cold when I began. "Today it was about 6 degrees and we were joking that we were wearing all the clothes we had brought." The Kolkatan seemed pretty satisfied with how things panned out in the second round for him. "The bogey on ninth was my only mistake and I also had birdies on 13 and 15. It was good to get three of the four Par-5s. That will be the key again on the weekend," he said. "This course has a bit of Delhi Golf Club look in it, especially holes like the 14th and 15th." News source: PTI
Kapolei (US), Apr 17 A late bogey deprived India's Aditi Ashok a third successive 69 as she slipped to the 50th position after a 2-under 70 in the third round of the Lotte Championship here. The 23-year-old had four birdies bookended by bogeys on first and 16th. Her total of 8-under 208 placed her 50th in the low-scoring tournament. New Zealand's Lydia Ko, a former world number one, got into a position for a win as she added a 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the championship. Ko had seven birdies in the round. Nelly Korda, who jostled for the lead with Ko for the entire third round, finished with a 63 and was one shot back. The Kapolei Golf Club has offered very good scoring this week even in windy conditions. Ko has been runner-up twice this year -- first in February at the Gainbridge LPGA and then at ANA Inspiration -- and has 16 LPGA victories and two majors under her belt. Playing on a sponsor's exemption, 19-year-old Yuka Saso, from the Philippines, followed her back-to-back 64s with a 71 and was four shots back in third place. News source: PTI
Lahiri misses cut at RBC as veteran Cink leads by five shots
Hilton Head (US), Apr 17 India's Anirban Lahiri missed a bunch of putts, some inside 10 feet or less, and carded 4-over 75 in the second round to crash out of the RBC Heritage tournament here. Lahiri, coming off a fifth-place finish at Valero Texas Open, made an early exit after a modest first round. Lahiri had five bogeys against one birdie in the round and among the big names, who exited were Patrick Cantlay, Harris English, Sergio Garcia and Kevin Na, all in the top 30 in the FedExCup standings this season. Meanwhile, the 47-year-old Stewart Cink, who won the RBC Heritage in 2000 and 2004, positioned himself well for a third title. He shot a second straight 63 to get to 16-under at Harbour Town. Cink is five shots ahead of Corey Conners. Cink's 36-hole total is a record beating the previous best 129, set by Jack Nicklaus en route to victory in 1975 and matched by Phil Mickelson, who wound up third in 2002. Cink won for the first time in 11 years at the Safeway Open in September and has added five top-20 finishes including a tie for 12th last week at the Masters. Conners shot 64 and was 11 under. Emiliano Grillo (64) was another shot behind. Collin Morikawa, the reigning PGA Champion, was tied for fourth at 9-under with Sungjae Im (65), Billy Horschel (67) and Cameron Smith, who followed his opening-round 62 with a 71. Dustin Johnson recovered on the back-nine to avoid his second straight missed cut. He shot 70-67 and is tied 19 with the help of four birdies on back-nine. News source: PTI
Where I am today is because of people around me: India’s 20 year old cricket star Jemimah Rodrigues
Jemimah Rodrigues is undoubtedly one of the brightest prospects in women’s cricket. At 20, she has already established herself in the Indian women’s team and her infectious positive attitude is endearing not only in the dressing room but also for her followers on social media. In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, India’s top order batswoman spoke about her journey so far, the difficult decision between choosing hockey or cricket, spirituality, leadership and the responsibility that comes with being a role model.
When did you start playing cricket? How important of a role did your father play in those early years of development?
I started playing cricket at a very young age, I think for me as a girl I was never interested in Barbie dolls. I remember my first bat was gifted to me by my grandfather, it was a plastic bat when I was three years old. I professionally started going for practices with my brothers at the age of 4. So cricket started at a very young age for me and my parents have played the most important role. I remember when my relatives used to come home, they used to say “have you lost it, why are you making a girl play cricket” but my parents said that she loves playing, how does it matter whether she’s a girl or a boy. So that’s how cricket started and my dad’s still my coach from the time I started till now. If it was not for him and his perseverance, the dedication and hard work he put in, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It was his dream to see me play for India and today whenever I stand out there I can see the pride and joy in his eyes, there is nothing bigger than that for me.
You were also selected for the Maharashtra U-17 and U-19 hockey teams. Was it difficult to choose between hockey and cricket and what are the factors that influenced your decision?
It was a very tough decision for me because I started playing cricket at the age of 4 but I started playing hockey at the age of 8. Before I was selected for cricket, I was selected for the Maharashtra Under 17 hockey team and then later on Mumbai became a standalone team so I started playing for Mumbai Under 19. My parents actually thought that I was going to make a career in hockey and this was my dream. At the same time I started doing well in cricket and both the sports started clashing. It was getting difficult to manage both with so many tournaments throughout the year. Eventually my dad asked me to make a tough decision, in choosing one of the sports and said that he will stand by me in whatever I choose. I cried a little that day because I loved both the sports but since I had reached a higher level in cricket than hockey we went ahead with cricket.
How do you prepare yourself mentally before a match? Do you have a pre-match routine that you follow?
I do have certain routines but my preparation doesn’t start from the morning of the match, it starts from the day before. The preparations begin from my net session. I am someone who is spiritual so I love spending some quiet time and praying in the morning because it helps me be in the right frame of mind. Apart from that I don’t have any other particular routine.
You were the captain of the Mumbai state team at the age of 17, do you see yourself as a future captain of the Indian women’s cricket team?
Honestly, I enjoy the responsibility of leadership and playing under pressure. That’s when I realize I’m even better because I love taking responsibility. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I hope that one day I will lead India to victory and win the World Cup. I’ve been leading my state team and it’s fun. You get to learn so much as a leader and that’s the thing I like about captaincy, it always keeps me thinking. When I’m the captain, I’m constantly under the pressure of what will the batter do next, what field should I set for the bowler, what should I do next and it has helped me develop my game.
How do you feel about being an inspiration to millions of girls who want to be cricketers one day?
It’s obviously a very good feeling, when you’re doing something you love and you’re able to inspire many more people to take up the sport. At the same time there is a bigger responsibility because I know that I just can’t go out there and do whatever I want. I know there are young girls and boys looking up to me so I need to set the right example and I need to do the right thing consistently and do it well. So in a way it’s a motivation for me that everytime I go out, there are other people watching me who want to take up sports, so I want to be the right example for all of them.
Who have been the most influential people in your journey so far? What role have they played in making you who you are today?
I strongly believe in what my parents have always told me, that no matter what level I reach, I cannot get there on my own. Firstly it’s because of God, because of Jesus that he has given me the talent and the grace to do what I’m able to do. Secondly, it’s the people that God has used in my life to get me to where I am. I can’t name who all have been there because there have been so many people at the right time whom God has used to help me get better. Whatever I am today is not because of me, it’s not my own work. There are so many people involved, coaches, trainers, physios, my friends, colleagues, my brothers and obviously my parents. They have all played an equal and important part to get me where I am today. It helps me realize that it’s important to stay humble. There are times when I want to take the glory or want to be proud of what I have achieved, but what helps me personally stay humble is realizing that I didn’t reach here on my own.
You’re only 20 years old and have achieved a lot in a short span of time. Does the expectation that people have from you weigh you down or drive you to become even better?
It’s a balance of both, I would be lying if I said these expectations never weigh me down. I am a young cricketer, I’m also learning and there have been phases in life where it has been a driving force, but sometimes it is a pressure to go out and do well. I’m learning how to handle these expectations and not take it as a burden but enjoy it. I had spoken to Smriti about this, and she said that expectations only exist for people who have it in them, since you have it in you people will expect and it’s a really good perspective to have. However, it’s easier said than done that we need to enjoy these expectations and pressure and to channelize them to get better.
What are the things you like to do apart from cricket? How did you spend your time when cricket came to a halt during the pandemic?
Cricket is a part of my life but I’m also into many more things like music and during the lockdown I have spent a lot of time with my family. I’m always up to something, I’m someone who cannot sit quietly at home, always having fun, doing some videos and trying to be more creative. I also helped my brothers cook, though I know I’m not good at cooking so the best thing I could do was cut the vegetables. Hanging out with my brothers made me realize that I have not spent quality time with them in so many years. There was also Netflix and all these things going on.
How has the postponement of the Women’s World Cup to 2022 affected the preparations leading up to the tournament?
I think the postponement is a blessing in disguise because we haven’t played much cricket. I think after the World Cup which was in March, we haven’t played cricket till now. The World Cup is a big tournament and you want to be at your best. You want the team to have momentum and that only happens when you play matches and you practice together as a team. We haven’t been playing many matches but now there is a series coming up and hopefully when that happens our team, the Indian team gets back in the groove, playing and winning matches for the country.
The next 50 over women’s World Cup would probably be the last for veterans such as Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami. How important is it to you if the team can win the trophy as a tribute to them?
I think Mithudi (Mithali Raj) and Jhulandi (Jhulan Goswami) have been the face of women’s cricket in India. Even when women’s cricket was not as popular, people knew Mithudi and Jhulandi as legends of the game. Not just for them, but the trophy should be won for every single person in India who has played women’s cricket. Especially for people who played cricket for the country when nobody recognized them and were not given the credit they deserved. We’ll be playing for them and for all the young girls looking up to us and wanting to take up this sport. It’ll be for all of them.
Is there a message you would like to share for all those who look up to you as an example of achieving your dreams?
Firstly it’s very important to have a dream, because when you have a dream there is a purpose behind your practice, your training, your diet and everything you do. The second thing I would say is that just do whatever it takes to achieve that dream. Sometimes you have to sacrifice, go the extra mile, there will be times where you’re trying your best but things are not working out, don’t give up because you’ve come too far. Just keep pushing, keep working hard and one day you’ll be wearing the India blues, singing the national anthem, playing for your country and making everyone proud. Most importantly, enjoy what you do and remember that’s why you started playing cricket.
I want to win the Olympic gold medal for India - 17 year old World Number 2 Samiya Farooqi
It’s always exciting when a future badminton star is coached by the most celebrated badminton coach in India, Pullela Gopichand. Having unearthed the likes of Saina Nehwal and P.V Sindhu, there is naturally a buzz surrounding Samiya Farooqi, the 17 year old World Number 2 in the junior women’s singles charts.
A product of the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy, Samiya spoke about her journey so far, her ambitions for the future, overcoming adversity and dealing with the pressure and expectations in an exclusive interview with SPOGO.
How did your love for badminton begin? When did you feel it’s a sport you can pursue professionally?
My father says that when I was very young I loved going to sports shops and I always had very good hand - eye coordination. I remember watching tennis when I was a little over 6 years old and was fascinated by the sport. I asked my father if I could play the sport and he took me to the Gopichand Academy instead of a tennis academy because he thought that my body was very lean and it wouldn’t be suited for tennis. That’s when I started playing badminton and gradually started enjoying the game. I played the sport for fun until I was 10 years old which was when my coach Gopichand sir called my parents and said that he sees potential in me and that I should pursue badminton professionally.
What role has Mr. Pullela Gopichand played in your journey so far? How would you describe him as a coach?
Gopichand sir is not only my coach but also a mentor and a very big inspiration in my life. I have never seen a coach as hardworking, disciplined and dedicated as him. He puts in a lot of time and effort to not just bring out the best in me but also other players from India. He prepares us to become the best players in the world and I’m very thankful to him for pushing me to become the best. Every title that I win makes him feel that his hard work is paying off and he motivates me to work even harder to win bigger titles. His dedication towards the sport is such that he calls us at 4 am in the morning as he is busy with other senior players later in the day. He has a very good team of coaches who support him all the time. I believe I’m at the Harvard of Badminton in India and I feel lucky to have him as my coach and be mentored in his academy.
Who do you look up to as your idol in the world of badminton and why?
I look up to Tai Tzu Ying from Taiwan. Her strokes are extraordinary and very deceptive, even when it’s a crucial rally or an under pressure situation, she will always play her strokes to perfection and remains calm and composed. I also admire Carolina Marin for her attitude, both of them are the fittest players in the world. I learn a lot by watching their videos and I hope to be better than them one day.
You've suffered ankle and back injuries in the past. How challenging was it to recover from that and get back in the groove?
Injuries are a part of every sportsman’s life but the most difficult thing to get through is the toll it takes mentally as well as physically. I had an ankle injury towards the end of 2019 when I was at my peak and a back injury after the lockdown ended. I had to rest for two months to recover from the ankle injury and three months for my back injury. One of the toughest parts of resting was to control my diet as I couldn’t afford to gain weight. It’s also very tough mentally because a lot of negative thoughts kept crossing my mind such as “Will I be able to move the same way on the court? How hard will it be to get back? All my colleagues are getting better while I’m stuck with an injury” and so on. Whenever I got these kinds of thoughts I would speak to my parents and feel much better and more focused to recover faster. One of the most challenging aspects is the physical training after an injury, the body loses a lot of muscle after so many weeks of rest and it was tough to get my fitness back but thanks to my coaches they helped me get back on court faster.
Tell us more about your accomplishments so far and what do you hope to achieve in the future?
The major titles I’ve won are the Junior Asian Badminton Championship Under 15 and the Under 19 Bulgarian title. I have also won silver and bronze medals at International Under 15 level and many national titles. Since I have only just begun competing at the senior league, my current goal is to get into the top 100 of the world rankings and then gradually progress to top 50, top 10, top 5 and eventually become the world number 1. My ultimate goal is to win a gold medal at the Olympics and win many more super series titles to become the best women’s singles player in the world.
How challenging has it been to continue training amidst the pandemic?
Not only in India but the whole world was under lockdown for a few months because of the pandemic and my training stopped as a result. Even though I was doing online workout sessions with my trainers, it still wasn’t enough. Once the lockdown lifted, we started practicing again while taking all the necessary precautions but it was a challenge to get back on the court fitness wise. After a few days I suffered a back injury, so 2020 was a very tough year for me as well as many other athletes due to the pandemic.
How do you deal with all the pressure and expectations you have at such a young age?
There is always some pressure while playing. When I was a junior player, I didn’t really experience any pressure as I was doing well but when I progressed to bigger tournaments I started to feel more pressure. Even though my coaches and parents have never put any pressure on me and have only wanted me to give my best on the court, I have high expectations from myself and feel the need to perform in every match. Whenever I feel a lot of pressure, I meditate and pray because it helps me feel relaxed. My father says that winning and losing is a part of the game and I also believe that some pressure is good because it helps me be alert and play aggressively on court. I’m told I play well under important pressure situations in the match, so it works well for me.
How much of a leap has it been in the transition between junior and senior level tournaments?
The transition from junior to senior level has been pretty smooth. When I won the Under 13, I was made to play the Under 15 and when I won the Asian Championship Under 15, I was made to play the Under 19. I almost jumped past the Under 17 and when I started winning the Under 19 at the age of 16, Gopi sir told me to stop playing at the Under 19 level and shift to the senior level. I was a semifinalist in the National Senior Ranking in Pune and also at the Bangladesh International in Women’s Singles but lost a crucial year because of the pandemic. I’m 17 now and my target to be in the top 100 or even top 50 has been delayed because of a year being lost due to the pandemic. I’m hoping to get there this year provided we get to play in tournaments and my fitness level is good with no injuries.
Padikkal has few things to iron out but he is a great talent: Brian Lara
Mumbai, Apr 17 Devdutt Padikkal needs to "iron out" a few technical things but the legendary Brian Lara is confident that the Royal Challengers Bangalore left-hander would better his performance during this IPL with a few Man of the Match awards. The 20-year-old Padikkal was one of the finds of the last IPL, scoring 474 runs with five half-centuries and contributing handsomely to RCB's campaign. This year, he missed RCB's opener as he was recovering from a bout of COVID-19 virus and scored 11 in his first appearance, against Sunrisers Hyderabad. "He's (Padikkal) such a great talent. Last year, he got a couple of (5) fifties, he batted well, he supported Virat Kohli very well," Lara told Star Sports' Select Dugout Live Feed. Lara is hopeful that Padikkal has worked on his game in the last five months and the improvements will be there for everybody to see. For the record, he has scored more than 700 runs in the Vijay Hazare Trophy for Karnataka. "A few little things to iron out. I hope he did that in the break and comes back really storming hard for this IPL," Lara said. "What I want to see in 2021 IPL is for him to go on and get a few man of the matches and get a couple of triple figures under his belt. Such a great little player," Lara added. News source: PTI
Indian fighters have everything it takes to make it to the top
Specializing in Muay Thai, Somesh Kamra’s knowledge of hand to hand combat is unrivalled. With his close association with UFC India, his insights about the sport are featured on Sony Sports Network’s The Ultimate Guide to UFC and Pit Stop.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, he discussed the growth of combat sports in the country, the challenges faced by Indian athletes, the potential and talent of fighters as well as the growing popularity of UFC amongst women.
What is your view on the potential of India as a market for combat sports?
India has a massive scope for combat sports. We are known as a peace-loving nation, but look at the history of India. It's filled with violence and war. India has a rich culture in combat warfare, an art that is instilled in most of us. The cultural diversity of the country only helps us mentally and physically to adapt to the world of combat. India also is home to some of the oldest martial arts in the world such as Kalarippayattu. In the modern times, with evolution and global digitization, India has an opportunity to showcase their skills to the world.
What are the challenges faced by Indian combat sports athletes? How can they overcome these challenges?
I personally believe the Indian athletes have all the facilities to showcase their skills to the world and prove a point. But bureaucracy and sympathy has somehow been instilled into us. At this point in time, the Indian fighters have absolutely everything to make it to the global stage. Look what we did with Bharat Kandare, who became the first Indian to fight in the UFC. A bunch of other fighters from our stable fight in One, Brave etc. In fact, there are so many promotions right now for amateurs and professionals in India to get a footing at before setting their eyes on the larger stage.
Combat sports, especially Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is growing in India, how can the sport gain popularity in a cricket crazy country like India?
We need to understand that cricket has been played and practiced in India for over 100 years now. MMA comparatively is a very new sport and has only picked up steam in the last 10 years. However, statistically, it is the fastest growing sport in the world. According to BARC, 100 million Indians viewed the UFC in 2019 alone. That’s a massive jump from the previous years. Infact, MMA as a sport has overtaken racing and tennis in India. It shows the potential this sport has for a country as diverse as India. There’s no touching cricket, but the No. 2 is up for grabs.
India has many talented MMA fighters such as Abhay Singh Shirole, Abhijeet Petkar, Abhijit Das, Abhilash Raut to name a few. What is the potential that you see in India in terms of the caliber of fighters it can produce?
Let's speak of the recent crop – Ritu Phogat, Bharat Kandare, Sumeet Khade are all great fighters contracted in various top promotions. I feel we are going to see an Indian champion within 3 years in a foreign promotion.
What sort of development is required for Indian combat sports athletes to compete and succeed at the International stage?
A good gym. A good team. Fighters' loyalty. These are the 3 things needed to get any fighter to the top. We have it all in India. Luckily, we also have a good amateur sector coming up. That’s the basics to groom a future champion from this country.
Women contribute a sizable 44% of the UFC audience. What makes combat sports such a gender agnostic sport?
Fighting is in our DNA. We cannot remove the fact that we were animals many years back, but the primitive instinct of fighting can never be taken out of us. It’s a well known fact, people love to watch fights. It's inbuilt. I'm not surprised that 44% of the audience that watch the UFC are women. At my gym – Superhuman Gym, we have plenty of women that come to train in boxing and jiu-jitsu.
T20 World Cup preparations are on right track: Babar Azam
Karachi, Apr 17 His team's frequent batting collapses in the T20 series against South Africa notwithstanding, Pakistan captain Babar Azam has said preparations for this year's World Cup in India are on the right track. Babar, who led Pakistan to their first-ever T20 series win in South Africa and also captained his side to a 2-1 victory in the ODI series, on Friday said he was satisfied with the performances of his players. "Yes, it is frustrating that our middle and lower-order batsmen couldn't perform to expectations, but cricket is a team game and not everyone can perform in every match," he said after the match in Centurion. Babar, who saw Pakistan clinch another tight last over win over South Africa in the fourth and final T20 match, said the batting collapse was disappointing. "It is always difficult for those coming in after the top-order batsmen get out. I think we just needed one partnership to settle things, but that didn't happen," he said. From 98 for one, Pakistan lost seven wickets before reaching the target of 145. Pakistan won the four-match T20 series 3-1 but in two matches, they somehow scampered to victory in the final over against a depleted SA side. "It's great to win both the white-ball series in South Africa and this will give us lot of confidence for the coming matches. "The series has helped us try out different combinations and I think we are on track in our preparations for the World T20 Cup, by which time we will have our squad ready for the big event," Babar said. He admitted that the form of some batsmen was a cause for concern. "I think as a team we did well, we supported each other and the bowlers also staged some strong comebacks in the series although we couldn't take early wickets," he added. "The more you are successful against good opposition and in different conditions it helps you develop and become a better batsman." News source: PTI
Chahar feels 'good' answering 'that critic', earns praise from Natl head coach Shastri
Mumbai, Apr 17 Deepak Chahar is deadly when he gets help from conditions but even more menacing when someone tries to deflate his confidence like a random troll did after an indifferent first IPL game. Chahar's best IPL performance 4-1-13-4 also included 18 dot balls and also earned rich praise from national head coach Ravi Shastri. "Proven fact. Genuine swing both ways with control can undo the best. Super variations. Brilliant," Shastri tweeted. The cricketers often say that they are not bothered by criticism on social media but on the contrary Chahal cited an instance where a random fan wrote on his social media page that CSK should "drop him" from the next game."Expectations are high here and you have to perform in every game. so this is for that man, who made the comment, if I would not have played, this performance might have not come," Chahal told IPL's official wesite. Chahar, on his part, admitted that the help off the pitch was advantageous for him. "Looking at today's wicket and today's performance, I must say that Wankhede is my favourite ground because you get help in the starting (from the pitch)," Chahar told IPL's official website. "But it was not the case in the previous game that we played (against Delhi Capitals) was a high-scoring one, that time there was no swing or seam. Yes, there was help today from the wicket and so this is one of the favourite grounds," said Chahar, who plays domestic cricket for Rajasthan. After an indifferent last season, Chahar is satisfied as he looked in fine rhythm with Dhoni bowling him out within the first 10 overs. "It was a good feeling. It (the spell) came at an important time as we needed to win this game. "It was thus necessary to provide a good start and this was an important match for us and I am very happy that I could contribute to the team's win," Chahar, who returned with figures of 4/13, said in an interview aired on IPL official website. The seamer said that there are always multiple plans in place but always the primary strategy is to get some swing and off the pitch movement first up. "After the first few matches were high-scoring, there were a lot of meetings about what I needed to do in this particular over and set the field accordingly. "But in the last game, I got a bit of support. But today (on Friday night) plan B, C wasn't needed and the plan A worked. So the meetings that we had might help us in the upcoming matches," he said. News source: PTI
KKR look to overcome middle-order muddle, return to winning ways against RCB
Chennai, Apr 17 The misfiring Kolkata Knight Riders will look to bring their campaign back on track when they take on table-toppers Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL here on Sunday. In the battle between the world's two best white-ball captains, Eoin Morgan and Virat Kohli, the Bengaluru franchise will hold a slight edge over Kolkata after its two wins from as many outings. Known for his tactical nous and man-management skills, the World Cup-winning English skipper will be keen to bring KKR back on track after a familiar middle-order collapse cost them the game against Mumbai Indians. After two ordinary seasons, the purple brigade started its campaign in an emphatic fashion, ticking all the boxes against Sunrisers Hyderabad. But against their nemesis MI, KKR middle-order collapsed in an inexplicable fashion to suffer their 12th loss from 13 matches. Morgan's astute captaincy in using his bowling resources was the highlight as KKR had bowled out MI for a modest 152. In his new role of bowling at the death, Andre Russell has taken six wickets at an impressive average of 7.83, but has failed to deliver with the bat. With 14 runs from two matches, the big-hitting Jamaican has looked a shadow of his past. Vice-captain Dinesh Karthik, too, will be under pressure to deliver after his painstaking stay in the middle in the last game. While Nitish Rana has impressed the most in batting, their star opener Shubman Gill has faltered after impressive starts, and KKR would hope the youngster fires in the coming days. On a slow Chepauk deck where batting at the death has been a concern, KKR's bowling has been a revelation with Morgan cleverly using his resources. Against the star-studded RCB who are yet to fire in unison this season, KKR's bowling would once again look to make an impact. It would not be a bad idea to bring in left arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav in place of veteran Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who has bowled just the opening over in each of the two matches. Boasting a famed batting line-up in Kohli, AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell and the talented youngster Devdutt Padikkal, RCB are yet to perform to their full potential. But it did not matter much as RCB have won both their matches with new signing Maxwell holding fort in the middle and the likes of Shahbaz Ahmed and Harshal Patel making the difference in bowling. Bought for Rs 14.25 crore in the 2021 auction, Maxwell has bounced back from a poor last season in the UAE. On a difficult batting wicket, Maxwell's 59 -- his first IPL half-century since 2016 -- was the cornerstone before Bengal left-arm spinner Shahbaz turned it around against SRH in the 17th over, taking three wickets for one run. In their first match, Harshal Patel's five-for set it up before de Villiers' 48 sealed a two-wicket win over defending champions MI. Kohli will be keen that his star-studded batting fires in unison against KKR. Teams (from): Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (capt), AB de Villiers, Devdutt Padikkal, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj, Kane Richardson, Washington Sundar, Pavan Deshpande, Joshua Philippe, Shahbaz Ahamad, Navdeep Saini, Adam Zampa, Kyle Jamieson, Glenn Maxwell, Rajat Patidar, Sachin Baby, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Dan Christian, KS Bharat, Suyash Prabhudessai, Daniel Sams and Harshal Patel. Kolkata Knight Riders: Eoin Morgan (capt), Dinesh Karthik, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Tim Seifert, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Shivam Mavi, Lockie Ferguson, Pat Cummins, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Rahul Tripathi, Varun Chakravarthy, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Harbhajan Singh, Karun Nair, Ben Cutting, Venkatesh Iyer and Pawan Negi. Match Starts: 3.30pm. News source: PTI
IPL 2021 - Chahar's charismatic spell guides CSK to a 6 wicket win against PBKS
Chennai Super Kings registered a stunning comeback in their second game of the season thanks to Deepak Chahar's magical spell, to outplay Punjab Kings by 6 wickets on Friday at the Wankhede stadium.
After a disappointing loss at the hands of Delhi Capitals in the first game, the Dhoni led side walked onto the field with an unchanged team for their second match. KL Rahul & Co. too remained unchanged after a thrilling win in their opening game against Rajasthan Royals.
Having asked to Bat first, the KL Rahul led side endured a major batting collapse as Punjab had no answer to a fiery opening spell bowled by pacer Chahar. His miserly four wicket haul of 4/13 ensured Punjab finished at a below par total. Chahar got rid of opener Mayank Agarwal (0) Chris Gayle (10), Nicholas Pooran (0) along with Deepak Hooda (10) in one of his most remarkable outings at the IPL. Youngster Shaharukh Khan played a gritty innings of 47 to save Punjab from a double digit total humiliation at the batting friendly Mumbai track and took the final score to 106/8 in their 20 overs.
Chasing a target of 107, CSK were deprived of a solid start as seamer Arshdeep Singh got better off the CSK opener Ruturaj Gaikwad (5) cheaply. Mohammed Shami too finished with impressive spell of 2/21 dismissing the Suresh Raina (8) and Ambati Rayudu (0)
Despite that, the yellow Brigade remained in control of the innings courtesy of Faf du Plessis unbeaten 33 and Moeen Ali 46 run knock to hand their Skipper MS Dhoni the gift of victory in his milestone, 200th IPL game for the Chennai Super kings. The three time champions chased the target within 15.4 overs with 6 wickets to spare and recorded their first win of the season.
COVID has robbed us of the freedom to train as per our plans: Srikanth
New Delhi, Apr 17 The COVID-19 pandemic has "robbed" athletes of the freedom to train as per their convenience ahead of the all-important Olympic Games, says India's ace shuttler Kidambi Srikanth. Going through multiple COVID tests and living in a bio-bubble have become the new normal for international athletes and Srikanth has experienced it all in the last few months. "Things are not as smooth as they were before, this bio bubble and everything are little complicated to deal with and then with false positives happening, it becomes even more tricky," Srikanth told PTI in an interview. "You can't complain if you get a positive result because you don't know if it is actually a false positive, So things are very tough now." Srikanth, a former world number one, was left with a bloodied nose after going through multiple COVID tests ahead of the YONEX Thailand Open earlier this year. After that, he had to withdraw from Toyota Thailand Open and stay confined to his hotel room in Bangkok for a week after his roommate and fellow shuttler B Sai Praneeth tested COVID-19 positive, which later turned out to be false. "I feel we have lost the freedom to train according to our timings. It's been robbed. In the pre-COVID days, I could go to the gym when I wanted but now I have to go when I am provided a time. You cannot prepare the way we did before," he said. "I couldn't play more matches in Thailand. I had to play World Tour finals straightaway without practice. In All England, I couldn't train as some players tested positive. So things didn't work my way. "But you can't think too much about these things because you can only do what you have in your hand. You just have to adjust and live with this for the next 5-6 months at least." He is hoping to secure an Olympic berth with good outings in the last three qualifiers. One area where the Indian feels the Badminton World Federation (BWF) can have a look is food. "Food is something which BWF should look into. I understand it is tough to give everyone what they want but they can take a little more care, may be a little bigger menu to select from," he said. "The first 3-4 days in All England when we were not allowed to go out, there were not too many options, there was no rice options." The 28-year-old Indian is now solely focused on his performance in the last three Olympic qualifiers, starting with the India Open, which is scheduled to be held behind closed doors in the national capital from May 11 to 16. "Initially there were many events now just three Olympic qualifiers and I just hope that these three tournaments happen. The lockdown helped me to work on myself and I am feeling much better now physically," said Srikanth, a quarterfinalist at 2016 Rio Games. "I played three close games in the World Tour finals. I think probably one win against a top player will give me that confidence. so I have three more tournaments to prove myself." Srikanth is placed 20th in the Race to Tokyo ranking and holds the 14th position in world ranking. A finalist at the 2019 edition of India Open, Srikanth is "not sure about the rules about the rankings anymore." "For me, it is about doing well in the three events. If I play in the three events I will be in the Olympics. It is not a very big ask," he said. "I probably have to play a semifinal or a couple of quarterfinals. I'm actually feeling very good about my physical condition at the moment, so it is about going there and giving my best." Srikanth had dominated the circuit in 2017, winning four titles with his attacking game. But it seems he has lost some of his aggressive play of late. "I was just injured and with that comes limitations but I am feeling much better now," he signed off. News source: PTI
Delhi Capitals hold edge over Punjab Kings as Nortje set to replace Tom Curran
Mumbai, Apr 17 Delhi Capitals skipper Rishabh Pant will aim to display better tactical acumen in Catch-22 situations against a 'blow-hot-blow-cold' Punjab Kings in what promises to be a battle of brittle middle-orders in an IPL match here on Sunday. Both teams are coming into the 'Norther Derby' of IPL after enduring defeats in their previous games but Delhi Capitals are definitely a better side on paper. Pant, relatively inexperienced in terms of IPL captaincy, lost the plot in the last game where he didn't finish his best bowler Ravichandran Ashwin's quota and instead used Tom Curran's friendly medium pacers. As coach Ricky Ponting pointed out, he would expect a better "on his feet" thinking from the young captain. The likely addition of Anrich Nortje in the playing XI will only bolster Pant's bowling attack which lost its bearings during the last match with Curran's lack of pace on a slow track being cannon fodder for Chris Morris and David Miller. Punjab Kings, on the other hand, suffered an inexplicable batting collapse against Chennai Super Kings with Deepak Chahar's extra bounce and slight seam movement causing the damage. This was after a healthy 200 plus total in the opening game. The nature of the Wankhede track is posing a few questions under lights for top-order batsmen as the last two games have shown with underlying moisture aiding quality fast bowling. So KL Rahul versus Kagiso Rabada and Chris Woakes bowling to Chris Gayle could be as enticing as Prithvi Shaw encountering the guile of Mohammed Shami and Shikhar Dhawan trying to unsettle a disciplined Arshdeep Singh. Jaydev Unadkat and Rajasthan Royals have shown that despite massive improvements, there are still some chinks in Shaw's armoury and Arshdeep could be used to expose that. Both teams are top heavy in batting with DC dependant on Shaw, Dhawan and Pant for doing the bulk of scoring while the same job profile is held by KL Rahul, Chris Gayle and Deepak Hooda in the Punjab line-up. Even the weaknesses of both the teams are pretty similar. If Ajinkya Rahane's lack of power-hitting and Marcus Stoinis' indifferent show is affecting the DC middle-order, Mayank Agarwal's prolonged bad-patch coupled with Nicholas Pooran's susceptibility to short balls over his shoulder are not great news for Punjab either. The middle-orders' struggles in both the dugouts will make it an engrossing contest with DC bowlers expected to hold sway in Nortje's presence. In case of Punjab Kings, save Mohammed Shami, the two high-priced pacers -- Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith -- haven't exactly set the stage on fire. Neither has Murugan Ashwin, a mystery spinner who has done nothing of note that would force Pant and Ponting to have sleepless nights. Anil Kumble and Rahul may like to think of Ravi Bishnoi as an option but they also need to factor in the shorter boundaries in Mumbai, which can devastating for wrist spinners if their length is haywire. Teams Punjab Kings: KL Rahul (c & wk), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Mandeep Singh, Prabsimran Singh, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Sarfaraz Khan, Deepak Hooda, Murugan Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Harpreet Brar, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh, Ishan Porel, Darshan Nalkande, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Jhye Richardson, Shahrukh Khan, Riley Meredith, Moises Henriques, Jalaj Saxena, Utkarsh Singh, Fabian Allen, Saurabh Kumar. Delhi Capitals: Rishabh Pant (c & wk), Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Chris Woakes, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Amit Mishra, Lalit Yadav, Pravin Dubey, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Ishant Sharma, Avesh Khan, Steve Smith, Umesh Yadav, Ripal Patel, Vishnu Vinod, Lukman Meriwala, M Siddarth, Tom Curran, Sam Billings. Match Starts: 7:30 pm. IST. News source: PTI