BCCI claims damages worth Rs 250 crore from WICB

Published on: Friday, 31 October 2014 //
wicb_m The West Indies team abruptly ended the series with an ODI, three Tests and a lone T20 being called off. (Source: PTI)

Left fuming by the West Indian cricketers’ mid-series pullout due to a pay dispute with their Board, the BCCI has slapped a damages claim to the tune of Rs 250 crore (USD 42 million) on the WICB.

West Indies cricket plunged into an unprecedented crisis following the decision of the team to not go ahead with the tour of India following the fourth ODI in Dharamsala and the BCCI’s damages claim could bring the bankrupt West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), which is going through its worst internal crisis, down to its knees.

“I have sent a letter to the WICB claiming damages to the tune of Rs 250 crore (USD 42 million). I have already sent them the letter demanding the compensation for pulling out of the bilateral series despite repeated requests and assurances of helping them out,” BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel told PTI on Saturday.

After the incomplete five-match ODI series, the visitors were scheduled to play in a one-off T20 match at Cuttack followed by Tests at Hyderabad, Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

It has been learnt that the BCCI has given WICB about two weeks time to come up with a compensation plan failing which the Caribbean Board will have lawsuit.

“The BCCI calls upon the WICB to formally inform the BCCI, in writing, of the steps it intends to take to compensate the BCCI towards the losses quantified above as well as those losses yet to be quantified by the BCCI in relation to the cancelled WICB tour,” said the letter, signed by Patel.

It added: “In the event the BCCI does not receive such a proposal in acceptable terms, within a period of 15 days from receipt of this letter, please note that the BCCI has peremptorily instructed its attorneys to initiate steps for recovery of the losses by filing appropriate legal proceedings against the WICB in the appropriate Indian court and you may treat this notice as a formal demand in that regard.”

Patel has sent the letter to WICB president Dave Cameron.

Asked if the WICB, which is virtually bankrupt and is currently one of the poorest cricket boards among the Test playing nations, will be be able to cough up the humongous amount, Patel said, “This is not BCCI or my lookout to see how the WICB arranges the amount. They have to pay up the amount. Period.”

He added, “When they pulled out of the tour did they seek our permission?”

While Patel did not divulge how the Indian Cricket Board will be able to recover the money from WICB, there is a possibility that the BCCI might send a copy of its compensation claim to the ICC.

In case the WICB fails to pay up the said amount, chances are that the WICB’s share of ICC revenue will go to BCCI.

The dispute surfaced at the start of the tour when West Indies played the first ODI at Kochi. The match though took place after the BCCI intervened.

West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo, unhappy after the West Indies Players Association representative Wavell Hinds failed to solve the stalemate related to payment, had indicated the loss of faith in the WIPA.

The BCCI had earlier announced that it would seek compensation from the WICB for losses sustained as a result of the cancelled tour.

Media rights make up the bulk of the losses with the BCCI estimating them at over 215 million (INR) while ticket sales account for 12.5 million and the title sponsorship from Micromax estimated at 10.01 million.

The BCCI also factored in losses incurred in kit sponsorship from Nike (3.05m), team sponsorship (9.6m) and in-stadia sponsorship (7.5m), in the compensation package.

The WICB confirmed it had received the BCCI letter.

The BCCI letter further said: “The consequences on the BCCI of not delivering a scheduled home tour to its members, sponsors, broadcasters and the fans are multi-fold and crippling.

“The BCCI is faced with huge revenue losses, a loss of reputation and is at risk of losing valuable commercial partners. The consequences of cancellation of a committed home tour during the biggest festival season.

“Diwali in India is a monumental disaster for the BCCI. It is during this season that our partners derive the most value from their rights. Our broadcaster had committed to its advertisers during this season and on account of your actions, is facing a severe crisis the effects of which are felt by the BCCI.”

“The BCCI holds the WICB responsible and liable for all such consequences and intends to enforce its rights to seek compensation from the WICB to the fullest extent permissible in law.”

Murray beats Dimitrov, books World Tour Finals spot

Published on: //

Andy Murray’s recent resurgence continued when the Briton qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals by reaching the Paris Masters quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-3 win against Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov on Thursday.

After dropping outside the world top-10 following his US Open quarterfinal exit, Murray began a late push for a spot in the London showpiece event, which features eight of the best players this season.

The eighth seed showed he was up to the task by seeing off ninth-seeded Dimitrov, who is now eliminated from the race for the November 10-16 event at London’s O2.

Murray will take on World No.1 Novak Djokovic for a semifinal spot after the Serbian beat Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-3, 7-6(2) after 92 minutes in Thursday’s late match. “There were no downs really in the match,” Murray told reporters after becoming the fifth player to book his place in the season finale. “Some of the matches that I’ve had against the top, top players I had some periods in the match where my level had dropped off a little bit, and the best players capitalise on those moments. I didn’t have any of them today. I played well from start to finish and I made it very difficult for Grigor.”

Federer beaten

Roger Federer’s hopes of finishing the season as World No.1 took a hit when the Swiss second seed was dumped out of the Paris Masters with a 7-6(5), 7-5 defeat by Canadian Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals on Friday. Seventh seed Raonic served 21 aces to keep alive his hopes of securing a place at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals, for which Tomas Berdych qualified earlier with a 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4 victory over South African Kevin Anderson.

Federer, 33, has narrowed the points gap on World No.1 Novak Djokovic in recent weeks with Serbian Djokovic holding a slender advantage. The 17-time Grand Slam champion never found the key on Raonic’s huge serve and managed to engineer only one break point, in the 10th game of the second set when the Canadian bombed down an ace to fend off a set point.

A superb backhand pass in the next game allowed Raonic to break the Federer serve and he closed out the match to notch his first win against the Swiss in seven encounters.

Earlier, fifth-seeded Berdych, who won on his Bercy debut in 2005, became the sixth player to secure his place in the November 9-16 elite eight-man event in London. After losing the opening set tiebreak, Berdych found his range on serve to level and recovered from a break down in the third set before breaking the 14th seeded Anderson’s serve decisively in the ninth game.

After 3 trial games, Azhar’s son in UP one-day team

Published on: //
Asad with his father. (File) Asad with his father. (File)

Former India captain Mohd Azharuddin’s son Asaduddin will be another star-son to rise this forthcoming domestic season. Asad, who merely attended one week’s trials in Kanpur, was selected in Uttar Pradesh’s 15-member squad on Friday for the zonal Vijay Hazare Trophy to be played in Nagpur.

Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA) secretary Rajeev Shukla said that Azhar was keen on his son — a middle-order batsman — representing UP where he was a MP from Moradabad in the last Lok Sabha.

“Azhar was MP from Uttar Pradesh and he wanted his son to represent this state but as he is from Hyderabad we had asked him to submit NOC (No Objection Certificate) which he did this year. Even Shivlal (Yadav) had told me about Asad. I had told Azhar that his selection will be only on merit. In the trials, he scored handsomely after which selectors picked him in the squad,” Shukla told The Indian Express.

However, in the three trials games, 24-years-old Asad has in fact scored only one half-century. Shukla, however, insisted that Asad’s selection is only on merit and there was no political influence involved.

“I don’t pick the team, there are selectors who saw him and felt he (Asad) should be picked in the team. There is no political influence in it. The boy was picked only on merit,” he added.

Interestingly, a few players like Mohd Saif, who was India’s best junior cricketer declared by BCCI a year ago, is still being asked to play in UP Under 19s. Shukla adds that the selectors wanted Saif and another talented rookie Rinku Singh to take part in the under-19 as their absence will be a big loss in forthcoming games.

“Junior selectors told us that if Saif and Rinku are not there, the team will be weak. We are under-19 champions and we want our team to do well in junior cricket,” Shukla points out.

However, the decision of picking Asad has certainly raised some eyebrows. The left-handed batsman doesn’t exactly boast of big scores, coming into this season. In the last two years, Asad’s highest score is just 54 for India Cements in the Hyderabad league. Asad was also part of the Kolkata Knight Riders second string team two years ago but never made it to the IPL side. Azhar’s eldest son represented Marredpally Colts in Hyderabad, a team that was famous because former Indian batsman VVS Laxman represented them. Interestingly, it is learnt that even UP coach Venkatesh Prasad has not seen Asad play.

Australia in trouble after Younis double

Published on: //

Younis Khan hit a stellar double hundred while skipper Misbah-ul-Haq also joined the run-feast with his sixth Test century as Pakistan tightened their grip on the second and final test against Australia on Friday.

Younis, who hit twin centuries in Pakistan’s comprehensive victory in the first test in Dubai, tormented Australia again with a marathon 213, his fifth double hundred, which helped him pass the 8000-Test run mark in the process.

The right-hander added 236 runs for the third wicket with Azhar Ali (109) and another 181 with Misbah (101) for the fourth as Pakistan declared their first innings at 570 for six and decided to have a go at their opponents in the fading light. They were duly rewarded with the wicket of Chris Rogers (five) who edged an Imran Khan delivery and was caught behind in the penultimate over of the day.

David Warner, who hit Khan for three boundaries in the first over, was on 16 with nightwatchman Nathan Lyon on one at the close, leaving Australia facing an uphill task to save the match. The visitors were still 548 runs behind their opponents who inched closer towards securing their first Test series win against Australia in 20 years. To make matters worse for Australia, wicketkeeper Brad Haddin hurt his shoulder trying to take a catch and left the field for a second time in the final session.

The day belonged to Younis, who lived a charmed life and hit 15 boundaries and two sixes before a Peter Siddle delivery pegged back his middle stump. Mitchell Starc claimed the lone wicket of the morning session when Azhar Ali tickled a delivery and Australia’s stop-gap keeper Warner dived to his left to take a smart catch. There was no respite for them, however, as Misbah joined Younus to milk the Australian bowling attack which looked ragged on the flat track at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium. Even their fielding lacked its characteristic sharpness, best demonstrated by the miserable day Warner endured. Otherwise a brilliant fielder, he first dropped Younis at gully and then missed a stumping opportunity. He could not latch on to a half-chance at slip either after Misbah had flashed at a Lyon delivery.

Younis was lucky when he edged Siddle and the ball fell just short of Haddin, who dived and landed awkwardly on his shoulder. Haddin carried on for another couple of overs before departing, leaving the keeping duties to Warner. He did return after lunch but looked in pain and went off for a second time after the third new ball was taken.

Aided by the reprieves, Younis negotiated the pacemen with aplomb and used his feet against the spinners, often charging out as he did to hit Glenn Maxwell over the long-on boundary. Misbah also helped himself to his third century at the venue before Steve Smith caught him off his own bowling. Misbah’s 101 came off 168 balls and included 10 fours and a six off Lyon.

Brief scores: Pakistan first innings 570/6 decl (Y Khan 213, A Ali 109, Misbah-ul Haq 101). Australia first innings 22/1 in 5.2 overs (I Khan 1/18)

Murtaza tosses it up, gets tail

Published on: //

Having endured a tough time on the field on the second day of the Duleep Trophy final, Central Zone were hoping for a burst from their pacers early in the third morning. With KL Rahul and G Hanuma Vihari denying them again during the first hour, skipper Piyush Chawla had no option but to introduce spinners. Thanks to some tight bowling from Ali Murtaza, South Zone’s innings folded 62 minutes before lunch. The left-arm spinner took four wickets to restrict South’s lead to 103 runs.

As long as Rahul was in the crease, Murtaza decided to bide his time. The Karnataka opener was giving him a tough time, not allowing him to settle down. His departure, failing to read a sharp googly from Chawla, who despite the breakthrough was quite expensive, gave Murtaza the opportunity he was waiting for.

Enter Vinay Kumar. Murtaza went wide off the crease, trying to vary his pace, with the pitch offering very little turn. His idea was to restrict the run-flow. While he managed to keep the Karnataka pacer quiet, Vihari was going after him at the other end, scoring briskly. On the second ball of the 82nd over, Vihari executed a beautiful on-drive off Murtaza to move to 75. But something went wrong with Vihari that same over. On the penultimate ball he jumped out, his head facing the sky and the bat trying to face the midwicket region only to find his timber shattered.

With tailenders on strike, Murtaza began to work on them. His plan was simple. He set up his victims with a couple of tossed up deliveries. Then moving slightly wide, he aimed at the pads of Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun, catching both of them plumb in front. Suddenly Murtaza was richer by three wickets. His last was the wicket of Pragyan Ojha, who gave up surviving the odd deliveries and scooped a simple catch to mid-off.

Murtaza’s is a classic case of new generation of left-arm spinners, who do not quite possess the perfect flight or deceive the batsman going forward, but are value for money when it comes to restricting runs and bowling flatter.

India’s recent crop of left-armers — Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel and Murtaza — are similar when it comes to their bowling style. They all have high-arm actions but the release is flat. The ball almost lands on the sides rather than a tilted seam. Technically, their normal deliveries are no less than an armer. The only difference lying in the pace.

Suarez omission from FIFA list shocks Gerrard

Published on: //

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has criticised what he called FIFA’s political decision not to include former teammate Luis Suarez on their shortlist for this year’s Ballon d’Or award as the world’s best footballer. The list, announced earlier this week, had 23 names on it, but not that of the Uruguayan striker, who was banned for four months by FIFA after biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup in June.

He only returned to football last weekend, playing in El Clasico against Real Madrid for Barcelona, whom he had joined from Liverpool for a fee the English club said was £75 million. “He scored 31 goals and was voted best player in the hardest league in the world,” Gerrard said in an interview with the Daily Mail. “So you tell me how he’s not on the Ballon d’Or list? Incredible. He should be fighting Cristiano Ronaldo for it. That’s a fact. I can’t believe it but that’s politics in football isn’t it?”

Gerrard, meanwhile, is waiting to open talks with his only club about a new contract. “I certainly won’t be retiring this summer,” he said. “I will play beyond this season. We will have to wait and see if that’s at Liverpool or somewhere else. That’s Liverpool’s decision. If they don’t come then I will see what’s out there.” Liverpool have struggled so far this season without Suarez, partly because England international striker Daniel Sturridge has been out injured since the end of August and new signing Mario Balotelli has yet to score a league goal.


“I’m not looking for excuses but there are reasons for our stuttering start this time,” Gerrard said. “We lost a key player, we’ve had a key player injured and other Premier League sides have improved. For me, when you talk about potential in this country, Daniel Sturridge is the player with the most. Ability-wise he is possibly the number one (English) striker I’ve played with, when you talk about speed, sharpness and skill and different types of goals.” Gerrard also has faith in the maverick Balotelli, of whom he says: “He just needs time to score the goals he needs to prove to people he is worthy of staying here. I am not going to judge him after 10 games. To come in after Suarez was always going to be a big ask and he’s not feeling sorry for himself. He is working hard, doing extra shooting sessions.”

One held in SA skipper’s murder

Published on: //

A suspect in the killing of Senzo Meyiwa, captain and goalkeeper of South Africa’s national soccer team, was arrested after witnesses picked him out in an identity parade, police said on Friday. Zanokuhle Mbatha, 25, had been charged for murder.

Soccer star Senzo Meyiwa was hit by a single gun shot to the chest on Sunday night while confronting two intruders at the home of his girlfriend, actress and singer Kelly Khumalo.

He will be buried Saturday and his death has highlighted the phenomenon of gun violence in South Africa, coming just days after disabled track star Oscar Pistorius was jailed for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The National Prosecuting Authority said Mbatha had made a brief appearance in the Boksburg Magistrate court east of Johannesburg. His case was adjourned until November 11. Meyiwa, 27, who also played for professional club Orlando Pirates, had legions of fans in sports-mad South Africa and police, under huge public and political pressure, have launched a massive hunt for his murderers.

Neighbours make right noises

Published on: //
In Pellegrini’s first derby last year, City had won 4-1. (AP) In Pellegrini’s first derby last year, City had won 4-1. (AP)

The Manchester derby was a fixture that filled the blue half of the city with dread during United’s glory years under Alex Ferguson. Now, it’s United fans who are starting to fear the worst when one of English football’s biggest matches comes around.

City are looking for a sixth win in their last seven Premier League games against United when the fierce rivals meet at Etihad Stadium on Sunday. City beat United 4-1 and 3-0 last season and dished out United’s heaviest ever Premier League loss in 2011, a 6-1 thrashing at Old Trafford.

It’s a different story to the period from 1990-2001, when United never lost to City as Ferguson laid the foundations of his trophy-winning empire. Both teams need a win to keep on the tail of undefeated leaders Chelsea, who hold a four-point lead over second-placed Southampton and also play in a derby, against west London rivals QPR Saturday.

City, six points behind Chelsea in third, are going through a poor run of form that continued with a surprise loss to Newcastle in the League Cup on Wednesday. United are in eighth place, 10 points off Chelsea, as they continue a rebuilding job under Louis van Gaal.


After serving his three-match ban for kicking an opponent, Wayne Rooney was due to be back for United this weekend.

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal told reporters on Friday that Rooney would feature, but fellow striker Radamel Falcao would not be available.

“Falcao is still injured,” he said. “Rooney shall play, he is my captain.”

Meanwhile, City midfielder David Silva has also been ruled out for nearly a month after sustaining a knee injury, his manager Manuel Pellegrini said Friday.

The Spanish playmaker was withdrawn after suffering the injury only nine minutes into City’s shock 2-0 home defeat to Newcastle United in the League Cup on Wednesday. Scans have now revealed possible ligament damage. Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Premier League derby with Manchester United, City boss Pellegrini said Silva would be out for “three to four weeks”. The loss of the influential Spaniard comes as a major blow for the champions, who have endured a stuttering start to the season and are third in the table on 17 points, six adrift of leaders Chelsea.

Meanwhile, Diego Costa isn’t the only inspired signing in Chelsea’s attack for this season. Didier Drogba returned to Stamford Bridge for a second spell and faced a tough task reproducing his exploits for Chelsea from 2004-12, when he scored 157 goals in 342 appearances and was always the man for the big occasion. But he hasn’t lost his eye for goal.

Filling in while Costa and Loic Remy were injured, the 36-year-old Drogba scored in each of the last three games, against Maribor in the Champions League, United in the league and Shrewsbury in the League Cup. He also played the full 90 minutes against United and Shrewsbury, despite the games being only two days apart.

‘Virat Kohli is India’s future, support him’

Published on: //
Murali says he supports ICC’s crackdown on illegal bowling actions. (Source: AP) Murali says he supports ICC’s crackdown on illegal bowling actions. (Source: AP)

With the five-match ODI series between India and Sri Lanka starting in Cuttack on Sunday, Muttiah Muralitharan talks about why the absence of Malinga and Herath will give the youngsters a golden opportunity and why Virat Kohli should not be criticized after one bad series. Excerpts

Do you think Sri Lanka have arrived here under-prepared?

I’m not a part of the Sri Lankan cricket set-up. So it would be unfair for me to comment on the team’s preparation. What I believe is that professional cricketers should always be ready to adjust. They can find comfort in familiar conditions. Also, these two teams face each other frequently and know each other well. India and Sri Lanka always play interesting cricket and this time also it should be no different.

Sri Lanka would be without their two best bowlers, Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath.

Batters, usually, win contests in this part of the world. Both Malinga and Herath are fantastic bowlers and match-winners in their own right. But their absence gives the youngsters a big opportunity to prove their mettle ahead of the World Cup. At the end of the day, however, I expect the batters to rule. I feel both sides have enough quality.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be absent for the first three matches. Does this put India in a spot of bother?

Dhoni has always been a huge factor in this format of the game. But even without him, India have some terrific players. Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and others. They can pose a real threat.

But Kohli hasn’t been doing very well recently except for a century in Dharamsala against West Indies.

Kohli is a great player, who has performed consistently. Everyone can have a bad patch. It would be silly to target him for one bad series (in England). Rather, everyone must support him. He’s one of the characters of the game. He’s the future of Indian cricket.

And he would be standing-in for Dhoni.

Kohli is very positive and leads in an aggressive manner. This opportunity will be a part of his learning process.

Are you surprised that West Indies boycotted the series midway through the tour ?

No, not very surprised. This is not the first time that the West Indian players have fallen out with their cricket board. There had been calls for boycotts and pullouts earlier but last-minute interventions had saved the day. But all the while, this was an accident waiting to happen. It happened in India.

There is real apprehension that West Indies cricket might disintegrate.

It would be very unfortunate if that happens. World cricket needs West Indies. They need support, especially from the ICC. Bilateral series are mutual agreements between two boards. But I would like to see ICC’s intervention in exceptional cases.

Do you support ICC’s crackdown on illegal bowling action?

Yes. There are some rules and regulations. If you don’t comply with them, you’re out. It is as simple as that.

From boring to attractive: Hanuma Vihari makes a statement

Published on: //
Vihari didn’t play the semifinal against East Zone and found a spot only after four South players left for India ‘A’ duty. (Source: PTI) Vihari didn’t play the semifinal against East Zone and found a spot only after four South players left for India ‘A’ duty. (Source: PTI)

Seventeen innings, 241 runs at a strike-rate of 86.69 and only one, yes one, hit over the fence in the 2013 edition of the Indian Premier League helped Hanuma Vihari earn the tag of a ‘boring and slow cricketer for the shorter format of the game’.

What next? He returns to the domestic circuit, smashes 841 runs at a staggering average of 93.94, ends seventh on the list of the highest run-getters in the 2013 Ranji Trophy, but fails to find a buyer in the IPL 2014.

Disappointed, not hurt, Vihari wasted very little time and signed up with the Hutton CC to play in the Essex County League in England. A lean 21-year-old left the country with the ‘boring’ tag only to return with invaluable experience and a big accomplishment against his name. The record for most runs for the 150-year-old club in a season. The compact right-hander smashed a mammoth 1,007 runs in the 16 games he played and eclipsed the previous record of 940 runs.

“It was a very different experience. I knew it won’t count for anything but I went there for my career, and experience. I knew I lost something here. I had a U-23 national camp but still I think it (going to England) was an important move,” says Vihari who played in testing English conditions for four months.

A different Vihari was on exhibition when he dispatched the Central Zone bowlers to all parts of the park during the ongoing Duleep Trophy final. It was a pleasant surprise to see the right-hander break the shackles and take the attack to the opposition. Off the mark with a four off his pads, Vihari went on to hit nine more and cleared the ropes convincingly on two occasions during his 97-ball 75.

Unbeaten on 38 at the end of day’s play on Thursday, the Hyderabad middle-order batsman showed more intent in the morning session of the third day. After reaching his 8th first-class fifty, Vihari played the shot of the day. He charged Chawla, reached the pitch of the ball and launched the leggie straight and big. Vihari was cruising in the middle, but the right-hander tried one shot too many and dragged one back on to his stumps while attempting a wild slog off Ali Murtaza’s bowling. A disappointed smash of the bat to the pad, and he made the long walk back to the pavilion. A good 20 or 30 more would have made it a job well done? Vihari feels otherwise.

“I’m not disappointed with the way I got out today. I would have been disappointed getting out in 70s or 80s last year because such shots were not in my game plan. But the type of cricket I played today, I want to continue with it.

“This season I have planned myself to be an attacking player, and being consistent at the same time. I want to play attractive rather than boring cricket. That’s my natural game to be honest. I was curbing my natural game to score runs. I want to be natural and at the same time stay for a longer duration at the wicket,” reveals Vihari.

Vihari didn’t play the semifinal against East Zone and found a spot only after four South players left for India ‘A’ duty. While a good performance to impress the selectors ahead of India’s tour of Australia was on every player’s mind, the youngster was not sailing in the same boat.

“There is no pressure on me because I have nothing to lose and no one expects me to score runs. That’s why I didn’t play in the last game. I played this game, was batting at 6 so I thought to go out and express myself. Just show what I am capable of,” says Vihari.

Even after ticking all boxes in domestic competitions, Vihari is yet to feature in any India ‘A’ squad but is determined to keep performing on a consistent basis.

“Nobody recognizes. Stats show that I have the highest average in the country. In India the competition is so much that you have to keep performing match after match. I am back to my natural game and feel it will help me get back into the reckoning. I played attacking cricket during my tour of England. After missing out on IPL, I have realized that I was curbing my natural instinct to score runs positively,” says Vihari, who was also the member of the 2012 U-19 World Cup winning team.

In the game where the longer format remains the sternest test, Vihari, even after passing it with flying colours, paid the price and was not considered suitable for the shorter formats. He, though, is not losing sleep over the missed IPL opportunity, and is focused on the season ahead.

“My game at Sunrisers Hyderabad was designed in such a way that I was asked to play all the overs. I admit that it was mistake on not playing my natural game. Every experience teaches you a new lesson. Although the IPL season went well for me, I realized that curbing my natural game won’t help my cause. Not getting picked in this year IPL made me realise that people think I play too slowly for T20 cricket. I don’t want to prove anything to anyone but play my natural cricket,” says Vihari.

There was a visible difference in the physique of the youngster who was very lean last year. Deliberate effort to beef up a bit, Vihari says, “I wanted to be stronger and feel confident that I can clear the field. There’s no point playing aggressive cricket if you don’t have the power to clear the ropes. I think now I have more strength, ideas and technique to clear the ropes more often.”

During his first Indian hit after the IPL snub, Vihari made a statement with the rate he scored his runs at. When he returns to the domestic circuit later this year, he would hope to lose the tag boring tag and earn some money in the upcoming edition of the IPL.

I will continue to play the same way, says Manuel Pellegrini

Published on: //
Pellegrini-AP-L The beleaguered Chilean remained defiant, however, in the face of United’s trip to the Etihad Stadium. (Source: AP)

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists he will not change the way his team play despite suffering two defeats in a week and losing playmaker David Silva ahead of Manchester United’s visit on Sunday.

The Premier League champions have endured an indifferent start to the season and Pellegrini has come under increasing pressure after expressing concern over his side’s form earlier this week.

A 2-1 loss at in-form West Ham United on Saturday left them third in the table on 17 points, six adrift from leaders Chelsea, before the defence of their League Cup title ended prematurely with a surprise 2-0 home defeat to Newcastle United on Wednesday.

The beleaguered Chilean remained defiant, however, in the face of United’s trip to the Etihad Stadium, insisting that his out-of-sorts team do not need to change much even if they will be without Silva, who will be missing for up to a month after injuring his knee.

“David is a very important player but I always say the same thing. We have a squad and we have to replace him with another player,” Pellegrini told a news conference.

“I think that we can play faster than we are doing. But still, I remember the games against the Newcastle and West Ham, the best player was their goalkeeper.

“If I think back to a year ago, I was answering the same questions. When we didn’t win away for the first six games — it was the same questions I just answered now.

“I will continue to play the same way.”

Pellegrini got his first taste of a Manchester derby at the Etihad last season and an excellent performance from his side ended in a resounding 4-1 victory.

The City boss indicated that a similar performance in the fixture on Sunday could galvanise his team, as it did last year.

“The game we played here, the first one at the Etihad (last year) was in a moment where I was new here, where maybe there were a lot of doubts about the result but I never changed my mind in the way we have to play against any other team,” he said.

“I remember the exact moment when I told the players to work in exactly the same way. That was an important moment and we really played very well.

“It was three points, like every other game. For supporters it’s a special game and we know that. We know what it means to win against Manchester United.

“It doesn’t depend on what we do in the games before the derby, it’s important for us to play well against Manchester United.

“We are a team and we need top players with top performances all the time.”

Silva will be absent, but City expect to have midfield powerhouse Yaya Toure fit for Sunday.

AIFF reduces ban on Atletico de Kolkata coach Antonio Lopez Habas

Published on: //
isl-habas-L Both the players and the coach were involved in ugly altercations during an ill-tempered match between Atletico de Kolkata and FC Goa. (Source: PTI)

All India Football Federation today reduced the four-match suspension handed on Atletico de Kolkata head coach Antonio Lopez Habas to two games after an appeal hearing pertaining to the breach of disciplinary code during the ongoing Indian Super League.

The two-match bans on players Robert Pires (FC Goa) and Fikru Lemessa (Atletico de Kolkata) and one-match suspension on ATK goalkeeping coach Predipkumar Bhaktawer remained the same as the AIFF Disciplinary Committee did not make any other change in their earlier order of October 25.

Habas, however, will be put under “probation” for two months and if he commits another infringement, he will have to serve the full four-match suspension as prescribed under the initial decision of the AIFF Disciplinary Committee.

Both the players and the coach were involved in ugly altercations during an ill-tempered match between Atletico de Kolkata and FC Goa at Margao on October 23.

“The Chairman of AIFF Disciplinary Committee decided the following today i.e. Friday, 31st Oct 2014 in the review petitions filed by both teams under Article 143 of the AIFF Disciplinary Code against order dated 25.10.2014: Antonio Lopez Habas, Head Coach of Atletico de Kolkata shall serve the suspension of 4 (four) matches as under:- Suspension for 2 (two) consecutive matches of ISL played or shall be played by the team after 23rd Oct 2014, as per fixture of ISL,” a release said.

“Further, implementation of sanction of remaining two matches shall remain suspended for a probationary period of two months from 23rd Oct 2014. During this two months probation period, if Antonio Lopez Habas commits another infringement, the suspension shall be automatically revoked and the sanction applied; it will be added to the new sanction pronounced for the new infringement,” it added.

The fine of Rs 5 lakh imposed on Habas and the two players remains the same.

Habas and Pires were reportedly involved in an altercation in the tunnel when the two teams left for the half-time break in the ATK vs FC Goa match at Margao on October 23. Later, FC Goa coach Zico alleged that former France international and Arsenal legend Pires was punched by Habas during the altercation.

Cricket-Pakistan's Junaid out of New Zealand series with injury

Published on: //
KARACHI, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Pakistan will be without leading paceman, Junaid Khan for the series against New Zealand after he was advised to undergo another six weeks of rehabilitation following his knee injury.

Dhoni is a calm and extraordinary character: Adam Gilchrist

Published on: //
Dhoni also seemed a bit relieved that Virat Kohli atleast had some sort of form going his way. (Source: PTI) Gilchrist did not agree with Ian Chappell’s demand for Dhoni relinquishing Test captaincy and hand over the reins to Virat Kohli. (Source: PTI)

Former Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist today said he did not agree with his countryman Ian Chappell’s demand for Mahendra Singh Dhoni relinquishing Test captaincy and hand over the reins to Virat Kohli.

“I have said it number of times before that I am very impressed with Dhoni right from the moment he arrived into the scene. He is an amazing captain and has won India T20 and ODI World Cups and also India reached the pinnacle by reaching the number one spot in Test cricket,” he told reporters.

Former Australia captain Chappell had said earlier this month that he did not find Dhoni good enough to be India’s Test captain anymore and said it was time to hand over the reins of the team to Kohli.

Dhoni clearly is a strong leader and a quality all-round cricketer, Gilchrist said adding that he is calm and is an extraordinary character.

Gilchrist said Australia will be one of the favourites to win the 2015 World Cup but there could be three or four other contenders.

“I think Australia will be one of the favourites in the start of the World Cup tournament. Don’t know there is one favourite. Any number of three or four teams could win the World Cup,” he added.

Asked about India’s chances in the upcoming Test series in Australia, Gilchrist said all the teams hold the home ground advantage at the moment and that is reflected in the performances of India, England and Australia.

“As of now the teams are maintaining home ground advantage at the moment. You can see Australia, India and England – they have not done well abroad,” he said.

Regarding India he said, “I am sure India and Virat Kohli would have addressed themselves and checked their mistakes, and are ready for the Australian heat,” he said.

Gilchrist further said he did not find any problems with the Indian batting line-up.

“I don’t see any reason why the (Indian) batting line-up shouldn’t be successful. I don’t know the wicket will have steep bounce and do something sideways.” he said.

“However, everything depends on the mental set-up of a team,” he added.

Will the absence of players like Sunil Naraine, if he is not cleared for his dubious bowling action, affect competitiveness in the World Cup to be played in Australia, Gilchrist said the game is bigger than individuals.

“There was a time when Sir Donald Bradman left the scene. Even we have seen Sachin Tendulkar leave the game, but the cricket goes on,” he said.

Earlier, Gilchrist introduced the second recipient of the annual Bradman Scholarship for a talented Indian cricketer to study at the University.

This year’s winner is Alankrit Jangid of Jaipur. Alankrit was a talented junior cricketer who represented his school and Rajasthan state at national schools level as a wicketkeeper and opening batsman.

Gilchrist launched the university’s Bradman Scholarship in his role as the varsity’s Brand Ambassador to India.

The scholarship, named in honour of the world’s greatest-ever cricketer, Sir Donald Bradman, helps Indian students to study in the Australia university.

The scholarship was established to reward Indian students – male or female – who have completed secondary school and who demonstrate a combination of academic, sporting, personal and social skills, as well as strong participation in cricket.

Bayern Munich CEO Rummenigge heaps praise on Borussia Dortmund

Published on: //
bvb-ap-L Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, whose team have snapped up Mario Goetze and Robert Lewandowski from Dortmund in two years and have also set their sights on Marco Reus. (Source: AP)

Borussia Dortmund, languishing in 15th place in the Bundesliga, received an unexpected pep talk from league rivals Bayern Munich, despite icy relations between the two clubs who face each other in the league on Saturday.

Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, whose team have snapped up Mario Goetze and Robert Lewandowski from Dortmund in two years and have also set their sights on Marco Reus, has been locked in a war of words with Dortmund officials for months.

Rummenigge infuriated Dortmund when he publicly revealed the amount of Reus’ buyout clause at Dortmund a few months ago.

Earlier this week Rummenigge had made his latest advance for Reus, saying Bayern “could potentially be interested” in signing the talented Germany international.

The strained ties have also led to the traditional pre-game lunch between both clubs’ bosses to be scrapped.

On Friday, however, Rummenigge heaped praise on Dortmund, saying the Ruhr valley club was still a heavy hitter in the Bundesliga despite their dip in form.

“Even with Borussia Dortmund facing some problems in the league, the league table does alter the importance of this game,” he told the club’s magazine.

“I am certain that Dortmund will easily qualify for the Champions League this season and that is a good thing,” said Rummenigge, a former Germany captain and Bayern striker.

Last season’s runners-up Dortmund, who won the Bundesliga in 2011 and the domestic double in 2012 before reaching the Champions League final in 2013, have lost six of their nine league this season and are 14 points behind leaders Bayern.

They are, however, top of their Champions League group with three wins form three games.

“German football needs stable teams and even though club bosses at both clubs have had better relations in the past, I am saying this with full conviction: I have great respect for Borussia Dortmund.”

“I see Bayern and Dortmund as the engines of the Bundesliga,” he said.

Cricket-Haddin injury adds to Australia's woes, Pakistan on top

Published on: //
Oct 31 (Reuters) - A shoulder injury to wicket-keeper Brad Haddin added to Australia's woes as Pakistan consolidated their position to reach 405 for three wickets at lunch on the second day of the second and final test in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Cricket-Test Series Pakistan v Australia scoreboard

Published on: //
Oct 31 (Infostrada Sports) - Scoreboard at lunch on the second day in the second and final Test between Pakistan and Australia on Friday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Pakistan 1st innings (Overnight: 304-2) A. Shehzad lbw b Lyon 35 M. Hafeez c Haddin b Johnson 45 Az. Ali c Warner b Starc 109 Y. Khan not out 141 Misbah-ul-Haq

Jesse Ryder included in New Zealand A for UAE tour

Published on: Thursday, 30 October 2014 //
rYDER_M Jesse Ryder;s inclusion in NZ A is a positive sign for the Kiwi left hander. (Source: AP)

Aggressive top-order batsman Jesse Ryder was passionate about rekindling his international career after he was thrown a World Cup lifeline by being named in a New Zealand ‘A’ team for one-day matches in the United Arab Emirates next month.

The 30-year-old Ryder has been kept out of the national side after he broke team protocols by drinking the night before a Test against India in February, the latest in a long line of off-field disciplinary issues for the burly left hander.

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said last week Ryder needed to show form on the field and a willingness to play by the team’s rules off it before being considered for the top team again, something Ryder said he was willing to do.

“The passion’s still there to make the team,” Ryder told reporters in Hamilton on Friday. “If I didn’t I wouldn’t be in the ‘A’ team so it’s definitely something I want.

“It’s just a stepping stone isn’t it? Hopefully it’s a good one for me.

“I’ll go over there and just do what I need to do to show that I’m still keen to be a part of it.

“It’s just about slowly getting back involved and stuff like that – and obviously this is the first stepping stone towards it.”

Ryder, who had a successful limited overs county season in England earlier this year, said his fitness was not up to the standard he had hoped but that was something else he would work on before the team leaves for Dubai.

While Ryder’s selection had indicated he was still in contention for coach Mike Hesson’s World Cup squad, New Zealand chairman of selectors Bruce Edgar reiterated what McCullum had said earlier.

“I’d remind people that, at this point, Jesse has been selected for NZ ‘A’, nothing more; nothing less,” Edgar said in a statement.

“It’s an important step for Jesse but it is only a first step and we’re anxious not to get ahead of ourselves.

“Like everyone else in the squad, his future prospects will depend on his performance, on and off the field, in Dubai.”


Ryder’s inclusion in the squad, however, indicated Hesson is concerned at the make-up of his top order ahead of the World Cup with regular opener Martin Guptill struggling against the pace of South Africa’s bowlers in a one-day series last week.

All-rounder Jimmy Neesham was promoted to open with Guptill in what was seen as a trial of his temperament at the top of the order and he displayed some positive indicators but also struggled against the Proteas.

Edgar said the ‘A’ tour was the opportunity for several fringe World Cup players to press their claims for the final squad.

“The squad for CWC 2015 is named on 8 January, so we want to ensure every player in contention is given a chance on the international stage,” Edgar added.

“We need to know we’ve left no questions unanswered.”

The New Zealand ‘A’ team will play World Cup teams Ireland, the UAE and Afghanistan in four one-day matches in Dubai that will dovetail with the limited overs series the top side is playing against Pakistan in the Middle East.

New Zealand face Pakistan in three Tests, two Twenty20 internationals and five one-day matches on their Nov. 3-Dec. 20 tour with matches in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

The World Cup runs from Feb. 14-March 29 in New Zealand and Australia.

UPDATE 1-Cricket-Controversial batsman Ryder gets World Cup lifeline

Published on: //
WELLINGTON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Aggressive top-order batsman Jesse Ryder was passionate about rekindling his international career after he was thrown a World Cup lifeline by being named in a New Zealand 'A' team for one-day matches in the United Arab Emirates next month.

Kerala register season’s first win

Published on: //

In a contest of prestige, spirited Kerala Blasters continued their revival in the league after a bad start by beating Pune FC 1-2 in an away match at Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi on Thursday. Though FC Pune City were clear favourites to win the game, a lacklustre performance cost them 3 points and 5th position in the league.

On the other hand, Kerala blasters, who were high in morale after drawing at Salt lake stadium with ISL giants Atletico de Kolkata, repeated their good performance with attacking football to register season’s first win. Kerala Blasters were dominant in possession from the start of the game and found themselves in the opposition’s half easily. In 8th minute, C S Sabeeth almost opened the scoring for Kerala Blasters when a lucrative cross from Renedy Singh, who played at the right wing, found the striker. However, the ball was punched away by Emanuele Belradi.

Within a few minutes, a quickly taken free-kick by Goossens found David Trezeguet and the veteran scored his second goal of the season for Pune FC with a brilliant volley. As Trezeguet put Pune in front, Kerala spent a restless few minutes as experienced attacking midfielder Renedy Singh and holding midfielder Mehtab Hossain were substituted.

However, throughout these substitutions and a few tense moments, Kerala maintained their domination over the game. Breakthrough came for Kerala, when a superbly taken corner by Scottish Stephen Pearson pierced the Pune defence and fell to the former Auxerre player and captain of Kerala FC, Cederic Hengbart.

Rohit admits he was a bundle of nerves on eve of comeback

Published on: //

India opener Rohit Sharma admitted he was nervous and not feeling confident about his batting on the eve of facing the Sri Lankans in India A’s practice game at Cricket Club of India on Thursday. However, all his fears proved unfounded as the stylish right-hander slammed a brilliant 142 at the Brabourne Stadium.

The 27-year-old was playing his first game after nearly two months, after undergoing a surgery on a finger on his right hand. “I was not feeling confident in the nets, so somewhere there was a doubt on how I would perform. There were a lot of things running through my mind. Will I be able to play a particular shot or not? Will I manage to play cut shot or not? Will I be able to play cover drive or not?” Sharma told The Indian Express, visibly relieved after his comeback ton in the practice game.

Sharma is happy with the way he batted against a decent Lankan attack and says that before going in to bat his intention was only to stay as long as he could at the crease. He wanted to regain his match fitness and more importantly check how he felt about his game.

“It’s not like I wanted to prove anything. I started off slow but I knew that I will take some time to get back into the groove. It’s not easy to bat after such a long time. I was ready to struggle. The way Unmukt was batting allowed me to take my time. I have played lots of games in CCI and I know that if we managed to get past the first eight overs, then the track helps batters,” he added.

India managed a massive score of 382 in 50 overs and Sharma’s blistering innings came in 111 balls which had 18 fours and one six. His innings boasted of all the shots in his arsenal – there were cuts which raced away for fours in the latter half of his innings and Sharma also managed to play drives frequently.

More rest

Post-surgery this was his first competitive game. However, despite scoring a hundred, Sharma has been asked to take 10 more days rest before he joins the Indian team for the fourth and fifth ODI.

Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) picked a squad for Mumbai which will take part in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, which doesn’t feature Sharma’s name. A MCA selector said, “Sandeep Patil is keen that Sharma plays the fourth and fifth ODI so he wanted him to take rest.”Meanwhile, Sharma is planning to take part in a few local games before he returns to national duty.

“I might play a few local games. I always believe that no matter how many runs you’ve scored in your career doesn’t matter. One should always go in with match practice; it is very important. My motto is to go back into the Indian team but at the same time I want to go there with few more games behind me,” he added.

Flush with funds, Australian board ‘never in better health’

Published on: //

Cricket Australia on Thursday reported a strong financial position ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand early next year. Revenue of almost US $262 million is expected to grow to $315 million by the end of this southern summer season, CA said.

Over CA’s four-year reporting cycle that spans from 2013-14 to 2016-17, revenue will climb to a projected $1.07 billion, up from $736 million in the previous four-year period. CA explained that cricket revenue is recorded over four-year periods due to the sometimes significant annual fluctuations in income depending on the teams touring Australia.

The organisation said it has “never been in better health” and will invest $30 million into key strategic projects, including several grassroots programmes around the country. And CA CEO James Sutherland said cricket has never been more popular in Australia.

“From a fan’s point of view, last summer’s 5-0 Ashes whitewash (of England), a world record crowd of 91,112 at the MCG on Boxing Day, 1.7 million people through the turnstiles to watch cricket over the summer and huge average national TV audiences, are measures which all show the Australian public loves cricket,” Sutherland said.

He voiced confidence the ICC World Cup from February to March next year will further lift the profile of cricket in Australia. “I am confident the World Cup, culminating in the March 29 final at the MCG, will be a far bigger event than most Australians expect,” he said.

Second Test, 3rd ton: That man Khan, again

Published on: //

Younis Khan struck his third straight century and Azhar Ali also reached triple figures to put Pakistan in control at 304-2 after the first day of the second test against Australia Thursday. Khan, who made 106 and 103 not out in the two inning in the Dubai test match that Pakistan won by 221 runs, was unbeaten on 111. Giving him company at stumps was Ali, who was not out on 101 and added 208 runs for the unbroken third wicket partnership with Khan.

It was Khan’s 27th century and he became only the second batsmen in the history of Test cricket to score three consecutive hundreds against Australia. The only player before him to do so was England’s Herbert Sutcliffe in the 1924-25 series in Australia.

It was a different Khan on display Thursday. Unlike his usual dour self, Khan scored at a brisk pace, reaching his 100 in just 128 balls with a lofted boundary off Maxwell. It was his 10th boundary of the innings, along with a six. Azhar reached his century off what turned out to be the penultimate ball of day, when he cover drove Mitchell Marsh for three runs. It was his sixth career century and fifth in the UAE.

Pakistan lost a wicket each in the first two sessions of the day, but despite Australia taking the second new ball as soon as it was due in the post-tea session, there was no luck for its bowlers. Khan and Ali scored 146 runs in the 36 overs in the final session, with Ali contributing 74 of them. That was in complete contrast to the post-lunch session when he toiled for just 15 runs.

Captain Misbah-ul Haq won a crucial toss for Pakistan, and they were given a decent opening start of 57 runs by Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez, before offspinner Nathan Lyon trapped Shehzad lbw for 35. He had earlier escaped against the same bowler on 20 when wicket-keeper Haddin dropped a regulation catch. Hafeez was the only man out in the second session, edging a good delivery shaping away from the batsman from Mitchell Johnson into the safe gloves of Brad Haddin behind the wickets when on 45.

Pakistan announced an unchanged team from the one that won the first test in Dubai, while Australia made two changes. Captain Michael Clarke bolstered the pace attack by bringing in Mitchell Starc in place of left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe, while allrounder Glenn Maxwell replaced specialist batsman Alex Doolan, who failed in both innings in Dubai. A draw or a win would give Pakistan a rare series win over Australia. They have beaten them five times before at home, but their last series victory came 20 years ago in 1994.

Brief scores: Pakistan first innings 304 for two in 88 overs (Younis Khan 111 not out, Azhar Ali 101 not out) vs Australia at stumps on Day 1.

Reverse Singh: Pankaj wakes up after tea

Published on: //

Pankaj Singh’s day started with a peach of a delivery. The good length ball pitched on the off-stump and moved away late to beat the Robin Uthappa’s tentative push. Unfortunately for Central Zone, Pankaj couldn’t come up with similar wicket-taking deliveries in the all-important morning session.

The tall pacer either strayed on to the pads or pitched the ball too wide. There were also several over-pitched ball that resulted in four boundaries. Figures of 7-2-22-0 prove that Pankaj didn’t make the new ball count. This resulted in the South Zone openers getting their eye in and scoring briskly on the easy paced pitch.

When Pankaj was taken off the attack, in the 18th over of the game, the scoreboard read impressive 65/0. The next time he was thrown the ball was in the 40th over and by then South had moved to 185/1.

This time Pankaj decided to attack the stumps, but the batsmen dealt with these deliveries without much trouble. Speaking about his tactics after the day’s play, Pankaj said, “It was a flat pitch. There was not much happening off the surface so I decided to attack the stumps. There was no point wasting deliveries around the off-stump which batsman would eventually leave. We wanted to make them play as much as we could but they played really well off the stumps.”

But it was a ball pitched on the fourth stump that got Pankaj his first wicket. The Rajasthan seamer bowled two deliveries around the off-stump corridor to Baba Aparajit and followed them with the one that angled in and straightened enough to find the edge.

Tasting success after 14 long overs, the tall seamer had a spring in his stride. He went on to scalp two more wickets. Suddenly, his figures went from 0/42 to 3/55. Interestingly, the plan that was laid out to get Rahul resulted in the wickets of Aparajith, Dinesh Karthik and Prasanna.

“We knew he (Rahul) was playing well off the stumps so we wanted to try something different for him. The plan basically was to get him out because the ball also started to reverse a bit. We wanted to do something with him because we knew it was that time of the day where there was a chance to pick a wicket or two,” revealed Pankaj.

Rahul senses an opening

Published on: //

Halfway through the second session of the second day of the Duleep Trophy final, South’s opener KL Rahul pushed Central’s leg-spinner Piyush Chawla towards mid on for a single to bring up his century. It was an emphatic knock. In the context of the match, it put South on course to a big — and potentially decisive — total in reply to their opponents’ 276 in the first innings. From an individual’s point of view also it was significant, watched as it was by two national selectors —Saba Karim and Vikram Rathour.

Therefore it was somewhat surprising that the 22-year-old didn’t quite jump out of his skin after reaching the three-figure mark. He, in fact, barely celebrated. An apologetic wave of the bat, and he was back to business. It could be that he didn’t want to be to be content with just a ton, and as it turned out he wasn’t. Having put the helmet back on, Rahul continued in the same vein. By the time he walked back, he was unbeaten on 168 — his highest first-class score — as South took a lead of 32 runs with six wickets in hand.

Combined with the knowledge that he had scored 1033 runs in the last Ranji season, and that the selectors may be on a lookout for a third opener for the long and testing Australia tour, the right-hander seems to have thrown his hat in the ring. It may or may not be enough to merit a selection on November 4, but his name will likely be discussed alongside Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag’s, both of whom watched the youngster’s flawless effort from the Kotla pavilion.

“I am not thinking too far ahead,” Rahul said. “Right now I am enjoying my cricket. Just want to play a big innings and if any opportunity comes, I will be very happy. The only thing I have learnt from my previous innings is to make the opportunity count. Earlier, I used to throw away my wicket after getting set, but now I want to score really big ones,” said Rahul, whose best before Thursday was 158.

He surpassed that by making batting look easy, which was not the case on Day 1 with Central’s batsmen struggling. Or, for that matter, early this morning when Robin Uthappa looked shaky against the new ball. Or, in the afternoon when medium pacer Pankaj Singh triggered a mini-collapse with his reverse swing.

Rahul was in the zone right from the first ball. His balanced stance and still head helped him play the early swing and movement with ease. His batting was uncomplicated. Short ball, backfoot; full ball, front foot. Forget troubling him, beating Rahul seemed like a difficult task for Pankaj and Ishwar Pandey. His classic off drives and pull shots, interspersed with judicious leaves, made it hard for the Central bowlers. What made it doubly frustrating was his propensity to rotate the strike every now and then which didn’t allow them to set him up. In all, Rahul ran 50 singles and 13 doubles and hit 18 fours and two sixes.

The standout feature of Rahul’s innings was his backfoot play. Both Pankaj and Ishwar tested him with short-pitched deliveries, but his compulsive pulling forced them to bowl fuller. They kept a deep square-leg for Rahul, but the Karnataka lad confidently pierced the gap with his grounded hooks and pulls. “Backfoot shots give you confidence. Bowlers immediately keep fielders for me in the deep but I make sure that I keep my shots grounded. I enjoy the duel,” Rahul added.

Out of their depth

Not only the seamers, the spinners too were taken apart. Rahul went on to the backfoot to length balls by Chawla and Ali Murtaza and employed the late cut to good effect. Consequently, the spinners ended up bowling fuller. Rahul then latched on to the half volleys, executing drives to perfection. Off Chawla, he jumped out twice and plastered the bowler for sixes. Later, Rahul even played a couple of reverse sweeps off off-spinner Jalaj Saxena.

“I am generally very positive against spinners. As an opener, I try to survive fast bowlers. So if I miss out against the spinners too, it will be difficult to get a big score. So I generally charge at the spinners and try to play with their lengths,” said Rahul.

In his company, after the initial struggle, Uthappa too flourished. The duo put up 168 for the opening wicket before Uthappa was trapped in front by Saxena at 80. Baba Aparajith, Dinesh Karthik and R Prasanna fell in quick succession to Pankaj’s old-ball guile, but Rahul was unflappable and took the team past Central’s total and then 300.

Finally, a semblance of relief came to Chawla’s team in the form of stumps. The self-effacing Rahul walked with the unbeaten Hanuma Vihari towards the dressing. No celebration still, no wave of the bat. Only a look of determination: that he would come back for more tomorrow.

Brief scores: South Zone 308/4 in 69 overs (KL Rahul batting 168, R Uthappa 80, G Hanuma Vihari batting 38, P Singh 3/55) vs Central Zone 276.

Cricket-Controversial batsman Ryder gets World Cup lifeline

Published on: //
WELLINGTON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Aggressive top-order batsman Jesse Ryder has been thrown a World Cup lifeline by being named in a New Zealand 'A' team for one-day matches in the United Arab Emirates next month.

Powered by Blogger.

Blog Archive



RSS Feed!
RSS Feed!
RSS Feed!